Showing posts from December, 2008

NB government will open door to private health clinics in 2009

As with Alberta, New Brunswick is doing away with local control and centralising administration. At the same time they are increasing the for-profit private portion of health care. This represents the continuing trend of making health care a for profit business rather than a public service based upon need and delivered at cost. Since many people cannot possibly pay for this very costly health care much of it remains paid for out of the public purse. However, there is also a tendency to offload costs onto individuals. In clinics for example there will be tray fees etc that will not be covered under existing medicare benefits.

The administration will be more and more "professional" as power is centralised in an elite who know better than those crass local boosters who are always out for their own local narrow interest!!

N.B. government will open door to private health clinics in 2009
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 11:27 AM ET
CBC News
Health Minister Michael Murphy wil…

Ignatieff targets Quebec in bid to rebuild Liberal party.

Ignatieff is taking advantage of the obvious mistakes Harper has made on Quebec. Harper managed to very quickly lose all the good will he had built up in Quebec and now Ignatieff is quickly moving into the vacuum to build up the federal Liberal party in Quebec.
Ignatieff has the advantage of speaking excellent French and his academic credentials and experience living in other countries is no disadvantage in most of Quebec. As the article notes if he can establish a physical presence in different areas this will help gain support.

Ignatieff targets Quebec in bid to rebuild party - Canada - Ignatieff targets Quebec in bid to rebuild party

December 29, 2008 Andrew ChungQUEBEC BUREAU CHIEF
MONTREAL–Wearing a long, heavy black coat and his black fedora, sprinkled with snowflakes, Michael Ignatieff set foot in Quebec City on Dec. 17 for the first time officially as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He was greeted by a lone TV crew curious to know his intentions and the agenda…

International Community calls for end to violence in Middle East

Gaza is like a large prison under the control of Israel which controls the flow of vital supplies into it. Israel expects that it can make raids to target Hamas militants without any response from the prisoners but this is not the way it works. The militants in revenge send rockets into Israel. This in turn provokes more reprisals by the Israelis.
Even though Gaza elects its own govt. since that govt. is regarded as a terrorist govt. by Israel the jailors do their best to isolate it internationally and overthrow it and support instead the Abbas govt. Since they have been unable to neutralise the Hamas militants they are now escalating the conflict even though the humanitarian consequences are horrendous for the Palestinians. The next step will be a ground invasion. The west will say Tut tut, and ask Israel to be careful about civilian casualties with the weapons provided by the US and of course the blame for all the violence will be squarely placed upon Hamas.
In the short run an…

Federal Pols completely out of touch.

This is from the Toronto Sun.
The first order of business for political parties is to advance their own power and interests. They compete for the support of the ruling class but also for votes from the public at large. As the article notes this group is less than two thirds of those eligible to vote. Harper is quite business friendly as is evident in his choice for his advisory panel. He has to in the first place make sure their interests are met. However, he has a core right wing constituency that he regularly has to feed policy morsels to keep them happy. Although he himself shares most of the views of this group in order to remain in power he has to at times accomodate to other more centrist opinions.
You can be sure that both Harper and Ignatieff will make noises about co-operation to meet the needs of the very people from whom they are so disconnected. They may even be successful in toning down their competition over the short term. However the main needs to be met first are …

ABCP: Flaherty confident risk to taxpayers is low.

If the risk were all that low, there would be no need for govt. backing in the first place. The whole idea of govt. backing is to provide a guarantee that financial institutions are not willing to give to the plan.
This is from the Globe and Mail.

Flaherty confident 'risk to taxpayers is low'
December 27, 2008
OTTAWA -- Finance Minister Jim Flaherty doubts the guarantee that he and three provinces put up to save a restructuring of $32-billion in asset-backed commercial paper will ever be used.
"I am confident that the use of this backstop facility is not likely to be required, and the risk to taxpayers is low," Mr. Flaherty said in statement released by the Finance Department yesterday in Ottawa.
The statement revealed that the federal portion of the government rescue is $1.3-billion. Quebec, Ontario and Alberta contributed the balance of the $3.5-billion guarantee, which became necessary after a previous deal began to unravel…

Harold Pinter playwright dies at 78

This is from AP via Yahoo.
As well as earning the Nobel Prize in literature, Pinter was famous for his outspoken criticism of Bush and his lapdog Blair!

Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter dies at 78
By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer Paisley Dodds, Associated Press Writer – Thu Dec 25, 9:44 am ET
LONDON – Harold Pinter, praised as the most influential British playwright of his generation and a longtime voice of political protest, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 78.
Pinter, whose distinctive contribution to the stage was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, died on Wednesday, according to his second wife, Lady Antonia Fraser.
"Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles," the Nobel Academy said when it announced Pinter's award. "With a minimum of plot, drama emerges from the power struggle and hide-and-seek of int…

Edmonton bird count for the birds, lowest tally in 23 years.

I can't imagine what goldfinches and a robin would be doing in Edmonton at this time of year. Maybe some bird watcher was a bit high having had a bit too much to try and keep warm. The birds had more sense and stayed wherever they could keep warm.
Here there were only a few birds as well. The house sparrows as usual but also redpolls and some black capped chickadees. We have a resident squirrel who is still active and raids the feeder almost every day.

Edmonton's birds of a feather count together for lowest tally in 23 years

Hanneke Brooymans
Edmonton Journal
Friday, December 26, 2008
'Twas the weekend before Christmas, when all through the city, not a creature was stirring, not even a house sparrow.
OK, so there were a few house sparrows spotted during Edmonton's Christmas Bird Count this past Sunday--4,158 to be exact. But overall, Edmonton's birds behaved like humans do when it gets bitterly cold--they hunkered down in the warmest spot they could find and didn't mo…

Liberals face their own economic challenge

This is from the Star.

This article makes it clear that as a supporter of the ruling class and capitalism the Liberal Party has to forge a new ideology. Of course as any libertarian will tell you all the crapola about free markets has always been that. There is not now nor has there ever been a free market capitalism. Just to give one crucial example, global economic agreements are based upon the protection of patents a scheme to ensure that protected products cannot face competition. Intellectual property rights are at the forefront of global trading. Another obvious example is the protection that advanced countries grant their agricultural producers most often. It is true however as the article points out that there has been an emphasis upon less government regulation and an increased rhetorical emphasis upon free markets. What could have been noted as well is that there has been increased privatisation and opening of areas to profit such as jails, ancillary health care services, sec…

Ignatieff warns PM against use of hardball tactics in Parliament

Interesting that Ignatieff expresses pessimism that Harper will come up with a budget that the Liberals can support. Personally, I think that it is unlikely that Harper will come up with a government that the Liberals will not support. Ignatieff would rather moan and groan and swallow all sorts of crap rather than go to an electon. Remember it was Dion who was in power when the Liberals finally decided enough was enough. At this point in time I doubt that Ignatieff has the least wish to provoke an election or join a coalition if he can in any way avoid it. Unless Harper really goes off the deep end as with Flaherty's economic update he can rely on Liberal support or at least that they will not defeat him.
Interesting that Ignatieff seems to think that things have gone too far as far as govt. intervention is concerned and claims that governments actually control the banking system now. If government has such control why is it they do not own private banks themselves and why are…

Xmas present for ABCP holders courtesy of federal and provincial govts.

It seems that the old free market let losers fail philosophy is now being abandoned by govts. in power no matter what their political stripes. Of course this is all just temporary. The enduring legacy for all these govt. stimuli, bailouts, etc. will be debts for future generations and in time no doubt monetary inflation rather than deflation. The next steps will be to further erode social programs and also attack labor unions. This is already being done quite successfully in the auto bailout.

Governments to back ABCP deal with $4.45B

Dec 25, 2008 08:29 AM
The federal government, in conjunction with three provinces and other parties, will provide a total of $4.45 billion in financial backstops to rescue a restructuring plan for a massive slice of this country's commercial paper market.
An investor committee responsible for restructuring $32 billion worth of non-bank asset-backed commercial paper revealed those key details last night, nearly one week after…

Ignatieff to keep Harper on short leash!

Harper being such a mad dog, Ignatieff will probably not be able to even get Harper on a leash in the first place. Harper probably has more control over Ignatieff than vice versa. My prediction is that Ignatieff will go along with the Conservative budget, for the good of Canadians of course, even though he might not like it. Unless Harper puts as much poison in the budget as in the economic statement Ignatieff will cave in.

Ignatieff says he’ll try to keep prime minister on a short leashBy THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is warning Prime Minister Harper he won’t tolerate the misuse of confidence votes or hardball parliamentary tactics when MPs return to the Commons next month to decide the fate of the government.
In a year-end interview with the Globe and Mail, Ignatieff said it’s “unacceptable” for Harper to make “everything a confidence motion.”
The Liberal leader says the prime minister inferred from the Oct. 14 election that “he could try anything he wan…

Top-court appointment bypasses review process

This is from the Globe and Mail.
Harper is very busy even though parliament is prorogued and he really doesn't have the confidence of parliament. Indeed, that is why he must be so busy giving out Xmas senate seats and now appointing a conservative judge to the supreme court. Again he has broken his promise to have judicial reviews. Maybe Harper is going to provoke the opposition in January and wants to have 18 senators and a judge already in place just in case. But then Ignatieff has blessed the appointment so who needs reviews. Maybe Ignatieff has already blessed the budget as well. Perhaps there is a blessed Liberal Conservative coalition as an Xmas present for the Canadian people.

Top-court appointment bypasses review process
December 23, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised the legal community yesterday by filling a long-standing vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada and in doing so bypassed a parliamentary review process that his own party ha…

Harper blasted for Senate picks

Harper always loved US style politics now he is able to dispense pork on a grand scale taking advantage of our special Canadian characteristics of appointing people to our senate unlike the US. All those Conservative hacks and fellow travellers and august Conservative bag people have been awarded 130 k per year sugar plums until the ripe old age of 75. Of course critics may point out that perhaps Harper or a successor may have reformed the Senate by then.

Harper blasted for Senate picks

PM's choices include 2 journalists, an athlete and a philanthropist
Dec 23, 2008 04:30 AM
) Tonda MacCharles Bruce Campion-Smith Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA–Prime Minister Stephen Harper has tapped the ranks of card-carrying Conservatives and others sympathetic to his agenda to fill 18 Senate vacancies, a move critics blasted as an abuse of power at a time when opposition parties are threatening to topple the minority government.
Harper's patronage appointments include broadcasters Mike Duffy and Pamela Wa…

Alberta: Big budget deficit for health care.

This is from the Edmonton Sun.

It is somewhat surprising that the government allowed the regional health authorities to submit such large deficit budgets. As Swann the Liberal leader points out it would seem that the government is not paying too much attention to health care professionals. With the new superboard lacking representation from medical professionals but with plenty of business representatives it is not clear that the new regime will be at all sensitive to patient needs or listen to the concerns of professionals and with the abolition of regional health authorities regional needs will count for less as well.

December 22, 2008
Big budget deficit for health care
Department bleeding red ink
CALGARY -- As the province gets set to revamp health care in the new year, including ditching premiums in January, the ministry has become plagued with a large deficit.
A source told The Canadian Press that the health…

If you cant get elected get appointed to Senate

Interesting that Harper thinks that not only do Senators not need to be elected they can even be defeated candidates providing they are Harper loyalists.

Defeated MP Manning lands Senate seat
Last Updated: Monday, December 22, 2008 3:28 PM NT
CBC News
Fabian Manning, centre, seen during an August appearance in his riding with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has been appointed to the Senate. (CBC)
Fabian Manning, a Conservative defeated just two months ago in the federal election, was appointed Monday to the Senate.
Manning is one of 18 appointees that Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced for the upper chamber. Other high-profile appointees include CTV broadcaster Mike Duffy, Olympic skiing champion Nancy Greene Raine and former broadcaster Pamela Wallin.
Manning, 44, lost a bid for re-election in Avalon riding, and was unable to push back against the "anything but Conservative" campaign that Premier Danny Williams waged against Harper and the federal Conservatives.
Manning and Wi…

Harper Senate Appointments

Most of the appoiintees I know little about. I assume most have some Conserative connections. Pamela Wallin also served on the Manley Afghan independent farce. Maybe Harper has a crush on her. There are not that many women. I wonder if Duffy will still have his Mike Duffy live. Maybe he could broadcast from the Senate.

That Harper did this while the house was prorogued and while he clearly did not have the confidence of the parliament shows how little respect he has for the parliamentary system. Harper says that the appointments should be made by an elected govt. even though that govt. did not have the confidence of parliament which is why he got parliament prorogued. Actually more people voted for the parties in the coalition than for the Conservatives.

Wallin, Duffy among 18 named to fill Senate seats
Last Updated: Monday, December 22, 2008 2:17 PM ET
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks away following a television interview with Mike Duffy in Ottawa in February 2007. (Tom Hanso…

Harper readies to fill 18 Senate seats.

After managing to get parliament prorogued to save his government from certain defeat because it did not have the confidence of the house, Harper now fills 18 Senate seats during the period of prorogation. Of course he can get away with it even though it is certainly at the very least unseemly in a parliamentary system.
The Great Foe of an unelected Senate now is appointing 18 senators at one stroke the most in human history. Certainly Harper is no Grinch but the Great Santa dispensing plums of patronage. Of course Santa Claus is hardly giving out these rewards just to show Xmas spirit. Harper wants to ensure that these vacancies are filled before parliament resumes just in case by some mischance the coalition could end up governing if his government loses the confidence of the house again.

Harper readies to fill 18 Senate seats
Last Updated: Monday, December 22, 2008 10:12 AM ET
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to appoint 18 Conservatives to the Senate on Monday, …

Abitibi Bowater urges N.L. govt. to repeal "illegal'' bill.

In closing the mill it would seem that Abitibi Bowater broke a longstanding contract with the government. As such it would seem that although the N.L. govt. would be required to pay some compensation for assets it expropriates the requirements of the NAFTA bill would not apply as far as paying for lost profits etc. Williams in fact agrees to partial compensation. Williams stands up for his province against the attempts of corporations to bully him. As he himself has mentioned the result has been successful negotiations re the oil industry. No doubt he will try to achieve something of the same sort with Abitibi and will refused to be cowed into submission.

AbitibiBowater urges N.L. government to repeal 'illegal' bill: letter
Last Updated: Friday, December 19, 2008 4:11 PM ET
CBC News
The paper company embroiled in a dispute with the Newfoundland and Labrador government over assets attached to its mill in Grand Falls-Windsor threatened Friday to take the government to court but Pre…

Flaherty's Advisory Council

Interesting that a provincial Liberal is chosen as chairmperson. Harper loves to co-opt Liberals as a show of bipartisanship. It also shows that some Liberals are conservative enough that Harper can rely upon them. John Manley was another example.
All the rest of the members are prominent business people. There is nary a labor rep. to be seen and nothing from consumers or any other interest group. A dollar a year is plenty to pay a bunch of business types to present ideas that will in effect represent a form of lobbying for a business friendly budget. It saves a bundle in lobbying fees.

Flaherty's advisory council
Canadians from business, academe will get a dollar a year for their help
Last Updated: Thursday, December 18, 2008 9:14 PM ET CBC News
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced a 11-member advisory panel of prominent Canadians who will advise him on the federal budget and the economy. He said the members will be paid a dollar a year for their insight.
Carole Taylor, shown a…

Auto workers face pay, job cuts under U.S. bailout

This is from the Star.

One aspect of the crisis that is little emphasized is the manner in which it enables corporations to attack union benefits. To be competitive with foreign automakers that are established in US states with very weak labor legislation the Detroit workers will have to give up all the benefits they have spent years fighting for. The recession and the bail out terms have achieved what the corporations could never achieve on their own.
Also, the financial crisis has offered up some opportunities for concentration of capital by buying out distressed firms at firesale prices. Apparently Harper will also sell some of our crown assets into this distressed market at all making sure his friends get bargains.

Notice the difference in the treatment of autoworkers and the financial wheeler dealers who brought on this mess. They are still getting bonuses that actually add up to billions to ensure that they stay on over the crisis period!

Auto workers face pay, job cuts under U.S. …

Harper the Evasive

Just a short time ago Harper was firm on a withdrawal in December 2011 now he leaves the door open to extending the time. With Liberals such as Manley, Iggy, et al he could no doubt manage to extend the mission with a little added piffle about peacekeeping, reconstruction, etc to soothe the Liberals sensitivity to hard combat. The reason that the situation is not yet quite as bleak as for the Soviets is that the same jihadis were much better armed by precisely the same countries that they are now fighting during the Soviet occupation or support of their own favored Afghan govt. If the US, Russian cold war heats up the Russians could support the jihadists but I think that is an unlikely scenario.

Harper dodges question on Afghan extension - SpecialSections - Harper dodges question on Afghan extension

But Prime Minister leaves no doubt deployment of troops will last until at least December 2011
December 20, 2008 Tonda MacCharlesOTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA–Prime Minister Stephen Harper …