Harper Watch, February 26 to March 5, 2014


COMMENTARY

Canada.com – Andrew Coyne: The Manning Networking conference is a gathering of the Conservative party in exile

OTTAWA —  So this is what a Conservative convention looks like. After that bizarre lockdown in Calgary last fall — reporters harassed and penned in at every turn, the prime minister’s defiantly empty speech, the air heavy with self-congratulation and paranoia — the annual Manning Networking conference exudes an altogether different spirit: thoughtful, open, introspective … and conservative.

Of course, the Manning Centre is avowedly non-partisan: It’s supposed to be conservative, not Conservative. But then, the Conservative party is supposed to be conservative. If the Manning conference has gotten more overtly partisan over the years, it may be because the party has gotten less overtly anything, other than unpleasant. Or rather, the leadership has. But looking at the contrast between this ostensibly non-partisan convention and its partisan predecessor, the thought occurs: This is the real Conservative convention. It is a gathering, if you like, of the Conservative party in exile.

iPolitics – Michael Harris: Conservatives’ big bang is fast approaching

It is a slow process, but can reach runaway elevator speed if the cable snaps. Harper is at the stage where it is beginning to fray.

Knowingly or unknowingly, the prime minister has presided over two major scandals which are both far from over — Robocalls and the Wright/Duffy Affair — and one in which the party was caught cheating, the In-and-Out scandal. His Conservative values are now purely rhetorical.

Guelph Mercury – Frank Valeriote on the Fair Elections Act

The cause of fair elections is one close to my heart, particularly since Guelph became ground zero for a concerted and malicious campaign to mislead non-Conservative voters to the wrong polling locations on May 2, 2011.

The subsequent investigation demonstrated where we lack the ability to effectively pursue electoral fraudsters – yet this government is more interested in punishing Elections Canada and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) for some imagined anti-Conservative transgression. How else could they explain that our top election official was not consulted on legislation that makes significant changes to how we conduct our elections?

The Star – Justin Trudeau speaks, Jason Kenney hyperventilates: Mallick

(The photo truly is frightening)

Jason Kenney, posing plumply in Frobisher Bay on Twitter on the weekend in one of the most frightening photos I have ever seen of a pasty grown man encased in a fur onesie — worse, he seemed to have grown a moustache for the occasion — accused Trudeau of . . . something.

UNFAIR ELECTIONS

The Star – Canadians believe Tory election act settling scores: Delacourt

Nearly two-thirds of Canadians believe that the ruling Conservatives are settling political scores with their Fair Elections Act, a new poll has found.

And that skepticism about the motives of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government only rises among people who say they’re “fairly” or “very” familiar with what’s in the bill, according to the poll, conducted by Angus Reid Global.

Huffington Post – Rick Mercer Rips Pierre Poilievre, Tories’ Fair Elections Act (VIDEO)

“I guarantee you, you get any member of the Conservative caucus alone in a room and you ask them who is the last man on Earth who should be put in charge of reforming democracy and they will tell you Pierre Poilievre,” Mercer said in a scathing rant Tuesday.

The Hill Times – Tories to benefit most under elections overhaul bill in next election cycle: experts

The governing Conservatives will benefit most in the 2015 election campaign from its elections overhaul bill because of a new exemption on fundraising and the get-out-the-vote campaign spending, increases to overall campaign spending limits, and the lack of changes to massive pre-writ spending, experts say.

The already blurring line between parties’ get-out-the-vote and get-out-the-donation drives will be further muddled with the Conservative’s Fair Elections Act, as parties with more donors and more money, particularly the Conservatives, will be able to spend more through a new exemption, experts said.

The Globe and Mail – Conservative MP retracted voter-fraud story after complaint to Elections Canada

(Mystery solved: Butt is called on his claim – NOT a attack of conscience!)

Mr. Butt gave no indication what prompted his retraction, but a complaint had been made to the Commissioner of Canada Elections – incidentally, a role the Fair Elections Act proposes to substantially overhaul by moving the role out of Elections Canada and under the responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Stephen Best, the chief agent for the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, said he complained to Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, about Mr. Butt’s claim and was told the case would be referred to the Commissioner of Elections.

Canada.com – Conservatives harvested emails from livestreams of Aga Khan events

The prime minister’s website was used to collect email addresses for the Conservative party from viewers who tuned in for web broadcasts of events with the Aga Khan last week.

The Aga Khan, hereditary spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslim community, spoke in Parliament on Thursday and at an invitation-only event at Toronto’s Massey Hall on Friday.

Both events were available for viewing online through the stephenharper.ca website, a Conservative party site, but only after web surfers were asked to enter their name and email address.

Parties use forms like that to create databases of potential supporters for follow up with customized pitches for fundraising and voter identification.

PETTY CASH?

Global News – Government earmarks emergency funding for ad campaign

OTTAWA — The Conservative government gave Public Safety permission to dip into a federal emergency fund to help finance a $4.5-million advertising campaign, accounting documents show.

Public Safety has yet to draw from the account, which has been used in the past for nuclear repair and First Nations reserves, but the money remains earmarked should the department need extra cash for its anti-cyberbullying ad campaign. They won’t say why they needed the emergency cash.

The Opposition says it points to a lack of financial management in government.

Huffington Post – Conservatives Defend Questionable Lunches For Political Staff

The costs, $67,789.48 over three years, for a weekly Wednesday lunch meeting with the PMO and ministers’ chiefs of staff, was first reported by The Huffington Post Canada Tuesday morning.

The vast majority of staffers who took advantage of the free lunch earn six-figure salaries. Chiefs of staff are paid up to $178,800, according to guidelines posted on the Treasury Board website.

JUST PETTY

National Post – John Ivison(!): Exclusion of opposition from Ukraine delegation shows a lack of statesmanship from the Harper government

All MPs represent Ukrainian constituents and the message that is being sent to the beleaguered citizens of Ukraine is that all Canadians support the re-emergence of democracy.

As Conservative MP Russ Hiebert said Wednesday in the take-note debate in the House of Commons: “We need to be there when they [democracies] are in crisis. We need to help them re-establish freedom, human rights and the rule of law.”

Unfortunately, the government sees this crisis as an opportunity to score domestic political points.

Huffington Post – Joe Clark Frustrated With Harper Foreign Policy, Keystone Delays

The book is deeply critical of what it describes as the Harper Tories’ “megaphone” approach to international affairs — in other words, plenty of loud grandstanding and not much constructive work on the ground.

He was equally critical when asked about the Keystone XL pipeline.

He said the government deserves some of the blame if the project is stalled. If the Harper government hadn’t spent a couple of years shouting at the environmental movement, he said, it might not have attracted such opposition.

Clark told the audience that the belligerence began with verbal attacks by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver after the Conservatives won a majority in 2011, and continues to this day with environmental groups having their tax status threatened.

Globe and Mail – Former Tory whip slams party’s decision to strip private member’s bill

The Conservatives’ gutting of one of their own MPs’ bills last year was “tragic” and went against parliamentary tradition, the government’s former whip and house leader says.

The comments came after the MP behind the private member’s bill, Brent Rathgeber, killed it altogether this week despite a handful of Conservatives voting with him – and against the government’s wishes – on an amendment.

“I really believe – and it was an unwritten rule when I was in those positions – you don’t amend a private member’s bill at committee without the support of the sponsor. To me, that’s sacrosanct. And to me, you look at what happened with Brent Rathgeber and his private member’s bill, I thought that was tragic, to be honest,” Mr. Hill told The Globe and Mail Friday, after speaking at the Manning Centre conservative conference in Ottawa.

LAW AND DISORDER

CBC News – Mentally ill inmates kept in ‘grossly inadequate’ conditions

Latimer said the federal government has developed a strategy to address mental health needs of prisoners, but has failed to implement it with the proper supports and professionals. And that could ultimately have dire consequences for public safety, she warned.

“The last thing we want as a society is someone to come out of prison with less mental health than when they went in,” she said. “I think we need to be very worried about this.”

Canada.com – Auditors asked about Mike Duffy involvement in audit day before senator refused help

OTTAWA — Auditors reviewing Mike Duffy’s expenses were asked what they would say about Duffy’s involvement in the audit one day before he officially told auditors he wouldn’t be providing them with any help, according to a letter from the auditing firm.

The Deloitte auditors wrote late last year that they were asked on March 25, 2013, about Duffy’s involvement and told a top Tory senator and top Senate officials that they would be able to complete their review of Duffy’s expenses with or without the senator’s involvement.

The Globe and Mail – Conservatives mum on Canadian journalist held in Cairo

The Conservative cabinet minister responsible for the safety of Canadians overseas is offering no explanation for her government’s refusal to demand the release of a Canadian journalist being held in an Egyptian prison.

Lynne Yelich, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Consular Services, spoke to journalists in a conference call from Geneva on Tuesday after spending two days in meetings with the United Nations Human Rights Council.

When asked why the government has not been pressing the Egyptians to free Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who has been held in Cairo since late December on terrorism charges, Ms. Yelich did not respond directly.

FLIP AND FLOP

Huffington Post – Stephen Harper’s Income Splitting Tune Shifts Again

OTTAWA – The Conservative caucus appears to have put some woolly socks on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cold feet on income splitting, convincing him to stick with a key campaign promise despite his finance minister’s public reservations.

After Harper suggested earlier this month that he might be having second thoughts, the message from the prime minister changed this week to one of again embracing the concept.

Huffington Post – Jason Kenney Links Income-Splitting To ‘Stable Families’

OTTAWA – Jason Kenney is vigorously backing the Conservative government’s contentious income-splitting promise, infusing the debate with a social conservative element Friday as he insisted the scheme will benefit “stable” Canadian families.

“All of the social research indicates that folks who come from stable families tend to do better in terms of their economic prospects, and income-splitting supports families who are investing in their kids,” the federal employment minister said.

Huffington Post, This Chart Pretty Much Says It All About Canada’s Income Inequality

Employment Minister Jason Kenney has been boasting about data showing that Canadians’ net worth boomed in recent years, arguing, in essence, that Canada isn’t facing the sorts of income inequality problems that others are facing. It’s a political gambit, of course, and it’s aimed at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s recent talk about income inequality. Last week, Kenney accused Trudeau of “making things up” when the Liberal leader asserted that Canada’s middle class is stuck in neutral. But is Trudeau really making things up? Not according to a new study of incomes from the University of British Columbia, which found that nearly all the gains since the 1980s have gone to the top 10 per cent of earners — and much of that went to the very top 0.01 per cent of earners.

Huffington Post – Canada’s Ukraine Response Smacks Of Empty Gestures, Say Retired Ambassadors

The Harper government’s response to the Russia-Ukraine crisis smacked of empty gestures from a country that has become increasingly marginalized on the world stage, two retired Canadian ambassadors charged Sunday. Those scathing reviews came from two of the county’s most distinguished ex-diplomats: Jeremy Kinsman, who has served as Canada’s senior envoy to Russia, Britain, Italy and the European Union, and Paul Heinbecker, the former ambassador to the United Nations and an adviser to past Conservative and Liberal prime ministers. They were highly critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision Saturday to temporarily withdraw Canada’s ambassador to Russia, and of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird for not ruling out the expulsion of Russia’s ambassador to Canada, Georgiy Mamedov, in a later televised interview.

Toronto Star – Conservatives losing support to Liberals, pollster warns

(When the Cons are losing the support of male voters between 45 and 64, you know that the end is near for them.)

….Turcotte’s polling also gave him a glimpse into the type of people deserting the Conservatives — the 16 per cent, he called it. For the most part, this 16 per cent is made up of male voters, between the ages of 45 and 64, university-educated and most likely to live in Ontario. “They are concerned with health care, lower taxes, aging population, more accountability and full disclosure of spending of public funds,” he said. “These are the people who at this point should be in the tent, should be supporting the Conservative party, but are not for some reason.”

Canadian Business – Why are some Canadian companies paying almost no tax?

(Interesting article, especially considering the source.)

How much income tax do you pay? Forty per cent? More? Lately the government has become obsessed with making everyone pay their fair share. It set up a snitch line for tax cheats just last month, with Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay announcing she would “aggressively” pursue those who aren’t paying every penny they owe. No more offshore tax shelters in the Cayman Islands or stuffing numbered Swiss bank accounts full of cash: the age of tax leniency is over. That is, if you’re a person. If you’re a corporation, it’s a different story.

CBC News – How one defence staffer stood up for Access to Information

Public affairs adviser told to refuse CBC News request for letter, but said ‘I won’t do it’

A lone civilian public affairs adviser for the Canadian army defied military officials last month and insisted on the public release of a potentially embarrassing email, according to newly released documents.

Doug Drever, who has worked for the military for years, bucked his bosses and refused to follow instructions he apparently believed were unethical.

The exchange between Drever, senior military officers and Drever’s bureaucratic overseers offers a rare inside glimpse at the contortions government can twist itself into as it weighs whether to make information public or keep it hidden.

The Star – Canadian newcomers dread changes to citizenship rules

Canada’s new class of immigrants is younger and more promising than ever: in their mid-20s and 30s, with Canadian education credentials and work experience — and jobs already lined up.

To achieve the immigrant dream, they’re prepared to pay their dues, working hard on temporary study and work permits to prove their value to Canada before earning what used to come much more easily: permanent resident status.

But with changes to the Citizenship Act announced last month, their journey to becoming fully Canadian is about to get even longer.

 

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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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