(Excellent if depressing summary of the situation in the Middle East and the mess that Harper has gotten us into.)
So much for the Nobel Peace Prize — but at least Canada’s Bombardier-in-chief Stephen Harper thinks the latest Iraq war is “noble.” If there were a word combining “foolish” and “dishonest”, it would do a far better job than ‘noble’ of describing what this prime minister is leading Canada into.
In opposing this latte war, both Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau were wise to leave Harper alone in his bellicose enthusiasms. In the debacle of Afghanistan, Harper inherited Canadian involvement from the Liberals. This time, the blunder is entirely his own.
Just when you thought the Harper Conservatives could stoop no lower with their attack ads against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, they discovered something even more base.
Household mailings, paid for by taxpayers, are supposed to communicate information from MPs to constituents about doings in government. …..
But now the Conservatives have decided to use these mailings – as much as 10 per cent of the voters receive them at any one time – as nothing more than a printed negative ad against Mr. Trudeau. It’s one thing for the Conservative Party to use its money to buy television airtime to demean Mr. Trudeau; it’s another to use your money for the same base purposes. But as we see, the Harper attack machine does politics this way, always has and always will, because the Prime Minister – who authorizes all this stuff, after all – obviously thinks it works
The Conservative government is planning to change Canada’s copyright law to allow political parties to use content published and broadcast by news organizations for free in their own political ads.
An internal Conservative cabinet document obtained by CTV News details an amendment to the Copyright Act which would allow “free use of ‘news’ content in political advertisement intended to promote or oppose a politician or political party.” The amendment would also remove “the need for broadcasters to authorize the use of their news content.” And it would force media outlets to run political ads even if their own footage and content was used in a negative message to voters.
According to Harper government hype, routinely repeated uncritically in the media, the trade deal will be a boon for all Canadians, boosting our economy by $12 billion, generating 80,000 jobs and adding $1,000 a year to the incomes of Canadian families….
As for job gains, well, the models actually showed productivity gains, not job gains. But knowing the public has little interest in something as esoteric as productivity gains, these somehow morphed into more politically popular job gains, in a sleight-of-hand by government spin-doctors that Stanford dubs “intellectually dishonest.”
Most far-fetched is the claim that the deal will boost the incomes of Canadian families by $1,000 each. As Stanford notes, the government simply took the $12-billion economic boost — a specious number at best — and divided it by the number of Canadian families.
This may be, paradoxically enough, Stephen Harper’s finest hour. The man who admires Lincoln, Churchill and Thatcher, at last has his opportunity to lead as he imagines they did, with unyielding conviction and no care to the political cost. Hanging in the balance are Harper’s fourth term, and his legacy…..
The wrinkle – the wild card that makes this a Hail Mary pass, in political terms – is that it all may go so very badly wrong. In effect Harper has relinquished a large measure of control over his political future to luck, and the U.S. air force, and the ability of Iraqi Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites to first, cobble together a stable new polity in the midst of civil war, and second, defeat and/or contain the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, in some way that is recognizable, before Canadians go to the polls next fall. A tall order, one would think.
In the 1970s and 1980s, we were consistently told that our military was being financially starved by Trudeau’s government. Back then, the point of reference for Trudeau’s critics always seemed to be his government’s GDP spending on defence, which seldom exceeded 2 per cent. Granted, during Trudeau’s first two terms in office GDP spending on defence declined from 2.5 per cent in 1968 to what we thought was an “all-time low” of 1.6 per cent in 1979, rising again in the 1980s to just under 2 per cent in 1984.
But, looking objectively at the data, if the Trudeau government of the 1970s and 1980s was “uncommitted” to providing financial support to the Canadian Armed Forces, then Prime Minister Harper is a true financial deadbeat. Since Harper took office in 2006, GDP spending on defence has never exceeded 1.4 per cent, which is actually lower than even the alleged “all-time low” under Trudeau. Based on data provided by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, GDP spending on Canada’s military in 2012 stood at around 1.14 percent of the country’s GDP.
It took David Hulchanski five years to create the most sophisticated tool to track urban poverty ever devised. The work was painstaking. The result was startling and worrisome.
It took Tony Clement five minutes — if that — to destroy Hulchanski’s mapping device. “My research has been turned into a historical project,” the pioneering urban planner said disconsolately. This is one of the first documented cases of the damage done by the Conservative government’s 2010 decision to scrap Canada’s mandatory, full-length census.
A year ago, a handful of Toronto scientists decided they could no longer watch helplessly as the government of Canada systematically stifled information on everything from climate change to drug safety.
They formed a collective called Scientists for the Right to Know. They compiled a list of all the public agencies that have been eliminated, all the science and knowledge-based programs that have been discarded and all the strictures that have been placed on public officials. They created a website. They urged their academic peers to speak out. But none of them knew much about public advocacy. They were scholars after all, not lobbyists, organizers or publicists.
As the brainchild of the late Izzy Asper – his photo appears on the home page of its website – the newly-opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights was always bound to be controversial. ….
Can the Museum’s Friends also have missed the dire warnings of the mainstream media? I reported on a few of them in this space recently. From columnists Andrew Coyne and Jeffrey Simpson, from Globe and Mail editorials, we find phrases like “new abuse of power by the Harper government,” “sweeping powers that is common in dictatorships,” “impugned the integrity of…the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” Just this week in the Globe, Lawrence Martin wrote ominously that Canada has “a government where freedom of speech has become a stranger” and historian Erna Paris pleaded that the government “needs to return human rights to Canadian refugee policy
Very bad news week for SUN News, the propaganda arms of the Harper government:
The struggling Sun News Network suffered another blow this week after Canada’s broadcast regulator ruled against it in a payment dispute with Rogers, the country’s largest cable company.
The CRTC sided with Rogers in hearings to determine how much the cable company should pay Sun News, which says it is fighting for all news services to be treated fairly, regardless of their editorial stance.
Quebecor has agreed to sell all 175 English-language newspapers it owns under the Sun Media banner to Postmedia, the owner of the National Post and others, for $316 million.
The properties include the Toronto Sun, the Ottawa Sun, the Winnipeg Sun, the Calgary Sun and the Edmonton Sun, as well as the London Free Press and the free 24 Hours dailies in Toronto and Vancouver.
Despite the Conservative government’s frequent warnings about lingering terrorist threats, it has quietly abolished a federal panel of national security advisers.
The advisory council on national security was shut down during the summer -just two years into the three-year terms of its current members. The council was established in 2005 by the Liberal government of the day to provide confidential views on security issues in the post-9/11 era.
NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison called the council’s demise “another one of the reckless Conservative cuts.” “This seems to be another one of the things they’ve just tried to sneak by everybody.”
University of Toronto historian Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert who served on the council from 2005 to 2009, says there is still a need for the advisory body.