Tuesday, April 22

Statement by the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Leader of the Official Opposition, on Earth Day

Press Release Date: April 22, 2008

Statement by the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Leader of the Official Opposition, on Earth Day

Each year, on April 22, Canadians join the international community in marking Earth Day.

Originally established to raise environmental awareness, today Earth Day is celebrated in more than 180 countries by more than 500 million people who seek to renew their commitment to our planet, to engage their leaders in cleaning up our environment and to address serious issues such as climate change.

On this Earth Day, I encourage all Canadians to partake in environmental activities, such as tree-planting or community clean-up events. Let us also reflect on how we can continue our commitment to our natural environment all year long. Small changes in our every day habits – whether switching to energy-efficient light bulbs or using public transit more often – can make a big difference to the future of our planet.

Together, we can create a cleaner and greener Canada from coast to coast for generations to come.


Press Office
Office of the Leader of the Opposition
(613) 995-5904

Local: Michael Cormican, Liberal Candidate, Lethbridge Ph. 381-7635. Practical ideas!

Monday, April 21

Earth Day and Earth Week a Good Time to Reflect on Climate Change

The following is a copy of the Press Release distributed to media outlets today - April 21, 2008

LETHBRIDGE: April 22 is designated as Earth Day and the Liberal Party of Canada, Lethbridge Riding Association and Michael Cormican, Liberal Candidate is encouraging Canadians to view Earth Day/Week as a time to reflect on the urgent need for some serious action on climate change.

“Reconciling humanity with the planet is the most important issue of the 21st century,” said Candidate Cormican. “At the forefront of this challenge is the climate change crisis – the most urgent ecological concern of our generation.

“The old way of thinking – that you have to choose between a clean environment and a strong economy – is not only wrong, it is harmful to both. It demonstrates a lack of ingenuity. It is the way this current Conservative government thinks, and it is they – the old thinkers – who will be left behind.

“Those who will prosper in the 21st century understand that we need to build a sustainable economy for future generations. Just as previous Liberal governments created Medicare and the Canada Pension Plan, we now need to use the prosperity we have created to help Canada address the environmental challenges of the 21st century,” he said.

Cormican said that while Canadians are ready for a green revolution, they need the right leadership to make it a success – and the Conservative government is not providing that leadership.

“Where Canadians recognize global warming as the challenge of our generation, Conservatives are still in denial. They still believe that helping the environment means hurting the economy.

“We believe the federal government needs to be doing its share to build a green, energy-efficient, competitive economy and a sustainable world.

That’s why the Liberal Party has already announced that we would give incentives to increase clean renewable power, such as wind and solar, so it could provide at least 10 percent of Canada’s total electricity output by as early as 2015.

That’s why we have ensured that every commitment we make will have a green aspect to it. Our major support for manufacturers, for example, will help them to produce green technology and products,” said Cormican. “And it is why we have proposed putting a price on carbon”.

The concept of pricing carbon – either through a cap and trade system or a tax – will help people to make smarter choices to avoid polluting our atmosphere, while spurring the innovation to make our companies green leaders in the world economy.

This will be an important part of our broader plan that will help achieve our vision for a healthy, sustainable economy and environment for ourselves, our children and the generations to come.
“However, our plan can not be accomplished without the participation and input from all Canadians. We can not do it alone.

“We will be calling upon all Canadians to embrace our bold new vision and work together to accomplish its goals of a richer, fairer, greener Canada for everyone,” he said.

For More Information contact: The Liberal Party of Canada or Michael at 381-7635 or email him at www.michaelcormican.com

Monday, April 14

Report on ‘Not for Sale - Promoting Public Solutions in Today’s Alberta’ Conference, Edmonton April 4–6, '08

I was really glad I was able to attend this conference on ‘Not for Sale -Promoting Public Solutions in Today’s Alberta’ held in Edmonton April 4 – 6, 2008. It was sponsored by Public Interest Alberta. It was most informative and invigorating.

There was a keynote speech by Avi Lewis, Award Winning Journalist and Filmmaker, on Friday evening on Privatization – the Fundamental Struggle of our Time. Unfortunately, due to another commitment I was unable to be there for it. From comments by other speakers on Saturday and Sunday it sounded like it was really captivating and inspiring and judging by the quality of the content and other speakers of the event I can believe it. Speakers featured local, national and international leaders in advocacy and public policy research.
The focus of the conference was on advocating on issues of privatization. This conference was designed as an opportunity for organizations to meet and learn from people from various public interest sectors and to build the network for effective action on issues of privatization.
We heard that every part of the public sector is facing the ongoing threat of privatization: healthcare, seniors’ care, childcare, the environment, education, municipal infrastructure and others. Yet civil society in Alberta and around the world has been standing up to big business and successfully promoting public solutions.

The first Plenary Session on Saturday was on ‘Selling the P3 Myth – the British Experience’. Speaker Allyson Pollock, one of Britain’s top researchers and advocates on privatization of health care and P3s. The usual arguments used by the government pushing to prepare for privatization are; competition, efficiency, innovation and value for money. The claim that competition would force costs down never materialized, in fact the opposite and small businesses were muscled out. Sooner or later staff cuts occur and evaluations show that service was questionable. Later when independent reviews and evaluations were completed it was found that studies quoted by bidders were suspect and in essence seen as “smoke and mirrors” to justify their claims and it was noted that the chief Auditor for the UK has been forced to retire.

Another major concern found after years of experience from privatization, is that the partnership dictates to varying degrees the type of service that can be offered. In effect, government loses control and yet is expected to top-up funding shortfalls when needed. Ms. Pollock provided numerous examples of problems and profits gone wild. The most notable of these was a private funder of the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary who bought-in for 500,000 pounds and later sold his shares for 168 million pounds! Ms. Pollock also noted that the new international rules for accounting has forced the UK Government to put all P3 costs back on their in their books again. A couple other interesting notes were that only 11 of 500 PPP projects reported on time and that Wembley Stadium, which was supposed to cost only 326.5 million pounds when contracted out, wound up costing 900 million. Apparently similar anomalies and stories are available for nursing homes which were privatized. Any of these stories can be verified on the web.

Deb Brennan, International expert, corporate childcare and one of Australia’s leading researchers presented on the privatization of childcare. She kicked off describing current childcare in Australia as “big box childcare”. Apparently the Australian Government started the process of preparation for P3s in Childcare in 1970 with changes in the Childcare Act. First it grew as non-profit but in the 80’s the government though implying hesitancy were talking the usual lingo: needing innovation, business involvement etc. and then business started lobbying for it. By 1990 privatization was underway and by 1991 the government changed legislation to cover fees for “private for profit”. The Groves family, originally from South Africa, has monopolized and is listed on the Stock Exchange. Check ABC Future One.
The Groves venture has spread into the US, UK, Indonesia, New Zealand, Canada and even China. With 500 centers in the US dealing with 80,000 children we get a sense of the extent of it. The company has also got into stores selling children’s supplies and other companies purchasing and performing maintenance of the centers. The company refuses to allow research in the industry; nevertheless, independent research and evaluation have been achieved outside of the centers and provide a lot of information with cause for concern. Notice that fees rose by 88% in a 5 year period. There may be more places, but there’s no choice due to monopoly. In Alberta check 123 Global.
Heather-Jane Robertson, Vice President of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and researcher and author spoke on “Education, the private sector and the privatization of education – Assault on Schools”. The pro-privatization lobby is increasing in the US and the latest there usually follows here. Privatization will always figure out a way to get around issues. Check latest by Naomi Klein; currently New Orleans. Check the dictionary and you will find that privatization is linked to commercialization and latter is linked to the spirit of commerce. Issues of note: everyone taking care of themselves does not necessarily mean they take care of everyone. Individualization encourages separation from those around you. Privatization done by stealth and design – they chip away at it. Often they can not agree on a cause but usually agree on outcome and goals. They weaken the existing system so they can move in and buy to provide opportunity to make money on it. The wish by some segments of the population to be different on theological grounds supports privatization.
There are also privatized schools within the public system. Ideologues and the right wing of government form alliances to achieve goals. Since everyone is not of the same level or ability “no child left behind” policy and legislated measuring of achievement sets up for failure and wittingly or unwittingly sets the stage and need for tutoring which increases the cost. There is also a high drop-out rate. Teachers lose rights; one was silenced by the state for speaking out against war because, as a commodity, a teacher is not allowed to speak out. This one lost a job and house.
The situation can be ironic: picture kids receiving malaria shots with our help, while smoke of factory pollutes in the background (as it produces cheap consumer goods for us) who later die from lung diseases. It is difficult not to see the system as designed for some to get ahead at others expense.
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, author and internationally acclaimed advocate against the corporate control of water and the global trade system had us all captivated with her stories and facts from around the world.

Where has all he water gone? We must remember that only a small percentage of the world’s water is fresh water. The hydrologic cycle has been upset by thoughtless pollution from industrialization, and without our realizing it, commercialization of water has occurred to the point that it is now treated as a commodity. Poorer and third-world countries are especially vulnerable and affected as entrepreneurs move fast to buy up rights to supplies. They are often assisted by the World Bank which will not give loans unless they agree to allow privatization.

Pollution is the largest concern.

Some interesting facts: all of Africa’s 667 lakes are polluted. China, because of its policies, is creating new desert at the rate of half the size of Rhode Island every year and has proposed taking water from the Himalayas for 400 of 600 largest cities.
Around Johannesburg, South Africa, water is metered even in the shantytowns.
Water is seen as one of the main issues covered under the ‘Security and Prosperity’ Agreement between Canada, USA and Mexico and is expected to be treated the same as oil. To deal with shortages the WTO has proposed that water be put on the open market; while most believe none should own it and many still believe we have it in abundance and it will not run out. Australians are making water from sewage and some propose that grey water be used in industry. The CD Howe and Fraser institutes (and guess what, they’re right-wing think tanks) want a new NAFTA agreement. I say, I welcome a new NAFTA if it is based on justice, fair compensation and sustainability, and if it cancels the right of corporations to sue governments.

However, people are fighting back. Two years ago the Indian Government closed down Coca Cola. In 2004 Uruguay voted water as a right. “Legislation will not restrain the heart but will restrain the heartless”.
After each keynote speech attendees were expected to participate in breakout sessions that discussed considerations and recommendations, including:
Saving Money? Debating Public vs. Private Efficiency: to promote public enterprise, advocates were expected to counter the assumption that the private sector is inherently more efficient. An abundance of Canadian evidence shows that this assumption is false. Participants were expected to prepare as advocates to assist in terms of the debate, and respond to the claims of the private sector!
Public Participation in the Process: Also, sessions were expected to motivate Citizens to Take Action on P3s: It is believed that much of the population is opposed to privatization, and P3s are still not well understood by the public. Are P3s equivalent to privatization, or do they present unique challenges? How can the dangers of P3s be communicated to the public in a way that will engage citizens to take action?

Framing Privatization: Effective Media Strategies: Engaging the media is central to promoting public solutions and opposing privatization. Media advocacy can counter misconceptions about private sector efficiency, expose the loss of accountability that accompanies privatization, and be a useful tool for education. How can advocates influence media messages and frame the privatization debate?

Know the Difference: Integrating Research and Public Advocacy: It is recommended and absolutely essential that advocates of public solutions are well-informed on all points, and actively support relevant research. Which research questions are the most valuable? How can the results of research be used in advocacy? What are the best ways to support research on public enterprise?

The Politics of Privatization: Influencing Elected Officials: Advocating to political decision-makers requires a unique approach and a particular level of argument and detail. Building the tools to influence elected officials maximizes the impact of media and public advocacy. How do we best influence officials? Which issues require different kinds of arguments? Are current strategies effective?

Taking Action Together – Building an Effective Provincial Network: Privatization in Alberta has many faces, and has an impact on every sector of public service. To be effective as advocates, we must see the links between different sectors and come together to speak out on shared concerns. How do we work together to form coalitions and minimize conflict? Are existing organizations cooperating effectively? What concerns do we all have in common?

Sessions included – Childcare, Cities, Democracy, Education, Environment, Healthcare, Living Wage, Secondary and Post
-Education and Seniors.

I wish you could have been there!

Summarized by Michael Cormican

Wednesday, April 9

Calgary Fundraiser with new MP, Bob Rae

On Friday, April 4, I attended a meeting followed by a fundraiser dinner with Bob Rae, former Premier of Ontario and now again re-elected as a Liberal MP in Toronto. It was great to meet him again he is such a sharp and pragmatic guy and it always buoys me up to be among like-minded friends. The meeting was for candidates and key party brass from Southern Alberta to provide opportunity to meet, share information and ideas and reassure us in uncertain times and as to the apparent lack of action by the caucus. Mr. Rae listened to what was said by those present and reassured us that despite what the news media and the Conservatives portray the party is healthy and well, Mr. Dion has a handle on everything and will support an election when the time is right for Canadians.

Mr. Rae also assured us his debts have been paid off and encouraged as he did later in his rousing dinner speech to help others and the party by donating to our max since in the interests of democracy the party now has to depend on the members for its funds. The dinner was a sell-out and at $55.00 a plate was within the average member’s reach. It was great to renew acquaintances and friendships. As soon as the dinner was over I headed for Edmonton as I had arranged to attend a conference on P3s sponsored by Public Interest Alberta. The conference was a most exciting one and most appropo as you will see in my separate report. Keep tuned!

Michael Cormican, Federal Liberal Candidate, Lethbridge


To help keep you updated on some of my activities as Liberal candidate the following was sent to the Lethbridge Herald on March 30 though it appears not to have been published to date:

Any fair-minded person would have to admit, Mr. Dion has experienced and withstood more than his share of scrutiny and denigration before and after the election as Liberal Leader. Of course, it would be a bit much to expect those committed otherwise ideologically to agree especially when they contribute actively to it.

Unfortunately, our local MP, Mr. Casson, from whom I expected a higher code of conduct, was reported in The Herald as having fallen afoul in this respect in his enthusiasm and support of such questionable activity. Some see it as defamation. Some, from correspondence sent to him (and copied to me) believe he is abusing privileges granted to him and his office in actively generating and distributing such distorted misinformation. Reportedly he attempted to justify it, even claimed he hadn’t reviewed it. I certainly wouldn’t want anything of which I didn’t approve going out under my name.

I too conveyed my concerns to Mr. Casson on March 25, but as of writing this I have not received a response from him, or even an unapproved reply from his office. Dare I suggest it might prove difficult for him to work up an acceptable spin and suffice it to say he may have gone beyond acceptable bounds?

It’s reassuring to realize there are many people who have a strong sense of decency and fairness, and are prepared to speak up. Let’s hope the dirty and negative propaganda war perpetrated by Mr. Harper and the Conservatives has gone as far as most Canadians are prepared to allow.

It takes a person of strength, integrity and patience to withstand such attacks, lies and misinterpretation for so long. Fortunately, more Canadians are seeing Mr. Harper and the Conservatives (including Mr. Casson) for what they really are; and will replace them, hopefully before our economy becomes a shambles, as historically occurs under a Conservative regimen.

Canadians want an ethical government of vision and action. Canadians want a strong economy that will produce a Fairer, Greener and Richer Canada. Canadians want immediate action on the environment, not smoke and mirror projections for the next 40 years; inaction that will take us past the point of no return.

It was for good reason that Mr. Dion was chosen as the leader and is fully supported by Liberals, especially those who competed for the position. Oh what a team and what a breath of fresh air!

Michael Cormican, Liberal Candidate; Lethbridge Riding

Brief Update following Alberta’s recent ‘Provincial Election’

It’s now a month since our Provincial Election. Unfortunately, contrary to what we had hoped and to what appeared to be supported by many we encountered at the doors, the results were not what Liberals had hoped for. Of course, there is no use wasting time crying, and life still has to move along; so a few of the faithful cleared out the campaign office the day after Election Day and drove around and picked up the signs. The only offhand conclusion or observation we might make until we review the outcome more formally, is that considering the report that even fewer people turned out to vote than in previous elections, it may suggest that those who voted felt more comfortable voting for the status quo despite the opposition parties’ best efforts to convince them otherwise; and those who did not vote at all, were not interested in voting for change.

Already, only a month after the election, the Edmonton Journal on April 6 reported a disturbing signal from health Minister, Mr. Liepert, confirming our worst fears that the governing Conservatives, despite such a poor voter turnout, are reading the election results as supporting them to proceed with advocating the P3s (Private Public Partnerships) in the health area!
Of course, we are not surprised, and see this as an initial push once again to lead to further privatization, as advocated by Mr. Klein’s Third Way thrust.

I hate to say, “We told you so”, but unless you are a committed Conservative, believing in so-called less government and taxes; thinking or allowing yourself to be convinced that public services are unsustainable, believing that the marketplace has the answer and wanting opportunity for yourself to make money; you should realize that this government will not give up, but will come back at it time and time again. With all due respect, I suggest that we need to keep alert and be prepared to speak-up and act as necessary. I’m doing my part.

Since, as I’ve often said before, we cannot forget about political activity until the next election, I say that the next election campaign began the day after the last. Therefore, as ALP Regional Chair for the Southwest of the Province, I have arranged for a ‘Review of the Election Results’ on April 12, with the Presidents, Candidates and significant members of their teams. Although it was a Provincial Election, I believe my team and I can learn from this review. The plan is to compile and forward a report on our observations and recommendations to the ALP and to start working toward the next election opportunity.

However, let’s not concentrate on the overall poor result for a more viable opposition, other than to send our sympathy to the wonderful MLA’s who did not get sufficient votes to retain their seats, and to all the great Candidates who were not elected. Thanks for your efforts. Of course, we all know that in “losing” we don’t necessarily lose, but gain valuable experience and information for our future endeavors. We especially celebrate those Liberals who won: our leader Kevin Taft and our beloved Bridget Pastoor. They deserve our continued support, as we look forward to great things from them as they try to deal with more departments and responsibilities.

I’ve also resumed some activities for my own federal campaign with a little door-to-door work. As well, on March 25, I wrote to our MP, Mr. Casson, expressing my concerns about his unacceptable comments regarding Mr. Dion, which were reported in the Herald. I thought it fair to give him an opportunity to respond to me, but having received no response by March 31, I wrote to the Herald on the issue. To date it has not appeared. Hopefully it will appear soon. I’ll publish it on my blog for those who don’t get the Herald.
This past week-end I attended a sold-out fundraiser with Mr. Bob Rae, the new MP, then went on to Edmonton to attend a conference on P3s. (I’ll report separately on both the Calgary and Edmonton events) Stay tuned!

Michael Cormican, Federal Candidate, Lethbridge Riding April 6, 2008