Harper Watch, October 1 to 8, 2013


The Tyee (Murray Dobbins) – Harper Trade Deals Selling off Canada’s Democracy
What if provincial governments were as brave as the Hupacasath First Nation? 

…..The second front of this war on democracy is the plethora of so-called trade deals — really Corporate Rights Deals (CRDs) — that Harper is busy negotiating. These odious agreements are always touted for their job creating prowess — the Big Lie technique repeated over and over again. They typically jettison the best jobs. Their promoters rarely talk about the most important aspect of these constitution-busting agreements: their investment provisions…..

Who will save us from this repugnant, anti-democratic initiative? Probably no one. The only player to come to the plate has been the tiny Hupacasath First Nation of B.C., which challenged FIPA in federal court. Unfortunately the judge not only found for the government, he assessed costs to the band of over $100,000. They are appealing and are down to the wire seeking donations to help with the case.

But ultimately it is the provinces which hold the real power to save democracy.

CTV – DND may abandon $1B move to former Nortel site because of surveillance bugs
(There lots of talk in Ontario about the Liberals cancelling the gas plants at a cost of 1 billion but not so much about this billion dollar white elephant courtesy of Peter MacKay.)
The Department of National Defence may not move into its new headquarters at a former Nortel Networks complex because the building is riddled with eavesdropping devices.

DND told CTV News it may abandon the move, and sources said it’s unlikely any other department would take over the former Nortel site because of the security risks.  Former Nortel employees allege the company was the target of Chinese espionage for nearly a decade…..  Documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen show that then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay was warned about the security threat last year.


CBC – Mike Duffy friend paid $65K for ‘no apparent work,’ RCMP allege

A friend of Mike Duffy was paid $65,000 by his Senate office for “little or no apparent work,” an RCMP investigator alleges in court documents filed today in Ottawa.

The RCMP are seeking banking information for Duffy and Patrick Brazeau, two senators named by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the end of 2008. Duffy and Brazeau are under investigation for fraud and breach of trust over their Senate expense claims, the RCMP say in the affidavits.

In the affidavit pertaining to Duffy, Cpl. Greg Horton says he believes Duffy “hired a friend as a consultant over an approximate four-year period, and paid him a total of approximately $65,000 during that time, for little or no apparent work.”   The money came out of Duffy’s Senate office budget.

Conservative Senator Leo Housakos denies involvement in questionable fundraising
Conservative Senator Leo Housakos solicited tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of questionable construction industry donations for a Quebec provincial party immediately prior to his appointment to the upper house in 2008, according to one of the star witnesses at the Quebec inquiry into municipal and provincial corruption.

Postmedia (Stephen Maher) – Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recurring Senate nightmares
At 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Tuesday paramedics and police went to the Gatineau, Que., residence of Sen. Patrick Brazeau. The second time, they took a distraught person from the residence to the hospital.

On Wednesday, Brazeau will appear in court in Gatineau — walking through a gauntlet of cameras — to face assault and sex assault charges after a February incident at his home.


Postmedia (Mike De Souza) – Cities ask Stephen Harper for housing, infrastructure help
(The Harper government has no environmental policy, no energy or food security policy, no agricultural policy, no transportation policy, no affordable housing policy only “Laissez-Faire” policy.)
Canada’s cities say that mounting mortgage debt held by cash-strapped Canadians is putting “our national economy at risk,” and they have urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a letter, to use his government’s upcoming throne speech to set the stage for an agenda to help bring down housing costs in their communities.

The letter, dated Oct. 1, also calls on the government to pursue its new 10-year multibillion dollar infrastructure plan as well as follow through on a recent commitment by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt to address public safety concerns about the transportation of dangerous goods in the aftermath of the Lac-Megantic runaway train disaster and other accidents.

G&M – Disabled veterans will suffer financially under new compensation plan, report warns
Some of the country’s most severely disabled soldiers will take a major financial hit once they hit old age and risk living out their final years in near-poverty, Canada’s veterans ombudsman has concluded.

A report and a painstaking actuarial analysis by Guy Parent’s office are due to be released on Tuesday, but copies were obtained by The Canadian Press.

CBC – Christy Clark warns Canada unprepared for tanker oil spills
If a tanker were to spill oil off the coast of British Columbia today, the federal government would not have the resources to handle a large-scale disaster, warns B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

In an interview with CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, Clark sounded the alarm over Canada’s inability to handle a major coastal oil spill now, let alone in the future should new pipelines be approved. “We are woefully under-resourced,” Clark said.


Times Colonist – No journalists barred from Harper’s trip to Southeast Asia, PMO insists
(Note that media organizations pay big money for their journalists to ride on the PMs plane but he only answers 4 pre-screened questions a day.  Isn’t it time the media stopped following this non-story PM around?  I wonder how he would like being completely ignored?)

A veteran TV cameraman will be allowed to travel to Malaysia with the prime minister this week after all.  Earlier today, Stephen Harper’s office appeared poised to scratch CTV journalist Dave Ellis from the trip because he asked an impromptu question during a media event last week in New York. The TV networks fought back, insisting that they — not the Prime Minister’s Office — should decide who to assign to cover Harper when he travels abroad.

Toronto Star – Torstar chair attacks federal Conservatives
The federal Conservatives have gone to unprecedented lengths to control the news agenda, says Torstar Corporation Chair John Honderich. “What the Harper government has done to restrain the flow of information and hold press conferences is simply outrageous,” he told a group of Ryerson University MBA students on Wednesday.

CBC – PMO breaks tradition with email briefing
Let me state up front, I like tradition.  So for example, when my family tries to serve up something other than turkey for Thanksgiving, I’m unhappy. It was the same feeling yesterday when I heard the Prime Minister’s Office was not holding an actual briefing on the prime minister’s upcoming trip to southeast Asia.  Instead, they sent out an email.

It was three and a half pages long, filled with information I had already gleaned from the APEC website, the department of foreign affairs and a Google search or two. The prime minister’s new director of communications told me he was available to answer any questions I may have. So far, I have not had a reply to either of my two emails today.

I’ve been on Parliament Hill for 11 years. I’ve gone on prime minister’s trips with a total of three prime ministers. There has always been an in-person briefing that’s led to at least an hour of questions from the parliamentary press gallery. There has never been, in my memory, just an email.

G&M – Canadian income data ‘is garbage’ without census, experts say
(Note, 324 reader comments on this article in just one day. This is nowhere near the 3000 or so comments this topic generated when it first came up in the summer of 2010 but still, it seems the Census rivals hockey as a Canadian passion.)

Canada’s National Household Survey on incomes produced flawed data with harmful implications for public policy, according to a range of researchers and statistics experts who have sifted through the numbers.

Consultants, urban planners and health policy experts say the data quality is worse than they’d expected, masking key shifts in income inequality and poverty in the country. The blurred picture has also left them unable to track trends over time. And they question whether the higher cost to produce data of worse quality – at $22-million extra for the survey for a total census cost of $652-million – amounts to wasted taxpayers’ dollars.

Canada.com (Mike De Souza) – Harper government says bureaucrats cut organized crime unit at Canada Revenue Agency
Meantime, the elimination of the agency’s Special Enforcement Unit, established in the 1980s to fight organized crime, was highlighted in a Radio-Canada investigation that featured former federal auditors who criticized the cuts and alleged that the agency was infiltrated by criminal organizations. The television network’s investigative show, Enquete, reported that the dismantled special unit worked closely with police and was involved in several high-profile raids and dozens of arrests in recent years.

(Spying on Brazil but doesn’t know what’s going on  at the Canadian Revenue Agency because the Enforcement Unit was cut.)

CBC – Canada spying in Brazil: more to come, Greenwald promises
 Canada hasn’t seen the last of stories alleging spying activity in Brazil,  journalist Glenn Greenwald told CBC News on Monday….

“There’s a lot of other documents about Canadians spying on ordinary  citizens, on allied governments, on the world, and their co-operation with the United States government, and the nature of that co-operation that I  think most Canadian citizens will find quite surprising, if not shocking,  because it’s all done in secret and Canadians are not aware of it,” Greenwald said.

CBC – Christy Clark warns Canada unprepared for tanker oil spills
If a tanker were to spill oil off the coast of British Columbia today, the federal government would not have the resources to handle a large-scale disaster, warns B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

In an interview with CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, Clark sounded the alarm over Canada’s inability to handle a major coastal oil spill now, let alone in the future should new pipelines be approved. “We are woefully under-resourced,” Clark said.


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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