36 posts categorized "global issues"

November 10, 2008

Building Bridges and Delivering Trains: Can Del Mastro Do It All?

"The Kelowna Accord...there is no such thing. It was nothing but a press release."
-
Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro,
newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary
to Heritage Minister James Moore


Figurineandclock It will be interesting to see how other members of the Peterborough community respond to Dean Del Mastro's appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore.

We've already heard from the arts community, but cultural workers aren't the only ones who will be affected by Del Mastro's appointment.

Canadian Heritage is responsible for arts and culture, citizenship and identity, international activity (international events, international expositions, trade and investment), diversity and multiculturalism, sport, and youth. See this comprehensive A to Z index for an overview of everything this Ministry oversees. 

The Peterborough business community will no doubt be enthusiastic, looking for opportunities to benefit from trade and investment opportunities abroad.

And the sports community will be delighted to have sports being overseen by someone based in Peterborough. (Peterborough has long claimed ownership to anything related to the world of hockey, as any local can attest.)

But as for those parts of our community affected by government decisions related to diversity and multiculturalism; citizenship and identity; and youth -- they may not be quite as enthused.  Along with arts and culture, there are many parts of the Canadian Heritage file where Del Mastro has more learning and much bridge-building to do.

It sounds as if Del Mastro is going to be busy. Very busy. And yet he told the Peterborough Examiner that he won't be too busy to deliver the goods as an MP: "Ultimately I won't allow it take away the focus away from delivering the many things I have been working on for our riding."

Good thing. On top of all his new responsibilities, he still has to follow through on his promises to deliver the train, the battery plant, the Little Lake resort, and the legislation guaranteeing property rights. Etc.

October 15, 2008

Peterborough: Possibility City

"I'm so disappointed in Peterborough. Now I remember why I ran away when I was 16."
- A Peterborough voter commenting on the election results, quoted in today's Peterborough Examiner.

I believe in Peterborough and its potential to become something more. This is what I think about when I think about Peterborough and its potential.

Peterborough, the ethical city; Peterborough, the just city; Peterborough, the visionary city; Peterborough, the creative city; Peterborough, the innovative city; Peterborough, the eco-city; Peterborough, the multicultural city; Peterborough, the all-ages city; Peterborough, the hate-free city; Peterborough, the bullying-free city; Peterborough, the no-one-goes-hungry city; Peterborough, the barrier-free city; Peterborough, the entrepreneurial city; Peterborough, the healthy city; Peterborough, the active city; Peterborough, the sustainable city; Peterborough, the local foodbasket city; Peterborough, the welcoming city; Peterborough, the politically engaged city; Peterborough, the public spaces city; Peterborough, the indie media city, Peterborough, possibility city.

A lot of people are working towards these various ends.

And not all progress has to come through political channels.

We can take a two-tiered approach to working for change in our communities:

1. Add your voice to the loud chorus of Canadians insisting on democratic reform now;
2. Work for change through all channels available to you as a citizen.

Don't give in to cynicism or apathy. Let frustration fuel your resolve to work for change.

October 09, 2008

Harper Platitudes, Privatizing Healthcare, No-Money-Down Mortgages, Unregulated Markets, and True Leadership

Newspaper "For Canadians who are watching their life savings disappear, Harper delivered nothing but platitudes. 'People who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules are getting ahead,' the Harper platform assures us. If only it were true."
- Randall Denley, "Harper's problem is not lack of empathy, but lack of credibility," Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 9, 2008

"I would urge Canadians not to be swayed by the siren song of the privatizers. This is about profiteering as much as it is about health care. The same businesses that have made an exorbitantly expensive and unhealthy mess of the US system stand ready to do the same in Canada. The problem with Canadian medicare is not the system, it is the amount of money put into it."
- Marcia Angell, MD, "Privatizing Health Care is Not the Answer," Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 21, 2008 (available for download)

"In what may turn out to be a too-little, too-late intervention, this summer Flaherty limited CMHC to ensuring mortgages of homebuyers who can make at least a five per cent down payment and who amortize their mortgages over a maximum of 35 years. The new restrictions will only take effect as of October 15, 2008, essentially closing the barn door after the horse has bolted."
- Eileen Gould, "How Harper Gov't Pushed Financial Deregulation Here, Abroad", The Tyee, October 9, 2009

"I do not know what will happen to us; the economic fallout of an unregulated market and the end of oil will soon make our world unrecognizable, and that includes Canada, this good place. It won't matter who was right or who was wrong. We're all in this together. I wish us all good luck."
- Heather Mallick, "The Palin Fallout,' CBC.ca, October 6, 2008

"[Harper] is completely out of touch with the impact the current economic turmoil is having on the lives of everyday Canadians. We worry about our savings, our jobs. For many of us it is more than the worry.
It is the hurt, the harm."
- Stéphane Dion, quoted in Dion bests PM in crisis response, Editorial, The Toronto Star, October 9, 2008

"It was when the waiter started clapping that I realized Stephane Dion might - just might - pull off a coup in Tuesday's election...The dark-suited crowd applauded. But the waiter could hardly contain himself. "That's my party, man," he said, clapping furiously. "That's my party. Doesn't matter whether you like the candidate or not. Focus on the party. That's my party."
- Thomas Walkom, Suddenly, Stéphane's sitting pretty, The Toronto Star, October 9, 2008

 

October 06, 2008

The Great Peterborough Train Conspiracy: Now Dean Del Mastro Thinks Stéphane Dion Wants to Steal His Train

After failing to convince Peterborough voters that Betsy McGregor does not support the team (the key focus of his campaign to date), Dean Del Mastro has suddenly switched strategies. Now he is warning visitors to his website that it's not Betsy McGregor that they need to be afraid of: Stéphane Dion is the true enemy of the train. Here's how he's spinning it in one of the articles on his campaign website: *

Deandelmastrotrain_3Other politicians might allow themselves to become frazzled under such circumstances -- a train conspiracy headed by one of the bullies who has made Stephen Harper's life miserable? -- but Dean Del Mastro laughs in the face of the fierce train bandit Stéphane Dion. (Well, actually, he chuckles.) At least that's how the copy reads on his website.)

Heartychuckle_2

It's no laughing matter, however, that Peterborough voters have to work so hard to get straight facts from their MP. There's no Great Peterborough Train conspiracy and it's certainly not being headed up by Stéphane Dion.

Both The Peterborough Examiner and Peterborough This Week have advised Del Mastro to stop obsessing about the train (all the candidates support the train: we get that, they keep telling him), and to move on to more pressing issues in our riding: like massive job losses, an unacceptably high poverty rate, unresolved aboriginal justice issues, an environmental crisis, an economy that's getting worse by the day, and an very arts community that is fed up with his double-speak about the arts cuts, but with just a week to go in the election, he's still out there, picking fights within imaginary train bandits.

Of course, to be fair, there's a good reason why Del Mastro hasn't had much to talk about during this election. His boss hasn't released the official Conservative Party platform yet -- this despite the fact that all the advance polls will be closing in Peterborough Riding in a couple of hours' time. And because Conservative MPs get their knuckles wrapped if they veer from the Harper-approved messages, Del Mastro (quite understandably) hasn't had much to say. The boss hasn't handed him the script yet.

Are you prepared to sign up for another four years of this? Please think carefully before you mark your X at the ballot box.

* Not to be mistaken for Dean Del Mastro's constituency website, which has gone AWOL during the campaign.

Some Simple Truths As Canadians Head to the Polls

Img_6649 Some simple truths, as I see them, as Canadians prepare to head to the polls.

  • We talk about how we want to feel safe and secure -- to have a government that makes sound economic decisions that take the needs of the ordinary citizen into account -- and that won't cause us to lose our bank account savings or our homes.

Simple truth: We need a government with sound economic vision and a willingness to steer clear of the mistakes of the Bush administration.

  • We talk about how important it is to us to stop destroying the planet so that our beautiful country will be able to provide the land and water that our children and grandchildren will need to grown and thrive.

Simple truth: We need a government that is offering Canadian voters a fully-costed visionary plan on tackling the biggest issue of our generation. The Conservative Party of Canada is completely at odds with the kind of action Canadians want to see on the environment. Every other party understands the necessity of making the environment a priority issue.

  • We talk about how industries that are doing the damage to the planet should be the ones to pay to clean it up.

Simple truth: We need an environmental action plan that taxes what we burn, not what we earn. Read this article to find out why David Suzuki thinks a carbon tax is the way to go.

  • We talk about how much our health care system matters to us -- and how important it is to us that every Canadian be able to have access to a family doctor and how chronically underserviced communities and provinces need to have their long-standing shortages in certain health specialties (for example children's mental health services; mental health services in general)?

Simple truth: The progressive parties understand what Canadians mean when they say that our health care system is failing us. It's not all about wait times and better record-keeping. Nor is privatization the answer.

  • We talk about how we want a government that protects the health and safety of Canadians.

Simple truth: Public health and safety should never be compromised; nor should our public health standards be lowered to appease business interests. And yet that's precisely what has happened under the Conservative government. When a respected health authority like the Canadian Medical Association issues a warning like this, it's time for Canadians to take that warning very seriously. Here's what the CMA had to has to say on this issue. (Read the full article in the October 7, 2008, issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, available for download from the cmaj.ca website.)

Government policy errors helped bring about this epidemic. Yet surprisingly, government has taken no remedial steps beyond issuing a food recall. Instead, officials praise the success of our infectious disease surveillance system — as if, with 16 dead [20 as of today], there were cause to celebrate — while food safety standards remain as low as ever.

The listeriosis epidemic is a timely reminder that the Harper government has reversed much of the progress that previous governments made on governing for public health.

....And listeriosis may be the least of it. The same November 2007 Cabinet decision that handed self-inspection to the owners of meat plants did the same for operators of animal feed mills and cut back the avian influenza preparedness program. Yet bad animal feed led to the epidemic of bovinespongiform encephalitis (mad cow disease), and in an influenza pandemic tens of thousands of Canadians may die. Listeriosis pales in comparison. Overall, it would seem that, as a country, Canada is far less prepared now for epidemics than in the past.

- Editorial, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Oct 7, 2008 issue

  • We talk about the importance of protecting our rural heritage while creating safe and healthy urban environments -- cities in which people can walk or bike to work instead of driving their cars.

Simple truth: We need a government that will ensure that the provinces, the cities, and our rural governments are able to create healthier, greener, communities where everyone has the same opportunity to thrive.

  • We talk about how we want a government that looks out for the needs of farmers and that provide Canadians with accurate and reliable information about genetically modified foods, agri-business, and other issues that affect the food that shows up on their dinner table.

Simple truth: The Conservative government defeated a bill designed to provide Canadians with full details about the genetically modified foods (the so-called frankenfoods) that are showing up on our grocery store shelves. We need a progressive government that will put the health and safety of Canadians first and the interests of big business second.

  • We talk about how much we value freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and government transparency, and government accountability -- and how much we want politicians who are accessible, genuine, and trustworthy.

Simple truth: It hasn't even been possible for Canadians to get full disclosure from Stephen Harper during this campaign. Or before the campaign, for that matter. He has conducted carefully staged media events and tried to stay out of the public eye as much as possible. The campaign has been one of the nastiest on record, with the Liberal campaign having to issue almost daily "Reality Checks" to counter the campaign of misinformation being carried out by the Prime Minister and key members of his cabinet. And the U.S. style attack campaign launched against Stephane Dion one month after he became Leader of the Official Opposition -- and that continued for the 21 months leading up to this election -- has taken the art of the political smear campaign to new and unimagined lows. But Harper and his team have learned from the best: they've had campaign coaching assistance from the team that taught George W. Bush how to fight dirty. (Oh yeah: one other thing. Members of the Conservative Party tried to defeat a bill that allows Canadian journalists to protect their sources -- an almost sacred principle of Freedom of the Press. Fortunately, members of the opposition parties rallied to get the bill through. Pretty incredible, don't you think?)

  • We talk about how much we regret the treatment that aboriginal people in this country have received -- and how we want to move forward in ways that take serious action to right those wrongs.

Simple truth: Destroying the Kelowna Accord, as the Harper government did, amounted to breaking a treaty between two nations. And aboriginal people in Canada continue to live with the fallout of historical wrongs that need to be addressed in a meaningful way.   

  • We talk about how much we value being part of a society in which everyone has equal opportunity to succeed -- including new Canadians -- and in which no one is discriminated against.

Simple truth: The Harper Conservatives changed the mandate of Status of Women Canada to eliminate all activities that have to do with "political equality" or advocacy work. You only have to consider the number of women who make it Parliament Hill in this country to see that this cut was ill-informed (and, many say, extremely mean-spirited). The fallout is being felt by women's groups who do valuable work across this country.   

  • We talk about how proud we are of the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- and a justice system that assumes innocence until a person is proven guilty.

Simple truth: The Harper government chopped funding to the Court Challenges Program -- one of the only hopes "the little guy" in this country had of launching a Supreme Court challenge. Some of the key rights and freedoms that we enjoy in this country were defined by Supreme Court challenges. The Liberal Party has promised Canadians it will bring back the Court Challenges Program.

But that's not all. The Harper government embraces a U.S.-style approach to justice -- "lock up young offenders and throw away the key" -- isn't just ineffective (it leads to higher crime rates); it's also at odds with our traditional belief in rehabilitation of troubled youth. Even the judge who prepared the report recommending changes to the Youth Justice Act has spoken out harshly against the Harper government's regressive approach to justice in this country. (He also didn't appreciate having Harper falsely claim that he had endorsed the Harper youth justice program.)

  • We talk about the importance of giving young people the best possible start in life -- how the early years are the most important years: a critical time when we must invest in our children because they are our country's future.

Simple truth: We need a government that is willing to invest in those early years by creating quality childcare spaces operated by not-for-profit operators rather than trying to mislead Canadians with a tax credit that shrinks down to very little once the tax man gets his hand on it.

  • We talk about how much we value our children and our families, including our seniors.

Simple truth: We need a government that will safeguard the health and financial well-being of seniors. Seniors are among the most vulnerable populations in times of epidemics and, as the Canadian Medical Association has warned, Canada is far less prepared for a global epidemic than it was before Stephen Harper came to power, as a result of incredibly ill-advised policy decisions in the area of Public Health.

And then there was the broken promise about income trusts -- a breach of trust that took a huge bite out of the savings of ordinary Canadians -- including seniors. 

  • We talk about how proud we are about being Canadian and having a uniquely Canadian identity.

Simple truth: At the heart of that unique and vibrant Canadian identity is a tradition of investing in the arts and culture sector in this country. The Conservative government has demonstrated that it doesn't value what artists contribute to the Canadian economy and that it would like to play Big Brother when it comes to deciding what types of material make for suitable entertainment for Canadians.

  • We talk about how fortunately we are to live in a country like Canada that is one of the safest countries in the world.

Simple truth: It's difficult to feel safe when there's so much we aren't being told about the safety of our food supply, our preparedness for a global pandemic, and who knows what else. It's the who knows what else that is the scariest part. We need a government that will be frank and open with Canadians and work with all levels of government -- provinces, cities, rural municipalities -- to ensure that no other Canadians are allowed to fall through the safety net that we Canadians both prize and take for granted. We don't want any more public health disasters under the watch of the Conservatives.

  • We talk about how proud we feel when we travel abroad and people from other countries speak glowingly about Canada and its peacekeeping and environmental stewardship record abroad.

Simple truth: Our international reputation has been badly damaged by the actions of this government. We're no longer seen as advocates for peace, justice, and the environment. We don't always step forward when the right thing needs to be done. Instead, we look over our shoulder to find out what the Americans are doing -- and then we adjust our position accordingly. Our independent voice in the world has been silenced and countries around the world are suffering as a result. What has happened to Canada? they ask. Many Canadians are asking themselves the same thing.

And, finally, the simplest truth of all:

If this is what we want and value as Canadians,
we can't afford to vote for Stephen Harper in this election.

When you vote, please vote for the kind of government that will create the Canada you want. And please urge other like-minded Canadians to get to the polls, too.
- Ann Douglas

CBC.ca Summary of Party Platforms

October 04, 2008

People of Peterborough Speak Out: What's On Their Minds as They Prepare to Head to the Polls

People of Peterborough Riding are expressing strong opinions during this election -- many by writing Letters to the Editor of The Peterborough Examiner. Here are a few brief excerpts, just to give you a flavor of the issues being talked about in our riding. If you click on the link at the start of each letter, you can read the full text on The Peterborough Examiner website.

MP Challenge: "MP Dean Del Mastro's comment that no one will "shove (the Little Lake project) down the community's throat" indicates that if a sufficient number of citizens express disapproval the plan will be scrapped. He should show his respect for our community by telling us exactly how he will measure public support for his plan. If he announces a shoreline referendum he will be a champion of democracy."
- John Baker, Peterborough

Del Mastro's claims don't stand up to scrutiny: "While our current member of Parliament is good at quoting numbers, they bear no resemblance to facts. He gave the following incorrect information at the all-candidates debate held by Curve Lake...."  [ Related link ]
- Chadwick Cowie, Hiawatha First Nation

Del Mastro promises misleading: "Dean Del Mastro made several grand promises in the weeks leading up to the election. One of these is to build a grand party palace on the banks of Little Lake, by what appears to be a specially selected developer.....Mr. Del Mastro is tellingly silent on the essentials. All we're really getting in this process is a bunch of inch-high headline promises that are likely not even worth the price of the newsprint they're printed on. Surely Peterborough voters won't be misled by this nonsense?
- Kathy Woodcock, Knox Street

Riding needs a fresh start: "Dean Del Mastro appears to be the most partisan politician in the history of Peterborough riding. He not only squanders our hard-earned tax dollars attacking other politicians...he divides our community by pretending that his opponents oppose his rail plan."
- Helen McCarthy, Peterborough

Tories waging propaganda war: "The campaign for this election began two and a half years ago when Steven Harper took office. The barrage of attack ads that we have seen since goes beyond normal mud-slinging -it is propaganda, a focused program of persuasion and manipulation. The arguments typically appeal to emotions rather than reason. Never in the history of Canada has a standing government made such efforts to minimize their political opponents....Here in Peterborough, Dean Del Mastro has conducted a similar propaganda campaign. On a biweekly basis, Mr. Del Mastro has sent out "the pamphlets." What is interesting about these flyers is that they are little more than name calling with absolutely no details or substantiation. This is a classic propaganda technique. What kind of a representative would conduct such a campaign against his constituents?"
- Alan Buchkowski, Hastings

The art of hypocrisy: "Imagine my surprise on reading Dean Del Mastro's description of this riding: after a brief mention of children playing hockey, he goes on to tout the richness of Peterborough's arts! ... I find Mr. Del Mastro's apparent pride in the local arts scene disturbing. I would ask him to please not use the arts like this, unless he is willing to confront Mr. Harper on his appalling stance. It only makes him look like a hypocrite. And I don't vote for hypocrites."
- Kate Story, Peterborough

Tory message holds: "The funny thing is, when I began looking online for information I didn't see where any cuts have been made, what I found was an increase in government spending....it was the cold hard facts presented to me by MP Dean Del Mastro that spoke the loudest. He explained how hundreds of thousands of dollars had made their way to Peterborough for projects like the Festival of Lights, Peterborough Folk Festival and the major refurbishment to the Market Hall."
- Mike Theobald

[Please note: Link embedded in letter above provides a factual clarification re: the arts funding cuts. It also links to a lengthy discussion on other aspects of Dean Del Mastro's campaign that Mike Theobald initiated in the  comments below that post earlier in the week.]

Arts funding fundamental: "Funding for the arts should be a no brainer. It would appear that it is Mr. Harper who is out of touch with ordinary folks and their cares."
- Dan Murphy, Peterborough

Tories will take us to dark age: "Think twice before you put an "X" beside the name of the local Harper lackie."
- Brian Bird, Peterborough

Portrait's exposure was off: "Unjust characterization of candidates detracts from the real business of elections -making decisions based on facts."
- Marilyn Tudhope, Peterborough

MP silent on pension cutback: "Dean Del Mastro would get my vote and I'd promote him far and wide if he would tell me why my old age security was reduced! But since he hasn't even had the courtesy to return any of my calls regarding this issue, this loss of income for me and likely others, I guess he loses my vote and the vote of friends etc. when I tell them how mean the Conservatives are."
- Lily Rosebush, Peterborough

Too tight to cell tower location: "I write this letter sitting in my garden looking at a cell tower that was brought into our neighbourhood in April of this year. Not only did our MP Dean Del Mastro not respond to our appeals for help, the tower is now sitting on property owned by Mr. Del Mastro's mother, who is getting paid a monthly fee to host the tower. And although Mr. Del Mastro says he has nothing to do with this small piece of property that sits beside the Del Mastro car lot, he likes to park his cube van promoting the Peterborough rail line right beside the tower on this property he says he has nothing to do with. Talk about adding insult to injury....We need the help of our federal MP to get this cell tower removed. We invite all of the candidates to visit our community, hear our story and have a conversation with us on how to move forward on this very serious issue. Mr. Del Mastro's slogan is 'a safer, stronger, better Canada.' Well with the cell tower in my backyard on his mother's property, I know I am not safer. My neighbourhood is surely not stronger and folks, my neighbourhood is definitely not better!
- Jill N. Jones, Ware Street

Train talk is premature: "....we did have a little problem recently in the south end, a cell phone tower on Del Mastro property on Lansdowne Street. We collected probably as many signatures opposing the tower as Mr. Del Mastro got in favour of the mythical railway. But we got no enraged outburst for our petition, not even an acknowledgement that we exist with a tower in our back yards. Mr. Del Mastro, get it down and you get our votes!"
- Pat Power, Ware Street

Better transit solutions than a train: "A Peterborough train would be nice, but the practical and affordable solution for improved transportation between Toronto and Peterborough is to get out a bucket of paint and give our buses a lane that will enable them to get in and out of the Big Smoke without getting stalled in traffic. HOV lanes aren't just greener, they are more financially responsible, because they make more efficient use of the transportation infrastructure we already have."
- Clifford Maynes, Peterborough

Bus is the ticket: "Peterborough wake up. We don't need a MP pushing for the wealthy, we need someone who cares about the less fortunate and those struggling to make ends meet and our seniors. That's who will get my vote."
- Margaret Nold, Peterborough

Harper, Conservatives have abandoned environment: "Less than two years ago, it seemed that Canadians had finally woken up to the reality of climate change and were ready to support tough government action. However, looking at voting intentions in this election, it's clear we have slipped back into complacency.... Stephen Harper is hoping to convince us it can be business as usual and that now is not the time to bring in change. The subliminal message seems to be that the warnings of scientists don't really need to be heeded. The lack of a viable program on the part of the Conservatives is profoundly destructive. It sabotages any claims to environmental leadership that Canada may still have in the world and, on a more personal level, simply destroys hope in the future."
- Drew Monkman, Peterborough

Cost of growth is too great: "It is well past time for this community to recognize that there are and must be limits to growth if we are to survive. "Empty" land is generally either agricultural fields, which we are foolishly allowing to be covered with subdivisions, or wetlands crucial to flood control and waterfowl habitat, or forests, which supply oxygen we need to breathe. Shoreline is particularly critical as the cradle of aquatic life."
- Joan Reeves, Peterborough

Clear discussion of issues needed: "As citizens we must not value low taxes over services we need, especially for our children. We can't skimp on education and health services for them and then put our failures into expensive prisons and rehabs."
- Betty Borg, Gifford Drive

Not so nice guy: "Does a leader have to bully you and lie to you for you to think him a fit leader?"
- Catherine Kaye, Fraserville

Harper's Teflon mystery: "Stephen Harper is Teflon man; nothing sticks to him. Can someone explain why? Experts condemn his policies, but Harper just promises more of the same. First, there is global warming....Second, there is his policy on youth crime....Third, Harper espouses laissez-faire economics at a time when the financial system in the United States is near collapse because of the absence of adequate regulation. Fourth, Harper justifies cuts to arts funding....What am I missing?"- Alan Slavin, Peterborough

Tory path to US: "A vote for the Conservative Party will result in a deterioration of Canada that we have not as yet experienced, similar to where the United States is today."
- George Kerr, Peterborough

Health care on death bed: "If voters search the Fraser Institute website they'll easily find an article titled 'Kill the Canada Health Act.'....Harper's Conservative cabinet is full of former Mike Harris ministers....Get ready to take out a mortgage to pay for major surgery. ....Our tax cutting Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, has taken too much out of the government revenue stream to allow us to weather the gathering economic storm and properly maintain important programs like health care. Voting Conservative will be a grave mistake for all Canadians who care about our universal health care system."
- Scott Cisco, Hastings

Harper claims, Liberals do: "When Mr. Harper came to power Canada had a strong economy, a healthy government surplus, and we were paying down the debt. Now, the surpluses are gone so we can't afford as much debt reduction and the North American economy is a mess. And, lo and behold, the Conservative government has been outspending Paul Martin's Liberals, who Tories love to portray as tax and spend types"
- John Hoffman, Morrow Street

World is in peril and Harper is shovelling quicksand: "This election has a fundamental theme that underlies all of the political rhetoric: individualism versus community values. The difference is huge: the global climate and worldwide poverty demand government intervention if our children's children are to survive. Instead, Stephen Harper's Conservatives ask us to choose lower taxes, appealing to our self-interest. They refuse to include the environmental and social costs of meeting individual needs. The remaining parties -Green, Liberal, NDP -understand that we have to maintain or raise taxes to combat the most serious environmental, economic and social threats ever to face the country."
- Linda Slavin, Peterborough

Non-vote is a vote for winner: "If you don't vote or if you spoil your ballot you have just voted for the party with the highest number of votes, no matter which party wins."
- Len Colp, Bailieboro

Vote with my heart or with my head?: "This is a difficult election. For the first time in my life, I am an undecided voter. I have a Liberal sign on my lawn and an NDP sign and if the Greens call I'll take a Green sign too. I'll draw the line at the blue sign or the Bloc, but that's as far as I can go."
- Margaret Slavin, Lake Street

Vote for a better future: "If you care about the future of the country and our children and grandchildren please vote for a candidate who cares about the environment and the economy, which are closely linked issues."
- Vivian Heinmiller, Peterborough


Related:
Thinking of Voting for Dean Del Mastro? Make Sure You Have All the Facts
Election 2008 Riding Profile - Peterborough: Includes Some Comments from Around the Web
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough Riding) Voted Against....
Letters to the Peterborough Examiner re: Little Lake
Take Down the Cell Tower Citizens' Action Group: Info Gathering Sun. Oct. 5th

ELECTION HOT BUTTON ISSUES
Little Lake | Train | Economy | Environment | Arts and Culture | Crime | Aboriginal Issues |  Children/Families | Women's Issues |  Election Issues | Ethics | Political Campaigns | Peterborough
 

October 03, 2008

The Great Canadian Wish List: What We Say We Want

This list is my attempt to begin to spell out the disconnect behind what Canadians say they want and how they vote. In this post, I create my version of a Great Canadian Wish List -- what Canadians talk about when they describe what's great about their country. In my next post, I'll measure this wish list against what voters are being offered by the Conservative Party of Canada -- the party that called this election seeking a mandate in the form of a majority government.

The Great Canadian Wish List

What do we Canadians talk about when we express our values and talk about what we want for our country?

  • We talk about how we want to feel safe and secure -- to have a government that makes sound economic decisions that take the needs of the ordinary citizen into account -- and that won't cause us to lose our bank account savings or our homes.
  • We talk about how important it is to us to stop destroying the planet so that our beautiful country will be able to provide the land and water that our children and grandchildren will need to grown and thrive.
  • We talk about how industries that are doing the damage to the planet should be the ones to pay to clean it up.
  • We talk about how much our health care system matters to us -- and how important it is to us that every Canadian be able to have access to a family doctor and how chronically underserviced communities and provinces need to have their long-standing shortages in certain health specialties (for example children's mental health services; mental health services in general)?
  • We talk about how we want a government that protects the health and safety of Canadians.
  • We talk about the importance of protecting our rural heritage while creating safe and healthy urban environments -- cities in which people can walk or bike to work instead of driving their cars.
  • We talk about how we want a government that looks out for the needs of farmers and that provide Canadians with accurate and reliable information about genetically modified foods, agri-business, and other issues that affect the food that shows up on their dinner table.
  • We talk about how much we value freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and government transparency, and government accountability -- and how much we want politicians who are accessible, genuine, and trustworthy.
  • We talk about how much we regret the treatment that aboriginal people in this country have received -- and how we want to move forward in ways that take serious action to right those wrongs.
  • We talk about how much we value being part of a society in which everyone has equal opportunity to succeed -- including new Canadians -- and in which no one is discriminated against.
  • We talk about how proud we are of the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- and a justice system that assumes innocence until a person is proven guilty.
  • We talk about the importance of giving young people the best possible start in life -- how the early years are the most important years: a critical time when we must invest in our children because they are our country's future.
  • We talk about how much we value our children and our families, including our seniors.
  • We talk about how proud we are about being Canadian and having a uniquely Canadian identity.
  • We talk about how fortunately we are to live in a country like Canada that is one of the safest countries in the world.
  • We talk about how proud we feel when we travel abroad and people from other countries speak glowingly about Canada and its peacekeeping and environmental stewardship record abroad.

October 01, 2008

Thinking About Voting for Dean Del Mastro?

Before you vote for Dean Del Mastro in Peterborough Riding

Make sure you have all the facts first.

THE FACTS ABOUT THE TRAIN

If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think you have to vote for Dean in order to bring the train to Peterborough, you need to know that the Conservative, Green Liberal, and NDP candidates in our riding ALL strongly support bringing the train to Peterborough. You don't have to vote for Dean Del Mastro to vote for the train.

You also need to know that the train is still a work-in-progress: that it still has to make its way through a process of approvals before it can be considered a done deal. Unfortunately, statements like this one from Dean Del Mastro's campaign literature make it difficult for people to understand that the train is not a done deal yet: "In Budget 2008, Dean celebrated the announcement of funding for the re-establishment of the Peterborough-Toronto Commuter Rail Link, claiming it to be, "The single biggest federal infrastructure investment in Peterborough since John A. MacDonald announced the completion of the Trent Severn Waterway." Dean may have celebrated the funding announcement, but he certainly hasn't been able to celebrate the approval of a train because that hasn't happened yet.

"[Dean Del Mastro's] promise to return Toronto-to-Peterborough passenger rail service is looking more likely to come true, but is open to questions about whether it would be an economic drain. Last week's surprise proposal for a massive hotel-entertainment complex on Parks Canada property on Little Lake is exciting, but a long way from reality."
- Editorial, Peterborough Examiner, September 9, 2008

THE FACTS ABOUT THE ECONOMY

If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think a Conservative government under Stephen Harper will make for a stronger economy, you may want to look at the government's track record in this area. The Harper Government -- with Dean Del Mastro serving as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance -- spent its way through Canadians' $20 million rainy day fund over the past three years -- and now that we're facing a rainy day, the government has nothing left to invest in our economy. Many economists said at the time that a GST cut was the wrong way to go because it didn't stimulate the economy in the same way that a tax cut would have stimulated the economy. (Incidentally, this is why income tax benefits are built into the Liberal government's Green Shift plan -- a program that has been misunderstood by many Canadians.)

Here's something else to consider. As columnist Lawrence Martin reports in today's Globe and Mail, the Federal Conservatives are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the economically disastrous policies of the neo-Conservative Bush administration south of the border -- a case it gets it gets more difficult to make after the politically disastrous speech plagiarism incident.

The Harper government also reversed its position on the income trust issue -- a betrayal of the trust of many ordinary Canadians who paid heavily for this broken promise. Dean Del Mastro repeatedly reversed his position on this issue to support the party line. Where was he when his constituents needed him to speak out on this issue?

THE FACTS ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY

If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that Canada under Stephen Harper will be a safer place, you might be interested in knowing that the Conservative Party of Canada approach to governance emphasizes cost-savings that can sometimes be at the expense of public health. “According to the government’s own spending estimates, released before the listeriosis outbreak started in summer 2008, there would be less money for food inspection over the following three years.” (CBC.ca, September 24, 2008)

And when public health objectives come into conflict with business objectives, Dean Del Mastro follows the party line by siding with big business. During the last session of Parliament, Dean Del Mastro voted against bills that would have provided more information to consumers about genetically modified foods and that would have provided more details warning labels on alcohol. If he wasn't voting in support of public safety and the public good, in whose interest was he voting?

THE FACTS ABOUT CRIME

If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that a revamped justice system under Stephen Harper will mean less crime, you might want to know that overall crime rates are on the decline and that the approach to dealing with youth crime that Stephen Harper and justice minister Rob Nicholson has been heavily criticized by the judge appointed to recommend changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Oddly enough, Stephen Harper had been claiming throughout the campaign that the judge had endorsed the Conservative Party crime platform.

The judge isn't the only leading authority on law, justice, and crime that the Harper government ignored when putting together its tough-on-crime platform. It's US-style approach to justice has been proven ineffective, expensive (we'll need 22 new jails!), and counterproductive. Crime rates actually rise. *

Closer to home, Dean Del Mastro came under heavy fire from constituents back in July as a result of his youth crime mailout. The mailout was described as being fear-mongering, anti-youth, and an unwise use of taxpayers' resources. (See link to Peterborough Examiner in post.)

THE FACTS ABOUT THE LITTLE LAKE PROPOSAL

If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you would like to see some sort of development occur on Little Lake, you might want to consider what you're getting for your vote. For starters, the parcel of land on Little Lake is under the control of Parks Canada. Parks Canada is mandated to protect that land for the protection of future generations. And, as our Member of Parliament, Dean Del Mastro is mandated to pursue the interests of all constituents. To ensure that the interests of all citizens of Peterborough are taken into account, consultations on a public asset as important as this one need to be conducted in an open and accountable manner. Anyone can put together a proposal and circulate it behind closed doors. It takes a true leader to ensure that the proper protocols are observed every step of the way and that even the perception of conflict of interest or impropriety is avoided. A true leader leads by example.

THE FACTS ABOUT THE ARTS FUNDING CUTS

If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you see him as being committed to the arts (his election brochure states that he has made numerous funding announcements with a focus on the Arts and Heritage community -- but his brochure neglects to mention that some of these groups are at risk of losing their funding as a result of his government's far-reaching cuts to the arts and cultural sector -- cuts he was privy to as a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Standing Committee on Finance. Artists, arts volunteers, and arts patrons in our community recently met to discuss those cuts. Get the local response story here. Note: Dean Del Mastro has also been repeating the "we haven't been cutting funding" double-speak that tripped up Stephen Harper with the national media. Oops.

THE FACTS ABOUT ABORIGINAL ISSUES

If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that the Harper government's apology signaled a commitment to aboriginal issues, you might want to consider how he fared during the aboriginal debates at Curve Lake. Some of his comments attracted national attention -- but not in a way that reflected well on our riding: "The Kelowna Accord -- There is no such thing," Dean Del Mastro told the crowd assembled at Curve Lake. That sounds just like a Rona Ambrose quote. (Be patient. She's coming up in a moment.)

THE FACTS ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think he is serious about environmental change, you might want to consider that he served on the original Harper environment committee (the one headed up by Rona Ambrose; a committee that was so out of synch with what Canadians were demanding that there was a national outcry at the time). Unfortunately, all that really came of that outcry was a new committee chair: John Baird.

During the Harper years, Canada stopped being known as an international advocate for environmental change and stated to be known as a country that lets the oil and gas industry and other business interests call the shots. Peterborough Examiner nature columnist Drew Monkman recently wrote a heartfelt Letter to the Editor on this issue. It's definitely worth reading.

OTHER FACTS ABOUT DEAN DEL MASTRO
THAT YOU MAY WISH TO CONSIDER

Dean Del Mastro

* What is it about the mindset of this government that insists on disregarding the best-evidence from experts in their respective fields, whether we're talking law and justice, the environment, or another critically important issue? Is it because leadership is largely vested in one man who takes advice from very few people and who hates to share power -- and who finds it next to impossible to apologize or admit mistakes; and who surrounds himself with "yes men" who refuse to let him know when he's on the wrong track (for sake of their own political careers?)

September 30, 2008

Strategic Voting in Peterborough Riding

Whatever your reason may be for seeking political change -- a desire for change at the Federal level or here in Peterborough Riding -- according to election analysts (see links below), there is only one candidate who has the potential to defeat our Conservative Member of Parliament Dean Del Mastro on election night. That candidate is Betsy McGregor, the federal Liberal Candidate for Peterborough Riding.

Before we go any further, let me state that I think that any of the three progressive candidates running in Peterborough county would make an excellent Member of Parliament: Emily Berrigan (Green Party of Canada), Betsy McGregor (Liberal), or Steve Sharpe (NDP). The problem is that if we split the approximately 65% of the vote that will likely go to the three progressive parties in our riding, Dean Del Mastro will win because he will receive approximately 35% of the vote. It's a dilemma that Canadians across our country are grappling with at the riding level: how to prevent the very non-mainstream minority from holding on to control of our country and carrying out an agenda that is anti-progressive and (many of us would argue) anti-Canadian as well. (Read my reasons for launching this blog in December 2006 and you'll see that I've been deeply concerned about this government, our MP, and Canada for a very long time.) This is where strategic voting comes into play.

Making the decision to vote strategically may be something entirely new to you, particularly if you have a long association with or a passionate commitment to a particular party. (You may want to read tonight's Peterborough Examiner to find out why peace activist and much-loved former physician Joyce Barrett -- a long-time NDP supporter -- has chosen to vote strategically in this election and rally behind Betsy McGregor. "I wept when Dean (Del Mastro) was elected in 2006," she told The Examiner.")

The idea of strategic voting is certainly something alien for me, too. Or it was until I started listening in on the thoughtful discussions of everyday Canadians like you and me and hearing how passionate they were about preventing a Conservative majority government -- and of allowing themselves to dream of a time when we might actually have a progressive government in power in Canada again.

Uniting the left is the only way to begin the process of unseating the Harper government. By going after the Conservatives in those ridings where they are most vulnerable -- in ridings like Peterborough where the race is going to be close -- we have a chance to end up with one more progressive voice on Parliament Hill. That person will not be a voice for any one party. That person will be a voice for all people in our riding who hope for a more progressive future for this riding.

As Liberal Party MP Michael Ignatieff stated earlier this week:

"What separates us from the Conservatives is that we believe you can’t have an efficient economy without a just society.

"A just society — where every citizen is equal; where we succeed together, because we look after each other; where no Canadian goes to the wall when times are tough; where no Canadian has to walk the lonely road of poverty or ill health alone.

"A market economy demands a just and equal society.  You can’t have an efficient economy, without a just and equal society. This is the key idea behind Canadian liberalism [and progressive Canadians in general, I would argue.]

"That’s not Harper’s Canada."

And speaking of inspiring politicians, here's what Elizabeth May had to say on the subject of strategic voting a few days ago:

The Green, Liberal and New Democratic parties should prevent vote-splitting that would favour Conservatives, and carve up electoral ridings according to who has the best chance of winning, May said. "We sit down and say, `Who has the best chance of winning in all these ridings?' What I've been calling for is proportional representation by other means."

Here are some resources you may wish to consult as you begin to consider whether voting strategically is the right move for you. I will continue to add to this list during the days ahead. You may also wish to use the voting tool in the upper-right hand corner of this blog. It tells you which candidate is considered Peterborough Riding's best bet for electing a progressive candidate.

Note: The tool is updated on a continuous basis as polling data changes.

Strategic voting resources and tools:

www.anyonebutharper.ca

www.voteforenvironment.ca

www.departmentofculture.ca

DemocraticSPACE: Strategic Voting Guide

Backgrounder 7: Strategic Voting

September 26, 2008

Democratic Slippage During the Harper Years

This quote from my sidebar keeps dancing around in my head. It won't leave me alone. I think it wants me to showcase it where you can see it, ponder it, and possibly share it with others. So here goes....

Nighttime "Some historian in the future will look at this period of Canadian democratic governance and in sombre tones describe how Canadian society,
somehow, inexplicably, began to deliberately diminish itself.
It did this not, the historian will say,
because it needed to....
It decided, bit by bit, to become less."

- Murray Dobbin, author and journalist writing about
the democratic slippage of the Harper years,
"Deciding to Become Less", TheTyee.ca