Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The politics have a look of desperation about them. As they see their electoral chances diminishing among the wider Canadian public with each new sordid revelation, it looks like the Harper crowd is doubling down with its base, a strategy that I questioned in my earlier post today.
Steven Blaney, who could only be considered a Public Safety Minister in a Canada that has grown decidedly Orwellian, has announced a plan that will erode public safety but perhaps fire up the base. CBC News reports the regime minion has announced the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act which would make life easier for many Canadian gun owners.
Currently, gun owners in Ontario, Quebec and P.E.I. have to apply to each province's chief firearms officer when they want to transport a restricted or prohibited weapon. Under the new rules, gun owners in all provinces would get permission to transport weapons as a condition of their licence.
But wait! There's more!
The government also plans to allow a grace period for gun owners with expired permits.
And even more ominously, this cryptic observation:
The new rules would also give the federal government more say in decisions previously made by each province's chief firearms officer.
Finally, you may recall this dandy little weapon that the RCMP banned earlier this year:
The national police force changed the Swiss Arm rifle from restricted to prohibited, the main reason being that the guns could be easily converted to be fully automatic. Automatic weapons, which shoot a spray of bullets with one trigger pull, are illegal in Canada.
In March, the government said it was troubled by the decision, and gave gun owners permission to keep the weapons, via a two-year amnesty.
Under the new plan, gun owners would also be allowed to use the weapons, in essence restoring them to their previous status.
Indeed, there is much to chew upon here for a segment of the Canadian population.
Last evening I wrote a brief post on how the Harper regime is exploiting the tragedy in Gaza for political gain.
Anon responded with the following:
It is worse than no shame. It is disgusting. Over 630 people have died, including 30 Israelis and over 600 Palestinians, mostly non combatants and civilians including children. And he uses it as an opportunity to fundraise? And Cons supporters are OK with it? No wonder they are called the Nasty Party by pundits (e,g, Hebert, Coyne).
That comment got me thinking about the much-vaunted Tory base, which, perhaps, is beginning to show some cracks.
I replied to Anon:
I wonder if, in ramping up the rhetoric about its unequivocal support for Israel, the Harper regime has fallen into an almost stereotypical notion of its supporters. Rarely, if ever, are such supporters homogeneous. Perhaps Dear Leader will find, especially with the terrible imagery emerging from Gaza, that he has overplayed his hand and that many of the true blue will simply stay at home in the next election rather than endorse such extremism.
And that base, which has also been witness to a host of broken promises revolving around integrity, accountability, and transparency, now has even more reason to question their loyalty to a leader and party that has betrayed them and the rest of Canada in their monomaniacal obsession with the retention of power at any cost.
Today's National Post reports the following:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not intend to testify in the trial of suspended senator Mike Duffy because he doesn’t have any useful information to offer, his office said Tuesday.
Harper's director of communications, Jason Macdonald, offered the following:
“We have responded fully and freely to every request for assistance from the RCMP”.
“The RCMP have noted this and, after a thorough investigation, have made it clear who they believe is guilty of wrongdoing: Mike Duffy. They have also made clear that they do not believe the Prime Minister had any knowledge of Mr. Duffy’s wrongdoing. Given this, it is difficult to imagine that the Prime Minister would have any information that could be relevant to Mr. Duffy’s defence.”
So there we have it - an arrogant Prime Minister now so drunk on his own power and ego that he has declared himself above the law.
I rest my case.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
There is no situation, however tragic, that Harper and his regime won't exploit for political advantage. I guess that comes as no surprise to anyone:
Be sure to check out the Conservative Party website for more evidence, as well as Alison's caricature at Creekside.
Be sure to check out the Conservative Party website for more evidence, as well as Alison's caricature at Creekside.
Yesterday I wrote a post on the war being conducted by Stephen Harper and his cadre against dissent in Canada. Specifically, the Prime Minister is diverting CRA resources and taxpayer monies to investigate those non-profits not on board with his agenda. Environmental groups have been especially hard hit.
Today comes word that the scope of Harper repression is expanding. As reported in The Toronto Star, the knock at the door has happened at PEN Canada.
The Canada Revenue Agency has launched a political-activities audit of PEN Canada, a small charity promoting freedom of expression that has criticized the Harper government in the past.
Two tax auditors showed up Monday morning at the tiny Toronto offices of PEN Canada, asking to see a wide range of internal documents.
If you visit their website, you will see the following principles advocated by PEN:
PEN Canada envisions a world where
writers are free to write,
readers are free to read,
and freedom of expression prevails
That the organization advocates for freedoms that are synonymous with healthy societies, of course, makes them the perfect target for Harper retribution, given Dear Leader's demonstrated disdain for such principles.
And a visit to the news section of PEN's website will make abundantly clear why the Harper cabal has sicced the CRA on them:
Privacy Could Vanish if Cyber-Bullying Act Became Law
Groups Seek Human Rights Protections in Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement
How Transparent are Canada’s ISPs?
Stephen Harper Must Address Online Surveillance in Canada, says PEN Canada
One can only hope that Pen International will take up the cause. Presumably it is beyond the reach of the cowardly intimidation tactics of our national government.
UPDATE: PEN and its supporters do not intend to go quietly 'into that good night.'
Actions speak so much louder than words, especially when it comes to Israel attacking Palestinians.
The current invasion of Gaza demonstrates that Israel’s claims to be targeting Hamas but not the Gaza Palestinian population is an outright lie. That much is blatant from the weapons used.
What weapons? Try water. When you’re targeting the civilian population of an already water-stressed locale the simplest way to turn the screws is to attack their water and sewage infrastructure. Once you deprive them of fresh water and compound that with a collapse of their sewage system, nature will take care of the rest. Every bloodthirsty bastard who laid siege to a medieval castle or town knew that.
Gaza is a lot like one of those medieval towns. Its land borders are sealed by Israel and Egypt. At sea, the Israeli navy maintains an effective blockade. With the exception of a few tunnels, if you’re in Gaza you’re not going anywhere. You might as well be trapped behind stone walls and a portcullis.
But what about the water? Years ago Israel constructed what are known as "trap wells" along the border with Gaza. These wells intercepted the natural flow of groundwater that Gazans relied upon. Worse yet, without that fresh water flow, sea water entered the Gazans groundwater supply leaving it heavily contaminated. As more sea water continues to enter the Gazan water resource it’s only a matter of time.
In the preliminary air strikes that preceded Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, Israeli air force jets bombed Gaza’s water and sewage plants. That has rendered about 90% of Gaza’s already dwindling water supply unfit for human consumption.
Israel understands the power of the water weapon and its punitive effect on civilian populations. During its ill-fated invasion of southern Lebanon to attack Hezbollah, Israeli jets took out the water and sewage pumping plants of Beiruit, far removed from Hezbollah territory. That wasn’t targeted at Hezbollah. It was targeted at the Lebanese civilian population in a city largely opposed to Hezbollah. Israel likewise attacked and destroyed three Lebanese hospitals and on its way out of the country instituted a 72-hour cluster bomb barrage of the south ensuring a massive supply of bomblets for cattle and farmers and kids to stumble across for years to come.
If there was ever any doubt that Trudeau the Lesser is all Margaret and no Pierre, the proof came through in the Liberals’ stomach-churning praise of Israel for its “commitment to peace.” I really don’t know how you Liberals live with yourselves and that party or the pandering opportunist who trades on what once was a great name.
In a place like Gaza, taking down the water and sewage plants is a form of biological warfare. It’s just a matter of time until cholera sets in. Yeah, Justin, that’s some commitment to peace all right.
MoS, the Disaffected Lib
Monday, July 21, 2014
Last week, Owen wrote a post he entitled Corrupting Civil Society, a reflection on the Harper war on non-profits that stand in opposition to any of his regime's agenda. I recommend reading it for a good overview of the situation.
In yesterday's Star, three letters articulated three excellent perspectives on this shameful war:
Tories intimidate charities into silence. Who's next? Opinion July 16
One way to deal with the Harperites’ bullying of charities might be for all charitable organizations to renounce their charitable status. Personally, I make most of my donations to non-charities. I figure they are doing the most-needed advocacy work. The deduction I get on my income tax for charitable donations is hardly enough to bother.
Of course, for multi-millionaire Stephen Harper supporters, this would be anathema. They like donating a chunk of money, getting a massive tax rebate from you and me, and having their names in lights on some university or hospital.
It’s time this type of selfish “philanthropy” is stopped. It costs taxpayers huge sums of money, while allowing the 1 per cent to dictate how that money is spent. Let’s end this distortion, and return to real charity. And let’s make the 1 per cent pay their fair share of taxes, while we’re at it.
Kate Chung, Toronto
The Harper government suddenly detects rampant subversion of the charitable tax exemption. Oddly, the concern appears to be less about the extravagant lifestyle of religious charlatans or about politicians siphoning tax free dollars into their campaign chests than about organizations whose good works are not aligned with the government’s agenda. This, according to the government, is illegal political activity.
Wake up Stephen Harper! All charity is 100 per cent political. Charity is voluntary action by citizens to correct the failings of our society. Charities support the needy and disabled at home, fight disease and starvation abroad and work to free political prisoners precisely because government policy is not to act on these urgent social problems.
It is time to acknowledge that charities provide an immeasurable service by patching the policy holes in our social safety net which the government so cheerfully cuts.
Paul Collier, Toronto
Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay trots out the old warhorse of “good stewardship over taxpayer dollars” to excuse the government’s latest crackdown on advocacy by charitable groups. “The CRA has a legal responsibility to ensure that charitable dollars, donated by charitable Canadians, are used for charitable purposes,” she says.
Whether we identify as “taxpayers” or “charitable Canadians” — and probably most of us are both — we can all figure out that it makes more economic sense to address the causes of poverty and injustice than to try to remedy the effects.
Susan Warden, Scarborough
As well, a Star editorial applauds the fact that the NDP is finally speaking up about this misuse of the CRA:
The New Democratic Party, worried that voluntary agencies are being silenced, sent a sharply-worded letter to Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay this past week. “This program has the appearance of blatantly abusing CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) resources to target those who do not agree with government and compromises the very integrity of CRA,” wrote NDP revenue critic Murray Rankin and environment critic Megan Leslie.
They called for an independent, external review to determine whether the government is using the muscle of the tax department to crack down on human rights advocates, environmentalists and anti-poverty activists.
While this demand is likely to be met with the Harper cabal's usual disdainful disregard of opposing views, it is at least heartening that with both the press and some politicians speaking up, more of the general public will learn of the profoundly anti-democratic and cowardly nature of their national government.
UPDATE: For a very comprehensive discussion of the problem, check out this post at Desmog Canada, which explores a new analysis by former journalist and graduate student Gareth Kirkby.