Each of us can help build a sustainable future

NDP Environment critic Megan Leslie (Halifax) made the following statement on Earth Hour:

“Each of us can make simple changes to reduce our energy use and help build a sustainable future.

“Tonight New Democrats will join millions of people around the world to mark Earth Hour. In over 120 countries, 24 time zones and on six continents, people will come together as a global community to raise awareness about climate change through the individual action of turning the lights off for one hour.

“Like many Canadians, New Democrats understand that climate change threatens both our environment and our economy.

“Tom Mulcair’s NDP is the only party with a plan to protect the environment and grow the economy. We are the only party with strong, effective legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On three separate occasions we introduced The Climate Change Accountability Act, which sets out real action to reduce emissions and combat climate change.  Although it was killed by a surprise election, then by the unelected Conservative-dominated Senate, we re-introduced this legislation just last month to continue to tackle climate change.

“It’s our turn to choose the legacy we want to leave for future generations and it’s clear that Canadians are engaged. By turning out the lights and holding Earth Hour events we are choosing hope and taking action for a cleaner, greener, more sustainable energy future.”

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Conservatives and Liberals: Divided and confused – Overheard This Week

While Tom Mulcair and the NDP focus on solutions to grow the middle class and stop Stephen Harper’s war, Conservatives and Liberals were divided and confused this week. 

Stephen Harper’s attack on our rights is loosing support – even among Conservatives:

“Bill C-51 was supposed to unite conservatives in the latest round of the War on Terror™. Instead, it’s dividing them — both on and off Parliament Hill … The closer your supporters look at C-51, the less they seem to like it. If the Tories are planning on campaigning on this bill at election time, they’d better make some changes — or risk the wrath of their own people.” 

Tasha Kheiriddin, iPolitics, March 27, 2015

“I … believe we need greater oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies by a parliamentary committee of elected MPs, who are directly and democratically accountable to Canadians. That greater oversight is even more important as we give these agencies new powers to combat terrorism.” 

Conservative MP Michael Chong, iPolitics, March 27, 2015

Meanwhile, the Trudeau Liberals seem confused over their position – again.  

After the Liberals voted for Stephen Harper’s overreaching new security law, Justin Trudeau’s candidate in Davenport said: As a candidate, and future Member of Parliament, I stand against Bill C-51.”

Moments after Trudeau finished his speech in Parliament denouncing Harper’s war in Iraq and now Syria, the Liberal Defense Critic admitted they have “no plan” to pull Canadian troops out.

All this confusion led the National Post’s Kelly McParland to say:

“Justin Trudeau sticks to his firm position on both sides of the Iraq mission … It’s also clear where the Official Opposition stands: New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair accused the Prime Minister of putting the lives of Canadian troops at risk for political reasons and pledged to oppose Tuesday’s request.

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NDP standing up for the CBC

The new cuts announced at the CBC – of which half will affect rural communities – reaffirm the urgent need to cancel the Conservatives’ devastating cuts to this Crown corporation, as well as the importance of ensuring stable, long-term, predictable financing to protect the CBC.

“The CBC and Radio-Canada are at the heart of Canada’s culture and identity. We absolutely need to give our public broadcaster the means to continue its work – in both urban and rural communities across the country. That’s why the NDP has committed to cancelling the $115 million cut if it forms government, as well as providing multi-year, stable financing and an independent board of directors to run the CBC,” said NDP Heritage critic Pierre Nantel (Longueuil – Pierre-Boucher).

The new cuts, which will affect local newscasts in particular, will push the total number of layoffs for 2015 to 750 staff. This represents more than half of the cuts that the Conservatives set for this year in 2012.

“We need to provide the CBC with the means to carry out its work and pursue its digital transition. The NDP will always defend the CBC and work to ensure its survival.”

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Time to renew Canada’s commitment to eliminate child poverty

An NDP Government will eliminate the stock options tax loophole

Speaking to a packed house at the Broadbent Institute Progress Summit, Official Opposition leader Tom Mulcair announced that an NDP government will commit to reducing income inequality and will renew Canada’s commitment to eliminate child poverty.

Just over twenty-five years ago, Ed Broadbent led a motion through the House of Commons that committed Canada to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000.

“Despite Liberals and Conservatives voting for Ed’s motion – when they formed subsequent governments, they failed to take the necessary action to get the job done,” said Mulcair. “Not only was the goal not achieved, there are more children living in poverty today than in 1989.”

To support achieving these goals, an NDP government will close the tax loophole currently enjoyed by CEOs on stock options. Those funds would be re-directed to low-income families through an enhanced Working Income Tax Benefit and an enhanced National Child Benefit Supplement.

“This will be a dollar-for-dollar transfer in benefits from those who need it the least – to those who need it the most,” added NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. “Helping families out of poverty and into the middle class is good for our social fabric, as well as supporting a vibrant economy – and that’s good for Canada.”

This move will be a meaningful step towards reducing income inequality in Canada and will contribute towards getting families and children out of poverty and into the middle class.

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Decision to end home delivery of mail a sham

An analysis of Canada Post’s finances has revealed that ending the home delivery of mail was completely unnecessary.

“Canada Post has been doing profitable business; ending home delivery of mail was an ideological decision, not a financial one. Today, we received unequivocal proof, after it was revealed that they made nearly $200 million in profits this past year,” said NPD Canada Post critic, Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie).

As part of a vast overhaul of its services and organization, the Crown corporation increased the price of stamps, privatized post offices, cut back business hours and announced that it would cut 6,000 to 8,000 positions. To add to this, they ended home mail delivery for some 5 million Canadian citizens.

“With the Conservatives’ support, Canada Post management increased prices and cut services to citizens. Of course, the most vulnerable Canadians are taking the hit. The NDP is urging Stephen Harper to put away the axe and restore home delivery of mail,” added Boulerice.

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NDP amendments will kill Bill C-51’s dangerous provisions

New Democrats have introduced amendments that delete C-51 clauses which undermine Canadians’ rights and freedoms, and add critical oversight.

“Testimony that we’ve heard has confirmed what we’ve said since the start – this is a dangerous, ineffective bill that should not be adopted” said NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca). “The NDP plan will protect both our rights and our safety.”

NDP’s amendment strategy has three objectives:

1, Delete provisions that undermine Canadians’ rights and freedoms including:

// vague new offence which lumps dissent with violent extremism

// lower threshold for preventative detention, and

// CSIS power of disruption

2, Add effective provisions missing from C-51 by:

// strengthening existing oversight of security and intelligence agencies

// ensuring Canada adopts a system of parliamentary oversight that will work

// creating a community outreach and de-radicalization coordinator

// mandating a 3-year review of the legislation with a sunset clause

3, Limit the scope of the bill by:

// protecting privacy rights and narrowing the information sharing provision to cover only terrorism

// narrowing the grounds for listing individuals on no-fly lists and providing a better appeal process

“Witnesses from across the political spectrum told us this bill has serious, fundamental flaws”, said NDP Public Safety deputy critic Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred—Pellan). “It’s not a matter of adding oversight and making a couple of tweaks – C-51  simply shouldn’t go forward”

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The NDP will restore the retirement age to 65

New Democrat critic for Pensions John Rafferty (Thunder Bay – Rainy River) tabled a motion in Parliament calling on the Conservatives to restore Canada’s age of retirement to 65.

“Young people and parents concerned about their children’s future are worried public pensions just won’t be there for them. Instead of making retirement more secure, the Harper Conservatives’ increased the age of eligibility for the Old Age Security Pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement from 65 to 67. We know OAS is sustainable. The Conservative move was unnecessary and unfair,” Rafferty said.

The text of Rafferty’s motion (M-586) is as follows:

“That, in the opinion of the House, that the age of eligibility for the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement should be restored to 65 years of age from 67 years of age.”

Rafferty said this motion is the first of several to come this spring that will outline his party’s strategy for dealing with Canada’s pension and retirement saving crisis. 

“Conservatives keep telling Canadians that they need to work more, and longer, for less. Tom Mulcair and the NDP believe Canadians are entitled to a secure and dignified retirement, but that this is simply not the case for many today. Raising the age of retirement will only push more seniors into poverty. Canadians deserve better.”

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Ashton demands truthful information on missing and murdered Indigenous women

It was revealed today that the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs claims to have unreleased data from the RCMP stating that Indigenous men are mostly responsible for the murders of Indigenous women. The information shared by the Conservative Minister is not backed up in any report by the RCMP.

Today in the House of Commons, official critic for Aboriginal Affairs, Niki Ashton (Churchill), demanded that the information be shared, if in fact truthful.

Niki Ashton:

“Mr. Speaker, it was revealed today that during a meeting with chiefs last week in Calgary, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs said that Indigenous men are responsible for 70% of the murders of Indigenous women. He told them that this was unreleased RCMP data, but we all know that the number quoted is not backed up by any of the RCMP reports.

Will the minister stand in the House and release the data on which he based his claim, or will he get up and tell us that he made this number up to suit the Conservatives’ discriminatory agenda?

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NDP REALITY CHECK: Conservatives spending ten times more on war than aid?

As the Canadian Press reports today, the Conservatives have spent $100 million on aid to the people of Iraq since last year.

But in six months alone, the government itself has estimated that it spent $122 million on the military mission, bombing runs by CF-18s and special operations in Iraq.

How high could that go? Let’s have a look at a recent report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer on the cost of missions in Iraq:

If the mission were lengthened for another six months, extending the analysis forward would result in an estimated incremental cost of Operation IMPACT for the 12 months of between a high of $351.27 million and a low of $242.71 million… It is worth noting that the full costs for Canada’s most recent overseas mission in Libya (i.e. Operation Mobile) were almost six times the reported incremental costs for the mission.

Could we end up with a billion dollar mission with only 1/10th as much spent on assistance? The Conservatives need to tell Canadians.

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NDP REALITY CHECK: What IS the legal rationale for bombing in Syria?

Yesterday, when Tom Mulcair asked Stephen Harper to provide the legal basis for bombing in Syria, the Prime Minister got up and read from a piece of paper where he said the following:

“As our allies have indicated, they are taking necessary and proportionate military action in Syria on the basis that the government of Syria is unwilling or unable to prevent ISIL from staging operations and conducting attacks there, including ultimately attacks that include this country as a target.”

The key part, “unwilling or unable”, was repeated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs this morning at a press conference.

The US Ambassador Samantha Power wrote a letter to the head of the UN giving the legal rationale for their bombing in Syria. She makes a few points:

  • The legal justification is that the US is helping to defend Iraq;
  • Because the Syrian government is unwilling or unable to protect against attacks against Iraq, the US is responding as an ally to the government in Baghdad; and
  • They believe that this involves invoking article 51 of the UN charter (self-defence).

This is the same legal justification that Australia, France and the Netherlands have expressed concerns about.

Some questions for the government:

  • Is Stephen Harper’s actual legal basis for bombing in Syria the defence of Iraq rather than Canada?
  • Did Canada receive a formal request for military assistance in Syria from the government of Iraq?
  • Has the Canadian government informed the United Nations of the legal basis for “self-defence,” as required by article 51 of the UN charter?

Can the government release its legal justification, the same way the Obama administration did?

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