Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Welcome to the People First Party of Canada

The PFP is currently in the process of gathering input from all Canadians. Input that we hope will lead to the development of a strong voice. One that is long overdue for this Country.

In order for People First to qualify for official party status with elections Canada we must confirm the registration of at least 250 members. If you would like to help in our efforts and participate in the birth of a new political force in this Country we would love to have you.

Please take some time to review our web site (including our policy discussion paper) and if you have any questions or would like to join with us as a member or help support our efforts in some other way, you can do so by contacting: higginsmyles@yahoo.ca

Our intention is to simply collect the names and contact information of all of those interested in joining their voices to the call for change. Once we have identified enough interested members we will be contacting everyone on our list in order to confirm your membership prior to filing for official party status.

Over the coming weeks please check back with us as we hope to grow this site along with the party itself. Stop by often and make sure you are heard. We look forward to bringing a new voice to Ottawa. PFP, the people's voice, your voice.

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings,
Myles Higgins
Interim Party President.

The PFP is Listening to What You Have to Say

Hello, As a party that is intent on listening to the voice of the people, the PFP would like to ask you to tell us what you want from your government. Where have the other parties let you down? What should be done better? What kind of Canada do you want to live in?

We are in the process of building a party platform and policies that will address your needs. The section below is intended as a discussion document for you as the electorate to review and comment on. It is through this process of open discussion that the PFP hopes to ensure that we truly are the voice of the people.

Please take some time to read the discussion policy synopsis and let us know what you like or don't like about it. What you feel is missing or can be improved upon and what you would like us to address.

From time to time you may see specific sections or even single words or sentences highlighted in bold. These are intended to highlight ideas that have been supplied by you as concerned citizens and have been added to the discussion paper by the PFP because we have listend and understand the importance of those ideas.

The People First Party will work to ensure that the people of Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and everywhere in between, are finally heard in Ottawa. This is your chance to be heard loud and clear.

PFP Policy Synopsis - Discussion Document:

Political Reform:

The PFP is fully dedicated to the creation of a triple E Senate. This will allow each of the Country’s provincial partners to have a more equal say in policy and legislation regardless of their population base. We believe that the archaic practice of appointing senators is one that provides no real value to Canadians but instead serves to reward longtime supporters of individual political parties. In comparison, an elected senate will ensure that the public receives the sort of regional representation they deserve.

Although the details of a specific senate structure and processes will require much planning and development, the PFP vision is to implement a triple E senate that provides an equal and ethnically balanced voice for each province and territory as well as the Nation's Aboriginal peoples. A senate that has the powers necessary to ensure that the needs of all province’s and territories are met. One option the PFP is currently considering is a mechanism by which legislation would require the agreement by a minimum of 60% of the senate, plus the agreement of a majority of the senators from at least seven provinces and/or territories, in order to be enacted.

In addition to the creation of a triple E senate, the PFP will undertake a review of the current system of parliamentary election. We are in favor of fully reviewing the current “first past the post” system that allows a party to form the government even though that party may have captured less than half of the popular vote. We believe that electoral reform must be undertaken on two fronts, a senate that provides regional representation and a Parliament that provides proportional representation. It is in this way that the voice of the people will truly be heard.

As a party, the PFP intends to work with the provinces and territories to ensure they have the freedom and powers they need in order to prosper. We believe that while a federal presence is a necessity for all Canadians it should not impede the development and growth of the provinces on an individual basis. The PFP believes that Canada is much more than simply the sum of its parts. We believe that by loosening Ottawa’s centralized grip on the nation, the individual parts will begin to flourish and in turn lead to an even stronger nation.

The PFP believes that much of the pomp and circumstance that currently exists within government is antiquated, unnecessary and overly expensive. A clear example of this is the current practice of maintaining a Queen’s representative in Ottawa and in each province (Governor General/Lieutenant Governor). This is an outdated custom that has no real value in the twenty-first century. We believe that while the office may provide a comfortable reminder of our history, its does not warrant the cost of maintaining it going forward and should be done away with.

The PFP vision of government is one that is open and responsive to the needs of the nation. In an effort to ensure accountability and sound financial practices the PFP would greatly increase the powers of the Auditor General by allowing the office to fully investigate spending in all areas of government. All members of parliament including cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister would be subject to the Auditor’s review. The office of the Auditor General would report directly to parliament in an open forum available to all, in essence making it accountable to the general public.

Although we understand that the plans outlined above will take time to implement, we believe they are a major first step in creating a more even handed government that will better serve all Canadians. Other changes will need to occur over time, but we believe that these steps will significantly improve how this country is governed.

Social Reform:

The People First Party is dedicated to Canada’s universal health care system. We also believe that the current system is flawed and in dire need of improvement in order to better reflect the true vision that was developed many years ago.

The current health care system is overburdened and under funded. Although the PFP believes that direct management of health care should continue to lie with the provinces, we also believe that a role exists for the federal government beyond simply supplying funding to the system.

The PFP would work with the provinces to ensure that a nation wide standard of health care services is truly available to everyone and that delivery of those services is done in a manner that is timely and meets the individual requirements of each province.

The PFP will work to improve the availability of elder care and child care for all citizens.

We believe that as concerned Canadians we have an obligation to review the current programs with an eye to improving both their delivery and effectiveness. The PFP will work toward increasing the availability of both elder and child care facilities by providing funding for care spaces in addtion to affordable energy efficient housing for lower income families and seniors.

The PFP also believes that we must move toward a system that will provide subsidies directly to any family that chooses to provide elder or child care in their home or through alternative means such as home care or baby sitters.

We understand that in some rural or remote areas organized care may not always be available. We feel that by providing subsidies directly to primary care givers this problem can be alleviated, we also see this as a step that will provide parents and other family members with the financial assistance they need to make the decision that is best for them and their families.

The PFP feels that there is no more important resource than our children. It is they who will lead our nation into the future. The PFP will work to ensure that our youth have the tools they need to take up that challenge by ensuring access to a solid education.

The PFP will work toward offsetting the cost of higher education by providing more funding to universities and colleges, thus allowing them to reduce the cost of tuition and books. The PFP will work directly with student representatives, schools and provincial governments to find the best solutions that will address such issues as student debt. We will work to ensure that when our young people graduate they are not saddled with the sort of crippling loan payments that make it nearly impossible for them to begin their lives in a productive and timely manner.

While the PFP is very concerned with the future of our youth, we also believe that governments have all too often neglected the needs of our seniors. Those individuals who have worked all of their lives, have protected and grown our nation and who are now in their golden years should and must be treated with the respect, dignity and care they so richly deserve.

Far too many seniors do not have the financial means to cover the cost of food, shelter, basic necessities and medical care. The PFP believes that much more can be done for our valuable seniors. We believe the CPP and OAS systems must be enhanced to provide a better standard of living. We also believe that the government can do much more to assist seniors with the cost of prescription drugs and other health care needs.

Justice Reform

The PFP believes that the best way to fight crime, especially violent crime, is to ensure that our youth are well educated and are provided with the tools they need to lead them away from criminal activity later in life. The PFP will work to ensure that these tools are in place but this step alone is not enough.

The PFP will work to improve policing throughout the country and provide police departments with the funding and equipment they need to do their jobs efficiently. We will also reform the current justice system to ensure that criminals, especially those convicted of violent, sexual or weapons related crimes, are given much stiffer mandatory sentences and that those sentences are served in full.

Many people feel that the current system in Canada is too soft on criminals. The PFP agrees. As a part of our plan to address this issue and to improve the chances of rehabilitation while incarcerated, we will work to institute a value added points system within our prisons.

Our current penal system allows convicted criminals to be released early if they exhibit “good behavior” while in prison. We, as a party, do not feel that simply exhibiting good behavior is reason enough to grant early release. We are all expected to exhibit good behavior everyday of our lives, doing so is what ensures that we do not run afoul of the law. Acting in a civilized and socially acceptable way does mean that we necessarily receive any special rewards and neither should it mean that convicted felons do either.

Under the PFP plan, all convicted criminals would, under normal circumstances, be expected to complete their entire sentence. An option would exist for non-violent criminals that would allow them to reduce their time in incarceration by up to 25%.

Those who qualify for the program could accomplish this through achieving specified goals as set out within the program. Goals such as completing a high school education, obtaining a university degree or a skills trade, undertaking supervised community service activities, making restitution to their victims, etc. This process will help ensure that once they are released those who are successful will have the skills they need to find valuable employment and to lead more productive lives.

In order to protect our citizens, the system would by necessity, be limited in its scope. Although all of the training and educational resources used in the program would be available for use by anyone within the prison system who might choose to utilize them, the ability to actually lessen their time incarcerated would be limited to those convicted of non-violent, non-sexual and non-weapons related charges. Anyone convicted of violent, sexual or weapons related charges would be required to serve out their entire sentence as imposed by the courts.

National Security / Defense:

The People First Party believes that while Canada is a peaceful nation, we have an obligation to our citizens and our allies around the world to protect our nation and to meet certain international objectives.

A nation with Canada’s limited population base may not be capable of playing a major military role in international conflicts, however this does not mean our military cannot play many key roles both internationally and at home.

The PFP believes that the Canadian military should become a much bigger part of the Canadian landscape than it has been in recent years. We believe specialized teams such as DART should be grown. We believe Canada can play an even bigger role in peacekeeping assignments and humanitarian relief than it already does. We also believe that our military and coastguard services should be capable of providing much better protection of our borders and coastal waters than is currently the case.

In order for our military and coastguard services to effectively carry out these duties and many more, they will require a much bigger investment to attract and retain personnel, to purchase state of the art equipment and to deploy vehicles, ships and aircraft on an ongoing basis rather than the boom or bust spending undertaken by previous governments.

We believe that Canadians are deservedly proud of their armed services and coastguard. We believe that Canada’s military can make a major impact on the international stage and just as importantly, here at home. We believe our service men and women should have much more of a presence in the protection of our borders and coasts, protection from such things as foreign over fishing, drug & weapons smuggling and illegal immigration, as well as in providing effective search & rescue services.

The PFP is fully in favor of a strong and relevant military and coastguard presence in our waters and at our air/land bases right across the Country.

Government Spending/Taxation Reform:

The People First Party recognizes that each and every Canadian, through their taxes, ultimately pays for the cost of government programs, salaries and expenses. We also believe that government is all too often less than careful or even negligent when it comes to using the public purse. This is something that the PFP will work to resolve.

As previously identified, the PFP would improve oversight of government spending by increasing the powers of the Auditor Generals office. We feel this will go a long way toward rectifying many issues. Although a key step, this alone will not resolve all of the systemic issues that exist with government spending.

The PFP will work with government agencies to tighten and strengthen spending controls and to ensure that clear accountability exists. We believe that every Canadian has the right to feel comfortable that the hard earned money they provide to the government is spent wisely and we intend to do our best to ensure that this is what happens.

The PFP will improve government spending in several areas. Two key examples of those are the closure of the Canadian Gun Registry and a reduction in bureaucracy throughout government departments.

The gun registry is an expensive and useless entity that provides no value to the nation. The registry does not protect Canadians from guns but simply forces law abiding citizens to pay for expensive permits while criminals continue to access and use firearms in the commission of crimes. The PFP believes this to be nothing more than a waste of tax payer dollars and should be closed down.

The PFP will work to ensure that the security needs of Canadians is met, not by forcing them to register their legal firearms, but by increasing both the number of police officers on the streets of the nation and improving the level of equipment and capabilities they need to perform their duties.

The PFP will also improve how public funds are spent within government departments throughout the nation. Too often when dealing with government agencies people remark on the amount time and red tape that they must contend with in order to accomplish what should be a simple task.

We all know that time translates directly into money. The more time a government employee is involved in any task, the more money he or she costs the taxpayer in salary. The more time members of the public must spend jumping through government hoops, the less time they have to spend on other, perhaps more beneficial tasks.

The PFP will work to ensure that all government agencies function in the most efficient and streamlined manner possible. We believe that by removing as much of the current bureaucracy as possible we will save millions and make government a much friendlier and open place for all Canadians.

The PFP believes that Canadians are a people who are more than willing to provide the necessary tax funding for the services they receive through government agencies. Services like health care, infrastructure, policing and Senior’s pensions. We also believe that Canadians want to be assured that they are taxed fairly and that they are receiving the best possible benefits from those tax dollars.

The PFP will work to ensure that all Canadians are treated fairly when it comes to taxation. We will work to strike a careful balance between the cost to the individual and business, the need to promote growth and employment and the cost of providing essential services.

We believe that every person has the right to retain as much of their hard earned income as possible while ensuring that the social programs we all depend upon are protected for the future. The PFP will work diligently to ensure that public funds are used as effectively as possible and that the level of taxation is in harmony with those services.

As outlined in previous policy statements, the PFP is dedicated to improving and growing our police, military and coastguard services for the protection of all Canadians. These critical services, along with those provided by our Nation’s fire fighters must be ensured and enhanced. In order to do this effectively we must continue to attract and retain qualified individuals who will fill the ranks of these services. The PFP believes one way to accomplish this goal is through taxation itself.

In order to attract and retain new military, coastguard, police and fire fighting personnel and in an effort to recognize the vital and dangerous work they so selflessly undertake each day, the PFP would pass legislation to ensure that these brave individuals are rewarded for their service to our nation.

While the salaries of military and coastguard personnel are a federal matter, the salaries of police and fire departments are a provincial one. In an effort to recognize the price these individuals already pay to protect our Country, new legislation would be enacted to fully exempt all military, coastguard, police and fire fighting personnel (both paid and volunteer) from all personal income taxes. This exemption would be applied to all individuals who dedicate a minimum of 25 hours a week to their individual area of service.

Immigration Reform:

The current immigration system in Canada is cumbersome, slow and does not meet the needs of our growing nation. Many potential immigrants find it difficult to navigate the system and when they do enter Canada are often left to flounder in a bureaucratic limbo for years if not decades. Often by the time they are informed of their acceptance or denial (deportation) these people have already settled down, become employed, bought homes, started families, are paying taxes and have become an integral part of their communities.

The PFP believes that current processes desperately need to be improved and we will undertake to overhaul the immigration system in this country so that this sort of scenario does not continue to play itself out with future welcome guests and potential citizens.

Many problems exist within the immigration system and not all of them are the result of inefficient processes. Many can be directly attributed to government policies.

Canada is a very diverse and multicultural nation. We consist of a geographically huge and physically diverse land with a relatively small population. This population is wide spread in some regions and very urban in others. Various parts of Canada are often very different in their economies, cultures, languages and even political viewpoints. This diversity also extends to industries, resources and even climates.

Diversity is what makes Canada such a great Country in which to live. It is also why the PFP does not believe that the current one size fits all immigration policy is what is needed to ensure our nation’s growth and prosperity.

The PFP envisions a more flexible immigration policy that while safeguarding national security and interests, permits the provinces and territories to become more involved in the decision making process when it comes to attracting and even approving new Canadians. We envision a new system that takes into account the desires of each area and provides an opportunity for all provinces to attract people with the type of skills, education and entrepreneurial experience needed to grow the nation, one province and one citizen at a time.

Environmental Reform:

The PFP recognizes that our environment is not simply a Canadian resource, but also a world resource. It is the responsibility of us all to protect it for future generations.

As Canadians we understand the value and natural beauty in our Country and we also realize the balance that we must struggle to maintain between the protection of our environment and the demands of economic development.

The PFP believes that a balance can be struck. We believe that while we must continue to grow and develop, we must also do everything within reason to protect our environment.

The PFP will work toward the reduction of greenhouse gasses by providing funding for research and testing of new cleaner forms of energy, more environmentally friendly industrial equipment and improved industrial practices. In conjunction with business, towns, cities and provinces we will work to replace all existing “dirty” energy sources such as oil and coal fired generating stations with less damaging sources such as hydro, wind and solar.

The PFP will work to enact world class emission controls for all new vehicles on Canadian roads. We will provide green incentives to individuals and businesses and we will ensure that sound policies are put in place to protect and manage our resources on land and in the water so that they continue to provide valuable benefits to all Canadians for generations to come.

International Affairs & Trade:

The PFP believes that as a part of the global economy Canada has a responsibility to do its part in fostering trade while ensuring that human rights are upheld. We also believe that both of these objectives must be tempered with the clear goal of ensuring our nation’s own stability, economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity.

We intend to work toward the implementation of solid and enforceable trade agreements that will provide the best benefit to Canadians. We believe that while doing this Canada can also exert influence on the human rights policies of other nations. This can be accomplished by rewarding fair and just nations, through valuable trade partnerships, while refusing or severely limiting trade with those nations not in compliance with international human rights guidelines.

The policy of Canada as a modern multi-cultural nation should be to ensure that the principles and values we hold so dear are not denied to others. In this light we believe that international trade and international affairs are not separate entities but must work in harmony, one benefiting the other.

National Unity:

The PFP believes that a fairly and openly run Canada with a de-centralized government is the future of Canada. We believe that by providing our people with the type of representation they deserve, both proportional and regional, each province will have the voice it needs to be heard in Ottawa and to be a full partner in Canada.

The PFP will encourage each province/territory to grow and prosper under its own terms while benefiting from the opportunities this nation can provide. We stand for a Canada that, while ensuring balance and equality also allows each province/territory to manage itself in a way that best meets the needs of its population. The PFP believes this is a Canada that everyone will want to be a part of.

While certain national standards and guidelines must be set and adhered to, it is the people and officials in each province/territory that best understand how to implement those standards in a way that will be most beneficial for their individual area.

As previously identified, the PFP will work to strengthen Canada through the implementation of a triple E senate and a more balanced parliamentary election process. We will also work to develop a more equitable and fair practice for the calculation and distribution of government funding to the provinces and territories.

The current calculations for transfer payments, health care dollars, etc are based primarily on population in conjunction with provincial/territorial revenues. We believe this is a much too simple approach to distributing funds that are intended to provide equality of services to all Canadians. While areas with large populations indeed require large sums of money to function, this does not necessarily mean that the opposite is always true.

Often areas with smaller populations must endure the added cost of supplying essential services over large geographical areas and this can sometimes mean incurring additional costs that might not exist in the more populous centers.

In order to more equitably provide services to all Canadians, the PFP would work to create a new calculation for federal funds distribution. A calculation that while still being based primarily on population, would also include additional funding calculations based on the area’s geographic size and population demographics (distribution, age, etc)

The PFP is also in favor of allowing all provinces and territories to retain or obtain complete control in the management and ownership of its natural resources both on land an under water. We firmly believe that these resources, both renewable and non-renewable are the property of the provinces and as such should not be managed by the federal government.

The PFP is completely in favor of removing from the calculation of federal payments, all provincial revenues related to non-renewable resources.

The PFP believes that the Provinces will be best served in this way and we also believe that by giving the Provinces more control of their own resources along with more control of essential services (including the funds required to manage them) a major step will be taken in eliminating the fiscal imbalance that currently exists between Ottawa and the Provinces.

In an effort to ensure that all provinces and territories are more easily and inexpensively able to take advantage of their resources and supply those resources to their fellow Canadians in other parts of the nation, the PFP would work to create a national resource corridor across Canada.

The PFP vision consists of a federally controlled corridor that would provide a means for the free movement of minerals, oil, gas, electricity and other resources from one part of Canada to another without impediment.

Similar in concept to the TCH, which itself might be considered a goods corridor, the national resource corridor will stretch from the island of Newfoundland, through Labrador and across the continent to Vancouver and northward to the Territories. We believe all Canadians will benefit from the development of this corridor as it will allow resources to be easily transported from areas of supply to areas of demand both nationally and internationally.

We believe this corridor, in conjunction with our existing highway systems, will be another step in the process of making us a truly integrated Country and a more united people.
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