Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Housing/Homelessness.
Tags: aids funding, Canada, canada government, canadian municipalities, cathy crowe, health and homelesness, homelessness, housing, Jack Layton, national disaster, roger hollander, street nurse, street nursing, tdrc, toronto, toronto government, toronto homelessness
Jack Layton worked with us at TDRC for years. In fact he took our 1%
campaign to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities resulting in the Big City
Mayors’ Caucus endorsement that homelessness was a national disaster. This
fuelled a national movement which included a new federal program to tackle
homelessness, but unfortunately not housing.Jack was always giving away his 1% button and would ask me for a new one each time I saw him. This past week
Beric German and I ensured a 1% button was placed among the flowers both at his
constituency office and Nathan Phillips Square.The day after he died, thinking of him, I automatically reached for my blackberry and paused. But I did
send this final email to him. I want to share it with you. Cathy
Hi Jack, just doing what I would normally do in a time like this. Emailing you. You
always replied to me within minutes. You hooked me on a blackberry!
I know you won’t get this but I also know you will get this.
Thanks for always being there for me and for people who are homeless, for all the good
fights, many of which we won thanks to your help: Homelessness declared a
national disaster, many new shelters opened, new shelter standards, the Tent
City win for housing (and they love you to this day), the fight for AIDs
funding, the closing of the Commissioner St. incinerator. I could go on and on.
You made so clear in 1987, in your public inquiry into health and
homelessness, how I should direct my career in this bizarre but necessary
profession called street nursing.
One of the biggest honours in my life was to write the intro to your book on homelessness.
Years later you kept asking me to run for office. I thought you were crazy and then you and
Olivia convinced me.
You should feel confident and strong in your legacy
through myself and I believe millions of others who, inspired, challenged and
encouraged will carry on the fight. As you so eloquently put it “Love is better
than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us
be loving, hopeful and optimstic. And we’ll change the world.”
Yes we will. Love you,
Your friend, Cathy Crowe
Sent from my BlackBerry
device on the Rogers Wireless Network, August 29, 2011
who have not seen the documentary ‘Shelter from the Storm’ directed and produced
by Michael Connolly Jack is in it and it is very powerful. It originally aired
on CBC. It is now viewable on line at Hot Docs:
you like to order your personal copy of the DVD email me at
Posted by rogerhollander in Canada.
Tags: Canada, canada government, Jack Layton, NDP, new democrat, roger hollander, toronto, toronto government
My friend and colleague, Jack Layton, lost a battle with cancer at the young age of 61, only months after taking the New Democratic Party (NDP) into official opposition in the Canadian Parliament for the first time in history. His tragic death has been mourned across the country. The picture above is the huge patio in front of Toronto’s City Hall, known as Nathan Phillips Square. What you see is the square entirely filled with messages from those who knew and/or admired him. Jack was a professor of political science at Ryerson University before becoming a Toronto City and Metro Councillor; from there he went on to become the head of the Canadian Association of Municipalities and leader of the NDP. As opposed to the leaders of the other political parties, Jack stood out as a man of supreme honor and transparency; and for this he was admired and will be sorely missed.
Posted by rogerhollander in Canada.
Tags: Canada, canada conservative, Canada election, canada government, canada liberal, Canada NDP, canada policy, canada politics, Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff, NDP, new democratic party, roger hollander, siddiqui, Stephen Harper
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, right, gestures to Prime Minister Stephen Harper as New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton looks on during the English language federal election debate in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 12, 2011.
The list of Stephen Harper’s sins is long. Yet Michael Ignatieff has failed to convince enough Canadians to switch to the Liberals. This means either that Harper is not as bad as he is made out to be, or that he is but fewer and fewer Canadians are thinking of Ignatieff and/or his platform as a persuasive alternative.
The anti-Harper vote is coalescing around Jack Layton and the NDP. He has run a good campaign. His platform is no less credible than those of others. Indeed, its ideas on the environment, seniors’ pensions, social housing, immigrant integration and a federal infrastructure program, especially urban transit, are progressive and eminently doable. His budget projections are no more irresponsible than the Conservative promise of doing away with the deficit without any pain.
Ignatieff’s failure is all the more stunning given how vulnerable Harper has been on a range of issues, including his disdain for democracy and abuse of power.
We’ve had good debates on Harper’s Republican-style policies on the environment, corporate giveaways (that added to profits but not jobs), fighter jets of questionable value and unknown costs ($24 billion, as per a Pentagon report), and mega-jails when crime is, in fact, going down. Be afraid, very afraid, especially if you are a senior citizen — that’s been Harper’s message. It’s the Canadian equivalent of George W. Bush’s politics of fear, played with the astronomically expensive and ultimately failed war on terror.
But let’s also not forget that:
• Harper is the first prime minister in our history to have been found in contempt of Parliament, to have failed to get Canada elected to the UN Security Council, and to have been our most profligate PM ever (record $40 billion deficit and a record $519 billion debt).
• He has broken a string of promises. He flip-flopped on Afghanistan. He decried the appointed Senate but made a record number of appointments to it and had it overturn the will of the elected Commons. He deplored patronage but stuffed federal bodies with partisans. He passed the Federal Accountability Act, only to squash disclosure and transparency. He opposed taxing income tax trusts, only to tax them. He passed a law on fixed election dates, only to break it.
• He has been an autocratic leader given to compulsive control (meddling in every aspect of the administration, from cabinet to the civil service and independent agencies), excessive secrecy (to the point of rendering Canada’s excellent diplomats mute), vindictive rule (firing a dozen senior mandarins and cutting off funding to 25 groups for not toeing the line).
• He used the treasury for partisan purposes, funnelling funds into ridings and groups to help his party.
• He defended ministers who tampered with documents, attacked federal judges and meddled in independent agencies.
Yet Ignatieff failed to develop a coherent critique of this sordid record.
On foreign policy, there’s little to distinguish between him and Harper. Both have been in broad agreement on the most defining issues of our age — post-9/11 Canada-U.S. relations (including a possible harmonization of immigration and customs) and also Iraq, Afghanistan, indefinite detention and coercive interrogation, Israel and, lately, Libya.
On Arab Awakening, if Harper embarrassed Canadians — saying of Egypt’s transition from 30 years of autocracy toward democracy, that “they’re not going to put the toothpaste back in the tube” — Ignatieff had nothing profound to say, either. One would have thought that this former professor of human rights would have rushed to address this historic dawn of democracy in a region suffocated by authoritarian rule.
With Layton surging, the Conservatives and Liberals are lashing out.
But Layton is no doctrinaire socialist. No one who has served successfully on Toronto City Council — which, sans political party caucuses, works on pragmatic individual give and take — can be.
His appeal to Quebec nationalists constitutes no more pandering than Brian Mulroney’s in the 1980s, or even Harper’s in the past, including his 2004 plotting, in writing, with the Bloc Québécois to bring down the Paul Martin government.
Layton is the first NDP leader born in Quebec. He speaks their lingo. If he does as well there as polls suggest, he’d have made more inroads into separatist turf than Harper, Stéphane Dion or perhaps even Jean Chrétien. Not bad for a guy accused of being soft on separatists.
Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Canadan Coalition.
Tags: Canada, canada coalition, Canada Conservatives, canada constitution, canada government, canada parliament, canada tory, democracy, governor general, haroon siddiqui, Jack Layton, michaelle jean, prime minister, richard colvin, roger hollander, Stephane Dion, Stephen Harper
When Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien were in power, conservative commentators used to complain that both tended to be dictatorial, courtesy of our parliamentary system that made the prime minister too powerful, more so in some respects than the president of the United States.
Where are those pundits when we really need them? Stephen Harper is centralizing power in the PMO on an unprecedented scale; defying Parliament (by refusing to comply with a Commons vote demanding the files on Afghan prisoner abuse); derailing public inquiries (by a parliamentary committee and the Military Police Complaints Commission); muzzling/firing civil servants; demonizing critics; and dragging the military into the line of partisan political fire.
“When you add up all that this government has done, it’s truly scary,” says Gar Pardy, former head of the foreign ministry’s consular services. He’s the one who organized the petition that defended diplomat Richard Colvin from Tory mudslinging, and which has been signed by 133 retired ambassadors.
The extent of Harper’s misuse of power becomes clearer when you realize that the Conservatives are replicating some of the worst practices of the Republicans under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney:
Consolidating executive power; eviscerating the legislative branch; operating under extreme secrecy (by keeping an iron grip on information, through endless court challenges and censoring/redacting documents); riding the coattails of the military and questioning the patriotism of political opponents; and forcing out public servants who refused to fall in line.
Count the heads that have rolled in Ottawa:
Peter Tinsley, chair of the military police commission, who initiated the Afghan prison abuse probe – refused a second term.
Paul Kennedy, chair of the Complaints Commission for the RCMP, who criticized the use of Tasers – refused a second term.
Linda Keen, nuclear watchdog, who insisted on safety at Chalk River – fired.
Kevin Page, parliamentary budget watchdog, who rattled the Tories with several revelations – rendered ineffective with a cut of $1 million from his $2.8 million budget.
Marc Mayrand, chief electoral officer, who probed Tory election spending – publicly attacked.
Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who dared criticize both the U.S. and Israel – refused support for a second term and publicly rebuked.
Jean-Guy Fleury, chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board, who opposed the Tory politicization of appointments to the tribunal – frustrated into quitting.
Similarly, groups that won’t toe the Tory line are being penalized.
The Canadian Arab Federation lost funding after its chair attacked Ottawa’s pro-Israeli policies. Now the same fate has befallen KAIROS, a Christian aid group, for “taking a leadership role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign” against Israel, boasts Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the designated Tory bulldog in charge of attacking real or perceived enemies.
Ottawa is rife with rumour of another scandal in the making: Harper asking Governor General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament, yet again, this time during the Winter Olympics (ending Feb. 28) and perhaps also the Paralympics (ending March 21).
She should flat-out refuse and not repeat her mistake from a year ago, when she got rolled by him. At that fateful meeting, she should not have let Kevin Lynch, clerk of the Privy Council, into the room. Get-togethers between the governor general and the prime minister are privileged.
She also should not have shuttled between Harper and a team of constitutional advisers she had assembled. Instead, she should have taken his request under advisement and sent him off, and summoned Stéphane Dion and perhaps also Jack Layton to brief her on their coalition agreement.
That way, she would’ve had more choices:
Advise the Prime Minister to seek a vote of confidence. Or, if he felt he didn’t have it, to ask if someone else on his front benches might. Failing both, turn to the opposition to demonstrate that they could muster the confidence of the House, as claimed.
Jean failed in her duties by deciding the fate of the government behind closed doors, rather than in an open democratic process by the elected representatives of the people.
A governor general is not obliged to take the prime minister’s advice, only that which she deems appropriate to our parliamentary system. What Jean saw as appropriate last year wasn’t. Each passing day proves it.
Haroon Siddiqui writes Thursdays and Sundays. firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan, Women.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan canada, afghanistan family law, afghanistan occupation, afghanistan rape, Afghanistan War, campbell clark, canada foreign policy, canada government, canadian troops afghanistan, Jack Layton, Karzai, karzai administration, rape in marriage, roger hollander, shia, violence against women, women's rights
OTTAWA — It used to be a mission to give a future to little girls. Now the government is scrambling to explain why Canadian troops are fighting for an Afghanistan that legalizes rape within marriage.
The new Afghan law, apparently approved by President Hamid Karzai, led Western diplomats in Kabul to call an emergency meeting and hammer out a concerted response, pressuring the Karzai administration to back down.
Canadian officials insisted that Mr. Karzai still has some “wiggle room” before the law is implemented, and waited impatiently for the President’s first public comments on the law.
The Conservative government expressed outrage, and opposition politicians said Canadian soldiers did not fight and die for an Afghanistan that would pass such a law.
But the thorny question of whether Canada might withdraw support – cut some of its aid, for instance – left cabinet ministers at a loss.
“We haven’t had a chance yet to talk with the other ministers, so we haven’t made any decisions or had any discussions on next steps,” International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said. “It’s very problematic. It’s a great concern and it is going to be a difficulty for Canada.”
As the United States, Canada and allies moved to lower expectations about whether they will leave Afghanistan a democracy that respects human rights – and as they increasingly back reconciliation with elements of the Taliban insurgency – the outcry over the new law may foreshadow painful tradeoffs to come.
For the Conservative government, which has emphasized advances for women and the ability of girls to go to school in Afghanistan, the law presents an immediate political quandary. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said the government must make it clear to Mr. Karzai that the law is unacceptable, while the NDP said Afghanistan should not expect Canadian troops and aid if it passes such laws.
“How can the government say our soldiers have died to protect the rights of women when Hamid Karzai passes this law?” NDP Leader Jack Layton asked in the Commons.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in an interview with the CBC from the G20 summit in London, called the move “antithetical” to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
“The concept that women are full human beings with human rights is very, very central to the reason the international community is engaged in this country…” he said. “It’s a significant change we want to see from the bad, old days of the Taliban.”
Canadian government officials said yesterday they still aren’t certain if the law had been fully passed or signed by Mr. Karzai. But Alexandra Gilbert, a women’s-rights project co-ordinator for the Canadian agency Rights and Democracy, said from Kabul she understands through women MPs that the law has been passed and signed.
It is a new family-law code for Afghanistan’s Shia minority, and while it does not apply to all, women’s groups in Afghanistan fear the precedent, Ms. Gilbert said.
“Women don’t have access to public life. To education, to health care, they can’t leave the house without the approval of their husband … and [wives] cannot refuse sexual relations,” she said.
Many believe Mr. Karzai is backing the law to build support for the presidential election he faces in August. University of Toronto foreign-policy expert Janice Stein said she’s hoping it will win votes from Shiites and also resonates with Pashtun Afghan elders in the south.
She and other analysts believe that Western allies are still caught between competing visions of the Afghan mission, even though U.S. President Barack Obama has moved the goals from democratic nation-building to preventing the re-establishment of a staging ground for terrorists.
University of Ottawa professor Roland Paris said the new law is so egregious that Western nations had an easy choice to oppose it, but as they scale back emphasis on democracy and support reconciliation with Taliban elements, other hard choices will come.
Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Canadan Coalition, Economic Crisis.
Tags: bloc quebecois, bob hepburn, Canada, canada budget, canada coalition, conservatives, harper budget, Jack Layton, liberals, michael ingatieff, NDP, roger hollander, Stephane Dion, Stephen Harper
Bob Hepburn, Toronto Star, January 29, 2009
When Michael Ignatieff opted yesterday to support the Conservative government and its new budget, he was making what may be the most critical decision of his career as Liberal leader, regardless of how long he holds the job.
By siding with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ignatieff was rejecting calls to join the New Democrats and Bloc Québécois in defeating the budget, thus bringing down the Tory government and paving the way for an election or a coalition government.
Ignatieff based his decision to a good extent on internal Liberal politics. Basically, the party is broke, disorganized and still licking its wounds from last fall’s disastrous election under former leader Stéphane Dion.
But rather than propping up Harper’s government, Ignatieff should have seriously considered voting down the budget and forming a coalition with the NDP, as Dion proposed last December.
Despite the earlier tepid response, especially in Western Canada, to the coalition touted by Dion, there are many reasons why a Liberal-NDP coalition, with the unofficial backing of the Bloc Québécois, is still a good idea.
First, a coalition that guarantees two years of continuing government, as the Liberals and NDP did in their accord signed in December, would be a stabilizing element for the country during this financial crisis. Stable governments are essential for businesses and financial markets to start recovering.
Without a coalition, Canada will be under constant threat of another election. That vote likely would result in another minority government and more instability.
Second, coalitions are appropriate in a time of national crisis, such as Canada is experiencing.
In Canada, the only federal coalition was the Union government of World War I, which saw the Conservatives led by Robert Borden join with some Liberals and independents to deal with the controversial issue of conscription.
In other countries, similar coalitions have been formed during a national crisis, such as in Britain during the Great Depression when Labour and Conservatives joined forces to tackle the economy.
Third, a coalition of Liberals and the NDP could bring a combination of fiscal responsibility and an economic stimulus package that could better address the needs of Canada than the Harper budget.
Last December, the proposed coalition promised to pump much-needed money into infrastructure projects, such as housing, roads and public transit. It also vowed to improve social benefits and provide help to troubled industries.
The program was so good that Harper stole many of the ideas and put them into Tuesday’s budget.
Fourth, Harper has shown himself to be unqualified to deal with the economic mess. The best example of that was the mini-budget last November, which was devoid of any sense of the crisis the country was in, despite massive job layoffs, a weakening dollar and rising bankruptcies.
Also, top economists are criticizing Harper for pushing massive tax cuts. They argue it is folly to slash taxes while increasing government spending by record levels.
Fifth, and most important for Ignatieff, the Liberals will reinforce their image established under Dion as a party of wimps afraid to face Harper in an election.
By forming a coalition, Ignatieff would signal he is ready to govern.
By refusing, he ends up being outmanoeuvred politically by Harper, who in a year or two will claim credit for what will then be an improving Canadian economy.
That would be a powerful campaign theme that could ensure Harper wins the next election and bring an abrupt end to Ignatieff’s reign as Liberal leader.
Bob Hepburn’s column appears Thursdays. email@example.com
Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Canadan Coalition.
Tags: bloc, bloc quebecois, Bob Rae, Canada, canada government, coalition, coalition government, conservatives, Economic Crisis, gilles duceppe, governor general, house of commons, ignatieff, Jack Layton, leblanc, liberals, NDP, new democratic party, new democrats, non-confidence, parliament, roger hollander, Stephane Dion, Stephen Harper, toronto star
Toronto Star Editorial
Dec 02, 2008 04:30 AM
The Conservatives’ reaction was fast and furious to news that the opposition parties have signed off on a historic deal to kick them out of office and replace them with a coalition government.
His voice dripping with scorn, Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday accused Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion of playing “the biggest political game in Canadian history” and of relying on “socialists” (New Democrats) and “separatists” (Bloc Québécois) to vault himself into power. Harper’s ministers and MPs used language like “deal with the devil” and “secret cabal” to describe the arrangement.
The suggestion was that the coalition deal was illegitimate and undemocratic, a coup d’etat.
It is nothing of the sort. It is the way our parliamentary system works, especially in the immediate aftermath of the election of a minority Parliament. Furthermore, the Harper government created an opening for the opposition parties last week by tabling a provocative “economic statement” that failed to address the economic crisis but contained poison pills it must have known they could not swallow.
Harper and his government took some steps away from those toxic measures last weekend, but it was too late. The opposition had made up its collective mind that Harper could not be trusted.
With their demise perhaps less than a week away (a non-confidence vote is scheduled for next Monday evening), the Conservatives are arguing that a change of government at this moment would be “very destabilizing” for the economy. As if to underscore that point, the markets plunged yesterday (although most analysts attributed the bulk of the losses to bad economic news from the U.S.).
But consider the alternatives to a change in government: either there would be another election (which would leave the affairs of state suspended for the duration) or Harper would remain in office with the opposition ready to pounce and defeat his government at every opportunity. That is as unstable as it gets.
The coalition, meanwhile, has agreed to hold off elections until at least June 30, 2011 – 2 1/2 years from now. (The Bloc, which would not have a cabinet seat, has signed on until June 30, 2010.) That should provide the stability needed for the government to grapple with the economic challenges facing Canada.
And grapple they promise to do in their accord, which features an economic stimulus package that includes “substantial new investments” in infrastructure and housing, support for the forestry and auto sectors, and enhancements in Employment Insurance. All this should have been included in last week’s economic statement.
To be sure, there are questions to be answered about the coalition. Canadians will want to know whether there are any worrisome side deals with the Bloc. (Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said yesterday there is no agreement on “concrete” measures to enhance Quebec sovereignty.) And what about the coalition’s foreign policy, notably on Afghanistan, where the Liberals and New Democrats have differed sharply in the past?
Also problematic is the fact that, under the deal, Dion, the Liberals’ lame-duck leader, would serve as prime minister, at least until the new party leader is chosen next spring. In the Oct. 14 election, Canadians resoundingly rejected Dion, who finished a poor third behind both Harper and Layton as “best prime minister” in all the opinion polls. A wiser choice for interim prime minister might have been a Liberal stalwart like former finance minister Ralph Goodale.
It is also unclear whether the Liberal leadership candidates – Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc – would be given cabinet posts. Again, it would be wise to keep them out, as they are going to be busy campaigning for the next five months.
Issues like these could still derail the coalition before the crucial vote next Monday.
That being said, a coalition government of Liberals and New Democrats is preferable at this time to a Conservative regime led by Harper, who has demonstrated that ideology and partisanship are more important to him than providing good government.
Posted by rogerhollander in A: Roger's Original Essays, About Canada, Canadan Coalition.
Tags: bloc, Canada, coalition, conservatives, democracy, Economic Crisis, finance minister, flaherty, house of commons, Jack Layton, liberals, NDP, parliament, roger hollander, Stephane Dion, Stephen Harper
© Roger Hollander 2008
Let’s begin by looking at the numbers in the October election:
(Elections Canada: http://enr.elections.ca)
Conservatives: 5,205,334 37.6% 143 seats (46.4%)
Liberals: 3,629,990 26.2% 76 seats (24.7%)
NDP: 2,517,075 18.2% 37 seats (12.0%)
Bloc: 1,379,565 10.0% 50 seats (16.2%)
(Note: there are 2 Independents elected)
The first thing to note is that, taking into account the overall popular vote, the Conservatives and the Bloc are somewhat over-represented in Parliament and the NDP greatly under-represented.
But with respect to the question of “democracy” as it arises in connection with the proposed Liberal/NDP Coalition (the Bloc being something of a silent partner), what is noteworthy and unquestionable is the following:
The combined Liberal/NDP popular vote percentages are 44.4% versus the Conservatives 37.6%. When the Bloc vote is added to the Liberal and NDP vote, the comparison with the Conservatives is 54.4% versus 37.6%. With respect to seats in the House of Commons, the three Parties that are proposing the Coalition have a combined total of 163 (52.9%) versus the Conservatives 143 (46.4%).
STATISTICALY SPEAKING IT IS THE COALITON, NOT THE CONSERVATIVES THAT REPRESENTS A DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY.
Now let’s look beyond the statistics. Following the October election, the Conservative Party formed a legitimate minority government. However, it has operated as if it were a majority in failing to consult or take into account the policy positions of the other parties, who combined represent a majority of Canadian voters.
This Conservative minority government, however, appears now to have lost the confidence of the majority of the House of Commons as a result of a response to the economic crisis that not only is inadequate, but also an insult to Canadians. The measures proposed by Finance Minister James Flaherty included no initiatives to deal with the crisis, but instead lashed out at the Party’s ideological opponents by proposing measures that are anti-woman, anti-labor and anti-democratic.
It is altogether fitting that the majority of the members of the House of Commons should petition the Governor General to recognize said loss of confidence and recognize as the new government of Canada the proposed Coalition. The Coalition not only represents a majority of Canadian voters, but it has put together a concrete policy agenda that in fact does begin to meet the economic crisis from which the country now suffers.
While the Governor General also has the option of calling a new election, she should take into account that the country spoke loud and clear in October; and that it is only the vicissitude of the fragmentation of political parties in Canada that have allowed the Conservative Party to rule. Given that a new and coherent and unified majority has arisen, it makes much more sense to give that Coalition an opportunity to govern.