ONE CAN JUDGE A MAN BY THE COMPANY HE KEEPS – and Harper sure keeps some doozies!
Rick Mercer isn’t a big fan of Senator Mike Duffy, but his feeling toward the portly P.E.I. ‘resident’ pale in comparison to those he reserves for Stephen Harper.
On Tuesday night, Mercer argued Canadians should be focusing their anger about the behaviour of senators on the prime minister who appointed them.
“Blaming Mike Duffy for being the poster boy for everything that’s wrong with the Senate is like blaming a horse for taking a whiz in the street. It’s what they do,” Mercer said. “No, I blame the big guy.”
ipolitics (Michael Harris) – Stephen Harper — world’s worst talent scout
Sooner or later, the country is going to realize that there is something terribly wrong with Stephen Harper’s judgment.
The difference between this PM and his predecessors is that he didn’t stop at stacking the Senate with pork. He remorselessly used it as just another partisan forum, on one occasion deploying a patronage-based Senate to kill a climate-change bill that had already been passed by elected MPs. That hadn’t happened in seven decades.
Then there was the disastrous hiring of Bruce Carson as a key advisor to the prime minister. People make mistakes, yes. But I am still looking for another prime minister who hired someone with a criminal record to sit at his right hand. A fraud conviction is not usually a big selling point when looking for work.
Tom Flanagan, a former adviser to Stephen Harper, expressed support for the freedom to watch child pornography during a talk at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta on Wednesday night.
Flanagan, who most recently made headlines for wearing a bizarre bison-fur coat on CBC, made the comments while answering a question from an
“I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures,” Flanagan said. “I don’t look at these pictures.”
After saying that he has long been on the mailing list of the Man Boy Love Association, Flanagan made the statement that triggered the loudest jeers from the audience.
“It is a real issue of personal liberty, to what extent we put people in jail for doing something in which they do not harm another person.”
For a variety of reasons, Stephen Harper has seen a bevy of people close to him implode recently, from senior advisor Bruce Carson to his personal pick for the oversight job at Canada’s domestic spy service, Arthur Porter. Now this.
It will be remembered that Flanagan re-invented conservatism for Stephen Harper. He steered the ship for the first four years of the transition period, managed two leadership campaigns, was chief of staff during a critical part of the Canadian Alliance period, ran the Conservative national campaign in 2004, raised money, hired staff, contracted pollsters and recruited people like Ian Brodie to the Harper team.
Now he has incurred the wrath of millions of people on Twitter. Millions more in print will soon be gagging as well. Someone has edited Flanagan’s Wikipedia profile and added “Supports Child Pornography.” As for Canada’s aboriginals, their disgust over remarks made at the University of Lethbridge by the PM’s former mentor is bottomless.
OTTAWA—Sen. Pamela Wallin holds an Ontario health card, the Star has learned, which raises fresh questions about her claims that Saskatchewan is her home.
A source confirmed Wallin, who represents the prairie province in the Senate, has a valid Ontario health card. One of the conditions of having a health card is that Ontario must be the “primary place of residence,” according to the provincial health ministry.
The Senate is embroiled in controversy over living and travel expenses and whether some senators even reside in the province they represent in the upper chamber, as required by the rules.
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper muted his staunch defence of Pamela Wallin following reports Tuesday that the Saskatchewan senator has repaid a substantial amount of her eyebrow-raising travel expenses.
Earlier this month, Harper seemed unequivocal in his defence of Wallin, who has racked up travel expenses of $321,000 since September 2010. He appeared to suggest he’d personally reviewed Wallin’s expenses and concluded they’re comparable to those of other parliamentarians from Saskatchewan.
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said Harper is distancing himself from Wallin now that it appears there may have been something wrong with her expenses.
Harper’s initial defence left the impression “there was nothing to see, move along, I’ve looked at this and it’s fine,” Angus said in an interview.
“I think they circled the wagons around Pamela Wallin two weeks ago and decided to dig in. Now the wheels are falling off … so they seem to be trying to distance the prime minister.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper downplayed concerns Thursday over an arrest warrant for Arthur Porter, the former head of the committee that oversees Canada’s spy agency.
While Harper was minimizing worries about Porter’s top secret security clearance and privy councillor status, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews attacked the opposition parties for not challenging the government on the appointment when they had the chance in 2008.
New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair said it’s inexplicable, given Porter’s background, how he ended up as “the head of what is essentially Canada’s CIA.”
“I mean, how did he wind up in that job? We are looking at certain connections between him and some other people that were close to the Conservatives, but for that we’re going to wait a little while,” Mulcair said.
EI EI – OH!
The government likes to take credit for steering Canada through the worst of the worldwide recession. So you might think you could go back to the 2008 federal budget speech, and read about Flaherty’s plans to hike EI taxes. Something like “to better prepare for the slowdown ahead, your government will hike EI taxes 25 per cent over the next five years, pulling an additional $433 from every Canadian worker earning at least the average industrial wage by 2013. Tough times require tough tax decisions.”
Don’t spend a lot of time poring over old budget documents. The words are not in there.
The finance department expects a major EI tax haul in the next fiscal year, with revenues rising $1.7 billion to $21.8 billion, while EI benefit payments go up only $700 million to $18.9 billion.
“Wait a minute,” you might be saying to yourself. “Why is my tax-hating Conservative federal government jamming payroll taxes higher? Why are employment insurance taxes going up, when unemployment is going down? And why do they need $21.8 billion to run the EI program, when they only expect to pay $18.9 billion in EI benefits?”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper dodged questions in the House of Commons Tuesday over whether the government is handing out bonuses to managers who catch Canadians committing employment insurance fraud.
The Harper government is under opposition fire amid a crackdown on EI claimants that includes sending government inspectors to people’s homes and establishing annual dollar quotas for EI investigators — two practices that only came to light after media investigations.
STILL HAVING TROUBLE WITH THAT MATH THING…
OTTAWA — The Harper government’s vaunted national shipbuilding plan was under fire Thursday after Parliament’s budget watchdog found it could cost as much as $4.13 billion to replace the navy’s ancient resupply ships, and not $2.6 billion as originally budgeted.
The government says it will continue to refine its cost estimates as the new resupply vessels move from the drawing board to the Vancouver shipyard where they will be built.
But Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page warned the military risks losing key resupply capabilities unless more money is added, prompting opposition parties to accuse the government of planning to buy “tugboats painted grey.”
IN CANADA, THE GOV’T DOESN’T OWN THE OIL COMPANIES, THE OIL COMPANIES OWN THE GOV’T
OTTAWA – When the Harper government included a radical overhaul of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the last omnibus bill, outsiders scratched their heads and wondered out loud where that idea had come from.
Documents obtained through the Access to Information Act show it came, in part, from the pipeline industry.
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association met with senior government officials in the fall of 2011, urging them not just to streamline environmental assessments, but also to bring in “new regulations under (the) Navigable Waters Protection Act,” a CEPA slide presentation shows.
“We are now a petro-state,” said Marining, who now chairs the BC Environmental Network. The Harper government has repositioned the entire Canadian economy to be increasingly reliant on oil and gas exports, and has declared the exploration and development of the country’s natural resources as “in the national interest.”
He believes the balance that Canada had during the 1980s under Prime Minister Trudeau and the National Energy Policy has been upset by plans to make Canada a major oil exporter.
It is a major shift in both the economic and environmental landscape. And that shift has involved many to become involved in opposition to new pipelines, oil and gas fracturing and the Alberta oil sands projects.
ANOTHER DAY IN THE LIFE OF STEPHEN HARPER, ANOTHER LAWSUIT
(Part of the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan for Lawyers)
The lives of thousands of refugee claimants in Canada are being jeopardized by a federal government policy that is unconstitutional, says a group of doctors and lawyers taking Ottawa to court.
Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers launched a court challenge Monday, accusing the federal government of violating the charter and international obligations with its decision last year to change health-care coverage for refugee claimants.
$5 MILLION TO PANDER TO THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT?
The Harper Conservatives’ latest brainchild, an ambassador for religious freedom, is supposed to criticize other countries’ lack of protection for religious minorities. These critiques will have zero effect on the intended targets, but they will be wildly popular with domestic religious groups, who are the real political targets.
So Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have launched an Office of Religious Freedom.
Why are they effectively declaring it more important than the right to ‘life, liberty and security of the person’ or the right to be presumed innocent? Why pick out just one charter right, out of all the others, to promote and advance?
What’s going on here, of course, is political and ideological pandering. And it could exact a high price on Canada internationally, complicating and even damaging Canada’s foreign policy and international trade relations.
Not only do the Harper Conservatives tacitly reject the concept of universal human rights, he (and many of his party members) want to be able to pick and choose the rights to be deemed fundamental — and the people they deem worthy of enjoying them.
AND SPEAKING OF HUMAN RIGHTS…
A human-rights group based in Halifax has issued three report cards since 2011 on Canada’s anemic standing in the world with regard to so-called right-to-know legislation.
The Centre for Law and Democracy used a 61-point tool to measure Canada’s legislation against that of other countries, in co-operation with Madrid-based Access Info Europe.
Canada’s standing in September 2011 was 40th of 89 countries, fell to 51st in June last year, then to 55th of 93 countries last September, behind Mongolia and Colombia.
“While standards around the world have advanced, Canada’s access laws have stagnated and sometimes even regressed,” the centre concluded, noting Canada was a world leader in 1983 when its federal information law came into force.
The research won praise from Canada’s information commissioner, Suzanne Legault, who said “the analysis that this group has done is going to be a really useful tool” in her own investigation into freedom-of-information issues.
Rick Mercer thinks we’re living in a very different country these days, thanks largely to the Conservative government.
“This is the new Canada,” he said at the end of his rant Tuesday night. “Thank you for not talking.”
The CBC comedian has taken up the plight of scientists, particularly “eggheads in the Arctic,” who say they feel muzzled by Ottawa. An American oceanographer working on a climate change project with Canadian scientists made waves this month when he said our federal government was limiting his academic freedom.