Harper’s Economic Strategy For Canada – Just ‘Stay The Course’ And Pretend We Are Not In A Recession

A Commentary by Doug Draper

In Canada’s Harperland, there is no recession, just a “contraction” – a word Stephen Harper and his trained seals have been using in response to everything from the economic bloodbath in once carbon-rich Alberta and chronically high, double-digit unemployment rates for Canada’s young people to a loonie that has devolved to dodo status against the American greenback.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made the country especially vulnerable to recession or worse by putting so many eggs in the tar sands basket.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made the country especially vulnerable to recession or worse by putting so many eggs in the tar sands basket.

Yes, in Harperland the economic data released by Statistics Canada this September 1st, showing two consecutive quarters of negative growth – a long enough slump to, by any measure used in the developed world, constitute a recession – is nothing more than “a couple of weak months,” added Harper in response to the figures and is “almost exclusively” due to air rushing out of the balloon in one sector. Continue reading

Niagara, Ontario’s Town of Pelham Launches Its Own Transit System

News from Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

September 1st, 2015 –  In early 2015, Town Council and Senior Staff engaged in a strategic planning session to help identify goals and priorities for moving Pelham forward. One of our key priorities from our overarching goals was to “Offer public transportation to Pelham residents.” Why? It’s consistently something that folks of all ages have requested over the years.

Pelham, Ontario Mayor Dave Augustyn

Pelham, Ontario Mayor Dave Augustyn

Later in January, the Town applied for funding for the Ministry of Transportation’s “Community Transportation Pilot Grant Program,” which helps municipalities implement or improve public transportation. In March, the MTO approved the maximum — $100,000 – to help cover the majority of the costs to implement transit system in Pelham.

Staff consulted with Pelham Cares; local Senior Housing Facilities and Associations; Pelham Senior Advisory Council; Mayors Youth Advisory Council; existing shuttle services; and Niagara Region and area transportation specialists. The Town also undertook a community consultation and received more than 200 responses with suggestions for routing, timing, pick-up / drop-off locations. Finally, the Town considered the times that we currently provide transit – for Summerfest, for the Thursday night events (Suppermarket, Bandshell, Farmer’s Market), and for Canada Day. Continue reading

An Anti-Harper Song Gets Environment Canada Scientist In Big Trouble

Sign Petition Near Bottom Of This Post To Support Him

News from Avaaz, an online global citizen activist network
September 1st, 2015 – Environment Canada scientist Tony Turner wrote a political protest song about Stephen Harper – and now he’s been put on leave and is being investigated by the government!

Environment Canada scientist Tony Turner on forced leave for singing it like it is about Harper

Environment Canada scientist Tony Turner on forced leave for singing it like it is about Harper

They want to silence free speech and stop the song, “Harperman”, from reaching a bigger audience…but it’s about to backfire big time. Because if everyone receiving this email watches the video after signing at the link below, it will be seen by 3% of Canada – if we all share it with just one other person, 6% of Canada, and so on.

Let’s make this viral and timely video a political nightmare for a government trying to silence critics. Click now and help make this huge by signing a petition demanding Tony be reinstated immediately – then watch the video and help “Harperman” take-off across the country by sharing on Facebook, and everywhere else:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/harperman_loc/?bRUUpdb&v=64168

Tony Turner is a popular folk singer, and also a scientist at Environment Canada. When a recording of his “Harperman” political protest song — calling on the country to get rid of the Harper government – was posted on Youtube, he was suspended and put under investigation.

Environment Canada says that all employees agree to comply with a value and ethics code that lays out expected behaviour – but the Supreme Court has said that public service workers have a right to free expression — just like the rest of us.

Our government has consistently muzzled scientists and public servants whose opinions or research could threaten their policies. And we’ve seen how it views protest, passing Bill C-51 that labels environmental activists as “security threats”.

Fortunately, they can’t silence the internet. Click now to stand with Tony and watch the video – and to share it around the country:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/harperman_loc/?bRUUpdb&v=64168

It’s our right to protest, and we shouldn’t be punished for it. Let’s turn this story and “Harperman” into a political nightmare (for Canada’s Harper government)as election season comes into full swing.

If you could not access a youtube performance of the Harperman song in the links above try clicking on this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei50lM6ab1c

With hope,

Danny, Ari, Emma, Ricken and the Avaaz team

SOURCES
Public servant being investigated for writing and performing anti-Tory ‘Harperman’ song (National Post)
http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/public-servant-being-investigated-for-wri…

Federal scientist put on leave over Harperman protest song (CBC)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/harperman-tony-turner-scientist-investigation-1.3207390

Continue reading

Western New York Congressman Blasts Republican Presidential Candidate’s Call For Proposal To Wall Off Canada

News from U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins

September 1st, 2015 – In a letter today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), co-chair of the House of Representatives’ Norther Border Caucus, criticized Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s contention that a proposal to construct a wall on the border of the United States and Canada is “a legitimate issue.”

With Peace Bridge in background, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins discusses Canana/U.S. border crossing challenges at a 2014 media conference

With Peace Bridge in background, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins discusses Canana/U.S. border crossing challenges at a 2014 media conference

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday morning, Walker said the issue was raised during a town hall meeting.

The U.S. – Canada border is the longest international border in the world at 5,525 miles long. Congressman Higgins’s Western New York District borders Southern Ontario and includes three automobile and two rail crossings between the U.S. and Canada, including the busiest automobile border crossing, the Peace Bridge.

The text of the letter is below: Continue reading

Ontario Sets Higher Fines For Distracted Driving – But Not High Enough!

A News Commentary by Doug Draper

There is an old saying that goes something like – ‘Set the punishment to fit the crime.’

Texting and talking on cellphones while driving is a major cause of deaths on our roads.

Texting and talking on cellphones while driving is a major cause of deaths on our roads.

With that in mind, it is good that Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, starting this September 1st, 2015, is finally increasing fines for texting or talking on a cellphone while driving from a paltry $280 (including a $5 court fee and $50 victim surcharge fee) to $490 plus the same two mandatory fees and the docking of three demerit points.

While this means Ontario now has among the highest, if not the fine for distracted driving of any province or territory in Canada, and New York State where the fine is as high as $450 for a third offence, it is not as high as fines for some of the other driving offences in Ontario that cause fewer deaths and injuries. Continue reading

We Canadians Should Stand Up For Fahmy, Even If Our Government Won’t

A Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper

“We are free. … Egypt is free,” cheered countless tens-of-thousands of mostly young Egyptians in the streets of Cairo just four years ago – in February of 2011 – when the country’s corrupt, autocratic strongman Hosni Mobarak was finally forced from power by what looked to the world to be a peaceful uprising of the people.

Canadian Mohamed Fahmy on trial on bogus charges in Egypt

Canadian Mohamed Fahmy on trial on bogus charges in Egypt

The jubilation was shared by a large group of Niagara residents, some of them of Egyptian descent, rallied on the front steps of city hall in St. Catharines, Ontario for a new dawn of freedom and democracy in the land of ancient kings and pyramids – the “cradle of civilization” as it has come to be called.

Another Canadian of Egyptian descent, Mohamed Fahmy, who covered the uprising for CNN and joined in the celebration when Mobarak stepped down, went on to write a book titled ‘Egyptian Freedom Story.”

So much for any hope of a free and democratic though. Just as a number of governance experts many of us did not want to listen to at the time warned – ‘this George W. Bush notion that you can just take a country that has had a long history of blood-letting totalitarian and transform it into a democracy overnight is fairy tale. It is more realistic to ask the question – ‘If we get rid of the dictator behind door number one, what will we find behind door number two.’

In the case of Egypt and its beleaguered people, what was behind door number two – Mohamd Horsi and his Muslim Brotherhood – has turned out to be just as corrupt and brutal, if not more so, than the scoundrel who was thrown out. And to underscore that dark reality, we had the conviction this August 29th of three journalists, including Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste (the later who his country, Australia, managed to get deported back home a while back) to three years in jail on bogus charges of “aiding a terrorist group.” Continue reading

Elmwood Arts Festival Is Great Way To Celebrate What’s Left Of Summer

A Brief from Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

It is one of the last great festivals of summer in our binational Niagara region.

File photo of Elmwood Arts Festival in Buffalo, New York

File photo of Elmwood Arts Festival in Buffalo, New York

The 16th Annual Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts- so rightfully branded by its organizers as a “celebration of creativity community” and held in the heart of Buffalo, New York’s thriving Elmwood Village – takes place this Saturday, August 29th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and this Sunday, August 30th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The festival features hundreds of artists, crafts people, musicians and food vendors to a stretch of Buffalo’s Elmwood Avenue lined with unique cafes and shops and cut off to traffic for the occasion for several blocks between St. James Place and West Ferry Street. Continue reading