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February 10, 2010

Rivier takes aim at John Baird for NDP in Ottawa riding

The Canadian Charger

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"War is not the answer in Afghanistan," Marlene Rivier said in an interview with the Canadian Charger, "We're propping up corrupt officials."

Rivier is the New Democrat running against Cabinet Minister John Baird in the riding of Ottawa West-Nepean. 

She sees the military approach detracting from the work of aid agencies.

Rivier is a psychology associate at the Royal Ottawa Hospital and president of Local 479 of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU), representing health professionals at the hospital. 

She sits on the Executive Committee of the Ottawa District Labour Council and chairs the Ottawa Health Coalition.  Rivier is also president of her riding association.

Her strategy in the coming election is to focus on pensions, and she expects that her party will also make pensions a major issue in the campaign.  The NDP has adopted the Canadian Labour Council plan regarding pensions. Of course, she will also listen to what people tell her at the door when she goes canvassing.

She noted that there are many seniors in her riding, including a number of former Nortel workers who were on retirement or disability pensions for which they worked over the years. 

Now they are just unsecured creditors.  She observed that there is an NDP private member’s bill on the order papers, which will survive the prorogation, a bill aimed at protecting pension rights in case of bankruptcy.

The NDP favors doubling Canada Pension Plan payments.  It also supports bringing all seniors out of poverty, at a cost of $700 million.

While RRSP’s were established to help people in retirement, they have not been successful and most people do not have a pension.

She favors discouraging speculative activity in the market by increasing costs for such transactions, as such activities have destroyed the retirement plans of people. 

Rivier takes “great offense at the tactics of the Conservatives.”  Harper’s prorogation is just the latest chapter. 

“They promised to reform politics and govern in a different way.  Now they stack the Senate.  They promised open government and gave us the Accountability Act.  Yet, they have enveloped government in secrecy.”

The Afghan situation is another example. 

On the issue of the detainees, there has been “a refusal to be transparent.”

She is outraged by the public skewering of Richard Colvin, the conscientious public servant.  Rivier charged that the Tories are betraying the military. 

Soldiers in the field know their legal obligations toward prisoners and were trying their best to carry these out, alerting superiors as to what was going on, but the Harper government was letting them down. 

Rivier decries the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.  “In good times the poor are ignored.  Now they are told to wait.” 

The solution to the recession?  Get money into the hands of the have-nots.  The Tories agreed to make some adjustments to Employment Insurance, but “there is a need to do a great deal more.”  She commented that workers and companies made very substantial contributions to EI, but the Liberal government took the money away.

Turning to housing, Rivier pointed out that Canada is the only G8 country without a hosing program.  “Stable, affordable housing is much cheaper than homelessness, food banks, and shelters,” she argued.

Harper is using scare tactics, she complained, creating crime hysteria, in spite of a falling crime rate. 

She favors prevention rather than focusing on punishment, when “the horse is already out of the barn.”  The law-and-order agenda is “divisive and fragments society.  Seniors are afraid to leave their homes,” she charged. 

She sees crime as the consequence of social conditions.  If we give families the appropriate supports, that will go a long way in preventing crime, she stated.

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M. Elmasry

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