I am a reluctant activist. I don't like rocking the boat. But when our federal election was called in August, it occurred to me that the entries in my blog might be worth sharing. So I'm posting 78 of them to a Facebook page, 78 Days, 78 Reasons. It's my hope they'll help reasonable Canadians, particularly young people and small c-conservatives, see that we deserve better.
Marineland has launched lawsuits targeting myself, former orca trainer Christine Santos and animal care supervisor Jim Hammond. My latest round of legal bills totaled more than I will earn in this year -- $100,000. Our lawsuits are shining examples of the urgent need for the anti-SLAPP legislation that is Bill 52: Protection of Public Participation Act. It is unbearable to think that this historic piece of legislation -- as it is currently written -- will not apply to the very people who have largely inspired it. Why is the province turning its back on us and leaving us behind? Where is the procedural fairness for those of us who are already proceeding with unfair cases before the courts in Ontario?
Lefties too often believe that right-wing women are not feminists. While it's true that on the whole the NDP, Liberal and Green Party platforms tout women's equality and protection from discrimination, not every policy is obviously more feminist than another. Had the Up for Debate event included a right-wing speaker, she would not have showed up in an apron. She would have argued how different values can still lead to equality. That kind of diverse political debate would have proved women aren't a special interest group; we represent the entire range of a political spectrum.
There are 235,000 Canadians who experience homelessness in the course of a year. And 1.6 million more Canadians are at risk of losing their homes according to CMHC. All this misery while study after study shows that it is cheaper for the public purse to house someone than leave them on the street, moving in and out of shelters, emergency hospital rooms and even jails in some cases. I think we all understand intuitively the importance of having decent shelter. A home anchors a person, anchors a family.
By the time you read this column, my membership in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario will likely be revoked (if not, I will resign). I will no longer be the director of a riding association in the Toronto Centre Conservative Association. This is not because I am no longer useful to the once-proud party of Bill Davis, John Robarts and, yes, Christine Elliott, but because I am coming out against comrade Stephen Harper -- our party's federal counterpart. The Stephen Harper era has made us too partisan, extremely fearful of our neighbours, cheerleaders in world affairs, less tolerant to new immigrants and refugees and mere observers in the affairs of our country -- instead of active actors.
In 1992, Canada was the world's leading contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Canada now ranks a dismal 68th in personnel contributions to UN peacekeeping. This dramatic decline began under the Liberals. Our international engagement programs took us from #1 to #32 by the time the Conservatives took office in 2006 -- they continued the Liberal abandonment of UN peacekeeping as a key role for Canada.
My relationship with several key people in the Harper government was -- "interesting." But when I took the job as Canada's first parliamentary budget officer, I never envisioned the PBO as being involved in an "us versus them" dynamic. We were in our office to serve parliamentarians who had reasonable requests for costing or other fiscal information. But the relationship that had developed between our office and the ruling Conservative party was, to put it mildly, somewhat strained.
Data from UNHCR shows that only about one per cent of the world's displaced population resides in Canada. In fact, Canada has yet to meet its own targets for refugee acceptance when it comes to the current crisis, which originates primarily out of Syria and Iraq. Canadians, especially Muslim Canadians, interested in changing this status quo now have a lot more incentive to show up on October 19 to vote and do their part in the political process.
With almost all of our 2015 election commitments now in the public domain, the Liberal Party published on Saturday the fiscal plan that will guide the implementation of our platform over the next four years.
Thus far, election discourse has been dominated by exchanges on the economy and related issues such as jobs, growth, taxes, and the like, and where the term "middle class" has become metaphor and message of that discourse. Accordingly, the Munk Debates on foreign policy are a welcome addition to the political discourse, particularly as foreign policy itself is not characterized as a salient issue for electoral purposes.
Demand for peace operations has never been greater, and the UN has never been busier, with more than 128,000 civilian and uniformed personnel serving in 39 missions across four continents. Canada has been absent from peace operations for many years. We currently have a risible total of 28 military personnel and 88 police officers on UN missions. Once we were number one in this field; now we are number 68 -- right behind Paraguay. Canada, and all our international partners, must provide the UN with the expertise and capabilities it needs to respond to this unprecedented challenge.
The trend is clear: when voters are faced with a left-leaning party campaigning on centrist economic ideals, they will pick the real deal every time. Every. Single. Time. At its best, Mulcair's NDP can inspire. Bill C-51 is the best example, but its universal child-care policy and promise to abolish the senate also fall into this category. But there have been too many blunders. Mulcair's sudden love for balanced budgets not only affirms the faulty framework that inexplicably lauds Stephen Harper as a responsible steward of the economy, it cedes precious ground to Trudeau at the moment Canadians want an alternative to neoliberal pabulum.
Think about it: a mere century ago, the world was a very different place. Cars were scarce, television hadn't been invented yet, and an apple was just a tasty fruit. More importantly, women couldn't vote, own property, or even open a bank account in their own name.
A mass shooting fueled by misogyny is no doubt a national tragedy. So why does it seem like those who want to lead this country are just not that interested in it? To date, there have been no official statements from the leaders. A woman is killed by her partner every six days in this country, according to the Canadian Women's Foundation. That's about 60 women a year, certainly more than deaths by terrorism on Canadian soil -- a subject that has taken up much of the leaders' time and will likely be focus of Monday's debate on foreign policy. So how many women have to die before this issue warrants the political attention it deserves?
A year ago -- Sept. 26 to be exact -- Prime Minister Harper announced the conclusion of negotiations of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The flights alone cost $300,000.
The Donald Trump phenomena in the United States reminds me of our experience in Toronto, Canada, when a so-called everyman mayor who appealed to angry populism was elected. Ford's behaviour proved to be such a distraction that much of his agenda, such as it was, stalled at every step. Ford, like Trump, loved to attack people on their appearance, ethnicity and gender. Over time, personality-driven, badly behaved leaders will get to the point of alienating all but their most ardent allies.
In Canada, arts and culture are at a crossroads. They can either move forward or backward, depending on the choices we make. For them to move forward, it will be more than ever necessary for the federal government to play a leading role. The Liberals, under Justin Trudeau's leadership, are determined to make Canada, more than ever, a place where cultural expression is created and enjoyed whatever its roots, foreign or domestic.
In a strange way sovereignists share in the shame over Harper's Canada and want to react against it. As a result, they have decided to support the NDP instead of the Bloc, if the latest polls are any indication. And there's the rub, because that support seems completely illogical, and provides federalists with a potential political trap they will quickly spring against sovereignists.If the sovereignist vote for the NDP translates into a loss for Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Québécois, we'll end up with only federalist parties and MPs in Ottawa.
The federal leaders' debate on the economy focused on important issues but no one talked about a different vision for Canada's economy. A better economic vision would support the right of all Canadians to live in a healthy environment, with access to clean air and water and healthy food. It would respect planetary boundaries and provide the moral imperative to decrease growing income disparities. Businesses would be required to pay for environmental damage they inflict, capital would be more widely distributed and ideas, such as employee shareholder programs with ethically invested stocks, would be the norm.