Showing posts from October, 2008

Ontario to Upload welfare and court security costs from municipalites over ten years.

This is a burden that was imposed on municipalities by the Harris government. Our present federal finance minister. Jim Flaherty, was a key member of that government and for a period finance minister.
Now the damage is being undone but over ten years. However, given the economic conditions in Ontario it could hardly be done in a short time.

Ontario to upload welfare, court security costs from municipalities over 10 years
Last Updated: Friday, October 31, 2008 12:19 PM ET
CBC News
Welfare and court security costs downloaded onto municipalities in the 1990s will be taken back by Ontario's government over the next 10 years under an agreement announced Friday after a joint provincial-municipal review.
"The era of downloading is over," said Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson at a news conference held by the province, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the City of Toronto.
Peter Hume, president of the association, said the consensus report released at the news confe…

Frugal Conservatives with more MPs feeding at the public trough

In order to show government frugality and that Conservative governments are leaner and meaner Harper has expanded the cabinet to 37 members from 31, rewarding
his loyal crew of MPs with bigger salaries but it should be noted Harper is moving towards equality of sexes at the public trough.. This is from the Vancouver Sun.
Note that since Quebec misbehaved it has one less cabinet minister. Globe and Mail.

Bloated cabinet strange way for Harper to show restraint
Frugality seems to have been shown the door as prime minister makes more than one in four MPs a member of the inner circle
Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver SunPublished: Friday, October 31, 2008
Stephen Harper has avoided tough choices, announcing Thursday a hefty cabinet that makes more than one in every four elected Conservatives a minister.
Fully 38 of the 143 members of Parliament on the governing side will sit in cabinet. That's up from 31 members before the Oct. 14 election.
What makes the size noteworthy is the fact the prime mini…

Sarah Palin the Commie.

According to US definitions (and some Canadian Bloggers) definition of socialist, communist, and Marxist, this piece of parody is probably right..

<>SARAH THE MARXIST: She takes the oil companies’ hard-earned money and “redistributes” it to shiftless Alaskans! “[W]e’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs,” she told the elite socialist rag The New Yorker. That means every Alaskan gets $3,269 a year from the State, just for living and breathing on that lost and frigid tundra, and that is also why she is America’s most popular governor. Because she is a Communist.

NDP sends BC Liberals a strong message.

This is from the Province.
Since a governing party has not won a byelection in BC in thirty years, I guess this should not be too surprising. However, Campbell's carbon tax is obviously not popular at all in spite of the fact that environmental protection seems to be a motherhood issue among many in BC. When mummy picks the pocketbook though or is thought to do so many contemplate matricide.

Thursday » October 30 » 2008

NDP sends Liberals strong message
Campbell gov't has battle ahead in May provincewide election

John Bermingham and Frank Luba, with a file from Jack Keating
The Province
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The NDP said they wanted to send a message to Victoria, and it appeared they did it in grand style last night.
Vancouver Parks Board commissioner Spencer Herbert was cruising to crush the Liberals' Arthur Griffiths, the former Canucks owner, in Vancouver-Burrard at press time.
Herbert was on track to take the seat that was held previously by the Liberals' Lorne Mayen…

Conservatives reject direct aid to auto parts companies

This is from the Star.
Now that the election is over the government will try as much as is possible in these times to go back to its standard ideological stance that the government should not be involved in bailouts. Of course do not be surprised if in time the government is forced to do so. It has already been forced to guarantee interbank loans in order to keep Canadian banks competitive internationally.
If one of the three big automakers goes bankrupt there could be a huge ripple effect. The steep decline in the dollar will no doubt help the auto parts makers in that it makes prices cheaper for US importers but if there is no demand that is not that much of a silver lining.

Direct aid to auto parts companies rejected - Canada - Direct aid to auto parts companies rejected
October 29, 2008 Les WhittingtonOttawa Bureau
OTTAWA–The Harper government is turning thumbs down on an urgent appeal for up to $1 billion in special help to save the Ontario-based auto parts sector.
A …

Our Intelligence Operatives our Immunized against Accountability

This is from the Scarlet Pimpernel.
This is from a longer article in the New York Times. The sections summarise some of the main reasons Almalki et al ended up in Syrian prisoners and being tortured. This also shows another way in which the contribution of the Canadian authorities may have been indirect. It is quite possible that the CIA told the Syrian authorities to arrest the men. However, the questions came from Canada or were based upon other data provided by Canadian intelligence.
The article also shows how unverified and inflammatory the accusations were. Yet Iacobucci seems to excuse these whopping lies and unsubstantiated labels as conscientious mistakes. It should make every legal practitioner''s blood boil. No one is held accountable for their mistakes or held up to any even minimal bar of care and caution. These are the people who are responsible for determining the balance of individual rights and national security that Iacobucci notes is so important. They obviousl…

Charest plagiarizing Harper

This is from the Globe and Mail.

Charest and the Quebec Liberals are shameless. Harper's comments and reasons for calling the recent Federal election are already fresh in everyone's memory! Charest may not follow Harper word for word just excuse for excuse.

Mr. Charest is said to have stood his ground, insisting that the campaign would underscore the opposition parties' lack of experience and credibility to manage the economy and that he alone was best equipped to lead the province through the economic storm.....

Mr. Charest's comments appeared to indicate that he had already made up his mind. He insisted that in times of economic hardship, the province would be better off with a steady hand at the helm, suggesting that a majority government is needed.
“It seems clear enough when you're in an [economic] situation like this, and you are in a minority, that means there are three pairs of hands on the steering wheel,” Mr. Charest said in Mirabel while attending an announc…

Taliban rule returning to Kandahar province

This is from the National Post.
The Taliban are obviously building up their strength through these parallel institutions that are proving superior to the official ones such as they are. Instead of taking actual control and trying to hold off foreign troops the insurgents are quietly building a parallel government. Taking actual control is too costly in terms of casualties and bound to fail against the superior military forces arrayed against them. Because of these sorts of developments it makes sense for the Afghan government to attempt to negotiate with the Taliban to bring them into the government so that the parallel and official governments merge into one and the insurgency will be over in any areas where negotiations are successful. I would not be surprised if in some areas there are not already some tacit agreements in play.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taliban rule returning to Kandahar province
Tom Blackwell, National Post Published: Monday, October 27, 2008


Canada's living standard 9th among 17 top nations

So we are just in the middle of the pack and have lost five spots since 1990. Average income as a measure of standard of living is surely not very adequate. This would not distinguish at all social services among countries. We are lower than the US in average income but our health care system is far superior for those not well enough off to pay for expensive private insurance or care. UN ratings of best places to live give different results.
Stanford is probably right that our concentration upon resource industries has in part been responsible for our lower productivity compared to many other nations. Jim Stanford talks about the bad effects of our high dollar! Where has he been the last few weeks, in hibernation? Our dollar is in the mid seventy cent range today against the US dollar.

Canada's living standard 9th among 17 top nations: conference board
Last Updated: Monday, October 27, 2008 12:34 PM ET
CBC News
Canada's standard of living slid five spots to ninth among the wor…

Manley considers running for Liberal leadership..

This is from ctv.
I guess Manley is considering running for the Liberals because the Conservative leadership isn't open right now.

Manley considers running for Liberal leadership
Updated Mon. Oct. 27 2008 12:52 PM ET
Fomer cabinet minister John Manley says he's thinking about running for the leadership of the federal Liberal party, but wants to test the waters and see if there's support for such a bid.
Manley, who has been out of parliament for four years, spoke about his leadership ambitions following a speech to business leaders at the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Monday morning.
"I hear from a lot of people in different parts of the country that they would like me to run and quite frankly I'm assessing it from both a political and personal perspective," Manley told reporters.
Manley says he's not craving the job but wants to test the waters to determine his political and financial support.
The former Ottawa South MP held three different cabin…

What if Iran attacked the terrorists at Ashraf City in Iraq?

Apparently the US attacked a village in Syria because they thought that it harboured Al Qaeda suspects who infiltrated into Iraq. Well there is a group of anti-Iranian terrorists at Ashraf city in Iraq. Maybe Iran should attack them in the name of self defence or their right to carry out the war against terror no matter where!

What if the Iranians decided in self-defence to attack Ashraf city the home of an anti-Iranian terrorist group in Iraq. Ashraf city is protected by the Americans even though those same Americans have the terrorist group on their terrorist list! Boggles the mind? Usually of course terrorists who support the US are not called terrorists at all. But these terrorists are not pure US supporters. They are Marxists and socialists who fought against the Shah and who supported Saddam Hussein at times. But then so did the US. Anyway what would happen if the Iranians who rightly regard these terrorists as a threat to them attacked Asraf city in the name of self defence? Wel…

Carney forecasts sluggish growth.

This is from the Star.
It remains to be seen how accurate Carney's forecast will be. Not long ago the government was telling us how the fundamentals are so good and that a deficit was not at all likely. But the economic future is still not very clear at all. Given that demand for resources will be down and costs of oil development in the oil sands probably already is greater than the price in some cases there could be a big slowdown in provinces such as Alberta.

Carney forecasts `sluggish growth'

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, in his first public comments since Tuesday’s quarter-point interest rate cut, signalled Oct. 23, 2008, that the central bank would reduce its trend-setting rate again if the global financial crisis worsens.
Other nations headed for a mild recession, central bank chief says
October 24, 2008 Dana FlavelleBusiness Reporter
While the rest of the globe is headed for a ``mild recession,'' Canada is entering a period of ``sluggish …

Another victim of Canadian rendition lite...

This is from the Ottawa Citizen..

While attention is focused on the Iacobucci report this fellow still seems to be forgotten in the Sudan. So much for all the changes that the Arar inquiry brought about. More of the same rendition lite and more lack of accountability of anyone in the government.

Mr. Abdelrazik, of Montreal, was imprisoned in Sudan at Canada's request in 2003 after being labelled an al-Qaeda operative by U.S. authorities. He has told Canadian officials he was tortured while in Sudanese custody.Mr. Abdelrazik was released from custody in July 2006, but remains stranded in Sudan because Canada has refused to renew his travel documents.Mr. Abdelrazik's case, Ms. Pither said, demonstrated that the problems identified by two federal inquiries had not been fixed and that "it can, and is, happening again.".....

Critics demand review of "culture of impunity" in security.

This is from the Ottawa Citizen.
The culture of impunity exists because the security intelligence bosses, our government, want it that way and have done everything to ensure that the impunity continues to exist. Both Liberal and Conservative governments have been complicit in this. In spite of all the Arar inquiry did for Arar, it did absolutely nothing to punish the incompetence and harm so serious that Arar was awarded compensation of millions of dollars.
If you read the government submission to the Iacobucci inquiry they were adamant that the torture charges should not be examined no doubt because it could impact on the civil suits that Almalki et al will bring against the government. It will be interesting to see if the suits go ahead or are settled out of court.
What I find sickening about the Iacobucci report is that he himself seems clearly complicit with the government in encouraging the culture of impunity. In spite of his own comments about the effects of labelling and c…

Abstaining no longer a Liberal option.

This is from the Globe and Mail.
So it seems that the Liberals expect the NDP or Bloc to sit on their hands and let Conservative legislation through. But what if they refuse to do that and force the Liberal hands to be sat upon. You mean to say the Liberals will help bring down the minority government soon? Somehow I doubt it. A better headline would read: The Liberals have no option but to abstain! This article makes it sound as if abstaining were Dion's idea. At at some times I think that abstaining was exactly what Dion did not want to do but he gave in to others who advised him not to bring down the government.

Abstaining no longer a Liberal option

From Friday's Globe and Mail
October 23, 2008 at 8:52 PM EDT
St├ęphane Dion was told by his caucus Thursday that propping up the Harper government is no longer an option.
The Liberal Leader, facing his national caucus for the first time since the election in which he lost 19 seats, apologized to his defeated MPs but th…

New Delay puts Khadr Trial in Doubt.

This is from the Star.
This will be interesting. Both Obama and McCain have said they will close Guantanamo but there might be an uproar if someone accused of killing a US soldier is simply let go. Perhaps, they might send him to Canada or try him in the United States. But McCain has said he would repatriate Khadr to Canada if asked. Surely Obama would do the same thing. There will probably be even more pressure on Harper to request his repatriation. It could be a hot potato for the Conservatives.

New delay for Khadr puts trial in doubt -- New delay for Khadr puts trial in doubt
Both Obama, McCain vowed to close prison at Guantanamo if elected
October 25, 2008 Michelle ShephardNational Security Reporter
GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA–A U.S. military judge has set Jan. 26 as the new date for Omar Khadr's war crimes trial – six days after a new administration takes over the White House.
Army Col. Patrick Parrish granted the defence's request for a delay after they argued this w…

Iacobucci seeks further disclosure to public

This is typical. The government tries everything possible to keep as much as possible under wraps. So much for accountability and the public right to know. The public has the right to know as little as is legally possible. This may very well end up having to go to a court as in the Arar case. What has the government to lose only taxpayer money for legal expenses, paying for both sides. The material could very well involve some embarassment with respect to relations with other intelligence agencies as happened with the Arar material.

Iacobucci seeks fuller disclosure in torture cases

OTTAWA — The federal inquiry into the torture of three Arab-Canadians is taking steps to force the government to disclose more information about the affair.
John Laskin, chief counsel for the inquiry, said Thursday a legal notice has been filed challenging a federal claim that publication of the material would undermine national security, defence or international relations.
It's now up to the government to…

How the banking deal was done.

This is just another example of how the Tories keep things hidden from the public. It should be noted that the Iacobucci report that was critical of the government-but Liberals as much as Conservatives- was not given to the government until after the election. It seems that there has not been all that much criticism of the Tory moves to support the banks. Given the moves by other jurisdictions it is understandable that the Tories would do this but it is just another example of the government that claims to be so much for free markets intervening to help them out and at the same time giving aid to a sector that hardly is consumer friendly with irksome fees for transactions. Perhaps the government could have given the banks what they want for termination of ATM fees, but no that would not be business friendly but consumer friendly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008
How the banking deal was done
Paul Vieira and Eoin Callan, Financial Post Published: Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chris Wattie/ReutersWh…

Oil Sands slowdown

This is from Canwest news.

The cuts make sense. Oil must be reaching a price where the cost of production will be more than the price of the product given that oil sands production costs are high. Even at a reduced growth rate as the article mentions there is virtually full employment in the area. In fact I gather there is even a shortage of some skilled labor. A slower growth rate is not necessarily bad at all. Also, the environmental costs of oil sands development are quite high and not properly costed in to development. This is another reason why a slower growth is warranted. In fact many would argue that there should be a development freeze.

Friday » October 24 » 2008

Oilsands plans scaled back
Partners may delay $10-billion upgrader near Edmonton

Canwest News Service
Friday, October 24, 2008
EDMONTON - Alberta's oilsands expansion plans took a multibillion-dollar blow Thursday with news that Suncor will cut spending on capital projects and that a proposed upgrader northeast of Ed…

Pressure to change Wheat Board mandate should ease: Pat Martin

This is from the Winnipeg Free Press.
Given that it is part of the Conservative platform to do away with single desk selling, it is unlikely that the Conservative government will just drop the issue. However, the economy will probably be the first priority for a while. We will see. The Conservatives may feel they can try and push something through while the Liberals are weak. If they did make the issue a confidence motion then it would be unlikely that the opposition would try to defeat them on it any time soon!

Wheat Board pressure should ease: Martin
bylineParse('By Mia Rabson')
By: Mia Rabson
Updated: October 23 at 11:09 AM CDT

Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin says the Conservatives failure to secure a majority government and the economic downturn should mean the pressure will come off the Canadian Wheat Board.
“I believe the Conservatives did not get a mandate to kill the Canadian Wheat Board,” Martin said today, at an unrelated press conference on Parliament Hill.
“Canadians will…

Kerry Pither on the Iacobucci report

This is from Kerry Pither's blog. Pither wrote a book on the Almalki et al. I don't understand the distinction that Pither says Iacobucci makes between direct and indirect. Even if someone else were involved you could be directly involved and even if someone else were involved you could be still indirectly involved. I thought indirect meant as she mentions in the next sentence that the Canadians did not directly do the torturing (or even order it or the imprisonment). The full text of the report is in the links highlighted in her article. It is in PDF format. The Adobe reader came with my new computer and Vista operating system. However, when I use it I am warned that there are known compatibility problems. Nevertheless it seems to work after a fashion.
It was convenient that the report came out after the election. However, any blaming of government surely applies to the Liberal govt. as much as the Conservatives, although the latter are responsible for the restrictive terms…

Disturbing complicity on torture

This article shows how Iacobucci was careful not to make a finding of legal liability for his paymasters. The road to hell being paved with good intentions has nothing to do with the case. The intention of the operatives was to help out the war against terror no doubt partnering with the US. The intention was to use adventitious rendition or rendition lite as a means. The officials took advantage of the accidental fact that the men were in Syria to pass on information to the Syrians that got them arrested and tortured. Those are not good intentions but violations of the very rights that Iacobucci is supposed to be so worried about. But not only were there no good intentions, the operatives were incompetent. They labelled the three terrorists without good evidence even taking as evidence in one case intelligence from another agency that did not even relate to the person who was then labelled a terrorist. None of this of course is any grounds for finding anyone to be held to account or …

Aljazeera: Canada ''had role in torture".

This is from Aljazeera.
No editorial comments in the article. The article does detail some of the torture and also some of the reaction of Almalki. Almalki is right that the RCMP knew well that he would be tortured even though they deny this. As Iacobucci quaintly described it, this is wilful ignorance. He can't accuse them of lying I guess. Of course it is standard protocol to deny such things. There is a similar protocol when Syrian authorities assure agencies that they will not torture a suspect. Intelligence agencies seem to always believe them and cite the assurances when evidence of torture is presented.

Canada 'had role in torture'
Iacobucci concluded the men had been beaten and burned while in Syrian jails [Reuters]
Canadian officials indirectly contributed to the arrest and torture of three Canadian citizens in Syria and Egypt, a Canadian inquiry has found.
Canadians Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin were arrested by Syrian Military Intellig…

Seeking to do your duty conscientiously while indirectly being responsible for torture and imprisonment.

Here is a quote from Iacobucci from the CBC.

"I found no evidence that any of these officials were seeking to do anything other than carry out conscientiously the duties and responsibilities of the institutions of which they were a part," former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci concluded in his report, made public Tuesday, 22 months after the inquiry began.

These conscientious persons included some person or person who labelled El Maati as linked to Al Qaeda and an imminent threat to Canadian security on the basis of intelligence not collected by the RCMP and not verified:

He noted three instances of information sharing by Canadian officials that led indirectly to El Maati's detention. The Toronto truck driver was arrested by Syrian officials in 2001 when he was in Damascus to attend his wedding. He was later transferred to Egypt, spending a total of 26 months in prison.
The report said that in September 2001, the RCMP described El Maati to foreign law officia…

Income gap growing wider in Canada

This is from the Star.
Well Harper can be comforted. Canada is indeed becoming a more Conservative country. There is less government intervention. We have a war on terror that provides welfare for the military industrial complex but have lost the war on poverty and left it to be waged by charities and soup kitchens. Of course the Conservatives or Tweedle-Dee do not deserve all the credit since much was accomplished under the Liberals or Tweedle-Dum as well.
The marvel of global competition has provided great opportunities for invesment and also great opportunities to cut wages, weaken unions, and dismantle the social safety net that was won by the working class over decades. Thus we get a bigger spread between the well off and the lower income percentiles.

Income gap growing wider

Canada lags behind 17 developed countries; has no detailed plan to fight poverty, study finds
Oct 21, 2008 04:30 AM
Laurie Monsebraaten Social Justice Reporter
Poverty and inequality rates in Canada have been…