Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Post-Dion Liberals flush with cash, new members.

This is from the Star.

All the Liberals need now are some better polls. Nothing is said about debt. Perhaps that is all paid off although I somehow doubt it. I guess Ignatieff is close enough to the Conservatives now that he is an acceptable alternative.
Come the fall and the next chance to turf Harper, if Ignatieff has very good polls he might actually try to bring down the Conservatives. However, there is no guarantee the Bloc and the NDP will necessarily help Ignatieff out.

Post-Dion Liberals flush with cash, new members TheStar.com - Canada - Post-Dion Liberals flush with cash, new members
June 30, 2009 Susan DelacourtOTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA – Federal Liberals, with newly doubled membership numbers, have raised almost as much in the first half of this year as they did in all of 2008, according to the party's national director, Rocco Rossi.
Almost $5 million has flowed into Liberal coffers since January, when Michael Ignatieff assumed the leadership after the departure of Stéphane Dion.
As well, Rossi said, party membership has swelled from about 40,000 at the outset of the year to 90,000 today on the way to a goal of 100,000 members by Labour Day.
It's better news than the bleak set of figures the Liberals are due to file to Elections Canada today.
The new party president, Alf Apps, has said the Liberals took in only $5.9 million in 2008 – almost $1 million less than the year before.
Rossi said the 2008 report will show "relatively low fundraising, an election and therefore a lot of debt loaded on."
Better numbers are to be found in the Liberals' more recent past, Rossi argues. Everything the Liberals raise from here on in this year can be poured into the war chest for an election that could come as soon as September, he said.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Small Step towards the Noose.

Harper seems bound and determined to avoid asking for leniency for those condemend to death if he can help. There are even cases as this article shows where the government is not free and democratic in any sense yet so far he has not intervened. In the Montana case it seems to me that he has intervened finally since the court ordered him to do so. It is a wonder he did not appeal! I am sure Albertans will be pleased to find that their support of Harper makes them rednecks according to Cleroux!

This is from westislandchronicle.

Harper : A Small Step towards the Noose by Richard Cléroux View all articles from Richard ClérouxArticle online since June 26th 2009, 13:40 The noose
Harper : A Small Step towards the Noose
For years Stephen Harper’s political adversaries have been saying he’s got a secret agenda to bring back capital punishment.
Harper has always denied it categorically. He’s always said it is one debate he has no intention of re-opening. But now we’ve got some proof, well, a little bit of proof. Just enough in fact to ask ourselves how far is Harper planning to go. The other day Harper sent his foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon into the Commons to announce the Conservatives new policy on capital punishment. Cannon didn’t mince words. From now on, the death penalty will be acceptable for Canadians sentenced to death in democratic, sovereign countries which have a justice system based on the primacy of law. That covers about half the 201 countries in the world, including Canada. Perhaps Harper was trying to please his hard-core, red-neck base in Alberta, where hanging is seen by many as the solution to difficult criminal issues. And with elections expected this fall, now would be the time for Harper to make his pitch to his base. By the time the campaign rolls around, it will look too much like opportunism. Who Harper and Cannon may have been thinking about is the case of Ronald Allen Smith, a Canadian sentenced to death 26 years ago in Montana for murdering two Natives. He’s been on death row in Montana every since and it’s a big issue in Alberta. Harper doesn’t want to lift a finger to get him back to Canada. Let the Americans execute him, even though the Federal Court has ordered Harper to do something for him. Who Harper and Cannon seem to have forgotten are two other Canadians in situations a lot murkier. Mohammed Kohail is a young Canadian from Montreal sentenced to decapitation in Saudi Arabia following a fight in a school yard in Jeddah that left one student dead. The Saudi take school yard fights seriously. The second is a Canadian awaiting execution by firing squad in China for having said some things the Chinese government didn’t like, a serious crime in China which executes 1,1000 people a year. Cannon told the Commons that in democratic, sovereign law respecting countries he won’t plead for clemency for Canadians sentenced to death. So he’ll only plead for clemency in undemocratic countries where they don’t respect the rule of law? How effective will that be? What does he tell King Saud who figures himself a great democrat and respects Sharia law. The king has all the oil he needs to prove it. Is Harper going to tell the Chinese during his visit this fall that they are not democratic and don’t respect the rule of law? And what about Canada? Aren’t we democratic and don’t we respect the rule of law. Are we going to be Harper’s one single exception? Who came up with this idiotic policy? Or is Harper planning to take another step and go all the way removing Canada as the exception? There’s always the chance that Harper could change his mind over the summer after the MPs return from the barbecue circuit, but don’t bet the ketchup on it. In the meantime let’s hope that not too many non-democratic countries take offense and decide to teach Harper a lesson his Canadians will never forget.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Elections Canada advocates online voting to halt slide in voter turnout.

If authorities are so worried about voter turnout they could always do as Australia and some other countries have done, make voting compulsory. Of course the result is that there are many donkey votes. However that could happen anyway to some extent especially among people who are not concerned enough to take the time to go to a polling booth. On the other hand on line voting might be a boon for those who must travel considerable distances to vote. The article does not say if other countries already use the system. I would think that there might be some issues of privacy and also possible misuse of the system.

Elections Canada advocates online voting to halt slide in voter turnout
By Joan Bryden – 13 hours ago
OTTAWA — Allowing Canadians to vote electronically may be the remedy for the ever-dwindling percentage of voters who bother to exercise their democratic rights, Elections Canada suggests.
In a report released late Friday, the independent electoral watchdog says it will push this fall for legislative changes that would allow it to implement online registration of voters.
And it wants parliamentary approval to conduct an electronic voting test-run in a byelection by 2013.
The report notes that only 58.8 per cent of registered voters actually cast ballots during last October's federal election - the worst-ever voter turnout in Canadian history.
"It would appear that voting competes with other daily priorities for a substantial number of electors," says the report, summarizing the results of surveys, focus groups and other evaluations commissioned by Elections Canada in the wake of the Oct. 14 vote.
"In that sense, Elections Canada's efforts to make registration and voting more accessible and convenient for electors (e.g., through initiatives such as e-registration and an eventual e-voting pilot) appear to be well positioned.
"By working at'bringing the ballot to the elector,' we may contribute to mitigating some of the reasons for lower turnout."
A survey conducted for the agency found that 57 per cent of those who didn't vote in the last election blamed "everyday situations" - such as being on holiday, being too busy, family obligations or work schedules - for their failure to cast ballots.
Thirty-six per cent cited negative attitudes toward politics or political parties, including 14 per cent who said they were too apathetic and eight per cent who said they were too cynical to bother voting.
The survey also found considerable public interest in making it easier to vote. Fifty-eight per cent of electors said they'd be likely to use the Internet to register and 54 per cent said they'd be likely to use it to vote.
Among those who didn't vote in the last election, the survey found 55 per cent said they'd be likely to use the Internet to vote if the service was available.
Sixty-four per cent of non-voting young people and 41 per cent of non-voting aboriginal electors - two of the groups with the lowest voter turnout - said the same.
The report suggests electronic voting may also benefit Canadian Forces members and other Canadians living temporarily outside the country. If they want to vote, their only option at the moment is to obtain a special mail-in ballot.
However, the report says many out-of-country voters have missed the deadline because of the relatively complicated special ballot procedure, combined with the short election time frame and limitations of the postal service.
Last October, 3,675 special ballots were received two weeks after election day, too late to be counted.
"This is an area where we believe electors would benefit from online services."
While voters seem to like the idea, candidates are not quite so keen.
A survey of candidates in the last election found 75 per cent believe voters should be able to register online. But when it comes to actually casting ballots via the Internet, 48 per cent of candidates were opposed and 46 per cent were in favour.
"The survey indicates that most Canadians are interested in online registration and voting," the report concludes.
"In view of the number of Canadians who are interested in accessing electoral services online, our efforts to put e-registration in place and to test e-voting are well aligned to their needs."
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Jack Layton goes from kingmaker to bystander

This is from the Star.

One of the reasons for Layton's lacklustre performance is surely that the press for the most part treats Canada as it had just two parties, the Liberals and Conservatives. This is a way of framing discussion without any government control so that only two parties count and need to be funded by those who benefit most from the system. Of course in provincial politics the situation may be different as the NDP has had power in some provinces.
There is little coverage of the federal NDP, or the Green Party, although once in a while there will be some. Other parties such as the Christian Heritage Party, the Libertarian Party or the Communist Party (the CPC!) get virtual no press. They have little money for promoting their policies either.
Anyway if Layton failed to give birth to a coalition government at least he has become a grandpa. Meanwhile Ignatieff gave birth to a Conservative Liberal coalition that should have been aborted at the earliest stages.

Jack Layton goes from kingmaker to bystander TheStar.com - Canada - Jack Layton goes from kingmaker to bystander
Bubble has burst for NDP leader since coalition, and party has lost its momentum from 2008 vote
June 27, 2009 Richard J. BrennanOTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA – Jack Layton looked like a kingmaker when the Liberal-NDP coalition threatened to topple the Conservative government last fall, but eight months later he is struggling for attention.
By throwing in his lot with the Liberals, led then by Stéphane Dion, the NDP leader saw a chance for real power. However, his ambitions came crashing down when Governor General Michaëlle Jean agreed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's request to prorogue Parliament, sending MPs home.
Since his power play, Layton's party has lost the momentum it had during the 2008 election and his personal popularity has nosedived.
While part of the NDP's decline can be traced back to Layton's role in the failed coalition, it is the growing strength of the Liberals led by Michael Ignatieff that is really pushing the party to the margins.
When he was compared to the hapless Dion, Layton looked good but the changing Liberal dynamic has voters wondering what he stands for, other than opposing everything the Conservative government proposes.
It used to be that Harper treated Layton with obvious deference – considering him an ally in the fight to keep the Liberals on the ropes – but now Harper routinely attacks Layton, accusing the NDP of being irrelevant.
"The problem for the NDP is that the lowest-level game being played in this Parliament is by the NDP," Harper told the Commons last week. "The NDP does not seem to accept that the people of Canada re-elected this government, and this government wants to work with other parties. As long as the NDP decides it will oppose everything before it even knows what the proposals are, it will remain completely irrelevant to Canadians."
Pollster Nik Nanos said when the Liberals get wind in their sails, the New Democrats' numbers decline.
"The slow climb of the Liberals has in large part been at the expense of the New Democrats," he said. "When the focus is on Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper, Jack Layton basically gets pushed off the agenda and it is much more difficult for him to have profile."
During the 2008 election, Layton consistently placed second to Harper as the person who would make the best prime minister. NDP support at the time spiked at 22 per cent, compared with 15 per cent now.
"The election is a bit of a false indicator for Jack Layton, because a lot of that had to do with the weakness of Stéphane Dion," Nanos said.
A serious recession should be a time for the New Democrats to make political hay, but rather than picking one specific thing to go after the government for, they have chosen more of a shotgun approach, accusing the government in general terms of taking the country in the wrong direction.
While the shine may be off Layton's public image, he is not expected to be subjected to a leadership review at the party's national convention in Halifax, Aug. 14-16. With the possibility of an election this fall, he's likely to be given one more kick at the can in light of the party's numbers in the 2008 election.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Harper: Attack Ads prevented a summer election

I doubt that the attack ads had much to do with our not having a summer election. Ignatieff did not want an election since the Liberal Party needs to raise more money and raise their standing in the polls as well. However, given that the Liberal polls do not seem have any momentum upwards perhaps the attack ads did have some negative effects and convinced some not to vote for Iggy.
Harper just loves to rub it in and make digs at Iggy even though Iggy saved Harper's bacon and is almost in a coalition with the Conservatives at this point. It seems that Iggy prefers a right coalition rather than one on the left!

Attack ads prevented a summer election: Harper
Updated Fri. Jun. 26 2009 8:41 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggests his party's recent ad campaign that included controversial attacks against Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff may have done Canadians a favour.
In an interview with CTV News in Halifax, the prime minister told CTV Atlantic's Steve Murphy that the ads help convince the Liberals not to trigger a summer election, and allowed his Conservative minority government a few months of breathing space.
"To the extent that I think that the ads made the Liberal Party think twice about having an election, I think that's been a good result," Harper said.
"Because I don't think Canadians want an election, I think it would have been another round of political instability. And so to the extent I think it's put that party a little bit back on its heels. It may be thinking a little bit more about how to co-operate in actually dealing with the economy -- I think it's been helpful."
The ads criticize Ignatieff's time outside the country, alleging the Liberal leader returned to Canada solely to seek the prime minister's job.
Harper refused to say whether he personally agreed with the ad's sentiments that Igatieff is "just visiting." He said he would leave it to voters to decide whether Ignatieff's 34 years outside Canada disqualified him to be prime minister.
"Those ads are built around his [Ignatieff's] own record, his own words, on his own motives and his own statements on the country. Those are questions he will have to answer... As I say, the ads allow Mr. Ignatieff to speak for himself," Harper said during the 10-minute interview.
Harper said the ads ran at a time when the Liberals were not co-operating in the operation of Parliament.
"My preference would be for the opposition to work with the government. The Opposition has not chosen that path until very recently," Harper explained.
"I do think the people want to see the parties work together. But, certainly if the parties aren't going to work together, the Conservative Party won't unilaterally disarm."
One week ago, Ignatieff and Harper reached a deal that prevented a summer election. Thursday's comments come as Parliament begins its summer break. It's expected all parties will use the time to test the waters for a fall election campaign.
The opposition will have an opportunity to put forward a non-confidence motion during an opposition day early in the fall session.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New poll shows Conservatives and Liberals neck in neck..

Brennan does not explain his reasons for predicting that there would be a minority govt. if an election were called in the fall on the basis of a close poll just at the beginning of summer. Perhaps it is inexplicable!
Even if the polls do not move sufficiently for a majority government to be elected they could easily move in the Liberal direction sufficiently to have a minority Liberal govt. You would think that many at the Star would like that. But maybe that would be too close to that horrible coalition govt. that Ignatieff in a moment of weakness signed on to, or perhaps the Star thinks is much better to go forward with a de facto coalition between the Liberals and Conservatives as we have now. After all Ignatieff is quite flexible almost one of those contortionists.

Minority government looms again if election called this fall, new poll shows
TheStar.com -
Canada - Minority government looms again if election called this fall, new poll shows
June 25, 2009 Richard J. BrennanOTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA–As talk of a fall federal election heats up, the Conservatives and Liberals are essentially in a dead heat at 32 to 31 per cent, pointing to yet another minority government a new poll suggests.
And despite the political duelling between Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, the Conservative Prime Minister is most likely of the two to be perceived as honest, trustworthy, strong and decisive and able to manage the economy, the Toronto Star/Angus Reid poll found.
The poll shows both major parties have a lot of work to do if they are entertaining thoughts of taking Canadians to the polls within months.
At 32 per cent in national voting intentions, the Conservatives are up 1 point from the last national poll in May, with the Liberals nipping at the governing party's heel with 31 per cent, down 2 points from May.
The New Democrats are in third place with 18 per cent support (up 1 percentage point) followed by the Bloc Québécois at 11 per cent (up 2 percentage points) and the Green party holding steady at 7 per cent.
The survey found 34 per cent agree Harper is best suited to handle the economy, compared with 20 per cent for Ignatieff, yet 40 per cent say the Conservative government has done a "poor job" and that Canada needs a new government.
In Ontario, the Conservatives, with 37 per cent are barely ahead of the Liberals with 35 per cent.
In Quebec, the Bloc leads with 42 per cent, while the Liberals trail with 29 per cent.
In British Columbia, the Conservatives hold only a three-point edge over the Liberals, 36 to 33 per cent.
The poll of 1,005 Canadians was conducted from conducted June 17-18, and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Conservative Govt. now a leader in violating Canadian's rights.

We have already seen the many attempts to avoid bringing Abdelrazik back to Canada but finally succumbing after an embarassing court decision lambasting the government. However, in the case of Omar Khadr the government--no doubt to the great delight to some of their supporters--is appealing the court order that the govt. should ask for Khadr to be repatriated.
In this first article a govt. lawyer can't point to any security risks bringing him back to Canada would cause. I would think that if he came back he would surely remain under surveillance in case he did try to engage in any activities that are a threat to Canada. This is from the Vancouver Sun.

OTTAWA — A federal lawyer conceded Tuesday that she cannot "point to any risks" if Omar Khadr were repatriated to Canada.
Doreen Mueller made the admission Tuesday under repeated grilling from Federal Court of Appeal judges on why the Canadian government refuses to seek the return of the Canadian terror suspect from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

-------- and also from the Vancouver Sun.

The Conservative government will ask an appeal panel to overturn a court order to press the United States for Khadr's return from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the 22-year-old Toronto native has been detained for almost seven years.
The appeal court has put the repatriation order on hold, pending the outcome of the government challenge.
Government lawyers, in written arguments, rejected a landmark Federal Court ruling which, for the first time, ordered a government to seek repatriation of a citizen held by a foreign country.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Spreading dirt on Abdelrazik..

This is the same sort of smear campaign orchestrated against Arar when attempts were being made to get him out of jail in Syria. Material was leaked to reporters that was in effect false confessions he made under torture. You should realise that for the US Arar is still a member of Al Qaeda. That was the reason given for rendering him to Syria where he was tortured under interrogation. Although Arar was compensated and cleared by an inquiry no one within the intelligence services was ever disciplined for passing on unverified and in fact untrue allegations about Arar to US intelligence services.
The UN document exists because it is what the US requested. No evidence goes along with the accusations because that would compromise security operations. Even though intelligence agencies have no decent evidence against you that would stamp up in any court or even be sufficient to lay charges you can be punished anyway. This is what we call the rule of law. Arar has even been entirely cleared and compensated for his trials but he is still on the no fly list and nothing has been done by US authorities to try to get him off the no fly list. All that has happened is that lawsuits by him have so far been tossed out in the US. Big change Obama has said boo about the case.

It is quite all right for security agencies to keep authorities in the dark. No doubt in the interests of national security.

This article is from the Globe and Mail.

Paul Koring
From Saturday's Globe and Mail, Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2009 03:33AM EDT
A coterie of high-ranking Canadian security officials first considered blocking Abousfian Abdelrazik's return five years ago at the request of a foreign government, but kept ministers of the then-Liberal government in the dark, The Globe and Mail has learned.
Only days before Mr. Abdelrazik was to be released in July, 2004, from the Sudanese prison where he had been interrogated by Canadian agents, a foreign government believed to be the United States made urgent high-level representations to senior Canadian security operatives seeking “Canada's agreement not to allow Abdelrazik to board aircraft bound for Canada.”
That's exactly what happened, although the role of Canadian security agencies remains murky. Mr. Abdelrazik was denied flights by both Lufthansa and Air Canada. Ever since, and as recently as last month in federal court, Canadian officials have claimed Canada had no hand in thwarting his return and that it was strictly an airline decision.
Yet heavily redacted documents suggest Canadian security agencies played a role and kept ministers in the dark.

This is from CTV.

UN document details allegations against Abdelrazik
Updated Tue. Jun. 23 2009 8:36 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian man living in exile in Sudan who the government has been told to return home, is a member of a Montreal terrorist cell and has close ties to senior al Qaeda leadership, a new United Nations Security Council document alleges.
In the document posted Monday on the UN Security Council terrorist blacklist website, it's asserted that Abdelrazik trained at an al Qaeda camp and has provided administrative and logistical support to the terrorist network.
"[Abdelrazik] was a member of a cell in Montreal, Canada, whose members met in al Qaeda's Khalden training camp in Afghanistan," the document alleges.
It adds that Abdelrazik recruited and advised new operatives headed for paramilitary training at Khalden, and that he had told at least one individual that he was "personally acquainted with Osama bin Laden."
None of the allegations are new and echo those that the U.S. has levelled against Abdelrazik since 2006, when it added him to the UN Security Council's 1267 terrorist blacklist.
Like previous allegations, none of the ones detailed in the short document contain specifics or cite sources for the information.
Abdelrazik, 47, has denied any involvement in extremism or any association with al Qaeda.
The document's publication comes only days after a federal court ordered that Abdelrazik be allowed to return to Canada. Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn said Abdelrazik's constitutional rights had been breached by Ottawa's refusal to allow him to return home.
Zinn's June 4 ruling called for to be repatriated within 30 days. The government says it will not appeal the ruling but it remains unclear when Abdelrazik will return.
Yavar Hameed, Abdelrazik's lawyer in Canada, said the timing of the posting of the UN document was suspicious.
"It's highly irregular and I don't believe it is coincidental that the UN posted this one on the eve of Mr. Abdelrazik's return," The Globe and Mail reports Hameed saying.
"It smacks of smear by association; if there was anything criminal or substantive in terms of terrorist activity then I think our security services or those of the United States would have launched a prosecution."
Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen with family in Montreal, has been in forced exile in Sudan since 2003, after he went to visit his ailing mother. He was arrested by Sudanese officials there because of allegations he had ties to bin Laden.
No evidence supporting those allegations ever materialized and Abdelrazik was released without charge. But by then, Abdelrazik's passport had expired.
Although both CSIS and the RCMP have formally confirmed they have no reason to support his continued UN listing as an al Qaeda member, the Canadian government continued to refuse him a new passport so he could return.
Abdelrazik has been living in the lobby of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum for the better part of the past year as his case made its way through Canadian courts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Canada seeking clemency for double murderer in Montana

This is from AFP.

Here again a court has to order the Conservative government to do what it should have done without being forced. The court also had to order Canada to allow Abdelrazik back to Canada.
Canada does not have the death penalty and has always in the past tried to obtain clemency for Canadians sentenced to death in other countries. However, the Conservative govt. given its moral superiority wants to pick and choose which accused it will request clemency for.

Canada seeking clemency for double-murderer in Montana: FM
1 day ago

OTTAWA (AFP) — The Canadian government said Friday it has sought clemency for a Canadian on death row in Montana, in accordance with a court order, but would decide "case-by-case" whether to do so for others.

"We are complying with the court ruling," Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told the House of Commons.

But, he added, "we want justice to be done for Canadians abroad and that is why we will continue to study on a case-by-case basis whether we should ask for clemency for Canadians condemned to death abroad."

Ronald Allen Smith was convicted in 1983 of murdering two Americans a year earlier near Glacier National Park in the northwest United States, and was sentenced to death.

During most of the past quarter century, successive Canadian governments have sought clemency on his behalf from the governor of Montana on humanitarian grounds.

But that suddenly changed in November 2007 under a new Conservative administration led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Canada would no longer actively seek clemency for Canadians on death row who had been tried and convicted in democratic countries that support the rule of law, said ministers.

Smith's lawyers argued the policy reversal provided tacit approval for his execution, and breached Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The government, meanwhile, claimed a "royal prerogative" to ignore his plight.

Federal Court Justice Robert Barnes ruled the government has a right to set foreign policy, but its reversal in this case was "arbitrary and unlawful," as it seemingly targeted Smith.

Rafsanjani and his students...

Behind all the twitters and wall to wall coverage of each cell phone image by CNN is the reality of a power struggle among elites. Rafsanjani is arguably the richest person in Iran and he hates Ahmadinejad because among other things he has accused his family of corruption. Khameni is playing both sides and recently in his speech has high praise for Rafsanjani and criticised Ahmadinejad for his accusations against Rafsanjani's family. As a reward the Assembly of Experts that Rafsanjani heads supported the guidelines in his speech. But now it seems that Ahmadinejad has moved against Rafsanjani's family. This will create a crisis and Khameni might very well decide to turf Ahmadinejad and support Rafsanjani: This is from Yahoo.

State-run Press TV reported that Rafsanjani's eldest daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, and four other family members were arrested late Saturday. It did not identify the other four.
Last week, state television showed images of Hashemi, 46, speaking to hundreds of supporters of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. After her appearance, hard-line students gathered outside the Tehran prosecutor's office and accused her of treason, state radio reported.
Rafsanjani, 75, has made no secret of his distaste for Ahmadinejad, whose re-election victory in a June 12 vote was disputed by Mousavi. Ahmadinejad has accused Rafsanjani and his family of corruption.
The influential Rafsanjani now heads two very powerful groups. The most important one is the Assembly of Experts, made up of senior clerics who can elect and dismiss the supreme leader. The second is the Expediency Council, a body that arbitrates disputes between parliament and the unelected Guardian Council, which can block legislation.
His daughter's arrest came as something of a surprise: Just Friday, Khamenei had praised Rafsanjani as one of the architects of the revolution and an effective political figure for many years. Khamenei acknowledged, however, that the two have "many differences of opinion."


Rafsanjani is probably the richest man in Iran. As this article points out he owns many educational insitutions including university campuses. The press never seems to think this of importance or that Rafsanjani might be using his power to generate student activists. Rafsanjani favors freer markets and accomodation where possible with the West. He is just what the West ordered and the media cheerleaders go along with great enthusiasm both on the left and right.

This is from Wikipedia:

Many believe Rafsanjani to be the richest man in Iran due to his deep involvement in various Iranian industries, including the oil industry, as well as his ownership of many properties throughout the country. There have also been allegations that some of his wealth has come from arms deals made after the Revolution.[27] His wealth has earned him the nickname of Akbar Shah in Iran.[33] The Rafsanjani family own vast financial empires in Iran, including foreign trade, vast landholdings and the largest network of private universities in Iran, known as the Islamic Azad University, which has 300 campuses spread all over the country. The Islamic Azad University campuses not only have large financial resources, but also a cadre of student activists numbering around 3 million.[34]
The American business magazine Forbes has included Rafsanjani in their list of richest people in the world. In 2003 Forbes described Rafsanjani as the real power behind the Iranian government, and asserted that he "has more or less run the Islamic Republic for the past 24 years." [35] His son Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani is the head of the state-owned company Gaz Iran.Many believe Rafsanjani to be the richest man in Iran due to his deep involvement in various Iranian industries, including the oil industry, as well as his ownership of many properties throughout the country. There have also been allegations that some of his wealth has come from arms deals made after the Revolution.[27] His wealth has earned him the nickname of Akbar Shah in Iran.[33] The Rafsanjani family own vast financial empires in Iran, including foreign trade, vast landholdings and the largest network of private universities in Iran, known as the Islamic Azad University, which has 300 campuses spread all over the country. The Islamic Azad University campuses not only have large financial resources, but also a cadre of student activists numbering around 3 million.[34]
The American business magazine Forbes has included Rafsanjani in their list of richest people in the world. In 2003 Forbes described Rafsanjani as the real power behind the Iranian government, and asserted that he "has more or less run the Islamic Republic for the past 24 years." [35] His son Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani is the head of the state-owned company Gaz Iran.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ignatieff says he'll compromise to fix EI.

So Iggy in supporting the Conservatives is a pragmatic kind of guy whereas Dion was a wimp. How do you tell the difference? Is it because Iggy does better in the polls or that the Liberals want Iggy to wait until the party has a better war chest to fight an election.
Iggy will compromise on EI because he must to keep the coalition with the Conservatives alive and well. Of course not much will happen until the Fall. That will sure help those out of work now!

Ignatieff says he'll compromise to fix EI

By Mark Kennedy, Canwest News ServiceJune 20, 2009

OTTAWA - Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he's prepared to put some "water in my wine" to reach a compromise with the government this summer over reforms to Canada's employment insurance program.
In an interview Friday with Canwest News Service and Global National, Ignatieff also said he hopes Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's contention that an economic recovery will eventually pull the federal budget out of deficit is correct, because Ignatieff doesn't want to introduce tax hikes if the Liberals win the next election.
Ignatieff sat down for the interview in his Parliament Hill office immediately after a vote in the House of Commons on Friday that averted a summer election. He defended his decision to support the government's budgetary spending estimates in return for the creation of a joint working group of Conservatives and Liberals MPs that will study EI this summer.
``I'm a pragmatic kind of guy on this issue,'' said Ignatieff. He said a key turning point in this week's political drama occurred when Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged the flaw in how the EI system's existing eligibility rules are linked to the unemployment rate in 58 different regions.
That means workers across the country have to put in different numbers of hours, depending on where they live, before qualifying for EI benefits.
Harper has said he is willing to look at reducing the number of regions.
Premiers of Canada's western provinces and territories this week proposed basing the number of hours workers must put in before qualifying for EI on three different regional divisions: urban, rural and remote.
The Liberals have been pressing for a uniform eligibility standard and had initially been advocating a system in which anyone who works 360 hours would qualify for EI.
Now, Ignatieff has indicated that as long as the reform provides some fairness and equity, he's willing to negotiate with the governing Tories as they strive to reach a deal before Parliament returns in late September.
``We've got to get to a more sensible standard,'' he said, adding it should be set at a level that is ``fiscally responsible.''
``I'm going to try in good faith to get us to substantive employment insurance reform by the third week in September. I'm prepared to put some water in my wine, but not too much, because I think the country does need national standards here for the sake of fairness.''
In late September, the government will issue another economic update or report card. The Liberals will then be given the chance to put forward a non- confidence motion two days later, but Ignatieff steered clear of saying this will automatically lead to a defeat of the government and a fall election campaign.
``I've tried consistently since I've been leader of the Opposition to make this Parliament work, to play the hand the Canadian people dealt me. And I think this week we showed that if you're tough and firm you can get results. You can get the prime minister to move. I'm willing to move a bit. And then we work together through the summer,'' he said.
``I'm not going to predict what the autumn means, but I made it very clear to the prime minister - I make it very clear to Canadians - I'm holding him to account. This thing isn't over. We've got to get results for the Canadian people. If we can't get results for the Canadian people, then we're going to have to take other decisions. But I'm not there.''
Ignatieff carefully answered questions about whether he agrees with Flaherty's opinion that the federal budget will naturally return to surplus when the economy recovers and increased revenues begin to flow back into the coffers.
Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page disputes that prediction, saying that tax hikes or deep spending cuts are the only way to get the finances back to a surplus position. Earlier this spring, Ignatieff drew fire from the Conservatives after musing about whether it might some day be necessary to raise taxes to control the growing debt.
Asked Friday if he thinks a growing economy can produce a budgetary surplus, Ignatieff said it's hard to say because he doesn't have access to the Finance Department's records.
``Let me phrase it carefully. I believe it can. I sure hope it can because we are in a very tough situation. My instincts all along have been I don't want to increase the burden on Canadians.''
Ignatieff said a tax hike during a recession would place a burden on people, including small businesses ``struggling to get by.''
``So that is the last thing I want to do - to increase taxes, in other words, in a recession. I don't want to increase taxes after the recession. It's just after you've come through this hard time, you don't want someone hitting you over the head with a mallet. So I'm hoping recovery will allow our public finances to slowly get back to balance. But I'm in opposition. I'm not in government. So what I'm doing is saying, `Show me how you're going to do it.' ''
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Taser Inquiry postponed after new misconduct evidence

Taser Inc. must be happy that the RCMP have made themselves look so bad that the heat is off concerning the tasers themselves to some extent!
The RCMP have taken the usual tack of trying to defend themselves and in doing so trying to mislead the public as well as spending a lot of taxpayer money to go to Poland on a witch hunt trying to dig up dirt on Dziekanski. This is a very sordid affair. Not only are the officiers directly involved blameworthy but so are the higherups who love coverups.

This is from Canwest.

Taser inquiry postponed after new misconduct evidence.

Canwest News ServiceJune 19, 2009

VANCOUVER - Closing submissions at the inquiry looking into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski have been postponed after the inquiry heard late evidence about misconduct by the RCMP officers involved in the Tasering death.
Lawyers for the Department of Justice have given the inquiry an internal RCMP e-mail between two senior RCMP members dated Nov. 5, 2007 which says the four Mounties who confronted Dziekanski discussed their strategy before they entered the Vancouver airport and agreed to Taser the man if he did not comply with orders.
During their testimony, the officers all claimed they did not talk to each other before going into the international terminal at the airport.
The late disclosure prompted tears from federal government lawyer Helen Roberts as she tried to explain why that crucial information was overlooked when it was given to her team more than a month ago.
``Canada continues, as it has all along, to fully support the work of this commission,'' she said. ``I do say, it was by oversight that this occurred.''
Roberts has taken full responsibility for the failure to disclose the e-mail in a timely manner.
Commission counsel Art Vertlieb said the late disclosure of the e-mail as evidence had resulted in a ``complete disruption of the process.''
``As you know Mr. Commissioner - you and your council have taken every possible step to prevent this from occurring. We don't want this to happen again,'' he said.
``We will need complete disclosure, and complete assurances of complete disclosure.''
Closing submissions in the Taser inquiry were scheduled to begin Friday, however they were postponed until the council's investigations are complete.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Friday, June 19, 2009

Think-tank raps Alberta on hospital data.

Interesting that the right-wing Fraser Institute gets to make these report cards. Even so, the Institute makes a reasonable criticism of Alberta for not naming hospitals. So much for the right to know. Apparently knowing which hospitals have good records and which have bad would be bad for health care in Alberta. What is bad for health care in Alberta is their Super Board with its super centralisation of power and super secrecy.

Think-tank raps Alberta on hospital data
Last Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2009 CBC News
A conservative think-tank is criticizing the Alberta government for not providing enough information about hospitals in the province.
In compiling a report card on Alberta's acute care hospitals, the Fraser Institute looked at more than one million patient records. It studied patient care statistics, including such things as the number of deaths among patients who developed complications while in the hospital.
The institute's report card — released Thursday — indicates that one Alberta hospital has an injury rate for newborns that's more than four times the provincial average.
But a Fraser Institute spokesperson said Albertans will never know which hospital — or how hospitals compare with each other — because the province would not provide the names of the hospitals, only the statistics.
"Wouldn't it benefit patients and care providers to know where these events are occurring so we can improve the quality of care for Albertans?" asked Nadeem Esmail.
Accusations of irresponsibility
This is the first time the institute has compiled a hospital report card for Alberta, but it has done similar studies in Ontario and British Columbia.
The Fraser Institute said the B.C. government provided hospital names for this year's report card and by not doing so, the Alberta government is refusing to commit to accountability.
When asked about the report on Thursday, Alberta Health Minister Ron Liepert said : "Alberta Health Services has been charged with the delivery of health care, and if they feel for whatever reason that it's inappropriate to do so, then you're going to have to ask them."
Dr. Stephen Duckett, president of Alberta Health Services, has said that naming hospitals is not in the interest of improving health services.
In a letter to the Fraser Institute in May, he pointed out the information used by the study was dated and could cause patients to make unfounded judgments about the health-care system

Ottawa will allow Abdelrazik to return to Canada

We now know a bit more of the background of this case. Canada was as usual acting as a helpful comrade for US intelligence. The US asked us to build a case against Abdelrazik. Of course we obediently complied.
Harper was reluctant to irritate the US so even when the Court told him to let Abdelrazik come back and that his rights had been violated he contemplated appealing the decision. But the political heat hurt him a bit and probably he was advised he would lose. Of course he still remains adamant about Khadr. This too could be at US request. Obama the great changer has been competely quiet on Khadr.
Anyway better late than never re Abdelrazik. Iggy could have easily enough asked Harper to let Abdelrazik come back as a condition of his deal. But then the great champion of human rights never thought of that I guess.

Ottawa will allow Abdelrazik to return to Canada
Last Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2009
CBC News
The federal government will comply with a Federal Court order to allow the return of Montrealer Abousfian Abdelrazik, who has been stranded in Sudan for six years after being labelled an al-Qaeda suspect, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Thursday.A travel date for Abousfian Abdelrazik is not yet known.
Abdelrazik, 47, was arrested and detained while visiting his mother in Sudan in 2003 and for the last year has been living in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum.
Earlier this month, Federal Court Justice Russell Zinn ordered the Canadian government to fly him home early next month and provide those travel plans by Friday.
Nicholson initially said the government would need time to review Zinn's decision before deciding whether it would appeal, despite intense calls from opposition members and Abdelrazik's supporters to allow him to return.
But in his response to a question Thursday from Liberal MP Irwin Cotler in the House of Commons about the status of Abdelrazik, Nicholson said, "The government will comply with the court order."
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Affairs department said it had nothing to add to Nicholson's statement.
No date set yet for return: lawyer
Following Nicholson's announcement, Abdelrazik's lawyer, Khalid Elgazzar, told CBC News his legal team has received written confirmation from the government that Abdelrazik will return to Canada, but could not immediately disclose a travel date.
"They've given us an initial indication as to a commitment to bring him back, and I guess the logistical factors are how that's going to happen," he said in an interview from Ottawa.
Elgazzar said he contacted Abdelrazik to inform him of the government's decision and his client "had some difficulty containing his happiness."
Both the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have cleared Abdelrazik of any terrorist connections, but the Conservative government had refused to issue him travel documents to return home because his name was on a UN Security Council list banning travel for terrorist suspects.
Rae urges Tories to accept court's Khadr decision
His lawyers successfully argued the government has violated his right to mobility under Section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In his decision, Zinn wrote that Abdelrazik is a "prisoner in a foreign land" and "as much a victim of international terrorism as the innocent persons whose lives have been taken by recent barbaric acts of terrorists."
The judge said the government's claim that Abdelrazik couldn't fly to Canada due to his inclusion on the UN blacklist was actually "no impediment" to his repatriation.
Zinn also said CSIS was "complicit" in Abdelrazik's detention by Sudanese authorities six years ago.
Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said the government's decision also raises the question of why the Conservatives are not abiding another Federal Court decision calling on Ottawa to press for the return of Omar Khadr, the last Western citizen imprisoned at the U.S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"The judge's decision in Abdelrazik was very clear, but I would add that the judge's decision in Mr. Khadr's case is very clear as well, and I would hope that the government would now turn and accept the decision in Mr. Khadr's case," Rae said Thursday.
The government announced in May it was appealing the court's ruling on the Toronto-born Khadr's case.
Khadr, now 22, has been at the Guantanamo Bay facility since 2002 when he was picked up by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. He's alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier during a battle.

eHealth chair Dr. Alan Hudson replaced.

This is from the Star.

Note that he chaired this board as a volunteer. He still has his paying job of almost 300 thousand a year. These people seem to have close links to one another and perhaps to the Ontario Liberals. Now the replacement for Hudson served under Mike Harris. Maybe a Conservative groupie replacement is a sign of new co-operation between the Ontario Conservatives and Liberals mirroring the Harper Iggie deal!

Embattled eHealth chair Dr. Alan Hudson will be replaced.
June 17, 2009 Rob Ferguson amd Tanya TalagaQueen's Park Bureau
Stung by the eHealth Ontario spending scandal, Premier Dalton McGuinty replaced Dr. Alan Hudson as chair of the troubled agency and outlawed untendered contracts for highly paid consultants who can no longer expense "out-of-pocket" goodies like tea and Choco Bites.
Hudson is the latest high-profile domino to fall at the province's electronic health records organization, where he headed the board as a volunteer. But he will continue to lead the government's efforts to reducing waiting times in cancer and other areas at a salary of $292,653 last year.
McGuinty said today the changes come because taxpayers "have good reason to be upset" about loose financial controls that saw about $5 million in contracts given to consulting firms — including one, Courtyard Group, with close Liberal ties get $2 million in business — without competing bids and saw several consultants paid $2,700 a day expensing snacks and meals.
"We're going to move to close those loopholes," a chastened premier told a news conference, noting that the new rules will apply "immediately" at all government ministries and agencies, such as the LCBO, Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
"I take responsibility for this. We should have had tougher rules in place."
The scandal has already claimed the job of eHealth chief executive Sarah Kramer, who left over a week ago amid controversy over her $114,000 bonus approved by Hudson in March after she'd been on the job just five months. Kramer, who defended the consulting contracts and the expenses of consultants, was paid $380,000 a year and got a $317,000 severance package.
McGuinty again rejected opposition calls to fire Health Minister David Caplan, who oversees eHealth, saying the problem with consultant policies is government wide.
"The buck stops with me."
While he is standing by Caplan for now, McGuinty, who is expected to shuffle his cabinet soon, was also firmly behind Hudson as recently as nine days ago in Stratford, saying, "I have every reason to continue to have confidence."
Today, that tune had changed as the premier revealed Hudson had resigned. His replacement is Rita Burak, a career civil servant who was cabinet secretary to former premier Mike Harris.
"I believe he's done the honourable thing," McGuinty said of Hudson, a neurosurgeon. "He's made it clear that he cannot, at this point in time, bring the kind of leadership necessary at eHealth that we need."
Reached at an eHealth board meeting earlier in the day, a shaken-sounding Hudson declined comment about his move, first reported on theStar.com.
His departure and the closed loopholes did not go far enough for the opposition parties who hounded the government daily on eHealth before the Legislature adjourned for its summer break earlier this month.
"It is obviously a desperate attempt to contain the mess," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, noting that just last week McGuinty was saying no further action would be taken until ongoing investigations of eHealth are completed by Ontario Auditor-General Jim McCarter and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"Those things are still out there."
McGuinty said he is "very open" to making more changes depending on the recommendations that result from the two investigations.
The Progressive Conservatives called the closed loopholes "too little, too late" and maintained Caplan has to go because the problems occurred on his watch.
"To employ consultants who never had to bid, who were billing for time that they spent talking to themselves, is patently ridiculous," said MPP Peter Shurman (Thornhill).
Horwath said it's inexcusable that eHealth and a predecessor agency have spent at least $700 million to develop electronic health records for Ontario patients and yet a full system remains years away.
It's not surprising McGuinty turned to the American-born Burak, 62, to clean up the mess. Aside from heading the Ontario public service for Harris for five years ending in 2000, she was chair of the board at Hydro One after its executive salary and spending scandal and has a reputation for running a tight ship.
Under the new policies, consultants to government ministries and agencies will no longer be able to bill taxpayers for hospitality, incidentals and food expenses, but can charge for flights, train and car travel and hotel rooms.
McGuinty said it's tough to legislate "common sense" but urged consultants to think before filing their expense claims.
"If you couldn't sit down in front of a family at the breakfast table and say, `I'm submitting the bill for this or for that' and look them straight in the eye, then maybe you shouldn't be submitting that bill."
Aware that it is running behind on efforts to build a system of electronic health records for Ontarians - aimed at saving lives by minimizing potentially deadly prescription errors - eHealth had been awarding contracts to consulting firms like Courtyard without competitive bidding under rules that allowed such actions on urgent matters.
McGuinty said "there is a way to move expeditiously" on contracts while still seeking competitive bids.
As the Star revealed Saturday, Courtyard was awarded another $435,000 in provincial work last year without having to compete for the deal. It was a contract for the ministry of training, colleges and universities to assess the capital needs of colleges and universities.
McGuinty also said he's aware that some government agencies, such as Cancer Care Ontario, remain outside the jurisdiction of freedom of information legislation that would allow citizens to submit requests to see contracts and other details, and he's not sure there is "good rationale" for that.
"There's probably more work to do," said McGuinty, whose government has already expanded salary disclosure laws to agencies like Cancer Care Ontario, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Travers: Sputtering gasps of life won't revive Parliament.

Huh! Parliament is supposed to go into hibernation in the summer anyway! With the Harper Ignatieff deal no election call will disturb the summer rest period.
The Ignatieff ploy of requiring the Conservatives to give a periodic report is not necessarily a bad tactic but only if he is ready to commit to an election. Apparently he is not at present so he looks as if he is playing Dion II supporting the Conservatives. This time around he tries to disguise this by rhetoric about making parliament work and having a joint group to study the EI issue. In effect this means that those out of work will get nothing until the fall at the earliest. As Travers points out, then there will probably be an election. If there had been an election now the matter would have been sorted out before then probably.
The result will be different when the report comes up in September if Ignatieff and the other two opposition parties want an election. The problem is that if the Liberals are doing very well the other two parties may not play along and if they are not then Ignatieff will have to pull off Dion III.

Sputtering gasps of life won't revive Parliament
TheStar.com - Canada - Sputtering gasps of life won't revive Parliament
June 18, 2009 James Travers
OTTAWA—Don't be deceived; instant election relief is not a cure. This still infant 40th Parliament, the one awkwardly born just last October, is dead. It's just not ready to lie down.
In the way of headless chickens, it will stagger around until the end of September, the newest deadline for toppling Conservatives, or perhaps make it as far as a late winter federal budget. But this week's spasm is only another symptom of the fatal disease that struck before Christmas. Hyper-partisanship and a fascination with the jugular remain the capital's common characteristics.
Little remains from the PM's post-election promise of collegial cooperation. Ottawa's repeating pattern begins with political abuse of an economic statement and ends, as it did again this week, in a needless crisis.
Last November, Conservatives destroyed trust by soft-pedalling the tough times ahead in a fiscal update that went hard at Conservative rivals by arbitrarily announcing pivotal changes to party funding. Predictably, an existential threat brought an existential response. Liberals and the NDP, with Bloc support, tried to form a coalition that had far more constitutional than public legitimacy.
Last week, Stephen Harper made his second, glowingly positive stimulus spending report, not to Parliament but to a captive audience reeking campaign hoopla. Michael Ignatieff, having foolishly locked his party into periodically deciding to pass or fail a government "on probation," responded by pushing the country to the precipice of a summer election Liberals are far from ready to fight.
Repeating the same behaviour while expecting a different result is one definition of insanity. Another is presenting a frighteningly narrow escape as a brilliant exit strategy. Harper and Ignatieff blended the two yesterday by jointly boasting that cleaning up their own mess is housekeeping that would make Molly Maid proud.
A makeshift committee of MPs isn't needed to make obvious and urgent short-term adjustments to an employment insurance system that's regionally skewed and failing to cope with this recession's staggering job losses. It is needed to save face and avoid a summer election the two party leaders now agree isn't fully in either's interest.
Conservatives are struggling against economic tides and opinion polls. Liberals have yet to make a compelling case for forcing Canadians to vote for the fourth time in five years, or that a once-dominant party has a reason to return to power – other than power itself.
Even so, a fragile flower is sprouting in the rubble. Getting the two largest parties in a minority Parliament to at least discuss issues vital to Canadians is a stutter step forward. It grudgingly recognizes that in the absence of majority governments, a near certainty in the foreseeable future, a fresh model is required.
It's cold comfort for those who must wait at least three months for fair and more generous EI rules, but getting Harper to reconsider a national standard is what Ignatieff salvages from a testing week. Liberals will now tour the barbecue circuit talking EI reform and making the most of a minor success in holding Conservatives to account.
Harper's prize has a different glitter. A prime minister infamous for rigidity seized an unexpected opportunity to show flexibility without surrendering much of value.
Separating winners from losers matters inside this capital's bubble. It won't matter a bit across a country that can now wallow in summer without worrying until fall about the next crisis or Parliament's premature death.
James Travers' column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The battle of competing elites in Iran.

The picture you get from most coverage of events in Iran is of an election stolen by Ahmadinejad and of Mousavi as a reformer. However in the past Mousavi has been a very hard liner as shown in this excerpt from this article:

Who is Mir Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's main opponent in the election? He is an enigma wrapped in mystery. He impressed the Iranian youth and the urban middle class as a reformer and a modernist. Yet, as Iran's prime minister during 1981-89, Mousavi was an unvarnished hardliner. Evidently, what we have seen during his high-tech campaign is a vastly different Mousavi, as if he meticulously deconstructed and then reassembled himself.This was what Mousavi had to say in a 1981 interview about the 444-day hostage crisis when young Iranian revolutionaries kept American diplomats in custody: "It was the beginning of the second stage of our revolution. It was after this that we discovered our true Islamic identity. After this we felt the sense that we could look Western policy in the eye and analyze it the way they had been evaluating us for many years."Most likely, he had a hand in the creation of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Ali Akbar Mohtashami, Hezbollah's patron saint, served as his interior minister. He was involved in the Iran-Contra deal in 1985, which was a trade-off with the Ronald Reagan administration whereby the US would supply arms to Iran and as quid pro quo Tehran would facilitate the release of the Hezbollah-held American hostages in Beirut.

This is hardly the type of person the US would give their blessing to. Indeed Obama has said that no matter whether Mousavi or Ahmadinejad won, their policies would not be all that different and the US could have problems negotiating with either. However, the power behind
Mousavi is not really so much the protesters colorful as they may be and heroes of the western media. The power behind Mousavi is primarily the Shark, Rafsanjani and his motley crew of supporters including former prime minister Khatami:

Mousavi's electoral platform has been a curious mix of contradictory political lines and vested interests but united in one maniacal mission, namely, to seize the presidential levers of power in Iran. It brought together so-called reformists who support former president Mohammad Khatami and ultra-conservatives of the regime. Rafsanjani is the only politician in Iran who could have brought together such dissimilar factions. He assiduously worked hand-in-glove with Khatami towards this end.If we are to leave out the largely inconsequential "Gucci crowd" of north Tehran, who no doubt imparted a lot of color, verve and mirth to Mousavi's campaign, the hardcore of his political platform comprised powerful vested interests who were making a last-ditch attempt to grab power from the Khamenei-led regime. On the one hand, these interest groups were severely opposed to the economic policies under Ahmadinejad, which threatened their control of key sectors such as foreign trade, private education and agriculture.For those who do not know Iran better, suffice to say that the Rafsanjani family clan owns vast financial empires in Iran, including foreign trade, vast landholdings and the largest network of private universities in Iran. Known as Azad there are 300 branches spread over the country, they are not only money-spinners but could also press into Mousavi's election campaign an active cadre of student activists numbering some 3 million.


Western experts on Iran insist that Ahmadinejad had less support than the official results show. However, the only poll done by a Western organisation that had a transparent methodology showed that the official results were actually slightly less for Ahmedinejad than their poll had shown. The western press seizes upon the polls of Mousavi supporters. Those polls were so glowing that it was Mousavi who declared victory as the polls closed!
Again from this site:

More fundamentally, American “Iran experts” consistently underestimated Ahmadinejad’s base of support. Polling in Iran is notoriously difficult; most polls there are less than fully professional and, hence, produce results of questionable validity. But the one poll conducted before Friday’s election by a Western organization that was transparent about its methodology — a telephone poll carried out by the Washington-based Terror-Free Tomorrow from May 11 to 20 — found Ahmadinejad running 20 points ahead of Mousavi. This poll was conducted before the televised debates in which, as noted above, Ahmadinejad was perceived to have done well while Mousavi did poorly.American “Iran experts” assumed that “disastrous” economic conditions in Iran would undermine Ahmadinejad’s reelection prospects. But the International Monetary Fund projects that Iran’s economy will actually grow modestly this year (when the economies of most Gulf Arab states are in recession). A significant number of Iranians — including the religiously pious, lower-income groups, civil servants and pensioners — appear to believe that Ahmadinejad’s policies have benefited them.


Even the US and leftists in many other countries have endorsed the prevailing view in the US (actually western msm in general) that Ahmadinejad stole the electio. There is a link to the full poll report cited earlier in this excerpt:

Even the American left-wing has endorsed the US government’s propaganda. Writing in The Nation, Robert Dreyfuss presents the hysterical views of one Iranian dissident as if they are the definitive truth about “the illegitimate election,” terming it “a coup d’etat.”What is the source of the information for the US media and the American puppet states?Nothing but the assertions of the defeated candidate, the one America prefers.However, there is hard evidence to the contrary. An independent, objective poll was conducted in Iran by American pollsters prior to the election. The pollsters, Ken Ballen of the nonprofit Center for Public Opinion and Patrick Doherty of the nonprofit New America Foundation, describe their poll results in the June 15 Washington Post. The polling was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and was conducted in Farsi “by a polling company whose work in the region for ABC News and the BBC has received an Emmy award.” - You can find their report hereThe poll results, the only real information we have at this time, indicate that the election results reflect the will of the Iranian voters. Among the extremely interesting information revealed by the poll is the following: “Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin -- greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday's election.“While Western news reports from Tehran in the days leading up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad's principal opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran's provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead.“The breadth of Ahmadinejad's support was apparent in our pre-election survey. During the campaign, for instance, Mousavi emphasized his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favored Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Mousavi“Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.“The only demographic groups in which our survey found Mousavi leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians. When our poll was taken, almost a third of Iranians were also still undecided. Yet the baseline distributions we found then mirror the results reported by the Iranian authorities, indicating the possibility that the vote is not the product of widespread fraud.”There have been numerous news reports that the US government has implemented a program to destabilize Iran. There have been reports that the US government has financed bombings and assassinations within Iran. The US media treats these reports in a braggadocio manner as illustrations of the American Superpower’s ability to bring dissenting countries to heel, while some foreign media see these reports as evidence of the US government’s inherent immorality.


The aftermath of the Iran election has nothing to do with democracy but everything to do with people such as Rafsanjani and his coalition of collaborators attempting to steal the election from Ahmadinejad. While there may not be all that much difference between many of the policies of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, it would seem clear that most Western leaders would like Ahmadinejad to be turfed out. Rafsanjani is more willing to deal with the West and is more liberal in economic policies than Ahmadinejad and his influence on Mousavi would be strong.

More of the same. Harper-Ignatieff deal aka Dion II

Harper has won a reprieve again and the Liberals have caved. Ignatieff simply gave in with respect to EI and now it is to be examined by a study group of the sort the Conservatives love. Remember the one on the Afghan mission! Now nothing will happen on EI just when it is most needed. We will have another test of the Liberals in the fall rather than of the Conservatives. No doubt many people will forget that the Liberals have been failing these tests consistently since the Conservatives came to power. One thing that the Liberals and Conservatives do agree on and that is that they do not want a coalition, that is of the Liberals and the NDP with Bloc support, but it seems a quasi coalition between Liberals and Conservatives is just what Canadians want one worked out behind closed doors.
This is from CBC.

Harper-Ignatieff deal to study EI averts summer vote
PM warns fall vote could bring 'dangerous results' for country
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 17, 2009
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff reached a deal on Tuesday to examine employment insurance reform, averting the possibility of a summer election following days of speculation over the fate of the minority Conservative government.Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff outlines his party's positions on an agreement reached Wednesday with the Conservative government to avert a summer election. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
Earlier this week, Ignatieff had threatened to withhold confidence in a budget estimates vote on Friday unless Harper provided answers on a series of issues, including the Tories' unspecified plans for more EI proposals in the fall.
But after a series of face-to-face meetings in recent days, the political rivals agreed to create a working group on employment insurance that will have three members selected by the Liberals and three by the Conservatives.
During a news conference outside the House of Commons, the prime minister said he was "delighted" Canadians would not have to go to the polls in the summer and is "optimistic" a deal on "realistic" changes to the EI system could be reached.
“The good news we have today for people is that the breakthrough we actually have is a willingness of the government and the Official Opposition to work together on an important public policy matter,” he said.
Less than an hour earlier at the same location, Ignatieff told reporters the deal provided a "break to the impasse" over EI and secured "substantial gains" from the government.
"I feel that this is a good day for our country," Ignatieff said. "But more importantly, it's a good day also for this system of Parliament."
But Harper reiterated his party would not give in on Ignatieff's earlier proposal for a 360-hour annual threshold for EI eligibility, which the Tories have labelled the “45-day-a-year work week.”
"We are open to other changes, as I've said last week, and we're glad it's happening," he said. “We have all heard the message that the people of Canada do not want an election. The people of Canada want the parties to work together to fix the economy, and that is what we will be doing."
PM warns of 'opposition coalition' in fall
Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with the media outside the House of Commons on Wednesday after a caucus meeting. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)Under the pact, Harper agreed to give the Liberals an opposition day motion within eight days of the start of the fall session of Parliament — a key opportunity to trigger an election.
But the prime minister warned a fall election that he said "nobody wants" would bring "pretty dangerous results" for the country which is already struggling with a recession.
Harper also raised the spectre of the Liberals forming another proposed coalition with the NDP and supported by the Bloc, despite Ignatieff's repeated assurances the coalition idea was "dead."
"Nobody wants to see the opposition coalition we had at the end of last year," Harper said. "I think everybody in the public recognized the dangers that presents to the country."
He said his minority government has operated in an environment of "constant threat" of an election, which he didn't welcome or think was "useful."
"But when we're faced with them, we make sure we're prepared," he said.
But Ignatieff defended his actions as Opposition leader, saying it was his job to hold the government to account.
The Liberal leader also denied he had been bullied into backing down on his demands on employment insurance threshold.
"Do I look like I've been steamrolled? Next question," he said, and pointed to another reporter.
But NDP Leader Jack Layton, who agreed last year to topple Harper's Tories and form a coalition government with the Liberals under former leader Stéphane Dion, said the working group was "cold comfort" for 1.5 million unemployed Canadians contending with a flawed EI system.
He noted an NDP bill, with support from the Liberals and the Bloc, has already passed the House and could be amended to make immediate changes.
"We're open to changes. Let's get it done before the summer," said Layton, who was in Toronto on Wednesday celebrating the birth of his granddaughter.
"Sadly, these two decided to go off and have dinner and talk about their own futures a little bit more than they were thinking about the people who needed the help right now."
Report due by Sept. 28
The working group's discussions will include a consideration of the eligibility criteria for EI, including possible coverage for self-employed workers and lower eligibility thresholds.
During the discussions, the Liberals will also have access to several briefing documents and data collected by the government.
A report recommending any changes will be returned to the Prime Minister's Office and is expected by Sept. 28. It would then be presented to the House of Commons for examination.
The deal also calls for the government to produce another economic report card to the House of Commons that week. Ignatieff said this was a concession, while the prime minister said the extra report came at his government's suggestion.
The Liberals will support the government's main and supplementary estimates in a confidence vote in the House on Friday, while the Conservatives will support the Liberal opposition day motion on the same day.
'Productive' talks
The agreement comes following two meetings Tuesday by the political leaders in what the prime minister's spokesperson said were "productive" talks.
The talks were aimed at avoiding having opposition parties bring down the Conservative government in a confidence vote later this week on the government's most recent economic progress report.
Harper and Ignatieff also spoke by telephone on Wednesday morning.
Ignatieff has previously said he wants a single national eligibility standard for EI during the ongoing recession — meaning people could qualify for benefits if they've worked 360 hours in the previous 52 weeks, regardless of where they live. Currently, the eligibility criteria vary by region across the country, from 420 hours worked in Gander, N.L. to 700 hours in Winnipeg.
The Liberals argue that during times of economic crisis, it should be easier for people who lose their jobs to qualify for benefits.
Harper has said that such a change would be too expensive and that recently revamped EI benefits are already generous, including a $500-million program for retraining laid-off, long-tenured workers and a prolongation of EI payments for applicants who participate in longer-term training of up to two years.
Ignatieff 'choked': Duceppe
The NDP and Bloc Québécois have called for the EI eligibility threshold to be lowered permanently, not just for as long as the current recession lasts. Both parties said they will reject the Tories' latest economic report when its financial details are put to a vote on Friday.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa after Ignatieff and Harper, a fuming Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe suggested Ignatieff had followed in his Liberal predecessor's footsteps by propping up the Tories and entering into a "coalition" that would deliver "nothing for the unemployed.”
"He just choked,” Duceppe said of the Liberal leader. “He looked in the mirror this morning and saw Stéphane Dion.”
Ignatieff named MPs Marlene Jennings and Michael Savage, as well as his policy adviser Kevin Chan, as his party's three members for the group.
For the Conservatives, Harper said Human Resources Minister Diane Finley would join an official from her department and an as-yet unnamed Tory representative on the panel. With files from The Canadian Press

PM Ignatieff set for third meeting..

This is from the Globe and Mail.

This is all just a charade to dodge the Dion type ultimate vote that will occur on Friday when Ignatieff will support the Conservatives. Harper will throw him a few crumbs that Ignatieff can then claim show that he (Ignatieff) can make even a Harper government work for the benefit of Canadians particularly those who are unemployed. Of course Harper has already treated Ignatieff's original EI demans with disdain. Harper conveniently suggests that he meet with Ignatieff over the next few weeks, after the crucial Friday vote. This presupposes that Ignatieff will support the Conservatives on Friday! Ignatieff looks worse and worse to me every time he opens his mouth.

PM, Ignatieff set for third meeting

Brian Laghi and Jane Taber
Ottawa — The Globe and Mail, Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2009 08:48PM EDT
Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff held a second meeting tonight at the Prime Minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive as they continued to work for common ground to avoid a summer election.
The gathering followed on an hour-long tête-à-tête earlier in the day, both of which were characterized by aides as productive. A third set of talks have now been scheduled.
“The Prime Minister and Mr. Ignatieff had a second productive meeting and will speak again tomorrow morning,” Mr. Harper's spokesman, Kory Teneycke, told The Globe in an e-mail message.
Jill Fairbrother, Mr. Ignatieff's spokeswoman, described the meeting the same way.
The two men are trying to finds ways to head off a collision this Friday when the House of Commons votes on the future of Mr. Harper's government.
Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Harper, along with their top advisers Ian Davey and Guy Giorno, first met for about an hour this afternoon in the Prime Minister's Langevin Block office, located across the street from Parliament Hill where MPs were sparring in the daily Question Period.
Further details of that discussion and the evening talks at 24 Sussex were not immediately available.
The two leaders had reached a temporary détente last night after hours of high drama and political posturing in which it appeared the country was headed toward a summer election. Mr. Harper's office called the Opposition Leader's office to offer the meeting, concluding a day of back-and-forth negotiations conducted through press conferences and over the public airwaves.
By late Monday afternoon, the election hype had become muted, with Mr. Ignatieff climbing down from his threat to defeat the government on Friday by voting against its spending estimates if he did not get answers on four key issues. That was just after the Prime Minister gave a news conference in which he offered concessions, including a meeting this afternoon with the Liberal Leader on his most important demand – changes to employment insurance.
“I am not sticking to a Friday deadline,” Mr. Ignatieff said on CTV after listening to Mr. Harper's remarks.
The Liberal Leader said he heard a “couple of small yeses” from the Prime Minister, which means “we are making a little bit of progress ... progress toward making Parliament work.”
One of those “yeses” involved changes to employment insurance that would allow self-employed Canadians to pay into the program. Mr. Harper cautioned, however, that it is too big a change to do quickly.
“That's a very major design change we are looking at in the fall,” Mr. Harper said at his news conference. “Those kinds of changes and other major changes cannot be done on the back of an envelope in a few days. They do require some careful thought.”
He said he'd be happy to meet with the Liberal Leader “any time over the next few weeks to see if we can find some common ground” on EI.
Mr. Ignatieff has repeatedly asked for a temporary employment-insurance national-eligibility standard, which the government has said would cost too much. But the Liberal Leader told CTV Monday that he is willing to “look at anything responsible that will actually help Canadians.”
“If he can convince me that helping the self-employed targets those who can't get EI more effectively, I'm willing to listen,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “I'm trying to make Parliament work for the benefit of those unemployed people. ... But he's got to listen to me with respect.”
Mr. Ignatieff's other key areas of concern are stimulus spending on infrastructure, a timetable for getting the country out of deficit and a plan for dealing with the medical-isotope crisis.
With a report from Campbell Clark

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Harper willing to talk with Ignatieff to avoid election.

Ignatieff has left Harper all sorts of wiggle room even though on Harper's part he has explicitly rejected the demands that Ignatieff has made about EI. Ignatieff has in turn simply back-pedaled on the issue.
I saw Ignatieff in a short interview with Peter Mansbridge. He was extremely weak in my opinion. When Mansbridge asked him what his bottom line was, where he would draw the line as far as Harper's responses were concerned, Ignatieff looked to be weaker even than Dion. Ignatieff said he did not use terms such as ultimatum! He refused to say what would cause him to provoke an election. Harper will really have to exert himself to provoke Ignatieff into an election. The only hope to bringing down this government is that Harper uses this situation as an opportunity to make Iggy look even more a fool and wimp than he is. I expect Harper still has some tactical sense and will throw a few scraps to Iggy so that Iggy can claim he got Harper to give a few crumbs to Canadians none of whom after all want an election not even Rex Murphy!

Harper willing to talk with Ignatieff to avoid election
Liberals willing to vote no-confidence on Friday unless 'answers' given
Last Updated: Monday, June 15, 2009
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he is willing to meet Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to discuss his demands to avoid triggering a summer election, including further changes to the country's employment insurance system.
But Harper insisted Ignatieff was not taking a "realistic approach," saying major changes to EI "cannot be done on the back of an envelope in a few days."
He instead called for "dialogue" with Ignatieff over the summer on potential EI changes to be introduced in the fall.
“Mr. Ignatieff said he doesn’t want an election,” Harper told reporters Monday afternoon at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa.
“I don’t want an election. I don’t think anybody wants an election.”
The prime minister's comments came after Ignatieff listed a series of conditions earlier in the day that he said Harper must meet to avoid the Liberals toppling the minority Conservative government in a no-confidence vote slated for Friday in the House of Commons.
Ignatieff said his chief concern was getting more details from the government on additional employment insurance reforms before the House of Commons votes on budget estimates at the end of the week.
Harper again defended his government’s EI system changes, including a $500-million program for retraining laid-off, long-tenured workers and an extension of EI benefits if applicants participate in longer-term training of up to two years.
But he insisted the Conservatives would never support Ignatieff’s proposal for immediate, temporary change to the EI system that would make people eligible for EI benefits if they've worked 360 hours in the previous 52 weeks — regardless of where they live.Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff rises to question the government in the House of Commons on Monday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
After the prime minister spoke, Ignatieff said he saw Harper make "a couple of millimetre steps" that indicated he was willing to work with the Liberals.
However, the Liberal leader added it would be "a good idea" for them to meet before the vote — not over the summer as Harper suggested — because the Liberals are ready to vote against the government if he doesn't receive satisfactory answers.
"I think we need to meet a little sooner,” Ignatieff told the CBC's Don Newman.
Harper maintained the "easiest way" for Ignatieff to avoid a summer election is to have his party vote for the government's budget estimates on Friday and ensure stimulus funds continue to flow to Canadians.
"It's quite a contradiction," he said. "You can't say you're concerned about spending not happening and vote against giving the government the parliamentary authority to spend money."
The NDP and Bloc Québécois have already said that they will reject the economic report.
PM hints at EI access for self-employed
According to Ignatieff, the government must also provide "answers" on the following issues to maintain confidence from the Liberals:
Give more information about the rate of stimulus spending than included in last Thursday's progress report.
Show more details on the government's plan to contain the ballooning deficit, instead of offering what Ignatieff called "rosy projections."
Provide clearer answers on the government's plan to deal with Canada's medical isotopes shortage.
Ignatieff said the government's answers and performance so far on these issues "just aren't good enough."
"I don't need to have all the answers this week, but I need to be much surer in where we're going before I can safely vote in confidence at the end of the week," he said.
At the start of his statement, Harper also took a shot at Ignatieff, saying he came to the National Press Theatre to answer questions from reporters because he mistakenly thought the Liberal leader would ask them during Monday's question period.
Ignatieff's two questions before the House focused on the government's handling of the isotopes shortage, which Harper classified as a "long-term issue" the government was working to address.
During his news conference, Ignatieff said he was willing to extend the current session in Parliament and promised a "pragmatic" approach to resolving the EI issue.
"I am prepared to make compromises that will help the unemployed to get more help in tough times," he said.
The NDP and Bloc have called for the EI eligibility threshold to be expanded permanently, not just for as long as the current recession lasts.
Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe and the NDP's Jack Layton have also called for the elimination of the two-week benefit waiting period and for self-employed workers to have access to benefits, something Harper indicated on Monday the government was "committed to moving forward" on and discuss with opposition parties "over the next few weeks."
Speaking to reporters following Ignatieff's appearance, Duceppe criticized the Liberal chief for his "vague" and "inadequate" demands on the Harper government.
"I don't know what he wants," Duceppe said.
"Three of the so-called conditions are just reports, and the other one is saying that he wants to know the plan on EI. Knowing the plan and taking concrete action are very different."
Layton said Ignatieff missed an opportunity to press the government on improving EI and getting stimulus spending out the door faster.
"Neither of these things is happening,” Layton told reporters outside the House.
“When you require something and demand something, you use opportunities that exist to have the government’s direction changed, and he didn’t do that."With files from Rosemary Barton and The Canadian Press

Monday, June 15, 2009

Decision Day for Ignatieff aka as Dion II Day

Ignatieff makes it clear he does not want to defeat the Conservatives but is adopting a face saving measure that will allow the Conservatives to make some minor changes and then Ignatieff can claim that he is responsible for them. However, Harper could call Ignatieff's bluff by making few, none, or obviously trivial changes and then Ignatieff will look foolish if he supports the government. Of course he will look foolish to some extent anyway. We are about to see Dion II or new ways to prop up a minority government. The fact that Layton and the Bloc are so confidently opposing the government shows that they expect the Liberals to cave.

Decision day for Ignatieff

Michael Ignatieff is deciding whether to bring down the minority Conservative government.

This is from the Star.

Will handling of economy by Tories end in election call?
Jun 15, 2009 04:30 AM Les Whittington Joanna Smith Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA–Federal Liberals expect party leader Michael Ignatieff to steer clear of an absolute commitment to bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government when he gives his verdict today on the Conservatives' handling of the economic crisis.
But there is speculation that Ignatieff will threaten to defeat the Conservative minority later this week unless Harper agrees to improve the government's response to the recession, possibly by immediately moving to enrich employment insurance (EI) payments or speed up infrastructure payments.
The Liberal caucus is meeting at 10 a.m. today and Ignatieff will announce his decision publicly an hour later.
"I don't think Canadians want an election. I don't think I want an election," Ignatieff told CBC-TV yesterday. "But I have to do my job. And my job is to hold the government accountable."
Ignatieff spent the weekend studying the 234-page "report card" released Thursday on how the government is responding to the recession.
By demanding periodic report cards from Harper on the government's attempts to help Canada return to economic growth, the Liberals have put themselves in a tough corner.
Ignatieff's party has derided the latest Tory report card as inadequate and misleading. The Liberals say the government is not moving quickly enough to dispense billions of dollars in infrastructure spending to bolster the economy. And they say the EI program is failing jobless Canadians.
Under those circumstances, Liberals worry about political damage from continuing to prop up the minority government. Doing so repeatedly to avoid an election badly undercut the credibility of the Liberals' previous leader, Stéphane Dion.
But the alternative is not appealing, either. Forcing a summer election over the Conservatives' economic strategy during a deep recession could prompt a voter backlash, Liberals acknowledge. Harper is certain to contend an election battle would only delay delivery of federal spending.
Nonetheless, some Liberals favour a quick election while Canadians are smarting over the economy and the medical isotope crisis. But most seem content to wait at least until the fall to try to bring down the government.
Rejecting Harper's economic policies, the New Democrats and Bloc Québécois have already said they will vote against the government in a non-confidence vote on Friday. That means it will be up to the Liberals to defeat the government or keep it in power.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feds move to ban conditional sentences for serious crimes

This is the Conservatives doing what they like best, playing upon fear. At least it seems to work on the Liberals who will support the bill because they fear being a target of Conservative ads that would portray them as soft on crime. With their polls doing well the Liberals will cave even though this may alienate some of their own members.

Feds move to ban conditional sentences for serious crimes

Vancouver SunJune 13, 2009 1:23 PM

The federal government says it will introduce legislation to the House of Commons on Monday that seeks to tighten up restrictions on conditional sentencing of criminal offenders.
North Vancouver MP Andrew Saxton, parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, delivered the government's message in Vancouver for Attorney General Rob Nicholson.
"Our government believes that sentences passed in our courts must be meaningful, and they must reflect the severity of the crime committed," Saxton said, citing Metro Vancouver's recent increase in gang and drug related violence as a reason for the proposed legislation.
Saxton said the bill will tighten up current legislation, known as Bill C-9, which the Conservative government brought forward in 2006. Before being passed Bill C-9 was amended by the opposition during its committee stage.
The Conservatives wanted Bill C-9 to rule out conditional sentencing — where offenders are not jailed, but face severe restrictions on their freedom — for offences where the maximum penalty is 10 years in jail or more.
But the amendments allowed offenders guilty of non-personal injury crimes, which could include — depending on circumstances — theft over $5,000, robbery, arson and breaking and entering, to be eligible for conditional sentences.
Monday's bill once again seeks to make such crimes ineligible for conditional sentences.
"The proposed legislation will make it clearer to the courts which offences are not eligible for conditional sentences," Nicholson said in a news release.
According to Saxton, should the new bill pass, "conditional sentences will be reserved souly for less serious offences and those of low risk to comminity safety."
Saxton said he was "confident" the opposition would embrace the new legislation this time around.
Last week, the Conservatives also introduced legislation to repeal the "faint hope" clause, which gives those sentenced to life a shot at parole after 15 years.
Saxton could not say if his government plans on building more prisons or improving existing ones for a prison system that is already reported to be over burdened.
In 2006 Canada's prison population increased while the nation's crime rate fell to a 30-year low, including violent crime hitting its lowest point since 1989.
British Columbia's crime rate is above the national average and accounts for more than one quarter of the nation's drug crimes.
According to Statistics Canada nearly 10,000 Canadians were given conditional sentences in adult criminal court. Of those, 1,700 were for drug trafficking.
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