Monday, May 30

Report on May 28 and 29 ALP Convention

As I had intended and published on social media I would be attending, I attended the ALP Convention in Calgary. As anticipated it was really exciting from several perspectives including that young people and obviously new faces were there. Some disclosed previous affiliation and disenchantment with other parties. Between those coming and going to attend sessions of choice I estimate the number to have been upwards of 200. I guesstimate about 150 to 170 for the banquet and riveting speech by former MP, Mark Holland who laid to rest any fears some may have had or projected about demise of the Liberal Party and the pervasive tone of the w/e encouraged all Liberals to work together and that we start immediately.


Sessions for the week-end were also different and exciting as inferred from the theme of the convention “Politics Re-imagined’ and unfortunately as usual we had to make choices since sessions were run simultaneously. In addition to some of the usual topics Rev. Kevin Powell, Lethbridge presented on community and there was also a lot of discussion on social media use and its benefits as part of campaigning strategy.

Kudos to our enthusiastic new young leaders – Matt Grant, Convention Chair, Erick Ambtman, President; Corey Hogan, Executive Director, Corina Ganton, Operations Manager, David Swann, Interim Leader and the many others that created and executed the successful schedule that achieved everything they wanted and which not only is long overdue but is most appropriately timely given the larger political climate. Thanks to all of you for such an upbeat successful w/e.

Another highlight of the w/e was hearing from the four declared Candidates viying for leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party. The other important information that surfaced though some had speculated on the possibility already is the high probability of the Conservatives calling an election for mid-November since Gary Mar, Conservative front-runner has already stated he will call an immediate election. Their new leader will be known on Oct. 2. So we can look forward to an exciting summer of political campaigning so we need everyone to jump on-board right-away.

From a strategic and pragmatic viewpoint it makes sense that we should expect a Provincial election soon since it is almost four years since last election and it is expected that Conservatives will want to use “campaigning momentum" in anticipation of re-election and before other party leaders can get established and gain momentum; so they think! (They also feel buoyed by their federal majority. Also, Wildrose Alliance support has apparently slowed varying between 25% and 30%. It is speculated Conservatives will want to take advantage of such as well as in hopes of avoiding further downturn that might occur in the economy). All constituencies need to ensure AGMs are held and Financial Statements submitted as required so they can be registered and actively organizing in election preparation mode.

Election preparedness must also include active financial generation as emphasized by Josipa and Ana Petrunic, co-presentors to help with election preparedness. Their dynamism  was infectious. Since our new party openness is expected to facilitate those wanting to support but not wanting membership it is hoped many more people will be attracted and become more familiar with Liberalism. A special thanks to Corey Hogan and team for seeing through the long needed overhaul of ALP By-laws.

Convention attendees were also excited to hear that that the party has effectively eliminated the long-time debt from previous campaigns that has been hanging over our heads. So with a long established record, openness, transparency and being in the best financial shape ever it is anticipated we will continue to attract those wishing to harness and adopt change; however, everyone needs to take responsibility for expanding and increasing our numbers so we can take advantage of the spirit of change and opportunity all around us.

Josipa Petrunic and Michael Cormican, recent Federal Candidates were announced as co-chairs of the ALP Leadership Campaign. You’ll be hearing from us very soon since time is of the essence and the campaign will be short too culminating on Sept. 10 after conclusion of voting and announcement of our new Leader.

Michael Cormican, South West Regional Chair; Alberta Liberal Party

Friday, May 27

Review and Renewal of Liberalism

It's great to see the new ideas being suggested and published by the younger Liberals with respect to review and renewal of Liberalism.

I agree with Bal, Tyler and the young folk; we shouldn’t rush into decisions though we need to start working on review and further ideas immediately - in a sense; get our act together, and fast. We must be open to new ideas and possibly loser arrangements as well as look at re-union of Federal and Provincial Liberals. Keep the ideas flowing.

I have believed for a long time that with having separate Provincial and Federal entities we’re feeding into separation and divisiveness which the Conservatives and others would like to continue since it will keep us out of the picture and success that much longer.

Re-union would eliminate duplicity and conflict and the time and energy saved can be put to better use expanding our great red tent. It must be possible since it seems to work for the Conservatives and from here-on we can not afford to waste time or resources; we just need to think of the best interests of the larger entity. Let’s get moving.

Regardless of what is decided this week-end you can expect to hear from me on what we need to do next. A major consideration for each of us must be; to get more people involved. If we are to plan appropriately for the future we must incorporate the ideas of the broadest possible swath of "would-be" Liberals - progressive thinking. Let's remember that basically Liberals are centrists believing in accommodating the most good for the most people as well as being realistic about our surroundings and especially the economy.

Tuesday, May 24

Reminder of ALP Convention, May 28 & 29; Calgary

Looks like we can expect exciting things at ALP Liberal Renewal Convention Sat. & Sun., May 28 & 29 considering the latest musings on webon renewal and the w/e schedule. I look forward to exciting renewal of policy & friends & look forward to seeing you there too. You may register online @ Albertaliberal.com
Michael

Thursday, May 19

Post-election and new cabinet announcement observations.

Past couple weks been busy tieing lose-ends & resumed commitments as we awaited Mr. Harper’s new cabinet announcement. No surprise; it's larger & he followed with a camouflaged announcement adding defeated candidates to the Senate. So much for his previous concerns on size of gov and reform of Senate. We can kiss Senate reform goodbye. No wonder public continue cynical of gov. & politicians. I respectfully suggest, from hereon we need to watch as he looks for money for unnecessarily expensive jet-fighters & mega-prisons. Now that he has his majority we need to watch for possibility of increase in  in human-rights and environmental abuses as they and the establishment race to increase their incomes during the extended opportunity for the next few years. Michael

Tuesday, May 17

Thank you to all for assistance in whatever way in the recent campaign

In brief now that most aspects of the campaign are concluded I want to especially thank my campaign team and all that volunteered in whatever way to help put on a credible campaign as many including several Conservative friends even complemented us on. A special thanks to those that gave of their time and/or money to ensure we were able to do a successful campaign.

The following is a copy of the letter combined with the ‘Thank You’ card sent to my supporters; if I missed any please be assured it was not intentional and I hope to be in touch in the near future.

Letter:

Dear Campaign Managers, Campaign Team, Official Agent, Donors and all volunteers:


I would like to sincerely thank each of you for the time, effort, dedication and hard work you put into Campaign 2011. While we were not as successful as we would have wished, your dedication and hard work ensures that Liberal values and principles continue to live and thrive in this great country of ours. Most importantly, I would like to pay particular attention to you, managers and active volunteers. I appreciate all you have done. You are the people who took time from your careers, your family and your life and were the backbone of the campaign. Without you, the campaign and indeed our Party would not exist. Thank you for your dedication and putting up with, often cold pizza and sometimes going without to do the things needed in successful campaigns. Thank you for the long hours and hard work you invested in the campaign over the many days and weeks. Hopefully you’re having a well deserved rest before we start reviewing and restructuring.

To my Campaign Team especially; Tyler, Dustin, Greg, Kevin, Wayne, Alwyn and Agent, Jim Short - yours is the most thankless job of all. Each of you were superb and did what needed to be done with a cheery smile, patience, dedication and tact. Our Party is blessed to have benefited from all your talents and experience. I could not have done it without all of you.

I would like to single out a few people for special thanks, especially Tyler who generously offered to manage the campaign and spent every waking hour on it. Then there were Dustin, Greg and Kevin who held their full-time regular jobs and used lunch hours, other breaks, after-work hours and week-ends to get what needed doing done. Special thanks also to Wayne and Barry for getting the signs erected as well as Everett Tanis, Larry Sweder and Kesang Drawu as well as special thanks to those that accompanied me door-to-door – Bal, Herman, Helen, John and Kathy, Roger, Ron, Justin and our revered Senator, Joyce. A special thank you to those that contributed financially since we could not have purchased space, goods and services needed to put on a credible campaign without it. Also, thanks to those that wished us well as well as those that voted for me. I would be remiss if I did not thank Donna, Gavin and Marcie for helping with the pancake breakfast as well as Shaun Ward and especially Greg who took on the difficult and thankless job of collecting the money that most of us don’t like to do. Thanks all so much. If I have forgotten anyone please forgive me as it is not intentional. Please advise me of any omission and I will contact them. As soon as all lose ends are attended to you can expect to hear from us as we dig into reviewing ourselves, our situation, what we believe in as Liberals and what we want to do for the future. I look forward to your help in the needed review and I look forward our continued association and assistance in re-building the party.

Finally, on behalf of Liberals in Lethbridge and Nationally, I would like each of you to thank your spouses, significant others, children, parents and all of your loved ones who ever they may be for lending their support to me and to our cause. We; certainly I am, determined more than ever to ensure Liberalism survives. I look forward to and trust you will join us in the near future as we review and attempt to rebuild our party and to ensure it is in tune with people’s needs. Thanks again for your help to-date however large or small since every bit counts. From here, let’s move forward; onwards and upwards as we address issues and our future. If you need to contact, my phone number is 381-7635; I appreciate all input. You can follow me on the web at www.michaelcormican.com, email me at michaelcormican@telus.net or follow me on twitter at mcormican and facebook at Michael Cormican. Also, I’d appreciate any ideas on how to hold Mr. Hillyer to account. As I resume my former commitments I look forward to our continued association and help however much. Sincerely,

Michael Cormican, Liberal Candidate 2011; Lethbridge Riding

Friday, April 29

Why I'm Running

People have asked me why I’m running to be Lethbridge’s next Member of Parliament. That’s a great question, especially given the uphill battle, and emotional and physical endurance test of a campaign.

I’m running because I am committed to faithfully and forcefully representing the people of Lethbridge. I’m running as a Liberal because I believe that social justice and and a free market compliment each other; we don’t have to choose between helping the disadvantaged or growing the economy. In fact, the Liberal plan does both.

I’m delighted that I have such a strong team of supporters who can help lead the fight for a better Lethbridge. I’m delighted that I have such a strong team of supporters who can help lead the fight for a better Lethbridge. Together, we can do great things!

Monday, April 25

I Will Earn Your Vote

An unfortunate trend has been occurring: my supporters are hesitant to put a sign on their lawn.

At first I figured that their support might be a little soft, so then I’d have to work harder to earn their commitment.

“No, Michael, we’re behind you 200 percent,” they’d say, “We just don’t want a sign on our lawn.”

“Why not?” I’d ask?

“We put a sign on our lawn the last time you ran, and you wouldn’t believe what the neighbours would say to us!”

“What would they say?”

“Get that *blankety-blank* Liberal sign off your lawn! This is Conservative country, we don’t vote Liberal here! And I don’t want to see that *blankety-blank* sign every time I pull out of my driveway!”

Or, people put a sign on their lawn KNOWING that it will provoke a confrontation with neighbours who would use the same script of “This is Conservative country, don’t you dare vote for a Liberal!”

Yikes. I thought this was Canada, not North Korea.

At first I thought that this might just be a few people who live near come cranky Conservative supporters. But as the campaign has been progressing, I’ve been hearing more and more people who say that they’ve experience hostility from Conservatives. They’ve been personally insulted for wearing a Michael Cormican pin, or been flipped the bird from a car driving by.

And so I don’t push the issue with people. I obviously don’t put a sign where people don’t want one. I don’t want my campaign to intrude on the sanctuary that is their home. After all, they have to live in their neighbourhoods long after this campaign is finished.

This isn’t to say that I believe that there’s a widespread conspiracy on the part of the CPC to suppress our democratic freedoms, but I worry that a few Conservative supporters have an overinflated sense of entitlement when it comes to elections. For a vocal minority of Conservatives, voting for another party is tantamount to treason. Such an attitude poisons our democracy.

And we see this sense of entitlement in full bloom with Conservative candidate Jim Hillyer deciding that he won’t publicly defend the Conservative record or answer tough questions from his opponents. Clearly, he’s banking on southern Albertans to vote Conservative out of culture or habit, regardless of the platform or quality of the candidate, or even hearing from him. He’s obviously taking YOUR vote for granted.

But there is an alternative.

I am working hard to earn every vote. I try to answer every question I get asked. I am knocking on doors, visiting senior facilities, dropping by on businesses, talking to people on the street, chatting with students, and participating in public forums. I am listening to YOU.

I believe Lethbridge is a place where democracy flourishes, where people take an active role in the growth of their community, where the marketplace of ideas vibrates with energetic debate. I believe Lethbridge is a riding of new opportunities and fresh possibilities.

And I’m disappointed that the Conservative candidate doesn’t share my belief in what this riding can accomplish.

Sunday, April 24

Consider the Facts when considering who to vote for

Is it appropriate to throw away billions unnecessarily to corporations that so often benefits too few rather than helping the many struggling Canadians - students that have had to quit school because of debt for their education, young couples and seniors struggling to get by and the many Canadian workers and small independent businessmen that have no pensions. Canada's corporate rate is lowest of the G7 and 25% below that of the US. The experts and even the Gov. dept. tells us that this is not the best way to spur and drive the economy. I say it’s irresponsible to cut taxes for corporations at this time.

Then there's the unnecessary billions the Conservatives are intent on squandering on un-tendered fighter-jets and US-style mega prisons which approach to crime failed in the US and will fail in Canada too. Who was it that put us back in debt even before the recession took hold?

The Conservatives try to tell us they’re the best fiscal managers. Now after 5 and a half years of them running (or should I say ruining) our country, our debt is right back where it was in 1993, 570 billion when Liberals took-over from the Mulroney Conservatives. We took us out of debt then and we'll do it again. Check the facts! We need people with the ability to lead at home and abroad.

Response to question on Abortion from Mrs. Remus, April 2011

Since others may have similar question on this issue I thought it best to publish my response on it to Mrs. Remus.

Dear Ms. Remus,

Thank you for your letter and a Blessed Easter to you.

One quick clarification, the Liberal Party of Canada does not support abortion, as you say, but supports a woman’s right to choose. In fact, there is a pro-life caucus within the party; members who have moral difficulties with abortion. There is vigorous debate within the LPC over this issue, but we all agree that abortion is always a tragedy, and we should be creating a social environment where women are not put in the position to make such a difficult choice. As we say, abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”

The other parties have a similar position. Conservative leader Stephen Harper has said that he isn’t interested in opening the abortion debate, and NDP leader, Jack Layton, while forcefully arguing that abortion is a womens health issue, nonetheless concedes to the moral problems the issue raises.

The Election Guide is thorough in its examination of the issues, not focusing on one particular item, and each party stands convicted if they had to be in agreement over every matter the bishops identify.

While abortion is often connected to the Liberals and the NDP, Catholics often fail to ask the Conservatives about issues such as poverty, affordable housing, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, all of which are moral issues that the bishops identify as being important items for voters to consider.

But back to your original point, when Catholics are having abortions at the same rate as the rest of the population, I fear that the bishops are asking politicians to do what they cannot. All the issues the bishops identify in the guide and in other social documents, should be discussed and lived within the Catholic community before we ask other people to live according to our moral frameworks. Too often, we ask people to listen to what the church has to say without first receiving its Saviour. All our moral and ethical behaviour flows from our commitment to Christ and His Church.

On this most holy of days, the Resurrection of our Lord, I agree with the bishops, that God has been revealed to be the Lord of Life, and that life must be protected. As a committed Catholic I covet your prayers as I seek to live out Christ’s call of mercy and justice in our world, so that, as followers of the Risen Christ, we can proclaim His Kingdom of life and salvation in a broken and hurting world.

Thank you,

Michael

Saturday, April 23

Your Priorities are My Priorities

The CRTC and Net Neutrality

The CRTC’s decision to support Usage-based Billing billing is unfortunate. It represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how commerce on the internet is transacted. This action is good news of the internet providers, but bad news for those trying to do business online as consumers will think twice about downloading a product if they worry it will cut too much into their data plan.

And I’m a BIG supporter of Net Neutrality. The power of the internet is that EVERYONE has a chance to participate, to find their niche, and build a business. The economy already favours large businesses, an attack on Net Neutrality is an attack on start-ups which offer the most innovative products and services found online. If we want to foster innovation and initiative, especially among our young people, the internet needs to stay neutral.

The Internet is today’s principal conduit for the free flow of ideas. To ensure it facilitates the uninhibited exchange that innovation requires, Canada’s Internet environment must remain open.

Internet traffic management must remain neutral, and maintain the open sharing of legitimate technologies, ideas and applications.  A fair, effective wholesale regime is also essential to allow smaller Internet service providers to lease broadband infrastructure at fair prices.

To my Conservative Friends

We need to talk. I know you have some hesitation about my candidacy, so I'd like to share with you a little bit about who I am, and what I'll do in Ottawa.

I have a proven track record of community leadership and sound fiscal management. I have taken principled stands on issues that are important to me and our community. I do not dodge the tough questions, but hit them head on. I do not fear the people I want to represent. I respect the voters and the democratic process too much not to be fully engaged in spirited debate. Our fathers and mothers fought and died so that we could have the freedom to choose our elected leaders. Our sons and daughters in uniform continue today in that heroic tradition. Failing to participate in the process diminishes their sacrifice.

I have lived in southern Alberta for almost 40 years. I am a proven leader, and have extensive executive management experience and community involvement. I have friends and colleagues from across the political spectrum. I have a history of bringing people together, not needlessly dividing them.

I can follow in the dedicated and trusted representation that Mr. Casson so ably provided for his terms in office. While our policies and perspectives differ, I know Mr. Casson to be a faithful public servant, who sacrificed much to give the Lethbridge riding the kind of representation it deserves and demands. He leaves big shoes to fill, and it is my hope that you will provide me with the same opportunity to speak for Lethbridge in parliament, continuing in his footsteps.

In Ottawa, I will work hard to earn your continued respect as I put the priorities of the Lethbridge riding first. I will ensure that the voice of southern Alberta is heard in parliament.

So, I ask that you trust me with your sacred vote, and to allow me to represent you and the interests of southern Alberta in Ottawa, as together, we make our community stronger and more prosperous.

On May 2nd I ask you to vote Michael Cormican for Lethbridge.

Thank you,


Michael

Tuesday, April 19

A Letter from Alberta Senator Tommy Banks

There is only one thing about the outcome of the May 2nd election on which Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Harper agree.   It is that one of them will be the Prime Minister of Canada.   Mr. Layton, Mr. Duceppe and Ms. May are not in the running to form a government.  They can't. It will be either Mr.
Ignatieff or Mr. Harper.

That is the choice, and it is a very clear - in fact, stark choice.   

We will choose between openness or secrecy.
Between listening or refusing to listen.
Between someone who respects Parliament or someone who disdains it.
Between things we can and will do now or things that, (provided of course
that everything goes well), we might do in five or six years.
Between someone who answers all questions from Canadians,  or someone who
won't accept any.

Between Mr. Harper who said "It's past time the feds scrapped the Canada

Health Act", or Mr. Ignatieff who said " . . . we don't want user fees.   We want
universal, accessible, free-at-the-point-of-service health care, paid out of
general revenue.   That's just bottom line. Otherwise we get two-tiered".

Between buying jets or helping vets.  

Between real early childhood learning and care or Saturday-night
babysitting.
Between respect for our great institutions or contempt for them.
Between helping families or helping big corporations.
Between the Canada that we think we have, or the way in which Mr. Harper has
already changed it.

Over the past few years Mr. Harper's government has quietly engineered so

many changes that there are some ways in which our country is barely
recognizable.   Many of us don't yet realize the extent of those changes,
because many of them have been brought about very carefully and gradually -
almost imperceptibly in some cases.

This is diabolically clever.   If these things had all been done at once,

there would have been loud protests and reactions.    But moving just one
little brick at a time doesn't cause much fuss - until you realize that the
whole house has been renovated.   And we've hardly noticed.

These are changes that are at the very heart of who and what Canadians are.


They are changes to the protections that used to exist against the tyranny

of the majority - or against a single-minded my-way-or-the-highway autocrat.

These changes are losses to our very Canadian-ness.   Let me remind you of

some of them:

The Law Commission of Canada was created by an Act of Parliament in 1997.

It worked very well.   It kept an eye in a sort-of avuncular way, on necessary reforms of the law, including election law.   The Commission couldn't actually change law; but it was very good at letting governmentsand everybody else know when changes needed to be made and why.   It was our legal Jiminy Cricket, and it performed a valuable service for Canada.   The Commission was created by an Act of Parliament, and any government wanting to shut it down should have been up-front about it. It should have come to Parliament with a Bill to rescind The Law Commission
of Canada Act. 

That's what any of our 21 previous Prime Ministers would have done.

But to Mr. Harper, Parliament is an inconvenience.   Somebody might ask "Why

are you doing this?"   But he didn't want to go through all that Parliamentary trouble; so, rather than proposing the abolition of the Commission (a proposal about which there would have been pretty fierce debate on all sides), they just eliminated all funding for it in the federal budget.   Governments can do that.
Poof - no Law Commission.

Nice and quiet.   Just one little brick.   Hardly noticed.


Then there was the Court Challenges Programme, set up in 1994, which was the

means by which a bit of legal help could be provided to a private individual
or small organization who didn't have a lot of money, and who was taking on,
or being taken on by, the Government of Canada.   It leveled the legal
playing field a bit.   It was a perfect example of fundamental Canadian
fairness.

By convincing a tough panel of judges of the reasonableness of your cause,

you could get a little help in paying for some lawyers to go up against the phalanx of legal beagles that could always, and forever, and at public expense, be brought to bear against you by the State.   In other words, if you weren't rich, and if you were taking on or being taken on by the Feds, you might have had a chance.
But Mr. Harper doesn't like being questioned, let alone challenged.   It's
so inconvenient!
Solution?   Quietly announce that the Court Challenges Programme is being,
er, discontinued.
Poof - no Court Challenges Programme - no court challenges.

Hardly noticed.


The Coordination of Access to Information Request System (CAIRS) was created

(by a Progressive-Conservative government) in 1989 so that departments of
government could harmonize their responses to access-to-information requests
that might need multi-departmental responses.   It was efficient; it made
sure that in most cases the left hand knew what the right hand was doing, or
at least what they were saying; and it helped to keep government open and
accountable.
Well, if you're running a closed-door government, that's not a good idea, is
it?
So, as a Treasury Board official explained to the Canadian Press, CAIRS was
killed by the Harper government because "extensive" consultations showed it
wasn't valued by government departments.   I guess that means that the
extensive consultations were all with government departments.

Wait! Wasn't there anybody else with whom to extensively consult?   Wasn't

there some other purpose and use for CAIRS?   Didn't it have something to do
with openness and accountability?   I guess not.   Robert Makichuk, speaking
for Mr. Harper's government, explained that "valuable resources currently
being used to maintain CAIRS would be better used in the collection and
analysis of improved statistical reporting".

Right.  In other words, CAIRS was an inconvenience to the government.   So

poof - it's disappeared.   And, except for investigative reporters and other
people who might (horrors!) ask questions, its loss is hardly noticed.

And the bridge too far for me: Cutting the already-utterly-inadequate

funding for the exposure of Canadian art and artists in other countries.
That funding was, by any comparison, already laughably miniscule.   Mr.
Harper says that "ordinary" Canadians don't support the arts.   He's wrong.

And his is now the only government of any significant country in the world

that clearly just doesn't get it.

All these changes were done quietly, cleverly, and under the radar.   

No fuss.   No outcry.   Just one little brick at a time.
But in these and other ways, our Canadian house is no longer the kind of
place it once was.
Nobody minds good renovations.   Nobody even minds tearing something down,
as long as we put up something better in its place.  That's not what has
happened.

Mr. Harper fired the head of the Canadian Wheat Board because he was doing

his job properly.
He removed the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission because she
wanted to make sure that the Chalk River nuclear reactor was safe.

Hardly noticed.


There are many more things that were hardly noticed:  Cuts to funding for

the Status of Women,  Adult Learning and Literacy,  Environmental Programs,  museums funding, and more.
All quietly, just one brick at a time.

Hardly noticed.


As to campaign promises, everybody in sight on every side is guilty of

breaking those.   Except the Federal NDP of course, who haven't yet had the
opportunity.   (It's very easy to make promises that you know you will not
likely have to keep).

But the government promised to end wait times in health care.  They didn't.


They promised to end, once and for all, the whining of some provinces about

the non-existent "fiscal imbalance".   They didn't.
 

They said they had brought final resolution to the softwood lumber problem
with the U.S.   They haven't. They promised to create thousands of new
child-care spaces in Canada. They haven't.
They promised not to tax income trusts ("We will NEVER do that!" they said).
They taxed them.
They promised to lower your income tax.

They raised it.


They said they had a good "made-in-Canada" plan to meet our obligations on
climate change.   They don't.   Mr. Harper has said plainly that whatever the Americans do is what we'll do too.

They campaign on a platform of transparency and accountability; but they're
  now trying to discredit the Parliamentary Budget Officer that they created, because he's trying to do the job that they gave him. Mr. Harper said that our form of government, evolved over centuries from the 900-year-old British Westminster tradition, was all wrong.   We had to have fixed election dates, because otherwise, democratic principles would be trampled.  "Fixed election dates", he said, "stop leaders from trying to manipulate the calendar.   They level the playing field for all parties".

So Parliament (remember them?) at Mr. Harper's insistence, passed a law
requiring fixed election dates, which Mr. Harper promptly broke.

Somebody once said that we get the kind of government we deserve.

 

What did we do to deserve Mr. Harper?

He once said that we should all "Stand Up for Canada".   Well, let's do
that.   


We just have to decide whether the present version of Canada is the one that
we'll stand up for.   Or stand for.

Thank you


Tommy Banks (an Alberta Senator.)

Monday, April 18

List of Candidate Forums

Candidate Forums
      Attend the forums  ~  Ask questions    ~    show Michael your support



April 18 - Monday
7:00 to 9:00 pm
Indecision 2011: Alternative Candidate's Forum & Dialogue
SU Ballroom, Student Union Building, University of Lethbridge
Informal roundtable discussion; Free BBQ at 6 pm

April 19 - Tuesday
7:00 to 9:00 pm
SACPA Election forum
Theatre Gallery, Lethbridge Public Library (810 - 5 Ave South, Lethbridge)

April 20 - Wednesday
12:00 to 1:30
All Candidate Meet & Greet
Room A, Lethbridge Senior Citizen Organization (500 - 11 Street South, Lethbridge)
7:00 to 9:00
Picture Butte Chamber of Commerce Election Forum
Picture Butte Community Centre (607 Highway Ave, Picture Butte)

April 26 - Tuesday

7:00 to 9:00 pm
Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Election Forum
Yates Memorial Centre (1002 - 4 Avenue South, Lethbridge 1002 - 4 Avenue South)

April 27 - Wednesday

7:00 to 9:00 pm
Coaldale Chamber of Commerce Forum
Coaldale Community Centre (1217 - 20 Ave, Coaldale)

April 28 - Thursday
7:00 to 9:00
YWCA & Social Housing Forum
Galt Museum & Archives (502 - 1 Street South, Lethbridge)
Focus on social housing, national housing strategy, women’s issues, equality, poverty, childcare, violence.

Rest and Preparation

Yesterday was a day for reflection, rest and re-invigoration. I attended church in the morning, and spent the afternoon and evening preparing for a week of upcoming debates with assistance of key members of my team.

This morning I read in the Lethbridge Herald that Mr. Harper continues attempts to escalate his politics of fear to further his attempt to get the majority he wants, raising separation as an issue which has not been raised for years. It’s as if he’s written off Quebec by bringing up an issue that gets Canadians riled up, while solidifying Quebec’s separatist base for the Bloc. It looks like Harper’s becoming Gilles Duceppe’s best friend.

Seems to me Harper is desperately trying to find a wedge issue that might be advantageous to him to get that majority he says he wants. But what is good for Harper is not good for Canadians.

A new Liberal government will bring Canadians together, not create division. We will focus on what unites us, not what divides us.

Saturday, April 16

Fabulous Friday!

Was surprised this morning when Justin, a young man that helped me campaigning previously knocked on my door, offering to help again, because he believes that the riding is winnable. I do too! 



(More and more people are coming out of the woodwork to work on the campaign or donate money, help me get elected. Something exciting is happening in Lethbridge!)

In the afternoon I shot a TV ad, with help from Chris, Tyler, and Dustin. George Clooney I am not, but it was fun to do. And I look forward to getting my message out to more people.

Then I popped in at the university and met with some students and staff. Was really impressed with their ideas and energy! I reminded the young people of the importance of voting. After all, we’re voting for the future of our country!

One of my twitter friends recognized me at the U of L, which was wonderful. Was glad to put a face to the username. Had a stimulating catch-up on each others perspectives. 

And from there we went on a very successful door-knocking session along 13th Street North resulting in a few people asking for signs. Always glad to put some signs up!  Thanks Anja, for your help. You were a wonderful door-knocking partner!

Then we dropped in on the combined Lethbridge East and West AGMs of the Alberta Liberal Party, and heard a frank update from MLA Bridget Pastoor.

Before retiring for the evening I dropped by to wish friend Sue well following her hip surgery.

All in all, it was a fabulous Friday!

Friday, April 15

Thursday Was a Day of Learning! But What's With the Snow!?

Thought snow was finished but had to shovel for ¾ hr. to get out at home, then got stuck at the office. Attended SACPA session by Dr. Michelle Hogue discussing ‘BARRIERS TO SUCCESS FOR ABORIGINAL STUDENTS in POST-SECONDARY (SCIENCE) EDUCATION’. Excellent talk.

Then had and interview by a young lady with respect to why I’m running for office and my beliefs. Attended open house on the proposed Anaerobic digestion facility at the Perry farm at Chin. Great to hear about such imaginative and in keeping with the cycle of nature advancements in the farming industry. 





I finished-off the day attending the Community meeting on the issue of Fracking held at the Library. Everyone was asked to convey their concerns about and request a moratorium on the practice until we can all be assured as to its safety not only in the short but in the long-term.

Thursday, April 14

From the Globe and Mail - Letter to the Editor

Letter to editor Globe and Mail April 13, 2011.

Making it work

Twelve years ago I worked with Michael Ignatieff as an editor in a writing program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. In order to work that summer, I needed to bring my two children and a babysitter, unprecedented in the program. “Fine,” said Mr. Ignatieff , “we’ll make it work.” He proceeded to get the housing I needed. He instantly supported my assumption that even during these child-rearing years I should work to my maximum potential.

That same summer he facilitated disability rights activist Catherine Frazee’s participation in the program by backing her request that the entire Banff centre be made wheelchair accessible. It was a stimulating, very productive summer for all of us as we worked on writing, activism and intellectual exploration.

Mr. Ignatieff was not a politician in those days. Equal opportunity for all was simply something he assumed, believed in, acted on and lived. Imagine what he could do for this country.

Kim Echlin, Toronto

Update and retrospective

Great day again. Visited Seniors’ Care Center in am and businesses in pm. Great hearing of advances in greening technologies in pm and discussing rollback of pay-roll taxes and pensions for small business. Positive response about Michael's performance in the Leaders' Debate.
Aboriginal friend tells me people on the reserve unhappy there will not be voting station there. I’ve passed-on the concern.

Wednesday, April 13

Another Good Day!

I can't tell if this campaign is a marathon or a sprint! Five weeks is short, but the days are busy and long!

After scan of the papers started day at Tim's on Scenic. Generally positive response. Then met with Rod from Metis Association followed by visit to Alberta Rose Lodge.

Had lunch in Coaldale and visited lodge and Senior Center with friend, Dr. Jim. Was joined by friend Bruce from Calgary door-knocking on North Parkside Drive followed by supper and the Leaders Debate in English.

Michael certainly performed well and they all did a good job reminding Mr. Harper of his record, deception, and lack of responsibility but side-stepped the issues playing the "poor defenceless kid being picked-on by the others" role.

Then Bal joined Bruce and I campaigning on McMaster Blvd where we secured locations for larger signs.

Monday, April 11

The First Two Weeks

It has been a busy couple weeks and it is clear our Team has led the way in unveiling our platform. Each day policy details were released and which are on the web for all to see; and, our platform is fully costed.

Our Team will help PEOPLE instead of giving more money to corporations whose tax-rates are lowest in the G7 and 25% below those in the US.  We need have no concern about inability to compete in the marketplace.

The most difficult issue for me on the campaign trail is those who are so closed-minded that they walk-away and/or in their rant tell me “you’re all the same"  or something like that.

Our team will put the money thus generated into health care, education and help Canadians to green-up by retrofitting their homes and all of which will help our economy.

It will “strengthen families – without raising your taxes – if we stop corporate giveaways, turn the page on wasteful spending like $30-billion fighter jets, and focus on what really matters: giving every Canadian the tools to succeed in the years ahead.”

I  also see preservation of public healthcare as a huge priority. The following is what we call the ‘Liberal Family Pack’.

1. Learning Passport

The new Learning Passport will open the doors for every young Canadian who wants to go to college, university or trade-school, and will help every family struggling to save enough to pay for it:
$1,000 a year over four years for every high school student in Canada to use when they go to college or university, or $4,000 in total.

For students in low income families, the amount will be $1,500 a year, or $6,000 in total.

2. Early Childhood Learning

To give our kids the best start while giving parents access to affordable, quality child care, a Liberal government will create a new Early Childhood Learning and Care Fund. This fund will help create new affordable child care spaces across Canada.

3. Family Care

To help Canadians who care for elderly or seriously ill loved ones manage the financial pressures of caregiving, the Liberal Family Care Plan will offer:

  • A new Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit, similar to EI parental leave, to let caregivers take six months off work to care for gravely ill family members at home; and
  • A new Family Care Tax Benefit up to $1,350 annually, modeled on the Child Tax Benefit, to help low- and middle-income family caregivers manage costs

4. Stronger Public Pensions

To make sure every Canadian has a secure retirement, a Liberal government will:
  • Work with the provinces and territories to gradually expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), the most reliable, simple and low-cost way to save;
  • Put forward the Secure Retirement Option (SRO), a voluntary supplement to the CPP for any Canadian worker who wants it. Under the SRO, Canadians could save a tax-deductible percentage of their pay in a secure retirement fund backed by the CPP; and
  • Help low-income seniors with a $700-million boost to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
5. Green Renovation Tax Credit

To help Canadians save on energy costs while helping the environment, a Liberal government will implement a permanent Green Renovation Tax Credit of up to $13,500. This fund will help families with the up-front costs of energy-saving home renovations such as installing energy-efficient windows, improving insulation, replacing old appliances, and upgrading roofing

Of course, we have proposed many other policies too and I will provide those policies as soon as possible too and I trust people will contact me on any concerns they might have.

Sunday, April 10

Honouring the Sacrifices Made for Our Democracy

“You’re all just a bunch of crooks, the lot of ya!”

“Same shit, different pile, that’s what I think of you politicians, I don’t give a damn what party you’re with.”

“They should get rid of all of ya and start from scratch, you damned politicians are just in it for yourselves.”

I could go on but you get the idea.
While the overwhelming majority of people I meet are positive toward me and the election, I encounter too many people with these attitudes, attitudes which I find offensive.

It’s not the language that bothers me (I’m a big boy I’ve heard it all before), it’s the casual and careless dismissal of our democracy, a democracy which our fathers, mothers, and grandparents died to defend, that I find galling.

I find it especially troubling this weekend as we remember the Canadian dead whose blood is still in the ground of Nord-Pas-de-Calais from the Battle of Vimy Ridge. We must never forget the sacrifices that they and their families made so that we can live in a free and democratic country. Casting our ballots honours their sacrifice. Cavalierly  insulting politicians dishonours our soldiers’ legacy.

I personally know politicians of all political persuasions, and most of them are hard-working, honourable public servants who genuinely want to see a stronger and more prosperous Canada. We simply disagree (often vigorously) on how to achieve that goal.

Yes, there are corrupt politicians only interested in personal gain. But they are a small minority of members of a profession that prizes service to the community. Many politicians make personal, professional, and financial sacrifices to serve. If they’re in it for a golden handshake, they’re going to be sorely disappointed. There are easier ways to get rich than by running for office.

So, to dismiss all politicians as lazy crooks is to tarnish those who work hard to represent their constituencies, and who serve the people according to their consciences. And makes it harder to find publicly-minded people to run for office and serve our communities in the future.

So, when a politician arrives at your door, you don’t have to agree with him or her, but you should respect the democratic process that they - and we all - are involved with.

Next: Encouraging our young people to participate in democracy.


Friday, April 8

McDonalds, Malls, and Hot Chocolate

Herman came with me to people at McDonald's in am, followed by a walk through the Bay Mall which was relatively quiet, so we when to Park Place which was busier. Met LOTS of people.

At noon I went to SACPA to hear about how our retreating Glaciers affect climate. Fascinating stuff.

 Cathy accompanied me as I went door-to-door along Scenic. The day ended at Cybele for much needed hot chocolate.

It's also obvious that people don't trust Mr. Harper to preserve our public health care system. That's been a theme that I've been hearing from Lethbridge voters.

Tuesday, April 5

On the Campaign Trail!

Started early today and got the latest policy release focusing on veterans (Vets not jets!)  before visiting with people at the northside McDonalds. First hour was a little slow but after 9 the pace picked up.

Talked with LOTS of people. Some challenged me on Liberal policy (I LOVE good questions!), others were very supportive, and some had yet to make up their minds. Great! That's what an election is all about!

Again by and large very gratifying and uplifting. Also, did a little door-to-door and got more sign locations. Really enjoying seeing more signs go up!

Tonight I hope to get to the Vox Musica concert. Rutter's Mass for the Children is a wonderfully moving piece. Plus I'd like to connect with some fellow music lovers in the community.

Hopefully my schedule permits. But right now my main priority is meeting YOU and hearing what you have to say!

Sunday, April 3

A Long, Full, Day

Got home after 11 last night. Spoke to Gloria a few minutes and then on to the computer. Then quick scan of the papers of the day but dozed and unable to pull myself off the chair. Bed @ 2 or after.

However, had good day. First on Friday, visited Tim's on 43rd on own. Ran into some outspoken oil patch workers who forgot their manners at home.

However, better in pm where attended a fundraising dinner for Cancer at the Eagles Hall. The company and feedback was reassuring and the stake was bang-on. Hats off to the cooks and the Eagles org. for the great work they do. Also did some door-knocking along 13th St. South. A couple families asked for some lawn signs.

Yesterday also better - some coffee shop visiting at Scenic Drive Tim's. More and more people responding to the Liberal message.  One patron at Tim's quickly noted the recent CBC poll which shows that answering yes to the questions posed suggests you are Liberal. Some readily disclose which way they're voting while some prefer to keep it private. 

Attended a ham supper fundraiser at First United Church and renewed some friendships and made some new ones. The ham was tasty and tender. My compliments to the cooks. Keep-up the great work. That's the kind of stuff that generates community and goodwill which is what life's all about.

Then thanks to Tyler I topped off the day and really enjoyed a steel drum concert at the U of L.

Feedback continues heart-warming and uplifting.

Kickoff Speech

Welcome Friends, Bonjour, Oki,
      
We are here today because we are concerned about the direction in which our great country is headed.

With contempt of parliament, fake lakes, and out-of-control deficits; we KNOW that Canada TRULY deserves better.

It’s time to return to caring, compassionate government, a government that puts the priorities of YOU and YOUR families first.

So, on May 2nd elect a government that chooses
  • PENSIONS not prisons
  • that chooses CHILD CARE not corporate give-away’s
  • that chooses an EDUCATED WORKFORCE not overpriced fighter jets.

Our plan IMPROVES peoples’ lives. Our plan puts our country back on track.

And I need your help. Because together, we will PUT PEOPLE FIRST, again.

I have been a community leader for over 30 years in Lethbridge and Southern Alberta, and I KNOW the issues of this riding, and I KNOW what needs to be done to make us stronger and more prosperous.

I have spent years working to increase access to opportunities for every Canadian.
I have secured housing for over 60 families.
I have built partnerships with our Aboriginal friends
I have provided programs for people with special needs.


In my work as a health care practitioner and as a manager in Alberta health services, I have seen up close the devastating effects of a starved health care system. As chair of Friends of Medicare, I have defended our public health care system against those who would privatize it.

My fight doesn’t stop there.

I am committed to water conservation, and I am committed to opening economic doors so people from all walks of life can live with dignity and participate in the opportunities this great riding has to offer.


Lethbridge includes the second largest senior population in Canada and we need to protect them. Our Family Care Plan provides REAL support for struggling seniors.

We are going to work hard.
We are determined.

With YOUR help, I WILL EARN the opportunity to serve the people of this great riding.

Together we will make history …
Together we will bring change …
Together we will create a stronger Lethbridge.
TOGETHER WE WILL WIN!

Thank You and Merci Beaucoup, Gaedmatsen

Pics From the Kickoff


         Michael meeting an enthusiastic supporter


                                          Michael shaking hands with old friends.


                                       Michael raising the roof with a rousing speech!

                                                Michael rallying the troops!

Thursday, March 31

Conservative G8 Legacy Fund had no controls, documents reveal Liberals launch G8/G20 “Wish you were here – you already paid for it!” postcard campaign


Days after announcing a Liberal government’s plan to cut Conservative waste and stop corporate giveaways, Liberal candidate David McGuinty revealed new evidence today that there were no controls over the $50-million G8 Legacy Fund or any requirement that the projects actually relate to the summit.

“This confirms what we have been saying all along: Industry Minister Tony Clement used the G8 Legacy Fund as his own personal slush fund to pepper his riding with $50 million in taxpayer-funded vanity projects,” said Mr. McGuinty, Liberal candidate for Ottawa South.

The information was obtained through a House of Commons Order Paper response that was quietly tabled by the Conservatives just 70 minutes before their government was defeated for being in contempt of Parliament – likely in the hopes that no one would notice, said Mr. McGuinty.

The documents show that the $50-million fund was doled out to Mr. Clement’s hand-picked projects with no requirement for municipalities to report which companies received the funding, and no requirement for the projects to be connected in any way to the G8.

The documents also reveal the Conservatives wasted no expense requiring an Economic Action Plan sign be erected in front of each of the 32 projects, and they budgeted an additional federal contribution of $1,000 per sign.

“What’s clear now is that the G8 was used as a flimsy excuse to spray $50 million in public money across Tony Clement’s riding, with no controls and no connection to the G8 whatsoever,” said Mr. McGuinty. “We’ve already established that most of the projects had absolutely nothing to do with the G8, were located miles away from the summit site, and many were not completed until well after the summit was over – and now we know why.”

To commemorate the wasteful excesses of the G8, the Liberal Party launched a G8/G20 “Wish you were here – you already paid for it!” postcard campaign. The postcards, featuring marquee examples of G8/G20 waste, are signed “Love, Stephen & Tony.”

“These pork-barrel vanity projects are etched in the public consciousness as iconic symbols of Conservative waste,” said Mr. McGuinty. “A total of $50 million spent by Tony Clement to buy votes could have bought 50,000 annual Learning Passport grants for young Canadians.”

The postcards feature a landlocked wooden lighthouse that doesn’t light up, public toilets over 30 kilometres from the summit, a sidewalk 81 kilometres from the site, a $380,000 antique steamboat and the world-famous,$2-million fake lake pavilion.

“The Conservatives wasted no expense using GPS to track the $1,000 EAP signs that went in front of these projects, but didn’t bother tracking how $50 million of taxpayer funds were spent,” said Mr. McGuinty.

Wednesday, March 30

Michael Ignatieff on Family Care

Monday, March 28

Harper Budget Offers Crumbs for Families

* The Conservatives are offering crumbs for seniors, family care and learning and making the wrong economic choices by spending billions on corporate tax breaks, mega-prisons and stealth fighters.

* Seniors: The Conservatives spent more on the G20 in a single day than this budget has for seniors in an entire year. They are giving 20 times more to Canada’s richest corporations than to the poorest seniors.

* Learning: The Conservatives are spending 1,000 times more on fighter jets than post-secondary students.

* Family care: They spent three times as much on self-promoting advertising than this budget has for family care next year.

* Public safety: The Conservatives are spending 1,000 times more on mega-prisons than youth crime prevention.

* Conservative budget numbers don’t add up and can’t be trusted. The Harper regime ran up a record $56-billion deficit and has shown contempt for Parliament and Canadians by hiding the true costs of their $6-billion corporate tax cuts, $13-billion mega-prisons and $30-billion stealth fighters.

Small Business

* The Conservatives are borrowing $6 billion – and adding to Canada’s record debt – to pay for more corporate tax breaks for the top 5% most wealthy businesses in Canada – these extra tax breaks do not help small business.

* In January, the Conservatives raised job-killing payroll taxes for all Canadian businesses when they increased EI premiums.

Jobs

* There are more than 100,000 fewer full-time jobs in Canada today compared to the fall of 2008.

* All of the net new work created since then is part-time, a fact the Conservatives conveniently left out of their budget.

* Youth unemployment is nearly twice the national average.

Low-income Canadians

* The Conservatives deliberately excluded low-income Canadians from qualifying for measures under this budget – like the Family Caregiver Tax Credit and the Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit – by making the tax credits non-refundable. Non-refundable tax credits only help Canadians who earned enough income that year to pay income taxes. But low-income Canadians get left in the cold.

* Under the Conservative plan, a volunteer firefighter with a dependent who earns $20,000 a year would get no money from the Conservatives’ tax credit. The Liberal proposal is for a refundable tax credit.

* The Conservatives deliberately excluded the poorest caregivers, with a paltry $300 from a non-refundable tax credit that isn’t even available to low-income Canadians. A Canadian taxpayer earning $20,000 with a dependent wouldn’t qualify for any help as a caregiver. Compare this to the Liberal Family Care Plan that would offer up to $1,350 for low- and middle-income Canadians, and help Canadians take time off work with a Family Care EI benefit.

Seniors

* Under the Conservatives, a senior who earns $170 per month (outside of Old Age Security) is considered to be so rich that the new $50-a-month GIS supplement will be clawed back. And if they have a pension of $366 a month, they’re too wealthy to receive even a penny of the GIS increase.

* By choosing not to cut corporate taxes, the Liberal Party will be able to do more for seniors than this budget does.

Child care and affordable housing

* The budget has no plan for child care or affordable housing.

Health care

* We are on the eve of important negotiations with the provinces on health care. In 2004, the previous Liberal government invested $41 billion in health care. But that funding is set to run out in 2014, and must be renegotiated. This budget has no credible plan to deal with long-term health care costs and to improve care quality – and instead spends $30 billion on stealth fighters and $13 billion on mega-prisons.

Hidden costs

* This Conservative regime still refuses to provide Canadians with detailed information on the cost of their prison bills and their untendered stealth fighter jet deal. This completely undermines the credibility of the entire budget. They expect MPs to vote on this budget without knowing how much these things will cost.

* The Parliamentary Budget Officer has already said the costs of the jets is double what the Conservatives say. And both the PBO and the IMF have shown that the Conservatives’ promise to balance the books simply isn’t credible. In fact, they are on track to adding $200 billion in new debt over the next five years.

Friday, March 25

Great Day Yesterday!

Fracking Conference @ UofL was great. Attendance over 300. Had the honour of attending naming ceremony for the Speaker, Josh Fox, Oscar winner after. Was great; speaker super. He won an Oscar for documentary on Gasland, pollution of water and air and methane gas.

In pm attended a presentation at the UofL by Nizar, Peace and Development, Edmonton on "The Complexities of the Middle-East". He was super; great grasp of it, really helps one understand.

I and Church and Social Justice minded organizations meet him tomorrow for lunch. I just wish more could have heard him. It is great to have organizations and people actively working for a better world and it demonstrates true ecumenism in action since Nizar is a Muslim working for a Christian Organization. He made it all feel alive and understandable.

Looking forward to another great day today!

Wednesday, March 23

Water Wars, Fracking in the Oil patch and a "townhall" with Scott BrisonMP, Nova Scotia.

This evening viewed documentry, 'Water Wars' @ Lethbridge College. It chronicles some History and major water wars of recent years in Central America and elsewhere. I wish everyone could see it. It says to expect big water issues by 2025 and desalenization is not the answer. Push for privatization everywhere and Bolivians forcd government to legislate back the right of people to hold demonstrations and the people power forced Bechtel out of country. It all demonstrates the power and greed of the coporations and others from high places. Some may be surprised at some of the key figure involved in the purchase of land and water rights in Central America. Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians and international leader in the water movement is to be admired for dedicating her life in the service and rights of others. May you live long and healthy andhopefully many will follow in your footsteps.

Tomorrow I'll be attending a conference at the U of L on the contrversial issue of Fracking. Also, earlier in the evening I sat-in on a "townhall" meeting by phone with Scott Brison who very ably,honestly and intelligently answered several questions raised throughout the call by listeners across the country.

(Unfortunately, time did not get to a couple questions I intended asking on the debts being chalked-up by student physicins studying outside Canada e.g. our daughter who wll owe a huge debt as she graduates this Fall. The other question I was ready with was a Liberal Government's intentions for dealing with lengthened sentences as a result of Mr. Harper changing legislation lengthening time served and thereby creating need for more pprison space. I wonder when will we encourage "alternative sentencing and an emphasis on rehabilitation?)

Michael

Monday, March 21

Contempt report undermines credibility of budget – and entire government

March 21, 2011

OTTAWA – A report tabled in the House of Commons today that recommends the Harper regime be found in contempt of Parliament undermines the credibility of tomorrow’s budget, Liberal MPs said today.

“This contempt report – a first in the history of Canada and the Commonwealth – is the result of the Harper regime’s abuse of power,” said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

“How can we believe tomorrow’s budget has any credibility?” said Mr. Ignatieff. “The Harper regime continues to hide the costs of new mega-prisons, stealth fighter jets and corporate tax cuts – because they know their numbers don’t add up.

“Stephen Harper thinks he’s above the rules. Today’s contempt report shows that parliamentarians won’t let him get away with it,” he said.

In the House of Commons today, a report from the Procedure and House Affairs Committee was tabled concluding that the government is in contempt over its refusal to fully disclose the costs of its prison legislation, corporate tax cuts and untendered F-35 deal.

“The Parliamentary Budget Officer has already found that the F-35s will cost nearly $30 billion, not the $16 billion claimed by the government, and that just one prison bill will cost $10 billion or more,” said Liberal Finance Critic Scott Brison. “Yet the Conservatives refuse to release the full costs of their spending plans."

“Hiding their budget numbers is only part of the story,” concluded Mr. Ignatieff. “With two RCMP investigations, charges of breaking election laws, four Access to Information investigations, a $500,000 gag order on the former Integrity Commissioner, and a Minister falsifying documents and misleading Parliament, this is a pattern of abuse of power, attacks on democracy, and contempt for Parliament and the Canadian people.”

Michael Ignatieff on the National Debt

By the numbers: Canada's national debt

Today, Canada's national debt will peak at $562.8 billion. In just five years - and after previous Liberal governments spent years wiping out our debt - Stephen Harper's government has returned Canada to its all-time-high 1996-97 debtload level.

Here is a look at Canada's debtload over the years:

'Politics and Pints' session at "The Stone" on Sunday evening.

Kudos to Lethbridge East on the very successful 'Politics and Pints' session last evening at the stone. Great questions and issues raised and it was even better to welcome new people interested in such discussion. Thanks all.
Michael

Sunday, March 20

Michael Ignatieff

Wonderful introduction to the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Wednesday, March 16

The TV ads you've been waiting for

Stephen Harper has attacked our democratic institutions and lost touch with the priorities of middle-class families. Sharing short link: http://lpc.ca/ads. Pass on.

THE TENTATIVENESS, FRAGILITY and IMPORTANCE OF DEMOCRACY

(Copy of speech given this morning to fellow-Toastmasters)

Democracy is too valuable to be taken for granted. Wherever this form of government is, it was hard won and paraphrasing Winston Churchill ‘despite its deficiencies it seems the best form of government we’ve come-up with to-date’.

However, though most of us may think we’re more educated and civilized given recent unanticipated developments even disclosures of the past week in Ottawa we should be extra vigilant.

I’m referring of course to the rulings last week by the speaker of our House of Commons which if we think about them, must generate some concern that our rights and conventions are as some of us keep saying are being abused, over-ridden and ignored.

Today more than ever before in history, politicians and governments need to pay attention to and respect democracy or eventually they and subsequently we all will pay the price of their folly. And, as you’ve likely heard some say, “our actions come back to haunt us” and as some also say “what goes around comes around”.

All ‘The good Books’ proscribe and encourage us to respect each other. In fact; the purpose of the 10 commandments or the “Golden Rule” as some use is to help us regulate, guide and help us to live in harmony and respect with each other.

And, we expect those in authority especially politicians to adhere to the spirit of these codes in place to help order society. But often they don’t abide by them and we wonder why not since it seems common sense to minimize difficulties likely to arise down the road.

Of course, one reason is that they have totally lost touch with their constituents; otherwise how can they justify and allow the blatant abuse and inequities to occur, even continue.

Despite religion and increasingly educated populations common sense seems to be forgotten. Even if only from a common-sense perspective and a knowledge of ‘civics’ and psychology to reinforce the need for progressive adjustment to ever changing circumstances it must be recognized that we need some laws and regulations to help maintain some order and stability in society.

Usually, as everyone gets more educated and wiser they’re not as readily fooled nor are they prepared to accept being treated like children or second-class citizens. As has been said; “you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all the time”.

Sure; laws can feel harsh and cold. But because of individuals’ tendencies to forget over time due to getting caught-up in living and our inclinations and want to control and get our way, we need help or reminders which may be better taken if couched less harshly. As some come to realize “we catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.

For some it is more palatable or accepting when regulations and laws are presented as guidance rather than cold proscriptions which can also stimulate the reverse to the intended effect.

Human inclinations and forgetfulness can lead us to become insensitive to others so we must have some laws and reminders to help us and assure the public good. However, we also need examples since most of us unconsciously model others, but we need good mentors with high expectations since “what we expect and verbalize is what we will get”.

Somehow, despite history showing numerous examples of follies and though many more are more-educated nowadays such wisdom eludes many leaders as evidenced by recent happenings especially in the Middle-East. And, "lest we forget";

Though wars from time immemorial show folly of all sorts and some say our worst folly occurred in Germany in the years leading up to WW 2 we do not appear to learn and we forget. Good-living, law and order abiding people got duped into accepting and allowing de-regulation that resulted in unconscionable atrocities. Some see analogies to what happened in Germany in the ‘30s in our own political situation when in a few years people were stripped of their rights and didn’t appear to recognize it.

As I speak, Mr. Gadaffi is viciously annihilating his own people. Is the only recourse and hope that their Arab neighbors will step-in and put a stop to such wanton annihilation and destruction; or should we be doing more, even intervening?

How can such people claim to believe in God but I, and I suspect you question that how then they justify and do what they’re doing. Despite progress and learning is bad inevitable. Hopefully their neighbors will intervene and not allow them to bully defenseless people with sheer force and tyranny so they can continue to have their way.

On the other hand some tell us that we don’t even need to consider such long past or further-away happenings reminding us that what happened in Germany is happening right here in our own country.

Consequently not only and especially politicians and those in authority but all need to be alert or we too can unwittingly allow to happen what we don’t want and quickly we could be the next similar to Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Bahrain, Sudan and now Libya.

We need to speak-up to ensure those behaving contrary to our expectations know such is not acceptable. We even need to be prepared to turf them.

We need to cherish and safeguard democracy and we need people of integrity and proven record that work for its continuation. I trust your good judgement; that we will make the right decision and when the next opportunity arises we will pick such custodians. Long live democracy! Michael

Tuesday, March 15

Upcoming Workshop at U of L on Fracking

A one-day conference on natural gas fracking on Thursday, March 24, 2011. Keynote speech will be delivered by Josh Fox, Oscar-nominated director of “Gasland”. Other speakers too. Keep tuned.
Michael

Accounting of day's activities

Volunteering at Nordbridge Seniors in am followed by news, email and working on speech for Toastmasters in am. Attended SACPA on Campus Student Speaker Challenge Final session at the University on ‘What is Social Justice and how can it be achieved?' Both speeches of extremely high quality and assuring as to how our young people are thinking. Thanks to the speakers, Thomas Fox and Channing Stenhouse for such interesting and engaging speeches. Keep up the great work and here's wishing you the best.

Monday, March 14

Latest news - Gov. action on health Care another affront to democracy

Latest news, the Harper government has given the unelected Senate the mandate to conduct a second mandatory review of the 2004 Health Accord. A previous review was conducted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health in 2008. As noted by the Canadian Health Care Coalition “the move bypasses the House of Commons, where the Harper government is in a minority, to a Senate committee where the Conservatives are now in a majority”. This is another of anti-democratic actions by the Harper government.

As noted by CHCC, “hearings started today in the Senate Committee on Science, Technology and Social Affairs. Already, organizations that support a strong leadership role of the federal government in health care, including the Canadian Health Coalition, have been told they will not be allowed to appear and give testimony. “The message for Canadians is clear: The Harper government not only holds Parliament in contempt, it also seems to view Canadians who strongly support public health care with contempt as well.” Is this the kind of government you want? Please ensure you let your MP know your feelings on it.
Michael

Sunday, March 13

Update and election preparations

The past few days have certainly eventful not only in Canada but elsewhere. In fact, the destruction caused by the tsunami that hit Japan is downright scary. Really makes one thing how lucky we are and yet how tentative things can be. Then there was the unexpected political fall-out in Ottawa as well as surprise announcements by some Conservatives including a couple of government ministers of their intention not to run in the anticipated election. It is difficult not to wonder what may be
causing such resignations. It was a week I suspect Mr. Harper and the Conservatives would prefer not to have experienced. The rulings handed down certainly lent credibility to the Liberals that have been working diligently working and trying to help get the government accountable. It was a big slap in the face to a government that got to power using accountability as one of their key planks. Who could believe things could change so fast, however; as the saying goes, "the show must go on".

Also, with vacation over and the media projecting strong indications of a likely Spring Election to be precipitated by the upcoming budget you can imagine I felt the need to start preparation s for same. I have already got somethings in place including an office and yesterday we had our first meeting. I shared plans with those attending and received valuable feedback and we finished off the day with a BBQ and refreshments. Unfortunately not all were able to attend the BBQ. I thank everyone for attending and sharing. Watch for announcement of the next meeting and bring your friends as we still need more volunteers. Today I had my first indepth lesson from my friend Kevin to help me get familiar and using Twitter. If you have any issues or suggestions please contact me by email or phone me at (403) 381-7635.
Michael

Friday, March 11

Recent and Pre-election update and planning meeting

As many are aware from news casts of recent weeks it is getting closer to an election call despite Mr. Harper’s denials of any orchestration. Along with same in other ways desirable to any party or politician “the Gods” seemed to favor him with increased preference in the polls. Everything suggested the stage was being set for election, the likely trigger expected to be a vote of non-confidence over the budget. However, almost like the weather that can quickly change suddenly results of some unfinished business needing conclusion were announced much to Mr. Harper’s and the Government’s chagrin that some suggest now may cause attempts to defer election to avoid accounting. Unfortunately, though hopefully money will not save them the governing Conservatives by their own admission and broadly-known have plenty of cash to help counter backlash as they have already been spending liberally financing dirty adds calling down the opposition especially their biggest contender Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals. Who would believe things could change so quickly. Take your pick, the issues are as follows:

30B fighter jet boondoggle

Bev Oda’s Dishonesty

In and Out Fraud

The ‘Harper Government’ Edict

(Jason Kenny’s) “Very Ethnic” funding request letter

Christine Ouimet’s gag order and severance pay-out; all issues that thumb their nose at democracy and Canadians. Though the government and Mr. Harper attempt to minimize the issues and rulings, speaker of the House of Commons, Mr. Millicken ruled the government in contempt on several issues and noted it as less than honest in costing for the purchase and servicing for the much touted F35 fighter planes. Apparently the cost is almost twice as expensive as they have attempted to lead the Canadian public to believe.

As the saying goes, “eventually the chickens come home to roost”. Despite Mr. Harper’s and his party’s money and expensive attack adds hopefully Canadians will see through them and their misinformation and realize who is the one really looking after the interests of average Canadians.
Who said – “eventually our misdeeds catch-up with us” was right and right will win-out once again!
Also, whoever said “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” or “pride comes before a fall”, were also and still are obviously correct.

It is hard to keep a good person down and eventually the cream rises to the top. Small wonder people do not want dictatorship! However and regardless it behooves us and we need to be ready for a campaign so Liberal supporters and friends are invited to meet and start the planning necessary to win.


Elect Michael Cormican Campaign Pre-election Planning Meeting

Saturday, March 12, 2011
Time: 2pm

Location: 1273 – 3rd Ave. South

Bring your friends and ideas

Agenda

1. Outline of planning to-date
2. Announcement of office, Team etc.
3. Review of platform, schedules and fundraising
4. Sign-up for committees
5. Qs and As etc.

Come, catch-up, meet friends and have fun! Refreshments provided.

BBQ to follow. Enquiries to (403) 381-7635 or email michaelcormican@telus.net

Michael Cormican, Nominated Liberal Candidate

Wednesday, February 9

Liberal vs. Conservative priorities for voter consideration

Liberals focus on contrasting their priorities of pensions, learning, health and family care with the Harper Conservatives’ misguided priorities of spending billions of tax dollars on untendered fighter jets and tax cuts for the largest corporations.
Considerations
• After five years of Stephen Harper, Canadians are worse off.
• Harper’s real priorities are fighter jets, U.S.-style mega-prisons and more tax cuts for the largest corporations.
• Canada has become less equal. The rich are getting richer. The middle-class Canadian family's income is stagnating. The pressures on families are increasing. The elastic is stretched real tight.
• Liberals will make different choices and defend the priorities of Canadian families.
• We will cancel the $16 billion fighter jet deal and save billions by replacing the CF-18s in an open competition.
• We will cancel Harper’s corporate tax break and freeze tax rates at 2010 levels. Canada’s corporate tax rates are already among the lowest in the G7 and 25% below the U.S.
• While Stephen Harper runs a secretive, controlling, one-man show, Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal team have been listening to Canadians about their concerns and their priorities.
• Liberals will reinvest the savings in reducing the deficit and the priorities of middle-class Canadian families: pensions, learning, health and family care.
• There are the real issues affecting working families. These are the priorities that the Liberal Party will fight for.

Wednesday, February 2

Brief update on activities and issues especially with respect to my concerns about facing for oil and gas

Of recent issues arising the most urgent has got to be fracing for oil and gas. To learn more I've attended a couple of community awareness sessions, read-up on it and have come to the conclusion that everyone should be doing the same and asking questions because of the apparent possible ramification. Consequently, I've written a letter to the Herald on my concerns which also reflects those of many people including especially some of our Aborignal people who will be more directly affected. The letter is as follows:

Concerns about ‘Fracing for Oil and Gas’; is our health and survival at risk?

Last fall I heard of the Blood Reserve and Murphy Oil agreement that would allow the company to use the relatively new technology called hydrolic fracing. My curiosity was raised; I wanted to know what it meant. Fracing uses high pressure injections of water, sand and a variety of chemicals to break up geology formations holding oil and natural gas. The fractured rock yields much greater quantities of natural gas or oil. Large quantities of water and sand are need for this process. Some of the chemicals and the amount of water used concern me. I’m concerned for the outcome, everyone and want the best for all especially our Aboriginal people.

Then I heard of the documentary 'Gasland' and attended encore showing at Lethbridge College which afforded me opportunity to link-up with band members and other friends that were equally concerned. Since hearing of the deal they have been seeking information and answers to very legitimate concerns. The deal may result in several hundred wells. To date, there have been too few answers provided to some very critical and basic questions i.e. will it affect our health and that of animals, vegetation, water and food; have impact studies and risk assessments been done; what are potential risks; what if any precautions need to be taken; where will water used and waste contaminants be stored; what are the long-term consequences etc?

Everyone should be asking similar questions, in addition to becoming more informed on the issue, the procedure and the short and long-term effects, of which too little is known. A recent issue of Oilweek magazine describes it and ‘Gasland' outlines huge concerns across the US from New York State to Arizona about fracing. A moratorium has been called in New York and Quebec and most recently Pensylvania has requested one. Should we be concerned? I strongly urge you to watch 'Gasland'. It can be found by googling 'Gasland' on the web or the public library may have it. Ask the questions. Pass your concerns to City Council and the Alberta Government. Medicine Hat which is down-river and depends on the Oldman River for water supply... they should be taking the same actions. This is not isolated. Our health, lives and even survival may be at stake. Be concerned. I am.

Michael Cormican

Thursday, January 27

Report on Liberal Winter Caucus, Ottawa; January 26, 2011

I just returned from our Federal Liberal Winter Caucus held in Ottawa, January 24th and 25th. What an up-beat and exciting event! It is awesome meeting and discussing such important issues for our well-being with such incredibly dedicated and positive people from across the country.

The schedule and themes were as follows:
Day 1. After kick-off by the three Campaign Co-chairs we got underway with a session the Importance of Compliance with the Canada Elections Act. These were followed by sessions on the Riding Services Package and Communications as well as an address from our Leader, Mchael Ignatieff. He also fielded questions. Fundraising, membership and the importance of Liberalist was emphasized.

Day 2. LPC Report, Election Readiness, Polling and Strategic Messaging occupied the morning and in the afternoon we had a rousing Economic Update led by Ralph Goodale, Scott Brison, Alexandra Mendes and Marc Garneau. Highlight of the day was a swinging address by Michael Ignatieff to much applause and several standing ovations. Emphasizing that we are ready he summarized the policies developed as result of our many consultations with Canadians over the past couple of years and which will assist in helping us move forward as well as regain Canadians’ trust as well as our respect in the world. We also visited the Liberal office and the Leader’s Office and concluded the day with a fundraiser at the ‘National Arts Center’ where we met dynamic young people anxious to do battle. For further details call me or join me for a coffee at the Food Court, Parkplace Mall from 4 to 5pm today, Thursday, January 27. Hopefully see you later.
Michael