Friday, January 23, 2015

Town Hall Event - "Ontario's Greenbelt Under Threat" ( #onpoli )

In partnership with Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, Land Over Landings presents a Town Hall Meeting to expose the threats to Ontario's Greenbelt.

January 28th - 7 - 9 pm, Brougham Town Hall, Brougham, Ontario.

Full details are available via the Facebook event.

Jennifer O'Connell for the Liberal Party Nomination, Pickering-Uxbridge ( #lpc #cdnpoli )

Pickering-Uxbridge will be holding the Liberal Party nomination on January 29th at the Pickering Recreation Complex [meeting notice, PDF]. There are three contestants seeking the nomination.

I am supporting Jennifer O'Connell and think Jennifer would be a tremendous representative for Pickering-Uxbridge and a great addition to Justin Trudeau's team as a Liberal Member of Parliament.

Jennifer has served the city of Pickering as a city and regional councillor for the past eight years and has a strong record of winning elections. She is a tireless advocate for progressive issues while serving on Council as well as being a tenacious advocate for the environment.

The Conservative candidate, Corneliu Chisu, has been an ineffectual MP for Pickering-Scarborough East, and will likely prove to be equally ineffectual for Pickering-Uxbridge.

We need a strong voice for the residents of Pickering and Uxbridge in Ottawa.

You can read more about Jennifer at her website.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ontario's Craft Brewers Should Reject the Beer Store Proposal ( #beer #onpoli )

It's not often that two of my favourite things collide, but somebody got politics in my beer and beer in my politics.

People who know me, know that I enjoy trying and sampling new beer. I like variety and I think we're living in a tremendous time when lots of new craft beer options exist around the province.

In Ontario, there are two entities that are allowed to widely distribute alcohol - the government agency Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and through a special arrangement with the LCBO, the Beer Store.
Under Ontario's Liquor Control Act, Brewers Retail is the only retailer permitted to sell beer for off-site consumption, except for stores on the site of a brewery, locations of the provincial government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), and LCBO-authorized agency stores in certain smaller communities.The act and the company's articles of incorporation further stipulate that Brewers Retail cannot sell "hard liquor" (spirits), or consumer goods (like groceries).
It has since been revealed that the Beer Store entered into a fairly lucrative arrangement with the LCBO via the Ontario Progressive Conservatives to be the number one provider of beer in the province. Essentially, the agreement binds the LCBO from selling beer in packages larger than six-packs.

Citizens were outraged, and the Ontario Liberal government vowed to review the agreement.

To get ahead of the story, the Beer Store proposed to change the agreement to allow small brewers a small part in ownership and a savings on listing fees for their products ... if they stop whining.

The problem? It doesn't change the fundamental problem with beer distribution in the province.

The three foreign-owned breweries that currently own the Beer Store (MolsonCoors, AB-InBev, and Sapporo) would still retain majority ownership status and thus would still enjoy majority control of the company. They'll be able to pay lip service to critics and the craft brewers that they did something. The foreign-owned breweries would retained 80% control of the board.

Distribution of craft beer at the "free" rate to member craft brewers would be limited to the five closest retail locations. If you're an Ottawa craft brewer, it will still cost you to distribute in a Toronto, Windsor or Thunder Bay Beer Store. Craft brewers with the means or desire to distribute beyond their local area of influence should be able to without government-imposed hurdles to do so.

The Beer Store should not be the sole private wide-area distribution network in the province. This agreement does nothing to eliminate this unfair arrangement.

Canada's Veterans Still Need Protection from Conservatives ( #cdnpoli )

Canada's veterans rejoiced when Julian Fantino was finally booted from Veterans Affairs on January 5.

Mr. Fantino was replaced by Durham Conservative MP, Erin O'Toole. Ostensibly, a sound pick - a former RCAF officer.

Someone with such a background, you'd think would bring a sympathetic ear to what veterans need.

You would be forgiven if you had forgotten that O'Toole fully parroted Julian Fantino's hard line stance against honouring veterans benefits at every turn - fully endorsing the government's inaction in the care of Canada's veterans.

You would argue that it was up to O'Toole to simply toe the party line and publicly support the previous minister.

You would hope his first act would have been to set a new course and a new direction for the troubled ministry.

Well, you'd be disappointed.

The new minister has decided not to listen to certain veterans advocacy groups - especially, it seems, if they do not follow the party line that everything is fine with Veterans Affairs.
Mike Blais, who helped launch Canadian Veterans Advocacy in 2011 to advocate for veterans and serving Canadian Forces members who did combat tours in Afghanistan and their families, told The Hill Times that Mr. O’Toole (Durham, Ont.) gave the bad news [that it is no longer a stakeholder adviser to the Veterans Affairs department] in a voicemail he left on Mr. Blais’ phone service Jan. 7. [Hill Times]
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


Thursday, January 01, 2015

Veterans Need Protection from Conservatives, Part One Thousand ( #cdnpoli )

Conservatives have continuously let down veterans since coming to power.

We've since learned that the Conservative Party let $1.1 billion (with a 'B') lapse in veteran funding. Essentially, Veterans Affairs had $1.1 billion budgeted to spend on veterans' programs and the ministry did not spend it. Simply put - the demand for services was there, but for whatever reason, did not spend the money.

Now, Veterans Affairs is on the attack.
The Veterans Affairs department says some veterans are exaggerating their injuries to continue receiving financial benefits from the government and to avoid joining the work force. []
So - veterans on waiting lists for months and years for programs, or - worse - denied programs are now told to get "off the dole" and get back to work.

Politicians eager to send Canadians into war zones should be fully prepared to support them when they come home.


New Year's Resolution

I almost say it every year so I'm going to do it again.

I resolve to blog more.

With Twitter and Facebook, I can quickly get my thoughts out really quick - opening the vent as it were. I think where I'll try to make it easier to blog is I'll encapsulate a couple of those quick thoughts into blog posts.

That's the plan.