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8 posts from November 2009

November 21, 2009

Jane Taber's Column

Dion's wife goes rogue? - The Globe and Mail.

This is the comment I added to Jane Taber's post on The Globe and Mail's website.

Whatever you may have thought of his strengths and weaknesses as a potential Prime Minister, St├ęphane Dion had the courage to present a platform that offered the very solutions that Canada needs -- and the world needs Canada to rally behind, as a responsible global leader: environmental action, sustainable development, and social justice.

The real tragedy here is that Canadians allowed themselves to be distracted from those critically important messages -- that timely vision -- during the election campaign.

The net result is that Canada will soon be heading off to Copenhagen with the reputation of being a nation of climate change obstructionists. The situation could have been so different.

Politicians may try to dodge the gravity of these issues by making the climate change debate about partisan politics, but we, the citizens, have no obligation to follow their lead.

We can set our own agenda for the country and insist that our elected representatives follow that agenda -- or find new representatives who better represent that agenda.

They work for us, after all.


November 18, 2009

A Novel Solution for Dealing With Broken Promises to World's Children

Promise to world's children remains unkept after 20 years - thestar.com.
"If [governments] are not ready to stand up proudly and give voice to the rights of children, then they should put into place reforms that magnify the voices that already exist. The most important would be reforming an electoral system that disenfranchises all those younger than 18 by allowing their parents to cast additional votes for each of their children. Maybe only then when they have to actually look their electorate in the eyes will there be sufficient resolve to make child rights the priority that a commitment made 20 years ago stated it should be."
- Miles Corak, former research coordinator and lead researcher of the 2005 UNICEF Report called Child Poverty in Rich Countries.

Del Mastro Drama: And You Thought Battle of the Blades Was the Show to Watch

I see that Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro is in the headlines once again.

Heck, even people on message boards have been talking about him.

(And you thought Battle of the Blades was the best drama to be had this week.)

Here in Peterborough, the media isn't saying much.

Perhaps Del Mastro has already said everything he wants to say about the bruhaha -- or someone has suggested that he stay incommunicado for the next day or two.

That might not be a bad idea, given that journalists like Aaron Wherry of Maclean's have great memories -- and have been busy digging up examples of Del Mastro behaving badly to help put the incident in context. After all, Del Mastro has earned quite the reputation for lobbing insults at others in the House of Commons. (Apparently, it's better to give than to receive.)

November 14, 2009

Partisan messages OK in Taxpayer-funded mailings: Milliken

Member of Parliament are allowed to publish whatever they want in their mailings to constituents -- at the expense of the taxpayer.

That's what Speaker of the House of Commons Peter Milliken had to say during a visit to Peterborough this week. ("Partisan messages OK in pamphlets: Milliken" - Peterborough Examiner - Ontario, CA.)

"There used to be rules forbidding partisanship on these things but I believe it was before I got on the [board that oversees the House of Commons operating budget] they changed those rules and allowed members to publish whatever they wanted on them," Milliken said yesterday. "So the board has very little control of the content."

This contradicts a statement made just days earlier (Nov. 12) by Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro, who told the Peterborough Examiner that the House of Commons approves the content of every message he sends out: "Every piece that I send is approved by the House of Commons, not by a political party."

Federal Liberal Candidate Betsy McGregor and Federal NDP Candidate Dave Nickle have each been highly critical of Del Mastro's use of taxpayer-funded mailings.

Facts and Figures

The Peterborough Examiner notes that out of the top 100 MP spenders on printing, 82 were Conservatives. In the top 20, 19 were Conservatives with NDP MP Olivia Chow coming in 10th at $78,485.

November 08, 2009

Let's Have a Grownup Conversation About Climate Change: Pembina Institute to Harper Government

Denying Canada's Environmental Truths, (The Toronto Star, November 8, 2009) is another must-read. But be forewarned: you'll feel frustrated as you're reminded, yet again, of how far Canada has strayed from its once-proud record of environmental leadership -- and how far out of synch the Canadian government is with the attitudes of the Canadian public when it comes to taking action on climate change.

Here's a key quote.

"[The Harper government's attitudes towards the environment] runs counter to modern ideas of sustainable development and green growth, which are now part of mainstream business thinking. As countries around the world act to cut emissions, the federal government's approach risks putting Canada at a serious disadvantage in the global race for clean energy jobs....It's clear that Canada can choose to be both green and prosperous. Science and economics both argue that we need stronger climate policies urgently. Now the politicians need to show that they are grown up enough to face the climate challenge."
- Clare Demerse, Associate Director of the Pembina Institute's climate change program.


ParentCentral.ca: Moms Against Climate Change

Toronto Star Editorial: Distorting the Gun Facts

Distorting the gun facts - thestar.com.

"Scrapping the registry is a politically motivated move with no policy rationale."

* * *

"The Mounties say that police consulted the registry some 3.5 million times last year, a huge jump over the year before. And Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair credits registration with helping his force recently uncover a cache of 58 unregistered firearms including a machine gun and submachine gun (both classified as "long guns"), 17 handguns, 35 rifles, four shotguns and thousands of rounds of ammo."

Enough said.

Hey, Big Spenders: Devolin and Del Mastro Rank in Top 25 for Printing Bills

MPs spending more on flyers - Peterborough Examiner - Ontario, CA.

The print version of this story contains additional information that the online version is missing. (It's a bit odd because it's not as if you have to crop online stories to work around space constraints. But whatever.)

Here are the key facts that are missing from the online version of this story, but that residents of Haliburton-Kawartha-Lakes-Brock and Peterborough Ridings should know:
  • Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Barry Devolin (CPC) spent $80,460 on printing in 2008-09 (ranking him eighth among all MPs).
  • Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro (CPC) spent $70,629 (ranking him 18th among all MPs).
It's a good thing the trees used to print these flyers aren't harvested locally or our tourist operators would be none-too-happy.....

November 03, 2009

Dean Del Mastro as the Patron Saint of Political Ad Spending

You would think that before Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro was invited to play the role of the Patron Saint of Political Ad Spending, someone might have posed the obvious question: is he the right man for the job?

Some folks in Peterborough Riding are shaking their heads, thinking about all those CPC-branded hockey pucks that were handed out at the United Way kickoff breakfast back in September -- and the annual Dean Del Mastro hockey tournament that is as much about scoring political points for the Conservative Party of Canada as it is about raising dollars for the United Way.

Raising funds for the United Way is a great idea, of course. But if you're doing it for the right reasons, why not leave the Conservative Party of Canada hockey jerseys in your hockey bag and invite politicians from all parties to get in the game. In this case, the reason is obvious: it's a branding opportunity for the CPC -- and you can't brand properly if there aren't any logos on parade.

And as for Del Mastro's intention to ask Sheila Fraser to investigate the sponsorship scandal? Given that Fraser has already done her job on this file -- her investigations led to the Gomery Commission -- Del Mastro comes across looking like another John Baird: a Harper wind-up toy who will carry out the will of the PM, no matter how foolish or facile.

[BTW -- Don't miss this deliciously snarky lesson in Parliamentary procedure, courtesy of Kady. I'm sure Del Mastro will be taking note of it in future.]