(Our most sincere apologies for the length and lateness of this post. As you no doubt feel all too keenly yourselves, this is not the most cheering task for the Canadian soul and if left undone for too long, grows to enormous proportions, what with Harper’s never-ending capacity for outrage and ineptitude. As always, read it and weep, but look forward to 2015 when we can hopefully close this page forever.)
(Also, don’t forget to check out http://www.hchips.ca)
iPolitics (Michael Harris) – The final front: Veterans versus Harper in 2015 John Ralston Saul is probably right — our Maple Leaf Mussolini would have impressed old Benito himself, shiny boots and all. Canada’s Master Confuser has hit all the hot buttons in recent weeks and many Canadians responded exactly as he had hoped. They stampeded like a herd of gazelles pursued by starving lions. Stephen Harper emerged from the storage closet following the attack on Parliament Hill to declare Canadians would not be intimidated. He linked two disturbed killers to terrorism long before the shaky ‘proof’ was produced.
Toronto Star – How Canada’s privacy deficit undermines our economy
As the owner of a small business with international clients, I know that trust lies at the heart of my working relationships. Clients need to know that I can keep their business secrets confidential. International clients have historically had a high level of confidence doing business in Canada, but, sadly, our business climate is becoming increasingly toxic for privacy. It will be difficult for overseas clients to maintain that confidence if our government doesn’t change its tune.
I was fascinated by Edward Snowden’s revelations, and they have certainly sparked a lively debate. What I would like to add to that debate is some reflection on the impact our government’s “privacy deficit” has on Canadian businesses, particularly in a growing tech sector that employs over half-a-million Canadians.
Toronto Star – Tim Harper: Federal books are balanced, but the cuts are hitting home
As Finance Minister Joe Oliver rises Wednesday to deliver a fiscal update to a blue-chip business audience that trumpets balanced books and a surplus on the way, it might be a good time to remember how we got here.
It’s also a good time to remember how quickly a surplus can be vacuumed up.
It was after the deep cuts unveiled in his 2012 budget that the former finance minister, the late Jim Flaherty, told Canadians that those cuts were to “back office operations” of government that would not be noticed by Canadians.
It was all about fat, not delivery of services, he told us. A quest to test that theory by the former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, ended up in court, unresolved.
But there is at least anecdotal information — and lots of it — that some of those back office cuts are banging on the front door in 2014.
Toronto Star – Editorial: Tony Clement’s Orwellian ‘open government’ plan
Seeking to combat his government’s reputation for secrecy, suppression of information and closed-door decision-making, Treasury Board President Tony Clement unveiled an ambitious “action plan on open government” last week. It was so totally disconnected from reality that the initial reaction in the nation’s capital was incredulity. Bitter criticism followed.
G&M (Gerald Caplan) – As CRA audits charities, there’s a scandal within a scandal
(First, they came for the Birdwatchers…) There are lots of conservative groups in Canada that have been granted charitable status, the Fraser Institute being an obvious example. That means they’re required to be non-partisan and can use only 10 per cent of their resources for political activities. Besides broad ideology, what these groups have in common is that none of them, it appears, is being audited by the Canadian Revenue Agency. Yet many have unquestionably participated in “political activities” as spelled out by the CRA. You can read all about them, and their warm relationships with the Harper government, in Prof. Donald Gutstein’s new book, Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada.
FAILED HARPER POLICY
ipolitics – Secret witnesses? Curtailed cross-exams? The poison pill in the ‘victims’ rights bill’
(This is absolutely terrifying)
A plain reading of this section should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who believes in the right to a fair trial.
Think about it: A private hearing that could result in anonymous witnesses and secret evidence. So much for the ability of an accused to respond to serious allegations.
The importance of an accused being able to identify and confront their accuser in a criminal proceeding cannot be understated. Without it, it’s almost impossible to defend against allegations. Details about the accuser can be vitally important to the defence. Did the accuser have a motive to lie? Does the accuser’s identity suggest an alibi?
A trial is the search for the truth. Secret evidence, non-disclosure of information, anonymous witnesses — these things can can only serve to obscure reality. Yet this is what the Victims’ Bill of Rights promises.
National Post – Conservatives have wiped 37,000 off the public-service payroll, cutting jobs faster than expected
Canada’s Conservative government has wiped nearly 37,000 people off the federal payroll and reduced key services for Canada’s veterans and the unemployed and budgets for food safety in the “rush” to pay for its promised tax cuts, according to a new report.
The report, by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, concludes that the Conservatives are able to realize their promised surplus and tax breaks at the expense of front-line services, corroded by steady spending cuts that will continue for another two years — even after the books have been balanced.
“Those cuts to services aren’t being reversed. There are no plans to bring back any of those services,” said David Macdonald, senior economist at the CCPA.
Canadian Wheat Board Alliance – Canadian Wheat Now Cheapest in the World
This just in from the Reuters news agency out of Hamburg, Germany: Canadian wheat is now the cheapest in the world. How times change! With the single-desk Canadian Wheat Board farmers sold directly to overseas markets and got premium prices because of reliability of supply, honesty, and guaranteeing the highest quality grain in the world. Thanks to Ottawa that is all gone now and Canadian sourced wheat is being sold into the Middle East for less than even wheat from nearby Russia. This comes as no surprise to western farmers, the majority of who supported keeping the farmer-controlled single-desk. In a related story, three weeks ago an Alberta farmer with durum wheat to sell went to his local foreign-owned elevator and was offered a mere seven dollars and change per bushel. Quite a letdown from prices that were usually more than double that with the farmer-run Wheat Board. When he said he would wait, the elevator operator said they also had US pricing for durum which would give him twelve dollars a bushel. Not near the Wheat Board pool prices for durum but better. Of course we know that for the first time in memory durum wheat prices are now higher in the US than in Canada and have been since Minister Ritz announced he was killing the Wheat Board.
Winnipeg Free Press – Ottawa skipped internal study on $550M job credit, relied on interest group
(The Kijiji Effect)
The Harper government passed up conducting its own internal analysis on the job-creation potential of its $550-million small-business job credit, relying instead on numbers produced by an interest group, the finance minister revealed Wednesday.
Joe Oliver told the parliamentary finance committee that Ottawa’s decision to introduce the measure was based on the research of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“The department does not analyze every measure that we introduce,” Oliver told the hearing as he responded to a question.
“If we don’t do it, we look to those who have expertise and we did in this case to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.”
Huffington Post – Tories Make Big Cuts To Transport Safety While Touting Safety
OTTAWA – The Harper government has made dramatic cuts in spending on aviation, marine and rail transport safety over the past five years, even as it was touting new safety measures in the transportation sector.
The latest figures from the federal government’s public accounts show actual spending by Transport Canada on marine safety has plunged 27 per cent since 2009-10, while aviation and rail safety spending are both down 20 per cent or more.
Huffington Post – Tory MP Erin O’Toole Says New Tax Breaks Good For Families Like His
OTTAWA — Conservative MP Erin O’Toole wants Canadians to how just how excited he is about the Harper government’s new tax breaks.
The Ontario MP, who as a parliamentary secretary earns $180,000 a year, wrote a letter Thursday to Tory supporters praising the party’s new tax cuts.
He and his wife Rebecca, and their two children, eight-year-old Mollie and three-year-old Jack, stand to gain tax breaks worth approximately $3,440 a year.
Huffington Post – Canadian Federal Scientists, Professionals Union Launches Anti-Harper Campaign
OTTAWA – The union representing scientists and other professionals in the federal public service is abandoning its tradition of neutrality in elections to actively campaign against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) says delegates to its annual general meeting have agreed the union should be more politically active heading into next year’s federal election.
In particular, delegates have agreed that the union should energetically expose the damage they believe the Harper government has done to federal public services.
HARPER’S STELLAR FRIENDS
The Star – Harper announces third trip to China, without mentioning human rights
OTTAWA—It was business as usual Friday at the prime minister’s Langevin Block office, where Stephen Harper smiled and chatted with the Chinese ambassador to Canada before confirming plans for his third official visit to China next week.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build on our economic relationship and also our friendship,” Harper told Luo Zhaohui.
However, less than a block from the red brick building, Wang Bingwu of Toronto stood outside, holding a simple white placard that read, in all-caps lettering: “PM Mr. Harper, please help to free my brother.”
Dogwood Initiative – Energy executive blasts Kinder Morgan review as “fraudulent,” quits
(The National Energy Board is one of Harper’s closest and dearest “friends”)
Marc Eliesen has withdrawn as an intervenor in the federal government’s review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker expansion project, detailing his reasons for quitting in a scathing 1,500 word letter to the National Energy Board.
Eliesen is the former CEO of B.C. Hydro and the former Chair of Manitoba Hydro. A deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments, Eliesen has forty years’ executive experience in the energy sector, including as a board member at Suncor.
The Star – Ex-citizenship judge jailed for illegally revealing citizenship exams A retired citizenship judge has become the first in Canada to be imprisoned for breach of trust after illegally providing copies of citizenship exams. Family members wept as Philip Gaynor, 71, was led away in handcuffs Wednesday following Ontario Court Justice Harvey Brownstone’s sentence of three years. He said Gaynor’s “reprehensible” and “appalling” actions went “straight to the heart of the integrity of Canada’s immigration system” and potentially tarnished new Canadians’ perception of the judiciary. “In my 20 years on the bench, I have never had the misfortune to deal with something like this,” he said. A longtime resident of Durham Region, Gaynor was appointed a citizenship judge in 2006 by the Conservative government and reappointed to another three-year term in 2009.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS WORKING FOR HARPER
Huff Post – Tory Family Tax Cuts: Public Pays For Ads For Measures Not Yet Approved
Radio ads have already hit the air promoting the recently announced income-splitting plan for families with children and changes to the Universal Child Care Benefit. The Harper government is spending more public funds advertising measures that have not yet been legislated by Parliament. The radio spots end with a brief caveat: the tax changes are “subject to parliamentary approval.” …. Last year, Advertising Standards Canada ruled government ads promoting a Conservative employment grant program overseen by Kenney were “misleading” because they pushed a plan that was not yet negotiated with the provinces or approved by Parliament. Those ads also included the “subject to parliamentary approval” disclaimer.ly announced income-splitting plan for families with children and changes to the Universal Child Care Benefit. The radio spots end with a brief caveat: the tax changes are “subject to parliamentary approval.”
Globe and Mail – And now, a completely non-partisan word from your Harper government
Sarcasm can be a potent rhetorical tool, and on April 19, 2004, then-Official Opposition Leader Stephen Harper rose in the House of Commons to wield it.
Condemning a Liberal government ad campaign that was reportedly going to cost $120-million as partisan pork, he acerbically noted, “This advertising, this information just happens to be the same as the government’s own election platform.”
Mr. Harper’s criticism was direct, principled – an election would be called a few weeks later – and spot-on. It was also quickly forgotten once he rose to power 20 months later.
Stephen Lautens’ Parking Space – Dean Del Mastro & Harper’s Hobson’s Choice
But today Dean changed his tune from defiant and fight to the last breath, to resign immediately with what passes for political dignity. In his 15 minute resignation speech in the House of Commons today, Del Mastro was still defiant, defensive, self-congratulatory and expressed his undying love for the Conservative Party. The Conservatives rewarded him with two things. First a standing ovation from the Government benches, which is odd for someone just convicted of willfully committing electoral fraud. Second, a proposed amendment yesterday from Conservative MP Tom Lukiwksi, parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, amending the MPs’ pension forfeiture rule that would limit the new rule to a specific list of criminal offences, coincidentally excluding a conviction under the Canada Elections Act.
Metro – Conservative election scandals, at a glance
OTTAWA – Here is a look at some of the election-related scandals that have swirled around the Conservative party in recent years.
The Toronto Star – Tories lost July court ruling on CSIS spying overseas
OTTAWA—The Conservative government revealed that it lost an important Federal Court of Appeal ruling that found CSIS hid the extent of its overseas spying activities from a judge.
A redacted version of the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, dated July 7, 2014, was posted on the court’s website Tuesday with no notice to the media — a highly unusual move.
It upheld an earlier Federal Court ruling by Justice Richard Mosley that rebuked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the federal government for hiding the fact that CSIS had turned to CSE, Canada’s electronic spy agency, and its allied partners in the “Five Eyes” international spying network to carry out intrusive surveillance abroad on two Canadians.
MORE ABUSE FOR THE VULNERABLE
CTV News – Over $1.1 billion in unspent funds at Veterans Affairs since 2006: documents
(Again, this is how the Cons operate – big allocations, big announcements, no action, no spending, no results)
OTTAWA — Veterans Affairs Canada has returned $1.13 billion to the federal treasury in unspent funds since the Conservatives came to power in 2006 — cash that critics say should have gone towards improved benefits and services.
The figure, which surfaced this week in the House of Commons, has led to renewed criticism of the Harper government, which is already smarting over its frayed relations with disgruntled former soldiers.
CTV News – Veterans’ coalition announces boycott of government photo-ops
A newly formed coalition of veterans’ groups says it will boycott all government photo-ops and participation in news releases until Ottawa improves its treatment of veterans.
Six groups, including Veterans of Canada and Canadians for Accountability, have formed the Canada Coalition for Veterans, which is seeking “much-needed improvements in how veterans, injured serving members and their families are treated and supported.”
Huffington Post – Foreign Affairs Lets $125M In Aid To Poor Countries Lapse
OTTAWA – Almost 14 per cent of the money that Canada’s newly amalgamated Foreign Affairs Department planned to spend alleviating poverty in poor countries in the last year has been returned, unspent, to the Finance Department.
Foreign Affairs managed to spend just shy of $792 million on aid to low-income countries in 2013-14, but had $917 million available, leaving more than $125 million in lapsed funding.
The Toronto Star – Ottawa ignores rule of law in refugee health cuts case
The Harper government’s recent decision to continue denying health care benefits to certain groups of refugees is deeply problematic not only because it means vulnerable people in this country will continue to suffer, and possibly die.
All Canadians — regardless of their views on refugee health care — should also be deeply alarmed by the fact that this week our government chose to blatantly ignore an explicit court order. This type of action cuts directly against the rule of law, one of the most fundamental principles in any democracy. Canadians need to know that this has happened. And they need to care
Ottawa Citizen – Minister knew Canada wouldn’t meet Syrian refugee commitment
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander was secretly warned in the spring that Canada would not fulfil its promise to the United Nations to accept 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of the year because of the ill-advised way in which the commitment was made.
Alexander also knew that only a handful of Syrian refugees had been approved to come to Canada when he dodged news media questions on the subject earlier this year, even hanging up in the middle of a national radio interview on the subject.
Global News – Fears of evictions across Canada as feds end co-op housing subsidy
TORONTO – Krystyl Randall, legally blind and out of work for the last two years, lives in a co-op housing unit in Ottawa with her son. But the federal government subsidy she relies on to pay her rent is coming to an end.
“If I had to pay everything before I could even get food on the table, that’s a big worry,” said Randall.
Vancouver Observer – Critic slams Canada’s “shameful” citizenship policy
Citizenship advocate Don Chapman criticized Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration as “shameful” yesterday for its rejections of citizenship applications from legitimate Canadians despite repeatedly promising to correct the law.
“It’s shameful,” Chapman said. “We did everything Citizenship and Immigration asked of us, paid their ($400) fees, and now they talk about deporting Donovan McGlaughlin.”
The Toronto Star – Tories rejected recommendation on workplace harassment nine months ago
OTTAWA—Sexual harassment on Parliament Hill — whether among politicians, staffers or media — has long been the subject of whispers or occasional rumours, but never has anyone come out into the marbled halls with direct allegations.
Yet it was partly the subject of parliamentary study by a Commons committee just nine months ago.
As part of a broader report, the committee issued a call on Status of Women Canada — a federal agency — to work with Parliament to raise “awareness of the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace.”
However, the Conservative government — through the two ministers responsible — rejected that specific recommendation.