Huffington Post – Paul Franklin: Each Year, Veterans Affairs Makes Me Prove I Lost My Legs
In regards to Rick Mercer’s rant from the other day, I was contacted by Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole for a request for a telephone conversation about my file. Here’s my response:
Minister Erin O’Toole,
I have had many issues in my nine years as a wounded soldier and as a vet.
After returning in 2006, the Department of Defence (DoD) did amazing things and worked tiredly on the issue and where VAC (Veterans’ Affairs) failed to deliver they stepped up. Upon my retirement “my file” of course went to VAC and to quote a great writer “and this is where my trouble began.”
So what’ll it be? Eve Adams and blond ambition? Heartbreak Justin’s dubious judgement? Or Mrs. Harper’s salsa?
The most arbitrary government Canada has ever had is transforming the country into a war-mongering, arms-selling police state while the nation debates recipes and political soap opera.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s resignation is being greeted with the usual positive pap from the mainstream media.
Baird’s penultimate statement today (February 3)—that people need to be defined by their values—was the type of sound bite that he mastered over 20 years in politics. His gift of the gab often camouflaged a foreign policy that was out of sync with many Canadians’ values.
The negative fallout of the Conservatives’ foreign policy has undermined Canada’s reputation in many countries.
The federal government is proposing a new law for Canadians overseas who want to vote in federal elections. At first glance, the bill looks like a good thing. But look a little closer, and it becomes clear that Bill C-50 — the “Citizen Voting Act” — should more properly be called the “Blocking Citizens from Voting Act.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper never tires of telling Canadians that we are at war with the Islamic State. Under the cloud of fear produced by his repeated hyperbole about the scope and nature of the threat, he now wants to turn our domestic spy agency into something that looks disturbingly like a secret police force.
Canadians should not be willing to accept such an obvious threat to their basic liberties. Our existing laws and our society are strong enough to stand up to the threat of terrorism without compromising our values.
Toronto Star – Errol Mendes: Tories’ anti-terror bill undermines values it’s meant to protect
With its new anti-terror bill, the Harper government is playing unseemly politics with Canadians’ safety and civil liberties.
When a prime minister announces one of the most draconian anti-terrorism bills in his nation’s history — and does this not in the national legislature, but at an election-type campaign stop in a riding his party hopes to hold in a looming election — Canadians should be worried about the democratic stability of the country.
Eagle Feather News – Letter to the Prime Minister: Amend “Fair” Elections Act
(This is from April 17, 2014, but remains a serious issue as the election approaches.)
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
I am the Chief of Lac La Ronge Indian Band, which is the largest First Nation in Saskatchewan with 10,023 members, of which 6,136 are of voting age. We are a multi-community band comprising of six separate communities.
I am writing to request the federal government consider amendments to Bill C-23 (The Fair Elections Act) to accommodate the democratic rights of First Nations voters. Comprehensive consultation with Canada’s First Nations is needed before making any future changes to the way federal elections are administered.
Huffington Post – Ralph Goodale: Harper Should Not Brag About His Fiscal Reputation
With Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) actually shrinking and despite having the worst economic growth record of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett, Stephen Harper seems keen to brag about the fiscal reputation of his Conservative Party. Well, let’s take a close look.
…Mr. Harper overspent by three times the rate of inflation. He eliminated all the contingency reserves and prudence factors that had served as fiscal “shock absorbers” to get Canada successfully through untoward events like international currency crises, the SARS pandemic and 9-11. And he put this country back into deficit again BEFORE the recession arrived in the latter part of 2008.
Either or both of them may turn out to be worth much more, but it makes no difference. When rats start fleeing the ship, it’s not worth debating their quality. Whether they’re fat healthy rats or sick and wounded rats, they flee the ship because they realize that it’s sinking.
Harper has lied about the war on terror, and there is nothing to suggest this time he is telling the truth. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada’s spy agencies and police need “sweeping new powers” to fight Islamists and jihadists, and the worldwide movement that hates our open, tolerant and free society.
Enough already. Harper’s Chicken Little act is getting tired. Time and time again we’ve been lied to about the war on terror, and there is no reason to suspect that this time we are being told the truth.
Stephen Harper’s fiscal strategy is being undermined by an economic nightmare. This one isn’t coming out of the eurozone or the United States. No, this time it’s the prime minister’s own policies that are the nightmare.
True, Canada rode out the 2008 financial meltdown better than most. Our prime minister was quick to take credit for that, but the credit should have gone to the previous administration for rejecting the banking industry’s demands for deregulation. Ironically, had Harper’s party succeeded in persuading the government of the day to accede in the banks’ demands, he would have had a much rougher ride.
More than $2 million was donated to the Prime Minister’s two leadership bids, but the identities of his major backers have never been publicly disclosed.
(Koch!, Koch!…oops I meant cough!, cough!)
With a federal election looming, two pressing questions involving the role of money in Canadian politics are attracting surprisingly little media attention.
The first: who owns Stephen Harper?
This isn’t a philosophical enquiry. It’s a straightforward question about the identity of the secret donors who paid the bill for Harper’s rise to power, first as leader of the Canadian Alliance and then the Conservative party.
Donors contributed more than $2 million to the prime minister’s two leadership bids, but the identities of some of the major donors have never been publicly disclosed, according to Ottawa-based corporate responsibility advocacy group Democracy Watch.
CRUEL AND UNUSUAL
Globe and Mail – Ottawa spends $1.3-million fighting sick moms’ EI disability benefits lawsuit
The federal government has spent more than $1.3-million in legal fees to prevent new mothers who fell seriously ill while on maternity leave from collecting disability benefits in addition to the employment insurance that is paid to new parents.
A class action lawsuit was launched in Federal Court in 2012 by two Calgary women on behalf of an estimated tens of thousands of new mothers who were denied the EI disability benefits or dissuaded from applying for them. It is seeking more than $450-million in compensation.
Indian residential school survivors who attended an institution that used an electric chair to torture students are returning to court in another effort to force the federal government to release uncensored documents from the investigations and criminal trials of former school staff.
While expert after expert has identified high school graduation as the key to closing the employment gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, the quality of education on reserves still lags dramatically. After that visit to Toronto, Shannen wondered why one of the richest countries on Earth couldn’t find a way to educate all its kids equally.
Canada would have a fairer and more equitable employment insurance system today if it weren’t for the Conservative government’s new employment minister Pierre Poilievre, says former Liberal MP Marlene Jennings.
Jennings, who served in 2009 on a blue ribbon panel set up to look at Canada’s employment insurance system, says Poilievre deliberately obstructed the panel’s attempts to improve Canada’s employment insurance system from the very start – seemingly carrying out instructions from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I went in there with the real hope or desire that there was real opening on the part of the Harper government to actually affect real change on the employment insurance file and it became clear very, very early on that Pierre Poilievre was there with strict instructions that there wasn’t going to be any significant change,” Jennings recalled in an interview Wednesday with iPolitics.
In response to the delay in Fahmy’s release, Clooney wrote to Prime Minister Harper, complaining of the lack of Canada’s lacklustre engagement with the case. “Currently discussions are taking place at a lower-than-ministerial level on this case, which is not appropriate given the urgency of the matter today,” she writes in the letter, dated February 8.
Baird flew to Egypt last month and met with his Egyptian counterpart, while also pledging $20 million to support economic growth in Egypt.
“This is not just an insult to my brother,” says Adel Fahmey in the interview with As it Happens. “This is an insult to all Canadians.”
CBC News – Letting RCMP patrol Parliament Hill could raise constitutional issues
“Parliament is supposed to be independent of government, therefore the security forces are always under the supervision of the sergeant-at-arms. who is accountable to the speaker.”
Ultimately, he stressed, it is the Speaker’s office that is in charge of the precinct. “I think it’s symbolic of how the government treats this place,” he added. “This government wants to control everything.”
Globe and Mail – New Victims of Communism memorial in Ottawa a looming disaster
Now, all of Ottawa is talking about another looming disaster – a memorial to the Victims of Communism that is about to take over a parcel of land between the Supreme Court of Canada and the National Library, a small park-like oasis along Wellington Street where, this past week, there were only squirrel tracks to be found in the fresh-fallen snow.
That land is said to be worth $1-million. For nearly a century it had been earmarked as the site of a new federal court, but has now been handed over for the memorial, along with a pledge of $3-million to help pay for the $5-million project – the remainder to be raised by a charity group called Tribute to Liberty.
The Supreme Court has unanimously struck down Canada’s ban on doctor-assisted death, a practice opposed by the Conservative government. The court, of late, has repeatedly ruled against federal government arguments on a variety of issues.
More than 150 migrant construction workers are suing Ottawa, claiming they have been discriminated against under a program that invites them to work in Canada but welcomes only English-speaking candidates when it comes to letting them stay on permanently.
The workers from Italy, Portugal and Poland have been employed in Canada on work permits for at least two years. But under the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program, they must pass a language proficiency test to be considered for permanent resident status.
The Harper administration has just appointed Pierre Poilievre, the former Conservative minister for democratic reform, to minister of employment and social development.
Maclean’s magazine once described the controversial and fiercely partisan 35-year-old MP as “the baby face of Canadian conservatism.” For the past few years, he has pushed right-wing policies that echo those advocated by the American Koch brothers and the Tea Party movement they fund.
Minister Poilievre expressed his desire to implement anti-union “right to work” legislation in 2012, at the same time that U.S. states such as Wisconsin and Michigan passed legislation that undermined unions.
FEARING FEAR ITSELF
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed students at a Toronto private school via video link on Monday to warn about the perils of being complacent as the government makes sweeping changes to Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.
“I would say we should always be extraordinarily cautious when we see governments trying to set up a new secret police within their own countries,” Snowden said in a livestream feed from Russia. He made reference to Bill C-51, legislation tabled by the Conservative government days earlier.
CBC News – Peter MacKay’s friends, colleagues make up 6 of 9 judge appointees
A news site connected to the Broadbent Institute is raising questions about why six of the nine judges appointed to Nova Scotia courts since October 2013 have personal, professional or political connections to Justice Minister Peter MacKay.
When historians look back on Stephen Harper’s time in office, they won’t remember his fiscal management (shaky) or his record as a champion of democracy (laughable). He’ll be remembered as a serial loser at the Supreme Court — and a bad loser, at that.
TOO FUNNY, TOO TRUE (SATIRE ALERT!)
The Beaverton – Terrorists applaud anti-terror legislation for eroding much-hated freedom
Militant Islamic groups from around the world have applauded Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recently proposed anti-terror legislation for chipping away at the Western-democratic style of freedom they so vehemently hate.
“We are pleased to see that your Prime Minister has seemingly aligned himself with our ideal of degrading the ugly and sinful freedom in which his country’s citizens so decadently wallow,” said Yousef Muammar Al-Jafar of the terror cell, Righteous Blade, a fighting group associated with ISIS in Iraq.