HARPER GOVERNMENT FISCAL WIZARDRY?
(From the Right-wing media no less!)
We’ll have to wait until between 2016 and 2017 to get out of the $26 billion hole we’re in.
Flaherty blames falling commodity prices — not that those stopped Saskatchewan, where commodities are king, from balancing its budget this year.
Perhaps he should look at his government’s own record instead. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been in power for nearly six years. In the first five, federal spending went up 22% — almost a quarter. And when you look at the contents of Stephen Harper’s pork barrel, it’s easy to see how that happened.
The federal government has approved plans to build a magnificent $42-million glass dome on Parliament Hill as a new home for the House of Commons — a temporary one.
The Commons will be moved to the fancy new digs while the existing chamber on Parliament Hill is being renovated, a process expected to take about seven years.
A number of experts familiar with the project have told CBC News that the temporary glass-domed Commons will almost certainly end up costing Canadian taxpayers well over $100 million.
The Harper government has found itself struggling to establish a long-promised watchdog for international religious persecution – trying to find a candidate for the office who’s ideologically compatible with the Conservatives but who won’t risk unduly hurting relations with countries such as China or Saudi Arabia.
OTTAWA — The former RCMP investigator who is leading the probe of fraudulent robocalls in Guelph could be called to give evidence in a legal challenge of last year’s election results.
The lawyer representing the applicants in the Federal Court case has asked Elections Canada to obtain an affidavit from their investigator, Allan Mathews, that would expose him to cross-examination from other parties in the case, an exchange of letters obtained by the Citizen and Postmedia shows.
The Guardian – Some Canadians doubt whether their country should have any say in negotiating the second Kyoto protocol after it became the only nation to reject the first one
Federal environmental assessment not guaranteed on B.C. pipeline with 320 water crossing
TransCanada’s planned 650-kilometre natural gas pipeline to Kitimat would cross about 320 watercourses including the habitat of more than 100 species at risk, such as white sturgeon, woodland caribou and marbled murrelet, company documents show.
But under Conservative government changes to environmental laws, there’s no guarantee the Coastal GasLink project will undergo a federal environmental assessment.
OTTAWA—Environment Minister Peter Kent says a federally funded research facility that studies water pollution contributed to his department’s national mandate, but he approached the premier of Manitoba to help fill a void in the wake of budget cuts.
UGLIER BY THE MINUTE
[The Tyee Editor’s note: This is the first of two pieces drawn, with permission, from Chapter 2 of The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy by Yves Engler, newly published.]
Canadian mining corporations operate thousands of projects outside this country and many of these mines have displaced communities, destroyed ecosystems and provoked violence. Pick almost any country in the Global South — from Papua New Guinea to Ghana, Ecuador and the Philippines — and you will find a Canadian-run mine that has caused environmental devastation or been the scene of violent confrontations.
This doesn’t seem to bother the Harper government, which is close to the most retrograde sectors of the industry.
After stalling on the issue for two years, in March 2009 former trade minister Stockwell Day rejected the roundtable’s proposal to make diplomatic and financial support for resource companies operating overseas contingent upon socially responsible conduct.
[The Tyee Editor’s note: This is the second of two pieces drawn, with permission, from Chapter 2 of The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy by Yves Engler, newly published.]
Time and again Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used diplomatic trips to support controversial mining projects. Canada-based Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold producer, gained important support for its Pascua Lama operations, which spurred large-scale protests, during his July 2007 trip to Chile. The prime minister visited the company’s Chilean office and said: “Barrick follows Canadian standards of corporate social responsibility.” He was greeted with signs from mine opponents stating, “Harper go home” and “Canada: What’s HARPERing here?”
The Harper government is throwing the most unusual roadblock in front of its prized Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
During meetings with members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg Tuesday, Blair Redlin (CUPE) and I learned that our government objects to language proposed by the EU in a Framework Agreement parallel to the CETA on the importance of respecting fundamental human rights. This issue is so vital for the EU that Harper’s absurd opposition presents yet another threat to the CETA negotiations.
HARPER’S MIDDLE EAST
OTTAWA – Canada affirmed its steadfast opposition to Thursday’s vote at the United Nations to confer statehood on Palestine, saying it would not support any “shortcuts” to peace with Israel.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed the decision on Wednesday with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird bound for New York to cast Ottawa’s vote and register Canada’s disappointment with the latest Palestinian move at the UN for recognition.
Question for Stephen Harper, John Baird, Jason Kenney and Peter MacKay: if you were in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, instead of sitting in front of a fire in Ottawa with an NFL game on TV, if you were in the morgue in Gaza looking at the men, women and children now dead even though they were not members of Hamas, would you still say it was okay? Would you still write that blank cheque to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu?
HARPER OUT OF TOUCH WITH CANADIANS
The findings provide an interesting snapshot of the country after seven years under a Stephen Harper government that’s made a priority of promoting its own blend of nation-building symbols.
The military, the Arctic, sports and the monarchy have been staples of Conservative messaging almost from the time Harper took office early in 2006.
In a case that could ultimately find itself before the Supreme Court, the association has filed a motion in Quebec Superior Court seeking to strike down sections of Bill C-10.
The targeted sections involve so-called mandatory minimums — penalties that set minimum sentences and leave judges with little latitude if they want to convict someone and proffer a lesser punishment.
The bar association says that not only do mandatory minimums not wind up protecting the public but that they represent an unconstitutional interference from one branch of government, the legislature, in the business of another, the judiciary.
OPEN (AND TRANSPARENT) HARPER STYLE
OTTAWA – Opposition attempts to shed light on spending cuts at National Defence were met by lawyerly objections from Conservative members of the House of Commons committee charged with overseeing the military.
Government MPs, led by junior defence minister Chris Alexander, tried to limit the scope of questions put to Defence Minister Peter MacKay by New Democrats and Liberals to a table of supplementary budget documents.
Both opposition parties were stymied in their efforts to find out precisely what is being cut and how the department will meet its budget targets.
OTTAWA – The NDP accused the Conservatives of using a House of Commons committee to whitewash the auditor general’s scathing indictment of the government’s mammoth F-35 jet fighter procurement.
“Only seven hours of testimony were dedicated to this study, and no responsible ministers appeared during the inquiry.”
The committee was responding to the April auditor general’s report that blasted the government for a $10-billion cost overrun on the F-35 procurement.
The Toronto Star obtained documents through the Access to Information Act that show the plan, code-named the Shoe Store Project, has been in the works for a year.
CBC – The new briefing centre would supplant the 47-year-old National Press Theatre, a venue where government news conferences are moderated by the executive members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association, a group of newspapers, broadcasters and other media outlets who report on Parliament Hill.
HEALTH AND SAFETY IN JEOPARDY
A lab that revealed the first evidence of an infectious virus in British Columbia salmon should be stripped of its international credentials, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
In a letter to the World Organization for Animal Health, the CFIA urges the international agency to accept the findings of an independent audit that recommends “suspension of the reference laboratory status,” of the facility.
“This is stunning news,” said Rick Routledge, a professor at Simon Fraser University, who sent the lab samples that showed a ISA virus was present on the Pacific coast. “This comes as a shock. . . my head is spinning. I had no idea they would take it that far,” he said.
OTTAWA — Federal beef inspectors at the XL Foods plant in southern Alberta whose E. coli crisis sparked the country’s largest meat recall were ordered to turn a blind eye to contamination on carcasses being processed for sale to Canadians, CTV News has learned, a directive that was imposed by the inspectors’ supervisors lasting four years.
The 2008 memo written by a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) meat hygiene supervisor at the Brooks, Alta., plant, obtained by CTV, instructed CFIA inspectors stationed at one of the plant’s final inspection stops to give extra scrutiny to carcasses shipped to Japan, but to ignore visible fecal and intestinal contamination on meat for Canadians.
Jason Kenney OK with provinces providing health coverage to refugee claimants
“That’s unfortunate that that’s the tone that the federal minister has taken,” Saskatchewan’s Minister of Health, Dustin Duncan said in Regina. “It’s the federal government, not the provincial government, that runs the refugee system and so we have no way to dictate or determine how long that process takes.”
Duncan noted it can months or years for a person seeking refugee status to learn his or her fate.
“To then leave that individual in limbo like this, that’s discouraging to hear that,” he said.
Province steps in to pay for drugs related to cancer treatment
Saskatchewan’s premier says he does not understand the federal government’s decision to cut back on refugee health care.
Brad Wall was asked Thursday about the case of a Saskatoon man who has applied for refugee status and is also undergoing treatment for cancer.
CBC News was told the man learned he had cancer after arriving in Saskatoon.
He began treatment at a dedicated cancer clinic but learned the federal government, under a new policy brought in July 1, would not pay for the drugs related to chemotherapy treatment.
“It’s unbelievable,” Wall said. “The decisions that have been taken federally have been having this impact on people who are clearly the most vulnerable.”
An NDP MP is worried that a bill which seeks to make life-saving drugs more accessible to patients in developing countries will die Wednesday because of pressure exerted by the Prime Minister’s Office on Conservatives to vote it down — including those who have supported it in the past.
Gerald Kaplan – G & M – If you had the opportunity to save “hundreds of thousands, maybe millions” of AIDS sufferers in Africa and other poor countries, what would you do? A complete no-brainer, right? Why in the world is it even a question?
The sad answer is that our federal government has this exact opportunity next week, when private member’s bill C-398 to enable this very outcome is voted on in the House. But the government has rejected such a bill before and intends to reject it again. Don’t ask me why. There’s no rational explanation, either of politics or public policy.
(I guess Harper’s plan worked – this just in)
An attempt to remove the obstacles that prevent Canadian generic drug companies from copying life-saving pharmaceuticals and shipping them to the world’s poorest countries at cut-rate prices has been defeated by the Conservative government.
OPINION – Canada 1867 – Benjamin Berman
On November 22nd and 23rd, Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers will meet in Halifax for a First Ministers’ conference; and, once again, Stephen Harper won’t be there.
Since coming to power in 2006, Prime Minister Harper has attended one First Ministers’ conference – just one – back in 2008. But what makes things worse this time is that Canada’s 13 premiers will be joined by Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to discuss domestic and international economic issues.
Isn’t the economy supposed to be the Harper government’s ‘thing’?
OPINION – Ottawa Citizen – Janice Kennedy
On Tuesday night in Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird rose to address his audience of fellow dinner guests.
With international tensions high amid new hostilities in the Middle East, and with third-party peace brokers frantically working both sides to achieve a truce, this country’s diplomat-in-chief declared unequivocally, “Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel.”
OPINION – Huffington Post Blog by Maude Barlow and Adrienne Silnicki
On November 22 and 23, Canada’s premiers are holding an economic summit in Halifax. Stephen Harper was invited, but he’s not coming.
On the agenda is the Canada Health Transfer (CHT), the federal financial contribution allotted to the provinces to pay for health care. In December last year, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced cuts to the CHT totalling $36 billion by the end of 2024.