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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dewar calls Harper's retrofits cuts irresponsible

Dewar calls Harper's retrofits cuts irresponsible
January 31st, 2012

Kamloops, BC - New Democrat Leadership candidate Paul Dewar is attacking Harper for pulling the plug on a program that helps families save money on their energy bills while helping the environment.

"Stephen Harper's lack of leadership at home and internationally in fighting climate change is irresponsible and reckless now and for future generations," said Dewar. "Programs that help families save money on energy bills and help the environment get killed to pay for more corporate tax cuts."

Retrofits are an affordable and effective way to improve energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Home retrofits have to date resulted in $25 billion in spinoff economic activity, tens of thousands of jobs for Canadians, and the elimination of 20 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Conservatives canceled the program while less than half of the budgeted $400 million was spent. Instead of a boom and bust approach that puts the industry and jobs at risk, it’s time to make a full fledged, permanent initiative to retrofit Canada to higher energy efficiency standards.

"Stephen Harper has broken his word and the trust of Canadians. As Prime Minister, I will boost energy efficiency to put money back into the pockets of consumers and create jobs in the residential and commercial retrofits industry," said Dewar. "As a first step, working with provinces, I will introduce a permanent Green Retrofits Fund for residential and commercial retrofit, which will provide much needed stability in the market."

"It’s time to end Stephen Harper's game and ensure Canada becomes a leader in this growing market," said Dewar.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Paul Dewar is coming back to BC. In hopes of meeting with more of you.

Now, he's coming back to BC. In hopes of meeting with more of you.

We've packed his schedule full, trying to give as many people as possible the chance to feel, first hand, his ability to connect and inspire, to give you a chance to ask your questions and to hear what he has to say on the issues that matter to all of us. And he sure has some interesting and innovative ideas about how to beat Stephen Harper and make Canada a stronger, more caring country. Hopefully you can make it to one of the events:


In Burnaby:

"Coffee and chat" at the Tommy Douglas Branch of the Burnaby Public Library (Program Room), 7311 Kingsway, Burnaby. Noon to 1 PM

In Vancouver:

"Winning the next 70: A townhall meeting hosted by MLA Mable Elmore" at the Kensington Community Centre (multi-purpose room), 5175 Dumfries Street, Vancouver. 7 to 8:30 PM

"Pints with Paul" at The Main, 4210 Main Street, Vancouver. 9 to 10:30 PM


In Kamloops:

"Lunch with Paul" at the Smorgasbord Deli, 225 7th Avenue, Kamloops. 12:30 to 2 PM

In Vernon:

"Coffee and chat" at The Pantry, 3908 32nd Street, Vernon. 4 to 5:30 PM

In Kelowna:

"Meet and Greet with Paul" at Truffles Chocolate Café, 1282 Ellis Street, Kelowna. 6:30 to 8 PM


In Nanaimo:

"Lunchtime chat" at the MGM Restaurant, 240 Nicol Street (Old Island Highway), Naniamo. 11:30 AM to 1 PM

In Duncan:

"Coffee and chat" at Island Bagel, 48 Station Street, Duncan. 1:45 to 2:45 PM

On the Sunshine Coast:

"Townhall meeting" at Roberts Creek Hall, 1309 Roberts Creek Road, Roberts Creek. 7 to 9 PM

We hope you can make it out to see and hear Paul in action - and to use it as a chance to meet other people, like yourself, who want to see our progressive values prosper. And, if these times and dates

don't work for you, there will be other opportunities and locations in his next rounds. So stay tuned.

A More Caring Canada: Paul Dewar’s Plan for Families

A More Caring Canada: Paul Dewar’s Plan for Families

January 28th, 2012

This leadership campaign is about building a stronger and more caring Canada. A country where we take better care of each other.

The Conservative majority is leaving ordinary people behind. Three million Canadians live in poverty. 1.3 million are unemployed – and many more underemployed.

Canadians are facing the runaway growth of income inequality as well as record high levels of household debt. The real majority of Canadians are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

As Stephen Harper hands out corporate tax cuts to the most profitable corporations in Canada, he is threatening attacks on our retirement security, our public services and employment insurance. He offers boutique tax credits to secure electoral gains while ignoring the largest financial burdens contributing to the high levels of household debt in Canada.

It's time for leadership that is focused on people's priorities.

Paul Dewar has a plan that responds to the needs of the real majority of Canadians. Building a stronger, more caring Canada means taking action to lift the most vulnerable out of poverty, to make life more affordable for Canada's middle class and protect our retirement security.

As first practical steps, a New Democratic government led by Paul Dewar will:

1. Make prescription drugs affordable

One out of four Canadians has no prescription drug insurance coverage at all, and 8% of Canadians admit to not filling a prescription because they can’t afford to. The real majority of Canadians are finding it harder to make ends meet as the cost of essentials like prescription medicine skyrocket.

A Canada where someone has to choose between medicine and other essentials like food or shelter is not a Canada where the true New Democrat vision for public healthcare is fully realized. We need to take better care of each other, and ultimately that will mean the development of a public pharmacare program. As a first step toward the realization of that goal, a Paul Dewar-led NDP government will immediately work with provinces to reduce the cost of prescription drugs through the negotiation of bulk purchasing agreements.

Bulk purchasing is a strategy aimed at efficiently reducing costs by increasing the volume of products purchased. Experience in New Zealand, France, Germany, the United States and other jurisdictions indicates that bulk purchasing agreements result in a decrease in price per medication and an overall lower cost for governments. Already, Canada's premiers and territorial leaders have committed to working to establish a pan-Canadian purchasing alliance to bulk-buy prescription drugs, medical supplies and equipment. Now is the time for the federal government to join them as a partner, working together to quickly reduce the cost of medicine for all Canadians.

The reality is that Canadians are paying more for drugs than almost every other industrialized country in the world, with the total national spending on drugs hitting $30 billion in 2009. Billions of that is paid out-of-pocket by Canadians who have little or no insurance coverage, who may have lost coverage following unemployment, or who are retired and struggling to get by on inadequate income.

Under a bulk purchasing plan, savings would be significant - evidence shows that strong negotiations can reduce expenditures by up to 90 percent on some types of commonly used drugs, without compromising safety or effectiveness. For many families, the savings in pocket would be hundreds of dollars per year, while simultaneously reducing the cost burden on government-run pharmaceutical insurance programs.

2. Give young Canadians a fair start

When they graduate from a four-year degree, the average Canadian student owes $27,000 in debt, which will take over 7 years to pay off. The high cost of education is bankrupting a generation of young Canadians – and putting enormous financial strain on their parents, too.

When Canadian household debt is at a record high, it doesn’t make sense to continue down this road. Average tuition fees in Canada have ballooned by 400% in the last 20 years due to cuts by successive federal governments. By September 2010, student debt reached the unprecedented level of $15 billion.

Paul Dewar will reverse this trend by reducing tuition fees by an average of $700/year, giving young Canadians and their families a break. Dewar will make post-secondary education and training more accessible to the most disadvantaged students by expanding Canada Student Grants Program and targeting accessibility for Aboriginal, disabled and low-income students.

The repayment options for student loans charge interest fees of up to 5% above the prime rate. Student loans should not be a money-making scheme for the government. Instead, not only tuition fees need to be reduced in order to decrease the reliance on student loans, the government should assist young Canadians and their families to repay the loans as soon as possible. Paul Dewar will provide immediate relief to everyone with student debt by reducing the interest on student loans to prime. This will save the average Ontario graduate $2,700.

Finally, Paul Dewar will create Your Canada Year, an innovative program which will cover a year of tuition fees in return for a year of community service. The program will connect young Canadians to internship opportunities with non-profit community organizations. For 12 months, the student volunteers his/her skills to building a better Canada. In return, Your Canada Year grants up to $6,000 toward one year of tuition for post secondary education or training.

Your Canada Year will reduce the cost of post-secondary education and training, create work experience opportunities, support community groups with young and energetic volunteers, and foster Canadians' commitment to community service.

Together, Dewar's education initiatives will give young Canadians a fair start by reducing the burden of tuition fees for young Canadians and their families.

3. Protect our retirement security

Canadians work hard to ensure they have a secure retirement, living in dignity and independence. But the economic crisis showed that our retirement security is under threat. During the crisis, private plans like workplace pensions and RRSPs lost approximately 20% of their value. The government left former Nortel employees in the cold by refusing to protect underfunded pension liabilities in bankruptcy proceedings. While workers lost their pensions, managers continued to take their cut.

Instead of taking action to secure our retirement against market fluctuations, Stephen Harper is now threatening important income safety nets like Old Age Security. Paul Dewar will stand up to these attacks. He will secure the retirement savings of Canadians by strengthening our public pensions.

Working with the provinces and territories, a New Democrat government led by Paul Dewar will phase in a doubling of the Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan benefits. These plans have proven to be the most effective and secure retirement savings plans in the country.

Paul Dewar will secure our retirements against the Nortel-style crises by adopting the NDP legislation to put workers' hard-earned pensions at the front of the line during bankruptcy proceedings. The legislation will ensure that companies facing bankruptcy and restructuring honour their unfunded pension liabilities ahead of other creditors. The protections will extend to workers' termination and severance pay as well as their long-term disability benefits.
In response to the losses experienced by private pension plan sponsors during the recession, Dewar will develop a pension insurance plan funded by private pension plan sponsors to secure investors' savings.

Finally, Dewar would allow Canadians to take advantage of the security and low operational costs of public pension plans by allowing them to make voluntary top-up to their personal accounts.

Every Canadian deserves to retire in dignity. Dewar will ensure our hard-earned retirement savings are protected for when we need them.

4. Support for New Canadians

Every year Canada invites some of the best and the brightest in the world to move to our country and start a new life. We are a great country – the dream destination for many in the world, looking for freedom, fairness and safety.

Yet, we are not realizing the full potential of our new comers. We invite people to come to our country because of their professional credentials, but the government refuses to recognize their knowledge and restricts their contributions to our society. The government makes family reunification difficult, tearing families apart. And most recently, the government has reduced funding to some of the most important settlement programs that provides new immigrants with the ability to adapt to their new country and make a real contribution to our society.

The vision for a stronger and more caring Canada means a Canada where our new comers are supported with the services they need so that they can realize their full potential in our country.

As a first step, Dewar will implement his bill to ensure fairness and respect for thousands of foreign-trained professionals in Canada.

Dewar’s bill:
- Creates a model registration practice for foreign credential recognition in coordination with provincial accreditation offices and professional bodies to ensure transparency, objectivity and fairness;

- Establishes a Canadian Experience Fund to support the creation of mentorship and job opportunities by provinces, municipalities and community-based organizations to integrate foreign-trained professionals into the workforce; and,

- Ensures accountability by asking that the Minister report to parliament on the progress in addressing the problem on an annual basis.

Currently, it takes up to seven years to sponsor parents to Canada from China. The backlogs are tearing families apart. That's why Dewar will immediately improve family reunification to reduce the huge and unacceptable backlogs in processing immigration applications. He will implement the NDP's Once in a Lifetime Act to allow Canadians a one-time opportunity to sponsor a relative who is not a member of the family class to come to Canada.

Finally, Dewar will reverse the Stephen Harper cuts to immigrant settlement and adaptation services. He will improve settlement services by providing funding particularly for literacy, community integration and orientation, including bridging, mentorship, English and French as a second language programs and resource centres. Dewar will support Quebec programs in ensuring that all immigrants that arrive in Quebec learn French first and foremost.

Together, we can ensure that new Canadian families realize their full potentials in a stronger and more caring Canada.

5. Support for Canada’s most vulnerable

The growth of inequality in Canada combined with the policies of successive Liberal and Conservative governments over the past two decades have left the poorest Canadians on the margins. Instead of corporate income tax breaks that will cost billions, a portion of those funds could be redirected to make a real difference in the lives of low-income Canadians.

A stronger and more caring Canada will not tolerate the high levels of child poverty and growing rates of seniors poverty in our country. Unlike Stephen Harper, Paul Dewar will take immediate action to ensure all Canadians live with basic dignity and safety.

A New Democrat government led by Paul Dewar would develop a coordinated policy response to poverty in Canada, beginning with the adoption of Poverty Elimination Act created by former New Democrat MP and respected anti-poverty expert Tony Martin. The Act would create a landmark federal blueprint for action on poverty elimination focused on the three pillars of income security, housing and social inclusion.

Income security in particular plays a key role in preventing families from falling into deep poverty. To jump-start poverty prevention, Dewar will take achievable first steps towards a Guaranteed Annual Income for Canada’s most vulnerable: seniors, the disabled, and children living in poverty.

Working with the provinces, his plan would include:

Fulfilling Jack Layton’s commitment to lift every senior in Canada out of poverty by immediately boosting the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). While New Democrats secured new funding to reduce senior’s poverty in budget 2011, additional steps are necessary to lift every senior out of poverty. Boosting the GIS by an additional $400 million per year would end senior’s poverty in Canada – a simple and clear priority for a New Democrat government led by Paul Dewar.

Developing a federal income support to ensure that people with disabilities who are unable to work can live with dignity anywhere in the country. Canadians with disabilities face a patchwork of programs that fail to provide adequate income for those who cannot work or basic supports to remove barriers to employment. Canadians with episodic disabilities or serious illnesses like cancer often find that programs do not match their realities. A Paul Dewar led government would work with the disability community to create, within the first term, a federal income support program modelled after the GIS that would provide a guaranteed minimum income above the low-income cutoff for people with disabilities who are unable to secure adequate income from work alone.

Boosting the child tax benefit to ensure that the lowest income families receive a maximum of $5,300 per year per child after four years. Over twenty years after the House of Commons committed to eliminating child poverty, 639,000 children in Canada are living below the low-income cutoff. Decades of research shows that children who grow up in poverty face barriers to healthy development that can set them back for a lifetime. Paul Dewar’s plan would give every child in Canada a fair start by providing families with children with a basic level of income security.

Tackling inequality and poverty is also the smart economic thing to do. The Ontario Association of Food Banks put the annual cost of poverty at close to $90 billion dollars, through lost productivity, lost opportunity, and increased family violence. Inequality costs us through increased health costs, costs to the criminal justice system and through growing demands on an already stretched social services.

Together, these steps would ensure that Canada's most vulnerable are given the support they need to live in dignity, and the means to build the future they hope for. They will also take practical first steps to reduce the financial burden on Canada's middle class families.

Together, we can take better care of each other. We can represent the real majority of Canadians.

Coffee with Paul Dewar- Burnaby Monday January 30th 1:00 PM

Coffee with Paul - Burnaby
Mon, 01/30/2012 - 01:00

What: Coffee with Paul - Burnaby
When: Noon to 1:00pm Burnaby
Where: Tommy Douglas Branch, Burnaby Public Library, Program Room, 7311 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC

MLA Welfare Challenge: Jagrup Brar blogs about living on $610 a month

MLA Welfare Challenge: Jagrup Brar blogs about living on $610 a month

January 24, 2012 –Day 24 of Welfare Challenge

I volunteered at the Carnegie Community Centre in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) today.

Located at Main and Hastings, Carnegie is in the heart of the DTES. Over 400 volunteers contribute their time, talents and energy to the Carnegie each year.

Many people living in poverty come to Carnegie on a regular basis to volunteer in exchange for food. There is a sense of connection at Carnegie for the residents and homeless in the area.

When I arrived at Carnegie, I went to the kitchen to begin cutting up potatoes to feed hundreds of people that night. After volunteering my time, I was rewarded with a free, hot meal. It felt like quite an achievement for me.

After I completed my volunteer shift at Carnegie, I met with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), a short walk east of the Carnegie Centre.

For 12 years VANDU’s mission has been to provide user-based peer support and education to current or former drug users.

I met with a number of individuals at VANDU throughout the day, who shared their challenges with me.

Some members told me they used drugs to manage pain due to inadequate health coverage, while others used to escape their environment, seeking artificial happiness in the absence of the real thing. Some used to escape physical, physiological or sexual trauma.

Thank you to Laura, Hugh and Aiyanas for their valuable assistance in organizing this meeting.

Advocates and Food

Jan. 23, 2012 –Day 23 of Welfare Challenge

I met with the Front Line Advocacy Workers (FLAW) Project today.

The income disparity in the downtown core was evident in the walk to FLAW from along Hastings from Main to Burrard St.

FLAW is made up of a diverse group of individuals whose expertise ranges across tenants’ rights, immigration, legal education, family law, women services, health care and disability, homelessness and human rights.

At my meeting with FLAW advocacy workers I heard many stories that show how many people, but especially those with mental health issues or cognitive challenges have a hard time with the rules around welfare and other programs.

The claw back of child tax benefits was another issue raised and something I’ve heard a lot about over the course of the Welfare Challenge.

One advocacy worker told me that a 14-year-old boy came to live with his aunt. The aunt was refused welfare for the boy as he was not considered an eligible dependent, despite supporting him. Meanwhile, the federal government was trying to figure out if the aunt should be receiving the child tax benefits for the boy.

In the end it took six months for the government to agree to send the boy’s child tax benefit to the aunt in one lump sum. The province then deducted the child tax benefit amount from the aunt’s welfare cheque as income. The worker said that if a child tax benefit was paid on a regular monthly basis, it wouldn’t be considered income. However, if it is paid out as a lump sum it is considered income.

These stories highlight the important role of the advocates who assist some of our most vulnerable citizens without the means to protect themselves.

I would like to thank Alison Ward of Community Legal Assistance for organizing this very informative meeting with the front line advocacy workers.

In the evening I stood in line at Harbour Lights for a free meal. It was a long line of about 200 people. Volunteers would call people inside in small groups. After about forty minutes I was called in with some others and asked to sit in a waiting room.

There were around 4-5 rows of chairs put out for people to sit and wait. When our turn came, we were asked to go to the dining room where volunteers handed us each a tray of food. As I have said, I chose not to take free food for the first part of the challenge so after 23 days without eating meat, it seemed as if I had hit the jackpot! I could not believe my eyes and my mouth started to water I quickly went to the nearest vacant chair and sat down to eat. The smell, the sight, and the taste….it was such a delicious experience.

During my time at Harbour Lights I had the opportunity to meet many people and hear of their challenges. The majority of people I met with were also from SRO’s. Due to a lack of money and cooking facilities, they come here every day. In order to eat two meals a day, I was told by many that much of their day is spent standing in food lines.

Constituents Day

Jan. 20, 2012 – Day 20 of Welfare Challenge

I had meetings today with constituents at my office.

By the time I came back to my room in Vancouver I was extremely tired and struggled to make noodles for supper. I am getting sick of eating noodles. But, what can I do? They’re so cheap!

I find myself getting tired quite early in the day and hungry all the time. Part of this is that I made the choice not to accept the free food that is available through the food bank and other services during the first weeks of this challenge. People who recognize me on the street are kind enough to let me know where the free food lines are. I will use them in the coming days.

You may have noticed I am behind on my blogs. In this month of my life which is so out of the ordinary for me, I find that by the end of the day I am so exhausted and hungry that I have very little energy.

When I feel low energy, I think about all the people who live this life day in and day out. They will still be here when I go back to my life in Surrey. But I will not forget their stories, their smiles, and their encouragement that keeps me motivated to finish the rest of the MLA Welfare Challenge.

The New Democratic Party has a long tradition of standing up for low and middle income people


The New Democratic Party has a long tradition of standing up for low and middle income people -- both here in British Columbia and, with our federal party, across Canada.

Here in B.C., NDP governments elected in 1972, 1991, and 1996 have established a lasting legacy of progressive legislation for British Columbians.

Nationally, we've always made a difference.

Ed Broadbent former leader of the Federal NDP. David Murray candidate in 2011 in Abbotsford. His Father Bud worked on the Tommy Douglas campaign October 1935.
The New Democratic Party's roots go back to the people who tried to find a solution to the unemployment and poverty of the Great Depression in the 1930s. In 1932, representatives of socialist, farmer, church and labour groups met in Calgary to form the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) under the leadership of J.S. Woodsworth. A year later, the CCF met in Regina to adopt a constitution and platform that became known as the Regina Manifesto.

Many of the ideas the CCF fought for -- unemployment insurance, universal health care, decent wages and pensions -- are often taken for granted today, but they seemed like radical concepts at the time. CCF candidates worked on many fronts, running in municipal, provincial and federal elections.

The first CCF government was elected in 1944, when Tommy Douglas became Premier of Saskatchewan and established free hospital care, public automobile insurance, and progressive labour legislation.

When the Cold War began in the late 1940s, the CCF lost some of its popularity. Although the government in Saskatchewan was re-elected, the CCF had difficulty breaking into power in other provinces. There was growing interest in the creation of a new party that would expand on the traditional strengths of the CCF.

In 1961, over 2,000 delegates gathered in Ottawa to develop the constitution for a new party -- the New Democratic Party. Tommy Douglas was elected leader.

Initially, prospects for the new party didn't look good, when the Saskatchewan government was defeated in 1964 after a bitter doctors' strike against the introduction of Medicare.

But then in 1969, Ed Schreyer led the party to victory in the Manitoba provincial election and two years later the party was re-elected in Saskatchewan, with Alan Blakeney as Premier.

In 1972, Dave Barrett led the NDP into the long-awaited victory in B.C., and brought in new, progressive legislation that left a lasting legacy in the province.

In the same year, federal New Democrats under David Lewis elected 32 Members of Parliament and held the balance of power with a minority Liberal government.

The early 1980s looked promising for the NDP. Under the leadership of Ed Broadbent, the federal party elected 33 members and received 20 percent of the popular vote. And New Democrats were returned to power in Manitoba. But the party was unsuccessful in other provincial elections. Though the 1988 federal election saw 43 New Democrats (19 from B.C.) elected to Parliament, it was a disappointment to those who had hopes of forming the official opposition.

The 1990s brought new success for the NDP, when they elected governments in Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. In the 1991 provincial election in B.C., Mike Harcourt and the New Democrats brought down a discredited Socred government, ending a regime that had run the province for years. In 1996, the NDP was elected to an unprecedented second term in B.C.

Here's just some of what the BC NDP achieved in government between 1991 and 2001:

Economy: The lowest unemployment in 20 years

greatest job growth in Canada 1991-2000 (up 24%)
economy grew 3.4% in 2000
booming film, tourism and high tech sectors
second or third lowest income taxes in Canada for ordinary families
income taxes cut $800 million since 1995
lowest small business income taxes in Canada
best small business growth in Canada 1991-2000 (6.8% a year)
second lowest provincial debt per person
books balanced, last three budgets
second highest average wage in Canada ($17.48 an hour)
highest minimum wage in Canada
third lowest Hydro rates in North America and no increase since 1993
car insurance rates among lowest in Canada (no increase since 1996)

Health Care: Increased health funding every year since 1991.

BC is the only province that did not cut health care funding in 1990s
health budget increased by almost $1 billion in 2001 to fund new hospital equipment, train and recruit additional nurses and doctors
four new cancer clinics since 1991
best screening mammography program in Canada
best cancer recovery rate in Canada
most comprehensive health coverage of any province (including chiropractors, physical therapists, naturopaths, massage therapists, eye exams and podiatry)
one of the most extensive Pharmacare programs in Canada
a world leader in protecting kids from tobacco
guaranteed choice on abortion for BC women
innovative new BC HealthGuide Handbook and NurseLine

Environment: The best record in North America.

first in North America to reach UN goal of 12% protected parks and wilderness
created Tatshenshini-Alsek and 345 new protected areas and park additions since 1992
worked with communities, First Nations, companies, unions and environmentalists to protect coastal (Great Bear) rain forest
2.5 billion trees planted in ten years
moratorium on grizzly bear hunting, and Khutzeymateen grizzly bear sanctuary
toughest forest practices rules in North America ensured sustainable forestry and access to international markets
new laws protected fish-bearing streams
urban salmon habitat program restored salmon runs
cut chlorine discharge from pulp mills by 80%
Green Economy Initiative promoted innovative environmental technology
Eco-tourism strategy
2,500 km of recreational forest trails built
10,000 km of damaging logging roads removed

Advanced Education: From second worst to second best in Canada.

tuition fees cut 5% in 2001, after five-year freeze
BC tuition fees 44% lower than Alberta, 46% lower than Ontario
three new universities (Northern BC, Royal Roads, Tech BC)
40,000 new post-secondary student spaces since 1992
most comprehensive student assistance programs in Canada
5,025 additional post-secondary spaces and
3,150 more apprenticeship spaces in 2001
five community colleges designated as University Colleges
participation rate in post secondary education improved from second worst in Canada in 1991 to second in 2001 (after Quebec)

Children: A strong start for BC kids.

lower class sizes in Grades 1 - 3 improved reading and writing skills
a new school was built every 19 days
136,000 new spaces and 5,423 classrooms were added since 1991
only province that did not reduce education funding in 1990s
4,000 additional teachers hired since 1991
658 portables removed since 1998
school lunch program helped kids in need
heritage language program in 150 schools offered 26 languages including Chinese, Punjabi and aboriginal languages
before and after school care program launched in 2001 helped 19,000 kids
lowest child poverty rate in Canada after PEI
BC child care was ranked best in Canada (Vancouver Sun, Sept.26, 2000)

Social Justice: Fairness and respect for all.

eliminated provincial income tax for 100,000 low-income British Columbians
one of only two provinces that continued to build social housing (6,500 units completed, 275 planned for Woodward's Building/Downtown Eastside)
BC Family Bonus helped low and modest income families
strengthened human rights legislation
public and private sector pension benefits extended to common-law and same sex spouses
pay equity law worked to end wage discrimination against women
improved occupational health and safety standards
anti-scab law protected workers' rights
balanced Labour Code reduced days lost to strikes/lockouts and ensured fair union certification process
finalized the Nisga'a Treaty - Canada's first modern treaty
commitment to negotiating land claims, not courts and referenda

In May 2001, after ten years of making real progress for ordinary people in B.C., the NDP was defeated by the provincial Liberal party. Since that time, many British Columbians have been hurt by the Liberal government's mean-spirited and uncaring approach -- an approach that broke key election promises, cut health and education, neglected the needs of seniors, children and the most vulnerable people in B.C., and left average families paying more taxes and fees but getting fewer services in return. Despite an economy made prosperous by cyclical commodity prices and low interest rates, too many British Columbians were being left behind.

Throughout the first term of the BC Liberal government, NDP Leader Joy MacPhail and MLA Jenny Kwan fought daily to make sure the Liberals couldn't ignore the needs of ordinary people. Their tenacity and spirit was an inspiration to every British Columbian who yearned to restore balance in B.C.

Carole James was elected Leader of the BC New Democrats on November 23, 2003. While Joy and Jenny -- joined by Jagrup Brar after the Surrey-Panorama Ridge by-election of October 2004 -- held the Liberal government accountable in the Legislature, Carole traveled the province to meet with community organizations, business groups, labour representatives and thousands of ordinary people.

In May 2005, Carole led a revitalized NDP to an historic comeback, electing 33 MLAs and forming the largest NDP opposition in B.C. history.

Under Carole's leadership, the new opposition worked hard on behalf of all British Columbians, holding the arrogant Liberal government accountable for:

massive pay hikes for Liberal advisors
refusing to raise the minimum wage since 2002
$500 million in wasteful spending at the Vancouver Convention Centre
a toothless lobbyist act that allows the Liberals' friends special treatment
lack of investment in public transit and a gas tax that lets big polluters off the hook
promotion of offshore oil drilling and millions in subsidies to oil companies
allowing homelessness in Vancouver to increase almost 400% in just a few years
growing health care wait lists and neglectful care of seniors

On October 29, 2008, the BC NDP won two key by-elections with just months to go before the provincial elections. Jenn McGinn was elected in Vancouver-Fairview and Spencer Herbert was elected in Vancouver-Burrard, taking back a seat the Liberals had held since 2001. With the addition of McGinn and Herbert, Carole's team grew to 34 seats in the BC Legislature.

On May 12, 2009, 42% of British Columbians voted for Carole James and the NDP, the highest level of support in 23 years.

On July 23, 2009, the Liberals brok their election promise and announce that the HST will be introduced the following year in British Columbia, hurting families and small businesses across the province. Carole James and the BC NDP lead the fight to stop the HST, quickly collecting over 100,000 signatures on a petition to scrap the HST.

On December 6, 2010, Carole James stepped down as leader of the BC NDP. In her years as leader, Carole saw the growth of the party into a strong opposition and to unprecedented levels of publc support.

On April 17, 2011, following a four month leadership race, Adrian Dix was elected leader of BC's New Democrats. Adrian served as the MLA for Vancouver-Kingsway since 2005, and has held the Liberals accountable for their failures as the New Democrat Healthcare Critic.

In June, Adrian Dix kicked off the New Democrats' campaign to defeat the Liberals' HST in a province-wide referendum. For the next eight weeks, Adrian and his team campaigned in communities all across British Columbia. On August 26, Elections BC announced that the HST had been soundly defeated. This victory is part of the momentum building in BC, of voters who are ready for a fairer, more just province for everyone.

NDP condemns Canada’s request to keep proceeds from corruption

NDP condemns Canada’s request to keep proceeds from corruption
Hélène Laverdière says seized assets should be returned to the Tunisian people

January 28, 2012

OTTAWA - New Democrat MP and Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs Hélène Laverdière (Laurier – Ste-Marie) today condemned the Harper government’s request to Tunisian authorities that Canada keep up to 50% of assets seized from family members of the disgraced former President of Tunisia.

“I am shocked that the Canadian government would seek to keep this money from the Tunisian people,” said Laverdière. “This money was stolen from the Tunisian people through corruption, and Canada has no right to it.”

New Democrats have been calling on the Harper Government to freeze the assets of the Ben Ali family members for over a year, since the arrival of Belhassan Trabelsi to Canada in January 2011. “The government dragged its feet on seizing the assets of corrupt Tunisian officials living in Canada, giving these people time to try to dispose of their assets,” said Laverdière. “Now that Canada has finally done what they promised to do a year ago, they are refusing to release any details about the seized assets and want to keep up to half of the money here. Where is the transparency and accountability?”

Laverdière noted that Canada should send any seized assets acquired through corruption back to Tunisia. “The Prime Minister has said he supports the democratic aspirations of Tunisians. First he objected to letting Tunisians living in Canada the right to vote in their elections. Then he tries to keep part of the proceeds from corruption. Canadians are outraged at this blatant disrespect for democracy.”

New Democrats urge Harper to work together with provinces on public safety

Failed Conservative crime policies to cost provinces billions: NDP
New Democrats urge Harper to work together with provinces on public safety

January 29, 2012

OTTAWA – New Democrats are blasting Stephen Harper for forging ahead unilaterally with a multi-billion dollar prisons agenda many provinces have said they don’t want – and can’t afford.

“The Conservatives like to talk about working with the provinces and territories, but as we saw with the Health Accord negotiations last week, Stephen Harper has stopped listening to the provinces,” said Jack Harris, NDP Justice Critic and MP for St. John’s East.

“Provincial and territorial ministers are united in asking the Conservatives to consult with them on the implementation costs for their omnibus crime bill. But instead of showing leadership, Stephen Harper is walking away and leaving Canadians with the bill for his photo-op prisons agenda.”

The Ontario government announced this week that the bill will cost the province’s taxpayers $1-billion, while Quebec estimates prison expansion costs could run as high as $545 million.

“In tough economic times, Stephen Harper is not only slashing the services hard-hit families rely on – he’s hitting the provinces with his expensive prisons agenda and letting them deal with the problem. It’s unacceptable,” said NDP MP Françoise Boivin (Gatineau).

“The Conservatives should have sat down with the provinces and territories to discuss the cost implications – instead Stephen Harper rammed his misguided legislation through Parliament. They need to go back to the drawing board and let the provinces in on the discussion, before this bill becomes law.”

8,400 votes have been cast on this online poll so far for the new NDP Leadership Candidate

8,400 votes have been cast on this online poll so far.
Peggy Nash 1,824 (21.9%)

Paul Dewar 1,751 (21.0%)

Thomas Mulcair 1,467 (17.6%)

Nathan Cullen 1,183 (14.2%)

Niki Ashton 705 (8.5%)

Romeo Saganash 608 (7.3%)

Brian Topp 575 (6.9%)

Martin Singh 230 (2.8%)
None of these 17

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Alexandra Taylor meets Newt Gingrich in Naples Florida

By Alexandra Taylor.

My week has been very interesting thus far! Went to see Newt Gingrich in Naples, Florida. My, oh, my! The hatred spewed to us was unlike anything I've ever seen or experienced. A man put his hands on my friend, who happens to be a lesbian, and called her a "[expletive] dyke" and yelled very angrily at her. For picketing. Simply picketing. I was so upset! Some woman called me a bad name as well and told me to go to hell. I'm there sort of activist who doesn't believe in yelling angrily or retalaliating with name calling, as then it discredits the message we are trying to get across to raise awareness about global economic injustice and to keep it on the agenda, as well as making me no better than those who spew the hatred in the first place. But I just smiled back at the woman, and she told me to eff off. Unreal. And some of the other picketers were minorities, and they got called all sorts of racist names! I couldn't believe it. Silly me didn't do the research about Naples beforehand, and I had no idea it was as affulent as it was. It was truly walking into the belly of the beast! An experience that moved me profoundly, truly. I had no idea that it would have the effect on me that it did. My friend who was called a "dyke" recently came back from a trip to Vancouver and is absolutely dying to go back, and to live there, because it's so free from the hate and physical violence that she experienced. And that wasn't the first time she's ever been called nasty names because of her sexual orientation. We became friends on Facebook a few months ago before meeting at one of the protests down here for the first time, and what initially caused us to be friends was the fact that she knew who Jack Layton was and loved him, and knew all about the NDP. We hung out last night in Fort Myers with another friend of ours and we taught him all about Jack Layton as well. And I gave them both Jack pins that I bought at the BC convention in December with the famous "love is better than anger, hope is better than fear" quote. They were both very excited for me that I was going to the convention!

I'm so glad that the Paul Dewar day is shaping up well. I was telling my mom just yesterday about how much he impressed me when I met him and how great his position was on the whole Palestinian state question that I asked him. He believes in honouring their territory as a state, which I think is a great thing, because it would hopefully be one step in the long journey toward peace in the middle east. My mom approved greatly of his response when I told her. He's a great candidate, and very much of the same type of social democratic mold as Jack -- I have been concerned ever since Jack died that the party would become infiltrated by people who wanted to change what the party was all about -- ie. changing the message that no one should be left behind in a fair and balanced Canada. Dewar gives me hope that the party will move forward and honour Jack's dream.

Momentum is building in B.C for Paul Dewar's bid to lead Canada's NDP Official Opposition.

Momentum is building in Paul Dewar's bid to lead Canada's NDP Official Opposition. He's travelling the country: connecting with people and building progressive, grassroots support for his campaign. And it's working. It's why this month has been full of many big people at all levels of our party - and even some outside of it - are gravitating towards his leadership team.

Now, he's coming back to BC. In hopes of meeting with more of you.

We've packed his schedule full, trying to give as many people as possible the chance to feel, first hand, his ability to connect and inspire, to give you a chance to ask your questions and to hear what he has to say on the issues that matter to all of us. And he sure has some interesting and innovative ideas about how to beat Stephen Harper and make Canada a stronger, more caring country. Hopefully you can make it to one of the events:


In Burnaby:

"Coffee and chat" at the Tommy Douglas Branch of the Burnaby Public Library (Program Room), 7311 Kingsway, Burnaby. Noon to 1 PM

In Vancouver:

"Winning the next 70: A townhall meeting hosted by MLA Mable Elmore" at the Kensington Community Centre (multi-purpose room), 5175 Dumfries Street, Vancouver. 7 to 8:30 PM

"Pints with Paul" at The Main, 4210 Main Street, Vancouver. 9 to 10:30 PM


In Kamloops:

"Lunch with Paul" at the Smorgasbord Deli, 225 7th Avenue, Kamloops. 12:30 to 2 PM

In Vernon:

"Coffee and chat" at The Pantry, 3908 32nd Street, Vernon. 4 to 5:30 PM

In Kelowna:

"Meet and Greet with Paul" at Truffles Chocolate Café, 1282 Ellis Street, Kelowna. 6:30 to 8 PM


In Nanaimo:

"Lunchtime chat" at the MGM Restaurant, 240 Nicol Street (Old Island Highway), Naniamo. 11:30 AM to 1 PM

In Duncan:

"Coffee and chat" at Island Bagel, 48 Station Street, Duncan. 1:45 to 2:45 PM

On the Sunshine Coast:

"Townhall meeting" at Roberts Creek Hall, 1309 Roberts Creek Road, Roberts Creek. 7 to 9 PM

We hope you can make it out to see and hear Paul in action - and to use it as a chance to meet other people, like yourself, who want to see our progressive values prosper. And, if these times and dates don't work for you, there will be other opportunities and locations in his next rounds. So stay tuned.

All the best,

The BC team for Paul Dewar

P.S. Watch this video to get a better feel for what Paul is all about:.

Dewar, Mulcair get backing from MPs

Dewar, Mulcair get backing from MPs
Posted on Fri, Jan 27, 2012, 1:09 pm by Colin Horgan

Ahead of this weekend’s leadership debate in Halifax, New Democrat leadership candidates Paul Dewar and Thomas Mulcair each announced respective endorsements from other MPs.

Dewar pulled in two MPs Friday, receiving a nod from Ontario MPs Claude Gravelle and Irene Mathyssen.

Mathyssen has served as MP for London-Fanshawe since 2006, and Gravelle has represented the Nickel Belt riding in Ottawa since 2008. Gravelle is also a fluent French speaker, which could lend some needed confidence in Dewar, who has been criticized in the past for not having a good grip on the language. Dewar has been attending French lessons in an effort to beef up his abilities before the leadership convention on March 24 in Toronto.

In a statement released by Dewar’s campaign, Gravelle and Mathyssen both praised Dewar for what they see as his ability to garner appeal in multiple regions of the country.

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Committee Watch Provided by
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Problems with third-party managers identified in 2003 report: assistant AG
House Defence
Lieutenant General fields barrage on F35s
Banking, trade
and commerce
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aboriginal and northern affairs
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Legislation Monitor Follow the bills

C-360, An Act to support Canadian professional football
C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen’s arrest and the defences of property and persons)
C-288, An Act respecting the National Flag of Canada
C-317, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (labour organizations)
S-202, An Act to establish and maintain a national registry of medical devices
S-4, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Transportation Act

Lobby Watcher

lobbywatcher Natural Resources Min. Joe Oliver was lobbied by The Coal Association of Canada on Jan. 23 16 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Public Safety Min. Vic Toews was lobbied by Genome Canada on Jan. 18 9 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Environment Min. Peter Kent was lobbied by The Canadian Lung Association on Jan. 10 9 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Agriculture Min. Gerry Ritz was lobbied by Canadian Meat Council on Jan. 13 10 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Transport Min. Denis Lebel was lobbied by Association quebecoise du transport aerien on Jan. 11 10 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Public Safety Min. Vic Toews was lobbied by Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. on Dec. 15 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Industry Min. Christian Paradis was lobbied by Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. on Dec. 07 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Industry Min. Christian Paradis was lobbied by Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. on Dec. 08 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Prime Minister Stephen Harper was lobbied by Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. on Dec. 08 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Min. of State (Science and Technology) Gary Goodyear was lobbied by Mitacs Inc. on Dec. 20 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher International Trade Min. Ed Fast was lobbied by Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. on Dec. 08 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Natural Resources Min. Joe Oliver was lobbied by Mylan Pharmaceuticals ULC on Dec. 16 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Health Min. Leona Aglukkaq was lobbied by De Beers Canada Inc. on Nov. 22 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Citizenship Min. Jason Kenney was lobbied by Rogers Communications Inc. on Dec. 02 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

lobbywatcher Aboriginal Affairs Min. John Duncan was lobbied by Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. on Oct. 27 11 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite
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Rookie Newfoundland MP Ryan Cleary threw his support behind Mulcair Friday. Mulcair is widely seen as appealing most to voters in Quebec, given his past as a provincial cabinet minister.

“Thomas has Newfoundland and Labrador’s back in terms of the issues that affect us most. We made incredible gains in the last election and, with his leadership, we will make even more in 2015,” Cleary said in a statement.

Mulcair was due to make an announcement in St. John’s Friday, but the event had to be cancelled due to poor weather.

The MP endorsements are not out of the ordinary. Both Peggy Nash and Brian Topp also each have a number of current MPs backing their campaigns for leadership.

Topp boasts some new, high-profile MPs like Alexandre Boulerice, Jinny Sims, Charmaine Borg, and Libby Davies.

For her part, Nash has received endorsements from Randall Garrison, Dany Morin, Anne Minh-Thu Quach, and Marjorlaine Boutin-Sweet.

Sunday’s leadership debate in Halifax is due to start at 2 p.m. ATL.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ginny Devine Endorses Dewar For NDP Leader

Ginny Devine Endorses Dewar For NDP Leader
January 26th, 2012

WINNIPEG – Today, respected New Democrat, pollster and former Chief of Staff to Manitoba Premier Howard Pawley, Ginny Devine added her name to Paul Dewar’s growing list of supporters.

“I’ve worked with winning politicians across the country and the thing that they all have in common with Paul is an ability to connect with and really understand the things that matter to families,” said Devine. “With his ideas, passion and charisma, Paul is building an incredible team that’s ready to win the next election.”

As President of Viewpoints Research, Devine has worked closely with several NDP provincial sections and the federal NDP, including in the 2011 breakthrough election.

“Ginny is a smart political strategist, a friend and someone whose advice and support I’m grateful for,” said Dewar. “We’re building a team that knows what it takes to win those next 70 seats and Ginny brings a lot of experience to the table.”

Dewar noted that Devine joins a strong team of NDP strategists from Manitoba including Bob Dewar who ran Gary Doer’s winning campaigns in 1999 and 2003 and Michael Balagus who ran the Manitoba NDP’s third and fourth consecutive winning campaigns in 2007 and 2011.

Veteran MPs Mathyssen and Gravelle endorse Paul Dewar for leader

Veteran MPs Mathyssen and Gravelle endorse Paul Dewar for leader
January 27th, 2012

Momentum grows for Dewar as he picks up two more big endorsements

OTTAWA—Today two more senior Ontario MPs and members of the NDP shadow cabinet, London-Fanshawe MP Irene Mathyssen and Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle, endorsed Paul Dewar for leader of the NDP.

“I took my time in this leadership race. I watched all the candidates and made the decision that Paul is the leader with the skills to grow our party in new regions across the country,” said Mathyssen. “Paul has the experience that counts: in the community, in Parliament, and on the international stage. You can tell he gets people and people get him”.

Irene Mathyssen is a former teacher and Ontario MPP. Irene has served as the Member of Parliament for the riding of London-Fanshawe since 2006. Under Jack Layton, she was named the Official Opposition critic for seniors in the spring of 2011 after serving as the Status of Women critic for five years. She is currently the chair of Standing Committee on the Status of Women and sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee. She has previously served as the chair of the NDP’s women’s caucus and as the vice-chair of the Status of Women Committee.

Claude Gravelle was first elected to Parliament in 2008 in the Northern Ontario riding of Nickel Belt. Gravelle is a Franco-Ontarian, a steelworker, and under Jack Layton, the NDP critic for La Francophonie as well as Mining and FedNor. He is the Chair of the NDP Northern Caucus and the Natural Resources critic in the NDP shadow cabinet.

“I’ve worked side by side with Paul in caucus. He knows how to bring people together – regardless of differences of opinion. That’s a great strength in a leader,” said Gravelle. “Paul has the vision and he is thinking ahead. He knows that if he wins the leadership, the real work begins to win the next 70 seats and he is laying the foundations now. That’s what I want in a leader”.

For Dewar these endorsements are proof that his campaign is building momentum.

“I am honored to have the support of Irene and Claude. They are two close colleagues and friends, and my team is better with them on board,” said Dewar. “Irene has been one of the strongest advocates for women’s issues ever in our party and she brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to whatever she takes on. Claude has proven himself a stalwart in our party. He is strategic, hard working, and he knows how to get things done. I am honored that MPs of their caliber have put their trust in me.”

Nova Scotia MLA, Maurice Smith, endorses Paul Dewar for leader of the NDP

Nova Scotia MLA, Maurice Smith, endorses Paul Dewar for leader of the NDP
January 27th, 2012

HALIFAX – On the eve of Sunday’s Halifax NDP leadership debate, Paul Dewar has won a key Nova Scotia endorsement with the announcement that MLA Maurice Smith (Antigonish) has joined his campaign.

“I waited and looked at all the candidates before deciding to support Paul Dewar,” said Maurice Smith. “I am particularly impressed with Paul’s vision of a progressive direction for Canada, his ability to connect with people, and his commitment to grow the NDP in Atlantic Canada”.

Maurice Smith was elected as an NDP MLA (Antigonish) in 2009. Prior to his election, Smith was a lawyer with Nova Scotia Legal Aid and Senior Counsel and managing lawyer in the Antigonish/Port Hawkesbury office. Smith has a long history of community involvement in Antigonish.

“Over the course of the leadership campaign Paul has consistently talked about the need to build a stronger and more caring Canada,” said Smith. “It is clear to me that Paul will be an effective Leader of the Official Opposition, and has the experience needed to become Canada’s first NDP Prime Minister”.

Paul Dewar noted that Maurice Smith’s endorsement is a sign of his commitment to grow the NDP in Atlantic Canada.

“If we are going to move from the official opposition to government, our party must build and grow in Atlantic Canada,” said Paul Dewar. “As leader, building the NDP in Nova Scotia and across Atlantic Canada will be a top priority for me.

The power of women- Jagrup Brar's Blog

The power of women
Posted on January 26, 2012 by raisetherates

I had the opportunity to meet with a very courageous and amazing group of women at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre today [January 18].

The centre provides services to homeless women who are struggling with addiction or trying to escape abuse. Many come here for the very basics of support such as food, shelter and showers, but can also find help if they are in need of emergency, relocation or bridge housing.

The group I met with today is called The Power of Women. I heard many troubling stories, similar to what was shared earlier today in the town hall meeting at Carnegie. This is a group of women that have a powerful voice, passion and deep commitment to fight for justice and equality for women. They are a real force.

Thank you to Harsha Walia for organizing the meeting and thank you to The Power of Women Group – I understand it was difficult for many of you to share some of the darkest times of your lives. I am very grateful to all of you for allowing me the opportunity to share in some of the challenges that you have faced. You are truly an amazing group of women!


January 24th, 2012

Recommendations point to lack of accountability, need for affordability

VICTORIA— A report released today by B.C. Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee provides more evidence of the Liberal government’s failure to ensure the corporation is accountable to ferry users and exposes major flaws with the B.C. Liberals’ Coastal Ferry Act, says New Democrat ferry critic Gary Coons.

“The Liberals promised families and communities stability when they brought in the Coastal Ferry Act in 2003– yet since then, fares have increased by 80 per cent on minor routes and 47 per cent on major routes while ridership has plummeted, leaving our ferry system on the brink,” said Coons. “It’s no wonder that ferry users told the commissioner that they don’t feel the Coastal Ferries Act is working for them.”

According to the Commissioner, “current ferry fares and the proposed increases have reached the tipping point of affordability and are imposing significant hardship on ferry dependent communities and the ability of people to visit family members and friends as frequently as they would like.”

The report made 24 recommendations on how to decrease the cost of the ferry system and increase its revenues, and proposed sweeping changes aimed at making the corporation more accountable.

“It’s clear that the Liberals’ failed to ensure that ferry dependent communities’ interests would be protected when they restructured our ferry system,” said Coons. “Their failure to ensure the corporation would be accountable to British Columbians has taken money out of the pockets of families and put our ferries system in disarray.”

Coons noted this is the third investigation which has uncovered a need for greater oversight and accountability at B.C. Ferries.

“After years of unrealistic executive salaries, and out of control spending on advertising and corporate perks, it seems like everyone except the Liberals know that there is a disturbing accountability gap at B.C. Ferries,” said Coons. “This is the third report outlining the need for improved oversight of B.C. Ferries – it’s time for the Liberals to get to work."

Adrian Dix and the New Democrats understand that the ferry system is a vital link to our coastal communities that needs to be accessible and affordable for families.

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

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

January 19, 2012

Conservatives are making their priorities clear. While out-of-work Canadians are waiting longer and longer for EI, Conservatives are throwing money at an EI agency that does nothing.

Since 2008, $3.3 million was spent on the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board. Problem is, no work was being done on its own mandate.

Two executives have been paid around $244,000 a year, and executive members have been flown in from around the country.

According to the Minister responsible, Diane Finley, this is a “prudent use of taxpayers’ money.”

Really? We wonder how many Canadians would agree.

According to documents obtained by the Globe and Mail, in October 2011 there were 360,481 people waiting for EI. And HRDC reported in December that almost 250,000 Canadians had been waiting more than 28 days for their claims to be processed.

Once again the Conservatives make their priorities plain: leave out-of-work Canadians waiting while Ottawa insiders and their well connected friends get all the breaks.

NDP REALITY CHECK: About those documents, Tony ...

NDP REALITY CHECK: About those documents, Tony ...

January 24, 2012

Among the outlandish statements made by Tony Clement about the G8 slush fund, the quote below certainly stands out for particular concern. When asked about the G8 slush fund in the House of Commons, Clement replied:

“The facts are that all of those documents were provided to the Auditor General”
– Tony Clement, Hansard, December 7, 2011

Interesting. But what did the Auditor General say about this?

“We did approach the minister's office to request any documentation that was available in the minister's office or in the constituency office to explain how the projects were selected. We received a small amount of documentation, which wasn't directly relevant to the question of the project selection…”
– John Wiersema, Interim Auditor General, Standing Committee on Public Accounts, October 5, 2011

And the documents released yesterday by the NDP show that Clement had files on the 242 project submissions, and the 32 that he was involved with selecting.

So when Tony Clement starts trying to split hairs about the difference between ‘choosing’, ‘selecting’ and ‘recommending’ the 32 projects which got funding, does he really think he has any credibility left?

If he really does want to clear the air, will he finally now agree to release publically all documents relating to the $50 million G8 slush fund?

Reality check: Conservatives have a consistency problem with the seal hunt

Reality check: Conservatives have a consistency problem with the seal hunt

January 25, 2012

Yesterday three Conservative Ministers took time away from important meetings with First Nations leaders to launch a partisan attack on NDP MP Ryan Cleary – an MP known for his strong advocacy for a sustainable and humane seal industry – for pointing out how foreign bans on the seal hunt may one day make the industry unviable.

But what have Conservative Ministers said about this?

“Mr. Speaker, we are here today for obvious reasons that relate to the recent vote in the European parliament, which, if effected, would place a devastating blow and some would even suggest an end to the seal hunt in Canada...Inuit hunters themselves have said that if this ban goes into place, it would effectively end their market.”
– Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade, Hansard, May 11, 2009

Or Conservative MPs?

“If this [European Parliament] resolution carries and the seal hunt is dead in Canada, and it will be if this resolution goes to the very end, who will do the cull?”
– David Tilson, Hansard, May 5, 2009

And as for Conservatives claiming to be champions of the industry, let’s see what industry representatives have said:

“First and foremost, we have always maintained that the federal government’s position on seals has been weak…One of the issues we have with the federal government, and I related this to Minister Fast and Minister Penashue in September, the federal government does not appear to be serious about the issue...”
– Frank Pinhorn, Executive Director Canadian Sealers Association. 15 Nov, 2011

“We put forward a proposal to DFO back in 2010, which was never acknowledged. That proposal meant taking industry and participants and using the expertise of all those involved to develop a plan to address the grey seal issue. There was no response.”
– Eldred Woodford, President Canadian Sealers Association. 15 Nov, 2011

As usual, Conservatives have one set of rules for themselves and another for everyone else.

Statement from NDP MP Fin Donnelly, opposition critic for fisheries and oceans, on Canada’s commercial seal harvest

Statement from NDP MP Fin Donnelly, opposition critic for fisheries and oceans, on Canada’s commercial seal harvest

January 25, 2012

The NDP has a long standing position in support of a humane, market driven and sustainable commercial seal harvest. We also strongly defend the rights of the Inuit to engage in their traditional and commercial seal harvest. And as the industry faces challenges and changes, we must all be focused on working together with those who rely on the seal harvest for their livelihoods to address these very real challenges.

New Democrats believe that it is wrong to try and politicize this issue and play divisive partisan games. Conservatives attempting to do so are not helping or supporting sealers and their communities. These out-of-touch Conservative Ministers should be ashamed of themselves for releasing a hypocritical statement that puts wedge politics ahead of the well-being of Canada’s East Coast communities.

Just last November, the Executive Director of the Canadian Sealers Association testified before a Parliamentary Committee that “the federal government’s position on seals has been weak,” the Harper government “does not appear to be serious about the issue” and “are either afraid of it or ashamed of it.”

As for comments from local Newfoundland NDP MP Ryan Cleary, as he said repeatedly, he fully supports our position. He was doing his job as an MP, raising important issues about the future of this industry in light of the very real challenges it faces. Taking these comments out of context in order to play cynical political games does a disservice to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and everyone involved in this industry.

Health committee must stop ignoring health care funding

Health committee must stop ignoring health care funding
NDP MPs ask Health Committee to review federal health care funding

January 26, 2012

OTTAWA – New Democrats have convened a meeting today of the Standing Committee on Health to address the urgent need to define the federal government’s role in future health care funding.

“We are at a critical crossroads in the history of Medicare in this country. Last week in Victoria, the premiers made it clear that they expect more from the federal government. But Conservatives have failed to take the lead in helping plan – and fund – future public health care in Canada,” said New Democrat Health critic Libby Davies. “Provinces, and Canadians, want action now. And the NDP is responding to that call.”

NDP members of the Health Committee submitted a letter to the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Health on January 23, 2012, demanding an urgent meeting to discuss this issue.

The MPs are reacting to the Conservative proposal to unilaterally cut federal health transfers, which the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said would increase the amount provinces pay for health care and limit the funding they receive from Ottawa.

"As members of the Standing Committee on Health, we believe it is our responsibility as federal MPs to deal with this issue immediately," added Davies. "This committee is accountable to the public. We ask the Conservative members of this Committee to listen to Canadians and work with New Democrats to ensure Canada live up to its commitments in the 2004 Health Accord and ensure we have a strong and sustainable public health care system for years to come.”

Statement by NDP Leader Nycole Turmel on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Statement by NDP Leader Nycole Turmel on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27, 2012

Today marks the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the largest Nazi death camps. The United Nations declared this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day so that we have the opportunity to honour the memory of Holocaust victims.

We will never forget the evil that fuelled the cruel deaths of millions of innocent people. That is why I join Canadians from all walks of life in remembering the tragedies and continuing to fight against intolerance and hatred.

Natural Resources cuts bad for economy, environment

Natural Resources cuts bad for economy, environment: NDP
Harper Conservatives allow Canada to fall behind on clean energy investments
OTTAWA - New Democrats are condemning the Harper Conservatives for slashing environment-friendly programs and jobs at Natural Resources Canada.

“It seems government officials got a memo to slash anything clean or green – or that even has the word, ‘eco’ in it,” said NDP Natural Resources critic Claude Gravelle, reacting to news of new cuts at the department.

In addition to cutting the hugely popular ecoENERGY Retrofit program, the department is cutting back on the Clean Air Agenda, ecoTRANSPORT Strategy, Canada’s Forest Sector Initiative, as well as cutting grants to Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

“Its utter nonsense for the government to pretend these cuts won’t adversely affect public services or the environment. It’s night and day to compare Stephen Harper’s inaction against what President Obama is doing. While our government stands idly by, Americans are talking about developing renewable energy that’s cleaner, cheaper and creates jobs.”

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama said federal investments had helped double reserves of renewable energy, creating thousands of jobs.
“Energy efficiency initiatives are crucial for both Canada’s environment and its economy,” said Anne Marie Day (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles), a member of the Natural Resources Committee. “Federal support for home energy efficiency retrofits makes good economic and environmental sense. It can help curb energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create local jobs while providing Canadians with permanent savings on their home energy bills.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paul Dewar has a Vision

This leadership race is about ideas.

I've worked hard, each step of the way, to share my ideas on how we can build a stronger, more caring Canada together.

In the months ahead, I'll keep sharing my ideas with you and I'll keep traveling across the country to hear your ideas.


[ ] Creating good jobs and training opportunities for Canadians
[ ] Strengthening and modernizing our hospitals
[ ] Providing opportunities for youth and reducing tuition fees
[ ] Opening the door to politics for more women
[ ] Building and improving our towns and cities
[ ] Supporting Canadian arts and culture
[ ] A clean energy future for Canada
[ ] Protecting Canada's Freshwater Resources


January 25th, 2012

VANCOUVER – New Democrat caucus chair Shane Simpson is challenging Christy Clark to set a new tone for her party as MLAs prepare to head back to the legislature in a few weeks.

“British Columbians are facing tough economic times in 2012. Instead of outlining a plan to address their concerns in a meaningful way, Ms. Clark marked the New Year by rolling up her sleeves and signing off on a multi-million dollar campaign of misleading, personal attack ads against New Democrat leader Adrian Dix,” said Simpson.

“The tone set by the Premier in her attack ads sends the wrong message to people who are looking for some hope and optimism about the future,” said Simpson.

“There’s a growing desire among British Columbians for politics to be done differently. In contrast to Clark, Adrian Dix and the New Democrat caucus are committed to providing positive alternatives and solutions to everyday problems that people face.

"The feedback to me and my caucus colleagues is that British Columbians are not responding to Liberal attacks, while our message continues to be received positively. I am hearing from people from all walks of life that Clark’s attack ads were annoying and came across as a desperate measure from a leader and a party that are out of ideas and have nothing positive to offer British Columbians,” said Simpson.

“Hopefully Premier Clark has heard the same message and is ready to accept our challenge to set a more positive political tone on Feb. 14 when the Legislature resumes its work in Victoria.”

Simpson noted that Adrian Dix and B.C. New Democrats will be meeting in Kelowna next week to prepare for the upcoming legislative session and will continue to focus on the issues that matter to British Columbians, holding the B.C. Liberals to account on the issues and offering positive solutions to the challenges facing our province.

"I Will Fight For Your Jobs" – Paul Dewar

"I Will Fight For Your Jobs" – Paul Dewar
January 24th, 2012

Dewar calls on local Conservative MPs to stand up for public service jobs
OTTAWA – New Democrat MP Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) is calling on local Conservative MPs to stand up against cuts to public service jobs.

"I will fight for your jobs and the quality public services Canadians expect from their government" said Dewar. "I call on all the local MPs, particularly Conservative MPs, to stand up in defence of public service employees."

Dewar was reacting to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives which found federal cuts could kill between 60,000 and 68,000 jobs in the public service. The cuts would have a devastating impact on the quality of public services across the country and on our local economy.

Dewar met with representatives of the Public Service Alliance of Canada today as part of his NDP leadership tour. During the meeting he spoke about protecting public services and the people who provide them. He laid out his plans to:

End partisan meddling in professional public service by establishing a code of conduct for ministerial staff, capping partisan appointments of "special advisors" and establishing merit-based public appointments.
Respect Public Service employees by improving legislative protection for whistleblowers and strengthening oversight of the Integrity Commissioner. And,
Create real public service jobs instead of federal government's over-reliance on temporary help services; modernize hiring mechanisms in consultation with employee unions and managers.
"Good governance begins with a relationship of trust and respect between public service employees and the political leadership," said Dewar. "Mr. Harper's approach is to strike fear in our public service. My approach is to address the real needs faced by Canadians."

CBC/Radio-Canada must continue serving all Canadians

CBC/Radio-Canada must continue serving all Canadians: Turmel
The public broadcaster has a key role to play in this country, reminds NDP Leader
Tweet thisShare thisEmail thisJanuary 22, 2012MONTRÉAL—CBC/Radio-Canada is a key actor in Canadian society and the Conservative government shouldn’t blindly slash their budget without taking into consideration the needs of communities, New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel said during her visit to Montreal today.

“A 10 percent budget reduction means that CBC/Radio-Canada’s funding would be slashed by more than 100 million dollars per year,” Turmel said. “Some Conservative members wanted to cut the budget by 20 percent”

The NDP recognizes the importance of CBC/Radio-Canada for Canadian communities, including those in remote areas and minority language communities.

“The Conservatives are about to butcher a national cultural jewel and that’s worrisome. Quebec culture won’t be the same without CBC/Radio-Canada. And many communities located outside major centres, who count on the crown corporation for news and entertainment, risk seeing their public service deteriorate,” Deputy Heritage Critic Pierre Nantel (Longueuil-Pierre-Boucher) added.

“In 2011, Quebecers set the wheel of change in motion and don’t want to now go back to the old debates and the old scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the Conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families”, concluded Turmel.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Maher Arar Endorses Paul Dewar For NDP Leader

Maher Arar Endorses Paul Dewar For NDP Leader
January 25th, 2012

OTTAWA – Today, Paul Dewar received another endorsement from a prominent human rights leader in his bid for the NDP leadership.

"I fully endorse Paul to be the next leader of the New Democratic Party," said Maher Arar. "Paul's knowledge of foreign policy, his involvement in supporting human rights causes in Canada and abroad have allowed him to grasp many of the complex issues that Canada and the rest of the world are facing today. I can easily picture Paul as the next Prime Minister of Canada."

In 2002, Arar, a Canadian of Syrian origin, was deported from the US to Syria where he faced devastating torture and imprisonment. Years later, the O'Connor Commission found that Arar had been the innocent victim of flawed intelligence and government smears.

"Like many Canadians, I was shocked and deeply disturbed by the treatment of Maher Arar during those terrifying months he spent in Syria,” said Dewar. “As Prime Minister, I promise to stand up and fight for the rights of all Canadians, regardless of religion, colour of skin, or country of birth”.

Arar adds his name to an impressive list of human rights leaders backing Dewar for NDP leader. Earlier in the campaign, Dewar obtained the support of human rights lawyers Amir Attaran and Paul Champ.

He has also obtained the backing of the eight former staff from Rights and Democracy who stated: "We are impressed by Paul’s deep commitment to social justice, his drive to be fair and yet forceful, and his charismatic personality. As Quebecers, we cherish his commitment to Quebecois values of justice, rule of law, respect for human rights and diversity, and of course his deep respect for Quebec’s unique place in Canada."

Harper must treat First Nations with respect to regain trust: NDP

Harper must treat First Nations with respect to regain trust: NDP
New Democrats say any path forward must be based on a nation-to-nation relationship

OTTAWA – As First Nations leaders gather in Ottawa for meetings with the federal government, New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel urged the Prime Minister to work with First Nations, as full and equal partners moving forward.

“We all know the critical challenges facing Aboriginal communities,” said New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel. “We saw it in Attawapiskat as we see it across the country. That is why First Nations are looking to this summit to reset their relationship with the federal government.”

“The government must acknowledge that treaties form the basis of their relationship with First Nations,” Turmel said. “It is an issue of trust and respect. Only when this government realizes that it must work in a nation-to-nation relationship with Aboriginal leaders will we start seeing real progress on the critical issues. Everything else flows from that.”

New Democrats are calling on the federal government to ensure that any new legislation or measures are developed in full consultation with First Nations.

“As National Chief Atleo has stated there needs to be a new fiscal relationship, mirroring the statutory guarantees granted to non-Aboriginal governments and Canadians for education, health, social services,” said New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs critic Linda Duncan (Edmonton-Strathcona). “We will be gauging the seriousness of the Conservative government’s commitments in the upcoming budget.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jagrup Brars arrival in the DTES in Vancouver

Post navigation← Older posts My arrival in the DTES in Vancouver
Posted on January 23, 2012 by raisetherates
Today [January 17] I moved into the second phase of the Raise the Rates Welfare Challenge and will spend two weeks living in an SRO (single room occupancy) hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).

I got up early to say goodbye to my housemates in Surrey. There was no way that I would be able to carry all of my belongings to Vancouver, so I left a few items like my sleeping bag and clothes with one of my housemates.

It was below zero while I carried my life’s belongings to the sky train: food rations, bedding and some clothes. Once I reached Main Street, I was met by members of Raise the Rates and we walked to my SRO hotel on Jackson Street.

I was assured by Raise the Rates that I would not be displacing anyone. They had done a survey on the availability of SRO’s in the area and found that units in the $425 range were readily available. I was told that if I needed to rent an SRO in the $375 range (the shelter portion of welfare), I would either be out on the street, in a shelter (weather dependent) or displacing someone.

I entered the room with great curiosity. I had not seen the room before today.

The room was 11 x 11 ft. with a sink, fridge, stove and single mattress, all in obvious disrepair. I later discovered the fridge didn’t work, which was cause for great panic, as I had a few perishables and only $25 left for food for the next two weeks. Luckily, a neighbour with a working unit offered to help store my items. When I asked about the bathroom, I was told I’d share one toilet and shower with the 11 other men living on the same floor.

Later that day, I had the opportunity to meet with single mothers at a local school. They shared with me the difficult struggles and challenges they face in order to qualify for welfare. The issues they raised were very similar to the issues raised by the single mothers I had met in Surrey.

One of the mothers explained that because there are no earning exemptions for a single employable person on welfare, if a person wants to work, even part time, to try and get off of welfare, whatever amount they earn is deducted from their welfare cheque. This leaves them running around in circles with little chance of ever getting off welfare.

I was told of the skyrocketing housing costs that eat up an increasing portion of the monthly income for those with low incomes and on welfare. This is especially true if you have more than one child and need more than one room.

Another mother, who was well educated, but had been on disability welfare for the last three years, had a teenage son who was a cancer survivor with heart conditions and autism. Her son was living with his father at first and then decided he wanted to live with his mom. As a result of the move the mom started receiving child support from the father, which was clawed back according to the current welfare rules.

These are just a few of the many challenges single-parent families face while living on low incomes and on welfare.

While the DTES has become the face of poverty in B.C., there are over 500,000 people across the province living in poverty, and 120,000 of those are children, more than 11 percent of our total population.

The people who live in the DTES have their own stories to tell. I look to this experience as an opportunity to hear about the challenges and circumstances that brought them to the DTES and to life in an SRO.