The Canadian Election 2008

I went to the Environment & Education Forum at the Lethbridge College yesterday evening for the “last chance to grill [my] federal election candidates”.

I was unimpressed with the fact that only three parties showed up to debate (how does the green party expect to be taken seriously, when their candidate doesn’t show up).

The NDP’s Mark Sandilands was clearly the top candidate, with his well considered responses and comprehensive knowledge of the issues.

Incumbent candidate Rick Casson on the other hand, did not fair so well. The other candidates, specifically Mark Sandilands, poignant questions had him stumbling time after time. I can’t believe the polls indicate that Casson is going to be re-elected, his campaign basically consisted of admitting that his party has made lots of mistakes and that, “that’s something we should do better at”. It’s like he’s not even trying because he knows that running in a conservative stronghold means it doesn’t matter what he says.

The Conservative Party is destroying our environment, wants to reduce funding to the arts, gives tax cuts to the rich, and they refuse to support the Kelowna Accord which was intended to improve the lives of aboriginal people.

And they don’t want to let the Canadian people know their plans, refusing to publish their platform until a week before the election. Local candidate Rick Casson told us last night, a week is plenty of time to talk about the plan, and besides, it’s basically like our previous plan anyway. He didn’t notice any changes worth mentioning. As I mentioned, tonight was THE LAST PUBLIC FORUM WITH THEM BEFORE THE ELECTION.

Why would the people of Lethbridge vote for such a callous uncaring party?

One more thing that bothers me is their desire to introduce copyright legislation that is harmful to everyday citizens making the copyright system here more like the one in the US—even though the US law is seriously out of touch. The new law would, among other things, bring into action a fine of up to $500 for copying legally purchased CD’s onto MP3 players, not to mention it would make it illegal to try and circumvent anti-copyright software, making it illegal to engage in the practise of Fair Dealing (Fair Use in the USA).

The conservatives want to remain in Afghanistan. In 2006 they made it a campaign promise to be out by 2009—I learned last night that they’re now planning to wait until at least 2012, even though the Senlis report on Canadian development in Afghanistan has stated that we are “making no headway. On the ground in Kandahar… CIDA’s efforts are non-existent.”

I could go on!

But I won’t. I’ll just hope that when Canada goes to the polls on Tuesday that we vote for the party most likely to beat out the conservatives.


Election Questions For Local Lethbridge MP Candidates

Things are turning political in Canada.

While perusing a Boing Boing article this morning I decided to imitate an idea I found there. An astute Canadian has written the MP candidates within his constituency asking four simple questions.

I followed suit and emailed the Lethbridge constituents. Here are their responses, edited only to fit in with each other on this posting. The text has not been changed.

Reply Legend (in alphabetical order):

BlueRick Casson (Conservative Party of Canada)
*GreenErin Matthews (Green Party of Canada)
*RedKen Nicol (Liberal Party of Canada)
OrangeMelanee Thomas (NDP of Canada)

*-indicates the candidate has not yet responded.

1) There has been a lot of talk of a Canadian version of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) Would you support this? and why?

Rick Casson: Currently we are researching with Conservative national office your inquiry regarding the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Melanee Thomas: I would not support a Canadian version of the DMCA because many Canadians are personally and legally using music and other mediums on-line with intent to not infringe copyrights. I think that laws like the DMCA violate freedoms of expression and that there are better ways to balance copyrights and expression in law.

1b) Do you support changes at all to our existing copyright laws?

Melanee Thomas: I do not support anything specific at this time. I would have to do more research on this subject. If you have any feedback or ideas on this topic, I would be interested in hearing what you have to say.

2) Mr. Martin says he supports the change to allow same sex marriage, while Mr. Harper says he would put it to a free vote – How would you vote?

Rick Casson: I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman.

Melanee Thomas: I would vote in favour of equal marriage. Sexual orientation is a “personal immutable characteristic” and is inalienable from a person, therefore, we need to write laws that protect them, not unlike how we have law to protect people based on their religious beliefs or gender or race.

3) Do you support the Kyoto accord? why?

Rick Casson: Koyoto Accord is Not a made in Canada solution. We will become an environmental world leader by focusing on clean air, clean water, clean land, and clean energy Canadians know we are fortunate to live in the most beautiful country in the world, a country with the world’s largest fresh water supply and abundant natural resources and wildlife species. But we also know we cannot take this natural environment for granted. We must be responsible stewards of our land, water, and air.

We need results, not just talk Paul Martin and the Liberal government have long talked a good game on the environment, but delivered little. While he was in office, Paul Martin’s own shipping company, Canada Steamship Lines, was charged with polluting Halifax Harbour. As the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has demonstrated, Canada faces “an environmental and sustainable development deficit” caused in part by the “gap between the commitments the federal government has made and the results it has achieved.” Canadians must demand better stewardship for their environment. They must demand a government that will be less interested in flashy announcements at international conferences, and more interested in environmental results.

A Conservative government will work with Canadians to address real environmental problems and develop a longterm vision for a healthy, sustainable environment as a trust for future generations.

The Plan
A Conservative government will implement the commitments of Stephen Harper’s February 2004 paper, “Towards a Cleaner Canada,” including:

  • Legislate caps on smog causing pollutants like Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Negotiate power plant and smokestack emissions limits with the United States and border states. Investigate a cap-and-trade system that will allow firms to generate credits by reducing smog-causing pollutants.
  • Increase fines for first occurrences of ocean spills to $500,000 plus clean-up costs. Pass legislation providing that ships and their cargo can be seized and impounded until fines are paid. Extend funding for radar satellite surveillance on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts.
  • Initiate an audit of federal contaminated waste sites to determine potential health risks and clean-up costs. Support spending $4 billion over ten years to clean up contaminated sites such as the Sydney tar ponds.
  • Allow businesses to deduct costs of brownfield remediation expenses, and take further measures recommended by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy to reduce the risks to the private sector of brownfield development.
  • Work with the provinces to develop a national strategy for alternative energy and energy conservation, including increasing the use of renewable energy sources, research and development into alternative energy and energy efficiency technology, and a long term study of Canada’s energy situation that considers the relative cost of energy sources, energy security, trade relations, and environmental conservation.
  • Redirect federal spending aimed at fulfilling the terms of the increasingly irrelevant Kyoto Protocol to concrete programs to ensure clean air, water, and land, and to promote energy conservation.

Melanee Thomas: I support the Kyoto accord for several reasons. First, I enjoy hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park (which is in the Lethbridge constituency), but I do NOT enjoy looking out over the prairie vista from a mountain top and seeing smog. Air tests have indicated that particles and pollution from China have blown across the jet stream to settle in our area. This indicates to me that we need a global solution to pollution and climate change. My generation is being left with an environmental debt that I don’t know how we’re going to pay off.

One other reason why I support Kyoto is the result of the activities of two petrochemical corporations: Suncor and Beyond Petroleum. Both companies have implemented their Kyoto commitments, and both companies are MAKING MONEY. This is evidence that making our business environmentally sustainable and making our buildings, etc environmentally friendly creates jobs and boosts the economy.

4) This is the most important question, how will you make sure that your voice is the voice of Lethbridge while you are MP?

Rick Casson: The most important issue(s) for an MP to address are the ones which interest, impact or are of greatest importance to his constituents. By being connected to his constituents through personal contact, or telephone and e-mail communications a wide-range of diverse, often complex issues are brought forward. Since being elected Lethbridge Member of Parliament in 2000 I have attended in excess of 500 functions also attended by thousands of constituents. During each event opinions, ideas and general thoughts are shared on national and regional topics, yet in all cases the bearing an issue has on a local level is of greatest significance.

Melanee Thomas: I will actively seek out the positions and opinions of all constituents, including those who are not traditionally NDP supporters. Lethbridge very clearly has a plurality of opinions, so it is important to be open about my own moral code and worldview so that constituents know where I am coming from as well. I have already committed to quarterly meetings with several important community groups if elected, which will help keep me in touch with the community as well. Above all, I plan to continue with canvassing and door knocking because I’ve found that people are most open and honest and upfront when asked what is important to them. That kind of feedback needs to be sought out, and I am more than prepared to make that a central part of my job as MP.