Thursday, May 31, 2012

If this is cured, what was the disease?

Earlier this month NDP leader Thomas Mulcair caused a furor in the west and among conservatives for having the audacity to suggest that the  singular focus on a resource based economy with total disregard for the impact on the environment and the economy in the rest of Canada may not be the best approach and that there should be public discussion and consultation about alternatives.  

Mr. Mulcair’s “Dutch disease” reference was the final straw and erupted into a media storm, both print and social, that is ongoing – a good thing as the issue is now receiving a great deal of attention.
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s Premier, has emerged as the defender of the West.  In a recent tweet Mr. Wall stated “Resources have been the cure not the problem”.  

Perhaps I’m missing something, but continued high unemployment, record deficits, ravaging of our environment and the widening inequality in wealth distribution, while oil companies make record profits, doesn’t sound very healthy to me, let alone “cured”. 

The economic debate about whether we have “Dutch disease”, or not, is largely irrelevant.  We have a disease that is common in resource based economies:  We are sacrificing our natural resources and environment on the alter of economic expediency.  We allow (even encourage) mining companies to plunder our finite resources with impunity from the destruction they cause to our  environment or other segments of the economy and without any consideration for economic longevity and environmental sustainability.  We provide lucrative tax breaks to corporations that make billions in profit and allow them to export raw materials without even the attempt to establish secondary industry in Canada.  And we don’t make them pay for the damage they cause to our environment.  This was generally the outcome from colonization – what is it called when it is self-inflicted?

The way I see it we are not immune and we are not “cured”, not by a long shot.  Perhaps it’s not “Dutch disease” in the purest sense – maybe it’s mutated into a local strain – say “Canadian malaise”!  But whatever it is we are far from healthy and we can and must do better! 

Mr. Mulcair has struck the debate.  Now Canadians from coast to coast to coast must become active and vocal about this issue of great concern to all, now and for future generations!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Doubling down on dumb!

Once again the conservative government seems incapable or unwilling to make decisions to create a better Canada – this time with regards to immigration.

While the immigration minister acknowledges that Canada needs more skilled immigrants, he is only prepared to welcome more once the statistics for existing migrants improve – statistics that are the result of years of inadequate policies from Liberal and Conservative governments. This is akin to the old adage: "Punishment will continue until performance improves".

Innovative thinking is required to remove constraints to Canadian growth. What is needed is immediate action to increase the immigration for skilled and professional workers coupled with programs to:
·         facilitate an on-ramp to productive employment in their area of expertise
·         provide a fast-track process to attain Canadian accreditation for their qualifications (starting before they reach Canada)
·         provide ESL / FSL training as required

With such programs in place the rest of the world would see Canada as a country that not only welcomes new immigrants but also provides real opportunity for them to be productive and successful in their new home. Over time these programs would also rectify the statistics that the immigration minister is rightly concerned about.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

EI reform. Really?

The Conservative government is giving its clearest signal yet that a hard line is coming on employment insurance.  Once again the focus of the conservative government  is on cost control.   This is the same caged thinking that arrives at mega-prisons as a good idea. 
Canada has suffered under this approach of  treating the symptoms rather than the underlying cause from decades of Liberal and Conservative governments.  It has proven to be a recipe for inertia at best, and has resulted in the slow decline of Canadian society and the quality of life and standard of living for the majority of Canadians.

It is time to stop addressing the symptom of rising  and chronic unemployment with draconian measures to control the cost of EI by redefining “suitable work”. 

Why not show leadership and vision?   Rather than “punish” those who find themselves unemployed, let’s tackle the issues that cause unemployment in the first place.  Why not try a different approach – an approach with a vision to enrich Canadian society for all and develop a work environment filled with hope and opportunity?

Sunday, July 24, 2011


If women feel at risk with the Conservatives in power federally for four more years let's draw strength from the women of Ontario in 1990 - and with luck again in 2011.

A New Democratic Party government reigned at Queen's Park.  Here's a description from p.16 of the book Women, Power, Politics - The Hidden Story of Canada's Unfinished Democracy, by Sylvia Bashevkin:
"Among the highest percentages ever of women in a government caucus or cabinet were those in the Ontario NDP, between 1990 and 1995. Caucus included 20 women (out of 74 members or 27%) at least half of whom had been active in second-wave feminist organizations."

Add to that the fact that 11 women were appointed to a Cabinet of 26, which meant women held 42.3% of the portfolios.

"What did the Ontario NDP government accomplish?  It widened childcare provision, increased funding for shelters for battered women, raised the minimum wage, strengthened pay equity laws, and legalized midwifery."

So much for 20 years ago.  Now the NDP has a constructive, articulate, and smart woman leader and lots of women candidates.

I say we can't lose.

from Edna Toth
Chair of Peel Poverty Action Group
Mississauga-Streetsville NDP exec
Mississauga Citizen of the Year 2011

Prove me wrong Mr. Harper - PLEASE!

In the Mississauga – Erindale debate on Rogers TV the statement I made was reported by the Mississauga News in the April 12, 2011 Editorial as follows: In another poignant moment, Mississauga-Erindale NDP hopeful Michelle Bilek turned away from the camera as she told viewers, sadly, that “(Prime Minister) Stephen Harper doesn’t care about you or your family.” (
After decades of Conservative and Liberal governments it is clear neither party is focused on supporting you or your family.  The fortunate have full-time jobs providing a reasonable wage.  However, wages have been stagnant for years with people taking home less today than 10+ years ago while working hours, cost of living and taxation have increased.  There is significant poverty in Peel with over 15,000 on waiting lists for 20+ years for cooperative housing.  Another hidden demographic prevalent in Mississauga are the mortgage/rent poor – families with little or no disposable income remaining after paying for housing.   And child care costs for the working poor can be as much as the mortgage/rent. 
The current social structure is clearly broken as it does not provide for all Canadians in a fair and equitable manner!  Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world yet we tolerate real hardship and inequality for significant portions of our population – youth, women, seniors, single parents, two+ income families, first nations, etc. – a percentage that is growing every year.  Whenever these issues are raised, no matter what the government of the day, the response is we can’t afford it.  This response is seeing things through the existing “lens”.  In my view this is not about just spending more – it is about Governments raising revenue and spending differently – targeting the existing money on programs that build the society we want, providing tax incentives based on real metrics of job creation or services provided, etc. We must strive for a society and economy that provides for all members of society in Mississauga, Ontario and Canada.  A strong economy is fundamental to improving the standard of living for all Canadians.    To achieve this we must show a holistic approach to redefining Canadian society with innovation in four key areas:
·         in society to ensure all have a liveable wage and health care, our seniors live in dignity, the services required to support our changing demographic
·         business, education, labour and government working together for technology innovation, education reform focused on required job skills, and creating jobs in a world-leading new economy
·          management of the environment sustainability
·         and Canada approaching the world with peace and understanding.

When the Mississauga News endorsed the Conservatives in the April 26, 2011 Editorial they said:  The Conservatives must work with the other parties — and we believe the country will benefit if the New Democrats form the official opposition — to prove that Mississauga-Erindale NDP hopeful Michelle Bilek was wrong when she said that, "Stephen Harper doesn't care about you and your family." (
After five years of Conservative government there has been no demonstrable program or initiative to create the Canadian society we all want.  Throughout the election campaign there were promises made but no track record so it is difficult to believe the promises will be delivered. So my plea is: For the sake of all Canadians, prove me wrong Mr Harper – PLEASE!