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.

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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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Harper Watch – June 13 to July 12, 2015


Voices/Voix – Dismantling Democracy
Stifiling Debate and Dissent in Canada


National Observer – Bill McKibben: “Canada is an obstructive and dangerous force upon the planet”

The legacy of Stephen Harper’s government is a disregard for the environment, McKibben said in conversation with the National Observer in late June.

“From a distance, watching the trashing of environmental regulations; watching the efforts to intimidate environmental groups, First Nations – watching all that’s been pretty sad,” McKibben said.

“People in the world are used to thinking of Canada as a force for good in the world. It takes a strange new calibration of peoples’ mental geography to understand for the moment Canada is an obstructive and dangerous force upon the planet.”

The Tyee – How Harper Put Canada Massively in the Red

In the run up to the 2015 federal election, the Harper government will try to convince Canadians that the prime minister and his crew have been excellent managers of the Canadian economy and that only they are capable of delivering the same stellar results in the future. Heading into this election, they had intended to present a balanced federal budget as proof of their sound stewardship. But as I write this in spring 2015, the latest projections are that the Harper government will have difficulty delivering the long-promised surplus this year. Thanks to the precipitous fall in oil prices and revenues, the government’s budgetary watchdog, Mostafa Askari, estimated a deficit as high as $1.2 billion for this year, and as much as $400 million the year following.

The Star – Rona Ambrose needs to chill out over reefer brownies: Editorial

Good grief. What on earth has federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose been nibbling? Steroid-laced Alberta cheeseburgers? She certainly hasn’t been chowing down on soothing cannabis cookies.

Her dyspeptic reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling this past week legalizing reefer brownies and Mary Jane tisanes raised more eyebrows than a whiff of skunk at a church picnic. It came across like a spasm of ‘roid rage. Or a bit of self-serving Conservative political posturing in the run-up to a federal election.

ipolitics – Michael Harris: C-51 will remake Canada in Harper’s paranoid image
“What this legislation creates is a modern-day Gestapo,” Galati said. “No exaggeration, that’s what it creates. It chills, censors and criminalizes free speech, free association and constitutional rights of assembly. It takes all your private information and shares it with all government agencies, including foreign governments …”

Toronto Star – ‘Government by photo op’: How Stephen Harper froze out Ottawa’s press corps

In this excerpt from his book Spinning History, veteran Star journalist Les Whittington describes how the PMO has limited journalists’ access and turned the government into a tightly controlled message machine.

ipolitics – The Federal Court doesn’t trust Harper. Does anyone?

If the Conservatives have anything to say about it, the coming election will be about trust. They’ll tell us Justin Trudeau is too callow to be trusted with power, that Tom Mulcair can’t be trusted not to sink the treasury by spending his way to a socialist utopia. And so on.

As campaign themes go, it’s a good one — or would be, were it not for the fact that inspiring ‘trust’ isn’t exactly Stephen Harper’s thing. A decade in power left a lot of bodies under the party bus. And now, one of Canada’s highest courts has signalled that it doesn’t really trust the prime minister either.

iPolitics – We’re a nation desperately in need of a Magna Carta moment

On June 15, 1215, King John sealed the document known as the Magna Carta at Runnymede. He didn’t really have much of a choice; the alternative would have been a rebellion by the barons against his lawless, arbitrary and corrupt use of the Crown’s power — particularly in the area of taxation.  In doing so he set a legal precedent that changed the world overnight: even kings have to obey the law. That concept — the rule of law, not kings — has formed the bedrock of free societies for the past 800 years. Which is why it seems so strange to have to debate the principle again in the democratic West, in Canada, in 2015.

And yet, in the actions of the Harper government we see all too many instances of powerful people trying to set themselves above the law. How else can one read an attempt by the government to hide inside a massive omnibus budget bill a law that would retroactively invalidate an investigation into unlawful conduct by the RCMP — an attempt to re-write the application of the law in the past?…..

That’s how it starts. When a government’s abuse of power is laughed off as a “loophole”, a mere detail, we’re watching the foundations being laid for arbitrary government — for government operating outside the rule of law. The kind of government the Magna Carta was supposed to free us from.

iPolitics – Harper and Islam: Panic, pander, then repeat

Well, this was special. Stephen Harper took a short break from slinging muck at Justin Trudeau’s perfect hair this week to do a little pre-writ campaigning alongside (drumroll, please) Muslim-Canadians.

There he was, front-centre, flanked by two big Canadian flags and surrounded by a rather underwhelmed-looking group of Muslim-Canadians at 24 Sussex Drive to break the Ramadan fast on Monday.

Harper and his faithful sidekick, Jason Kenney (one of the dwindling number of cabinet ministers who haven’t quit on him yet), insisted that the unusual gathering had everything to do with family, nothing to with politics. Which, I guess, explains why the guest list included three Muslim candidates who will be running for the Conservatives in Ontario and Quebec in the coming election.

VICE – Justin Ling: Journalists Are Banned from Stephen Harper’s Events and It’s Stupid Nonsense

I’ve driven a half hour to go to an event with Harper in the hopes that I might be bestowed the grand honour of asking the Exalted One a question (I wanted to know why we weren’t providing weapons to our Kurdish allies). But after hearing a 20-minute speech, I had a friendly PMO staffer instruct me that I was to leave. I tried to resist—I slipped off my bright-red “MEDIA” badge—only to be confronted by security a hot second later. I was escorted from the school gymnasium.


CTV News – Shoal Lake residents weep as feds balk at funding road construction
(No words…)
Although two provincial governments and the City of Winnipeg have committed to build an estimated $30-million road linking a Manitoba first nation to the outside world, the federal government will only commit to studying the project.


A disgraceful attempt to attack Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau yet again shows the questionable judgement of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. Controversial Bill C-51 has now become law and gives CSIS new powers to spy on individual Canadians and revoke terrorist propaganda. However, the Conservatives have decided in a pre-electoral ad to use ISIS propaganda as a backdrop to smear Trudeau.


CTV News – Court filing alleges Conservative duplicity in handling of gun registry data

Newly released court documents allege the Conservative government pressured RCMP bureaucrats to purge long-gun registry data, even while assuring the Information Commissioner they would follow a law requiring the preservation of records.

An affidavit filed by Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault includes emails she wrote to then-Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on April 13, 2012, after the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act passed in the Senate.

ipolitics – Lawyers, guns and liars: Stephen Harper’s stunning contempt for the law

But the allegation leveled against the government this week regarding the destruction of the long gun registry data ought to be a game-changer. The Information Commissioner’s office accuses the Public Safety minister’s office, senior RCMP officers and the PMO of pressuring RCMP officers to break the law.

CTV News – Ottawa hasn’t said where most of $7-million ‘Celebrate Canada’ fund spent

The government has doled out some $7 million to small cities and towns to help pay for Canada Day celebrations, but the department in charge has only disclosed details about a fraction of that spending.

And although the money is meant to help Canadians celebrate the red and white, it appears — based on what little information the government has released — that a lot of it goes to ridings that are Tory blue.

Financial Post – Canada’s economy shrinks for fourth month, raising spectre of recession
(Joe Oliver says it ain’t so….shades of 2006?)

Canada’s economy began the second quarter of 2015 the same way it finished the previous three-month period, continuing to contract as the collapse of oil prices squeezed output in the energy sector and the hoped-for turnaround in manufacturing again failed to materialize.


rabble.ca – New report scorches Harper’s record on democracy

A new report called Dismantling Democracy should be compulsory reading for all Canadian voters before the next election.

It gives chapter and verse on the Harper government’s multi-pronged efforts to stifle not only legitimate dissent and free speech, but even freedom of thought.

CBC News – Canada’s foreign aid commitment to contraception low despite great need
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada’s commitment to maternal, newborn and child health five years ago, one of the first questions to him and then-international development minister Bev Oda was whether that would include family planning and abortion. It took Oda months to confirm that Canada would indeed allow its $2.85 billion in funding to be used for contraceptives. Abortion, however, was out of the question.

But in practice, only 1.4 per cent of Canada’s funding under the Muskoka Initiative — the name attached to the five-year plan to provide more money to save the lives of women and children — has gone to birth control. That works out to about four per cent of overall international aid provided by Canada.

Huffington Post – Canada’s Human Rights Record Under UN Review For First Time Since 2006

Canada’s human rights record will be under the microscope at the United Nations this week in the first substantive review since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power in 2006.

Several of the country’s most high-profile advocacy groups are in Geneva to participate in UN Human Rights Committee hearings over a three-day period. Among them is Canada Without Poverty, an Ottawa-based charity that leans on using human rights and international law to advocate for impoverished and homeless Canadians.

CBC News – UN Human Rights Committee grills Canada over mining, aboriginal treatment

The committee asked Canada to provide answers to 24 separate questions about how it implements the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — including how it monitors the human rights conduct of Canadian resource companies operating abroad, some of which face lawsuits alleging abuses.

“Please inform the committee of any measures taken or envisaged to monitor the human rights conduct of Canadian oil, mining and gas companies operating abroad,” said the list of issues given by the committee to Canada last fall in preparation for Tuesday’s testimony.

“Please also inform what the available legal venues are in the state party for victims of human rights abuses arising from overseas operations of Canadian extractive firms.”

Laurie Wright, the senior Justice Department official who led Canada’s delegation, did not address the issue in her six-page opening statement.

Huffington Post – Shane Koyczan Refuses To Perform ‘We Are More’ This Canada Day
“I’m not sure what country I’m looking at anymore. A country that labels Canadians as second class citizens. A country that kills its research and gags its scientists. A country that refuses to take a serious look into missing aboriginals despite being the same country that killed First Nations children in residential schools…”

Koyczan says his Canada Day will be on election day, which falls on Oct. 19.

CUFCW – Cindy Blackstock awarded $20,000 in human rights ruling against Harper Government

Ottawa – June 20, 2015 – Dr. Cindy Blackstock, an Aboriginal child welfare advocate and President of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, has been vindicated by a recent ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which found that a federal government official “retaliated” against her for advocating views that are contrary to those of the Harper Government.


CTV News – Latest Conservative ad could violate government’s own anti-terror law

A new Conservative attack ad takes aim at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s position on the mission against the Islamic State, but it uses the terrorist group’s own horrifying propaganda images.

In the online ad, posted on the Conservative Party’s Facebook page, Trudeau is shown in a CBC interview saying he would end the CF-18 bombing campaign against the terrorist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

The ad uses Islamic State propaganda, including gruesome images of prisoners facing death by drowning and beheading — and those images may actually violate the government’s own anti-terror law.

Global News – Conservatives spend almost $7M defending unconstitutional legislation

The Harper Conservatives have spent no less than $6.5 million defending high profile and contentious pieces of legislation ultimately deemed unconstitutional, recently disclosed documents show.

But that sum only tells the beginning of the story, said one criminal defence lawyer.

The $6.5 million price tag was arrived at after Liberal MP Scott Simms asked six ministers to release how much they’d spent fighting 16 specific constitutional court challenges.

National Post – Did the $2B federal infrastructure fund (the one you saw all the ads for) end up going to places that didn’t qualify?

A $2-billion federal infrastructure fund at the centre of the Conservative government’s 2009 Economic Action Plan was allotted to municipalities in select areas of the country with little apparent oversight, regulation, auditing or attempt to disperse the monies evenly across Canada…..

Now it appears some investments went to Ontario municipalities that didn’t appear to qualify under the terms of the program. The small community of Blind River received a $49.5 million loan, even after Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing warned the municipality that it could not handle the payments.

Blind River is a town of 3,500 with annual revenues of $8 million. According to the municipality’s own filings with the provincial government, Blind River had tangible assets of just $52 million in 2010. The town’s modest financial situation has led some to wonder how it could have qualified for a CMHC loan of almost $50 million that required repayments of almost $4 million a year.

CBC News – Dean Del Mastro, jailed for ‘cheating and lying’ in 2008 vote, out on bail
(Don’t forget to watch the videos!)

Del Mastro, who is barred from running for Parliament for five years, used to speak for Harper against electoral-fraud allegations levelled at the Conservatives. He resigned his Peterborough seat, which he had won three times, after his conviction.

The disgraced politician has steadfastly maintained his innocence, but in sentencing him Thursday, Cameron pulled no punches. “He was prepared not only to break the rules but to be deceitful about it,” Cameron said.

Ottawa Citizen – (Stephen Maher) Del Mastro verdict raises questions about both the ethics and savvy of Harper’s palace guard

The suggestion is that Stephen Harper is not good at taking the measure of would-be senators or spymasters, missing their character flaws, and they end up disappointing him by cheating on expenses or taking kickbacks.

Certainly, Harper couldn’t be expected to know that Don Meredtih would eventually be accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenager. But the Dean Del Mastro story is different. It’s hard to believe that Harper didn’t know his parliamentary secretary was guilty.

The Guardian – ‘Offensively tasteless’ Mother Canada statue plan sparks outrage against PM

With criticism of the monument going national, the most articulate opponent remains Cape Breton resident Valerie Bird, 93, who served as an auxilliary with the royal air force in the Middle East during the second world war. “It is vulgar and ostentatious,” she said. “It certainly doesn’t belong in a national park, and I don’t think its going to do a darn thing for veterans.”

“I think the idea of this horrible thing offends veterans,” she added. “I find it difficult to find words. This is a monstrosity.”




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Harper Watch – May 17 to June 12, 2015


Toronto Star – Conservatives choose retaliation over redress when it comes to aboriginals: Tim Harper

It is the default position of the Stephen Harper government.  If you encounter dissent, you demonize. If you are crossed, you take the low road and fight back. Seek enemies. They keep supporters energized and help you raise money.

Now it’s been caught and has retreated to another well-known default position — ignore.

National Observer – Is Harper the worst prime minister in history?

Five weeks after Stephen Harper won his majority government in 2011, Maclean’s magazine ran a story asking experts to name Canada’s best prime ministers. Harper ranked 11th on the list.

Stephen Azzi, a Carleton University historian who co-authored the Maclean’s piece, says he doubts very much Harper would have budged on the list if their survey were conducted today. “All of the prime ministers we consider successful have some major accomplishment they can point to – Harper doesn’t have that,” he explains. “His accomplishment first of all is winning power and staying in power and then there are a series of minor things that his supporters like. But it will be hard for future generations to remember him for these things.”

National Observer – Is Harper the worst prime minister in history? PART TWO
“Brian Mulroney was an appalling prime minister, appalling. But if I had to pick one prime minister over the other [between Harper and Mulroney], I would pick Mulroney.”
Stevie Cameron, author of On the Take, the 1994 bestseller about corruption during the Mulroney years.

Winnipeg Free Press – Harper doesn’t let law get in the way

It’s unconstitutional in Canada to charge someone with a crime if the offence was not illegal at the time it was committed, technically called an ex post facto law. Unfortunately, the framers of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms never anticipated the Harper government, which has found a loophole on that principle.

Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, actions that were illegal can now be made legal when the law is politically inconvenient.

National Observer – Opposition MPs blast “crazy” omnibus budget bill C-59

Finance critics and MPs from both the NDP and Liberal parties blasted the federal government’s 2015 budget, taking aim at everything from long-gun registry record destruction to employment statistics.

Liberal finance critic Scott Brison had harsh words about the government’s elimination of the long-gun registry, which formed part of the Harper government’s latest ‘omnibus’ Bill C-59, ‘An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures’.

“The most egregious thing the Conservatives do in this bill is retroactively changing the law to make something that was illegal at the time legal,” Brison said. “But the Conservatives won’t speak out against this because they’re all whipped — they don’t have the will to defend the rule of law in this case.”

Huffington Post – Tories Have Shut Down Debate 100 Times This Parliament: Opposition

When it comes to the controversial practice of curtailing parliamentary debate, opposition parties say Conservatives have hit the century mark.

On Wednesday, 141 Tory MPs voted to pass a time allocation motion on Bill C-59, a 167-page, omnibus budget implementation bill that also contains unprecedented amendments to retroactively rewrite access to information laws.

Time allocation allows the government to limit the length of debate on a bill so that it can be passed at a quicker pace. Opponents of the practice deride it as anti-democratic.


CTV News – Municipal study warns of looming housing problem

The country has a looming housing problem that is going to require action from all levels of government, according to a new report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.  The study says the long, steady decline in federal subsidies for social housing has left provinces, territories and municipalities struggling against market forces that are making it increasingly difficult for low- and modest-income renters.

“With 850,000 lower-rent units lost in the last decade, our rental sector is ill prepared for any downturn in the housing market,” Brad Woodside, the president of the FCM, says in the introduction to the study. “One in five renters pays more than 50 per cent of their income on housing.”

CBC News – Lavish Canada House reopening in London cost taxpayers more than $200K

As the Harper government was tightening its belt to wipe out the federal deficit, officials at Canada House in London, England, spared no expense on a splashy re-opening fit for a queen.

Internal invoices for the Feb. 19 posh event on Trafalgar Square show taxpayers were billed more than $200,000 for a few hours of wine-sipping, beef-eating and plaque-unveiling, as well as a set of complimentary keys for Queen Elizabeth II, the guest of honour, and Prince Philip.


Speaking Up For Science – Part of National Rock Collection To be Dumped – Is This A Concern? Probably.

The excellent folks at Blacklocks Reporter are reporting that the geological Survey of Canada is throwing away part of its mineral and soil collection. “The Canadian Geological Survey said it will dump tons of minerals and soil samples carefully collected for scientific research”

Now, I am not a geologist so I contacted one who used to work for the GSC and asked “is this a concern?” His answer?   “Yes”

CBC News – Steve Campana, Canadian biologist, ‘disgusted’ with government muzzling

A recently retired Fisheries and Oceans Canada biologist says the muzzling of federal government scientists is worse than anyone can imagine. Steve Campana, known for his expertise on everything from great white sharks to porbeagles and Arctic trout, says the atmosphere working for the federal government is toxic.

The Halifax-based scientist, who only agreed to talk to CBC after he retired from the department, says federal scientists have been working in a climate of fear.  “I am concerned about the bigger policy issues that are essentially leading to a death spiral for government science,” he said in an exclusive interview.

“I see that is going to be a huge problem in the coming years. We are at the point where the vast majority of our senior scientists are in the process of leaving now disgusted as I am with the way things have gone, and I don’t think there is any way for it to be recovered.”

The Globe and Mail – An unambitious emissions target we won’t even hit

The Harper government now says Canada will reduce its carbon emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, likely one of the least – if not the least – ambitious target of any advanced industrial country. Of supreme importance, nothing in the announcement referred to bitumen oil, which was the fastest-growing source of GHGs in Canada before the oil price collapse. For years, the Harper government promised regulations on bitumen oil, only to produce nothing. That nothing will now continue

The Globe and Mail – Canadian efforts on marine protection areas woefully inadequate: report

A new report on marine conservation efforts says Canada is severely lacking in the quantity and quality of its protection for ocean ecosystems.

In a report released Monday, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society points to flaws in Canada’s marine protected areas — zones intended to conserve aquatic species and habitats under various provincial and federal legislation.

CPAWS says only 0.11 per cent of Canada’s ocean territory is fully closed to what it calls extractive activities such as fishing and oil and gas development. The report says that in the United States and the United Kingdom the area is closer to 10 per cent.


CBC News – Medical marijuana legal in all forms, Supreme Court rules

Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana — and not just smoke it — as well as use other extracts and derivatives, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today.  The unanimous ruling against the federal government expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond the “dried” form.

CTV News – Ambrose ‘outraged’ by SCC’s marijuana ruling

Health Minister Rona Ambrose says she is “outraged” by the Supreme Court of Canada decision that expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond dried leaves, to include cannabis oils, teas, brownies and other forms of the drug.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that users should not be restricted to only using the dried form of the drug. They said the current rules prevent people with a legitimate need for medical marijuana from choosing a method of ingestion that avoids the potential harms of smoking it.

National Post – Government loses bid to dismiss court case over prime minister’s refusal to fill Senate vacancies

The federal government has lost a bid to thwart a court challenge aimed at compelling Prime Minister Stephen Harper to fill Senate vacancies. Federal Court Justice Sean Harrington rejected Thursday the government’s motion to have the case dismissed.

The case was launched by Vancouver lawyer Aniz Alani, who maintains the unfilled vacancies are unconstitutional, leaving provinces under-represented and the Senate less able to carry out its constitutional role as the chamber of sober second thought. He is asking the court to declare that Senate vacancies must be filled within a reasonable time.

Harper has not appointed a senator since March 2013 — when the scandal over improper expenses claimed by some senators began to engulf his government.

BILL C-51 

ThinkPol – Bill C-51 violates Universal Declaration of Human Rights, OSCE finds

The Harper government’s controversial anti-terrorism bill violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Canada has ratified, according to legal analysis by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization.

The Vienna-based group, which Canada joined in 1973, found that Section 16 of Bill C-51, which contain amendments to the Criminal Code outlawing “advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism,” places a number of direct restrictions on freedom of expression.


Globe and Mail – Ottawa aims to keep lid on details of Saudi arms deal

The Canadian government is refusing to make public the assessments it conducts to determine whether Ottawa’s $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia is compatible with foreign policy or poses a risk to the civilian population in a country notorious for human-rights abuses.

APTN – Aboriginal Affairs “retaliated” against First Nations child advocate over human rights complaint: Tribunal

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal awarded a First Nations child advocate $20,000 after determining an official in the office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs “retaliated” against her over a human rights complaint against the department.  The tribunal released its decision in the case of Cindy Blackstock on Friday.

Blackstock is the president of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society which, along with the Assembly of First Nations, launched a human rights complaint in 2007 alleging the federal Aboriginal Affairs department discriminates against First Nations children on the basis of race and national ethnic origin by underfunding child-welfare services on reserves.

Toronto Star – Stephen Harper defangs another watchdog

In days of yore, kings and queens festooned the castle gates with the severed heads of miscreants who had been executed as a lesson to others who would dare question their authority.

Metaphorically speaking, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has put his own, contemporary stamp on the medieval practice by only reappointing prison ombudsman Howard Sapers to a one-year term. By cutting short what ought to have been a long career, Harper has sent a resounding message to anyone interested in Sapers’ job: Clear-eyed, courageous prison reformers need not apply.

Calgary Herald – Nenshi slams MP Crockatt over infrastructure comments

Crockatt, the MP for Calgary Centre, issued a news release Friday urging the new NDP government and Nenshi to access federal infrastructure dollars for the city and province that “are sitting unused.”

She said that while other provinces “have shovels in the ground” for projects funded from Ottawa’s Building Canada fund, Alberta has not given a list of priorities to the federal government.

But Nenshi, who is in Edmonton for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference, said he asked a room of big-city mayors whether their municipalities had received any funding from the program and none had but Edmonton.


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Harper Watch – May 1 to 18, 2015


National Post (Andrew Coyne) – A telling 24 hours in Stephen Harper’s world
(A damning piece by a columnist who is not known to be anti-Harper.)

If one were to draw up an indictment of this government’s approach to politics and the public purpose, one might mention its wholesale contempt for Parliament, its disdain for the Charter of Rights and the courts’ role in upholding it, its penchant for secrecy, its chronic deceitfulness, its deepening ethical problems, its insistence on taking, at all times, the lowest, crudest path to its ends, its relentless politicization of everything.

But you’d think you would need to look back over its record over several years to find examples. You wouldn’t think to see them all spread before you in the course of a single day.

Toronto Star – NDP win in Alberta spells trouble for Harper Tories: Editorial

Rachel Notley touched a raw nerve when she made her rousing victory speech after burning down Alberta’s Conservative house in Tuesday’s stunning election.

Party activists erupted in cheers as the New Democrat premier-designate declared that “change has finally come to Alberta” after four decades of monolithic Tory rule, along with “new people, new ideas and a fresh start.” But those cheers abruptly turned to jeers when she went on to say she is “looking forward” to working with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

Many of her diehard supporters clearly are not, and their booing momentarily drowned her out. That spoke volumes about the combative mood in her party’s ranks as it celebrated a win for the history books.

iPolitics (Andrew Mitrovica) – What the hell was Harper doing in Iraq anyway?
…..Why did Stephen Harper go to Iraq? I’m not talking about the real reason — I’m talking about the rationale.  Was it to gather first-hand impressions of the suffering of Iraqis at the hands of Islamic State? Unlikely: Harper has no military training and wouldn’t know what he was looking at. Was it to bolster morale? Please.

Harper went there to get pictures and video of himself standing near the ‘front’ (to the degree it exists) and looking resolute. He went there to dispel the lingering odour from the Hill attack. He went there to use serving troops and military hardware as a convenient backdrop for his John Wayne act.  He did what every chickenhawk politician does to boost his political fortunes – he made a beeline for men and women in uniform with guns and made sure the folks back home saw him in khaki giving the troops a pep talk in front of a big Canadian flag……

Harper’s costly vanity visit was an irresponsible thing for any government leader to do.  Harper never should have gone to Iraq. There’s a war going on and Canada is part of it. The prime minister is a high-value target. His presence in Iraq ramped up the threat to everyone around him — including the military, security and civilian staff he brought along with him so he could deliver a cliché-riddled speech while posing in front of a couple of CF-18s.

Globe and Mail – Editorial: Another budget, another contemptuous Tory omnibus bill

The Harper government tabled yet another monster omnibus budget bill last week. Not do be outdone, here is yet another editorial decrying these overstuffed bills and their contemptuous disregard for Parliament.

Omnibus budget bills should not be one of those bad habits that, through force of repetition, become tolerated, like looking at your cellphone while driving. They are an outrage. They usurp Parliament’s most important role, that of oversight, by lumping a variety of legislative matters into a single bill. 

Toronto Star (Editorial) – The high price of speaking out in Ottawa

Forthright government watchdogs have a way of disappearing in Ottawa.

They are quietly replaced. Their mandates are terminated or not renewed. They are suddenly found to be unqualified.  Seven government watchdogs and three senior bureaucrats have been stifled or impugned since the Conservatives took office. 

Gracious, respectful Omar Khadr confounds Harper government stereotype

By simply seeming reasonable, Omar Khadr has confounded Stephen Harper.The former Guantanamo Bay inmate could have reacted bitterly Thursday when, after almost 13 years in detention, he was finally allowed out on bail.  He could have echoed his lawyer, Dennis Edney, and called the prime minister an anti-Muslim bigot.


Huffington Post – Suzanne Legault, Information Watchdog, Wants Mounties Charged
An unprecedented Conservative bid to rewrite the law in order to retroactively erase the RCMP’s mishandling of gun registry records sets the table for legislated, after-the-fact cover-ups of far more serious crimes, Canada’s information commissioner declared Thursday.

In a damning new report tabled in Parliament, Suzanne Legault concluded that the practice establishes a “perilous precedent” of rewriting laws — one that could jeopardize the ability of authorities to prosecute electoral fraud or other government scandals.

ipolitics – “Effectively they are censoring that part of the past:” Michel Drapeau
“I think it’s wrong, it’s very, very wrong,” Drapeau said. “There is a concept in law that laws, normally, that’s 99.999 per cent, never have any retroactive action. The past is the past.”

The precedent the government is setting by making the exemption to the access to information act retroactive could be used to eliminate all trace of other files, Drapeau said.

“There’s no limit – anything they want. I guess they could pass a law on whatever activities that this particular government might have done or may have been involved in. It could be the Libyan mission or the ISIL mission.”

National Post View: The government has been caught re-writing the rules to suit its own purposes. Again

If the issue weren’t so serious, it would almost be funny. Once again, the government has been caught re-writing the rules to suit its purposes, a practice that goes to the heart of the Harper Conservatives’ chronic misuse of its power.

Federal information commissioner Suzanne Legault had recommended two months ago that charges be laid against the RCMP for destroying records from the federal long-gun registry, in defiance of the access to information laws. Instead, the government introduced legislation to make the practice legal, backdated it to absolve the RCMP of any culpability, and slipped it into a mammoth budget implementation bill, in hopes that it might pass unnoticed. Legault accused the government of setting a “perilous precedent,” and rightly so — what other illegal acts could be retroactively excused in this way?


CBC News – Harper government left $97M unspent on social services, report shows
The Harper government’s promises to help jobless youth, the disabled, immigrants and illiterate adults fell short last year by almost $100 million.

That’s the amount of so-called “lapsed” funding — money promised but never spent — at Canada’s biggest social services department, Employment and Social Development Canada.

Huffington Post – Tories Kill Bill Urging ‘Harmony’ Between Canadian Law And First Nations

A NDP-sponsored bill proposing Canada align its laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was defeated Wednesday.

The Conservative government used its majority to reject Romeo Saganash’s private member’s bill, five months after it was first introduced to the House of Commons.

In a statement after the vote, Saganash said he was disappointed with the outcome.

Press Progress – Corporate Canada’s cash in tax havens explodes to $199 billion under Stephen Harper

Despite claims that raising corporate taxes will lead to “capital flight,” Corporate Canada has managed to smash its old record, sending close to $200 billion to tax havens – even as Canadian corporations enjoy their lowest tax rates in recent history  (and among the lowest in the world) thanks to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

New data from Statistics Canada show the amount of money flowing from Corporate Canada into the world’s top 10 tax havenshit a record $199 billion last year. And if that doesn’t surprise you, get this: the second biggest destination for money flowing out of Canada is now Barbados.


Open Media – Conservative MP Laurie Hawn attacks Canadian Businesses that raised concerns about Bill C-51

Wow — this is how Conservative MP Laurie Hawn responded to the now 140+ businesses who have raised concerns in a letter published by the National Post about reckless spying Bill C-51:”[They] should seriously reconsider their business model and their lack of commitment to the values that bind us as Canadians”.

Keep in mind that the list of signatories includes the founder of the largest software company in Canada.

In fact the list of signatories runs the gamut from local bakeries, to property developers, to venture capitalists.  It’s amazingly unbecoming of a public office holder like Laurie Hawn to question the loyalty to Canada of these business people from across the country.

iPolitics – Senator Cowan says ‘most Liberal senators’ to vote against Bill C-51 despite Trudeau’s stand
(This is how the Senate should work. Independent Senators. At least the “Liberal” Senators are now free to vote independently – thanks to Justin Trudeau.)

Senate opposition leader James Cowan says he’ll break with the policy of the Liberal party and vote against the Harper government’s controversial anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51. Cowan says the bill, which passed in the House of Commons last week with Liberal support, lacks oversight and violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“My sense would be that most Liberal senators will oppose the bill. We’ll propose amendments — not the same amendments they did in the House but similar. For my part, if the amendments aren’t carried, and I don’t expect they will be, then I’ll vote against the bill,” said Cowan.


CTV NEWS – PMO apologizes for showing elite soldiers’ faces in promotional videos
The videos were filmed during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent trip to Iraq and Kuwait. Members of the media travelling with Harper were asked to sign agreements not to publish any images of the elite JTF-2 troops who were providing security.

Security expert David Hyde said the PMO’s mistake was baffling.  “This is an egregious security breach, one of the worst I can recall in recent times,” he told CTV’s Power Play.

Hyde said the PMO staffers who worked on the video could have easily blurred the soldiers’ faces before posting the images.

NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie said there’s “no excuse” for compromising the soldiers for the sake of another “promotional video.”  “Not only has the security of these soldiers been breached, it was for a promo video,” she told Power Play.  “It’s starting to look more and more like the prime minister’s entire trip is more about his election brochure and his election videos than it is about the soldiers.”

Huffington Post – Munir Sheikh: Bad Info From NHS Will Lead To Bad Planning
Important statistical information has become so unreliable that the government would be better off making policy decisions based on no information at all, says the former head of Statistics Canada.

“When you have bad information, the chances are you will develop policies that are inappropriate,” he told a conference on Canadian access to information laws held by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

Huffington Post – Canadian Senators Ignored Staffers Concerned About Expenses: Documents
Conservative senators overrode the concerns of senior public servants about lax expense rules in the upper chamber, newly released documents reveal.

Some of those same senators later worked in tandem with the Prime Minister’s Office to make sure Mike Duffy was not publicly admonished for failing to grasp the rules around his own expenses….

He recounted how once Deloitte’s report was filed, Conservative senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen unilaterally changed the Senate’s report on Duffy’s expenses. They did not consult Furey, who sat on the same subcommittee dealing with the issue.

iPolitics – Penashue’s official agent charged with violating Elections Act

Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue’s official agent in the 2011 federal election campaign has been charged with violating Canada’s Elections Act in connection with ineligible contributions made to Penashue’s campaign.

Reginald Bowers faces three charges – failing to return ineligible contributions, providing the Chief Electoral Officer with false or misleading information by failing to accurately identify ineligible campaign contributions and providing Elections Canada with false or misleading information by inaccurately reporting Penashue’s travel expenses.


The Guardian – Canada reneges on emissions targets as tar sands production takes its toll
Canada has retreated on past promises to fight climate change, setting out lower targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions than any other industralised country so far ahead of a critical conference in Paris.

The announcement was a setback to efforts to reach a deal in the French capital that would limit warming to 2C (3.6F), the threshold for dangerous climate change.

Under the announcement, Canada committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

That is a far weaker target than the European Union or the US. The European Union pledged to reduce emissions by at least 40% from 1990 levels, and the US committed to cut emissions to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

Vancity Buzz – Harper government closes Vancouver Coast Guard communications base

Another Coast Guard facility in Vancouver has shuttered its doors. This time, it is the communications centre that manages all ship traffic in the waters of Burrard Inlet.

At 10 a.m. this morning, the Marine Communication and Traffic Services Centre on the 23rd floor of Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver closed its operations and transferred the region’s maritime communications responsibilities to the Victoria base.

The now-closed downtown Vancouver base overlooked the region, including English Bay and Burrard Inlet where there is a high level of container and cruise ship traffic. For years, the facility monitored the busiest port in Canada, but the decision is being made to save $700,000 in annual operational expenses for the federal government.

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