Since 2006, the Harper Government has caused the dismantling of Canada and has contributed to Canada’s being perceived as an international pariah.
Leading up to the 2015 federal election, we have the opportunity to denounce the Harper government for years of transgressions. Here is a beginning list.
TOP COMMENTARY PIECE OF THE YEAR SO FAR
What’s going on under the radar — where it’s kept thanks to the Harper government’s expertise in propaganda and manipulation — is the rodent-like gnawing at democratic process and the country’s fundamental legal structure.
Here’s merely the latest example. The government has been firing researchers in the Justice Department because the facts they were coming up with didn’t square with the party line, especially on their regressive prisons policy. On top of that, laws have been passed with admitted major errors. The Tory majority in the Senate breezed them through. For a country based on laws, this is both disgraceful and ominous.
The “agenda” is to yoke every important national function — the law, the courts, the tax system, the civil service, important offices like the Chief Electoral Officer, and every aspect of government policy, notably science — to make them serve the function of keeping the Conservative party in power. These are the natural instincts of dictators. The next election will put Canadians to the test.
iPolitics (Michael Harris) – Harper whispers his way into another war
The resolution on the Iraq mission that passed the House of Commons explicitly ruled out ground-based combat operations. Now, Mr. Harper has deployed Canadian special forces in such a way that they have become involved in what the parliamentary resolution expressly forbade: ground combat….
The American perspective is important in this matter because the coalition against IS is led by the United States. The Pentagon has expressly forbidden U.S. soldiers from doing what Canadian special forces are doing — because that would be a “combat” role, rather than “advise and assist”. In fact, Canada is the only coalition member whose ground forces have militarily engaged with IS — three times.
Back in 2006, Stephen Harper rode to electoral victory by promising the most sweeping package of democratic and parliamentary reforms the country had ever seen. While his critics may have doubted his commitment, Harper in fact acted quickly by making the Federal Accountability Act the first piece of legislation he n brought in after assuming power.
At the time, Harper said the act would restore Canadians’ trust in government, limit political donations, restrict lobbying by former cabinet ministers, decrease the control of leaders over party nominations, reduce secrecy and ensure protection for whistleblowers. Today, most of those promises are sad jokes.
Canada’s vocal opposition to the Palestinian accession to the International Criminal Court (ICC) rends further the Harper government’s already tattered claim to pursuing a principled foreign policy.
The position taken by Canada also vitiates Canadian interests in the promotion of international law and in the peaceful settlement of disputes. It deprecates as well the extraordinary achievements of successive Canadian governments, including the Conservative government, in creating and supporting the Court.
Huffington Post (Ralph Goodale) – Harper’s Budget Delay Shows Fear and Incompetence
Sharply dropping oil prices and a weakened Canadian energy sector are revealing the limited, ineffectual nature of Stephen Harper’s economic policies. Those policies, focused almost exclusively on that one sector, are too narrow. They have rendered Canadians more vulnerable and less resilient. And his government seems out of gas.
It turns out charities in Canada — at least the ones the government doesn’t like — are forbidden from “exercising moral pressure.” As if that isn’t the entire point of charitable enterprises. The absence of the profit motive and of self-interest in those involved in such an organization virtually defines a charity. Without those two things, what’s left is the pressure of morality compelling people to do the right thing.
But that’s illegal for a charity, it turns out.
ipolitics – Michael Harris: Harper’s success part of a global network of lies … and liars
Three of the biggest truth-tellers on the planet — Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning — are out of circulation. One is locked in an embassy, another is in exile in Russia, and the third is in jail in the self-proclaimed world’s greatest democracy.
At the same time, some of the biggest liars on the planet are running governments in the West. What’s wrong with this picture?
The next prime minister of Canada has either got to let Canadians in on what is really happening in this country and this world, or see the profession of politics fall into permanent disgrace. It won’t be lousy voter turn-out we’ll be talking about then — it will voter turn-off and the extinction of democracy, Alberta-style.
The lies, obfuscations and skullduggery have got to stop. Is there anyone in the country who believes the Harper government’s latest whopper that a $26 billion sole-sourced contract for new frigates was the work of a bureaucrat and that cabinet had nothing to do with it?
CBC Opinion – Jobs down, unemployment up: Harper fails work-seeking Canadians
In this election year, the prime minister has some explaining to do: Canadian labour markets are in worse condition than originally imagined, according to a new report by Statistics Canada.
We knew the Canadian labour market was not in great shape. After all, in lowering its trendsetting benchmark rate to 0.75, the Bank of Canada last week cited the slack in the Canadian labour market as one of the reasons.
Globe and Mail – Damage from cancelled census as bad as feared, researchers say
The cancellation of the mandatory long-form census has damaged research in key areas, from how immigrants are doing in the labour market to how the middle class is faring, while making it more difficult for cities to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely, planners and researchers say.
Statistics Canada developed a voluntary survey after Ottawa cancelled the long-form census in 2010. Many had warned that the switch would mean lower response rates and policies based on an eroded understanding of important trends. Now researchers – from city planners to public health units – say they have sifted through the 2011 data and found it lacking….
“It has certainly impacted my own work on what has been happening to middle-class earnings in Canada,” says Charles Beach, professor emeritus of economics at Queen’s University.
Huffington Post – Canada’s Job Growth For 2014 Revised Downward By A Third
Statistics Canada released revisions to unemployment figures on Wednesday, and it turns out Canada’s less-than-stellar job market was even less stellar than thought last year.
The statistical agency reduced its estimate of jobs created in 2014 to 121,000 from earlier estimates of 186,000, a reduction of about a third. The new numbers mean Canada’s unemployment rate was bumped up to 6.7 per cent, from 6.6 per cent.
The revised number “shows that the labour market failed to make significant headway last year,” CIBC World Markets said in a note.
Toronto Star – Government had warning about foreign workers and youth unemployment
The Conservative government knew the temporary foreign worker program was causing pressure on youth employment almost a year before reforming the program, documents show.
In an August 2013 briefing note for Employment Minister Jason Kenney, department officials warned that industries which commonly employ young Canadians are also among the employers hiring the most temporary foreign workers.
“Five of the top six industries that employ the most youth were also in the top half of (temporary foreign worker) program users,” reads the document, prepared shortly after Kenney was appointed to the department.
Just 121,000 more Canadians found jobs in 2014 and the number of people in the workforce has fallen to the lowest level in 14 years, according to Statistics Canada.
That’s because the growth in the number of Canadians of working age, which rose 1.1 per cent, outstripped the growth of jobs in the economy, which grew by 0.7 per cent. The labour participation rate, a key measure of whether Canadians are working or looking for work, fell 0.6 percentage points to 65.7 per cent in December 2014 — the lowest since 2000.
Part of the decline is due to an aging population, as Canadians over 55 are less likely to participate in the workforce. But a low labour participation rate also indicates many Canadians have lost confidence they can find work. Youth unemployment remains stubbornly high.
OH THE TERROR! YOUR 1:20,000,000 CHANCE OF BEING KILLED!
The Guardian – Canada’s new anti-terror legislation prompts civil liberties fears
Declaring that “a great evil has descended on our world”, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has unveiled legislation giving security forces sweeping new powers to apprehend suspected terrorists and disrupt their activities.
The new Anti-Terrorism Act – the latest in a series of such measures adopted by the Canadian parliament since the 9/11 terror attacks – will make promoting terrorism a crime subject to five years in prison. It will give the Canadian spy agency enhanced powers to disrupt suspected terrorist activity at home and abroad, and permit courts to shut down any Canadian-based website seen as promoting terrorism or seeking recruits.
There are many reasons to be appalled by the haphazard, overbearing and ill-defined provisions criminalizing the general promotion of terrorism that were presented by the federal Conservative government on Friday, but worst of all is the potential they have to actually increase the likelihood of radicalization and terrorism in Canada.
But on first reading, it’s hard to see the point of Bill C-51. In Canada, it’s already a crime to plan or support terrorist activity. The RCMP already uses legal methods to disrupt planned terror attacks. That’s what it did with the Toronto 18.
On Friday, Harper was asked whether his new bill could have prevented either of last fall’s attacks on soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec.
He said he wasn’t sure. It was a refreshingly honest answer. But it raised the broader question: If the government doesn’t know whether these measures will do any good, why is it proposing them?
Vancouver Observer – Sorry, soldiers who died for Canada weren’t citizens: government
“What does it matter that maple leaves adorn tombstones of various cemeteries in Europe…? Canada has lost none of its nationals during the last two World Wars, at least not officially,” begins an article recently published in Le Monde, France’s most famous newspaper.
“Because, according to Ottawa, Canadian citizenship never existed before the Citizenship Act on January 1, 1947.”
Veterans blasted Conservative MPs over bad communication and long waits for disability benefits at an emotional gathering in Kelowna. Soldiers who served in five conflicts turned up Tuesday at the Royal Canadian Legion on Bertram Street to hear MP Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre) lead an hour-long presentation on how the Veterans Affairs department is trying to improve services across the country.
Some of the 30 in the crowd became frustrated halfway through Hawn’s slide show on a screen so small that few could read the words. When he tried to explain how Veterans Affairs Canada is delivering services after closing its Kelowna office, Korea veteran Lawrence Crosthwaite had had enough.
In response to a written question posed by the opposition, the Department of Justice said it spent $694,070 in legal fees, while National Defence spent $3,231. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau used the cost to demand in the House that the lawsuit be dropped.
Liberal veterans critic Frank Valeriote described the government’s response as “hypocrisy,” noting that the issue for ex-soldiers is not the system itself, but the amount of funding within it.
“It is not the new veterans charter that is the problem, it’s adequacy of the funding given to those programs and the sufficiency of the awards given to our veterans through the application of the charter,” Valeriote said. “Spending $700,000 a year to fight vets in court is not supporting our troops,” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair fumed during one heated question period exchange with Harper.
This much you know: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sealed a multi-billion-dollar deal to buy light armoured vehicles from Canada.
Here’s what you might not know: The Saudi regime is buying these vehicles not to defend the nation from foreign threats, but to protect the regime from Saudis — from internal dissent and demands for reform.
Although both the Canadian and Saudi announcements of the deal early last year — which is being offered up by Ottawa as a triumph for Canadian manufacturing — were shy on detail, various reports say the LAV III light armoured vehicles, made by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in London, Ontario, are not for the Saudi Arabian Army.
The federal government has formally refused to release any details about the cost of Canada’s ongoing military mission in Iraq, prompting opposition charges of cover-up.
In a response to a question by NDP MP Jack Harris, the government says it knows the estimated price tags for its air and ground operations but is refusing to make them public because the situation is “dynamic.”
Instead, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said in a formal response tabled in the House of Commons that Harris — and all Canadians will have to wait until months after the mission ends before the costs will be revealed.
Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser. The old saying is doubly apt in defence procurement, where losing bidders always claim nepotism, corruption or incompetence.
But accusations that the government has sole sourced a military contract even larger than the one at the centre of the F35 fiasco may be more than just sour grapes on the part of those frozen out.
There was genuine shock in Ottawa defence circles when an apparently routine information session on the efforts to build a new warship fleet — Canada’s largest-ever defence procurement project — revealed, without fanfare, that Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax had been awarded the designation as prime contractor on the $26-billion procurement to build up to 15 ships.
Ottawa Citizen – Government’s definition of combat doesn’t make sense, say veterans
The Conservative government’s definition of what constitutes combat is not only wrong, but ignores some of the actions of Canadian soldiers in conflicts from the Second World War to Afghanistan, say war veterans and historians.
Dealing with accusations that it misled Parliament about the role of Canadian troops in Iraq, the government has responded with its definition of a combat role.
Families with income more than $233,000 a year stand to gain most under the Conservative government’s controversial income-splitting tax break, a new study of the costly program has found.
“The richest families are most likely to make at least $1,000 from the new policy,” says the study released Tuesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
While two-thirds of the richest families will get at least $1,000 by splitting spousal income, with the lower-income spouse being assigned up to $50,000 of the other spouse’s higher income for income tax purposes, that chance that a middle class family will receive a benefit of even $1 is “as good as a coin toss,” says a 40-page report on the analysis.
Huffington Post – Tories’ Low Tax Claims Contradicted By $3.4B In New Revenue: Liberals
As Canadians begin to look forward to a series of new federal tax measures kicking in soon, newly-released figures show changes to taxes and tariffs are also helping bolster the government’s bottom line.
Data tabled in the House of Commons this week shows a variety of tax changes and the elimination of old tax credits will rake in more than $3.4 billion for the federal government in 2015-2016. And those numbers don’t include what the government is collecting on user fees for services like passports and citizenship, or recent new tariffs on imports.
Huffington Post – Health Canada’s Medical Pot Program Racks Up Millions In Costs
As Health Canada expects to spend more than $2 million this year to review applications from companies vying for entry into the commercial medical marijuana market, some of them having burned through millions of dollars trying to navigate a process that insiders say is mired in red tape.
The federal government, which has attracted about 1,200 would-be pot producers with the allure of a potential $1.3 billion industry, has licensed only two new companies to sell the drug in nearly a year, amid growing accusations that Health Canada’s selection process is sluggish, convoluted and arbitrary. One company even believes the government is deliberately trying to stop medical marijuana growers from getting licensed, according to a court affidavit.
Huffington Post – Government Paid $180,000 To Run Empty Mining Ombudsman Office
The Harper government spent more than $180,000 last year to run the office of a corporate social responsibility counsellor for the Canadian mining industry — even though there was no counsellor.
The government says it cost $181,600 to operate the office from October 2013 to October 2014. However, the position of counsellor was vacant all that time and remains so to this day.
The spending over the past nine years on outside consultants to help decide which government records Canadians are allowed to obtain.
Most of that spending occurred during the last four years. The $57-million price tag is for spending starting in fiscal year 2006-2007, after the Conservatives were first elected to government.
About 60 per cent of that money has been spent since the Conservatives won a majority in 2011. The money was spent by departments to handle access to information requests and complaints, according to documents tabled in Parliament this week. The spending is above and beyond that allocated to full-time staff handling such requests in each department.