The Council of Canadians Regina chapter has written to Ralph Goodale, the Member of Parliament for Regina-Wascana and the federal Minister of Public Safety.
Chapter activist Jim Elliott writes, “Congratulations on your recent victory in the October 19th Federal Election and your recent appointment to the Cabinet. I would also like to thank you for the opportunity to address you at this time in lieu of a face-to-face meeting that we had originally requested. We realize that your plate is fairly full and your efforts to move forward a value to Canadians across Canada. In light of that, we thought it prudent to place what our thoughts were for that meeting into this letter. We realize that this is a one way conversation and would hope that in the future, there may be an opportunity to have that face-to-face discussion.”
The following are brief excerpts from the Regina chapter’s letter:
Health Care – “The Council of Canadians has strongly campaigned to strengthen public health care and stop privatization. We believe that everyone – provincial and territorial governments, First Nations and the federal government – should come together to renegotiate a Health Care Accord that delivers better, more efficient, quality public health care. The accord should include a national pharmacare program and better home care and long-term care for our aging population. All Canadians should have access to the same services and quality of care provided by a national, public system.”
Democratic Reform – “The recent inclusion of a Minister of Democratic Institutions shows us the importance your government places on our democracy and the instruments that direct and guide how we relate to each other. The one of specific interest to us among others is our federal election system. The Council of Canadians supports proportional representation and calls on the federal government to begin immediate public consultations so a new voting system can be in place before the next federal election. …We also see in the mandate letter of Ms. Monsef the need to repeal the elements of the Fair Elections Act which makes it harder for Canadians to vote and easier for election law breakers to evade punishment.”
Bill C-51 – “As the review and amendment to Bill C-51 is principally in your mandate, it is very important for you to hear the concerns of many Canadians on this bill. We also see the need for an exhaustive public consultation process on this matter. …We urge you to set the proper tone for a truly participatory democracy by committing to an open public debate on Bill C-51 as a precondition to the tabling of any legislative changes.”
Trans-Pacific Partnership – “From the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement of 1988, through NAFTA, the WTO and Canada’s many Foreign Investment Protection Agreements, to today’s bilateral, European Union and Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, these deals enrich multinational corporations at the expense of the vast majority of people and the planet. In fact, these old and new agreements are better understood as corporate rights deals. The Council of Canadians believes trade agreements should be made by and for people, not corporations. We campaign to make trade deals fair and trade policy open and democratic.”
Climate Change – “With growing concern about the grim realities of climate change and diminishing energy resources globally, we are supporting communities fighting energy projects that will destroy their land, water and air. We are working to stop pipelines that will bring fracked natural gas and tar sands crude to new markets, and supporting the efforts of communities to say ‘no’ to fracking. We are pushing the Canadian government for strong policies that protect our environment and focus on renewable and sustainable energy solutions. Pressing for immediate government action on climate change is also central to our efforts. We work as part of a global climate justice movement calling for ‘system change, not climate change’.”
Water – “The Council of Canadians is a leader in fights to protect Canada’s freshwater sources. Our campaign work focuses on recognizing water as part of a shared commons. Water is a human right and as such, must be protected from privatization, pollution and bulk exports. We are campaigning to protect the Great Lakes from pollution, misuse and government neglect. We are working to stop fracking, a natural gas extraction process that uses and pollutes massive volumes of water. We encourage community empowerment and involvement through our ‘Blue Communities Project’. In Canada, there is no national strategy to address urgent water issues and federal leadership to conserve and protect our water has been missing. We are campaigning for a National Water Policy that will safeguard communities’ water. Water is vital to people’s health and livelihoods.”
Elliott concludes, “We realize that many of these comments fall outside your principal mandate. But it is our hope that you would bring them to the attention of your colleagues at your earliest convenience and where appropriate. Thank you for the opportunity to provide to you our views on these matters.”
The Regina chapter’s 5-page letter can be read in full here.
Photo: Regina chapter activist Jim Elliott.