Posts from our progressive community

Stephen Harper and his CRA Stormtroopers Prepare to Kill a Charity

Montreal Simon - ven, 12/19/2014 - 05:31


For months Stephen Harper has been unleashing the stormtroopers from the Canadian Revenue Agency upon his many enemies.

They have been harassing environmental groups and other progressive charities, and trying to cripple them into submission.

But now it seems they have claimed their first victim, and are preparing to blast it out of existence.
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Michael Harris REALLY Doesn't Like Peter Mansbridge

Montreal Simon - ven, 12/19/2014 - 04:20


As I said in my last post, I wasn't impressed with the way Peter Mansbridge handled his year end interview with Stephen Harper.

I thought he stroked Great Crazy Leader with a feather, and failed to challenge his many lies, or ask the follow up questions that needed to be asked.

So the whole thing looked more like a cozy chat than an interview.

But I see that Michael Harris was even less impressed.
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Stephen Harper's Crazy Carbon Tax problem

Montreal Simon - ven, 12/19/2014 - 03:04


As I've been warning recently, Stephen Harper's mental state is clearly growing more unstable by the day.

The exhaustion of all those foreign photo-ops, combined with the shock of seeing his beloved Albertonia torpedoed by low oil prices, and his budget surplus going up in flames, has driven him to the brink.

And there is no better example of that than his wildly oscillating position on a carbon tax.

Just ten days ago he called one "crazy." Or CRAAAAAAAZY.

But in the CBC interview the other night, while being stroked with a feather by Peter Mansbridge, he all but called it a good idea. 
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RoboContractors

Creekside - ven, 12/19/2014 - 01:22
If the Public Prosecution Service of Canada is so concerned that Michael Sona's nine month sentence for election fraud is "demonstrably unfit and fails to reflect the gravity of the offence” - so concerned in fact that they are appealing to have his sentence increased, why don't they direct that same concern towards investigating the Pierre Poutine perps behind him? 
Especially given both the judge and prosecutor in the case stated that Sona didn't act alone.

So reasons the Council of Canadians in their new formal complaint to the PPSC.

“PPSC is not an investigative agency,” responded PPSC spokesey Dan Brien. “It’s not in our mandate to initiate, conduct or direct investigations.”
Meh, said a spokesey for Elections Canada Commissioner Yves Côté, who now falls under the purview of the PPSC thanks to the Fair Elections Act, noting that the case is now closed as far as they are concerned unless someone submits a formal complaint or new information comes to light. “We conducted an investigation. All of the evidence that we found was presented to the Crown,” Michelle Laliberte told Global News."Asked if the office has received more information, Laliberte said, “Not at this point.”Really?  
Andrew Prescott's immunity-protected testimony that he logged out of his own RackNine account on election day only to log back in again a few minutes later onto the Pierre Jones/Poutine account on the instructions of Guelph election campaign chair Ken Morgan who decamped to Kuwait after refusing to be interviewed by Elections Canada - that isn't "new" or "more" information? Isn't a new lead? Isn't worthy of further investigation, if not a few subpoenas?

You know, it's really too bad Canada lacks a national police force who could look into this kind of crime on our behalf when they aren't busy dragging a 61 year old woman off her walker and throwing her to the ground and handcuffing her for being unclear what was being asked of her, or protecting foreign oil corporations from local protesters or First Nations, or protecting themselves from the possibility of staples, or shooting a vet with PTSD twice in the back and killing him on his own property because they didn't have a warrant to follow him into his house or .... where the hell was I? Oh yeah ...

In the absence of any interest from the horsemen, and for an idea of how much help Council of Canadians can expect from the Elections Canada Commissioner this time round in their bid to have the Poutine case in Guelph re-opened, lets have a look at the commissioner's response to their request for help in their March 2012 election fraud court case, launched on behalf of six plaintiffs from six ridings :
In early August. Commissioner Yves Cote refused to give a federal court more details on its ongoing investigation into the robocalls scandal.To avoid sharing the information, Cote filed for a special exemption, saying releasing it would “encroach upon the public interest,” and that “public disclosure of information from a partially completed investigation carries the serious risk of compromising the investigation by, among other things, influencing the testimony of witnesses, impairing the ability to verify information already obtained and affecting the willingness of witnesses to speak.”And then, as far as anyone knows, some time after that they just stopped..

Not That Anyone Asked

Politics and its Discontents - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 16:40
...but the always reliable Pastor Pat tells us there is really no reason to worry about the 'gay problem' for reasons he makes clear below:

Recommend this Post

John Cleese On Sarah Palin

Politics and its Discontents - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 14:42
As Cleese says in this 2008 interview, Michael Palin is no longer the funniest Palin.



And about Fox News, which currently employs the post-political Palin, Cleese has this to say. It is probably the best analysis I've heard of the rampant stupidity that seems to infest the United States (sorry for that gross overgeneralization):

Recommend this Post

Enbridge Spill

Politics and its Discontents - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 12:52
I'm sure the company will spin this 262,000 litre oil spill in Regina as a 'good news' story. You decide.



You can read additional information here.Recommend this Post

If It Scares Canadians, It's Manna from Heaven for the Tories

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 09:03
Manipulating the public with carefully tailored fear is despicable.  It's also the entire first chapter in Stephen Harper's playbook.  He's been incredibly successful in using fear as a weapon to motivate his own political base from the outset.

If you own a working television set chances are you've seen the Harper government's anti-marijuana ad.  It's ostensibly the work of Health Canada but the ad bears the imprimatur of the Prime Minister's Office because it's based on falsehoods calculated to scare gullible parents.

An ominous 30-second ad now on YouTube and TV warns that smoking too many joints can seriously harm a teen's developing brain, with the words "Decreased IQ" crossing the screen.

The spot was chosen after that message got the strongest reaction from focus groups of parents who were privately shown a similar ad and several alternatives in cities across Canada in June.The parents, described by the interviewers as "generally uninformed regarding marijuana health risks," reacted with alarm when told marijuana can trigger psychosis, schizophrenia and a drop in IQ in young, still-developing brains.The information on the harmful effects of cannabis on mental functioning was "surprising and scary" to them, says a newly released report by Harris Decima, commissioned by Health Canada at a cost of $95,000.It's been an aspect of HarperLand that the public service has been transformed into a personal partisan agency of the prime minister.  The ad that is being aired was chosen based on focus group reactions according to which they found most alarming.  It's obviously designed to give Harper's anti-marijuana stance more public support in the 2015 election and, best of all, it's electioneering on the public dime.

Reflections on Defections….

Left Over - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 08:59

 

ANALYSIS

MP Glenn Thibeault’s defection leaves the NDP feeling ‘hurt’ Sudbury MP’s decision to join provincial Liberals leaves former party searching for answers

By Rosemary Barton, CBC News Posted: Dec 18, 2014 11:00 AM ET Last Updated: Dec 18, 2014 11:00 AM ET

9 Wildrose MLAs, including Danielle Smith, cross to Alberta Tories Progressive Conservative members say they’re willing to look beyond past grievances

CBC News Posted: Dec 17, 2014 11:09 AM MT Last Updated: Dec 18, 2014 9:36 AM MT

 

I think that ex=NDP Thibeault crossing the floor to the Liberals was typical political expediency, although the fact that he was caucus chair gives one pause….was he some sort of plant, originally? A conclusion that could make sense…while everyone is clutching their bosom at this ‘appalling’ turn of events, let’s not  forget that Mulcair  once switched parties, too….
Still, what happened in Alberta is hardly the same thing..to say that there is no ‘opposition’ left in Alberta is to say that the so-called Wild Rose Party was anything like an opposition, more like Right and Rightier…they are all joining forces because the dirty oil writing is on the wall..the Cons will bomb out in Alberta long-term, because the oil sands are now so unprofitable, and will be for the foreseeable future..It will now cost more to produce their dirty bitumen than it’s worth on the market, with all the new reserves being in competition, world-wide. Already, there are layoffs looming in the energy sector, and certainly more to come… Prentice probably has one more election left in him, and then, once the unemployed start getting restless, things will probably change…but even rightwing Wild Rose  whackjobs recognize that their employment as career politicians might be threatened by appearing even more tea-party than their counterparts…

The one big positive I can see from all this is that a decrease in tar sands  extraction will be an improvement for the environment… and all those newly unemployed workers will be screaming for the jobs  all those foreign workers  are getting now..the best-laid plans, eh, Emperor Steve?


Is Raul Castro's Cuba the First Big Winner in Cold War II?

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 08:23


Now that Washington and Havana appear to be on the road to kissing and making up, it's worth considering whether the timing is really that spontaneous?

Cuba was always the Soviet's toe hold in the Americas.  It was over Soviet designs in Cuba that the world was brought to the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

The Soviets propped up Fidel Castro by buying Cuba's sugar crop at premium prices.  With the collapse of the USSR, Cuba's economy took a big hit as Moscow withdrew.  Since then Cuba has been mainly important to American foreign policy for the Cuban exile vote in Florida that some, such as Clinton and Bush, shamelessly courted with promises of "get tough" action against the Communist regime.

But, as Obama correctly noted, America's sanctions haven't worked.  The exile vote doesn't command the clout it enjoyed in decades past.  And then there's Putin.

Vlad, the "Russian Impaler," has been responding to Western sanctions with military feints and other provocations: bombers flying at the edge of Western airspace; 'near miss' intercepts, mystery submarines showing themselves in the home waters of European states.

We don't know what has passed between Moscow and Havana lately but, for optics, there could hardly be anything to surpass a renewed Russian presence in Cuba - Russian aircraft deployed to Cuban airbases, Russian ships and subs patrolling in the Gulf of Mexico, that sort of thing.

With Russia's economy reeling from sanctions and collapsed world oil prices and Putin's own position lately in question, this is a truly propitious moment for Washington to do some long overdue Caribbean housekeeping and bring Cuba back into the American fold. It's good for Cuba. It will do wonders to improve America's flagging reputation with the OAS.  It should keep Putin from getting any ideas about parking Russian forces in America's back yard as NATO has done in Russia's.  It almost puts a fresh coat of paint on the Monroe Doctrine for Moscow and Beijing alike.

Smooth move Barack Obama.


The Globe And Mail Does It Again

Politics and its Discontents - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 08:15


The self-proclaimed newspaper of record once more proves itself to be Dear Leader's biggest fan and most sycophantic press enabler as it sits down for a year-end burnishing of its idol's ego.

Due to my respect for readers' sensibilities, I am not offering any excerpts from the 'interview.' Read it only if you have strong stomachs and are not contemplating a meal in the next hour or two.

Nonetheless, I'm sure The Globe's abomination 'conversation' with Harper is just a foretaste of what we can expect in its endorsement editorial before next year's federal election, which will likely run along these lines:

Has the Harper government made mistakes? of course. Do we wish it were less secretive? Yes. But Canada requires the consistent and strong leadership Mr. Harper has shown. In these uncertain times, the choice for voters is clear.



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Should We Be Surprised?

Northern Reflections - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 06:25
                                                      http://www.cbc.ca/

Canadians were appalled when the U.S. Senate report on torture saw the light of day. We like to think, as John Baird said, that "Canada doesn't torture anyone. Period. Period." But, like everything that comes out of the mouths of this government, that's a half truth. Linda McQuaig writes:

The Harper government has opened the door to Canadian complicity in torture. It issued a directive allowing Canadian officials to share intelligence with foreign governments in some situations, even when this could lead to torture or to the receipt of information extracted under torture.

But like so many other disgraceful things that this government has done, the Harper crew issued this directive secretly; it only came to light through the access to information law.

Rather than simply prohibiting Canadian government agencies from sharing torture-tainted information, the Harper government’s directive simply requires approval from higher-ups, specifying that the matter should be referred to the appropriate deputy minister or agency head.
And, given the fact that "higher ups" either fall into line with this government or are fired, that protection means nothing. The goal is to get the information and let others do the torturing -- which is precisely what happened with Maher Arar. Justice Dennis O'Connor rejection of that policy was scathing:

In his powerful report, Justice O’Connor found that the RCMP’s false information likely had contributed to Arar’s year-long ordeal in Syria, and recommended Canadian agencies never send foreign authorities information that could lead to torture.

That recommendation led the RCMP to revamp their information-sharing procedures.

 O’Connor’s report went further and condemned torture under any circumstances, noting that the prohibition against torture in international law is so fundamental it has acquired the status of jus cogens — a body of “higher law” that overrides all other laws or government practices.
But the Harperites' secret directive, in effect, eviscerated O'Connor's specific recommendations.  Should we be surprised?


Stephen Harper's New and Foul Assault on the Justice System

Montreal Simon - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 05:37


Well I guess Stephen Harper wasn't kidding. If the courts wouldn't kneel before him he would debase them into submission.

Not by simply soiling himself.

But by soiling the entire justice system as only he could.

By among other foul things appointing an Ontario judge who clearly doesn't believe in the equality of gay Canadians. 
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Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 05:28
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jordon Cooper rightly argues that we should move away from forcing people to rely on homeless shelters and other stopgap measures when we can afford to provide permanent homes:
We fill a bus for the hungry while ignoring that the reason for it is that social service programs depend in part on our generosity to feed people. We bring care packages to shelters and forget that cities elsewhere in Canada have drastically reduced the number of people in shelters and the time they spend there, and that it's cheaper than keeping people in shelters. One can make Christmas at shelters an extremely pleasant experience. I have seen shelters provide fabulous food, nice gifts, good movies and quality entertainment over the holidays. Staff, volunteers and even residents go all out to make things pleasant and inviting.

Yet, at the same time, you are left with people who remain homeless. If you ask them if they would rather be in a dorm or a their own apartment, the answer would be the same for each: They want a place to call home.
...
As important as it is to be charitable toward the poor, it is more important to find long term solutions to social problems and implement them. As great as it is to help someone in a shelter at Christmas, it would be even better if they didn't have to be there.- Zoe Williams laments the UK's move toward different classes of new citizenship based on wealth. And Susana Mas reports that the Cons are being even less subtle about making cash up front the default standard for immigrants to Canada.

- Jim Tankersley writes that far too many of the U.S.' best and brightest young minds are being diverted into a financial system which does nothing but extract wealth for itself. And Michael Lewis has a few suggestions to reverse that pattern.

- Scott Clark and Peter DeVries comment on the absurdity of being governed by a party which is fundamentally opposed to the idea of government. And Michael Harris highlights the gap between what the Cons plan to campaign on next year, and what Canadians actually want out of a federal government.

- And finally, Linda McQuaig reminds us of Canada's appalling role in encouraging and facilitating torture in the wake of the U.S.' long-awaited report. 

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 05:20
Here, on this week's confirmation from the Broadbent Institute that Canadians severely underestimate wealth inequality - as well as the strong popular support to reduce the wealth gap.

For further reading...
- The Norton/Ariely study of the views of Americans on wealth inequality is found here, and discussed further here, here and here.
- And Danielle Kurtzleben writes that actual wealth inequality in the U.S. has only been getting worse since 2010.

Stephen Harper's Scary Year End Horror Show

Montreal Simon - jeu, 12/18/2014 - 03:08


I tried to put it off as I could, I was having too much of a good time to spoil it. 

Humming Christmas tunes, fixing one of my little robots, and playing with my neighbour's puppy.

But eventually I figured I better check out Peter Mansbridge's interview with Stephen Harper. And oh boy did that ruin my evening.

Because it was an absolute HORROR show.
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Another outstanding Harper choice!

Cathie from Canada - mer, 12/17/2014 - 21:37
Canada's newest Harper-picked Supreme Court Justice may well turn out to be another Mike Duffy or Pam Wallin in the making.
In this Toronto Star article, she sounds like an entitled and egotistical nut case:
...Madame Justice Suzanne Côté battled five years with Revenu Québec, the provincial tax agency, after she claimed annual expenses of $50,000 to buy work clothes for each of three years from 2004 to 2006. During that same period, the top-flight Montreal lawyer claimed more than $25,000 in expenses related to personal care, as well as other miscellaneous items.
Court documents show that Côté made claims for tax deductions totalling $204,685 over those three years and that those claims were rejected by the Quebec tax agency.
...
Revenu Québec noted in a statement of defence that it began auditing Côté’s expense claims in 2007 and that she refused on four separate occasions to provide receipts or other documents that would justify her claims.Fighting a five-year legal battle? To defend a $200,000 deduction? For clothing?
Apparently the usual black legal gowns that lawyers wear in court cost about $800.  How many did she buy?  Or does she think the Quebec bar also requires its high-powered lawyers to wear fur coats and Armani suits?
Of course, all the receipt documentation has now been withdrawn so we -- the public who will be paying her salary for the next four decades -- aren't going to be allowed to know exactly what items of clothing or grooming she thinks she should be entitled to deduct from her taxable income.
Oh well, if her bills get to be too high, we can always cut back on payments to veterans...

Canadian citizenship - now cheaper than ever!

Creekside - mer, 12/17/2014 - 19:55
"We want Chinese investors in Canada and the door is open," ImpMin Chris Alexander told the South China Morning Post back in March. "We are making these changes for them."

CBC :
"The Canadian government will give permanent residency to approximately 50 millionaire immigrant investors and their families under a pilot program set to begin in the new year.
Under the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program announced Tuesday, each investor will be required to make a non-guaranteed investment of $2 million over 15 years and have a net worth of $10 million."By comparison, New Zealand requires a C$9.15 million investment over three years while in 2012, the Australian government raised the price of admission for significant investor visas to C$5 million over four years as the price of a permanent visa.

Under the previous cash for citizenship scheme dating back to Mulroney in 1986, wealthy immigrants with a minimum net worth of C$1.6-million only had to loan the government $800,000 interest-free for five years but the loan was guaranteed and returned to them at the end of five years.
It was intended to encourage wealthy foreigners to set up businesses in Canada but according to the South China Morning Post earlier this year, the majority were wealthy mainland Chinese who never did move to Canada and only 16 per cent of them wound up operating businesses in Canada. 

SCMP, Feb 4 2014 :
A South China Morning Post investigation into Canada's immigration programme for millionaire investors has revealed the extraordinary extent to which it has become devoted to a single outcome: Helping rich mainland Chinese settle in Vancouver.Since 2007, 80.8 per cent of Chinese applicants to the scheme have sought to live in British Columbia ... about six times the combined annual applications from all nationalities to the investor migrant programmes run by the US, Britain and Australia.
And it was a bust to boot . As Pete McMartin wrote in the Vancouver Sun in Feb :
"The investor class immigrants have been laughing all the way to the bank. According to the feds’ own research, over a 20-year period an investor class immigrant will pay $200,000 less in taxes than a skilled worker immigrant and $100,000 less in taxes than a live-in nanny. The immigrant billionaire living on the west side pays less in Canadian taxes than his immigrant babysitter."
Right. So back to the new rules. Having determined what we are, as the old joke goes, we are now just haggling over the price.

MinImp Chris Alexander gave a decent Q&A interview to the South China Morning Post on the new rules back in March. Excerpted  : 
Alexander : “In return for permanent residence, in return for the opportunity to do business with status from Canada, we’re taking your money for a good long time to help create jobs, growth, opportunity in Canada and for global businesses, we hope, through venture capital-focused that will be managed in Canada, and privately managed, not managed by the government. ... And believe me, there are Hong Kong and Chinese students, entrepreneurs, investors who are part of those small ecosystems driving this forward."Will there be regional options for the scheme?Alexander : "No, these will be pooled funds initially, so they’re going to have to be managed by professional private-sector investment managers in financial centres where those people exist. And that is quite a few Canadian cities now. We’ll have a competition to select who the managers will be, but I don’t think we’ll be directing the investment beyond that." "We are pursuing a strong partnership with Hong Kong and with mainland China in all fields. Our economic relationship is already approaching CA$75 billion million.  We want, as of January 1 2015, to process economic immigrants in six months."Earlier this month, the Harper government quietly signed a customs-sharing agreement with China without announcing it to the public.

China Daily, yesterday, via the WSJ :
"Canada and China have agreed to a set of measures to support the increased use of the renminbi in trade, commerce and investment.
A reciprocal currency swap will allow a maximum amount of 200 billion yuan ($32.3 billion) and C$30 billion($26 billion).
Domenico Lombardi, an expert on the global economy from Canada's think tank Centre for International Governance Innovation, recently said, "We should prepare to see the renminbi be much more widely used, to become an international currency"..

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