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Bridge Forum Speaker Series, 2014

Part 4: Alia Hogben, October 2014

Alia Hogben is a recipient of the Order of Canada. She accepted the award as an achievement for all Canadian Muslim women. Alia was born in Burma of Indian lineage and has lived in a number of countries before settling in Canada more than 50 years ago. Educated at Carleton and the University of Toronto, she worked as a lecturer, a columnist and a social worker supervisor with the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.

The Canadian Council of Muslim Women has chapters across the country and a growing membership whose motto is equality, equity and empowerment.  Within the context of Canadian society, the group works to promote an understanding of Islam that is humane and emphasizes equality and the simplicity of Islam.

Alia emphasizes the importance of seeing oneself foremost as Canadian. The CCMW works to integrate Muslim women into the mainstream.Frequently Muslims must face down discrimination which is amplified when events occur such as the Toronto 18 terrorist plot or the Shafia murders. It is an uphill battle to dispel the stereotypes of all Muslims as terrorists.

The CCMW works to spread the message of universal human rights.Alia is a conference presenter who works with the public as well as with scholars. Her column appears in the Kingston Whig Standard.


Part 3: Hon. Scott Brison, September 2014

Tuesday September 23rd, Scott Brison, Liberal MP for Kings-Hants spoke with area Liberals at the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club. Speaking to a capacity audience, Brison emphasized the responsibility we have as Canadian to set the country on the correct footing and to win the next election in 2015.

Speaking about our trading partners, Brison referred to trade relationships as simply human relationships. He said that Prime Minister Harper just does not have good relationships. This is especially so for the relationships with the premiers, aboriginals, women and veterans.

In his role as Co-chair with Chrystia Freeland of Justin Trudeau’s Economic Advisory Council, he provides expert advice and leadership in matters relating to government financial policy such as the new job killing EI premium structure brought in by the Conservative government.

Mr. Brison believes that the time is right for investment in Infrastructure since there is a soft job market. It is a time of low interest, and low growth. Leading economists supports this view.


Part 2: Joyce Murray MP, May 2014

joyce murray

The Bridge Forum on May 14th brought Joyce Murray to Caper’s Restaurant in Belleville. Part of the Year of Women in Politics focus, Ms. Murray in her role as Liberal National Defence Critic referred to the cuts suffered by military personnel under the Harper government. The Tory government boasts of supporting the military while quietly clawing back billions in announced defence spending.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFP) came under fire from Ms. Murray as a part of Conservative Policy that undermines our immigration system, suppresses Canadian wages and results in fewer jobs for Canadian workers. In BC alone, the CD Howe  Institute pegged the fallout as having forced the unemployment rate up by 4 percent, effectively doubling the rate in the province.


Part 1: Dr. Marlene Brant Castellano O.C., April 2014

Dr. Brant Castellano

Dr. Marlene Brant Castellano, professor emerita of Trent University, Officer of the Order of Canada, and Mohawk of the Bay of Quinte, spoke to a public crowd that included Liberals and several people from other parties at the Bay of Quinte Federal Liberal Association’s first Bridge Forum of the 2014 season last Wednesday, 23 April, at Capers Brasserie in Belleville. The event continued the “Year for Women in Politics” program hosted by the federal Liberals.

Brant Castellano served as co-director of research with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and is co-editor of “From Truth to Reconciliation: Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools.” She spoke about the “Levers of Change in Aboriginal Affairs,” pointing particularly to human rights, economic imperatives, and political will.

When the forum was opened up to questions from the crowd, Rhea Pretsell of Belleville asked Brant Castellano for advice on how to engage First Nations peoples more in the electoral process. Brant Castellano fought back tears as she told of how, as a young woman, she did not actually have the legal right to vote in Canada, since “reserve Indians” were not enfranchised until Diefenbaker’s government gave them the vote in 1960.

She suggested that “lingering effects of disenfranchisement, a fear of the loss of identity, as well as suspicion that a vote would not make any difference, are barriers to increasing participation among First Nations people.” However, she pointed to “outreach efforts, and political leaders leading by example in bringing change” as potential remedial tools.

Hastings-Lennox and Addington Federal Liberal nomination hopeful Mike Bossio asked about the reception among First Nations people to the Harper government’s abandonment of the Kelowna Accord – particularly if there were any lasting resentment.

Brant Castellano, who was involved in health aspects for the creation of the Kelowna Accord, pointed out that the accord – endorsed by every province and territory, the federal government, and five First Nations organizations – had been a triumph for the Liberal government of Paul Martin, but the Conservative government of Stephen Harper had abandoned it. She continued, “there are so many new issues that have faced First Nations people since then, that the Kelowna Accord has not stayed in everyday conversation.”

This week, Brant Castellano also gave a public endorsement for Bossio to be the Liberal candidate in Hastings-Lennox and Addington.

Also in attendance at the forum were Bay of Quinte Federal Liberal nomination hopefuls Peter Tinsley and Neil Ellis.