Showing posts from July, 2009

No Fall Election?

Perhaps Ignatieff wants to wait and see if he will ever get poll numbers near a majority; otherwise, it would seem he would rather work with the Conservatives than the Bloc and NDP. The Liberals are no real alternative to the Conservatives just more of the same but a little bit slower perhaps in moving to the right. Both Ignatieff and Harper are pro-US and will make sure that we lose more lives and spend more money to be junior partners in the U.S. empire building.
If anything Ignatieff is even more pro-US empire than Harper. The latter is just an admirer of the U.S. conservative movement whereas Ignatieff is a big fan of U.S. humanitarian imperialism so much so that he even supported the war in Iraq at first.

Summer poll could cool talk of election -- Summer poll could cool talk of election

July 30, 2009
Tonda MacCharles
Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA–The political rhetoric is still flying, but are Canadians listening?

A survey by Angus Reid Strategies for the Toronto Star shows the federa…

Ontario: eHealth spending mess deepens

While the untendered contracts are no doubt an issue, the $1.65 for a cup of tea does not seem excessive especially if it was specialty tea. If a board member is off in Florida one would think that they would just absent themselves rather than dinging the taxpayer for all the travel back and forth. Since these people are supposed to be updating medical records by putting them on line maybe they could also update their meeting process by having their meetings on line as well! - Ontario - eHealth spending mess deepens

Tanya Talaga
Rob Ferguson
Queen's Park Bureau
EHealth Ontario awarded $11 million more in untendered contracts than previously revealed, new documents show.

The documents, released in response to freedom-of-information requests, also indicate board members have billed for travel expenses from as far away as Florida to attend Toronto meetings.

They show the value of untendered contracts awarded by the agency is about $16 million – more than triple the $5 million re…

Federal NDP hopes to improve standing in Alberta

Hope springs eternal. I suppose the NDP has as much hope of doing better in Alberta as the federal Liberals who are also courting provincial voters. For some reason Albertans historically seem to take an all or nothing approach usually electing members from just the Conservative party with maybe one or two from other parties at the very most! Iggy's position on the Oil Sands developments is much more positive than that of Layton but whether that will help the Liberals much is doubtful. Voters in Harper's home province are not about to leave the Conservative fold in any large numbers I expect!

NDP hopes for inroads in Alberta

If at first you don't succeed, run, run again.

Alberta has historically been somewhat infertile ground for the federal NDP, but leader Jack Layton is hoping that "perseverance and determination" will lead the party to improve on its one-seat standing in the next federal election.

Layton was in Edmonton on Monday to see forme…

Harper's communications chief resigns..

Perhaps there is more behind this than meets the eye but the article certainly doesn't suggest much except perhaps the problems that Harper had at the G8 meeting. However, Teneycke does not seem to have been directly responsible for the error. Nevertheless he should have verified the material before letting Harper end up in a very embarassing situation.

PM communications chief Teneycke resigns
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:38 PM ET .
CBC News
Kory Teneycke, Stephen Harper's director of communications, is shown on Sept. 11, 2008, in Montreal. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)Kory Teneycke, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications, is resigning, CBC News has learned.

Teneycke said he told Harper just after Canada Day and before the G8 meeting in Italy earlier this month that he was going to step down.

"It's time to do something else, and the summer is a natural time to leave political jobs," he said.

Teneycke leaves the post just over a year int…

Canadian jobless numbers continue to rise..

These figures no doubt underestimate the jobless problem since many without jobs will not qualify for EI. However, the two main political parties are content to set up a panel to study the issue!
While profits may be inching up in some cases this is often due to cost containment rather than increased sales. Those on unemployment or having to spend all their money on their debts are not able to stimulate the economy through increased purchases. This is from the Globe and Mail.
Meanwhile the Conservatives are becoming more confident and expect the Liberals to again pass on forcing an election. As usual the deficit is being used to cut social services such as health care in B.C. Liberal and Conservative governments alike will take advantage of the deficit as an excuse for cutting social entitlements. Military entitlements are not included in this calculus.

The number of Canadians collecting jobless benefits is climbing sharply, hitting record levels certain to stoke mounting controversy ove…

Canada's Credibility on line in Americas

Whenever democracy is spoken of or emphasised I am always sceptical about what is up. Often democracy means the replacement of a system in which a ruling oligarchy of the powerful is replaced by a system where the same people rule but with a party system and voting that changed little. Arias was key in negotiating such a changeover in Latin America and that is why he is both a recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize and also a good ally of the U.S. It helps as well that he is an ardent free trader and champion of the sort of neoliberal economic policies that Washington loves.
The military in Honduras are led by the same people who were trained in the School of the Americas and helped the contras in Nicaragua.
Canada will be content to follow the lead of the U.S. Although keeping a somewhat low profile, the U.S. is behind the Arias talks and indeed probably helped write the negotiating terms. So far the coup leaders are not very co-operative but of late the military have said they woul…

B.C. police ordered to rein in Taser Use.

This is certainly heartening news. Hopefully, other provinces will also change their policies in light of the recommendations. Not much detail in this article. No mention of any blame attaching to some of the officers involved.

This is from the Ottawa Citizen.

B.C. police ordered to rein in Taser use
Recommendations of Dziekanski inquiry accepted in full
Canwest News ServiceJuly 24, 2009
The provincial government has directed "all police, sheriffs and corrections officers in B.C." to immediately "severely restrict the use" of Tasers in response to recommendations by the Braidwood inquiry.

B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed announced Thursday the government accepts all 19 recommendations made by retired judge Thomas Braidwood in his report on the first phase of the inquiry.

Braidwood, the head of the inquiry, called for "the threshold for use" of the weapons to be "significantly revised from 'active resistance' to the much higher standard of 'caus…

Flin Flon loses marijuana mine!

The new location of operations seems to be a secret! It is too bad that the pot producers could not get HudBay minerals to allow them to run the mine themselves but it seems the mining company is keen to close the mine down completely.
I wonder if the company will auction off the remaining plants to locals! That would be a nice going away party!

Patrick White

Winnipeg — From Globe and Mail
.Flin Flon is kicking its dope habit.

For nine years, the hardscrabble mining town more than 700 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg has been home to Canada's biggest legal grow op – the ganja mine, as it was known.

But thanks to a row between Prairie Plant and HudBay Minerals, the mining company that owns the high-security shaft where the marijuana is cultivated, the entire venture is going up in smoke.

“We've moved out; we're gone,” said Prairie Plant Systems President and CEO Brent Zettl. “It boils down to a disagreement between us and the senior management at HudBay.”


EI panel begins looking at EI reform

This is the type of exercise that the two big parties love, behind the scenes discussions with the great unwashed masses not even looking in to see what is happening. They are not even going to talk publicly about the process. This is real democracy at work.

Expectations low as panel begins looking at EI reform
Updated: Mon Jul. 20 2009 10:59:58 AM

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A panel of federal Conservatives and Liberals will hold its first face-to-face meeting this week to negotiate reforms to Employment Insurance.

But expectations are being kept very low and both parties have agreed not to talk publicly about the process.

Prime Minister Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff agreed to the six-person working group last month as the modest price for skipping a summer election.

No details on exactly when or where the panel will meet are being released.

The low-key process is contributing to a perception of the Liberals falling off the political radar.

Little has been seen or heard from Ig…

Brandon TV station sells for one dollar!

Years ago when I lived in Brandon and the Craig family owned CKX it was a cash cow! Now the udder has dried up. It remains to be seen whether the new ownership can make a silk purse from this sows ear to mix metaphors! Times are certainly changing as owners of local TV and newspapers are finding. The future is in cable and on the internet it would seem because that is where the advertising dollars have gone.
Claasen the head of the media company that bought CKX previously worked at a defunct Montreal newspaper. Sounds encouraging!
This is from the CBC.

CTV sells Brandon TV station for $1
Last Updated: Thursday, July 16, 2009 CBC News
CTV is selling its CKX-TV Brandon television station for $1 to Bluepoint Investment Corp., a Canadian company headed by media-industry figure Bruce Claassen.

The Brandon station, formerly owned by CHUM and before that by Craig Media, has been in danger of closing.

CTV had said it would not renew the station's licence and CBC has decided not to renew its af…

Alberta MLA turfed out of Tory Caucus for health policy criticism

Given the large majority that the Tories have in Alberta I guess they will not worry if they lose the odd member who feel a member should represent the interests of those who elected them. Health care cutbacks seem to be bipartisan these days as the BC Liberal government goes back on its election promise to save health care. For banks bailouts for health care cutbacks.

Alberta MLA kicked out of Tory caucus over health spending spat
Fort McMurray member Guy Boutilier has been asked to leave caucus after he made public complaints over funding delays for a long-term care facility in his constituency
“Last week, Mr. Boutilier spoke out against a government decision to delay building a long-term care facility in the oilsands boomtown that had been approved 18 months ago. Health minister Ron Liepert said the construction would be put off for four years.

Mr. Boutilier, who has held cabinet posts in both environment and international relations, said it doesn't make economic sense to put seni…

Budget Officer: Tax hikes or deep spending cuts necessary for surplus budget

This is exactly what the Conservatives do not want to hear. Flaherty unrealistically thinks that natural revenue growth when the economy turns around will put the budget back into the black. Given the choice between tax hikes and program cuts no doubt the Conservatives will cut back social programs claiming it is all those " entitlements" that cause the deficit and have to go.
This is from the Vancouver Sun.

Tax hikes, spending cuts needed for federal surplus: budget officer
By David Akin, Canwest News ServiceJune 12, 2009
OTTAWA - Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page says tax hikes or deep spending cuts are the only way the federal government's finances can return to a surplus position.

Page is the latest economic expert to suggest Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's plan to eliminate the deficit is unrealistic.

``Based on our analysis, even the analysis we did a few months ago, it will be very difficult to see a surplus within the next five years without significant di…

CSIS ignored Khadr's human rights.

It is hardly news that CSIS or RCMP intelligence ignored human rights. What would be news is if anyone were ever held responsible for it. Arar was paid millions by Canadian taxpayers for the wrongs done to him but no one in the intelligence agencies were punished. The US still considers him a member of Al Qaeda or at least that is the grounds upon which they rendered him to Syria for interrogation and torture. Arar has not even been able to get a court case off the ground in the U.S. for reasons of national security. Even Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper who are hardly left wing wackos thought the secret evidence the US revealed to them was no ground for changing their own opinions. Yet nothing happens.
Again Abdelrazik was on a no fly list at the request of the U.S. No evidence that can be revealed no evidence that could bring a charge so he just suffered in the Sudan and until Harper was forced by a court decision to allow him back to Canada.

CSIS ignored Khadr's human rights: …

Canada's minority fatigue.

Raphael Alexander: Canada's minority fatigue. Actually the poll results show that a coalition government is preferred by a greater number than any of the four options offered in the poll of a Liberal majority or minority or a Conservative majority or minority. Interesting that the pollsters already frame the poll questions in terms of a two party system. No bias there of course.

This is from the National Post.

A new Harris-Decima survey seems to indicate that Canadians tire of the long-standing stalemate in Ottawa, and long for a majority government. 64% of respondents would prefer a majority government over a minority one, up from 52% recorded in a similar survey in 2007.
As the Harris-Decima poll concludes, Canadians who might initially have believed a minority government would create cooperation between parties have instead been treated to four years of the rankest bitterness and petty squabbling. The constant election threats, posturing, and showdowns over minor …

Study: U.S. border security too rigid.

I would think that a universal approach would also ignore important differences at crossings even within Canada or Mexico. I notice from comments on this article that a lot of Canadians are becoming increasingly upset by their experiences crossing the border. Personally I have decided that I will never go through the U.S. when flying to the Philippines. Unlike other countries they take all your bags off the plane and you have to go recheck them. In Japan I just blithely walked from one part of the Narita terminal to another part where my plane to the Philippines was waiting. No customs no nothing and my bags were just automatically transferred to the other plane. My wife could not even come with me since she would have required a visa just to transfer to a different plane at the airport in the U.S.
One would think that business and tourist groups would be up in arms over this sort of regulation. But security even trumps business and tourism I guess.

U.S. border security too rigid: s…

Flanagan: Have the Liberals gone soft?

No doubt negative ads have a long history but there are negative ads and then there are negative ads. Many such ads give information out of context so as to lead people to incorrect conclusions. The Bloc Quebecois voting against minimum sentences for trafficking children under 18. The conclusion people probably would draw is that the Bloc is soft on the worst sort of criminals whereas their objection is simply that there are all kinds of cases and circumstances and judges should have the discretion over sentencing.
Flanagan notes that the Liberals too have used negative ads. This is a fine example of the tu quoque fallacy. Just because the Liberals do it too does not make the ads right.
Some negative advertising does indeed have significant informative functions. The attack ads against Ignatieff rightly point out that he was away from Canada much of his life and that he spoke of the U.S. as being his country but often attack ads are primarily emotive and the factual elements are often d…

Tories ship flack into key EI slot.

This is from the EdmontonSun.
Seems that it pays to be a Conservative attack dog even if you have been suspended for attacking people gratuitously. Where did the fuzzy blue sweater kind and gentler Harper go?

Tories ship flack into key EI slot

A Conservative communications official suspended from his job during the last election for accusing a fallen soldier's father of being a Liberal supporter has been promoted.
Ryan Sparrow is the new director of communications for Diane Finley, the minister of human resources and skills development -- the government department responsible for employment insurance.
Sparrow was suspended from the Conservative campaign team in September after he sent a television station an e-mail accusing Jim Davis, the father of Cpl. Paul Davis, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006, of wanting to attack the government because he supported Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

Davis had earlier criticized Harper's announcement …

New Afghan marriage law revised.

This is from my post to Allvoices but revised.

Sections of a new marriage law that to many observers appeared to legalise marital rape have been revised or left out. No doubt there was a great deal of pressure from outside Afghanistan to revise the law. Now the wife does not have to agree to have sex every four days just to do any housework she agreed to do. I wonder if the hubby has to agree to do his share too? Provisions now allow the wife to use her property without the husband's permission and also a section requiring her to get her husband's permission to leave the house has been removed. This law applies only to Shia women.
This article is from the CBC.
Meanwhile back in Saudi Arabia a staunch US ally there is no prolonged outcry or demand for real justice it would seem. Oil can smooth relations even in the face of outrages such as this: from AFP (2007). However in Saudi Arabia in spite of all restrictions more women than men are seeking higher education!

DUBAI (AFP) - Wome…

Health workers in Alberta told to shut up.

Notley is right. The weasel words in the document about conduct that is detrimental to the Alberta Health Care Services resulting in possble disciplinary action even termination if workers speak out is quite intimidating. Any criticism of the Super Board or of the way that the system fails to meet Alberta health care needs could theoretically be taken as detrimental to the Alberta Health Care Services. Almost any criticism of the system could be interpreted detrimental to Alberta Health Care Services if it happens to go against the interest of the powerful within that body.Indeed probably many actions that would better Alberta health care might be detrimental to Alberta Health Care Services at least in the opinion of those who count in that august Institution.

This is from the Edmonton Sun.
Health workers told to shut upBy KERRY DIOTTE

Alberta health-care workers need whistleblower legislation to allow them to speak out about flaws in the system, says NDP house leader Rachel Notley. Th…

Canada to spend 5 billion on armoured vehicles and repairs.

The Canadian government is spending billions of our money to help support US imperialism wherever it may rear its head but right now the main focus is on Afghanistan. The carnage resulting from US and NATO misadventures in Afghanistan are costing many Canadian, American and Afghan lives and there is no end in sight. In fact the US is trying to convince the government to commit to Canadian involvement after 2011. Might as well start spending now so the military industrial complex involved can start to profit right away when most sectors are suffering from the recession.

Canada to spend $5B for armoured vehicles, LAV III repairs
CBC News The LAV III is well liked by soldiers because of its ease of handling and protection. (Paul Hunter/CBC)The federal government confirmed Wednesday it will spend $5 billion to purchase new combat vehicles and maintain the existing fleet for the Canadian Forces.Defence Minister Peter MacKay made the announcement at CFB Gagetown in Oromocto, N.B., af…

U.S. trying to convince Canada to stay in Afghanistan after 2011

This is hardly a surprising development. What is surprising isk Brewster's claim that Harper personally does not want have Canada stay on after 2011. However, his views could change if the US actually formally makes requests but perhaps not. The mission is not popular and as casualties mount it will become even more unpopular.
Ignatieff on this issue is probably worse than Harper. He at one time supported the Bush invasion of Iraq and he is an intellectual cheerleader for U.S. humanitarian imperialism. Although the Liberal party is split on the issue many Liberals such as Harper's favorite John Manley are very much hawks on Afghanistan. Manley has served the Canadian business elite well and is now rewarded with a top job:

John Manley has been doing Tom d’Aquino’s job for years, says Council of Canadians
Ottawa - The appointment of former Liberal MP John Manley as president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) gives North America’s big business community a powerful n…

Nova Scotia: Inquiry into Tasering case resumed

The term excited delirium seems to be used only in special contexts usually when people die in police custody. Although it is a nice sounding phrase it is not recognised psychiatric terminology except perhaps by those testifying or writing for Taser Int. or police groups. For a coroner to use the term in a report just serves to help absolve police and Taser Inc. from blame.

Restraint, Taser use under scrutiny as Hyde inquiry resumes
Last Updated: Monday, July 6, 2009 10:48 AM AT
CBC News
An inquiry has resumed into the 2007 death of Howard Hyde, a Nova Scotia man who died 30 hours after he was jolted with a Taser.
Hyde, 45, was arrested Nov. 21, 2007, and taken to police headquarters in Halifax, where officers used a stun gun on him. He died in a Dartmouth jail after a struggle with guards.
Lawyers gathered in a Halifax courtroom Monday morning to discuss whether video surveillance tapes from the police station and the jail should be available …

Ignatieff shafts the Green Shift

The Liberal Party must never again run against such potential contributors to the party funds as the Alberta oil industry. No doubt Ignatieff will be able to hammer out some wonderful compromise on environmental issues with the Conservative party.

This is from the Calgary Herald.

The Liberal leader used his stump-style speech to tout the economic virtues and reach of Alberta's oilsands, urging Canadians to take pride in the mammoth industrial development, which has touched off international environmental opposition.
The one instinct I've had from the beginning about the industry at the heart of this economy is this is a national industry--a national industry in which all Canadians should take pride," Ignatieff told about 600 Grit supporters at the zoo. "The Liberal Party of Canada must never, ever, ever run against that industry or against Alberta."

Canada spins the truth in Afghanistan

This is an older post but relevant. News is being subtly controlled out of Afghanistan. Several days ago the police chief of Kandahar and other officers were shot by a group trained by the US and hired for anti-terrorist activity. There were a few news reports many of them murky and lacking in detail. However since June 29th there have been no new reports even though Canadians were involved in the aftermath of the attack. Supposedly the group is being sent to Kabul for a military trial. This is passing strange given that the military disavows any connection to the group. Karzai asked that they be turned over to Afghan authorities but there is no confirmation that this has happened. All the news in Afghanistan is about the US offensive in Helmand and the death of another Canadian. This article gives another example of news being embargoed when it suits authorities. The whole article is available at the National Post.

Friday, June 26, 2009
Presented by

Operation embargo: Canada spins the t…

Tory Attack ads target Bloc Quebecois on crime issue

The Tories are experts at pandering to irrational fear and tainting any party that dare criticise their hard line views on crime. In this case the PQ was defending the right of judges to use their discretion. Cases often vary considerably in their details and depending on circumstances a more severe or lighter sentence would be reasonable. But not for the Tories.

New Tory attack ads target Bloc Quebecois on crime issue
The Canadian Press
The federal Conservatives have launched a new series of attack ads targeting the Bloc Quebecois on the crime issue.
The message features a blurry picture of a small boy leaving a park hand-in-hand with an older man while a nearby swing sits empty.
The campaign targets the Bloc as the only party to vote against a bill in April imposing minimum sentences for the trafficking of children.
The ad also states the Bloc prefers `sweet deals for criminals' and accuses Bloc MPs of voting `against the protection of children.'
Quebec Conservative MP Steven Blane…

Cannon Wants to Push Afghan Mission

No doubt Cannon is being urged to do this by the U.S. No more word on attempts of the U.S. to convince Canada to stay on after 2011. No word word either on the killing of the police chief of Kandahar and other officers by a shadowy private group of guards hired by the U.S. for counter terrorism activities. Canada was involved in securing the area afterward and perhaps also in arresting and disarming them probably at the base outside of Kandahar.

This article is from the Vancouver Sun.

Minister wants to push Afghan mission

It's time for the United Nations to significantly step up its effort in Afghanistan beyond the capital, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon is expected to tell the organization's Security Council today.
While Cannon will say the UN is playing a critical role in helping to organize the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections, he will also call for greater UN presence in areas beyond Kabul where the bulk of Canadian troops operate.