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September

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    MPlib
    In Question Period, HarperCons oblivious to Canada's jobs problem - there are 230,000 more unemployed Canadians today that before the recession. Young Canadians are facing deflated expectations according to Conference Board report today - there are 240,000 fewer jobs for Canadian Youth. That's why the new EI credit needs to be corrected to directly reward job creation and remove a perverse incentive to fire people.
    Sep 23, 2014 11:52 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Justin Trudeau's better plan for cutting EI premiums closely resembles a positive plan proposed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in 2011. HarperCons have slashed "Building Canada" infrastructure fund by 87%. Only 6 BCF commitments made in this entire construction season.
    Sep 22, 2014 11:57 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Harper government's narrative on Climate Change omits that in 2006 they cancelled a fully funded plan to achieve 80% of Canada's goals. If Canada's government were more credible on the Environment, Canadian energy producers would have better market access at better prices.
    Sep 22, 2014 11:34 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Wishing every success today to Brian Gallant and New Brunswick Liberals - building a new and better government!
    Sep 22, 2014 5:53 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    IS MR. HARPER'S TAX CREDIT AN APOLOGY FOR TFW FIASCO? This past summer, I had the opportunity to meet with many individuals and organizations, representing both employees and employers, about the mess the Harper government has made of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. That program functioned pretty successfully for more than 30 years - until the Conservatives seriously messed it up after 2006. The numbers of TFWs coming to Canada exploded - on track to rival total new immigration. That's when stories began to circulate about displaced Canadian workers, depressed wages and exploited foreigners. The Auditor General exposed some of the program's weaknesses and faulty administration. Liberals called for a detailed Parliamentary review to ensure the rules were appropriate and properly enforced. The Conservatives just sloughed it all off. They were in complete denial - until reports of abuses erupted in a media frenzy this past spring. Almost overnight, the government swallowed itself whole. From being the great "enabler" facilitating the use (or misuse) of more and more foreign workers, they became the great "enforcer" bent on shutting the whole thing down. From one extreme to the other. Both wrong. A great many employers in Saskatchewan are enraged at the government's erratic incompetence on this file. This province has a hot economy with the lowest unemployment in the country and the highest number of job vacancies. Finding employees is a big issue. To meet job market demands, more public and private investment is required in higher education and skills training for homegrown Canadians. But beyond that, there's also a legitimate and urgent need for a sensible program, run with integrity, to help fill jobs on a limited basis when Canadians simply cannot be found. It must be based on accurate community-by-community job market data. The rules need to be clear, consistent and genuinely enforced in cooperation with provincial governments. Program administration must be efficient, transparent and accountable. And the emphasis needs to be on newcomers becoming landed immigrants, permanent residents, citizens and taxpayers - not just temporary folks to be used on the margins and tossed away. The Saskatchewan government has long argued for a better system with a clear pathway to citizenship through the provincial Immigrant Nominee Program. More than two years go, Saskatchewan asked Ottawa to increase its nominees from 4,000 annually to 6,000. Mr. Harper said no. Over these past two years, the Feds allowed this province only an extra 700 or so. So it's no wonder we've got a problem - caused by the Harper regime. Knowing all this TFW bungling was generating a deep sense of betrayal, even anger, in the business community, Mr. Harper thought a quick tax cut might smooth things over - so, 10 days ago, he rushed out an ill-conceived Employment Insurance tax credit. It too is a public policy failure. The credit is totally unrelated to the generation of any new jobs. It's calculated on the amount of EI premiums an employer pays, up to a maximum of $15,000 in premiums per year (i.e., it's capped at the equivalent of about a dozen employees). Go over that limit and you get nothing. So it encourages firms to stay small. It punishes growth and ambition. It puts a cap on jobs, and could even be an incentive to reduce wages or fire people. The Harper regime increased job-killing EI payroll taxes in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to rake in an extra $1.8-billion every year going forward. The rates are now frozen at that higher level. The government's own Chief Actuary says they're excessive. They can and should come down. But a great many economists like Jack Mintz at the University of Calgary say this government's defective tax credit is not the right way to do it. One alternative would be to cut EI premium rates across the board. Or, if that's deemed unaffordable right now, the government could take the advice previously offered by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and provide an EI premium holiday on each new and incremental job an employer creates. For the same $550-million the Conservatives are going to spend on their misguided tax credit, with no assurance of any new jobs, the CFIB's earlier proposal could help to foster as many as 175,000 new jobs over the next two years. That's why Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is promoting it.
    Sep 22, 2014 5:50 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    WHAT DO BULLDOZERS, REGIONAL CABINET OFFICES, CELL-PHONES & GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING HAVE IN COMMON? Answer: They are all recent examples of Harper government mismanagement and waste! Masters of hypocrisy, these Conservatives preach prudence, eviscerate federal programs and services and fire thousands of public employees while squandering millions of tax dollars in so many other ways. Some examples: * A bulldozer used in certain illegal activities was confiscated. The courts ordered the equipment destroyed. Instead, the government sold it privately for $5500. They then claimed that sale was "by accident" and bought the dozer back - at a cost of nearly $75,000. What a Keystone Cops operation! * Tax-paid offices exclusively to service Cabinet Ministers are proliferating across the country. Instead of having one per province (as used to be the rule), the Conservatives now have 16 of them. The number of full-time political staffers in regional offices has increased by 50% and the budget to pay their salaries are ballooned from $1.6-million to $2.7-million - all during a period of so-called austerity. * Austerity notwithstanding, the Conservative addiction to tax-paid government advertising is also relentless. The vast majority of it is unrelated to any useful information the public needs to know - it's mostly "image" advertising to polish tarnished Conservative credentials. Something over a half-a-billion dollars has been wasted in this way, including hundreds of expensive (and annoying) TV ads during events like the NHL playoffs which can cost an eye-popping $100,000 for every 30-seconds of airtime. * This government cannot even pay its bills on time. In the last two years, it has incurred close to $300,000 in extra "late fees" on cellphones and other wireless services. Such sloppiness is all too characteristic of Harper government operations. From these so-called "little things" to big screw-ups like the botched procurement of F-35 stealth fighter jets, the debacle around temporary foreign workers and the discredited design of their faulty EI tax credit, and more, Mr. Harper's Conservatives are often a wasteful managerial embarrassment. Not to mention that still unexplained $90,000 secret payment by Mr. Harper's hand-picked Chief-of-Staff to his self-proclaimed favourite Senator, Mike Duffy!
    Sep 21, 2014 6:45 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Finance Minister Oliver could take his own advice. Growth, demand & infrastructure investment need boosting in Canada too. Only 15,000 full-time jobs created in past 12 months. http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-18/canada-s-oliver-eases-austerity-push-as-g-20-gathers.html
    Sep 21, 2014 4:20 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    If this is true, it's appalling. This is an issue the Auditor General should investigate pdq! http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/canada/story/1.2773090
    Sep 21, 2014 10:54 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Glorious fall Sunday in Saskatchewan - hopefully good for the harvest and good for the Roughriders!
    Sep 21, 2014 9:46 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Volunteers getting ready for Scotiabank's "AIDS Walk for Life" going today from City Square Plaza around downtown Regina
    Sep 21, 2014 9:45 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    The inimitable Jean Freeman acknowledging her ACTRA award and her 80th birthday - Congratulations!
    Sep 20, 2014 3:12 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    The great Ritchie Hall heading up the Roughrider team at Breakfast for Learning Pancake flipping contest
    Sep 20, 2014 1:58 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Teams flipping pancakes to raise funds for Breakfast for Learning - great cause - Roughriders team wins!
    Sep 20, 2014 1:57 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Grandmothers-4-Grandmothers "Art in the Attic" sale in Regina today - supporting Stephen Lewis Foundation. Well done!
    Sep 20, 2014 12:36 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    TODAY'S QUESTION PERIOD Here are three questions that I asked today at the beginning of Question Period in the House of Commons. *** 1. The latest report from Stats-Canada revealed the loss of 112,000 private sector jobs. Through the past 12 months, only 15,000 full-time jobs have been generated in the WHOLE country in a WHOLE year! There are 230,000 MORE unemployed Canadians today than before the recession. So, if the government has $550-million to invest, why not provide an exemption from Employment Insurance payroll taxes for every Canadian employer who creates a net new job? 2. The design of the government’s EI credit is totally UNconnected to more employment. It puts a cap on growth and actually creates a perverse incentive to fire people. In previous Budget submissions, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business proposed exactly what the Member for Papineau proposed this week – and I quote the CFIB – an “EI holiday on INCREASED payroll”. For the money the government has already earmarked, this could help generate 175,000 net new jobs. So, why not? 3.Another flawed idea is the government’s proposed Income Splitting scheme. From the C.D. Howe Institute to the late Jim Flaherty -- that scheme has been panned as too expensive and unfair to 85% of Canadians. Mr. Flaherty called it an “election bauble”. Federally, it will cost nearly $3-billion, but the Mowat Centre says it will ALSO cost the PROVINCES another $1.7-billion – taken from healthcare and education. Will the government listen to Mr. Flaherty, and say “no” to this costly, unfair bauble. *** The Harper Conservatives had no answers, no plan for jobs and growth, and no explanation for why the Prime Minister is contradicting his former Finance Minister.
    Sep 18, 2014 11:41 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Standing ovations for Ukraine President Poroshenko in Canadian House of Commons; good visit with Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland
    Sep 17, 2014 11:19 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    House of Commons filling with MPs and guests to hear President Poroshenko of Ukraine - where 1.25 million Canadians trace their heritage. Support for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine is NOT a partisan issue in Canada - crosses all Party lines.
    Sep 17, 2014 11:04 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    From the government's own figures, here are the facts about Employment Insurance Premium Rates over the past 20 years See the numbers at http://bit.ly/XdX2Kw
    Sep 16, 2014 2:27 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, HarperCons continue to flounder on Employment Insurance - their tax credit scheme is NOT linked to the creation of a single job. By capping their EI tax credit at a certain level of premiums paid, HarperCons are limiting growth + creating incentives to fire people. Back in 2011, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business called for en "EI holiday on increased payroll" - which is exactly what Justin Trudeau is proposing.
    Sep 16, 2014 11:45 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Further analysis shows deep design flaws in HarperCons' latest EI scheme http://www.canadianbusiness.com/blogs-and-comment/ei-premium-cut-encourages-firing-wage-reduction/
    Sep 15, 2014 12:11 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In QP, Finance Minister Oliver factually wrong. Accuses previous Lib govt of increasing EI rates. Libs in fact cut EI premiums 12 years in a row. HarperCons' EI scheme is totally unrelated to job creation - if a small business gets to more that about 12 employees they lose $2200. This badly mangled EI tax credit is clumsy way to try to heal wounds in Small Business sector from the HarperCons' Temporary Foreign Worker fiasco.
    Sep 15, 2014 12:04 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In QP, Justin Trudeau punches a big hole in HarperCons' Employment Insurance plan which caps growth + creates an incentive to fire people. He calls for a full EI refund to every employer who creates a new Canadian job - could generate 175,000 of them.
    Sep 15, 2014 11:37 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Glad to welcome 4 new MPs to House of Commons today, including Liberals Adam Vaughan and Arnold Chan Campaign. Congratulations!
    Sep 15, 2014 11:29 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    A POOR RESPONSE TO BAD JOB NUMBERS & A WEAK ECONOMY Principled officials in the federal Finance department will be chagrined to think some people might blame them for the Harper government's mangled response to the problem of excessively high, job-killing EI payroll taxes. Announced last week and characterized as a way to reduce the EI cost burden on small businesses, the new policy is a design fiasco that caps job generation, creates an incentive to lay people off and stunts both growth and ambition. So badly structured, it is not possibly the brain-child of Finance officials. It's a political concoction foisted on them by the Prime Minster's Office. Remember the context. Since 2010 - through the four most recent post-recession years - the Canadian economy has exhibited no consistent ability to grow, and job creation has been particularly paltry. Last month alone, the private sector shed nearly 112,000 jobs while the participation rate in the job market declined yet again. For the entire year just past, the whole Canadian economy produced a meagre 81,000 net new positions, most of them in just one region and 80% part-time. There are some 230,000 more unemployed Canadians today than before the 2008 recession. Mr. Harper has no specific agenda for economic growth and his record on this score is the worst of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett. Part of the problem is his constantly escalating Employment Insurance payroll taxes. Announced in 2010, these Harper tax hikes raked in an extra $600-million in 2011, plus another $1.2-billion in 2012, then another $1.8-billion in 2013, and another $1.8-billion this year. That's a grand total of $5.4-billion in higher taxes taken from the pockets of employees and employers in the most job-killing manner possible. Calculations done by the government's own Chief Actuary in the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions show the Conservatives are collecting billions of dollars more than necessary to fund employment insurance claims. With his economic record so poor, the fall sittings of Parliament about to begin and a federal election just around the corner, the purpose of last week's EI announcement was to show some action. But what a farce! All employers and employees will still have to pay their full EI premiums at the full rate. That's money out of their pockets right up front. Then, later on, at tax time - if they're small enough - they may be able to claim some of those premiums back as a federal tax credit. This is a complex and convoluted way of trying to confer a benefit on small businesses. There is no linkage to "incremental jobs created". If you employ more than about 10 employees, you don't qualify for any tax credit at all. There's no premium break for employees whatsoever. And what happens if an employer gets to tax-time and finds there are a couple of workers on his/her payroll that put the small business over the threshold for getting the tax credit? Those "extra" jobs are in jeopardy! Instead of encouraging more jobs, business ambition and economic growth, the way this latest policy is contrived actually puts a cap on job generation in the small business sector and imposes a penalty on those who would strive to do better. Should there be relief from Mr. Harper's excessively high payroll taxes? Absolutely! Liberals have been making that argument for at least four years. But the scheme the Conservatives devised last week is deeply flawed and deficient.
    Sep 15, 2014 4:45 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Balloons of hope released over Regina's Wascana Park to launch 34th annual Terrry Fox Run - thanks to RCAF for flypast!
    Sep 14, 2014 9:29 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Regina Optimists Dolphin Swim Club turns out en masse for today's Terry Fox Run - part the team fighting cancer!
    Sep 14, 2014 8:22 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    The smile of a Canadian hero - remembered and honoured around the world!
    Sep 14, 2014 8:01 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    One of the historic banners on display in Regina this morning as people are gathering for the Annual Terry Fox Run
    Sep 14, 2014 8:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    My friend + former colleague Mark Carney speaking in Saskatoon today at the 2014 Banff Forum. Excellent event.
    Sep 13, 2014 1:09 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Civility in Canadian Politics - Has it declined in recent years? COMMENTS TO THE BANFF FORUM Saskatoon, Sk -- September 12th, 2014 By Hon Ralph Goodale, PC, MP (Wascana) Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada The short answer is yes, especially in the past nine years. There is less camaraderie. Less good will. Hyper-partisanship seems to trump everything else. Political opponents are seen not just as competitors to be defeated in elections, but moral evil-doers to be destroyed. And the ends will always justify the means. There are exceptions in Parliament. I think of Michael Chong on this panel. And Peter Stoffer in the NDP. And Bob Rae and Justin Trudeau among my Liberal colleagues and their commitment to what Laurier would call "sunny ways". But they often get swamped in a scripted sea of abuse. Their good will is repaid with insults and invective. This damages the dignity and the usefulness of Parliament. That undermines democracy. It consolidates power in the hands of a small autocratic Executive Branch and the zealous, unelected "boys in short pants" who serve in the backrooms of that Executive. To some extent, the cause of Parliament's malaise is bad behaviour by individual MPs. But to a larger extent, that bad behaviour is just a symptom of a larger problem. And that larger problem is Parliamentary structure and procedure that is not geared to reflect the best of democracy. My Leader, Justin Trudeau, has acknowledged that point, and has taken some bold steps to start to change things: * regular pro-active disclosure of MP expenses; * a more non-partisan, non-patronage and truly independent Senate; and * stronger Access-to-Information rules and procedures. Justin has also refused to respond Attack-Ad for Attack-Ad to the abuse that is thrown his way. Let me mention six other ideas that merit consideration: * a preferential ballot instead of our "first-past-the-post" system; * more free votes in the House of Commons; * stronger, clearer and real Parliamentary control over government spending; * a truly independent Parliamentary Budget Officer; * explicit limits on the use of Omnibus Bills and Prorogation; * adequate funding, investigative powers and enforcement authority for Elections Canada to root out voter suppression and electoral fraud. These things could make a tangible difference toward greater civility in politics and better Canadian democracy.
    Sep 12, 2014 4:28 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here's more evidence of a weak economy and a government that's indifferent to the realities of middle-class Canadians http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/majority-of-canadian-workers-living-paycheque-to-paycheque-survey-1.1999947
    Sep 10, 2014 9:39 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    At Gordon First Nation last night for 2nd annual "Memory Walk" to remember Missing + Murdered Aboriginal Women.
    Sep 10, 2014 4:22 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    The brand new Semple Gym at Luther College - official opening today. LIT will have a spectacular new venue. Congrats!
    Sep 09, 2014 9:28 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Happy to join a lot of excited people today at the opening of great new facilities at Regina's Luther College High School
    Sep 09, 2014 9:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Sell-out crowd for this morning's University of Regina Athletics Breakfast to support the Cougars and Rams - always a great event.
    Sep 09, 2014 7:06 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Regina sportscaster Rod Pedersen interviewing Richard Peddie at University of Regina President's Breakfast for Athletes
    Sep 09, 2014 6:55 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Today is Awareness Day for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, the leading cause of preventable developmental disability in Canada. Thanks to FASD Network of Saskatchewan for your leadership.
    Sep 09, 2014 5:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here's an interesting commentary, demonstrating public weariness with personal abuse in political life http://www.swbooster.com/Opinion/Letter-to-the-editor/2014-09-04/article-3858316/Voters-want-better-government-not-politicians-scoring-political-points/1
    Sep 08, 2014 10:09 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    A WEAK ECONOMY AND A HAPLESS GOVERNMENT After last month’s debacle at Statistics Canada over the official job numbers for July, observers might be forgiven for wondering if the most recent figures for August (published last Friday) are accurate. The once-proud agency, long suffering now under a government that doesn’t much believe in data-based decision-making, could ill-afford another hit on its credibility. But public reaction to the August labour market report quickly moved on to the substance of what it revealed – a struggling economy that simply isn’t generating jobs. Instead of gaining some 10,000 new positions in the past month, as predicted, employment fell by some 11,000. Despite regular monthly population growth, participation in the labour force continued to decline in August by another 0.1% – meaning that another 21,000 people stopped looking for work. Some of those would have taken normal retirement. Many others just gave up their job search in frustration. As a result, the August unemployment rate stayed flat at 7.0%, while both the number and percentage of Canadians gainfully at work dropped yet again – more evidence that the economy is not producing jobs at a sufficient pace. Compared to the period in 2008 just before the recession, there are nearly 230,000 more jobless Canadians today. Some private sector economists call this situation “shocking”. Others say it’s “dismal”. Whatever the descriptor, it’s not good. And the problem seems to be chronic. To paraphrase the Governor of the Bank of Canada, the Canadian job market is a “serial disappointment”. Looking back a full year, only a meagre 81,000 jobs have been created in this whole country through the past 12 months. More than 80% of them are just part-time, meaning poorer job quality, lower wages and less security. Most seriously, the largest job losses in August were in the private sector – some 112,000 of them, gone! That’s the worst private sector job-loss record, ever. Public sector employment increased a bit, as did the numbers of people claiming to be self-employed. But good solid private sector jobs went up in smoke. In the fall of each year, the Government of Canada publishes a mid-term “Fiscal and Economic Update”. It’s due in just a few weeks. Will the Harper government continue to show passive indifference and do nothing – behaving like a hapless spectator, paralyzed by ideology, incapable of influencing the course of events, content to watch jobs deteriorate and disappear? Or will they at least try to be more useful? If they had the will and gumption, they could roll-back some of their excessive Employment Insurance payroll tax increases which are running up a multi-billion-dollar EI surplus and unnecessarily killing jobs in the process. They could join the “Team Canada” trade missions, led by provincial Premiers, in a concerted effort to brand and sell more Canadian goods and services abroad. They could develop a credible environmental framework for resource projects which would earn Canadian energy producers greater access to international markets at better prices. They could tear down barriers to higher learning and skills, and strengthen homegrown Canadian science and innovation. They could accelerate, instead of stalling, federal investments in truly transformative public infrastructure to help drive jobs, growth and productivity – as recommended by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Provinces, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge, the Canada West Foundation, the Canadian Council of Chief Executive Officers, the C. D. Howe Institute, and many more. But don’t hold your breath. This is not a government that lets human need, good advice or hard evidence get in the way of its ideology or partisanship.
    Sep 08, 2014 5:07 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    I'm proud to sign a national petition today in support of Canadians for a New Partnership with Aboriginal peoples. http://www.cfnp.ca/declaration/
    Sep 05, 2014 10:09 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Lots of action both inside and outside the Beer Garden at University of Regina Welcome Week. Have a great year!
    Sep 04, 2014 9:14 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    For 2nd time this stormy summer, federal weather radar station at Bethune is broken - leaving Saskatchewan more vulnerable.
    Sep 04, 2014 5:49 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    University of Regina - welcome week! 14,000 + students. Biggest ever enrolments of Aboriginal students and International students.
    Sep 03, 2014 10:56 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Check this blog “Only Stephen Harper Stands in the Way of an Effective Government" http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ralph-goodale/harper-and-premiers_b_5751470.html
    Sep 02, 2014 10:10 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Now in Sask Legislature - each plaque in the Afghan Vigil Memorial bearing a poppy signifies a fallen Saskatchewanian (3/3)
    Sep 02, 2014 8:37 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    All the Afghanistan Vigil plaques, now touring Canada, come from the original memorial site in Kandahar (2/3)
    Sep 02, 2014 8:30 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Part of Canadian Forces traveling memorial including engraved plaques for all who died under Canadian command in Afghanistan (1/3)
    Sep 02, 2014 8:25 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    PREMIERS SHOW LEADERSHIP IN VOID LEFT BY MR. HARPER I've watched a good many Premiers Conferences during my 26 years in Parliament. This year's get-together in Charlottetown has to rank among the best for both substance and tone. On healthcare, services and facilities for the elderly, and retirement incomes for middle-class Canadians, the Premiers were right on-target with the insecurities that preoccupy a big portion of Canada's population all across the country. Provincial leaders were also in synch with decent Canadian values in their support for a Public Inquiry (or some reasonable facsimile) to get definitive answers and action with respect to 1,100 missing or murdered Aboriginal women. On public infrastructure to help drive jobs, growth and productivity, on energy options to make Canada a clean and sustainable energy super-power, and on a coherent pan-Canadian marketing effort to overcome chronic trade deficits, the Premiers were touching on several elements of a sensible economic growth agenda for the country. On all these topics, they sounded informed, reasonable and pro-active, but what they lack is a willing federal partner to work with. In nearly nine years as Prime Minister, Mr. Harper has had only two brief meetings with all the Premiers in the same room at the same time. And on the issues raised in Charlottetown - healthcare, elder-care, pensions, the missing and murdered women, infrastructure, sustainable energy, and a "Team Canada" approach to trade and marketing - Mr. Harper has largely abandoned the field. There is a void at the top. He shows no interest in cooperative federalism. His solitary, even belligerent style is not conducive to working with others. And clearly, Mr. Harper doesn't share many of the Premiers' values or priorities - even though they reflect the views of a big majority of ordinary Canadians. Before the Premiers even had time to get home from PEI, Mr. Harper had his tightly-scripted Finance Minister deliver a federal "no" on virtually every issue. There will be no federal partnership and certainly no new financial commitment. Mr. Harper has only one priority, and that is eviscerating the Government of Canada in every way he can. He simply doesn't believe any government is capable of anything good or valuable. So, he says, it's best to chop them to bits. His views are likely coloured by the failings of his own inept and ethically-discredited regime which has so bruised and limited Canada over the past nine years. But our governance doesn't need to be that bad. The Premiers gave Canadians a glimpse of some greater potential last week in Charlottetown. Weary of ideological agendas, mediocre outcomes and the wedge politics of abuse and division, people are ready for big changes in how Ottawa works and who it works for. Imagine a federal government ready and willing to be a constructive team player on healthcare, the elderly and pensions. Imagine a federal government that really wants to understand and tackle the societal issues that contribute to the loss of 1,100 Aboriginal women. Imagine a federal government determined to make infrastructure investments of a truly transformative magnitude, converting the temporary value of low interest rates into long-term capital assets. Imagine a federal government ready to work with provinces on that crucial intersection between energy and the environment, thereby helping to win greater global access for undervalued Canadian resources. Imagine a federal government that marshals the private sector and all levels of government in globally effective "Team Canada" branding and marketing, reversing Canada's chronic trade deficit and stimulating more jobs and better wages at home. Only Stephen Harper stands in the way.
    Sep 01, 2014 5:24 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

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Ralph Goodale

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