Harper Watch, November 1 to November 20, 2014


(Our most sincere apologies for the length and lateness of this post. As you no doubt feel all too keenly yourselves, this is not the most cheering task for the Canadian soul and if left undone for too long, grows to enormous proportions, what with Harper’s never-ending capacity for outrage and ineptitude. As always, read it and weep, but look forward to 2015 when we can hopefully close this page forever.)

(Also, don’t forget to check out http://www.hchips.ca)

COMMENTARY

iPolitics (Michael Harris) – The final front: Veterans versus Harper in 2015 John Ralston Saul is probably right — our Maple Leaf Mussolini would have impressed old Benito himself, shiny boots and all. Canada’s Master Confuser has hit all the hot buttons in recent weeks and many Canadians responded exactly as he had hoped. They stampeded like a herd of gazelles pursued by starving lions. Stephen Harper emerged from the storage closet following the attack on Parliament Hill to declare Canadians would not be intimidated. He linked two disturbed killers to terrorism long before the shaky ‘proof’ was produced.

Toronto Star – How Canada’s privacy deficit undermines our economy
As the owner of a small business with international clients, I know that trust lies at the heart of my working relationships. Clients need to know that I can keep their business secrets confidential. International clients have historically had a high level of confidence doing business in Canada, but, sadly, our business climate is becoming increasingly toxic for privacy. It will be difficult for overseas clients to maintain that confidence if our government doesn’t change its tune.
I was fascinated by Edward Snowden’s revelations, and they have certainly sparked a lively debate. What I would like to add to that debate is some reflection on the impact our government’s “privacy deficit” has on Canadian businesses, particularly in a growing tech sector that employs over half-a-million Canadians.

Toronto Star – Tim Harper: Federal books are balanced, but the cuts are hitting home
As Finance Minister Joe Oliver rises Wednesday to deliver a fiscal update to a blue-chip business audience that trumpets balanced books and a surplus on the way, it might be a good time to remember how we got here.
It’s also a good time to remember how quickly a surplus can be vacuumed up.
It was after the deep cuts unveiled in his 2012 budget that the former finance minister, the late Jim Flaherty, told Canadians that those cuts were to “back office operations” of government that would not be noticed by Canadians.
It was all about fat, not delivery of services, he told us. A quest to test that theory by the former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, ended up in court, unresolved.
But there is at least anecdotal information — and lots of it — that some of those back office cuts are banging on the front door in 2014.

Toronto Star – Editorial: Tony Clement’s Orwellian ‘open government’ plan
Seeking to combat his government’s reputation for secrecy, suppression of information and closed-door decision-making, Treasury Board President Tony Clement unveiled an ambitious “action plan on open government” last week. It was so totally disconnected from reality that the initial reaction in the nation’s capital was incredulity. Bitter criticism followed.

G&M (Gerald Caplan) – As CRA audits charities, there’s a scandal within a scandal
(First, they came for the Birdwatchers…) There are lots of conservative groups in Canada that have been granted charitable status, the Fraser Institute being an obvious example. That means they’re required to be non-partisan and can use only 10 per cent of their resources for political activities. Besides broad ideology, what these groups have in common is that none of them, it appears, is being audited by the Canadian Revenue Agency. Yet many have unquestionably participated in “political activities” as spelled out by the CRA. You can read all about them, and their warm relationships with the Harper government, in Prof. Donald Gutstein’s new book, Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada.

FAILED HARPER POLICY

ipolitics – Secret witnesses? Curtailed cross-exams? The poison pill in the ‘victims’ rights bill’
(This is absolutely terrifying)
A plain reading of this section should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who believes in the right to a fair trial.
Think about it: A private hearing that could result in anonymous witnesses and secret evidence. So much for the ability of an accused to respond to serious allegations.
The importance of an accused being able to identify and confront their accuser in a criminal proceeding cannot be understated. Without it, it’s almost impossible to defend against allegations. Details about the accuser can be vitally important to the defence. Did the accuser have a motive to lie? Does the accuser’s identity suggest an alibi?
A trial is the search for the truth. Secret evidence, non-disclosure of information, anonymous witnesses — these things can can only serve to obscure reality. Yet this is what the Victims’ Bill of Rights promises.

National Post – Conservatives have wiped 37,000 off the public-service payroll, cutting jobs faster than expected
Canada’s Conservative government has wiped nearly 37,000 people off the federal payroll and reduced key services for Canada’s veterans and the unemployed and budgets for food safety in the “rush” to pay for its promised tax cuts, according to a new report.
The report, by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, concludes that the Conservatives are able to realize their promised surplus and tax breaks at the expense of front-line services, corroded by steady spending cuts that will continue for another two years — even after the books have been balanced.
“Those cuts to services aren’t being reversed. There are no plans to bring back any of those services,” said David Macdonald, senior economist at the CCPA.

 Canadian Wheat Board Alliance – Canadian Wheat Now Cheapest in the World
This just in from the Reuters news agency out of Hamburg, Germany: Canadian wheat is now the cheapest in the world. How times change! With the single-desk Canadian Wheat Board farmers sold directly to overseas markets and got premium prices because of reliability of supply, honesty, and guaranteeing the highest quality grain in the world. Thanks to Ottawa that is all gone now and Canadian sourced wheat is being sold into the Middle East for less than even wheat from nearby Russia. This comes as no surprise to western farmers, the majority of who supported keeping the farmer-controlled single-desk. In a related story, three weeks ago an Alberta farmer with durum wheat to sell went to his local foreign-owned elevator and was offered a mere seven dollars and change per bushel. Quite a letdown from prices that were usually more than double that with the farmer-run Wheat Board. When he said he would wait, the elevator operator said they also had US pricing for durum which would give him twelve dollars a bushel. Not near the Wheat Board pool prices for durum but better. Of course we know that for the first time in memory durum wheat prices are now higher in the US than in Canada and have been since Minister Ritz announced he was killing the Wheat Board.

Winnipeg Free Press - Ottawa skipped internal study on $550M job credit, relied on interest group
(The Kijiji Effect)
The Harper government passed up conducting its own internal analysis on the job-creation potential of its $550-million small-business job credit, relying instead on numbers produced by an interest group, the finance minister revealed Wednesday.
Joe Oliver told the parliamentary finance committee that Ottawa’s decision to introduce the measure was based on the research of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“The department does not analyze every measure that we introduce,” Oliver told the hearing as he responded to a question.
“If we don’t do it, we look to those who have expertise and we did in this case to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.”

Huffington Post – Tories Make Big Cuts To Transport Safety While Touting Safety
OTTAWA – The Harper government has made dramatic cuts in spending on aviation, marine and rail transport safety over the past five years, even as it was touting new safety measures in the transportation sector.
The latest figures from the federal government’s public accounts show actual spending by Transport Canada on marine safety has plunged 27 per cent since 2009-10, while aviation and rail safety spending are both down 20 per cent or more.

Huffington Post – Tory MP Erin O’Toole Says New Tax Breaks Good For Families Like His
OTTAWA — Conservative MP Erin O’Toole wants Canadians to how just how excited he is about the Harper government’s new tax breaks.
The Ontario MP, who as a parliamentary secretary earns $180,000 a year, wrote a letter Thursday to Tory supporters praising the party’s new tax cuts.
He and his wife Rebecca, and their two children, eight-year-old Mollie and three-year-old Jack, stand to gain tax breaks worth approximately $3,440 a year.

Huffington Post – Canadian Federal Scientists, Professionals Union Launches Anti-Harper Campaign
OTTAWA – The union representing scientists and other professionals in the federal public service is abandoning its tradition of neutrality in elections to actively campaign against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) says delegates to its annual general meeting have agreed the union should be more politically active heading into next year’s federal election.
In particular, delegates have agreed that the union should energetically expose the damage they believe the Harper government has done to federal public services.

HARPER’S STELLAR FRIENDS

The Star – Harper announces third trip to China, without mentioning human rights 
OTTAWA—It was business as usual Friday at the prime minister’s Langevin Block office, where Stephen Harper smiled and chatted with the Chinese ambassador to Canada before confirming plans for his third official visit to China next week.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build on our economic relationship and also our friendship,” Harper told Luo Zhaohui.
However, less than a block from the red brick building, Wang Bingwu of Toronto stood outside, holding a simple white placard that read, in all-caps lettering: “PM Mr. Harper, please help to free my brother.”

Dogwood Initiative – Energy executive blasts Kinder Morgan review as “fraudulent,” quits
(The National Energy Board is one of Harper’s closest and dearest “friends”)
Marc Eliesen has withdrawn as an intervenor in the federal government’s review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker expansion project, detailing his reasons for quitting in a scathing 1,500 word letter to the National Energy Board.
Eliesen is the former CEO of B.C. Hydro and the former Chair of Manitoba Hydro. A deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments, Eliesen has forty years’ executive experience in the energy sector, including as a board member at Suncor.


The Star – Ex-citizenship judge jailed for illegally revealing citizenship exams
A retired citizenship judge has become the first in Canada to be imprisoned for breach of trust after illegally providing copies of citizenship exams. Family members wept as Philip Gaynor, 71, was led away in handcuffs Wednesday following Ontario Court Justice Harvey Brownstone’s sentence of three years. He said Gaynor’s “reprehensible” and “appalling” actions went “straight to the heart of the integrity of Canada’s immigration system” and potentially tarnished new Canadians’ perception of the judiciary.  “In my 20 years on the bench, I have never had the misfortune to deal with something like this,” he said. A longtime resident of Durham Region, Gaynor was appointed a citizenship judge in 2006 by the Conservative government and reappointed to another three-year term in 2009.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS WORKING FOR HARPER
 
Huff Post – Tory Family Tax Cuts: Public Pays For Ads For Measures Not Yet Approved
Radio ads have already hit the air promoting the recently announced income-splitting plan for families with children and changes to the Universal Child Care Benefit. The Harper government is spending more public funds advertising measures that have not yet been legislated by Parliament.  The radio spots end with a brief caveat: the tax changes are “subject to parliamentary approval.”  …. Last year, Advertising Standards Canada ruled government ads promoting a Conservative employment grant program overseen by Kenney were “misleading” because they pushed a plan that was not yet negotiated with the provinces or approved by Parliament. Those ads also included the “subject to parliamentary approval” disclaimer.ly announced income-splitting plan for families with children and changes to the Universal Child Care Benefit. The radio spots end with a brief caveat: the tax changes are “subject to parliamentary approval.”

Globe and Mail – And now, a completely non-partisan word from your Harper government
Sarcasm can be a potent rhetorical tool, and on April 19, 2004, then-Official Opposition Leader Stephen Harper rose in the House of Commons to wield it.
Condemning a Liberal government ad campaign that was reportedly going to cost $120-million as partisan pork, he acerbically noted, “This advertising, this information just happens to be the same as the government’s own election platform.”
Mr. Harper’s criticism was direct, principled – an election would be called a few weeks later – and spot-on. It was also quickly forgotten once he rose to power 20 months later.

CROOKS

Stephen Lautens’ Parking Space – Dean Del Mastro & Harper’s Hobson’s Choice
But today Dean changed his tune from defiant and fight to the last breath, to resign immediately with what passes for political dignity. In his 15 minute resignation speech in the House of Commons today, Del Mastro was still defiant, defensive, self-congratulatory and expressed his undying love for the Conservative Party. The Conservatives rewarded him with two things. First a standing ovation from the Government benches, which is odd for someone just convicted of willfully committing electoral fraud. Second, a proposed amendment yesterday from Conservative MP Tom Lukiwksi, parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, amending the MPs’ pension forfeiture rule that would limit the new rule to a specific list of criminal offences, coincidentally excluding a conviction under the Canada Elections Act.

Metro – Conservative election scandals, at a glance
OTTAWA – Here is a look at some of the election-related scandals that have swirled around the Conservative party in recent years.

The Toronto Star – Tories lost July court ruling on CSIS spying overseas
OTTAWA—The Conservative government revealed that it lost an important Federal Court of Appeal ruling that found CSIS hid the extent of its overseas spying activities from a judge.
A redacted version of the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, dated July 7, 2014, was posted on the court’s website Tuesday with no notice to the media — a highly unusual move.
It upheld an earlier Federal Court ruling by Justice Richard Mosley that rebuked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the federal government for hiding the fact that CSIS had turned to CSE, Canada’s electronic spy agency, and its allied partners in the “Five Eyes” international spying network to carry out intrusive surveillance abroad on two Canadians.

MORE ABUSE FOR THE VULNERABLE

CTV News – Over $1.1 billion in unspent funds at Veterans Affairs since 2006: documents
(Again, this is how the Cons operate – big allocations, big announcements, no action, no spending, no results)
OTTAWA — Veterans Affairs Canada has returned $1.13 billion to the federal treasury in unspent funds since the Conservatives came to power in 2006 — cash that critics say should have gone towards improved benefits and services.
The figure, which surfaced this week in the House of Commons, has led to renewed criticism of the Harper government, which is already smarting over its frayed relations with disgruntled former soldiers.

CTV News – Veterans’ coalition announces boycott of government photo-ops
A newly formed coalition of veterans’ groups says it will boycott all government photo-ops and participation in news releases until Ottawa improves its treatment of veterans.
Six groups, including Veterans of Canada and Canadians for Accountability, have formed the Canada Coalition for Veterans, which is seeking “much-needed improvements in how veterans, injured serving members and their families are treated and supported.”

Huffington Post – Foreign Affairs Lets $125M In Aid To Poor Countries Lapse
OTTAWA – Almost 14 per cent of the money that Canada’s newly amalgamated Foreign Affairs Department planned to spend alleviating poverty in poor countries in the last year has been returned, unspent, to the Finance Department.
Foreign Affairs managed to spend just shy of $792 million on aid to low-income countries in 2013-14, but had $917 million available, leaving more than $125 million in lapsed funding.

The Toronto Star – Ottawa ignores rule of law in refugee health cuts case
The Harper government’s recent decision to continue denying health care benefits to certain groups of refugees is deeply problematic not only because it means vulnerable people in this country will continue to suffer, and possibly die.
All Canadians — regardless of their views on refugee health care — should also be deeply alarmed by the fact that this week our government chose to blatantly ignore an explicit court order. This type of action cuts directly against the rule of law, one of the most fundamental principles in any democracy. Canadians need to know that this has happened. And they need to care

Ottawa Citizen – Minister knew Canada wouldn’t meet Syrian refugee commitment
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander was secretly warned in the spring that Canada would not fulfil its promise to the United Nations to accept 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of the year because of the ill-advised way in which the commitment was made.
Alexander also knew that only a handful of Syrian refugees had been approved to come to Canada when he dodged news media questions on the subject earlier this year, even hanging up in the middle of a national radio interview on the subject.

Global News – Fears of evictions across Canada as feds end co-op housing subsidy
TORONTO – Krystyl Randall, legally blind and out of work for the last two years, lives in a co-op housing unit in Ottawa with her son. But the federal government subsidy she relies on to pay her rent is coming to an end.
“If I had to pay everything before I could even get food on the table, that’s a big worry,” said Randall.

Vancouver Observer – Critic slams Canada’s “shameful” citizenship policy
Citizenship advocate Don Chapman criticized Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration as “shameful” yesterday for its rejections of citizenship applications from legitimate Canadians despite repeatedly promising to correct the law.
“It’s shameful,” Chapman said. “We did everything Citizenship and Immigration asked of us, paid their ($400) fees, and now they talk about deporting Donovan McGlaughlin.”

The Toronto Star – Tories rejected recommendation on workplace harassment nine months ago
OTTAWA—Sexual harassment on Parliament Hill — whether among politicians, staffers or media — has long been the subject of whispers or occasional rumours, but never has anyone come out into the marbled halls with direct allegations.
Yet it was partly the subject of parliamentary study by a Commons committee just nine months ago.
As part of a broader report, the committee issued a call on Status of Women Canada — a federal agency — to work with Parliament to raise “awareness of the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace.”
However, the Conservative government — through the two ministers responsible — rejected that specific recommendation.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Harper Watch Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harper Watch October 22 to October 31, 2014


COMMENTARY

National Newswatch (Francis Russell) - Canadians Need to Take Their Country Back Before It’s Gone

A man and his economic dogma is quietly – and steadily – transforming Canada profoundly, perhaps beyond repair as well as recognition.
From glorifying past wars to ongoing assaults on parliament, the federal public service, science and the environment and from a thinly veiled war on the poor to endless gifting to the rich and the ultra-rich, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tenure in office has largely been a route map to a nation where only the rich and the Right have any genuine claim to full human rights and citizenship.

Globe and Mail (Lawrence Martin) – For Harper, a bad day at the bookstore

It’s enough to have Stephen Harper’s boys out padlocking bookstores.
Two of the Prime Minister’s biggest tormentors have released books on the very same day. There is Justin Trudeau’s autobiography, Common Ground. On top of it comes a mammoth 534-page critique of his abuse of power called Party of One, from Michael Harris, one of Mr. Harper’s harshest journalistic critics.

Halifax Chronicle – Former PBO Kevin Page: ‘Ottawa is Putinesque’

Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page slammed Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a speech in Halifax on Thursday, comparing him to Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
Page, asked to speak about accountability in Ottawa, said he thinks Canada has changed so much in recent years, it needs a long, drawn-out American-style election to air all the important questions.
“I think what we’ve got in Ottawa right now is Putinesque. It’s control from the top down,” Page said at an annual fundraiser for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

iPolitics (Linda McQuaig) - For Stephen Harper, fear works

I’ve always been confused by the assertion that we won’t be “intimidated” by terrorism. Has anyone ever suggested that we should be — that because a man ran into the Parliament buildings brandishing a rifle, we should abandon parliamentary democracy? Obviously not.
But Harper wants us to be sufficiently intimidated so that we will allow the fight against ‘terrorism’ to take centre stage and suck up all our energy — unlike, say, threats that are just as likely or far more likely to kill us, like Ebola or climate change. Those threats don’t much interest Harper. He’s made only made a small contribution to fighting the Ebola epidemic and he’s actively obstructed attempts to organize global action against climate change.
Not so with terrorism, which dominated the political agenda all this week with lots of hype about Canada and our institutions being under attack — even as it got harder to explain the difference between the ‘terrorist’ murders of two soldiers and the ‘non-terrorist’ murders of three RCMP officers in Moncton. The main difference appeared to be that the shooter in Moncton was not a follower of Islam.

HERE COMES THE OMNIBUS

canada.com – Omnibus budget bill restricts refugee access to social assistance

OTTAWA – Buried in the Harper government’s latest massive, omnibus budget bill is legislation that could restrict the ability of refugee claimants to access social assistance.
The move follows the government’s decision to limit refugee claimants’ access to universal, public health care.
That measure was struck down by Federal Court Judge Anne Mactavish, who said it constitutes “cruel and unusual” treatment, puts lives at risk and “outrages Canadian standards of decency.”
The government is currently appealing that ruling.

 

ELECTION “GOODIES”

The Star – Tory MP Erin O’Toole Says New Tax Breaks Good For Families Like His

OTTAWA — Conservative MP Erin O’Toole wants Canadians to how just how excited he is about the Harper government’s new tax breaks.
The Ontario MP, who as a parliamentary secretary earns $180,000 a year, wrote a letter Thursday to Tory supporters praising the party’s new tax cuts.
He and his wife Rebecca, and their two children, eight-year-old Mollie and three-year-old Jack, stand to gain tax breaks worth approximately $3,440 a year.

 

ECONOMY AND JOBS

Ottawa Citizen – Billions in federal cash go unspent as Tories mull tax cuts

(This is the Conservative modus operandi: make grandiose announcements of dollars ‘allocated’ to projects, such as veterans’ care, then just don’t spend the money and declare a budget surplus. They get the kudos for programs and for fiscal prudence without actually accomplishing anything.)

The federal government held on to more than $7 billion in approved spending last fiscal year at the same time as some departments and agencies struggled with a lack of funds – bringing total “lapsed” spending to more than $18 billion over the last two years.
The Conservative government continues to sit on billions of dollars in planned spending as it looks to balance the budget in 2015 and contemplates a series of tax breaks for Canadians, including expected income-splitting for families and a possible enhancement of the universal child-care benefit.

Huffington Post – TD LMI Shows Canada’s Job Situation Worse Than Thought Over Past 2 Years

So what does the inaugural edition of the TD LMI show? Nothing good.
“The Canadian labour market is currently experiencing more weakness than is implied by … the headline unemployment rate alone, and has been for nearly two years,” TD senior economist Randall Bartlett writes.

MUST READ G&M (Gerry Caplan)  - Canada not the big winner in European trade deal

“By what conceivable rationale should a foreign corporation be able to sue an elected government for implementing its campaign promises? How does one reconcile this with any possible definition of democracy?…it baffles me why these fantastically profitable behemoths should get any protection of any kind from any form of competition. Isn’t that the very spirit of capitalism – to build the better mousetrap? To succeed by providing the most sought-after products? But those who claim to worship the free market and free competition are remarkably flexible in their religion when it comes to self-interest. I guess it’s free enterprise if necessary but not necessarily free enterprise.”

 

 ‘SECURITY’ GONE TOO FAR

Globe and Mail – Tories to table expanded security bill

With the Conservative government set as early as today to table expanded powers for Canada’s spies, the watchdog overseeing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has identified flaws in how the agency operates with tools already at its disposal.
A report tabled Friday by the Security Intelligence Review Committee suggests CSIS is operating without sufficient controls or scrutiny by its overseers.

 

Ottawa Citizen – Government exploits attacks on military to push security agenda, Greenwald says

The federal government is “shamelessly” exploiting last week’s extremist attacks to dismantle liberties and core principles of justice, says journalist Glenn Greenwald.
The Pulitzer-Prize winning U.S. reporter warned that the Conservative government, aided by docile news media, is purposely fuelling alarmist speculation about the domestic threat of Islamic terrorism to ram through legislation giving the state extraordinary new powers over citizens.

 

iPolitics - Here come the thought police

Today we learned that the Conservatives are considering new legislation that would make it an offence to condone terrorist acts online.  Let’s repeat that: Your words, your thoughts and your beliefs could be made criminal.
Lawyers like to say that bad facts make bad laws — and this is what Harper appears to be counting on. It seems the Conservatives mean to, once again, seize upon a tragic event to fast-track a potentially unconstitutional law. Canadians are asked to blindly stand by and be stripped of their civil liberties in the interests of security. And they couldn’t even wait a day.

 

Huffington Post – Tories Reject Call For All-Party National Security Oversight Committee

The Conservative government gave a clear indication Friday it has no plans to support the creation of a parliamentary national security oversight committee although it plans to introduce new sweeping anti-terrorism measures.

 

ENVIRONMENT 

Huffington Post - Harper Named World’s ‘Worst Climate Villain’ After Damning Report

Canada does well at many things.  Earlier this year, Canadian cities were listed among the world’s top places to live. The country ranks high with the best when it comes to wealth and it’s been praised for emerging from the financial crisis in decent shape.
But there’s one category in which Canada ranks dead last among industrialized nations: its efforts to combat climate change.  “The Climate Change Performance Index,” published annually by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe, lists Canada among the world’s worst at no. 58.

 

 NASTINESS

Huffington Post – Harper’s Silence On Anti-Muslim Backlash Disheartens Muslim Groups

OTTAWA – Muslim groups are disappointed that Stephen Harper hasn’t spoken out against a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes since two separate attacks by jihadist sympathizers left two Canadian soldiers dead last week.
The prime minister has not publicly uttered one word of support for Canadian Muslims following the incidents, which Harper and the RCMP have labelled acts of terrorism.

 

iPolitics (Michael Harris) -Harper’s gutter politics is for the bird(watchers)

Thank God Stephen Harper has got those agitating birdwatchers under control!    Next to librarians working on Parliament Hill, they could be most subversive group in the land, battle-ready what with their knowledge of the outdoors and all that binocular experience.

This week, Dean Beeby of the CBC reported that the Harper government’s revenue collectors have put a small group of nature lovers on notice that the CRA is watching them.  The revenuers have apparently found evidence of partisan “political activity” on the bird-watchers’ website. If it continues, the CRA warns, these nature agitators could be facing further action, including a “future audit.”

 

Huffington Post – Canadian Visa Ban Issued To Residents Of Ebola-Stricken Countries

TORONTO – Canada is following in Australia’s footsteps and has closed its doors, effectively immediately, to people from the West African countries battling Ebola.
In a move that puts Canada at odds with the World Health Organization, the federal government said Friday it is suspending the issuance of visas for residents and nationals of countries with “widespread and persistent-intense transmission” of Ebola virus disease. As well, work on permanent residence applications for people from the affected countries is also being suspended.

 

Huff Post – New Tory Commercial On Trudeau Takes Quotes Out Of Context (VIDEO)

The Conservative Party’s latest attack on Justin Trudeau is missing some pretty important information.
The new commercial released Monday targets the Liberal vote against the mission to bomb ISIS in Iraq and the Liberal leader’s now infamous dick joke about “trying to whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are.” However, several of the quotes used in the attack are taken out of context….
The final quote in the ad, lifted from a Lawrence Martin column in The Globe and Mail, reads that “There is concern in many quarters that the young leader is not ready for the big stage.” However, the ad quickly transitions to just the words “not ready for the big stage” with “Globe and Mail written beneath it. As the Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor has pointed out, this makes it seem as if the quote represents the official position of the newspaper rather than of one columnist.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Harper Watch Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Harper Watch – October 11 to 21, 2014


COMMENTARY 

iPolitics (Michael Harris) – The devil, the details and Stephen Harper 

The starter’s pistol for Election 2015 has sounded. The three pillars of Stephen Harper’s past successes at the polls are now in place: fables, fear and the smear. Can they do the trick again?

The Conservative bias in the mainstream media (there hasn’t been a Liberal bias for years) has already led to rhapsodizing over Harper’s de facto balanced budget and looming tax cuts. Never mind the fact that this is a made-in-the-cutting room surplus. Never mind the fact that Harper wants your vote in return for shrinking your world. It is the PM’s choice of a ballot question in neon — buttressed by the usual bribes paid with other people’s money.

Canada.com (Stephen Maher) Stephen Harper and the merchant of venom

Michael Harris writes about the Harper-Finkelstein link in his new book, Party of One, which comes out this week.

Harris, whose investigative work over the decades has led to three commissions of inquiry, has written a careful, calm, 544-page examination of the dark side of the Harper government, which belongs on book shelves next to the friendlier assessment provided by Paul Wells in The Longer I’m Prime Minister.

The Star - Author Michael Harris’s new book is a takedown of Stephen Harper

By the time author Michael Harris nears the end of his magisterial review of the strife and times of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it is as if he felt the need of a shower.

Almost 500 pages of Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeoverhave by then been devoted to chronicling the Harper government’s bullying, abuse, duplicity, betrayal, affinity for crooks, public shaming of individuals, diminishment of democratic institutions.

Globe and Mail (Gerald Caplan) - Harper’s media foes aren’t liberal – they’re moderate conservatives

On Sept. 3, HuffPost reported that they had gotten hold of a Conservative Party fundraising email that slammed the Liberal Party for hiring as a senior adviser a writer for CTV News. Here’s what the leaked email said:

“When we told you the Ottawa media elites were working against us, reporters laughed at us. … Then the Liberals hired a CTV journalist to work as a high-level spin doctor. This confirms our suspicions – and our need for your support. Can I count on you to chip in $5 today?”

If reporters laughed before, now they broke up. Competitions broke out to see who could name more media elites who were attached to the Harper government, though many stopped after senators Duffy and Wallin and Harper cabinet minister Peter Kent.

National Post (Stephen Maher) – The ‘boys in short pants’ — Government run by PMO’s youthful zealots, ex-Tory MP says

The idea of ministerial responsibility, which is supposed to be at the heart of our system, is now as abstract as kabuki theatre, a fiction for empty, ritualized exchanges in the House of Commons.

“The socialization and indoctrination effects of the PMO subculture cannot be overstated,” Rathgeber writes. “I have witnessed young, seemingly normal and well-adjusted college graduates enter the PMO and, within six months, morph into arrogant, self-absorbed zealots, with an inflated sense of importance and ability.”

Those boys in short pants want the power to expropriate the work of journalists, and they are running the country, so they will have it.

THE THIEVES GET BOLDER

The Tyee – Lawyer Offers to Help Media Fight Harper Gov’t Copyright Changes

A prominent law professor says he considers a Conservative plan to allow political parties to expropriate news footage for advertising to be such an abuse of power, he’s willing to offer his services to media pro bono to fight any attempts to pass such legislation.

Earlier this month, documents leaked to the media showed the Conservative party is considering adding legislation to an omnibus bill that would enable political parties — and only political parties — to use news footage in partisan ads without permission or financial compensation to the producers.

JOBS, ECONOMY

Globe and Mail – Conservatives’ EI policy will cost economy 9,000 jobs, watchdog says

The Parliamentary Budget Officer is challenging the Conservative government’s approach to Employment Insurance, issuing a new report that finds the economy will lose more than 9,000 jobs over two years because the government is collecting billions more in EI premiums than necessary.

The PBO also takes issue with a new Small Business Job Credit announced last month that will provide an average payment of $350 to qualifying small businesses in order to help offset the costs of premiums. The PBO said the $550-million credit will create only 800 jobs over two years, far less than the government has claimed.

OUR MILITARY – MORE DEMANDS, FEWER SERVICES

CBC News – Military’s mental health system ‘abandoned’ CFB Shilo soldier

Mental health care at Canadian Forces Base Shilo in Manitoba has been “a nightmare for me and other patients,” a soldier says. Among other things, the base has been without a psychiatrist for three months.

In those three months, the soldier — who CBC News is calling “Smith” to protect his identity — has attempted suicide.

“I didn’t really know what to do or where to go, other than that I felt just that maybe the world would be a better place without me. Maybe my family would be better off without me. Maybe the military would be better off without me,” he said.

ADVERTISING STEVE

Globe and Mail – Government launches $4-million ad campaign in advance of 150th birthday

NDP critic Mathieu Ravignat said the size of the Canada 150 ad budget – this far in advance of the 2017 anniversary – raises suspicions the campaign is more pre-election positioning by a Conservative government that he says has a history of using public ad funds for partisan purposes.

“Given the past borderline partisan nature of their ads, we have to be careful about the messaging in these ads, as well as the costs,” said Ravignat, noting there’s still three years of Canada 150 advertising to come.

EVASIVE CHRIS ALEXANDER

CBC Radio – Reporter’s five-month (and counting) struggle to get data from Immigration Minister Chris Alexander

“Basically, there are three questions,” Dempsey tells As It Happens host Carol Off. “I think they’re pretty simple: How many Filipinos have applied to have their visa applications fast-tracked under the special measures? How many were rejected? And how many are still waiting?”

Dempsey believes these are the obvious follow-up questions to a government web page which shares the following data about Canada’s Typhoon Haiyan humanitarian efforts:

“As of April 1, 2014, the total number of approved applications (in persons) from Filipinos affected by the Typhoon was 1,097.” “That’s the message that’s gone out,” she says, “and I have no idea what that means.”

Law Times – The Hill: a peek at justice issues from the Opposition side of the House
Boivin says Parliament has had a difficult time trying to find out how much the federal government has spent on fighting legal cases. “All we get as answers are platitudes,” she says.

“If the government sat down and negotiated instead of going to court with $1,000-an-hour lawyers, we would be a lot better off.”

Public Works and Government Services Canada lets cases go to court rather than negotiating with the costs ending up on the Justice Department’s bill, she says.

It hasn’t escaped her that Harper has lost five major cases that ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

BEWARE THE BIRDWATCHERS!

CBC News – Revenue Canada targets birdwatchers for political activity

A small group of nature lovers in southern Ontario enjoy spending weekends watching birds and other wildlife, but lately they’re the ones under watch — by the Canada Revenue Agency.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, is apparently at risk of breaking tax agency rules that limit so-called political or partisan activities.

Earlier this year, tax auditors sent a letter to the 300-member group, warning about political material on the group’s website.

FREE TRADE – OR GIVING THE COUNTRY AWAY FOR FREE?

Vancouver Observer – Hupacasath First Nation puts China on notice over FIPA
The Hupacasath First Nation put the Chinese government on notice today, stating it does not acknowledge the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) ratified by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last month.

The small B.C. First Nation is requesting other First Nations across Canada to write the People’s Republic of China and express opposition to the investment agreement, which is expected to give Chinese state-owned corporations greater power over Canada’s natural resources.

The 31-year agreement, which went into effect October 1, was widely criticized as “unconstitutional”, and took two years to ratify due to strong public outcry. Although it was signed to help promote Canadian business in China, experts worried that Canada would be at a strong disadvantage due to being a much weaker partner in the agreement.

Murray Dobbin’s Blog – Why New Euro-Canada Treaty Is a Gift to Oil Firms 

CETA’s domestic regulation chapter would be more aptly called “Gifts for the Oil and Gas Industry”. These CETA provisions are so biased in favour of corporations it is easy to picture industry execs sitting at the elbows of CETA’s negotiators, guiding their pens as they draft the agreement. Short of an international treaty banning all government regulations outright, CETA gives the oil and gas industry virtually everything it has been asking for, for decades. Of course these anti-regulation gifts are also available to other sectors including the mining industry but given the special place in Harper’s universe reserved for Alberta’s oil patch it’s not hard to see where the impetus came from.

Most trade and investment agreements are full of obscure legalese, but the Domestic Regulation chapter of CETA – is actually relatively simple to understand. So check it out. The restrictions on regulation you will find are right out of the oil and gas industry’s wish list. Chapter 14 on Domestic Regulation provides so many grounds for regulations to be challenged that almost any regulation could conceivably be ruled in contravention of the agreement.

DEMOCRACY AND CENSORSHIP

G&M – Foreign scientists write letter criticizing decline of Canadian federal research

An organization known for its efforts to improve scientific integrity within the U.S. government is taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over policies and funding cuts that it says are detrimental to Canadian public science.

In an open letter released Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged Mr. Harper to lift a communications protocol that prevents federal researchers from speaking with journalists without approval from Ottawa. The letter also refers to barriers that it says inhibit collaboration with colleagues in the broader scientific community.

CBC News – ISIS threat could mute objections to expanded anti-terror laws, critics fear

But could the government’s move to expand the existing anti-terror regime in an atmosphere of ISIS-inspired fears discourage MPs — particularly those in the opposition — from exercising full parliamentary due diligence?

“Even in the best of times, critiquing measures purportedly to protect us from terrorist threats is very difficult, both publicly and politically,” B.C. Civil Liberties Association senior counsel Carmen Cheung told CBC News.

“I think that right now, given the very serious concerns that we in Canada and people around the world have about ISIS, it’s going to be even harder.”

 

 

Posted in Harper Watch Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Harper Watch – September 28 to October 10, 2014


iPolitics (Michael Harris) – Harper’s ‘noble’ war off to rocky start

(Excellent if depressing summary of the situation in the Middle East and the mess that Harper has gotten us into.)

So much for the Nobel Peace Prize — but at least Canada’s Bombardier-in-chief Stephen Harper thinks the latest Iraq war is “noble.” If there were a word combining “foolish” and “dishonest”, it would do a far better job than ‘noble’ of describing what this prime minister is leading Canada into.

In opposing this latte war, both Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau were wise to leave Harper alone in his bellicose enthusiasms. In the debacle of  Afghanistan, Harper inherited Canadian involvement from the Liberals. This time, the blunder is entirely his own.

G&M (Jeffrey Simpson) Our money for attack ads – how low can the Harper Conservatives go?

Just when you thought the Harper Conservatives could stoop no lower with their attack ads against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, they discovered something even more base.

Household mailings, paid for by taxpayers, are supposed to communicate information from MPs to constituents about doings in government. …..

But now the Conservatives have decided to use these mailings – as much as 10 per cent of the voters receive them at any one time – as nothing more than a printed negative ad against Mr. Trudeau. It’s one thing for the Conservative Party to use its money to buy television airtime to demean Mr. Trudeau; it’s another to use your money for the same base purposes. But as we see, the Harper attack machine does politics this way, always has and always will, because the Prime Minister – who authorizes all this stuff, after all – obviously thinks it works

CTV News – Conservatives to change copyright law, allowing free use of news content in political ads

The Conservative government is planning to change Canada’s copyright law to allow political parties to use content published and broadcast by news organizations for free in their own political ads.

An internal Conservative cabinet document obtained by CTV News details an amendment to the Copyright Act which would allow “free use of ‘news’ content in political advertisement intended to promote or oppose a politician or political party.”   The amendment would also remove “the need for broadcasters to authorize the use of their news content.” And it would force media outlets to run political ads even if their own footage and content was used in a negative message to voters.

Related: Michael Geist – Why Does the Government Need a Copyright Exception for Political Ads?

Rabble.ca (Linda McQuaig) Corporations get lots, Canadians get little in CETA trade deal

According to Harper government hype, routinely repeated uncritically in the media, the trade deal will be a boon for all Canadians, boosting our economy by $12 billion, generating 80,000 jobs and adding $1,000 a year to the incomes of Canadian families….

As for job gains, well, the models actually showed productivity gains, not job gains. But knowing the public has little interest in something as esoteric as productivity gains, these somehow morphed into more politically popular job gains, in a sleight-of-hand by government spin-doctors that Stanford dubs “intellectually dishonest.”

Most far-fetched is the claim that the deal will boost the incomes of Canadian families by $1,000 each. As Stanford notes, the government simply took the $12-billion economic boost — a specious number at best — and divided it by the number of Canadian families.

National Post (Michael Den Tandt) – Stephen Harper finally gets his Churchill moment, but Iraq mission could backfire

This may be, paradoxically enough, Stephen Harper’s finest hour. The man who  admires Lincoln, Churchill and Thatcher, at last has his opportunity to lead  as he imagines they did, with unyielding conviction and no care to the political cost. Hanging in the balance are Harper’s fourth term, and his legacy…..

The wrinkle – the wild card that makes this a Hail Mary pass, in political terms – is that it all may go so very badly wrong. In effect Harper has relinquished a large measure of control over his political future to luck, and the U.S. air force, and the ability of Iraqi Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites to first, cobble together a stable new polity in the midst of civil war, and second, defeat and/or contain the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, in some way that is recognizable, before Canadians go to the polls next fall. A tall order, one would think.

Esprit de Corps Magazine – Who supported the Canadian Armed Forces more: Pierre Trudeau or Stephen Harper?

In the 1970s and 1980s, we were consistently told that our military was being financially starved by Trudeau’s government. Back then, the point of reference for Trudeau’s critics always seemed to be his government’s GDP spending on defence, which seldom exceeded 2 per cent. Granted, during Trudeau’s first two terms in office GDP spending on defence declined from 2.5 per cent in 1968 to what we thought was an “all-time low” of 1.6 per cent in 1979, rising again in the 1980s to just under 2 per cent in 1984.

But, looking objectively at the data, if the Trudeau government of the 1970s and 1980s was “uncommitted” to providing financial support to the Canadian Armed Forces, then Prime Minister Harper is a true financial deadbeat. Since Harper took office in 2006, GDP spending on defence has never exceeded 1.4 per cent, which is actually lower than even the alleged “all-time low” under Trudeau. Based on data provided by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, GDP spending on Canada’s military in 2012 stood at around 1.14 percent of the country’s GDP.

Toronto Star (Carol Goar) Eye-opening research stopped in its tracks

It took David Hulchanski five years to create the most sophisticated tool to track urban poverty ever devised. The work was painstaking. The result was startling and worrisome.

It took Tony Clement five minutes — if that — to destroy Hulchanski’s mapping device. “My research has been turned into a historical project,” the pioneering urban planner said disconsolately.  This is one of the first documented cases of the damage done by the Conservative government’s 2010 decision to scrap Canada’s mandatory, full-length census.

Toronto Star (Carol Goar) – Scientists rail against imposed ignorance

A year ago, a handful of Toronto scientists decided they could no longer watch helplessly as the government of Canada systematically stifled information on everything from climate change to drug safety.

They formed a collective called Scientists for the Right to Know.  They compiled a list of all the public agencies that have been eliminated, all the science and knowledge-based programs that have been discarded and all the strictures that have been placed on public officials. They created a website. They urged their academic peers to speak out.   But none of them knew much about public advocacy. They were scholars after all, not lobbyists, organizers or publicists.

G&M (Gerald Caplan) – Human rights museum is indifferent to some human rights

As the brainchild of the late Izzy Asper – his photo appears on the home page of its website – the newly-opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights was always bound to be controversial. ….

Can the Museum’s Friends also have missed the dire warnings of the mainstream media? I reported on a few of them in this space recently. From columnists Andrew Coyne and Jeffrey Simpson, from Globe and Mail editorials, we find phrases like “new abuse of power by the Harper government,” “sweeping powers that is common in dictatorships,” “impugned the integrity of…the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” Just this week in the Globe, Lawrence Martin wrote ominously that Canada has “a government where freedom of speech has become a stranger” and historian Erna Paris pleaded that the government “needs to return human rights to Canadian refugee policy

Very bad news week for SUN News, the propaganda arms of the Harper  government:

Huffington Post – CRTC Rules Against Sun News Network In Dispute With Rogers 

The struggling Sun News Network suffered another blow this week after Canada’s  broadcast regulator ruled against it in a payment dispute with Rogers, the  country’s largest cable company.

The CRTC sided with Rogers in hearings to determine how much the cable company should pay Sun News, which says it is fighting for all news services to be treated fairly, regardless of their editorial stance.

CBC – Quebecor sells 175 Sun Media newspapers and websites to Postmedia

Quebecor has agreed to sell all 175 English-language newspapers it owns under the Sun Media banner to Postmedia, the owner of the National Post and others, for $316 million.

The properties include the Toronto Sun, the Ottawa Sun, the Winnipeg Sun, the Calgary Sun and the Edmonton Sun, as well as the London Free Press and the free 24 Hours dailies in Toronto and Vancouver.

Edmonton Journal – Tories quietly shut down security advisers

Despite the Conservative government’s frequent warnings about lingering terrorist threats, it has quietly abolished a federal panel of national security advisers.

The advisory council on national security was shut down during the summer -just two years into the three-year terms of its current members.  The council was established in 2005 by the Liberal government of the day to provide confidential views on security issues in the post-9/11 era.

NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison called the council’s demise “another one of the reckless Conservative cuts.”  “This seems to be another one of the things they’ve just tried to sneak by everybody.”

University of Toronto historian Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert who served on the council from 2005 to 2009, says there is still a need for the advisory body.

 

 

Posted in Harper Watch Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harper Watch – September 13 to 27, 2014


The House is back and Harper government absurdities and atrocities abound in the latest issue of Harper Watch!

Huffington Post – NDP MP’s Facepalm Captures A Nation’s Frustration
(This article include a MUST WATCH video clip of this interview.)

Conservative MP Paul Calandra’s attempt to defend his performance in question period made an NDP rival facepalm right beside him on live TV Wednesday.  Calandra, the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, was widely criticized and mocked this week after he responded to a straightforward question on Canada’s mission in Iraq with a bizarre non-sequitur about Israel.

On Wednesday night, Calandra appeared on CBC’s Power & Politics with NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar and Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau. Near the end of the segment, the conversation shifted to how Calandra is answering questions in the House on behalf of the government. Dewar accused the Tory MP of relying on talking points from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Huffington Post – Paul Calandra Tearfully Apologizes For Response To Thomas Mulcair
(Watch the video clip and decide for yourself if Caladra is shedding tears of remorse or humiliation at being forced to apologize.)

Conservative MP Paul Calandra fought back tears in the House of Commons Friday as he apologized to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair — and all members of Parliament — for his performance in question period this week. Calandra, the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, sparked widespread criticism after he replied to a straightforward question from Mulcair on Canada’s mission in Iraq with a bizarre non-sequitur about Israel, alleging an NDP fundraiser accused the Jewish state of “genocide.”

iPolitics -  To Harper, not all child casualties of war are innocent

Before last week, I thought I understood the depth of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s malevolence. I was wrong.  Only now do I appreciate just how ugly this prime minister is. I didn’t think it was possible for even a government as rabidly partisan as this one to add Palestinian children to its long list of enemies. That’s not hyperbole.

How else can we begin to explain Harper’s failure to help Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish — a University of Toronto professor described by his Israeli colleagues as “a magical, secret bridge between Israelis and Palestinians” — in his efforts to bring 100 innocent victims of the war in Gaza to Canada for medical treatment?

iPolitics (Michael Harris) – Stephen Harper’s comeback plan: distraction
(Yes, Michael Harris is back after taking the summer off to finalize his book on the Harper majority government.  “A Party of One”  will be available in bookstores in late October, or pre-order now from Amazon.)

There’s an elephant in the room: Stephen Harper’s record in office. He needs to make it disappear. He doesn’t have much time.   Sometime between now and the autumn of 2015, Canadians must decide whether their march into the post-democratic age under Harper will continue.

The prime minister’s latest foray into one-man government was his recent end-run around a special House of Commons committee reviewing his nominations to the Supreme Court of Canada. This was his answer to ending up with the fuzzy end of the lollypop in his dust-up with Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin over the unconstitutional appointment of Marc Nadon to the high court. This guy never forgets.

In the meantime, the political leader who endorses disrupting opponents’ political meetings but shuns reasoned debate, who won’t talk to the premiers but loved barbecues in Rob Ford’s backyard, and who puts out his own newscast but treats real journalists like Ebola carriers, is embarked on a course to make people forget the basic fact of every election — that it’s always about the government’s record.

Press Progress – Harper government’s new jobs plan gives “firms an incentive to fire workers

The Harper government’s new signature proposal timed for the return of Parliament on Monday “makes it weirdly profitable to fire people,” according to an independent analysis by an economist.

Mike Moffatt of the Ivey School of Business at Western University analysed the proposed Small Business Job Credit aimed at companies that pay Employment Insurance premiums equal to or less than $15,000, and found “major structural flaws that, in many cases, give firms an incentive to fire workers and cut salaries.”

That’s not what the Harper government said last week when it unveiled a plan to save small businesses more than $550 million by effectively lowering EI premiums from the current legislated rate of $1.88 to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2015 and 2016.

Canada.com – Maher: It’s getting harder to ignore Canada’s genocide

The (really good) hip hop trio A Tribe Called Red announced Friday that it won’t play a free concert to celebrate the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on Saturday night because the museum won’t acknowledge that aboriginals were the victims of genocide.“Until this is rectified, we’ll support the museum from a distance,” said the band.

Aboriginal spiritual leaders blessed the opening of the beautiful new museum, but other aboriginals were outside, protesting, as politicians gave speeches taking credit for the $351 million project.

Huffington Post – Satellite Conservative Ministerial Staff Costs Soar 70 Per Cent
The cost of paying Conservative political staffers working in a network of satellite minister’s offices ballooned by 70 per cent during the same years the government was asking departments to tighten their belts.

Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the budget for staffing at the regional offices rose from $1.6 million to $2.7 million, according to figures tabled in the House of Commons this week.  The number of satellite locations with staff has risen from 11 to 16 to include smaller centres such as Kitchener, Ont., Charlottetown and Iqaluit…..

Liberal MP Sean Casey, who submitted the written questions about the offices in the Commons, said he has no issue with ministers having political staff organizing events and meeting with stakeholders in the regions. But Casey said the steep increase in spending is a hard pill to swallow considering recent cuts to veterans services, immigration and tax offices, and to Canada Post, among others.

“How can (Treasury Board President) Tony Clement justify cutting support for seasonal workers, cutting mail service for senior citizens, cutting support for Canada’s veterans, while spending millions of dollars on partisan advertising and operations in satellite offices,” NDP MP Dan Harris said during question period Thursday.

Toronto Star – Ottawa admits to tracking hundreds of protests

Ottawa has kept tabs on hundreds of demonstrations across Canada and around the world over the last eight years, from peaceful protests to public university lectures to riots.

Newly released documents show about 800 public demonstrations and events were observed and reported on by government departments and law enforcement agencies since 2006.

Reports were collected centrally by the Government Operations Centre, an agency tasked with preparing the federal government’s response to emergencies. Some were collected by Foreign Affairs on international protests, but the majority focused on domestic events — especially First Nations protests and environmental activism.

Newsweek – New Treaty Allows China to Sue Canada to Change its Laws

Despite public outcry, Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, ratified a controversial treaty on Friday that will allow China to sue Canada in secret tribunals for Canadian laws that interfere with Chinese investments.

Analysts interpret the move as an attempt to ease strained relations between the two nations. This summer, Canada accused China of hacking government computers, and China detained a Canadian couple for “spying.” Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and a special adviser to the Alberta government told the Globe and Mail, “We need something from China prior to the prime minister’s visit, and we’re ratifying this treaty and we’re kicking the ball over to the Chinese side to get something in return.” That “something” is thought to be the release of the couple before Harper visits China in November.

The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) was quietly signed two years ago in Vladisvostok, Russia, but public protest delayed ratification up until now.

The treaty goes into effect on October 1 and will last for 31 years, until 2045. It allows China to challenge Canadian laws it deems harmful to Chinese assets, and only requires the lawsuit be made public once an award is issued by a tribunal.

iPolitics – Who wins with income-splitting? Rich Albertans.

If Stephen Harper’s goal was to design a tax policy to make income inequality in this country even worse, he can pat himself on the back. That’s exactly what the Conservatives’ family income-splitting tax scheme will do.

Research from various organizations across the political spectrum has demonstrated already that this tax policy, projected to cost the federal treasury $3 billion in 2015, would be an expensive and inequitable tax giveaway.

Pushed by social conservative groups like the Institute of Marriage and the Family Canada and REAL Women of Canada, income-splitting would benefit very few Canadian households — while lining the pockets of wealthy, traditional families with one breadwinner and a stay-at-home spouse looking after the kids.

CTV News – PM Harper pits economy against the environment, Naomi Klein says
Prominent Canadian author Naomi Klein says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s absence from Tuesday’s UN climate summit is just the latest event to demonstrate his government’s lack of interest in the environmental issues.

Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, say Harper’s policies are all designed to increase growth, “whether it’s free trade, whether it’s the tar sands.”And that logic is what is at the heart of the climate crisis.,” she told CTV Question Period.

Related: Canada risks being left behind as Green Energy takes off

Toronto Star – Oil and gas pollution committee quietly silenced

Environment Canada appears to have quietly ended key discussions that were intended to tackle carbon pollution from the oil and gas industry.

A committee made up of representatives from Environment Canada, the Alberta government and oil and gas companies was created in the fall of 2011 to develop options to reduce industrial greenhouse gases from the oilsands sector, the country’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions.

Toronto Star – Walkom: Is Stephen Harper’s global military policy delusional or just plain mad?

Sometimes, it’s as if Stephen Harper’s Conservatives suffer from delusions of grandeur.  How else to explain the decision by Canada’s apparently cash-strapped federal government to set up a network of military bases around the world?  That’s usually something only countries with imperial pretensions, such as the U.S., France and Britain, do. And even the U.S. is pulling back these days.

As reported by my colleague Allan Woods, who broke this story, Ottawa claims its new bases will ultimately save taxpayers money.  But that rationale only works if the government is planning to deploy Canadian soldiers on a regular basis to global hot spots. Are the Conservatives setting the stage for more Libyas and Afghanistans?

Ottawa Citizen – Stephen Harper government muzzles top general on eve of retirement
The outgoing leader of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) Lt.-Gen. Stu Beare …. was muzzled by the Harper government a couple of weeks ago, preventing him from talking to journalists about the challenges that CJOC and Canada face during this period of global tumult.

Forbidding Beare to speak was an example of the mindless messaging micro-management that has become one of the Harper government’s least appealing hallmarks. Such orders — and this was hardly the first — have long left the brass scratching their heads. After all, the government is constantly braying about Canada’s glorious military heritage and famously fond of talking as if nobody in the West is tougher on Russian President Vladimir Putin and terrorism.

 

Posted in Harper Watch Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harper Watch – September 1 to 12, 2014


31 YEARS OF HELL TO LOOK FORWARD TO – THANKS STEVE

(This is by far THE WORST thing Harper has ever done and is absolutely unforgivable. We will suffer dearly for this.)

Huffington Post – Canada-China Foreign Investment Deal Gets Harper’s OK Despite Concerns

Canada has ratified the contentious Foreign Investment Protection Agreement with China. International Trade Minister Ed Fast says the deal, known as FIPA, has been ratified and will come into force on Oct. 1.

Fast says the agreement provides the protections and the confidence Canadian investors need to expand, grow and succeed abroad.But the deal, aimed at enhancing foreign investment by providing a framework of legal obligations, has been met with suspicion and alarm not just by the government’s usual critics, but Conservative cabinet ministers too.

Vancouver Observer – Harper OKs potentially unconstitutional China-Canada FIPA deal, coming into force October 1

It’s official: Prime Minister Stephen Harper has approved the controversial Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) today.  In a short, two-paragraph news release, International Trade Minister Ed Fast said the deal was now ratifiedIt will come into force on October 1, 2014, and will be effective for 31 years, until 2045.

The original investment protection deal — which treaty law expert Gus Van Harten said could be in violation of the Canadian Constitution — was quietly signed in 2012 in Vladisvostok, Russia, but was delayed for two years due to public outcry.

Vancouver Observer – FIPA could force Canada to keep weak environmental laws: May

“Any state-owned enterprise from China that was counting on our weak environmental laws can sue us,” says the Green Party leader.

“China’s the larger economic power. It’s not a matter of opinion, but a fact, that in every investor state agreement, the stronger power wins,” said Green MP Elizabeth May, on the ratification of the China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) today.

The ratification was announced today in a news release, saying FIPA will come into force on October 1, 2014, and will be effective for the next 31 years. May said FIPA could effectively ‘lock in’ Canada to weakened environmental regulation for the next 31 years.

COMMENTARY

Warren Reports – Conjuring an Illusion

Misdirection is a form of deception where your attention is focused on one thing to distract you from another. It’s a common trick used by magicians and political leaders alike. Stephen Harper is a master of misdirection. He has used it with great effect in his management of both the nation’s finances and our economy.

Globe and Mail – Jeffry Simpson: The PM can’t see the climate for the slush

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has just completed his ninth annual summer tour of Canada’s North. These trips are fine in and of themselves. They draw attention to the North, in all its complexity. Mr. Harper announces programs. No one can gainsay that he is interested in the North – his recurring presence there testifies to that interest, even though some of his promises, especially military procurement ones, are way behind schedule and, in some cases, destined to never happen.

Nowhere in Canada is the impact of climate change more increasingly evident than the North. And yet, the words “climate change” are never heard from Mr. Harper in the North, as if the idea they connote are so distasteful that he cannot bring himself to utter them.

Toronto Star – Editorial: End secrecy around prescription drugs

Health Canada needs to clean up its shameful cult of institutional secrecy and make findings public as the American Food and Drug agency does. It’s a prescription for disaster.

Some Canadian pharmaceutical companies have sold drugs they knew were defective — putting patients at possible risk. Others have hidden, altered and in some cases destroyed test data that showed their products were tainted or potentially unsafe, or not reported side-effects suffered by consumers taking their drugs.

That’s scary enough.  But more worrisome is this: Star reporters David Bruser and Jesse McLean could not get this information from Health Canada. Instead, they had to rely on detailed notes from the American Food and Drug Administration’s inspections of Canadian companies.

Winnipeg Free Press – Editorial: Harper’s brand at odds with reality

Despite Mr. Harper’s carefully crafted image as a military leader and man of action, the Conservatives have been slashing the defence budget and delaying procurement of new ships, airplanes and army vehicles.

Some critics fear the military could be heading into another decade of darkness, similar to the 1990s when the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien slashed defence spending to balance the budget. Of course Mr. Harper’s main political priority today is a balanced budget in advance of next year’s federal election.

Huffington Post Blog – Ralph Goodale: Only Stephen Harper Stands in the Way of an Effective Government

I’ve watched a good many Premiers Conferences during my 26 years in Parliament. This year’s get-together in Charlottetown has to rank among the best for both substance and tone. On healthcare, services and facilities for the elderly, and retirement incomes for middle-class Canadians, the Premiers were right on-target…..  On all these topics, they sounded informed, reasonable and pro-active, but what they lack is a willing federal partner to work with.

In nearly nine years as Prime Minister, Mr. Harper has had only two brief meetings with all the Premiers in the same room at the same time. And on the issues raised in Charlottetown — healthcare, elder-care, pensions, the missing and murdered women, infrastructure, sustainable energy, and a “Team Canada” approach to trade and marketing — Mr. Harper has largely abandoned the field.

Atlantic Business – Stephen Kimber: What would you do to un-Harper Canada?

He’s cut the netting from under our social safety net, slashed public services, done a 180-degree foreign-affairs pirouette from global honest broker to ideological barking dog, glorified the military while denigrating veterans, stealthily imposed a new unilateral Medicare funding formula to eviscerate national health care standards and download costs on to the provinces, imposed tough-on-crime legislation and mandatory minimum sentences despite evidence they don’t work, attacked the courts, eliminated the long-form census, muzzled scientists, destroyed important data, emasculated environmental protections, audited charities and environmental critics, cut taxes for the rich while leaving gaping loopholes for offshore tax cheats, gutted the CBC, passed Orwellian legislation like the Fair Elections Act to make elections anything but…

MILITARY MADNESS

Toronto Star – Walkom: Is Stephen Harper’s global military policy delusional or just plain mad?
“We don’t have enough equipment to stock seven bases,” he says. “What would you put in them? Boxes of Corn Flakes?”

Sometimes, it’s as if Stephen Harper’s Conservatives suffer from delusions of grandeur.  How else to explain the decision by Canada’s apparently cash-strapped federal government to set up a network of military bases around the world?

That’s usually something only countries with imperial pretensions, such as the U.S., France and Britain, do. And even the U.S. is pulling back these days.

Globe and Mail – Harper facing pressure to explain decision to send soldiers to Iraq

The Commons hasn’t resumed sitting yet, but Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson are appearing before MPs at a special committee hearing Tuesday to argue the case for Canada’s surprise decision last week to send dozens of this country’s most elite soldiers to northern Iraq.

Ottawa Citizen – Fisher: Stephen Harper government muzzles top general on eve of retirement

The outgoing leader of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) is Lt.-Gen. Stu Beare. Both he and Vance served with distinction in Afghanistan — Vance during two combat tours in Kandahar and Beare with NATO in Kabul.

Beare was muzzled by the Harper government a couple of weeks ago, preventing him from talking to journalists about the challenges that CJOC and Canada face during this period of global tumult. The general deserved better than this parting order after 36 years of service. During his Afghan and CJOC years he has been responsible for the lives of thousands of Canadians in dangerous places, as well as for spending billions of dollars.

CRIMES AND CRIMINALS

G&M – Conservatives’ crime bill endangered by ‘administrative error

The fate of one of the federal government’s toughest crime bills is in doubt after the House of Commons sent the wrong version on to the Senate, which debated that version and sent it on to a committee for further study. The Commons’s mistake affects a key government priority – victim rights – by leaving out four amendments approved for the Fairness For Victims Act. Parliamentary experts say they have never heard of such an error being made before……

G&M – Serious error found in a second Tory crime bill

The Senate knowingly approved a crime bill with an error that could weaken the legislation and invite challenges by defence lawyers. In a second crime bill in two weeks revealed by The Globe and Mail to have reached the Senate with mistakes in it, the Senate approved measures cracking down on recruitment by criminal organizations or gangs. They became law in June.

The errors highlight the lack of scrutiny given to crime bills at a time when the Justice Department’s research staff has been sharply cut and a huge stack of these proposed get-tough laws is before Parliament – 30 are either currently being debated or became law in June.

Huffington Post – Part Of Harper Government’s Tougher Sentencing Laws Ruled Unconstitutional

The Harper government’s tough-on-crime agenda took another hit Wednesday when Ontario’s top court struck down provisions that limit pre-trial sentencing credit. In its decision, the Court of Appeal ruled the law unconstitutional because, among other things, it could create sentencing disparities for similarly placed offenders.

“Both the offender and the public must have confidence in the fairness of the sentencing process and in the results,” the court ruled.  “Public confidence in the criminal justice system would be undermined by an artificial distinction that results in longer jail terms for some offenders.”

Ottawa Citizen – Case against Del Mastro ‘overwhelming,’ Crown argues

All the evidence presented in MP Dean Del Mastro’s election fraud trial backs up the story told by key witness Frank Hall, while Del Mastro’s story doesn’t match the facts, a prosecutor told a judge in Peterborough on Thursday.

“The evidence of guilt in this case is overwhelming,” Tom Lemon told Judge Lisa Cameron as the Crown presented its final arguments.

THE PETTY AND RIDICULOUS

Ottawa Citizen – Ottawa architect says government ‘stealing’ site for communism memorial
(A building with PET’s name on it just wouldn’t do in Harperland, and a jab at the Federal Court is just icing on the cake)

A prominent Ottawa architect is accusing the federal government of “stealing” the site that’s been chosen for the new Memorial to Victims of Communism.

In an open letter to Stephen Harper, Barry Padolsky urges the prime minister to find a “more appropriate” location for the memorial, to be built on a 5,000-square-metre property on Wellington Street, next to the Supreme Court of Canada.

That site had long been designated as the future location of a new building for the Federal Court of Canada, called the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Judicial Building in government planning documents.

Padolsky says the Trudeau building — or another comparable structure — is the missing piece in a planned “judicial triad” that would include the Supreme Court of Canada Building and the Justice Building on its eastern flank.

Globe and Mail – Harper’s caucus control described in book by MP, a former Tory

Upset with the Conservative government’s handling of the F-35 jet purchase, Brent Rathgeber wrote a blog entry critiquing it. It was an innocuous act, save for one detail: He was a Conservative MP himself.

Soon after, the phone rang, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office on the line demanding the blog post be taken down. Mr. Rathgeber’s aide refused. “You don’t understand; I am calling from the PMO,” the staffer replied.

The Lapine – Harper Discovered Sunken Franklin Ship While Scuba Diving
(OK it’s just satire..for now…if Harper had his way this is how it would read in the history books)

“He was barely at a depth of 9 meters (30 feet) when he spotted a sparkle…a quick flicker of sunlight…on something far below him.”

“You can imagine the Honourable Prime Minister’s reaction, his sheer excitement, when he realized that he had just caught the first glimpse of a ship lost for more than 169 years.”

ENVIRONMENT

Inside Climate News – Keystone Ads Mislead on Canada’s Deep Cuts to Environmental Monitoring

Meanwhile, Canada’s advertising campaign—which includes the pro-oil sands government website gowithcanada.ca—touts Canada as a reliable partner and a “world environmental leader in the oil and gas sector.” It also boasts of a new oil sands monitoring system “founded on science and transparency.”

Harper’s government defends the campaign, saying it wants to ensure that other countries get all the facts. But one fact the ads don’t mention is that the oil sands industry’s rising carbon footprint is projected to wipe out reductions elsewhere in Canada’s economy, putting Harper’s commitment to reduce annual emissions to about 3 percent above 1990 levels by 2020 out of reach.

Herald News – Request to interview federal scientist sparks 110 pages of government emails
(Whatever you do, don’t ask about rock snot in Harperland!)

It was a story about rock snot. And if there’s a person you want to talk to about the pervasive algae also known by the less-offensive, more scientific name of Didymo, it’s Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist Max Bothwell.

But a request from The Canadian Press to speak to Bothwell when the article was published in May failed to produce an interview. What it did produce was 110 pages of emails to and from 16 different federal government communications operatives, according to documents obtained using access to information legislation.

Huffington Post – Canada’s War on Science Brings Us International Shame

A push to prioritize economic gains over basic research is endangering science and academic freedom in countries around the world, according to a new report published by a leading researchers union, the French National Trade Union of Scientific Researchers (SNCS-FSU).

The research union found governments internationally are pushing for policies “geared towards innovation in order to spur consumption and competitiveness,” according to Patrick Monfort, secretary-general of the SNCS-FSU. “Budget cuts are often blamed for our problems,” he said, “but they are only part of the picture.”

Monfort told the prestigious journal Nature that scientists in Canada have been particularly hard hit, not only by broad funding cuts, but contentious communications protocols that prevent their freedom of expression.

JOBS AND ECONOMY

Toronto Star – Is part-time work the new normal?: Goar

For the past year, the only part of Canada’s job market that has showed any sign of life has been part-time employment.  The numbers are striking. Since last autumn, Canada has created 50,000 part-time jobs but lost 20,000 full-time positions.  What was once a whisper — are we becoming a nation of part-timers? — has swollen into a worried chorus.

Fortunately, one financial institution has taken up the cause. The Toronto Dominion Bank recently issued a special report entitled Part-Time Nation: Is Canada Becoming a Nation of Part-Time Employed?

The bank’s economists deserve credit for taking Canadians’ concerns seriously. Their research is informative. But their analysis is far less bold than its provocative title.

PSAC – Government tables “Go-to-work-sick” proposal for federal public service

During negotiations with the Public Service Alliance of Canada yesterday, federal government negotiators tabled a proposal that would gut the sick leave provisions for employees of the federal public service.

If implemented, workers will be forced to choose between going to work sick or losing pay for basic necessities. The proposal would eliminate all accumulated sick leave for public servants, reduce the amount of annual sick leave to 37.5 hours a year subject to the absolute discretion of the employer, and institute a 7-day waiting period without pay before people can access short-term disability benefits.

Posted in Harper Watch Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Harper Watch, August 21 to August 31, 2014


HARPER NOMINATED FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE???!!!

Vancouver Observer – Harper’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination slammed as ‘outrageous’
Strong reaction to a national Jewish organization’s nomination of Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a Nobel Peace Prize continues to mount.
The news was more than a representative of the Canada Palestine Association could bear.
“With nominating him, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” said Hanna Kawas, Vancouver chairperson of the organization, on Sunday.
“It’s outrageous.”

Huffington Post – Stephen Harper’s Nobel Prize Nomination Sparks Outrage
With such a long list of competitors, the odds are against Harper receiving the prize. But that hasn’t stopped more than 10,000 people from signing an online petition to ensure it doesn’t happen.
The Change.org petition says it would be a “disgrace and insult to your prestigious award” to give Harper the prize. As of Tuesday morning, the drive had received roughly 12,000 signatures.

COMMENTARY

Grenfell Sun – Ralph Goodale: A hard look at Mr. Harper’s Economic Record
When the next federal election rolls around, likely next spring, Stephen Harper says he wants to campaign on his economic record.  Well bring it on.
That record is highlighted by some spectacular failures

Toronto Star – Carol Goar: Tony Clement hatches open government plan
Now — from the minister who saved the government $15 billion without telling Parliament what he cut; the policy-maker who eliminated Canada’s information-laden census and chopped Statistics Canada’s budget by $30 million; the MP who siphoned $50 million out of a border security fund to build to band shells and gazebos in his riding — comes Tony Clement’s latest initiative: a “ new action plan on open government .”
The Treasury Board president proudly announced this week he has prepared a draft policy “to increase openness and transparency in government.” He is inviting the public to comment
It will come as a surprise to most Canadians that a government known for its secrecy and obfuscation is “committed to fostering the principles of open government.”

Michael Spratt – Fact vs. Fiction: Rona Ambrose’s laughable claims about Conservative ‘evidence based policy’
The fact that Ambrose felt the need to assert publicly that her government drafts policy based on facts — not on hunches, hearsay or blind ideology — highlights the Harper government’s essential problem when it comes to getting Canadians to sign on to its program: It does not believe in fact-based policy and seldom feels the need to behave as if it does.

Globe and Mail – Konrad Yakabuski  : From sugar to drugs, Harper has turned everything partisan
Warning young people about the dangers of smoking pot should be about as controversial as telling them to brush their teeth. The same goes for recommending that adults consume no more sugar than they can bench-press. Health officials are right to point out the pitfalls of both.
This is Canada, in 2014, however, where the Harper government’s insistence on putting its political stamp on policies that were previously left to independent agencies or experts in the bureaucracy means that even its public service announcements (PSAs) are suspect. Where an anti-pot ad aimed at teens seems partisan and nutritional guidelines seem to go light on the sugar lobby.

On the lighter side: Stephen Lautens’ #MacKayTees

ENVIRONMENT

Globe and Mail – The PM can’t see the climate for the slush
Nowhere in Canada is the impact of climate change more increasingly evident than the North. And yet, the words “climate change” are never heard from Mr. Harper in the North, as if the idea they connote are so distasteful that he cannot bring himself to utter them.
Every summer, surrounded by the evidence of Northern climate change – melting ice, widening sea lanes, disruption of traditional hunting patterns, shifting tundra, increased sun reflection, changing weather patterns – the Prime Minister spends a week in the region without ever drawing attention to the impact and challenges of climate change.

SAFETY

Press Progress – It’s not clear any Conservatives actually read damning Lac-Mégantic report
Just tell people you haven’t gotten around to reading the report yet. Because if you haven’t read it, it hasn’t happened yet.
That appears to be the Conservatives’ bright idea on how to defend themselves against Tuesday’s damning Transporation Safety Board report that concluded Transport Canada’s weak oversight was a cause and contributing factor in last year’s Lac-Mégantic train derailment that killed 47 people.

FIRST NATIONS

Global – Wynne blasts Harper’s ‘outrageous’ comments on murdered aboriginal women
TORONTO – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is wrong in saying that police investigations, not a national inquiry, are the best way to deal with crimes involving missing and murdered aboriginal women, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday.
“For Stephen Harper to say that there’s not a systemic aspect to this, I think is just – I think it’s outrageous quite frankly,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
All the provinces and territories endorsed calls for a public inquiry when they gathered last year in Ontario for the annual Council of the Federation premiers’ conference. They’ll meet up again next week in Charlottetown, P.E.I., where they’ll talk with aboriginal leaders.

Yukon News – Stupidity outbreak mars Harper’s visit
What a relief. Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Whitehorse yesterday and shared with the territory a fresh insight: the plight of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada is not, in fact, a “sociological phenomenon.” Rather, the root of the problem is that we simply haven’t locked enough people away in prison.
“We should view it as crime,” Harper said. “It is crime against innocent people, and it needs to be addressed as such.”
Well, that makes things much tidier, doesn’t it?

ATPN News – Harper and his fly thru corporate visit to Iqaluit
Great video of Harper not answering questions and Laureen evading the point.

VETERANS

Global News – Half of Canada’s severely wounded soldiers not getting disability cheque
OTTAWA – A new report by Canada’s veterans watchdog says nearly half of the country’s most severely disabled ex-soldiers are not receiving a government allowance intended to compensate them for their physical and mental wounds.
Veterans ombudsman Guy Parent also says those who are receiving the permanent impairment allowance, along with a recently introduced supplement, are only awarded the lowest grade of the benefit.
Parent says the criteria used by federal bureaucrats to evaluate disability do not match the intent of the allowance, and that the guidelines are too restrictive.

PROVINCIAL RELATIONS

The Star – Wynne blames Harper for blocking constructive relations between Ottawa, provinces
Premier Kathleen Wynne says it’s difficult to get things accomplished nationally when Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands in the way of constructive relations between the provinces and Ottawa.
As the premiers head to P.E.I. next week for their annual gathering to discuss matters of common concern, the federal government, and in particular Harper, are expected to loom large on the agenda.
“Stephen Harper has chosen to deal with the . . . provinces one at a time as opposed to dealing with us in any kind of collective way,” Wynne, outgoing chair of the Council of the Federation, told the Star Friday.

JUSTICE NOT SERVED IN HARPERLAND

Globe and Mail – Staffing cuts strain Justice Department
The Conservative government has been sharply reducing the expertise on hand in the Justice Department, even as its tough-on-crime agenda continues to be a major priority, with dozens of laws being debated and changed at the same time.
In a year when several key criminal laws were struck down by the Supreme Court, or given an interpretation that dramatically softened their impact, the Justice Department has been flying by the seat of its pants after sharp cuts to the number of researchers and lawyers and frequent demands for the speedy drafting of new laws, according to interviews with former senior bureaucrats and the release of an internal report.

Straight.com – Stephen Harper’s tough-on-crime agenda linked to increasingly dangerous prisons
In federal prisons across Canada, inmates are at a greater risk of violence than they were 10 years ago.
As the Straight reported in July, statistics obtained through a freedom of information request show numbers are up for assault, sexual assault, and attempted suicide. The use of solitary confinement has also increased.
According Gord Robertson, Pacific regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, it’s a combination of factors that’s causing prisons to become increasingly dangerous places.

MORE FISHY BUSINESS – OR STUPID, OR VINDICTIVE

The Star – Harper government asks public servants to delete emails
“Given the current government’s track record, a red flag has to go up anytime our members are instructed to delete information,” said Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.
“Gathering, maintaining, and assessing evidence has become increasingly difficult under this government and its fondness for secrecy, which has led to muzzling of government scientists.”

rushprnews- Harper’s government targeting poor seniors on guaranteed income
Halifax, NS (RPRN) 08/27/14 — Under proposed changes to prescribed annuity taxation, Canadian poor seniors will pay a lot more taxes. These changes are hidden in the proposal for changes in the exemption test of life policies modifying Subsection 300(2) of the Income Tax Regulations.

The Star – Ontario says ‘No’ to removing citizenship by birth on soil
The Ontario government says it will not support Ottawa’s proposal to remove citizenship rights to children born in Canada to non-citizens and non-residents.
“In our view, there is not enough evidence to justify the effort and expense required for such a system-wide program change. Citizenship and immigration Canada has not quantified the extent of fraud resulting from ‘birth tourism,’’ said Ontario Deputy Immigration Minister Chisanga Puta-Chekwe.
“At this time, there is insufficient data to demonstrate the demand placed on Ontario’s economy or public services from ‘birth tourists,’” he wrote in a letter to Ottawa, dated September 6, 2012, after a technical briefing on the plan. A copy of the province’s response was obtained by the Star this week.

 

Posted in Harper Watch Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment