Jagmeet Singh bikes around Ottawa to promote cycling infrastructure
Jagmeet loves bikes, he’d be the first to tell you. So when Singh announced that he wants to make cycling safer for Canadians with a new national strategy, it should come as no surprise.
Yesterday night, Singh led a two-wheeled tour around Ottawa’s city core with a number of other NDP candidates.
Singh says investing in transit and cycling infrastructure is proactive in reducing carbon emissions, as well as the amount of time Canadians spend stuck in traffic.
According to CTV, NDP MP Gord Johns has “a private member’s bill before Parliament to establish a national cycling strategy that would commit Ottawa to set targets for expanding cycling infrastructure.”
This has been a point of pride for Singh, as he has had a cycling strategy in his playbook since he started running for the 2017 NDP Leadership position.
“We’re determined to make it easier and safer to ride,” said Singh in a tweet before heading out on his tour of downtown Ottawa, kicking off at a bike shop in the Parliamentary district.
According to a study by INRIX, Toronto residents spent roughly a weeks worth of time stuck in traffic annually. Montreal residents spend around six days, while those out West in Vancouver spend more than four days.
Statistics Canada data says about 7,500 cyclists are injured in Canada every year.
Without mentioning 71,000 jobs the Canadian economy shed in November, Finance Minister Bill Morneau stood in the House of Commons’ West Block foyer on Monday to announce a measly tax cut that would provide earners of $50,000 “with tax savings of close to $300 in 2023.”
Twenty million Canadians would benefit said Morneau, of the Liberals proposed increases to allowable personal income before taxes from $12,300 to $15,000.
In the wake of disastrous fall job figures reported last week by Statistics Canada, the minister touted “the lowest levels of unemployment we’ve seen in a very long time, but as we know, there continues to be economic anxiety and economic challenges.”
Asked about Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s demand for A Fair Deal for Alberta within Canada, banner advertisements purchased for the front page of today’s Ottawa Sun and Citizen editions, Morneau said he hadn’t read them yet, “but I will have a meeting with the Alberta Minister of Finance this afternoon and we will listen.”
“It’s important to listen, to consider their challenges. Their challenges are true. So we will listen and work together to improve the situation across the country, including Alberta,” said Morneau.
Across the street from Parliament, Kenney was about to address the Canadian Club in specific terms about the anxiety and challenges his province faces, having shed 175,000 jobs since 2015–18,000 in November alone – on the cusp of meetings with Morneau.
“There cannot be a strong Canada without a strong Alberta… our ability to play that role in the future is at risk. That puts Canada’s prosperity at risk,” Kenney warned during his speech, reiterating the province’s “net contribution(s) of $630 billion to the rest of Canada since 1961”, by way of federal income tax transfers.
By Kenney’s estimation, this wealth transfer from Alberta, which the federal government redistributes to other provinces in the federation equalled $55,000 for each man, woman and child in Alberta.
The Alberta premier went on to outline “the fair deal” his province seeks includes “a firm and fast deadline for TMX… and to make it a priority to bring First Nations into the project as an equity partner as soon as possible.”
As three separate indigenous groups are lined up to buy a stake in the existing 1,150 km pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. and a proposed $7.5 billion expansion, Morneau and the government have been silent on such a deal, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise last June for unlimited Indigenous ownership.
On this front, the Alberta premier lines up squarely behind federal Conservatives; either want more tidewater pipelines and new environmental legislation (bills C-69 and C-48) repealed, what Kenney and his Ottawa cohorts label as pipeline killers.
Scrapping this legislation–C-69 that revamped resource project assessments and 48, the northwest coast oil tanker ban–said Kenney, would allow the province a freedom “to develop our resources at a fair market price.”
Kenney has been beating the TMX drum for some time and shortly before Trudeau’s summertime green light for the project, the premier issued his demands in another ad-buy, this one splashed on the front pages of the Globe and Mail.
“Let us take seriously these challenges in a province that has done so much (for Canada). Let’s not make the mistake of diminishing or deriding (them),” Kenney told the Canadian Club on Monday morning.
Less than an hour earlier at Morneau’s tax cut scrum, the overall benefit was cut down to size in a brief back-and-forth with Mona Fortier, the Middle Class Prosperity minister and associate minister of Finance.
Reporter: “Have you looked at how much it’s going to save a person on their pay cheque? It’s at $300 a year. What’s that per pay cheque?”
Fortier: “Well, you know with this pay cheque will help to–with the $300 or $600 for families it will help ends meet and help families have access to more activities after school.”
Reporter: “It’s $11.50. Everybody knows…”
Fortier: “Well it’s still money that is combined with all of the measures that we’ve put in since 2015. It will help families cover some costs that they want to send their kids to camp or to put money aside for retirement.”
The parties that could potentially hold the balance of power in the Liberal’s minority government had very different takes on Thursday’s Throne speech when they responded in the House of Commons, Friday.
While the separatist Bloc Quebecois stood in defence of Quebec’s autonomy, the New Democrats assumed their traditional role as defenders of the poor and marginalized.
Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet took particular issue that the speech lumped Quebec in with provinces and territories as one of “the regions of Canada.”
“Let’s make something clear. Quebec is not a region of Canada. Quebec is the land that the Quebec nation shares with a number of First Nations,” Blanchet told the House of Commons, reminding MPs of his party’s raison d’etre.
“Although we may not be aiming specifically for this… Quebecers know that the Bloc is a party based on the concept of independence.”
Blanchet also said that in defending Quebec’s autonomy on matters of healthcare and environmental assessments, “The Bloc is not only representing the national assembly of Quebec but also the voices of the other provinces.”
The separatist party leader also said that Quebec voters turned to his party “because they can’t identify with any federal party.”
“They’re not all sovereigntists, but they’re nationalists,” he said.
Bloc support at the polls tripled their seat count (10-32) in the Commons while the number of NDP candidates were nearly cut in half, from 40 down to 24.
New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, whose enclave was relegated to fourth party status after October’s election in a Bloc-surge, accused Liberals for “profiting off student debt” while waiving government loans to corporations.
Singh was also skeptical about the Throne speech’s promise to lower the cost of telecommunications services by 25 percent.
“In Canada we pay…some of the highest cellphone and internet fees in the world. It’s not a coincidence because the government has allowed the telecoms to do this,” said Singh.
“Access to the internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity…(and) the cost of cell phone and internet services are impeding people in their everyday lives.”
Affordable and available housing, as well as making good on a national pharmacare plan that consecutive Liberal governments have paid lip service to, also formed Singh’s response to the Throne speech.
“Across Canada people are making difficult choices every day, about cutting their pills in half or going without the life-saving medication that they need,” he said.
“What is it going to take for the Prime Minister to keep his word and to deliver pharmacare that covers all Canadians?”
The New Democrat leader also suggested that Trudeau talked the talk on indigenous reconciliation, which also prominently featured in the Throne speech, but that the government’s actions fell short of walking the walk.
“I can’t wrap my head around it,” said Singh. “(They) ignore a human rights tribunal ruling, delay the funding to end the discrimination and continue to take indigenous to court.”
At the beginning of October, the federal government filed for judicial review of a Canadian Human Rights tribunal ruling ordering $40,000 in compensation to First Nations children taken from their communities under the on-reserve child welfare system.
Conservative MP Jeremy Patzer is the representative for Cypress Hills—Grasslands (Saskatchewan).
In delivering their Throne speech, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals unveiled what could have been an opportunity to acknowledge the mounting difficulties Western Canadians are facing. Especially the millions of hard-working Canadians who are employed, or rather, were employed in the energy industry. Instead, what we heard was a complete disregard for the real threat facing national unity today: the collapsing energy industry.
On election night, Prime Minister Trudeau went on national television and told Western Canadians, “I hear you.” The throne speech made it very clear, he is not listening.
This was an opportunity for the Liberal leader to demonstrate he has heard the concerns of Saskatchewan and Alberta, who routed every Liberal candidate in their provinces and prevented any new ones from being elected. This was an opportunity for him to show that he has heard our message, which was strong and clear, and that he plans to switch tracks in this minority Parliament.
At the very least, I expected the speech to mention the production of a National Energy Corridor to help get our resources to market and unite our country. Instead, we received more of the same from a PM rich in rhetoric but thin in deed.
Western Canada—and I believe all of Canada at large—expected to see a government that had learned from the disastrous mistakes of its own past, that would work to heal our regional divides, that would strengthen our position on the world stage, that would get Canadians back to work in hard hit regions, and that would give hope to the millions of Canadians who continue to feel abandoned by Justin Trudeau. The Liberal government’s Speech from the Throne was an opportunity to bring Canadians together and express a renewed vision for national unity. But, there was nothing of the sort.
Despite this disappointment, I am excited to be a part of Andrew Scheer’s Conservative team in Ottawa. We are ready to tackle the challenges ahead. We will continue to fight for Canadians and hold to a vision of a Canada that is stronger when we work together. We will offer real solutions that will allow nation-building infrastructure projects, like the Trans Mountain pipeline, to get built, rather than let innovative ideas die as a result of government dithering and red tape.
As the Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, I was elected to serve my constituents, not prop up Justin Trudeau’s agenda. I will continue to work hard every day to ensure that all Canadians can have confidence that this country is one for all of us. Canada’s Conservatives, under Andrew Scheer, have heard your voices. We are here to serve all Canadians, from Coast to Coast to Coast, including Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Canada’s economic and energy woes, reemerging separatist sentiment in Quebec and the west as well, and kowtowing to China – amongst other perceived foreign affairs failures – punctuated Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer’s attacks of Thursday’s Throne speech.
“Times of fear bring times of division and Canadians are afraid for their country,” Scheer told the House of Commons, accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “four years of unserious, entitled government.”
“We must put a stop to the divisive policies that have pitted province against province, region against region.”
The second day of the 43rd Parliament for Trudeau’s diminished, minority government gave Conservatives their first chance to respond to Liberals’ roadmap for the legislative session, where Scheer broached matters facing the nation that the Throne speech omitted.
“The Government of China continues with an expansionist agenda that is threatening Hong Kong’s vibrant democracy and, indeed, the safety and security of the people of Hong Kong themselves,” said Scheer, questioning Canada’s $256 million investment in the Chinese-controlled Asian Infrastructure Bank.
“The same Chinese dictatorship continues to hold two innocent Canadians hostage, as a retaliation of Canada fulfilling our legal obligation to arrest and extradite Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.”
Scheer categorized Canada’s recent United Nations vote for a North Korea-motion singling out Israel, as “abandoning” the Jewish state in exchange for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council.
“But most of all – we would really appreciate hearing the Prime Minister talk about Canada’s deteriorating relationship with the United States. One that was only exacerbated by his own conduct at this week’s NATO summit,” said Scheer.
“We understand that President Trump is a challenging negotiator. But the Americans are our partners all the same. No international file is more important to Canadian jobs and livelihoods than the ratification of the new NAFTA.”
On the domestic front, Scheer reiterated the party’s rejection of a carbon tax against “a chorus of voices from elite corners of Canadian high society demanding that our party abandon our opposition to (it).”
“…The Conservative Party under my leadership will always oppose a carbon tax – because we know the real cost it imposes on real people,” said Scheer.
“The entire point of the carbon tax is to make essentials more expensive.”
Scheer also promised to repeal new environmental legislation ushered in under Trudeau’s previous government – Bill C-69’s project assessment overhaul and C-48; the northwest coast oil tanker ban – blaming these policies for investment capital flight and percolating national unity rifts.
“The damage done over the past four years is significant. Today 175,000 Albertan energy workers are unemployed. Proud Canadian companies like TransCanada and EnCana are moving their business to the U.S,” Scheer said before turning to the rise of separatism in Quebec.
“After only four years of Liberal government, the Bloc came back with 32 separatist MPs.”
The Opposition leader also took aim at foreign cash that is funnelled to Canadian eco-activist groups, “to permanently shut down Canada’s energy sector and drive hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work.”
“They have already done lasting damage to the economies in Western Canada – and to the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of families… every single Member in this House… should be expected to stand up and be counted; Do you stand with the activists or do you stand with the workers of Canada?”
After Scheer’s speech, New Democrat MP Charlie Angus took issue with Scheer’s “conspiracy theory of foreign radicals who are attempting to undermine our industry.”
“If we have to go along with his conspiracy theories or they will break up the country, I would tell the member to drop that language,” said Angus.
Scheer replied that he’s not worried about foreign radicals in Angus’ party, because “in the NDP, they’re all domestic.”
When it was Trudeau’s turn to reply, the prime minister told the Commons he decided not to read a prepared speech, but instead decided to speak off the cuff and chastised Scheer for failing to make mention of “Indigenous reconciliation”, a centrepiece of the Throne speech written by the PMO.
Where Trudeau found some common ground with Scheer was over tax cuts for low and middle income Canadians, a Liberal campaign promise also included in the Throne speech.
“The change we made, is we made sure as we lower taxes for low income ends and middle class, we don’t actually give any extra advantage to the wealthy,” said Trudeau, who cited the Canada Child Benefit that “(doesn’t) send cheques to millionaires, like mine and the Leader of the Opposition.”
While the Conservatives and New Democrats have vowed to vote against a pro-forma bill agreement on the Speech from the Throne, it remains in the government’s purview to call it for a vote.
Barring that eventuality, the first confidence test for Trudeau’s minority government could come next week if a vote is called on Supplementary (spending) Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.