POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #10: Conservatives attack charities, let tax cheats off the hook

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandals, out of touch with challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #10:  Conservatives attack charities, let tax cheats off the hook

Instead of going after tax havens and tax cheats, the Conservatives have decided that a better priority for the Canada Revenue Agency is to attack environmental and civil society groups.

They even set up a $13.4 million “special fund” just to audit charities’ political activities – and they’ve been busy: even a small group of birdwatchers in Kitchener-Waterloo couldn’t escape their scrutiny when they got a letter warning about “political material” related to bee colony collapse on their website.

Meanwhile, years of massive budget cuts in every other part of the CRA have come home to roost. From corruption charges, to tax havens, privacy breaches and uncollected tax debt, under the Conservatives, the CRA just can’t keep up:

  • Uncollected tax debt has risen by approximately 60% since the Conservatives took power in 2006, it is now estimated to be a whopping $32 billion;
  • Assistance for taxpayers and businesses was cut by over $100 million in one year alone;
  • Senior auditors have been axed, departments gutted and the reporting compliance division is short-staffed by 599 positions;
  • Of the cases that the CRA actually manages to put together against tax cheats, only 56% actually get a full-scale investigation.

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #11: The Conservatives Hide from Accountability in Question Period

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandal, out of touch with the challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #11: The Conservatives Hide from Accountability in Question Period

Canadians have been highly critical of the government’s daily spectacle during Question Period.

The Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary, Paul Calandra, for example, has become notorious for his empty, off-topic responses to legitimate questions. For example, for weeks Calandra evaded relevant questions from the Opposition, choosing instead to discuss his family pizzeria and his love for ice-cold lemonade! 

In order to promote transparency and accountability, the NDP proposed to modify the Standing Orders of the House Commons so that ministers are actually required to give relevant answers to questions, and to force the government to come clean to Canadians. 

One of the true low points for the Conservatives this year was their decision to reject this reasonable proposal, and openly express their view that Canadians don’t deserve clear answers to legitimate questions on crucial issues, such as our military mission in Iraq. 

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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Statement by the Official Opposition on Stephen Harper’s refusal to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women

Official Opposition Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder (Nanaimo – Cowichan) and Status of Women critic Niki Ashton (Churchill) made the following statement on Stephen Harper’s stubborn refusal to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women:

“In a recent year-end interview, the Prime Minister once again closed the door on an inquiry into the 1,200 Indigenous women that have gone missing or been murdered over the last 30 years. In doing so, he also sent a clear message to Aboriginal people that their concerns are not a priority for this government. 

“The Prime Minister’s comment, that an inquiry “isn’t high on our radar to be honest”, was callous. What will it take to convince this government that something must be done? What is their reason for ignoring the voices of thousands, including Rinelle Harper, the young victim of a brutal attack this fall?” 

“In Canada, Aboriginal women are seven times more likely to be murdered than non-Aboriginal women. This is unacceptable, and the Prime Minister needs to accept that this violence is systemic and we need to deal with the root causes.

“I would ask that the Prime Minister to listen to the families of the Missing and Murdered, to First Nations and Aboriginal leaders, to provincial and municipal governments and do right by announcing an Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

 “Too many lives have already been lost, and too many continue to be at stake. It’s time for action and that includes an Inquiry.”

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The big blue propaganda machine

The NDP is denouncing the Conservatives for their use of tax payer money to finance a propaganda machine and mislead Canadians.

“This big blue propaganda machine is scandalous,” said NDP Ethics critic Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay). “This government has no problem misleading Canadians by publishing content that looks like news, but cutting access to information for journalists in Canada,”

According to media reports, the Conservatives will spend $1.25 million to publish pre-packaged newspaper stories. The so-called News Canada agency even offers journalists with chances to win $500 Via Rail Vouchers if their media outlet used Conservative-approved articles.

“More than ever, we need transparent and independent oversight of government advertising,” said Angus. “Let’s not forget that over the past five years, they already spent half a billion dollars of our money in ads.”

 

http://www.newscanada.com/contest

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POLITICAL LOWLIGHTS OF 2014 – #12: Stephen Harper Attacks the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice

In 2014, we saw a Conservative government plagued by scandals, out of touch with challenges facing Canadians and preoccupied with photo-ops and their own partisan interests. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fail to hold Conservatives to account and, after two years, we still have no idea where they stand on key issues.

A year’s worth of scandals and ineptitude condensed into our annual list of the top political lowlights of the year… LOWLIGHT #12: Stephen Harper Attacks the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice

Any time an institution doesn’t share the Prime Minister’s point of view, he attempts to discredit it. The list is long, and includes the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the CBC.

But last May, the Prime Minister reached a new level of hypocrisy when he attacked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Beverley McLachlin.

Displeased with the Court’s decision to reject his nomination of Judge Marc Nadon and several Conservative laws, the Prime Minister accused the Chief Justice of violating the principle of the separation of powers by trying to warn that Marc Nadon was ineligible to represent Quebec on the Supreme Court. 

Outrage over Harper’s malicious attack on the Chief Justice wasn’t far behind: the Council of Canadian Law Deans called the remarks an “unprecedented attack on one of the most important institutions of Canada’s constitutional democracy.” Columnist Yves Boisvert called his attempts at intimidation “repugnant” and “pathetic” (La Presse, May 5, 2014). Even former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney chastised Stephen Harper, saying this attack against the Chief Justice “sent the wrong message”.

Of course, the responsibility for Judge Nadon’s bungled appointment rests squarely on the Prime Minister’s shoulders. Instead of attacking the Chief Justice, he should have learnt his lesson and set up a real consultation process for Supreme Court nominations with full respect for Parliament and the provinces, as he promised to do.

Canadians deserve better. And after nine years of Stephen Harper, Canadians just can’t afford to wait for Justin Trudeau to get ready.

Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats can be trusted to hold Conservatives to account while fighting for families and proposing common sense solutions for issues they are facing every day.

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