31 YEARS OF HELL TO LOOK FORWARD TO – THANKS STEVE
(This is by far THE WORST thing Harper has ever done and is absolutely unforgivable. We will suffer dearly for this.)
Canada has ratified the contentious Foreign Investment Protection Agreement with China. International Trade Minister Ed Fast says the deal, known as FIPA, has been ratified and will come into force on Oct. 1.
Fast says the agreement provides the protections and the confidence Canadian investors need to expand, grow and succeed abroad.But the deal, aimed at enhancing foreign investment by providing a framework of legal obligations, has been met with suspicion and alarm not just by the government’s usual critics, but Conservative cabinet ministers too.
It’s official: Prime Minister Stephen Harper has approved the controversial Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) today. In a short, two-paragraph news release, International Trade Minister Ed Fast said the deal was now ratified. It will come into force on October 1, 2014, and will be effective for 31 years, until 2045.
The original investment protection deal — which treaty law expert Gus Van Harten said could be in violation of the Canadian Constitution — was quietly signed in 2012 in Vladisvostok, Russia, but was delayed for two years due to public outcry.
“Any state-owned enterprise from China that was counting on our weak environmental laws can sue us,” says the Green Party leader.
“China’s the larger economic power. It’s not a matter of opinion, but a fact, that in every investor state agreement, the stronger power wins,” said Green MP Elizabeth May, on the ratification of the China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) today.
The ratification was announced today in a news release, saying FIPA will come into force on October 1, 2014, and will be effective for the next 31 years. May said FIPA could effectively ‘lock in’ Canada to weakened environmental regulation for the next 31 years.
Misdirection is a form of deception where your attention is focused on one thing to distract you from another. It’s a common trick used by magicians and political leaders alike. Stephen Harper is a master of misdirection. He has used it with great effect in his management of both the nation’s finances and our economy.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has just completed his ninth annual summer tour of Canada’s North. These trips are fine in and of themselves. They draw attention to the North, in all its complexity. Mr. Harper announces programs. No one can gainsay that he is interested in the North – his recurring presence there testifies to that interest, even though some of his promises, especially military procurement ones, are way behind schedule and, in some cases, destined to never happen.
Nowhere in Canada is the impact of climate change more increasingly evident than the North. And yet, the words “climate change” are never heard from Mr. Harper in the North, as if the idea they connote are so distasteful that he cannot bring himself to utter them.
Health Canada needs to clean up its shameful cult of institutional secrecy and make findings public as the American Food and Drug agency does. It’s a prescription for disaster.
Some Canadian pharmaceutical companies have sold drugs they knew were defective — putting patients at possible risk. Others have hidden, altered and in some cases destroyed test data that showed their products were tainted or potentially unsafe, or not reported side-effects suffered by consumers taking their drugs.
That’s scary enough. But more worrisome is this: Star reporters David Bruser and Jesse McLean could not get this information from Health Canada. Instead, they had to rely on detailed notes from the American Food and Drug Administration’s inspections of Canadian companies.
Despite Mr. Harper’s carefully crafted image as a military leader and man of action, the Conservatives have been slashing the defence budget and delaying procurement of new ships, airplanes and army vehicles.
Some critics fear the military could be heading into another decade of darkness, similar to the 1990s when the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien slashed defence spending to balance the budget. Of course Mr. Harper’s main political priority today is a balanced budget in advance of next year’s federal election.
I’ve watched a good many Premiers Conferences during my 26 years in Parliament. This year’s get-together in Charlottetown has to rank among the best for both substance and tone. On healthcare, services and facilities for the elderly, and retirement incomes for middle-class Canadians, the Premiers were right on-target….. On all these topics, they sounded informed, reasonable and pro-active, but what they lack is a willing federal partner to work with.
In nearly nine years as Prime Minister, Mr. Harper has had only two brief meetings with all the Premiers in the same room at the same time. And on the issues raised in Charlottetown — healthcare, elder-care, pensions, the missing and murdered women, infrastructure, sustainable energy, and a “Team Canada” approach to trade and marketing — Mr. Harper has largely abandoned the field.
He’s cut the netting from under our social safety net, slashed public services, done a 180-degree foreign-affairs pirouette from global honest broker to ideological barking dog, glorified the military while denigrating veterans, stealthily imposed a new unilateral Medicare funding formula to eviscerate national health care standards and download costs on to the provinces, imposed tough-on-crime legislation and mandatory minimum sentences despite evidence they don’t work, attacked the courts, eliminated the long-form census, muzzled scientists, destroyed important data, emasculated environmental protections, audited charities and environmental critics, cut taxes for the rich while leaving gaping loopholes for offshore tax cheats, gutted the CBC, passed Orwellian legislation like the Fair Elections Act to make elections anything but…
Toronto Star – Walkom: Is Stephen Harper’s global military policy delusional or just plain mad?
“We don’t have enough equipment to stock seven bases,” he says. “What would you put in them? Boxes of Corn Flakes?”
Sometimes, it’s as if Stephen Harper’s Conservatives suffer from delusions of grandeur. How else to explain the decision by Canada’s apparently cash-strapped federal government to set up a network of military bases around the world?
That’s usually something only countries with imperial pretensions, such as the U.S., France and Britain, do. And even the U.S. is pulling back these days.
The Commons hasn’t resumed sitting yet, but Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson are appearing before MPs at a special committee hearing Tuesday to argue the case for Canada’s surprise decision last week to send dozens of this country’s most elite soldiers to northern Iraq.
The outgoing leader of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) is Lt.-Gen. Stu Beare. Both he and Vance served with distinction in Afghanistan — Vance during two combat tours in Kandahar and Beare with NATO in Kabul.
Beare was muzzled by the Harper government a couple of weeks ago, preventing him from talking to journalists about the challenges that CJOC and Canada face during this period of global tumult. The general deserved better than this parting order after 36 years of service. During his Afghan and CJOC years he has been responsible for the lives of thousands of Canadians in dangerous places, as well as for spending billions of dollars.
CRIMES AND CRIMINALS
The fate of one of the federal government’s toughest crime bills is in doubt after the House of Commons sent the wrong version on to the Senate, which debated that version and sent it on to a committee for further study. The Commons’s mistake affects a key government priority – victim rights – by leaving out four amendments approved for the Fairness For Victims Act. Parliamentary experts say they have never heard of such an error being made before……
The Senate knowingly approved a crime bill with an error that could weaken the legislation and invite challenges by defence lawyers. In a second crime bill in two weeks revealed by The Globe and Mail to have reached the Senate with mistakes in it, the Senate approved measures cracking down on recruitment by criminal organizations or gangs. They became law in June.
The errors highlight the lack of scrutiny given to crime bills at a time when the Justice Department’s research staff has been sharply cut and a huge stack of these proposed get-tough laws is before Parliament – 30 are either currently being debated or became law in June.
The Harper government’s tough-on-crime agenda took another hit Wednesday when Ontario’s top court struck down provisions that limit pre-trial sentencing credit. In its decision, the Court of Appeal ruled the law unconstitutional because, among other things, it could create sentencing disparities for similarly placed offenders.
“Both the offender and the public must have confidence in the fairness of the sentencing process and in the results,” the court ruled. “Public confidence in the criminal justice system would be undermined by an artificial distinction that results in longer jail terms for some offenders.”
All the evidence presented in MP Dean Del Mastro’s election fraud trial backs up the story told by key witness Frank Hall, while Del Mastro’s story doesn’t match the facts, a prosecutor told a judge in Peterborough on Thursday.
“The evidence of guilt in this case is overwhelming,” Tom Lemon told Judge Lisa Cameron as the Crown presented its final arguments.
THE PETTY AND RIDICULOUS
Ottawa Citizen – Ottawa architect says government ‘stealing’ site for communism memorial
(A building with PET’s name on it just wouldn’t do in Harperland, and a jab at the Federal Court is just icing on the cake)
A prominent Ottawa architect is accusing the federal government of “stealing” the site that’s been chosen for the new Memorial to Victims of Communism.
In an open letter to Stephen Harper, Barry Padolsky urges the prime minister to find a “more appropriate” location for the memorial, to be built on a 5,000-square-metre property on Wellington Street, next to the Supreme Court of Canada.
That site had long been designated as the future location of a new building for the Federal Court of Canada, called the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Judicial Building in government planning documents.
Padolsky says the Trudeau building — or another comparable structure — is the missing piece in a planned “judicial triad” that would include the Supreme Court of Canada Building and the Justice Building on its eastern flank.
Upset with the Conservative government’s handling of the F-35 jet purchase, Brent Rathgeber wrote a blog entry critiquing it. It was an innocuous act, save for one detail: He was a Conservative MP himself.
Soon after, the phone rang, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office on the line demanding the blog post be taken down. Mr. Rathgeber’s aide refused. “You don’t understand; I am calling from the PMO,” the staffer replied.
The Lapine – Harper Discovered Sunken Franklin Ship While Scuba Diving
(OK it’s just satire..for now…if Harper had his way this is how it would read in the history books)
“He was barely at a depth of 9 meters (30 feet) when he spotted a sparkle…a quick flicker of sunlight…on something far below him.”
“You can imagine the Honourable Prime Minister’s reaction, his sheer excitement, when he realized that he had just caught the first glimpse of a ship lost for more than 169 years.”
Meanwhile, Canada’s advertising campaign—which includes the pro-oil sands government website gowithcanada.ca—touts Canada as a reliable partner and a “world environmental leader in the oil and gas sector.” It also boasts of a new oil sands monitoring system “founded on science and transparency.”
Harper’s government defends the campaign, saying it wants to ensure that other countries get all the facts. But one fact the ads don’t mention is that the oil sands industry’s rising carbon footprint is projected to wipe out reductions elsewhere in Canada’s economy, putting Harper’s commitment to reduce annual emissions to about 3 percent above 1990 levels by 2020 out of reach.
Herald News – Request to interview federal scientist sparks 110 pages of government emails
(Whatever you do, don’t ask about rock snot in Harperland!)
It was a story about rock snot. And if there’s a person you want to talk to about the pervasive algae also known by the less-offensive, more scientific name of Didymo, it’s Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist Max Bothwell.
But a request from The Canadian Press to speak to Bothwell when the article was published in May failed to produce an interview. What it did produce was 110 pages of emails to and from 16 different federal government communications operatives, according to documents obtained using access to information legislation.
A push to prioritize economic gains over basic research is endangering science and academic freedom in countries around the world, according to a new report published by a leading researchers union, the French National Trade Union of Scientific Researchers (SNCS-FSU).
The research union found governments internationally are pushing for policies “geared towards innovation in order to spur consumption and competitiveness,” according to Patrick Monfort, secretary-general of the SNCS-FSU. “Budget cuts are often blamed for our problems,” he said, “but they are only part of the picture.”
Monfort told the prestigious journal Nature that scientists in Canada have been particularly hard hit, not only by broad funding cuts, but contentious communications protocols that prevent their freedom of expression.
JOBS AND ECONOMY
For the past year, the only part of Canada’s job market that has showed any sign of life has been part-time employment. The numbers are striking. Since last autumn, Canada has created 50,000 part-time jobs but lost 20,000 full-time positions. What was once a whisper — are we becoming a nation of part-timers? — has swollen into a worried chorus.
Fortunately, one financial institution has taken up the cause. The Toronto Dominion Bank recently issued a special report entitled Part-Time Nation: Is Canada Becoming a Nation of Part-Time Employed?
The bank’s economists deserve credit for taking Canadians’ concerns seriously. Their research is informative. But their analysis is far less bold than its provocative title.
During negotiations with the Public Service Alliance of Canada yesterday, federal government negotiators tabled a proposal that would gut the sick leave provisions for employees of the federal public service.
If implemented, workers will be forced to choose between going to work sick or losing pay for basic necessities. The proposal would eliminate all accumulated sick leave for public servants, reduce the amount of annual sick leave to 37.5 hours a year subject to the absolute discretion of the employer, and institute a 7-day waiting period without pay before people can access short-term disability benefits.