Showing posts from November, 2008

New Video: Myths for Profit..

An interesting ten minute video by Amy Miller is available at this site.
It is called Myths for Profit: Canada's Role in Industries of War and Piece. The video shows the way in which our role of peacekeeper and aid giver has been stressed rather than the way in which we in effect have helped out the military industrial complex.

Harper has prorogued parliament before..

If Harper prorogues parliament it will not be the first time he has used this as part of his bag of tricks and schemes. He prorogued parliament in 2007:

Harper prorogues Parliament, sets new session
Could set the stage for confidence vote and election
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2007 5:48 PM ET
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday he will ask Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament, short-circuiting the current session, which was set to resume Sept. 17.
MPs will be recalled Oct. 16 to start a second session of the 39th Parliament with a speech from the throne, he said in a statement.

There is no mention of any need for the opposition parties to consent to the action. I do not know where people get the idea that it would require the consent of the opposition. Here is what the official government site has to say about proroguing parliament:

Parliamentary Cycle
Prorogation of Parliament
The prorogation of Parliament ends a session. This is done by the Governor Genera…

Spector: Is Canada headed toward a constitutional crisis.

Maybe I am a bit dull but I fail to see where Spector has pointed out any constitutional crisis. All he has shown is that the Canadian people may feel a bit miffed if the elected government is replaced by an opposition coalition. However together with the Bloc the coalition govt. will represent considerable more voters than Harper's Conservatives. It is not clear that the majority will be miffed at all. Perhaps they will feel relieved that a government that fails to consult the opposition when it is in a minority but instead tries to ram through an ideologically loaded economic update finally will get its comeuppance.
The governor general has the power to grant the request of the opposition to form a coalition govt. if the existing government loses the confidence of the house. Spector himself says he is not claiming that the governor general does not have the right to deny dissolution. So if that is so how can he claim there is a constitutional problem? Duh!

Is Canada headed towa…

Conservatives listen in to NDP caucus on coalition

The Conservatives not only listened in they recorded and then released the tape or parts of it. One segment does indicate that the NDP had cleared with the Bloc the idea of forming a coalition with the Liberals if the right opportunity presented itself. That opportunity did present itself with the Flaherty economic update that all three opposition parties reject. Apparently the Conservatives regard all this as a dark plot against the Canadian people and democracy rather than a prudent plan for replacing the Conservatives if they presented policy that none of the opposition parties could accept. The Conservatives must be miffed that the opposition had a resistance plan when they thought they could just run anything they wanted through the Liberals.
The Conservatives have already backed down on their plan to cut public subsidies to parties and also to take away the right to vote to public workers. But there remains the pay equity issue, the equalisation payment cuts, and the sale of cr…

Press, "Psy-Ops" to merge at Afghan HQ

This is from wiredispatch.The US is more and more taking command in Afghanistan. They will have difficulty recruiting troops from other countries to help them. They may have to buy some troops from East Europe or elsewhere.""Washington is already scheduled to send another 3,000 troops to arrive in the country in January and is now considering sending 20,000 more troops in the next 12 to 18 months, further tipping the numerical balance among ISAF forces."What we are seeing is a gradual increase of American influence in all areas of the war," the NATO official said. "Seeking to gain total control of the information flow from the campaign is just part of that." (Editing by John Chalmers) ""At least now the news situation is transparent. There will be no news just propaganda to further the war effort. No doubt news will still filter through.

Press, "Psy Ops" to merge at NATO Afghan HQ-sourcesJon HemmingReuters North American News ServiceNov…

Harper's constituents resent election talk.

This is from the Calgary Sun.
Harper had a minority mandate. He has shown that he is not willing to respect the fact that he is in a minority. As a result he is paying the price for his hubris in thinking that the Liberals must swallow anything he puts on their plate. Now Harper is paying the price in that even some of his own supporters question his wisdom in provoking the Liberals and causing this crisis when he should be consulting the opposition in order to make parliament work. The co-operative spirit is completely gone and not likely to return for some time.

November 30, 2008
Harper's constituents resent election talk

Constituents in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's affluent Calgary riding were fuming about Ottawa's political showdown that might send Canadians back to the polls, just six weeks after the last election.
"It's disgusting what he's trying to do," said Charlene Dyck, 46, a stay-at-home mom who voted for Harper in…

Tories blink first in showdown

The Tories should do more than blink. They should be made to throw up the whole mess of reactionary policies that masquerade as prudent responses to the recession. Both the opposition and the mainstream media refuse to even talk about many of the right wing aspects of the economic update:
i) The sale of crown assets at fire sale prices into a buyer's market for the sole purpose of making it look as if the financial situation is not so bad.
ii) caps on public sector wages. now that sure helps purchasing power and stimulates demand.
iii) doing away with the right to strike for public workers.
iv) cutting of equalization payments, a sure way for the Conservatives to lose seats in Quebec.
v) sabotaging pay equity suits.

No doubt there are many others. What sort of an opposition and a competitive press do we have when most of these issues are just ignored in favor of the lack of a stimulus package and funding of politicial parties. Even if neither of these were an issue the economic update w…

Flaherty economic statement draws fire in Quebec election.

THis is from CTV.

In most media the equalisation cuts mentioned by Flaherty do not even come up but obviously it is a big issue in Quebec. Quebec unions are also concerned about the public sector unions losing the right to strike and having salary caps as well.

Economic statement draws fire on Quebec election trail
Updated Fri. Nov. 28 2008 6:27 PM ET
The Canadian Press
MONTREAL -- While prompting political turmoil in Ottawa, the Conservatives' economic statement was also coming under fire Friday on the Quebec election trail.
The Tories' fiscal plan was being used by sovereigntists as ammunition against Premier Jean Charest.
The Parti Quebecois accused Charest of watching idly as the feds cut equalization payments to the province by $1 billion, and described the move as a catastrophic financial loss for the province.
PQ Leader Pauline Marois insisted the Charest Liberals knew in advance about cuts contained in federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's economic statement and did thei…

Liepert: Alberta ''pretty sloppy society"

This is from the Calgary Herald.

This is the same guy who hired a high profile Conservative to hunt for board members for his giant new Health Board.

If the cure for health problems and costs is to cut income, perhaps Liepert should have his income cut along with the highest paid executives in the Health Dept. As I understand it, delisting services would be quite limited because the Canada Health Act would not allow it. Anyway this would be cost shifting rather than cost saving. Liepert seems to be more concerned about cutting the growth of any democratic control over the system as much as he is concerned about costs. Otherwise, why would he not commit to bulk drug buying as other provinces such as Manitoba have. I guess his friends in the pharmaceutical industry do not like the idea.

Saturday » November 29 » 2008

Alberta 'pretty sloppy society,' says Liepert
Tough times will be good for our health

Renata D'Aliesio
Calgary Herald
Saturday, November 29, 2008
A squeeze on disposable …

Harper scrambles to retain power

Harper does not seem to be scrambling to retain power. In fact it is not at all clear what on earth he has in mind. The one way in which he might retain power is by revising Flaherty's update to contain some significant stimulus package. The Liberals would then be able to swallow the other parts of the poison pill including sale of crown assets, and Harper's blows against public trade unions and pay equity. Harper has already said he will not include the defunding provision in his motion. But Harper is content to lambaste the opposition and complain that the opposition has no right to form a government since they were not elected.
However the point is that an elected government must have the confidence of the house. If it doesnt then it is entirely proper for opposition parties to ask the governor general leave to form a new government that has the confidence of the house. The government so formed has the same obligation as this government to gain the confidence of the hous…

Manitoba premier hints at dropping public funding for political parties.

No doubt Doer wants to show his conservative credentials and distance himself from radical parties such as the Federal Liberals and federal NDP. It seems that only people who are rich or can attract dollars are fit to be MLA's. That Doer should consider this when the Federal NDP is fighting the Conservatives who are attempting the same thing federally is outrageous. Perhaps the NDP should cancel his membership card assuming he has one.

Manitoba premier hints at dropping public funding for political parties
Last Updated: Friday, November 28, 2008 7:56 AM CT The Canadian Press
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer is hinting his government is set to backtrack on a controversial subsidy for political parties.
The province is looking at changing a law, passed October, that awards parties $1.25 a year for every vote they received in the most recent election.
The subsidy could cost taxpayers just over $500,000 a year, with almost half going to Doer's NDP.
"It's becoming a distraction,&quo…

Liberals will try to bring down government.

If Harper tries to delay his defeat by procedural tactics this will be one more weapon for the opposition to club him with. He has already tried to weasel out of the situation of his own creation by dropping the party funding cut from his bill. But this surely will not work unless the Liberals want to hand Harper a wonderful Xmas present by showing that they are the same useless opposition as they were in the last session and are considering nothing but their own financial straits.

Liberals will try to bring down government: report
Last Updated: Friday, November 28, 2008 2:40 PM ET
CBC News
Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien refused to comment on whether he met with former New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent while on his way to his office in Ottawa on Friday. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)
The federal Liberals plan to bring down the Conservative government in a confidence motion on Monday, saying they have a viable alternative, the Canadian Press reported Friday.
But Harper coul…

Conservatives drop party-funding cuts from key motion.

After playing chicken the Conservatives now want to play more games. They want to entice the Liberals into supporting their economic update right wing agenda. It may not work. The opposition is drafting a non-confidence motion. When it passes they will ask the governor general leave to form a coalition government involving the NDP and Liberals.
Harper must hope that the Liberals will lose their nerve after the party funding issue has been neutralised. However, if the Liberals cave in they will look to be their old selves and in effect verify exactly what the Conservatives claim, that the Liberal opposition is solely about their losing funding! Harper may be right but certainly he is risking defeat without any good reason and giving the lie to the idea that he is now a team player interested in governing by consensus.

Conservatives drop party-funding cuts from key motion
Last Updated: Friday, November 28, 2008 1:18 PM ET
CBC News
The government won't include a controversial proposal…

Canadian troops undergo urban warfare training.

This is from the MEtimes. Many former British Colonies are becoming junior partners in US imperialist adventures. Our peacekeeping role is reduced to about zero. Of course our General Natanczyk has received a medal by the Canadian government for his service to US imperialism in Iraq. How suitable that he now head up our armed forces. We must be ready to stand on guard for US imperialism as part of the Co-operative Spirit 2008 .
Troops undergo urban warfare training
Published: November 26, 2008
HOHENFELS, Germany, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- A unit of Canadian soldiers is at a multinational training facility conducting exercises to prepare for evolving risks in an urban combat zone.
The 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment is at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany as part of the Cooperative Spirit 2008 training initiative along with troops from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, the Canadian National Defense Force reported.
The monthlong urban combat training in…

Harper: Hubris, weasel words and lies..

Even though Harper did not win a majority he is governing as if he had a majority. He actually said at one time that he would do this. However, he has also said that Canadians want parties to work together to make parliament work and sounded as if he was willing to do this. Yet the economic update is a deliberate provocation directed at the opposition and filled with parts of a strong right wing agenda such as selling off crown assets at fire sale prices into a buyer's market and also attacks against public unions. It also is an attempt to bankrupt the Liberals by taking away public funding of political parties. Harper let Flaherty put forth this pathetic and pernicious package because he is overconfident. He thinks that the Liberals will cave as they did last session because they are broke and without a new leader. Instead of working with the opposition to help the economy that is falling into recession Harper is playing cynical games in order to further a transparent right wing…

Harper wants an election for Xmas..

This article stresses the fact that there is no stimulus package and a plan to do away with public support to political parties but there are other quite important parts of Flaherty's update plans which deserve more attention:(
But that may not be the Conservatives' only source of opposition. Noting that huge salary hike expectations aren't reasonable right now, public sector pay increases will be scaled back to 1.5 per cent. And perhaps more importantly, the unions' right to strike will be "curtailed" for the next two years.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada has already agreed that desperate times require desperate measures and has said its members are willing to scale back their demands.
But how they and other collectives across the country will feel about having the right to walk off the job scaled back is another matter that doesn't just affect salary.
What else was in Flaherty's announcement? He confirmed that the feds will also se…

Tories move to cut 27 million subsidy for parties

Of course what should happen next is that the opposition simply defeats the Conservatives for this cynical ploy to place the Conservatives in a better position than the opposition especially the Liberals who are already broke. However, the funding helped most third parties who can attract less money from the moneyed class. The total amount is chicken feed in terms of the money needed to do much about the deficit. The Conservatives will do their best to cut any progressive programmes using the defict as an excuse. At the same time billions will be spent to bail out the economy and to support the growth of the military-industrial complex.
The Liberals should vote against the Conservatives but since it is a confidence motion and the Liberals fear Dion II even more than bankruptcy we will have a replay of the Hand wringing Hand sitting Liberals of the last session.

Opposition takes hit as Tories move to cut $27-million subsidy for parties
Flaherty expected to predict first deficit in 13 …

Leaders flex muscles in Quebec debate.

The slogan: Elections now the Truth later, could have applied to Harper's campaign. At this stage the truth about the economy is already out so Charest can hardly dodge it! The leftist Quebec Solidaire party did not get a chance to debate. They do have a website though. Charest is also playing a Harper tune in asking the voters to trust him on the economy. So far it seems to be working. Nothing in this article as to who is regarded as winning the debate. The sovereignty issue seems to be fading while the economy is coming more into focus.

Leaders flex muscles in Quebec debate
PQ, ADQ leaders attempt full-court press against Jean Charest
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:03 AM ET
CBC News
PQ Leader Pauline Marois, ADQ Leader Mario Dumont and Liberal Leader Jean Charest chat before Tuesday night's debate in Quebec City. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)Liberal Leader Jean Charest fended off his opponents who hammered away at his government's health care and financial re…

Obama Chooses Wall Street over Main Street

This is from Truthdig.Talk about getting the fox to guard the chicken coop. Obama has given the foxes control of the chicken coop. The great deregulators who helped get us into this mess and many of whom made millions along the way now are in charge of determining policy. Of course they change their tune but only because the old tune no longer sells. You need fear and a new tune. Buddy can you spare a hundred billion. It will be interesting to see what Harper decides to do for a stimulus package. It seems so far as if he is waiting until next year and the budget.
Obama Chooses Wall Street Over Main Street
Posted on Nov 25, 2008
By Robert Scheer
Maybe Ralph Nader was right in predicting that the same Wall Street hustlers would have a lock on our government no matter which major party won the election. I hate to admit it, since it wasn’t that long ago that I heatedly challenged Nader in a debate on th…

OECD: Canada to be hit by recession, 7.5% unemployment rate.

Harper is fortunate that the election was held before all this bad news. During the election Harper dismissed the whole idea of a deficit and kept claiming that Canada was in great shape unlike the US. Well perhaps in some ways he is right in his comparison of our situation with the US but it turns out that the situation is much worse than Harper allowed. Also, the decline in commodity prices is going to hurt Canada more than the US especiallly some western provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Canada to be hit by recession, 7.5% jobless rate, OECD warns
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 8:24 AM ET
CBC News
The global financial crisis could increase jobless numbers in OECD countries by eight million people, hit Canada with a recession and boost the country's unemployment rate to 7.5 per cent, according to a report.
The latest Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development outlook said Tuesday the world is entering the worst economic downturn in decades.
"We pro…

Quebec leaders gird for crucial debate

This is from the Globe and Mail.
Dumont must be using reverse psychology by admitting he has floundered as a leader of the ADQ. Maybe he should pull a Dion and claim he is underestimated! This should assure his failure! So far Charest seems to be on his way to doing what Harper found impossible, to gain a majority.

Quebec leaders gird for crucial debate

The Canadian Press
November 24, 2008 at 1:41 PM EST
MONTREAL — Quebec's political leaders were honing their rhetorical skills Monday in preparation for the crucial debate that some are calling the real start to the provincial election campaign.
With Jean Charest's Liberals holding a comfortable lead in the polls, observers point to the televised debate Tuesday as perhaps his opponents' final chance to turn the campaign around.
One Parti Québécois MP — Bernard Drainville — told a television talk-show panel that the real campaign was about to begin.
PQ Leader Pauline Marois will be making her leaders' debate debu…

Flaherty: Canada could face "technical" recession.

This is from CP via Google.\
Well golly gee lucky we aren't facing a real recession just a technical one. Maybe we will just have a technical deficit as well.
It is rather ironic that two of the most free market anti deficit ideologues are now spouting off about deficits being necessary and government intervention as well. What we need apparently is the heavy inefficient hand of government to rescue those efficient private enterprise corporations sailing bravely in the free market seas to discover new products and profit delights but now they must ask the bloated bureaucratic inefficient government for a handout and of course the taxpayer ultimately pays. The invisible hand is truly invisible and now everyone is also mute about its beneficial operations.

Canada could face 'technical' recession: Flaherty
18 hours ago
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy could be on the verge of slipping into a "technical" recession, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty warned Sunday.
In an…

Consumer confidence weakens on economic uncertainty

No doubt the fall on the Prairies reflects the steep decline in energy prices although the decline means that it will be less expensive to drive and perhaps there will be little in the way of price increases. That may not mean much if you are losing your job in the oil fields or related industries.

Consumer confidence weakens on economic uncertainty
Last Updated: Monday, November 24, 2008 8:51 AM ET
CBC News
Canadian consumer confidence is continuing to erode, and has now fallen to levels not seen since the recessionary years of 1982 and 1990, the Conference Board said Monday.
The Ottawa-based research group said its index of consumer confidence slipped 2.9 points from October's reading, and now stands at 71 points.
"The ongoing troubles in equity markets undoubtedly had a negative effect on consumers' view of their family financial situations and future job prospects in their communities," said Paul Darby, the conference board's deputy chief economist.
"The one a…

Vietnam: Cluster bombs a threat for 440 years

Of course the US does not support a ban on the weapons--neither do Russia nor China nor Israel. Countries that use them should be held responsible for clearing them later but of course this does not happen although as this article mentions there is an American Vets organisation that does help with funding. Canada does support the ban as I recall.

Cluster bombs a threat for 440 years
22/11/2008 -- 10:13 PM
HCM City (VNA) – An estimated 98 percent of victims of cluster munitions worldwide are civilians, with children accounting for one third of that number, according to Nguyen Thi Kim Hoa of the Landmine Survivors Network Vietnam . “An unspecified large amount of unexploded cluster munitions remain in the ground from the war,” said Hoa while opening a seminar on Nov. 21 on international cooperation on clearing cluster munitions and assisting Vietnamese victims. Cluster munitions are large-sized weapons dropped from the air or shot from the ground that produce hundreds of smaller-bombs when…

Poll: Rosy picture for Charest

This is from the Montreal Gazette.
The story here is the collapse of the ADQ. It looks as if Charest will be able to pull off what Harper was unable to do a majority. Even though Charest used some of the same excuses for an election as Harper the situation is different. Even with infighting and Dion as leader the federal Liberal party was not about to collapse in the way the ADQ has done.

Rosy picture for Charest: poll
Voters see him as best leader, by far. Marois trails premier 44% to 36%, while Dumont's numbers are lagging badly at 12%
L. IAN MACDONALD, Special to The GazettePublished: 18 hours ago
Jean Charest's Liberals are close to majority territory in the Quebec election, leading the Parti Quebecois by 44 to 36 per cent, with l'Action démocratique du Québec trailing badly at 12 per cent, in a Nanos Research poll for Policy Options magazine, made available to The Gazette.
Quebec Solidaire and the Green Party each received four per cent in the poll of 505 Quebecers, c…

Financing drying up, auto dealers say..

This is from the Star.
The government uses all sorts of our money to inject liquidity into the banking system to get credit growing and the banks simply sit on the funds no doubt placing them in safe havens but still refusing to lend except for the least risky purposes. It never seems to dawn on anybody that the solution to this might be for the government to buy a bank outright and lend to the car market instead of wasting time and money hoping by moral suasion to get the banks to act responsibly. Of course doing anything like this would not be ideologically allowable even for so-called socialists these days. I can remember ages ago when even the Alberta govt. bought an airline because it thought Alberta was not getting sufficient air service. It built up the airline,got better air service for Alberta, made money and sold the airline at a profit.

Financing drying up, auto dealers say - Business - Financing drying up, auto dealers say
Association calls on Ottawa to push …