Thanks to right-wing anti-Cuba propaganda, politicians on the left run for cover when asked for an opinion on Castro. The latest shameful example was furnished by interim NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. Is it any wonder that Justin Trudeau ate the NDP's lunch during the 2015 federal election, and continues to do so?
There are issues requiring tough decisions that a few selfies will not provide him with enough cover nor will they help him to change the channel to better issues or allow for better optics. His recent foot in mouth moment over his comments on Fidel Castro is just this past weekend's storm cloud. We also have other storm clouds developing on the horizon.
The reason why a candidate like Angus is so interesting is because the new conventional wisdom is that there is no conventional wisdom anymore. A self-described socialist almost won the nomination for president of the United States, and probably would have won if the party he ran under did not work tirelessly against him. So the prospect of a true left-leaning politician inspiring voters from various sub-political persuasions no longer seems so far fetched.
There are lessons for the New Democratic Party and the Canadian Labour Congress in the stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton. The NDP should grow a backbone and learn to more vigorously fight trade agreements such as the CETA and TPP because workers in this country are suffering just as much as their American counterparts.
This is a bit like commenting on a married couple who have severe marital problems, complete with shouting matches and physical abuse. While all their friends may agree that the marriage is in trouble and that the couple should get counselling, no true friend would allow the husband to repeatedly beat his wife as they wait for counselling. But Canadian political leaders seem perfectly willing to allow the "beating" to continue as they await the ever elusive negotiated solution ("counselling") between Israel and Palestine.
We're being left behind by other countries and economies while we chase an elusive ideal under some imaginary rainbow. It's time for our leaders to stand up and draw a line in the sand and stop enabling these fanatics, lest they achieve their ultimate goal of completely shutting down our economic engine.
Canadian-made military equipment initially sold to Saudi Arabia has been used in Yemen, where thousands of civilians -- many of them children -- have died. Canadian-made arms have also been used to violate the human rights of Saudi dissidents. Canada may even be at risk of complicity in Saudi violations of international law.
There is no doubt that fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance will mean confronting very powerful interests who will push back with a large arsenal of resources, from public relations to lawsuits. We, as parliamentarians, cannot be intimidated.
In regards to tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) should be part of the solution. At the moment, it rather seems to be part of the problem. Over the last few years, we have seen that the CRA institutionalized various practices, eroding the trust that Canadians place in it.
Last April, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed the "Panama Papers" scandal, a database of 11.5 million documents leake...
The issue of tax havens is inherently international in scope. As a result, the government can use tax agreements to fight tax avoidance schemes. Unfortunately, tax agreements haven't been used for that purpose. On the contrary, they have facilitated the outflow of Canadian money to offshore financial centres, and have done very little to break the damaging secrecy laws of these countries.
Liberal and Conservative members of the Finance Committee seem to have little appetite to pursue the matter any further and the committee will release its report this fall, and will move on to something else. As long as politicians will be timid and fearful of using their power, Canadians have little hope of seeing the issue of tax evasion or aggressive tax avoidance being addressed seriously by their politicians.
Nobody likes to pay taxes. However, the pill is easier to swallow when everyone pays their fair share. It's increasingly clear that in Canada -- and in most industrialized countries -- many are not. We have a two-tier system where the wealthy and the corporations can escape their obligations, and the rest of us can't.
I believe Canada must do more and become a global model. Canada should increase its acceptance of refugees, regardless of their home country. A refugee is a refugee, regardless of their origin. Settling a larger number of refugees each year is just one solution Canada could consider. Canada should also provide increased humanitarian assistance in crisis situations, and increase its development assistance in fragile states.
With two political leadership races underway, both of which at this point in time have put everyone to sleep, one can only hope that something happens to inject some life into them. We have had the first NDP leadership bid if you can call it that with the declared entry of Cheri DiNovo.
Luckily for the NDP, unlike the Democrats south of the border, they can scrap their party's name and orange motif without much blowback. And they should. The party's image is irreparable, tattered from years of negative election results and cemented in a state of mediocrity.