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The Consultation Tracker: For the months of June-July 2016

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The current federal government loves to "consult." There is a site where the government publishes all ongoing consultations but the list is overwhelming.

Right after the election, Activist Toolkit published an initial list of issues that progressives had organized around and which still needed to be addressed. Now that the first budget has been tabled and the number of consultations growing, it seems a "Consultation Tracker" would be useful.

This blog will serve as a running list of consultations on issues that matter to us. If I have missed some consultations on issues you are organizing around email me at toolkit@rabble.ca. If you have made a submission on an issue and would like to share it with others, so many submissions are being made that have great recommendations, send it to me at toolkit@rabble.ca and I can share it on our submissions page.

We all know that consultations can be window dressing. During the Trans-Pacific Partnership consultation process, Michael Geist and Citizen Action Monitor starting calling for public access to submissions made to the government, which is something that could be useful for all consultations. But I am getting ahead of myself. This blog will be updated monthly with information about issues we care about and the consultations around them.

The Toolkit can't do it alone so do send me an email if you are organizing around an issue I have not included or there is a consultation that is missing.

By the way, if you are wondering why I organized the consultations in the way below, it is just how I came across the issues and has nothing to do with importance.

Bill C-51 and security issues

  • Summary: The Kill Bill C-51 coalition has been demanding that the bill be repealed in its entirety. The Liberal government's position, when they voted for the bill and during the election, has been that they will amend the problematic components. Minister Ralph Goodale has said that the public consultations will go beyond Bill C-51 to address a broader range of national security concerns and to build alliances.
  • Dates: Position paper to be released soon and dates TBA.
  • More: On May 5th, 2016 OpenMedia and others met with Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale to discuss Bill C-51. Laura Tribe has produced this report about the meeting. Before the meeting, Openmedia.org asked for input about the key issues to discuss at the meeting and put together this great issue primer. Laura Tribe reports that public consultations on Bill C-51 are slated to begin in the future (date not yet disclosed). OpenMedia has requested that the government to release a position paper to clarify what they are looking for, what pieces of C-51 and current laws are of concern, and where they feel they need to make amendments. OpenMedia also asked to be a part of shaping what the consultations look like. When Bill C-51 was originally published Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, two law professors and national security experts, put together this analysis of the bill. You can still tell your MP how you feel about the bill. 

 

Privacy and surveillance

  • Summary: A lot of the creepy encroachments made by Harper have not been undone by the Liberals and a lot more of our information is being collected and shared. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has published its strategic plan for changing privacy policy in the next five years. Currently the office of the privacy commissioner is investigating the issues of consent. Read the government position paper and send a submission to the online consultation on this issue. 
  • Dates: Send your comments in by July 13, 2016
  • More: The Liberal government has already made some changes that have implications for the idea of consent. One way to look at consent in our daily lives is to question what the telecom companies are doing with our data. Michael Geist just published a post on what telecoms have been doing in regard to digital privacy (Note: If this alarms you and you want to use a telecom provider that respects your privacy, click here for a handy list ranking of Canadian telecoms on privacy). If you want to envision what the internet and digital freedom could look like, OpenMedia.org has launched a new crowdsourced vision of our digital future. The Liberals have a lot more work to do on this issue so stay tuned.

 

First Nations Consultations

  • Summary: The Conservative government set up ongoing consultations with industry stakeholders and oil and gas producing First Nations communities to review the Indian Oil and Gas Act. Allegedly these consultations and consultations on how to co-manage water resources are ongoing. In the wake of the NEB ruling that recommends going forward with the Kinder Morgan expansion in BC, the Liberals have established a three member panel to work with First Nations stakeholders. The 2016 budget also stated that consultations would be held to improve the social and physical infrastructure in First Nations communities and specifically address First Nations and Indigenous education and jobs and skills training (stay tuned for these). Also recently consultation on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women helped to launch a National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
  • Dates: Ongoing consultations on Indian Oil and Gas Act and water management. The first stage of consultations on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is completed and now the National Inquiry is working to delve deeper and establish recommendations and frameworks for action. Consultations mentioned in the budget and by the three member panel to look at Kinder Morgan are to be established.
  • More: 
    • The First Nations are ready to challenge the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in BC in the courts. Find out how you can support the legal challenges at pull-together.ca
    • The growing number of suicides and suicide attempts in Attawapiskat brought attention to the lack of social infrastructure investment in many First Nations communities. Youth in Attawapiskat met and workshopped and came up with a list of what they need in terms of infrastructure and support—the list is not profound, it is a basic demand for infrastructure. Unfortunately the 2016 budget falls short on meeting First Nations needs for infrastructure. One of these promises was to lift the cap on funding for the Post Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), a woefully underfunded program that helps First Nation students access post-secondary education. This promise was not met. The Canadian Federation of Students and others are demanding that Trudeau keep his promise. Sign the petition to fund the PSSSP here.
    • In the 1960s and 70s, a pulp and paper mill dumped over 9000 kgs of untreated mercury waste in the Wabigoon river, which was upstream from several First Nations communities including the Grassy Narrows. A recently released report reiterates findings from 1980 which found that the mercury can and should be cleaned up with adequate government resources. Sign this Leadnow petition to stand with Grassy Narrows and other impacted communities and demand that the governments take responsibility for the cleanup.
    • In regard to the national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women, Human Rights Watch released a letter which establishes a broader scope for the inquiry and demands that the inquiry lead to an implementable action plan. Circulate and supportthese demands. Meanwhile National Chief Perry Bellegarde is demanding that the police and others not wait till the inquiry is complete to take action. Action is being taken. Stories are being published about groups like the Bear Clan patrol are watching out for women when the police fail them, and there are many other patrols and centres being established to help women, but more must be done.

Grassy Mountain Coal Project

  • Summary: The project proponent, Benga Mining Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Riversdale Resources Limited, is proposing to construct and operate an open-pit metallurgical coal mine near the Crowsnest Pass, approximately seven kms north of Blairmore, in south-west Alberta. As proposed, the production capacity of the project would be a maximum of four million tonnes of clean coal per year, over a mine-life of about 25 years. Funding is available for eligible individuals and groups to participate in the upcoming environmental assessment, including reviewing and providing comments on the Review Panel Terms of Reference and the Environmental Impact Statement, and preparing for and participating in the public hearing. Funding will also assist participants in commenting on the potential conditions that would be required, if the project is allowed to proceed. To apply for funding, email the Participant Funding Program at PFP.PAFP@ceaa-acee.gc.ca or call 1-866-582-1884. The Application Form — Environmental Assessment by Review Panel is available on the Agency website under Participant Funding.
  • Dates: Consultation dates TBA, funding applications need to be received by August 31, 2015 

 

Agricultural and Food Policy

  • Summary: The Government is currently at the midway point of implementing a 5 year policy framework for agriculture and agri-food called Growing Forward 2 (2013-2018). It has launched aquestionnaire to consult for the next policy framework.
  • Dates: complete questionnaire by July 31 2016.
  • More: There are so many issues important to farmers and agricultural and food policy. Here is a smattering. Send me more. Anita Kranjc and others helped bring attention to the cruel conditions under which animals are transported. Right now there is a petition to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, sponsored by Alexandra Mendes (Liberal), demanding that the more humane animal transportation practices. Lois Ross has recently launched a rabble.ca column on agricultural policy, and recently took on how corporate interests are threatening farmers right to seed. Farmers will be impacted by the Trans-Pacific Trade Pact and by other international agreements, as will the ability to regulate GMOs and other crops.

 

Open Government

  • Summary: One element of real transparency is openness to access to information requests. The Government has launched a consultation to revamp access to information
  • Dates: Send your submissions in by June 30, 2016
  • More: In March 2016, eleven civil society organizations signed an open letter demanding changes to the Access to Information policies in Canada. Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner of Canada, and Don Lenihan, senior Associate at Canada 20/20 also provided a broader analysis of the Conservative government's Open Government initiative providing guidelines to build stronger action to implement the framework. We must continue to demand additional information in the name of transparency.

 

Electoral Reform

  • Summary: On May 10, the Liberal Government filed a motion to establish a special All Party Committee on Electoral Reform which will analyze and consult Canadians about how to develop a more fair electoral system. On June 3rd, due to public outcry about how they had chosen to set up the committee so that they had an absolute majority, the Liberals amended their original proposal to adopt Nathan Cullen's recommendations about setting up the committee. Currently the Liberals have proposed that committee would report to Parliament by December 1st , 2016 and has asked that all Members of Parliament hold a forum on electoral reform in their ridings and submit a report about the forum by Oct. 1, 2016. Click here to read the newswire release about the motion.
  • Dates: MP consultations with constituency members must be completed by Oct 1, 2016.
  • More: election. One of the groups that helped move this issue during the 2015 election was FairVote.ca. FairVote has produced useful primers and guides on the issue. Learn more here. Here is what the seat distribution after the 2015 federal election would have looked like if Canada had proportional representation.

 

Canada Post

  • Summary: Door to door service was in the process of being phased out by the Canada Post under the Harper Administration. In response to the national campaign built by the Canadian Postal Workers Union (CUPW-STTP) and allies, the government has launched a review of Canada Post. 
  • Dates: Consultation and Task force launched in May 2016. From May 2016 to August 2016 task force conducts its work and in September 2016 Task Force develops a position paper. From September to November 2016 the Task Force will organize consultations with Canadians. In December 2016, the Parliamentary Committee will tables their report and in Spring 2017 government announces decision.
  • More: Right now, the installation of Canada Post community mailboxes is halted, but the Liberals are not promising that those who have lost home delivery will have it restored. Canada Post and CUPW-STTP are going into negotiations this summer and Canada Post is citing revenues and other concerns as a reason to push back against CUPW's demands. The review provides an opportunity to come up with new strategies to envision a stronger postal service. Currently CUPW is asking that Canada Post integrate financial services into the services provided at airports and saying that Canada Post seems to be forcing the workers into another lockout. Visit SaveCanadaPost.org to get involved and stay informed.

 

Foreign Policy

  • Summary: The stated goal of this consultation is to align Canada`s international funding framework to better aid the most vulnerable communities and countries around the world and to advance the agenda of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
  • Dates: Send your submissions in by July 31, 2016
  • More: The Canadian International Development platform provides a breakdown of 2015 international assistance, and is a good reference. Under the Conservative government, Canada's international aid had become increasingly low. Radio Canada International summarizes all of the foreign aid commitments in the Liberal budget in this article. Interestingly enough, the article quotes four time Canadian ambassador to the Middle East, Michael Bell, as saying "In other words, when we look at the dispute between Israel and Palestinians, I don't think the policy is going to change that dramatically but the approach is going to change. It's going to be a fair-minded approach where we try to look at both sides of the argument and do what we can to bring some kind of a reconciliation between the two that allows for the achievement of peace." If the Liberals are supposed to be fair-minded then why is the Liberal government supporting a motion to ban the BDS movement. Sign this petition to support free speech. Furthermore, as the Liberals strive to take a more ethical position, why are they signing an arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Sign this petition to tell Stephane Dion and Justin Trudeau that you oppose the deal.

Another foreign affairs issue that people are organizing around is the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. The "consultations" on the Trans-Pacific partnership were window dressing according to some participants. Now that the deal is signed, the next step is for the government to vote to ratify the agreement. Canada can still renegotiate or reject the agreement, according to experts. The movement to Stop the TPP is still going strong, join it.

 

Good Jobs:

There are a few different consultations on employment and labour standards.

 

Flexible work arrangements for federally regulated workforce

  • Summary: On the campaign trail, the Liberal government had pledged to amend the Canada Labour Code to allow workers in federally regulated sectors, approximately six per cent of the workforce, to formally request flexible work arrangements. Post-election this means…wait for it…another consultation. They idea is to consult all Canadians to explore which flexible work arrangements would help them manage their work and life responsibilities better. This is an online consultation and Employment and Social Development Canada has provided multiple ways to send in comments.
  • Dates: Send comments in by June 30.

 

"Rethinking DisAbility in the Private Sector" [sic]

  • Summary: The federal government commissioned a panel of four experts to put together a report on how to better integrate people with disabilities into the private sector labour force. Interested people can get the 'Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities' online and it can be ordered in large print, braille, audio cassette, audio CD, e-text diskette, e-text CD and DAISY formats.
  • Date: Ongoing consultation
  • More: Under the Harper Administration there were a series of attacks that hurt unemployed, injured and disabled workers. It is heartening to see that the Liberals are working to undo the negative changes to EI. A lot more damage to programs that help disabled workers need to be reinstated, and provinces need to be urged to reform practices that exploit disabled workers who are in the workforce. Canadians with Disabilities is fighting for a modernized court challenge program in Canada among other things.

 

Temporary Worker Program consultation

  • Summary: The Parliament is currently reviewing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Between May 11 and June 15, the Parliamentary Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of People with Disabilities is adopting a report on the TFW program and inviting expert testimony. After two days of testimony, the committee had heard from only four temporary foreign workers. The review will conclude in June.
  • Dates: Review concludes on June 15th.
  • More:" A few weeks ago, the CBC reported on the case of Sheldon McKenzie, a farm worker from Jamaica who had been coming to Ontario for 12 years for seasonal work at farms. Last year he was injured at work and, according to the CBC article, "the program that brought him to Canada stripped him of his labour rights after he was hurt, then tried to cut off his access to health care." He died because of the injuries. What is even more horrifying is that a study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal Open found that, between 2001 and 2011, 787 migrant farm workers in Ontario were terminated and sent back to their countries of origin for medical reasons. The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada has organized #StatusNow actions and other campaign activities. Get involved now. 

Environment: 

There are a lot of ongoing consultations on the environment. I am grouping some at the bottom of this section in the interest of time.

Sustainable Development

  • Summary: Each year the federal government tables a policy for sustainable development. The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) is the government's plan and vision for a more sustainable Canada. A draft 2016–2019 strategy was released for consultation in February 2016. The new strategy outlines how 37 federal government departments and agencies are working to create a sustainable economy and protect the environment for the next three years. The strategy also outlines the Government of Canada's environmental sustainability contributions to the 2030 Agenda, a set of global sustainable development goals. They have set up an online consultation to tell them what you think of the draft 2016–2019 strategy. The government also tabled their 2015 Progress Report on the FSDS in Parliament in February 2016.
  • Dates: Consultation till June 24, 2016 

Climate Change

  • Summary: The government continues its charm offensive on climate change with an extensive set of tools and townhalls .
  • Dates: Consultation till August 31, 2016.ate change action and stay tuned for more ways to get involved.
  • More: When Trudeau went to Paris commitments, by the various levels of government,regarding emissions standards fall below what is needed to curb climate change. Since then Brad Wallquestioned climate science, Christy Clark has appointed a right wing panel to develop the BC plan, Kathleen Wynne has come up with a plan dedicating $7 billion dollars on the Ontario climate change planrabble.ca…and the list continues. Climate justice activists have made 2016 a year of action on climate change. One of the framework initiatives is the LEAP Manifesto which is currently being debated across the country.

Other Consultations:

  • There are a ton of consultations scheduled by the Ministry of Environment as part of their role to consult for the Species at Risk Public Registry
  • National Resources Canada also has a slew of consultations scheduled about the extractive industry both in terms of labour policy and industry practice regulation. Click here for more.
  • There are other consultations, do check Consulting Canadians for more.

Finance

Tax Evasion

  • Summary: The Department of Finance has released recommendations and is inviting comment on their draft legislative proposals to implement the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), which will ensure tax fairness and improve Canada's ability to detect and address tax evasion. Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the draft legislative proposals by July 15, 2016. Comments can be directed to fin.CRS-NCD.fin@canada.ca 
  • Dates: Submit comments on the draft legislative proposals by July 15, 2016
  • More: According to research released by the Tax Justice Network, an estimated $81 billion a year is lost to tax evasion in Canada. Canada ranks 11th out of the 145 countries surveyed in total amount of tax evaded. They have launched a campaign called Tackle Tax Havens to push for reforms. The Great Canadian Tax Dodge is a video by TVO that documents how tax evasion has developed in Canada. Hopefully these will inform participant comments.

Trade Remedy

  • Summary: The Department of Finance has launched a consultation on potential changes to Canada's trade remedy system. This consultation was announced in Budget 2016 as part of the Government's commitment to strengthen Canada's response to unfair trade. Canada's trade remedy system provides recourse for domestic producers injured by unfairly traded goods entering the Canadian market. A modern and effective trade remedy system ensures Canadian producers can operate on a level playing field and have the appropriate tools to respond to changing global trade conditions.
  • Dates: The consultation ends on June 29, 2016
  • More: It is ironic that this consultation is being launched while the government is considering passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The agreement guts the trade remedy possibilities of Canada among other things. Canada can still renegotiate or reject the agreement, according to experts. The movement to Stop the TPP is still going strong, join it.

Health

 Dangerous drugs

  • Summary: Health Canada has produced a paper to implement the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa's Law). The goal is to require certain healthcare institutions to report serious adverse drug reactions and medical device incidents. T
  • Dates: Consultation on paper ends July 11, 2016
  • More : It is useful to collect data about serious issues with drugs and medical devices. However for many Canadians there are more fundamental issues that the federal government could address. Canada needs a National Public Drug Plan For All, the Canada Health Accord expired in 2014 and has yet to be renewed, and other issues raised by the Canadian Health Coalition. Visit their website to find out more and get involved.

Justice and the Law:

  • Summary: In 2012, the government established user fees for processing a record suspension (formerly a pardon) and keeping this criminal record separate and apart from other criminal records in the system, when the stipulations by the court had been met. Basically, people whose records are being suspended currently have to pay to make sure that the criminal justice system keeps their record private as per the law. The government is currently reviewing this provision and others.
  • Date: Consultation closes June 10, 2016
  • More: One of the most neglected issues during the election was prison reform. The Harper Government vastly expanded the prison industrial complex in Canada, and during the election Trudeau and the Liberals were largely silent on the issue of rolling back Harper's draconian laws. Prison reform will require a lot more than rolling back the laws, we need to work with current campaigners and activists to build a better system.

The Government intends to launch at least 40 more consultations from my count in the budget, on issues like First Nations jobs and training, the Canada Pension Plan and other issues. Let me know how to make this tool more useful for you as you work to be heard.

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