iPolitics (Michael Harris) – Stephen Harper loves the smell of napalm in the morning
Going after the Ukrainian vote in Canada is one thing. But sending troops, even as trainers, into Ukraine’s “fratricidal” civil war and confronting Russia is quite another. If this thing goes sideways, he may wish he had sent diplomats instead of military advisors. Has anyone told the PM that these are not toy soldiers he is dispatching — by the hundreds no less — but flesh and blood human beings?
This is an old story. From his opposition days, this leader has exhibited a fatal instinct to take it to the parking lot. The itchy trigger finger initially showed up in the second Iraq War. Cooler heads in the Chretien government scuppered his ill-informed bellicosity. Canada refused to join President George W. Bush’s coalition of the misguided.
Globe and Mail – Lawrence Martin: It’s not just Duffy – the Harper era is on trial
If you wanted to go into detail, you could fill an entire page of news print with the ethical transgressions of this government that have undermined the democratic process.
A government with a hate-on for its workers doesn’t just go after those still employed; it also revels in undermining the security of its former workers: us retirees.
This year has seen the implementation of an additional roughly $500 payment for my healthcare plan. Despite protests from our retirees association and from the unions, the government effectively broke our contract and unilaterally imposed the extra charge.
If the Millienials need a wake up call to engage in the looming federal election, this prime minister is a walking alarm clock.
HARPER’S FAVOURITE THINGS…
India test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile Thursday, just hours after signing a deal to buy 3,000 tons of Canadian uranium.
While the terms of this week’s deal are not public, the nuclear cooperation agreement, first announced in 2010 and finalized in 2013, includes assurances that India use Canadian material for civilian purposes only.
“Canadian uranium can only be exported to facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The IAEA verifies that nuclear material is only used for strictly peaceful, non-explosive purposes,” Natural Resouces Alain Cacchione said in an email to CBC News.
But some nuclear proliferation experts say India has been able to make such a deal without abiding by the rules set out for most other countries that abide by the international non-proliferation regime. And they warn that countries the West has been attempting to bring into the rules-based system — such as Iran — will be less inclined to submit when they see the rules don’t apply to India.
It took six hours for the Coast Guard to build a containment boom around a toxic spill at a deep-water anchorage off English Bay and 13 hours before City authorities were notified. Now the City of Vancouver has advised residents to stay away from globs of toxicity washing up on shore and 3 oiled ducks are in a rescue care unit — with growing fears that all this foreshadows an approaching catastrophe.
Mayor Robertson said this morning that efforts to contain the spill failed.
“We don’t know if this is a long term hazard. Clearly it has spread further than originally reported,” he said, and the blame, he said, lies with gaps in the coordinated response by provincial and federal government.
Two years ago, the federal government pushed forward with their decision to close down the Coast Guard base at Kitsilano despite warnings from municipal and provincial officials that such a move could jeopardize public safety.
This week’s bunker fuel oil spill in English Bay incident proved that, beyond any doubt.
What is clear is that Ottawa’s so-called “world class” spill response is anything but.
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark boldly called out the federal Conservatives, calling their response unacceptable and saying the province would take over the primary response role if Ottawa can’t step up.
…RISKING LIVES TO SAVE MONEY
The Conservative government is slashing funding for all safety and security programs at Transport Canada, with a significant chunk coming out of safety oversight initiatives, planning documents show.
The amount of funding set to be clawed away varies between programs — the budget for transportation of dangerous goods is going down 32 per cent while the budget for aviation safety is dropping 9.2 per cent, for example — but all are seeing decreases, just as the wreckage of Air Canada Flight 624 was pulled off a runway in Halifax and the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic continues to rebuild.
Other programs dealing with cuts include marine safety (23 per cent), rail safety (4.3 per cent) and motor vehicle safety (8.8 per cent). All percentage differences were calculated using the department’s forecasted spending for 2014-15 and planned spending for 2015-16.
…THE DUFF…OH WAIT, MAYBE NOT ANYMORE
Harper appointed Duffy to the Senate in late 2008, despite the fact Duffy had lived in the Ottawa area for decades. Duffy was a well-known former TV broadcaster who went on to be featured prominently at Conservative events and in promotional materials.Later, when questions began to be raised in the media about how much time he spent in P.E.I., Harper defended Duffy’s eligibility both publicly and behind the scenes.
Toronto Star – Difficulty recruiting military psychiatrists blamed on too-low pay scale
New documents show the Canadian military found recruiting new psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers an uphill battle because the government’s top pay scale wasn’t high enough in some parts of the country.
…IGNORING ABORIGINAL RIGHTS
In January, the federal government tabled Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. The bill has generated widespread uncertainty and concern. It fails to safeguard the dignity, human rights and security of indigenous peoples and individuals. It is inconsistent with good governance.
Ottawa is searching for a new prison ombudsman after refusing to extend the contract for the current Correctional Investigator for Canada beyond one year.
Howard Sapers, who has held the position for eleven years and been a vocal critic of the Harper government’s treatment of mentally ill and Aboriginal inmates, as well as the use of solitary confinement, was recently told he would remain on the job only until a replacement was found.
(Another Harper law struck down in court)
In a ruling that sets back the Harper government’s tough-on-crime agenda, the top court has agreed with an earlier decision labelling the law cruel and unusual punishment.
The government refuses to acknowledge what many legal experts say is the fundamental problem. Eager to send a strong message that it wouldn’t tolerate corrupt suppliers, Ottawa put in place an excessively rigid and sweeping regime – rules that, on paper, are tougher than in most other developed countries.
Inexplicably, the government somehow failed to anticipate that many of its leading suppliers would be caught in its policy dragnet.
On April 8st, Finance Minister Joe Oliver stood up before the Economic Club in Toronto and delivered what can only be described as one of the greatest “fantasy economics” speeches in decades.
It was a message from a parallel universe — one in which the Harper government delivered ‘sound economic management’ through the recession (it didn’t), the economy recovered its pre-recession growth pattern (it hasn’t) and Ottawa is delivering tax relief for the average Canadian household (it isn’t). Stranger still, it’s a parallel universe where Pierre Trudeau is still around, haunting us.
In his speech, Oliver somehow contrived to blame Justin Trudeau for the alleged fiscal sins committed by his father during Trudeau Senior’s decade in power.
AlJazeera – What happened when Canada stopped counting its numbers
When a major Western country stops counting its numbers, bad things can happen.
In June 2010, the Canadian government unveiled a grand experiment in data collection. In the name of privacy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper ended the mandatory long-form census for the country and swapped it out with a voluntary survey.
Five years later, there is a mass scramble to make sense of a rapidly changing country. Despite an explosion of corporate data-mining in most nations, researchers interested in tracking poverty, immigration and public health in Canada know less and less about the country as time progresses. They’re not, for example, entirely sure if income inequality is accelerating, stagnant or closing. Across the nation there is a loud, collective uneasiness among them.
Former budget watchdog Kevin Page says a Conservative move to force future governments to keep balanced budgets is a “political” move that isn’t necessary.
“Do we need the legislation? We didn’t need the legislation from the mid-1990s to 2007-2008, when we had 11 years of surpluses,” Page told Power & Politics host Evan Solomon Wednesday evening.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the government will likely post a small deficit in 2014-15 but has promised a balanced budget on Tuesday for the new fiscal year, just months before a scheduled Oct. 19 election.
But the PBO says a combination of billions of dollars in new family tax cuts, lower oil prices and reduction of EI premiums in 2017 will effectively gobble up what was, according to the government just last fall, expected to be more than $30 billion worth of total surpluses over the next five years.