New Democrats pleased with government support of our Opposition Day motion for Thalidomide victims

The NDP welcomes the confirmation that the Conservative government intends to support our Opposition Day motion to compensate Canadian Thalidomide survivors, who have been fighting to get the care they need for more than five decades.

“Thalidomide is one of the worst drug scandals in the history of Canadian health care. It’s time the survivors of this tragedy get the compensation they deserve, so they can afford the long-term care they require to live with dignity,” said NDP Health Critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East).

MPs will be debating the motion today, and a vote is set to take place next week. The NDP anticipates all-party support for the motion, bringing Parliamentarians from all sides together on this important issue.

Thalidomide was a drug prescribed to pregnant women in the 1960s, resulting in severe birth defects and a lifetime of challenges many of us can hardly imagine. The Canadian government delayed recalling the drug, which remained on the market more than three months after being banned in the UK. An apology was never issued for the harm it caused the many victims, and sufficient compensation was never granted. This motion seeks to right the wrong that was done.

“Now in their 50s, it isn’t too late to offer compensation to the Thalidomide survivors, whose needs continue to grow as they age. It’s time we right the wrong, and provide much-needed support to survivors for the care they need,” added NDP MP Djaouida Sellah (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert).

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Congratulations to Senator Pierre Claude Nolin

Yesterday Stephen Harper named Senator Pierre Claude Nolin the new Speaker of the unelected and unaccountable upper chamber.

And maybe the last Speaker of the Senate?

Senator Nolin is progressive on many issues, including drug policy and crime. It’s undoubtedly true that Harper wanted him out of Caucus meetings, where he may have been asking pointed questions about the constitutionality of government legislation or whether it’s effective.

We think a Speaker such as Nolin would be the ideal person to serve as the last Speaker of the Senate. More Canadians, and provincial governments, are coming to believe that it’s time to roll up the red carpet.

Canadians deserve better.

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Statement from the NDP following the release of Canada Post’s financial results

Following the release of Canada Post’s financial results for the third semester, Official Opposition Canada Post critic Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie) made the following statement:

“Canada Post’s positive returns have once again disproved the fear mongering and catastrophic picture being painted by the Conservatives and Canada Post management. The Crown Corporation registered profits of $13 million in the third quarter of this year – a stark contrast to the $129 million lost during the same period last year. It’s also the third consecutive quarter that Canada Post has run a profit in 2014. Of course the last quarter is always the most profitable due to the holiday season, so Canada Post is poised to run a very profitable year in 2014. We would also like to point out that according to the Conference Board study, so often cited to justify the cuts to services, Canada Post was slated to lose $274 million in 2014. It’s important to note that these positive results have absolutely nothing to do with converting community postal boxes in many areas around the country: the 3rd quarter ended on September 27, while the boxes started going up on October 20. The NDP will therefore be even more adamant in calling for a moratorium on imposing postal boxes, for the simple reason that it presents no financial advantage that can justify the loss of home delivery services for our citizens.”

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NDP salutes the Quebec National Assembly’s CBC motion

The Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion today urging the federal government to restore funding to the CBC, a move which the NDP is applauding. The Official Opposition will table a similar motion in the House of Commons. 

“Quebec has unanimously asked the government to stop dismantling our public broadcaster, reiterating the importance of Radio-Canada’s French language broadcasts and regional presence,” said Official Opposition Heritage critic, Pierre Nantel (Longueuil-Pierre-Boucher). “The Conservative government can’t go on ignoring these requests while Canadians mobilize against their partisan cuts, both on the ground and in Quebec’s National Assembly.”

Nantel tabled a motion in the Heritage Committee yesterday, demanding a comprehensive inquiry into the liquidation of CBC assets, such as the costume warehouse closure and the sale of Montreal’s Maison de Radio-Canada. For several months now, the NDP has been defending the CBC via its campaign and national petition in support of the public broadcaster.

“The CBC is at the heart of our culture in Quebec and the rest of Canada. At a time when the CBC, like many media outlets, is facing big changes in the industry, it will now also need to remain strong and defend its future – which will obviously require stable, long-term financing,” added the Longueuil- Pierre-Boucher MP.

The online petition is available at:

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Mulcair proposes new measure to ban food advertising directed toward children

To tackle growing child obesity rates, an NDP government will ban food advertising directed towards children across Canada.

“Parents have enough on the go without having to worry that their kids are being bombarded by advertisements for junk food. I don’t want that for my grandkids and I know we can do better,” said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

Mulcair made the announcement at the Championing Public Health Nutrition Conference. A third of Canadian children are overweight or obese, and 70 per cent of children between the ages of four and eight do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Food advertising targeting children has been banned for over 30 years in Quebec, and that province has one of the lowest child obesity levels in Canada. The ban in Quebec was found to effectively reduce unhealthy food consumption by as much as 13 per cent each week.

“Good nutrition is smart public policy, and we know that eating more nutritious food means that Canadians live longer, better lives. We’ll put the power to make healthy food choices back in the hands of parents,” said Mulcair.

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Scientific community rallies behind NDP proposal for science

Important members of the scientific community are endorsing the NDP’s proposal to create an independent science watchdog with responsibility to curb the muzzling of public scientists and provide Parliament with sound information and expert advice on scientific issues.

NDP Science & Technology Critic Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby-Douglas) made the announcement while speaking at the 4th biennial Championing Public Health Nutrition Conference held by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest.

“Science in Canada is at a crossroads. After years of government scientists being muzzled by the Conservatives, this new office will promote real transparency and ensure decisions made in Ottawa are based on the best available scientific evidence,” said Mr. Stewart.

The Parliamentary Science Officer Act, Bill C-558, introduced by Mr. Stewart will be a first practical step to mend the relationship between scientists and politicians, and will give public science a more robust voice in the federal government.

“For too long we have heard that scientific evidence is ignored by policy-makers and that federal scientists are being unduly prevented from sharing their research with Canadians. I’m proud that the scientific community is rallying behind the NDP’s proposal for a Parliamentary Science Officer,” said Mr. Stewart.

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Julian Fantino – on the run

There’s a saying in the Canadian Forces: “When the Generals don’t know what to do, they do what they know”

For Julian Fantino, that means travelling to a foreign country when an Auditor General’s report is released.

That doesn’t stop him from sending out disingenuous tweets like these that are immediately contradicted by reporters: 

The Minister is playing Where’s Waldo and trying to evade accountability for the Conservatives’ record of failing injured soldiers just when they need help the most.

Canadians deserve better.

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More resounding failures from the Conservatives

Today’s Auditor General’s report again illustrates the Conservative government’s inadequate management of public finances and services that Canadians rely on.  

Year after year, the AG has exposed the Conservatives’ poor management of public finances and pointed out serious problems. Veterans have been denied the mental health care services they need to lead a normal life. And for the auto bailout there’s no transparency. The report showed that one quarter of the $4 billion in contributions for GM Canada employees’ retirement fund was actually disbursed to GM’s US operations.

“One quarter of the automotive-sector assistance went to the Americans. How exactly did that help Canadian workers?” questioned NDP MP Malcolm Allen (Welland). “Add to that the $1.1 billion withheld from veterans’ spending, and you realize that the Conservatives aren’t going to fix anything with their infamous last-minute announcements. They need to stop trying to salvage their misconstrued plan and offer veterans the help they need.”

In addition, the report pointed out more cases of Conservative mismanagement, including their response to humanitarian crises, the classification of heritage documents at Library and Archives Canada, and deficiencies and failures associated with the Nutrition North program.  

“The report showed that the Nutrition North program is simply not working—where is the money going? Obviously people in northern regions aren’t reaping the benefits and there is a serious lack of transparency,” said NDP MP Roméo Saganash (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou).

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Parliament will debate compensation for thalidomide survivors

Parliament will debate an NDP Opposition Day motion this Thursday calling for compensation for thalidomide survivors.

“Victims of thalidomide have waited for over fifty years to get the support they deserve,” said NDP health critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “I hope we can count on the support of all parties as parliament debates NDP’s motion in support of thalidomide survivors.”

In 1961, the Government of Canada approved the sale of thalidomide as a safe drug to treat nausea for pregnant women. The drug had tragic consequences for many families. The government has never apologized for the devastation it caused. After decades of discussing compensation, it provided an inadequate one-time payment to survivors.

“Canada’s thalidomide survivors are considerably worse off than their peers in other countries,” said NDP MP Djaouida Sellah (Saint-Bruno–Saint-Hubert). “Parliament now has a real chance to do the right thing and support the victims.”

Full text of NDP Opposition Day motion follows:

That, in the opinion of the House: (a) full support should be offered to survivors of thalidomide‎; (b) the urgent need to defend the rights and dignity of those affected by thalidomide should be recognized; and (c) the government should ‎provide support to survivors, as requested by the Thalidomide Survivors Taskforce.

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Official Opposition statement on International Day to End Violence Against Women

Official Opposition for the Status of Women critic Niki Ashton (Churchill) made the following statement on International Day to End Violence Against Women :

“On the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women we recommit to ending the violence that so many women in Canada and around the world face. 

Since 1981 the international community has marked November 25th as a day against violence against women, after the 1960 assassination of three political activists, the Mirabal sisters, on the orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo. Unfortunately, today women and girls across the world still face violence simply because they are women.

In Canada, violence against women remains a barrier to women’s equality. Even though violent crime has decreased, sexual violence directed at women and girls remains stagnant.  Young women face the highest levels of sexual violence. Indigenous women and girls are seven times more likely to be killed than non-Indigenous women.

Despite these facts, the Conservatives continue to obstruct efforts to change the reality that women face, nationally and internationally. Deep cuts to women’s organizations have made it increasingly difficult for critical work to take place.  Clear directives prohibit organizations from engaging in advocacy calling for systemic change. A failure to call for a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women means we still don’t have the answers needed to take action. 

We need a National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women. From coast to coast to coast, agencies, organizations, activists and survivors are calling for a coordinated, funded approach to deal with violence against women. It is time the federal government listen to women and take action, through a National Action Plan.

The International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women is marked to acknowledge that violence against women and girls is present in the everyday. Through meaningful, coordinated action driven by women that is supported at the federal level, we can aim to end the violence that women face.”

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