Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Demo

Hi all. These last few days have been busy what with the Throne Speech coming out. I find it amusing that "throne" is a euphamism for "toilet" but maybe that's just a lack of sleep.

Please consider attending the following event - I can't go as I am teaching classes.

From: Anne Robichaud [NBFL/FTTNB] []
Sent: November 28, 2007 9:56 AM
To: Anne Robichaud
Subject: Demonstration

Sisters and Brothers;

I am sending this message on behalf of CEP Local 689 of UPM in Miramichi.

They are organizing a demonstration in front of the Legislature this Friday at 10 a.m. They want the Department of Natural Resources to make a commitment to keep the harvested wood in the province.

They are asking for your support. Please join them this Friday [30 Nov.]and please pass on this message to your members.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Self-Sufficiency and the Status Quo

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I sent this to the Telegraph Journal but thay haven't published it yet. Given today is the day for Graham's Throne speech, and his government's attitude toward UNBSJ, I thought I'd get it off my chest.

*Note: an edited version of this letter has since been published in the Tuesday, December 4th, edition of the Telegraph Journal, page A4.

I understand that the PSE Commission’s Report is just a report, and that while it has been received by the government, that does not mean that it has become government policy.

That said, please forgive me for being less-than-enthusiastic when Minister Doherty ‘appreciates’ all our hard work to defend the rights of southern New Brunswickers to have access to a university education, and even graces us with his assurance that there will remain a “university presence” in Saint John. (I can name my cat, “Dog” and invite you to my house to see a Dog, but it will still be a cat nonetheless.)

I am perplexed however at the continuous battle cry that “the status quo is not an option.” Apparently it is obvious to many that we can’t do things the same way.

Here’s what we were doing at UNBSJ, at least until this over-priced and ill-conceived report came in.

We were giving students an excellent education that was leading many of them to successful employment in a shifting economy. We were leading the charge on internationalizing our campus, thereby contributing to immigration and global diversity in southern New Brunswick. We were actively engaged in research that was useful to industry, the government, non-governmental organizations, and to academics. We, both faculty and students, were participating in community events, sharing our skills and interests throughout the region. We were leading the charge for transfer credits across similar institutions (both national and international) and between institutions of different types (e.g., combined university and college programs). We were efficient, because this was all done on a shoestring budget.

If my understanding of the self-sufficiency agenda is correct, isn’t what we were doing exactly what we should be doing? Perhaps what the government should realize is that UNBSJ’s status quo is exactly the option we want.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fundy Royal NDP congratulates distinguished MP's

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The Fundy Royal NDP Riding Association would like to acknowledge the accomplishments of Bill Blaikie, the soon-to-be retiring NDP MP from Elmwood-Transcona (Manitoba). Mr. Blaikie has been voted by members in the house as the "Best Parliamentarian" for the second year in a row in an annual MacLean's Magazine survey. In addition to this, Mr. Joe Comartin, NDP MP for Windsor—Tecumseh has been acknowledged as the "Most Knowledgeable" Member of Parliament, Mr. Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins—James Bay was deemed to be the "Most Helpful", and Mr. Peter Stoffer, NDP MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore was selected as "Most Collegial". Mr. Comartin is in fact featured a few posts down in this blog, in a YouTube video from CBC's Politics With Don Newman, addressing the issue of youth crime against our own MP, Rob Moore (CPC), and we invite you to watch this video.

The fact that four of the six awards went to NDP MP's shows the commitment that our party representatives have in doing the job that we, the citizens, have sent them to perform. It is even more remarkable that the NDP received such praise from the 151 respondents, when there are currently 30 NDP MP's in the 308 Member House. This demonstrates the level of respect that the NDP has earned from its colleagues in other parties.

The members of the Fundy Royal Riding Association fully believe that Fundy Royal deserves representation worthy of its people. As Mr. Blaikie rightly states in the MacLean's interview, "They don't elect you so you can be in every event in the riding. They elect you to go to Parliament. This is where you punch in."

It is about time that Fundy Royal got its 'punch in' in Ottawa, as our voices are not being heard under the current Conservative government. We are confident that Rob Moir will follow in the examples provided by Mr. Blaikie, Mr. Comartin, Mr. Angus, and Mr. Stoffer when he is elected as the NDP MP in Fundy Royal.

Fundy Royal NDP Executive

Ask Questions

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The following is an e-mail I recently sent out, asking about the federal government's decision to only do a limited Environmental Assessment of the proposed refinery. Given wind patterns, much of Fundy Royal will be subject to emissions. Even the City of Moncton has come out against this project. Mr. Coulter and Mr. Jeffrey both work in Environment Canada - Atlantic Branch.

Dear Mr. Coulter and Mr. Jeffrey;

Recently Federal Environment Minister, John Baird, decided that only the marine portion of the proposed oil refinery in Saint John, NB (aka "Project Eider Rock") would be subject to a Federal Review.

A number of people have asked for a Full Federal Panel Review of the entire operations of the proposed refinery. A A US House of Representatives Report on oil refineries identifies toxic air emissions of benzene, xylenes, methyl ethyl ketone, toluene, ethylbenzene, 2,2,4-trimethylpentane, hexane, cresols, MTBE, napthalene, and phenol, many of which are listed by Environment Canada on PSL1 and on PSL2. Likewise, particulate matter (PM) is emitted from oil refineries and makes PSL2. Of course, there are also VOCs, SOx, NOx, and greenhouse gases all of which are of significant environmental concern because of both ecosystem and human health effects.

I visted the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's website and read through the document "How to Determine if the Act Applies" . Perhaps it is my lack of familiarity with the legislation, but I fail to see how Minister Baird could decide to call for anything less than a Review Panel.

Can either of you explain to me the reasoning that was used, when Minister Baird decided to limit the Federal government's involvement? Has he outlined his case, or is this the sort of decision left to the Minister's discretion?

I thank you in advance for your prompt reply.

Rob Moir

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dark Day for Canada

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I'm finding it hard to find hope these days.

Mr. Harper went to the Commonwealth meetings and yet again ignored the importance of climate change, obviously choosing to remain a relative of the 'Albertosaurus'. His representative in Fundy Royal, MP Rob Moore, seems to be lock-step with his leader as he squirms to find ways to avoid funding the restoration of the Petitcodiac. Likewise, John Baird (Minister of the Environment) has followed Mr. Harper's orders and rejected all calls for a Full Federal Panel Review of the impacts of the first new oil refinery in North America in 25 years ; see the Harvard Medical School's report to find out the full range of cancers caused by oil refineries, and recall that the prevailing winds will bring emissions across Fundy Royal.

The recent IPCC report clearly indicates scientific consensus over climate change and global warming. It's not the environmentalists, nor the NDP, nor the Liberals, nor Mr. Harper that form this reality ... no matter who [de]cries the case publicly.

Mr. Harper's only support in the anti-global warming cause is George W. Bush, now that Australian voters have seen the (compact flourescent) light and elected Labour leader Kevin Rudd as their new Prime Minister .

I'm teaching an Environmental Economics class this term, which I really enjoy. My students and I, however, have become jointly depressed over the possibilities of Canada to find a solution to our pollution woes. In my opinion, we should declare waste (or waste disposal services) to be a tradeable good, as this would require us to acknowledge the leakage of air pollution across provincial and international boundaries as a matter of federal concern and thus federal jurisdiction. At the same time, we HAVE to increase the public demand for a cleaner environment.

Without a change in the political regime, without a change in the fundamental realities underlying economics, I believe our future (not to mention the futures of our children and grandchildren) looks pretty bleak.

Do I think there's time? Yes! There's time to change your vote and there's time to change your footprint.

Please get started now!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Moore Blocks River Restoration

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This appeared in the Moncton Times & Transcript (23 November 2007, D10)

I was excited to hear that the province has finally decided to go ahead and start work on restoring the Petitcodiac River to some of its former glory.

Sadly, it is the federal government that seems to want to hold up funding. As a resident in Fundy Royal, I was particularly dismayed to hear on CBC that MP Rob Moore may be part of the problem. Apparently his office is too busy to deal with the issue right now, according to the CBC report.

Mr. Moore was elected to represent all of the riding. The majority of the people in the area have spoken quite clearly on this issue and state that they want a restoration project to begin as soon as possible. The province has backed the issue.

It seems that Rob Moore is the only politician who has not come onside. Then again, Rob Moore is Mr. Harper's representative in Fundy Royal (and I always thought he was Fundy Royal's representative in Ottawa).

I guess that since Mr. Harper fails to find the environment a pressing issue in Canada, it is no surprise that Rob Moore sings the same tune in New Brunswick.

Rob Moir
Clifton Royal

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Letter Exchange

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The following 3 letters appeared in the Telegraph Journal. They highlight an important and fundamental difference in opinion regarding taxes. I see the taxes I pay as money the government can invest in Canada and Canadians. Others see taxes as just spending. What's your opinion?

Tax cuts will cause programs to suffer (TJ, 2 Nov.)

I teach economics at UNBSJ. In my courses, I use a smattering of Latin, including the phrase ceteris paribus - all other things being equal. Mr. Harper's tax-break treat is good for Canadians, ceteris paribus.

My problem is that all other things are not equal - the trick follows the treat. When Mr. Harper's government could still be called "new" they made significant tax cuts.

Months later we saw the "benefits" accruing from tax cuts: under-funded day care, dangerous overpasses, decreased funding for literacy (especially important in New Brunswick if we care about self-sufficiency), decreased funding for women's groups, decreased funding for environmental groups, a student summer work program in virtual collapse, nothing but political spin on issues of climate change, and a new equalization package that will cost New Brunswickers $1.1 billion, according to the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

I am in complete agreement with letter-writer David Beaudin (Telegraph-Journal, Nov. 1). We don't necessarily need tax cuts. What we need is a government that takes our taxes, treats them as an investment in our country, and then makes wise investment decisions that benefit all Canadians.

Clifton Royal

Tax cuts are the way to go (TJ, 6 Nov.)

I cannot allow Rob Moir's letter of Nov. 2 to go unchallenged.

He advocates against tax cuts on the idea that - (and I paraphrase) - 'government should take our taxes and make wise decisions that benefit all Canadians.' That is just another way of pushing the old socialist propaganda that government knows best how to spend taxpayers' hard earned money.

The fact is, whatever the government, the more money they have, the more they waste. If my money is to be wasted then I would like to do it myself.

Of course tax cuts are the way to go. Surpluses just mean that taxes are too high.

Thank goodness, after decades of tax and spend, we at last have a government that is prepared to return the money where it belongs, back to the taxpayer, with large amounts being used to reduce the debt that previous governments burdened us with.

As for the 'cuts' he mentions: in many cases more money is actually being spent on many of the causes, it is just not being spent on unnecessary offices and activists but on the real people in need. How overpasses suddenly became dangerous because of a tax cut I cannot imagine. Climate change? Well, the previous government signed Kyoto and then did absolutely nothing to follow through. Is that a better solution?

Saint John

Be wary of what follows tax cuts (15 Nov.)

I feel I should respond to Mr. Stone's letter (Nov. 6) as I believe he misread the intent of my piece.

I am not against tax cuts per se, and he may note that I actually suggest tax cuts in a Commentary article (Oct. 26). Nevertheless, we should be wary of what typically follows tax cuts.

Tax cuts combined with decreased investment in programs and infrastructure also lead to large surpluses.

Large surpluses on their own are not necessarily indicative of over taxation - they may represent under investment.

I do not rely on my own opinion as a source for this policy advice. The "Father of Capitalism," Adam Smith, recognized the need for a "sovereign" or government to co-ordinate investment in public projects for which the returns to an individual are too small, but the returns to society are large enough to warrant investment. Our transportation network is one such investment; investment in literacy, which promotes future business location in New Brunswick, is another.

My point isn't that we need to increase, decrease, or even maintain taxes, but rather we should be careful what such tax cuts lead to.

Ultimately we should demand that our government wisely invest our taxes to the betterment of our country. If the government cannot find wise investment opportunities, then it should rightfully return the money to Canadians.

Clifton Royal

Youth Crime

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This Letter appeared in yesterday's Telegraph Journal. Mr. Moore's silence on the tragic death of Ashley Smith - a young NB woman who needed help, not incarceration - is distressing. Then, on Monday (Nov. 19), Mr. Moore was called-out by Don Newman on CBC Newsworld's "Politics". You can watch this video below.

If Mr. Harper's new youth crime bill is meant to "deter and denounce." Don Newman asks, who does the denouncing? Maybe one day we'll need to create an overpaid position for the "official denunciator" who will undoubtedly need a large office to prepare numerous denunciations.

Uncivilized to put youth behind bars

Rob Linke's article "Teen denied legal help" (Nov. 15) states that the testimony provided in the Ashley Smith case "elicited little comment" from Fundy Royal Conservative MP Rob Moore.

It seems that Moore is now willing to talk, and he did so on Monday night's edition of Politics with Don Newman on CBC. In speaking about potential Conservative amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, Moore lauded the benefits of "deterrence and denunciation" in the sentencing of youth criminals.

The essence of his beliefs were very clear: he believes that youth belong behind bars to "pay" for their crimes.

I would suggest that Moore tell the family of Ashley Smith about the "benefits" of excessive sentences for youth criminals, and respond to the proven negative impacts that incarceration has on troubled and developing young minds.

It is frightening that our federal representative can be so out of touch with the values of Canadians that he can support such draconian policy changes to a system that is supposedly designed to protect and rehabilitate our most vulnerable youth.

The Conservative position supported by Rob Moore is a shameful assault on the very foundations of what makes Canada a so-called "civilized" country.


Golden Grove

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Meeting the Provincial Leader

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Today was a bit of a family day. Megan, Sam, Gwyneth and I welcomed Santa to town in Saint John. Generally things were quite joyous. I noticed that people were oddly quiet as the Irving Oil float went by. I was a bit put off when a church Christmas float went by with the message, "Support Our Troops." It just seems out of place when we are celebrating a birthday for the Prince of Peace.

Later I went to a meet & greet for the recently elected leader for the NB NDP - Roger Dugay ( A fair number of people were there. What struck me most was the age range - from highschool students to, shall we say, LONG time supporters. It was great to see the conversations that got started and the strategies developed. There's a real hunger out there for a party that represents PEOPLE and COMMUNITY. We're contemplating doing a leader's tour in Fundy Royal. Let me know your thoughts on this.

Now it's time to answer e-mails and hit the sack because I have to be up early to turn on the heat and clean up the church for a function tomorrow.

More on Afghanistan

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Today we were told of the deaths of two more Canadian soldiers and their interpreter in Afghanistan. Three other Canadian soldiers were injured. Please spare a few moments to think of their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families. Think of the sacrifice made by all the people - civilian and combatants - involved in this war. If you pray, please pray for a peaceful end to this conflict soon.

See link to CBC article here

Photo from CBC
(Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thinking about Afghanistan

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I sent this in as a reply to a commentary on CBC. I don't believe they read it on air.

Let me preface my reply with the comment that I deeply respect the men and women who, at the request of their government and by proxy their country, are serving in Afghanistan.

That said, I question our government’s justification for the mission.

First, the government justifies the mission using the words spoken by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on his visit to Canada. Access to Information has undeniably shown that President Karai’s speech was drafted by the Department of National Defence. While President Karzai said the words, the Department of National Defence put them in his mouth.

Second, the government regularly tells us of the horrid living conditions in Afghanistan. I do not doubt that this is the case; in fact, it is part of the reason I am working with a group to sponsor a family of Afghan refugees. Still, I question the altruism our government is trying to display when they justify the mission in this manner.

Within Canada, First Nations people live in Third World conditions on reserves. There’s a lack of access to clean drinking water, severely substandard housing, limited access to healthcare, chronic unemployment, limited educational opportunities, and extremely high suicide rates especially among young people. This is clear evidence of severe and systemic poverty.

If the motives for the mission were really altruistic, then surely the government of Canada would send our provincial reconstruction teams to the reserves to help out. Surely the Canadian government would be willing to spend something close to the $7.2 billion that we have already devoted to the military mission in Afghanistan. Even if Canada spent the $3.3 billion of the estimated incremental military cost of the Afghan mission, we would at least start addressing this problem occurring within our own country. In contrast, meeting the Kelowna Accord commitments would have cost about $5 billion and our Federal budget surplus this year will be close to $10 billion.

Unfortunately our government fails to see the hypocrisy in their message. When First Nations people rise up in protest, our government fights back rather than engage in meaningful discussion. We would not accept an occupying force entering Canada to deal with this injustice but our government argues that this is specifically what we must do in Afghanistan in the name of justice.

I, for one, cannot reconcile our position in Afghanistan as being purely altruistic as my government keeps trying to tell me. What then are the real reasons we are in Afghanistan?