It's not unreasonable to think that a good starting point for solving a social problem like homelessness, is to get a handle on exactly how many people are affected. Especially when you hear numbers being bandied about like 150,000 to 300,000 people in Canada are homeless. That is, after all, a pretty significant difference. Which is it: 150 or 300? Who wouldn't be tempted to get out there and start counting? That's exactly what Conservative MP Peter Goldring suggested we do -- on a national scale.
The Agricultural Growth Act, Bill C-18, is currently before Parliament. It is an omnibus bill amending nine separate pieces of agricultural legislation. The changes vastly increase corporate control of seed and will result in higher seed costs for farmers in the future.
The Plant Breeders' Rights Act (PBRA), adopted in 1990, confers to a breeder of a new plant variety, a form of intellectual property rights similar to a patent. The Plant Breeders' Rights Office receives between 300 to 400 applications per year with about 100 coming from Canada. This office has no role in enforcement of a breeders' right once granted. It is up to the rights holder to pursue infringements through the court system.
After 20 years of providing uncompromised abortion services to women in New Brunswick, and from PEI, the Morgentaler Clinic is being forced to close its doors due to funding shortfalls.
It is shameful that Canada now has two provinces that refuse to uphold a woman's right to choose, and provide necessary medical procedures free of cost to women. The federal government must enforce the Canada Health Act to ensure that all Canadian women have equivalent access to abortion services across Canada.
There was a mad scramble by Washington last week to prevent the seemingly inevitable -- an implosion of the Middle East peace talks. In a last-ditch effort to stop Israel reneging on a promise to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, the U.S. briefly threw in possibly the biggest bargaining chip in its hand: the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
With Israel still dragging its feet, an infuriated Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas submitted applications to join 15 United Nations conventions, thereby reviving a campaign to win international recognition of Palestinian statehood.
During the on-going Ukrainian crisis, we in the West have been treated to the endless replaying and paraphrasing of Putin's quote regarding the collapse of the Soviet Union being the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.
This, or something akin to it, is generally the extent of the notion we are treated to, and it often accompanies suggestions that Putin's manoeuvres in Crimea are tantamount to the Sudeten crisis: Hitler's 1938 annexation of part of then Czechoslovakia according to the justification that he was intervening on behalf of German speakers.
The first ever pan-Canadian social forum will be held this year in Ottawa from August 21 to 24. More than 10,000 participants from all over Canada are expected to come to the University of Ottawa to discuss ways and means of combating the austerity policies of the Harper regime and the provincial governments.
While we have been witness to often spirited resistance in many spaces and places -- the Québec student strike, the indigenous Idle No More movement, and the rallies against the Enbridge and TransCanada pipelines -- there has not yet been a united Canada-wide response. What are the prospects for a pan-Canadian fightback?
Québec and First Nations
The Canadian government has become the latest imperialist power to jump to the defence of the far-right protests in Venezuela. Parliament has just passed a unanimous motion that places the responsibility for the current violence in the country on the shoulders of the Venezuelan government rather than the opposition gangs that initiated the unrest. We have become accustomed to both the Conservatives and Liberals attacking the Venezuelan revolution, but what is concerning this time around is the fact that the NDP has sided with the two right-wing parties in condemning the Bolivarian government.
Recently, it has not been a good time for the Harper government and they have also shown a disturbing pattern of illegal and anti-democratic abuses.
Here is a baker's dozen of examples with two highly unsettling themes: (1) ignoring the rule of law and (2) flouting the traditional processes of parliamentary democracy.
1. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Harper government's legislation making retroactive changes to parole eligibility breaches the Charter of Rights and is thus unconstitutional.
Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre's first piece of legislation, Bill C-23 (the so-called Fair Elections Act), turns out to be a Con game. This should come as no surprise given the Minister's record as Mr Harper's obfuscator in chief, beginning with his full-throated defence of the 2006 'in and out' expense laundering scheme perpetrated by the Conservatives.
The government's spin on the Unfair Elections Act (and "spin" is putting politely what is now clearly a deception strategy) is a stream of "war is peace" doublespeak. They say they are encouraging voting when they are actively seeking to suppress many voters' rights.