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"There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent." Leo Tolstoy
Updated: 28 min 23 sec ago

For Harper, Fear Trumps Facts

12 hours 43 min ago


Back in 2008, Stephen Harper decided to cut public funding to the opposition parties. As the head of a newly elected minority government, it was a stunningly stupid move. When they threatened to revolt and form a coalition government, he prorogued Parliament and went around the country declaring that coalition governments were illegitimate and would lead to political Armageddon.

Now, with his economic leadership in tatters, he has proposed two pieces of legislation to "keep Canadians safe." Bill C-51 vows to protect  Canadians from the jihadists who Harper claims are at the gates. Yesterday, he proposed legislation to protect Canadians from the "heinous" criminals who are within.

Both pieces of legislation are unnecessary. The second bill, which Andrew Coyne has dubbed the "Throw Away The Key Act," was announced at a campaign stop and underscores the new Conservative campaign slogan -- "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid:"

According to the government, the measure is needed “to keep Canadian families and their communities safe” from “heinous” (that word again: has it ever been used except in front of “crimes” or “criminals”?) criminals, those “whose actions mean we cannot risk permitting them on the streets.” The suggestion is that Canada’s streets are menaced by a wave of elderly jailbirds, released on parole after a scant 25 years in the slammer.

This is — does it even need saying? — nonsense. Not every prisoner is paroled after 25 years: only those judged at low risk of re-offending. Those designated as “dangerous offenders” can already be kept locked up for life. Parole, further, does not mean prisoners are simply set loose in the community, or released unconditionally: rather they remain, as a backgrounder by the Parole Board of Canada explains, “subject to the conditions of parole and the supervision of a … parole officer.” For how long? “For the rest of their lives.”

What sort of risk do they represent? According to figures from Correctional Service Canada, of 658 “murder offenders” released on parole between January 1975 and March 1990, just five — an average of one every three years — were convicted of a second murder. None of the five had originally been convicted of what was then called capital murder, the equivalent of the Harper government’s “heinous” crimes.

To be re-elected, Mr. Harper has to convince Canadians  that they are at the mercy of the depraved. In his own mind -- like Richard Nixon before him -- he is surrounded by enemies. And all of them are depraved.

He is convinced that he sees the world as the majority of Canadians do. If that is true, the country is lost. Because in such a country, fear trumps facts.

History Is His Enemy

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 05:42

Stephen Harper has always made two claims: 1) that he knows how to manage Canada's economy; and 2) that the Liberals would lead Canada on the road to ruin. But former finance minister Ralph Goodale begs to differ. Lawrence Martin writes:

The Liberals, he declared, would turn Canada into another debt-drenched Greece. His government had achieved good results “by pursuing sound economic policies, reducing taxes, focused investment, balancing our budget, all of the things the Liberal Party opposes, all of the things the Liberal Party would reverse to give us the kind of result we have in Greece.”

The member from Saskatchewan went on. Under the Liberals, there were nine straight surpluses beginning in 1996. Under the Conservatives, a string of seven deficits. On the pertinent matter of national debt (as per any Greek comparisons), it went down significantly under the Liberals but has gone up by more than $160-billion under Mr. Harper. The Liberals posted not a single trade deficit while the Harper Conservatives have had one practically every year. The Conservatives have been more impressive on tax cuts, although the Liberals did bring in one of the largest in history. On employment, it’s no contest – the Liberals in a walk.
It's true that Harper was in office throughout the Great Recession. However, it seems clear that the Recession was the result of the policies Harper advocated -- just as the Greek situation resulted from policies which Harper urged upon that nation after the G20 summit in 2010.

The problem is that Harper -- like Henry Ford -- lacks historical perspective:

Studies show that economic growth has been on average more than 2 per cent higher under Liberal governments than under Conservative ones. On budget balancing, the Tory historical record is one to run from.

Much in the respective records has to do with timing, circumstance and the turn of fortune. Conservative prime minister R.B. Bennett, for example, served during the Great Depression. But even Pierre Trudeau, considered one of the weakest Liberal economic performers, posted GDP numbers more than twice as high as the Harper government.
And that's why Harper has spent so much money on propaganda. He believes it can erase history. And history is his enemy. 

Money Counts. People Don't.

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 06:15


The Harperites are always hell bent on going to war -- as long as someone else is willing to fight it. They are hoping to win the next election on the meme that they protect Canadians. But they don't do the protecting. Canada's veterans are tasked with that job. And Harper's treatment of veterans is appalling. Tasha Kheiriddin writes:

While terrorism is good business for the Tories, they continue to fail the people who fought it on the frontlines — Canada’s veterans.

Just last week, the case of former master corporal Paul Franklin, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, made news again for all the wrong reasons. Franklin’s defenders, including comedian Rick Mercer, tore Veterans Affairs Canada to shreds in early 2015 for demanding that the former soldier prove every year that his legs were still missing, to qualify for a government-funded wheelchair.

So Pierre Lemieux, parliamentary secretary to the Veterans Affairs minister, announced on February 27 a mindbogglingly insensitive change in policy: Franklin and similarly disabled vets will instead have to provide proof every three years that they are still disabled — that their missing limbs have not miraculously grown back. If they don’t, the federal government could, for example, repossess their wheelchairs — as it has done to Franklin twice in the past.
Governments take on the characteristics of their leaders. And so, the Harper government is Stephen Harper personified -- paranoid and devoid of people skills:

Also in the past week, the public learned that the Tories had shelved a survey of veterans’ satisfaction with government services. Last conducted in 2010, VAC’s “national client survey” found that while veterans of older conflicts were generally satisfied with the department’s performance, vets who served in more recent conflicts such as Afghanistan were not. Satisfaction levels among those modern-day veterans had dropped from 80 per cent in 2007 to 68 per cent in 2010.

The survey was scheduled to be repeated in 2012-13. That never happened. The government decided to skip it — an irresponsible decision for several reasons. When a study shows a marked decline in satisfaction, it’s a good idea to conduct a follow-up to find out if what you’re looking at is a blip or a trend. And the Conservatives have profoundly changed the way services are delivered to vets by closing offices and moving to a Service Canada and online access model; one would assume Ottawa would want to know how that’s working out.
But Mr. Harper doesn't want to know how things are working out. He only wants to know whether or not he'll win the upcoming election. Charles Dickens would recognize him immediately, just as he recognized an earlier character:

But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
For Stephen Harper and Ebeneezer Scrooge, money counts. People don't.

Caveat Emptor

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 06:01


We should approach the next election with caution. That's because the nature of electoral politics in Canada has changed. Michael Harris writes:

The old electoral politics of presentation, explanation and proof are mostly dead. Politicians no longer court you, they stalk you. They don’t campaign, they spy, cheat, chisel and connive their way into office.

There have always been rainmakers, fixers, and crooks hanging around politics like flies in a barnyard. But the new technologies, and the access to personal information they bring, have turned them into pure predators. American conservative strategist Vincent Harris is the latest incarnation of this phenomenon, though he has many predecessors like Frank Luntz and Karl Rove.

For public consumption, people like Vincent Harris say they advise the media teams of politicians. Their real task is to create public opinion and herd the masses by way of distortion. They push and pull voters as if they were an accordion.
The folks who run campaigns are essentially running cons and we are the marks. They consider most of us easy marks. Therefore, Harris recommends a few strategies to keep the con men at bay:

Your first line of defence against the election bandits is your telephone. Never, I repeat, never listen to a telephone recording, let alone act on one. A lot of people who did in the last federal election exercised their legs, not their franchise. Now that Harper’s strategically weakened new elections legislation makes life markedly easier for would-be cheaters, we are certain to see the sequel: Son of Robocalls. When you know it’s a recording, just hang up. Don’t let them use your telephone as a Trojan horse to enter your head.

Vote for somebody who actually appears and answers your questions, face-to-face, in a way that satisfies you. As for the one who shoves his literature in your face while asking if he can expect your support, all in 30 seconds, tell him to come back in a week and you’ll talk about it. If he doesn’t come back, line the bird-cage with his bumph.

Take pollsters with a grain of salt – and make that a five-pound bag when they are doing their surveys for an election that hasn’t been called. Remember that not all polls are created equal. There are real pollsters with proven methodologies and there are those who fly by night. There are professionals who aim to reveal public opinion, and partisans in pollsters’ clothing who use pretend polls to generate their own public opinion.
Technology has made it easier to con voters. But there is one rule that remains true:

Inform yourself. Look at what the people who want their power renewed have done with it so far, and at what those who seek power say they will do if they get it.
Thomas Jefferson was an advocate of public education because he believed that democracy couldn't function without it. The people running the show assume we wish to remain stupid.

Caveat emptor.


When Will They Get Their Act Together?

Sun, 03/01/2015 - 03:28


Ralph Surette has had Stephen Harper's number for a long time. He's a veteran journalist. And he knows a charlatan when he sees one. Bill C-51 is a superb example of how his government operates:

Not that the bill doesn't have some good points -- but that's Harper's genius. He starts with a vaguely decent argument, then takes it to extremes -- but only to that precise extreme that can be muffled by the repetition of talking points.

But the bill itself is only the half of it. The deeper, ignored part is that the Harper government can't be trusted with laws of any kind. The omnibus bills delivered on short notice and passed in a whiz to avoid debate, the error-ridden bills passed with flagrant arrogance, the crippling of parliamentary committees and the abuse of parliamentary process at every level, the attack on the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and ultimately the two-faced hypocrisy of running a "law and order" government that abuses the law whenever it suits its ideology -- none of this gets into the talk. Harper is a repeat offender whose previous record is never taken into account.
What really disturbs Surette is that the opposition parties seem incapable of blowing the whistle on the prime minister:

Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair has made himself into an effective prosecutor-style interrogator in the Commons, but 90 per cent of his performance doesn't get past the Ottawa bubble. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau muddles as we await further policy. Neither focuses the big picture. (The Green Party's Elizabeth May, on the other hand, does -- but hers is a small voice). Mulcair and Trudeau are both trapped in the business of scoring points on the 24-hour news cycle. That's Harper's rink, where he stickhandles around them handily. As long as the focus is on the here and now, yesterday's dirty tricks are forgotten.
Harper has given them lots to work with:

It has always baffled me, given the richness of the material, that the opposition leaders didn't do this: keep a crisp little mantra of the Harper record in their coat pocket and recite it every time they speak in order to keep the Harper agenda in view: the electoral fraud, the destruction of environmental and fishery laws, the crippling of the census (done to protect privacy, no less -- no sign of those concerns in the terror bill), the muzzling of scientists, the tax persecution of environmental groups and charities considered unfriendly to Harperism (even a bird-watching group in Ontario that called last summer for a pesticide to be banned had Revenue Canada sicced on them), the veterans, the hundreds of millions of tax dollars wasted to promote the party, the bung-ups in military procurement, the chopping up of the tax system for partisan reasons ...
When are they going to get their act together?

Saving Capitalism From Itself

Sat, 02/28/2015 - 06:20


The American economist  Richard Wolf maintains that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. Unchecked, it produces greater and greater inequality, until it collapses upon itself. Tom Walkom agrees:

Experts may tie themselves up in knots over the precise trajectory of inequality, depending in part on what is measured and when.But the general point is beyond dispute: On its own, the free market is providing increasingly less equal rewards.That inequality, in turn, hampers the very forces that favour the free market.
Thus, those who wish to preserve capitalism should protect capitalism from itself. Those protections include public pensions, public healthcare, unemployment insurance and public employment.
After the Second World War, business and labour reached a grand bargain, which included these four safety valves. But things changed:
Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government began the job of dismantling the so-called welfare state. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are finishing it.But the factors that really killed the old bargain were globalization and the changing nature of work.
The old welfare state was built for a world where much of the workforce laboured in big factories.Now, big factories are passé. The new normal is part-time work and alleged self-employment.
Rather than responding to changed circumstances, our politicians have been deer in the headlights. Walkom  has some suggestions about what they should do:
Build a national pharmacare program. This would continue the process, begun in the 1960s, of socializing the costs needed to keep workers healthy.
Reform the employment insurance system. The aim here should be to ensure that all who are involuntarily unemployed, including part-timers and the self-employed, have full access to EI.
Rebuild the entire collective bargaining system. Developed in the 1930s and ’40s, the current one was premised on a world of factory production. A new arrangement would have to take into account the dramatic new changes in work.
The Harper government has no such plans. But a new government -- if pushed -- might.

An Early Election?

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 06:06

Two days ago, rumours were circulating that we were in for an early election. So far, nothing has materialized. But, having mastered the art of fear and smear politics -- and having passed Bill C-51 -- Michael Harris writes that there are lots of reasons for Stephen Harper to call an early election:

It would let Harper campaign on terrorism, not his record. He has his emotional issue: “I am the strong man who will protect you from the beheaders.”

A defence brief recently obtained by the CBC under Access to Information implies Canada’s failure to procure the F-35s may be damaging our relationship with our international allies: “Canada often struggles to meet timelines to participate in international co-operative activities.” Read: Canada needs those F-35s so we can protect everyone by bombing the Middle East.

If Harper wins the election, Canada will get those planes, no matter what they cost, even though they may not be fully operational until 2019 due to a newly-discovered computer glitch with the plane’s main gun. Not a small problem, by the way — it could prevent the F-35 from firing during close air support operations. The Pentagon, which milks the American taxpayer like a prize cow, has denied there will be a delay.

Harper wouldn’t have to present a budget that he can’t balance.

He’d escape blowback from the Mike Duffy trial, where Nigel Wright might have to tell the truth under oath, instead of a carefully constructed version of the truth designed to protect the prime minister. Meanwhile, Patrick Brazeau’s preliminary inquiry is set to begin June 1. Mike Duffy’s trial will still be on at that point — bad timing for the PM.

The trial of Bruce Carson, a former senior aide to Harper, on charges related to a water purification company for First Nations starts September 8.

If Harper calls an early election, there will be confusion at the polls because of changes under the new Elections Act. Many voters will turn up without the proper ID — although you can bet Conservative voters will be well prepared. You now need two pieces of official ID, at least one with your street address. Yes, due to a hard-fought amendment, someone can vouch for your address if they know you — but you both have to swear an oath and that takes time, meaning long line-ups at the polls. Just what you need when you have to pick up the kids at daycare.
Harper has never been a man of principle. But he has always been a desperate opportunist. Is anyone taking bets?

A Cabal Of Fools

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 06:52

You may have missed it. But, recently, the Harper government pulled funding for the Palestinian organization, MIFTAH, which is headed by Hanan Ashrawi. Paul Adams provides some context:

For more than twenty years, Hanan Ashrawi, an ethnic Christian and a moderate, has been a prominent Palestinian leader. In 2006 she was elected to the Palestinian parliament as a member of the Third Way, an almost laughably small party which has tried to provide a democratic, centrist alternative to the corruption of Fateh and the violent Islamism of Hamas — the two dominant Palestinian political factions.

She founded a non-governmental organization called MIFTAH; its mandate is human rights but it has carved out a role primarily as a promoter of women in Palestinian life.

But Ashrawi ran afoul of John Baird:

On his farewell tour of the Middle East a few weeks ago, Baird said Palestinians were crossing a “red line” — a favourite expression in the region when laying down an ultimatum — by accusing Israel of war crimes before the International Criminal Court.

In a press release, Ashrawi fired back that the red line Baird was trying to draw was a form of impunity for Israel, and she called Baird an apologist (that word again) for those complicit in war crimes.

In a strange little episode, Canadian officials abruptly demanded a letter of thanks from Ashrawi for their $27,000 contribution to MIFTAH. When it was not forthcoming, they cancelled the grant.
Adams points out that MIFTAH  receives the bulk of its funding from the Republican Party in the United States. It's not a left wing love child. But when John Baird said something stupid -- as he has done frequently -- Ashrawi called him out.

Our present government is petty and mean spirited. That's because it's led by a cabal of fools.

They Own Him

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 05:32

It's been a relatively silent coup. The wealthy have successfully bought our political system. If you have doubts, consider two key pieces of Harperian policy -- income splitting and Tax Free Savings Accounts. Both policies amount to robbery of the federal purse. Rhys Kesselman writes:

Income-splitting has been extensively assessed and widely criticized for its revenue cost, its tilt toward higher-income families, and its failure to accomplish anything beneficial for the economy.

Soon the other shoe may drop: The Conservative Party of Canada’s second major tax promise from the last election was to double the contribution limits for Tax-Free Savings Accounts. 
The Conservatives market TFSA's as the salvation of the little man and they now propose to double contribution limits:

Yet doubling the TFSA limits would share the deficiencies of income-splitting as public policy — or even surpass them. It would drain revenues from both federal and provincial treasuries, with deceptively small initial sums adding up to costs far greater than those incurred through income-splitting. The long-run benefits would be far more sharply skewed toward the wealthy and high-earners. And doubling the TFSA limit would not benefit the economy in tangible ways.

Once the existing TFSA provision has fully matured in 40 to 50 years, it’s estimated to cost the federal treasury up to $15.5 billion annually — more than seven times the cost of income splitting. Provincial treasuries were insulated from the revenue impacts of income-splitting; they will not be so lucky with TFSAs, losing up to $9 billion per year when the scheme matures.The government’s vow that TFSAs will never be considered in federal income tests for tax and benefit provisions carries further revenue costs. By mid-century, TFSAs will raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement’s cost by $2.8 billion annually and reduce recovery tax from Old Age Security by $1.2 billion annually. These figures are the official estimates; the sums projected by an independent analyst run far higher.
Stephen Harper argues that the age for Old Age Security must be raised because we don't have the money to pay for it. But he doesn't tell you why the money won't be there.

The wealthy could not ask for a better servant. And they will see that he is properly compensated. They own him.

Look Somewhere Else

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 05:49


Stephen Harper talks tough. But when things get tough, Harper hides. Andrew Mitrovica writes:

The prime minister, simply put, is a nasty piece of work. His every act and statement is a product of a petty, parochial political calculus; the quaint notion of ‘nation-building’ isn’t part of his lexicon. And like any unrepentant bully, Harper prefers adversaries who can’t fight back — hence his venomous attack on Radio-Canada journalists.
When people fight back, he heads for cover:

You probably saw this iPolitics report — about how the PM quietly invoked parliamentary privilege to escape being grilled by lawyers representing the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Not exactly the stuff of profiles-in-courage, is it?The NCCM sued Harper and his freshly departed PR guy, Jason MacDonald, for libel after MacDonald appeared on Sun News Network to slime the NCCM by insisting it “has documented ties to a terrorist organization … Hamas.”

Anyway, the NCCM argues that MacDonald’s attack had his boss’s implicit, if not explicit, approval. Make no mistake, the explicit intent of that slur – based on laughable, discredited information culled from an obscure court case heard in the backwoods of the Lone Star state – was to malign all the loyal, hard-working Muslim-Canadians working at NCCM as Hamas sympathizers or worse. When Harper and company refused to retract and apologize, the NCCM sued the pair last May.

The overall effect, of course, is a blot on Harper’s carefully cultivated tough-guy image. A bad hombre wouldn’t hide behind his lawyer’s pinstriped pants. No sir. He would waive parliamentary privilege, agree to appear at discovery with his former spokesman — who, by the way, is still being represented by a government-hired lawyer — put his hand on a Bible and say: Fire away.
If you're looking for heated rhetoric about Muslims or Russians, Harper's your man. But, if you're looking for courage, look somewhere else.

A Non-Liberal State

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 05:44


Last week, Ralph Nader declared that Stephen Harper was unsafe at any speed. Michael Harris writes:

According to the former U.S. presidential candidate and long-time consumer advocate, this prime minister is a combination of Chevrolet’s doomed Corvair and Dick Cheney: A lemon and a warmonger — all rolled up into a consumer dud begging for a recall.

With police state powers about to be handed to Canada’s spy agency based on a factitious threat, Nader pointed out that the PM’s talents run to hyperbole, not to truth-telling or accuracy. (Time allocation has once more killed sensible debate on major legislation, this time it’s Bill C-51.)

“When Prime Minister Harper says jihadi terrorism is one of the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced, one is entitled to say ‘oh really?’. What about Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin? It is just a wild exaggeration,” Nader said.
Speed is what Harper is all about. There was little debate. He declared closure and sent the bill off to committee. That's dictatorship, not democracy. There are interesting parallels, writes Harris, between Stephen Harper and Viktor Orban, the man who has sabotaged Hungary's newly won democracy. Orban recently told The Guardian:

We are parting ways with Western European dogmas, making ourselves independent from them. We have to abandon liberal methods and principles of organizing a society. The new state that we are building is an illiberal state, a non-liberal state.”


There's Reason To Be Apathetic

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 03:21


Robin Sears writes that two recent incidents speak volumes about why Canadian voters are apathetic:

What is a first-time potential voter to make of the nonsense from Premier Kathleen Wynne that her number 2 employee is both her taxpayer-paid deputy chief of staff and her party’s campaign director? Is this on alternate days or partisan until noon but public employee after lunch?Such an absurd insult to common sense might be seen as a good reason not to vote.
And, of course, there is the case of Eve Adams:
Then there is the case of the weather vane MP and her gormless new political love. Imagine a hockey player whose agent is secretly negotiating to move her to a new team, swearing all the while no such plans were afoot. She plays against her “about-to-be” team until the night before the announcement of her switch, trash-talking them to the end! And what would we think of her new coach sappily smiling beside her and claiming he “had always respected her, was delighted . . . blah blah.” This would not pass a five-year-old’s ethics or credulity test.
The Harperites have made this kind of politics commonplace. They have left us a swamp that will have to be drained:
Yes, Stephen Harper skilfully employs religious prejudice, national security angst, angry regional tensions, and even our deference to authority to serve his partisan interests, daily. Yes, there will be a lot of cleaning up to do after the lost decade of Harperism: rebuilding trust in government, morale in the public service, and Canada’s standing in the world, among a much longer list of damage to be repaired.
But Sears asks an important question -- a question our party leaders refuse to answer:
But why would anyone competing for that cleanup role think that smearing themselves in the same political mud was a good idea? Why would a premier chosen in part for her pledge to clean up the stench that surrounded the sad closing months of the McGuinty premier’s office allow herself to squander her reputation for integrity so carelessly?
Voters want good government. Our leaders want victory. The gap between our leaders and we the people is the reason 40% of us stayed home in the last federal election.

So Let It Be Written. So Let It Be Done

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 07:14


Stephen Harper hasn't shown up to debate Bill C-51. He just announced it at a campaign rally. And he's letting Joe Oliver do the talking about the economy. Heading into a meeting of finance ministers last week, Oliver declared:

Our Government’s sound economic management and unwavering commitment to balance the budget this year — while creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians — has resulted in a resilient economic performance in a challenging global economy. 
But, given the facts, what Oliver has been saying is pure gibberish. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write:

This government has adopted an austerity-led growth strategy. We got the austerity — we just didn’t get the growth. Annual economic growth has fallen in every single year since 2010. Forecasters, including the Bank of Canada, are lowering their growth forecasts for 2015 to below 2 per cent, a far cry from the almost 2.5 per cent they were forecasting only a few months ago. The Canadian economy is in a deep freeze, and the only thing Oliver and Prime Minister Harper can think to do is more of what they’ve done: cut spending.

The drop in oil prices has forced economists to revise down their outlook for inflation. Nominal GDP — the broadest base for calculating government revenue — is now expected to be significantly lower than the earlier forecast. In the November 214 Fiscal Update, Oliver forecast nominal GDP growth at 3.7 per cent for 2015. Now, most private sector economists expect it to be around 2 per cent. This will result in much lower federal revenues going forward.Oliver says the government has an “unwavering commitment to balance the budget.” Trust us — absolutely no one in a position to know believes that Oliver can do it without some budgetary voodoo.
Apparently, Mr. Harper believes he is the New Pharaoh. Facts like these simply don't matter:

The unemployment rate is stuck between 6.5 and 7 per cent. The labour force participation rate is at its lowest level since 2002. In January, the increase in employment was due primarily to part-time and self-employment. Full-time employment actually fell. And we can expect things to get worse in the coming months, as we begin to see the direct impact of falling oil prices on employment.
Last year, the G20 agreed to boost spending on infrastructure "to raise global GDP by 2.1 per cent by 2018." But Oliver insists that balancing the budget comes first.

So let it be written. So let it be done.

The Supreme Narcissist

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 06:12

Stephen Harper hates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He says that Bill C-51 is all about fighting terrorism. But Michael Harris writes:

Here we have a piece of legislation that advances the prime minister’s favourite project: undermining the hated Charter of Rights that circumscribes his power and remains a monument to his most hated rival — Pierre Trudeau.

Which is why this PM despises the Supreme Court of Canada, why he continues to bombard it with unconstitutional legislation and provokes personal confrontation with judges. It’s the SCC and not the PM that’s charged with the momentous task of interpreting the Charter — and that’s what frosts his socks. If Harper can’t go through the Charter, he’ll tunnel under it until the underpinnings give way.

After this latest piece of “anti-terror” legislation passes, CSIS will join the Canada Revenue Agency as an organization not bound by the Charter. It will be restricted only by the vague words in the legislation that give the hush-hush boys extraordinary powers whenever the economic, social or political security of Canada is at stake.
Harper's objective is to make what he calls "Conservative values" unassailable. And institutions like the CBC -- or, at least, its French language service -- are obstructing that objective:

Perhaps that’s why he slandered CBC employees at Radio-Canada in the way he did. While campaigning in Quebec, he told a private radio station host that many people at Radio-Canada “hated” Conservative values. To what Conservative values was he referring? The ones held by Dean Del Mastro, Bruce Carson, Peter Penashue or Dimitri Soudas? The ones that gave us robocalls or the Senate expenses scandal? The ones that serve up omnibus bills and muzzle freedom of speech? Which ones?
The prime minister is the supreme narcissist:

Most people have forgotten how Harper took down all the portraits of previous prime ministers from his party’s lobby room — including paintings of Sir John A. MacDonald and John Diefenbaker. What did he replace them with? Green Party leader Elizabeth May gives us the answer:

“Photos of Stephen Harper in different costumes, in different settings, dressed as a fireman, in Hudson Bay looking for polar bears, meeting the Dalai Lama … even the portrait of the Queen had to have Stephen Harper behind her.”
Bill C- 51 is the legislative expression of that narcissism, writes Harris. It's now all Steve, all the time.