Monday, August 25

Update

On August 9 Senator Joyce Fairbairn and I attended the Cardston Breakfast and Parade. It turned out to be on one of the hottest days we’ve had this summer. As a result I was privileged to be invited to attend the Mayor’s Luncheon with Senator Joyce, where I had the opportunity to meet a couple of other Mayors and councilors, and Chief Wayne (and Mrs.) Plume of the Blood Reserve. I also met and spoke with Broyce Jacobs, MLA and Mr. and Mrs. Kue Quon. I felt it was a very fruitful day.

Also, since last update, I attended several of the usual meetings, as some of the organizations don’t take a break for the summer. Time appears to fly, and at Aboriginal Housing we’re all excited that the site and foundations preparations are well underway for the Aboriginal ‘Koh Koonoon’ (Our Home) Housing project. Carrier Construction was the successful contractor.

Also, I had lots of family activity over the past couple of weeks with visits from both our sons and their families. On August 20th some of us attended The 20 cent Man, a play written by and featuring Peter Mueller. We’re all so busy it seems like time flies too fast. We really enjoyed the show which describes some of the hard life and experiences of some of those involved in building the Chief Mountain Highway in the 1930’s.

Also, I was accorded the honor of representing the Sik-ooh-kotoki Board of Directors along with President, Roland Cotton in the Lethbridge parade on August 19. Later that day over 50 local Liberals and supporters attended the annual ALP Picnic and corn roast at Henderson Lake Kiwanis Picnic Shelter. Provincial Leader, Kevin Taft and Jeanette attended as usual. In gratitude for his years, accomplishments and support to us in Lethbridge area we presented him with a copy of The High Level Bridge, a bottle of wine and a BBQ apron signed by those attending, courtesy of Adele Downs. Thank you for all your organizational work.

This past week we were all saddened by the announcement of the killing of ten French soldiers, the wounding of several others in the latest ambush in Afghanistan, as well as the killing of three more Canadians: bringing the total killed to 93. We extend our sympathy to the families of those brave people and hope the violence and outlook change soon.

In Ottawa the Tories continued their assault on democracy, as most of the Government MPs called to account by the Parliamentary Review Committee on the ‘In and Out’ Funding Scandal refused to show up, and the Conservative Party campaign chair came earlier than scheduled. It is speculated that he did so as a diversionary tactic, as well as to intimidate any witnesses that might show-up. When asked to leave he refused to do so and had to be ejected. Polls haven’t improved for the Government either.

With their latest cuts in Arts funding, one really has to wonder if the government is bent on self-destruction. Also, in keeping with their Tactical (‘Dirty Tricks’) Manual they’ve disrupted Commons Review Committees hearings, which some suspect is to justify calling an election ahead of the legislated October 2009 “fixed date” which Mr. Harper forced through last year supposedly to get away from perceptions that government manipulates election-timing to suit its needs. He’s also trying to blame the opposition for the mayhem when it’s plain to see it’s of their creation. Most of those involved in the “In and Out’ scandal who were summoned to testify to the committee, didn’t show up; eleven on one day and a couple including Doug Finley the Campaigning Chief and Sam Goldstein, both of whom had to be ejected for their behavior.

No wonder the public is cynical about politics! Fortunately for those interested in sports, however, the upbeat Olympics provided respite, and…wow! didn’t China really shine in their performance in the opening? What a spectacle! They really set the bar high for the next and subsequent Olympics. A big thank you to all the athletes, especially Canadians, for their performances and achievements.

On August 22nd I attended the ‘Welcome Home to Theo Tams’ in Coaldale. We’re very proud of our Canadian Idol finalist! On the 23rd I attended the Parade in Nobleford, met some of the local residents and had a burger. It was great to see so much pride and enthusiasm. Keep tuned for continuing developments, and if you have questions on the Green Shift please contact me and let’s continue our endeavor to make a ‘Richer, Fairer, Greener Canada’.

Michael Cormican
Liberal Candidate Lethridge Riding

Monday, August 4

Summary of Issues and Activity at the National Level in July

The following is a listing of recent key issues:
• Harper sought to keep Canada's negotiated climate change commitments to minimum at G8.
• July 10 - Bob Rae told Mr. Harper to “Engage, don’t rebuff China”
• July 11 - Demands again by Mr. Rae for repatriation of Omar Khadr to Canada
• Gerard Kennedy enlists Canada’s teachers to fight climate change and poverty by supporting the green shift
• St├ęphane Dion discusses Green Shift with Alberta youth (and wins “Best Dressed” at Calgary Stampede)
• “In and out” scandal continues to plague Conservatives and they continue to see no wrong.
• Reports indicate that under the Conservative plan, the CFIA will, among other things, pull back from inspecting meat and meat products, animal feed, and commercial seeds.
• July 16 - Canadians Speak Out in Support of St├ęphane Dion and the Green Shift. See on liberal.ca
• Also; I’ve got plenty of major newspaper ‘Third Party’ quotes applauding Mr. Dion and the Green Shift for his stance. If you’re interested please contact me.
• July 17 - Canada's Premiers and Territorial Leaders requested a meeting to revive and expand the Kelowna Accord
• July 17 - Conservative spokesperson confirmed that attacking Mr. Dion’s ‘Green Plan’ will be a key plank for next election
• July 17 – Benefits for rural and Northern Canada outlined in the Liberal Green Shift plan emphasized
• July 17 – John McCallum noted Economic woes, job losses and inflation mounts; Conservatives out of touch with global reality
• Tories' scurrilous attacks on election boss continue (and are ludicrous)
• Received a memo from a John Welsh saying Al Gore is using similar language now to Mr. Dion re “Green Shift’ i.e. "Tax what they burn, not what they earn".
• July 23 - Tory ad scheme in Quebec was illegal, watchdog says
• Brochure available on how Green Shift Plan will affect Seniors
• July 24 – Bevilaqua - Short-term workers not a long-term solution for immigration
• July 25 – Toronto Sun - Harper hits a snag: Who would've thought Stephane Dion could look like a winner?
• July 25 - Prime Minister Harper announces by-elections for September 8, 2008
• National Aboriginal Women’s Summit reinforces the need to address the root causes of violence against Aboriginal women.
• July 31 – National Post Editorial suggesting Elections Canada's Double Standard. And,
• The Green Shift continues to be well received.
• Aug 1 – Liberal Party response (also includes good news) to National Post misleading Editorial as follows:

Re: Elections Canada's Double Standard, editorial, July 31.

This editorial incorrectly states that, "Under the Elections Act, these [outstanding leadership] obligations should have been paid in full by June 3 of this year." In fact, June 3 was not a "repayment" deadline. Rather, leadership campaigns were required to report the status of unpaid claims and loans on that date, which then allowed them to be subject to a "binding agreement to pay." All our leadership candidates complied fully with the statutory requirements.

I also take issue with the statement: "There is little chance the remaining millions will be paid by the end of Elections Canada's grace period." In the past four months, the former leadership candidates raised a total of $977,381.97. As was reported today in La Presse, Liberal leader Stephane Dion raised $331,110 between April and June, and is on track to pay off the remainder of his debt.

On the other hand, the Conservatives seem to merit the special attention of Elections Canada. Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand, appointed to his post under the current Conservative government, has stated that the Conservative party is the only one to have participated in the "in-and-out" financing scheme in the last election. As a July 15 Canadian Press story notes: "Marc Mayrand indicated that the transactions may eventually put the Conservatives in violation of election spending limits by more than $1-million."

Douglas Ferguson, president, Liberal Party of Canada, Ottawa.

Provided by: Michael Cormican, Liberal Candidate, Lethbridge

Government and Tories continue Questionable Activities

Sorry Mr. Casson and fellow citizens:

The Conservative Party and the Conservative Government "don't get it", furthermore have no sense of boundaries. Twice in two days I've received a quasi survey form asking only one question and making misstatements some consider lies. I find it difficult to comprehend that anyone will tolerate one party exaggerating how great they are and in the same breath calling down others. It appears to have become the Conservatives approach to follow the lead of their Republican brothers using negative and scare ads to entice voters to them. Again, I'm reminded of the March "franking" issue which involved yourself and others.

Detraction and bullying may work sometimes, but for how long? Also, I'm reminded that detraction is a sin in some people's book. I shouldn't be surprised since you were like that when in opposition. Let's remember a zebra doesn't change stripes. News mediums showing unedited behavior from the House of Commons, even trips abroad speaks volumes. Really, you must feel threatened.

With no sense of boundaries one sees no line between what should be done by Government and what should be done by a party. On July 31, the Lethbridge Herald noted you "defended the practice as a means of disseminating the Federal Conservative message "unfiltered by the media"; yet you expect the public to accept your prejudiced presentation of the Liberal message e.g. the "Green Shift Plan" which you attacked and still attack despite what the experts say.

Your attitude smacks of "father knows best". One wonders about those around here who have said - "should there be anything else (but Conservative)". Are you aiming for a one party state? It's all typical of a "top down approach" or dictatorship.

You were elected to serve and care for people's needs, the economy, and govern instead of bullying. Mostly what we've got from you is broken promises, cut programs, a teetering economy and never an inkling of what's discussed under the Peace and Prosperity Agreement; and, all of you ferociously continue to tear Mr. Dion apart at home and abroad. Is that statesmanship?

The latest major concern is raised by the recently released Health Canada report that tells us frankly to expect increasing major health issues as a result of the worsening climate change you have denied for so long. Can we now expect more positive action?

Also, can you please identify what parties and when they used public taxes to advance their party's interest? Elections Canada hasn't given any such indications. Hats off to Mr. Mayrand, the man of integrity who since he was courageous enough to stand up to those that appointed him I trust would have no problem holding anyone else to account for wrongdoing.

I often said; I've lived long enough and seen how "good eventually prevails" and though some think they can get away with bad it only last for awhile. Please develop some sense of decency and refrain from such questionable behavior.

I believe Canadians are bright and in the next election will choose a government they believe will respect them and take the action needed and lead us off the dangerous road we're on. The government will help us rehabilitate our injured environment, open countless opportunities that will benefit us all and at the same time put more money in our pockets. Canadians want to be seen again as the caring community we've been known as; Canadians want a Richer, Fairer, Greener Canada we can all feel proud of again.

Michael Cormican, Liberal Candidate, Lethbridge

Sunday, August 3

Friendship Centers 37th Annual Convention in Quebec

As I said earlier I would publish this summary overview and it gives me great please to do so; here it is -

Association of Friendship Centers’ of Canada
Overview of 37th Annual Convention, Quebec City July 22 to 25, 2008

I felt honored with being given the opportunity to attend the above on behalf of Sik-ooh-kotoki Friendship Center, Lethbridge along with President Roland Cotton and Financial Advisor, Jim Short. Because of duties on the National Board Roland went a day before us and Jim and I flew out on July 22nd. The weather was more on the damp side except for the last day which had the sun shining and since it was in the middle of Quebec’s 400th Anniversary Celebrations we took in the opportunity to see the fireworks display on Wednesday, July 23. It was the most spectacular any of us saw to date. As we all agree such a milestone is a great achievement however, we should also remember the even greater achievement in that Aboriginals celebrated their same milestone thousands of years ago which reminds me of the graciousness of all speakers recognizing and thanking Quebec city and the Huron Wendat Indians for hosting us on their territory. Roland was waiting anxiously with Stetsons for us as we arrived in the hotel. I had to miss the first-time attendees session and we just had enough time to check in, drop our luggage and quickly return for the opening. The Alberta delegation wore Calgary Stampede Stetsons and what would a conference be without availability of trinket and clothing booths.

The official opening of the conference commenced at 6pm. Right-away I was impressed with arrangements for headphones. The guys in charge had it down pat; if you wanted same you exchanged your driver’s license for it. The booth for same was set-up inside the main doors in the conference room and all one had to do was exchange your driver’s license which was returned when you returned the set. It was intriguing to watch the speed with which they worked. Also, every session started and finished on time. Sure blows out the window any stereotypical thinking one might have with respect to “Aboriginal time”. Also, they accommodated with ease those needing to vent frustrations about bureaucracy and the residential schools resulting in it appearing as though adequate catharsis was allowed yet smoothly returning to the agenda each time. It was the best organized meeting I’ve seen in a long time. Keep it up guys!

Elder Dominique Rankin led prayers each morning recognizing the Great Spirit Creator and expressing appreciation for the bountifulness of earth and mother-nature. The conference Chairperson, Vera Pawis Tabobondung did a super job chairing as did those giving reports on their area of responsibility. Copies of all reports were included in the Conference Manual. For everyone’s benefit the goals and objective of Friendship Centers and the conference were summarized as reflected in promotion of equity and social justice for Urban Aboriginals. Various dignitaries, i.e. MNA, City etc. brought wishes from their respective posts. Areas reported on included the work of the Women’s Commission, Senators and Youth as well as each Province. A common emphasis was the need for leadership and that each needed to take responsibility for being the change that they want as well as the need to respect nature. Provincial Reports consisted of the usual progress and highlights over the year. Resolutions were dealt with appropriately including a report on the issue of Two Spirited’ (Homosexual oriented) people. Apparently it generated heated discussion last year.

Day two commenced with moving tributes of remembrance for two respected Senators that passed on to the spirit world during the year – Walter Schoenthal and Maurice Blondeau. Both Senators had decades of service and hours to their credit and are seen as most worthy of emulation. This was followed by presentation of the Financial Statement for the year and which was approved. The constraint presented by inadequate funding was noted. A new Auditor for the next three years was chosen. Apparently, funding doesn’t allow for expansion, thus necessitating waits by new locations wanting centers that must demonstrate viability on a volunteer basis before consideration for assistance freed from others not utilizing all their funding. It was also noted that there is no increase in funding for Aboriginal Apprenticeship programs.

Friendship Centers are encouraged to utilize elders and to use education and culturally appropriate programming. The need to use and put forward applications for the National Achievement Awards and Centers are encouraged to respect and formalize relationships they take seriously as well as to encourage the use of educational bursaries. The continuing issue of disenfranchisement of Aboriginal families from benefits as a result of member volunteering to serve in Canada’s armed forces was also raised and noted. It was noted more than once that the Federal Government needs to respond with more than money to back up the recent apology to those who suffered as a result of the Residential Schools and hopes were expressed for follow-through on the Kelowna Accord. We also heard from the Assistant Commissioner for RCMP Complaints Committee and we were assured of its independence, impartiality and process. People are encouraged to file complaints if issues arise.

Peter Dinsdale, National Executive Director updated us on policy and Research Initiatives and it was noted that of the 250,000 homeless Canadians about 80,000 are Aboriginal and efforts to deal with the homeless were lauded though it was also noted that discrimination persists to varying degrees. The shared model of Governance was lauded and the process which deferred voting to next day allowed time for participants to familiarize with nominees for Board and Executive positions. The necessity for nonalignment - independence of those elected at any board level was emphasized.

Day 3 saw a heated discussion with respect to the new secure ‘Certificate of Indian Status’ card to replace the old one in use for a number of years. Pilot projects were done in a couple of locations across the country and it is hoped to commence the project in September. Laptops will facilitate home visitation to register the incapacitated and the card will be in compliance with the North American Security and Prosperity Agreement. The Retail Association of Canada has endorsed it and discussions are underway with Pharmacy organizations. The card will be provided at no cost to the individual and once implemented in January or March will be accepted in place of a passport on entering the US. Although there was pressure for similar arrangement with other countries, there’s no assurance that such is possible because of international passport requirements. The evening concluded with us walking to the Citadel ramparts where we were treated to a banquet and Huron-Wendat traditional dance ceremonies. The ground was soaked but we were dry under canvas.

Questions had been raised ahead of time as a result of various Crown Ministers asking if Friendship Centers felt appropriately placed under Culture versus Indian Affairs and participants were prepared vote against any attempt to reposition them under INAC. However we were assured that there is no such move afloat. The major limitations noted were that the Indian Act does not deal with Aboriginals living off reservations and the Kelowna Accord does not deal with Metis. The importance of capacity-building and relationships was emphasized and lots of feedback was provided on various issues especially the lack of adequate funding for Friendship Centers.

In evaluation, as I said earlier, I was most impressed with the organization and smoothness of the conference and I felt included and appreciated in accord with one of the emphases of inclusion. Right-away, I was impressed with the organization, precision and timing as well as with the linguistic abilities of organizers and speakers. All spoke fluently in at least three languages; French, English and that of their tribe and alternating paragraphs with ease in all three as we heard the translations on our headsets. I felt assured the organization is in good hands, moving in a positive direction and I believe they deserve every support we can give since as I have often said “if any segment of community looks bad it is a reflection on all of us”. I wish and highly recommend that every member should take such opportunity to attend if possible and I express sincere appreciation for what I consider was an honor of a lifetime. And, yes; I got a couple souvenirs for my family. Gedomatsen.

Summarized by; Michael Cormican, Sik-ooh-kotoki Board, Lethbridge

July UPDATE

You’re probably wondering what’s been happening, it’s so long since my last update. Well, again a lot has been happening. Gloria and I and some of the family got together in beautiful Banff for some relaxation and catch-up. If you’ve been there this year you’ll know that the construction and refurbishing to soften the appearance of main-street has been completed and looks super. We can imagine what it will be like as the vegetation matures. Unfortunately, Gloria and our daughter could only afford a couple of days there. I too had to return for an important meeting in Lethbridge midweek but returned again. It was nice to have the break. On July 20th I carried on from there to Red Deer for a special meeting of the Alberta Liberal Party and on July 22 flew out to Quebec for the Annual Conference of Friendship Centers of Canada.

Woh! What a conference and experience. Super-organized and I was amazed that every speaker spoke and presented in three languages French, English and their native tongue. We also saw the spectacular fireworks on July 23 celebrating Quebec’s 400th Anniversary and we returned to Lethbridge at midnight on July 25. Since it was an important conference I’ll provide a copy of my summary report prepared for my fellow board members and staff here.

As you might guess my Liberal colleagues and I have had lots of communication back and forth on the ‘Green Shift’. Most of the public probably keep-up with such concerns as much as they want to through the papers and the news on radio or TV and you will probably have picked up most people agree or at least don’t disagree that something needs to be done to change how we treat the environment. There are the few skeptics who say they believe the effects of our modern day living creates little effect on our environment suggesting the changes we’re experiencing are no different than has happened at times here and there throughout the world since time began. They even try to suggest that nature will rectify the damage.

Well; I’m afraid I must continue to disagree with them and believing the experts I would like to err on the side of caution. Having been a scout I believe in minimizing the disturbance in our environment since as far as I’m concerned there are too many indicators that raise the red flag and too many highly respected scientists providing proof that back the need for concern. As has been said, if the tenth of ten surgeons was awaiting his test-results to confirm if you had cancer and nine told you already that you had it, would you waste time waiting to start treatment. And, though the Government appears to have changed their stance and are responding or at least admitting there may be a problem they continue to respond in accord with their ideological bent that they might as well be doing nothing other than attack the Liberal ‘Green Shift’. They attack Mr. Dion even more so since release of the plan which some suggest shows they’re worried how well the ‘Green Shift’ is being accepted by the public.

While the economy sputters in response to the US economic downturn the Government continues to act as though they were in campaign mode but really not wanting an election since polls for some time are not too favorable to them. Parliamentary Committees are almost dysfunctional so little is achieved. They appear to have developed the custom of releasing questionable announcements on a Friday evening when they obviously hope they might miss public attention. So considering the foregoing, the House being in recess for the summer and Mr. Dion more in the driver’s seat we likely will not hear an election call until Fall at the earliest or unless their luck changes. The news media noted Mr. Dion appearing perkier, “with a spring in his step” and appearing more like a Prime Minister every day. However, none of us should slack-off as we need every support we can get to ensure we will be the Governing party after the next election. I solicit yours and look forward in anticipation to the results of the next election.

Michael Cormican, Liberal Candidate, Lethbridge