Harper Watch, August 1 to August 20, 2014


COMMENTARY

ipolitics – Harper hears you. Now shut up.
What if your parents used your allowance to convince you that you really wanted Brussels sprouts for dinner, not a fruit salad?
Turns out that’s what the Harper government has been doing to Canadians for years. While Canadians have been polled and focused-grouped ad nauseum on their policy priorities — which, consistently, are health care, education, the environment, pensions and veterans — they’ve instead been fed a steady diet of made-in-Alberta priorities: skills development, Employment Insurance reform, temporary foreign workers and plenty of pipelines.

Embassy – Strange things under the Ottawa sun
Four “strange things” stand out in actions of the Harper government. The first is its hyper-partisanship; the second is its unwillingness to see science as a necessary aid to good governance or to appreciate the need to seek or accept expert advice; third, its willingness to attack and denigrate the basic institutions of democratic government such as the courts and Elections Canada; and fourth, its zealousness in pushing change, knowing it did not meet or was unlikely to meet the test of fealty to existing laws or to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Star – Stephen Harper fails to see that World War I was a mistake: Walkom
Stephen Harper describes World War I as a noble conflict.
It was not. It was a bloody and largely pointless war, whose roots lay in the imperial pretensions of competing European powers and whose proximate causes were hubris and miscalculation.
That Harper thinks otherwise would matter little if he were an ordinary citizen. But he is prime minister. And, as he made clear in a speech Monday, he views current conflicts through the prism of the 1914-18 Great War.

Huffington Post – Connecting The Dots Between Mount Polley Mine Owner, Squamish LNG, Harper
The more the people of B.C. understand the connections between Harper’s Conservative party, Premier Clark’s LNG aspirations, and the players in the Woodfibre LNG proposal, the more foul it looks. Whether for us in Squamish or surrounding communities like West Vancouver.

(And speaking of Imperial Metals – a blast from the past, but still relevant in Harperland)

CBC – Lakes across Canada face being turned into mine dump sites
CBC News has learned that 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly “reclassified” as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland. Environmentalists say the process amounts to a “hidden subsidy” to mining companies, allowing them to get around laws against the destruction of fish habitat. CBC News visited two examples of Schedule Two lakes. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Vale Inco company wants to use a prime destination for fishermen known as Sandy Pond to hold tailings from a nickel processing plant. In northern B.C., Imperial Metals plans to enclose a remote watershed valley to hold tailings from a gold and copper mine. The valley lies in what the native Tahltan people call the “Sacred Headwaters” of three major salmon rivers. It also serves as spawning grounds for the rainbow trout of Kluela Lake, which is downstream from the dump site.

HARPER IN COURT AGAIN

Ottawa Citizen – Prominent Ottawa judge strikes down mandatory victim surcharge
An Ottawa judge who is recognized as one of the country’s most pre-eminent legal minds has struck down the Conservative government’s mandatory victim surcharge as unconstitutional.
In a carefully reasoned, 31-page decision released Thursday, Ontario Court Justice David Paciocco found that a reasonable person who was properly informed would find $900 in mandatory victim surcharges for addicted, impoverished and troubled Inuit offender Shaun Michael so grossly disproportionate that it would outrage the standards of decency.

Huffington Post – Nunavut Planning Commission Suing Federal Government
An Arctic planning body has taken the federal government to court, claiming Ottawa is blocking efforts to create a land-use plan that would guide resource development in Nunavut.
Commission head Percy Kabloona, who says the lawsuit is the first of several to come, has accused the Conservatives of trying to interfere in the plan’s development and to block its final steps.

TAXPAYERS WORKING HARD FOR HARPER

The Star – Ottawa’s spin doctor payroll rivals that of the Commons
When we’re spending nearly as much on spin as we are on the House of Commons, we’re on a very slippery slope indeed.
Last week, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation released the head count and salary costs of the federal government’s legion of information services staff.
The numbers, released in response to an access to information request, reveal that 3,325 spin doctors toil for the Harper government at an estimated cost this year of $263 million.

ATTACK ON (CERTAIN) CHARITIES

Globe and Mail – Canada Revenue Agency refuses to divulge audit tactics targeting charities
The federal government has denied a freedom-of-expression charity’s request for auditors’ guidelines on political activity, saying revealing how the Canada Revenue Agency conducts audits could hamper their work.
Since Ottawa first started cracking down on political activities among charities in 2012, Pen Canada has filed a series of access-to-information requests seeking, among other things, the criteria auditors use to determine what, exactly, constitutes political activity.

CANADA OR HARPERLAND?

rabble.ca – Do Canadians share Israel’s values ‘through Fire and Water’?
In mid-July the Harper government quietly released a campaign-style video called Through Fire and Water. In it, Canada’s Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister strongly reassert our support for Israel amid the violence in Gaza. The video proclaims that “Canada and Israel are the Greatest of Friends, and the most natural of allies” and that it is the “Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.”

The Star – Ottawa’s pro-Israeli message goes beyond more measured global response: Tim Harper
As the world watched the civilian death toll in Gaza climb over the weekend, the international response was largely built on three pillars.
Most capitals emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself, the need to protect innocent civilians and the need for a mutual ceasefire.
But in Canada, the tone and the message were different.
Israel had not just the right to defend itself, but the obligation, according to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
The end to the conflict was the responsibility of Hamas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

CBC – Court system essential part of democracy: Canadian Bar Association
Canadians should not be worried about the judicial system undermining democracy, says the president of the Canadian Bar Association, in response to recent comments by Conservative parliamentarians criticizing and questioning the judiciary. “The courts are essential and integral to a democracy. They play a very important role in the citizens’ ability to see that justice is done, to protect their rights and to see that laws are adopted and applied properly, Fred Headon told CBC Radio’s The House in an interview.   A week ago, Conservative MP Dan Albas said some groups are now using courts to do an “end-run” around the democratic process. Albas suggested citizens are losing if “unelected judges” can overturn policy decisions made by the government.

HARPER THE FAUX ECONOMIST

Canadian Business – The U.S. has become a job-creating machine while Canada sputters: Mike Moffatt
The United States has outperformed Canada by this metric in 23 of the 30 months from January 2012 to June 2014 (the Canadian July 2014 data has yet to be released), with the U.S. averaging 1.34% growth relative to Canada’s 0.97%.

Macleans – The case of the disappearing Statistics Canada data
The Great Statistics Canada 200-Jobs Mystery is generating loads of headlines, as it should. The botched labour report for July, which, initially, and erroneously, claimed Canada produced just 200 jobs that month, has once again sparked questions about the quality of Canada’s statistical data. (Revised figures are due Friday). But this is far from the only thing troubling regular StatsCan users. I made the following chart to illustrate one of the great frustrations that journalists, economists and academics have with StatsCan. One minute, the agency, tasked with measuring the tick tock of the economy and society, tracks seemingly vital data (such as detailed breakdowns of public sector employment and wages by all levels of government, or the total value of government transfer payments to persons by province and type of transfer), the next, *poof*, they’re terminated.

The Globe and Mail – That strong recovery? It was just a myth
The argument that Canada outperformed the rest of the world was overstated at the best of times. Even in the early years of recovery, several other countries (including Germany, South Korea, Australia) did much better at protecting employment and rebuilding incomes. But with the rest of the world now gaining serious economic momentum, Canada’s boastful claims are increasingly far-fetched. Far from leading, we now lag other countries, and our relative underperformance is getting worse.

VETERANS

Huffington Post – Veterans Affairs Posting ‘Extremely Misleading’ Information, Critics Say
OTTAWA – The Harper government has taken to social media to make the case that it’s being generous to disabled veterans, but critics and the opposition say Conservatives are posting misleading information.
Stoffer said the government is throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, into the calculations knowing full well the vast majority of soldiers never collect benefits that get anywhere near those numbers.

Global News – Fantino’s office calls peacekeeping veteran’s story ‘completely false’
OTTAWA – The office of Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino says a peacekeeping veteran’s suggestion that he was asked to write a politician’s speech for a commemorative ceremony is “completely false.”
But Wayne Mac Culloch, national president for the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, insists he was told by a department official he had to write parliamentary secretary Parm Gill’s speech if he wanted anyone from the Harper government to attend National Peacekeepers’ Day in Ottawa on Sunday.

Halifax Herald – Veterans across Canada plot campaign against Conservatives
A network of veterans across Canada is planning a co-ordinated campaign against the Conservative government during next year’s election.
The plan was sparked in January by a disastrous meeting in Ottawa with Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino. In interviews, half a dozen organizers across four provinces say thousands of veterans will take part in the movement.
The plan is similar to the ABC campaign — urging people to vote Anything But Conservative — waged by former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams.

FIRST NATIONS

CBC – Program that helped special needs children on reserves loses funding
A Regina-based program that helped special needs children has lost funding from the federal government to provide services to families living on reserves.
The Early Childhood Intervention Program, which helps developmentally-delayed children in their early years, used funding from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to train workers and travel to reserves. Funding, which was used to help about 150 youngsters on reserves, amounted to $800,000 and ended in June. The non-profit which runs the program will continue to offer services, but only to Regina clients.

The Globe and Mail – Why the First Nations transparency act is an insult to my people

Eden Robinson is the award-winning author of the novel Monkey Beach.

I don’t speak for anyone but myself. I’m not an elected official, nor am I an elder, nor do I have an important, hereditary name. I’m a novelist from the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations of British Columbia, both small, coastal reserves hugging the rugged shores of the west coast. Although I don’t profess to be the voice of my people, I can offer a few insights.

ENVIRONMENT

Northumberland View: NAFTA takes notice: Canada is ignoring its own environmental laws

(Thanks to one of our readers for this one!)

How long can an industry and a government completely disregard a nation’s laws that are intended to protect that country’s citizens? That’s the question that continues to be asked about tar sands companies and the Canadian government, when it comes to the tailings ponds leaking toxic waste into rivers in Alberta.

Huffington Post – Government Memo Criticized Top Biologist For Comments On Oilsands
One of Canada’s top biologists says he will not stop talking to the media after a government memo accused him of bias and speaking out of turn about the environmental impact of Alberta’s oilsands.
Queen’s University professor John Smol said Monday he was shocked and outraged to learn earlier this month of an internal Natural Resources Canada memo criticizing him over comments he made to reporters about a study on lakes near the oilsands.

CORRUPTION ABOUNDS IN HARPERLAND

The Globe and Mail – Canada ranked worst of G7 nations in fighting bribery, corruption

Canada has again been scolded on the international stage for its “lack of progress” in fighting bribery and corruption by a watchdog agency that ranks it among the worst of nearly 40 countries.
Transparency International, a group that monitors global corruption, put Canada in the lowest category of countries with “little or no enforcement” when it comes to applying bribery standards set out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

HARPER’S EVIL PLANS FOILED AGAIN!

Ottawa Citizen – Doctors pull out of Conservative government’s anti-pot ads
Three leading doctors’ groups will not participate in a taxpayer-funded advertising campaign against marijuana, saying the ads had become a “political football” in the debate over legal status of the drug.
In a rare joint statement issued Saturday, the Canadian Medical Association, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada said they would decline Health Canada’s invitation to endorse a campaign on the dangers of marijuana use by young people.

 

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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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