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Sunday, June 23, 2013

NDP Sports Critic Matthew Dubé’s statement on lifting the quebec soccer federation's ban

NDP Sports Critic Matthew Dubé’s statement on lifting the quebec soccer federation's ban
On behalf of all New Democrats, I welcome the Quebec Soccer Federation’s decision to repeal its ban on Sikh religious headgear.

On April 25 2013, members of the New Democratic caucus wrote to FIFA urging a clarification, so that children could return to the soccer fields. Today, that clarification was provided.
 Leader of the Official Opposition Tom Mulcair was the only leader to reach out directly to both the Quebec federation and its Canadian counterpart, in order to facilitate a resolution. As he stated, sports should be about including people from all different walks of life, not excluding them.
 As adults, it falls upon us to find a peaceful solution, otherwise it’s the kids who pay the price. And perhaps we can learn a thing or two from them. After all, it was under-14 FC Brossard players who, in solidarity, sported turbans on the field last weekend.
 To be sure, the safety of our children is paramount. But when, as we have stated all along, no such safety issue exists – as was the case here – we as adults need to do the right thing and just let our kids play.
 As summer is underway and new friendships and bonds are built, I look forward to seeing Sikh children return to the soccer fields to play the beautiful game with their peers.

NDP calls for study on impacts of EI overhaul

NDP calls for study on impacts of EI overhaul
OTTAWA – With support from more than a hundred municipalities, associations and organizations, New Democrats have tabled a motion at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) to study the impacts of the Conservatives’ radical changes to Employment Insurance.
“We are urging the committee to launch this study as soon as possible. Workers from across Canada have been contacting us to share their concerns, and we expect this to continue as long as the Conservatives press forward with these punitive and unjust EI reforms,” said François Lapointe (Montmagny–L’Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup), HUMA committee member and NDP critic for Small Business and Tourism.

Groups supporting the New Democrat motion include numerous municipalities in Conservative ridings, the Canadian Freelance Union, the Quebec Employers Council, the Quebec Forestry Producers Federation, the Quebec Tourism Industry Association and the Union des producteurs agricoles. 
“This is the third time we’ve called for this type of study. This time we hope the Conservative committee members will finally support our motion. We won’t give up until a formal study is undertaken. Because these reforms will have disproportional effects on seasonal workers and industries, it is imperative that we examine them more closely,” added Human Resources and Skills Development critic Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain).
“Within the context of the committee, we can hear from witnesses who support the Conservatives’ EI reforms as well as witnesses who are opposed, in order to explore the actual effects on workers and communities. Why is it so difficult to do this simple thing? What are the Conservatives afraid of?” said Lapointe.

Conservatives must not undermine international efforts to combat violence against women

Conservatives must not undermine international efforts to combat violence against women
OTTAWA - In a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Opposition Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) and Status of Women critic Niki Ashton (Churchill) cautioned the Conservatives against playing a spoiler role on this important issue at the 23rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
A recent media release from Action Canada on Population and Development stated that at the UN meetings in Geneva, Conservatives have been seeking to renege on previously-agreed upon policy measures to take action on violence against women.
"We would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of a comprehensive package of services that should be available to survivors of sexual violence," wrote the Opposition critics. "Blocking recommendations such as access to sexual and reproductive health services, access to emergency contraception, access to safe abortion, access to post-exposure medicine for HIV infection, and diagnosis and treatment for STIs would be a grave mistake."
The full text of the letter is attached.

Finance minister must honour commitment to improve retirement security: NDP

Finance minister must honour commitment to improve retirement security: NDP
OTTAWA – NDP Pension Critic Irene Mathyssen (London – Fanshawe) called on the finance minister to honour his commitment to work with the provinces to increase retirement security for Canadians. The finance minister has yet to honour his six-month-old promise to work with the provinces to increase the Canada Pension Plan / Quebec Pension Plan.
“In December the finance minister promised Canadians that he would meet with his provincial counterparts by June 2013,” said Mathyssen. “June is almost over and there’s no sign of a provincial finance ministers meeting anytime soon. I have asked the minister in the House several times when the meeting will be scheduled and he has refused to answer.”
More and more Canadians are heading into retirement without enough savings. There is a growing consensus that a phased increased in the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) is the most practical and effective way to boost the retirement security of Canadians. As even the government’s own data shows, a modest increase in CPP premiums could finance a substantial increase in benefits.
“Canadians depend on the CPP/QPP for retirement security,” said Mathyssen. “The government’s failure to show leadership on this extremely important issue shows the Conservatives don’t take the retirement security of Canadians seriously.”

Baird must press Russia to reject homophobic law

Baird must press Russia to reject homophobic law
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) and LGBT Critic Randall Garrison (Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca) are calling on the minister of foreign affairs to urge Russian leaders to prevent passage of a law establishing criminal penalties for both Russians and foreign visitors engaging in so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’.
 “Passage of this law would be a clear violation of Russia's international obligations to protect freedom of speech and association for all Russians as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to protect minorities as a member of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe,” Dewar said. “Adopting this law is likely to promote increased discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Russians.”
 “Creating criminal penalties including heavy fines and possible imprisonment for the vague offense of promoting non-traditional sexual practices through the media or in public violates international human rights norms,” Garrison said. “It will also endanger Russia's tourism industry and Russia's ability to host international events, including the upcoming Olympics.”
 Dewar and Garrison call on Minister Baird to urge Russia's upper house to defeat the proposed ‘homosexual propaganda’ law, and urge President Putin to refuse to sign the law.

Conservatives fail to act on First Nations child poverty

Conservatives fail to act on First Nations child poverty
OTTAWA – New Democrats are condemning the Conservative failure to reduce poverty rates among First Nations children in the wake of a newly released report showing that half of status First Nations children in Canada live in poverty.
“Today’s report highlights the Conservatives’ utter failure to act,” said New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs Critic Jean Crowder (Nanaimo--Cowichan). “Every child deserves an equal chance – but under this government, First Nation kids are left behind.”
According to the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada ranks 25th among the 30 OECD countries in child poverty. Despite persistent calls from the NDP, the Conservative government has yet to remove the 2% funding cap on essential social services.
“We just marked the fifth anniversary of the official apology for residential schools—in which the government acknowledged the harm done to children and their families,” said NDP deputy critic for Aboriginal Affairs, Jonathan Genest-Jourdain (Manicouagan). “It is distressing to see that aboriginal youth are still not a priority for the Conservatives.”

New Democrats slam wrong-headed cuts to Veterans Affairs

New Democrats slam wrong-headed cuts to Veterans Affairs
OTTAWA – NDP Veterans Affairs critic Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore) slammed the Conservatives’ reckless decision to eliminate over 800 jobs over the next three years at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“It is disingenuous and irresponsible for the Conservatives to cut that many jobs then pretend that it won’t have a negative impact on the very people this department is meant to help,” said Stoffer. “You simply cannot maintain the same standard of care, or programs and services, with fewer staff.”
Stoffer warned last year that Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) will see a 45 percent staff reduction with these cuts, which will directly compromise their capacity to meet veterans’ needs. Further, an additional 1,295 VAC employees will soon be notified that they are no longer federal employees as the last remaining federally run veterans’ hospital (Saint-Anne-de Bellevue Hospital) is about to be transferred to the province of Quebec. 
“Canada’s veterans dedicated their lives to serving this country and the least we can do is support them when they return home,” said deputy Veterans Affairs critic Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay–Saint-Constant). “Cutting services to these men and women when they need it most is just wrong.”