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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Busy Week Back for Valeriote

There's no moss on Guelph MP Frank Valeriote this week as his team's released two press releases today on urgent federal matters. Read the complete press releases below:

Liberals call for comprehensive plan for Pakistan flood relief

OTTAWA – The Conservative government’s response to the Pakistan flooding tragedy has been slow off the mark from the very beginning, and it now requires a comprehensive plan before it is too late, Liberals charged

“They were merely reacting with half-hearted measures while the devastation in the north of Pakistan continued,” said Liberal MP Frank Valeriote. “It took this government weeks to announce they would match recognized Pakistan flood relief donations here in Canada, something Liberals called for from the start.

“Now, with apparently no awareness that Ramadan and the difficulty of organizing fundraisers in the summer months have limited how much communities can contribute up to this point, the Conservatives have put in place an inflexible end date of September 12th as to when they will match donations. This leaves just two days of focused efforts for those planning their Eid celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan on the 10th.”

Last week, Mr. Valeriote sent a letter to International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda, and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, expressing concern around their government’s response to this tragedy and requesting an extension of the matching donation deadline.

“The Liberal Party of Canada believes that at the very least they should extend this date, and they should also ensure a comprehensive response is put in place before it is too late.”

Beyond this extension, this plan would include:

1. The dedication of appropriate resources for family reunification here in Canada. Six months after the earthquake tragedy in Haiti, the processing of applications was happen again.

2. The deployment of the DART (Disaster Relief Assistance Team) which would be a commitment in literally at a standstill and this cannot addition to the $33 million announced rather than simply taken from that amount.

“For those who have family and friends in the region, Canada’s response has been appalling as this tragedy has unfolded,” said Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis, who will be traveling to Pakistan on September 12th.

“We need to see a renewed focused commitment from this government, one that gets the resources on the ground as soon as possible and ensures humanitarian relief gets to where it is needed most.”

Liberals take action to preserve the life-saving gun registry

OTTAWA – As part of their effort to preserve the life-saving long-gun registry, Liberals are launching a “Save lives. Save the Gun Registry” online campaign to turn up the pressure on Jack Layton while exposing Conservative abuse of taxpayer funds to raise money for the gun lobby.

“Mr. Layton‟s refusal to support the gun registry stands in stark contrast to Michael Ignatieff‟s principled leadership stand to save it,” said Liberal Public Safety Critic Mark Holland, who will be touring the country next week with the Liberal Women‟s Caucus to shore up support for the registry. “We are stepping up the pressure on Mr. Layton to 'Save Lives. Save the Gun Registry' through an online campaign that will help Canadians let the NDP know what they really think of his lack of backbone.”

“Mr. Layton could have taken a stand,” said Liberal MP Frank Valeriote, who held a press
conference in Ottawa to announce the campaign. “He had a choice – to side with police officers and victims of gun crimes, or stand with Stephen Harper – and he chose to play into Mr. Harper‟s ideological campaign against the life-saving gun registry.

“Front-line police officers, police chiefs, paramedics, doctors, women‟s groups and a strong majority of everyday Canadians know that the long-gun registry is an essential tool that helps keep all Canadians safe – and we want Mr. Layton to know just how costly it will be if he chooses to ignore them.”

As the critical vote to save the long-gun registry nears, Liberals are also exposing the Conservative government‟s coordinated campaign to use taxpayer resources to support the

In a letter to Speaker Peter Milliken as chair of the Board of Internal Economy (see below), Liberal Government Ethics Critic Marlene Jennings called for an investigation into the conduct of Ed Komarnicki, Conservative MP for Souris-Moose Mountain, after he used a taxpayer-funded ten-percenter to promote a rally for raising funds to kill the gun registry. This is the second case of a Conservative MP improperly using taxpayer funds to raise money for a private organization, after Kenora Conservative MP Greg Rickford used the same method to raise funds for the Dryden Rifle and Pistol Club.

“The Conservatives are helping the gun lobby to exert an undue influence on Canadian politics,” said Ms. Jennings. “This is what Jack Layton has become a part of – an anti-cop coalition with Stephen Harper and the gun lobby that will skirt the rules in order to weaken our gun laws.

“It‟s not too late for Mr. Layton to come clean and quit this anti-cop coalition with Stephen Harper and the gun lobby,” concluded Ms. Jennings. “But the clock is ticking and we need Canadians to help us put pressure on the NDP to preserve the life-saving gun registry.”

Letter to the Honourable Peter Milliken

September 7, 2010

The Honourable Peter Milliken, M.P.
Speaker of the House of Commons
Room 224-N Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I am writing to you again in your capacity as Chair of the Board of Internal Economy. I had previously written to you on August 17, 2010 asking if you could, as chair of the Board, investigate an August 14, 2010 “Scrap the long-Gun Registry” fundraiser that Kenora MP Greg Rickford advertised ticket sales for using his taxpayer-funded constituency phone number and constituency email address. According to posters put up in the riding and a notice published on Mr. Rickford‟s website, proceeds of the event would fund the “Dryden Rifle and Pistol Club and Dryden Agricultural Fairgrounds.” It is certainly my contention that this violates the prohibition against MPs using their parliamentary resources to further the financial interests of a private organization.

Regrettably, I am forced to bring to your attention a similar case involving an upcoming event that has been promoted using parliamentary resources by Ed Komarnicki, the Member for Souris-Moose Mountain. An article on the front page of Mr. Komarnicki‟s July 2010 householder promotes a rally “to highlight the West‟s opposition to the long-gun registry” to be held in Estevan, Saskatchewan featuring Conservative MPs Candice Hoeppner and Garry Breitkreuz. Disturbingly, recent media reports, notably a September 3, 2010 article in Weyburn This Week, have confirmed that the Estavan event is actually a $50 a head “Fundraiser Rally” featuring Ms. Hoeppner and Mr. Breitkreuz to be held on September 11 in Estevan with the purpose of raising funds to garner support for eliminating the long gun registry.

An ad in the August 23, 2010 edition of the Moosomin World-Spectator also advertizes the “Scrap the Long Gun Registry & Fundraiser Rally” on behalf of the Souris-Mouse Mountain Conservative Association. Mr. Komarnicki‟s riding association is presumably the beneficiary of the fundraiser since the ad also notes that “A tax deductible receipt will be issued for any amount over cost of event.” The ad features the same photo of MPs Komarnicki, Hoeppner and Breitkreuz as was published in the taxpayer-funded householder and says “For tickets call: 421-6128.” I question whether this might also be a misuse of House of Commons resources since I note that a simple web search shows that a number of Government of Canada press releases and websites state that 306-421-6128 is one of the phone numbers belonging to “The office of Ed Komarnicki, M.P.” Here is a link to just one example on Mr. Korminicik‟s own website: http://www.edkom.ca/pressreleases/09may2.html

Like the case involving Mr. Rickford, it would seem to be a violation of the Board of Internal Economy Guidelines for Mr. Kormarnicki to have promoted this fundraiser rally in a taxpayer-funded householder which, by definition, was sent to every home in his riding.

I am concerned that MPs would be using public resources to raise funds for any private interest – let alone the gun lobby – at a time when Parliament is considering a bill to eliminate the firearms registry.

I ask you to investigate whether or not these activities are consistent with the rules set out by the Board of Internal Economy and whether these cases should be brought before the Board for proper remedy.


The Honourable Marlene Jennings, P.C., M.P.
Deputy House Leader for the Official Opposition and Liberal Critic for Government Ethics and Democratic Reform

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