Monday, 27 February 2012

TDSB By-Elections today

The Toronto District School Board is holding two by-elections today. My earlier assessment can be found here. And voting location information can be found here. If you receive a phone call telling you that you voting location has moved, I suggest you double check that information with Elections Toronto. We wouldn't want to have to hold new by-elections in a year....

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Updated Election Fraud List

The following is an updated list of ridings and their current MPs allegedly implicated in election fraud.
  1. Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale (ON) - David Sweet (Conservative)
  2. Barrie (ON) - Patrick Brown (Conservative)
  3. Bas-Richelieu-Nicolet-Becancour (QC) - Hon. Louis Plamondon (Bloc)
  4. Brampton West (ON) - Kyle Seeback (Conservative)
  5. Cambridge (ON) - Hon. Gary Goodyer (Conservative), Minister of State for Science
  6. Chicoutimi-Le Fjord (QC) - Danny Morin (NDP)
  7. Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon (BC) - Mark Strahl (Conservative)
  8. Davenport (ON) - Andrew Cash (NDP)
  9. Don Valley East (ON) - Joe Daniel (Conservative)
  10. Edmonton East (AB) - Peter Goldring (Libertarian) [NOTE: Goldring ran as a Conservative]
  11. Egmont (PE) - Hon. Gail Shea (Conservative), Minister of National Revenue
  12. Eglinton-Lawrence (ON) - Hon. Joe Oliver (Conservative), Minister of Natural Resources
  13. Elmwood-Transcona (MB) - Lawrence Toet (Conservative)
  14. Essex (ON) - Jeff Watson (Conservative)
  15. Etobicoke Centre (ON) - Ted Opitz (Conservative)
  16. Fredericton (NB) - Hon. Keith Ashfield (Conservative), Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
  17. Guelph (ON) - Frank Valeriote (Liberal)
  18. Haldimand-Norfolk (ON) - Hon. Diane Finlay (Conservative), Minister of HRSD
  19. Halton (ON) - Hon. Lisa Raitt (Conservative), Minister of Labour
  20. Hamilton East-Stoney Creek (ON) - Wayne Marston (NDP)
  21. Kingston and the Islands (ON) - Ted Hsu (Liberal)
  22. Kitchener-Conestoga (ON) - Harold Albrecht (Conservative)
  23. Kitchener-Waterloo (ON) - Peter Braid (Conservative)
  24. Lac-Saint-Louis (QC) - Francis Scarpaleggia (Liberal)
  25. Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington (ON) - Hon. Scott Reid (Conservative)
  26. London North Centre (ON) - Susan Troupe (Conservative)
  27. London West (ON) - Ed Holder (Conservative)
  28. Louis-Hébert (QC) - Denis Blanchette (NDP)
  29. Markham-Unionville (ON) - Hon. John McCallum (Liberal)
  30. Mississauga East-Cooksville (ON) - Wladyslaw Lizon (Conservative)
  31. Mississauga-Streetsville (ON) - Brad Butt (Conservative)
  32. Montmorency-Charlevoix-Haute-Côte-Nord (QC) - Johnathan Tremblay (NDP)
  33. Niagara Falls (ON) - Hon. Rob Nicholson (Conservative), Attorney-General
  34. Nipissing-Timiskaming (ON) - Jay Aspin (Conservative)
  35. Oakville (ON) - Terrance Young (Conservative)
  36. Oak Ridges-Markham (ON) - Paul Calandra (Conservative)
  37. Ottawa Centre (ON) - Paul Dewar (NDP)
  38. Ottawa-Orleans (ON) - Royal Galipeau (Conservative)
  39. Ottawa West-Nepean (ON) - Hon. John Baird (Conservative), Minister of Foreign Affairs
  40. Parkdale - High Park (ON) - Peggy Nash (NDP)
  41. Perth - Wellington (ON) - Gary Shellenberger (Conservative)
  42. Peterborough (ON) - Dean Del Mastro (Conservative), Parliamentary Secretary to the PM
  43. Prince George-Peace River (BC) - Bob Zimmer (Conservative)
  44. Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques (QC) - Guy Caron (NDP)
  45. Saanich-Gulf Islands (BC) - Elizabeth May (Green)
  46. Saint Boniface (MB) - Shelley Glover (Conservative)
  47. Saint John (NB) - Rodney Weston (Conservative)
  48. Sarnia-Lambton (ON) - Pat Davidson (Conservative)
  49. Sault Ste. Marie (ON) - Bryan Hayes (Conservative)
  50. Scarborough Southwest (ON) - Dan Harris (NDP)
  51. Simcoe-Grey (ON) - Kellie Leitch (Conservative)
  52. South Shore-St. Margaret's (NS) - Gerald Keddy (Conservative)
  53. St. Catharines (ON) - Rick Dykstra (Conservative)
  54. St. Paul's (ON) - Hon. Carolyn Bennet (Liberal)
  55. Sudbury (ON) - Glenn Thibeault (NDP)
  56. Sydney-Victoria (NS) - Hon. Mark Eyking (Liberal)
  57. Thunder Bay-Superior North (ON) - Bruce Hyer (NDP)
  58. Vancouver-Kingsway (BC) - Don Davies (NDP)
  59. Vancouver Quadra (BC) - Joyce Murray (Liberal)
  60. Vaughan (ON) - Hon. Julian Fantino (Conservative), Associate Minister of Defense
  61. Wellington - Halton Hills (ON) - Hon. Michael Chong (Conservative)
  62. Willowdale (ON) - Chungsen Leung (Conservative)
  63. Windsor-Tecumseh (ON) - Joe Comartin (NDP)
  64. Windosr West (ON) - Brian Masse (NDP)
  65. Winnipeg Centre (MB) - Pat Martin (NDP)
  66. Winnipeg South Centre (MB) - Joyce Bateman (Conservative)
  67. York Centre (ON) - Mark Adler (Conservative)
Alright, so that brings the alleged ridings involved to 67 - including my own riding of York Centre where I lost a fantastic Member of Parliament in Ken Dryden. However,  Richard Cléroux of La Nouvelle Étudiant / L'Express Étudiant states, "In total, according to Elections Canada, 97 Conservative candidates across Canada, including 18 in Quebec, sent cheques to RMG or to other firms making telephone calls for the party."

If your riding is on this list I encourage you to contact your local MP and demand they step down in favour a by-election - regardless of party affiliation. It is the only way to restore Canadian faith in democracy.

[Updated 26 February 2011, 5:58pm]

[Updated 26 February 2011, 11:05pm]

[Updated 29 February 2011, 11:39am with information from the National Post -]

[Updated 1 March 2011, 1:49pm with information from CTV -]

[Updated 3 March 2011, 9:15pm to include Barrie with information from the Barrie Examiner -]

[Updated 3 March 2011, 9:30pm to include Vaughan with information from the Toronto Star -]

[Updated 5 March 2011, 7:28am to include Saint John and Fredericton with information from the CBC -]

[Updated 5 March 2011, 7:42am to include Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques, Chicoutimi-Le Fjord,  Lac St. Louis-Dollard, Montmorency-Charlevoix-Haute-Côte-Nord, Louis-Hébert with information from La Nouvelle Étudiant / L'Express Étudiant -]

[Updated 10 March 2011, 10:34am to include York Centre with information from the Globe and Mail -]

[Updated 13 March 2011, 11:03pm to include Scarborough-Rouge River with information from the CBC -]

Saturday, 25 February 2012

By-elections must be called!

We all know the issue. The Conservative Party of Canada has allegedly partaken in actions of voter supression. This is a very serious allegation, and I will accept the notion of innocent until proben guilty. As we stand it seems that only one individual, 23 year old Conservative staffer and professional ballot box tamperer Michael Sona; is responsible.
I don't know if there was any central coordination from Prime Minister Harper or his inner circle to engage in such actions. What I do know is that MPs and candidates from all three parties have claimed to be victims. That puts the results of all affected ridings into question. The Liberal Party of Canada has delivered a list of 27 ridings affected, however; there are reports that put the number as high as 34. It is imperative that all MPs representing these ridings accept that the validity of their election has now been called into question. That means Canadian democracy has been called into question. By-elections are must to correct this matter. And in the interest of democracy, they must be called immediately.

Friday, 24 February 2012

In moderate defence of Gary Webster

In recent days a number of Toronto city councillors have jumped to the defence of Gary Webster, the embattled general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). His contract was terminated at an emergency meeting of the TTC to discuss a “personnel matter” yesterday afternoon.

Webster has found himself in some trouble, due in large part to his difference of opinion with the Mayor regarding the future of Toronto’s transit system. Mayor Ford continues to be adamant in his belief that subways are the only possible solution to Toronto’s transit woes, whereas Webster is sticking to his guns in defending previous Mayor David Miller’s Transit City plan.

This debate has become largely polarized, with Council’s left and centre standing behind Webster and the right opposing his continued tenure. I’m going to take a different approach. There are reasons to let Webster go. He has hardly done a spectacular job. The TTC often runs late, experiences breaks in service, and has failed to be a model of municipal transportation in approximately two decades. Given numerous project cost overruns and an inability to demonstrate that he can work with those of differing political opinions, Webster probably should have been let go a year ago. The problem, however; lies in why Mayor Ford and his allies at the TTC may have chosen to dismiss Webster at this time. This appears to have been an act of vengeance on the part of the Mayor and his inner circle following the loss of a major vote at Council that resurrected aspects of Transit City. Councillor Stintz’ leadership on that vote has garnered a great deal of public support. It would not be in the Mayor’s best political interest to force her out of her current role as Chair of the TTC. But Webster was not a public figure. Career civil servants usually fly under the radar. It is doubtful Webster’s dismissal will create the kind of ripples that the Mayor will have to answer for come 2014. It’s not the firing of Webster that I take issue with. It’s why it is occurring at this exact time that I have a problem with.

Mayor Ford has made a number of enemies since declaring his candidacy for Mayor of Toronto. He and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, appear to be using this event to strike a unilateral blow against the left. Where Webster has failed as a general manager, the Mayor has allowed his position to be compromised by his polarizing political activity. Councillor John Parker, the Deputy Speaker of City Council and former Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament, announced via Twitter, “This amounts to wrongful dismissal.” (I have paraphrased this because the comment has since been deleted.)

This causes me concern. For many years Councillor Rob Ford railed against Mayor David Miller’s polarizing agenda. To date Mayor Rob Ford has managed to expand upon that. While there are a small handful of Councillors that make up the ‘mighty middle,’ the vast majority have been forced to choose sides. It is an unfortunate reminder of what happens when the electorate selects politicians on the fringe of politics. We live in a city which is stuck at a standstill. We are left in state of permanent debate where the only instances in which anything can be achieved comes from broad coalitions being created from within Council, such as what Councillor Stintz was able to achieve in proposing her plan for the future of Toronto's rapid transit – a plan for which Webster was one of the key architects.

What Council is neglecting to realize is that the expansion of Toronto’s transit system; particularly the subway system, should not be and cannot be a partisan political issue. Jack Layton, the late leader of Canada's New Democratic Party, was one of Toronto's earliest proponents of subways in this city. Subways are not a right wing issue. The problem with the Mayor`s vision lies in his lack of plan for financing such an expansion. A deputant at yesterday's meeting referred to this as having "champagne tastes on a beer budget." Some may recall Sarah Thomson, a former candidate for Mayor and publisher of this magazine, promoted a fully financed plan to expand our subway system during her 2010 campaign. Perhaps it is time for the Mayor to take a peek at the aforementioned plan and see what he can take away from it.

[Originally posted at]

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Nathan Cullen Event in Davenport

Alright folks, I will be at the Nathan Cullen event in Davenport riding on Friday. I'll be doing a write up on it for this blog and the Women's Post. Join me in Davenport as Nathan speaks out in support of his plan for progressive cooperation. Details are as follows;
Friday, 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Ciro's Restaurant, 1316 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H1P2. (Directions)

RSVP on Facebook here.

Hope to see you there!

Is child care sustainable?

Is child care sustainable?

That was the question on the table at a community town hall at Topcliffe Public School in the Jane and Finch area on February 15. The event was hosted by Anthony Perruzza, Toronto City Councillor for Ward 8, and Mario Sergio, MPP for York West. Residents in attendance were treated to a spirited defence of child care in Toronto.

Jane Mercer, a representative of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, was there to warn those in attendance. Child care spaces will be cut. Facilities will be closed. The reason stems from the introduction of full-day early learning at the provincial level. This has led to the assumption that less child care spaces will be required. Upon this news Mercer was quick to jump to the defence of the provincial government and Premier Dalton McGuinty. “Full-day kindergarten was a noble intention from the provincial government to provide more opportunities for children,” she said.

Mercer submits, however; that despite such a noble intent, a ball has been dropped somewhere. She believes much of the blame lies with the federal government and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mercer traces the problems with child care back to the Prime Minister’s cancelling of an agreement between the previous federal Liberal government and the provinces to create a fully funded universal child care program. She sites both the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba as jurisdictions that have successfully implemented the universal system with a cost to taxpayers of less than $20.00 per day.

It was significant that this meeting was held in York West. In a city with approximately 20,000 children on child care wait lists, residents of the Jane and Finch area are some of the most vulnerable to cuts. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of those in the community have had their care subsidized by the City. Councillor Perruzza said bluntly, “We need more money for infants and toddlers.”

Perruzza’s comments may be accurate. However, Mayor Rob Ford has made his feelings about spending more money (as long as it doesn’t concern subways) quite clear. The well has been tapped dry and the funds to provide additional subsidies simply do not exist. That said; Perruzza does always have the option to put forward a motion at Council with the hope that he can put together enough support from his colleagues to force the hand of the Mayor and Budget Chief Mike Del Grande.

Perruzza, however; would rather not have to go around the Mayor. He would like to work with the Mayor’s Child Care Task Force and Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who has been appointed as Chair. With that in mind, he made a point to invite every single York West resident in need of child care to the City’s public meeting with Councillor Mammoliti on February 28 at 7:00pm at St. Jude’s Catholic School, located at 3265 Weston Road. I plan to be in attendance. I hope to see you there.

[Originally posted at]

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Posing a question...

So this is a test in a few things;

1) It will demonstrate just how wide a readership my blog has; and

2) Perhaps we can gage progressive public opinion on the issues of progressive cooperation.

NDP leadership candidate Nathan Cullen has come out in support of progressive cooperation. That is to say the notion that progressive political parties - Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens - should be prepared to work together for a better Canada. I have come out in support of this, as well. Progressives in this country need to prioritize their goals. Will it be for the betterment of Canada? Or their party?

So let me ask you, what is your opinion on the matter?

Former Communication Director to Jack Layton, Jamey Heath, has provided a breakdown of the plan here.

Monday, 20 February 2012

More tales of waste from the Conservative Party of Canada

Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun editorialized against the Prime Minister's decision to utilize government funds to rent panda from China, here.

This is a refreshing assesment of this Prime Minister's addiction to excess from Quebecor Media Inc. At a time when Canadians are being warned to expect further cuts and austerity to just about every government program that doesn't fall under the auspicies of the Ministry of Nation Defense, Ministry of Public Safety, or the Office of the Attorney-General of Canada; I think we can all admit that this embrace of spending $1 million/year (for ten years) is just a tremendous waste of OUR money.
Equally concerning is this government's embrace of China. I am all for free trade. And I believe that opening Chinese trade could very well leader to a freer Chinese society, but in embracing China without questioning them on human rights Canada lowers itself. I have long supported the concept of Alberta's "ethical oil" - that is until China purchased a majority share. Canadian oil has become "conflict oil". And these pandas are "conflict pandas." Is this really what Canadians want out of a government? One that is willing to spend on panda, while cutting on veterans?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Oh Vic Toews...

So Vic Toews has now admitted he never read C30. He is shocked to find out just how invasive it is... There are two perspectives to this.
1) Minister Toews really has lost all credibility and can no longer lead the Government of Canada on issues of public safety when he isn't even reading the bills that he is proposing. How can any Canadian actually trust Toews to head of Canada's broader security aparatus when he can't even make it through a piece of legislation?

2) Toews has severely compromised the entire Harper Government. By accusing anyone who opposes warrantless searches of Canadian internet activity of siding with child pornographers Minister Toews painted himself and the entire Conservative Party into a corner. By renegging on those earlier comments he can only be read as playing politics in an attempt to appeal to the absolute lowest (and I mean lowest!) common denomenator. That is a legacy that the Conservative Party of Canada, Minister Toews, and Prime Minister Harper just cannot avoid. That... or they openly side with child pornographers... I suppose in 2015 the Canadian people will decide.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

RE: Stop Online Spying

This is a word for word cut and paste of an email sent to me by Canadian Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews in response to my concerns regarding Bill C-30: The Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. I will let you draw your own conclusions.

I will say this, though. While I still have my concerns regarding C-30, I am impressed that it only took the Minister a day to respond to my email.


Thank you for contacting my office regarding Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.

Canada's laws currently do not adequately protect Canadians from online exploitation and we think there is widespread agreement that this is a problem.

We want to update our laws while striking the right balance between combating crime and protecting privacy.

Let me be very clear: the police will not be able to read emails or view web activity unless they obtain a warrant issued by a judge and we have constructed safeguards to protect the privacy of Canadians, including audits by privacy commissioners.

What's needed most is an open discussion about how to better protect Canadians from online crime. We will therefore send this legislation directly to Parliamentary Committee for a full examination of the best ways to protect Canadians while respecting their privacy.

For your information, I have included some myths and facts below regarding Bill C-30 in its current state.


Vic Toews
Member of Parliament for Provencher

Myth: Lawful Access legislation infringes on the privacy of Canadians.

Fact:Our Government puts a high priority on protecting the privacy of law-abiding Canadians. Current practices of accessing the actual content of communications with a legal authorization will not change.

Myth: Having access to basic subscriber information means that authorities can monitor personal communications and activities.

Fact: This has nothing to do with monitoring emails or web browsing.  Basic subscriber information would be limited to a customer’s name, address, telephone number, email address, Internet Protocol (IP) address, and the name of the telecommunications service provider. It absolutely does not include the content of emails, phones calls or online activities.

Myth: This legislation does not benefit average Canadians and only gives authorities more power.

Fact:  As a result of technological innovations, criminals and terrorists have found ways to hide their illegal activities. This legislation will keep Canadians safer by putting police on the same footing as those who seek to harm us.

Myth: Basic subscriber information is way beyond “phone book information”.

Fact: The basic subscriber information described in the proposed legislation is the modern day equivalent of information that is in the phone book. Individuals frequently freely share this information online and in many cases it is searchable and quite public.

Myth: Police and telecommunications service providers will now be required to maintain databases with information collected on Canadians.

Fact:This proposed legislation will not require either police or telecommunications service providers to create databases with information collected on Canadians.

Myth: “Warrantless access” to customer information will give police and government unregulated access to our personal information.

Fact: Federal legislation already allows telecommunications service providers to voluntarily release basic subscriber information to authorities without a warrant. This Bill acts as a counterbalance by adding a number of checks and balances which do not exist today, and clearly lists which basic subscriber identifiers authorities can access.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Breaking down the TDSB By-Elections

If you are unaware that there have been two ongoing Toronto District School Board (TDSB) by-elections in this city, you could hardly be blamed. You aren’t the only one. The by-elections in TDSB Ward 17 (Don Valley East) and TDSB Ward 20 (Scarborough-Agincourt) have largely managed to fly under the radar in a city that has so recently faced three general elections, a federal by-election, and constant political strife at City Hall between the Mayor and his political adversaries.

The two seats became vacant when Liberals Michael Coteau and Soo Wong were elected during the previous October’s Ontario general election in Don Valley East and Scarborough-Agincourt, respectively. While both have become key members of Premier McGuinty’s Toronto team of MPPs, their old seats at the TDSB have become the focal points of two of the most hotly contested by-elections in the school board's history. Boasting an impressive thirty-one candidates between the two wards; it would be needlessly complicated to break down the platform for each and every single candidate. That said; there are a few who have managed to break ahead of the pack.

In Ward 17, Sam Ghose, who finished third to Michael Coteau in October 2010, is running again. He’s basing his campaign on his experience as a businessman and resident who has raised two children in the ward. Running on a fiscally conservative platform, Ghose is promising to utilize public funds with the express purpose of helping children succeed.

Also running is Ken Lister. His website immediately identifies him as a Liberal partisan who will find common ground with the current trustees in an attempt to deliver the best education for students in Ward 17. Boasting years of experience in government and a long list of endorsements, he has chosen to centre his campaign on special and physical education. He appears to be the ‘one to beat’ here.

Just a little southwest, Ward 20 has managed to mimic the formula put forth by Ward 17; that of a small number of candidates managing to stand up above the crowd. Chief among them is Monica Batac. Attracting far more media attention than any other candidate in either race, Batac is running on her experience as a teacher with the TDSB and a researcher with the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education. She has built her campaign around prioritizing English as a second language education. However, the most interesting piece of her platform may be her commitment to study the feasibility of opening a trilingual school in Toronto.

Batac’s primary competition is Sam Sotiropoulos. He is a former teacher and since 2004 an aide to Jim Karigiannis, the Liberal MP for the corresponding riding. After finishing second to Soo Wong, he is hoping for things to be different this time around. Billing himself as the “technology trustee,” Sotiropoulos is pledging to incorporate further ‘electronic education’ into the TDSB. Achieving this at the school board level may or may not be possible, as curriculums are set by the provincial Ministry of Education.

Whomever you choose to vote for come election day, be sure to vote. Coming off a municipal election in which only 43.65% of eligible voters voted, it is now more important than ever that Torontonians elect the kind of representation that they want to make decisions for them and their children at the school board level. The By-elections have been called for 27 February 2012. To locate your voting facility please visit the following website:

[Originally posted at]

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Liberals go with Gordon in Toronto-Danforth

The emotion was palpable in the room at Riverdale Collegiate last night. Federal Liberals in the riding of Toronto-Danforth were excited to decide who would represent them in their upcoming by-election. Met with two options in Grant Gordon, an advertising executive, and Trifton Haitas, a filmmaker; members of the Toronto-Danforth Liberal riding association chose the former. However, both nominees put in some spirited campaigning first.

The less than charismatic Trifton Haitas had a shaky start, first with some confusion on the part of the gentleman nominating him and then having his phone ring while he address the crowd. But Haitas spoke passionately of the Liberal vision and his goal to stand up for this vision in Ottawa. Sources tell me that the vote was fairly close. But, this would not be Haitas's night.

Some might know Gordon as the brain behind for the tremendously successful “FLICK OFF” campaign, an initiative aimed at encouraging Canadians to use less energy. Nominated by Dennis Mills, former Member of Parliament for the riding, Gordon injected a dose of humour into the campaign by stating, "My last name, Gordon - G O R D O N; it’s actually pronounced 'Compomposis.'" It didn’t take long, however; for Gordon to get serious with his declaration. "I do not need to be a woman to fight for women's rights; including the right to make their own choices with their bodies,” he explained, as a nod to the underlying issue following his opponents' endorsement from a pro-life group.
Fully aware this will not be an easy ride, Gordon issued a rallying call during HIS nomination speech, “Let’s make this a referendum,” he said, “on the Liberal vision for Canada of a strong central government and on the NDP vision based on fuzzy economics.” Gordon will spend the next five weeks telling his neighbours, "Liberals can beat Goliath."

The coming electioneering will prove interesting. NDP challenger, Craig Scott, a professor with Osgoode Hall Law School, has begun a campaign that paints Toronto-Danforth as “Jack’s riding.” It will be up to Gordon to prove that his vision of a Liberal Canada and a Liberal Toronto-Danforth is the best option for the people of his community. His background as a community activist and environmentalist should assist him in this venture.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservative Party has already admitted defeat, has called the by-election for MARCH 19, 2012. Running for the Conservatives is Andrew Keyes, a communications consultant.

If you wish to volunteer on Grant Gordon's campaign, you may visit the following website:

[Originally posted at]

Monday, 6 February 2012

MPs want tax deductions on ‘valid business expense’: golfing

Consider this my reaction to this story from the National Post.

In a time of economic trouble; in a time when a government is promoting austerity; in a time when the Prime Minister is musing of cuts to old age security; why would any MP - let alone an all-party caucus - promote the notion that golf should be a tax-deductible expense? I usually am a fan of Peter Stoffer. He and Sean Casey have been leading the charge against cuts to an already bone dry Department of Veterans Affairs. But this is just rediculous.

I don't have a lot to say on the issue. Perhaps, because I find it so furiating as a taxpayer - especially when I have very little confidence in the current administration's management of the money I give them. But I would very much like a list of every single MP that is a member of this 'golf caucus'. It is time that an Canadian that has ever uttered the phrase "tax dollars" withdraw their support.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Ontario's Clean Energy Workforce Continues to Grow

A big thanks goes out to those that laid the groundwork here - including Premier McGuinty and my former boss Minister Brad Duguid. Ontario's sustainable energy technology programs are helping build a skilled workforce to meet the demand for clean energy jobs and strengthen the province's position as a clean energy leader in North America.

Yesterday, Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley visited Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie to speak to students in the Renewable Energy and Green Construction Techniques program, where they are training to be the next generation of highly-skilled workers in the provinces growing clean-energy industry. Ontario has introduced new postsecondary and apprenticeship programs focused on sustainable energy technology. Sault College is one of 13 colleges and three universities that offer programs related to clean energy. Program graduates will be in a position to assist with feasibility assessments, renewable energy system installations, and green construction and renovation.

Supporting the next generation of clean-energy workers, while building a clean energy system is part of the McGuinty government's plan to create and support jobs for Ontario families while ensuring we have the electricity we need to power our homes, schools, hospitals and our economy.

President of Sault College was quoted as saying, "Environmental education is more than a program at Sault College - it is part of the college's strategic focus. Helping to conserve our environment for future learners is no longer a choice; it's an obligation that we strive to fulfil. The rising demand for environmentally-friendly approaches is inspiring the creation of a growing number of green jobs in Ontario and the training we deliver at Sault College prepares our graduates to be successful in this emerging sector."

But this program isn't limited to the Soo. In Ontario, there are 120,000 apprentices learning a trade today -- which is nearly 60,000 more than in 2002-03 - which will help Ontario meet its target for clean, renewable energy from wind, solar and bioenergy of 10,700 MW by 2018 - the equivalent of taking up to 2.9 million homes off the grid. So far, Ontario has brought more than 9,000 megawatts of new and refurbished clean energy online - enough to power cities the size of Ottawa and Toronto.

And the best part? In an attempt to encourage attendees to the program by keeping the cost of postsecondary tuition within everyone's reach, the McGuinty Government is providing a grant to reduce undergraduate college and university tuition by an average of 30 per cent for families earning less than $160,000 per year.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Time for a National Energy Strategy

Don't worry, folks. There's no need to raise the spectre of the National Energy Program on this one. What I am calling for is a made in Canada strategy to encourage the proliferation of alternative or green energy sources without forces the shutdown of Alberta's oil sands.

Let's face it folks, the is a growing industry and Canada has the geological diversity to be a leader on the world stage. And with the current government's recent rejection of the Kyoto Protocol there is space in Canada's body politic for such a strategy. Imagine that! A made in Canada answer to Kyoto.

Liberal MP and potential leadership candidate David McGuinty recently commented on the possibility of a national strategy, saying, "I don't know how you could talk about energy without talking about greenhouse gases unless you're in massive denial collectively and don't want to deal with the elephant in the room... Harper doesn't want to talk about it because he's desperately afraid of putting a price on carbon emissions."

Now, that is the problem my friends. I've long endorsed a 'carbon tax' that is balanced by large reductions is income taxes. But there is a problem here - a lack of political will. The Prime Minister recently stating that Canada is pulling out of Kyoto because other states aren't pulling their weight. Fair enough. But how about Canada go out on its own? How about Canada become a world leader? Does this Prime Minister have the political will?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ontario Liberals' New 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant making postsecondary education more affordable

I know not all will agree with me, but I for one, I am pleased to see Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty ia standing up for Ontario students and putting them first.

The government's new 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant will make a real, measurable difference in the affordability of college and university. In fact, it already is, this semester university and college degree students are receiving $800 and college diploma and certificate programs students are receiving $365.

There are groups in Ontario, claiming to represent students, who would like this grant to apply to students whose family earn over $160,000 per year. However, the tuition grant is meant to assist students from lower- and middle-income families to ensure that the cost of postsecondary education stays within their reach. The grant is meant to help high school students have a smooth transition to postsecondary education, since 7 out of 10 jobs now will require education beyond high school. More than 300,000 students are eligible to receive 30% off tuition this year and 5 out of 6 families could benefit.

The new 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant is a huge step in the right direction to making postsecondary education affordable and accessible for all Ontarians. The Premier should be applauded for his continued commitment to students. We should all be calling on the NDP and Conservatives to step up and support students by supporting 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant.

For those that still question the neccessity of this grant I will remind you that more than 300,000 students are eligible to receive 30% off tuition this year and so far, over 60,000 students have applied for the Ontario Tuition Grant. If students are too wealthy to qualify for this grant there are many others available to Ontario students found here. I will also remind everyone that under the Ontario NDP government of the early 1990s and Conservative government of Harris-Eves that tuition skyrocketed at rates of 50% and 66% respectively, while Premier McGuinty has managed to maintain a modest increase of 35% over the previous nine years.