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A $15 federal minimum wage will not solve inequality – but it could help

Green Party of Canada News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 20:19

I am going to vote for the NDP’s motion on reinstating the federal minimum wage. A federal minimum wage would only apply to federally regulated industries which comprise only a small portion of the workforce. The reaction to this motion has been fairly predictable. Labour supports it and the Canadian Federation for Independent Business opposes it. Both have some good points. 

Here’s the full text of motion:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should reinstate the federal minimum wage and increase it incrementally to $15 per hour over five years.

All the economic evidence in Canada shows that income inequality in Canada is rising steadily. This isn’t partisan data. In 2013, the Conference Board of Canada gave Canada a “C” grade, noting that income inequality in Canada has been increasing over the past 20 years. Earlier this year, Former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, spoke of an unease “backed up by hard data” that the “basic social contract is breaking down” due to the “growing exclusivity of capitalism.” The World Economic Forum, The OECD, the IMF, and countless others are making the same urgent argument. Inequality is destabilizing, damaging to the whole economy, dangerous, and increasing at an unacceptable rate. Not to mention that it’s fundamentally unjust.

Some have criticized this motion to reinstate a federal minimum wage, eventually reaching $15, because it would affect only a few hundred workers (the most recent data we have is from 2008 and shows that only 416 federally regulated workers made minimum wage). Others have, legitimately, countered that all workers are worth protecting. Some hope that it will pressure the provincial governments to raise their minimum wages. As Trish Hennessy wrote, it could “set a new tone for the value of decent work in Canada. Still, providing a fairer wage that is still below any calculations for a living wage to a few hundred workers will not by itself address structural inequality. I support this motion but we can do better. 

We need something more substantial to get out of this mess. The Green Party calls for the implementation of a universal Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI). A GLI would provide the means for every Canadian to avoid poverty. It would save the health care system, the criminal justice system, and a whole raft of other social programs from spending their valuable resources on issues whose root cause is poverty. It could easily be paid for by a modest carbon tax. It would make our economy stronger and our society more just. A GLI paid for by a carbon tax would help to bridge any perceived gap between the fights for social, labour, economic, and environmental justice. It would also help minimize the disproportionate carbon footprint of the wealthy while allowing the less wealthy the freedom to find good work, without being forced to take any job that will employ them. It would hopefully spur real change in the intertwined fights for a livable climate and a just society.

I support this motion but I’d like to see real action on inequality. 

New blog post from @ElizabethMay on why a $15 federal minimum wage will not solve inequality, but could help

MEDIA ADVISORY: Elizabeth May to raise Question of Privilege arguing that Closures on Debate deny MP's the ability to do their Job: Holding the Government to Account

Green Party of Canada News - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 21:38

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, will raise a question of privilege regarding the Government's use of time allocation in Parliamentary debates.

Party Leader Elizabeth May will speak about the unprecedented frequency of debate closure tactics used by Stephen Harper's Conservatives to prevent discussion on issues that could affect Canadians for generations. 

Ms. May will also address how debate closures have disproportionately silenced independent MPs, making it difficult for them to express the concerns of their constituents in Parliament.  

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For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
cell: (613) 614 4916
office: (613) 562 4916 (224)
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

MEDIA ADVISORY: Elizabeth May to raise Question of Privilege arguing that Closures on Debate deny MP's the ability to do their Job: Holding the Government to Account

Elizabeth May: Canada-China Agreement is a Threat to Canada’s Sovereignty

Green Party of Canada News - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 14:16

"At no time since 1867 has the sovereignty of Canada been significantly undermined…" Elizabeth May.

(OTTAWA) – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, denounced Prime Minister Stephen Harper's unprecedented move to ratify the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).  Ratification of the international accord by Cabinet was made without debate or public consultation.

“At no time since 1867 has the sovereignty of Canada been significantly undermined,” stated Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May.  “This deal is one-sided and will never benefit Canadians.  Stephen Harper has now committed this country and future governments to an agreement that has locked us in for a minimum of 31 years - more than a generation.”

When news came of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Hu Jintao of China witnessing the signing of the Canada-China Investment Agreement on September 9th, 2012 in Vladivostok Russia, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has continued to raise the alarm about the threat to Canada's sovereignty.

Details of the agreement were kept secret from the Canadian public and Parliament until September 26th, 2012, when it was quietly made public and tabled in the House of Commons. The treaty was never subjected to study in any committee, other than one hour before the trade committee. 

In a recent article in the Tyee entitled, Harper Gov't 'Conceded to China' under Pressure, associate professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and an expert in investment treaties, Gus Van Harten, was quoted saying that "FIPA is practically a one-way deal in favour of China.”

"Cabinet's signing of the deal behind closed doors, instead of giving Parliament a say, is not just undemocratic, it is also a profound attack on Canada's sovereignty as a nation." added Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer. "The Conservatives have now allowed for Chinese interests to sue in secret tribunals if they don’t like our laws. In effect, Stephen Harper has allowed for a foreign state to rewrite Canadian law in order to protect their interests.”

Andrew Weaver, Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, expressed his concerns, stating, “The consequences of this decision will reverberate down to the provinces. Why did the federal Conservative not consult with the provinces and why has the BC government not been asking the tough questions as to whether this is in the province's interest?

"New Brunswickers want to know why our laws can now be challenged by the Peoples' Republic of China. Where was the premier? Was NB even consulted?" asked NB Green leader David Coon. "This is a deeply disturbing development."

"This agreement is one that Canadians will come to regret for generations,” concluded Elizabeth May.

Backgrounder: What is an Investor-State Agreement? https://www.greenparty.ca/backgrounder/2014-09-12/backgrounder-investor-state-treaties.

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For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
cell: (613) 614 4916
office: (613) 562 4916 (224)
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Elizabeth May: Canada-China Agreement is a Threat to Canada’s Sovereignty

MEDIA ADVISORY: Elizabeth May to join Green Party of New Brunswick Leader David Coon at Rally in Fredericton

Green Party of Canada News - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 13:15

(OTTAWA) September 14, 2014 - Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, will be in Fredericton today to support the Green Party of New Brunswick in the upcoming provincial election.

On Sunday afternoon, Elizabeth May will join David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, at a rally in downtown Fredericton.

 Event Details

Date: Today -Sunday, September 14, 2014

Time: 1:00 – 3:00 PM (Atlantic)

Location: iRock, 339 King Street, Fredericton, NB


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For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
cell: (613) 614 4916
office: (613) 562 4916 (224)
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

MEDIA ADVISORY: Elizabeth May to join Green Party of New Brunswick Leader David Coon at Rally in Fredericton

Harper sell out to China will be locked in – Elizabeth May

Green Party of Canada News - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 16:52

“I call on every Conservative MP to block this sell out..." Elizabeth May

(Ottawa) September 12, 2014 - Ever since September 2012, when news of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Hu Jintao of China witnessing the signing of the Canada-China Investment Agreement in Vladivostok Russia, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has been raising the alarm about the threat to our sovereignty, implicit in any such agreement. 

Tabled in the House of Commons on September 26, 2012, quietly and without any briefings or news release, the treaty was never subjected to study in any committee, other than one hour before the trade committee.  Ratification involves a vote of Cabinet, not Parliament.

The treaty has been in a legal position for ratification since November 2, 2012.  "As the months passed, I became more hopeful that more thoughtful and concerned members of Mr. Harper's own Cabinet were constraining the ratification,” stated Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May.

“The brave actions of the Hupacaseth First Nation in challenging the treaty in court also appeared to be delaying ratification.  That court action is still unresolved.  My fear is that the events of this summer, specifically the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) charging that China had hacked into the National Research Council database, created new pressures to repair the damaged relationship with Beijing in advance of Prime Minister Harper’s visit to China.  Rewarding the Peoples' Republic of China for hacking into our national research database is a double betrayal of our national interests."

Elisabeth May went on to say, “Once ratified, the Canada-China Investment Agreement will bind Canada, including future governments, for a minimum of 31 years.  Unlike NAFTA, with an exit clause of 6 months’ notice, this agreement, also called a FIPA (Foreign Investor Protection Agreement) cannot be exited for the first 15 years.  After 15 years, either country can exit on one year's notice, but any existing investments are further protected for another 15 years.  Despite some claims by other politicians that the treaty could be voided by a future government, that is not the case.”

“The only way to exit the treaty would be through negotiations with China in which the government in Beijing agrees. Unilateral withdrawal would trigger a multi-billion dollar claim by the Peoples Republic of China against Canada, with damages open to collection in one hundred countries around the world.”

"Cabinet's signing of this deal behind closed doors, instead of giving Parliament a say, is not just undemocratic in itself," added Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer. "It is also a profound attack of Canada's sovereignty as a nation, and an erosion of the rights of all Canadians to make democratic decisions about our economy, environment, and energy.  The Conservatives have now allowed for secret tribunals that will work to re-write our laws in order to protect Chinese interests.”

Green Party Elizabeth May concluded by saying, "This agreement will permit state-owned enterprises (SOEs) of the Peoples Republic of China to bring claims for damages against Canada for decisions taken at municipal, provincial or federal levels if those SOEs believe the decisions will harm their profits.” 

“The arbitration process has been shown in countless decisions globally to generally favour the larger economy in the dispute.  No Canadian company has ever won a chapter 11 (investor state) case under NAFTA against the US.  US corporations have won and wrangled multi-million settlements repeatedly from Canada.  I am certain no Canadian company will ever benefit from this agreement.  But Canada will lose -- not once but over and over again.  If ratified this cements our relationship to the Peoples Republic of China as a compliant resource colony. I call on every Conservative MP to block this sell out."

Backgrounder:  https://www.greenparty.ca/backgrounder/2014-09-12/backgrounder-investor-state-treaties

 

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For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
cell: (613) 614 4916
office: (613) 562 4916 (224)
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Harper sell out to China will be locked in – Elizabeth May

Statement from Elizabeth May on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks

Green Party of Canada News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 17:17

OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, issued the following statement to remember and honour those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001: 

"Although it has been 13 years since the world witnessed the horrific attacks in New York that lead to the loss of over 3,000 people, including 26 Canadians - the effects are still being felt today.”

“I condemn all acts of violence and say to those who believe that terrorism is a justifiable way in which to bring about change – you are wrong."

“My heart goes out to the families of the victims who still deal with the pain of losing a loved one because of such a tragic and senseless act.”

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Contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Statement from @ElizabethMay on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks

The People’s Climate March

Green Party of Canada News - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 19:19
Event Date:  21 September 2014 - 11:30am

On September 21, Elizabeth May will join tens of thousands of concerned citizens from around the world in New York City for the People’s Climate March. They will be marching to show the world leaders assembled there for the 2014 UN Climate Summit that our planet cannot wait for more negotiations – we need climate action now.

Date: Sunday, September 21, 2014

Time: 11:30 AM (Eastern)

Location: New York City: The march begins at Columbus Circle, at the southwest corner of Central Park, and finishes on 11th Ave., in the streets between 34th Street and 38th Street

This free event is open to media and the public, for more information please visit The People's Climate March website; for more information on the Green Party's presence at the march, please visit greenparty.ca/climate-march

Join @ElizabethMay at the #PeoplesClimateMarch --

Salt Spring Island Fall Fair

Green Party of Canada News - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 17:56
Event Date:  13 September 2014 - 2:00pm

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, will attend the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair this Saturday afternoon.

Date: Saturday, September 13, 2014

Time: 2:00 – 5:00 PM (Pacific)

Location: The Farmers’ Institute Grounds at 351 Rainbow Road, Salt Spring Island

This free event is open to journalists and the public, for more information please visit the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair website

Green Leader @ElizabethMay to attend Salt Spring Island Fall Fair #SSI #GulfIslands

The price of cheap shrimp

Green Party of Canada News - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 04:00

The readership of Island Tides is, in my experience, among the best informed and most conscientious about our collective and individual ecological footprint of any people on the planet. However, I keep encountering a blind spot. We wouldn’t touch farmed salmon but have very little awareness of the monstrous damage done by shrimp aquaculture.

Vandana Shiva, brilliant scientist and campaigner, once told me that she thought of all the industries that had ever come to India—chemical factories, mining, industrial agriculture—shrimp aquaculture was the worst. In fact, thanks to protests and a court challenge, the Indian Supreme Court banned any expansion of shrimp aquaculture.

It has not met with effective opposition elsewhere. Protesters in Bangladesh and Thailand have been murdered. Korunamoyee Sardar, a heroic Bangladeshi woman who fought the industrial shrimp industry, was beheaded in 1990; her head stuck on a pole to warn others.

To explain the multiple levels of human and ecological devastation caused by the industry, we have to start with the mangrove massacre. We have lost nearly one quarter of the mangrove forests of the planet. Mangroves are remarkable habitat for creatures like the endangered proboscis monkey and even the Bengal tiger. In 2010, a collaborative project, involving numerous UN agencies, produced the World Atlas of Mangroves. Its lead author, scientist Mark Spalding, described the multiple benefits to humanity of this unique ecosystem:

‘Mangrove forests are the ultimate illustration of why humans need nature … The trees provide hard, rot-resistant timber and make some of the best charcoal in the world. The waters all around foster some of the greatest productivity of fish and shellfish in any coastal waters. What’s more, mangrove forests help prevent erosion and mitigate natural hazards from cyclones to tsunamis—these are natural coastal defenses whose importance will only grow as sea level rise becomes a reality around the world.’

We are losing mangrove forests to two major developments—coastal tourism and shrimp aquaculture. The intensive shrimp aquaculture in Thailand has essentially appropriated whole coastlines, with fishpen abutting the next fishpen. With the loss of the mangrove forests, salt water intrusion can also devastate local farms. The deforestation of mangroves undercuts the local fishery. Salt water has also contaminated village water supply, leaving them without potable water. The means people once had to feed themselves, both through agriculture and small scale fishing, is destroyed.

The pens are stocked by stretching fine mesh nets at the mouth of the river. Children are often used for this work, pulling the tiny shrimp fry from the net. The rest of the small fish are by-catch, dead and discarded. Once the fry are in the pond, pesticides and antibiotics are routinely added.

The ponds tend to last between 10 to 15 years, and then are left abandoned—a toxic, salty hole where a forest once thrived. And the industry clears more mangroves to build more ponds. All so that we can have ‘all you can eat’ shrimp specials at restaurants and buy cheap party shrimp rings.

This is what I knew about shrimp aquaculture in the 1990s when Sierra Club of Canada worked with small NGOs from India, Honduras, Bangladesh, Ecuador and Thailand to raise awareness about the threat. We organized speaking tours for activists from the global south to share their stories with Canadians. I used to go to international biodiversity meetings equipped with a small red ink pad and a rubber stamp featuring a shrimp in the centre and the words, ‘Stop the Mangrove Massacre’ ringing the shrimp. Inevitably at the cocktail receptions, farmed shrimp was served. I would distribute the cocktail serviettes I swiped from the tables the night before, stamped with the message. I didn’t think there could be a worse example of human greed and stupidity trampling on the rights of people around the world, destroying critical ecosystems.

And then in June of this year it got worse. An exposé appeared in The Guardian: ‘Globalised slavery: how big supermarkets are selling prawns in supply chain fed by slave labour.’

The shrimps in ponds are being fed with fish meal. The fish meal in the Thai prawn industry is caught in a supply chain that starts with stealing men and selling them to trawler companies. The Guardian exposé is not easy to read. It makes your hair stand on end as the authors, Kate Hodel and Chris Kelly, relate the brutality of the life on the trawlers and the reports of routine murders at sea.

The article quotes Steve Trent of the Environmental Justice Foundation: ‘The supermarkets know this is happening,’ he says. ‘Everyone knows this is happening. From the boat to the shelf, the supermarkets have an opportunity to stop this… They are actively supporting slavery by not acting and, conversely, they could be actively working to get rid of it if they really had the desire.’

We are blessed to have a local and sustainable fishery in spot prawns. Small cold-water shrimp from Newfoundland and Quebec are also good options, especially since new technology has reduced the by-catch. But, please, never again buy Thai shrimp and let your supermarket know why they shouldn’t either.

View The Guardian video: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/video/2014/jun/10/slavery-supermarket-supply-trail-prawns-video.

The price of cheap shrimp

Letter to the Editor: Give Capital Region a Say on Pipeline: August 28, 2014

Green Party of Canada News - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 17:23

To the Editor,

I couldn't agree more with Mayor Fortin that citizens of southern Vancouver Island must have a say, and a definitive say, about the proposal to dramatically increase bitumen-loaded tankers through our waters.  I am also an intervenor in the Kinder-Morgan National Energy Board hearing process.  By reducing the process to largely a paper exercise, by eliminating the opportunity for oral cross-examination, the weakness of Kinder Morgan's evidence may escape public exposure. 

I first appeared before the National Energy Board as counsel in 1980.  It is a quasi-judicial body and cross-examination is an essential element of the process. In fact, only under Harper has the NEB started denying the right of cross-examination.  The fact that Stephen Harper wants the NEB to report quickly is not sufficient justification for eliminating the rights of intervenors.  I have retained respected lawyer Clayton Ruby to represent me to challenge the process if cross-examination is not allowed.

I have worked my way through the 15,000 pages of Kinder Morgan's application.  I believe its length is intended to impress and intimidate. It is long because it is duplicative and contains masses of irrelevant and bogus material.  I have found some amazing bloopers.  They claim that dilbit (the mixture of bitumen and toxic condensate they are shipping) will behave just like crude in the marine environment.  We know crude is a disaster when spilled, but we know from the Enbridge Kalamazoo River spill that dilbit is worse and impossible to clean up. In an appendix, I found the technical report setting out KM's evidence. It was a test conducted in Alberta over a thirteen day period. Contractors for Kinder Morgan  put salt water in tanks and then dumped in dilbit.  Then they stirred and took other action they claimed approximated wind and wave action in the natural environment. The tanks held 26.5 m3 (7,000) gallons.  Additional tests were done in a 1m x1m  x 1m fish tank and in plastic five gallon pails. The five gallon pail and fish tank research went awry, even according to the researchers:

 "Errors occurred in the fish tank, because the spill was installed in a manner that resulted in a large amount of dispersion at the outset, due to air ingestion, and the resulting slick was larger than the ruler and developed an asymmetric form.”

In other words, this so-called research was conducted by a team over 13 days that didn't have a ruler the right size to measure a spill in a five gallon bucket. That is not the only example of shoddy work in the KM application.   Another intervenor spotted that the model KM used to forcast oil spill dispersion, which KM claimed in the report was a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved method, was a draft EPA publication which had failed at peer review.  KM had emoved the word "draft" from its submission. This is tantamount to fraud.

We must not allow the NEB process to be a paper exercise.  We need to be in the room with the right to cross-examine Kinder Morgan.


Elizabeth May, O.C.
Member of Parliament
Saanich-Gulf Islands 

Leader
Green Party of Canada

Letter to the Editor: Give Capital Region a Say on Pipeline: August 28, 2014

Letter to the Editor: Give Capital Region a Say on Pipeline: August 28, 2014

Green Party of Canada News - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 17:21

To the Editor,

I couldn't agree more with Mayor Fortin that citizens of southern Vancouver Island must have a say, and a definitive say, about the proposal to dramatically increase bitumen-loaded tankers through our waters.  I am also an intervenor in the Kinder-Morgan National Energy Board hearing process.  By reducing the process to largely a paper exercise, by eliminating the opportunity for oral cross-examination, the weakness of Kinder Morgan's evidence may escape public exposure. 

I first appeared before the National Energy Board as counsel in 1980.  It is a quasi-judicial body and cross-examination is an essential element of the process. In fact, only under Harper has the NEB started denying the right of cross-examination.  The fact that Stephen Harper wants the NEB to report quickly is not sufficient justification for eliminating the rights of intervenors.  I have retained respected lawyer Clayton Ruby to represent me to challenge the process if cross-examination is not allowed.

I have worked my way through the 15,000 pages of Kinder Morgan's application.  I believe its length is intended to impress and intimidate. It is long because it is duplicative and contains masses of irrelevant and bogus material.  I have found some amazing bloopers.  They claim that dilbit (the mixture of bitumen and toxic condensate they are shipping) will behave just like crude in the marine environment.  We know crude is a disaster when spilled, but we know from the Enbridge Kalamazoo River spill that dilbit is worse and impossible to clean up. In an appendix, I found the technical report setting out KM's evidence. It was a test conducted in Alberta over a thirteen day period. Contractors for Kinder Morgan  put salt water in tanks and then dumped in dilbit.  Then they stirred and took other action they claimed approximated wind and wave action in the natural environment. The tanks held 26.5 m3 (7,000) gallons.  Additional tests were done in a 1m x1m  x 1m fish tank and in plastic five gallon pails. The five gallon pail and fish tank research went awry, even according to the researchers:

 "Errors occurred in the fish tank, because the spill was installed in a manner that resulted in a large amount of dispersion at the outset, due to air ingestion, and the resulting slick was larger than the ruler and developed an asymmetric form.”

In other words, this so-called research was conducted by a team over 13 days that didn't have a ruler the right size to measure a spill in a five gallon bucket. That is not the only example of shoddy work in the KM application.   Another intervenor spotted that the model KM used to forcast oil spill dispersion, which KM claimed in the report was a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved method, was a draft EPA publication which had failed at peer review.  KM had emoved the word "draft" from its submission. This is tantamount to fraud.

We must not allow the NEB process to be a paper exercise.  We need to be in the room with the right to cross-examine Kinder Morgan.


Elizabeth May, O.C.
Member of Parliament
Saanich-Gulf Islands 

Leader
Green Party of Canada

Letter to the Editor: Give Capital Region a Say on Pipeline: August 28, 2014

Elizabeth May to Donate Blood in Support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Green Party of Canada News - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 13:00

OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, issued the following statement in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month:

“Today, there are more than 10,000 children in Canada living with cancer and more than 1,500 new cases are diagnosed annually."

"In support of the GoldRibbon Campaign blood drive, I will donate blood this Tuesday to honour survivors of childhood cancer, to remember children who lost their lives, and to raise awareness towards pediatric cancer research."

"Not long ago, a childhood cancer diagnosis was almost certainly a death sentence but thanks to advances in screening, diagnosis, and treatment, survival rates have increased by almost 50% since the 1960s."

"Canada is a world leader in cancer research, and each day brings us closer to a future where all children diagnosed with cancer can look forward to long and cancer-free lives.  We must continue to support the important work of medical research and to support children and youth who are battling cancer.”

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Contact: 

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Elizabeth May to Donate Blood in Support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Statement from the Green Party of Canada on Labour Day 2014

Green Party of Canada News - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 13:00

OTTAWA – On Labour Day, the Green Party of Canada reminds all Canadians of the achievements of the labour movement in this country and around the world, and the threats to workers’ rights that continue to this day.

“I want to wish all Canadians a safe and happy holiday weekend as we gather with friends and family to celebrate this last weekend of the summer,” stated Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich Gulf Islands.

“Labour Day is an opportunity to reflect on how much the labour movement has accomplished for all Canadians, from workplace safety standards to parental leave,” added Green Party Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North. “This government’s ongoing hostility toward organized labour affects all of us, and it is our shared responsibility to ensure workers’ rights in this country are protected.”

“The Labour Movement has played an important role in creating a more just society for all Canadians," concluded Elizabeth May.

"The Harper Conservatives' heavy-handed back-to-work legislation, the disastrous Union Disclosure Bill, and the out-of-control expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program have made it abundantly clear why we still need a strong labour movement in Canada. That’s why, as Leader of the Green Party, I will work with labour and business to put in place policies that lead to good jobs and a more resilient economy for the benefit of all Canadians.”

 

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Contact: 

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Happy Labour Day from the Green Party of Canada --

Greens support call for inquiry into crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls

Green Party of Canada News - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 17:13

OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, supports the call from Canada’s premiers and Aboriginal leaders for a national inquiry into Canada's crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.  

“The violence faced by Aboriginal women and girls in this country is our shared national disgrace,” said May. “It is not enough to simply say, as Prime Minister Harper has, that Tina Fontaine’s murder was a crime – We must confront the racism, poverty and legacies of colonialism leading up to it. That is why our party has been calling for an inquiry since October 2013. I applaud Canada’s Premiers and Aboriginal leaders for demanding an inquiry so that our country can at last move forward in resolving this crisis.” 

This week, provincial and territorial premiers, along with the leaders of the five national Aboriginal organizations, are meeting in Charlottetown for the 55th annual Council of the Federation Premiers Conference. The Premiers, along with the five national Aboriginal leaders are expected to issue a statement calling on the federal government to begin a public inquiry into the disproportionately high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

"An inquiry is long overdue,” said Green Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North. “We can't keep ignoring the connections between these acts of violence committed against Aboriginal women and girls. We owe it to the victims and their families to use every tool we have to investigate this serious problem and solve it, before even more women are put at risk. The government must act now and open an inquiry." 

“All Canadians must concern themselves with the alarmingly high rates of violence against girls and women – This country needs to be a safe place for all of our daughters,” said Green Party Aboriginal Affairs Critic Lorraine Rekmans. “The murder and disappearance of women is unacceptable in any country. We need an inquiry and an accounting of all agencies that are supposed to be protecting us.”  

An RCMP report issued earlier this year states that there have been 1,181 police-recorded incidents of aboriginal homicides and unresolved missing women investigations over the past 30 years, and aboriginal women are more than seven times as likely as non-aboriginal women to be victims of homicide.

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Contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Greens supports call for #inquiry into crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls #MMIW

Premiers add their voices to Green Party’s call for a national energy strategy

Green Party of Canada News - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 18:20

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada today applauds Premiers Kathleen Wynne of Ontario and Phillipe Couillard of Quebec for joining their call for a national energy strategy.

All of the provincial and territorial premiers, along with the leaders of the five national Aboriginal organizations, are in Charlottetown for the 55th annual Council of the Federation Premiers Conference, and discussion of a national energy strategy is on the agenda.

“Shipping unprocessed oil sands bitumen to foreign refineries is the very opposite of strategic – In fact, it is an economic and an environmental disaster in the making,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “Our party has long advocated for a national energy strategy for taking on the twin challenges of energy security and climate change, and I applaud the Premiers for recognizing that this needs to be a priority for Canada.”

 “My vision is of a national energy strategy that takes an innovative approach to resource extraction,” said Green Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North. “It’s realistic, but serious about tackling climate change. It must include a price on carbon, and the best way to do that is by implementing Carbon Fee and Dividend, which would see every penny returned directly to Canadian citizens.”

Added Hyer: “A national energy strategy is key to ensuring that our non-renewable sources are used sustainably, while at the same time taking climate disruption seriously and shifting us toward renewable sources.”

In addition to implementing a Carbon Fee and Dividend program, the Green Party of Canada supports the creation of a Strategic Petroleum Reserve and a moratorium on the transport of unprocessed bitumen within Canada.

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Contact: 

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Premiers add their voices to Green Party’s call for a national #energy strategy #cdnpoli

Leaders of the Green Party of Nova Scotia and Canada Welcome Provincial Order to Reduce Emissions in Pictou County

Green Party of Canada News - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 14:01

OTTAWA – Brynn Nheiley, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Nova Scotia and Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, welcome the ministerial order issued yesterday by Nova Scotia Environment Minister Randy Delorey to reduce emissions from Pictou County’s Northern Pulp mill.

The legal order outlines the required actions to reduce air quality emissions in order to come into compliance under the Environment Act before May 30, 2015.

“The Green Party of Nova Scotia (GPNS) is focused on working with Nova Scotia communities and this government to find solutions that provide for both a healthy economy and a healthy place to live,” stated GPNS Deputy Leader Brynn Nheiley.  “We congratulate the provincial government for responding to the alarm raised by numerous groups in Pictou County.”

“However, we remain concerned about the almost exclusive focus on air pollution. The GPNS would like to draw attention to the contamination occurring in the waterways surrounding the mill. This contamination impacts health and has devastated the economic potential of the region for other industries such as fisheries.”

The order specifically requires Northern Pulp to:

  • Ensure an electrostatic precipitator is built, installed and commissioned on the recovery boiler by May 30, 2015, to bring the mill's air emissions into compliance;
     
  • Have stack test results submitted directly to the Department of Environment within 30 days of testing (compared to typical 90 days);
     
  • Submit a schedule for installing the new precipitator and provide weekly progress reports in writing;
     
  • Itemize actions to be taken during the September shutdown, and reporting on work done and recommendations made; and,
  • do a second set of stack tests on or before Oct. 31, and have results sent to the Department of Environment within 30 days of completing the tests.

“Thanks to the tireless work of local residents, business owners and activists in Pictou County, the Nova Scotia government is now taking action to protect the health and safety of the community,” added Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands.

“Although we are not certain what enforcement mechanisms will be used to ensure that the mill complies with this order, I am hopeful that Northern Pulp will obey the ministerial order, or face real consequences for polluting the air and water of Pictou County.”

Mounting public pressure in recent months compelled the Nova Scotia government to take action after a recent test found that toxic particulate emissions from the mill’s precipitator were far above permitted levels.

This ministerial order requires Northern Pulp to have a new precipitator in place and operating by May 30, 2015, and introduces more stringent emissions testing and reporting requirements for the mill. 

To view a copy of the order, go to: http://www.novascotia.ca/nse/issues/northern-pulp-boat-harbour.asp


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Contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
cell: (613) 614 4916
office: (613) 562 4916 (224)
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Leaders of the Green Party of Nova Scotia and Canada Welcome Provincial Order to Reduce Emissions in Pictou County

Dumbing down of diplomacy

Green Party of Canada News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 04:00

One can be forgiven for dismissing the appointment of Canada’s new ambassador to the Vatican as a matter of no consequence. But this posting in the midst of a hot summer of global conflict may have been the last straw for the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO). The organization, representing more than 1,500 current and retired diplomats, issued a statement denouncing a decision which went outside the ranks of the professional foreign service to find Canada’s representative to the Holy See. More significantly, it identified this as part of a pattern in recent postings.

Dennis Savoie is described as a prominent member of the Knights of Columbus, a devout Roman Catholic and an anti-abortion activist. His career background was as an executive of New Brunswick Power and executive director of the New Brunswick Society of Nursing Homes. According to the Ottawa Citizen (August 6, 2014, ‘Diplomat union deplores ambassadorial appointment trend’) ‘he once reportedly compared abortion to the deaths in the 9/11 terrorism attacks.’

While saying that the organization will reserve judgment on Mr Savoie’s suitability for the posting, PAFSO president Tim Hodges said that the organization ‘deplores the government’s decision to, once again, nominate a non-diplomat to one of Canada’s ambassadorial positions.’

Canada’s role in the world has been fortified by our Trade Commissioner Service (established in 1894) and the Foreign Service (established in 1926). Together they have facilitated the implementation of domestic policies which could only be achieved through global engagement. Political appointments were not unknown before Stephen Harper. Some previous governments sold off residences and embassies.

Nevertheless, Stephen Harper has shown more disrespect for Canada’s foreign service than any previous prime minister. Naming his most combative front bench pit-bull, John Baird, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, suggests a certain non-diplomatic attitude to the role.

Since Stephen Harper became prime minister, official residences of Canadian diplomats around the world have been sold to help get out of deficit, without any analysis of what it will cost us long-term to lose the places where Canada has historically garnered information, built relationships and exercised diplomacy.

We have also closed and sold off embassies. The trend is particularly noticeable in Africa. Since 2006, Canada has shut down our diplomatic presence in Gabon, Niger, Malawi and the Consulate General in Cape Town, South Africa. Where we once had embassies covering 45% of African nations, we are now only present in 37%. Brazil has more African embassies than Canada.

It is a nightmare for my constituents. The absence of a Canadian immigration office in Nigeria pushes all files to the over-worked, under-resourced embassy in Accra, Ghana. (Any time we have requests that involve the Accra embassy, my whole constituency staff feels heartsick, knowing that office seems incapable of not losing files—over and over again.) The Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya covers Burundi, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, while in Latin America, Canada’s Costa Rican embassy covers Honduras and Nicaragua (although, we have opened seven new offices in Mexico.) Meanwhile, in some countries, we are essentially couch-surfing, working out of UK embassies.

All of this is consistent with the trend towards non-foreign service ambassadors. One of the most shocking was the appointment in 2013 of Harper’s bodyguard as Canada’s Ambassador to Jordan. Bruno Saccomani, career RCMP officer, had been the boss of the 117 officers in charge of Stephen Harper and his family’s personal security. Saccomani was controversial before the appointment due to repeated reports of bullying and sexism towards the officers who reported to him.

Then there’s the January 2014 appointment of Vivian Bercovici as Canada’s Ambassador to Israel. Bercovici, formerly a Toronto lawyer and sometime columnist, has no foreign service background. Even the Times of Israel reported that her tweets ‘could even be argued that they cross over—or at least skirt—the line between diplomacy and advocacy.’

Canada’s former ambassador to Israel, Michael Bell, was less nuanced in his criticism: ‘Strong criticism of Hamas and Hezbollah is warranted, given their penchant for murder, destruction and intimidation. We should have no truck with those within these organizations who dedicate themselves to violence. But to dismiss the Palestinian Authority and the PLO in the same breath, as she has done, stretches reality to the breaking point…. Ms Bercovici will have her hands full, and much to learn, if she wants to move beyond the simplicity of demonization.’ (Globe and Mail, January 13, 2014, ‘Canada’s new Israel ambassador needs to move beyond simplistic demonization’)

Michael Bell may have been disingenuous. Surely he knows what Stephen Harper wants is the simplicity of demonization.

The appointments of a beer executive as counsel general to Los Angeles, Gordon Campbell as High Commissioner to the UK, Gary Doer as Ambassador to the US are all canny, if inadequate, representatives of Canada—par for the course. The muzzling of diplomats, their inability to speak at universities in the countries where they are posted, is only to be expected.

As one of my friends, a retired diplomat, once quipped when John Baird ordered diplomats to ‘beef-up’ in fitness classes, ‘it is the refuge of the bully to tell the nerds to do push-ups’.

Originally printed in the Island Tides Regional Newspaper.

Dumbing down of diplomacy

Leaders of the Green Party of Nova Scotia and Canada issue Joint Statement on the Northern Pulp Mill in Pictou County, Nova Scotia

Green Party of Canada News - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 15:42

“We must work together with our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents as we look for a long-term solution.” Nova Scotia Green Party Deputy Leader, Brynn Nheiley

“The argument that you have to choose between your health and a job is ridiculous…” Green Party of Canada Leader, Elizabeth May

(Ottawa) August 20th, 2014 – Nova Scotia Green Party Deputy Leader, Brynn Nheiley called on the Nova Scotia government to ensure compliance with all air quality and water quality standards at the Northern Pulp Mill in Pictou County and to take immediate steps to ensure the health and safety of residents living nearby. Federal Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May also called on the Federal Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose to conduct an independent epidemiological health study of the rates of cancer and other diseases in Pictou County.

“We are learning more and more that the health risks posed by the Northern Pulp mill are unacceptable,” stated Nova Scotia Green Party Deputy Leader, Brynn Nheiley. “This mill continues to operate under such conditions at the expense of all other industries and businesses in the region.  Immediate steps must be taken to bring this mill into compliance of established health and environmental regulations.”

“In collaboration with the Green Party of Canada, we call on this provincial government to enforce these regulations, designed to protect the health of its citizens, or impose significant penalties.”

“The notion that any community across Nova Scotia must choose between their jobs or their health and the health of their loved ones is false. We must work together with our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents as we look for a long-term solution.”

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, supported the Nova Scotia Green Party’s call to ensure that the Northern mill be brought into compliance with existing environmental regulations, adding, “I am concerned about the ever-increasing health risks posed to those living near the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County. Statements made by mill representatives, I believe, are designed to delay the need for action. This is unacceptable.”

“The argument that you have to choose between your health and a job is ridiculous. We know that other mills in Canada have successfully complied with environmental standards and are now economically viable operations.”

“We are working closely with the Nova Scotia Provincial Green Party and will assist in any way we can to help find a solution for the residents of Pictou County.”

For further information or to arrange interviews, contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications | Directeur des communications
t: 613.562.4916 (224) toll free | sans frais 1.866.868.3447
Green Party of Canada | Parti vert du Canada

 

Leaders of the Green Party of Nova Scotia and Canada issue Joint Statement on the Northern Pulp Mill in Pictou County, Nova Scotia

ELIZABETH MAY REACTS TO TRANSPORT CANADA’S FINAL REPORT ON LAC-MEGANTIC

Green Party of Canada News - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 19:43

"I call for a public inquiry to satisfy Canadians that everything is being done to protect them…” Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May.

(OTTAWA) - Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada issued the following statement regarding the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada release of its final report on the devastating train derailment in Lac-Megantic in 2013.  The tragic events lead to the loss of 47 lives and destroyed a significant portion of the downtown.  Over six million litres of crude oil were discharged into the area.

“I want to first begin by expressing my deepest sympathy to those who lost their loved ones to this terrible and senseless tragedy,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. “My heart goes out to you as you look for a way to cope with this terrible loss.  While nothing can bring them back, I hope we can learn from this to ensure that it never happens again.”

Since 2011, the Green Party has called for a Royal Commission into Railway Safety. 

“With the release of the TSB final report, action must be immediately taken to minimize the risk posed to Canadians as transportation by rail of dangerous goods through our cities and towns continues to grow rapidly,” added Deputy Green party Leader Bruce Hyer.  “The fact that very little has been done to improve rail safety following this tragedy, speaks to this Conservative Government’s belief that government should not play a significant role in safety - if it affects the bottom line of private sector companies.” 

“I call for a public inquiry to satisfy Canadians that everything is being done to protect them,” concluded Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May. “The recommendations brought forward today by the TSB are a first step. However, despite improvements brought in by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt in removing some of the DOT 111 rail cars, much more needs to be done.  We need to bring in a system that can stop or slow a train before certain accidents occur, such as positive train control technology, which is currently being implemented in the U.S.  

“A full public inquiry is needed to demonstrate the weak safety culture that exists in Canada today at the expense of Canadians.”  

(See attached backgrounder on findings from the Report)

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
cell: (613) 614 4916
office: (613) 562 4916 (224)
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

*****************************************

BACKGROUNDER:
Findings as to Causes and Contributing Factors:

MMA-002 was parked unattended on the main line, on a descending grade, with the securement of the train reliant on a locomotive that was not in proper operating condition.

· The 7 hand brakes that were applied to secure the train were insufficient to hold the train without the additional braking force provided by the locomotive’s independent brakes.

· No proper hand brake effectiveness test was conducted to confirm that there was sufficient retarding force to prevent movement, and no additional physical safety defences were in place to prevent the uncontrolled movement of the train.

· Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway did not provide effective training or oversight to ensure that crews understood and complied with rules governing train securement.

· Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s weak safety culture contributed to the continuation of unsafe conditions and unsafe practices, and compromised Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s ability to effectively manage safety.

· Despite being aware of significant operational changes at Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, Transport Canada did not provide adequate regulatory oversight to ensure the associated risks were addressed.

· Transport Canada Quebec Region did not follow up to ensure that recurring safety deficiencies at Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway were effectively analyzed and corrected, and consequently, unsafe practices persisted.

· The limited number and scope of safety management system audits that were conducted by Transport Canada Quebec Region, and the absence of a follow-up procedure to ensure Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s corrective action plans had been implemented, contributed to the systemic weaknesses in Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s safety management system remaining unaddressed.

Findings as to Risk:
· If there are no rules and regulations for single-person train operations, nor a requirement for Transport Canada to approve and monitor railways’ plans, then single-person trains may operate without all of the necessary defences in place.

· If systematic testing is not conducted on representative samples of petroleum crude oil at an appropriate frequency, there is an increased risk that these dangerous goods will be improperly classified.

· If not properly classified and documented, dangerous goods may be moved and handled incorrectly, increasing the risk of injury to people, and of damage to property and the environment.

· Without monitoring and effective enforcement of compliance with applicable classification provisions of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, there is a risk that improperly classified dangerous goods will enter the transportation system.

· If Class 111 tank cars that do not meet enhanced protection standards transport flammable liquids, there is an ongoing risk of product loss and significant damage to persons, property, and the environment when these cars are involved in accidents.

Other Findings:
· It could not be concluded whether single-person train operations contributed to the incorrect securement of the train or to the decision to leave the locomotive running at Nantes, Quebec, despite its abnormal condition.

· The petroleum crude oil being transported by the train was improperly classified; it was assigned packing group III (lowest hazard), despite meeting the criteria for packing group II.

ELIZABETH MAY REACTS TO TRANSPORT CANADA’S FINAL REPORT ON LAC-MEGANTIC

Green Party Voter Support holds Steady: Nanos Research Poll

Green Party of Canada News - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 14:40

(Ottawa) August 15, 2014 - In the latest poll released from Nanos Research, support for the Green Party of Canada continues to remain steady. The Nanos poll released on August 13, 2014 shows that 30% of Canadians would now consider voting for the Green Party.

 “I am very encouraged that 30% of Canadians are now considering voting for the Green Party of Canada,” stated Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands.  “I am particularly satisfied that on average, over a twelve-month period, we have seen an increase in support and donations.”

The latest Nanos Party Power Index also shows that the Conservative Party has slid for fourth weeks in a row.  

The Nanos Party Power Index Tracking for Canada is based on the following public opinion measures: the national ballot, which party individuals would consider voting for, the top two choices for Prime Minister, and whether each party leader has good leadership qualities.  

“Canadians want to see MPs making decisions on behalf of their constituents in their riding, not on behalf of their party,” added Deputy Green Party Leader, Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North. “I believe this is one of the reasons that voters are steadily turning to the Green Party because they know we are the only party that will put their interests first.”

Financial reports released by Elections Canada in August show that the Green Party raised $531,404 in the second quarter of 2014, representing a 67% increase over the same period in 2013.  Conversely, both the Liberals and Conservatives saw their revenues decline relative to the same period in 2013.

“Our fundraising success says to me that more and more Canadians in the next election will choose the Green Party’s politics of collaboration and cooperation instead of confrontation,” concluded Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May.


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For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Julian Morelli
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
cell: (613) 614 4916
office: (613) 562 4916 (224)
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

Green Party Voter Support holds Steady: Nanos Research Poll

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