Politics and its Discontents

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Reflections, Observations, and Analyses Pertaining to the Canadian Political Scene
Mis à jour : il y a 15 min 7 sec

Harper's Jihad Part 3

il y a 1 heure 53 min

Dear Leader's jihad against Muslims continues apace. As you probably know, his regime is going to court today to request an "emergency" stay of Omar Khadr's release on bail, their arguments appearing increasingly desperate. Previous claims that his release would do irreparable harm to Canada's relationship with the U.S. have proven to be unfounded. That he poses a threat to public safety is refuted by the fact that he has proven to be a model prisoner.

Even as conservative and pro-government an organ as The Globe and Mail is saying enough is enough.

What is a government desperate to use Khadr as a political pinata to do? How to appeal to the prejudices and hatreds of a rabid base?

The latest claim, made yesterday and in all likelihood as fatuous as the others, is this:
"A lack of clarity in the international transfer process may jeopardize the system as a whole," the government states in documents obtained by The Canadian Press.

"(Khadr's) release unsettles the foundation of this system by introducing uncertainty and a lack of control over the manner in which Canadian offenders' sentences are enforced."In response, Khadr's lawyers said the government's case for a stay was weak.

For one thing, they say, the government acknowledges Khadr's case is unique and will have little or no effect on other prison transfers.

"The onus is on the (Crown) to establish that irreparable harm will actually occur if a stay is not granted," they state in their reply brief.

"Reliance upon harm that is speculative or merely 'likely' is insufficient."And so the drama continues.

Meanwhile, the Kafkaesque persecution of Hamilton lawyer Hussein Hamdani, about which I wrote last week, continues. In an interview yesterday on CHCH News, Hamdani yielded an interesting perspective, one that seems entirely plausible given the remorselessly vindictive nature of the Harper regime.
“This is politically motivated in my estimation, so it’s not really a review. This is just something that’s been said to remove someone, who’s been critical of a recent piece of legislation, bill c-51,” Says Hamdani.

Which may be true. The allegations contained in the TVA news report are not new, they’ve been investigated before by CSIS, and the RCMP. “Which is interesting because I’ve been renewed, and renewed and renewed and every renewal there is further security checks that are done by CSIS, by the RCMP and I’m vetted again. And every time I’ve passed, you know, right from the beginning.”

And, if you read the next paragraph, fresh insight into the regime's motivation is offered:
As recently as February however, Hamdani was the pride of the Harper government at President Obama’s summit on countering violent extremism. Hamdani says his ouster could also have something to do with his recent appearance at a fundraiser for Justin Trudeau. “I think what’s happening is that this government says, why are we having somebody who is obviously a Liberal supporter on our round table? We don’t like him. We’re gonna get a better ‘yes man’!”None of this, of course, will come as a surprise to those of us aware of the deeply vile nature of our current government. The difficult task before all of us is making a wide swath of Canadians aware of the terrible manipulations they are being subjected to, all in the service of retaining power.

A better reason to get rid of these renegades in October I cannot think of.
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A Little Bathroom Humour

lun, 05/04/2015 - 16:50
I know it's probably a tad juvenile, but this kind of stuff keeps me young at heart:

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A city councilman forgot to take his mic off when he took a bathroom break... and the whole council heard everything.

Posted by NowThis on Saturday, May 2, 2015
And these two comments are worth noting:

Franklyn Diaz: He didn't wash his hands

Wan Da Wise: Talking about the spread of disease and this guy didn't even wash his hands

H/t: Now This NewsRecommend this Post

Sunday Sermon

dim, 05/03/2015 - 11:21
As a special service for those of you who missed attending your house of worship today, I offer the following two orators for your discernment. You will notice a common theme as they discuss the impending wrath of their very strange, intolerant deity:

You will have to click here to 'enjoy' a fiery rant by someone named Rick Wiles, who seems theologically tuned in to Pastor Pat's frequency.Recommend this Post

Harper's Jihad - Part Two

dim, 05/03/2015 - 05:43

As I have written elsewhere on this blog, I am convinced that humans (along with other primates) have an innate sense of fairness, one that is regularly violated in so many ways by the Harper regime. Yesterday I wrote a post about the bald and unsavoury political motivations behind Dear Leader's crusade against Muslims both domestic and foreign. One egregious example is his ongoing war against Omar Khadr, the latest skirmish involving the government's efforts to prevent the former child soldier from being released on bail.

Happily, there is ample evidence from a host of Star letter writers that Canadians feel deep outrage at this persecution, and see through Harper's divisive and self-serving rhetoric. Here is just a small sampling of those letters:

Re: Free at last, almost, Editorial April 25
Re: Let the Khadr furor fade away with him, April 27

What is the matter with Mr. Harper? Why this persistence in hounding this young man, who as a child was prosecuted in the U.S. and served most of his time. We Canadians believe in being fair and we try not to demand that last pound of flesh. Not so Mr. Harper it seems. He wants his pound of flesh.

Omar Khadr deserves a chance to prove he has moved on from his teenage years and their influences and can be a valuable member of society. Mr. Harper needs to check his big bully ways at the courtroom door.

Joan Joseph, Cambridge

The behaviour of the Harper government in relation to Omar Khadr continues to be mean and vicious, all apparently based in politics. It is calculated to appeal to the Harper base in the so-called tough defense of national security and be useful in the coming election.

I think, however, that this may in fact work against the government. Surely the general Canadian public is not that ugly.

Derek Chadwick, Toronto

Please let Omar Khadr go. Let him go. Enough already. Hasn’t this poor man suffered enough?

The Harper regime’s decision to appeal the granting of bail is frankly despicable. Once again, thank goodness for the Charter of Rights. I’m sure Stephen Harper wishes he could abolish it, but it’s fortunately too well entrenched for even a seasoned political opportunist like him to destroy.

Nothing says more about the mean-spirited, reptilian rule of Supreme Leader Harper than the tragic saga of Omar Khadr. Yes, his ordeal began under a Liberal government, but nobody has exploited his story as eagerly and effectively as Harper, simply to further his anti-Muslim agenda and his bogus war on so-called “terrorism.”

As Thomas Walkom mentions in a recent column, Khadr is nothing more than a political football to be tossed around in the upcoming election campaign. This is disgusting beyond words.

Khadr has been the victim of a mockery and travesty of justice unseen in recent times. The injustice he has been subjected to is a stain on the Canadian body politic. All Canadians should be ashamed of his inhumane treatment.

How dare Canada lecture anyone on human rights after what we’ve put this guy through?

I say go, Omar, go – enjoy your freedom. You’ve more than earned it.

Andrew van Velzen, Toronto

Why do Stephen Harper and the Conservatives hate Omar Khadr?

Omar Khadr was a child soldier, captured by the Americans in 2002 at the age of 15. They chose to ignore his child soldier status and to prosecute him under laws that were enacted years after he was captured and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. All other G8 countries demanded the release of their nationals from Guantanamo Bay, except Canada.

Omar Khadr’s father was an operative for Al Qaeda and a personal friend of Osama Bin Laden. His son had no choice about becoming an Al Qaeda soldier. He has spent the past 13 years in detention at Guantanamo Bay and in prison in Canada, where he has been denied access to anyone who would speak for him in the press.

Stephen Harper and the Conservative government have made it clear that they intend to continue persecuting this young man as long as they can use him as a scapegoat to whip up fear and hatred (against “terrorists” and Muslims) – whatever might help them to get re-elected.

Surely, Harper and the Conservative government are guilty of conspiracy to persecute a child soldier and should be charged under the Geneva Convention. At the very least they are guilty of promoting hatred against this young man.

Bill Aird, North YorkRecommend this Post

Harper's Jihad

sam, 05/02/2015 - 06:27

The closer we come to an election, the more strident and McCarthyesque the Harper regime is becoming over 'radical Islam.' There is, of course, the political opportunism of Bill C-51, a piece of legislation designed not only to keep us in a constant state of suspicion but also to quash dissent against the overlords under whom we currently chafe. But now, new opportunities beckon to remind us that only the vigilance of Dear Leader and his apparatus can keep us safe.

First there is ongoing effort to appeal the bail release of Omar Khadr, about which I posted recently. That effort, partly fought under the pretext that his release would hurt relations with the U.S., has just been debunked, as reported in this morning's Star. And the regime's other claim, that his release could pose a threat to Canadians, is obviously without merit, given Khadr's record as a model prisoner.

Then there was the inexcusable initial refusal to issue a new Canadian passport to Mohamed Fahmy, the Canadian journalist long held in Egypt, a decision that was only recently reversed. His sin seems to be his Muslim roots. Presumably the Harper regime reversed its opposition only because the egregiously unfair nature of their refusal became obvious to far too many voters.

The latest victim of this shameless politicking/witch hunt appears to be Hamilton lawyer Hussein Hamdani, who has been suspended by the regime from his longtime position as a member of the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on National Security. You can access a video report of the story here, but essentially the pretext for his dismissal is information about his activities over 20 years ago while a student, activities that were, in fact, well-known to the Harper regime; in non-election years, the information apparently caused them no concern:
A news report by French-language network TVA of Quebec published Wednesday raised questions about written statements made by Hamdani nearly 20 years ago. The news report also made allegations suggesting Hamdani has been involved in the past with organizations that have provided funding, directly or indirectly, to groups associated with terror.

Jeremy Laurin, press secretary for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said in a statement the allegations against Hamdani are "very concerning."

"While questions surrounding this individual's links to radical ideology have circulated for some time, it was hoped that he could be a positive influence to promote Canadian values in the Muslim community," Laurin stated. "It is now becoming clear this may not have been the case."As CHCH News reports,
None of the information is new. The government has been aware of the allegations for several years, and has either considered it insignificant, or chosen to allow Hamdani to continue his work on the security committee regardless.The lawyer in fact had previously won praise for his efforts in combating radicalization. Says Order of Canada member Gary Warner:
“I have known Hussein for many years and have not heard or seen anything in the reports that would justify his exclusion from the national security roundtable. On the contrary I see him as someone who has worked to deflect youth from contagion by extremists.”Indeed, as recently as this past February, The Globe and Mail highlighted his work:

Hamani is speaking out in his own defense, declaring his patriotism and love for Canada, statements neither he nor any other citizen should have to make. At the end of the raw footage, you will hear the conclusions he draws as to why this is happening, an explanation wholly consistent with the pattern established long ago by this hateful regime:

Nonetheless, extensive damage to his reputation has been done. I guess he is just collateral damage in the relentless, never-ending re-election campaign of a government that cares not a whit for anything other than the preservation of its own power.
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The Latest In Fashion

ven, 05/01/2015 - 11:04
I dunno, there is just something about this shirt....
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Can Stephen Harper Buy Your Conscience?

ven, 05/01/2015 - 09:41
Stephen Harper offers so much to so few - tax cuts, increased Tax-Free Savings Accounts, income-splitting, to name but a few of his 'gifts.' His disingenuous rhetoric notwithstanding, however, Harper is really offering all kinds of bribes inducements for you to think only of yourself, and to ignore the niggling voice within telling you that all is not well.

This video offers a sharp reminder of the larger reality within which so many people must live. You probably know some of them.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));Canadians Working Longer for Less Pay

How many times in the last year have you wondered... "What if it happens to me? What if I lose my job?" Who could blame you? More and more Canadians are barely hanging on.

Posted by CBC News: The National on Wednesday, April 29, 2015Recommend this Post

The Harper Reign Of Terror Continues

jeu, 04/30/2015 - 17:38

The Harper reign of terror, a.k.a, the CRA witch hunts, continues apace, the latest victim the Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

Describing it as part of an "intimidation campaign",
John Bennett, the foundation's national program director ... has been asked to produce a list of all the politicians he met in 2012 and 2013, among other documentation."Clearly, the governing party is targeting groups it sees as its political enemies and is using the taxpayer's money and a government enforcement agency to do it," Bennett said in a recent fundraising letter.

"It is an intimidation campaign designed to harass and distract organizations from doing the charitable work their donors want them to do … it is an abuse of power."

The foundation reported revenues of about $700,000 in its 2013 filing with Canada Revenue Agency. Bennett is the only full-time employee in the Ottawa office, with two part-time staff and a summer student.National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay continues to insult the intelligence of Canadians; she consistently holds to the fiction that there is no political bias in the groups chosen for audits,
saying CRA officials make their own independent decisions without political input.One of course is entitled to question this assertion, given that an audit was conducted on the Sierra Club in 2011, which it passed.

And then, there is this:
As of March 31, the Canada Revenue Agency had completed 21 political-activity audits, with 28 still under way and 11 still to begin. So far, five charities have received notices of the agency's intention to revoke their charitable status.None of those audits, by the way, were of groups supportive of the Harper regime's neoliberal agenda. Infer what you will from that.
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A Warning For Our American Cousins

jeu, 04/30/2015 - 11:09
I had a busy morning and so was unable to put up anything on the blog earlier, but thankfully, the pace of the day has slowed sufficiently for me to post this warning from Pastor Pat about what happens to a country when it loses "pure, undefiled religion."

I pray that it is not too late for the the land of the free and home of the brave:

Click here if you would like to read about other augeries portending doom.Recommend this Post

It Grows Slowly, This Revenue Loss

mer, 04/29/2015 - 06:27
...but it grows unavoidably and becomes very large over time.

So says the author of a study on the effects of TFSAs (tax-free savings accounts), Rhys Kessselman, a School of Public Policy professor at Simon Fraser University. As the money accruing in those accounts grows, the revenues losses to both federal and provincial coffers grow commensurately over time. You will find other facts of interest here as well:

Recommend this Post

"Is There A Poltician In Canada Who Will Simply Speak The Truth?"

mar, 04/28/2015 - 05:30

That is the question Don Graves asks in his hard-hitting lead letter printed in this morning's Star. Enjoy.
I look out my window and see sunshine and vibrant signs of approaching spring. There’s even a Toronto sports franchise winning games.

But when I turn to the news media I read or hear about a glass half empty, half full, a glass smashed, a glass we can no longer afford because we are in so much provincial/federal debt and not to forget the growing number of Canadians who can no longer afford to buy a glass, full, half empty – or even chipped.

The Star last week carried these stories: A doctor who can’t get details about a drug for his pregnant patient; Ontario hospitals woefully unprepared to deal with a growing aging population; a federal government buying votes with our money and then telling us how lucky we are; and a fire sale of Ontario Hydro created by a consultant with no public service record and, gasp, a one cent increase on a bottle of beer.

This litany merely piles on the abuse mountain of veterans’ rights, a federal government that cannot deliver fresh water to our native Canadian population, a festering core of Ontario workers ready to strike and a quickly growing underbelly of people who simply cannot balance their books and play Russian roulette with rent, food, debt, education loan arrears.

And a pox on all the parties: opposition parties who offer nothing better than scare tactics instead of reasoned alternatives. Governing parties whose only true focus is maintaining a majority with a four-year formula of cut+cut+cut+buy votes. Repeat as long as you can con the voter.

Seems like I’m convincing myself that we have no glass but a mirage of political cracked mirrors. All of which has created one senior voter who wonders why it’s worth bothering to read about it or vote. The Star and other media don’t make the news. You do a good job of exposing the reality that our Emperors really don’t have any clothes.

Which leads to a simple question: somewhere, anywhere, at any level is there a politician in Canada who will simply speak the truth?

Don Graves, Burlington
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Sidelining The Youth Vote

lun, 04/27/2015 - 05:39

The potential of the youth vote, about which I have written several times on this blog, is, without question, great. The fact that only a low number of young people turn out to vote should be a source of grave concern for all those who desire real change in Canada.

Sadly, those low numbers are a cause for celebration among our main political parties, their occasional rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.

The math is simple. If a group does not vote, their concerns can be ignored. And the more their concerns are ignored, the less appealing the act of voting becomes to them. Case closed. Cue the status quo.

Consider the latest budget, as examined in a Globe and Mail editorial:
Much has been made of the fact that the new federal budget is craftily geared by the Harper government to appeal to specific segments of the voting population. Seniors are getting all kinds of goodies, some designed specifically for their age group and others that are available to all, but which will (nudge nudge wink wink) benefit them the most. Two-income couples with children under 18 are big winners, too, as are small-business owners.

Left off the gravy train are young people. Why? Because they are way less likely to cast a vote than older people are, and they don’t make up as large a share of the population as they used to. By being disengaged, they have now become conveniently ignorable, not just by the government but by the opposition parties, too.Such is not good for the health of a democracy.
A 2013 Parliament of Canada study concluded that more young voters than ever are dropping out of electoral participation at all levels of government. Worse still, their apathy is permanent. They don’t start voting as they get older, which is one of the key reasons the average participation rate in Canada is dropping. A country where, a generation ago, more than 75 per cent of the population routinely voted in major elections is now lucky to have a 61 per cent turnout.In this situation, those who do vote are courted by the parties, with resulting lopsided budgets like this last one that pander to select groups rather than promote a vision for the country. Of course, it is subsequent generations who will bear the brunt of ever-diminishing national programs, health care money, government pensions, etc.

It would be easy and preferable if we could simply blame the Harper regime, which has raised to high art vote-targeting. But that would not be the whole truth:
In the 2011 federal election, all three major parties focused on the middle class and on families. They made few direct references to youth. When they did, it was more often about “youth crime” or “at-risk youth” than it was about youth unemployment or university tuition. The parties are doing the same in this election, all led by the Harper government’s pro-senior, pro-family budget.All are complicit in the erosion of our once healthy and dynamic democracy.
Is there a way to get young Canadians back in the game? Not in this election, unfortunately. The apathy of young voters has caused politicians to tune out. Politicians tuning them out has made young voters more apathetic. The vicious circle goes round and round. And we’re losing a generation of voters.Our current crop of 'leaders' have much to answer for.Recommend this Post

A Contemptible, Arrogant Martinet

dim, 04/26/2015 - 06:32
The other day I wrote a post about the resurrection of Bill C-377, the Harper backed private member's bill that would wage war against unions in Canada. Toward the end of the post I made reference to Senator Don Plett's arrogant dismissal of witness Paul Cavalluzzo during Senate hearings on the bill after the latter suggested Conservative senators are probably the last people who should be lecturing anyone about corruption and transparency.

Plett insulted the witness by telling him he considered “your time and my time to have been wasted with you here today not answering my questions.” saying that he had wasted everyone's time.

Press Progress offers this video of the exchange:

As you can see, the pompous and arrogant Plett sanctimoniously offers himself and the Senate as exemplars of fiscal rectitude and transparency. To this, Press Progress responds:
The Senate is transparent? The Senate isn't corrupt? Really, Senator Plett?

Last year, Conservative Senators reportedly tried to whitewash an audit of Mike Duffy's expenses, deleting paragraphs detailing Senator Duffy's attempt to dodge auditors and hide his expenses.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson is slated to release what is expected to be a damning report on Senate expenses. At least 40 current and former senators recently received letters from Ferguson asking them to account for questionable expense claims. Several senators are said to have expensed over $100,000 with one reportedly billing taxpayers to the tune of $250,000.

Senator Plett himself appears to be among the Senate's highest rollers -- a CBC investigation in 2014 found Plett had the second highest expenses in the Senate, billing taxpayers over $12,000 (mainly for first-class air travel) during one five-week period in 2012 while the Senate was debating suspending Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau.Arrogance in public servants is always profoundly distasteful. When it is practised by pompous and contemptible martinets like Plett, it is intolerable.

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Meanwhile, Back At Campaign Central

sam, 04/25/2015 - 06:18
Hate campaign, that is. True to form, the Harper regime wasted no time in denouncing the decision to release Omar Khadr on bail pending his appeal. And in addition to playing to their rabid base, they took the opportunity to excoriate both Trudeau and Mulcair with some verbal prestidigitation:

Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom offers a good analysis of the government's strategy:
Conservative Roxanne James, [seen in the above video] the government’s designated spokesperson, said Ottawa opposes Khadr’s release because he has been convicted of “heinous crimes.”

What she should have said is that, in the lead-up to this fall’s election, the Conservatives hope to use the Khadr affair as a political wedge issue.A polarizing figure since his arrest in Afghanistan, the former child soldier is viewed in rather absolutist terms by the Canadian public. There are those who believe he is an inveterate terrorist who deserves no mercy, while others see him as a victim of his parents' jihadist zeal and a political football very useful when governments want to vent their demagogic spleen and manipulate the masses.
He is, in short, a perfect political vehicle for a Conservative prime minister hoping to use crime and national security as defining elements in the election campaign.Khadr's political usefulness began with the Americans:
The Americans, meanwhile, were desperate to have their much-maligned military tribunal system score a judicial victory. Khadr seemed to fit the bill. The U.S. had already decided to ignore the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan. Instead, captives like Khadr would be labelled “unlawful combatants” and accorded none of the usual rights of soldiers at war.Not far behind, the Canadian government picked up the ball:
... by then, Harper had discovered Khadr’s political usefulness. The organizations that the Conservative base loves to hate — including human rights groups, liberal churches and lawyers — were all clamouring for Ottawa to bring Khadr home, where he could have a chance at parole.

So the prime minister resisted. The more the critics clamoured, the more strident his resistance became.

Last year, the Conservatives castigated Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for suggesting that Khadr be treated fairly.Clearly, in contrast to the take-no-prisoners approach the Conservatives usually employ in their politicking for the hearts of Canadians, they are making an exception for Omar Khadr.Recommend this Post

Turnabout Is Fair Play

sam, 04/25/2015 - 05:45
Thanks to Ed Tanas for bringing the following to my attention:

Taking its cue from the Conservative Party, the Liberals Party is attempting to turn the tables on reckless, unjustified and overtly partisan political ads masquerading simply as useful public information (meted out to the public at taxpayer expense, of course).

The Liberals said people are angry about what they view as wasteful government spending, and they wanted to remind Canadians how much the Tories have spent since 2006.

“After 10 years, Stephen Harper thinks he owns the government — he doesn’t. The people of Canada do,” Liberal party spokesman Olivier Duchesneau said.

The party would not disclose how much they are spending on the limited Stanley Cup playoff ad buy.
As usual, the government is showing its egregious contempt for the intelligence of the public:
The Conservative government defended the spending.

“Advertising is a key way for the government to inform Canadians about important issues such as tax credits and public health issues," said Stephanie Rea, spokeswoman for Treasury Board President Tony Clement.Let's hope the above whopper sets everyone's spider sense tingling. Recommend this Post

This Deserves To Be Watched Regularly Until October

ven, 04/24/2015 - 11:50
Journalist Michael Harris (Party of One) recently appeared on Steve Paikin's TVO show, The Agenda. People should watch this on a regular basis to be reminded regularly of Stephen Harper's anti-democratic and contemptuous ways.

brightcove.createExperiences();Recommend this Post

A Cudgel Resurrected

ven, 04/24/2015 - 05:57

To the red-meat crowd (a.k.a. the Harper base et alia), few things can seem more gratifying than an attack on unions. Viewed as the enemy of all that is good and holy (i.e., unfettered profits), unions, we are often told, have had their day and really shouldn't be disrupting our lives anymore. Anything that restrains them can only redound to the public good.

While critical thinkers can see this for the propaganda it is, critical thinkers are not the ones being courted by the Harper regime. And so, in search of yet another divisive and polarizing issue, Tim Harper writes that Bill C-377,
first introduced by British Columbia Conservative backbencher Russ Hiebertin December 2011, has been revived by a Senate committee and there was Hiebert this week, again staking his claim to some type of Conservative medal as the man who has most doggedly pursued his boss’s agenda.

Hiebert is still flogging what must be considered the most fundamentally flawed piece of legislation to come from this majority government, a punitive assault on labour unions which would tip the collective bargaining process in the country to the employer, violate privacy and freedom of association rights of union leaders and tie up unions up with unnecessary, trivial, insulting paper work.While Harper lapdog Hiebert extols the bill as one providing accountability and transparency,
Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff calls it “an unwarranted, unconstitutional, venal and indefensible bill that is inherently flawed and must be withdrawn.”Designed to hobble unions with paperwork and making it easier to decertify them, while simultaneously making union membership more difficult,
...it would force unions to publicize their budgets, their expenditures, how much they would be able to pay workers in the event of a strike and what type of money they would have to promote their cause in the case of a breakdown of a collective agreement.

Employers would not be compelled to disclose any of that.A particular incident is instructive of the obdurate mindset of the bill's backers:
Manitoba Conservative Don Plett showered praise on Hiebert for his hard work and announced it was time to make this bill law.

But when he clashed with Paul Cavalluzzo, a constitutional and labour lawyer with more than four decades of experience, the bombastic Plett insulted the witness by telling him he considered “your time and my time to have been wasted with you here today not answering my questions.”I suspect that what Plett really meant was that Cavalluzzo did not provide the answers that he wanted to hear.

Recommend this Post

Less Than Meets The Eye

jeu, 04/23/2015 - 07:40

So much for fiscal prudence. So long credibility.

Those words, written By Scott Clark and Peter DeVries, succinct summarize the illusions, misdirection and magical thinking that Joe Oliver's budget is based on.

As the authors point out, six 'rabbits' that Oliver pulled out of his hat on Tuesday conceal some disquieting truths:
First, the government changed the methodology the Finance Department uses to forecast oil prices. Oliver is now forecasting that oil prices will increase in the coming years, averaging $54 a barrel in 2015, $67 in 2016, $75 in 2017 and $78 a barrel in 2018 and 2019.According to projections by the World Bank, this is quite an optimistic forecast.
The second rabbit was the selling off of capital assets to cover one-time spending. In the budget, asset sales amounted to an incremental $1 billion in 2015-16, resulting from the sales of the government’s GM shares. These shares were sold at a steep loss solely to achieve a political commitment — a balanced budget in 2015-16The next feat of prestidigitation is found in the contingency fund:
In previous budgets, Finance included a contingency reserve of $3 billion per year. The contingency reserve is also there as a buffer in the event that economic results do not turn out as expected. The contingency reserve was cut to bone Tuesday — to just $1 billion in each of the next three years.Given the precarious financial outlook for the world, this cut can only be seen as foolish, reckless, and overtly political.
The fourth rabbit was an increase in the “lapse” — the amount of funds appropriated to departments and agencies by Parliament but not spent during the course of the year. The lapse for 2015-16 and the next two fiscal years has been increased... The consequences of such 'lapses' cannot be underestimated. Here is but one example:

The fifth rabbit was the government’s decision to continue to assume higher-than-required Employment insurance (EI) premium rates. This generated an additional $1.8 billion in 2015-16.And, as Thomas Walkom points out,
The finance minister managed to win his surplus this year largely by taking $3.4 billion from the employment insurance account...The final rabbit — certainly not the least controversial — is government’s forecast of $900 million in 2015-16 resulting from legislating “a modernized disability and sick leave management system” on public sector unions in the budget bill yet to be tabled.Since negotiations are ongoing, bargaining in bad faith is not too strong an accusation to level against the government which, in fact, may relish a battle with the unions going into the election, given public antipathy toward those who do well in unionized environments. Nevertheless, counting on almost $1 billion being extracted from public servants does appear to be a tad wishful.

All in all, once the surface of this budget is scratched, the alleged economic prowess of Stephen Harper is once again exposed for the myth that it is.Recommend this Post