Harper Watch April 8 to 11, 2013


G&M – It’s not just RBC. The foreign-worker program needs reining in
The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has more than doubled since the Harper government took office. The Department of Citizenship and Immigration reports the presence of 338,000 temporary foreign workers at the end of 2012.

RBC was clearly not suffering from a labour shortage. It already has Canadians doing the jobs in question. Many other Canadian residents are looking for work. Statistics Canada classifies 1.4 million workers as unemployed, almost six for every unfilled job in the country. Even the provinces supposedly suffering from the worst labour shortages – Alberta and Saskatchewan – have two unemployed workers per available job.

Toronto Star (Thomas Walkom) Deliberately lax visa rules encouraged RBC Outsourcing
Among other things, it demonstrates the absurdity of the federal government’s new training agenda. What’s the point of learning a skill if even highly skilled jobs are being exported abroad?

The second tragedy has to do with government itself. Yes, the Conservatives are focused on what they call the economy. But their economy is a ruthless, inhuman task-master.

Indian firm ‘indentures’ bank workers while making millions
Canadian bank insiders say outsourcing savings not worth the cost “It’s India operating on different soil. It’s not Canada,” said a former senior bank executive, who is now a consultant. “The banks are losing control of their business.”

Dozens of bank insiders said the outsourcing companies getting the big contracts are Tata Consultancy Services, iGATE, IBM Global and Mahindra Satyam. “It’s the elephant in the room that’s finally being talked about,” he said, adding he was upset to learn RBC paid iGATE more than $100 million in 2012, according to U.S. securities filings.

Toronto Star – EI cuts are another blow to the jobless
Unions and community groups pleaded with the government not to implement the measure. They failed. So last Sunday, employment insurance benefits in two-thirds of the country were quietly reduced. Existing recipients were spared but new EI claimants — starting with the 54,500 workers who lost their jobs in March — will be subject to tougher rules. Most will get less support.

BUDGET 2013 – Increased Income Taxes Disappoint Credit Unions
Canada’s credit unions were disappointed to see that today’s federal budget increases taxes for credit unions and caisses populaires in 2013 and in future years. A tax provision designed to help credit unions compete with big banks will be eliminated.

“We were surprised that Budget 2013 targets credit unions in this way,” said Gary Rogers, Vice President, Financial Policy with Credit Union Central of Canada. “The Income Tax Act is no stranger to a myriad of tax incentives and credits, including many introduced by the current government. In the absence of a comprehensive review and widespread reduction of tax expenditures, it is curious that one specific to credit unions has been terminated.”


Edmonton Journal – EU trade deal could cost Canada jobs
All free-trade agreements produce winners and losers. The federal government’s case for CETA is based on the shaky assumption that those who lose jobs or incomes will easily find opportunities elsewhere that leave them no worse off.

Nowadays free-trade agreements are really designed to reshape regulatory and policy frameworks to make them more attractive to foreign investors. So it comes as no surprise the real winners in free-trade agreements are multinational corporations.

Canada.com – Federal government plans to slash millions, hundreds of staff from Canada Revenue Agency compliance programs
As the federal government promises to strengthen its efforts to combat tax evasion, it’s planning to cut tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of staff from its compliance programs….

All told, the Conservative government is planning to cut more than $250 million and nearly 3,000 jobs from the CRA over the next three years.

CBC – Canadian Forces face danger pay cuts in Afghanistan
The federal government is reducing danger pay for Canadian military personnel who are currently serving in Afghanistan on training missions, saying that the country is not as dangerous as it used to be, according to Radio-Canada.

Starting in mid-April, the cut in danger pay will result in a loss of about $500 a month.


CBC – Suu Kyi rebuff of Canadian invite caused diplomatic scramble
Canadian diplomats seemed caught off-guard late last summer when Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi turned down an invitation to visit Canada. Newly released documents under access to information show diplomats scrambling in late August 2012 after the office of the opposition leader in Burma, also known as Myanmar, stopped responding to telephone calls and emails from Canadian officials before apologizing, saying Suu Kyi’s schedule was “too tight” and they were “unable to plan for this September trip to Canada.”

Embassy – Canada pulls out of international health group
Canada has pulled out of an international health and well-being group that it helped found—abandoning the group six weeks after committing to pay tens of thousands of dollars in yearly dues that its director says have never come.

Canada was one of 11 partner countries in the Northern Dimension Partnership on Public Health and Social Well-Being, a group set up as part of a wide-reaching dialogue between the European Union, Norway, Iceland, and Russia.

G&M – Baird underlines Israel support with controversial East Jerusalem visit
Foreign Minister John Baird has crossed symbolic lines in his visit to the Israel and the Middle East in a move sure to stir suggestions he has taken the Harper government’s pro-Israel stance further by taking sides in East Jerusalem.

Mr. Baird, in three days of meetings in Israel, repeatedly expressed his status as a staunch Israel supporter, in his own words, as a “true believer.”
(“True believer”, sounds like a religious devotion. Shouldn’t Canadian Members of Parliament be staunch supporters and “true believers” in Canada, not foreign countries?)


The Western Producer – Conservative bully tactics at ag committee becoming unseemly
Since the Conservatives won their majority two years ago, one of the most noticeable changes at the House of Commons agriculture committee is the lack of dissenting voices invited to testify….

So if known Conservative-agenda critics are invited at the recommendation of the opposition and the consent of the majority, it almost always is a trap: a chance for Conservative MPs to set civility and open debate aside to attack witnesses for who they are or where they stand on the political spectrum rather than what they say.

National Post – Beyond robocalls: Voters with bogus addresses marred Toronto federal election vote
Unethical actions during last year’s federal election may not have been limited to fraudulent phone calls.

Hundreds of unregistered voters in the Toronto-area riding of Eglinton-Lawrence got on the voters list in violation of Elections Canada rules, the CBC has reported.


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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