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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

A “cap” doesn’t hide the unfairness

Posted on October 30, 2014

Within hours of the federal budget last spring, then-Finance Minister, the late Jim Flaherty, caused a flap in his own Conservative Caucus by openly criticizing Stephen Harper’s favourite proposed tax break.

For more than four years, Mr. Harper has been promoting a form of “income splitting” whereby a higher-income taxpayer could assign a portion of his/her earnings (up to $50,000) to his/her spouse to be taxed at the spouse’s lower rate. Mr. Flaherty was concerned that such a policy would be expensive and quite unfair to the vast majority of Canadians. He was right.

His concerns were echoed and amplified by the independent analyses of the C.D. Howe Institute, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Fraser Institute, the Broadbent Institute, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the 3-D Policy group, the Caledon Institute, and many others. Mr. Harper has announced some policy tweaks to his plan (including a “cap” on the largest benefits going to the very wealthiest Canadians), but Mr. Flaherty’s criticisms remain valid.

The proposed income splitting scheme will cost the federal treasury some $2-billion annually, providing benefits to fewer than 15% of Canadian households – 85% are left out.

Single moms and single dads get nothing. Spouses with similar incomes (within the same tax bracket) get nothing. Families without children under the age of 18 get nothing. The most needy and lowest income families get nothing.

Through this plan, Mr. Harper is also continuing his practice of convoluting the tax code with boutique measures which narrowly reflect conservative social engineering. You have to wedge yourself into a conservative social policy pigeon-hole in order to qualify, but Mr. Harper’s mould doesn’t fit the reality of most Canadians’ lives.

And with every new measure, the tax code gets more complex and incomprehensible, making broad-based personal income tax rate reductions more and more unlikely. And that does nothing for Canadian competitiveness or economic growth.

The assailants must not win!

Posted on October 27, 2014

parliament buildings backThe horror that gripped Canadians last week was pretty much without precedent.

In two apparently unconnected incidents – the first on Monday in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu (not far from Montreal) and the second on Wednesday at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa – two fine members of the Canadian Forces became victims of brutal, wanton, insane violence perpetrated here on Canadian soil by the most despicable of criminals.

The attacker in Ottawa also invaded the Parliament Buildings and died in a hail of bullets in the iconic Centre Block near the door to the Parliamentary Library. The St. Jean assailant was killed in a roadside confrontation with Quebec police.

Shock waves rippled across Canada. There was a huge outpouring of grief, respect and affection for Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. And there is anger that these tragic and senseless events have marred our country.

Canadians fully understand the need for security, and the need to adjust it appropriately to deal with changing threats. Canadians also treasure their values, their rights and freedoms and the rule of law in a welcoming, peaceful democracy – these are the qualities that set us apart from the perpetrators of last week’s crimes.

As lawmakers begin to craft the right responses, Justin Trudeau made two important points in the immediate aftermath of the mayhem:

First, these attacks on our military and the most cherished symbols of our democracy were intended to embed fear in our lives, to cause us to think differently about our surroundings and fellow citizens – in short, to forget who we are and what Canada stands for. If we succumb to that fear, the bad guys win.

Secondly, these killers were not larger-than-life giants or martyrs. They were criminals and weaklings. They deserve no credibility. And they certainly do not get to dictate our values, how we act as a nation, how we govern ourselves or how we treat each other.

The truth in Mr. Trudeau’s comments was reflected frequently last week in the spontaneous behaviour of Canadians.

On the steps of the War Memorial, with Corporal Cirillo’s killer only steps away, the general public and first responders selflessly rushed forward to try to save his life.

Inside the Centre Block, police and security guards led by the intrepid Kevin Vickers, Sergeant-at-Arms, set aside any thought of their own personal safety to safeguard the public and Parliamentarians.

The immediate statements of all political leaders were entirely non-partisan. There was a sense of cohesion and solidarity in their condolences to the fallen soldiers’ families, their praise for the military, police and security officers, and their defence of Canadian freedoms and values.

The House of Commons met on schedule the morning after the attack and the business of the country carried on.

The Honour Guards quickly returned to the War Memorial, just as soon as it was cleared as a crime scene. And thousands of ordinary Canadians have turned out for days to pay their respects and defy the assailants.

Muslim groups organized public events across the country to condemn the appalling violence.

In response to the defacing of a mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta, the non-Muslim population turned out in force to help clean up the mess and build bridges of hope and community.

As Corporal Cirillo’s funeral cavalcade made its way from Ottawa to his native Hamilton, along Ontario’s Highway of Heroes, thousands lined the route to say a final farewell and show Canadian resilience and courage.

In all these ways – and in news reports, editorials, social media and phone-in commentaries – Canadians have been unequivocal in their profound respect for the two soldiers we lost last week, and equally strong and clear in refusing to give in to fear.

This depth of feeling speaks well of our country. It reveals an engaged population alert to how governments will react to last week’s trauma. We will not be intimidated into subverting our freedoms, distorting our values or diminishing our way of life.

Mr. Harper’s economic view is too narrow

Posted on October 20, 2014

Blue Stock Ticker Zig ZagLast week, as world petroleum prices tumbled, triggering a slump in stock markets, a lower Canadian dollar and renewed warnings about government revenues, there was a clear policy message for the Harper government – your plans for the economy are too narrowly based, leaving Canada unnecessarily exposed to greater risks.

Since taking power in 2006, Mr. Harper has had only two clear economic policy thrusts. First, his obsession with eviscerating the Government of Canada in every way he possibly can, regardless of the impact on important federal services. And second, his predominant reliance on the natural resources private sector for investment, growth and jobs.

The weakness in such an approach is obvious. The markets for most Canadian natural resources are global. When those markets are booming, the benefits for Canada can be impressive. And thank goodness they have been, because without growth in basic resource industries in provinces like Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada might not have had any net economic growth at all over the past half-decade.

But here’s the rub – when resources hit a rough patch, Canada has too little to fall back on because our national economic base has become too limited. We don’t have enough eggs in other baskets. We need to become more proficient at many more things than exporting raw resources alone.

And even within the resources sector, the Harper government’s narrow focus is counterproductive.

In their near-mindless hacking and slashing of the federal role in relation to environmental integrity, for example, they have created a global reputation for Canada as an irresponsible environmental laggard. That negative image – deserved or not – is the biggest single impediment blocking US government approval for the Keystone-XL pipeline. If Mr. Harper had even a modicum of environmental credibility, this project could have been green-lit long ago.

The lack of market access for Canadian energy products brought on by Mr. Harper’s policy delinquency is costing producers billions of dollars in lost global prices.

Beyond convincing our trading partners that Canada can be trusted once again on key global concerns like the environment, the federal government also urgently needs a growth agenda that includes, but extends far beyond, resource developments.

The Harper government seems caught in a time warp, out-of-touch with the current realities and aspirations of typical middle-class Canadians and all those who are working so hard just to make it to the middle-class. It’s just like 2008 all over again when Mr. Harper dismissed a looming recession as merely “a good buying opportunity” and prescribed five years of federal austerity as the solution. He was so, so wrong.

And now, he is presiding over over the worst economic growth record of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett in the 1930s, global growth is sputtering, Europe is in big trouble, even China is slowing, the energy sector is showing some vulnerability, new global security risks and health threats have emerged, and what’s the Harper plan? The same mistaken scheme he tried in 2008!

But Canadians have moved on. A clear majority feel neither this government nor the country are headed in the right direction. They want change, including an economic agenda for broad-based growth that doesn’t leave out big regions of the country, sectors of the economy or portions of the population.

The elements of such a growth agenda are becoming clearer.

Transformative investments in public infrastructure are one cornerstone – the most cost-effective way to drive jobs and growth nationally, improve productivity and capture the value of low interest rates in long-term capital assets. Another key component is greater access to all forms of post-secondary education and higher skills. Another is science and innovation. Another is persistent global branding and marketing to build a consistent Canadian trade surplus.

Policies like these would help to broaden and deepen the economy nationally and in all of Canada’s regions. They will get lip service from the Harper government, but little substantive action. His focus will remain narrow. And the winds of political change will continue to grow stronger.

About that “catastrophe” in the House of Commons…

Posted on October 14, 2014

Media reports last week revealed serious structural defects in the ornate stonework and stained glass windows that crown the House of Commons chamber like a cathedral […]

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Parliament should pass Senate bill on bus driver safety

Posted on October 10, 2014

With the support of transit employees, their unions, municipalities and other transit operators, police officers, the Canadian Urban Transit Association and others, I have spent the […]

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Parliamentary budget office trashes Conservative EI scheme

Posted on October 9, 2014

The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) released a report today that makes a sad joke of the way the Harper government is handling Employment Insurance (EI) payroll […]

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In search of clarity, avoiding the quagmire

Posted on October 6, 2014

Midway through his announcement last Friday that he is sending Canadians to war in Iraq, Stephen Harper said he wanted to “be clear on the objectives […]

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Mr. Harper deflates expectations of progress

Posted on September 29, 2014

It’s a basic expectation of every new generation of Canadians that if they work hard and make the most of their opportunities, they will achieve a […]

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An agenda to strengthen democracy

Posted on September 25, 2014

Yesterday, the House of Commons voted in principle on Conservative MP Michael Chong’s proposed legislation to loosen the grip of Party Leaders over their respective Members […]

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Is Mr. Harper’s tax credit an apology for TFW fiasco?

Posted on September 22, 2014

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 […]

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