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Monday, December 10, 2012

Immigration policy should build a stronger Canada, not exploit the vulnerable

Immigration policy should build a stronger Canada, not exploit the vulnerable
NDP Immigration critic Jinny Sims (Newton – North Delta) is urging the Conservative government to invest in Canadian workers and reunite families instead of undermining the Canadian job market by exploiting Temporary Foreign Workers.
“There is no good reason for the Conservatives to be bringing in tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers when so many Canadians and newcomers are out of work,” said Sims. “Temporary workers from other countries drive wages down and are rarely permitted to remain in Canada. Instead of investing here, they understandably send most of their earnings back to their home countries.”
 Under the Conservatives Temporary Foreign Workers number have doubled while family reunification provisions have been systematically dismantled. Spouses, parents and grandparents are being forced to wait years to be reunited.
“Instead of treating the immigration system as a source of cheap labour, the Conservatives must implement an immigration plan that will strengthen our country and our economy,” said Sims. “We need to see a real plan to reunite families with their loved ones. Families build communities and are the backbone of our country.”

NDP brings fight for lakes and rivers to ridings

NDP brings fight for lakes and rivers to ridings
Back to work in their ridings next week, New Democrat MPs will be continuing the fight to protect Canada’s lakes and rivers. Since it was introduced, Official Opposition MPs have been standing up in the House of Commons fighting against the Conservatives’ monster omnibus budget bill and the ways it will hurt our waterways.
 “This monster bill will have long-term, negative repercussions for Canadians. We wanted to study it at committee but the Conservatives blocked us at every turn,” said NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen (Skeena–Bulkley Valley). “It’s disappointing that they’re abandoning their basic responsibility to Canadians in favour of ideology.”
 Bill C-45 is the latest step in the Conservatives’ plan to force through legislation that will gut environmental oversight and cut the services Canadians rely on. Although the Conservatives agreed to send it to committee, they imposed unreasonable time limits, blocked New Democrat amendments and only sent sections to committees they knew wouldn’t be able to do proper analysis.
 “Once again the Conservatives have put the whims of their oil industry friends ahead of the needs of Canadians,” said Opposition Whip Nycole Turmel (Hull–Aylmer). “This is a bad bill and over the constituency week we’re going to consult Canadians and bring their ideas back to Ottawa.”
 “The sad result of this monster bill is that our lakes and rivers are being left unprotected,” said NDP Environment critic Megan Leslie (Halifax).

Conservatives ignore slowing growth and economic warning signs

Conservatives ignore slowing growth and economic warning signs
Flaherty delivers Economic Update when House isn't sitting to avoid accountability for bad news
Despite missing their own deficit targets, mounting reports of slowing growth and double digit unemployment in many regions, Conservatives are ignoring economic warning signs and charging ahead with their cuts agenda.
 “Under their watch, our economy is underperforming and we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Unfortunately, based on what we heard today, Conservatives have no strategy to address this,” said NDP Finance critic Peggy Nash. “Conservatives are simply continuing their unbalanced approach of putting all our economic eggs in the natural resources basket.”
For the fourth time since taking power, Conservatives chose to avoid parliamentary oversight and deliver their Economic Update outside of the House of Commons.
“This is another example of Conservative contempt for our democratic institutions,” said NDP Deputy Finance critic Guy Caron. “Just as with their omnibus budget bills and their withholding financial information from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, this is yet another attempt to avoid being accountable to Canadians about cuts to the services people rely on.”
Despite the warning signs, Minister Flaherty refused to outline any contingency plan to deal with slowing growth and increasingly negative fiscal indicators.
“Conservatives keep claiming our economy is better off than all the others, but the reality is even the I.M.F. is now predicting slower growth in Canada than in the U.S.,” said Nash. “And yet Minister Flaherty continues to push full speed ahead with his shortsighted approach to managing the economy.”

Fixing crumbling infrastructure would create jobs and grow the economy

Fixing crumbling infrastructure would create jobs and grow the economy
Canada’s mounting infrastructure crisis of crumbling bridges, potholes and traffic gridlock is costing more than $10 billion in lost productivity every year. NDP Transport and Infrastructure critic Olivia Chow was in Toronto today calling on the Conservatives to take action and ensure accountable, transparent and non-partisan infrastructure funding.
 “The current unpredictable, one-off funding system creates chaos and uncertainty for cities and communities and can lead to misuse of taxpayers' money,” said Chow. “Whether it’s sinkholes in Ottawa, falling concrete in Toronto and Montreal or record commute times in Vancouver, our infrastructure is in crisis.”
 Chow’s comments were in support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ proposal for federal dollars to be "purpose-dedicated" (transit, basic infrastructure and water systems) to ensure fair distribution, reduced red tape, and increased accountability and flexibility.
 “Our cash-strapped and over-burdened cities are looking to the federal government for partnership,” said Transport and Infrastructure deputy critic Robert Aubin. “But the Conservatives must put an end to favouritism and back room deals to insiders.”
“If the Conservatives fail to grasp this opportunity in the upcoming budget, Canadians will continue to face infrastructure decay and gridlock,” said Chow.

Conservatives still failing on elimination of child poverty

Conservatives still failing on elimination of child poverty
According to Campaign 2000 report one in seven Canadian children still lives in poverty
With zero progress on the government’s 23-year old pledge to eradicate child poverty the NDP is urging the Conservatives to put aside reckless ideology and adopt Campaign 2000’s recommendations.
 “The government is touting an economic recovery yet one in seven children is still living in poverty,” said Chris Charlton, NDP critic for Human Resources and Skills Development (Hamilton Mountain). “Their action plan has no action for children. Poverty reduction should be at the centre of any economic recovery plan.”
 “In 1989 MPs voted unanimously to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000.  It’s now 2012 and we’re still waiting for a comprehensive strategy to eradicate poverty.  Clearly, there’s been a lack of political will on the part of successive governments”, said Charlton.
 According to Campaign 2000’s 2012 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada, without a national anti-poverty strategy, poverty levels in Canada will continue to increase, compromising future generations’ success and threatening our economic stability.
 “The Conservatives pride themselves on good economic management but when you look at their inaction on eradicating poverty, which costs Canada over $72 billion every year, it’s obvious that this is not the case,” said Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP deputy critic for Human Resources and Skills Development (Hochelaga).

Net benefit test needs immediate clarification

Net benefit test needs immediate clarification
In the wake of the Conservatives’ approving a transaction of limited benefit to Canadians, New Democrats are calling on the House of Commons to direct the Conservatives to honour their two-year-old promise and update the Investment Canada Act.
 The NDP opposition motion put forward by NDP Natural Resources critic Peter Julian calls on the government to lay out specific net benefit criteria, improve the transparency of decisions and to require public consultations on changes to the Investment Canada Act.
 “The Conservatives rubber stamped a deal that leaves the Canadian economy vulnerable to foreign government interference, in secret with no public consultation,” said Julian. “This is unacceptable and we need immediate action on the Investment Canada Act to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
 The NDP motion reads:
That this House agrees with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, which is asking the government to : clarify the net benefit test; include parameters around reciprocity; improve the transparency of decisions; and set specific criteria for state-owned companies to meet net benefit requirements in order to protect the Canadian economy from potential foreign government interference and calls on the Government to hold a full and public consultations on the proposed guidelines announced by the Prime Minister on December 7, 2012 and previously promised changes to the Investment Canada Act.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Left Wing Have More In Common With Ronald Reagan?

Categorized | Wayne Clark

Columns: Left Wing Have More In Common With Ronald Reagan?

By Wayne Clark. It seems to me the left wing of 2012 have more in common with the likes of Dwight D.Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan than Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin, I get so tired of these asinine labels.
Wayne Clark is a Maple Ridge resident.
I would agree that Corporations are not necessarily evil but only what you allow them to be, they have their place in the scheme off things in as much as they are controlled and are not allowed to be in control as is the case now. If certain mega corporations had their way in 1942 we would all be speaking German and doing the goosestep. Corporations are about one thing and one thing only, money and power and they do not care how they get it or who they have to get into bed with to get it.
Left to their own devices they can be truly evil, as money has no conscience and greed has no limit, and as Richard Gecko preached greed is good for Capitalism.
The reality is that Corporations have to be controlled by rational strict legislation that takes into consideration not only the people that work for them, but the well being of all a countries citizens and especially the environment that sustains all the beings on this planet anything else is shortsighted folly and the road to ruin.
In the present context I could even agree that socialism is the problem in the world today but it is Corporate socialism with the extreme right and greedy, corrupt Corporations and mega banks bringing the world to it’s financial knees and then Corporate controlled governments bailing the Corporations, banks, stock markets out with public tax dollars that is the problem.
The final injustice is the very victims of these criminal acts are the people that inevitably pay the ultimate price for this corruption by loosing their homes, and all the middle class and poor loosing 40 percent of their total assets, while the masterminds of this crime get to not only keep their ill gotten spoils, but even get fat bonuses of even more public tax money.
To lay this global financial catastrophe on socialism is so far from the truth that it is not even worth discussion.
“Fascism should more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power.”–Benito Mussolini

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Are Lower Mainland Residents Getting Ripped Off With Tolls?

Columns: Are Lower Mainland Residents Getting Ripped Off With Tolls?

By David Murray. I was very upset today to read that the new Port Mann Bridge project is going to cost up to and perhaps more than four billion dollars.
The cost of this project has spiraled to the point of craziness ! With 600,000 people projected to move into this area by 2040, it will not take much time at all for the cars to be choking us all again trying to get over this piece of infrastructure.
This project will not help reduce carbon or reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Are we still going to keep repeating the same mistake Los Angeles did in the 1930′s and 40′s by getting rid of their rapid transit system? This moved help oil and automobile companies only, and created smog emissions that were some of the worst in the world in the 1970′s and 80s in that city.
It only would seem to make sense that we should have built “Rail for the Valley” This project would have cost about 25% of what the bill for the Port Mann project has worked out to be. In 2011 the cost for Rail for the Valley was estimated at around 1 billion dollars.
From 1900-1950 with the original tracks still in place (we would have to replace some of the tracks obviously-but at a fraction of what it cost for the Port Mann project) we used to have an inter-urban train running from Chilliwack to Vancouver.
It would have been a better idea to resurrect this project . A Chilliwack to Vancouver train. It would have created hub communities all along the route much like the Skytrain has done in Metro Town and other areas.
Sustainable communities where people could work, play and live. Also with the ability to choose not to get in their car to travel to Vancouver.
I realize that politics is politics. The BC Liberals are needing something to help with their popularity at the moment. If they charged what Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge & Langley residents have to so they can cross the Golden Ears Bridge a resounding $4.00 per trip. They would likely not win many seats in the Fraser Valley. I feel ripped off that they came up with $1.50 per trip to cross the new bridge. Why could they have not done that for our communities? They said they were losing money for the first year? Why did they not give this same discount? It truly seems wrong.
I am glad for the commuters on the other side of the river are getting this break , but how about for the same duration offer the deal for the Golden Ears Bridge?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Did You Know That Income Tax Was Supposed To Be A Temporary Measure in 1917

Federal Politics: Did You Know That Income Tax Was Supposed To Be A Temporary Measure in 1917

Submitted by Helen Witt: Did you know that in 1917, Canada brought in Income Tax as a “temporary measure” to help pay for Canada’s involvement in World War 1.
From, before its birth, as a so-called nation, in 1867, the people who invented Canada decided that the provincial legislatures and not the federal parliament of Canada would have “exclusive jurisdiction” to make laws with respect to “direct taxation’ within the province.
“Income tax” was then considered, and continues to be considered, by economists and legal scholars, to be a “direct tax”.

This division of legislative powers was enshrined in Canada’s first constitutional document, the British North America Act, which divided legislative powers between the provincial legislatures and the federal parliament.
In the First World War, WW1, Canada’s Federal Government, charged with responsibility for national defence found itself without adequate funds to fight the war and brought in Canada’s first tax on incomes. All the legal scholars of the day, the judges, the lawyers and the politicians, knew that “income tax” was a “direct tax” and, therefore, outside the taxation powers of the federal parliament during peacetime.
So, the Government of Canada, under the leadership of Robert Borden, introduced the Income War Tax Act using its powers under the British North America Act to make laws for the purpose of national defence and, considering that Canada was fighting a war on behalf of England, the Governor General, as the representative of King George V of England, , was only too happy to provide Royal Assent to the legislation, on behalf of King George V, who was also the King of Canada at a time when Canada was still an official colony of England.
Click here to view Government of Canada web site confirming the Income War Tax Act received Royal Assent on September 20, 1917.
This issue of Royal Assent is important because a law, passed by Canada’s Parliament, is not legal unless it receives Royal Assent and, if you keep reading the above web site and other web sites like it, you will not find any refrence to the date when Royal Assent was provided for the Income Tax Act, 1948, the law that replaced the Income War Tax Act, 1917. The absence to any reference to the date Royal Assent was given for the Income Tax Act 1948 is evidence supporting the view that no Royal Assent was ever provided – otherwise, the Government would be sure to publish it.
After the First World War, when the war debt was paid, there were repeated calls, in parliament and elsewhere, for the federal government to repeal the Income War Tax Act because it was illegal, the war effort was over and the war debt was paid.
However, the Government class had grown, in size and in power, and the citizens’ calls for a return to constitutional values were ignored.
Also, the Second World War, WW2, came along, England and Germany resumed their family quarrel, Canada, again, sent its young men off to die for God and country, and the Income War Tax Act, passed in 1917, continued in force to fund
the second war effort.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homelessness A National Disgrace

Guest Columns: Homelessness A National Disgrace

By Wayne Clark. The human chaos that we see, read, and anguish about every day – the homelessness crisis that plagues our streets. One week its about closing washrooms to the homeless and the next it’s outrage about homeless people peeing or defecating in the street or performing other such functions that would normally be done in a bathroom in public. Under the present circumstances there is no happy ending for any of us because homeless or not people require certain facilities to satisfy basic body functions, to keep clean, to be out of the elements, to have food in our stomachs, the basics of life at the very least.
The people of BC and maybe Canada have to decide whether the status quo is acceptable or not acceptable for Canadians to be living in the street for whatever reason, sure there probably are some of the homeless who would be there no matter what and there are undoubtedly some who should be in jail but they are a small minority, no one should be living in the wet freezing cold because they were born with a physical or mental handicap, no Canadian should be forced to survive the elements because they are unemployed or even underemployed, no woman or juvenile should be forced to live without shelter because she will be abused at home.
Canadians should feel shame and feel uncomfortable to see how the homeless live amongst us, I would bet if you saw the same thing in another country you would be disgusted and feel empathy for the poor and destitute of another country.
BC started on this slippery slope to rampant homelessness in 1983 in what a rabid Conservative would call the “Golden Era” under the rabid anti-socialist Bill Bennett otherwise known as Mini-Wac, in 1983 under the banner RESTRAINT, Bennett slashed social services and closed down most of the facilities that took care of the mentally and physically handicapped while simultaneously holding a party for the world, EXPO 86.
His Golden Era excesses finally generated a general strike in BC.
The stage was set and we see the result of his anti-people polices every time we leave our homes and see the lost souls living amongst us, and yes it is disturbing, but the trick is to blame the right people not blame the victims.
The solution to this major social problem is certainly not to ship the homeless back to Vancouver which was a bad policy decision made in an attempt to hide previous bad policy decisions, or just moving them to someone else’s back yard is certainly not the answer to anyone’s problem, and certainly inciting hatred against an identifiable group is most certainly not legal nor the answer, like it or not this is BC’s and even Canada’s problem not Vancouver’s problem, it has to be seriously dealt with by every level of government and not just swept under the rug or glossed over for some undeserved cynical political photo op.
These people are after all Canadians and deserve at least a basic part of the Canadian dream, is a roof over your head out of the cold, rain, wind and food in your stomach to much to ask and how about some caring supervision, access to medical treatment and counselling is that to much to ask for, or expect in Canada one of the richest countries in the world, I don’t think so?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Conservative F-35 accountability moving forward … at a turtle’s pace

Conservative F-35 accountability moving forward … at a turtle’s pace

The pitiful saga of Conservative mismanagement of the F-35 purchase continues apace.
The Conservative government, dogged by criticism from virtually all quarters for their mishandling of this multi-billion dollar purchase, tried to quietly sneak through a request for proposal (RFP) on Wednesday to find someone to undertake an independent validation of the purchase costs and maintenance of these planes.
The problem is the Conservatives had promised this ‘verification’ more than four months ago:
“ We will have independent validations of the cost assumptions associated with the F-35, both in the acquisition phase and also on the maintenance contract.”
– Rona Ambrose, responding in the House of Commons to a question from NDP MP Christine Moore, April 5, 2012.
And now eighteen weeks later, the independent auditors still haven’t been chosen. And now we learn they won’t be on the job until at least the end of August. After breaking their initial promise to get this done within 60 days, Conservatives have now delayed it even further.
Instead of taking responsibility and being accountable on the F-35s, Conservatives continue to demonstrate their incompetent handling of one of the biggest military procurement purchases in our country’s history.
The government may try and keep hiding the truth, but one day we will find out how much this Conservative fiasco is really going cost Canadian taxpayers.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Harper Conservatives ignore economic warning signs as 1.4 million now jobless

Big July job losses threaten recovery

Harper Conservatives ignore economic warning signs as 1.4 million now jobless

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a daddy."

12 Traits Of A Great Father

Credit: Getty Images"Anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a daddy."
  - Anonymous

A good father makes all the difference in a child's life. He's a pillar of strength, support and discipline. His work is endless and, oftentimes, thankless. But in the end, it shows in the sound, well-adjusted children he raises.

On Father's Day, much of the world will take the time to appreciate the work of good fathers. While you show your admiration for your own dad, take the time to see if you yourself have what it takes to be a great father, whether you have children or plan to.

1- He's a good disciplinarian
A good father loves his children, but he doesn't let them get away with murder. He strongly disapproves of his children's misdeeds, using tough love to prove a point. He does this through the power of his words, not his fists.

Likewise, a father doesn't reward his children for actions that are expected of them, such as helping with house chores or performing well in school. If his child drops out of school, the father demands that he provide for himself, considering the child no longer wants to invest in his own future.

2- He allows his kids to make some mistakes
A good father realizes that his children are human, and that making mistakes is part of growing up. Spending money recklessly, getting into minor car accidents, getting drunk and sick for the first time, even dating questionable women are rites of passage, and a good father recognizes this. However, he makes it clear that repeated irresponsibility won't be tolerated.

3- He's open-minded
A good father understands that times, people and tastes change over the years, and doesn't try to maintain some gold standard of his own time. For instance, he realizes that body piercings are more commonplace than before, that more couples have premarital sex, and that people talk more candidly about personal issues. In other words, he allows his children to be citizens of their day and age.

He shows his kids that everything has its value
4- He teaches his children to appreciate things
A good father never lets his children take what they have for granted. From the food on the table to the good education he's paying for, a good father will make his children see the value in everything they have. He'll ask his child to get a job to help pay for a part of his first car, and take the time to illustrate how important a good education is. He doesn't let his kids treat him like an ATM.

5- He accepts that his kids aren't exactly like him
Everyone is different and a father knows this well. He won't expect his kids to live the same kind of life he does, and do the same kind of work. He also respects their values and opinions, as long as they don't harm the family or anyone else.

To use a pop culture example, he's like Martin Crane from Frasier ; the everyman blue-collar dad who allowed his pompous sons to steer their lives in a different direction, even if he didn't quite agree with them.

6- He spends quality time with his children
A dad knows how to have fun with his kids too, taking them out to games, movies, and supporting their sports teams by attending their matches. He takes the time to listen to his kids and have a good, easy chat with them. He also makes time to help them with their homework, every night if necessary.

7- He leads by example
A good father is above the old "do as I say, not as I do" credo. He will not smoke if he doesn't want his kids to do it, and definitely won't drink heavily. He teaches them to deal with conflict with a family member and with others by being firm but reasonable at the same time.

A good father also illustrates the importance of affection by professing his love for their mother in front of them. And he won't fight with her in their presence. In all, he adheres to the values he'd like his children to follow.

He's fiercely loyal to his family..

8- He's supportive & loyal
Although he may be a football fanatic, if his son doesn't share his love for the game, he accepts it. He may be loyal to his alma mater and dream of having his kid follow his legacy, but if his son prefers to study abroad, he'll support his decision to take a different path.

A good father is also his children's public defender, standing up for them when needed. He waits for privacy to administer discipline. A safety net, a good father is also the person his kids turn to when things go wrong.

9- He challenges his kids
A father wants his children to be the best they can be, and gives them challenges that help them grow as human beings. This means giving them some liberty to face setbacks and resolve conflicts on their own. Or it could be a task, such as building something for the house.

If a father wants his children to take over the family business, he teaches them how to keep it flourishing -- provided that's the path they want to take.

10- He teaches his children lessons
A father figure is the prime source of knowledge in the ways of men, and teaches his kids accordingly. From shaving to being courageous, a father molds his kids into well-rounded members of society. He especially instructs them in proper etiquette, on being honest and keeping their word, and on being thankful.

A great father knows he must sacrifice his own comfort for his fatherly duties. For instance, if he comes home from a hard day at work and catches his kids looking at porn on the Net, he'll take the time to address an awkward situation even though he's tired.

11- He protects his family at all costs
As the main provider of security and necessities, a father will do whatever he can for his family. He'll take a second job to provide for them, and he'll put his own safety on the line to keep them out of harm's way. This is how a father instills in his children the importance of personal sacrifice.

12- He shows unconditional love
This is the greatest quality of a good father. Even though he gets upset at his children's faults and may lament that they did not attain what he hoped for them, a father loves his children no less for it.

give props to dad

In these days of polarized sexual politics, the value of a great father is often overlooked. But there are few things as valuable as a father who will do everything he can, and provide all the tools he has so that his children can become better than him.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2010 oil spill from an Enbridge pipeline in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

On Tuesday, the US Transportation Safety Board released a report on a 2010 oil spill from an Enbridge pipeline in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

For 17 hours, bitumen from the Alberta oil sands poured from the pipe, spilling at least 3.2 million litres of oil with devastating impact.
I wanted to share what the Board's chair said today:
"On that July evening, at about 6 p.m. when many people in Marshall were sitting down to dinner, Enbridge's Line 6B ruptured and began spewing crude oil through a more than six-and-a-half-foot-long fracture.
"For more than 17 hours and over three shifts, the people controlling the pipeline did not respond to the alarms, pressure differentials or even follow one of their own safety procedures established following another catastrophic release in 1991 in Grand Rapids.
"The people of Marshall would finish their dinners, get ready for the week ahead and go to bed. As they slept, and even when they got up on Monday morning, instead of stopping the flow, Enbridge staff twice pumped more oil - about 81 percent of the total release - into the ruptured pipeline.
"It wasn't until late Monday morning - 17 hours and 19 minutes after the rupture - that a worker from a local gas utility found the spill and notified the Enbridge control center. Then, and only then, did the Enbridge staff begin their response and start closing remote valves upstream and downstream of the rupture.
"Learning about Enbridge's poor handling of the rupture, you can't help but think of the Keystone Kops."
It's a damning indictment. 
And it highlights the enormous risks BC would take on if Enbridge is allowed to build the proposed pipeline here in BC and oil tankers are allowed on our north and central coasts.
But you can do something about that.
  please sign our letter opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline right now.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Seniors worse off under Harper government

Seniors worse off under Harper government

Statistics Canada data shows seniors’ income lower, poverty higher, & middle class stagnate

Tom Mulcair, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Tom Mulcair, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day calls out Conservative wedge politics

New Democrats launch interactive anti-pipeline website calls out Conservative wedge politics

Government must address tragedy of missing aboriginal women

Government must address tragedy of missing aboriginal women

Ashton calls on Conservatives to launch a national inquiry

MP Don Davies attends arms trade treaty conference

MP Don Davies attends arms trade treaty conference

NEW YORK – Today, the New Democrat Critic for International Trade, Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway), is participating in the United Nations’ conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in New York.
“The world is waking up to the fact that it is completely unacceptable to internationally trade arms without proper rules and regulations,” said Davies. “This conference is an important step toward stopping the irresponsible trade of weapons that fuels so much strife in vulnerable regions.”

The ATT negotiations are seen as the most important initiative regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations. Davies is participating as part of the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), whose declaration in support of the ATT has been endorsed by over 1,600 parliamentarians in over 70 countries.
“An arms trade treaty is absolutely necessary for the promotion of peace around the world,” said Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa-Centre). “As it stands now, there are no global norms for the transfer and export of weaponry and the consequences are devastating.”

Helicopters are four years late and the Conservatives don’t know when they’ll be delivered

Another missed deadline for Sea King replacement

Helicopters are four years late and the Conservatives don’t know when they’ll be delivered

Saturday, July 7, 2012

$3.3 million boondoggle a “prudent use of taxpayers’ money”: Conservatives

$3.3 million boondoggle a “prudent use of taxpayers’ money”: Conservatives

More #HarperHistory on Afghanistan

More #HarperHistory on Afghanistan

Minister Kenney’s detour from accountability and honesty

Minister Kenney’s detour from accountability and honesty


The forgotten clauses of shame

The forgotten clauses of shame

Backbench Conservative MP to cabinet ministers: stop wasting my taxes!

Backbench Conservative MP to cabinet ministers: stop wasting my taxes!

Conservative patronage – The Toews Summer Edition

Conservative patronage – The Toews Summer Edition

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Top Union Brass Caught Obstructing Solidarity With Quebecois Students

Columns: Top Union Brass Caught Obstructing Solidarity With Quebecois Students

By Diane Kalen-Sukra. I’m surprised it took so long for Canada’s union bureaucracy to really feel the democratizing pressure of the social media Wikileak internet age.
It finally happened in a big way this week – Quebec and Canada’s top union brass had “internal” correspondence, in which they direct all of Canada’s major unions to put the brakes on solidarity with Quebec students (including the wide-spread social resistance to the UN-condemned Quebec law criminalizing protest), leaked and posted by an anonymous blogger.
So-So Not Solidarity
A quick summary of the leaked correspondence. On May 28 th, the leader of the Quebec central labour body (FTQ), Michel Arsenault, issued a letter to the leader of Canada’s central labour body (CLC), Ken Georgetti in an effort to put a stop to efforts by “labour leaders in English Canada” who intend to “come and support the social conflict currently prevailing in Quebec”.
It’s useful to remember that this solidarity-killing letter was issued at the height of this longest and largest social protest in Canadian history, the precise moment when hundreds of thousands of Quebecois citizens were heading CLASSE’s (the dominant student coalition) call to defy Law 78, imposed to break the popular movement by essentially criminalizing protest as it severely restricts the Charter-protected right to freedom of assembly. This was the time when many of the province’s lawyers famously hit the streets in solidarity with the people, aware of Law 78′s unconstitutionality and the danger it poses to our democracy.
Arsenault reasoned that the “situation in Quebec is currently very volatile” and expressed his continued intention to “ask for compliance” to this very same law the social movement in Quebec, and heart of the student strike (referred to by Arsenault as “radical wings”) were defying. He writes that the “social strike” is not “THE strategy to be promoted for the moment,” rather “the best approach is to facilitate a settlement instead of fuelling the fires”.
In a peculiar final dump, Arsenault ends his letter blaming his rejection of English Canada’s solidarity on the high tuition fees paid by students outside of Quebec. He writes, “if students in other provinces were paying less for their school tuitions, this would put less pressure on ours”.
In bureaucratic-solidarity, the leader of the 3.3 million member weak workers’ army in Canada, Ken Georgetti immediately forwards the letter to all union affiliates across the country with a cherry on top. In his cover letter, Georgetti addressed head-on the “rumours” that some “national affiliates plan to organize potential illegal actions in Quebec in violation of Bill 78, to support the student protests.”
So any union engaging in natural solidarity activity with the Quebecois are being made to sound like a ‘criminal element’ within the labour movement, engaging in “potential illegal actions”, even though the struggle aims to defy an anti-democratic law that if left unchallenged, will be used to silence people, crush unions and break protest across the country. And what hope will students in English Canada have to end student debt slavery, if the Quebecois fail?
Georgetti reminds everyone of the “protocol” that exists between the two labour bodies, the FTQ & CLC, in essence ensuring that the there will be no solidarity-activity going on between Quebec and Canadian unions and activists unless it is blessed and approved by this top union brass. It is called “respect” for the “Federation’s jurisdiction”. He ends by expressing his “hope that such rumours [of planned solidarity] are simply rumours and not fact.”
There are those code-words of bureaucracy – not my “file”, out of my “jurisdiction” — used to justify all manner of betrayal and cowardice. These were the same words used by the NDP to justify their failure to take a position on the Quebec student struggle, even though it was the Quebecois that in large part propelled the party to its federal official Opposition status.
Even the PQ (the center-left Quebecois sovereignty party) announced yesterday that it is going to stop wearing the “red square” – the mark of support for the students – as it follows polls, hedges its bets and gears up to take on the governing Liberals pummelled by its attack on the students and basic democratic rights.
What ever happened to standing or falling for what is right, for what you believe in? Who isn’t sick of “leaders” who will sell out their mother, brother or sister if it will buy them votes? “Leaders” who ignore the dire need for the power of a people’s movement to push through deep political reform, in favour of simply getting elected?
Judging by the frustrated “where are the union members?” comments of many on-the-ground Casserole Nights in Canada organizers, who are coordinating solidarity actions across the country, and the silence regarding solidarity with the Quebecois students on English Canada union websites, it seems the FTQ/CLC letters had their intended chilling effect.
The leader of the Ontario Teachers Federation (OSSTF) Ken Coran, seemingly eager not to be identified as one of those rumoured English unions “planing to organize potential illegal actions”, issued a letter to its local leadership, with the CLC & FTQ letters attached, “recommending that there be no official support or donation made to the Quebec student unions.” Cold as ice.
Member Blowback
The online and social media response yesterday was quick and damning. Many expressed shock and dismay at the anti-democratic arrogance of the union brass combined with the sense of betrayal inherent in the call to stand-down, when the Quebec students were calling for increased solidarity and support. The question “which side are you on?” is being repeatedly asked of the parties involved.
Fuel was added to the fire when the CLC, through a communications staffer, issued a response defending their “protocol”, calling for the blog posting with the “private correspondence” to be removed and accusing it’s author of “potentially libelous” comments regarding CLC President Ken Georgetti.
Having spent time as a communications scribe for the labour movement, I tried to have sympathy for the communications “brother”, who was being personally reprimanded in online commentary. But you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, even if it means breaking the golden-handcuffs, and that line is being drawn by courageous people everywhere [See: CUPE Ontario June 21st statement reaffirming their support of and solidarity with the Quebecois students]. Justice requires it, the times demand it.
It begins by defining who “the team” is. In a member-driven organization, it’s the membership. And each and every person paid by the workers to represent them has an obligation first to act and speak on their behalf. Without humble servitude and committed loyalty to the membership, the relationship between union staffers and union members is purely parasitic. One lives literally, off the other.
How many union members know that behind the face of a handful of public union leaders there are thousands of staffers, lawyers, researchers, and in some offices enough communications people to rival our largest news stations?
It is through these staffers, and the control of union funds over locals, consultants, social justice groups, think tanks, legal firms and alternative media outlets, that the union bureaucracies wield their control over the workers’ movement. Orders are issued — “isolate that fighter”, “kill that campaign”, “purge that victory” — and everyone blindly follows, or else…
It is in this way that fighters are turned into vegetables, or worse, career-driven wheel spinners, and people of passion and conscience are broken into shadows of themselves. If they stick around and stop fighting, they lose their soul and resort to passing their days reminding members how busy they are (marching backwards), counting air miles from their latest junket and using social media to glorify their privileged lifestyle (compliments of members’ dues) rather than use it as a powerful medium to educate, empower and organize.
Rather than feel the pain of their members — the eroding wages, lack of dignity at work, and loss of all security — such union bureaucrats cling ever more tightly to their positions, their privileges and perks. Any challenge to the status quo, is a threat to this parasitic existence, even if it means turning a blind eye to gross injustice.
Controlling union staffers was more difficult in the days when most were recruited from the ranks, specially selected because of the way in which they had distinguished themselves as competent fighters with perseverance, integrity and their ability to persuade people to stand up for justice. But today, like all organizations in decline, our union bureaucracies shamelessly champion blind-allegiance over principled leadership, nepotism over merit, and power over justice, even if it comes with gross incompetence and does a disservice to the membership.
The pitfalls of bureaucracy plague the history of the workers’ movement and must be confronted. Most extreme is the example of Stalin. When he was preparing the grounds to expel and and kill the dozens of revolutionary leaders (his “threats”) who had actually brought down the monarchy, led the Bolsheviks to power and were loved by the people, he first flooded by the thousands the workers’ organizations, including key positions of responsibility, with inexperienced and often opportunistic people, who by the time they got over the nice feeling of having a big-title, handsome paycheck and fancy outfit to boot, the dirty deeds were done, history was rewritten, and the doomed course of a nation and revolution was determined.
It’s no secret that today’s union bureaucracies are not sufficiently transparent or democratic. With too few exceptions, Convention debates are prescribed and anyone “out of line”, faces the cold isolation of the monolithic bureaucratic back-turn. Staffers that are “out of line” have their number-punched and a merciless hatchet-team is unleashed, violating every conceivable union-principle, to mob them out of the organization, out of their employment and against the will and best interests of the membership. All sins are simply washed away with reminders of the movement’s past accomplishments (like the 8 hour work day, eroded beyond recognition today), and the unquestioned nobility of our overall cause.
The CLC’s heavy-handed “how dare you question us?” response, in this case, proves how unaccustomed the union brass are to being held to account. They actually think that correspondence calling on unions everywhere to potentially betray the Quebecois movement, what Chris Hedges refers to as the “Northern light..the most important resistance movement in the industrialized world”, can and should be considered “private”. Where in the CLC Constitution does it say that the union is to be organized as an aristocracy and not a democracy? Nowhere.
I’m with the anonymous blogger that the CLC communications staffer tried to dismiss as a “self-appointed pundit who posts to blogs”: “Let’s be clear, union leaders work for union members. They are not at the top of a chain of command and if the leadership want to use the unions as a tool to obstruct solidarity instead of facilitate it then the leadership should be ignored or discarded. The CLASSE did this through their mass assemblies and so can we.”
The time to Occupy your union bureaucracy is now. Our collective future depends on it.
WE ARE ALL QUEBECOIS. Debt slaves of the world unite! (B.Y.O.P)

Diane Kalen-Sukra
Diane Kalen-Sukra is a repeat survivor of internal union purges and is currently waiting for member- reinforcements to ignite and occupy Canada’s labour bureaucracy, of which she is a part. Over the past 20 years, she has coordinated and led countless successful community and labour campaigns, most recently, the Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford campaign which defeated the largest proposed water privatization scheme in Canada’s water sector. Join Diane on Facebook. Follow her @dianekalensukra
She is a labour and community issues columnist with The Real News Network, based in Washington, DC. Visit her blog page for the original article complete with links.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Hero's Death

How my hero’s death and not knowing what I wanted to do for a career led me to find unexpected happiness in the most unexpected of places

Quite often I wonder where the future will take me and what forks it will throw in my road of life. As of yet, I quite obviously don’t know. I wish I had been –or were– one of those people with a set life plan. Kind of like my brother; he’s got his own place bought and paid for in Yaletown and he’s only three and a half years older than me. Of course, my brother did once utter to me “Alex, you want to save the world, while I want to exploit it for profit.” He was alluding to his work on oil tankers, where he is a master mariner. My life would have been a lot simpler and probably a lot more content had I had that one calling that everyone supposedly has —  the vocation, as they called it growing up in Catholic school. Is that why I’m agnostic? I’ve flirted with several careers, and none of them seem to really do it for me. To me, it isn’t really about the money at all, but rather doing something I feel is worthwhile and contributes good to the world. I am a strong believer in karma, not the in metaphysical sense, but in the “every action has an equal or great reaction” way.
I wanted to be a social worker, but soon realized that I was much too sensitive to witness tragedy and hardship on a daily basis. So that plan went out the window. I wanted to be an aid worker, but again, the same thing. Then came journalism. I suppose I had a romanticized view of the profession, y’know, as being the guardian of truth and the exposer of all the corruption and ills in society. Through a semester at journalism school, I learned that the media was in bed with  a lot of the power players of scum, and I therefore wanted no part in it. I got the essentials I needed, and I’ve always been quite good at writing (hey, not tooting my own horn.. was just a lonely kid growing up who turned to an old typewriter for company!) and I’ve been trying to make a career for myself ever since. Well, that and in my education in political science. Politics is a passion of mine, as anyone knows, but as much as I hate to say it, I fear that said passion has dwindled with the death of Jack Layton. I am waiting for it to come back; it has, after all, only been less than a year since my life’s hero passed away. Broken hearts take time to heal, but I don’t think all the amount of time in the world could heal this broken heart. There will always be a little something missing, and I know that I am far from alone in feeling that way about his passing and the gaping hole it left in so many of us, and in the very fabric of our nation.
A funny story came out of Jack Layton’s death, though. Not really funny, but a tad ironic. I wouldn’t have gotten involved in the Occupy movement had Jack Layton not died, because with Jack’s death came a determination within me and a commitment to honour his legacy, and I knew Jack would have supported this fight for economic equality and this crusade against greed. I wrote about Occupy Wall Street on my blog
My fridge is a tribute
My fridge is a tribute (Photo credit: Alexcentric)
before it spread nationwide and then internationally, and then attended Occupy Vancouver on the Global Day of Action and wrote about that and filmed it, and then continued to cover it, and then when it was time for me to leave for lLorida for three months last winter, I got in contact with various Occupy groups in the area in which I would be staying. And I met some of the greatest friends with whom I am still very much in contact with to this day. One of the greatest people I ever met ended up being a complete stranger who was at a Newt Gingrich rally covering it and protesting the corruption in politics just as I was (I believe that everything American politicians do directly impacts Canadians and the rest of the world, so it is not meddling in another country’s affair’s  – they make it our business!) and we just got to talking and the rest, as they say, is history.
Who would have ever thought that I’d meet someone so wonderful at a protest for someone so awful? In Naples, Florida, so far away from my home. We spent nearly six weeks together before I had to go back home to Vancouver, in March, and then I went to visit him about a month and a half after I left and we stayed with each other attached at the hip for nearly three weeks. Who knows what the future holds for us, but I know that we’ll spend a lot more time attached at the hip sooner rather than later. I was terminally picky with men, and he just happened to fill all of my criteria. I believe meeting someone as caring as him is my karmic reward (sorry for how new-agey that sounds) for putting kindness in the world. Certainly there are people who have taken advantage of my kindness in the past, but not this time. He’s truly kind and that has always been the quality, besides intelligence (which he also possesses!) that I find most attractive in the opposite sex, and it just so happens that intelligence and kindness were what he liked about me as well. It’s nice to feel appreciated by someone I appreciate so much.
I think I’ve embarrassed us both enough now.
And this concludes Part I of my foray into blogging about my personal life.  I thought I’d begin with my happiest memory of the recent year, and work my way from there. And yes, the journalism and writing is still in full force, as is the political activism. I have an event tomorrow night. One day, my friends, I will have a paid career out of this! Until then: enjoy!
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