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Archive for July, 2015

FEDERAL ELECTION 2015: 6 MORE QUESTIONS TO ASK CANDIDATES

Posted by strattof on July 31, 2015

  1. Would the leader of your party be a Prime Minister for peace?
  • Canada has been endlessly at war since 2003: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq ‒ Canada has been or is there making war.
  • Today Canada is directly involved in two international wars ‒ Iraq and Ukraine ‒ and indirectly in at least one other ‒ Palestine-Israel.
  • Canada has refused to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, a treaty aimed at restricting the global arms trade. The US has signed the treaty, as have 127 other countries.
  • Canada has jumped from the 15th to the 12th largest military exporter in the world.

‘War always marks the failure of peace; it is a defeat for humanity.’—Pope Francis

  1. Will your party eliminate the funding gap between First Nations schools and other schools?
  • First Nations elementary and high schools are funded by the federal government, while public schools receive their funding from the provinces.
  • Currently First Nations schools receive 33% – 50% less funding than public schools.
  • One consequence of this built-in inequality is schools that are in poor condition and present health concerns, including overcrowding, extreme mould, high carbon dioxide levels, sewage fumes, frozen pipes, and unheated portables.

“Most Canadians would not send their children to school on reserves.”—former Prime Minister Paul Martin

  1. Will your party establish a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women?
  • 1,181 Indigenous girls and women were murdered or went missing in Canada between 1980 and 2012.
  • Indigenous women make up only 4.3% of the Canadian population, yet they account for 16% of female homicides and 11.3% of missing women.
  • In Saskatchewan, Indigenous women make up only 6% of the population, yet account for 55% of female homicides. 

“Indigenous women are going missing and being murdered at a much higher rate than other women in Canada ‒ a rate so high it constitutes nothing less than a national human rights crisis.”—Amnesty International

  1. Does your party support the idea of a Guaranteed Basic Income?
  • 128,000 Saskatchewan residents live below the low income or poverty line. That’s 12% of the province’s population.
  • In Regina, 26,000 people, 9% of the city’s population, live below the poverty line.
  • 9,000 Regina children, 1 in 5, are in poverty.
  • Minimum wage jobs mean poverty. Since 2007, Regina food and rent costs rose by 45%, while the minimum wage increased by only 28%.

A Guaranteed Basic Income of $21,000 per year for each adult would ensure that no child or family is in poverty.

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”—Mahatma Gandhi 

  1. What will your party do to address gender inequality in Canada?
  • Women are more likely than men to be poor in Canada. 13% of Canadian women live in poverty.
  • Canadian women who work full time, year round, earn only 71 cents for every dollar earned by men.
  • 66% of minimum wage workers in Canada are women.
  • Canada ranks last among wealthy nations in public spending on early childhood education.
  • Women constitute 50.4% of Canada’s population, but hold only 25.2% of the seats in the House of Commons.
  • Canada’s national anthem excludes girls and women: “in all thy sons

“If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”—Chimamanda Adichie

6. Are you committed to a high quality, national system of early learning and childcare?

  • Canada has regulated childcare spaces for only 22.5% of children five and under.
  • Canada ranks last among wealthy nations in terms of access to early learning and childcare spaces.
  • Canada also ranks last in spending on early childhood development programs.
  • For every dollar invested in early childhood education, the state can realize up to $3 in return.

“Early childhood care and education are crucial for the development of individuals, the reduction of inequalities, the prevention of developmental disorders, and subsequent academic performance.” –UNESCO 

ANOTHER ELECTION RESOURCE

The United Church of Canada has developed a useful federal election kit. It provides much valuable information and covers a wide-range of topics: http://www.united-church.ca/files/getinvolved/takeaction/2015-election-kit.pdf

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PEACE IN UKRAINE

Posted by strattof on July 23, 2015

Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities in Ukraine, Canada has been beating the drums of war.

  • Canada sent 200 soldiers to Ukraine to train its military forces fighting pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
  • Canada provided the Ukrainian government with an aid package of $570 million.
  • Canada supplied 200 troops to NATO forces in eastern Europe.
  • Canada is sending 1,650 troops to Europe this fall to take part in NATO exercises.
  • Canada has imposed economic sanctions on Russian corpor-ations and cut off nearly all diplomatic ties with Moscow.
  • Canada signed a free trade deal with Ukraine last week.

M A K I N G W A R

WHAT STARTED THE CONFLICT?

According to most western leaders, the crisis in Ukraine was precipitated by Russian aggression in Crimea. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper put it: Russia is “aggressive, militaristic, and imperialistic.” He has even gone so far as to compare Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to Hitler.

In its war-making policy, the Harper government has the support of the Liberals and New Democrats. According to all three main parties, the crisis was precipitated by Russian aggression in Crimea and Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for it.

It is not quite that simple. Left out of this version of events is the role of NATO in initiating the crisis.

NATO PROVOCATION

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO began to court former Soviet republics to join the western military alliance.

  • In 1999, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic became NATO members.
  • In 2004, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania joined NATO.
  • NATO has also made overtures to Georgia and Ukraine.
  • Canada is currently campaigning for Ukrainian membership in NATO. 

The aim of these NATO actions is to intimidate and humiliate Russia.

LINGUISTIC PROVOCATION

  • The demonization of one side in a conflict ‒ in this case Russia ‒ and the idealization of the other side ‒ the west ‒ is a strategy of war.
  • Such a good-versus-evil scenario lays the groundwork for war by creating a culture of hate and fear.
  • When simplistic notions of good and evil drive policy decisions, war is inevitable.

There must be another way of human beings living together than dividing them into us and them, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable.Ursula Franklin, Canadian physicist, feminist, and pacifist

N A T O

NATO HISTORY

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is a military alliance that today consists of 28 member states. It was established in 1949 on the initiative of the United States to contain the Soviet Union and ensure worldwide military and economic domination by the US-led capitalist west. Canada was one of the original 12 member states.

The 1990s saw the collapse of the Soviet Union. The dissolution of NATO did not, however, follow. Instead NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept, reserving for itself the right to interfere in the internal affairs of any country.

Since 1999, NATO has waged war almost continuously: first in Yugoslavia, then in Afghanistan and Libya. Now NATO is gearing up for an offensive in eastern Europe over Ukraine.

NATO, A THREAT TO WORLD PEACE

  • NATO has armed forces in all six inhabited continents.
  • NATO has at its disposal two million troops.
  • NATO member states account for over 70% of world arms spending.
  • NATO insists on its right to employ nuclear weapons on a first strike basis.

M A K I N G P E A C E

5 things Canada can do for peace:

  1. Stop demonizing one side in a conflict.
  2. Start working for negotiated non-violent resolutions to conflicts.
  3. Get out of NATO. Get into working on UN-led peace initiatives.
  4. Work to curb the arms trade.
  5. Work to abolish nuclear weapons.

“We urge all parties involved in events in Ukraine to take a step away from violence and seek peaceful political resolution of differences. We call on the countries of NATO (including Canada) and the EU to reduce their stance of hostility to Russia. The continuation of the Cold War, with Russia substituted for the Soviet Union, is a dangerous policy which limits, rather than enhancing, global development.”National Executive Committee of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians

TAKE ACTION

In the run-up to the federal election, ask candidates in your electoral district the following questions:

  1. Do you think Canada should be forcefully intervening in Ukraine? Would your party support a non-violent negotiated resolution to the conflict?
  2. Where does your party stand on Canada’s membership in NATO? Would it support a move for Canada to get out of NATO and into working on UN-led peace initiatives?

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I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF…

Posted by strattof on July 16, 2015

This Saturday, July 18, is I Love Regina Day. First observed in 2002, I Love Regina Day is an occasion for celebrating our city and its achievements.

It is also a good time to think about the changes we need to bring about in our city to make life better for all Regina citizens.

I’D REGINA MORE IF 

A CITY-WIDE BAN WERE IMPOSED ON THE COSMETIC USE OF PESTICIDES.

Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides. But not Regina. Here it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides in parks and on lawns and gardens. The city itself uses 2,4-D and RoundUp.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, “Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing.” 

I’D REGINA MORE IF

REGINA TRANSIT WAS PROVIDED WITH ADEQUATE FUNDING. 

The past five years have seen a dramatic increase in transit ridership. Yet there has been no significant increase in Transit’s operating budget.

Our growing city is experiencing traffic congestion and parking problems. Transit is the answer. Transit is also part of the answer to a major global problem: climate change. One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road, reducing emissions by more than 15,000 tonnes a year. 

I’D REGINA MORE IF

OUR CITY HAD MORE BIKE LANES.

Currently we have two measly downtown bike lanes: on Smith and Lorne between College and Victoria.

Bike lanes help keep cyclists safe. Cycling helps the environment. It is also good for human health.

I’D REGINA MORE IF 

EVERY REGINA RESIDENT HAD A SAFE, SECURE, HABITABLE, AND AFFORDABLE HOME. 

The Good News: Regina’s rental vacancy rate has improved, rising from 2.5% to 4.8% in the last year.

The Bad News: Rents too have gone up, with rent for a two-bedroom apartment increasing 1.8% in the past year, to $1,095 per month.

The Result: ● Regina’s shelter system is full. Many Regina families have to choose between paying the rent and buying food.

What Regina City Council Can Do:

  • Develop a program to build 100 new units of affordable rental housing a year, with matching funding from the province.
  • Require developers to include truly affordable housing in their plans or to pay a fee into an affordable housing account. 

I’D REGINA MORE IF 

TRANSCANADA PIPELINES WERE NOT ABOUT TO SHIP TAR SANDS OIL THROUGH OUR CITY.  

TransCanada’s Energy East is the largest tar sands pipeline proposed yet. Over 4,000 km long, it would run from Alberta to New Brunswick, carrying 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil per day to the Atlantic Ocean, mainly for export.

Energy East cuts right through Regina, in Harbour Landing. It would put our city at risk of a tar sands oil spill. TransCanada does not have a good safety record. It would expand Canadian tar sands production, thus driving dangerous climate change.

The citizens of Regina should have a say in the Energy East pipeline project. Do we want tar sands oil piped through our city?

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE

Join the I’d Love Regina More campaign. Let Mayor Michael Fougere and your City Councillor know what they could do to make you love Regina more.

Mayor Michael Fougere         777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1: Barbara Young         539-4081 or byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2: Bob Hawkins           789-2888 or bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3: Shawn Fraser           551-5030 or sfraser@regina.ca

Ward 4: Bryon Burnett          737-3347 or bburnett@regina.ca

Ward 5: John Findura           536-4250 or jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6: Wade Murray           596-1035 or wmurray@regina.ca

Ward 7: Sharron Bryce          949-5025 or sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell       545-7300 or modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9: Terry Hincks            949-9690 or thincks@regina.ca

Ward 10:Jerry Flegel              537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

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FEDERAL ELECTION: 6 QUESTIONS TO ASK CANDIDATES

Posted by strattof on July 11, 2015

  1. Do you think Canada should be at war in Iraq and Syria?

Western military operations against ISIS will not have a good outcome if the first 13 years of the so-called “war on terror” are anything to go by:

  • Descent into chaos and violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya: Where is the promised freedom and democracy?
  • The emergence of ISIS in Iraq, a direct result of the 2003 US-led occupation of Iraq.
  • Endless war in the whole Middle East region.
  • Violence in western countries, including Canada ‒ which should not surprise us: To inflict violence on other countries is to invite retaliation. How many Muslim countries has Canada inflicted violence on recently? 

“War begets violence and hatred that only begets more violence and hatred.”—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

  1. How many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations does your party intend to implement?

Residential schools were “part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples.”—TRC report

The legacy of the schools remains, including:

  • The racism many Canadians harbour against Indigenous peoples.
  • On-going systemic racism, evident in ●33% – 50% less funding for First Nations schools ●22% less funding for First Nations child welfare services ●housing shortages and substandard over-crowded living conditions on First Nations ●139 Drinking Water Advisories in effect in 94 First Nations communities ●lack of respect for First Nations Treaty rights.

Without truth, justice, and healing, there can be no genuine reconciliation.”—TRC report 

  1. What will your party do to reduce the gap between rich and poor in Canada?

Since the 1980s, income inequality has been increasing in Canada, reversing the trend since the 1930s that saw increasing equality.

Today in Canada

  • The richest 1% earn 12.5% of total income, up from 7% in 1982
  • The highest paid 100 CEOs earn 195 times more than the average worker, up from a ratio of 105 to 1 in 1998.
  • 850,000 people use food banks every month.
  • 1 in 6 children live in poverty. 

Reducing Income Inequality: 4 Measures the Federal Government Can Take 

  1. Introduce a new top income tax rate of 35%, up from 29%, on those with incomes over $250,000: the richest 1%.
  2. Increase the corporate income tax rate from 15% to 22%, which is still well below the 29% it was 15 year ago.
  3. Invest in social housing.
  4. Introduce high quality universal early childhood education.
  1. What action will your party take on climate change?

Since climate change first became an issue in the 1990s, the Canadian government has repeatedly placed corporate profits and economic growth before the health of people and the planet. As a result, Canada has one of the worst records in the world when it comes to taking action on climate change, ranking 58 out of 61 on the 2014 Climate Change Performance Index.

To avoid catastrophic consequences for human, animal, and plant life, a global rise in average temperature of 2°C must be avoided. Average global temperature has already risen by .85° C.

What can our government do to help avert the worst consequences of climate change?

  • Implement strong carbon taxes.
  • Develop a national renewable energy plan. 

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”—Pope Francis 

  1. Where does your party stand on tar sands development?
  • Tar sands are the single biggest contributor to the growth of carbon emissions in Canada.
  • According to climate scientists, if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must leave at least 80% of tar sands oil in the ground.
  • The tar sands industry also displays complete disregard for the health and land rights of First Nations living downstream from the tar sands.
  • The federal government continues to subsidize the tar sands industry to the tune of $1.3 billion per year.

LEAVE TAR SANDS OIL IN THE GROUND!

Will your party commit to a major and designated investment in public transit?

  • Public transit cuts carbon emissions, making it part of the solution to climate change. One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 private passenger vehicles off the road, reducing emissions by more than 12,000 tonnes a year.
  • Public transit cuts air pollution which is responsible for 21,000 premature deaths annually in Canada.
  • Public transit cuts traffic congestion and hence increases productivity.

Public transit is a win-win-win proposition: a win for the environment, a win for human health, a win for the economy.

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