STORIES FOR SEPTEMBER 12, 2015 – II

Gordon Hogg appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Youth Sport

 

(PHOTO)

 

PREMIER Christy Clark announced on Thursday the appointment of Gordon Hogg, MLA for Surrey-White Rock, as Parliamentary Secretary for Youth Sport to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

Hogg will focus on promoting and advancing youth participation in sport as an important element in building strong and healthy communities, with an initial focus on First Nations and Aboriginal youth.

“Getting young people more involved in sports has real, long-term benefits – not just for the individual, but for their communities as a whole,” said Clark. “Helping to co-ordinate efforts throughout British Columbia will get more Aboriginal youth involved in athletics, building legacies of success that reach far beyond the playing field.”

The Premier also announced a new Premier’s Award for Aboriginal Youth Athletic Achievement. The award will bring together British Columbians to celebrate achievement and build stronger, healthier communities.

Hogg has been asked to work with First Nations and Aboriginal leaders and youth to co-create the award program, with a goal of completing the first round of nominations, selection, and award by the fall of 2016.

“I’ve seen countless examples of how sports enrich the lives of young people and communities throughout the province,” said Hogg. “My focus will be on finding new and innovative ways of getting our youth more active and healthy, leading to more successful adults.”

The announcements were made during a joint meeting between B.C.’s Cabinet and First Nations leaders from throughout British Columbia.

 

 

 

$1-million readiness fund for Syrian refugees settling in B.C.

 

(PHOTO: Premier Christy Clark (right) with Minister Shirley Bond.)

 

RECOGNIZING the severity of the global humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Government of British Columbia is creating a $1-million readiness fund for Syrian refugees settling in B.C.

The fund is a one-time investment intended to complement existing provincial and federal support services for refugees. It will enhance existing provincial refugee programs and provide additional resources for private sponsors who are working to bring these refugees to B.C‎.

The Province will work with settlement agencies, community groups and private sponsors to make sure these funds are used to achieve the best outcomes for these refugees. Specifically the funds will be used for:

* Counselling – trauma counselling through a range of psycho-social supports.

* “Groups of Five” private sponsorship supports – A “Group of Five” is made up of private citizens who come together to sponsor a refugee. These funds will assist these private sponsors to help navigate the refugee-sponsorship process.

* Community-level supports – help for local governments that will be settling Syrian refugees so there will be a welcoming community for these newcomers.

* Foreign Credential Recognition – many Syrians will arrive in Canada with work experience and credentials from their home country. Funds will be available for B.C.-based professional associations to quickly and fairly review and approve their foreign credentials so they can start working in B.C.

* Employer supports – funds to help businesses and existing immigrant settlement organizations employ, train and mentor Syrian refugees. These funds will also provide matching funds to employers who train and commit to hire a Syrian refugee.

For any questions about existing supports available for refugees or to learn more about how this fund can be used to help, community groups and private sponsors can call 1-877-952-6914.

Premier Christy Clark said on Tuesday: “Our hearts go out to the Kurdi family and to all Syrian refugees suffering in this crisis. B.C. wants to help and though we have limited say in who comes to our province, we can do a lot to support Syrian refugees and all newcomers when they arrive. This new fund will help get them the supports they need to adjust to their new life, find work and integrate into our province.”

Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, said: “Everyone who has seen the photos of Syrian refugees fleeing their country or who has heard their stories has been moved to want to help. We know that helping refugees integrate into British Columbia when they get here is one of the best ways we can help them. Our province is ready to welcome these newcomers and this readiness fund will allow us to respond quickly when the need arises by working through the support groups already connected with refugees.”

Patricia Woroch, CEO, Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia, said: “The groundswell of interest in the Syrian refugee crisis by British Columbians over the past week has been both remarkable and inspiring. As we prepare to receive increased numbers of refugees here in B.C., we need to review our capacity and infrastructure to support their future integration into this Province. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Province to provide the best possible start as refugees, so they can rebuild their lives now and in the future.”

 

 

 

B.C. mortgage broker regulator urges reporting of any suspected misconduct

 

THE Registrar of Mortgage Brokers at the Financial Institutions Commission is urging British Columbians to report any suspected misconduct in mortgage transactions following reports that mortgage brokers in Ontario may have falsified information on mortgage applications.

Home Capital Group recently terminated contracts with 45 mortgage brokers and two brokerages in Ontario. None of the mortgage brokers appear to be active in British Columbia.

“My office is always concerned when there are reports of misconduct involving mortgage brokers,” said Carolyn Rogers, Registrar of Mortgage Brokers in B.C. “We want the public to report any cases of potential or suspected misconduct including misrepresentation and fraud.”

False information in mortgage applications places borrowers at risk of entering into mortgages they cannot afford and places lenders at risk of providing loans that they would not otherwise have made.

“We’ve reached out to lenders and mortgage brokers asking them to be vigilant and proactive in preventing fraud,” said Rogers. “We also appreciate the important role that borrowers can play in reporting suspicious conduct.”

The Registrar investigates all complaints from consumers and industry.

Suspected cases of misconduct in British Columbia should be referred to the Registrar of Mortgage Brokers at: BrokerConduct@ficombc.ca

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth II now the longest-reigning monarch in Britain’s history

 

(PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth II Photo: Official website of British Monarchy)

 

PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday issued a statement to mark the historic milestone of Queen Elizabeth II becoming the longest reigning Sovereign in Canada’s modern era, surpassing the reign of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria (r. 1837-1901).

Expressing his delight, Harper said: “Her Majesty has served Canada with honour, distinction and great affection. Through her unfaltering dedication to all facets of our society – from our Aboriginal Peoples to the Canadian Armed Forces, from volunteers to charitable organizations – she has enriched our national life and has never wavered in her commitment to duty or to her Coronation Oath as Queen of Canada. For more than 63 years, and through 22 Royal Tours as Queen, Her Majesty has won the hearts of her people by always shining a light on the best of who and what we are as Canadians. We are grateful for her service, which continues to remind us that the Crown is an essential part of the constitutional order of our country.

“Canada is pleased to mark today’s milestone and honour Her Majesty’s contributions to Canada through a range of celebratory activities, including the issuance of commemorative coins (Royal Canadian Mint), a commemorative $20 bank note (Bank of Canada) and a new stamp (Canada Post).

“As Canadians prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017, it would serve us well to mirror the Queen’s dedication to and affection for this great country and the rich diversity of her people. We look forward to welcoming Members of the Royal Family to join us in celebrating a country that remains the envy of the entire world.”

 

 

 

 

 

Strong start and end to 2015 Fair at the PNE dampened by stormy weather

 

(PHOTO – Photo by Chandra Bodalia)

 

A strong final four days of the 105th annual Fair at the PNE helped push attendance of the popular event over the 678,000 mark, down 10% to the projected attendance.

“The first five operating days of the Fair saw the strongest attendance in a decade,” said PNE President and CEO Mike McDaniel on Tuesday. “We were tracking to have the best attendance in recent memory, but the wet weather that set in on the first Friday brought the coldest days in the city since spring. Of course we do expect some rain during the Fair, but did not anticipate the impact that would be felt across our region after the rain hit Friday, the winds hit Saturday and the turbulent weather continued until the following Thursday.”

Positive excitement around this year’s Fair drew 238,530 guests in the first five days, over 22,500 more guests than the anticipated five-day attendance of 216,000. Over the August 28–September 3 period of extremely cold and wet weather and the worst windstorm in the region’s history knocking out power to 710,000 lower mainlanders, the Fair lost over 100,000 visits to its anticipated budget.

With a strong closing weekend highlighted by a free admission promotion on Sunday, September 7, the Fair made up some ground, finishing 10% behind its 10-year average attendance of 760,000 attendees. The final attendance of the 2015 Fair at the PNE was 678,193.

“If we would have continued along the lines of the opening five days we would likely have exceeded our 10-year average by approximately 10%,” said McDaniel. “We’re happy that so many people responded so positively to our 2015 programming, but it’s fair to say every aspect of the event will be analyzed as part of this year’s debrief.”

Longtime PNE concessionaire Boyd Newton of One Sweet World said the Fair rebounded well once the adverse weather gave way. “The opening five days and closing four were very strong. Unfortunately the six days of the storm took their toll, but we recognize we can’t control the weather,” he noted.

2015 was the third year of a five-year plan to re-energize The Fair at the PNE. Successes of 2015 included an overwhelmingly positive response to The Magical History Tour, A Beatles Exhibition; The Broadway Musical Peter Pan Starring Cathy Rigby; Summer Night Concerts

including Boyz II Men, the Beach Boys, and Hall and Oates; and the Superheroes Discovery Centre and Dinosaurs Alive!

Planning is now fully underway for the 2016 Fair at the PNE. For more information visit: www.PNE.ca.

 

 

B.C. remains attractive place for new Canadians, say Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C.

 

B.C.’s population increased by 1.06 per cent, or 48,677 people to reach 4.63 million in 2014. According to BC Check-Up, an annual publication by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC), most of this growth was propelled by international immigration.

The destination of choice for most of these immigrants was Southwest B.C., which is not surprising given that the region is the hub of economic activity for the province. In 2014, B.C.’s labour market saw its fifth consecutive year of job gains and most of this growth occurred in Southwest B.C., which saw 28,700 new positions created; this job creation was largely due to increased demand for exports and the expansion of manufacturing and accommodation and food services industries.

B.C., and in particular Vancouver, continues to attract new residents as the city has consistently been ranked as one of the most livable in the world. However, the rising cost of living has made British Columbians more vulnerable to financial risk. In 2014, consumer debt in B.C. reached $58,621 per capital, which was the highest in Canada. However, last year’s 0.5 per cent increase was the smallest in almost a decade, and the consumer insolvency rate also declined by 6.3 per cent to 3.0 reports per 1,000 adults. Lower unemployment rates, positive job creation, and historically low interest rates likely contributed to the slowing of B.C.’s consumer debt increase and decline of consumer insolvencies.

Looking at B.C.’s investment climate, in 2014, private sector non-residential building investment declined by 7.3 per cent to $3.9 billion, which was largely due to a slowdown in industrial building. However, the value of B.C.’s major projects reached $405.7 billion, which was a 2.4 per cent increase between December 2014 and March 2015. This was largely driven by interests in B.C.’s rich and diverse resources sector. These projects include private and public construction projects that are either proposed, under construction, or completed and are valued at $15 million or higher.

Richard Rees, President and CEO of CPABC, said: “While our province is a costly place to live, people from other countries still consider B.C. a good place to work and invest. Our province’s triple-A credit rating provides foreign investors with reassurance that B.C. is a safe place for investment, and as our economy grows, B.C. will continue to be a desirable destination for those who are looking to relocate and start a new life in a different country.”

 

Quick Facts:

* The value of B.C.’s exports increased by 6.3 per cent to reach almost $36 billion. Increased residential construction in the US and a growing market for B.C. products in the Pacific Rim drove up the value of B.C. exports of forest products, energy, metallic minerals, and machinery and equipment.

* Real compensation per worker grew by 2.1 per cent to $52,321, compared to the national average of $55,841.

* B.C.’s government net debt-to-GDP ratio increased slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 17 per cent, but remained significantly below Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 31.2 per cent.

* Long-term unemployment fell by 0.1 percentage points to 0.7 per cent, compared to the national average of 0.9 per cent. However, this is still well above the pre-recession level.

 

 

 

 

B.C. infrastructure projects routinely overshoot original estimates by millions and even billions of dollars

 

BY DERMOD TRAVIS

Executive Director

IntegrityBC

 

(PHOTO)

 

SOMETHING is amiss when infrastructure projects routinely overshoot their original estimates by millions – and sometimes – billions of dollars in B.C.

It isn’t rounding errors. It’s sloppy estimating, bad procurement, ill-conceived plans and often a lack of a boss where the buck stops on some projects.

Back in January 2009, the B.C. government announced that it had reached “an agreement-in-principle for a public-private partnership with Connect BC Development Group to expand the Port Mann crossing and widen Highway 1.”

The government reserved the right to enter directly into contracts with “consortium members should a privately financed arrangement not be concluded.”

On February 27, the government disclosed it had been “unable to reach definitive agreement on final terms” with Connect BC and instead had entered into a “fixed-price” contract with Peter Kiewit & Sons and Flatiron Canada to design and build the new bridge and highway improvements.

The province also engaged “Macquarie Group to provide advisory services.”

Other winners in the deal: CH2M Hill who provided “procurement, technical advice and program engineering,” MMM Group who – in a joint venture – was “responsible for the onshore design,” and BA Blacktop who was the “designated paving subcontractor.”

In a remarkable coincidence, 10 days before the government made its announcement, the B.C. Liberal party reported receiving – on the exact same day – cheques of $5,000 each from the following companies: Peter Kiewit & Sons, Flatiron Canada, Macquarie Group, CH2M Hill, MMM Group and BA Blacktop.

On its website, Kiewit writes that the old “Port Mann Bridge was the primary route across the (Fraser) river, serving more than 800,000 vehicles in a single week,” but it “couldn’t keep pace with the growing needs of the region.”

They solved that problem. So far in 2015, the “world’s widest bridge” has carried less than 685,000 vehicles per week.

The bridge was part of the government’s Gateway plan announced in 2006.

The original estimate was $3 billion, which included $800 million for the Port Mann Bridge replacement, $500 million for widening Highway 1, $400 million for the North Fraser Perimeter Road and $800 million for the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

Estimates the government was still using 21-months later.

There was even a $300 million contingency in case of cost overruns. May have been a typo, the projects overshot those estimates by more than $2 billion.

Call it cost creep.

The Port Mann was budgeted at $800 million. Then highway improvements were tacked on and it became a $1.4 billion project, then $1.6 billion and up it went to $2.7 billion, $3.1 billion and, finally, to $3.32 billion.

And the government boasted it had signed a “fixed-price” contract.

The Crown Corporation that owns and operates the bridge – the Transportation Investment Corporation – is today $3.61 billion in debt or $610 million more than the original estimate for the entire Gateway plan (including that $300 million contingency).

It’s not the only infrastructure project to overshoot its budget.

Of eighteen projects announced by the B.C. government since 2003 – all with initial cost estimates of more than $150 million – nine hospital projects have already exceeded their original estimates by 12.6 per cent, seven transportation projects are running 59.2 per cent over budget, and the Vancouver Convention Centre and BC Place re-roofing together came in 68.1 per cent over first estimates.

More worrisome? One of the seven transportation projects isn’t finished yet and it’s not looking good.

The Evergreen Line is beset with mechanical problems. There may be smiles all round in public, but behind the scenes officials are gritting their teeth, because the boring machine isn’t gritting its.

Yet – despite all the cost overruns – the same companies keep showing up on job after job.

One company – MMM Group – ended up working on all seven of the transportation projects, CH2M Hill and Kiewit worked on three each.

MMM Group, recently acquired by WSP Global, is now the government’s engineer on the Massey Tunnel replacement project.

So why not more uproar?

Might have a bit to do with the government treating “on budget” as a moving target by continuously revising them to make them so.

Isn’t really cricket though.

And those fixed-price contracts, they’re not so fixed after all, at least on price.

 

 

 

 

Demand for City of Vancouver to find solutions to end desecration of women’s monument in Thornton Park

 

(PHOTOS)

 

VANCOUVER Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon is bringing forward a motion next Monday that will call for a long term solution to preserve Marker of Change in Thornton Park for activism against violence against women, according to a press release by ROSE (Remember Our Sisters Everywhere).

In 2013, a flock of Canada geese that lived north of the train station were displaced into Thornton Park by a new development. Their habitat had been turned into a gravel parking lot. The geese now use rain water in the “pool of tears” on each granite bench for drinking water and defecating. The granite benches have been in a terrible state ever since.

“Marker of Change is a circle of pink granite benches naming the 14 women assassinated in Montreal on December 6, 1989. A dedication to women and girls murdered worldwide is inscribed in seven languages,” said Chris McDowell, member of the Women’s Monument Committee.

“The monument provides both a sombre and welcoming artwork in the park. It is a place of action or reflection, a place that is embraced by activists, educators, and mourners, as well as enjoyed by locals and visitors who enter and exit the nearby train station.”

“These geese have found a source of water and as a result they have all but destroyed the purpose of Marker of Change,” said artist and creator Beth Alber. “The concept of this piece, characterized by a shallow crevice on top of each bench that collects water, a symbol of tears and grief, cannot accommodate the displaced wildlife. I am pleased that the commissioners are looking into finding permanent solutions to this aesthetically ruinous situation.”

“I do not want the family and friends of the women and girls who have been murdered to see a memorial that is chronically covered in geese excrement,” said Alber. “I am saddened that this has been allowed.”

Hedy Fry, MP Vancouver Centre and long time supporter of Marker of Change, said: “As Minister for Women’s Equality, I supported the building of this monument, to honour the memory of the 14 women killed at L’Ecole Polytechnique‎. We cannot allow its desecration.”

The Park Board was actively involved in the national design competition which resulted in Marker of Change being built in Thornton Park. A great deal of care was taken to ensure the monument would be easy to maintain, but what has happened since the arrival of the geese has come as a surprise. The benches are covered in geese feces affecting Marker of Change and  making the benches a health hazard for anyone who uses them.

“Other municipalities like the City of Toronto take measured steps to reduce and relocate their increasing goose population. We look forward to seeing how the Vancouver Park Board tackles this issue in Thornton Park,” said Elinor Warkentin, Women’s Monument Committee.

 

 

Coquitlam RCMP seek two witnesses, including South Asian, for August 28 Robinson Street house fire

 

 

SHORTLY before 2 a.m. on August 28, the Coquitlam RCMP and the Coquitlam Fire and Rescue responded to a structure fire in the 800-block of Robinson Street. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and assisted the occupant to escape unharmed.

After interviewing the victim, investigators believe two witnesses were nearby the house before the arrival of the emergency crews and provided assistance. The Coquitlam RCMP would like to speak with these two individuals.

One witness is described as:

* A South Asian man in his 30’s, with short hair. He was wearing a grey t-shirt, black jacket and black pants at the time. This witness helped the victim get his dog out of the burning house and also passed a garden hose to the victim to help fight the fire.

* The other witness is described as a woman driving by in a silver Toyota. The victim believes this witness called 9-1-1 to report the house fire.

Police investigators would like to speak with the two witnesses and are now asking them to come forward by contacting the Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550 with the file number 2015-28910.

 

 

 

Surrey partners join forces for Back to School safety

 

(PHOTOS)

 

ON Wednesday, September 9, the Surrey RCMP along with the City of Surrey, Surrey School District, ICBC, and the Surrey Crime Prevention Society participated in a public awareness event to bring attention to traffic and pedestrian safety as kids head back to school this week.

As part of the event, the “Think of Me” education and enforcement campaign was launched at Ecole Martha Currie Elementary school in Cloverdale. This campaign involves Surrey RCMP officers, handing out special handmade warnings, created by Surrey students, to drivers as a visible reminder to ‘think of me’ and drive safely. The campaign will run until September 15 at various schools across the city.

“We work closely with our community partners to ensure our roadways are safe – particularly around school zones where our youngest residents are walking and riding,” says Surrey RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann. “Most officers have a certain degree of tolerance, but school zones and playground zones are a different matter. Many of us have unfortunately seen the devastating impacts of tragic traffic collisions.”

During the 2013-2014 school year, Surrey Mounties wrote over 1,000 tickets for speeding in a school zone with over 100 of those tickets being issued during the first week of school. Statistics show that, on average, two child pedestrians aged 5 to 18 are killed and 42 are injured in car crashes in Surrey every year.

“As the largest school district in BC, Surrey has completed approximately 580 projects in the past four years to specifically improve safety in and around our schools at a cost of $12 million,” says City of Surrey Councillor Dave Woods. “As part of our Safe and Active Schools Program, we continue to review the traffic and pedestrian data around all schools to better implement educational, enforcement, and infrastructure improvements.”

“We all need to be very mindful of the fact that literally thousands of young children are on the roadsides throughout the city making their way to and from school each day through the school week,” says Surrey Board of Education chairperson Shawn Wilson. “Young children can be unpredictable and driving slowly in school zones is absolutely a must.”

“We’re encouraging parents to review the rules of the road with their children and go over their daily route to and from school,” says Karen Klein, ICBC Road Safety Coordinator. “Drivers should expect more traffic and watch for children, especially in or around school zones.”

 

 

Nathaniel David Jessup, 28, charged in connection with two attempted abductions in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

 

NATHANIEL David Jessup, 28, who was arrested on Monday by Vancouver police in connection with two attempted abductions in Stanley Park, was on Tuesday charged with two counts of assault and one count of forcible confinement.

Around 2 p.m. on Monday, a family was in the Lost Lagoon area of Stanley Park when their two-year-old girl was grabbed by a man. When the girl’s father confronted him, he let go of the girl and ran off.

Park Rangers assisted police in searching for the suspect and they spotted him in the area of Denman and Robson Street. He was ultimately arrested in the 1800-block of Alberni Street, with the assistance of a citizen.

The suspect was believed to be the same man responsible for the September 4 attempted abduction of an eight-year-old girl on the sea wall at the north end of Denman Street.

At about 8:30 a.m. on September 4, the girl was approached from behind by a man who grabbed her and attempted to drag her away. When confronted by the child’s parents, he ran off and was last seen in the area of the pedestrian underpass to Lost Lagoon. Police flooded the area and searched for the man, but couldn’t locate him.

Investigators obtained video footage of a person of interest in the case. Police believed that he was lingering in the area prior to the attack.

 

 

 

First-degree murder charges against three young males in 2014 homicide of Nicholas Hannon

 

(PHOTO)

 

NICHOLAS Hannon, 19, was last seen on February 26, 2014, by his younger brother. The next day, his abandoned vehicle was recovered in Langley from the 10400-block of McKinnon Crescent and a missing person’s investigation was launched by the Langley RCMP.

From the onset of this investigation there were key factors that raised concerns for investigators and as such the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was engaged early on to offer assistance and liaise with the Langley investigative team throughout.

In mid-April of 2014 there was enough evidence to support the theory that Hannon had met with foul play and IHIT assumed conduct of the investigation.  By September 2014 the investigation transitioned to IHIT’s Cold Case Team that pursued the case diligently.

Now, 19 months following Nicholas’ disappearance, the investigative journey has yielded three arrests and IHIT says it is hopeful that this can now assist the family begin their own journey towards the healing process.

Investigators were able to retrieve Hannon’s body.  His remains were located in a heavily wooded area in Morris Valley located in the Mission area.  An autopsy is scheduled for later this week.

Following a comprehensive arrest plan over this past long weekend IHIT, with the assistance of many partner agencies, arrested Brad Flaherty, 20, Connor Campbell, 21, and Keith Tankard, 20. All three males have been charged with first-degree murder.

“We know that Nicholas was at one point acquaintances, if not friends, with the accused men. While we cannot get into the specifics surrounding evidence or motive, it is believed that this homicide was as a result of a conflict which turned violent and deadly,” said IHIT Staff-Sgt. Jennifer Pound on Tuesday.

 

 

NDP maintains strong lead, NDP minority government in the cards

 

 

NDP – 36%, Liberals – 29%, Conservatives – 28%

 

 

IN a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll among 1,308 Canadian voters in the days immediately after the Labour Day weekend, when increased attention is paid to the federal election campaign, the NDP maintains its lead of well more than a third of voters (36% this week and last).

The Liberals (29%) and Conservatives (28%) are tied in second place.

Very few will vote Green or Bloc Quebecois (3% each) or for other parties (1%).

These findings represent a rebound for the Conservatives from last week (24%) and the week before (23%). In the same time frame, the Liberals have lost vote share (from 32% last week).

If these results are projected up to seats in the newly allocated 338 seat House, the NDP would take a minority of 139 seats, 31 fewer than required for a majority.

The Conservatives would capture 113 seats, the Liberals 85, the Greens would seat their leader and no other party would be represented.

 

* The NDP leads comfortably in BC (37%) while the Conservatives (28%) and Liberals (27%) are tied.

* In Fortress Alberta, the federal Conservatives still lead (43%) and the NDP (28%) and Liberals (25%) vie for second place.

* In the prairies, the Conservatives (35%) and the NDP (34%) are tied, and the Liberals lag (27%).

* In the crucial battleground of Ontario, the NDP has a slight lead (34%) over the Conservatives and Liberals (31% each).

* In Quebec, the NDP lead (45%), the Conservatives and Liberals are tied (22% and 21%, respectively) and the Bloc lags (10%).

* In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have regained their dominance (53%) while the NDP is in second (26%) and the Conservatives lag (18%).

 

NDP expected to win, Mulcair seen as best PM

 

In this predictive measure, one third of voters expect the NDP to win the election (33%) and this is just fewer then the proportion who will vote for them. In turn, about one quarter expect the Conservatives (26%) or Liberals (24%) to be triumphant.

Tom Mulcair is seen to make the best Prime Minister (31%), but Stephen Harper has recovered ground on this measure and is not far behind (25%). Justin Trudeau lags (22%).

 

 

Conservative, NDP majorities are desired outcomes

 

One fifth of voters would like to see either a Conservative or an NDP majority (20% each), while just fewer would like to see an NDP-Liberal coalition (15%) or a Liberal majority (14%). Half these proportions will entertain Conservative or NDP minorities (8% each) or a Liberal minority (7%).

“After a surge of enthusiasm for the two opposition parties last week, and a bad week for the government, it appears voters are reconsidering their options. It may be that underlying opposition to accepting Syrian refugees has led to increased support for the Conservatives. This is a very volatile electorate, as we have seen, and there is more than a normal election’s worth of campaigning left to go, so any number of things could happen,” said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harper renews support for Kanishka Project on 14th anniversary of 9/11

 

PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Friday commemorated the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and in particular the 24 Canadians who died that day.

“The murder of 24 Canadians at the World Trade Center during 9/11, the Air India bombing in 1985, and the callous attacks on two Canadians right here last year all serve to remind us that Canada is not immune to terrorist threats,” Harper said.  “When we stand together against terrorism, we stand in support of Canadian values of freedom, democracy and pluralism, and in defence of our way of life.”

Harper marked the anniversary by committing to renew the Kanishka Project for five years with an investment of $10 million. The Kanishka Project was named in recognition of the 1985 Air India bombing and established in 2011 to counter terrorism and radicalization in Canada through research and education.

(Harper, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also issued separate statements on 9/11.)

The Prime Minister also outlined his Conservative Government’s record on combatting terrorism and reiterated his commitment to build on this record through new initiatives to create banned travel zones to stop foreign fighters, to fight violent radicalization at home, and to provide additional support for religious minorities and refugees in the Middle East.

In 2013, there were almost 10,000 terrorist incidents reported in 93 countries.

In 2014, the Government was aware of 80 individuals who had returned to Canada after engaging in terrorist activities and training.

Canada joined the global coalition against ISIS led by US President Obama in 2014. Other members of the military mission include Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Denmark, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and a number of other Middle Eastern countries.

As a result of the coalition’s military intervention, ISIS has lost a quarter of the territory it previously controlled.

The Harper Government has introduced and enacted a series of counter terrorism initiatives at home to stem the flow of foreign fighters and to prevent their travel to ISIS-controlled regions and back to Canada, to stop terrorist recruitment and financing, and to provide law enforcement with additional powers to investigate and disrupt terrorist plots.

“We know the measures we have taken are necessary precisely because they are working,” Harper said. “Canadian authorities have stopped would-be terrorists from travelling overseas to join ISIS, and have arrested and charged suspects plotting to commit terrorist acts in Canada.  Unlike Justin Trudeau and the NDP, only a Conservative government recognizes that the terrorist threat is real and is prepared to take the difficult decisions necessary to protect Canadians.”

 

 

 

 

 

Trudeau says he’ll outdo NDP in investing in jobs for young Canadians

 

A Liberal government will invest in young Canadians to help them gain the skills and work experience they need to succeed and contribute to our economy, said the Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau on Friday.

“During the Harper decade, thousands of young Canadians remain unemployed or underemployed, and opportunities are so scarce that many have stopped looking for work altogether,” said Trudeau. “This lack of job opportunities places a heavy burden on young Canadians and their parents. It is time to invest in our shared future, and that means investing in young Canadians.”

A Liberal government will invest $1.3 billion over three years – 13 times more than the NDP – to, among other things:

* Create 40,000 youth jobs each year for the next three years through a new, annual investment of $300 million in a renewed Youth Employment Strategy;

* Create 5,000 new green jobs for youth, as part of the renewed Youth Employment Strategy, by hiring more guides, interpreters, and other staff at Parks Canada, as well as partnering with environmental organizations to create programs that help young people tackle environmental challenges while gaining valuable work experience;

* Invest $40 million annually to help employers create new co-op placements for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business students; and

* Restore a modernized Youth Service Program, providing $25 million per year to help young Canadians gain valuable work and life experience while travelling the country, participating in community building projects.

“Under Harper, a shortage of good youth jobs has become the new normal. There are 170,000 fewer young people in the workforce now than before the 2008 recession, and too many parents are feeling the financial strain, forcing many to dip into their own retirement savings, or put off retiring altogether,” said Trudeau. “When it comes to helping young people launch their adult lives and enter the workforce, we can and must do better. Only Liberals have the plan and the team to give everyone a real and fair chance at success.”

 

 

 

 

Mulcair to create opportunities for 40,000 youth

 

 

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair announced his plan to create over 40,000 youth jobs, paid internships and coop placements over four years, through a new initiative laid out on Thursday.

“There are over 60,000 fewer jobs for youth today than when [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper first took office and the number of young Canadians unemployed for more than a year has tripled. We must do better,” said Mulcair. “The NDP’s concrete plan will connect 40,000 youth with NGOs and private sector opportunities, once fully implemented, to create good jobs and give young people the experience and advanced skills needed to get working and stay working.”

New Democrats will:

* In partnership with small business, industry, NGOs and government, help 40,000 young Canadians get jobs, paid internship or coop placements;

* Create apprenticeship spaces through federal infrastructure projects, in federally regulated airports or Port Authorities, and with crown corporations, while establishing firm apprenticeship ratios;

* Partner with municipalities and Indigenous governments to hire apprentices for infrastructure projects; and

* Protect the safety of young workers and crack down on the use of unpaid internships.

The initiatives are fully costed and will appear in the NDP’s balanced platform.

“After Stephen Harper’s lost decade, I want to build a Canada where every young person gets the opportunities they need for a good start to their career,” said Mulcair “We haven’t even reached election day and Justin Trudeau has already abandoned his principles on C-51, balanced budgets and a $15/hour minimum wage. What principles will he abandon after Election Day? Canadians can’t trust [Liberal Party Leader] Justin Trudeau to tackle the challenges facing Canadian youth.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trudeau promises affordable housing for Canadians

 

LIBERALS will invest in the middle class and those working hard to join it by making it easier to find an affordable place to call home, said Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau on Wednesday.

“Safe, adequate, and affordable housing is essential to building strong families, strong communities, and a strong economy,” said Trudeau. “We have a plan to make housing more affordable for those who need it most – seniors, persons with disabilities, lower-income families, and Canadians working hard to join the middle class.”

A Liberal government will restore federal leadership on affordable housing by investing in a comprehensive National Housing Strategy that will:

* Prioritize significant new investments in affordable housing and seniors’ facilities, as part of the Liberals’ historic ten-year investment of nearly $20 billion in social infrastructure;

* Provide $125 million per year in tax incentives to increase and substantially renovate the supply of rental housing across Canada;

* Finance the construction of new, affordable rental housing for middle- and low-income Canadians;

* Inventory all available federal lands and buildings to see what could be repurposed, and make it available at low cost for affordable housing in communities where there is a pressing need;

* Modernize the existing Home Buyers’ Plan so that it helps more Canadians finance the purchase of a home; and

* Review escalating home prices in high-priced markets – like Vancouver and Toronto – to keep home ownership within reach for Canadians living in these areas.

“While Canadians struggle to make ends meet, [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper gives billions to the wealthiest few. [NDP Leader Tom] Mulcair irresponsibly supports Harper’s plan to give more money to millionaires and will make major cuts to public services,” said Trudeau. “Only Liberals have a plan to put more money in families’ pockets to help with the high cost of raising their kids, and by investing in the social infrastructure that gives all Canadians a real and fair chance at success.”

 

 

Mulcair announces auto-sector jobs strategy

 

 

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair announced his comprehensive plan to protect and create jobs in Canada’s auto sector, while at a campaign stop in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on Wednesday.

“After Stephen Harper’s lost decade for manufacturing and a growing automotive trade deficit, our concrete plan will get the sector on track,” said Mulcair. “Last year, $24 billion was invested globally in auto assembly capacity and do you know how much Stephen Harper attracted? Not one dollar. Zero.”

Mulcair’s plan will:

* Improve financial incentives for automakers and parts suppliers in exchange for firm commitments on jobs and investment.

* Make it easier for automakers to set up operations in Canada with ICanada, a one-stop shop inside the federal government

* Support research and innovation in the auto sector including immediate funding renewal for the University of Windsor’s Auto21 Network of Centres of Excellence.

“I will be a champion for the auto sector and will work closely with automakers and provinces to attract investment in automobile assembly and parts manufacturing,” said Mulcair. “With a reliable partner in an NDP government, I believe the best days are ahead for Canada’s automakers – together we can kick-start manufacturing.”

A Mulcair government will further protect Canadian auto jobs by defending existing regional content rules in trade negotiations, and will convene an auto summit with provincial, municipal, industry and labour leaders within 100 days of taking office, to develop a consensus for a National Automotive Strategy.

 

 

 

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces payroll tax cut for Canadian workers and businesses

 

PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday announced that a re-elected Conservative government will cut payroll taxes by over 20 percent in 2017 and protect Canadian jobs from the “dangerous” Employment Insurance and CPP tax hikes promised by both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, as part of a discussion on the Conservative Party’s low-tax plan for jobs and growth with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“By dramatically reducing payroll taxes, Canadian workers will see their take-home pay increase and businesses – especially small businesses – will be able to create new jobs and invest in their current employees,” Harper said. “Our Conservative government has a proven record of reducing taxes on hardworking Canadians and job-creating businesses, and we have a plan to go further.”

Thanks to the Harper Government, Canadian workers and businesses are enjoying the lowest federal tax burden in more than 50 years.  As a result, Canadians’ take-home pay is higher, businesses are able to invest in new products and personnel, and Canada’s economy can grow and move forward despite global economic instability, said Harper.

Payroll taxes under Harper are low and 780,000 job-creating small businesses have been benefitting from the Small Business Job Credit, which has reduced their Employment Insurance payroll costs by 15% since January 1, 2015. Harper’s plan would see the Employment Insurance premium rate drop from $1.88 per $100 in 2016 to an estimated $1.49 per $100 in 2017, resulting in real, substantial savings for Canadians.

“Approximately 16 million working Canadians will see the benefits of this rate reduction on each and every paycheque,” Harper said.  “Put simply, our plan will cut taxes on working Canadians and keep them low.”

Harper also reiterated that a re-elected Conservative government would not raise CPP payroll taxes.  “CPP payroll tax increases would hurt middle-class Canadian families, leaving them with less money every month,” said Harper. “While the other parties are promising big CPP tax hikes, we have been clear that we will never raise payroll taxes.”

He added: “Justin’s promise to hike payroll taxes across the country puts Canadian jobs at risk and shows that he is not ready to handle Canada’s economy. Mulcair and the NDP have repeatedly pushed their plan to hike taxes and pile on debt, which will create economic chaos nationally and cost Canadian workers money and their jobs. Our low-tax plan is helping create jobs and move Canada’s economy forward.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harper announces further support for people with disabilities

 

 

PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Monday announced new measures to support Canadians with disabilities.

He said that a re-elected Conservative government would increase the maximum annual Canada Disability Savings Grant for low- and middle-class families from $3,500 to $4,000.  This means that these families will now receive a grant of $4 for every $1 dollar contributed on the first $500 they contribute to their Registered Disability Savings Plans each year.  This initiative is expected to cost the federal government $35 million per year.

The Harper Government established Registered Disability Savings Plans in 2008, thanks to the vision of the late Jim Flaherty. These plans allow parents and the families of children with disabilities, and those children themselves as they grow up, to set aside money for the future in an account where it can grow with them, tax-free, until it’s needed.

A re-elected Harper Government will also continue to work with the provinces and Canada’s financial institutions to improve the administration of the RDSP program, and to expand the range of investment options for RDSP holders.

Canadians have opened more than 100,000 Registered Disability Savings Plans since 2008. And, through the Canada Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disability Savings Bond programs, the Harper Government has added more than $1 billion to their savings.

“Registered Disability Savings Plans help those who need financial security the most to generate significant savings,” said Harper. “And I believe that people with disabilities and their families know best how to use those savings to secure their futures.”

Harper noted that Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair have no interest in assisting these Canadians to save for the future. “Justin wants to reverse our tax-free savings account contribution limits because he needs those tax revenues from Canadians who are working hard to save for the future in order to support his expensive spending plans now.”

“Mulcair’s NDP,” Harper said, “would rather deliver expensive, bureaucratic programs from Ottawa. Those programs will always be subject to budget uncertainties, leaving families with no assurance around how their loved ones will be cared for in the years ahead.”

The Prime Minister’s commitment to helping these families save would provide that certainty.

“When the future is financially secure for every member of a family,” Harper pointed out, “families can focus on the important things that matter in the present.”

 

 

 

 

Liberals announce Employment Insurance that works for Canadians, strengthens economy

 

A Liberal government will enhance the Employment Insurance system to strengthen our economy and ensure it is there for Canadian workers when they really need it, said Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.

“During challenging economic times, Canadians rely on Employment Insurance to help them get back on their feet, and to help our economy recover from downturns,” said Trudeau. “Under the Harper Conservatives, unemployed workers have been forced to move away from their families and communities, and take lower-paying jobs. We will repeal these ill-conceived changes, and introduce reliable Employment Insurance that is there for Canadians, and helps boost our country’s economic growth, now and in the future.”

A Liberal government will enhance Canada’s Employment Insurance system by:

* Reducing the waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits to one week from the current two weeks, and by ensuring higher service standards for Employment Insurance processing so that benefits are delivered more quickly and reliably;

* Ending the 910-hour eligibility penalty for workers entering or re-entering the workforce, thereby stopping the discrimination that makes it harder for our most precarious workers – such as parents returning to the workforce, younger workers, people who have left the workforce due to illness, and new Canadians – from accessing the benefits that help them get back to work;

* Increasing investment in skills training, through a $500 million annual increase in funding to the Labour Market Development Agreements with provinces. We will work with provinces and territories to ensure that these new funds support their training priorities, support initiatives that demonstrate real pathways to good quality jobs, and develop the skills that employers need to grow our economy;

* Introducing more flexible parental leave and compassionate care benefits that allow people to use their benefits in a way that works best for their families; and

* Working with the provinces and territories to assess how successfully Employment Insurance is delivering its core mandate to provide income security to workers, and how it can be improved.

“While the Conservatives give billions in benefits to the wealthiest few, and the NDP irresponsibly supports Harper’s plan, we will deliver real change so all Canadians can succeed,” said Trudeau. “After a decade of Stephen Harper, only Liberals are offering new leadership and a new plan that will make a positive difference for all Canadians.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Mulcair announces National Aerospace Plan, champions Canadian aerospace jobs and growth

 

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair unveiled his Campaign for Change plane in Montreal on Tuesday and announced his plan for a national approach to boost aerospace innovation and manufacturing. After Stephen Harper’s lost decade, the NDP will provide sustainable, long-term support for Canada’s aerospace industry, said Mulcair.

“Aerospace is an important part of our economy, yet at the most recent Paris Air Show not a single Conservative minister bothered to show up to promote Canada,” he said. “When Boeing wants to sell jets to China, [U.S.] President [Barack] Obama goes to China to help Boeing sell jets. What a difference that makes – it provides leadership and confidence.”

The NDP aerospace plan is based on consultation with the industry and will help Canadian space companies to commercialize new technologies; support creation of a world-class aerospace supply-chain; and create a new Aerospace Advanced Manufacturing Fund aimed at aerospace SMEs. The Fund will allow smaller firms to adopt advanced technologies, automate and scale-up production to compete globally and create jobs.

“Canadian aerospace innovators and manufacturers need a Prime Minister in Ottawa who will be a champion for them on the world stage. I will be that champion,” said Mulcair. “Aerospace jobs are good, manufacturing jobs that can support a family. That’s my priority.”

The NDP said it has the plan and the experienced team to create opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses across Canada’s aerospace sector.

 

 

 

Harper announces further support for families saving for their children’s education

 

PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday announced that a re-elected Conservative government would double the annual matching grants provided to low- and middle-income families through Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) to help hardworking families save for their children’s post-secondary education.

“Our government has consistently lowered taxes and enhanced benefits for Canadian families,” said Harper. “Leaving more money in the pockets of Canadian families allows them to pay their mortgage, prepare for retirement and save for their children’s post-secondary education.”

Harper said his Conservative government has provided significant support to help families save for their children’s future education and cover post-secondary costs, including establishing the Canada Student Grants, reforming the Canada Student Loan Program and providing tax relief for scholarship funding and textbooks. Canada now places at the top of the OECD rankings in terms of post-secondary educational attainment, in part due to the Harper Government’s financial support for students.

“I know that Canadian families work hard to save for their children’s post-secondary education in order to give them the best opportunities in life”, said Harper. “It’s a major investment in the future and our government has been there to lend a helping hand.”

He noted that a re-elected Conservative government would do more to help families save for their children’s post-secondary education. In particular, a re-elected Conservative government would double the targeted Canada Education Savings Grants – the grants provided to low- and middle-income families through RESPs – by doubling the matching federal contributions for middle-income families from 10 cents to 20 cents per dollar on the first $500 contributed each year, and from 20 cents to 40 cents per dollar on the first $500 contributed each year for lower-income families.

“Doubling the matching federal contribution for low- and middle-income students with Registered Education Savings Plans will provide meaningful assistance to these families as they save for their child’s future,” he said.

Harper noted that Federal Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair’s NDP would raise taxes, reduce families’ take-home pay, and ultimately leave less money in Canadians’ pockets to save for important things like college or university.

“The choice is clear”, he said. “You have the Liberals and NDP who would raise taxes and leave families with less take-home pay, or our proven record of sound economic management and support for families who are saving for their children’s futures.”

 

 

 

Liberals cut benefits and raided $50 billion from EI fund and Trudeau says this was right: NDP

 

THE federal NDP said on Tuesday that from 1993 to 2006 the Federal Liberals raided more than $50 billion from the EI fund and radically reduced benefits.

This was money collected from workers and companies, which was supposed to be used to protect workers and their families, used instead to cut corporate taxes.

In fact, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Liberals broke the law when they reduced EI rates without authorization from Parliament.

Liberal record:

* Access rates fell dramatically during the 1990s from 80 % of unemployed Canadians being covered in the late 1980s to the present 40 %. Fewer and fewer unemployed Canadians qualified for EI.

* Liberals drastically cut insurable earnings from $845 to $750, meaning workers faced a steep drop in benefits if after they lost their jobs.

* The Liberals nearly doubled from 400 to 700 hours the amount of time workers had to accumulate in order to qualify for EI (Lop, 1999).

What does Trudeau say about Paul Martin’s cuts? Trudeau said they “were the right decisions.”

While Trudeau is now making new promises to workers, his fiscal plan includes tens of billions in deficits – and billions in budget cuts in his last year.

Canadians have every reason to be skeptical of Liberals coming bearing gifts – while also having large holes in their fiscal costing, the NDP said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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