Friday, May 31, 2013

Stephen Harper - Then and Now

“I have looked at the numbers. Her travel costs are comparable to any parliamentarian travelling from that particular area of the country over that period of time”
- Stephen Harper, February 13, 2013, as part of his staunch defence of Senator Pam Wallin's extravagent expenses, now under investigation.

Wallin resigns from Tory caucus to sit as independent - May 17, 2013: A source tells The Canadian Press that Wallin was told by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that she could not stay in caucus.

Hmm, why did things change? Perhaps the answer can be found below:



For a less sensational take on the deepening scandal, Tim Harper in today's Star is well-worth the read.

A Reasonable Doubt?



You decide.

Guest Commentary On The Temporary Foreign Workers Program



We just returned from a visit to our son out West, where the use of temporary foreign workers appears to be ubiquitous. It seemed that every Tim Hortons, every Subway Sandwich, and many hospitality sites were employing temporary workers, many of whom were trainees (which suggests the high turnover rate in these low-paying positions.)

As I said to my son, since things are quite prosperous in Alberta, and restaurants are always well-patronized, even during the week, it would seem incumbent upon those enterprises to pay living wages rather than exploit the loopholes in the program, especially the one that permits wages 15% lower than that paid to Canadians. If that were done, the business claim that they can't find Canadians for the jobs would be exposed for the canard it truly is.

Last year I wrote a post on the subject; this morning Anonymous offered a comment on the program in response that is both succinct and insightful. I am taking the liberty of posting it below:

The temporary foreign worker program is simply a guise to acquire cheap labor at the expense of Canadian citizens.

Let's review the evidence shall we?

1. Bringing in cheap foreign labor erodes competitive labor markets that are needed in order to drive up Canadian worker's wages so that they might enjoy a decent standard of living.

2. Temporary foreign workers are in theory born from neoliberalism capitalist ideology that states and i quote " the only responsibility of businesses is to maximize profits"

3. Temporary foreign worker programs deprive Canadian youth of the transitory jobs that they need in order to transition into higher paying work. People who go months on end being unemployed are almost considered unemployable by business. This sets our youth up for future failure and a society that relies on government handouts for their survival.

4. Temporary foreign worker program deviates from free capitalist ideology and moves into socialistic capitalist theory and essentially props up businesses that should otherwise fail with cheap labor.

5. Temporary foreign workers are abused verbally, emotionally and sometimes put in harms way physically so that inefficient businesses can stay afloat.

6. Temporary foreign worker programs add to the growing socioeconomic inequality that is destroying western industrialized countries by crushing labor sectors.

We could go on and on all day long. Believe the propaganda of business or believe the academics? Who do you truly think has the average Canadian's best interests at heart?

Vote out the conservatives and elect the party that acts on the demands of Canadian citizens.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

But Can It Be Mixed With Kool-Aid?

Is it possible that at the start of their political careers, Stephen Harper and Rob Ford consulted with Cornelius Grouppe for campaign advice and recruitment methodology?

Citizenship on the Sidelines



Being on holiday has induced in me a certain mental torpor, so please forgive me if this post states the obvious. Those of us who write politically-oriented blogs are, of course, engaged intellectually and emotionally in the machinations of those we elect. And I suspect it is to our regular consternation and disappointment that more people do not recognize the vital role that the political realm plays in so many aspects of our lives, from the taxes we pay to the physical, social, and economic conditions in our cities, provinces, and the country as a whole. Failure to recognize those facts can lead us into some very dark situations.

While many many people have pointed out the flaws of our current first-past-the-post democracy, the larger problem, it has always seemed to me, is the failure of vast swaths of the population to even bother to vote. We all know, for example, that less than 40% of those who voted federally in 2011 had the power to elect a Harper majority. But perhaps a more current and even more telling illustration is the soap opera continuing to unfold in Toronto, one that had its genesis long before Rob Ford became its mayor, a result which has made Ontario's capital city the subject of international derision.

Was the election of Rob Ford a failure of our system? Obviously not. Those who voted for him had every right to choose as they did, as did the almost 50% who refused to vote. However, that latter choice, as the choice of almost 40% not to vote federally in 2011, means the we all have to endure the consequences of disengagement/citizen inertia.

These thoughts occurred to me upon reading a story in today's Star by Catherine Porter, in which she went to the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, described as the heart of Ford Nation. Porter went there soliciting comments about how the people feel about Ford, and the overwhelming majority 'stand by their man.' Unlike the right wing, which tends to be exceptionally intolerant of progressives, I say they have every right to feel as they do and to vote as they do.

But I guess you can see the problem I am getting at here. Diversity of view is great, but if one part of the electorate is active and engaged, even in policies and orientations with which we do not agree, and too many others just yawn, look the other way or go back to the latest in reality television, the larger society suffers. So please don't tell me there is no one to vote for or your vote doesn't count. That is only a self-fulfilling justification tantamount to an ignoble and deeply injurious abdication of the responsibilities of citizenship.

A Word From The West



We are still in Alberta, having just returned to Edmonton from a trip to Banff and Lake Louise conducted by our son. I suspect that even if we weren't here, I would have some sympathy for the West's reaction to the latest utterance from Justin Trudeau.

Although I generally don't like to use cliches, some would say that this is what happens when you send a boy to do a man's job. The alternative interpretation, of course, would be to say this is what happens when a party of no discernible principles elects as their leader the person whom polls suggest will lead them back to the promised land of politics.

Sadly, the good of the country does not appear to enter into the Liberal Party's calculations.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rick Salutin on Civic Embarassment



We are in Edmonton right now, and when people ask us where we are from, I mention our community as being about 70 kilometers from Toronto; I then hasten to add that we have nothing to do with Rob Ford, one whose escapades every westerner we meet seems to be well aware of. Never have I felt a greater urge to distance myself from Ontario's capital, with obvious good reason.

I therefore found especially interesting Rick Salutin's thoughts on civic embarrassment and its effects on the people. You can read it here.

Off to Banff tomorrow. I wonder if the Rockies will resound with derisive laughter as well.

A Democratic Expression of Our Discontent

Oh, this idea I like very much. And the tactic is easily adaptable in situations that could best be described as 'fluid':





H/t Sylvia Wilson Canadians Rallying To Unseat Stephen Harper

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Little Something For Your Friday Consideration

We are about to go out exploring downtown Edmonton, so just a little something for your viewing pleasure today. It might be useful to bear in mind the context within which this should be viewed, the decision by Mike Duffy in 2008 to show the false starts and stops of Stephane Dion, then the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, a decision that some say was a significant contributing factor in the Liberal electoral woes that ensued.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council found that CTV Atlantic violated the Radio Television News Directors Association Code of Ethics in a broadcast on October 9, 2008:

The CBSC has concluded that CTV violated Article 8 of the Code, regarding decency, consideration and conduct, for broadcasting the interview outtakes after it had said that it would not do so.

Hmm... decency, consideration, conduct - seems like the now disgraced Seantor Duffy learned nothing from the decision.



H/t Chrisine Reid, Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Tale of Two Reports

David Tkachuk

Carolyn Stewart Olsen

CTV's Robert Fife has been doing exemplary work on the sordid tale of corruption and coverups in Ottawa that has been emerging these past several days. As the true nature of our Prime Minister and his regime becomes increasingly apparent to more and more Canadians, the latest news is that the Senate’s internal economy committee chair David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen appear to have been the prime movers on the sanitization of the Deloitte report on disgraced Senator Mike Duffy's fraudulent expense claims.

You can see the original and the doctored reports here.

Robert fife's video report, and the accompanying story, can be accessed here.

Of course, quite predictably, David Tkachuk is claiming that this is all an innocent misunderstanding and, like his political master and dear leader, didn’t know about the cheque until [he] found out about it in the media”.

P.S. We are heading off to Edmonton tonight to visit our son, so I'm not sure how much blogging I will be doing for the next week or so.

The Internet As Lie Detector

Funny thing about the Internet, isn't it? Almost everything that is uttered or printed by public officials cannot, happily, be rewritten à la Orwell's Nineteen -Eighty-Four. But then again, the government depicted within the novel must have felt the need to guard against uprisings by the people and so relied on scapegoating, invective, close monitoring of citizens, etc. While these techniques are certainly used with regularity by the Harper regime, I suspect that our 'government' feels that its greatest defense against repercussions over its corruption and its debasement of democracy is the apparent monumental indifference of large swaths of the Canadian public.

It must be thus, otherwise how can we explain Harper's shameless and very obvious contempt for the truth? For example, last Wednesday on Power and Politics the regime was expressing its full confidence in Nigel Wright's payment of the $90,000 to the disgraced Senator Mike Duffy. Indeed that staunch defence continued until Wright's resignation on Sunday. :

And yet now, in what can only be viewed as a massive middle finger sent from Peru to the people of Canada, the odious Stephen Harper would have us believe that he acted immediately upon learning of the payoff, an "inappropriate deal' that, he says, elicited sorrow, anger and frustration when he learned about the payoff. Left unexplained was why Wright continued to enjoy his full confidence until Sunday, long after the payoff had been revealed:

And if you have the stomach for it, you could watch the video below in which Eve Adams, who has apparently replaced former Harper pet parrot Pierre Poilivre as public defender of all things Harper, launches into a sycophantic justification of 'dear leader.' Her nauseating performance begins at about the 7 minute mark:

So the evidence is there for all to see that our Prime Minister is also our prime prevaricator. As Oscar Goldman used to say on The Six Million Dollar Man, We have the technology. The real question is, do enough Canadians have the will to use it in the interests of beginning the process of restoring our country in 2015?

Remembrances Of Things Past (A.K.A. Harper's Empty Promises, A.K.A Lies)

I trust these pictorial efforts speak for themselves:


H/t Piper McKinnon - Canadians Rallying To Unseat Stephen Harper


H/t The Toronto Star

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Prime Minister's Character (Or Lack Thereof) - UPDATED

What does it say about a man who flees the country before he will answer even one question about perceived corruption in his regime? Is "I knew nothing' even remotely credible?

Probably about as believable as the most recent words of denial from the mouth of this reprobate:



P.S. Harper describes himself as "frustrated" about the scandal. Perhaps now he might begin to understand how millions of Canadians feel about him and his government.

UPDATE: Here are some embarrassing details that were included in the original Deloitte report about the disgraced Senator before it was altered on orders originating 'at the highest levels.'

At Issue Panel Opines On Harper and the Scandal

I have a bit of a busy morning, so I only have time for a couple of short posts. For reasons I have indicated elsewhere, I rarely watch CBC's The National anymore. However, given yesterday's shameful and feeble refusal by the Prime Minister and his trained seals to address the rot engulfing his administration, I decided to watch a special At Issue Panel last evening.

Below, you can watch Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hebert and Bruce Anderson evaluate Mr. Harper's efforts:



This Is What Happens To Canada When Our Politicians Betray Us

We become a nation to be sported with:



On a slightly more serious note, Heather Mallick offers her thoughts:

Rob Ford: Quandary incarnate. A desperate futile we’re-done-here. A Mt. Edith Cavell of disappointment. A mind so thick that it makes light rays go bendy. The people you pay to bury the bad news about you are at fracking level.

I’ll stop if you will, Mayor Ford. We had our brief encounter. Please do the decent thing and resign.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Harper's 'Accountability'

This raw video from this morning's efforts at damage control says all there needs to be said about Harper and accountability:



The Imperiled Canadian Soul



Although it has been many years since I read Bram Stoker's Dracula, I recall that it was a far more subtle and eerie depiction of vampiric activity than the generations of films that it spawned. The latter almost invariably portrayed Dracula as a charming yet unholy creature who pounced swiftly, gorily, and mercilessly upon his victims; the novel, on the other hand, depicted a creature that, while driven by an unslakable thirst, did not deprive Mina Harker of her life in one fell swoop, but slowly drained her of her life force, leaving everyone bewildered as to the cause of her demise. If anything, this Dracula, with his endgame in mind, had the patience and self-control necessary to see his goals through.

In many ways, Stoker's original creature serves as an apt metaphor for the unholy political practices that have been underway these past several years in Canada under Stephen Harper. For those with any sense of history, it is obvious that there has been a gradual yet systematic exsanguination of the values and programs that have been a proud part of our identity for many many years. While I have no intention of offering a comprehensive list of those depredations, as others have done a far better job in analyzing them than I ever could, a few will suffice to demonstrate how far we have fallen under this regime and, to be fair, under previous ones, who paved the way for our current unhealthy state:

The Erosion of Progressive Taxation: At one time, there existed the notion that as people's income rose, they paid proportionally more. Like the corruption that the vampire represents, the Harper regime has seduced Canadians into believing they deserve to keep more of their earning (pension splitting, TFSAs, reduction of GST, record low corporate taxes, etc.) without a thought given to the services they pay for, the social safety net that keeps people from truly hitting bottom, the egalitarian nature of our health care, etc.)

The Progressive Destruction of The Environment: The strident calls of this corporatist government would have us believe that muzzling scientists, closing research facilities, aggressively pursuing tarsands development are all but innocent cost-saving and revenue boosting initiatives that have little to no impact on the climate crisis currently engulfing the world.

A Degree of Government Secrecy Incompatible With a Democracy: Canada now ranks No. 55 among 93 nations when it comes to the law that allows journalists and others to get access to federal government documents. As reported in The Star, this ranking by the Centre for Law and Democracy puts us just ahead of Angola and Thailand, but one place behind Slovakia. This is a huge drop from 31 years ago when Canada’s initial legislation on access to information (ATI) was hailed as world-leading.

When a government regulars denies its citizens and parliamentarians access to the information that allows for informed discourse and thoughtful decisions, the illusion of a free and open society wears very thin very quickly. The ongoing very secret negotiations around the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) trade deals are probably one of the most worrying indicators of further Harper destruction, as many claim it will give the same power that NAFTA does to investors to sue governments if their polices (e.g. environmental) hamper their profit-making ability as well as limit governments' ability to use local suppliers and businesses in contracts.

In many ways, the current Senate expense scandal is but a sensational diversion from the much larger picture of corrupt abuse of power endemic in our current political apparatus. While disgraced Senator Duffy has become a donkey upon whom it is fun to pin the tail, there is a much larger tale to be told and taught to the people of Canada. Yet perhaps there is a lesson to be learned in the almost universal condemnation that Duffy's dishonesty has provoked. Most see his fraudulent expense claims as a grievous insult to all who work hard, many eking out meager existences, and dutifully paying their taxes. In other words, his abuses are something we can all relate to.

Perhaps, like the librarians in Troy Michigan who mounted such an effective campaign to stop the erosion of library services, all who are able, both within and outside of the blogosphere, need to find new, compelling and relatable ways to present the story of our deterioration as a nation in order to galvanize the electorate. Given our collective knowledge and creativity, this should be a task many are well-suited for.

Because let's face it - without widespread citizen engagement and resistance, the Dracula within our midst will only continue to drain our nation's lifeblood.





Monday, May 20, 2013

The Duffy "Perp Walk"



To watch the disgraced senator performing this new walk craze, please click here.

A Glimpse Into How A Former Journalist Became A Political Prostitute



...as the years went by, I saw Duffy transformed from what he was then to what he is now. Like so many celebrities, he started to believe his own baloney. His shows on Baton Broadcasting and CTV were more about him than politics. He tumbled into the ego trap.

He also developed an affection for the Conservative party, beyond the distaste most journalists felt for the overbearing Liberals. Today’s Tories cherish the role of victims, pretending the media comprise a unified phalanx ranged against them. They ignore the role reporters played in the sponsorship scandal and downfall of the entitled Liberals.

Yet Duffy’s role in the destruction of Stéphane Dion was one of the most shameful abuses of journalism I have ever witnessed. You’ll recall that five days before the 2008 election, Dion stumbled while answering a confusing question from CTV’s Steve Murphy. Duffy rushed the tape to air and made Dion look like a dope, exactly as the Conservative attack ads portrayed him.

That well-timed but unethical act put Duffy firmly on the Tory team.


You can read the full reminiscence of Duffy former friend Dan Leger on how the disgraced senator achieved his current state of public odium here.

Beware High Walls


H/t Dawg's Blog & Alison at Creekside for the inspiration.

Oh, the great outdoors beckon on this fine Victoria Day morning, so for now, allow me to offer you this from today's Toronto Star:

Hard to believe Duffy has no nest egg

Re: Duffy resigns from caucus, May 17

It seems egregious Mike Duffy has been running roughshod over Canadians for some time, without attracting public opprobrium. Five years ago the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council ruled that he had violated broadcasting codes and ethics. Three years ago Duffy criticized the University of King's College and other journalism schools for teaching critical thinking, and added that the schools were raising left-wing journalists. On Friday we read that he tried to influence the CRTC on behalf of Sun Media.

He accepted $90,000 from Nigel Wright, the top man at the PMO, because, reportedly, he was worried about his heart and that his death would leave his wife in dire financial circumstances.

Duffy has been a senior journalist — presumably with commensurate salary — for more than 40 years, yet we are supposed to believe he has no nest egg. As a senator, he has enjoyed a generous expense subsidy from the Canadian taxpayer. He owns a couple of properties. He is director of Mike Duffy Media Services Ltd. As he knows, his wife would qualify for a generous pension when he dies. So I am puzzled that he had to accept the $90,000 windfall.
When an employee fiddles with his expense account, most probably he would be fired and called a thief. When a senator is caught, he becomes an independent senator. No condemnation, no punishment. Just another day on Parliament Hill.


Jerry Tutunjian, Toronto

In 2005, Stephen Harper said that anyone in his government who acted inappropriately would suffer the consequences. We now see the Conservatives again doing back flips trying to justify the unjustifiable. In the case of Mike Duffy, there seem to be more allegations of improper conduct on a daily basis that would involve the police if it was someone other than a Conservative. If the senator had any decency he would resign from the Senate.

Chester Gregorasz, Cambridge

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Preferential Treatment of Disgraced 'Senator' Mike Duffy

If you watch this video from the 5:40 mark, a natural question arises: If someone knocks on your door, will the police arrive if you call them?


For Those Of A Certain 'Vintage'

Pierre Poilievre And Howdy Doody: Separated at birth? You decide.

Your Sunday Smile



Plus a sobering rebuke of Mr. Harper in this morning's Star editorial:

"This sordid saga of improper Conservative behaviour, high-level secrecy and winking at wrongdoing has infuriated Canadians, disgraced the unelected Red Chamber, and spurred renewed interest in its abolition."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Growing Public Cynicism



I can only hope that the growing public cynicism evident in these Star letters translates into a deep and abiding anger that lasts until at least 2015. Here is a sampling:

Beyond money, audit reveals a bigger problem for Duffy, May 15

This column described Mike Duffy’s problem but the Senate-appointed auditors might have used terminology that was more fitting of the crime, instead of “inappropriately claimed” expenses it might have said “fraudulently claimed.” After all, Duffy’s problem is not much different from that of Harold Ballard when the latter did time for fraudulently using funds from Maple Leaf Gardens to pay for renovations to his house and cottage.

Apparently under the Harper government there are two laws in Canada, one for politicians and the other for the public. Stephen Harper’s democracy is not the one that I served to defend in World War II.


Bill Tuer, Cobourg

Duffy's sweet deal, Editorial, May 16

“According to Harper's staff . . . Harper knew nothing of the Wright/Duffy arrangement.” Sure he didn't. How stupid do we all look? Sadly, if we cannot count on honesty and integrity from the PMO, then we really can't expect it elsewhere in their government. For sure, Canadians deserve a way lot better than this. For a change, how about some real action from the prime minister — not just words — to clear out the cheats and buffoons?

Don Dorward, Pickering

When Sen. Mike Duffy said on the news a few weeks back, “The old Duffer is a man of his word,” I believed him. He went on to say that after a discussion with his wife, in order to put this distraction behind them, they would pay back the money that people were saying he should not have claimed. I was really surprised, though, to learn that his wife is Nigel Wright.

Bob Larocque, Carrying Place

In Case You Missed It

Here is Rex Murphy holding forth on the current 'troubles' in Ottawa:

Or how about this from Margaret Wente? I do so love it when the right starts eating their young.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mike Duffy Tried To Influence CRTC Decision on Sun Media

There just seems to be no bottom to this cesspool. Now the Puffster is said to have tried to subvert the CRTC hearing so that the money-losing Sun News gets its wish to be carried on basic cable.

You can watch the video here.

A Larger Problem


In his column this morning, Thomas Walkom suggests that Mike Duffy's current scandal-plagued problems are representative of much deeper ones in the Senate, namely that our much-cossetted members of that 'chamber of sober second thought' are appointed, not because of their expertise (many of them have none), not because of intimate knowledge of a particular province (Duffy has none, having lived in Ottawa for over 30 years and not even legally qualified to represent P.E.I.), but because the Senate has become, under both Liberal and Conservative governments, a repository of party strategists and bagmen where they can continue their partisan wizardry.

No doubt Walkom is correct as far as he goes. But the above, it seems to me, are simply symptomatic of two much deeper problems in public life, the widespread disengagement of our citizens, about which I have written before, and the shocking dearth of integrity in those who achieve high office.

For example, all of the events surrounding the Duffy porkbarreling have, quite rightly, provoked widespread outrage. However, when the abuses and betrayals of the public trust are not so obvious or so sensational, far too many citizens just shrug their shoulders and say that politics doesn't interest them. This marked indifference is precisely what has permitted, even encouraged, the depradatory environmental, science, economic and social policies the Harper regime has so avidly embraced and promoted. It is this indifference that enabled Harper to prorogue Parliament twice. It is this indifference that enabled, without even a hint of contrition, the excesses of Treasury Board President Tony 'gazeebo' Clement. I could go on and on.

A sleeping public enables, even encourages the unethical, the unprincipled, those for whom integrity is an alien concept, to prey upon and erode the public good.

I have always tried to live my life with principle and integrity, as do so many others throughout the world. Because we inhabit a world requiring adaptation and compromise, integrity and principle are ideals toward which we strive, providing, as they do, a moral compass and the recognition that the solely material and secular things of this world often come with a price too high to pay.

I will close this post with a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth, a man who learned that hard truth far too late, recognizing, as the end of his life approaches, that he has sacrificed everything of enduring value in his lust for power and pomp:


My way of life
Is fall'n into the sere, the yellow leaf;
And that which should accompany old age,
As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; but in their stead
Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,
Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.

-- Act v, Sc. 3




Thursday, May 16, 2013

I Know This Is Probably Getting A Tad Tiresome But

.... people showing such contempt for my intelligence really inflames me:

A senior PMO official told Fife that Duffy couldn’t afford to repay the $90,000 and did not want to borrow money from a bank, fearing that his wife would be stuck with the large debt if he died suddenly from a heart attack. Duffy has battled cardiac problems over the years.

Jennifer Ditchburn and Steve Rennie present an alternative view of The Puffster's finances here.

New 'Wisdom' From Pat Robertson

Who knows? With a little modification, Robertson's advice to the wife who has been cheated on might offer a new spin direction for the Harper regime, especially in its current troubles.


Political Lessons From Macbeth



In Act 5 Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Macbeth, when the overthrow of the ruthless, power-drunk politician/king is nigh, Angus speaks these words about him:


Now does he feel
His secret murders sticking on his hands.
Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach.
Those he commands move only in command,
Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title
Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.


Despite the fact that English literature is dismissed by many of our current 'masters of the universe' as something of a frill, with nothing to offer the practical, results-driven mentality of our times, perhaps the likes of Stephen Harper, Senator Duff, Nigel Wright et al should have paid more attention to the classics during their formative years. They then might not be facing what I hope is soon a 'palace' revolt against corruption by their former enablers:

GLOBE EDITORIAL
A strange, $90,000 gift to the undeserving Senator Duffy


PENNY COLLENETTE
Mike Duffy scandal finds the Tories in a moral maze without a compass


ANDREW COYNE:
The only right thing left for Mike Duffy to do now is resign


MATT GURNEY:
How can the Tories keep Mike Duffy on now?


JENNIFER DITCHBURN
Duffy claimed Senate expenses while campaigning in 2011 election

STEVEN CHASE, KIM MACKRAEL AND BILL CURRY
Ethics watchdog to review Harper aide's $90,000 gift to Duffy


GLORIA GALLOWAY
RCMP probes payments to senators Duffy, Brazeau, Harb


Then there is this from the always-reliable Toronto Star:

LES WHITTINGTON
Questions and answers on the $90,000 payment to Mike Duffy


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pierre Poilievre Does It* Again

If you start at about the 5 minute mark, you will witness Harper's pet parrot Pierre, through endless repetition, parody a Member of Parliament actually answering a question and showing respect for Canadians' intelligence.

* Show an absolute absence of anything that could be even remotely interpreted as integrity.

Powerful Words From Cornell West

Although he is addressing an audience in NYC, Cornell West's words are equally applicable on this side of the border. They seem especially important given the Harper regime's many efforts to tear down Canadian values and the obligations we have to one another as both citizens and human beings.

If you want to see his full address, you can access it here.

H/t Jack Saturday

A Sad Truth Here

H/t Chris Andersen

Friends In High Places - UPDATED

It must be very comforting indeed to the increasingly odious Senator Duffy that his relationship with the Prime Minister is so 'special' that the latter is willing to exercise unethical, perhaps even illegal interference on his behalf during the Senate's investigation into his fraudulent expense claims.

For the rest of us, the stench of corruption has reached near-asphyxiation levels.

UPDATE: The stench just got worse.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mike Duffy - A Senator With Neither Credibility Nor Honour

Thomas Walkom explains why.

Elizabeth Warren

With each story that I read about her, my respect for Elizabeth Warren grows. Would that Canada had someone similar to inspire us.

A Reason To Hope?

Canadians want a vision for the future. Canadians know we're not going in the right direction. A lot of Canadians are dismayed at the calamity that has befallen our democracy and the mean-spirited authoritarianism and the divide and conquer politics that have become the benchmark of our federal government.

Give them hope and you will reconnect with those disaffected, disengaged voters. Give them something to believe in, something to aspire to and you won't have to wait until Harper loses an election, you can actually win one on your merits. - The Disaffected Lib

The above is an excerpt from a post The Mound of Sound wrote last evening, a post that calls for re-engagement in and revitalization of our democracy. I offered the following comment on his site:

Your incisive comments are much appreciated, Mound. The question, however, seems to be how we motivate people to start caring about the dangerous departure from traditional values that has taken place in Canada, a departure that started well before the ascension of the Harper regime which, in my view, has only perfected the art of alienating the electorate from the political process.

All of the possible solutions to our dilemma seem to be rooted in having a party that truly cares about democracy in this country and is willing to work assiduously to reengage the public in the process, something I'm not sure the other two major parties really want beyond serving their political goal of wresting power from the Conservatives. I am frankly very dubious of Justin Trudeau who, as far as I can see, differs from Harper only in style, not in substance. If you examine the language of the NDP, they seem, if anything, to be vying for the centrist position on the spectrum, a position once occupied by the Liberals, with nary a word for 'the working class,' which has been largely supplanted by the phrase 'working families,' almost as if the former phrase is an embarrassing reminder of their provenance.

I have said several times on my own blog that Harper is quite happy to push the politics of disaffection and disillusionment to discourage people from participating in the political process, including elections, thereby leaving the field open for the 'true believers' who prevailed in the 2011 election.

People, I think, are hungry for genuine change. I just don't see that it is forthcoming from the other two major parties.

However, perhaps I have been looking at the issue too narrowly, placing too much responsibility on the other two major parties to lead the revitalization charge.

In a very interesting piece today, The Globe and Mail's Lawrence Martin discusses a new initiative by the Broadbent Institute that very well may help in the process. Taking its inspiration from the Manning Centre's success in cultivating the right,

The Broadbent Institute, viewed to date as a New Democratic front, is switching focus to the broader progressive cause, working not from a party point of view, but a policy and organizational one. As an example, in a few weeks, it will begin running training seminars across the country for political activists. They will pay a nominal fee for the type of instruction that young righties have been getting for years.

The problem, Martin observes, is that there is no unified left or, as I prefer, progressive movement. While entities deemed progressive abound in political, labour, environmental and economic spheres, the lack of a common cause or purpose has hampered any real coordination of effort. Nonetheless, these new efforts may ultimately bear fruit. For example, next week the Insitute is

... bringing to Ottawa the head honchos from the mother ship of U.S. progressive institutes, the Center for American Progress. With its $35-million budget, CAP is a huge support system for Democratic policies and political activity.

One awaits the outcome of this new direction with both hope and anticipation.

More From Our Friends at Canadians Rallying To Unseat Stephen Harper

I doubt that any of this requires further explanation.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Elizabeth Warren - Calm, Collected, Logical And Reasonable - A Rare Politician - UPDATED

Earlier today, Owen at Northern Reflections, commenting on a piece by Joseph Stiglitz, wrote a post on student debt, a scourge on both sides of the border.

Here is a video of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, for whom I have a great deal of respect, on her proposal for dealing with that scourge. Eminently reasonable, one can safely predict that her approach will inflame the right-wing zealots:

H/t Upworthy

UPDATE: This piece by Truthdig's Robert Scheer on Elizabeth Warren's quest is worth having a look at.

On Solidarity and Presence

Late last month I wrote a post entitled More On The Online Community Experience, a followup to an earlier one in which I discussed the importance I place on the online communities I am a part of.

Within the post I included an excerpt of a piece written by Matthew Heesing, a United Church worker in Columbia, on the importance of presence in helping us to bear the vicissitudes that life has to offer, whether they be of a personal or a societal nature. This morning I received a comment from him, which directed me to the full version of what he wrote.

I reproduce both the comment and the link below. I hope you will take the time to read his original blog post, as it reminds us of the strength we can all derive knowing that we stand not alone, something that I think is especially helpful in these very troubled times in Canada under the Harper regime:

Greetings!

My name is Matthew Heesing, and the author of the above excerpt! I was surprised to see my own words in a local church bulletin...a wider search brought me here!

I just wanted to share a fuller reflection, for your own interest--the cut-and-pasted version above is taken from a previous blog post of mine, which you can find here:

http://colombianjourney.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/building-solidarity/

Thanks for sharing, and I'm honoured to play a role in your reflections!

-Matthew

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Radio Free Canada: The Cultivation Of Fear And Other Tory Sins

This is rather interesting:

Guest Commentary From The Salamander On Pierre Poilievre And The Company He Keeps

Because he doesn't maintain his own blog yet offers blistering commentary that lacerates the pretensions of his subjects, I am once more placing as a guest post the searing analysis The Salmander offered in response to my post on the hypocrisy of that old young man, Pierre Poilievre, currently one of Harper's favorite poodles.

Enjoy:

.. hypocrite .. yes .. that captures the shallow ethics of this preening vain and glib political insectivore that hatched in Calgary, and who deserves careful examination under bright light and a magnifying glass.. by honest and objective political scientists.. or forensic anthropologists.

His pasty white cretin pedigreed shell may have evolved or metastasized from radiation/toxin poisoning that leached from Tom Flanagan, Stephen Harper & the rest of those flawed supremacist trogs that tend to lurch from the tailings ponds and the Calgary School for young Harper wannabe's.

Look who is right behind primped up poutine Pierre in the image from the video !... Why there is Michelle Rempel ! Cut from the very same cloth .. tho she is the staunch defender of Peter Kent.. our great boreal forest slayer along with Joe Oliver.. and Queen Stephen from Toronto.

Ah yes, oily Pierre .. former amour of political operative Jenni Byrne.. who of course worked hand in hand as deputy campaign manager on the 'in-out' 2006 election fraud and plea deal with the late immigrant and 'Reformer' Senator Finley.. Byrne was the lead hand campaign manager of the 2011 election fraud, live & robo calling, shadow MP's, data mining - and later data base and call record erasures & sanitizing etc.. denials and defender against baseless smears.

The tete a tete's of Pierre & Jenni would likely be delightful to those who enjoy the hissing of serpents and garbled maudlin moralistic pontifications.. vote moving & suppression strategies and pretending to be Canadian.

Let's be clear .. this Poilievre specimen is seen as potential cream of the Harper Party fungus crop. A soon to be Minister. Lesser lights have withered, flailed, retired or landed on the Harper dung heap a la Helen Guergis, Del Mastro, Sona etc.. or suddenly migrated to Abu Dhabi. Or gone to suddenly spend more time with their family .. or altruistically feel compelled to assist the BC Liberal Party, or the Alberta Wild Rose tea party..

The ascendant evangelists though.. like Poilievre, Kelly Leitch, Van Loan and Michelle Rempel.. screech the Harper Message, massage or lie to the mainstream media and communicate with or receive PMO marching orders and talking points via private email, smoke signals or agreed upon secret hissing and handshakes.. all outside, offside, out of sight of legal & required procedure.

At times I wonder how thrilling it must be to be paid by the people of Canada to screw them over, lie through your teeth to them.. and kiss Harper Party ass, suck & blow simultaneously, obstruct truth & justice, litigate against military veterans, First Nations, senior citizens, unions, women.. conspire to trash the environment & Charter of Rights and Freedoms on behalf of foreign energy consortiums and bow towards Israel and Calgary .. all at the same time.

It must be possible, but only if you're are a smug, forked tongue, entitled, two faced, purely unadulterated sanctimonious, and ethically bankrupt, ambitious paid public servant ..

This Makes Too Much Sense

...for anyone within the Conservative cabal to heed its words. Nonetheless, enjoy this well-considered editorial from today's edition of The Star:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his hyper-aggressive natural resources minister Joe Oliver are rapidly turning doubt about Canada’s bitumen into bitter opposition.

Oliver, who travelled to Europe this past week to promote Alberta’s heavy oil, ended up alienating his hosts and provoking a trade spat by vowing to take the European Union to court if imposes an import tax on Canada’s “dirty oil.”

Harper http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?category=1&pageId=26&id=5468 this week to defend TransCanada’s embattled Keystone XL pipeline from climate change activists in the United States.

Back home, the two men have stirred up so much ill-will in British Columbia by demonizing “radical environmental groups” and cutting short public hearings that they have all but killed the chances of getting Alberta’s oil to the Pacific.

In Edmonton, Premier Alison Redford, struggling to find a market for her province’s landlocked oil, has resorted to a level of deficit spending that has shocked Albertans and sent her public support plummeting.

Watching Canada’s descent from “energy superpower” to a stubborn peddler of environmentally damaging fossil fuel has been like witnessing a slow-motion train wreck. Yet the government refuses to recognize the damage it has done, much less change its strategy. It has become clear to everyone — except the prime minister, apparently — that lecturing potential buyers while spewing increasing amounts of carbon into the atmosphere is not going to work.

What Canada needs to do is provide wary buyers proof that it has a credible plan to clean up the oilsands, that it is working with scientists and environmentalists to extract the oil without using vast amounts of water and gas and that it respects its trading partners’ desire for sustainable forms of energy.

The makings of such a policy already exist. Oilsands producers have made modest progress in reducing the intensity of their emissions. Alberta has just levied a serious tax on carbon production. And an increasing number of eastern Canadians who once regarded the oilsands as a blight on the ecosystem are open to developing them if it can be done responsibly.

But the Harper government’s refusal to ratchet down its rhetoric has overshadowed these promising developments.

It is clear Canada cannot sell its bitumen to a wary world without an attitude change and a course shift. The longer the prime minister and his senior ministers remain in denial, the more difficult it will be for Alberta to export its bitumen and become a source of national economic strength. This is no longer an ideological issue. It is a simple matter of common sense.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is Pierre Poilivre Related To Joe Oliver?

They certainly seem to be singing from the same hymn book.

Orwellian and hypocritical are inadequate descriptors of this little twit:

And speaking of Orwellian, how else might one describe the “Working Families Flexibility Act?”

The Harperites must be salivating.

The World We Are Destroying

My friend LeDaro often posts videos that depict the world around us, poignant reminders of what we are so blithely destroying through our heedless consumerism and governments that know the price of everything but the value of nothing. In this, the slavish promotion of the tarsands by the Harper regime and its henchmen (Joe Oliver, Peter Kent, et al.) are leading exemplars.

I hope you can spare about six minutes to be dazzled by the energy, vitality and mystery of a world that will not be with us much longer if we maintain our present course.

On Our Democratic Deficit

These Star readers, whether you agree with them or not, have some interesting perspectives to offer:

Re: Growing disconnect between Canadians and Parliament, May 2

Democracy is just a mirage, Letter May 5

Al Dunn is essentially correct in his characterization of democracy as it is generally practised today. But the fact that democracy is clearly the ultimate bait-and-switch trick pulled on us by the elites — keeping up the illusion of a fair say whilst actually holding us at arm’s length from the levers that could operate our share of the balance of power — doesn’t mean there is no hope for us or for democracy. It doesn’t have to be this way. The funny thing about democracy is that behind that veneer is an institution that can be reconfigured to actually work as advertised. The trick wouldn’t have worked otherwise.

Democracy can be a true and substantive system for the rest of us but only when each and every representative in our parliaments owes their seat and their allegiance to their electorate more than to their party and every voter gets a rep insofar as the number of seats in the House permits. This is achievable; it only needs a properly designed electoral system.

When voters are truly empowered to truly empower their representatives, democracy will no longer be an illusion. That is the “paradigm shift” our democracy needs.

And while our party elites have (unsurprisingly) seen fit to reject calls to cooperate for meaningful electoral reform the door is still open for individual candidates to respond to the challenge. What do you say, chaps: will you cooperate with us to empower each other or are you content in your role in maintaining the pretense in the face of our dire need?

Mark Henschel, Toronto

Growing disconnect between Canadians and Parliament, May 2

Over the past few weeks there have been numerous opinion pieces in your paper discussing the “disconnect” between Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and the general public. This is by no means an unplanned occurrence. Governments in general — Conservative ones in particular — have been changing the way that governments and the governed interact. They have done it through simple changes to the lexicon.

The most notable change is the words that governments use to describe those who are governed. We are no longer referred to by politicians as “residents” or “voters,” “citizens” or even “Canadians.” We are referred to as “taxpayers,” even by your newspaper and the media as a whole. To be fair, everyone pays taxes, whether it is on one’s salary, real estate holdings or a $2 bag of candy at the corner store. But being referred to primarily as a “taxpayer” by the government carries with it a certain understanding.

Taxpayers pay for goods and services provided by the government for personal use. It is a consumer transaction. As long as you get your money’s worth, there is no reason to expect more or to know how it got to you, as long as you received value for your dollar. If someone else cannot access these goods and services, it is because they cannot contribute as much as you can, not because the government won’t provide.

Moreover, your responsibility ends the moment you sign the cheque. There is no need for any additional input or concern. You can’t question Walmart’s foreign policy, environmental track record or how it deals with dissent from within or without either. After all, your only decision is whether you will purchase or not.

“Citizens.” on the other hand have both rights and responsibilities. Yes, they pay taxes, but their duties go beyond the financial transaction. They are expected to engage in public debate, care for those who need to be cared for, and concern themselves for the community at large. They often put the good of society before themselves. Unfortunately, from the government’s perspective, “citizens” tend to question agendas, complain on grounds of principle, and worst of all, vote … sometimes for other parties.

Many “taxpayers” are content to simply give up their rights as citizens if it means they pay their taxes and not be bothered beyond that; after all, the government has everything in hand, right?

Being a “citizen” is a lot of work, requires you to be passionate about mundane things and pay attention, but the citizenry develops the political power necessary to steer public discussion. Is it any wonder that these two aspects define the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy?

Neil McClung, Brampton

Your editorial and the excellent article a few days earlier by Bob Hepburn on the disconnect between Canada’s parliament and its people accurately indicates that something here does not work well.

I am familiar with the governance structures of both Germany and Sweden and both have far more involved and informed electorates and a far better relationship between their people and their governments, and what their governments do. They both have an electoral system based on proportional representation, where every vote counts.

Our system gave Mr. Harper a strong mandate to govern although only 24 per cent of the electorate voted for him, 76 per cent did not. If we had had PR at the last election we would have since had a Liberal-NDP coalition probably supported by the Greens and an overwhelming majority of the voters. I am sure they would have done many things differently than Mr. Harper, things both you and I would have supported.

The Star has always strongly opposed proportional representation and consequently we must thank you for giving us the current Conservative majority. It would be wonderful and a great blessing for Canada to fix our mess on Parliament Hill.

In your case it might be useful to fix your attitude toward what is a far superior and more democratic electoral system. We can really only fix ourselves.

Chris Smith, Toronto

Friday, May 10, 2013

And Speaking Of The Tarsands ....

This is brilliant. Thanks to Anon, who, in his comment on my previous post, directed me to this video:

Let's try to spread this as widely as possible. Mockery and satire often seem to be the best way to respond to the nonsense and lies the government proclaims in our name.

An Embarrassment To All of Us

Like the dotty uncle no one wants to invite to family dinners anymore because of his wildly inappropriate comments, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is fast becoming an international persona non grata.

With the passion of a senescent zealot, Oliver has drawn unfavorable attention to Canada in recent weeks over his attacks on those who disagree with his unbridled enthusiasm for Alberta's dirty oil. There was, for example, his visit last month to Washington in which he lambasted a leading climate scientist, James Hansen, denouncing him for “exaggerated rhetoric,” that “doesn’t do the (environmentalists’) cause any good.” For good measure, he dismissed the much-respected Hansen for spouting "nonsense' in his warnings about the Alberta tarsands, adding that he “should be ashamed.” His followup interview with Evan Solomon could only be described as 'cringe-worthy.'

His next target was Al Gore who, in a recent visit to Toronto, offered a withering assessment of the tarsands similar to Hansen's. Again, our 'Uncle' Joe denounced him vigorously. Once more drawing upon his limited repertoire, he accused Gore of making "wildly inaccurate and exaggerated claims" about the Harper record on climate change.

But wait, there's more:

On Wednesday in Brussels, Mr. Oliver said Canada would consider filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization, the global referee for trade disputes, if the EU proceeds with its so called fuel-quality directive which singles out crude from Canada’s oil sands as the most harmful to the planet’s climate.

Yesterday, in an apparent rare moment of lucidity, Oliver backed down on the threat, saying that the issue is separate from the European trade deal much desired by the Harper regime.

The antics of our antic Natural Resources Minister have not escaped notice. Yesterday, a group of 12 prominent Canadian scientists wrote a letter to Oliver, essentially asking that he and his government show some maturity on the climate change issue. The letter also offers to help Minister Oliver to understand the data on climate change. No word of a response, withering or otherwise, from the cabinet minister.

Finally, in today's edition, The Star's Rick Salutin has an interesting take on the whole issue, saying that our version of classics like Death of a Salesman, Glengarry Glen Ross, or the current British series Mr. Selfridge would be Mr. Bitumen, the story of a salesman peddling a blatantly faulty, unneeded product.

One of the marks of the enlightened mind is the ability to process new information that can alter one's perspective. Joe Oliver shows no such capacity. Guess that's why he's a member of the Harper Conservative government.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Another Face Of Integrity

This kind of sterling courage and integrity is what keeps me from abandoning hope:

H/t Salon.com

Why Is This Man Smiling?

Could it be because Senator Duffy was tipped off by the man investigating him for expense improprieties?

Or could it be because once more, an errant staff member is to blame for Conservative 'irregularities'?

The Insular World Of The Police Mentality

I have written several posts in this blog about institutions and their many shortcomings, shortcomings that seem directly proportional to their age. The longer one exists, the more prone an organization seems to becoming increasingly insular, self-referential, and self-reverential.

One of the institutions most frequently targeted here is law enforcement. Whether examining local or national forces, it is clear that the temptation to overstep, misuse and abuse authority is too much for some to resist. Failure to seriously acknowledge that fact only leads to a greater likelihood it will recur, often more frequently or on an even larger scale.

Perhaps the most notorious instance of police abusing their authority and subsequent organizational inertia in responding to it was the G20 Summit of 2010 in Toronto. The details of that infamous weekend are well-known, and I have posted about it numerous times; in the aftermath of that weekend of mayhem, a G20 Criminal Investigative Project was formed to pursue and bring to justice the non-police criminals who contributed to the violence of that weekend.

As The Star's Rosie DiManno reports in today's edition, despite the legacy of illegalities perpetrated by the police and their commanders, that Project is today to be given a team award originating with Professional Standards:

[It is] being presented to some of the 82 members of the Toronto Police Service who are being honoured on Thursday along with a handful of officers from other law agencies

As Ms DiManno tartly observes:

There is little to feel proud about in the aftermath of that weekend of wreckage and trampled rights. Goodness, a slew of lawsuits against police for alleged abuse of force are still winding their way through the courts. And much of this city lost faith in its upholders of law and order, unprepared as they were to avert the chaos that erupted, then overly zealous in response to top-down orders that they “take back the streets.”

But that reality doesn't seem to exist in Policeland, it would seem.

The authorities, however, should be aware that it has not been forgotten in the larger world of public opinion.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Durham Police Abuse Of Authority

I'm not sure what is more disquieting, the conduct of constable James Ebdon or the very timid sanctions Durham Police Chief Mike Ewles imposed on the errant officer. Neither exactly cultivates confidence or trust in those who 'protect' us.

Guest Commentary From the Salamander On The Harper Regime

The other evening I put up a post on Kellie Leitch, the erstwhile physician turned Conservative M.P., enthusiastic sycophant and prominent apologist of all things Harpereque. As he occasionally does, The Salamander, in a comment on the post, offered his own observations of Ms. Leitch and a host of other Harper acolytes.

Always unsparing in his excoriating assessments, I am reproducing his offering below for readers to enjoy:

.. the pedantic and simplistic rhetoric keeps on churning.. that's the hallmark of Stephen Harper, the Harper Government, the Harper Political Party, the Harper Bureaucracy, the Harper Young Harper Party initiates, the Harper Electoral Volunteers, the Harper Data Miners, the Harper Live & Robo Call service bureaus, the Harper Ad Agency, the Harper Polling Companies .. the Harper Think Tanks, the Harper University Democracy Fronts

A ways back I described Ms Leitch as a 'dead end' .. when I should have been more illuminating. Although Kelly Leitch is yet another 'star' MP in the decaying Harper low orbit layer of ethically spaced out junk bond vote collectors.. she is merely a messenger.. and dull programmed echo.. As some might say.. a red herring .. a beep meep sputternik

But why shoot down such a useful sample specimen.. or 'carrier' that has the Harper political animal DNA staggering rabid dinosaur embedded ? She reminds me of the large Dean Dean Del Mastro who was equally capable of getting that big eyed glossy evangelistic Harper fervor in front of the cameras... 'the fact is in fact.. that the NDP carbon tax.. is in fact' .. and that oily pompadoured smug gelding idiot spouting 'the root cause of terrorism is terrorists !' And let's not forget the loyal warthog Peter Van Loan drone..

Hell .. while ol Dean n Poilievre & Van Loan, Hamilton, de Loray & Jennie Byrne was denying, plugging, denying, plugging the leaks from electoral fraud.. the ministerial creep jackasses such as Kent were endorsing the poisoning and shooting of boreal wolves, Clement was sanitizing his back trail form the G20, Ashfield was obstructing marine biology to promote farmed salmon and Joe Oliver was painting his skinny millionaire stockbroker/lawyer arse into the dangerous corner its frying in now.

Joe Oliver .. he's toast - a Canadian quisling, the Benedict Arnold, General Custer tar sands fall guy either before or after Harper resigns or is fired or goes into hiding with his trusty aide Ray Novak and at least one panda. One of many with no conscience, no common sense, no glowing heart, standing on guard with forked tongues, financiers, foreign energy consortiums, ideologues carpetbaggers and charlatans.. Why ? Good question ... What drives these sellouts ?

I like the Kelly Leitch's.. and the duplicitous and vicious pedantic MP secretaries like Michelle Rempel.. and Poutine Poilievre .. if we see them as lab rats and look for a cure.. an antitoxin .. a vaccine .. for the infection they carry .. while we try to deal with the really serious 'carriers' of the toxins .. Harper, Mackay, Baird, Flanagan, Kenney, Manning .. the list just is shocking ...

Stephen Harper - He's Not Here For You

But of course I state the obvious here, don't I? Nonetheless, for those who like regular and ongoing illustrations of the fact that the Prime Minister and his acolytes are in the thrall of 'special interests,' one need look no further than a report in today's Toronto Star.

Currently, non-financial businesses are sitting on over $600 billion in cash reserves, thanks to a very favourable tax regime from the Harperites and similarly obeisant and compliant provincial governments. At the same time, however, these 'masters of the universe,' reluctant to spend their largess on research and development, new equipment purchases, or just about anything else, have gotten new incentive to hoard and count their cash:

The Conservative government says the National Research Council is now “open for business” and will refocus on large-scale projects “directed by and for” Canadian industry — a change some scientists call a mistake.

Part of the mandate of the NRC is to work with and help support industry, but what is new here is the fact that it appears this will now essentially be its exclusive mandate, dictated by the 'needs' of industry.

While one understands that it is difficult for the current government regime, looking as it does with grave suspicion upon critical and nuanced thinking, to comprehend, the words of Nobel laureate John Polanyi, who says that steering the NRC away from basic research is misguided, need to be heard:

“One should structure things so (scientists) have the freedom and responsibility to provide ideas to industry, not just receive commands,” ...

Queen’s University professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, John Smol, explains it this way:

“I look at science as a pyramid. At the bottom you have all this basic fundamental research and at the top you have the applied. But you can’t have the applied without the basic,” he said.

Smol goes so far as to see something quite sinister in the Harper decision to make the NRC the handmaiden of the corporate agenda:

Smol, a lakes ecosystem expert, believes the decision to recast the NRC is part of a Conservative pattern of cutting funding for basic science in favour of applied research that will generate a profit.

“What you find in environmental research are things that will cost industry money,” he says. In a recent study, Smol showed that lakes near Alberta’s oil sands are filled with contaminants.

One assumes that with its new orders, the National Research Council will not anytime soon be conducting such embarrassing studies that could hamper the ever-stronger march of corporate dominance.

Another victory for the Harperites. Another loss for the non-corporate citizens of Canada.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Kellie Leitch Speaks Again In Her 'Master's Voice'

Like the good yeo(wo)man she is, Ms Leitch never deviates from the Harper regime script as she 'answers' Evan Solomon's questions about the Temporary Foreign Worker's Program. One only hopes that her collar is not pulled too tightly; given Canada's doctor shortage, it would be sad to lose a trained practitioner who will, one hopes, be returning to the medical field after the next election.

Hmm... I wonder if Ms Leitch and the ever-faithful Pierre Poilievre get together on occasion to share some kibble and compare talking points?

The Silver Lining

Now that the weather has markedly and rather consistently improved over the past week in my part of Ontario, yard work beckons, so for now I offer this perceptive nugget from a Star reader, who sees some benefit to the Harper regime's estrangement from the United Nations:

Canada not up for UN Security Council seat, May 2

I'm relieved that Canada is not seeking a UN Security Council seat since, if we got it, the Harper government would only use it to lobby for international sanctions against Justin Trudeau.

Steve Morris, Toronto