Archive | Canadian Politics

20-YEAR PLAN NEEDED TO FIX CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE, SAYS BRAMPTON

Posted on 21 November 2012 by admin

BRAMPTON, ON – With the federal government wrapping up nearly six months of consultations on its long-term infrastructure plan, the City of Brampton is backing the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) proposal that says Canada needs a 20-year plan with predictable funding to fix its crumbling infrastructure.

That’s the message delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on November 13 as it released its recommendations on the Government of Canada’s long term infrastructure plan.

“A long-term federal funding commitment that reflects the life-cycles of the infrastructure it is meant to fix is needed to allow municipalities to invest wisely and strategically in priority areas over decades, not just years,” said FCM president, Councillor Karen Leibovici. “It also means breaking away from budgets built on application forms and providing a predictable funding envelope for all municipalities.”

Mayor Susan Fennell and Councillor Vicky Dhillon will be in Ottawa November 14-15 for FCM’s “Big City Mayors’ Caucus” meeting. Mayor Susan Fennell is the Ontario Caucus Chair and Member of the FCM Executive. Councillor Dhillion was recently appointed by the FCM president to the Standing Committees for the 2012-2013 term.

“Local governments own more than 60 per cent of Canada’s core economic infrastructure – roads, bridges, water systems and public transit support new jobs and growth, and much of it is in critical need of repair,” said Mayor Susan Fennell.

 The City of Brampton has identified approximately $300 million in infrastructure deficit, and $40 million for the construction of the new Peel Memorial Hospital.

The Federation says the inefficiencies and uncertainty resulting from application-based programs is even more acute for smaller and rural communities that do not have the staff resources of larger municipalities.

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Canada-India trade links must come faster: Stephen Harper

Posted on 15 November 2012 by admin

BANGALORE, India — Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared Thursday that India’s democratic system is partly responsible for the slow pace of change as Canada tries to boost trade ties with the South Asian giant.

Harper made the comments at a news conference as he neared the end of a trip to India, during which the focus was on fostering better political relations and increasing bilateral trade and investment.

Canada wants to sign a free trade deal with India next year and reach a pact that will gave legal protections to Canadian business people who invest in India. Progress on both those fronts has been slow.

Harper indicated Thursday he was frustrated, but understands the limits on India’s government.

“I think I am very clear that we need to go farther and faster,” he said.

Harper met India’s senior leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose coalition government is only shaky ground and has appeared paralyzed by an inability to get opposition consent for economic reforms to allow more foreign investment.

“What we do have to realize when we deal with India, as opposed to some other countries that we’re dealing with in the developing world – this country is a democracy,” said Harper.

“And that means that governments cannot simply dictate a whole set of policy changes to happen the next day. That means governments must develop consensus behind policy changes. And that, in this country is not easy. We understand that.”

“At the same time I’m also a believer that although democracy can slow things down from time to time, in the long term, democracy produces more robust consensus. That means better things for the long-term trajectory.”

Harper said he believes the Singh government sincerely wants to expand foreign trade and that it is clear that “Canada is a top priority in that regard.”

He said it wasn’t always that way, insisting that when he replaced the governing Liberals in office in 2006, Canada-India relations were “frozen”.

Harper wants to boost Canada-India bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2015.

“I think we’re making significant progress.”

During his trip, Harper delivered a speech at the World Economic Forum in New Delhi in which he urged India to strike a free trade agreement with Canada.

Harper noted that the two countries have now reached deals to allow the export of Canadian uranium for the Indian nuclear power industry, as well as a pact that makes it easier for people to work temporarily in each country.

Meanwhile, after eight years of negotiations, the countries are still toiling away behind the scenes on an agreement to give investors legal protections — with no clue of when — or if — a deal will be successfully reached.

Perhaps most importantly, Harper has publicly committed his government to reach a comprehensive free trade agreement with India sometime in 2013.

There have been five rounds of talks, with the next negotiating session set to occur next week in Ottawa.

In his Wednesday speech to the Forum, Harper attached a sense of urgency to the negotiations.

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Conservatives for Small, Responsible Government

Posted on 15 November 2012 by admin

We don’t want our students to work for Microsoft; we want Ontario’s students to build the next Microsoft – MPP Christian Elliott

In recent days, the writing on the wall has been clear. That the South Asian community of the GTA is looking elsewhere from Liberals. With the Conservatives in the government federally and the New Democrats as an Official Opposition, South Asian community is weighing its options to be members of the Progressive Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party.This by no means is a suggestion that Liberals will be wiped off of the Canadian map, however Liberals need to realize that they need to reassess themselves to be relevant to the lives of diverse communities that have established themselves and look for responsible spending and taxation by the governments.

Conservatives are perceived to be anti-immigrant, and many in the South Asian community are skeptical of Tories, however gains made by the federal Conservatives are seeping into Ontario politics as well.

Generation Next asked MPP Christian Elliott, Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition and Critic for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Citizenship and Immigration, and Mental Health Reform, why Tories are perceived as anti-immigrants and what the PCs can offer to Desi community?

 

Why is there an impression that Conservatives whether at federal, provincial or municipal level at anti-immigrant? Unabashedly

This is a great question, because it seems to be a common misconception among not only new Canadians, but all Canadians. At a basic level, I think people hear the term “Conservative,” and think we’re a party of old white men.

But when we say “conservative” it means we want small, responsible government. We believe that individuals should be able to live their lives as free as possible from regulation. Liberals on the other hand think the government is in a better position to tell individuals how to live and how to raise your children. Another negative impact of the Liberal approach is big government, and it’s gotten so big they can’t keep track of everything. The e-health scandal saw the government waste over $1 billion to make an electronic health record system – which still hasn’t been delivered. We’ve seen the ORNGE scandal, which cost us all $300 million. The gas plant scandal saw the Liberals cancel two gas power plants at a cost of $700 million.

We advocate for small, transparent government that treats every one of your hard earned tax dollars with respect. That’s what a “conservative” government means, and that’s something all Canadians – regardless of race or religion – can believe in.

Is the PC Party satisfied with the current provincial nominee program? How will the PC party negotiate provincial nominee program with the federal government? 

We’re not satisfied with the way the Liberals have used it. Immigration has fallen by 20% under the Liberals, and they’ve presided over the very policies that make it tough for new Canadians to get jobs – like an outdated credential system. We need to ensure that when qualified immigrants arrive inOntario, there is a streamlined system in place to recognize their credentials so that they can enter the workforce as soon as possible, and to the full extent of their qualifications.

But the PNP is something that has a lot of potential. Right nowOntariohas high unemployment – some 600,000 unemployed Ontarians – as well as significant labour shortages in some sectors. So we want employers to use the program to nominate immigrants who have the skills they need, and fast track their entrance intoOntario. This will make sure that new Canadians have a job on arrival and fill a labour shortage inOntario. It’s win-win.

The PNP has shown phenomenal results for provinces that actually use it. Manitobaand Saskatchewanhave seen their immigration rates double and triple respectively through using the PNP and they also enjoy some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

We know that new Canadians are crucial to our economic growth and that’s why we’re going to increase our immigration through using the PNP. We want to build a strong economy in order to give new Canadians every opportunity to get a job, raise a family and chase their dreams.

Of course the federal government would be open to increasing Ontario’s use of the program. A strong economy inOntariois good for the Canadian economy.

How will university students benefit from the PC government? Will you commit to building three postgraduate institutions Liberals have promised? 

The Liberals promise a lot of things at election time. They promised not to raise taxes in 2003 & 2007. What happened? They raised taxes both times.

We’re going to ensure that students leave universities with a job. We want to encourage universities to build academic incubators – like Ryerson’s DMZ andYork’s Innovation York – which train students who want to be entrepreneurs how to develop their ideas and grow a business. We believe that connecting our students with the private sector is critical to supporting our entrepreneurs and growing our economy. Could you imagine, students leaving university with a degree and a business? We don’t want our students to work for Microsoft; we wantOntario’s students to build the next Microsoft.

What will we see different under the PC government when it comes to healthcare? 

You’ll see a patient centered system, not a system designed for service providers. We believe that too much money is going into bureaucracy and administration and that is why we would eliminate the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), so that more money can be put into front-line patient care. This means that more communities will receive hospital funding and more families will receive the long-term care that they need.

How will the PC government deal with high insurance rates? 

It’s important for your readers to note that recently there was a bill to tackle auto-insurance in the legislature, but the Liberals cancelled that bill by proroguing the provincial parliament.

The Progressive Conservative Party takes this issue so seriously however that we’ve assigned a caucus member – Jeff Yurek – to investigate the matter and develop a comprehensive policy to lower the cost. I understand insurance rates are too high for families. It’s not fair to ask families to pay $200, $300 sometimes $400 a month for car insurance.

How will you deal with ABC soup of various agencies like ORNGE? 

We’ve made no secret that when we’re government, we’ll undertake a full review of every single Agency, Board and Commission, and eliminate all those that aren’t needed. ORNGE demonstrated that when government gets too big, you can’t oversee how your tax dollars are being spent. The CEO, Chris Mazza, spent your money on things like motorcycles and speedboats instead of patient centered care. The most troubling thing about ORNGE and gas plant scandal is the Liberals are doing everything they can to hide the truth. They even gave their recent scandal a codename, “Project Vapour,” to hide the facts from taxpayers.

Will there be any relief for families in terms of tax cuts? 

Absolutely. In our latest white paper – Paths to Prosperity: An Agenda for Growth – we’ve outlined three options, and we want you to choose: a 2% cut to HST; a 10-15% cut to personal income tax; or a reduction in business taxes to encourage job creation. Three options to help families and grow the economy, but we want you to decide. To let us know what you think, you can go to http://www.ontariopc.com/paths-to-prosperity/an-agenda-for-growth/

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Canada Promotes French Language in International Education

Posted on 08 November 2012 by admin

The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Associate Minister of National Defence and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie), participated recently in the Canada-Francophonie Education Forum, held by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) in Montréal.

“Our government is committed to supporting the French language and linguistic duality, and for that reason we undertake to promote French in Canada and abroad,” stated Minister Valcourt. “Also, a stronger international education strategy will help strengthen Canada’s commitment to emerging economies and will ensure greater cooperation between Canada and institutions.”

In his opening address to the Forum, Minister Valcourt reiterated Canada’s commitment to international education and the government’s desire to strengthen education-related ties between Canada and international institutions to create lasting prosperity. Among other things, he stressed the importance of linkages between educational institutions to extend the influence of La Francophonie. This approach is in keeping with the vision of the report of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy, which proposes attracting the world’s best and brightest to pursue their studies or conduct their research in Canada, and eventually settle here and contribute to the future prosperity of our country.

The Canada-Francophonie Education Forum brings together public and private sector representatives, including teachers and educators from Canada and other Francophone and Francophile countries.

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India, Canada to work on N-deal during Harper’s visit

Posted on 08 November 2012 by admin

New Delhi: India and Canada, an energy giant, are poised to take forward their civil nuclear deal and expand their trade and agricultural ties during the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper here.

Accompanied by a large business delegation, Harper will Sunday begin his six-day visit here that will also take him to Bangalore, Agra and Chandigarh.

He will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh focusing on fast-tracking the 2010 India-Canada nuclear deal and ramping up cooperation in diverse areas, ranging from counter-terrorism to trade, agriculture, energy and natural resources.

“The visit is part of our strong efforts to re-engage more closely with Canada,” Vikram Doraiswamy, joint secretary in charge of Americas in the external affairs ministry, told reporters here Thursday.

“We hope to have forward movement on implementing the nuclear deal during the visit,” he said in response to queries about the status of the India-specific safeguards agreement that is required to implement the nuclear deal.

The specifics and modalities of the agreement are being worked out, he said.

It will be within the framework of the India-specific safeguards agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Indian law and the Canadian national law, Doraiswamy added.

During his visit to India in September, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird had lauded India’s non-proliferation credentials and stressed that Canada, a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, was not insisting on any “additional conditionalities” for supplying uranium to India and will follow the same pattern as it has with the US and the European Union.

Intensifying energy tie-ups and trade and investment will be high on the agenda.

India and Canada are negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to take their economic ties to next level. The next round of negotiations will be held in Canada mid-November.

Bilateral trade is currently estimated to be $5 billion. Indian investments in Canada are steadily growing and are estimated to be over $10 billion.

With Canada emerging as an agricultural superpower, India is also looking to scale up agricultural trade between the two countries. In the realm of energy, India’s OVL is hoping to acquire oil blocks in Canada.

Amid reports of stepped-up activities of Khalistan activists in Canada, India will also be taking up the issue with Canada during Harper’s visit.

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New Passport Look Celebrates Canadian History while Boosting SecurityNew Passport Look Celebrates Canadian History while Boosting Security

Posted on 01 November 2012 by admin

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced that Canada’s new ePassport will be full of iconic images that will make Canadian passports more attractive and more secure.

“The new ePassport will be more reflective and representative of who we are as Canadians,” said Baird during an event at the newly renamed Canadian Museum of History. “These images showcase Canada’s history and the building of our great nation while adding essential new security features for the 21st Century.”

The new images will also serve to keep the Canadian passport one of the world’s most secure travel documents. The complexity of the images is – first and foremost – a security feature that makes the passport more difficult to counterfeit.

Canadians will be able to renew their passports for five years for $120 or 10 years for $160, Passport Canada has said. Current passports are renewable every five years. Children will still be eligible only for a five-year passport.

Fees for adult passports now range from $82 to $97.

For those applying outside of Canada, the fee skyrockets to $190 for a five-year passport — up from $97 — and $260 for the document that would expire in 10 years, The Canadian Press reported.

By comparison, it currently costs $135 to apply for a new passport in the United States, $25 less for a renewal. An adult passport in the United Kingdom costs the equivalent of about $117.

The first 5-year ePassports will be issued in select locations during the first quarter of 2013. Production will ramp up through the spring resulting in the full availability of both a 5- and 10- year ePassport in early summer.

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New Economic Development Marketing Strategy and Brand Identity approved by Brampton City Council

Posted on 01 November 2012 by admin

BRAMPTON, ON: Brampton City Council today approved the new Economic Development Marketing Strategy and its brand identity. The new strategy and identity was developed following a comprehensive assessment and priority-setting initiative by the Brampton Business Attraction and Retention Advisory Committee (BARAC).

 “The new marketing strategy will rebrand and reposition Brampton’s Economic Development brand as a forward-thinking, creative, dynamic catalyst for business success. The new brand identity will drive our business development tactics in the coming years,” commented Mayor Susan Fennell.

The new marketing strategy is focused on leveraging positive attitudes and perceptions of Brampton as a highly desirable place to establish a business. The new visual identity springs from this strategic principle. It is a flexible, multifaceted, humanistic brand identity that celebrates and leverages Brampton’s most powerful assets: its people, diversity and vibrancy. The brand identity is simultaneously verbal and visual – it is a tagline and a logo all at the same time.

The design includes a ‘b…’ for Brampton, followed by a series of colourfully designed lines that invite businesses and citizens to make the most of the opportunities that Brampton represents and, in doing so, to make the most of themselves. It is in fact, a call to action: b… more; b… extraordinary; b… unstoppable.

 “It’s all about business attraction and retention and building pride in our city. The strategy will focus on leveraging the right assets effectively,” commented Regional Councillor Gael Miles, Chair of BARAC. “It recognizes the strength of our human potential, the culture of entrepreneurship that exists here and focuses on fostering an environment of creativity, ingenuity and vision that Brampton has to offer.”

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We Want Canadians to make Informed Financial Decisions – Flaherty

Posted on 01 November 2012 by admin

“Improving consumer awareness through regulations like these helps to improve financial literacy and helps protect consumers. And a better-informed public means far more than better decision making; it can empower individual Canadians while contributing to a strong economy.”

The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, and Lucie Tedesco, Deputy Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), announced new regulations to protect consumers when using prepaid credit cards.

The Harper Government is extending the existing consumer protection framework to prepaid payment products so that Canadians are better able to choose forms of payment that best meet their needs.

“Our Government is committed to protecting consumers,” said Minister Flaherty.  “We want to be sure Canadians understand what fees and conditions apply to prepaid products so that they can continue making informed financial decisions in their day-to-day lives. These changes will ensure that Canadians get the full value of their hard earned dollar when using a pre-paid credit card.”

Relatively new to the market, prepaid payment products allow consumers to make purchases or cash withdrawals through a payment network, such as American Express, MasterCard or Visa, with funds that have been paid in advance to a financial institution.

Currently there are fees associated with prepaid payment products that are not entirely clear to the consumer. The proposed Prepaid Payment Products Regulations would require that fees be disclosed to consumers in an information box displayed prominently on the product’s exterior packaging, and that other information for the consumer to understand when using these products be provided prior to issuance in a manner that is clear, simple and not misleading.

“Improving consumer awareness through regulations like these helps to improve financial literacy and helps protect consumers. And a better-informed public means far more than better decision making; it can empower individual Canadians while contributing to a strong economy,” added Deputy Commissioner Tedesco.

The proposed regulations would also limit certain business practices that could be harmful to consumers. For example, they would prohibit the funds from expiring and prohibit any maintenance fees for at least one year after a prepaid credit card has been activated for customer-purchased products.

The Minister also took the opportunity to announce the final publication of regulations prohibiting unsolicited credit card cheques on October 10, 2012. Credit card cheques are considered cash advances, which generally incur higher interest rates and fees, and do not offer an interest-free grace period.

“We welcome the Government of Canada’s continuing efforts to protect consumers,” said Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada Debt Solutions. “Regulations like these are essential safeguards for Canadians who need a little extra information when making important financial decisions.”

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Canada announces $ 20 Million to Promote Mental Health

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

In response to a growing challenge of mental illnesses in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, the Canadian government through Grand Challenges Canada, will finance fifteen innovative projects that improve mental health diagnosis and care in the global south.

Grand Challenges Canada through a statement announced that the fifteen projects were selected through a rigorous scientific review from a total of 97 proposals detailing how to increase access, improve treatment and tackle stigma among people with mental disorders in poor countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) contends that globally, 450 million people have mental disorders and an estimated 75% of this number live in developing world.

Experts regret that 80% of people suffering from mental illnesses in the poor south have no access to proper treatment. The Canadian government will foster innovations that improve mental care in resource constrained corners of the globe.

“Global mental health is a significant challenge which left unaddressed could undermine the health, social and economic futures of developing countries,” said Jim Flaherty, the Canadian Minister for Finance.

It is hoped that the fifteen innovative projects in fourteen poor nations will shed light on effective ways to address mental illnesses. Countries ravaged by conflicts, poverty and natural disasters, key triggers for mental disorders, will benefit from the new funding.

According to a statement, Afghanistan, Haiti and Pakistan, epicenters of conflicts and deprivation, are targeted in the new funding to scale up interventions that address mental health of vulnerable population.

“It is estimated that 50% of Afghanis over 15 years of age are suffering from mental health problems-depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder,” noted the statement.

The funding from Grand Challenges Canada will however support improved awareness of mental health problems in rural areas of Afghanistan through simple technologies such as text messages, web-based tools and teleconferencing to enable community health workers reach patients in need.

Improving care for children with autism and intellectual disability in Pakistan will be focus of the new funding while in Haiti; emphasis will be on expanding access to mental care in rural areas.

Sub-Saharan African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe will benefit from the Canadian grant to help implement projects that addresses mental health for women, youth and children. Treating severe post war mental disorders in Uganda and Liberia will be prioritized in the new funding. Grand Challenges Canada added that the grant will be channeled towards programs that address dementia in Nigeria alongside youth depression in Malawi and Zambia.

In Kenya, the Canadian grant will boost mental health care for children and help scale up screening for alcohol and substance abuse, responsible for alarming levels of mental illnesses among the youth.

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Indo-Canadian activist and columnist Balwant Sanghera receives Queen’s Jubilee Medal

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

RICHMOMD – Indo-Canadian community activist and LINK columnist Balwant Sanghera is among a number of Canadians being recognized across Canada with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Sanghera immigrated to Canada from India in 1966. He obtained his M. Ed. From UBC, and then spent 17 years as an educator in Lillooet and 5 years in Hudson Hope before accepting a position as school psychologist with the Burnaby School District in1990.

As part of his assignment, Sanghera worked as part of a multidisciplinary team at the Maples Adolescent Centre in Burnaby. He retired in 2004 after serving in BC’s public school system for 36 years in various capacities. Sanghera is also past President of the Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society. He is currently President of the Punjabi Language Education association of BC, President of the East Richmond Community Association, chairperson of the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence and is a former member of the Board of Directors of VIRSA, the Sikh Alliance Against Youth Violence, former member of City of Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee and the Multifest Committee of the Cambie Community Centre as well as being a member of the Board of Variance of the City of Richmond. His previous community appointments include Senator of Simon Fraser University for 7 years, Vice Chairman and Board Member of Langara College for 5 years and Councilor in Lillooet for 13 years. He has served as member and chairperson of the BC Teachers Federation’s Committee of Ombudspersons for ten years Sanghera has a long history of active participation in his community and has served on the boards of numerous organizations and has volunteered his time for many community initiatives. He is also a recipient of the 2002 Queen’s Jubilee Medal for his service to the community and in June 2004, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia. In 2005, Balwant was chosen as one of the top 10 citizens in Richmond. In 2006, Balwant was awarded the Pride of India award by India International Friendship Society. Later on, he was awarded the Glory of India award in 2007.

Sanghera was identified as one of 100 Indo-Canadians of influence in BC by The Vancouver Sun newspaper. He was also honoured as one of Top 25 Canadian Immigrants for 2010 by the Canadian Immigrant magazine. In 2011, Sanghera was awarded the Solicitor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Crime Prevention and Community Safety by BC’s Attorney General and Solicitor General Shirley Bond. He has just been chosen to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal .

The medal will be presented to Sanghera on November 10 at a special ceremony presided over by his Member of Parliament, Alice Wong in Richmond.

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