POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #5: Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and the Unfair Elections Act

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandals, out of touch with challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #5: Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and the Unfair Elections Act

Canadians deserve a fair electoral system.  In the entire history of our country, no government had ever used its majority to adopt a bill to give its party an advantage in the next election cycle. But that’s exactly what the Conservatives did last May, when they adopted their highly controversial “Unfair” Elections Act. 

Of course, the Conservatives rejected the NDP’s proposals to offer investigators the tools they need to fight electoral fraud, maintain the autonomy of Elections Canada vis-à-vis the government and to give the Chief Electoral Officer the ability to encourage Canadians to vote. The Conservatives weakened our democracy on the backs of Canadians, just like they did during last election’s robocall scandal, which interfered with some citizen’s right to vote.

The truth is that the Conservatives have no interest in strengthening the Elections Act.

Although Conservatives have been convicted for electoral fraud over the last several months (Dean Del Mastro, Michael Sona), the robocall trials underlined the fact that the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Elections Canada need more power to get to the bottom of cases of electoral fraud. Although judges Gary Hearn and Richard Mosley found that the Conservative databases were used for criminal purposes and that several people were involved in the scheme, only Michael Sona was convicted.

Without the power to compel individuals to testify, it’s difficult for investigators to shed light on these types of offences.  And the Conservatives certainly aren’t going to complain….

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #6: Job Tax Credits – not working for the Liberals or Conservatives

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandals, out of touch with challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #6: Job Tax Credits – not working for the Liberals or Conservatives

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced a tax credit for small businesses that was designed, in theory, to create 25,000 employment years for a $500 million dollar price tag. However, the Parliamentary Budget Officer calculated in September that the credit would create only 800 jobs, and this on top of the Conservatives’ employment insurance strategy that will lead to the loss of 9,000 jobs over the next two years.

The Liberals somehow found themselves in a similar situation. Last September, Justin Trudeau unveiled a plan to create 176,000 jobs by giving businesses a break on employment insurance premiums for new hires. How much did he plan to spend on this initiative? Well, $225 million, according to the Liberals. But then Statistics Canada put the price tag at well over $1 billion, and in the words of economist Stephen Gordon, the Liberals EI strategy was revealed as nothing but a “gimmick”.

Any way you look at it, the so-called Conservative and Liberal job creation plans were a fiasco. 

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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Statement by the Leader of the Official Opposition on Christmas

The leader of the Official Opposition Tom Mulcair made the following statement on the Christmas holidays:

“On behalf of the entire NDP team, I would like to offer my best wishes for Christmas.  

“Christians around the world are joining together today to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, along with his message of unity and solidarity – a universal message that crosses borders and faiths.

“This Christmas, let’s remember all that our families, friends and communities have done for us, as well as the importance of taking care of one another. 

“During this time of celebration, let’s also renew our to work together for peace, justice and to build a world free of oppression. 

“Once again, I wish you all a very merry Christmas.”

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POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #7: Lumps of coal for Conservative ministers

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandals, out of touch with challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #7: Lumps of coal for Conservative ministers

Three Conservative ministers stood out this year as being especially deserving of a spot on Santa’s naughty list:

Julian Fantino:

  • Announced $200 million in mental health funding for veterans over six years, only to later clarify that it was over 50 years.
  • When asked about the Auditor General’s report on his failure to provide mental health services for veterans, responded “I attended a very moving commemoration in Italy”.
  • The calls for his resignation have grown so loud that the PMO has now deployed a senior staff member to help Mr. Fantino, essentially placing the Minister’s office under third party management.

Leona Aglukkaq:

  • Reportedly demanded an apology and threatened legal action against the Deputy Mayor of Rankin Inlet after the mayor spoke out about a report on APTN showing people eating out of a dump.
  • Shouted “that’s not true” in the House of Commons when the NDP asked about the Auditor General’s negative report on the Nutrition North program and reports of people looking for food in the town dump.
  • When asked what she would do to help people in Rankin Inlet who are desperate for access to healthy food, she refused to answer and sat in her seat reading the newspaper.

Gerry Ritz:

  • Reportedly planning on selling off the Canadian Wheat Board for the low, low price of $0, blocking farmers from making a bid.
  • Decided to keep secret all financial information about the Wheat Board.
  • Has repeatedly failed to get Western grain moving or hold rail companies to account, and then added insult to injury by reducing the amount of wheat rail companies are required to transport.

And a dishonourable mention must go to Chris Alexander for his callous response to questions about breaking his promise to accept more Syrian refugees, and then lying about it afterwards. This was on top of his attacks on those fighting heartless cuts to health care for refugee claimants who do make it to Canada.

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #8: Trudeau’s Adventures in Flip-Flop Land

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandals, out of touch with challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… POLITICAL LOWLIGHT #8: Trudeau’s Adventures in Flip-Flop Land

2014 was not an easy year for Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Despite having ample opportunities to establish clear positions on a long list of issues, he instead spent time looking notably aimless. 

On September 11, Trudeau said that it would be a mistake to for Canada to further its involvement in Iraq. Several hours later, he changed course and told the Globe and Mail that sending combat aircraft was still a possibility (throwing in a tasteless phallic joke for good measure).

Of course, some have taken notice of his wavering:

“Trudeau himself seemed determined to play second string, first by delegating the lead Liberal role in the House of Commons debate to foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau and then by dispensing with the presentation of an alternative of his own to the government’s plan.”
Chantal Hébert, Toronto Star, 2014/10/08

Trudeau also seems reluctant to take action in the interest of Canadians. He voted against the NDP’s proposal to adopt proportional representation and a fairer elections process. However, 16 Liberal MPs decided to ignore their leader and vote in favour of the motion. 

Maybe next year he’ll know where he stands.

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold the Conservatives to account and to fight for families and propose common sense solutions to the issues they face every day.

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POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #9: Conservatives refuse to call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandals, out of touch with challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #9: Conservatives refuse to call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women

In December, Rinelle Harper, the sixteen-year-old victim of a vicious attack, joined the growing chorus of voices calling for a national inquiry into the cases of over 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women. But her plea, like so many before her, has fallen on deaf ears.

In fact, in his year-end interviews, Stephen Harper admitted that an inquiry “isn’t really high on our radar.”  Despite the fact that Indigenous women and girls are seven times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be murdered, the Prime Minister does not think anyone should view this as a “sociological phenomenon.”  

To be clear: in the past 30 years, 1,200 Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or have disappeared in Canada, yet the Prime Minister refuses to acknowledge that there might be a systemic problem.

The Conservatives stand alone in their belief that an inquiry would accomplish nothing.  Provincial and territorial governments, as well as municipal leaders have called for an inquiry, along with Indigenous organizations like the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #10: Conservatives attack charities, let tax cheats off the hook

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandals, out of touch with challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #10:  Conservatives attack charities, let tax cheats off the hook

Instead of going after tax havens and tax cheats, the Conservatives have decided that a better priority for the Canada Revenue Agency is to attack environmental and civil society groups.

They even set up a $13.4 million “special fund” just to audit charities’ political activities – and they’ve been busy: even a small group of birdwatchers in Kitchener-Waterloo couldn’t escape their scrutiny when they got a letter warning about “political material” related to bee colony collapse on their website.

Meanwhile, years of massive budget cuts in every other part of the CRA have come home to roost. From corruption charges, to tax havens, privacy breaches and uncollected tax debt, under the Conservatives, the CRA just can’t keep up:

  • Uncollected tax debt has risen by approximately 60% since the Conservatives took power in 2006, it is now estimated to be a whopping $32 billion;
  • Assistance for taxpayers and businesses was cut by over $100 million in one year alone;
  • Senior auditors have been axed, departments gutted and the reporting compliance division is short-staffed by 599 positions;
  • Of the cases that the CRA actually manages to put together against tax cheats, only 56% actually get a full-scale investigation.

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #11: The Conservatives Hide from Accountability in Question Period

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandal, out of touch with the challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #11: The Conservatives Hide from Accountability in Question Period

Canadians have been highly critical of the government’s daily spectacle during Question Period.

The Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary, Paul Calandra, for example, has become notorious for his empty, off-topic responses to legitimate questions. For example, for weeks Calandra evaded relevant questions from the Opposition, choosing instead to discuss his family pizzeria and his love for ice-cold lemonade! 

In order to promote transparency and accountability, the NDP proposed to modify the Standing Orders of the House Commons so that ministers are actually required to give relevant answers to questions, and to force the government to come clean to Canadians. 

One of the true low points for the Conservatives this year was their decision to reject this reasonable proposal, and openly express their view that Canadians don’t deserve clear answers to legitimate questions on crucial issues, such as our military mission in Iraq. 

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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Statement by the Official Opposition on Stephen Harper’s refusal to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women

Official Opposition Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder (Nanaimo – Cowichan) and Status of Women critic Niki Ashton (Churchill) made the following statement on Stephen Harper’s stubborn refusal to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women:

“In a recent year-end interview, the Prime Minister once again closed the door on an inquiry into the 1,200 Indigenous women that have gone missing or been murdered over the last 30 years. In doing so, he also sent a clear message to Aboriginal people that their concerns are not a priority for this government. 

“The Prime Minister’s comment, that an inquiry “isn’t high on our radar to be honest”, was callous. What will it take to convince this government that something must be done? What is their reason for ignoring the voices of thousands, including Rinelle Harper, the young victim of a brutal attack this fall?” 

“In Canada, Aboriginal women are seven times more likely to be murdered than non-Aboriginal women. This is unacceptable, and the Prime Minister needs to accept that this violence is systemic and we need to deal with the root causes.

“I would ask that the Prime Minister to listen to the families of the Missing and Murdered, to First Nations and Aboriginal leaders, to provincial and municipal governments and do right by announcing an Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

 “Too many lives have already been lost, and too many continue to be at stake. It’s time for action and that includes an Inquiry.”

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The big blue propaganda machine

The NDP is denouncing the Conservatives for their use of tax payer money to finance a propaganda machine and mislead Canadians.

“This big blue propaganda machine is scandalous,” said NDP Ethics critic Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay). “This government has no problem misleading Canadians by publishing content that looks like news, but cutting access to information for journalists in Canada,”

According to media reports, the Conservatives will spend $1.25 million to publish pre-packaged newspaper stories. The so-called News Canada agency even offers journalists with chances to win $500 Via Rail Vouchers if their media outlet used Conservative-approved articles.

“More than ever, we need transparent and independent oversight of government advertising,” said Angus. “Let’s not forget that over the past five years, they already spent half a billion dollars of our money in ads.”

 

http://www.newscanada.com/contest

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