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Ralph Goodale, MP

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Dear friends,

Thank you for visiting my website. I hope this offers you useful information on the work I am doing as Wascana’s Member of Parliament and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Opposition in the House of Commons.

If you have any questions or comments about any federal program or service, or need help dealing with any department or agency of the Government of Canada, please don’t hesitate to contact my Constituency Office. It is an honour to serve our community.

Ralph

Was Michael Sona a Solitary Rogue Acting all Alone?

Posted on August 18, 2014

The big political news this past week was the long awaited verdict in the infamous “robocall” trial of Conservative staffer, Michael Sona. He was convicted of committing “election fraud” in the Guelph constituency in 2011, and is now awaiting his sentence.

Sona was accused and found guilty of participating in an elaborate scheme to prevent voters in that year’s federal election from casting ballots against the Harper government. This perversion of democracy took place when some 7,000 eligible voters received automated “robocalls” on election day telling them, falsely, that their poll locations had been changed at the last minute.

Those phone messages were lies, and the only thing the 7,000 voters had in common was their intention NOT to vote Conservative. The attempt to suppress their votes — i.e., election fraud — was obvious.

That Michael Sona was convicted was no great surprise. What is surprising — and troubling — is the clear and common view among the trial Judge, the prosecutor and the defence counsel that Sona was not likely a solitary miscreant off on a romp of his own, but must have had some help.

This contradicts the Conservative line that Sona acted alone. Even though he was one of their most faithful soldiers, his Party quickly threw him “under the bus” to take all the blame all by himself. But is that credible? The Defence, the Crown and the Judge all think not.

Furthermore, in a separate court case last year, a Judge of the Federal Court hearing other robocall evidence made the explicit finding that election fraud did, in fact, occur in a number of places in the 2011 campaign, and the most likely source of the information used to identify susceptible voters was the Conservative Party’s massive and highly secretive database.

So who could get access to that database? And how? What was the system for skimming off the names to be misled? Who devised the technology? Was the system hacked? Has any such hacking been reported to police and investigated?

Why did one of Sona’s Conservative colleagues have to get an immunity agreement from the Crown before he testified — immunity from what? Why did another key player in the Conservative campaign refuse even to be interviewed by Elections Canada, and then suddenly moved to Kuwait?

Troubling questions call for answers, but they won’t be forthcoming from the Party brass who maintain that Sona was just a devious one-man show run amock. So the burden of getting to the bottom of this affair and protecting the integrity of our democracy falls to Elections Canada.

But wait, the Harper Conservatives have just changed the Elections Act. The power to investigate election fraud is no longer vested in Elections Canada (an agency that reports to Parliament). Instead, it now comes under the wing of the Department of Justice (an integral part of the government). Those who carry the investigative responsibility have a steep hill to climb to demonstrate their independence and their unfettered determination to protect the public interest.

And furthermore, the investigators still don’t have the power, requested by Elections Canada but withheld by the government, to compel reluctant witnesses to disclose what they know about bad behaviour. That power could make a difference in dealing with someone seeking an immunity deal or considering a quick trip to Kuwait.

How to make water a consistent prairie asset?

Posted on August 11, 2014

water splashThunder storms pounded the Regina area this past weekend with more wind and heavy rain. Property damage was significant in places like White City as severe prairie weather patterns continue.

In late June, extraordinary rainfall flooded southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba. Farmland was inundated. Much of the oil patch was rendered inaccessible. Roads, bridges and other public infrastructure were damaged. Many homes and businesses were severely impaired. The losses will tally hundreds of millions of dollars.

All this follows the most costly inundation in Canadian history just last year in southern Alberta and previous large floods across the eastern prairies in 2011. Prior to that, 2009 was a drought year in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while Manitoba had floods. The period from 2000 to 2004 was reported to be the driest across the West in 800 years.

When you’re talking about water, nothing is more vital to prairie life and livelihoods. It’s extremely variable, from far too much of it to far too little, and getting more so with the compounding impacts of climate change. It’s highly controversial and expensive. And it affects everyone, including every type and level of government.

When you’re in the midst of those debilitating drought years, it’s frustrating to think of years like this one when too much water surged across the countryside without much apparent planning, control, forecasting or even last minute warnings. And that frustration works in the opposite direction too.

So what can be done to improve our knowledge of these water cycles from flood to drought and back again? Are they becoming more extreme and frequent as part of climate change?

What should be done to better predict significant weather patterns and provide the public with timely warnings of what’s coming? Are we using the best weather radar technology? Is the network comprehensive?

Are we up-to-date or behind the curve on forecasting floods?

Is the most effective public infrastructure in place to withstand increasingly violent weather patterns?

What about on-farm drainage issues? Are the rules sufficient and clear? Are landowners following those rules? Does enforcement need to be strengthened? Should some land use incentives be developed?

Where do natural wetlands fit into our prairie-wide eco-system? What role do they play in flood mitigation? Are they being debilitated?

Should all governments be working better together, and in cooperation with the private sector, on a comprehensive water strategy for the prairies – to better understand, conserve, manage and develop our precious water resources?

Can we channel and save flood waters more constructively? What new water infrastructure would that take?

Why has the uptake on the original vision for Gardiner Dam and Lake Diefenbaker been so limited? Is there more genuine potential for irrigation and water-based economic development?

What about water quality and community water security – especially for rural, remote and Aboriginal communities?

Why did the Government of Canada eliminate the “Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration” which had, over 75 years, earned a sterling reputation as one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities in water management, conservation, development and flood control?

What would a modern PFRA look like to help fit the needs of the 21st century? How best can all governments collaborate?

These are just a few of many vital questions about water risks and benefits, and related public policy considerations.

To begin a constructive dialogue about these issues, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will be in Saskatoon later this week to meet with water experts from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as farm leaders and some of those who previously led PFRA. The Government of Canada has a useful role to play. Justin wants to ensure we get it right.

Harper’s economic policies continue to produce dismal results

Posted on August 8, 2014

job adsIn July, a net gain of just 200 jobs – that’s right, two hundred – in this whole country. And all of them part-time. Thank you Stephen Harper!

These latest employment statistics, released today, continue the Harper government’s record of dismal mediocrity.

While Canada’s overall working-age population continued to grow, the number of people actively looking for work (i.e., the “participation rate”) dropped by 0.2%, meaning another 35,400 Canadians just gave up looking for work.

Equally bad, the national economy continues to lose full-time jobs – by close to 60,000 in July. While these were replaced by part-time employment, job quality and job security clearly continue to dwindle.

Senior private sector economists are describing July’s jobs report as “shocking”. In particular, they point to the weakening labour force participation rate and the growing discouragement among the unemployed. Confidence and hope are low.

But not even counting those who have dropped out, there are more than 1.3 million jobless Canadians today. That’s 220,000 more than before the 2008 recession.

Some recovery.

This is what you get with Mr. Harper who seems content to have the worst record on economic growth of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett.

Whatever happened to PFRA?

Posted on August 8, 2014

In the aftermath of severe flooding across a big portion of southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba this summer, a number of prairie people have asked why […]

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Grain regulations confirm chronic policy failures

Posted on August 2, 2014

It was back in 2007, nearly eight years ago, when the Harper government was first confronted with complaints about grain handling and transportation deficiencies. Since then, […]

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Mr. Harper’s trade performance: barely mediocre

Posted on July 28, 2014

About a year ago, with the fallout from Mike Duffy and ethical scandals in the Prime Minister’s Office contaminating just about everything, Stephen Harper launched an […]

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Harper Conservatives “on the attack” against courts

Posted on July 23, 2014

Remember in 2006 when Stephen Harper tried to reassure Canadians that they didn’t need to worry about his “extreme tendencies” because three “safeguards” in our system […]

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Bank of Canada underlines lack of growth

Posted on July 21, 2014

This week the Bank of Canada reiterated our country’s weak economic standing by downgrading expectations for growth both this year and next. “Right now, we don’t […]

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The key question: who appointed Mike Duffy?

Posted on July 17, 2014

It’s a terribly sad day for Parliament when a Member of the Senate gets hauled before the criminal courts to face 31 charges of fraud, bribery […]

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Job numbers expose a stalling economy

Posted on July 14, 2014

Stephen Harper continues to have the worst economic growth record of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett in the 1930′s, and the most recent employment statistics, […]

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