KTC-NDP Elexn42, Volunteer Appreciation – Speech

Let me begin by saying Thanks to all of you, to those who have traveled to join us tonight and to those volunteers who were unable to make it tonight.

We all made this journey for a reason. It was an honour, a humbling and inspiring experience to be your candidate, but in my heart I know we came together because you believe in what this country can be.

You believe in hope, you believe that we can be one people, that we can do better. That’s the journey we’ve been on, and are on together.

Tonight we break bread together, share laughter and stories, friendships, and we’re going to have some fun too!

 

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The 2015 federal ballot was a very high stakes election. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives engaged in cynical politics, wedge politics, and made it the most mean-spirited and racist election campaign in memory. Voter turnout confirmed that Canadians wanted change. According to Ekos research, almost 1/3 of voters decided which party to support only in the final week – a third of them only on Election Day. Overwhelmingly, Trudeau’s Liberals emerged as the safest and traditional route to achieving Harper’s defeat.

Locally, we did so much right, yet we fell short of votes. We ran a strong and positive campaign, it was the envy of many a campaign, a “model campaign”. I received a call from Tom Mulcair commending us for our campaign and commitment to work for a better Canada.  I conveyed how inspired and honoured I was by the dedication and passion of hundreds of volunteers that worked on the campaign.

We demonstrated the most inclusive campaign and strength of diversity ever seen in this region. The campaign staff coordinated a campaign that was well-run: we knocked on at over 22,000 doors (5,872 on one day alone) through two seasons (in heat, wind and rain), had to order signs three times, phoned tens of thousands, fundraised impressively, cleaned and cooked to keep the office running, and we shared a passion for change that matters. We hosted a fantastic rally with Tom Mulcair that few of us will ever forget. We engaged so many people on a personal level, from the heart and soul. Its hard to imagine that we could have done anything more. We did get rid of Harper and I believe Tom Mulcair and the NDP did the heavy lifting nationally to make that happen.

We were well positioned to win in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo had it not been for the Trudeau “wave”. Our message of hope, optimism, generosity and caring does not fade away. I am touched by your commitment and wish deeply that we could have rewarded your very hard work, passion, and endless drive for victory into more votes. We will analyze the national and local campaign and build on your good work to further strengthen us for next time. I urge first time volunteers to join us and remain actively involved in working for a common vision of a fairer and better future. I saw the tremendous potential of new leaders and great campaigners emerging through the experience of this election.

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This campaign was the vehicle of your hopes, and your dreams…about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose.

We want to win that next battle – for better schools, and better jobs, and better health care…to confront a growing inequality, to address an overheating planet, for a democracy fed by justice and opportunity…of how we see ourselves as citizens, how minorities are treated, how we think of immigrants and refugees, how we look after each other, how we imagine ourselves as a people…a society structured so that people can make life better for one another.

The country feels liberated. The new government is committed to change. We must work with it to make things better – for change – and to hold it to account for its many promises and contradictions.

As we reflect on our journey, I am reminded of a quote I heard recently: ‘One day when the time comes, God will ask to see your wounds. If you don’t have any, he will ask you “was there nothing worth fighting for?”

There are those among us who bear many wounds. There will still be days of struggle and heartache. But, the rains will come and the winds will still blow. We have the gift of hope, to leave our children – all our children – and grandchildren – a better world. Even, if its difficult.  Especially, if its difficult. That’s our hope, for our country in the years ahead.

Thank you. It’s my honour to be with you tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bill Sundhu: Speech Accepting Federal NDP Nomination, KTC Riding

 

Bill Sundhu: Nomination Speech, Federal NDP Candidate:

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, August 9, 2014.

 

It is with humility and my deepest gratitude that I stand on the traditional territory of the (Te Secwepemc)) people and have the privilege of addressing you today.

It is an honour for me to stand here today. This day began with the nomination meeting in the Cariboo. It feels appropriate and right that we began there.

My father was the first South Asian to permanently settle in the central Cariboo. He was raised in small village in Punjab, his family was poor. My mother lost her entire family in the violence that engulfed the partition of India and Pakistan, at independence. My parents shared a love and a dream that life could be better.

They immigrated to Canada at a time when our country restricted immigration from India to 150 persons annually. But, they had a dream – that by hard work and perseverance, that Canada was a land for a better life – of peace, freedom and opportunity.

They worked in farms in the Fraser Valley, but when my mother was expectant with me, they knew they needed a more secure future. My father went in search of work, first in Clinton and then Williams Lake. He slept outside, alongside the PGE railway tracks for three days, before he got a job at a small lumber mill. My parents was so proud, when they could afford to buy a house, with running water and indoor plumbing.   Every second Saturday, we would go into town and he would proudly deposit his pay cheque at the bank. They believed in hard work and had a deep faith in the possibilities of this country.

They were uneducated and experienced the disadvantage of illiteracy. They imagined me and my younger sister going to good schools – even though they were not well-off, because they believed in a fair and generous Canada, that you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential.

And then, in one of those accidents were hear about too often, my father took a fall on some icy stairs. He was permanently incapacitated with serious brain injury. We did not have any disability plan or family income. My mother took up manual jobs as a dishwasher and cook to support the family. I was ten years old. Those were hard times. My father passed on after 10 years.

I stand here today, because my family was not crushed by the burden of medical bills, because of medicare. I had an education second to none – because of a good public education system. And, because post-secondary education was affordable and accessible, not because of the size of our bank account, but because I was prepared to work hard, because of a Canada where I could pursue my dreams.

In the summers between classes, I did not have the luxury to go work at a fellowship or institute, like some other law students – I piled boards in the lumber mill, and it paid well. You could get those jobs then; not anymore.  Back then and you could graduate without incurring crippling student debts.

After law school, I returned to practice in the Cariboo, making the law work for those in need and understanding that our cherished rights and freedoms depend on an informed public. It is here in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, working in the law over the past 30 years, that I am reminded of the essential decency of the Canadian people.

I stand before you today, having attended the best universities at home and abroad. I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage and knowing that the dreams of my parents live in my daughter and son. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the Canadian story – that I owe a debt to those before me.   It is the story of so many of us. It is etched into the soul of the Canada. There are few places on earth where my, our story is possible.

That is the greatness of Canada, that if you come from a poor family or working family, are an immigrant, that if you get sick or lose your job, you and your loved ones too can realize your dreams and contribute to your country, and keep the dream alive for those who come after us. Where each and everyone has a fair chance to get ahead, do their fair share and play by fair rules.

It is a story of the sacrifices and choices made by previous generations of Canadians to build a society based in fairness and equality of opportunity. Where our children are safe, fed, clothed, live in harmony, realize their full potential, and know that they can speak without fear, exercise freedom of conscience and vote freely.   Although, Harper did get some of the “Unfair” Elections Act through! As someone said, “That man is made of twisted steel, and no sex appeal”!

 

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In the post-war years, a short, Baptist minister, named Tommy Douglas, had emerged on the national scene as leader of the New Democratic Party. He had led North America’s first social democratic government, that had uplifted and transformed Saskatchewan. They campaigned on a platform that came to be the next chapter in Canadian history. Their proposals included universal health care, old-age pensions, employment insurance, a Bill of Rights, bilingual civil service, progressive income tax that favoured low-income earners, a central bank, and foreign aid.

Tommy Douglas and the NDP stood alone in opposing the War Measures Act and the suspension of the civil liberties, just as the CCF had stood alone in opposing the war-time internment of the Japanese-Canadians.   New Democrats have been at the forefront in the struggle for equality: for women, minorities, and First Nations.   Other political parties either come to it late, resist, or engage in tokenism. Justice is not convenient; it is indispensable.

Tommy Douglas believed “Canadians should control their own policies regarding resources, finance, foreign affairs, and trade if the nation was to define its own identity.”[1] The rest is history, the NDP policies migrated into mainstream consciousness.

Douglas and the NDP were on the cutting edge; they blended the practical with the principle.   “They changed how we came to see ourselves as citizens, how minorities are treated, how we think of immigrants, how we look after each other, how we imagine ourselves as a people. They believed, that society should be structured so that people could make life better for one another.”[2]   And, that’s why he was voted the greatest Canadian in history. I am able to stand here today because of leaders like Tommy Douglas and the New Democratic Party of Canada!

Much has been accomplished, much remains to be done, and much is at risk – in the struggle for a fairer and just society.

 

All of us know what the challenges are today:

–      Factories and sawmills closed, minimum wages, families struggling paycheck to paycheck despite working hard as they can;

–      lack of affordable child care;

–      Young people burdened with student debt and having a hard time getting their foot in the door to a steady and good paying job. We risk becoming the first generation in our country’s history where our children’s economic opportunities are worse today than we were growing up;

–      Canadians worry about aging parents in declining health and struggling to keep them in dignity; and about inadequate retirement and pensions;

–      Corporations have hoarded savings from tax cuts rather than reinvesting in the economy to create good jobs;

–      Lower union membership makes good jobs harder to find; it has weakened the middle class;

–      Turning workers against workers, the private sector against the public sector, distracts from the real abuses and misuse of power at the top;

–      After all these years, women still only make 77% of men – that has to change!

–      Minorities and First Nations are unrepresented and excluded from the benefits and opportunities to realize their full potential and contribute to their country;

–      We face a changing climate that threatens the planet and future generations;

–      A growing inequality;

–      And, an “all eggs in one basket” approach to resources and the economy that makes us vulnerable and jeopardizes the future economic well-being of Canada.   The most significant infrastructure program of the Harper Conservatives is the creation of a pipeline – that pipeline flows directly from the offices of the Calgary Oil Barons rights into the Prime Ministers Office!   They roll back environmental protection, attack and spy on those who disagree, they create a narrative of – jobs OR the environment.   They’re wrong. We saw that with the disaster at Mt. Polley – jobs and the environment, go together.

We have talked about the many challenges for years. There is not an absence of sound policies and sensible plans. What has stopped us is the failure of leadership.

The Conservatives are dismantling the Canada we have come to know and love.   They are motivated by the politics of resentment.   A political culture and ideology that borrows from the US Republican playbook, by the federal Conservatives, has brought cynicism and a meanness that diminishes parliament, and democratic governance – one that divides Canadians into “us and them”, of attack ads, and contempt of parliament.

They are eroding our democracy and rights – the checks and balances that are indispensable to a healthy and vibrant democracy – from disrespect of veterans to attacks on the judiciary, the manipulating the elections laws, omnibus bills and muzzling scientists.

They use the Canada Revenue Agency to harass Canadian charities and humanitarian agencies; instead of going after tax loopholes and the billions stashed in off shore tax havens. A Conservative MP accuses the Charter of Rights & Freedoms of “taking rights away from the majority to protect the minority” citing opposition to the Charter as one of the reasons that he became a Conservative.   Watch out, folks – for our hard fought freedoms and human rights.

They are ruthless and arrogant. They engage in an Orwellian assault on reason, of wedge politics, where anything goes. They are disempowering citizens.   It is about control. The lessons of history are clear – you don’t know what you’ve got til’ its gone.

The real needs and problems of Canadians are ignored or trivialized.

We stand at a crossroads.   We risk squandering the legacy – the sacrifices and choices of previous generations to build a country based on fairness and opportunity. With the right choices and leadership, we can be – the most prosperous country in the world, with good jobs and a fair economy, the first truly global and universal country, strong in diversity – showing the world a way forward out of old prejudices based on religion, ethnicity or colour – using our bountiful resources wisely and responsibly for future generations, helping to save the planet from overheating and the conflicts and suffering that will flow from a failure to deal with the reality of climate change, being a force for universal human rights, restoring our international reputation for fairness, balance, and peace in the world.

The alternative is unthinkable.   Inequality and the diminishment of the middle class, attack on unions and working people is a grave threat to the stability of our democracy.   Let’s be clear, we believe it is not enough that just some prosper.

We’re all connected…a child that can’t read or goes to bed hungry, it’s about me. A senior having to decide between food on the table or prescription meds, it’s about me.   The over-incarceration of aboriginal or poor persons, it’s about my human rights too. We choose to build child-care spaces, instead of wasting billions on prisons.

We care for each other; we are in this together. Our country and future is too important for those games. They are amassing big money, planning to divide us, with fear and scapegoating. That is not the Canadian way.   We have an answer for them: We are one people.   That is what the next election is about.   We will offer hope in the face of cynicism.

We are not naïve idealists. We can turn the crisis of global warming into an opportunity for innovation and job creation. It is a not just a moral imperative; it is good business.   Despite all the concessions and tax cuts for big business, where are the leading world-class Canadian companies?   Canadian workers and families have been asked to make sacrifices, tighten their belts and do with less. It’s time for Canadian business to show us the results and step forward – to meet the challenge of the times. Canadians are ready for a new kind of leadership; and a fair economy that serves all Canadians.

Let’s be clear. It is unacceptable and disgraceful that a country as rich as Canada has child poverty. There are children in our midst that go to bed or to school hungry. Charity is a virtue, but it is not a substitute for responsible government policy. Conservative Minister James Moore said, a neighbour’s hungry child was not his responsibility. Conservatives are waging a war on the poor and vulnerable.

Liberals and Conservative government’s have paid lip service and a quarter century has gone by since parliament promised to do something about child poverty.   It is time, now – not some vague time down the road – to eliminate hunger and child poverty.   We, New Democrats will put an end to child poverty – once and for all!

And, we will bring in universal child care so that children and families can get ahead, women can enter the workforce and earn more, help their families, and contribute to national wealth.

I wish to address Canada’s treatment and history of its First Nations peoples. We would not occupy this land and enjoy the opportunities we have had were it not for the generosity and assistance of the First Nations.   Canada will not be a truly complete country until there is reconciliation and justice for our First Nations.   I am proud to say that some of the most meaningful work in my life has been the honour to stand with and work with First Nations.  We Canadians must step forward and be just, for a better future together.

I am not running to hold a seat in parliament; I am running to serve and help transform our country – for justice and opportunity.

We are all in this together. In the words of the poets, “My humanity is in feeling we are all voices of the same poverty.”[3]

“Let the promises and hopes, the deeds and words of my country be true…

Let the lives and hearts of the sons and daughters of my country be one…”[4]

“Give us the strength never to disown the poor or bend our knees before insolent might.”[5]

That we are our brother and sisters keeper;

“That is our purpose here today, and that is why I am in this race.”[6]

Stephen Harper and the Conservatives do not respect history, how this country works. They do not respect cooperation and conciliation. Je suis fierte de Quebec et notre histoire ensemble. Sans Quebec, nous ne aurient pas notre pays (“na-tre payee”). Mon Canada compris Quebec! Ensemble, nous gagnerons notre vision et le gouvernment.

We will reach back into the “can do” spirit, the big dreams, the audacious ones that built this country; a national dream of the type that built the national railway. The spirit and beliefs that built a great country, one that punches above its weight and is a force for good in the world.

Oh yes, the naysayers will be there, the skeptics.   And, we will slay the negative politics and propaganda, of “can’t do”, the ones that always shoot down ideas, including the ones who say, “how are you going to pay for that.”  We will pay for it the same way we paid for the railway, for health care – and we will modernize and reform health care.

We will do it the same way we paid for a world-class public education system – the great leveler and bedrock of democracy and equality. Tommy Douglas, used to say, Dream No Little Dreams. And, that’s why I am running for parliament!

I have a great belief in the Canadian people, in their decency, fairness and hopes. We will go beyond the elites and take our campaign directly to the people. This campaign will be about us – what we can do together. Of our common hopes and dreams.

It will require your time, efforts, resources and advice – to move us forward. It is about reclaiming citizenship, faith in each other, and a unity of purpose!

We will stand up against the dimming of our common humanity, and shine the light on the hard issues, inspire others, and move the country forward.

We will be the gatekeepers of rights and justice.   That is what progressives have always stood for. We will be our brothers and sisters keepers.

As Canadians, we can make it happen. Together, we can make it right.

That is our vision.

Thank you. Let’s go win an election!

 

[1]Tommy Douglas, by Vincent Lam, Penguin Canada, 2013, p. 204.

[2]ibid, p. 212.

[3]Jorge Luis Borges, “Boast of Quietness”, form Selected Poems, Viking Penguin 1999.

[4]Rabindranath Tagore, My Country, The Heart of God, ed. by Herbert Vetter, Tuttle Publishing 1997, p.42

[5]ibid, Strike At The Root, p. 56.

[6]Barack Obama, “Change We Can Believe In”, Three Rivers Press, 2008. p. 201.

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Today’s ISIL: What is the legal definition of Terrorist?

What is the legal definition of a terrorist?  This is pertinent because of urgent international action being sought against groups like ISIL, that invoke “terror” and crimes against humanity and international norms.  International criminal acts are defined in treaties such as the Rome Treaty creating the International Criminal Court.  Nuremberg punished Nazi leaders for mass crimes – the use of terrorist is rhetorical and not sufficiently defined.

This post is reproduced from EJIL/Talk:

The United Nations Security Council urges states to combat “foreign terrorist fighters”, but does not define “terrorism”’ The aim of Resolution 2178 of the UN Security Council, which was passed unanimously on 24 September, is laudable in principle: to combat the growing jihadi “terror tourism”, coming from France, Germany, the UK and other Western states, in a comprehensive manner, not just through criminal and police laws. In its preamble, the eight-page Resolution explicitly recognises that international terrorism cannot be defeated through military and other repressive measures alone.

However, it does not define terrorism, its key object of reference, instead speaking vaguely of “terrorism in all forms and manifestations”. Its operative paragraphs (paras. 2 ff.) refer to “terrorists”, “terrorist groups”, “individuals” and “person[s]” travelling abroad to fulfil a terrorist “purpose”, making no distinction between them. This terrorist purpose supposedly consists of the perpetration or preparation of terrorist acts, or the participation in terrorist acts or terrorist training. UN member states must prosecute the persons in question. Furthermore, they must make any financing of such journeys and assistance in carrying them out, including the recruitment of “terrorist” fighters, subject to criminal sanctions and prosecution.

Finally, the listing of the persons in question – famously called a ‘civil death penalty’ by Dick Marty, the former chairman of the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Council of Europe – is also provided for (para. 7). But how is all of this to work under the rule of law if the phenomenon to be combatted is not defined? The Resolution remains silent on this issue, referring only to fighters belonging to ISIL, ANF and other groups deriving from Al-Qaida (para. 10), without, of course, presenting this as a definitive list.

One wonders why the Resolution did not adopt para. 3 of Security Council Resolution 1566. This paragraph defines terrorist acts as acts (1) committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, (2) with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act, which (3) constitute offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism. This is, in essence, the definition of international terrorism recognised by customary international law, which also forms the basis for a UN draft treaty of 2010 and is referred to in international jurisprudence, such as the famous jurisdictional decision (15 Feb. 2011) of the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, mainly authored by the late Antonio Casesse.

Unfortunately, Resolution 2178 ignores all of these definitions and thus ultimately leaves it up to each UN member state to apply the measures called for to those individuals defined as “terrorist” by that respective state itself. You may view the full text of the latest post at http://www.ejiltalk.org/our-terrorists-your-terrorists-the-united-nations-security-council-urges-states-to-combat-foreign-terrorist-fighters-but-does-not-define-terrorism.

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A New Deal For Young People

One of the key emerging issues is about the direction our country is headed in and what Canadian millenials and baby boomers had to say in a national poll.

Precarious Work, Low Benefits:

92% of boomers know at least one person with a workplace pension.

20% of millenials don’t know anyone with a workplace pension.

52%, Over half of millenials think their generation will work on contract – either mixed with permanent jobs, or contracts alone. Only 14% of their parents’ generation had a work life similar to the one their children expect for themselves.

Lowered Expectations

60% of millenials think the gap between the rich and poor will only grow during their lifetime.

49% of baby boomers think their children’s economic opportunities are worse today than when they were growing up.

An economy tilted towards corporations

Do people trust that corporations work hard to create good jobs? Nope. 85%

Baby boomers (85%) and millenials (79%) overwhelmingly agree that corporations put a higher priority on profits than they do in creating good Canadian jobs.

Corporations have hoarded savings from tax cuts rather than reinvesting in the economy to create good jobs. Millenials 48% agree. Boomers 60% agree.

Lower union membership makes good jobs harder to find

Harder: Millenials 59%, Boomers 55% Easier: Millenials 8%, Boomers 11%

It’s time for a new deal!

 

There is a lot of talk about high levels of youth unemployment and under-employment.  But talk is cheap, and governments and employers are still coming up short.

The federal government has shown scant interest or leadership. Despite a sharp rise in youth unemployment since the recession, the Conservatives have actually reduced spending on the Youth Employment Strategy (YES), $335.7 million in 2013-14, down from the $397.9 million it spent in 2010-11.

 

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND CORPORATE CANADA MUST STEP UP

Youth Job Guarantee – a promise for every person under age 25 of a quality job offer, apprenticeship, or place in a training course within 4 months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. The guarantee is inspired by a similar principle endorsed by the Council of the European Union in 2013.

To kick-start the Youth Job Guarantee, the Broadbent Institute is calling on Canadian businesses to invest $670 million per year to fund an initial youth employment initiative. These funds would be matched by an equal annual injection from the federal government (boosting what they currently spend on the Youth Employment Strategy to $1 billion). The large employer contribution would come in the form of job placements, while the federal government’s portion would support placements with small private sector employers as well as with public sector and not-for-profit organizations.

This modest investment, a combined total of $1.34 billion, could create 186,000 full-time co-op positions, paid internships or summer job placements that pay $15 per hour. The price tag for employers is but a tiny fraction of the $630 billion in “dead money” corporate Canada is currently sitting on. The federal contribution of $670 million would be only about a quarter of the $3 billion price tag of the Conservatives’ controversial income splitting proposal.

The contextThere are significantly more young people looking for work today than there are available jobs. As of May 2014, one in seven (13.3%) young people aged 15 to 24, or 380,600 young Canadians, are out of work. Many more are under-employed or have given up looking for work altogether.

Young workers bore much of the brunt of the 2008-09 recession, and despite talk of recovery, their employment situation today remains much worse than it was beforehand.

The unemployment rate for youth is typically about double that of so-called “core age” workers aged 25 to 54. In Canada, this ratio jumped to a much higher level of 2.4 in the post-recession recovery, and stood at 2.3 as of May

The ImpactAn initial Youth Job Guarantee initiative could have a significant impact on youth unemployment and help address some of the key challenges hampering young Canadians in the labour market. The initiative would target specific groups of youth at risk of long-term unemployment and students leaving the post-secondary educational system. At $15 per hour, a 12-week full-time paid co-op position, paid internship or summer job placement would cost employers $7,200 in terms of wages, assuming a 40 hour work week. Thus, an additional $1.34 billion per year would fund 186,000 such placements. This is more than double the current number of paid co-op placements, and three times the current number of Youth Employment Strategy participants.

Offered on an annual basis (four rounds of positions lasting for three months), the number of unemployed youth in any given month would fall by 46,500 or by about one in eight (12.2%) — enough to reduce the current youth unemployment rate from 13.3% to 11.7%. Importantly, in the long term it could also be scaled up into a more far-reaching program.

This is one of the most important issues we face – a responsibility to our young people and future generations.  With an aging demographic, our country’s future depends on it!

I am confident – together – we can create a new deal for our young people and our country.  I look forward to working for a New Deal For Young People.

Download the full report on the Broadbent Institute’s Youth Job Guarantee at www.broadbentinstitute.ca.

 

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Canada’s Tarnished International Reputation

MP Cathy McLeod was on CBC Kamloops this morning (Sept. 2, 2014) promoting a “Roundtable” meeting today, on the federal Conservatives program on “Maternal Health”, at the Kamloops offices of the Canadian Red Cross.

Canada’s commitment to address the issue of maternal health is laudable.   Certainly, the need is pressing. The world has cut maternal, infant and child mortality in half in the past 25 years, a huge advance. Yet much of that came before the Muskoka Initiative (2010). Today, some 6.6 million children under age five, half of them newborns, still die every year from preventable or treatable causes. At present, the UN is falling short of its goal to cut maternal deaths by three-quarters by next year, and those of children under five by two-thirds.

But, despite the federal Conservatives commitment, the Initiative lacks transparency, as a recent critique in the Lancet reported. An accounting of how and where the funds are being invested, the respected journal reported, is all but impossible to get.

Canada has also avoided or sent confusing messages on the critical issue of contraception and abortion, which experts say is part of the full range of maternal health. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 120 million women around the world want access to family planning. But contraception is not properly on the table with this government. Fewer women and girls will be saved if a full range of sexual and reproductive health services are not provided to those most in need.

Unsafe abortion kills tens of thousands of women a year, but many more are maimed and affected for the rest of their lives.   We need to offer a full range of maternal health services like other partner countries do.

The Conservative government’s record on foreign aid is flawed. On their watch, Canada’s aid program, currently $5.6 billion, has declined by more than $800 million in real terms, slipping to a meager 0.27 percent of our GDP. That’s well below the donor country average and target of 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have unleashed the Canada Revenue Agency to audit, some would say harass, organizations such as Oxfam because they do not always agree with the government.  This impedes the ability of humanitarian and human rights agencies to advocate on issues such as poverty prevention and to help those in need around the globe.

More broadly, Canada’s International Reputation has been tarnished, by the federal Conservatives.   Canada has been recipient of the International “Fossil of the Year” several years running. We failed to win a seat on the UN Security Council.  Multilateralism and our hard-earned reputation as a balanced, credible voice and power-broker has suffered hugely. Bellicose rhetoric is not a responsible form of foreign policy for a middle power like Canada.

On Gaza, it is hard to comprehend why the Conservative government ignored an appeal to bring injured and maimed children from Gaza to Canada for medical treatment.   In a letter to the PM, the Leader of the Official Opposition, Thomas Mulcair, wrote:

I am confident that any action by your government to help enable the humanitarian initiative will receive support among all federal political parties Many Canadians are asking themselves what can we do to help…to achieve peace, we must refuse to hate. Only in that spirit can we hope to bring people together to forge a just, secure and lasting peace.”

More urgently, children of Gaza are desperately in need of help, they are innocent victims, of a long-standing conflict.

Canada was once a highly respected and credible voice in international affairs. It is increasingly marginalized and not taken seriously.   That has to change if we are to be a truly global and serious player.

 

Bill Sundhu, Federal Candidate (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo), The New Democratic Party of Canada.

 
 

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SAS v France: Le Droit a manifester religion, Est-ce que l’existe en France?

Cette semaine, La Cour Europeenne des Droits Humaines (ECtDH) en SAS v France a decide que la Loi 2010-1192 interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l’espace publique ne viole pas la Convention Europeenne des Droits Humaines. Le jugement continue les developpements et changements de la jurisprudence historique avoir besoin de plus consideration. En particulier, la conclusion que le droit de pratiquer une religion pourrait restreindre ou limiter la justification de “vivre ensemble” est le developpement s’inquieter si ce droit d’avoir signification.

Le loi etait la reaction du gouvernment Francais sur la “laicite”, le principe de societe seculaire. La Loi etait d’interdit la dissimulation du visage en public. Le jugement est different des decisions precedentes de la Cour Europeenne au sujet du droit des femmes Islamiques de pratiquer leur religion en portent son vetements religieu parce que cette loi en France imposer totallement et entier prohibition de s’entendre aussi a la sphere sociale.

En general le jugement est equilibre, raisonnable et pourvoit au besoin des considerations du gouvernement Francais que les justification pour interdit les droit des femmes Islamiques a pratiquer leur religion etait raisonnable pour la surete et laprotection publique et respecte pour les valeur de societe c’ etait l’ouvre et democratique.   Ce principe compris respecte pour le minimum assortiment necessites a vivre en societe ou vivre ensemble.

Les juges ont decide qu’ils n’acceptent pas que l’interdiction de la“burqa” ou du “hijab” etait fondee sur les objectives de protection des droits et libertes des autres. Specifiquement, dans le context d’ egalite de genre ou de sexe, la Cour a dit, que ce n’est pas possible d’interdire une practique defendue par les femmes, compris le applicant. C’est la meme chose les valeurs de la dignite humaine. Alors, le jugement n’ acceptait pas que les droits egalite des femmes ou dignite humaine etaient violes. Cette raison etait differente des decisions de la Cour historique avec la Turquie et Suisse que cette practique etait etablir dans Coran et etaient en conflit avec le droit d’egalite des femmes.

Mais, le jugement de Cour en SAS v France, a accepte que la practique de porter la “burqa” ou le “niqab” juger n’est pas compatible avec societe Francaise, avec les idees de communication sociale et la necessite de vivre ensemble. Donc, l’ interdiction de la “burqa” etait proportionnel aspirer et l’objectif de la France. Ils ont trouve que le droit n’etait pas viole et ils donnaient le “marge d’appreciation” a France.

C’est difficile de reconcilier la raison, en particilier que la practique religieuse ou d’un religion, que c’etait negatif ou une denonciation.   Le jugement crees le risqué le majorite voudraient dicter que les minorite assimilee pour “vivre ensemble” contre les aspirations de pluralism, tolerance et a la esprit large.

Est-ce que possible de passer le jugement de signification de porter echarpe sur la tete ou imposer leurs opinion sur le applicant?   La Loi interdite du porter les vetements religieuxe comme la “burqa” ou le “hijab” dans la sphere sociale et peut-etre quelques des contextes et facons de vivre sont prives. Ou est les droits des femmes Islamique pour manifester leur religion?

Est-ce que le jugement a risqué assimilation contre diversite et ouverture de societe democratiques? Donc, est-ce que le droit de religion existe, du tout?   Le droit de religion peut-etre etait erode? Ce sont les problemes pour la loi dans le futur. Ces questions sont difficile et ne sont pas finies.

 

 

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Le Grand Marches d’Aix-en-Provence

La ville d’Aix-en-Provence a un Grand Marche tres interessant colore et bien organise. Le Grand Marche est situe sur trois places, qui sont uniques et belles. Le Cours Mirabeau est la grande allee d’Aix-en-Provence avec de belles fontaines, les batiments ont belles et anciennes belles architectures, et les stands a vendre beaucoup des differnets choses d’Provence; vetements, bijouterie, d’arts, chausssures, les sacs de cuir, les t-shirts, etc.   C’est un tres jolie marche dans un cadre tres agreeable. Mais, mon impression c’est n’est pas tres unique.

Le deuxieme position un Grande Marche est des plantes vert. Je choissais l’ecrit de la troiseme position, le Marche situe en Place Hotel de la Ville.   Il est tres beau lieu. Le Hotel de Ville est dominee le place et le jolie fontaine lieu en central.   Les cinq phrases de la Republique sont ecrivont sur les mur de la Hotel de Ville: liberte, egalite, fraternite, probite et generosite.   La sculpture de la region etait represente par l’homme qui represente le fleuve, Le Rhone, et la femme, la riviere La Durence.

Les stands sont toute uniquement le marche alimentaire; des legumes, fruits, fruits de mer, fromage, et epices.   Ce Marche est mon favori.   Tous sont des produits de Provence.   Ils sont tres frais, arromatiques et le presentation est attractive.   Les coleurs sont brillantes, vivantes comme les peintures des Impressionistes. C’est surement un lieu qui les a inspire.

Les marchands sont tous locaux et independants.   Ils representent la philosophie et l’effort d’avancer et de favoriser la production locale. De plus, c’est aussi un sujet economique, social ou responsibilite environmentale est de plus en plus importante pour toute le monde.

 

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France 2014

J’ecris ce Blog en Francais. Il reflete mon sentiment et je pense que pendant mes etudes de la langue Francaise que je prends a l’ Institut des Etudes Americaines a Aix-en- Provence.

 

Pour moi, je suis venu sept fois en France. C’est un pays special pour moi. Je sens quelques fois que je suis ne en France dans une autre vie. J’aime la France depuis ma premiere visite en 1983 quand j’ai voyage avec mon sac a dos (“backpacking”) après mes etudes de droit. J’ai toujours ete attire par la France et cette fois mon fils est avec moi et nous etudions ensemble. C’est une autre raison pour que ma visite soit speciale.

 

J’aime beaucoup la culture, l’histoire, la facon de vivre des Francais. J’ai une bonne experience. Un autre raison c’est aussi que la langue Francais est la langue officiel de mon pays. Mais, quelque fois, je pense que pour les citoyens du Canada n’a apprecient pas l’aspect de notre histoire et n’essayez pas d’ apprendre suffisament le Francais. Oui, c’est parce ce que nous avons occupe le Canada avec les Americains et nous avons beaucoup des pressions pour preserver notre culture et notre independance. Les influences des Etats Unis est tres fort. Mais, je suis tres fiert que mon pays ait deux langues officielles, pour notre histoire uniquement, et mon Canada y compris le Quebec aient une culture Francais. C’est une motivation pour moi de ameliore mon Francais en plus et confortablement.

 

Cette fois, nous sommes arrives a Nice.   Comme toujours la ville de Nice est tres jolie.   La mer est azure, brilliante et les couleurs vivantes. Il y a beaucoup de touristes et en particulier les retraites – ils ont le temps et l’argent – c’est la realite demographique dans l’Ouest du monde. Mais, je suis interesse d’observer la jeunesse, ses attitudes, sa mode, et sa musique.   Aussi, j’observe que les gensse promenent dans la ville, pour faire du shopping, diner avec des amis ou leurs familles. Je pense que plus les enfants sont avec leurs famille et plus tard dans la soiree. Peut-etre, il reflechissent plus librement et ont une attitude plus agreeable.. C’est mieux, car je pense de notre attitude de culture Anglaise n’est pas bonne pour nos enfants. Toutes les autres cultures comprennent les enfants et avec leur famille des occasions de diner et de faire des fetes. Je prefere cette facon de vivre. C’est mieux et agreeable.

 

Nous sommes restes deux jours en Nice, puis nous sommes alles a Aix-en-Provence au Centre des Etudes Americaines. Notre voyage par train etait en retard cause greve! Quand nous sommes arrives, c’etait different a la Gare d’Aix et après quelques confusions mon hote de famille nous a retrouves a la Gare. Depuis mon arrivee, je n’ai pas de surpris. Le Francais a de bonnes manieres , il est sympathique.

 

J’aime marcher 25 minutes le matin pour aller a l’institut. C’est l’opportunite pour moi de faire des observations et reflechir a nos experiences. Je trouve que les vitrines des magasins et boutiques sont belles et les plus belles du monde. Et les jours prochains, je voudrais observer les gens et leur facons de vivre.

 

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The Komagata Maru & The Lessons of History

100 YEARS AGO, the 376 passengers of the Komagata Maru were refused entry into British Columbia by Canadian authorities.  They experienced racism and hostility, hardship and deprivation: they were unable to land, lacked food and water, denied medical care, unable to communicate with their family, and denied access to lawyers.

The passengers were legally entitled to land as British subjects, but Canada had a policy of “White Canada Forever.”  A naval ship was sent to forcibly escort the passengers out of Vancouver harbour to the cheering of mobs that had gathered on the shore.

Now, 100 years later, the story of the Komagatu Maru is being honoured and remembered as a historical event that occurred at a time when “Our country looked very different”.

What is the lesson of history that we should take from that sad episode?

First: There are many today for whom changes are not evident.  The federal Conservative government has made sweeping and controversial changes to the immigration, asylum and refugee system, and the rules for Canadian Citizenship.   Many of these changes are a step backward.   They are discriminatory and amount to modern exclusion (the Komagata Maru was about exclusion).

Second: Too many politicians make nice speeches at memorials and anniversaries such as the centenary of the Komagata Maru or apology for the Chinese head tax or exclusion laws.   These same politicians do not pay enough attention to modern discrimination and exclusion.

The past repeats itself. 

Canada’s acceptance of refugee claims has dropped significantly due to exclusionary barriers.

The civil war in Syria, now into it’s 4th year has produced millions of refugees.  Canada has agreed to accept only 1300 Syrians and has not admitted that number.

In August 2010, 492 Tamil refugee claimants made a three month journey from Sri Lanka to British Columbia.  The claimants – including 49 children and their mothers – were forced into detention centres amidst a national hysteria over “illegals”, “queue jumpers”, and “potential terrorists.”  Many remain jailed, many have been deported.

The Conservative government has made sweeping changes to the immigration and refugee system.

–       Strict laws make It harder to get citizenship and easier to lose it

–       A new refugee system that restricts legal avenues for refugees and mandatory jail for “irregularly arriving” refugees, including children        as young as 16 years

–       A moratorium and quota on sponsorships of parents and grandparents, and reduced quotas for spouses

–       Conditional residency for spousal sponsorships

–       Minimum income to sponsor family members increased by 30%

–       Increase in the number of temporary foreign migrant workers, who are vulnerable to abuse

–       Refugee claimants have had their health benefits, like emergency treatment for life threatening ailments, cut

 

At a time of reflection to remember yesterday’s injustices, it is vital to stand against those happening today.

Many Canadians have their own family story of escape from persecution and refuge on these shores.   It is a story that is integral to our country’s history and identity.

The Conservatives also amended the law to close the door on most refugees by invoking a “safe third country” rule.   This is eerily echos the “continuous voyage” requirement used to bar the passengers of the Komagata Maru, 100 years earlier.   

Ironically, while regressively restricting immigration and asylum laws, and appeal and judicial review procedures; the federal government negligently permitted the temporary foreign workers program to be terribly abused.   Canada needs immigrants, and immigrants acquire rights and responsibilities, they pay taxes and become Canadians.   Temporary foreign workers are abused, suppress wages and employers do not hire or pay better wages to Canadian workers.   

Immigration may not be at the top of concerns for many Canadians.   The priority for many is jobs and making ends meet.  However, immigration and a fair tradition of asylum is integral to growing our economy and a humanitarian obligation.

“If we do not learn from the mistakes of history, we are doomed to repeat them.”  Santayana.

 

 

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Why Human Rights Matter to Today’s Politics

                                           “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom;
                                           and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more,
                                           it will lose that too.” W. Somerset Maugham

I recently participated in the Broadbent Institute’s inaugural Progress Summit in Ottawa. On the long flight back home, I began to scribble notes on the back of a newspaper – about the state of modern politics – the discontent of Canadians, the prevailing political discourse, and the relevance of human rights to the politics of today and to our freedoms.

Canada continues to be at or near the top of the rankings of UN Human Development Reports, and yet Canadians seem more discontent than ever. They know that the process of dismantling their economic and social rights is underway and unabated. The big market economy and capital roams freely through out the planet and with little or no regulation. The excesses of Wall Street that brought the world economy to near collapse in 2008 have been met with little consequence, few prosecutions, gaping holes in the regulatory regime and massive profiteering by the bankers and CEO’s – income inequality is increasing. How did we get here?

The drive for economic and social rights emerged from the massive deprivations of the 1930’s and the mass violence and deaths of millions in WWII. World leaders understood that humanity required a moral and legal foundation of a whole group of universal rights – indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated – as a common standard of achievement for all peoples. These rights were indispensable for peace, justice and stability. President Roosevelt had called for the US to adopt an Economic Bill of Rights:

                                             “true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and
                                             independence.  Necessitous men are not free men.  People who are hungry
                                             and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made”

Roosevelt’s speech reflected the broad spectrum of political thought from politicians across the globe, including conservatives, liberals, and social democrats. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights led to treaties enshrining core political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. The economic and social rights were not merely lofty ideals and add-ons, but a practical response and hard-headed doctrine to strengthen and enable civil and political rights. Canadian politicians joined other democracies to create the modern welfare state as one way of incorporating all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. This decision shaped the lives and formed the social and political identity of modern Canada for decades to follow – the one my generation grew up in.

At the heart of this vision is the belief that access to health, work, education, housing and democratic participation is an obligation of modern states for every person. Up until the late 1970’s states tried to provide this – leaders believed and set about to deliver the social necessities that were essential to political and civil rights. Ordinary families, working people, immigrants, women and minorities made many advances. Governments undertook their responsibilities to provide basic social rights of health, education, retirement, worker’s rights, and to advance equality and tolerance. Those were prosperous times and more shared in that prosperity. The movement toward more equal societies led to better societies.

So, what happened? We should not be surprised at the level of discontent that Canadians feel today. They are understandably concerned about the future. There has been and continues to be a systematic destruction of the social and economic rights that had become the norm in the early decades of the post war era.

Thatcher, Reagan, the Chicago School of Economics emerged. Big money entered to influence the political discourse and process. The so-called middle way was replaced. Thatcher declared there was “no society”, only individuals. Governments began to cut programs and spending. Taxes were cut. Bill Clinton cut welfare programs that Roosevelt had advocated and he deregulated the financial industry. Conservatives rolled back equity programs designed to assist the disadvantaged. The market was elevated to mythical status and governments stepped out of the way. Tax cuts were given an almost religious status of virtue, conversely taxes demonized. Tax revenues fell more heavily toward individual taxes and less on corporate taxes.

Millions of children and families live in poverty amidst tremendous affluence. Inequality increased and continues to grow. Workers have been squeezed and concessions became de riguer. Two income families are the norm and many families still barely hang on. Families led by a female single parent live significantly in poverty. Social mobility has decreased. The public commons and regulatory regime are sacrificed for corporate interests. Environmental standards are either eroded or inadequate to address the challenges of health, climate change and economic diversification. The political leadership continues to assert the private sector will alleviate problems. Crisis of confidence and citizen disempowerment comes to mind.

Hard won economic and social rights – human rights – are under attack. Globalization does present new challenges and opportunities. The idea of human rights is the universal and global idea of our time. Human rights emerged out of the ashes of war and mass suffering. Surely, we cannot afford another global political and economic crisis.

The founders of the modern welfare state understood that the best guarantee of stable democracy, for peace and security, was that equitable levels of economic and social rights were essential and that the market economy required major involvement by governments if these rights were to be obtained. Global trade is a reality and we live in a global economy – we have never been more inter-connected – there is a revolution in mass communication, information and exchange. Innovative policies at the political level can ensure that trade and capital flows are fairly regulated to ensure human needs and rights are upheld and advanced.

Leadership that is far-sighted and committed to justice and advancing human rights is the best answer to furthering broad based economic prosperity and social advancement. Failure to address these profound trends – the withering away of social and economic rights – will risk the peace and stability that was forged after the harsh lessons of history. Human rights – social, economic, political, civil and cultural rights – are integral to human well-being, progress, peace and stability.

The Universal Declaration states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”  This is what progressives can rally upon,  stand up for such principles and rights, and fight for a more equal and just Canadian society.

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