iPolitics (Lawrence Martin) – On the economy, the opposition is missing a chance to score
(Lawrence Martin gives good advice and ammunition to the opposition parties. The myth that the Harperites are good on the economy has to be constantly and forcefully debunked!)
Though the Conservatives have lost a whopping amount of support since the last election, they still hold the advantage of being seen as the best economic managers.
Opposition parties have been unable to exploit the economy’s weaknesses. They’ve been run over by the constant Conservative refrain about Canada doing better in tough times than other countries. If the Liberals and New Democrats can’t knock that pigeon over by shifting the debate out of the comparative context, they’re in trouble.
Recently, they’ve received some help. New economic statistics are painting a not-so-happy picture.
Postmedia (Mike De Souza) – Canadians spend more on transport than food; ‘worrisome’ transport trends hampering economy
(An excellent piece of investigative journalism by Mike De Souza. Harper government ignores advice of bureaucrats and pursues the same laissez-faire policy in regards to transport as it does for all other matters.)
The average Canadian household spends more on transportation than on food and the transport sector is failing to keep up with innovative technologies, hampering the country’s economic productivity, federal bureaucrats told the transport minister in internal briefing notes….
“The transportation sector lacks coordinated strategies to promote innovation and technology,” said the briefing notes, prepared for the minister following the May 2011 federal election. “Canada needs better information sharing, improved coordination of current investments, and greater leadership capacity across its public and private sectors.”
SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT
G&M – Scientists push campaign for evidence-based decision making from government
Hundreds of participants gathered in 17 cities for rallies on Monday. In Toronto some donned lab coats while in Vancouver protesters were seen wearing gags adorned with the Conservative Party logo – a reference to the alleged muzzling of federal scientists by political overseers.
“We’re really pleased with the turnout,” said Katie Gibbs, a biologist and executive director of Evidence for Democracy, the Ottawa-based science advocacy group that co-ordinated the effort.
Exhausted your G&M articles for this month? See Huff Post instead.
ACCOUNTABILITY AND SOUND ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT HARPER STYLE
CBC – Shipbuilding contract holds $250M mystery
Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced March 7 in Halifax that Ottawa will pay Irving Shipbuilding $288 million just to design — not build — a fleet of new Arctic offshore patrol ships. Irving will then build the ships under a separate contract.
However, a survey of similar patrol ships bought by other countries shows they paid a fraction of that $288 million to actually build the ships — and paid less than a tenth as much for the design.
Macleans – The missing $3.1B no one is asking about
A few billion dollars went missing in Ottawa over a period of eight years, but after a government watchdog finally uncovered the consistently shoddy accounting, only a few weeks passed before everybody stopped asking about where the big pile of money ended up.
At stake is $3.1 billion in anti-terror funding that, according to Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s spring report, lacked any paper trail. After the terrorist attacks in September 2001, the federal government budgeted $12.9 billion of anti-terror funding across several departments. The years-long effort was known as the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism Initiative. Of that sum, the auditor general could only determine where $9.8 billion was spent.
ELECTION FRAUD & DEMOCRACY
Council of Canadians -Conservatives fail to win “outrageous” costs in latest election fraud court ruling
“I’m pleased that the judge recognized the merits of our case and the integrity which our lawyers, the Council of Canadians and all the applicants brought forward,” said Peggy Walsh Craig, one of the applicants in the legal challenge. “And the lack of integrity and disrespect for democracy by the Conservative Party speaks volumes for all Canadians.”
Rather than the $355,907 the Conservative MPs requested, the judge awarded them a modest amount – the $1,000 security deposit for each application plus $6,206 in disbursements, for a total of $13,206. The applicants had previously been awarded $18,000 in costs on some of the procedural motions.
iPolitics – Rathgeber hits the road for ‘Broken Democracy’ tour
Independent MP Brent Rathgeber is on a mission. Dubbed the “Broken Democracy” tour, the former Conservative member of Parliament, who left the CPC caucus last spring after his private member’s bill seeking greater transparency for civil servants was “gutted” by fellow Conservative MPs, is hopping from university campus to university campus to talk parliamentary democracy and the role of the MP.
FIRST NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS
Vancouver Observer – After meetings with federal ministers, Chief Stewart Phillip urges British Columbians to take to the street
“It was somewhat of a strange exchange, given the fact Minister Oliver sat there and repeated by rote, speaking points reflective of the government of Canada’s position on the pipeline issue. We took the opportunity to continue to express our ongoing concerns with respect to these pipeline proposals.
My point is there wasn’t any engagement, or dialogue in terms of Minister Oliver saying ‘what will it take? What are your recommendations? There was nothing of that nature. He just sat there and repeated his talking points.”
Ottawa Citizen – Wounded vets asked to sign form saying they won’t criticize the military on social media
The Canadian Forces is requiring physically and mentally wounded soldiers to sign a form acknowledging they won’t criticize senior officers or discourage others in uniform with their comments on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The form, given to military personnel who are transferred to the Joint Personnel Support Unit, was sent to the Citizen by military members upset with what they see as a threat to their right to speak out about the failure of the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces to take care of the wounded.
Global News – Canada rejects UN rights panel call for review of violence on aboriginal women
Golberg said Canada takes the issue seriously and that provincial and local governments are better suited to getting results on those issues.
Shawn Atleo, national chief of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations, said there is deep concern among aboriginals over the government’s refusal to conduct a national review of the problem.
“There is strong support for this action domestically among provincial and territorial leaders and the Canadian public and strong international support, not to mention a multitude of reports and investigations that urge Canada to act,”Atleo said in a statement.
National Post – Despite being in New York, Harper will shun UN podium again
More than a dozen former Canadian ministers, senior diplomats and others are calling on the federal Conservatives to re-engage with, and help fix, the United Nations, even as Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepares to skip another opportunity to address the world body this month.
The prime minister’s office has confirmed Harper will be in New York next week, where world leaders will be gathering to speak during the opening of the UN’s 68th General Assembly.
AHHH THE BENEFITS OF FREE MARKET ECONOMIES
G&M – Ottawa to step up support for mining
The Canadian government is readying a campaign to promote this country’s mining sector abroad, an effort that will draw on Ottawa’s power and global network of diplomatic missions to help companies expand their exploration and extraction activity around the world. In recent years, Ottawa has jointly funded development projects in Africa and South America with large mining corporations.
CBC – Eli Lilly files $500M NAFTA suit against Canada over drug patents
(Expect a lot more of this if Harper signs the FIPPA with China, CETA with Europe and TPP with pacific rim countries.)
Eli Lilly is accusing Canada of violating its obligations to foreign investors under the North American Free Trade Agreement by allowing its courts to invalidate patents for two of its drugs. The company officially filed a complaint this week with NAFTA seeking $500 million US in compensation.
The court found that the clinical trial used to demonstrate the drug’s utility — a seven-week, double-blind placebo-controlled study of 22 patients — was “too small and too short in duration to provide anything more than interesting but inconclusive data.”
G&M – Harper relaxes accountability rules for China’s use of uranium
Stephen Harper has chosen to override the qualms of the government’s non-proliferation experts to permit a multibillion-dollar business in exports of Saskatchewan uranium to China’s nuclear industry.
A deal the Prime Minister announced in China, a protocol amending Canada’s nuclear co-operation agreement with China to allow the export of uranium concentrate, seals far closer ties with Beijing than ever seemed possible in Mr. Harper’s early days in power.
CBC – Board upholds union’s bad-faith complaint against Treasury Board
The federal government has been bargaining in bad faith in its negotiations with striking diplomats, the Public Service Labour Relations Board ruled on Friday.
The government “violated its duty to bargain collectively in good faith and make every reasonable effort to enter into a collective agreement,” concluded the board in its 27-page decision.
CTV News – Canadians tuning out Economic Action Plan ads: poll
(Con strategist Gerry Nicholls admits that “the message behind the Economic Action Plan was primarily political”. So the Harper government is using taxpayers’ money for political purposes. Shouldn’t there be an RCMP investigation into this too.)
“I don’t think the Conservatives are losing sleep that no one is visiting the website,” Gerry Nicholls, formerly with the National Citizens Coalition when Stephen Harper was its president, said in an interview from Oakville, Ont. “I think the message behind the Economic Action Plan was primarily political, that is, to show Canadians that the government is doing a good job with the economy.”