MUST WATCH VIDEO: Vancouver Observer – Kevin Page
Ex-Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page on muzzled scientists, secrecy and “broken” government
CUSP – The Harper Sin List
(aka Stephen Harper’s Résumé)
50+ Harper government outrages and counting
There are at least a hundred more. We hope to add them as time permits.
And, by the way, please check this even more comprehensive list of about seventy items by science librarian, John Dupuis. To think this comprises only the science attacks! — The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment, May 20, 2013.
In politics, as in baseball, the rule is simple: Three strikes and you’re out.
When Stephen Harper finally shambles towards the showers, head down, bat in hand, I’ll be thinking of Mighty Casey. For much of his career, Harper has umpired his own at-bats. But that role will soon — if briefly — fall to the people of Canada. Election Day is coming to Mudville.
Toronto Star (Suan Delacourt) – Stephen Harper keener about free expression away from home
The real test of standing up for strong principles, most would agree, is defending them at home and afar. But what happens when freedom of expression collides with the need to win elections or manage the message, or with the everyday discipline of power?
Later this month, a new book will be released: Kill the Messengers, a sweeping and sobering read by Ottawa author Mark Bourrie on all the ways in which freedom of the press and expression have been anything but “cherished” in the prevailing political climate in Canada this past decade.
Imagine for a moment two societies living side by side. One has discovered the wheel and uses it. The wheel makes life easier for workers and boosts the economy for everyone. Prosperity reigns. The society next door is well aware of the wheel and watches as its neighbours move inexorably ahead, becoming wealthier, more efficient and healthier while creating more leisure time for cultural activities…..
While Canada is not exactly a next door neighbour to Norway and other Scandinavian countries, there is no excuse for not knowing and emulating the proven success of those nations. What’s their open secret? Replace the wheel in this story with robust government engagement in the economy and you have pretty much all you need to understand about why Norway, Sweden and Denmark are doing so well economically and socially. And why Canada is destined for inexorable decline.
G&M – We can all take some credit for helping the rich get richer
(The issue is not the economy, it is income inequality.)
….in Mr. Mackenzie’s latest report prepared for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Canada’s top 100 CEOs – the top .01 per cent, by the way – made an average of $9.2-million in 2013, while all of Canada’s beloved hard-working average middle class earned – not “made,” earned – on average $47,358. So the Big Boys made – not necessarily earned – 195 times more than normal folk. Fifteen years earlier, CEOs made “only” 105 times as much. Way back in the dark ages, in the 1980s, executives – who seemed pretty well off then – made about 40 times more than the average worker. So there’s been an exponential increase in the disparity between them and the rest of us in a pretty short period of time.
Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders will meet at the end of the month. Stephen Harper won’t be there. Rick Mercer suggests that’s because the PM prefers to spend his time catching up on episodes of the “Murdoch Mysteries” and because he simply isn’t interested in the type of dialogue that leads to “solutions” and “nation building.”
As a leader, the other thing you must never do is engage in frank talk with people who have been elected to represent every part of the nation,” Mercer said in his rant Tuesday night. “It’s that kind of thinking that lead to the creation of Canada in the first place. ”
FOREIGN FOLLIES AND HARPER’S BLUNDERING BARD, ER….BAIRD
Only days before the murderous assault on Charlie Hébdo staff in Paris by heavily armed men claiming allegiance to Al Qaeda, Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to support the global Arms Trade Treaty, which came into force on Christmas Eve, 90 days after the 50th nation ratified it.
While doing so, Harper also facilitated more Canadian arms sales this past year than previous governments have ever sanctioned – a $14.8 billion contract over 10 years to sell Light Armored Vehicles (LAV III) made in Ontario. They are being assembled at a branch plant of US-based General Dynamics, the sixth largest arms manufacturer in the world, with sales of over $31 billion in 2012.
Foreign Minister John Baird quietly ordered his department to cut millions of dollars out of a foreign aid program last year and to call the cut a “surplus,” because he had decided his own diplomats were not being smart enough with the money, his office says.
The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, which gives money to foreign community groups for projects addressing democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law and other social development issues, spent $7.8 million less than expected in 2013-14, according to a public accountability report from that time. But the report does not explain why—only that there were “unused funds.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has postponed the North American leaders’ summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a time when relations with both leaders are chilly.
The unexpected move allows Mr. Harper to avoid an awkward side-by-side news conference with Mr. Obama at a February summit that all three governments were expecting would be dominated by the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline – now at the top of the political agenda in Washington.
Toronto Star – Stephen Harper misled Canadians about Iraq role, opposition says
Revelations that Canadian soldiers in Iraq have seen front-line action is sparking renewed debate about the mission as opposition leaders say Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not come clean about the true role of the troops.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair on Tuesday point-blank accused Harper of misleading Canadians, saying the revelations that soldiers have been directing airstrikes and even exchanged gunfire with extremists calls into question the government’s promise of a “non-combat” mission.
“He told Canadians they would not be involved in combat. He did not tell the truth,” Mulcair said.
MORE FISCAL FOOLERY
Prime Minister Harper looked into his magic mirror back in the fall and decided the time was right to announce major tax cuts. And as in 2008, he has once again demonstrated his bent for letting wishful thinking infect his fiscal forecasts.
In 2014 the EI program posted an estimated $3.4 billion surplus. Similar surpluses are forecasted for 2015 and 2016 while premium rates remain frozen.
Lori MacKay of the Coalition for a Fair EI told CBC News the surpluses show government changes to EI have gone too far, and said that Ottawa is balancing its budget on the backs of the unemployed.
OTTAWA — A study of Canada’s dysfunctional military procurement system became a political football Wednesday as opposition parties pounced on the premise that delays and miscues were due in part to the Harper government’s own policies.
The report, entitled “Putting the ‘Armed’ Back into the Canadian Armed Forces,” was written jointly by the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and the MacDonald-Laurier Institute.
Critics say it will be hard for the Conservatives to dismiss the exhaustive analysis, which is based on more than 50 confidential interviews and a workshop with retired and currently serving acquisition officials, political staff and consultants.
Huffington Post – CPP Disability Benefits Denied To 60% Of Applicants, Among Highest Rejection Rates in World
About 60 per cent of CPP disability claimants are initially turned down — one of the highest rejection rates for a disability insurance program among the nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Claims are denied due to everything from insufficient paperwork to a lack of proper medical and employability information.
Michael Prince, a public policy professor at the University of Victoria and vocal critic of efforts to streamline the social security appeal process, said it makes no sense why so many Canadians are being turned down.
In a recent response to questions posed by Liberal justice critic Sean Casey, the government confirmed that, under the Harper government, the Department of Justice research budget has been slashed by almost $3 million, or 60 per cent.
Justice research contracts have decreased by over 90 per cent — from $450,000 in 2010 to a mere $41,000 in 2014 — and the number of full-time legal researchers was cut from 34 to 18 over the same period.
The purported justification for cuts was budgetary. However, according to an internal government report, the Justice Department’s research budget was actually slashed because its findings “may run contrary to government direction” and “at times left the impression that research is undermining government decisions.”
Huffington Post – Solitary Confinement In Canada: Groups Sue Federal Government
(More of our taxes going towards defending flawed Harper government policy)
On Monday, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society of Canada launched a lawsuit against the federal government for the use of administrative segregation in Canadian prisons, saying the practice violates prisoners’ charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person.
“Indefinite solitary confinement has been classified by the United Nations as torture. It’s been called by the Canadian Human Rights Commission cruel and unusual punishment. There’s been study after study saying that this needs to be eliminated,” said Josh Paterson, the association’s executive director.
NOT SO FREE TRADE
Toronto Star – Canada being sued for billions under NAFTA investor protections
(Expect more of this under CETA and the Canada-China FIPA)
The private owner of the Detroit-Windsor bridge is suing Canada for billions under NAFTA, one of many legal cases cited in a new study on corporations’ growing use of investor protection measures to challenge the Canadian, U.S. and Mexican governments.
Michigan billionaire Matty Moroun, owner of the existing bridge connecting Windsor to Detroit, is claiming damages from Ottawa in connection with Canada’s plan to help build a second bridge linking Ontario to Michigan at Detroit.
Moroun, whose bridge company opposes the Canadian project, claims Canada’s handling of the pre-construction phase of the proposed new bridge has violated his firm’s right under NAFTA provisions to be treated no differently than a Canadian company. In an initial filing, Moroun’s company asked a NAFTA arbitration tribunal for $3.5 billion in damages from Ottawa.
HARPER’S FIENDS, ER…FRIENDS
G&M – Courts freeze assets in fraud case linked to ex-McGill health boss
(Update on Arthur Porter, the man Harper appointed to oversee Canada’s spy agency.)
Quebec courts have frozen millions of dollars in property and bank accounts in the fraud and bribery case linked to Arthur Porter and the construction of a billion-dollar Montreal hospital, newly released court documents reveal…..
Crown prosecutor Paul Mercier says the Quebec agency charged with seizing the proceeds of crime has tracked down and frozen $17.5-million of the $22.5-million allegedly stolen.
Dozens of accounts in Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Liechtenstein, Israel, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States are on ice, along with property in St. Kitts-Nevis and the Bahamas. Properties in Michigan and Florida caught in the freeze were purchased for Dr. Porter’s daughters.
The allegations, which one police investigator has described as the largest corporate corruption case in Canadian history, have not been tested in court.
CBC – Arthur Porter, ex-McGill hospital director, to be extradited from Panama
(This is the guy that Harper appointed to oversee Canada’s spy agency.)
Panama and Canada have reached an agreement for the extradition of former McGill University Health Centre director Arthur Porter, according to Radio-Canada.
SRC has confirmed from a source that a deal was reached but no date has been set for him to be sent back to Canada. He has been in a Panamanian jail since May 2013 when he was arrested at the Panama airport on an international warrant. Porter is being extradited to Canada to face the corruption charges against him.
A veterans’ advocate in Whitney Pier said he’s been told by the federal government he can no longer help former military members navigate the bureaucracy of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.
Keith Neville has successfully advocated for 48 veterans having their cases heard by the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, which provides veterans and other applicants with an independent avenue of appeal for disability decisions made by Veterans Affairs Canada.
Hill Times – O’Toole has ‘traditional’ view on advocacy but veterans and how they advocate have changed, says CVA
(New name on the departmental letterhead, same old attitude.)
An injured veterans advocate who was excluded from a federal veterans advisory group by the former Veterans Affairs minister says newly appointed Minister Erin O’Toole was wrong to impose the same measure against outspoken veterans advocate Michael Blais by cutting his advocacy group from the stakeholders committee.
“He’s been a member of the committee,” veterans advocate Don Leonardo told The Hill Times on Monday. “If you want to control the message that’s being sent to veterans or to Canadians, maybe you should invite him inside the room and debate him inside behind the closed doors.”
SCIENCE AND RESEARCH
Canadian universities are shying away from research into such controversial topics as immigration and assisted suicide because of the federal Conservative government’s continued focus on matching research grants to corporate interests, experts and advocates say.
Overall funding has dipped about 6 per cent in the past eight years for all three federal granting councils – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) – according to federal budget data provided by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).
The trouble is, her staff at Environment Canada have forecast the country’s global warming emissions to rise significantly with the growth in Canada’s oil and gas sector. The department reported in December that it predicts Canada will have no chance of meeting its Copenhagen target for reducing emissions by 17 per cent by 2020.
SFU climate economist Mark Jaccard also said most of Canada’s downward force in emissions was due to Ontario’s move to close coal-fired power plants — not the Harper government’s efforts, he suggested Wednesday.