Report Of The Political Action Committee To Atlantic Council, February 2012

Present:  Chris Di Liberatore, Corina Harding, Dawn Hardy, and Melissa Hyde
PSAC:  Jeannie Baldwin, REVP Atlantic and Lesley Thompson, Communications Officer
Regrets:  Dana Bailey

The mandate of the Political Action Committee is:
    •    Participate in the development of a three year action plan to be revisited annually
    •    Develop a budget for political action activities
    •    Participate in regional and national PSAC campaigns
    •    Provide leadership on political action in the region
    •    Work with social justice partners
We invited Kerry Pither, PSAC National Campaigns Officer and Louise LaPorte, PSAC National Political Action Officer to discuss political action and current campaigns.
Third Choice Campaign:  this is a facebook social media campaign with a goal to try to build on our current network of support.  All PSAC members should “share” the page with our facebook contacts, watch the videos and post your comments.  The Third Choice campaign stars a squirrel who, like Harper, is stating that in order to eliminate the deficit; we need to eliminate public services.  Our campaign is letting Canadians know that there is a third choice.  The campaign has launched four videos:  
1st video – features Service Canada as they are facing cuts to staff and resources.
2nd video – features Meat Inspection to ensure the food we buy is safe to eat.
3rd video – features the closure of Maritime Rescue Sub-centres which will impact on Search and Rescue.
4th video – this is the most recent video featuring the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada and the cuts they are undergoing under the Harper government.
There will be a 5th video launched to talk about the Federal Budget.  

In addition to the videos, there is swag to promote the campaign.  Prior to the release of the federal budget, there will be a pre-budget activity in Ottawa on Parliament Hill to promote the third choice campaign.  The activity will showcase all the people that are affected by Harper’s plan to attack public services such as seniors, youth, veterans, and many others.  Corina shared a youtube video that features a song called “He walked this far” which is a song about Burton Winters who froze to death in Newfoundland after being reported missing.  He was found 3 days after he went missing and demonstrates the need for Search and Rescue.  
Lobbying and Budget Day:
We need to go beyond a traditional lobby and actually have people or groups that are impacted by Harper’s cuts speak up and support public service jobs.  We need get support from people we don’t consider normal allies such as people who use the services, the Mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, and business people because we do not have to choose between Public services and the economy.  
We are also looking to the regions to do an activity.  On budget day, we will have people on Parliament Hill such as John Gordon to speak to the media.  We want budget watches all across the region and partner up with local groups such as the CLC and the Federation of Labour where we can.  Non-traditional allies also need to be part of the budget watch to help speak on the budget and how the cuts impact their lives.  We recommend live “tweeting” to post what the impacts will be to our region.  Speaking notes will be provided to help the PSAC members when speaking to the media or our membership.  It has been noted that we are having difficulty to meet with the conservatives.  We need to change our strategy.  Normally, we when trying to meet with an elusive MP, we would show up at the activity.  It is highly recommended that we focus on getting the support of the organizations that are inviting the conservatives to speak.  Check out the MP’s website to see where they will be and try to connect with the organization.   We will be changing our PSAC billboard in Gander NL – Conservative MP Peter Penashue will again be showcased with the slogan “Working for Harper? Or for Newfoundland and Labrador?” and instruct the public to call his office.  We should also be attending any public forms that are looking for input from Canadians such as those we know that are planned around saving Medicare.
An upcoming campaign is being organized by the NCR Women’s Committee which is a “pink slip” campaign on March 8, 2012 which is International Women’s Day.
Issues and priorities for the PAC for the next several months:  
    •    Third choice campaign, advocating that people view the videos and we will be looking at having materials available as prizes at the various “budget watch” sessions that taking place in each of the provinces.  
    •    Budget watch – promoting and participation, ensuring we invite the various stakeholders.
    •    March 1, 2012 “Standing Up for our Public Services”– we need to have council members as speakers and to participating in the activities planned for the work sites and doing media interviews.   Speakers’ notes will be provided and you are encouraged to make a link between the notes and what is happening in our region and well as make a link to the impacts to the private sector as once public sector jobs are eliminated.  
    •    Post-budget activities – depending on the outcome of the budget, we will be planning activities and we need council to participate in these activities.  Our committee will have a conference call to visit the impact and will go from there.
2012 Budget Proposal was reviewed by the committee and will be presented at the council meeting.
Social justice – we received the reports from the two members that attended the 2011 “Breaking the silence” tour.  We will have one of the participants attend the next council meeting and give a report.   It is also time to send out an interest call for the 2012 tour and our committee will be responsible again to review the submissions and select member(s) to participate.
Respectfully Submitted,
Dawn Hardy, Chairperson                    Chris Di Liberatore, Co-Chairperson