Tag

Liberals

Browsing

And they all come tumbling down

Politician after politician are resigning amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

It started with Ontario PC party leader Patrick Brown, who resigned in the early morning last week following allegations made by two women. Around the same time, Nova Scotia PC leader Jamie Bailie was forced out of his party following an investigation over “inappropriate behaviour”. The independent third-party investigation found that Braile had breached the Nova Scotia House of Assembly policy on the prevention and resolution of harassment in the workplace.

Details on the allegations were not released to the public.

And then, Sunday night, Ontario PC party president Rick Dykstra resigned. “It has a wonderful experience to watch the party’s renewal and over the next couple of months we will see the party coalesce around a new Leader,” Dykstra on Twitter “As this process unfolds, I have made the decision to step aside as President and take a step back for someone else to lead us through the hard work.”

The announcement was made a few hours before a story came out in Maclean’s Magazine alleging that Dykstra sexually assaulted a staffer following a party when he was serving as an MP in Ottawa.

Of course, not all of the resignations have come from the PCs. Federal Sport and Disabilities Minister Kent Hehr resigned from cabinet over the weekend after allegations of sexual harassment popped up on social media. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the resignation a “leave of absence” while an investigation is conducted.

“As a government, we take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and we believe that it is important to support women who come forward with allegations and that is exactly what our government will do,” the statement read.

Every single politician and political leader is saying the same thing. They use phrases like “it is never okay” to threaten or make a woman uncomfortable or “we take any allegations seriously”. It’s as if my saying this phrases out loud, they are waving a magic wand and saying “nothing to see here.”

This influx of resignations is just the tipping point of a broader, more wide-spread issue — the old-boys club of politics. While the federal cabinet may be gender-equal, the rest of the political arena is not. Of 308 seats within the House of Commons, only 88 are women, a measly 26 per cent. For decades, Canadian governments were led by powerful, white men, and while that is slowly changing, attitudes are not. I imagine there will be numerous more allegations made in the next few months.

Municipal, provincial, and federal governments have all indicated a need for change. Gender lenses are being attached to budgets and trade documents — and yet, our government can’t seem to get a handle of the sexism within their own backyard. The simple solution is to elect more women, especially in leadership roles. But, it’s going to take more than that. There needs to be an attitude check on parliament hill. Enough with that “it is never okay” statements. It’s time to practice what you preach and weed out the old boys club and replace them with fresh faces who are willing to respect everyone equally.

Minister Murray resigns as Minister of Environment

On July 31, the Honourable Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, has announced his resignation. Chris Ballard, former Minister of Housing and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, will replace him in the cabinet.

Peter Milczyn, MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, will be given the position of Minister of Housing.

Murray has dedicated most of his life to public service. His extensive political career began in Winnipeg, where he acted as city councillor before becoming Mayor in 1998. After moving to Toronto in 2010, he was elected into the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Since then, he has held the position of Minister of Research and Innovation, Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Infrastructure, and finally Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Unlike some politicians, Murray is genuinely passionate about the environment, working tirelessly to ensure the policies enacted by the provincial government followed sustainable practices. He is most known for his instrumental role in the creation and adoption of the cap-and-trade regulations that passed through the legislature in mid-May as well as Ontario’s Climate Chance Action Plan.

Murray announced his resignation Monday morning, saying that he will step down from cabinet immediately, but will remain an MPP until Sept 1.

“As part of the Ontario Liberal Government, I have had the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I have always tried to bring a fresh and creative approach to public policy and government, making decisions that keep those that matter the most in mind.”

“I ultimately have made the difficult decision, with the support of my partner Rick, to transition from this chapter on to the next chapter of tirelessly working to mobilize to fight climate change at the national level.”

On Sept. 5, Murray will join the Pembina Institute as Executive Director. The Pembina Institute is a 30-year-old Canadian think tank that advocates for clean energy solutions and the overall reduction of fossil fuels.

“Glen is a renowned thought leader on social and environmental issues, with an impressive track record of policy leadership throughout his tenure in elected office,” said David Runnalls, president of the Pembina Institute. “On behalf of the board of directors, I am thrilled that Glen is joining our talented team and know he will propel the Pembina Institute to new heights as we work to solve today’s greatest energy challenges.”

It is unclear at this moment if this change will result in new priorities for the Liberal government, and if Ontario’s climate change plan will still be considered among them.

Ontario set to increase minimum wage to $15

Tuesday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne officially announced a plan that would see the province’s minimum wage increased to $15 by 2019.

“The economy has changed. Work has changed,” Wynne said in a statement. “It’s time our laws and protections for workers changed too.

Employees can expect the minimum wage to be raised to $14 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018 before the government phases in the last dollar in Jan. 2019. After that, minimum wage will be increased annually at the rate of inflation.

The province is also mandating equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual, and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees. This is a critical statement to make, as too often changes to employment laws only affect full-time workers, leaving those struggling in short-term contracts behind.

Other changes to the Ontario’s employment and labour laws include:

  • Increasing vacation time to at least three weeks after five years within a company
  • Managing that employees be paid for three hours of work if a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time
  • Employees can refuse shifts without repercussion if asked with less than four days notice
  • Expanding personal emergency leave to include two paid days per year for all workers

There will also be some slight changes to union laws, which will establish card-based certification for temporary workers, among other things.

It’s still unclear how the business community will respond to this announcement, but most employees living on the current minimum wage will be supporting it. At the current minimum wage, a full-time employee will make on average $23,712. As Women’s Post has previously mentioned, this kind of salary (especially considering the state of the real estate market) doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room to pay for anything other than shelter, transportation, and amenities.

This will also give the Liberal party a leg up come the next provincial election. The $15 minimum wage is a big political issue for millennials and other young people venturing out into the working world. The timing of this announcement, along with the Liberal’s plan for free prescription medicine for those under the age of 25, is no accident.

 

NOTE: the NDP came out with a plan to increase minimum wage to $15 prior to the provincial budget release.

 

The B.C Green Party finally puts on their big boy pants

The British Columbia provincial election results have shocked Canadians across the country. The B.C. Green Party has never-before-seen political leverage after the closest election results on record.

The final seat count as of May 24 revealed the Liberal party has 43 seats, the NDP has 41 and the Green Party has three seats in the legislature. The Liberals won by a mere 1566 ballots after very narrow results forced a vote recount, leading many people to question whether the election should be recast entirely. The election results have also put the Green Party in a strong position. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has been approached by both the Liberal and NDP parties to strike a possible coalition and is currently in discussions to decide which party to support, or to not support either party at all.

According to Weaver, the final decision on a potential coalition government will be announced by Wednesday May 31. For the first time in Green Party history in Canada, the classic underdog that champions the environmental movement is in a politically powerful position. The Green Party has the opportunity to have certain demands met by either the Liberals or the NDP government to help form a coalition government in B.C.

On Tuesday, a coalition of activists joined together to assemble in front of the B.C. Legislature buildings to try and convince the NDP and the Green Party who have always been at odds with each other to join together and end 16 years of Liberal rule in the province. Dethroning Premier Christy Clark would be in the best interests of the province from an environmental standpoint. Clark has repeatedly approved devastating environmental projects, including the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and supporting the Site C megadam project.

Clark did not speak when the final election results were announced on Wednesday, but issued a statement saying, “”with 43 B.C. Liberal candidates elected as MLAs, and a plurality in the legislature, we have a responsibility to move forward and form a government.” The Green Party will play a big part in what type of government is formed in coming weeks.

This is a key moment in Canadian politics for the Green Party in B.C. An opportunity to actually make a difference and have political weight in legislature. It is also a crowning moment for Green supporters everywhere who have toiled for years being the underdog and finally have a chance at affecting meaningful change in Canada’s most environmentally progressive province.  Canadians everywhere wait on the edge of their seats to see what move Weaver makes, and whether the NDP and Green Party can finally put their differences aside and dethrone Clark once and for all.

What do you think will happen? Let us know in the comments below!

Remembering our true past when celebrating Canada’s 150 years

Canada is gearing up to celebrate 150 years this summer with several events planned across the country. Fireworks, parades, a ‘ready, set, fire’ event where participants will have the opportunity to shoot a vintage gun in Nova Scotia, and a festival on the confederation bridge in P.E.I. are few of many events planned to celebrate Canada as a unified country. It leaves me to wonder though, what are we really celebrating?

Canada — at that time made up of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia — became a confederation on July 1, 1867. The remaining provinces joined over time, with Nunavut as the last territory in 1999. Regardless of the specific timeline of when Canada became a completely unified country, its history has not always been perfect. The destruction of aboriginal cultures since confederation is a very dark part of Canada’s past, but nonetheless must be recognized during this celebration.

Canada is as much a country of amazing feats, as a product of colonization. Residential schools, the destruction of languages, culture, and land, and the continuing ignorance of the plight of many native peoples in our country are few of the many hurts aboriginals have suffered.

On Canada’s 150th birthday, take a moment to pause and meditate on the complex challenges that aboriginals have experienced as Canadian citizens and as a culture. Lead singer of Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, is certainly leading this push to recognize Canadian aboriginal culture, recently putting on a Secret Path performance that focuses on indigenous issues in Canada. He also announced a project for restaurants and public spaces to dedicate legacy rooms to aboriginal issues across the country as a way to celebrate 150 years.

Want to learn more? The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation opened in 2015, and demonstrates the history of aboriginal affairs in Canada. There are millions of records of violence towards Canada’s indigenous peoples and is a worthy place to visit in honour of Canada’s 150th year celebration.

At the same time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making efforts to recognize native issues to celebrate 150 years. Funding of $1.8 million was announced for the Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy and focuses on reconciliation efforts. Indspire is a speaking tour that represents exceptional indigenous youth and the government gave 200,000 dollars to the initiative. Support of these projects is included in the overall budget for the 150 years celebration, but there is much left for the Federal government to remediate relations with Canadian aboriginals.

Canada has been a confederation for 150 years, but has been home to aboriginals for much longer. It is important to take a moment to pay our respects to the true forefathers and foremothers of our country, and remember the true history of Canada, including the past we are ashamed of.

NDP calls on Kathleen Wynne to fund relief line

BREAKING: NDP transit critic Cheri DiNovo calls on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to commit to funding the relief line.

“The Mayor of Toronto and the TTC say that the relief line must be built before the Yonge line extension, or else there will be transit chaos,” she said in a statement. “But the premier seems to be more interested in saving Liberal seats north of Toronto than funding a subway project that transit experts say must come first.”

This statement was released on May 11, two days after Toronto Mayor John Tory said he would remove his support for the Yonge North Subway Extension unless the province supplied funding for the relief line. The Relief Line will provide an alternative for commuters travelling downtown from the west end of Toronto, rather than continue to funnel Torontonians into the singular central Yonge Line 1.

Line 1 will be at capacity by 2031.

More to come.

Tory threatens to stop Yonge extension until relief line funded

Toronto Mayor John Tory has threatened to remove his support of the Yonge North Subway Extension unless the province agrees to provide funding to help construct the relief line.

This announcement was made following a report that was released for approval by the Executive Committee on both transit projects, seeking approval for the alignment and design/planning stages. This new report also included the cost estimate for the relief line — $6.8 billion for the construction of the first phase of the project. There is little doubt the cost will continue to rise as the design of the line continues.

As of now, there is no dedicating funding from the federal or provincial government for the relief line. The Ontario Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, has promised $150 million for the planning of the project, but that’s it. According to a press statement released by the minister, the province has also notified city officials of a budget freeze in 2018,” which would leave no room for funding either of these projects at the municipal level.”

Del Duca doesn’t see this as a problem. “We’ve been at the table right at the start for both of these projects, by contributing $150-million to the Relief Line planning and design work, nearly three times the amount the City has committed, and $55 million towards the same work on Yonge North,” he said in the statement. “However, Mayor Tory just can’t take yes for an answer.”

What Del Duca fails to realize is that $150 million for the planning of the project will do nothing to help move the relief line along. It’s small change for a project as large as this. By 2031, the Yonge Line (Line 1) will be at capacity, unable to carry new riders. It’s important to remember the development of SmartTrack will not offer relief to Line 1. The many transit extensions being built prior to the relief line will actually drive traffic towards this central line, increasing capacity until it’s no longer feasible to operate.

That’s why Tory said at a press conference that he would not support the development of the Yonge North Subway Extension until the province changes their mind on funding this important project. The extension is a project supported by many Liberal candidates in the York region.

“We might have to consider just diverting our resources to other work,” he said to reporters. “If we are uncertain that the relief line will be funded or not, then why would we be devoting our time working on the Yonge Street North Extension because the two are very much interconnected.”

Tory emphasized that without provincial or federal funding, there is no way the City of Toronto can afford to build this critical subway line.

The new relief line, if approved by city council, will travel down Carlaw between Gerrard St. and Eastern. The next phase of the work will be to accelerate the planning and design of the southern part of the line, including developing the next budget estimates.

Is Ontario a ‘real funding partner’ for Toronto’s relief line?

The Yonge Relief Line may have a new alignment — and that decision couldn’t come soon enough. This alignment is one of the few remaining steps that need approval before city staff can push this much-needed project forward.

And this project NEEDS to move forward.

The relief line has been talked about on and off for the last decade, and yet, it is still nowhere near completion. Politics always got in the way. Since then, the original Yonge line (Line 1) has become more crowded. This has made commutes nearly unbearable during peak hours. It has effected ridership and forced more people to use their cars instead of taking public transportation.

While some question the need for a relief line, especially with SmartTrack on the table, city staff, the Toronto Transit Commission, and Metrolinx have all come together to label the relief line as a priority for Toronto’s new transit network. Without it, they say, congestion on the Yonge Line will not be alleviated.

The biggest problem with the relief line will be the funding. As Toronto Mayor John Tory said repeatedly at a series of press conferences on transit last week, without serious funding from provincial and federal partners, Toronto will be unable to grow its transit network.

The Ontario government promised in 2016 to provide $150 million in funds to the planning and design of the relief line. That number has not changed, despite the current cost projection of $6.8 billion for the relief line. This means that the provincial contribution won’t do anything other then fund a study or two.

It’s also why Tory has been campaigning and pushing the province for more. When the province dismissed Toronto’s attempt at raising funds through tolls, they effectively removed a significant form of revenue for the city. Without that money, Toronto has no choice but to make its residents pay for the transit network, no matter what the politicians say. That’s why Tory is asking the province to step up and become a “real partner” in their efforts to fund transit infrastructure. He wants the province and the federal government to each pay 40 per cent of the relief line.

The province has been hitting back, indicating they are a “stable provincial funding partner”, despite the lack of funding announcements. But Toronto residents are not falling for it — and that fact is already showing in the polls.

Taking away a revenue-generating tool like tolls without offering a solution is not leadership. Ignoring the needs of one of the biggest cities in the province is also not the way to get elected, despite what advisors may be whispering into the Premier’s ears. The Liberal government will find that out if they refuse Tory’s proposal of short-term hotel taxes as a revenue tool.

Back to the relief line: In May, the executive committee will debate the new alignment option down Carlaw Ave., between Gerrard St. and Eastern Ave., before sending the route to city council for approval.

At this moment, construction will begin in 2025.

Ontario Throne Speech promises childcare and electricity rebates

The vacation is over and it’s back to the daily grind for provincial government officials. Parliament officially kicked off Thursday, with a throne speech given by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor.

The throne speech was meant to help reset the Liberal government agenda and help ministers focus on new legislation. Premier Kathleen Wynne surprised Ontarians last week when she decided to prorogue the government so that the ceremony could take place. The speech outlined a lot of the Liberal government’s successes and achievements, and presented some of the new legislation that will be introduced later this year. However, it also means that all government legislation that was on the order paper prior to the prorogation will have to be reintroduced. Our Members of Provincial Parliament are in for a busy session, that’s for sure.

The liberal government has promised to re-introduce all pieces of legislation as they were, with amendments attached only to election finance reform. This week, the government will move to prohibit MPPs from all parties to attend fundraising events.

Here are a few highlights from the throne speech:

  • Over the next five years, the Ontario government wants to create another 100,000 childcare spaces for kids up to the age of four.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2017, residential homeowners will see an eight per cent rebate on their electricity bills, equalling the provincial HST. This equals about $130 in savings for a typical Ontario household. Small businesses may be eligible for the benefit.
  • The Cap and Trade and Climate Change legislation will be introduced to the House in January.
  • Ontario will continue to invest in road infrastructure and transit via the $160 billion commitment over the next 12 years.
  • The next provincial budget will be balanced.

The rest of the 30-minute speech reinforced the Liberal’s commitment to growing the economy, reducing the province’s carbon footprint, and investing in healthcare.

With an election set for Spring 2018, this is the perfect opportunity to the Liberals to remind the public of what the government has been up to these last three years. Public support for a politician can waver after a few years — when people realize that their promises are taking longer to fulfill than originally expected. A throne speech and a new session of Parliament may be exactly what this government needs to refocus and get on track.

Either way, everyone is watching now. Premier Wynne made the bold choice to make this new vision known to the scrutinizing eye of both the public and the media. It’s a brave and democratic choice — let’s just hope they are able to hold on to that vision without faltering.

New climate change legislation puts emphasis on electric cars

The Ontario government has finally released the long-awaited Climate Change Action Plan — and it is jam packed with lots of incentives for electric vehicles and green home retrofits.

The strategy works in tandem with the cap and trade program finalized by the Liberals a few months ago. This strategy is expected to create around $1.9 billion in revenue through the auctioning of emission credits, which will then be invested into a new Greenhouse Gas Reduction account. These funds will be “responsibly and transparently invested into actions that directly reduce greenhouse gas pollution, create jobs, and help people and businesses shift to a low-carbon economy.”

One of the biggest concerns people had with the government’s climate strategy was that the plan would include a ban on natural gas and would negatively affect businesses and drivers that use a lot of carbon. The 86-page document addresses this concern by saying “it will not take away personal choice: no one will have to stop using gas in their home or give up their gas-powered car by a certain date. Rather, the plan creates the conditions that provide choice. It gives consumers and businesses more reasons to reduce their carbon footprint, and creates competitive conditions for the adoption of low-carbon technology.”

Here are some of the highlights:

  • A Green Bank will be established to help homeowners and businesses access and finance energy-efficient technologies to reduce greenhouse gasses. This includes a number of rebates for retrofits in social housing. Homes being sold after 2019 will be provided with a free energy audit.
  • More than one third of Ontario’s greenhouse gasses are created by transportation. Cars and trucks make up 70 per cent of this carbon. The Ontario government is offering rebates of up to $14,000 per eligible electric vehicles, including a $1,000 rebate for charging stations. The goal is to have every new home buying built after 2018 to include a charging plug in the garage.
  • The government will establish a four-year free overnight electric vehicle charging program for residents starting in 2017.
  • A “cash for clunkers” program will work with the rebates for electric vehicles to get older, less efficient vehicles off the road. Companies and drivers who buy green vehicles will receive a special license plate that will allow free access to provincial HOV and tolled lanes.
  • Focus on researching and developing new green technologies and transitional allowances for high-polluting businesses.
  • Emphasis on implementing more cycling and walking networks throughout the province to rid gridlock and therefore reduce the amount of carbon emitted by vehicles on the roads.

The purpose of all of these programs is to cut Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution to 15 per cent bellow 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030, and 80 per cent by 2050.

The government is spending between $5.9 billion to $8.3 billion over the next five years on new programs, incentives, rebates, and green technologies. The $1.9 billion earned by selling emission credits through the cap and trade program will make up some of these funds.

The plan will add about $5 a month to home heating bills and 4.3 cents a litre to gas prices.

The Climate Change Action Plan outlines the provincial (and sometimes municipal) responsibilities for the next five years and will be reviewed and updated every five years after the fact. An implementation update will be provided annually for transparency.