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Joe Oliver and the Incredible Shrinking Surplus

Montreal Simon - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 03:56

It was hard to imagine a scarier sight, than old Joe Oliver delivering his fiscal update to an audience of Bay Street business types the other day.

And announcing that Canadians should support the Cons, because he's blown the surplus trying to buy votes.

So they can't trust the opposition to run or ruin the economy!!!
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Stephen Harper's Great Failed War on Marijuana

Montreal Simon - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 02:21

As you know, Stephen Harper has made The Great War on Marijuana one of his main  weapons in the Great War on Justin Trudeau.

So he could accuse him of being a dangerous junkie who would make the drug more accessible to kids...

But when that attack ad didn't work, he decided to use our tax dollars to produce an anti-marijuana ad.

And get the country's doctors to endorse it...

But the doctors refused to play his game. 

Because they they could see right through it, like so many other Canadians.
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Beware! Just Say No!

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 17:58

This latest anti-drug propaganda public service ad from the Harper regime is not being well received. Here is a sampling of the critical reaction culled from You Tube:
- "As a Canadian taxpayer, I'm highly offended that my money contributed to this mass disinformation, which amounts to nothing more than scare tactics. It's time for the government
to drop the political motives that are clearly behind these types of messages about drugs, and instead embrace an opinion that is based on public health."

-"What a weak argument - '300 - 400% stronger than it was 30 years ago'. Now you only have to smoke a half joint, instead of 3 joints like you did 30 years ago! Weak! I want my tax
money back!"
-"Listening to this commercial can seem harmless, but it can cause serious damage to a teen’s developing brain."

-"I used to think marijuana was bad, till I saw this commercial. Now I've concluded adults are liars."

-"I don't smoke cannabis, but it's disgraceful knowing my tax money is being wasted on propaganda. How about some sources?"

-"Is this the same advertisement that the College of Physicians refused to support?"

-"Not a fan of pot, but this ad is just stupid," concluded a user going by the handle Antphetamines.I don't know about you, but I still prefer the original scare story:

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International Energy Agency Warns World Poised for Hefty Increase in Fossil Fuel Consumption for Next 25-Years

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 12:05
The International Energy Agency has released its latest World Energy Outlook and it paints a pretty grim picture of our future.

The agency sees global energy demand growing by 37 percent and carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels increasing by one-fifth between now and 2040 mostly because of crude oil and coal burning in Asian countries and Africa.That increase in CO2 emissions will make it extraordinarily difficult to avoid the dangerous consequences from global warming outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest assessment, the IEA warns.Here’s why: Capping a global average temperature increase at 2°C (3.6°F) over pre-industrial times — the internationally agreed-upon point beyond which the effects of climate change have been deemed to become dangerous — requires capping total future global CO2 emissions at 1,000 gigatonnes beginning this year. That’s called the carbon budget, and it’s likely to be used up by 2040, the IEA said.The IEA says the world’s fossil fuel consumption in the coming decades is leading to an average global warming of 3.6°C, or 6.5°F, making catastrophic sea level rise, polar ice cap loss, water shortages and other severe effects nearly inevitable.Unless it cuts back its use of fossil fuels right away, China is on track to become the world’s largest oil-consuming nation by the early 2030s, at the same time as U.S. oil consumption is likely to fall. China is also likely to consume half the world’s coal by the middle of the next decade as global coal demand grows 15 percent between today and 2040.This is the future as Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper see it.  Unless China and the US make serious efforts to slash emissions very soon, and ride roughshod over countries like Canada and Australia to compel them to follow suit, everything else is merely good intentions and we know what paves the road to hell.

The IEA outlook is similar to the OPEC forecast released last week.

Hassan Diab--last stop on the railroad

Dawg's Blawg - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:03
Apparently caving in to the current anti-terrorist panic, the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear the appeal of fellow-citizen Hassan Diab against his extradition to France for alleged involvement in the rue Copernic bombing of a synagogue in... Dr.Dawg

Sh_t Pravda Says

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:03
Ah, Pravda, the legendary propaganda agency of the Soviet Union, is back at it, merrily thrashing about in its favourite Cold War wading pool.

Articles such as, "Russia takes complete advantage of castrated Armed Forces of the West," or, "Russia prepares nuclear surprise for NATO," or, "Modern Day America, One Step Away from the Third Reich," strike a very bellicose chord.

While some passages in the articles are laughable, the question arises whether the Russian public is being tuned up for a resumption of a full-blown Cold War.  The West is being presented as an out-of-control, potentially existential threat to Russia and her people and we seem unable to stop feeding their paranoia.  

Anyone Up For A Citizen's Arrest?

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:56

That is the question Toronto lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo essentially asks, given the egregious contempt for law that the Harper government in general, and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander in particular, is showing regarding refugee health care:
Our government has clearly refused to comply with an order in a case in which the court found that the government’s denial of health benefits to refugees was a violation of our Charter of Rights (Ottawa’s Treatment Of Refugees Is Shocking – Nov. 7).

This defiance is in the face of the court refusing the government’s request to stay the order. Moreover, the government has publicly stated that it is obeying the court order, in spite of the clear facts to the contrary.

In my practice of law, I’ve represented trade union leaders who have gone to jail as a result of defying court orders. Perhaps it’s time for a citizen’s arrest of Immigration Minister Chris Alexander or indeed the PM, who likely authorized this defiance.

It’s time this government learned that the rule of law means the law applies equally to all. It is not enough to wax eloquently on Remembrance Day that we should honour our fallen soldiers who fought valiantly and died to protect the rule of law. We truly honour them by complying with the rule of law and not defying it!

Contempt of a court order is an insult to their memory.Recommend this Post

Dear Tony, You Can Kiss Our...

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 08:53

A group of Australians gathered on Bondi Beach to bury their heads in the sand in protest of their prime minister's fossil fuel fetish.

More than 400 protesters stuck their heads in the sand on Australia’s Bondi Beach on Thursday, mocking the government’s reluctance to put climate change on the agenda of a G20 summit this weekend.
Prime minister Tony Abbott’s perceived failure to address climate change is all the more galling in the wake of an agreement between the United States and China on Wednesday to limit their carbon emissions, they said.

“Obama’s on board, Xi Jinping’s on board, everyone’s on board except one man,” activist Pat Norman, 28, bellowed into a megaphone on the Sydney beach.

“Tony Abbott!” the protesters shouted back (presumably before they stuck their heads in the sand).

The Big Easy - Easy On Rapists

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 08:43

There's always been a seedy undercurrent to New Orleans - everything from street hustlers to corrupt politicians.  It's part of the flavour of the place.

Now it turns out the Big Easy has been going easy on rapists thanks to a municipal detective squad that couldn't care less.

... a city inspector general’s report claims five detectives failed to do substantial investigation of more than 1,000 cases of sex crimes and child abuse — with one detective being cited for stating a belief that simple rape should not be considered a crime.

The US Justice Department previously investigated the scandal-plagued police force and in 2012 the city agreed to a host of changes in its policies. Among the federal probe’s major findings were that the police force was rife with corruption and had numerous instances of excessive use of deadly force, discrimination and problems with its sex crimes unit. A federal monitor is overseeing compliance.

The latest city report charged that a detective handling child abuse failed to investigate a case involving a three-year-old brought to an emergency room due to an alleged sexual assault, closing the case without any charges even though the child had a sexually transmitted disease. The same detective closed the book with minimal or no investigation, and again with no charges, on two cases involving children brought to the emergency room with fractured skulls, the report said.

Another detective, this one assigned to handle sex crimes, allegedly told several people that simple rape should not be considered a crime, the report charged. Simple rape happens when a person has sex with someone without their consent.

Conservatives making stuff up

Dawg's Blawg - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 07:52
A recent spew of bigotry by Ezra Levant—for which he has now issued yet another empty apology (around @14:00), and substantially modified his “Canada Love It Or Leave” T-shirt hawking—reminds us that Conservatives habitually create ideological narratives that do not... Dr.Dawg

The Pushback Against Dictatorship Continues

Northern Reflections - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 07:11

Michael Harris' book Party of One details how Stephen Harper has corrupted Canadian democracy. Now you can add John Ralston Saul to Harper's enemies list. Saul's latest book, The Comeback, focuses on the harm Harper has done to Canada's First Nations and the environment. Saul is particularly critical of the prime minister's use of omnibus bills. Lawrence Martin writes:

Saul devotes a chapter of his book to detailing how so-called ‘budget’ bills have been used by the Harper government as camouflage for making controversial changes to law — for example, downgrading environmental protections and changing unemployment insurance eligibility — with very little debate.

The Conservatives have defended the bills by saying that other governments have used them as well. This, says Saul, “is an intentional misrepresentation, which is to say, it is a lie.”
 Other governments passed omnibus bills:

Past governments have built packages of laws, Saul acknowledges, but he argues they tended to be linked by a single theme, were smaller than the Harper government’s omnibus bills and were subjected to more debate. The Harper bills are designed, he says, to short-circuit public debate: “The democratic function is eliminated as a reality. What remains is pro-forma voting.”

In twelve months, says Saul, “Parliament was bullied into radically altering 133 largely unrelated laws through two acts.” 
The pushback against dictatorship is now out in the open. Only time will tell if Canadians are paying attention.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 06:55
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Krugman discusses the U.S.' multi-decade pattern of income stagnation. David MacDonald and Kayle Hatt study the price we've paid to suit the Cons' political purposes, while Kristin Rushowy reports on two new calls for a genuine child care system. And Andrew Jackson notes that the Cons' only real end goal has been to hand free money to people who don't need it:
The government forecasts a deficit of $2.9 billion in this fiscal year, (2014-15.) Yet there would almost have been a surplus this year if the government had not decided to introduce family income splitting for the current tax year of 2014, at a cost of $2.4 billion in the fiscal year 2014-15 in terms of reduced revenues.
The big winners are high income, single earner families where the higher earner has an income of at least $75,000 per year. They will receive tax refund cheques of $2,000 on the eve of the 2015 election.

In the context of rapidly rising income and wealth inequality, it is outrageous that the Conservative government’s priority is to introduce a tax measure that will actually worsen inequality and do nothing to lower child poverty or to fund a badly needed child care program.- Meanwhile, Toby Sanger highlights how austerity has undermined Canada's economy over the past few years by replacing efficient public investment with useless tax baubles:

- Which isn't to say that we're lacking for areas where public money can still be put to better use, as Don Pittis writes about the billions being funneled by governments into making climate change worse.

- Alison observes that while deep integration with the U.S. has taken multiple forms, neither its goals nor its proponents have changed one bit over the past decade.

- Finally, both Frances Russell and Lawrence Martin partially explain the Cons' destructive policies by looking at Stephen Harper's insularity and refusal to allow either any real outside input into his plans, or any debate over his unilateral decisions.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 06:39
Here, on how user reviews and the wisdom of crowds don't do us much good if businesses are able to silence anything that raises concerns about them.

For further reading...
- Laura K makes a similar point here.
- CBC reports on libel chill here, including a discussion of the Ottawa property manager which managed to intimidate a tenant into pulling an unfavourable review.
- Again, Mike De Souza discusses Exxon Mobil's attempts to silence his reporting on ALEC here. Jenny Uechl and Warren Bell expose Canada's links to the Western Energy Alliance - including its dirty war against the public - here.
- And finally, CBC reports on Kinder Morgan's attempt to silence protestors and the #kmface movement which responded, while Lauren Krugel notes that there's ample reason to doubt Kinder Morgan's own spin.

What Will Be The New Excuses For Inaction?

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 06:38

H/t The Globe and Mail

Now that the United States and China have signed a deal to drastically reduce their carbon emissions, one can only imagine that the Harper propaganda machine is now in overdrive, probably squirming under the unwanted attention this deal will direct at the regime.

As noted by The Pembina Institute yesterday,
“Canada has long justified its own failures to limit the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by pointing to the inaction of heavy emitters like the U.S. and China, but that excuse does not stand up to scrutiny.

“With this announcement, China is showing real leadership on climate change. Given the energy demands of China’s growing population and economy, identifying a target year for its emissions to peak, along with a plan to invest heavily in clean energy generation, is a significant and ambitious step.
The Harper spin machine has some formidable facts it will have to twist and pervert if it is to continue facilitating climate change. Here are some of those facts as provided by the Institute:
- Canada is among the top emitters, per capita, in the industrialized world
- Canada and the U.S. have both committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.
- The U.S. is likely to meet its 2020 climate target, while Canada is expected to miss its emissions target by 20% (122 megatonnes of CO2e).
Canada’s oil and gas sector regulations are now eight years overdue. In the meantime, emissions from the oilsands are set to rise from 34 megatonnes to 101 megatonnes between
2005 and 2020.
- Canada has regulated emissions related to 10% of the energy in its electricity system, whereas the U.S. has targeted all electricity emissions.
- Canada’s coal regulations are mitigating 0.4% of our emissions by 2020. The U.S. clean power plan would mitigate 4.9-6.6% of U.S. emissions.Perhaps the first salvo has already been fired, with the Conservatives employing a technique they have honed over the years - baldfaced lies and non-sequiturs. Stephen Lecce, a spokesman for Harper, said
"Canada has taken decisive action to reduce emissions, while our economy has grown and over 1.2 million net new jobs have been created since the global downturn" Perhaps the regime will take a page out of the U.S. Republican playbook, which was quick and predictable in its denunciation of Obama's deal:
"I was particularly distressed by the deal ... which, as I read the agreement, requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states around the country," said U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell on Wednesday.Or maybe, as illustrated in yesterday's post on Fox News' reaction to the deal, it will simply indulge in bafflegag or attempt to change the conversation. Already, as reported in The Globe,
Mr. Harper and Alberta Premier Jim Prentice insist Canada cannot impose costly emission regulations on the oil sands unless the United States adopts GHG rules for its oil sector.If none of these strategies work, I suppose Harper could just continue doing what he has done best for so long: bury his head in the Alberta tarsands.

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Stephen Harper and the Great Benito Leader

Montreal Simon - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 03:25

There is an old internet adage called Godwin's Law, that dictates that among other things, one can't call Stephen Harper and his Cons Nazis.

And I don't, because it also wouldn't be decent. It would diminish the deaths and the suffering of Hitler's many victims. 

And of course, because it's not strictly accurate eh?

You really can't compare our bumbling Con fascists to those genocidal Nazi maniacs.

But Harper is a maniac, and he is killing our country. So I'm really glad to see that at least it's now OK to compare him to Benito Mussolini. 
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Apples and Mandarins

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 18:08
The logic of Fox commentators is, to say the least, difficult for an old fella like me to follow:

Recommend this Post

Deep integration revisited

Creekside - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 14:09

Hey, remember the Task Force on the Future of North America, brought to you by the US Council on Foreign Relations and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives back in 2005? Sure ya do. Co-chaired by blue dog liberal John Manley who also co-authored the resulting book:
"The Task Force's central recommendation is establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter."OK, so they are a wee bit behind their 2010 deep integration schedule here.  And way way behind the Fraser Institute who in 1999 published a paper in favor of a continental monetary integration date - also for 2010.

The Case for the Amero: The Institutions of a North American Monetary Union
"On the day the North American Monetary Union is created--perhaps on January 1, 2010--Canada, the United States, and Mexico will replace their national currencies with the amero. ...  At the same time, the national central banks of the three countries will be replaced by the North American Central Bank. The board of governors of the North American Central Bank will consist of members from the United States, Canada, and Mexico chosen by their respective governments in numbers that reflect their economic importance and population." The Fraser Institute article credits Reform Party MPs Jason Kenney, Rob Anders, and Rahim Jaffer for "spearheading a debate in parliament over the issue of monetary union for North America" in 1999.

CFR, minus the help of John Manley and the CCCE this time, is apparently still in 'community-building' mode with the release of a new paper, North America : Time for a New Focus:
"The Council on Foreign Relations has convened an Independent Task Force on North America, co-chaired by David H. Petraeus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (and head of leveage-buyout corp KKR Global), and Robert B. Zoellick, former president of the World Bank (and Chair at Goldman Sachs).The Task Force will provide a comprehensive analysis of North American integration in areas including trade, security, migration, energy, and infrastructure, and will generate policy recommendations designed to enhance U.S. and regional competitiveness and well-being."“Now is the moment for the United States to break free from old foreign policy biases to recognize that a stronger, more dynamic, resilient continental base will increase U.S. power globally.”Not really new or news though, is it?
In his 2011 re-election campaign, Harper put out a CPC ad giving it a jobs jobs jobs edge : "so we commit to expanding our management of the border to the concept of a North American perimeter" :
The same month as Harper's 2011 speech, WikiLeaks released one of US Ambassador Paul Cellucci's 2005 cables from the US Embassy in Ottawa.  In it he suggests that "Canadian policy makers" support a "security perimeter" via an "incremental and pragmatic package of tasks" emphasizing "security and prosperity" (SPP!) to pave the way for a future North American "single market and/or single currency."  He also notes that due to its benefits for "law-enforcement and data-gathering", "our governments may always want to keep some kind of land border in place". Excerpted :"An incremental and pragmatic package of tasks for a new North American Initiative (NAI) will likely gain the most support among Canadian policymakers. Our research leads us to conclude that such a package should tackle both "security" and "prosperity" goals. This fits the recommendations of Canadian economists who have assessed the options for continental integration. While in principle many of them support more ambitious integration goals, like a customs union/single market and/or single currency, most believe the incremental approach is most appropriate at this time...Canadian economists in business, academia and government have given extensive thought to the possible options for further North American integration.Paradoxically, the security and law enforcement aspects of the envisioned initiative could hold as much - or more - potential for broad economic benefits than the economic dimension.ORDER VS. PERIMETER: Even with zero tariffs, our land borders have strong commercial effects. Some of these effects are positive (such as law enforcement and data gathering), so our governments may always want to keep some kind of land border in place."Nine years later, the only real difference is that this is starting to sound normal to us.

Das Auto is Awesome.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 13:15
The rednecks in the state government did everything underhanded they could to keep Tennessee Volkswagen workers from going union.  It was a move that pitted the company against, not its workers, but the government.  Volkswagen had to come out and dispel the lies, announcing that it welcomed a union but it was too late and the workforce was sufficiently intimidated/discouraged that it voted the union down.

In the wake of concerted federal, state and local anti-union interference, Volkswagen's labour council announced that, if the company did build any more American plants, they wouldn't be in the anti-union South.

According to the United Auto Workers, Volkswagen has decided of its own accord to recognize the union in its Tennessee plant.  The UAW says the announcement is expected this week.  That should send a Star Spangled rocket up those redneck asses.

The Right was so strenuously opposed to VW workers going union out of fear that it might spread of other workers in other companies in the low-wage slave states.


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