Showing posts from March, 2007

Harper urged to pass revised Clean Air Act.

The Conservative government is now placed in a difficult position. The government really does not want to pass this bill. Baird has even made the ridiculous statement that the new bill is weaker than the original Clean Air Act. Of course he gave no evidence of this and the statement flies in the face of the evidence and statements by the main environmental groups who support the amended bill. My prediction would be that the Conservaitives will let the bill die on the order paper and make their own announcements about their brave new world of environmental initiatives. I doubt the Conservatives want to fight an election after having been defeated for not supporting this bill but we shall see!

Pass overhauled clean air bill, Harper urged
Last Updated: Friday, March 30, 2007 | 4:37 PM ET
CBC News
Environmental groups urged the Harper government on Friday to pass a bill rewritten by a special Commons committee because they say it takes real action on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Act…

Ethanol gas emissions no greener than regular gas.

Although this test is limited in nature it shows that the benefits of ethanol in gasoline are probably over-rated in terms of the environment. Of course the subsidies will help ADM and corn farmers!
To be fair it would make sense to test cars that run on pure ethanol and gasoline.
However, there is also the whole issue of whether there is much if any savings of energy at all if ethanol is made from corn. There apparently are more savings if it is made from other sources such as sugar cane as happens in Brazil.
These factors do not even consider the point whether a food crop should be diverted to be used as fuel.

Ethanol auto emissions no greener than gasoline: study
Last Updated: Friday, March 30, 2007 | 8:18 PM CT
CBC News
An unpublished federal report appears to undermine the belief that commercially available ethanol-blended fuel produces cleaner emissions than regular gasoline.

Many Canadians believe filling up with ethanol-blended gasoline reduces the emission of greenhouse …

Ontario grants licences for more foreign trained MDs

Even with the increase in licences demand outstrips supply. Interesting that US trained doctors are not regarded as foreign trained. The Ontario College must be a fan of deep integration with the US! Perhaps we should be required to pay a certain amount to any third world country each time we hire one of their doctors.

Licences for foreign trained MDs on increase
Ontario body issues overall total of 2,961

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons licensed more foreign-trained doctors than ever last year, according to a new report.

As well, the regulatory body issued the highest number of overall medical licences in 2006. Fully 42 per cent of the 2,961 new licences -- or 1,247 -- were given to internationally trained medical graduates, more than the 37 per cent for Ontario graduates, according to a report released by the college yesterday.

"At the moment, we are quite dependent upon these people and they provide a great source of expertise that we need," said …

RCMP: No Whistleblowers Need Apply

I imagine the problem is greater within the force than in public perception. This article does not mention the problem of overseers of the force. A former head of the complaints commission, Shirley Heafey, has written much and complained much of the lack of co-operation she received in her job. The Iacobucci inquiry may also reveal more problems in the intelligence work of the RCMP. The issue that really bothers me is that no one suffers any punishment from errors or misdeeds. In fact if the Arar case is a good example precisely the opposite happens. As in isolating and punishing whistleblowers no bad deed goes unrewarded it seems.

Long list of Mountie miscues precedes claims of high-level corruption

Sue Bailey
Canadian Press

Friday, March 30, 2007

OTTAWA (CP) - Allegations of a pension scandal covered up by RCMP brass may be the straw that broke the horse's back.

Claims by RCMP officers of high-level corruption are just the latest round of embarrassing misadventures for a storied n…

Neoliberalism conquers Quebec?

I am not exactly sure what neoliberalism is supposed to mean in this context. It would be helpful if the author gave examples of how exactly neo-liberalism is triumphing. Perhaps he means cutting social programs and lessening size of government reducing subsidies etc. The author really doesn't give any detail either of how the left is supposed to re-invent itself whatever that means. The whole article is at Rabble. I am not sure how some aspects of Quebec conservativism such as prejudice against immigrants and wanting immigrants to assimilate is related to neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism conquers Québec at last

We need to actively forge new collectivities and new forms of organization which can wage ideological battle against neoliberalism by developing compelling alternatives to it that go beyond social democracy, beyond the old socialism, beyond isolated struggles.

>by Corvin Russell
March 29, 2007

The old politics and certainties of the Québec left have now been pronounced dead…

Zaccardelli: A Coverup?

At least there was enough money to cover Zaccardelli's coaching for his testimony in which he in effect perjured himself. Nothing was done about the RCMP's "mistakes" in the Arar case insofar as punishing anyone was concerned. It seems that internal coverups are equally immune from anyone being held accountable. We shall see what the Iacobucci inquiry comes up with and whether it causes much more than a temporary ripple in the calm polluted waters inhabited by the RCMP big fish.

Zaccardelli may respond to RCMP allegations
Updated Thu. Mar. 29 2007 10:35 AM ET News Staff

Former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli should be given a chance to respond to stunning allegations about corruption and cover-up within the RCMP, says the head of the committee that heard the allegations.

On Wednesday, senior RCMP personnel alleged that senior management has tried to block their investigation into the possible misuse of group insurance and pension funds at the national polic…

Wheat Board loses monopoly on barley marketing

The mantra of free choice seems to be very attractive to farmers. As the National Farmer's Union points out there is really no difference between removing the Wheat Board altogether from marketing barley and the choice option because the Wheat Board will be unable to compete with the large grain companies as it lacks the capital and facilities. The Harper government is dedicated to following the wishes of the US big grain interests that have been fighting the Wheat Board for ages. This is the beginning of the end for the Wheat Board, not that the Liberals were much better since they would have ended up bargaining away the Wheat Board monopoly as well most likely. It is only a matter of time until the Wheat Board becomes a thing of the past just as the Mantoba Wheat Pool and many Dairy Co-operatives. The farmers seem to have given up on the successful farmer run organisations that helped protect them from domination by large agricorps. With Harper the agricorp victory will be compl…

NDP member calls for probe of US deserter's arrest.

Why was he not allowed to dress before being taken to the cell! This same fellow actually went back to the US believing he had a deal that would see him discharged with no jail time but when he got back to Kentucky they ordered him to join his unit in Missouris. He then went into hiding again and is now back in Canada. He warns deserters not to go back because the military cannot be trusted if they make a deal.

NDP calls for Ottawa to probe U.S. deserter's arrest
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | 4:12 PM PT
CBC News
The NDP are asking the federal government to look into the arrest of an American military deserter in Nelson, B.C.

Alex Atamanenko, who represents the riding of British Columbia Southern Interior, told CBC News Wednesday he suspects the Nelson police were responding to a request from the U.S. army in February when they put Kyle Snyder in jail.

Wearing only his boxer shorts, Snyder was held in a cell for several hours before he was released after agreeing to a futur…

Alberta Medical Assoc. stands by whistleblower colleague.

Actually the complaint against O'Connor seems to be his "reward" for being a whistleblower. It is good that the Alberta Medical Association at least supports him.
The complaint really has nothing to do with his medical practice per se. Even if he exagerrates the situation the very fact that Health Canada reacts with a complaint creates suspicions. As the natives mention they have raised the same concerns for ages. Maybe Health Canada should sanction the natives somehow!

Alberta doctors support outspoken peer
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 | 12:11 PM MT
CBC News
The Alberta Medical Association has passed a unanimous motion supporting a doctor at the centre of an environmental controversy in northern Alberta.

In February, Health Canada officials filed a complaint against Dr. John O'Connor, who raised concerns about high rates of cancers and other illnesses in a community downstream from Alberta's oilsands developments.

Dr. Gerry Keifer, the Alberta Medical Associ…

James Laxer: The Significance of the Quebec Election Results

I find this an exceedingly interesting article. If Laxer is correct new national programs are very unlikely since the provinces must initiate them. This will weaken the federal government substantially. The Federal government can concentrate on building up the military to help out in US pre-emptive wars and national social programs can wither away. This is from Rabble.

Quebec, and Harper's 'Grand Bargain' of the right

The rise of Mario Dumont's ADQ, which ran a close second in Quebec is even more helpful to Harper than the mere re-election of Jean Charest's Liberals would have been.

>by James Laxer
March 27, 2007

The results of the Quebec election open the door for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to act on a proposal he made a few days before Quebeckers voted that has fateful, long-term implications.

Along with delivering so much money to Quebec in the recent budget that the Bloc Québécois has decided to support it, Harper declared that if Quebeckers elected a fed…

Paul Martin on Quebec election results

Maybe they don't want a referendum right now--or at least many don't but if they are not satisfied with attempts to rectify the fiscal imbalance things could change quickly I expect. It will be interesting to see how long the Liberals can surive. The ADQ and PQ could very well get together where they share common ground and perhaps influence legislation and certainly they can modify Liberal bills or force an election.

Quebec election result 'significant': former PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 | 1:02 PM ET
CBC News
Calling the Quebec election result significant, former prime minister Paul Martin says the Parti Québécois's third-place finish shows Quebecers don't want "never-ending referendums."

"This is the first time in almost two generations that neither the government in office, nor Official Opposition is a separatist party," said Martin, who spoke to CBC Newsworld a day after Jean Charest's Liberals eked out a minority victory …

ADQ becomes official opposition in Quebec

Given that the ADQ has quite a few right wing policies I wonder if this will increase Harper's position federally in Quebec? There seems to be a reaction to immigration in Quebec especially in rural areas. You would think the reaction would be stronger in urban areas where the immigrants settle. It seems that prejudice can be even worse against those that people do not have any experience at all with. I remember a sociologist friend at Brandon did a survey in his class on feelings towards different groups. The strongest prejudice was not against aboriginals as I had thought might be the case but against Turks. Most of these students have probably never encountered a Turk in their whole life!

ADQ becomes Quebec's Official Opposition
Last Updated: Monday, March 26, 2007 | 8:42 PM ET
CBC News
The Action Démocratique du Québec captured 41 seats in Quebec's national assembly, and with them the title of Official Opposition in the new minority Liberal government.

Action Démocratique…

NS gets funds for establishing wait time guarantees

Giving wait time guarantees not only will help to prevent long queues for some treatments but will also encourage provincial systems to invest in imaging and other equipment since otherwise they will be faced with costly transportation expenses to send patients to other jurisdictions. As long as there are no guarantees jurisdictions will simply refuse to pay for sending patients elsewhere since nothing forces them to do so. This encourages even longer queues and a two tier system where the rich will simply not wait but go to the US or elsewhere and pay themselves.

N.S. gets millions for wait-time guarantees
Updated Mon. Mar. 26 2007 10:05 AM ET

Canadian Press

HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia became the first province Monday to sign on to Ottawa's plan to establish wait-time guarantees for health care.

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement said Nova Scotia will draw $24.2 million from a $612-million trust fund -- announced in last week's federal budget -- to establish a wait-time guarantee for…

Many Canadians stripped of Citizenship!

This is rather surprising. A lot of these people probably have no idea they may not be citizens until they apply for a passport or old age pensions etc.

Thousands stripped of citizenship, CBC investigation finds
Last Updated: Monday, March 26, 2007 | 6:10 AM ET
CBC News
The number of Canadians who have lost their citizenship through obscure sections of the 1947 Citizenship Act is far greater than the federal government has admitted, CBC News has learned.

The issue gained attention at the beginning of this year when thousands of people applied to get passports after the U.S. toughened entry rules — only to discover that they were not considered Canadians.

While Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley says her department is only dealing with 450 cases of so-called "Lost Canadians," new documents obtained late last week by CBC News show that her department has stripped citizenship from at least 4,000 Canadians in just seven years.

They include the wives and children of Can…

Are Subprime mortgages a problem in Canada?

It would seem that we do not have much of a problem with subprime mortgages here. However, people can still suffer problems even with standard mortgages if the economy slows and house prices go down or interest rates rise.

The U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown
Will it spread to Canada?
Last Updated March 23, 2007
CBC News
Would you like a mortgage that lends you more than the value of your house?

Would you like it structured so that your first payments are extra low?

If the mortgage weren't structured that way, would you be unable to afford the payments?

Are you convinced that real estate prices will continue to rise?

Do you have a poor credit history?

Congratulations if you answered "Yes" to most or all of those questions! You're an ideal target for a subprime mortgage lender.

Of course, there is a downside amid all the fine print, as hundreds of thousands of American consumers are now finding out. Mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures are way up. Dozens of companies t…

Iacobucci Inquiry: The Right to View Evidence

Full story is here.
Fairness is contextual. This means I presume that in the context of his inquiry fairness might not involve access to the evidence against the three! Way to go Frank!
If the lawyers cannot be at these hearings it makes sense for them to simply walk out. Perhaps there is some compromise possible in that some of the evidence might be available. The Tory LLP people in negotiation with the govt. could perhaps work out something. Otherwise the whole process has zilch credibility.

The terms do allow Iacobucci to conduct some public hearings if he considers them "essential" to his work, and he signalled Monday that he will take advantage of the opportunity.

"I intend to take that provision most seriously," he declared.

But commission counsel John Laskin said it's premature to speculate on exactly how much of the evidence will be available to the media and the general public. He also dodged the question of whether the three complainants and their lawy…

Iacobucci Inquiry: The Process

If the lawyers for the three complainants cannot view the evidence what is the point in their even being there? This is what worries me about an inquiry that involves evidence that will be routinely be classified and as not in the public interest to reveal. How could one hope to have confidence in this process even if Iacobucci does find failings in the intelligence services? There still has been not a single person held responsible for the Arar case. In fact several people involved were promoted. Zaccardelli had to resign because of his perjury not because of the RCMP wrongdoings or errors as in officalspeak.

Inquiry into torture of three Canadians to be mostly private: judge Canadian Press
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 Article tools

OTTAWA (CP) - Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci is promising to get to the bottom of the role played by the RCMP and CSIS in the arrest and torture abroad of three Canadians accused of terrorist ties - but the public may never see most of…

Iacobucci to be "vigilant" about secrecy level.

While Iacobucci says he will hold some hearings in public it remains to be seen what the scope of them will be and how much of the other processes are made public. Most of this inquiry will be a meeting of the Torys LLP law firm with the Tories. Even much of the Arar report was heavily censored oftn against the wishes of Justice O'Connor.

Terror inquiry head to be "vigilant’ about secrecy level

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci is promising to dig into the roles played by the RCMP and CSIS in the arrest and torture abroad of three Canadians accused of consorting with terrorists at home.

But the public may never see most of the details he unearths, because of tight restrictions placed on the inquiry in the name of national security.

In an opening statement Wednesday, Iacobucci acknowledged his work will "generally" be done behind closed doors under the terms of reference laid out for him by the Conservative government.

He expressed…

Quebec polls show a minority --of some sort!

It would have been helpful if this article had given the exact date of each poll cited. If the poll that showed the three in a dead heat was the latest that would be quite significant. Harper does not seemed to have helped Charest and Charest's own comments probably are no help either. If a vote for the ADQ is a vote for the PQ then who is Charest to form a minority govt with? I guess the ADQ and the PQ should form the government.

Charest warns Quebec voters against minority government
Polls show possibility of Liberal minority
Last Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2007 | 6:35 PM ET
CBC News
Liberal Leader Jean Charest launched his final campaign blitz on Saturday by issuing a plea to Quebecers not to elect a minority government.

Quebec can't afford to give the impression of being a divided society, Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest said while campaigning in Trois-Rivieres on Saturday.
(Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press) That outcome would weaken Quebec's bargaining position with the fe…

Military Lawyers Defy Defence Minister

This strikes me as rather weird. Why would the lawyers defy their own minister on this issue unless the minister questions the jurisdiction of the independent commission? Yet he publicly supports the inquiry.

Military lawyers defy O'Connor on detainees policy
Last Updated: Friday, March 23, 2007 | 7:21 AM ET
CBC News
Defence Department lawyers are trying to block investigations into the way Canadian troops handle detainees in Afghanistan, even though the defence minister has promised they would go ahead.

Minister of Defence Gordon O'Connor told MPs earlier this week that an independent commission would review allegations that military police broke the law when they turned Afghan prisoners over to the Afghan government, knowing they might be tortured.

But lawyers working for O'Connor's own department are now at odds with him.

A spokesman for the Canadian Forces legal office said lawyers are reviewing whether an independent commission would be overstepping its bounds by revie…

Three Quebec parties all close in the polls

Perhaps the Quebec voters are just tired of the old parties. It is too bad that does not happen more federally although the Green party is gaining significantly. The NDP does not seem to be in a "surge". Monday should be an interesting election night in Quebec!

Changing landscape

Mar 24, 2007 04:30 AM
Chantal Hebert

Monday's Quebec election is really the second phase in a dramatic shift in the political tectonic plates of the province that first came to notice in last year's federal vote.

The polarization between sovereignists and federalists that for so long shaped the Quebec landscape is no longer the defining feature of the province's politics.

On the left and the right, the issue of Quebec's future has ceased to command the first loyalties of thousands of voters. They are engaging in the electoral process on different terms.

The result is a landscape in great flux, that will continue to change over the course of the next set of federal and Quebec elections.


Quebec leaders complain of Harper interference.

Harper sometimes seems to not be well managed. Comments about negotiating only with a Federalist government hardly help federalists in Quebec but then Harper is not cosy with Liberals (the Federalists) but with BQ (federally) who support his budget so you would think he would be against Charest. But then Charest was a Conservative. It is hard to keep all these chameleons sorted out!Anyway I imagine that all three main Quebec parties would be even more upset if Harper had not intervened and given Quebec a hefty equalization payment to right the fiscal imbalance.

Quebec leaders decry Ottawa 'interference'

Globe and Mail Update

LAC MEGANTIC, Que. and QUEBEC CITY — Quebec Premier Jean Charest urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to butt out of the Quebec election and told Canadians he has nothing to apologize for in using their money to cut Quebec income taxes.

Mr. Charest responded yesterday to Mr. Harper's comments saying that Ottawa will only n…

Another article on Benatta

It would be good if Iacobucci could look into this case as well but he will not have much time and it might offend Harper's good friend George Bush. Certainly the US would not co-operate.

Algerian wants probe to review his case
Man says his ordeal similar to cases of Canadian Muslims tortured in Mideast

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — A defector from the Algerian air force, detained by Canadian authorities just days before the 9/11 attacks and then deported to the United States as a terrorism suspect, is fighting to have his case investigated by a federal commission of inquiry.

Benamar Benatta, 32, who was held by the United States for almost five years, said there are important similarities between his case and those of three Canadian Muslim men who were tortured in the Middle East.

The inquiry, set up by the Conservative government in December to probe possible Canadian involvement in the three torture cases, begins its first hearings today. Lawyers for Mr. …