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Canada-featby David McLaren

Judging by how quickly the Harper Government's election budget disappeared from the pages and the airways of the media, you might think that the discussion is over. I'd argue it hasn't really begun. For budgets are more than a government's spending plans. They are more than re-election platforms. They are cultural documents about how we will be governed.

This is a budget for the vote-rich middle class. But, given the stats, you have to ask yourself how many of us are left in the "middle class."

Canada has the 3rd highest rate of working-age poverty among 17 similar countries. Inequality is rising more rapidly here than in most other G20 nations. We have lost over 300,000 good jobs in Ontario since The Recession and the economy has replaced them with poor-paying, part time, precarious work.

 

notley-feature-Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound NDP

Albertans are clearly not afraid of New Democrats. They elected a majority NDP government in their provincial election last night and reduced the Progressive Conservative to third place.

But Conservatives should not have been surprised if they had paid attention to what Albertans are thinking ...

higher taxes for those who can afford it
higher taxes for corporations
higher royalty rates on oil
less dependence on oil as an economic driver
deficit is not as important as services
increase funding for child care
do more to reduce greenhouse emissions

All good Canadian values. All federal NDP policies.

liberalbudget featThe important thing about budget commentary is to consider who is making it. One would naturally expect the party in power to paint a budget in glowing terms and the party in opposition to pan it. However, if a person really did want an unbiased opinion, they should seek out a well-informed neutral observer (and probably more than one). This would allow any interested person to come to their own conclusions and those conclusions would be of real value as long as one was able to keep an open mind.
For example, Don Drummond (a person who, I would think, is respected by all sides) stated a few days ago that, in his view, the budget was detailed, used realistic assumptions, maintained contingency factors, used reasonable revenue projections and showed a real commitment to modest spending increases and that all of these points gave credibility to the goal of balancing the budget by 2017-18 .

eggs-featureby Angela Freeman 

I am writing to encourage the City of Owen Sound to amend its current By-law 1997-089 in order to permit backyard laying hens within the city limits. As a resident of Owen Sound, I see the addition of chickens as an excellent opportunity for the City to adopt policies and create by-laws that foster sustainable and environmental practices, and support the growth of local food systems. Owen Sound has a strong local food movement and a close link to its rural food sources, yet what is more local than going to your backyard to find fresh organic egg?
Eggs area low-cost excellent source of protein and the flexibility of their use can benefit any household kitchen. Omelets or baked goods anyone? Eggs are also a great way to increase a sense of community between neighbours, as extra eggs can be shared between households.
The benefits of backyard chickens extend beyond eggs as a food source. Chickens make excellent pets, and are enjoyable to watch. People develop friendships with these fine birds. Hens also present opportunity for children to learn about the source of their food directly. Children helping with the simple chores involved with maintaining hens learn how to take care of animals, and also learn responsibility. Chickens can also be part of an ecological-centred yard as chickens eat many vegetative kitchen scraps, eat pests and also produce beneficial and sought-after manure. Thus, when I think of urban hens, I think of fresh eggs, education, food security, garden ecology, and entertainment!

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