Connect with us

Politics

London-area MPP Jeff Yurek to exit politics after 10 years – London Free Press (Blogs)

Published

 on


Former Ontario cabinet minister Jeff Yurek is resigning his London-area seat and won’t seek re-election in the June provincial election.

Article content

The 10-year Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP, who plans to remain in office until the end of February, said Friday his “time in public life has run its course” as he announced his abrupt departure, just five months before the next Ontario election.

“It’s something I’ve been discussing with my family over the past few months,” the Progressive Conservative MPP said in an interview Friday.

“Heading into March and April, the focus at Queen’s Park will be on getting the next election campaign out, and I think having the party focused on that is probably the best time that I am able to step away,” he said.

Advertisement

Article content

Yurek thanked his team for their support and accomplishments over the last 10 years, including launching a provincial forestry strategy, expanding Toronto’s subway system and providing funding for London’s bus rapid transit system, among others.

He also extended his appreciation to his family, including his wife and daughter, as well as the voters of Elgin-Middlesex-London.

“It’s been an honour to serve (residents in my riding),” he said. “I’m quite proud of the people I’ve represented. It’s been a highlight of my life, and I look forward to being a strong member of our community and helping where I can going forward.”

Yurek, 50, was a pharmacist before entering politics. He was first elected MPP for the riding that includes south London, St. Thomas and Elgin County in 2011, replacing Liberal Steve Peters, who retired, and went straight into Doug Ford’s cabinet after Ford led the Tories back to power in 2018.

Advertisement

Article content

Yurek served first as Ford’s minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, then as Transportation minister and was minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks until last summer when he was shuffled out of the cabinet in a shakeup to take the Tories into an election year.

His departure from an often Tory riding in Southwestern Ontario leaves the party, which already had him listed online as part of its 2022 team, little time to find a replacement before the spring election.

Friday, Ford posted thanks on social media to Yurek “for his time and dedication in serving the people” in his riding.

“Congratulations Jeff on all that you accomplished during your 10 years as an MPP,” he said on Twitter. “Wishing you, your wife and daughter all the best as you enter the next chapter.”

Advertisement

Article content

The premier’s office said there are no plans to call a byelection ahead of the general election in June.

With Yurek not seeking re-election, the Tories will be down three veterans in the 10-riding London region in the next election. Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece, another 10-year legislator, is not running again, and Chatham-Kent-Leamington veteran Rick Nicholls was expelled from the Tory caucus for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Trevor Jones, a Leamington civic politician, will run in Nicholls’ riding for the Tories in June.

Yurek’s decision to leave now isn’t “especially surprising,” given his long run in office, said political scientist Cristine de Clercy at Western University.

Advertisement

Article content

“He didn’t say exactly why he was leaving, but it’s not unusual that people like him . . . . middle-age, mid-career politicians step down,” de Clercy said, adding sometimes “their desire to serve the public simply diminishes and their interests shift and they want to do something different.”

The Tories won seven of the 10 London-region seats in the last election, the New Democrats three — all in London — and the Liberals none.

Though Yurek’s seat will remain vacant for a few months before the next election is called, de Clercy said the time will allow for a more “transparent process to find new candidates, for all parties, not just the Conservatives.”

Yurek said he looks forward to staying active in his community, but does not plan to become involved politically.

“At this point, I think I’m done with public life per se,” he said. “I think it’s more so supporting our community outside of politics.”

cleon@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/CalviatLFPress

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Advertisement

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Politics

New documents show census officials concerned about political interference from Trump's Commerce Department – CNN

Published

 on


(CNN)Newly released documents appear to show top career officials at the Census Bureau had drafted a memo of concerns during the Trump administration’s attempts to exert political pressure on the bureau during the 2020 population count.

Other records show career officials alarmed by pressure from political appointees to alter processes for tallying undocumented immigrants and citizenship data that would likely result in GOP gains in the US House of Representatives. The records are among hundreds of documents that the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school obtained in a lawsuit filed in September 2020.
The New York Times was the first to report on the Census Bureau records.
An email among senior officials at the Census Bureau from September 2020 discusses the Commerce Department, which oversees the bureau, and what the officials considered to be an “unusually high degree of engagement in technical matters, which is unprecedented.”
The email and other documents came out as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit between the Brennan Center and the Department of Commerce, as well as eight other federal agencies. The email shows that the officials drafted a memo and planned to discuss with then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross his apparent interest in areas the Census Bureau officials perceived to be under the bureau’s independent jurisdiction, separate from its parent agency. The issues involved technical aspects of the population count including the privacy of census participants, the use of estimates to fill in missing population data, pressure to take shortcuts to produce population totals and political pressure for a last-minute push to identify and count undocumented immigrants.
In an email to CNN, Ross said he had no recognition of seeing the memo at any meeting in which the set of topics was discussed with him. The Census Bureau did not return CNN’s multiple requests for comment.
The Census Bureau’s population estimates are used for reapportionment, the process of reallocating House districts among the 50 states. But the Trump administration also wanted the bureau to separately tally the number of undocumented immigrants in each state. Then-President Donald Trump had ordered the tally in a July 2020 presidential memorandum, saying he wanted to subtract them from House reapportionment population estimates, CNN reported at the time.
Trump had already sought to use the census as a way to advance his immigration priorities as President. In June 2019, the Supreme Court rejected his administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The FOIA suit ended in October 2020, when the trial court granted the Brennan Center’s motion for a preliminary injunction, forcing the agencies, including the Commerce Department, to produce most of the requested documents to the Brennan Center on a rolling basis. All of the documents were made public last week, revealing for the first time new details about the struggle that senior census officials had faced when counteracting the Trump administration’s political influence at the agency.
Other undated records released as part of the same suit suggest that the Commerce Department planned to have Ross make personal calls to 10 Republican governors in order to lobby them to provide state records to “enhance the frame from which citizenship status is determined.” There was no evidence to suggest that similar calls were made to Democratic governors, according to the Brennan Center’s analysis of the FOIA documents it received.
The records also show that Census Bureau officials tasked with carrying out Trump’s July 2020 memo did not think it was achievable due to timing and technical restraints. In August 2020, emails addressed to then-Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, appointed by Trump, and political appointee Nathaniel Cogley said the bureau “has been consistently pessimistic” about the feasibility of determining undocumented populations and that “under the best, most legally defensible methodology, we are at great risk of not being able to carry out the policy outlined in the Presidential Memorandum by December 31, 2020.”
Another email suggests that political appointees joined the 2020 census count process late in the game when Dillingham introduced two of them to career officials at the bureau in August 2020 “to accomplish much work in a short period of time.” The email states that the two appointees, Cogley and Benjamin Overholt, were “interested in” efforts to produce citizenship data. An internal watchdog report in 2021 cited the two appointees for leading the administration’s efforts to produce a last-minute report on undocumented populations in the final days of the Trump administration.
Soon after the inspector general report revealed the push to produce a tally of noncitizens that career officials said could not be assembled, Dillingham, who denied the accusations of partisan interference at the bureau, resigned nearly a year before his term had been scheduled to end, dashing the possibility of being fired by the then-incoming Biden administration.
Dillingham and Cogley did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. Attempts to reach Overholt have been unsuccessful.
In addition to Ross’ apparent interest in Census Bureau affairs, other FOIA records show the Commerce Department under the Trump administration was in close contact with anti-immigration groups leading up to the 2020 census count.
Records show Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for reduced immigration, emailing directly with Ross in December 2019 about the group’s recent report on “long-term consequences of mass immigration and the apportionment of House seats. … ” The email opens with a reference to a call from Ross.
The FOIA records also reveal a connection between a Commerce Department official and a former Trump adviser known for his work in the administration peddling unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. An email chain shows a Commerce Department employee putting Cogley in contact with the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, a member of Trump’s failed voter fraud commission.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Perspective | Religious opposition to vaccines is rooted in politics, not tradition – The Washington Post

Published

 on


On Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for the nation’s largest employers but allowed the policy to stand for health-care workers at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. As a result, only 17 million — rather than 84 million — workers will be required to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The court questioned President Biden’s legal authority to impose a mandate, placing decisions in the hands of businesses, individuals and state governments rather than the federal government. But the court notably avoided adjudicating the claim that vaccine mandates violate religious liberty — an assertion passionately deployed by religious opponents of vaccines.

Religious exemptions to vaccinations, however, have generally lacked a coherent basis, and those seeking them for coronavirus vaccination face an uphill battle. Religious beliefs have not historically been used as a justification to avoid vaccination, and the recent emergence of religious-based exemptions — animated by partisan politics, fear and debunked scientific studies — is an anomaly. This is not surprising, given that getting vaccinated (to protect yourself and others, especially the most vulnerable) fits neatly into the moral logic of the world’s major religions. This is one reason Pope Francis has called getting vaccinated against the coronavirus an “act of love.”

Mandated public health measures date to the beginning of American history. During the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington required his troops to be inoculated against smallpox, a process that involved exposing people to the smallpox virus itself. The goal was to produce a mild infection to build immunity, but it carried a non-trivial risk of serious illness or death. Where people objected to inoculation, their concerns were rooted in the potential physical risks.

The first official vaccine mandate in the United States was an 1809 Massachusetts law that granted local health officials the authority to require vaccination against smallpox. Vaccination was safer than inoculation — it consisted of cowpox, a related but less dangerous virus that conferred cross-immunity for smallpox — but it was not without risk, either, and again this inspired some wariness toward it.

Early vaccine hesitancy was thus largely animated by fear of immunization itself. Opposition centered on the claim that the state was forcing individuals to undertake a treatment that was potentially dangerous or, at least, ineffective. And though there were early and small pockets of religious hostility to vaccines, the concept of a “religious exemption” effectively did not exist, and it wouldn’t for some time.

Religious support for vaccinations began to build in the 20th century. After Jonas Salk developed a polio vaccine in 1955, many religious believers viewed vaccinations as a gift from God. John Fea, a historian at Messiah University, recently marveled over how newspapers from the 1950s and 1960s chronicled religious leaders of all faiths and denominations, “including evangelical Christians,” talking about the polio vaccine “as a special gift” from God to fight disease.

And this made sense. Before the development of the vaccine, polio ravaged the United States, killing 3,000 children and paralyzing thousands more in 1952 alone. If you were a parent living in the 1950s who viewed the world through a religious prism, it was hard to interpret Salk’s medical innovation in any other way.

But by the 1990s, widespread vaccine hesitancy grounded in religious reasons emerged, growing out of popular anti-vaccine movements that were not religious in nature. Spearheaded by disgraced former physician Andrew Wakefield and endorsed by B-list celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy, these movements emphasized the supposed “impurity” of vaccines and the imagined (and sometimes fabricated) risks they posed to children.

The message resonated with some religious communities. Among these groups, vaccine ingredients were objects of particular scrutiny, and anything “unnatural” was seen as a threat to the sacredness of the human body: If your “body is a temple,” everything that enters it needs to be aboveboard.

In the face of this worrying trend, religious authorities of various faiths continue to encourage vaccination, but evidently to limited effect. Today, as we struggle through the worst pandemic in a hundred years, the reality we face is as grim as ever. The people who are vaccine-hesitant no longer constitute a small minority, and more and more are claiming religious exemptions.

As soon as coronavirus vaccine mandates were announced this past summer, affected people petitioned their employers for religious exemptions in droves. A recent survey suggests that as many as 3 in 10 unvaccinated Americans have sought a religious exemption from the coronavirus vaccines. White evangelicals have proved particularly resistant. A Pew Research Center survey from September indicated that up to 40 percent had declined the shot, the highest of any religious group surveyed.

White evangelicals also exemplify the growing politicization of religious identity. They are among the most steadfast supporters of the Republican Party, and around 80 percent voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. This makes it difficult to discern whether individuals are seeking a coronavirus vaccine exemption for a “sincerely held” religious or philosophical belief or oppose vaccination for political or ideological reasons. There is already emerging evidence that flu vaccine uptake has become a partisan issue, indicating that the blending of religious and political beliefs could create serious public health problems in the future.

The trend may be reversible if religious conservatives begin to dissociate their views on vaccines from their political identity. If they look to the moral reasoning and sources of authority within their traditions, they will hear a message on vaccines that differs considerably from those on offer by many Republican leaders. Building on a long history of religious support for vaccination, the message might go something like this: “For the love of God, don’t seek religious exemptions from vaccines.”

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Trailblazer for Women in Canadian Politics, Alexa McDonough, Passes Away at Age 77 – VOCM

Published

 on


A trailblazer for women in Canadian politics has passed away.

Alexa McDonough died this morning at the age of 77 after battling Alzheimer’s Disease.

McDonough made history in 1980, becoming the first female to lead a major political party when she became the leader of the Nova Scotia New Democrat Party, a position she would hold for 14 years.

She would go on to lead the Federal New Democrats in 1995, helping the NDP grow to 21 seats in the House of Commons during her tenure.

She was the recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.

McDonough will be remembered as a champion for gender equality and social development and programs, as well as a relentless optimist, earning her the nickname, “Iron Angel”.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a celebration of life will occur at a later date.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending