Showing posts from March, 2010

No Means No. Maybe!

While there may be no longer any combat troops in Afghanistan after 2011, this does not mean that no troops will be there. There could very well be still quite a few non-combat troops devoted to training etc. and these troops could very well be involved in combat in self defense. The article makes no mention of this issue nor of course did Prime Minister Harper. This is from the Globe and Mail.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 9:48 AM
No means no, PM tells Clinton
Jane Taber

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this morning that Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan ends in 2011.

Mrs. Clinton did not ask that Canada keep troops in Afghanistan past the 2011 deadline, a Harper official told The Globe. Rather, the issue came up as the two were speaking about issues in Iran and Afghanistan.
“In the discussion on Iran and Afghanistan the Prime Minister reiterated [Canada’s position],” a senior Harper official said.
Mrs. Clinton made headlines across the country yes…

Military mission in Afghanistan will be over in 2011 but will troops remain?

Cannon's answer is clear and at the same time unclear about whether troops will remain in Afghanistan. The U.S. probably will request more troops and I would not be surprised if Ignatieff might support this if they are involved in other than combat roles. Right now he is just trying to embarrass the Conservatives a bit and put them on the spot. However, he is eliciting nothing but a weasel word response as might be expected. This is from the Globe and Mail.
Afghan withdrawal date puts
Lawrence Cannon in hot seat
Jane Taber

Michael Ignatieff is demanding a vote in Parliament on any extension to the military mission in Afghanistan, accusing the government of conducting foreign policy in secret.
The Liberal Leader was reacting to a report in The Globe and Mail today that the U.S. government will request Canada keep as many as 500 to 600 troops in Afghanistan after the military mission ends in 2011. According to the story, sources inside and outside government say the formal request is …

Ignatieff the Great Liberal Thinker...

Ignatieff may be thinking while Liberal political fortunes burn up. So far he has not been able to catch up with Harper in the polls so he and his party will be left trying to explain to everyone that Canadians do not want an election now. Now will be however long it takes for Liberal fortunes to improve considerably. This is from the GlobeandMail.

Michael Ignatieff puts his thinking cap on
with 'practical Canadians'
Jane Taber

MONTREAL – Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told participants at his thinkers conference this morning that it felt good to get out of the Ottawa bubble and put partisan politics aside.
As he said that some of the most partisan Liberals in the country were staring right back at him – former prime ministers Jean Chrétien, John Turner and Paul Martin; former Liberal leaders Bill Graham and Stéphane Dion; former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna; a whole host of Liberal MPs and some former party strategists thrown in for good measure. They are here for par…

Coulter safe and maybe sound at Calgary

Coulter thrives on goofiness. She is glad to be in the English Speaking part of Canada but everyone knows that Albertans speak Texan. I have not heard that Coulter spoke any French at the University of Ottawa and no doubt most of her audience were anglophones. At least University of Calgary authorities did not engage in any stupid warnings to her that she ought to make sure she does not trespass hate laws! As one would expect nothing untoward happened. How come Coulter has not made it to some no fly list? This is from the National Post.

Coulter on tour: U.S. should annex 'everything from Calgary west'
Kevin Libin, National Post

The first public comment Ann Coulter made after touching down at Calgary's airport on Wednesday evening was "Already I feel safer."

And on Thursday night, at the University of Calgary, there was nothing like the of the pandemonium that greeted Ms. Coulter at the University Ottawa earlier this week, where masses of protestors demanding the…

James Travers: Liberal Fest Will be Lost Weekend

Maybe the Liberals need a grassroots tea party goading them. Ignatieff needs some sort of hearing aid so that he can listen to the base rather than go off on a weekend thinker's conference that as Travers claims is full of experts trying to figure out what would be the best way to create some new props to attract votes. The parties are to raise funds and do all the grunt work on campaigns. A few hacks may get some payback but mostly the grass roots are meant to stay underground and just feed the tops. This has nothing to do with a green shift by the way! This is from the Star.

Travers: Liberal fest will be lost weekend

By James Travers
National Affairs Columnist
Drape the long-suffering political party in mourning. Another nail is being driven into the coffin of grassroots democracy by a weekend Liberal conference dominated by professionals, not the eager amateurs whose energy and ideas once propelled parties forward.

For the second time in a little over a year, Liberals are about t…

Canadian Universities are not Bastions of Free Speech.

It is not clear how the protesters managed to prevent Ann Coulter from speaking. It was not the police or university that cancelled the speech it was her own organisation. Surely protesters have a right to protest just as Coulter has a right to speak. It seems that Coulter's organisation should have arranged for a much larger venue for her speech. Part of the security concerns had to do with the size of the accommodations versus the size of the expected audience. That being said the Provosts caution letter was bound to provoke a response from Coulter and fits in with what Coulter loves to hate, political correctness. There is certainly a considerable amount of truth in what Hunter has to say about that and the role of universities in promoting it. However, Canadian universities are less finishing schools for political correctness than research associates and training grounds for Canadian business, political correctness is just a collateral by-product.

Ian Hunter
Universities …

Manitoba NDP government asks public-sector workers for two year wage freeze

As usual it is the worker's that have to pay for the recession. It was a Conservative govt. that last tried to carry out a program such as this. There may be considerable resistance from the unions. Also, if Manitoba health care workers salaries as a result of the freeze go much below those of other provinces there will be an out migration of workers even as Manitoba is so short of nurses , for example, that is must recruit from the Philippines. It seems that the NDP is also imitating Obama in taxing tanning salons! Polls show that the NDP is losing support. If they lose their working class base or even if they do not turn out to vote NDP they may be gone next election.

Manitoba's NDP government asks public-sector workers for two-year wage freeze
WINNIPEG - Manitoba's NDP government issued a surprise warning to its workers Tuesday - accept a two-year wage freeze in any new collective agreements or face job cuts.
"We are going to try to …

Canada and the US health care overhaul.

A key difference between government involvement in Canada and the US is that in Canada the federal govt. helps fund single payer provincially run insurance plans but in the US the government is subsidizing private for profit insurance companies for the most part. While the new US bill will provide coverage for millions more Americans than before, there will still be 18 million left uninsured. The administrative costs of the US system are astronomical in a country famous for bashing large bureaucracies. Americans do not seem to understand that a single payer system involves far less bureaucratic expenses as the article points out. Even with the reforms of this bill the U.S. will remain the sole advanced industrial state without some sort of universal system and it will still be the most expensive in the world with little sign that this bill will stop continuing cost escalation.

The Canada comparison
An epic U.S. health-care overhaul

CBC News.
Patients line up on hospital beds outside a…

Poll: Conservatives still ahead of Liberals.

The Conservatives do not seem to be able to build toward a majority and the Liberals are going nowhere fast as well. You will now hear a constant refrain from the two major parties that Canadians do not want an election. If the Conservatives or Liberals had polls that would give them a majority their would be a different tune. Expect the Liberals to support the Conservatives unless they are sure one of the other parties will do so! At least the NDP seems to be increasing its vote a little. In BC the Liberals seem to be far behind!
This is the Vancouver Sun.
Harper Tories still lead Liberals: poll


The Conservatives have the support of 34 per cent of decided voters, down three percentage points from the last poll earlier this month, while the Liberals secured 28 per cent of voters, down one percentage point.
Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives have lost some support but …

Walkom: We are all Red Tories

Maybe Canadians are all Red Tories or a majority of us but there seem to be a lot less Red Tories in the Conservative Party. Who are they? No doubt there is some truth in what Walkom has to say but the Conservatives no longer even bother to put Progressive in front of Conservative and they are still able to survive. Contrast the recent NDP governments in Saskatchewan actually selling off government assets while warning the voters that the Saskatchewan party would do that! Consider the same government adopting a royalty system that was more generous to the oil companies than that of Alberta Tories! The Manning poll may be wrong about whether individual Canadians have moved to the right in their ideas but certainly Canadian political parties have long done so. The NDP new slogan might be summed up as Long Live the Third Way. This is from the TorontoStar.

Walkom: Why we're all Red Tories

By Thomas Walkom
National Affairs Columnist
Are Canadians becoming more conservative? Those aroun…

Seniors are good for something! Pharmaceutical's Profits.

Perhaps there needs to be a study done to get some idea how many of these prescriptions are necessary and desirable and how many are just a waste of money or worse. As with many people I rely on my doctor's knowledge although I have looked up the drugs I am taking. All of them seem relevant for the medical problems I have. Fortunately, I do not have any adverse reactions. I am fairly confident without many of the drugs I am taking I might very well be dead years ago!
Study warns about seniors' prescriptions
Two-thirds of retirement-age Canadians are taking five or more prescription medications

PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTER — From Friday's Globe and Mail

Take a peek into your grandma's medicine cabinet: It may well be bursting at the seams.

A new study shows that almost two-thirds of Canadians over the age of 65 are taking five or more prescription medications.

That includes one in five seniors who are taking 10 or more drugs and one in 20 seniors who are taking a st…

Newman: How Harper might trigger the next election

While Newman's scenario is a possibility it seems to me much more likely that Harper would just introduce a bill that none of the opposition parties could stomach. They would have a choice of supporting a bill that goes completely against what they were supposed to stand for or bringing down the government. In such a situation the opposition might very well bring down the government even if the polls were not that great for them. Of course this may be underestimating the Liberal capacity to cave in and sell out their principles - or perhaps one of the other opposition parties. This is from the CBC.
Don Newman

How Stephen Harper might trigger the next election

Rideau Hall

Could the prime minister again claim there was a logjam in Parliament and that an election was needed to clear the air, even though the government had not been defeated? He could try.

But that will be a harder claim to make stick if he keeps winning confidence votes and his party is sho…

Tories: Ignatieff has prorogued himself

The more I see of Michael Ignatieff the less likely it seems that he will ever lead a majority Liberal government. Perhaps the Liberals would have been better off to stay with Dion. At least he had a program and tried to stick to it. Ignatieff just seems to be going nowhere. The Conservatives may be hurt for a while by the Afghan detainee issue but this is hardly an issue that is going to cause Harper any long term pain. Meanwhile Harper is trying out You Tube where he can control the action. One commentator suggests it is like scoring a goal into an empty net. Well surely a goal is a goal. If You Tube is an easy way to score Harper might as well use it. Anyway the reaction certainly is not all positive. The National Post has an article on the You Tube production. The material below is from the Globe and Mail.

Tories pounce as 'Ignatieff prorogues himself'
Jane Taber

1. Easy target. After withstanding the slings and arrows of the opposition over their decision to proro…

Terms of Detainee review blasted by Liberals

I do not see why Rae trusts Iacobucci that is unless he is trusting him to carry out a review in secret and help the government avoid accountability. The government wants to avoid a disaster such as happened with the Maher inquiry where much too much about what goes on in government behind the scenes was revealed. You can also trust Iacobucci to charge a fat fee. The parliament surely has the right to see the documents period end of story. The judge is just part of a department of dirty tricks dodge to avoid accountability.
Detainee review terms blasted by Liberals

CBC News
Retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci will review whether documents pertaining to the transfer of Afghan detainees can be released to Parliament. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Liberal MPs hammered the Tory government over the guidelines a former Supreme Court justice will follow in his review of documents related to the Afghan detainee affair.

During Monday's question period in the House of Commons, Transpor…

The Quebec Dept of VIrtue and Vice and Dress Codes.

The Taliban--among others-- were notorious for having a Dept. of Virtue and Vice and morality police who went around to make sure that women were following the appropriate dress codes and other rules associated by them with Islamic values. Now the same tendency has reared its ugly head in Quebec. The Quebec immigration minister has decided that a bare face is a necessity to attend schools even to learn French! Of course many people associate the niqab with the oppression of women and are offended at seeing it in a public place. But so what? Plenty of people are offended by the clothing many young people wear which many would consider too sexually suggestive and would certainly be banned in places such as Saudi Arabia. It is true that we tolerate imposition of dress codes in certain private schools and perhaps to some degree even in public schools but in the case of the niqab there is the religious aspect involved. It would be as if one required as part of a public school dress …

High Level Pakistan US meetings in Washington

No doubt plans will be worked out as to how Pakistan is to continue with its fight against Islamic militants. No doubt none of the Pakistani officials will say boo about drones at these meetings although they may make a few little bleats when they return home. This is from the news. (pakistan)

High-level Pak-US dialogue begins on 18th

Thursday, March 11, 2010
WASHINGTON: The US capital, always a hub of political activity, is set to witness intense rounds of high-stake dialogue between Pakistani and US officials which will commence with the arrival of Pakistan navy chief, Admiral Noman Bashir on March 17.

Amiral Noman Bashir will begin top-level negotiations with the US officials in the Pentagon on March 18. Only days after the arrival of Admiral Bashir, chief of army staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is reaching Washington to hold very important dialogue with the US officials on the issue of regional security. Gen Kayani is expected to meet, among others, the US national security advisor Gen…

High Loonie boon to travelers to the US

However as the article also notes the high loonie will also hurt exporters. While travelers to the US will benefit so will Canadian consumers since the cost of imported goods should decline as our dollars will purchase more in other countries. This is from the Star.

A boon to March break travellers

Emily Mathieu

Canada's manufacturers and exporters are likely to feel the squeeze after the Canadian dollar crept closer to parity on Friday following stronger-than-expected employment numbers.

"It's much more doubtful whether the Canadian economy can really live with a currency quite that strong on an extended basis, at least not until commodity prices are a lot higher than they are today," said CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld.

"We have already wiped out some of the manufacturers and exporters that had a tough time competing with a strong exchange rate."

On Friday, Statistics Canada reported that 60,000 full-time positions were created in February, with gains …

New Brunswickers dissatisfied with provincial Liberals: Poll

The sale of the provincial power utility to Quebec seems to be a prime cause of the dissatisfaction. However, as the poll also shows the Conservatives are not any more popular. Only the NDP seems to be making substantial gains in the polls and it is certainly not enough to upset the two major parties. No party leader seems to be popular. In conclusion as in many other places there seems to be general dissatisfaction with politicians! This is from the CBC.

Most in N.B. dissatisfied with Liberals: poll
NB Power deal likely reason, says pollster

CBC News
The majority of New Brunswickers are dissatisfied with the performance of the governing Liberal party, but that hasn't translated into more people planning to vote for the Progressive Conservatives, according to a new poll.

Dissatisfaction with Premier Shawn Graham's Liberal party grew to 55 per cent in February - up from 51 per cent - in the latest quarterly poll by Corporate Research Associates.

At the same time, popular support…

Canadians will still sing in politically incorrect unity!

I usually just hum after the first few bars anyway. It seems that most Canadians are not worried about changing son's to a more gender neutral phrase of some sort. Maybe we could have had daughson''s commands although that would involve an awkward extra syllable! Apparently this is the only part of the throne speech that elicited an extremely negative reaction.

Canadians reject rewording of 'O Canada': poll

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A new poll provides insight into why the Harper government popped its own O Canada trial balloon so quickly last week: massive and immediate public opposition.

A survey by The Canadian Press Harris-Decima found that 74 per cent of respondents opposed rewording the national anthem to make it gender neutral, flak that began appearing even before Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spokesman grounded the notion just 48 hours after its was floated in the Conservative government's throne speech.

With only 19 per cent of respondents in f…

Abitibi reaches tentative agreement with union.

Abitibi, union work out deal
March 08, 2010

This is very positive news in that the workers save their pensions plans and the company will be a step closer to emerging from bankruptcy. However, the details are not spelled out so perhaps the situation is not as rosy as it looks. We will see how the affected workers look at the deal since they get to ratify it. Abitibi now needs to make a deal with Newfoundland and Labrador!

MONTREAL–AbitibiBowater Inc. has reached a tentative labour deal affecting some 4,000 workers, which brings the newsprint maker closer to emerging from bankruptcy, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada said Sunday.

The union said the tentative pact to renew its collecting bargaining agreement was reached after the company withdrew a proposal to terminate pension plans, which would have reduced pension benefits an average of 25 per cent.

The union said the agreement will protect its members from the plan's possible insolvency. It must still be …

Canada wanted Afghan Prisoners Tortured: Legal Expert

Legal expert: Canada Wanted Afghan Prisoners Tortured.

Even before this new accusation was made Harper had prorogued parliament in part because of embarrassing opposition questions about transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities. Now the situation has become far worse. The government will no doubt refuse to do anything on the grounds of national security but to cover its fanny the government will ask a retired Supreme Court Judge Frank Iacobucci to advise it on whether release of documents would be ""injurious". If the lawyer's claims are true it is obvious that the release of the documents would have injurious effects. Some people could be charged with war crimes. Iacobucci is a great choice. He is already known for the Iacobucci inquiry which can be found in summary here.That inquiry was carried out almost entirely in secret and with the three people on whose behalf it was called not able to testify or take part in the investigation of those who were involved ind…

Ignatieff: Budget full of gimmicks.

I hesitate to describe what Ignatieff is full of. Perhaps of his self importance. But he also has gimmicks. For example, he goes on and on about how bad this budget is and then he uses the gimmick that Canadians do not want an election to excuse the fact he is obviously too chicken to go to an election when his polls are not that good. This is a replay of Dion without the Green Shift just the Sardonic Grin. Ignatieff's rhetoric is just for show since the Liberals will end up making sure that the budget passes. You might even say all his criticisms of the budget are just a gimmick to make it look as if he is actually doing something or has some power.

Budget full of gimmicks: Ignatieff

CBC News
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff blasted the federal budget for being a document full of "gimmicks" that ignores important issues, but reaffirmed he won't bring the government down over it.

"The throne speech and the budget let Canadians down. They expected vision and got gi…

Corporate tax cuts remain in budget.

While there is not all that new for business in the budget extending the tax cuts will be of huge benefits for corporations. Keeping the corporate taxes so low may make it difficult to start bringing down the deficit any time soon since the revenue will not be there. No doubt the Conservatives are preparing to cut entitlements and attack federal workers. This is from the CBC.

Budget leaves corporate tax cuts intact

The Tories' promised corporate tax cuts escaped the scythe Thursday in the face of the $49.2-billion deficit, but there was little fresh help for companies staggered by the recession.

"We are staying on course to having the lowest corporate income tax rate in the G7 by 2012," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in his speech.

"Some argue that we should cancel these tax reductions. Our government will follow through on our commitment. Reducing the tax burden on businesses is a key part of Canada's advantage in the global economy."

The federal general c…

Ignatieff: NO election over budget.

Why Ignatieff announces his intentions in advance is puzzling. There will be no drama to the debate now. Harper can rest easy while the BQ and the NDP can now take firm opposing conditions and vote against the budget. Ignatieff is no improvement on Dion. In fact Dion at least had a clear policy on the environment that he tried to advance. Even though it failed at least Dion showed some imagination and principled policies. Ignatieff seems to be floundering around waiting for Harper to self destruct while he props him up just as Dion did.

No election over budget: Ignatieff

CBC News
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff responds to the budget on Parliament Hill on Thursday. (Blair Gable/Reuters)
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says his party will not trigger an election over the federal budget brought down Thursday.

While the Liberals oppose elements of the budget, Ignatieff said Canadians are in no mood to head to the polls. He said Liberals will vote against the budget but not in sufficient…

Ontario Liberals want hospitals to compete for cash

This might be asking for skewed reporting and other modes of spinning data so as to attract more cash. We will have to wait and see what happens. Ontario's ideas about saving money in health care often involve hiring expensive experts such as those at eHealth who seem to have wasted wads of taxpayer money and accomplished very little. This is from thespec.

Liberals would have hospitals compete for cash
Loweest bidder would get funding
Patients face might travel further to get care


Patients would have to travel farther for some operations and treatments but the savings to taxpayers could top $3 billion a year under radical hospital reforms being considered by Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals, the Torstar news service has learned.

The plan would have hospitals essentially forced to compete for cash by doing acute care in-patient surgeries and such treatments as hip replacements more cheaply than rivals, with the lowest-cost bidders getting more of the work, sources sa…

Protests in Vancouver on Sunday

I did not notice coverage of these protests in most of the Canadian media. This is from an Iranian site! There seems to be a lot of rah rah patriotism right now because Canada did very well and won the most gold medals. While there are lots of people around to observe protests probably it is not very good timing to do so and the message will be drowned out by the hoopla surrounding the closing ceremonies. This is from presstv.

Canada win over US marred by protests

Canada's homeless activists have taken advantage of the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics to take to streets of downtown Vancouver and raise awareness about the dire need for social housing.

Hundreds of protesters staged a peaceful demonstration on Sunday while Canada defeated the United States 3-2 on the ice on the last day of the games.

"The timing may appear awkward," said Eric Doherty, who represented a group that opposed highway expansion because of the games, AP reported.

"But this is sort of our …