Showing posts from February, 2008

Seat projections and vote percentage Alberta election

These projections are as of Feb. 13 with the number of seats at dissolution in parentheses: These statistics are from Democratic Space.
Seats Cons 62(60) Lib 16(16) NDP 4(4) Green 0(0) Wild Rose A. 1(1)

Vote % Cons. 49.8 Lib. 24.5 NDP 10.2 Green 6.1 Wild Rose 7.42
Other 2.0

A poll about a week later by Leger that includes only decided voters gives percentage as follows:This is from NoDice.

PC 35 Lib 23 NDP 7 Green 4 Wild Rose Alliance 8 Undecided 23

There are quite a few undecided but probably many are Conservatives or people who don't like any of the parties! It seems likely that the Conservatives will come through the election without losing too many seats.

Censorship by stealth..

No doubt some right wingers offended by some of the materials that get tax breaks will be happy with this move but as Toronto lawyer David Zitzerman of Goodmans LLP says the government's plans smack of "closet censorship", and as the Globe and Mail article notes the legislation could violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Toronto lawyer David Zitzerman of Goodmans LLP says the government's plans smack of "closet censorship."

"The proposed new initiative, if not properly crafted, could potentially violate the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] and lead to possible legal challenges against the Minister of Canadian Heritage," Mr. Zitzerman said yesterday. "Such a provision could potentially lead to the government acting as 'morality police.' The existing definitions of pornography and obscenity in the Criminal Code should be sufficient for the government's purposes.

"Would this committee put money into Juno? It might not want to…

Alberta election polls.

Recent polls are available at nodice.. There is another more recent Leger poll but here are the results of a recent Angus Reid poll:

Conservatives 42 per cent.
Liberals 31
Wild Rose Alliance 10
Green 8

Although the concentration of votes is importance the NDP Wild Rose Alliance and Greens do not seem likely to gain many seats. The Conservatives look safe enough all the Liberals apparently have some momentum.

Philippine Folk Dances: Carinosa, Tiklos

My wife is teaching some elementary school kids two Philippine folk dances in a rural school nearby. You Tube has excellent videos of the two dances: carinosa and tiklos. There are links to a wealth of other material as well.

American voters to have say on NAFTA

It certainly is a great idea to open NAFTA. Open it and throw it in the garbage. NAFTA is not a free trade agreement so much as an agreement that Canada will supply oil and natural resources on sweetheart terms to the U.S. and an agreement that we must share those resources with the U.S. It also challenges our ability to have an independent economic policy that might go counter to corporate interests. The dispute mechanism almost always shafts us with the softwood lumber conflict. No doubt the Americans haven't a clue about all this. The forces that want further integration of the North American market are not about to jettison NAFTA. This is pure rhetoric. Seems to me that at one time the Liberals were going to renegotiate NAFTA! This is from the National Post.

Thursday, February 28, 2008
American voters to have say on NAFTA
Job Losses Mount
Janet Whitman, National Post, With Files From News Services Published: Thursday, February 28, 2008
NEW YORK - Blaming free trade for an exodus …

Government loses court battle over Wheat Board barley monopoly

It will be interesting if the Conservatives make this a confidence motion. If so we could again see the Liberals sitting on their hands. They are not about to go to an election because of the polls and particularly on this issue. To half the country the whole issue would be mainly irrelevant! The big issue would be when (not if) the Conservatives try to take away the wheat marketing monopoly from the Board. A plebiscite on that issue might fail even if the Conservatives make a mockery of the format again by giving three choices.

Government loses court battle to crack barley monopoly
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 8:20 PM CT
The Canadian Press
The federal government's attempt to strip the Canadian Wheat Board of its barley monopoly was rejected by a court for a second time Tuesday, setting the stage for a showdown with the opposition in Parliament.
The Federal Court of Appeal in Winnipeg upheld a lower court ruling from last year, which said the Conservative cabinet exceede…

Its the Polls Stupid!

Anyone who thought otherwise didn't check the polls. The Liberals are nowhere near having an edge on the Conservatives let alone forming a majority government. Canadians do not want an election now translates as: The Liberal polls are not good. Ignatieff probably dictated the surrender speech to Dion.
The Liberals are depending upon a downturn in the economy, errors by the Conservatives, and public amnesia to win a later election.

Liberals will support Tory budget: Dion
NDP, Bloc won't support Flaherty's fiscal plan
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 5:55 PM ET
CBC News
The Opposition Liberals will not defeat the federal government in a confidence vote over the budget, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said Tuesday.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said his party will support the federal budget unveiled by the Conservative government Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brought down a budget in Parliament earlier that was short on big spend…

Khadr's U.S. lawyer urges Ottawa to act.

Harper is not about to question the U.S. kangaroo court even though the court's lack of credibility is more than obvious, so obvious that the head of the tribunals had to resign for saying that the idea was to obtain convictions.
Harper knows that the Khadr family is well known to Canadians for their connection to Al Qaeda so they are not likely to care about violation of Khadr's rights. Harper is very supportive of human rights when it is politically astute to do so but otherwise it seems he is quite prepared to cater to his friend Bush and his cronies.

Khadr's U.S. lawyer urges Ottawa to act

Navy officer joins opposition parties to ask federal government to seek release of `child soldier'
Feb 26, 2008 04:30 AM tonda maccharles ottawa bureau
OTTAWA–The United States returned up to a dozen children and teenagers held as "combatants" in Guantanamo Bay to their respective countries, and might well act if it received a request from Canada to return Omar Khadr, sa…

Head of Guantanamo trials resigns.

William Haynes is the architect of these military trials. He was not supposed to reveal that they are designed so as to ensure convictions. If anyone ever had the slightest faith in these trials this event should disabuse them of that. Of course

Head of Guantanamo trials resigns

By Steven Edwards
Canwest News Service
Monday, February 25, 2008
NEW YORK - The Pentagon official overseeing the planned military trials of Canadian Omar Khadr and other terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba resigned Monday - just days after a published report alleged he'd insisted there be no acquittals.
As General Counsel at the U.S. defence department, William J. Haynes was a leading architect of the military commission system U.S. President George. W. Bush ordered established in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
But his alleged backroom insistence the commission produce only convictions provoked a rush of commentary - much of charging it proved the trials will be a sham.
"I am sorry to see …

Stelmach: Environment trumps economy.

This is from the Globe and Mail.
This is a rather astonishing headline until it becomes clear from the article that Stelmach's actions show the opposite. No doubt he is trying to appeal to environmentalists who oppose him. Stelmach refuses to say whether he has changed his mind on letting market forces determine Oilsands development.
Taft accuses Stelmach of not having a plan. This is a bit strange after Stelmach in the same article outlines his plan such as it is: reduction of emissions by 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. Surely Taft should have criticised that rather than complain that Stelmach had none.

Environment trumps economy, Stelmach says
Alberta Tory leader trumpets emissions targets but falls short of calling for controls on oil-and-gas developments
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
February 26, 2008 at 5:24 AM EST
CALGARY, EDMONTON — Alberta Progressive Conservative Leader Ed Stelmach has been steadfast about not putting th…

Early Waterboarding in the Philippines by the U.S.

The U.S. influence on the Philippines has been quite mixed. Most people probably are not aware of this early U.S. imperialism. Of course the U.S. did liberate the Philippines from Japanese imperialism and certainly most filipinos appreciated that but as before the U.S. has continually tried to use the Philippines as an instrument of its imperialist aims. There is a strong anti-U.S. current among many leftist movements especially those associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines but also among the various Muslim independence movements in the south.

Annals Of American HistoryThe Water CureDebating torture and counterinsurgency—a century ago.By Paul Kramer 21/02/08 "New Yorker" --- Many Americans were puzzled by the news, in 1902, that United States soldiers were torturing Filipinos with water. The United States, throughout its emergence as a world power, had spoken the language of liberation, rescue, and freedom. This was the language that, when coupled with expandin…

Two-tier Wages, Second-Class Workers

While Hargrove sounds defiant about allowing the two-tier agreement at Canadian auto plants, Hargrove was instrumental in negotiating a no-strike contract with Magna so he could change his mind. It seems that labor is losing more and more power so that there are fewer well paying jobs in the auto industry. As can be seen from this article there has been a tremendous decline in the number of unionised auto workers over the years.

Two-tier Wages, Second-Class Workers
Sam Gindin When Autoworker President Buzz Hargrove makes new pronouncements, they carry weight within and beyond the labour movement – even when, as has recently been the case, they seem to undermine what Canadian unions have always stood for. What then are we to make of Hargrove’s defiant declaration, in response to the permanent two-tier system negotiated in the U.S., that this is ‘one automotive import that won't cross the border into Canada’?
The s…

Rural Alberta voters voice frustration in provincial election campaign

Most political strategists are probably relying on rural voters to vote Conservative no matter what and so do not direct policy discussion to rural issues for the most part. However, I imagine that local members do try to relate to their constituency more than the party leaders.
In spite of the grumpiness the rural voters will for the most part vote Conservative I expect. Rural voters are always grumpy aren't they? Wheat and other grains are at good prices so grain farmers should be smiling! Maybe those raising cattle do have a legitimate beef ;).

Rural Alberta voters voice frustration in provincial election campaign
1 day ago
PONOKA, Alta. - Amidst the sound of mooing cattle and the stench of manure, tired farmers gather for a livestock sale in Ponoka, smack in the middle of the Progressive Conservative party's rural Alberta power base.
As the auctioneer works the crowd looking for bids on the animals, candidates in the provincial election campaign patrol outside the ring deli…

More Canadians think Afghanistan Effort is about War not Peace

This is from Angus Reid via Yahoo. No doubt the change in numbers here is caused by the nature of the debate about the mission. Military spokespeople and leaders have been stressing the fact that continued presence in Kandahar necessarily involves military conflict.
We have an upcoming useless debate on Afghanistan in parliament in which we will be treated to no debate at all about whether the mission should end or whether it is justified in the first place.

Afghanistan Mission – More Canadians Think the Effort is about War, Not Peace
They feel the government is not adequately informing the public
Canadians are increasingly identifying the country’s military presence in Afghanistan as a war mission rather than a peace-building effort, an Angus Reid Strategies poll has found. In the online survey of a representative national sample, 57 per cent of respondents say the Canadian presence in Afghanistan amounts to a war mission as opposed to a peace mission. This number has increased …

Corporations refusing to donate to Stelmach?

Given that the party has 4 million in the kitty and intends to spend just 2 million on the campaign perhaps the party isn't too worried! The opposition parties have only a small fraction of two million to spend as the article shows.

Imagine the grumpiness of the corporate kingmakers when Ed Stelmach has that 4 million to spend instead of the oilmaker's likely choice, Jim Dinning.

Alta Tory insider says corporate Calgary refusing donations to Stelmach campaign
2 days ago
CALGARY - Grumpiness over a planned $1.4-billion increase in energy royalties appears to be costing Alberta's Progressive Conservatives their usual windfall of corporate donations as the party campaigns for the March 3 election.
"It's very difficult to raise dough in Calgary these days," a member of the Tories' powerful finance committee told The Canadian Press on Friday.
"The oil and gas industry feels betrayed from this government, and that's reflected in the amount of money we can…

No punches sent Stelmach's way.

This is from the Edmonton Sun. As the article points out, the other parties ganged up on Stelmach. No punches or not many landed apparently.
From media reports I have read Stelmach is supposed to be a bumbling debater but if this report is at all accurate he must have improved. The Liberal opposition leader does not come out looking too well in this account. No doubt Alberta bloggers who heard the debate may have different ideas.

February 22, 2008
No punches sent Stelmach's way
Leaders debate no slugfest

If this was a standard house- brand Alberta election TV debate, there's no doubt that PC Leader Ed Stelmach won the contest last night big-time.
Mainly, the gang-up didn't work, the four other provincial leaders - including Wildrose Alliance's Paul Hinman who used the provincewide TV hook-up to "introduce" himself to Albertans - didn't lay a glove on Steady Eddie, just as his predecessor…

Canada, U.S., agree to share troops in civil emergencies

This is from Canwest News.
Of course the conditioned response from the Pavlovian dogs in the Harper govt. and the military is that this means nothing. Why should not we as junior partners in U.S. imperialism share troops? If it means nothing why was it kept secret?

Canada, U.S. agree to share troops in civil emergencies
David Pugliese, Canwest News Service Published: Friday, February 22, 2008

Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal.
Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.
The U.S. military's Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allow…

Search for nurses heading to Manila

This is from There should be some aid program associated with recruiting health care workers from developing countries. It is very expensive to train nurses. The Philippines seem to be a global center for training employees for other countries. There is some advantage to the Philippines in that oversease workers remit huge sums to the Philippines to aid families at home survive. At the same time, Philippine hospitals themselves are short of nurses not because of lack of supply but because of horrible pay. We have a relative who recently graduated as a nurse but the sole work in her area as a nurse involved working for nothing so that she could get experience and then apply to work overseas! She ended up working as a nanny in the Netherlands. We hope she can come here later this year and at least start work as a health care aide if not a nurse.

Search heading to Manila
Pamela Cowan, Leader-PostPublished: Thursday, February 21, 2008
Building on the Regina Qu'Appelle Health …

Hillier: Taliban will see Canada as weak if debate drags on.

The Conservatives have sucked the Liberals into supporting a motion that achieves most of what the Conservatives wished and will commit Canadian troops to a mission that as the military rightly point out inevitably involves conflict. The motion as noted will not restrict military freedom of action in spite of what the Liberals may claim. The Taliban probably are not too worried about the Canadians but we have quieted any fears that the U.S. might have that we will not continue to support their policies with the blood of Canadian troops and the funds of Canadian taxpayers.
Most of the debate about Afghanistan concerns details about our role and length of stay etc. but the relationship of our mission to U.S. policy is hardly ever mentioned nor is the illegality and immorality of our joining in Operation Enduring Freedom from the get-go is never mentioned. We just get the mantra that the UN sanctions the NATO mission of which we are part. This seems to be a mantra that puts critical…

Our March toward Private Health Care (Quebec)

Interesting that the Federal Govt. is ignoring Quebec violations of the Canada Health Act. Both the Federal govt. and the Quebec provincial govt. want more private involvement and cost shifting to the private pocket all of which benefits the rich and investors.

Friday » February 22 » 2008

Our march toward private health care
Governments and parties are pushing Quebecers into the private sector by starving the public one

The Gazette
Friday, February 22, 2008
Claude Castonguay produced a report suggesting user fees and more private-sector involvement.
Here's my hypothesis on why Jean Charest ordered a report on health-care financing only to have his health minister shoot it down like an enemy plane.
The report was ordered in June 2007. Charest's minority government was facing Mario Dumont, who had just become leader of the official opposition and was seen as the premier-in-waiting. The media were full of musings on voters shifting to the r…

When think tanks produce propaganda

This article is a fine example of critical journalism. More and more research at universities is not funded by independent bodies but by special interests such as large corporations but now we have the military getting in on the act so that Canada can duplicate the military-industrial complex of the U.S. Of course we operate primarily as a branch of the U.S. complex providing support for U.S. hegemony and profit for U.S. military manufacturers--for example by buying helicopters and perhaps drones from U.S. sources. and supplying support for what was basically a U.S. mission (Operation Enduring Freedom) in Afghanistan.

When think tanks produce propaganda
At the very least, credible public intellectuals should disclose the source of their funding
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
February 21, 2008 at 5:48 AM EST
The war in Afghanistan is one of ideas and ideologies. Ideologies, in that the Pashtun extremist worldview is far from our own. Ideas, in that our society is likely to p…
This is from Canwest News.
Harper has cleverly incorporated most of the Liberal amendments into his new motion but still achieves the basic aim of ensuring that the mission continues basically as before in spite of all the flowery rhetorical flourishes towards mission change from combat. As MacKenzie and others have pointed out, combat in the Kandahar region is unavoidable. Also, most casualties are not from combat anyway but IEDs. So there will be more casualties and at the same time more expenditure on helicopters and drones as we support the U.S. military industrial complex. See this CBC article.
We can rest assured that the Liberals will support the new Conservative motion. However, we can expect a few disgruntled squeals first. The budget too will be passed unless some fatal poison pill is inserted in it. However, that is doubtful. Harper cannot lose. If the Liberals force an election the Conservatives are well prepared and ahead in the polls. If the Liberals do not then Dio…

Obama on Military expansion and on Israel.

This is from Obama's website. Typical of the bi-partisan support for U.S. hegemony that has its underpinning a military that is many times the size of the nearest rival Obama does not question military spending. In fact he wants to expand the military. So much for any change in US foreign policy! He may mouth a different rhetoric but he wants a bigger stick.If you read through the paragraphs on Israel there is not one single criticism of Israel or any single sentence about any rights the Palestinians might have. The donations will be just pouring in.

Expand the Military: We have learned from Iraq that our military needs more men and women in uniform to reduce the strain on our active force. Obama will increase the size of ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines.New Capabilities: Obama will give our troops new equipment, armor, training, and skills like language training. He will also strengthen our civilian capacity, so that our civilian agencies have t…
While it is understandable that Dion would not reject the Conservative budget before seeing it nevertheless he can be almost certain that it will not have too many goodies that would make it difficult to vote against. There just is not much left in the cupboard. The Conservatives are certainly not averse to an election anyway. My prediction is that the Liberals will likely let the budget pass after a period of squeals. Dion has already had a lot of practice in not standing up for anything but having the Liberal party sit on its hands.
The public memory does not last long and if the economy worsens and Harper makes a few blunders the Liberals remain in the wings as the default choice as Tweedle Ho-Hum.

NDP targets Dion over looming Tory budget vote
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 3:43 PM ET
CBC News
The NDP challenged Stéphane Dion's Liberals on Wednesday to oppose next week's Conservative budget, accusing the party of losing the "moral right" to call itse…