NDP calling on government to create a National Seniors Strategy

Today, the NDP Seniors Critic Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) introduced a motion calling on the government to develop a National Seniors Strategy.

“The number of seniors in Canada is set to double by 2036,” said Mathyssen.  “We need to put plans in place now to ensure that we are ready for this dramatic increase.  No one should have to grow old in poverty, insecurity and isolation.”

The NDP is the only party with a National Seniors Strategy.  To support this much needed strategy, Mathyssen also introduced a motion calling for a Seniors Advocate that will oversee and report on government policies related to seniors.

The NDP Employment and Social Development critic Jinny Sims (Newton-North Delta) also introduced a motion requiring government programs to be accessible to marginalized and ethno-cultural groups.

“It is so important that people can access the support programs in place” said Sims. “We need to make sure that a person can access information and programs in a language they understand.”

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Champlain Bridge toll would cause traffic chaos

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has confirmed the Champlain Bridge toll would cause traffic trouble in the region. Meanwhile, the NDP continues to urge the Conservatives to find a better solution.

“The last thing the greater Montreal area needs is more traffic congestion. Instead of working with the province and municipalities to find a practical solution, the Conservatives continue to ignore Quebecers’ concerns,” said NDP Transport critic Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie).

The PBO study also revealed that a toll on the Champlain Bridge would primarily affect lower-income families and workers, who would be forced to use other roads and bridges.

“The Conservatives’ so-called solution is a new kind of tax. Montrealers and South-Shore residents deserve better,” added Mai.

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What’s up with Justin Trudeau and Iraq?

Justin Trudeau has sent some contradictory messages on Canada’s role in Iraq:

“Ten years ago, Mr. Harper was eager to send us into a combat role in Iraq, and we managed to avoid that. I think it would be a mistake to escalate our support.”
Justin Trudeau, September 11, 2014

But as the Globe and Mail also noted:

“Mr. Trudeau, however, did not completely rule out sending jet fighters in the future”
September 11, 2014

Last night, the House of Commons debated Canada’s deployment of soldiers to Iraq. Neither Stephen Harper or Justin Trudeau showed up, but Tom Mulcair did.

Earlier today when asked by a journalist about Tom Mulcair and the NDP’s position on the Iraq deployment, he replied:

“I think Mr. Mulcair is, you know — from what I hear, has a lot more questions about Canada’s involvement”
Justin Trudeau, September 17, 2014

There you have it. When it comes to finding out what Canada is doing in Iraq, Justin Trudeau defers to the NDP.

That’s on his record.

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Conservatives fail Canadian steel workers, retirees

The NDP blasted the federal Conservatives today for leaving former Stelco workers and retirees – as well as their families and communities – unprotected in the wake of US Steel Canada filing for bankruptcy protection.

“The Conservatives have failed to stand up for workers and communities in the wake of the foreign takeover of Stelco,” said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. “The Conservatives haven’t held the company to account to maintain employment. And now, over 2200 more jobs are in jeopardy.”

New Democrats have long called for changes to the Investment Canada Act to ensure promises made by foreign buyers are made public and are strictly enforced. US Steel Canada has repeatedly locked out workers and cut jobs since the 2007 takeover of Stelco.

“Our hearts go out to the thousands of families in Hamilton and Nanticoke impacted by this bankruptcy,” said Mulcair. “For years the NDP has been calling for bankruptcy protection for workers’ pensions. But the Conservatives, like the Liberals before them, have refused to listen. Now 9,000 retirees are facing potentially devastating financial situations.”

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Liberals give up on first economic proposal of the new session – and it’s only Wednesday

On Monday, Justin Trudeau botched his first ever economic policy announcement–an ill-thought-out response to Stephen Harper on Employment Insurance.

Liberals responded, as they often do, by attacking the New Democrats for pointing out their mistakes, but even while doing so, they were simultaneously backing off their original, error-ridden claims.

The Liberals abandoned the promise that their plan “could produce over 176,000 ‎new jobs”, instead saying it would “help” contribute to overall job growth–effectively admitting that they confused total net job growth with jobs created by this specific program.

That leaves the matter of the Liberals’ costing for their proposal, which still vastly understates the price tag for the type of EI premium exemption Mr. Trudeau has described, as we noted here.

Having been caught vastly overestimating their job creation numbers, and vastly underestimating the cost of their plan, Justin Trudeau has chosen to double-down – a mistake of Hudakian proportions.

The fact is, Justin Trudeau’s first economic policy announcement has already shown he and his brain trust just aren’t ready.

That’s on his record.

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Conservatives must support Ukraine with more than rhetoric

With the Ukrainian President visiting Canada, the NDP is urging the Conservatives to put rhetoric aside and make concrete commitments to assist Ukrainians with the ongoing crisis in their country.

“Ukraine has been anxious to receive $200 million in desperately needed financial aid that the Conservatives promised over six months ago,” said NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre). “This financial package is key to restoring economic and political stability to Ukraine. The United States and the European Union have already delivered, why are the Conservatives dragging their feet?”

New Democrats also continue to call on the Conservatives to ensure that Russian business leaders with close ties to President Vladimir Putin do not escape sanctions. At least two businessmen with significant investments in Canada, blacklisted by the US and other allies, have not faced any Canadian restrictions.

“The Prime Minister promised not to let business interests affect Canadian foreign policy,” said Dewar. “If he’s serious about taking on the Russians, it’s time for him to close the loopholes in Canadian sanctions. Ukrainians deserve nothing less.”

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Math is hard if you’re Justin Trudeau

Yesterday Justin Trudeau announced that he would create 176,000 jobs for a mere $225 million in cash from the EI fund.

Hold on a minute. In the last three years, net employment growth was around 134,600 jobs per year. So Liberals are arguing that they are going to more-than-double annual job growth by lowering premiums for some employers.

A simple “Zap” from Trudeau and it’ll all be taken care of.

But wait, what about the costing of this?

Mr. Trudeau’s second big problem is that his costing only considers net new jobs created, not gross new jobs created. But since every business that expands their payroll receives an exemption for each new employee hired—regardless of how many other businesses lose employees—the true cost will be based on gross job creation, not net.

Statistic Canada data shows that gross job creation is typically about 5 times higher than net job creation, meaning the real cost of Mr. Trudeau’s proposal will be 5 times higher than he claims. Based on Mr. Trudeau’s own numbers, that would be a total cost of over $1.1 billion.

Of course, Mr. Trudeau also seems to forget that exemption will end up going towards many jobs that would have been created anyway.

Economist Kevin Milligan recently noted that an empirical study on job creation tax credits found that you create one new job for every eight jobs that would have been created anyway

Canada would need to gain approximately 1.5 million new jobs for the Liberal EI premium cut to directly create 176,000 new jobs.

  • If an additional 176,000 jobs really were created, the total price tag could be over $1.5 billion a year.
  • So, if there were no additional new jobs created by this credit, the Liberal plan could still cost as much as $700 million – over three times Mr. Trudeau’s estimate.

While Libs and Conservatives steal from the Employment Insurance fund for badly thought out jobs plans, the NDP proposes measures that will actually get Canadians back to work.

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Statement on Canadian military deployment to Iraq

The Leader of the Official Opposition Tom Mulcair made the following statement today:

“Tonight’s emergency debate on Canada’s military involvement in Iraq must be followed by a parliamentary vote on a clear motion that outlines the details of Canada’s commitment.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) poses a serious humanitarian and security threat. Responding to such a threat requires a full assessment of the facts on the ground and a clear understanding of the role that Canada should play. Yet, Stephen Harper and his government have not even answered such basic questions as the number of Canadian troops deployed to Iraq and their role.

Stephen Harper’s refusal to seek a clear mandate from Parliament for the deployment of Canadian troops in Iraq is a betrayal of his earlier promises to Canadians.

In 2006, the Conservative party platform promised that “a Conservative government will […] make Parliament responsible for exercising oversight over the conduct of Canadian foreign policy and the commitment of Canadian Forces to foreign operations.”

Again in 2007, his Speech from the Throne reiterated “…our Government has made clear to Canadians and our allies that any future military deployments must also be supported by a majority of parliamentarians.”

These promises must be kept.

After a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Canadians expect their leaders to approach potential military commitments with prudence and transparency. Many recall that in 2003, Mr. Harper in his role as Opposition leader was keen to join the US invasion of Iraq.

It is of particular concern that the government appears incapable of conveying a coherent understanding of the mission’s objectives, strategy, costs and timelines. Such vagueness under the Liberals led to almost a decade of mission creep in Afghanistan.

Mr. Harper risks repeating these mistakes as he commits Canada to military involvement in Iraq without presenting a clear mandate for Canadian Forces members or securing the consent of Canada’s Parliament.

At tonight’s debate, New Democrats will seek answers to these important questions and reiterate our calls for addressing the humanitarian needs caused by this conflict, combating sexual violence, upholding international humanitarian law and seeking to bring war criminals to justice. We will once again demand that the government put a clear mandate for Canada’s military deployment to a vote of Canada’s Parliament.

Canadians deserve better than a government that cannot – or will not – answer basic questions about our country’s military deployment to Iraq.”

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Reminder to Liberals – remember that vote on the China-Canada Foreign Investment Protection Agreement?

What have the Liberals been telling Canadians about the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA)?

The agreement locks Canada in to a secret process giving Chinese companies a say in Canadian investments and natural resources.

If you spent a bit of time on Google, you might find these quotes:

“Liberals have raised concerns about provisions of this agreement, particularly on the issues of transparency during arbitration, termination of the agreement, and the length of time the agreement is in force.”
Email response on behalf of Justin Trudeau, April 25, 2013

“The Liberal Party does have serious concerns with the Canada-China FIPA.”
Joyce Murray, April 25, 2013

“The Liberal Party has raised concerns about provisions in the Canada-China investment agreement”
Wayne Easter, House of Commons, April 18, 2013

But don’t be fooled. When the issue of FIPA was put to a vote in the House of Commons all the Liberals present – including Justin Trudeau – voted in favour of the agreement and with Stephen Harper.

You can see the results here.

That’s on their record.

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The NDP will press for a vote on the federal minimum wage

The NDP will be using its day in opposition Tuesday to attempt to convince the government to raise the federal minimum wage.

“After 10 years under Stephen Harper, Canadian families are facing urgent problems and need help right away. Reinstating the federal minimum wage is just one of the ways that we want to improve the quality of Canadian jobs,” said NDP Labour critic Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie).

The NDP motion states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should reinstate the federal minimum wage and increase it incrementally to $15 per-hour over five years.

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