The Twelve Wastes of Christmas

While the newest Conservative Senator Larry Smith complains about having to take a pay cut in order to sit in the upper house (he's also opportunistically planning to resign from the seat soon in order to run for the House in West Montreal), here's a great Liberal list of the Twelve Wastes of Christmas.

Remember that as the holidays are near, and instead of you getting to have some more of your tax money in your pocket to buy gifts, or services being provided to those who unfortunately have hard times during the holidays, John Baird and his backroom buddies wasted your tax money on careless vanity projects like these:

“Everyone’s giving out money. We’re spending like it’s Christmas.”
Conservative MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Nov. 9, 2010)
1) A fake lake and pavilion to house it in – Although Lake Ontario was less than a kilometer away from the G20 summit, the Conservatives spent $2 million building a temporary fake Muskoka lake for journalists to lounge beside.

2) Thousands and thousands of glow sticks — Although Public Safety Minister Vic Toews claims he doesn’t know what a glowstick is, he oversaw the purchase of $14,049 worth of them for use over the course of one June weekend.

3) A tiny wooden lighthouse — While the Conservatives were pushing a plan to sell off some of Canada’s iconic lighthouses, such as the one at Peggy’s Cove, they were busy building a fake wooden lighthouse, safely land-locked, deep in Industry Minister Tony Clement’s riding.

4) A puddle of water — This $20,000 puddle of water was briefly an ice sculpture on display at the G20 summit in Toronto.

5) Personalized fortune cookies – Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says he didn’t buy them, but that doesn’t explain his department’s $429.95 receipt for personalized fortune cookies.

6) Steam Boat Tony’s S.S. Bigwin — Tony Clement, wanting to spiff up his riding and impress some visiting international dignitaries, spent $380,000 fixing up a steamboat that launched two months after the dignitaries had left the country.

7) Party like it’s 1999 – Stephen Harper personally authorized the purchase of $7,400 worth of “refreshments” for a meeting thrown at a posh hotel across the street from the Prime Minister’s Office.

8) Expensive speeches – James Moore paid a speech writer $26,825.24 for one month’s work. That’s $500 more than the Prime Minister makes in a month.

9) Expensive press releases — Taxpayers paid a consultant $3,400 to draft and send out two press releases for Via Rail. After Via paid what amounts to about $2.62 for each word the consultant typed, Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro hired him.

10) Buying ad space on explicit sites — The Conservatives pride themselves on overseeing every single aspect of the entire government’s communications strategy. Part of that strategy was advertising the Government of Canada on explicit websites. Reverend Charles McVety called the move “pretty outrageous,” and suggested that the Conservatives shouldn’t be using tax dollars to advertise on websites that “may contain child pornography.”

11) Unexpected moving costs — Bickering inside the Conservative Cabinet and their poor treatment of one of Canada’s strategic allies got the Canadian Forces kicked out of Camp Mirage in the UAE with just 30 days notice. The moving bill is estimated to be $300 million.

12) A monument to commemorate government spending — Mr. Clement, perhaps worried that Canadians might forget that his government has been spending like its Christmas, erected a permanent brass plaque in North Bay to do nothing more than commemorate government spending. A photo to the plaque commemorating the year the Conservatives spent, ‘Spending like it’s Christmas,’ is below.

See the Liberal link for the photos mentioned.

Harper government leaves students out in the cold

Good words from the Liberal Party on how the priorities of the Conservatives are hurting students. Ottawa West-Nepean has thousands of post-secondary students living in the riding, from the in-riding Algonquin College to students attending Carleton, the University of Ottawa, St. Paul's, in addition to the thousands of soon to be post-secondary students attending high schools in the riding. The MP for Ottawa West-Nepean needs to be a champion for youth and students, not backroom political interests like John Baird.

Rather than shifting the $121 million left over from the Millennium Scholarship Foundation to help students struggling with enormous debt and rising tuition costs, the Harper government has hawked the money away while they struggle to pay for their skewed priorities, Liberal MPs said today.

“They are stealing this huge sum of money from students who desperately need it to help pay for their tax cuts for wealthy corporations and their untendered fighter jets,” said Liberal Human Resources Critic Mike Savage.

“Once again, we see a government completely out of touch with the needs of Canadian families, just as they were when they secretly cut Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) pension payments from low-income seniors.”

Reports today claim that the $121 million recovered by the Treasury Board when the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation closed its doors last July has gone unaccounted for in government coffers. Created in 1998, the fund was a 10-year program designed to lower financial and social barriers to post-secondary education and to encourage student achievement.

“Students are drowning in debt and tuition keeps rising. This money could have been used to help nearly 40,000 more students attend post-secondary education, but instead we have a government who thinks spending billions of dollars on mega-prisons and untendered fighter jets is what Canadians want,” said Mr. Savage.

According to Statistics Canada, average undergraduate tuition this year rose to $5,138 – a nearly $1,000 increase in just the last five years – with graduate tuition rising at a 6% faster pace than undergraduate tuition. As well, one in three student borrowers do not receive enough aid through the student loan system to offset their education costs – and this is happening at the same time as student unemployment is nearly double the general unemployment rate.

“The Conservatives have consistently cut funding to essential learning programs at a time when investing in higher learning is critical,” Liberal Industry, Science and Technology Critic Marc Garneau said. “Stephen Harper’s ideology constantly gets in the way of real progress for the future, where education today is needed if we are to create the jobs of tomorrow.

“Liberals understand that the more educated our population is, the better Canada’s economy will be.”

The Liberal Party’s pan-Canadian learning strategy is a plan to create jobs and a highly skilled workforce by helping more students attend post-secondary school, no matter their financial situation. It also includes investments in early childhood education, improvements in Aboriginal education, workforce literacy, 100% high-speed internet connectivity for distance learning, language training for New Canadians, and access to skills training.

Tories don't care about Status of Women: Hill Times Poll

The Hill Times Poll is out, which asks MP's, staffers, lobbyists, academics, and others various questions about the state of Canadian politics. One question and answer is particularly telling about the priorities of the Conservatives:

Which House and/or Senate committees are a complete waste of time?

None 18.6%

House Status of Women 14.6%

...Those who were keen to choose a committee they just can't stand said the House Status of Women Committee, chaired by Liberal Hedy Fry is considered a waste. The committee was discounted almost exclusively by Conservatives...

A female Liberal MP said Conservatives "despise and ignore it so obviously."

Women, and all citizens of Ottawa West-Nepean deserve better.

"..the Conservatives think they can get away with it at the ballot box because youth don't care. Tonight, you've shown that you do care!"

Some great words from a great candidate! The Youth Voices Youth Choices event was a tremendous success, with a wonderfully diverse crowd demonstrating the full multicultural nature of the riding, and of course, plenty of youth were around supporting Anita. Anita and our special guest, Justin Trudeau, both spoke about the need for youth to get engaged and be active. We've got a strong youth team to take on John Baird! One line from Anita's speech particularly resonated with the room, from which I've drawn the title of this post from.

"We've seen the highest youth unemployment rates on record. And Mr. Baird, Mr. Harper, and the Conservatives think they can get away with it at the ballot box because youth don't care. Tonight, you've shown that you do care."

Great stuff, that really puts the mishandling of the economy by the Conservatives into a youth perspective.

Youth Voices Youth Choices event with Justin Trudeau TONIGHT!

The Youth Voices Youth Choices event is tonight! Please join the Anita Vandenbeld for Ottawa West-Nepean team and our special guest Justin Trudeau tonight! We'll have great live music, great food, and of course, lots of great Liberals! For those in Ottawa, the venue is pretty easy to get to from downtown, so we hope to see you all come out for our great candidate, Anita Vandenbeld!

Anita Vandenbeld and Young Liberals standing up for the environment

Last Wednesday, Anita Vandenbeld and many youth from the Anita Vandenbeld campaign attended a roundtable co-hosted by the Ottawa-Vanier Federal Liberal and the University of Ottawa Young Liberals. Gerard Kennedy, Liberal Party critic for the Environment led a vibrant and enlightening discussion about Environmental and Water Policy with the 20 or so Young Liberals and a few young-at-heart Liberals.

It was great to see Liberals talking about environmental policy, as the Harper Conservatives throw caution to the wind when it comes to climate change and any form of eco-consciousness, citing conflicts with economic and fiscal policy. As, the Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, so emphatically and wrongfully asserted: "Bill C-311 would have destroyed the Canadian economy". Fact? Absolutely not. There have been three separate reputable studies (that I know about), that in fact, totally disprove his stubborn and narrow-minded hypothesis. Their main points are summarized below with links to the reports:

  • Main point: ANY delay on climate change action would be dangerous and more costly

  • Main point: there are efficient, effective and equitable resources to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies within a global agreement

  • Main point: key economic indicator trajectories are followed under three possible scenarios, and economic growth is predicted in each scenario except for "business as usual" (i.e. inaction on climate change, as is the case for this Regressive Conservative government)

This is exactly the kind of proof and substance that the Liberal Party must use to counteract the myth of the dichotomy between the economy and ecology. The Conservatives have been successful in demonizing environmental policies as having negative effects on the economy - asking the questions,

"Do you want jobs? Do you want to be able to continue to put food on the table, keep your money in your pocket and a roof over your head?"

The Liberal Party of Canada fundamentally opposes the current Conservative government's priorities when it comes to the environment and the way that environmental/climate change policies and legislation are portrayed as antagonistic to jobs, employment, and the economy. In Ottawa West-Nepean we will fight this opinion and give the riding constituents another option, and provide them with a third choice to the question of priorities:

"Do you want a Liberal MP (Anita Vandenbeld) and a Liberal government that offers a BALANCE between the economy and the environment? Do you want positive and effective environmental and climate change legislation that actually enhances and betters the economy?"

The talk around the table was particularly interesting for me as a former YLC/JLC delegate to COP15, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last year that was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Twenty-five or so Young Liberals from across Canada ventured across the Atlantic ocean to participate in the global discussions about what we should collectively do about climate change.

John Baird, the part-time Minister of the Environment, is actually traveling to Cancun for the talks, but all his talking will only add more hot air and set Canada's record back even more. Already, on Day 1 of the conference Canada won all 3 Fossil of the Day Awards and should also have been co-conspirators with Japan on Day 2 for their cooperation on killing further progress of the Kyoto Protocol.

Luckily for us, the Liberal Party is also attending the conference this year as part of the international delegation IFLRY and Gerard Kennedy and the Young Liberals of Canada will be in Cancun to show the rest of the world and the media that Liberals are not just there to criticize; we are there to show that Liberals have quite a different perspective on climate change action - do something - compared to the inaction strategy proposed by people like John Baird. The YLC and Gerard Kennedy are there to collectively represent another option to Canadians and to say that the current government does not represent Canadian opinions and priorities on climate change action.

The Liberal Party is talking seriously about our carbon footprint - we wear size 21 shoes (in terms of tonnes of CO2 emissions/year as a resident), not including travel and energy production! The mantra we are now talking about is sustainable development - whether its looking at the rate of change in the Oil Sands or re-examining the Species At Risk Act, the Liberal Party is set on valuing our natural capital with the goods and services it provides, and making sure that market values reflect not only the practical and economic value, but the innate, emotional and recreational value of nature.

This makes me a very content member of the Liberal Party and happy to be part of a team that is willing to address the important issues, such as climate change, and talk about real solutions.

Follow the great Young Liberal team in Cancun, Mexico:

Youth for Anita Vandenbeld
Authorized by the Official Agent for Anita Vandenbeld
Copyright © 2010 Youth for Anita Vandenbeld for Ottawa West-Nepean All rights reserved.