Archive | Canadian Politics


Posted on 06 March 2013 by admin

Indices of diabetes and heart disease in the South Asian community are up to three times higher than the in general population. The launch of the South Asian Health Institute in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, home to the third largest South Asian population in Canada, is an important initiative towards providing culturally appropriate solutions to this epidemic.

 The institute will form part of the Frasier Health Authority which provides integrated health care service to more than 1.6 million people living in the community. “The health of our community is one of our strongest assets and we must guard it with great care. The South Asian Health Institute will provide community focused services in one of Canada’s largest and fastest growing regions,” said Senator Asha Seth.

 “The South Asian Health Institute will aim to provide culturally appropriate early intervention and management of chronic conditions which are caused by both environmental and hereditary factors,” said Dr. Nigel Murray, president of the Frasier Health Authority.

 Canada India Network Society president and 2011 Award of Excellence in Medicinal Practice recipient, Dr. ArunGarg, will lead the institute as medical director. “The institute will build on current programs at the health authority and foster new collaborations to improve the health of South Asian,” said Dr. Garg.

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Politiking In Pakistan

Posted on 06 March 2013 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

The Army top leadership has assured more than once during the last two weeks that it supports the holding of the elections on schedule and that it would work with any government installed with the mandate of the electorate. The Army’s support to democracy is reassuring and it has set in motion the transition process from the current governments at the federal and provincial levels to caretaker administration at these levels. The prime minister and the opposition leader are expected to decide about the name of the caretaker prime minister. Both sides are talking with their allies before formally exchanging names. Hopefully, they agree to a name. This is expected to be followed up with the nomination of caretaker chief ministers of four provinces. This will be done by a consensus of the chief minister and the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly of the province concerned. It was also expected that the elections to the national and provincial assemblies will be held on the same day.

 If the prime minister and the leaders of opposition do not agree to a name for caretaker prime minister, the matter will go to a parliamentary committee which will have equal representation of the government and the opposition for deciding about the caretaker prime minister. If the matter is not settled there both the PPP and the PMLN will lose the initiative about the selection of the caretaker prime minister. This will expose their incapacity to resolve their problem by themselves. Then the Election Commission will decide about the caretaker prime minister out of the four names submitted by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition (Two names from each side). The same procedure applies to the selection of caretaker chief minister.

 The failure to agree on the caretaker set up will escalate tension between the government and the opposition with will have negative implications for their mutual interaction during the election period.

 Two types of political activities are noticeable in connections with the elections. First, a number of political leaders are changing parties. Second, the political parties are working towards building electoral alliances or seat adjustments.

 No ideology is involved in the political leaders changing their parties. Political expediency is shaping their decision to change their parties. These are the party leaders who have developed differences with the leadership of their original party and they do not expect to get party ticket for the elections. In some cases local factionalism inside and outside the party also causes some people to change political loyalties. If one faction gains influence with the leadership of a party, its rival faction will definitely leave the party to join the competing political party. Currently, the PMLN seems to have gained more leaders as compared to its losses to other political parties.

  A large number of political parties have agreed to seat adjustment. These parties talk about seat adjustment after the meetings of their leaders in order to some positive outcome of the meeting; in practice it may mean little.

 Most of the seat adjustment or electoral alliance activity is among Islamist and Political-Rightist political parties. Some Islamist parties have formed alliances. The Sunni Tehrik with support base in Karachi has created an electoral alliance with the PMLN which has also undertake seat adjustment with the Jamiat-i-Ahle-Sunnet Wal-Jamat (formerly Sipah-e-Sahaba) in the Punjab. The JUIF and the PMLN have also agreed to seat adjustment. The JUIF may be useful for the PMLN in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the JUIF may not be of much help to the PMLN in the Punjab.

 The PMLN has been very active in interior Sindh to build support for itself. It entered into an electoral alliance with the PML-Functional of Pir of Pagaro, National People’s Party of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi which is being managed by his son and 19 other Sindhi nationalist parties and group. Jatoi’s NPP may not get more than one or two seats. Other nationalist Sindhi groups in this alliance do not have any strong electoral support. Most of them may not even get more than one seat. The alliance is also known for anti-PPP disposition. Mumtaz Bhutto has brought his small party under the fold of the PMLN but he does not have much electoral support.

  The alliance of Sindhi parties, including the Pir of Pagaro and the PMLN, wants to offer itself as an alternate to the PPP in interior Sindh.

 The most intriguing development is the announcement by General Pervez Musharraf on March 1 to return to Pakistan within a week of installations of caretaker government. He wants to challenge the existing political forces to make a credible space for himself in Pakistani politics. Musharraf is no longer the lead political leader in Pakistan. His political party, All Pakistan Muslim League, APML, lacks organizational network and public support to become a lead party. Musharraf will face strong opposition from the major parties and he will also be dragged in court cases. The sooner Musharraf realizes that his active political career has come to an end in 1988 the better it is for him. The pre-election competitive politics will become more intense after mid-March.

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Harper Government Continues to Make Concrete Progress in Environmental Sustainability

Posted on 28 February 2013 by admin

OTTAWA, Ont. — Canada’s Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent, recently released the 2012 Progress Report on the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) and the 2013-16 draft Strategy for a 120 day period of public consultations.

“The 2012 Progress Report provides Canadians with a whole-of-government picture of the Government of Canada’s contributions to achieving environmental sustainability,” said Minister Kent. “It demonstrates that the Harper Government is making concrete progress in environmental sustainability and is building on this progress to further advance the transparency and accountability of environmental decision-making.”

The report highlights real results achieved by the Government of Canada in the areas of climate change, clean air and conservation:

  • Canada has begun to decouple greenhouse gases from economic growth and has put in place measures needed to meet about half of its 2020 reductions target;
  • Air quality in Canada is among the best in the world;
  • The Great Lakes’ Areas of Concern are being restored;
  • Since 1990, protected areas in Canada have nearly doubled; and
  • The Government has made significant strides in greening its operations.

“The Government of Canada is making progress in greening its buildings, fleet, procurement, and office practices,” said the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women. “We will continue to demonstrate leadership by reducing the Government’s environmental footprint.” PWGSC supports the greening of the Government’s operations by working closely with other federal departments and agencies.

The public consultations process on the 2013-16 draft Strategy provides Canadians with a key opportunity to comment on the Government’s progress made on sustainable development, and its goals and objectives over the coming years.

“I am inviting Canadians to take part in the public consultations process as the draft Strategy aims to improve the way the federal government plans for sustainable development. Sustainable development is a long-term issue. Updating the Strategy and reporting on results every three years provide the basis for constant improvement and innovation over the long term,” said Minister Kent. “It also reflects a growing recognition—within Canada and internationally—that environmental sustainability and economic prosperity support and reinforce one another.”

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Visible Minorities See Office of Religious Freedom Favourably

Posted on 28 February 2013 by admin

The World Sikh Organization of Canada commends the Federal Government of Canada on the launch of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement today in Maple, Ontario.

The Office of Religious Freedom, which will be an arm of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, has been announced as an attempt to make protection of religious freedoms, particularly of vulnerable minorities, a key pillar of Canada’s foreign policy.

WSO Senior Policy Advisor Gian Singh Sandhu said, “Canada has historically been a leader in the field of human rights and it is certainly laudable that the Canadian government has created the Office of Religious Freedom to advocate for freedom of religion internationally. As Canadians who enjoy great freedoms here in Canada, it is our duty to stand up for the rights of all oppressed people across the world.”

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Minister Valcourt Proud of Attracting Best International Students to Canada

Posted on 20 February 2013 by admin

February 12, 2013 - The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Associate Minister of National Defence and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie), meets on Parliament Hill in Ottawa with a group of 25 university students from Latin America and the Caribbean. During the meeting, Minister Valcourt highlighted the importance of international education and the role of Canada’s French-language universities in the global economy.

“Our government is committed to continuing to attract the best students to Canada,” said Minister Valcourt. “Their presence in the country creates jobs and stimulates economic growth, as well as strengthening our people-to-people ties with other countries.”

The students are pursuing graduate studies in Canada in areas related to good governance, democracy and civil society.

The students have come to Canada on scholarships though the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program. Since 2009, over 2,000 students from Latin America and the Caribbean have received scholarships from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

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Liberals’ new e-test cleans out consumers’ wallets as failure rate rises

Posted on 14 February 2013 by admin

Number of failures for new Drive Clean emissions test surpasses 10% in just one month

 Ontario’s Drive Clean program has more and more drivers reaching for their wallets as a result of the Liberals’ onerous new emissions test, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

 From 1999 to 2010, the failure rate for Drive Clean’s e-test steadily declined to 5% — down from 16%. Now, just a month after the Liberals introduced a new computerized test for light-duty vehicles equipped with an on-board diagnostics (OBD) system, the failure rate has jumped to 10.5%.

 “Many of these failures have nothing to do with vehicle emissions,” Harris explained. “In fact, numerous drivers are told their car has failed the test simply because its on-board computer isn’t ‘ready.’ ”

 Oftentimes when a vehicle has recently undergone repairs or has had the battery replaced, disconnected or drained, one or more of the monitors in the vehicle’s OBD system may not have run its emissions testing sequence.

 “To ensure all monitors are ready, the Ministry of the Environment actually suggests you should spend a few days driving your vehicle on the highway and around town,” Harris said. “I have to admit it seems somewhat ironic that under a program with the stated objective to reduce emissions, the Liberals are encouraging Ontarians to spend days aimlessly driving around to solve a technical glitch before they can pay more money to take another e-test.”

 The Auditor General specifically warned the Liberals last year to delay the implementation of their new e-test in order to ensure that all technical testing was completed and problems were resolved.

 “Here we have, again, a classic example of the Liberals rushing ahead with a policy change without doing any due diligence whatsoever. To me, it’s quite clear that the Liberals introduced a more stringent e-test as a way to justify a program that has obviously outlived its usefulness,” Harris said. “At a time when British Columbia is phasing out its program due to its diminishing impact on emissions reductions, it’s time for Ontario to do the same thing.”

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Conservatives ignore housing need

Posted on 06 February 2013 by admin

By MP John McCallum

While cities and provinces are working hard on the pressing lack of affordable housing for Canadians, the Conservatives are quietly getting the federal government out of it.

An estimated 150,000 to 300,000 Canadians are homeless and thirteen percent don’t have access to affordable housing with enough bedrooms for their family. Some families of nine live in apartments for two because that’s all they can afford.

Our housing needs are not being met and the instability this causes in people’s lives has a tremendous economic cost—you can’t prepare your resume on a street corner. Nor is it cheap for taxpayers: the costs of medical care, shelters and day programs for the homeless are more expensive than providing them a place to live.

Yet instead of putting resources in to fix the problem, the federal government is actually pulling back support. Over the next ten years, federally-funded mortgages are coming due for housing co-operatives that provide affordable housing. Tied to those mortgages are operating agreements that provide vital funding for the co-ops and there are no plans to renew these subsidies. Without them, over 200,000 of the most vulnerable Canadians could lose their homes.

The Conservatives are quietly booking $1.6 billion in annual “savings” from this cut to affordable housing and have no plans to reinvest the money.

And that’s not the end of it: the federal Investment in Affordable Housing Program expires in 2014, but the Conservatives have still not begun negotiation for its renewal. It could get rolled into a general infrastructure fund, moving this money out of housing.

Why is this happening? Because the Conservatives believe housing is a provincial responsibility and want to get out of it—they even said so in the 2006 Budget.

That’s just wrong. The Liberal Party believes that the opportunity to succeed begins with a roof over your head. By investing in affordable housing, the federal government could help put some of the most at-risk Canadians back on their feet, living healthy lives and contributing to the economy.

It’s time the federal government to do more for affordable housing, not less.

John McCallum is Liberal MP and Liberal Party Housing Critic.

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Minister Baird Condemns Suicide Attack at Pakistani Mosques

Posted on 06 February 2013 by admin

February 1, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

“Canada condemns today’s deadly attack outside two mosques in Hangu, Pakistan, which killed at least 20 and wounded scores more.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims’ families and friends, and I wish a swift recovery to the injured.

“This violent extremism—targeting people in their places of worship—is despicable and is a stark reminder of the grave threat that terrorism poses to the people of Pakistan and the region.

“We expect that the perpetrators of this horrendous attack will be brought to justice.

“Canada supports the courageous efforts of our allies to prevent extremist groups from arming and organizing within Pakistan.

“Canada will continue to work with the people of Pakistan and our allies to help Pakistan address the challenges it faces.”

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Minister Kenney Announce New Start-Up Visa

Posted on 31 January 2013 by admin

Toronto: Canada will launch a brand new program on April 1 to recruit innovative immigrant entrepreneurswho will create new jobs and spur economic growth, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

“Our new Start-Up Visa will help make Canada the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest to launch their companies,” said Minister Kenney. “Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.”

The Start-Up Visa Program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations in Canada that have experience working with start-ups and who can provide essential resources. The Program is part of a series of transformational changes to Canada’s immigration system that will make it faster, more flexible and focused on Canada’s economic needs.

As a way to help these in-demand entrepreneurs fulfil their potential and maximize their impact on the Canadian labour market, they will require the support of a Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund before they can apply to the Start-Up Visa Program. Initially, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will collaborate with two umbrella groups: Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO). These groups will identify which members of their associations will be eligible to participate in the Program. CIC is also working with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation to include business incubators in the list of eligible organizations as soon as feasible.

“CVCA is honoured to partner with the Government of Canada in the launch of the Start-Up Visa Program,” said Peter van der Velden, President of the CVCA and Managing General Partner of Lumira Capital. “Through this Program, we want to attract high-quality entrepreneurs from around the globe and help build best-in-class companies in Canada.”

 “We’re excited to be a part of the Start-Up Visa Program,” said Michelle Scarborough, Board Chair of NACO. “Working with CIC and angel groups across the country, this initiative will create Canadian jobs and position Canada as a leader in innovation.”

The Start-Up Visa is the first of its kind and will be a powerful incentive to attract individuals with great potential who will have a real impact on the Canadian economy. By providing sought-after immigrant entrepreneurs with permanent residency and immediate access to a wide range of business partners, Canada will position itself as a destination of choice for start-ups. Linking forward-thinking immigrant entrepreneurs with established private sector organizations is essential to the success of both investors and entrepreneurs in building companies that will compete globally and create Canadian jobs.

 “Jobs, growth and long-term prosperity remain priorities for the Government of Canada, and this new Start-Up Visa Program underscores our commitment to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the Canadian labour market,” Minister Kenney concluded.

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Baird Attends Pre-Inauguration Dinner

Posted on 31 January 2013 by admin

January 21, 2013 – Washington, D.C. - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird welcomes invited guests, mainly political and business leaders with an interest in the Canada-U.S. relationship, to a pre-Inauguration dinner January 20, 2013, at the official residence of Canada’s ambassador to the United States.

Since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into force in 1989, Canada’s annual GDP has risen by $1.1 trillion, nearly 4.6 million jobs have been created in Canada, and two-way trade in goods and services with the United States has more than tripled.

However, Canada is not immune to global challenges from beyond our borders. Canada’s economy will be affected by the health of our most important trading partner. That’s why our government has:

  • developed the Beyond the Border Action Plan, the most significant bilateral agreement between our two countries since the North American Free Trade Agreement;
  • partnered to build a new bridge between Windsor and Detroit that will significantly increase the trade and economic growth between our two countries;
  • worked with the United States to gain a seat at the negotiating table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and
  • signed an extension to the Softwood Lumber Agreement, which secured Canadian softwood lumber access to the U.S. market until 2015.

The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the Beyond the Border Action Plan, which is the largest bilateral agreement since NAFTA, have benefited Canadian families enormously.

Our government will continue to engage constructively with the Obama administration as we look to create more jobs, hope and opportunity in our two great nations.

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