Harper Watch, June 17 to June 30, 2014


COMMENTARY

ipolitics – Michael Harris:  Who cares about the truth when you’ve got a hefty ad budget?
Stephen Harper has made an amendment to the old saying that bullshit baffles brains: marketing trumps all.
Care to play Snakes and Leaders Stevie-style? Easy-peazy. You screw the veterans and then divert attention by surrounding sporting events with commercials saying what a swell job you’re doing for them. The veterans will know you are a fat-faced liar, but that doesn’t matter. They are old and expendable — a disappearing demographic of no political importance. There’s no political upside to them.
You are interested in aiming your message at those millions of non-veterans watching the game, the ones who will be more impressed by all the monuments you are building to past wars, while simultaneously ignoring sick and dying veterans of more recent ones.
After a few beers, a few highlights-reel goals and a few government-sponsored TV spots, hey, they might come away with a more or less sloppy idea that you are in fact the lone champion of the veterans. The beauty of advertising: You can be rewarded for failure and phoniness every time if you get the messaging right.

ipolitics – Linda McQuaig:  Why Harper doesn’t give a damn about Mohamed Fahmy
In April, a brutal Egyptian judge known locally as “the Butcher”handed down a mass death sentence to 683 men. To most civilized observers, this kind of action is associated with the world’s most tyrannical regimes.
But to the Harper government, this is the behaviour of a country “progressing towards democracy”.

PIPELINES, ENVIRONMENT, FIRST NATIONS

Huffington Post – Harper Accused Of ‘Hiding’ After Northern Gateway Pipeline Decision
In the end, one of the biggest decisions of Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s career was marked with little more than a press release.
And, this time, the words “Harper government” were nowhere to be found.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Conservative government announced its conditional approval for Enbridge Inc.’s controversial $7-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project between the Alberta oilsands and the B.C. coast.

THE COURTS

National Post – Justice Minister Peter MacKay defends suggestion women are too busy with their kids to be judges
Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay is defending comments he made last week about why so few women are appointed as judges in Canada.
MacKay was responding to a Toronto Star report Wednesday about an Ontario Bar Association meeting at which he was asked about the lack of women and visible minorities on federally appointed court benches.
MacKay answered the question by saying that women don’t apply to be judges because they fear the job will take them away from their children — and that children need their mothers more than their fathers, the Star report said.

The Star – Lawyer disputes Peter MacKay’s claim that women, visible minorities don’t apply to be judges
When Avvy Yao-Yao Go read Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s claim that women and visible minorities are underrepresented on Canada’s courts because they don’t apply for the job, she was furious.
Go, a director at the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic and a practicing lawyer for the past 23 years, says it’s not true. She knows “worthy” candidates who have applied, and so has she.
Go submitted her name for a federal judicial appointment two years ago and again this year. She was worried by cuts to legal aid that might threaten her own job, and on another level, she says she believed it is up to visible minority lawyers to throw their hats in the ring.
But Go, who was recently named to the Order of Ontario, heard nothing back except that her application would be held “in the system” for two years. She suspects her past criticism at parliamentary committees of the Conservative government’s policies on immigration, refugees and poverty reduction mean she has no chance of an appointment.

aptn – Saganash wants probe into money spent by Ottawa fighting aboriginal rights
Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash has asked Canada’s auditor general to probe the millions of dollars Ottawa spends fighting Aboriginal rights and title cases.
Saganash sent a letter to Auditor General Michael Ferguson requesting an operational audit of the expenditures to determine whether Ottawa is using taxpayer money wisely and efficiently battling First Nations over rights.
The federal Aboriginal Affairs department spent over $100 million between 2012 and 2013 on legal fees, according to federal government records. The department’s own internal risk assessment found that a lot of the litigation money has been spent on losing causes.

SKEWED PRIORITIES – VETERANS LOSE AGAIN

CBC News – Canadian Forces’ return to old-style ranks, insignia costs millions
At a time of federal belt-tightening, the Conservative government’s return to World War II-era ranks and insignia will require new dress uniforms for Canadian soldiers and naval officers at a cost of $4.5 million.
Defence Department figures show the bulk of that cost — $3.1 million — will go to buy new jackets for the dark green dress uniforms army officers wear to formal events and on parades.
A similar change for naval officers — the addition of a curl to the top bar of their traditional naval rank — has a cost of $1.35 million, the Defence Department says.
That puts the cost of new jackets for the highest-ranking soldiers and sailors at almost $4.5 million.
Those costs are only necessary because of Conservative government changes to rank titles for the army and insignia for officers in the army and navy announced last year.

ipolitics – The number of homeless veterans in Canada is soaring
The number of homeless people identified by Veterans Affairs Canada has skyrocketed over the last five years, jumping from just 35 in 2009-2010 to 236 last year.
But the true figure could be much higher. Experts suggest there could be thousands of veterans living on the streets yet to be located by government and volunteer organizations. A City of Toronto report released last year revealed that 16 per cent of the 447 people sleeping on Toronto’s streets identified themselves as veterans.

SECRECY

The Star – Government of [CENSORED] censors cyberbullying docs
In her annual report to Parliament earlier this month, Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault said her office has seen a sharp increase in complaints over the government’s handling of access requests.
Legault’s report found that complaints about the government’s handling of the requests increased 30 per cent in 2012-13, leading the outgoing commissioner to warn that the system remains “fragile.”
“It is of concern to me when government institutions struggle to provide timely access, take an overly broad approach to exempting information or fail in their duty to assist requesters, as is required,” the report said.

The Star – Health Canada keeps flu plant inspection report secret
Health Canada is keeping the most recent completed inspection of Canada’s largest flu vaccine supplier secret despite a startling report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raising questions about quality control.
The Canadian federal regulator refused to provide a copy of its July 2012 inspection of GlaxoSmithKline’s Quebec plant, where about 5 million doses of flu vaccine were manufactured and supplied to the Canadian public in 2013 alone. The move comes in the wake of a warning letter from the U.S. FDA that documented concerns with the plant’s manufacturing process dating back to 2011.
“Health Canada seems to be prioritizing what the companies claim is confidential business information over patient safety and that really isn’t acceptable,” said Dr. Joel Lexchin, a health policy professor at York University and drug safety expert.

CBC News – New Parks Canada media policy spurs controversy
A new Parks Canada policy regulating what information can be released to the media is facing backlash.
The policy forbids employees from speaking to the media without approval and requires all requests for information to go through a national office. While many aren’t happy with the move, they say they aren’t surprised the Harper government is tightening its control of Parks Canada communications.
“This is just how this government operates, increasingly,” said Chris Turner, author of The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Willful Blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada. “They do not trust their own sort of rank and file to do their duties and to speak frankly but honestly about what they know.”

CITIZENSHIP

The Star – Immigration experts say Bill C-24 discriminatory and weakens citizenship
Since the act’s introduction there has been a rising tide of criticism, much of it focused on perceived violation of human and Charter rights, a shift to treating citizenship as a privilege and expanded revocation powers.
The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association gathered more than 42,000 signatures in an on-line petition opposing the act. Amnesty International spoke out against it. And many critics appeared before the parliamentary committee to argue that it’s exclusionary and discriminatory.

The Star – Case of Mohamed Fahmy shows failing of new citizenship rules
The Canadian government has been severely criticized for its failure to do enough to assist Mohamed Fahmy, the Canadian journalist sentenced to seven years imprisonment in Egypt for terrorism after a trial that has been uniformly condemned as a travesty of justice.
But with the recent passage of the controversial Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, the government can now answer their critics this way: “Hey, stop complaining. Last week, we passed a law that gives the minister of citizenship and immigration the power to strip Fahmy of his Canadian citizenship now that Egypt has deemed him a terrorist. So just be grateful we are publicly announcing that we do not intend to do that. But, by the way, we can change our mind anytime.”

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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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