By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 0 Comments
Last night’s episode of The Agenda, featuring Samara’s Alison Loat, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber, NDP MP Nathan Cullen and yours truly.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM - 0 Comments
This evening, the House unanimously approved the Liberal motion to establish a committee to study missing and murdered aboriginal women. Carolyn Bennett’s speech explaining the need for such a committee is here.
I have heard the stories from Prince George to downtown Winnipeg. I slipped into the back of the hearing room at the Oppal inquiry in Vancouver on the Pickton murders to hear from the families and I can tell members, we are not doing enough. From 30 years ago when Helen Betty Osborne, who was clearly killed because she was an aboriginal woman, we have continued in this country to not do enough. Look at the names on the Sisters in Spirit website of Lorna Blacksmith, Daleen Kay Bosse, Claudette Osborne, Pamela Holopainen, Hilary Bonnell. Yesterday in the Human Rights Watch poignant paper, we saw the Highway of Tears sign with the names of Tamara and Cecilia and Delphine, and the people who are no longer with us because of this systemic violence.
The sign at these rallies that always touches me the most is, “To the world, she was one person. To us she was the world”. It means that we cannot deal with this in only the horrific statistics. We have to deal with this as a very human problem of human families and communities. It is also the systemic problem of the effects of residential schools, of colonization. The fact is that we have to address this head-on. We need the 96% of Canadians who are not from an aboriginal background to understand and work with us in this serious injustice. We need a public and national inquiry. There is no question that our motion today is not to say that this will be instead of a public inquiry. We want a national inquiry, but the government has been so reticent to actually do what is necessary, to deal head-on and analyze the root causes, to seek justice and to prevent and end the violence. We are asking, in the absence of a public inquiry, that our motion today would establish a special committee that would be able to hear evidence and propose recommendations to address the root causes of violence against indigenous women across the country, to seek justice and to identify a real action plan to stop the violence.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 11:22 PM - 0 Comments
MPs and Senators celebrated Chinese New Year at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa….
MPs and Senators celebrated Chinese New Year at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa. The event was put on by the Chinese New Year Celebration Committee. The Year of the Snake celebration saw Liberal Sen. Mac Harb was dressed as the God of Fortune.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 4:53 PM - 0 Comments
Green MP Elizabeth May participated in a 17-day hunger strike on Parliament Hill in 2001. We chatted this afternoon about that experience and Theresa Spence’s current situation.
You went on a hunger strike about the Sydney Tar Ponds. Why did you decide a hunger strike was the right response?
Well, we tried just about everything. I was actually at a union hall in Sydney, meeting with community members, and there was one guy, quite young, under 40, a father with about four kids. I’d been working with the community a lot about the toxic waste, the contamination and he’d had to quit working in the steel mill because he got liver cancer. And we were waiting for another set of health reports to come out. I was at the Sierra Club at the time and I did a lot of grassroots organizing across the country and I’d written a book on the Sydney Tar Ponds and done a film documentary … I won’t list everything we’d done, but we’d done an awful lot to try to get attention on the health effects in the community and for the families. And this guy looked at me and said, ‘Elizabeth, nobody’s going to care what we do here.’ Because we were thinking, should we do a march, should we do a demonstration, what should we do? And he said, ‘Nobody’s going to care what we do here because nobody cares about us here.’ And I was sort of devastated by that and realized that, I go back and forth to Ottawa and I work in Ottawa and I know most of the MPs and most of the cabinet and it just hit me, if I went on a hunger strike and sat in front of Parliament Hill till they did something, they’d pay attention. It was very personal.
So I went on a leave of absence from Sierra Club, because I obviously wasn’t working properly when I was on a hunger strike. And I sat in front of Parliament, right next to that low wall immediately opposite the members’ door. My daughter was in grade five and I talked to her about it before I started and she said, ‘Well, the one thing is, mommy, I don’t want you sleeping out there. It’d be nice if you were home at night.’ So I’d make the trek every morning and I was kind of putting in an 8:30 in the morning till 5:30 at night shift in front of Parliament. And then there came a day when I wasn’t feeling up to making her school lunch and one of the young women who was living with us at the time took over school lunch duties, and then took over laundry for me, and then took over grocery shopping, because you do get weaker and weaker and weaker.
But the reason why I did it was, and I think this is why anyone does a hunger strike, is a feeling of desperation. It’s not the first thing you choose to do to get attention to an issue. And Mahatma Gandhi had a bunch of really good, clear pieces of advice about when a hunger strike works strategically. And one of the key pieces of Mahatma Gandhi’s advice was, you can’t hunger strike effectively if the person or the institution whose opinion you’re trying to change doesn’t have a moral compass, doesn’t have a foundation of conscience in which it’s possible to prick the conscience. So a hunger strike to get Hitler’s attention was never going to work, right? But a hunger strike in a Canadian context, and they’re not done very commonly, is, I think, a legitimate part of one’s response. In my case, I even got a permit. So I was actually doing a legally permitted activity, hunger striking in front of Parliament Hill.* Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 4:55 PM - 0 Comments
New Democrats believe that constitutionally required consultation is more than a means to an end. It is a demonstration of reconciliation, a continuing effort to bring together First Nations and other Canadians. The many protestors, young and old, who are gathering at rallies across Canada want their government to act honourably towards that goal of reconciliation.
As you know, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation has also embarked on a hunger strike, living in a tipi on the Anishinabe traditional territory of Victoria Island in the Ottawa River, barely a kilometer from Parliament. I ask that you please act swiftly to avoid a personal tragedy for Chief Spence.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
Chantal Chagnon, an aboriginal singer and drummer originally from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, said the omnibus bill violates First Nations’ treaty rights as well as human rights. “We’re fed up,” Chagnon said. “This new bill coming in, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Regena Crowchild, a treaty consultant with the Tsuu T’ina nation, said the government hasn’t consulted with First Nations groups on the legislation that affects them. “They’re not giving us proper opportunity to address our concerns or talk to them about it,” Crowchild said. “They want to amend the Indian Act without consulting us. All this legislation is just moving towards making us ordinary Canadians with no treaty rights.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM - 0 Comments
Photos by Mitchel Raphael
Liberals gathered at the Westin Hotel for their annual holiday party. Northern Ontario MP Bruce Hyer, who quit the NDP to sit as an Independent, was the date of Liberal leadership candidate and MP Joyce Murray.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 12:21 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday leaders attending the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting took their their battle…
Yesterday leaders attending the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting took their their battle to the Hill. They protested against the budget bill being voted on that night and then had a spontaneous face-to-face meeting with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver after they were led into the House of Commons foyer by NDP MP Charlie Angus. Northern Ontario MP Angus said he asked Oliver to meet some of the chiefs and the minister obliged. Some chiefs tried to force their way into the House but were met by security.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
In the immediate aftermath of Motion 312′s defeat, the most scrutinized vote seems to belong to Rona Ambrose, the minister responsible for the status of women.
— Carolyn Bennett(@Carolyn_Bennett) September 26, 2012
— Rathika Sitsabaiesan (@RathikaS) September 26, 2012
#M312 defeated 203 to 91. A 2 to 1 vote…resounding victory 4 women. Did the Status of Women’s Minister vote for the motion?
— Dr. Hedy Fry (@HedyFry) September 26, 2012
Surprised the Conservative minister for Status of Women voted against a woman’s right to choose
— Scott Brison (@scottbrison) September 26, 2012
— nikiashton (@nikiashton) September 26, 2012
— Blaine Calkins, MP (@blainecalkinsmp) September 27, 2012
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 3, 2012 at 11:43 AM - 0 Comments
As the only medical doctor in the Conservative Caucus it is incumbent upon you to examine the evidence and not be blinded by ideology. Indeed, as a medical doctor yourself, you have a special responsibility to your fellow human beings to protect health, provide sympathetic care, to prevent disease.
It is time you respected this duty. It is time you listened to the medical profession and the provinces and protect the most vulnerable in our society. It is time that you stand up for refugees and tell your caucus, the cabinet and the Prime Minister to reverse this reprehensible injustice.
Dr. Leitch responds via the CBC.
In a statement to CBC News, Leitch said the changes are “fair and necessary.” … Leitch, who represents the Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey, referred to the open letter by the Liberals as an example of their “increasing desperation.”
Dr. Leitch was previously challenged to oppose her government’s policy on asbestos exports.
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 9:00 PM - 0 Comments
Parade gathers politicians, leadership hopefuls and Mulcair Bears
Politicians were out for Toronto’s annual gay pride parade.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 2:24 PM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Romeo Saganash and Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett say Nutrition North has failed, while John Duncan defends the program. Fred Hill and Michael Fitzgerald, who managed the previous Food Mail program, say Nutrition North is a poor substitute.
Though touted as a more efficient and market-driven approach with its streamlined (narrower) list of eligible foods scheduled to come into effect in October 2012, and with improved transparency and accountability, Nutrition North Canada seems to be perceived by most northerners as an unmitigated failure. Despite recent public protests throughout Nunavut and a barrage of criticism, including that of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who was treated so disrespectfully by Canadian ministers in May, the department has released no evidence that the promised reductions in food prices and improvements in quality have occurred, 15 months after it came into effect.
Six months before the new program was launched, the department abandoned its 21-year practice of conducting food price surveys in isolated northern communities and southern supply centres and publishing the cost of a healthy food basket. It therefore has no reliable independent evidence to contradict or support the public impression of program failure.
(In the link above, Mr. Duncan does claim some specific reductions in food prices.)
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 22, 2012 at 9:34 AM - 0 Comments
Yesterday’s QP exchange on the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
John McKay: Mr. Speaker, in November 2008 the PBO predicted a deficit, the minister a surplus. The PBO was right, the minister wrong. In December 2009, the PBO predicted a lapse in infrastructure spending. The PBO was right; the minister was wrong. In 2010, the PBO pegged cost overruns on the F-35 at more than $10 billion more than the minister. Again, the PBO was right and the minister was wrong. There seems to be a pattern here. The PBO is more frequently right than wrong, and the government appears to be more frequently wrong than right. If this is overstepping the mandate, maybe we need a bit more of the PBO, not less.
Tony Clement: Mr. Speaker, in 2009 this was said: “I’m quite concerned the Parliamentary Budget Officer sees himself as an independent practitioner who can report whenever he wants”. Who said that? It was the Liberal member for St. Paul’s. What the public can see through right away is that when the opposition members want to use the Parliamentary Budget Officer as an attack talking point, then they side with the Parliamentary Budget Officer; when they disagree because it does not fulfill their arguments, then they attack the Parliamentary Officer.
Meanwhile, last night on Twitter, Mr. Clement had praise for the committee report that includes a recommendation that further study be conducted into making the PBO a full officer of Parliament (including NDP and Liberal recommendations that he be given that status).
Kevin Pages says he’ll wait until the fall to see if the government responds to request for budget details before pursuing court action.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
In response to the Heritage Minister’s criticism of the Canadian Science and Technology Museum, Senator Nancy Ruth questions James Moore’s judgment. Peter Julian mocks. Ottawa Citizen columnist Peter Simpson considers.
In a CBC panel, Dean Del Mastro, the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary, questioned the parameters of science and compared the exhibit to what might be found in an adult video store.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
Egale, Canada’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) human rights organization, held a…
Egale, Canada’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) human rights organization, held a special all-party reception in the Hill hosted by Tory Senator Nancy Ruth.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 4:59 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP leadership contenders made their first impressions. Bruce Hyer napped. Robert Chisholm defended his unilingualism. Paul Dewar proposed a new kind of vote subsidy. Thomas Mulcair pitched cap-and-trade.
Chuck Strahl complicated John Duncan’s timeline. The citizens of Attawapiskat turned away the auditor, who’s costing them $1,300 per day. Peter MacKay had a history with helicopter rides. The Liberals double-checked. A retired major came to the minister’s defence. And the minister threatened to sue. Peter Goldring became an independent. MPs failed in their duty. And Jim Hillyer celebrated (and then kind of tried to sort of apologize). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 10 Comments
When asked whether Parliament is in need of reform, the short and universal answer from the Parliamentarians with whom we spoke is: yes. In their view, the institution has, in a sense, lost its way.
Parliamentarians feel that the House of Commons and the Senate are no longer places in which meaningful debate occurs. The impetus to get the government’s business through and the strongly enforced party discipline have combined to limit the number of voices heard in Parliament … Parliamentarians feel they have not the information, the support or the expertise to hold the government to account effectively … By and large, Parliamentarians do not feel their work as legislators has a significant impact on public policy decisions in Canada. By the time issues and ideas are brought to either chamber, positions have by and large been set, partisan lines drawn, and the outcomes determined. What is more, Parliamentarians feel they have little, if anything, to show for those occasions when they have come together on issues, be it a committee recommendation or motion passed in the chamber. Put simply, decisions are made elsewhere.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM - 11 Comments
A statement issued this morning by the family of NDP leader Jack Layton.
We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
9:36am. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies talks to reporters in St. John’s.
“He was a great Canadian. He gave his life to this country. His commitment to social justice and equality and a better Canada in the world and at home and I think that’s how people saw him,” Davies told reporters. “They saw him as someone who deeply, deeply cared for people. And they saw that in the campaign and all his work. They saw the courage that he had. He faced cancer and he kept on working, doing his job, because he felt so strongly about what he believed in, so I think people think of him as a great Canadian and we think of him as a great leader, in a political sense but (also) in a personal sense.”
He was a believer. He made that clear in the first sentences of “Speaking Out Louder:” ”Politics matters. Ideas matter. Democracy matters, because all of us need to be able to make a difference.”
9:54am. Mr. Layton’s Facebook page has become a makeshift memorial.
9:59am. Greg Fingas marks the NDP leader’s passing.
After spending a decade laying the foundation, Jack Layton has tragically died before getting to complete the house that so many said couldn’t be built. For now, there’s little to do but to offer condolences and grieve the loss of a great Canadian and friend. But hopefully Layton’s inspiration will only encourage us to finish what he started.
10:01am. A statement from the Prime Minister. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 10:08 PM - 19 Comments
MPs hit the Toronto Pride Parade. Below, Green leader Elizabeth May (right) with Green…
MPs hit the Toronto Pride Parade. Below, Green leader Elizabeth May (right) with Green volunteer Michael Wall.
NDP leader Jack Layton and his MP wife Olivia Chow.
(Left to right) Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, Liberal leader Bob Rae and former Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 3, 2011 at 11:09 PM - 166 Comments
A statement this evening from the office of the Speaker of the Senate.
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate deplores the actions of a page, which constituted a contempt of Parliament, during the Opening of Parliament in the Senate Chamber today.
All employees of the Senate are expected to serve the institution in a non-partisan manner, with competence, excellence, efficiency and objectivity.
The Senate has terminated the employee’s contract effective immediately for breaching the terms and conditions of employment. The incident raises serious security concerns which the Senate will fully investigate.
The Speaker of the Senate expresses to His Excellency the Governor General the apology of the Chamber for any embarrassment this incident may have caused.
Evan Solomon interviews Brigette DePape. Jason Kenney deems Ms. DePape a “lefty kook.” CP has reaction from Carolyn Bennett, Justin Trudeau and Senator Pierre Claude Nolin. Comments from Bob Rae and Elizabeth May after the jump. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 1:30 PM - 3 Comments
Politicians came out to the recent United Jewish Appeal Walk with Israel in Toronto….
Politicians came out to the recent United Jewish Appeal Walk with Israel in Toronto. Below, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 6 Comments
The 31st annual Genie Awards were held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. Below, Industry…
The 31st annual Genie Awards were held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. Below, Industry Minister Tony Clement.
Shannon Tweed and the boys!