Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category
Tonight I’m going to see Stephen Harper: The Musical in Kitchener, Ontario.
Stephen Harper: The Musical! with James Gordon
Join us for a fun evening of fabulous music, puppetry and fellowship, all in support of a great cause – making our votes count!
When: Friday December 6, 8 PM **
Where: Courtyard at Bonnie Stuart, 141 Whitney Place, Kitchener
Cost: $18 online – - or Pay What You Can at the door! (Everyone welcome!)
A sharp-witted, scathingly satirical, and not-too-untrue one-man show, ( well, two if you count the somewhat disturbing Harper Dummy!) featuring 18 original songs, spoken word, hundreds of projected images, audience participation, and an activist’s passion to show where we are and where we can go as a nation.
More info? firstname.lastname@example.org 519-568-7655
** NOTE: Come at 6:30 and we’ll be meeting in a separate room at Bonnie Stuart to talk politics and enjoy some refreshments before the show! Everyone is welcome.
This is a fundraiser by Anita and Jenn for Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter.
Some songs from the show:
The Day that Canada Died (bill c-38 omnibus bill)
Politically, Canada is a mess. Our 19th Century inequitable winner-take-all electoral system needs to be brought into the 21st Century. Canada needs Proportional Representation if we are to have a real democracy.
Whatever democratic checks and balances we once had have long since been eroded or compromised. Far from being the independent representative of our sovereign, the Office of the Governor General in the person of David Johnson seems to be functioning as a Public Relations arm of The Harper Government.
Rather than providing a house of sober second thought, Canada’s Senate is instead a house of scandal. And everything is made even worse with the concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)
The problem we are facing is, strangely enough, NOT Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Nor is it the Conservative Party of Canada.
The problem is a system that allows ANY political party to have so much power.
- A leadership review vote could be triggered at any time on the receipt of written notice bearing the signatures of at least 15% of the members of caucus. A majority of caucus, voting by secret ballot, would be sufficient to remove the leader, and begin the process of selecting a new one.
- membership in caucus would no longer simply be up to the leader to decide.
- the riding association, and not the leader, would decide who its nominee was. There would be no leader’s veto.
If this bill does what it purports to do, it will make the Prime Minister accountable to the MPs of the Prime Minister’s Party. It will not make the PM or the party any more directly accountable to citizens (we need Proportional Representation for that) but it is a start.
It would be a first good step towards decentralizing power, Which is, incidentally, a feature of democracy.
I wouldn’t trust Mr. Tom Mulcair with the keys to the kingdom, any more than I would trust Mr. Justin Trudeau with the unaccountable power vested in the PMO these days, just as I certainly don’t trust Mr. Stephen Harper with this power. I might trust Ms. Elizabeth May for a single term, but I would prefer not to have to.
Democracy must have checks and balances.
MPs should not serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister must serve at the pleasure of our Members of Parliament. When MPs are made to vote the party line, they are representing the party, not their constituents.
Which is why every MP needs to vote for this private member’s bill.
Any MP who does not vote for this will be telling their constituents — and Canada — that they do not want a voice in parliament. The thing is, if they don’t have a voice in parliament for themselves, they certainly can’t speak for any of the people they are supposed to be there to represent.
Most of us don’t understand how our government actually works. Even after taking every history class going when I was in school, I was unaware of what they call “Whipping.” To understand why we need Mr. Chong’s Reform Act, every Canadian should watch Sean Holman‘s excellent documentary Whipped: the secret world of party discipline Documentary that explains how it all works. Although the film looks at the process at the provincial level, the same thing happens federally.
“In Canada, citizens exercise only one franchise, one vote at the federal level: A vote for their local Member of Parliament. And they rightfully expect that their local member be empowered to respond to their views and aspirations,” Chong said.
MP Michael Chong will be hosting a Twitter live chat Q&A at 6:00pm EST today, Wednesday December 4th, 2013
The Leadnow Letter Campaign in support of The Reform Act
An you can always contact any or all of the Members of Parliament
(Sending them snail mail is free, too.)
The Reform Act Support Report is an ongoing listing of which MPs support the Reform Act.
One of the first supporters of this bill that I heard was Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who likened it to CPR for democracy on a CBC interview last week. Ms. May will be withdrawing her own Private Member’s bill C-503 Democratic Local Nomination Act in favor of Mr. Chongs as it does not go as far as Mr. Chong’s.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May has been in Warsaw representing the 80% of Canadians who want to deal with climate change.
Please vote for Canadidates that support meaningful electoral reform to Proportional Representation.
If you live in Toronto Centre, you can cast a vote for Proportional Representation by voting for John Deverell.
The Harper Government disallowed the participation of opposition parties to attend the COP19 climate change negotiations in Warsaw as part of the Canadian Delegation.
Elizabeth May, Canada’s Green Party leader, attended the conference as part of the Afghanistan Delegation.
What a dramatic illustration of the lack of representation Canadians have in what we are told is a democratic government.
The problem is that a winner-take-all electoral system, like the one we have now, means the majority of Canadians do not have a voice in parliament.
Canada needs to reclaim democracy before it is too late.
In 2015 we all must vote for candidates committed to electoral reform to proportional representation.
Nearly 50% of eligible Canadians voters don’t vote, many because our inequitable electoral system has made them feel disenfranchised. Because only some votes count in our unfair out dated First Past The Post electoral system. We need to encourage everyone to vote for candidates committed to meaningful electoral reform in 2015. If Canadians cast enough fractional votes for candidates committed to Proportional Representation, we will all win.
We need to make all our votes count.
For information on Proportional Representation visit FairVote.ca
Gasping, Mike clawed at the air and tore off the sleeping bag that was suffocating him.
It was 1997, April, and still cold in the early mornings. Cold enough Mike came to his senses quicker than usual and realized where he was.
Where he was, was NOT on the front lines in Kosovo.
Anywhere but there was good.
The pine branches shielded his sleeping pit from most casual observers and there was rarely anyone up here on the hill anyway. His stump itched. And, by damn, his head ached again, too.
Some hair of the dog would cure that, but in the cold light of morning, the bottle from the night before lay there, pitifully empty. You’d think that a leg would’ve been good enough exchange for a measly drink now and then, but it had been several years before the PTSD symptoms actually started to show up and Janey turned on him. Not that he could blame her. He’d started missing work and drinking just a little too hard, too often, and it spiraled downward from there.
Apparently the Forces considered there was a limit on the time a fella had between his release and becoming homeless. Like he should have failed sooner. At least he’d have had a pension that way.
He horked and spat and heard as it landed against some old newspaper. A waving, smiling face caught his eye and the headlines told him that the election had been called. He dug deep into his grungy pocket and pulled out his medal and hung it on a branch where it winked back mockingly at him.
No longer employable because no longer deployable; hero of no fixed address and so no ballot for him.
Mike blinked against the day and saw that the medal had fallen.
All for the right to vote.
The hopeful candidate waving at Mike in 1997 was incumbent Liberal Jean Chrétien. Legislation was passed in 2000 which provided anyone in a shelter with the right to vote. But Mike would still have been denied.
Ten years later, the right of homeless people to vote continued to be discussed in parliament.
Canada doesn’t know how many of its veterans become homeless; no statistics on its 80,000 ‘heroes’ are kept.
Estimates place the homeless population in Canada at upwards of 250,000. In the United States, 26% of the male homeless population are veterans. As for media coverage, trolling through decades of archives yielded little to nothing.
Around 2010, the tide started to turn, with some information articles on “how the homeless can vote” appearing on websites appealing to a local audience. Since the homeless hardly have easy access to the internet, one wonders whom the article is hailing; neither does it make the connection between homelessness and veterans.
At the time of this writing (2013), current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is providing a catalyst for veterans’ rights to be aired and addressed. From Halifax to Vancouver, the press is stirring, although news is conspicuously absent from main stream sources. However, the shadow of Remembrance Day loomed larger this year and even Rick Mercer is on the rant about veterans’ rights.
“Operation Help The Homeless OFFICIAL” is a new campaign by Anonymous launched on Facebook and YouTube November 09, 2013. But again, no link is made to past military service and homelessness.
The case of Brian Bradley highlights a systematic attack on veterans by the Canadian government. Yet where does one read about it? On the back pages of democracychange.org – an insider’s website for the ‘pinko-at-heart’.
The vets themselves are getting angry and retaliating. This Remembrance Day, there are plans to turn their back on the local Conservative MP when it is his turn to lay a wreath
Lest we keep forgetting.
The photograph “April Sky” by Laurel L. Russwurm is released under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License
Originally red poppy donations provided a way for the Canadian Legion social club to offer its members ~ Canadian veterans and their families ~ assistance beyond what the government does.
This in no way relieves our government of its obligations to support the citizens who have served in any branch of our armed services. Whether or not our nation is at war, our government owes a debt to the Canadians who have served, and their families.
Jeff Rose-Martland wrote a Huffington Post article What Fantino Wants Us to Do on Remembrance Day Is Forget. What follows is my comment, which may or may not be approved “Due to the potentially sensitive nature of this article.”
The mainstream media supports the status quo. Mainstream news programs show us images of Remembrance Day ceremonies where politicians at every level of government wear red poppies on their lapels as they stand shoulder to shoulder with veterans in uniform.
So why should there be outrage?
Canadians in both “service world” and “civilian land” believe the illusion Canada is a democracy, while living in a country where most Canadians have no say at all in what our governments do in our name.
Because the votes of most Canadians simply don’t count.
That didn’t used to be a big deal because our elected representatives at least tried to represent all their constituents. To represent the public good.
Today the public good is at risk on all fronts in Canada. Environment. Health Care. Education. Civil Liberties. It is shameful our nation has such a record of poverty ~ and most of those below the poverty line are children.
If veterans choose to suffer stoically while the Canadian government does not live up to it’s obligations to them, they are not doing their part. Some are already fighting for change.
Veterans can join the Occupy movement or Fair Vote. They can protest fracking, scientist muzzling, secretive trade deals… any of a multitude of wrongs committed by our undemocratic democracy.
Or they could vote for politicians committed to Proportional Representation.
Or they can wear a white poppy on Remembrance Day.
As both student and parent, I have attended many Remembance Day ceremonies in schools. There is no question whether the red poppy makes Canadians remember…
at least for one day a year.
But has honouring the symbol done anything to stop war?
Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino calls the white poppy campaign “offensive “ as he moves to close Veterans Affairs offices.
You can make your own white poppy, or you can continue to support the Legion’s poppy drive with donations, and paint your red poppy white with a bit of craft paint.
But can you think of anything more bizarre than fighting over what colour best symbolises peace?
Getting a sneak peak at Waterloo Region’s new electoral riding.
Mr. Woodworth accepts the Fair Vote Electoral Reform Petition which he will present to Parliament.
MP Stephen Woodworth and FVC WRC Co-Chair Shannon Adshade.
MP Stephen Woodworth is the current Conservative Member of Parliament
for Kitchener Centre in Ontario.
All photographs by Laurel L. Russwurm are released under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License
So far, I have received one stalling response to my email from a Conservative Senator’s office which said:
Your correspondence will be brought to the Senator’s attention as soon as possible.”
And I have received one very nice response from one Liberal Senator. It touched on many of my concerns, but it is clear that my communication failed to make my point clear. I wrote this response:
I am sorry you have mistaken the content of my message. I do not support “the sensible position of the Liberal senators” but rather an independent and autonomous Canadian Senate — a Senate in which Senators rise above party lines to provide sober second thought for the Public Good.
Just as you say, your role as a senator is to serve all Canadians.
But “all Canadians” encompasses the entire spectrum of citizens, from those Canadians who support the Pirate Party of Canada all the way to those Canadians who support the Conservative Party of Canada, everyone in between, and even people who support no party at all.
Although this may surprise you, Liberal Party of Canada policies do not support the interests of all Canadians, they support the interests of the Liberal of Party of Canada. This has been demonstrated very clearly by the current LPC Leader’s staunch opposition to meaningful electoral reform to Proportional Representation.
As you say, all Canadians are supposed to enjoy the same rights and protections guaranteed under our constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the reality is that we do not. The Current Government, as well as many previous Governments, have amply demonstrated all of us will in fact not enjoy these rights and protections until we all have representation in Government.
This will not happen until all of our votes count.
The dysfunctional political system in which you labor cannot be laid solely at the feet of the CPC. Within my own lifetime Liberal Prime Ministers Trudeau and Chrétien have laid the foundations of PMO centralization of power. And of course the game of “Senate stacking” has been played equally by LPC and CPC Prime Ministers.
I myself do not support any political party at all, because every Party puts Party interests before Canadian interests. While I understand the justification of the need for political parties in the Canadian House of Commons, the Senate is expected to rise above partisanship for the good of all.
I believe that an autonomous upper house is a vital component for the security of our democracy. A growing number of Canadians disagree with me; they can see no solution to the seemingly unending venality of the Senate. Many see the Senate as a superfluous echo of the House of Commons, which is why they advocate abolishing the Senate and replacing it by adding a few new seats to the HoC. That both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Harper share the goal of Senate deprecation should make it abundantly clear to all Senators that the Upper House must begin doing what it was constituted to do if it is to survive.
All Senators must cast off Party shackles that prevent them from doing what is right. If the Senate is to have any hope of public support, it must first work for the public good.
I hope this helps.
Ms. Laurel L. Russwurm
The government’s motion to suspend Senator Duffy, Senator Brazeau and Senator Wallin will be put forward on Monday, November 4th, 2013.
Incredibly, the government Senators intend to limit debate to a mere six hours.
Today Senators have been talking about the flood of emails they have been receiving. Apparently I’m not the only citizen plagued with serious concerns about our Senators being coerced to vote as their Party orders them to.
Has our Senate lost the ability to engage in sober second thought? Please let them know how you feel.
email the Senators
And now to my hiatus. I hope you all will Keep an eye on the country for me during November.
Tomorrow morning, Conservative Senators are expected to be “whipped” to vote for a motion to suspend Senators Brazeau, Wallin, and Duffy in one fell swoop – before proper investigations into the conduct of those three Senators have been concluded.
If you don’t understand what’s wrong with being “whipped” please watch Sean Holman’s excellent documentary CPAC Special – Whipped: The Secret World of Party Discipline on CPAC.
If our Conservative Senators allow themselves to be dictated to by Stephen Harper via his party whip in the Senate, this will provide more justification for abolishing the Senate.
Canada NEEDS an independent Senate to prevent any Prime Minister with a majority government from ruling dictatorially and imperilling the public good.
PLEASE take the time tonight to write a quick email to our Senators asking them to vote according to their own conscience and good judgment in the coming days, in order to preserve the dignity and autonomy of one of our foundational and vital institutions.
The Senate is supposed to be the gatekeeper of good law in Canada. Your job is to ensure that the “tyranny of the majority” does not override good law and policy. Being a chamber of sober second thought is THE essential role of the Senate. Canadians count on Senators maintaining their autonomy. The Senate is the Upper House of the Canadian Government, it can not be a rubber stamp for any Prime Minister with a majority.
Please stand on guard for Canada.
Laurel L. Russwurm
Senate email addresses
Thanks to Skeena Sage Williamson
Unless something really major happens (a general election, say), I will be doing my best to not pay attention to Canadian Politics for the month of November, because I will be writing a new novel as part of NaNoWriMo. That means this blog will be quiet until December.
Of course it would be awesome if you (or someone you know) is interested in stepping in with a guest Canadian Politics blog. If so, drop me a line at email@example.com
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with RMR: Rick’s Rant – Unanswered Questions