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Saturday
Sep132014

Thank You For The Nomination

Hello friends,

I appreciate the nominations this year for the Brant News Readers' Choice awards in the "Best People" category for "Best Local Politician" and "Best Host".

Voting ends Sunday at 6pm at http://brantnewsreaderschoice.ca/

We have a wealth of talent in Brantford-Brant in a variety of categories so if you have a few minutes, even if it is not for me, please take the time and vote.

Thanks.

Sunday
Jun082014

Progressives, Strategic Voting and the Dangers of Rewarding Bad Behaviour.

In 2011 I ran as an anti-poverty candidate in the federal election.

I lost, while in the same election a Conservative named Chris Alexander who said real poverty didn't exist in Canada won.

Despite that I still believe strongly in the issues of poverty, housing and fairness.  At the doors, very few care and I think perhaps fewer voters care now.  

That pains me deeply.

What also pains me is that the recent Provincial Leader’s debate had no questions about health care, poverty, affordable housing and other systemic issues that create inequality.  More troubling - I haven't seen one major media outlet tackle this.  Many studies show that health care and inequality are top issues on the minds of citizens but the major cable companies have failed at recognizing this.  I'm happy that Andrea Horwath, despite this brought up health care, poverty and the fact that the Liberal and Conservative mantra of reducing corporate taxes at the cost of everything else hasn't worked to get Ontario where it needs to be.

I'm a social worker and I'm a politician.  

Having a foot in both worlds you see directly the effects of political apathy and misunderstanding and how they reward mediocre governments.

Progressives are so afraid of Conservatives that they often reward Liberals who enact many of the same policies. In Ontario we don’t hold Liberal governments to account even if they waste money, break promises and make sure to act on their least progressive policies first before never quite getting to their more progressive platform promises.

As my friend Lucas reminds me “My only problem with the Liberals is how they govern.”  Tom Mulcair was recently in Brantford and to a room of 150 local residents I think he said it best “Liberals flash left but turn right and we all know that causes accidents.”

How do they get away with it?  Years of consultation on a variety of progressive issues with very little concrete action.  

Years of scandal and wasted billions that could have gone to health care or inequality but hey as long as they aren’t as scary as the PCs they don’t have to follow through on their more progressive promises. 

I think its the hidden catch-22 of “strategic voting”.

It rewards the muddy middle.  Voters don’t reward what they want, they reward what they less afraid of.  We blame political parties for being shortsighted but we are often very short-sighted with our own vote and it creates parties all shooting for the middle.

Then we lament that all the parties vie for centrist votes.

With strategic voting we’ve ignored bold platforms for generations by voting with our fear instead of our conscience.  In Ontario we’ve used our votes to say don’t be bold, be liberal.

Then we blame the political process.

Non-political activists need to do more to change the minds of the voting public on the issues they care about. 

I say this as someone who has done a lot of work on systemic issues and as someone who also goes to doors to find out how - for how many people it is not a voting issue. People care about it to some degree but tend not to vote around that.

I'm very critical publicly at all the parties including mine on their abandonment provincially on affordable housing this election and I plan on using my experience in my party to continue to advocate for it, but to also explain at every opportunity I can the benefits to everyone when we invest in affordable housing.

Finally, we believe all parties are the same and we perpetuate that.  Well it is simply not true.

How many times have you heard - all the leaders said they would cancel the gas plants?  No - the PC and the Liberal leaders said that.  Andrea Horwath said she would have to get more information on the true costs of cancellation before she would commit either way.  

But the lie is repeated again and again.

The NDP platform is running to the right of the Liberals. Another whopper.

It’s more centrist than our other platforms but I do think there are some things that - from my personal experience as a social worker and as someone who grew up in the poverty system that are being offered in this election that would actually provide tangible help to the most vulnerable in our community including:

  • raising the minimum wage to $12 and indexing it, 
  • closing corp tax loop holes and reversing the corporate tax cuts by over 700 million a year, 
  • modestly raising taxes on the top 2% of earners, 
  • investing 260 million in childcare, 
  • freezing tuition, keeping the 30% subsidy and not charging students provincial interest on their debts.  We currently encourage students to get an education but then treat them as profit centres for years afterwards. 
  • 50, 24 hour nurse practitioner led health clinics to make health care more accessible, 
  • increasing and indexing the Child Benefit, 
  • providing stable/predictable/increased funding for child nutrition programs up to 15 million dollars, 
  • and reducing energy costs for citizens and employers. Controvertial to some but when employers site this as the number one reason for leaving the province and seniors and those in poverty site it as something they are most afraid of hurting their already strained budget action needs to be taken.     

These are all things that I feel are progressive and will directly help vulnerable people. All offered by Andrea's NDP and like other NDP provincial governments the assumption is that as the provincial books get healthier the money doesn't go to more corporate tax cuts but to things that will help Ontarians.

The Liberals on the other hand are presenting a bunch of progressive budget promises but their track record for follow through on progressive promises is abysmal.  Wynne’s one time spending spree will be followed by the deepest cuts since the Harris years, read the fine print of the Liberal plan and look at their record of promises - who else is excited for 11 more years of poverty consultations?  Not me.

Strategic voting - it's your right but in my opinion its just code for voting Liberal and allows them to not be very ambitious in their own right - they just have to be a little less scary than the PCs. I think it breeds mediocre representation and is part of the reason ALL parties have been aiming for the centre - you get what you vote for. 

We complain about politicians only thinking of the short term but then we reward those same politicians by voting with our short-term impulses too.  So now voters and parties both are creating a system of short term gain instead of long term.

If everyone voted their conscience I bet we'd have an NDP government and a more progressive one at that, it's still the most progressive option however by a long shot. 

Thanks for letting me share, hope all is well beyond politics because in politics things are not well and definitely need to change.

Thursday
May152014

Support Alex Felsky (@AlexFelsky) this Provincial Election.

 

Today was my last day on the campaign before my wedding and it was a good one.  Provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath came to visit Brant and support the Alex Felsky campaign.

Support is the operative word, as there were well over 100 local supporters there as well having a great time.  A pretty magical night for a campaign.

Before I go on this break I want to implore you to do what you can to support Alex's campaign

I got to know Alex during my federal campaign when she volunteered, and a little bit before hand when I would call local members for a sign or to let them know about events.  Alex and her husband Tim always took time to chat about local issues, and encourage us to keep up the good fight.  

Flash forward a few years later and I remember when I first approached her to consider running.  It's been nearly a year and a half since that meeting in her home. I'm so glad she said yes and she's done an amazing job, as a hard working, intelligent and passionate candidate. 

Alex and her team are doing the work that needs to be done.  For nearly a year now she has been hitting the doors and doing the important work to connect and listen to the community.  She's participated in community events, she has written, she has organized and she has shown herself to be a great candidate who really cares about this community and believes that a sensical government has a postive role to play in improving things like employment, small business sustainability, the environment, education and health care.

She knows her stuff and her experience in business, labour, the helping fields and various equality and human rights movements servers her well.  It will serve us well to if we work together to make her our next MPP in Brant.

Alex speaks her mind, advocates for people and isn't caught up in the Queens Park bubble. She's a fresh, refreshing and active voice on the provincial political scene in Brant and one I believe we need.

 

There are 4 candidates in this provincial election I've worked with, I know and respect - we're really lucky in Brant that way - but I believe strongly that Alex, Andrea and the Ontario NDP are poised to make the most positive change for our riding and our province if elected.

While I'm taking a break for a little thing called my wedding and honeymoon I've been proud this election to have put my money and effort where my mouth is.

Helping with communications, knocking on doors, helping with events, making phone calls at the office, picking up shirts, delivering signs and being a sounding board as someone local on the team with candidate experience.

It's been fun volunteering and donating what I can. And I hope you consider doing the same.

I've done this while working 2 full-time consuming jobs in the education and social work sectors (a full time and a part time), helping to run my own small business, planning a wedding and all the various other life and community stuff that I love to do.

Sometimes these things can get in the way of engaging in political change. We are very busy people, living very busy lives.  But don't let it stop you from being involved in important political change.


There are so many ways you can help, and meet wonderful people at the same time during a political campaign.  

If we turn off from politics we waste so many opportunities to improve our community and our province.  Don't tune out but do turn up!

If you can find a few hours this campaign to go to the office and donate your time and energy, do it.

If you can find a little room in your budget, when your not busy paying the cost of rising hydro and gas fees, please consider a donation that fits your budget.

If you can tell some friends and family why you're supporting Alex and Andrea this election you can help make people aware of important issues and options. 

If you can attend a debate, take a lawn sign, drive someone to a voting station, share a story then you can push for some positive change and a government, premier and MPP  that makes sense.

I can't wait to get back at the beginning of June and re-join my friends and fellow volunteers on the campaign trail. I'm excited to see how Alex's campaign will keep rising as the momentum continues to grow.

I hope when I get back you'll be one of the people I will be lucky enought to get to know better as we campaign together.  This is an important election and we need as many people as possible to continue to push for a breakthrough in Brant.  We need you to help make that change.

Connect with the campaign at http://www.alexfelsky.ca/and help them keep up the good fight to send responsible, fresh voices to Queen's Park to represent us.

And don't forget to vote on June 12th!  And you new or lapsed voters can learn more about how to vote here:  http://www.alexfelsky.ca/how_to_vote. I hope you do.

Sincerely,

- Marc Laferriere

Thursday
May012014

Full Video of #FacesOfPoverty Roundtable

Thursday
May012014

Over 50 attend #FacesOfPoverty 

I want to thank the Brantford Expositor for their #FacesofPoverty Series. I was invited to be one of their speakers at their live event on poverty issues last night with the head of the local food bank and an amazing young woman with current lived experience.
 
Over 50 attended live and many participated online in the live blog experience in a respectful and engaging way.

But now we need action including:
  • financial education as a mandatory part of schooling,
  • greater access to affordable & healthy food,
  • less barriers to employment,
  • public transportations links for the County, Six Nations and New Credit,
  • funding to help young people in poverty get a drivers licence,
  • 600 million dollars a year to eradicate seniors poverty in Canada,
  • imposing tougher rules to make sure people aren't gouged at the pumps and on their energy bills,
  • incentives that steer companies away from relying on temporary work agencies when they could hire people for a living wage instead,
  • and better access to health care, mental health care and pharmacare.

Economically it makes a lot of sense to fight poverty - every dollar spent saves multiple dollars in health care and justice systems costs.  Pharamacare alone is projected to save us 2 billion dollars as a country due to lower drug costs because of bulk buying power and prevention of further disease complications.

Conversations, like the ones held last night won't fix the problems in and of themselves, but overtime they will reduce the stigma surrounding poverty and combat the inaccuracies that are out there that stop us from doing sensical things to make this a better and more equitable country.  

Events like #FacesOfPoverty help to bust up the myths that are out there so that we can gain the political will to do the things that are needed.  Things that will make for a more prosperous, fairer country with better opportunities and quality of life for every Canadian.

See the Brantford Expositor's Live Blog of the event here:

 

A shot of the audience at #FacesOfPoverty - an excellent Brantford Expositor event on the realities of local poverty, and what can be done to make progress on this issue.