"The power of Shahid’s cartoons are acute. Take a close look if you dare. Instead of euphemisms, find direct statements; instead of evasion, find candor. The skill of illustration is matched by the acuity of vision..."
Norman SolomonREAD MORE
Nov 9, 03:01 PM
Elections and No-fly Lists"One cannot choose amongst various rights - I assure you that I will protect minorities." Prime-minister Paul Martin During any election campaign politicians are involved in a feeding frenzy devouring and disgorging all manner of political rhetoric. A better Canada is promised to all voters on a silver platter. Be forewarned, politicians are like diapers and for the same reasons they both need regular changing. Why? Because politicians hardly ever live up to their campaign promises. As individuals it is our privilege to vote for a political party that not only supports personal political biases but that which also maintains the inviolability of the Canadian Charter of Rights. Voters must look beyond the daily rhetoric of party leaders and become more informed about their local candidates. At the end of the day if a Member of Parliament (MP) does not represent John Q Public in Ottawa the public in his/her riding are rendered voiceless. For the better part of two years I have been voiceless. It has been a year-and-a-half since I was not allowed to board an Air Canada flight for reasons beyond my understanding. I have managed to have the case covered in the media and on Parliament Hill but through no help from Sarmite Bulte, the Liberal MP from my riding. Ms Bulte has ignored my phone calls and refuses to follow up on a case that seriously impinges on my basic rights as a Canadian. To add insult, Jean Lapierre, the Liberal Minister of Transportation and Anne McLellan, the Deputy Prime-minister, tell me the Government does not regulate a No-fly List. This is inconsistent with what I do know which is that Canada actually does regulate American No-fly Lists – the very same America that the Prime Minister Paul Martin is now trying to leverage national attention from by squaring off against the U.S. Ambassador. The Liberal Government refuses to acknowledge that I was flagged even though an unassuming airline agent mistakenly wrote Designated High-Profile on a business card. With Sarmite Bulte refusing to help I was left to channel my own resources to pressure the Liberal Government. After a recent radio interview on CBC’s The Current, Jean Lapierre’s assistant called me to “back-off”. After asking me what my political leanings were as a syndicated cartoonist I was told that any attempts to get answers from the Government would be stonewalled by the Liberals. He added that the more media presence I gave the case the thicker my file would get. Ironically, it was recently suggested to me by the RCMP that since passenger security regulations are issued by Transport Canada my case actually holds the potential for a civil suit against the Government. The NDP, as in all minority governments, hold the Liberal majority accountable in Parliament. During the past two years the NDP have been particularly supportive of my case. Even though Peggy Nash lost in the previous Federal election to Sarmite Bulte, Ms Nash has been instrumental in corroborating facts in my Air Canada story. Both Libby Davies, an NDP MP from Vancouver and NDP leader Jack Layton have highlighted my case at the House of Commons. They invited me to a press conference at Parliament Hill allowing me the opportunity to speak about my case during the unveiling of Bill C-296. This Bill proposed a ban on racial profiling in Canada and had the support of all the political parties with the notable exception of the Liberal Government. The last Federal Election saw Sarmite Bulte win against Peggy Nash in my riding by a mere 3000 ballots. Sarmite Bulte does not live in my riding but is still asking for my vote on January 23, 2006 to return to Ottawa so that she can (in her words), “continue to work on your behalf and help build a dynamic and successful Community, City and Province.” Surely these past couple of years has been no indication of Ms Bulte “working for me”. Voters need to move beyond partisanship and rhetoric. A Liberal Party has been disinclined to listen to any voice other than its own, and with the rhetorical banter turned to maximum it seems like the Liberal Party is suddenly cheerleading and championing Canadian rights. Voters need to make educated decisions to shift the public opinion polls if they want to make a difference. Residents need to press their candidates to take a stand on real issues and hold them to these promises. Peggy Nash and the NDP have not only been extremely supportive these past couple of years but have showed me a way to gain a voice on Parliament Hill. Meanwhile, the Liberals, having awakened from their slumber, are now busy rubberstamping their campaign-style rhetoric.
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