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Special Events, 2014

Liberal Family Christmas Party, November 2014

Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks to all our board of directors who whipped up some tasty food!

 

 

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Heritage Potluck Dinner with Senator Jaffer, February 2014

Senator Mobina Jaffer and John Brisbois

Senator Mobina Jaffer and John Brisbois

Our third annual Heritage Dinner came not without some controversy, with coverage of the issue by the Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor, and a response statement released by President John Brisbois. In the end, our invitation to Senator Mobina Jaffer to kick of our “Year for Women in Politics” was very well worth the while. Senator Jaffer’s insightful, heartfelt, and informative talk ranged from discussion of missing aboriginal women, to international sex trafficking. It was an issues-based presentation, which showed the great utility that a non-partisan senate could have to improving political discourse in Canada.

Of course, the topic immediately on everyone’s mind at the beginning of the evening was Justin Trudeau’s decision to remove the Liberal senators from his caucus. The senators have now chosen to sit as an independent Liberal Senate Caucus. Senator Jaffer admitted that at first she was unhappy with the decision, because after over thirty years of Liberal membership, it felt like a “divorce”. But she told the audience of over 80 people in Trenton that she quickly came to see the wisdom of the decision, and that the senate’s independence will bring the body into better standing.

Senator Jaffer pulled no punches. She immediately took the audience off-guard by commenting that she doesn’t really celebrate the Olympics. Upon further explanation, however, Senator Jaffer shocked the audience by bringing the problems of international sex trafficking at the Olympics very close to home indeed. Jaffer represents British Columbia in the senate, and during the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, she walked the streets of Vancouver as she regularly does to better understand who is living there. What she saw left the audience’s jaws on the floor. Young girls – mostly aboriginal girls – were on the streets presenting themselves as sex partners for the men there. Given the Supreme Court’s recent decision to force Parliament to consider Canada’s prostitution laws, this was an especially current issue about which she encouraged us all to reflect.

Senator Jaffer also linked the discussion to her work in India and Uganda, recounting with sobering detail the lives of child sex workers in India – some as young as eight years old – which she has gained from personal contact with those involved. Lastly, Senator Jaffer challenged us to consider more closely what it means to tie our foreign aid to business interests, as our current government does. She used the example of smart phones, which she, and many people in the room, had on hand. Coltan, a rare metallic ore component in smart phones, can be found in Uganda. The human rights abuses there, however, are atrocious. Jaffer told a story in chilling detail of a woman who was repeatedly gang raped and who had her genitals mutilated. Uganda, of course, has also been in the news recently on another human rights issue. Turning to questions, one audience member asked Senator Jaffer for comment on the recently passed anti-gay bill there. Jaffer pointed out that it was unfortunate at such times that Canada’s voice in Africa is diminished from what it once was.

Also in attendance at the Heritage Dinner were Bay of Quinte nomination contestants Neil Ellis and Peter Tinsley; Hastings-Lennox and Addington nomination contestant Mike Bossio; former Northumberland-Quinte West MPP (and we hope future MPP!) Lou Rinaldi, and Quinte West mayoral candidate Jim Harrison. Senator Jaffer also met with local farmer Frank Myers to discuss the appropriation of his farm by the Department of Defense and CFB Trenton.

For more information, you can explore Senator Jaffer’s website, with her in depth blogs on a number of subjects: http://www.mobinajaffer.ca

Neil Ellis and Mike Bossio

Neil Ellis and Mike Bossio