Showing posts from January, 2009

Opposition Demand List of Crown Assets for Sale.

Not much attention has been paid to the budget call for Crown assets sale. The whole idea of selling anything one is not forced to at this time makes little sense. It is a buyer's market and prices are depressed. The sale has nothing to do with fixing the economic mess we are in and everything to do with Conservative ideology. I suppose that Harper had to keep some items in that will mollify his core supporters when he is doing so much that contradicts basic conservative ideology.
The opposition is right to bring attention to this issue. It is a leftover from the original economic update. I wonder if Ignatieff will bother to say anything.
I imagine that Iran will be one of the high bidders for AECL or perhaps it will be outbid by Israel!

January 31, 2009
Opposition demand list of Crown assets for sale
Opposition MPs are worried a Conservative plan to sell off government assets threatens Crown corporations like the CBC and Atomic Energy of Canada …

Afghan war costs 1,500 for each Canadian household by 2011

No doubt this will be a great stimulus to the military-industrial complex! Imagine if the war were scrapped every household would be ahead 1500, better than a Tory tax cut! No one ever talks in those terms though.

This is from CBC.

Funding the war in Afghanistan could cost a total of $18.1 billion, or $1,500 per Canadian household, by 2011, according to the Fiscal Impact of the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan tabled by parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page in October, 2008.

IMF counters Canadian budget rosy outlook.

This is from the Star.

Many forecasts lately have failed to take adequate account of negative factors. The Flaherty predictions are not actually out of line with others. In fact the Royal Bank gives an even rosier picture than Flaherty. However Flaherty was predicting no deficit at all back in Sept. of 2008.

IMF counters budget's rosy outlook - Business - IMF counters budget's rosy outlook
World body revises forecast for Canada downward, sees a less dynamic recovery than Ottawa predicted
January 29, 2009 Ann PerryBusiness Reporter
The International Monetary Fund expects the global economy to come "to a virtual halt" this year, and says Canada's economic recovery will be far less vigorous than the federal government and the country's central bank are predicting.
The world body yesterday revised its outlook for Canada sharply downward, forecasting the country's economy will grow by a sluggish 1.6 per cent in 2010, after contracting by 1.2 per cent t…

Ignatieff's first test.

This is Iggie's second test. His first test he flunked when he supported the budget. He pulled a modified Dion dodge by an amendment that would have the Tories issue periodic reports, an amendment he probably cleared with the Tories before suggesting it since they will support it.
It will be interesting to see what Ignatieff does in this case. Harper would simply turf the renegades out of the party. However, Ignatieff may be reluctant to lose his already small number of MPs and cause further dissension in the party as well. Not everyone is happy about his Dion II strategy.

Ignatieff's first test
January 31, 2009
Michael Ignatieff faces his first big test as Liberal Leader as at least two of his six Newfoundland and Labrador MPs are poised to break ranks and vote against the Harper budget unless millions of dollars are restored to the province. Judy Foote and Scott Andrews, have said publicly they cannot support the budget the way it is.
Mr. Ignatieff said this week his …

Liberals help defeat Bloc budget amendment.

This is from the Calgary Herald.

The Bloc amendment contains precisely some of the items that the Liberals complained was not in the budget and also it deals with the complaints of Newfoundland and Quebec about equalisation. No matter when it comes to propping up the Tories the Liberals will throw principle out the window. Of course this assumes they had any to begin with which is open to question.

Friday » January 30 » 2009

Grits help budget clear first hurdle
Amendment by Bloc quashed

Meagan Fitzpatrick
Canwest News Service
Friday, January 30, 2009
CREDIT: Chris Wattie, Reuters
Jack Layton's new Democratic party has launched attack ads against the Liberals after they agreed to support the budget.
The federal budget passed its first test in the House of Commons Thursday evening when a sub-amendment proposed by the Bloc Quebecois failed to win enough support.
The Liberals sided with the Conservatives and defeated the amendment 214 to 85. The New Democratic Party voted for the amendment, wh…

NDP takes Sask Party govt. to task as it offers help.

This is from the Leader Post.
Although Premier Wall has been a loyal supporter of Harper, Saskatchewan seems to have received little in the federal budget. If the Sask. Party is to avoid losing political capital it will no doubt have to change its stance with respect to the federal Tories. Harper has helped out areas where he wants to make political gains. In areas where he is safe or where he has been rebuffed such as Quebec and Newfoundland he offers little or reduces spending. This policy is part and parcel of Harper's principles!

NDP takes Sask. Party government to task as it offers help

By James Wood , Saskatchewan News NetworkJanuary 29, 2009

REGINA -- The Opposition NDP is offering a helping hand — as well as the back of its hand — to Premier Brad Wall as he presses the federal Conservative government for more money.
NDP finance critic Harry Van Mulligen offered Thursday to join Premier Brad Wall and Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer in meeting with Saskatchewan’s 13 Tory …

Australian economist is new head of Alberta health superboard.

After the CBC article there is another from the CP.

Duckett has a great deal of experience and has written extensively about health care and health care reform. Although he is not an avid privatiser as these articles point out, nevertheless he does see a role for private clinics. Although Duckett is very much for public funding of medical services he could very well support more private delivery---always in the name of efficiency of course. His salary seems to be ample enough to have lured him away from Australia! Half a million a year is not too stingy I should think but then I suppose if he worked in a private corporation with a similar budget he might earn more!

Australian economist is new head of Alberta health 'superboard'
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 2:53 PM ET
CBC News
Stephen Duckett will be the president and CEO of Alberta Health Services starting March 23. (CBC)
A senior Australian health official has been appointed the new president and CEO of Alberta Health …

Williams decries attempt to shaft Newfoundland

Harper managed to slip in some real poison pills to shaft those who gave him a hard time. Newfoundland and Labrador's Danny Williams is one but Quebec is also angry at the changes to equalization in the budget as well. Harper is going to try to get extra seats and support in Ontario rather than bother much with Quebec it would seem. He has already written off Newfoundland and Labrador it would seem.

Williams decries attempt to ‘shaft' Newfoundland
Globe and Mail Update
January 28, 2009 at 4:25 PM EST
The federal budget is a deliberate attempt to “shaft” Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Danny Williams said Wednesday as he called for the Liberals to insist on an amendment protecting the province.
His government says that equalization changes in the budget would cost his province approximately $1.5-billion over the next three years, undermining their short-term financial picture.
“We've had a very hard hit, when you do this on a per-capita basis this is huge,” Mr. Wil…

Tories support Grit budget amendment

So after relating all the faults in the budget Ignatieff has required only that the Conservatives give regular reports on how this faulty budget is being implemented. I just wonder if Ignatieff did not clear the amendment with Harper before moving it. This is the new Liberal Party. Instead of sitting on their hands as in the Dion era they are now in a de facto coalition with them as Layton points out. This is the Great Liberal Leap Forward.

Tories support Grit budget amendment
By Juliet O'Neill and Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News ServiceJanuary 28, 2009 7:01 PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government promptly endorsed Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's sole condition for supporting the budget.
Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters
OTTAWA — The federal government's survival was guaranteed for as long as a year Wednesday by Liberal support for the budget, in exchange for three "accountability" reports to Parliament as measures to stimulate the economy are rolled out.

Ignatieff Mum on Budget but not for long!

Perhaps Ignatieff may try to get a few changes in the budget but he better clear them with Harper first! There is no reason to be embarassed by failing to get changes and also voting to pass the budget because unless I am mistaken that is what he will do, not vote against the budget. Ignatieff can probably pass on this chance to defeat the Conservatives as long as he doesn't make it a habit as with Dion!

Ignatieff mum on budget; verdict due at 11 a.m. ET
Liberal chief could support plan, demand changes or bring down government
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 7:38 AM ET CBC News
Opposition Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was keeping his own counsel early Wednesday as Ottawa awaited his 11 a.m. ET verdict on the federal budget and, by extension, the fate of the Conservative government and the shape of Canada's response to a worldwide economic slump.
Watch the announcement and reaction live on and CBC Newsworld starting at 11 a.m. ET.
With the NDP and the Bloc QuĂ©…

A few thoughts on the budget.

One might call this a conservative leftish budget. Leftish that is in terms of Harper's basic ideological leanings. There is a fair amount of govt. spending even on items such as social housing, and also a considerable expenditure on infrastructure. Many right wingers will be disappointed in Harper and will cry out about the deficits and consider the bailout expenditures too large.
Critics however point out that the stimulus package is really not all that large and probably not enough to help the economy out of the depression to any great extent. However, there is enough in the budget that Ignatieff can agree with that there will be no non-confidence vote passed I would predict, even with some degree of certainty in these uncertain times. Ignatieff may groan and go through a few motions of dissent and criticism but what he will not do is to vote with the Blog and NDP to defeat the budget.
Some critics such as James Laxer on his blog call for Ignatieff to vote against the budg…

Oil Sands Group's Forecast too rosy.

This is from the Financial Post.

It remains to be seen how much longer oil prices will remain low. Of course for many of the oil sands producers oil must be far above present levels to be economic so the prospect for lower production and investment seems likely in the shorter run at least. In the longer run there is just not that much new oil available and supplies are going to not match demand once demand begins to increase. We could even seen another price bubble during the turnaround.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Oil sands group's forecast is too rosy
But investing in sector should pay in the long run
Wilf Gobert, Financial Post Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Economic activity is slowing dramatically around the world. Analysts are rerunning financial models more frequently and every iteration produces a weaker result. These conditions are especially true for energy analysts, given the dramatic weakness in crude oil and natural gas prices. As oil sands investments are said to b…

Budget could offer more than 2 billion for social housing: Report

We will know this afternoon precisely what is planned. Harper must have been listening to Layton. However Layton apparently doesn't trust Harper to do anything he promises. Given Harper's broken promises in the past that is not a position that is totally without merit! It is certainly weird that Harper is now touting expenditures that if the Liberals were in power would be regarded as unaffordable and likely to cause terrible deficits. However deficits now are apparently quite unterrifying and to be welcomed in the short term! It is Iggy that worries about deficits caused by tax cuts for the middle class!

Budget could offer more than $2B for social housing: report
Last Updated: Sunday, January 25, 2009 8:17 PM ET
CBC News
The Harper government is expected to use Tuesday's federal budget to pump more than $2 billion into social housing across the country, a move that would help seniors, the disabled and aboriginal people, according to a report.
The Toronto Star on Sunday quoted…

Tory cabinet reveals 6 billion worth of budget initiatives.

Government secrecy prior to tabling a budget has been replaced by government propaganda leaks to sell the budget. Some of this sounds like solid NDP policy showing that the Conservatives will do anything temporarily to stay in power. With what has been announced so far it is a safe bet that there will be no defeat of the Conservatives on the budget. The Liberals may groan and complain for a while but then will vote in favor of the budget or at least not against it.
Here we have a free market ideologue who is all for balanced budgets running a very large deficit and using the government to stimulate the economy and bail out failing industries rather than letting the creative destruction of free markets restore markets to health! Ideology is important but is trumped by the desire to retain power.

Tory cabinet reveals $6-billion worth of budget initiatives

From Monday's Globe and Mail
January 26, 2009 at 4:54 AM EST
OTTAWA — Further departing from convention on pre-budget …

Dion the Invisible Green Man.

This is from National Post Blogs.

This is the reward that Dion receives for his service to the Liberal Party: oblivion. The same fate is in the store for Dion's Green Shift. It has been replaced by the Ignatieff Tar Sands Promotion Plan.

Steve Janke: Dion absent from Ignatieff's shadow cabinet
Posted: January 23, 2009, 12:35 PM by Kelly McParland

The Liberal Party critics list is out, and I've reproduced it here:
Liberal Opposition Critics Michael Ignatieff - Intergovernmental Affairs John McCallum - Finance Bob Rae - Foreign Affairs Denis Coderre - Defence and Quebec Lieutenant David McGuinty - Environment & Energy Carolyn Bennett - Health Marc Garneau - Industry, Science & Technology Mark Holland - Public Safety & National Security Geoff Regan - Natural Resources Dominic LeBlanc - Justice and Attorney-General Scott Brison - International Trade Martha Hall Findlay - Public Works and Government Services Todd Russell - Indian Affairs Larry Bagnell - Arctic Issu…

Israel admits use of white phosphorus in Gaza

Interesting that the Israelis keep changing their story. First they deny using it and then claim to use it legally. Now with photographic evidence of its use against a UN compound they are forced to admit that perhaps there might have been a case of illegal use. The time sequence at the bottom of the article is revealing of the propaganda zigs and zags. Not only is white phosphorus used as a smokescreen by the Israelis so is their constant propaganda denying any wrongdoing.
The Israelis will not likely every be tried for war crimes but the Israeli govt. is taking steps to see that none of its military are every charged.

From The Times
January 24, 2009
Israel admits using white phosphorous in attacks on Gaza
James Hider in Jerusalem and Sheera Frenkel in Gaza City
After weeks of denying that it used white phosphorus in the heavily populated Gaza Strip, Israel finally admitted yesterday that the weapon was deployed in its offensive.
The army’s use of white phosphorus – which makes a distin…

Will budget rescue Canada and the Conservatives?

This is from the Star.

Of course, not all voices counted equally I expect! His economic advisory council crammed with corporate leaders no doubt has a big say. Ultimately Harper and company make the final decision. It sounds as if Harper has learned his lesson and will put enough in the budget to buy off the Liberals and also pacify if not please the majority of Canadians. Ignatieff may growl and complain but in the end will likely help pass the budget.

The Harper government claims to have conducted the most comprehensive and inclusive budget consultations in Canadian history. Here's its accounting by the numbers:
46 municipalities consulted
5,400 letters, emails and submissions from groups, individuals
70 formal roundtables
4 meetings between Flaherty and his economic advisory council
7,200 online responses
102 discussions with provincial/territorial officials
680 organizations consulted included manufacturing, forestry and mining

As their careers hang in the balance, Harp…

Harper chats with Obama, plans meeting as early as February

This is from the Star.

Since Canadians are more comfortable with Obama than Bush Harper sees this as an opportunity to link Canada more closely with the United States that is to say advance our role as junior partners in US imperialism and as reliable suppliers of commodities and energy to our neighbour. No doubt Harper must be a little disappointed that the new president is not quite on the same Conservative wavelength as Harper and as he remarks he had a good relationship with Bush.
There is no mention as to whether Obama spoke about Khadr!

Harper chats with Obama, plans meeting as early as February
January 24, 2009 Bruce Campion-SmithOTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF
OTTAWA–The "unpopularity" of the Bush administration was a barrier to Canada-U.S. relations as Canadians were wary about Ottawa's dealings with Washington, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
But Harper is predicting that this week's inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama marks a "fresh start" for rela…

Budget strategy baffles critics.

I do not know why critics find the strategy baffling. Conservatives will do all they can to further their own interests. If this involves departure from parliamentary tradition this makes no difference. The Conservatives did this in getting parliament prorogued to avoid a confidence vote. Now they are releasing bits and pieces of the upcoming budget hoping to buy support or prepare people for what is coming even though budget information particularly details are usually kept secret until the budget is actually tabled. Harper never gives up testing the opposition. He also is surely testing the patience of Canadians who surely will wake up one day to see him for the completely manipulative and untrustworthy leader that he is.
This is from the National Post.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Budget strategy baffles critics
Tories reveal details normally kept secret
James Cowan and David Akin, National Post; Canwest News Service; Canwest News Service Published: Saturday, January 24, 2009
Michael I…

NDP: Conservative draft bill would weaken environmental regulations

No doubt if it can get away with it the Conservative govt. will argue that changes to environmental regulations can be justified on the grounds that it will save money and promote economic development. It remains to be seen what position the Liberals will take on the environment. So far the party has dropped the Green Shift and Ignatieff goes about talking about what a great gusher the Oil Sands if for the Canadian economy.

Conservative draft bill would weaken environmental regulations: NDP
Last Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2009 6:02 PM ET
CBC News
A leaked federal government memo suggests the Conservatives plan to water down environmental laws in order to make it easier to approve infrastructure projects, the NDP said Thursday.
According to NDP environment critic Linda Duncan, the leaked document suggests the government plans to present a draft bill to Parliament in the spring that would eliminate environmental assessments on projects valued at less than $10 million and that occur on f…

Ottawa to bleed 64 billion over two years

The Conservatives have jettisoned the whole idea of balanced budgets for the next few years at least. After two years of hard times under the Conservatives if they last that long no doubt any majority if there is one will go to the Liberals. Unless Harper has a death wish I imagine the upcoming budget will have enough in it to mollify Liberals and result in the budget passing. Ignatieff has no relish for a coalition or a possible election at this time. However it may be difficult for the Conservatives to retain power after presiding during an economic downturn.
Hard right economics and constant criticising of government intervention seems to have gone into the dustbin of history at least for a while. It will be dusted off as soon as things rebound a bit and touted as an obvious truth again.

Ottawa to bleed $64-billion over two years
Globe and Mail Update
January 22, 2009 at 3:07 PM EST
OTTAWA — The Harper government will run deficits over the next two years totalling $64-bil…

MacKay: Canada may repatriate Khadr

Actually the article shows that the Conservative govt. is sticking to its own position that as long as their is a US justice process in place they will let things take their course. The suspension of
the tribunals does not seem to make any difference. Harper has never criticised the tribunals or tried to repatriate Khadr thus making Canada odd man out since every other western country has intervened on behalf of their accused citizens. But Harper was a great admirer of Bush and even Obama's rejection of them has not changed his mind about Khadr. However, his hand may perhaps be forced if the US requests Canada to take Khadr off their hands. This may not happen however as there may be pressure to try in some form someone accused of killing an American serviceperson. This is probably what Harper hopes.
MacKay should know that Arar was in Canada when he was allegedly seen by Khadr in an Afghan training camp. MacKay is completely unprincipled.

Canada may repatriate Khadr: MacKay

By S…

NFB makes hundreds of films available free on line.

This is from the Calgary Herald.

What a wonderful idea. Instead of leaving these films in the vaults this cultural heritage will be made available to the world free of charge. This is a fitting way to celebrate the celebrated NFB's seventieth birthday!

National Film Board opens vault
Hundreds of films available online for free

Eric Volmers
Calgary Herald
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The National Film Board announced a bold new front in the "digital revolution" on Wednesday, launching a $1.3-million "Screening Room" that will allow Internet users to watch 700 of the board's films for free on the Internet.
The revamped site,, was launched in a suitably high-tech fashion Wednesday, with board chairman Tom Perlmutter holding a "virtual" news conference online for the media. Clips of filmmakers such as Sarah Polley, John Walker and Shelley Saywell were shown lauding the project before Perlmutter introduced the easy-access concept as a "gift for Canad…