Dear Ontario: Stop #Bill66

The #Bill66 Comment deadline is today!

I’ve just posted my comment. If you live in Ontario you should too.  There’s more information after the comment.

I am writing to tell you to withdraw “Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018”

I grew up Woolwich Township, and went to high school in Elmira, and I moved back to the area to raise my child. As a child I spent time visiting family from the Walkerton area. Both these towns have a lot going for them, but the terrible water issues they’ve suffered have left deep scars.

Human beings will not be able to drink the water in our town in my lifetime, and likely not even in my grandchildren’s lifetime. The laws protecting the health of our people and out environment are better than they were, but I expect they could be improved. Going the other way is simply not an option. I invite anyone who thinks otherwise to drop by my town and drink the water under our feet rather than the tap water we pipe in from Waterloo.

I agree with our town councillor who expressed anger at the provincial government’s implication that Woolwich Township isn’t “open for business.” And another who said we don’t need or want businesses that can’t operate within existing laws that protect our water, natural heritage, farmland and human health and well-being.

Urban sprawl is expensive, and I’m lucky to live in a place that has worked hard to responsibly manage growth through regional and municipal planning based on evidence and citizen consultation.

Parcels of land, factories, farms, cities, towns and hamlets aren’t islands; they share the environment that supports us all. Our current regional planning procedures ensure that the use we make of our lands don’t harm our neighbours. We all need a healthy environment.

Kitchener-Conestoga is a predominantly rural riding. Pesticides are killing off our bee population: we need stronger environmental law. The farms that surround the settlement areas and knit Waterloo Region together are important if we want to eat.

But the safety of our water and our land is only part of the problem with Bill 66. Omnibus Bills are never a good thing. Democracy doesn’t serve the public if laws are rushed through willy nilly without making use of the democratic procedures that subject them to scrutiny, so they are properly formed.

I have not had the time to read through the 22 other laws Bill 66 will change, but it is inconceivable that your government would strip away what feeble protections we have in the Wireless Services Agreements Act 2013. If there are any good parts in Bill 66, they can be pulled out and introduced as standalone laws.

As bad as everything I do know about Bill 66 is, the worst to me is your government’s attempt to strip public consultation out of the process. That was one of the things your predecessors got very wrong. My friend has been trying to set up an appointment with our MPP without success. This is still a democracy, isn’t it?

In case there is any doubt, I am writing this to tell you to withdraw Bill 66.


[The following is reprinted from the KitCon Blog]

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During the election, Mr Ford categorically promised not to touch the Greenbelt.

Not only is the Greenbelt home to 5,500 farms, 78 species at risk and 102 million tonnes of carbon storage, the reason it was protected in the first place was to protect a great deal of Ontario’s water.

But now Mr Ford’s majority government has introduced Bill 66, The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, legislation. This will indeed open Ontario’s Greenbelt up to development.

Because it was introduced quietly going into Christmas, and the Ford Government has made no secret of its intention to push Bill 66 through quickly, I don’t know if anyone has yet managed a thorough examination of all the ramifications of Bill 66.

It may only be 35 pages long, but it’s an omnibus bill, which means everything you need to know isn’t contained in this draft legislation.  You’d have to read through every one of the 22 laws it will change:

Some of the changes it makes may be good things, but the bad things thoroughly outweigh any good that may be there.  That’s the thing about Omnibus Bills: many different things are bundled together in a package too big to be adequately considered in a democracy.

There is no reason Bill 66 couldn’t be stopped, and the good parts could be reintroduced as ordinary laws that can be properly understood and debated in the Legislature. 

Our unrepresentative voting system has gifted Mr Ford’s government with 100% power to pass any law it wants, even though it was elected by only 40% of the votes cast.  (A mere twentysomething percent of eligible votes).

So what’s the rush?

There is nothing stopping them from allowing citizens and the MPPs in the legislature to know what it is they are passing, and allow adequate parliamentary debate of all aspects.  That’s how our system is supposed to work.  In a majority government, even though the party with all the power can pass any law it wants, the reason we have an opposition parties is to ensure that our legislators make sure the laws they pass stand up to scrutiny.  If there are bad unintended consequences, or even if the legislation is too broad or unclear, these things can be dealt with before they become law.

The only reason for pushing something like this through fast is to keep us from knowing what they’re doing until it’s too late.  Keeping the people in the dark is not how a Government for the people would operate.

In the Region of Waterloo discussion of Bill 66, Waterloo Mayor Jaworsky said, “No one asked for this.”

Mr Ford keeps saying he needs to do this to show Ontario is “Open For Business.”  But what does that mean?  This law is supposed to “cut red tape” that prevents development.

But the fact is that development isn’t being prevented.  There is plenty of room in Ontario, plenty of land available and open for development without going anywhere near the protected lands of the Green Belt.  There is no need to endanger our water or anything else.  That’s why municipalities across Ontario are passing resolutions saying they don’t want or need this.

Why is this happening?

Because when the laws protecting Ontario’s water and the Greenbelt were put in place, land prices in the Greenbelt stayed low.  When a farmland can’t be turned into a factory or subdivision, it stays viable as farmland.  But because of the low prices, some developers bought land in the Greenbelt, speculating that in time they would elect a government willing to undo Greenbelt protections.

Although all-party approved changes to Ontario’s election financing law prevented political parties from accepting corporate donations directly, the changes didn’t go far enough, because developers like Mattamy Homes were allowed to contribute ridiculous sums of money to Partisan third party advertiser Ontario Proud which specialized in attack ads against Mr Ford’s opponents.  (And Mr Ford is undoing that election financing law because the people he is for have lots of money to spend to ensure the governments they want get elected.   But that’s another story.)

The only reason the Ford Government is trying so hard to carve up the green spaces of our province with factories and subdivisions is because their rich supporters want to make a profit.

Ontario has been doing a pretty good job of long term planning, protecting sensitive environments, our water and our food supplies. Once farmland is paved, its gone.

Once farmland is developed, it’s not farm land anymore.

The best we can hope for from Bill 66 is that decades of careful land management will be messed up.  The worst is another Walkerton.  Or another Elmira.

And if that’s not bad enough, Bill 66 does away with any requirement for public notice or consultation or meetings, and no matter what problems are caused, we won’t even be able to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.  So called “Open For Business” by-laws passed behind closed doors will trump laws, policies and municipal official plans developed through extensive and open public consultation.  Communities would have no recourse to influence or challenge them.

And even if your Council doesn’t do any of these things, the Council next door might, and endanger the environment we all share.

What Can We Do?

We have until January 20 to formally tell the Ford Government consultation what we think about Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 on the province’s website.

January 20th is the deadline for comments to Bill 66 on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (EBR).
Be sure that you and others that you know speak up and let your concerns be known.  It would be fantastic if your group or organization can make an official response or submission.  There is plenty of information in the Bill 66 Recent Articles
linked below.  There are a myriad of issues and concerns, but you can say as little or as much as you like in your comment.   Don’t be shy about making comments personally – even if it is just a short sentence or two.  I would suggest making it clear right at the top that you don’t want Bill 66.  I am afraid to say that at this point they are not likely to listen to what we say, but they will certainly tally up how many comments support or oppose the bill.

Please take two minutes to send a message to the Ontario Government to stop Bill 66:

COMMENT ON Omnibus Bill 66 HERE

DEADLINE SUNDAY: January 20th, 2019

You can also visit the Green Party of Ontario’s Defend The Greenbelt website.  If you feel you need assistance in using the comment process, the GPO advises you to Click here for step-by-step instructions to participate in the government consultation.

You can still use Hold The Line tool to send email to local politicians.


And of course we can always contact our Member of Provincial Parliament:
Michael Harris Jr, Kitchener-Conestoga, Progressive Conservative Party

Toronto:  tel 416 326-6945, fax 416 326-6942

Rm 434, Main Legislative Bldg, Queen’s Park M7A 1A8

Constituency office:  Unit 3 and 4, 63 Arthur St. S., Elmira, N3B 2M6

Mike.harrisco@pc.ola.org

Tel 519 669-2090, fax 519 669-0476

And you can also call the Premier’s Office directly!
Call 416 325-1941 and leave a short message re your concerns about Bill 66


Bill 66 Recent Articles and Background:

Pat Merlihan, Woolwich Township: Dear Mike Harris, MPP

Woolwich Observer: Groups call on townships to oppose province’s Bill 66

Elmira Advocate: ENVIRONMENT UNDER THREAT FROM BILL 66

Global: Walkerton residents worry about Ford government’s Bill 66

CTV: Local councils urge Ford government to protect farmland

CBC: Region of Waterloo won’t support Bill 66, votes to send message to province

theRecord: Region of Waterloo says no to Bill 66 — Jan. 9

Jenn Pfenning, Wilmot Council: Bill 66

theRecord: Proposed bill could lead to policy patchwork in Ontario endangering environmental protections and public health

theRecord: Local groups asking municipalities to reject Bill 66

theRecord: Waterloo Region politicians need to say no to Bill 66

Today’s Farmer: Waterloo Federation opposes Bill 66

Ontario Nature: Bill 66: What you need to know

New Hamburg Independent: Local groups asking municipalities to reject Bill 66

theRecord: Increasing the risk of another Walkerton

Toronto Star: That ‘red tape’ Ford is cutting? It was meant to protect the environment, workers, lives

Toronto Star: Developing the Greenbelt is a disaster on multiple levels

Canadian Environmental Law Association : Deregulation Redux: Ontario’s Environmental Laws under Attack (Again)

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TU mirror: Equalization Questions and Misconceptions

mirrored from @procedurepols former Thought Undermined website.


Originally published April 24th, 2014;
harts updated with 2015-17 economic data

(If you are looking for information about federal transfers to a certain province, or federal expenditures vs revenues in the provinces, please go to either this post for information about all federal transfers to all the provinces, and this post for a closer look at federal revenues and expenditures by province. For some reason, Google always directs people to this post only, which doesn’t really address those issues in detail.)

Equalization is the Government of Canada’s transfer program for addressing fiscal disparities among provinces. Equalization payments enable the recipient provinces to provide their residents with public services that are reasonably comparable to the national standard, at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. Not every province receives equalization transfers. Six provinces will receive equalization payments in 2016-17: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. The provinces that don’t receive equalization are frequently referred to as the “have” provinces and those that do receive money under this program as the “have-not” provinces, which is unfortunate and not an accurate representation of the actual state of affairs. There are also a number of misconceptions about the equalization program. Here I will address some of the most common.

1. Alberta pays for equalization

One of the common misconceptions is that equalization is entirely paid for by the so-called “have provinces”, notably Alberta. The keyword search activity on this blog regularly shows people searching for things such as “how much does each province pay for equalization”, “how much does province X contribute to equalization”, “province Y receives equalization money from province Z”, etc.  It isn’t uncommon to see comments on blogs or online media stories calling for Alberta to “pull out” the equalization program, or about how other provinces are spending the money they get from Alberta via transfer payments from that province. For example, on the Alberta Wild Rose Party website, we find the following:

Federal equalization and other wealth transfer programs were ostensibly intended to balance the quality of social programs across the country. Instead, what has happened is that the provinces benefiting most from these programs are now able to offer significantly more generous services to their citizens than the two or three provinces who are the actual net contributors (primarily Alberta and Ontario). It is no small irony that the biggest single beneficiary of such transfers, Quebec, provides cheap university tuition and inexpensive provincial day care, while Albertans pay high prices for, and have severe shortages of both in their own province. These annual wealth transfers also create the perverse incentive for ‘have-not’ provinces to retain fiscally irresponsible taxation and spending levels thereby remaining on the transfer dole in perpetuity.

Everything in that passage is simply incorrect (as will be explained in the rest of this post) and it is worrying that the party does not understand how equalization actually works (or maybe it does, but prefers to mislead). While some talk about money being transferred from one province to another, this is incorrect. All the money for equalization comes from Canadian taxpayers from across the country, including those in provinces which receive equalization transfers, and is shared among the provinces that fall below the national standard. Equalization is paid by the federal government to provincial governments and does not include any sharing of provincial revenues among provincial governments. Equalization funding is paid out from the federal government’s general revenues. The general revenues are the revenues the federal government collects from a wide variety of sources including: the federal personal income tax paid by all taxpayers in the country, the federal corporate income tax paid by all businesses in the country, GST revenue, revenue from customs and duties, resource revenue from federal sources, the federal portion of gasoline, alcohol and other taxes, etc. Provinces keep all the money they raise from resources and all their other tax bases. No provincial government funds go to support equalization. There is no special “equalization tax” or levy paid to the federal government by richer provinces such as Alberta, and even if the equalization program were cancelled tomorrow, this would not affect how much money the federal government collects from individuals and businesses in the forms of taxes, duties, etc. This can’t be stressed enough: no province “pays into equalization” – all individual taxpayers and businesses pay into the federal government’s general revenue fund, from which equalization is just one of many programs funded. So in answer to questions such as, how much money does Alberta transfer to Quebec or how much money does Alberta pay to equalization, the answer is simply “$0.00”. No province transfers any money to any other province. Individuals and corporations transfer money to the federal government.

In terms of federal government revenue collection by province, it is important to note that the federal government collects tax revenue in the provinces, not from the provinces. This distinction may appear subtle, but it has important implications. To say that the federal government collects taxes from provinces suggests either that the level of federal taxes people pay is related to their province of residence, or that the fiscal capacity of individual provincial governments is affected by how much federal tax is collected in their jurisdiction.

Neither of these statements is true, however. In fact, from the point of view of federal revenue collection, the very notion of “provinces” is irrelevant. Federal taxes do not differ by province; all Canadians pay federal tax at the same set of rates regardless of where they live.

Granted, Ottawa does collect more money in the form of personal and corporate incomes taxes, GST, etc. in provinces with larger populations and stronger economies than it does in provinces with smaller populations and weaker economies. I strongly encourage you to read this post for a closer look at federal revenues and expenditures by province in order to gain a better sense of what has been explained here, especially if you’re one of the many people who are looking for the answer to “Does Quebec pay more in federal tax than it receives in equalization?”

If you want to try to get a sense of how much tax revenue the federal government collects in each province from various sources (personal income, corporate, etc.), you can look at the various statistics available on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website. Please note that the data is never current (e.g. data is available for tax years 2006-2009, depending on the tax source).

2. How much has a province (e.g. Ontario or Alberta) contributed to equalization?

Again, as explained above, provinces don’t contribute to the equalization program. By that I mean, no province sends a specific amount of money to Ottawa to be used for equalization. The equalization program is paid for out of the federal government’s general revenues, which are collected in (not from) each province, including those that end up receiving equalization. The general revenues are the revenues the federal government collects from a wide variety of sources including: the federal personal income tax paid by all taxpayers in the country, the federal corporate income tax paid by all businesses in the country, GST revenue, revenue from customs and duties, resource revenue from federal sources, the federal portion of gasoline, alcohol and other taxes, etc. The existence of the equalization program has no effect on how much money is transferred from individuals and businesses in any province to the federal government.

3. When did Alberta (or any other province) start contributing to equalization?

As the explained in the previous two answers, provinces do not contribute to equalization. It is a federal program, paid for by the federal government, from its general revenues. All taxpayers in the country contribute to the general revenues of the federal government when they pay their personal income tax, sales tax, duties, corporate income tax, etc. Therefore, taxpayers in every single province have been contributing funds used for equalization (and every other federal government program) from the very first day the program started. There aren’t separate start dates for individual provinces, because Ottawa does not collect tax income from provinces, but from individuals.

4. Provinces which receive equalization are simply lazy/spend too much/just need to develop a work ethic and pay off their debts, are mismanaged economically, etc.

Eligibility for equalization is based on a province falling below a national per-capita income standard based on revenue from five different tax sources. It is not based on how much a province spends, if it runs a deficit, or if it has budgetary surpluses. A small province could consistently have a balanced budget, and budgetary surpluses, yet simply not be able to generate enough own-source revenue to meet the national standard for a multitude of reasons – smaller population, smaller tax base, lower average incomes, less corporate tax income, a downturn in international commodity prices for mineral resources, etc.

Even if a recipient province paid off its provincial debt, it is quite likely, under the current equalization scheme, that it would still qualify for equalization because it still would not raise enough own-source revenue from the five tax bases to meet the national standard. Prince Edward Island, for example, has a population of only 146,000. It is inconceivable that it will ever be able to generate enough own-source revenue from personal income tax, business income tax, consumption tax, property tax and natural resource revenues to meet a national standard based on all ten provinces, especially when you consider that many of those provinces have much larger populations and larger, more diversified economies (e.g. Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec). This has nothing to do with Islanders being lazy, not having work ethics, being “moochers” or not managing their provincial finances effectively. It is simply because they are a very small province and are thus limited in how much own-source revenue they can generate.

Similarly, the province of Ontario became eligible for equalization transfers for the first time in the province’s history in 2010-11. While the opposition parties in Ontario were quick to blame this situation on mismanagement by the governing Liberal Party, the real reason why Ontario now qualified for equalization was because the formula had changed to a true national standard, one which included all 10 provinces, and the inclusion of oil-rich Alberta into the calculation raised the national standard significantly. Under the old five-province formula, Ontario was the top-performing province. Other reasons explaining Ontario’s shift from “have” to “have-not” status included: booming commodity prices which benefited the resource-rich Western provinces, soaring energy prices and the soaring Canadian dollar, which both negatively impacted the manufacturing sector. These were all factors beyond the control of the Ontario government.

5. The recipient provinces could meet the national standard if they simply raised their taxes.

Again, as touched on above, this isn’t true. A small province such as Prince Edward Island simply doesn’t have the population to compete with a large province such as Ontario, or the resource base to compete with Alberta. And one of the key goals of the equalization program is to  enable less prosperous provincial governments to provide their residents with public services that are reasonably comparable to those in other provinces, at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. Also, in a highly competitive global market, provinces can’t raise taxes too much without hurting themselves and driving away investment and jobs. The recipient provinces already do tax their citizens and corporations more in many areas, as the chart below demonstrates (see point 9). Raising these various taxes even more would most likely have a negative effect on their economies, and still not be enough for them to not qualify for equalization.

Similarly, there are some critics of equalization who argue that equalization allows the recipient provinces to have higher taxes, which kills jobs and investments, so if we got rid of equalization, they’d have to lower their taxes to attract more investments and create jobs. This doesn’t even make any sense. Provinces aren’t deliberately overtaxing people and companies – provinces are constitutionally obligated to provide certain services such as education, healthcare, social welfare, etc. These are very expensive programs, in particular healthcare, which accounts for the biggest percentage of spending in every single province. Getting rid of equalization would simply make it more difficult for some provinces to pay for these services. Also, there are realistic limits to how much investment certain provinces will ever be able to attract. People may wish to debate the logic of having a province as small as Prince Edward Island, for example, but PEI is a province and it could declare itself a tax-free haven – it still wouldn’t be able to attract enough jobs and investment to fully fund the programs it needs to provide.

6. Equalization allows the poorer provinces to provide all kinds of social programs they couldn’t otherwise afford – subsidised by the rich provinces.

This argument usually refers to social programs that many consider “luxuries” rather than the social programs that all provinces are constitutionally obligated to provide such as healthcare, education, welfare, etc. and the criticism is normally aimed at the province of Quebec, which offers its citizens subsidised $7/day daycare, and the lowest university tuition rates in the country, for example.

However, as explained above, equalization eligibility is based on a province falling below a national per-capita income standard based on revenue from 5 different tax sources — personal income tax, business income tax, consumption tax, property tax and natural resource revenues. The provinces that receive equalization do so not because of how much they spend (or don’t spend) on social and other programs, but because they don’t raise enough own-source revenue from those five tax bases to reach the national standard. Remember that provinces also raise funds from many other sources of revenue not included in the equalization formula. The current equalization formula only considers 5 sources of revenue (the previous formula included 33 different tax bases). Quebec would still receive the same amount of equalization it currently gets even if it didn’t offer $7/day daycare or raised tuition fees significantly.  The issue isn’t really that Quebec does offer these programs to its citizens, but that other provinces which could maybe better afford them, choose not to offer such programs to their citizens.

7. Why does Quebec get so much equalization?

Of the six provinces receiving equalization in 2016-17, Quebec does receive the most in terms of total equalization payment, $10-bn. However, on a per capita basis, Quebec actually receives the second least amount of equalization. Quebec, like all recipient provinces, receives equalization based on two factors: its population, and because its fiscal capacity is below the average fiscal capacity of all provinces – known as the “10 province standard”. However, while Quebec’s fiscal capacity is below the 10 province standard, it is not that as far below the standard as some of the other recipient provinces since it has a fairly diversified and large economy, as well as being quite populous. On a per capita basis, Quebec gets only $1,213 per citizen from equalization. Ontario gets $167 per citizen. Ontario’s fiscal capacity is better than Quebec’s, and so it receives less equalization overall ($2.3-bn) and it has a much larger population – 13,792,100. Prince Edward Island is actually the province which benefits the most from equalization. It receives the smallest overall amount, $380-mn, but with a population of only 146,400, that works out to $2,603 per Islander. This chart shows how much equalization each province receives total, and per capita:

Province Population
2015
Total Equalization
2016-2017
(millions of $)
Equalization per capita
Quebec 8,263,600 $10,030 $1,213
Ontario 13,792,100 $2,304 $167
Manitoba 1,293,400 $1,736 $1,343
New Brunswick 753,900 $1,708 $2,265
Nova Scotia 943,000 $1,722 $1,826
PEI 146,400 $380 $2,603


8. How does each province spend the equalization money it receives?

It isn’t possible to know this. Equalization transfers are unconditional, meaning that there are no conditions attached to the money dictating how a province must allocate the funds. Recipient provinces are free to allocate the money according to their own priorities.

9. Equalization allows the recipient provinces to have much lower tax rates at the expense of the non-recipient provinces

If one compares the various income, sales and other tax rates of the provinces, it quickly becomes very clear that this argument simply does not hold up.

Major Provincial Tax Rates, 2015
(Source: Government of Alberta Budget documents)
(Rates as of 9 October 2015)

Type of Tax AB BC SK MB ON QC NB NS PEI NL
Personal Income Tax
Statutory rate range
Lowest rate (%) 10.00 5.06 11.00 10.80 5.05 16.00 9.68 8.79 8.80 7.70
Highest rate (%) 11.25 16.80 15.00 17.40 13.16 25.75 25.75 21.00 16.70 14.30
Surtax (%) 20.0/
36.0
10.0
Personal Amount ($) 18,214 9,928 15,639 9,134 9,863 11,425 9,633 8,481 7,708 8,767
Spousal Amount ($) 18,214 8,509 15,639 9134 8,375 11,425 8,180 8,481 6,546 7,164
Corporate Income Tax
General rate (%) 12.0 11.0 12.0 12.0 11.5 11.9 12.0 16.0 16.0 14.0
M&P rate (%) 12.0 11.0 10.0 12.0 10.0 11.9 12.0 16.0 16.0 5.0
Small business rate (%) 3.0 2.5 2.0 0 4.5 8.0 4.0 3.0 4.5 3.0
Small Business threshold ($000) 500 500 500 425 500 500 500 350 500 500
Capital Tax
General (max. %)
Financial institutions (max. %) 3.25 6.0 4.0 4.0 5.0 4.0
Other Taxes
Retail Sales Tax (%) 7.0 5.0 7.0 8.0 9.975 8.0 10.0 9.0 8.0
Gasoline Tax (cents/litre) 13.0 21.17 15.0 14.0 14.7 19.2 15.5 15.5 13.1 16.5
Tobacco Tax (dollars/carton) 50.00 47.80 50.00 59.00 27.95 29.80 38.00 51.04 50.00 47.00
Payroll Tax (max. %) 2.15 1.95 4.26 2.00

Related Posts:


The “Thought Undermined” website is no longer online.  The following information is too important to be allowed to slip away beneath the waves of Internet chaos.  Fortunately Radical Centrist [aka @procedurepols‘] published under a CC-BY-ND license. 

COPYRIGHT

Creative Commons License
EQUALIZATION QUESTIONS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
On procedure and politics:Equalization Questions and Misconceptions by Radical Centrist is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Security Certificates vs Human Rights

The first time I heard about Security Certificates was when a young woman stood up at the anti Bill C-51 Rally at Kitchener City Hall to talk about The Secret Trial Five documentary.

I didn’t really understand what the young woman who spoke was talking about, so I went to see the documentary.  And I was aghast.  Still am, in fact.

Adil Charkaoui and Hassan Almrei are the two Secret Trial 5 victims who have finally been released from this ordeal.

Canada’s pre-9/11 Security Certificate system was designed to give authorities the ability to quickly deport suspected terrorists.  The problem is that it does this without anything resembling legal process.   And at the end of the day, Canada can’t deport anyone to torture without breaking International Law or violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canada prides itself on being a “rule of law” country.

The Rule of Law: Common Definitions
1. a government bound by and ruled by law;
2. equality before the law;
3. the establishment of law and order;
4. the efficient and predictable application of justice; and
5. the protection of human rights.

Rachel Kleinfeld Belton

How can secret trials even happen under a rule of law?

One of the legal protections Canadians hold dear is the presumption of innocence.  It doesn’t matter if they charge us with a crime: in the eyes of the law, we are innocent until proven guilty.  But here, the accused must prove themselves innocent without even knowing what they’re accused of.

If someone accuses we want to face our accusers.  Don’t we have that right?

Even more important, we need to know what we are accused of… without knowing that, how can anyone defend themselves?

Three of the Secret Trial 5 continue to live in this legal hell which ought not be possible in any country claiming to operate under the rule of law.

Mahmoud Jaballah

Mohammad Zeki Mahjoub

Mohamed Harkat

Lillian Boctor‘s earlier documentary, “Secret Canada” dates back to 2012.  Watch the whole video here:

After nearly two decades of Canadian Government persecution, Sophie LaMarch Harkat wants the Security Certificate that could deport her husband to torture removed.

Please Sign Petition to Stop
My Husband’s Deportation to Torture

If you agree this should not be happening in Canada, please sign Sophie Harkat’s petition (above) and call or write to the government officials who have the power to change this.

You can use this handy form to send a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Goodale, with copies going to your MP, The  Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Phone: 613-992-4211
Fax: 613-941-6099
email: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
mailing address:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Ralph Goodale
Phone: 613-947-1153
email: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca
mailing address:
House of Commons
Ottawa. ON K1A 0A6

Ahmed Hussen MP, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
email:  ahmed.hussen@parl.gc.ca
mailing address:
House of Commons
Ottawa. ON K1A 0A6

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice, Attorney General of Canada
email:  jody.wilson-raybould@parl.gc.ca
mailing address:
House of Commons
Ottawa. ON K1A 0A6

Global Migration Film Festival

Many Canadians never think about how and why our ancestors came here.

My father’s ancestors emigrated to North America from Alsace in the early 1800s.  Although no one knows why they came, it may have been that they were German at a time Alsace was in French hands, but it was probably economic.  They entered the US at Batavia New York and wandered around a lot before setting roots in the vicinity of Walkerton, ON.

In the early 20th Century—as a very young woman—my paternal grandmother emigrated to Canada all on her own.  She left Germany at the height of the post WWI runaway inflation, so economic chaos may have been part of the reason she came, there’s also a story about an unsuitable romance her family wanted to break up.

And my mother and her brother were the only children in her family to be born here after her family fled the Russian Revolution.  So my forbears certainly include refugees.

All three of these stories fuels my interest in history, and stirs my curiosity.  There are many reasons for migration.

I just discovered the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership is hosting a Global Migration Film Festival that will run through December.  I’ve already missed a few films I would very much have liked to see, but the remaining lineup of documentary films looks pretty spectacular.

Lately some extremist politicians have made some negative pronouncements on recent global migration.  When we meet people from other cultures, when we see them as the real live living breathing human beings they are, it becomes much more difficult to dehumanize them.   Waterloo Region owes a lot of its success to the fact it has long been a destination for Canadian Immigrants.

Come see the films and listen to the stories.  Get to know something about some of the people who have come—or will come—here.  And bring a friend or several!

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Bushfallers – A Journey of Chasing Dreams
6 p.m.  at the Queen Street Commons Café
43 Queen Street South, Kitchener, ON
MOVIE TRAILER:

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

A Thousand Girls Like Me
7 p.m. at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts
60 Dickson Street, Cambridge,ON
MOVIE TRAILER:

Friday, December 14th, 2018

I Am Rohingya: A Genocide in Four Acts
6 p.m. at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
101 Queen St N, Kitchener
MOVIE TRAILER:

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Abu Adnan
6 p.m. at the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda
200 King St W, Kitchener, ON
MOVIE TRAILER:

Salaam B’y – A Story of a Muslim Newfoundlander
7 p.m. at the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda
Kitchener City Hall Rotunda
MOVIE TRAILER:

#BCpoli: Real People Choose #ProportionalRepresentation

Film maker Joel Ashton McCarthy has turned his talents toward promoting Proportional Representation in the BC Referendum.

Joel crowd sourced his excellent video, again demonstrating ordinary people think Proportional Representation and democracy are important.

How can they call a system that routinely gives 100% power to candidates & parties who’ve won less than a majority of the votes a democracy?

Instead of providing representation to as many voters as possible, our “First Past the Post” system disfranchises most of us.

The only real majority government (elected with 50+% of the votes) elected in BC was the BC Liberals who were elected on a promise of electoral reform in 2001.  But once they had 100% power in hand, they lost interest in adopting fairer elections. In fact, the idea that Proportional Representation would limit their future power to what they earn in votes lost all its charm.  They designed the 2005 Referendum to fail.

Even with 57.7% of the voters voting to adopt Single Transferable Vote Proportional Representation in the 1st BC Referendum, it failed.   Even so, it was a little too close for comfort, so they worked even harder to keep it from being adopted in the second referendum.  Nothing changed and the BC Liberals enjoyed nearly 2 decades of majority power without ever winning a majority of votes again.

Politicians across Canada and around the world stack the deck against meaningful electoral reform.  In the UK they promised electoral reform but managed to keep a Proportional Representation option off the referendum ballot.   The status quo serves them an unfair advantage they just can’t resist.

Justin Trudeau's Election Promise: "We will make every vote count."In spite of the mind numbing voter apathy that arises from votes that don’t count,  enough ordinary people have begun to understand the issue– and care– that the push for electoral reform has never gone away.  Instead, it is growing stronger every day.

Mr Trudeau’s promise of voting reform resonated so strongly with Canadian voters because we knew our system was not working well.  When Mr Trudeau broke his promise it didn’t kill off the idea of voting reform forever, as he clearly intended.  Instead, the net effect of has been to galvanize Canadians.  The genie is out of the bottle, and is not going back.

PEI picks PR (Brigitte Werner's photo dedicated to the Public Domain with CC0)PEI voters voted to adopt Proportional Representation, but their government refused to go through with it, so they’re going to have a second referendum.   And the ruling party has bent over backward trying to design an iron-clad-can’t-possibly-pass referendum process for the next one.

All the Quebec opposition parties got together and made a pact that whichever formed government would just go ahead and implement Proportional Representation.

And right now BC is having its 3rd Referendum.  Votes must be in by December 7th, 2018.

Looks like we’re at a tipping point, folks.  Something is going to give. And when it does, it will be clear that the fearmongers defending the status quo have been dishonest with Canadians.  Voters will discover what representative democracy is supposed to be like.  And the sky won’t fall.

Once that happens, the dominoes will fall.  Which province will be first?

If you’re in BC, make sure to vote. Maybe your province will lead the way!

The fair vote Canada guy sports a Canadian Flag cape: No More Wasted Votes

And don’t forget to subscribe to the filmmaker on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujB8KLFtAjA  and on Twitter where @joel_mccarthy will keep you informed on how to get your ballot in if you haven’t mailed it in yet.

 

 

My Submission to the Ontario Consultation: A made-in-Ontario climate change plan

The first thing we need is to keep the independent watchdog agency, the Ontario Environmental Commissioner. Ms Saxe has done a good job, and her 2018 report should be adopted. It is a lot more economical to limit water pollution than pay the price to clean it up afterward. We need to commit funding to programs that protect municipal drinking water sources, as well as increase the protection of wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife across the province. Currently it is getting harder and in many places impossible for homeowners to get home insurance against flooding. One reason basement floods are becoming more prevalent is the loss of wetlands. So increasing the protection of wetlands is essential. Woodlands and wildlife across the province need protection too.

After all, we can’t exist without water.

You’ve asked about the effects that climate change is having on our households, businesses, communities and public infrastructure. Here in Waterloo Region we’re increasingly having extreme weather events. “100 year storms” are happening yearly. In this century in Elmira we’ve had several ice storms, with trees coming down ripping into homes. I understand basement floods are so prevalent that homeowners can’t get insurance to cover them. Even though some governments don’t believe in climate change, the building standards for eavestroughs have changed to accommodate the torrential downpours we get almost every rainfall now. Such rain used to be the exception, now it’s the norm. With all the ice storms, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get our hydro lines underground.

The most valuable help you can give homeowners is subsidies to facilitate retrofitting existing homes.

We also need to protect our water sources for municipal water supplies so we don’t have another Walkerton.

The best way to hold polluters accountable is putting a price on carbon. While I agree cap and trade wasn’t the ideal way to go about it, the federal government’s fee and dividend system is a better choice. Don’t waste our tax dollars fighting a no-win battle.

Binding emission targets can be legislated so we can keep Global warming to 1.5%. We need a 15% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020, 37% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, and we can be Net Carbon Neutral by 2050. Government has the power to jump start change with legislation. Mandate all government buildings and operations move to zero carbon.

The province needs to support the clean economy, but also support energy efficiency and conservation. We can do that by investing in public transit, and switching to electric buses and trains, and replacing gas stations with charging stations. People want to switch to electric vehicles but many can’t afford it without subsidies.

We need serious investment in cycling infrastructure. New York City has discovered that reducing street parking in favor of protected bike lanes makes the brick and mortar stores in our towns and cities prosper.

Intensification of housing in our urban cores especially along existing public transit lines. This will help keep our farmland and greenbelts secure, so we will have food security.

The greatest efficiency the government can make would be to wind down our nuclear plants whilst ramping up alternative energy initiatives. Wind and solar are only part of the story, geothermal is good too. Encouraging micro energy generation, especially for farmers and folks living in rural Ontario would help them help themselves. As they do in Europe, small biogas genberators can be fuelled by organic waste generated by the farm property would help make them secure.

But we really need to do what’s necessary to protect our environment.

 


Today is the deadline to submit.
https://www.ontario.ca/form/tell-us-your-ideas-climate-change

Lest We Forget

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D.

Remembrance Day is supposed to be about remembering our war dead.  Although Canadians are told the red poppy sold by the Royal Canadian Legion is supposed to symbolize all war dead, in truth the red poppy symbol has become synonymous with Canadian military veterans and their families in Canada.

Whenever Remembrance Day rolls around, the focus is always on the two World Wars of the 20th Century.  Yet World War I wasn’t called World War until there was a second World War.  The war that inspired Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem was originally known as “The War to End All Wars.”

But as often happens, the haunting words of Dr McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” were used almost from the start as a war promotion.

It is one of the most quoted poems from the war. As a result of its immediate popularity, parts of the poem were used in efforts and appeals to recruit soldiers and raise money selling war bonds. Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. The poem and poppy are prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, particularly in Canada, where “In Flanders Fields” is one of the nation’s best-known literary works. The poem is also widely known in the United States, where it is associated with Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Wikipedia

In Flanders fields the poppies grow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. -- John McCrae Although we are admonished “lest we forget,” war is still very much with us.  And perhaps the most frightening thing about it is that Canada has been at war for most of the 21st Century, but we are barely aware of this fact.  Think of any WWI war movie; no matter where it’s set, everyone everywhere, whether or not they supported the war, everyone  was acutely aware it was going on.

Viet Nam changed all that.

When the people at home were faced with the unromanticized horrors of war, up close and personal at their dinner tables, an anti war movement of epic proportions arose, making it near impossible to keep the war going.

Governments learned from this mistake, and so the news coverage shared with the populace in the Main Stream Media is carefully managed.

Here in Canada, those of us at home are barely aware we’re at war at all.  Many still bask in the outdated notion that the Canadian military is engaged in Peacekeeping. To get a real look at what the situation actually is, we need to know the facts. Fortunately, the Internet allows us to discover what the MSM fails to tell us.

That’s why I believe this video of Tamara LorinczKeynote I recorded at the KWPeace Perspectives on Peace 2018 Symposiumis so important.

Canadians need to know.

I’ve heard it said one reason the Canadian Government (whether run by Conservatives or Liberals) insists it can’t afford to adequately compensate our war veterans is because advances in medical technology means 21st Century veterans are much more likely to survive than WWI vets.  It used to be that most casualties in war were sustained by the military, but these days that is no longer anywhere close to being true: civilian casualties vastly surpass those of the military.

What Colour is your Poppy?

Even though funds raised through red poppy sales are ostensibly to help our veterans, the symbol is so entwined with the mythos of war that I personally can no longer bear to wear one.

The Canadian Voice of Women For Peace champions the white poppy in Canada with its own White Poppy Campaign. The white poppy is the only one for me because it truly symbolizes all the casualties of war, winners and losers, soldiers and civilians, and just as important, it asks for peace.

—Laurel L. Russwurm
November 11th, 2018



Tamara Lorincz is a Balsillie School PhD Student, and a member of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace https://vowpeace.org/ ans a member of • Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space http://www.space4peace.org/

Tamara Lorincz’s Slides are available at  http://kwpeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/…

Subscribe to the KWPeace Event Calendar https://kwpeace.ca/ to keep abreast of Waterloo Region Peace and Justice events.