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March

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    MPlib
    Met this morning in Surrey area with a passionate group known as Equitas - fighting for the legal rights of wounded soldiers. Equitas is quite right to say HarperCons are dead wrong in asserting the federal government owes no special duty to war veterans.
    Mar 12, 2014 2:22 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Good morning from White Rock, BC - great townhall last night about how to trigger more Canadian economic growth. Common agreement that an austerity plan won't work - need to invest in underpinnings of growth like Infrastructure + Post-Secondary Education.
    Mar 12, 2014 8:28 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    CP RAIL SAYS THERE'S NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT! Over the past several weeks, I've frequently called on the Harper government to take emergency action to ease this winter's massive backlog in grain transportation and to strengthen the system for the future so this problem is less likely to happen again. Premier Wall, his government, the entire Saskatchewan Legislature, every farm organization in western Canada, and virtually every shipper of every other commodity have all said much the same thing. The western grain handling and transportation system has failed to perform at an adequate level. Through its painful shortcomings, that system is effectively saying to farmers ... "don't you dare produce a better than average crop because we can't handle it and the consequences will all fall on your shoulders." Surely that's unacceptable. All the pressure seems to have hurt some feelings over at CP Rail. Last Friday, one of their corporate Vice-Presidents launched a nasty attack against me personally on the iPolitics news site. Fine. Withstanding such abuse goes with the territory. But let's look closely at his argument. He repeated for the umpteenth time the same old excuses that last year's crop was a big one and this winter's weather has been harsh. Those two things, according to CP Rail, absolve them of all responsibility. There was not a hint of contrition in the railway's argument. In their opinion, their performance has been blameless. (Not even Gerry Ritz believes that anymore.) The vice-president didn't mention the totally non-competitive nature of Canada's railway duopoly which holds virtually every shipper as captive, preventing any effective functioning of normal market principles. He failed to mention the recent federal "Rail Service Review", which was hand-picked by the Harper Conservatives to study rail service issues. Their report in 2011 found that the rail transportation playing-field was heavily tilted in favour of the railways, that railways were in a position to exercise undue market power, that shippers typically got the services they ordered from the railways only about 50% of the time, that shippers were largely without effective competitive alternatives and had no legal recourse when the system failed. The vice-president failed to mention that CP Rail has actually reduced its train crews, rolling stock and locomotive power. He failed to mention the company's ownership now in the hands of particularly aggressive investors who recently turfed CP Rail's previous management and installed new people dedicated to enhanced shareholder gains above all else. There was no indication of where "customer service" might actually fit into their scheme of things. He basically said the only solution for farmers is just "wait for spring". The vice-president did offer one useful insight however. In trying to shift blame onto those who load railcars at prairie delivery points or those who unload them at port locations, he depicted a system that's essentially a chaotic free-for-all without common-sense coordination, transparency or commercial accountability. And that's exactly how the Harper government designed it. Looking to the future, it seems clear that CP Rail will continue to oppose "service level agreements" that might implement clear, measurable and enforceable railway performance standards. I'll let farmers and other shippers judge whether that's good enough for them.
    Mar 10, 2014 11:59 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    This weekend: As Ukraine struggles for democracy, the world celebrates the 200th anniversary of "people's poet" Taras Shevchenko
    Mar 09, 2014 6:02 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    When I fight for better rail service for farmers, I'm always faced with two predictable opponents, the Harper govt + CP Rail. The HarperCons sat on their hands as a crisis grew for 5 costly months, while CP Rail claims its wrong to ask them to do better. And they both say: Don't even think of putting teeth in Rail Service laws that might actually create enforceable obligations.
    Mar 08, 2014 4:48 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Our excellent Paralympic Team is ready to begin competition. Best wishes for great success. All Canadians are pulling for you!
    Mar 07, 2014 3:09 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    HARPER CONSERVATIVES FEEBLE IN GRAIN CRISIS After months of fumbling indifference, the Harper government today tried to concoct the appearance of “concrete” action to alleviate the western grain transportation crisis. But what they announced was really quite pathetic. It will require the railways to do nothing more than business-as-usual. Since last year, we’ve been demanding strong federal action to get serious about grain problems. The crisis has been on-going for at least five months. Because of demurrage charges, added debt burdens, lost sales, deferred sales and plummeting grain prices, farmers have lost something close to $5-billion. Some haven’t had any income this year at all. And all their bills are due. The railways are thousands of cars behind. The system is a scrambled, congested mess. There’s not enough capacity, and there’s no logistical coordination. Customers are going elsewhere. Recently, even the governments and the legislatures of both Alberta and Saskatchewan have joined the chorus of deep concern. We told the Harper government a long time ago that they had the power to take emergency action under Section 47 of the Canada Transportation Act. Still they dithered and obfuscated until today. And then the action they did prescribe was nothing incremental. The amount of grain the Conservatives are ordering the railways to move is only what they’ve already projected to move anyway. Nothing new. Nothing more. Nothing faster. And look at the timing. The railways have four weeks to gear-up to that business-as-usual level. That takes you to mid-April, right when municipal road-bans will be in effect with spring thaw. And what if the railways fail? Not much will happen. They’ll have to pay a small daily fine, but to the government, not to farmers. It’s a token amount compared to what farmers have lost. Make no mistake, today’s announcement was about APPEARING to do something because the political heat was getting too severe. In substance, it changes nothing of consequence. So the real Conservative grain plan, just like the railways, is simply “wait for spring”. For the longer term, the government is now promising legislation to force the railways to do better. Such hypocrisy! The Conservatives had their chance to do exactly that a year ago now when they introduced “Rail Service” legislation (Bill C-52). They were told it was defective. But they ignored all that advice and rammed it through. Predictably, C-52 has been a total failure. To fix it, shippers need to be given the absolute right to enforceable “service level agreements” with the railways which spell out what services the railways are required to provide, how railway performance will be measured, and what damages the railways will pay to shippers when transportation services fail. Please note — every one of these specific ideas was put before Parliament for a vote last year, and every Conservative MP voted against them. If the federal government had been serious about helping farmers today, they would have been more demanding of higher railway delivery standards this spring. They would have addressed some of the financial “hurt” by requiring the railways to reimburse farmers for at least some of their losses. They would also have expanded the Cash Advances program, and called in the CEO’s of all the major financial institutions to demand flexibility on farm debt this year — debt farmers haven’t been able to pay because of the defective grain system designed by this negligent and incompetent government.
    Mar 07, 2014 3:06 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    HarperCons so-called emergency action on grain simply matches what railways were already promising. Not good enough. Clearly, the HarperCon plan for grain transportation is ... "Wait for Spring". No action to offset billions in farm losses!
    Mar 07, 2014 9:02 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    I paid respects today in Parliament to the late Bill McRae http://youtu.be/JRRXgqTeWPA
    Mar 07, 2014 8:23 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    February Job Stats: Fewer jobs, more unemployed, less participation in job market. Good time for a complacent do-nothing budget???
    Mar 07, 2014 5:58 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, Liberals point out that in 25 days Canadian municipalities will get hit with a multi-billion-dollar cut in infrastructure funding
    Mar 06, 2014 11:40 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Another derogation of duty by the Minister of Transport. She sits muzzled + silent in the House of Commons while farmers suffer billions in losses!
    Mar 06, 2014 11:32 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In case you missed it, here's a piece I blogged yesterday about the link between grain and democracy http://www.ipolitics.ca/2014/03/05/how-a-broken-democracy-caused-a-grain-crisis/
    Mar 06, 2014 10:13 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Harper's sleaziness is obvious in government tactics today calling repeated votes in House just to disrupt testimony of the Chief Electoral Officer. Conservatives are scared to death of Marc Mayrand's testimony on how their amendments to Canada's election laws corrupt democracy.
    Mar 06, 2014 9:08 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    MPs vote 100p%to implement the Liberal plan for pro-active disclosure of expenses - another success for Justin Trudeau's leadership. Just as he led on real Senate reform, Justin has changed Parliament again today by winning this vote on disclosure.
    Mar 05, 2014 3:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period: The Transport Minister refuses to answer on $5 billion grain crisis, and Gerry Ritz behaves like a clown http://youtu.be/lVJx2HjaCyI
    Mar 05, 2014 11:53 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Very best wishes to Sonja Gaudet, Paralympic Wheelchair Curler - just named flagbearer for Team Canada!
    Mar 05, 2014 9:21 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    The CWB Alliance is inviting farmers to a public meeting, Sunday, March 9th, one PM, at the Elks Hall in Raymore, Saskatchewan. The meeting is free and open to the public. For those wishing to stay for a beef supper after the meeting, please pre-register for the meal so we know how much food we need. The cost is twenty dollars per plate. Contact Wayne at 306-746-2180 to register. CWB ALLIANCE PUBLIC MEETING DATE: SUNDAY, MARCH 9TH, TIME: 1:00 TO 4:00 LOCATION: ELKS HALL, RAYMORE, SASKATCHEWAN Speakers: Cam Goff, Chair - Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission Bill Gehl, Chair - Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission Stewart Wells - Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board class action update Malcolm Allen, M.P. - Member of Parliament: Agriculture Critic, New Democratic Party Ruth Ellen Brosseau - Member of Parliament: Deputy Agriculture Critic, New Democratic Party Ralph Goodale - Member of Parliament: Deputy Leader, Liberal Party of Canada COME TO THE MEETING AND FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON! For further information call: Kyle Korneychuk at (306) 537-0950
    Mar 05, 2014 6:32 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period: I led with questions about Ukraine - status of our Embassy in Kyiv, + consultations with Canadian Ambassador back from Moscow. I also asked about China's position in support of Ukrainian independence, sovereignty + territorial integrity.
    Mar 04, 2014 11:48 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    GRAIN TRANSPORTATION AND A DYSFUNCTIONAL PARLIAMENT Some people say "democratic reform" is a pretty obscure topic—all that academic stuff about politics and the rules by which Parliament is supposed to function. Who cares? Political scientists may debate these things up in their ivory towers, but it really doesn't much matter—right? Wrong! The current $5-billion crisis in western grain handling and transportation is a good example of why things like fewer "whipped" votes, more "free" votes, greater authority in the hands of individual MPs, and more independence in the work of Parliamentary Committees can make a big difference. This time last year, Parliament was dealing with Bill C-52, an Act to amend the Canadian Transportation Act to improve the levels of service provided by the railways to all their customers. After six years of obfuscation, the Harper government was finally going to force the rail companies to enter into binding "service level agreements" with their customers. Good move! Railways and shippers would first try to negotiate contracts voluntarily. If those talks failed, the shippers could get an arbitrator to impose an agreement. So far, so good. But what about the details? What would the new law require those service level agreements to cover? The shippers wanted three common-sense things: (a) a clear definition of what services the railways would be required to provide; (b) an objective way by which to measure success or failure; and (c) liquidated damages payable to farmers if/when railway performance fell short. This all sounds reasonable enough. Pretty standard business practice—except in the railway sector where the shippers are all "captive", there are no competitive transportation alternatives, and the railways have never had to face consequences for failing to perform. They opposed the three things the shippers requested. And the Minister of Transport sided (as usual) with the railways. It's clear from comments from backbench Conservative MPs that they sympathized with the shippers. And why wouldn't they? Those shippers were all their farmer-constituents. And what they were asking for was eminently reasonable. Taken together, these things—clearly defined service levels, objective measurements and liquidated damages—could have headed-off a big portion of this year's problem. But the Minister said no. The government said no. Stephen Harper said no. The railways must prevail. So the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport was brought in to manipulate the House of Commons Committee studying Bill C-52. No Conservative was allowed to think or act or speak for themselves. Like trained seals, they all just read from canned notes prepared in Prime Minister's Office. Their questions invariably favoured the railways. All the votes were whipped. And each of the shippers' ideas was shot down in flames. So much for open democracy. And what's the consequence? Not only a dysfunctional Parliament, but also a dysfunctional grain handling and transportation system which is costing farmers about $5-billion this year in higher expenses, lost sales and deflated prices.
    Mar 04, 2014 6:59 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Hoping for all party support tomorrow on a Liberal motion for all MPs to proactively disclose expenses on Parliament’s website http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/liberals-to-launch-new-bid-for-mp-expense-disclosure-1.2557883
    Mar 03, 2014 2:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period: HarperCons go nutty when Infrastructure budget cuts are exposed. See chart. At end of March, "Building Canada" chopped 90% The HarperCons' budget trick on Infrastructure - they promise a program, but back-end load the money 5-years down the road.
    Mar 03, 2014 11:47 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, I asked the government whether the G-8 (including Russia) still actually exists, given Russian aggression against Ukraine?
    Mar 03, 2014 11:30 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    MR. HARPER'S RECORD OF FAILURE ON SHIPPING GRAIN The $5-billion failure of the western grain handling and transportation system this winter follows a painful pattern under the Harper government. The problem couldn't have taken them by surprise. Farmers were warning about deficient rail services as far back as 2007. But the Conservatives did nothing to head-off a looming disaster. In fact, their behaviour made it worse. Along with shippers of many other products, grain producers argued that they were being held captive by the railway duopoly, had no competitive transportation alternatives, and no legal recourse to an enforceable contract with damages payable if/when the railways failed to perform. Finally, in 2008, the government agreed to study shipper concerns. It took them a year to appoint an expert panel to do that work, but at long last in 2010 this group of hand-picked Conservatives finished their analysis – in complete agreement with farmers and the other shippers. Yes indeed, they said, the rail transportation "playing field" is tilted sharply and unfairly in favour of the railways. Because they are a non-competing duopoly, the railways have too much market power and they abuse it. A typical shipper, the panel found, could expect to get the rail services they ordered only about 50% of the time, and they were powerless to do anything about it. According to the expert panel, fixing this debilitating situation would require a new law to force the railways to enter into "level-of-service" agreements with their customers laying out the quality of service those customers could expert, a credible way to measure performance, and consequences for failure. But the Harper government was unmoved. They sat on these recommendations for more than two years. When draft legislation was finally presented it was laughably weak with no clear definition of what "service" really meant or how to measure success or failure. Moreover, there was no provision for damages to be paid to farmers when the railways let them down. They might pay a token fine to the government, but nothing to farmers. So shippers remain captives with no competitive alternatives and no legal recourse. Meanwhile, the Harper Conservatives also emasculated the Canadian Wheat Board -- the one agency that had both the clout and the will to take rail companies or grain companies to court when farmers were getting hosed. Thanks to this government, no one has any such clout today. The system is totally controlled by railways and grain companies, and they run it in their own self-interest. That's how Mr. Harper designed it. There's simply not enough capacity to handle an above-average crop in a timely commercial manner, and there's no one in the system working on behalf of farmers to increase capacity or improve the efficient use of what exists. There's no common-sense, businesslike coordination among grain companies, railways, ports and ships. It's a nonsensical free-for-all that's costing farmers $5-billion. The Harper government made no serious effort to consult farmers or other knowledgeable people about the logistical implications of their grain policies. There was no cost/benefit analysis, no business plan for transition, no transparency, and every practical "level of service" proposal offered by the shippers was voted down by Conservative MPs acting as Mr. Harper's puppets on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport. So what farmers are suffering through today is the direct and predictable consequence of deliberate Harper government policy.
    Mar 03, 2014 5:37 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Indomitable Bob McGrath (Sesame St) performing again (37th time) at Kinsmen TeleMiracle. Don't forget to call: 306-791-2014
    Mar 02, 2014 11:30 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Kinsmen Telemiracle-38 -- Sask's world-record-setting telethon is underway on CTV across the Province -- Call 306-791-2014
    Mar 02, 2014 6:50 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Huge crowds for UofR Rams Dinner with Joe Theismann
    Mar 01, 2014 7:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    At Joe Theismann / UofR Rams Dinner in Regina - an auction item celebrating a Grey Cup + Olympic gold for the Getzlafs.
    Mar 01, 2014 6:26 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Supporting the University of Regina Rams tonight, and dinner with Joe Theismann!
    Mar 01, 2014 4:22 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Despite coldest day of winter, great meeting this am to reorganize Regina constituency associations onto new electoral boundaries. Now heading for a meeting with the Regina Chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress - to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. What happens in Ukraine matters to Canada - close to 1.3 million Canadians trace their heritage to Ukraine, including 13% of Sask.
    Mar 01, 2014 9:24 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Cold records being shattered across Saskatchewan today - absolute temps in deep minus-30s, windchills at minus-45. Welcome to March!
    Mar 01, 2014 9:23 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

February

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    MPlib
    University of Regina Cougars Women's Volleyball Team warming up to take on UBC in quarter-final of CIS Championship
    Feb 28, 2014 3:43 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Our thoughts are with 300+ crew members of HMCS Protecteur now adrift in a Pacific storm after a fire. Wishing all a safe return!
    Feb 28, 2014 2:35 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Jason Kenney wants Income Splitting to promote his version of "stability" - BUT only the wealthiest 15% of families qualify. Income Splitting: Families like Mr Harper's would get a $6,000 break. But "typical" families as defined in the Budget would get just $22. Stephen Harper seems to side with Jason Kenney to contradict Jim Flaherty on Income Splitting. That means the Finance Minister must go.
    Feb 28, 2014 2:25 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Congratulations to Sophie + Justin Trudeau on birth of new son Hadrian, little brother to Xavier and Ella-Grace!!!
    Feb 28, 2014 7:41 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Congratulations to Saskatchewan musician Jeffery Straker for winning a big international song competition in Chile!
    Feb 28, 2014 6:34 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    THIS IS THE GRAIN SYSTEM HARPER DESIGNED The western grain handling and transportation system has collapsed in failure this winter and that is squarely the responsibility of the Harper government. They designed it. They implemented it. It was entirely their idea. And they seem utterly incapable of fixing it. The consequences of this breathtaking incompetence are painful. Millions of tonnes of grain sit unmovable and unsold on thousands of prairie farms. Grain shipments are months behind. Port terminals are half empty. More than 50 ships are waiting. Valuable customers like Japan have gone elsewhere. Added costs like demurrage and extended producer debt charges, lost sales and deflated prices will take some $5-billion out of western Canada’s farm economy this year, maybe more. The Conservatives like to blame the railways, and no doubt they’ve done a lousy job. Railways say the weather has been too cold for their locomotives to work, but it gets cold every year. And if they needed more locomotive power or hopper cars, why didn’t they go lease them long ago. Why did CP Rail actually reduce its grain fleet in the midst of this mess? There is nothing redeeming in the railways’ behavior. But here’s the key question – why did the Harper Conservatives design a system that put railways and grain companies in complete control, leaving producers totally at their mercy with no competitive alternatives and no legal recourse to get damages? Clearly, there’s not enough grain handling and transportation capacity to move a better-than-average crop in a timely commercial manner. No one is coordinating the efficient use of prairie delivery points, car allocations, rail shipments, terminal utilization and ship movements. There’s no transparency. There’s no credible, comprehensive monitoring, measuring and public reporting on the activities of all the players in the system, or the results being obtained. With the railways being a closed duopoly and grain companies a tight oligopoly, there’s no genuine “market” at work here. No competition. Farmers have no voice, no legal clout. No one in this system can stand-up and fight for producers’ rights. And that’s exactly how Stephen Harper designed it. His minions say the real culprit is that legislated “Revenue Cap” that places some modest limitations on the amount of money railways can extract for moving grain in any one year. But getting rid of that Cap offers no assurance of better service. It’s only an absolute guarantee that grain freight rates will quickly double (to American levels), while farmers remain stranded as captive shippers. Beyond emergency action to expand grain capacity in the system, provide more businesslike transparency and coordination (instead of a secretive, costly free-for-all), exploit all possible shipment alternatives (including through the US, if necessary), and shift at least some of the incremental costs this year onto the shoulders of the delinquents who have performed so badly – the Government of Canada should undertake at least two other initiatives: • They should launch a completely up-to-date “Costing Review” to examine grain movement costs and revenues, and how they are being shared (or not) throughout the system; and • They should amend their hopelessly defective Rail Service Legislation to provide a precise definition of “service levels”, ways to measure performance, and liquidated damages to farmers when performance fails. At least this would be a start.
    Feb 28, 2014 4:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Spoke at a Seniors Conference in Regina today. Attendees were not reticent to condemn HarperCons as a government that lies + won't listen.
    Feb 26, 2014 4:24 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    The Harper govt has NO answers for farmers on grain movement. Check out this question and the pathetic non-answer. http://youtu.be/6m4Dj-72ooE
    Feb 25, 2014 12:07 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, Justin Trudeau drives home that Stephen Harper never in fact intended to honour his false promise of Income Splitting. Just as Stephen Harper never intended to honour his promises on Equalization, Income Trusts, diesel taxes or a pasta plant in Regina.
    Feb 25, 2014 11:37 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Info from farm leaders this morning - Japan is shopping for grain from the US, because Canada's transportation system is such a mess more than 50 ships are waiting at the West Coast. Grain movement from the prairies is 5-million tonnes behind. Indefensible!
    Feb 25, 2014 10:08 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    ABOUT UKRAINE -- Here's what Justin Trudeau said this morning about a conversation with Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress: Justin Trudeau, MP@JustinTrudeau Just spoke with @PaulMGrod of UCC. Told him I'm sorry to have spoken lightly of the very real threat Russia poses to Ukraine. Justin Trudeau, MP@JustinTrudeau We take the situation in Ukraine very seriously. Here is what we think the Gov't should do about it: ***Emergency resolution on Ukraine*** WHEREAS, as required by its constitution, Ukraine's Parliament has by more than a 2/3rds majority of 328 deputies out of 450 voted to impeach Ukraine's president Yanukovych, and voted to hold new presidential elections in May of this year. BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada calls upon the Government of Canada to immediately and unequivocally express it's tangible support for the transitional process to a secure democracy; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Canada call for an observer mission of at least 500 Canadian observers led by a pre-eminent Canadian to help oversee this election; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the international community take all necessary steps to ensure that any and all human rights violations in Ukraine are properly investigated and, as appropriate, prosecuted BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Government of Canada call upon the IMF to urgently meet with the new Ukrainian leadership to provide economic support and develop a new plan; and BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we call upon the Prime Minister of Canada to make clear to any foreign power not to interfere with nor undermine the will of the Ukrainian people as expressed by their elected representatives in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's Parliament.
    Feb 25, 2014 9:48 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Strong discussion this morning about grain transportation, etc. between Justin Trudeau + leaders of major Canadian agriculture organisations
    Feb 25, 2014 8:37 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Take a look at this telling exchange in Monday's Question Period in the House of Commons - about the middle-class. http://youtu.be/ZYtILDNgnD0
    Feb 24, 2014 12:09 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In House of Commons Question Period - The Harper Conservatives claim that a "typical" family is getting a $3400 tax break, but sadly their Conservative definition of "typical" just happens to exclude 70% of all Canadian families. Conservative tax policy is discriminatory and exclusionary. Middle class gets short end of the stick.
    Feb 24, 2014 11:43 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2014 8:35 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    NATIONAL CONVENTION FOCUSED ON MIDDLE-CLASS The relentless focus of the Liberal Party's national policy convention this past weekend was the well-being of Canada's middle-class and all those who are working so hard just to get there. Liberal delegates grappled with the reality that middle income levels have been largely stagnant for far too long. While the Harper government denies there's any real problem -- witness their vacuous budget two weeks ago -- an internal federal report has just confirmed that "the market economy does not reward middle-income families so well ... they get an increasingly smaller share of the earning's pie." That same report says "... middle-class workers get lesser government support for their work transitions" and "...many in the middle spend more than they earn, mortgaging their future to sustain their current consumption." In a dark prognosis, the government's report also says "...over the medium term, middle-income Canadians are unlikely to move to higher income brackets, i.e., the Canadian dream is a myth more than a reality." While their earnings are flat, household debt among the middle-class has ballooned to $1.66 for every dollar of disposable income. Three-quarters of Canadians working in the private sector don't have the basic security of a company pension plan. Two-thirds of middle-class parents doubt they'll be able to afford post-secondary education for their children. They're worried that their kids won't actually do as well as they did. The Harper government's response is weak and grossly misleading. They say they've fixed everything for the middle-class with a grab-bag of tiny tax breaks targeted to reinforce a socially conservative ideology. Trouble is -- that leaves out the vast majority of Canadians. Mr. Harper's last budget claims that if you add together all of his tax changes since 2006, the typical Canadian family is now paying $3400 less federal tax. But 70% of all families in this country don't fit his definition of what's "typical". His example reflects a more privileged minority. And Mr. Harper's arithmetic conveniently ignores the fact that his first act in office in 2006 was to increase Personal Income Tax rates in Canada. He also taxed Income Trusts out of existence, obliterating $25-billion from the savings of some 2-million Canadians. And that's not to mention higher taxes on many consumer products, on Credit Unions and small business owners, and the $3.6-billion in new, job-killing Conservative payroll taxes which Mr. Harper has imposed over the past three years. All these burdens fall on the middle-class. And under this government, they are not going away -- because the Harper Conservatives have failed miserably on the single most important economic fundamental and that's the achievement of meaningful growth. Since the last election, Canada's economic growth rate has declined. It dropped in 2011. And again in 2012. And again in 2013. Overall, Mr. Harper has the worst growth record of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett in the 1930's. And his last budget offered no plan to improve. It was complacent, indifferent and content with mediocrity. In denial about the middle-class and without a common-sense plan to drive greater economic growth, this failing Harper government will never balance its books on a sound and durable basis. Nor will it come close to real prosperity for the majority of Canadians. And that's just not good enough.
    Feb 24, 2014 6:32 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here's the Emergency Resolution on Ukraine adopted overwhelmingly at the National Liberal Convention in Montreal today http://www.ralphgoodale.ca/blog/liberal-national-convention-adopts-emergency-resolution-ukraine/?t=1139062787
    Feb 23, 2014 12:11 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Tremendously energetic #Lib14 national convention ends with overwhelming endorsement of Justin Trudeau's Senate reforms!
    Feb 23, 2014 9:45 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In 2012 I met in Kyiv with Eugenia Tymoshenko, daughter of Ukraine's jailed opposition Leader, Yulia. Now free after 2 years (2/2)
    Feb 23, 2014 5:08 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

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