Now we can get down to the serious work of repairing this wonderful country of ours and stay engaged in the process so that we NEVER allow fascism to take root here again!

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Harper Watch, October 12 to October 18, 2015

Dear Readers,

This is the last Harper Watch that we will be posting before the Federal Election, and hopefully the last Harper Watch post ever.

We would like to thank all of our readers and also the news sources we have accessed over the years (even the Post Media ones, because some of the investigative journalists have exposed Harper crimes, even if the owners are shameless Harper supporters.)

Despite the pain and anxiety he has caused to many Canadians, Stephen Harper has taught us a valuable lesson: never take for granted the idea that you can just vote every 4 years and then let the government run on autopilot for their term of office.  While a coup, as its name suggests can be sudden and sweeping, at least it is immediately recognized. The insidious, sly, underhanded erosion of our democracy by Harper however, was not apparent to many Canadians until the accumulated effects could be felt at the very roots of our Canadian identity. The critical mass of individuals and groups who have suffered under the Harper regime has hopefully finally been reached and he and his cronies will be ousted at the polls.

We must never let this happen again. We must remain constantly vigilant and hold our governments to account at every opportunity. We must demand that the new Canadian Government repair the damage done by the Harper government, and that they remove the levers and loopholes that he has established or abused so that no other Prime Minister or PMO can exert the power that he did over our citizens and institutions.

Here’s to a Canada Reborn. We will be celebrating Canada Day on Tuesday for the first time in a long time.


Huffington Post – Why the Youth Vote Is Going Viral

Four years ago, I held up a sign in Parliament that said “Stop Harper.” On that day, I felt hopeless, scared and alone.

Today, I feel a sense of hope.

Let’s start with the 71 per cent spike in advance voter turnout. Add to that the 70,000 students who voted at campus polling stations and friendship centres. And studies show that if people know others are voting, they are more likely to vote too.

And that was just the beginning.


Toronto Star – Prospect of Harper-free land has Canadians smiling: Hume

Perhaps it’s one’s over-heated imagination, but the thought that Canada could rid itself of Stephen Harper in just days seems to have made the country a happier place. Suddenly, Canadians have a spring in their step. The cloud that has kept Canada in darkness for a decade could finally lift.

Not that we delude ourselves that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau or the NDP’s Tom Mulcair will solve all our problems, but both would eliminate the toughest issue of all — the prime minister himself.

Maclean’s – William Thorsell: ‘The editorial I’d write … if I were still writing them’

Not in recent times have Canadian voters had an opportunity to “throw the bastards out” in the classic phrase. Elected officials generally leave office before such public urges get to them.

This time however, Stephen Harper is sticking his head up above the parapets after nine years in office — nine years generally seen as the Best Before Due Date in politics, as it is for leadership in the private sector. Knowing when to leave is among the more elegant qualities of any CEO, but then Mr. Harper has never laid claim to elegance.

The Chronicle Herald – SURETTE: At last, Harper’s iron grip on power is turning to rust

Two days to go and, at last, hope that what has to happen if this country is to recapture its integrity is actually about to happen: that Stephen Harper and his scurrilous despotism are about to get the heave.

If so, it will be just in time. The world is suddenly paying attention, and what it sees is not pretty — one of the rocks of democracy and human rights in the world coming unstuck.

Astonishment is being expressed as far afield as India and Hong Kong. The U.S. magazine Esquire had a shock headline recently asking, “What the f*ck is going on in Canada?” Britain’s The Independent, under a headline proclaiming that a “liberal nation’s democracy loses its way,” had an article by its prominent international affairs correspondent, Robert Fisk, who was here a few weeks and who, reciting the litany of Harperist nasties, observed that “it is impossible not to be struck by the near-insanity of the debates which will define the country for the next four years.”

ipolitics – Michael Harris: This is not a campaign on the rocks. This is a campaign in flames.

If the sight of Rob Ford in a thong would drive the bears out of the woods, the notion of Ford arranging a political rally for Stephen Harper will drive the law-abiding and sane away from the Conservative party — never to return.

The idea of standing in front of a campaign rally in a half-filled room with Rob and Doug Ford in the front row — glaring with their tiny, mad eyes — would be enough to scare the pants off a hit man.

CBC News – Neil Macdonald: Government sensitivity over you hearing about ‘sensitive’ information

Canadian democracy has, we are told, been maliciously undermined at Citizenship and Immigration, and the department’s top public servant is determined to set things right, on behalf of the Canadian people.

Deputy Minister Anita Biguzs has declared herself “deeply concerned.” What has happened, she says, is an ethical erosion of the very cornerstone of the trust and democratic function of government.

Globe and Mail –  According to Stephen Harper, there are two types of Canadians

There is a principle that is truly fundamental to our country. It is that we do not simply tolerate difference, we celebrate it.

We do not impose the values of one religion on all; instead, we respect religious freedom. This protection is written into our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the document that, more than any other, is the expression of our deepest values as a nation.

The Constitution goes further than this. A section that is quoted much less often reads, “This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.” Not just the passive acceptance of difference, but its preservation and enhancement.



Huffington Post – Benjamin Perrin, Former PMO Staffer, Says Tories Don’t Have Moral Authority To Govern

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The former lawyer for the Prime Minister’s Office says the Conservative government has lost the moral authority to govern, and he’s voting for change this election.

Benjamin Perrin says in a statement that based on what he’s personally seen and experienced, he felt there was no other choice but to abandon his lifelong Conservative vote.

“Last week, I voted in an advance poll for change,” Perrin said in a statement sent to The Canadian Press.

“As a lifelong conservative I never thought that would happen. But after what I’ve personally seen and experienced, there was no other choice. The current government has lost its moral authority to govern.”

National Observer – Lynton Crosby ditches Harper’s flailing campaign

Australian master strategist Lynton Crosby has reportedly abandoned Stephen Harper’s campaign, just four days before Canadians choose their next government, according to ThinkPol.

Crosby’s apparent departure could not have come at a worse time for Harper, who is falling behind in the polls to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. The prime minister is facing widespread criticism for speaking at a Toronto rally on Tuesday with scandal-plagued ex-Toronto mayor Rob Ford in attendance, who has previously admitted using illegal drugs including crack.



Maclean’s – A reality check on Stephen Harper’s math: ‘Ka-ching.’

To the constant “ka-ching, ka-ching” chirp of a cash register, Nicole Ropp, a married mother of three, piled up $20 bills as Harper rhymed off a list of a purported tax increases Canadians can expect from a Liberal government. For the Ropp family, it all added up to about $8,000, according to Harper.

However, Harper’s list included a number of alleged tax hikes that aren’t on the Liberal agenda and omitted a number of other measures aimed at giving middle-class families more, not less, money.

rabble.ca – Conservatives once again betray Canadian jobs

This will be the first generation of Canadians in our history to be worse off than their parents.

That blunt fact is the new reality of our country, where seven per cent of workers are officially jobless (and much more if hidden unemployment is included) and youth unemployment stands at over 13 per cent. And that reality is a direct result of the policies and actions of this Conservative government and the Mulroney government that came before i

Canadian Wheat Alliance – Ag Minister blowing fumes

The Manitoba Cooperator is carrying a story (Grain backlog no impact on farm incomes: Ritz) quoting  Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz ridiculing the latest independent academic study showing farmers would have been billions of dollars better off if they still had the single-desk Canadian Wheat Board.

Astoundingly, Ritz claims farmers never lost money.  Wasn’t it just last year that he was touting his “Fairy Dust for Grain Farmers Act” which he then claimed would fix the problem of, wait for it, lost farm income?

CTV News – Fahmy thanks Mulcair, Trudeau: ‘You know who I’m not voting for’

“There are no words to describe how it feels when you are wrongfully convicted and sitting in a cold cell, infested with insects (and) nurturing a broken shoulder,” he told an audience at Ryerson University. “But when you’re there, your only hope is that your prime minister would do everything in his power to get you out of there.

“Our prime minister delegated his responsibility to people who lacked the clout to really get me out of there,” he continued.

Huffington Post – Why is Harper Selling Canada’s Fresh Water Supply to French Companies?

The Harper government has gutted every regulation and law we had in place to protect our freshwater supplies. Now this deregulation is locked in as corporations from Europe as well as the U.S. can soon claim to have invested in an environment without water protection rules and sue any future government that tries to undo the damage.

ipolitics – Conservatives mum on national food strategy despite previous pledges

Despite a 2011 campaign pledge that promised to develop a national food strategy, the Conservatives are the only federal party to not respond to a campaign survey aimed at determining where Canada’s political parties stand on the policy.

A new survey published Wednesday revealed four of Canada’s five main political parties support the development of a national food strategy.

BuzzFeed – Why Were A Whole Bunch Of Moving Trucks Outside The Prime Minister’s Office?

(The writing is on the wall. Fire up the Paper Shredders!)

Trucks from Boyd’s Moving & Storage and Grand & Toy could be seen parked at Langevin Block, which houses Stephen Harper’s office.

With the election only three days away, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are leading in the polls, meaning the Conservatives’ nearly ten-year governance could be coming to an end.

Grand & Toy has an active contract with the government for shredders. The contract includes top secret document shredders that exceed “RCMP destruction standards.”

CBC News – Conservative Cheryl Gallant’s claim she’ll save Canada Post raises ire of postal workers

A curious election ad placed in a local newspaper by Conservative candidate Cheryl Gallant has raised the ire of postal workers, who say it contains “a series of falsehoods,” not to mention their union’s logo.

Gallant, who voted with her party to defeat an NDP motion to maintain door-to-door delivery, calls on voters in the Ontario riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke to re-elect her as the “only” way to save Canada Post.

The ad appearing in the North Renfrew Times on Oct.14 features the “Save Canada Post” logo used by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in their campaign against what they say are Conservative-backed cuts to postal service.


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Harper Watch, October 1 to October 11, 2015


Must watch video by very talented spoken word artist Shane Koyczan

National Post – Who says that Canadians don’t write protest songs about politicians? Blue Rodeo drops anti-Harper tune

Who says that Canadian musicians don’t write protest songs about politicians? Well, the Toronto Star did in an article published Sunday. The article is correct in saying that topically political songs are not common in contemporary Canadian music, yet one of Canada’s most beloved bands released just such a song on Monday.


There are many many more songs written about Harper. My personal favourite is Harperman

And you gotta love this one too – Little Stevie Harper

This FaceBook Group lists a bunch more



Independent, UK – Robert Fisk: If Stephen Harper is serious about criminalising ‘barbaric cultural practices’, then he should arrest himself for even suggesting it

Now Harper, the man with the choir-boy good looks whose pro-Israeli policies might win him a seat in the Knesset, is about to push a truly eccentric piece of legislation through parliament in Ottawa. It’s called – and I urge readers to repeat the words lest they think it’s already April Fool’s Day – the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”. Yup, when I first read the phrase “Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”, I felt sure it was a joke, a line from the “Big Bang Theory” or a Channel 4 mockudrama about Nigel Farage’s first premiership.

Toronto Star – Stephen Harper, a prime minister we can’t trust: Danny Williams

People sometimes ask about my “grudge” with Stephen Harper. The fact is that I hold no grudge at all. My views simply reflect my first-hand experience in my former capacity as a premier of a province I love, in a country I love.

Having dealt with other former prime minsters, I was accustomed to disagreements and differing viewpoints. But I was also accustomed to working with leaders from all parties who demonstrated integrity, concern for the country and genuine intentions. Stephen Harper, by direct contrast, represents none of these things. Rather he is divisive and untrustworthy.

Toronto Star – The country we want doesn’t use fake feminism to hate

The election rhetoric based on fear-mongering against women who wear niqab only has traction if we all collude with its false conclusions.

It turns women’s safety and rights into a political game that distracts from the realities. More lastingly, it has stigmatized a specific population of Canadians.

Far from advancing equality and stopping violence against women, it appears to have unleashed hate. The women attacked since the government’s “Barbaric Cultures tip line” was introduced know this only too well.

Huffington Post – Every day, I Discover a New Reason to Vote out Harper

When new Canadian leaders are elected, I try to keep an open mind and give them a chance before passing judgment. It seems to me that’s the Canadian way.

Stephen Harper was no exception: in 2006, I actually looked forward to seeing where he would lead our country.

But before long, I found myself getting concerned about the direction he and his team were taking us — concerned enough to start keeping a ‘blog-book’ of policies and actions that were making me uneasy.

I’m sad to report that my blog-book now has many entries.

The Georgia Straight – Mike Taylor: Five reasons why the stakes are high for young Canadians in this election

Are you between the ages of 18 and 35 and might not vote in this election?

Give me five minutes and I will give you five reasons why this election is not some far-removed event with little impact on your life, but rather an outcome that will affect your finances, and our generation’s shared interests and values.

It is ironic just how few of us show up to the polls. Sure many of us do care, and yes, there has been increased attention paid to particular issues on social media, but on the whole, politics is not considered cool or a priority for young Canadians.

But explain to me this: how can paying over 40 percent of your income on rent or a mortgage be cool, when there are steps the government could take to make housing more affordable? It has taken the prime minister nine years to acknowledge the housing problem, and make the largely inconsequential campaign promise to collect data on Vancouver’s housing market.

VICE News – Canadian Academics Accuse Harper Campaign of ‘Vicious Propaganda’

Hundreds of Canadian university professors are condemning the campaign strategy of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, which they allege has turned, in the last weeks of the election, to mongering fear and hate in order to win votes.

In an open letter, signed by over 600 academics from a wide array of disciplines and published this morning in the Ottawa Citizen, the scholars state that the Conservative campaign has “flagrantly crossed the line” with its messaging about “barbaric cultural practices” — a term the letter claims is specifically tailored to play on bigotry without sounding bigoted.

Maclean’s – Author Joseph Boyden takes on Stephen Harper

Giller prize-winning author Joseph Boyden said Stephen Harper’s comments on niqab issues are “race-baiting” and he compared Harper’s policies to Nazi Germany. Speaking to Evan Solomon on SiriusXM’s radio program Everything is Political, Boyden called the Tory efforts to ban the niqab “fear-mongering to the lowest common denominator.”

Boyden is a Canadian novelist living in New Orleans, best known for his books Three Day RoadThrough Black Spruce, which won the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and The Orenda, which was named the winner of the 2014 edition of CBC Radio’s Canada Reads.

Boyden went even further when asked about the Conservatives’ promise to create a tip line to report “barbaric cultural practices.” “Are we in 1939 Germany?” Boyden asked “This is no longer even dog-whistle [politics], this is through a gramophone, that’s through a megaphone,” he said.

Toronto Star – Selling Canada out, one deal at a time

Since winning his majority, Stephen Harper’s government has signed or finalized 23 new trade or investment deals.

The right trade agreements can create opportunities for Canada. But the Harper government has seemed more interested in getting lots of deals than in making sure each is good for Canada’s economy.

Considering the financial transfers they tend to create, a more precise name for these deals might be: A Locked-In Agreement to Transfer Public Money to Large Companies, Lawyers and Arbitrators.

Huffington Post – The Conservatives Are Betraying Canadian Jobs

This will be the first generation of Canadians in our history to be worse off than their parents.

That blunt fact is the new reality of our country, where seven per cent of workers are officially jobless (and much more if hidden unemployment is included) and youth unemployment stands at over 13 per cent. And that reality is a direct result of the policies and actions of this Conservative government and the Mulroney government that came before it.

Toronto Star – How Stephen Harper changed the character of Canada: Goar

Canada has never had an election campaign like this. Not only its length is unprecedented and its cost record-breaking. For the first time in postwar history, one of the nation’s major political parties has dispensed with the inconvenient tradition of meeting voters.

The Conservatives see no need to talk to Canadians who don’t support them. Tory candidates seldom participate in town halls or election debates. Party leader Stephen Harper, who has served as prime minister for nine years, allows only supporters into his campaign events.

How do we hold a governing party accountable for its actions when its members and candidates are inaccessible? How do we compare our electoral choices when one party speaks only to its own backers?

The sad thing is that few voters seem to care. They are inured to Harper’s divide-and-conquer tactics.

Toronto Star – Jason Kenney, inventor of pointless division: Mallick

(Mallick – as always, hilarious but to the point)

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney really makes a person think, but not in a good way. He was caught tweeting praise of an Iraqi refugee boy’s “perfect unaccented English.” “I simply found it remarkable that a youngster who did not speak a word of English a year ago has learned so quickly that he sounds like he grew up in Canada,” Kenney said later, of 11-year-old “Xavier.”

I know, Jason, if only ethnic-type foreigners would just try harder.

“I have a gay lisp,” one affronted man tweeted. “Is that unaccented English?”

“Yeth,” a woman reassured him.

The Coast – The damage of the Harper years

In hushed tones, speaking on conditions of anonymity, one hears a remarkably similar refrain from front-end federal government monitoring staff who were once—and theoretically still are—tasked with environmental regulatory enforcement: There’s no time anymore. So keep your head down and just go through the motions.

The back-end staff, office-bound folks who might, say, prepare the necessary paperwork related to a potential infraction, have been downsized to the point where it simply doesn’t make sense for front-liners to file the paperwork anymore. It’s a time of low morale and routine work; a loss of regulatory capacity that goes part and parcel with gutted protective legislation.

These are the Harper Years.

National Observer – Harper’s race card gambles with women’s safety to win votes

It’s unprecedented in modern times for a Canadian leader to turn citizen against citizen, and race against race with the ugliness we’ve seen emerge in the 2015 election. Stephen Harper set torch to a Pandora’s tinderbox of hatred, and the fire is spreading.

Last Tuesday, just days after the federal leaders’ French language debate inflamed passions about the niqab, two teenage boys set upon a pregnant Muslim woman on a Montreal street, grabbing her headscarf and knocking her to the ground. Now we learn that a man accosted a Canadian-born, niqab-wearing mother out with her young daughters at a Toronto mall, blocking her way and driving his elbow into her.

As if it weren’t horribly predictable that fanning niqab hysteria would lead to attacks on women. Authorities were well aware of the spike in violence against Muslim women during Quebec’s debate over the proposed Charter of Values last year.

When Harper rolled the dice with women’s safety, he knew they were loaded with snake-eyes.

Calgary Herald – Editorial: Stop snubbing voters

(Is the West waking up?)

If there is one point that’s not debatable during an election campaign, it’s that candidates need to show up for debates.

It’s truly astounding that during the current federal campaign, some Conservative candidates have not been attending debates. Whose votes are these people hoping to snare, if not those of the folks in their constituency who attend these forums in the expectation that the candidate will be there? Only sheer arrogance, born of a certainty of epic proportions that Calgary ridings are theirs for the taking, could be the motivating factor for these seemingly apathetic candidates.

No one can blame voters for feeling insulted at these no-shows. It’s as though they’re simply not important enough for the candidates to waste their time with.



 Globe and Mail – Prime Minister’s Office ordered halt to refugee processing

The Prime Minister’s Office directed Canadian immigration officials to stop processing one of the most vulnerable classes of Syrian refugees this spring and declared that all UN-referred refugees would require approval from the Prime Minister, a decision that halted a critical aspect of Canada’s response to a global crisis.

New York Times – Syrian Asylum Claims in Canada Slowed by Stephen Harper’s Office

TORONTO — The office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper slowed the handling of refugee claims from Syrians by intervening in the review process, the government confirmed on Thursday.

The unusual move, which revived the handling of refugee claims as an issue in Canada’s current election campaign, was reported by The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper. It was unclear why Mr. Harper’s office took the step against Syrians in particular. But Chris Alexander, the minister of citizenship and immigration, described it as a security audit.



National Observer – How John Baird bungled Mohamed Fahmy’s release

Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy wasted no time in blasting the Harper government just 18 days before the federal election for overstating its role in securing his recent release from an Egyptian jail.

“When a Canadian citizen is in prison and caught up in a case so complicated, related to terrorism, the most efficient and senior officials in the Canadian government should intervene from day one,” Fahmy told Canadaland’s Jesse Brown in an extensive interview on Sept. 28.

“My intention when I go back to Canada — and I will be arriving before elections — will be speaking in several rallies without pledging allegiance to any specific party to constructively highlight what the Canadian Government could have done in a better way in order to protect me while I was in prison.”

Maclean’s – Exclusive: Tories move to strip citizenship from Canadian-born terrorist

The Harper government is attempting to revoke the citizenship of a convicted terrorist who was born and raised in Canada, Maclean’s has learned—a first under a controversial new law that has triggered intense debate during the election campaign.

Saad Gaya, 27, is believed to be the only Canadian-born citizen (terrorist or not) to ever face the prospect of being stripped of his citizenship. Until now, there was no legal mechanism to undo what has long been considered an irreversible birthright.



HUFFINGTON POST – Bob Zimmer, Conservative Candidate, Says ‘Lack Of A Job’ Is One Reason For Missing, Murdered Women

The Conservative incumbent in the northern B.C. riding that includes the so-called Highway of Tears said “a lack of a job” is one of the reasons for missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Candidates running in Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies were asked at a debate Tuesday if an inquiry was needed into the disappearances and killings of 1,181 women between 1980 and 2012 in Canada.

Toronto Star – Kellie Leitch defends lack of abortion funding for victims of war rape

OTTAWA—Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch is blasting the “abhorrent” practices of rape as a weapon of war and the forced marriage of young children in the developing world.

But she’s defending Canada’s refusal to fund any aid projects that might help the victims of such barbaric practices obtain abortions.

Huffington Post – Naheed Nenshi Delivers Another Niqab Reality Check For Tories

He criticized Conservatives for the party’s two-prong message: that the niqab is symbol of oppression and that women should not “let their husbands and brothers” govern how they should dress.

“How is that any different than letting Jason Kenney telling them what to wear?” Nenshi asked. “If Jason believes that, then Jason should attempt to ban it everywhere. Not for 30 seconds of somebody’s life during a citizenship ceremony.”

He chided Conservatives on the priority the party has given to the much-ballyhooed issue over other national concerns.

Days earlier, the mayor called out Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s stance on the niqab as “unbelievably dangerous.”

“If we want to have a conversation about the status of women in this country, let’s have that conversation,” Nenshi said. “Let’s talk about murdered and missing aboriginal women, let’s talk about the UN chastising Canada for its poor performance on women’s issues, and let’s talk about real social change.”



Toronto Star – Harper’s pot is ‘infinitely worse’ than tobacco assertion ‘misleading’ — health experts

Asked by a reporter on Saturday why he so strongly objected to the Liberal leader’s plan, Harper said there is “overwhelming and growing” evidence of “the bad long-term effects” of marijuana use. Noting that authorities have spent decades trying to discourage Canadians from using tobacco, he said “marijuana is infinitely worse, and is something we do not want to encourage.”

But according to Dr. David Hammond, while there are significant health risks associated with marijuana—especially when smoked by young people or pregnant women—there is “no comparison” between the dangers it poses and the harm caused by tobacco.

Ottawa Citizen – PS fighting for respect in election, not sick leave

Canada’s public servants won’t buy Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s last-minute love letter to them because respect and the ability to do their jobs — not sick leave benefits and pensions — are what they are fighting for in this election.

Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said Harper’s recent open letter to public servants, patting them on the back and offering assurances that sick leave reform will be fair and pensions untouched, totally missed the mark of what public servants their and unions are campaigning for. 

CBC NEWS – Danny Williams says Stephen Harper’s tactics are borderline racist

He used the word racism in reference to the debate over the wearing of the niqab by Muslim women taking part in the oath of citizenship.

Williams said the issue is not worthy of becoming a national issue, but the Conservatives have latched onto it in order to secure votes.

“He doesn’t care if he isolates the issues of women or if he isolates the issue of minorities, and even crosses, possibly, that racism line,” Williams stated.

“It doesn’t matter to him. It’s all about getting elected at the end of the day.”



Toronto Star – Database names Conservative donors who are political appointees

OTTAWA—What do the head of the CBC, a former BlackBerry executive, and the president of The Asper Foundation have in common?

They can all find their names in a database compiled by left-leaning pressure group SumOfUs.org of political appointees who have donated to the Conservative Party.

According to SumOfUs.org campaign director Rosa Kouri, the organization found 356 political appointees who have donated more than $760,000 to the Conservatives’ coffers between 2004 and 2014.

Huffington Post – Harper Received Emails About Sen. Don Meredith Allegations From Angry Canadians

Some Canadians had seemingly been pushed too far by yet another senator caught in a scandal and, more specifically, another one appointed by Stephen Harper.

“Man o man…couldn’t you have put some half decent people on the Senate payroll?” one email read.

Another message was just as blunt: “Holy Hannah, has there been anyone nominated by Harper to the Senate that hasn’t brought shame to Canada?? How is it indeed possible to have so many senators nominated by one prime minister go in the ditch?”

Huffington Post – Parm Gill, Conservative Candidate, Investigated By Elections Commissioner

Conservative candidate Parm Gill is being investigated by the Commissioner of Elections Canada, The Huffington Post Canada has learned.

Gill, the incumbent candidate in the Ontario riding of Brampton North, is being scrutinized for accepting or charging money from unsuspecting donors without their consent.

CTV NEWS – Conservative supported radio licence bids despite conflict-of-interest guideline

OTTAWA – Conservative candidate Parm Gill sent letters of support to Canada’s broadcast regulator on behalf of two radio licence applicants in Brampton, Ont., while a parliamentary secretary – despite guidelines from the federal ethics commissioner forbidding such interventions.

Gill, who is seeking re-election, wrote the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in praise of competing applications for AM licences in May when he was parliamentary secretary to the international trade minister.

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Harper Watch, September 7 to September 30, 2015


New book by former PBO, Kevin Page

Toronto Star – Former budget watchdog Kevin Page bites back in new book

It became very personal. Intimidation and fearmongering were all too common tactics of the Harper government. They were a mean-spirited bunch and I’ve never understood the need for that kind of approach. But perhaps even more frightening than the intimidation tactics themselves is the fact that, in large measure, those tactics worked. If you displeased the people at the top, you were open to ridicule or even dismissal. It made for a closed shop atmosphere, which I can only surmise was a part of their strategy to keep power.

CBC Radio – The Current: Former budget watchdog Kevin Page says office was set up to fail

It was Kevin Page’s job, as the country’s first ever Parliamentary Budget Officer, to take a hard look at how the government spent public dollars. His appointment fulfilled a Conservative campaign promise.

But it wasn’t long before he was being vilified by that same Conservative government.


 Maclean’s – Anne Kingston: Vanishing Canada: Why we’re all losers in Ottawa’s war on data

When told that his small Prairie town had, in profound ways, fallen off the statistical map of Canada, Walter Streelasky, mayor of Melville, Sask., is incredulous. Streelasky had no idea Melville had been rendered a “statistical ghost town” after the mandatory long-form census was cut in 2010, and fewer than 50 per cent of the one third of Melville’s 4,500 residents who got the voluntary National Household Survey that replaced it in 2011 completed the form. Melville still exists—but as a shadow. We know how many people live there, but nothing about them—where they work, their education levels, whether they’re married, single or divorced, how many are immigrants, how many are unemployed, how many live in poverty. Melville’s numbers, then, aren’t factored into Canadian employment numbers or divorce rates or poverty rates. According to Sask Trends Monitor, the high non-response rate in the province resulted in “no socioeconomic statistics about the populations in about one-half of Saskatchewan communities.” Nationally, we’re missing similar data on 20 per cent of StatsCan’s 4,556 “census subdivisions,” making a fifth of Canada’s recognized communities statistical dead zones.

ipolitics – Michael Harris: Harper’s dollarama foreign policy on trial at Munk Debate

Behind the emotional appeal to the worst angels of our nature and fear mongering is a decade’s worth of diplomatic disaster.  The world has become a much more dangerous place for Canadians due almost solely to the Harper approach, and Canada has been involved in some of the darkest episodes post 9/11 – including a dubious role in Afghanistan that might yet spark a public inquiry into allegations of war crimes.

Our trigger-happy PM routinely chooses war over diplomacy.  He has also chosen the venal economic self-interest over taking a principled stand every time.

Maclean’s – The Conservatives,the party for the manly man? Hardly.

Now, conservatives are scared of everyone and everything. A skinny brown kid brings a homemade clock to a Texas school. A woman wears a niqab to her Canadian citizenship ceremony. An Alberta mother tries to treat her child’s severe epilepsy with medical marijuana. Everywhere they look, the political right is frightened. While they once imagined themselves as the barrel-chested man’s man, they’ve now become the clichéd housewife standing on a chair, shrieking at a mouse.

National Observer – Prime Minister Harper, the magician, has turned Canada into Nigeria

Working internationally, I am often asked how the Canadian economy is responding to low oil prices, and how this is linked to national politics.

As the Canadian government abandons economic prudence in favour of a “tar sands above all” policy, the country increasingly feels like Nigeria where, as Kingsley Moghalu writes in this week’s Financial Times, “oil patrimony is the result of an unimaginative politics, one which assumes that government cannot do anything to enlarge a country’s economy, and that its only role is to divide the spoils. Politicians have therefore concentrated on rewarding their supporters — and as the [oil] bounty has diminished, that debate has become more and more bitter.”

Moghalu was describing the plight of the Nigerian economy under sustained low oil prices. He could just as easily be talking about Canada (or Russia). 

The Tyee – Stephen Harper, Serial Abuser of Power: The Evidence

(This is reposted from August, 2015)

Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have racked up dozens of serious abuses of power since forming government in 2006. From scams to smears, monkey-wrenching opponents to intimidating public servants like an Orwellian gorilla, some offences are criminal, others just offend human decency. 

To spare you abuse fatigue, we’ve divided our list into two parts. The second one runs Thursday. Please help us out. As you read, if any abuses we’ve forgotten come to mind, either make a note in the comments thread after this piece or send us an email at editor@thetyee.ca, subject line Harper Abuse List. We will fold what we get into a final version as a handy reference for the campaign.


Canadian Media Guild – CBC announces plans to sell off all buildings in midst of election campaign

CBC announced today at a town hall for staff that it is selling all its property across the country, including major production facilities in Montreal and Toronto. These buildings were paid for by Canadians to allow the public broadcaster to produce quality original Canadian programming purely in the public interest. The announcement confirms a trend to strip CBC of that ability. 

Maclean’s – Why Stephen Harper doesn’t want to talk about ‘women’s issues’

Shortly after its 2006 election, the government removed the word “equality” from the mandate of Status of Women Canada, a federal government organization formed to “promote equality for women and their full participation in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada” (“equality” was reinstated after protest). Cuts to funding of that organization saw 12 of 16 regional offices shuttered and the elimination of the $1-million Status of Women Independent Research Fund. Funding criteria was redrafted; dozens of women’s service providers (including rape crisis centres) that engaged in advocacy or lobbying for law reform, became ineligible for funding or saw budgets slashed.

Globe and Mail – Lawyer’s lawsuit highlights Ottawa’s court clashes over Charter rights

Edgar Schmidt was once a lawyer earning $155,000 a year for the federal Justice Department, examining proposed laws for consistency with the Charter of Rights. But he felt uneasy about the way he was told to do his job, believing that officials in his own department – and the Justice Minister himself – were involving him in breaking the law. So he sued his employer.

Monday, in an Ottawa courtroom, his lawsuit against the Justice Minister, deputy justice minister and the department comes to trial, calling attention to an issue that has received little notice thus far in the federal election campaign: the Conservative government’s frequent clashes with the courts over the Charter of Rights


National Observer – Exclusive: Inside the Harper government’s trashing of a research library

At first, the closing of the library at the Lethbridge Agricultural Centre looked methodical. Staff were informed of the closure in July. Then in early August they were told they could help themselves to items from the collection.

And then it all went south from there: in mid-August summer students began filling an extra-large dumpster with journals and reports. Reportedly, one scientist jumped into the dumpster to rescue a set of journals. Distressed staff began to select more and more books from the collection in order to rescue them.

CBC News – Ex Parks Canada employees raise concerns about staffing in national parks

More than 100 former Parks Canada employees have signed an open letter saying they have concerns about the firing of a senior parks scientist in Jasper, Alta., this summer.

They also criticize what they call the “purging of science-based management” in national parks, and are blaming the federal government.


CBC News – Cabinet ministers met publicly with KPMG while firm’s tax ‘sham’ under CRA probe

Top Conservative cabinet ministers met publicly with senior staff from KPMG’s tax division, and one went so far as to promote the firm, even as the Canada Revenue Agency was alleging the company set up an offshore tax “sham” that deceived the government and deprived the treasury of potentially millions of dollars, a CBC News investigation shows.

National Post – Ottawa’s overhaul of health-care funding has left enormous ‘fiscal gap’ for provinces, PBO warns

The Conservative government is downloading billions of dollars of health-care costs on the provinces, says the parliamentary budget officer, making federal finances sustainable over the long term but leaving provincial governments to stare down severe financial pains in the coming years.

The PBO’s annual long-term fiscal sustainability report released Thursday says the Harper government’s decision to scale back the growth in Canada Health Transfer payments means provincial governments will increasingly struggle to afford health-care services for their citizens.

Globe and Mail – Ottawa spends $1.3-million fighting sick moms’ EI disability benefits lawsuit

The federal government has spent more than $1.3-million in legal fees to prevent new mothers who fell seriously ill while on maternity leave from collecting disability benefits in addition to the employment insurance that is paid to new parents.

A class action lawsuit was launched in Federal Court in 2012 by two Calgary women on behalf of an estimated tens of thousands of new mothers who were denied the EI disability benefits or dissuaded from applying for them. It is seeking more than $450-million in compensation.

Huffington Post – Feds Halted Research Showing Canadians Getting Gouged At The Pumps

Questions are being raised as to why the federal government stopped issuing a bi-weekly report on gas prices, just as that report was showing a large spike in profits made by refiners.

The Fuel Focus Report from Natural Resources Canada had been issued every two weeks for years until the series stopped with the July 24 issue, shortly before Prime Minister Stephen Harper called a federal election in early August.


Huffington Post – 7 Things Harper Doesn’t Want You To Know About The China Trade Treaty (And A Few He Does)

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Harper government doesn’t want attention drawn to the deal it just signed with China.

Why? Because after two years of delays, the official announcement of an investor-protection treaty with the world’s second-largest economy came in the form of a press release late Friday afternoon. That’s how you release information if the idea is to bury it.

Ottawa Citizen – Tractors, cattle on Ottawa streets as farmers express trade talk fears

OTTAWA — Dairy farmers parked tractors at the foot of Parliament Hill, walked cows through downtown Ottawa and dumped milk on the pavement Tuesday to protest what they say is a looming trade deal that threatens their way of life.

Farmers in Ontario and Quebec fear that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive 12-country trade deal that’s said to be near an agreement in principle, could spell the end of the supply management system that keeps their operations profitable.


Globe and Mail – Notley says Harper’s criticism of Alberta NDP ‘make believe’

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Tuesday Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s suggestion the new Alberta NDP government is to blame for the province’s recession is “make believe.”

Ms. Notley said in an interview that the province’s fiscal problems have more to do with global forces and the policies of the previous Progressive Conservative government. 

ipolitics – Foreign sailors paid as little as $2 per hour while Canadian crews remain jobless: union

OTTAWA — The Seafarers International Union of Canada is preparing to take the federal government to court over the use of foreign sailors — some of whom are allegedly being paid as little as $2 per hour on internationally-flagged ships in Canadians waters.

The labour group, which represents unlicensed sailors in all of the country’s coastal waters, has been firing warning shots for a month over the growing refusal of shipping agents to hire Canadian crews — something to which the federal government has allegedly turned a blind eye.


ipolitics – A hero of peace meets a wall of indifference in Ottawa

Dr. Abuelaish’s bridge-building routinely takes him across Canada and the world to talk about the path to reconciliation he explores in his best-selling book, aptly titled, I Shall Not Hate. “If I could know that my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis,” he wrote, “then I would accept their loss.”

Dr. Abuelaish may not be “old-stock” — but he certainly wants to be a ‘new’ Canadian. He has been waging another, much more private battle with Ottawa for years now — to become a Canadian citizen. And Harper and his faithful handpuppet, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, have basically told him to take a seat at the back of the bus.

Toronto Star – Conservatives amend law to allow export of prohibited weapons to Israel, Kuwait

OTTAWA — Critics are raising an alarm over what they say is an ongoing erosion of government control over the export of Canadian military goods.

The Star reported Wednesday the Conservative government quietly amended the export law to permit Canadian shipments to Israel and Kuwait of prohibited weapons such as banned handguns or automatic weapons.

According to two new regulations published Wednesday, the Conservative cabinet approved the changes two weeks ago. The new rules take effect immediately and add Israel and Kuwait to an approved list of 37 countries to which Canadian exporters can legally ship weapons that remain prohibited under Canada’s Criminal Code, including “fully automatic firearms, electric stun guns and large-capacity magazines.”

Maclean’s – Harper says only bogus refugees are denied health care. He’s wrong.

It began when Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau attacked the Conservative government’s failure to support refugees under Stephen Harper’s leadership: “They cross the oceans and they make it to Canada,” Trudeau said of asylum-seekers, who have dominated the news lately due to the worsening civil war in Syria, “and what does Mr. Harper do? He takes away their health care.”

Prime Minister Harper was indignant: “We have not taken away health care from immigrants and refugees. On the contrary, the only time we’ve removed it is where we had clearly bogus refugees who have been refused and turned down. We do not offer them a better health care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. That is not something that new and existing and old-stock Canadians agree with.”

Harper’s reference to “old-stock Canadians” got lots of attention. But what’s far more shocking, say refugee experts, is his stony denial of the truth: that the Conservative government has diminished the medical insurance provided to most refugees in Canada—tens of thousands of them, in fact.

Globe and Mail – Canada’s response to refugee crises today a stark contrast to past efforts

The Syrian refugee crisis has exposed a wall of bureaucratic hurdles in Canada’s renowned refugee-sponsorship system that did not exist during previous crises, when the country brought in huge airlifts of desperate people.

Migrants wanting to come to Canada as refugees now face long waits at visa offices abroad and for applications to be processed here. Refugee certification from another country or a United Nations agency is required before some kinds of applications can be reviewed.

CBC News – Private refugee sponsors find just a handful of Syrian cases approved

The latest government list of refugees pre-approved for private sponsorship has just nine Syrian cases on it, despite the growing crisis and increased demand by Canadians who say they want to help.

Known as the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) list, it has refugee cases from around the world that have been vetted by Canada and are ready to come within a month or two. Each case can represent a single person or a family. 

Globe and Mail – Leaked internal report warns of Canada’s declining world influence

Canada’s international clout is “under threat” as its honest-broker role is replaced with a more assertive stand that plays down traditional multilateralism, an internal Foreign Affairs briefing document is warning senior federal government insiders.

The presentation, obtained by The Globe and Mail, is stamped “Secret” and was prepared by senior Foreign Affairs officials for a deputy-minister-level meeting Sept. 9. Departmental officials do not lay blame at the feet of the Conservative government, which has run foreign policy for the past nine years, but their analysis echoes criticism of Prime Minister Stephen Harper levelled by ex-diplomats, foreign observers and his political opponents.

CTV News – Harper gov’t warned budget ‘insufficient’ to meet security needs at Canadian embassies

When Stephen Harper faces his rivals in a key foreign policy debate Monday night, he’ll confront new revelations about the safety of Canadian embassies abroad.

CTV News has learned many of Canada’s diplomatic missions in the Middle East and Africa are not safe – putting the lives of diplomats and staff at risk.


Press Progress – This Conservative candidate’s company got $400K in government contracts since launching his campaign

Conservative candidate Walter Pamic says he’s for low taxes and small government.

But what he doesn’t mention is his business has collected over $400,000 in contracts from the federal government since declaring his intention to run for Canada’s governing party earlier this year.

Pamic is an Ottawa-area Conservative candidate, but he’s also a man of many hats: small business owner, chair of an anti-union lobby group and erstwhile witness at parliamentary committee hearings.

Global News – 2 Conservative candidates dropped after urination incident, prank call videos




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TORONTO — Two Toronto Conservative candidates have been officially dropped from the election campaign after one was once caught on video urinating in a coffee cup and the other was seen making prank calls in several online videos — including one where he pretends to have a mental disability.

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REFILE - CORRECTING BYLINEATTENTION EDITORS - VISUALS COVERAGE OF SCENES OF DEATH OR INJURYA young migrant, who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, lies on the shore in the Turkish coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey, September 2, 2015. At least 11 migrants believed to be Syrians drowned as two boats sank after leaving southwest Turkey for the Greek island of Kos, Turkey's Dogan news agency reported on Wednesday. It said a boat carrying 16 Syrian migrants had sunk after leaving the Akyarlar area of the Bodrum peninsula, and seven people had died. Four people were rescued and the coastguard was continuing its search for five people still missing. Separately, a boat carrying six Syrians sank after leaving Akyarlar on the same route. Three children and one woman drowned and two people survived after reaching the shore in life jackets. REUTERS/Nilufer Demir/DHAATTENTION EDITORS - NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TURKEY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN TURKEY. TEMPLATE OUT

He looks like he’s sleeping, his little round head resting on the pillow of sand.

He looks like my son who once fell asleep on the living room floor in the middle of a game.

But his little pudgy baby cheeks won’t fade as he grows into a teenager.

His impish smile, baby teeth framed by a huge grin, topped by twinkling eyes, won’t charm his audience anymore.

He wasn’t born here, like my son. But his parents loved him as much as I love mine.

Seeing him there rips my heart out.

Where has my country gone?



Reuters – Troubling image of drowned boy captivates, horrifies

An image of a drowned toddler washed up on the beach in one of Turkey’s prime tourist resorts swept across social media on Wednesday after at least 12 presumed Syrian refugees died trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.

The picture showed a little boy wearing a bright red t-shirt and shorts lying face-down in the surf on a beach near the resort town of Bodrum. In a second image, a grim-faced policeman carries the body away.

Turkish media identified the boy as 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose 5-year-old brother died on the same boat. Media reports said he was from the north Syrian town of Kobani near the Turkish border, scene of heavy fighting between Islamic State insurgents and Kurdish regional forces a few months ago.

The hashtag “KiyiyaVuranInsanlik” – “humanity washed ashore” – became the top trending topic on Twitter. In the first few hours after the accident, the image had been retweeted thousands of times.


Maclean’s – How has Canada fared on resettling Syrian refugees?

This January, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said Canada will resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2017. It’s been six months. How’s Canada doing?

The short answer is: Don’t bother asking. But first, some background.

In July 2013, then-immigration minister Jason Kenney promised Canada would welcome 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of 2014. Canada missed the deadline, and the Conservative government absorbed quite a bit of public criticism as a result.

Toronto Star – Tima Kurdi’s pleading letter to allow brother to enter Canada revealed

In a pleading letter obtained by the Star dated March 17, Kurdi begged Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander to allow them (and not her other brother Abdullah, the father of the two drowned Syrian boys) to come to Canada as refugees.

The letter was delivered by NDP MP Fin Donnelly.

While the brother is not named in the letter, an official in Donnelly’s office confirmed that Kurdi specified in an attachment to the letter that she and her family were sponsoring Mohammed and his family, but that the attachment does go over the family histories of both Mohammed and Abdullah.

The attachment tells of the family’s journey from Damascus to Istanbul, including an encounter with Syrian rebels.

The official said Donnelly also followed up with Alexander in April, “seeking any opportunity” to bring the brothers and their families to Canada.

CBC News – Chris Alexander defends Canada’s refugee response, blames media for ignoring crisis

Alexander, who has served as immigration minister since July 2013 and is running for re-election in Ontario, accused CBC News of ignoring the Syrian refugee crisis.

“I’m actually interested in why this is the first Power & Politics panel we’ve had on this,” he said.

Alexander went on to say that “the biggest conflict and humanitarian crisis of our time has been there for two years, and you and others have not put it in the headlines where it deserves to be.”

Barton noted later the subject had been discussed at least 32 times on Power & Politics, including in interviews with Alexander. As a minister, Alexander was not allowed to appear on panels.

CBC News – Refugee crisis, drowned Syrian boy shift focus of election campaign

Trudeau, however, said the government has repeatedly ignored calls from opposition parties and international groups to accept more refugees from Syria and other nations ravaged by war and internal strife.

“You don’t get to suddenly discover compassion in the middle of an election campaign. You either have it or you don’t. This government has ignored the pleas of Canadian NGOs [non-governmental organizations], opposition parties and the international community that all believe Canada could be doing more, should have been doing more,” he said.

Toronto Star – Canada’s embarrassing indifference to the plight of refugeesI speak with a lot of refugees. These days most are from Syria. I’ve learned to expect one question: how can I get to Canada? My answer is embarrassing: it’s basically impossible. Geography and arrangements with other countries mean it’s hard to claim asylum, resettlement takes years, and things are getting worse. Why? We keep electing a government that doesn’t want refugees.

Alexander may have suspended his campaign to address the issue, but the Conservatives have spent a decade tightening Canada’s asylum system and ignoring appeals from organizations tasked with helping refugees. It is a fact that restrictive asylum policies fuel irregular migration. Addressing this crisis requires radical and swift changes to the way Canada engages the world.

Ottawa Citizen – Conservative rule overhaul blamed for Syrian refugee backlog

The Conservative government imposed a new rule for potential refugees in 2012 — a change refugee groups say is squarely to blame for why so few Syrians have made it to Canadian soil.

The rule also appears to have played a key role in the government’s refusal to let a B.C. woman, Tima Kurdi, privately sponsor her brother Mohammed Kurdi and his family to come to Canada.

The refugee groups say they have repeatedly called on Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and the government to exempt Syrians from the rule — which says the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) or another country must first designate a person as a refugee before immigration officials will consider letting them be privately sponsored to come to Canada.

But they say their requests have been ignored.

Globe and Mail – Canada’s response to refugee crises today a stark contrast to past efforts

The Syrian refugee crisis has exposed a wall of bureaucratic hurdles in Canada’s renowned refugee-sponsorship system that did not exist during previous crises, when the country brought in huge airlifts of desperate people.

Migrants wanting to come to Canada as refugees now face long waits at visa offices abroad and for applications to be processed here. Refugee certification from another country or a United Nations agency is required before some kinds of applications can be reviewed.

Ottawa Citizen – No Syrians on expedited refugee list until last week, Anglican Diocese of Ottawa official says

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) supplies the names of pre-cleared refugees to Canadian visa offices. The list, which currently contains about 400 names, is circulated weekly to more than 90 organizations in Canada — including the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa — that have signed sponsorship agreements with the government. The groups can then select names from the list of those they want to sponsor to Canada.

Those chosen typically arrive here within about two months, compared to up to two years for other private sponsorships, said Don Smith, the chair of the diocese’s refugee working group.

The government has given priority status to refugees from Syria and Iraq, which in theory should speed up the processing of their claims, Smith said in an interview Thursday.

“The problem is, in the last two years when we’ve been talking about the Syrians, it’s only last week that Syrians started showing up on a visa office-referred database,” Smith said.

Press Progress – Here are 4 other things Chris Alexander has had to say about refugees

Thursday was not a good day for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

It started with news that Canada had rejected a refugee application from the family of Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian who was discovered washed ashore on a Turkish beach. Photographs of Kurdi’s body have gone viral and ignited a global outcry about the Syrian refugee crisis.

While it later turned out the rejected application related to Kurdi’s uncle rather than his father, Kurdi’s aunt had sent Alexander a letter dated March 17 pleading for help for her entire family.

And it didn’t help that the night before, Alexander was widely criticized for making factually incorrect statements about the refugee crisis in an interview with the CBC.

Alexander temporarily suspended his campaign Thursday.

Was it all just a bad day for Alexander or something that’s recurring?


The Guardian – Harper’s Canada has more than one refugee death on its hands

Undeserving people exploiting the generosity of a benevolent government. Cheating an application process. Taking advantage of welfare. Stealing our jobs. That is the image of “bogus refugees” that Canada’s Conservative government has spent years carefully cultivating. But a single photo of a drowned child has shattered all the stories meant to harden Canadians. 3-year old Alan Kurdi’s fate off Turkey’s shore has seared the reality of the refugee crisis into our consciousness and left Canadians stunned about our government’s complicity in the death of a child.

CBC Radio: The House – Louise Arbour says military alone ‘not the answer’ to Syrian refugee crisis

Canada can and should be doing more to bring in a larger number of Syrian refugees than the government’s current target, says former Supreme Court justice and United Nations high commissioner on human rights Louise Arbour.

“I think these numbers, frankly — 10,000 over the next four years — are so out of proportion of what Canada should be doing,” she said in an interview on CBC Radio’s The House.

The Guardian – Canada tries to discourage refugees and the results are deadly

Canada’s policies toward people fleeing persecution and conflict worsened significantly with the election of Harper. The Conservative government has only offered federal assistance to 457 Syrian refugees – out of a promised 10,000 – according to New Democratic Party foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar. According to the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, new laws introduced in 2012 cut off healthcare for asylum seekers, criminalized them and imposed “unrealistic time limits for refugee claimants to prove their claims” that “result in grave injustices” and undermine Canada’s human rights record.

Toronto Star – Canada’s refugee policies are mean and incompetent

Children are washing up lifeless on beaches and Canada has turned its back. This Syrian refugee crisis is one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in recent memory and our government has utterly failed to respond in any meaningful way. While other countries have stepped up to resettle Syrian refugees caught in a war zone and humanitarian crisis, the Conservative government has taken little action.

CBC News – Nenshi lashes out at Chris Alexander on refugee crisis

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi didn’t pull any punches when asked about the Syrian refugee crisis and the Canadian government’s response.

He slammed the “talking points” about attacking ISIS as a solution to the crisis and said Canadians are asking whether the airstrikes are working.

“No one is saying you bring in the refugees and that solves the whole problem,” he said.

“But regardless of all the rest of it, we have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of desperate people, and we have a country that’s known as being a safe haven and we have to be able to do that.”

Susan on the Soapbox – A Poll Assesses Harper’s Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Nelilfu Demir’s photograph of the body of three year old Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach has taken its place among other iconic photographs that, in the words of Ryerson prof Paul Roth, have the power to concentrate the mind.

Canadians are concentrating their minds on one question: is Harper’s government doing enough for Syrian refugees?

We’re half way through the federal election campaign. This is not the question Harper wants us to focus on, so it’s not surprising that two days after Alan Kurdi was buried I received a robo-call poll on the Syrian refugee crisis.

The questions were illuminating.


Huffington Post – When I Was 3, the Same Age as Alan Kurdi, I Became a Refugee

When I was three, the same age as Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach this week, I became a refugee.

But my family did not face the choices his family faced. My story had a different ending, a happy ending. It did because the government of Canada responded to a humanitarian crisis by putting human beings — and their need for shelter and safety and comfort — above everything else.

My story had a happy ending because Canada chose to treat desperate people in desperate need with honour, with a conviction that these people could and would benefit Canada.

Huffington Post – What Happened to the Canada That Saved My Family From a Brutal Dictator?

Today, as I watch and read about Alan Kurdi’s story (and can barely contain my emotions) and learn that millions of Syrians, subjected to the fear, panic, trauma and total helplessness, far worse than Ugandan Asians were ever exposed to, can only be processed to come to Canada at the rate of some 2,000 in five years, I wonder what happened to the Canada that brought me and some 6,000 out of the clutches of a brutal dictator within a matter of days, without subjecting them to a bureaucratic nightmare and years of waiting: WHERE is the Canada that processed and brought in some 60,000 boat people in less than 18 months: WHERE is the compassion and desire to make things happen expeditiously exhibited during the migrations of large numbers of refugees from Hungary and Kosovo…..????


World.Mic – 15 Triumphant Photos Show Thousands of Refugees Being Welcomed Into Germany

This week, more than 7,000 refugees — mainly from war-torn areas in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — were welcomed into Germany as the Hungarian government ejected them from Hungary.

Hungary’s far-right government, which has taken harsh stances towards what it sees as an unwanted mob, took the migrants by bus to Austria, after which the German and Austrian governments received them. Once they had crossed the border into Germany, the Associated Press reports they were greeted with “wholly unexpected hospitality featuring free high-speed trains, seemingly bottomless boxes of supplies, and gauntlets of well-wishers offering trays of candy for everyone and cuddly toys for the tots in mothers’ arms.”

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Harper Watch – August 23 to September 6, 2015






ipolitics – Two dozen secret cabinet decisions hidden from Parliament, Canadians

(What the hell has he signed us up for now? This is truly frightening)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has made more than two dozen secret cabinet decisions, hiding any trace of them from Parliament and Canadians, iPolitics has learned.

A review by iPolitics of more than 21,000 orders-in-council published on the Privy Council’s website since 2004 found that 25 OICs adopted by the Harper government are missing. Only three OICs adopted by the previous Liberal government between 2004 and 2005 aren’t in the database.

Eight orders-in-council issued since last September are missing.

Privy Council officials confirm that the missing OICs are not published, saying they deal with areas such as national security, defence or commercially sensitive information.


Toronto Star – Bad timing: how Canada’s prime minister walked into his own electoral trap

Canada is a genuinely multicultural nation. It’s almost as if Harper wants to win, but only with the votes of people he can stand. However, even those people worry about soaring house prices, lousy interest rates on savings, traffic jams from neglected infrastructure and unemployed children. Canadians are sick of this feeling of rot, this economic precariousness.

Toronto Star – It’s official: Canada’s in a recession and Conservative policies won’t fix it: Editorial

This pointless debate over recession or not-recession should not be allowed to obscure the basic reality lived by most Canadians – that the economy is weak and more of the same from the Conservatives isn’t likely to fix it. This election is essentially about choosing the best alternative to that failed strategy.

Even before Statistics Canada confirmed that the economy had shrunk during the first six months of this year, the Harper government’s track record on growth over the past decade (an average 1.7 per cent per year) was the worst of any government in decades. This isn’t all the government’s fault; the entire developed world has been stuck in low-growth mode for years. But its boast that Canada’s economy is the “envy of the world” looks increasingly hollow; in reality, it is underperforming on key measures that matter most to people, such as creating good, well-paying jobs. Far from leading the pack, Canada ranks in the middle of G7 countries on that score.

ipolitics – Michael Harris: The King of Mean: Harper’s reign of fear continues

It’s not Steve’s fault. It never is. The latest example is duplicity on the PM’s security costs. One answer to Parliament, another to an ATIP request, as brilliantly documented by Elizabeth Thompson of iPolitics. The PMO’s answer: ask the RCMP, not us.

I have it on good authority that Turner, an expert in the highly controversial field of bird migrations, was also recently caught smiling at his desk. There are even nasty rumours circulating that he laughed at the Great Navigator during a clandestine lunch with other seditious critics of the government.

Singing, smiling, laughing? What’s next? Voting against Steve?

ipolitics – Michael Harris: Duffy trial takeaway: The PMO as rogue operation

The most recent evidence of Harper’s unrestrained overreach oozed out of the Duffy trial. Only a leader with a sense of narcissistic exceptionalism could send a senior PMO staffer (and now campaign worker), to engage in a conversation with a sworn witness during a recess at a criminal trial. After all, Harper and his own office are smack in the middle of this evidentiary mud bath. What’s next, a visit to the judge’s chambers?

Sending Nick Koolsbergen to court was not a gaffe. It was not like confusing an Atlantic and Pacific salmon for PR purposes during a political campaign. Whatever its species, this fish stinks from the head. The Globe and Mail described Koolsbergen Does Court with the image of firemen dragging more kindling to the blaze. Nice.

National Observer – Harper’s war with the law

One single email among several hundred entered into evidence at the Duffy trial throws glaring Klieg lights onto the dynamics inside the PMO. It reveals Stephen Harper’s inbred contempt for the rule of law, his own legal advisors, and even the Canadian constitution itself. And it sheds more light on the PM’s disgraceful head-butting last summer of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

Brent Rathgeber – Recession: It Only Matters Politically

By any objective standard, the Canadian economy is under-performing. The government can twist itself into a pretzel explaining that 80% of the economy is functioning but that is irrelevant if the 20% that’s not functioning accounts for shrinkage in economic growth. That’s like saying a  patient is healthy if 80% of his organs are working; if the brain is one of the non-functioning organs, the patient has a problem!

Globe and Mail – At the Duffy trial, the firemen just keeping bringing more kindling

It is unacceptable and unfathomable that a member of the Prime Minister’s Office was seen talking to a sworn witness during a recess at the trial of Mike Duffy in Ottawa this week.

Unacceptable, because Nick Koolsbergen, the director of issues management in the PMO who is currently on leave to work on the Conservative election effort, was allegedly speaking to a witness under oath in a trial that has been politically damaging for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. The perception of irregularity is overwhelming.


CBC News – RCMP database on missing persons is overdue, over budget

An RCMP database on missing persons and unidentified remains, touted by the Harper government in 2010 as “concrete action” for the problem of murdered and missing indigenous women, is still incomplete and far over budget five years after it was announced.

The national database, plagued by technical problems, won’t be fully in place until late 2016 – more than three years after it was supposed to be helping police across Canada solve crimes.

National Observer – Harper’s rosy financial outlook ignores facts

(This is beyond slimy)

Harper has been rewarding senior government bureaucrats in a number of ministries large bonuses – up to 20 per cent of their annual salary – for under-spending their budgets.

Each year government ministries and departments are publicly given a certain amount of money, but that is only a cover story. During the year, much of that money is simply never spent, because these “lapsed funds” are withheld from programs and services Canadian citizens by cost-cutting (and well-rewarded) senior bureaucrats, and then sent back to government coffers.

These reductions are not part of the official government Deficit Reduction Action Plan or DRAP. They are a “stealth campaign” that takes place behind the scenes, out of sight of the House of Commons and the general public.

Huffington Post – Canada To Get More Aggressive Collecting Student Loans, Documents Show

(Meanwhile they cut resources to the CRA department that investigates illegal offshore tax shelters)

The head of one of the country’s largest post-secondary student associations said the documents suggest the federal government appears more interested in image control than dealing with the issue of student debt.

“We’re seeing a government that is more concerned about the public image that comes with these numbers rather than the reality that perhaps these numbers are indicative of a pretty big crisis that needs immediate address,” said Bilan Arte, national chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students.

National Observer – Onion Lake Cree Nation file for UN action against Canada

The Onion Lake Cree Nation has became the first Indigenous group in Canada to file for emergency action from the United Nations concerning the controversial First Nations Financial Transparency Act.

Chief Okimaw Wallace Fox sent a plea to the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination(CERD) on Tuesday asking for international supervision as his community engages the Government of Canada on what he calls a “continued violation of treaty rights.”

“There was never any discussion between our Nations and the Conservative Government,” he said of the bill in his letter to the president of CERD. “The Minister of Indian Affairs is imposing this legislation on First Nations even though its constitutionality is in question before the courts.”


HUFFINGTON POST – Munir Sheikh, Ex-StatsCan Head, Says Harper’s Debt Policies Risk Canada’s Future

“Could it be that our zeal in balancing our government books come hell or high water may be contributing to the buildup of household debt and risking our future economic prospects, as well as the present?” Sheikh asks in his column.

630 CHED Radio – Alberta farmers furious with feds over closure of agriculture archives

The federal government is closing down the Lethbridge Agriculture Canada research station and cataloging some information, but destroying recycling, destroying and getting rid of the info they don’t deem useful.

Farmers in the province are furious at the move. Tony Jaglum, a cattle and grain farmer in Mirror, wonders what information will be kept and what will be destroyed.

“It is very concerning,” explains Jaglum. “Who is deciding what we keep and what will be thrown away? Who is deciding what has value and what should be recycled. I am delighted some things are being digitized but what is happening with the stuff that isn’t digitized.”

CBC NEWS – Document raises questions about Harper retirement policies

Canada scores poorly among developed countries in providing public pensions to seniors, according to an internal analysis of retirement income by the federal government.

And voluntary tax-free savings accounts or TFSAs, introduced by the Harper Conservatives in 2009, are so far unproven as a retirement solution and are largely geared to the wealthy.

Those are some highlights of a broad review of Canada’s retirement income system ordered by the Privy Council Office and completed in March this year by the Finance Department, with input from several other departments.


The Tyee – ‘You Have Forgotten’: Seven Conservative Attacks on Canada’s Veterans

Last year retired general Rick Hillier, the former head of the Canadian Military, spoke about high rates of suicide and mental anguish among Canadian soldiers returning home:

“I do not think we had any idea the scale and scope of what the impact would be. I truly do not. This is beyond a medical issue. I think many of our young men and women have lost confidence in our country to support them.”

And why would they not, given the callousness of the Harper government? In the past decade Conservatives closed offices, cut 900 jobs, clawed back benefits, killed lifetime pensions for Afghanistan veterans, and failed to spend $1.13 billion of the Veterans Affairs budget but found money to increase advertising and ceremonies for politicians to honour veterans.

Here are seven ways the Harper government has waged war on its own veterans.


National Observer – Re-open criminal investigation and question Harper, says policing expert

The evidence that has come from Perrin indicates expanded avenues that warrant re-investigation of Senators Tkachuk, Stewart-Olsen, Gerstein and LeBreton. I think they would all have to be re-interviewed based on that testimony.

I would be further investigating Wright, Novak and the others in the PMO for breach of trust, possibly perjury and whatever other charges I found appropriate in the Criminal Code. I’d bring them all back in for interviews to investigate further.

The prime minister needs to be interviewed at this point, too, given Perrin’s evidence.

CBC News – Chris Woodcock, ex-PMO aide, says he didn’t know Wright repaid Duffy’s expenses

Mike Duffy’s lawyer battled it out in court today with a former senior staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office over his insistence that he never a read a line in an email from Nigel Wright that said he had personally repaid the senator’s expenses.

The claim by Chris Woodcock, a former director of issues management, was similar to one recently made by Stephen Harper’s campaign team. They said Ray Novak, Harper’s current chief of staff, also never read an email sent to him by Wright on March 22, 2013, saying he had paid for Duffy.

“Your claim is just like Ray Novak’s,” Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne said. “‘Gee, I got the email. It’s only to me. But golly I never read it.'”

Nick Koolsbergen, PMO Issues Management Director, Seen Chatting With Woodcock

OTTAWA — What to make of a senior member of Stephen Harper’s staff chatting with a witness in the courtroom corridors of the politically charged trial of Mike Duffy?

The Conservative campaign said Wednesday it couldn’t speculate on what current director of issues management Nick Koolsbergen was saying to his predecessor Chris Woodcock, who was in the midst of testimony in the Ontario Court of Justice.



Globe and Mail -‘Harperman’ singer investigated for alleged conflict of interest

An Environment Canada scientist is under investigation for allegedly breaching the public service code of ethics by writing and performing a political song that criticizes the Harper government.

Tony Turner, a physical scientist who most recently was working on a study of migratory birds, has been put on administrative leave with pay over allegations that his participation in his song Harperman puts him in a conflict of interest, the union representing him said.

The Beaverton – Thousands of public servants test positive for opinions

OTTAWA — According to a report by the Conservative government, over 12,000 federal public servants have tested positive for opinions.

All civil servants must be tested for all forms of viewpoints every month and at random times to ensure no political bias interferes with their work.

“We are rigorously investigating all of these employees,” said Minister of Employment Pierre Poilievre, Chairperson of the House of Commons Committee on un-Canadian activities. “Canadians are threatened by public servants under the influence of dangerous critical thought and rationalism. We must drive these radical thinkers out of Ottawa!”


The Guardian – Canada’s prime minister wants to make it harder for people to vote against him

Acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood faced censorship in the national press late last week for her satirical take on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hair. It might have been a rather amusing episode if it wasn’t symptomatic of darker, Orwellian trends that have marked Harper’s nine years in office.

Stephen Marche’s article in the New York Times mid-month does an excellent job of summarizing how Harper has pulled tight the reins of power, stifled criticism and eroded the freedoms of Canadians. But it is in the prime minister’s assaults on the most fundamental of democratic acts, a citizen’s right to vote, that Harper’s lust for control finds its most disturbing outlet.

ipolitics – Finance minister ‘missing in action’ as Canada officially in recession

Statistics Canada released data on Tuesday showing the country is in a recession but Finance Minister Joe Oliver is nowhere to be found on the issue.

Canada’s economy shrank 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2015, at an annualized decline of 0.5 per cent, after a 0.2 per cent contraction in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of negative growth mark a recession.

Globe and Mail – Our economic problems run deeper than brief dips in GDP

With Tuesday’s release of quarterly GDP data, Statistics Canada confirmed that Canada fell into recession in the first half of the year. Canada’s economy (adjusted for inflation) shrank slightly in the spring (for the second quarter in a row), hence meeting economists’ traditional definition of the dreaded “R”-word. It is likely to be short and shallow, a far cry from the global conflagration of 2008-09. But a recession it certainly is. Coming six years into a lacklustre recovery (the weakest since the Second World War), weary Canadians probably question whether the last recession ever really ended.

Ottawa Citizen – Only a handful of Conservative candidates agree to interview requests

Only 18 Conservatives seeking election across the country responded favourably to requests for interviews made by the Citizen to determine whether the party has truly clamped down on candidates’ availability to the media.

The Citizen emailed interview requests to 318 nominated candidates who are listed on the Conservative Party website.

Ten candidates declined the request outright while the vast majority — 84 per cent — did not respond in any way.

Toronto Star – Tory candidates told to avoid debates, media during campaign

Conservatives running in the federal election have been advised not to attend all-candidates’ meetings or speak to reporters during the campaign, a party source says.

A Conservative insider said Wednesday that most of Stephen Harper’s flag-bearers have “been told no debates and no media.”

The informal edict appears to affect Tory candidates across the country, which explains why so many press interviews are being rebuffed.

“They’re getting pulled out of everything,” the source said, noting even some experienced cabinet ministers are being instructed to avoid candidates’ forums before the Oct. 19 election.

Vice – If We Want to Ask Stephen Harper Questions, We Have to Give His Party $78,000

“Go write a story about it.”

That’s the advice I was given by Conservative communications apparatchik Kory Teneycke when I complained about their arbitrary limit on who gets to ask questions of Stephen Harper.

“It’s not arbitrary,” he told me.

Judge for yourself.


Globe and Mail (2009) – Expert contradicts Harper’s claim about Cadman tape

 (Let the lying and cheating begin!)

An expert opinion filed in court contradicts Stephen Harper’s claim that an author altered a taped interview with the Conservative Leader to unfairly characterize a financial offer to dying MP Chuck Cadman, a lawyer for the Liberal Party of Canada says.

The micro-cassette of the author’s interview with Mr. Harper was not altered, except for an over-recording starting at 1 minute 41 seconds, says the court-filed analysis by a former FBI sound expert retained by the Tories.

Toronto Star (2012) – All meetings with RCMP must be approved by Conservatives, documents show

OTTAWA—The federal Conservatives are directly exerting strict communications control over the RCMP and its new top cop, documents obtained by the Star reveal.

Public Safety documents released under Access to Information show that top political staff of Minister Vic Toews oversaw and approved the design of the new RCMP communications protocol that put the national police force on a tighter leash.

As the Star first reported, that protocol requires the RCMP to flag anything that might “garner national media attention” to Public Safety Canada.

New documents show that Toews’ office had a direct hand in crafting the policy, working with the RCMP’s new public affairs director — Daniel Lavoie — a former associate assistant deputy minister in Toews’ department.

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

Harper Watch – July 13 to August 22, 2015


National Post – John Robson: I can’t vote for the Harper Conservatives. I just can’t

Elections are such infuriating spectacles that sometimes one doesn’t know which obscenity to utter first. But I’ve decided to aim my initial outburst at the Harper Tories.

I cannot vote for them. I just can’t. They should be my natural choice but their coarse, vindictive, proudly unprincipled cynicism must not be rewarded with electoral success, regardless of the consequences.

Let’s start with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first major campaign pledge: to make the home renovation tax credit permanent if he is reelected. If it were economics, it would clearly be bad economics, aiming to “stimulate” one of the few sectors of the economy doing so well it already has the government worried about a bubble.

New York Times – The Closing of the Canadian Mind

Americans have traditionally looked to Canada as a liberal haven, with gun control, universal health care and good public education.

But the nine and half years of Mr. Harper’s tenure have seen the slow-motion erosion of that reputation for open, responsible government. His stance has been a know-nothing conservatism, applied broadly and effectively. He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Conservative Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance.

Halifax Herald – SURETTE: Harper banks on the distracted to pursue destructive spree

This is not an election like any other. What’s at stake is nothing less than the integrity of Canada’s most fundamental features — the justice system, the electoral system, the public service, the tax system and Parliament itself — all of which Harper has relentlessly assaulted and would complete the job of reducing to his personal playthings if only enough people could be kept deep enough in the dark to give him one more majority.

ipolitics – Michael Harris: What Would Harper Do? Anything he wants, mostly.

Just when I thought I’d seen everything … along comes ‘Jesus’ Harper.

Not that the Cons haven’t made more than a few strange jumps in recent weeks. Dumping the traditional television debates. Agreeing to keep Elizabeth May from alternative debate venues like the Munk School (the Harper government gave that group $9 million in federal funding; I’m sure there’s no connection). Proclaiming that we haven’t slipped into another recession — even though we have. Retaining sanctions against Iran, yet still hoping for some of the Ayatollah’s business. All gobsmacking stuff.

But comparing Stephen Harper to Jesus? Even John Lennon would have to admit that’s a little weird.

ipolitics – Micheal Harris: Message management in the Harper PMO: replacing one lie with another

As Harper’s own information commissioner told me as I was writing my book on the Harper government, Party of One, the PM is not an honourable gentlemen in the traditions of the Westminster parliamentary model. Robert Marleau said that Harper had abused his absolute power absolutely. And despite making a lot of promises about renewing accountability and transparency in government, he said, Harper had done “nothing” to advance those issues.

The Harper Decade – Pam Palmater: Harper’s 10 Year War on First Nations

In ten short years, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has set the relationship with First Nations back a hundred years. While all past governments have had a hand in the colonization and oppression of First Nations, the Harper government stands out as one of the most racist and aggressive governments that First Nations have had to work with in many generations. His government’s pattern of victim-blaming, racist stereotyping, and using misinformation to vilify First Nations leaders in the media has led even the most reserved voices at the United Nations to conclude that Harper’s actions have put “social peace” at risk. It should be no surprise, then, that Idle No More, representing the largest, most coordinated social protest movement in Canada, arose during Harper’s regime.

Halifax Herald News – Harry Leslie Smith: Harper government ‘risk to our civilized society’

At 92 years old, Harry Leslie Smith has seen it all.

He rummaged through garbage to find food during the Great Depression. He worked for pennies at just seven years old. He fought for Great Britain in the Second World War, and he immigrated to Canada with little more than the clothes on his back.

He witnessed the rise of democracy, freedom, social justice and the welfare state. But now, in his opinion, he’s witnessing its decline.

“I should be able to look back and see great social progress since I was born,” he said. “But I don’t.”

Globe and Mail – Mark Mackinnon: I am Canadian – but now not as much as I used to be

On Monday, I lost my right to vote in the next federal election. So did some 1.4 million other Canadians, many of whom moved abroad to pursue their careers.

They are aid workers, teachers, business people, entertainers. More than a few names on Canada’s Walk of Fame were just deprived of part of their Canadian-ness because they followed their careers across a border.

Section Three of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms reads: “Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons.” It follows that those of us without a right to vote feel a little less like citizens now.

Brent Rathgeber, MP – Christmas in July or just the end of Principled Conservatism?

There was a time when Conservatives would scoff at, or at least be embarrassed by, a huge expenditure, especially those considered to be an aggregate of the welfare state. However, I truthfully cannot remember when that might have been. After seven consecutive deficit budgets, adding over $200 billion to the national debt, including the single largest deficit in Canadian history, this Conservative Government is clearly not embarrassed by spending taxpayers’ dollars in large quantities.

However, you would think that there would remain some principled elements within the Conservative Party, who would see through the blatant and shameless self-promotion of having the minister wear a partisan branded shirt, having other ministers fan out all across the country to make comparable announcements, all on the eve of a national election, in which the polls, although tight, show the Conservatives trailing. Apparently, not.

The Star – Harper abandons openness with latest nomination to Supreme Court: Editorial

The Supreme Court of Canada has never been so important, regularly challenging the federal government on key issues and carving out a bigger role for itself in our national life.

Yet, with the appointment of Justice Russell Brown of Alberta to the top court, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has abandoned any pretence of openness and accountability in the process of selecting the country’s most senior judges.

For the third successive time, Harper has simply announced his choice, reverting to the old practice of making Supreme Court appointments the sole prerogative of the prime minister. This is perfectly legal – but it runs counter to a decade of attempts by all parties to make appointments more transparent, and to what the Conservatives themselves committed to doing in the early days of their government.

Toronto Star – Why Harper (and friends) are a bigger threat than IS: Burman

After all, the formula is simple: Wildly exaggerate the actual threat. Inflame the rhetoric. Blame Muslims. Brush aside issues of human rights. And strap in — while the votes flow your way. It is a clever way to distract voters from more immediate and genuine threats, such as climate change and the economy.

Alternet – A Little Dubya Up in Canada: 70 Ways Prime Minister Harper Has Assaulted Democracy

Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have racked up dozens of serious abuses of power since forming government in 2006. From scams to smears to monkey-wrenching opponents to intimidating public servants, some offences are criminal, others just offend human decency.



Vancouver Observer – DUFFY TRIAL: Former PMO lawyer bucks Harper on Senate residency rules

A UBC law professor who was the former lawyer for the Prime Minister’s Office says he was taken aback when Stephen Harper insisted that owning $4,000 worth of property in a province was enough to qualify a person to represent it in the Senate.

Benjamin Perrin began his testimony Thursday at Mike Duffy’s fraud, breach of trust and bribery trial, where the Crown took him through early PMO discussions around Duffy’s contentious Senate expenses.

Globe and Mail – Former PMO lawyer says he believed Harper knew about Wright’s Duffy deal

Former PMO lawyer Ben Perrin said he believed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had personally approved the elements of a deal with Mike Duffy, which included having the Conservative Party “keep him whole” on some of the senator’s questioned expenses.

Mr. Perrin said he thought that was the case because of an e-mail from Nigel Wright, then Mr. Harper’s chief of staff, which said they were “good to go” from the PM on the deal. “My understanding from that e-mail was that the Prime Minister himself had approved the five points…” Mr. Perrin said.

Globe and Mail – Duffy trial cuts to heart of the PMO

The Mike Duffy trial is proving to have significant public value. With the thousands of e-mails tabled, it opens a window on the operation of the Prime Minister’s Office. It’s not as good as an oral record like the Nixon White House tapes. But it’s the next best thing.

Serial abuses of power are something that have long been suspected of Stephen Harper’s team. They’ve been written about in books and articles by some journalists starting many years ago. Other scribes have pooh-poohed the notion, saying it’s being too tough on the Conservative Leader. But with the text traffic, we get harder evidence of some of the activities. A trove of exhibit A’s.

Ottawa Citizen – Harper’s chief Novak knew about secret Mike Duffy payment, court hears

Stephen Harper’s long-time close adviser, Ray Novak, knew from the outset about a plan by former chief of staff Nigel Wright to secretly pay $90,000 to cover Sen. Mike Duffy’s controversial Senate expenses, it was alleged at Duffy’s trial Tuesday.

Novak, through a Conservative Party spokesman, has denied knowing about the payment before it became general public knowledge. Harper has also repeatedly said that he himself was unaware of the payment, and that he fired Wright after he found out about it.

National Observer – Why Harper’s ‘base’ is frantic about the Duffy trial

When an aggressive pre-screened Conservative supporter (wearing buttons for Ted Opitz and good old Doug Ford) verbally assaulted several reporters outside a Toronto Conservative rally on Aug. 18, it was a clear indication of cracking nerves among the support circle that have bet their fortune (some literally) on the continuation of Stephen Harper’s regime.

But there’s a clear driver to this scenario: Stephen Harper’s overall style and behaviour.

Buzzfeed – A Secret Internal Memo Shows Stephen Harper’s Office Wanted Complete Control Of The Senate

“What we have discovered is that the lines of communication and levers that are available to us on the House side, simply are not in place on the Senate side,” Wright says. “It was quickly apparent that Senator LeBreton’s office had little influence over what other Senators did and said, and limited reach into the Senate caucus generally.”

“Consistently, Senator LeBreton does not embrace the work of your office to bring communication and direction with the Senate closer to the model that we have with the House Leader and Chief Government Whip.”



Globe and Mail – Downturn bad news for Harper with federal election looming

Three months from an election, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has delivered an economic assessment that can rile Stephen Harper’s political election plans: It raises the prospect that the country is in recession, and that the federal budget surplus has turned to deficit.

It’s not just that the economy is so surprisingly weak that Mr. Poloz announced another interest-rate cut, the second this year. But that move, and the report that accompanied it, spread the notion of a worrying, across-the-economy stall, and undermined some of the symbols that the Prime Minister uses to bolster his most prized political asset: his reputation as an economic manager.

Huffington Post – NDP, Liberals Want Joe Oliver To Appear Before House Finance Committee

OTTAWA — The opposition parties want to call Finance Minister Joe Oliver before a parliamentary committee for an emergency meeting to discuss the weakening of the Canadian economy and the government’s plans to return to a balanced budget.



Ottawa Citizen – Veterans Affairs failing to answer phone calls quickly: Documents

Veterans Affairs Canada has been struggling to answer the thousands of phone calls it receives from current and former military personnel each month because of technical glitches, staff shortages and poor planning, newly released documents show.

Problems with the processing of new disability claims from injured ex-soldiers have also had a trickle-down effect by creating delays in other areas, meaning more veterans are waiting longer to receive support from the government.

The Tyee – Vets Shut Out of Harper Event at Legion Hall

A group of Canadian military veterans said they were denied access to a Stephen Harper event held at a legion in New Brunswick Monday morning.

Fabian Henry of the organization Marijuana for Trauma said that he and six other veterans heard Sunday night that Conservative leader Harper and Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole were coming to the No. 4 Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Fredericton.

His organization has four branches across the country. It is run by veterans aiming to help vets with post-traumatic stress disorder ease their pain with marijuana treatment.

Henry rounded up some other veterans, most of whom served in Afghanistan, and headed to the event to “shake a hand or do something to talk about veterans affairs issues.”

But when they arrived, some “guys in suits” said that was out of the question.



Maclean’s – At one federal department, office pals are risky business

Last month, employees of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) were asked to fill out and sign a confidential conflict-of-interest document, part of a new code-of-conduct protocol that includes a mandatory training session and meeting with a manager. In itself, this is not unusual. Employers routinely require staff to disclose potential conflicts—financial or personal—that could compromise their ability to do their jobs.

What makes the 17-page “Employee Confidentiality Report” obtained by Maclean’sunique is that it classifies the civil servants’ behaviours—both on and off the job—by “categories of risk”: Red signals “high risk” of conflict of interest, yellow “moderate risk” and green “low or no risk.” The colour-coded model mirrors the terrorism threat-advisory scale created by U.S. Homeland Security after 9/11—except that the threat levels here apply to civil servants, many of them scientists, working for a federal department that oversees Canada’s earth sciences, minerals and metals, forests and energy, and identifies its vision as: “Improving the quality of life of Canadians by creating a sustainable resource advantage.”

ipolitics – Conservatives’ assisted suicide panel stacked with vocal opponents

After five months of glacial inaction in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s one-year deadline to establish protocols and guidelines for physician-assisted suicide, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has appointed a three-member panel to canvas Canadian opinion on facilitated final exits.

But two of the three members of the panels were interveners for the federal government during the Supreme Court hearing in in Carter et al. v. Attorney General of Canada and have been “among the most vocal opponents of physician-assisted dying in Canada,” so the exercise is “neither fair nor non-partisan,” charges Dying with Dignity Canada CEO Wanda Morris.

National Observer – ‘Bill C-51? Disgusting!’ Journalists and CCLA launch Bill C-51 challenge

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) launched a Charter Challenge against C-51 at the Ontario Superior Court this week, on the grounds that certain sections were unjustified in a democratic society. The two groups filed their challenge just weeks after the Anti-terrorism Act came into force on June 18 despite a widespread popular outcry.

“It’s disgusting, it’s enraging, it’s frightening. Rights aren’t taken away by the swinging of an axe, it is by teaspoon,” Tom Henheffer, executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expressiom said.

National Observer – Another federal scientist fired in Harper’s ongoing war on science

As a researcher, I have been following with great interest and deep unease the ongoing story of the federal government’s fight to prevent federal scientists from freely sharing the results of their work.

This government has used a culture of fear— achieved by de-funding, and the strategic dismissal of key leaders— as a means to suppress the flow of information from federal scientists. This ‘muzzling’ of researchers has been noticed in Canada and indeed around the world.

It has even, astonishingly, become an election issue. When was science ever an election issue? Never before to the best of my knowledge — which shows how bad the situation really is.

For all of these reasons, I was highly suspicious, and unfortunately not the least bit surprised, to learn that Dr. John Wilmshurst, Resource Conservation Manager for one of Canada’s most precious natural resources, Jasper National Park, had been fired.

CBC Radio – Stephen Harper ‘gaming the system’ with early election call, says former Elections Canada head

The former head of Elections Canada says Prime Minister Stephen Harper is “gaming the system” with an early election call and the result is parties with less money are politically disadvantaged.

“What it does is completely distort everything we’ve ever fought for, everything we’ve established as rules,” Jean-Pierre Kingsley said in an interview on CBC Radio’s The House.

 CBC News – Cuts to MD/PhD funding greeted with ‘horror’ by medical scientists

Canada’s medical research community is reacting with shock and disappointment to the cancellation of a 30-year program to train doctors who see patients and work as scientists searching for new treatments.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is the federal government’s major health science research organization. Its MD/PhD program was launched in the 1980s out of concern over the lack of specialists who could move easily between the lab and hospital.

Ottawa Citizen – Robocalls registry will stay secret until after vote

(How convenient…)

The names of more than 150 registrants listed on the much-vaunted “robocalls registry,” intended to prevent fraudulent calls to voters, will be kept secret until after the federal election.

The Conservative government created the Voter Contact Registry last year as part of the Fair Elections Act, in response to outrage over pre-recorded calls in Guelph that directed voters to the wrong polling location in the 2011 election.

The registry is now up and running but voters will have no way of consulting it to see if the calls they receive are legitimate until at least a month after the Oct. 19 election.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commissions (CRTC), which administers the registry, says it is prevented by law from disclosing the registry until 30 days after balloting.

“As the timing of the publication of the registration notices is specifically set out in the Fair Elections Act, the decision to publish the list after the elections was made by Parliament,” wrote spokesperson Patricia Valladao in an email.

National Post – Staff convinced a seething Stephen Harper not to launch full-on public assault on Supreme Court: new book

“The nadir of Stephen Harper’s prime ministership came not during the Senate expenses scandal, but in the spring of 2014, when he got himself into a very public dust-up with Beverley McLachlin,” writes Ibbitson.

Harper alleged that McLachlin tried to interfere in the appointment of Federal Court Judge Marc Nadon to the top court — an allegation she denied and which drew broad support from the legal community.

Ibbitson writes that Harper’s criticism of the chief justice set a “dangerous precedent” and now ranks as one of his “most discreditable acts” as prime minister.

“Not only did he lose the fight; he tarnished his reputation and damaged what should be the sacrosanct separation of powers between executive and judiciary.”



Globe and Mail – Government favours infrastructure projects to Conservative ridings

The federal government has funnelled 83 per cent of the projects under its signature infrastructure fund to Conservative-held ridings, according to an analysis by The Globe and Mail of the announcements made to date.

The New Building Canada Fund was first announced in the 2013 budget, but it has only been within the past few weeks – on the eve of the federal election campaign – that specific announcements have started to flow at a steady pace.

National Observer – Why is Joe Oliver seeking economic advice from a scandal-plagued corporate honcho?

Is Canada’s finance minister, Joe Oliver, seeking economic advice from a scandal-plagued corporate honcho?

Oliver, who is also MP for the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, can’t be a happy man these days: Canada has slipped into recession again, blowing a hole in his hopes of balancing the government’s budget for the first time since 2007.

But Oliver’s mishandling of the economy might not be a surprise given the quality of the some of the people he relies on for advice – such as Rebecca MacDonald, founder and executive chair of Just Energy Group Inc., a $3.9-billion Toronto-based energy marketing company. Oliver appointed MacDonald to his Economic Advisory Council last summer.

Yet MacDonald is also a highly controversial figure within the business world, overseeing a company that is regularly pilloried for its unethical behaviour. “I am baffled by both the Oliver appointment and the (CP Rail) governance position,” says Dr. Al Rosen, one of Canada’s leading forensic accountants who’s investigated Just Energy and MacDonald.



Huffington Post – Tories’ Overhaul Of Refugee System Suffers New Blow From Federal Court

OTTAWA — The charter rights of refugee applicants are being violated by a process that marginalizes, prejudices and stereotypes them based on where they are from, the Federal Court ruled Thursday in another blow to the Conservative government’s overhaul of the refugee system.

By denying applicants from designated countries of origin the right to appeal when their claims are rejected, the government violates equality rights enshrined in the charter, Justice Keith Boswell said.

National Observer – Conservative insider won huge contract to build Harper’s Arctic project

A hugely expensive public contract to build an Arctic research station —promoted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper —went to a joint venture that included a company run by a Conservative Party insider with close ties to Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the National Observer has confirmed.

An $85-million construction contract to build the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) was awarded in June 2013 to a partnership between EllisDon and NCC Dowland Construction —the latter is controlled by a prominent Iqaluit businessman, Greg Cayen, who has been a key planner behind Leona Aglukkaq’s two federal election victories.

Vancouver Observer – BURNED! Media mocks Harper appearance at BC wildfire

Local media in B.C.’s Thompson Okanagan region scorched Stephen Harper on Thursday. As fire-fighters battling a wildfire near Kelowna were interrupted for a photo-op with the prime minister and Premier Christy Clark, Infonews.ca published a story under the headline “Man in blue suit thanks firefighters”.

Declining to cover the prime minister’s appearance as a straightforward news story, reporter Adam Proskiw instead reported on the disruption caused to firefighters by political appearances.



Toronto Star – A Conservative collection of Harper government scandals

(Note they say “a few”)

OTTAWA—Here are a few of the scandals and controversies that Stephen Harper has weathered since his Conservative government took office in 2006.

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