The House is back and Harper government absurdities and atrocities abound in the latest issue of Harper Watch!
Huffington Post – NDP MP’s Facepalm Captures A Nation’s Frustration
(This article include a MUST WATCH video clip of this interview.)
Conservative MP Paul Calandra’s attempt to defend his performance in question period made an NDP rival facepalm right beside him on live TV Wednesday. Calandra, the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, was widely criticized and mocked this week after he responded to a straightforward question on Canada’s mission in Iraq with a bizarre non-sequitur about Israel.
On Wednesday night, Calandra appeared on CBC’s Power & Politics with NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar and Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau. Near the end of the segment, the conversation shifted to how Calandra is answering questions in the House on behalf of the government. Dewar accused the Tory MP of relying on talking points from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Huffington Post – Paul Calandra Tearfully Apologizes For Response To Thomas Mulcair
(Watch the video clip and decide for yourself if Caladra is shedding tears of remorse or humiliation at being forced to apologize.)
Conservative MP Paul Calandra fought back tears in the House of Commons Friday as he apologized to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair — and all members of Parliament — for his performance in question period this week. Calandra, the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, sparked widespread criticism after he replied to a straightforward question from Mulcair on Canada’s mission in Iraq with a bizarre non-sequitur about Israel, alleging an NDP fundraiser accused the Jewish state of “genocide.”
Before last week, I thought I understood the depth of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s malevolence. I was wrong. Only now do I appreciate just how ugly this prime minister is. I didn’t think it was possible for even a government as rabidly partisan as this one to add Palestinian children to its long list of enemies. That’s not hyperbole.
How else can we begin to explain Harper’s failure to help Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish — a University of Toronto professor described by his Israeli colleagues as “a magical, secret bridge between Israelis and Palestinians” — in his efforts to bring 100 innocent victims of the war in Gaza to Canada for medical treatment?
iPolitics (Michael Harris) – Stephen Harper’s comeback plan: distraction
(Yes, Michael Harris is back after taking the summer off to finalize his book on the Harper majority government. “A Party of One” will be available in bookstores in late October, or pre-order now from Amazon.)
There’s an elephant in the room: Stephen Harper’s record in office. He needs to make it disappear. He doesn’t have much time. Sometime between now and the autumn of 2015, Canadians must decide whether their march into the post-democratic age under Harper will continue.
The prime minister’s latest foray into one-man government was his recent end-run around a special House of Commons committee reviewing his nominations to the Supreme Court of Canada. This was his answer to ending up with the fuzzy end of the lollypop in his dust-up with Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin over the unconstitutional appointment of Marc Nadon to the high court. This guy never forgets.
In the meantime, the political leader who endorses disrupting opponents’ political meetings but shuns reasoned debate, who won’t talk to the premiers but loved barbecues in Rob Ford’s backyard, and who puts out his own newscast but treats real journalists like Ebola carriers, is embarked on a course to make people forget the basic fact of every election — that it’s always about the government’s record.
The Harper government’s new signature proposal timed for the return of Parliament on Monday “makes it weirdly profitable to fire people,” according to an independent analysis by an economist.
Mike Moffatt of the Ivey School of Business at Western University analysed the proposed Small Business Job Credit aimed at companies that pay Employment Insurance premiums equal to or less than $15,000, and found “major structural flaws that, in many cases, give firms an incentive to fire workers and cut salaries.”
That’s not what the Harper government said last week when it unveiled a plan to save small businesses more than $550 million by effectively lowering EI premiums from the current legislated rate of $1.88 to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2015 and 2016.
The (really good) hip hop trio A Tribe Called Red announced Friday that it won’t play a free concert to celebrate the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on Saturday night because the museum won’t acknowledge that aboriginals were the victims of genocide.“Until this is rectified, we’ll support the museum from a distance,” said the band.
Aboriginal spiritual leaders blessed the opening of the beautiful new museum, but other aboriginals were outside, protesting, as politicians gave speeches taking credit for the $351 million project.
Huffington Post – Satellite Conservative Ministerial Staff Costs Soar 70 Per Cent
The cost of paying Conservative political staffers working in a network of satellite minister’s offices ballooned by 70 per cent during the same years the government was asking departments to tighten their belts.
Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the budget for staffing at the regional offices rose from $1.6 million to $2.7 million, according to figures tabled in the House of Commons this week. The number of satellite locations with staff has risen from 11 to 16 to include smaller centres such as Kitchener, Ont., Charlottetown and Iqaluit…..
Liberal MP Sean Casey, who submitted the written questions about the offices in the Commons, said he has no issue with ministers having political staff organizing events and meeting with stakeholders in the regions. But Casey said the steep increase in spending is a hard pill to swallow considering recent cuts to veterans services, immigration and tax offices, and to Canada Post, among others.
“How can (Treasury Board President) Tony Clement justify cutting support for seasonal workers, cutting mail service for senior citizens, cutting support for Canada’s veterans, while spending millions of dollars on partisan advertising and operations in satellite offices,” NDP MP Dan Harris said during question period Thursday.
Ottawa has kept tabs on hundreds of demonstrations across Canada and around the world over the last eight years, from peaceful protests to public university lectures to riots.
Newly released documents show about 800 public demonstrations and events were observed and reported on by government departments and law enforcement agencies since 2006.
Reports were collected centrally by the Government Operations Centre, an agency tasked with preparing the federal government’s response to emergencies. Some were collected by Foreign Affairs on international protests, but the majority focused on domestic events — especially First Nations protests and environmental activism.
Despite public outcry, Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, ratified a controversial treaty on Friday that will allow China to sue Canada in secret tribunals for Canadian laws that interfere with Chinese investments.
Analysts interpret the move as an attempt to ease strained relations between the two nations. This summer, Canada accused China of hacking government computers, and China detained a Canadian couple for “spying.” Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and a special adviser to the Alberta government told the Globe and Mail, “We need something from China prior to the prime minister’s visit, and we’re ratifying this treaty and we’re kicking the ball over to the Chinese side to get something in return.” That “something” is thought to be the release of the couple before Harper visits China in November.
The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) was quietly signed two years ago in Vladisvostok, Russia, but public protest delayed ratification up until now.
The treaty goes into effect on October 1 and will last for 31 years, until 2045. It allows China to challenge Canadian laws it deems harmful to Chinese assets, and only requires the lawsuit be made public once an award is issued by a tribunal.
If Stephen Harper’s goal was to design a tax policy to make income inequality in this country even worse, he can pat himself on the back. That’s exactly what the Conservatives’ family income-splitting tax scheme will do.
Research from various organizations across the political spectrum has demonstrated already that this tax policy, projected to cost the federal treasury $3 billion in 2015, would be an expensive and inequitable tax giveaway.
Pushed by social conservative groups like the Institute of Marriage and the Family Canada and REAL Women of Canada, income-splitting would benefit very few Canadian households — while lining the pockets of wealthy, traditional families with one breadwinner and a stay-at-home spouse looking after the kids.
CTV News – PM Harper pits economy against the environment, Naomi Klein says
Prominent Canadian author Naomi Klein says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s absence from Tuesday’s UN climate summit is just the latest event to demonstrate his government’s lack of interest in the environmental issues.
Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, say Harper’s policies are all designed to increase growth, “whether it’s free trade, whether it’s the tar sands.”And that logic is what is at the heart of the climate crisis.,” she told CTV Question Period.
Environment Canada appears to have quietly ended key discussions that were intended to tackle carbon pollution from the oil and gas industry.
A committee made up of representatives from Environment Canada, the Alberta government and oil and gas companies was created in the fall of 2011 to develop options to reduce industrial greenhouse gases from the oilsands sector, the country’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions.
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.
As reported by my colleague Allan Woods, who broke this story, Ottawa claims its new bases will ultimately save taxpayers money. But that rationale only works if the government is planning to deploy Canadian soldiers on a regular basis to global hot spots. Are the Conservatives setting the stage for more Libyas and Afghanistans?
Ottawa Citizen – Stephen Harper government muzzles top general on eve of retirement
The outgoing leader of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) Lt.-Gen. Stu 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.
Forbidding Beare to speak was an example of the mindless messaging micro-management that has become one of the Harper government’s least appealing hallmarks. Such orders — and this was hardly the first — have long left the brass scratching their heads. After all, the government is constantly braying about Canada’s glorious military heritage and famously fond of talking as if nobody in the West is tougher on Russian President Vladimir Putin and terrorism.