Sunday, October 31, 2010

Of Top 50 Tax Money Abusers, 47 Were Conservatives

Reports are circulating about this government's abuse of tax money, and one of them is of special interest to me.

These damn ten percenters.
A Chronicle Herald analysis of the expenses shows that 47 of the top 50 spenders on "ten percenters" in 2009-10 were Conservative MPs. Ten percenters
are political mail outs paid for by the House of Commons. The secretive all-party board of internal economy decided this spring to stop MPs from sending mailouts to other ridings.

The practice, which was mostly used by Conservative MPs, drew complaints from voters and opposition MPs because most of the mailings were aimed at attacking opposition MPs over such issues as the gun registry
Gordon O'Connor tried to defend this abuse by saying that his MPs used the program to get their political message out. "We were organized and what we tried to do was get the government message out into the ridings that we didn’t hold" ....

"The government message"?

I live in the Liberal riding of peter Milliken and I've received 13 of these so-called messages this year. They included one quoting Michael Ignatieff in 1991 saying that the government might have to raise taxes to fight the deficit. Another reminded me that Ignatieff once referred to himself as a Samurai Warrior. Several were reminders that ignatieff was "Just visiting".

And those not attacking the Liberal leader, included one promising that the Conservatives were committed to making our plane travel more comfortable (extra peanuts?) and that they were going to protect our cars from theft (clubs designed after John Baird's mouth?)

This was not government messaging, it was Conservative Party propaganda. Nothing more, nothing less. And we paid for it.

Stockwell Days Says That His Party Does Not Have the Legal Right to Govern

If anything defines our current government it's hypocrisy, so it's always fun to dig up old media stories, and make them eat their words.

Cowboys for Social Responsibility unearthed an old Globe and Mail where Stockwell Day suggested that running deficits should be made illegal.

He claims to be taking a page from Ralph Klein's play book, but Mike Harris did the same thing. That's why Jim Flaherty had to hide a six billion dollar deficit back in the day. Otherwise, I guess Mikey would have hauled him off to jail, where he could break bread with the homeless.

And before you claim that the recession made them do it, Canada was in a deficit long before the recession hit.

This government just likes to spend our money. They have turned it into an art form.

Images of Rally For Sanity Shows Americans are not Insane After All. Only the Republicans and Their Tea Party.

I didn't watch too much of the coverage yesterday. Been fighting an awful cold and slept most of the day. But I plan to hunker down this afternoon and watch what I can.

But the Los Angeles Times has captured some of the best images.

They are wonderful and uplifting.

It may not change the results of the mid-terms and maybe journalists will continue to be handcuffed and those riding bicycles threatening cities by "looking like the United Nations", but the rest of the world, after watching the antics of the Tea Parties for months, now understand that they only represent a small margin of Americans.

But they are the ones making all the noise and getting all the coverage.

This rally was such a good idea.

A bit of much needed comic relief.

So Much for Belt Tightening. Stephen Harper Goes on Wild Spending Spree.

While preaching austerity and telling the nation that we may no longer be able to afford basics like health care, Stephen Harper has joined 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous'.

His communications budget has risen 30% for state sanctioned propaganda.
Opposition parties blasted Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday over the soaring costs of his office and said the Conservatives' excuse — hiring extra communications staff — is actually part of the government's strategy to spread political "propaganda" to the nation.

The government was put on the defensive in the House of Commons in the wake of a Postmedia News report that revealed the annual cost of the prime minister's office had ballooned to nearly $10 million — a jump of 30 per cent over the past two years. The figures stem from the latest Public Accounts of Canada, which contain details on government expenditures.
And not one to travel light, he makes the most of every trip, racking up seven million in expenses.

He travelled to foreign destinations ranging from New Delhi to Copenhagen — 15 trips in one year. So just how much did it cost Canadian taxpayers to send Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his aides abroad?

Nearly $7 million in 2009-10, according to documents tabled in Parliament Thursday ... Harper's press secretary, Andrew MacDougall, said Thursday that the prime minister aims to get results when he travels abroad.

And yet he doesn't. The rest of the world hates us.

And this spending like a king doesn't stop at Harper. His entire caucus has cracked open the champagne, slid off the satin sheets and choked on a bit of cavier.
The Public Accounts of Canada also reveal taxpayers are footing a much higher bill for the entire Conservative cabinet, with its costs increasing by 16 per cent since 2007-08, when the books began recording the expenses of the prime minister and his ministers.

The dramatic hike in costs has come as the government embarks on an offensive to reduce the $56-billion deficit and Harper's ministers have continually pledged to tighten their own belts to help out. And yet the new figures contained in the Public Accounts show the trend at the very centre of the Tory government has been one of rising expenses.
We can no longer afford this government. It's that simple. Their culture of entitlement is outdoing even Brian Mulroney.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why do Minorities Work so Hard to Destroy Themselves?

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"With [Ronald] Reagan's outspoken opposition to the Civil Rights Act in 1964, Republican strategists knew that they would have to write off the black vote. But although 90 per cent of black voters cast their ballots for the democrats, only 30 percent of eligible black Americans voted. Republican ... strategist Paul Weyrich* stated "I don't want everyone to vote ... our leverage in the election quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down. We have no moral responsibility to turn out our opposition." (1)

And of course we know that Ronald Reagan won not only that, but the following election, in part because black voters decided to stay home. I'm sure we could get into a lot of reasons for that, including the Democrats failure to inspire, but the story here is that bigotry was used as an election strategy.

And so was religion. Paul Weyrich* was one of the founders of the American Moral Majority which eventually became a mass movement now called the Religious Right. And the Moral Majority had little to do with their definition of 'morality'. They were not founded to oppose the abortion case of Roe vs Wade, as many believe, but to oppose moves to end segregation.

Evangelicals withdrew from politics for most of the last century until the rise of the religious right in the late 70’s. This rise was not in response to Roe v Wade, as their organizers would have us believe but in response to a civil rights issue, namely the Supreme Court decision that ruled that institutions that practiced segregation would forfeit their tax exempt status. This decision led to the withdrawal of tax-exempt status for Bob Jones University, who among other things, did not admit Blacks, and when they did, had a policy against interracial dating. (2)

Weyrich and co-founder Jerry Falwell, found an ally in Reagan, so they mobilized their forces to help get him elected.

With the rise of the Tea Party and "wacky" Republicans becoming the norm, it's interesting reading commentary from across the United States. But one thing I've learned as many of the more extreme candidates trash the United Nations, is that their main concern is that they are just so darned "colourful". They wrap this up in ambiguity, but you don't have to be a scholar to know what they're saying.

I used to think that Harper's base opposed the UN because they impeded their agenda toward Israel and Armageddon. But I think only a few of the really hard core believe that. They just don't appreciate this "colourful" group trying to dictate to them, on issues like spanking, women's rights, aboriginal rights, etc.

And while they continue to blame Michael Ignatieff for our losing the security seat, they are actually pleased, because it now means we can legitimately oppose a UN, human rights agenda.

Stephen Harper and His Anti-Immigration Policies

Did you ever wonder why the Reform Party hierarchy, like Preston Manning and Stephen Harper did so little to silence what former Reform Party MP Jan Brown called the "rampant racism of the God Squad"?

And why they aligned themselves with anti-immigration groups like Paul Fromm's C-Far and Peter Brimelow's V-Dare? Both of these men spoke at Reform Party conferences and those of the ultra right-wing Northern Foundation, of which Stephen Harper was a member? (3)

It was because they knew it would inspire this rock solid "base" to vote and contribute funds. They were the party of the white man. And they did nothing to discourage this belief.

But then they realized that if they wanted to advance and become more appealing to the rest of the country, they could no longer bash the immigrant population, but would need to exploit them instead. And exploit them they did, finding the perfect wedge issue: same-sex marriage.

Party officials concluded that the six-percentage-point drop for the Liberals was probably made up of small-c ethnic supporters, and decided at that point to begin running controversial newspaper ads opposing gay marriage. "We're the only ones who win under that calculation" ... Aside from the advertisements, which ask readers "Where do you draw the line?" the party leader began actively making his case at multicultural events, like at a Sikh meeting in Toronto a week ago. According to a senior party organizer, Conservatives believe they have potentially tapped into a well-spring of insecurity among ethnic groups, some of whose members feel the Liberal bill will force their clergy to perform same-sex marriage. (not true)

.... Mr. Harper drew criticism not only from within his own party, but from some of the very people he had hoped to attract. "Mr. Harper is ignorant about immigration issues, and his statement reflects that ignorance," said Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a grassroots group with a membership in the hundreds. "What he's saying is that people can only be gay if they're white Anglo-Saxons." (4)

And even if that angered the gay community, they didn't care. They knew they could never count on the gay vote. This is why they do little to silence homophobic remarks from their caucus, refuse to let John Baird "come out" and allowed Jason Kenney to remove the notion of gay rights from our citizenship guide.

It's all political strategy.

Gay rights activists continue to advocate, but they should be encouraging their members to vote. Every single one of them. Because there's no hope of reversing this trend until we get rid of this government. The Conservatives are the only party with an aggressive anti-gay agenda. But the good news is that the other four parties are not intolerant. Pick one.

Hold rallies not as gay Canadians where the Conservatives can use their "base" to ridicule, but as Canadians concerned with intolerance of any kind. Other minority groups must do the same, preferably together as a more powerful voice.

Latinos For Reform

Between April 2 and 3 of 2009, Canada Border Services carried out the largest workplace raids in Canadian history. One of those rounded up was a woman who had launched a complaint of sexual harassment against her boss. (5)

Last June, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney publicly questioned the legitimacy of refugee claims made by Roma coming from the Czech Republic, saying they faced no real risk of state persecution. And yet according to foreign correspondent Peter O'Neil:

[Roma] face a constant threat of neo-Nazi attacks and hateful demonstrations, where marchers head into Roma communities and call them "parasites," organized by increasingly sophisticated organizations such as the far-right Workers' Party."We are afraid for our lives" ... Growing neo-Nazi violence, as well as discrimination and even segregation in areas such as health, housing, education, criminal justice and employment, have been reported in numerous publications issued by the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the U.S. State Department and Amnesty International. (6)

And while promoting migrant workers to help the corporate sector, they are also further destroying our international reputation by siding with the "elite" oppressors:

Hundreds of Guatemalan migrant workers and their community allies marched through Guatemala City to the steps of the Canadian embassy on Wednesday, to protest the abusive treatment of migrants under Canada's Temporary Foreign Workers program. The workers at the protest had been fired and repatriated for defending their labour and human rights while working in Canada. (7)

Many of us wonder why the immigrant community is turning to a party that has always been anti-immigration and anti-multiculturalism. Are they unaware or is it self-preservation? Don't make waves or they could be the next target.

Several people believe that again strategy is being used, where the Harperites go after those Canadians who belong to groups who are natural enemies of their Canadian counterparts. Many Czechs dislike Roma, so they won't lose Czech support because of this. Or at least that's what they hope. Divide and conquer mentality. (I'm actually working on a story that I believe will help to prove this theory)

Which brings us to the U.S. mid-terms and Latinos for Reform.

This group has been running ads encouraging the Latino communities not to vote. (You can watch the video below).

And to help accelerate this campaign, many Republican candidates are beefing up their anti-immigration rhetoric, obviously hoping to recapture the Paul Weyrich strategy of turning minority voters away from the polls to help their cause.

Univision, the Spanish-language network refuses to run the ads.

"Univision will not be running any spots from Latinos for Reform related to voting," Univision spokeswoman Monica Talan told Politico. "Univision prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encourage Hispanics to vote."

So what is this really about? If this group cared about Hispanics they would encourage them to make sure that a party openly anti-immigration, and anti-Hispanic, never came to power.

It's political strategy.

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. (8)

The TV ad is suggesting that after two years Obama has not kept his promises. And yet this same group was behind an attack in 2008 against the current president, before he was even president.

It's Weyrich all over again, creating a campaign where only 30 percent of eligible black Americans voted. "I don't want everyone to vote ... our leverage in the election quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

This is democracy?

Paul Weyrich, also co-founder of the horrible Heritage Foundation, is now deceased, but his words linger:

“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."

Again. This is democracy?


Paul Weyrich is also a member of the Council for National Policy, a branch of the U.S. Religious Right. It was at one of their annual meetings, where Stephen Harper delivered his infamous "I hate Canada" speech in 1997. The CNP had already approved of Harper as one of them, so in 2006 when he asked Weyrich to do what he could to ensure that his people didn't speak to Canadian journalists trying to find out just how connected Harper was to this movement, Weyrich was more than happy to oblige.

A top U.S. conservative commentator now says he authorized an e-mail warning right-wing American groups not to talk to Canadian journalists before the election for fear of scaring voters and damaging Stephen Harper's chances. Paul Weyrich, head of the Free Congress Foundation, told The Canadian Press last week that the widely distributed message was the product of an overzealous staff member of the research group ... But in a commentary on the foundation's website this week, in which he calls Canadians too "hedonistic" to change course quickly, Weyrich admits he asked an associate to write the e-mail. (9)


1. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 22

2. Yom Kippur Sermon 5769: A critical analysis of the Jewish alliance with the Christian Right regarding Israel, By Rabbi Caryn Broitman, Yom Kippur 2008

3. 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 7, Pg. 120-122

4. Harper uses same-sex to tap into ethnic vote, By Brian Laghi, Anthony Reinhart and Roy MacGregor, Globe and Mail, February 12, 2005

5. Jason Kenney's Doublespeak Exposed: Tories Unleash Canada Border Services on Migrants, By S.K. Hussan and Mac Scott, The Bullet, April 22, 2009

6. SAVING ROMA: Roma, once known as Gypsies, face discrimination, attacks in Czech Republic, By Peter O'Neil, Europe Correspondent, Canwest News Service, May 11, 2009

7. Migrant Workers Protest at Canada's Embassy in Guatemala: Migrant Workers in Guatemala Raise Their Voices to Denounce Abuse and Exploitation Under Canada's Temporary Foreign Workers Program, UFCW, September 1, 2010

8. Latinos for Reform Head Robert de Posada Defends Controversial 'Don't Vote' Ad, ABC News, October 21, 2010

9. Harper's U.S. neocon booster changes his story, By Beth Gorham, Canadian Press, January 27, 2006

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Does the United States Need This Rally For Sanity?

Tony Hopfinger, an editor for the on-line magazine Alaska Dispatch, was handcuffed and detained by private security after he attempted to interview Republican senate candidate Joe Miller at an Anchorage town hall event. Miller refuses to answer questions about his personal life after it was revealed that he was nearly fired from his attorney job in 2008 for a serious ethics breach.

Miller has also suggested that to put an end to immigration, the U.S. should build a wall to keep people out.

"If East Germany could do it, we could do it."

Poor Joe, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, doesn't realize that the Berlin wall was put up to keep people in.

But as to the handcuffing of the journalists, apparently many Republican candidates are refusing to talk openly to reporters who don't work for Fox News. Fair enough. They know how to handle the crazies.

Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for NY, has taken a page from Jim Flaherty's playbook and wants to establish "welfare camps". He says: "Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we'll teach people how to earn their check. We'll teach them personal hygiene . . .the personal things they don't get when they come from dysfunctional homes." He wants to put them all in underused prisons. He also claims that “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” How about a dysfunctional candidate?

Nevada GOP Senate nominee and Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, said recently: ''People ask me, 'What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?' Well, that's not my job as a U.S. senator.''

She also told a group of Latino students, asking about her prejudice, that they shouldn't worry, saying that "some of them look Asian".

But Angle didn't stop there. She claimed that Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas, are instituting Islamic sharia law, and demanded to know "how that happened in the United States." It didn't happen. She singled out Dearborn because it has a large Arab American population, and Frankford no longer exists. It was annexed by Dallas in 1975.

Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate didn't know the first amendment.

In Colarado, Republican candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's efforts to boost bike riding, is "converting Denver into a United Nations community." He claims "This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,"

Eugene Robinson for the Washington Post wrote: "the big political story of the year may turn out to be the consequences of the GOP's foray into extremism and wackiness."

It's absolutely frightening.

Tomorrow’s Rally for Sanity led by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is going to be the most-covered event in Washington D.C. since the inauguration of President Obama.

There will be more than 1000 journalists and Oprah Winfrey is arranging transportation for thousands of Americans.

Will it work?

The Americans had better hope so. This is a Reform Party rerun.

Haliburton Stock Tumbles as They Helped to Cause BP Oil Spill

This is what happens when governments become lax on regulations.

News today is that BP and Halliburton were aware that the cement mixture designed to seal the well was unstable, causing the death of 11 people and resulting in the largest offshore oil spill in US history.
The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill said documents provided by Halliburton showed at least three tests of the mixture, in February and April, found the recipe wasn't stable. BP received data in March
from at least one of the tests, the commission staff said.

Legal experts said the information could help to bolster plaintiffs cases in the multitude of spill-related lawsuits by helping to show that BP acted with gross negligence leading up to the spill. This could, among other issues, greatly increase the multibillion-dollar penalties BP might have to pay.
Halliburton stocks are tumbling as a result. Couldn't happen to a better company. They cashed in on the Iraq War, so I guess there's justice after all.

The Politics of Sucking Up: Handling the Quebec Question

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada
"Look. I've got to suck up to Quebec, so just shut up and let me get on with it." Stephen Harper (1)
When Stephen Harper announced that he would be giving Quebec a "distinct society" status, many of his supporters were shocked, including his minister of Inter-governmental affairs, Michael Chong, who was not consulted on the plan. He resigned his position as a result.

This was a complete 180 for a party that had always taken a strong stand against Quebec nationalism.
The Reform party is very much a modern manifestation of the Republican movement in Western Canada; the U.S. Republicans started in the western United States. The Reform Party is very resistant to the agenda and the demands of the secessionists, and on a very deep philosophical level. (1997 speech to the
Council for National Policy) Stephen Harper (2)
When Stephen Harper suggested that the Reform party was against giving into Quebec on a "very deep philosophical level", he meant it. It was very deeply ingrained.

Preston Manning was a fan of Abraham Lincoln and in many ways saw himself as the man who would unite the country by getting tough with Quebec. He even hinted that violence may be necessary and often worked parts of Lincoln's 'A House Divided' speech into his own.

The Reform Party would represent English Canada with an Anglo hierarchy. French would be "allowed" in Parliament and the courts, but not mandatory anywhere. (3)

So it's interesting from Lawrence Martin's Harperland, that Stephen Harper was only interested in Quebec for his own political gain. A superficial gesture just for show.

But then he blew it when he went ballistic during the 2008 coalition "crisis", painting the entire province with a separatist brush. And his rhetoric further inflamed the West against La Belle Province. His remarks about the unsuitability of the Bloc Québécois involvement in the proposed Liberal-NDP coalition were characterized by professor C.E.S. Franks of Queen's University, Kingston, as "inflammatory and tendentious rhetoric' . (Globe & Mail, March 2009).

I remember comments at the end of online articles, often becoming so visceral, the editors would have to close down the comments section. One man suggested that "the boys from Alberta" need to come down and teach those you know what a lesson. It was horrible.

Dennis Pilon, a political scientist at the University of Victoria, stated that : "I do not mean to be an alarmist in suggesting that we may be heading for violence. But the actions of this prime minister are coming dangerously close to inciting mob rule." (4)

I don't think Stephen Harper or the Reform Party really understood Quebec grievances or their French-Canadian culture. He was often dismissive. When on Fox News in 2003 telling Canadians that Chretien was wrong not to go to Iraq, he suggested that "Only in Quebec, with its "pacifist tradition," are most people opposed to the war. Outside of Quebec, I believe very strongly the silent majority of Canadians is strongly supportive."

Quebec may have a "pacifist" tradition but they are not unlike most Canadians in that regard.

And then when speaking to the American Council for National Policy he brought up the Meech Lake Accord and the demands made by the province.
The establishment came down with a constitutional package which they put to a national referendum. The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things.
I guess it also means he doesn't understand the rest of us either, because most Canadians would not be "horrified" by universal Medicare, feminist rights and "a whole bunch of other things" (aka: gay rights).

But now that we know he was only "sucking up" to Quebec, and "had to get on with it", then it's all OK. Wink. Wink.


1. Harperland:The Politics of Control, By Lawrence Martin, Viking Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-670-06517-2, Pg. 82

2. Full text of Stephen Harper's 1997 speech, Canadian Press, December 14, 2005

3. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7

4. Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and Crisis in Canadians Democracy, By Elizabeth May, McClelland & Stewart, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7710-5760-1, Pg. 226

Lordy Lordy. Sarah Palin May Make a Run For the Presidency in 2012

Sarah Palin is hinting that she may take a stab at the presidency in 2012, according to the New York Times.
Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, spoke with Mary Hart of “Entertainment Tonight” from her home is Wasilla and told her, “I still have not decided what I’m going to do in 2012.”
Can you imagine a country with that much military power being run by an idiot?

Mind you I don't think she'd have much of a chance, even with the tea baggers now swelling the ranks of the Republican party.

I watched Bill Maher last week and he had a GOP operative on his panel who argued that Palin was very popular and how people loved her. But Maher pointed out that those who go to hear her speak do love her, in the same way that those who attend a rock concert love the band.

But polls indicate a very small number (I think less than 10%) who would actually vote for her.

Let's hope that trend continues.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stephen Harper is Wrong. Our Health Care IS Sustainable

Just before Christmas, I read a posting on the American Christian Coalition website, applauding Canada for moving to end public healthcare. They were against Obama's healthcare plan, and cited the end of ours as reason for their not adopting his.

In August, our health (?) minister Leona Aglukkaq blew off an important meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, prompting Andre Picard to ask:
Does Canada still have a federal health minister? And, more important, does it have a government with the slightest interest in maintaining the national health-insurance program called medicare? For all practical purposes, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “No.” Leona Aglukkaq, who holds the title of Minister of Health, was glaringly absent this week from the Canadian Medical Association gathering in Niagara Falls, Ont.
And Maxime Bernier, who would not have been allowed to speak without permission from his boss, is promising to put an end to federal health transfers, suggesting that provinces raise their own money for health services.

Make no mistake about it. This means eliminating the Canada Health Act, which guarantees all Canadians equal access to healthcare. You are treated based on the degree of your illness or injury, not the size of your wallet.

And with the Harper government claiming that our aging population means that the government can no longer provide free healthcare, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives disagrees. They say the reports that Harper is using, prepared by, you guessed it, the Fraser Institute; are misleading.
The OECD’s latest report on Canada’s economy emphasizes the challenge of rising healthcare costs. It contains several propositions, but only three have received media coverage and acclaim. These are that current trends are “unsustainable”, and that solutions lie in user fees and further privatization.

These three propositions are seriously flawed. First the report charts total healthcare costs, not just public expenditures, to make its unsustainable cost case. Including private with public costs greatly exaggerates the case. Secondly it attributes much of the challenge to an aging population. Research has found that this phenomenon adds only 1% annually to healthcare costs. Population aging is also estimated to peak around 2030. To propose radical changes to our system in response to a phenomenon which is both gradual and temporary is hardly justified. Finally, whatever the cost drivers, since 1997 provincial and federal governments between them have foregone close to $300 billion by way of corporate and income tax cuts. That’s a lot of healthcare. The OECD summarily dismisses any prospect of restoring some of the past tax cuts.
A recent poll asking what the most important concern of Canadians was, showed that 2/3 want public healthcare maintained and 54% said that they would pay more in taxes to support Canada's healthcare system.

But there is no reason to put the tax burden onto the public. Cancel the corporate tax cuts, the military hardware and the new prisons. It's a no-brainer.

Christians Speak Out Against Israeli Apartheid

In 2003 when Stephen Harper was elected as leader of the Alliance Party, he promised Jason Kenney and Stockwell Day that he would make Israel the cornerstone of his foreign policy, and made Day his foreign affairs critic.

Day had already made it clear that he supported a two state solution.

Recorded in Hansard in 2002, he had this to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
The Canadian Alliance position on this matter has always been consistent and has always been clear. The Palestinian people have a right to their homeland in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to the creation of a democratic Palestinian state. The only solution will be a two state solution which involves an exchange of land for peace.

In the short term our government should be advocating that Israel must withdraw as quickly as possible from area A to rekindle the peace process and then in the longer term Israel must withdraw from the vast majority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to secure internationally recognized lines.
But after winning the 2006 election, Harper bypassed Day as Foreign Affairs minister, and took a more aggressive stand, aligning himself with Charles McVety and John Hagee.
In 2006, Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College hosted the first event (Israel You're Not Alone) of a newly created coalition called Christians United for Israel (CUFI). CUFI counts amongst its members such extremists as John Hagee, Pat Roberston and the late Jerry Falwell. In fact, Frank Dimant, BB Canada's Executive Vice President, shared the podium with McVety and Hagee, and thanked them both in these terms: "But we (Jews) and Israel are not alone because of you and the tremendous leadership of Dr. McVety and Dr. Hagee" (Jewish Tribune, May 25, 2006).
And Hagee is very clear, as he leads his followers in a frenzied chant of “Not one inch! Not one inch!”—how much land they intend to see Israel give the Palestinians. Quite different from what Day claimed the Alliance party stood for.

But Stephen Harper only saw this from the perspective of political leverage. According to Lawrence Martin in Harperland:
Though Muslims outnumbered Jews by two to one in Canada, the Jewish community was more politically impactful. Harper was aware, for example, that he stood to gain a major advantage in the Canadian media with his position. The country's largest media empire, Canwest, was controlled by the Aspers, who made no secret of their allegiance to Jewish causes and became enthusiastic backers of Harper on all related questions. (pg. 81)
Foreign policy is not about an attempt at peace, but how his positions affect his own career and relationship with the right-wing media. How terribly sad.

Now the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, formerly owned by Conrad Black, is reporting that a document called Kairos Palestine, which has been translated in Italian, was presented to the Pope.
An Italian edition of Kairos Palestine, a controversial document authored by representatives of Middle East Christian Churches and first presented in 2009, was launched in the Italian capital last week, on the sidelines of a Vatican synod.
And these Christian churches take a different view of the situation than Christians United For Israel.
Among these are calls for “the beginning of a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel,” efforts defined as “tools of nonviolence,” accusations that Israel is guilty of “clear apartheid” and “racist separation,” ambiguous use of the word “resistance,” which seems to encompass terrorism in statements such as “if there were no occupation there would be no resistance...” and “we respect and have high esteem for all those who have given their life for our nation,” and, finally, criticism of the international community for not accepting “the outcome of democratic and legal elections” in Gaza that were won by Hamas.
And while the Jerusalem Post is suggesting that the document is a promotion of terrorism, their website has a completely different message:
This document is the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine. It is written at this time when we wanted to see the Glory of the grace of God in this land and in the sufferings of its people. In this spirit the document requests the international community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades. The suffering continues while the international community silently looks on at the occupying State, Israel. Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God. We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace in our region, calling on them to revisit theologies that justify.
So CUFI are promoting a nuclear war, while KP is calling for peace.

I don't pretend to have the answers but it seems to me that peace should always be the ultimate goal. Not jockeying for position at Armageddon.

Good News Folks. Forget About Human Rights. Barrick Gold Just Announced a Record Profit!


After writing a piece about the human rights abuses of Canadian mining companies, that are further sullying our international reputation, you can imagine my surprse when my news roll had the headline: Barrick Gold says third-quarter profits hit record, production ahead of target.

And they are increasing production by 20%

Just think of all the great toxic sludge that the kiddies will have to play in now.

Such a wonderful world.

Ah, we can dream.

The Biggest Threat to Liberalism May be From the Left

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"Healthy radicalism must fulfil, not reject, liberal values." - Irving Howe

It would appear that the Western world is at a crossroads. The Tea Partiers, the Religious Right, the corporate world ... they are all winning. Liberalism is experiencing a death knell, weakened to the point of annihilation. And with liberalism goes democracy. And with democracy goes the just society that once defined our country. The radical Right-Wing is poised to eat us alive.

And yet I find that I am often more frightened by statements made by those on the left than I am by those on the right.

A little more than a decade ago, Alan Borovoy wrote a book; The New Anti-Liberals, in the broader context of liberalism, not the official party. Like many Canadians he was becoming alarmed with the neoconservative movement and what it could mean for us.
.. as the twentieth century and the second millennium come to a close, ... conservative forces may well be dominating the political agenda throughout much of North America—they are found among the Mike Harris Conservatives in Ontario, the Ralph Klein Conservatives in Alberta, the Reform Party in Western Canada, the right-wing Republicans and religious right in the United States. Even where some of these elements have somewhat declined in strength, much of their program has been appropriated by their adversaries. (1)
They have definitely changed the political landscape. By making 'fighting deficits', 'tax cuts' and 'smaller government' their battle cries, they have forced liberal governments to change their focus. And when they do meet the demands of what is often no more than a clever publicity campaign, they are ridiculed by many on the left for caving.

During the 2005-2006 election campaign I had called the local NDP office and asked for a lawn sign. Then I watched an attack ad on TV, from the NDP against the Liberals. At the time I felt that the biggest threat this country had was neoconservatism, as represented by Stephen Harper. I immediately called the NDP office and told them to forget it. They had just been complicit in Canada electing it's first Republican government.

I still voted NDP but it was grudgingly.

I understood the political motivation for this, but really thought that some things should transcend partisan politics. Naive I guess.

Elizabeth May actually suggests that Harper and Layton had an informal pact: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" (2), as both ran similar campaigns against Paul Martin, resulting in Stephen Harper becoming prime minister "by accident".

It killed the Kyoto Accord, to address climate change. The Kelowna Accord to help address aboriginal injustice. And a national child care plan that would have helped working families. Sadly, all things the NDP supported. They threw out the baby with the bath water.

One of my favourite authors and journalists, Chris Hedges, wrote a scathing piece recently; The World Liberal Opportunists Made. He is highly critical of modern liberals, and lays the blame squarely on their shoulders. I'm not ready to be that pessimistic yet.

Make no Mistake. The Situation is Critical

Canada is now, after almost five years of Stephen Harper, in a proto-Fascist state. The only semblance of democracy is that we still have the right to vote, but with Canadians continually relinquishing that right, by staying home on election night, that last thread is breaking. In our latest municipal election in Kingston, voter turnout was at less than 37%. Quite shocking.

The Alternative Voice lists 14 key elements of Fascism, though I've seen similar lists in several places. We have reached all 14 benchmarks.

1. powerful expressions of nationalism

2. disdain for the importance of human rights

3. identification of external or internal enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause (i.e. Jews, Arabs, Islam, communism, terrorism, Blacks, Hispanics, whatever....)

4. militarism

5. control of mass media

6. obsession with national security

7. religion and ruling elite closely identified

8. power & interests of corporations & the ruling elite protected

9. power of labour controlled, suppressed or eliminated

10. disdain for, control & suppression of intellectuals and the arts

11. obsession with crime & punishment

12. rampant cronyism & corruption

13. fraudulent elections & gerrymandering

14. control & rigging of the judiciary

And yet despite these alarming conditions, our threat does not come just from the advancement of the right, but the fracture of the left. I read so many progressive journalists and columnists, who will continue to suggest that there is no opposition. That the leaders on the left are weak. By doing that they create an atmosphere of despair.

Why bother? It's too late.

Well snap out of it. It's not too late. We just have to be smarter.

Bill Freeman had a letter published in the Toronto Star that comes with a warning and a solution. Unite the left or risk a complete takeover by the hard right.
The night that Rob Ford was elected mayor of the City of Toronto, a City TV camera recorded a brief interview with Mike Harris at the Ford victory party. The former premier of Ontario smiled as he congratulated Rob Ford on his election. Then he went on to talk about the good political work he and others are doing in the back rooms of the Fraser Institute that has resulted in this triumph of the right. Those who believe that left/right politics don’t matter in Canada any more should have caught that moment. Leaders of the hard right have transformed politics in this country. The once proud party of Progressive Conservatives of Joe Clark, Bill Davis and David Crombie has been taken over by the politicians of the hard right of Mike Harris, Stephen Harper and now Rob Ford.

They cover up their ideology by packaging their message with slogans like “the common sense revolution” and “stopping the gravy train at city hall,” but make no mistake. They advocate hard-right ideological policies of reducing the role of government, rolling back taxes, bleeding the resources of public services and attacking social services for the needy ... It is time for a sober reassessment. Our only course is to build a coalition of the Liberals and New Democrats that can challenge the hard right and fight to save our political traditions of a caring, more equal society, good social services and strong, competent government. The ideologues of the Fraser Institute must be challenged before any more damage is done to our country.
Murray Dobbin has suggested the same thing recently.
When will the Liberals and the NDP get it? Without some kind of accord between these two parties, the country is locked into a kind of political version of the movie Groundhog Day — doomed to repeat the same depressing, cynical and destructive politics day-in, day-out until our democracy is so damaged that no one will bother voting.
If not a formal coalition than at least a pact, with a common goal. We can't fight the right-wing progression if we are constantly fighting each other.

Michael Ignatieff is not a weak leader and Jack Layton is not a communist. And both have amazing people in their caucus. It wouldn't matter who the opposition leaders were, the Conservatives would attack them.

In Ontario when then NDP Bob Rae and Liberal David Peterson formed a coalition in 1985, Rae was able to get a lot of things put on the agenda. Coalitions can work. Formal or informal.

Borovoy believed that the biggest threat to liberalism are liberals. One faction fighting 'the establishment', while the other is trying to exact change through 'the establishment'.

We've now had a glimpse of what fascism looks like. Is this really what you want?


1. The New Anti-Liberals, By Alan Borovoy, Canadian Scholars Press, 1999, ISBN: 1-55130-137-7, Pg. xv

2. Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and Crisis in Canadians Democracy, By Elizabeth May, McClelland & Stewart, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7710-5760-1, Pg. 6

Canada Needs its Own Rally for Sanity

In an effort to give voice to Americans who are not nuts, Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert will hold a Rally for Sanity, to let Americans who are not nuts, know that they are not alone.

The Tea Party is the only voice being heard and they have 138 delegates, all Republicans, running in the mid-terms.

This is a horrible state of affairs.

The National Park Service has granted a permit for satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to host a “political engagement/entertainment event” on the National Mall on Saturday. Comedy Central said in its application for the permit that it expected 60,000 participants, though they also said they were providing enough portable toilets for 150,000.

The event “will include music, comedy and a ‘rally,’” according to the permit, which was released this afternoon. Messrs. Stewart and Colbert had told their viewers that they would be hosting competing protests, one to “restore sanity,” the other “to keep fear alive,” but later said they would combine them around the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

I hope it's well attended and sends a message to Canadians, that we need to do the same. Jason Kenny, Rob Anders, Stockwell Day, Maurice Vellactott, Brad Trost ... all nuts.

If our country continues to dummy down and allow the only voices heard be those of extremists, we're going to be in serious trouble.

Harper Government May Have Ties to the Mafia

This is not the first time that the Harper governemnt has been accused of having Mafia ties.

Maxime Bernier, Leo Housakos, Dimitri Soudas.

But new information has come to light in what some of are calling (or not calling) Renogate.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe told the House of Commons on Tuesday that a Tory fundraiser in Montreal in January 2009 was held at a restaurant owned by a man with links to a Mafia clan. "The owner of the restaurant where the cocktail party took place, Mr. Riccardo Padulo, is close to the Vito Rizzuto family, an influential member of the Mafia," Duceppe said. Earlier this year, Padulo attended a funeral service for Nick Rizzuto.

Construction boss Paul Sauve threw the fundraiser at Da Enrico restaurant months after his company got an $8.9-million contract to renovate Parliament's West Block. Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis was the guest of honour at the event. He was public works minister at the time. Executives from several companies that got huge government contracts donated to the Conservatives to attend the fundraiser. Opposition parties have demanded Paradis' resignation, raising the prospect that the Tories took kickbacks in return for handing out government contracts.
Wow. Hookers, booze, mafia. This just keeps getting better. (or worse)

Rape is Rape. Murder is Murder. Threats are Threats. Stop Playing Politics.

In Ecuador an armed security force is alleged to have attacked unarmed locals with pepper spray, then fired guns to stop a protest near a proposed mining site.

In El Salvador, there were also reports of violent attacks against anti-mining activists.

In Mexico, there were allegations of human rights and environmental abuse leading to closure of a mine. (1)

There have been numerous accounts of rape by mine employees, hired as guards.
"The guards, usually in a group of five or more, find a woman while they are patrolling on or near mine property. They take turns threatening, beating and raping her. "In a number of cases, women reported to me being forced to chew and swallow condoms used by guards during the rape." (2)
In Chiapas, Mexico, an environmental activist was gunned down in front of his home, alleged to have been killed by mine employees. (3)

Horrible accounts of human rights violations in developing nations.

But would it surprise you to know that all of these allegations were made against Canadian mining companies?

Star foreign correspondent, Brent Popplewell, says that:
The word "Canada" is so reviled in some places that travelling Canadians mask their citizenship by wearing American flags on their caps and backpacks. (1)
Students for a free Tibet, have also targeted Canadian mining companies, for exploiting their natural resources, that they feel belong to them. (4)

And if all of that isn't bad enough, we've learned recently that Canadian mining companies are the worst in the world for human rights and environmental abuses.

Canadian mining companies are…the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world, according to a global study commissioned by an industry association [PDAC] but never made public. …[According to the report:] “Canadian companies are more likely to be engaged in community conflict, environmental and unethical behaviour, and are less likely to be involved in incidents related to occupational concerns.”, copper and coal mining were most often involved. The...countries with the most incidents were India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Regionally...Latin America had the most incidents...once PDAC received the study, it was decided not to make it public because more research was needed. On Tuesday, supporters of…legislation to tighten regulation of Canadian mining firms operating abroad will be on Parliament Hill to lobby for passage of the bill... (5)

Instead of taking care of communities where they operate, they hire paramilitary forces to keep the people in line. Images of children playing in toxic sludge are the norm, and citizens whose natural resources are being raped, live in fear.

Fear of Canadians.

But when KAIROS complained they lost their funding (6) according to internal memos, and when Liberal MP John MacKay introduced a private members bill, to address the concerns, he was threatened to keep quiet, by the most powerful lobbying group on the Hill.

Stockwell Day had appointed an insider to handle the matter, but she's only allowed to investigate allegations of abuse if the mining companies allow her to.

The Conservatives have colluded with the offenders, putting up a wall of resistance. And to make matters worse, the right-leaning Globe and Mail is making this political, rather than addressing legitimate concerns. (7)

There are 200 lobbyists for this industry, who are very powerful, and obviously have our government in their hip pocket. If they threatened John Mackay they no doubt threatened others. So they will be allowed to do what they want and there's nothing we can do.

MacKay just wanted to stop the flow of Canadian tax dollars to the industry until these serious matters were addressed, but the actions of the mining lobby appear to validate the claims. As Mackay says:
"I have to be extremely careful because the mining companies have made it very plain to me that, `We will sue your ass off if, in fact, you make any allegation of our companies and cause reputational damage.' "But I will say, if they think they can treat a Canadian MP this way, you can imagine what they say about Third World countries where they can walk in and say, `How much to buy you?'" (1)
Even if this bill does not get passed, as it probably won't, it has drawn attention to an issue that few Canadians were aware of.

If we are so reviled that "travelling Canadians mask their citizenship by wearing American flags on their caps and backpacks", and our elected officials can be threatened, then maybe we need to demand that no more of our money goes into supporting this industry.

That is our name they are destroying and we shouldn't be rewarding them for it.


1. Canadian mining firms face abuse allegations: A private member's bill aims to impose controls on powerful Canadian mining companies that operate overseas, By Brett Popplewell, Toronto Star, November 22, 2009

2. MPs told of gang rapes at mine: Toronto-based company hotly denies crime at South Pacific site, By Les Whittington, Toronto Star, November 24, 2009

3. Stop Canadian mining companies' rights abuses, A victim's son speaks out, By Jose Luis Abarca, Embassy Magazine, September 29, 2010


5. Canadian mining firms worst for environment, rights: Report [Canada], By Les Whittington, Toronto Star, October 19, 2010

6. Did KAIROS defunding come down to mining interests and one hand-written note? Internal documents raise possibility CIDA minister initially approved proposal, By Lee Berthiaume, Embassy Magazine, October 27, 2010

7. Will Michael Ignatieff bury his own MP’s mining bill?, By Jane Taber, Globe and Mail, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Harper Government Has Increased it's Budget for Hookers. Yes I Said Hookers.

The RCMP is investigating a scheme where tax dollars are being used to provide party favours, including booze and hookers.

And to allow for inflation, the Harper government has raised it's allowance from 75 million to over 100 million.

Even hookers have to make a living.

Yes folks. That's your tax dollars at work.

The Politics of Insecurity: Diplomacy and Clinking Glasses

During WWII, when Vincent Massey was high Commissioner in London, his personal assistant* wondered what was the sense of all the protocol. Bombs were going off around them and he was expected to pay attention to the smallest details.

But what he learned from Massey was:
"... that protocol is really a language, a set of rules and conventions which enable people of different nationalities, social backgrounds, and political persuasions to feel comfortable with each other, to avoid embarrassing
situations, even to enjoy each other's company." (1)

So while we can scoff at the formal and ceremonial aspects of diplomacy, what we need to understand is that an important component of diplomacy is respect, and that includes respecting another nation's customs and their leaders.

I'm still reading Lawrence Martin's Harperland, and I don't quite know what to think of it. It's filled with contradictions.

Being billed as explosive before it's release, I'm finding much of it is excusatory. Martin brings out a lot of the more irrational components of Harper's character, but then will seemingly go out of his way to excuse them.

I never expected the book to be anti-Harper, and would have been disappointed if there was no balance. But while Martin flippantly highlights Harper's extensive use of profanity, that will only shock the Religious Right, who once believed he was an Evangelist; he glosses over the areas that should be shocking to all Canadians, since they have a profound effect on our future.

And the most important one is foreign policy.

When Stephen Harper dismisses our diplomats as "glass clinkers", Martin agrees. I found that quite alarming.

The book does take note of our prime minister's inexperience in foreign affairs, but then claims that because he talked about the Cold War with a friend, that made up for it. I talk about a lot of things with friends. It doesn't make me an expert on any of them.

And to top it off, no one in his caucus was any better prepared.

Given that, you would think that they would then turn to the diplomats. The ones who not only learned foreign languages but also the language of protocol. The things that break down barriers and pave the way to negotiations.

But the exact opposite happened. Stephen Harper has continually undermined our foreign service, because their knowledge of the world, contradicts his own; which is really a lack thereof.

Harper may have discussed the Cold War with his friend John Weissenberger (2), but unfortunately his understanding of world issues ends there. His foreign policy is based on ideology and the appeasement of religious extremists.

The danger of that is glaring. It is something that cannot be excused or brushed off with silly notions that discussions with a friend can replace the advice of those in the field.

And unfortunately that applies to every other decision this government makes. Experts are "university types" and advocates are "special interest groups". I find it all inexcusable.

I'll finish reading the book before I pass a final judgement, because I am very much a fan of Lawrence Martin. But so far ... ahhhh!


* That personal assistant went on to become one of Canada's longest serving diplomats, dubbed a 'peacemonger' by the press. A title he wore with pride. He would go on to marry Vincent Massey's niece, and in fact proposed to his future bride at Massey's home. The family was pleased. Her name was Alison Grant who would become Alison Ignatieff and the mother of Michael Ignatieff.


The Politics of Contempt: The Nixon-Harper Ticket

The Politics of Hate: Where Will it Lead?

The Politics of Conceit: "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better"

The Politics of Opportunity: Election Tampering

The Politics of Jabberwocky: As Canada Plummets Down the Rabbit Hole

The Politics of Ballyhoo: David Emerson and the Soft on Sovereignty Trade Deal

The Politics of Religious Nationalism: Taking us Down a Dangerous Path


1. The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff, By Sonja Sinclair, University of Toronto Press, ISBN: 0-8020-2556-0, Pg. 62

2. Harperland:The Politics of Control, By Lawrence Martin, Viking Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-670-06517-2, Pg. 79

You Don't Have to be Left-Leaning to Want to Protect Canadian Jobs

The right-leaning Globe and Mail just published an article: Free-trade deal with EU could cost thousands of Canadian factory jobs.

This is not really news, as many people have been sounding the alarm.

But what I found interesting was that while the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, provided statistics to validate their claim, the Globe felt it necessary to add the disclaimer: "The centre is a left-leaning think tank."

What the hell?

Do we then just dismiss the story as being left-leaning and without merit? This is balanced reporting?

The media quotes the Fraser Institute, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Manning Centre for Democracy all the time, and never refer to them as 'right-leaning think tanks'.

This is inexcusable. But then so is the Globe and Mail calling themselves a real newspaper.

Harper Supporters Now Believe That Michael Ignatieff Has Better International Reputation

A new poll has revealed that 30% of respondents believe that Michael Ignatieff is responsible for Canada losing the UN Security Council bid.

They were Neocon supporters.

Neocon supporters who believe that Michael Ignatieff has more influence on the international stage than Stephen Harper.

Does this mean they'll switch their vote?

Of course another poll of the same Harper supporters revealed that 84% believe that candy apples grow on candy apple trees, and 97% think that Marilyn Munroe is still travelling around in a flying saucer with Elvis Presley.

It's best just to humour them.

Canadian Heroes Who Understand the Responsibility That Comes With Freedom

"I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced that they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference after another." Ellen Goodman

There are so many important issues facing us today, that at times it all seems so overwhelming. How can we possibly fix everything? Climate change, poverty, homelessness, intolerance, war .... where do we start?

Fortunately, we have many Canadian heroes who don't focus on the enormity of the tasks ahead, but on some small measure where they can exact change.

But the difference that they are making could very well be the most important issue of all. Our right to protest. Because when we allow ourselves to be silenced, we have no hope of changing anything.

Two of these heroes are Jeff Peters and Andrew McCann, who were arrested during the Save the Prison Farms protest in Kingston. I've written before about the brute force used to silence those opposed to this decision.

But apparently brutality was not enough for our government. They wanted to make sure that none of their decisions would ever be questioned again, so they presented a 'diversion arrangement', whereby 'offenders' could exchange community service for a record.

This might sound like a fair exchange, except that part of that condition meant they had to admit that what they did was wrong. How can it be wrong to protest a decision that was completely unfair and made without debate?

I certainly don't fault those who agreed to this deal, because having a criminal record can follow you throughout your life, but several people refused, including Jeff Peters and Andrew McCann.

They are taking a stand, because this is no longer just about the prison farms, but our basic civil rights, that are being threatened.

“When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.” Stephen Harper, Canadian Press, April 18, 2005

Lofty words from a man who now goes to enormous lengths to cancel any kind of dissent in this country.

Which brings us to Alex Hundert, one of many protesters at the G-20, who risked his own freedom to guarantee ours. You can read his story here.

Hundert was placed under a gag order that FORBID him from taking part in public political discussions. After appearing on a university panel he was rearrested. In Canada.

As one reader of the Star put it:

While Canada has some of the best police officers in the world, we are still troubled with this blatant oppression by the authorities and bail conditions imposed. We totally agree with Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Young’s comment of “astonishing” — and may we add “appalling.” This is not the Canada we grew up in. We are losing civil freedoms in a democratic country. These recent totalitarian actions are something we thought only happened in Eastern bloc countries.

There is little doubt that Canada’s image has been eroded by incidents such as this. The recent rejection of Canada by the UN Security Council is a telling tale of just where we stand in the eyes of the world. It is time to stand up and defend the principles of fairness and justice of which Canada had long represented.

This is not the Canada I grew up in either.

We are increasingly becoming an Eastern Bloc country where witch hunts are the norm and peaceful protesters arrested at gunpoint.

We can stay silent and allow this government to continue it's human rights abuses, or we can stand up to this by demanding answers.

Like where is the proof that the prison farms are too expensive?

Why were the police at the G-20 told to leave vandals alone and instead abuse those protesting this government's inaction on important social problems?

And why so many police in the first place?

A hero doesn't have to try to change the whole world, but if we have enough people willing to speak out and stand up for something they believe in, who knows? We just might.

Our "Frugal" Government on Another Spending Spree

It's no longer really news that the Harper government is on another spending spree.

They live very large on the taxpayers dime. Nothing's too good for Herr Harper.

What ticks me off is that they are warning us of tough times ahead and promising to end public health care, because we can't afford it.

If you polled most Canadians and gave them a choice between billions of dollars on military hardware, new offices, communications staff, photo-ops, etc. or healthcare, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone not choosing the latter.

But then since when have we ever factored into any decisions this government makes?
Construction of four temporary meeting rooms for MPs in a federal building next to Parliament Hill in Ottawa cost over $24 million, CBC News has learned. The rooms are being used for Commons committee meetings while other buildings on the Hill get a $5-billion, long-term restoration.
Of course they need this to pay back all the contractors who contributed to their party. And remember we have to borrow this money and our children and grandchildren will have to pay it back.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Wonderful Malalai Joya Says Stephen Harper is Deceiving Canadians About the War in Afghanistan

I've posted before about Malalai Joya, the Afghan woman who went from activist to politician, to try and help the poor people in her country. She has been called "The Bravest Woman in Afghanistan", and I couldn't agree more.

Malalai has spoken out often about the corruption and lies told by the governments of both the U.S. and Canada.

And she now says that Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay are not being honest about the reasons for this war.

Little solace for those of us who knew that from the get go.

This was a war for profit and we were lulled into a sense of complacency with yellow ribbons and bumper stickers.

Now Stephen Harper has turned his back on the veterans while plotting another money maker. We need to be more vigilant. We need to view this war through the eyes of the victims.

Today Stephen Harper and the Canadian government are trying to deceive the Canadian people about the war in Afghanistan.Harper is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. On one side, he is saying Canadian troops will leave Afghanistan in 2011. But on the other side Harper is saying to US and NATO, don't worry, Canada will stay with troops and help in different ways to occupy Afghanistan.And Harper is saying that Canada will stay to do "training" of troops of puppet Karzai regime.

We Afghan people don't need any more "training" from Canadian government after 2011.
We Afghans don't want any more bombing after 2011.
We Afghans don't want any more torture by NATO and Afghan puppet forces.
We Afghans don't want any more occupation by NATO.

Instead of staying after 2011, it is better that Canadian troops leave sooner, leave now.

And the latest Wiki-leaks confirm what this wonderful woman is saying are true. This was a state sanctioned bloodbath on an innocent people, for profit. Nothing more, nothing less. We were never there to help anyone except ourselves. We lost our soldiers for nothing. We killed for nothing. We should be ashamed.

Tom Walkom recently asked: What was point of the Afghan war?
With the U.S. committed to Afghan peace talks, the outlines of the end to this disastrous war are becoming clear. In one form or another, the Taliban are on their way back. Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed lukewarm support for the talks Friday. But for Canada, they raise an obvious question: Why did we bother getting so involved in this conflict? What was the point of spending all of that money and sacrificing, to date, 152 Canadian lives?
And let's not forget the environmental costs of war.

This is going to end badly.

It's Like Looking in a Mirror - For Ralph Klein

When former Calgary mayor, Ralph Klein, was premier of Alberta he stated that "Bums, creeps and unskilled workers are not welcome. We will use cowboy techniques to deal with people who rob our banks, add to our welfare rolls, add to our unemployment lines and create rising crime rates." (1) He made being redneck cool.

And indeed he followed through on his threats, and started shipping the unemployed out, giving them a bus ticket and a "don't come back now ya' hear".

But when he threw a convicted stalker on a bus to Victoria, then B.C. Justice Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, said enough was enough. He couldn't solve his problems by simply giving them to someone else.

His drinking, cussing and questionable behaviour were legendary. (2)

But a lot has happened since then, and Calgary now has a young and progressive mayor. And a Muslim to boot. They are now cool.

But sadly, Toronto went the other way, electing a knucklehead Rob Ford, who won the election on promising to throw thousands of people out of work and putting immigrants in their place.

Jim Flaherty endorsed him ... enough said.

After his victory, Ford was seen at the bus station ticket counter, pulling a wagon. Look out Alberta. He may be sending them to you. Sigh.

And Toronto also has a new theme song. I don't drink but may have to take it up.

Rob Ford calls this "They's a teeeer in ma' baeeer ... " Yee Haw!


1. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2 4, Pg. 52

2. Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, pg. 60-62

Media Manipulation: Journalists or Playwrights?

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

When media mogul Rupert Murdoch, first met Ronald Regan, he was surprised at how old and frail he was. Murdoch had been invited to the White House for a luncheon and Reagan actually fell asleep during the meal. 'The other guests went on eating and the waiters continued to take the plates away'. (1)

Murdoch later described the experience as "awful".

He had backed the Reagan campaign but the man he saw was nothing like the man he had portrayed. How could this be?

In their book Newsmongers, Mary Anne Comber and Robert Mayne, present an interesting theory on election campaigns, comparing them to plays. The stage is set and the actors assigned their roles. It is then up to the media to write their lines, and they rarely allow them to go off script.

Ronald Reagan was billed as the "Great Communicator", and though revisionist history paints him as a much loved man, in fact he was never really that popular, and had a horrible track record. But he could communicate. He knew how to deliver his lines. The media applauded.
A favourite journalistic device is to compare politics to a stage play. Politicians are referred to as actors on the political stage. In any story some politicians have lead roles and others are cast in supporting roles. They give performances and the spotlight tracks them across the political stage. One implication of this device is that it allows journalists to play the role of theatre critic. (2)
Neocons have recognized this and found a way to capitalize on the phenomenon, by creating the characters themselves. They even publish the playbills, also known as "ten percenters".

Stéphane Dion Starring in 'Not a Leader'

When I attended a townhall meeting in Kingston during the 2008 coalition attempt, one of the speakers was a retired professor from Queens University. He had been the head of the political science department and told of how Mr. Dion was one of the most respected men in his field. He was quoted often.

In his book, the Rights Revolution, written in 2000, Michael Ignatieff placed Dion as a leader in the understanding of group rights and multiculturalism. (3) He was also the author of the Clarity Act.

In Losing Confidence, Elizabeth May describes Dion's uphill battle to have the Kyoto Protocol adopted. She reveals how Stephen Harper and Jack Layton colluded to call an election on the exact date of the "opening day of the most important global climate negotiations in history." (4) And simply because they didn't want the Liberals to look good on the International stage.

Forget that it meant that Canada would look good on the International stage. I lost a lot of respect for Jack Layton after reading that.

But despite the ploy, Stéphane Dion would be victorious as a result of the most selfless act of any politician in a very long time.
Dion told the world immediately after the government fell that he now worked for the United Nations. He said he would resume his life as a Canadian politician on December 10, when the meeting was over.

Incredibly, he steered the meetings to the high-water mark of possible objectives, across every issue. I may never have had a happier moment than when the meetings concluded on December 11 at 6:17 in the morning after round-the-clock negotiations. Dion brought down the gavel on the most aggressive possible actions to advance limits in the next commitment period, set to begin in 2013. (4)

Can you imagine Stephen Harper ever sacrificing his own political career for an opportunity to allow Canada to shine?
I may never have been as devastated as when Stephen Harper was elected, knowing he would do whatever he could to stop progress in reducing greenhouse gases. What we didn't see as a further disaster in bringing down the government on November 28 was that it effectively rendered the Montreal negotiations invisible to the Canadian public. The media was off on the typical brainless pursuit of Canadian election as horserace. Policy and science, particularly UN discussions of the climate crisis, were not going to be covered in an election campaign. (4)
And when Dion became the party boss in 2008, Harper immediately went to work, laying out the play's story, and narrowing the dialogue. And despite proving enormous leadership on the world stage, Dion's "character" was that of a bumbling idiot with weak leadership skills.

And Harper, who lacks any real leadership qualities, played the role of the strong commander, who would slay the recession dragon and pull Canadians out of the abyss. One he threw us into.

Benjamin Disraeli once said: “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?" Harper lacks the skills to motivate and bring out the best in people. He also refuses to share the limelight. He is a one-man show, and those around him, only there for his amusement.

When he was running the National Citizens Coalition his VP, Gerry Nicholls once suggested that there was a problem with a billboard that Harper had designed, but when he shared his thoughts, Harper responded icily "I don't give a f--- what you think." (5)

He feels the same way about us, believe me.

Michael Ignatieff Starring in 'Just Visiting'

After the successful run of 'Not a Leader', our budding playwright was ready for a sequel with the new Liberal leader. And while he needed to downplay Dion's enormous diplomatic success, he now had to destroy Michael Ignatieff's history, as a member of one of Canada's most important families.

So how best to do this? Cast him in the role of a man who only returned to Canada as a matter of convenience. He was 'just visiting'. If he didn't become prime minister he would return to teaching at Harvard, where he headed the Human Rights department.

But in a clever plot twist, despite the fact that most of Ignatieff's career was spent in the UK, where he made documentaries for the BBC, including one that won him a Gemini; worked as a war correspondent, taught at Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics, and wrote 17 books, they had to make Canadians believe that he was somehow an American. So they capitalized on a two letter word 'we', that he used to connect with his audience when working in the U.S. (for only 5 years)

And the audience lapped it up. The media held their flashlights, directing the patrons to their seats, and called the play a triumph. Of course they would. They wrote the lines.

And if any among them gave the play a thumbs down, they were dismissed as Liberal hacks and a promise made that they would "never work in this town again."

Time For a New Play

With an election on the horizon, rumour has it that Harper is working on a new play, the working title: 'The Coalition is a Coup'. It's got pirates and everything.

But personally, I'm not too impressed with his skills as a playwright, so I think it's time that Canadians collaborated and wrote their own play.

'Goodbye Stephen Harper'. Catchy, don't you think?

Order your tickets now. It's guaranteed to be 'Sold Out'.


Media Manipulation: Setting Agendas and Shielding Your Bum

Media Manipulation: Conrad Black and the POWER of the Press


1. Murdoch, By William Shawcross, Simon & Schuster, 1992, ISBN: 0-671-67327, Pg. 197

2. The Newsmongers: How the Media Distort the Political News, By Mary Anne Comber and Robert S. Mayne, John Deyell Printing, 1986, ISBN: 0-7710-2239-5, Pg. 17

3. The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By Michael Ignatieff, Anansi Books, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-88784-762-2, Pg. 11

4. Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and Crisis in Canadians Democracy, By Elizabeth May, McClelland & Stewart, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7710-5760-1, Pg. 3-5

5. Harperland: The Politics of Control, By Lawrence Martin, Viking Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-670-06517-2, Pg. 12