Harper Watch, May 4 to 10, 2014


Same old, same old again this week: secrecy, depressing wages, creating jobs for foreign workers, bullying and botched appointments.

Toronto Star (Susan Delacourt) – Stephen Harper: No longer taking advice

When Harper lashed out at the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court last week,critics asked whether he could go much higher in his disdain for dissent. As a matter of fact, he already has. In late 2008, when Harper needed the Governor-General’s approval to fend off the defeat of his minority government, Conservatives talked of “going over the head” of the Queen’srepresentative in Canada.

From all authoritative accounts of that “crisis,” the governor-general at the time, Michaelle Jean, agreed to give Harper an extension of his power mainly because it was clear a public relations attack was planned in retaliation if the wrong advice was given.

So from the highest constitutional offices in the land to ordinary publicservants, there’s a chill on giving this prime minister advice or questioning his authority.

HuffPost (Liberal MP Sean Casey) – The Myth of Harper’s Economic Competence
(Balancing the budget but raising the national debt.)

• Fact: Between 1996-97 and 2005-06, the Liberal government paid $81.4-billion against the national debt.

• Fact: The federal debt in the fiscal year 1996-97 was $562.9-billion. By the time the Liberals left office in 2006, it was reduced to $481.5-billion • In contrast, by the year 2014-15, the Conservatives will have added $176,400,000,000 to the national debt.

Let me say that again, Stephen Harper has added and will add $176,400,000,000 to our debt.

• Fact: The Conservative federal debt in 2008-09 = $457.6-billion.

• Fact: The expected Conservative debt in 2014-15 = $634.0-billion (forecasted).

• Fact: 24% of the total accumulated debt since Confederation was amassed under Stephen Harper, this just since 2008.

This is the real and true economic and fiscal record of the Harper era.

Toronto Star – Harper government keeps details on public pensions secret from Auditor General

The federal government is withholding information from the Auditor General on the long-term health of public pension plans and tax policy changes, citing cabinet and budgetary secrets.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s office requested the government conduct an analysis of the long-term sustainability of public pension plans — plans that could prove a “significant risk” to Ottawa’s finances. Treasury Board bureaucrats responded they already do that work, they just refuse to make it public.

“Due to cabinet and budget confidentiality, the (Treasury Board) could not share much of its analysis with the Auditor General,” officials wrote in response to the audit.

Toronto Star (Justin Trudeau) – How to fix the broken temporary foreign worker program

Since taking office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have transformed the Temporary Foreign Worker Program — which was originally designed to bring in temporary workers on a limited basis when no Canadian could be found — into one that has brought in a large pool of vulnerable workers.

As a result, the number of short-term foreign workers in Canada has more than doubled, from 141,000 in 2005 to 338,000 in 2012. There were nearly as many temporary foreign workers admitted into the country in 2012 as there were permanent residents — 213,573 of the former compared to 257,887.     At this rate, by 2015, temporary worker entries will outnumber permanent resident entries.

iPolitics (Michael Harris)  – L’etat, c’est Steve

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper attacks the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in broad daylight, there is a question Canadians need to answer fairly soon.   What’s it going to be: a modern democracy or a Steve’s banana republic of the north?

The train wreck of the Harper government continues to roll down the mountainside, crushing body after body, yet no one utters the right word. Allow me. Canada is a dictatorship in the making.

CBC – Feds swipe at Kathleen Wynne as Ontario campaign kicks off

Just hours into the Ontario election, senior federal Conservatives leaped into the fight, delivering unvarnished scorn for some of Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne’s signature policies.

In an interview on CBC Radio’s The House, Finance Minister Joe Oliver broke with the convention of keeping out of provincial elections and delivered a nasty assessment of the newly released Liberal budget.

“This is the route to economic decline, not the route to economic growth or job creation,” Oliver said. He went on to challenge the Ontario Liberal promise to erase the deficit by 2017- 2018.

CBC – Nadon spat between Harper, chief justice McLachlin called ‘disturbing’

The association that represents lawyers in Canada is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to acknowledge that the chief justice of the Supreme Court has done nothing wrong. Late Thursday, Harper’s office suggested McLachlin acted improperly last July when she advised his office that Marc Nadon, a Federal Court of Appeal judge, might not fit the legal criteria set for Quebec appointees to the Supreme Court.

McLachlin issued a statement saying all she wanted to ensure was that the government was aware of the eligibility issue, but didn’t express any opinion on the merits of the eligibility issue.

G&M – Chief Justice hits back at Prime Minister over claim of improper call 

An extraordinary showdown between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin has intensified, with the jurist denying wrongdoing, and disputing Mr. Harper’s recollection of the facts.

The court issued a statement a little after noon on Friday, defending itself against the top-level attack on its integrity: “At no time was there any communication between Chief Justice McLachlin and the government regarding any case before the courts.”

Huffington Post – We Are 465 Academics Against the Fair Elections Act 

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Members of the House of Commons, and Senators of Canada:

Last month, more than 160 professors signed an open letter to express grave concerns about the damage to Canadian democracy that the “Fair Elections Act,” Bill C-23, would cause. Today, we the undersigned, an even larger group of professors who share a deep concern over this legislation, urge the government to withdraw the bill and draft truly fair election reforms based on meaningful consultations with opposition parties, non-partisan experts, Elections Canada and the public. There is no reason to depart from this laudable Canadian tradition for electoral reform.

Huffington Post – Tory Senator Don Meredith Touts Degrees From Unaccredited Schools

A Conservative senator earmarked as one of the Senate’s top spenders holds a master’s degree from a school whose phone number directs calls to a customer helpline for a website that sells iPads and printers.

Senator Don Meredith, a Toronto-area Pentecostal pastor, has a master’s degree in religious studies from California State Christian University (CSCU) – an unaccredited and unregulated private institution that has shifted addresses at least four times within the last 10 years….

Since Meredith’s appointment in 2010, he’s been named to and dropped from four standing Senate committees. He was most recently removed from the Senate standing committee on human rights after revelations surfaced in March that he attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Meredith had actually been denied authorization for the trip, but he attempted to expense the total tab anyway. The senator reportedly had to cover some of the costs out of his own pocket.

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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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