OTTAWA – New Democrats expressed support today for the Supreme Court decision to reject an attempt by the Conservatives to establish a national securities regulator, saying this proves Stephen Harper was inappropriately interfering with provincial jurisdiction. “New Democrats have always maintained that regulating securities trading is a provincial responsibility,” said New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel. “The constitution makes it pretty clear what provincial duties are and today’s decision reflects that.” New Democrats have long argued that eliminating the cooperation among provinces and territories will actually harm the economy—particularly in cities like Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary, where the regulators of financial markets are now based. The majority of provinces agree with the New Democrats and have opposed this move by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. “The provinces and territories have done a good job monitoring securities trading, so why fix something that isn’t broken?” Turmel said. “Stephen Harper tried to step on provincial toes, but fortunately the Supreme Court had other ideas.” New Democrat Finance Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby – New Westminster) said that instead of interfering with the provinces, the federal government should focus on its own responsibilities. “If the government is serious about cracking down on white-collar criminals and protecting economic integrity in Canada, it should start by ensuring the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is up to the task,” Julian said.
OTTAWA--In the week before Christmas, Conservatives have been quietly pushing through more than 125 patronage appointments to various federal positions. Headlining Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s patronage spree were appointments of defeated Conservative Cabinet Ministers Jean-Pierre Blackburn to a coveted job at UNESCO and Bernard Généreux to an influential position with the Quebec City Port Authority. Official Opposition Ethics Critic Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay) and Treasury Board critic Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite Patrie) are crying foul. “For the Harper Conservatives, there’s no better time to announce the appointment of failed candidates, Conservative donors and well-connected insiders to plum taxpayer-funded gigs than after the House of Commons has risen and in the final days before Christmas,” said Angus. The New Democrats pointed out that rounding out the list of patronage appointees – to positions like Employment Insurance referees and IRB members – are 2011, 2008 and 2006 Conservative candidates and party donors. “By continuing his pork patronage appointments to taxpayer-sponsored positions, Stephen Harper is sending one message loud and clear: Conservative friends get all the benefits while Canadians are left behind,” concluded Boulerice.
OTTAWA – New Democrats today blasted Stephen Harper for turning his back on Aboriginal families after the United Nations Special Rapporteur strongly criticized the government for failing to address the humanitarian crisis in Attawapiskat. “This investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur is consistent with the serious concerns raised by Canada’s Auditor General,” said Linda Duncan, Official Opposition critic for Aboriginal Affairs. “The spring 2011 report of the Auditor General raised serious concerns with the abject failure of the federal government to improve living conditions for Aboriginal Canadians. She called for major structural reforms to guarantee Aboriginal communities receive basic services on par with other Canadians, but the Conservatives have refused to act.” James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, expressed “deep concern” today over the crisis in Attawapiskat—as well as the health of other Aboriginal communities in Canada. He pointed the finger at the Conservative government, accusing it of underfunding reserves and blocking efforts to investigate discrimination against First Nations communities. New Democrat MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay), whose riding includes the Attawapiskat reserve, issued an invitation to the UN’s Special Rapporteur to visit Attawapiskat and see the situation for himself. “This crisis has been going on for months. Families will be spending winter in tents in Attawapiskat and the Conservatives just don’t seem to care,” said Angus. “Conservative inaction is a disgrace and giving Canada a black eye in front of the world.” Duncan also pointed out that this is the second UN special investigation announced this month on the treatment of Canadian Aboriginals. Last week it was revealed that a UN Commission is investigating missing and murdered Aboriginal women and children. “Canada has endorsed the mandates of these special rapporteurs. It is incumbent on the Harper government to fully cooperate with these investigations,” concluded Duncan.
OTTAWA – New Democrat Environment Critic Megan Leslie (Halifax) is slamming the Conservatives’ hypocritical war against the Chiquita banana company, pointing out that this government’s inaction on climate change is the root of the problem here. “Instead of taking action on climate change, Conservatives just repeating the phrase ethical oil over and over trying to rebrand oil sands bitumen,” said Leslie. “It comes as no surprise that Conservative Cabinet Ministers are quick to slam Chiquita’s campaign to reduce its dependency on the oil sands, given former ethicaloil.org lobbyist Alykhan Velshi now works as a senior advisor in the PMO.” Leslie pointed out that the decision by Chiquita comes on the heels of the U.S. delaying the Keystone pipeline and European nations threatening sanctions because of Stephen Harper’s refusal to take action on climate change. “Conservatives are making decisions that are killing Canadian jobs,” said Leslie. “Conservatives will need a lot more than Ethical Oil talking points to deal with the real environmental and ethical concerns our international partners have about oil sands production.” New Democrats pointed out that the Conservatives are also ignoring fair trade issues and don’t seem to care about workers’ living conditions in banana fields, let alone their wages or rights, when negotiating new trade deals with countries such as Honduras.
OTTAWA – A day after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shocked provinces by unilaterally declaring a new formula for health care funding, New Democrats blasted the government for turning their backs on much needed health care accountability. “It’s the federal government’s job to ensure Canadian families have access to universal, quality health care services—no matter where they live.” said New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel. “Instead of working with the provinces to improve frontline services, the Conservatives have simply cut and run.” Turmel said it wasn’t enough for Minister Flaherty to drop a new funding formula in the laps of his provincial counterparts. She said the government needs to work with the provinces to deliver on the priorities of Canadians. “This government likes to talk about accountability, but where’s its plan?” Turmel said. “How will it ensure federal funding leads to more doctors and nurses, better home care and more affordable prescription drugs? The Conservatives have no more cards to play to ensure accountability.” New Democrats have long called for the federal government to play a leadership role in helping provinces hire more doctors and nurses, while reducing wait times and ensuring access to affordable prescription drugs and home care with dignity. After yesterday’s meeting, provincial finance ministers made it clear that this won’t happen. “Provinces know that federal inaction will mean reduced services and longer wait times,” said New Democrat Health Critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “The Conservatives have failed to show any leadership and families are going to pay the price.” “The Conservatives have abandoned their promise for stable funding and accountability. They are turning their backs on the millions of families still without a family doctor.”
As Finance Ministers meet in Victoria to discuss health transfers, New Democrats today slammed the Conservatives for their mixed-messaging on health care funding and urged Stephen Harper to maintain the federal government’s stable, 6 per cent escalator. “Canadian families need to know their front-line health services will be protected,” said New Democrat leader Nycole Turmel. “It’s up to the federal government to show some leadership and ensure Canadian’s healthcare gets the stable health funding it needs.” Reports surfaced last week that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was preparing to slash provincial health transfer increases and was keen to tie future funding to unknown future GDP. In the 2011 election, the Conservative’s only healthcare promise was to maintain the 6 per cent funding escalator. “Under the out-of-touch Conservative plan, if Canada has a bad year, sick families will be out of luck,” Turmel said. “Canadian families can’t trust Stephen Harper to protect their health care services.” Turmel urged the government to negotiate in good-faith with the provinces on a stable funding plan to hire more doctors and nurses, make prescription drugs affordable and ensure Canadians get long-term care in their homes. “Stephen Harper should spend less time playing hard-ball with the provinces and more time protecting the front-line health care that families rely on every day.” NDP Finance Critic Peter Julian, in Victoria to respond to the Finance Ministers meeting, added that the Conservatives need to stop lecturing provinces and start working with them to deliver on the priorities of Canadians. “First Stephen Harper says the provinces have no choice but to pay for his expensive and wrong-headed prisons agenda. Then he tells them Ottawa won’t be a full partner on ensuring Canadians can get the front-line health services they rely on. That’s wrong.”
OTTAWA – As the fall sitting of Parliament ends, New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel highlighted the many accomplishments of New Democrats in what was a historic year for all Canadians. “Quite simply, 2011 is the year that Canadians changed Ottawa – forever,” said Turmel. “On May 2, four and a half million Canadians took a good look at Ottawa. And they didn’t like what they saw. The ongoing scandals; the divisive politics; and just how little was being done to help Canadian families. They said Ottawa was broken. And they put their trust in New Democrats to fix it.” Turmel says her New Democrat team has already delivered on that promise of change, with record numbers of women and young leaders in Parliament. By setting a new tone in Parliament and for the first time in decades, uniting progressive Canadians from every corner of the country – including Quebecers. “But perhaps the biggest change has only been seen more recently,” noted Turmel. “For the first time, as we move towards the next election, Canadians now have a clear choice in direction for our country.” She slammed the Conservatives for consistently putting well-connected insiders first, and for failing to act on the issues that matter to Canadian families: job creation, health care, pensions, and lifting First Nations communities out of poverty. Canadians are now seeing a clear choice with a New Democrat team that will ensure families come first and nobody is left behind. “They also have a clear choice on the caliber of the team they want fighting for them,” said Turmel. “Six years into government, Stephen Harper’s team remains an embarrassment. I will put my front benches up against this crew any day. Our united team is matched only by the caliber of the candidates from across the country running for leader.” Going into 2012, Turmel says her team remains as committed as ever to carrying out Jack Layton’s dream for a better Canada. “The outpouring we saw upon his passing showed us something we all knew. The values Jack Layton held dear are Canadian values. He had a dream for a Canada built on hope, optimism, perseverance and the rock solid belief that by working together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome. That’s a truly Canadian dream.” said Turmel. “New Democrats will always carry on Jack Layton’s legacy. By working together. By defeating Stephen Harper. And by forming a New Democrat government that will always put Canadian families - not well-connected insiders - first.”
OTTAWA – Official Opposition Foreign Affairs critic Hélène Laverdière (Laurier – Ste-Marie) and Associate critic Jinny Sims (Newton – North Delta) responded to the Harper government’s decision to finally help provide emergency consular assistance to Canadian citizens in Syria. “This announcement comes quite late,” said Laverdière. “Commercial flights are already reduced due to sanctions from the Arab League. There are only a handful of flights leaving Syria today. Given the amount of time it will take for Canadian officials in Damascus to provide travel documents, we worry about what will happen to people who don’t get the documents in time to catch a commercial flight?” “This announcement leaves more questions than answers,” said Sims “What happens after January 14th? Will Canadians in Syria be on their own? Will the Embassy be shutting its doors in Damascus? Why the arbitrary deadline?” Laverdière, a former Canadian diplomat, also expressed concern that the crisis in Syria is getting worse by the day. The United Nations is now reporting that over five thousand people have been killed. “We are witnessing a mass atrocity, but the Canadian government’s reaction has lagged behind other Western countries,” she added. “Now is the time for Canada to be doing the hard diplomatic work that could prevent a worsening crisis. Canada has a role to play in helping Syrians avoid a civil war.” Throughout the fall session, the NDP have been emphasizing the need to build strong democratic institutions in Arab Spring countries as well as diplomatic intervention in crises in the region. “This morning we were pleased to hear Minister Baird finally recognize the role of democracy promotion,” said Laverdière, “but this needs to be done hand-in-hand with conflict prevention. We hope he will take this very seriously in the coming weeks.”
OTTAWA – New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel says today’s report from Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan shows a disturbing pattern of an out-of-touch Conservative government asleep at the wheel. “It was only last month that the Auditor General’s report found the Conservatives in a state of chronic mismanagement. Today, we’re seeing that same mismanagement at play throughout the government’s environment files – to the detriment of the Canadian public,” said Turmel. Today’s report shows a lack of enforcement on environmental regulations; a lack of contingency or safety planning for the transport of dangerous goods; and the importance of good science in managing our fish stocks – at a time when Conservative cuts to marine science threaten conservation. “The Commissioner’s findings are very disturbing. It seems there’s no sheriff in town at all when it comes to environmental regulation in Canada,” said Turmel. “This government doesn’t know who it’s regulating or what it’s enforcing. What’s worse, they’ve known about many of these problems for years without taking action. This kind of mismanagement is unacceptable and puts Canadians at risk.”
OTTAWA – The inaction of the Conservative government on missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in this country is shameful, said Official Opposition Leader, Nycole Turmel. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) will conduct an investigation into the 600 documented murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada in the last 20 years. “We welcome the UN investigation and are anxious to find out the results, but once again, the inaction of the Conservatives is a source of embarrassment for Canada internationally,” said Turmel. “The UN sounded the alarm three years ago and called for action on the part of the government, but nothing was done. We simply can’t rely on this government to seriously address the crisis these Aboriginal women are facing,” said Turmel. It’s only the second time the CEDAW Committee has launched this type of investigation, the first was in Mexico. These investigations are only used as a last resort, when the government has failed to resolve the situation. “These murders and disappearances are a real tragedy. These women have waited far too long to get real action from their government. This government doesn’t do anything for Aboriginals and, once again, they have to rely on the international community to get help,” said the NDP Leader. “This government must conduct a serious investigation into crimes against Aboriginal women. It must also put in place a clear strategy to address and eliminate violence against women in this community,” concluded Turmel.
OTTAWA – New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans critic, Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam), and Fisheries and Oceans deputy critic Phil Toone (Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine), criticized the Conservatives today over radical new cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “The Conservative government is continuing their pattern of neglect for Canada’s fisheries and coastal communities,” said Donnelly. “Staffing cuts will hurt conservation, science-based management, research and marine safety, proving once again that this government is out of touch with the priorities of our coastal communities and those that make a living from the fishery.” Last Friday, the Public Service Alliance of Canada was informed that between 150 to 280 positions will be cut in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Many of the job cuts will be in the areas of science, ocean management, fish habitat management and conservation. Also, the department plans to shed 39 positions from the coast guard, further jeopardizing marine safety. “The Conservatives have already announced that they are closing Coast Guard Search and Rescue Centres,” said Toone. “And now we learn they are cutting Coast Guard staff in marine communications and traffic services. This government is clearly more concerned about the bottom line than it is about the lives of fishers and mariners.”
MONTRÉAL – Not all Canadian politicians share the Conservatives’ position on pulling Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol, say New Democrat MPs Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie), Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Hochelaga), François Choquette (Drummond) and Pierre Jacob (Brome-Missisquoi), who are attending the Kyoto, pour l’espoir rally in Montreal today. “By pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, by not respecting Canada’s international environmental commitments, by not participating in the new green energy economy, the Conservatives are showing, now more than ever, that they are completely out-of-touch with the people of Quebec and Canada,” said the MPs. “Not only is the Conservative government not doing enough to protect the environment at home, it’s also savaging Canada’s reputation internationally and putting the health of our children and economy at risk,” they added. Kyoto, pour l’espoir was jointly organized by several Quebec environmental organizations. The demonstration is held this afternoon at Place du Canada, corner of Peel and René-Lévesque.
OTTAWA – The government’s plan to sell Transport Canada assets and privatize airports across the country will make rural towns less accessible and hurt families’ pocketbooks, according to Official Opposition critic for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Olivia Chow. Chow explained that smaller communities rely on having transportation options available to connect them—and their economies—to the rest of Canada. New Democrats are concerned that selling off the airports they rely on will make these communities more isolated. “The level of ground services in parts of the country has already declined dramatically, after the privatization of CN Railways and the reduction in Greyhound bus connections,” said Chow. “To make things worse, Transport Canada is now putting the axe to rural air services through its plan to privatize airports.” It’s not just smaller communities that would be affected, according to Chow. Airports like Toronto’s Pearson International are currently run by government appointed arm’s-length agencies. Privatization would make them less responsive to both travelers and their local community. “This initiative will lead to passengers paying for skyrocketing airport fees. Under the guise of cost-cutting, the government is looking to cash in on vital infrastructure. That does nothing to help Canadian families,” Chow concluded.
DURBAN – Speaking from the Durban climate change talks, New Democrat Deputy Environment Critic Laurin Liu today blasted Environment Minister Peter Kent for proposing a new, binding climate change deal by 2015 — while obstructing the very talks trying to reach a deal. “This is ludicrous on many levels,” Liu said. “We’re here in Durban discussing the second phase of an existing treaty that took two decades to negotiate — which the Minister has said he will turn his back on. How on earth could he expect the world to negotiate a new treaty with a country that has no respect for existing ones?” Liu explained that trying to add a new round of negotiations, with an extremely short timeline, would be a waste of time and money and would distract from important initiatives like the Green Climate Fund. She also pointed out that Canada has already weakened its domestic targets for greenhouse gas reductions, but is failing to meet even those. “The Minister clearly isn’t satisfied with destroying his credibility on climate change at home,” Liu said. “Now he’s come to Durban to savage Canada’s reputation internationally by obstructing progress and making hypocritical proposals that just waste more time.”
OTTAWA – Legislation to prohibit the import of shark fins, often illegally caught using inhumane methods, was introduced today by Official Opposition Fisheries and Oceans Critic Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam). “With millions of sharks being killed each year just for their fins, this international marine conservation crisis requires immediate action,” said Donnelly. “The often illegal targeting of sharks for their fins is causing a rapid decline in shark populations and hurting marine ecosystems around the world.” It is estimated that up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, often by a practice called shark finning, where the fins are cut off the shark and the body is dumped back into the ocean to slowly die. “The Canadian government can take a leadership role on this issue and adopt legislation that will help protect sharks and promote strong international ocean stewardship,” said Donnelly. “This legislation would stop the import of illegal shark fins into Canada and make our country a leader in the movement to protect sharks.” In 2009, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature revealed that over one-third of all shark species are threatened with extinction as a result of the inhumane practice of shark finning. To prepare the legislation, Donnelly has been consulting with various organizations and stakeholders across the country consultations. His office commissioned Mustel to poll British Columbians, who found that around 84% of residents support a federal ban on shark fin imports. A petition Donnelly launched just a week ago has already been signed by over 3000 Canadians.
OTTAWA — New Democrat MP Françoise Boivin (Gatineau) is honoured to participate in a conference on women’s participation and leadership in public service, an initiative by Hillary Clinton. The MP was invited by the U.S. embassy to the event that will take place mid-December in Washington. The colloquium Advancing Women in Public Service seeks to engage women of influence in a variety of fields around the world. Women from all over will meet from December 15 to 17 at Georgetown University and the U.S. Department of State in Washington. It’s the first ever event organized by the Women in Public Service Project, an initiative announced by U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, last March. “I’m very honoured to be invited to take part in this event. I’ve been involved in politics for several years now to change the world we live in. Still today, too few women are active in high-level decision making in our society. This will be an excellent opportunity to share our experience and learn more about the role we have to play,” said Françoise Boivin. Françoise Boivin is a lawyer specialized in labour law. She has been doing this for 27 years. She entered federal politics in 2004 and sat on several parliamentary committees. She also hosted several radio and television news shows. She is currently Official Opposition Critic for the Status of Women and Deputy Critic for Justice.
OTTAWA – Canadians are concerned about the consequences of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)for the public health care system and the ever-rising cost of prescription drugs. Unfortunately, the Conservative government has allowed little study into the real impact of CETA on Canadian families. New Democrat MPs on the committee, Health Critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Deputy Critic Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Beauharnois—Salaberry), MP Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord) and MP Djaouida Sellah (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert), are demanding the Standing Committee on Health examine the impact of a potential Canada-EU free trade agreement. The MPs have presented a motion that will be tabled this afternoon. “We know that a trade agreement promoting deregulation is a threat to our public health care system. If government procurement is included in this agreement, some health services may even be privatized,” said Davies. “Since 2009, Conservatives have been negotiating a trade deal with the EU behind closed doors and have refused to disclose what it will cost Canadians,” said Brian Masse (Windsor West), the Official Opposition critic for International Trade. “Conservatives must release the details of the agreement and protect the interests and health of Canadians.” Quach added she is concerned about the consequences of the agreement on prescription drug costs. “Europe wants to extend the length of drug patents by at least 3 years, which would increase the cost of drugs and delay the entry of generic drugs onto the market,” said Quach. “This will further drain already stretched health budgets.” New Democrats are urging the Conservative members of the committee to agree to this study so Canadians can understand how this agreement will impact them and their health, before the agreement is signed.
OTTAWA – New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper today, asking his government to provide immediate help to the community in Attawapiskat. In the letter, Turmel reminded the Prime Minister that “this is a moment when we can come together as Parliamentarians and respond to the tragic situation” and appealed to the government to urgently provide appropriate federal resources, as requested by the community. A copy of Ms Turmel’s letter is attached.
OTTAWA – New Democrats are celebrating the CBC’s decision to reinstate their Punjabi-language broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada. The first broadcast of the season will be this Saturday, December 10, and features the Vancouver Canucks taking on the Ottawa Senators and the Edmonton Oilers playing the Calgary Flames. New Democrats led the call for the restoration of this multicultural service. “This is a victory for Canadians, especially Punjabi families across the country who became fans of the broadcast and became fans of the game of hockey,” said NDP Multiculturalism critic Don Davies (Vancouver-Kingsway). “It’s especially great that viewers will get to see four Canadian teams in action.” “We worked with the community to help save the broadcast because of how this vital program brought generations of a family together. Its loss would have been devastating.” “The census identifies Punjabi as the fourth most common language spoken in Canada and we know Punjabis play a vital role in the community,” said New Democrat MP Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North). “We’re happy that CBC recognizes this and is taking steps towards reflecting that through language-specific programming.” Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi will be presented by Chevrolet Canada, and will be available free on Rogers Cable, Shaw Digital TV, TELUS Optik TV and on Bell Satellite TV and Bell FIBE TV.
OTTAWA - The Official Opposition has learned that the Harper government is trying to eliminate trade tariffs on exports of lethal Canadian asbestos to India. “It is a disgrace that the Harper government has opposed the global effort to ban this substance,” said Official Opposition International Trade critic Brian Masse (Windsor West). “Now we find out Conservatives are actually attempting to expand Canadian asbestos sales to the developing world. This represents another sad chapter for the Harper government.” In response to questions from Masse, the Chief Negotiator for the Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement admitted Canada is currently working to eliminate tariffs on asbestos exports to India. Currently there is a 10 per cent duty on asbestos exports to India, the world’s second largest consumer of asbestos. “We already dump hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos each year into developing nations – and now we want to make it easier for asbestos magnates to do so?” said MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre). “This is deplorable and Canadians need to let their government know they will not put up with this any longer.” The Canadian government has long been criticized for its support of asbestos exports to countries with few safeguards in place to protect workers. Despite being asked repeatedly in recent weeks about asbestos in the House of Commons, the government never mentioned their plan to increase asbestos trade to the developing world through axing tariffs. “To actively pursue exporting this deadly product to countries that have little to no protection for workers is reprehensible,” said Masse. “It’s time for our government to acknowledge reality and develop a plan to help transition asbestos workers into new, sustainable industries.”
OTTAWA – Official Opposition critic for Seniors, Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) and Deputy Critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds-Dollard) hosted a roundtable discussion on seniors today. Both were thrilled with the attendance and participation of the people attending on issues like seniors’ health care, housing and pension security. “The response from organizations clearly shows there are many important challenges facing seniors today,” said Mathyssen. ”We heard some really wonderful ideas about how to address the challenges many seniors face in Canada.” This is the third roundtable that Mathyssen and Blanchette-Lamothe have hosted, the first two being in Toronto and Montreal. “It’s really been helpful to hear concerns that come straight from those working on the ground,” said Blanchette-Lamothe. “Many seniors are living in poverty with inadequate access to health care and in isolation. This kind of treatment of our seniors is deplorable.” The discussion at today’s roundtable focussed on the need for national pharmacare plan, the challenges facing immigrant seniors, the access to affordable housing as well as the need to strengthening our pension system. Seniors represent one of the fastest growing populations in Canada today. The number of seniors in Canada is projected to increase from 4.2 million to 9.8 million between 2005 and 2036. “Issues facing seniors are only going to intensify as more Canadians reach their senior years,” said Mathyssen. “Action now is critical – we need a plan in place, we need the structures in place to deal with this dramatic shift in our country’s demographics.” “Canadian seniors built our country and add much value to our communities. We must remember they have needs – and we all have a responsibility to help,” said Blanchette-Lamonthe. Mathyssen and Blanchette-Lamothe will use the feedback they receive through these roundtables to develop a National Strategy on Aging.
OTTAWA – NDP leader Nycole Turmel slammed the Conservatives for sabotaging the climate change talks in Durban and standing up for big polluters, not Canadian families concerned about the environment. She said that continued environmental inaction from the Harper Conservatives is tarnishing Canada’s reputation and putting Canadian jobs at risk. “The rest of the world is moving forward with clean energy solutions, and under Stephen Harper, Canada is being left behind. That’s bad news for our environment, and its bad news for Canadian families who will be shut out of high-paying sustainable energy jobs. New Democrats responded in the House of Commons today by using their Opposition Day motion to call on the government to take urgent action on the environment and to secure Canadian jobs in the new energy sector. “Our major trading partners in Europe and the US are shutting the door to energy trade with Canada, because of Harper’s job-killing environmental inaction,” continued Turmel. “Canadians have been clear: they don’t want to be left behind. We have to invest in a sustainable world for future generations and invest in the clean jobs of tomorrow.” Both the European Union and the United States have recently begun closing the door on trade opportunities with Canada due to Conservative inaction on climate change. And at last week’s UN conference on climate change, the Conservative government was lambasted by other delegates for being the country to have done the most to block progress on climate change. “Conservative inaction on climate change is embarrassing Canada on a global scale – and sending a clear message to countries that are moving forward with clean energy economies: don’t invest here,” said Turmel. “The debate in the House of Commons today will highlight the clear choice for Canadians. Job killing inaction on the environment, or the New Democrat vision of a Canada where we invest in future generations, invest in clean jobs and become a world leader in fighting climate change and building the new energy economy.”
OTTAWA – Official Opposition Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière, a former Canadian diplomat, expressed disappointment with the direction taken by the Conservatives on foreign affairs. Laverdière pointed out that despite recent increased sanctions against Syria, Minister Baird couldn’t say how much revenue the SUNCOR project, which the Conservatives have exempted from sanctions, earns the Syrian government. “How can the government say it has given this situation ‘careful consideration’, but can’t say how much money the SUNCOR partnership contributes to the Assad regime?” asked Laverdière. “We asked the Minister some tough questions on Canadian foreign policy at our last committee meeting, not just on sanctions against Syria, but also democracy promotion and Arms Trade Treaty negotiations. Unfortunately, Minister Baird has been very short on answers.” Baird has also now confirmed that the Harper Government will break its promise to establish a democracy promotion agency, as they committed to in their 2008 Speech from the Throne. “This initiative would have supported the peaceful transition to democracy and institution-building,” said Laverdière. “This could have been a key part of Canada’s reaction to the Arab Spring – yet the government killed it for no good reason.” Laverdière also noted Canada’s change in position on the Arms Trade Treaty could seriously harm negotiations and questions why the Conservatives are so determined to weaken this important Treaty. “Canadian values mean support for a strong Arms Trade Treaty, support for democracy promotion, and an ethical foreign policy that does not allow Canadian companies to partner with regimes that kill their own citizens. This government’s unbalanced approach to foreign policy is hurting Canada’s reputation,” concluded Laverdière.
OTTAWA – NDP Deputy Environment Critic and MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, Laurin Liu, will travel to Durban next week. She’ll participate in discussions on climate change, doing the work that Canadians expect from their Environment Minister. “New Democrats want to see Canada become a leader in building a new energy economy. The Conservatives’ only plan is to go to the conference and sabotage important discussions,” said Liu. “Canadians want a sustainable economy. They’ve had enough of Conservative environmental inaction. It’s costing Canadian jobs. I’m going to Durban to make Canadians’ voices heard and do the work the Conservatives are refusing to do,” she added. The rest of the world is moving forward with a new energy economy but, under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, Canada is being left behind. Important trading partners are closing their doors to Canadian energy because of the inaction of the Conservatives on climate change. “The Conservatives have no plan to fight climate change and no plan to create jobs in the new energy economy. While other countries are moving forward, Canada is falling behind,” said Liu. Liu will maintain a blog during her trip to Durban and will be active on social networks to inform Canadians of the details of discussions taking place at the Conference on climate change.
OTTAWA – New Democratic Consumer Protection Critic Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury) introduced legislation today that would mandate the creation of a standardized universal cell phone charger for all new mobile phones sold in Canada. “We know that when a person buys a new cell phone, they overwhelmingly dispose of their current charger, even if it’s in perfect condition,” said Thibeault. “People often have multiple chargers for home, work and in the car, so the cost of changing chargers quickly adds up.” Not only would the adoption of a universal cell phone charger remove the financial burden from consumers – who often have to change chargers when their old phone is broken, lost or upgraded – but it would also significantly reduce the ever-increasing volume of electronics waste which Canadian consumers are sending to landfills. In 2009, The European Union implemented a similar initiative, which resulted in the signing of a memorandum of understanding with 14 mobile phone manufacturers to make their devices compatible with the standard. Apple, Research in Motion, Motorola, and Nokia are just some of the big name manufacturers who have signed onto the E.U.’s plan to standardize cell phone chargers. “The E. U. experience has shown that manufacturers are willing to take the steps necessary to develop cellular charger standards,” said Thibeault. “This simple and cost-effective change will have positive consequences for the environment, reduce e-waste, and help save consumers money.”
OTTAWA - Official Opposition Veterans Affairs Critic Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore) called on the federal government to investigate the treatment of families who lost their sons and daughters in Afghanistan and were denied the death benefit under the New Veterans Charter because the soldiers were declared ‘single’ with no dependents. The death benefit under the New Veterans Charter is only granted to the spouses or children of soldiers; the parents of single soldiers are not eligible. “It is very cruel for the Department of Veterans Affairs to be fighting these families on this death benefit issue,” said Stoffer. “These families lost their sons and daughters in Afghanistan while serving our country. How cold-hearted and mean can this federal government be to refuse this payment to these families? “We know that it would cost the federal government about $3 million dollars per year to extend this death benefit to the families of single soldiers but that money would only be spent in the event of the death of single soldiers. Why does the federal government insist on short-changing veterans’ families who have lost their loved ones? Stoffer issued a letter to the Minister of Veterans Affairs today asking him to quickly resolve this issue. He was particularly concerned that this issue was raised well over five years ago and still not resolved. He also noted that the treatment of the Dinning family, who took their case to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, is especially appalling. The Tribunal was just about to rule in favour of the Dinning family, when Veterans Affairs Canada decided to accept a previously rejected application of a girlfriend as common-law spouse for the death benefit, and the case was dismissed. “An eleventh hour offer by the Department to recognize Dinning’s girlfriend as a common-law spouse was no doubt done to try to quash the hopes of other families challenging the government on the discrimination related to this death benefit,” said Stoffer. “Time and time again, the Department of Veterans Affairs, throws up barriers that restrict veterans’ and their families from getting the programs and services they need. Instead, the federal government should do the right thing and offer this death benefit to the families of deceased single soldiers.”
OTTAWA – New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel slammed the Harper government today for its failure to keeps its promise to communities and put more police on the streets. In a speech to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Turmel said the federal government must take a leadership role in local policing. She highlighted how over the last six years, the Harper Conservatives have dropped the ball. “The Conservatives have been so focused on pushing through their expensive prisons agenda that they have failed to live up to their promise to put 2,500 more police officers on the streets,” said Turmel. “Municipalities and communities across Canada are asking for federal help to keep their communities safe. Instead of strapping provinces with massive prisons costs, the Conservatives need to step up and help hire more police.” The Harper government failed to live up to its 2006 promise to put more police officers on the streets in cities and communities, and refused to commit to long-term funding for the new hires. “Our solution is clear: make permanent and double the Police Officer Recruitment Fund,” said Turmel. “With policing costs rising, we can’t expect municipalities to shoulder the burden alone. They shouldn’t have to. It’s time for the Ottawa Conservatives to start showing some leadership.” Turmel also took on the Conservatives’ failure on infrastructure, saying that with the Building Canada Plan set to expire in 2014, the government will need to commit to stable funding cities can rely on. “Yesterday, the Conservative Minister announced that discussions for an infrastructure agreement will begin.They didn’t announce any funding yet, and we’re going to make sure they follow through and live up to the expectations and needs of our cities and communities”, said Turmel. “On any given day, Canadians are dealing with boil water advisories, crumbling bridges, traffic gridlock and unreliable public transit. Canadians communities need more than Conservative talk – they need action.”
OTTAWA – With the 2011-2012 hockey season now underway, Canadians across the country are coming together to enjoy the sport with family and friends. The same would be true in the Punjabi community, if the CBC brought back the Punjabi-language Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts, said NDP Multiculturalism critic Don Davies (Vancouver-Kingsway). “Punjabi is the fourth most common language in Canada [after English, French and Chinese],” said Davies. “Watching the games in Punjabi had become a household tradition enjoyed by the entire family – from grandparents to grandchildren. It’s a bonding experience that also provides new immigrants an opportunity to learn about Canada’s favourite sport and get a taste of Canadian culture.” The CBC initiated the weekly Punjabi broadcast across Canada in 2008, recognizing the importance of language-specific programming. However, the 2010 season was in jeopardy when a corporate sponsor could not be found. At the last minute, one did step up and the season’s Punjabi broadcasts resumed. During the current season, there is no Punjabi broadcast due to a lack of another financial contributor, and the community is rallying for a sponsor to step up and ensure the continuation of the broadcast. “It is devastating to the community to lose such a program that brought generations of a family together,” said NDP MP Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North). “I hope the CBC is able to secure a sponsor for the remainder of the season. I know that in many households across Canada, watching the Punjabi broadcasts had become a tradition and a way to bring the entire family together.”