Tag Archives: Canada

Dear Candidates: Irene Mathyssen Responds

On Monday I posted that I would contact the local candidates in the Canadian Federal Election; Daniel McNeail responded on Monday (about an hour after I emailed him)

Irene Mathyssen responded today:

Dear Kevin,

Thank you very much for emailing. I appreciate constituents taking the time to contact me about the issues important to them.  As the MP, one of the things I pride myself on is taking the time to provide personal responses to constituents when they email or write to me.  An election does not change my commitment to constituents, and am pleased to be able to continue to answer constituents questions during the campaign.

First, let me respond to your question about “personal freedom”. I very much treasure the personal freedoms we have in Canada, and absolutely will stand in defense of those freedoms. Personal freedoms however come with personal responsibilities, something many people seem to forget all too quickly. When personal actions cross the line and cause harm to others, we must draw the line, personal freedom is then subject to restriction to protect the health and welfare of other citizens.

Many people are under the misunderstanding that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees “rights” that they feel they should have. In particular people have approached me thinking that they have “the right” to supercede property by-laws, or feel that they have the “right” to a driver’s license, for example. In the preamble of the Charter however, it is perfectly clear that all of our personal rights are subject to such restrictions as are reasonable in a free and democratic society.

On government transparency, I unequivocally believe we need far greater openess and transparency in our government.  I voted with the Conservatives in support of the “Accountability Act”, because although the legislation is far from perfect, it was a positive step toward a more transparent government.  Unfortunately, the reality is the Harper government has been less accountable or transparent than they promised to be.  Even as a Member of Parliament, my office has had to submit dozens of “Access to Information” (ATI) requests to have federal government information released to me. From policy decisions to government spending, I believe we have a long way to go toward an open, transparent, and accountable government.  I would invite you to visit: http://new.ndplondonfanshawe.ca/?p=495 to see some of the examples of abuse of public funds our NDP MPs discovered through ATI requests.

The NDP has a plan to move us toward great openess and accountability, developed by long time NDP leader Ed Broadbent.  I have attached a .PDF copy of this plan for you to review if you are interested.

In regard to Nuclear Power, the NDP believes that the Atomic Energy Commission must be kept under public control, not privatized. Nuclear technology is obviously something which, given the current geo-political climate, must be carefully overseen. New Democrats, however, also believe that nuclear energy is not a direction we should be pursuing in terms of Canada’s energy needs.  We have an existing “baseload” of nuclear power, but nuclear plants have never delivered the return on public investment which was promised.  Nuclear plant construction and maintenance has consistently  run over budget and over time deadlines.  Nuclear facility construction itself is also highly polluting, and we do not yet have a satisfactory means of dealing with nuclear waste. We believe it is unacceptable to simply store the waste and leave the disposal problem to future generations. That kind of short-term thinking has contributed significantly to the climate crisis we are facing today, and we cannot continue to ignore the long-term consequences of our actions. Instead, New Democrats believe Canadians would be better served by a diversified and decentralized energy network that includes a stable mix of hydro-electric, geothermal, solar, wind, and other sustainable, renewable, clean energy sources. Our Greener Communities, Green Canada plan includes retrofitting all federal government buildings (and providing direct support for provinces and municipalities to also participate) for energy efficiency, and a “Made In Canada” procurement and investment strategy that would ensure the solar, wind, and other technologies purchased by the government of Canada are manufactured in Canada–creating Canadian jobs! New Democrats believe in setting a good example through our actions, which is why we announced this week that our headquarters in Ottawa will be retrofitted with a “green roof”. You can read more about this undertaking at:

On culture, arts, and entertainment, the NDP has been very clear. First, we must reverse the recent Conservative cuts to arts and cultural programs. Quality of life is not simply a matter of profit and productivity, it is also about having the time and the means to enjoy music, theatre, film, and other art forms. Next, we must introduce modern copyright legislation, that protects both artists and consumers.  As a consumer, you should have every right to copy a CD you purchase to an MP3 player, or to back-up your DVD’s to your computer. At the same time, we must recognize that artists need to eat and have a roof over their heads. They deserve fair compensation for their work. A strong, publicly funded CBC is also a component of the NDP’s commitment to arts and entertainment. While the arts and entertainment community should be funded in part by private contributions of patrons, public funding for the arts should be reflective of the benefits to our society of maintaining a strong and independant Canadian culture. Our commitment to Canadian arts and entertainment was announced publicly this morning and the details are available at: http://www.ndp.ca/page/6933

Finally, you asked about unions and international trade. New Democrats believe in FAIR TRADE, not Free Trade. We believe that Canadian agreements with foreign governments on trade matters must include standards for fair labour practices, environmental standards, and human rights. For example, the Conservative government has been aggressively pursuing a “Free Trade” deal with South Korea. However, this so called “Free Trade” deal is a one way street, providing unlimited access to Canadian markets for cheap Korean products without ensuring Canadian goods have equal access to Korean markets. I have tabled 3 petitions in the House of Commons on behalf of thousands of London-Fanshawe constituents who signed petitions opposing the government’s continued pursuit of this Canada-Korea deal.  Earlier this year, NDP leader Jack Layton wrote to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama indicating our willingness to reopen and renegoiate NAFTA to ensure trade fairness for both countries.  For example, under current NAFTA rules, Canada must continue to supply the USA with a guaranteed percentage of our oil production every day–even if a supply shortfall or national crisis occurs in Canada. That’s not right, and we want to change it. This dialogue even attracted the attention of CNN in the USA, and Jack Layton appeared on the Lou Dobbs show on CNN to explain our “Fair Trade” position. You can watch this by visiting my website (www.irenemathyssen.ca) and clicking on the “Irene’s Video’s” button.  It is currently the third video from the top–but new videos are being added during the campaign, so you may have to scroll down to find it.

The New Democrats are the only political party in Canada with a unionized staff. In terms of unions, now more than ever, working people deserve the protection and benefits of unionized workplaces. I recognize that not all unions are created equal, and not all are as helpful and effective as they could be. Having said that, the truth is that unions are like democratic governments, the more the membership of a union participates in union meetings, elections, and activism, the better representation they tend to get from their union.  The same holds true for government, the more informed and actively engaged its citizens are, the more responsive and accountable our government will be.

I hope this fully answers your questions.  Please do not hesitate to write again at any time.

All the best,
Irene Mathyssen, MP
NDP Candidate, London-Fanshawe

– Show quoted text –

On Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 9:06 AM, Kevin Wardrop <nitemayr@gmail.com> wrote:

Good Day Mrs. Mathyssen,
I live in your riding and would like more information about your stance on Personal Freedom, Government Transparency, Nuclear Power, Culture and Entertainment, Unions and International Trade.
Thanks for your time,
Kevin Wardrop.

Irene Mathyssen Re-election Campaign
1700 Dundas St. Suite G
London ON, N5W 3C9

And My Response

Mrs. Mathyssen,

Thank-you for your nuanced and detailed responses.

They have given me a great deal to think about. Please accept my best wishes for your Re-Election campaign.

Kevin Wardrop

Wow, now that’s a detailed response.  This is a great deal more in-depth than Mr. O’Neail’s response but feels less personal; which one woud expect from an experienced politician.  I’m still much more in the “Green” category, as their views appear to coincide with mine and as always NDP always seems to be Liberal + Tory = Libertory Lite with some concilatory language to their traditional base the Unions.

I don’t think I’ll find a political soul mate on the nuclear matter though.

The last response will be from the Liberal Candidate, Jacquie Gauthie.

Dear Candidates, Please Contact me

This is my election district: London-Fanshawe; Londoners might refer to the majority of it as “The Scary East End” or som variation of it.  When I first came to London, I might have agreeed, having toured it while looking for a new home.  I settled here mostly out of necessity but have been constantly surprised and pleased by the hidden nature spots and “close to the countryside” living that I have found out here on the ragged-edge of the riding.

I used “The Undecided” to figure out which party I agreed with more in this election and was surprised to find out that the Greens were top of the list (mostly due to my paranoid desire to have Health Care funded at 100% with magical healing properties and Cancer Cures for all).  That aside, I contacted the Green Party Candidate in my Riding (Dan O’Neail) and asked for some information on his stances.  I think I may do the same for the candidates for the Liberals and NDP.  I won’t Vote Tory for any reason, no matter how great the local candidate is, if isn’t the party leader, one Candidate isn’t going to change a whole party.  I’m not required to give some sort of even-handed approach to this, I’ve never claimed to be totally open-minded.And let’s face it, I’m never going to vote for anyone who claims to represent “Christian Heritage”  I mean, seriously, “I take my lead from a 2000 year old Carpenter’s Son” that’s like advertising you really, really, really want to believe that local social problems can be solved through strong belief in Faries and Giants.

So, I’m going to ask the Liberal and NDP candidates the same question I asked Dan O’Neail:

Do you have a website where you discuss your platform?

I live in your riding and would like more information about your stance on Personal Freedom, Government Transparency, Nuclear Power, Culture and Entertainment, Unions and International Trade.

Thanks for your time,

Kevin Wardrop.

I’ll post the replies as they come in.

A Short Note about my previous attempts to speak with local government:

I’ve since deleted the email reply I received about “Recycling Containers”.  It was a brusque “You can find them in any hardware store”  which kind of blunted the question by being, well, blunt.  I decided this lack of candor would be met with total dismissal.

Perhaps this time, things will go well.

Reality is not Subjective, but don't let that stop you

If the “Near Dead Heat” election in the US can teach Non-Tory politicians anything, it’s that the facts don’t really matter to the electorate.  Anyone with a bit of sense can look at John McCain and say “cor, he looks old and he sounds a whole hell of a lot like Pres. Bush, I hate that guy!”

Let me elucidate, I know at least one HARD CORE Bush lover, by hard core, I mean he chose his friends using Love of Bush as a measure.  He HATED John McCain until about 2007,  when he suddenly gave up on his Bush Bro-mance and took on McCainiacism.  The justification being that he finally noticed how awesome John McCain was.

John McCain has always been John McCain, he’s only more OBVIOUSLY John McCain these days and that seems to translate into “Totally Awesome” in the mind of many of the electorate.  I do suspect that there is a good 15-20 percent “I’m not voting for a black guy” thing going on, which may have jumped to 25% after Palin was disgorged from the womb of Alaska, but a race this close doesn’t really make any sense.

Pres. Bush is polling somewhere in Reformed Child Molestor range; McCain is pretty much the Daddy of the party that birthed Bush, why do people believe that “more of the same” is really “change”?  Because the McCain camp simply says it is so.  Whatever the McCain camp says, they say it over and over and never waver, true or not.

That is the lesson the Non-Tory parties need to take; go hard, go again, and again and again.  Keep it simple like “Free Health Care and Education” and “Even Lower Taxes”  and so on.

Don’t bother with nuance or long term care, the majority of the electorate doesn’t look anywhere beyond Christmas in planning, why should the Election be about the future when all that matters to the electorate is how they are going to feed and clothe themselves next week.

The one where I compare the Loonie to the Obamie

The US economy is tanking; there is no doubt about it.  So why is the Canadian Dollar losing value against the greenback?

At 8:05 a.m. EDT, the Canadian unit was at C$1.0767 to the U.S. dollar, or 92.88 U.S. cents, down from C$1.0686 to the U.S. dollar, or 93.58 U.S. cents, at Tuesday’s close.


The Loonie
The Loonie

Compare that to this:

A Zogby poll on 20 August put Barack Obama five points behind his Republican rival, reversing the seven-point lead the pollster had given him the month before.

Senator McCain 71, now leads Senator Obama by a 46 per cent to 41 per cent margin, according to a latest poll released by Zogby International on Wednesday.

The Canadian Economy is far from faltering (but tottering on the edge) with Canada being a major exporter of Oil and other natural resources.  One wonders if perhaps the Tories have not done enough to nationalize the value of said resources?  As nominal conservatives; the idea must seem anathema to their ethos of spend and cut instead of tax and spend.  Then there is the whole idea of Canada getting involved in the US’s War on Terriers.  Canada isn’t a target for international terrorism, it’s hardly even a splash damage candidate, why get involved at all until the shooting is over and Canadian peacekeepers can “keep the peace”

Yet, here we are.  Canadians and Americans seem determined to vote in another series of Conservatives, and the eagerness of the timing of Harper’s (broken promise) election is eerily like a coordinated plan to make a solid bloc of Conservative governments in the West (the UK is heading for a Tory victory too) with the Russians getting poked with a sharp stick like they are, we are looking like a return to the Thatcher and Reagan era.

Are people really this stupid?

Obama is no savior, he’s barely (at least rhetorically) a left winger; he’s about 2 degrees from McCain rhetorically; but McCain is the servant of some very sinister paymasters, whereas Obama is more of a stooge for Capatalists.

Wondrously dangerous times indeed.

Look at this dispatch from America; and doubt that the conservative political machine has gone out of control:

The Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department has acquired an armored personnel carrier complete with a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun for its Special Response Team.

Sheriff Leon Lott told the Columbia State newspaper that he hoped the vehicle, named “The Peacemaker,” would let the bad guys know that his officers are serious.

“We don’t look at this as a killing machine,” Lott told the paper. “It’s going to keep the peace. We hope the fact that we have this is going to save lives. When something like this rolls up, it’s time to give up.”

The Peacemaker has a top speed of 30 mph.

You see the reasoning there; we have a giant gun and a tank and we are going to use them.  This is military hardware in the hands of the police as a response to the “out of control” levels of resistance they are experiencing.  Which is of course a fallacy; I haven’t seen a single report of anti-tank weapons used in police firefights (please correct me if I am wrong).

This is the country that is not going to elect Obama, not because he is black (which is probably why 25-35 percent of them won’t), not because he is a Democrat (25 percent of Americans still think Pres. Bush is doing a great job, they will vote for McCain if he eats a Jewish baby on stage, it’s best to just ignore them) the majority of the remaining 40-50 percent are scared.  They are scared of the future and think that the rhetoric of the people who have scared them for the past 8 years will come to pass and they will vote a nearly straight Republcian ticket and get the government they deserve.

The same is true for the Canadian dollar, the dollar is a strong alternative to the Greenback, but as Canada is tied so closely to the fate of the American Endeavor (through the strong economic and social ties that have been formed) The loony falls on the whims of the US rhetoric, which is as changeable as the wind and rooted in fear, not hope.

Canadian Politics are Boring: A Gleam of Exciting News

Exciting, being a relative term.  What makes me get all lathered up in anticipation may not exactly turn your dials to eleven.  In this case it’s the prospect that Steven Harper gets out the Trash Talk Thesaurus and lays it on the table in front of him, looking for synonyms of pansy.

“He is certainly the Liberal leader who’s taken his party furthest to the left, at least since [former prime minister] Pierre Trudeau,” Mr. Harper said in Inuvik.

“I think this is not a time to go back to Trudeau-style economic policies,” said the Conservative Leader, who invoked Mr. Trudeau’s name three times in unfavorable comparisons with Mr. Dion.
Harper uses Trudeau’s name to slam Dion

Who knew that Pierre Trudeau was an insult?  Almost universally beloved and the scion of a semi-independent Canada?  Nice.  Celine could only hope to be so beloved.  Pierre was a rock-n-roll Prime Minister if there ever was one and stood Canada out there on the International stage like the prize winning pig that it is.  Let’s hope that the Liberals can front a face as audacious and raucous.

The most common definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of shrinking economic output, but Mr. Harper said this wouldn’t worry him because it would only be a “technical recession,” while Canada’s outlook is strong.
–Stephen Harper on the looming global recession.

I’m still trying to find my way here in Canada; faced with the choice of working two jobs or cutting back spending to my post-college levels to get myself back on track.  There are luxuries that I simply can’t afford, like new shirts for work and gas, and I make a decent wage, well above that of some of my peers.  The Job market is terrible for somone with my skill set and it only seems to get worse as time goes on.  I guess the “fundamentals” are okay in the Tories eyes, profits at their friend’s businessess are up, right?

It’s startling to see how far the Canadian public is willing to let the Tory government get before they start to realize that the Cut Taxes and Spend method of Fiscal Conservatives always leads to trouble that the Liberals end up cleaning up.  Taxes always climb in the wake of the Conservative misadventures (see post-Vietnam, Post-Cold-War, Post Bush America for proof)  because the “Conservatives” only believe in spending and cutting taxes, not shoring up for the future.  They can’t even plan a full year in advance (look at the Tories previous push for “set” election dates and their current push for a fall election, a full year early).

It’s typical.


Dear Stephan Dion

Sic ’em

The Canadian government strongly opposed tougher U.S. rules to prevent listeria and lobbied the United States to accept Canada’s more lenient standards, internal documents reveal.

Briefing notes prepared by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for an April 7, 2006, meeting with the board of directors of the Canadian Meat Council outline how both industry and the Canadian government were frustrated with the increased precautions the United States was demanding.

Specifically, Canada opposed daily inspection visits and the testing of finished products for Listeria monocytogenes.

For your notes at home, The Harper Tories took over in February 6 2006.

Canadian Politics are Embarrassing: Dion is playing to lose

“What is a car pool?” he asked organizers, who enlightened him. “Oh, that’s good. I’m never alone in my car.”

Stephan Dion, stumped by the concept.  This IS 2008, the concept has been around for about 40 years.  Where has Celine been living all this time?

As I’ve said before Celine Dion is going to drag the Liberal party down in the next election; when he ‘blasts’ the Tories for cutting arts funding he says this:

“He (Harper) seems to not understand that we need to be stimulating those programs. We must encourage different arts and culture,” Dion told reporters at the We Are Many (WAM) festival in Diefenbaker Park. “The link between culture and the environment is the way of the future. We are entering a knowledge economy based on innovation and artists are those who bring the creativity and creation.”

Please, someone, get him a few Bill Hicks tapes or Bill Connolly or something, anything.  Teach him to breathe fire, get angry, dig deep and find righteous indignation!  Celine Dion is pretty much a dead weight and until someone can smack him around and make him into a firebrand for Liberal values, he’s going to lead the Party into irrelevance.

The Prime Minister’s Office has signalled that Canadians will likely be going to the polls this fall unless Liberal Leader Stephane Dion agrees in the next couple of weeks to support the Conservative government’s agenda

A telling statement.

It's hard to write about Canadian Politics

Some days, when I’m not writing about Miniature Popes and Singing Peas I look at the Google News Page for inspiration;  I’d like to write more about Canadian Politics but it’s far too dull and I simly can’t get excited about it.

For Example:  Dion sensing mood for an election

I hoped initially that this was going to be about Celine Dion and quietly replaced all of the references to Stephan to Celine in my head; thus:

OTTAWA–Canadians are increasingly in the mood for a federal election this fall, says Singer Celine Dion.

“More than before,” Celine Dion said yesterday when asked what he was hearing on the road about voters’ desire to go to the polls. “We have seen over the winter and the spring, more and more interest for federal politics and more and more appetite for an election.”

But it may be another election – the U.S. presidential contest – that will also help the Liberals in any electoral battle here, Celine Dion says.

Now we’re getting somewhere; you can actually imagine that animate skelton crooning these lines out on stage, butchering the English language while she belts it out.   That would make the whole idea of anyone named “Dion” running for Prime Minister that much more exciting.  He’s just not that much of a character.  Which is a detriment in politics (if one was to ask me).

Stephen Harper angries up my blood when he ISN’T the prime minister because he gets to say and do outrageous crap.  As Prime Minister, he has his cabinet to do that for him.  Sure, he has a shocking lack of humanity and the look of a “true believer” that is equal parts unnerving and creepy; but let’s face it being in the public eye has really mellowed him.  He’s no George Bush Jr. He’s George Bush Juniors monkey.

Hot Drink?

Hot Drink?

It was damned hot in Kincardine while we visited. I spent most days with a sopping wet head and a t-shirt to match. It was so hot that I chose not to try on a new shirt for a wedding… I didn’t want to ruin the shirt for someone else.

It was really nice holiday and while I was anxious to get back to my own house and bed, I’m not about to say that a two year wait until the next visit isn’t a long time.

We Made it Back!

Click Here to see the sunset, well, see one of them

We made it back in one piece, more or less. Now the march towards Xmas begins!

I took a large number of pix while in Ontario, 86 of which made it back with me on my Camera, and a bunch more in person.

After some frantic searching this afternoon, I found the cables for my Camera and saved the images to my computer. I’ve uploaded the best sunset pic (until I fix the panorama that is) the link is above.

I’ll have to say thanks to my Mum and Dad again and again until I’m sure they are clear as to how much fun I had on this trip, no touristy stuff, no touring the sights, just hanging out with my ‘rents. After such a long time away, just hanging out is the best vacation.

We walked along the beach with the kids a few times, Elizabeth really loved it when she got to splash along the shoreline, that was the highlight of the vacation for her I think.

Jenny got to spend a great deal of time with her Family, which of course, ruined my plans, but c’est la vie.

Otherwise, this was the best vacation I’ve been on in about 7 years, bar none.

I could, however, travel with a better airline next time.