MP Don Davies attends arms trade treaty conference
NEW YORK – Today, the New Democrat Critic for International Trade, Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway), is participating in the United Nations’ conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in New York.
“The world is waking up to the fact that it is completely unacceptable to internationally trade arms without proper rules and regulations,” said Davies. “This conference is an important step toward stopping the irresponsible trade of weapons that fuels so much strife in vulnerable regions.”
The ATT negotiations are seen as the most important initiative regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations. Davies is participating as part of the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), whose declaration in support of the ATT has been endorsed by over 1,600 parliamentarians in over 70 countries.
“An arms trade treaty is absolutely necessary for the promotion of peace around the world,” said Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa-Centre). “As it stands now, there are no global norms for the transfer and export of weaponry and the consequences are devastating.”
CBC programming subject to Official Languages Act
OTTAWA – NDP Official Languages Critic, Yvon Godin (Acadie-Bathurst), is calling on the CBC to respect the recent Federal Court ruling concerning its programming and to fully recognize the authority of the Commissioner of Official Languages.
"Commissioner Graham Fraser does a remarkable job protecting the linguistic rights of Canadians across the country," said Yvon Godin. "We must recognize his mandate and we must ensure that the needs of both official language communities are taken into account adequately by federal institutions, including when one or the other are in the minority. Accordingly, we must guarantee that the scope of the Official Languages Act is maintained."
The CRTC takes a comprehensive approach to broadcasting but the Official Languages Commissioner has the authority and the expertise to address specific language issues related to programming. The Federal Court has confirmed this principle by acknowledging that the CRTC and Official Languages Commissioner have a shared responsibility.
“The Federal Court’s judgement protects the rights of official language minority communities,” said Godin. “The CRTC does hear complaints from official language communities but this function is not a substitute for the mandate of the Commissioner defined in the Official Languages Act. New Democrats are therefore asking the CBC not to appeal the Federal Court decision.”
Conservatives launch another attack on artists
OTTAWA- The Conservative government’s decision to exempt electronic memory cards from the current private copying levy will deny Canadian artists millions of dollars in badly-needed revenue, according to New Democrats. The decision, made after lobbying from big tech companies, directly interferes with the independent Copyright Board, which was scheduled to review this case.
“This shows unbelievable arrogance,” said Pierre Nantel, the NDP Heritage critic, “The independent Copyright Board has the mandate and the expertise to impartially review these issues but instead we see Conservatives override this process at the urging of big business.”
A few months ago a coalition of businesses including, Telus, Microsoft and Panasonic, sent a letter to Industry Minister, Christian Paradis, asking him to intervene. The Conservative government announced yesterday that it would indeed intervene and would do so before the Copyright Board had even considered the matter.
“Time and time again, Conservatives side with big business and show their contempt for Canadian artists,” said Deputy Heritage Critic and musician Andrew Cash. ““Only Stephen Harper’s government would meddle in an independent ruling at the request of big business and then claim that their approach is balanced.”
Research from the Canadian Private Copying Collective shows that 5.6 million cards were sold in Canada in 2011 and on average 73 songs are copied onto each card, meaning more than 400 million songs were copied last year alone without any compensation for musicians.
“There is no doubt that this is an ideologically driven decision. The small levy, which already exists on CDs, wouldn’t be going to the government. It would be going directly to music creators, the backbone of Canadian culture,” concluded Nantel.
Another missed deadline for Sea King replacement
TORONTO – Yesterday, another deadline for the delivery of Canada’s new Cyclone helicopters came and went. The first delivery of the helicopter meant to replace the Sea Kings should have occurred in November 2008. New Democrat Critic for Military Procurement, Matthew Kellway (Beaches -East York), is calling on the Conservative government to come clean with Canadians about what has gone wrong and what their plans are going forward.
“Four years after missing the 2008 deadline, Sikorsky has yet to produce an airworthy machine,” said Kellway. “The Conservative government needs to come out from under this blanket of secrecy and tell Canadians what's gone wrong this time.”
In 2004, Sikorsky signed on to a $5 billion contract for 28 Cyclones to replace the aging Sea Kings. The current estimated cost for the project sits at about $6 billion and counting.
“The Sea Kings are at the end of their useful life,” said Kellway “For the sake of accountability, we need to know when Sikorsky will deliver airworthy machines. At the very least, the Conservatives should be assessing the negotiated penalties for this delay to recover some of the cost.”
In 2010, the Auditor General called the purchase of Cyclones highly problematic and called on Defence Department official to correct this process.
“This Conservative government is mismanaging yet another procurement file, which costs taxpayers millions and risks the safety of our military personnel,” said Kellway. “Conservatives are repeating the same mistakes when it comes to the procurement of the F-35 fighter jets. This government has lost all confidence when it comes to military procurement.”
One minister’s resignation is too little, too late
OTTAWA –Minister Bev Oda has resigned from the Conservative Cabinet after years of ethics scandals and wasteful spending. In response, New Democrats are pointing to the many questions left unanswered and asserting that this does nothing to restore accountability to Stephen Harper’s Cabinet.
“Although Bev Oda has done the right thing, Canadians are still outraged that Stephen Harper allowed and defended years of this unethical behavior” said NDP Ethics Critic Charlie Angus. “We all know the stories of the swanky hotels and sipping overpriced orange juice. The buck stops with the Prime Minister. Why did he allow this to go on for so long and why is she only now resigning?”
From the tampering of documents in the Kairos scandal, to spending thousands of taxpayer’s dollars on limousines, hotel upgrades and perks, Oda is no stranger to scandal. However, Deputy Ethics Critic Alexandre Boulerice pointed out that she is certainly not alone in the Conservative Cabinet to suffer from questionable ethics and lapses in accountability.
“If Stephen Harper thinks a single resignation or a cabinet shuffle will make his ethics problems go away, he is sorely mistaken,” warned Boulerice. “The Conservatives were elected on a white horse of accountability but since taking office they have become precisely what they used to criticize.”
Seniors’ debt: Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe urges government to act before it’s too late
OTTAWA — Alarmed by the growing debt among seniors, Official Opposition Seniors Critic, Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds‒Dollard) urges the government to act before it’s too late, particularly by reversing their decision to raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security by two years.
According to data unveiled recently by the Vanier Institute of the Family, Canadians over the age of 65 are the demographic group with the largest insolvency and bankruptcy rates in the country.
“The government has a crucial role to play in helping our citizens age in dignity,” said Blanchette-Lamothe. “Rather than slashing Old Age Security, it should implement concrete solutions to increase the financial security of retirees, who worked their whole life to build the Canada we know today.”
The problem is even more urgent as the study unveils that Canada’s seniors are 17 times more at risk of becoming insolvent than they were 20 years ago, a trend that is growing each year.
While the Conservatives are stubbornly balancing their budget and their frivolous military spending on the backs of seniors, the NDP proposes to reinforce the public pension system, protect employees’ retirement funds in case of a company’s bankruptcy, and stimulate job creation and economic growth through tax credits for hiring.
New refugee law less fair, less accountable
OTTAWA – With Canada Day just around the corner, the Harper Conservatives are celebrating with the Royal Assent of a new bill, which – alongside cuts to health care for refugees – hurt those seeking refuge in Canada from persecution, according to the NDP’s Citizenship and Immigration critic Jinny Sims.
“Minister Kenney may be celebrating today, but for thousands of vulnerable people, this is a sad day,” said Sims, the MP for Newton – North Delta. “Canada was built on the idea that we all have a responsibility to take care of one another – especially the vulnerable. Conservatives are ignoring this with their mean-spirited legislation and draconian cuts.”
Sims also noted the Conservatives’ new law won’t stop human smuggling and concentrates sweeping new powers into the hands of the Minister.
“The Minister has now grabbed more arbitrary power, including the power to treat refugees differently depending on how they come to Canada,” said Sims. “I ask the Minister to take some time this Canada Day to reflect on how his changes will end the dreams of so many who are legitimately trying to come to our country to escape suffering and live in freedom.”
Government must address tragedy of missing aboriginal women
WINNIPEG - The NDP critic for the Status of Women, Niki Ashton has called for a national inquiry into the disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women in Canada. Ashton made the statement in the wake of the discovery of three murdered Aboriginal women in Winnipeg that are linked to one potential suspect.
"The loss of these three young Aboriginal women is devastating. Tragically, they are part of a pattern in Canada - where Aboriginal women are more often the targets of violence and death," said Ashton. “This is an issue that the federal Government must take action on rather than cutting funding to groups that are trying to make a difference.”
Despite calls from community leaders, aboriginal groups and opposition parties, the Government has done little to address the disproportionate level of violence faced by aboriginal women. The Conservatives have cut funding to Sisters in Spirit, a task force that compiles and maintains a database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.
“The Government needs to launch a national inquiry so that we can get to the root of these tragedies," said Ashton. “We have to address not only the violence itself but the systemic inequalities that lead to the vulnerability and targeting of aboriginal women.”
Protect Canadian freedom on the Internet
OTTAWA - After attempting to undercut individual privacy and freedoms by ramming through their internet snooping bill (C-30), leaked documents now show that the Conservatives are trying to further curtail Canadian personal freedom on the internet as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.
“For most Canadians the internet is part of their daily life. They are understandably very worried about the ease and speed with which the Conservatives are removing basic online freedoms and privacy rights,” said New Democrat Digital Affairs Critic Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne-Blainville). “These continual restrictions on digital freedom aren’t confined to online activities but are restrictions to our overall freedom.”
According to reports, the TPP is looking to create new rules on IP enforcement that would not only give internet service providers powers to lock users out of their own content but also encourage ISPs to collect and hand over private user data without privacy safeguards. These IP restrictions would compromise internet security, inhibit online expression, and slow growth in the technology sector. Taken together, the TPP’s IP provisions would also severely restrict freedom of expression, privacy, and digital rights.
“It seems clear that in their panic to get into the TPP, the Conservatives have committed to many unsavoury aspects of the deal,” said International Trade Critic Don Davies (Vancouver-Kingsway). “Because the Conservatives waited so long to enter these talks, Canada now has no voice on past decisions and no real power to affect future negotiations. How can the interests of all Canadians be met under these conditions?”
Cuts to Via Rail on the wrong track
OTTAWA – The cuts announced today to VIA Rail will significantly reduce passenger rail service and undercut the economic stability of regional communities.
“The Conservatives are gutting a service that many Canadians rely on,” said Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina), NDP Critic for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. “Canadians travelling for business, school or recreation rely on VIA Rail to provide efficient, affordable and accessible services. It’s shameful that Conservatives are cutting services so recklessly.”
The Conservatives’ cuts will see 200 people thrown out of work and the number of trains across the country drastically reduced. From coast to coast, VIA Rail’s important role as a national passenger rail service provider will be undermined.
Deputy Transport critic, Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières), echoed these concerns. “Reducing train service will deprive Canadians of safe and affordable travel options. The Conservatives are showing yet again that they do not have the best interests of Canadians at heart.”
“These cuts will disproportionately affect Canadians in the Maritimes,” added NDP MP for Acadie—Bathurst, Yvon Godin. “VIA Rail provides a vital service and these routes have allowed our local communities to grow and prosper – these cuts will hurt our region.”