Green Party of Canada News
OTTAWA - International Women’s Day is a reminder to celebrate the great achievements that society has made in recognizing the equality of women. “Canadian girls have many more role models and they have many more opportunities in every aspect of life. They also have the right to be involved in politics. This is worthy of celebration,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “But there is still a long road ahead. International Women’s Day is also a day to recognize that we have to continue the work for gender equality.”
Within the past three years, we have seen a huge change in the Canadian political landscape. Following historic gains in the 2011 election, furthered by the recent by-elections, have resulted in an all-time high percentage of 25% of women elected to Parliament. More Canadians than ever are now governed by premiers who are women as four provinces have women at their helm.
As the only woman leader of a parliamentary party, Elizabeth May insists on Canada continuing to work toward increasing the representation of women in Parliament, but warns about their stereotyping:
“Women represent over half of the population of Canada, yet only 25 percent of Parliamentarians are women,” she said. “Adding to that, when women are elected there is still stereotyping of their roles and abilities, media imbalances in their treatment, and a rampant sexist perception of their conduct and behaviour.”
Sexism made the news recently in Ottawa. University of Ottawa Chancellor and former Governor General Michaëlle Jean and University of Ottawa President Allan Rock held a press conference on Thursday to announce the establishment of a task force to look at how to combat sexist behaviour and violence against women. The announcement came in the wake of a scandal involving a less than appropriate chat by students and a sex assault probe of the school’s men’s hockey team.#march8 #WomensDay #IWD
OTTAWA – The Green Party is not surprised with the decision released yesterday, by the National Energy Board (NEB), to approve, with conditions, the Enbridge Pipelines application for the Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project.
Enbridge obtained approval for the Line 9B reversal of a 639 kilometer section between North Westover (Ontario) and Montreal (Quebec). Enbridge can also go forward with increasing Line 9 overall capacity from 240,000 to 300,000 barrels per day from Sarnia to Montreal. The new revised Line Rules and Regulations Tariff will also allow transportation of so-called "dilbit." Since unprocessed bitumen is a solid and cannot flow in pipelines, it is proposed that the bitumen will be mixed with another fossil fuel product called "diluent."
“The Green Party continues to oppose any and all pipelines conveying unprocessed bitumen, mixed with imported toxic diluent, to ports for export. We do not believe the Energy East pipeline or the Line 9 reversal are really about getting Alberta product to Eastern Canadians, but to tankers, this time on the east coast. Should there be a leak, bitumen and diluents have proven impossible to clean up. Canada's energy security can only be enhanced if the bitumen is upgraded to synthetic crude and processed in refineries closer to the resources." said Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and leader of the Green Party of Canada.
“Enbridge’s Line 9 is 38-years-old, and it simply doesn’t measure up to our environmental standards. There have been at least 35 spills associated with the pipeline, and some of these haven’t even been reported to the communities they affect. We need proposals to refine our oil here at home with a view to national energy security, but the Canadian economy won’t reap the benefits unless we can be sure that there are adequate safeguards in place to protect against damaging oil spills,” said Bruce Hyer, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Superior North and Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada.
cell: (613) 614-4916
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is calling for greater public and parliamentary scrutiny of a recently announced tax agreement between Canada and the United States, stating that it threatens the rights of Canadians and may even violate the Constitution.
On February 5th, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the United States and Canada had signed an intergovernmental agreement to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). This U.S. law requires all foreign financial institutions to report the personal financial information of ‘U.S. persons’ living abroad to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“Although it contains certain exemptions, the agreement negotiated by Minister Flaherty fails to address the most significant threats that FATCA poses to Canadian privacy and human rights,” said Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada. “This agreement also ignores the fact that Canada already has a robust information-sharing regime with the United States, and that Canada stands to gain virtually nothing from it.”
Under FATCA, Canadian banks will be required to search all Canadian financial accounts for the account records of U.S. persons and to report the findings to the Canada Revenue Agency, who will then provide the information to the IRS. In addition to being a significant privacy concern, this would likely be a violation of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which forbids discrimination based on “national or ethnic origin.”
Minister Flaherty and U.S. officials have set a March 10 deadline for public comments on the agreement, after which point the government will bring forward legislation to bring FATCA into effect. Said May: “This deadline should be extended to provide greater opportunities for the public to offer comments on the proposal – There is no reason why public input needs to be rushed on this issue.”
In Question Period Monday, May challenged the constitutionality of the provisions, as they violate s 15 of the Charter, the section that guarantees that all Canadians are equal under our laws. She cited the advice of distinguished Constitutional law professor, Peter Hogg, former Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School who has advised the Conservative administration that the FATCA is not likely to survive a Charter Challenge.
There are an estimated 1 million Canadians with U.S. citizenship or legal status who will be directly affected by this legislation; hundreds of thousands of their family members, employers, and business partners are likely to be affected as well.
(613) 562-4916 ext. 222
OTTAWA – Today, Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, asked for unanimous consent on a motion to invite the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the House of Commons.
During the height of the Senate-PMO scandal, the Conservative led Senate passed a motion to have the Auditor General perform a comprehensive audit on all Senators. Some Senators, notably Senator Percy Downe in a letter to all Party leaders, are asking Members of the House of Commons to join the Senate in its effort to increase transparency.
With this motion, May's intention is not to question the integrity of any MPs, but to simply ask that the House hold itself to the same standard they are asking of the Senate
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, stated, “I don’t question the integrity of any of my colleagues, but I believe in a simple principle. We, as Members of the House of Commons, must hold ourselves to the same level of transparency as that we expect from the Senate. That is why, I asked my colleagues in the House to support the following motion ” :
That this House acknowledge that the value of Canada’s democratic institutions to the life of the country cannot be reduced to “value for tax-dollars” or “return on investment” recognize that Canadians expect responsibility, transparency, and accountability from their elected representatives and institutions of government; and therefore, invite the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of House of Commons’ expenses, including Members of Parliament, in addition to the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministers of Cabinet.
cell: (613) 614-4916
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is concerned that Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, which was debated for the first time on Monday, will actually restrict farmer’s ability to grow crops in Canada.
By forcing a stricter regime of intellectual property into the growing process in the form of Plant Breeders’ Rights, this bill will restrict the ability of farmers to engage in the age-old practices of saving, storing, cleaning, and treating their own seed.
“At a time when farmers are struggling, what this bill gives with the right hand is only a small piece of what it takes away with the left. It installs a very limited farmer’s privilege to store one year’s worth of seed only after taking away the currently implicit farmer’s privilege to store as much seed as they see fit,” explained Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands.
In place of farmers’ rights to clean, store, and treat their own seed in the way they know works best for their land, this bill trades away these rights in favor of yet new rights for some of the world’s most profitable corporations.
“Once the seed companies can control the seed supply by charging royalties they will then have less incentives to invest in new research. Rather than enticing the farmers to buy new and better varieties, the seed companies will be able to extract their profit from farmer’s pocket every year with no new investment, ” added Kate Storey, Green Party Critic on Agriculture.
Rather than further tipping the scales in favor of agribusiness, a genuine Agricultural Growth Act should grow our agricultural system by giving farmers the support and tools they need to grow, ensuring a vibrant agricultural sector and healthy, sustainable, affordable food for Canadians.
cell: (613) 614-4916
Bill C-442, the National Lyme Disease Strategy Act, up for its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons
OTTAWA – Today, Elizabeth May's Private Members' Bill C-442, the National Lyme Disease Strategy Act, is up for its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons. Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, will be leading off the debate in support of this important piece of legislation.
This non-partisan bill received its First Reading in June 2012. This Second Reading debate will lead to a Second Reading vote, most likely in April.
At First Reading, the bill was seconded by Kirsty Duncan, Liberal MP from Etobicoke North. Today at Second Reading, it is seconded by Conservative MP Terence Young of Oakville, who also sits on the Health Committee. The Official Opposition, the NDP, has also committed to support the bill.
"I am very encouraged and grateful for the dozens of members of the House who have approached me and committed to vote for my private member's bill to address Lyme disease. I am particularly indebted to The Hon. Rona Ambrose for her support. We have agreed that once the bill gets through Second Reading and into committee, a few amendments will be helpful. We will be speaking of a "federal framework" from here on; one that promotes the sharing of best practices from across Canada."
Bill C-442 has already received letters of support from the medical community, including endorsements from the Canadian Medical Association and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, President of the Canadian Medical Association stated in his letter: "The Canadian Medical Association supports the implementation of a national strategy to address the breadth of public health and medical issues surrounding the spread of Lyme disease in Canada. As with any new infectious disease threat, Canada needs to ensure we are prepared to address the impact of Lyme disease on its citizens."
cell: (613) 614-4916
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada joins the BC Green Party in welcoming today’s announcement from Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq that the New Prosperity mine development proposal has been rejected.
This controversial proposal from Taseko Mines Ltd. for for an open-pit gold-copper mine at Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) in the central BC interior follows an almost identical development proposal that was rejected by then-Minister of Environment Jim Prentice in 2010.
“This is an important decision for British Columbians, critical for the integrity of the environmental assessment process and a victory for the Tsilhqot’in and Secwepemc people who have opposed the mining proposals for more than two decades,” said Adam Olsen, Leader of the BC Green Party. “Environmental issues aside, the BC government’s continued support for the New Prosperity mine is an affront to the commitment they have made to build real and lasting relationships with First Nations in British Columbia.”
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands also expressed support for the Environment Minister’s decision.
"Canadians need to know that this project received a proper and thorough environmental review, thanks to the fact that even the second review remained under the rules of the original environmental assessment act,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands. “I shudder to think what would have happened if this disastrous project had been initiated under the gutted shell of environmental assessment we now have in the wake of the 2012 omnibus budget wrecking ball."
In announcing her decision to reject Taseko Mine’s revised proposal today, Minister Aglukkaq acknowledged that if it were built, the mine would cause “significant adverse environmental effects that could not be mitigated,” a conclusion supported by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) October 2013 Report of the Federal Review Panel: New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine Project.
The CEAA report, the result of months of public hearings and consultation with Aboriginal groups, scientists and industry experts, concluded that the New Prosperity Project would have significant detrimental effects on “water quality in Fish Lake, on fish and fish habitat, on current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by certain Aboriginal groups, and on their cultural heritage.”
Green Party of Canada
(613) 562 4916
Green Party of BC
(250) 889 7678
HALIFAX – Bruce Hyer, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Superior North and Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada will be embarking on a rail trip from Halifax to Montreal this Sunday, in order to push for a national transportation strategy and to raise awareness of funding cuts which could mean the end of passenger rail in the Maritimes as early as this summer.
Hyer will begin his Save Maritime Rail tour with a rally at the Halifax Train Station at 10:00 AM on Sunday morning. The tour will include stops in Truro and Amherst, Nova Scotia, as well as Sackville, Moncton, Miramichi, Bathurst, and Campbellton, New Brunswick.
With CN Rail abandoning a 71-km stretch of track between Bathurst and Miramichi, New Brunswick that is shared jointly with VIA Rail, passenger rail service in the Maritimes will likely come to an end this July.
"Since Confederation, our coast-to-coast rail network has served to unite our country and streamline our economy,” said Hyer. “But today, we're facing the cancellation of passenger rail service in places like the Maritimes, we have too many tragic accidents and freight derailments, especially with dangerous DOT-111 rail cars shipping bitumen, and we have a government that puts oil company profits above the public interest.”
A long-time rail transportation advocate, Hyer has also worked extensively to restore passenger rail service along Lake Superior’s north shore, in his home riding of Thunder Bay–Superior North.
“Right now, we are the only OECD country without a national transportation strategy,” said Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada.“It’s time for this government to show some leadership and work to improve rail infrastructure and safety standards.”
Truro, NS 12:31
Amherst, NS 14:08
Sackville, NB 14:25
Moncton, NB 15:17
Miramichi, NB 18:08
Bathurst, NB 19:59
Campbellton, NB 21:49
As stop times are dependant on VIA train schedule (and many stops are short), media are invited to book interviews beforehand.
For more information, contact:
Marlene Wells Nicholas Gall
Maritimes Organizer, Communications Officer,
Green Party of Canada Green Party of Canada
(902) 921 4404 (613) 562 4916 ext. 222
Bruce Hyer, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Superior North and Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada, will be speaking on Climate Change and Reducing GHGs at a public event this Friday evening as part of Green Week at the University of King’s College.
The discussion will be followed by a reception. All are welcome to attend.Date: Friday, February 28, 2014 Time: 6:30 P.M.
Location: Archibald Room, New Academic Building, University of King’s College, 6350 Coburg Rd., Halifax, NS
For more information, see the event Facebook page.Public Talk on #climatechange with MP @BruceHyer for @UKing's Green Week
Clean technologies can pave a path to innovation and sustainable economic growth. The global clean-tech industry has huge economic potential for Canada. Clean energy technology is efficient and diversifies energy sources. It also reduces negative environmental impacts, especially by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Worldwide, the clean technology economy is worth $1-trillion, and is expected to grow to $3-trillion by 2020. Canada currently captures only one per cent of the global clean-tech market. The 2010 report by the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment (NRTEE) ranks Canada sixth in the G8 for clean energy performance, and eleventh in the G20.
“The future is low carbon,” the NRTEE stated 2012, but Canada is a laggard in the emerging low-carbon economy. Sustainable Prosperity reports that instead of anticipating and preparing for the inevitable energy future, Canada is sitting on its hands, and we will be forced into changes for which we are ill prepared. “Lost market opportunities, strategic disadvantages … and higher costs of mitigating climate change,” will result, according to the Mowat Centre.
Canada could become a world leader, increasing our clean-tech market share six-fold to $60-billion by 2020. Once one of the world’s top energy research and development funders, today Canada’s funding is short term and poorly coordinated. Clean-tech innovators have to compete with large artificial advantages of fossil fuel companies. While costs of their greenhouse gas emissions are huge, those costs are not on their balance sheets. The Conservatives promised to do away with oil and gas subsidies, but they continue to give them an incredible $1.3-billion in unjustifiable tax breaks.
The Pembina Institute’s “Competing in Clean Energy: Capitalizing on Canadian Innovation in a $3 Trillion Economy” points to three necessary policy changes:
Targeted clean energy support
Fossil fuel companies have a subsidized advantage over clean-tech entrepreneurs. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), the arms-length agency that has supported Canada’s clean-tech industry, has allocated $560-million to 226 clean-tech projects since its establishment in 2001. The Mowat Centre and the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources have praised their work. In 2013, the SDTC funding rate was cut by 60 per cent. To support clean-tech innovation, we must at the very least restore the $100-million in annual funding to the SDTC. It’s a tiny price to pay for energy innovation, especially when compared with the $1.3-billion oil and gas subsidies.
National energy strategy
Canada is the only major industrialized country with no national energy strategy, just patchwork provincial and federal regulations. Unbelievable, when so much of our economy depends on natural resources and energy production. A national energy strategy should support clean-tech and show leadership in developing a clean energy economy. It might also allow us to put Canadian energy first, and use our strategic energy resources to meet domestic energy needs before we further increase exports.
Pricing carbon is the most crucial step to support fledgling clean-tech industries. Carbon Fee & Dividend is a simple, transparent, revenue-neutral carbon pricing system that would be easy and inexpensive to administer. Under Fee & Dividend, polluters will pay for their carbon emission equivalents only at the source, and the revenue generated from these payments will be paid directly to consumers on a per capita basis. Fee & Dividend will use the marketplace to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, guide Canada toward a transition to sustainable energy, while benefitting Canadian consumers.
These recommendations merge conservation and economics. Future governments must take clear action to support Canada’s clean-tech industry. Canada will become a world energy leader only when we proactively support clean-tech innovation.
Green Party MP Bruce Hyer represents Thunder Bay-Superior North, Ont.
The title might suggest I am about to point out you’ll never find him at the Saturday Farmer’s Market on Salt Spring Island or the Galiano Island Literary Festival, where I happen to be at the moment. But this blog is not intended to be the event equivalent of Yann Martel’s reading list for the PM, sub-titled “books we don’t think he will ever read.”
No, I have been meaning to share for some time the number of places where every previous Prime Minister would be routinely spotted, but where a sighting of Stephen Harper would be as rare as seeing a pterodactyl soar over the Peace Tower.
There are a lot of traditional Prime Ministerial places and events where Stephen Harper is a “no show.”
His choice, of course. There was a shock the first year he didn’t show for some of the bigger traditions, but everyone around Ottawa has gotten used to the fact that all his events are ones he can completely control, that it no longer even merits a mention that he is MIA. Still, for some reason I cannot quite fathom, I remain interested in these departures from tradition.
So here’s a short list of places you will never find Stephen Harper:
- The Annual Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner. It was always de regueur for the Prime Minister to attend. It used to be an off the record bun fest (literally, as bread rolls were known to pelt down on the pompous). Stephen Harper has never attended.
- The Governor General’s Award for the Performing Arts. Laureen takes care of this one, and many others related to the arts. I used to love attending, but discovered it is sponsored by Enbridge, so I do not attend any more either. (By the way, it is very hard to avoid Enbridge-sponsored events, although I don’t think the sponsorship contributes to Stephen Harper staying away. The Famous Five events for women in politics are also branded by Enbridge. So too the hot chocolate served on Parliament Hill for the annual Christmas Tree lighting. I live in fear of the day that The House of Commons is “brought to you by Enbridge”).
- The Annual National Prayer Breakfast. This one may surprise some folks. It was always the case that the Prime Minister attended, just as the US President has for 62 years sponsored the Washington DC equivalent. Premiers always attend the provincial annual prayer breakfasts. With about 1,000 attendees, all parties are represented at the Ottawa one, and the Conservatives usually by Jason Kenney. Not Stephen Harper.
- The Members’ Entrance to Centre Block. All previous PMs have come in the front door of the west side of Centre Block. Some used to walk to it from their office across the street. The door is only for Members of Parliament and their staff. No media, no visitors, and now, no Prime Minister. When he comes to the House, he arrives with a cavalcade of security vehicles. There’s the 2 RCMP vehicles (sedans with lots of men with wiggly wires to their ears), and then in between, there are three big black SUVs – just like Obama’s. Twice I’ve managed to sneak a peek through a window to see soldiers in one of the vans, in full-on assault readiness. Helmets, rifles, the works. The Hill security team actually stops other traffic (like the little green shuttle buses for MPs and staff) so the cavalcade can roll up to the front door without the remote chance of other government vehicles (going 20 km an hour) somehow interfering with the PM’s motorcade. The vehicles roll up to the front door and then roll right by it so the PM can enter through the back door service entrance.
- The big marble staircase next to the Chamber, where, traditionally, television cameras would film the PM going up (or down), occasionally stopping at a nice mid-point to proclaim something, or make a jocular comment. Stephen Harper goes the back-way.
- The elevators inside Parliament Hill. Well, you might wonder, if he doesn’t take the stairs he must take the elevator. Quite right, it’s just that no one will run into him on the elevator because he insists on no other people beyond his security bubble travelling with him. Guards prevent mere mortals, such as other Members of Parliament, having access to the elevators when it is “off service for the Prime Minister.” I have to say I discovered this to my chagrin while waiting for a hip replacement and having a lot of pain on stairs.
- The National Press Theatre. Other prime ministers used to use the press theatre for press conferences. It has a great set up for media and a journalist from the press gallery acts as MC and chooses the order of the questioners. We know Stephen Harper didn’t like that feature. He basically does not have press conferences in Ottawa. He hardly holds any anywhere. And, if he does, they are tightly run and generally not on Parliament Hill.
- Add to this all those casual events and places within Centre Block where I used to run into Mulroney, Chretien or Martin. Receptions, the Parliamentary Dining room, the hallways…
So, to sum it up, the only chance I get to speak with the PM is when he has to shed the security bubble and come into the chamber to take his seat. I have had some good (brief) chats in the seven minutes available between when he walks to his desk at 2:07 and when Question Period starts at 2:15. It is almost a safe zone for him. No reporters and no other MPs bearing gifts, letters, treatises or birthday cards as I do. I like to give him one small element of unpredictability in his universe.Places you will never find Stephen Harper…
OTTAWA – Today, the Green Party of Canada would like to raise awareness to the United Nations World Day of Social Justice, observed on February 20th since 2007.
The key to social justice, one of the Greens six fundamental principles, is the equitable distribution of social and natural resources, both locally and globally. Basic human needs should be met, and full opportunities for personal and social development provided for all citizens.
"When it comes to accountability on social justice, Canada can do much better. Social justice and poverty elimination are about building and supporting healthy communities and a sustainable economy,” said Rebecca Harrison, Green Party Critic on Poverty Elimination.
Cell: (613) 614-4916
#WorldDaySocialJustice #poverty #FondamentalRights
OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada Leader and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, welcomed Wednesday’s announcement made by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt regarding the increase of funding for marine pollution surveillance, but questioned how it would help deal with oil spills.
"We may now be able to spot oil spills from the air, but we have no capacity to respond. The six regional offices of the Environment Canada Environmental Emergencies Programme, once located on our coasts, was shut down in 2012 and replaced with a 1-800 number ringing in Quebec. We have no capacity to clean up a spill, especially not a spill of diluted bitumen, for which there is little research to understand its behaviour in a marine environment. We learned from the Kalamazoo, Michigan spill that diluted bitumen is far more difficult to clean up than conventional crude."
May noted that the final report of outgoing Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development in the Office of the Auditor General, Scott Vaughn, pointed out just last year that Canada was completely unprepared to handle a major oil spill.
"The Harper administration's approach to oil spill preparedness is a series of press releases and repetition of the absurd claim that our laws are being strengthened," said Ms. May. "The reality is the opposite."
cell: (613) 614-4916
As youth participation plummets and a troubling cynicism towards democracy mounts, Elizabeth May, O.C., MP, will discuss what can be done to prevent a slide into “elected dictatorships.”
Date: March 24, 2014
Time: 5:00 P.M.
Location: McGill Faculty Club (5450 McTavish), McGill University, Montreal, QC
Admission is free.
Event Website: 2014 Mallory Lecture: Elizabeth May
2014 Mallory Lecture at @McGillU - @ElizabethMay on the Crisis in Canadian Democracy
Join Elizabeth May, O.C., MP and SWOVA (Salt Spring Women Opposed to Violence and Abuse) for a dinner in honour of International Womens Day.
Elizabeth May will present awards for Community Change Makers at “An Evening of Celebration & Inspiration” at the Harbour House Hotel and Organic Farm.
For over one hundred years, International Women’s Day (IWD) has been a day of celebration and recognition to mark exceptional achievements of women and to build on inequities still to be addressed. This year SWOVA, IWAV, Victim Services – with the generous support of the Harbour House Hotel – have teamed up to present a weekend of exciting events for all members of our community in honour of the exceptional contributions women make to life in the Southern Gulf Islands.
Date: March 8, 2014
Time: 6:30 P.M.
Location: Harbour House Hotel and Organic Farm, 1221 Upper Ganges Rd., Salt Spring Island, BC
Tickets are $35 or $250 for a table of 8, youth, $30.00
Event website: Weekend of Entertainment, Workshops and RecognitionAn #InternationalWomensDay event with @ElizabethMay on beautiful #SaltspringIsland
Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada is holding a series of Town Halls throughout the riding in January and February.
Ms. May looks forward to meeting her constituents and hearing about their concerns and priorities. As well, Ms. May would like to update constituents about her actions and work in the House of Commons on their behalf. It’s a great opportunity to meet Ms. May and ask questions.
Date: February 20, 2014
Time: 7:00 - 8:30 P.M.
Location: Galiano Community Hall, 141 Sturdies Bay Road, Galiano Island, V0N 1P0Join @ElizabethMay at Galiano Town Hall
On second thought, this blog should be titled, “Why no self-respecting MP should vote for the budget.”
And it’s not because it’s a “do nothing budget,” as the approved NDP messaging has it. Nor because it fails the middle class, as the Liberal messaging has it. Not even because it has some good things and some bad things, breaking faith with federal civil service retirees and doing nothing on the climate crisis, as the Green Party press release attempted to summarize the document.
It is because it is not a budget.
Here’s a pretty standard definition of a budget, as related to government spending:
A “budget” is a plan for the accomplishment of programs related to objectives and goals within a definite time period, including an estimate of resources required, together with an estimate of resources available, usually compared with one or more past periods and showing future requirements
(Smith, Robert W. and Thomas D. Lynch. (2004) Public Budgeting in America. 5th Edition. Pearson; Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 37.)
Canadians likely assume that the federal budget is a great ledger sheet, with spending line items, and revenue line items and a reconciliation of revenues versus spending, accounting for liabilities and contingencies and so on. Anyone who has ever run a co-op nursery school or sat on a Parish Council, or, for that matter set up a household budget to live within one’s means, would be entitled to assume that the federal budget sets out all this information, and more.
True, it used to.
And Parliamentary tradition says it must. One of the foundational principles of our system of government, known as the Westminster Parliamentary tradition, is that Parliament controls the public purse. Parliament does not run government, but Parliament is there to hold the government to account. Each Parliamentarian has a responsibility to understand a budget before voting on it.
The fact that such a responsibility is now beyond us was made clear in an editorial from The Economist (February 15, 2014), “Canada’s budget: Something doesn’t add up.”
The editorial opened with this sentence, “Central to the sovereignty of parliament is that it, not the executive, should ultimately control the public purse.”
It ends with this: “So much for sovereignty.”
I have been complaining for years about the fact that the budget is no longer a budget. Read it and search in vain for a statement of revenues and expenses. Read it in vain to see the bottom line department by department, or the ability to compare with past years, or with the next three years coming. They are not there.
What is there? A long promotional brochure. Okay, at 419 pages, it’s a very thick brochure. Announcements here and there. X million over Y years for this or that shiny bauble. Is that new money? Old money? Cash or accrual? For example, once Parks Canada gets $391.5 million over five years to repair roads and bridges inside national parks, crumbling due to previous budget cuts, is the total departmental budget increased or decreased? With $108.2 million over three years for the burial fund for veterans, will the overall departmental budget grow by that amount, or is that cut from somewhere else?
Don’t ask so many questions. Or, as my favourite Ring Lardner line had it, “‘Shut up,’ he explained.”
Actually, Stephen Harper doesn’t have to worry much. Most questions in the House will play along and pretend this is a budget.
First and foremost, it is not a budget. It is a communications tool.
How did it come to this? What became of the fundamental principle that Parliament controls the public purse?
Well, Stephen Harper fixed that in the 2007 omnibus bill when the ability to borrow was taken from Parliament and given to cabinet. The actual spending estimates come out later, in the main estimates and then the supplemental estimates, but you still cannot find out the impact of cuts. That’s why the PBO, first under Page and now under Frechette, is going to court to get this basic information.
Credit to Stephen Harper for setting up the Parliamentary Budget Office, but, as most Canadians realize, it has been stymied. Valiant first PBO, Kevin Page, tried to get information from the Conservative administration. For his troubles he was subject to abuse. The Economist quotes Page: “The system is broken.”
How do we fix it? Let’s start by pointing to the Emperor and shouting out that he is naked. Those lovely, flowing, shiny robes of a budget are imaginary.Why no MP should vote for the budget
Once a world leader in Human Rights, Canada is now reluctant to ratify the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). “Canada should take leadership and stop catering to gun lobbies and ratify the treaty,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “For every day we wait for the treaty to become international law, hundreds of innocent citizens in conflict zones, often women and children, are murdered.”
On April 2nd 2013, the General Assembly of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) adopted the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the international trade in conventional arms ranging from rifles to tanks, combat planes, and warships. The treaty will stop arms flowing into conflict regions and reduce human rights abuses.
Currently, international weapons commerce has been estimated to reach US$ 70 billion a year. If diverted to international poverty alleviation, this money would achieve far more in improving international security. To date, the ATT has 116 signatories but only 9 countries have ratified the Treaty (50 is required for bringing this into law).
In spite of this knowledge, as the Green Party noted last year, Canada completed a controversial free trade deal with Colombia, and now has offered its gun merchants "new market opportunities" to export banned assault weapons to Colombia, one of the world's most violent countries. Eric Walton, Green Party Foreign Affairs Critic observed, “Canada’s primary interest to date has been protecting the rights of Canadian arms dealers and firearm owners. It is no secret that this focus stems from the influence of the gun lobbies in Canada and the US.”
He also noted that the Treaty also covers ammunition. “While arms are often recirculated, and we can see this particularly in countries without ammunition, they are a lot less lethal. We have seen in some conflict zones that the supply of ammunition is literally the fuel that keeps the conflict going.”
Joe Foster, Green Party Human Rights Critic added, “Personal safety is a basic human right. People around the world, including Canadians, must continue to urge their governments to recognize the importance of this landmark agreement. They must urge their governments to take immediate action to ratify it to prevent human rights abuses and violations. Wars that are presently taking place in such places as South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Syria are only possible because small arms are imported.”
Unfortunately, in 2014, millions of people are still affected by armed conflicts. The treaty creates a safer environment for the UN to deliver humanitarian assistance, to help in peacekeeping and peace building, to promote the rights of women and children, to assist refugees and internally displaced people, and to promote the rule of law. Stability fosters social and economic development.#ATT #HumanRights #cdnpoli #canpol
To mark the Annual Day of Justice for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, the Green Party of Canada pledges renewed support for the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s call for a national public inquiry.
Much more of a spotlight needs to be on the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. “We know Indigenous women are highly vulnerable because they are disproportionately impoverished. We need information about the scope of the problem, a plan to address it, and adequate political, financial and human resources to support this work,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands.
She added "Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women are our sisters and mothers, aunties and friends. They are not anonymous. They are loved and missed. The scandal of allowing their disappearances and deaths to go unsolved must end."
Cell: (613) 614-4916