Harper Watch, December 3 to December 17, 2013


CTV News – Feds delay measures on serial numbers for guns until 2015
The Conservative government says it has postponed implementing new rules on serial numbers for guns until 2015 so it can consider its options, which could include killing the measure.  The decision was taken by decree in late November and posted on the Privy Council’s website on Wednesday.  The announcement said the delay will allow the government “to consult widely with all stakeholders.”

The delay comes just before Friday’s commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the massacre at Montreal’s Ecole polytechnique, Canada’s worst mass shooting.  Fourteen women were killed during gunman Marc Lepine’s rampage, which led to a call for stronger gun laws.

The rules would help keep Canada in compliance with international conventions on arms smuggling.

National Farmers’ Union – Op Ed – Say NO to UPOV ’91!
(More catering to large corporations at the expense of hard working Canadians)

Ottawa is moving quickly to implement the UPOV ’91 plant breeders’ rights convention with First Reading in Parliament of the Agricultural Growth Act, an agricultural omnibus bill. The proponents for this move say that doing this will keep private plant breeding money in Canada and stop us from somehow immediately turning into Luddites.

What is never acknowledged by the supporters of UPOV ’91 is what will be taken away from farmers. In exchange for this increased level of patenting of seed stocks, farmers will lose the right to save, store, sell and re-use farm-saved seed.

It is interesting that those who normally scream the loudest about the need to protect property rights are now championing UPOV ’91, a system that will protect only the intellectual property of multinational seed corporations at the expense of the intellectual commons that has been developed, collected and controlled by farmers over millennia.


Toronto Star – Without a safety net: Canadians still in dark about budget cuts, says parliamentary watchdog
Canada’s budget watchdog, created by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006, has taken to filing $5-dollar-a-pop Access to Information requests as a last-ditch way to try to find out how Conservative budget cuts will impact the public.

That Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Fréchette has been reduced to filing such requests like any citizen in hopes of getting details on the government’s own plans is seen as a telling symbol of the cloak of the secrecy thrown up by the Conservatives during nearly eight years in power in Ottawa.

G & M – Low-income social housing residents anxious as Ottawa ends subsidies

Christine Crawford is a poet and seamstress who suffers from chronic, debilitating asthma. For more than a decade, her sunny apartment in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill Co-op has been her treasured oasis.

Yet Crawford faces an uncertain future that’s weighing on her this Christmas. In less than two years, Crawford could face the terrifying prospect of homelessness if the federal government fails to heed calls to work with provinces and territories to maintain social housing funding.

Toronto Star – Conservatives dismantling social programs built over generations

A Toronto Star analysis has for the first time pulled together a detailed account of the range of recent cuts seen under Stephen Harper’s government.

(This article contains an excellent interactive info-graphic that provides specific examples of important organizations that have had their funding cut by the Harper government)

From the unemployed to low-income families and poor seniors, more people than ever are struggling with grim choices as they try to cope in the leaner, meaner Canada presided over by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Since winning power eight years ago next month, the federal Conservatives have chipped away at programs that helped define the compassionate, caring Canada built over the course of several generations.

“It is changing Canada,” former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow says of the current federal approach to social and economic policy.

“Unchecked, if we continue down this path, the big danger is a more regionalized and more unequal nation,” Romanow, who headed a royal commission on the future of health care in 2002, told the Star.

 G&M – Conservatives appear cool to CPP expansion
(The title only tells part of the story.   The article goes on to state that the Harper government is using government websites for political purposes -to bash the NDP.)

Now Ottawa appears to be a strong critic of change. This week, Finance Canada attacked the NDP over CPP reform on its website.

“Despite the fragile economic environment, the New Democratic Party has proposed a radical plan to increase payroll tax, stunt our economic growth and kill up to 70,000 jobs. Its irresponsible plan would eliminate thousands of jobs and could endanger our economic growth,” stated the opinion column by Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson posted on Thursday.

The Communications Policy of the Government of Canada states that the government’s values and ethics involve “informing the public about policies, programs, services and initiatives in an accountable, non-partisan fashion.”

Maclean’s – Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty blocks CPP improvement plans: provinces

A federal-provincial meeting on Canada Pension Plan reform broke up in recriminations Monday after several provincial ministers accused Finance Minister Jim Flaherty of blocking efforts to enrich the plan — or even agreeing to further study.

The federal ministers told reporters after the meeting there had been no consensus, but Sousa and ministers from Prince Edward Island, Quebec and British Columbia all said Ottawa was the only voice against proceeding to consultations and study.

“I’m very disappointed that they used stall tactics in order to ensure that CPP enhancement wasn’t even considered at this point in time,” a visibly angry Sousa said.

“It shows to me that unilateral decisions are being made without consultations with the provinces. Ontario will go it alone, we will look at alternatives as we must to protect the interests of our citizens.”


Vancouver Observer – Harper government’s spy coordinators have some ‘splaining to do
Records obtained by a journalist under the Access to Information Act,  as reported in the Vancouver Observer, suggest that the RCMP and CSIS gathered intelligence on groups opposed to oil and gas development — groups like our client ForestEthics Advocacy — and characterized them as a potential security risk in emails to members of the National Energy Board (NEB).

Why is this problematic? The NEB oversees the environmental review process for the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project. Its job is to make a final and independent recommendation on whether the Northern Gateway pipeline should go ahead.  So, if the RCMP and CSIS characterized our clients and those who have publicly stated their opposition to the pipeline as security risks, then what bearing did that have on the NEB? Were these groups discredited before they even had a chance to appear before the panel?

HuffPost – Mark Jaccard, Ex-Harper Appointee, Calls Canada A ‘Rogue State’ On Environment
Jaccard, an adviser to different governments and a professor at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University, said he doesn’t want the oilsands shut down — he just doesn’t want them to grow. “On climate, Canada is a rogue state,” Jaccard said. “It’s accelerating the global tragedy … The U.S. government should reject Keystone XL and explain to the Canadian government that it hopes to join with Canada (on a global climate plan).”….

His disenchantment with the Conservative government reached a boil after the 2011 election, Jaccard said in an interview after his speech.  He said he tried to work with the government — not only at the Round Table, but as an adviser to then-environment minister Rona Ambrose. But after the Conservatives won a majority in 2011, the rhetoric hardened, the Round Table vanished and it became clear they had no interest in tackling climate change, Jaccard said.

CTV News – Shell’s Jackpine mine gets nod from Ottawa, despite environmental effects

Shell Canada’s Jackpine oilsands mine expansion plan has received the go-ahead from Ottawa, despite the environment minister’s view that it’s “likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

In a statement late Friday, environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq concluded that the effects from the 100,000-barrel-per-day expansion are “justified in the circumstances.”

The nearby Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has said the project will violate several federal laws covering fisheries and species at risk, as well as treaty rights

They said they had received so little information on how Shell plans to live up to conditions imposed on it by a federal-provincial panel that they asked Ottawa for a 90-day delay on the decision — originally expected Nov. 6 — to work some of those issues through.

They were granted a 35-day delay, but Friday’s decision didn’t even wait until that period was up.


Huffington Post – MPs’ Staff Asked To Sign Lifetime Confidentiality Agreements
(Interesting that by whatever means the truth comes out, the Conservatives find a way to block it)

“At a time when some parliamentarians are moving to create a more open and transparent Parliament, the [House of Commons’] Board of Internal Economy is putting measures in place to ensure parliamentary staff can’t be whistleblowers on their employers,” the email said.

The author highlights several provisions, including the lifetime application of the contract and the fact that any breach can result in immediate termination without pay or notice, as well as a new requirement to disclose all outside work, including volunteer gigs.

“If a MP staff member wanted to write a book about their time working in Parliament they couldn’t … but their MP could. Talk about a double standard,” the email says.

CTV News – Information commissioner probing why PCO failed to disclose Wright-Duffy emails

The federal Information Commissioner has assigned an investigator to probe why the Privy Council Office, which reports to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, failed to disclose thousands of emails involving the deal for Nigel Wright to pay Sen. Mike Duffy’s ineligible expenses.

Liberal MP Ralph Goodale had filed an access request for all emails in June, but the PCO replied that no such emails existed.

However, in two speeches to the Senate in October, Duffy referred to emails he exchanged with Wright and other correspondence between PMO staffers and Conservative senators regarding his expenses. And on December 1, the RCMP revealed the PCO had actually given them thousands of emails about the secret deal in September.

Ottawa Citizen – Right to Know: Bill C-13 — cyberbullying or legislative bullying?
(The ghost of Vic Toews rises again)
Canadians should ask themselves: are we prepared to trust our sensitive personal data to the intuitions of police officers? We demand a higher standard when it comes to searches of our homes and our computers. Should the identifying data held by Internet Service Providers be any different?

Canadians who sign contracts with ISPs expect that their personal data will be guarded and not shared without their consent. As it is now drafted, Bill C-13 will serve to break that trust and expose customers to government snooping, all without proper notice or judicial authorization.

At its core, Bill C-13 is not about cyberbullying. It is about bullying legislators and the Canadian public into accepting laws that are fundamentally misconceived and wrong-headed.

Huffington Post – Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canada Caving On Controversial Issues?

The federal government is staying quiet on reports it has caved to U.S. demands on intellectual property and copyright issues in a new Pacific trade deal currently under negotiation, saying only that talks are ongoing.

Citing a report from the Washington Trade Daily, the Council of Canadians says Canada has backed off its resistance to “outrageous” new intellectual property rights the U.S. wants to see included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

WikiLeaks, which released a draft copy of the IP chapter of the deal last month, described it as having “far-reaching implications for individual rights and civil liberties.”


(Step one: STOP HARPER)

CTV News – Private member’s bill will ‘restore Canadians’ faith in their Parliament’

Conservative MP Michael Chong says his private member’s bill that would give more power to party caucuses, including the ability to oust their leaders, will rebalance power between the legislative and executive branches of government and “restore Canadians’ faith in their Parliament.”

Chong, who has served as the MP for Wellington-Halton Hills for nearly 10 years, tabled his bill on Tuesday morning.

“The proposals in the Reform Act would reinforce the principle of responsible government,” Chong told reporters on Parliament Hill. “It would make the executive more accountable to the legislature, and ensure that party leaders maintain the confidence of their caucuses.”

National Newswatch – Chong Bill Needs Some Sober First Thought
(This is a Must Read Article.  The author’s analysis of the complexities of parties and parliament is insightful.  Even if you agree with Chong that our Westminster traditions must be written down, it’s not that simple.  It’s not a cure all.)

“I commend all the debate and discussion on how to strengthen our democracy, but what would really get me excited is a bill to end the use of Omnibus legislation and time allocation. Maybe then we could start properly debating some of the issues that really affect Canadians. The fact we’re not getting that kind of bill from a government backbench MP just shows how much they truly do consent to their government’s legislative strategy.”

Huff Post – Pierre Poilievre Suggests Tories Don’t Need Reform Act
(Delusional or what?)

The minister of democratic reform suggested Tuesday he sees no need for a Conservative backbencher’s bill that proposes to limit the powers of the prime minister and other party leaders.

In an interview with The Huffington Post Canada, Pierre Poilievre said he hadn’t seen MP Michael Chong’s bill and wouldn’t comment directly on it. But the minister indicated that the problems it aims to fix — liberating MPs from the stranglehold of party leaders — do not exist in the Tory caucus.


Federal minister says child poverty not Ottawa’s problem

It appears the federal government won’t be helping BC get out of the top spot when it comes to child poverty.

“Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.” That from Federal Minister of Industry James Moore who is also the Member of Parliament for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam. He says it’s the responsibility of the provinces to deal with child poverty, and Ottawa has no plans to step in.

The federal government has been criticized for not meeting a unanimous motion passed in the House of Commons back in 1989 to end poverty by the year 2000. Nothing was done, but the motion was renewed in 2009. Child Poverty Watchdog Campaign 2000 says to this date there has been no movement from Ottawa on helping the estimated 1 in 7 kids living in poverty in our country.

National Post – James Moore apologizes for poverty comment: ‘Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so’
(The apology was, of course, preceded by a denial and a refusal)

Industry Minister James Moore has apologized for a controversial remarks he made over the weekend after critics accused him of saying the federal government doesn’t have a role in ending child poverty in Canada.

On Twitter, he initially argued he was taken out of context and that the controversy was “ridiculous.”

CBC News – Artists ‘insulted’ as Moore jabs NDP MP in heat of QP

In its zeal to deflect attention from the Senate expenses scandal, the Harper government managed Thursday to antagonize some of Canada’s most prominent arts and culture luminaries.

This year’s winners of the Governor General’s performing arts awards were in the gallery of the House of Commons as Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore fended off opposition queries about Sen. Mike Duffy’s invalid expense claims.

Actor Eric Peterson, winner of one of this year’s lifetime achievement awards, was among the artists who walked out of the chamber in disgust.

“I was led to believe I was to be introduced in the House of Commons and I was to be congratulated for what I’ve done, instead of sitting there and to be insulted by this incredibly insensitive remark about artists in general and about a particular artist and colleague of mine in particular.

“I just got up and left … I felt very slighted and hurt by it.”

Peterson was particularly dumbfounded that such remarks came from the minister responsible for Canadian arts and culture. He said Moore appears to believe his job is “to protect corporations and the taxpayer from the rapacious demands of artists.”



iPolitics (Walter Dorn) – Shameless: Canada’s cluster bomb policy
(Dr. Walter Dorn is a professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces College)
The Conservatives have backed the lawyers from the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and so far have supported the completely out-of-place Section 11 of the bill. The government has called a special session of the Foreign Affairs Committee to hear arguments on Section 11. Having testified before this committee, I strongly hope that they will eliminate or amend the paragraphs that would undermine Canada’s full implementation of the Convention.
The current wording in Section 11 allows for exemptions to be made in cases of “cooperation” with an ally not obligated by the Convention, assumed to be the United States. Thus, under Bill C-6, members of the Canadian Forces are, in the words of the legislation, not prohibited from “aiding and abetting”, “directing or authorizing”, “conspiring with” or “requesting” the use of these abhorrent weapons during operations with a non-party. The inclusion of this section, as it stands, presents two major problems.

iPolitics (Andrew Mitrovica) – What’s the going rate for an MP’s self-respect?
Paul Calandra used to sell insurance before — as the prime minister’s willing shill both in and outside the House of Commons — he sold something infinitely more valuable: his self-respect.

I had thought, foolishly, that few in the Conservative caucus could rival the frankly repellent Pierre Poilievre in contorting the truth as the party’s rabidly obedient question period attack mutt. I was wrong.

Calandra has slipped into Poilievre’s soiled spot as Parliament’s propagandist-in-chief with such apparent ease, enthusiasm and droning monotony that he has made his predecessor sound coarsely eloquent. I didn’t think that was even remotely possible.

Toronto Star (Susan Delacourt) – Political reform: Let’s overhaul the ad game while we’re at it
If we’re serious about fixing our broken politics, I can think of some measures that are equally deserving of our immediate attention and enthusiasm — with potentially larger impact on the relationship that counts; the one between electors and elected.
I’m thinking in particular here about advertising — political and government advertising. Whether we admit it or not, advertising has become a primary channel of communication between politics and citizens, and it increasingly resembles a Wild West in terms of standards and rules.


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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