Harper Watch – March 16 to 21, 2013


Ipolitics (Michael Harris)  – Fiscal ‘blackmail’ in Canada’s poorest quarter
They have kneecapped the political opposition, ignored the premiers, muzzled the scientists and even told federal librarians not to let their hair down when they’re not at work. Now the Harper government has brought its godfather negotiation tactics to the poorest postal code in the nation.

The federal government gave the storied Mi’kmaq band until March 15 to sign its annual Aboriginal Funding Agreement or completely run out of money on April 1, 2013. As of Sunday night, Chief Alvery Paul and his councillors have not signed and now face destitution in a matter of weeks.

Ipolitics (Michael Harris) -The Harper government is radicalizing First Nations
Even the credulous Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, must now understand the extent to which he has been taken in by the prime minister — and the growing distance between the misplaced passivity of the native leadership and the skepticism and activism of the grassroots Idle No More movement.

Not consulted on the PM’s appointment of the so-called ‘envoy‘ on native affairs, unaware of sneaky changes to the contribution agreements bands sign each year with Ottawa, and still wondering when all those high-level “transformative” meetings will take place, Atleo has been contemptuously tossed aside by his Tory friends.


HuffPost – Peter Penashue Byelection: Harper Wants A Candidate He Can Control, Ex-Tory MP Says
Retired MP Inky Mark told The Huffington Post Canada that he thinks the party chose to protect former Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue’s nomination because they were “scared of losing the seat to a more prominent and honest person … (to) someone you can’t control.”…. Despite preaching openness and democracy, Mark said, the Conservative Party under Harper is anything but open or democratic.

Global News – Story not over for Peter Penashue, says former Chief Electoral Officer
Even though he has resigned and repaid $30,000 in “ineligible” campaign contributions and vowed to run in a byelection to get his seat back, the story is not over for former intergovernmental affairs minister Peter Penashue, says former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley….“This is not a matter that disappears because a minister admitted that something wrong occurred.”


Huffington Post – Parks Canada News Conference Micro-Managed By Harper’s Communications Unit
Internal documents show the prime minister’s department micro-managed a media event staged by Parks Canada, trying to erase the venerable agency from a public announcement while promoting the Harper government.

The incident is a case study in communications control from the centre, a signal feature of the governing Conservatives since they first came to power in 2006.

Huffington Post – Environmentalists Say Harper Cabinet Secrecy Is Smothering Debate
(Back in Court – EAP for Lawyers still alive and well – I wonder why they’re not advertising it on TV?)
VANCOUVER – Environmentalists are asking a court to stop what they say is Ottawa’s use of cabinet secrecy to hide decisions and smother debate about endangered species.

“It’s getting weird,” said Melissa Gorrie, an environmental lawyer involved with the case going before the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver on Tuesday.


Elizabeth May – Oliver’s spin fails to cover a negligent record on tanker safety
“Joe Oliver’s ‘world class’ statement on tanker safety yesterday fits neatly within a clear pattern of spin-before-substance,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands.

Spin: Yesterday, Ministers Oliver and Lebel tabled Bill C-57, the Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act, touting it as yet another indication of the Harper Conservatives’ supposed commitment to all things environmental.

Reality: 100% of the Bill’s title is spin, and 99% of its content is simply departmental housekeeping, with little-to-no genuine impact on the safety of anything, never mind our seas and skies.

Huffington Post – Rick Mercer Slams Harper And Tories In Water Rant (Includes Video)
“Now to be fair to the Prime Minister, as far as scientists go they’re probably the very worst. I mean think about it. They’re up there living in tents and shacks, with their big bushy beards, eating mung beans out of Mason jars trying to figure out what different chemicals will do to our drinking water,” Mercer joked. “You know, they’re the people who figured out the acid rain problem. And now the Harper government is closing them down to save money. How much money? Two million dollars a year. But here’s the kicker — It will cost $50 million to shut them down. Wow! Someone really doesn’t like fresh water.”

CAW – Government still plans to close Vancouver Coast Guard marine communications station
VANCOUVER – Hours before a public relations exercise by federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver took place Monday in Vancouver Harbour, the largest oil spill response ship taking part came too close to a BC Ferry in Active Pass and then ran aground later on during an 11-hour trip from its Esquimalt base to Vancouver, says the Coast Guard’s marine communications union.

National Post – Federal budget cuts undermine Environment Canada’s mandateto enforce clean air regulations: emails
The Harper government’s budget cuts to scientific research at Environment Canada have compromised the department’s capacity to crack down on cancer-linked pollution and its mandate to enforce clean air regulations, say enforcement officers in a collection of internal emails obtained by Postmedia News.

Globe and Mail – As dismantling begins, shuttering of research station called a ‘travesty’
(Reminiscent of Diefenbaker’s cancellation of the Avro Arrow – he not only cancelled the program but had the planes and the plans destroyed.)
The federal government says it is still trying to find a buyer for the world-renowned freshwater research station in Northern Ontario that it is closing at the end of this month, but it has already sent in a crew to start taking down buildings.

The doors of the old sleeping cabins at the 45-year-old Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) are being ripped off, the appliances are being taken away, and the personal belongings of researchers are being removed.

David Schindler, the environmental scientist who first envisioned the Experimental Lakes Area and who was its director between 1968 and 1989, said he first realized the station was in jeopardy when Joe Oliver, the Natural Resources Minister, began referring to environmentalists as radicals who were trying to destroy the Canadian economy.

If it is closed, the ELA can never be duplicated, Dr. Schindler said. “We think there’s a lot of wilderness but, in fact, we’ve got a very crowded landscape already at temperate latitude,” he said, “so you would never be able to get it back.”

Toronto Star – Conservative scandals could overshadow budget in House this week
(A good but partial laundry list of scandals involving Harper government ministers and appointees.)
Two ministers had to resign from cabinet in the past month and three Conservative Senators are facing audits of their travel and housing expenses, prompting questions about whether Stephen Harper’s government is mired in a mid-term rut of scandals and high-level transgressions.

CBC – From ‘Bible Bill’ to Stephen Harper, the evolution of faith-based politics
A recent study of grants awarded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), by a political scientist at the University of Quebec, found that money allocated to religious non-profit groups increased 42 per cent between 2005-10, compared to a rise of five per cent for secular NGOs.

As well, for the first time, millions of federal dollars have been funnelled into private Christian colleges and universities through the government’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program.


Vancouver Sun – Canada’s federal librarians fear being ‘muzzled’
Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings on their own time are engaging in “high risk” activities, according to the new code of conduct at Library and Archives Canada.

Given the dangers, the code says the department’s staff must clear such “personal” activities with their managers in advance to ensure there are no conflicts or “other risks to LAC.”

HuffPost – Vic Toews Defends ‘Border Security’ Reality Show (VIDEO)
“You’re saying to someone ‘Hello, I am here to legally remove you from the country but would you mind signing this release so I can show your face on Canadian television?'”

Labove said the program is particularly problematic because it creates complicated and blurry lines between entertainment, information and typical government works.

“All of this just serves to remind people that CBSA has a very large mandate and a very large mission away from the border,” he said, adding that the fact that the show is modeled after an Australian program — Border Security: Australia’s Front Line — is worrisome.

“Australia is a country that has had a long history of deportation and immigration raids and inland enforcement. I’m not necessarily sure that’s the kind of society Canadians want.”

Vancouver Sun – Government won’t reveal cost to taxpayers of reality TV show on border guards
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews refused Monday to spell out how much it’s costing federal taxpayers to have Canada’s border guards participate in a B.C.-based reality TV show.

The opposition accused Toews of agreeing to participate in an “offensive PR (public relations) stunt” when he approved a 2011 Canada Border Services Agency’s proposal to co-operate in making Border Security: Canada’s Front Line.

CBC – From ‘Bible Bill’ to Stephen Harper, the evolution of faith-based politics
A recent study of grants awarded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), by a political scientist at the University of Quebec, found that money allocated to religious non-profit groups increased 42 per cent between 2005-10, compared to a rise of five per cent for secular NGOs.

As well, for the first time, millions of federal dollars have been funnelled into private Christian colleges and universities through the government’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program.


About TheAlektera

I am a Canadian who, like many is upset at the state of our country under the Harper Regime. I do not wish to see Canada change into Harperland under the Harper Government. This blog will help document the actions of the Harper government which are eroding Canada's democratic process.
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