Archive for the 'Ottawa' Category

Government to Canadians: Struggling only makes it harder for you

This past Wednesday, I was hosting my cousin who was up visiting Ottawa from Toronto.  As a part of the sites he wanted to see, I took him to Parliament to watch Question Period since he’d never been.

Usually, the press only covers the first few questions that Dion, Duceppe, Layton and also usually Ignatieff ask, and then uncerimoniously catch up on the fine art of sleeping with one’s eyes open.  Thus, had I not actually been in the gallery, I’d likely have missed this gem of a question from Conservative MP Patrick Brown (Barrie) directed to the Minister of Labour since it was the last question of the day. 

From Hansard:

Question:

Patrick Brown (Barrie, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, some members of this House may be aware that a recent study found that in 2005, Canada lost more days of work due to labour disruptions, both lockouts and strikes, than any other G-7 country. The big picture is that these numbers represent $700 million in lost annual gross domestic product.

    Could the Minister of Labour inform this House how he is addressing this very serious issue?

Answer:
Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn (Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):  

    Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about those numbers. Work stoppages hurt workers, their families and their communities and they are also bad for businesses.

    As Minister of Labour it is my responsibility to look for new ideas to keep the talk going on between unions and employers. I have launched a study on the causes and impacts of work stoppages. The study will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on ways to improve labour relations in our country.

    An expert, Mr. Peter Annis, will consult with unions and employers and will submit a report to me with recommendations.

unions.pngSo, memo to unions:  The Minister of Labour doesn’t understand what causes strikes nor does he understand the impacts of work stoppages.  I’ll give the minister a hint:  in 1905, before any massive strikes began and struggles against capitalism began, the average worker’s wage was pennies per hour and there was no minimum wage, no safety standards and no government assistance for the poor.
But, as for the other point about “struggling only makes it harder for you”, that sent a shiver down my spine.  Is this going to be the Conservatives’ new campaign slogan?
conservative-election-platform.png

Communist Party of Canada leader to speak in Ottawa tomorrow

While I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Communist Party, I did nevertheless have an opportunity two years ago to hear Miguel Figueroa, leader of the Communist Party of Canada, speak at an event and I was thoroughly impressed. Thus, I was very pleased to learn that Figueroa (and possibly some others) will be talking and taking questions at Carleton University in Ottawa tomorrow, Monday January 28.

The event starts at 7pm in room 134 Unicentre at Carleton University. I’m going to be in attendance, so if any Ottawa comrades, bloggers or people who are quasi-left wing, even if not officially identifying as Marxist or Communist, wish to hear a very affable and likable speaker talk and/or would like to meet with me in person, please feel free to come on out.

My (limited) impression of Figueroa and Stu Ryan (perennial Communist Party candidate in Ottawa Centre who I imagine will also be attending) is that they are definitely not anything like those who used to run the CPC which everyone on the far left used to love to hate.

Hope to see some of you there!

Another conservative elected, another crook revealed

It’s official: our own (not so) beloved Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien has been charged with 2 criminal counts relating to his alleged fixing of the 2006 Ottawa Mayoral election to ensure his election and avoid what at the time appeared to be the inevitable election of a gay left-of-centre mayor (gasp!).

The two charges are fraud and influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices.

According to the CBC, OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) representatives and law professors alike can find no historical precedent in recent history of a sitting Canadian mayor having criminal charges levied against them specifically because of issues surrounding their election as Mayor.

Yep, conservatives certainly are the ‘values’ party.

The difference between the NDP and the Communist Party…

This is a great interview with Stuart Ryan, a candidate for the Ontario Provincial election in Ottawa-Centre.

To me, this interview just drives home the point that Ryan and his comrades can truly inspire with bold policies (ex. 50% reduction in tuition immediately, $20 billion for public secular schools and giving municipalities the power to tax corporations) whereas the NDP has lost its ability to dream, let alone inspire.

If you haven’t voted yet today, read this interview before you vote. It may not necessarily change your vote, but it will at the very least inspire you — and that’s not nothing.

~~~

Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process? Why did you choose to run in this constituency?

I have been involved in the political process for over 40 years, in terms of organizing over political issues such as opposing the Wars in Vietnam and now the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I see the elections, if that is what you mean as the political process, as a way to express our political views to the electorate so that they can pass judgement and see that the various issues we raise are related in that the capitalist system and the neo-liberal agenda take away the rights of workers, woman, aboriginals and people in general.
I run in Ottawa Centre because I have lived in the riding since 1979 and I know the issues that concern the people who live in the riding. It has a progressive history and is open to socialist ideas.

What prior political experience do you have? What skills and insight can you bring to office, from other non-political positions you may have held?

I have run for office in my Steelworker union in Windsor in the 1970s and in my Autoworker union now. I work for a CUPE union at Carleton University in Ottawa. I think I can bring my organizing skills in the labour movement, the anti-war movement and in the Central American solidarity movement to Queen’s Park and in building a base within Ottawa Centre to fight for a people’s agenda.

Which of your competitors do you expect to pose the biggest challenge to your candidacy? Why? What makes you the most desirable of all candidates running in the riding?

I think the biggest challenge to my candidacy is the feeling that people feel they have to vote NDP in order to win the riding, or to prevent a victory by the Liberal or Conservative party. This is a product of the first-past-the-post-voting system. I have had many people say that our ideas are good, and that I have been a good campaigner, but because they feel voting for the Communist Party might jeopardise the NDP. I think I would be the most desirable candidate because we have the best policies and that I would work very hard to make sure they are pushed for in the legislature.

What do you feel are the three most important issues to voters in your riding? Are these the same top three issues that are most important to you? What would you do to address these issues?

The three biggest issues in this riding are the crisis in public education; the increasing debtload of students because of tuition hikes; and the inability of municipal government to fund the social services downloaded by the Harris government form the province to the cities in 1997. They are my most important issues.
Re public education: Our Party will commit to spending $20 billion for a quality public secular school system in French and English for primary and secondary education.
We would commit to a comparable investment in public post-secondary education while reducing tuition by 50% now, and then eliminate it when the funding is adequate to provide the education for all who qualify for post-secondary education.
We would give municipalities secure funding through provincial grants and the ability to tax corporations. This would wean them off the property tax, which we would reduce by 75%, along with the scrapping of the market value assessment taxation scheme. We would give 50% of the gas tax for mass transit such as the O-train in Ottawa that would travel both east and west and north and south. We would upload to the province the funding of health, education, transit and welfare.

What should be the first order of business in the 39th Legislative Assembly?

The first order of business schould be the drafting of the legislation to implement Mixed Member Proportional Representation, following its victory in the October 10 referendum.

Are the property taxes in your riding at a fair level for the amount of services received in the municipality?

The property tax situation in the province is in chaos. Home owners are seeing property taxes increase as the value in their neighbourhoods go up while the property tax of businesses are diminished by a comparable amount. The net increase in revenue to the municipality coming from the residential tax increases is zero. Outraged taxpayers are blaming the municipal officials and are taking it out by voting for right-wing candidates who promise not to raise taxes (In Ottawa the slogan was “zero means zero”. The same candidate is now the mayor, and is backing a two per cent increase and campaigning to have the municipal financing system revamped.
The property tax system discriminates against tenants as they pay for the extra taxes landlords pay through higher rents.

How can the province lead the way in stimulating job creation?

The province should take action to save the manufacturing jobs leaving the province by insisting that raw materials be processed in Ontario rather being shipped raw out of the country. It should pass legislation to establish public tribunals so that corporations who are closing profitable factories, such as Hershey’s in Smith Falls and GM in Oshawa would have to justify their closing. Failure to do so would lead to the province taking over the closed business. Our Party would invest in mass transit and produce 100,000 units of social housing.

What are your views on the mixed member proportional representation (MMP) referendum?

I support MMP and will be voting for it. No longer will we have to choose between the lesser of two evils, and end up with the same mess. The last two governments in Ontario are proof positive of the problem. You will be able to vote for what you believe in and see it relected in the legislature.

Of the decisions made by Ontario’s 38th Legislative Assembly, which was the most beneficial to your this electoral district? To the province as a whole? Which was least beneficial, or even harmful, to your this riding? To the province as a whole?

The only thing that was good for Ottawa Centre was the tuition freeze for two years. That was negated by the new tuition scheme that will raise tuition 25-35% over four years.

You are running as a candidate for the Communist Party. A lot of people say that Communism is a dead idea or fear that a Communist government would implement some sort of repressive dictatorship. What do you say to this?

Communism is not a dead idea; we see revolutionary parties win in Venezuela and trying to bring socialism in by democratic means. This was tried in Chile in the 1970s but was overthrown by the CIA and the Chilean military. What will succeed is that the working class and its allies will demand socialism; it was the insistence of the Venezuelan people that stopped the coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002. The system that they will bring will be democratic, as it will be the will of the people that it be so.

The Communist Party is unlikely to win any seats in the election. Why did you decide to run for a small party rather than be involved with one of the major parties?

This is a good question, but if you want to bring about real change, you must be part of a party that calls for it. Our Party calls for socialism, public ownership of the means of production under democratic control. Working for a party like the NDP and the Greens would make you feel that you might get things done, but those parties will disappoint you – look at the record of the Bob Rae NDP government in Ontario that opened public sector collective agreements to attack benefits in order to save $2 billion from its deficit.

(original text from wikinews. Available here.)

~~~

If there’s a Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) in your riding, consider voting for a party that actually stands for substantive changes the capitalist system rather than merely slightly tinkering with it. Consider voting Communist!

Fight Exploitation.
Fight Inequality.
Fight Capitalism.

Not in my name!

There are the beginnings of a growing grassroots movement underway in the blogosphere which I felt was necessary to add my voice to.

The nature of the growing controversy stems from a pro-life rally which was held in Ottawa this past week.  It’s not the ideological content of the march which stirred the controversy since it was pretty much what one would expect from this sort of rally:  anti-choice, super-philosophies seeking to authoritaritatively impose their morality on everyone else.

No, what was unexpected about this rally, however, was that the trademarked Government of Canada logo (so-called “wordmark” with the Canadian flag over the final “a” in the word “Canada”) would show up on the pro-life rally’s banners.

Take a look for yourself:

According to the Federal Identity Program (FIP) legal standards, the “Canada” wordmark can only be used by the Government of Canada or by non-governmental partnerships sponsored by the Government of Canada.  So the question is: did the Government of Canada sponsor an anti-abortion rally or did the rally plagerize and illegaly display Government of Canada property?

Here’s where the plot thickens.  I did some hunting around, and I found a Government of Canada website (here) which documents some specifics about how/when the “Canada” workmark ought to be used.  Interestingly, this Government of Canada page links to the specific section of the FIP Manual (Section 1.1) which details the legality of displaying the wordmark, however, when you attempt to click on the hyperlink pointed to by this governmental website, you see that the .pdf file has either been moved or deleted and you get an error message.

It could just be a coincidence, but the Conservatives have deleted websites in the past to avoid embarrassment, so it’s possible that it’s something more as well.

Either way, the grassroots movement is attempting to get the government either to admit that they funded an anti-abortion rally or to get them to state publicly that they did not support this anti-abortion rally.  The highest profile blogger to take up this cause is maverick MP Garth Turner (here), however JimBobby has a really good piece on this (here) as does the Unrepentant Old Hippie (here).

It seems to me more likely that the logo was used without permission.  However, even if it was the group which was at fault for illegally brandishing the legitimizing symbol of the collective,  the government must still be pressed to prosecute these usurpers to the fullest extent of the law.  Irrespective of whether the government funded this or not, the illegal attachment of a government logo — our logo — to this movement cannot be allowed to go unprosecuted.

Not in my name.


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