Archive | Canadian Politics

Ontario freezing doctor pay

Posted on 10 May 2012 by admin

Ontario is moving toward a real wage freeze for doctors in order to invest more precious health care dollars in community care for families and home care for its many seniors.

Patients will get better, frontline patient care including more community care nurses, expanded home care services for at least 90,000 seniors, and 1,100 more doctors as the province updates fees paid to physicians for services under the $11-billion Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).

“Our doctors are the best paid in Canada. Instead of another raise for doctors, we need a real wage freeze so we can invest in more home care. To hold the line on doctor pay, we’re making changes to fees for physician services to reflect advances in technology and the latest medical evidence on what helps patients most,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

The average doctor billing in Ontario is $385,000 and many specialists are billing twice that much.

The government is updating and rebalancing OHIP fees to better reflect current medical practices and new technologies and to avoid double-payments. Best practices demonstrate that doctors are now often able to work more quickly and more effectively yet many fees have not changed to reflect these advances. Among the fee changes are:

  • The province currently spends $88 million on self-referrals – the practice of referring a patient back to a doctor’s own practice for an additional procedure and, consequently, additional billing. The payment for certain diagnostic tests such as X-rays and ultrasounds will be reduced by half when the same physician orders and performs the test.
  • New technology has greatly reduced the time needed for 250 diagnostic radiology tests including X-rays, CT/MRI scans and ultrasound. To reflect this, fees paid for these tests will be reduced by 11 per cent over four years.
  • New technology has reduced the time needed to perform cataract surgery from two hours to as little as 15 minutes. Fees paid to doctors for this procedure will be reduced from $441 to $397.75.
  • The time taken to perform eye injections for retinal diseases now takes five to 30 minutes, down from two hours a decade ago. The fee paid to doctors for this service will be reduced from $189 to $90 over four years.
  • Evidence shows that echocardiograms before routine non-cardiac surgery do not improve patient outcomes. Doctors will perform fewer of these tests.
    • Best practices for CT scans and MRIs for lower back pain reveal that more targeted use of diagnostic tools helps to better support those patients with serious medical conditions such as infections or cancer and leads to earlier treatment for those patients with less serious symptoms by eliminating unnecessary diagnostic tests.
    • To ensure more timely access to care, a new fee will be added for doctors to consult with each other through secure email.

 

The combined changes, effective as of April 1, 2012, are expected to result in savings of $338.3 million in 2012-13, allowing the government to invest in more home care and expanded health care services. The government will continue to negotiate with doctors to improve access to patient care, including same day/next day appointments and after-hours care to reduce pressure on emergency rooms.

Improving patient care by getting better value for our health care dollars is part of the McGuinty government’s Action Plan for Health Care and builds upon the gains made in health care since 2003.

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Ontario budget – why it matters to you

Posted on 03 May 2012 by admin

MPP Kathleen Wynne, Don Valley West

I’m pleased to report that we passed the Ontario budget on April 24, 2012 so that we can continue to work on your behalf and reduce the deficit.

Recently, I hosted six community town halls, prior to and following the release of the budget. I heard from many constituents about issues related to our economy, poverty, and education to name a few.

It’s so important that we have this conversation so that your opinions frame the perspective that I bring to the decision making table at Queen’s Park.

As a minority government, it is even more important that we work with the opposition to ensure that legislation is passed to make Ontario better for everyone. We agreed to make some changes to the budget, after discussions with the NDP, to further support our communities and reduce the deficit.

We will provide additional funding to the child care sector, increase Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works rates by one per cent, and create a new income tax bracket for those earning over $500,000. These changes include no new overall spending and will accelerate our five year plan to eliminate the deficit.

I believe that communication and collaboration is key to successful relationships – that’s why I want to hear about the issues that matter to you. Please visit my website (www.kathleenwynne.onmpp.ca), Facebook (www.facebook.com/wynnefans) or on twitter (@kathleenwynne) to get in touch with me.

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MPP Jagmeet Singh holds first ever town hall on Auto Insurance

Posted on 26 April 2012 by admin

MPP Jagmeet Singh held the first ever town hall on Auto Insurance for Bramalea-Gore-Malton.  “Insurance companies attribute high rates to fraud, however the impact of fraud only accounts for 10%-15% of insurance claims. Current laws work in favour of insurance companies, such as the guarantee of a 12% return on equity,” explained Jagmeet Singh

Community members provided their own stories on their struggles with high insurances rates and its impact on their families.

Jagmeet Singh is putting forward Bill-45, which is aimed at addressing high auto insurance rates. Specifically it looks at the current practice of basing insurance rates on geographic location.

“Bill 45 is a step towards remedying these issues. It will stop the discriminatory practice of using someone’s geographical location to charge higher rates. The Ontario NDP will not stop until we have an auto insurance system that is fair for all Ontarians,” asserted Jagmeet Singh.

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Economic growth and prosperity the focus of immigration changes: Jason Kenney

Posted on 26 April 2012 by admin

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney recently outlined a series of changes planned for the immigration system to make it faster, more flexible and focused on jobs to promote national economic growth and prosperity that can benefit all regions of Canada.  

Proposed changes to the economic immigration system include eliminating the backlog of old Federal Skilled Worker applications, modernizing how selection is done under that program to better reflect the importance of younger immigrants with Canadian work experience and better language skills, creating a new Federal Skilled Trades program, and modifying the Canadian Experience Class to better facilitate the transition to permanent residence by successful skilled temporary workers.

Economic Action Plan 2012 also announced changes to CIC’s Business Immigration Programs, which will target more active investment in Canadian growth companies and more innovative entrepreneurs.   Under proposed legislative amendments, CIC intends to introduce new small-scale programs on a temporary basis to try innovative approaches to economic immigration. Improvements to the existing Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) could be rolled out over a longer timeframe, as any changes would require extensive consultations with provinces and territories, particularly the province of Quebec, which operates its own Investor program under provisions in the Canada-Quebec Accord . Furthermore, adjustments to the current IIP would have to go through the regulatory process.

“The changes I’ve announced are to ensure that immigrants who come to Canada can contribute to the economy quickly,” Minister Kenney said. “And the cornerstone of success is being able to speak one of Canada’s official languages. That is why the government is also proposing changes to the citizenship rules so that new citizens have the language abilities they need to succeed.”

Under the proposed change, prospective citizens would be required to provide objective evidence of their language ability with their citizenship applications. Applicants would be able to demonstrate language ability by submitting a variety of evidence, including the results of approved third party tests, evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French, or evidence of achieving the appropriate language level in certain government funded language training programs.

 “The proposed change would encourage citizenship applicants to ensure that they can speak English or French when they apply,” Minister Kenney said. “Language is an important component of the successful integration of immigrants and new citizens.”

Adequate knowledge of English or French is a requirement for citizenship in Canada and has been a requirement since the first Citizenship Act of 1947.

Under the 2009 pilot, close to 2,000 newcomers in Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia were randomly sent vouchers, inviting them to take advantage of free language training at a local service provider in their community. This group was compared with over 24,000 newcomers with similar profiles who did not receive vouchers. The use of the vouchers saw an increased uptake of these services by almost 25 percent.

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Conservatives promise jobs, deliver cuts

Posted on 19 April 2012 by admin

Rathika Sitsabaiesan,

MP (Scarborough-Rouge River)

With so much at stake, this year’s federal budget could have made a positive difference here in Scarborough. It could have set out a practical roadmap to create jobs, promote growth and strengthen the services families rely on.

Instead, on almost every front, this budget fails Canadians.

It does little to create jobs, something Stephen Harper had promised for months, and does nothing to help our cities build and maintain the infrastructure we all rely on. It does little to create long-term, full-time jobs here in Scarborough, and nothing to help ease the burden of the 2 hour commute on public transit that many of us must face to get to our places of work.

Instead this budget weakens the environmental review process for Mr. Harper’s friends in the oil and gas industry. It also attacks our most vital public services—including health care and public pensions.

The Conservatives are unilaterally rewriting the formula for federal health transfers—short-changing provinces by $31 billion. For many Canadians, the result will be fewer doctors, longer wait-times and more frustration.

This budget also raises the Old Age Security eligibility age from 65 to 67. That will take up to $12,000 from seniors’ pockets and force them to work two years longer. In cutting this vital program, the Conservatives are flatly ignoring expert advice that the OAS is fully sustainable. These changes also only come into effect in eleven years, targeting the generation of Canadians after the baby-boomers, and results in no immediate cost-savings. It is impossible to say what financial circumstances we will be facing in eleven years, so why make these changes now?

Mr. Harper ran an entire election campaign without saying one word about cutting your health care or pensions. As recently as January, he promised to protect both. But now he is springing these reckless cuts on families and provinces that simply can’t afford them.

Budgets are about choices, and the Conservatives are making the wrong ones. They are asking you to tighten your belt while they continue to blow billions on fighter jets that don’t meet Canada’s needs, a costly prisons agenda, and more handouts for banks and big polluters.

In other words, you are being asked to work even harder and pay even more for Mr. Harper’s misguided priorities. And by imposing deep cuts in a time of economic uncertainty, experts warn that he even risks throwing Canada back toward a job-killing recession.

That’s not the leadership we need. Since the Conservatives came to power, we’ve seen 400,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs vanish—too often replaced by insecure, part-time or temporary work. It’s time to turn that around.

We need tax credits for new hires, a helping hand for small businesses and a plan to keep good jobs here in Canada. These are practical steps to generate the sustainable growth we need to make Canada a global leader once again that my New Democrat colleagues and I are proposing.

At the same time, we are fighting to strengthen the public services families rely on, starting with health care and retirement security, because in good times and bad, these are the cornerstones of our country that ensure no one is left behind.

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Committed to serve the community: Neethan Shan

Posted on 19 April 2012 by admin

Samuel Getachew

Neethan Shan is currently running for the Presidency of the Ontario NDP. Last year, he was a candidate for member of the provincial parliament of Ontario. The year before that, he was running to be a city councilor. And two years before that, he was running to be a member of Queens Park. Prior to this, he was elected as a school board trustee successfully after failing at that the term before. What makes this ever-passionate South Asian community activist tick?
“I want to be part of a movement where I can engage myself in the decision-making process of my community,” explains Shan in his office in Scarborough. The Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) Executive Director has been engaged since his arrival to Canada as a 16-year-old from Sri Lanka. Over the years, he has been a powerful advocate for issues such as electoral reform, youth engagement and his great passion – the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

This ambitious South Asian immigrant made his foray into electoral politics by announcing his candidature for Trustee in 2003, a contest which he narrowly lost. While most would be devastated by the results, Shan continued to be engaged on vital issues and became more active in politics. In the subsequent election in 2006, he put his name forward as a candidate once again. This time, the sitting candidate decided to withdraw from the race, and that created an opening for Shan. He ultimately won and became a Markham Trustee for an area just north of his beloved Scarborough.

Shan’s proactive nature was noticed by many in the NDP. The University of Toronto graduate and high school teacher was soon approached to run for the Ontario NDP in 2007. He decided to put his name for the nomination, which he won handily and became a candidate in Scarborough Guildwood. He was an easily noticeable candidate with eloquence and dedication. His campaign attracted much support. However, despite a respectful showing, he was not successful.

Over the next four years, Shan focused on grassroots work, including being a school board trustee, working for electoral reform in Toronto with another passionate activist, Dave Meslin, as well as being a candidate for the city council. In the City of Toronto election in 2010, he competed in Scarborough Rough River against an aging veteran, Raymond Cho. Despite the ward being held by the veteran politician since 1991, Shan created a tossup.

His campaign consisted of a wide array of party veterans and party stripes and was endorsed by many leading unions, civic organizations and the media including the Toronto Star, Scarborough Mirror and NOW magazine. He competed against seven other candidates, yet his stature made the area the one to watch on Election Day. Despite a close contest, he was once again a runner up. He went back to his day job serving South Asians.

In 2011, he returned as a star candidate for NDP representing Queens Park against Liberal Bas Balkissoon in Scarborough Rouge River. The leader of the party made several stops to campaign on his behalf. With an army of volunteers, Shan’s effort looked like a movement rather than a mere political campaign. Despite all his efforts, he lost yet again. What was achieved that night was historic for the party, as he came within 2,000 votes of defeating the Liberal candidate. However, in an imperfect political system, unfortunately, there is only one winner, and it was not Shan.

At the upcoming Ontario NDP convention in Hamilton, on April 13th, he is once again a candidate, this time, for the presidency of the party. Why the NDP? “I believe the NDP is a socially conscious party that speaks from the grounds up,” says Shan. What will be his signature initiatives if he were to be successful in securing the NDP presidency? “I have been a grassroots organizer in the area of youth engagement as well as community empowerment, and I will take that passion all over Ontario,” he explains, adding “there are many more seats that we can take and form an Ontario government in the future.”

“I believe in young people,” he says with his trademark passion. Inside his small office, the walls are empty. None of the awards he has won over the years are on display. His desk is almost bare too. It seems, this passionate community leader belongs somewhere else where he can be, as he says, part of the “decision-making process of my community.”

Shan’s many admirers include Toronto activist Doug Kerr. The latter recalls the time he met him a decade ago, at the Canadian Tamil Youth Development Center where Shan was a youth leader. Kerr describes his journey as how “amazing it is to see him grow into the community leader he is today.” He continues, “He (Shan) is dedicated, smart and passionate.”

As the new father of a toddler, with his signature colorful shirt and big smile, Shan explains why he is currently a candidate for an elected office once again. The more one hears him, the more one is convinced that he belongs in the direction he is headed.

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The budget Ontario needs

Posted on 05 April 2012 by admin

Tim Hudak

Tim Hudak is the official leader of Opposition at Ontario legislature

With eight provinces and the federal government in deficit, political leaders across the country are faced with a similar challenge: How do we encourage job creation while regaining control of spending? The responses vary. Some have taken immediate action, while others, like Ontario, have moved at a glacial pace.

In the province that has long been an economic leader, 600,000 men and women are now unemployed. Yet, this week’s provincial budget will neither stimulate the economy nor aggressively attack the deficit. In the next year, the deficit will remain constant, leaving a staggering $15.2-billion gap between revenue and spending. Job creation is forecast to decline.

In New York this month, I met financial experts to discuss Ontario’s debt. Their advice is consistent with the way I would have approached the problem. For starters, I would not have accepted anemic private-sector growth or a slow response to a looming $30-billion deficit.

Businesses can invest anywhere in the world. If they’re going to come to Canada, they’ll look for a few basic things. They want a credible plan to eliminate deficits and get debt under control, and they want a competitive tax environment. Businesses realize that governments burdened with debt won’t be able to create a competitive tax climate and build and sustain infrastructure – two key things that attract investment, expansion and new jobs.

They need low tax rates, so they can retain more of their earnings to expand and hire. They want certainty about government tax policy, too, so the rules don’t change partway through the game. In Ontario, for example, this week’s budget would abandon a promised business tax cut. That’s not how you build an economy. A recent estimate by a leading economist said this measure alone could result in a loss of 30,000 jobs over 10 years. A higher tax burden than businesses had planned for amounts to a tax increase.

Affordable energy is another cornerstone of growth. The provinces that have taken steps to assure a steady supply of power at fair rates are well positioned for growth. Those like Ontario, where power rates are being driven up by subsidies that pay wind and solar producers between two and 10 times the going rate for energy from conventional sources, are not.

We need to pay attention to what’s happening in the world. One of the key factors in Germany’s success, for example, has been a strong apprenticeship system. I have advocated an aggressive apprenticeship plan for Ontario. The failure to act on this has left good skilled trades jobs unfilled.

Growth won’t happen unless government gets the fundamentals right. Our priority must be policies that create the conditions for growth, and that has to be accomplished while making significant structural changes. We can’t cut our way to prosperity; we need to grow our economy, too.

Every day that government puts off difficult decisions adds to debt and narrows our room to manoeuvre in the event of a sudden economic shock. This has been Greece’s sad experience.

The challenges facing Canadian governments may vary, but the underlying principles are the same. When governments control spending, ensure responsive regulation and keep business taxes low, labour markets flexible and energy affordable, jobs and growth will follow. Some provinces realize this, and will pull out of deficit sooner than Ontario. Their next challenge will be to tackle accumulated debt.

As Canadians, we need to reframe the deficit and debt issue. This is not just about government. It’s about the economy, jobs and prosperity.

Courtesy: The Globe and Mail

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Thomas Mulcair, NDP is the new Leader of the Opposition

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

EARLY LIFE

  • Born in Ottawa on October 24th, 1954 to an Irish Canadian father and French Canadian mother. He is the second oldest of ten children. He was raised in Laval, North of Montreal.
  • Went to Laval Catholic High School. Was actively involved, through a school group, as a volunteer in many social and community causes.

EDUCATION AND PERSONAL LIFE

  • Holds degrees in Civil Law (B.C.L.) and in Common Law (LL.B).
  • In 1975-1976, the final year of the B.C.L. program, Mulcairwas elected President of the Law Students Association and sat on the council of the McGill Student Union.
  • Married to Catherine Pinhas, a psychologist and French citizen, with whom he has two grown sons, Mathew and Greg.
  • The couple moved to Quebec City in 1978 with their son Matthew. Mulcair worked first in the Legislative Affairs branch of the Justice Ministry and later in the Legal Affairs Directorate of the Conseil de la langue francaise.

POLITICAL CAREER

  • During his time at the Conseil de la langue française, Mulcair served as the union delegate and later was elected the Secrétaire de section of the (SPGQ) Syndicat des Professionnels et Professionnelles du Gouvernement du Québec (The Union of Quebec Government Professional Employees).
  • In 1985, Mulcair began a private law practice and was named the reviser of the statutes of Manitoba following the Supreme Court ruling in the Manitoba reference case. He worked regularly in Winnipeg over the next two years.
  • In 1986, his political mentor, Claude Ryan, named MulcairCommissioner on the Commission d’Appelsur la langue d’enseignement.
  • At the end of 1987, Mr. Ryan proposed that Mulcair be named President of the Quebec Professions Board (Office des professions du Québec); a position he held until 1993.
  • As President, Tom introduced wide-ranging reforms to make disciplinary hearings more transparent and successfully led a major effort to have cases of alleged sexual abuse of patients dealt with decisively.
  • During his tenure at the Quebec Professions Board, Mulcair became the first Canadian elected to the Board of Directors of the Council on Licensure Enforcement and Regulation.
  • In early 1994, upon the resignation of the sitting member of the National Assembly for Chomedey, Lise Bacon, the Quebec Liberal Party sought Mulcair’s candidacy. His run in the by-election turned into a race in the general election that was soon called. On September 12th, 1994 he was elected the Member of the National Assembly for Chomedey, his old home-town in Laval.
  • Re-elected in 1998 and served as Deputy House-Leader of the opposition. He was successively Justice Critic and Industry Critic.
    • In 2003 Mulcair was elected provincially for the third time and named to Cabinet as Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.
    • Served as Minister until 2006. While minister, Mulcair took a tough stand on enforcement of environment laws and regulations. He also introduced wide-ranging legislation on sustainable development and carried out a 20-city tour of Quebec on the issue.
      • During a Cabinet shuffle, Charest offered Mulcair the position of Minister of Government Services in the Quebec government, and Mulcair chose to resign from cabinet rather than accept the apparent demotion. There was speculation that his contrary opinion on a project that would have transferred lands in Mont Orford Provincial park to private condominium developers led to his removal as Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.
      • On February 20, 2007, he announced that he would not be a Liberal candidate in the 2007 Quebec general election.
      • On September 2006, Jack Layton invited Mulcair to Quebec City to address delegates at the NDP’s convention on the subject of Sustainable Development.
      • In early 2007, Jack Layton named Tom Mulcair his Quebec Lieutenant. After Mulcair’s victory in the Liberal stronghold of Outremont, he also named him Co-Deputy Leader of the NDP.
        • Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton died on August 22, 2011, following a battle with cancer, and was honoured with a state funeral. Mulcair stated that Layton’s death had hit him exceptionally hard, and that while he was considering a federal NDP leadership bid, he would need several weeks to make up his mind on that decision.
        • Mulcair declared his candidacy for the federal NDP leadership at a press conference in suburban Montreal on October 13, 2011. He attracted the support of 60 of the 101 other federal NDP MPs, including Robert Chisholmand Romeo Saganash, the only two to have dropped out of the leadership race.

On the fourth and final ballot, Thomas Mulcair was elected NDP leader with 57.2% of the votes.

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Natural Acne Scars Remedies – Common Sense Prevails

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

Acne is one of those things that everybody seems to get at one point or another, and yet nobody really likes it. While some cases are mild, other cases are quite severe and can lead to visible scarring. So, not only do these people have to suffer through a bad outbreak of acne, they then have to live with the scars for the rest of their lives. Or do they? The answer to that is no they don’t, or at least they can try any number of acne scars remedies that will minimize the scars that are there. Not all of these treatments will work the same on everybody, but they are worth trying if it means you can feel better about yourself.            

One of the best known remedies for acne scars is citrus juice. You can apply the juice of a lemon or lime directly to the problem areas. However, some people find that pure citrus juice irritates their skin, so you may want to try different dilutions until you find the one that’s best for you. Apply it once or twice a day for several weeks and see how much lighter your scars look. It can take quite a while, but if it just doesn’t seem to be working for you, then you can try other acne scars remedies.   

A lot of people swear by olive oil for making their acne scars less visible. In fact, there are any number of different oils that you can try. Simply massage the oil into the scar and the surrounding area, and let it sit. This helps to soften and moisturize the skin which can help diminish the visibility of acne scarring.       

Here’s a natural remedy for acne that you may not be familiar with: tomatoes! That’s right. Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A which keeps the body from producing too much sebum, which is the substance that is largely responsible for acne to begin with. Tomatoes are also rich in antioxidants which are beneficial for repairing the skin.

One of the most soothing acne scars remedies is a mixture of rose water and sandalwood. Simply add a few drops of the rose water to the sandalwood until it is at a paste like consistency. Then put the resulting paste directly on the scars and let it sit for about an hour. This is generally very gentle on the skin, so you can even leave it on as you sleep.  

You have to be more careful if you are currently experiencing an acne outbreak, as you shouldn’t let any foreign material (such as any of the above ingredients we’ve talked about) get into the sores. Not only can it be irritating, but it can also make the acne worse. However, if you need immediate comfort, you may want to try an icepack to help cool and temporarily tighten the skin.

While a lot of people have found success with the above acne scars treatments, you should always consult with a qualified medical professional before doing anything that has to do with your health.

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Orange Crush Alive and Well at Toronto-Danforth

Posted on 21 March 2012 by admin

With nearly 60 per cent votes, NDP has won the riding of former NDP leader Jack Layton. NDP’s Craig Scott now represents the riding of Toronto Danforth at the House of Commons. The riding does not only have a large Greek and Chinese population but is also the home of many South Asians. Gerrard Street India Bazar is the hub of South Asian businesses as well as the community.
NDP’s Craig Scott receives 59.4% of the vote, Liberal’s Grant Gordon in second with 28.5% and Conservative candidate Andrew Keyes 5.4%. The voter turnout in the by election was less than 44 per cent. Almost 75,000 people were eligible to cast ballots in the by election. The riding saw a 65 per cent turnout during the 2011 general election, slightly more than the national average.
In his victory speech, Mr. Scott, the law professor, said “My friends, it looks like the orange crush is here to stay. It’s not going anywhere.”
He further said “A good friend of ours would say we’ve chosen love, we’ve chosen hope and we’ve chosen optimism,” he said.
“The people of Toronto-Danforth have put their trust in one of the strongest opposition parties in Canadian history.”
NDP leadership hopefuls Paul Dewar, Brian Topp, Peggy Nash and Thomas Mulcair were also present at the event. Jack Layton’s widow MP Olivia Chow was also present at the occasion. Interim leader NycoleTurmel introduced the party’s newest MP.

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