Archive for category NDP
This blog will be dedicated moving forward to following the conversations and policy discussions about Ontario’s new autism policy. The discussions going on right now are a national ethical and moral issue and those across Canada should be kept up to date as much as possible. On Tuesday there was a very emotional rally at our provincial legislature Ontario Queens Park by parents of autistic kids:
Two really good shows Wednesday on CFRB 1010 in Toronto discussing the protest and policy. The first commentary on the autism story gripping Ontario comes from the Beyond The Mic show hosted by Mike Bullard. Comments start at 4:45:
The second one was is from CFRB’s Live Drive show. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was on the show for a one on one follow up interview and she is digging in her heals on the new Autism policy. My comments were aired at 18:41 with an excellent discussion on them after by the hosts:
(Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Decisions on Autism Services Politics Not Evidence Based Experts Say)
There has been very strong reaction to Kathleen Wynne’s decision to de-fund therapy for kids with Autism, from experts to advocates to politicians. Wynne looks to have picked a fight with the wrong crowd, and there are developments that the situation is getting even worse for the families affected.
In the 2014 budget, the first thing the Wynne government did after being re-elected was to increase funding for respite support for parents under a program called Special Services At Home (SSAH) to help give parents who have kids with a disability a break, or to hire private in home support when needed. Service providers were sent a memo last year by the Ministry of Youth and Child Services letting them know that clients should be applying for this money, and those that are already receiving should apply for an increase if their situation has changed.
The new money for SSAH should have kicked in starting this month and instead I’ve heard from several parents who are new applicants and qualify for this support money still waiting for approval or being actively denied. So far all those who have applied for an increase have not received a dime more than they usually get with no reason as to why they were denied the increase.
It’s looking very much like Wynne did a bait and switch during the last election by promising to fix the issues with a system in crisis to get votes, than back track on those promises and put a system that’s already in crisis to the point of near collapse.
Three experts appeared on CFRB 1010’s Nightside Talk Show last night to denounce Wynne’s recent decision to cut funding for IBI therapy for kids over 5 calling the move not based on scientific expert opinion. A clip of the show can be found here:
Political reaction at Queens Park is being led by the NDP:
This blog will be following developments as they occur.
(Arab League Flag)
Like many Canadians I had a very heart felt response to the picture of the three year old who laid face down dead after trying to cross the Mediterranean for the EU escaping the Syrian civil war. What I found more disturbing was Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s cold response to the story on CBC, and subsequent inaction of the Conservative government for days on the issue.
The cold response coming from the Conservatives is something that also is very prevalent in some of the richest Arab nations in the world. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates’, Qatar, and Egypt have all received absolutely zero of the Syrian refugees. The only Arab nation to accept these refugees is Syria’s neighbor Lebanon.
Opposition parties here in Canada have been quick to blame the Conservative government for their cold response (and rightfully so), however no one from the Liberals, NDP or Greens are speaking about the inaction of the Arab nations we call allies on this crisis. There needs to be immense diplomatic pressure on the Arab nations to do their part if Canada gets involved in accepting refugees.
Why are the Arab nations not accepting refugees? Short answer is that they think it’s a problem with Western influence in the region, and we caused it. ISIS was born out of the US lead Iraq war and subsequent election of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who was a Shia Muslim. Shias were oppressed by Saddam Hussein. Once al-Maliki came into power, he started to target Hussein’s supporters. Rather than including them in the democratic process, many were thrown in jail and even executed out of vengeance. Historically what happens when a political group is excluded from the democratic process and oppressed? Often times it’s a revolution and/or civil war.
The Arab spring is a prime example of the 20 somethings in the Arab world rising against oppressive power. The Arab spring started in Yemen, spread to Egypt and then to Syria. ISIS and many terror related groups took the opportunity the Arab spring provided to recruit to their extreme ideologies, and has now become a threat to our Arab allies.
Every time we seem to get involved in Middle-Eastern politics, we seem to make a mess of it in large part because the politics in the Middle-East works much differently than here in Canada or the US. It’s based on different interpretations of religion. We should be playing a more supportive role in the region with our Arab allies in regards to these refugees than accepting large amounts of them here in Canada.
Almost all security experts that have been interviewed by media agree that security concerns regarding these refugee’s is a minimal concern, due to screening processes that are in place. Why can’t we work with other Arab nations on the security screening issues for these refugees so that they can be accepted by Arab nations?
Offloading tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of refugees in Canada may be the desired emotional response to the crisis, however where are all these families going to live? Social housing in Canada is falling apart. Federal funding for social housing has been completely cut off by the Conservatives. It’ll take years to repair, let alone create the amount of spaces needed to house these individuals. Jobs? Many coming over here from Syria I would suspect would be in the youth range and young families. Right now we have a youth unemployment crisis in Canada, which again will take years to solve. Then there’s also the culture shock especially for children who would be attending our public school system. We’re going to need social programs here to integrate these refugee’s into our society.
I’m in no way suggesting that Canada shouldn’t do anything, just that we stop and think past the emotional response we all have. We’re in an election right now, and serious questions need to be posed to our leaders regarding the logistics of all of this, when our Arab allies in the region are refusing to help, and turning their backs on their own people. Western nations shouldn’t be shouldering this responsibility alone. Why are we, and is accepting tens of thousands of refugees helpful to the spread of democracy in the Middle East?
Let’s put it this way; we could have used the swagger and unexpectedness Donald Trump presented in last nights US Republican debates in the Canadian leaders debate. Instead, the first hour the Canadian debate consisted of Conservative leader Stephen Harper doing what he does best which is misleading Canadians on facts. Green Party leader Elizabeth May catching Harper on misleading facts (which is why she needs to be in every debate). Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attacking the NDP leader Tom Mulcair over a non-issue regarding Quebec separatism because he’s lost a tremendous amount of support to Mulcair over the anti-terror bill. Finally Mulcair looked like he was part of some alien race freaking people out on social media with his weird smile, and alien like black eyes peering into their living rooms when he looked directly into the camera when debating the other leaders.
The two that had the best body language in the debate were the two national debate veterans, May and Harper. Trudeau came across as a kid with something to prove (Liberals think his downfall is due to Harper’s attack ads, not his position on supporting the new anti-terror bill. Liberals are still tone deaf on that because they have nothing to fear but fear itself), and Mulcair just looked nervous for the first hour. On the other hand May seemed very well prepared, however didn’t do well in the first hour to inject her voice over the others. Harper was calm and cool to begin with, however came across as though he got annoyed at the fact he actually had to debate the other parties and defend his record.
Those of us who follow Canadian politics closely saw relatively nothing new regarding policy positions. Harper played the expected “steady as you go” position on the economy warning that the opposition parties would raise taxes and put the country in a horrible economic position. Mulcair and May made a good point that corporate taxes have remained low, and the Bank of Canada has been extremely worried in the past that these corporations are just sitting on the money they saved from tax breaks rather than creating jobs.
The environment debate which happened in the second hour, May just owned it and the other parties let her have the floor. May called Harper to account on his environmental commitments, getting Harper to admit that emission reduction targets will not be reached by 2020, but by 2030. May also questioned Mulcair on his support of pipelines, which Mulcair remained non-committal on, and May kept pressing him on.
On the new anti-terror bill, there are stark differences between the parties. Harper said it was necessary; Trudeau is for and against the bill; Mulcair starkly pledged to Canadians he would repeal the bill (looking directly into the camera with his alien like black eyes) and if new powers were needed, Mulcair consult the experts first. Essentially Mulcair wants proof these new powers would be needed, and how to implement them in a way that doesn’t impede the rights of Canadians. Trudeau actually did admit that he may have been naive in his support of the anti-terror bill, but continues to support it.
I think the major news from this debate that Canadians need to be aware of, is not what happened during the debates but after. May, Trudeau and Mulcair all took questions from the press after the debate. Harper didn’t take any questions nor did he appear before the press after which I found very bizarre and arrogant. We’re in an election Harper. Deal with it!
All in all, I think it was a good introduction to the party leaders to those who do not follow politics closely. I don’t think this first debate will have that much of an impact on voters. If your a conservative supporter, you’re likely to remain that way and same with the other party’s supporters. Mulcair needs to bring his style of debating that he has during question period to future debates. That’s where he shines, and Trudeau needs to stop bouncing around like a boxer and listen to Canadians more as to why he’s so low in the polls:
Yesterday Prime Minister Harper dropped the election writ, and Canada is now in it’s 42nd election since confederation. There has been much speculation around the timing of the writ dropping. This election will be one of the longest and most costliest elections in modern times, which could cost Canadian tax payers close to $1 billion+ when all is said and done at a time of economic instability, and recession.
The majority of those costs (an est. $500 million) will be dished out to Elections Canada to handle the longer election cycle for staff, offices, and supplies. The rest will be the tax payers shouldering costs to political parties. 50% – 75% of the expenses political parties incur during this election will be reimbursed by the tax payer. With the longer campaign parties can spend a lot more money on advertising. When Harper was questioned on the expenses to Canadian tax payers, he replied that there will be no cost to tax payers as a result of the length of the election period. What?
The political influence in media is becoming a very interesting side story to the debates. I’ve posted extensively on this here, here and here. Over this past week the NDP dropped out of the consortium debates, and issued a list of demands for future debates. The NDP demands (emphasis added) are:
- The host organization is credible and non partisan
- The proposed topics to be discussed are varied and relevant to a large number of Canadians; and
- The Prime Minister and other political party leaders are invited and have agreed to participate
- The NDP will participate in an equal number of French and English language debates
This is an interesting update. While many in the media focused on the NDP decision not to attend the consortium debates was explicitly due to Harper’s refusal to attend; from the above demands it looks like NDP want to debate ALL parties leaders including Steven Harper. It also looks as though the NDP are having issues with the Consortium being bias towards the Liberal party, to which I’ve discussed in great detail in other blogs.
That bias was very visible especially with the CBC coverage of the election call which pointed to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau being the most “ready” for the election, while Trudeau seemed extremely uptight, reading from cue cards, and late to his speech. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair looked a bit rattled as well during his speech reading from a teleprompter and not answering any questions. The leader that looked more ready out of the bunch to me was Green Party leader Elizabeth May. May seemed rather relaxed, ready to go, and the only leader out of the opposition parties not reading from cue cards, or teleprompters. I’m very curious as to why CBC pointed towards Trudeau as being the most ready out of the bunch, when that’s not clearly the case.
While the NDP hasn’t come out fully accusing the consortium of bias, the political messaging around their demands looks to be quite clear. The Consortium debates are essentially dead now and other debates may fall by-the-way-side as well. From the looks of the last line of the NDP demands that might actually happen. So far there has been only one French language debate confirmed. That means right now the NDP will only commit to one English language debate, to which the first of those debates is scheduled for Thursday August 6th, and all political parties will be attending that debate.
On top of the media consortium having a crisis of ethics, we now have confirmation that the Organization for Security and Economic Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will be monitoring our federal election. The OSCE is an international body that specializes in monitoring elections, and their presence in this election is to ensure that the election laws recently passed by the Conservatives allow for a free and fair election, and to ensure that these laws are consistent in ensuring democracy can take place. The OSCE will release it’s final report to the Canadian public eight weeks after the election.
The Fair Elections Act which was passed by the Conservatives will not allow Canadians living abroad to vote in the next election. Actor Donald Sutherland recently posted an op-ed in the Globe and Mail in which he blasted the Conservatives in taking away his right to vote. Sutherland stated:
It’s very sad. And this new “Canada,” this Canadian government that has taken the true Canada’s place, has furiously promoted a law that denies its citizens around the world the right to vote. Why? Is it because they’re afraid we’ll vote to return to a government that will once again represent the values that the rest of the world looked up to us for? Maybe.
There was also a court challenge on the fair elections act. The courts decided not to strike down the law so close to an election, stating that it might appear the courts would be influencing the vote if they did. The courts determined that the issues with the fair elections act were extremely serious, and likely to be dealt with after the election. This means that if there are any court challenges on the election (look to that also coming from Canadians living abroad), this will be one of the most costliest elections in Canadian history to Canadian tax payers.
While the Conservatives shoulder a lot of the blame for this, the media shoulders the other half. If in fact we have media being influenced by any political party and not fully educating Canadians on the facts due to political influences and favors, than we’ve already lost our democracy, and I think that will play out with the OSCE report and substantive court challenges that are sure to follow as a result.
As the debates over the debates has raged on over the past several months, one thing is becoming increasingly clear. Journalists in Canada seem to be throwing out their duty of independence and holding our political parties to account for political favors; thus Canadians can’t rely on the media to do their traditional role of independently reporting on the election and providing the public with proper facts on policy to make an informed choice at the voter booth. Due to this, our democratic system looks more like a 3rd world two bit operation than a thriving democracy which depends on a free independent press as a major pillar to the democratic system of government.
I’ve reported extensively on this blog about how the consortium colluded together against the Conservatives, and how that collusion is highly illegal and has yet to be dealt with in law. On the flip side, last week award winning Toronto Star journalist Paul Watson quit his job in protest after being silenced by the Star while trying to report misinformation on the Franklin expeditions and how the expeditions were being purposely influenced by ties to the Prime Ministers Office. Facts during the expedition according to Watson were left out of this feel good story to purposely mislead the public in favor of the PMO’s preferred version of events. According to Watson he was punished by the Star executives in trying to confront his superiors with misinformation on this story with a 6 week reporting ban.
It’s not just the Toronto Star or the broadcast consortium looking for political favors. This week, the Globe and Mail responded to stark criticism of it’s readers not allowing Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the Munk Debates. The Globe replied to angry readers with this following statement:
The Globe & Mail is hosting a federal election debate in September in partnership with Google Canada. The debate, to be hosted in Calgary, will be streamed live on The Globe’s website and distributed on YouTube, and will focus on the Canadian economy.
We have invited the major party leaders to this debate – those who have official status in The House of Commons. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have been asked to take part, because we believe a more streamlined, effective conversation about the Canadian economy will take place in that format.
David Walmsley, The Globe’s editor-in-chief says, “We’ve set up the debate this way because we believe that by limiting the format to Canada’s three main party leaders, we will create a truly focused, successful discussion about the state of the Canadian economy.”
There are now at least three independently organized leaders’ debates in the works. Politics reporter Steven Chase writes:
“Mr. Harper’s Conservatives kicked off a spat with major broadcasters including the CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Global when they announced they would refuse an invitation to participate in debates organized by the broadcasting consortium, instead opting for a variety of independent debates. Kory Teneycke, a spokesman for the Conservative Party campaign, said in a statement that he hopes major broadcasters will cover the independent debates.”
Industry Minister James Moore yesterday announced the federal government will be forwarding $9 million in tax payers money to support the Munk School of Global Affairs.
The “Munks” are disallowing Green Party Elizabeth May to debate in their debates as well. Most Canadians believed that the last time May got her time in the federal elections debate during the 2008 economic crisis, that she won that debate hands down regarding the economy and other election issues. While I’m not a Green Party supporter, I remember those debates very well, and May brought forth an independent non-partisan view towards the facts, including the fact that we were in a recession in 2008, which all parties at that time were denying we were in. Enter 2015, and all indications are pointing to the fact we are in a recession with the Conservatives dodging the bad economy at every step. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
The story that’s emerging here is one where media executives who are in charge of overseeing our election debates seem to be acting without independence. Watson in a recent interview had this to say regarding political interference over our “independent” media:
This is a symptom of a broader disease that is eating away at the core of our democracy. Experts on climate, on medicine, on things that are central to our society are being silenced by a government that does favours for the politically connected. And that is just very dangerous for our future.
Due to the current partisan nature of the politics in this country facts are being left out. Media independence is not a left vs right or right vs left issue, it’s both. The broadcast consortium back in October threw journalism ethics out the window with solid evidence that the CBC was colluding with the other broadcasters against government regarding political advertising which is a highly illegal offense under the competition act.
At heart was the attack ad scandal, and the broadcasters threatened to not air political advertising using broadcast consortium materials. The broadcasters claimed journalism ethics and independence was being threatened by misleading advertisements. Today the CBC is still threatening to illegally take down any content that anyone uses without their permission. The law allows the use for such material under certain circumstances. This is called the “fair use” copyright exemption. In some of my comments on my recent blog posts, I compared internationally accepted journalism ethics to that of the broadcasters used to justify not airing or interfering with political advertisements:
Last week former Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro was sentenced to one month in jail for his part in over spending in the 2008 election. The judge thought that jail time was necessary to send a message to politicians ahead of an election that cheating election rules will have severe consequences. After last week, most Canadians are expecting a “clean” election campaign, that is until the CBC published a blog post on Friday, warning that it was going to start taking down content posted online that uses any CBC material.
Jennifer McGuire CBC News Editor-and-Chief stated:
“No one – no individual candidate or political party, and no government, corporation or NGO – may re-use our creative and copyrighted property without our permission. This includes our brands, our talent and our content.”
It’s quite clear from this statement that it’s not just political parties the CBC has issues with, it’s Canadian copyright law. Copyright law permits the use of clips from CBC and other broadcasters for political criticism and news. The CBC’s decision to take down content regardless of current law that allows this, will have a profound impact on the online coverage of the consortium debates, since blogs like mine, political YouTube commentators even tweets will be subjected to false and illegal copyright take down notices. This will impact freedom of speech and political commentary in the most profound way during the election, if mass take downs of copyright occur online. These illegal take downs can be challenged, however it will take far beyond the election to resolve.
A lot of this started back in 2013. Back then The Liberal “Democratic Reform” Critic Stephane Dion raised the possibility of shielding the Liberal party from political attacks using copyright. Dion went as far as writing the Commissioner of Elections Canada on the issue which was seemingly rejected by Elections Canada.
Back last year, the consortium broadcasters again raised this concern, with starkly similar issues Dion raised to shield the Liberal party. CBC, CTV, Global took to the airwaves in October 2014 after the Conservative government tried to “clarify” copyright law, by amending current copyright law to avoid the situation we find ourselves in now. The amendment was later dropped by government.
Internet Law Expert Micheal Geist stated in his most recent blog:
“The CBC is simply wrong. Its guiding principle is wrong and its attempt to use copyright to take down an offensive advertisement is wrong. The claim brings to mind the story from last fall involving a government proposal (that was shelved) to create a specific copyright exception for the use of news content in political advertising.
I argued then that no exception was needed because copyright already provides latitude for political parties to use works without permission. That is because copyright does not provide the absolute rights suggested by the CBC. The CBC obviously has rights as the copyright owner in its broadcast, but those rights are constrained by limitations and exceptions under the law that allow for use of its work without the need for further permission. The CBC itself (like all broadcasters) regularly relies upon those exceptions to use the work of others without permission. Similarly, I just used the exceptions to quote the CBC policy in this blog post without their permission.”
The CBC needs to be reminded of the law, and that while the broadcaster owns the copyright it’s Canadian tax payers that pay for it!
A few weeks ago I blogged about exactly this, and how content ownership rules of the consortium debates could potentially have a very negative impact on free speech, and online coverage of the consortium debates. It profoundly looks like those concerns have been well justified. Both the NDP and Green’s have been stark supporters of these copyright exemptions in law. The Greens in particular have been stark supporters of the consortium lead debates. I’ve reached out to Green Party leader Elizabeth May on this issues, and she wasn’t available for comment.
We have exemptions in copyright law for a reason, and that is too ensure that free speech isn’t controlled by anyone. Last week, Ontario Court of Justice Judge Lisa Cameron made it very clear in Del Mastro’s case that the courts would not accept deceitful behavior from politicians calling it “an affront to the principles of our democratic system”. Similarly the CBC’s attack on free speech under the guise of “journalistic” principles months before an election, should be treated also as an affront to the principles of our democratic system by Canadians as well. I highly doubt that with the message Justice Cameron sent last week, that media companies will be treated any differently by the courts if the consortium is legally challenged on this issue.