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The Hits and Misses in the Federal Government’s – Canada’s – Latest Budget

“Today’s (March 19th’s federal budget) measures don’t fulfill the bold promises of national pharmacare.”

“Budget 2019 continues the federal government’s modest efforts to move forward on greening the economy.”

Much More on what may be Trudeau government’s last budget before the federal election below.

A Critical Analysis  from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a non-profit body for advancing policy ideas

Posted March 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Budget 2019 identifies important targets, but falls short of substantial change

This could be the last budget Canada’s Trudeau government tables before it goes to the polls later this year.

Ottawa—Budget 2019, tabled today in the House of Commons, takes steps forward on municipal infrastructure, support for seniors and capping the regressive stock option deduction, but missed the mark on delivering housing affordability and the significant cost-savings that can only be achieved through a universal, single-payer pharmacare system, according to experts from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“Budget 2019 identifies the right targets, but holds off on making necessary investments: climate change, unaffordable housing and the lack of wage raises are issues that can’t afford to wait,” says CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald.

“Experience over the past four years has shown that progressive promises during an election year do not always translate into action, adequate funding and truly transformational federal policies.” Continue reading

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A Call-Out from Ontario Nature to Protect Our Lands and Inland Water

Show your support by signing the “Protected Places Declaration” Below

From Ontario Nature, a province-wide advocacy group for protecting our natural places

Posted March 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

For the past year, we have been campaigning to get the governments of Ontario and Canada to meet an international commitment to protect at least 17 percent of our lands and inland waters by 2020.

This is in accordance with a target set under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. So far, 140 organizationsbig and small – have endorsed the Protected Places Declaration. Continue reading

Brock University to Screen Award-Winning Film ‘Moose River Crossing’ – Friday, March 22nd   

Film, produced by Brock Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo, examines Residential School system in Canada. Admission is Free

News from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted March 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Brock University Chancellor and Moose River Crossing filmmaker Shirley Cheechoo

A special screening of the award-winning film, Moose River Crossing, by Brock University Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo will take place on campus Friday, March 22.

Cheechoo, who was appointed to a second term in her role with the University last June, will begin the evening by reading a passage from her play about residential schools, and will follow the film screening with a question-and-answer session with the audience. Drummers from the Niagara Women’s Drum Group will also perform.

Moose River Crossing examines the residential school system through the eyes of six fictional former students who meet at a train station to head to a reunion. They flash back to the troubling times they experienced at the residential school and aim to answer the question of whether or not time heals all wounds. Continue reading

A Timely Message from Niagara’s Lord Mayor on Bullies and Bullying

“Bullies use fear as a tool. They feed off of people’s insecurities and manipulate others to believe they are good.”

“Bullies may use a variety of threats, particularly when they themselves are feeling threatened: they will openly suggest that anyone who stands up to them will have to pay dearly for opposing their wishes.”

“Bullies don’t care about the common good, or a greater good, they care about one thing: themselves and their own personal interests.”

“The good news is, we don’t have to put up with bullies. And a first step to combating them is to recognize their tactics, and call out the strategies they use to intimidate, undermine and fear monger.”                                                                                                      – Betty Disero, Lord Mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Early in the last term of Niagara Regional Council, the Region’s then-chair, Al Caslin, appears in a photo op after a community group came to the council to promote a public campaign against bullying. The group’s message didn’t appear to get through to many members of that council.

(A Brief Foreword from Doug Draper, journalist and publisher, Niagara At Large – March 18th, 2019

I wish to thank a resident in Niagara-on-the-Lake for bringing what I consider to be this very timely and important message from one of Niagara’s political leaders to my attention because I may have missed it.

I say timely because, unfortunately, in the age we now live in, there is far too much of this bad behaviour around. And there are individuals in high places, like the current U.S. president Donald Trump, who personify bullying and embolden others to behave the same way.

As a journalist who covered the last term of Niagara Regional Council under the helm of then-chair Al Caslin, I had a regular front-row seat to this kind of behaviour and, fortunately, most of those on that council who engaged in it were defeated in last October’s municipal elections, or they did us a favour and decided not to run again.

The good news is that the current Regional Council with Jim Bradley sitting in the Chair’s seat and individuals like Betty Disero (who is serving her first term as NOTL’s Lord Mayor and Regional Council member) sitting around the horseshoe, any and all signs of that ugly behaviour is virtually gone. And let’s hope it stays that way.

What a difference an election can make. The new Niagara Regional Council, sworn in last December, and chaired by Jim Bradley (with NOTL Lord Mayor Betty Disero as one of its members), seems a world away from the bad conduct so frequently witnessed on the Caslin council.

That is not to say that there aren’t still many bullies out there among us, in public office, in places of employment, out there on the school yard and, most certainly, on social media where many of us who cared to share our views on a topic have become targets of cyber bullies at one time or another. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Putting Local Health Care Services across province at “Unprecedented Risk”

Doug Ford’s “Government for the People” is Steamrolling Health Restructuring Law Through in “Outrageously Undemocratic” Process

A Message from the Ontario Health Coaltion, a province-wide citizens group advocating for quality, public health services

Posted March 18th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Are Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his health minister, Christine Elliott (left in photo) now working to deconstruct the system of public health care generations of Canadians fought for and supported going back to Canada’s “father of medicare for all”, Tommy Douglas? Is gutting our health services worth more tax cuts for Ford and Elliott’s rich business friends?

Toronto, Ontario The Ontario Health Coalition is expresing outrage at the process by which the Ford government is rushing their new sweeping health care restructuring legislation through and is demanding public hearings across Ontario.

In the new law, the Ford government has given itself new powers to order the privatization of health care services, along with mega-mergers, transfers, and closures of local health care services including hospitals, long-term care, home care, community care, mental health and addictions services, community health centres and non-profit family health teams and others, says the OHC.

One of many rallies the Ontario Health Coalition has organized in support of quality, public health care

In context, the planned restructuring covers 1,800 health care service providers and health care services for approximately 15 million Ontarians, according to the Health Minister’s own comments. Continue reading

Brock U. Forum to Focus on Marine Mammal Captitivy, Animal Advocacy and Environmentalism

Animal rights at centre of upcoming Brock talk – Free to All on Thursday, March 21st from 4 to 7 p.m.

A Brock News Release by Jeannie Mackintosh, from Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted March 18th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Renowned neuroscientist Lori Marino will speak at Brock on Thursday, March 21.

Niagara, Ontario – Two renowned scholars will be on campus next week to get the Brock and wider Niagara community thinking — and talking — about animals.

Acclaimed neuroscientist Lori Marino and Canadian academic Amy Fitzgerald will speak about marine mammal captivity, and animal advocacy and environmentalism, respectively.

Presented by Brock’s Department of Sociology, the free Thinking About Animals event takes place Thursday, March 21 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Pond Inlet. Everyone is welcome to attend. Continue reading

A Song or Two for the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day

Make it a Day of Celebration and of Paying a Bit of Homage to the Hardships that People of all Races, Colours and Creeds Have Been Through – And to the Love we should Share with and for Each Other

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted March 17th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

As a veteran of quite a few St. Patrick’s Day parades and the wild parties that fill the pubs and pour out onto to the streets after the parades, one of thought that has often occurred to me during the height of it all is this.

Celebarting in the streets of Buffalo, New York on the day of a St. Patrick’s Day parade. File photo by Doug Draper

That kind of partying – as joyous as it so obviously seems – can often be a product of a long history of hardship and persecution.

The last few decades have arguably been relatively good ones for the Irish and for North Americans of Irish descent compared to many decades over the past couple of hundreds of years.

For a 50 or 60-year-old Canadian or American of Irish decent, the Irish Rising (also known as the Irish Rebellion) of April, 1916, is only a few generations in the past, and the potato famine of the mid-1800s which reportedly killed more than a million people through disease and starvation, is only four or five generations in the past.

Stories, along with so many of the hard feelings from those and other nightmare times in the history of the Irish people, have been passed on from generation to generation. Continue reading