Saturday, August 29, 2015

NDP Plan Rally to Dishonour Two Fallen Canadian Soldiers

Stagnating in public support, the NDP are trying desperately to get back to the days when the passion over Bill C-51; the omnibus bill that is now law, and changes many laws; gave them a bump in the polls.  To do that they are planning rallies against the Liberals over Harper's C-51.

The media will still have to wear their complicity, in the nonsense that blamed Justin Trudeau, and let Stephen Harper off the hook, in their attempt to become kingmakers.  However, they have forgotten an important fact.

Two Canadian soldiers were killed on Canadian soil.

The sister of one, welcomed tougher security laws, so hoping that her brother had not died in vain.  No one can argue that the Harper government took it too far, but the anti-terrorism portion of the law can be amended.  We cannot bring back these two young men, but every sign carried is being used to kill them over and over again.

For heaven sakes let them rest in peace.

Olivia Chow is going to lead the charge.  I don't know when she became heartless, but maybe someone needs to send her a picture of those soldiers, with the names of their grieving family members.

If she can still protest after that, then she has no business wanting to be a member of our government.

This has never been the Canadian way.  We don't spit on soldiers graves.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Our Addiction to Balanced Budgets May Need an Intervention

“There is always a storm. There is always rain. Some experience it. Some live through it. And others are made from it.” Author Shannon L. Alder

Recently NDP candidate and former Saskatchewan finance minister, Andrew Thomson, stated on Power and Politics, that cuts were inevitable, in order to balance the budget.

In Saskatchewan, he cut funding to education, though it still didn't balance the books.  He had to take money from the province's contingency fund, including almost a half million dollars for advertising, that he had balanced the books, when in fact, he had not.

Hiding deficits for politicians is not uncommon.  Jim Flaherty did it in Ontario and Joe Oliver is doing it now.

But in defence of Thomson, Flaherty and Oliver; we have become the enablers of their addiction to the high of being good economic managers.  They had to hide their red eyes and red ink, so they didn't have to come before us in shame, or ruin their chance for re-election.

The question we need to be asking ourselves, is why balanced budgets are so important.  Does it really matter if the federal government runs a deficit?

Political consultant and commentator, Will McMartin, discussed this recently in the Tyee.  He begins with the announcement that the Conservatives would present a balanced budget.  However, he implies, so what?
A closer look at the country's finances, however, raises a simple question: why all the fuss? The budget is a thin slice of the Canadian economic pie, and interest costs on our debt are shrinking to near-giveaway size. Ottawa is just one of three government levels, and taken as a whole our government spending is very much under control. 
The federal budget represents just 15% of our overall economy.

The Blame Game

There has been a lot of debate recently, over what political party is responsible for our perceived debt/deficit "mess".  Since only Conservatives and Liberals have ever formed government, it narrows the debate down to those two.

The biggest targets are Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau.  However, John Diefenbaker, also ran consecutive deficits, but that is not how their legacies should be judged.

Diefenbaker was a visionary, who fought for a united Canada.  He gave us the Canadian Bill of Rights and stood up to the Americans, who wanted us to join their missile defence program.  He may have made mistakes, but his deficits were created in part, by a new universal hospitalization program, and an enhanced Old Age Security.

Lester Pearson also left a deficit, but what defines him, are the many contributions he made.  He expanded Diefenbaker's hospitalization plan, to give us universal health care and introduced student loans and the Canada Pension Plan.  He also created the Order of Canada, and moved toward abolishing capital punishment.

There's no denying what Pierre Trudeau did to move our country forward, as he also expanded social programs, and created a more just society, with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Even Brian Mulroney, whose tenure was mired in corruption, left his mark on making Canada a better country. He created eight new national parks, finalized the U.S.-Canada acid rain treaty, and brought in the Environmental Protection Act.

He is also credited with giving us NAFTA, not necessarily a good thing, but it did help Canada in the short term.

All of these men were big idea guys, who had the courage to make things happen.

Diefenbaker's idea:  a united Canada with a focus on human rights.

Pearson's: nation building and making Canada a diplomatic player on the international stage.

Trudeau's:  nation building with a focus on rights and freedoms, and an inclusive society.

Mulroney's:, a desire to bring Canada into the 21st century, with a focus on business and international trade.

Who cares if they left deficits when those deficits represented only 15% of our GDP?  Look at what we got in return?

I know that a lot of people are critical of NAFTA.  I'm one of them.  Not only did it hurt our manufacturing sector, but it has forced subsequent governments to adopt programs of deregulation, to meet the terms.  Unfortunately, more deregulation may be required, since we are now the country most sued, for not meeting our nefarious commitments.

Election 2015: a Psychedelic Trip to Bizzaro-land

When Thomas Mulcair was the environment minister in Quebec, and wanted to privatize water, shipping it in bulk, he said that "the environmental laws protecting water are considered barriers to trade." (The Press, Charles Cote and Mario Clouthier, June 16, 2004 ).  Mulcair helped to draft NAFTA.

Everything has become a "barrier to trade", that will exacerbate with even more international trade deals.

But what about the barriers to helping Canadian society?  We were told that these deals would lead to economic prosperity.  Where is it?  I guess we should have read the fine print, that said only economic prosperity for the top 1%.

During the 2008 economic crisis, the Canadian government bailed out our banks with over 100 billion of our money.  They bailed out companies, and sprinkled largesse over Conservative ridings.  They built libraries and indoor soccer fields for private religious schools and set up an advertising campaign called the Canada Economic Action Plan that would have rivalled Joseph Goebbels propaganda ministry.  (Yes I said it).      

We found money for that, by adding to our deficit and debt.  Adding it to the 15% stake in our country's GDP.  So why can't we do the same for the Canadian people?  

We need a National Housing Strategy, a National Food Program, and we need to expand our healthcare to include dental and prescription drugs.  We need a subsidized tuition program, help for our seniors and our veterans, and an environmental plan that works.

Those things are not drains on our economy, but a viable way to grow our economy, that will create good, full time jobs, while reducing poverty and homelessness.    We will see the value for the dollars we spend.

A recent poll shows that Canadians are OK with deficits.  They have different priorities and Justin Trudeau has tapped into that:
That suggests that it’s Mr. Trudeau whose position is in sync with the majority’s mood. The Liberal Leader has refused to rule out running a deficit, arguing he’ll have to see the extent of the “mess” the Conservatives have left in the public finances. 
It is the NDP, traditionally to the left of the Liberals, who have launched the most blistering attacks on Mr. Trudeau for opening the door to running a deficit. Under Mr. Mulcair, the New Democrats have sought to allay concerns about their economic policies by insisting they will balance the books, despite the slowdown in the economy.
What an odd turn of events. 

I'm glad that Trudeau is bringing the Liberal Party back to its roots, that put Canadians first. Now the NDP have to find their way back to the days of Tommy Douglas.
Many people have called me a socialist, but like Will McMartin, the author of the first piece I linked, I'm a conservative.  Although actually a liberal/conservative.  Common sense solutions to social problems.  Grow the economy and the budget will balance itself.

Or maybe I'm just a Diefenbaker, with a dollop of Pearson and a splash of Pierre Trudeau.

Not such a bad thing to be.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thomas Mulcair and Stephen Harper Dance to the Beat of a Shared Drummer

Someone posted a link to an interesting article yesterday, from January of this year.  At the time the NDP were third in the polls and going nowhere, so the party met in the Conservative caucus room, to discuss strategy.
Tom Mulcair is trying to turn around the NDP’s flagging fortunes as he gears up for a federal election within nine months, shaking up his office and campaign team and stepping up his attacks on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
That the NDP has been more focused on Justin Trudeau, than Harper, has been evidenced for quite some time. However, there was another comment made by Mulcair, in the context of the following, that was a bit revealing.
And he contrasted that with Trudeau’s upbringing, implying that the Liberal leader was born into privilege as the eldest son of a former prime minister and believes “he can just inherit power without proposing a thing.” 
“Whether it’s meeting with premiers to work on the future of our federation or with world leaders to discuss global economic opportunities or terrorist threats, being prime minister is not an entry-level job,” Mulcair said.
"being prime minister is not an entry-level job".

This was several months before the Conservatives used that in a national ad campaign.  Bruce Carson, in his book, relates that Stephen Harper had met with Jack Layton in 2008, wanting him to join the Conservatives in destroying Stephane Dion.

So did Mulcair provide Harper with his talking points?  

Yes this is politics, and Canadian politics have become nasty since Harper came on the scene.  We also know that Jack Layton and Stephen Harper had worked together in the past, beginning with their 2004 coalition attempt, to take down Paul Martin and make Harper prime minister.  So it's only understandable that Mulcair and Harper would make natural Samba partners.

But Who's Providing the Dance Music?

Thomas Mulcair never did inspire his way to a bump in the polls.  It was the over the top campaign against Trudeau and Bill C-51.  What made this completely bizarre, was the media's complicity in it.  They are supposed to be the Fifth Estate, not the staff of the wannabe Second Estate.

Jooneed Khan, a former journalist, had helped with Mulcair's 2007 campaign in Outrement, that won him his first federal seat.  However, by 2012, be noticed that something was happening.

A piece in La Presse, glowingly comparing Mulcair to Tony Blair, caught his attention.  By then, he knew what the current NDP leader stood for, and was sounding the alarm.
Revealingly, they all look backwards to 1990s Britain and to Tony Blair's so-called "New Labour" as the appropriate recipe for a Mulcair-led NDP ...
No statement has struck me as more contemporary and forward-looking than Brian Topp's unhesitant and courageous answer to a media question on Palestine's bid for a UN seat when he launched his own NDP leadership campaign: "We want Canada to vote with the rest of the world."
Mulcair's ultra-Zionist position on Palestine and the Middle East would never countenance such a possibility. On this issue, he remains solidly entrenched in his bunker with Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman (and their friend Tony Blair, the Quartet's very ineffectual special Mid-East envoy), while the entire Middle East is changing as people demand a future of social and economic justice and democratic participation.
Khan could see what was happening, as the major Quebec, and many other media outlets, were promoting Mulcair as Harper's replacement.  If he could turn the NDP to the right, just as Blair had done with the Labour Party, they would never have to worry about a progressive agenda, that might threaten their hegemony.  First they had to get rid of the Liberal Party, where they no longer had many friends.

Rabble also published a piece by their editor Derrick O'Keefe: Following the money: Is Bay Street backing Thomas Mulcair?
Information on individual donors to Canada's political parties, and to the NDP leadership candidates, is made publicly available at the Elections Canada website. Mulcair's donor list is of particular interest, since he is a perceived frontrunner and because some have speculated that he would aim to move the NDP further to the right of the political spectrum, given that he was a Liberal cabinet minister in a right-wing Quebec provincial government.
What I found out about Mulcair's donors should be of interest to NDP members and to everyone watching and covering this leadership race ...
I've actually printed out the list, and Khan is not wrong about the newspaper conglomerates.  They are not only promoting Mulcair, while trashing Trudeau, but are also financing his career.
After Mulcair's coronation, long time NDP supporter, Murray Dobbin, wrote of a party in mourning.  They chose the bombastic right-winger to take out Harper,  but, says he:  "Facing a ruthless tough guy? Get your own ruthless tough guy. And possibly create a monster you can't control."
It's pretty obvious that the media is once again trying to engineer the making of a prime minister, just as they did for Stephen Harper, with the help of Conrad Black's empire.  Now it's the Power Corp and allies.
When are we going to say enough is enough?
My Little Experiment
As I've mentioned in several posts, Thomas Mulcair was a horrible Environment Minister in Quebec, who earned the wrath of many environmental groups, in part because of his deregulation and privatization agenda. 
Yet our media continues to allow him to perpetrate this lie.
Another lie, that is going unchecked, is his claim that he left the Charest government on principle, because he opposed the sale of a portion of Mont Orford Park.
I posted on this before in my other blog.  The story went something like this.
1.  Mulcair proposes selling the park in a caucus meeting.  Charest told him to look into it.
2.  Mulcair approaches developers who only ask if it is legal.  He assures them that he can fix that.
3.  Mulcair prepares the legal framework, required to pass legislation, allowing the sale to go through.
4.  Mulcair launches a public attack on Coca Cola, after they announced that they would be ending the voluntarily can deposit on non-carbonated beverages, without even consulting them.  The company was understandably upset.  This was the last straw for Charest, who had already been embarrassed enough by Mulcair..  He called him into his office and told him that he could no longer go to the media unless it was first cleared by him.
5. It was common knowledge that Mulcair was after Charest's job, so he pulled a stunt that might assure his boss's defeat.  He released to the media that the Charest government wanted to sell portions of Mont Orford, creating a public outcry.  Everything was gong in his favour, until Charest called a press conference, showing the papers that Mulcair had drawn up.  Oh, oh!
6.  Mulcair went into hiding for a month, refusing to talk to anyone, not even his beloved press.  Then he came up with a new strategy.  He announced that the papers were only hypothetical and that he hadn't signed them.  
7. This rift in the party was fair game to the opposition.  A committee met, and several witnesses were sworn in, who testified that it was indeed Thomas Mulcair who proposed the sale of the Park.  Mulcair went ballistic.  It created a lot of tension, and it took several government staff, to hold him down. 
His lie was exposed and his dreams of being premier, were dashed.  He left Quebec in shame. 
Yesterday, I sent a link to a 2006 story, confirming the actual events, to several key members of the Canadian media:  Rosemary Barton, Susan Delacourt and Don Martin.  I put it on their Twitter pages so that it could be viewed by many.
I wanted to see if any of them would do the right thing, and inform the Canadian public, that Thomas Mulcair was not being truthful, in his representation to us, or to his followers.
This is the link and this is what it reveals:
"L'Esperance also revealed in testimony that Thomas Mulcair, who resigned from Charest's cabinet, saying he disagreed with plans to sell off the mountain, assured him last fall the government would approve his plan to build condos on 85 hectares of park land. 
"It was definitely confirmed to me several times," he told reporters. "Once by himself (Mulcair) and other times by his representatives." 
L'Esperance said that, on the strength of assurances from Alain Gaul, then Mulcair's chief of staff, that "You have a project. Go ahead and prepare your winter season," Mont-Orford invested another $1.5 million to $2 million for the 2005-2006 ski season. 
Questioned by Mulcair, L'Esperance admitted Mulcair, at the time environment minister, raised the issue that the sale of provincial park land was illegal."
And remember this wasn't just "testimony" but "sworn testimony".
Witnesses at National Assembly hearings are rarely sworn in but, at the request of the Parti Quebecois opposition, L'Esperance took an oath, swearing to tell the truth, before he testified.
And then there's this:
"However, according to the Canadian Press, Mulcair had indeed approved the project Monday. The proposal would have been accepted ten days prior to the redesign of 27 February." 
"Mulcair had indeed approved the project Monday."  Ten days before he resigned after being demoted.

Now that we know that we are not only fighting two right-wingers, but also the Canadian media, we have to be diligent.  Own the comments sections to set the record straight. Go after those in the media who refuse to be honest with us and out them.
We cannot have another election where the press determines the results.  Only we, the voters, should have the right to do that.
Besides blogging on this, I'm going to create a list of links to articles that reveal the real Thomas Mulcair.  His admiration of Margaret Thatcher was no passing fancy.  He lived and breathed her Neoliberal legacy.
This country will never survive another Stephen Harper, whether it's in the form of our current prime minister, or the man who wants to replace him. Another " monster" we "can't control".

Monday, August 24, 2015

How Bernie Sanders and Justin Trudeau Have Changed the Election Narrative

Recently, one of my favourite journalists, Rick Salutin, weighed in on Justin Trudeau's comment, that the Liberals wanted to grow the economy "from the heart outwards", meaning from the centre or middle class.

The media and opposition parties went crazy, calling him a Care Bear, not comprehending the meaning of his words.  Everyone is looking for that sound bite, to make them look clever, when in fact, it ended up making them look foolish.

Salutin, on the other hand, did know what Justin was talking about, but preferred that it be the misinterpretation.  

Why not economics from the heart instead of from the head?  We've been led to believe that balanced budgets are the Holy Grail, and that the  "Economy" is  a beast we must feed or risk extinction.

Canada has become the Fisher King;  the legendary figure from the days of King Arthur. Wounded in battle, he could no longer perform his duty to protect the coveted chalice, nor could he produce an heir to continue the obligation.  As a result his kingdom was reduced to a barren wasteland, while the king amused himself fishing, and waiting for rescue.

The mythical Holy Grail has become a symbol for things most cherished and desired, but unfortunately, we no longer know what those things are.  Salutin discusses the economic crash of 2008, that should have taught us that the current system wasn't working.   Yet things continued as before, with misguided tax cuts and mean spirited austerity measures.  This election is probably the most important of a generation.  We can vote for the status quo, or not vote at all, ensuring the status quo.  Neither is an option.

Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination, in the run up to the presidential election, in 2016. He has become a phenomenon, primarily because he is not campaigning on lowering taxes or fighting deficits, but on the things that should matter to most Americans.  And they are listening.

A liveable minimum wage, better working conditions, an end to war; to name a few.  These things have not been mentioned in election campaigns for a very long time.  This has forced the other candidates, vying for the job, to address the same issues, or at least promote progressive ideas.

He has changed the narrative, which has changed the issues.

Our media and politicos are too focused on Justin Trudeau's hair, and his famous father, to listen to what he is saying. Like Sanders, he is discussing better working conditions, better wages, and benefits for veterans, seniors and children.  A sensible environmental plan, and an improved relationship with provinces, so that everyone has shared goals, and can better reach them.

Stephen Harper is focused on his dubious leadership skills, while scaring us into submission, over the threat of a terrorist attack.  The NDP is hoping the fact that they voted against C-51 and the Liberals didn't, despite neither vote having an impact; will carry them through for the next two months.  It won't.

Most of their policies are the same old tired promises.  More fluff than substance.  A $15.00 an hour minimum wage, to create a group of "federal employees" who can be unionised;  only gave false hope; and a daycare plan that won't be implemented in this cycle or the next.

In fact, many children needing daycare today, won't; when the first phase of their plan is rolled out, so it is not an election issue, only some vague notion, made during what Salutin calls "an intellectually threadbare era"..

We need to slay the bastard named "Economy" and create our own goals. As the thoughtful journalist says:
This kind of paradigm shift in economics — I’m calling it, after Trudeau, the economics of the heart — is probably more crucial now than it was in the heyday of what was called socialism. Then the stakes were merely misery for the masses. Now the survival of the species is at risk due to climate change and the current model doesn’t — and can’t — even take that into account. When the environment kacks out, it’s an “externality.” You carry on modelling, oblivious. It really doesn’t matter what you call it but “heart economics” sounds good to me.
Investing in Canadians is the best way to grow financially.  We can't just sit around waiting to be rescued, while our country is being reduced to a barren wasteland, and our people to a life of nothing but debt and meagre opportunities.

Sanders and Trudeau have something lacking in politicians today.  Genuine compassion and the ability to inspire.  

It's risky in today's political climate and with the state of our media, to have dreams of a better country, but Sanders and Trudeau have them anyway.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ―  Paulo Coelho

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mulcair's Confusing Stance on Security and C-51

Columnist Ralph Surrette had a piece in the Chronicle Herald this weekend:  Harper defeat won’t suffice; this calls for fumigation

In it he questions why the NDP did not go on the attack when Stephen Harper announced that he’d institute a "ban on travel by Canadians to areas of terrorist activity "

This announcement sent a chill down the spine of many Canadians, and prompted experts to weigh in on the legality of such a move.  More importantly, however, it would mean the further deterioration of our rights.

Says Surrette:
After all, the arguments over the anti-terror law, Bill C-51, were still fresh — a law denounced by four former prime ministers (including a Tory one, Joe Clark), five retired chief justices of the Supreme Court, former ministers of justice and pretty well every legal expert in the country, that triggered alarm at the United Nations, that was described by both the RCMP and CSIS as “unnecessary” and that was denounced by the otherwise small-c conservative Globe and Mail as a “quasi-police state bill.” And here was Harper jerking our chains again on the same issue, proposing another broad dragnet largely outside the rule of law. What a political opportunity!
What a political opportunity indeed.  Both Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair saw the ban proposal as political posturing.  I agree.  Not unlike the political posturing by the NDP over C-51, which is no longer a bill but a series of laws, affecting many areas.  

What is puzzling though, are Thomas Mulcair's comments, when asked about Harper's latest ploy.  Rather than denounce it, he claims that "obviously" he would support it.  He only questions whether it would actually do anything.


He also states that C-51 was a failure because it did nothing to prevent the radicalization of youth.  What would he want to see in the bill to prevent "the radicalization of youth"?  

The only way to stop youth from being sympathetic to the goals of groups like ISIS, is to stop invading countries for oil.  Stop taking away one group's human rights by painting them all as terrorists, while inflicting the worst kind of terror on their homelands, with bombs.

If there was even a hint of diplomacy in our foreign policy, young blood would not boil.

The NDP is now too focused on silencing any sympathy for Palestine, dropping candidates like flies, to care whether our rights are being violated.  How many New Canadians will be prevented from visiting their families? Given this government's loose interpretation of terrorists, that could be just about anywhere.

 "Obviously we are going to support anything that will prevent the threat of terrorism".  Really?

Thomas Mulcair and the NDP, if they were in power, would not scrap C-51.  They can't.  It is now law, resulting from an omnibus bill that has changed many laws.  

At best, they will put through amendments to the anti-terrorism measures, that challenge our rights and freedoms.  Exactly what Justin Trudeau promised.

Hot air will only get you so far.

Besides, Mulcair's new priority is decriminalizing marijuana.  In the first minute.  This will certainly win him the vote of drug dealers, as it gives them a free pass.  Without legalization, and thus control, it will do nothing to keep marijuana out of the hands of children.

Which brings up a bit more confusion over what Mulcair actually stands for.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Andrew Thomson's Candidacy Exposes a Much Bigger Problem for the NDP

The media has been in a frenzy recently over the decision by former Saskatchewan finance minister, Andrew Thomson, to run for the NDP against Joe Oliver.

According to Thomson:
“My time in government, and we’ve seen the record of NDP governments — there is a strong attention to spending discipline,” he said.  
“We are obviously committed to social spending, but at the same time are also committed to making sure budgets are balanced and that governments live within their means.”
Sounds good right?  This man claiming to have balanced the Saskatchewan budget, while stating that Oliver has failed in this endeavour?

It might be, if it were true.  But it isn't. According to BJ Siekierski,  Thomson raided a contingency fund to give the appearance of a balanced budget.
“Are you confused about the state of the province’s finances? Uncertain whether Saskatchewan is running a) a balanced budget, b) a $500 million deficit or c)a $700 million deficit?” Bruce Johnstone, the financial editor of the Regina Leader-Post, wrote on March 24, 2007. “After this week’s provincial budget, you have every right to be confused. I certainly am and I’ve been covering these things for nearly 25 years. 
“The Fiscal Stabilization Fund (FSF) was created in 2000-01 to stabilize the fiscal position of the Province from year to year and to facilitate the accomplishment of long-term objectives,” the 2007-08 budget reads.  
A few days after the publication of Johnstone’s column, Brad Wall — then the leader of the Saskatchewan Party opposition — told the Saskatchewan legislature that Thomson and NDP not only failed to obtain the $75 million surplus they claimed, they also drained the FSF. 
“They went from a $158 million surplus last year to a $701 million deficit this year, Mr. Speaker. They drained $500 million, a half a billion dollars, from the Fiscal Stabilization Fund,” Wall charged.
The media is calling the Oliver/Thomson bout, the battle of two finance ministers, when in fact, it is the battle of two deceptive finance ministers.

Personally, I think the idea of balancing budgets is over-rated.  Instead, I agree with most economists, that if you grow the economy, budgets will balance themselves.

Neither Oliver nor Thomson got that message.

Andrew Thomson's Record Was Much Worse

As finance minister in the Saskatchewan NDP government of Lorne Calver, Thomson cut funding to education, forcing many municipalities to increase their property taxes.

He blamed the education boards, suggesting that they should be spending their reserves.
The minister’s comments have justifiably frustrated officials in these regions, especially the fact that he’s accusing them of hoarding money. If the minister wants to talk about hoarding money and replenishing reserves, he need only look in the mirror. After all, it was his NDP government that has socked away nearly $700 million dollars in its so-called rainy day Fiscal Stabilization Fund for use in the year leading up to the next provincial election. Most of this money came right from oil producing regions like South East Saskatchewan, where residents are now facing increased education property taxes all because the minister is hoarding money in his own reserves and failing to fully fund the increased costs of education.
We now know he raided his government's reserves, to give the appearance of a balanced budget.  The rest was used in self glorification television ads.
It’s funny – Andrew Thomson didn’t bother to mention this hidden tax hike in his recent half-a-million dollar television ad campaign. Recently, a reporter asked Andrew Thomson why he had to appear in the NDP’s budget commercials. He said it was because “it’s my budget." 
Mr. Thomson, like the NDP, has forgotten something very important. It’s not his budget. It’s not even his money. That money belongs to you, the people of Saskatchewan.
Yes.  He cut funding to education, so he could look good on television.  

With the writing on the wall, Thomson decided not to run in the 2007 election.  The NDP were thrown out of power by the Saskatchewan Party, made up of former Liberals  and Conservatives.  In the 2011 election, the NDP fortunes fell even further, as they were reduced to just nine seats.

Andrew Thomson has to shoulder the blame for at least some of that.

Saskatchewan NDP Shows Where the Brand Has Gone Wrong

In 2012, Journalist John W Warnock wrote a piece:  Whatever Happened to the Saskatchewan NDP?
From 1944 through 2007, politics in Saskatchewan was dominated by the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and its successor the New Democratic Party (NDP). But the NDP was soundly defeated by Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party in 2007 and routed in 2011. Today they hold only nine seats in the legislature. 
He contributes their failure, and rightly so, on their decision to move the party to the right.
Obviously, the Saskatchewan NDP needs to seriously re-evaluate the political direction it has taken since 1991. The move to the right to embrace the neoliberal model has been a failure. Thus it is a good time for a book of serious papers which examine ongoing problems and set out an alternative policy direction. The child poverty rate in Saskatchewan stands at 19.6 percent, tied with BC as the highest in Canada. James Mulvale and Kirk Englot explain how a progressive provincial government could implement a feasible strategy for poverty reduction.
The NDP had failed on every issue, from healthcare to poverty.  From education to the environment.

This problem is not limited to Saskatchewan, however.

In Ontario, last election, NDP leader Andrea Horvath, angered her base when she ran on a platform that was right of the Liberals.

This follows elections last year in Nova Scotia and British Columbia that were marked by the drift to the right of the NDP and electoral disappointments similar to what the party suffered in Ontario.
Things were so bad in Nova Scotia, that former MLA, Howard Epstein, wrote a book subtitled:  If the NDP can't differentiate itself from other parties, should it exist?

The NDP is unpopular in Manitoba, and in New Brunswick they supported the police crackdown of Mi’kmaq led protests against fracking.

They won a majority in Alberta, in part by distancing themselves from the anti-oil activists.  I don't think this will spell more support for the federal NDPs in the province.

Now the federal party has chosen a Neoliberal leader with enough right-wing baggage to guarantee that the party will never again represent social democratic principles.

By moving to the right, they have opened up the left,  allowing Justin Trudeau's Liberals and Elizabeth May's Green Party, to move in.

CNNi Report, offers a reason why the NDP chose Thomas Mulcair to lead them.
Their fear of Harper is too profound and they fear that the way Conservatives decimated the Liberals, now it would be the turn of the NDP to be pulverized. 
They wanted a scrapper to challenge Harper and protect them from destruction.  However, if they are pulverized, it won't be by the Conservatives, but by an attack from within.

The death of a thousand cuts, with Mulcair delivering the final, fatal blow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mulcair's Environmental Record #2: Minister of Hog Development

Recently Morris W. Dorosh had a piece published in the Financial post:  Tom Mulcair’s incoherent farm policy.

In it he questions Mulcair's logic and math, when discussing agriculture and supply management.
Incoherence is the expected thing from Mulcair. His arithmetic seems a bit off. Supply management nationally provided 16.9 per cent of farm-gate cash revenue in 2014 and 17.0 per cent the prior year, so Mulcair must have been referring only to Quebec. In that case gross revenue from milk, egg and poultry sales in Quebec was 2.55 per cent of Canadian farm cash income. Employment allegedly created by the system can be almost any number depending on how creatively it is defined.
Conflicting views and just making stuff up when he can't answer a question, is actually a trademark of Mulcair's, and was long before he hijacked the NDP.

Environmentalist and water expert, Mario Desrosiers, said in 2005, after yet another deceit of Mulcair's when he tried to deny that he had fired the Environmental watchdog:
How can we give credibility to the words of a minister when his statements are different from one newspaper to another or from a television program to another or simply false.(1)  
Mulcair dismissed that and the hundreds of other concerns, by claiming that they "stem from emotional reactions" 

Since the media is content to go along with his view of his record as environment minister in Quebec, I'm running a series of articles, that reveal what actually occurred.  There was no principle, no commitment and certainly no logic.

Instead, what we see is a systematic attempt to privatize and deregulate, and just like Stephen Harper, much was done under the cloak of secrecy.  He, along with other members of the Quebec Liberal government, were actually sued, and part of the Plaintiffs' case dealt with the difficulty to access information.  (2)

The defence presented, was that they might expose things that shouldn't be exposed.  Not unlike the Harper government calling everything a "cabinet secret".  In one incident, Mulcair held off a group seeking an audience for a full year.

Mulcair's  Pig in a Poke

When in the Quebec government, Thomas Mulcair would often mention the fact that he helped to draft the terms of NAFTA.  In his promotion of bulk water sales, he suggested that  "the environmental laws protecting water are considered barriers to trade." (3)

Also a barrier to trade was a moratorium on hog farming, imposed by the Parti Quebecois, to keep the mega barn, multinational corporations, from over farming and contaminating the water supply.

When the pubic first became aware of Mulcair's intent to lift the moratorium, there was a great deal of opposition.  In 2003, he promised that a full environmental assessment would be done.  It was, concluding that the ban should not be repealed.  Mulcair lifted it anyway, favouring corporate interests over public safety.
"By authorizing new hog barns, the government is giving municipal officials and citizens a fait accompli. It is preparing for the worst crises than previous ones, since people feel cheated. The BAPE gave them hope and yet nothing changes, "says Gilles Tardif of the Citizen Coalition. 
"The Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair, seems to have turned into the minister of pig development," adds Tim Yeatman ... citizens have just elected candidates who campaigned against hog farms projects.  
 The groups are outraged that the government ignored the recommendations of the BAPE in regard to the protection of the environment and risks to the health of people drinking from artesian wells. "Despite clear evidence to the effect that the spreading of pig manure, slurry is not adequately controlled to prevent the pollution of watercourses, the Liberal government seems to be unconscious," says Martine Ouellet Vice President of the Coalition Eau Secours.  (4)
The major issue in Quebec is the ever-expanding hog industry, and its impact upon the environment and rural communities. In the fall of 2003 The Quebec government released its report on a public consultation process which recommended fundamental changes to hog production in order to make it sustainable in Quebec. A moratorium on hog production expansion followed, installed until new regulations and policies could be implemented, but was lifted prematurely in December 2004. Since then, grassroots community groups have been calling on the province to heed the Canadian Medical Association’s resolution to ban the expansion of the hog industry until the inherent risks of industrial hog farming are understood and the appropriate solutions. 
So while Thomas Mulcair is travelling the country, attacking Stephen Harper for not protecting our waterways, he himself clearly has no concern.  He will do just what Harper does.  Deregulate his way to more corporate profits.

In fact, one man actually had to go on a public hunger strike, lasting 18 days, just to get Mulcair to address a water pollution concern in his community.(5)

To honour NAFTA, he dishonoured the people he was supposed to protect, by not ensuring that they would enjoy a safe environment and clean drinking water.

The NDP are calling for change, but with Mulcair as prime minister, I'm afraid it would just be more of the same.


1. Mulcair is Irresponsible and Insults People, By Mario Desrosiers , Chairman of the Citizens Committee Presquîle - Lanaudière (CCPL), October 11, 2005

2. CANADA, PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, DISTRICT MONTREAL, Citizens Committee of the peninsula-Lanaudière c. Quebec (Attorney General), 2006 QCCS 4861, SUPERIOR COURT; No: 500-17-023251-047, August 24, 2006

3. Mulcair is Pleased to Have a New Debate, The Press, Charles Cote and Mario Clouthier, June 16, 2004

4. End of moratorium on hog production, The Liberal government threatens the social climate in rural Quebec, Creek, December 12, 2005

5Philipsburg cottager ends 18-day hunger strike Encouraged by minister's response to algae problem - by Debbie Parkes, The Gazette, August 14, 2003

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ignorance and Belly Badges: Learning to Deal With the Doltish

Recently the media and political opponents made merry with a comment that Justin Trudeau made on the economy.
"We’re proposing a strong and real plan one that invests in the middle class so that we can grow the economy, not from the top down the way Mr. Harper wants to, but from the heart outwards, that is what Canada has always done well with.”
For anyone who got past grade two, they know that the "heart" is also used to reference the core, or centre. So what Justin Trudeau was saying is that rather than give money to the wealthiest, and wait for it to trickle down, let's give it to the centre and grow the economy outward.  

For this he is now seen as a fluffy Care Bear.  How ridiculous.

Of course the orange Grumpy Bear weighed in with a snide "unique perspective".  If ignorance were truly bliss this man would be a much happier person.

However, Blue Hide Me bear was still on the run ducking questions about Mike Duffy, so had no comment, and Green Aware Bear just rolled her eyes and refused to engage in such silliness.

Can you imagine if Martin Luther King was Canadian and around today?

"There goes Marty, dreaming again.  Another tax grab no doubt.  He's sounding just like Chatty Cathy".  Twitter would be abuzz with everyone trying to out stupid each other.

Columnist Stephen Marche recently wrote a scathing piece on the Canadian political climate, for the New York Times:  The Closing of the Canadian Mind.
Americans have traditionally looked to Canada as a liberal haven, with gun control, universal health care and good public education.
But the nine and half years of Mr. Harper’s tenure have seen the slow-motion erosion of that reputation for open, responsible government. His stance has been a know-nothing conservatism, applied broadly and effectively. He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Conservative Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance.
This could not have been accomplished without a media and a politico determined to take everything down to it's lowest common denominator.  As a result, we are now seen as a country of uninformed bumpkins, quite happy to wander about aimlessly, waiting for the next sound bite and resulting media spin.

Let's hope Marche doesn't read about this.  I'm so embarrassed.

Learning to Speak Dummy for Dummies

Since we can no longer engage in intelligent discourse, when discussing political topics, maybe we need to re-frame our goals, or at least what they should be.

You don't have to live in the Kingdom of Caring to know that Canada has lost its way.

In the CTV Care Bear story, Richard Madan attempts to throw in a bit of balanced reporting.
Neither the Conservatives, Liberals, or NDP have released a fully costed platform or have explained how they would pay for big ticket spending promises should government revenues decline.
Have the Conservatives told us how they would pay for their "big ticket" spending, like bombs for Iraq, a continuation of the corporate welfare system and over the top partisan advertising?

In Michael Moore's documentary Sicko, he asks a British politician about the affordability of their public healthcare.  He suggested that if a government can find money for war, they can find money for that.

In 1982, Ontario premier Bill Davis created the Assisted Devices Program, which initially covered 75% of the cost of equipment needed by children with disabilities.  This was later expanded to include adults.

For low income families, other programs pick up the additional 25%.

This not only made an enormous difference in the lives of those struggling for inclusion in society, and the families of children with special needs; but also created an industry.

There were always manufacturers and distributors of wheelchairs, etc., but most equipment was out of reach for many, and they had to depend on charity.

Since the implementation of the ADP, and other programs like it across the country, we now have mobility stores, that employ thousands of people.  We have occupational therapists, in good paying jobs, who make sure that the right equipment is provided to the right clients.

More disabled adults can engage in meaningful employment and special needs children can attend school and enjoy the privileges of their peers.

This is not "big spending", but smart spending.

Canada needs a national housing  strategy,  but in today's dummied down political climate, how do we get this on the agenda?

There is a lot of talk about infrastructure spending as a way to create jobs.  This is true, but a national housing strategy would not only create jobs, but would create permanent, good paying jobs; not only in the building trades, but in administration and social services.

Many of Canada's homeless, also struggle for inclusion in society.  People like Katrina Blanchford-Gervais, who never dreamed that she would ever be the poster child for homelessness.  No one aspires to that.

She was given a hand up by a local Hamilton group, Housing First.  These organizations are excellent, but without adequate funding they cannot possibly do everything that is needed to be done.

With a housing strategy, we can help to grow the economy from the heart outwards.

Sorry dummies.  CORE! CORE!