Harper Watch – April 24 to May 1, 2014


iPolitics (Michael Harris) – Robocalls report clearest sign yet of our democracy’s decay
People need to be clear on what EC’s decision doesn’t mean since we live in an era of bullshit and blarney. It doesn’t mean that nothing happened here.

During the writ period, there were complaints from 11 ridings about calls from Conservative campaigns directing voters to the wrong polls. By May 6, 2011 there were 49 complaints from about 40 electoral districts across Canada. But returning officers were sometimes not able to provide names or numbers for people who complained. Robocalls was still a relatively new animal in 2011 – at least the devious kind.


Toronto Star (Tim Harper) – For Conservatives, cheap foreign labour trumps Canadian youth
….. Months after shutting down the jobs centres, Kenney, then the immigration minister, made a high-profile trip to Ireland that gave publicity to an obscure program known as International Experience Canada (IEC).

Once a diplomatic initiative and a type of job-swapping, it has now become a source of young foreign workers who are allowed entry to find jobs without any government oversight on the labour market need. Employers are under no obligation to pay the prevailing market wage….

Less than a decade ago, 21,656 Canadian youth travelled abroad while 30,467 foreign youth worked here. Today, fewer than 18,000 Canadians are working abroad, but there are more than 58,000 foreign workers here.

Cape Breton Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner told the Commons this week that, under the program, there were 753 Polish workers in this country and four Canadians in Poland. There are more than 300 Croatian workers here, but there are two Canadians working in Croatia.


G&M – Government, energy industry defend fracking rules

The Harper government signalled Thursday that it has no intention to take over regulation of hydraulic fracturing from the provinces, despite a new report that concludes that current regulations may not be adequate to ensure public safety.

Responding to a report from the Canadian Council of Academies on the impact of shale gas development, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the practice known as fracking is safe, and the provinces are effectively regulating it.

The report released Thursday concluded that there isn’t enough known about the environmental and health impacts of fracking to declare it safe, and that key elements of the provinces’ regulatory systems “are not based on strong science and remain untested.” The council is an independent, non-profit group that does scientific assessments in key policy areas; its shale gas report was requested by the federal government nearly three years ago.

National Farmers Union – Protect the Right to Save Seed – Stop Bill C-18
On December 9, 2013 Bill C-18, the “Agricultural Growth Act” was introduced in Parliament. This agriculture omnibus bill amends several federal agricultural laws including the Plant Breeders’Rights Act, the Seeds Act, the Health of Animals Act, the Feeds Act and the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act. Bill C-18 would give multinational companies greater power and control over Canada’s seed industry.

“Those who control seed control food, and as a sovereign nation we must ensure that control of seed and food is protected in the public interest”, said Terry Boehm, Chair of the NFU’s Seed and Trade Committee.


iPolitics – Senate baloney: Would Trudeau’s non-partisan plan mean opening the Constitution?
When the Supreme Court’s ruling on Senate reform last week slammed the door on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hopes of dodging a constitutional quagmire, his rivals were left to argue about alternatives. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, a champion of abolishing the Senate, said he would forge ahead undaunted. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, defended his plan to create an advisory panel to recommend non-partisan Senate nominees as the only realistic route to reform while avoiding the Constitution……

Mulcair’s claim that it’s “eminently clear” Trudeau’s proposed advisory panel would require a 7/50 amendment is, according to experts, not at all clear and probably wrong. For this reason, there’s “a lot of baloney” in the claim.

iPolitics – How the Supreme Court explained the obvious to Mr. Harper
(The author of this article is Errol Mendes, a professor of constitutional and international law at the University of Ottawa and is the founding editor-in-chief of the National Journal of Constitutional Law, now in its 24th year.)

This is a landmark decision and, along with the Supreme Court’s take on the Nadon appointment, it shows the court nailing down the fundamental constitutional limits of the Canadian parliamentary and federal order for a government that seems to be looking for ways around the rules to achieve its political ends.

The decision also has implications for the NDP. The court found that abolition would require unanimous provincial consent; that means that the NDP’s proposal to kill the Senate is practically impossible under the law. A national referendum on abolition would not carry any constitutional weight, although it might have some political impact.

Perhaps only real option left for Senate reform is the one proposed by Justin Trudeau, which focuses on how to advise the Governor General in future on the appointment of independent senators who would restore the institution’s credibility — and Canadians’ trust.


National Post (John Ivison) – Tories incensed with Supreme Court as some allege Chief Justice lobbied against Marc Nadon appointment

Frustrations inside the Harper government at the recent string of losses at the Supreme Court are in danger of boiling over.

One minister said he had been advised not to get into a public “firefight,” but senior Conservatives are privately incensed and feel the court has blocked Parliament’s ability to make laws.

Rumours about Beverley McLachlin, the Chief Justice, are being shared with journalists, alleging she lobbied against the appointment of Marc Nadon to the court (an appointment later overturned as unconstitutional). It is also being suggested she has told people the Harper government has caused more damage to the court as an institution than any government in Canadian history.  


Star Pheonix – Oliver to take cautious approach
(Note, the absence of talk about paying down the debt which has been on the rise since the Conservatives came to office.)

Finance Minister Joe Oliver says the federal government could have more than $ 9 billion in surplus to play with next year, but Canadians shouldn’t expect any massive new spending programs.

“We don’t intend to launch a massive, reckless spending program because we’ve spent too much time and devoted too much work in reducing the deficit and eliminating it to throw it all away,” he told reporters at a media event.  “Deficit spending over the longer term is a path to economic decline.”

Oliver said he still plans to cut taxes once the deficit is eliminated in the 2015-16 budget, which will likely come next winter, but Wednesday’s statement also suggests he will be cautious about how deep the cuts will be – at least initially – so as to not jeopardize the surplus.


Ralph Goodale, Liberal MP, Wascana, Sask  – Conservatives continue to bungle grain transportation

In another demonstration today of Conservative incompetence in the painful crisis in western grain handling and transportation, the Speaker of the House of Commons has had to rule the most important part of the Harper government’s so-called “emergency” grain legislation (Bill C-30) procedurally incorrect and out-of-order….

To try to give Bill C-30 some useful heft, Liberals proposed amendments to provide greater certainty about farmers’ grain delivery rights; more transparency in how grain companies calculate the deductions they make from farmers’ grain cheques; safeguards for producer-car shippers and short-line rail operators; a definition of railway service obligations; and reciprocal penalties to be applied when obligations are not fulfilled. The Conservatives voted against each and every one of those suggestions.

But at the last minute – knowing they were looking pretty weak and culpable – the government concocted an amendment of their own to Bill C-30 to create the illusion that they were actually doing something. They proposed to give federal transportation regulators the power to order the railways to pay compensation to shippers for service obligation failures.

That might be a good idea, but it was badly designed and obviously a political after-thought introduced in desperation at the last minute in a manner that was against the rules. So the Speaker had to throw it out. And without that amendment, Bill C-30 remains toothless and ineffectual.



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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