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January 11, 2010

Elizabeth May's Reply to My Letter to The Governor General

Remember the letter I wrote to the Governor General, urging her not to agree to Harper's request to prorogue Parliament? I just received the most inspiring reply from Elizabeth May's office. Here's what the letter says:

Dear Ann,

Thank you for your message regarding the prorogation of parliament. The Prime Minister's latest move proves once again his extreme cynicism and mastery in political calculation. The Green Party of Canada was the first federal party to denounce Harper’s second prorogation in just over a year. This extended vacation for MPs is an affront to democracy.
The move brings government committees to a standstill, particularly preventing investigation into the critical matter of the Afghan detainees.  It delays any bills currently before the house including the government's crime bills. Pressing issues such as the climate crisis and Canada’s economic recovery issues will remain unresolved until March.
What now?  We need to expect the unexpected. We need to kick and scream at this insult to democracy -- because that is what it is.  We need to support each other, efforts by other parties, non-political leadership. Wherever a clear and compelling call for democracy emerges, that voice must be supported.
Join Canadians across Canada on January 23rd rallying against the prorogation of parliament. I am attending the rally in Ottawa on Parliament Hill, but visit the Facebook group to find the rally closest to you.
Harper's move this week is premised on the assumption that enough Canadians simply do not care about democracy or the role of Parliament.   It presumes that Parliament can be shuttered for partisan political reasons.

In the interests of democracy, let's hope this time his cynicism has miscalculated.
Elizabeth May, O.C.
P.S. Please visit the Green Party website to read my latest blogs on the issue.


I should also mention that I also received a lovely note from Betsy McGregor, Liberal Candidate for Peterborough Riding, who was also copied on the letter. She wrote, in part: "Ann - thank you for sending this explicit letter of concern to the office of the Governor General."

And as for the Governor General? I haven't had any acknowledgment of the correspondence from her office. I'll keep you posted on that front.


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Ann, I just happened upon your blog for the first time having Googled Betsy McGregor. I will be checking it regularly from now on, as it sounds like we are kindred spirits; I certainly share those of your views which I have just read. I see in your post about the launch of your blog back in 2006 that you want to speak out and be otherwise active on issues of social and economic justice. Here's a huge one for Canada that wouldn't necessarily be on your radar. At the ongoing WTO Doha Round "negotiations" which have re-geared up since Sept 2009 the Conservative government fully intends to ultimately acquiesce to a new WTO agreement that will lead to the destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) -- without even bothering to consult the 70,000 Prairie wheat and barley farmers whose marketing cooperative it is and who pay for its operation every year!! PM Harper and his Ag Minister Gerry Ritz and most other Conservative MPs detest the CWB (PM Harper campaigned against it constantly when he was head of the NCC), as he and his party colleagues see it completely mistakenly as a "socialist" institution instead of a perfectly legitimate farmers' bargaining association PAID FOR BY THEM! This whole thing, by the way, is not just a regional Prairie issue; it should concern Eastern, BC, and Territory concerned Canadians/businesspeople as well, since the CWB earns hundreds of millions of extra revenue for the Canadian economy every year from the fact that it is the sole authorized marketer of Prairie wheat and barley to the export market. That extra revenue would be gone once the CWB no longer was the "single-desk seller" and very quickly had to go out of business.

To find out more about this, feel free to go to www.cwb.ca.

Equally bad for Canadian farmers and the rest of us as citizens, the Harper Government would also really like to get rid in the WTO negotiations of our system of "supply management" for the production and marketing of dairy, poultry, and eggs. Supply management has been a very effective system of income stabilization for farmers, but again, the Harper Government and a segment of conservative and right-wing farmers detest it as a "socialist" approach to agriculture.

Ironically -- since the Conservatives are always trumpeting that they are "businesspeople" and understand what works best in the "market economy" --simple common business sense completely evades these people when it comes to these two issues; their ideological blinders just won't let them see the world as it ought to be best-organized (and is, for the moment, in the case of the CWB marketing system and supply managment).

Sorry to have gone on so long, but these are absolutely critical issues for the future well-being of our farmers (250,000 of them) and of the country as a whole, and time to oppose what the Harper Government intends to/would like to do at the WTO may now be growing very short. The so-called "progress" of the WTO Doha Round negotiations is such now that the conclusion of an agreement at the WTO may be imminent. Under discussion since Sept is a new draft treaty that, it is quite clear, would lead to the destruction of the CWB. Many of us in Canadian agriculture believe strongly that it's up to those of us who understand these critical Canadian agricultural issues to be sure at this time to repeatedly and forcefully call the Harper Government publicly to account on them in front of the farm community, and thereby try to forestall their selling the interests of Canadian farmers and of Canada down the river. The only guaranteed way of preserving Prairie farmers' single-desk selling of grain and the Canadian marketing-board system (supply management) for marketing dairy, eggs, and poultry would be to defeat the Harper Government before there is a new WTO agreement. But failing that, we can put them on the spot in front of farmers and others in the agriculture sector and make it so hot for them politically here in Canada, especially in the farm community, that they can't afford politically to agree at the WTO either to dismantling the CWB or getting rid of supply management. We might still fail, but at least we will have fought a good and necessary fight for preserving and enhancing our quality of life in Canada. No woman or man can do more!

I received an auto-reply in response to my letter to the GG: "Thank you for writing to the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. We appreciate hearing your views and suggestions. Responses to specific inquiries can be expected within two to three weeks. Please note that many of the e-mails we receive are in the form of comments or opinions and do not receive a reply. Content that is of an offensive or commercial nature will not receive a response."

I sent a letter to her last year via both email and post, and didn't receive a reply then either. But then perhaps they found my suggestion that Stephen Harper was "not a well man" offensive!

Thanks so much, Doreen and Wendy. I'm impressed by the local momentum. Victoria here in Peterborough is going a fabulous job.

Way to go, Ann! I am so proud of you for doing so much to help us all. I am not a political animal, but am certainly outraged at the absolute arrogance shown by our PM. (Of course, I'm outraged at almost everything that he does.) Good luck with the campaign. I have joined the FB group and am hopeful that this grassroots uproar will make a difference. Keep it up and keep us posted.

One woman and her blog at work! Thank you Ann!

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