Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The NDP's False Confidence

Dan Olson, BC

I believe Quebec will abandon the NDP in favour of the LPC.  Mr. Mulcair isn't their kind of leader, Mr. Trudeau is - Justin walks like he talks and he talks like a Canadian. 

There is a false confidence within the NDP.

In 1988 the NDP achieved a record number of seats under Mr. Broadbent, in the next election in 1993 under Ms. McLaughlin they lost party status due to lack of seats. I say they learned nothing and are doomed to repeat that history. Ms. McLaughlin was no Mr. Broadbent and Mr. Mulcair without any doubt is no Mr. Layton. 

The Neo-NDP alienate much of their traditional base kissing separatist ('behind') with such things like the Sherbrooke Declaration and their tardiness in opposing the proposed Quebec Charter of Values.

The only way to get rid of the Harper Cons is by increasing Mr. Trudeau's broad support and then making sure those people get out on e-day to vote LPC. A vote for the NDP will be a vote for status quo not change. They have peaked with no room to grow, only shrink. 

For the first time in history a federal party looks capable of going from 3rd party to governing party. I look forward to being a part of this positive and fun moment in history. I invite people to join me under the Big Red Tent, we have room for all respectful people, including those with minority opinions. Go and sign up now!

Dan is a long time human rights activist specializing in labour issues. He joined the LPC following the NDP defeat of the Martin minority government that unnecessarily cost Canada such great legislation as the Kelowna Accord. In 2008 Dan was the proud LPC candidate in the BC riding of Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission.

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Quebec Religious Freedom Crisis Mobilizing Charter Rights Advocates

Our friends over at the Indus Global Policy Institute have had expressed much concern over the growing crisis in Quebec over Charter and religious rights.  Here's a link (and the full transcript):

Ethnic Vote Pandering Runs Headlong Into Quebec Headgear “Iceberg” for Gov’t and Opposition

Justin Trudeau addresses a diverse crowd in Richmond BC
Pandering for “ethnic” votes appears to be a full time hobby of many Canadian politicians – and often it leaves the New Canadian (or visible minority) communities confused and perplexed.  The parties’ policies often contradict the glad-handing, event-attending, samosa and egg-roll munching public visages of their multicultural-vote-getting-MP proxies.  Parties still attempt to use the old-school method of appeasing so-called “community leaders” to try to win swaths of “ethnics” – even if that party’s actual policies are detrimental to the very group they are reaching out to.
Nowhere is this issue playing itself out more dramatically than the recent moves in Quebec to ban the wearing of religious headgear in public places.  Three politically key minority communities – of interest to all parties as potential electoral ‘game-changers’ in many urban/suburban ridings – are the targets of this clearly racist policy: Sikh, Jewish, and Muslim Canadians.  Recent cases of discrimination against youth of Muslim and Sikh religious backgrounds have drawn public attention to the matter.
Certainly the Prime Minister would stand against policies which promote fear and xenophobia?  Perhaps Mr. Harper’s party’s historical stance on such issues precludes them from such ‘lofty’ and selfless ideals, but what about the Leader of the Official Opposition?  Certainly Mr. Mulcair’s NDP would seize this opportunity to point out Emperor Harper’s lack of clothes?  Social justice matters are supposedly key parts of NDP policy, but perhaps they threw that part out along with the definition of their party during their last national convention?
Nothing but the proverbial ‘crickets’ from the parties representing the two largest groups of MPs in Parliament.  Not even ‘token’ sympathy from their ‘visibly ethnic’ MPs of Sikh, Muslim, or Jewish descent.
Only ONE national political Leader stood up for the offended minorities.  Mr. Trudeau wasn’t just speaking his own convictions, but reflecting values of his party from before the days of his father’s recognition of multiculturalism as a key component of Canadian society.  He was also reflecting a strong desire to protect basic Charter rights – fundamental human rights.
To say the proposed Quebec policies (with multi-party backing) are hurtful to minorities is an understatement.  The very identity of some very religious citizens is being challenged.  Their right to worship as they please – without impacting anyone around them – is clearly being attacked, in what is being touted as an issue of creating an “equal” society.  Proponents claim the policy will ensure no-one is singled out, or allowed to influence others with the symbols of their religion.  But, what if the religion is symbolic in it’s very nature?  What if the symbols of the religion define the very person wearing them?  Denying the symbols to these believers is denial of the right to practice their religion freely.  Worse, this policy attracts all the haters and racists who have been chomping at the ‘bit’ to practice their intolerance.
So why would the Harper Conservatives have nothing to say about this matter?  One has to look into that party’s history to understand.  The precursor to the Conservative Party – the Reform Party – was the most (and only) outspoken party when it came to the issue of Sikhs wearing turbans in the RCMP, and in Legion Halls in mainly rural Western ridings.  ”In the 1990s when the issue at hand was whether Sikh Mounties should be allowed to wear turbans. The most vocal opposition to that proposal came from Alberta and the Reform Party” (Toronto Star, Sept. 3rd, 2013).  Another matter is at play:  Jason Kenney – self-described “Minister of Curry in a Hurry” – is also one of the Conservative Party’s pretenders to the Harper throne.  Party leadership contenders have already been critical of Kenney’s attempted bridge-building with “very ethnics” (since many of them have little hope – or care – to do so themselves).  Harper is not likely to do anything to assist Kenney in his quest to take his job.
Looking into the very basis of ‘conservative’ movements worldwide, most politically astute individuals would understand that conservative movements don’t typically stand up for minorities – quite the opposite.  The ideological support of minorities and human rights is typically a ‘liberal’ pursuit, while conservative movements tend to be more concerned with, and related to, the building of empires and colonies – and tend to reflect those colonial mindsets towards ethnic minorities, particularly of the ‘visible’ variety.
So whither the ‘liberal’ parties in Canada?  We know the Federal Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau have come out squarely on the side of the minority groups in this matter.  But what about the NDP?  Why has there been no outrage from the NDP on this matter?  A party founded on principles of social justice should surely speak out on this matter.  So why nothing?  Why is Mulcair silent?
The fact is, the NDP is immersed in a bigger dilemma than that of Harper’s party.  While the Conservatives have identified their strongly conservative supporter base, and basically campaign to pull only that vote (while dissuading others from voting), the NDP has seen a shift of their support – particularly their MP base – to Quebec.  More than half of Mulcair’s MPs are from Quebec, and the NDP hopes to retain those seats (many in rural, more ‘conservative’ Quebec) as a ‘base’ of their own.  Given the meteoric rise and decline of many political movements in Quebec, this may not be the wisest strategy, but the Mulcair NDP is sticking to it.  For the sole purpose of political gain the NDP is willing to abandon Canadian ethnic minorities.  Tommy Douglas must be rolling over in his grave right about now.  Certainly on the ground many NDP supporters – even key campaign workers – are upset.  In the ROC (‘rest of Canada’) NDP stalwarts are shaking their heads at the Mulcair decision.  This is not the first decision NDP core members have scratched their heads’ about.  The sellout by the NDP for perceived Quebec votes now includes the sellout of New Canadians, and the very founding principles of the party.
The Liberal Party of Canada – a party which could only take one stand on this matter – has clearly come out on the side of Charter Rights.  This is in agreement with the history of the party as the party which opened Canada to most new immigration; the party that brought the vote to women; the party which created the concept of multiculturalism – an ‘experiment’ that is celebrated worldwide; and the party which gave birth to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Mr. Trudeau did his father – and party forefathers – proud when he stood up for New Canadians and religious minorities.  His is not a wonton political decision, but a decision steeped in 100s of years of Liberal and ‘liberal’ philosophy.  A decision that reflects the presence of the spirit of the father in the son – something that will be remembered and celebrated in precisely the minority communities other parties are attempting to curry favour with.  The Liberals even shared a formal press release to announce their commitment (see below) to human rights.
Few political leaders in recent Canadian history have shown the backbone Mr. Trudeau has on this matter, and for this he must be given the credit he deserves.

Official statement by MP Paul McCallum:
Proposed Quebec Ban on Religious Symbols is Unacceptable
John McCallum*
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has slammed the Government of Quebec for proposing new rules which would ban religious headwear worn by doctors, teachers, and others with salaries paid by the public sector.  It is astonishing that such a proposal to drastically curtail religious and individual rights could emerge in Canada in 2013.  It is also astonishing that federal political leaders other than Justin Trudeau, notably Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair, have greeted this outrage with a cowardly silence.  When the basic rights and freedoms of Canadians are put at risk, all federal political leaders should openly and visibly speak out for justice and a free society.
As the newly appointed Liberal spokesperson for immigration, multiculturalism and seniors, I am deeply committed to the principles of Canadian religious and personal freedoms as espoused by Justin Trudeau.  According to Statistics Canada, the city of Markham, which includes my riding of Markham-Unionville, is Canada’s most diverse community.  I know from talking to my constituents of all ethnicities and religions that they would be shocked by the proposal that Sikh doctors should not be allowed to wear their turbans, nor Muslims their Hijabs or Jews their yarmulkes.  Indeed, as one who has lived more than half my life in the province of Quebec, I know that the great majority of Quebecers are also open-minded and welcoming.  Such backward and draconian measures have no place in twenty-first century Canada.
It is true that this ban on headwear in Quebec is unlikely to come into effect.  The province currently has a minority government, and it is unlikely that the opposition parties would support such extreme action.  Moreover, the rights of all Canadians are protected by the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms.  In the unlikely event that the Quebec government’s proposal became law, it would likely be ruled unconstitutional by the courts.
Nevertheless, even if this measure is unlikely to come into effect, I believe that it is incumbent on all federal political leaders to speak out against extremism and to lead public opinion on matters of freedom and individual rights.  Federal political parties cannot be neutral when the freedoms of Canadians are attacked.  The silence of Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair on this issue is deafening.

*The author is Liberal Member of Parliament for Markham-Unionville and the Liberal spokesperson for immigration, multiculturalism and seniors.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Office of the Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Conservatives Fined for Robocalls in Sask

Ralph Goodale discusses how the Conservatives tried to bully and subvert the work of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Thanks to Canada's justice system, they were thwarted and fined.

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

June 4th, 2013


Over-shadowed by public outrage about that secret and yet-unexplained $90,000 deal between Stephen Harper's Chief of Staff and Mike Duffy, another perverse Conservative scheme seems to have evaporated this past week with little fanfare. That is their attempt to interfere with proposed new federal electoral boundaries in Saskatchewan.

Triggered automatically by the most recent Census, the process to re-draw the boundaries of this province's 14 federal ridings has been underway for just over a year. As provided by law, it's in the hands of an independent, arm's length, non-partisan, quasi-judicial commission.

The chairman of the commission, Mr. Justice Ron Mills of the Court of Queen's Bench, was selected for this task by the Chief Justice of Saskatchewan. The two other commission members, University of Saskatchewan professor-emeritus Dr. John Courtney and SARM president Dave Marit, were chosen by the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Collectively their job is to devise constituencies that are manageable geographically and reasonably equal in population. As much as possible, the new boundaries are supposed to respect historical patterns and reflect communities of common interest. Effective representation is their only goal.

The commission sought initial public input, produced a preliminary map, held extensive public hearings across the province, revised their map based on those hearings, and then submitted that second draft to Parliament. It was tabled in the House of Commons last January.

That's when all hell broke loose. The Conservatives discovered they were dealing with a commission with both backbone and principles -- a commission determined not to bend to partisan pressures, but to produce a fair and honest map that accurately reflects Saskatchewan's changing realities.

In that spirit, the commission proposed six ridings that are predominantly rural (one more than at present), five urban constituencies (three in Saskatoon and two in Regina, instead of none at present), and three seats that are mixed rural/urban blends (Regina-Qu'Appelle, Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan and Prince Albert). That result is eminently reasonable.

But Conservatives are politically opposed to ANY distinctly urban ridings in Saskatchewan. They want to keep the old map pretty much as-is. To force their will, they resorted to the most devious means to discredit the commission's work -- including thousands of anonymous, robocalls spreading disinformation about redistribution and attacking the values of commission members. For such illegal behaviour, the Conservative Party was slapped with a $78,000 fine!

In a Parliamentary Committee recently, several Saskatchewan Conservative MPs launched nasty personal diatribes against the commission, accusing them of bias and bad faith. The attacks were scurrilous. Even the other Conservatives on that Committee could not stomach such abuse. Here's what they reported this week:

""The Committee would like to state unequivocally that nothing in the record suggests bias or any improper behaviour from the members of the commission. The Committee concluded that the allegations of bias and lack of objectivity have no merit. The commission has fulfilled its mandate with objectivity and impartiality, and while its approach towards the implementation of urban-only ridings may be disagreed with, that approach is compatible with the provisions of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act."”

In the end, the Parliamentary Committee suggested a few technical adjustments here and there - for the commission's consideration – but it did NOT reject the commission's fundamentally-sound overall approach. And the commission will now have the final say.

So Conservative tactics of harassment, abuse and intimidation have failed!
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Vote for the BC Governing Coalition Today?

Scott Ross makes a good point on his blog.  No matter how great Christy Clark has been, she is really up against it.  Even closing the gap with the NDP in the last few days is a monumental achievement (and she should be lauded for that - even accomplished as it was without the help of many in the "coalition").  Winning beyond 15 seats, in the political morass created by Gordon Campbell (and some of his caucus colleagues - who continue to work against Christy), will indeed be an effort worthy of praise.

The BC Liberal Party is really the "BC Center-Right Coalition".  That coalition has been strained for years.  Hard right-wingers of the old Reform Party "Guard" variety formed their own "BC Conservative Party". Deals which were surely made during (and after) the last leadership were attempts to keep the governing coalition together.  Some of those deals apparently involved the types of people who had to surround Ms. Clark.

Many true Liberals were indeed upset with those conditions.  Many felt that Ms. Clark did not stand and kick the Reformers out, or didn't go far enough policy-wise.  One could argue that she did make some strong moves.  Moves like standing up to Alberta on the pipeline situation.  Christy went as far as she possibly could without having federal support cut off (and far as she could without being reigned in by he former Harper PMO "advisory team").

For a good - real - Liberal/liberal in BC, what are the real choices?  One could "park" a vote with the Greens, but that could really be a waste in most cases.  One could consider the NDP too.  However, with a leader who has been found to be doing some pretty questionable stuff in the Leg, a history of absolutely horrible economic performance, and some rather nefarious left-wing connections, this is no "moderate" Roy Romanow-type NDP.

A good liberal can't really fathom parking a vote with either of the obvious alternatives.

Besides, the BC Liberals have been stalwarts of an economy that has come under fire, but survived.  Sure the Harper Government's poor economic choices have made it hard for the Provinces.  Certainly the Harper housing bubble is going to have a HUGE impact on one of BC's top employers (construction).  Still, considering all that, this Province has remained one of Canada's top growth areas.  WITHOUT pipeline jobs.

The likely result of today's election is indeed an NDP victory.  Probably a slim majority.  Still, we hope that Christy will stay on to purge the party of those who don't adhere to centrist principles, and lead the charge to replace the NDP when they inevitably crash the economy, in what will surely be a 3-way race in 2017.  Social Conservatives in the BCLiberal caucus will begin to move over to the BC Conservatives in the months ahead.  Some fiscal conservatives with progressive social values MAY join them.

BC may wake up to find Dix in charge, but it likely won't last much more than a term.  Liberals must be patient, and focus on building a strong "center" in preparation for the 3-way race  that is sure to evolve in 2017.  To position for that eventuality, the BCLiberals should focus on attacking the right wing, while preparing to be a fiscally responsible, SOCIALLY responsible alternative to the NDP.  Christy "unleashed" may be exactly what the BCLiberals need to that end.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

New Angus Reid Poll Puts Trudeau at 45% - Strong Majority Territory

I don't put much value in polls, as they are often created with some sort of slant in mind (by most organizations)... Still, it's great to see the recent trends in polling in Canadian federal politics.  Justin Trudeau is seeing growth in popularity.

This new Angus Reid poll indicates 45% of Canadians feel he will be Prime Minister.  That's a really strong number.  Typically only supporters will respond in such a way, with other party partisans responding in the negative.

Good news for Liberals, however, as Mr. Trudeau says, there is plenty of hard work ahead for the party of the Center.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Harper Acting Insecure - Look For Con Blue Camaro Next

The PM has indeed been acting strange lately. First, his own insecurities about his own qualifications for the PM role led him to attack the personable young Liberal leader... Then he moves on to other interesting things (as Mr Goodale explains below)...

One would think he'll show up in a cold blue sports car next - as he tries to appear more ... Human?

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

April 30th, 2013


Stephen Harper seems a little shaky lately.

He's been lashing out at school teachers, university professors, sociologists ... even camp counsellors.

With apologies to a great Canadian author, Mr. Harper is acting a bit like Stephen Leacock's character, Lord Ronald, who "flung himself on his horse and rode madly off in all directions". Such behaviour does not convey a sense of maturity, confidence or seasoned judgment.

The most recent examples started two weeks ago at Margaret Thatcher's funeral in London. It's hard to know what was running through Mr. Harper's mind as he sat in the pews in St. Paul's Cathedral, but apparently it wasn't the Iron Lady. Right after the service he quickly summoned a news conference to offer a gratuitous, trans-Atlantic insult aimed at newly-elected Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

So what prompted such an outburst? In the wake of the bombings in Boston Mr. Trudeau had noted that, among many other things, it would be useful to find out what actually caused the perpetrators of this evil to do what they did. That seems like common sense -- if you want to prevent similar terrorist activity in the future. But Mr. Harper disagrees.

That puts him offside with both President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron who made much the same comment as Mr. Trudeau, as did many journalists and anti-terrorism experts around the world. Back in 2011, even Stephen Harper himself launched a $10-million research project to better understand the root causes of terrorism.

So what has changed? Why are the Harper Conservatives abandoning the search for hard facts and clear insight, further isolating Canada internationally, and contenting themselves with numbskull pronouncements like "the root cause of terrorism is terrorists"? If this is what they truly believe, they are exposing Canada and Canadians to greater, more complex and repetitive risks.

We can only hope that the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the security section within National Defense are more astute and effective than their current political masters. In this regard, it's not reassuring to see the RCMP being forced recently to submit to over-reaching political influence. The Force has doubtless had its problems in recent years, but the answer is not more interference from this Prime Minister's Office.

Many Canadians say the reason for Mr. Harper's superficial, erratic conduct lately has nothing to do with terrorism or national security, but everything to do with the public impact of Justin Trudeau.

People are finding Justin likable and inspirational. They agree with his focus on the success of the middle-class and all those who are working so hard to join the middle-class. They appreciate his constructive, positive approach -- giving Canadians reasons to vote FOR something once again, not just AGAINST -- and his remarkable ability to rally people around a more ambitious vision of what our country has the potential to become.

What truly shakes Mr. Harper is a hopeful, informed, engaged electorate who won't be content with manipulation or mediocrity anymore!

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Exclusive! SunNews Poll Finds Trudeau Ads More Effective!

A new Sun News poll finds Canadian voters think Justin Trudeau's positive and constructive ads are much more effective than Harper's low-blow, deceitful attack ads...  Poll had a very large sample size, although it would likely have been frequented more by pro-Conservative voters.  This leads one to believe that even Harper's so-called "base" is beginning to waver on his unhealthy fixation on the Liberal Party of Canada...

(screen capture from Sun New website from user's computer).


Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Magic of Justin

Ralph Goodale on the JT victory.

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

Special Edition: Sunday, April 14th, 2013


Justin Trudeau has just been elected Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

The process to select him attracted the democratic participation of more Canadians than any political party ever has. But bigger challenges lie ahead, like earning the trust of millions of voters and motivating them to get to the polls in a general election in 2015. How will that be done?

As a starting point, Justin has tapped into Canadians' deep desire for something better in our politics, something to vote FOR, rather than never-ending abuse telling you what to vote AGAINST.

Over the past seven years, a great many people have grown weary of perpetual campaigning, instead of governing. They’re tired of ugly, scorched-earth partisanship and political polarization driving wedges of fear, greed, envy, anger and hate.

Most Canadians are searching for something more hopeful -- and that's where Justin stands out.

He has a special ability to rally people around a happier vision of what this country has the potential to achieve. Perhaps his most telling criticism of the Harper regime is that they’re so unambitious – their goals for Canada are so mediocre. And this country deserves better.

But inspiration is only part of what's needed. The other part is perspiration -- i.e., plain hard work. And much of that work has to be done, not in the rarefied political bubble that envelops Parliament Hill, but instead, in the town halls and church basements and community centres across Main Street Canada, right where Canadians really live, far from Ottawa's madding crowd.

In authentic places like these, as Justin said recently, he has met and learned from more Canadians over the past six months than Stephen Harper has allowed near him in the past six years. And those encounters have shaped Justin's priorities.

Job #1 is bolstering the well-being of the middle-class and all those who are working hard to join them. That includes a relentless focus on higher education, advanced skills, scientific research and the deployment of new technology. It includes expanding trade, especially with emerging economies, and attracting investment on terms that create good-paying Canadian jobs.

With respect to Canada's rich natural resources, Justin has called for a smart marriage between sound economic policy and sound environmental policy. The two are inextricably connected. The economy, he says, is just too important to ignore the environment. And he makes this critical point -- no federal politician should try to use western resources to buy eastern votes.

Building a more prosperous, inclusive, fair and decent Canada also involves strengthening our democracy. In Parliament, that means less power in the hands of Party bosses, and more authority and responsibility in the hands of individual MPs.

MPs must be the voice of their constituents in Ottawa and not just mouthpieces in their ridings for an all-controlling Prime Minister. That’s the kind of democracy that Justin wants to nourish.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Sun News Poll Finds Trudeau Ready To Lead Nation!

Since its inception, the pro-Conservative Sun New has done anything it can to prove it is a purveyor of "open and honest news", and carriers of "the full story".  Sun readers are open-minded intellectuals with a penchant for - often random - displays of empathy.  

This is why, we are very impressed with Sun News readers' overwhelming support for Justin Trudeau - saying - in a clear majority of voters - that JT is ready to lead this great nation of ours!

This is truly a great moment in this nation's history... A moment when even the right-wing media and their readership can support the moderate centrist as the best choice for leading Canada.

(Image is a screen capture directly from Sun News' website)

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Liberal Vision - Canada Pension Plan

Ralph Goodale discusses new options and ideas to help strengthen the Canada Pension Plan.

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

March 11th, 2013


Reciting spin-lines from the Prime Minister’s Office, Conservatives claim they’re open to good ideas for their now long-delayed 2013 Budget, but they just don’t get any from other Members of Parliament.  Nice spin, but not true.

There’s no shortage of constructive suggestions.

For example, to support job creation, Liberals have urged the Harper government to stop their annual $600-million increases in job-killing EI payroll taxes.  To promote fairness, we’ve called for sensible changes in family tax credits and disability savings plans to include those who most need this kind of help.  We’ve suggested practical measures to tear-down barriers to higher learning and to bolster innovation and infrastructure.

The Conservatives have only one response – more austerity. 

Their only priority is further cuts to federal programs and services to reduce their self-inflicted deficit.  They’re not concerned about economic inequality.  They have no agenda for growth and productivity.  In fact, their mindless cutting could actually shrink aggregate demand and make growth more difficult.

Seriously deficient retirement incomes are another issue this government ignores.

Indeed, they’ve made things worse.  One of Mr. Harper’s first major moves was to kill Income Trusts, thus destroying about $25-billion in the savings accounts of some 2-million Canadians.  More recently, he undermined Old Age Pensions by delaying the eligibility age by two years, thus taking about $30,000 from the most vulnerable seniors.

Significantly, Mr. Harper had solemnly promised he would never do either of these things.  Somehow, integrity seems to have slipped his mind.

But the 2013 Budget could take constructive steps to help the 70% of Canadians who don’t have adequate pensions. They could be allowed to make “voluntary supplementary” contributions to the Canada Pension Plan to top-up their savings. 

The CPP is sound and strong (thanks to far-sighted changes initiated by former Finance Minister Paul Martin).  It is well-managed, generating one of the best rates of return.  Canadians should be able to build on this expertise – all at no cost to the government.  It would also provide some much needed competition for private pension plans.

This good, practical Liberal idea has earned the support of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and even the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  It’s time has come!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trudeau Event To Be Largest Google Hangout In Canuck History!

A little Canadian history being made in Vancouver this Thursday...

Make History.

Canada's largest Google Hangout with Justin Trudeau! Thursday night, at Relish GastroPub in Vancouver... Great opportunity to learn more about this Canadian Tour de force!
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Family Day For All?

Ralph Goodale discusses the perils facing those poor souls who can't enjoy Family Day. Great read. Thanks Ralph!

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

February 18th, 2013


Many Canadians enjoy their mid-February "Family Day" holiday, but not all families can celebrate equally.

Think, for example, of those low-income families who are caring for elderly parents, or would like to get their kids into sports or arts programs, or have disability issues, or volunteer as community firefighters. They are deliberately excluded from the federal tax credits that more wealthy families get.

This sounds perverse, but it's true -- our tax system says you must have income above a certain level to access a variety of family tax credits. The more wealthy can benefit. Those on the most modest incomes cannot. Close to 9-million Canadians are left out.

This discrimination should be remedied in the next federal budget.

On Family Day, think also of those Aboriginal families who mourn more than 600 missing or murdered women and girls -- daughters and sisters, mothers and grandmothers, wrenched from their families, some known to be dead, others long unaccounted for.

Indigenous women make up 3% of Canada's population, but represent 10% of all female homicides. About 85% of all homicides are solved by police investigations, but that "clearance rate" drops to just 50% when the victim is an Aboriginal woman or girl.

If non-Aboriginal women were being killed or disappearing at the same rate as Aboriginals, there would be 20,000 Canadian women missing or murdered.

Indifference toward this carnage must end. Strong action is required to expose the truth about these 600 victims, achieve justice, and build a society in which violence toward all women is far better prevented.

That's why, for more than five years, Liberals in Parliament have pushed for a comprehensive Public Inquiry to dig out all the facts about these 600 unsolved cases. Such an initiative is necessary to get to the truth, and to start building a new era of trust and respect with indigenous peoples.

We also want the appointment of a Special Prosecutor or other civilian authority to launch proper investigations into allegations of police complicity in the violence.

You cannot expect traumatized women and families to report their allegations to some of the same authorities who may have victimized them in the first place. The government must provide safe and secure ways for them to tell what happened.

The House of Commons gave unanimous support last week to a Liberal Motion setting up a Parliamentary Committee to get to work on various policy questions related to violence against Aboriginal women. This is a good move, but only a small first step.

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Conservatives Try To "Con" Sask Voters

I can't believe this is happening in Canada!

From the Goodale Report:

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

February 6th, 2013


It’s a sad story of manipulation and deceit. Let’s begin at the beginning …

Following the publication of new census numbers last year, a Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission was appointed, as required by law, to re-draw the map of Saskatchewan’s 14 federal constituencies.

The Commission consists of a Queen’s Bench Judge (Mr. Justice Ron Mills), a Professor Emeritus from the University of Saskatchewan (Dr. John Courtney) and the President of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (Dave Marit). Their report was made public last week, and the Conservatives have been having a hissy-fit ever since.

Political parties may disagree with the Commission, but it’s the Commission – not any politician – that has the legal authority to determine where the boundaries go. That independent, arm’s length, non-partisan approach is fundamental to fair and honest elections.

Drawing electoral maps is a tough job. People can have differing views. The Commission had one dissenter, Mr. Marit. But the Mills/Courtney majority position was strong, clear and well-reasoned, with the backing of SUMA (the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association) and a great many others.

The proposed new map provides Saskatchewan with a fair and balanced outcome that more accurately reflects the province’s reality, including six rural ridings (one more than before), five urban seats (instead of none before), and three rural/urban blends.

In a bizarre twist last week, residents of Regina and Saskatoon began receiving automated telephone calls attacking the proposed new boundaries. The tone was abusive, suggesting those who agreed with the new map – including the majority of the Commission – were betraying Saskatchewan’s values.

Conservatives immediately tried to distance themselves from these despicable robocalls. Local MPs and Conservative headquarters in Ottawa both denied having anything to do with them. “Not something we would do”, Conservatives claimed.

But after complaints were filed with the CRTC (Canada’s telecommunications regulator), the Party had to confess that these calls were, indeed, a Conservative scam. Their initial attempt to hide their involvement shows they knew what they were doing was wrong.

It was wrong to mislead Saskatchewan people and try to intimidate them. It was wrong to interfere with what was supposed to be a totally independent process. It was wrong to discredit the commissioners and their work. It was wrong to try to cover it up.

The last time a scam of this kind was discovered, the Conservatives had to admit to a deceitful “disinformation” campaign maligning Montreal-area MP Irwin Cotler. The Speaker of the House of Commons (Regina MP Andrew Scheer) quite properly called the Conservative tactics “reprehensible”. This latest escapade is no less so.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, February 04, 2013

NDP Toys With Quebec

Ralph Goodale with another solid analysis of the national political scene, as viewed from the trenches in Ottawa.

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

February 4th, 2013


Thomas Mulcair’s NDP keep coming up with troubling prescriptions for Canada’s future.

First, last summer, they depicted the development of natural resources in western Canada as a “disease” harmful to manufacturing in the east. They deliberately attacked western Premiers, and pitted sector-against-sector, region-against-region.

Obviously, Mr. Mulcair was going after votes elsewhere than in the West, and he was specifically prepared to sacrifice the well-being of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Now, this past week, there’s another NDP gambit, playing fast-and-loose with another dimension of Canadian unity – i.e., the terms upon which a province might claim the right to separate from the rest of the country.

Having faced two previous separatist referenda in Quebec, which put the country through great anguish and uncertainty, the Parliament of Canada adopted The Clarity Act in the year 2000.

Based on advice from the Supreme Court, this law says the federal government shall not negotiate any province’s separatist aspirations unless the population of that province “has clearly expressed its democratic will that the province secede from Canada”. The referendum necessary to determine that “democratic will” would have to involve a clear vote on a clear question.

The NDP supported The Clarity Act back in 2000. During the most recent federal election, they said they were not calling for its repeal. But all of that changed last week. They tabled draft legislation to get rid of the Act, and make it easier for separatists to win.

The NDP would eliminate the role of the Parliament of Canada – i.e., the one legislative body that includes the elected representatives of all Canadians – in determining whether any proposed referendum question is unmistakably clear.

But even worse, the NDP say a bare majority voting “yes” – i.e. 50%-plus one – would be sufficient to cause this country to be broken up. And that’s 50%-plus one of those who actually turn-out, not the total voting age population.

It takes a two-thirds majority to amend the constitution of the NDP as a political party, but Mr. Mulcair would let Canada disintegrate based on the ambiguous views of a minority share of the population in one province. Surely that’s just wrong!

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Very Conservative Loathing For Their Very Own Budgetary Officer

The Conservative Party had - at one time - at least pretended to be promising "accountability".  Since taking office, however, that remains a pipe-dream for the hoodwinked targeted voters who lent them their votes.

The Harper Gov't has been ANYTHING BUT ACCOUNTABLE.  Beyond simply not addresses past government weaknesses, the Harper Government decided they would simply invent their own realities.  Shucking science, and any sort of evidence to support their wonton embrace of a narrow ideology, the Conservatives have elevated public lack of accountability to a new art form.

In most democracies there are a few checks and balances to keep a government from running away with public freedoms and disregard for accountability:

- Parliamentary respect for ALL MPs ("honourable members")
- Responsibility to provide all parties access to details on government spending
- Active engagement of political media and Parliamentary press (so the public can find out what is going on)
- Respect for a highly trained civil service which will advise the gov't if they are heading the wrong way.
- Being open and honest with committees.
- If all else fails, most governments will still respect their election watchdogs and courts.

Forget about getting the facts from this bunch.  They are beyond that.  They've followed none of the principles listed above.  Rather, they have thumbed their noses at more than tradition - they've created a government that is accountable to no-one. 

Now some will say, "but, they are accountable to voters".  Really?  When the Conservative Party does everything they possibly can to ensure voters are not aware of their actions... When they go out of their way to obfuscate...  When they are being investigated for potential election fraud... THEN, the so-called accountability to the electorate is meaningless.

Here is Ralph Goodale's take on the Kevin Page situation.

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

January 28th, 2013


It was almost exactly a year ago now that Stephen Harper jetted off to Switzerland to give a speech to the world’s economic elite, announcing that Canada could no longer afford its Old Age Pension program, and he would soon cut it back.

That program to help low and middle-income Canadians has been in place since 1952.  Subject to income-related eligibility rules, it provides a monthly payment to each individual Canadian when he/she reaches the age of 65.  The total cost of doing that is currently about $36-billion.  That amounts to a modest 2.2% of our GDP.

This makes Canada’s Old Age Pension one of the most affordable social security programs in the whole world.  Similar systems in other countries use up 10% or more of their GDPs.  Ours is a bargain by comparison.

But Mr. Harper says the impending retirement “bulge” caused by all those post-war Baby Boomers, soon turning 65, will blow the bank.  He claims the Old Age Pension will become too costly.  So, he says, the eligibility age must be changed – from 65 to 67 years.  That will save big money, right?

Not really.  If no changes are made, the cost of Old Age Pensions will increase by the year 2030 to consume about 2.9% of GDP.  That’s up from 2.2% today, but still a small total cost by global standards.  With Mr. Harper’s changes, pension costs will still rise, but only to about 2.6% of GDP in 2030.

So all-in, the saving to the federal treasury is a rather tiny 0.3%.  Clearly, there can be no allegation that Old Age Pensions are unsustainable.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page pointed all this out, last February – just a couple of weeks after Mr. Harper’s erroneous claims in Switzerland.  The PBO’s findings were later confirmed by the Auditor-General.

Something similar happened on the Conservatives’ proposed purchase of F-35 stealth fighter-jets.  First, the PBO disclosed the Harper government’s colossal mismanagement and dishonesty in this multi-billion-dollar procurement boondoggle.  And then the Auditor-General confirmed he was right.

Time and time again, this pattern has repeated itself.  Kevin Page has been fearless in blowing the whistle on incompetence and deceit.

That explains the tirade against PBO this past weekend by Finance Minister Flaherty – ironically, just as he was jetting off to Switzerland for this year’s meeting of the world’s rich and famous.

post signature VICTORY FUND

Monday, January 21, 2013

Harper's Malevolent Regime

Ralph Goodale discusses Canada's resident "enfant terrible" government... Ralph spoke to a packed room at the LPCBC Policy Conference in Surrey on Saturday.

Mr. Goodale encouraged the large gathering to lead the fight for change in our great land.

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

January 21st, 2013


Stephen Harper’s government is perhaps best known for its over-reaching sense of impunity – the notion that “might makes right”.

They believe that a majority (for the time being) in the House of Commons should allow them to get away with anything they want, with no regard for what others believe or hold dear. They trample on people, values and institutions, just because they can.

A sense of impunity leads to excessive ministerial behavior – like Bev Oda’s orange juice, Jason Kenney’s limousines, Peter MacKay’s helicopter rides to fishing holes, Tony Clement’s ornamental gazebos and sidewalks-to-nowhere in Muskoka, Julian Fantino’s misuse of government websites, and Jim Flaherty’s meddling at the CRTC. They think they’re exempt from the rules.

That sense of impunity also leads to massive mistakes like the F-35 fiasco. It’s the biggest sole-sourced, untendered procurement (against all the rules) in Canadian history.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Auditor-General and the private firm of KPMG have all exposed the incompetence which riddled this file since the Conservatives came to power in 2006. Worse still is the deceit. They kept two sets of figures to hide the truth. What they disclosed to Parliament and the public was deliberately misleading.

And make no mistake. They haven’t changed. There’s no admission of wrong-doing. No apology. No change of course. Just a lot of spin and blather to obscure that reality that they’re plowing ahead to get the exact same result as first contrived.

Their sense of impunity also corrodes democracy.

No questions ever get answered in Question Period. Parliamentary committees are forced to go behind closed doors to conduct the public’s business in secret. Ministers’ offices delay and subvert Access-to-Information. Omnibus bills and Closure motions are used routinely to kill debate and stymie scrutiny of legislation.

In addition to the vicious attack-ads they use to malign political opponents, there’s also a systematic campaign of character assassination designed to intimidate non-governmental organizations, public servants, scientists, statisticians, Officers of Parliament, public-interest “watchdogs”, even churches and charities – to shut them up.

So much for freedom of speech! From the Parliamentary Budget Officer to the Nuclear Safety Commission, from ecumenical groups like KAIROS to Indian Chiefs like Theresa Spence, if you dare speak truth to power, this government will try to slander you.

That same sense of impunity also leads to the illegal election financing scam for which the Conservative Party was investigated, charged and had to plead guilty.

And don’t forget the still unexplained election irregularities in Etobicoke-Centre, Peterborough and Labrador, and the massive on-going investigation into thousands of illegal telephone calls, starting in Guelph, but potentially contaminating elections in some 200 ridings across the country.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, January 14, 2013

Goodale: Harper Must Step Up

There really is a LOT more the Reform-Conservatives can do for First Nations. Ralph Goodale discusses some of what must be done...

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

January 14th, 2013


As commentators dissect last week’s confrontations between the Harper government and various First Nations Chiefs and leaders, the situation is obviously at a delicate point – presenting real risks, but also opportunities.

While some will blame the Aboriginal side for being unclear, too theoretical or having a poor track-record, the same criticisms could apply to the government. There’s lots of blame to go around. The onus for making progress now rests on the Prime Minister. He’s the one who holds power and he always likes to tell us that he’s the one “who makes the rules.”

That was clearly demonstrated in 2006, the moment he took office, when he cancelled the Kelowna Accord. That fully-funded, five-year Accord dealt with Aboriginal housing and water, healthcare, education, economic development and stronger governance (including the concept of a First Nations Auditor-General to ensure transparency and accountability).

It took nearly 24 months of careful dialogue to build the trusting relationship in which Kelowna was rooted. The Accord had the support of the federal government, all 10 provinces and three territories, and the five national Aboriginal organizations – until Mr. Harper killed it.

Much goodwill was lost, but some hope was rekindled in 2008 when the government apologized for Canada’s sorry role in Indian Residential Schools. Sadly, there was little follow-up. The same happened in 2011 after out-going Auditor-General, Sheila Fraser, described Aboriginals as the most impoverished people in the country – nothing changed.

Then, a year ago, in response to the widely reported misery at Attawapiskat, Mr. Harper agreed to a Crown-First Nations Summit. But again, a year has passed with no progress, which brings us to the Idle-No-More movement, a hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, and the tumult last week in Ottawa.

So where to from here? First, out of the glare of publicity, Mr. Harper needs to give Chief Spence the private but sincere assurance that the neglect of past years will be truly rectified. She must be persuaded to live, not starve.

Secondly, it will take time to restore the respect and trust that made Kelowna possible, especially in the complicated fields of treaty rights and land claims, but a credible beginning must be made very quickly. On the federal side, the government needs to be consultative, not unilateral. They must be prepared to serve the greater public good, not merely a narrow ideological base.

Third, immediate progress can be made in several areas. For example, a Royal Commission could get to work on what happened to hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

The budget this spring could bring federal funding for the K-12 education of First Nations children up to the higher amounts-per-child that provinces invest in non-Aboriginal kids. And the feds could get rid of their “cap” on funding for post-secondary education and child welfare.

These things would be a start.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Goodale on "#idlenomore"

Ralph discusses #idlenomore... A born in Sask movement...

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

December 31st, 2012


Over the past few weeks, a remarkable movement has taken shape among indigenous peoples in Canada. It’s called “Idle-No-More”.

Beginning with four women from Saskatchewan, the movement is driven largely by women and youth using social media like Twitter and Facebook. With the advice of elders, it’s committed to peaceful public events highlighting unacceptable realities in the lives of First Nations people, the Metis, Inuit and others.

Their spontaneous activities have reached across Canada and beyond. The initial spark was Stephen Harper’s second Omnibus Budget Bill (C-45).

In that incoherent hodge-podge of dozens of unrelated measures – all lumped together to prevent intelligent scrutiny – the Conservatives slipped-in several items that detract from the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, including weakened environmental rules and intrusions on First Nations’ land. There was no prior consultation or consent. It was totally arbitrary.

But Idle-No-More is about more than C-45.

It’s about this government running roughshod over Treaty Rights – something the Conservatives were bluntly warned about by none other than former Cabinet Minister, Jim Prentice.

It’s also about Mr. Harper’s failure to take any meaningful action to help build some genuine hope for the future following his 2008 “apology” for the tragic legacy of Indian Residential Schools. All those fine words are proving vacuous.

And then, just over a year ago, along came the housing crisis and human misery at Attawapiskat. The government’s reaction was a combination of indifference and scorn. They were shamed into meeting with indigenous leaders last January, but 12 months later the results are nil.

In the spirit of Idle-No-More, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is now on a hunger strike in Ottawa, trying to get Mr. Harper to pay some attention. He doesn’t seem to realize that he has a personal constitutional obligation toward Chief Spence and all other Aboriginal people.

What’s needed is a rekindling of the hopeful sincerity that generated the “Kelowna Accords” of 2005.

It took 24 months of personal effort by then-Prime Minister Martin to establish the trust and respect upon which progress could be based – engaging the federal government, all provinces and territories, and all national Aboriginal organizations. Sadly, that ground-breaking initiative was cancelled the moment Stephen Harper took power.

And nothing of consequence has been accomplished since. On things that indigenous peoples need, the Harper government has been painfully idle far too long.

-- Post From My iPhone

Ukrainian Democracy - Possible?

Ralph Goodale on the Right to Democracy. Ralph displays his wealth of knowledge of democratic systems and lawmaking...

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

January 7th, 2012


This week, many Ukrainian Canadians are celebrating Orthodox Christmas, and then Malanka – New Year’s! Greetings and best wishes to all those of the Orthodox faith who practice their sacred traditions according to the Julian calendar.

Ukrainian settlement in Canada began 122 years ago. Some 1.3-million Canadians can trace their family heritage to Ukraine, including 13% of Saskatchewan’s population.

But even as they celebrate this joyous season, many will be thinking about the difficult struggle for true democracy which continues in Ukraine unabated.

The Parliamentary elections held this past fall were again tainted by serious irregularities. Corruption is a big problem. The main leaders of the democratic opposition are in jail. Academic and religious freedoms are under pressure. Freedom of the press is compromised. Human rights and the rule of law are in jeopardy.

Eugenia Tymoshenko, the daughter of jailed former-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, is calling for international sanctions against the current regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. So what can/should Canada do?

Our response needs to be carefully tuned and targeted to have the most useful effect, including:

· Relentless lobbying for the release of political prisoners and competent independent medical care for them in the meantime;
· Adjustments in Canada’s foreign aid to focus on democratic development and the successful functioning of civil society;
· Encouragement for Canadian broadcasters and business-people to invest in independent media outlets and honest news coverage in Ukraine;
· Insistence that any Trade Agreements between Canada and Ukraine must include enforceable provisions about the rule of law and respect for human rights;
· Canadian leadership through the G-8, G-20, IMF and UN to combat money laundering and obstruct the world travels and illicit business operations of oligarchs and corrupt officials.

This latter point may be among the most important. The objective would be to prevent those who undermine democracy, violate human rights and flout the rule of law from jet-setting around the globe with impunity, enjoying the fruits of their misbehaviour.

Canada could not accomplish such a result all on our own, but we could be an advocate and catalyst to bring the US, the EU and other nations into an effective partnership to this end. We need to have an impact before the next presidential elections in 2015.

-- Post From My iPhone