The day after winning the election, Prime Minister Trudeau proclaimed to the world that 35 million Canadians were now "back" and the team behind him seemed to revel in that line. Such a bold claim within hours of an election win deserves some scrutiny to find out where Canada had been if we were now back.
Rachel Notley's challenge has been to reassure the fiercely skeptical Alberta business elites that were horrified to wake up last May to discover the NDP had risen to power. With the economy already hammered by plummeting oil prices, they feared that the New Democrats would inflict further damage through a climate change plan that would drive up costs and cripple the oil sands. But business leaders in the Alberta can read the financial press as well as the rest of us and now seem to be buying Rachel Notley's view that they better try to be part of the solution.
Like all westerners, I watched in horror at the terror that was unleashed across Paris. But my horror quickly turned to frustration when, immediately in the aftermath, western leaders took advantage of the situation to reinforce a false narrative, and to justify the very policies that have brought us to such a crisis. Our governments do not want us to understand that wittingly or unwittingly (the jury is still out on what role they have really played) they created the conditions for the rise of ISIS, and they did so through exactly the same disastrous policies that they now claim are the only way to destroy it.
I acknowledge that good, well-meaning people who genuinely care about Syrian refugees can have perfectly valid concerns about the security risk of bringing in tens of thousands of people from a war zone. It is as large an undertaking as it sounds. So, in light of Canadian political leaders playing on Canadians' concerns to spread fear and disinformation, I decided to research how Canada screens, accepts and settles Syrian refugees. It is my hope we can dispel fear and confusion with facts, reason and compassion.
Over the last 50 years, Bombardier has received $2.2 billion in federal government assistance -- of which Industry Canada advises only $543 million has been repaid. In short, if history is any guide, Bombardier is far more likely to be calling on taxpayers again shortly with its hands outstretched, than to actually mature into a bonafide competitive business.
With the defeat of the New Democratic Party last month, it's clear that the Canadian left must adjust their strategy. Part of this new strategy needs to support the development of progressive, grassroots immigrant power to counter the presence of more conservative and moderate elements within these communities.
The true test of the Trudeau team's openness will come when actual decisions are being made, when real people start to object, when the human beings running the place start making mistakes. The national press gallery may be charmed for now, grateful that the Harper years of cold war are over. It will not last. Parliament Hill reporters are top professionals who will be ready to pounce when things inevitably go off the rails. When that happens, will the smiling ministers of day one remain available to be interrogated, challenged, or even hectored?
As power and privilege concentrate at the highest offices in our country, little room is left for the unusual suspects. We need white privileged men to play an active role in changing the status quo. Prime Minister Trudeau has, to his credit, accomplished an elusive and noteworthy achievement by using his privilege to bridge the often insurmountable leap between merit and power. He made space for his colleagues who deserve to operate in that exclusive arena.
Justin Trudeau's rise to the office held by his father was neither inexorable nor inevitable. He could have fallen off the tightrope several times along the way, but benefited from a convergence of talent and luck, wise counsel and an ability to learn. It is often forgotten that he was not handed a seat and did not pick an easy one.
The situation for animals in Canada remains dire, with hundreds of millions of animals suffering and dying every year on farms, in laboratories, in entertainment and for their fur. Parliament has a tremendous opportunity to improve life for many of these animals, and Canadians are crying out for change. The election results offer many reasons for optimism. It's now time for advocates to roll up our sleeves, start working with the new Parliament, and help MPs pass meaningful legislation for animals.
When Justin Trudeau was elected in 2008 it was clear to everyone that he could never be destined for the backbenches. They sat Justin Trudeau directly behind me in the House and for almost three years I got a ringside view of his development. His rhetoric, at times bawdy, nevertheless carried intensity in the Parliamentary chamber. I was asked more frequently than I could count whether he was the real deal or just his father's son. My answer was always the same: both.
We've figured out a simple truth: we're in this together. Our neighbour's strength is our strength; the success of any one of us is the success of every one of us. But this is incredibly fragile. It must be protected always from the voices of intolerance, divisiveness, small-mindedness, and hatred. It's the right thing to do.
In this election we are raising issues that matter to young Canadians. Mental health is a big one. A report by Alberta's Institute of Health Economics states that just seven cents of every dollar spent on health care in Canada goes to mental health. That's despite the fact mental disorders account for 40 per cent of all illnesses Canadians face. Canadian governments must dramatically increase funding, investing in accessible community-based mental health care -- if Canada could reduce the annual rate of mental illnesses by 10 per cent, it would save our health care system four billion dollars a year.
Alberta is changing. What was once a stronghold now feels like the way we hold someone's hand when we're about to break up with them. In the ten years I've lived in Calgary, this city and this province has undoubtedly changed. So much so that sometimes it feels like I've moved to a whole other world. This is likely the first Federal election where Albertans, especially in the urban ridings, have a chance for their vote to actually matter. And I mean that literally.