A party divided: NDP split down the middle on Mulcair, future

Today in Edmonton, more than half of the delegates present at the Federal NDP convention voted in favour of a leadership change.

Embattled leader Thomas Mulcair wound up obtaining the support of only 48% of delegates, falling far short of the 70% support thought needed to keep his job. This is the first time in history the NDP have voted in favour of an immediate change in leadership.

The results of the Mulcair vote has only added to the murkiness surrounding the future of the party. The party was almost completely split down the middle in terms of opinion on Mulcair, and many contrasts on were heard throughout the convention as to what direction the party should be taking, in light of the disappointing results of the 2015 federal election campaign. Cleavages between the provincial Alberta NDP and the federal party concerning pipelines were widely reported on, and made for some interesting exchanges on the convention floor.

Yet despite the results of today, an interim leader may not be named. Mulcair has indicated that he desires to remain on as leader of the NDP until a new candidate is selected.

It is uncertain at this point how the divided party will react to Mulcair potentially staying on as leader. Given that the search for a new leader of the NDP may go on for as long as 24 months, the split NDP community may be less than enthusiastic to see Mulcair at the helm of their party for that long.



Promises made to Pontiac farmers should be honoured


As reported by CBC, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is apparently wavering on trade deal compensation promised to farmers by the previous administration.

A high-profile example of this compensation is $4.3 billion that was promised to dairy farmers as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, in exchange for an opening of 3.25% of the Canadian dairy market.

Money was also expected to flow right away as part of a Processor Modernization Program. A seven-year program was to provide Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg processors with support to increase competitiveness through capital investments and technical and management capacity.

Trudeau’s Liberals have signed the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, and appear poised to ratify it, based on recent comments from the Prime Minister.

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Justin Trudeau appears poised to ratify the TPP

However, missing from Budget 2016 was any mention of the promised compensation or process modernization funds for this deal. As far back as November 2015, immediately following the federal election, the Liberals stated that compensation for the TPP “was not a done deal”  and the Government now appears to be muddying the waters even further.

Across the country, the amount of farmers can vary significantly from riding to riding, with the largest concentration of farmers (unsurprisingly) located in rural constituencies. Any changes to the TPP compensation agreement (or any trade deal) promised to farmers is going to negatively impact rural areas moreso than their urban cousins, raising questions as to the Liberal commitment to rural Canada.

Ridings such as Pontiac, Qc that feature a notable presence of farmers, will ultimately suffer greater losses through this decision.

One can debate the pros and cons of supply management.  However, local elected representatives are supposed to represent their constituencies above all else, and it is in the best interest on Pontiac for farmers to receive the compensation they were promised as a part of any trade deal. I sincerely hope that public pressure convinces the Liberals to do the right thing for Pontiac.

Why Liberal MPs don’t deserve the raise they just gave themselves


They’re not even 6 months on the job yet, but the Trudeau Liberals are so impressed with themselves that a salary increase is in order.

The Liberal-dominated Board of Internal Economy (BOIE) has seen fit to provide all 338 Members of Parliament (along with 105 Senators) with a raise, bringing up the basic MP salary to $170,400 and the basic Senator salary to $145,400. Along with raises, office budgets for MPs were also increased substantially.

Previously, in the aftermath of the global economic crisis of 2007-2008, the then Conservative government legislated a freeze on parliamentarian salaries that continued for several years, in a gesture that was positively received by Canadians at large.

The Liberal raise was given despite the struggles of the resource sector, and despite a massive 30 billion deficit for this year – a Liberal deficit that is projected to continue indefinitely, adding more than 110 billion dollars of debt to Canada over 5 years.

There are serious questions about the priorities of this government when funds are readily available for MPs and Senator salaries (and almost anything else outside of defence), yet there isn’t money to live up to promises made to job creators or to continue supporting families.

The Liberals are keeping the small businesses tax rate at 10.5% instead of lowering it to the scheduled 9% – a scheduled policy that had near unanimous support from all political parties. The Liberals are also ending the small business hiring credit. These items entail that one of the largest group of employers in Canada is going to have less money to generate growth. However, Parliamentarians are still receiving raises.

The Liberals are ending the Children`s Fitness Tax Credit; the Children`s Art Tax Credit and also eliminated are tax credits for post-secondary education & textbooks. Income splitting for parents is also gone. However, Parliamentarians are still receiving raises.

A myriad of spending items were outlined in the Liberal’s inaugural Budget, causing the Government to break a key election promise to limit deficits to 10 billion dollars a year. Current deficits are so large that a freeze on parliamentarian salaries and office budgets would only amount to a drop in the bucket in terms of savings for the fiscal framework.  However, drops add up, and it would be a welcome gesture for the government to actually show solidarity with struggling Canadians they are supposed to represent. However, Parliamentarians are still receiving raises.

Parliamentarians earn salaries that far exceed those of the average Canadian. Being an MP (or a Senator) is a difficult job, fraught with uncertainty, and a high salary for the position is justifiable.  However, it sends an extremely poor message to Canadians when political leaders pay themselves before ensuring that the sustainability of our country is properly attended to . An indefinite freeze on MP/Senator salaries and office budgets should be in order until the books are balanced and our indefinite deficit is eliminated.  However, so long as the Liberals hold Government, it appears that Parliamentarians will still be receiving raises.