Showing posts from January, 2010

Walkom: A whiff of danger for Harper.

Somehow I am sceptical about the supposed danger that Harper faces if he does nothing--which is exactly what I expect him to do. While legal theorists and human rights activists are rightly concerned about human rights the government's violation of them in Khadr's case, Khadr is quite unpopular and human rights apparently are only for those not accused of being terrorists. One only needs to look at the case Obama who is arguably a bit more progressive than Harper and certainly knows more about law. The Obama administration is content to hold 47 Guantanamo suspects indefinitely without trial. So much for habeas corpus. Why have a Star Chamber court when you just imprison people and throw away with the key with no trial at all. Where is the outrage at this? Compared to this Harper's transgressions are hardly newsworthy.

This is from the Star.

Back to Walkom: A whiff of danger for Stephen Harper
Walkom: A whiff of danger for Stephen Harper
January 30, 2010

Thomas Walkom

With its d…

Supreme Court rules that Harper need not try to repatriate Khadr.

Although the Court did not order Harper to ask for the repatriation of Khadr it did note that Khadr's human rights were violated by Canadian officials. Of course the Harper government will just ignore this part of the ruling. No officials will suffer any penalties. Canada is the only country not to try to repatriate its citizens from Guantanamo. Khadr will be left to be tried by a US military tribunal most likely even though he should have been treated as a child soldier.

Khadr repatriation overturned by top court
By Emily Chung, CBC News
Omar Khadr shown at a U.S. military hearing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January 2009. (Canadian Press) The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned lower-court orders that the federal government must try to repatriate Toronto-born Omar Khadr from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

However, the top court agreed Canadian officials violated Khadr's human rights, and that he continues to be threatened by the effect of those violations.

In a u…

Ignatieff pledges to give Federal watchdogs more bite

Some of these proposals have a telltale odor of opportunism about them. Ignatieff is taking advantage of the fact that Harper has tried to get rid of watchdogs or clip their wings so to speak. Ignatieff refuses to go into details but is trying to make hay while the gloom shines on Harper! Polls seem to suggest that perhaps Ignatieff's policy of saying little positive but launching a few jobs when he can may be working as Harper continues to punch himself.

Ignatieff pledges to give federal watchdogs more bite

Daniel Leblanc and Colin Freeze

Ottawa — From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

.Weakening the office of the prime minister has emerged as a new theme for Michael Ignatieff, with the Liberal Leader promising yesterday to strengthen agencies that oversee the Canadian Forces, the RCMP and other federal bodies.

If his Liberals were to form the government, Mr. Ignatieff said he would gladly deal with headaches stemming from the independent criticism of their actions. The proposal was mad…

Canadians becoming more suspect of their politicians and government.

These results are not surprising. Fortunately, Canadians are finding new methods of expressing their political views and influencing public opinion. The party operatives will be kept busy finding ways to co-opt these new methods and most likely turn them to their partisan advantage. This is from the Star.

Canadian political disconnect 'growing'

Tonda MacCharles

OTTAWA–A new study, on the heels of public clamour over the suspended parliamentary session, claims Canadians are jaundiced about the state of democracy here.

The report, to be released Wednesday by the Institute of Wellbeing, says Canada is experiencing "a huge democratic deficit, with trust in Canadian government and public institutions on a steep decline."
These results are not too surprising. Fortunately, it seems that Canadians are finding new ways to be involved in politics and influence public opinion. No doubt this will present a new challenge for party operatives to co-opt and neutralise or more likely …

How low can the Harper government stoop?

Not content with proroguing parliament so that it can avoid more questions about what it knew about torture of Afghan prisoners the government is now refusing to pay legal fees of Richard Colvin after the testimony he gave was damning to the government. I hope that Ignatieff summons enough courage to defeat this government along with opposition help but that is probably wishful thinking.

Colvin being punished by government: lawyer
Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service

REUTERS/Chris Wattie
OTTAWA -- Richard Colvin, the man who alleged that the government turned a blind eye to his allegations of torture in Afghan jails, is being punished for his revelations, says his lawyer.

In a letter Monday, Toronto attorney Owen Rees asserted there is a "reasonable belief" that the government is retaliating against Mr. Colvin by refusing to pay his legal bills for an independent lawyer.

Mr. Rees, in his letter to the Military Police Complaints Commission, said that the government stopped paying …

Where or where is Liberal policy gone?

It seems that there is a deliberate Liberal strategy of representing nothing to anyone except to be an alternative to Harper for everyone! Imagine a supposed intellectual saying that he does not want to scoop himself. Rather he does not want to lay out any policies that the Tories might attack and take attention away from their own faults. But if he had a decent set of policies that Canadadians accepted a Conservative attack would simply be counter productive for them. The idea that Harper is simply going to defeat himself may be correct but more likely it is wishful thinking.

In search of Liberal policy
By Susan Riley, The Ottawa Citizen
Will the thinking never end? The federal Liberals are competitive in the polls again, but how sustainable is their revival if they continue to be coy about their agenda?

Not that they appear to have an agenda, hidden or otherwise. All leader Michael Ignatieff offered on a recent tour of university campuses was predictable criticisms of Prime Minister S…

Canada's former ambassador to Tehran Ken Taylor was a CIA spy.

It is hardly surprising that those who were supposed to be working for Canadian interests were actually working for US interests. The fact that our two interests might conflict or diverge doesn't come into the picture nor does the fact that the Canadian public had no idea that our public servants were serving as spies for a foreign country. There is no public right to know things like that. Even when it should be obvious that our present mission in Afghanistan is actually as a junior partner in US imperialism spreading the pain through NATO this never comes up. It is off the radar of the mainstream press. This is from the Globe and Mail.

Canada's man in Tehran was a CIA spy

Former Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor. Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail
The diplomat praised for sheltering Americans during the Iranian Revolution tells The Globe he was made 'de facto CIA station chief' in a secret deal between a U.S. president and prime minister Joe Clark

• Michael Valpy

From Saturday'…

Layton wants to limit power to prorogue parliament

Layton's changes would make prorogation much more democratic. But one cannot expect Harper --who wants an elected Senate but uses the time during prorogation to pack it with Conservative hacks-- to press for more democracy when it would actually make the system more democratic.

Layton calls for limits on powers to prorogue
CBC News
There should be limits on the ability of the prime minister to prorogue Parliament, NDP Leader Jack Layton said Wednesday.

He said his party will call for legislative changes that would require a majority vote of MPs for the prorogation of Parliament.

"This will inform the governor general of the will of the majority in the House of the people — that their work has been completed and they want to reset and prepare for the future," Layton said in Ottawa after a caucus meeting. "It shouldn't happen whenever the prime minister feels like it."

He also called for MPs to be brought back before the March 3 return date set by Prime Minister S…

Harper charts Conservative course for ship of state.

Ivison could have mentioned that Harper also wanted to get rid of all the pesk parliamentary committees that caused him to issue directives on how to sabotage them. Also, the great helmsman who wants an elected Senate wants to pack it with Conservative appointees before the next session. Harper wil have to squeeze the civil service and wreck their pensions, do away with entitlements in the name of reducing the deficit. This will all have to be done while producing the least fuss possible. We will have to wait and see how much Harper is willing to cut. Certainly he will need to keep his eye on the polls or perhaps he will just do his duty and collect his reward after he is defeated with some nice job or jobs in the private sector.

Harper charts conservative course
PM preparing his government for fiscal prudence

John Ivison, National Post

Stephen Harper sees nothing wrong with power, as long as he is the one wielding it. He once said governments that avoid dissent rapidly lose their moral …

Federal Civil Service Unions worry about Conservative attack on pensions.

No doubt public service union workers are well advised to be ready for the Conservative onslaught on workers and especially unionised workers. As Milton Friedman once observed deficits are in some ways useful in that they provide a justification for cutting out social programs and entitlements such as are involved in these public sector union pensions. Recessions also are useful to capital in that they lower wages and make it difficult for unions to improve the lot of workers. This in turn will increase profits once there is any sort of turnaround. Notice that since last March stock markets have been going up even though unemployment especially in the US is at record low levels.

Federal civil servant unions gird for battle over generous pensions

By Kathryn May, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA — Canada's 18 federal unions are meeting in Ottawa for two days starting Tuesday to develop a united front against what they believe is the Harper government's gathering assault on the public se…

Flaherty claims he will balance budget without spending cuts or tax increases

Flaherty's predictions do not seem at all in line with those of Kevin Page the parliamentary budget watchdog. Flaherty seems to have an exceedingly optimistic view of economic growth and how that could improve the budget; alternatively, he may have an ostrich approach burying his head in the sand and ignoring upcoming continuing deficits. Perhaps he is anxious to avoid setting out a budget later that has spending cuts and tax increases as that might galvanise even Ignatieff to vote against the Conservative budget.

Flaherty stands by claim to balance budget
CBC News
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is standing by his assertion that he can deal with the deficit without spending cuts or tax increases.

He made his comments during a news conference Friday after speaking at a business conference in Toronto on the Canadian economy.

Parliamentary budget watchdog Kevin Page predicted Wednesday that the deficit will still be $18.9 billion by late 2013 — more than $8 billion higher than Flaher…

Alberta invests in family medicine program

Stelmach no doubt is reacting to his poor polls and criticism of Alberta Health. The money is directed to Calgary where Stelmach is probably least popular. This is a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease with no money going to Edmonton or elsewhere. However, no doubt doctors who pass through the program will probably practice throughout the province and the need in Calgary does seem quite high.

$8M aimed to fix shortage of family doctors
CBC News
The Alberta government is spending $8 million to help direct more medical school graduates toward family medicine, where there is a chronic doctor shortage.

The funding, announced Thursday, will go to the family medicine department at the University of Calgary to:

Train more medical students and physicians in family medicine.
Create five new faculty positions.
Support research.
"[The funding] helps stabilize our department. It helps it grow and build greater capacity," said Dr. David Keegan, the department's undergraduate educat…

Harris Decima poll: Federal Tory Lead slipping

This decline is not surprising and it comes despite the fact that Ignatieff waited a couple of weeks after the announcement to come back to Canada. Now of course the negative ad machine is trying to play catchup. Harper has again shown himself to be a master at manipulation that just makes people mad. He also seemed to suggest that democracy was bad for markets. Maybe Ignatieff is doing things right, leave a policy vacuum and let Harper self-destruct. However, the Tories are still ahead and no doubt when the parliament reconvenes Ignatieff will carry on the strategy of the Dion days. Sustain the Conservative government until the polls are better. Or the mantra will go that Canadians do not want an election! This is from CTV.

Prorogation takes hit on Tory lead: poll

The Canadian Press

Updated: Thu. Jan. 14 2010 4:05 PM ET

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper is paying a price for underestimating opposition to his decision to suspend Parliament.

The Canadian Press Harri…

Ignatieff says fixing unemployment should be first priority.

Ignatieff certainly is not showing any leadership and he seems to avoid policy pronouncements like the plague. He seems to fear if he sets forth any policy that somehow the Conservatives will shoot it down. His only strategy seems to be to hope that Harper makes big mistakes and that he will win by default. Ignatieff outlined no policies for reducing unemployment himself. He does not want to scoop himself. What a clown.
Ignatieff may be fortunate that Harper may be alienating people by proroguing parliament. But it seems that Ignatieff is too chicken to challenge Harper again on the budget. Ignatieff will have to sniff the polls but it is unlikely they will be likely to make the Liberals high enough to force an election. We will likely see a return to the Dion days of propping up the Conservatives.

Ignatieff sets sights on students
Fixing unemployment is job No. 1: Liberal chief
By HUBERT BAUCH, The GazetteJanuary 13, 2010

Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said yesterday his priori…

Canada and US economies to grow slowly in 2010

In spite of the relatively modest growth forecasts for next year stock markets in both countries have staged a remarkable comeback from their March 2009 lows. Perhaps they will be due for a correction some time early this year. Most of the growth in profits has been through cutting back costs rather than through increased demand for goods. Soon the government will cut back stimulus money and begin trimming programs to try and bring deficits under control and this could very well stall the recovery.

Canada, U.S. GDP growth in 2010 to be 'tepid': forecast
CBC News
The economies of Canada and the United States will grow about half as much in 2010 as they did in previous recoveries, according to a new forecast released Wednesday.

A group of five prominent Canadian economists, speaking at the Toronto-based Economic Club of Canada, said Canada and the United States will see gross domestic product growth of between 2.5 to three per cent in 2010.

"Not particularly vigorous for the f…

Harper insists military mission in Afghanistan to end by 2011.

What is noticeable about this article is not that the military mission will end so much as the assumption that some other types of missions will be continued. Many other missions will require military protection. Of course this could be carried out by other NATO troops. Hopefully there will be debate about whether there should be any further missions in Afghanistan. I expect that the Liberals will be happy to go along with any mission that is non-combat and perhaps even the NDP might support such a scheme of throwing good money after bad and ensuring that there are still some Canadian casualties. This is from the Globe and Mail.

PM unequivocal on Afghanistan withdrawal
Gloria Galloway

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers – notably Defence Minister Peter MacKay – have been saying for some time that the military mission in Afghanistan will end in 2011.

At some points, however, they have talked about the withdrawal of the troops being followed by a humanitarian effort led by civi…

Spector: Harper already looking for a new job?

I think that Spector is a bit premature. Probably Harper would at the least like to retire after achieving a majority government but that may not be soon or may be never! Liberals are already mounting an attack ad campaign and if the polls shift away from Harper the Liberals along with the opposition may decide to bring down the government in the Spring. However so far there does not seem to be any swing towards Ignatieff and without that Harper is safe.
This is from the Globe and Mail.

The beginning of the end for Stephen Harper
Norman Spector

Perhaps Prime Minister Stephen Harper genuinely thinks that Gilles Duceppe will not lead the Bloc into another election — thus opening the door in Qu├ębec to his ministrations. Or maybe Mr. Harper truly believes that Canadians will warm to the kinder gentler Prime Minister we’ve been seeing in his increasingly rare appearances in the Commons for Question Period, as well as in recent interviews. There will be no shortage of self-interested aides and…

The Nova Scotia NDP: Old Wine, New Bottles,

Perhaps Fodor has the situation reversed. What you have is New Wine the Conservative ideology in the Old leftist bottles. The left in the UK managed to transform itself into a form of Thatcherism lite and the NDP in Canada is to a considerable extent trying to create the Third Way with Canadian characteristics! Note that no one sees anything remarkable or outrageous about Gary Doer-the former NDP premier of Manitoba-- being Harper's man in Washington or vigorously defending the Conservative environmental record. Tired of being out of power the NDP sees moderation as being the key to obtaining power and moderation means adopting policies associated with the right. Before the left can take power in any meaningful sense it must be able to attract voters to a leftist program. J.S. Woodsworth once remarked that a federal election was a great victory for the CCF because something like 16 per cent of the electorate had voted for a socialist platform. Nowadays of course the power seekers …

NDP slams parliament suspension..

While Harper may in part be trying to avoid criticism what is probably more important is to pack the Senate and get rid of parliamentary committees that bothered Harper. Harper considers parliament and parliamentary processes as some sort of barrier to be overcome or disbanded when he does not like what they are doing. Here is the champion of a party that wanted a triple E senate now packing it just as those terrible Liberals would do if they got a chance. So much for change and accountability.

NDP slams Parliament suspension

Two prominent local NDP members slammed the Conservative government for suspending Parliament until March 3.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to avoid criticism from the elected members of Parliament on not properly handling prisoners and violating the Geneva Convention, NDP riding association president Norm Slater said.

"When Jean Chretien prorogued Parliament in order to avoid criticism…

Dementia cases to increase dramatically

Thirty years is a long time and perhaps in that time many more effective treatments will be found. On reading this article one wonders whether the statistics are wrong or simply manipulated to make the situation sound more dire than it is. The accumulative cost over thirty years is 872 billion which divided by thirty gives an average cost or around 29 billion a year a little less than twice the present cost. However the data is presented by the article as a ten fold increase. Perhaps that is so although the article does not give any indication how that was arrived at. In any event this would be in 2038. We hadn't been paying anything close to that in earlier years. Nevertheless the article still shows that dementia is an important issue and everything possible should be done to lessen the effects of the increase in cases.

Huge wave of dementia cases coming, warns report
Updated: Mon Jan. 04 2010 10:40:29 AM News Staff

So many Canadians are expected to develop Alzheimer's d…

Travers: Harper creating dangerous legacy

This article is surely a cut above most of Travers' work. Perhaps this is because most of it agrees with my own opinions! Anyway Travers makes a lot of good points. Imagine what Harper would do if he had a majority that imposed no restraints upon him. However, as Travers himself points out the opposition Liberals seem hardly a credible alternative. There are other alternatives though, that is voting for the NDP, the Greens, and other parties. It is unlikely that this will result in Tweedle Dee(Conservatives) and Tweedle Dum (LIberals) being defeated by a third party but it will put some restraints upon what the winning party can do wrong by ensuring that there is not another majority government. Unless Ignatieff begins to advance some policies that capture the imagination of Canadians and shows more skill in countering the Conservative attacks against him while attacking them successfully there seems not much hope for the Liberal party. Right now he seems to have gone back into …

Drone strikes in Pakistan had 12.5 per cent accuracy.

Although these are surgical strikes according to the official spin the surgeon strikes the wrong victim about seven out of eight times. In the US everyone gets excited if a doctor takes off the wrong leg just once but at least that doctor did not kill his victim. It seems to cause little fuss not only that the drone is judge and executioner without any trial but that innocent people are often killed. What on earth is wrong with people. Imagine if authorities used drones within the USA to target criminals and as a result killed 7 inn0cent people for every criminal eliminate. Drone attacks would never begin yet alone be increased. This is from presstv.

In Pakistan, more civilians fall victim to US drones

The civilian mortalities from US missile attacks on the Pakistani soil in 2009 indicate a threefold increase in compared to the previous year.

Using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones to carry out the attacks, the US Central Intelligence Agency, in cooperation with the Pentagon, are …