18 posts categorized "agriculture"

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

September 22, 2008

How Do You Like These Numbers? Proof That You Can Be Progressive and Productive

The new liberal platform is about so much more than dollars and cents. It factors in the needs of everyday people (as opposed to mega-corporations) and it begins to address long-standing issues of poverty and injustice. This is a blueprint for a Canada that can make us all feel proud about our country again. We can feel that unifying sense of shared purpose that comes from pulling together to achieve shared goals: a juster, fairer, and greener Canada.

If you can't decide who to vote for in this election, I'd like to challenge you to vote for hope and change.
Cast your vote in the direction of optimism. Place your faith in someone who has a vision of a better Canada and who was tough enough to stand up against the naysayers for the past two-and-a-half years because he wanted to get to this place: a time when he could cast out his vision, share it with his fellow Canadians, and watch it take root and grow.Hopegraffitti

It's also a practical vision -- one with dollars and cents attached. I'm talking real money that will end up in your pocket (as opposed to disappearing in a non-refundable tax credit that only pays off for a select few).

It's not often that I can feel good about something from both a mom perspective (I have four kids) and a small business perspective (I have my own business), but the new Liberal Party platform has lots to offer Canadian parents and entrepreneurs.

Here's what Liberal leader Stéphane Dion had to say earlier today: "A Liberal government will get the fundamentals of the economy right," said Mr. Dion. "We will build a richer Canada by cutting taxes for all Canadian families and businesses, making them more competitive; we will build a fairer Canada by directing significant tax benefits to families with children, increasing benefits to the disabled, seniors and families struggling to achieve success; and we will build a greener Canada by targeting tax cuts to Canadians and businesses to invest in renewable, energy efficient technologies."

A Liberal government will build a richer Canada by:

  • leaving more in the pockets of Canadians by lowering the lowest- and middle-income tax rates. Lowering income taxes as much as 10 per cent for many Canadians;
  • increasing the competitiveness of Canadian small businesses by lowering the small business tax rate to 10 per cent from 11 per cent. This represents a nine per cent cut in small business taxes;
  • lowering the corporate tax rate to 14 per cent by 2013, making Canada one of the most competitive business jurisdictions in the world, driving the Canadian economy and creating jobs; and
  • investing in the future and simplifying the tax system for post-secondary students providing most students approximately $1000 each year, and extending the $400 per month education tax credit to apprentices. [This sounds great. I have two kids in college and a third who is considering an apprenticeship program.]

A Liberal government will build a fairer Canada by:

  • introducing a new $350 refundable child tax credit that will benefit all families;
  • increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors by $600 a year for low-income seniors even if they don't earn enough to pay taxes, and by $800 a year for low-income senior couples;
  • improving the employment credit for low and middle-income Canadians and putting up to $250 more into their pockets;
  • making the Disability Tax Credit refundable, significantly improving the incomes of disabled Canadians with low incomes;
  • finally indexing the Northern Residents Deduction so the tax benefit addresses the changing costs of Northern Canadians;
  • improving the Working Income Tax Credit for low-income Canadians and help them get over the welfare wall; and
  • creating a new Guaranteed Family Supplement for the poorest families with children, worth $1,225 a year more per family.

A Liberal government will build a greener Canada by:

  • providing up to $10,000 in refundable tax benefits to Canadian families for investments in energy-saving retrofits to their homes. This will improve energy efficiency, contribute to the fight against climate change and save Canadians money;
  • implementing an Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance rates, which will provide new tax benefits to Canadian businesses that invest in green technologies. As the price of fossil fuels rises, this tax benefit will
  • accelerate the investment in the technologies that will improve the competitiveness of Canadian companies; and
  • improving the Science, Research & Experimental Development tax credit, giving tax benefits to Canadians that innovate and build the solutions of the future.


"The Conservatives have not invested in Canadians, have not lowered income taxes or invested in innovation. That is why Canada has had the lowest growth and productivity since 1990," said Dion. "The Liberal Party is the only party that will lower taxes for Canadians in a progressive and effective way. Only a Liberal government will get the fundamentals right and build the economy for all Canadians."

Liberals Unveil Fully Costed Party Platform: Richer, Fairer, Greener: An Action Plan for the 21st Century

Itsawayoflife Here are the details of the Liberal Party Platform,
as released this morning.

I am very excited by this vision for Canada --
a Canada that has been MIA for the better part of three years.

I want my Canada back.

- Ann

"Liberals are proud to continue our tradition of strong economic and fiscal management.Fiscal discipline is now part of the Liberal DNA. We were the party that turned a huge deficit into eight years of surpluses, and we will continue to put fiscal responsibility first. A Liberal government will never put Canada into deficit. Period."
- Liberal leader Stéphane Dion

"Richer, Fairer, Greener," the Liberal Party of Canada's fully-costed, fiscally-responsible platform, lays out a progressive, inclusive vision to make Canada a stronger country for the next generation.

The plan includes a contingency reserve of $3 billion a year to be applied to the debt if it's not used.

The cornerstone of the Liberal platform is the Green Shift plan. This innovative and forward-thinking plan will cut income taxes, put a price on pollution, fight poverty and position Canada to be a leader in the 21st-century global economy.

Download Your Copy of the Full Plan, Including Costs:
Richer, Fairer, Greener : An Action Plan for the 21st Century


The Liberal Platform at a Glance


A Richer Canada


  • A Strong Climate for Growth: Balanced Budgets,
  • Tackling the Infrastructure Deficit in our Cities and Communities,
  • The Advanced Manufacturing Prosperity Fund,
  • Strong Rural and Northern Canada, Investment in Research & Development, Providing Access to Post-Secondary Education, Supporting Canadian Culture

A Greener Canada


  • A Plan to Fight the Climate Change Crisis,
  • Clean Air,
  • Safeguarding our Water,
  • Protecting our Health from Toxic Substances,
  • Protecting Our Natural Heritage,
  • Empowering Canadians

A Fairer Canada


  • The 30-50 Plan,
  • Investing in Our Children,
  • Health Care,
  • Women’s Equality,
  • Immigration:
  • Welcoming New Canadians,
  • EI Changes,
  • A New Relationship with Canada’s First Nations,
  • Inuit and Métis,
  • Minority Language Rights,
  • A Safer Canada,
  • Respectful Federalism

Canada and the World


  • Climate Change and Global Security,
  • Diplomacy:
  • Projecting Canadian Values Abroad,
  • Development:
  • Sharing Canadian Hope and Vision with the World,
  • Stronger Relationships,
  • Trade,
  • Defence,
  • Arctic Sovereignty

July 03, 2008

Boston College's Juliet Schor and Prasannan Parthasarathi on the need for broad-based economic reforms

LandscapeFrom The Boston Globe, April 27, 2008:

"The nation can no longer sustain the same old policies that enrich the energy giants, agribusinesses, and other transnationals who bear a large part of the responsibility for the current mess.

"We need broad-based reforms that cushion higher prices for basic needs by putting more purchasing power into lower-income hands, expand secure access to sustainable food sources, and provide climate-friendly power and transport. That requires egalitarian policies, bottom-up power, and sustainable methods of production.

"The sooner we get on the path to this inevitable transition, the easier, and fairer, the process of adjusting prices will be."

April 24, 2008

Dion Charms the Crowd in Peterborough

GlobalwarmingStéphane Dion thoroughly charmed the crowd in Peterborough this morning. He was warm, personable, and funny in his wonderfully low-key way. He talked about the link between environmental change and human health and did a fabulous job of fielding questions from the crowd on a wide variety of issues: social justice, economic sustainability, the environment, and more specifically the link between poverty and health (both in Canada and abroad), immigration, NAFTA and environmental rights, bio-fuel and other alternative energy sources), job creation in an environmentally sound economy, nuclear energy, rehabilitation of the tar stands, water as a basic human right, and much more.

His passion for making a difference for Canadians came through in everything he said.

I had the last question of the day. I thanked him for standing fast in the face of personal attacks that were unprecedented outside an election period and told him that I thought he was a real class act. (Clearly the majority of the people in the room agreed with what I had to say because there was thunderous applause in response to this statement.) I then asked him what ordinary citizens could do to help spread the word about what he has to offer Canadians, given that his message is all-too-often obscured by the mainstream media.

He didn't say anything negative about the mainstream media (what did I just finish saying about what a class act this gentleman is?), but he commented briefly about what keeps him going. He said (and I'm paraphrasing): "When you're driven by your convictions, you keep going." He then talked about how committed he was to making a difference for Canadians: how he wanted to become Canada's next Prime Minister so he could work for a world in which Canada was a leader in the area of environmental change, social justice, and economic sustainability.

This is a man who is speaking from the heart and who has the intelligence and the determination to be a brilliant Prime Minister. It's no wonder Stephen Harper (also not a stupid man) has been running scared and resorting to bully-style attacks since practically the day Dion became leader of the Liberal Party. After all, you don't invest massive energy and resources trying to take down an unworthy opponent. You save your energy for someone who has the potential to take you down.

Dion was introduced by Federal Liberal candidate Betsy McGregor (Peterborough Riding) and thanked by former MP Peter Adams (also Peterborough Riding).

April 29, 2007

Quote, Unquote

Greenyellowkeyboard"He has a mean streak, a thin-skinned nastiness that he can't even be bothered to conceal. Never before has a prime minister sought to serve as his own hatchetman. Yet, Harper revels in the role."
- Scott Reid -- the communications director for former prime minister Paul Martin -- sharing his theories on why Stephen Harper has become one of Canada's all-time most unpopular Prime Ministers

"The fact is our plan is vastly tougher than any measures introduced by the administration of which the former vice-president was a member."
- federal environment minister John Baird, reacting to Al Gore's heated criticisms of the Harper government's latest green plan; a subtle variation on the usual theme -- "the previous government)"

"For over 70 years [the Canadian Wheat Board] has -- with Ottawa's backing -- withstood American hostility. Now the Harper government is about to do what the U.S. alone has been unable to accomplish; it plans, by order-in council, to strip the Board of its marketing power on barley."
- Harper's Hit on Grain Farmers by Albert Horner and David Orchard - Views - thetyee.ca

January 07, 2007

Liberal "Barn-Raising" in Peterborough

Note: I had to write up this press release for the local media because I'm the Communications Coordinator for Betsy McGregor's campaign, so I thought I'd post it here, too. I think the event went really well. A huge number of people came out. I was serving punch at the start of the event and it was almost impossible to get punch to people because the halls were so crowded. - Ann

Martha Hall Findlay and Betsy McGregor
Wow Local Crowd with Talk of
Passion, Vision, And Party Renewal

Martha Hall Findlay, Liberal Platform Outreach Chair and Betsy McGregor, candidate for the Liberal nomination in Peterborough Riding, delivered an inspiring message of passion, vision, and party renewal to an enthusiastic local crowd in Peterborough Sunday afternoon.
Img_3860_2Hall Findlay congratulated McGregor on her decision to seek the Liberal nomination in Peterborough Riding: "It's terrific that we now have three people running in this riding and that someone of your passion and intellect has decided to run."

She noted that the Liberal Party has been revitalized, coming out of Montreal. "The Liberal Party changed that Saturday in Montreal. We started looking forward — incredibly so."

Describing Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion as "an incredibly thoughtful, incredibly bright, incredibly hardworking man, Hall Findlay noted he is the kind of leader people can really be inspired by: "He has such character, integrity, and passion for this country."

Hall Findlay stressed that it will take work to get Canadians to re-engage in politics. "What I get to do — what we all get to do — is to further that re-engagement with all Canadians." She stressed it's a matter of getting out there and finding out what Canadians want for Canada: "And I don't mean some polling company. That big red bus resonated with people with the sheer fact of being asked what they thought."

McGregor kicked off her remarks to the crowd by talking about what it was like to grow up in a politically involved Peterborough family: how, as a young girl, she came downstairs as a young girl to find the Prime Minister at the time — Lester B. Pearson — standing in her family's living room.

"Oh Mr. Pearson," she declared. "I'm a Liberal!"

"I am, too!" the Prime Minister replied.

"We've moved from
Silent Spring to
snow-less winter."
— Betsy McGregor,
candidate for the
Liberal nomination,
Peterborough Riding

McGregor described the three key reasons why her "heart, intellect, and passion" have called her to run for the Liberal nomination in Peterborough Riding.

1.    The Environment. "Back when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring our hearts stopped beating at the thought of no birds singing in spring," McGregor said. "Now we've moved from Silent Spring to snow-less winter." Peterborough will be by Dion's side when he moves on his environmental agenda, McGregor stressed. "We have the expertise represented by the DNA cluster. We have farmers challenging us to do something about this issue. And we have elegant technologies that can do more. They're poised; we're poised. Together we can move our environmental agenda with credibility."

2.    Healthcare.
"Peterborough Riding has the oldest mean age of any riding in this country, except for Victoria, BC. And I know first-hand how desperate the situation can become when you're trying to find appropriate care that allows you to provide dignity to the parents who provided that care and dignity to you. I'm also hearing from residents in this area how strongly they want action on the recommendations in Senator Kirby's report about mental health. That message needs to be heard, too."

3.    Social Justice.
"There are 1500 homeless people in Peterborough. This is an issue that the people of Peterborough have started to recognize through initiatives such as the sale of a Peterborough board game to raise funds for housing, but local efforts must be tapped into national and international initiatives as well....When Lester B. Pearson spoke, the world listened. He had a vision of a generous and inclusive society — the kind of society that many of us here envision, and that the leaders of the Muslim community who sat here with me yesterday also envision."

Sylvia Sutherland, recently retired mayor of Peterborough, thanked both Hall Findlay and McGregor for their inspiring remarks. She noted that they both share an abundance of passion for "the Country and the issues." She also noted that the Liberal Party is being renewed in "the right way" by attracting "candidates of intelligence, passion, and commitment."

"People like Martha Hall Findlay
are an inspiration
to so many people -- including
so many young people --
and Betsy McGregor is the
most exciting thing to happen
to Peterborough in a
very long time."
— former Peterborough Mayor
Sylvia Sutherland

"People like Martha Hall Findlay are an inspiration to so many people — including so many young people — and Betsy McGregor is the most exciting thing to happen to Peterborough in a very long time," said Sutherland.

Jon K. Grant, former President and CEO of the Quaker Oats Company of Canada, made a similar comment while introducing McGregor: "I'd been away from the Liberal Party for quite some time — until Betsy came along."

Grant recalled how well Peterborough was served under Liberal MPs Hugh Faulkner (1965-1979) and Peter Adams (1993-2006) and noted that Peterborough could expect the same kind of leadership from McGregor: "We have the opportunity to do the same thing again — to put someone in Ottawa who will make a real difference."

One of the members of the crowd of 75 who squeezed into McGregor's childhood home was heard to describe the event as "a barn raiser" — and that was certainly the prevailing sentiment: that a group of people had gathered to build something that hadn't been there before. Just like in Montreal.

Photo: Brian Desbiens, former President of Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough; Martha Hall Findlay, Liberal Platform Outreach Chair; and Betsy McGregor, candidate for the Liberal Nomination in Peterborough Riding.

Update 1/8: The Peterborough Examiner has a brief news item about Martha Hall Finlay's appearance at the New Year's levee hosted by Diane Lloyd -- another candidate for the nomination in Peterborough Riding.  | More about the local nomination process.

December 30, 2006

Betsy McGregor's Kitchen Table Campaign Hits the Peterborough Examiner

Today's Peterborough Examiner has a story about the "meet and greet" I hosted for Betsy McGregor yesterday. (No, it's not that I'm such a society belle that the coffee parties I throw rate coverage in the local newspaper. When the most exciting thing on the "menu" was store-bought cookies? As if!)

The article reported on a recent item in my other blog when I noted that the actions taken by my local MP had turned me -- a lifelong political spectator -- into a passionate participant in the political process.

The article then went on to describe "The Tim Horton's Summit" -- when Betsy and I met for coffee at the Tim Horton's on George Street in Peterborough and spent about two hours talking about the issues that matter most to both of us when it comes to the future of Peterborough and Canada -- and how I subsequently decided to become a member of her campaign team.

The article concluded by summarizing some of Betsy's background and experience -- she first taught at St. Peter's High School, became a veterinarian; worked for two years overseas with the United Nations; then returned to work in the civil service in Ottawa (Industry Canada, Agriculture Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Co-ordinator of the Task Force on Science and Technology for the Prosperity Initiative, Secretariat of the National Biotechnology Advisory Committee, etc.); and how she is working currently as a senior associate researcher at Trent University and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The article didn't state this, but one thing that really impressed me about Betsy is how much experience she has had in representing Canada on the international stage -- experience that would allow her to advocate for Peterborough, should she be successful in obtaining the Liberal nomination for this riding, and should she be successful in winning the next general election.

After receiving the "Head of Canada's Public Service Award" in 1998, Betsy was supported by the Canadian government  as she coordinated a two year International Working Group on Ethics, Science and Public Policy at Harvard Medical School. Just prior to leaving, Betsy designed Canada's Meech Lake Conference on Ethics, Science and Governance with top world leaders in theology, ethics, science, public policy in preparation for the Harvard think tank.

She is also clearly committed to youth leadership. Her training as a well-known motivational speaker on value-centered leadership was obvious from the way she offered encouraging words to two of my teenagers who are considering careers in science and technology. (I think this is pretty instinctive for Betsy. She has been recognized for being among the leading mentors of girls in science in Canada and part of Betsy's work at Trent is in the area of youth leadership in science and ethics. And she has served on youth leadership boards including Shad.ca, Canadian Association of Girls in Science (CAGIS), and as an advisor to Young  Inventors International.)

As you can imagine, I had a lot of information to absorb during that initial meeting at Tim Horton's. It's a good thing we swapped resumes! It didn't take me long at all to decide that Betsy's training and experience are an excellent fit for the unique challenges faced by Peterborough riding.

The Peterborough Strategic Plan (2006-2010) notes that the future of Peterborough in terms of primary target markets for business attraction, startup, retention, and expansion will be found in the following areas:

Food  processing/agri-food (35%): Betsy is a Doctor  of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the Ontario Veterinary College and  has helped to draft policy during her time on staff at Agriculture Canada;  Biotech and Life Sciences/DNA (25%): Betsy  was a member of the Canadian Delegation and government expert team  negotiating the UNESCO Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human  Rights and  served several years as a member of the Joint Centre  of Bioethics, Program for Applied Ethics & Biotechnology, at the University of Toronto. Advanced Manufacturing (20%): Betsy worked at  Industry Canada where her focus was on science and technology  competitiveness, emerging markets, and ethics.
Tourism Infrastructure Development (20%):  Betsy grew up on the Kawartha Lakes and understands its importance as a  tourist destination. She is committed to fostering the tourist industry while protecting the natural environment.

Reporter Brendan Wedley did a great job with the story. I only wish the entire story was available  online so that you could read the entire piece. (The headline and the snippet that are available online don't do the story justice.)

BTW -- If you  didn't make it to my "meet and greet" (perhaps because you guessed that I'd  be serving store bought cookies or you'd heard rumors about the clutter Chez  Douglas), but you'd like to meet Betsy in a relaxed, informal setting, she's  going to be hosting "meet and greets" this Sunday afternoon (December 31st) and every Sunday throughout the month of January at 549 Homewood Avenue.  Bring your ideas, questions, and concerns about the future of Peterborough Riding.