Harper Watch – August 23 to September 6, 2015






ipolitics – Two dozen secret cabinet decisions hidden from Parliament, Canadians

(What the hell has he signed us up for now? This is truly frightening)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has made more than two dozen secret cabinet decisions, hiding any trace of them from Parliament and Canadians, iPolitics has learned.

A review by iPolitics of more than 21,000 orders-in-council published on the Privy Council’s website since 2004 found that 25 OICs adopted by the Harper government are missing. Only three OICs adopted by the previous Liberal government between 2004 and 2005 aren’t in the database.

Eight orders-in-council issued since last September are missing.

Privy Council officials confirm that the missing OICs are not published, saying they deal with areas such as national security, defence or commercially sensitive information.


Toronto Star – Bad timing: how Canada’s prime minister walked into his own electoral trap

Canada is a genuinely multicultural nation. It’s almost as if Harper wants to win, but only with the votes of people he can stand. However, even those people worry about soaring house prices, lousy interest rates on savings, traffic jams from neglected infrastructure and unemployed children. Canadians are sick of this feeling of rot, this economic precariousness.

Toronto Star – It’s official: Canada’s in a recession and Conservative policies won’t fix it: Editorial

This pointless debate over recession or not-recession should not be allowed to obscure the basic reality lived by most Canadians – that the economy is weak and more of the same from the Conservatives isn’t likely to fix it. This election is essentially about choosing the best alternative to that failed strategy.

Even before Statistics Canada confirmed that the economy had shrunk during the first six months of this year, the Harper government’s track record on growth over the past decade (an average 1.7 per cent per year) was the worst of any government in decades. This isn’t all the government’s fault; the entire developed world has been stuck in low-growth mode for years. But its boast that Canada’s economy is the “envy of the world” looks increasingly hollow; in reality, it is underperforming on key measures that matter most to people, such as creating good, well-paying jobs. Far from leading the pack, Canada ranks in the middle of G7 countries on that score.

ipolitics – Michael Harris: The King of Mean: Harper’s reign of fear continues

It’s not Steve’s fault. It never is. The latest example is duplicity on the PM’s security costs. One answer to Parliament, another to an ATIP request, as brilliantly documented by Elizabeth Thompson of iPolitics. The PMO’s answer: ask the RCMP, not us.

I have it on good authority that Turner, an expert in the highly controversial field of bird migrations, was also recently caught smiling at his desk. There are even nasty rumours circulating that he laughed at the Great Navigator during a clandestine lunch with other seditious critics of the government.

Singing, smiling, laughing? What’s next? Voting against Steve?

ipolitics – Michael Harris: Duffy trial takeaway: The PMO as rogue operation

The most recent evidence of Harper’s unrestrained overreach oozed out of the Duffy trial. Only a leader with a sense of narcissistic exceptionalism could send a senior PMO staffer (and now campaign worker), to engage in a conversation with a sworn witness during a recess at a criminal trial. After all, Harper and his own office are smack in the middle of this evidentiary mud bath. What’s next, a visit to the judge’s chambers?

Sending Nick Koolsbergen to court was not a gaffe. It was not like confusing an Atlantic and Pacific salmon for PR purposes during a political campaign. Whatever its species, this fish stinks from the head. The Globe and Mail described Koolsbergen Does Court with the image of firemen dragging more kindling to the blaze. Nice.

National Observer – Harper’s war with the law

One single email among several hundred entered into evidence at the Duffy trial throws glaring Klieg lights onto the dynamics inside the PMO. It reveals Stephen Harper’s inbred contempt for the rule of law, his own legal advisors, and even the Canadian constitution itself. And it sheds more light on the PM’s disgraceful head-butting last summer of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

Brent Rathgeber – Recession: It Only Matters Politically

By any objective standard, the Canadian economy is under-performing. The government can twist itself into a pretzel explaining that 80% of the economy is functioning but that is irrelevant if the 20% that’s not functioning accounts for shrinkage in economic growth. That’s like saying a  patient is healthy if 80% of his organs are working; if the brain is one of the non-functioning organs, the patient has a problem!

Globe and Mail – At the Duffy trial, the firemen just keeping bringing more kindling

It is unacceptable and unfathomable that a member of the Prime Minister’s Office was seen talking to a sworn witness during a recess at the trial of Mike Duffy in Ottawa this week.

Unacceptable, because Nick Koolsbergen, the director of issues management in the PMO who is currently on leave to work on the Conservative election effort, was allegedly speaking to a witness under oath in a trial that has been politically damaging for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. The perception of irregularity is overwhelming.


CBC News – RCMP database on missing persons is overdue, over budget

An RCMP database on missing persons and unidentified remains, touted by the Harper government in 2010 as “concrete action” for the problem of murdered and missing indigenous women, is still incomplete and far over budget five years after it was announced.

The national database, plagued by technical problems, won’t be fully in place until late 2016 – more than three years after it was supposed to be helping police across Canada solve crimes.

National Observer – Harper’s rosy financial outlook ignores facts

(This is beyond slimy)

Harper has been rewarding senior government bureaucrats in a number of ministries large bonuses – up to 20 per cent of their annual salary – for under-spending their budgets.

Each year government ministries and departments are publicly given a certain amount of money, but that is only a cover story. During the year, much of that money is simply never spent, because these “lapsed funds” are withheld from programs and services Canadian citizens by cost-cutting (and well-rewarded) senior bureaucrats, and then sent back to government coffers.

These reductions are not part of the official government Deficit Reduction Action Plan or DRAP. They are a “stealth campaign” that takes place behind the scenes, out of sight of the House of Commons and the general public.

Huffington Post – Canada To Get More Aggressive Collecting Student Loans, Documents Show

(Meanwhile they cut resources to the CRA department that investigates illegal offshore tax shelters)

The head of one of the country’s largest post-secondary student associations said the documents suggest the federal government appears more interested in image control than dealing with the issue of student debt.

“We’re seeing a government that is more concerned about the public image that comes with these numbers rather than the reality that perhaps these numbers are indicative of a pretty big crisis that needs immediate address,” said Bilan Arte, national chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students.

National Observer – Onion Lake Cree Nation file for UN action against Canada

The Onion Lake Cree Nation has became the first Indigenous group in Canada to file for emergency action from the United Nations concerning the controversial First Nations Financial Transparency Act.

Chief Okimaw Wallace Fox sent a plea to the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination(CERD) on Tuesday asking for international supervision as his community engages the Government of Canada on what he calls a “continued violation of treaty rights.”

“There was never any discussion between our Nations and the Conservative Government,” he said of the bill in his letter to the president of CERD. “The Minister of Indian Affairs is imposing this legislation on First Nations even though its constitutionality is in question before the courts.”


HUFFINGTON POST – Munir Sheikh, Ex-StatsCan Head, Says Harper’s Debt Policies Risk Canada’s Future

“Could it be that our zeal in balancing our government books come hell or high water may be contributing to the buildup of household debt and risking our future economic prospects, as well as the present?” Sheikh asks in his column.

630 CHED Radio – Alberta farmers furious with feds over closure of agriculture archives

The federal government is closing down the Lethbridge Agriculture Canada research station and cataloging some information, but destroying recycling, destroying and getting rid of the info they don’t deem useful.

Farmers in the province are furious at the move. Tony Jaglum, a cattle and grain farmer in Mirror, wonders what information will be kept and what will be destroyed.

“It is very concerning,” explains Jaglum. “Who is deciding what we keep and what will be thrown away? Who is deciding what has value and what should be recycled. I am delighted some things are being digitized but what is happening with the stuff that isn’t digitized.”

CBC NEWS – Document raises questions about Harper retirement policies

Canada scores poorly among developed countries in providing public pensions to seniors, according to an internal analysis of retirement income by the federal government.

And voluntary tax-free savings accounts or TFSAs, introduced by the Harper Conservatives in 2009, are so far unproven as a retirement solution and are largely geared to the wealthy.

Those are some highlights of a broad review of Canada’s retirement income system ordered by the Privy Council Office and completed in March this year by the Finance Department, with input from several other departments.


The Tyee – ‘You Have Forgotten’: Seven Conservative Attacks on Canada’s Veterans

Last year retired general Rick Hillier, the former head of the Canadian Military, spoke about high rates of suicide and mental anguish among Canadian soldiers returning home:

“I do not think we had any idea the scale and scope of what the impact would be. I truly do not. This is beyond a medical issue. I think many of our young men and women have lost confidence in our country to support them.”

And why would they not, given the callousness of the Harper government? In the past decade Conservatives closed offices, cut 900 jobs, clawed back benefits, killed lifetime pensions for Afghanistan veterans, and failed to spend $1.13 billion of the Veterans Affairs budget but found money to increase advertising and ceremonies for politicians to honour veterans.

Here are seven ways the Harper government has waged war on its own veterans.


National Observer – Re-open criminal investigation and question Harper, says policing expert

The evidence that has come from Perrin indicates expanded avenues that warrant re-investigation of Senators Tkachuk, Stewart-Olsen, Gerstein and LeBreton. I think they would all have to be re-interviewed based on that testimony.

I would be further investigating Wright, Novak and the others in the PMO for breach of trust, possibly perjury and whatever other charges I found appropriate in the Criminal Code. I’d bring them all back in for interviews to investigate further.

The prime minister needs to be interviewed at this point, too, given Perrin’s evidence.

CBC News – Chris Woodcock, ex-PMO aide, says he didn’t know Wright repaid Duffy’s expenses

Mike Duffy’s lawyer battled it out in court today with a former senior staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office over his insistence that he never a read a line in an email from Nigel Wright that said he had personally repaid the senator’s expenses.

The claim by Chris Woodcock, a former director of issues management, was similar to one recently made by Stephen Harper’s campaign team. They said Ray Novak, Harper’s current chief of staff, also never read an email sent to him by Wright on March 22, 2013, saying he had paid for Duffy.

“Your claim is just like Ray Novak’s,” Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne said. “‘Gee, I got the email. It’s only to me. But golly I never read it.'”

Nick Koolsbergen, PMO Issues Management Director, Seen Chatting With Woodcock

OTTAWA — What to make of a senior member of Stephen Harper’s staff chatting with a witness in the courtroom corridors of the politically charged trial of Mike Duffy?

The Conservative campaign said Wednesday it couldn’t speculate on what current director of issues management Nick Koolsbergen was saying to his predecessor Chris Woodcock, who was in the midst of testimony in the Ontario Court of Justice.



Globe and Mail -‘Harperman’ singer investigated for alleged conflict of interest

An Environment Canada scientist is under investigation for allegedly breaching the public service code of ethics by writing and performing a political song that criticizes the Harper government.

Tony Turner, a physical scientist who most recently was working on a study of migratory birds, has been put on administrative leave with pay over allegations that his participation in his song Harperman puts him in a conflict of interest, the union representing him said.

The Beaverton – Thousands of public servants test positive for opinions

OTTAWA — According to a report by the Conservative government, over 12,000 federal public servants have tested positive for opinions.

All civil servants must be tested for all forms of viewpoints every month and at random times to ensure no political bias interferes with their work.

“We are rigorously investigating all of these employees,” said Minister of Employment Pierre Poilievre, Chairperson of the House of Commons Committee on un-Canadian activities. “Canadians are threatened by public servants under the influence of dangerous critical thought and rationalism. We must drive these radical thinkers out of Ottawa!”


The Guardian – Canada’s prime minister wants to make it harder for people to vote against him

Acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood faced censorship in the national press late last week for her satirical take on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hair. It might have been a rather amusing episode if it wasn’t symptomatic of darker, Orwellian trends that have marked Harper’s nine years in office.

Stephen Marche’s article in the New York Times mid-month does an excellent job of summarizing how Harper has pulled tight the reins of power, stifled criticism and eroded the freedoms of Canadians. But it is in the prime minister’s assaults on the most fundamental of democratic acts, a citizen’s right to vote, that Harper’s lust for control finds its most disturbing outlet.

ipolitics – Finance minister ‘missing in action’ as Canada officially in recession

Statistics Canada released data on Tuesday showing the country is in a recession but Finance Minister Joe Oliver is nowhere to be found on the issue.

Canada’s economy shrank 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2015, at an annualized decline of 0.5 per cent, after a 0.2 per cent contraction in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of negative growth mark a recession.

Globe and Mail – Our economic problems run deeper than brief dips in GDP

With Tuesday’s release of quarterly GDP data, Statistics Canada confirmed that Canada fell into recession in the first half of the year. Canada’s economy (adjusted for inflation) shrank slightly in the spring (for the second quarter in a row), hence meeting economists’ traditional definition of the dreaded “R”-word. It is likely to be short and shallow, a far cry from the global conflagration of 2008-09. But a recession it certainly is. Coming six years into a lacklustre recovery (the weakest since the Second World War), weary Canadians probably question whether the last recession ever really ended.

Ottawa Citizen – Only a handful of Conservative candidates agree to interview requests

Only 18 Conservatives seeking election across the country responded favourably to requests for interviews made by the Citizen to determine whether the party has truly clamped down on candidates’ availability to the media.

The Citizen emailed interview requests to 318 nominated candidates who are listed on the Conservative Party website.

Ten candidates declined the request outright while the vast majority — 84 per cent — did not respond in any way.

Toronto Star – Tory candidates told to avoid debates, media during campaign

Conservatives running in the federal election have been advised not to attend all-candidates’ meetings or speak to reporters during the campaign, a party source says.

A Conservative insider said Wednesday that most of Stephen Harper’s flag-bearers have “been told no debates and no media.”

The informal edict appears to affect Tory candidates across the country, which explains why so many press interviews are being rebuffed.

“They’re getting pulled out of everything,” the source said, noting even some experienced cabinet ministers are being instructed to avoid candidates’ forums before the Oct. 19 election.

Vice – If We Want to Ask Stephen Harper Questions, We Have to Give His Party $78,000

“Go write a story about it.”

That’s the advice I was given by Conservative communications apparatchik Kory Teneycke when I complained about their arbitrary limit on who gets to ask questions of Stephen Harper.

“It’s not arbitrary,” he told me.

Judge for yourself.


Globe and Mail (2009) – Expert contradicts Harper’s claim about Cadman tape

 (Let the lying and cheating begin!)

An expert opinion filed in court contradicts Stephen Harper’s claim that an author altered a taped interview with the Conservative Leader to unfairly characterize a financial offer to dying MP Chuck Cadman, a lawyer for the Liberal Party of Canada says.

The micro-cassette of the author’s interview with Mr. Harper was not altered, except for an over-recording starting at 1 minute 41 seconds, says the court-filed analysis by a former FBI sound expert retained by the Tories.

Toronto Star (2012) – All meetings with RCMP must be approved by Conservatives, documents show

OTTAWA—The federal Conservatives are directly exerting strict communications control over the RCMP and its new top cop, documents obtained by the Star reveal.

Public Safety documents released under Access to Information show that top political staff of Minister Vic Toews oversaw and approved the design of the new RCMP communications protocol that put the national police force on a tighter leash.

As the Star first reported, that protocol requires the RCMP to flag anything that might “garner national media attention” to Public Safety Canada.

New documents show that Toews’ office had a direct hand in crafting the policy, working with the RCMP’s new public affairs director — Daniel Lavoie — a former associate assistant deputy minister in Toews’ department.


About TheAlektera

I am a Canadian who, like many is upset at the state of our country under the Harper Regime. I do not wish to see Canada change into Harperland under the Harper Government. This blog will help document the actions of the Harper government which are eroding Canada's democratic process.
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One Response to Harper Watch – August 23 to September 6, 2015

  1. Pingback: Harper Watch – August 23 to September 6, 2015 | Nina's Soap Bubble Box

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