An Open Letter to Canada’s Industry Minister James Moore

“Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.” That from Federal Minister of Industry James Moore who is also the Member of Parliament for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam. He says it’s the responsibility of the provinces to deal with child poverty, and Ottawa has no plans to step in.

Federal minister says child poverty not Ottawa’s problem


Dear Minister Moore:

Uncivilized societies expel the aged, the infirm and the poor, leaving them to their fate. Civilized societies are supposed to care for all their members, including the poor and the weak.

In the days before Income Tax, Canadians made donations and contributed to charitable organizations; many paid tithes to our churches with the expectation they would look out for the poor. Many more simply fed the unemployed folks who showed up at our doors looking for food.

Over time, as we spread out and diversified, it seemed like a good idea for the government to take on this work.  Canadians pay a great deal of money to the Government of Canada in the form of Income Tax, which was supposed to be a temporary War Measure.  This money is supposed to pay for infrastructure as well as social programs,  because we want a civil society.    We pay our taxes with the expectation the government will ensure all Canadians, children and adults, will have the necessities of life.

As Corporate Tax rates have declined, Canadian Income Tax rates have risen. But even with the high proportion of taxes we pay, our governments at all levels are letting the most vulnerable Canadian citizens down.

Food banks, once thought to be a temporary emergency measure, have become a staple. Instead of our government making adequate provisions for the welfare of all Canadians, working Canadians must increase our support of Food Banks — in addition to our high levels of Income Tax — because the government is NOT doing its part.

What does our high rate of Income Tax support if Canadian Children are still going hungry?

The argument that child poverty is exclusively a provincial concern doesn’t wash. If Provincial Governments lack the wherewithal to deal with child poverty, it is because the Federal Government has failed to provide sufficient funding. The reality is that all levels of government are funded by the very same taxpayers.

Canadians are rapidly learning all Federal Government control is centralized in the PMO and Cabinet under our current political system.   You enjoy the privilege of being a Cabinet Minister, but that job  carries with it a responsibility to your constituency.  While your MP constituency may be limited to citizens of the Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam electoral district, your Ministerial constituency encompasses all Canadians.   Even me.

Tell you what, Mr. Moore, if the Harper Government stops collecting Income Tax, Canadians will step up and reclaim the task of caring for our poor.  Then we can decide for ourselves if our money would be better spent on corporate welfare — like giving banks bail-outs and paying for Tar Sands advertising —  or on human welfare — like feeding needy Canadians – most of whom are children.

Until that happens, though, it *is* your job, as a Federal Minister, as a Member of Parliament, as a Canadian PUBLIC SERVANT, to make sure that Canadian children have the necessities of life.

Regards,
Laurel L. Russwurm


James Moore, Minister of Industry
The real question is why do the citizens of James Moore‘s electoral district, Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam keep feeding James Moore?

This petition calling for James Moore’s resignation suggests I am not the only Canadian offended by this powerful Harper Government Minister’s cavalier dismissal of the needs of Canadian children.



Update

Today James Moore issued an apology on his website for “an insensitive comment.” He regrets making such a comment.

It almost sounds as though he might have read my letter, as he talks about how all levels of government and society need to care for those in need.

But then he goes on to talk about the great work that has been done to tackle poverty and its associated challenges. That’s where he lost me. In November of this year, CBC reported that the province which sent James Moore to Parliament, B.C. has highest child poverty rate in Canada: report

Yes, many hardworking selfless individuals have struggled mightily to battle the poverty that engulfs so many Canadians, most of them children. But it will not improve so long as the Federal Government fails to provide real funding.

First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition noted [in a July, 2013] press release that when you delve deeper into family types the numbers get worse. For lone-parent mothers the poverty rate soared moving from 16.4% to 24.6%, representing 27,000 children. For two-parent families with children the numbers experiencing poverty grew as well by 10,000 to a total of 61,000 children. This is shocking for a one-year time period.

While the BC government is reticent to implement a provincial poverty plan, they did attempt to work with seven cities across BC to establish local poverty strategies. No funding was given to the cities and regions were left to develop their own initiative based on local services. Since this announcement in April 2012, there has been no update from the BC government on the status of these ‘plans’ or poverty in these communities. Looking at the recent numbers, the patchwork anti-poverty programs and focus on jobs is not enough to address poverty.

Canada Without Poverty: Updated Numbers Released

Clearly, there will be no meaningful improvement until all levels of government — starting at the Federal Level — do more than mouth meaningless platitudes. That a Federal Cabinet Minister could even think such a thing, let alone say it aloud to a reporter demonstrates insensitivity and a shocking disconnect from the real world where the rest of Canada lives.

Mr. Moore has apologized for his personal insensitivity, but has he reversed his position? When Ebenezer Scrooge had his eyes opened, he demonstrated his change in attitude with concrete actions. James Moore offers only hollow words instead of any concrete actions.

I am sorry such a man is a Canadian Cabinet Minister. That’s why I urge every Canadian to sign the petition:

change.org: James Moore, MP, Minister of Industry: Resign as MP

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves
Image Credit:

James Moore by Heather/Kashmera released inder a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

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Democracy #fail

In my experience, every time anyone suggests “Strategic Voting” a closer look shows that the real reason someone is telling me to vote strategically is because I will be voting in their candidate, not mine.

graphic logo depicting parliament suspended by a noose from a gibbet

I haven’t had time to look into this exhaustively   (after all I’m supposed to be revising my first draft not blogging)   but this morning I just heard about something that sounded like strategic voting being suggested in the UK — where the ill advised Digital Economy bill was rushed through the legislative procedure without anything resembling proper scrutiny — on the eve of an election.   Since there’s a Fair Vote Canada debate on the topic of Strategic Voting scheduled this month I thought I’d take a quick peek at Hang ’em

It looks like the UK’s “Hung Parliament” idea is a bit different than Canadian strategic voting.   The idea of this seems to be prevention a majority government.

Once installed, majority governments have a nasty tendency to rule dictatorially.

Because they can.

The reasons for promoting a “Hung Parliament” seem much the same as mine for opposing majority government here in Canada.   We need to achieve something a lot closer to democracy, and so long as Canada has alternating ruling parties we are unlikely to get the electoral reform we so desperately need.

This is definitely something to look into further, and watch very carefully, since all the pundits seem to be fortelling a 2010 Canadian Federal Election.   This is a crucial issue, particularly at a time when the entire world is undergoing such revolutionary changes courtesy of the Internet.   Clearly a great majority of the UK Members of Parliament who rushed to implement their Digital Economy Bill did not understand it.

Minority governments, elections and prorogations have thus far saved Canada from being been victimized by bad copyright reforms.   Last year’s Canada wide copyright consultation process seemed very positive.   Yet there have been indications that the magnificent outpouring that the copycon prompted from informed citizens may well have been a sham, and there are very real fears that this government intends to ignore this democratic input.   The fact that Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore’s recent behaviour has prompted Michael Geist to dub him the iPadlock minister seems to indicate that bad laws similar to the DEBill may well be coming down on Canada.

Canadian politicians, like politicians the world over, are being mercilessly pressured by foreign interests.   American tools like the USTR Watch List exist simply to try to intimidate other countries into legislating against their own sovereign interest and in favor of American corporate interests.   Adding secret copyright treaties like Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (A.C.T.A.) to the mix only makes it worse.

Not so Secret A.C.T.A. Treaty negotiations

Oh, yes, they did make one draft public, but only because of continuous advocacy by concerned people like:

along with organizations like

These three organizations are all American based, which seems a clear indication that one of the worst things about this American driven Intellectual Property or Copyright Reform is that it’s a case of the American government effectively working against American citizens in favor of American corporate interests.

The point is, that most of the people promoting and passing the legislation don’t understand the issues.   It is bad enough to be saddled with bad laws because the government thinks they are good. It is inexcusable to be saddled with bad laws because of government ignorance.   If it’s worth making the laws, its worth understanding them. But the bottom line is that all of this concern for IP is an excuse to attempt to impose government control over the Internet.   Rushing to push through laws to control the internet — without understanding the Internet– is simply madness.

This type of lawmaking is clearly a failure of democracy. Many citizens are unhappy with the democratic erosion that seems to be increasing exponentially. Democracy is important to us.

I think this “Hang ‘Em” idea may have potential.