Friday, March 19, 2010

Prorogation Response - NDP

Thank you for your previous message regarding Prime Minister Harper's
decision to close down Parliament - the second time in a year. I share
the outrage and disappointment that many Canadians felt.

As promised, the New Democratic Party introduced a motion to limit a
Prime Minister's ability to run away from accountability in Parliament.
The text of our motion states: "That, in the opinion of the House, the
Prime Minister shall not advise the Governor General to prorogue any
session of any Parliament for longer than seven calendar days without a
specific resolution of this House of Commons to support such a

I am happy to report that our motion passed with support from members of
the other opposition parties. We are thankful for their support and view
this as a victory for democracy and transparency of government.

For your interest, you can view my speech outlining our plan to curb the
abuse of prorogation here:

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. Feel free to share my email with
anyone who may be interested. Also, I invite you to visit our website at to read the latest about the New Democrats. All the best.


Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada's New Democrats

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Re: Conservative Gay rights: Don't Ask, Don't tell

Thank you for your email regarding Minister Kenney`s decision to remove
any references to gay history and gay rights in Canada from the latest
edition of the federal Citizenship Guide.

New Democrats are concerned about this total disregard of the
contributions of the gay community to Canadian history. We have called
for Minister Kenney to apologize for censoring the document and to
reverse his decision. Our Party`s statement on this matter can be found
at this link:

The New Democratic Party will continue to speak out against inequality.
We think Canada should take a leadership role in standing for human
rights both in Canada and abroad and call on all Canadians who believe
in social justice to add their voices to this effort. Together we can
demonstrate that the relationship between Canadians is one that should
be built on respect, dignity and fairness.

New Democrats remain steadfast in calling for the extension of the basic
rights that many Canadians take for granted including equal rights for
gays and lesbians. NDP MP Bill Siksay, in his role as our Party`s
spokesperson on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual and Transgender
Issues, remains a strong advocate for these communities.

Again, I appreciate hearing your perspective. I invite you to visit our
website at to read the latest about the New Democrats.


Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada's New Democrats

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Conservative Gay rights: Don't Ask, Don't tell

Mr. Kenney,

I was appalled to learn that you had directed staff of Immigration Canada to remove references to same-sex marriage from the new study guide for new Canadians applying for citizenship. Not only was same-sex marriage a hard fought battle and the right thing to do, but these rights in Canada are seen by those oppressed by their own foreign governments as a candle in the dark for lesbians and gays the world over.

And we are not talking just the inability to marry. It is life or death for many communities.

In Iraq and Iran killings of homosexuals have been going on for decades, and are part of official law. You may have heard of the two gay boys - BOYS mind you, they were 16 - who, in 2006, were publicly hanged in Iran for nothing more than loving one another. It is horrific.

What is more distasteful and downright disingenuous is what appears to be the Conservative Party of Canada's determination to play up their anti-gay rhetoric to those ethnic communities in Canada who traditionally detest and discriminate against the LGBT individuals in their midst. How terrible it must be for a West Indian man or women, who comes from a society in which "Batty Man" is a signal to beat or mutilate a gay man, to come to Canada for refuge and to live a free and auspicious life, to arrive and find that the Government of Canada is stirring up the immigrant communities in Canada against the gays and lesbians. Steven Harper was quoted as follows:

“Same sex marriage is not a human right. … undermining the traditional definition of marriage is an assault on multiculturalism and the practices in those communities.” (Stephen Harper, Hansard, February 16, 2005)

What is your great leader saying Mr. Kenney? Surely you cannot be found at fault for following his example. Both this quote and your actions over the study guide are reprehensible. There are gays, lesbians, transgendered and bisexual people in those "multicultural communities" that are looking for the same rights as every other Canadian; to take such actions and make such statements pulls those rights away from non-white Canadians and further isolates the powerless LGBT people inside these communities.

Your policy and ideas are not only homophobic, but they are racist as well. That should be anathema to Canadian leadership, but it seems that hasn't stopped you.

For shame.


Michael Kruse

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Queer Refugee Being Expelled from Norway

I recently received the following request from the IRanian Queer Railroad, and have emailed the letter as suggested by the IRQR. The letter follows the statement:

Asghar Hedayati is 40 years-old Iranian gay man who has been seeking asylum in Norway since 2003. He is one of IRQR refugee cases who has not lucky so far, but he is still fighting for his rights.

"I was waiting for good news, everyday for the last seven years," he says. "I was optimistic that I can start a normal life here in Norway. Unfortunately, it did not happen for me, I lost my hope, energy, happiness, and future when I got negative answers from Norwegian authority.

"There is no light for my future now but I never ever give up," Asghar says in a letter to Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees - IRQR.

Asghar was in love with his boyfriend, Mr. J [for security reason we can not publish his name] and they were so happy but their happiness until Asghar's family forced him to get married.

It was really difficult time for Asghar and "J" as they could not 'come out' for their families and Asghar did not have any reason to convince his family that he did not want to get married. Finally, he was forced to get married.

"I did not love her, I did not like her, and she was not the right person at all," he says. "We lived together but we were together just at kitchen table. I could not stop thinking about [Mr. J] for a moment."

After all the difficulties, he left Iran for Denmark and sought refugee status on basis of his sexual orientation. Unfortunately, his asylum application was refused by the Danish government and he was scared to death because he did not want to be deported back to Iran.

So he fled Denmark, going to Norway where he applied for asylum. At that time, he did not imagine that one day he will be in the same situation again. He has now received a letter from the Norwegian government that he has to leave by January 25, 2010 and he does not know what will happen in next day.

He has been told by the Norwegian authorities he can go back to Iran and "nothing will happen for you if you do not come out".

"How it can be possible? Can they recommend it to Norwegians as well to just shut up and do not ask your basic rights?" Asghar said.

His life is now in danger and the Norwegian government has to grant his asylum because there a lot of evidence that Iranian gays in Iran are threatened because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no doubt his life will be in danger.

Asghar Hedayati is in an unjust situation and needs your urgent action. Please show your support by writing to the Norwegian government to urge them to grant refugee status to Asghar Hedayati. You may copy and paste the sample letters (below) into an email and send it to the provide emails below or you may write your own letter in support of Asghar Hedayati. Please CC IRQR: for tracking purposes. Thank you for your support.

The following is the letter as sent:

To: Minister of Justice and Police, Mr. Knut Storberget,

Immigration Appeals Board of Norway,


Subject: Norway threatens to deport Asghar Hedayati to Iran - Please stop his deportation

Dear Minister,

I am contacting you to request your assistance on a very urgent case involving Asghar Hedayati, a gay Iranian, who is currently in Norway. I received some information about him through the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, based in Toronto, Canada.

Asghar Hedayati is a citizen of Iran with case number DUF 2003 046 114 08. He escaped Iran in 2003 because of his well-known fear of persecution on the basis of his sexual orientation. He applied for asylum in August 2003, but the Norwegian Government unfortunately denied his asylum status for several times and he is now at risk for deportation.

His asylum judge said that he can live in Iran if does not 'come out', which is against fundamental human rights. I would like to express my deep concern about his situation, as he will experience imprisonment, torture, and even execution upon his forced return to Iran.

I am urging you to reconsider this case under the spirit of respect for human rights, and I am requesting that you grant Iranian queer refugees the full state of asylum in Norway because there a lot of evidence that Iranian queers in Iran are threatened due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.


Michael Kruse

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Re: MP's Please Show up for Work

I Received this reply from Jack Layton about prorogation:

Thank you for your previous message about Stephen Harper`s decision to
close down Parliament. New Democrats also share the outrage and
disappointment that you and many other Canadians have expressed about
this suspension of Parliament.

I have called on Prime Minister Harper to re-convene Parliament on
January 25. If he agrees, our Party will accept the re-instatement of
all pending legislation before prorogation - a common practice used in
past Parliaments. That said, we would continue to vote for or against
these Bills, based on whether they are good for Canada and Canadians.

I have also been clear that the work of the NDP caucus will not stop as
a result of Mr. Harper`s decision. We are going ahead with our January
18 winter strategy meeting and New Democrat MPs will be:

- participating in the January 23 protest rallies organized by citizens
across Canada
- returning to Ottawa on January 25 to hold our regular Caucus meeting
- working on parliamentary reform proposals including measures to ensure
that prorogation cannot be misused again
- holding the government's feet to the fire on the economy, climate
change, the war in Afghanistan, retirement security, and consumer

Parliament has vital work to do. Canadians can't prorogue their credit
card bills, their pension shortfalls, their unemployment, or their
worries about the future. We think MPs should be working on these issues
and representing the priorities of their constituents and communities in
the annual pre-budget work.

Again, I appreciate your desire to stand up for democracy. Feel free to
pass along my message to anyone who may be interested. All the best.


Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada's New Democrats

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Leaders of the Opposition: Please Show Up for Work on Jan 25th 2010

I sent this letter out to Mr. Layton and the other leaders of the opposition today, please help and follow suit!! This text is from Colin Le Fevre :

Mr. Layton

I am writing you because I want to see my elected Members of Parliament return to work on January 25th. Just because Stephen Harper has decided that he and his party do not want to do their jobs does not mean that the opposition parties need to follow suit. Although I understand that no official business can take place without the government attending there is much that can be done between the three parties who actually control a majority stake in the House of Commons.

I want to see the opposition stand up to Mr. Harper and show up for work. If you cannot use the House of Commons, find another location. Debate and work can be done in any location. Show Canada that there is not just work to be done, but that the parliamentary agenda can indeed be moved forward without Stephen Harper and his Conservative party.

I want the opposition parties to show Canada that Harper’s decision was undemocratic and for no other reason than partisan interests. You can do this through showing up for work as scheduled on January 25th, continuing to work on legislation, and continuing the debates that are necessary for the democratic process.

Stand up for democracy in Canada – show up for work and continue the legislative process… with or without the government.


Michael Kruse

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Re: Harper Soiling Canada's International Name

I received this reply from Jack Layton of the NDP:

Thank you for your previous email regarding the upcoming UN climate
change summit in Copenhagen.

With the world beginning to focus their attention on Canada's lack of
action on climate change, the Conservative government continues to make
it up as they go along. To make matters worse, Environment Minister
Prentice announced that Canadians and the rest of the world would have
to wait well into 2010 before he reveals domestic climate change
regulations. You can read more about this matter here.
. The bottom line is if we don't step up, we'll face trade sanctions
abroad and mounting costs at home.

For our part, New Democrats continue to push the federal government to
establish regulations for Canada's greenhouse gases and to take a
leadership role at the UN Copenhagen climate change summit. Our efforts
to advance Bill C-311, the New Democrat Climate Change Accountability
Act also received a major setback due to the combined forces of
Conservative and Liberal MPs who voted to delay the legislation.

Bill C-311, with tough, science-based reduction targets for our
greenhouse gases, offered Canada a real chance to prove to the world
that it is serious about tackling climate change. Its passage by
Parliament would have given Canada the credibility it sorely needs when
it goes to the UN Copenhagen Conference. Now, Canada will go to
Copenhagen with nothing to offer.

We will make every effort to return C-311 to Parliament. Also, New
Democrat Environment critic Linda Duncan and I look forward to having
the opportunity to advance our Party`s environmental policies at the
Copenhagen summit.

The decision by Liberal MPs to join with the Conservatives to deny
passage of this important legislation made one thing clear: more votes
for the Conservatives and Liberals will mean less tangible action to
protect our environment.

Others agree with our assessment:

"To date, Liberal environmental policies are indistinguishable from
those of the Conservative government that have pushed Canada to last
place among developed nations in protecting climate and the natural
environment." - Stephen Hazell, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada
on September 21, 2009.

"This Bill (C-311) has wide support from a broad spectrum of Canadians.
Politicians need to set aside their partisan differences and agree on
these science-based emissions reduction targets. Time is running out." -
Mark Fried, policy coordinator, Oxfam Canada on October 21, 2009.

"Passing this Bill (C-311) before Copenhagen in December is Parliament's
only hope of proving that we are prepared to work seriously through the
United Nations to find a solution to global warming. The Liberals voting
with the Conservatives may have made that impossible." - Dale Marshall,
David Suzuki Foundation on October 21, 2009.

Looking forward, you can continue to count on our team of New Democrat
MPs to push our plan to take on big polluters, protect our environment,
and invest in sustainable solutions. I invite you to check the following
link to learn more about our work:

Again, thank you for letting me know of your interest to fight climate
change. Feel free to share my response to anyone interested in
environmental protection. All the best."


Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada's New Democrats

I now await response from the conservatives and liberals...