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Craig Scott, M.P. Toronto-Danforth
As the Canadian Press put it, Craig “led the charge” against the Conservative government’s Bill C-23, the so-called “Fair” Elections Act. Here, Craig and NDP Deputy Leader David Christopherson speak at a press conference convened to alert Canadians to Bill C-23’s “attack on our democracy” (to use the words of former Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser).
I hope you can join me for my 2nd Annual Summer BBQ on Saturday July 19, 2014. There will be free food and activities for children. All are welcome. I am excited to inform you that this year my summer BBQ will have an environmental theme, as the date coincides with NDP’s Day of Action aimed at building support for the Climate Change Accountability Act. This is NDP legislation currently before the House of Commons which legislates long-term targets to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and mandates regular reviews and reports on the federal government’s progress. Many will be aware that this bill has a special Toronto-Danforth connection as it was first introduced by the late Jack Layton in October 2006.
Saturday July 19, 2014 1:00 - 4:00 PM Withrow Park
The BBQ will also feature information booths for local environmental organizations. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about how you can be part of local efforts to help push the government to get serious about building a clean and sustainable Canada.
725 Logan Avenue Just south of McConnell Ave. Top of the park, grounds of the Club House.
Hope to see you on July 19! -Craig
New Democrats put forward a Pan-Canadian Food Strategy Last month, New Democrats became the only national party to lay out a vision for creating a pan-Canadian food strategy. This plan was based on the hard work of my colleagues Malcolm Allen and Ruth Ellen Brosseau, Official Opposition Critic and Deputy Critic for Agriculture. It is the culmination of three years of consultation with stakeholders. Many will be aware that Canada is without a comprehensive food policy. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, has raised serious concerns about food security in Aboriginal communities and the lack of a coordinated food strategy in Canada. Small family farms are disappearing. As well, more than 800,000 Canadians visit food banks every month. In our community of Toronto-Danforth alone we have seven food banks. The NDP plan for our food system is one that connects Canadians from farm to fork. It would put in place an integrated approach to federal policy that connects agriculture, rural development, health and income security. Some highlights of our plan are as follows: •
Craig on affordable housing for Toronto
processing plants. Develop labelling standards that improve consumer choice, including clear, accurate and consistent labelling regarding animal treatment in food production as well as clear, accurate and verifiable labelling on the origin of food and food products. Make healthy food accessible for all Canadians, including creating a pan-Canadian school nutrition program, increasing GIS to ensure seniors can afford the food they need, and working with First Nations leadership to ensure healthy and culturally appropriate foods are accessible in the North, on reserves and in remote communities. Support local agriculture; including family farms.
Craig Scott (Toronto—Danforth): Mr. Speaker, the housing crisis in this country is severe, and according to a new Royal Bank report, it is only getting worse. In Toronto alone, over 90,000 families are on the waiting list for affordable housing. Thousands more are added every month. Liberals killed the national housing program and then Conservatives buried it, and it is Toronto families who are paying the price.
Our vision of a pan-Canadian food strategy ensures that everyone eats well, that our agricultural communities are sustainable for generations to come, and that Canadian products find growing markets at home and abroad. ■
In the middle of Craig asking this question, the Conservative benches erupted and tried to shout down the question. The Speaker of the House restored order, and finally the Minister was able to answer:
To receive a full copy of the report, please contact our office. I look forward to hearing your feedback!
Hon. Candice Bergen (Minister of State (Social Development), CPC): Mr. Speaker, what Canadians do not need are more bureaucrats sitting around in Ottawa telling them what they need and how to invest. ■
Ensuring Canada maintains the highest standard of food safety, including an immediate, independent audit of Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) resources and increasing the number of front-line inspectors in Canadian
304 - 741 Broadview Ave. Toronto, ON, M4K 3Y3 Phone: 416.405.8914 // Fax: 416.405.8918
Visit my website! www.craigscott.ndp.ca
Will the government reject the Liberal approach, stand with the NDP, and adopt the national housing program and strategy that Canada so badly needs?
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @craigscottndp
Leading the Fight to Save Your Vote LEGISLATION THAT ATTACKS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR DEMOCRACY This past Parliamentary session, the Conservative Minister for Democratic Reform, Pierre Poilievre announced one of the worst pieces of legislation to come from this government - and that’s saying something. Bill C-23, the so-called “Fair” Elections Act, sought to make it tougher for Canadians to vote, easier to play money politics and much more difficult for Elections Canada to do its job. This bill amounts to the kind of voter suppression that reminds us of what we’ve seen in American politics. To quote David Crombie and Allan Gregg, one a former mayor of Toronto and Progressive Conservative minister and the other a pollster and public relations person with Progressive Conservative roots: This legislation is a blatant attempt by the Harper government to stack the deck in favour of the Conservatives in the next federal election.
THE REMAINING ISSUES IN THIS BILL ARE HUGE Despite the concessions, there still remain many problems with this bill. That’s why, in good faith, my NDP colleagues and I proposed close to 100 ways to improve this widely-denounced bill. Unfortunately the Conservatives again let their ideology undermine what’s best for Canada and refused to vote for a single NDP amendment. Some of the problematic aspects that remain in this bill include: •
“Stack the deck” is something that clearly suggests an effort to create an Unfair Elections Act, the opposite of the title of the bill, the “Fair Elections Act”. LEADING THE CHARGE AGAINST THE UNFAIR ELECTIONS ACT From day one, as the Official Opposition Critic for Democratic Reform, I led the fight to stop this bill. Day after day in Question Period I was on my feet in Question Period raising concerns; I sponsored an NDP Opposition Day motion (full day of debate in Parliament) against the bill; I hosted three town halls to raise awareness and hear from voters; I persistently urged the Minister to work with all parties to draft a new bill, and when he refused to acknowledge the NDP’s concerns I put forward over 100 amendments to fix this bill in Committee. This is just a selection of what the Canadian Press described as my “leading the charge” coordination of the NDP’s resistance to the Unfair Elections Act. Eventually, the media did its part reporting on opposition to this bill. Academics, and civil society organizations got on board, circulating petitions and mobilizing people. They joined us in reaching out to Conservative MPs via social media. They ran print and radio advertisements, and they even joined us in showing up at constituency offices to make personal appeals to Conservative MPs to change their minds and do the right thing.
Bill C-23 that Central Poll Supervisors would henceforth be de facto appointed by the firstplace party from the last election. The limit on how long calling service providers and others have to keep data with respect to voter contact was increased from one year to three years.
It fails to give investigators the tools they need to crack down on electoral fraud. For instance, the government refused to give Elections Canada the power to apply to a judge for an order to compel testimony from a witness during an investigation into electoral crimes, like fraud. The government also directly defied a March 2012 NDP Motion, which the Conservatives voted for, to require national parties to produce receipts and documents to back up the millions of dollars in campaign expenses incurred by all the parties during a general election. It fails to maintain Elections Canada’s independence from government by moving the chief investigative officer, the Commissioner of Canada Elections, to the Department of Justice. It fails to restore the authority of the Chief Electoral Officer to encourage all Canadians to vote. Elections Canada is still prohibited from partnering through university level programs to engage youth ages 18-25 to vote and with aboriginal groups. It prohibits the Chief Electoral Officer from authorizing the use of voter information cards, or VICs, as a piece of voter identification alongside a second piece of identification - despite there being no evidence whatsoever for believing these cards are, or are likely to be, a source of fraud. ■
Learn more about my efforts, including speeches, questions to the government, and media interviews: www.craigscott.ndp.ca
CONSERVATIVES FORCED TO START TO COMPROMISE
MARCH 2013 Elections Canada released a report entitled Preventing Deceptive Communications with Electors that directly draws on proposals contained in my Private Member’s Bill.
Vouching for a neighbour’s address is restored; Public education by Elections Canada is now restored - although only for primary and secondary school students. The exemption of the costs of fundraising (from previous donors) from campaign expenses was removed from Bill C-23. The government removed the provision in
APRIL 16, 2013 The Minister of Democratic Reform Tim Uppal announced in Parliament that he would finally be tabling the missing bill. APRIL 17, 2013 The next day, the Minister announced the bill would not be tabled after all. JULY 2013 Mr. Harper named Pierre Pollievre as the new Minister of Democratic Reform. Poilievre was known best as the Conservatives’ ‘go to’ MP whenever they were under fire for another scandal, or for creating a diversion during Question Period with divisive comments. FEBRUARY 4, 2014 Minister Poilievre finally tables the long overdue bill, calling it the “Fair” Elections Act. The bill quickly became known as the Unfair Elections Act. FEBRUARY 5, 2014 In an effort to rush the bill through Parliament, less than 18 hours later MPs were expected to have read, analyzed, and formed first views on a 242-page bill. Under these conditions, I gave my reply speech to the minister at the start of second reading. FEBRUARY 10, 2014 Conservatives introduced time allocation to shut down debate and send the bill to committee. The Unfair Elections Act went to committee stage, where there was an effort on the part of the Official Opposition to convince the Procedure and House Affairs Committee to allow for hearings across the country in order to hear what Canadians thought about this bill. My colleague David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre) put on a strong filibuster in order to convey to the government how serious we were about this, but ultimately, after 10 hours, he had to concede that the arguments had not penetrated the brick wall.
MAY 5, 2014 Bill C-23 returns to the House of Commons. Soon after, the Conservatives move a time allocation motion to shut down debate. MAY 13, 2014 Despite the massive opposition, Conservatives pass the Unfair Elections Act.
APRIL 1, 2013 Still no bill tabled by the Conservatives, despite countless questions that I posed in the House of Commons asking when they planned to act.
APRIL 28 - May 1, 2014 Clause-by-clause study begins. The Conservatives allowed only 10 hours of amendment discussion, and by the time the guillotine came down we had gotten through only one-fifth of the 242 pages in the bill, one-half of the bill in terms of the clauses, and only half of the opposition amendments. I put forward close to 100 amendments to fix this bill. Not a single one of my official opposition amendments was voted in favour of by the government.
Some of the concessions made by the government included the following:
OCTOBER 2012 I tabled Bill C-453 which seeks to prevent the next election from being marred by fraudulent calls to voters.
MARCH 24, 2014 I put forward an Opposition Day Motion (full day of debate in the House of Commons) to stop the Unfair Elections Act.
It was this relentless NDP opposition, combined with an engaged civil society response, that forced some major concessions by the government. I also want to thank all those in the Toronto-Danforth community who did their part to push back against this threat to our democracy.
SEPTEMBER 2012 The deadline passed for the government to table a bill to deal with election fraud and to enhance the powers of Elections Canada to investigate and ensure compliance.
We went on to hear from 71 witnesses, only one of whom was completely in support of the bill. Most were critical of large swathes of the bill, including the Chief Electoral Officer, the Commissioner of Canada Elections, former Auditor General Sheila Fraser - even Preston Manning.
All the while, the Minister of Democratic Reform continued to insist that his bill was “terrific.” It didn’t seem to matter how often he was proved wrong, or called out for distorting the words of experts.
MARCH 2012 New Democrats tabled a motion that passed unanimously calling on the government to table within six months—by September 2012—a bill that would address the issue of prevention and prosecution of fraudulent election calls and also add to investigative the powers of Elections Canada.
Craig Scott, M.P.
1 Recently, Canada’s iconic band Blue Rodeo received the Governor-General Performing Arts Award
in Ottawa. The award was for Lifetime Achievement in Popular Music. It was my great privilege to join band members Bazil Donovan, Bob Egan and Colin Cripps for lunch on Parliament Hill, hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons. Toronto-Danforth is lucky to be the home not only of two of Blue Rodeo’s members but also of the band’s own recording-studio building located just off the Danforth. 2 With Toronto-Danforth constituents and winners of the prestigious Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, Max Dean and Kim Adams (R-L). Sculptor Kim Adams, is based in Leslieville and multidisciplinary visual artist Max Dean has had a large studio space in the Port Lands for nearly 20 years. It speaks to the talent of our community that two of eight recipients hailed from Toronto-Danforth. 3 With my neighbour Glenn, MPP Peter Tabuns and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair on Simpson Ave. Tom was invited to deliver two speeches at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (115 Simpson Ave.) as part of the Political Leaders Series. 4 Great meeting with Anson Chan, Former Chief Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and Martin Lee, Founding Chairman of the Democratic Party in Hong Kong. They were meeting with a number of NDP MPs on the future of democracy in Hong Kong. 5 Great to have the opportunity to award Adrienne Dagg with the Riverdale Artwalk Jury Award for Best in Show. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners !
Celebrating Diversity & Fighting for Equality SPEAKING OUT ON VISA DENIALS FOR LGBTQ ACTIVISTS In May, Canada refused to issue visitor visas to 9 Ugandan activists invited to Toronto’s World Human Rights Conference in June co-hosted by the University of Toronto and World Pride Toronto, due to concerns they would seek asylum. Months before, I had reached out to the Minister because I was worried visa denials of this sort could happen, given how much power is in the hands of individual CIC officers to decide on visitor-visa applications. My hope was that some form of ministerial guidance could ensure a smooth visa process for the World Conference. I was disappointed that this did not seem to have worked initially in the case of applicants from Uganda. However, I was heartened that ministerial staff responded with alacrity to the concerns I expressed to them once a pattern of visa denials began to emerge. I am pleased to re-
port that the Minister agreed to have fresh applications considered on an expedited basis. At the time of writing, all 7 of the new visa applications have been approved. Again working with the Minister’s office, I also ensured the reversal of two denials of a visa for a conference participant from India. M-517: CRAIG’S MOTION ON MILITARY DISCHARGE In June, I tabled Motion M-517 that, if adopted, directs the Minister of National Defence to issue instructions to the Military Ombudsman to carry out an investigation into the many decades, until 1992, during which LGBTQ Canadians were dismissed from or forced to leave the Canadian Forces on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Ombudsman is then to issue a report with recommendations on a mechanism for former LGBTQ members of the Canadian Forces to have their records corrected to reflect the fact they had served honourably.
The motion also calls for the government to issue an official apology for this discriminatory treatment of Canadians who were deemed by the military not to be good enough to serve, and sacrifice their lives for their country. ■
To receive a copy of Motion M-517, please contact our office.
CONTACT US 304 - 741 Broadview Ave. Toronto, ON, M4K 3Y3 Phone: 416.405.8914 Fax: 416.405.8918 email@example.com www.craigscott.ndp.ca Twitter: @CraigScottNDP SIGN UP FOR EMAIL UPDATES
Pictured here with Madeleine who spent the day shadowing me as part of Rainbow Day on the Hill. This initiative gives LGBTQ students the opportunity to shadow an openly LGBTQ MP for the day in order to see what a positive impact they can have.
Visit www.craigscott.ndp.ca (select email updates from the top menu)
NDP LEADER TOM MULCAIR IN TORONTO-DANFORTH NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair received a warm reception on one of his visits to Toronto-Danforth. This photograph was taken on St. Patrick’s Day at the corner of Broadview Ave. and Danforth Ave. - just up the street from my constituency office (304-741 Broadview Ave.). We had a great time meeting constituents at Allen’s and Dora Keogh’s on the Danforth.
HOCKEY HELPS THE HOMELESS This past March, I participated in the annual Hockey Helps the Homeless Tournament with many of my NDP colleagues, coached by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. Here I am pictured with two of my colleagues: Romeo Saganash (who recently joined me in Toronto for an event discussing his experience negotiating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and Jean Rousseau.
Connecting Constituent Voices to Parliament
Every week I receive a number of throughful letters and emails from constituents offering their experiences and points of view from which I am constantly learning. When revelant, I reference their experiences in speeches before parliament. Here are three such examples: ON LYME DISEASE
On April 30, I delivered a speech in support of Bill C-442, An Act respecting a National Lyme Disease Strategy. New Democrats fully support this bill. Excerpts follow: From experience grows expertise. I can attest to that in many conversations with (my constituent) David Leggett. From experience, he has insights that almost no member of the medical profession could hope to bring to the table. I would like to share the stories of two more of my constituents by way of bringing that home. Alison says: I am one of your constituents, living in the Danforth area, who has been battling Lyme for the last 7.5 years. It took 5 years to receive a diagnosis, and now over 2 years of treatment to become more functionally stable. In 2011, I had to make the decision to go into massive medical debt in order to receive treatment - my Lyme literate doctor is located in New York. I really don’t want this to happen to any other Canadian. Lyme or no Lyme, all of us deserve medical care in our own country, and we deserve proper diagnostic tests and treatment..... I recently calculated how much money I’ve had to spend on medical care in the last 7 years, and the total came to approximately $42,000.... I want all MPs to know how incredibly expensive it is for Canadian Lyme patients to receive treatment. It never ceases to surprise me that I pay into a universal medical system
From experience grows expertise. I can attest to that in many conversations with my constituent David Leggett. He has insights on Lyme Disease almost no member of the medical profession could hope to bring to the table. (through taxes) that I have no access to. Dona also writes: I am a Toronto-Danforth resident who knows only too well of the devastating (physically, emotionally and financially) impacts that Lyme disease has on a person. I am also proof that there is a need for proper diagnosis and that extended treatment can be effective. I lost 5+ years of my life, and approximately $250,000, to the disease. I am (mostly) well again and have been very fortunate to have completed a successful return to work. ON SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS On June 6, I delivered a speech on Bill C-32, the so-called Victims Bill of Rights. My position, that more work needs to be done on deeper issues around victimhood than the bill addresses, is based on insights gained through working with my constituent Joan Howard, and Rev. Sky Starr, a grief therapist & trauma specialist working in the Jane/Finch community. Excerpts follow:
Youth Caucus Initiatives One of the joys of being part of the NDP Official Opposition caucus is having the opportunity to work with so many bright, young MPs. In 2011, around 25 of the NDP’s 102 MPs elected were under the age of 30. Here are just two examples of legislation before Parliament that have been put forward by members of the NDP Youth Caucus: •
Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-L’Île) introduced Bill C-584, which would establish an independent Ombudsman for the overseas operations of the extractive sector who will be able to uphold corporate accountability standards, investigate complaints, make findings public, recommend remedies, and also recommend sanctions. Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne-Blainville), NDP Critic for Digital Issues, has introduced Bill C-475 which aims to ensure that you will be informed if ever your personal information has been breached and put at risk. As well, it will put pressure on organizations to respect Canada’s privacy law and ensure they keep your data secure.■
Joan Howard lost a son over ten years ago, in 2003, to gun violence. He was shot dead with a handgun in the hallway of a building in TorontoDanforth. Kempton Howard, after whom a park is named in our riding, was a role model to countless teens, through his volunteer work in Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre’s Boys and Girls Club. He was a moderator of a junior leadership program, an after-school children’s program leader, a summer day camp counsellor, and a youth basketball coach. He was also a recipient of the Youth Ontario Volunteer Services Award. …More recently, we have joined together for a petition campaign that has been tabled on many occasions in the House. That petition asks the House of Commons to better understand that victims of crime, especially crimes of violence and crimes involving guns, include the loved ones of the direct victims… First, there is a need for sustainable funding for grassroots organizations and resources to help organizations find funding opportunities to actually help victims. Second, traumaspecific policies are needed to deal with the lack of trauma support that currently exists in communities. Third, the recognition of grief as a mental health issue has to be first and foremost a starting point. The grief and trauma that flows from gun violence, in many ways, is very particular and very long-lasting. I will end my comments by paying tribute to another member of my community, Jonathan Khan, who was shot dead on the Danforth with a gun. I attended his funeral in a synagogue in North Toronto only a few months ago, and
again had occasion to realize how easily lives are destroyed, not simply the lives of those killed but those who survive them. ON TRADE WITH HONDURAS On June 5, I delivered a speech on Bill C-20, concerning the free trade agreement between Canada and Honduras. Excerpts follow: I was a member of the Comisión de Verdad, one of the two truth commissions set up after the coup in 2009. I stepped down when I was elected to the House, but I have been following it ever since, including the report that the commission put out in October 2012, which I may refer to now and again. It is a country that not only has serious problems meeting the social and economic rights of its population, but it has become a very repressive state, even though there is the veneer of democracy since the coup and the subsequent election six months after the coup. ... The last person that I want to pay tribute to is Eva, who is a constituent in Toronto--Danforth. She was recently accepted as a refugee in Canada, having been shot multiple times while tending her small business in Tegucigalpa, by somebody dressed in plaIn clothes, but who all the neighbours identified as a policeman. ■
Find more speeches on my site: www.craigscott.ndp.ca/news/speeches
Must-See Film: The Change Agents Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Ottawa premiere of the film The Change Agents, co-hosted by my NDP colleague Alex Atamenenko and the Citizen’s Climate Lobby. The Change Agents was filmed in Nelson, British Columbia (within Alex’s riding of British Columbia-Southern Interior) and shows how a dedicated high school student mobilizes those around her to make a strong statement for the environment. Students were involved in all aspects of the film making process, both in front of and behind the camera. The film’s Writer and Director, Robyn Sheppard, used to live in Toronto-Danforth before moving out west to Nelson where she is the drama teacher at LV Rogers Secondary School. I highly recommend this film to all those interested in our riding. I was pleased to deliver a statement on the film in the House of Commons on June 11. I also provided the following quotation to assist in efforts to make this film more widely known:
“Out of young people’s despair over ecological destruction, The Change Agents generates hope we may yet act in time to step back from the edge of the cliff.” - Craig Scott, M.P.
Craig Scott, M.P.