Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Liberals Helping Women Make Their Mark!

On Thursday, July 17th, approximately 100 Liberals from all over came out to the National Women’s Liberal Commission (NWLC) event “Make Your Mark” in Toronto to celebrate our federal candidates, engage young women, and discuss how we can all work hard to make sure that women have an equal voice in politics. It was a great night of fun as well as serious discussion. I wasn’t the only blogger there either, as Jason Cherniak and Will Norman (Liberal Bag) came to show their support as well (see photos below).

Importantly, many federal Liberal candidates were also in attendance, including the guest speaker, Critic for Status of Women, Maria Minna. She reminded us of the absolute necessity of throwing out Stephen Harper who’s taken us back decades on women’s issues. Canada lags far behind the rest of the Western world in terms of female representation in federal politics and that it’s well past time for women to have equal representation in the House of Commons so that their voices can be heard loud and clear. Thankfully, Stephane Dion and the Liberals firmly committed to bringing gender equality to the House of Commons and so far is more than exceeding his commitment to run at least one-third female candidates in the next election.

The NWLC also raised money through this event to go to their organization and they showcased their awesome new merchandise and their campaigns designed to encourage more women to run for office. The NWLC remains absolutely crucial to ensuring that women make their mark in the party and in the House of Commons. The fact that the Conservatives don’t have such a commission (not to mention not having a youth commission either) just shows how little they care about gender equality.

The night’s events also saw the promotion of the OWLC Liberal female youth mentorship program that I’ve spent a lot of time organizing as OWLC VP Young Women (if you wonder why blogging has been slow of late that is at least part of the reason – hopefully I’ll have more blogging time this week). The mentorship program pairs up established female Liberals (e.g., MPs, Senators, Liberal women’s club Presidents, and senior young Liberals) with younger women between the age of 14 to 30. The program has been met with great success thus far and I hope this is one way we are building the next generation of strong women in the party.

It’s only a matter of time before Liberals together are going to break the glass ceiling and shatter it into a million pieces so that it can never be built up again.

Pictures from the Night's Events....

OYL Communications Director Zac Spicer and LPC(O) Central Region President Jason Cherniak - Facebook bff's!

NWLC Commissions Assistant Monika Drobnicki (the night's MC and the event's organizer)

Unknown Liberal and OYL Eastern region coordinator Krista Balsom who drove 5 hours to model the new t-shirts

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Bombardier Goes Green with Accolades - But Are We Content to be Just Hot Air?

I've been watching some news clips today on TV - each time a reporter tells of the Bombardier going Green story, a smile as huge as arainbow appears across their face. Themes of this story arethat it is good news for Canada and its economy, as companies will buy this plane to do their share for the environment; and that this is good news for the world as we fight climate change.

Many news stories are bragging about how Bombardier, a Canadiancompany building this plane in Canada, is leading the world on thisfront. This seems like a wonderful idea, that we are willing to leadthe world on - we're willing to be the first, help the environment, and by being first, we're going to be rewarded with contracts. Good for Bombardier, I congratulate them.

Well if we are willing to lead the world with this, some people (orparties) clearly aren't willing to take this initiative further andbring forth similar benefits. Yet the Bombardier story s exactly the type of thing that Dion's Green Shift is trying to do. We can't wait for the actions of others, Canada can lead the environment front and the Green Shift gets the job done by encouraging companies to be more environmentally responsible.

Airplanes aren't the be all and end all, they are only a start. If we, or some people, including reporters, think they are, they ough tto think more about what Dion's Green Shift will do for Canada's reputation, the world's environment and our economy and how it will encourage other businesses to follow the lead of Bombardier. The Green Shift will make stories like this one (that reporters are raving about) a regular occurrence. Now isn't that what we want? Why can't reporters show some more enthusiasm for something that's going to make that happen?

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Congratulations Brigitte Legault!

Now that I’ve got my thoughts on other matters that happened this week off my chest, I thought I’d focus on some much brighter news that brought a smile to my face and I’m sure that of many others. I’ve never met Brigitte personally, but friends of mine have worked closely with her in the past and every single one of them speaks so highly of her that I’m certain this nomination was long overdue. If you look up Brigitte online you’d find that she’s someone who’s worked hard in the party and is even highly respected by members of other parties. She’s built her way up as President of the Young Liberals of Quebec to being to a campaign co-chair to being VP Francophone of the Liberal Party of Canada and by all accounts done a fantastic job at each step. There's no question she's a rising star. And she’s running in the same riding that I believe Michael Fortier has picked so she’ll be the perfect person to send the unelected minister packing and take this riding back from the Bloc!

I’m always happy to see well-liked and hard-working people like Brigitte be rewarded for their dedication, but I’m also pleased because this is another example of the Liberal Party putting its faith in the brightest youth in the party. We need more talented youth in the House of Commons and while Briggite Legault may be only 28 I’m sure she’ll do an even better job than many members there who are 48 or 68!

A pet issue of mine has also been to encourage more female youth in particular to step forward for party positions and public nominations (and I’ve been working the past few months on an initiative that strives to promote precisely that). We’ve seen many men in their twenties elected to the House of Commons, such as Jean Charest, James Moore and Navdeep Bains, but have any women every been elected as an MP under the age of 30? Even if there has, we need more such bright young minds like Brigitte to come forward and show that they can be a force to be reckoned with!

But if in fact there never has been a female MP under 30, I’m sure I’m far from the only one hoping Brigitte will be the first.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Canada’s Reputation Cannot Afford Another Year of Harper at the Helm

This week was another black eye for Canada on the world stage. On foreign aid, the environment and human rights it’s clear that Stephen Harper is charting a path even more right-wing than the current Republican Presidential candidate, who as I’ve said before, is extremely Conservative himself. As Harper continues to isolate Canada further from the rest of the world on the key issues of the 21st century, and as he follows in the mold of a President despised everywhere except in the Conservative Party caucus, I’m sure this is just one more week where more Canadians have to come to realize that Harper is far off-side from our values and is taking Canada down a path we don’t want it to go.

Harper’s had many chances to redeem himself, to chart a better course, to realize that it’s time to stop being one of the lone voices against 2020 emissions targets, time to stop being the ONLY Western country supporting Guantanamo Bay at a time when each Presidential candidate says they’ll close it, and time to realize Africa needs our help more than ever and that it’s not time to walk away as we have been. However, each time an opportunity comes to change his ways Harper has failed, each time he ventures overseas it’s a new disappointment and a new round of global condemnations. Is it any wonder now Harper believes that Portugal will beat us for a Security Council seat that just 3 years ago Canada seemed most likely to get? Is this what we really want in a Prime Minister? A Prime Minister who’s seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution? Canada can do much better.

Only one party is going to restore Canada’s image on human rights, be a world leader on the environment and work to meet the commitment of 0.7% of GDP going to foreign aid. The other has taken us backward on all 3 fronts and give them another term neither we, nor the rest of the world, will likely recognize the Canada we’ve taken for granted for generations. That’s the choice in the next election and the stakes perhaps have never been higher. It’s a message I hope all progressives get loud and clear - we need a new government more than ever and Stephane Dion happens to be the kind of authentic leader that will bring us the change we so desperately need.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Still Waiting…But I’m Not Holding My Breath

It’s now been over two weeks since the Green Shift was launched and much to the chagrin of the opponents of this plan I’m still waiting for some things to happen…
- Still waiting to see the FIRST respected non-partisan affiliated economist to say the Green Shift will be bad for the Canadian economy. Perhaps Stephen Harper should stop calling himself an economist
- Still waiting to see the FIRST respected non-partisan affiliated environmental group to say the Green Shift won’t likely result in significant decreases in greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps the NDP should clue in...
- Still waiting for John Baird (you know our Environment Minister) to make his FIRST public comments on the Green Shift plan. After losing all credibility with the rest of the world, I guess Baird has lost credibility with his own party as well. Either that or Baird knows well enough that his party is wrong on the Green Shift and can't bring himself to parrot the Conservative talking points.
- Still waiting to see the FIRST sign of real global leadership from Stephen Harper on climate change. Harper's "you first" attitude is driving Canada's reputation down the toilet
- Still waiting for the FIRST public poll that shows that public support for the Liberals has been hurt by the Green Shift like all the naysayers claimed it would. Guess Canadians are a lot smarter than the pundits gave them credit.
- Still waiting for the alliance of Liberal Premiers to come out against this plan like had been predicted
- Still waiting for anything to be up on the NDP website about the Green Shift SINCE the plan was released (the release they put out before the plan was released on taxing the poor was completely debunked and not even Layton parrots those talking points anymore). I guess the cat has caught the NDP’s tongue…I saw Layton on CTV’s Question Period and all he could say was that he feared the Green Shift wouldn’t reduce emissions (which no environmental group agrees with him on) and that Stephen Harper’s comments about the plan were unbecoming and wrong. I can see Jack is struggling here…
- Still waiting for Jack Layton to explain how his cap-and-trade plan can be implemented “right now” as he claims. Do you know who is in government right now Jack? Do you know how cap-and-trade fared in Europe? You’ll get a real effective cap-and-trade system (like the one the Liberals proposed over a year ago that includes absolute targets) with a Liberal government, no sooner, that’s just reality.
- Still waiting for Jack Layton to acknowledge that he is completely off-side with the entire environmental community with his criticisms of the Green Shift (when confronted with this on QP all he said was basically “I like debate” but couldn’t name any groups that support his view of the Green Shift). The best approach is going to be implementing the Green Shift as soon as possible and then working to set up an effective cap-and-trade system. That’s what the Liberals have proposed and what everyone who is serious about the environment agrees on. The NDP would rather we dither and even then only want to tackle half the problem (GHG emissions from big business, but not from individuals).
- Still waiting for Stephen Harper to stop cowering from a debate with Stephane Dion on climate change. With Harper even afraid now to debate Dion in Calgary it's obvious to everyone that Harper knows he's got nothing intelligent to say or propose himself on the environment.

Something tells me I should stop waiting for all these things to happen… In the meantime I’ll continue to be glad to be supporting a plan that all the experts, and an ever growing cross-partisan coalition, agree is the best plan for our environment and economy.

While the NDP and Conservatives remain in denial about this plan, Stephane Dion will continue to be the only adult in this debate telling Canadians how it’s well past time for Canada to show leadership on this issue and how he'll get the job done.

At the G8 conference in Japan this upcoming week (July 7-9) I think it will be made painfully clear why Canada needs a leader like Stephane Dion as our Prime Minister.

UPDATE: There’s been a Baird sighting! He’s come out of hiding to remind us why he's been kept hidden all this time. Thanks John for lending even more credibility to those economists who are most supportive of the Green Shift! I guess it was too good to be true to expect Baird to remain in hibernation forever (though the Conservatives may soon regret that they let him out), but still waiting for all the rest of these things to happen...

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