MONTREAL – New Democrat Critic for the Americas, Paulina Ayala, will be in Asuncion, Paraguay this week taking part in the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas. Ayala will be talking about the importance of corporate responsibility, as Canadian businesses plan to invest in Latin America in the coming decades.
“Some of the most important investors in Paraguay, Chile and elsewhere in Latin America are Canadian businesses, and we now have the opportunity to showcase Canada’s leadership in the area of sustainable international development,” said Mrs. Ayala.
Ayala, the Member of Parliament for Honoré-Mercier, questioned the relevance of the government’s current ‘Americas Strategy’.
“The Harper Government has a very narrow view of our relationship with Latin American countries, Conservatives only see them in narrow economic terms,” explained Ayala. “The Conservatives’ lack of a comprehensive strategy for the future is regrettable.”
According to Ayala, existing rules are insufficient to adequately monitor the activities of Canadian businesses. “The Government is counting on voluntary standards adopted by Canadian businesses investing abroad, asking only as a minimum that they respect internationally recognized standards and norms. Canada should lead the way by ensuring local populations receive the full benefits of Canadian investment abroad.”
OTTAWA – All across the country, Canadians are expressing concern about the impacts of head injuries on the lives of hockey players. This is why New Democrats want to ensure that all the necessary measures are being taken to avoid sport-related injuries – and in particular, injuries leading to concussions.
“For more than a year, the NDP has been asking the government to seriously address the issue of violence in sports,” said New Democrat Sports critic Pierre Nantel (Longueuil – Pierre Boucher). “The growing number of concussions and other types of head injuries is robbing our teams of their best players. Is that the example we want to give to the youth of Canada? It isn’t. And it isn’t what Canadians want to see.”
Last winter, New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury) tabled C-616, a bill that would create a national strategy to reduce serious injuries in amateur sport. This strategy includes the creation of a head injuries registry, as well as clear guidelines to ensure athletes only return to the sport after being authorized to do so by a recognized medical professional.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League decided to act and they recently announced that heavy penalties would be imposed for all shots to the head. Similar measures could easily be imposed on professional leagues as well, where games are often faster and more violent.
“Amateur and professional leagues should not wait to lose their best players to concussions or other head injuries,” concluded Nantel. “Being aware of the dangers athletes face, the least we can do as parliamentarians is ensure that young people can practice their favorite sports in a safe environment.”
TIMMINS, ON – Documents released through Wiki Leaks are painting an alarming picture of Conservative collusion with U.S interests to force through U.S. style copyright legislation.
New Democrat Digital Affairs Critic Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay) says the leaks raise serious questions about the role played by former Industry Ministers Maxime Bernier and Tony Clement.
The documents reveal how a key aide to then-Industry Minister Tony Clement urged the United States to put Canada on their piracy watch-list in order to pressure Parliament to pass legislation that undermines the rights of Canadian consumers.
“The U.S. Piracy List is supposed to be reserved for countries on the margin of international law. Instead it is being used as a bully tool to undermine Canada’s international trade reputation,” said Angus. “It is astounding that Tony Clement would tarnish Canada’s international trade reputation by encouraging U.S. efforts to put us on this black list. Conservatives can’t be trusted to stand up for Canadian interests.”
The Wiki Leaks documents also reveal how former Industry Minister Maxime Bernier offered to give the American government a sneak peek at new copyright legislation even before it had been brought to the House of Commons.
“The Wiki Leaks documents reveal a pattern of collusion on the part of the Conservatives to undermine Parliament and sell out Canadian consumers. Canadians expect their government to stand up to unfair strong-arm tactics over copyright” said Angus. “Tony Clement appears to have supported a reckless course that damaged our international standing.”
VANCOUVER – Ahead of this month’s United Nations health summit, Canada’s New Democrat Official Opposition is challenging the Harper government to stop blocking a global plan to reduce unhealthy fats, sugars and salt in processed foods.
“Canadian families struggle every day to put healthy food on the table,” said Health Critic Libby Davies. “They don’t want to see their government become a mouthpiece for big food processors. They want their Canada to step up as a leader to help their kids live longer and healthier lives.”
The British Medical Journal charged this week that Canada is blocking progress on a global plan to reduce fats, sugars and salt in processed foods. Multinational food processors favour the ingredients because they are cheap and stable, but they are unhealthy for consumers. Poor diet is implicated in more than half of all deaths in the developing world and is a growing problem for Canadian families.
“It’s disappointing to see this government again blocking progress on a global health initiative—just like they did with asbestos this summer. Instead of always rushing to protect special interests in big industry, Canadians want their government to take a balanced approach that puts families first,” said Davies.
When it comes to public health, New Democrats are leading by example. In the 38th Parliament, they successfully passed a motion to limit trans fats in foods. They’re also the only party to introduce legislation to ban deadly asbestos exports.
EDMONTON – In reaction to a recently released report on aboriginal health, New Democrats today blasted the Conservative government’s lack of attention around the quality of life of Canada’s indigenous peoples. The NDP is calling on the federal government to devote more resources to the study and improvement of aboriginal health.
“Recent studies show the critical need for action on aboriginal health issues, particularly in Arctic communities,” said Linda Duncan, the New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development critic. “The Harper government is avoiding responsibility – in reality 100% of the responsibility lies with the federal government. These conditions are completely unacceptable in a developed country such as Canada.”
Duncan pointed to the increasing disparity between the health of aboriginal people and those of the rest of Canada. She noted that although Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has granted $21 million to study health equity, none of that money has been allocated to examine and most importantly, address Aboriginal health.
Dennis Bevington, the Member of Parliament for Western Arctic, echoed Duncan’s concerns, noting that Stephen Harper has his priorities backwards particularly when dealing with Inuit in the far north.
“Arctic sovereignty, which Conservatives claim is important to them, becomes meaningless if Canada’s Northern indigenous communities are being put at risk,” said Bevington. “The Conservatives must not turn a blind eye to these issues. Immediate action is required to avoid a health crisis in Canada’s North.”
OTTAWA- New Democrats are calling on the Conservative Government to focus Canadian efforts in Libya on reconstruction and building democratic institutions, while respecting the UN mandate.
New Democrat Defence critic Jack Harris expressed concerns that the Prime Minister risks overstepping the UN mandate at today’s NATO meetings in Italy.
“We want Canada to play a significant role in the reconstruction of Libya,” said Harris. “We need to focus on diplomacy and nation building. Extending the military mission is not the best way to do that, in fact the military mission should be winding down.”
Harris was responding to news that Conservative Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had suggested Canadian forces continue the Libyan mission beyond the scheduled end date of September 27th. Baird and Stephen Harper are currently in Italy meeting with other NATO allies to discuss Libya’s future.
New Democrats supported Canada’s involvement in the NATO mission in support of UN resolution 1973 and Government must not unilaterally change the terms for the mission without returning to Parliament.
“We must remember that the UN mandate was to protect civilians from the brutal Gadhafi regime, we are at the end of that threat and Canada should be making plans to bring the Canadian forces home.” said Harris. “Any extension of the mission, or any changes to the terms of reference, must be brought to the House of Commons. Canadians deserve to have their say.”
JONQUIÈRE – The modernization of Canada’s Employment Insurance system must not be conducted at the expense of workers in remote areas, their families and their communities, New Democrat Employment Insurance critic Claude Patry (Jonquière-Alma) said today.
The Conservative government intends to cut 600 jobs at Service Canada Processing Centers throughout the country. Budget cuts from the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development will bleed 300 more jobs from remote areas. Most of these jobs offer direct services to Canadians.
“How can the Minister pretend that these job losses will not affect the quality of services offered to Canadians?” asked Patry. “Many Canadians don’t have Internet access or the computer skills needed to complete these forms online. Each request is unique because it reflects the unique realities of workers and their families. Computerized systems simply cannot handled these nuances as well as agents working in processing centers can.”
In the next three years, many processing centers will close completely, decreasing the quality of services offered to Canadians, Patry warned.
“I understand that, in some cases, the computerization of services can be beneficial. However, we need to understand the reality of people who lose their jobs,” added Patry. “Losing your job is stressful enough as it is. It is often better for these workers to have direct contact with a real person, not a machine.”
Job losses in remote areas will also have in impact on local economies as unemployment rises and services supporting Employment Insurance applications decline. “This is a hard pill to swallow for Canadians in every single region that’s affected by this Conservative government manoeuvre,” concluded Claude Patry.
VANCOUVER – New Democrat MPs are congratulating the people of British Columbia for their historic victory over the Liberal-Conservative HST.
Now that the people have spoken, New Democrats are demanding the Harper Government listen and stop their plan to punish British Columbians for rejecting his attempt to raise taxes on almost everything they buy.
“This referendum was a great victory for British Columbians who believe that honesty is important in politics,” said NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies. “They have clearly said they want to reverse the Harper government’s cynical move to force the HST on the people of our province. Conservatives better listen.”
While the Harper government, with the help of the Liberals, were happy to quickly ram the HST legislation through the House of Commons, New Democrats fought against this unfair tax shift onto consumers.
“Small businesses of all types suffered significant losses due to the HST,” said NDP BC Caucus Chair Don Davies. “It would be both spiteful and damaging for Harper to now force BC to pay back $1.6 billion, after it was already invested in things like health care and education.”
From coast to coast to coast Tuesday, New Democrat constituency offices will be open for Canadians to drop by and sign books of condolence for Jack Layton.
Canadians are invited to leave messages or share stories about how Mr. Layton touched their lives.
For those that cannot make it in person, they can go online to www.ndp.ca and click on Express your Condolences to leave a message about Jack Layton and what he meant to them.
Mr. Layton’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers – and to continue the work of making Canada a better place – donations be made instead to The Broadbent Institute, in memoriam.
Donations to the Broadbent Institute can be made online at: www.ndp.ca/inmemory or sent to:
The Broadbent Institute
c/o Canada’s New Democrats
300-279 Laurier St W
Jack Layton’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, and to continue the work of making Canada a better place, donations be made to the Broadbent Institute, in memoriam.
Canadians can also go to www.ndp.ca and click on Express your Condolences to leave a message about Jack Layton and what he meant to them.
Donations to the Broadbent Institute can be made online at: www.ndp.ca/inmemory
Or mailed to:
c/o Canada’s New Democrats
300-279 Laurier St W
Ottawa, ON K1P 5J9
OTTAWA – Despite heavy public concern, Environment Minister Peter Kent has rejected a request by the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to conduct a federal review panel on the proposed Old Harry drilling project in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Board requested a federal review after a flood of letters from citizens concerned about the safety of the project.
“People in these communities saw what happened in the Gulf of Mexico and want to make sure the same tragedy doesn’t wash up on the shores of the St. Lawrence,” said NDP Environment Critic Megan Leslie. “They want to be assured that this drilling will be done safely. They shouldn’t be waved away by the Minister.”
The Old Harry drilling area borders five provinces, and encompasses 400 coastal communities – with economies inextricably tied to the ocean.
“This was a vital and valuable opportunity for community involvement and consultation, particularly in an area that has seen no previous oil and gas development,” said NDP Natural Resources Critic Romeo Saganash.
“But instead of playing a leadership role, the government has just passed the buck back to the province. If we’re to have any sort of national resource development best practices, we need to start working together.”
New Democrats are urging the Environment Minister to listen to the C-NLOPB and assist in an environmental review of the Old Harry site.
“The Minister has a responsibility to the hundreds of communities around the St. Lawrence to protect their environment, public safety and economies,” added Leslie. “Their concerns and livelihoods are more important than rushing through a drilling project without a proper review.”
OTTAWA — Serious new allegations have come to light against embattled Conservative Minister Tony Clement around meetings to divide up G8 money, held in the middle of the 2008 Federal Election campaign.
“This stinks. Handing out political IOUs in the middle of an election campaign is totally unacceptable,” said New Democrat Ethic Critic Charlie Angus. “Minister Clement must have known it was wrong to meet local mayors and start dividing up millions of taxpayer dollars in the middle of an election campaign.”
Documents released by the NDP earlier this week showed that one week after the 2008 election was called, Clement held his first “Local Area Leadership Group” meeting to discuss how to spend tens of millions of dollars throughout the riding as part of the G8 Legacy fund.
“Even before the fund was publicly announced, the he appears to be dangling taxpayer money in front of local mayors, whose support he needed for his reelection,” said New Democrat Treasury Board critic Alexandre Boulerice. “Was Tony Clement at these meetings as Minister or Candidate? And how could he ever imagine this was appropriate?”
Days after this meeting a number of Mayors went on to actually endorse Clement, who had won the previous election by just a handful of votes. Some even posted video testimonials on his campaign website – videos Clement later removed.
“As soon as the election was called, Clement should have cancelled all meetings related to this G8 slush fund. Instead he directed local politicians to send proposals for millions in spending to his riding office,” said Angus. “Mr. Clement has a lot to answer for.”
OTTAWA – New Democrat MPs today called for an emergency meeting of the House of Commons Finance Committee to discuss the economic crisis in the US and Europe and its potential impact on Canada.
NDP Finance Critic Peggy Nash, along with Finance Committee vice-chair Hoang Mai and committee members Wayne Marston and Alain Giguère, sent a letter to the committee clerk urging members to do their due diligence to ensure the economic security of Canadian families.
“The potential impacts of the US credit downgrade cannot be predicted with any certainty,” the MPs wrote. “It is important for the Finance Committee to meet to ensure the Government of Canada has a plan in place to assure the financial security of Canadians, especially in the face of uncertainty south of the border and around the globe.”
Nash emphasized that the proposed meeting is about instilling confidence in Canada’s economy and assuring Canadians that the government has a plan to address their concerns.
“Canadians deserve to hear from independent experts on the implications of the current crisis,” said the MP for Parkdale – High Park. “They need to know that their MPs are on the job and ready to act if necessary”.
OTTAWA – New documents reveal that Tony Clement used the G8 Legacy money as a $50 million personal slush fund and devised a system that would skirt transparency and accountability. This evidence obtained by New Democrats through municipalities in Muskoka contradicts the story given to the Auditor General by government officials.
New Democrat Ethics critic Charlie Angus says these new documents raise major questions as to whether the Conservatives engaged in a cover-up to prevent the AG from learning the true extent of the Muskoka slush fund.
“This stinks of a cover-up. Even at the height of the sponsorship scandal Canadians knew they could count on the Auditor General to get to the bottom of the spending,” said Angus. “Why didn’t the Conservatives tell the AG that they set up a private, parallel system outside the normal checks and balances of the bureaucracy? Tony Clement’s fingerprints are all over this file.”
The documents reveal the elaborate lengths Clement went to set up his own funding process to distribute $50 million. The projects were chosen by a small-group of mayors at meetings chaired by Clement. They wrote their own criteria for the projects, nominated projects for approval and then rubber-stamped the results. On top of all that, Clement used his constituency office to handle the intake of project proposals.
“The AG was unable to find any paper trail. This is because the AG wasn’t told that the paper trail was in Tony Clement’s constituency office. The AG was told that federal civil servants were not informed about how the money was being spent. And yet the documents show senior civil servants participating alongside Tony Clement in private meetings where the money was divvied up. Where is the accountability?
Angus says Clement broke all the rules when it comes to the G8 Legacy fund and that Canadians deserve answers. Since spring 2010 New Democrats have been calling for accountability into handling of the G8 / G20 summit.
“Haven’t we learned any lessons from the Liberal sponsorship scandal? Canadians deserve better. Sadly it seems the Conservatives took all the wrong lessons from the Liberal sponsorship scandal— they’re just trying to make sure they don’t get caught, rather than making sure it doesn’t happen again.”
OTTAWA – New Democrat MPs today blasted Stephen Harper for what they term the Conservative’s ‘with us or against us’ mentality. They say the Prime Minister is wrongly labelling those who have concerns about trade deals with some South American countries as protectionist.
“Harper likes to say that anyone who criticises his policies is somehow out to see Canada fail,” said Robert Chisholm, the NDP International trade critic. “Canadians want the best deals with the strongest partners but our profits cannot come at the expense of our democratic principles.”
Chisholm, who has called on the Government for more transparency in the trade negotiation process, also noted that Canadians deserve to know more about the deals their Government is making.
“These are important negotiations that affect many aspects of our economy,” said Chisholm. “The first most of us hear about these deals is when the Government has already signed on the dotted line. There is no chance for concerns to be raised.”
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, Paul Dewar, echoed Chisholm’s concerns saying Canada should be showing leadership on the issue of human rights.
“In order to be a real world leader we must use our influence to put pressure on our international partners for improvements,” said Dewar “We cannot rebuke countries in the Middle east for state sponsored violence and human rights abuses while ignoring it in countries we are seeking to trade with.”