Friday, 9 December 2011

Coverage of St. Catharines Communist Party candidate in Vapaa Sana, a Finnish-Canadian newspaper


SALEH WAZIRUDDIN - NIAGARA COALITION FOR PEACE, CANADIAN PEACE CONGRESS, COMMUNIST CANDIDATE FOR ST. CATHARINES
by Sofia Vuorinen for Vapaa Sana


I first encountered Saleh Waziruddin at a luncheon meeting of the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association.  I took particular note of him because he was carrying an armful of People's Voice.  He is the co-convenor of Niagara Coalition for Peace and a member of the Canadian Peace Congress executive council.  There are occasional Niagara News Bulletins in People's Voice.  In the November 1-15, 2011, Saleh wrote an article titled in the paper entitled "Canadian Peace Alliance campaign for "Peace and Prosperity, not War and Austerity."  


The Canadian Peace Alliance held its bi-annual convention in Toronto on October 14-16 this year.  The theme of the convention was on "Peace and Prosperity not War and Austerity."  They were agitating for shifting public money from militarism and war into public services, jobs, and the environment.  Postcards can be signed on-line at www.acp-cpa.ca/en/Peace and Prosperity.html.


Several resolutions were passed, including support for the campaign to let U.S. War Resisters stay in Canada, helping students counter military recruitment, and participating in elections by encouraging peace candidates and clear anti-war positions.


I was particularly interested in getting in touch with Saleh when I was informed that he was going to run as a Communist candidate in St. Catharines in our October provincial election.  He had been campaign manager in 2008 in the federal election and in 2007 in the provincial election.  He also ran as a candidate in both the federal and provincial elections this year.


Saleh was born in Montreal to an Indian father and a Pakastani mother.  He lived in the U.S. for 12 years and has now returned to reside in Niagara Falls, Canada.  I wanted to know how he was received in the election as a Communist candidate.  He gave me some very interesting information.  He was approached by different people before the debates who had recognized him from his previous federal candidacy.  After the debate, one individual who was actually working for the Progressive Conservative party told Saleh that he made the most sense of all the candidates!

One of the major issues that he addressed was about the situations in local hospitals in the Niagara area.  The Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) has been cutting emergency rooms in favour of  P3 (public-private partnership) hospitals and mismanaging a bacteria outbreak linked to over 30 deaths.  


Niagara Falls residents have protested three bacterial outbreaks including C-Difficile with several deaths where the outbreak was declared late. The Health Minister Andrews denies that the  cause is funding cuts but adds that they will have to find money to deal with the outbreaks and added housekeeping staff.  


Saleh felt he did very well in certain high schools.  In one, he had the second most votes of any party.  Keep up the great work you are doing in many aspects of your life. Further details of "A People's Agenda for Ontario" is available at www.votecommunist.ca.

Niagara News Bulletin Dec 1-31

People's Voice Niagara Bureau

* A second Niagaran has died from the second hospital infection
outbreak, after the previous one in October led to 35+ fatalities.
Local 26 of the Ontario Nurses Association issued another warning
that nurses could not provide the standard of care necessary
because of understaffing, despite the province saying earlier cuts
were not the cause of the health crisis. McMaster University
released a survey showing 50% or more of residents in municipalities
covered by the Niagara Health System (NHS) don’t trust it, up to 80%
in Ft. Erie. Meanwhile the inquest continues into the role of moving
emergency rooms to a more distant P3 hospital in the death of a
teenager who could not be treated locally because of the cuts. The
Region has also released a “Let’s Start a Conversation” video which
shows that local health care problems are rooted in poverty and the
economy, copying a similar documentary from Sudbury.
* A Niagara Falls fast food worker has started a campaign to ban
smoking from drive-throughs, since the health of service workers
is left unprotected by the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. The local Liberal
MPP thinks it’s a good idea, but wants to leave it to businesses to
self-regulate.
* CUPE-affiliated Steel City Solidarity, a Workers Action Centre
organized to extend labour’s support to non-unionized workers,
picketed a Grimsby restaurant where the manager had not paid a
worker almost $2,000 in wages despite being ordered a year ago by
the Labour Board to pay up. Scheduled to be open, the restaurant
was closed up during the picketing.
* Rural Niagara residents were again warned they might see soldiers
running around with weapons and military vehicles on exercises in
civilian areas as part of militarization.
* A city councillor has denounced the Niagara Regional municipal
council as a “dictatorship”. The council refused to hold a byelection after a councillor representing Welland was recently elected
as a provincial MPP. Calling a by-election “financially irresponsible”,
the regional body tried to appoint a replacement despite opposition
from Welland council.
* As part of municipal cuts from provincial underfunding and
downloading, St. Catharines will stop shovelling the driveways of
seniors and the disabled, originally implemented to make it a
“walkable city.”

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Niagara News Bulletin Nov 15-30

Niagara News Bulletin
by PV Niagara Bureau

* Welland food banks are reporting that they are getting 200-400 more people per month, 30% of them children, than they were designed for and it's expected to get worse this winter as EI runs out for those recently laid off from profitable plants allowed to shut down and move equipment out of Canada because of a lack of anti-plant-closing legislation with enforcement.
* An educational concert remembering the Underground Railroad, “human smugglers” of the 19th century who went through Niagara and lead in part by St. Catharines's Harriet Tubman, is being performed in Welland. Stephen Harper wants to criminalize the “human smugglers” of today's underground railroad.
* Despite Ontario appointing a supervisor to take over the local hospitals, who has already said he won't undo any of the re-structuring decisions such as selling off public hospital sites, Niagara Falls City Council and Port Colborne's Mayor are joining activists in pressuring the supervisor to re-open local emergency rooms and review the re-structuring plan.  Meanwhile a coroner's inquest has started into the death of a teenager who was in a car crash shortly after local emergency room closures and had to be driven over half-an-hour away by highway.
* The District School Board of Niagara is looking at merging or closing local schools because of lower enrollment instead of decreasing class sizes.
* A local video-game company touted as the next “GM” for the region's “new” economy, which received $4 million in federal loans plus another $4 million in provincial grants and was highlighted by St. Catharines Tory MP Rick Dykstra as an example of delivering for the riding, announced it is laying off over half of its workforce, like the “old” economy.  The company president had said the funding would have a “profound and long-lasting” effect only last year.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Canadian Peace Alliance to Campaign for "Peace and Prosperity"

CANADIAN PEACE ALLIANCE TO CAMPAIGN FOR "PEACE AND PROSPERITY"
By Saleh Waziruddin, co‑convenor of Niagara Coalition for Peace, and a member of the Canadian Peace Congress executive council
     The Canadian Peace Alliance held its bi‑annual convention Oct. 14‑16 in Toronto, with over 23 member groups participating from across Canada, stretching from Halifax to Vancouver and up to Yellowknife. Formed in 1985, the CPA is the umbrella group for anti-war movements. About 60 people participated, including observers from non‑member organizations.
     At the convention, the Alliance launched a signature campaign, on the theme of "Peace and Prosperity not War and Austerity," to agitate for shifting public money from militarism and war into public services, jobs, and the environment. Postcards can be signed on‑line atwww.acp‑cpa.ca/en/PeaceandProsperity.html.
     The convention kicked off with a discussion panel including a video address by Afghan MP Malalai Joya, who declared that Barack Obama is even worse than George Bush, as well as speeches by Judith LeBlanc of the U.S. network Peace Action, Suraia Sahar of Afghans for Peace, and CPA co‑chair Derrick O'Keefe of Vancouver StopWar.
     Several resolutions were passed, including support for the campaign to let US War Resisters stay in Canada, helping students counter military recruitment, and participating in elections by encouraging peace candidates and clear anti‑war positions. A resolution proposed by the Canadian Peace Congress was adopted, committing the CPA to annual cross‑Canada Days of Action against the war in Afghanistan.
     The convention elected a steering committee that includes new member organizations represented by young leaders, such as Afghans for Peace, Afghan Canadian Student Association, National Council of Canadian Tamils, and Alternatives North in the Northwest Territories.
     The delegates and observers marched to St. James Park to join in Occupy Toronto, and attended workshops addressing topics such as Canada's role in Afghanistan, war and the environment, First Nations sovereignty, and wars in Africa, Palestine, Haiti, Libya, Sri Lanka, and Kashmir.
     For more information, visit the CPA website, www.acp-cpa.ca.

Niagara News Bulletin

Niagara News Bulletin
by PV Niagara Bureau

* An 82-year old woman visiting her husband in the hospital was told to call an ambulance when she broke her hip near the entrance.  Ontario appointed a supervisor to take over the Niagara Health System (NHS) just before the provincial election to improve its management, and earlier cases resulted in one death.  Because of emergency room cuts in other hospitals (to be moved further away in favor of a P3 public-private-partnership i.e. for profit hospital) patients suffering from an in-hospital heart attack are told to call 911.
* Six weeks after the NHS declared a hospital-acquired infection outbreak over, another outbreak has been declared with 3 patients testings positive.  The earlier outbreak saw 36 patient deaths, and at the 35th death during the provincial election the Communist Party candidate Saleh Waziruddin  predicted more would die unless beds, staff, and services are restored to pre-cuts levels.
* The Regional Municipality of Niagara is considering privatizing its eight long-term care homes, where health care money would be diverted to private profits combined with possible cuts.  At least one councilor pointed out that  public homes are more accountable in reporting.
* A Welland food bank says it is getting above daily average pleas from both the “working poor” and “newly poor”, and many don't even apply because of the stigma of charity.
* Port Colborne residents suing Vale Inco for contamination of their lands are going to the Supreme Court of Canada after the Ontario appeals court reversed a $36 million judgment. The Ministry of Environment ordered Inco to re-mediate 25 properties because of high nickel levels, but the court ruled for the company because they didn't violate any regulations while polluting the land.
* The Council of Canadians has warned about the Niagara Falls Water Board across the border in New York offering to treat polluted water from hydrofracking (using high pressure water to break rocks and release gas) to raise money.  The group says companies don't report what's in the water and Canadians across the river, as well as US residents, will be paying with their health for the pollution.  The International Joint Commission found fracking chemicals in the Great Lakes recently, where Canada spends even less than the US on protecting one of the world's largest fresh water supplies.

Letter to the Editor (Peoples Voice): Facts on Tamils

Dear Editor,

I am gravely concerned about the Labour Day issue’s article “Indian Communists
Debate Tamil Issue”
in the People's Voice which states “Sri Lanka's Tamils were
largely brought from Tamil Nadu by the British as labourers.” Even the
chauvinist Sri Lankan government’s own census shows this is simply not true, the
last complete census (1989) shows Tamils who had been in Sri Lanka since ancient
times outnumbered Tamils brought by the British from India by over 2 to 1 (2.1
million vs under 1 million). As the CPI(M)’s Ramdass discussed in his article
“Developments in Sri Lanka” in the theoretical journal The Marxist (Vol. 3, No.
2, April-June 1985) “The Jaffna Tamils had emigrated to Sri Lanka, then Ceylon,
about 2000 years ago…. The root of the problem is that the Sinhalese consider
Sri Lanka to be their country where the Tamils have no business to be.”
Unfortunately the People’s Voice article not only suggests a misrepresentation
of the position of the Indian Communist Parties, let alone facts on the ground,
but does so in a way that plays right into the hands of the most reactionary
chauvinists.

As Ramdass explains, “What is generally referred to as the ‘ethnic problem’ is
in fact the problem of a minority nationality – the Sri Lanka Tamil people –
whose aspirations and legitimate demands have been denied by the ruling
classes.” Although the Indian communists are against Tamil separation, Ramdass
explains who has true responsibility for this demand: “But it should not be
forgotten that it is the refusal of successive bourgeois-landlord governments to
concede autonomy to the Tamil majority areas, the breaking or scuttling and
again of agreements arrived at that finally brought the separatist slogan to the
forefront.”

Two years ago thousands of Tamils, some waving LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Elaam) flags, blockaded highways in Toronto to bring attention to the genocidal
war (CPI Tamil Nadu state secretary D. Pandian called it that in the party’s New
Age Weekly Jul. 9, 2011 “CPI for Solidarity with Sri Lankan Tamils”),
concentration-camp roundups of the Tamil people and, whether one agrees with
them or not, the leading force for their national liberation which is the LTTE.
The Canadian government targets for deportation Tamils who have ties to the LTTE
and the struggle for national liberation. We must refrain from any dodges on
the facts of nationhood and the principle of self-determination, whether abroad
or in Canada.

Sincerely,
Asad Ali
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Letter to the editor (Peoples Voice) on Exploitation article

Dear Editor,

While Clarence Torcoran's “Who's  exploited, and does it matter?” in the July issue's Marxist  Theory section makes a good point that exploitation is about the  relationship to accumulating capital and not the physical working conditions or pay, his claim that if some workers are exploited and  others are not then this would mean capitalism can be reformed misses  a major point of Marx's analysis.  While the working class is  exploited as a class, only workers who produce surplus value (anything commodified, including services) are exploited in the  Marxist sense, and this matters because it shows us both the relationship between, for example, public sector and retail workers with manufacturing and service workers, and also  helps us realize  the true magnitude of the exploitation of the whole class.  Marx  observed in Theories of Surplus Value “What a convenient arrangement it is that makes a factory girl to sweat twelve hours in a factory, so that the factory proprietor, with  a part of her unpaid labour, can take into his personal service her  sister as maid, her brother as groom and her cousin as soldier or  policeman!”  The insight that some workers are exploited and their  exploitation pays for the non-commodified services of other workers  has nothing to do with one group of workers being  more important or  needing more reforms, but helps us to understand where the  wealth that we produce as a class comes from so that we can take it back  from  the capitalists.  Torocoran said as much in his People's Voice article "Wages  facing downward pressure" five years ago ("Workers at the 'point of production'  ... have the power to choke off the generation of profits")

S.  Saleh Waziruddin
Niagara  Falls, Ontario

Friday, 7 October 2011

Thank you to voters, supporters, and comrades; Communist comes in 2nd at Eden High School

Dear voters, supporters, and comrades:

Thank you very much for your support this election, you have helped raise solutions that put peoples needs before corporate greed on the issues of health care, jobs, taxation, and in Niagara and Ontario politics in general which the big business parties and even some of the smaller parties will not put forward.

The Communist Vote was strong in the student vote, 10% or 374 St. Catharines students voted Communist in the parallel provincial elections: http://www.studentvote.ca/ontario/results/index.php?id=76

In particular Eden High School voted Communist into 2nd place! This is 139 votes for 24% http://www.studentvote.ca/ontario/results/school.php?school_id=33057101.  Special thanks to YCL comrades.

In St. Francis High School's student vote, where we got 20% in the 2007 provincial election thanks to the YCL and have been doing strong ever since, students voted Communist into 3rd place at 17% with 96 votes.

But the vote goal was never the immediate objective, the Eric Blair Club is very happy with what we've achieved in terms of contacts with voters and raising the Communist solutions to Ontario's problems, and I said as much to the press:

"NDP and Greens Proud of Campaigns"

(and Communists too!) by Erica Bajer of the St. Catharines Standard, some quotes:

St. Catharines Communist Party candidate Saleh Waziruddin said his campaign was successful because he managed to raise his party's profile in the community.

He said he didn't have a goal in terms of number of votes but instead a target of gaining ground in contacts and awareness.

"People are definitely looking for solutions that are beyond what the big parties are putting forward," he said.
Waziruddin said he's proud that he was able to add to the debate on important issues including health care, the economy and the HST.

"The Communist Party campaign has been farther ahead on the issues," he said. "I feel very happy."

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3329599
"Bradley found students a tougher sell than adult voters"

by Jeff Bolichowski of the St. Catharines Standard, lists the 10% Communist Party vote in the St. Catharines Student Vote elections.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Why you should vote Communist today - election message

If you have not already voted and I have the pleasure of having you as a constituent in the St. Catharines Riding, please consider that I am the only candidate who has pledged to restore ALL of the beds, staff, and services that were cut from the hospitals and also to repeal ALL of the HST as the voters in BC did this summer. If you agree with these demands then voting Communist today is the loudest way to make your vote count. The only wasted vote is for a candidate you don't agree with, who either won't win anyway or even if they do (and may not have needed your vote) won't deliver what you want. If you believe in *fully* funding people's needs instead of a perverse welfare for corporate greed, then make your vote truly count by voting Communist.

The fight for putting peoples' needs first of course will not end with the election today. There are three events coming up in St. Catharines that I also want to encourage you to attend and bring people to:

1) Palestine Up Close and Personal: eyewitness accounts of Gaza under Israeli attacks, by Ontario journalist Eva Bartlet; also information from the Mennonite Central Committee on two Palestinian refugees who have just arrived here from Iraq. The event is Saturday October 8, 1 pm in the Mills Room of the St Catharines Public Library on 54 Church St.

2) Voices from the Other Side: a book launch by Keith Bolender about terrorist attacks against Cuba, some of which have killed Canadian citizens and a Canadian airplane was blown up by counter-revolutionaries based in the US. This is on this coming Wednesday October 12th, 7 pm, in the Rotary room of the St Catharines Public Library on 54 Church St.

3) A Cuban doctor reports first-hand on Haiti: Dr. Balseiro Estevez was on a Cuban medical aid mission in Haiti before the earthquake hit and then was there during the earthquake and helped in the relief that followed. It was not reported to us in the media (blacked out) but the majority of medical aid to Haiti after the earthquake came from Cuban doctors (more than any other country). He will be telling us first hand about his experiences on Wednesday, November 2nd, at 7 pm at Brock University's Thistle Hall complex, Room 241.

Here is some last moments election coverage:

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3322575
"Bradley has solid lead, survey says"


by Grant LaFleche of the St. Catharines Standard.  The article has a quote from me about the Communist Party position on the HST.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Coverage of Ontario Communist Party Leader Liz Rowley's visit to St. Catharines

Ontario Communist Party Leader Liz Rowley visited St. Catharines on Saturday, October 1st, the same day as Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's vist to the region.  Tim Hudak left St. Catharines pretty early in the morning, he probably did not want to stick around for when Liz arrived.

http://speakyourmind.thestar.com/experts/get-talking/view-from-the-left-in-niagara-region/
"View from the Left in Niagara Region"

A nice write-up of the visit by Dave Thomas Sr., a designated blogger for the Toronto Star's Speak Your Mind provincial election series.  Some of the quotes in the article were tweeted by audience members.

http://niagarathisweek.com/news/elections/article/1219301--striving-to-be-heard
"Striving to be Heard"

Scott Rosts of Niagara This Week did this nice write-up including an interview with Liz Rowley

St Catharines Standard election videos

The St. Catharines Standard published its series of candidate videos, here are mine:

http://stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3318810
Why are you running for office?


http://stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=3322228

Health care

Friday, 30 September 2011

Niagara This Week's questions for St. Catharines candidates

Niagara This Week asked all St. Catharines candidates to answer two question in 150 words or less each, here are the links to all the candidates' answers:

http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news/article/1136705--questions-for-st-catharines-riding-candidates-1

What election issue have you been hearing about in your riding that you plan to act on?



http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news/article/1136738--questions-for-st-catharines-riding-candidates-2

From a provincial standpoint, what do you think can be done to jumpstart Niagara’s struggling economy?



Here are my answers to both questions:

#1 (the election issue I've been hearing about and what I will do about it)

Health care: we’re dying needlessly from hospital infection outbreaks because staffing cuts don’t give enough time to clean; emergency rooms are moved over half-an-hour away in favor of a P3 (public-private partnership i.e. for profit) hospital that costs more in ambulances; and bed cuts are so bad that when a 21-year old St. Catharines man got sick abroad earlier this year he was blocked from getting treatment here because there wasn’t even one bed available.  He later died.  The solution: restore the beds, staffing, and services that were cut in favor of corporate tax-cuts which created only record profits and not jobs.  What little money was left is being siphoned off into private profits for outsourcing.  I am the only candidate who says we must hold elected officials accountable for these preventable deaths because the nurses and unions have been warning us this would happen. Voting communist says this loudest.


#2 (how to jump start Niagara's economy provincially)


Ontario has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world but companies sit on record profits instead of investing or creating jobs.  We must reverse these cuts so corporations pay their fair share. Use the money for public investment in re-building industry and the energy and public transportation infrastructure.  Corporations don’t invest when the economy is depressed, only the government will do this.  This is how our industry was built earlier and we can do it again.  Instead, the big business parties shift the tax burden from those who can pay to working people who cannot, and cut our public services too, which hasn’t worked.  Stop the job hemorrhage.  If companies want to close a plant, hold a public tribunal and if the plant is profitable (many closed plants here were!) we’ll run them as a crown corporation instead of layoffs and pulling machines out of Canada. 

Thursday, 29 September 2011

NEWS RELEASE: Ontario Communist Party Leader Liz Rowley Visits St. Catharines October 1st


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2011
Saleh Waziruddin

Ontario Communist Party Leader Liz Rowley Visits St. Catharines October 1st

ST. CATHARINES, ON – Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) leader Liz Rowley will be speaking in St. Catharines on Saturday, October 1st at the St. Catharines Public Library’s Central Branch on 54 Church St. at 2pm on the Communist Party’s alternative for the provincial election.  Rowley will be available to the media for interviews in person on October 1st and before then via telephone.  Rowley is visiting St. Catharines in support of the Communist Party’s MPP candidate Saleh Waziruddin and as part of a provincial tour of ridings with Communist candidates.

Earlier this week on Tuesday, September 27th, Rowley lead an information picket of Communist Party candidates outside the offices of TVO in Toronto to protest the exclusion of the Communist Party from TVO’s election coverage.  The picket succeeded in getting some coverage from TVO on-site.  Rowley argued “electors have the right to see, hear, and consider all the parties on the ballot and to make up their own minds about who deserves their support.”

Liz Rowley was elected as a School Trustee of the East York School Board in the 1990s where she opposed the tax shift from businesses to home owners to finance public education. Rowley was one of the first female provincial party leaders in Ontario.  In launching the Communist Party’s current election campaign, Rowley explained “a Communist vote is a powerful vote against militarism and war, to curb corporate power, to create good jobs, to expand social services and build housing, and to introduce progressive tax reform based on the ability to pay. It’s a vote to continue the struggle to defend working people’s rights and standards after the election is over, in a People’s Coalition.”

Communist MPP candidate Saleh Waziruddin is the only candidate in the St. Catharines riding calling for elected officials to be accountable for the 35 recent deaths from hospital-acquired infections in Niagara as they were warned of this danger by nurses and unions.  The Communist Party is the only choice for St. Catharines voters who want to completely rescind the HST, as the voters did in British Columbia recently.

 —xxx—

Authorized by the CFO for the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)

Responses to Social Assistance Questionnaire: Social Assistance Reform Network of Niagara (SARNN)

The Social Assistance Reform Network of Niagara (SARNN) sent a 5 item questionnaire to candidates about reforming social assistance.  The answers of the five Niagara candidates who responded can be viewed at:

http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/pdf/Niagara-Region-Provincial-Candidates-Polled-on-Poverty-and-Social-Justice-Responses-in-Chart.pdf

and the news release from Poverty Free Ontario is available at:

http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/2011/09/29/niagara-region-provincial-candidates-polled-on-poverty-and-social-justice-issues/

Here are the answers of the Communist Party candidate in St. Catharines, Saleh Waziruddin:


1.
The Commission to Review Ontario Social Assistance is now underway. Commissioner Frances Lankin has stated that the system, which serves over 800000 Ontarians, needs more than "tinkering", it needs a major overhaul. What specific changes would you recommend to the Commission regarding the current social assistance system to ensure the system is improved?

ANSWER:

Specific changes to the current social assistance system I recommend are:

i) immediately double rates across the board and eliminate clawbacks
ii) introduce an inflation-indexed Guaranteed Annual Income above the poverty line
iii) construct 200,000 units of social housing over 5 years
iv) increase funding for shelters and transitional housing
v) restore the Special Diet Allowance (but this is not enough, items i and ii are needed)
vi) increase EI to cover 90% of previous earning for the duration of unemployment, including first-time job seekers (Guaranteed Annual Income) with a minimum wage of $19/hour
vii) public child care with $7/day fees
viii) public dental, vision, pharma, and long-term care as well as 100% funded 100% public health care including mental health care
ix) upload welfare, housing, education, health care, and public transit costs to levels of government which can tax corporations enjoying record profits so they pay their fair share
x) increase federal funding for public transit and reduce fares



2. 
he Low Income Cut Off lines used by our Federal Government and Statistics Canada report that a single person is living below the poverty line when their annual income is below $13000. A single adult receiving Ontario Works receives $598/month, which is only $7176 per year – far below the poverty line. Over 40 Ontario MPPs have "Done the Math" and agree that the rates are too low and inadequate. Do you feel current social assistance rates are adequate and acceptable? If not, how should the rates be set? Would you support adding an immediate $100 healthy food supplement to social assistance rates?


ANSWER:
Current social assistance rates are neither adequate nor acceptable.  The $100 healthy food supplement is an unacceptable substitute for the Special Diet Allowance which should be restored, the Communist Party opposed and continues to oppose its elimination.  However even the Special Diet Allowance is not enough to address hunger and starvation, which is why the Communist Party calls for doubling the rates and providing a Guaranteed Annual Income above the poverty line indexed to inflation.


3.
In 2009 all Ontario parties supported Bill 152, An Act respecting a long-term strategy to reduce poverty in Ontario. The current strategy has a goal of reducing child poverty by 25% in five years.How would you build on the current strategy and what goal and policies would you and your party set for the next five years in order to ensure all people living in poverty are included?


ANSWER:
The Communist Party goals and policies are to double the rates and then institute a Guaranteed Annual Income above the poverty line indexed to inflation, anything less does not solve the problem that the rates are starvation rates.  With regards to "Breaking the Cycle: Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy",
i) the rent banks are in fact a public subsidy to landlords and should be replaced by rent roll-backs and effective rent control legislation with enforcement such that no one pays more than 25% of their income for housing.
ii) with regards to the education section of the strategy, the Communist Party calls for eliminating post-secondary tuition fees, something which even many capitalist countries have done such as Germany and Brazil
iii) the Rapid Re-employment Training Service is only of limited value if there is increasing unemployment and the jobs that are available don't provide an adequate income.  Plant closing legislation including public tribunals with enforcement powers to review plant closings and nationalize profitable plants that would otherwise be closed can help prevent the hemorrhage of jobs.  We call for extending EI to cover the duration of unemployment, provide 90% of previous earning, and to cover first time job seekers (paid a Guaranteed Annual Income).

4.
.Low income adults (either working poor or receiving social assistance) do not have access to preventive dental services. Poor oral health is a detriment to overall physical and mental health, as well as a barrier to employment and social inclusion. We need to put the mouth back into the body. Will your party commit to extending preventive dental coverage to all low income Ontario adults within the next 12 months?


ANSWER: 
We do commit to extending preventive dental coverage to all low income Ontario adults within the next 12 months, but also call for expanding public health care to dental, vision, pharma, and long-term care as fully funded, fully comprehensive, and fully public.  Private dental insurance is neither equitable not adequate because of co-pays and payment limits per tooth.


5.
Approximately 12.4 percent of Canadian households live in housing that requires major repairs, is overcrowded, and/or costs more than 30 percent of household income. Moreover, an estimated 300,000 people are living without homes in Canada. Locally, the Niagara Region Housing Authority has 5, 381 households with 9,800 people on a waiting list for subsidized housing. Having a safe and affordable place to live can be a stepping stone out of poverty. Does your Party support a fully-funded national housing strategy that respects provincial jurisdictions, as well as support to maintain existing federal subsidies for social housing units? Would you support a housing benefit for low income Ontarians? If so, what would it entail?


ANSWER:
The Communist Party supports a fully-funded Canada-wide housing strategy with the federal and provincial governments building and providing public and social housing and having housing uploaded to them.  We don't believe provinces should be allowed to go without social housing as was done under Harris.  In Ontario we call for a minimum of 200,000 social housing units built in the next 5 years and another 200,000 after.  Rather than a housing benefit, which is effectively a public subsidy to landlords, we believe housing should be treated as a public utility that affordably and equitably allows everyone to live in dignity which is something the market has not and will not provide.  We are opposed to federal and provincial governments allowing landlords to speculate and profiteer from working people and call for rent roll-backs and rent control such that rent does not exceed 25% of income.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

PRESS RELEASE: After 35th Death St. Catharines Communist Candidate Calls for All Niagara Candidates to Commit to Restoring Staff, Beds, and Services to Prevent More Loss

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2011
Contact: Saleh Waziruddin
905 394 0029
saleh@votecommunist.ca
Platform at http://www.votecommunist.ca
Campaign blog: http://niagaracommunists.blogspot.com

After 35th Death St. Catharines Communist Candidate Calls for All Niagara Candidates to Commit to Restoring Staff, Beds, and Services to Prevent More Loss

ST. CATHARINES, ON – After yesterday’s announcement of the 35th death of a Niagara hospital patient from “superbug” outbreak-related infections, the Communist candidate for St. Catharines, Saleh Waziruddin, is calling on all candidates in the four Niagara ridings to publicly commit to restoring hospital staffing, beds, and services to prevent further loss of life. At an all-candidates meeting on Tuesday, September, 20th, hosted by the Niagara Health Coalition and the Retired Teachers of Ontario, Saleh was the only candidate to argue that elected officials should be held accountable for these deaths as they were predicted by nurses and unions and so were preventable.

Saleh explains “although the Niagara Health System chief of staff has said the outbreak is nearing its end, and news reports say only 12 infected patients remain isolated at the St. Catharines General Hospital, the underlying cause of the outbreaks remains a danger to the lives of Niagarans. Cuts in staff, beds, and services make for dangerous conditions and don’t allow for enough time or resources to properly clean rooms before patients move in. Our elected officials have been warned about this, including on April 28th by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions as well as by individual hospital staff, yet the cuts have not been restored.”

According to a July 21 report by the Ontario Health Coalition, Ontario’s hospital bed occupancy rate of 97.8% is among the lowest in the industrialized world, and the UK Department of Health has set a target of 82%. Saleh is calling for an occupancy target of 80% and is asking all Niagara candidates to commit to occupancy of not more than 82% as “the high occupancy rates make it difficult to prevent infections and ‘terminally clean’ hospital rooms.” Giving a “terminal clean” to each affected room is the 1st Environmental Services recommendation of the June 29th report by the Infection Control Resource Team.

The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) calls for fully funding hospitals based on patient needs and not on reduced public services that are the result of corporate-tax giveaways. Ontario’s public spending and beds per patient are among the lowest of Canadian provinces. The Communist Party says this is the result of putting corporate greed, in the form of one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the industrial world, ahead of peoples needs. Saleh argues “low corporate taxes have only resulted in record profits and not new good jobs. Corporations should be made to pay their fair share instead of Niagarans paying the price for corporate greed with our lives. Instead of contracting out cleaning, where part of the hospital budget goes to private profits, hospitals must be 100% public so all dollars can go to patient care.”

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Authorized by the CFO for the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)

Podcast of CKTB 610 AM radio interview with Tim Denis in the Morning

Listen to the 6 minute podcast of my interview Tim Denis, morning host on CKTB 610 AM News Talk radio, linked from CKTB 610's page:

http://www.610cktb.com/shows/tdenis/episodes.aspx

ArtsVote Niagara ties Communist Candidate for top grade in Arts and Culture policy

ArtsVote Niagara released the results of its 2011 provincial election candidate survey.  I got a B, which is lower than the A I got in the federal election, but is tied with the Green and Liberal candidates for first place in Niagara.  Note that Tim Hudak is again a no-show and did not even bother responding.

The survey itself is available at
http://artsvoteniagara.ca/downloads/ArtsVote_Survey-Prov-2011.pdf

My answer to the open-ended question in Section 2, about the candidate's overall position on arts and culture, is:

"In a capitalist system, where one class owns the wealth and another class must work for that class in order to survive, public funding for the arts is the only way to promote a democratic culture that can counter patriarchy, racism, and capitalism and imperialism itself through creating a space for self-expression for the working class, women, and minorities and oppressed sections of society that is counter to the interests of the market and capitalist class. Arts should be seen as a public utility and not as a cost, as every dollar spent and Ontarian involved in the arts has a large social payoff in cultural and political progress.  If Arts funding is not defended and expanded, and education about the importance of the arts is not carried out into the public, then only culture that perpetuates patriarchy, racism, and imperialism which is in the interest of the corporations enjoying record profits will prevail. Promoting peace and preventing war itself can be done through promoting friendship between the peoples of the world through cultural exchanges, and likewise countering sexism, homophobia, racism, and discrimination domestically can be done through supporting the artistic expression of the marginalized and bringing it into wide public circulation.


The Communist Party believes in defending the arts budget, including Canadian Content and the CBC, from cuts that attack public services working people need for a good quality of life as part of a process that is shifting the tax burden from corporations who can afford it (and are not creating jobs with their record profits) to those who cannot, the working class.

I have been combining my involvement in the Arts and my involvement in Politics since 9/11 with the Zi Collective I co-founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which did political guerrilla theatre as well as public screenings of political films.  I write film reviews for the People’s Voice newspaper and Rebel Youth magazine, the periodical of the Young Communist League (YCL). Through my involvement with the Cuban Canadian Friendship Association I promote solidarity and friendship between peoples through cultural exchanges and organizing cultural events in Niagara."

Press Coverage:

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3307578
"Candidates graded on commitment to arts, culture"
By Angela Scappatura of the St. Catharines Standard covers the results for most of the candidates in the four Niagara ridings.

Unfortunately the next two stories only refer to "the three candidates", ignoring the Communist candidate as well as the Green who tied for first place as well as 3 other candidates

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3317391

"The arts are rarely an issue in elections"
By Angela Scappatura of the St. Catharines Standard

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3317393

"The devil you know? Arts organizations fear massive change"
By Angela Scappatura of the St. Catharines Standard

Coverage of the Niagara Health Coalition and Retired Teachers of Ontario Health Care Debate

The Niagara Health Coalition, part of the Ontario Health Coalition, together with the Retired Teachers of Ontario's local organization hosted a debate at the Port Dalhousie Royal Canadian Legion covering the health care crisis in Niagara.  The debate was well-attended because the issue has been killing Niagarans in the last few months but also because all candidates were invited.

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=3306067
"Candidates debate health care"
Erica Bajer of the St. Catharines Standard covered this all-candidates debate.  The story features the sharpest question of the debate: whether someone should be held accountable for the climbing death toll of the hospital infection outbreak.  I was the only candidate who said yes, elected officials should be held accountable, as the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions was warning that this would happen back in May but the politicians didn't listen, and in fact they are still warning that it will get worse.  I was also the first candidate to debunk the Progressive Conservative candidate's claim that eliminating the LHIN's would free up money for front-line health care (administration has to be paid for whether it's done at the LHIN's or locally), which one a lot of applause, and got most of the audience to applaud that this debate invited all candidates unlike the Chamber of Commerce debate the week before.

http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news/elections/article/1110434--st-kitts-candidates-talk-health-care
"St. Kitts candidates talk health care Hosted by retired teachers group, Niagara Health Coalition"
Scott Rosts of Niagara This Week covers the debate, leading with the question of accountability.  One correction: I had said we need 80 percent occupancy, 20 percent surplus, because that is what studies have found will inhibit infections.  Has a good photo of all candidates.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Coverage of the Chamber of Commerce exclusion of Communist and other candidates


The St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce has persisted in its practice of excluding candidates arbitrarily.  In 2007 they excluded the Communist Party for not being "mainline", and after protests they included us in 2008.  However in 2011 they excluded us in the federal election as per a policy following the Elections Act's vote rebate threshold 2% of votes, which is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as decided in Figueroa vs Canada, and the Chamber's use of this rule is arbitrary as there is another Election Act rule reimbursing election expenses with a 10% threshold which excludes 92 of the Liberal candidates in the last federal election.  Moreover, the Niagara Falls and Welland Chambers of Commerce have invited all candidates including independents, and the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a debate in the same 2011 federal election in Welland inviting all candidates including the independent.  See the press release for details of the protest of this arbitrary and autocratic violation of the Communist candidate's Charter rights.

Please a follow-up post for a letter-writing campaign to persuade the Chamber's board to change its policy in line with the rest of the riding and with democracy.


“Fringe candidates removed from election debate”

Front page (front-and-centre) story in the Standard focusing on the joining-the-included-candidates-on-stage phase of the protest.


“ELECTION NOTEBOOK: Excluded St. Catharines candidates disrupt start of meeting”

Bullet News Niagara's more complete coverage of the protest.



includes a reader's comments:

Mike Cloutier This is so wrong. The Chamber of Commerce decides which candidates can participate in the debate based on an arbitrary 2 per cent of the vote in the last election. Why not 1 per cent? Or how about 50 per cent? Or how about only the one who won last time? Just disgusting and a real kick in the teeth of democracy.


http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3302944
Hudak won't show for key local election debate


Niagara Falls Review mentions the protest at the end of this article to give context to another Chamber cancelling its debate as Tory leader Tim Hudak has refused to show up at any debates in his riding.


http://stcaths.ca/2011/09/low-key-st-catharines-candidates-debate-follows-dramatic-opener/
Low-Key St Catharines Candidates Debate Follows Dramatic Opener"


This blog post has action shots from the protest.  The blogger states at the end that private organizations are not obliged to be democratic, however the Chamber has a social responsibility to the community to respect the rights of the voters to be well-informed and the Charter rights of the candidates as its debate is the main debate in the riding.


http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news/elections/article/1109504--candidates-square-off-at-chamber-debate


"Candidates square off at chamber debate

Pre-start interruption by uninvited candidates"


Niagara This Week's coverage was on page 3, with photos from the debate including the protest.

http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3302944
"Hudak won't show for key local election debate

Should party leaders be expected to show up for their local debates?"


Niagara Falls Review covers a debate cancellation in Hudak's riding, and at the end also references the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce debate protest.

PRESS RELEASE: Communist Candidate Wins Support for Including All Candidates at Chamber of Commerce Debate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2011
Contact: Saleh Waziruddin
905 394 0029
Saleh@votecommunist.ca

Communist Candidate Wins Support for Including All Candidates at Chamber of Commerce Debate

ST. CATHARINES, ON - Communist Party candidate Saleh Waziruddin, joined by Canadians' Choice Candidate and St Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce member Jon Radick, succeeded at the Chamber's provincial candidates' debate in appealing to a significant portion of the audience to "Stand up for Democracy" and their right to be well-informed this election in a show of support for inclusion. All of the candidates, including those invited by the Chamber, had expressed support for including all candidates, including writing directly to the chamber. Several St. Catharines residents had also written to demand that the Chamber CEO Walter Sendzik let the voters decide for themselves after hearing all candidates.

Saleh addressed the audience at the opening of the meeting by pointing out that "tonight I as well as several other candidates have been excluded, but just last night the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce invited all candidates including an independent to that riding's debate. The day before TVCogeco held a debate with ALL candidates in this riding that was so successful that every campaign agreed to support the demand to include all candidates. In the previous federal election this very Chamber co-hosted a debate for the Welland riding inviting all candidates, including an independent, yet at the same time excluded candidates in the St. Catharines riding. What I would like to know is why the voters of St. Catharines are any less deserving than those of the other ridings to be well informed this election?"

Saleh was followed by Canadians’ Choice candidate and former Conservative party nominations contestant Jon Radick who announced that "I am a Chamber of Commerce member and I never thought I would side with a Communist, but Saleh is right and this is not what we should expect in a democracy." Jon then appealed to the audience to "stand up for democracy" to show their support for inclusion, and several audience members across the room stood up and demanded that all candidates be included.

When the Chamber tried to pursue its program anyway, trying to justify its exclusion on board policy without explaining why other ridings are different, Jon joined the invited candidates at the podium table and was congratulated with a handshake by NDP candidate Irene Lowell. Saleh also joined the candidates at the table.

Although Saleh and Jon did leave after several minutes with supporters, who loudly denounced the "undemocratic and autocratic" organization of the debate, they vow that they will continue to fight for democracy and the right of St. Catharines residents to run for office with equal and meaningful participation. Saleh adds "the Chamber's policies don't trump the guarantee of equal and meaningful participation by Section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as interpreted by the landmark Supreme Court case Figueroa vs Canada". This case was launched by the Communist Party and named for its leader, Miguel Figueroa, which makes it possible for smaller parties to even exist legally and have a place on the ballot.

Saleh said he was "excited that we have gone further than we have before in fighting the Chamber's undemocratic practices, which include pre-screening written questions so they can ignore the concerns of union members as they did in the federal election debate. Women didn't have the right to vote once, and we will keep fighting the Chamber's attempts to roll back the clock on democracy in Canada."

Earlier that day the NDP campaign had written directly to the Chamber and copied the Communist campaign saying;

"I am writing this email to express my concern that not all candidates running in the St. Catharines riding have been included in the "all candidates" debate. Voters cannot make an informed decision if we fail to provide complete information. Failing to include all candidates in the local debate deprives voters of their right to hear all views and issues, and circumvents the process of making an informed decision. Voter apathy can be largely attributed to the failure of the Canadian electoral system to provide a true voice for all Canadians. Please support the democratic process by allowing all candidates to be heard.

Irene Lowell, NDP Candidate, St Catharines
Jackie Crow, Campaign Manager"

---xxx---

Authorized by the CFO for the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)

PRESS RELEASE: St. Catharines Communist Candidate Wins Support of all Parties in Protesting Exclusion from Chamber of Commerce Debate as an Arbitrary and Unreasonable Violation of Charter Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2011
Saleh Waziruddin
905 394 0029
saleh@votecommunist.ca

St. Catharines Communist Candidate Wins Support of all Parties in Protesting Exclusion from Chamber of Commerce Debate as an Arbitrary and Unreasonable Violation of Charter Rights

St. Catharines, ON – Saleh Waziruddin, the Communist Party candidate for the St. Catharines riding in the provincial election, is protesting his exclusion from the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce candidate debate at 6:30 pm Thursday, September 15, at the Holiday Inn at 327 Ontario St., St. Catharines. Saleh has received support from all the candidates in the riding, including incumbent MPP Jim Bradley and PC candidate Sandie Bellows, in demanding that all candidates be included. The Chambers of Commerce in the other three Niagara ridings have included all candidates, including independents, and the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce included all candidates (including the Communist Party) in the 2008 federal election after facing protest at the 2007 provincial election, and in the recent federal election included all candidates in the Welland riding debate but not the St. Catharines riding debate.

“If the Chamber can invite all candidates in Welland, why should the St. Catharines voters be deprived of the opportunity to make up their own minds and hear from all candidates tonight?” Saleh pointed out. Saleh adds “The Figueroa vs Canada Supreme Court case is a landmark ruling that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms not only gives every citizen the right to vote, but also the right to participate equally in a meaningful way. The Chamber should respect my Charter Rights and the voters. By holding a public debate the Chamber is responsible to the entire community and not just a narrow section.”

The St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce has claimed that its exclusion policy is based on the vote rebate policy of the Elections Act. However, this policy is being challenged as a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and further the Elections Act has another discriminatory clause about rebating elections expenses only for candidates winning 10% of the vote, which excludes one third of all of the Liberal candidates (92) in the previous federal election.

“The Chamber has arbitrarily picked a standard to exclude parties it does not like” explained Saleh. In 2007 the explanation given by Chamber CEO Walter Sendzik to the St. Catharines Standard for why the Green Party was included after being excluded before was that “Well they are mainline now. They have vastly improved their platforms and policy ideas…." Saleh counters with “let’s let the voters decide for themselves on the different policy ideas.”

Sendzik had also said that the Communist Party was not being discriminated against and that “the fringe parties need to contact us as soon as they can after the writ is dropped”. However the Communist Party contacted the Chamber on August 25th, well before the writ was dropped, belying this explanation.

A further illustration of the Chamber’s undemocratic practices is that in the previous federal election debate the program was ended before schedule on account of having no remaining questions, whereas USW 1005 members who are locked out of Stelco and reside in St. Catharines had submitted questions that were unasked. NDP Candidate Mike Williams denounced the Chamber for not having the courage to allow the candidates to answer the concerns of working-class voters.

Green Party candidate Jennifer Mooradian told the Chamber “Voters cannot make an informed decision if we fail to provide complete information. Failing to include all candidates in local debates serves to further erode our democracy and works to support our current electoral system. This system is one unable to fully represent the views of all Canadians. Voter apathy can be largely attributed to the failure of the Canadian electoral system to provide a true voice for all Canadians. It is disheartening to see this lack of representation replicated at the local level.”

In Figueroa vs Canada, filed by the Communist Party’s leader Miguel Figueroa, the Supreme Court decided that:
  • “Section 3 (Charter of Rights and Freedoms) should be understood with reference to the right of each citizen to play a meaningful role in the electoral process, rather than the election of a particular form of government.
  • “All political parties are capable of introducing unique interests and concerns into the political discourse and marginal or regional parties tend to raise issues not adopted by national parties. Political parties provide individual citizens with an opportunity to express an opinion on the policy and functioning of government. Each vote in support of a party increases the likelihood that its platform will be taken into account by those who implement policy and votes for parties with fewer than 50 candidates are an integral component of a vital and dynamic democracy.
  • “…the right to vote in accordance with preferences requires each citizen to have information to assess party platforms and the legislation undermines the right to information protected by s. 3.”

All of the provincial candidates in St. Catharines agreed after Tuesday’s TVCogeco all-candidates debate to demand that the Chamber too include all candidates.

-XXX-

Authorized by the CFO for the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)