Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stockwell Day's Dreams Are Becoming Our Nightmares

When Stephen Harper named Stockwell Day to the Treasury, there was a clear message. Look out.

Every progressive organization founded within the last 50 years would be targeted. He never believed in sex education or planned parenthood, so to learn that that organization just lost 99% of it's funding, should come as no surprise. This must be the backroom deal Dean Del Mastro was talking about, to end abortion.

The forces of evil now residing on Parliament Hill; headed up by the devil incarnate and his lap dog, are unleashing their wrath; so you'd better run for cover. These guys are not only nuts, but represent the worst of religious fundamentalism.

If it isn't in the old testament, it ain't happening. Welcome to social conservatism 101 and hang onto your hats, because it's going to a bumpy ride.

Ottawa cuts funding for CFSH
January 30, 2010
Paul Tuns Editor

The federation, formerly the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada and still the Canadian member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, has charitable status, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.

The CFSH says on its website that it “promote(s) sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and abroad.” It also admits being a “pro-choice organization.” Its member affiliates, which operate in all 10 provinces, provide sex information, contraception and abortion referrals; according to REAL Women of Canada, it is the leading abortion referral service in Canada ....

Did You See That? Was it the Flash of a Lightbulb Moment?

I have posted on this subject many times, and have been trying to sound the alarm; but the media appears to be asleep at the wheel.

They are drooling over Jim Flaherty's promises to balance the books, something no self-respecting neocon would ever do.

Record deficits are a dream come true.

Today someone sent me an article that is a few months old, but again points to the disaster that Flaherty has created in our once sound banking system.

Now don't worry; our actual banks are not at risk. Jimmy made sure of that. It's the Canadian taxpayer who will wear this mess. The banks were too smart to enter into this nightmare.

And David Dodge, head of the Bank of Canada is already sounding the alarm on this risky venture.

So to refresh your memory:

In May I posted this: Did Jim Flaherty Put Canadian Mortgage Industry at Risk?

In the first half of this year, as the subprime mortgage crisis was exploding in the United States, a contagion of U.S.-style lending practices quietly crossed the border and infected Canada's previously prudent mortgage regime.

The mushrooming of a Canadian version of subprime mortgages has gone largely unnoticed. The Conservative government finally banned the practice last summer, after repeated warnings from frustrated senior officials and bankers that the country's financial system was being exposed to far too much risk as the housing market weakened.

Just yesterday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty repeated the mantra that the government acted early to get rid of risky mortgages. What he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper do not explain, however, is that the expansion of zero-down, 40-year mortgages began with measures contained in the first Conservative budget in May of 2006.

In June I posted this: Has Jim Flaherty's Poor Judgement Come Back to Haunt Us?

Michael Gregory, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets said it was likely more than 150,000 households in Canada were experiencing some degree of stress in meeting consumer debt repayments." ... Mortgage delinquencies have also risen.

In October I posted this: Has Jim Flaherty Put Us on the Brink of Collapse?

What do the mid-recession housing boom and the Harper Conservatives' rise in the polls have in common? Answer: the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's massive sub-prime mortgage scheme that is keeping up the appearance of an economic recovery ... But what few Canadians realize is that the housing market has avoided collapse because the Harper Conservatives directed the CMHC to change the mortgage rules to effectively make the Canadian government the biggest sub-prime lender in the world.

What's almost as alarming as this reckless policy is that no one in the financial media is talking about it, even though everyone knows the facts. ... The facts are that over 90 per cent of existing mortgages in Canada are "securitized." That is the practice of pooling mortgages (or other assets) and then issuing new securities backed by the pool ... That's what happened with the sub-prime mortgages in the U.S.

Credit is still tight in the U.S. because no private investor has the stomach for such risky MBSs. That's because those losses were private and not back-stopped by any government. "In order to find buyers for securitized mortgage pools, the government of Canada has put guarantees on them" by directing CMHC to guarantee all Canadian mortgages.

By the end of 2007 there were $138 billion in NHA securitized pools outstanding and guaranteed by CMHC --17.8 per cent of all outstanding mortgages. By June 30, 2009, that figure was $290 billion, a figure Lepoidevin (David Lepoidevin, a financial advisor with National Bank Financial) says, "exceeds the total value of mortgages offered by CMHC in its 57 years of existence!"

And I also posted this: More on Jim Flaherty's Secretive Bailout of Our Financial Sector

The federal government has quietly given Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. more financial muscle, raising concerns the multibillion-dollar agency is expanding at an unprecedented pace with little oversight.

For the second time since the beginning of 2008, Ottawa has raised the amount of mortgage insurance CMHC can have outstanding. The increase moves the cap to $600-billion, up from $450-billion and nearly double the $350-billion limit in place at the end of 2007.

CMHC is by far the largest provider in Canada of default insurance on mortgages, which home buyers are legally required to have if their down payment is smaller than 20 per cent. As home prices rise and smaller down payments become the norm, CMHC is selling more insurance each year.

And Now From the November's Financial Post: Canada's (Sub-Prime) Mortgage Market - Causing Concern for the Bank of Canada?

Part of the responsibility for this trend is being put at the feet of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC). This government entity is considered by critics to be the Canadian equivalent of Fannie Mae in that its practices are thought to be provoking a rise in lending that could spell trouble for the Canadian real estate market in the future.

This practice was brought about in part by the directive of the federal government to CMHC to effectively "hit the gas" and ensure that mortgage credit was accessible. The theory goes something like this: banks can continue making extended amortization loans to provide prospective homeowners the ability to get into an overheated Canadian housing market because the default risk is being transferred to the CMHC (taxpayers) since it acts as a guarantor for the mortgage market.

We have got to get Flaherty's hands off our money before it's too late. This government has not piloted us through the recession, but instead has put us all aboard the Titanic.

To All Media Out There Trying to Spin the Tax Issue: A Pox on Your Houses!

I think that many in the media have now outlived their usefulness. They would do much better hosting a reality show, because clearly few have the ability to think and speak, or think and write; at the same time.

Smarten Up!

There's a reason that the National Post went bankrupt, because they became nothing more than a PR firm for the Reform movement.

This is not about partisan politics. This is about Canadians. We are smart. We know that while we hate to pay taxes, they are the price we pay for the life we have.

If you don't get that, step aside. Consider yourselves prorogued.

Glenn Pearson wrote several months ago, about our current media and their fixation on sensationalism.

I recall when Ignatieff came to London following a visit to Cambridge, in which he stated no leader would be worthy of the name if he or she didn’t place the possibility of raising taxes on a long list of future considerations if a deficit couldn’t be brought under control.

Political staffers mulled around, worried that it would be taken out of context, which it inevitably was. Media had a field day with it. Ignatieff, suffering from a gruelling cold, sat in a chair prior to the event in London and wondered what became of honesty in the public space. The very next day in the House, Conservative members used every possible occasion to ridicule Ignatieff, calling him just another “tax and spend” Liberal. The media ate it up.

Well this week, the same thing happened. Gerard Kennedy was commenting on a poll suggesting that Canadians would support a hike in the GST, and holy cow. The media went nuts. 'Janie no brainie' on CTV is even running an entire segment on it.

She's got guests, including opposition members who are in some kind of trance. Their eyes are rolling in the back of their heads and they're frothing at the mouth.

She's got reporters on the ground with sobbing citizens and Jim Bob who swore he saw a UFO. She's even got a 99 year old man who thought the show was about stepping on tacks, so he peeled off his socks and showed her his scar.

Poor little Janie fainted from the excitement.


This is what really happened. And Janie if you are having trouble with the big words, please let me know. Fortunately, most Canadians are smarter than this so you can ask any one of us.

What Gerard Kennedy actually said
January 28, 2010 11:19 AM
Robert Silver

It is amazing what some creative YouTube editing, the maturity of a 12-year old and a strong disregard for intellectual honesty can do for you these days.

Tim says Gerard Kennedy, the Liberal infrastructure critic supports tax hikes. But it was the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that released a poll last week showing 70 per cent of Canadians would support a 1 per cent GST increase dedicated to local infrastructure repairs and upgrades with 43 per cent of Canadians strongly supporting the increase. ...

Update: Vulnerable Children and Why Stephen Harper Should Never Have Rewritten Our Foreign Policy

I posted the other day on Haiti, the Vulnerable Children and Why Stephen Harper Should Never Have Rewritten Our Foreign Policy. I have been concerned that since our aid workers are no longer allowed to include sexual exploitation or rape in their reports, that Canadians would not be aware of of the plight of some of the world's most vulnerable children; especially now. This in turn could mean that we won't demand that they are made a priority.

I have also questioned why so many soldiers, because at home, Harper is being hailed as a hero, but word on the ground is that it's looking more like an invasion and occupation than a relief mission.

Now, don't get me wrong. I know our soldiers are committed to helping, but is that the government's priority?

Ben Ehrenreich also raises the question Why Did We Focus on Securing Haiti Rather Than Helping Haitians? That is a very good question.

The Star has picked up the story, and I hope that others will follow. If they hoped to turn Harper's fortunes around, they should realize that Canadians are not that shallow. This story is excellent, because it speaks to the difficulty of maintaining order in a country that has been broken by U.S. foreign policy.

Haitian children kidnapped and sold, aid workers fear
January 30, 2010
Brett Popplewell Staff Reporter

PORT-AU-PRINCE–Kidnapped children. Multiple rapes. Gang violence. A burgeoning black market. And the unknown whereabouts of 4,000 criminals.

These are but a few of the problems overwhelming police and peacekeepers tasked with maintaining order in a post-apocalyptic Haiti. On Wednesday, the Star watched as a hungry mob turned violent when the World Food Program tried to dole out 1,266 bags of rice to the masses. Friday, the Star revisited the site and found some of those bags being sold at a marked up value of $40 a bag.

But of all illegal activities, the reported kidnappings of children, and the related fears they could be trafficked into the sex trade or sold into domestic servitude and international adoptions, is the only criminal activity that cannot be confirmed....

Thank You Ralph Surettes For Proving There Are a Few Good Journalists Left

There is a very good book available, possibly at your local library. (I bought mine used off

It was written by Trevor Harrison on the rise of Stockwell Day, entitled; REQUIEM FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT: Stockwell Day and Image Politics. You can read a review and the first chapter here.

I would have liked to have said the rise and fall of Stockwell Day, but since he is now poised to turn this country inside out; it could very well be us taking the fall.

However, what's interesting about Mr. Harrison's revelations, is the idea of image politics and the creation of a political leader. He wrote this before Stephen Harper and Danielle Smith were household names.

For all of the 'hype' about Stockwell Day's accomplishments by the various media, in the spring of 2000 he was an untested politician of modest accomplishments, a meager national profile, and enough controversial baggage to fill a Ryder truck. Yet, a few months later, he was leader of Canada's newest political party, a rising star in the new right firmament. How this came about is the question that sets in motion Trevor Harrison's Requiem for a Lightweight.

From his days as an Alberta politician, to the transformation of the Reform party into the Alliance party, to the high-point of Day's coronation as Alliance leader, to the 2000 federal election, to the debacles of early 2001 that shattered the Alliance dream: this book chronicles it all--the people, personalities, and politics.

The disastrous Goddard lawsuit that cost Alberta taxpayers roughly $800,000, and the series of very public gaffes that began Day's quick slide into political oblivion, is laid out in detail. The disenchantment directed at Day, the ongoing infighting within the party, the resignations leading up to the breakaway of eight MPs: nothing yet published anywhere has adequately put together this story, fascinating from start to finish.

Throughout, the question of media image is placed front and centre as this book explores the growing problem of rational democratic politics in an era of celebrity, image, and instant culture.

All of these statements could very well apply to Stephen Harper. Like Day he was nurtured by Conrad Black, moulded by the Calgary School and promoted by the Fraser Institute. They take someone with narcissistic qualities who will feed off the attention and power. It also may have been a plus in the case of Day and Harper, that they had strong religious convictions, so they wouldn't let things like scientific knowledge or common decency get in the way. And both of these men had extremist pasts, so wouldn't be afraid to get their hands dirty.

I call them political sociopaths.

I don't believe Danielle Smith fits, but as a journalist and television personality her views were always right-wing libertarian. Of note though, is that Pierre Poilievre is one of their creations, and though young now, he is definitely being groomed.

I often get angry with our media for allowing this to happen, but the fact is we helped. I have been noticing a bit of a change though as many are remembering why we found Stephen Harper scary in the first place; before the days of his taxpayer funded image consultants and $400.00 haircuts. We got a sense of his sinister side, and said not on your life.

But his rise to power was not so much because of him, but because of Adscam, that was founded by Brian Mulroney and capitalized on by the Liberal bureaucracy of the day.

I voted NDP in 2004 and 2006. I've now joined the Liberal team for the first time since Pierre Trudeau. But I'm a Canadian first and am now motivated to getting our country back, and making sure that we don't get blindsided by pure evil again. So pick a progressive team and make sure you vote, then hold their feet to the fire, to make sure they put us first.

Journalist Ralph Surettes, wrote an excellent piece for the Halifax ChronicleHerald, and while he took a lambasting for it judging by some of the comments, I'm so glad he was brave enough to say the things that need to be said. I hope more in the media will speak up.

When two of their numbers were held hostage by Stephen Harper the other day, one suggested that he had to write for his Harper supporters as well as sane Canadians. Could you please explain to me, how what happened to them, can be written off as unbiased reporting. In my day that was called kidnapping.

So my hats off to Mr. Surettes. I may just have to give him a Joe Canadian Award, for putting us first. I'm definitely going to email him, and thank him for his courage. You can too, here: .

Democracy under assault: time to wake up
January 30, 2010

I HATE to be grim, but there’s this gnawing question in the air: Is democracy in trouble? If so, what does it mean? In both Canada and the U.S., what’s transpiring is astonishing.

In Canada, Stephen Harper unilaterally shuts down Parliament with an astounding rationale: Parliament is just a bother, an impediment to doing real work, and people don’t care if it’s shut down. You’ll remember that this is the language used by generalissimos plotting coups: Democracy doesn’t work — it’s just a bunch of squabbling factions, scheming intellectuals and protesting students — so authoritarian measures are needed to break the logjam and get things done ....

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament: What Next?

When Christopher White started his Facebook group: Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, I don't think he had any idea that it would create such a groundswell of public support. (Membership now 221,089)

Naysayers can suggest that the media created the hype, or that it's a single issue group that will fade once the Parliament sits again; but I believe that something else has happened. It may have originated from our anger at the horrendous abuse of power, but it's fast becoming something more important. A vehicle for change.

And not just a change in government, but in the way this country is being governed. As the woman suggests in the song, we are taking our country back. And that seems to be a popular sentiment at CAPP. We're mad, and we're motivated, and we're not going to take it anymore.

We've got pollsters scratching their heads, uncomfortable with predicting what will happen next, but I say to them, just watch us.

Because this is not just a group of young people, bored and looking for something to do. Probably at least half of us, are older, and while I initially thought we might mentor the young pups, I've learned more from them, than I could possibly teach.

They are very engaged, and while they have difficulty connecting with politicians, they have very clear goals. This country may have taken a sharp right turn, but we're going to swing it back.

Stephen Harper has opened our eyes to just how fragile our democracy had become, so we now realize that we are the only ones who can change things. And we'll do that by demanding change. Not simply asking for it. If they want our vote they'll have to earn it.

This is OUR country. This is OUR government. Those are OUR Parliament buildings, and no matter who the next prime minister is, he will govern on OUR terms. We deserve nothing less.

Look at those people in the video. They will all be voting, and do you think they're going to vote Conservative? Not on your life.

So we are allowing politicians to strut their stuff, and we are encouraging people to donate to political parties and make sure they exercise their right to vote; but we are promoting all progressive parties, who will put us and this country first.

I'm sticking with Michael Ignatieff, and come election time I will work very hard on his behalf, but he will not get a free ride. CAPP is now the official opposition.

And we even made Wikipedia. How cool is that? And local newspapers in Conservative ridings are changing public opinion.

Facebook: not just a distraction for students, but a tool for organizing change
By Christopher White
January 18, 2010

As our prime minister put the breaks on a so-called democracy, what were the talking heads on the evening news and line-art sketched faces in newsprint saying? They were assuring us that we didn't care about prorogation while they busied themselves discussing the tactical brilliance of Mr. Harper's assault on democracy rather than the simple question of whether it was right or wrong.

We were told that we would forget about it and that we could look to a Conservative majority sometime after the Olympics. In the pre-social networking age they might have been right, but as over 200,000 Canadians have proven, even the experts can get it wrong.

Days after the announcement of the prorogue, I started a Facebook group, Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, with the simple idea of getting Canadians to write to their Members of Parliament and asking them to return to the Hill on January 25th, the day the session was set to resume. Honestly, I didn't actually think it would work.

Sure, I thought it would be great if we had a couple backbenchers showing up, but the best I had hoped for was to keep Mr. Harper's party south of that 40% threshold, humbling him to the will of the Canadian people. My action, however, has snowballed into a movement encompassing Canadians from across the country and the political spectrum.

Now we, the vocal majority, find ourselves to be the new power brokers in Ottawa. With rallies planned across Canada on January 23rd, all eyes will be on us. We are not, as the traditional thinking goes, an apathetic people. We care deeply about our country, but for too long the increasing cracks in our political system have made it seem beyond repair, leaving people feeling frustrated and disempowered.

Finally, we have an issue that unites us, one that we can wrap our heads around while keeping an eye on the eventual end game. This prorogation is far more than a matter of parliamentary procedure, it is emblematic of an institution that has turned its back on its people. We can stand outside and rage against the machine for as long as we like, or we can work together and take it apart, brick by brick and rebuild it anew....

James Travers Hits the Nail on the Head: Harper's Speech Was Rhetorical Hokum

Stephen Harper has embarrassed us many times on the world stage, but this was one time when he left me feeling incredibly sad.

I could be angry over Copenhagen but how do you deal with a prime minister who just effectively told other nations that they could bloody well look after themselves because he wasn't going to change course now. Then suggesting they should be guided by “enlightened self-interest”; who is this man? Absolutely no vision or compassion for anyone.

During his first visit to Afghanistan he told the troops that Canada was not an island. And yet he has spent the past four years trying to make us one.

From BusinessWeek:

Global Problem Solving? Stephen Harper Defends the Status Quo
Don Tapscott
January 29, 2010

Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s speech on Thursday in Davos was received well, many of the delegates that I spoke with told me they thought Harper’s vision was too blinkered.

With the conspicuous exception of global warming, Harper acknowledged that many challenges face the world, but told delegates that the two most appropriate arenas for discussion and decision making are the G8 and the G20. He described the latter as “the world’s premier forum for economic cooperation.” And each country should be guided by “enlightened self-interest” and a better “attitude.” ...

James Travers has a better interpretation of Stephen Harper's views: 'Rhetorical Hokum'.

Travers: PM fills political vacuum with rhetorical hokum
January 30, 2010

By suspending Parliament, Stephen Harper created one of those vacuums politics abhors. Now the Prime Minister is trying to fill it with promises that are puzzling at best, bizarre at worst.

Harper made news by sounding like a socialist in the first week that federal politicians were supposed to be back at work. At home, he discovered motherhood, pledging to put the world's women and babies front and centre at the G8 meeting Canada is to host this summer. Abroad, he lectured leaders roughing it in Davos, Switzerland, on the importance of applying "enlightened sovereignty" to problems without borders. ...

Two Days and Andrew Scheer Still Refuses to Explain

I posted the other day about Conservative Andrew Scheer's interview on a popular morning radio show.

He was questioning statements made by fellow CAPP member, Sarah MacDonald from Oman, and suggested that Mr. Harper's undemocratic move to name himself dictator, should not upset Canadians at all.

A dictatorship is very democratic, our Andy surmised, and he said that he would gladly explain it to us, if we would just take the time to contact him.

So I did.

Two days ago.

Does anyone know if Andy is out of the country and has no access to his email?

However, just in case he lost the last one, I sent him another today. I can't wait to hear from him. This is going to be good.
Hi. I emailed you after hearing your interview on Saskatchewan's morning show. You promised to debate anyone on the issue and were confident that you could explain Mr. Harper's justifications for something that appears to everyone to be naked self interest.

However, I have yet to hear back. Are you still looking them up?

As a Conservative you may applaud the move, but as an elected member of the House of Commons ... OUR House of Commons, I was hoping you could give me a non-partisan response, by putting on your other hat as deputy speaker of the House.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Update on Rob Nicholson's Criminal Behaviour

Rob Nicholson may have crossed the line in threatening the senate committee, but he jumped right over it when he posted a partisan attack on OUR Justice department website.

Yesterday, I shared the notice in it's entirety, and then informed members of CAPP. Others had done the same and many concerned citizens sent emails to the integrity commissioner.

The media also got wind of it, so Nicholson changed the heading from NEW SENATORS TO HELP END OPPOSITION OBSTRUCTION OF LAW-AND-ORDER BILLS to MINISTERS WELCOME NEW SENATORS TO HELP SUPPORT LAW-AND-ORDER BILLS. Who says ordinary citizens can't change things?

I just hope It doesn't end there. One of our members stated that he had worked as a public servant for 33 years, and has never seen anything like this. That's a common complaint, I'm afraid.

Can I just say, that if you've never examined these new crime measures, they are absolutely horrible. Their intent is not to reduce crime, because we all know this will only increase it. Their purpose is to fill the private prisons that they are allowing the Americans to build here. They can't very well get them to do that when Canada has the lowest crime rate in almost three decades. Solution ... make more things criminal.

First on my list would be cabinet ministers abusing their office for partisan purposes. Sentence ... LIFE!

Grits pan 'partisan' posting on Justice website
Conservatives compromising neutrality of public service, Liberal MP says
By Kathryn May,
The Ottawa Citizen
January 30, 2010

The Liberals have complained to Canada's top bureaucrat about using the Justice Department's non-partisan website for a "brazen partisan attack" in announcing five new senators to clear the way for the Conservatives' law-and-order agenda.

"This is a concerted effort on the part of this government to politicize the public service," said Liberal MP Marlene Jennings.

"This is not the first time, it is reprehensible and it has to top." Jennings lodged her complaint with Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters over a press release posted on the Justice Department's website saying, "New Senators to Help End Opposition Obstruction of Law-and-Order Bills." The release went on to say the opposition gutted the government's bill proposing mandatory jail time for serious drug offences, a key part of its bid to fight organized crime.

Jennings said the press release flouts the public service's value and ethics code, which dictates that bureaucrats maintain neutrality in their work to protect the public's confidence in its integrity and impartiality.

Similarly, the government's communications policy says public servants must provide information to the public in a "non-partisan fashion" while protecting the "value and reputations of public institutions." Jennings said it was particularly worrisome that a partisan release was on the Justice Department's site. She wants it removed and Wouters to investigate whether public servants wrote, approved and posted it, or if it was prepared by political staff and posted under their orders.

She also wants to know if any bureaucrats objected. "I hope the deputy minister and Mr. Wouters can say when they investigate that it was political staff and not public servants who drafted that press release and it went out against the advice of public servants," said Jennings.

"If not, then one has to say public servants have demonstrated to be politicized and we can't rely on what they say to be non-political." Government officials were unavailable for comment.

In her complaint, Jennings cited several other releases she felt violated the code. She pointed to a press release Public Safety issued in 2007 accusing the opposition of being "soft on security and terrorism," while the government was committed to protecting the safety of Canadians. In another by Fisheries and Oceans, Liberals were accused of pandering to special interest groups while the Conservatives protected Canada's "hardworking sealers."

It's an issue that worries many experts, who fear the unravelling of Canada's independent and impartial public service. Some worry the government's attack on diplomat Richard Colvin for his revelations about the handling of Afghan detainees has created such a chill within the bureaucracy that public servants won't push back if politicians or political staff cross the line.

Peter Aucoin, professor emeritus at Dalhousie University, has long sounded the alarm about government communications being used for partisan spin. Policies should clearly spell out what's allowed on department sites. "It should be impartial and we should be able to distinguish between political communications and government communications," he said.

The growing concern about the impartiality of the public service, especially in the age of Facebook and Twitter, prompted Public Service Commission president Maria Barrados to call a review into the nature of non-partisanship in the 21st century. The commission is the watchdog of merit and neutrality in the public service.

Harper is Requesting More Money For an Office that Doesn't Exist

Back in July, I reported on a story I'd been tracking about Harper's creation of a phantom appointments commission, to make sure that government jobs would go to those most qualified, and not just to party faithfuls.

Obviously he had no intention of creating such an office because he presented party faithful and long time fundraiser, oil baron Gwyn Morgan in to head up the office.

He had to know that his name would be rejected, and then he could blame others for killing the office. In fact he did.

Harper signalled that the move effectively kills the commission, a key part of his accountability and ethics package.

By abandoning his proposed Public Appointments Commission, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is providing fodder for those who argue his accountability agenda is little more than a public relations ploy. Harper's choice for heading the commission, former EnCana chief executive officer Gwyn Morgan, was rejected by a Parliamentary committee. In an ensuing temper tantrum, the Prime Minister swiftly announced the commission would be shelved.

And yet we learned in June of this year, that although the office was scrapped, taxpayers are still funding it.

Secretariat, created by an order in council on April 21, 2006, to "lay the groundwork for the eventual establishment of the commission," is still operating. The secretariat has cost taxpayers more than $1-million over the last three years, including $633,000 spent in 2006-2007—most of which went to salaries and $82,000 in severance payment for layoffs. It has a yearly budget that's just more than $1-million, though for 2007-2008 (the last year that is posted) it lapsed most of it, using only $113,000.

But if you think that's nuts, would it surprise you to learn that Harper has now put in a request for more money, to fund a phantom office, that exists only on paper? What's the money really for? Do both of his faces need lifting?

As Greg Weston says: Taxpayers funding 'ghost' commission

Canadian taxpayers have shelled out more than $1 million for a federal appointments commission that has no commissioners and hasn’t overseen a single appointment in four years.

In fact, it isn’t even supposed to exist.

Stephen Harper created the commission in 2006, and promptly scrapped it in a huff. Yet the spending continues, and indeed the commission lives on, despite serving no apparent use.


Stephen Harper Loves Going to Court. I Say we Try Him

I don't think there is a Canadian citizen who has sued the Canadian public more than Stephen Harper. Even as prime minister he has sued elections Canada, the wheat board, the media; and anyone else who gets in his way.

A while back he won a convoluted decision to to force his own party to pay GST.

Of course, this was just another attempt to try and hurt the opposition, who would then have to follow suit; as well as raise the limits they can spend on an election.

I guess he really is transparent after all.

Although, this could come back to bit him, because while he is backed by the wealthiest Canadians, especially the religious right; if he continues to tank in the polls, he could find the money taps turned off, and then what will he do?

Oh, wait, don't answer that question ... He'll sue!

Elections Canada to appeal political GST ruling
The Canadian Press
January 29, 2010

OTTAWA — Elections Canada says it will appeal a court ruling that required it to accept a $591,000 GST payback from the federal Conservative party. The Conservatives went to court to force the agency to take the money, which they said was a product of rebate double-dipping.

The New Year's Eve judgment by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice sided with the Conservatives, and said the party must be allowed to repay the rebates from the 2004 and 2006 federal elections.

Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel ruled that Parliament never intended to treat the GST rebate for non-profit organizations -- including political parties -- as a "subsidy." He said the practical impact would be to raise the amount of money parties can spend in future elections.

But Elections Canada says the ruling doesn't jibe with its interpretation of the law, hence the appeal. Wilton-Siegel wrote that the GST rebate is "simply a mechanism for administering the stipulated rate of tax" for non-profits.

"I conclude that general election expenses must be presented net of any GST rebate to the extent required by (generally accepted accounting principles)," he wrote in his judgment. He said the Tories could deduct from their election expenses the GST that had been rebated by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Elections Canada said it believes the Canada Elections Act requires that reported election expenses reflect their "commercial value," as defined in the act.

Using generally accepted accounting principles would mean that the party's reported expenses would no longer reflect commercial value, the agency said.

Stephen Harper is Going Green. Stop Laughing. Just Ask Monte Solberg

Though Stephen Harper could make an Olympic event out of avoiding the Canadian media, he will now and then talk to the foreign press, if he thinks we'll never find out.

During his recent visit to Korea, Bloomberg Press reported that he stated he would use his position with the G20 to convince nations to put the economy above the environment.

Of course, he has no intention of putting our own economic recovery ahead of his own self interests, but that's a story for another time (stay tuned. I'm working on an update with videos, songs and dancing girls. OK, no dancing girls, but there will be singing and video)

Three stories on our new green prime minister:

1. PM edging away from climate issue:

Tomorrow is the notional deadline for countries to fill in the blanks on the Copenhagen agreement on climate change by stating their targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To be clear, each country can establish its own mitigation targets, and does not have to say how they will be achieved. Canada is expected to maintain its previously announced target of a 20-per-cent reduction below 2006 levels by 2020. There's no requirement to announce a longer-term target of, say, a 70-per-cent reduction by 2050 ....

2. And then former Reformer, columnist, and now stand up comic; Monte Solberg, is suggesting that Harper is now a conservationist. Hee, hee. He'll kill them with that act.

Harper government is a conservation leader

It is a little known fact that the Harper government has already made a great start on protecting some of our best habitat. Their $225-million Natural Conservation Areas Program has worked through the Nature Conservancy of Canada and dozens of conservation groups to preserve millions of acres of wilderness.

Every province and territory has seen important habitat receive protection, including the Great Bear Rainforest and the Nahanni National Park Reserve. In particular, vast swaths of the north have been set aside by the government to protect animals like the bowhead whale.

3. But the most disturbing story of all, comes from the CBC:

Lakes across Canada face being turned into mine dump sites:

CBC News has learned that 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly "reclassified" as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland.

Environmentalists say the process amounts to a "hidden subsidy" to mining companies, allowing them to get around laws against the destruction of fish habitat ....

Stephen Harper Takes Another Stab at Denying Human Rights

I posted the other day about Stephen Harper's heavy handed approach to human rights and his planting of another lapdog to avoid accountability.
It's not bad enough that he has rewritten our foreign policy to exclude protection of women and children from sexual exploitation, but he's turned our human rights agencies at home, inside out.

Haroon Siddiqui explains:

Harper remains silent on rights agency fiasco
By Haroon Siddiqui Editorial Page

Only a handful of non-Canadians, such as Nelson Mandela, have been bestowed the Order of Canada. Last year, Dr. Sima Samar of Afghanistan was so honoured, for defending human rights, especially women's rights – the same values that are at the core of Canada's Afghan mission.

So it's highly embarrassing that she has resigned in protest from the board of Canada's leading human rights agency, Rights and Democracy. She quit over what she felt were the autocratic and ideological ways of its Stephen Harper appointees, especially the chair, Aurel Braun, professor of political science at the U of T.

She walked out at a board meeting in Toronto Jan. 7, when Braun and cohorts (enjoying a majority for the first time) pushed through several items on which they had been battling Remy Beauregard, the president of the Montreal-based agency. They "repudiated" his granting of about $10,000 each to Israel's human rights group, B'Tselem, and two Palestinian groups after the Israeli war on Gaza last year.

They tossed out a Beauregard ally, Riveros Franck, a Bolivian pro-democracy activist, though he had agreed to serve a second term. Braun and allies had earlier authored a negative evaluation of Beauregard, overturning a previous positive one. I am told they spent $17,000 waging a legal battle to keep their deliberations secret.

Samar said over the phone from Kabul that she found it incongruous that a centre dedicated to human rights had violated the rights of its top employee; that rather than being transparent, it was secretive; and instead of standing up for the victims of human rights violations, it was siding with the violators.

Four of Beauregard's predecessors – including Ed Broadbent and Warren Allmand – called on Harper to hold an inquiry. And 45 of 47 staff at the agency demanded the resignation of Braun, as well as vice-chair Jacques Gauthier and director Elliot Tepper.

Braun has since said it is ridiculous to blame him and others for Beauregard's sudden death. They were only doing their job as they saw fit, while they felt he wasn't.

But Broadbent feels differently. He told me: "I do not recall, in my long public life, such an unwarranted assault on a senior public servant, none, and I don't recall a sequence of events where you had such a total undermining of a PMO appointee being treated so shabbily and dying in the middle of it.

"Without drawing a direct parallel, I can think of only one incident, Herbert Norman, our envoy to Egypt, a friend of Lester B. Pearson, committing suicide" – in 1957, after having been accused of being a Communist sympathizer. "That was the McCarthy era."

Samar was quoted by the National Post Saturday as saying: "Honestly, I thought that maybe we speeded up his passing away with the stress we put on him." Harper has yet to comment on the controversy. That's in keeping with his silence last year on two letters to the government from dissident directors complaining about Braun's actions.

In November, the cabinet named two new board members. They ended up siding with Braun, thus completing the hostile takeover. While lacking that majority, Braun cancelled a meeting in October, at a cost of $15,000 in non-refundable air tickets and translation contract, says one source.

Since Beauregard's death, Braun has issued a blizzard of denials and explanations. He called a board meeting for last Friday. The staff in Montreal said the office was to be closed that day, in memory of Beauregard whose funeral was Saturday. Braun went ahead with the meeting, anyway, in Toronto. The board appointed an interim president – none other than Gauthier, the vice-chair whose resignation the staff had demanded.

The standoff continues. There remains the larger issue of Harper emasculating institutions that used to operate at arm's-length, independent of the partisan needs and ideology of the ruling party.

"This is another example of another independent agency having their independence either totally ignored or squashed or interfered with," Broadbent said. "This is extraordinarily serious in terms of Canadian democracy."

Stephen Harper Plays the Piano Again. Will he Win Canadian Hearts With His Latest Performance?

Will his latest performance help to boost his ratings? At least he's being honest in this one.

But he was punked again by the Yes Men in Davos, and in his speech, using teleprompters, he forgot to mention that he had secretly bailed out our banks. After allowing high-risk, 40 year mortgages, to infiltrate out banking system, Flaherty was forced to buy them back, making the Canadian taxpayer the largest lender of sub-prime mortgages int he world.

If unemployment continues to spiral out of control, these may not be worth the paper they're written on.

I guess Harper left out that part, though he did entertain the crowd with a bit of comedy. He's going to focus on women and children around the world. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ...

Well at least he's got a fall back career if the whole prime minister thing doesn't work out for him.

January 28, 2010
Yes Men pull 'very good' prank on Stephen Harper
Jane Taber

The Yes Men are at it again. And this time the anti-globalization and environmental pranksters have their sights set on on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Last time they were pulling pranks by setting up fake government websites and sending out legitimate-looking press releases at the Copenhagen climate-change conference. For Davos – among other things – they doctored up an interview between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge.

In their video, they dub over Mr. Harper’s voice so it appears he’s saying Canada will shame the "carbon monopoly" and fix the environment. (They also doctor a
speech by the Queen, having her
make amends for colonialism.) ...

Stephen Harper Reported For Kidnapping the Media

Harper's control of the media has taken a new twist as two reporters travelling to Newfoundland with him, were held hostage on the plane.

Boy the editors of Pravda would have loved to learn Harper's secret.

When he was in India that country's own media was shut out. He uses the RCMP to rough up any journalists hoping to get close.

When will this end? He's writing his own copy, taking his own photos and providing his own video.

And he claims that he's not a dictator.

I hope others realize just how serious this is.

Media have no flight plan on PM's plane
January 29, 2010
By James Fitz-Morris

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is sneaking back into Canada through the front door. Harper flew back from Switzerland today. While in the air his office announced the appointment of five new Senators and the Supreme Court ruled he has the power to decide to ask if Omar Khadr could be repatriated ....

... Journalists travelling with Harper are being kept on the plane to ensure the Prime Minister doesn't face any questions in his short jaunt from the bottom of the staircase to his waiting limousine.

UPDATE: As our plane was on final approach to Ottawa - the Prime Minister's office wanted to make it understood that the journalists on the plane were not, in fact, being held captive. We were allowed to get off the plane in St John's - it's just that had we, we would not have been allowed back on ....

Harper and the press gallery hit the road: 3 nights, 3 1/2 questions

And that was it for any questions from Canadian reporters travelling with Harper. Two questions ...

...Harper's detractors may think we should just give the metaphorical finger to such directives from the PMO ... That would not be good for our access would be curtailed even further.

PMO staff also made veiled threats that that individual's organization might suffer further sanction -- all because of the impertinence of asking a question. If you are a media organization in Ottawa, these are no small consquences. If the PMO doesn't like you, you can bet that every cabinet minister is going to give you the cold shoulder, too. ...

Military Conducting Their Own Investigation into Torture, But Will it be Enough?

With Parliament closed down to put a halt to the inquiry into our government's possible complicity in war crimes, the military is conducting their own investigation.

This is essential in some ways, because with Harper hiding behind the troops, they will ultimately be the ones wearing it.

However, this investigation is only on one incident, and will do nothing to explain the countless other transfers.

It's telling that they will release it March 1, just before Parliament resumes. Will this be the way the government will say, OK no more questions? Our own military just gave us the answer so enough is enough.

That rug is getting awful bumpy.

After the Somalia incident, Canada's armed forces took an awful hit in public opinion, and it has only been recently that they have regained their dignity. If this turns out to be just another cover-up, I think we'll see a lot of people scratching those yellow ribbons off their bumpers.

It's a shame too, because they were not to blame.

Harper kept such a tight control on the messaging, that it would often be weeks before any reports were filed, and by then the detainee was lost in the system. And yet he claims he never saw the memos. What a horrible, horrible man.

Military wants answers on Afghan torture report
January 28, 2010
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—The Canadian military has ordered a formal investigation into how a critical report on the beating of an Afghan prisoner remained buried at National Defence headquarters.

In June 2006 soldiers captured a suspected Taliban fighter and handed him over to local police, who then beat him to the point where the Canadians had to intervene.
A report on the incident, which undermines Conservative government claims that no prisoners handed over to Afghans faced abuse, was apparently uncovered only in December.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk ordered an investigation, which is headed by Rear-Admiral Paul Maddison, commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic. Natynczyk’s deputy, Vice-Admiral Denis Rouleau, says the probe will look at the incident itself, why soldiers took the actions they did and how it was reported.

The report of the investigation is due March 1 and is to be made public shortly after. Diplomat Richard Colvin testified before a special House of Commons committee in November that he repeatedly warned federal officials in 2006 and 2007 that prisoners faced the possibility of torture in Afghan jails.

His warnings were dismissed by the government and the military as vague and unsubstantiated. The June 2006 incident was made public almost two years ago, but the military initially disputed the version of events, saying its soldiers never captured the prisoner in the first place.

Natynczyk’s admission that Canadians had indeed been the ones to detain the suspect caused shock waves on Parliament Hill and prompted accusations of a coverup.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Conservatives Have Gone Too Far. It's Time to Call in the Ethics Commissioner - Again

Oh wait. We can't can we? Harper has shut everything down. However, I think we are entering a crisis zone here, because this government is out of control.

In an attempt to change the narrative from war crimes and the lobbying scandal, they have actually posted on the Justice Department website that they are only able to get their damn un-Canadian crime bills passed by stacking the senate.

This is an official GOVERNMENT website. OUR website. It is not for partisan propaganda. I think the Governor general needs to step in here.

Here are some facts:

1. Most of these bills were sabotaged by Harper himself.

2. Canada's crime rate is the lowest it's been in 30 years. We did not need these bills in the first place.

3. They were presented to the senate without costing. When they asked for a dollar figure they were told by the Conservatives that it was a cabinet secret. I understand that Kevin Page, our parliamentary budget office, is currently attaching a price tag that is believed to be in the billions.

This is from the website and if there are any constitutional lawyers out there, I hope someone comes forward. I have never seen anything like this in my life.


OTTAWA, January 29, 2010 – The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources, today celebrated the appointment of five new members of the Senate of Canada. They were joined by two of the five: Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu and Senator Bob Runciman.

“Moments ago it was announced that the Prime Minister has appointed five outstanding Canadians to fill vacancies in the Senate,” said Minister Nicholson.“The Prime Minister’s action has not only brought additional talent and expertise to the Senate; it has greatly strengthened our efforts to move forward on our tackling-crime agenda.”

The opposition has obstructed that agenda in the Senate, most notably by gutting Bill C-15 – a bill proposing mandatory jail time for serious drug offences, and a key part of the government’s efforts to fight organized crime ....

Some International News on Canada's New Dictator

I like Real News. I often watch their videos, to get some idea of what is happening in the world. Fox News and Canwest Global are merely for entertainment, and I even use that term loosely.

Their coverage is quite good and they don't downplay our numbers the way many in the Canadian media has.

Terri Elvald, our CAPP organizer from Simcoe-Barrie has done a lot of work to provide links to your MPs contact info, should anyone feel motivated.

We have to let all parties know that we've had our wake up call and will never allow our voices to be taken away again. They work for us and we get to tell them when they can go home.

And we also now have bumper stickers available. One of our artists has designed them and you can purchase them here. Everytime one of Harper's Reformers tries to dismiss us, we just become more motivated. So keep those attacks coming guys.

Stephen Harper Reminds Us of Why We Feared Him

Boy, talk about someone shooting themselves in the foot.

For four years Stephen Harper has used our money to reinvent himself into a softer, kinder individual, with the help of a full time image consultant who arranges everything from his hair to his cheek position.

And then in just a matter of hours, it all came crashing down as Canadians remembered why we feared him in the first place.

The infamous 'secret agenda'.

It may be true that anti-prorogation anger will subside once the House reopens, but this will definitely be an election issue.

This is a man who spews venom at his opponents, then runs at the first sign of trouble. Neither are winning traits in a leader.

There was a good article in the Winnipeg Free Press, reminding us of just how dangerous a Harper majority, or in fact even another minority, would be.

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Harper really is dangerous
By: William Neville
January 29, 2010

It has become increasingly clear that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament in December was a serious miscalculation. The public, perhaps not normally attuned to such things, has clearly understood that Harper's decision smells: It smells of the all-consuming political calculations that are a 24-hour-a-day preoccupation with Harper; it smells of an attempt to shut Parliament down at a time when opposition MPs are asking embarrassing but legitimate questions of the government on several fronts; and it smells of a contempt for Parliament and public accountability that, ironically, helped bring the old Reform party into existence -- the same Reform party, need it be added, that first brought Harper to Ottawa.

Harper has offered a series of justifications for closing down Parliament. First, it was to allow the country to focus on the Vancouver Olympics, a fatuous suggestion if ever there was one. Then Harper rationalized prorogation as providing the government the time to recalibrate its programs and policies. Taken seriously, this would suggest that Harper's government cannot govern and recalibrate -- whatever that may mean -- at the same time.

As demonstrations against the government have occurred across the country, and as the Conservatives' standing in the polls slid dangerously close to the Liberals', a new explanation and justification has been floated. Last week, Harper's office sent a memorandum to all its parliamentary supporters listing all the wonderful things that ministers, Conservative MPs and senators are doing -- and, by implication, able to do -- because Parliament is not sitting.

Essentially, Harper is suggesting that government gets better the less Parliament does. That argument has been made explicit by no less an authority than one of Harper's senior pit bulls, Jason Kenney, who last week commented, "As a minister, I often get more done when the House is not in session. That's not to say Parliament is unimportant, but from a ministerial point of view, I think any minister in any government will tell you that's probably generally the case." Could the message be any clearer?

Presumably with no Parliament at all, the Conservatives could do one hell of a job. This is an extraordinarily pernicious doctrine. In fact, to call it a doctrine is to dignify it: It is pernicious nonsense. From a party that has made a fetish of wanting less government and more accountability, this confounds the convictions they have always professed to have. The truth, obviously, is that they love power and unchecked power especially. Little wonder that poll after poll suggests that a large majority of Canadians want Parliament sitting because, for all its imperfections, it is the only way in which a government -- this government -- can be held accountable on a day-to-day basis.

In any survey of modern history, one everywhere observes -- all round the world -- that when elected, democratic governments are overthrown one of the first acts of autocrats and usurpers is to close down the assemblies, parliaments or congresses and to dismiss them as inefficient or ineffective talking shops.

Elected bodies can be such things but that is not why would-be dictators close them down: They close them down because they rightly distrust democracy as slow, cumbersome, inefficient and inimical to autocratic minds and methods.

Despite his frequently made claims to being an economist, Harper has always lived on the avails of politics and is an archetypal professional politician who has had no significant career outside politics and, within which has been narrowly focused on ideology, strategy and tactics. Coming, as he does, from the one-party state of Alberta he has never shown any sensitivity to nor understanding of a parliamentary system whose functioning depends on recognizing the legitimacy of opposition, the existence of constitutional conventions and limits, or that there are lines that governments may not cross.

He demonstrated this ignorance a year ago in precipitating a crisis that almost brought him down, and he is demonstrating it again now over prorogation. He combines the stubbornness of the control freak with the ignorance of the know-it-all. Harper, in a sense that his sternest critics may never have imagined, is a dangerous man.

Charles Moore Gets the Smackdown - From the Calgary Herald?

During our kind of mini debate on the CBC Monday, Charles Moore brought out the tired old Reform-Conservative lines ... coalition ... too few numbers ... economy ... blah, blah, blah.

He's certainly entitled to his opinion, even if it is wrong (hee, hee), but much was off topic.

However, I did want to rebut a couple of things. First off about the handling of the economy. As I mentioned before, what we saw of the Canada Action Plan was nothing more than a huge PR stunt.

From signs to big cardboard cheques, self-promotion ads and targeting of stimulus to their own ridings - Harper was not piloting us through the recession, but charting his own course.

Had the Coalition been handling the stimulus, it would not have been partisan, and remember Harper himself never planned to do anything.

But back to CAPP. Though trying to make comparisons of our numbers by using the entire Canadian population, he is wrong in assuming we are trivial. Besides, by that reasoning, Harper is in power based on about 6% of the population.

But babies can't vote and babies don't go on Facebook.

Why prorogation of Parliament is a big deal
By Paula Arab,
Calgary Herald
January 28, 2010

What's the big deal about proroguing Parliament, New Brunswick columnist Charles Moore asked earlier this week.

Well Charles, I'll tell you what the big deal is. Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't prorogue for the traditional reasons, because the work is done, or to stick to a schedule. Nope. For the second time in 13 months, he asked the Governor General to shut down government to protect his own political hide.

Thanks to Harper, proroguing has become a common, household term, meaning to avoid unpleasantness in the House of Commons.

He has turned the procedure of closing down the government because the session has ended, into a political tool that serves his own interests. The big deal is never before in the history of Canada has a prime minister been so disrespectful of our democratic institutions, that are there to represent the voice of the people. The functioning of Parliament may not be perfect, but it's all we've got.

This is an abuse of power, plain and simple. Worse, it's part of a larger pattern of disturbingly authoritarian behaviour in which our prime minister seems to believe he is above accountability, to the media, the public or now the opposition's criticism in the House of Commons.

If Harper is trying to convince Canadians he can be trusted with a majority government, this is no way to go about inspiring the electorate's onfidence.

The big deal is 36 bills have now died on the table because of the abrupt prorogation in the middle of a session. All the work that went into crafting this legislation has been for naught, and adds up to at least 368 hours of wasted Parliamentary time.

The cost to taxpayers of proroguing is $50 million. Still, people like Moore, who writes a column for the Saint John's Telegraph Journal, express surprise by the public outrage. "I don't deny there's a lot of buzz but what is the issue of substance here?" he said on CBC Radio's The Current. "What still puzzles me is what exactly is the outrage about?"

Where do I begin? Harper requested the governor general prorogue parliament on Dec. 30, a day when five Canadians died in Afghanistan, including the first journalist, Herald reporter Michelle Lang.

It's a cynical, opportunistic play at a time when most people are otherwise busy with family and the Christmas Holidays. They're not paying attention to the news. It's amazing anyone caught the news of prorogation, considering how the deaths of Lang and the others in Afghanistan overshadowed all other news.

That people are still talking about the issue four weeks later, joining Facebook groups and going out to protests, shows just how badly Harper miscalculated public perception. Harper's excuse is laughable, as I found out when I asked Parliamentary expert Ned Franks whether there could be any truth in wanting to "recalibrate" until after the Olympics. The Queen's University professor emeritus burst out in belly laughs.

"There are a lot of fairy tales in politics including the government's explanation of why it prorogued." The Conservatives further antagonized the public with their spin and misrepresentation of facts. The next day, Conservative strategist Tim Powers was doing national interviews, saying Parliament has been prorogued 105 times in Canada's history, including four times by Jean Chretien.

"If you do the math that works out to about every one in 1.3 years. People understand this is parliamentary procedure." What Powers failed to explain is that every parliamentary session ends with a prorogation. It's a normal event except when the prime minister uses it to avoid accountability to Parliament, as Harper has done twice in his four years in power.

Prorogation was an annual event up until the 1960s because Parliament operated on a yearly schedule. New sessions automatically began every fall. Chretien was prime minister for seven sessions in three Parliaments. Four sessions ended by prorogation, and three in dissolution for an election.

He is guilty of proroguing to avoid embarrassment only once, in 2002, when he prorogued early to delay the tabling of the auditor general's report documenting the sponsorship scandal.

Prior to that, the only example occurred in 1873, when Sir John A. Macdonald shut down Parliament to avoid a probe into the Pacific Scandal. As for every other Westminster parliament? Only in Canada.

Australia, New Zealand and Britain all learned the lesson of King Charles I, who prorogued in his own self-interest in 1629. He got into a power struggle over his Royal prerogative, back in the pre-modern era, before the notion of good, democratic government replaced the monarchical system. King Charles eventually got beheaded. Mac-Donald was forced to resign. Chretien left and the Liberal Party is still in tatters.

And Harper? The Afghan detainees affair might very well be old news by the time Parliament resumes in March, and we may never know what, if anything, the government was trying to avoid. Canadians have a right to know. And, it seems, Canadians care very much about Parliament, even if they don't always like how it behaves. That, Charles Moore, is what the big deal is all about.

Belleville's Daryl Cramp is Giving me Cramps. He's Off the Island

As I mentioned before, Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, has opened the vault on suppressed information, and as we share stories from across the country, it paints a broader picture of this party.

Almost every single Conservative MP has had the same talking points. It's like they've been indoctrinated into some kind of cult.

Even Andrew Scheer, our deputy house leader, has no clue about what democracy means to Canadians. We are just being silly ... there there now ... he can make all our troubles vanish. You just have to wait until he pulls out the playbook.

Well CAPP has now become something very different. We are motivated and we are determined to take this country back. So the media and all the naysayers, can join in the fight or get out of our way.

We are no longer going to allow rhetoric to control us. We represent a great cross section of Canadians, with often altering points of view and allegiances, but we are all after the same thing. Democratic reform and the reinstatement of all checks and balances in our system. We will no longer allow anyone to claim this kind of power.

So my most recent 'in your face' goes out to Daryl Kramp, the Conservative MP for Belleville, Ontario.

Like most of Harper's disciples, he's trying to claim that CAPP and our rallies are all about partisan politics. He told the Belleville Intelligencer of their local organizer: “This is a gentleman who, by his own admission, has no partisan interest but is the vice-president of the local Liberal association,” he said. “Excuse me but you can’t have it both ways. Credibility to me is credibility earned.”

Fortunately the Intelligencer fired back:

The local MP is taking a kicking … for … Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliament. [...] Kramp … rather than be concerned about the big picture, hose instead to quibble about the fact the organizer of the rally was in fact a
Liberal. [...]

What does it matter if the organizer of the rally is a member of one political party or another … ? [...] They are people with whom Harper’s Conservatives have lost touch in their imperial style of politics. They’re average Canadians who are fed up with watching their MPs perform like circus animals with cheques in hand …

Mr. Kramp, we’re growing increasingly weary of the kitschy grip and grins … “Credibility earned”? [Harper's] credibility … has now all but washed away like a January thaw and we’re left with politics as usual from a party and politicians who lied to us all that they would be different.

I left a comment:

Wonderful story and such an important message. I attended the rally in Kingston and while I am actively involved with our local Liberal riding association, I attended this rally, not as a Liberal, but as a Canadian.

In fact one woman approached me, suggesting that she would like to get involved in the political process, but wasn’t sure where to start.

My knee jerk response might have been to lead her to our president, but instead I pointed her to all of the local riding associations (the Conservatives were invited but declined sending reps) and also several advocacy groups that had put up signs and presented petitions.

I really wanted this to be about this beautiful country and how we have ignored it through our apathy. Partisan politics will be reserved for the next election.

As an active member of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, I can assure you, that we are promoting all progressive parties, committed to steering this country away from it’s recent sharp right turn, and making sure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Even the next PM will not get a free ride. We are taking our country back.

Harper: Take a Bow For the New Revolution - We Won't be Fooled Again

You know Harper's in trouble when the corporate media begins to constantly (constantly, constantly, constantly) try and remind us of his swift response to Haiti. They really should stop already, because it's only making us question his motives.

CAPP is our new revolution and we won't be fooled again. I suspect in time we'll learn what's really going on with this relief mission. For now the Canadian media is only bowing to the dictator, so I read reports from the UK and other places to get the real story.

Our troops are amazing - Harper not so much.

And this brings us to his other meager attempt at portraying himself as a man who now gives a damn. His sudden interest in vulnerable women and children. Remember he was the one who once bragged that he was often sought out to speak against government giving money in the name of child poverty, and concern for women? That's a lark.

But if he really wants to help, he needs look no closer than his own backyard.

Inuit infant mortality three times Canadian average; children go hungry: Study
By Bob Weber
Canadian Press
January 26, 2010

Inuit infants die at well over three times the rate of other Canadian babies, according to a massive new study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

And as if to underscore the tough situation facing aboriginal children in Canada's North, a second study in the same journal found that 70 per cent of Inuit preschoolers live in homes where there isn't always enough food ....

Vulnerable Children and Why Stephen Harper Should Never Have Rewritten Our Foreign Policy

I remember the singer Ricky Martin was on Oprah, discussing the trafficking of children from areas hit by disaster. From the tsunami to Katrina, many of those recently orphaned were being whisked away and sold.

It's a horrible thing to think about, especially since Stephen Harper rewrote our foreign policy, denying protection of these children.

Of course his reasoning was to remove any international involvement from the UN or International Criminal Court. It wasn't enough being a dictator in Canada. He wanted to make Canada an island, so we had few safeguards anywhere.

The terms "gender equality," "child soldiers," "international humanitarian law," "good governance," "human security," "public diplomacy" and "The Responsibility to Protect" have been blacklisted from government parlance ....

These terms were once championed by Canada, are in wide use around the world, and represent a wide range of international norms and precedent. Make no mistake, these semantic changes represent fundamental shifts to Canadian foreign policy. Each of the banned or altered terms carry with it significant policy implications, most related to the international human rights agenda.

For example, when speaking of the war in the DRC, where upwards of 3 million people have been killed, and rape is widely used as a tool of war, the terms "impunity" and "justice" can no longer be used when calling for an end to, and punishment for, sexual violence.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that stories from Haiti are just what Ricky Martin was talking about. Since humanitarian aid is being trumped by 'soldiering', it has me wondering what our priorities will be.

Many on the ground suggest that this massive build up of an army is more to protect corporate interests in Haiti. I know our own troops will act admirably because they grew up in a Canada where humanity was important.

But it still makes me incredibly sad and embarrassed. I guess this is who we are now. Bring in the army to protect our investments and anything else is secondary. The following report is from the UK because Canadians are not allowed to mention this.

Traffickers prey on hordes of Haiti quake orphans
By VIRGINIA WHEELER in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
January 28, 2010
THEY are orphaned, terrified and hungry - a lost generation facing fresh peril last night as hell-on-earth became a PARADISE for child predators. Babies and toddlers were among dazed kiddies being plucked by brutes from the rubble of earthquake-devastated Haiti.

Even those praying for sanctuary at medical centres set up in the stricken Caribbean nation were not safe - as aid workers warned child-trafficking gangs had sprung up across the shattered capital. Fifeen being treated were revealed to have been snatched by men later found not to be relatives ....