Monday, June 30, 2014

Mark Adler: From Belle of the Ball to Do Not Call

As Conservatives prepared for the 2011 election, they began targeting ridings with large Jewish populations, that they felt they could steal away from the Liberals.

Stephen Harper was already portrayed, and not always in a positive light, as the most staunch supporter of Israel; so to build on that, they had to select candidates with the same commitment.

In the Toronto riding of York Centre, that candidate was Mark Adler, who had at least one friend in a high place, Nathan Jacobson; who was somewhat of a kingmaker for the Harper Conservatives. A described "philanthropist" Jacobson had all of the right connections, both in Canada and Israel.

Jacobson hosted a number of Canadian-Israeli receptions on Parliament Hill, and said that people from the Prime Minister's Office attended, as well as Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird ... A photograph has circulated in the media of Jacobson standing between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Harper ...

Jacobson also said that he had introduced Kenney to top-level politicians in Israel. "Jason and I have spent a little time in Israel on several occasions when he's been there. And I've hosted dinners in Israel with senior government people. I, in fact, took Jason to meet Netanyahu his first time, meeting Netanyahu and other people within the security and political environment within Israel."

Mark Adler had met Nathan Jacobson when he was trying to secure Israeli speakers for his Economics Club of Canada. According to Jacobson he loaned Adler $140,000 to expand into the U.S., which he failed to pay back. As a result, Jacobson was suing him. Stephen Harper had to know of the lawsuit, as his then Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright told Adler to settle it.

But soon a scandal would break that would prove to be more of an embarrassment for the Conservatives. Seems their bridge to the vote rich Jewish community might collapse, when it was discovered that Jacobson was wanted in the United States on a charge of money laundering.

Harper, Kenney and Baird claimed not to know of his criminal past, which begs the question: why is there no screening of people getting this close to the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet?

A Bizarre Election Campaign

Mark Adler would go on to defeat the incumbent, hockey legend Ken Dryden. However, what made the campaign bizarre, was the issue of who was the biggest supporter of a foreign country.

York Centre has a large Jewish population and a key issue, Dryden told CBC News, is the two parties' positions on Israel.
Standing outside Kiva's Bagels on Steeles Avenue, Howard Cohen is one such voter. He said Conservative Stephen Harper's consistent backing of Israel has won him over to the Conservative camp. "We need all the friends we can get and he's the leading supporter of Israel in the western world," said Cohen.

Voters like Cohen have not forgotten Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's labelling of an Israeli military action in Lebanon as a war crime back in 2006, and he said Dryden could end up paying the price. "He's on the wrong side this time," Cohen said.
Ironically, key players in both the war in Lebanon and attacks on Gaza, are being investigated by the Israeli courts.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the current justice minister, are among the high-level figures accused of breaking the laws of war when they launched attacks on Lebanon in 2006, and on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09.

The allegations have been levelled by Marwan Dalal, the only Israeli lawyer to have served as a senior prosecutor in one of the international criminal courts at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Dalal, who spent three years as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, belongs to Israel's Palestinian minority, which comprises a fifth of the country's population. He said he had based his petition to the court on "strong factual and legal findings" from public sources, including the reports of Israeli official inquiries.

His evidence includes statements from senior Israeli officials in which they appear to implicate themselves in actions - including killing, collective punishment and attacks on civilian infrastructure - not justified by military necessity. Such acts are breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as Israeli law.
I hardly think that Dalal is anti-Israel. He just knows that if they don't address this issue themselves, the International Criminal Court will take over.

So apparently Michael Ignatieff was on the right side of this issue after all.

Robocall Scandal and Republican Canvassers

Mark Adler may have been the Belle of the Ball after his stunning victory, but the glow would soon fade from his tiara, when it was discovered that his riding was one being investigated in the Robocall election fraud scandal.

He was also one of the Conservative candidates who used the Republican Front Porch Strategies to canvas for him, but failed to mention that on his Elections Canada financial report. Would that invoice have put him over his legally allowable limit? He spent more than $94,000.

In Hot Water Again

Adler would continue to play off the Israel connection to ensure his political fortune, especially given the bad press he'd received after the election.

When Stephen Harper visited Israel for the first time in January of this year, Adler was heard on tape begging to have his picture taken with him at the sacred Western Wall.

A month later, he barred Liberal MP and human rights activist, Irwin Cotler, from an Israel charity event.
Global News reported last week that Adler told Cotler – a well-known human rights activist – he was not welcome at the event on Jan.19. Rabbis said they heard about the incident and were upset that Cotler was not invited to attend – one even calling it senseless hatred.

Senseless hatred indeed. Nothing new for the Harper clan though, as they also tried to ban Michael Ignatieff from attending a Hanukkah ceremony at a school for disabled children.

But aside from the gaffes, Adler's integrity is again put into question, with a pending and controversial fundraiser that he will be hosting.

He settled the lawsuit with Nathan Jacobson, by agreeing to pay $114,962, hence the need for the fundraiser.

However, this has now become an issue for the ethics commissioner.

The Conservatives themselves, questioned how NDP Pat Martin was going to pay a $100,000 settlement, and according to Martin: “It’s wrong to use subsidized public dollars for personal private use,” he said. “I’ve got tons of money in my riding association coffers and they can’t spend a single nickel to help me with my legal problems or the debt from my lawsuit"

Donations made are tax receipted meaning that 75% of the donations would be made by us, and it's pretty clear that this fundraiser is being conducted by the riding association. Says Steve Maher:
Mark Adler’s brother, Paul, is the treasurer of the York Centre Conservative Association. Martin Rosenbaum, who handled Adler’s defence in the Jacobson lawsuit, is a former president of the association. The invitation to the fundraiser is headlined: Fundraiser in support of Mark Adler.

The “confirmed guests” at the event are Industry Minister Christian Paradis, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, Senator Linda Frum and parliamentary secretary Pierre Poilievre. Shelly Glover withdrew on Wednesday. Her office said she has events in her riding to attend.
Glover wouldn't want to remind the public of her own lobbyist invited fundraiser. It's important to note that this is not the first time that Adler has been in trouble over fundraisers.

How much does he think he can get away with?

Hopefully, by 2015, the voters of York Centre will have had enough of Mark Adler. I know I have.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Stephen Harper's National Energy Program May Do More Damage Than OPEC

" I witnessed first-hand the movement of an economy from historic boom to deep recession in a matter of months. A radical, interventionist blueprint of economic nationalism, the NEP caused the oil industry to flee, businesses to close and the real estate market to crash. The lives of honest, hard-working Albertans were upended and I came to know many of those who lost their jobs and homes." (Looking Back at Trudeau, Stephen Harper, National Post, October 5, 2000)

By 2000, Harper had left the Reform Party, and was running the National Citizens Coalition, a right-wing, anti-liberal non-profit; created initially to end public healthcare; but grew to include a fight against unions and a fight for the ability of corporations to fund politicians and political parties.

I don't know if Stephen Harper really believed that the National Energy Program caused the devastation he describes, or he was simply reviving an old wedge issue, while attempting to rewrite history.

Admittedly, the NEP was not popular in Alberta, but its cancellation by Mulroney, was the cause of most of their woes.
Oscar Wilde wrote that there are only two tragedies: one is not getting what one wants; the other is getting it. In the fall of 1985, the latter tragedy befell Alberta's oil industry. The OPEC cartel failed to agree upon a world oil price. The result was a global free-for-all among producing nations. Canada's oil and gas producers were caught in the middle. Having recently gained freedom from the NEP, Canada's oil and gas industry was not protected as the price of oil dropped from US $27 per barrel ... to $8 per barrel by August 1986. ... Forty-five thousand oil workers lost their jobs." (Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison, University of Toronto Press, 1995, ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6 3, p. 97)
In fact, most in the industry liked Trudeau's program because it allowed further exploration on public land. What they opposed was the proposed closing of tax loopholes by then Liberal finance minister, Allan MacEachen.

However, they couldn't campaign against that to attack the Trudeau government, so instead sold it as Ottawa aggression toward the West, and Ted Byfield, an early Reform Party organizer, kept the campaign alive. Wrote Harrison: "In the months and years that followed, Byfield's Alberta Report continued to mythologize the intent and the impact of the NEP", giving the Reformers their battle cry, "The West wants in".

Harper's National Energy Program

Since coming to power in 2006, the new and improved Reform Party, now calling themselves the Conservative Party of Canada, has done everything they could to deny that Climate Change exists, or that the Alberta Oilsands has anything to do with it, if it does.

That stance has made Canada a symbol around the world, of what Climate Change denial looks like, though it has increased Harper's creds with the diminishing Denial crew.

In the CPC's latest campaign, they suggest that the toxic bitumen coming out of the Oilsands is actually good for us. No more harmful than cooking a steak on a barbecue. Heck maybe we could bottle it and sell it as a sauce.

Economically, we've been turned into a Petro State with our fortunes dependant on how well the industry is doing.

Yet, according to the International Monetary Fund for every dollar in growth from oil, 82 cents goes to Alberta, with Ontario seeing just 4 cents. Yet the entire country has subsidized the Oilsands to the tune of 34 billion dollars.

Harper has also increased Alberta's federal transfer, while decreasing Ontario's and is moving the National Energy Board to Calgary, creating jobs in a province already apparently experiencing a labour shortage.

Will All of This Largesse Really Help Alberta?

The Harper government recently tried to bury a report, warning of the economic and health risks of the Alberta tarsands. Just another attempt at denying Climate Change exists, that has included muzzling scientists and ending tax breaks for environmental groups.

In the debate over the pipelines, we are told that without them Canada’s economic recovery would suffer serious damage. Says Russ Blinch in the Huffington Post: Prime Minister Harper says he won't lift a finger to help the environment because he's working too hard to protect jobs. In fact he is imperiling our future by blocking innovation in order to support a fading industry: fossil fuels.

The World Bank says that tackling climate change would grow economies, not hinder growth or recovery.

And while John Baird is putting pressure on the U.S. To approve the XL pipeline, a former Canadian ambassador claims that there is a very good chance that they won't be needed. Obama is now allowing American crude to be exported, which might also bring the price of oil down.

The Northern Gateway that would send the tar to China for refinery, is also not looking too promising. China is moving away from oil and switching to natural gas, which they are getting from Russia. Looks like Putin is laying claim to the Asian market with his own pipelines. So much for sanctions, as he's also moving away from the U.S. dollar.

So will Harper's National Energy Program cause the oil industry to flee, businesses to close and the real estate market to crash? Will it upend the lives of honest, hard-working Albertans, many of whom will lose their jobs and homes?

Jeffrey Rubin Former Chief Economist with CIBC World Markets asks Are Harper's dreams of Canada as energy superpower going up in smoke?
In the last decade, his Conservative government has done everything but roll out the red carpet for the energy sector. Whether it's multi-million dollar advertising campaigns in the United States, gold-plated junkets to foreign energy markets, or muzzling opposition from domestic environmentalists, never before have we seen Ottawa shill so unabashedly for a single industry ... Unfortunately for Canadians, it’s becoming clear that despite the Prime Minister’s best attempts at economic intervention, their government is playing a losing hand.
If Harper's Reform Party used the revisionist history of the impact of Trudeau's energy policies, with a tagline "The West Wants In", maybe the next election ours should be:


But that won't happen until Harper is out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It Was Wrong When Ronald Reagan Did it and Just as Wrong For Stephen Harper

In, albeit not their sleaziest act, the Harper government blanketed the Ontario federal riding of Scarborough-Agincourt with flyers, aimed at the Liberals, for the upcoming bi-election.

Not unusual during an election campaign.

What made these flyers beyond the pale, was their content. Hoping to tap into the abundant immigrant community for votes, they suggest that Justin Trudeau will encourage their children to smoke pot, by making it available in stores.

Says Joan Bryden for the Canadian Press:
In fact, Trudeau argues that legalizing, regulating and taxing pot would help keep it out of the hands of children and starve organized crime of its lucrative marijuana trade.
This is not the first time that Stephen Harper has tried to exploit new Canadians with misleading information.

In 2005, he began attending multi-cultural events denouncing same-sex marriage, telling the crowds that the Liberals were going to force their churches to perform the ceremonies. A lie, but it didn't matter. He was recruiting for his base.

Ronald Reagan and the War on Drugs

Richard Nixon was actually the first to coin the term 'war on drugs', but by the early 1980s, it became as potent as the war on taxes is today. For politicians, you either became a soldier battling drugs, or you were a pusher trying to corrupt children. There was no middle ground.

Ronald Reagan, who had always taken a divide and conquer approach to politics, saw this war as one he could win. Not the actual drug war, but the war against liberalism.

Most conservatives blamed drugs, in particular marijuana, for the conceived ills of modern society. Says Dan Baum in his book: Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure
Conservative parents' groups opposed to marijuana had helped to ignite the Reagan Revolution. Marijuana symbolized the weakness and permissiveness of a liberal society; it was held responsible for the slovenly appearance of teenagers and their lack of motivation. Carlton Turner, Reagan's first drug czar, believed that marijuana use was inextricably linked to "the present young-adult generation's involvement in anti-military, anti-nuclear power, anti-big business, anti-authority demonstrations." A public-health approach to drug control was replaced by an emphasis on law enforcement. Drug abuse was no longer considered a form of illness; all drug use was deemed immoral, and punishing drug offenders was thought to be more important than getting them off drugs.
Politicians began calling for tougher sentences for drug users and abusers, with Newt Gingrich going so far as to draft a bill that demanded a ' life sentence or the death penalty for anyone caught bringing more than two ounces of marijuana into the United States.' (Baum)

So Harper's new Gingrich style crime bills, that include mandatory minimums for Marijuana growers, are not about putting youth on the straight and narrow, but pandering to his anti-liberal base.

But will it work? This is not the 1980s and attitudes toward pot have changed. Those "slovenly teenagers" are now adults, who grew up in an atmosphere of "reefer madness" hysteria, and know that it was more hyperbole than sound judgement.

Cigarette smoking is more harmful to your health than marijuana, and alcoholism just as damaging to families as drug addiction.

Also important to note is that half of the deaths caused by drug overdose, were from prescription medicines, and today's youth are increasingly turning to 'legal' drugs to get high. So will there be a war on big-pharma?

The Conservatives may shoot themselves in the foot with this newest ammunition in their arsenal, but who knows? We've witnessed some of the most bizarre attacks on their opponents and reason itself, yet they're still standing.

Pandering to core supporters with nonsense, while discouraging reasonable Canadians from engaging in politics, is not without it's merits.

When it comes to legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana, let's hope that good sense prevails.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Harper Government's Eight Years of Standing Up For Canada

I came across the Conservative Party of Canada's 2006 election platform: Standing Up For Canada. Stephen Harper is the first and only leader of this Party that was formed in 2003.

In the introduction, he outlines the CPC's priorities with a list of promises. Let's see how many he kept and how many had a positive impact on our lives.

1. Clean Up Government
Cleaning up government has become the rallying cry of many politicians and political parties, but few, if any, actually clean up anything. We all know that power can corrupt and the temptation of riches or personal "influence" can be seductive.

The list of Conservative scandals is long but what's interesting, is that even while they were flogging this platform, they were engaged in activity that would result in one of their most serious scandals, before their first term was up. The In and Out.

In the last days of the campaign, when an advertising blitz usually occurs, the CPC war room realized that they had already spent the allowable limit. So they came up with a scheme that would allow them to lay out more.

They tapped into candidates who had not reached their own spending caps, transferred large sums of money to their bank accounts, and then immediately took it out to use on national ad buys.

The media focused on the CPC going over their cap, but what they should have focused on, was who paid for it. We did. Individual candidates could claim the amount as their own expense, meaning that they would get 75% of it back, in the form of a rebate from Elections Canada.

$777,000 of the scheme was paid for by the Canadian public.

One Quebec candidate only raised about $1,500.00 and spent a bit less than that, yet received a rebate of almost $15,000.00

The Conservatives dragged this through court, adding to our financial burden, and eventually plead guilty; settling for a much smaller penalty than the actual proceeds from the scam.

In other words, they got away with it.

2. Implement Fixed Election Dates
In 2008, Stephen Harper broke his own fixed election date, dropping the writ a year early to shut down committees, investigating the "In and Out". The Opposition parties thought they had more time for candidate selection, while the CPC had already secretly put all of their candidates in place.

There is some talk that they may do this again, calling for an election perhaps in the Spring.

3. Cut the GST
They did keep their promise on this one, but unfortunately, it was the wrong promise to keep, and most economists agree. We have lost an enormous amount of revenue that could have been put toward healthcare, which is now on life support; infrastructure, etc.

4. Help Parents With Childcare
This one was added to their platform because we were finally going to get a National daycare plan and the Conservatives knew that it was something that most Canadians wanted. Instead they implemented the $100.00 per month Universal Tax Credit which only covers children under six and is taxable.

They created not one single daycare spot, despite also promising 100,000.

5. Cut Patient Wait Time For Medical Procedure
Another empty promise. According to The Canadian Wait Time Alliance's 2014 report card:
For the past two years the Wait Time Alliance (WTA) has reported a worrisome trend of little to no progress in reducing wait times for a range of necessary medical procedures in Canada.
They note that some provinces are making progress, with Ontario leading in the initiative, but clearly the Harper government has not kept its promise.

6. Crack Down on Crime
This promise was for their base, who see a bogeyman around every corner. However, Canada's crime rate was already at the lowest it's ever been and this government's new crime bills will cost Canadians billions of dollars.

7. Strengthen National Unity
The government's latest decision to go ahead with the Northern Gateway Pipeline, will create additional civil unrest, that has come to define our country in the past eight years. The unnecessary attack against a legal Coalition, arbitrary proroguing of Parliament when debates threaten the government and the enormous human rights violations during the G20 in Toronto, will be part of Stephen Harper's legacy.

8. Advance Our Interests on the World Stage
Canada's international reputation has taken a nose dive since Harper came to power in 2006.

Standing up for Canada? Really? I think I'd prefer it if they just sat down

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sequel to Canada's Good Banks or Terminator 2: Judgement day

Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame, has just released the draft text of a secret, fifty country deal, to deregulate the banking industry. Dubbed the Trade in Services Agreement or TISA, the scheme would also allow the global sharing of our personal financial information.

It is said to be a push back against regulations imposed after the 2008 financial meltdown, when the public was forced to bail out the banks. If allowed to go through, it would set us up for a repeat performance.

Apparently Canada is one of the signatories.

This is not surprising.

Stephen Harper has always supported bank deregulation and often chided the Liberal government for being too cautious. We now know that it's a good thing they were. As Trish Hennessey says in her piece: The Quiet Erosion of Canada’s Regulation System:
Canada’s economy was shel­tered from the worst of the 2008 global economic meltdown because our bank regulations are tougher than they are in competing jurisdictions like the U.S. Fol­lowing our own high standards paid off, and protected Canadians from the eco­nomic devastation that brought entire nations such as Iceland and the U.S. to the brink of ruin.

Yet our federal government continues to quietly deregulate Canada. Our own Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is warn­ing against strong regulatory practices. In a speech to the G20 in January 2010, Harper warned other nations against ‘ex­cessive’ financial regulations — a coun­terintuitive message, given strong regulations saved Canadians from the economic devastation our American counterparts are experiencing today.
And while there was a belief that made headlines, not only here but around the world, that Canada's banks did not require a bailout, many of us knew differently.

Finally, CBC revealed four years after the fact, that the Canadian public bailed out our banks for at least 114 billion dollars. This should have been a 2011 election issue, but few Canadians knew of it, primarily because our media has allowed the Harper government to write their own narrative.

Lending credence to Wikileaks report, as early as 2008, Ellen Gould revealed that the Harper government was pushing deregulation, not only in Canada, but everywhere.
On the international stage, Canada is a major proponent of financial liberalization.

At the WTO, Canada heads a group of delegations pressing developing countries to open their economies to the supposedly superior services of foreign financial institutions. The world's major financial conglomerates are claimed to have sophisticated risk management capabilities that can stabilize economies. You might think these days such a claim would not pass the laugh test, but that did not stop financial liberalization from being pushed at the WTO ministerial meeting held in July 2008.

The enormity of what's at stake in the WTO financial sector negotiations is revealed in a February 2006 bargaining request sent from Canada's Department of Finance to developing countries. Canada asked that foreign financial institutions be guaranteed rights to "establish new and acquire existing companies" in all financial sectors. This would mean among other things that countries would have to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of their banks and insurance companies

... While successive Canadian governments have been strong advocates of financial liberalization, the unfolding financial crisis might have suggested now is the time to show a little caution and back off these WTO negotiating demands. Yet a WTO submission from Canada dated Dec. 5, 2007, berates other WTO members for their lack of "ambition" in the financial services negotiations. On behalf of the co-sponsors of the submission, Canada claimed: "further liberalization of financial services will help promote economic growth and improved standards of living for all WTO Members…"

It makes one wonder. just how bad would things have to get before the Harper government realizes further liberalizing the world's financial markets is not such a great idea?
Whether a great idea or not, it makes the existence of TISA not only possible, but probable.

This is something we should all be concerned about.

I mentioned before that I attended a luncheon where Canada's former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Keven Page, was the speaker.

Something he said still haunts me. When asked about Canada's economic outlook, he quipped that "from an airplane 40,000 feet above, our books look good."

It would appear that Harper is ready to throw us all out of that plane without a parachute.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Clearly Liberalism is Not Dead Though Conservatism May be On Life Support

When Stephen Harper was with the Reformers, promoting an American style conservative movement, he mocked Canada's historic Conservative Party, because they boasted to be descended from Sir John A. MacDonald. "So what!" he said.

Recently the Harper government conducted a poll to determine the top ten Canadians who inspired us. From top to bottom:

1. Pierre Trudeau
2. Terry Fox
3. Tommy Douglas
4. Lester B. Pearson
5. Chris Hadfield
6. David Suzuki
7. Sir. John A. MacDonald
8. Wayne Gretzky
9. Jack Layton
10. Romeo Dallaire

What first struck me about the list was that no women were included.

What about Agnes McPhail, the first female MP and her work on prison reform? The Famous Five who fought and won the right for women to become "persons", not chattel? Louise Arbour who became the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights? The list goes on.

Most who made the cut are self explanatory, since they contributed a great deal to building Canada as a nation, and strengthened our international reputation.

Jack Layton was a puzzle though. He enjoyed some political success but I can't think of anything he did that would stand the test of time.

He joined Stephen Harper in fighting against the Kyoto accord and even campaigned against the carbon tax, claiming that it would hurt families, despite the fact that it was revenue neutral.

Elizabeth May recounted her experience with Layton and his political move.
I remember phoning Jack Layton to beg him not to bring down the government on the opening day of the climate conference. I had known and liked Jack since he was on Toronto City Council. He had been enormously helpful, volunteering as an auctioneer in local Sierra Club events. He told me when he ran for leader of the NDP that he was only seeking a role in federal politics to deal with the climate crisis. I had believed him. As he threatened to sabotage the most important global climate negotiations in history, I recall leaving a message on his cellphone: "How will you look at yourself in the mirror if you do this?"

... It is only with hindsight that I have come to believe that the climate negotiations were not merely collateral damage to the incidental timing of November 2 8. I now believe that Harper and Layton had a shared desire to pull the plug before the Martin government had a chance to look good on the world stage. I think it is extremely likely, given the way Layton downplayed the climate threat in 2006, that a conscious decision was made by NDP strategists. They had to make sure the key issue remained Liberal corruption for the NDP to avoid losing votes to the Liberals.
(Losing Confidence: Power, Politics, and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy, By Elizabeth May, McClelland & Stewart, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7710-5760-1, Pg. 2-7)
A similar strategy backfired in the recent Ontario election.

I liked Jack Layton but he was not at the heart NDP, at least not in the Tommy Douglas tradition. He spent the most on travel, he exploited subsidized housing" and a study conducted by McMaster University, revealed that he was the nastiest MP.

I can think of many others more deserving, but there is a bigger issue with the list.

What does this say to Stephen Harper?

Our heroes fought for a Just Society, gave us National Healthcare, Peacekeepers, fight for the Environment and the plight of the downtrodden. Except for MacDonald, none were Conservative, though our first prime minister was nothing like our current, as Harper himself reminded us.

Clearly, Canada has not moved to the right, as some suggest. We cherish everything that Stephen Harper fights against.

It's also interesting as we watch American politics, in the days of the Tea Party, that they actually share the same values.

NBC recently conducted a poll asking who was the best President in the past 25 years. Bill Clinton was number one and Barack Obama number two.

As an interesting coincidence, the son of Canada's first choice will be running for Prime Minister in 2014, while the wife of America's first choice, may be running for President in 2016.

Harper conducted the poll in preparation for our 150th anniversary in 2017. We just have to make sure that the poll is his only involvement in the process.

How can we expect someone who wants to destroy everything our inspirations built, speak for our country?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

With or Without Permission Debauchery is Still Debauchery

Debauchery usually has a sexual connotation, but can also be used to describe any overindulgence.  Political debauchery is quickly making its way into our vernacular, as we witness overindulgence in campaign spending, attack ads and ugly divisive rhetoric.

Whether we're watching the impassioned faces of the Tea Partiers in the United States, or listening to the often senseless barbs tossed about in the House of Commons, we can see that these pleasure seekers have found their vice.

Not that there's anything wrong with political passion.  That kind of passion not only fuelled the Civil Rights Movement, the Woman's Rights Movement, implemented child labour laws,et al, but has been responsible for our very democracy.

Political engagement, not war, has created our modern civilization.

But just as debauchery can destroy lives, political debauchery can destroy nations.

The New Drug of Choice - Hyerpartisanship.

I don't think anyone could argue that our politics has become ugly and getting worse.

When someone from one side of the room in the Commons, accuses someone on the other side of something, you rarely get an explanation. Instead they pull out a piece of paper with some quote from a newspaper "proving" that the accuser had once engaged in similar behavior.

Political debate is being reduced to "I know I am, but what are you?"

Recently we have learned that the NDP is being charged with the mishandling of public funds, when they peppered ridings about to hold bi-elections, with Party campaign ads, using their Parliamentary envelopes and letterhead. They also took advantage of free postage, which is only permitted, or at least is supposed to be only permitted, to send notices to constituents.

They have been told that they will have to repay 1.17 million, the amount deemed to be the cost of the inappropriate use of public money.

Instead of paying up, apologizing, and promising not to do it again, they have decided to fight the decision, even if it means delaying summer break.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair claims that the decision was made in a "Kangaroo Court" and that the other parties are guilty of the same crime.

He's right.

It's hard to look at this "ten percenter", sent out by the Conservatives, and not see it as partisan campaigning.

However, the other parties being wrong too is not a defense, it's an excuse.

The abuse of mailing privileges hit a peak in 2009, when it was determined that MPs had spent ten million dollars on what mostly amounted to Party PR. The Conservatives were the biggest spenders at twice what the combined opposition spent, most echoing their campaigns. "Not a leader", "Just visiting", always with a poll asking who was on the right track?

The practice has become less frequent, mainly due to public outrage, but I still receive nonsense suggesting that Justin Trudeau is in over his head or Thomas Mulcair wants to raise taxes.

Mulcair also claims that he received permission for the mailings from the Speaker of the House, who denies he ever approved them.

It does seem highly unlikely, that if the NDP asked if it would be okay to spend more than a million dollars of public money to campaign for upcoming bi-elections, that the Speaker would have said "sure".

So this is not about Kangaroo Courts or secretive House of Commons committees; it's about elected officials, who have become so hyper-partisan, that they see it as OK to use our money to guarantee their Party's political success.

The word debauchery comes from the French word debauchee, which means to “entice from work or duty.” It's pretty clear that duties are being neglected when the lure of oneupmanship and beating the system, take precedence over doing what they were elected to do.

No one campaigns on abusing tax dollars and I doubt they would win if they did.

So How Do We Clean Up This Mess?

Politicians are not the only ones guilty of being hooked on partisan porn. Debates on Twitter and Facebook, some healthy and some not so healthy, often become about defending your own Party's wrong doing, while pointing out the wrong doings of others.

In the last Ontario provincial election, NDP leader Andrea Horvath, constantly referred to the Liberals as "corrupt", claiming that only she could clean up government.

A ridiculous statement. At one time or another, most, if not all, governments, have had at least one member, who bends or breaks the rules.

To really clean up government, we need to clean up politicians who look for ways to abuse the trust we place in them.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Why I Promoted the Ontario Liberals. A Personal Story

Kathleen Wynne's incredible victory last night was a shock to some and an inspiration to others.

For Andrea Horvath, who triggered the election by turning down a budget practically written for the NDP, it was a tough blow that could still cost her the leadership of her Party.

For Tim Hudak it was the end of the road, as he stepped down.

Both Horvath and Hudak ran controversial campaigns.  Horvath tried to capture conservative voters with right wing talking points, which only angered her base.  Hudak ran on an American right wing style platform, with a Million Jobs Plan that was wrought with errors, putting his candidates in the difficult position of trying to explain the unexplainable.

Wynne was hammered constantly about the gas plant scandal, and was forced to wear a label of corruption, bestowed on her by her competition.  I've learned that these kind of campaigns only turn off the electorate, already weary of divisive politics.

It also might have hurt the NDP who hammered the "corruption" message, while their federal counterparts were found guilty of using public funds for party electioneering.

The fact that Wynne could overcome the assault, is a testimony to her leadership skills.  She will now have four years to prove herself, unfettered by the threat of another election.

My Personal Story

As many of you know, I have been living with Chronic Progressive MS, the operative word being "living".

I have also mentioned several times, that my husband and I are raising a disabled grandson.

Nicholas was born 12 1/2 years ago, to our adopted daughter, who was still at home.  Because she is also disabled, the CAS was involved, recognizing that she was unable to care for her son alone.  Initially we acted in a supervisory capacity, until the demands of motherhood proved too much for and she became a threat not only to her son, but to us.

Nicholas was born with Coffin-Lowry Syndrome, a rare neuromuscular disorder that affects 1 in about 50,000.  It is genetic, which is the only reason I mentioned that my daughter was adopted.

Because both of her birth parents were alcoholics, she was originally diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  However, when Nicholas was born with similar characteristics, we knew that it had to be something more.  We were referred to a geneticist and the diagnosis was made.

While only the mother carries the gene, male heirs are usually burdened with the worst of the symptoms.  Nicholas is deaf, non-verbal, and cognitively scores at about two to three years old.  He is also incontinent with compromised and degenerative mobility.  His life expectancy is about 18-33, though we're optimistic.

Females often suffer from mental illness and in fact, his mother is now in a communal apartment building run by our local mental health unit.

When we first agreed to kinship foster Nicholas, we had no idea the challenges imposed on family members; usually grandparents, who are only trying to keep these children out of foster care.

This is not like many States in the U.S., where children receive the same benefits as other foster children. Instead Nicholas was thrown into an Orwellian welfare system, where routing out "cheats" was more important than the welfare of a child.

Mike Harris had gutted the system to pay for his misguided tax cuts, and many people suffered horribly. It has been gradually improving under the Liberals, especially in the attitudes of staff, but is still sorely lacking.

We currently receive benefits of $253.00 per month. That doesn't even cover his diapers, especially since he now uses men's Tena; three to four packages a week costing about $400.00 monthly. Easter Seals reimburses us $75.00 a month.

My husband had already retired but had to go back to work three days a week, which only reduced Nicholas's Child Tax Credit, so we couldn't win.

We applied to Assistance For Children With Severe Disabilities, and after a two year wait, finally received help with things like hearing aids and mobility devices. But more importantly, it helped to pay for a part-time Disability Support Worker, who took Nicholas out for a couple of hours after school, two nights a week, and Sunday afternoons. It was only ten hours a week, but it helped.

Then as my husband once again looked to retirement, we knew we had to re-examine our finances. He had a small RRSP that he'd bought several years ago and forgot about. We still had a year left on our mortgage, so knowing that cashing this in would not have much affect on his overall retirement annuity, he cashed it in and cleared the mortgage.

Unfortunately, this skewed our actual earnings total, and since ACSD is income based, we were cut off. Without these funds, for the first time we were faced with the real possibility of not being able to continue to care for Nicholas. Ours was the only home he'd ever known and the thought of him having to go to strangers was devastating.

I appealed our case, but the process is slow and tedious. The stress exaserbated my MS and my own health began to deteriorate. We were at a tipping point.

Then one day I took a chance and emailed the Minister of Youth and Child Services, Teresa Piruzza. At the risk of sounding cliche, what happened next was nothing short of a miracle.

Within days I was contacted by the director of our local ACSD office, to say that she was doing an internal review, and would make it her personal mission to see that Nicholas received the help he needed. Two weeks later our funding was reinstated along with three months retroactive, which allowed us to send him to day camp.

We were put in touch with an agency that provided funds to help us rebuild our high wooden fence so that Nicholas could play in the yard, and another that now provides us with one weekend a month respite.

That is what a minister is supposed to do and I will forever be in her debt.

I have spent more than a decade advocating for both my daughter and her son, writing letters to politicians of all stripes. Only the Liberal Party ever responded, even when they weren't in power.

Other parties should take note of that.

Nicholas is such a bright light in our lives. He is happy and funny and compassionate. He enjoys the love and support of an extended family, as well as a community that has embraced him. He is in an amazing school, Welborne Avenue Public, with teachers and EAs who recognize and develop his passion for life and fierce determination to accomplish things once thought beyond his capabilities.

That's why I voted Liberal and am thrilled that Kathleen Wynne pulled off a majority, beating all odds.

In the final days of the campaign I may have turned into a partisan she-devil, but I'd do it again.

I'd have too much to lose if I didn't.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tim Hudak, the GOP and Voter Suppression

I posted recently about an Ontario conservative scheme to suppress the vote in the upcoming provincial election.

A Party calling themselves None of the Above could be traced back to Mike Harris.

Recently it was also discovered that several Ontario households received letters from the PC Party with incorrect information, that would have sent them to the wrong polling stations.

We also learn of yet another group Decline the Vote, urging young people not to get involved in the election.  Again, it is run by conservative strategists.  From Reddit:
After seeing so much buzz around this "initiative", I took a look at the website promoting it and soliciting donations. The contact page lists Paul Synnott of Windsor. Turns out he worked for Campaign Research before forming his own company Polisource. Their profile says, "a New Media Solutions company focusing on conservative Canadian Politics at the Municipal, Provincial and Federal levels.
Because of spending limits, they promote the idea that they are not held to any restrictions.

Under the cloud of the Robo Call trials, the conservative movement continues to use suppression techniques to steal elections by keeping those who won't vote for them away.

Since Mike Harris and Stephen Harper went to the Far Right in the U.S. for their political strategies, tricks have replaced sensible debate and fair political strategy, in too many Canadian elections.

Vote suppression tactics now define the GOP, and are quickly coming to define our conservative politicians.  They know they can't win us over with their policies so instead they cheat.  Very sad.

Monday, June 9, 2014

None of the Above and Latinos for Reform

During the 2010 U.S. mid-term election campaign, a group of "discontents" emerged, calling themselves Latinos for Reform.  

President Obama had secured most of the Latino vote in 2008, so the group's message was that Obama had let them down.  Given the Republican's anti-immigration policies, LFR knew that voting GOP was not an option, so instead they encouraged Latino voters not to cast a ballot for anyone.

It turned out to be a scam

The founder of this group, Robert de Posada, was the Republican National Committee's director of Hispanic affairs and worked for the Bush administration and a group founded by Tea Party leader Dick Armey.

We learn this week that in the run up to the Ontario election, a group of "discontents" has emerged. Calling themselves the None of the Above, encouraging those weary of the top three, to choose them instead, thereby nullifying their ballot.

It is run by Greg Vezina, a political activist.
A longtime supporter of Mike Harris who he knew from his home town, in 1989 Greg worked to change the Party Constitution from a delegated convention to a one person one vote process. This change was key to Mike Harris winning the Leadership in 1990.
So what is really behind this? Did Mike Harris have a little chat with his home town buddy, knowing that Tim Hudak could be in trouble? Is that why Vezina is putting up Green Party signs to help split the vote?

Remember, Hudak visited the American far-right to help draft his platform, including Tea Party and Heritage Foundation members. The late Paul Weyrich who helped Stephen Harper get elected in 2006, by promising not to reveal his ties to the group, once said:
“Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now."
There are three rules in the Neoconservative Handbook on running elections:

1. If you think you can't win - Cheat!

2. If you only have a good chance of winning - Cheat!

3. Ah, hell! Just CHEAT!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

So Why Does Tim Hudak Want to Kill the Ontario College of Trades?

Every Ontario Conservative is singing from the same Hymnal. "Close the Ontario College of Trades, close the Ontario College of Trades .... Hallelujah, Hallelujah."

Seemed strange to me because before they starting singing about it, I'd never heard anyone wanting to make this an election issue.

I've been following Canada's Neoconservative movement long enough to know when something is up. And it didn't take long to discover what it was.

The driving force behind this, is a group calling themselves Stop the Trades Tax. Anytime a "grassroots" movement opposes some kind of tax, you can be sure that they are short on grass but long on roots, and those roots usually lead back to a lobbyist and an industry or corporation.

Stop the Trades Tax was the brainchild of Karen Renkema, former Vice-President of Council of Ontario Construction Associations. In 2007, it was announced that Renkema would be leaving that job and going to Queens Park to act as a lobbyist for one of their members.

Renkema is now also the Chair of a group Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance, which some believe is simply a proxy for the construction industry.

According to Jeff Koller
[Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance] call for reduced journeyperson to apprentice ratios (where have we heard that before?) and oppose any new compulsory trade certification, saying that those things kill jobs and inhibit economic growth.
Koller disagrees, but you can see where Hudak got his talking points.

We know from Randy Hillier's "leaked email" that the PCs were going after the construction industry for funds, on a promise to allow them to hire non-union workers. And what better way to lure campaign funds, than the commitment to cancel a program that is impeding the industry's ability to increase their profit margin, and eliminate competition from smaller firms.

And Renkema is clear.  She will not compromise, and even the hint of a mere review, has her steaming mad. In fact, in most of their press releases, they bash the Ontario Liberals for allowing The Ontario Trades College to exist.

Now you can't google Stop the Trades Tax without generating a myriad of PC MPPs and candidates signing a pledge to get rid of it. (Yes those dreaded pledges)

I wanted to find out what actual trades people thought of this and found on a Carpenter's union website, a list of reasons why the Ontario College of Trades was important:
Consumer Protection: Consumers will have access to a membership registry that will display the member’s standing with the college to inform their decision to hire skilled trades people. Consumers will also be able to voice complaints to the [OCOT]

Self-Governance: Skilled trades practitioners in Ontario deserve the same respect as teachers, doctors and nurses in this province. All of these professions have a regulatory college and trades people deserve the same respect for their industry.

For the first time in North America, apprenticeship ratios will be determined by members of the skilled trades. This ensures that the skilled trades industry is able to respond to market demands while ensuring a safe working environment for apprentices and journeypeople.

Promoting Skilled Trades to Youth: The College has a mandate to promote the skilled trades to youth. Attracting youth is essential to have a thriving skilled trades industry in Ontario.

Cracking Down on the Underground Economy: Enforcement officers from the college will be fining trades people practicing a compulsory trade without the appropriate license. These efforts protect consumers from inferior and unsafe work and protect members of the college from illegal competition.

Worker’s Health and Safety: The College will ensure that all members, apprentices and journeypeople, have the proper training and support to practice their trades
And says Unifor national president Jerry Dias, Hudak is misleading the public about the Ontario College of Trades.
“The College of Trades is good for the trades. The decisions affecting the skilled trades are being made by the trades for the trades, and not by politicians like Tim Hudak,” he said.

“It’s about time the Conservatives quit bashing the college and rather embraced the structure and worked with all the stakeholders to make it a successful body.”
I'm at a bit of an advantage because I know how to speak Neocon.

Cutting red tape - deregulation leaving consumers and citizens vulnerable

Eliminating bureaucracy - Handing decisions over to lobbyists.

Trim the fat - cut public services for we the public

Choice - Privatization

Hudak promised transparency and he's delivered it. We can see right through him.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beware of Those Bearing Pledges. They Might Just Have to Honour Them

Men should pledge themselves to nothing; for reflection makes a liar of their resolution.  Sophocles

Pledges are nothing new for politicians.  Some are broad in scope, like FDR's pledge to a New Deal for Americans, or President Obama's pledge to not raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

In 1994, Newt Gingrich's Contract With America, while mostly a treatise on "family values" laced with anti-government claptrap, helped the GOP win the primaries.  It was a pledge.

What a lot of Canadians are no doubt unaware of, is that Stephen Harper's Reform Party helped to draft the Contract.  It's author, Republican pollster Frank Luntz, had been working with  Harper and the gang since 1991, and in fact it was Luntz who told Harper to use hockey terms whenever he could to lure us into a state of complacency.

What really sold Americans on The Contract, was the "folksy" way that it was delivered; and the fact that it was revealed just days before the election, there was little time for anyone to give it a thorough analysis.

During this week's Ontario leadership debate, Conservative Tim Hudak, "pledged" that if he couldn't balance the budget in two years, or create one million jobs in eight years, he would resign.

He delivered this pledge with the same "folksy" sincerity as Newt Gingrich did his,  and again near the end of the campaign.  Will it be enough to fool voters?

We know that Hudak visited America's Far Right to help draft his platform, at a time when the Tea Party was calling for a renewal of The Contract.

Most of the opposition to Hudak's pledge appears to be in the reality of his being able to honour it.  I worry that he will.

Not that it might boost his credibility, but of what it could cost Ontario.

In 1995, Conservative MP Jason Kenney, then head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation; criss-crossed the country promoting his anti-tax philosophy.   As part of his tour, he met up with Mike
Harris who signed a pledge not to raise taxes if elected.  Harris also pledged to balance the budget.

To keep the first promise, while lowering taxes for our
wealthiest citizens, Harris implemented and increased user fees, and downloaded many services to municipalities, resulting in property tax increases for most residents.

To keep the second, in a desperate eleventh hour move, he sold a toll highway, giving away a century of needed revenue

In the final week of the campaign, all parties will flood the
airways with ads, further confusing the electorate.  Maybe all they will remember is the goofy grin and the "pledge".

Despite the fact that such contracts would not be legally binding in Canada,  we might still be on the hoof for the settlement.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

And They Wonder Why More Women Don't Get Into Politics

In an interview in 2012, Hilary Clinton was asked “Which designers do you prefer?” Her response was brilliant: "Would you ever ask a man that question?”

Says journalist Mary Elizabeth Williams:
That terse exchange over her wardrobe ... exemplifies everything that endears Clinton to her supporters – and everything that exasperates so many of us about the current state of womanhood. You can be the secretary of state, even a former presidential contender, and it still comes down to how you look.
Last night during TVO's coverage of the Ontario Election Debate, panelist Robin Sears criticized the suit that Premier Kathleen Wynne was wearing. With so many important issues facing Ontario today, how is that relevant?

Kathleen Wynne is an accomplished woman. Openly Gay and the first female Premier of Ontario. She is inspiring. Maybe I won't go to her for fashion tips, nor should I.

She went into the debate, with a handicap, having to bear the full brunt of the gas plant scandal. It's worth mentioning that Tim Hudak ran in 2011 on a promise to close the gas plants and when asked about the cost, he said a billion dollars.

And as to repeated accusations of corruption by Andrea Horvath, given that the NDP brand has taken a hit recently with the Nova Scotia scandal and partisan mail outs, she's hardly in a position to label anyone.

These kinds of attacks only turn people away from the polls, further eroding our fragile democracy.

Last night Tim Hudak graced us with his colloquial family stories, but we're not voting for his family. He did offer a bit of comic relief however, when he revealed how he acquired his "math skills".

As I've said before, I am getting tired of junk politics. Had Kathleen Wynne showed up wearing a halter and a mini skirt we might have questioned her sanity, but she wore a suit. It hardly makes her incompetent.

What if We Voted Based on the Size of a Man's Penis?

Just as the interviewer was wrong to ask who designed Hilary's wardrobe, Sears was wrong to critique Wynne's clothing during an important POLITICAL DEBATE.

Many question why more women don't enter the political arena. Do they really need to wonder, when our adversaries capitalize on our vulnerabilities?

During the 1997 federal election campaign, while heading up the National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper spent $ 200,000.00 on attack ads that ran on radio stations, coinciding with print ads and massive billboard visuals, in what he dubbed "Operation Pork Chop".

In Edmonton, where Liberal candidates Judy Bethel and Anne McLellan were running for re-election, he ran a newspaper ad featuring two pigs drinking champagne, while frolicking in a trough filled with cash. The pig's heads were replaced by those of the two women, and the caption read "On June 2, Chop the Pork. Re-electing these two MPs will cost you 1.7 million."

The ads worked, and though McLellan did squeak out a victory, Bethel was pummelled and never returned to politics.

Use of unflattering or trivializing animal terms is a common rhetorical ploy, especially when referring to women, and no doubt Harper knew that portraying Bethel and McLellan as pigs, would tap into female insecurities about weight.

Recently, during a question and answer session at the PC convention in London, a delegate told Hudak he calls Horwath the "Great Pumpkin" because her party's colour is orange and he thinks she "put on a little bit of weight."

Hudak did nothing to address this.

According to Michael Wiederman of Columbia University; "In Western culture women's bodies are objectified more so than men's, and other writers have noted the multiple ways that such objectification may negatively impact women's lives."

Not only are women's insecurities about body image exploited, but also their perceived frailties.

When Randy Hillier, the Conservative incumbent for the riding of Lanark - Frontenac - Lennox and Addington, was with the controversial Ontario Landowners Association, he launched a campaign against restrictions on hunting, especially when the animals are trespassing on your property.

So he sent a picture of a bullet ridden deer to Ontario Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky, stating “The attached pictures are the direct consequence of government injustice, and when individuals no longer fear the tyranny of legislated abuse and intimidation. In keeping with tradition, all nuisance animals are consecutively named, enclosed are pictures of ‘Leona'".

This was clearly an issue for the National Resources Minister, but the Natural Resources Minister was a man. Hillier banked on Dombrowsky's shock and aversion.

What if the NCC or any political opponent, ran an attack ad on a male candidate, with his image holding a bottle of Viagra, and the caption "Does this man suffer from Electoral Dysfunction?"

Or "Not only does he suffer from jock itch, but has too much space in his jock".

I'm not always so indelicate but last night made me angry.

When politics are reduced to this level, it insults us all.

I thought all candidates were dressed appropriately, but I just don't give a damn.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tim Hudak Wants to be Like Mitch Daniels. No Wonder. He's Another Mike Harris

Indiana- Louise Cohoon was at home when her 80-year-old mother called in a panic from Terre Haute: The $97 monthly Medicaid payment she relied on to supplement her $600-a-month income had been cut without warning by a private company that had taken over the state's welfare system. (1)
Hold that thought.

The Globe and Mail has recently revealed that after losing the last election, Tim Hudak visited members of the American far-right to help prepare his current platform.

We already knew that his mathematically challenged Million Jobs plan, was created with the help of Republican Benjamin Zycher, king of offensive Tea Party rants, like:
“Now, let me be blunt: Michelle Obama, the product of lifelong affirmative-action coddling, is an intellectual lightweight who fancies herself a serious thinker. Just read her Princeton senior thesis, an intermittently coherent stream-of-consciousness pile of leftist jargon, campus pseudo-seriousness, and racial-identity babble. Can there be any doubt that the Princeton administrators accepted it only because of her skin color?”(The National Review, August 17, 2009)
“And so I have a question for my legal-beagle colleagues: Are whites not entitled to equivalent treatment under the 14th Amendment? If so, does that mean that education about the history of slavery would become illegal, as it would depict whites negatively? Would it be illegal to point out that most modern-day terrorist acts are perpetrated by Muslims? Anything about black crime, illegal immigration by Hispanics, ad infinitum? Can air brushing of photos be far behind?”(National Review, April 24, 2006)
That's why the Tea Party loves him, but why Tim Hudak? Because he is with the American Enterprise Institute, and that's always been enough for Canada's Neoconservatives, but more on that later.

Tim Hudak claims that he wants to model Ontario after Indiana under former governor, Mitch Daniels, the man who supposedly saved his state from rack and ruin.

Before he arrived, Indiana had a deficit and after he left, a surplus. Sounds good, right? That's what was said about Mike Harris, except that he only left us with more debt and a 5.6 billion deficit. The only reason Harris looked good on paper was because of increased U.S. exports as a result of NAFTA and a devalued Canadian dollar.

To help balance the books, Mitch Daniels leased the Indiana toll road through 2081, which meant a short term gain but seventy-five years of lost revenue.

Mike Harris leased Ontario's toll road for 100 years, and it sickens me when I think of the money Ontarians have lost. But like Daniels, Harris needed to balance the books before an upcoming election, and a huge lump sum payment did just that.

According to the Washington Post:
“I think that it’s going to turn out to be a bit of smoke and mirrors for Indiana over the longer haul. I feel like he’s been very skilled at selling Hoosiers -- and quite frankly the country -- a bill of goods, and it’s really disappointing,” said Betty Cockrum, the president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Indiana who clashed with Daniels in 2011 after he signed a law cutting off public funds to the organization because it provides abortions.

Cockrum, who ran the state budget for former Democratic Gov. Frank O’Bannon, said Daniels relied on tricks to make the state’s books look good just like any other governor, but he rarely gets called on it because of his national reputation.
And as it turned out she was right. Daniels lost track of $556 million in tax money, borrowed $2 billion to shore up Indiana's bankrupt unemployment insurance fund and took billions in federal relief money, while denouncing the practice. He also left many of his key projects unfunded.

But the rich got richer and his friends a bit friendlier. Further to the story of the 80-year-old woman who lost her Medicaid:
Cohoon's mother, now suffering from Alzheimer's disease, was one of thousands of Indiana residents who abruptly and erroneously lost their welfare, Medicaid or food stamp benefits after Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels privatized the state's public assistance program — the result of an efficiency plan that went awry from the very beginning, the state now admits.

Though the $1.37-billion project proved disastrous for many of the state's poor, elderly and disabled, it was a financial bonanza for a handful of firms with ties to Daniels and his political allies, which landed state contracts worth millions.

Harris also made a complete mess of things when his government tried to privatize many aspects of our welfare system. It ended up costing taxpayers 4 to 1, what it would have cost had they just left well enough alone.

Hudak wants to privatize Ontario's public service, with the same goal in mind. More money in the pockets of those already having trouble keeping their pants up.

If It's Good Enough For Stephen Harper

In the Globe abd Mail article, they list the people and institutions that Hudak visited during his Tea Party romp, most with affilation to the Harper government.

Grover Norquist - Jason Kenney headed up the Canadian Taxpayers Fedeartion, the Canadian spin-off of Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.

Cato Institute - Part of the network of think tanks that helped to define the Reform movement and boost the fortunes of Stephen Harper.

Heritage Foundation - Worked with Stephen Harper and the National Citizens Coalition. The late Paul Weyrich, when he headed up the HF, helped Stephen Harper in 2006, by instructing the American Right not to talk to Canadian reporters, for fear they would scare off Canadian voters.

David Frum - Not only a former speechwriter of George W. Bush, but was activly involved with the Unite the Right campaign's hostile takeover of Canada's legitimate Progressive Conservatives. He also introduced Stephen Harper to Rupert Murdoch, enabling him to bring his version of Fox News to Canada. His sister, Linda, is one of Harper's senators.

American Enterprise Institute - has also placed members in the Harper Government, including Alykhan Velshi .

So as Canadians sleepwalk toward the next federal election, no doubt unaware of just how much the American far-right has taken over our country, Ontarians need to lead way.

Mike Harris allowed them to write his Common Sense Revolution and now Hudak has allowed them to write his Million Jobs Plan. We need to say enough is enough. The Tea Party in the United States is slowly losing momentum. We have to stop ours before it destroys us, in the same way that they have destroyed politics in the United States.

Oh and by the way, Mitch Daniels' job creation plan? Wrought with mathematical errors and mostly just made up stuff.


1.Indiana a Changed State After Mitch Daliel's 8 Years, Washington Post, January 2, 2013

2. Indiana's bumpy road to privatization,Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2011