When women engage me in my community, in Ottawa or across the country, they talk to me about the economy, about health care, about child care, about housing, about the environment. Simply put, all issues are "women's issues." But as Status of Women critic, I also ask questions about challenges specifically facing women.
Just months ago, the Minister for Veterans Affairs stood in a Legion in London, Ontario and promised members that soldiers would no longer be cut loose. Clearly, that practice continues. I am calling upon the government to stop giving weak excuses and apologise to these Canadian heroes who have been dismissed because of the Conservative government's efforts to balance the budget.
The "Save VIA" Campaign began as a grassroots response to the VIA Rail cuts that the federal government announced in 2012; but with a huge amount of public support it has grown into a nationwide appeal to restore passenger rail service. Mr. Harper's government needs to listen to the Canadians who are clearly saying that we need to retain and improve Canada's rail services.
No one escapes the blame on this one. Conservatives can't even agree if suspending the three senators without due process is the correct way to go. We have Conservative senators and Conservative MPs speaking out against the pending motions -- something that is generally unheard of in this tightly controlled government.
Canada's small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of our economy. These vital businesses are facing a serious challenge, however: their costs are skyrocketing due to the excessive credit card processing fees. Canada's small business owners pay some of the highest credit card processing fees in the world.
After news that Harper intervened in Mike Duffy's expense scandal, I watched CBC's "The National" with Peter Mansbridge. Mansbridge was positively gleeful as he reported how Duffy had implicated Harper. Finally Mansbridge and the CBC had Harper, the bane of CBC's existence, on the proverbial ropes. But if you look at the facts objectively, rather than through a visceral anti-Harper prism, it becomes clear that Harper is blameless. I predict the prime minister will ride out this Ottawa-centric media blip. And emerge stronger and more politically powerful than ever.
Once again, Canada's Conservatives are bound and determined to roll right over, close their eyes and sleep through the alarm bells on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) most recent assessment is a reminder of the urgency of addressing global warming, and the dangers of ignoring rising sea levels and increasing temperatures. In contrast, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in response that the newest report released by the IPCC is a wake-up call, and "those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire." Our largest trading partner gets it. So where's Canada's government on this critical environmental and economic issue?
The detention of Dr. Tarek Loubani and John Greyson was at the forefront of all Canadians' concerns for the 50 days they spent behind bars at Cairo's Tora Prison. Dr. Tarek Loubani is an emergency room physician in my riding and John Greyson is an acclaimed film-maker and professor at York University. They are now home safe.
For 40 years or so, the economic forces of this global economy have reshaped, physically and socially, too, cities around the world and even delivered some, once mighty, into bankruptcy. Witness Detroit. Here in Toronto, vast expanses of our car-oriented post-war suburbs have become food, transit and social service deserts with scarce opportunity for employment,
I've been to a lot of doors this summer. At some point early in the conversation I ask, "Do you follow federal politics?", or some variation on that theme. Some say, "Yes." These are the brave souls who dare, the political junkies who can't help but watch, or the very hardened. Most say, "No." With little deviation, virtually all tell me that what time they're prepared to give over to politics is given to municipal politics.
Canadians continue to struggle with job security, stagnant wages and skyrocketing costs for essential goods. Household debt is at a record 166 per cent of disposable income; and with two-thirds of Canadians living paycheque-to-paycheque, family budgets are stretched to the breaking point. In a country as prosperous as ours it is unacceptable -- and entirely avoidable -- that so many hardworking Canadians find themselves living from hand to mouth. New Democrats recognize that the government can, and must, take action to alleviate this financial strain. Strong, consumer-focused policies like the NDP has proposed for many years are a good first step.
Like Bob Rae's accidental NDP government in Ontario that was also soundly rejected by Ontarians in 1995, the NDP in Nova Scotia became a government that was arrogant and incompetent. This was even truer when it came to justice and equality issues, particularly its treatment of children of African ancestry at a Dartmouth orphanage who have for years alleged sexual and physical abuse.
What do you do when your opponent has the potential to challenge you in some hard-won ridings, possibly putting your majority at risk? That's the question Prime Minister Harper and his advisers are grappling with. Like it or not, the emergence of Justin Trudeau and his staying power has changed the political dynamics in Ottawa.
The Liberals' strategy appears to focus on fanning the flames of controversy around past efforts to amend the constitution in order to bolster cynicism, in the hope Canadians will adopt the same defeatist attitude they have. This is a party paralyzed with fear of their own constitutional shadow.
When Parliament reconvenes on October 16, all eyes will be on Stephen Harper's "new" agenda as articulated in the Speech from the Throne. What role will international development play in this speech -- and will it matter? I believe that the most important decisions on the international development agenda continue to be made quietly and behind closed doors, with no public scrutiny.
For seven years now, Indigenous women, men and children have gathered on Parliament Hill to ask the Government of Canada to acknowledge and act upon the murders and disappearances of hundreds of their family members. Their vigil is a powerful symbol of the strength that is born in grief and loss.