After learning the sudden and tragic death of the 47 miner Stephen Perry, yesterday, NDP MPs Claude Gravelle and Glenn Thibeault wanted to express their sincere condolences to the family and friends of the man who had worked for Vale Company in Sudbury for 16 years. “As a former employee of a mining company I know firsthand how dangerous it is to work underground. At the end of the day all a miner wants to do is earn a good living and go home to his family. My heart goes out to his family and his co-workers,” said Claude Gravelle. The accident occurred yesterday while Perry was working in the main ore body at the 4,215-foot level of Coleman mine. “This is an extremely tragic incident, and the second in the last year to affect the region. At this very difficult time, my thoughts and prayers are with the victim`s families, friends, co-workers, and other members of the community as they try to cope with this shocking and devastating loss,” said Glenn Thibeault. The Sudbury area MPs welcome the investigation of the accident and want workplace safety to be the top priority in any final recommendations.
OTTAWA – New Democrats are slamming the government for once again pulling the plug on the popular, cost-effective ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program with no warning. “Thousands of Canadians who were counting on this program are now once again suddenly being told they’re out of luck. It’s mind-boggling. This program is a true no-brainer: it saves families money, creates good local jobs, and reduces energy consumption – and more than pays for itself in economic spinoffs and tax revenues generated,” said Claude Gravelle, NDP Natural Resources Critic. On top of creating huge uncertainty in the energy-efficient retrofit industry, estimates suggest that ending the program now will mean that more than half of the money promised by the government will go unused. “Shutting down the program now makes no sense. As long as funds remain, a goal of retrofitting 250,000 homes should be the minimum – not a cut-off,” added Gravelle. “More public awareness about energy efficiency is welcome, but it won’t make up for ending the retrofit program.” The government’s own numbers show that households that have participated in ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes have saved on average $700 per year per $2000 spent on utilities, reduced energy consumption by over 20 percent, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 3 tonnes per house. “A quarter million Canadians have used the program to save on their energy bills and help the environment. It’s a proven program with great results, which is why New Democrats will continue to fight to make it permanent,” concluded Gravelle.
OTTAWA – On the heels of ominous warnings from Stephen Harper’s government about cuts to OAS, New Democrats met today with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP). They discussed how seniors will be affected and worked on the best ways to oppose Conservative cuts to seniors. “Seniors just can’t trust this government,” said New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel. “At a time when a quarter million seniors are living in poverty, Stephen Harper wants to make it harder for them to retire with dignity. That’s plain wrong.” The meeting, organized by New Democrat Pensions Critic Wayne Marston, explored the implications of the government’s proposed OAS cuts and how seniors can be protected. Turmel, Marston, New Democrat Seniors Critic Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) and Deputy Critic Alain Giguère (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin) participated. “Mr. Harper didn’t say a word about OAS during the last election and didn’t bother to consult with anyone,” Turmel said. “Instead he dropped this bombshell at a meeting with the world’s elite in Davos. New Democrats do things differently—we want to know what seniors think.” Turmel also plans to meet with other seniors groups, such as the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation. She met with the Fédération des aînées et des aînés francophones du Canada in the fall. “This government dished out a whopping $1.4 billion in corporate tax cuts last year, and now it’s saying there’s no money left for pensions?” Turmel said. “They’ve got their priorities wrong and seniors are going to pay the price.”
OTTAWA – New Democrats are blasting Stephen Harper for forging ahead unilaterally with a multi-billion dollar prisons agenda many provinces have said they don’t want – and can’t afford. “The Conservatives like to talk about working with the provinces and territories, but as we saw with the Health Accord negotiations last week, Stephen Harper has stopped listening to the provinces,” said Jack Harris, NDP Justice Critic and MP for St. John’s East. “Provincial and territorial ministers are united in asking the Conservatives to consult with them on the implementation costs for their omnibus crime bill. But instead of showing leadership, Stephen Harper is walking away and leaving Canadians with the bill for his photo-op prisons agenda.” The Ontario government announced this week that the bill will cost the province’s taxpayers $1-billion, while Quebec estimates prison expansion costs could run as high as $545 million. “In tough economic times, Stephen Harper is not only slashing the services hard-hit families rely on – he’s hitting the provinces with his expensive prisons agenda and letting them deal with the problem. It’s unacceptable,” said NDP MP Françoise Boivin (Gatineau). “The Conservatives should have sat down with the provinces and territories to discuss the cost implications – instead Stephen Harper rammed his misguided legislation through Parliament. They need to go back to the drawing board and let the provinces in on the discussion, before this bill becomes law.”
OTTAWA - New Democrat MP and Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs Hélène Laverdière (Laurier – Ste-Marie) today condemned the Harper government’s request to Tunisian authorities that Canada keep up to 50% of assets seized from family members of the disgraced former President of Tunisia. “I am shocked that the Canadian government would seek to keep this money from the Tunisian people,” said Laverdière. “This money was stolen from the Tunisian people through corruption, and Canada has no right to it.” New Democrats have been calling on the Harper Government to freeze the assets of the Ben Ali family members for over a year, since the arrival of Belhassan Trabelsi to Canada in January 2011. “The government dragged its feet on seizing the assets of corrupt Tunisian officials living in Canada, giving these people time to try to dispose of their assets,” said Laverdière. “Now that Canada has finally done what they promised to do a year ago, they are refusing to release any details about the seized assets and want to keep up to half of the money here. Where is the transparency and accountability?” Laverdière noted that Canada should send any seized assets acquired through corruption back to Tunisia. “The Prime Minister has said he supports the democratic aspirations of Tunisians. First he objected to letting Tunisians living in Canada the right to vote in their elections. Then he tries to keep part of the proceeds from corruption. Canadians are outraged at this blatant disrespect for democracy.”
OTTAWA – Official Opposition Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière (Laurier – Ste-Marie) today condemned the actions of Egypt’s military government towards two independent international development agencies, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), and urged the Canadian government to take immediate action. Egypt’s military rulers have banned American and European employees of the two organizations from leaving the country. “Canada must raise this issue immediately with Egyptian authorities,” said Laverdière. “NDI and IRI are both excellent examples of organizations that work to support democracy-building in countries in transition.” Laverdière noted that the crackdown underscores the need for the democratic transition to unfold and for Canada to support the democratic aspirations of Egyptians. “Now is the time for Canada to remember our obligations towards the Egyptian people and to exert diplomatic pressure on Egyptian authorities to uphold the principles of freedom and democracy.”
OTTAWA - New Democrats are condemning the Harper Conservatives for slashing environment-friendly programs and jobs at Natural Resources Canada. “It seems government officials got a memo to slash anything clean or green – or that even has the word, ‘eco’ in it,” said NDP Natural Resources critic Claude Gravelle, reacting to news of new cuts at the department. In addition to cutting the hugely popular ecoENERGY Retrofit program, the department is cutting back on the Clean Air Agenda, ecoTRANSPORT Strategy, Canada’s Forest Sector Initiative, as well as cutting grants to Sustainable Development Technology Canada. “Its utter nonsense for the government to pretend these cuts won’t adversely affect public services or the environment. It’s night and day to compare Stephen Harper’s inaction against what President Obama is doing. While our government stands idly by, Americans are talking about developing renewable energy that’s cleaner, cheaper and creates jobs.” In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama said federal investments had helped double reserves of renewable energy, creating thousands of jobs. “Energy efficiency initiatives are crucial for both Canada’s environment and its economy,” said Anne Marie Day (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles), a member of the Natural Resources Committee. “Federal support for home energy efficiency retrofits makes good economic and environmental sense. It can help curb energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create local jobs while providing Canadians with permanent savings on their home energy bills.”
OTTAWA – New Democrats have convened a meeting today of the Standing Committee on Health to address the urgent need to define the federal government’s role in future health care funding. “We are at a critical crossroads in the history of Medicare in this country. Last week in Victoria, the premiers made it clear that they expect more from the federal government. But Conservatives have failed to take the lead in helping plan – and fund – future public health care in Canada,” said New Democrat Health critic Libby Davies. “Provinces, and Canadians, want action now. And the NDP is responding to that call.” NDP members of the Health Committee submitted a letter to the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Health on January 23, 2012, demanding an urgent meeting to discuss this issue. The MPs are reacting to the Conservative proposal to unilaterally cut federal health transfers, which the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said would increase the amount provinces pay for health care and limit the funding they receive from Ottawa. "As members of the Standing Committee on Health, we believe it is our responsibility as federal MPs to deal with this issue immediately," added Davies. "This committee is accountable to the public. We ask the Conservative members of this Committee to listen to Canadians and work with New Democrats to ensure Canada live up to its commitments in the 2004 Health Accord and ensure we have a strong and sustainable public health care system for years to come.”
OTTAWA – As First Nations leaders gather in Ottawa for meetings with the federal government, New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel urged the Prime Minister to work with First Nations, as full and equal partners moving forward. “We all know the critical challenges facing Aboriginal communities,” said New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel. “We saw it in Attawapiskat as we see it across the country. That is why First Nations are looking to this summit to reset their relationship with the federal government.” “The government must acknowledge that treaties form the basis of their relationship with First Nations,” Turmel said. “It is an issue of trust and respect. Only when this government realizes that it must work in a nation-to-nation relationship with Aboriginal leaders will we start seeing real progress on the critical issues. Everything else flows from that.” New Democrats are calling on the federal government to ensure that any new legislation or measures are developed in full consultation with First Nations. “As National Chief Atleo has stated there needs to be a new fiscal relationship, mirroring the statutory guarantees granted to non-Aboriginal governments and Canadians for education, health, social services,” said New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs critic Linda Duncan (Edmonton-Strathcona). “We will be gauging the seriousness of the Conservative government’s commitments in the upcoming budget.”
OTTAWA – New Democrat MPs Charlie Angus and Alexandre Boulerice released new documents today, obtained under the federal Access to Information Act, that shed light on Tony Clement’s role in selecting projects to fund with the G8 Legacy Fund. “Clement has been repeating for months that he had no role in selecting which projects got money from the G8 slush fund. What we have today are documents from senior public servants directly contradicting the Minister,” said Angus, Ethics Critic for the NDP. “At the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Minister Clement clearly claimed he didn’t pick the projects. He told us it would be wrong for him to have made the selections. He claimed it was the mayors who whittled down the list to 32 projects, from 242,” said Boulerice. “But the document we released today makes it clear that Clement misled the committee, the final 32 projects were recommended by Clement himself.” On November 2, 2011 Clement told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that he, the mayor of Huntsville and the General Manager of the Deerhurst resort “were not involved in selecting the projects” and called allegations of his personal involvement “mythology”. Federal documents released today by the New Democrats state “A list of unsuccessful applicants was provided by the Minister's office to FedNor officials and letters were prepared in accordance with the direction received from the Minister's Office.” The document goes on to note that a list of the 242 potential projects was provided by Clement’s office, including “the 32 projects which were recommended by Minister Clement.”
MONTRÉAL—CBC/Radio-Canada is a key actor in Canadian society and the Conservative government shouldn’t blindly slash their budget without taking into consideration the needs of communities, New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel said during her visit to Montreal today. “A 10 percent budget reduction means that CBC/Radio-Canada’s funding would be slashed by more than 100 million dollars per year,” Turmel said. “Some Conservative members wanted to cut the budget by 20 percent” The NDP recognizes the importance of CBC/Radio-Canada for Canadian communities, including those in remote areas and minority language communities. “The Conservatives are about to butcher a national cultural jewel and that’s worrisome. Quebec culture won’t be the same without CBC/Radio-Canada. And many communities located outside major centres, who count on the crown corporation for news and entertainment, risk seeing their public service deteriorate,” Deputy Heritage Critic Pierre Nantel (Longueuil-Pierre-Boucher) added. “In 2011, Quebecers set the wheel of change in motion and don’t want to now go back to the old debates and the old scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the Conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families”, concluded Turmel.
OTTAWA – New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel blasted the Conservatives today for dragging their feet on the new Champlain Bridge while applauding fellow New Democrat MP Hoang Mai (Brossard – La Prairie) for holding public consultations on the project. “Unlike the Conservatives, New Democrats listen to the concerns of everyday people. We will continue to make sure that residents of the area have a chance to share their vision for the new bridge,” Turmel said. Turmel highlighted that since announcing the environmental impact assessment of the replacement bridge, Conservatives have failed to give local families any information. “Conservative silence shows once again the bad faith of this government," Turmel said. “We all remember the reports of the bridge’s poor condition that they kept hidden. Quebecers deserve transparency, not more Conservative secrecy.” The NDP also pointed out that many questions still remain unanswered, particularly with respect to public transit being included in the design of the new bridge. “Public transit must be part of the design for the new Champlain Bridge. It’s the best way to reduce traffic jams, move people efficiently and protect our environment. Families have long called for this but unfortunately, Conservatives have turned a deaf ear,” said Mai. “Every day of Conservative inaction means the bridge gets older. Montrealers deserve a government that makes replacing this bridge a priority. The NDP will make sure the Conservatives hear these concerns,” Turmel said. “Quebecers have set the wheel of change in motion. They don’t want to go back to the old debates and scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the Conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families.”
LONDON – While Stephen Harper continues to turn his back on London workers locked out by Caterpillar Inc., NDP Leader Nycole Turmel promised workers the Official Opposition will stand up for Canadian jobs – and fight foreign takeovers that don’t put Canadians first. “Stephen Harper found the time to come here when he needed an election photo op. But now that workers are being threatened by the very foreign takeover he rubber-stamped, where is the Prime Minister?” asked Turmel. “While the Conservatives refuse to act, New Democrats are fighting for your jobs every day.” During the last election campaign, Stephen Harper staged a press event to announce his corporate tax giveaway plan, which included $5 million in tax breaks for Electro-Motive Diesel/Caterpillar. Nine months later, the US company gave London workers an ultimatum: accept a 50 per cent pay cut and slashed benefits or risk losing your jobs. “This isn’t about one town, or one plant, or one union. This is about the kind of Canada we want to live in. It’s about the world’s wealthiest foreign corporations rewriting the rules for all working Canadians, and pulling us back by decades,” said Turmel. “From U.S. Steel in Hamilton, to Vale Inco in Sudbury, to Rio Tinto in Quebec, Stephen Harper has rubber-stamped too many foreign takeovers gone wrong. And as a result, Canadians lose jobs.” “Stephen Harper can’t hide from Canadians forever,” added Turmel. “New Democrats are ready to take on this out-of-touch government until we elect a new one in 2015. We’ll hold their feet to the fire every day until we win this fight and start moving Canada forward.”
TROIS-RIVIÈRES — Thousands of Mauricie residents facing foundation problems in the home due to pyrrhotite must be compensated, New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel said today as she met with local residents alongside New Democrat MP Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières). “The pyrrhotite crisis is threatening the financial survival of many families in Mauricie,” Turmel said. “It’s an economic and human tragedy that calls for an immediate response—government has a moral obligation to help. In addition to compensation, federal standards for concrete aggregates should be strengthened in order to avoid a repeat of this crisis.” In the Mauricie region, more than a thousand families have seen their life savings disappear in the last few years after discovering pyrrhotite in the foundation of their homes. For homeowners, repair costs can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. “As the Member of Parliament for Trois-Rivières, I am pleased to see that this issue has made it to Ottawa,” said Aubin. “People in the region can count on the NDP to demand fair compensation from the Conservative government.” “In 2011, Quebecers set the wheel of change in motion and don’t want to go back to the old debates and the old scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the Conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families,” concluded Turmel.
EDMONTON – As the Premiers voice their dismay with Stephen Harper’s failure to consult on health transfers, equal concern should be given to the government turning its back on Aboriginal health care, according to New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs critic Linda Duncan (Edmonton-Strathcona) and Dany Morin (Chicoutimi-Le Fjord).
SUDBURY—Today, New Democrat Sports Critic Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury) was on hand as Sudbury’s Lady Wolves laced up for trials of a new concussion sensor system designed to help coaches and trainers fight the growing epidemic of concussions in sport. Impakt Protective Shockbox is a wireless Bluetooth sensor designed to detect the impact to a player’s head and send the results back to the coach for analysis. “Concussions are not as obvious as other injuries and for years have gone undiagnosed or worse ignored as a serious problem,” said Thibeault. “For the sake of the boys and girls who play hockey and other contact sports we need to make sure that we not only have the proper rules in place but also the right techniques and equipment to prevent and diagnose these serious brain injuries.” Thibeault has been a leading advocate for reducing concussions in hockey and other sports and put forward a bill in the House of Commons to reduce the growing number of concussions in amateur sport. For him linking local hockey associations with emerging industry leaders is integral to curbing the concussion. “We tend to see concussions as only a problem in the major leagues however it is an epidemic across amateur hockey as well and crosses the gender barrier too,” said Thibeault. “That’s why it was important to find a local women’s team to participate in the Shockbox trials to ensure that female athletes are not being excluded from innovative solutions to rein in the ongoing concussion epidemic.” The trails of the Shockbox with the Sudbury Lady Wolves who have seen three players, approximately 20% of the team, already sidelined with concussions this season. Recent medical evidence suggests that girls suffer concussions at a higher rate than boys in similar sports. “At the end we parents and fans just want to know that the game is safe,” said Thibeault. “To do that we are going to need new guidelines and new technology to make sure that the boys and girls who play the game play in the best possible environment.”
OTTAWA – NDP Natural Resources critic Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt) and Environment Critic Megan Leslie (Halifax) criticized Conservative inaction and irresponsibility regarding the development of unconventional sources of oil and gas. New Democrats ask the Conservative government to end its two-year stall on promised rules for the fracking of shale gas in the wake of news reports that an Alberta well blowout and Ohio earthquake were triggered by the controversial mining. “These are serious accidents putting the public at risk and yet the Conservatives two years after promising regulations still let their friends in the oil and gas industry make up the rules,” said Claude Gravelle. “It’s the job of government to protect Canadians and right now they are not doing the job.” Provincial regulators in Alberta acknowledge an oil well blowout last Friday near Innisfail, Alberta could have caused an oil well blow a kilometre away. On Christmas Eve, a 4.0 earthquake in Ohio was linked to nearby hydraulic fracturing. “Earthquakes and blowouts have got everyone’s attention except this government,” said Megan Leslie. “They’ve completely abandoned the precautionary principle, something that should be at the heart of all our decision making on environment issues. The risks related to this technique must be identified in full, particularly cumulative impacts.” Fracking is an increasingly controversial practice that injects chemical-laced water and sand at high pressure into oil and gas reservoirs to enhance underground pathways so hydrocarbons flow to the wellbore. It's subject to moratoriums in several jurisdictions including Quebec over concerns ranging from water contamination to water quantity.
QUÉBEC — New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel criticized the Conservative government today for its risky decision to close the Maritime Rescue Centre of the Coast Guard in Quebec City. “The Conservatives have decided it’s ok to put the safety of cruise ship tourists, pleasure boaters and commercial fishermen at risk – all in the name of saving a few dollars,” said Turmel. “Without a maritime rescue centre in Quebec, distress calls will be forwarded to Trenton or Halifax. Emergencies on Quebec shores will be dealt with by people who don’t know the area and might not speak the language.” The Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue centre in Quebec currently employs nine people who respond to an average of 1,422 marine incidents per year – 13 per cent of these are distress calls. “To save a few thousand dollars, Conservatives are playing games with the safety of French speaking fishers and pleasure boaters from Eastern Quebec and the Maritimes,” said Annick Papillon, (Québec). Last fall, New Democrats filed a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The federal agency is currently investigating the closure. “Quebecers have set the wheel of change in motion. They don’t want to go back to the old debates and scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families”, concluded Turmel.
VICTORIA – New Democrats are demanding that Stephen Harper come back to the bargaining table and work with Canada’s first ministers to come up with a health care agreement ensures adequate health care for Canadians. “Canada’s premiers are united in their disapproval of the current Harper formula,” said New Democrat Health critic Libby Davies. "This hands-off approach doesn't work for the provinces and it won’t work for Canadians. Mr. Harper needs to show some leadership and come back to the table. Canadians have been clear – they want better healthcare. So why is our own Prime Minister stepping away from his responsibilities?” At a time when the differences between provincial health care systems in Canada is growing, federal leadership is required now more than ever to ensure Canadians have access to high quality health care across the country. "With no leadership from Stephen Harper, we risk having 13 different healthcare systems in the country, which risks the very foundation of Medicare" added NDP Deputy Health critic Anne Minh-Thu Quach. "It's time our federal government honours its commitments spelled out in the 2003-2004 Health Accords and in the Canada Health Act. New Democrats will continue to press the federal government to get back to the table and negotiate with the provinces in good faith.”
GRAND-MÈRE — Speaking today from St-Maurice–Champlain, New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel says she’ll continue to defend the people of this riding who put their trust in Jack Layton and the NDP on May 2. New Democrats will continue to raise regional issues, hold the Conservative government to account and put the priorities of St-Maurice Champlain families first. Turmel added that the new Liberal MP Lise St-Denis no longer had the right to sit in Parliament. “She must step down, out of respect for democracy and the tens of thousands of citizens who put their trust in the NDP in the last election,” said New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel. “On May 2, the voters of Saint-Maurice–Champlain were clear: they wanted nothing to do with the Liberals, who finished in fourth place with a meagre 11% of the votes. Nearly 9 out of 10 voters rejected the Liberal’s same old politics as usual. St-Denis’ betrayal is a slap in the face to all those who voted for change.” New Democrats say Lise St-Denis owes it to her voters to return to the polls. “If Lise St-Denis has confidence and an ounce of respect for democracy, she’ll let the citizens of her riding be the judge. If not, she’s unworthy of representing them.” “New Democrats will continue to work on behalf of the citizens of Saint-Maurice–Champlain. They deserve someone in Ottawa who will stand up for them and represent their values,” concluded Turmel. “The families of the region can continue to count on us.” To demonstrate this, the leader asked Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières) and Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier – Maskinongé) to step in and bring the issues affecting the people of Saint-Maurice – Champlain to the House of Commons. Quebecers have set the wheels of change in motion. They don’t want to go back to the old debates and scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families.
OTTAWA – NDP Transport critic Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) and United Steelworkers National Director Ken Neumann warned Canadians today that the Conservative government’s cuts to airport security screeners will compromise passenger safety and security. Conservatives are planning on cutting a significant number of security screeners, setting off a potential crisis in airports across the country. In Toronto, this will mean 300 fewer security screeners in place at Canada’s busiest airport. “The security of Canadian air travellers will be compromised by these latest cuts to airport security screeners. This will compromise security and lead to much longer line ups," said Chow. “Canadians already are paying a security screening fee every time they fly, there is simply no excuse for these service cuts.” The cuts at Pearson’s International Airport affect those responsible for pre-boarding security. Airport Security Screeners who accompanied Chow warned these cuts would create significant service delays. "To protect passenger safety and provide timely service, the Canadian Air Transport Security Agency (CATSA) must reverse these dramatic cuts in frontline airport security screeners," added Neumann. “Once again, the Harper government punishes workers and Canadians suffer. When it comes to airport security, Canadians deserve an upgrade, not being bumped." said Chow.
MONTRÉAL — “The federal government must take responsibility and properly invest in the construction and maintenance of social housing for families,” New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel told a meeting today with community groups from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in Montreal. “Since April, the federal government has cut their financial investment entirely in the construction of new social housing,” said Turmel. “The Conservative government has a duty to ensure the well-being of all families in this country. This includes ensuring there is adequate social housing. The Conservatives say it’s time to spend billions of dollars on fighter planes. We say it’s time the government re-evaluated its priorities. By investing in social housing, everyone will benefit.” Alongside Hochelaga MP Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, Turmel met with residents and stakeholders of this fast developing neighbourhood. The Official Opposition Leader said the current revitalization of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is a good thing, but no one in the community should be left behind. “All Canadians should have a secure home, no matter their economic situation,” Turmel said. “This is why funding for social housing must be a priority for the federal government. This is as true for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve as it is for all urban centres in Quebec.” According to the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), approximately 982,000 Canadian households are still lacking basic housing requirements. “The situation gives cause for concern. When families are forced to spend too much on housing, other basic needs suffer,” said Boutin-Sweet. “Quebecers have set the wheel of change in motion. They don’t want to go back to the old debates and scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the Conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families,” concluded Turmel.
OTTAWA – New Democrats slam cuts to nearly 200 teaching positions at the Canada School of Public Service. These courses allowed public servants to learn or perfect their skills in one of the country’s two official languages. “The Harper government’s attitude toward bilingualism is totally inconsistent. On the one hand, it claims to support bilingualism, but on the other, it cuts an essential program that allows public servants to offer quality services to all Canadians,” said Yvon Godin (Acadie-Bathurst), NDP Official Languages Critic. “Once again, the country’s language communities will pay the price of an ideological government that refuses to respect the very notion of bilingualism in Canada.” A spokesperson for the President of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement, said the decision to cut the School of Public Service “is not part of the deficit reduction program.” “If these cuts aren’t part of the government’s austerity program, then it seems the Conservatives simply have contempt for French-speaking Canadians,” added Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières), NDP Critic for Francophonie. “New Democrats call on the government to immediately explain its outright attack on the French language, because this represents yet another insult to Francophone communities from coast to coast to coast.”
SHERBROOKE — As part of her tour of Quebec, New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel took part in a roundtable discussion on infrastructure today with elected officials from Montérégie and Estrie. Turmel reiterated New Democrat support for municipal efforts to convince the government to act on this issue. “It’s time for different levels of government to work together on making stable investments in our public infrastructure,” Turmel said after her meeting. “By 2014, nearly half of federal funding in this domain will expire. It’s about time we came up with a plan.” Accompanied by local MPs Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke) and Jean Rousseau (Compton – Stanstead), Turmel argued for government action on infrastructure. “The Sherbrooke region would greatly benefit from expanding public transport and improving the quality of road infrastructure,” she said. “The Conservatives continue to turn their back on our communities,” Dusseault pointed out. “The government’s most recent budget didn’t address the urgent infrastructure needs of our communities. Cash-strapped towns will soon be virtually incapable of responding to their growing infrastructure needs.” New Democrats will continue to hold the Conservatives to account and keep a close eye over the next few months on whether they are adequately responding to the legitimate infrastructure needs of Canadian communities. “In 2011, Quebecers set the wheel of change in motion and don’t want to now go back to the old debates and the old scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the Conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families,” concluded Turmel.
OTTAWA – New Democrat Food Safety critic Malcolm Allen (Welland) is warning that funding cuts quietly announced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) this morning will mean major setbacks that increasingly put Canadian families at risk. The agency’s 2011-12 Estimates Report on Plans and Priorities outlines the government’s plan to decrease funding by $21.5 million and eliminate 234 staff. “This news will only further erode Canadians’ confidence in their food safety system,” said Allen. “I strongly urge this government to reconsider these cuts and provide CFIA the resources it needs to ensure the food Canadian families are putting on their dinner table is safe.” Despite lingering food inspection concerns over listeriosis, according to this CFIA report, “resources will sunset for listeriosis, and for increased frequency of food inspection in meat processing establishments”. “Just a few short years after the devastating listeriosis outbreak that killed 23 Canadians, this government is turning their backs on consumers”, added Allen “It is irresponsible and shocking that a country like Canada would allow this type of risk to be present in our food supply.”
VICTORIA – As premiers gather in Victoria for health care talks, New Democrats today blasted Stephen Harper’s failed leadership on health care, pointing out how the government’s inaction on implementing the much needed reforms included in the current health care accords has hurt the frontline services Canadian families rely on. “Conservatives talk about being committed to health funding, but then went and announced cuts to health funding. You can’t trust Conservatives to stand up for public health care,” said New Democrat Health critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “After investing over $160 billion in health care, many of the reforms included in the 2003-2004 health accords have seen little or even no improvement under Stephen Harper’s leadership.” Davies was speaking to a New Democrat organized roundtable on Health Care that brought together leading experts to discuss what can be achieved now, under the current Health Accords. Davies pointed out that despite agreement between the federal and provincial governments to save billions through developing a National Pharmaceutical Strategy, Conservatives have failed to act. “Canadians have a hard time knowing if they are actually getting value for money when it comes to health care because not many of the accountability tools called for in the Accords were ever developed,” said New Democrat Deputy Health critic Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Beauharnois-Salaberry). “In fact, the Advisory Committee on Governance and Accountability was supposed to help governments be accountable to the public – but now it doesn’t even exist anymore.” New Democrats have long called for Ottawa to take a leadership role and to work with the provinces to hire more doctors and nurses, reduce wait times, make prescription drugs more affordable and ensure Canadians can access better home care.
JOLIETTE — Appalled by the inhumane situation of many workers in these tough economic times, NDP Leader Nycole Turmel is urging the Conservative government to take action to create and maintain quality jobs across the country. Turmel and New Democrat MP for Joliette, Francine Raynault, met today with employees of Electrolux, whose closure will lead to the loss of 1,200 jobs. Jobs that will be transferred to the United States. She also spoke with workers from Kruger Products in Crabtree, who recently learned that their company wouldn’t be making a significant investment in the region. “It’s with growing bitterness that I note the serious repercussions the Conservatives’ inaction on the economy has on the daily lives of thousands of my constituents,” said Turmel. “The government must take its head out of the sand and act now to stimulate the economic activity of this country. This isn’t rocket science. We need an investment plan with concrete solutions now.” Well aware of the tragic consequences job loss can have on her constituents, Francine Raynault recalled that the House of Commons unanimously adopted an NDP motion demanding that the government present a clear plan to stimulate job creation. The Official Opposition presented concrete measures like introducing a hiring tax credit and reducing the paper burden for SME, she reminded. “Unlike the Conservatives, the NDP puts Canadian families before oil companies and CEOs of major corporations,” said the MP for Joliette. Quebecers have set the wheel of change in motion. They don’t want to go back to the old debates and scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the Conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families.
OTTAWA – New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel will begin a tour Sunday of the regions of Quebec and meet with Quebecers in their communities. She will also help give people a chance to get to know the New Democrat team. From January 15 to January 23, Turmel will meet with municipal leaders, civil society organizations and labour groups across the province. “This tour will give me a chance to take the pulse of Quebec families and talk to them about their priorities,” said Turmel. “In these tough economic times, many Quebecers are having trouble making ends meet and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are still refusing to act. I want to talk to families about how we can work together to improve their daily life and build a fairer society.” The tour will also give the Leader and Official Opposition MPs a chance to talk with local elected officials about infrastructure funding, and bring their concerns back to Ottawa. The NDP Leader will begin the trip in Joliette, before heading to Grand-Mère, Sherbrooke, Donnacona, Québec City, Trois-Rivières and Brossard. She’ll end her tour in Montréal. In 2012, New Democrats will continue the work started by Jack Layton and hold Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to account. “The NDP will continue to deliver and offer a clear choice to Quebec and Canadian families. Between the out-of-touch Conservatives who constantly put the interests of their insider friends first, and a strong, unified NDP that offers concrete solutions to issues that really matter for families: job creation, health care, pensions and the elimination of poverty,” said Turmel. “In 2011, Quebecers set the wheels of change in motion and don’t want to now go back to the old debates and the old scandals. By working together, we’ll replace the conservatives in 2015 and build a better future for Quebec families,” concluded Turmel.
OTTAWA- With the Harper government scrambling to fix the confusion it has caused around the validity of thousands of same sex marriages, New Democrats are pointing out that the Harper government has repeatedly tried to roll back equal marriage rights. “This isn’t something that happened over night, this has been going on for months now,” said Randall Garrison, the New Democrat critic for LGBT Issues. “It was a government lawyer that was once again trying to use a loophole in the current law to erode the rights of these families. It is hard to believe that no one in Cabinet knew about this as I had asked the Minister of Justice about this problem in the House of Commons last October.” This is the second time the Harper government has intervened in a court case regarding same sex divorce. In October, they intervened to try and deny legal validity to gay civil partnerships from the UK. “We welcome today’s statement that the Harper government accepts the validity of all same sex marriages in Canada and will move to amend the Divorce Act to allow marriages entered into in Canada to be dissolved here regardless of their legal status elsewhere,” Garrison said. “However the Minister of Justice has now been twice caught trying to chip away at same sex marriage rights by intervening in court cases to oppose equal marriage,” said Garrison. “If the Prime Minister is serious about not reopening this issue he will instruct his Minister of Justice to stop trying to roll back the clock on equal marriage.”
QUÉBEC — The devastating closure of the White Birch Paper Co. is the latest example of why the Investment Canada Act must be improved to better protect Canadian jobs, according to the NDP. “Foreign investment in Canadian companies can be a good thing. But companies must establish how this investment will have a net benefit to Canada and local communities,” said Official Opposition Industry Critic, Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques). “The law calls for this, but never defines what this means. The Act must be changed to better protect our communities.” Currently, when a Canadian company is bought up by foreign interests, this is done in secret and commitments made by the purchasers are often too vague to enforce. “The consortium Black Diamond Capital Management bought the White Birch Paper Co. in September of 2012, promising to protect jobs. One year later, this plant is closed. That’s unacceptable,” said Caron. Caron also outlined two other labour disputes involving companies under foreign ownership are going on right now in Quebec and Ontario. “The evaluation process for foreign investments must be open and transparent. Conservatives must act now to better protect the Canadian economy and workers,” said Caron. “I can only share the frustration of workers who suffer from the arbitrary decisions of foreign owners,” said Raymond Côté, MP for Beauport–Limoilou. “They didn’t even wait for the union to present a counter-offer. It’s heartless and cavalier.”
OTTAWA – Today New Democrats blasted Stephen Harper’s plan to unilaterally cut federal health transfers and call on the Conservative government to instead work with the provinces to come up with a sustainable solution. “What the provinces need is a federal partner that’s committed to improving Medicare, not one that leaves the table without paying its fair share,” said New Democrat Health Critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “The provinces were clear about the dangers of Mr. Harper’s out-of-touch plan--now Kevin Page is too.” Yesterday the Parliamentary Budget Officer warned the move would threaten the sustainability of the healthcare system and force provinces to cut vital services that families rely on. Kevin Page’s report detailed how reducing the rate of growth in health transfers would widen the gap between what provinces pay for health care and what they receive from Ottawa in transfers. “The Conservatives are leaving provinces with the check and Canadians with a system that will grow weaker over time,” added New Democrat Deputy Health Critic, Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Beauharnois-Salaberry). “Canadians want leadership on healthcare, not the hands-off approach the Conservatives have shown over the years.” New Democrats will be meeting with many stakeholders this Sunday in Victoria, BC, to talk about the much needed reforms that can still be achieved under the current health accords to ensure healthcare remains sustainable.
OTTAWA – NDP Human Resources Critic Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan) and Employment Insurance Critic Claude Patry (Jonquière-Alma) are demanding that the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development apologize to the 2500 employees of Service Canada who sent her grievances. New Democrats were reacting to news reports revealing Minister Finley has received grievances from thousands of Service Canada employees who are asking her to resign after series of bad decisions, warning of a crisis that hamper the ability of Service Canada to deliver services to Canadians. “We learned today that the phone lines at Service Canada are so jammed that only one call out of three makes it to an agent. The time to process a claim went from 27 days to 45. This is not the service Canadians need and deserve”, said Jean Crowder. New Democrats have been hammering the Conservative government for months about shocking delays and problems at Service Canada call centers. “Conservatives are cutting in services like Service Canada, just when Canadians need help the most”, said Claude Patry. “We also believe there is always room for cost savings while conserving the highest quality in services offered to Canadians.” In September, New Democrats strongly criticized the Minister after shocking delays were found at Service Canada call centres. Almost 25% of calls related to EI were abandoned because callers weren’t able to reach a representative and hang up rates in some regions, like Winnipeg and Vancouver, were as high as a third of all calls.
OTTAWA – New Democrats today blasted Stephen Harper for failing to make bilingualism a requirement for the new CRTC chair, saying it once again proves French is not a priority for the government. “How can the Conservatives expect this person to protect Canadian culture without being able to speak both our official languages?” said New Democrat Deputy Canadian Heritage Critic Pierre Nantel (Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher). “It’s unacceptable and an affront to French-Canadians.” New Democrats reacted quickly to the job posting to find a replacement for CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein, whose term expires this month. The new posting lists bilingualism as preferred—but not required. “The chair of the CRTC is a very important position,” said Nantel. “This person will make key decisions that will impact Canadian culture every single day, so the ability to speak English and French is essential.” New Democrats highlighted the worrying Conservative trend of disregarding the importance of bilingualism in Canada. Nantel said the recent appointment of a unilingual Supreme Court judge and the unilingual Auditor General shows the government isn’t taking French seriously. “The problem is that French just isn’t a priority for Mr. Harper,” Nantel said. “Time and time again, this government has shown it can’t be trusted to protect French language rights.”
OTTAWA – The NDP welcomes the International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision to launch a special task force to determine how to halt the epidemic of concussions plaguing the world of hockey. Numerous specialists, including physicians, former players and equipment experts as well as the National Hockey League, will look at various ways to eliminate concussions resulting from hits to the head. Last October, the NDP once again proposed a national strategy to reduce the number of injuries in amateur and youth athletics. The plan seeks to create a national sports injury surveillance and data collection system, with respect to concussions. It would also establish substantive concussion guidelines, including a sufficient deterrent mechanism to ensure athletes are not returning to play against medical recommendations, create national training and educational standards for coaches, and institute funding guidelines to assist amateur sports organizations in implementing these protocols. “I strongly urge the Conservative government to follow the Hockey Federation’s leadership and take action as quickly as possible by adopting the NDP strategy,” said New Democrat Sports Critic, Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury). “I think it’s clear that the rising number of professional athletes who cannot compete due to health issues is becoming a serious problem. It’s our duty to provide a safe environment where our youth can take part in their favourite sport.”
OTTAWA – Pointing to six months of dismal job numbers and a rising national unemployment rate, New Democrat Employment Insurance Critic, Claude Patry, says the Conservatives need to stop ignoring the country’s jobs crisis and put a plan in place to get Canadian families back to work. “Three months ago, Parliament passed the New Democrat motion to act on jobs because families are tired of the inaction. Three months later, the jobless numbers continue to rise and this government is still sitting on its hands. Canadian families deserve better,” said Patry. “Just like in 2008, the Conservatives are refusing to act on jobs – even in the face of overwhelming evidence. This government keeps moving in circles when it should be moving forward.” Today’s labour force numbers show a national unemployment rate that has inched up to 7.5 per cent, with a youth unemployment rate that now sits at double the national average. This follows a two month period where Canada lost close to 72,000 jobs. “Just last fall, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer predicted 100,000 more Canadians could find themselves out of work by the end of 2012. At the same time, the Auditor General reported that it was impossible to determine whether the Economic Action Plan was even successful,” added Chief Opposition Whip Chris Charlton. “Meanwhile, Stephen Harper’s only plan is more corporate tax giveaways for already profitable corporations – with no guarantee a single job will be created.” “The verdict is in here – and the Conservatives’ approach has failed,” added Patry. “New Democrats are listening to Canadian families, and we know they want results. That’s why we’ll keep pushing every day until we see real action to boost small businesses and kick start job creation in Canada.”
OTTAWA – New Democrats called out Prime Minister Stephen Harper for turning his back on London families as US manufacturing giant Caterpillar threatens to take over 50 per cent in wage cuts and other benefits away from the more than 400 employees it locked out last Sunday. “It was only three years ago Stephen Harper used this very plant as a backdrop to announce a $5 million federal tax break for this already profitable company,” said NDP MP Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe). “But now that Caterpillar wants to cut its workers’ salaries roughly in half, Mr. Harper is nowhere to be found. The Conservatives say jobs are a priority, but they continually refuse to act. It’s hard to see how they can keep a straight face anymore.” NDP Labour Critic Yvon Godin says years of Conservative mismanagement has lead to a string of bad foreign takeovers that have seen wages cut, pensions slashed, and Canadian jobs shipped overseas. “Given this government’s heavy-handedness with the labour movement, I can only imagine how quickly the Conservatives would step in if a union asked a company for a 50 per cent wage increase in bargaining,” said Godin. “But in this case, an already profitable global corporation wants Canadian families to live on half the salary, and this government doesn’t think it’s their problem. Well Mr. Harper, this isn’t just a union problem, and it isn’t just a London problem. It’s a Canadian problem, and it’s time to act.”
OTTAWA –New Democrat Treasury Board Critic Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont--La Petite-Patrie) is demanding the Conservative government immediately start collecting the penalties Sikorsky has racked up for failing to meet delivery deadlines for the Cyclone helicopter. The US aerospace company was supposed to deliver the Cyclone by November 2004. Sikorsky has since missed multiple delivery deadlines and now owes $8 million in penalties – something the Conservative government has failed to enforce. “Sikorsky has been in contravention of the procurement contract for some time and owes Canadian taxpayers a lot of money. What is the government waiting for?” said Boulerice. Sikorsky has faced late fines from the Canadian government before, but Conservative Defence Minister Peter MacKay waived the fines – only to let new fines rack up as the aerospace giant continued to miss its deadline. “This kind of Conservative mismanagement is costing Canadian taxpayers millions,” said Boulerice. “While Canadian families remain out of work, this government keeps giving a free pass to a global aerospace company that regularly wins multi-billion dollar contracts,” said Boulerice. “Sikorsky doesn’t need handouts from Canadian taxpayers. This government needs to get serious and start collecting the money owed to Canadians.”