Democracy

Vanishing Canada: Why we’re all losers in Ottawa’s war on data

By Macleans, 18 September 2015

Records deleted, burned, tossed in Dumpsters. A Maclean’s investigation on the crisis in government data.

The result is a crisis in what Canadians know—and are allowed to know—about themselves. The threat this poses to a functioning democracy has been raised over the past several years, most recently, in the massive, damning June 2015 report “Dismantling democracy: Stifling debate and dissent in Canada” produced by Voices-Voix, a non-partisan coalition of more than 200 organizations and 5,000 individuals.

Protecting Canadian Charities: A comparison of federal parties' positions on charitable rules in Canada

22 September 2015 (Toronto, ON) – Today, leading Canadian organizations have released a new summary of the federal party positions on protecting Canadian charities. This initiative is to protect charities and the voices of Canadians they represent and to encourage federal party leaders to establish new legal and policy protection that enables charities to participate more fully in public policy discussions.

It is critical for a healthy democracy that charities are involved in shaping public policy. Charities voice the concerns of millions of Canadians and provide subject matter expertise, which results in better, more effective policies and laws.

UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai

28 April 2015 (Geneva) - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, called for a new treaty binding businesses to respect fundamental human rights, and for States and corporations to fully engage with civil society organizations in the context of natural resource exploitation.

“Corporations play an outsized role in the decision-making processes about exploitation of natural resources. But they are not subject to legally binding human rights obligations,” Mr. Kiai told the UN Human Rights Council during the presentation of his latest report. “It is time to address this issue more robustly; corporations must not escape responsibility to safeguard human rights.”

Leading Canadian organizations release new summary of federal party positions on protecting Canadian charities

22 September 2015 (Toronto, ON) – Today, leading Canadian organizations have released a new summary of the federal party positions on protecting Canadian charities. This initiative is to protect charities and the voices of Canadians they represent and to encourage federal party leaders to establish new legal and policy protection that enables charities to participate more fully in public policy discussions.

In February, letters were sent to all federal political parties in Canada asking them to “make a commitment to preserving and enhancing this role by strongly supporting a new legal and policy direction that enhances and protects the ability of registered charities to participate in public policy debates.”

Formal replies have now been received from the Green, Liberal and New Democratic Parties, as well as a media comment from the Conservative Party, and are now summarized in a new comparison fact sheet. The Bloc Québécois did not reply.

CBC President Hubert Lacroix: Public Broadcasters ‘Risk Being Boiled To Death'

By The Huffington Post Canada, 18 September 2015

The president of CBC/Radio-Canada says public broadcasters are caught in a “vicious circle” of budget cuts and service reductions that threaten their continued existence.

He said public broadcasters have been too slow to react to changing technologies and a changing political environment.

The Conservative government slashed the CBC’s public subsidy starting with the 2012 budget, reducing the broadcaster’s $1-billion annual subsidy by $115 million.

Where the parties stand on charities’ political activities

By The Toronto Star, 14 September 2015

The Conservatives have no plan to change their tune on the issue of modernizing the tax rules governing how much registered charities can take part in debates on public policy, according to a new report on the issue.

However, both the NDP and the Greens have committed to updating the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) rules, while the Liberals have promised to clarify them, the report said.

Fix Canada’s Broken Access to Information System

By Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, 14 September 2015

The undersigned organizations have issued a joint letter to the major political parties in Canada calling on them to make concrete commitments to reform Canada’s access to information system.

A strong access to information system is vital to maintaining a healthy democracy. The public has the right to obtain the information it needs to participate meaningfully in the democratic process, while also holding Canada’s public officials and Members of Parliaments accountable. The current system is failing Canadians.

Attempts to protect Canada's lakes, rivers 'all but abandoned': analysis

By CTV News, 1 September 2015

A statistical analysis of the Conservative government's changes to environmental laws and procedures suggests Ottawa has "all but abandoned" attempts to protect Canada's lakes and rivers.

Environmental oversight by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans dropped dramatically during the 2000s -- a time when Canada saw huge spending in the resource industries.

Student debt collection to ramp up, according to government documents

By CBC News, 31 August 2015

Hundreds of thousands of university and college students walking onto campuses this week with help from federal loans could find themselves under more pressure than ever to repay billions of dollars in loans and grants.

Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees the Canada Student Loans program, has set more aggressive collection targets after feeling pressure from its political masters to stem the rising amount of student debt the government must write off each year, an amount that topped $300 million just two years ago.

Opinion: Why does Canada jail migrants?

By Vancouver Sun, 31 August 2015

A new multimedia project Never Home: Legislating Discrimination in Canadian Immigration chronicles a decade of drastic immigration changes by the federal government and its devastating effects on families in Canada.

Never Home finds the number of immigration avenues that grant permanent residency — such as those that facilitate entry of skilled workers, refugees or family members — has plunged. The federal government eliminated nearly 280,000 applications under the Skilled Worker Program. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of family-class immigrants dropped 20 per cent, while the number of accepted refugees dropped 30 per cent.

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