Friday, July 31, 2009
When it was deemed that false and misleading information passed on by the Mounties, may have led to the arrest and torture of Canadian citizen,
Maher Arar; recommendations were made to avoid further errors in judgement.
However, putting Blake Richards on the committee, to judge the work being done by the Watchdog agency established to avoid further intelligence fiascoes, was a mistake.
It's pretty clear that he's been influenced by the old dog himself, Myron Thompson, because Richards reduced the role of the agency to that of "bureaucrats and paper pushers", simply because they claimed they were under funded.
Look out Blake. Your green Reform Party roots are showing under your new 'Tory' blue do.
Watchdog says RCMP security work beyond his reach
The Canadian Press
Mar 5, 2009
OTTAWA — The RCMP watchdog says he's powerless to tell whether the Mounties have made the changes needed to prevent another Maher Arar affair.
Paul Kennedy, chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, told a Commons committee Thursday he can provide no assurances the government has enacted the Arar inquiry's recommendations.
The federal inquiry led by Justice Dennis O'Connor examined the role Canadian officials played in opening the door to Arar's torture in a grave-like Syrian cell after he was falsely accused of ties to terrorism.
Among the changes O'Connor called for more than two years ago was an overhaul of the RCMP complaints commission that would give it new powers to keep an eye on the Mounties' intelligence activities.
Kennedy told MPs on the public safety and national security committee that without the new authority he's in the dark as to whether the RCMP has cleaned up its act.
The commission's ability to probe security investigations is currently limited because such RCMP activities usually take place in the shadows, he said. In addition, the law does not give the complaints commission full access to information in RCMP files, and the commission lacks power to review or audit the force's programs and policies.
"I cannot give you any assurance that the RCMP has implemented the recommendations of Justice O'Connor or if such recommendations, if implemented, are either being adhered to or are in fact adequate to achieve their stated purpose," Kennedy said.
Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained in New York in September 2002 and subsequently shipped abroad by U.S. authorities, ending up in a Damascus cell where he gave false confessions about terrorist ties.
The government apologized to Arar in 2007 and gave him $10.5 million in compensation.
O'Connor found the RCMP passed misleading, inaccurate and unfair information to the Americans that likely led to Arar's arrest, deportation and ultimate torture.
Kennedy suggested a broader watchdog mandate for his organization could have deterred the RCMP from breaking policies and sharing information about Arar with the United States without attaching cautionary conditions about its use.
"If you knew that someone could come in and look at your program and find out if you're adhering to those policies and procedures, you would certainly be less tempted to have done what occurred in that case" he told the committee.
"Which is to forget about the policies and procedures, pull the caveats off and just do a dump of information. It would not have happened because you know someone is going to look at it.
"Right now, there's a curtain drawn around that, and no one looks in it other than the RCMP."
O'Connor also called for stricter review of five other agencies involved in national security, and made 23 recommendations urging the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service and others to usher in policy changes on information sharing, training and monitoring of security probes.
Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland said it was "staggering" the recommendations remained up in the air. "We're still talking about what the government responses will be."
The committee is looking at how the government has reacted to O'Connor's recommendationsand the findings of a more recent inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci into the overseas imprisonment of three other Arab-Canadian men.
Iacobucci found Canadian officials had a hand in the brutalization of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin in Syria through the sharing of information with foreign intelligence and police agencies. Iacobucci blamed the RCMP, CSIS and Foreign Affairs for mistakes.
Kennedy expressed concern that while the RCMP's budget has more than tripled since 1988, his funding has not even doubled in that period.
Conservative MP Blake Richards objected to Kennedy equating the work of his "bureaucrats and paper pushers" with that of RCMP officers who risk their lives on the street.
New Democrat MP Jack Harris said the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which monitors CSIS, appears "hamstrung" by the fact it can investigate the spy service's actions, but not those of other federal intelligence agencies.
He pointed to the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Montreal man who wants the review committee to probe the CSIS role in his imprisonment and interrogation in Sudan.
The review committee has told Abdelrazik's lawyers the committee must first gauge its "ability to fully investigate CSIS's actions given the alleged possible involvement of another government department or of other countries."
Susan Pollak, executive director of the review committee, declined Thursday to pass judgment on the need for a new, more powerful watchdog. "I see it as a decision the government has to make."
I guess I can see why Blake Richards is abusing tax dollars to campaign for Brian Abrams,who is an ex RCMP officer. But sadly for the two Harper hand puppets, the old 'if you can't tame it, shoot it' mentality of the Reform Party, won't fly here.
We need to allow these Watchdogs groups to do their jobs, even if just to protect the integrity of the RCMP. If they have nothing to hide, what are they so worried about?
Back to: The Blake Richards Story: Shameless Self-Promotion
You might wonder why I care what an Albertan backbencher has to say, but since he came to my backyard, abusing my tax dollars to campaign for Brian Abrams, I'm going to his. I'm also going to pull up all the flowers while I'm there.
From what I understand, he's sending junk mail to his constituents too, but it won't really matter. His seat is Reform, held for years by his ex-employer Myron Thompson, the craziest old coot I ever saw.
Richards won't have to do a thing because if a chicken ran Reform/Alliance Conservative in that seat, they'd win.
But to the video. It's classic and indicative of just how stuck in neutral the Conservative party have become. Richards is like one of those dolls with the strings you pull to get them to talk. After too much string pulling they get stuck on one or two phrases. For him it's 'cut taxes' and 'tough on crime'; neither of which are priorities for most Canadians.
We'd like to hear him and colleagues once in a while discuss how their government is going to deal with the enormous deficit and debt load, and how they are going to handle environmental concerns now that their precious NAFTA is at risk because they've put off dealing with climate change.
It's pretty clear that since they've opted to do nothing, it will be our children and grandchildren who will have to pay for their mistakes.
Brian Abrams may have to rethink which Reformers he chooses to waste our money. Mike Wallace and Blake Richards are only making him look bad (worse?).
Back to - The Blake Richards Story: Shameless Self-Promotion
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Just ask Jason Kenney or Luc Harvey.
Naturally, these ads are on behalf of Brian Abrams, who can't yet abuse our tax dollars on his own, and Abram's spokesperson, Senator Hugh Segal, is actually trying to defend these men.
He claims that all parties are doing it, but that's not true and he knows it. I've seen a few Liberal and NDP flyers opposing government policy, but the Conservatives actually use theirs to campaign or launch silly push polls.
But then what can we expect from Hugh Segal? When Peter MacKay reneged on a written contract with David Orchard, and teamed up with the Canadian Alliance, Segal defended it by saying: "A lot of things have been said at political conventions that didn't have much substance after the event. There is enough grey there for legitimate maneuverability." (aka: Lying)
So next time you get caught in a cell phone or fitness club contract, that demands you to continue paying even though you no longer require the service; just tell them of the Hugh Segal law for 'legitimate maneuverability'. Maybe he'll post your bail.
But as to Richards, he might want to focus on keeping his own riding informed, because at least one resident found his 'information newsletter' all fluff and no substance.
MP's Report Short on Real Substance
The Cochrane Eagle
July 15, 2009
I think I might have to draft a little letter to the Cochrane Eagle myself. Ms Pharis won't believe the silly nonsense he's sending Kingston Residents.
MP Blake Richards’ recent four-page broadsheet sent to Wild Rose constituents is disappointingly largely fluff. He had roughly 5,000 sq. cm. available to update us on real issues, but used only about one-quarter of this space to do so. The rest was fluff.
Of the hard information he presented, most was general Conservative policy, and only one short article gave us insight into Mr. Richards’ efforts on our behalf. He describes attending a meeting in the United States in June where he promoted farmers’ concerns.
While that short report was informative, I wanted to hear more of substance. I don’t care if Mr. Richards entered a Didsbury coffee shop or got his photo taken with a hockey trophy. I want to know if he is attending to important issues, ones I don’t see listed in his survey.
Why focus so much effort on crime when Canada’s crime rate is decreasing? What about his work on such critical issues as:
• curbing climate change;
• preparing farmers to function within major climate swings;
• a Canada-wide water strategy;
• economic diversification and a return to research and anufacturing;
• shortening food supply lines and supporting local production;
• curtailing (instead of promoting) endless growth and its demands on a finite planet.
Back to: The Blake Richards Story: Shameless Self-Promotion
There is in this country a mistaken belief that the Liberals were the first to attempt to turn Canada into a Corpocracy.
And that notion has been ingrained into our psyche.
But it is wrong. In fact it was Brian Mulroney who first moved the corporate boardrooms into the Parliament Buildings, and gave Lobbyists more power than our elected officials. It was also Mulroney who created the infrastructure for the sponsorship scandal.
Another new development in that fall of 1984 was the emergence of powerful lobbyists. Until the Mulroney government came to office, lobbyingMike Harris would adopt the same system with lobbyists like Guy Giorno, Tom Long and Leslie Noble. And of course, anything Mike Harris did, Stephen Harper does better.
was a discreet profession in the city, practised by a few well-connected Ottawa hands ....
When Mulroney came to Ottawa, he was followed by a flock of cronies who were brazen in their determination to cash in on the friendship. They opened "consulting" or "government relations" offices, bragged openly about their access to the Boss, and devised billing systems based on retainers and — a new wrinkle — contingency fees, or percentages of the action should their efforts be successful. Some, the minnows in the Ottawa pond, opened modest one-man bucket shops in shabby office buildings; others, the barracudas, confident of raking in significant revenues, leased suites in the most expensive towers in Ottawa and filled them with teak tables, leather chairs, expensive art, and eager-beaver support staff. (1)
Connie and Brian
Conrad Black and Brian Mulroney had been friends for a number of years. Mulroney was president of the Canadian Iron and Ore Company, when the Black family were major shareholders, and he was the one who first introduced Black to Power Corporation's Paul Desmarais. (2)
Mulroney once said of Black: "Conrad has a magnificent capacity for conceptualization. If I look out a window, I'll see a tree. He might see a paper mill. He can put together the pieces of any corporate puzzle." (3)
But when Mulroney was asked to mediate a deal with Hanna Mining, he warned Black that he was seen as a "paper purchaser, not a builder or job creator". (4)
Robert Anderson the president of Hanna Mining, who wanted to stop Black from taking over Hanna, was Mulroney's boss. Brian Mulroney was, by his own description, "the jam in the sandwich.' Mulroney's position was made even more delicate as the battle moved out of the boardrooms into the courts. (5)Black rewarded Mulroney, by backing him during his failed 1976 leadership bid, and the Mulroneys remained members of Black's social circle. That circle also included Murray and Barbara Frum(6), parents of David Frum, who remains a Black supporter.
Peter White and Brian Mulroney
Peter White was a classmate of Brian Mulroney's at Laval (7), and in 1972, he was running a small newspaper in Quebec's Eastern Townships along with his partner, Conrad Black. White introduced Black to Mulroney soon after he began to get involved in politics. (8)
White worked on Mulroney's leadership campaign, drawing in an important element of support, the Tory Youth, especially a group of neoconservative youth from the University of Toronto, led by Anthony Panayi (Tony Clement):
The campus radicals were also instrumental in the defeat of federal Conservative leader Joe Clark by corporate lawyer Brian Mulroney. "In 1981 to '83 there was a guerrilla campaign against the leadership of Joe Clark orchestrated by Brian Mulroney and the people who backed Mulroney ... In Ontario, the PC campus and youth associations were all hotbeds of anti-Clark activity and we were all on the anti-Clark side." The success of the right young Tories in helping force a leadership convention and in electing Mulroney over Clark strengthened their confidence. (9)And the Young Tories were smitten with Peter White:
Peter White had identified young Tories as strategically significant and concluded that Mulroney had to win them in order to succeed. While staying discreetly out of the campaign limelight, White started to forge relationships with youth leaders, who were impressed that someone of White's stature — a business associate of Conrad Black — was interested them. Clark, meanwhile, had nobody of comparable business lining up youth support. Nearly one-third of all delegates were youth, so the potential was enormous. (10)White would leave Mulroney in disgust, and return to work with Conrad Black, and the relationship between Black and Mulroney would also turn sour. In 1982 when Black was under investigation in Cleveland for shady dealings, be blamed in part, his former friend:
Unlike in America, Black personally knew those involved in the investigations in Toronto, and understood the regulators' frailties. `I'll talk to the Attorney General,' he announced. Just hours after the dinner he was sitting in the office of Roy McMurtry, Ontario's Attorney General. The politician met Black without any officials, even those directing the investigation. In his quiet, mellifluous manner, Black cast blame on a range of people, including even the future Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, at that time a rising politician in Ottawa and a director of Hanna. 'The powder trail from this trumped-up charade of an investigation leads straight to Brian's door,' Black told the Attorney General. 'He was far enough along in the chain that generated the Norcen investigation that his fingerprints wouldn't be on the knife. (11)And Mulroney would say of Black: "Conrad's problem, is that he's never had his arse sucked by a woman." (12)
Mulroney always did have a way with words.
1. On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years, By Stevie Cameron, Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1994, ISBN: 0-921912-73-0, Pg. 21-22
2. The Establishment Man: A Portrait of Power, By Peter C. Newman, McClelland and Stewart, 1982, ISBN: 0-7710-6786-0, Pg. 224
3. Newman, 1982, Pg. 218
4. Newman, 1982, Pg. 250
5. Brian Mulroney: The Boy from Baie-Comeau, By Rae Murphy, Nick Auf der Maur, Robert Chodos, Goodread Biography, 1985, ISBN: 13-978-0887-801372, Pg. 129
6. Newman, 1982, Pg. 267
7. Cameron, 1994, Pg. 18
8. Mulroney: The Making of a Prime Minister, By L. Lan MacDonald, McClelland and Stewart, 1985, ISBN: 0-7710-5469, Pg. 82
9. Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution, By John Ibbitson, 1997, ISBN: 0136738648, Pg. 33
10. Mulroney: The Politics of Ambition, By John Sawatsky, McFarlane, Walter & Ross, 1991, ISBN: 0-921912-06-4, Pg. 472
11. Conrad & Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge, By Tom Bower, Harper Press, 2006, ISBN: 10-000-723234-9, Pg. 66
12. Bower, 2006, Pg. 387
Preston Manning was born into politics and being a politician was a birthright. But he was out of step with the times.
The radical sixties presented conservatism and capitalism with a major problem: the focus of all the new social movements, and the rejuvenated older ones, was the failure of the "capitalist system" to respond to the needs — economic, social, and cultural —of the young, women, native and poor people, and the otherwise marginalized.
The efforts of Preston Manning and his young associates had been primarily aimed at saving Social Credit — the provincial bastion of social conservatism in Alberta. Ernest Manning's efforts had been focused equally at the national level. (1)When Peter Lougheed beat out the Social Credit Party in Alberta in 1971, author Allan Hustak wrote:
Thirty-six years of 'God's government' had come to an end ... but in terms of Alberta's history it was a triumph of style rather than substance — the secular equivalent of a revival meeting — a new minister had been selected to do a better job than the old one but the faith remained the same. There was no substantive chance in political philosophy. (1)It was still a right-wing government but one better equipped to handle the times. For Preston, who had run for the Social Credit party in 1965 but failed to win, he resigned himself to the fact that his political career would have to wait, if he had one at all.
The federal scene was distinctly hostile to his right-wing conservatism and more specifically to his father's efforts at "realignment." Provincially, Preston Manning could certainly have considered working towards the leadership of the Social Credit. It still held a third of the legislative seats and remained a viable party. But the goal of political realignment in Alberta had already been accomplished. Social Credit, spent force or not, was now considered irrelevant by the man who had led it for a quarter of a century.An Unlikely Politician
At nearly thirty years old, Preston Manning had emerged from his six years of political experience with a political ideology, a political objective, and an approach to politics firmly worked out. These elements of Preston Manning's thinking did not change much, if at all, in the proceeding fifteen years before he founded the Reform Party. (1)
If Preston Manning was born to be a politician another young man was not.
Pierre-Philippe Elliot Trudeau came from a very affluent family, who in today's political climate would be referred to as an elitist. He was an intellectual, and a man about town, who preferred solitude to crowds.
But by 1965, he was worried about the rise of Quebec nationalism and decided that he had to get into politics to stem the tide.
Though he had only been an MP for three years, when Lester Pearson announced his retirement, Trudeau reluctantly decided to enter the leadership race.
His friend Jean de Grandpre, tried to talk him out of it.
Trudeau listened carefully. Then he proceeded to explain why his logic compelled him to run for Canada's highest public office. He had entered federal politics three years earlier to fight the resurgence of Quebec nationalism by establishing a strong federal government, one with plenty of francophones in it. If he didn't run, there wouldn't be a French-Canadian contender in the leadership race, and francophones would continue to be relegated to the backseat of power in the federal government, which in turn would provide the nationalists in Quebec with more ammunition. "If I am logical with myself, I have to say yes," Trudeau told de Grandpre. "But not because I want it."But in 1968, at the Liberal Leadership Convention, Pierre Elliot Trudeau became the unexpected winner in what the Globe and Mail called "the most chaotic, confusing, and emotionally draining convention in Canadian political history."
That hesitancy in another politician might only be part of the political tap dance to precede a run for power. But in Trudeau's case, the decision to seek the prime minister's job forced him to choose between his intellectual commitment and the reclusive life he had cultivated since his youth. Trudeau had never set out to be prime minister. He was an intellectual, for years an elegant man about town, a loner, not a joiner. Still, Trudeau was so brilliant, especially in his attacks against Quebec nationalists, that his friends at the journal Cite Libre used to daydream about Trudeau's potential as a political leader. "We would say, wouldn't it be extraordinary if a man like that became prime minister," Trudeau's close friend, former senator Jacques Hebert, told Macleans. "But we were making a joke. It was unthinkable. He was never a member of an association. He never even showed any political ambition." (2)
He had captured the imagination of the country and inspired many to join his campaign, including the national youth organizer and party delegate for Trudeau's leadership, the twenty-year-old, Michael Ignatieff.
1. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 44-45
2. Trudeau: His Life and Legacy, Macleans Special Commemorative Edition, 2000
Only vote splitting and apathy, brought on by the horrendous Conservative attack ads, gave them more seats.
After the story broke about the "In and Out" scheme, Harper's Party was in serious trouble. Breaking the rules may have put his legitimacy into question, but alleged fraud was a criminal matter.
So how did he deal with it?
He abused his executive powers to hamper the investigation, shut down the ethics committee and called an illegal election. He then launched a ridiculous civil suit, that put the case on the back burner.
However, the allegations are still there and hopefully soon Canadians will get their day in court. They cheated US and Harper is now suing US. What does that tell you about this government?
But back to the numbers and why I believe a coalition or an alliance of the left, is the best option for our country; if we want to get on track to solving the multitude of problems we are facing.
A serious attempt was made during the last election to initiate strategic voting. Sadly it didn't work, and the Conservatives ended up with more seats, despite the fact that they received less votes.
The election also saw the lowest voter turnout in our history. On election night it was felt that this would play in favour of the incumbents because by and large, Conservative voters were said to be older and wealthier and more apt to get out and vote. Do we really want old rich guys having all the power?
But lets compare the results from 2006 to 2008.
2006 - Total votes 5,374,071 which represented 36.27% of ballots cast for 124 seats
(Note: This was the election where they broke the rules and the alleged fraud involving 66 candidates is still on the table)
2008 - Total votes 5,208,793 which represented 37.63 of ballots cast for 143 seats
Their percentage went up slightly but despite the fact that they were able to drive voters away from the Liberals, none of those were driven in their direction, because they received 173,210 fewer than in 2006.
2006 - Total votes 4,479,415 which represented 30.23% of ballots cast for 103 seats
2008 - Total votes 3,627,890 which represented 26.24 of ballots cast for 77 seats
(The horrendous attacks on Dion led to the Liberals downfall, but ironically their numbers were climbing until Steve Murphy and Mike Duffy created a mini scandal with the Liberal leader's false starts. Both men have been charged with ethics violations, but Duffy was rewarded with a senate seat and Murphy a one on one interview with the PM during the Parliamentary crisis. Is their a senate seat in his future too, since he did what the Conservatives couldn't at that time .... knock Mr. Dion out of the race?) As a result the Liberal numbers were down by 851,525 but none of them went to the Conservatives.
2006 - Total votes 2,589,597 which represented 17.48% of ballots cast for 29 seats
2008 - Total votes 2,512,886 which represented 18.2 of ballots cast for 37 seats
(The NDP were down by 76,711 votes but still managed to get a few more seats)
2006 - Total votes 1,553,201 which represented 10.48% of ballots cast for 51 seats
2008 - Total votes 1,379,991 which represented 9.97 of ballots cast for 49 seats
(The Bloc were down by 173,210 and they lost two seats)
2006 - Total votes 664,068 which represented 5.2% of ballots cast for 0 seats
2008 - Total votes 940,297 which represented 6.8 of ballots cast for 0 seats
(The Green Party was the only one to gain votes and yet they still have no seats.)
This is why we need either proportional representation or a coalition of the left, because as it is, the majority of Canadians are without a voice.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
"They haven't changed since they hanged Riel" Marjory LeBreton on Manitoba after the 1993 election results (1)
According to her bio, the 70-year-old Marjory LeBreton has worked for four leaders of the now defunct, Progressive Conservative Party of Canada - John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield, Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.
That's true, though she should mention that she never liked Joe Clark, and liked his wife even less (2), but I suppose that's water under the bridge.
She was appointed senator by Brian Mulroney in 1993, but before that she was responsible for many patronage appointments, especially to the senate. This job was formerly handled by Peter White, who went back to work for Conrad Black.
Marjory LeBreton took over the unofficial patronage portfolio after Peter White's departure:Leading up to the leadership, people used to say, in the party, "You know, Brian Mulroney would be a great leader, but boy, I am worried about his friends." You would hear that, and I used to say, "Don't be so silly, everybody has liabilities Joe Clark has got a fair sprinkling of them, I don't mind telling you.LeBreton is now Leader of the Government in the Canadian Senate, an appointment given her by Stephen Harper as payment for help with his 2006 campaign. I wonder how many letters and requests she fielded for Harper's patronage senate appointments.
LeBreton dealt with dozens of demands and requests, particularly when Senate seats became available. Seven prominent Tories explicitly asked for appointments: I had John Reynolds on the phone lobbying for a Senate seat for himself, and giving me this pitch that it should be someone that could go on the talk shows. I said, "Gee, John, I haven't noticed you being out there."
Gerry St. Germain wrote a letter to the prime minister talking about the sacrifices he's made. I actually felt sorry when I read it. It said something to the effect that he would want to serve in the Senate and then he ended the letter by saying, "If you decide to choose someone else, please know that you will have my absolute loyalty." Jim Doak, who was seventy-four, was actually going to sign a letter saying that he would only stay there for a year, just to be called a senator. Doak was originally the president of the party in Manitoba under Diefenbaker.
Duncan Jessiman was another of the old party bagmen stalwarts, but he had supported the prime minister financially when he ran for leadership. He was seventy years old, and he sent the Prime Minister a kind of "you owe me" letter, and you know the prime minister people have helped him out. He [didn't make him a senator but] put Dunc in the best appointment he could give at the time, which was on the board of Air Canada, and of course we privatized Air Canada and they didn't keep him on the board, but they gave him a lifetime pass.
We had Kate Schellenberg [later Kate Manvell] in BC. She was married to Ted Schellenberg, who was the MP from Nanaimo. She wrote a long letter to the prime minister just before Christmas. As the prime minister was reading it, he said, "There must be some reason she's writing." The last paragraph was, "I'd like to be named to that vacant Senate seat from BC." We made her a citizenship court judge. Pat Carney asked for the Senate seat too, but claims she didn't. (3)
Corruption Knew no Bounds
Erik Nielsen*, shown to the right, was the first Deputy Prime Minister under Mulroney, who eventually quit because of the rampant corruption in the Party.
Not that he was immune to making patronage appointments, and in fact developed a system where all party faithfuls had a say:
The way Nielsen envisaged it, the first stream would fill the top jobs at Crown corporations such as Air Canada, Export Development Corporation, the Atomic Energy Control Board and the CBC, as well as slots in bodies like the Parole Board and the Immigration Appeal Board, which required members with genuine expertise.With 3,000 patronage appointments to fill, Nielson established provincial advisory committees, who would bring forward likely candidates for various jobs, and these recommendations then went to a national advisory committee. He had patronage down to a science, but it soon became clear that the final decisions were in the hands of only one person, who more often than not completely disregarded any suggestions by the provincial groups.
The party faithful who had raised money and volunteers in campaigns across the country would constitute the second stream, a pool from which candidates would be drawn to fill positions in arts agencies, marketing boards, and citizenship courts. Nielsen expected Tories to be appointed to the major boards as well, but he believed the chairmanships and presidencies should be set aside for people who had more than political credentials. There was a distinction, he insisted, between what was pure patronage and what had to be a selection of highly qualified persons to run government enterprises. (4)
Loaded as they were with old Mulroney associates, the provincial committees were being ignored and their recommendation, bypassed within three months of their inauguration. The national committee? It was a joke, "a mere facade," snorts Nielsen ... So I stopped chairing. I just simply stopped going to the meetings. My presence there was totally ineffective and superfluous." The committee's executive committee faded away and the process was taken over by Marjory LeBreton. (4)A Champagne Taste on a Beer Income
The Mulroneys led an extravagant lifestyle, mostly on what would appear to be tax dollars and influence pedaling:
"He always lived up to the hilt" said one of his oldest friends. Like Mila, Mulroney enjoyed living and working in luxurious surroundings decorated with fine furniture and good paintings ... And he too liked expensive clothes. In the mid-1980s he would buy several $2,000 suits at one time from Bijan in Manhattan, one of the most expensive stores in New York, and of course he has long indulged a weakness for Gucci loafers at about $500 a pair.What my mom would call having a champagne taste on a beer income.
One individual who has known Mulroney well since his days at Iron Ore is Conrad Black. In his 1993 autobiography 'A Life in Progress', Black patronizingly described the Mulroney he knew in the 1970s. Even though Mulroney had become successful wrote Black with the confidence of someone to the manner born, "he still felt himself quite keenly to be the underprivileged lad from Baie-Comeau, son of the foreman in the Chicago Tribune's news print mill who identified more with the French than the English,and more with the lower economic echelons than than with the scions of wealthy Westmount . . . He had the attitude to money of someone who didn't have any himself but had seen other scatter lavishly - he appreciated it more in the spending than in the accumulation, the latter a process he tended to oversimplify. And politically he had the attitude to money of someone who came to maturity in last years of Duplessis when the tangible fruits of a long incumbency were being extravagantly dispersed. He had the heart of a working man but the tastes of the rich." (5)
Before leaving public office, Brian Mulroney had got himself into a financial mess and was indebted to the Progressive Conservative party to the tune of more than $ 200,000.00 Many of these expenditures had been approved by Marjory LeBreton.
To raise needed funds he tried to sell some of his personal furnishings that were then at 24 Sussex Drive, at inflated prices to the Government of Canada. However, the media got wind of it and the deal was off. So he instead he got himself involved with Karlheinz Schrieber.
And LeBreton has done very well for herself, without apparently no post-secondary education, but referred to as "one of the hard-ass operatives" (6), a left over of the Mulroney years.
*Brother of actor Leslie Nielsen.
1. The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister, By Peter C. Newman, Clandebye Ltd., 2005, ISBN: 10-0-679-31351-6, Pg. 418
2. Newman, 2005, Pg. 248
3. Newman, 2005, Pg. 89-90
4. On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years, By Stevie Cameron, Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1994, ISBN: 0-921912-73-0, Pg. 185-186
5. Cameron, 1994, Pg. 394-395
6. Newman, 2005, Pg. 168
When Tony Clement was named the first health minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet, the Canadian Medical Association raised the alarm.
Credit Where None is Due
Former Ontario health minister Tony Clement, once dubbed ‘Two-Tier Tony’ for his oft-stated belief there must be more “choice in health care,” has been appointed federal Minister of Health for the newly-minted Conservative government. Critics immediately tabbed the 45-year-old lawyer’s appointment as an omen for further devolution of federal authority in health care and disinterest in enforcing the principles of the Canada Health Act.
“It’s quite shocking,” said Mike McBane, executive-director of the Canadian Health Coalition. “It sends a very clear signal that the Prime Minister would appoint someone who is ideologically committed to privatizing the delivery of the public health care system, someone who was aggressively involved in dismantling the Ontario health care system, in firing nurses and shutting down hospitals, and someone who’s an ideologue. He’s not someone who’s balanced and interested inevidence.” Ontario Health Coalition director Natalie Mehra said Canadians should be “deeply concerned,” given Clement’s support for the privatization and deregulation of long-term care facilities and for the creation of for-profit hospitals in Brantford and Ottawa, while serving as the province’s health minister from February/2001-October/2003. (1)
It's always interesting when I hear people say that Clement was praised for his handling of the SARS epidemic. That epidemic was a bit of a wake-up call for the arrogant Clement, because he looked around and asked "where are all the nurses?" Good question since he had fired them all.
And after candidly admitting that the public health system was “close to collapse.”
Critics duly noted the system’s deterioration was self-inflicted, as it had been gutted by Tory government measures that included laying off thousands of nurses, as well as turfing scientists in provincial health labs scant months after Clement assumed the portfolio. (1)The front line workers during the SARS epidemic, knew exactly who was to blame:
He scrambled to clean up his mess, throwing his weight around, but only history credits him with handling the crisis, instead of preventing it, or at least lessening it, when he had a chance.
As a union of front line providers, we can attest that the SARS outbreak was marked by chaos and confusion, inadequate resources and planning, and a determination to place economic interests above health and safety interests. Employers and government all too often excluded the input of workers. Such an outbreak was almost inevitable given the starvation of our health care system. Worse, we have seen little that gives us hope that the necessary changes are happening.
With the cutback of hospital beds and resources stretched to the limit, there has been a longstanding problem in Toronto hospitals with wait times in emergency rooms. So much so that the Toronto Emergency Medical Services has recently had to devise a new system for leaving patients in hospitals to ensure that ambulance paramedics can return to service in a reasonable amount of time.
As a result, during the outbreak it was not uncommon for paramedics to be required to wait for hours on end in their ambulance with a suspected SARS cases before being allowed to take the patient into emergency. Indeed, paramedics were often re-directed from a hospital unwilling to accept a suspected SARS patient. We are not convinced that the necessary improvements that are required in infection control have been made since the outbreak. Indeed, some negative practices are deepening. (2)
Clement always put corporations above people and loved the power of sticking it to those who were less fortunate. Growing up Anthony Payani, raised by a single mom, I don't think he was terribly affluent. But then when his mother married former Ontario Attorney General John Clement, suddenly he was royalty who could snub his nose at everyone.
In 2002, he announced that MRI's would be available to those with money, so they wouldn't have to wait in line with the peasants.
Later that year he went to Banff where he plugged private health care. The only thing he left out were the facts:
The Ontario Health Coalition reacted with outrage over Health Minister Tony Clement’s announcement of the opening of for-profit bidding on 25 MRI and CT scan machines for Ontario. With this announcement, the provincial government has made clear its intention to take non-profit public hospital services and fund for profit corporations to provide them in private clinics.
“Stubbornly clinging to an ideological approach with no public mandate and no outcome-based evidence, the provincial government is risking the future of our public Medicare system and must be stopped,” said Irene Harris, coalition co chair. “We view this announcement as an extremely grave threat to the future of our Public Medicare system and will respond in kind.” - The Minister still has not justified creating for-profit cancer treatment at Sunnybrook Hospital in the face of a Provincial Auditor’s report that found that the for-profit treatment was more expensive and that waiting lists had not changed. (3)
Since it got into government the Ontario PC party [under Mike Harris] has radically altered the balance of public not for profit and private for-profit control of Ontario's health system: approx. 90% of Ontario's laboratory sector is now controlled by a private sector oligopoly of three companies: MDS, Gamma Dynacare (recently bought by Lab Corp), and Canadian Medical Laboratories.And he didn't do much better as federal minister of health. When it was discovered that several deaths were the result of the products Sleepees and Serenity Pills II, among the nearly 12,000 unapproved natural health products on the market, in Canada, W-Five ran the story.
The non profit Victorian Order of Nurses, VHA and Red Cross have closed programs and offices across the province as homecare has been handed over to for-profit corporations such as Bayshore Health Inc., Paramed, Bradson, ComCare, WeCare and others. The majority of Ontario's long term care beds are now controlled by for-profit companies as a result of the PC government's bed awards over the last several years. Several corporations are the big winners: the multinational giants Extendicare Inc. and Central Park Lodges, and domestics Leisureworld and Regency Care.
Cancer treatment is now offered for profit at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, through Canadian Radiation Oncology Services Ltd. Health Minister Tony Clement announced two for-profit hospitals to be built in Ottawa and Brampton with awards to private consortia to be announced in the new year.
.... The government has faced ceaseless complaints as more and more evidence is unearthed that residents' care levels in Ontario's long term care facilities are the poorest in Canada. The Provincial Auditor has found that profitised cancer treatment costs more and hasn't dented waiting lists. Private labs have taken the most profitable section of the service and left the most expensive to the public. (4)
W-FIVE requested several times to speak to Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement about the four cases of estazolam and Health Canada's enforcement measures, but our repeated requests were declined.When they tracked him down, on the run, he blamed it on the Liberals. Typical. When they were first elected their answer to everything was "thirteen years" referring to the length of time the Liberals had been in power before them. However, they didn't realize that at some point you have to change the channel. It wasn't until NDP Pat Martin pointed out that they were now part of that thirteen years, that they shut up.
1. Two-tier Tony Clement appointed new minister of health, Canadian Medical Association Journal, February 22, 2006
2. The Canadian Union of Public Employees Presentation to the Justice Archie Campbell Commission into the SARS Outbreak, September 30, 2003
3. For Profit MRIs and CT Scanners Extremely Grave Threat Ontario Health Coalition Warns of Public Response, Globe and Mail, July 8, 2002
4. Minister Clement's Semantics in Banff Will Disguise Fatal Poison Pill, Ontario Health Coalition, September 4, 2002
5. What's in the Pill, W-Five, CTV News, February 23, 2008
Still trying to win back favour in that province, Christian Paradis jumped in and restored the much needed funds. (Christian Paradis is on of the Conservative MPs involved in the "In and Out" scam, so we know he doesn't much believe in accountability either)
Ironically , there is some good coming out of the parliamentary crisis and continued threat to the Harper government.
Canadians are getting what they want simply because Harper and his gang don't want to lose their jobs.
However, I still worry about who's going to pay for all this, since recovery will be very slow once the recession is over. Flaherty still won't admit that cutting the GST was one of the most bone headed moves ever made by a finance minister, and Harper is huffing and puffing about not raising taxes.
I guess he has some magic wand we don't know about, because most Canadians realize that somewhere down the road our taxes are either going to have be raised or government spending will have to come to a halt. Flaherty was a personal injuries lawyer, the bottom of the food chain, and is ill equipped to handle an economy, let alone an economic crisis.
But for now, science in Canada won a small victory from a Party that clearly doesn't believe in science. Why else would they put Gary Goodyear in charge?
Observatory gets funding restored
Canwest News Service
April 16, 2009
A decision by the Conservative government to restore funding to the largest astronomical observatory in eastern North America received a qualified welcome from the Liberals on Wednesday.
The Mont-Mégantic Observatory, near Sherbrooke, Que., was facing cuts of $325,000 to its annual operating budget.
However, after complaints from the community and opposition MPs, the government of Prime Minister Stephen reversed the cuts on Wednesday. (Was this a Freudian slip? Others are referring to Harper as 'King Stephen', since he has put an end to democracy in this country, and now he is simply referred to as PM Stephen. Ha ha.)
Liberal MP Marc Garneau, a former astronaut and head of the Canadian Space Agency, approved of the restored funding, but said the cuts were indicative of the Conservatives' "inability to grasp the importance of these investments (in science and research)."
Before the cuts were reversed, Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe said the Conservatives were "attacking science."
Duceppe noted that MP Christian Paradis, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Quebec lieutenant, had been informed of the cuts from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council even though the observatory was in his own riding of Mégantic-L'Erable.
The observatory is owned by Université de Montréal and Université Laval, and it has an annual budget of $1 million. It has had a role in developing new astronomy techniques and is considered this country's best telescope for training astronomers.
Back to - The Christian Paradis Story: Maybe There's a Scandal and Maybe there Isn't
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Instead she took a runner and actually went missing for two weeks. Was she again simply doing as she was told by the boys in the backroom, or was she just too frightened to 'stand up for Canada'?
Like most Conservative MPs she actually believes that she works for Stephen Harper and not the people who put her in office.
Now her name will always be synonymous with censorship, and I don't really believe that's who she is. Too late though. The damage has been done.
Where in the world is Josée Verner?
August 14, 2008
I think it’s safe to presume the Tories’ sweeping cuts to arts funding in Canada haven’t gone over quite as well as the Harper government had hoped. Sure, the National Post gave the cuts its predictable thumbs-up, but the government’s explanations have such gaping holes in them, it’s been hard to take any of them seriously.
Now, you’d think a government minister—perhaps even the one responsible for the erstwhile programs—would step up to clear the air. Fat chance. Heritage Minister Josée Verner’s been nowhere to be found, and her communications staff has been told not to answer questions from journalists.
Which brings us back to a fundamental question about the way ministers are selected in this government (and, perhaps, this country): Is Josée Verner’s job to be a decision-making, program-shaping, full-fledged cabinet minister? Or is it to be a Quebecer where there are too few?
So long as the Conservatives aren’t 100% sure they’ve got Mario Dumont’s base sewn up, it appears they’ll keep trotting out Quebecers at meaningless photo-ops to somehow prove they’re not like those other conservatives—you know, the ones that wouldn’t run candidates in the province—all while simultaneously barring them from doing anything that might resemble governing. At this rate, you’ll know an election is looming when Harper names a cardboard cut-out of Camille Laurin to take over inter-governmental affairs from Rona Ambrose. (Of course, he’ll have to name the cut-out to the Senate first.)
UPDATE: I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Verner did indeed grant CP’s French-language service an interview yesterday. According to the heritage minister, the true beneficiaries of the cuts are—wait for it—the artists! “What we’re hoping to do,” Verner said, “is to look at how we could create a new program or new avenues that will be even more effective and have a stronger impact for our culture outside the country.” (Wonder who wrote that? It sure wasn't Josee, because I'm convinced she doesn't believe in that tripe)
She also found time for a photo-op.
The Bloc is reenergized, quick to respond and has yet to see a microphone that it doesn’t want to inhale. The Conservatives, not so much. After dodging debates and reporters for two weeks, and enduring the ensuing fury, Canadian Heritage Minister Josée Verner cobbled together seven other Quebec City-area candidates and launched one of the more bizarre press conferences I’ve ever witnessed. She read from a script as the other candidates bobble-headed their approval and a group of protesters outside banged on the windows. Without exception, Verner spoke in vague generalities: “We need to elect deputies who can deliver the merchandise”; “We go beyond platforms”; “We are going to work with our partners”; and so on…
-Not surprisingly, the Conservatives are on their heels in the region. The issue of cuts to culture is stuck in the headlines and Conservative candidates can’t walk ten feet without being asked about them. Inevitably, these candidates answer in vague generalities (see above), so people keep asking about them. There’s a moral in here somewhere. (Harper has turned poor Josee into another talking head)
Mind you she's still smitten with her 'boss', apparently even asking him to sign her copy of the throne speech. Though apparently she didn't even vote Conservative.
This is probably my favourite news item of the day so far: Heritage Minister Josée Verner doesn’t vote Conservative.
Rather than voting in the riding where she’s running for a seat (Louis-Saint-Laurent), like most politicians do, Verner voted in Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier, where she lives. Apparently, Verner was unaware that, as an incumbent MP, she is allowed to vote in the riding she represents.
The kicker is that the Conservatives aren’t even running a candidate in Portneuf—that’s André Arthur territory. (So who did she vote for?)
Monday, July 27, 2009
She was a Conservative now and in the Conservative Party women are mere window dressing. If they wanted an MP to work for them, they should have voted for the Bloc, Liberals, Green or NDP, where women still have a voice.
Then she immediately left to make sandwiches because she heard the boys were getting hungry and they got down right cranky if they didn't get their lunch on time.
Heritage minister grilled over C-10
Bill gets month-long scrutiny at Senate committee
April 04, 2008
It's a Senate committee that rarely receives a lot of attention. But on Apr 2 it was a packed house. Heritage Minister Josée Verner was defending C-10, a bill that would give the minister the power to deny tax credits to controversial films. Because the clause appears in the middle of hundreds of pages of income tax amendments, it was the Senate's banking committee that called Verner to testify.
It's a group that usually flies under the radar. This time however, the gallery was packed and two extra rooms were opened with live video feed of the proceedings. Verner arrived 10 minutes late and left before each senator could ask a question. lanked by four senior bureaucrats, Verner's voice shook slightly as she read from a prepared statement. (The big boys were there making sure she behaved.)
The 13-word clause would give the minister the discretionary power to decide if "public financial support of the production would not be contrary to public policy" and the ability to deny production companies Canadian Content tax credits on that basis.
Verner tried to explain the bill as closing "a loophole" that theoretically would allow illegal material like hate speech and kiddie porn to quality for the credit."The policy rationale for the 'contrary to public policy' provision is quite simple," she said. "It would ensure that the government has the ability, in exceptional circumstances, to exclude from public support certain material, material that is potentially illegal under the Criminal Code, such as indecent material, hate propaganda and child pornography." (They already had that power. You need new writers Josee)
During questioning, Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette pressed Verner about the vagueness of the provision. Canadian filmmakers have warned that if the tax credits are uncertain, financing for films could evaporate."Why not list the prohibited material in the bill — child pornography, hate propaganda?" she asked in French.
Artists oppose the bill because they argue it is tantamount to government censorship. Director David Cronenberg told Xtra that he is worried about the bill because the minister of heritage's "version of what is acceptable or not is going to be subject to nothing because the guidelines are so vague."
Although the senator's comments were largely tempered, Verner repeatedly pointed out that the proposed ministerial power was first introduced under the Chrétien government in 2002. A similar provision has existed as policy — rather than law — since the Canadian Content tax law was first introduced."
Despite what you may have read or heard," Verner said, "the 'contrary to public policy' test is not a new concept. It has been part of the tax credit landscape since its inception in 1995 through income tax regulations."As a regulation, it's been used twice in the last seven years, once in 2002 and once in 2007. Both were related to porn, which is already excluded from receiving the tax benefit. (So why do we need a new bill just because Charles McVety wanted it?)
Meanwhile, the banking committee has quietly scheduled at least two weeks of witness testimony on the film clause. On the list is actor and director Sarah Polley, who will appear before the committee Apr 10.
That means that a clause-by-clause analysis of the bill — which is hundreds of pages long — may not happen until the end of April, at the earliest. The opposition-dominated committee could postpone deliberating on the bill for months if it chooses. (An illegal election thwarted the bill, but it got buried in the last budget.)
Bill C-10 an 'absolute catastrophe': Cronenberg
Bill to censor 'offensive' film and TV shows
March 13, 2008
Perhaps there aren't too many people who have experienced censorship personally, but I have," says David Cronenberg, one of Canada's preeminent filmmakers.
"It ends up being one person suppressing the expression of another. However you slice it, it's always subjective and it's always maddening and it's always personal.
"The director of such iconoclastic films as the Oscar-nominated Eastern Promises and The Brood leads a chorus of outrage from artists, film industry insiders, and opposition MPs and senators against the Conservative government's Bill C-10.
The bill, which is actually an omnibus bill containing hundreds of amendments to the Income Tax Act, also contains a 13-word clause which will give the Ministry of Canadian Heritage power to deny crucial tax credits to any Canadian film or TV production deemed "contrary to public policy.
"The bill is currently between second and third reading in the Senate, being studied by the Senate's Banking, Trade and Commerce committee."Thankfully the bill is still in front of a Senate committee that can give this important issue the close scrutiny it deserves," says Liberal Senate leader Céline Hervieux-Payette.
"If necessary, we will not hesitate to offer amendments to ensure the tax code is not abused in this manner."If the Liberal-dominated committee decides to amend C-10, the bill will be sent back to the House of Commons for approval."We are concerned that if Bill C-10 is allowed to pass in its current form, the way will be paved for the use of Canada's tax system as a de facto censor of film and video production in Canada," Hervieux-Payette says.
In response to the criticism, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage issued a press release Mar 3. "Bill C-10 has nothing to do with censorship and everything to do with the integrity of the tax system. The goal is to ensure public trust in how tax dollars are spent," the press release states."Under the current rules, the creator of a film that includes content that may be subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code could technically still be eligible for a film tax credit under the Income Tax Act," the press release explains.
"This is a legal absurdity; a loophole that successive governments — first Liberal, then Conservative — have worked to close. This is a matter of good housekeeping, consistent with previous policy and what is done in other cultural sectors."
"Ironically, even though the government is talking about tax-credit housekeeping and trying to trivialize this bill, it is in essence giving the power of censorship to one person, the Minister of Heritage," counters Cronenberg. "And her version of what is acceptable or not is going to be subject to nothing because the guidelines are so vague."
Jim Abbott, Conservative MP for Kootenay-Columbia and Parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, told the House of Commons Mar 5 that guidelines for the bill have yet to be drafted. "They cannot exist before Bill C-10 is passed. There are simply no guidelines to provide. When Bill C-10 is passed, we will be holding consultations," he promised.
But Abbotsford Conservative MP Ed Fast hinted at the guidelines' direction. "Throughout the years most federal funding programs that support cultural works have included guidelines stating that certain materials, such as hate propaganda, excessively violent material, or pornography, are not eligible for government assistance.
In the same way, Bill C-10 addresses only the most extreme and objectionable of film and video productions," he told the House Mar 5."We simply want to ensure that public funds, in other words taxpayers' hard earned dollars, are not invested in productions which are highly objectionable and offensive in their content," he said, adding that privately funded films won't be affected.
"I've made five features that have received tax credits," says queer filmmaker John Greyson, director of Proteus, Uncut and Lilies, "and I'm pleased to say they've all managed to offend someone. That's my job description. I certainly hope they offend Stephen Harper and everything he stands for. But does that give him the right to shut me down?"
The proposed changes had rightwing evangelical Charles McVety crowing. The president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, which promotes the idea that homosexuality can be "cured," publicly claimed his lobbying of cabinet ministers and officials in the prime minister's office helped push the government toward a new moral offensive to promote "conservative values." Officials at Canadian Heritage and other ministries deny meeting with McVety.
Film and television insiders maintain that even if a small number of productions are targeted, the impact on the $4.8-billion industry will be devastating — already there have been news reports in the US media about a possible censorship chill in Canada.
The Board of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, the Directors Guild of Canada and the performers' union ACTRA are all opposed to the bill."
All filmmaking in Canada is independent filmmaking," Cronenberg explains. "We don't have studios here with their own financial backing. When you are trying to produce a movie in Canada you have to put together a patchwork of financing that involves distribution advances in many countries, private investors possibly, and investment from bodies like Telefilm, government funding bodies.
All of that is incredibly volatile. Things keep falling out; it's like juggling 20 balls at once. And the stable platform that a Canadian producer depends on is government funding — that is the least volatile, the most stable. And what this bill does is to destabilize that platform."
If Bill C-10 passes unamended, the ministry could deny tax credits at any point in the production schedule, resulting in what Cronenberg calls, "an absolute catastrophe to all the investors in the film because the whole thing would fall apart like a house of cards."
The lack of guidelines makes him even more nervous. "They're putting a lot into us giving them censorship powers... to later be discussed? That just indicates what I was saying. It's of the moment, at the whim of politics and personal taste," he claims.
Citing the famous aphorism that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, Cronenberg calls the fight against censorship "a constant struggle." "It's not going to go away. I remember we were fighting Bill C-53 many years ago in the Mulroney era. That bill was defeated. But it keeps coming back because there will always be people who want to impose their sensibility on everybody else," he says.
More to the story:
Josee Verner Minister of Censorship
Minister 'surprised' by Lee's ire
Charles McVety has all the power
When they asked her to sell the country on censorship, she again brought the 'Cheer'; yelling 'give me a 'B' ... give me an 'i' ... give me an 'l', give me another 'l' ...now how about a 'C' and a '10'?
But poor little Josee. Darned if her cover wasn't blown by a big bad old senator who admitted she hated the bill, but was willing to be the head cheerleader anyway.
And of course other gals like Helena Guergis and Rhona Ambrose joined the pyramid, before serving sandwiches and cookies to the boys. Giggle .. giggle.
The above may be tongue in cheek, but what is wrong with the women in the Conservative Party? Did they really get into politics to do as they were told? If Ms Verner didn't like the bill, why didn't she just say so? Instead she hid from reporters, hoping no one would find her.
What a disgrace. How can they possibly encourage young women to consider a career in politics, when they've allowed themselves to be nothing more than human props?
Heritage minister 'hates' C-10, says Conservative senator
Senator caught on tape after he forgot to turn off his microphone during committee
April 10, 2008
Heritage Minister Josée Verner "hates" Bill C-10, a Conservative senator was caught on tape saying in committee Apr 10.Senator David Angus' comments were recorded by C-PAC at the Senate's banking committee, which is studying a controversial clause within Bill C-10 that would revoke tax credits for films that are "contrary to public policy."
Angus called for a two-minute break between hearings around noon Apr 10, but for a short time after he adjourned the meeting, Angus' microphone was left on. His conversation with an unidentified man was broadcast over the Senate's live internet audio feed.
"The government has to bite the bullet," he was heard saying. "The minister agrees, she told me she hates the law." Angus was heard on the internet audio feed for another few seconds before his microphone was cut off, but his comments were hard to make out.
Representatives from Verner and Angus' offices were quick to downplay the claims."He's wrong," says a spokesperson for Verner, reached at the minister's office. The minister herself had no comment when contacted by xtra.ca.
A representative for Angus defended the senator. "The context is that I don't think that anyone realized it was going to cause such a controversy," he says. "Probably the minister is just tired of dealing with the bill."
Bill C-10 passed through the House of Commons last fall in one day, with unanimous support from all parties. But when news broke in February that the bill contained a clause that amounts to censorship, arts groups and opposition MPs were outraged. The Ministry of Canadian Heritage has been on the defensive since then.
Verner appeared before the Senate committee Apr 2 to defend the bill, saying that it would close "a loophole" that theoretically would allow illegal material like hate speech and kiddie porn to qualify for the credit.
She repeatedly tried to pass the buck to the Liberals, since an earlier version of the film clause appeared in several bills between 2002 and 2006.
Witnesses at the Senate committee Apr 10 said the bill would discourage banks from financing edgy film and television productions, because tax credits are awarded late in the production process. "The very existence of such provisions creates financial uncertainty," said Sandra Cunningham of the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association.
Most witnesses have called on senators to remove the "contrary to public policy" section of the bill, or at least establish the guidelines before the bill is passed. As it stands, the specific guidelines are not contained in C-10, and would be open for change at the whim of the ministry of heritage.
"We have already seen that there has been enormous controversy and censure of some of the most important Canadian films ever made," said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Apr 9. "There were calls not to fund films about abortion and gay youth.
Should these too have been suppressed in the name of public policy?"
"If we give the government a free hand to pick off certain movies and chill our artists, how many more innovative films on controversial topics will get made?"
The Senate committee will hear two more days of witnesses' testimony Apr 16-17. Among them is Charles McVety, the founder of rightwing group Canada Family Action Coalition, which promotes the idea that homosexuality can be "cured." Last month, McVety took credit for the clause, saying it represents conservative values.
More postings on Josee Verner:
1. Josee Verner Involved in "In and Out" Scam and Alleged Cover Up
2. Luc Harvey Was Right. Josee Verner Did Take a Runner
3. Josee Verner is Coached and Programmed on Bill C-10
4. Luc Harvey Blames Josee Verner For Problems in Quebec
5. Josee Verner Says 'You'll Watch What I Tell You to Watch'
That's not really fair because while she is definitely inept as an MP, I think the problems with Quebec are a great many things, including the abysmal attack on Francophones during the Parliamentary crisis, and the fact that this government just doesn't understand their culture.
I'm hoping recent attack ads on he Bloc, backfire. I believe that Quebecers are smarter than that, and the latest round of Harper poison went too far.
PM Harper needs to 'patch things up' with Charest
And former Quebec Tory MP Luc Harvey blames Josée Verner in part for party's poor showing.
By Harris MacLeod
The Hill Times,
April 27, 2009
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's polling numbers are dropping dramatically in Quebec, but if the Conservatives hope to have any kind of a future in the province they need to "patch things up" with Premier Jean Charest's provincial Liberals, says a leading expert on Quebec politics.
Antonia Maioni, a political science professor at McGill University, said the Conservatives made a "strategic error" by relying so heavily on the ADQ. She said they not only misjudged the depth of support for the ADQ, but they also overestimated the scale of the party's campaign machine. Prof. Maioni said that if the Conservatives hope to have any kind of a future in Quebec then they need to "patch things up" with the provincial Liberals, led by Premier Jean Charest ...
However, her defense of arbitrary Bill C-210, sure shows her inadequacies.
This got buried in the last budget, courtesy of Harper's pal, Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, who taught them all the dirty tricks he knows, and believe me, he's a master.
Pierre Poilievre had a little rendezvous with the man to learn how to pretend to have an Accountability Act, while hosing taxpayers, and look how well that's going.
Six Questions: Sex, Tax and Bill C-10
April 30, 2008
In February 2008, members of the Canadian film and TV industry publicly denounced amendments to the Income Tax Act contained in Bill C-10, Dlabeling them "censorship." Director David Cronenberg was quoted in Xtra.ca, an online magazine, as calling the provisions an assault on freedom of expression, and the source of potential catastrophe to financing a film "because the whole thing would fall apart like a house of cards." Minister of Canadian Heritage Josée Verner rebuffed the censorship claims, asserting that Bill C-10 has nothing to do with censorship and its goal "is to ensure public trust in how tax dollars are spent."
Why the fuss? This six-question primer covers key and background points in the current controversy over Bill C-10.
Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act, amends the definition of "Canadian film or video production certificate" in subsection 125.4(1) of the Income Tax Act. A production must receive a Canadian film or video production certificate in order to qualify for certain federal tax credits administered by the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO).
Under the changes, a "Canadian film or video production certificate" will mean a certificate issued in respect of a production by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, certifying that the production is a Canadian film or video production in respect of which that minister is satisfied that certain criteria have been met concerning revenue share, and that "public financial support of the production would not be contrary to public policy [emphasis added]." This ‘public policy’ provision is the source of the controversy.
The heritage minister has stated that Bill C-10’s public policy provision will address "only the most extreme and gratuitous material." News reports speculate that criteria for denying tax credits could include grounds such as gratuitous violence, excessive sex, significant sexual content that lacks an educational purpose, or denigration of an identifiable group.
In fact, the language of Bill C-10 provides no explanation of the criteria according to which a film could be considered, in the heritage minister’s discretion, "contrary to public policy." Bill C-10 also provides that the heritage minister shall issue guidelines under which a film or video production would satisfy the criteria. The bill expressly states that the guidelines will not be statutory instruments under the Statutory Instruments Act (and therefore not governed by the process of review and public comment afforded to regulations).
At the time of writing of this article, the heritage minister had not released any guidelines nor given precise indications of their content, despite urging from members of the film and TV industry.
On April 2, 2008, the Department of Finance reportedly argued, before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, that the criteria for offensive film and TV productions should not be included in the legislation or its regulations — the court could void regulations due to vagueness but were likely to be more lenient with criteria contained in guidelines.
Minister of Canadian Heritage Josée Verner (now James Moore. I have no idea what Josee is doing these days but it doesn't appear to be much) also appeared before the Senate banking committee, stating that Canadian Heritage would not apply the public policy provision until 12 months after Bill C-10 received royal assent. In addition, she invited input from the film and TV industry on the development of the guidelines. Members of the industry have subsequently voiced concerns about being involved in the development of censorship guidelines, since they are opposed to their very concept.
The bill was passed by the House of Commons with all-party support (hidden in the budget) on October 29, 2007. It received its second reading in the Senate on December 4, 2007. At the time of writing this article, the Senate banking committee was conducting hearings on Bill C-10, and concerned parties were appearing before the committee.
The bill must undergo its third and final reading in the Senate. The Senate banking committee delayed a third and final reading of Bill C-10 in late February 2008, when public criticism of the bill erupted, putting the matter on hold until April 2008.
Objectors within the industry include a wide range of groups and individuals, including directors, actors and politicians who have publicly voiced opposition to the bill. Groups expressing concern or lobbying to challenge the bill include ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the Writers Guild of Canada, the Directors Guild of Canada, and the Canadian Film and Television Production Association.
A similar "public policy" provision was proposed in draft regulations to the Income Tax Act in 2003 by then Liberal Heritage Minister Sheila Copps. Ms. Copps was quoted in various press reports as explaining that the intention of her proposed provisions was to establish "reverse onus" for producers of extremely objectionable material, and to give the heritage minister discretion to prevent a film from receiving a tax credit in extreme cases.
The 2003 proposal arose in response to the film Karla about the lives of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, and the hypothetical scenario where a film such as Karla might be eligible for tax credits had it been produced in Canada. However, the Income Tax Regulations enacted in 2005 did not contain the provision granting ministerial discretion to deny tax credits to films considered contrary to public policy.
The motivation for the Conservative government’s inclusion of the public policy provision in Bill C-10 is unclear. Traditionally, the tax credits have been highly labour-driven, designed to encourage producers to hire Canadians using relatively objective criteria that award points to a production based on Canadians hired for key positions. Current regulations already exclude content such as pornography, news, reality television, game shows, talk shows, corporate video and advertising.
The affected federal tax credits are not the only source of funding available to film and TV producers. Other direct and indirect sources are available from federal, provincial and private sources, including Telefilm Canada (also administered under Canadian Heritage), banks, provincial tax credit programs and other private financiers. Practically, however, CAVCO tax credits and Canadian Program certification are often critical components to secure funding for Canadian productions. Consider that:
Domestic film and TV productions typically apply and may obtain subsidies at the script stage, but refundable tax credits are subsequently applied for and received after completion of principal photography.
Domestic productions often rely on funding from more than one source. Other sources of funding may base their funds or advances to the producer on the expectation or condition that the federal tax credit and certification as a Canadian Program by CAVCO will be received.
A producer (or financiers) therefore will not know if a production is unacceptable until after it has been shot, monies have been spent and the reviewing committee has reviewed the film and rendered a decision, should it choose to do so.
Producers who are denied tax credits could face a great risk of exposure to repay financiers whose grants or advances (e.g., Telefilm Canada, bank and distribution advances, etc.) were based on anticipated tax credits. This could potentially result in business or personal bankruptcy for the producer.
The public policy provision may not affect foreign productions shooting in Canada that receive CAVCO-administered federal tax credits but are not considered "Canadian" productions. Canadian Heritage representatives have argued that such tax credits are intended to encourage investment based on spending in Canada and not on content.
Supporters of the public policy provision claim it is only fair that public monies not be used to support the production of offensive content, and that nothing stops producers of such content from making their projects using other funding.
Opponents of the amendments raise numerous concerns, including:
the importance of the tax credit and Canadian program certification to financing arrangements;
the lack of clarity about who will decide what norms are "contrary to public policy";
the lack of guidelines or criteria;
the discretionary nature of how review and decisions will be exercised;
the volatile and practical effect of the timing and subjectivity of decisions;
the resulting inability of producers to secure adequate financing for their productions; and, of course,
the aftertaste of censorship.
Banks may be discouraged from providing the necessary loans to edgier, riskier productions if the projects may not be eligible for the tax credits on such subjective terms.
If the guidelines are put in place, some opponents argue self-censorship will result — writers and producers will write to the guidelines in order to ensure tax credits are received so the production can be made. Either way, they argue, the end result may be a freeze on the artistic expression of edgy, unique Canadian voices in film and TV.
Bill C-10 may be law but our fight isn't over
Public Service Alliance of Canada
March 13, 2009
Our parliamentary democracy continues to be tarnished with the passage into law of another Conservative omnibus budget bill. Unable to accept their position as a minority government, the Conservatives have chosen, once again, to ram through legislation completely unrelated to the budget without time for proper scrutiny.
Bill C-10 is full of poison pills including wage roll-backs, a new pay equity law for federal public sector workers that is anything but, watered down environmental protection of our navigable waters and considerable loosening of foreign investment limits, among many other changes.
At the same time, the budget and its stimulus measures provide virtually no help for social infrastructure such as child care or for industries and jobs that are not “shovel ready”.
The Conservatives' callous use of the unemployed to get its budget bill passed – the extra five week's of benefits only become effective once the bill becomes law – is reprehensible, as is their refusal to fix the system to allow more workers, particularly women, to access the benefits they have been paying for and to provide a reasonable level of benefits. They even reinforced this position when they recently voted against an opposition motion to improve EI. The motion passed but the government will take no action.
The Harper government had a choice. They could have introduced a budget that was just a budget. There was absolutely no reason to include such a wide range of legislative changes in the budget bill, changes that would normally have been introduced as separate pieces of legislation with sufficient time for proper scrutiny by the House of Commons and the Senate. Instead the Conservatives chose to abuse our parliamentary democracy.
More than 550 pages of a bill have been given Royal Assent and have become law. I doubt very few of our MPs and Senators can tell you the extent of Bill C-10, much less what impact it will have on us, our economy, our environment and our country.
C-10 became law but not without a valiant effort by our members and staff who met with, phoned, e-mailed and petitioned both MPs and Senators; who demonstrated and made their opposition known; who joined with women's groups, the unemployed and other concerned citizens to protest against the ugliest features of this bill. I thank you for everything that you have done.
PSAC will continue its fight against unjust legislation. Challenging bad law in the courts is one avenue. But legal action isn't enough. We all need to talk to our family, friends and neighbours and to connect with others in our community who believe that what this government is doing is unjust and undemocratic. We need to continue the pressure on our MPs to bring them to account. We need to be prepared for the next election. And we need to start this now.
John GordonPSAC National President