OTTAWA – International Women’s Day is a reminder to celebrate the great achievements that society has made in recognizing the equality of women. “Canadian girls have many more role models and they have many more opportunities in every aspect of life. They also have the right to be involved in politics. This is worthy of celebration,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “But there is still a long road ahead. International Women’s Day is also a day to recognize that we have to continue the work for gender equality.”
Within the past three years, we have seen a huge change in the Canadian political landscape. Following historic gains in the 2011 election, furthered by the recent by-elections, have resulted in an all-time high percentage of 25% of women elected to Parliament. More Canadians than ever are now governed by premiers who are women as four provinces have women at their helm.
As the only woman leader of a parliamentary party, Elizabeth May insists on Canada continuing to work toward increasing the representation of women in Parliament, but warns about their stereotyping:
“Women represent over half of the population of Canada, yet only 25 percent of Parliamentarians are women,” she said. “Adding to that, when women are elected there is still stereotyping of their roles and abilities, media imbalances in their treatment, and a rampant sexist perception of their conduct and behaviour.”
Sexism made the news recently in Ottawa. University of Ottawa Chancellor and former Governor General Michaëlle Jean and University of Ottawa President Allan Rock held a press conference on Thursday to announce the establishment of a task force to look at how to combat sexist behaviour and violence against women. The announcement came in the wake of a scandal involving a less than appropriate chat by students and a sex assault probe of the school’s men’s hockey team.
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OTTAWA – The Green Party is not surprised with the decision released yesterday, by the National Energy Board (NEB), to approve, with conditions, the Enbridge Pipelines application for the Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project.
Enbridge obtained approval for the Line 9B reversal of a 639 kilometer section between North Westover (Ontario) and Montreal (Quebec). Enbridge can also go forward with increasing Line 9 overall capacity from 240,000 to 300,000 barrels per day from Sarnia to Montreal. The new revised Line Rules and Regulations Tariff will also allow transportation of so-called “dilbit.” Since unprocessed bitumen is a solid and cannot flow in pipelines, it is proposed that the bitumen will be mixed with another fossil fuel product called “diluent.”
“The Green Party continues to oppose any and all pipelines conveying unprocessed bitumen, mixed with imported toxic diluent, to ports for export. We do not believe the Energy East pipeline or the Line 9 reversal are really about getting Alberta product to Eastern Canadians, but to tankers, this time on the east coast. Should there be a leak, bitumen and diluents have proven impossible to clean up. Canada’s energy security can only be enhanced if the bitumen is upgraded to synthetic crude and processed in refineries closer to the resources.” said Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and leader of the Green Party of Canada.
“Enbridge’s Line 9 is 38-years-old, and it simply doesn’t measure up to our environmental standards. There have been at least 35 spills associated with the pipeline, and some of these haven’t even been reported to the communities they affect. We need proposals to refine our oil here at home with a view to national energy security, but the Canadian economy won’t reap the benefits unless we can be sure that there are adequate safeguards in place to protect against damaging oil spills,” said Bruce Hyer, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Superior North and Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada.
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is calling for greater public and parliamentary scrutiny of a recently announced tax agreement between Canada and the United States, stating that it threatens the rights of Canadians and may even violate the Constitution.
On February 5th, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the United States and Canada had signed an intergovernmental agreement to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). This U.S. law requires all foreign financial institutions to report the personal financial information of ‘U.S. persons’ living abroad to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“Although it contains certain exemptions, the agreement negotiated by Minister Flaherty fails to address the most significant threats that FATCA poses to Canadian privacy and human rights,” said Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada. “This agreement also ignores the fact that Canada already has a robust information-sharing regime with the United States, and that Canada stands to gain virtually nothing from it.”
Under FATCA, Canadian banks will be required to search all Canadian financial accounts for the account records of U.S. persons and to report the findings to the Canada Revenue Agency, who will then provide the information to the IRS. In addition to being a significant privacy concern, this would likely be a violation of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which forbids discrimination based on “national or ethnic origin.”
Minister Flaherty and U.S. officials have set a March 10 deadline for public comments on the agreement, after which point the government will bring forward legislation to bring FATCA into effect. Said May: “This deadline should be extended to provide greater opportunities for the public to offer comments on the proposal – There is no reason why public input needs to be rushed on this issue.”
In Question Period Monday, May challenged the constitutionality of the provisions, as they violate s 15 of the Charter, the section that guarantees that all Canadians are equal under our laws. She cited the advice of distinguished Constitutional law professor, Peter Hogg, former Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School who has advised the Conservative administration that the FATCA is not likely to survive a Charter Challenge.
There are an estimated 1 million Canadians with U.S. citizenship or legal status who will be directly affected by this legislation; hundreds of thousands of their family members, employers, and business partners are likely to be affected as well.
Nicholas GallCommunications OfficerGreen Party of Canada(613) 562 firstname.lastname@example.org
OTTAWA – Today, Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, asked for unanimous consent on a motion to invite the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the House of Commons.
During the height of the Senate-PMO scandal, the Conservative led Senate passed a motion to have the Auditor General perform a comprehensive audit on all Senators. Some Senators, notably Senator Percy Downe in a letter to all Party leaders, are asking Members of the House of Commons to join the Senate in its effort to increase transparency.
With this motion, May’s intention is not to question the integrity of any MPs, but to simply ask that the House hold itself to the same standard they are asking of the Senate
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, stated, “I don’t question the integrity of any of my colleagues, but I believe in a simple principle. We, as Members of the House of Commons, must hold ourselves to the same level of transparency as that we expect from the Senate. That is why, I asked my colleagues in the House to support the following motion ” :
That this House acknowledge that the value of Canada’s democratic institutions to the life of the country cannot be reduced to “value for tax-dollars” or “return on investment” recognize that Canadians expect responsibility, transparency, and accountability from their elected representatives and institutions of government; and therefore, invite the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of House of Commons’ expenses, including Members of Parliament, in addition to the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministers of Cabinet.