Posts from our progressive community

Bombardier Gets What It Wants

Northern Reflections - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 05:11


I used to teach in the Eastern Townships, not too far from where the Bombardiers got their start making snowmobiles. I should be clear at the outset: I acknowledge that snowmobiles are essential in the Far North. But as recreational vehicles, I find them loud and simply annoying.

Nonetheless, the Bombardier and Beaudoin families have used snowmobiles to leverage their way into the transportation business. And, Alan Freeman writes, they are masters at getting governments to come to their terms.

Consider how the families got into the aircraft business. They bought government owned Canadair back in the 1980's:

It all started in 1986, when Bombardier became the dark horse buyer for Canadair, the federally-owned aircraft manufacturer that already had spent $1.5 billion developing the Challenger business jet. At the time, the Challenger seemed even a lousier bet that the C Series is today, with Canadair having sold only five of the jets in 1984 and 22 in 1985. Bombardier paid a scant $120 million for the whole company. The Mulroney government was relieved to get the thing off its hands.

The sale turned out to be a brilliant move for both Bombardier and the government. Thirty years later, the Challenger is still in production and Bombardier’s decision to stretch the business jet into a passenger aircraft created the whole regional-jet segment of the industry. Bombardier — which started improbably as a maker of snowmobiles — turned into the world’s third-largest maker of civilian
 aircraft. 
In the 1990's, the families bought Toronto based de Havilland:

Bombardier used similar tactics in 1992 when it bought de Havilland Aircraft of Toronto from Boeing. Once again, Bombardier was the only real bidder for what looked like a doomed asset, and it managed to get grateful Ontario and federal governments to finance much of the deal. 
And they bought Shorts Aircraft from Maggie Thatcher's government in the midst of  "the troubles" in Northern Ireland. And the company has been able to snag long term contracts building rolling stock for Montreal's Metro and the Toronto Transit Commission. Bombardier has always had trouble meeting deadlines. But it has made all of those enterprises profitable:

When it came to Thatcher’s reluctant decision in 1989, the money ended up being well spent. Bombardier may be infuriating for politicians to deal with — making promises on timelines and research and development costs that it can’t seem to meet, refusing to dilute the control of the founding family — but when it comes to jobs and investment in R&D, it generally delivers what it promises.

At de Havilland, Bombardier developed the Q400 turboprop aircraft; it still makes it there. And the C Series, with its new order for 75 planes from Air Canada and the real possibility of an even-bigger order from Delta in the U.S., may be at the point of taking off.

Bombardier may be all sort of things, but it’s not a take-the-money-and-run kind of investor. If it weren’t for Bombardier, chances are Canadair, de Havilland and Shorts all would have closed down long ago and Canada would have an aerospace industry making parts for others and doing maintenance on aircraft built elsewhere.
So, don't be surprised when the Trudeau government gives Bombardier what it wants. It's very good at getting what it wants.

 Image: cfdcanda.ca

Now Will Margaret Wente Finally Be Fired?

Montreal Simon - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 04:48


When I last left Margaret Wente just over a week ago, she was bobbing merrily up and down along with the rest of the Con media, in the wreckage of the Harper regime.

Still praying for a miracle, and the destruction of Justin Trudeau.

But sadly for our Queen of the Globe, her deathly companion's prayers didn't work.

And she is still a snooty Con hack, and a serial plagiarist. 
Read more »

One The Mend

Dawg's Blawg - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 04:34
Dropped by the Dawg House yesterday, and am pleased to report that the Good Doctor is doing very well. Healing nicely, mobile, in good spirits, and catching up on his Netflix while his recovery continues. He was deeply moved by... Balbulican http://stageleft.info

The Con Porker Cheryl Gallant Disgraces Herself. Again.

Montreal Simon - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 01:35


It's been just over a month since the ghastly Con hog Cheryl Gallant last disgraced herself.

By using the memory of the murdered soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo to peddle Easter hams at a fundraising event.

And using his death to smear migrants and refugees as terrorists, and attack Justin Trudeau. As only that porky bigot could.



Well now she's made a fool of herself again.
Read more »

What Do the Saudis Know that Justin, Rachel and Brad Haven't Figured Out?

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 15:11



The rulers of Saudi Arabia want to wean their government off its dependence on oil revenues by - wait for it - 2020.

One part of the plan will see shares sold in state-owned oil giant Aramco to create a sovereign wealth fund.

Announcing the reforms, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described his country as being addicted to oil.

The Vision 2030 plan, he told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, would ensure "we can live without oil by 2020".


Oil has made Saudi Arabia a major economic force. But it comes at a cost. The short-term problem is the volatile price of crude oil, which is now less than half what it was in mid-2014. Saudi Arabia has deep pockets.

It will not go running to the International Monetary Fund for financial help, something another oil exporter, Angola, has done. But the Saudi reserves are eroding and with almost three quarters of government revenue coming from oil, the price fall is making itself felt.

For the long term, international efforts to combat climate change create huge uncertainty about demand for oil in the future. Oil will not lose its dominance of the market for transport fuel in the next few years, but further ahead the outlook is unknown.


Saudi Arabia, of course, has massive reserves of low-cost, low-carbon conventional crude oil and yet they want out. Here in Canada, our political leadership, federal and provincial, intends to double down on development of the highest-cost, highest-carbon unconventional oil on the planet.

Update: Foreign Policy has more on the Saudi plan to diversify their economy.

A Prosecutor Asks the Wright Questions

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 12:14
The National Observer's, Sandy Garossino, a businesswoman, journalist and former Crown prosecutor has done a brilliant job of wading into the aftermath and stench of the Duffy trial to ask the "Wright Questions" that cannot be left unasked, unanswered.

Justin Trudeau may prefer to close the book on the Wright-Harper affair, this possible conspiracy, but we deserve answers and if those answers do reveal a national police apparatus gone rogue and political institutions that can no longer be trusted then we deserve action.


The Keynesian Devolution of America

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 12:06

There are, in progressive circles, many disciples of Keynesian economics, the theories of legendary British economist, John Maynard Keynes. Some see it as the necessary path to a Middle Class renaissance in Canada.

A somewhat contrary view is taken by another very progressive economist, James K. Galbraith, who, in his book "The Predator State" contends that the Keynesian horse has left the barn and America has entered an era of Keynesian Devolution. Galbraith uses this term to describe, "the transfer of the power to borrow and to fuel economic growth from the public to the private sector. It is from the Keynesian devolution, public borrowing privileges gone private, that the household emerged as the prime motor of American growth.

This is something quite new: an economy sustained by institutions providing, in the main, human services and drive, in the main, by the accumulation of personal and household debts and a corresponding rise in asset values. It is a system that can emerge only in a world where the country in question is released from one of the age-old obligations of all countries: the obligation to pay for the goods it consumes with the goods it produces, of like value. The growth of imports in such a system will exceed that of exports, barring the discovery of new natural resources to exploit. Therefore, for good or ill, the country will be obliged to issue and accumulate external debt - to borrow from overseas. That is the American case... And for the system to continue, two conditions must be met. First, there must be a willing holder of the resulting external national debt. Second, the system cannot be allowed to collapse from within. This means that attacks on it from those who see the opportunity to become very rich in the easiest possible ways, by preying on the public sector, cannot be allowed to get out of hand.

The history of the past three decades has often been written as a struggle between the spirit of Milton Friedman and the ghosts of Keynes and Franklin D. Roosevelt - between the market and the state. The Reagan revolution was successful primarily in forcing changes in the way people thought and spoke: it resurrected Adam Smith and Friedrich von Hayek, and established a new church of the free market...  But with respect to the major New Deal institutions of middle-class social welfare policy, Reagan barely changed the facts on the ground. Social Security came through those years with its benefits mostly intact.Medicare and Medicaid continued to grow.

...Overall the New Deal survived Reagan quite intact, and the economy recovered - partly led by housing, partly by technology, partly by military spending. This was not because the conservatives around Reagan succeeded but because they had failed.

Those who describe themselves as political conservatives but who are mainly interested in power rather than in ideas drew the lesson. They adapted. They quietly dropped any serious adherence to their own past ideas. Rather than defeat the system, they decided to join it. And to turn it to their own purposes. Without saying a word.

And so Galbraith lays the foundation for the rise of the Predator State in which the system of free trade was re-jigged. Instead of increasing trade, creating more well-paid jobs it became a vehicle for outsourcing jobs, relocating production to low wage/few questions asked jurisdictions and transferring both economic and political power out of the middle class to the elites, in turn facilitating their "capture" of the political process at the direct expense of liberal democracy.

Today the bulk of global trade is no longer in products of trade - resources, end goods or services. Today it is primarily in money - currency, financial instruments, shares and bonds. This is what Galbraith means when he writes that they have taken trade and "turn[ed] it to their own purposes. Without saying a word."







To the Liberal Loudmouth: The Only Thing that Ties Attawapiskat Suicides to Freedom to Die in Dignity is Your Medieval Religious Superstition

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:42
It's a terse post from the Liberal Loudmouth: "Makes sense. Assisted suicide vs. Attawapiskat. Untie that knot, if you can. Don't know how Ottawa can reconcile assisted suicide with crisis at Attawapiskat."

Untie that knot? Sure, be happy to. The only knot is in the murky Catholic superstitions that bind this character's supposedly enlightened mind.

Yes there is a serious and troubling suicide/attempted suicide problem in Attawapiskat. Members of that remote First Nations community have been attempting to commit suicide at alarming rates. We must act to relieve their suffering and end this wave of attempted suicides.

The government's legislation addresses a much different problem. It's a distinction that any genuine progressive should have not the slightest difficulty grasping.

What this joker dismisses as "assisted suicide" has nothing to do with suicide. It's not choosing death over life. It's not choosing to end a viable life. This legislation is an attempt to provide compassionate relief to a different class of people - the terminally ill. They are dying and that is anything but of their own choice. It's specious to mock them by pretending otherwise. It's vile to ignore their reality. It is abjectly demeaning of people who want nothing more than to die with dignity and compassion. It's inhumane, monstrously so to deny them that choice, to condemn those among them who face a protracted and agonizing death. And, the most monstrous part is to invoke your religious superstitions and your make-believe deity as justification.



"A World Full of Fact-Resistant Humans"

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:13

That's what Satyajit Das sees when he looks at Earth today, a world full of fact-resistant humans. The Indian-born, Australian banker, academic, and author is featured in the latest Tyee discussing the post-growth world economy that will soon be on us and, with our resistance to facts generally, how this will hit us sooner than you imagine.

I think the last 50 to 60 years were quite odd in terms of the longer run economic history of the world. Now, we face a series of challenges. Some are financial and some are non-financial. But, they are all linked. The first challenges I would list are financial and economic, built around excessive debt. The sum of global debt is about three times GDP. If we had interest rates of three per cent on average, the global economy would need to grow annually, over the long run, by roughly nine per cent just to service it.

Policymakers and most people have decided it's just too difficult to deal with. For now, they ignore it. But these things can't be ignored forever. Not only did we borrow, but we also promised ourselves government services, like elder care and health care, which haven't been fully paid for. These will have to be paid over the next 20 to 30 years.

...The planet is now full of fact-resistant humans and we don't want to even acknowledge climate change. We're experiencing extreme weather conditions which impact on the costs of world operations, in terms of insurance, food production, and many other things.

And there are a whole series of other problems for economic growth, like the demographics of aging. Also, improvements in economic productivity and rates of innovation have generally flattened off.

We also face geopolitical uncertainties, some of which are going to become more heightened with fights over food rights, water security, and energy security.

But, the thing that dooms us to an age of stagnation is that we do not want to confront any of this. We currently have a model of dealing with these issues, which is counterproductive. We can loosely call it the extend-and-pretend model. We tend to defer the problems, pushing them into the future, often in financial terms.

The whole model of quantitative easing, low interest rates and government spending, does not actually solve these underlying problems. For example, climate change summits tend to defer the problem rather than confronting it. All we're doing is piling these problems up. And as we do this, the problems get bigger.

Das mocks what he calls the Davos Man narrative that preaches perpetual economic growth while ignoring the key factors that have driven growth since the outset of the Industrial Revolution, especially population growth. Think of it as a bit like driving a car down the highway only with the windows blacked out.


C225, or Exploting Grief to Attack Abortion Rights Bill

Dammit Janet - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 09:12
Double-plus good fetus freak MP Cathay Wagantall's private member's bill C225, or The Exploiting Grief to Attack Abortion Rights Bill has its first hour of debate on May 2.

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), which opposes the bill, is calling on similar right-minded people to send letters to our MPs asking them to oppose it too. Here's a sample letter to cut and paste from.

There are many reasons to oppose it, but the main one is that is a "personhood" bill.

From the sample letter:
Bill C-225 is almost identical to Bill C-484 (“Unborn Victims of Crime Act”), a 2008 bill that passed second reading but got no further, and was widely criticized as a sneak attack on abortion rights. Like C-484, the new bill ascribes an implicit form of legal personhood to a fetus. Although it defines the fetus as not a human being, I think that’s disingenuous because C-225 would modify the “Offences Against the Person” section of the Criminal Code, and give the fetus the human right not to be injured or killed. But legal precedent in Canada has already established that a pregnant woman and her fetus are considered “physically one,” and that separating them would risk infringing women’s Charter rights (Supreme Court in Dobson v. Dobson). Also, I find it telling that support for the bill comes largely from the anti-choice movement. I fear that the anti-choice movement would use this law as a stepping stone to restrict abortion.
Its proponents say: no, no, no, this bill has nothing nada zip zero to do with abortion. Just as they said about C484, unless they're talking amongst themselves, and then of course it's about abortion, wink wink. Here's a link to an old blog-post by JJ, the unrepenant old hippie, with screen-caps of their "is it or isn't it?" flip-flops.

I do believe Jeff Durham, ex-partner of the murdered woman, Cassandra Kaake, and most vocal and sympathetic supporter of the law, when he says he's pro-choice and this bill is not intended (by him at least) to affect abortion rights.

But look what I found the fetus freaks saying about him amongst themselves.

After noting that Durham describes himself as "pro-choice," the piece in the Catholic rag, Interim, goes on:
Wagantall says that Durham’s public support of the bill is part of the strategy to counter so-called pro-choice objections that unborn victims laws are pro-life laws in sheep’s clothing.Thus, my name for the bill: The Exploiting Grief to Attack Abortion Rights Bill.

They are absolutely shameless about using a man's grief and pain and thirst for justice/revenge to advance their misogynist agenda.

And the freaks know they have an emotional wedge here. Hearing of a vicious crime in which a woman is killed along with her wanted fetus, most people react with horror and condemnation. When slyly informed that the perpetrator cannot be charged with an additional crime for the death of the fetus, these people are shocked.

When further slyly informed that there is a remedy for that in this proposed law, a remedy that will NOT impinge on abortion rights or the rights of pregnant people in general, these people will nod and be reassured.

It is precisely this knee-jerk sympathy and shock that the fetus freaks intend to exploit.

I doubt C225 will pass, but who knows? C484 got further than sane people expected.

Please take a few minutes to contact your MP. (The handy MP finder by postal code thingy is here.)

Because C225 is a wolf in sheep's clothing.




Yes, service cuts are possible with higher than inflation spending increases

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 08:30
Image Source: Twitter
So some snark is being flung around by the centre-right pundit class on #MbPoli twitter over leftwing concerns about austerity and service cuts under the incoming Pallister CON administration. Solidarity Winnipeg was organized under the belief that a Conservative Government on Broadway would result in policies harmful to vast swaths of working people and that push back to said policies are needed. Events like the April 23 post-election workshop on what's next for progressive activists are setting a tone of vigilance. More established progressive organizations, like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Manitoba Office, have taken note too.

There is a clear rationale for the defensive measures of many progressive organizers. Left-progressive activists don't have the funding and ability to set up issue-based opposition campaigns as quickly as a lot of the deep pocketed rightwing groups do. The left can't muster up an astroturf campaign like rightwing groups such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses or the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation does in response to regulations or tax policies they dislike such as the PST hike. Even labour unions have limitations on how quickly they can mobilize members and on what issues. The money lubricated media machine on the Right is just a lot better at snap responses than the volunteer labour powered organizing of leftwing activists.

Setting up the ground game for a likely fight over public social investments and labour policy early on, therefore, makes quite a bit of sense for left-progressives. When it comes to what "austerity" actually means, obviously the fear is that given enough leeway and not enough pushback the Pallister CON government will implement service cuts like, or greater than, those of the 1990s and drastically change labour relations in this province. "Right to work" and other anti-labour organizing legislation incubated in the US is picking up steam in Canadian rightwing think tanks. In the homestretch of the campaign, Brian Pallister ratcheted up his anti-labour rhetoric and accused unions of running the province.On social services, Pallister stuck to ambiguously talking about cutting "waste" - but "waste" cutting is often a euphemism for cutting services one says to assuage voters.

I have no idea in what context the activists Brian Kelcey tweeted about argued that spending increases above Consumer Price Index increases plus 1-2 % count as "austerity". It can be the case, depending on the demographic makeup of users of certain programs, that even increases above the rate of inflation in spending can result in service cuts, however. This is most obviously the case in healthcare.

Consider the Manitoba mining town of Thompson. Shortly after it was established it had a very young population of blue collar workers and next to no senior residents. I've heard anecdotes of  how in the early days of the Thompson any senior in town meant somebody was visiting from elsewhere.

Now, over time the proportion of older residents of Thompson increased as founding residents aged and more white-collar, industry support jobs developed in the town. It's possible to imagine the growth in seniors being as high as 120% during a five year period in the early days of the town. If we suppose, just to illustrate the argument, that healthcare spending in the area in 1965 was $8000 and there were 100 users we would get spending of $80 per user. Now suppose that spending increased with the rate of inflation plus  3% real growth per year. In five years healthcare spending would be up to $9274.19 in constant dollars*. Let us assume the town had 30 seniors at the start of the five year period and that 70% of seniors use healthcare services. At the end of the five year period the town would have 36 additional seniors and of those about 25 would be healthcare users. Even with the above inflation increases, spending per user and potentially service levels have gone down to $74.19 per user.

This numerical example, completely made up to illustrate the point (I haven't looked at the demographic data over time for Thompson), shows that spending can actually result in service level cuts. This could take the form of longer wait times or less quality care per visit. Obviously, there are other complications (depending on what's the optimal amount of hospitals in the area there can be economies of scale - in which less spending per user doesn't matter - or diseconomies of scale - in which less spending per user would be a big concern and the intensity/cost of care required by seniors may differ from non-seniors).

 The main takeaway point is that Brian Kelcey's subtweeted activists may not be completely out to lunch. Within the context of certain programs, such as healthcare spending, even if funding increases above the rate of inflation there may be cuts in service levels.

ENDNOTE 

*$8000x(1.03)5 = $9274.19

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 06:31
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tyler Hamilton offers a roundup of the growing threat of climate change - and Canada's shameful contribution to making it worse.

- Andy Blatchford reports on the Libs' plans for a massive selloff of federal public assets in order to paper over holes in their budgets. And Tammy Robert examines how the corporatization of school constructions (under orders from the provincial government) is imposing massive costs on Saskatchewan municipalities.

- Meanwhile, E. Wayne Ross comments on the unfairness involved in funding private schools through public funds. And Doug Saunders takes a look at Finland's success in building an education system to reduce inequality rather than exacerbate it.

- Adele Peters reports that contrary to the threats of business opponents, Seattle's increased minimum wage hasn't had any meaningful effect on affordability. And Nick Hanauer and Robert Reich point out that improved access to overtime pay would work wonders both to reduce the stress on current workers, and provide jobs for people lacking them.

- Finally, PressProgress points out what the Mike Duffy verdict tells us about the culture of the Conservative Party. And Tom Parkin notes that the main difference with the Trudeau Libs is their misdirection to shift attention from a similar track record.

Guest Post: A Manitoban Reflects On His Province's Choice of Brian Pallister's Conservatives

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 06:30


I have a friend in Winnipeg with whom I regularly speak and correspond. Although he does not work in the field, he is possessed of a keen mind and a journalist's instincts and methodology that enable him to frequently uncover an array of misbehaviour on the part of public officials and organizations. I have urged him to devote himself to these pursuits when he retires, perhaps in a blog or some other forum.

He has given me permission to publish a missive he sent me about the recent Pallister victory in his province. For very good reasons he wishes anonymity, so he will remain unnamed, but here is, slightly edited, what he had to say:

Montreal Simon is a well-informed man and also knows the importance of history. If only people remembered things, especially political history.

The point that bothers me the most regarding the conservative victory here is that it is so large. I was hoping for a miracle such as a minority government but the unwashed have spoken. It will take more than one term to extinguish this government just because there are so many ridings held by it. Back in 1977 I remember when the Lyon government came to power. As a political rube at the time (I was a wet behind the ears high school student in grade 12) I had no idea how partisan politics could become. Manitoba was perhaps a more ‘balanced’ place at that time as Lyon only lasted one term before the electorate threw him out. Now no one seems to remember the legacy of the Filmon government.

In the late eighties came the Filmon government. Thanks to the spread of neo-liberal thought Gary was able to win three elections in a row. I remember his puckish grin during a news interview for the latest triumph. He called his third mandate a ‘threepeat’, echoing his competitive jock background (was a big basketball star at Sisler High). Nobody now remembers his lies (‘We have no plans to sell MTS”), bureaucratization of health care (creation of regional health authorities with resident bean counters who ‘manage’ care), big investments in casinos (great jobs, right) and cutting funding in education and healthcare (16-20 million for each department); also a bald attempt to privatize segments of provincial healthcare.

Meanwhile as cuts and austerity were implemented in the public sector no one paid much attention to the money showered on the private sector. Let’s see; 16 million gift to the Winnipeg Jets pro hockey team, increase in funding to private schools, subsidies for international companies: an American phone centre company called Fanueil and a Korean computer outfit call Wang. Both folded their tents within a couple years and quietly left the province with who knows how much government cash. I think the crowning financial toilet flush of public money occurred in the late nineties when the government was preparing to host the Pan American Games. The final price tag was never really pegged but of course to ask the total cost would cast a pall over the festivities enjoyed by Manitoba’s class conscious elite. They wanted this so bad that I remember one of the province’s leading plutocrats actually coming out into the public light of day and demanding that the Filmon government spend more money on the games (or else he would quit the organizing committee).

Ahh Lorne, memory is such a curse. Why do I torture myself? Guess I will be living through ‘interesting times’ as the Chinese say.

To cap it off the news brings word of more victory for the dark forces; Duffy acquitted, no one in the PMO even charged. The CBC continuing to ignore stories of importance and merit. Here is a link to the Huffington Post. It published an AP story on South Korea. Maybe CBC avoided publication because it might affect its bid for broadcast rights for the 2018 games?

P.S.: John Ralston Saul was right in that we are an ‘unconscious civilization.’Recommend this Post

Michael Harris On Why the Truth In the Duffy Case Must Be Flushed Out

Montreal Simon - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 06:19


Yesterday I wrote that the RCMP owed Canadians an explanation about  the way it handled the Duffy case.

Because it has raised some disturbing questions about the relationship between the police and the Harper regime, that strike at the heart of our democracy.

And now Michael Harris has a lot more questions for everyone involved.
Read more »

There Was A Reason For the Judge's Scorn

Northern Reflections - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 05:26

In the wake of the Duffy verdict, Michael Harris writes, we should know what was going on in the minds of the RCMP and the prosecutors. He lists a number of questions. For example:

  • Did the Commissioner of the RCMP or his staff have any communications from the PMO regarding the Duffy case, and if so, will he make them public?
  • Did the Commissioner of the RCMP or his staff communicate with the Minister of Public Safety or his staff about the Duffy case? If so, did he offer or receive any advice and will he release those communications?
  • Will the Commissioner of the RCMP fully describe his role in the Duffy case, including exactly how and by whom investigators were assigned to this case?
  • What are the names of the lawyers who worked on the Duffy file?
  • Who assigned the prosecutors to this case?
  • Did these lawyers meet with RCMP investigators before the 31 criminal charges against Senator Duffy were laid?
  • Did lawyers express any disagreement with the decision to lay those charges or were the Mounties an prosecution lawyers always on the same page?
  • Did prosecution lawyers offer any advice to the lead RCMP investigator on this case? If so, what was it?

Normally, you'd expect the opposition to raise these questions. But the opposition is what's left of Harper and Co. And they have learned nothing:

Every once in a while, a defeated political party reminds everyone of why it was thrown out, and more importantly, how unfit it remains for office. Rona Ambrose showed once more that she is a not a leader but a dead-end partisan just as uninterested in the truth as her former boss.

In the wake of last week’s court verdict, instead of acknowledging that things had gone horribly wrong in the political persecution of Mike Duffy, Ambrose and almost all of her caucus had nothing to say about the disgraceful conduct of Harper and his PMO. Worse, they had nothing to say for themselves – not even that this kind of political scape-goating and abuse of power was dead wrong and would never happen again under Conservative auspices.
Justice Vaillancourt understood exactly who he was dealing with and that's why his final conclusions were so scathing.

Image: ctvnews.ca

Rona Ambrose and the Kids in the Short Pants

Montreal Simon - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 03:23


As I've mentioned before, it's one of the enduring mysteries of the post Harper era.

Why does Rona Ambrose keep insisting she's the leader of the New/Nouveau Conservative Party?

When the talking points and the propaganda that pours out of Con headquarters seem so horribly familiar...



So I'm glad to see that even some in our Con media are asking the same question I ask myself.
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Duffy should please just shut up for a while

Cathie from Canada - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 16:42
I think Canada has had quite enough of Mike Duffy.
I know I certainly have.
Apparently we aren't supposed to hold this grown man responsible for understanding such complex rules as:
1.  If its not Senate business, don't ask for reimbursement; and,
2.  If you live in Ottawa, don't ask for reimbursement.
Most other Senators had no difficulty acting ethically and with the rules. But poor Duffy just found it too hard.
After the greediness and ineptitude and poor judgment displayed throughout his trial, Duffy now is adding insult to injury by asking for retroactive pay for the two years he was suspended from the Senate.  And I think it is quite likely he will get it.  So he will pocket years and years of the income taxes I worked to pay.
So no, I'd just rather not hear any more from him for a while.

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 10:18
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Branko Milanovic discusses how our current means of measuring inequality may leave out the most important part of the story in the form of wealth deliberately hidden from public view:
(T)here are at least two problems. First, the rich especially, but everybody else as well, have a clear interest in minimizing their incomes to reduce taxes they pay. Second, the rich engage, as we have seen in the Panama Papers, in massive schemes to hide their assets and income. Thus, despite our best efforts to uncover the full extent of top incomes we are only at the beginning of a long road.

So it is perhaps the right time to think how fiscal data should be improved, how fiscal and household survey should be made more compatible, and most ambitiously, whether better administrative data (like the world register of wealth proposed by Piketty and Zucman) should be created, both to tax wealth and to combat fiscal evasion. We are already moving to the next stage of methodological development where the concern with incomes of the rich, partly because they have become so much richer than the others, partly because they wield huge political power, and partly because they are hiding their assets, may take center stage. - Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood notes that even free-trade cheerleaders such as the C.D. Howe Institute can't spin the Trans-Pacific Partnership in a light that would result in any meaningful economic benefits to offset democratic losses.

- Liam Richards reports on the Conference Board of Canada's finding that Saskatchewan is the worst jurisdiction in the developed world when it comes to environmental policy.

- Evgeny Morozov examines how major tech firms are well on their way to taking monopoly control over the data underlying most of private lives. [Update: See also Ian Welsh on the effects of the latest and most pervasive technological changes.]

- Finally, Alison reviews what a week of "real change" looks like for the Trudeau Libs, while Aaron Wherry notes that omnibus budget bills are just one more carryover from the Harper Cons. And John Manley's shilling for the sale of arms to human rights violators offers a reminder of the Libs' general priorities.

Congratulations, John, But Don't Spend It All in One Place

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 10:10



Stephen Harper's most loyal journalistic lickspittle, John Ibbitson, just pocketed the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen prize for political writing for his biography, "Stephen Harper."

The award was announced just days before Justice Charles Vaillancourt exposed Harper and his inner circle as nothing more than a pack of craven thugs.

So, what's in Ibbitson's book? I'm not even sure I'll go for it when it hits the dollar table next week but maybe I - for that matter, perhaps everyone - should just settle for Bob Rae's review of the book from last August.

After all this is the Globe & Mail's Ibbitson, the one who floated the fanciful notion of a permanent "Harper Revolution" that could never be undone. Of course when Ibbitson wrote that bit of fiction he probably couldn't foresee how Harper's legacy would be dismantled by the Supreme Court of Canada striking down the unconstitutional bits, by Justin Trudeau's reforms starting to even Canada's political key, and by Justice Charles Vaillancourt's indictment that reduced Harper's legacy to ashes.

If you want to get a copy of Ibbitson's Harper best not delay. They'll probably start pulping them sometime next week.

Words, Words, Words

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 06:21
Talk, as they say, is indeed cheap.



During his New York trip, the prime minister touted an all-of-the-above approach where additional oil production can coexist with cleaner technology, and more wealth gets spent on energy innovation.Not so sure that passes the smell test.Recommend this Post

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