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Craig Scott, M.P. Toronto-Danforth
Craig launches an online citizen engagement platform Dear Friends, I am pleased to let you know about the recent launch of New Democracy, an online citizen engagement platform on my MP website. From local issues to democratic reform, this platform features a series of topics on which you can provide your ideas and feedback. You can even suggest topic questions you would like to see discussed. New Democracy is based on the premise that in a 21st Century democracy, our democratic processes need to be more and more about collaborative problem-solving that involves the knowledge of citizens interacting directly with elected representatives. This was my view prior to seeking election as MP for Toronto-Danforth, and this conviction has only grown stronger. Connecting local, citizen knowledge to the institutions of government can only strengthen Canada.
SOME TOPICS BEING DISCUSSED RIGHT NOW ON NEW DEMOCRACY • • • •
Voting reform Canada Post cuts Climate change GMOs
So please join me online and help explore the potential of e-engagement. I want to hear your ideas and insights. Join the conversation at newdemocracy.craigscott.ndp.ca. The pilot project extends to the end of April - after which I will take stock on lessons learned.
Join the conversation with Craig Scott online: newdemocracy.craigscott.ndp.ca
Craig’s update: The Unfair Elections Act is a Con Game Month after month since October 2012, I have stood, as the NDP Democratic Reform Critic, in the House of Commons calling on the Conservatives to take action on election fraud and strengthen the powers of Elections Canada. Last month, the Conservatives finally tabled their response: Bill C-23, the so called “Fair” Elections Act. This legislation will make it tougher for Canadians to vote and easier for wellconnected insiders to play money politics. It presents a serious threat to democracy already under siege after 8 years of Harper governments. THE UNFAIR ELECTIONS ACT IS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED The Unfair Elections Act introduces new restrictions that will make it harder for certain groups of Canadians to vote – especially Aboriginal peoples, the homeless, students living away from home, and seniors. It stops Elections Canada from encouraging people to vote by killing its pilot projects to increase voter turnout in some First Nations communities, on university campuses, in seniors’ residences and in longterm care homes. It will also end Elections Canada’s public education campaigns like Democracy Week and the Student Vote Program. This amounts to the kind of voter suppression that reminds us of what we’ve seen in American politics – and my New Democrat colleagues and I are doing everything we can to stop it.
The Conservatives say they are concerned with fraud, but they turn the focus for fraud eradication topsy turvy -- the focus is being shifted from everything we know about fraud that involves the Conservative Party (from the ‘in and out’ money laundering scheme in the 2006 election to the fraudulent robocalls in the 2011 election) to this bill which treats ordinary Canadians as if they are the source of fraud threats. The Conservatives say they are adding tools to fight electoral fraud when they are ultimately making it more difficult to investigate fraud. Bill C-23 withholds key reforms everyone of good faith knew were needed to find the truth in situations such as the use (by as yet unknown persons) of the Conservative Party’s database to engage in fraudulent phone calling across Canada in an effort to prevent non-Conservative voters from getting to their polls during the 2011 election.
debate. They want to see their proposed law passed before Canadians realize what they are doing. In Parliament, I am leading the NDP’s efforts on this bill. The NDP also tabled a motion asking for country-wide hearings on the bill. I encourage you to follow my work on this bill, including speeches, questions to the Minister, op-eds & media interviews on my website: craigscott.ndp.ca/news/ democratic-reform ■
Sign the petition against Bill C-23: petition.ndp.ca/stand-up-for-canadiandemocracy
The Conservatives also claim they are somehow getting “big money” out of elections when they are actually structuring a money politics through C-23 that is designed to benefit the Conservative Party in 2015 and beyond. PUSHING BACK & STANDING UP FOR CANADIAN DEMOCRACY At the time of writing, the Conservatives are trying to rush this lengthy 240-page bill through Parliament as fast as possible. It was tabled one day and debate forced to begin the very next day. The Conservatives also used time allocation to shut down
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Retirement Security for all New Democrats are working to protect your pensions and make sure all seniors can retire with security and in dignity. We are proposing the following measures:
workplace pensions or benefits [andrewcash. ca/tag/urban-worker]...At the rate we are going, 60% of current youth will retire with a drop in their standard of living.
I had a note from a couple in my riding, Bill and Jean. They included this in a letter that was about something else because they felt this was so important. They said we need to “increase the financial security of retirees and that CPP should look after retirees since we do see seniors not having enough CPP eligibility while they are in the workforce. Therefore, CPP should boost coverage a bit.”
Boost Canada Pension Plan benefits, Increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to lift low-income seniors out of poverty, Reverse changes to Old Age Security (OAS) by restoring the retirement age to 65 instead of 67, Protect workers’ pensions when a company is facing bankruptcy, leaving the country, sold, or undergoing corporate restructuring.
SPEECH ON RETIREMENT SECURITY On December 10th, I delivered a speech in Parliament in support of an NDP Opposition Day Motion (full day of debate in Parliament) calling for the government to increase CPP benefits. Some extracts follow: It is also important to know that the provinces and the territories see this as a pressing matter. It is not coming out of the blue. This is, at some level, about collaborative federalism... And, it is not just the provinces. For example, those who do seem to know their economics, the CEO of CIBC and the former chief actuary of the CPP, have indicated that this is not only a good idea, but fully feasible. Let me now turn to the question I mentioned at the outset, that of need. We are living in an era of increasingly precarious work. Here I salute my colleague from Davenport who has been putting this at the forefront of a lot of his work in Toronto to get a better deal for urban workers, those with no access to a
It is important to note that the whole question of period of time in, and lateness into, the workforce is something especially experienced by women in our society. I will not go into detail because everyone here understands that. It is made even worse by something that was brought to my attention by a constituent at my recent holiday party. We spoke for a good 5 to 10 minutes on this. She talked to me about ageism in the work world and how, increasingly, it is difficult to find jobs when people lose their jobs in their late forties or early fifties. That has knockon effects for their ability to collect CPP. We have to understand what the average citizen is experiencing, the stress in their lives and work lives. They know the challenges they are facing and that they need some kind of help from the Parliament of Canada ■
I want to hear from you! Continue the conversation: newdemocracy.craigscott.ndp.ca
Kudos for Tom Mulcair NDP Leader earns praise for holding Harper to account NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has been showing up to work on behalf of Canadians, holding Stephen Harper accountable and putting forward practical solutions to help Canadians. Tom’s towering presence in Parliament was a highlight for me of the Fall 2013 session. Here is some of the kudos he has earned. “It was Mulcair—not Trudeau—who made the House of Commons meaningful again in 2013. His dramatic courtroom-style interrogation of the prime minister— featuring short, succinct questions instead of long-winded lectures—was highly effective. It was a change long overdue.” –Lawrence Martin, iPolitics (Dec. 12, 2013) I think that Tom Mulcair is the best Opposition leader since I was around, and he’s been very effective in the House. – Joe Clark, Global, November 10, 2013 I would say today that the person in control was the Leader of the Opposition and not the Prime Minister, and that’s very rare in the history of Stephen Harper. – Chantal Hébert, CBC At Issue, October 24th, 2013 And I have to say, over the last few weeks this is one of the great parliamentary performances I think I have seen in decades, from Tom Mulcair. This is the way question period is supposed to work. He is doing a service by continuing to ask these questions to the Prime Minister. –Andrew Coyne, CBC At Issue, November 7, 2013 It’s been pure gold for the leader of the official opposition. Mulcair has found a new direct, relaxed and sometimes even mocking way of handling question period, laughing back at a prime minister who never laughs at all. That is very appealing to the public and very impressive in the House… It’s a trapdoor for the Tories and a springboard for Mr. Mulcair. – Rex Murphy, CBC The National, November 1, 2013. Tom Mulcair was not just as good as he’s been, he was better than he’s ever been, and better than we’ve seen in a long time in the House. So, as the days unfold going
forward, we’re going to be seeing a very interesting and high-level, high-quality debate in the House of Commons, I think. – Bruce Anderson, At Issue, October 24th, 2013 ■
Working to Build a Clean and Sustainable Canada In a recent interview on CBC’s The Current, I named tackling climate change as the most important issue for 2014. Future generations are counting on our actions today. Here is a brief update on the work my NDP colleagues and I have been doing to push the federal government to take a leadership role in building a clean and sustainable Canada.
“In a recent interview on CBC’s The Current, I named tackling climate change as the most important issue for 2014. Future generations are counting on our actions today.”
NEWS FROM THE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE I am working closely with my colleague Megan Leslie, Official Opposition Critic for the Environment, to pressure the government to take action to protect our environment. Megan has introduced Bill C-224, which would ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change. At the Standing Committee for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Megan has been laying out practical ways for the Environment Committee to prioritize the protection of Canada’s land, air and water in the coming months. NDP proposals include studying the impact of the Conservatives’ repeal of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and an invitation to the Minister of the Environment to outline the government’s long-term objectives and progress on reducing environmental liabilities for the Canadian treasury as a consequence of
corporations and government itself leaving pollution legacies. NDP PLAN FOR A PROPEROUS AND SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FUTURE NDP Leader Tom Mulcair delivered an important speech to the Economic Club of Canada last December which laid out the NDP vision to protect the environment and prepare Canada for the clean economy of tomorrow. It was based on the following key principles: •
Sustainability, to make sure that polluters pay for the pollution they create instead of leaving those costs to the next generation. Partnership, to make sure that communities, provinces and First Nations all benefit from resource development and that we create good, value-added jobs here in Canada. And, future prosperity, which leverages
our natural resource wealth to invest in modern, clean energy technology that will keep Canada on the cutting edge of sustainable energy development and ensure affordable energy rates into the future. CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT THE DON Canada’s fresh water resouces need to be protected for future generations. But under Stephen Harper, the opposite is happening. Instead of protecting our lakes and rivers, Conservatives have weakened environmental assessments, stripped federal protection under the Navigable Waters Protection Act from most of our lakes and rivers and gutted the Fisheries Act, deleting habitat protection from this longstanding piece of environmental legislation. The NDP is determined to do everything in our power to protect Canada’s lakes and rivers-- and that includes Toronto’s Don River. I have introduced Bill C-506 to restore federal protection to the Don River. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to join many in our community who have signed my petition in support of this bill: www.craigscott.ndp.ca/ petition-protect-the-don-river ■
I want to hear from you! Continue the conversation: newdemocracy.craigscott.ndp.ca
The campaign to promote the Kempton’s Legacy petition to support victims of gun violence is still going strong. The petition is named in memory of Kempton Howard, an inspiring young leader who was senselessly murdered by gunfire in Toronto-Danforth in 2003. Last December, Kempton’s mother Joan Howard joined me in Ottawa for a press conference and teach-in for MPs to highlight the importance of support for victims. Joan spoke along with Rev. Sky Starr, Founder and Executive Director of Out of Bounds Grief Support, in the Jane-Finch Community, and Dr Annette Bailey, a Professor at Ryerson University whose research examines traumatic stress and resilience among survivors of homicide loss. Watch the full press conference and learn more: craigscott.ndp.ca/Kempton
Craig Scott, M.P.
1 I joined Councillor Paula Fletcher along with Joanne Murphy and Belynda Blyth from Friends of
Greenwood Park at the opening ceremony for the new Greenwood Park Ice Rink (150 Greenwood Ave). This is the first covered outdoor rink in Toronto and has a 215-metre-long skating path for leisure skating. 2 On Christmas Day with Councillor Mary Fragedakis and community members at the 31st annual East York Senior’s Christmas Dinner. Thanks to the TTC, TDSB, Parks & Recreation staff & dozens of local volunteers for making this year’s dinner possible. 3 With my Toronto colleagues Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) and Mike Sullivan (York South - Weston) along with many passionate affordable housing advocates from Toronto at a rally on Parliament Hill in support of the Close the Housing Gap campaign. 4 Handing out red packets to celebrate the Year of the Horse with community members at the annual celebration at Gerrard Square Mall. What a tremendous turn-out! 5 With staff and board members from Food Share Toronto on the roof of Eastdale Collegiate (701 Gerrard St. E.) which houses a fantastic urban garden and education centre. It is the largest schoolbased project of its kind in the city.
More pictures can be found on my website www.craigscott.ndp.ca/photos
New Democrats oppose cuts to our postal service My New Democrat colleagues and I oppose the move by Canada Post and the Conservatives to take an axe to our long-treasured postal service – killing good jobs, eliminating home delivery, cutting rural post office hours and increasing postage rates. Instead of looking for ways to modernize operations, the Conservatives have resorted to alarmist scenarios about our postal service. When questioned, Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan explained, “I’d say the important thing for Canadians is that we continue to have postal service.” The Minister failed to mention that Canada Post has been profitable for 16 of the last 17 years. During that period, it accumulated $1.7 billion in profits. In fact, the only year it showed a loss was 2011, when the Conservatives locked out Canada Post workers, shutting down operations. No other options were proposed by the Conservatives and Canada Post. They refuse to fully investigate ways in which the crown corporation can generate new revenues through innovations like e-commerce and financial services which have shown merit in many countries around the world. Indeed, access to information requests appear to show Canada Post had a major internal study showing the viabil-
ity of postal banking - but hid these findings. New Democrats believe that we should look to our G7 partners which still provide door-to-door delivery in urban areas as they make an excellent business case for Canada. Postal banking can provide services and meet needs not met by the traditional banking sector. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, approximately one million Canadians do not have banking services. They rely on payday loan companies such as Money Mart to access funds and are paying enormously high interest rates. France’s La Banque Postale, New Zealand’s Kiwibank and Switzerland’s PostFinance all provide banking services and thus increase their revenue - and indeed profits. Why can’t Canada Post consider doing the same? Using banking as an alternative revenue generator would mean competitive new banking services for Canadians, giving diversity of choice and reaching people who fall through the cracks. At the same time, it would generate stable revenue that would boost and strengthen Canada Post. Canadians deserve better than a Conservative government that refuses to consult and time and again claims the only solution is ideologically driven cuts to services Canadians rely on ■
And I support our postal service. ndp.ca/canadapost
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My Office is here to help! As your Member of Parliament, my team and I are working hard to serve our community. Below is a resource for those in our community who are looking for information on federal topics relevant to their lives.
CANADA PENSION PLAN & OLD AGE SECURITY
CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
TAXES AND CHILD TAX BENEFIT
Contact Service Canada for general information on benefits and payment.
Information regarding sponsorships, citizenship applications, permanent residency, temporary visitor and work visas.
Contact the Canada Revenue Agency for information on taxes and tax benefits.
Important: If you are a senior, and you have qualified for OAS and GIS, please ensure you file your Income Tax Return on time, as it will reduce the chance of delaying or cancelling your GIS.
Important: Please keep your Record of Landing, and all of your passports. They will be needed when you apply for benefits like OAS that depend on counting the number of years lived in Canada.
Important: In March & April, my office offers free tax preparation clinics for constituents. Services are available to individuals and families with gross income under $30,000. For dates and more information: craigscott.ndp.ca/events
LOOKING FOR OR OFFERING A JOB
Information on how to apply for, renew or replace your passport
Contact Service Canada for more information on the types of Employment Insurance benefits available and on how to apply.
The federal government’s job bank website seeks to help workers and employers connect. It offers employment listings for job seekers, including an improved job bank for students and youth seeking employment. Employers can post job opportunities.
For urgent travel, you may be able to apply for an expedited passport with proof of travel. Contact Passport Canada for more information.
Important: To avoid delays, please apply for Employment Insurance as soon as you stop working.
Member of Parliament Toronto-Danforth
WORKING FOR YOU My community office is centrally located at:
CANADA STUDENT LOANS
CANADA BORDER SERVICES AGENCY
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CANADA
If you are thinking about pursuing post-secondary education or returning to school, contact the National Student Loan service for more information. They can also provide information about loan repayment assistance programs
Information on border crossing wait times, entry requirements and other travel tips. You can also follow the CBSA on Twitter to receive updates on border wait times across Canada.
If you’re facing an emergency situation overseas, you can call Foreign Affairs’ Emergency Watch and Response Centre at any time, toll-free, from 50 countries. See the full list at the link below.
www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/bwt-taf/ menu-eng.html 1-800-461-9999 twitter: @CBSA_BWT
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Congratulations to Toronto-Danforth Award Winners
1 With Toronto-Danforth playwright Nicholas Billon (left) and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. Billon was awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award - Drama for Fault Lines, a collection
of three plays: Greenland, Iceland and Faroe Islands. These plays take a unique and dramatic look at climate change and have been produced at the Stratford Festival, Soulpepper Theatre, the Canadian Stage and the Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui. Billon was also featured recently as Now Magazine’s cover story. 2 With Vernon Kee, recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence for his innovative approach to teaching at Danforth Collegiate Technical Institute. “Ask Kee anything” is what students affectionately call an online system designed by Vernon Kee to field questions, concerns or issues about his classes. Kee also has taken a leadership role on a number of other innovative projects, including setting up a program called Cyberpals through Toronto Intergenerational Partnerships to allow students to assist seniors in using the internet. 3 Toronto-Danforth youth Ali Chatur (centre) was named youth winner of Samara’s Everyday Political Citizen contest. Samara is a national organization dedicated to promoting political participation amongst Canadians. Still in high school, Ali is a remarkable young man and I was proud to nominate him for this award in recognition of his commitment to volunteer work in our community, youth engagement in politics and a more just world.
Craig Scott, M.P.