Media

Two budget measures can actually unite Canada

No Comments 25 April 2017

The re-establishment of a federal role for housing makes sense and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is the right vehicle to affirm national leadership. The same holds true for training investment.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published in The Hill Times on Monday, March 27, 2017.

OTTAWA—Everything old is new again. Two major new investments in last week’s federal budget involve housing and training.

The re-establishment of a federal role for housing makes sense and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is the right vehicle to affirm national leadership.

The same holds true for training investment. In a highly mobile world, the need for national training investment and strategy should be self-evident. But Canada has lost two decades of valuable time because of wrongheaded former federal decisions to get out of housing and training.

Does anyone remember the constitutional wrangles that almost led to the breakup of Canada? One of the core provincial demands was that the federal government vacate the fields of housing and apprenticeship training as they were deemed to be areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.
 
Back in 1992, the federal government exited most social housing investment, making an exception for cooperative and urban aboriginal projects. That decision reflected a mistaken national consensus that provincial governments were better positioned to deliver housing at the local level, as they bear responsibility for the management of municipal governments.

During the 1990s, pressure mounted for the federal government to hand over all labour market planning and responsibility to provincial governments via individual bilateral agreements.

That move succeeded in fragmenting an existing national workforce strategy designed to analyze, forecast, and implement national labour market modernizations.

While the rest of the world moved to homogenize and synthesize in an effort to anticipate the needs of emerging global workforces, Canada’s national housing and training policies were replaced with provincial programs that differed in scope and application from province to province.  

So distorted is our national labour market that in some cases, federally funded programs designed to help students can actually attach a provincial residency requirement, blocking applicants from other jurisdictions.

The country also abandoned the development of national assessment tools designed to measure educational and training performance in different provincial jurisdictions.

According to the most recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report on Canadian education, there is only one area where standardized testing applies. That involves Grade 8 students participating in the Pan Canadian Assessment program which includes testing skill levels in reading, math, and science.

Otherwise, a review of most education curricula reveals a hodgepodge of trial-and-error methods designed individually by 13 different jurisdictions.

The Council of Ministers of Education Canada, headquartered in Toronto, manages inter-provincial liaison among Canada’s 13 ministers, who meet once a year to discuss issues of cooperation.

The formation of the CMEC occurred during Canada’s 100th birthday, when it was agreed that even though education is a provincial responsibility, there is a need for inter-provincial sharing.

That being said, there is no national mandate guiding the council, so every resolution and decision is referred back to 13 provincial and territorial ministries for implementation.

In this highly decentralized system, it is no wonder that skills training and employment mobility are often sacrificed to the holy grail of Canadian constitutional division of powers.

The same can be said for housing. It is impossible to ignore the mounting evidence that home ownership is increasingly beyond the grasp of urban millenials in most of Canada’s major cities.

Yet, because of the decision made a quarter century ago, the country’s national housing corporation was stripped to the bare bones, with little more influence than underwriting some higher risk mortgages for potential homeowners.

A national vision to tackle problems of homelessness and under housing, are no longer on the national radar, relegated to largely provincial issues. More money is generally spent on local task forces to study the problem than on concrete solutions to secure different housing solutions for changing demographics.

The major financial commitments included in the budget were welcome. The provinces need federal financial support, and these investments will get the national government back into housing and skills training.

With border turmoil engulfing the United States and the United Kingdom, Canada’s open approach can actually become a huge boost for our economy.

But we have to be smart enough to mobilize at home first.

At the moment, it is easier for many Europeans to move between countries in some industries than it is for Canadian workers to move to new jobs in different provinces.

The time is ripe for a “back to the future” look at housing and training. The issues need to be tackled through a national lens.

In a world where borders are breaking the world up, these two budget measures can actually unite Canada.
Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister. Follow her on Twitter at @Sheila_Copps.

Events

Appel de propositions du Sommet mondial du design

No Comments 20 April 2017

Quelles sont vos idées?

 

Events

Call for Proposals – World Design Summit, Montréal 2017

No Comments 20 April 2017

What are your ideas?

See more videos about the World Design Summit on Youtube.

Media

Politics at its worst in political parties

No Comments 18 April 2017

Retroactive cutoffs, and green light committees with no public transparency or accountability, turn voters off. More important, they turn party members off. As a volunteer, if you are not allowed to participate in a nomination, you may just take a pass on an election too.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published in The Hill Times on Monday, March 20, 2017.

OTTAWA—Politics is at its worst in political parties.

Internal decisions are usually made in secret with little recourse to the rules of due process that apply to normal business decisions.

That may change, as a disgruntled New Democrat took his case to the courts last week after his party would not allow him to run for the leadership.

Court documents filed last Wednesday say it is the first time in history that the NDP has prevented someone from running for the leadership.

Brian Graff, a former Liberal who joined the party last August, was informed in late December that he could not be a candidate. He was given 48 hours to appeal the decision.

His appeal was dismissed without any “reasons, explanation or basis for their decision” according to court documents. Graff’s lawyer, Nader Hasan, applied for a judicial review, complaining that the internal appeal process was flawed.

He told The Globe and Mail that while political parties have the right to choose their nominees “We’re saying that, if they want to vet out people, they at least have to respect basic principles of procedural fairness in a transparent and open way.”

If the courts rule in Graff’s favour, it could have wide-ranging implications for all political parties in Canada.

We saw from afar, via leaked Democratic National Committee emails, to what lengths party officials were willing to go to tilt the process in favour of the preferred choice of the establishment.

The dubiousness of the DNC decision to marginalize Bernie Sanders played out in the election. The insider rebuff of Sanders played into the hands of Donald Trump, who won the election, in part, because of Democratic hubris.

Similar warning signs surfaced in recent Liberal Party decisions involving byelection nominations.

Decisions were made which served to tilt the nomination process in the races to replace outgoing ministers, John McCallum and Stéphane Dion. Notwithstanding public protestations to the contrary, non-transparent internal steps were taken that served to benefit party-preferred candidates, facing tough nomination battles.

In one case, the meddling backfired. The popular mayor of St. Laurent, Alan DeSousa, was deemed ineligible to run by the party’s vetting committee. That move ostensibly paving the way for party favourite and former provincial minister Yolande James. Instead, DeSousa’s 26-year-old assistant, Emmanuella Lambropoulos, whose candidacy was green lighted, surprised everyone by winning the nomination.

By any standards, former PMO staffer Mary Ng, and former Quebec provincial minister Yolande James would both have been excellent candidates. They are young, articulate and reflect the diversity of Canada’s population.

But party meddling handed them a poisoned chalice.

In Ng’s case, the party approved a retroactive voting process resulting in the disallowance of 1,500 memberships sold by her chief opponent.

Ng’s obvious talents may help her overcome the rocky beginning of a controversial nomination victory two weeks ago. But party actions in both nominations have soured volunteers.

The moves provoked a hot debate among Liberals. Jack Siegel, former co-chair of the Liberal constitutional and legal affairs committee, defended the party on his Facebook page. He claimed “the Liberal Party has had retroactive blind cut-offs for close to 25 years,” using it as a means to prevent “dumping thousands of forms at the deadline, keeping their signups secret and overloading the party’s membership systems with the flood of forms, all in urgent need of inputting.”

Siegel was deeply involved in the nomination which prompted my departure from politics. He oversaw a decision to count 500 unsigned ballots that had not been initialed by the returning officer. The membership system in the party offices was so ‘overloaded’ that, just before midnight, an official deleted 378 eligible Liberals from the voting list. Party officials wanted to ensure the nomination of my opponent, who was the leader’s choice.

I was not the only one who exited Parliament under a cloud. Rigged nominations across the country ultimately poisoned the volunteer base. Many diehard Liberals dropped out of the party and two million of them stayed home when Prime Minister Paul Martin lost the election to Conservative Stephen Harper.

Thanks to the NDP complaint, the courts may ultimately decide that political parties need to establish rigorous, transparent processes so their decisions are not just seen to be arbitrary or biased.

Retroactive cutoffs, and green light committees with no public transparency or accountability, turn voters off.

More important, they turn party members off. As a volunteer, if you are not allowed to participate in a nomination, you may just take a pass on an election.

 

Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister. Follow her on Twitter at @Sheila_Copps.

Media

Trump effect is sweeping across Europe

No Comments 13 April 2017

All eyes on the first round of the French elections next month.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published in The Hill Times on Monday, March 13, 2017.

OTTAWA—The Trump effect is sweeping across Europe, with all eyes on the first round of the French elections next month.

National polls have the anti-immigration party of Marine Le Pen hovering around 30 per cent, with some even suggesting her numbers might climb as high as 40.

Few are predicting a Le Pen win, with opponents working in tandem to undermine her momentum.

But no one is taking anything for granted.
 
Travelling in Paris last week, I got an earful about how the American phenom was moving east.

Everywhere I went, people were talking about Le Pen’s anti-globalization message and platform planks mirroring those of U.S. President Donald Trump.

It is not the first time the Le Pen family has caught the attention of the French political class.

Marine’s father led the National Front for almost 40 years, before Marine assumed his mantle six years ago, becoming only the second president of the party her family founded. In 2012, she placed third, behind François Hollande and Nicholas Sarkozy, in the presidential election.

Her second presidential bid for the election culminating on May 7 was launched in February.

The Le Pen brand has been around for almost a half-century, but never managed to garner support from more than one in five French voters.

But the winds of change that carried Brexit and Trump seem to be leaving their mark in France too.

Le Pen herself has campaigned to soften the image of the National Front. She went so far as to expel her father-founder from the party almost two years ago for characterizing the Holocaust as a “mere detail” of history.

Le Pen’s political manifesto is eerily similar to Trump’s. Much of her political fire has been reserved for immigrants and Islam. She has also promised to put an end to a financial system that she says is wreaking havoc with blue-collar workers.

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Media

Parliament Hill will be overrun by women this week

No Comments 07 April 2017

This time, 338 young women will be taking seats in the House of Commons. Daughters of the Vote, a major national gathering spearheaded by the multi-partisan Equal Voice, will be debating key issues facing Canada in the next 150 years.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published in The Hill Times on Monday, March 6, 2017.

OTTAWA—This week, Parliament Hill will be overrun by women. Normally, that is not so unusual, as the majority of political and bureaucratic support staffers are women.

But this time, 338 young women will be taking seats in the House of Commons.

Daughters of the Vote, a major national gathering spearheaded by the multi-partisan Equal Voice, will be debating key issues facing Canada in the next 150 years.

Future leaders include 70 indigenous representatives, and women from as far away as the Arctic Circle. Twenty-five speakers will make 90-second statements in the Chamber, on issues ranging from equality for girls and women to humans rights, to immigrant, refugee and resettlement issues.
Daughters of the Vote is a celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, and the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Canada.

It took 50 years for Canadian women to actually secure the right to vote. One hundred years later, we are still far from achieving equality in the House of Commons.

The appointed Senate is much closer, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made it a point to seek equality while changing the way Senators are nominated.

In our highest elected Chamber, the country still has a long way to go.

This week, Canadians will get a chance to see exactly what a Chamber of women would look like.

Kicking off the parliamentary session will be Canada’s only female prime minister, Kim Campbell. She occupied the office in 1993 after being chosen by her party to replace Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney.

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Events

April 6: Sheila Copps to speak at Women for 50% 2018

No Comments 07 April 2017

New date!

April 6, 2017

Join us for an unprecedented full-day gathering of New Brunswick women and men, coming together to commit to gender balance in elected office and encourage more women to run.

Guest speaker: Hon. Sheila Copps

Visit Women for 50% 2018’s Facebook page for more information on their campaign.

Event Coverage

CBC News. Onetime deputy PM Sheila Copps lends voice to N.B.’s Women for 50%, April 6, 2017.  (video)

CBC Information Morning. Sheila Copps interview with Terry Sequin, April 6, 2017. (audio)

New Brunswick Women’s Council. Un congrès sans précédent au Nouveau-Brunswick, April 7, 2017.

 

Pre-event news coverage to date:

Brunswickan. Women Pushing for Representation in Legislature, March 27, 2017.

Huddle Today. “Because in New Brunswick it’s still 1977.” January 11, 2017.

919TheBend.High Profile N.B. Women Pushing For More Female Candidates In 2018 Election.” January 11, 2017

CBC News New Brunswick.Work begins now to elect more women to legislature in 2018.” January 11, 2017.

Acadie Nouvelle.Un mouvement pour 50% de femmes à l’Assemblée législative en 2018.” 11 janvier 2017

New Brunswick Women’s Council.Women’s Council applauds growing movement to increase the number of women participating in New Brunswick politics, calls for changes to political process.” Français.


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