Harper Watch, February 15 to February 25, 2014

 Brilliant, true and hilarious article. G&M’s Gerald Caplan at his best: “Leopards don’t change their spots, and Mr. Harper is one diehard cat.”

G&M (Gerald Caplan) –If Harper wants to win again, there’s a former world leader he should learn from

People with no real lives of their own have been furiously debating whether Stephen Harper will lead his party into the next election or leave the poisoned chalice to his successor. For months now, the Conservatives have polled at 30 per cent or under – it was 29 per cent last week – a figure that makes defeat a pretty safe bet. Mr. Harper can hardly be looking to end his long political career by being electorally humiliated. And by the callow Justin Trudeau at that. So being the smartest guy in any room, wouldn’t he choose to step down first? Unless, say the bloviators, he changes his strategy. Here there is profound lack of consensus. Leopards don’t change their spots, and Mr. Harper is one diehard cat.


The Telegram – If you’re a non-voter, you’re part of the problem

Don’t care about politics? Chances are, you’re just the kind of voter a heck of a lot of politicians in this country love to have in their districts or ridings. Why? Because if you only have to convince three out of 10 people to vote for you instead of 10 out of 10, it’s easier to gather a smaller collection of the like-minded.

The Record – Veterans ill-served by Harper Tories

In the past, it took at least six to eight months to get my veteran’s issues finalized. Now with these cutbacks, I worry it’s going to be a lot longer. How the Harper government thinks it is doing its best with the quality of life for veterans with this big turnaround time is totally wrong.

Ottawa Citizen – Column: The revealing attack on Andrew Leslie

He joins an opposition party. His new party asks him to co-chair a review of defence and foreign policy and to speak at its policy convention this coming weekend. It sees him as a prospective candidate in the next federal election.

But then, curiously, it comes to light that since his retirement in 2011, the former general has sold his home in Ottawa and bought another one. The Department of National Defence has paid for the move.

On cue, a chorus of indignation. It’s a lapse of ethics! It’s deceptive! It’s greedy! Why, he’s “the Mike Duffy of the Canadian military.”

iPolitics – Michael Harris: Talk of Trudeau’s inexperience little more than Conservative pulp fiction

In Stephen Harper’s republic of fictions, one of the bigger ones is that Justin Trudeau isn’t qualified to be prime minister.

Nonsense. In a democracy, we all are or none of us is.

The current prime minister has offered a lot of reasons why people should vote for him. First there was honesty, accountability, and cleaning up government.

That didn’t go so well, so next came the pipeline economy. Everything will be fine if only we drop the maple leaf and put a barrel of oil on our flag.

But is that really such a good thing?


Canada.com – Election act changes could muzzle report on probe into robocalls, lawyer warns

(Horrifying. Will the Cons get away clean with election fraud? Looks more and more likely by the day)

A clause muzzling investigators in the Conservatives’ new election act could prevent Elections Canada from ever reporting on the outcome of its investigation into fraudulent and deceptive calls in the 2011 campaign, says a former lawyer for Elections Canada.

The Conservatives promised to pass legislation toughening election rules in March 2012, when Canadians learned of allegations of fraudulent telephone calls in the “robocalls” scandal in the May 2011 election.

But the bill tabled by the government earlier this month actually may prevent Marc Mayrand, the chief electoral officer, from reporting to Parliament on the results of an investigation into allegations of dirty calls across the country, says James Sprague, who was senior general counsel at Elections Canada until he retired in 2006.

Hill Times – Elections Canada says Opitz exceeded 2008 nomination campaign donation, only had one other donor for $50

(Twenty years ago, an MP caught doing something this serious would have been forced to resign.  In Harperland the scandals come so fast one can barely keep track never mind keep them accountable.  It’s a shock and awe campaign of scandals.)

Conservative MP Ted Opitz, who reached an agreement with the federal elections commissioner acknowledging that he donated nearly $7,000 more to his election nomination campaign in 2008 than he was legally allowed, had only one other contribution, $50, for the contest, the MP’s new return to Elections Canada shows. The settlement with Mr. Opitz (Etobicoke-Centre, Ont.) goes back to last October, but it was disclosed by the commissioner in the midst of a high-profile battle between the Conservative government and Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand over major changes the government is proposing for the Canada Elections Act, including significant restrictions to the freedom and powers of the chief electoral officer.

Huffington Post – Tory MP Brad Butt Admits Claim Of Witnessing Voter Fraud Wasn’t ‘Accurate’

(A sudden attack of conscience?)

“I made a statement in the House during the debate that is not accurate, and I just want to reflect the fact that I have not personally witnessed individuals retrieving voter notification cards from the garbage cans or from the mailbox areas of apartment buildings,” he said.

“I have not personally witnessed that activity and want the record to properly show that.”

rabble.ca – Harper’s election ‘reforms’ contradict what Conservatives voted for in 2012

Hamilton MP David Christopherson’s motion enjoined Parliament to give Elections Canada all the necessary powers to investigate and punish the sort of voter suppression that happened in 2011 .

It was clear to anyone who was paying attention at the time that all members of Parliament agreed on what should be the focus of those new rules: the dangerous fraud of impersonating an Elections Canada official.

The unambiguous sense of Christopherson’s motion was that Parliament should give Elections Canada the tools necessary to make sure such fraud never happened again.

Well, the Conservatives, every last one of them, voted for that motion, and then they showed they didn’t really mean it.

National Post – Conservatives’ Fair Election Act proposes to eliminate Elections Canada’s abilities to run get-out-and-vote campaigns

OTTAWA – Among the controversial proposals in the Conservative government’s proposed Fair Elections Act is one to eliminate Elections Canada’s abilities to run campaigns encouraging Canadians to get out and vote – no matter who for.

According to Pierre Poilievre, Canada’s minister of state for democratic reform, Elections Canada’s outreach campaigns – which began in 2003 in response to decades of declining voter turnout, particularly among youth — have failed to combat the troubling trend seen in Canada and virtually every western democracy.

But Poilievre’s equation doesn’t add up for experts who study the complex phenomenon of voter turnout.


Globe and Mail – What the Finance Minister hasn’t told Canada’s middle class taxpayers

“Canadian families keep more of their hard-earned dollars as a result of the government’s actions to reduce the tax burden,” the 419-page document points out.

So it might come as a bit of a surprise to many Canadians that the government’s long road back to a balanced budget is as much a story about rapidly growing tax revenues as it is about more widely discussed spending cuts.

In the wake of cuts to the GST and corporate income tax rates, personal income taxes are carrying a growing and outsized share of the load of paying for government. By 2018, personal income taxes will account for 50 per cent of total federal revenue – far and away the largest source of money for Ottawa.

CBC News – Average family income in Tory budget called ‘make believe’

Middle-class families are struggling economically, but at least one of them is doing quite well, thank you very much: the working parents with two kids who appear as a fictitious example in the federal budget each year.

Critics say the family’s rapidly rising income is a complete fiction as well.


CBC News – Watchdogs testify on bill partisan activities

(This is priceless. If it wasn’t so frightening, it would be hilarious. Kady O’Malley “The trouble there, of course, is that it would also require that parliamentary agent to decide whether to investigate themselves.”)

A trio of parliamentary watchdogs is set to appear before the House Ethics committee this morning to share their perspectives on Conservative MP Mark Adler’s bid to force agents of Parliament and their staff to publicly declare past political activity as part of a job application process.

Global News – Liberal MP Irwin Cotler barred from Conservative event in Israel: sources

(Adler, as you may recall, was the “million dollar shot” guy on Harper’s trip to Israel)

Frank Diamant, CEO of Binai’ Brith Canada, said he heard about the incident from a rabbi.

“My immediate reaction was surprise,” Diamant said. “Surprise on two levels – one, that Irwin was there; and second, that he was not given permission to come in the room.”

Diamant said he felt Cotler should have been allowed in.

“It was inappropriate to deny someone like Irwin, who pretty much knew all of us in the room.”


National Post – Retired general says Tories launched ‘personal attack’ over his expenses to undermine his role as Trudeau adviser.

A retired general who once led Canada’s troops in Afghanistan is accusing the federal Conservatives of a “personal attack” over his moving expenses to undermine his new role as a Liberal adviser. Former lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie brushed off what he characterized as a partisan smear Sunday, saying he’s been shot at by “real bullets” and can withstand the scrutiny that comes with working for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. The 35-year Canadian Forces veteran posted the comments online the same day the Defence Minister said he would ask his department to explain how it approved in-city moving expenses of more than $72,000 for Leslie — a Rob Nicholson said appeared “grossly excessive.”

Maclean’s – No mystery in the program behind the general’s moving costs

Or maybe Nicholson will conclude, after he gets around to listening to the explanation he’s requested from his own department, that it’s a bit much to put the onus on individual retiring soldiers to make that sort of ad hoc assessment. In that case, any problem with the design of the relocation program that results in excessive costs would be entirely the responsibility of the minister.

Herald News – Veterans start fund in bid to oust Tories


SYDNEY — The war chest has been hauled up from the basement, ready to be used to help defeat the federal Conservative government, say local war veterans.

“The plan is to build a war chest so we can have money to do the things we need to do to make sure this government falls,” said Ron Clarke, a veteran who spearheaded the now-failed campaign to keep Sydney’s Veterans Affairs office open.

Clarke, a 36-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, told members of the province’s standing committee on veterans affairs in Sydney on Monday that vets across the country believe now is the time for action.


The Spec.com – Court finds ‘enormous systemic problem’ in enforcement of Species at Risk Act

OTTAWA – A Federal Court judge has ruled that the environment minister and the fisheries minister both broke the law by failing to enforce the Species at Risk Act.

In a case covering four species that Justice Anne Mactavish calls “the tip of the iceberg,” the court found there’s a major systemic problem in the two ministries charged with protecting endangered and threatened wildlife.

The Star – How Harper’s government saves money by law-breaking: Walkom

The federal government claims its austerity measures are virtually costless.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have cut back spending to a degree rarely seen in this country. Between 2010 and the next election, the government predicts, it will have slashed direct spending by $45 billion

Yet it continues to claim that these cutbacks will have no real effect on the public. Instead, the Conservatives say, the brunt will be borne by those they dismiss as fat-cat, unionized civil servants.

But a recent Federal Court ruling challenges this rosy scenario.

CBC News – Oilsands study confirms tailings found in groundwater, river

“Well, it looks like what they’ve seen is that in fact the tailings ponds are leaking,” said Bill Donahue, environmental scientist with the oilsands advisory committee.

“They found also not only are those tailings ponds leaking, but it looks like it is flowing pretty much from those tailings ponds, through the ground and into the Athabasca River.”

“So, there goes … that message we’ve been hearing about. ‘These tailings ponds are safe, they don’t leak’ and so on.”

The tyee – Fisheries minister ignored advice from own scientists

When federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea approved the reopening of commercial herring roe fisheries on First Nations’ territories in British Columbia, she ignored the recommendations of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientists.

In a memorandum addressed to the minister on Dec. 9 2013, DFO scientists recommend maintaining the closure of the areas around the west coast of Vancouver Island, the central coast and Haida Gwaii for the 2014 fishing season. Despite the advice, Shea announced on Dec. 23, 2013 that the three areas would be reopened to commercial herring roe fisheries at a harvest rate of 10 per cent in 2014. –

Global News – Conservatives eye Arctic reindeer reserve for oil and gas exploration

OTTAWA – Tracts of land that had been set aside for reindeer grazing in Canada’s North have instead been offered up by the Conservative government for oil and gas exploration, newly released documents show.

Companies interested in obtaining petroleum exploration rights in the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea region of the Northwest Territories were asked last year to nominate blocks of land that they wanted to see included in a subsequent call for bids.


Maclean’s – Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund: where did the money go?

On a web page last updated December 5, DFATD said $35 million had been donated to registered charities. DFATD described this to Maclean’s as an “interim tally.” It would not provide the final amount.

It seems odd that the government is unable or unwilling to provide this information now. If an interim tally could be made available as donations were coming in, it is reasonable to expect that a final tally could be calculated five weeks after the deadline charities had to report typhoon-related donations has passed.


Ottawa Citizen – Colombian activists says Canadian companies benefiting from human rights abuses

(This sort of thing can only get worse under the Harper government’s restructuring of CIDA and their rampant free trade agenda)

OTTAWA — Three years after Canada signed a free-trade agreement with Colombia saying our country was committed to helping Colombians live “better, safer lives,” human rights activists came to Ottawa this week with a different message: Their nation is spiralling toward genocide, and some Canadian companies are reaping the benefits.

Canadian Dimension – Massive Canadian-Saudi export deal exposes Conservative hypocrisy

The Harper government’s real Global Action Plan, it indeed seems, is to sell pretty much anything to anyone. Compare this posture to the rhetoric of “ethical oil” which the government deployed in tandem with far right-wing boosters of the Alberta tar sands. The claim was that expansion of the tar sands was “ethical” since the alternative was to continue importing oil from places like Saudi Arabia.



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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