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Cotler deplores Conservative spending priorities
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 17 février 2011

Côte-des-Neiges residents and various borough councillors were present Thursday evening for a town hall meeting with Liberal members of Parliament Irwin Cotler and Scott Brison, who used the forum to criticize the Conservative government and praise the Liberal party platform in anticipation of the upcoming federal budget.

Brison began by deploring the lack of international relations savvy in the Harper administration, as well as their extravagant military spending.

He also questioned their decision to invest billions in untendered contracts for the construction of U.S. style mega-prisons, at a time when crime rates are in “decline” and opposition is difficult: “Public servants who have opinions are not welcome in the current government… morale in the Public Service office is at an all-time low.”

He named healthcare as a “top priority for families” and described home care as the new center of healthcare, as opposed to institutional intervention.

Cotler reminded the gathering about the new Liberal Family Care Plan, which provides employment insurance and tax benefits to those who tend to sick family members at home, so they need not quit their jobs.

A participant responded by calling the measure insufficient: “Home care only works if a substantial amount of money is put into the system. A tax credit is not enough.”

Chris Schwartz, community organizer for the Côte-des-Neiges social rights organization Project Genesis, named low-cost housing as another urgent need, in the borough as well as province-wide. He described how many of the organization’s crucial conventions with the federal government will soon expire, leaving volunteers to wonder about the plight of low-income newcomers to the area.
Schwartz finished by handing out a petition for participants to sign, expressing his wish for a “solid” commitment to the housing issue by the Liberals.
Côte-des-Neiges seniors were also named as victims of rising rents in the community.

High poverty levels have been noted in sections of the CDN borough, largely in immigrant populations who are blocked from living the “Canadian dream” of earning, saving, and supporting family because of accreditation problems, an issue brought up by another attendee. Brison reacted with a call to change immigration policy, which often impedes well-educated immigrants from continuing in their chosen career, as Quebec employers often do not recognize foreign credentials.

Brison promised that the Liberal party would focus on “home care, education, new technology, clean energy, and families” under Michael Ignatieff’s leadership.

Cotler and Brison promised to relay citizen feedback to federal decision-makers.

[ Ingrid Wissink ]

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