Archive | September, 2009

Spectacles go chic

Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

There are some old sayings that are just that – old. Take, for instance, Dorothy Parker’s famous 1937 saying, “Men don’t make passes at girls in glasses.” That is all history as the coolest ones are proudly sporting the four-eyed look. Yes wearing specs is not geeky anymore, for the much-despised “plain glass” spectacles have now become a “must have” fashion accessory. Think of the divinely delicious Johnny Depp trotting the red carpet and you know for sure the nerd has just turned into a fashion icon.


Also, the new groups of wearers are being dubbed “suspecs”. A study by YouGov for Vision Express found that almost one in ten 18-24 year-olds had admitted buying them. The celebs responsible for the revolution are Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johanssen, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Radcliffe’s portrayal of Harry Potter, the bespectacled boy wizard.

Go-Buy-Now-Round-SunglassesIn fact guys are more open to accessorizing these days be it watches, shoes, jewelry or belts. “Eyewear is an easy way to accessorize and it really changes your look. The most faddish look in young (and not so young) professionals eyewear right now is retro ’60s style: bold, heavy-rimmed and plastic,” says accessory designer and sales manager, Deepika Verma, working at an optometrist store in Dundas.  

82306544VA126_Carolina_Herr“It is encouraging to see that the introduction of style has had a huge and positive impact on people’s perceptions. There is a real sense that eyewear can boost your confidence and your desirability today – both to potential partners and to potential employers. The world has turned on its head in the last ten years and the message is that rather than being a hindrance, glasses are in fact a clear advantage,” she added. A study showed that 53 per cent of glasses-wearing women aged 18 to 44 had received amorous approaches from men.

Here’s how to match frames with different face shapes:

robert-pattinson-sunglasses-and-tuxOval: The oval face is considered the ideal shape because of its balanced proportions and because it’s the standard of beauty. Therefore it is perhaps the easiest to choose frames for. To keep the oval’s natural balance, look for spectacle frames / glasses that are as wide as the broadest part of the face or walnut-shaped spectacle frames that are not too deep or too narrow. Almost any style is suitable; round, oval or angular.

Round: A round face has curvilinear lines with the width and length in the same proportions and no angles. To make the face appear thinner and longer, try angular narrow spectacle frames / glasses to lengthen the face. Choose spectacle frames / glasses that are distinctive, square with designs that accentuate the upper part of face. Look for frames with high temples.

VictoriaSquare: A square face has a strong jawline and a broad forehead. The width and length are in the same proportions. To make the square face look longer and soften the angles, try narrow, soft round or large ovals spectacle frames / glasses styles, spectacle frames / glasses that have more width than depth and narrow ovals.

Long face: A long face is characterised by high cheek-bones, a deep forehead and a strongly defined sharp chin line. This shape can benefit from enhancing the width of the face so try wide, large framed glasses in oval or round styles.

So be it big, dark, oval, hexagonal or rimless, glasses are here to stay. And with funky designs hitting the market, pick up a pair and sport them in style.



Author: Ramya Bajaj Maheshwary

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Just the TWO of YOU

Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

As I walked into Toronto Congress Centre this Sunday, I was completely taken aback by flashy dressing gowns – both for men and women – glittery make ups, décor that blew you away, awesome birthday cakes, sweets that you might never have seen before, amazing videos, gorgeous photographs of brides and grooms, DJs a lot more. It was one stop shop for the wedding and was acknowledged as much. “Instead of being in Milton, Mississauga, Toronto, Brampton and Vaughn, I could just be here” one young man told me, applauding the organizers.

Decor 3

Dress 2Well ladies, what was extraordinary about this wedding show was that red – the traditional bridal dress – had taken a back seat and other colours had taken its place. And men were much more into gaudy sherwanis for their weddings: the reason obviously being the fact that you will be married once only.


Alfaan and ZahraaWhat stood out most was the crowd of course. The air was filled with enthusiasm of energetic young people who were either dating, engaged or planning their wedding – a year ahead of when it was actually gonna happen. These smart, beautiful and intelligent people were willing to spend anywhere from $15,000 – $100,000 on their big day. At the same time they were aware that they would probably go over their budget. One thing that was absolutely important to most of these people was a gorgeous banquet hall where they would get married – preferably a non-desi place – but that did not always materialize.

Ankit - title 2Another general impression among people was that there should not be weeks of wedding, instead one grand reception. They insisted that South Asian community should get rid of mayoons, mehndis, and what not and look forward to one reception where they do everything…mayoon, mehndi, bridal shower, singing, dancing, rukhsati, walima and so on.

Amit Modhi and Vibhuti Sharma made a gorgeous couple, however they are not married. Amit said “we’re getting there.” They had “knack for fashion,” so they were checking out fashion for brides and grooms. Vibhuti was willing to spend $10,000 on a dress because, well, of course “it’s her dress.” Amit’s sister is about to be married and they are looking to spend $50,000-$70,000 on this wedding. For Vibhuti, her wedding “has to be designed by herself.” So, the location –the banquet hall – is of utmost importance. The couple was disappointed by the lack of promotion of the event in the South Asian community in the event in press, radio and TV ads. Wedding day, she said, “should be about two of them.”

AnnuAnkit was completely flustered by my questions, however he answered them patiently. He would spend $75,000 on a wedding. On his wedding gown, he would spend $5,000 “for a designer suit,” he added quickly.  

Saira, who was window shopping for her brother’s marriage, said that she had never thought of the give-away gifts for guests until she came to this wedding show. The banquet hall was a priority for Saira and her brother Bilal. The bride-to-be, Aiza, wanted to spend money on decorations – non desi – she emphasized. Why? There was well no answer to that.

Renu and Monica, the chartered accountants, felt that photography is the single most important thing for anyone’s wedding as “you get married once only and you want to capture the best moments of your life.”

Ishita 2Alfaan and Zahra are getting married next summer in July. Zahra is planning to spend no more than $1,500 on her wedding dress. Alfaan is totally supporting her on this. Zahra thinks that they need to start planning for wedding right now. There estimate, according to Alfaan, for the wedding cost so far has been $22,000 each with “ a little bit of help from our parents.”

Saima, who has been married for nine years, sort of regretted that all this was not available at the time of her wedding. Shazia feels that even if it is recession, “there are people out there who have a lot to spend on.” Saima gives and advice to bride-to-bes. Do not spend more than $1,000 on the wedding dress. “You can dress up with the simplest of the dress. It depends on you,” she says. If she had to do her wedding all over again, she would spend lavishly on décor and food. For Shazia it would be “myself.”

Sabeen, Naureen, AshleyPaul was there “to check out what kinds of designs are out there for suits,” and he cares because “money comes out of his pocket.” Jokingly he said “girls can go up to whatever [amount] they want, it’s us who have to put our foot down.” Arun was with him and together they were getting ideas of “what not to do” in a wedding, and that was “not spend too much.” “Food and video” have lasting impressions on people, so we would spend on that, they agreed.

Naureen, who is getting married next year, was a bit disappointed with kinds of dresses that were available. She did not see very heavy typical wedding dresses on various boutique outlets.





Sweet 1Dress 3Renu and Monica










          Wedding Check List

  • Wedding Planner
  • Banquet Hall
  • Making Guest List
  • Wording of Invitation cards
  • Getting invitation cards published
  • Banquet Hall Décor
  • Bride’s dress
  • Bride’s makeup and mehndi
  • Bride’s shoes
  • Groom’s gown
  • Groom’s makeup
  • Groom’s shoes
  • Bridesmaid’s dress and accessories
  • The Best man’s dress and accessories
  • DJ
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Food
  • Wedding Cake
  • Sweets
  • Give-away gifts


Author:Harminer Kaur

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Terrence Lewis- One of the Best Choreographers known to Bollywood

Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

“I love attention, I always want to be the centre of it, I want all spotlights on me,” says Terrence Lewis, a ladies man, a charmer, and a passionate dancer. Being inspired by all of his teachers, he started off his career in his early teens; Terrence wanted to always be involved within the dancing industry. His brother used to make fun of his dancing ambitions saying, “you are going to go out there and shake your leg,” but that did not stop him from pursuing his dream.

Terrence Lewis 001Originally from Bombay, Terrence refers to himself as a “Bombay Boy”. At a young age, his dance teacher was not satisfied with his performance and believed that Terrence had more talent than he was working on and motivated him to work harder.

Taking formal training at the age of 13, he first started taking Jazz and Ballet classes and fell in love with it. Even though he was a passionate dancer, this did not stop Terrence from completing his education, he completed his degree in microbiology and biochemistry. Terrence used to sneak behind his parents back during his studying time to learn Kathak dancing since watching Madhuri Dixit in Bollywood movies inspired him. Being from a middle class family, Terrence knew he had to help out his parents in some way since his dad was not able to support all eight children. He started teaching Kathak dancing on the side in order to support the family.

Not knowing at the time that dancing was going to become his career, Terrence took the opportunity to become a hotel manager for three years. After receiving a placement, Terrence rejected the offer and then realized that dancing was going to become his career. Learning from his failures and his successes, Terence took all of his experiences in life and kept working to become one of the best choreographers known within Bollywood. “When I teach I realize that I become better. I used to go into the railway station and see how people move so I could make it artistic and form into dance moves”.

Terrence Lewis 013Terrence did not become what he is over night. He realized after many opportunities that he still wanted to dance and train. “I met an African American teacher from America in Bombay who had done “hot and style technique,” also known as contemporary and introduced it to me for the first time”. After attending the workshop of this individual, Terrence was then told he needed to study abroad because there was no chance for him to grow in India. Taking a loan from his brother, Terrence studied in America and gained knowledge and experience of how big companies run. He came back to Bombay with the mindset of being just like those companies. “I came back and scouted for dancers from colleges and started training them and giving them introduction to dances like ballet and jazz, which was difficult since all of them were into Bhangra, Punjabi, and Bollywood. They were all beautiful dancers but training them was the hardest part”. After expanding his company, performing for shows and then moving his choreography into Bollywood movies, Terrence expanded over time landing himself into one of the most watched dance shows, “Dance India Dance”.

Most South Asian parents want their children to be doctors or lawyers, so did Terrence’s as well. But at the end of the day he wanted to wake up to something that he loved doing, “I did not want to wake up to something saying oh my God I have to do this, I wanted to get up with a smile, I wanted to live my life.”

Lastly, we got an insight of what Terrence feels is missing amongst youth of today. “I wouldn’t say they are lacking in anything, but they need to be inspired”. “I think all of us at every point in time need to be inspired, we need more role models and that is what is lacking”. According to Terrence the problem lies within adults for not being good role models. Terence would say, “Be a role model for yourself first, live your dream first and be a role model for your kid yourself and I think everything will be fine”. Terrence agrees that youth are spoiled these days but “you should just give them enough for them to rise on their feet, if you give them too much then you make them dependent, being independent is important”. 

Author:Kiran Takrani

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Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

What to Do After a Layoff?

Step 1 Do Not Panic! The first thing to do is take a deep breath and realize you will be okay. Say a prayer. Now let’s get to work.


 Step 2 Talk to any contacts or friends that you may have. If you do not have any friends yet and no contacts either, then you can ask questions about employment opportunities in online forums, chat rooms and other resources that focus around employment.

 Step 3 Find Unemployment Office – You can file today at this office and usually it will take 2 weeks to get approved. Fill out the answers correctly.

Step 4 Temporary Agency – Locate the phone number to these places and see if you can apply online. Apply with them quickly so you can get on the waiting list before everyone else.

job_fairStep 5 Employment Insurance – You will need to know the guidelines for assistance. You may be able to qualify for cash and food assistance based upon your income. This is not the time to look at this as a *Hand Out*. When you were working, you paid taxes out of your paycheck, at the store, on your mortgage, getting gas, and everything else.

Step 6 Recruiting Centres – They will have a lot of information on jobs and workshops. If there is a church near you who has a group for laid off workers join it quickly. Visit recruiting offices such as Manpower, BlueSky Personnel Solutions, Iron Ring Staffing Solutions, and a variety of others within the city. Recruiting offices will be able to assess your skills and place you in a job that will match your skills.

Step 7 There are many employers who will hire you for a job if you need money within the next two weeks (You should still have at least one paycheck coming). If not, ask if you can be a delivery driver. You will wake up at the crack of dawn but you will have some income.

cover600spanStep 8 Go to Job Fairs. Sometimes the wealth of information is available there. Here you can meet up with potential employers and even if there is no positive answer for you, you will know what kinds of abilities are they looking for. You can then upgrade your qualifications accordingly.

Step 9 Online job sites – There are many job sites. Look for the ones in your field and those whom have multi-career databases(e.g. Monster, Career Builders, and Yahoo Jobs). If you need a job quickly, apply for at least 3-5 jobs per day.

How to Get References after Layoff:

Step 1 Usually employers want a reference from your past manager or supervisor. Contact them to ask if they will write a reference for you. If they decline or have also been laid off ask them whom you can contact for a letter of employment ending due to layoff. Many employers will accept this as a reference.

us-layoff-job-cutStep 2 You will need to obtain their name, preferred business title, address, work and home phone number, and e-mail address. When you receive a written reference, scan in the letter so you can upload it quickly when applying for jobs.

Step 3 haracter references are also accepted and can come from your place of volunteer work, a mentor, colleague, or professional friend. You should seek advice on websites to refer them to if they have not written a reference letter.

Step 4 Verify your references have good things to say about your work style and environment. They should be positive concerning your method of leading and directing projects.

Step 5 This is another plug for volunteering. Many times your past colleagues do not know your individual management styles. Volunteering to lead projects allows others to see your commitment to tasks and responsibilities. Do not think that volunteering cannot take you up to the right place.

With files from

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Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

    Pakistan’s return to democracy with the February 2008 general elections was marked by much fanfare of triumph and a strong expectation that Pakistan would enter the era of people’s oriented governance.

Unlike the earlier phase of democracy, 1988-1999, the government and the opposition have kept their conflicts within manageable limits. Despite the periodic use of tough rhetoric against each other, they have not allowed their differences to cross the point of no return. The government has not so far used the state apparatus to harass the opposition or stifle the media. 

    However, there are several troubling signs which raise doubts about the viability of the present political order and show streaks of incoherence and anarchy.

         Four inter-related factors threaten the future of democracy.  These are mis-governance by the government, the opposition perception that the failure of the government improves the prospects of the opposition to assume power, a sustained political campaign to malign the government as well as discredit the political class, and an over-active and over-confident judiciary stepping frequently in the executive and legislative domains.

      The federal government performance in addressing economic problems of the people has been a major disappointment. The latest sugar crisis has shown that the federal and provincial governments are unable to persuade the sugar industry owners to bring sugar to the market in the required quantity and at affordable prices.  Price hikes of food items and other essential commodities are another issue that exposed the ineffectiveness of the government.     

    The perception of ineffectiveness of the government has caused much alienation among the common people who feel that democratic leadership cannot deliver any services to them.

  The perception of in-efficacy of the government encouraged various groups and individuals to use strong arms tactics to get their way.  Some elements among the lawyers use violence or threat thereof to pressure the police and lower courts. There are complaints against some parliamentarians, especially those belonging to the PMLN, of the use of abusive language or violence to pursue their individual agendas.   Various groups resort to street protests for minor issues. The most common tactics is to block traffic on main road crossings or on highways rather than to hold negotiations for settling their affairs.

   The pressure on the current democratic processes is also being built by those who have no stake in the political system. The Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf did not contest the 2008 elections and now want this system to collapse so that they can try their luck in the new election.

      The PMLN is happy that the PPP is losing popular support.  The PMLN is hoping that there would be mid-term elections and that they would sweep the elections in the Punjab.    

    The PMLN expects to rule at the federal level on the basis of its expected support in the Punjab. It wants to win most seats in the Punjab, like the 1997 elections, and rope in some smaller groups and independents from other provinces to set up the new government.  As the PMLN’s pivot of power will be located in the Punjab, its rule may build resentment in other provinces. The PMLN should devote more attention to building its support in other provinces.

   There is a subtle campaign in the media to malign civilian political leadership. Some media stories of corruption have focused on President Asif Ali Zardari. Stories are floating in the media that the military wants to get rid of Zardari. The talk of Minus One Formula focuses on Zardari. The opposition leaders are  also targeted in anti-political leader campaign.  There appears to be a conscious effort to malign Nawaz Sharif and some other opposition leaders.   Some people argue that the military and intelligence forces want to weaken the position of the top civilian leaders.  If the government did not complete full or most of its term and if there is an attempt to exclude political leaders from the political process, the current democratic system will not endure

Another threat to the future of the present civilian institutional arrangements comes from overstepping into the executive domain too frequently. This discredits the political leadership and builds tension between the judiciary on the one hand and the executive and legislature on the other. If this conflict crosses the limits it can contribute to instability and anarchy.

     Political incoherence and anarchy is likely to shift the balance of power in the political system in favour of the military and intelligence services. However, they will find it extremely difficult to cope with the troubled situation at a time when they are deeply involved in security operation against the terrorists in the tribal areas.  The military should continue to focus on this threat rather than toying with some ideas on direct or indirect political role.

rizvi_Web Author: Hasan Askari

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Unimportance of being Dr Khan

Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

            Zulfikar Ali Bhutto meant every syllable when he responded to India’s 1974 nuclear test saying, “We will eat grass but produce the bomb.” He was the one who picked up the then unknown Dr A.Q. Khan who, at that time, had been rejected by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies as an insignificant scientist.

  For Khan to now bite the hand that gave him all the money and facilities to produce the bomb, propelling him on to the centre stage of the scientific world, is the height of ingratitude. True, he did an outstanding job in producing the deterrent for which he earned his laurels from Pakistan and, if my information is right, tens of millions of dollars.

“We will eat grass but produce the bomb” – Zulfiqar A. Bhutto

“We will eat grass but produce the bomb” – Zulfiqar A. Bhutto

But Khan should not forget that he was a part of the process and an employee of the Pakistan government. One may disagree with Islamabad’s strategy to dispatch him with his plans and materials relating to the bomb to each of Libya, North Korea, Iran and China, but it is hardly Khan’s business to denounce his mentors after the assignments.

            It is apparent that Pakistan did all this to boost its standing in the Islamic world and also convey to the West that it needs to be counted among the important countries. India has every right to accuse Islamabad of proliferating nuclear know-how to all and sundry, something that Pakistan has all along denied in the strongest terms. Nevertheless, the underlying motive in Islamabad’s controversial policy has been to win recognition. It was also a question of prestige for a country which is otherwise counted among the world’s failed states.

            Probably, it’s time that the world should take notice of Pakistan’s efforts to attract attention and avoid being sidelined. This will mean that instead of treating it as a pariah, Islamabad should be associated with the efforts that the world powers, including India, are making to reduce the dangers of nuclear war. The fact that Pakistan is a nuclear power cannot and should not be denied. In that respect, it belongs to a very exclusive international club and should be given its due accordingly.

            If this line is pursued it may deter Pakistan from engaging in further proliferation. The greatest danger is that nuclear know-how may reach the hands of Islamic radicals who dictate the agenda of such feared groups as the Taliban and Al-Qaida. Someone like Osama Bin Laden would love to get his hands on the nuclear trigger. Without the active participation of Pakistan this danger cannot be averted.

            The publication of Khan’s letter to his wife, confirming his role in exporting bomb technology, is not Islamabad’s doing. This leak is despite the best efforts of Pakistan’s intelligence experts to prevent any embarrassment to the rulers of Pakistan. Khan’s problem is his supercharged ego. He craves attention and recognition again and again for “his exploits.”

            By feeding his ego, I was able to make him admit that “Pakistan has the bomb.” When I told him way back in 1987 that Pakistan had neither the men nor the material to make the bomb, I hurt his sense of self-importance, provoking him to hit the roof and respond: “We have it, we have it.” I had to concoct the remark about Pakistan’s inability because until then I was going round and round the same point without getting the confirmation about Pakistan’s nuclear status.

            The interview which yielded the confirmation about Pakistan’s nuclear achievement was carried out in the presence of Mushahid Hussain, the then Editor of The Muslim, who had facilitated the meeting over a cup of tea and a slice of cake prepared by Khan’s South African-Dutch wife Henny.

            Our conversation lasted for about 45 minutes. When questioned about it afterwards, Khan claimed our encounter had been purely a social call. This was also the gist of his subsequent complaint to the British Press Council which responded in its verdict, “We have no reason to disbelieve Mr Kuldip Nayar’s version.”

            Khan could have avoided all the song and drama of denying the interview and then complaining to the British Press Council, if he had simply kept his ego in check. When I told him that he was the only scientist in the subcontinent who had a Ph.D both in metallurgy and physics, he nodded and smiled before commenting, “You know this is all my doing without any foreign assistance.”

            The place where we were sitting was the drawing-cum-dining room of Khan’s residence, overlooking the Murree hills and a ravine. I found the room over-clogged with furniture, but the walls were bare. During our conversation, he got up and brought out some certificates, again to underline his scientific expertise. I could see that he had been given a brief and told not to deviate from that. Yet, in his effort to impress, he spilled the beans. The more he talked, the more I could see the apprehension on Mushahid’s face and his unspoken hope that Khan would stop.

Dr. Qadeer Khan

Dr. Qadeer Khan

            What Khan is doing now goes against the grain of the newly-elected democratic government which is trying to distance itself from the inglorious past of military adventurism. The Asif Zardari government wants to convey the image of being a responsible and stable country that can be relied upon to participate fully in the international system.

            No doubt, there are still many elements which encourage obscurantism, including an anti-India bias. New Delhi should understand this and give space to the new government. The 26/11 tragedy and the slow response in pursuing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks continue to nourish doubts in the minds of Indians. The reality is that there is no alternative. Holding a dialogue or talking to Pakistan does not mean that New Delhi is compromising on the basics. But it does strengthen the elected government in Islamabad to make a bolder departure from the past.

            Bhopal-born Khan’s antics should not come in the way of rapprochement between the two countries. President Zardari has said that Pakistan will never allow its soil to be used against India. New Delhi should put more reliance on his words. Maybe, in this context we can pursue with Islamabad the activities of Lashkar-e-Toibba and Jamaat-ud-Da’wa against India as well as the raids which Hafiz Mohammed Saeed’s men are guiding from the Pakistani soil.

            That the disclosure of Khan has divulged deep connections between Pakistan and China is disconcerting because it confirms that Beijing’s policy is to dominate South Asia. The way out is to wean away Pakistan from China or, at least, make Islamabad realize that its partnership in South Asia is more valuable than China’s ambitions. Persons like Khan only spoil things and too much importance should not be attached to them.



  Author: Kuldeep Nayar

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If You Are Ready To Quit Smoking – We Can Help!

Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

As of January 21, 2009, it is illegal to smoke in motor vehicles where passengers under 16 years old are present. The medical science is clear — second-hand smoke is dangerous to our children. For many smokers this is another good reason to quit. 

quit_smokingThe new law is part of the Ontario government’s Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, a plan that encourages young people not to smoke, helps smokers quit, and protects people from exposure to second-hand smoke.

As most of you already know and those who have tried to quit, smoking is one of the toughest addictions to break. No one said quitting is easy, but campaigns like the National Non-Smoking Week help to make it possible.

For over 30 years, the third week in January has been known as National Non-Smoking Week, and every year there is a new theme.  This year’s theme is: “What have you got to lose?”  And really, if you are a smoker who wants to quit, what have you got to lose by taking that next step to quit? 

In fact, there is more support for smokers who want to quit today than ever before.

One example is the Smokers’ Helpline service.  Funded by the Ontario government, and operated by the Ontario division of the Canadian Cancer Society, it provides free, confidential advice, information and quit support.

For smokers who want to buy nicotine replacement therapies they no longer have to pay provincial retail sales tax.

Then there is the very popular Driven to Quit Challenge, for those who want an added incentive to quit – like a chance to win a car.  The province has once again partnered with the Ontario Division of the Canadian Cancer Society to give smokers that very chance if they can kick their habit for the month of March.

Thanks to the STOP Study ( smokers will also have access to free counselling and nicotine replacement therapies to help make kicking the habit even easier.

Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in Ontario.   Every year, 13,000 Ontarians die because of tobacco use. That is 36 lives every day.  I sincerely hope that smokers take advantage of the opportunities to quit, and take that next step towards a healthy life.   After all, what have you got to lose?  

Margarett_Best   Author: Honourable Margarett Best, Ontario Minister of Health Promotion, represents Scarborough – Guildwood in Ontario Legislature

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We’re working hard to make South Asians part of Conservative Party:MP Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to Minster of Foreign Affairs

Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

MP Deepak Obhrai from Calgary East, Alberta, is a well known figure of South Asian community. Even as a Conservative he has earned respect of South Asians of GTA.

He was first elected in the House of Commons in 1997. He, then, gradually built his base, winning hearts of 67 per cent voters of his riding. Currently, MP Obhrai serves as a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Asia-Pacific and Africa), Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and at several other important positions.


After the Mumbai attacks, Mr. Obhrai made a statement in the Parliament “On behalf of the Government and people of Canada I stand today to condemn, in the strongest terms, the deplorable terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.  The use of violence and terror against innocent civilians is appalling and must not be tolerated. 

Canada stands united with India against all forms of terrorism.  The ties that bind our two countries are strong and these attacks have only strengthened our resolve to continue working together for the mutual security and prosperity of our peoples. 

Nov 26th attacks on Mumbai have shaken the entire international community. The Indian and Pakistani media continues to trade blames with one another while the two governments attempt to work together to find the killers under the pressure of international community.

Mr. Obhrai told Generation Next “the killing of innocent people, whether it happens in India or Pakistan, is loss of life, so it’s important for the both governments – Indian and Pakistani – to work together. This business of killing people should come to the end.”

Mr. Obhrai notes that “We ‘re working with both the governments. To Pakistan, we have provided humanitarian assistance and we work behind the scenes with our NATO allies to ensure that the government of Pakistan is able to handle this (terrorism) threat, and at the same time we do that with India also. We work with both forces. In Sri Lanka, we will be calling on the Sri Lankan government to ensure that all have voice in the process.”

His expectations from the Tamil community in Canada are that “Now that the war looks like coming to the end, we want to ensure that the old grievances are taken into consideration so people don’t return to the war.”

In the last few years, the number of people killed in terrorist attacks has increased. Many analysts believe that the root cause of this increase is lack of opportunities, education, and justice in the societies where radical elements flourish. Even now people are turning to the Shariah courts set up by Taliban because the mainstream court system has failed the people. Unfortunately much of this is happening in the Muslim world.

Mr. Obhrai feels that “The first and the foremost, whether it is the matter of the Muslim world or not, is  you want to make sure that radical elements are marginalized completely. That is the key element. They propagate narrow kind of thinking. First of all we have to tell them to cut out the killing of innocent people; killing doesn’t help anyone. Once they are marginalized, we can get back to the main role.  We’re sending money to refuge camps supporting Palestinian authorities, supporting humanitarian assistance to Gaza, we’re also assisting in development projects in Pakistan.” MP Obhrai makes a valid point that when people will have something to lose, they will work hard to ensure that there is peace and stability. When people have education, jobs, good life, “they will look forward to marginalizing radicals.” Opportunities, education, jobs, fairness in the society, justice are keys to the stable society and “we recognize that” he adds.  

Although Canada is working very hard to help Afghans at variety of different levels, the picture of Afghanistan is far from satisfactory. However Canadian government has pledged that its combat troops will leave Afghanistan in 2011.

Mr. Obhrai pointed out “You have to understand what’s going on in Afghanistan. We’re training Afghan army to take care of their own country. They’re fighting with us. This is work in process and a lot of progress is being made behind the scenes.”

Nonetheless there are serious challenges such as cultural problems, lack of resources and so on. The check posts built in the secure areas of Afghanistan cannot check documentation of Afghans crossing border to Pakistan every evening as there is flood of people crossing the border. Stopping each one can result in huge uproar and anger among people who have moved back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan for centuries.

MP Obhrai agrees. “True. We’re working with both governments so that they have resources to do that. I have  attended a conference with regional actors” who voiced their concerns. These regional actors are “China, Iran, India and Pakistan.” The general feeling as also stated by him is “A stable Afghanistan, a stable Pakistan and a stable India are necessary to create peace and stability” in the region.

Mr. Obhrai says that “Economic crisis may stop temporary workers from coming to Canada for the time being. But we do need immigrants in this country. This year 265,000 permanent residents would come to Canada,” which is higher than last year.

But how are these permanent residents going to get jobs when there are stories of lay offs every day?

According to MP Obhrai “We’ve to look at the long term sustainability. The economic downturn will put a dent to it, but it’s another issue, and we expect to come out of recession as soon as possible.”

MP Obhrai proudly talked about the South Asian community which is doing extremely well in England in the US and in Canada. He feels that they are well tuned to integrate in the Canadian society. For the incidents of child abuse and honour killings, “We’ve laws here.”However “we need role models in this country,” he says.  MP Obhrai is clearly one role model for South Asian youth in Canada.  He goes to schools to teach children how democracy works and finds multiculturalism an asset, an asset that is reflected in the education system.

The natural transition for the South Asians would be to join Conservative party when they come to Canada as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are fairly conservative countries. MP Obhrai reminds that “more South Asians ran from the Conservative Party’s platform than the Liberal Party.” He says he is “working hard to make South Asians become part of mosaic of Conservative party.”

MP Obhrai avoided making any comment about how he views Mr. Michael Ignatiff, the Liberal Part y Leader, except that “I’m in opposition; don’t ask me.”  


 Author: Asma Amanat

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Why I’m voting with Stephen Harper

Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

Last Tuesday, after speaking to students at Queen’s University, a young woman approached me with a question. She told me her father was a forestry worker who had been laid off after more than 20 years with the same company in Thunder Bay. Her family was devastated and it looked like she would not be able to continue her education. They eventually scraped enough money together for her fall semester, but her further studies are in doubt. Her question to me was: what I could do — what could New Democrats do — to help her dad and others like him?


I’ve heard many such stories, some with tragic ends. People lose hope.

My party began calling for significant Employment Insurance reform well before this year’s budget. In the spring session, we presented a carefully considered motion to reform EI that earned the support of a majority of the House of Commons. It suggested the elimination of the two-week period that forces workers to wait for benefits to kick in, uniform national qualifying hours, allowing self-employed workers to participate, raising the wage replacement rate from 55 to 60 per cent, and making it easier for workers to get training.

The Conservatives refused to make any of these changes. To win the support of Liberals, Mr. Harper offered a blue ribbon panel on EI that decided nothing and fell apart when Mr. Ignatieff said he was ready for an election.

Meanwhile, the OECD forecasts that Canada’s unemployment rate will soon hit 10 per cent. The Canadian Payroll Association’s recent survey showed that more than half of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque.

For many, a long, hard winter now beckons. Job losses are expected to continue until next spring. Our party represents many who will suffer most. In forestry, mining and manufacturing communities, hard-working Canadians are asking for our help.

Last week, Mr. Harper put a $1-billion proposal on the table to extend benefits for long-tenured workers. Workers who have claimed less than 36 weeks of benefits in the last five years will be eligible for an extension of benefits of between five and 20 weeks.

The Conservatives claim this reform will help 190,000 Canadians. There is some debate about the numbers, but what is clear is that this winter, without extended benefits, tens of thousands of Canadians will slide off EI and onto welfare.

The choice before New Democrats is simple: We can direct nearly $1 billion to families in desperate need or waste $300 million on an election.

 This new reform falls far short in many ways. It doesn’t cut waiting periods, increase benefits or create uniform access across the country. We are under no illusions that this bill fixes the major problems in the EI system. We will continue to work for further changes to EI. In fact, we have a dozen proposed laws before the House that would improve other elements of the existing system.

But my party cannot, in good conscience, vote down legislation that is a step in the right direction.

How would I be able to look that young woman in the eye? What would our MP, Claude Gravelle, say to the thousands of laid-off miners in his riding of Nickel Belt? What would our MPs in Thunder Bay, rural B.C. and Southern Ontario say?

Reluctant as we might be to extend the life of the Harper minority, ensuring that this money gets to the people who are in desperate straits is the right thing to do.

But make no mistake: we are supporting this EI proposal, not this government.

Jack Layton  

Author: Jack Layton is the leader of New Democratic Party.

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Beginning of the End of an Era

Posted on 30 September 2009 by .

Toronto Mayor David Miller has ended all speculation by stating that he would not be running for the third term next year. His announcement was also attended by his son who was tearful. Mayor Miller was choked with emotion while making his decision known to  public, especially when he said that he was raised by a single mother.


He said he was giving up his position because of his family. He has two children: Simon, 12, and Julia, 14. Mayor Miller noted that if he succeeded in gaining another mayoral victory, his daughter would be in university and his son would be graduating from high school in 2014. 

In his statement, Mr. Miller said:

“After my re-election in 2006, I came to a difficult realization. Both of my children were born after I was first elected in 1994. When I was a councillor, the demands on me and my family were significant. After my election as mayor, the pressures on me as a father and a husband became immense.”

“And I realized then that were I to be re-elected in 2010 and serve until 2014, my daughter would be in university and my son would be about to graduate from high school. This would not allow me ever to have been there for them in the way they deserve.”

Mayor Miller had come to Canada as a young boy who was torn between ‘soccer’ and ‘hockey’. His mother was an English teacher in England, however here in Canada, she could not teach because of her lack of “Canadian experience.” He acknowledges that he was “equivalent to being a geek.” The sentiments, or must I say, ambition turned into being one of the leaders of the city. In 2003, he came and blew away the mayoral elections. In his second mayoral competition, he easily beat his opponent. However he had said that to bring the real change, there is a need for the Mayor, well, to be Mayor – thrice.

Perhaps his ambition was checked by the recent union strike that lingered a little too long and did little to help the city’s finances. Then there was a controversy that had to do with “green bins.”

Having said that, after meeting and greeting with Mayor Miller, one gets an impression that Mr. Miller is a deeply spiritual person who believes in the power of nature. He tried to make use of positive forces of nature to improve Toronto’s economy. Indeed, when my reporter friend showed me paper presentations of one of the press briefings she had attended at Mayor Miller’s office, it was all about green jobs, green economy or some other green thing; and how property taxes are lower in Toronto than neighbouring cities such as  Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Caledon and so on.

This weekend’s papers were flooded with Mayor Miller’s success and failure stories, about the potential candidates for the next year’s Mayoral elections; what challenges would the next challengers be taking up, and his city councillors were saying about him especially when he did not entertain city councillor’s pay freeze idea very seriously.  Some stories talked about his left, right, centrist policies and so on. I wonder why a diverse city such as Toronto has to be looked upon as leftist, rightist or centrist. It felt like watching msnbc where you are in favour of President Obama or you are a Republican. Aren’t there moderates in biggest North American cities anymore, I wonder?

Almost every story cherished and chastised him at the same time. None could say whether he has accomplished what he had set out for in 2003, but all these stories implicated that the projects Mr. Miller had launched and initiated did not bear fruit – yet. They were long term projects with long term goals.

Perhaps that is why Mr. Miller said:

“I have accomplished what I set out to do. And so if I ran again, it would be about me and my electoral success and not about the Toronto I love.

In 2006, I ran with an ambitious agenda to transform Toronto for the 21st century. It was called Toronto 2010. Today every major policy that was at the foundation of my campaign has been accomplished or is well under way.”

And how does our Mayor think about the second largest visible minority in GTA. This is an excerpt of his interview with Generation Next almost a year ago:

“South Asians are very much involved in the political process. They think very politically. Like every newcomer community, South Asians face similar challenges and it takes time to build networks where you can find out about how to put your children in sports club or in music classes. I find South Asians to be very energetic, passionate and the ones who are willing to take risks. It brings incredible energy to Toronto and South Asians have tremendously added to it.”



  Author: Rahul Mehta

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