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I haven't posted here for quite some time now but this message from Global Research to me  I feel needs to be made as public as possible.

Global Research E-Newsletter

To Me

May 3 at 4:26 PM

The Benghazi Scandal Is Obama’s Watergate But Worse

By Joachim Hagopian

Global Research, May 02, 2014

Url of this article:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-benghazi-scandal-is-obamas-watergate-but-worse/5380238


A trail of emails released Tuesday appears to shed yet more light on the Benghazi cover-up story that continues to nag President Obama and then Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. The latest exposure indicates that both Obama and Clinton knew that UN Secretary Susan Rice’s claim to the press that the attack on the Benghazi compound killing Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was due to an anti-Moslem youtube video was a complete lie. This latest piece of incriminating evidence is what Republicans are now calling their “smoking gun” despite months that have stretched into years of the Congressional investigation led by Representative Darrel Issa (R-CA). His so called investigation that was supposed to uncover the truth behind that fateful day of September 11th, 2012 has often been labeled “a witch hunt” by Democrats and supporters of Obama and Hillary Clinton.

This week’s news may be the needed breakthrough that will ultimately lead to the unveiling of what many critics of the Obama administration have been claiming all along. And that is Obama and Hillary purposely withheld the truth from the American public for fear that it would derail Obama’s reelection less than two months after the death of the four Americans in Benghazi. In retrospect now Obama’s rush to war in Syria last September is far better understood when taking a hard look at the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack.

The so called Arab spring uprising revolts in Middle Eastern and North African nations in fact have been the result of covert manipulation by the CIA. After getting rid of our one time allies in Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, next on the US regime-change hit list came Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. In 2007 retired General Wesley Clark revealed a neocon plan he became privy to a couple weeks after 9/11 of the ambitious Bush administration agenda to take down seven sovereign governments in the next five years that included Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Iran.

With gusto President Obama inherited this same agenda and proceeded to finish the job in removing Libya’s longtime dictator Gaddafi. And so began the NATO air bombardment of Libya killing many innocent victims that softened the resistance to an all out assault on Gaddafi’s military forces largely spearheaded by al Qaeda mercenaries from all over the Middle East as well as native Libyan al Qaeda affiliated militia groups, some from Benghazi.

In the spring of 2011 even prior to Gaddafi’s capture and killing, as an envoy to the rebel coalition the future Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens was sent to Benghazi, a city in eastern Libya that has long been a hotbed of Islamic extremism that includes various Al Qaeda affiliated groups and militias. Stevens spoke Arabic and had twenty years of foreign diplomatic service experience when he was selected to become the Ambassador after the fall of the Gaddafi government. The State Department resent him to work back in Benghazi rather than the Libyan capitol Tripoli to assist the area’s transition to the new puppet government the US had installed. But because Benghazi and eastern Libya had a history of resisting national governance, Stevens faced an uphill struggle and near impossible task. Beginning in June of 2012, a full three months prior to the Benghazi embassy compound attack that killed the Ambassador and three other Americans, Stevens’ requests for increased security began falling on deaf ears in Washington. Stevens’ boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, failed to heed any of his increasingly urgent calls. Just days prior to the embassy onslaught, the British consulate had been attacked and all its diplomatic staff were safely evacuated away.

Last year efforts to blame Stevens for irresponsibly turning down security offered in Benghazi were anonymously leaked, insisting that the ambassador twice had turned down offers of increased military security from AFRICOM commander General Ham.

For obvious reasons the now retired general refuses to discuss what he knew or did not know of the events leading up to the Benghazi attack. However, throughout the aftermath of the Americans’ deaths, Stevens’ own deputy ambassador Gregory Hicks in Tripoli has maintained that he never knew of any such alleged offers made to Stevens for more security.

Since the strategy targeting Ambassador Stevens as the sole reason for the lack of security at his embassy compound clearly backfired, a whitewashed report was released last year by the Accountability Review Board. The two men behind this report are Hillary’s buddies Ambassador Pickering and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullens. Thus no surprise that they decided from the outset that it would not be necessary to even bother to interview Hillary, satisfied to blame it on lower level State Department bureaucrats’ error in judgment not to supply adequate security. The alleged failure to authorize proper military security was because the Benghazi compound was relegated to being a temporary outpost. Of course this is just another feeble attempt to shield Queen Hillary who sent Stevens herself to Benghazi fully aware of it being an al Qaeda trouble spot.

But Benghazi under the cover of the State Department was ideal for the covert CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) needed to coordinate arms smuggling that Obama, Hillary and then CIA Director Petraeus were knee deep in. Stevens ultimately may have felt he was being used as the convenient decoy for the clandestine activity he wanted no part of.

Years earlier as a former Peace Corps volunteer and a seasoned career diplomat, becoming a lookout for an immoral criminal gun running operation may not have been what he had signed on for as the Libyan Ambassador. Thus, he very likely voiced his objection to what his bosses in Washington were misusing him for, and as vindictive and petty as Obama and Hillary are, Stevens was likely punished for not going along with their program. Hence, all his urgent pleas that began as early as June 2012, a full three months prior to the September attack, requesting increased security were ignored, including his desperate cry for help moments before his murder on the night of the 11th. Meanwhile, as he and three other Americans lay dying, back in the States Obama was flying out West to another high brow fundraiser so he could self-servingly get reelected.

What is most certain is that this trouble spot region was the hub of activity for special ops units comprised of special forces and a large number of CIA operatives in conjunction with British MI6. The CIA safely defended annex in Benghazi a mere mile and a half from the embassy compound was the largest CIA station in North Africa. The annex housed 35 CIA personnel responsible for coordinating the large arms smuggling operation to Syria, circumventing Congress by calling the CIA mission a liaison operation.

Two former special ops operatives Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy, authors of ‘Benghazi: The Definitive Report,’ have since claimed that a bureaucratic breakdown in communication between CIA and JSOC caused local Benghazi radicals to attack and kill Americans on 9/11/12. They believe that just days before an assassination carried out by Special Operations of a popular Libyan CIA informant had angered an al Qaeda affiliated militia called Ansar al-Sharia to launch the attack as retribution. The former Special Ops boys, one of whom was friends with one of the killed Americans Glen Doherty, speculated that the root cause of the American embassy deaths was the result of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing in the over-compartmentalized, ultra-guarded secrecy of competing clandestine intelligence operations and that this problem commonly serves as a major barrier and significant dysfunction of American foreign policy in general. They believe the Ambassador was probably only peripherally aware of the high presence of CIA and JSOC operations in the area but was never directly involved or looped in.

This claim appears to be a disinformation ploy to again absolve the higher ups Obama and Clinton of any responsibility. It did little to quiet the conjecture surrounding the attack that Stevens knew too much and had become a thorn in the side of the hierarchical status quo.

Though the former special ops authors may have offered small minor details on the Benghazi story, obviously far more was going down than they alluded to. On October 26th, 2012 a mere two weeks prior to the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell affair broke as the scandalous headlines, Broadwell hyping her ‘All In’ biography of the general spoke at the University of Denver divulging her inside scoop on the Benghazi attack that had taken place a month and a half earlier. She claimed the attack on the compound was probable payback for CIA detaining local members from the same Libyan militia responsible for the assault. Or that the attackers may have been attempting to free their prisoners. Though only one news reporter from Fox paid any attention to Paula at the time, once their tryst was exposed a short time afterwards, much speculation raised the issue that Broadwell unwittingly revealed classified information that could well have been leaked through her intimacy with the then CIA Director. That the mistress was privy to such insider lowdown compromising sensitive US intelligence operations headquartered at the CIA Benghazi annex is a very real possibility, especially since classified documents were later uncovered at her North Carolina home.

In view of the CIA’s fervent denial that any prisoners were detained in Benghazi and Obama’s January 2009 executive order outlawing the CIA business of holding prisoners, Paula shooting her mouth off as an insider know-it-all implicated her lover Petraeus and his CIA as criminals engaging in an unlawful operation. But then that illegal activity amounts to small peanuts in comparison to the much bigger crime being committed by her lover CIA boss Petraeus and his crime bosses Obama and Hillary for using the same Libyan al Qaeda militants who murdered the four Americans on 9/11/12 to smuggle guns from Benghazi across international borders to be used against Assad in Syria.

Despite Ambassador Stevens’ repeated requests for more security, it was never given. So when about 150 members of the local militia Ansar al-Sharia stormed the gates of the compound carrying machine guns and rocket propelled grenades (RPG’s), the handful of unarmed Libyan security contractors instantly fled and soon enough the building was engulfed in flames. The nearby annex in Benghazi where thirty-five CIA operatives worked was called during the crisis to assist those Americans at the embassy. CIA security officer Tyrone Woods convinced his supervisor at the annex with five other security personnel to rush to the embassy’s aid. Both Woods and Glen Doherty were former Navy Seals commandos who died from bullet wounds at the second attack at the annex killed by a mortar after Sean Smith, an information officer, and Ambassador Stevens had already died from smoke inhalation. According to authors Webb and Murphy, due to Woods and Doherty’s heroics along with four other CIA analysts, the remaining embassy staff were apparently able to safely escape the burning compound. An overhead surveillance drone had been dispatched above the compound prior to that second attack that occurred at the annex. President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and CIA Director Petraeus were all informed of the crisis unfolding during the afternoon local Washington time. Yet they chose to not even bother contacting the Marines stationed in the capital Tripoli, allegedly figuring they would take too long to arrive on the scene in Benghazi. So after ignoring the Ambassador’s pleas urging for more security for three straight months, they coldly refused to order any further military assistance at the time the four Americans lost their lives.

Instead they ordered UN Ambassador Susan Rice to later lie to the American public claiming that the attack was instigated by that anti-Moslem youtube video. Under the increasing pressure of Benghazi questions, suddenly Hillary keeled over with a brain clot to conveniently dodge any more heat. And of course Petraeus was soon engulfed in scandal with his mistress Broadwell, retiring from the CIA and out of sight for months thereafter, conveniently ducking from his hot seat. And then soon enough Clinton was resigning as Secretary of State, evading any further scrutiny as the Ambassador’s boss most responsible for the deaths of the four Americans.

Another piece of incriminating evidence is that the FBI team sent in to investigate the Benghazi murders never even arrived at the crime scene until three weeks after the attack, making sure that vital forensic evidence could be conveniently lost, confiscated or destroyed. Despite having videotape that allowed individual attackers to be identified by name, they all still remain free to this day. Eleven months after the attack the US Justice Department last August in a hollow gesture officially charged the alleged suspects in a sealed indictment. But without them in custody, it means nothing.

Clinton strategically figured she would lay low long enough out of the public spotlight to effectively distance herself from Benghazi to make another run for President in 2016. But while briefly still back on the job and those nagging Benghazi questions weren’t going away fast enough, she completely lost it, screaming, “What difference at this point does it make?” – obviously all the difference in the world to her and her buddy Barrack. On 9/11 the year before last, Obama, Clinton and Petraeus sacrificed four American lives that day to preserve their own careers as powerful evil despots who with blind ambition would stop at nothing to remain in power.

President Obama and Hillary Clinton have both gone to great lengths to make sure that their cover-up concealing the truth never gets exposed. With the attack taking place less than two months prior to Obama’s reelection, they are determined that the truth never sees the light of day. However, big cracks are looming in their wall of defense and their lies are falling like a house of cards. Mounting evidence indicates both Obama and Clinton were engaged in a highly covert and illicit arms smuggling operation moving weapons from Libya through Turkey to the anti-Assad rebels in Syria. And at stake for Obama and Clinton was their future plans to win the presidential election in 2012 and 2016.

On August 2nd, 2013 three full weeks prior to the sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburb killing scores of Syrian civilians including children, UK’s Telegraph reporter Damien McElroy wrote an article asserting that Obama and Hillary are guilty as charged, engaging in a gun-running operation that included surface to air missiles and even chemical weapons speculating that a “false flag operation” might occur as a deceptive ploy to make false accusations against Assad. Again, this article came out three weeks PRIOR to Obama accusing Assad of using chemical weapons. No coincidence in the timing. Since then renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh who broke the My Lai massacre story and cover-up during the Vietnam War and a host of other journalists have since provided convincing evidence that the chemical attack last August was committed by US backed al Qaeda rebels.

And those 35 CIA agents stationed at the nearby Benghazi annex, word came out that every month since the event they have been required to undergo polygraph tests just to ensure they keep quiet. One insider even told CNN last year, “You jeopardize your family as well if you talk to anyone about what happened.”

Aside from Obama, Hillary and Petraeus evading accountability at all cost, what is most incriminating is that the very same Al Qaeda jihadists armed, financed and supported with American taxpayer dollars during the Libyan regime-change are the exact same individuals who have gotten away with murdering those four Americans in Benghazi. For more than three years now America and Saudi Arabia have been sponsoring and funding al Qaeda affiliated militia groups from all over the Middle East and North Africa fighting Assad forces in Syria in the latest regime-change war. When the murders went down on 9/11/12, Hillary’s State Department had been acting as a cover supporting al Qaeda elements smuggling arms to Syria to fight in that so called civil war. Much of Gaddafi’s huge stash of arms had been looted, falling into the hands of American-backed rebel forces in Libya, including chemical weapons that were never accounted for. By pure accident, the Benghazi tragedy reveals the ongoing war by proxy that the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been waging against Syria and its strongest allies Iran and Russia.

As a side note, ex-CIA Director Petraeus was allowed to retain his full status as a retired four star general at full pay despite committing adultery while still serving as Afghanistan War commander when military personnel of lower rank are customarily demoted and forced to retire at a lower pension rate for the exact same offense of adultery. Mistress Paula Broadwell also suffered no formal consequence regarding her retention rank as major in the US Army Reserves. It seems obvious that Petraeus has been rewarded for his loyal silence on the Benghazi incident. Additionally, several days after Petraeus ducked out of sight in disgrace after resigning as CIA Director, Petraeus’ wife as the victim of his adulterous affair was suddenly being promoted by Obama to a new cushy position made especially for her earning near Petraeus’ retirement pension of $200,000 per year.

Then just over a week after his CIA resignation Petraeus was called in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee but given a free pass in his not having to testify under a sworn oath to disclose the full truth of what he knew. So he proceeded to lie before Congress claiming that he consistently said that an al Qaeda affiliated militia group was behind the attack. In fact Petraeus secretly flew to Libya immediately after the attack and upon his return to the US a couple days later Petraeus held the official administration line they knew to be false that the Benghazi attack was due to the bogus anti-Moslem video. Of course with the scandal causing his own presidential ambitions to be thoroughly shattered, Petraeus more recently has gone on public record stating that Hillary Clinton would make “an excellent president.” Clearly he is towing the line as a good little boy for keeping his mouth shut for Hillary and Barrack.

Obama lied when he promised to ensure that those guilty of the attack would be brought to justice. Now going on two years later not one of the attackers has even been apprehended or arrested. With the murderers in the Benghazi assault still at large, many of the attackers afterwards moved on with the arms they were helping to smuggle to join US-supported rebel forces fighting the Assad government in Syria. They may have been silenced by now, secretly killed by judge, jury and executioner President Obama in his lust to kill his enemies with drone missile attacks. In any event, rest assure none of the perpetrators behind the Benghazi attack will ever be captured alive or prosecuted. They simply know too much. Last 9/11/13 barely a peep was heard from the mainstream media on the very first anniversary of the Benghazi tragedy. The reason is all too obvious.

Many of the family members of the murdered Americans felt that Obama and his administration were responsible for their loved ones deaths. Some complained about Obama’s condolences as brusk, insincere and insensitive. They were disturbed further with Obama’s response on a 60 Minutes segment in late January 2013. Obama and Hillary were answering questions about Benghazi when Obama quoted Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “At this moment somewhere, somehow, somebody in the federal government’s screwing up” as he turned to Hillary laughing at his joke about their Benghazi screw-up that killed four Americans. They also had to be upset hearing the president on another occasion callously dismissing the Benghazi tragedy as “a sideshow.”

Not surprisingly, the US installed puppet government in Libya has been of no assistance in its lack of cooperation with revealing any further details of the attack. Last June the chaos, lawlessness and terror in Benghazi only continued as thirty-one Libyans protesting their grievances against an al Qaeda militia group were brutally massacred outside the al Qaeda headquarters. The entire eastern region of Libya today is still not under control of the national government, which has largely been taken over by US backed al Qaeda affiliates. Libya today is in complete shambles steeped in corruption, instability and violence.

Meanwhile, the two American criminals most responsible for the attack, President Obama and presidential heir-apparent Hilary Clinton need to be held accountable for their crimes along with their other partner-in-crime General Petraeus. With the belated truth behind Benghazi slowly coming out, Obama should be impeached and Hillary must never become president. Ironically the crime of Nixon’s Watergate cover-up that brought down the first and only president in US history forced to resign in disgrace pales in comparison to the crimes committed by the likes of the Obama administration.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.

Copyright © 2014 Global Research


Forward email

We are currently in the middle of one of the most crucial Canadian elections of recent times; one that threatens to irrevocably alter the very fabric of Canada for all time. I urge each of you who has the right to vote to research the facts educate yourselves and think carefully about what kind of country we wish to live in and then Exercise YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE responsibly.

What kind of Canada do we want?

A Canada where corporations come first and the people are merely second class citizens here only to serve the needs of the corporations and their elitist owners, or a Canada for the people where the function of the corporations is to provide for the needs and comfort of the people? A vote for either the Conservatives or the Liberals will ensure that the corporate elite will dominate our society in the 21st century and we, the people will be relegated to economic slavery in servitude to these corporate masters. Please consider the alternate political parties when voting if you wish to protect your proper place as the primary master of a government that is dedicated to serving your rights and comforts.

Who will get the job done?

The Liberals under Michael Ignatieff are joined at the hip to the Conservatives and will remain in solid support of Stephen Harper until such time as the polls give the Liberals a chance of winning if an election is called.

Unfortunately for the Liberals and for all Canadians, that is not likely to happen because the longer Iggy waits to force an election, the stronger the dissatisfaction among voters. We gave Iggy the power to thwart Harper as a trust, expecting him to curb Harper's dictatorial tendencies. Instead of upholding that trust, Iggy chooses to play cynical politics in hopes that by some miracle he will gain popularity in the polls at some time down the road. The question is, how can he expect to gain in popularity as he continues to ignore the sacred trust that voters handed him?

I wonder why so many voters can be so easily duped by the elitist bugaboo that The NDP, or any other party that advocates social, environmental & economic justice don't have enough intelligence to run an economy. According to these people it's better to stick our heads in the sand and vote for one of the two identical elitist parties and hope that they will do better next time. If anything, both the Liberals and the Conservatives have proven through a long history of economic mismanagement that they are incapable or unwilling to run an economy that is not dysfunctional and moving inexorably towards collapse. We will never see improvement from these parties, so why do we accept their propaganda that they are the only ones qualified to lead. Surely you don't believe that the NDP and the other alternative parties are bereft of intelligence, education, and a truly powerful desire to make Canada work for a change. I have no doubt that if they were to form a government, they would at least make an effort to address the systemic miasma that we have inherited from the Liberals and the Conservatives. They may not succeed in everything they try, but at least they will make an honest attempt and they could certainly do no worse than what precedes them.

Incredible - nearly 400,000 signatures in one day for press freedom!

Join the massive outcry and forward the email below -

The massive campaign of intimidation against WikiLeaks is sending a chill through free press advocates everywhere.
Legal experts say WikiLeaks has likely broken no laws. Yet top US politicians have called it a terrorist group and commentators have urged assassination of its staff. The organization has come under massive government and corporate attack, but WikiLeaks is only publishing information provided by a whistleblower. And it has partnered with the world's leading newspapers (NYT, Guardian, Spiegel etc) to carefully vet the information it publishes.
The massive extra-judicial intimidation of WikiLeaks is an attack on democracy. We urgently need a public outcry for freedom of the press and expression. Sign the petition to stop the crackdown and forward this email to everyone -- let's get to 1 million voices and take out full page ads in US newspapers this week!
http://www.avaaz.org/en/wikileaks_petition/?vl
WikiLeaks isn't acting alone -- it's partnered with the top newspapers in the world (New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, etc) to carefully review 250,000 US diplomatic cables and remove any information that it is irresponsible to publish. Only 800 cables have been published so far. Past WikiLeaks publications have exposed government-backed torture, the murder of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and corporate corruption.
The US government is currently pursuing all legal avenues to stop WikiLeaks from publishing more cables, but the laws of democracies protect freedom of the press. The US and other governments may not like the laws that protect our freedom of expression, but that's exactly why it's so important that we have them, and why only a democratic process can change them.
Reasonable people can disagree on whether WikiLeaks and the leading newspapers it's partnered with are releasing more information than the public should see. Whether the releases undermine diplomatic confidentiality and whether that's a good thing. Whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has the personal character of a hero or a villain. But none of this justifies a vicious campaign of intimidation to silence a legal media outlet by governments and corporations. Click below to join the call to stop the crackdown:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/wikileaks_petition/?vl
Ever wonder why the media so rarely gives the full story of what happens behind the scenes? This is why - because when they do, governments can be vicious in their response. And when that happens, it's up to the public to stand up for our democratic rights to a free press and freedom of expression. Never has there been a more vital time for us to do so.
With hope,
Ricken, Emma, Alex, Alice, Maria Paz and the rest of the Avaaz team.
SOURCES:
Law experts say WikiLeaks in the clear (ABC)
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2010/s3086781.htm
WikiLeaks are a bunch of terrorists, says leading U.S. congressman (Mail Online)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1333879/WikiLeaks-terrorists-says-leading-US-congressman-Peter-King.html
Cyber guerrillas can help US (Financial Times)
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d3dd7c40-ff15-11df-956b-00144feab49a.html#axzz17QvQ4Ht5
Amazon drops WikiLeaks under political pressure (Yahoo)
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101201/tc_afp/usdiplomacyinternetwikileakscongressamazon
"WikiLeaks avenged by hacktivists" (PC World):
http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/212701/operation_payback_wikileaks_avenged_by_hacktivists.html
US Gov shows true control over Internet with WikiLeaks containment (Tippett.org)
http://www.tippett.org/2010/12/us-gov-shows-true-control-over-internet-with-wikileaks-containment/
US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee (The Guardian)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/01/us-embassy-cables-executed-mike-huckabee
WikiLeaks ditched by MasterCard, Visa. Who's next? (The Christian Science Monitor)
http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Horizons/2010/1207/WikiLeaks-ditched-by-MasterCard-Visa.-Who-s-next
Assange's Interpol Warrant Is for Having Sex Without a Condom (The Slatest)
http://slatest.slate.com/id/2276690/

added Dec 10

Security perimeter could lift trade

Nicolas Van Praet, Financial Post · Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010

Montreal — Negotiations between Canadian and U.S. lawmakers on a new security and trade perimeter around North America could not come at a better time for Canadian businesses, many of whom have been calling for years for a sweeping revamp of border policy to improve trade flows.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, corporate Canada has waged a steady fight to convince political leaders in both countries that cross-border commerce must be shielded from ever-tightening U.S. security. Meanwhile, just-in-time shipping has frequently turned into squirreling away inventory on the other side of the border to avoid costly delays.

Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/news/Security%20perimeter%20could%20lift%20trade/3954258/story.html#ixzz17hTs4EIZ

Does anyone but me wonder why the media keeps praising the economic benefits of this deal while none of them seem to have taken any time to analyze the repercussions of this frightening arrangement as it pertains to our national sovereignty? The trade-off that no-one seems to care about is that Canada will be turning over to the Americans total control of policy pertaining to all aspects of border control, not just the cross border commercial traffic that is getting all the great media response. Effectively we will be giving them the right to dictate our immigration and refugee policies along with passport control and virtually who will be allowed to come into or leave Canada regardless of their origin or destination. Canada will have a sealed border with no sovereign right to decide on the nature of this sealed perimeter.

If we allow this to take effect, we abandon our right to determine who we welcome into our own country and hand the decision making over to Homeland Security, the FBI the CIA and other less visible U.S. security organizations and if that doesn’t set off warning bells for you, you should think again. These agencies have proven time and again that they are out of control and are dangerous and soon they will be free to operate within Canadian borders without restraint. Where is the media in this discussion? Why do they focus all of their attention on a miniscule portion of this agreement to the exclusion of even a brief mention of the dangers that are implicit in the vast majority of issues that are on the table and form the major thrust of the arrangement?

Furthermore, I wonder if anyone realizes that the Americans will by implementing this plan be able to pass off to Canada the financial responsibility for policing border security standards for the U.S. since they will be requiring us to maintain our border security to their standards as a prerequisite to this perimeter agreement. They must be laughing all the way to the bank as they look forward to a vast reduction in their cost of maintaining American security standards across the Canadian border once Canada is forced to adopt these standards and absorb the extra cost to be paid for by … You got it Canadian taxpayers!

added Dec 4

Week of WikiLeaks: Something Wiki this way comes?

Kathryn Blaze Carlson, National Post · Friday, Dec. 3, 2010

This week’s WikiLeaks disclosures have been deplored on the one hand as the “Sept. 11 of world diplomacy” and lauded on the other as a triumph for transparency.

The elusive mastermind, Julian Assange, has been vilified as a reckless anarchist “with blood on his hands,” but also praised as a brave whistle-blower willing to risk his life to expose the truth.

So the question is: Is WikiLeaks a force for good or evil? Click the title to read the complete article.

My Comment:

Wiki Leaks would never have come to be if governments were less secretive in the first place. Government penchant to withhold EVERYTHING from the public in the name of National Security is the driving force that created this phenomenon. The difficulty or downright impossibility of obtaining information that should never have been restricted in the first place has created the need for this and I support it whole heatedly. Governments for far too long have made lying to the public a routine activity and seekers of the truth will automatically become more tenacious when they find themselves constantly blocked from information that government has no right to withhold. Perhaps with the threat of being exposed in their lies, governments will be less eager to rely on dishonesty to cloak their activities and a more transparent and therefore more Democratic form of government will evolve. That can only be good for humanity in its entirety.

It is sad that a large segment of the population has come to believe that being lied to by their government is either positive or necessary.

added Dec 1

One Toronto: a network of environmental, arts, student, labour and social justice groups promoting a positive vision for the city, plans to play a watchdog role with the soon to be installed Mayor and Councillors at City Hall.

The network came together during the fall municipal election to counter the divisive, negative tone of the mayoral campaign.

“Our vision for a positive, united Toronto struck a chord with tens of thousands of Torontonians,” says One Toronto spokesperson Walied Khogali . “This week, a new City Council and Mayor begin their term . Our network will be monitoring their activities closely, and will continue to voice its support for a strong and united approach to municipal politics.”

One Toronto will keep its supporters apprised of developments that could affect programs and services related to environmental and arts programs, community housing, public health initiatives, the proposed tower renewal project and other public services Torontonians rely on. OneToronto plans to ramp up its efforts around the upcoming budget process in particular.

“The tax cuts promised during the mayoral campaign could have a negative impact on the quality of our life and on the unity of our city,” says Khogali . “The important question now is, what will fall under the axe in order to pay for those tax cuts? We're also quite nervous about the promises to scrap the city’s fair way policy and contract out public services."

“City Council is a mixed group and there is still potential for good work to be done. One Toronto will be there to ensure citizens’ needs aren’t lost in the shuffle. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and do our best to protect what is good about City Hall and to help protect the programs and services we all cherish.”

For more information please contact Walied Khogali at 416 625-7712 or media@onetoronto.ca

Visit our page and like our note at: http://www.facebook.com/notes/onetorontoca/-as-new-terms-begin-at-city-hall-one-toronto-takes-on-watchdog-role-/173491672670309

added Nov 12

The "Democracy" Issue

The failure of society’s ability to deal with the problems we face at the outset of the 21st century stems from the fact that the vested interests of an elite few have been allowed to thwart the will of the population at large.

This elite oligarchy has successfully duped the public into believing that they live in a Democratic society that is responsive to their will while in fact we have absolutely no control over the policies that are being imposed on society. Without conscious understanding of this fact, the public as a whole have come to the intuitive conclusion that the system has failed and there is nothing that can be done on a personal level to alleviate this. Therein lies the root cause of ever decreasing voter turnout in elections where we have come to recognize the whole process as a sham that we refuse to participate in.

Our acceptance of the First Past the Post system of declaring victory to electoral candidates who receive only a minor share of the popular vote is probably the most crucial factor in allowing the oligarchy to remain in power regardless of public will. Unless electoral reform is enacted to ensure successful election of candidates who have the support of the majority of the population, voter turnout will continue to decline while the power of the oligarchy continues to increase.

Candidate selection prior to elections is designed to guarantee a slate of contenders who are all under the control of the hidden oligarchy which is able to treat elected officials as simple employees who must submit to their will while enacting legislation that will reinforce the authority of this elite group. As long as it costs in excess of One Hundred Million Dollars just to run an election campaign for the Presidency of the United States and over Ten Million Dollars to run a similar campaign to become Prime Minister of Canada, we can be assured that only candidates who are financially in the pockets of these powerful people will be in the race.

In Canada, under the First Past the Post system, the only viable winners are the two most powerful political parties on the slate, the Liberals and the Conservatives. The other parties who run candidates are relegated to a competition to decide which of them will form a minor part of the official opposition to work with the leading opposition party which will always be the second place winner in the election. Since either the Liberals or the Conservatives will win the election and the one who does not win will form the official opposition we are faced with the fact that both the ruling party and the party of the official opposition are both on the payroll of the oligarchy and any legislation which threatens their power will never be enacted. That is the reason that today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is able to rule our country like a tin pot dictator with a third of popular support.  The Liberal Party which in theory has both the power and the mandate to thwart Harper’s agenda will do nothing of the kind since it is also controlled by the powerful people behind the scenes who contribute, (in most cases secretly and illegally) to the cost of their campaign while even with the combined votes they received in the election they account for less than 65% of voter support in the Canadian federal election, 2008

added Nov 12

G20: Police State Tactics

During the 3 days of the 2010 G20 meetings in Toronto, over 50,000 heavily armed police and private security storm troopers carrying shields and wearing complete protective gear faced about 30,000 unarmed protesters wearing blue jeans and t-shirts.

This massive force proceeded to trample our constitutional rights and brutalize us as we faced them demanding an end to the Fascist policies of the so called leaders of the world.

Thousands of protesters were arrested and held without food or legal representation and faced a wide range trumped up charges, most of which were eventually withdrawn or thrown out of court.

The great victory of the common citizens who faced these brutes is that we forced the leaders of the world into the open to reveal their truly fascist nature.

Never again can there be any doubt that these powerful people have any other purpose than to subvert the populations of the planet into virtual slavery, although they have consistently pretended to be benevolent benefactors.

The people of the planet must unite in resistance to these monsters.

added Oct 22

How Harper Blew the Bid | The Mark

by Yves Engler Author of The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, and other books.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Oct 19 2010 06:41 AM

By pursuing foreign policies that serve the interests of the few over the many, Harper has struck an enormous blow to the carefully crafted image of Canada as a popular international do-gooder.

In a stunning international rebuke, Stephen Harper’s government lost its bid for a UN Security Council seat last week. The vote in New York was the world’s response to a Canadian foreign policy designed to please the most reactionary, short-sighted sectors of the Conservative Party’s base – evangelical Christian Zionists, extreme right-wing Jews, Islamophobes, the military-industrial-academic complex, mining and oil executives, and old Cold-Warriors.

Over the past four years, the Harper government has been offside in the world community on a whole host of issues. Canada was among a small number of countries that refused to recognize the human right to water, or to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On two occasions, Ottawa blocked consensus at the Rotterdam Convention to place chrysotile asbestos, a known toxin, on its list of dangerous products. And in November, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty refused to even consider then British PM Gordon Brown’s idea of a global tax on international financial transactions.

The Conservatives, who are close with the companies making huge profits on the oilsands, have repeatedly sabotaged international climate negotiations. They angered many in the Commonwealth by blocking a resolution calling for a “binding commitment” on rich countries to reduce emissions, and at a UN climate conference in Bangkok last year, many delegates from poorer countries left a negotiating session in protest after a Canadian suggestion to scrap the Kyoto Protocol as the basis of negotiations.

The Conservatives’ extreme “Israel no matter what” position definitely hurt its chance last Tuesday. “It’s hard to find a country friendlier to Israel than Canada these days,” explained Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who emigrated from Moldova when he was 20 but still feels fit to call for the expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Conservatives publicly endorsed Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon and voted against a host of UN resolutions supporting Palestinian rights, and in February Ottawa delighted Israeli hawks by cancelling $15 million in funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The money was transferred to Palestinian security reform.

For the past three years, Canada has been heavily invested in training a Palestinian security force designed to oversee Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and “to ensure that the PA [Palestinian Authority] maintains control of the West Bank against Hamas,” as Canadian ambassador to Israel Jon Allen was quoted as saying by the Canadian Jewish News. According to Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Kent, Operation PROTEUS, Canada’s military training mission in the West Bank, is the country’s second-largest deployment after Afghanistan and receives most of the money from a five-year $300-million Canadian aid program to the Palestinians.

At the same time as Canadian “aid” strengthens the most compliant Palestinian political factions, the Conservatives have refused any criticism of Israel’s onslaught against the 1.5 million people living in Gaza. Canada was the only country at the UN Human Rights Council to vote against a January 2008 resolution that called for “urgent international action to put an immediate end to Israel’s siege of Gaza.”

Later in 2008, Israel unleashed a 22-day military assault on Gaza that left 1,400 Palestinians dead. In response, many governments condemned the bombing and Venezuela broke off all diplomatic relations. Israel didn’t need to worry, since Ottawa was prepared to help out. The Canadian embassy now represents Israel’s diplomatic interests in Caracas.

1 2 3 Next

My Comment

Any way you look at it and from every point of view, it is clear that Harper has taken Canada out of step with the world community and has aligned himself exclusively with US policy. By turning our country into a puppet where the CIA pulls the strings, we cannot be surprised that the rest of the world is turning its back on us and no longer respects us. This damage to our position of esteem in the world community is far more terrifying than the social destruction he has accomplished at home. We now stand alone in the shadow of the Imperialist monolith to our South.

added Oct 22

Panteloni wants to keep our city alive and healthy while his opponents say we can't afford a healthy city and must allow it to degenerate into an American style jungle.

Slitherman destroyed our Health care system so now there is a 6 month waiting list to become a new patient with any of the few GP's that are accepting new patients at all. Now he wants to get his destructive hands on our city and destroy it.

Ford wants to get rid of streetcars to make more room for cars. Of course in the city he wants it would be too dangerous to ride the TTC anyway; what with all the muggings & murders on it.

Our Right To Be Heard

Not only do we have the Right to Speak, we have the Right to be LISTENED TO and REPLIED TO by our politicians. Politicians are employees of the people and as such they have a Responsibility to enter into meaningful dialogue with us and to act in accordance with our wishes.

When they get elected they are hired by the people to do a job. The primary job description is to uphold and protect all of the rights entailed in our Democracy. When they fail to comply with that job description they must be removed from the job. This applies not only to Stephen Harper and his Conservatives, but to Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals who are the ones primarily responsible for removing Harper from his job. they have failed to do that job and are also subject to being fired.

added Oct 5

This video explores the gradual erosion of our Democratic Rights and Freedoms

added Oct 5

BBC News - Prisoners should work 40 hours a week says Ken Clarke

Prisoners in England and Wales should work a 40-hour week, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is expected to say.

Mr Clarke is set to make the announcement to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Tuesday.

He will say the government will begin a major expansion of prison industries to get more inmates working.

Mr Clarke will say jail is a place of "sluggishness and boredom" for many prisoners, where getting up in the morning is "optional".

Minimum wage

He wants offenders to prepare for life on the outside by establishing the habit of "routine hard work".

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says it is understood discussions have already begun with a large number of private companies about increasing the number of job opportunities in prisons.

Ministers are also considering building a large-scale "working prison" on the site of a factory, possibly a recycling plant.

Mr Clarke's aim is for inmates in publicly-run prisons to work a 40-hour week, for which they would be paid the minimum wage, with part of their earnings going to victims.

But officials are aware that any move to provide prisoners with work must not be at the expense of local jobs and businesses, our correspondent added.

Sounds reasonable, but when a right wing government suggests such a move we must be suspicious. They don’t have a track record of concern for the well being of prisoners and a hidden agenda is a more likely reason for this policy.

Picture the government building super prison factories instead of super prisons. Picture imprisonment escalating as demand for minimum wage labour escalates in these super prison factories. Picture minimum wage LEVELS THAT NEVER RISE WITH INFLATION. Picture all manufacturing eventually being transferred to these facilities with a labour force of virtual slaves. This is the agenda of the far right and must be opposed strongly!

added Oct 5

Sign the Declaration of the Voices-Voix coalition

www.voices-voix.ca

Petition for return to Democratic Principles

View

Signatures

Raise Your Voices!
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Since 2006 the Government of Canada has systematically undermined democratic institutions and practices, and has eroded the protection of free speech, and other fundamental human rights.  It has deliberately set out to silence the voices of organizations or individuals who raise concerns about government policies or disagree with government positions. It has weakened Canada’s international standing as a leader in human rights.  The impact and consequences for the health of democracy, freedom of expression, and the state of human rights protection in Canada are unparalleled.
Organizations that disagree with the Government’s positions and/or engage in advocacy have had their mandates criticized and their funding threatened, reduced or discontinued.  In many cases these organizations have a long history of service to the public, such as KAIROS, MATCH International, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Alternatives, the Canadian Arab Federation, the Climate Action Network, the National Association of Women and the Law and the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women.  The Court Challenges Program, which funded many human-rights cases, has had its mandate drastically reduced. The Women’s Program at Status of Women Canada now effectively excludes many women’s groups that conduct research and work to advance women’s equality and participation in society.
Individuals have been personally sanctioned in response to their efforts to defend democratic and human rights principles.  Linda Keen, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and three managers from the highly respected organization Rights and Democracy have all been summarily dismissed.  Peter Tinsley, Chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission, was not renewed in his position. Diplomat Richard Colvin was intimidated and derided for his parliamentary testimony about the torture of Afghan detainees handed over by the Canadian military. Partisan appointments to the board of directors of Rights and Democracy resulted in the resignation of internationally renowned board members and have thrown the organization into crisis.
Further, an unprecedented level of secrecy now shrouds a long list of government activities and decisions, making it increasingly difficult for the public to hold the government accountable across a range of fundamentally important issues.  Robert Marleau, the Federal Information Commissioner, has reported that access to information regarding government action has been restricted.  Diplomats, leaders of governmental agencies, public officials, senior military officers, and scientists at Environment Canada are being pressured to obey a law of silence and censored from communicating to the Canadian public.
The Government has eroded freedom of the press by exercising central control of the information available to journalists.  It abused the right to prorogue Parliament in order to avoid serious allegations that the Canadian military has been complicit in the torture of Afghan detainees.
The Government has taken positions domestically and within such key international bodies as the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council that undermine essential human rights, environmental and other global principles.  The government’s actions have set back or weakened crucial international human rights initiatives such as global protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples, a worldwide moratorium on executions, more effective protection of human rights in the Middle East, protection against torture, the rights of gays and lesbians, the rights of women,  and the rights of children.  Among many distressing examples, since the Supreme Court of Canada found that Canada is responsible for continuing violations of Omar Khadr’s human rights, the government’s response has been grossly inadequate and a source of shame on the world stage.
In this context, Canadian democratic institutions, civil society organizations, and human rights defenders have been weakened, marginalized and silenced. Their capacity to monitor and safeguard the respect for democracy, free speech, and other rights is in jeopardy. The quality and health of democratic life in Canada is under serious threat.
United, we call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Therefore,
Cease to deliberately target those who speak out against government policies with the use of smear campaigns, dismissal from employment, funding cuts, blatant and subtle threats, regulations designed to obfuscate and prevent public debate, and other acts of bad faith.
Commit to parliamentary hearings in the Fall of 2010 that address widespread concerns about the loss of democratic space in Canada.
2. Act in accordance with Canada’s democratic traditions and values. Therefore,
Actively promote and support political diversity and public debate, instead of avoiding it.
Recognize and respect the vital role, expertise, and necessary independence of civil society organizations.
3. Be transparent. Therefore,
Demonstrate full respect for and accountability to the Parliament of Canada and the Canadian People.
Allow complete access for Canadians to information regarding public policy decisions.
Base funding decisions for government and civil society organizations on fair standards and democratic principles, instead of partisan agendas.

 

A less proud country

Apathetic Canadians have allowed their government to trample freedoms -- but opposition is mounting

By Lawrence Scanlan, Citizen http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/less+proud+country/3330366/story.html#ixzz0vG4FVWsJ 

There's been a sea change, a darkening of the political climate in this country. The first instinct is to discount such troubling thoughts. So perhaps the view of someone born elsewhere, but long on our shores, is more to be trusted.

Ursula Franklin -- the celebrated physicist, pacifist, author and Companion of the Order of Canada -- recently spoke to CBC Radio's The Current. She had survived a Nazi death camp and come to Canada hoping for better. Now 88, Franklin is "profoundly worried about the absence and erosion of democracy in Canada."

Democracy, I heard her say on the radio, is a slow and messy process. When Frank-lin sees cabinet ministers holding press conferences to discuss legislation not yet debated in the House of Commons, she sees that process being skirted. And when she hears the prime minister saying he does not "trust" the Opposition, she sees contempt for democracy itself. "Who wants to live in a country," Franklin asked, "where those who don't think like you are deemed untrustworthy?"

A German reporter here to cover the G20 summit likened Toronto's walls to the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. I was just in Berlin and the checkpoint these days comprises a few sandbags and two "soldiers" in Second World War American uniforms posing for tourists' cameras. Walls fall in one place, rise up in another. But surely not here?

The annual gathering of the Writers' Union of Canada took place in Ottawa in June, with many former chairs on hand to offer memories of their time in office. Susan Crean remembered encountering a young, blue-eyed politico at a constitutional conference in Calgary in 1992. When the man learned that she had co-authored a certain book about American domination of Canadian and Quebec politicians, the man responded: "You should not have been allowed to write that book."

The man: Stephen Harper. Crean never forgot his words, but especially the word allowed. The room full of writers in Ottawa issued a gasp.

Crean later elaborated on the encounter. "Harper spoke to me first and asked if I had written 'that book.' I asked which one, and he mentioned Two Nations, which I wrote with Quebec activist/sociologist and well known independentiste Marcel Rioux. ... Harper was clearly still angry about having had to read it at university. In his view, I took it, the book was treasonous. I was so shaken by his words, and his open hostility, that I immediately left the dining room."

No PM should be held strictly accountable for every utterance before taking office. But this exchange suggests an instinct to control and suppress, and that is precisely -- 18 years on -- what the Harper government is being accused of.

An on-line petition, called Voices-Voix, is now circulating. Some 1,500 individuals have signed it (including Margaret Atwood), along with more than 150 organizations -- from Amnesty International to Democracy Watch to the Quakers. The petition begins: "Since 2006 the Government of Canada has systematically undermined democratic institutions and practices, and has eroded the protection of free speech, and other fundamental human rights. It has deliberately set out to silence the voices of organizations or individuals who raise concerns about government policies or disagree with government positions. ... Organizations that disagree with the Government's positions and/or engage in advocacy have had their mandates criticized and their funding threatened, reduced or discontinued."

Case in point is KAIROS, a social justice organization that lost its funding after decades of CIDA support. Immigration minister Jason Kenney stunned KAIROS last December by calling it anti-Semitic. More finger-pointing from a government that argues, for example, that anyone not backing Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan is unpatriotic. This is discourse for licence plates, not Parliament.

The Writers' Union spoke out last fall when a B.C. author who had written a book critical of the Olympics was harassed by security officials, and when liberal American authors were detained at the Canadian border. Is there a pattern here?

The G20 summit, with its state police flavour, mass arrests and trampling of basic civil rights, made a kind of sense -- for ours is a government obsessed with order. But the summit was so excessive, so ... unCanadian. The quiet pride that once had Canadian travellers stitching our flag on their backpacks has vanished.

Ursula Franklin defines peace as the presence of justice and the absence of fear. Which is ascendant in our home and native land -- justice, or fear? Canada Day chest-beating and fireworks failed to counter other evidence that this country has morphed so radically that one has to wonder if Lester B. Pearson would, today, even recognize the place. The tar sands, our pathetic stance at the Copenhagen conference on climate change, the prison farms/super prisons debacle, ongoing asbestos mining, the shift from peacekeeper to major player in a dubious war, Afghan detainees: what's appalling, and indeed what has perhaps enabled all this, is our apathy. And there's a price to be paid for apathy.

A few months ago, Ned Franks, a retired political science professor and constitutional expert, spoke in the wake of the proroguing of Parliament (yet again). He gave compelling statistical evidence that the rapid turnover of MPs and senior ministry staff in recent years has left Parliament weak and dysfunctional. Parliament sits less now, and when things don't go the way the PM likes it, he just shuts it down. A power vacuum has been created, and the PMO is rapidly filling it.

"We should call him King Stephen the First of Canada," says Franks, "for that, in effect, is the way he is behaving."

I spent six years researching a book on philanthropy, and I became convinced tax dollars, wisely deployed, can help diminish the gap between rich and poor -- as is done in Scandinavian countries. Our government freely spends tax dollars on prisons, police and war machinery, while insisting "taxes" is a dirty word. After the G8 summit in Italy in July 2009, Harper opined, "I don't believe that any taxes are good taxes." Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson rightly called it "one of the most stunning, revealing and, frankly, ignorant statements ever made by a prime minister ... very, very scary socially and politically."

I interviewed many NGO staffers for my book, and I was struck by how carefully they feel they must tread.

Ursula Franklin likens democracy to a potluck supper in which everyone brings something, even if only a willingness to wash dishes. The Canadian government is offering a closed-door dinner, and only to those who share the ideology of the host.

Lawrence Scanlan is the author of A Year of Living Generously: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Philanthropy. It was published by Douglas & McIntyre in May.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/less+proud+country/3330366/story.html#ixzz0vG4pwOJC 

 

added Feb 25 

Your vote should count. Sign the petition

The Canadian electoral system is lagging far behind other Democracies in assuring its citizens actually have a meaningful voice in how our country is run. Proportional representation would go a long way towards correcting this situation. Voter turn out is historically dismal and a prime reason for this is the fact that we feel that our votes don't really count any way. It's long past time to correct this.

Canada is in a state of disintegration. Our society is plagued with poverty, homelessness, addiction and unemployment. The middle class is rapidly disappearing and poverty in the midst of unprecedented riches is expanding exponentially while a select elite grow fat off the suffering of the rest of us. Our electoral system is archaic and before any of the aforementioned problems will ever be addressed we need to regain control of our government. The first step in doing this is to introduce a proportional electoral system which will more accurately reflect the will of the people.

On Monday afternoon, we sent the email below to Fair Vote Canada supporters. We’re delighted that more than 1,000 people signed in just the first 24 hours. We hope you will sign too. Let’s make sure our voices are heard!

This is Not Democracy – Silence is Not an Option!

Sign the Declaration of Voters’ Rights

 Are you fed up with voting in federal elections where seven million of us cast ballots that elect no one? Are you tired of Parliaments that don’t represent the people of Canada? Are you angry that a party can win a majority of seats even when 60% of us vote against them?

You’re not alone.

Several weeks ago, Fair Vote Canada held a press conference at Parliament to launch the Declaration of Voters’ Rights (see the article, photos and video on our website).

This document is not a petition. It’s not a request. It’s a people’s declaration. Canadian voters have a fundamental right to equal votes, fair election results and legitimate majority rule.

Between now and the next election, we intend to circulate the Declaration as widely as possible.  

How many signers can we get? How loud will our voices be? That depends on you and other citizens.

If you sign today, and pass it along to just five friends, we can jumpstart this campaign and build real momentum.

At our press conference, the first three signers were Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association; Ed Broadbent, former NDP leader; and Dr. John Trent, former secretary-general of the International Political Science Association.

Many others have since joined them. And now we need you.

Please sign the Declaration of Voters’ Rights today and forward it to your friends.

Yours for a democratic Canada,

Bronwen Bruch

President

Fair Vote Canada

 

 

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BILL C-304

An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible

and affordable housing for Canadians

Whereas the provision of and access to

adequate housing is a fundamental human right

according to paragraph 25(1) of the United

Nations Universal Declaration of Human

Rights;

Whereas, in 1976, Canada signed the International

Covenant on Economic, Social and

Cultural Rights, a legally binding treaty committing

Canada to make progress on fully

realizing all economic, social and cultural rights,

including the right to adequate housing;

Whereas the enjoyment of other human

rights, such as those to privacy, to respect for

the home, to freedom of movement, to freedom

from discrimination, to environmental health, to

security of the person, to freedom of association

and to equality before the law, are indivisible

from and indispensable to the realization of the

right to adequate housing;

Whereas Canadas wealth and national budget

are more than adequate to ensure that every

woman, child and man residing in Canada has

secure, adequate, accessible and affordable

housing as part of a standard of living that will

provide healthy physical, intellectual, emotional,

spiritual and social development and a

good quality of life;

Whereas improved housing conditions are

best achieved through co-operative partnerships

of government and civil society and the meaningful

involvement of local communities;

And whereas the Parliament of Canada

wishes to ensure the establishment of national

goals and programs that seek to improve the

quality of life for all Canadians as a basic right;

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the

advice and consent of the Senate and House of

Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

SHORT TITLE

1. This Act may be cited as the Secure,

Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing

You can download the complete act in English and French below

 

Two opposing points of view

Ron Newton why did you post a silly story about our PM on the donut issue??? that is partasan garbage I'd expect from the other parties just to poke at our PM, because they have nothing REAL on him..I left a comment

09:53Ron.

Ronzig Unlike you Ron, I am not blinded by political dogma. I take personal offence to Harper boycotting a critical symposium and walking out of the following UN meeting for a photo op. It's disgusting.

Ron Newton REALLY. and you support the Iranian president on his stance of dubbing WW@ and th holocaust as a myth???

WW2

I cant blame Harper for not wanting to be in the same room as that piece of shit

Ronzig What in the world are you talking about? That has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion.

Ron Newton On the news they said Harper didn’t go because of the Iranian president

Ronzig I find it difficult be be in the same world with a piece of shit like Harper.

Ron Newton I feel the same about that TRAITER Jack Layton

Plus, Harper has other people that are assigned to show up for those meetings. PM doesn’t have to show up

thats why they have a cabinet of designated people who do these things

Ron Newton the news clearly said that Harper doesn’t support Iran whatsoever. I can’t blame him.

Ronzig The message is quite clear. By sending a lackey rather than attending in person and placing more importance on a photo op in a donut shop he sends a clear message to the world on where he stands.

Ron Newton he didn’t send a message. Now your sounding like Iggy

Ronzig Stick to one subject at a time.

Ron Newton iggy was the first to comment on this issue

Ronzig If you don't call his irresponsible actions a message, what do you call them?

Ron Newton how is it irresponsible?

Can they not propose something on this issue when the recession is over?

recession

Ronzig Getting his picture taken eating a fucking donut instead of attending an important meeting of world leaders is absolutely irresponsible.

Ron Newton lol

Okay that is your opinion, they only made this comments because they want the power (other parties) when they have something real; on our pm I'll consider it listenable

Ronzig When the recession is over there will be other excuses.

Ron Newton anything to discredit our Pm

Ronzig Harper doesn't need anyone to help discredit him. He does a fine job all by himself.

Ron Newton no there won’t. Did you know the reason why Harper cant do much is simply because he doesn’t have full power? Layton voted down 79 times ideas the Cons had that would help Canada since 2006

I'll fully judge Harper when he has a full majority. I’ll be the first to admit to you if he does wrong

Ronzig The only thing that keeps him from completely selling Canada out to his elitist friends is the fact that he doesn't have full power. I pray he loses the power he has in the next election. I can't stand Iggy either, but even he would be an improvement.

Ron Newton Really? You think a carbon tax introduced by the Liberals will help? Over spending will help? Liberals are the only other party that will win beside the Cons. start fearing if Harper loses

Ron Newton Did you know it was the liberals who clawed back pensions back in the 90s? Did you know that they paid off the debt by stealing money from EI (53 billion to be exact)

Liberals are a party I don’t want in power, NDP will never win

I was a fool to support Chrétien

Ronzig Taxes need to be increased and the structure reconfigured to exempt all people living below the poverty lin and radically increased fore ever person earning in excess of 1/2 million.

Ron Newton that I might agree on-half million earners

Ron Newton cant you see what will happen if Iggy wins?? He’ll blame everything on the Cons. up our taxes, increase the GST. and the poor will suffer even more

Ronzig Chrétien was nothing but Trudeau's bagman. He should never have been elected, but if you condemn the Liberals for the historical failures, you need to be fair and look at the pathetic history of the Conservative too.

Ron Newton My point is the Liberals steal our money that is for a rainy day, piss away our surpluses and then say.” you know what we have to raise taxes to cover this"

Ronzig Got to go. Nice chatting. I haven't seen the Conservative da a single thing to correct the robbing of the EI fund in all their years in power. They are just as guilty. They have had ample opportunity to take steps to correct the situation.

Politics, ideology in EI reforms

Toronto Star

Sep 16, 2009 04:30 AM

Thomas Walkom
Anyone attempting to make sense of Stephen Harper's Conservatives should study his latest employment insurance gambit. It is classic – a piece of practical politics containing a hidden ideological barb.

At one level, it is an example of crass pandering. By doing anything to help the unemployed, Harper increased the odds that Jack Layton's NDP – already gun-shy about a fall election – would prop up his minority government.

What makes Layton's predicament particularly difficult is that the Prime Minister's proposed temporary reforms are aimed at jobless Ontario auto workers, a key NDP constituency.

These are the people who will gain from Harper's proposal – which would extend by between five and 20 weeks the benefit period for relatively well-paid, older workers who find themselves out of a job.

It should go over particularly well in two ridings that the Conservatives now hold but that the New Democrats lust after – Oshawa and the Windsor-area seat of Essex.

In last year's election, the NDP lost Oshawa by just 3,200 votes.

So that's the practical politics. The ideological barb lies in the Conservative insistence on distinguishing between the deserving and undeserving jobless.

Under the proposed reform, the deserving jobless are, first of all, those who make more and therefore have paid more into the employment insurance scheme. Those who earn less than about $13,000 a year wouldn't qualify for these extended benefits.

Second, young workers and others who are relative newcomers to the labour force also wouldn't qualify. Only those who have been paying into EI for seven years out of 10 would.

Third, anyone who's had the nerve to collect EI in the past may be out of luck. Jobless people who received more than 35 weeks of regular EI benefits in total during the past five years won't be eligible for the extra help.

Fourth, the whole scheme would expire in the fall of 2011.

These criteria are designed not just to save money (although they will do that) but to make a point.

Employment insurance has always been complex – linking benefit levels to criteria such as income, length of time in the paid workforce and regional unemployment levels.

In the 1990s, Canada's previous Liberal government made these criteria so onerous that today only about half of the jobless qualify for EI.

Still, there was a kind of equal-opportunity element to those nasty Liberal reforms. The Liberals weren't trying to make a moral point; they just wanted the money.

The strand of conservatism that Harper represents, however, sees unemployment as an individual moral failing. To such conservatives, anyone with gumption who loses his job will simply get another.

Those with the most gumption will become billionaires.

Purists of this ilk would have no EI program at all. But if one must exist, they argue, it should be as limited as possible and – like society in general – biased toward those with more.

Hence this week's proposed reforms. A jobless, part-time doughnut shop employee may need extra benefits as much as a jobless auto worker. But in the universe of Harper conservatism, need has nothing to do with it. The question is: who pays?

Those who pay more deserve more. They are just getting back what was always rightfully theirs.

Those who pay less? They should be thankful they get any help at all.

Thomas Walkom's column appears Wednesday and Saturday.

TheStar.com | Opinion | Politics, ideology in EI reforms

St. Paul’s riding by-election

An all-candidates meeting set for Sept. 10 from 7 to 9 pm 175 St. Clair Av W, near the southwest corner of Avenue Rd. and St. Clair. in Sunderland Hall at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto.

Sue-Ann Levy of the Progressive Conservatives, Eric Hoskins of the Liberals, Julian Heller of the New Democratic Party, Chris Chopik of the Green Party and other candidates will be given the opportunity to present & debate.

If the popular vote swings away from the Conservatives in favour of the NDP in this safe Conservative riding it will send a strong message to both the Conservatives and the Liberals that we want a new direction in Ontario. Our votes won't change a thing for now, but it is more important to vote in this by-election than ever before. A strong swing in the popular vote, regardless of who wins will be recognized by all of the parties that we in Ontario demand a new society where antagonism and widening class distinctions are replaced with a neighborly outlook toward each other. So please join me in sending that message by voting.

 

A video message about the importance of this by-election 

Suggested Questions for the All Candidates Meeting

Housing: Since it is inconceivable that assisted housing will ever begin to approach the need for housing relief in Ontario as witnessed by waiting lists of upwards of 10 years, what alternative measures are you supporting to alleviate the current crisis, such as

Increasing the minimum wage and standardizing it between full time and part time employment to ensure that the working poor have the ability to pay market rent for a standard of housing that provides healthy, functional, safe and secure lodging?

Increases to OW and ODSP housing benefit levels to ensure that recipients have the ability to pay market rent for a standard of housing that provides healthy, functional, safe and secure lodging?

A provincial rental property standards act that would force landlords including organizations such as Metro Toronto Housing Authority to maintain their rental properties at a level that provides healthy, functional, safe and secure lodging?

 

Income Security: Given that the recession has greatly increased unemployment levels in the province and given that the recovery is projected to be a jobless one, what measures are you proposing to cope with the anticipated huge increase in the permanently unemployed: such as:

Increased financial support for volunteerism?

Meaningful retraining programs to assist the citizens of Ontario to re-enter the labour force?

Meaningful reductions in tuitions at institutions of higher education to allow Ontario residents who have been forced into unemployment to become retrained at a level that will give them access to worthy employment?

Requiring employers to provide full employment benefits to part time, casual and contract workers?

Increasing minimum wage levels and standardizing them between full time, casual and part time employment to ensure that Ontario residents will be able to maintain a respectable standard of living in the new economy?

Increasing social assistance benefits to a level that will ensure that Ontario residents will be able to maintain a respectable standard of living as they seek opportunities to re-enter the work force?

 

Economy: If it is true that the healthiest economy will result in any jurisdiction if the work force is trained to a world class standard, what measures are you prepared  to support to assist the Ontario population to reach a world class criterion such as:

Radically reducing or eliminating all tuition levels in every secondary education facility to eliminate denial of access to education based on economic means?

Eliminating the student loans program and replacing it with a grants program that would be recovered through taxation as higher levels of employment are achieved?

It is further understood that small business is the core employer in our economy. What measures are you proposing to decrease the burden of government on the independent entrepreneur to decrease the abominable failure rate of start up enterprises?

What measures will you support to halt the current practice of employers seeking to thwart the mandated employment benefits to full time employees by filling full time positions with casual, part time and contract workers?

 

Politics is in the air

Ron. Craven

Just had some people from elections Ontario come to my door to tell me there will be a by-election Sept 17 in my riding for a new MPP. They sure don't give a person much time to investigate the candidates before voting. Guess they feel the less we know about them the better. Hope I get to an all candidates meeting. I'd sure like to ask some questions of the candidates.

Ron Newton

make sure you vote Conservative Ron..this will weaken the tax hungry Liberals we have right now. Might not be party of choice, but it will give the Liberals a minority government and the other parties can get rid of the HST. Voting NDP at this time just weakens the Conservatives to bring down the Liberals, as much as you hate them..you want Dalton Mcdumbass to still have majority or minority? I know I want his party to become a minority, choose wisely sir.

Worker Bee

right...vote Conservative if you want to be poorer than you are already!

Ron Newton

So i guess you want Liberals in power? you like the HST? the health premium that was imposed on us? voting NDP would only take the votes away from the Conservatives-hence-Liberals will still have a majority..but I guess you like the imposed taxes by Dalton Mcdumbass right.(rhetorical) And if you take at good look at the programs created by Conservatives, there far better then what the Liberals have done to us..NDP isn't going to win shit, so why waste the vote? taking the latter is much better. EVEN if you dont support the Conservatives, at least voting them will make the Liberals a minority.

Cheryl Smith

The Cons can't even see the need for a federal anti-poverty
strategy.Harper thinks we're a bloddy example to hold up to the international community. They loathe anything but profit and anyone who doesn't prioritze it. Lest we forget Mike Harris. Never Again!! That dude put cops in the welfare offices, and that's the sentiment that will surface again with this bunch, Huddack et al...
Harper's finished. it's just a matter of time...

Ron. Craven

I personally can't see any difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives except the Conservatives are more honest in their anti people rhetoric. The Liberals try to pretend they give a shit while doing the same things to stomp the poor into the ground as the Conservatives. I'll be out campaigning for the NDP in this by-election and in the upcoming federal election. If we can't elect a social democratic party the only hope we have of thwarting the elitist policies of both the major parties is to give the NDP a strong voice in a minority government. I'm hoping they will form the official opposition at least.

Cheryl Smith

that works for me
anything but the (fascist) cons and i don't care if that's politically correct or not. they're dangerous

Ron Newton

It amazes me how much people really don't know about politics, First off you cant compare Harper to Harris...one is FEDERAL the other is PROVINCIAL. Harris came into power when we had a really bad recession, he admits to all the cuts he had to make.he took the heat for it. I understand and it frustrated me as well, Harper is facing his first recession. Harper has wiped out the majority of the debt that Trudeau created for Canada, this recession has put us back to where he started. Were so close to being in a depression-worst then 1991. You think NDP will do better? You think they'll help the poor? are you really the naive? look at what Rae did for Ontario, he almost fucking bankrupt Ontario. Be smart and vote for the opposite of the Liberals..which is Conservatives. not once has someone given me a proper argument on why we shouldn't have them in power. This issue is about Ontario, Dalton McDumbass and his band of Fiberals are in power-Harper has nothing to do with it.

Ron. Craven

Just because Harris was provincial and Harris is federal, does not mean there are no comparisons. To the contrary. Harris was a right wing reactionary Conservative leader who is now in disgrace. With the upcoming Federal election, Harper will be too. It is so good to hear that the national debt has been practically eliminated under Harper. I heard it first here. LOL If he wanted to actually do something about the debt, he would have fixed the tax system so that corporations and the elite would pay a share proportionate to the excessive incomes they enjoy.

Cheryl Smith

if you think Harris isn't lurking at the federal level, you're the naive one. harris was a bully, and so is harper. look at the almost illegal lengths he goes to 'destroy' opponents and con canadians with multi million dollar smear campaigns. he can't stand on his politics alone. when he's about to be legally toppled, he simply sends everyone home for an early vacation in the midst of economic disaster. a con is a con is a con. harris and harper are two peas of a pod. give me a decent conservative who cares more about people than profit, and i'll consider it.
despite harpers rhetoric, this is not a 'conservative' country.
most of us are not voting conservative, Ron.

Ron Newton

Cheryl: Harper shut down parliament because of the coalition, you want the Bloc Party to run Canada? a Group that is anti-Canadian..want to seperate. From all of the comments I have seen , still not one of you have proven why Conservatives are wrong for Governing.

Ron Newton

1. He prorogued parliament to stop the opposition parties, that formed a coalition, from an attempt to overthrow his newly elected government. Though supporters of opposition parties may see this as a cowardly act, I see it as the best thing he could have done, otherwise Canada would now have a messy government formed by the coalition in this difficult time of global recession. I'm so glad we still have Harper, an intelligent man, who studied economics and seems to know how to lead his country in the right direction.
2. He's making sure
Canada doesn't lose its claim over the Arctic islands.
3. He's probably going to make the Canadian military stronger again
4. He and the Finance Minister are working hard to get the stimulus bill passed so that money can flow to stimulate the economy
5. He has approved the financing of the Evergreen Line in Metro Vancouver, to improve infrastructure, which is part of the stimulus plan.

6. He has done the same in Saskatoon to improve infrastructure

from Saskatoon to Prince Albert.
7. He has improved relationship with the
US, even while Bush was in power, because he understands how important it is to keep good relations with the US. The US and Canada share the biggest trading partnership, so it's better to try to get along, even if you don't agree with their policies.
8. He doesn't like interviews or being in the spotlight, but whenever he is in the spotlight, he represents
Canada well. For instance, during Obama's recent visit, at the short press conference, most Canadians were equally impressed by Harper. In my opinion he was not overshadowed by Obama. In fact, even Americans were impressed by Harper. Recently he was in the US for a few TV appearances, and apparently Americans were impressed by the intelligence he projected.
9. Oh yeah, he brought the GST taxes down from 7% to 5%.
10. He's getting tougher on crime.

Ron. Craven

I don't have time to go into all of this right now, but I will say that it is not up to the people to prove that he is unfit to govern; it is up to Harper to prove that he is fit and he certainly has NOT even made an attempt to do that. His idea of getting tough on crime will turn out to be a plan to stomp on the homeless and poor of the country. He'd love to reinstate the death penalty and make it a capital offence to be poor. A sure fire way to end poverty in Canada.

Ron Newton

So if Harper is such a disgrace to Canada start proving it now, I STILL haven't seen even one example of importance on how he is so bad for our country. BTW Ron..their is a great difference between Federal and Provincial governing. But were not talking about the prime minister going up for election...its Provincial this time, so ALL of you people go right ahead and vote in NDP..because
1.they wont win the election due to the fear Rae has shadowed over
Ontario
2. By voting NDP it takes votes away from the Conservatives and lets the Liberals regain power in
Ontario..but I guess thats a good thing right?? If you believe that your a dumbass.
3. Your all naive to think NDP will actually help you, look at Layton's attempt to become leader of Canada by joining the Bloc party.
Stop listening to the media regarding our government at the federal level, as for the provincial level...don't you want change..eliminate the HST or even the health premium?????

Sat at 11:31 · Delete

Ron Newton

you don't have time to go into it?, what can you possibly say...? Then make sure if anyone is going to bash a party or leader, make sure they have valid points and facts rather then opinion. your concentration is more on the poor then anything else, so either way your going to support the NDP. regardless even if they don't win, which makes no sense to me whatsoever. But I guess you prefer Dalton McDumbass to reign power right? I'm curious as to 'why' Conservatives are so bad, instead of opinions give facts. Take 20 mins out of your time and explain in an email, politics is my passion..feed me something you feel I can learn or benefit from, and I'll respond back. Part of the excitement of debate between us. Don't worry Ron, I wont disrespect your views or points..

Cheryl Smith

The sentiment of Canadians speaks for itself. How much more proof do you need? Most of us DON'T want him there. He was about to be demcratically defeated when he "porogued" parliament. So he rules because the alternative was worse? Is that your logic?

Cheryl Smith

Ronzig The con candidate for St Paul's is Sue Anne Levy, and she thinks we should all be working at McDonalds instead of working on social justice. She is/was columnist for The Sun.
I hope she shows up for the debate!

Ron Newton

cheryl: and why dont you want him in power..have valid reasons? or do you always follow everyone else?

Ted Heeley

My only reason is against Harper, not the Conservatives--Harper tried to eliminate campaign financial reform, cutting finanical aid to support political parties so only a party with corporate sponsorship would have access to the kind of money needed to campaign; Which means essentially, only the Conservatives would be able to campain, and would win by sheer attrition. I always say--Right and left all want the same things, we just have different views on how to achieve it. But I will never vote Con while Harper is in charge. Sorry, Ron. Not against Conservative values, (while I did not vote for Harris, I support SOME of the things He did in office) and in most cases, I do not hold the reactionary fear that any Conservative in power is the end of Canada. But with Harper, I don't think it's paranoia. He is a dangerous man, as his main ambition is crushing the opposition. They have words for people who have politics like that. Dictator is one of them.

2 hours ago · Delete

Ted Heeley

Also, on a lesser note, a major platform of his last couple of campaigns was senate reform. He railed against the Liberal-controlled senate for years, and as far as I know, most of his loyal supporters still ardently believe in senate reform. One of his campaign promises was that he would never appoint an unelected person to the senate. Suddenly and without explanation, he is giving plum jobs to everybody who ever carried his golf clubs.
He is doing everything he attacked Chretien for doing, while preaching reform. Tto be honest, he's likely no more of a hypocrite than anybody else in parliament,but he is the loudest.
And stacking the senate reeks of panic, hinting that I don't think HE expects to win the next election.
But please please please keep sending me stuff okay? I joined one of your groups a few days ago.

Ron. Craven

OK folks I’m feeling a little better this morning. I’ve been sick for a couple of days, so sorry I haven’t been able to join in before now. This discussion began around a by-election for the provincial MPP for St. Paul’s riding and evolved to a philosophical comparison of the performance and policies of all 3 major parties at both provincial and federal levels of government.

(to avoid confusion, I’ll use Newton rather than Ron when mentioning Ron Newton’s comments)

From the top:

On the provincial level, Newton mentions the “tax hungry Liberals.” and writes the NDP off in his suggestion that I vote Conservative in this by-election.  Although, I do not support the Liberals based on their track record of under funding essential core services and programs and ignoring the extreme poverty that social assistance recipients live in due to inadequate income, I do support tax increases when the only alternatives are greater debt or further cuts to essential services.  The proviso is that the tax system needs to be repaired. There is no possible justification for taxing the extremely poor at all when there is excessive wealth going virtually untaxed due to exemptions and other loopholes.

I do not write the NDP off at all. I am in favour of a minority government at both levels with the NDP as the official opposition. Newton is correct in assuming the NDP has little chance of actually forming a government but with them as the opposition in a minority government, the social infrastructure will be protected and enhanced, Both of the major parties have become interchangeable in their attempts to decimate support programs to the less fortunate in our society and this is unacceptable.

Historically, Ontario has balked at electing a provincial government from the same party as the federal government and rightly so.  The perceived danger of placing that much power in the hands of either the Liberals or the Conservatives is a situation that must be prevented. Furthermore, the Conservatives intend to take the province further down a path that Ontarians are already uncomfortable with. I honestly believe that most of the people of Ontario understand the real danger of increasing the gap between the rich and the poor any further. We do not want an unbridgeable gap created resulting in a permanent caste system as exists in other countries.

If I’m not mistaken, the St. Paul’s riding is considered a safe seat for the Conservatives. It will be interesting to see hao safe it actually is. The results in popular support will be more revealing than who actually gets elected and all three parties will be watching this closely as they begin positioning themselves for the real thing. I doubt Ontario will elect another Conservative government in the near future. We don’t want the style of reactionary administration that Mike Harris introduced.

Newton suggests we vote for the Conservatives because they are the opposite of the Liberals. Surely he jests. Their performance has been interchangeable for so long that they appear joined at the hip, right about where the wallet is stored. There is no fundamental difference between them. If we expect any change from the status quo, we need a strong social democratic opposition to keep them from implementing their extreme dogmas.

Although this discussion began because of an upcoming provincial by-election, it is appropriate that it progressed into the federal realm, particularly since we can expect a federal election in October.

On the federal level, Cheryl mentions Harper’s almost illegal activities. Unfortunately he has crossed the line and has progressed to truly illegal activities when he refused to repatriate a Canadian citizen and went so far as to appeal a court order to do so. Legally if he feels that she is undesirable, the means exist to remove her from Canada. She legally must be repatriated and then if Harper wishes to expel her, deportation proceedings could be instituted. It is unconscionable to leave her stranded without due process of law. That is the method of a dictator, not a democratically elected representative of the people.

Cheryl also reminds us that Harper prorogued the government to avoid losing his power to govern. Although this action was legal, it certainly was undemocratic to thwart the wishes of the majority of Canadians in a move to cling to power.

1.       Newton brought up the sloganism of preventing the Bloc Quebequois from coming to power. The Bloc will never lead Quebec out of Canada. They don’t want to. They realize that there are too many benefits to remaining part of Canada. Their real purpose and strength is the threat to leave. It is Quebec’s main bargaining chip when they seek concessions from the feds. It seems that the fear mongering tactics were victorious over common sense this time. Newton’s claim that Harper is some kind of economic expert is laughable. At the outset of the most devastating recession that Canada has had in recent history, he claimed that we would not be affected by the global recession and should continue business as usual. This kind of denial in the face of the economic facts is no indication of economic expertise, quite the contrary.

2.       I agree with Newton that maintaining Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic is essential, but I doubt any of the other leaders would hesitate to protect our claims there either.

3.       Also I can not argue with Newton’s reference to the strengthening of our military. It has been depleted beyond any realistic level. I do however take exception to the use of our military to support American Imperialism in Afghanistan and this war is his reason for the proposed increase in the military. We should not be there.

4.       Regarding the stimulus bill, I’m quite certain that all Canadians support the need to give the economy a boost. The disagreement with the Harper plan is how to proceed. Instead of bailouts and incentives to the ultra rich elite, a more appropriate approach would be to fix Employment Insurance so that people who paid into the program can receive the support that they deserve and to create a national poverty reduction program that would increase income levels of people living on fixed incomes from pensions, disability support and welfare. These people need the money to survive and would spend it thereby keeping it circulating in the economy rather than using it to supplement growing off shore bank accounts that do nothing to help the economy. Also, strong support for the green energy industry would create many new employment opportunities and move Canada to the forefront of developing new technologies that will be the next major growth industry of the world as we move to limit climate disruption and other negative effects of pollution.

5.       Infrastructure improvements are not merely important; they are essential and long overdue. I wonder why it takes an economic downturn for governments of all stripes to pay attention to the problem of an aging and inadequate infrastructure base.

6.       Ditto.

7.       Becoming Bush’s toady and proxy in American Imperialist war is nothing to brag about. It is our greatest shame. I can’t see how Harper has accomplished any meaningful improvements to Canada/US relations other than that. We have for the most part bee friendly neighbours with our American cousins and I see no justification for claiming that Harper has done anything unique in that area.

8.       Harper is an expert on the creation of flattering news releases, but his refusal to support Kyoto and his declaration that Canada does not need a national poverty reduction strategy speak to how out of step he is with the rest of the world. Furthermore, his boycott of both Premiere’s conferences on these topics speaks to how out of touch he is with the mood of the Canadian public at large.

9.       I readily agree that a reduction in such a regressive taxation as the GST is a good move. It should be eliminated as it places a huge burden on the ultra poor.

10.    Getting tough on crime is always a last resort strategy of a failing leader who would like to criminalize opposition to his reactionary leadership.

Back to the provincial level, Newton claims there is a huge difference between federal and provincial governance. I see almost no difference at all; not in how they get elected, not in how they govern and certainly not in how out of touch they are with the actual needs of our society. Voters who vote provincially for the NDP don’t do so in expectation of their party winning. They hope that a strong social democratic opposition will help keep the ruling party in check and prevent the kind of excesses that Harris instituted. You say that we won’t forget Bob Rae and will never elect an NDP government. I say we will not forget Harris and will strongly resist another travesty such as that from recurring.

Ron Newton, my friend, you asked me to take 20 minutes to reply, but I could never give the topic justice in that amount of time. This reply has taken over 2 hours to write. Hope it is helpful.

Cheryl Smith and Ted Heeley thanks for your contributions.

This by-election is a great run up to the impending federal election and I think this discussion ahs brought forward several crucial issues which should be addressed in these politically heated times.

Ron Newton

I dont agree with a lot you have written on your site, but of course I cant write a reaction to what you wrote on that site.
To say small things like "Harper said the recession wasnt going to be so bad dont worry about it" he's an economist and he's making sure Canadians arent afraid or panic like the 3 other idiots at the Federal level. to say he'... Read mores trying to deport a woman...is she Canadian? was she born here? If she is illegally here-then she should be deported. You complained about refugee status before and how much $$$ they get...you want this person to get free money????? You want to vote NDP thats your fault..just dont complain when Liberals win how much MORE they rape the poor. Believe whatever NDPer Layton tells you -he's full of shit anyways.
Ted: i think Harper is far from a dictator, because he wants to crush the opposition he's automatically tagged as one??? he closed parliament because he didnt want the bloc in governmental power..you want separatists dictating what
Canada

Ron Newton

is suppose to do? they would totalling disagree with Liberals and NDP unless it is all for Quebec, it would be a government mess having those 3 clowns in power. Vote who ever you want-its your choice..just don't complain when the liberals show you there real agenda-Raise taxes, rape our military again, and do nothing for the poor at all. And put us into serious debt like they did in the 1970s.

Ron. Craven

If my memory serves me, I believe Harper said something to the effect that we would not be affected by a recession. Even stating that recession would not be so bad proves that as an economist he is incompetent and if he said it knowing that it was a falsehood in order to prevent panic, he is also a cynical liar who believes that it is better to keep Canadians in blind ignorance of the facts because we are too stupid to be able to handle the truth. Either way we do not need such an incompetent liar as our leader.

Cheryl Smith

you'd be somewhat reactionary too if your income was suddenly cut by 40% and you faced policemen with guns at the welfare office and scorn and loathing from your fellow citizens. i see many similarities between harris and harper, and huddack for that matter.
Ron N, you are ill informed. don't mean to be antagonistic or insulting. you are blinded by your passion to the real truth. your passion would be useful in the fight for real change and emancipation in this world. too bad about your blind faith in the cons. people before profit
Ted, you sound like a reasonable man. when they come to take your housing away, your food and clothing, which is what harris did to us,( and the threat cons now pose in
ontario under huddack), you react, you don't read a book.
peace

Ron. Craven

The woman in question is a Canadian citizen, carrying a Canadian passport and all your belligerence does nothing to change the fact that Harper is attempting to keep her out of the country without due process in a court of law. This action is indicative of a banana republic dictator, not the leader of a democratic society and clearly shows that he is not worth of leading our country.

Ron Newton

Ron: Harper said that because Canada was one of the last countries to feel the effects, problem is that we rely on USA too much-that is why he is currently thinking of the future and signing free trade with a lot of our countries. If you feel he's a cynical liar for saying that thats just plain silly, you have this belief that Harper will be the ... Read morecause of the gap widening between poor and rich.Not true, working class is the ones running this country and they employ the poor and the rich employ the working class..maybe not that order but your following me right.
Cheryl: if you can produce or show me your version of proof I'll listen, I supported Chretien for many years and it was hard for me to believe the ad-scam..I could change my mind-but you have to prove it first. Prove why Harper isn't the better choice and who can do a better job. Iggy,
Layton, Green party, and the bloc I don't trust..who else is there to trust?

Ron Newton

And what is so threatening about Huddack??? Because he's a Con? I need more information that I'm not aware of to strike down a leader, not assumptions or opinion.

Ron Newton

Ron: show me the article, I'll read it and reply.

Ron. Craven

I find it laughable that anyone could put Harper forward as a serious choice for the job of protector of the poor. As I mentioned on my website where this whole conversation is recorded including my lengthy response to earlier comments, he declared to the world that Canada has no need of a National Poverty Reduction Plan and he boycotted the Premieres' meeting on poverty. This man has not the least amount of concern for the ever increasing level of poverty in Canada which accompanies unprecedented growth in the wealth of the elite.

Cheryl Smith

Ron N: This could be a learning experience for all of us and help the con campaign. find out what hudak's provincial poverty strategy intentions are, where he stands on this, and all related issues, like minimum wage. What does he believe about poverty, about the poor? Here is your chance to conform someone.

Cheryl Smith

the cons are thick with muck. they need to rpove they are not in ontario. they were brutal the last time they had power. YOU tell ME what's changed.You prove to US it's not the HORROR it was for us.

Cheryl Smith

PROVE TO US IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN

Cheryl Smith

I speak for the poor who joined me in the welfare offices, who were heavy with the stigma of shame and fear, police officers glaring at you. You have no idea my friend, what it means to be poor.

Cheryl Smith

that was after they cut our rates by almost 40%

Ron. Craven

You're making some good points Cheryl. Too many poeple ignore the devastating psychological effect that extreme poverty has on good people who deserve better.

Ron Newton

Cheryl: I grew up poor, I had a 17 yr old mother and a 20 yr old father. I know whats its like not to have an xmas tree or gifts underneath it, never assume you know about someone unless you actually know them. It seems to me all you care about is the poor, and what kind of handouts you receive. You still havent proved anything to me regarding on '... Read morewhy' the Conservatives are so bad, and if you want to mention about past leaders-Lets bring up Rae...what party was he in??? NDP-and you trust them? I have a belief that every leader should be given the benefit of the doubt. Dont compare Harris to Huddack..there two different people, and I'm sure the Cons will do a much better job then what the Liberals have been doing. Dalton McDumbass gave us a 50 billion dollar debt..Harper gave us a 50 billion dollar debt..who's the bad leader? The cons have said they are going to get rid of HST..this tax will hurt the poor, during the election listen to what he has to say-then judge him.

Ron. Craven

Ron N, you write yourself into a corner when you speak of Bob Rae, for that defeats any argument you could put forward for a new Conservative leader and how long did Rae stay with the NDP? Your argument against the NDP because of the Rae experience works even better with Harris who was much worse and much more recent. We'll forget Rae's inept governance long before we forget Harris' cruel gutting of the social safety net. On the same track, Harper is doing a fine job of ensuring that the Conservatives linger in opposition for years to come. You mention a 50 billion dollar debt under Harper. Better check your terms. Possibly deficit, not debt. and he did this the good old fashioned way, by ensuring that expenditures that should be federal were downloaded to the provinces.

Ron. Craven

The bottom line is as Cheryl stated, it is not a requirement that those who vote prove the reasons for their choices. It is the requirement of those who seek election to prove that they are fit to govern. As a spokesperson for the Conservatives, you have not given good reason to vote for them, but have tried to give reasons why we should not vote for the others. Not very promising my friend.

Cheryl Smith

that's the con way...just shoot everybody till you're the only one left standing. Harper has a tougher opponent with Innatief. Bar room bullying will not hold.
Prove to me how Hudak is different than Harris. My challenge stands.
How the poor and marginalized are treated in a society is of the utmost importance to me, you're right Ron. From our Natives to our ill to our transgendered to our old to our children to our new and old immigrants. yes Ron, they are my utmost concern.

Ron Newton

Hudak, 41, is a right-of-centre politician who is expected to take the party on a different path than John Tory's centrist-conservative vision. The trained economist wants to restore Ontario's reputation as Canada's wealthiest province. Slashing business taxes and cutting government spending are part of his plans if the Conservatives come back into power.
Ontario PCs will bring real protection to
Ontario home owners by promising to cap residential property assessment increases at 5 percent per year. The 5 percent cap first appeared in Erie-Lincoln MPP Tim Hudak's Bill 75, the Homestead Act. The Homestead Act won support of members of all three political parties but Dalton McGuinty has refused to allow a final vote on Hudak's Bill.
"Seniors on fixed incomes and working families have been hard hit by skyrocketing property assessments," said Hudak. "This cap will help preserve the Canadian value of home ownership."

Ron Newton

The PC plan would protect homeowners by:
* Establishing a five per cent annual cap on property assessment increases for as long as an individual owns their home (including if a property is transferred to a spouse);
* Implementing a new reverse onus appeal system so the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) will have to justify an assessment increase instead of placing the burden of proof on the homeowner; and
* Ensuring MPAC fully implements the recommendations of the Ombudsman, and if the serious problems identified by the Ombudsman have not been addressed, shutting down MPAC and building a better model.
Hudak and Tory also said a PC government will also address rural assessment inequalities that currently penalize
Ontario farmers. The PC policy will ensure that farmers who are encouraged to have value-added production services are not subject to unfair property tax assessments.

Ron Newton

Tim Hudak's leadership campaign sent out an email this morning outlining some policy announced yesterday at the Economic Club of Canada:
An immediate one-year payroll tax holiday on new hires
Suspending the Land Transfer Tax for one-year on all new and resale home purchases, saving homebuyers almost $3,000 on the purchase of a $300,000 home
Stopping sales tax harmonization in Ontario
A $2,000 government subsidy to anyone purchasing or leasing a new car, provided they are turning in a car that is more than 10 years old.
A wage freeze across the Ontario Public Service for senior government administrators, non-unionized employees and MPPs for the duration of the recession
A less-specific promise to lay out a plan for business taxes that would stimulate private sector job creation
this is what I found so far...

Ron Newton

So if the Cons slash business taxes, and property taxes, get rid of the HST it will create a lot more money for the province. Meaning more jobs which creates more available taxes then in turn it can be focused on the less fortunate. Makes sense to me, having Dalton McDumbass and his band of Fiberals are just going to widen the gap between the poor and the rich..this is all common sense. Why compare a past leader to present leader?? So I suppose we can compare Iggy with Trudeau?Broadbent with Layton? listen more to the news regarding the Cons and you'll see more of his platform..I'm sure he'll be presenting a lot of it in the next 2 yrs.

Ron. Craven

As I see it, each and every one of these proposals are designed to increase the gap between the upper classes and the poor. Tax breaks and the rest of these proposals do absolutely nothing to alleviate the suffering of the poor and are merely ploys to con the middle class into voting for a more fragmented society where the poor get left further and further behind. The danger in this philosophy is that as the gap increases so does the animosity between the classes and the danger of a violent insurgence is very real. This platform will certainly be attractive the haves of the population. It will be my responsibility to mobilize the have not segment in opposition.


 I had the following debate on Facebook with my friend Ron Newton

Me. What we need most urgently is a more equitable taxation system. A system where NO PERSON LIVING BELOW THE POVERTY LINE IS TAXED AT ALL and where people earning exorbitant incomes are held responsible for contributing a far greater portion of their incomes to taxation. And get rid of ALL the loopholes that allow the rich to avoid paying their fair share.

Ron. You cant totally say that Ron, if that was the case the people wo earn higher incomes would just move south.

Me. Not likely. The American society is in greater trouble than our own. Canada is still a far more preferable place to live and most would rather pay for that quality of life. Furthermore, I'm not advocating penury taxation, just equitable taxation. The right to enjoy living in our society needs to be financed by those who can afford it. They couldn't have the lifestyle they enjoy without the work of the millions of people living in poverty doing menial yet important work at rates of income that leave them as virtual slaves in this country. Thanks for the comment Ron. I was hoping someone would take the opposite side of the question. It's a subject that really needs to be debated in the public forum.

Ron. Also I don't think it's exactly fair to say that a person below poverty line shouldn't pay any taxes, nor should the rich be penalized for being rich. You must understand why employers pay lower wages...because of immigrants that come into this country and are willing to work for a smaller wage. Don’t get me wrong, i respect hard working immigrants. And as for 'loop holes' I suppose your referring to RRSPs? When i think of all the advantages the rich have towards taxes, it is fair. First of all they pay a hell of a lot more taxes then the average person; second of all they also pay luxury taxes on more expensive things. they pay higher taxes on property taxes.

Me. Are you saying that in a country as rich as Canada it is just to tax people who can't afford to pay rent and buy food for their kids and are living in abject poverty doing important work that is absolutely necessary in our society to keep things going? I have to vehemently oppose that stance. It doesn't matter whether they were born here or immigrated, citizens and permanent residents of Canada deserve to be able to pay their rent and feed their kids and have a little left over for a little enjoyment in life.

Ron. No I would never say what you just implied, I just don't think that because someone is under poverty line shouldn't pay any taxes. Plus I know that people in lower tax brackets get additional help from the government. Such as child tax credit(formally baby bonus), there is universal child tax credit to children under 6, there are daycare programs families can apply too, there entitled to gst credit, they can claim a portion of their rental costs. and there is more programs to mention (not enough room). The biggest problem is the fact that rent control was taken away from Ontario, with that back in place I'm sure it would benefit alot of lower income families.

Me. I guess Ron the real issue is not how a person achieves an standard of living. The issue is the injustice of the distribution of wealth in this country Be it from wages, government programs or tax relief, something must be done to relieve the suffering of the poorest in our society. The fact remains that there is no excuse for our society forcing people to live in poverty amid vast riches. My taxation suggestions are just one possible solution. A liveable minimum wage would also work if coupled with increases in social assistance ane EI benefits. If we approach the issue fro the wages end of the pole, the problem of employers avoiding providing mandated benefits by filling full time positions with several part time people or by contracting the work rather than hiring employees needs to be addressed. Not only does a part time employee fall into a lower minimum wage category, but he is denied the benefits that law requires an employer to pay a full time employer. These loopholes need to be closed. There should be only ONE minimum wage. Anything else is a contradiction in terms. And ALL employees and contract workers should be covered by legally mandated benefits. Also, your mention of reinstating rent controls troubles me. There are two reasons. First, rent controls result in declining maintenance of buildings and ALWAYS precipitate declining construction of new rental buildings creating drastic shortages in the rental market.
Second, rent controls place the onus of our society's obligation to ensure a reasonable standard of living on a very small segment of the population, namely landlords.

Ron. No no Ron that isn't true, i remember back when i was 18yrs old they had rent control, it was great. And there are laws in which landlords have to keep apartments up to par-problem is people are afraid to say anything. LOL..you know how many times I have fought with the rental company that runs my building? Personally..I'm a pitbull to rights. You could see my name in politics in the near future, right now I'm absorbing every level of life from rich down to poor..people opinions,there needs, concerns..plus i want to volunteer for a friend who's thinking of running for city council. You'd be surprised on how well it works for rent control.

Me. I was a landlord during those years with two Eighteen suite buildings and I and many of my fellow landlord friends had no choice but to allow our buildings to deteriorate. I was losing thousands of dollars each month on each building out of my pocket and the Rent Review Board just refused to acknowledge actual expenses that had to be paid. I was forced to sell the buildings at a loss or go bankrupt. Why should landlords be held responsible and be forced to foot the bill for a problem of social injustice that should be dealt with by the WHOLE society, not just landlords?

Ron. Wow..sorry to hear that. But don't they have laws today that say they can add the cost of what you described in the above and apply it to yearly rent increase? (after they submit an application)

Me. Furthermore, property standards by-laws are a joke. Every slum landlord on the city ignores them and they are NOT enforced. All rent controls accomplishes is to turn honest landlords into slum landlords because the revenue to maintain the buildings just is NOT there. Those laws were always there, but the Commissioners who approve rent increases disallowed a large proportion of the expenses that had to be done and were already spent, leaving a negative income after actual expenses.

Ron. Oh I know about slum landlords, there's one in the building across from where I live. I have called the city numerous times about the health issues this building has and they only came out a few times.small fine-it's paid-then i have to repeat the cycle. Maybe we should have a Premier with balls that can implicate all of our concerns..problem is..Dalton McDumbass and his band of Fiberals kept getting elected.

Me. Well look at the options. Ontario refuses to elect the NDP and the Conservatives nation wide have swung so far to the right that they're teetering on the border line of Fascism.

Ron. Well biggest problem I see is nobody gets their ass to the voting stations, let's see what a full majority Harper gov can bring us..I'm happy so far..but a lot of the time i hold my breath

Me. The problem with politics in the day and age of polster is they no longer can be relied upn to vote according to their principles. We can't vote for a politician based on his ideals any more since they all will vote the opposite of their stated beliefs if they think it will get them elected next time around.

Ron. Yeah I see that alot..but not with this Prime Minister. he has promised a lot..has delivered, some he cant because of minority gov

Me. That's why I like debating with you Ron. You and I are exact opposites in how we perceive politics. I at present am strongly opposed to Harper and the policies of the right. At present I support the NDP, but that changes with the times. If in the future , we Canadians swing too far to the left, I'll go back to supporting the Conservatives or Liberals. I am not interested in dogma. My concern is with the quality of our society as awhole and I vote for a fair and equitable balance in our society. Right now that balance is out of whack to the Right, so I support the Left. When it was out of balance to the Left I supported the Right.

Ron. I enjoy debates with you also..but I cant trust layton..he sided with the Bloc BEFORE the election

Me. Goes back to the problem I mentioned above. Politicians grab for POWER any way they can get it.

Ron. That’s something we both agree on :)

Me. But let's face it, the Block will NEVER take Quebec out of Canada. That's not their REAL agenda. It's all blackmail. Quebec will never leave as long as we keep paying through the nose to keep them here. Every time they want to up the anti, they just threaten another Referendum.

Ron. But they cant threaten a referendum..Dion authored a law so they cant..will be hard for them to change it. And if they do..let them go. (I hate to break up Canada) But I'm tired of how there allowed in parliament and there against Canada, let them have there own debt, let them create a worthless currency, take back our military. Threaten them with war..lol..just kidding, but you see my point

Me. What do you think, should I apply for a job at U of T as a professor in political science?

Ron. Sure why not, I will even sign up for a class..just dont give me a bad grad because of the partism against each other-lol

Me. I see you point, but the fact remains that if Quebec left, we'd lose the whole Eastern seaboard to the US. The would spell the end of Canada. The rest of us would be face with the choice of forming a few smal countries or joining the states too. LOL. Debate is the highest sign of social health. I'd have to keep failing you just to keep you in the class as a teaching tool. LOL x2

Ron. You think we'd lose the eastern seaboard? mmmm I dont think Canada would let it get that far

Me. We wouldn't be able to keep them. Too much geographic separation and we really couldn't hdeal with crossing borders to get from one part of Canada to the other.

Is Obama just another cynical opportunist?

I try to give Obama the benefit of the doubt when I say his ideals are in the right place even if he balks at doing the right thing. I have said from day 1 that we can't trust Obama to be the miracle worker everyone thought he would be. How can he possibly make significant change when he and every major politician are bought and paid for? It costs $100million just to run for the US presidency. He certainly didn't get that kind of money from people like you or me. He got it from the very same people who financed his opponent's campaign. It's all just a sham to con the people into believing there is still a democracy at work, when in fact, the people with the REAL power, don't care who gets elected because before they even get to the starting gate both candidates in the race are owned by the same people. We will never see any fundamental change in the system of economic slavery that has been inflicted on us unless/until there is total worldwide economic collapse. Only when all hope of preserving this system has been abandoned will we proceed to reinvent our socio/economic system along more democratic lines. That is if there is anyone left alive by then.

A grafitti portrait of a native homeless boy, now deceased.

Public hearings for recommendations to improve Bill 152

These public hearings before the standing committee responsible for drafting the new Poverty Reduction Act are designed to allow stakeholders to make recommendations for improvements to the existing proposal before it is passed into law. Yesterday several organizations, including The Social Planning Network, The Wellesley Institute and 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction offered their recommendations. A common thread through most of these presentations was the concern that by only addressing the problem of poverty amongst children while doing nothing for single adults in particular, the act excludes the majority of people suffering from poverty from any assistance. This creates a situation where the government can do nothing for the majority of those in need while appearing to be concerned with poverty by singling out a small segment that will be popular for assistance. The speakers were strongly proposing a universal plan that should be inclusive of all people suffering from poverty. Let us hope that the government abandons its’ attempt to divide us and amends Bill 152 to make poverty reduction universal for all Ontarians.

Poverty effects us all. Any solution that doesn't address it universally is a sham.

About Bill 152: The Poverty Reduction Act, 2009

By the Income Security Advocacy Centre

Public hearings at Queens Park Parliament building front door Room 1

April 20 @ 2pm and April 21 @ 4pm

On February 25, 2009, the provincial government introduced Bill 152: The Poverty Reduction Act, 2009.

This legislation is very significant because it acknowledges that poverty is not inevitable and that government can and should create policy to reduce poverty. But it has been criticized for a variety of shortcomings.

Bill 152 is not yet law, so there is still time to fix the problems.

The Bill passed first reading in the legislature on March 25 and has been sent to the Standing Committee on Social Affairs for review. The Standing Committee will hold two days of hearings in Toronto, where presenters can comment on the Bill and make recommendations for how it can be improved.

The hearings will take place on April 20 and 21 and will only be held in Toronto, despite efforts to get hearings across the province. However, written submissions will also be accepted.

To make an oral presentation on Bill 152, you must register with the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs by 12:00 noon on Thursday April 16, 2009.

The Clerk is Katch Koch, who can be reached at 416-325-3526 or e-mail: katch_koch@ontla.ola.org

To make a written submission, simply send the submission to the Clerk by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

To help groups prepare, the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction is consulting with lawyers familiar with the legislative process and human rights law, and people who have worked on similar poverty reduction legislation in Quebec to analyze the bill and draft recommendations.

If you are considering making a presentation, you may want to use 25 in 5's recommendations as a basis for your own work. Information about 25 in 5's recommendations will be available at www.25in5.ca by April 17.

 

The letter notifying the public about the Standing Committee's hearings is pasted below:

Bill 152 – Poverty Reduction Act, 2009

Projet de loi 152 – Loi de 2009 sur la réduction de la pauvreté

The Standing Committee on Social Policy will meet to consider Bill 152, An Act respecting a long-term strategy to reduce poverty in Ontario.

The Committee intends to hold public hearings in Toronto on Monday, April 20 and Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

Interested people who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation on Bill 152 should contact the Committee Clerk by 12:00 noon on Thursday, April 16, 2009.

Those who do not wish to make an oral presentation but wish to comment on the Bill may send written submissions to the Committee Clerk at the address below by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

An electronic version of the Bill is available on the Legislative Assembly website at: www.ontla.on.ca.

Shafiq Qaadri, MPP            Katch Koch

Chair / Président                Clerk / Greffier

Room 1405, Whitney Block / Bureau 1405, édifice Whitney

Queen’s Park, Toronto ON M7A 1A2

Telephone / Téléphone:   (416) 325-3526

Facsimile / Télécopieur:  (416) 325-3505

TTY / ATS :  (416) 325-3538

Collect calls will be accepted. / Nous acceptons les appels à frais virés.

Ces renseignements sont disponibles en français sur demande.

We must eliminate the need for this type of shelter

My submission to the public hearings for

Bill 152: The Poverty Reduction Act 2009

To:          Katch Koch

Clerk of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs

And to:    Premier McGuinty

Bill 152 is a prime example of the government’s ongoing policy of too little too late when it comes to unprecedented poverty and homelessness in one of the wealthiest societies ever to exist on this planet. This bill does absolutely nothing to address the growing numbers of social assistance recipients who are being forced into homelessness because the rental allowance portion of their benefits is inadequate to cover rental costs for even the worst slum dwelling situations. As the current economic meltdown continues to spread and the ranks of the unemployed expand exponentially, we face a desperate situation where thousands of families and single people will face eviction once their EI coverage expires and they are forced to rely upon Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program income. If the government fails to correct this situation by raising the rental portion of these programs to a level that will allow people to pay market rent for decent housing, we face a social disaster beyond precedence.

It is admirable that the government intends to take measures to reduce the suffering of families affected by the economic situation, but it is deplorable that the needs of single persons have been completely ignored.

It is time to correct this measure by imposing a tax on extreme wealth that would fund a redistribution of funds to ensure that no family or single person residing in Ontario is forced into homelessness because of inability to pay rent. Act now. The consequences of inaction are far too overwhelming to contemplate.

Thank you for considering my comments.

Yours truly

Ronald Craven

130 Eglinton Ave E #1107

Toronto On

M4P 2X9

416 820-6036

ronzig@rogers.com            

See my website about poverty and homelessness at…

http://downbutnotout.synthasite.com/

Making the best of a bad situation

It just isn’t fair

This sure does not please me.  Why is our Government so generous?

CANADA PENSION - A Must Read: Only in Canada

Do not apply for your old age pension...Apply to be a refugee!   It is interesting that the federal Government provides a single refugee with

a monthly allowance of $1,890.00 and each can get an additional

$580.00 in social assistance for a total of $2,470.00.

This compares very well to a single pensioner who, after contributing
to the growth and development of
Canada for 40 or 50 years, can only receive a monthly maximum of $1,012.00 in old age pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement.  Maybe our pensioners should apply

as refugees!
Let's send this thought to as many Canadians as we can and maybe we

can get the refugees cut back to $1,012.00 and the pensioners up to $2,470.00, so they can enjoy the money they were forced to submit to
the Canadian government for those 40 to 50 years.

I received this shocking information from a friend and wonder why our government treats refugees so well when a homeless single person can only receive about $300.00 per month in social assistance. There must be an explanation why a newcomer to our country is entitled to EIGHT TIMES as much financial assistance as someone who was born here. Could it be that our political leaders wish to be viewed by the international community as humanitarian people while at the same time remaining as cynical as ever to the suffering they sponsor here in Canada?

People all over the world have to live with the daily threat that the guns will destoy everything they cherish.

 The Ontario budget doesn’t meet the criteria of The Poverty Reduction Act, 2009

In the explanatory not below, the Poverty Reduction Act gives 3 criteria that the government is required to address,

(a) a specific poverty reduction target;

(b) initiatives designed to improve the economic and social conditions of persons and families living in poverty; and

(c) indicators that are linked to the determinants of poverty to measure the success of the strategy.

Part (b) has not been adequately addressed. When we study the wording of this phrase we realize that it appears to mean that the government should take steps to improve the social and economic conditions of all persons living in poverty, but in reality they only need to take steps to improve the conditions of 2 or more persons and that loophole has been utilized in the proposed budget. This budget targets children to the exclusion of all the rest of the people who are suffering in poverty. This cynical disregard for the suffering of the majority of people living in poverty including the physically and mentally handicapped, seniors and people living on social assistance who have no children is simply not acceptable.

We must demand an equitable poverty reduction plan that includes every Ontarian living in poverty, without exception. Nothing less will do.

The act states in section 1,

“Importance of all Ontarians”

1. That there is untapped potential in Ontario’s population that needs to be drawn upon by building and establishing supports for, and eliminating barriers to, full participation by all people in Ontario’s economy and society.

By ignoring the majority of Ontarians living in poverty in the proposed budget, the government has indicated that it intends of continue with the policies that have created unprecedented numbers of people living below the poverty line, in particular, those who are homeless. As Employment Insurance payments run out for the many thousands of Ontarians who have and will soon loose their jobs due to the current economic meltdown, many, many thousands more will join the ranks of those living in poverty and thousands of these will end up homeless unless the situation is addresses NOW. We require measures to ensure that a minimum wage earner is enabled to live above the poverty line and that those receiving social assistance, whether it be Ontario Works, ODSP or Seniors benefits will no longer live in extreme poverty.

It states in section 5,

“Respect”

5. That all people in Ontario, including those living in poverty, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Where is this respect when the government chooses to ignore the majority of Ontarians living in poverty and make no attempts whatsoever to improve their lot?

EXPLANATORY NOTE

The Poverty Reduction Act, 2009 requires the Government of Ontario to maintain the long-term poverty reduction strategy setout in Breaking the Cycle — Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, published on December 4, 2008, or another long-term poverty reduction strategy that is guided by the vision of a province where every person has the opportunity to achieve his full potential and contribute to and participate in a prosperous and healthy Ontario. Every new or modified long-term poverty reduction strategy is to be based on the principles set out in the Bill and include,

(a) a specific poverty reduction target;

(b) initiatives designed to improve the economic and social conditions of persons and families living in poverty; and

(c) indicators that are linked to the determinants of poverty to measure the success of the strategy.

The Government of Ontario is required to establish a specific poverty reduction target at least every five years.

The Minister is required, commencing at the end of 2009, to prepare, and subsequently publish on a Government website, an annual report on the Government’s long-term poverty reduction strategy, including activities to support the strategy and avail-able information relating to the indicators set out in the strategy.

The Minister is required to regularly consult with such key stakeholders, other levels of government, members of the private, public and non-profit sectors and individuals, including those living in poverty, as the Minister considers advisable with respect to the Government’s long-term poverty reduction strategy.

At least every five years, the Government of Ontario must re-view the long-term poverty reduction strategy then in effect. The Minister is required to inform the public of the review, solicit the views of the public and carry out consultations. As a result of each review, the Government is to issue a new long-term poverty reduction strategy.

Here is a copy of The Poverty Reduction Act, 2009,

the government's poverty reduction strategy

and the poverty report

b152.pdf b152.pdf
Size : 0.35 Kb
Type : pdf
Ontario's_Poverty_Report_EN.pdf Ontario's_Poverty_Report_EN.pdf
Size : 1.274 Kb
Type : pdf

A typical home in Toronto's wealthy Rosedale neighbourhood. 

Remember Rachel Corrie

Rachel Corrie was a rare and wonderful person who cared enough about what’s right and what isn’t to put her life on the line in the belief that no human being could be so evil as to cross that line. Unfortunately an Israeli bulldozer operator who was demolishing Palestinian homes didn’t agree. She was murdered, crushed by a bulldozer as she tried to protect a family’s home.

http://www.rachelcorriefoundation.org/ is a website dedicated to furthering her efforts.

http://www.rachelcorrie.org/ is a memorial site describing her life and continuing her efforts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3JI-axaRF4 will take you to a live interview with Rachel Corrie in Palestine where she describes the horror of the Israelis’ systematic destruction of Palestinian homes. 

United Nations Condemns Canadian Housing Policy

On Friday October 15, 2007 there was a public forum hosted by the Wellesley Institute, with Miloon Kothari, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, along with representatives of Aboriginal, women and homeless groups. We we were there to hear Miloon set out the details of his fact-finding mission and the international right to adequate housing. Local experts set out the issues and solutions for Toronto. Toronto Star report

The lead editorial in the Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007, issue of The Toronto Star contained a powerful piece by Elaine Carey and backs the preliminary observations by Miloon Kothari, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, and sets out a strong call to action. The piece is reprinted below. There was consistently good media coverage of Miloon’s mission to Canada , a question was raised in Parliament on Thursday and the media (at least the Star) hasn’t let this important mission fade.

Non-governmental groups should incorporate Miloon’s preliminary observations into our work leading up to the next federal budget.

While Miloon has completed the first stage of his fact-finding mission to Canada with the release of his preliminary observations on Monday, the second – and critically important – stage has begun. Miloon is preparing a detailed country report with a series of specific recommendations to the Government of Canada. This will be debated at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council – the highest human rights body within the United Nations – in a few months.

Miloon has asked for any additional information – statistics, stories, recommendations for action – that non-governmental groups want to pass along. Please stay tuned for details.

Here’s the Star piece:

A 3-point strategy for better housing Oct 28, 2007

Canadians really didn't need a United Nations envoy to tour the country and announce that Canada 's major cities to overcrowded shelters and rotting public housing buildings. urgently needs to tackle its affordable housing crisis. The signs of it are everywhere, from homeless beggars on the streets of

But the visit last week by Miloon Kothari , the UN's special rapporteur on adequate housing, did shine a spotlight on the shocking lack of affordable housing options in a country as rich as Canada. Successive federal and provincial governments have pledged to address the problem, but all have fallen far short of meeting the growing demand for reasonably priced housing for low-income families and individuals. What is lacking is a co-ordinated federal-provincial housing strategy, in effect a national plan that would ensure every Canadian has a decent place to call home. Such a blueprint must take a three-pronged approach: new construction of affordable homes, rent subsidies and renovation of existing homes. The three areas need to be tackled together, not in isolation or in any prescribed order. Rather, a holistic approach is best suited to addressing the problem. As a key leg of the three-pronged strategy, it is imperative that Ottawa kick-start a renewed national housing program with a goal of building up to 200,000 affordable and co-operative housing units over the next 10 years. The homes are needed in cities, rural areas and native reserves. Ottawa effectively got out of the affordable housing sector in 1993 when it downloaded the area to the provinces. Because of that, only a few major programs have been funded. The result is that in the past decade, fewer than one new affordable rental unit has been built for every 100 new homes. And overall rental construction is lagging. Across Ontario , up to 12,000 new rental apartments are needed annually, three times what has been built each year between 2000 and 2005. The consequences are felt most acutely in the Greater Toronto Area where only 2,000 new affordable rental units have been built in the past five years, while more than 67,000 people remain on waiting lists. The second leg of the strategy should be a greatly expanded rent supplement program. Obviously, new affordable housing cannot be built fast enough to meet existing demand. That's why paying subsidies to put low-income residents into vacant rental units is necessary. While some housing advocates view rent supplements as a short-term measure that does not solve the overall problem, such subsidies do provide temporary support and needed housing for those in desperate need. Currently, a family of four receives a shelter allowance of only $544 to cover rent. However, the average market rent in Toronto has risen to $1,052 for a two-bedroom apartment. During the recent election campaign, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised a new $100-a-month rent supplement program to help 27,000 Ontario families. That is a welcome first step, but it should only be an initial step. More assistance will be needed because McGuinty's plan will still leave thousands of families scrambling for help to pay their rent. The third part of the strategy would be a major commitment to renovate public housing that is aging and falling into disrepair. In Toronto alone, the city's 58,000 units of public housing require an estimated $300 million in repairs. Many of those buildings are now more than 50 years old, with plumbing that leaks and ceilings that are cracked. The preferred way to deal with this issue is for Queen's Park to upload the cost of renovations. When the Conservative government under Mike Harris downloaded the cost of social housing to municipalities in 2001, it refused to give the cities the money needed to deal with repairs. McGuinty should make reversing this policy the first priority of his re-elected government. Together, these measures would form the basis of a federal-provincial affordable housing strategy that would go a long way toward helping the neediest among us – those who cannot work, single parents and the working poor – have a better life.

Miloon Kothari, Special Rapporteur for the United Nations, speaking in Toronto. Oct 15, 2007

 

Miloon Kothari, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, speaks in Toronto

Councilor Barbara Hall spoke to the audience.

UN Housing Envoy Sounds Alarm

The Wellesley Institute has concluded that Canada has received both a sharp reprimand and a strong call to action from Miloon Kothari, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. In his preliminary observations at the end of his fact-finding mission to Canada, which Wellesley helped organize, Mr. Kothari said he is “disturbed” by the lack of adequate housing in such a wealthy country. After visiting Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto and several Aboriginal communities, Mr. Kothari concluded that “Canada is not complying with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which it is a signatory.” 

Canadian Housing & Renewal Association Executive Director Sharon Chisholm told Housing Again that Mr. Kothari has “sounded an alarm” and she hopes the decision makers in Canada have been “awakened by his visit.” 

Canada, as we all know it, is a caring progressive nation interested in equity and diversity,” she said.  “We like to believe that this has led to equal opportunity for all, but the Canada we know has been quietly changing, with some left to struggle with crowded, unaffordable housing and diminishing opportunity for themselves and their children, while a growing number of others are homeless.”  

Mr. Kothari has reminded Canadians and Canadian governments that “we cannot be complacent, that our lot can get worse without timely but considered and smart interventions like sustainable program funding.” Chisholm said.  

After witnessing the “situation on the street,” the Special Envoy concluded that Canada has “failed to incorporate these international legal standards into policy and legislation that would have a practical impact,” he said following a public event in Toronto. The obvious disparity between the wealthy and the poor in Canada has worsened, Mr. Kothari said, because the country was once known for progressive housing policies, but has experienced “significant erosion of housing policy” since budget cuts in the mid-1990s. 

Mr. Kothari expressed concerns about the three federal housing initiatives that are set to expire in 2008 — the Affordable Housing Initiative, Affordable Housing Trusts and Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program — and urged the government to include a five- to-ten year renewal in a national housing strategy, he said during a press conference in Ottawa.  

Mr. Kothari also called for large-scale building of social housing units, targeted funding for marginalized groups, including women and Aboriginal people, and rent regulation laws. All of his observations and recommendations mirror those that have been made in the past by housing advocates in Canada, said Mary-Martha Hale, Chair of the Alliance to End Homelessness. 

Mr. Kothari’s preliminary observations are the first stage towards completing a major review of Canada’s compliance with its international housing rights obligations. While in the country, he paid particular attention to four issues—homelessness, women and adequate housing, indigenous peoples’ adequate housing and the effects on housing of mega-events like the upcoming 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
As part of his fact-finding mission (October 9 - 22), he met with senior government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations and people who are directly experiencing Canada’s nation-wide affordable housing and homelessness crisis. 

The Toronto housing forum was the only public event during his Canadian mission. Mr. Kothari was joined by Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which recently completed a province-wide consultation on housing rights.  

For further information on the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, consult the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

 

Parliament's reaction

39th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 008

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oral Questions

Housing

Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to housing, the government is going in the wrong direction.

“Very disturbing”, “devastating impact”, “national crisis” were words used by the UN special

envoy on adequate housing, describing the housing situation in Canada. He noted Canada once

had a world famous housing program, summarily abandoned, he confirmed, by past Liberal

governments.

Given a $14 billion surplus, given federal housing trust funds, and given the crisis, when will

the government take real action on affordable housing and homelessness?

Hon. Monte Solberg (Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the government is very concerned about the plight of people who do not have a

roof over their heads. That is why we put in place a housing trust that will provide homes for

tens of thousands of people over the next few years.

We have put in place the homelessness partnering strategy, which has been heralded by

many groups across this country. It is a community based initiative that is designed to prevent

homelessness and put a roof over the heads of people who are struggling and who have been

left behind so they can get the help they need.

Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, reports today note the waiting list for affordable housing in Edmonton now tops

3,000 families. Some 70,000 wait in Toronto. Montreal homeless shelters report today that 400

emergency beds are in peril due to funding shortfalls. Vancouver awaits action on Olympic legacy

housing promises. In Victoria, over 1,500 people are homeless.

We need action today to build homes, not just shelters. We need action today, so families do

not have to choose between rent or electricity. When will the government announce a national

housing strategy that actually builds homes?

Hon. Monte Solberg (Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the member does not have a monopoly on concern on this issue. We are very

concerned about it which is why one of the first things we did, as a government, was put in place

a $1.4 billion housing trust which is designed to create thousands and thousands of homes for

Canadians.

We have also moved in concert with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

to create an on reserve market based housing fund which will provide homes for 25,000

aboriginals on reserve.

We are acting, whereas the member who is concerned about this obviously is simply flapping

his gums. We are getting something done.

My interpretation of this exchange is that the present government is satisfied with its band aid solutions to a growing crisis in housing. They are content to maintain the status quo in this situation and refuse to address it with a meaningful approach. IT’S TIME WE, THE PEOPLE OF CANADA MAKE A CHANGE. Be sure to vote for candidates and parties in the next election who are willing to do something significant.

You'd think with all these structures they'd be able to find a place for our homeless people to live in dignity.

My submission to The United Nations

1) Homelessness is NOT a problem, it’s a political agenda.

2) Economic slavery is the primary cause of homelessness. We are governed by people who owe their jobs to campaign funding from the upper classes. No wonder they refuse to protect poor people who are FORCED to work long hours for wages that are not sufficient to provide food and shelter for their families.

3) Subsidized housing & rent geared to income has created two classes of poverty. Those with government funded housing can live reasonably well and are the fortunate ones. Those without, live a daily existence on the edge of homelessness and have to spend money which should go to food on rent. They can not afford both. It’s either inadequate nourishment or homelessness. It is naïve to think that the failed policy of building so called affordable housing will ever come close to solving the homelessness issue. No government can afford to build enough housing units to ever make a difference.

4) We don’t need to build affordable housing; we need to afford the existing housing. There presently exists more than enough vacant housing to accommodate all of the homeless people. The problem is that people on social assistance or working at minimum wage do not have enough income to pay reasonable market rents. Our government has made war on the poor by failing to ensure a reasonable income for either of these groups. A livable minimum wage and reasonable social assistance rates would eliminate most homelessness. If government would give landlords a tax break for setting aside a portion of their housing units to rent at the rate provided for by ODSP or Ontario Works, we could eliminate most of the homelessness caused by affordability problems immediately.

5) Addictions along with physical and mental disabilities are major contributing factors in homelessness and next to economic slavery, are the most significant causes of homelessness. It is unconscionable that in the richest society that has ever existed on Earth, we still condemn sick people from these groups to homelessness and an early death. Any politician who says we can not afford to give these people proper care and a safe home is an outright liar.

6) There will always be a few people who choose to remain homeless, but if we give most homeless people a reasonable alternative, they will pounce on the opportunity and homelessness will be almost completely eradicated.

7) It is incredible that a multi billion dollar industry has been instituted to deal with homelessness when allowing people a livable income would eliminate its need at a fraction of the cost.

8) Police harassment, illegal tactics and brutality towards homeless people NEED TO CEASE IMMEDIATLEY. I could site several examples of police brutality, but the most outrageous is one where two police officers threw a friend of mine off a railway overpass in an attempt to kill him. He lived, but sustained multiple fractures to both of his legs. I watched as two police officers soused my squat and ALL MY WORLDLY POSSESSIONS in gasoline and set them on fire. We need a civilian watchdog to handle complaints about police. When I lodged a formal complaint, there was NO MEANINGFUL INVESTIGATION. Neither I nor a second eyewitness were ever interviewed. Every homeless person knows there is no sense in complaining about these events. Nothing is ever done except often there is severe police retaliation.

9) Homelessness in most underdeveloped countries is also a matter of economic slavery and political agenda. The difference is that there, a third element exacerbates the situation. Many of these countries rely on economic and material aid from the developed nations. Not nearly enough aid is forthcoming and corrupt political leaders and bureaucrats siphon off most of the cream so that little actually reaches the intended recipients. Add piracy to the mix and it’s easy to see why millions of people world wide continue to wander homeless and starving to death.

10) In spite of the lip service and band-aid solutions being offered up, homelessness and starvation continue to increase throughout the developed and undeveloped world at an alarming rate. Will it take violent worldwide uprisings by these desperate victims of social greed and avarice to facilitate meaningful action? If so, beware, for the time is rapidly approaching.

 

I presented a document on the topic to Mr. Kothari

The Results as reported by the Wellesley Institute

Canada has received both a sharp reprimand and a strong call to action in the preliminary observations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari , in his preliminary observations at the end of his fact-finding mission to Canada (October 22, 2007). 

The preliminary observations are the first stage towards completing a major review on Canada’s compliance with its international housing rights obligations. The report will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the highest human rights body within the UN, early in the New Year. 

Mr. Kothari visited five Canadian cities and several Aboriginal communities during his mission from October 9 to 22. He met with senior government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations and people who are directly experiencing Canada ’s nation-wide affordable housing and homelessness crisis. 

“Everything I witnessed on this mission confirms the deep and devastating impact of this national crisis on the lives of women, youth, children and men,” said Mr. Kothari. “Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, which makes the prevalence of this crisis all the more striking.” 

Mr. Kothari’s preliminary observations are a devastating indictment of almost two decades of funding cuts by governments in Canada , not just of housing programs but also income assistance and other initiatives. 

Canada has a reputation around the world for its progressive housing policies and programs, but that is no longer the case,” said Mr. Kothari. “Canada ’s successful social housing programme, which created more than half a million homes starting in 1973, no longer exists. Canada has fallen behind most countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and development in its level of investment in affordable housing. Canada has one of the smallest social housing sectors among developed countries.

 Along with his preliminary observations, Mr. Kothari has made a series of recommendations to the federal government, including: 

- a comprehensive national housing strategy, coordinated with the provinces and territories;

- a “large-scale” building of social housing units;

- an immediate extension of the federal government’s affordable housing programs, which are due to expire at the end of fiscal 2008;

- immediate steps to fully recognize international economic, social and cultural rights in all Canadian domestic laws; as part of a national housing strategy, specific initiatives directed at groups forced onto the margins, including women, Aboriginal people, elders, youth, members of racialized communities, immigrants and others;

- an immediate extension of the federal housing renovation program that is due to expire at the end of fiscal 2008;

- a comprehensive fix for the subsidy erosion faced by s.95 housing co-operatives; funding and resources to ensure that all Canadians have access to potable water and proper sanitation;

- an immediate extension of the federal homelessness program, which is due to expire in fiscal 2008;

- a consistent framework of tenant protection and rent regulation laws across the country that meet the standards set by international housing rights laws;

- additional housing allowances as part of a national housing strategy;

- inclusive zoning and planning practices across the country;

- a comprehensive and properly-funded poverty reduction strategy at the federal level, and with provinces and territories; measures to address the urgent, short-term and long-term needs of women;

- progressive legislation to address violence against women;

- creation, funding and implementation of programs and policies to support women in the area of housing and domestic violence;

- funding and resources to a national Aboriginal housing strategy, on and off-reserve, that ensures that Aboriginal housing and services are under Aboriginal control;

- a moratorium on oil and extractive activities at Lubicon until a settlement is reached with the Lubicon Lake Nation;

- specific targets and strategies, and independent monitoring, of the Vancouver Olympics;

- funding and programs to sustain non-governmental organizations over time;

- the development of proper statistics and indicators for homelessness and housing insecurity.  

Over the next four months, Mr. Kothari will continue to monitor the activities of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and will work with non-governmental organizations in Canada to develop a comprehensive report on housing and homelessness in Canada . 

* * *

Michael Shapcott, Senior Fellow

The Wellesley Institute

45 Charles Street East, #101

Toronto, ON., Canada M4Y 1S2

Tel. - 416-972-1010, x231

Mobile - 416-605-8316

Fax - 416-921-7228

www.wellesleyinstitute.com

 

An angry sky for Toronto the not so good.

The abandoned Canada Malting building at the foot of Bathurst St. Maybe they could convert it into batchelor apartments for homeless people.

When Fools Run the Asylum

Jack Layton, leader of the Federal New Democratic Party, tells the story of a homeless man who froze to death near his downtown home. The city immediately responded to ensure that never again would a homeless person die in that shelter. You might ask, “What did they do?” “Did they add heaters to the shelter?” The answer is no, they removed the shelter, thereby forcing TTC passengers to wait for their ride exposed to the elements and removing what little comfort was available to the homeless in the area. Who knows where they will go now to freeze to death? Not to that shelter obviously.

The same twisted philosophy applies to the order that the city made to outreach workers, forbidding them to give sleeping bags or warm clothing to homeless people on the grounds that it will enable them to remain homeless. Better to let them freeze to death I guess.

When the only alternative offered to sleeping on the streets is to sleep in shelters that are disease ridden, over crowded, vermin infested and downright dangerous, it would seem to me that enabling people with no viable alternative to survive on the streets is the minimum that our leaders should attempt.

 

Jack Layton, leader of the Federal NDP Party

I'm Perplexed

What troubles me, what I can’t understand is the fact that we have built a society that is simply barbarous and yet almost every person I meet within that society seems to be a caring, compassionate and intelligent human being. How can this be? As individuals, people are wonderful and yet when looked upon as a society they take on dreadful characteristics. Economic slavery is encouraged and those who rebel against it are outcast and looked upon as lesser creatures, vermin if you will. I can not comprehend how the two views can coexist. I don’t believe I know anyone who would hesitate to feed a starving person if he met one. Food and comfort would be given freely and bounteously. Yet many thousands of people starve to death daily in a world where there is more than enough to feed everyone. How, how, how can this be?

Is our political system designed to reflect the lowest moral standard rather than strive to attain the high ground? It seems so. Our politicians seem to court the meanest characteristics in human nature rather than attempt to emulate the best in who we are. I believe that this is a result of a change in the way politics are run today. In the past, a politician would state his philosophical views and stand for election based upon his personal convictions. He would associate himself with a party that reflected these views in general terms and rise or fall according to how many people felt the same way. Not anymore. Now we live in the age of the pollster and no politician will ever honestly state his own opinion on any subject. He will have a poll done and declare that his beliefs are the beliefs of the majority result from the poll. It has become virtually impossible to distinguish one major political party from the other since they both strive to associate themselves with the results from the same polls. This is dishonest and results in a system where all of our leaders are professional liars. Is there any wonder that we live in a time when moral standards have all but disappeared within our society even though they remain strong within most individuals? If our leaders rule on the basis if lies, how can we expect anything else?

We have recently been cheated. Our Governor General, an appointed position which is not subject to democratic election has thwarted an attempt to oust an unpopular minority government by a coalition of opposing parties. It seems to me that the time has come to eliminate the position o Governor General altogether. I believe that we will never attain honesty in government as long as power to govern remains in the hands of the two largest parties. We are experiencing the growth of more and more fringe parties who refreshingly stand upon their moral convictions instead of living the lie of the polls. We need to support these small parties with all of our ability and encourage an evolution in the way we are governed towards a system where coalition governments become the standard. It may be a more fractious form of government, but at least we will be governed once more by honest men.

 

Mounted police in riot gear.

Good News

TORONTO – After 8 years of delayed justice, the City of Toronto and Toronto Police have paid a substantial settlement to three organizers of the Allan Gardens Project. The housing activists will be directing the entire sum of over $100,000 toward grassroots housing initiatives throughout the city.
The Allan Gardens Project was a peaceful protest that began in August 1999 after the police breakup of OCAP's
Safe Park. It included students, homeless and other community members calling for public housing. For over 120 consecutive Friday nights at Allan Gardens Park, protesters decried the continuing housing crisis in Toronto as well as police brutality and harassment of the homeless. The sleep outs lasted over two years until November 2001. A violent crackdown by Toronto's emergency task force unit in October 2000 resulted in false charges that were later thrown out of court. Three anti-poverty activists (Elan Ohayon, Alex Brown, Oriel Varga) promised that such intimidation tactics would not cause them to back down and promptly launched a lawsuit against the City of Toronto and Toronto Police. Now, eight years later, only days before the court date, the city and police have finally been forced to pay a settlement, all of which will go toward housing initiatives.
The activists had planned to argue, in a two week court trial set for December 2008, that given the lack of safe affordable housing the homeless have the right to sleep out and set up shelter free of City and Police harassment. The activists were to be represented by renowned civil rights lawyers Peter Rosenthal and Vilko Zbogar and supported by anti-poverty experts Cathy Crowe, David Hulchanski, Stephan Hwang and Gaetan Heroux. One of the arguments to be heard in court was that a police crackdown on any shelter of a homeless person and their advocates, given the lack of housing and safe shelters, is a violation of Section 7 of the Charter - the right to life, liberty and security of person. The legal team, housing experts and community activists involved in the case will be present at the press conference.
Oriel Varga: "The duration of the process highlights the continued problems in
Toronto housing and the Ontario justice system. Almost a decade after the community call for housing to be built and the many promises by city, provincial and federal governments, the building of affordable housing remains at a virtual standstill. The homeless and social justice activists continue to be harassed by the city and police. As a consequence of government inaction, homelessness continues to be a national disaster and there is an average of two deaths per week of homeless individuals in Toronto alone (according to estimates by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee)."
With the repeated extreme cold weather alerts this December and with these difficult times, the urgent need for affordable public housing remains a Charter-based, life-threatening emergency. The three plaintiffs, including one who was homeless at the time, are dedicated forwarding the message that 1% percent of government budgets must go toward housing. The funds from this legal win will thus go entirely towards anti-poverty and housing initiatives that continue to put pressure on all levels of government to build public housing.

A scene from an OCAP protest and meal in front of City Hall

This is a historic moment for Canada.

It’s not often that politicians of divergent philosophies combine forces to a common cause. Not only is this an opportunity to face a  universal threat by setting aside less pressing agendas and working together, but more so it is an opportunity to show the Canadian people that there are politicians in this country that are willing to work together for the common good of all Canadians by practicing true leadership.

With any luck, they will see that working together in a coalition government will afford them far greater opportunity to further their causes than sitting as opposing members if minority parties.

It is my hope that coalition governments will become the norm in Canada in the future.

Don’t blow it people. We Canadians are counting on you.

You can sign the petition in support of forming the coalition government at…

http://www.62percentmajority.ca/action/yourvoice       

Toronto city hall

The politicians at City Hall, those masters of cynicism and hypocrisy will show you numbers of people housed by the Streets to Homes Program as proof of the success of their policies and justification of their ongoing program of closing shelters and detox centres and removing other vital services to the homeless. They even have the nerve to forbid outreach workers from distributing clothing or sleeping bags or other supplies to homeless people on the grounds that it will only encourage homeless people to remain homeless, but this policy does result in a reduction of homeless people in Toronto as we continue to die of exposure and brutality out there. Perhaps it will work too. Homelessness is a death sentence and more are dying all the time. Depending on whose numbers you believe, one of us dies every week on the high side and one a month on the low side. I believe the actual number lies somewhere between the two. Now Streets to Homes did a count of homeless people in Toronto not too long ago and if my memory is correct, they found that there were approximately 800 homeless people in the city. But wait, there’s something here that doesn’t add up. They’re housing unprecedented numbers of us and record numbers of us are dying each year.  The death rate of the homeless community is several magnitudes greater than that of the general population. So why are there more homeless people than ever when they are being housed at such an unprecedented rate and dying at a rate which strives to match it, so many in fact that they have spilled out of the downtown core and are evident throughout the city in constantly growing numbers? And how can the city justify reductions in services in the face of this fact?

The answers to the first question are twofold.

Revolving Door Homelessness. The housing that Streets to Homes is placing people in is in the most part substandard. By that I mean that it is far below the minimum standard required by city bylaws which are no longer enforced on slum landlords. There are rats, bedbugs, cockroaches, mice and other vermin infesting these places. Heating is inadequate and often non existent. There are roof leaks, plumbing leaks and wiring systems that are fire traps. There is seldom adequate hot water and often none at all.  Often there are no cooking facilities and when there are so many people are forced to share them that the lack of cleanliness is a health hazard and food is stolen consistently from the refrigerators which often don’t work.  When a complaint is lodged about these conditions, the authorities ignore it. And for this housing, the tenant has to hand over to the landlord, not only the full rental allotment of his social assistance allowance, but most of the money which is supposed to be used for food, hygienic products, clothing and transportation, leaving little or no remaining money to live on. Is there any wonder that they return to the streets? But you won’t hear that side of the so called success story of the Streets to Homes Program.

Many of these places are far away from services or friends as the newly housed people are uprooted from the neighbourhoods where they have lived for many years and after paying the rent, there is no money left to allow them to travel to services or friends. Isolation will soon force them to return to the streets.

Increasing numbers of marginally housed people falling into homelessness. The minimum wage and social assistance rates have remained virtually unchanged for so many years that inflation has decreased the buying power of people in these situations by such a drastic amount that each year, more and more people are loosing their housing due to unaffordability.

The staggering increases in drug addiction, which is the most visible sign that there is something drastically wrong at the core of our present social system is driving ever increasing numbers of people into homelessness. In a society which measures a human being’s value exclusively in monetary terms rather than evaluating the standards that person sets for himself, is it any wonder that those who don’t measure up to the dollar value that is imposed turn in despair to the escape of drugs?

We have exported most of our well paid industrial employment which allowed people to live with a modicum of human dignity and self reliance and expect them to give up that dignity and exist on social assistance or work in the so called service industry at minimum wage for places such as MacDonald s. Sure there are more jobs available, but the income level has dropped so far below the poverty line that a man who once provided well for his family is now forced to rely on charity at food banks to feed them and we begin to see a large number of whole families forced into homelessness.

Yet the politicians tell their constituents who are wilfully eager to accept the lie that the blame for the increasing numbers of homeless people rests solely on them for being lazy addicts who deserve to die on the streets. They tacitly encourage and approve of police tactics that include harassment and brutality at such a level that it can not be otherwise. Such police activity could not exist without the approval of city hall. As the numbers of disaffected people in this, the richest society that has ever existed on the planet continues to increase and as police and private citizen harassment and brutality to homeless people escalates at  an alarming rate anger grows in the homeless community. The Americans know what it is like to have riots in the streets. I fear that we are dangerously close ourselves.

The city opposes urban art
 

I have seen some ugly paint jobs on houses around town. The city doesn’t dare order the homeowners to repaint. How dare they order business owners to paint over commissioned art works on their properties?

NADJA SAYEJ

The Globe and Mail

Print Edition 11/10/08 Page M2

To Genoveva Silva, the painting on the wall of her Bloor West music cafe is art, not graffiti. After all, the 57-year-old owner of the Concord Cafe asked two artists and a group of their friends to paint the mural, a blend of cartoons called Train of Thought, which covers the south and west exterior walls of her building at 937 Bloor St. W. The city, however, disagrees with Ms. Silva's taste.

As part of its effort to wipe out graffiti, Toronto's department of municipal licensing and standards is demanding Ms.Silva paint over the mural.

Ms. Silva refuses. Last week she sent a letter to the city ob­jecting to the order, and she's vowing to protect the painting on the grounds that commis­sioned artwork shouldn't be dismissed as vandalism.

"How do they [the city] de­termine what is art?" Ms. Silva asked. "To me this is art. There is nothing offensive about it."

·Ms. Silva is not alone in her .plight. The city recently asked two other businesses in the Bloor and Ossington area to re­move commissioned murals. The Long & McQuade music shop at 929 Bloor St, W. re­ceived the same notice as the Concord Cafe last month; a few' weeks before that, tile city forced tile Guardian Pharmacy at 955 Bloor St. W. to paint over its multicoloured mural.

Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, the councilor for the area, ad­mits that the city's graffiti poli­cies are subjective.

"It's a judgment call," he says.

"Some [paintings] are clear cut.”

The difficulty in the case of the Concord Cafe and Long & McQuade is that the murals which were painted by the same artists look like a blend of art and tagging.

The Concord Cafe's mural, for instance, features a skyline crowned with a colossal spray can as the CN Tower on the south wall and a long, zigzagging tube that coils into the face of a man with a mustache on the west wall.

"Part of the Concord looks like a Pokeman kind of cartoon but other parts look like graffiti,” Mr. Pantalone says.

That ambiguity prompted a complaint to municipal licensing and standards, said Joe Magalheas the department’s supervisor of investigations. He wouldn’t say who complained.)

 When Toronto's licensing department receives a complaint, or a by law officer spots some spray paint on the wall of a shop, the city mails a letter asking the owner to remove the  graffiti. If the owner ignores  the request, the city paints over the graffiti and attaches the bill to the owner's' property taxes.' .

But shop' owners can also object, as Ms. Silva has. That's where politicians come in. Appeals land at community CO When Toronto's licensing department receives a complaint, or a by law officer spots some spray-paint on the wall of a shop, the city mails a letter asking the owner to remove the graffiti. If the owner ignores the request, the city paints over the graffiti and attaches the bill to the owner's' property taxes.' .

But shop' owners can also object, as Ms. Silva has. That's where politicians come in. Appeals land at community council, where councilors vote on which murals win a reprieve.

In the cases of the Concord Cafe and Long & McQuade, Mr." Pantalone is "optimistic we can sort something out.

He's quick to point out that the city is deluged with complaints about graffiti. We’re getting complaints all the time,” he said. “If you want a clean city we don’t want criminal acts of vandalism.”

Every time Ms Silva walks by her paintings, she is reminded of the artists who created them - a pair who go by the pseudonym Buck and Phresha.

Last October the artists even held a seminar on mural making at the Concord.

If the city really wants to polish its image, it shouldn’t go after the likes of Buck and Phresha, Ms Silva argues.

“I see pollution from advertising,” she said. “That defaces the neighbourhood, it’s horrible. I want a clean city.”

Attending a peace rally in Toronto 

 

THE ONTARIO LIBERALS AND ‘POVERTY REDUCTION’

This is a recent report from OCAP. Don't let McGuinty's lies fool you. He is still dedicated to the concept that poverty is a crime that should not go unpunished. Are they Trying or Lying? The McGuinty Liberals have jumped onto the very overcrowded bandwagon of ‘Poverty Reduction’. They have set up a process of highly selective consultation to ‘define the problem’. Then, they tell us, they will ‘set targets’ to reduce poverty and implement a package of reforms to that effect. Implied in all this is an expectation that we should accept it as a good faith initiative. In fact, we are expected to play along and wait patiently for the eventual benefits that will, supposedly, flow from it. The first thing that needs to be said is that an uncritical acceptance of this undertaking would be an act of extraordinary naiveté. This is the second term for the Liberals and everything they have done to date consolidates the Harris Common Sense Revolution while smoothing over social divisions with token gestures. Perhaps we should just take a glimpse at how the Liberals have dealt with the poor over the last few years. They campaigned the first time they were elected on a platform that included repealing the Safe Streets Act that Harris used to set the cops on the homeless. To-day, that law is still in effect, being used on a scale far greater than when the Tories held power. In Toronto, over the last three years, there has been a nearly 300% increase in the number of Safe Streets tickets being issued. The Liberal Attorney General has sent his people into Court to oppose legal challenges to the Act and his prosecutors are seeking and obtaining jail time for people convicted of panhandling. While an oversupply of upscale housing crowds out the skyline, decent and truly affordable housing remains a dream for the poor. Toronto Community Housing says it needs $300 million to repair and preserve its buildings. Less than 10% of that has been provided by Queen’s Park and 180,000 public housing tenants in Toronto are living in units that are, literally, falling apart. Under pressure, modest increases to the minimum wage have occurred but welfare and disability rates have lost ground against inflation under the Liberals. More people than ever are being evicted from their housing for lack of income. Attempts to use the ‘Special Diet’ policy within the welfare system to actually provide people with enough to eat have been fought tooth and nail by the Liberals. Now, the new Ontario Child Benefit, their first step towards ‘poverty reduction’, will not even be the promised $50 a month for those on assistance and will be reduced even further through the elimination of clothing allowances. A 40% reduction in real income for people on welfare still casts its shadow over the lives of hundreds of thousands in this Province years after McGuinty first took office on a platform of ‘change’. Meanwhile, Deb Matthews, the Minister who will be handling his belated conversion to ‘poverty reduction’, has promised to leave intact the Harris tax cuts that made the rich richer and the poor poorer. But these were paid for in large measure by the people and families on assistance who had their income slashed. If that is not be reversed, then we are talking about a process of reform that is denied the resources it would need to be meaningful. If this poverty reduction initiative, then, is lacking in sincerity, we may ask ourselves what it is about. In fact, it has several aspects to it and is part of a process that goes well beyond Ontario. There is actually a wing of the corporate structure that has become nervous about overly crude methods when it comes to reducing social provision. The Toronto Star with its present ‘war on poverty’ is perhaps the best example of such timid, post Harris ‘social engineering’. It worries about the impact of outright social abandonment and the damage done by earlier cutbacks. There’s no nostalgia for the post war social infrastructure, of course, but measures to deal with the worst excesses of poverty are something to look at, provided they don’t go too far. The above consideration, very limited as it is, is the only element of the ‘poverty reduction’ process that has any genuine quality about it. We may also anticipate that a great deal of what Ms. Matthews wants to develop would be highly regressive in nature. Even with the brutality of the Harris cuts to social assistance, the system can still be redesigned in ways that make it more effective in forcing the poor into low wage employment. By separating the benefits for children from those of their parents, a classical use of the division between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor is to be seen. Once a mythical adequacy has been developed for children, welfare can become an even better tool for driving adults into the most exploitative jobs. Even at this early stage, Matthews is fixating on children as if she actually believes their poverty can be considered as something apart from that of their parents or that the poverty of single adults is of secondary importance. The roots of the new religion of ‘poverty reduction’ are actually to be found in the neo liberal assault on poor countries. Structural adjustment programs have removed limited protections for poor people and driven vast sections of the population from rural self sufficiency into huge and expanding mega cities, where they are warehoused in squalor on the fringes of economic life. Abandoned people in their abandoned communities are then told that they can be ‘empowered’ and become ‘self sufficient’ through community economic development. The World Bank and IMF, having inflicted misery on billions of people, now offer them such preposterous ‘solutions’ in place of the resources they need. It was striking that ideas drawn from the international ‘poverty reduction’ industry were present in Matthews’ comments on how she sees her work. She stressed that reducing peoples’ poverty was only to a limited degree about resources. (This is very convenient since the rich have taken those resources and don’t intend to give them back). No, in fact, a large part of dealing with poverty is about giving people ‘opportunities’. Notions of ‘personal responsibility’ and measures of ‘tough love’ are not very far away and give us another warning that there is an actively regressive element to this process. Of course, the main models of poverty reduction being pointed to are those that have emerged in other ‘developed countries’. Ireland and the UK are held up a great deal. The achievements in those countries were, actually, much more limited and contradictory than they would like to acknowledge but they also took place in a very different context to that facing Ontario to-day. Especially in the case of Ireland, the twenty six county republic was experiencing an unheard of expansion and industrialization. With recessionary storm clouds gathering here and, with the industrial base massively eroded ahead of time, we would be overly trusting to expect that the McGuinty Government will charge uphill for social justice. If this process and its directions remain in their hands, the prospects for any progress in the fight against poverty are bleak indeed. As Matthews moves from community to community with her little circus, we should note that we are seeing here a specialty of the Liberal Party at work. That body is, after all, the main political mechanism for demobilizing communities and channeling grievances into blind allies of ‘dialogue’ and consultation. They plan to give the poor very little in terms of concessions and to include in their reform package measures that make things worse. The question, then, has to be will this thing unfold as a safe and controlled exercise with the results mapped out by the Government ahead of time or will the demands and the anger of poor people and their communities break through and dominate the process? If the Liberals lose control of this, it would not be the first time that an attempt to divert community anger has, instead, provided a focus for it. In the early 1970s, the Senate Committee on Poverty became a lightning rod for community anger. The Social Assistance Review Committee in the Ontario of the late 80s did not at all divert poor people from mobilizing. Matthews is trying to prevent this by holding controlled, invitation only consultations. Already indignant voices are being raised and communities are starting to challenge her attempt to keep the anger of poor people from intruding on her sanitized deliberations. We have been warned against ‘simplistic’ solutions and told that we can’t tackle the complexities of poverty until we ‘define the problem’. We should have very limited patience with a notion that works so well for those wanting to do as little as possible for as long as they can. If Matthews wants a definition of poverty, the amount of money people get from her Government’s welfare system is a good definition. So is the wage people bring home at the legislated minimum her Government sets. When you have to make a choice between paying the rent and eating decent food, that is poverty and it is created and maintained by the Government Matthews is part of. She and her ‘Cabinet colleagues’ need to hear that from the poor and their allies. Our demands for living income, decent housing and other vital community needs must force their way to the forefront. The Liberal’s circus of consultation needs a large measure of truth and big dose of reality.

Jack Layton of the NDP is the only politician who comes out to any of our events. He's the only one who cares.

I'm Soooo Very Naive

This is a record of a digital dialogue between me and an unnamed member of the of the staff of David McGuinty, M.P., Ottawa South

From: Ron. Craven [mailto:ronzig@rogers.com] Sent: March 13, 2008 7:23 PM We have no right to send armed soldiers to impose our failing system of government on another country. If another country invaded Canada to impose their values on us, I would be shooting and bombing them too. GET OUT NOW. Before you try to tell others how to live you had better address the injustice at home.

From: "McGuinty, David - M.P." To: Ron. Craven Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 4:56:08 PM Subject: RE: Withdraw from Afghanistan

Dear Mr. Craven,

Thank you very much for your email to Mr. McGuinty with your thoughts on this important matter. Please forward your contact information (address and phone number) in the constituency of Ottawa South, and I will ensure that Mr. McGuinty has the opportunity to read your comments and responds accordingly.

Sincerely,

Office of David McGuinty, M.P., Ottawa South

Very interesting reply Mr Office of, David McGuinty, M.P., Ottawa South or is it Mr. No Name? Mr. McGuinty is only interested in the opinions of Canadians if they live within his riding. I thought that as a federal MP he was supposed to represent ALL CANADIANS. How naive of me. I live in Toronto, so it seems that he is not interested in hearing my opinions. I will post this digital conversation on my homeless blog where I am sure my many followers in Ottawa will read of his short sightedness. Ron Craven 130 Eglinton Av E Toronto On M4C 2X9 416 820-6036 As you can see, I have no need of anonymity.

Have a wonderful day Ronzig

 

I couldn't agree more. Check it out.

I'm sure you've heard it said that Stephen Harper is a "strong leader". Well our first New Democrat TV ad has something to say about that. I suppose it takes a "strong leader" to ignore 5 million average Canadians who can't find a family doctor. But don't you think it's time for a new kind of strong?

Watch the TV ad here - I'm sure you'll love it. And if you do, make a donation to get it on the air where you live now.

In this election, we're going to take the fight to Harper. We're running straight out to defeat Conservatives starting week 1.And we're going to elect Jack Layton - a Prime Minister who'll bring about change that takes us forward.

A friendly outreach worker visits me at my shack

More Lies and Political Shams from McGuinty's Liberals.

This Just In From OCAP As you likely know, the Provincial Liberals are currently touring the province with a consultation scam to make it seem like they care about poor people while they do nothing for us. We are going to go to the Toronto closed-door consultations and tell Minister Matthews and the government that we don't need more talk, we need action! June 18th 3:30 pm meet at PARC - 1499 Queen Street West We have been unable to get a bus so if you have one (or a car or van) please let us know at the OCAP office as we are scrambling to make sure we have enough space for people to get there. Accessibility - call or e-mail to make arrangements. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OCAP Not Participating in Sham Consultations: Minister Matthews lies to legitimize secret 'poverty meetings' (June 11, 2008) Yesterday, during an interview with CBC's Metro Morning, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, Deb Mathews, claimed the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) was invited to and attended a secret poverty consultation. In reality, these meetings have been designed expressly to avoid interacting with anti-poverty groups like OCAP and with poor people in general. OCAP has never received an invitation to attend these private consultations. These meetings make no attempt to address systemic poverty in this province, rather they seek to allay the public's concerns "within existing resources." "We don't need to waste our time in secret consultations. We need a government that is actually going to do something about poverty," says A.J. Withers, an OCAP Organizer. "We know what the problems are. Welfare and disability rates are too low, we need a livable minimum wage now, we need more affordable housing and we need the housing we do have to be in decent repair." The Liberal government would like the public to believe it will make real and substantial changes in people's lives. Instead, this government continues to quietly chip away at crucial money and services. "While they talk about reducing poverty, the Liberals continue to let welfare and disability rates lose ground to inflation. They slashed the Special Diet supplement that let thousands of people eat healthier food, and they introduced the confusing Ontario Child Benefit that means parents probably won't be able to buy coats for heir kids this winter," says John Clarke of OCAP. "This is not a government that actually cares about poor people, it is a government trying to get political capital by talking a lot about us, but doing nothing for us," Clarke says. While Matthews is a liar, she was right about one thing: there have been protesters outside of her sham consultations, in cities all across Ontario. This month, in Toronto, we plan to be among them.

Instead of trying to relieve the pain of poverty and homelessness, McGuinty prefers to send in the police to harass and destroy .
A typical scene of desolation and despair
Homeless, this one armed friend still finds a reason to smile

A Modern Definition For Democracy

Strange that the most powerful religious icon in the Western World, where the vast majority profess to be devout Christians, is $$$$$$

They also profess to a commitment to Democracy. Their definition of Democracy is…

the biggest gang with the most guns.

This philosophy is clearly evident in Afghanistan where Stephen Harper is sending Canadians to their deaths in support of democracy. The Afghan model for democracy is to give the Shiites absolute power to commit genocide against the Sunnis and the Kurds on the basis that the Shiites are the majority and therefore are right. Only a sociopathic lunatic could support such a program. Tragic that we Canadians elected one to run our government.

Machines of death and destruction on display

When wealth is controlled by a limited number of individuals and corporations Capitalism becomes a form of government in that the powerful take control of the economy and through it the political direction of a nation. The Capitalists rule by proxy in a new form of Totalitarianism.

Early in the last century, the world went to war against fascism, a form of totalitarianism sponsored by Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini. No sooner had we defeated them than the Soviet Union came up with its own version of tyranny and the Cold War began. Ronald Reagan won the Cold War for our side by spending the Soviets into bankruptcy with his Star Wars project and we thought that authoritarianism was finally defeated.

But think again. In order to fight the Cold War, the USA as leaders of the so called Free World succumbed to the belief that it was necessary to sink to the level of the opposition in order to defeat them. Since the United States maintains a Democratic Constitution the people with political and economic power had to find a new means of wielding unrestricted power.

Hence the advent of Totalitarianism by proxy. It was quite simple to use the CIA to oust unsympathetic leaders and set up their own puppet dictators in authoritarian regimes around the world.

First on September 16, 1941, Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, was placed on the throne in Iran where he ruled with an iron hand until he was ousted by his people on February 11, 1979.

Preferring to deal with a single all powerful leader as opposed to the uncertainty of Democratically elected leaders, The United States soon set up or supported coups for Moammar Kadafi to rule Libya, Idi Amin Dada to rule Uganda, Saddam Hussein to rule Iraq,  Anastasio Somoza Garcia  in Nicaragua and Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralín Marcos for the Philippines to name a few of their proxy dictators. Each of these was of course a total failure and many of the pet dogs came back to bite the master in the ass, but the power brokers got a better idea. Instead of supporting dictators, why not buy out democracy? It was really quite simple. Just make the cost of running for election far too expensive for honest citizens to be able to compete and then pay for the campaigns of every important candidate, thereby ensuring that the resultant leader who gets elected has been bought and paid for in advance. The result is a secret control over the country, “proxy authoritarianism”.

We lost the Cold War by becoming the enemy.

Definitions found in Wikipedia.

Totalitarianism:

the principle of complete and unrestricted power in government.

Authoritarianism:

characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom: an authoritarian regime.

Of or pertaining to a governmental or political system, principle, or practice in which individual freedom is held as completely subordinate to the power or authority of the state, centered either in one person or a small group that is not constitutionally accountable to the people.

Totalitarianism:

absolute control by the state or a governing branch of a highly centralized institution.

Fascism:

a political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism) 

a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

A political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism) 

Capitalism:

an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, esp. as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

Sad that it could almost be true

The NDP is proud to present the second in an occasional series of short stories from distinguished storyteller, Massey Lecturer, Order of Canada member and performer/creator of CBC’s Dead Dog Café, Thomas King. Thomas is the NDP candidate in the riding of Guelph, where he lives and teaches at the University of Guelph.

The other day, I was out for a walk in one of our conservation areas and whom should I see standing in a clearing but Stephen Harper and Stéphane Dion. I didn’t recognize them right away because they were wearing coveralls and hard hats. Mr. Harper was looking at a set of plans, and Mr. Dion was playing with a compass. I didn’t want to interrupt them, but I was curious why the Prime Minister of Canada and the leader of the opposition were in the woods. So, I went over to say hello.

Well, you can’t believe how friendly they were. They both shook my hand. Mr. Harper gave me a hard hat to wear, and Mr. Dion asked me if I knew anything about Canada’s housing needs.

Now, I’m not much of an expert on anything, but I had read that Canada has a great need for low-income and affordable housing, and I thought that maybe our leaders were working together to make this dream a reality.

I was even so bold as to ask Mr. Harper if this was the case, but he said, no, that what Canada really needed was a new housing strategy for the wealthy. Mr. Dion pointed out that, while we had developed a number of housing programs for low-income families, we had not, as a country, tackled the difficulties faced by the rich.

Now, I was embarrassed to admit that it had never occurred to me that the rich had any problems when it came to housing, but Mr. Harper told me not to feel bad, that many people in Canada had no idea that housing for the rich was in a state of crisis.

As Mr. Harper was talking, Mr. Dion ran over to an SUV that was parked at the edge of the forest and came back with a large chart that showed the extent of the disparity between the rich and the rest of our nation, and how rapidly that gap was growing.

As this economic gulf widens, Mr. Dion explained, animosities are sure to increase and the rich are going to need government assistance in developing ways to avoid the clamour of community and the unwarranted intrusions of neighbors who, at present, walk past their houses all hours of the day and night.

It was a serious problem, Mr. Harper intimated, and he gave me a brochure that explained a new government initiative called the E.G.A.D. Protocol for Housing Partnerships and Security Alternatives.

Well, you should have seen that brochure. It was jammed full of colour photographs of houses and housing developments that were going to be built under the E.G.A.D. Protocol, which, Mr. Harper explained, stood for Enormous, Gated, Alarmed, and Defended. Every Canadian would have the opportunity to buy a home that had any or all of the four designations, though Mr. Harper indicated that the government probably would only provide partial grants for “E” designated houses. In order to participate fully in the program, he said, homeowners would have to purchase a house that, at a minimum, had an “E.G” designation and was situated within a secure compound.

Now, I’d always thought that providing housing grants for energy efficient homes and low-cost housing was a good idea, but Mr. Harper said that such a move would be inappropriate because energy-efficient houses reduced energy consumption and didn’t create jobs, whereas homes built under the E.G.A.D. Protocol would increase consumption and lead to a surge in employment, particularly in the area of domestic staffing as well as landscape maintenance, tennis-court construction, catering, and security services.

Mr. Dion went on to explain how E.G.A.D. communities could also function as designated environmental zones encouraging the proliferation of decorative waterfalls, fountains, and swimming pools as a complement to the wetlands that an E.G.A.D. development might inadvertently displace.

You could see that Mr. Harper and Mr. Dion were quite excited about E.G.A.D. homes, and I was getting a little emotional myself, especially when Mr. Dion opened the back of the SUV to reveal a scale model of a typical E.G.A.D. community complete with a perimeter Koi moat, a split-rail and wire-intrusion detection system, rococo bollards, and interlocking, remote-controlled, stereo artillery batteries.

Come back next year, said Mr. Harper waving his hand at the trees, and you won’t recognize the place.

I told him that I liked the place just the way it was, but Mr. Harper assured me that the economy demanded that we always forge ahead, that progress was our most important product.

It was getting late, and I figured I should get on with my walk. I gave the hard hat back to Mr. Harper and left the brochure with Mr. Dion. Always best to recycle. I might have kept it, but I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be able to afford an E.G.A.D. home. Still, I did feel good that our government was resolute and committed in its efforts to assist all Canadians and not just those who needed the help.

Native Canadian woman opposes Harper's senseless war and demands the funds be redirected to helping the poor

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King's Landing, a condominium residence for the very wealthy who reside at Toronto's waterfront.  

Index of Ronzig's web pages

Website:

Down But Not Out

As well as Ronzig's Gallery, Ronzig built and maintains Down But Not Out, a website dedicated to social activism and providing information about many of the current issues that threaten to destroy our planet and the social structures we have developed. This link will take you to the Home page of Down But Not Out which was recently ranked as the 12th best website about homelessness on the internet and the following information will explain each of the pages on the website. You will have the opportunity to comment on what you learn here and read the many comments of other visitors to the site.

Learn more about Ronzig and why he created Down But Not Out and why it began as a website discussing the issues of poverty, homelessness and addiction and how it evolved into much more, encompassing issues a wide ranging as politics, war imperialism, conspiracy, economics, health, the environment and more.

Having been a crack addict for nearly 2 decades, during the 2nd of which I was homeless, I have acquired an in depth understanding of addiction, how & why it begins, what it does to a person, what is involved with getting free of this curse and the social implications of this ever increasing plague on civilization. I disclose some little known and often ignored information and insights that will assist you in coming to a better understanding of what addiction is all about.

I have created a page where visitors to Down But Not Out can contribute by telling their story about how the issues discussed on the site has affected them or someone they care about. I encourage you to read what others have to say and please tell us your story. You can remain anonymous if you prefer.

There is an extensive examination of the economy on Down But Not Out with discussions about the recession, economic collapse, the increasing disparity between the rich, the poor and the middle class. I delve into the phenomena of the shrinking middle class and the emergence of a 2 class society where an economic elite rule and the rest of us are rapidly being relegated to economic slavery.

Whether you call it Global Warning, Climate Disruption or choose to adopt one of the euphemisms that opponents to addressing this impending disaster use to seek to reduce the significance of the crisis to protect their ill gotten financial profits, it is a scientific fact that our global environment is on the brink of collapse. If meaningful and immediate action is not taken the human race along with almost all other forms of life on the Planet Earth will soon face extinction.

Whenever I have time I try to post notices of significant events that you may wish to attend including rally's, protests, political meetings, or other relevant items here. I also use this page to post notices of upcoming art shows where my work will be on display.

The social, economic and political issues revolving around health and healthcare are currently creating an environment where universal healthcare in Canada is under attack. It is evident that the elite no longer wish to ensure adequate health services for an aging population. They see no need to preserve individual health when there is no shortage of replacement economic slaves to step in when one of us succumbs to preventable illness and dies.

There is a worldwide epidemic of homelessness that has emerged in the past couple of decades to plague society and the wealthiest nations, ones with more than sufficient resources to provide housing for their populations are the worst at addressing the situation. Having lived long enough to realize that even when our society was steeped in relative poverty compared to today's situation, homelessness was never a significant problem until recently as the elite grab more and more of the world's wealth and resources, leaving the rest of us to struggle just to keep a roof over our heads.

With the advent of the internet, hope for a just society has been restored, yet there are sinister powers threatening to crush that hope. Just when internet should be reaching the point of universal global access, these powers are forcing an increasing internet divide, where surprisingly millions who once could afford access are being economically deprived of this crucial commodity, for a commodity is what it has become and it is for sale at price not reflective of costs, but of what the market will bear. Perhaps we should be considering defining internet as a Necessary Service that is available to everyone at affordable rates of free of charge.

With the corporatization of mainstream media, it's difficult to find any honest reporting in this media, as they tend to stick like flies on flypaper to the elitist party line. However even the most cynical of these outlets of information are forced to include a modicum of honesty in their reports when faced with the vast amount of conflicting evidence distributed freely on the internet. It is beneficial also to be up to date on what they are saying in order to point out the inadequacies and outright lies that they distribute.

Over the years, Ronzig has been in the news on several occasions, both as the subject of articles and as interviewee. Of course I've commented on many news items as well. you'll find some of these pieces on my news page.

There is a disturbing trend in politics that is increasingly threatening the very fabric of Democracy, or the sorry excuse for such that we have  adopted. I'm speaking of the merging of the Capitalist manifesto into the political agenda to the effect that today's politicians see their job almost exclusively as serving the requirements of capitalism and corporate profits rather than the needs of the citizens who are the true backbone of any nation.

Ever wonder how it is possible that in the richest civilization that has ever existed on the planet, extreme poverty is reaching epidemic proportions?  The answer is obvious. Every single year for the past 3 decades the wealthiest 5% of the world's population have taken control and ownership of a greater proportion of the world's resources leaving less for each of the remaining 95% of the people who have to live on this planet. In every industrialized nation the middle class is under attack and is shrinking annually as people are forced down the economic scale into the burgeoning poverty class. The truly terrifying aspect of this is the fact that the members of the middle class which is the primary target of this attack believe that when the middle class is eliminated they will be part of the elite upper class of rulers rather than economic slaves of these rulers. Because of this the middle class votes consistently for politicians who serve this elite ruling class and don't even realize they are voting for their own destruction.

In a society which professes to be primarily Christian is it not a paradox that we have created such an un-Christian attitude toward our neighbours? By assuming the philosophy of "Looking our for number ONE", we find it easy not only to allow our brothers and sisters to suffer and actually perish because they can not afford to pay for the basic requirements of survival, nourishment and shelter, but many of us are arrogant enough to hate them for their predicament. How are we to overcome this tide of apathy and animosity which in the end will destroy us if we fail?

If you group is interested in Ronzig's experiences and philosophies, I do speaking engagements and will talk on any of the topics covered here. I have had great success with audiences while speaking about homelessness & addiction, Democracy & politics as well as photography & art and would be pleased to accept a request to speak to you group.

Primarily because of American Imperialism the world has been in a constant state of war for the majority of the past 6 decades. Isn't it amazing how we can call making war on another nation a Police Action or Peacekeeping Action to camouflage the fact that we are invading a nation to seize control of its resources or to use it as a staging zone for our aggressive moves on its neighbours, yet we call defensive retaliation Terrorism? We call the slaughter of innocent civilians Collateral Damage to hide the fact that more than 80% of the people we kill in our wars are civilians primarily women and children. I find it disturbing that Prime Minister Harper has eagerly jumped into bed with the Americans and is arming Canada to fight along side our neighbours to the South as we seek to seize control of far off nations. We stand idly by and allow Israel, the puppet state of the Americans which exists solely because of American arms and financing to commit wide scale genocide in its attempt to eradicate the legitimate population of the region from the planet.

Website:

Go to Ronzig's Gallery digital photoArt, photography,  video, photographic & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto, Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images and art on ceramic tiles top home page.

Learn about Ronzig and Ronzig's Gallery: What is digital photoArt? Ronzig's guerrilla photography and video. Art on Ceramic Tiles. Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images, Mini Video Tours of Toronto. And photographic and video recording services.

View some of Ronzig's best work in a slideshow or individual images from Ronzig at Ronzig's Gallery of digital photoArt and photography.

You can contact  Ronzig's Gallery by email, telephone or by snail mail to his address to inquire about Ronzig's digital photoArt, photography, Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images. video, photography & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto and art on ceramic tiles or to purchase his products or services. You will also find numerous links to other websites where Ronzig has a presence.

Read the Legend of Ronzig the Wizard and his battle with his evil twin brother Ronzak the Sorcerer in the story of the ongoing struggle between good and evil that has been going on since the creation of the universe.

This is where you can order  Ronzig's products and services from Ronzig's Gallery such as digital photoArt,  photography & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto, art on ceramic tiles & Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images.

Ronzig creates spectacular panorama works either as photographic images or as Digital photoArt that are available in standard sizes up to 44" x 13" on either canvas or archival quality photo paper (larger sizes available by special order).  Ronzig's Gallery will also embed a panorama image into the glaze of a series of ceramic tiles to create a unique wall or floor covering surface to your specs.

Ronzig's Digital photoArt & photographic images from Ronzig's Gallery cover a broad array of subject matter and themes resulting in highest quality art works to suit any preference. These images are all available on ceramic tiles & Collector Series Postcards as well a more traditional canvas and archival photo paper in a wide range of sizes to suit your requirements.

All of Ronzig's best work is available on Collector Series Postcards on archival photo paper, suitable not only for mailing a unique greeting to friends and loved ones, but also for framing as a group to hang on your wall.

Ronzig has done work for a wide range of clients from law firms to developers, health services facilities and the City of Toronto, all of which would certainly provide excellent references to Ronzig's Gallery.

Most of Ronzig's best work, be it video, photography or Digital photoArt is available as stock video clips or stock photo & art images at extremely reasonable prices for royalty free applications that you are producing.

Most of Ronzig's best work can be embedded into the glaze of ceramic tiles, resulting in virtually indestructible art works suitable for architectural uses such as surfaces for walls, floors, counter tops, back-splashes, fireplace surrounds or mantlepieces. As home furnishing uses they provide unique surfaces for tables or any other flat surfaced furniture. There is a series of 4" x 4" tiles with a protective backing designed for use as coasters that are bound to intrigue your guests as you entertain. Of course they make timeless stand alone art suitable for framing or placing on a stand for display.

Ronzig produces a wide range of videos, including Documentary works, event recording such as children's birthdays, activism and social protest works, art films, Mini Video Tours and special effects clips. Ronzig's Gallery is fully equipped and has access to support professionals to create original works with multi-camera filming, still photography and custom music for any production. He is presently working on a special fx movie, The Legend of Ronzig the Wizard, for which he the writer, art and costume designer, producer director and star.

 

 All Rights Reserved No part of this page may be copied without the express written consent of the author Ronzig
 
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