Skip to main content

Ralph Goodale, MP

Search ralphgoodale.ca

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

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 dome. There was a real possibility of falling bricks and debris.

One headline proclaimed that Parliament was at risk of “catastrophic damage”. Repair crews were called in immediately.

Yes, this historic chamber of Canadian democracy must be kept in sound physical condition. But the real catastrophe for Parliament is more likely in the behaviour of the Harper government than in the building they occupy.

Another example of political degradation emerged just a few days ago when a leaked document exposed Mr. Harper’s plan to amend the Copyright Act to allow political parties to swipe video clips out of television news programs – without permission and without remuneration – to be used in partisan attack advertising.

We all have complaints from time to time about how we get treated in particular news stories, but by and large legitimate journalists work hard to make their newscasts professional and accurate. They try to present relevant, useful information in context and in a complete, fair and balanced way. None of these virtues apply to the vicious Conservative attack ads that have so soiled Canadian politics in recent years.

Mr. Harper’s new rules would legalize what amounts to expropriation without compensation. The purloined material could be edited, twisted and distorted out of all proportion, without any possibility of complaint or remedy, and the broadcaster from whom it was stolen would be forced to run the dishonest advertising made from it.

This is a direct assault on the integrity of journalists and freedom of the press. It blurs the line between “news” and propaganda. In the eyes of most Canadians, there is an important difference. When asked whom they trust most in public life, Canadians typically identify people like veteran television news anchor Lloyd Robertson. When asked whom they trust least, a large percentage say Stephen Harper.

Mr. Harper’s problem is hyper-partisanship. To him, political advantage supersedes every other principle by which public life might be conducted. That was the instinct behind his recent amendments to the Canada Elections Act which he forced through Parliament, making it harder for certain groups of Canadians to vote and easier for electoral fraud to go undetected.

It was partisan advantage that drove the Conservative “In-and-Out” election financing scam. It took four years of investigating by Elections Canada and a police raid on Conservative Party headquarters, but in the end charges were laid, the Conservative Party had to plead guilty, was convicted, and the Court imposed the biggest possible penalty the law allows.

It was the same corrosive mentality that led to the deceitful robo-call fiasco in Guelph where a Conservative operative was convicted of electoral fraud. The Federal Court of Canada has, in fact, expressly found that voter suppression and electoral fraud occurred in a number of ridings in the last federal election and, according to the Court, the most likely source of the information used to commit that fraud was the Conservative Party’s database.

And that’s not all. Blatant violations of election rules forced Mr. Harper’s hand-picked Minister from Labrador to resign. On another front, his former Parliamentary Secretary is now on trial in Peterborough on other election financing charges. Then there was Mr. Harper’s attempt to use robo-calls to twist the work of an independent Electoral Boundaries Commission in Saskatchewan. And don’t forget the Mike Duffy/PMO ethics scandal about a secret $90,000 cheque and interference in a Senate audit. That trial starts next spring.

These are the kinds of truly debilitating things that make for real catastrophes in Parliament.

Parliament should pass Senate bill on bus driver safety

Posted on October 10, 2014

busWith 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 past year promoting legislation to better protect bus drivers and other transportation workers.

These people provide vital services to the general public in all sorts of locations in all weather conditions and at all hours of the day and night. They are often on duty alone, operating powerful vehicles on public streets and thoroughfares. By the nature of their employment, they assume serious responsibilities for public service and safety, and put themselves in a vulnerable position.

Statistics show that a wide array of offences are committed against bus drivers and similar employees some 2,000 times every year. Surely this is unacceptable.

That’s why I proposed Private Member’s Bill C-533 which would require all judges, when sentencing anyone convicted of any criminal offence against a “public transportation employee”, to take into account as an “aggravating factor” the vulnerable nature of the victim’s employment. The same factor would also apply to anyone coming to the aid of such an employee.

Bill C-533 has earned broad public support, but remains on the Order Paper of the House of Commons. Such Private Member’s Business is selected for debate and a vote by the luck of a draw. Other MP’s from all other Parties have also advanced similar proposals from time to time. This is not a partisan issue that divides along political lines.

A few months ago, a Conservative Senator (Bob Runciman) brought forward his own proposed “bus driver” legislation (Bill S-221). It differs in detail, but is similar to mine in principle. The procedure applying to Senate Bills has allowed S-221 to move more quickly. It has passed the Senate and is coming before the House of Commons today.

I encourage all MP’s to support it.

S-221 is not as broad as my proposal. It applies only to certain specific offences in the Criminal Code, not every offence. And it doesn’t make any reference to persons coming to the aid of a bus driver under attack. On the positive side, it does include a useful definition of “transportation employee” that covers certain others like taxi drivers too.

I have said from the outset that I do not consider this to be a matter of partisan politics. I just want to see useful legislation enacted as quickly as possible.

Once it becomes the law, transit operators need to launch prominent communications campaigns informing the public that offences against people like bus drivers are serious criminal matters carrying serious penalties. And offenders will be prosecuted.

Work also needs to continue on such things as better structural designs for transit vehicles and the installation of video monitors to augment safety conditions.

I hope S-221 will be successful. I am happy to have played a role in bringing this issue of bus driver safety to broad public attention and developing momentum in Parliament to strengthen the law.

Parliamentary budget office trashes Conservative EI scheme

Posted on October 9, 2014

jobs - application for employmentThe 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 taxes.

In 2011, while Canada was struggling (and we still are) with inadequate job creation following the 2008 recession, the Harper government started to increase its job-killing EI payroll taxes – by more than $600-million cumulatively every year. Last year, they imposed a three-year freeze on the premium rate at the new, higher and obviously excessive level to which it had escalated.

At the bottom line, this means the Harper regime has collected well over $5-billion in additional EI revenues since 2011, and if its inflated rate remains frozen in place (as planned) until 2017, it will rake-in further excess revenues of another $5-billion.

This is just one of the facts revealed by today’s PBO analysis.

If EI premium rates were to match existing program costs, the rate for 2015 would drop across the board by about 7%, and in 2016 by nearly 15%. But that’s not Mr. Harper’s plan. He is maintaining his higher-than-necessary, job-killing EI payroll taxes for at least another two years.

And in the meantime, he has devised a deeply-flawed short-term EI tax credit aimed exclusively at small employers who agree to stay small. The way this credit is designed, it is disconnected from new job creation and the employer’s payroll needs to stay below a certain cap (i.e., the equivalent of about 12 -15 employees). Perversely, if a firm wants to grow beyond that – creating more jobs – they will be penalized by losing the credit entirely.

Despite new job creation not being a condition for getting this tax credit, the government predicted it would generate some 25,000 jobs coincidentally. The PBO has destroyed that myth. It says the program can be expected to produce a meagre 200 jobs in 2015 and just 600 in 2016 – while costing $550-million over those two years.

That’s a huge toll for a negligible gain. Given the foolish way the government credit is set-up, most observers think it is really intended for two other, more political purposes:

(a) To serve as a consolation prize for small businesses who are deeply angry at the government for the way it has so mangled the Temporary Foreign Workers Program; and

(b) To appear to be doing something for small businesses while still collecting billions of dollars in extra EI revenues to pad its accounts as is declares a surplus next spring.

The PBO makes this very powerful point – by keeping EI rates at excessively high levels over the next two years, the Harper government will effectively kill 2,000 jobs in 2015 and a further 8,000 jobs in 2016.

So add it all up. Mr. Harper’s ludicrous EI policies will cost taxpayers $550-million in unproductive expenditures, employers and employees will pay some $5-billion in excess taxation, and the country will lose a net 9,200 jobs.

And this man claims to be an economist?

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

Federal EI premium rates (1994 to 2014)

Posted on September 16, 2014

Liberal governments cut EI premiums every single year between 1994 and 2006 — saving employers and employees some $42 billion through lower payroll taxes! Year Employee Rate […]

Read more

A poor response to bad job numbers and a weak economy

Posted on September 15, 2014

Principled officials in the federal Finance department will be chagrined to think some people might blame them for the Harper government’s mangled response to the problem […]

Read more

Comments to the Banff Forum

Posted on September 12, 2014

Topic: Civility in Canadian Politics – Has it declined in recent years? Saskatoon, Sk — September 12th, 2014 By Hon Ralph Goodale, PC, MP (Wascana) Deputy […]

Read more