REMEMBRANCE DAY IN HARPERLAND
(Some readers may feel I am overdoing it on the Remembrance Day articles but for a regime that has made support for the military a main item of its platform, the number and damning content of these articles is hopefully bad news for them.)
Disabled veterans and military widows are unleashing a broadside of frustration against the Harper government just before Remembrance Day, saying they’re feeling abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
They have gathered on Parliament Hill to paint a stark picture of bureaucratic indifference and red tape that flies in the face of reassurances from the government, which says the care of military families is a top priority.
An investigation by Canada’s veterans ombudsman into a controversial breach of privacy was quietly shut down last year on the instructions of Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, newly released documents reveal. Blaney asked the ombudsman to discontinue a probe that his predecessor had ordered in January 2011, after the confidential medical information of veterans advocate Sean Bruyea was spread around the department in an alleged smear campaign.
Tom Hoppe earned the Medal of Bravery and the affectionate nickname “Dances With Bullets” for his heroic August 1994 sprint into sniper fire to rescue three children pinned down in the civil war fury of Visoko, Bosnia. That medal along with others the former army sergeant earned, including the Meritorious Service Cross will sit on a shelf this Remembrance Day in a quiet but symbolic protest against the Harper government.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to support Canada’s “most needy” veterans but sidestepped specific questions about the funeral fund. “Let me just say that the government of Canada puts, as you know, a very high priority on care for our veterans,” Harper said in response to a question at a news conference in the Philippines.
This government may glorify war in the abstract. But it does not want to pay the price of war — or indeed much of anything else — in the here and now. This week’s appearance on Parliament Hill of disabled veterans and military widows critical of the government was just the latest chapter in an ongoing dispute.
SUPPRESSING EVERY BIT OF CRITICISM FROM ANY AND ALL SOURCES
A federal government agency has warned Canadian Mennonite about publishing material that could rally its readers to oppose specific politicians and political parties. A letter to the magazine from Canada Revenue says: “It has come to our attention that recent issues . . . have contained editorials and/or articles that appear to promote opposition to a political party, or to candidates for public office.”
PRIVATISING RESEARCH AND SOCIAL PROGRAMS
The Coalition to Save ELA has been informed that the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans is on the verge of transferring the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) to a private sector operator. This action is being taken under a veil of secrecy and at a time when Parliament is not in session.
In response to the impending sale of the ELA to a private owner, today the Coalition called upon the Canadian Minister of the Environment, Mr. Peter Kent, to take immediate action to stop his government from committing a grave error that would have dire consequences for Canada’s ability to secure the health of our lakes and the sustainability of our freshwater resources.
The federal government wants to tap into a “gold mine” of private-sector funding to finance its social programs — a new approach the New Democrats are dismissing as little more than budget cuts in disguise.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley launched a “call for concepts” on Thursday, asking businesses, not-for-profits and the volunteer sector to come up with fundamentally new ideas for jointly financing improvements in the lives of the needy.
The launch is a tentative step into the realm of social financing – an approach that is being tested in the United Kingdom and the United States. It invites private-sector investors to provide up-front money and then collect a return on projects government traditionally pays for, such as homelessness or hunger.
Meanwhile, scientists who still work for the government are not allowed to share information with the public, even though we pay for that research with our taxes. The government’s muzzling of scientists has drawn condemnation from publications and organizations ranging from the prestigious journal Nature to PEN Canada to several science writers’ organizations. It even led to an unprecedented protest on Parliament Hill in July by hundreds of scientists and supporters, many dressed in white lab coats.
A Conservative campaign manager who declined to be interviewed by Elections Canada investigators about the Guelph, Ont. robocalls has left Canada and moved to Kuwait. Ken Morgan, who served as campaign manager to Conservative candidate Marty Burke in the 2011 election, arrived in Kuwait City in August to begin a teaching job.
G&M – Stakes are high in vote-suppression case (ACCESS LIMITED)
At issue here is the legitimacy of the Conservative government. If the allegations are substantiated, they would arguably be worse than the sponsorship scandal that crippled the Liberal Party. Sponsorship was about lower-level Quebec operatives running off with the cash from a government advertising program to promote unity. Vote suppression is a campaign to throttle the workings of democracy by disenfranchising voters. It strikes at the heart of the democratic system.
The 140-page court document laying out the plaintiffs’ case looks strong on some points, not so convincing on others.
Contacted on the weekend, 2011 Conservative election campaign chair Guy Giorno (who has previously denied party involvement in any vote suppression activities) chose not to respond. Fred DeLorey, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sent a reply that did not address particulars of the questions. “We knew Elections Canada had changed some polls,” he said, “and we wanted to make sure all of our supporters knew where to vote.”
Some key players have hardly been forthcoming. It was reported last week that Ken Morgan, one of the Conservative operatives in the riding of Guelph (a focus of the investigation) and who declined to be interviewed by Elections Canada, has moved to Kuwait, where reporters have been unable to track him down.
DONATE to the Council of Canadians Democracy 24/7 Legal Fund to pay for the legal costs of the applicants involved in the robocall court challenges.
NO SCIENCE, NO EVIDENCE, NO CONSULTATION
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was warned by his department about the risks of failing to tighten up surveillance of gun shows months before he announced a proposal to repeal long-delayed gun show regulations….
But in an undated briefing note, obtained by CBC News’s Power & Politics through an access to information request for documents that were sent in February 2012, the department’s deputy minister issued Toews a warning. “The CFO (Chief Firearms Officer) community has noted unsafe display of firearms across the country. CFOs have also noted incidents where exhibitors were criminally charged in relation to the trafficking and unauthorized possession of firearms at gun shows.”
DESTROYING EVERY LAST CANADIAN OWNED BUSINESS
Canadian food processors fear thousands of jobs will be lost if Ottawa passes a law that would force changes to food packaging regulation. The Food Processors Association of Canada says any changes will increase American imports into Canada and over time put food processing and agricultural jobs at risk.
Controversial plans to hire 201 Chinese workers at a proposed mine in northern British Columbia have prompted Ottawa to announce a review of its entire foreign worker program, with the government suggesting the case has revealed deeper problems with a system designed to fill short-term labour shortages.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley issued a statement Thursday saying the Conservative government isn’t satisfied HD Mining Ltd. followed all the rules when it sought foreign worker permits for its proposed mine near Tumbler Ridge, B.C., which she said raises broader questions about the program.