Showing posts from April, 2007

Prisoners in Afghanistan

The Tories can't seem to get a common line established on this matter. This certainly leaves them open to criticism by the media. O'Connor does not seem to perform very well when under the gun so to speak although he is no doubt well liked as someone who is stocking the military larder. This is from the
There seems never any mention of US torture in Afghanistan or the payment for prisoners and rendering them to Guantanamo. See this site.


Tories at odds with NATO on torture
'We have yet to see one specific allegation of torture,' Van Loan says as NATO boss welcomes probe

OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF; With a report from Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Reeling from the fallout over reports of abuse against Afghan prisoners, the Harper government has changed its position again, now disputing …

Closed-door meetings in Calgary discuss US energy security.

Interesting to hear about these closed door meetings. The press is virtually silent on meetings such as this. Canada does have an energy policy. Develop energy resources to export for US needs. As Laxer points out we do not even have a strategic oil reserve.

Energy security for U.S. = insecurity for Canada

What would Canada do in a supply crunch during an Arctic cold front? We do not have enough pipeline capacity to bring Western oil to meet Eastern Canadian needs.

>by Gordon Laxer
April 26, 2007

Today (April 26) and tomorrow, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an American right-wing think-tank based in Washington is the lead host to two closed-door meetings in Calgary. They are discussing ways to enhance American energy security by getting more Canadian oil and gas. Why are Canadians involved in discussing American energy security when Canada has no energy policy, and no plans ensuring oil for Eastern Canadians during a supply crisis?

The roundtables, two o…

Suzuki versus Baird!

I suppose it is not surprising that Suzuki would rake Baird over the coals. It is interesting that Baird claims the Conservatives are ready to fight an election over the environment. It would seem risky to do this given the Conservative record and the constant withering criticism of their plans by environmentalists. However, the Liberal record is disastrous as well. Maybe the Conservatives think that this will neutralise the issue so that neither party will win many votes because of the environment. The issue may not have that much effect on the outcome after all if there is an election.

Suzuki confronts environment minister over green plan
Last Updated: Friday, April 27, 2007 | 8:22 PM ET
CBC News
Environment Minister John Baird defended his government's climate change plan Friday, which included fending off a public confrontation with Canada's best known environmentalist.

Environment Minister John Baird defends his government's climate change plan at the Green Living show i…

Post Secondary education an election issue in Manitoba

This is from the CCPA Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The Feds reduction in funding for colleges has placed poorer provinces in a difficult position as they must make up the difference even if they are just to keep funding at the same levels. I don't know where they get the figure that one in four children in Manitoba is aboriginal. That seems rather high although certainly birth rates among aboriginals are much higher than in the general public and among those in their seventies such as myself.

University and College Education is an Election Issue
Filed under: Education — ccpamb @ 10:44 am
Like other public services, universities and colleges in Manitoba went through tough times in the 1990s. Federal and provincial funding cuts paved the way for a 130% increase in tuition fees, declining enrolment, the elimination of bursaries and grants for students, faculty and staff strikes, and deteriorating infrastructure.

In 1999, the provincial government changed direction.

Tuition fe…

Manitoba Election: Tories would ban sale of Hydro!

So here is the same guy who boasted about being involved in the privatisation of MTS (Manitoba Telephone System) saying he would ban the privatisation of Manitoba Hydro. Well if that is what it takes to get elected I guess it is a small price to pay. He could always sell off Manitoba Autopac a government auto insurance monopoly. Last time around the Conservatives thought it was a bit too risky I guess.

Tories would ban sale of Hydro

Updated at 6:26 PM

By Mary Agnes Welch

Tory leader Hugh McFadyen,and Riel candidate Trudy Turner salute clean water outside Manitoba Hydro's head office on Taylor Avenue.

A Progressive Conservative government won’t sell off Manitoba Hydro and would introduce legislation to prove it, Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen vowed Wednesday.
Whatever, responded NDP Leader Gary Doer.

In what could be the defining squabble of the election, the two rivals squared off Wednesday over whether voters ought to trust the Tories with Hydro.


NB Minister Open to User Pay Health Care

User fees are not allowed under the Canada Health Act and so if they were used transfer payments ought to be stopped from the Feds. Of course there are already under the table user fees (tray fees in private clinice etc.) and de-insuring of some items. The Canadian system is not very generous in what is covered compared to many other countries. Generally speaking all universal systems have been evolving so that more expenditures become out of pocket rather than out of taxes. This is part of the continual erosion of the entitlements of the welfare state.
Of course user pay is a misnomer since users pay anyway. However they can pay collectively through taxation on the basis of income or individually out of pocket--or more likely by private insurance.

Friday » April 27 » 2007

N.B. minister open to user-pay health care
Wants option on table

Tom Blackwell
National Post

Friday, April 27, 2007

A key member of New Brunswick's Liberal Cabinet has signalled an unexpected new openness to priv…

Moment of Truth for the Opposition?

This is typical rhetorical garbage from the National Post calling the opposition and environmentalist's names but it is true that it is time that the opposition stood up for what they supposedly believe and defeat the Conservatives on their environmental posturing. It is better for them to topple the government on this issue than on the many crime bills that they have lined up waiting to pass. Harper is busy lobbying cops to get out their nightsticks and lobby for his crime bills. Better for the opposition to get out their batons and beat the Conservatives on their environmental record. Of course the Liberals may have a bit of a credibility problem on the issue!

Moment of truth for opposition
Now that Kyoto is dead, do parties support new plan?

Don Martin
CanWest News Service

Friday, April 27, 2007

CREDIT: Peter Redman, National Post
Environment Minister John Baird unveils his "Turning the Corner" plan for pollution reduction yesterday in Toronto. The strategy calls for meas…

CAIR-CAN report on Iacobucci Inquiry etc.

Not a peep out of the government concerning any further investigations. I would be pleasantly surprised if anything at all is done.

CAIR-CAN Granted 'Intervenor Status' on Detainee Case


(OTTAWA, CANADA - April 4, 2007) The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) and the Canadian Muslim Civil Liberties Association (CMCLA) have been granted intervenor status at the inquiry into the cases of three Canadians who were wrongfully detained and tortured, between 2001 and 2004, in Syria and Egypt.

Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin believe their detention and torture was the result of false information being shared with Canadian officials and foreign governments. The inquiry will be presided over by former Supreme Court Justice the Honourable Frank Iacobucci.

"The Iacobucci Inquiry is a necessary follow-up to Arar. Justice Denis O'Conn…

Opposition, environmentalist slam Tory greenhouse targets.

The Tories are doing everything possible to avoid actually presenting a bill on the environment that could be debated in parliament. I wonder if this could be because any bill they would wish to present would be defeated and there is no Conservative majority on the horizon as yet.

MPs, environmentalists slam greenhouse gas targets
Last Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2007 | 8:29 PM ET
CBC News
Opposition members of Parliament and environmentalists slammed the Tories' emission plan Thursday, saying the government has turned its back on Canada's international commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

The new plan, which requires most of Canada's industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 18 per cent in three years, means Canada will be at least eight years behind meeting its requirements.

Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion said the Tories have abandoned Kyoto as well as Canadians.

"It's not a plan; it's a scam. There's no real effort to go somewhere where emissions w…

Saskatchewan and TILMA

TILMA is the Trade Investment and Labor Mobility Agreement. The Conference Board figures show great benefits for BC but the data and the technique for calculation of benefits were as this article points out quite suspect. Critics worry that these agreements are part of deep integration with the US and curtail the powers of municipalities.

Saskatchewan and TILMA
Posted by Erin Weir under TILMA , economic models

Today, the Government of Saskatchewan initiated a process of legislative consultations on TILMA and released the Conference Board’s assessment of this agreement’s potential impact on Saskatchewan. This document is the sequel to the Conference Board’s BC assessment, which Marc and I critiqued on this blog and in our paper.

I have not yet read through the 55-page document, but will provide some initial impressions. The Conference Board has retained its matrix of industries and regions, but dropped its GDP-impact scale in favour of simply treating the final “score” as a percentage of G…

Canada should not risk torture of Afghan prisoners

Not a word about US prisons in Afghanistan! Of course Canadians too have been accused of mistreating prisoners. There is no mention of the Iacobucci Inquiry as a positive step in dealing with issues of torture.

Canada shouldn’t risk torture of Afghan prisoners, panel hears
Maria Babbage, The Canadian Press
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2007
TORONTO — Canadian soldiers shouldn’t hand over prisoners to Afghan authorities if there are reasonable grounds to believe they may be tortured, an international panel of jurists heard Tuesday.

Instead, the Canadian military should consider building its own detention facilities to ensure prisoners are treated humanely, University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach said, echoing the suggestion of other human rights experts in the wake of the Afghanistan torture allegations.

“Under the (Charter of Rights), it is clear that a Canadian police officer who goes abroad is subject to the Charter, so I would argue the Canadian Forces are really no different,” he…

Manitoba NDP 7 point plan

Well its nice that in Manitoba at least privatising Manitoba Hydro can still be frightening! So Doer got the idea of a few priorities listed as a plan from Tony Blair! There is an election blog at this site.

April 24, 2007

NDP: 7 key pointsDoer unveils election platform


Premier Gary Doer unveiled a platform that promised seven broad initiatives to improve the lives of Manitobans, but provided few specifics on how his party would deliver results if elected.

The seven-point action plan is up from Doer's traditional five-point plan used in past campaigns.

"We wanted the seven areas as priorities and we didn't want to eliminate any," said Doer, who initially used the strategy in 1999 that helped him win his first majority government.

"I want to give credit to where the idea originated. It originated with the 1997 campaign with (Prime Minister Tony) Blair in England and I used it in 1999. Some of our ideas are our own and…

Harper's Hit on Grain Farmers

This is gives a bit of interesting history of the Board. It is so evident that the big grain traders are opposed to the board and the US govt. that it is amazing that so many farmers have fallen for the dual marketing option on the barley plebiscite. This article is a bit misleading in that although the plebiscite did show that only a few wanted the board removed from marketing barley at all, if you add those who wanted dual marketing (the largest minority) than you have a majority against the monopoly. This is what the Harper government conveniently did. The whole three question plebiscite was a cleverly engineered farce which as usual uses the sucker phrase "free choice" to dupe the farmers. I really do not have any faith in the Liberal's desire to preserve the board. They were about to sabotage it at trade negotiations as I recall. The Liberals were the Conservatives going slow as far as the Board is concerned.

Harper's Hit on Grain Farmers
Ag Minister Chuck Strahl.…

Tories unveil new climate change targets

The Tories seem to be doing an end run around the revamped clean air act. As of yesterday they were still denying that the act was dead but the continual dribs and dabs of policy suggest that the revamped act is stillborn. Many of the amendments are simply unacceptable to the Tories.

Tories launch revamped climate change targets
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | 10:28 AM ET
CBC News
Canada will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 150 million tonnes, or 20 per cent, by 2020, Environment Minister John Baird said Wednesday, in a speech launching the Conservatives' revamped climate change program.

Baird's highly anticipated announcement outlining the government's greenhouse gas targets for industry was expected in Toronto on Thursday.

But the minister was forced to release the speech in advance after it was mistakenly faxed Wednesday to Liberal environment critic David McGuinty.

Baird said the Tories intend to halt the rise of greenhouse gases in three to five years by forc…

Manitoba Election May 22

I have not been following Manitoba politics for some time. I used to be actively involved in the NDP during the Schreyer regime and later but the party is now so far to the right that I can't be bothered. All the parties are just slightly different shades and defenders of capitalism; although I guess there is green capital, blue capital, and perhaps the NDP is pink capital! Green capital doesn't even have a seat yet.
As the article mentions what should have been a very progressive investment fund turned into a disaster. Even I thought of investing in it except it turned out I didn't have any surplus funds to invest!
Doer has been very careful and moderate for the most part. The Conservatives have a new leader and the Liberals are far back in the polls. It is quite possible that Doer will be able to muster enough votes to stay in power but it could be thatj there are enough people tired of the NDP that they will opt for the Conservatives once again. The NDP came reason…

NDP joins Conservatives to Defeat Liberal Motion

Presumably the NDP supported the Conservatives because they want Canada to withdraw immediately or as soon as possible. However there is no chance of a vote passing to withdraw immediately so rather than defeating a motion that at least put a date for the mission to end the NDP is in effect leaving the Conservatives free to extend the mission and stay the course indefinitely. This is a piece of prime stupidity not a position of principle. Politics is the art of the possible not the art of being as stupid as possible.

Juliet O’Neill and Mike Blanchfield, CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2007
-- As MPs defeated a Liberal motion to halt Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan in February 2009, the head of the European Commission in that war-torn country appealed to Canadians to stay the course.

"It would be sending a very negative signal if today, for example, one nation, which is seriously involved here, would decide to call it off and to pull back its troops," …

NDP to support Conservatives?

This is typical of many news articles. Nothing is explained. Why would the NDP support the Conservatives? The NDP is opposed to the mission so it makes sense for them to vote against it. They do not even have the excuse that this would bring down the government at an innoportune time since it is not a confidence motion. If the NDP supports the Conservatives they can expect to be worse off in the polls than they are now.

MPs to vote on motion to take troops from Afghanistan by 2009
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | 7:17 AM ET
CBC News
A Liberal motion that would ensure Canada end its combat operations in southern Afghanistan by February 2009 is slated to be voted on in the House of Commons Tuesday, but it is not expected to pass.

The NDP is expected to join the Conservatives in defeating the motion, which was introduced by Liberal defence critic Denis Coderre on April 19.

A bill before Parliament would have Canadian soldiers like Gunner Darren Aulenback, from Springfield, N.S., shown…

More evidence of Afghan abuse

Why is there no question of transfer to US custody? US prisons in Afghanistan have also been singled out as places where torture occurs. There is no questioning of our presence in Afghanistan defending a country that practices torture. It also is the world's main supplier of heroin.

Latest Afghan abuse claims spark cries for O'Connor's resignation
Last Updated: Monday, April 23, 2007 | 8:54 PM ET
CBC News
The opposition made calls for the defence minister's resignation Monday, after the publication of a damning report about the torture Afghan detainees face when Canadian soldiers transfer them to Afghan security forces.

The Globe and Mail published interviews Monday with 30 men who say they were beaten, starved, frozen and choked after they were handed over to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, a notorious intelligence police force.

Some of the men said they were whipped with bundles of electrical cables until they fell unconscious. Others said they were s…

Baird expected to announce new emissions regulations

While the revised clean air act is still awaiting legislative approval the Conservatives keep announcing new environmental programs while spouting scary rhetoric about the recent bill sponsored by the Liberals that has already passed parliament. Where does all this end? In an election. Perhaps the Conservative strategy is to make the debate on the environment so absurd that people will become cynical and not vote on the basis of environmental issues at all!

Feds expected to introduce emission targets this week
Last Updated: Monday, April 23, 2007 | 8:34 AM ET
CBC News
Federal Environment Minister John Baird is expected to announce new regulations this week that would force industrial polluters in Canada to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

The plan will be part of the Harper government's response to the revamped version of its environment bill, now called the clean air and climate change act. The original clean air act was drastically rewritten by a special Commons committe…

The Press role in the Arar Case

This is a long article available at the Walrus website. The article analyses in great detail the press reaction to Arar and the shameful parade of leaked material from anonymous sources meant to damage his reputation. It is well worth reading in its entirety. This is the second good article in Walrus on the Arar case. However the article misses out the fact that Zaccardelli denied his early testimony that he knew for some time that Arar was not a terrorist. In fact he contradicted himself in later testimony claiming that he did not know until the O'Connor inquiry. In fact this denial and retraction of the testimony cited here is what led to his resignation. Surely the author should have noted this! An amazing oversight.

Hear No Evil, Write No Lies
« page 1 of 6 »
Maher Arar was portrayed as a sly fox, a predator working with al-Qaeda. He turned out to be a hare, an innocent family man.

by Andrew Mitrovica
Photographs by Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford
Published in the December/Januar…

Buzz Hargrove on Kyoto

Hargrove is reliable in fighting for his constituency but otherwise he is an opportunist at times. Not surprisingly he wants to get old cars off the road. This will he no doubt hopes create more new car sales and work for his union workers. When it comes to gas guzzlers he thinks it is wrong to promote 4 cylinder imports over the less efficient union made vehicles! Aren't the foreign assembly plants in Canada unionised?

Buzz on Kyoto
Posted by Andrew Jackson under labour market , climate change

From today’s FP - I’ve dropped the misleading headline - this is a much more reasoned piece than some recently and widely circulated short quotes from Buzz on the implications of Kyoto for workers.

Friday, April 20, 2007

As the president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, I often find myself taking controversial positions, usually with a strong opinion on one side of the debate. But on the issue of the environment I find myself actually taking a position in the middle. I’m not used to that.

On t…