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Thank you for visiting my website. I hope this offers you useful information on the work I am doing as Wascana’s Member of Parliament and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Opposition in the House of Commons.
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Despite being promised endless federal largess if they voted Conservative and despite being threatened with equally endless abuse and neglect if they didn’t, voters in yesterday’s by-election in Labrador resoundingly rejected Stephen Harper and elected a new Liberal Member of Parliament.
A former member of the provincial legislature in St. John’s, Yvonne Jones captured nearly 50% of the popular vote, trouncing the impugned Conservative candidate, Peter Penashue.
Penashue took Labrador in the 2011 general election by the tiny margin of 79 votes. To prop him up, Mr. Harper gave him a Cabinet seat, but over the ensuing two years his track record as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs was essentially nil. He became best known for the illegal fundraising and spending practices that enshrouded his 2011 campaign.
This past March, after months of denials and excuses, Penashue suddenly resigned from both the House of Commons and Cabinet, admitting the “irregularities” that tainted his election. Before any investigation could be finished and the full truth disclosed, Mr. Harper declared his everlasting faith in Panashue, called a snap by-election and appointed him as the “new” Conservative candidate.
Labrador voters clearly saw through that attempted white-wash. They rejected all the bribes and threats. They voted strongly against illegal campaign conduct. And they voted for new hope for the future.
The Liberal Caucus in Ottawa has thus been enlarged. The House of Commons has gained an articulate new MP. And Justin Trudeau has earned his first by-election victory.
For Liberals, this is an opportunity to savour a sense of renewal and growth. But it’s also a time to read carefully what voters are saying with their ballots.
They want higher standards in political life. They want candidates they can trust. They want MPs who will stand-up for their ridings and speak truth to power – especially the all-consuming power in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The public’s trust is a precious thing. You can’t just expect it or demand it. You have to earn it, and always treat it with the greatest respect.
That’s exactly what Justin Trudeau is now working so hard to do – reaching far beyond the partisan games that dominate the political bubble around Ottawa, and rallying Canadians around a better vision of what this country has the capacity to become.
It’s all built on hope and trust.
They could invest in jobs for unemployed young Canadians (especially summer jobs for students). Or they could waste your tax dollars on expensive television advertising about their so-called “economic action plan” which is obviously a miserable failure as far as young people are concerned.
They chose the ads. Hundreds of them. Running day and night. Nauseatingly repetitive. Costing many millions of tax dollars for production and for air-time.
Not counting production costs, just one television ad during “Hockey Night in Canada” costs $95,000 for 30-seconds on-the-air. For that amount of money, the government could instead trigger more than 30 summer jobs for jobless students.
In other words, for each second — that’s right, every second — those brutal Harper ads are on the air, another unemployed young Canadian could have had a job, but is going without. And your tax dollars are paying for it. It’s a travesty.
And that’s not all. Imagine what it costs to run Mr. Harper’s ads during the SuperBowl and the Oscars and the Juno’s and the Stanley Cup Finals! Mega-bucks!
Conservatives say it’s no big deal. They tell jobless young Canadians to stop whining. Canada is doing better than the rest of the world, they claim, so we should all be happy. But look again. Canada is falling behind.
Under Stephen Harper, Canadian economic growth has been sub-standard for years. The only period in our history that’s been worse was the dismal era of R.B. Bennett. Many other countries — the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, and others — will exceed Canada’s mediocre growth expectations this year.
And for youth, the reality in most of Canada is still recession-like circumstances.
There are 231,000 fewer young Canadians working today than before the recession began in 2008. Their jobless rate is running at a stubborn 14.5%, twice the rate for other Canadians. That means more than 411,000 youth are out of work and actively looking for a job.
And that doesn’t include close to 180,000 others who have dropped out of the job market, because they don’t see much hope right now, not under this uncaring government.
The official statistics for youth unemployment are uniformly worsening in every indicator across the board. Yet Mr. Harper is content with just the handful of summer jobs that his aloof and isolated government has funded, while his costly ads continue to contaminate the hockey playoffs.
Floundering from one disappointing mess to another, Stephen Harper seems increasingly walled-off from reality. He seems to be in way over his head.
Among many other things, the A-G disclosed $29-billion in delinquent taxes, search-and-rescue deficiencies that put lives at risk, multi-million-dollar sloppiness in administering Employment Insurance payments, and more than $3-billion unaccounted for in security spending.
Also last week, neither the Defence Minister nor the Minister of Public Works could explain why this government appears to be paying 10 times more than other countries for just the design work on its new Arctic patrol ships.
The Conservatives also had to admit the mess they’ve made of the Temporary Foreign Workers program, aggravating employers, employees and especially the jobless and the under-trained.
And information began to emerge about the last four Conservative budgets imposing hidden tax increases, especially hitting middle-class Canadians, to the tune of billions-upon-billions of dollars.
All of this is on-top of a special audit report last year about the F-35 fighter-jet boondoggle, which involved massive costs close to $50-billion, non-competitive untendered contracting, duplicitous book-keeping, and a deeply troubled aircraft. The Parliamentary Budget Officer characterized the government’s management of that project as incompetent and deceitful.What’s surprising is that some people are surprised at these revelations.
Remember in Opposition, Mr. Harper and his colleagues were advocates of some pretty bad economic advice. They wanted to scrap the Canada Pension Plan. They favoured a more US-like banking system for Canada with less regulation and big bank mergers. They also wanted Ottawa to cut deeper into transfer payments to provinces.
Once in office, the Harper Conservatives immediately over-spent by three-times the rate of inflation. They eliminated Contingency Reserves and Prudence Factors from federal budgeting, exposing taxpayers to greater financial risks.
At the same time, they killed income trusts, thus vaporizing about $25-billion from the retirement savings of two-million middle-class Canadians. They also experimented with high-risk 40-year home mortgages which added substantially to the heavy debt-loads now burdening many Canadian households. Such dumb decisions have long-term consequences.
In barely two years, the Harper Conservatives squandered a decade of Liberal surpluses, putting Canada back into deficit again BEFORE, not because of, the recession which arrived in late 2008. And they haven’t balanced the books ever since.
Mr. Harper failed to anticipate that recession, just as he has failed to meet every one of his fiscal projections, while adding more than $150-billion to the federal debt.
It should be no surprise that there’s more trouble now accumulating.
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