When you look beyond the paternalism, cynicism, genuine concern -- whatever motives drive the Harper government's punitive approach to crime -- only one question matters. Is it effective? Will closing Vancouver's safe injection site, Insite, reduce drug addiction and related crime? Will imposing six-month minimum jail sentences on anyone caught with as few as five marijuana plants inhibit pot-smoking among teenagers? Will expanding prisons reduce violence in our streets? Most legal experts, criminologists, addiction researchers and street-level health workers, along with many police chiefs and past reports from Parliamentary committees, say "no" -- as does the experience of other "tough-on-crime" jurisdictions. ...As New Democrat Libby Davies noted: "What they are doing is not based on evidence, whatsoever. It's a political stance."
Links to news articles written by or about Libby Davies.
OTTAWA — Opposition parties say Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office has gone too far with hyper-partisan attacks, and it’s time to apologize and play fair. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff demanded Thursday that Harper say sorry for a Conservative party email circulated by the Prime Minister’s Office that depicted one of the country’s top bankers as a shill for the Liberal party. And the NDP called on Harper to rein in his main spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, whom it accused of making “reckless and conspiratorial partisan smears.” The NDP complaint came on the heels of Soudas accusing New Democrat MP Libby Davies of encouraging a Vancouver protest Wednesday which he said endangered the lives of children, war vets and other Chinese Canadians who were awaiting a visit from the prime minister.... Soudas fired off emails to all reporters in the national press gallery accusing Davies, who had tweeted about the “impressive“ turnout,“ of encouraging protesters to block the exits... “It’s turned into a day of almost terror for local seniors, children, veterans,” he wrote....Davies participated in the protest but said she didn’t organize it and had no knowledge that exits had been blocked. Vancouver police said they removed the chains and tape, made no arrests and allowed the protest to continue without further incident.
The Liberals and the NDP are working together to change the rules on Parliamentary prorogation, but Minister of State for Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher says prorogation "enhances" the ability of the government to do its job, and most Canadians don't care about this "inside baseball" controversy. Last week the Liberal and NDP House leaders and democratic reform critics met in Grit House Leader Ralph Goodale's (Wascana, Sask.) office to discuss plans to either table legislation, or change the Standing Orders in the House of Commons to limit the Prime Minister's ability to prorogue Parliament. Also in attendance were Liberal democratic reform critic Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Lachine, Que.), her NDP counterpart David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, Ont.), and NDP House Leader Libby Davies (Vancouver East, B.C.).
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who is pushing the government's tough on crime agenda and plans to revive the bill on mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes in the next Parliamentary session, did not support the proposed law when he was a Mulroney backbencher. In 1988, Mr. Nicholson vice-chaired a Parliamentary committee that released a report recommending mandatory minimum sentences not be used, except in the case of repeat violent sexual offenders. The committee found, based on testimony and the U.S. experience, that the law didn't work and increases prison populations....NDP MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East, B.C.), whose party voted against Bill C-15, said Mr. Nicholson's zest for introducing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes is purely political.
OTTAWA — Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, one of Canada's most vocal champions of fixed minimum prison sentences, once opposed the idea of removing discretion for judges to sentence as they see fit. As a Tory backbencher in 1988, Nicholson was vice-chairman of a parliamentary committee that rejected the expansion of automatic incarceration, asserting that it doesn't work, overcrowds jails and takes too hefty of a social and financial toll.
A sports arena is not the place to do the people's business, federal cabinet minister James Moore declared yesterday, as he strongly distanced his government from British Columbia's contentious policy of buying up nearly $1-million worth of Olympic tickets, including many in private suites, for the use of provincial politicians and prospective investors. "They are free to take that approach," Mr. Moore said, "but I certainly don't plan on doing any government business in the stands of a hockey game. In my judgment, I don't think that's realistic." Opposition MPs have spurned even that, arguing that it is not right for MPs to have special access to Olympic tickets, regardless of whether they pay for them...Added Libby Davies of the NDP: "We decided we did not want any preferential treatment, where the public could not get tickets. So we declined them."
The opposition House leaders are warning Prime Minister Stephen Harper that he shouldn't take their cooperation for granted in the next session and say his government has "soured" the atmosphere in the Commons by proroguing Parliament. "It will be quite tense," said NDP House Leader Libby Davies (Vancouver East, B.C.) of her expectations for the resumption of Parliament, March 3. The NDP extended an offer to the government to restart all of the 36 bills that died on the order paper when Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) prorogued Parliament on Dec. 30, if he agreed to reverse his decision and bring Parliament back when it was scheduled to resume, Jan. 25. In order for a bill to be restarted from where it left off it requires the unanimous consent of the House, and Ms. Davies said Mr. Harper shouldn't count on their help in getting his government's legislation through.
Prorogation means no Parliament on Monday, but that doesn't mean a reprieve from politics. There will be no official debates, no Question Period, no committee meetings, no discussion of consequence about Canada and its future. But there will be press conferences – a slew of them – as parties aim to seize political advantage while Parliament is suspended.
Ottawa must provide more leadership in the widely supported drive to provide more housing for the homeless and other disadvantaged people across Canada. It should reintroduce the type of national housing program that was scrapped in the 1990s. It should also recommit to the kind of partnership with B.C. that has helped create scores of social housing units in this province. The current level of federal funding for housing for the homeless simply isn't enough to meet the growing demand for it, especially in downtown Vancouver....Libby Davies, the NDP Vancouver East MP, has put forward a bill calling for a national housing strategy to combat homelessness which has received widespread support.
The B.C. Court of Appeal has dismissed a federal government appeal of an exemption granted InSite, Vancouver's supervised-injection site, which means the facility -- the first of its kind in Canada -- will remain open. The federal government is expected to appeal Friday's ruling, a split 2-1 decision that carries an automatic right of appeal, to the Supreme Court of Canada. Dr. Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, called Friday's court ruling "a tremendous victory for [those of] us involved in the Downtown Eastside. It sends a very clear message to [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper and his draconian policies." New Democrat MP for Vancouver East Libby Davies told the rally that the federal government should not waste further time and money on an appeal.
James Moore watched Canada's women's hockey team snag gold at the Turin Olympics on TV while sitting in an Ottawa delicatessen, at midnight, munching a smoked meat sandwich. People in the room were transfixed. "I remember there was this Mom and this little girl, a young girl who played hockey. She was just going bananas. It was a great, very cool moment." The gold-medal scene stuck in Moore's memory -- and it's a safe bet the Conservative MP from B.C. will have even more memorable Olympic moments watching the 2010 Winter Games -- moments more likely to be accompanied with canapes and high-end Canadian wine than deli food.
VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Court of Appeal has dismissed a federal government appeal, which means InSite, the Vancouver supervised safe-injection site that was the first of its kind in Canada, will remain open. The federal government is expected to appeal Friday's split 2-1 ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada. Dr. Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, called Friday's court ruling "a tremendous victory for us involved in the Downtown Eastside. It sends a very clear message to [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper and his draconian policies." Vancouver East MP Libby Davies told the rally that federal government should not waste further time and money on an appeal. "They need to think about common sense here," she said.
Questions are being raised after Health Canada's new anti-drug website for youth included links to a similar campaign being run in the US. Health Canada says it had no choice but to link to several American sources on its new youth anti-drug website as no applicable Canadian sources existed. However, others see it as the government moving Canadian policy more in line with its southern neighbour....Libby Davies called the Health Canada website "very disappointing" and suggested that the department has been influenced by the government's "ideology about drug use."
It will never get the attention of the official Olympic torch relay, but Sunday a generic wooden spoon changed hands near the Olympic Countdown Clock in downtown Vancouver. On the receiving end was New Democratic Party MP Libby Davies, who becomes the 55th participant in the 2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike Relay, a low-key handoff that will see Davies stick to a liquid-only diet for a week in order to raise awareness of homelessness as the 2010 Winter Olympics loom large.
Opposition MPs say they will spend a major portion of the parliamentary prorogation period in Ottawa, with or without the governing Conservatives. Ralph Goodale, the Liberal House Leader, said in a telephone interview from Regina on Wednesday that Liberal politicians will be found in their Ottawa offices through much of February. Libby Davies, the House Leader for the New Democrats, said the members of her caucus art outraged by the prorogation, “how arrogant it is, and how [Mr. Harper is] trying to get off the hook in terms of what’s happening with the detainee issue and the war in Afghanistan.”
Stephen Harper will revive a contentious plan to reform the Senate after Parliament resumes in March, setting the stage for a showdown with the opposition and a handful of provinces over whether senators should be elected and held to term limits. New Democratic MP Libby Davies argued that after Mr. Harper moved to shut down Parliament in December, Canadians will be skeptical that the Prime Minister is really interested in democratic reform. “He wants to control committees in the Senate, he wants to get away from the Afghan detainees issue in the Commons,” she said. “When he puts [Senate reform] out there as some kind of democratic priority, I think it's laughable.”
Two Lower Mainland MPs are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to personally intervene to resolve a dispute over the exclusion of female ski jumpers at next month's Winter Olympics. Liberal Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra) and New Democrat Libby Davies (Vancouver East) want the PM to contact International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and find a solution enabling Olympic organizers to host a female competition next month.
As the NDP House leader, lesbian MP Libby Davies is in charge of her party's day-to-day business in the Commons. The trouble is, it's difficult to do that job when you're effectively shut out of work for two months. On Dec 30, Prime Minister Stephen Harper phoned the Governor General to request prorogation — ending the current session of Parliament — with an eye to a new throne speech on Mar 3 and a budget speech the following day.
OTTAWA -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is suspending Parliament until March to give his government time to "recalibrate," an aide to the prime minister said on Wednesday. The move postpones the 2010 start of Canada's legislature to March 3 from Jan. 25 -- after the winter Olympics in Vancouver -- and lets the government prepare "the next stage of Canada's economic action plan," said Dimitri Soudas, Mr. Harper's press secretary. "Clearly this is a move on their part to avoid public scrutiny, to avoid further investigation on Afghan detainees," said Libby Davies, House leader for the opposition New Democratic Party.
The Conservative government has shut down Parliament for two months, until after the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Prime Minister Stephen Harper telephoned Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean on Wednesday to ask her permission to end the parliamentary session. Jean signed the proclamation later that day, granting his request. The move triggered immediate condemnation from opposition MPs who labelled the Conservative government's move an "almost despotic" attempt to muzzle parliamentarians amid controversy over the Afghan detainees affair.....NDP House Leader Libby Davies said she was "appalled" by Harper's decision and accused the prime minister of "running from" opposition demands for a public inquiry into what and when the government knew about allegations of torture of detainees transferred into Afghan custody by Canadian soldiers in 2006. "By proroguing Parliament, he is unilaterally making a decision to stop any kind of disclosure from happening," Davies told CBC News from Vancouver.