Posts from our progressive community

Hey CPC! Leave Canadian icons be!

Trashy's World - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 10:58
So it is becoming painfully obvious that the CPC is feeling the pressure and are actually considering the possibility that they may not form the next government. Hence, the shorts pants in the PMO have launched a pre-planning campaign to counter such an eventuality. Code named “Operation Impending Doom (OID)”, the strategy is to trot out and associate the […]

Let’s Not Face the Truth….

Left Over - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 09:28


Canadians of all stripes oppose face coverings at citizenship ceremonies: Vote Compass Conservative and BQ supporters most opposed; Liberals, NDP and Greens more mixed

CBC News Posted: Sep 21, 2015 3:58 PM ET Last Updated: Sep 22, 2015 11:11 AM ET

Do I think that politicians of all stripes in this election, mostly male, are swinging this cat as a red herring? Absolutely..
I don’t agree with the Cons, and especially not Emperor Steve about anything..but this is just bizarre as an election ploy. Do I think that wearing a face-erasing veil during an official ceremony  in this country should be illegal? Hmmm..then, what about Halloween? I know there are some stores that won’t allow masked people into their premises for obvious reasons, so why is it a stretch for us to disallow women (or anyone, in fact) to wear a mask during a citizenship ceremony..why are we playing identity politics with someone who wants the legal right to mask her identity, all in the name of religious ‘freedom’..there is nothing  ‘free’ about walking  around  with your  face covered, but  nothing  illegal either..however, at a citizenship ceremony?  One  would assume that part of the reason you want to become a citizen if this country is that you desired  to embrace the freedom (comparatively speaking..) available here….
Men are fighting about this issue as if it had any direct affect on them..only their patriarchal bent, perhaps,  but  Canadian women  have been sadly lacking in stepping forward on this issue, particularly progressive women..of course, I know’s a no-win situation.. but that isn’t what the question is supposed to be about.
I don’t understand why anyone would turn this into a legal argument in the first place.
Fact: if you or I walked into an official ceremony for citizenship with a mask on, no matter what gender, race, etc. all hell would break loose… I should know, I  remember it well, no one masked at the  civil ceremony that rendered me a Canadian citizen, remember, by choice, not an accident of birth…
Fact: If you or I wore a mask and tried to get a driver’s licence or any other important piece of identification (say, a passport…) we would be shut down. Why then is anyone defending the ‘rights’ of anyone to wear a face covering in an official ceremony? Will her passport picture her with the niqab? I mean, we aren’t even allowed to smile anymore, so important is it to identify us for officials.
In her country of origin, I might be forced by law and custom to wear a covering and would be beaten, arrested, who knows what, if I resisted..well, when in Rome, I guess..but because my freedom to wear what I choose would be compromised, I, as a Westerner, wouldn’t be caught dead in any country that imposed such oppressive laws on women..kinda like I would never go to Texas or any state that treated women like cattle or ‘possessions.’
I guess according to stupid PC rules we have to allow this woman the ‘freedom’ to be oppressed just this once..Orwell is somewhere, laughing …

A German Call for "Planetary Guardrails"

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 08:20
From the WBGU, Germany's climate advisory council, a call for environmental/ecological guardrails. It's about more than slashing carbon emissions. It's about defining limits of mankind's ecological footprint on everything from ocean acidification, soil degradation, biodiversity collapse and, yes, global warming.

My impression is that this horse has already left the barn. This would have been a grand notion if the nations of the developed world had embraced it twenty or thirty years ago. That, of course, didn't happen.

They're right about the need for these guardrails but, I fear, it's wishful thinking. What they envision would require some sharp limits on the developed nations' economies and what legislature, what parliament, what congress would impose that today?

Did Trudeau Blunder by Rejecting the F-35?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 08:03
From everything I've learned about that warplane, Trudeau made the right call only it might not have been the right time.

The overdue, overpriced, under-performing F-35 is not the aircraft Canada needs unless we're planning on attacking China or Russia and, if we did, that would invite some massive retaliation from people who have some impressively powerful weapons.

At home and in the newly militarized Arctic, the F-35 would be of extremely limited use. It can't go very far. It can't go very fast. It can't carry very much fuel or payload. It can't even go stealthy without the support of sophisticated aerial intelligence aircraft such as AWACS and JSTARS and Canada isn't buying any of those, not now, not ever.

As the head of the US Air Force Air Combat Command said recently, it's not a fighter. The very limited number of missiles it carries are strictly defensive, a last chance to avoid destruction by intercepting fighters. If it does get in a dogfight, it's trapped, doomed.  It very quickly becomes the world's most expensive lawn dart.

I think the NDP leader knows what Trudeau knows - unless Harper is re-elected, the F-35 is toast. But is canceling out on the F-35 a suitable election platform? I seem to recall Jean Chretien promising to cancel the Mulroney/Campbell government's plan to buy a fleet of very expensive anti-submarine helicopters for our navy. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't that occur during the pivotal 1993 election?

Mulcair took a shot at Trudeau for not waiting until there had been a full competition before deciding the F-35's fate. Fair enough, it's an election and his momentum seems to have stalled. I wonder, however, how many of the NDP rank and file would regret seeing the F-35 eliminated? My guess is very, very few.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like this election has run out of steam? From Trudeau's perspective was this just an attempt to stir something up - something, anything? From Mulcair's perspective could he have done anything else but criticize Trudeau? It just seems, to me at least, as though the whole life has gone out of this campaign and there's really nothing much to say beyond repeating what's already been said again and again.

Wait, I know! How about going to bat for those poor Canadians who got stuck with Volkswagen diesels? Tell'em we're going to cross the Rhine again to finish what we left undone in 1945. That's the ticket.

Living In A Bunker

Northern Reflections - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 07:26


The Harperites have always lived inside a bunker. During this election, they've fortified the barricades. Lawrence Martin writes:

In the election campaign, the Conservatives have barred their candidates in a great many ridings from participating in all-candidates debates. That’s right. The candidates are censored by the leadership from taking part in the most basic, the most elementary of democratic functions. The Conservatives dispute that this is going on but evidence contradicts their half denials.
You might think Tory candidates with even a pinch of pride would refuse to put up with this. You’d think they’d tell the leadership that this isn’t the Canada they grew up in, that this isn’t Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Instead they kowtow.
They choose not to see or hear. Or to know. Anne Kingston recently wrote in Macleans that this government's attempt to destroy information is unprecedented:
It examines the impact of the killing of the long form census, how hundreds of small towns like Melville, Sask., have been turned into statistical dead zones and ghost towns. They are no longer factored into employment numbers, poverty rates, divorce rates.
But the report is about more than that. It tells of the degradation of knowledge across the board in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa and the threat it poses to a functioning democracy. It’s about how studies on air pollution and toxic chemicals containing unwelcome news have vanished. It tells of how credible information about our history is being supplanted by mythologizing historical narratives. It’s about how our data collection system with its emphasis on voluntary surveys is now skewered so that there is less evidence – how convenient is this for the party in power – of a poverty problem in this country. It reminds us that we’ll never find out if there was really a politically-driven crackdown on charities opposed to government policy. Why? Because the Canada Revenue Agency ordered employees to destroy all text-message records.
This is a government which has chosen to know nothing. And, it has concluded that the less we citizens know, the better. Of course, when you live inside a bunker, you can't see the end when it's coming.

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 07:01
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Oxfam points out that without a major redistributive effort, hundreds of millions of people will be trapped in extreme poverty around the globe no matter how much top-end growth is generated.And Michael Valpy writes that the Cons have gone out of their way to stifle any talk of shared responsibilities and communitarian goals.

- Meanwhile, Art Eggleton discusses the urgent need for more affordable housing in Canada. And Robyn Allan writes that Canadians are getting gouged while buying gas - with an assist from the Cons who ensured that we don't have access to accurate information about who's profiting from what we pay at the pumps.

- Harvey Cashore and Frederic Zalac report on the links between the Con government and KPMG as the latter was having any assessment of its offshoring tax avoidance schemes stalled in front of the courts.

- Lawrence Martin highlights what we lose when our government considers information suppression to be one of its core values.

- Finally, PressProgress exposes Ron Liepert's belief that civil rights aren't part of the Canada we live in. And Craig Forcese and Kent Roach comment on the effect of the Cons' terror legislation:
When enacting its 2015 security laws, the government consistently rejected the outside policy advice it received. It radically ramped up information-sharing about even marginal security threats. But it disregarded advice—from both the Privacy Commissioner and the judicial inquiry into Maher Arar’s mistreatment—to the effect that Canada’s system of independent review was partial, stuck in silos, and manifestly inadequate. The government also disregarded the advice it received from four former prime ministers and a score of other former officials urging that increased review and oversight of national security activities were necessary, and that they would improve rather than detract from security.

The architects of the new 2015 legislation also ignored the Air India Commission’s 2010 recommendations that CSIS be obliged to share intelligence about possible terrorism offences, and that its human sources not be able to veto appearing as witnesses in prosecutions (a recommendation that was echoed in a unanimous 2011 report of a Senate committee chaired by Senator Hugh Segal). In the final analysis, the 2015 “reforms” were long on rhetoric about a war against “violent jihadis” and attempts to secure partisan advantage, but woefully short on evidence and deliberation.
Bill C-51 in particular was drafted in a novel and provocative manner that departed from long-standing definitions of “threats to the security of Canada” or the more Charter-compliant pattern of past, similar laws—such as hate-speech laws, immigration security-certificate provisions, and the 2001 Anti-terrorism Act.

The complexity arises from the fact that most of these new provisions are not free-standing: they amend existing laws that have their own history and purposes. The most extensive amendments were made to the CSIS Act, originally enacted in response to concerns about RCMP illegalities in the wake of the October Crisis in 1970. The 1984 CSIS Act created CSIS as a civilian and largely domestic intelligence agency that would obey the law and whose mandate was limited to intelligence collection. The new laws radically change that.

On rigged outcomes

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 05:28
I'm not sure when "what would Michael Ignatieff do?" became the Libs' operating mantra. But as long as the subject of fighter procurement is on the table, let's highlight the real similarity between two parties on that front: both the Cons and the Libs seem bent on handing Lockheed Martin billions of dollars it's done nothing to earn.

In the Cons' case, that means pushing Canada into an ill-advised, sole-sourced contract based on the deliberate neglect of alternatives.

And in the Libs' case, that means publicly prejudging a procurement process in a way which would give Lockheed Martin a massive claim against Canada for its anticipated profits without delivering anything.

To be clear, what we know so far makes it highly likely that on a fair evaluation, we'd come to the conclusion that we can do better than the F-35. But the "fair evaluation" part is crucial both to competent government, and avoiding readily-foreseeable litigation risks.

Instead, Justin Trudeau's declaration that he'd rather grandstand than allow for fairness at best reflects cynical political posturing - and at worst means he's happy to waste public money through the mirror image of Stephen Harper's closed-mindedness. And it's hard to see how either of those possibilities represents anything but a continuation of the destructive politics we should be trying to move past.

How To Stop Stephen Harper From Stealing the Election

Montreal Simon - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 03:41

There are now only twenty-seven days to go before the election that will determine the fate of this country. Less than four weeks before we find out whether it will live or it will die.

But even as the decent people of Canada prepare for the battle they hope will bring down the brutish Stephen Harper and his sinister Con regime, a new danger looms.

For even as we struggle to get people to cast their ballots, you can be sure that the Cons are planning to suppress them or steal them. 
Read more »

Are the Harper Con Artists Faking Their Propaganda?

Montreal Simon - Tue, 09/22/2015 - 00:53

I'm sure many of you have seen this great sign carved into a field in Buford, Ontario, by a good Canadian to make it absolutely clear what he thinks of Stephen Harper. 

People flying over John Langs’ farm know exactly how the retired civil servant feels about the upcoming election.

“I think it’s time he left, I think he’s been bad for Canada,” Langs said.

So I wasn't surprised to see that the Cons had claimed to match it with this sign allegedly carved into a fallow field in Alberta.

But as with all things Con, almost nothing is what it seems.
Read more »

Mulcair to Spend More Than Harper on Veterans.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 22:25
My stomach churned a little bit when I saw the photo of Tommy with some old, bemedalled vets rolling out his platform of hundreds of millions more in funding for Canadian vets. That's when I knew those vets were mere props in Tommy's campaigning.

You don't offer money to disabled war vets. That's what Harper did. Mulcair is simply upping the ante.

Money is something you provide, not something you calculate for maximum political benefit. Money is whatever these vets need as the decades pass. As I've written before, my first six decades were spent living with a horribly wounded WWII vet, my Dad. He was a magnificent athlete before he boarded that troop ship in Halifax. It wasn't the same man who came back.

Still and all, my Dad did well after a few years finally getting re-established. This ex-foundary hand found an executive spot, first in chemicals, later in specialty steels. He made a lot of money and he paid a lot of taxes.  My older brother was the first in either family to attend and graduate from university. All three of his sons would wind up with bachelors' and professional degrees.

Dad did well by his country. He made good money and he never balked at paying equally good taxes. It was my Dad who made me understand that taxes were not a universal obligation, that the most advantaged got the most advantages and it was fair that they pay higher taxes.

Anyway, he was a great citizen; a real, no matter how ordinary, a real Canadian. He thought of the wrecked body he brought home and his friends who remain over there, underground, as an investment in the country. He had to find some way to rationalize his nightmares. He grew a belief in this country that he'd never  have had tripping a steam hammer in the forge.

As he got older, his conditioned worsened - an immensely strong but equally old man who has to relent. Mom was dead and he was living alone, his closest son a hundred miles or so distant.

Dad's last few years of life were tough on him physically. Three times I spent several days with daily briefings from his doctor at the time about how, surely, he must be dying. "Prepare yourself. Make your travel arrangements. He'll probably never see you again."

Twice they were wrong. Dad staged what they found to be unbelievable recoveries and they decried the slightest ability to account for it medically. The third time was when, a few days before, he stopped eating anything, even refusing water.

Then he was gone.

I can say, without the slightest hesitation, that he would not have had that last ten to fifteen years without the incredible support of what he always pronounced the "D-V-A." I know what, in his heart, he meant. I dealt with these people on his behalf as he became enfeebled.

I can also say that, without the support of these people and successive governments, my Dad and Mom would not have been able to so enjoy their last 20-years together.  After so many bad years, all the loss and sacrifice, they were rewarded at the end. How did that happen.

Decent governments didn't talk money, except for budgeting. as obvious they weren't limited to some funding regime. If my Dad needed it, it was his. If he deserved it, maybe even just a bit more, was his.  Seriously, they were about as committed a bunch of people as I've ever encountered. They even had a woman come in twice a week to give him a proper bath. When I needed their help on his behalf they never shirked. They talked me though everything for what I wanted to do and even what I needed to do afterward. The focus was never on cost or resources so much as it was on preserving the individual's dignity.

What's wrong with a fixed term compensation system.

Plenty. It's actuarially corrupt. It refuses to see that, as a wounded vet gets older, his woulds may treat him differently, even worsen catastrophically. It's nothing for wounds you sustained before 1945 to come back to claim your life 70-years later.

When government's approach is to impose a contractual, "take it or leave it - only we can force you to take it", it's an affront on basic, human decency. I have only to imagine my own father, at the ridiculous age of 92, falling to the brutality of Harper's plan.

Mulcair says he'll pump $400+ million more into veterans spending. That's a political game and shame on any politician who emulates Harper.

Veterans spending? You spend what it takes. If that's more than you would prefer to spend, tough.  You send these kids into harm's way to be killed or mutilated on our behalf, then it becomes our obligation to ensure you don't dishonour us and, far worse, them.

You pay what it costs. You spend what it takes. You can't begin to compensate them for what they've done, what they've lost and yet most of them would do it again tomorrow if only they could somehow be made whole again. You can rarely provide value for what they have sacrificed. They're not looking at it that way. Why are you?

You pay - every last dime - of what is needed in funding. You don't defend it for none is required. You sure as hell don't boast of it or exploit it in politicking.

In my Dad's six decades as "Dead Eye"  I saw how government's concern about the welfare of our wounded and the dead's dependents was directly proportional to the public's awareness of them.  Oh, by both Odin and Freya, trust me - when you're out of mind, you are in trouble.

The worst I ever saw was when legitimate claimants, who might have spent a decade or up to three, psychologically never fit to return to civilian life, leaving the alleys to find a way back and getting swept aside.

You don't ask, you just pay. You get these people and you bring them in and you give them the best possible chance they might ever have to find their way back to all of us. The devil take us if we say we don't want to pay it and would choose instead to burn that bridge.

There is no budget for this. Anyone who prescribes any number is a charlatan.

This Might Be the Mother of All Class Action Lawsuits

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 16:23
The operative principle is that fraud vitiates (negates) consent. When a person is induced to enter a contract on the strength of fraudulent misrepresentation, the standard remedy is rescission of the contract. The contract is deemed rescinded and the parties are restored to their position prior to entering into the contract.

Now we have a situation involving vehicles equipped with Volkswagen's vaunted "Clean Diesel" or TDI engine.There are many like me who bought the vehicle because of its advertised low emissions and fuel economy. It turns out we were sold a bill of goods.

Volkswagen used a software trick to contrive the low emissions and fuel economy. When emissions testing equipment was being used the engine detected what was going on and responded by turning on the full emissions-control system. In ordinary operation part of the emissions-control hardware was deactivated to give increased performance and fuel economy.

It was a deliberate deception. Government regulators were deceived and so too were purchasers of the Volkswagen vehicles.

VW was exposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency which ordered half a million vehicles recalled and slapped the company with a multi-billion dollar fine. Presumably criminal prosecutions will follow. Somebody hatched this scheme. Software was written and installed in these vehicles. Results were fabricated to mislead regulators and customers alike.

And what of those half-million plus customers? There will be no cheap and dirty fix for this. Their vehicles, once highly regarded, are now infamous in the sort of way that tears the bottom out of market values. They too have been defrauded. They too will claim damages from the manufacturer, possibly the dealers also.

CBC News is reporting that Volkswagen Canada has issued a directive to dealers to stop selling certain models effective today. That's a start.

I'm figuring there'll be one if not several class action lawsuits filed against VW. Where do I sign up?

And speaking of pigs...

Dawg's Blawg - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 12:14
Capitalism, in one anecdote. Evil. Greedy. Preying on the sick. Right back at you, Martin Shkreli. May your life be short and your death be long.... Dr.Dawg

This England

Dawg's Blawg - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 09:07
Jeremy Corbin, take a well-deserved breather. There appears to have been some pig-on-pig goings-on in another part of the forest. As one wag noted, Corbin’s tie was askew a few days ago, so this should even the score.... Dr.Dawg

On ill-advised pledges

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 08:55
Shorter David Beers:
We should start demanding that candidates drop out if a single poll shows them running behind because there's absolutely no history of voters' minds changing in the month before election day.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 08:46
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Roheena Saxena points out that personal privilege tends to correlate to selfishness in distributing scarce resources. And that in turn may explain in part why extreme top-end wealth isn't even mentioned in a new inequality target under development by the UN.

- Or, for that matter, the Calgary Board of Education's continued provision of free lunches to executives while students lack food and supplies. Meanwhile, Laurie Monsebraaten reports on the spread of hunger in Toronto's suburbs, while Karena Walter points out the need for more action on poverty in Canada's federal election.

- Michael Harris notes that Stephen Harper's definition of "old stock Canadians" (along with his belief in the significance of such status) represents yet another effort to cut First Nations out of Canada's history.

- Ralph Surette offers a reminder that voters need to make sure they haven't potentially been disenfranchised by the Cons' voter suppression tactics. And the CP reports that Elections Canada is expecting even more cheating in the election to come - which can't be a surprise given the Cons' consistent law-breaking in every election they've won.

- Tom Parkin highlights why the NDP is the credible progressive choice for Canadian voters, while Scott Piatkowski duly questions the Libs' claim to be running from the left of the NDP:
This election is also about who will repeal the draconian Bill C-51. The NDP will. The Liberals won't (Why would they? They voted for it.)

It's about who will deliver quality affordable child care and pharmacare to Canadians. The NDP will. The Liberals won't (they used to at least pretend that they were in favour of both; now they denounce both as unaffordable).

It's about who will increase corporate taxes, crack down on tax havens and remove the stock option tax loophole that costs the tax base $750 million each year. The NDP will. The Liberals won't.

The NDP will reinstate the federal minimum wage that the Liberals abolished and to move it to a living wage of $15 an hour. They've also promised to restore the federal role in housing that that the Liberals ended and to renew expiring federal subsidies to housing co-op members.

The NDP has promised to launch an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women within 100 days of being sworn in. They've promised to expand the CPP, increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Seniors, prohibit changes to private pension plans, and restore the retirement age to 65. They've promised to increase funding for infrastructure and transit and to cancel plans to end home delivery of mail. The Liberals have offered similar or lesser versions of the commitments listed in this paragraph.

None of these ambitious commitments are the sign of a New Democratic Party that is moving to the centre. In fact, quite the opposite. There's absolutely no evidence that the NDP is running to the right of the Liberals (or even in the same lane).- Finally, Karl Nerenberg wonders whether there are too many attacks on both sides of the NDP/Lib divide - raising a point which I'll expand on in future posts.

Liberal or NDP? (Lesser of Two Evils?)

kirbycairo - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 07:58
Today in the Toronto Sun (of all places) there is an article by Tom Parkin suggesting that those who want to defeat Stephen Harper (and let's face it, that is the vast majority of Canadians) should opt for the NDP rather than the Liberals. The fact that this article appears in the Sun is, perhaps, an indication of a generalized impression that the NDP is now actually to the right of the Liberal Party. More likely, I think, is that Sun editors and their ilk are eager to see the NDP as a possible government because they think that it will panic voters in the closing weeks of the election and push people to vote Conservative. However, putting aside speculation about the ulterior motives of the Sun Editors, Parkin's article is at the very least interesting.

Let me say right away that I put very little stock in either the Liberal Party or the NDP. While the Liberals embraced Neo-Liberalism in the 1990s, the NDP has only more recently made this painful conversion. But since the Green Party is the only real alternative here, and it is very unlikely to form government, progressives are compelled to look at the other two major parties as a path to defeating Harper. I lived in England when Blair took over the Labour Party and I watched while many foolishly and blindly partizan Labour supporters stayed in the Party and acted as though it was still an genuinely progressive party. Meanwhile, I watched other, more careful and acute observers leave the Labour Party, fully realizing Blair's Neo-Liberal, Neo-Thatcherite agenda. Now while it is an exaggeration to say that Thomas Mulcair is as far right as Tony Blair, it would be simply foolish to pretend that he is anything like a traditional NDPer.

The fact is, if you are willing to be non-partisan (and surprisingly few people are), both the Liberals and NDP are offering a few attractive alternative policies to the HarperCons.  I think that the Liberal infrastructure plan is overly modest, but an important idea whose time has come. Furthermore, while NDP stalwarts lambast and ridicule it, it is just simple hypocrisy not to realize that if the same plan came from Mulcair, NDP supporters would screaming from the rooftops about what a great idea it is. The Liberals have also been more active on the Environmental issue in recent months than the NDP who, for reasons I can't fathom, have included almost nothing about the environment in their financial plan. The Liberals are also at least talking about higher taxes for the wealthy, an idea that should be NDP territory. But the supposed tax-cut for the 'middle-class' is just an attempt to vote-buy on Trudeau's part. A simple understanding of economics should tell you that you don't need tax-cuts, you need better services because the collective purchasing of goods and services is infinitely more efficient and cost effective than anything you can do with a few bucks of tax savings. On the other hand, the NDP's talk of a national pharmacare program is very important and anyone, regardless of your economic status should be in favour of it. Though Mulcair has waffled a little, he is at least talking about an increase in corporate taxation. However, if you are at all leftwing you know that Trudeau is right about small business taxes actually favouring people who are relatively wealthy. This is because not only do wealthy tax payers use small businesses as a method of avoiding taxes, but the fact is that most small businesses (and the definition of 'small-business' usually includes businesses with up to a hundred employees) generate a relatively high degree of wealth for their owners. The NDP is at least talking about a national childcare plan, but its creation depends on many factors that might not come to fruition, and meanwhile Mulcair is failing to target childcare money to those who really need it. On foreign policy issues there is little to distinguish the NDP and the Liberal Party, and unfortunately both have terrible positions on the Palestinian issue (which to me is always a litmus test for a progressive party).

Thus, I would say if you want to guarantee that Stephen Harper won't return as PM, and you are a progressive, there is painfully little choice out there. Both the Liberals and the NDP offer a few tidbits, but they also offers shockingly little. (I am secure in my leftwing credentials and have little concern for blindly partizan NDPers who will try to defend Mulcair as though he was never a Thatcherite. Their partizan comments are tiresome in their vacuity) Which brings me back to Parkin's article in the Sun. Parkin's only real argument other than some dubious electoral math, is that the Liberals and Trudeau have a very bad history of propping up Stephen Harper. This is true and should not, I suppose, be disregarded out of hand. If you supported William Bligh when he was a brutal Captain, it is understandable that you would have little credibility after the mutiny. In other words, while Trudeau may not have been the Liberal leader during the period in which the LPC propped up Harper with countless votes in his favour, but he was in the caucus and he should certainly wear that terrible crime and should be called on to explain it (which he has never done). And if someone were to refuse to vote Liberal based only on this principle alone, I would understand. But Mulcair (let's please be honest) has similar baggage. Mulcair had a rather dismal record as Environment Minster in Quebec. I could see how some progressives would say that his position in the Charest Government and his effort to privatize Mont Orford Park (something he claims to have opposed, but the facts of the matter are fairly suspicious) should be enough to preclude him from being the leader of the NPD let alone an NDP PM.

I can only conclude that anyone who is really a political progressive should have no faith in either the NDP or the LPC. People have to decide which they think is the lesser of two evils. For me (fortunately or unfortunately) it doesn't even matter since I live in a seat that will go Conservative even if the entire caucus was arrested tomorrow for molesting collies. But for others out there, I think they should weigh the facts carefully.

A Supreme Narcissist

Northern Reflections - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 05:56

In last week's debate, when Stephen Harper talked about "old stock" Canadians, he wasn't talking about the oldest stock Canadians -- Canada's native peoples. Consider his record of that file. Michael Harris writes:

It was a telling moment in the debate. It was also perfectly in keeping with the Harper government’s view of indigenous peoples. They are invisible, except when beating drums or wearing feathers at one of those ghastly public ceremonies the Harperites like to substitute for real action on the injustices facing Aboriginals. Here’s just one example among many: Shoal Lake #40 – a reserve without safe drinking water for 17 years and counting.

The Crown-First Nations gathering of January 2012 promised renewal of the relationship and real engagement between the two parties. A year later, it was the same old same old. The Governor General didn’t even bother showing up for the anniversary. And that was a big diss since David Johnston represents the Crown, and First Nations treaties are with the Crown — not with any crass politico who fills an office by representing something less than a majority of Canadians.
Harper talks endlessly. But his words are plug nickels:

It would be hard to imagine a person for whom talk is cheaper than Stephen Harper. Point of fact: Harper record on Aboriginal issues is abysmal. Under the Constitution Act of 1982, Section 35 expressly affirms native treaty rights. In 1995, under the same section, Canada recognized that First Nations have an inherent right to self-government.

But instead of hitting the reset button, instead of consulting with First Nations as required by law, and moving towards full implementation of treaty rights and native self-government, Harper has lowered the boom on Canada’s natives at every opportunity. He wouldn’t meet Chief Teresa Spence but he did sic Deloitte on her and publish their audit during her hunger strike.

First, Harper poisoned the relationship by ramming through omnibus legislation, Bills C-38 and C-45. Both of them had a profound effect on native concerns for the environment and sharing in resource

The Harper government also made surreptitious and unilateral changes to the contribution agreements with Canada’s 630 bands. These contribution agreements are their primary source of income. Conditions buried in the appendix to the agreement appeared to suggest the bands would have to support the government’s omnibus legislation in order to access their funding.

After setting up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to get to the bottom of the residential school fiasco, referred to by former prime minister Paul Martin as “cultural genocide,” the Harper government refused to hand over documents requested by the commissioners. In the end, the Commission had to sue the very government that created it in order to do its job.
Mr. Harper's definition of "Canadians" are people who look and act like him. Put another way, he is a supreme narcissist.


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