Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stephen Harper Has Offered an Alternative Census Form

Stephen Harper outlines above how census information will now be gathered. I like the old way.

Munir Sheikh is scheduled to appear Monday on a panel at the conference where he will explain how government statistics make a difference. He will also be glad-handed by his peers for resigning from government over the decision to make the long-form census voluntary. “You have to admire the head of Statistics Canada for sticking to his principles,” said Mr. Thompson, who retired from public service and now works in the private sector. “It’s emblematic of how serious many people take their responsibility to be independent and objective.”

Even Michael Den Tandt is critical, saying that it is "among the dumbest things Harper has done..."

That’s because this move, and the government’s obduracy in the face of criticism from just about everyone, is among the dumbest things Harper has done as PM. Already the Tories have slipped measurably in the polls. Pollster Alan Gregg says we mustn’t attribute this to the census fight because most Canadians aren’t really engaged. True, as far as it goes. Many of us were lounging dockside when we began to notice headlines about an obscure controversy involving statistics.Only in summer, we said, and went back to our beach books.

But then the critics started to pile in. They now include every Canadian municipality; a clear majority of provinces, including Ontario and Quebec; current and past senior bureaucrats at Statistics Canada, including the recently resigned deputy minister, Munir Sheikh; the Conference Board of Canada; the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, among many others. So far Harper himself has said nothing. He’s on holiday. So Maxime Bernier, Jim Flaherty and the increasingly woebegone Tony Clement have been left to spin the party line.

Here it is: Canadians shouldn’t be threatened with jail if they don’t complete the form. And, some of its questions are too intrusive. The wrinkle: No one has ever gone to jail for non-completion of the census in the 340 years since it was first taken in 1666, in what was then New France.

Defense Department Vandalism Traced to Cold Lake Alberta

I posted about the defense department trying to hack into Wikipedia to change a story on the jets the Reformers want to buy. They not only tried to change the story but they hurled insults at Michael Ignatieff.

Harper has just ruined everything we once respected. The RCMP, the police and now the military, all for partisan politics.

The Ottawa Citizen has traced the vandalism to Cold Lake Alberta. Some people need to be fired over this, including Peter Mackay.
The mystery of who at the Defence Department has been vandalizing information on a Wikipedia website critical of the Conservative government’s decision to spend billions on a new stealth jet is now centred on the busiest fighter base in the country.

Defence Department information technology specialists haven’t yet been able to determine where the computers being used to alter the Wikipedia site are located, according to department officials in Ottawa. But using a readily available search engine on the Internet, the Citizen has tracked the locations of the three computers to CFB Cold Lake, Alta. The base is expected to be a major centre for the Joint Strike Fighter (or JSF) the Harper government wants to buy.

Can You Smell That? The Odour of Desperation? The Heady Scent of Fear?

The Reformers are in a panic and are sending out fundraising letters asking for $100 to $ 200 dollars to save the world from ... you guessed it ... separatists and socialists.

They must be running out of ideas because they're falling back on the old coalition threat and Michael Ignatieff's 34 years.

Change the channel already.

I've posted his resume so you get some idea of what he was doing for those 34 years.

And as for the coalition which is already off the table, it's no different than the coalition that Stephen Harper tried to form with "separatists" and "socialists" in 2004 and throughout 2005. Jack Layton backed out before it had a chance to get off the ground.

And then of course there was Stockwell Day's coalition attempt with 'separatists' in 2000. That one got his backer Conrad Black in such a twist that he avoided using big words, opting for four-letter ones.

I love their line: "While Mr. Ignatieff continues his awkward pursuit of photo ops, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues his solid leadership." Says the king of the photo-ops whose idea of leadership is hiding at the first sign of trouble. What a hoot.

John Baird and Kimberley Rogers: Why Neoconservatism is Wrong for Canada

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

When Mike Harris first came to power in Ontario in 1995, he waged war against the province's poor, blaming them for everything that was wrong with our economy.

We had just come off a double dip recession and thousands of jobs had been lost to Free Trade, but the enemies were the poor who were "bleeding" us dry.

As part of the Made in America, "Common Sense Revolution", the Harrisites proclaimed that able-bodied people must work for their benefits. Ironically, many welfare recipients voted for Harris (1) believing that he was going to find them jobs, something most of them preferred. But that was not the case. They were left on their own to find employment that didn't exist, which is how they found themselves on welfare in the first place.

It was a horrible time. There were Big Brotherish signs everywhere, encouraging neighbours and family to "turn people in". Rewards were offered and a culture of fear and mistrust was created. Mike Harris wanted all welfare recipients finger printed and John Baird wanted to conduct drug tests before they received their cheques. He even put on a ridiculous public display, pouring out hypodermic needles on a table for the media, claiming that the poor would no longer be able to shoot their payments up their arms.

They had already reduced benefits by 22% when Tony Clement rewrote the "Tenant Protection Act" in favour of landlords, in order to kill rent control and make it easier to evict tenants, driving even more people into the streets. It was like living under the Gestapo.

But the saddest story of this period, was that of Kimberley Rogers, who was single and pregnant and trying to better herself, so that she would be a position to care for her child. She wanted off the welfare rolls so was taking classes at Cambrian College in Sudbury and was a straight-A student.

But in order to afford to do this, she had to take out student loans. I wouldn't class loans as income, but John Baird did, and had the woman charged when he found out that she was also receiving social assistance. As a result, she was sentenced to six-months house arrest, and confined to a second floor apartment except for three hours a week. Her welfare benefits were cut off and she was ordered to repay the government more than $13,000.
'I ran out of food this weekend. I am unable to sleep. . . . I am very upset and I cry all the time.' Kimberly Rogers wrote these words in her court appeal in May. Three months later, 40 years old and eight months pregnant, she was found dead in the Sudbury, Ont., apartment where she had been confined 24 hours a day for the crime of taking student loans while on welfare. (2)
This was May 14, 2001, when Rogers launched a case under the Charter of Rights that challenged the constitutional validity of Ontario Works regulations that suspended benefits after a conviction of welfare fraud. She was able to have her welfare benefits reinstated May 31, but the court had yet to rule on her challenge at the time of her death. (3)

The Globe described her living conditions throughout this ordeal:
It's a 21st-century Dickens story. There's not much to look at out the narrow second-floor window of 286 Hazel St. in downtown Sudbury. The back yard is a grey gravel driveway strewn with litter. There's a rusted black Ford that looks as though it's been up on blocks for a decade, and a yellowed dishwasher that someone discarded years ago. And overlooking it is the ramshackle two-storey, five-tenant apartment building where Kimberly Rogers, perhaps Ontario's best-known welfare recipient, spent almost every hour of the past three months ... this is where the 40-year-old expecting mother and straight-A recent college graduate spent her last days ..

Her body wasn't found for two days. Eight months pregnant, she was trapped inside her sweltering apartment for the duration of a record-setting heat wave. Temperatures were above 30 degrees for six days in a row the week she died. "It was like a sauna in there," Amanda Chodura of Sudbury's Elizabeth Fry Society, who frequently visited with Rogers, told The Globe and Mail. Rogers's crime was one only a poor person could be convicted of.

"I have no one to turn to for money or a home if I am evicted," she said. "If I were evicted, I would have to go to a shelter. I would have no money to pay for storage of my belongings, and fear that I could lose everything." She worried about where every meal would come from, and feared for the future of her unborn child. (2)
Sadly, her unborn child had no future, as he perished with his mother. "John Baird has said he cannot comment on the case, which he calls "a regrettable occurrence".... " (2)

"A regrettable occurrence". They had a lot of those, from Dudley George to Walkerton. All victims of a neoconservative agenda.

So when I read the story of another single mom being denied human compassion, it brought back the story of Kimberly Rodgers and why neoconservatism is the wrong fit for Canada:
A Moncton, N.B., single mother who is off work as she helps her two-year-old son recover from brain surgery is fighting the federal government's decision to deny her employment insurance benefits. Tricia Moran's two-year-old son Brayden has a rare condition, which causes cavernous malformations to grow on the outer surface of his brain. Two of these growths became so large that Brayden needed brain surgery last month to remove them. While his skull heals, he can't go to daycare out of fear that a knock in the head could cause seizures.

Brayden, 2, has a rare condition, which causes cavernous malformations to grow on the outer surface of his brain. Moran, armed with notes from her doctor, her son's neurosurgeon, and her employer stating her job is waiting for her when she is able to return, applied for sickness leave under employment insurance, citing stress. "I applied for the EI insurance, and they called me on July 14 and told me that I was denied because I wasn't the one that was sick, and the only reason that I was home was to care for my sick son, so they said I didn't qualify for it," Moran
And I think that if we really want to understand where John Baird was coming from, claiming to be only protecting taxpayer's "hard-earned" money, we need to look at his involvement with Anderson Consulting, and Baird's attempt to privatize social services. Andersons changed their name to Accenture after the Enron Scandal.

The Canadian Province of Ontario's contract for social services delivery, essentially privatized welfare during the duration of the contract (which was to be for 4 years, but has gone over that limit by more than a year). As of March 2002, Accenture has been paid $246 million (CND) to do this "overhaul of the Ontario welfare service", even though the original estimate was $50 - $70 million and the project was eventually capped at $180 million. At one point, Accenture billed taxpayers $26,000 in unreceipted out of pocket expenses and Accenture management was paid up to $575/hour. In 1999, a year after the Auditor General of Ontario put out a scathing report on the contract, hourly rates paid to Accenture management actually rose (3%), rather than being cut. After this, the government was forced to finally renegotiate a cut to Accenture's billing rates. The Ontario government cut welfare payments to $355.71 per child in poverty and fired massive numbers of social service workers, making this contract essentially a transfer from those in need to those in Accenture. (4)

Accenture has a huge, problem-filled contract, to 'streamline' the delivery of welfare in Ontario. In 2000 and 2001, Accenture gave $20,000 Canadian to the governing Tories. Interestingly, they started making donations to the Tories only after the Tory government's Accenture contract was given a scathing review by the Provincial auditor, and they were forced to renegotiate the contract. Said Deputy Liberal Leader Sandra Pupatello: "They [Accenture] were fearing that they were going to lose the contract altogether because the government was taking far too much heat on this contract. Then, suddenly, they started contributing to the PC Coffers" (5)

And yet no one from Accenture or the Harris government were ever put under house arrest, despite the fact that they stole more money than Ms Rodgers or her unborn child ever could. Why is that?


1. Mike Harris's Ontario: Open for Business, Closed to People, Fernwood, 1997, ISBN: 1895686733

2. Bleak House, By Mark MacKinnon and Keith Lacey, Globe and Mail. August 18, 2001

3. Inquest into welfare mother's death begins, By Darren Yourk, Globe and Mail, October 15, 2002

4. "Tory Welfare Donations Under Fire", Hamilton Spectator, October 25, 2001

5. "Consulting Firm Boosts PC Coffers, Liberals Say", By Richard Brennan, Toronto Star, October 25th, 2001

Why Are Defense Department Computers Being Used to Insult Michael Ignatieff?

There is a very strange story that takes government spying to a new level (low).
Defence Department computers in Ottawa have been used to vandalize information on a Wikipedia site critical of the Conservative government's decision to spend billions on a new stealth fighter.

Nine attempts have been made to alter the online encyclopedia's entry on the Joint Strike Fighter, including the removal of information critical of the Harper government's plan to spend at least $16 billion on the fighters. Defence Department computers were also used to insert insults, aimed at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, into the Wikipedia Joint Strike Fighter page. Ignatieff has questioned the proposed purchase.
This is where our tax dollars are going?

You know I was thinking about that whole "Russian attack" thing, and while it made me angry, I also have realized something else. If this was a genuine threat, the military would have kept it secret until they were sure, so as not to alarm the populace.

Instead our defence minister (?) ran around screaming the "the sky is falling" and then issued a press release attacking Michael Ignatieff for wanting to cancel the planes.

This sounds more like the actions of a government in crisis. And they are handling this crisis the same way they handle every crisis. With childish attacks.

And they didn't stop at Michael Igantieff:
Quotes from news articles outlining opposition to the arms sale by University of B.C. professor Michael Byers, a former NDP candidate, were also removed. Wikipedia traced the alterations to three computers owned by Defence Research and Development Canada's Ottawa offices. The online site has labelled the July 20-21 alterations as vandalism. The attempts to change the web page, made during work hours, stopped when Wikipedia administrators locked down the entry on the JSF ...
Defence computers during working hours. No doubt they will put the blame on some low level employees and they'll be dismissed, hoping the whole thing just goes away. But this is part of a pattern that should be very alarming. This government does not allow dissent from anyone.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Guy Giorno Says He's Not Leaving. You Wanna Bet?

So if you were overjoyed to learn that Guy Giorno was leaving, apparently the rumours weren't true.

The most hated man in the country next to Stephen Harper, says he's sticking around. Clearly he hasn't done enough damage yet.

Personally, I'm glad. "Rasputin" helped us to get rid of Mike Harris, and this Karl Rove wannabe is doing the same with Herr Harper.

Giorno will have to find a new fascist he can control. I hear Tim Hudak may be hiring.

Sneak Preview of Fox News North

Love the new video. The all idiots, all the time station.

And speaking of idiots, or maybe I should should say blowhards, the campus Conservatives at the University of Ottawa are in a flap because student fees were used to rent a bus to go the G-20.

These students were performing their civic duty, part of becoming a responsible adult.

I'm sure if the fees were used to attend a Harper rally they would have no problem with it.

Give it up guys.

Authoritative and Bossy. Oh really? I Hadn't Noticed.

Susan Riley has a great column today about Stephen Harper and his handling of the RCMP controversy.

By the way, you can buy the T-Shirt here. It is part of Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper, so be sure to join and show your support.

Apparently Stephen Harper is on vacation. Poor boy is tired out from watching replays of the mess he made in Toronto. Too much excitement watching innocent civilians being pounded to the ground.

But Riley is speaking of the mess he made of the RCMP.

Is it too late for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to make an emergency booking at that Arizona company that provided troubled RCMP commissioner William Elliott with leadership coaching a couple of years ago?

Canadian taxpayers would probably be happy to pay the $44,000 fee, if the prime minister would sacrifice some well-earned holiday time. It would be a bargain, if it produced mature and effective national leadership -- instead of the petulant style on display in recent weeks.

... But he is not the central problem in Harper's Ottawa; Harper is. Anyone even vaguely familiar with the vast literature of management studies will recognize the prime ministerial style: bossy, bullying, cold -- or, in academic jargon, "exploitative-authoritative."

This kind of leader, say the experts, "has low concern for people and uses threats and other fear-based methods to achieve conformity. Communication is almost entirely downward ..." Examples abound.

Thank you Susan. That was awe inspiring.

Peter Mackay at it Again. The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

You would have thought that MacKay would have learned his lesson after the last time he pulled a "chicken little" or "henny penny", but once again he is trying to create a crisis.

Playing to his base who think we're still in the middle of the Cold War.

They are trying to justify the expenditure on these new jets, when clearly our old ones are doing just fine.

Can't afford them Petey. Join the Twenty-first century. Take a look around. We now have talking phones and everything.

As Marc Garneau and everyone else who isn't desperate for attention, reminds us:
The Liberal Party on Friday applauded Ottawa’s decision to send out the CF-18s, while raising questions over the publicity surrounding the incident with the Russians. The Liberals pointed out that faster two-engine fighter jets might
be better equipped than the single-engine F-35 to handle such confrontations. “The Russians have been doing these incursions routinely ... to see if we are doing our homework,” said Liberal MP Marc Garneau, a former military man and astronaut. “What I find surprising is that the Conservatives are jumping all over this. I think it’s part of their plan to bring attention to their purchase of F-35s.”

What a putz.

Harper's Incredible Shrinking Image

Lawrence Martin had a great column yesterday about Harper and his shrinking tent.

Martin is also laying much of the blame on Guy Giorno, a man more power hungry than Harper himself. However, he is forgetting that there was a reason for Harper alienating his supporters and choosing a master of image politics.

His image was tarnished and he knew it.

For five years Giorno made Mike Harris look like a premier by choreographing his every move, until Harris may have just got tired of it all and quit.

Because underneath the image presented to Ontarians through photo-ops and scripted press releases, was a government in trouble. Bad decision after bad decision was wearing them down.

But while Martin may believe that Stephen Harper is being given bad advice, he forgets how much Stephen Harper loves this stuff. He feeds off it. Giorno has made him a king.

They used to call Giorno Rasputin, but I think a more apt name would be Dr. Frankenstein, because the only thing Giorno creates is monsters.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Did Jack Layton Sabatoge Kyoto?

When Mike Harris was in government in Ontario, he tried to push through a deal on behalf of one of his most generous backers, The Cortellucci Group, who wanted to turn an abandoned mine into a dump site for Toronto's garbage.

Though the city of Toronto was initially interested, a group of concerned citizens around the Adams Mine, opposed the site, because the Harris government had curtailed any environmental assessments, which would have shown that this could have poisoned the ground water.

Harris fought tooth and nail. After all, groups like Cortellucci didn't come around often.

There is no doubt Cortellucci's Tory connections run deep, as do his pockets. Since 1995, the Cortellucci group of firms have donated almost $1 million to the party and played host to one of the marquee fundraising events on the Tory calendar a dinner every fall that brings in more than $300,000 in one evening. The $900,000 in donations to the party made up until 2001 represent the largest amount of money to come from any one company or group of companies with common ownership, outpacing even the firms owned by Peter Munk and the Barrick Gold fortune. Donations made since midway through 2001 are not yet publicly available. (1)

They would also contribute $47,000 to Jim Flaherty's leadership campaign and $ 40,000 to Tony Clement's, when they were running in 2002 to replace Harris, not to mention $100,000 to Stockwell Day when he was running for the leadership of the Alliance Party (1) (Clement was president).

At the Toronto meeting, two councillors who were concerned with the environment, presented a showing of the Simpsons "Trash of the Titans" that helped to sway the vote, and the dump was turned down. Those two councillors were Jack Layton and his wife Olivia Chow.

However, I have just started reading Elizabeth May's latest book: Losing Confidence, and was surprised to learn that Layton had apparently worked out a deal with Stephen Harper to sabotage Canada's role in Kyoto, and all for political gain. This is distressing to me because I voted for the NDP then.

What I didn't realize at the time was that Jack Layton had entered into a coalition with Harper to take Paul Martin down at the throne speech. He eventually backed out, but had I known I probably would not have had anything to do with the NDP after that. However:

By fall Of 2005, Jack Layton had decided he was not content with forcing changes to the minority government's budget. In a meeting with other opposition leaders, he struck a deal to bring down the Paul Martin government on November 28, 2005, unless Martin agreed to trigger an election and end his government early in the New Year ... What the news media missed, as they focused on whether Canadians would stand for an election over Christmas, was the most galling element of the Harper- Layton and Duceppe gambit; November 2 8 was the opening day of the most important global climate negotiations in history. The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ... Worse yet, Canada was the host for those negotiations, set to take place in Montreal. With Canada's government falling on the opening day, the whole process could be derailed. The president of the COP was, under the UN terms of hosting, the environment minister from the host country, Stephane Dion. Environmentalists from around the world were horrified. (2)

I always liked Stephane Dion and he handled himself very well at that conference. In fact to make sure that it went forward as planned despite the election call, Dion announced that on December 8 he worked for the UN and would not resume as a Canadian politician until December 10. How many people would do that?

I remember phoning Jack Layton to beg him not to bring down the government on the opening day of the climate conference. I had known and liked Jack since he was on Toronto City Council. He had been enormously helpful, volunteering as an auctioneer in local Sierra Club events. He told me when he ran for leader of the NDP that he was only seeking a role in federal politics to deal with the climate crisis. I had believed him. As he threatened to sabotage the most important global climate negotiations in history, I recall leaving a message on his cellphone: "How will you look at yourself in the mirror if you do this?" We spoke a few times. He was angry that Sierra Club had issued a press release saying, "There's more at stake than Christmas" and highlighting the threat to the Montreal talks. I had begged him to wait for a money vote in the House already scheduled for December 8. It was to no avail.

... I may never have been as devastated as when Stephen Harper was elected, knowing he would do whatever he could to stop progress in reducing greenhouse gases. What we didn't see as a further disaster in bringing down the government on November 2 8 was that it effectively rendered the Montreal negotiations invisible to the Canadian public. The media was off on the typical brainless pursuit of Canadian election as horserace. Policy and science, particularly UN discussions of the climate crisis, were not going to be covered in an election campaign.

It is only with hindsight that I have come to believe that the climate negotiations were not merely collateral damage to the incidental timing of November 2 8. I now believe that Harper and Layton had a shared desire to pull the plug before the Martin government had a chance to look good on the world stage. I think it is extremely likely, given the way Layton downplayed the climate threat in 2oo6, that a conscious decision was made by NDP strategists. They had to make sure the key issue remained Liberal corruption for the NDP to avoid losing votes to the Liberals.

Even during the 2008 election campaign, the NDP opposed the carbon tax as aggressively as the Conservatives, only saying later that they thought it was a good idea. I was so mad, because it was a good idea.

I certainly have a different opinion of Jack Layton now. So what does he stand for? Two election campaigns and he worked against action on climate change.

As a result we've had more than four years of no action at all. The 2006 platform called for a Made in Canada solution, but what few people knew was that the draft was written by a supposed non-profit group called Canadian Renewable Fuels Strategy, headed up by none other than Kory Teneycke. The same Kory Teneycke who became Harper's communication's chief and the same Kory Teneycke who is now flogging Fox News North.

Look at the brochure they printed. Filled with pictures of Conservatives, yet they claim to be non-profit and non-partisan. And they are still being promoted on the government website.

They appear to be an extension of Guy Giorno's anti-environmental group: Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions. It was an astroturf front group for Giorno's employers, National Public Relations (NPR), who are the lobbyists for the oil patch. John Baird spoke at one of their conferences, before he entered federal politics, bashing Kyoto, and yet became one of our environmental ministers.

We've been royally had. And to think that Jack Layon could have done something but chose his own political career, makes me very disappointed. Because according to the Star today: Global warming 'undeniable,' it's getting hotter every year.

“A comprehensive review of key climate indicators confirms the world is warming and the past decade was the warmest on record,” the annual State of the Climate report declares. Compiled by more than 300 scientists from 48 countries, the report said its analysis of 10 indicators that are “clearly and directly related to surface temperatures, all tell the same story: Global warming is undeniable.”

So Stephen Harper may have been able to direct our attention away from climate change, believing he's won, but not even he can simply put it on hold.

And Jack Layton, I am very angry with you. What Simpsons episode are you going to show now? Roasting on an Open Fire?


1. Developer's Tory party ties run deep - Caught in controversy over land deal: Proposal involves Adams Mine, By Kate Harries and Caroline Mallan, The Toronto Star. May. 9, 2003

2. Losing Confidence: Power, Politics, and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy, By Elizabeth May, McClelland & Stewart, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7710-5760-1, Pg. 2-7

Let's Get the Party Started: Good-Bye Stephen Harper

Sing this every time you see his picture, and believe me you'll see his picture a lot. And I mean a lot.

Dave Bennett wrote on the Canadian Dimension: Now is the Hour: Say Goodbye to Stephen Harper

I've ordered the party favours and we have the music. The day that man and his sidekick Guy Giorno walk off the Hill the cheering will be deafening. Hands down the worst government we've ever had.

Whether you saw him as a scheming megalomaniac or as an ill-advised puppet, the effect is the same ... Harper and his team must go. More and more Canadians are moved to gather the evidence, and I offer a sample in this article. York Prof. James Laxer wrote in his blog, “Reducing the normally vibrant city of Toronto to a comatose vegetable has not been a pretty sight. We have been treated to the methods of police state where there is no connect between the people and their supposed leaders. This must never be allowed to happen in our country again.”

James Laxer again: “Now the Harper government is back to putting ideology ahead of economic thinking. The Conservatives plan to continue lowering tax rates for corporations and the wealthy and they are determined to slash government spending, except for military outlays. Bash public servants, hold down their incomes, and cut social spending — that’s the recipe. If adopted by a large part of the world, it’s a recipe for depression.”

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na ... hey, hey.. GOODBYE!!!

Now everybody sing: "I don't like Stephen Harper .. I wish that he'd just go away" These guys are definitely invited to the party.

I Too am Profoundly Worried About the Absence and Erosion of Democracy in Canada

"His full conquest of the masses came only after [he] had silenced oppositional opinion and had acquired total control of the media." Konrad Heiden on Adolf Hitler

There is a very enlightening and terrifying article in the Ottawa Citizen today: A less proud country

I have written extensively about the similarities between what is happening in Canada today and what was taking place in Germany, as a man named Adolf Hitler was first entering the political scene.

So when I read the comments of a woman who lived in a Nazi death camp, it was like a bolt of lightening:
Ursula Franklin -- the celebrated physicist, pacifist, author and Companion of the Order of Canada -- recently spoke to CBC Radio's The Current. She had survived a Nazi death camp and come to Canada hoping for better. Now 88, Franklin is "profoundly worried about the absence and erosion of democracy in Canada."
I can share old articles from Times Magazine, but this woman was there. And she is likening Harper's Canada to Germany under the Nazis.

A journalist by the name of Ruth Andreas-Friedrich kept a journal during the days of the Holocaust that was published after the war. Ruth spent the time helping Jews escape and after it was over and Hitler was dead, she asked a woman in the street why she did not try to do something when she knew what was going on.

And the woman shrugged.

When are Canadians going to stop shrugging?

Our democracy that was so hard fought for, is slipping away, in a methodical and coldly calculated movement called neoconservatism.

I've mentioned before of a comment made by political philosopher, and one time girlfriend of Leo Strauss (who is deemed to be the father of the neoconservative movement), Hannah Arendt, who once questioned whether Nazi Germany was in fact a full totalitarian dictatorship, since it depended so heavily on a "certain societal consensus".

Hitler's chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels mastered it, by studying the work of Gustave Le Bon, a French social psychologist, sociologist and author of A Study of the Popular Mind. Mussolini is said to have kept a copy of this book on his bedside table, and read from it every night.

This book takes mob control to a scientific level and when Le Bon wrote it in 1896, he said that he was afraid that if this information got into the wrong hands it could be dangerous. And he was right.

Leo Strauss considered controlling the populace to be essential for success. He referred to us as the "ignorant masses". Friedrich Von Hayek, another man who inspired Harper and neocons everywhere, called us "the wandering herd".

This is why Stephen Harper doesn't speak to us. This is why our media isn't allowed to ask him questions or they get beat up. We are spoon fed photographs, and videos and carefully scripted press releases. That is how we are being governed, and if we don't wake up it's only going to get worse.

The G-20 was a screeching alarm that should have awoken every Canadian citizen. And yet most slept through it. And when they did awake they were lulled back to sleep by a media that blamed the terror on the peaceful protesters.
A German reporter here to cover the G20 summit likened Toronto's walls to the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. I was just in Berlin and the checkpoint these days comprises a few sandbags and two "soldiers" in Second World War American uniforms posing for tourists' cameras. Walls fall in one place, rise up in another. But surely not here?
The Berlin Wall, Canadian style. I am so proud.

The Real Stephen Harper

There was another story in the article that we need to pay attention to, because it speaks of the real Stephen Harper, before our image consultants worked to make him look prime ministerial.
The annual gathering of the Writers' Union of Canada took place in Ottawa in June, with many former chairs on hand to offer memories of their time in office. Susan Crean remembered encountering a young, blue-eyed politico at a constitutional conference in Calgary in 1992. When the man learned that she had co-authored a certain book about American domination of Canadian and Quebec politicians, the man responded: "You should not have been allowed to write that book."

The man: Stephen Harper. Crean never forgot his words, but especially the word allowed. The room full of writers in Ottawa issued a gasp. Crean later elaborated on the encounter. "Harper spoke to me first and asked if I had written 'that book.' I asked which one, and he mentioned Two Nations, which I wrote with Quebec activist/sociologist and well known independentiste Marcel Rioux. ... Harper was clearly still angry about having had to read it at university. In his view, I took it, the book was treasonous. I was so shaken by his words, and his open hostility, that I immediately left the dining room."
There is a petition going around that includes 150 organizations, that begins - "Since 2006 the Government of Canada has systematically undermined democratic institutions and practices, and has eroded the protection of free speech, and other fundamental human rights. It has deliberately set out to silence the voices of organizations or individuals who raise concerns about government policies or disagree with government positions. ... Organizations that disagree with the Government's positions and/or engage in advocacy have had their mandates criticized and their funding threatened, reduced or discontinued."

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. At the G-20 journalists and advocacy groups were specifically targeted. That is a very dangerous thing. We have got to start paying attention, because that angry young man who believed that books should be censored, is now an angry older man with far to much power, and it's more than books that are being censored.

It is us.

Elizabeth May to Speak at Canadians Advocating Political Participation

When Stephen Harper took his 2 1/2 month prorogue vacation, on the advice of his doctor, Guy Giorno, it set off a firestorm of protest, triggered in large part by Christopher White and Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament.

From that core group there were several spin-offs, including: Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper (part of Unseat Harper) and Catch 22 Harper Conservatives.

But another group is becoming very important, since they are working to get people engaged in the political process: Canadians Advocating Political Participation. Apathy favours the incumbent and dirty politics, like constant attack ads, help to create apathy.

So it's great news that Elizabeth May will be speaking at CAPP. She is brilliant and I'm really pushing for her to beat out the hapless Gary Lunn.

She needs to be in Parliament. It's that simple.

So if you live in the Toronto area, be sure to check it out.

Stephen Harper Gets Failing Grade on the Environment

But how do you get a failing grade on a class you never participated in?
More than three out of four leading Canadian bureaucrats, scientists and industry leaders believe the Harper government is missing the boat on "greening" the economy and adopting the wrong policies to address climate change, according to a new international study.

The survey of 5,109 senior stakeholders from government, industry and academia was conducted by McAllister Opinion Research and is one of the largest studies of its kind to assess the opinions of leading government and professional experts.

Out of 4,282 Canadian experts who participated in the survey, which also included U.S. and European experts, 77 per cent rated Canada's efforts at addressing climate change as poor or very poor, while 75 per cent had the same opinion about the country's performance in developing a green economy. The survey results also contrast with recent federal government policies to cancel measures supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy in favour of promoting new technologies that bury greenhouse gas emissions underground.
He'd better start listening to scientists and not Karl Giorno ... Guy Rove? Whatever.

Harper to Civil Servants: Tell Someone Who Cares

In another move suggesting that Herr Harper just can't stand people, he is also cancelling the civil servant survey because they simply have too many good ideas.

Harper hates good ideas.
The government solicits voluntary feedback from its workers every three years to improve programs and services. The survey gives a snapshot of workers' demographics, skills, career expectations and concerns. The union that represents civil servants accused the Tories of turning a deaf ear to the bureaucracy. "In eliminating this survey, I think government is quite clearly saying to their workforce that they're not interested," said Patty Ducharme, executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. "They're not interested in hearing their ideas, they're not interested in hearing what's actually going on in the workplace.
And as Tim Naumetz suggests, it's part of a broader narrative.
The uproar over Prime Minister Stephen Harper's political interference in the 2011 mandatory census has "legs" and a deeper impact than the government expected that could influence an election if one is held this fall, pollsters and opposition MPs say.
For Harper to be a t 31% in the poll, is very troubling for him, considering that Alberta always distorts the figures in the first place. Statistically, he's about 27-28.

Will this be his curtain call? We can only hope.

And the Good News is That Tony Clement Now Qualifies for Circus School

With Stephen Harper once again in hiding, leaving someone else to clean up his mess, Tony Clement is showing his true colours.

Yellow being the dominant one.

Left with scripted talking points, Harper's long time adversary Clement, is showing how he operates and it's clearly not very well.

But the good news is, part of the infrastucture spending was for a circus school, so he now has options.
The reviews of his performance – at least from a bevy of political pundits and the opposition – were not good. Maclean’s scribe Scott Feschuk provides a stinging bit of humour under the headline, “The Drowning of Tony Clement’s Credibility.” Noting that, like most Canadians, the minister likes his job and wants to keep it, Mr. Feshuk explains that “Tony Clement must now wake up each morning, walk out into the world and say things that make him sound like a wet-lipped halfwit.”

He adds that Mr. Clement must also “perpetuate a campaign of fear-mongering that even the most dedicated mongers of fear would hesitate to monger: Defenceless grandmothers receive the long form and get a’scared that they will be going to jail!”
I like "wet-lipped halfwit."

Harper's Next Big Career Move - He's Going to Join the Circus

Reports have been coming in steadily that reveal the absolute mishandling of the infrastructure spending, but this one takes the cake, or maybe the big red nose.

One of the places that was awarded money - our money - was a circus school. An absolute necessity during a recession.

To be fair, Stephen Harper will need a job soon, and since his only real job before getting into politics was in the mail room at Esso, his credentials are nothing to brag about.

Yes, he calls himself an economist, but he never worked a single day as economist.

But a clown ... now I could see that.

As the folks at MacLeans now ask: Ottawa’s stimulus fiasco
A circus school, a ferry to nowhere, lawn-bowling greens. This is vital infrastructure?

“This represents the largest infrastructure renewal effort in this country in over half a century.” So said Prime Minister Stephen Harper upon the launch of the Economic Action Plan. But as past scandals involving this sort of thing have shown, one man’s infrastructure is another’s boondoggle.
They didn't even try. When Harper's Karl Rove, formerly Mike Harris's Karl Rove; Guy Giorno, came up with this idea, it was only intended to be a PR stunt, since they had planned on calling an election in the spring. But Giorno gambled a bit too much, when he decided to prorogue for 2 1/2 months and they found themselves in deep doo doo.

I guess that's why they need a circus school to learn how to walk a tightrope. They've already destroyed our safety net.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Please Help to Save the Albatross

A story out of Kingston this week has gained some media coverage. An albatross, not indigenous to the Northern Hemisphere, was washed up on the shores of Wolfe Island and there is a campaign to have him sent to a more natural habitat.

Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee, Ontario, have always been involved in amazing animal rescue and they are once again coming through for this little guy.
The yellow-nosed albatross found washed up on the shore of Wolfe Island just over a week ago and currently convalescing at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee needs the public's help. A 15-foot, above-ground pool, to be filled with saltwater, has been donated to the centre to help the albatross in its recovery. Now the centre is looking for someone to install the pool for them, and someone who can transport the saltwater to the centre. The bird needs the saltwater to maintain its wings' waterproofing, said Leah Birmingham, assistant director at the centre.

After consulting with experts, however, it was decided that the bird's only chance of survival was to be released in its native southern hemisphere. "It's come to our attention that he would not be able to navigate the winds they face in the northern hemisphere to get back to the southern hemisphere," Birmingham said. As a result, the centre is currently trying to arrange for the bird to be flown to a reserve in South Africa, where it will be released back into its natural habitat.
We need to save this albatross because it helps to define who we are as Canadians, with a long tradition of helping strangers who wash up on our shores.

So please visit the Sandy Pines website and do what you can.

Thank You Natalie Gray. You are Indeed an Inspiration

I posted the other day on a young woman who had faced an horrific ordeal at the G-20, but instead of hiding under the covers in fear, she faced her fears and spoke at the rallies protesting the abuses.

She is not a thug or an anarchist, but a bright and articulate young woman.

The video of her speech was posted on CAPP and I found it very inspiring. I'm so glad that I can now put a name to this young heroine.

Natalie is sharing her story on Rabble, and is launching a lawsuit. I will be pulling for her all the way.
At the end of June, I went to Toronto to exercise my civil rights and march in active opposition to the G8 and G20 meetings being held there. On Sunday June 27th, I attended a jail solidarity protest that was peaceful. Without warning a line of riot police started moving towards us, and while running away, I was shot twice with rubber bullets, then arrested and incarcerated for 30 hours. I have been charged with obstruction of a peace officer. I have never been more terrified, more dehumanized or more in pain than I was that day. I wish my story were unique.
I wish her story was unique too, but sadly it is all too common.

And after much denial, the police now admit that they did indeed use rubber bullets on peaceful protesters. It was tough to deny with so much video evidence.
Rubber bullets were fired at the crowd outside the Eastern Ave. set up during the G20 Summit, a Toronto Police spokesman said Tuesday — one day after releasing erroneous information. Mark Pugash corrected a statement he made Monday to the Toronto Sun saying no rubber bullets were fired outside the temporary prisoner processing centre, saying he had received the wrong information.
And Joe Warmington, who first broke the story that the police were told to "stand down", when they were in a position to stop the vandalism, is again raising the question about the untendered 453 million dollar contract that Stephen Harper gave to an American firm.
Just how much of the $453-million RCMP budget from the federal government did Contemporary Security Canada receive for its contract for last month’s G8 and G20 summits? Could this work — given to a previously unlicensed company with roots in British Columbia and Utah — have been accomplished for less by licensed Ontario security companies? Was the tendering process fair and were appropriate conflict of interest guidelines followed to see who got to work the Hunstville and Toronto events? And how many out of town people were flown in?
Auditor General Sheila Fraser will be investigating the matter. Harper may wish he had jumped into "fake lake" when he had the chance.

Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry now has 56, 682 members. Be sure to join and show your support.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stephen Harper Can Sure Pick 'em. Another Embarrassment as RCMP Boss Bombs

So two of Harper's choices to head up important agencies have turned out to be duds. And true to form, Stephen Harper is not talking.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to the Star’s request for comment Monday. The RCMP told the CBC that a workplace assessment is being commissioned. The protest against Elliott, who became the first civilian to head the Mounties in July 2007, comes a month after controversial comments made by Canada’s top spy, CSIS director Richard Fadden.

Fadden said the Canadian Security intelligence Service had two provincial cabinet ministers and a number of municipal politicians under surveillance for their relationships with foreign governments. Both Elliott and Fadden were appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But Vic Toews is deeply troubled. He should be.

Stephen Harper and His Reformers at 31% in the Polls. Yikes!

Boy when he falls he falls hard. The headline suggests that voters are turning away from the Liberals, but I don't see it that way.

Harper is now below his threshold.

He has spent 10 million dollars running Ignatieff "Just Visiting" ads and spent almost 100 million dollars, approved by Guy Giorno, on tax payer funded self-promotion.

What is he going to campaign on?


Maybe he shouldn't have had Canadians beat up while he lounged at "fake lake". And Maybe he shouldn't be giving corporate tax cuts when we need all the money we can get.

Or maybe, just maybe, Canadians are finally waking up. Dare I dream?

So Tony Clement: How About the Province of Ontario Savings Office, Huh?

I had completely forgotten about this, but when Tony Clement was in the Mike Harris government, they gave personal information away:

When Ontario's Harris government wanted to find out how account holders felt about the idea of privatizing the Province of Ontario Savings Office, it simply gave the holders' names, phone numbers and account balances to a private polling firm to conduct a survey.

The private polling firm they gave it to was Angus Reid:
In 1997, the Ontario Privatization Secretariat, under Privatization Minister Rob Sampson, obtained all the names, addresses, phone numbers, and account balances of depositors at the provincially owned Province of Ontario Savings Office, and turned them over to Angus Reid Group Inc. This information was hidden until January 2000.

Kenneth Kagen, a lawyer with the Ministry of Finance, specializing in freedom of information and privacy issues: "It is arguable that the Province of Ontario Savings Office's transfer of the personal information may be properly characterized as an authorized use of such personal information."Said Anne Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner:

"Under what stretch of the imagination would this be characterized in such a way that an individual would have reasonably expected this use of their account information? It's just too big a stretch."
Rob Sampson was the man who helped Tony Clement sell one of our highways. (they sold everything that wasn't nailed down, or at least tried to)

And yet Clement is now trying to claim that he cares about our privacy. What a crock.
It was the minister, Tony Clement, who went first, steadfastly defending a decision at least ten of his Twitter followers support. He lamented the intrusiveness, he bemoaned the coercion. He managed to conclude his opening statement with the following shell game of a sentence: ”I encourage Canadians to fill out the national household survey should they choose to do so.” He seemed for the most part to be working on commission, paid per uses of the phrases “fair balance” and “jail” ... Not once, at least to these ears, did the minister concede that not a single Canadian has ever been so punished.
Once again Clement's radical ideology trumps intellectual decision making.
Parliamentary hearings on the census changes started with a bang on Tuesday morning, with opposition MPs grilling Industry Minister Tony Clement and accusing his government of creating a "manufactured crisis" over Canada's mandatory census. Liberal MP and Industry, Science and Technology critic Marc Garneau opened the questions to Clement, who oversees Statistics Canada,asking whether it's true the Privy Council Office and Finance Department recommended against these changes to the census — a situation related in some news reports.

Clement said he had "no knowledge" of what the Privy Council Office or Finance would have recommended in this case. He said his government altered the census to strike a "reasonable balance" between the need for the data and the desire to respect Canadians' privacy and not compel them to answer under threat of fines or jail time. His party's research showed that more complaints came in from citizens with each successive census and complaints "bubbled up" each time a new round began. Opposition MPs disputed the industry minister's claim that concerns about the census were widespread, with NDP MP Charlie Angus accusing Clement of "deliberately" mis-characterizing facts and making this decision based on ideology rather than fact.
He should leave it at he has "no knowledge. That one nobody would dispute.

André Pratte in LaPresse has it right:
... the census controversy was typical of the “rampage” against Canadian institutions the Conservatives have been on since taking power. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Environment Canada, The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Rights & Democracy, and now Statistics Canada… Which institution is the Harper government going to attack next?” he asked. Mr. Pratte went on to contend that the Harper government’s behaviour towards Statistics Canada has been guided by “simplistic ideology” and is further proof of the government’s “incompetence.” He argued that “a competent government would have asked Statistics Canada to do an in depth comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of mandatory versus voluntary census questionnaires […] Instead, the government decided on these changes, despite the reluctance of Statistics Canada, on the sole basis of some calls received by MPs at their riding offices. There are school boards governed more seriously than this.”
But I think Stockwell Day won the bone headed award when he claimed that it was attack on Jewish people. Says the man who once suggested to his Bible school class that Jews were the children of the Devil.
Here's the thing that does bother people though. The long form threatens 20% of all Canadians (that is how many are 'selected') with jail or other penalties if they don't cough up the info. Remember, these aren't people who are applying for permits or benefits. These are citizens just minding their own business. If you are among the groups of people who are demanding this free info I have a question for you based on past 'quizzes'. Do you think it is right that you can threaten your neighbour with jail time if she doesn't tell you if she has mental issues or not? Or who does what chores in the house? Or whether she is a Jew or not? Don't you find that one even a little bit chilling?
What I find chilling is that Stockwell Day is still in our government.

C'Mon Stephen Harper. Give us Some Truth About Afghanistan

With Harper's tight controlling of the message when it comes to the War in Afghanistan, these leaked documents could spell trouble.

"We have certainly not misled the Canadian public in any way, shape or form," Cannon said, calling the government's handling of information on Afghanistan "extremely transparent". "This is about leaked US documents, and yes, our government is concerned that operational leaks could endanger the lives of our men and women in Afghanistan," he added.

"Extremely transparent... Not misled the Canadian public in any way"? That's all they've done since taking over in 2006. Harper intentionally put our troops into the most dangerous situations to impress George Bush, but misled us into believing they were building schools.

I don't think we can simply walk away next year, after the mess we've made of things, but this invasion was doomed from the beginning. And what's different about these leaked documents is that none will be redacted, and apparently there are more to come.

There is one thing that really angered me though and it has nothing to do with the Conservatives mishandling of this mission. It was the fact that the US claims to be still "looking" for Bin Laden. The man has been dead since December 2001.

Last week, Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, visited Islamabad to announce US$500-million in aid to Pakistan. During her trip, she repeated she believes Osama bin Laden is hiding somewhere in the country.

Even Pat Buchanan is telling them to quit the charade.

Fox News reported his death within days:

Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader. "The Coalition troops are engaged in a mad search operation but they would never be able to fulfill their cherished goal of getting Usama alive or dead," the source said.

Bin Laden, according to the source, was suffering from a serious lung complication and succumbed to the disease in mid-December, in the vicinity of the Tora Bora mountains. The source claimed that bin Laden was laid to rest honorably in his last abode and his grave was made as per his Wahabi belief.

There is also a group of veterans trying to get the government to stop the nonsense. Those videotapes don't look a thing like him and the audiotapes are either old or doctored.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what all the documents reveal, but don't insult our intelligence by suggesting that Bin Laden is still in "hiding".

We Are at War and We Must Mobilize Our Allies

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

Although many Canadians don't yet realize it, we are at war; a worldwide class war of capital versus everyone else, a war which the bubble of the Keynesian welfare state temporarily obscured. In this war, the Right has daunting weapons. Over the past 20 years, capital has forged a unified coalition of business, politics, and fundamentalist religion. It owns most of the national and local media ... And through speculative manipulations, they have the power to disrupt the entire Canadian economy. As a result, they wield enormous influence over all levels of government and public opinion. The Right speaks with almost one voice and its vision is insinuating itself into the popular consensus. (1)
We are indeed at war, but our enemy is not the police, who are only following orders. And our enemy is not the corporate media, who write what they are told to write. And our enemy is not even Stephen Harper, who in this phenomenon of image politics, is only the current face of a formidable movement. He has no more power than we do.

Our enemy is Neoconservatism.

And now that we've been able to define that, we need to mobilize our allies, if we have any hope at all of restoring our democracy: "Because the success of the Right comes through carefully managing public opinion, the starting point for defeating the Right is through creating a well-informed public." (1)

Breaking Down the Conservative Myth

In 2004 Philip Agre wrote a paper: What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

Q: What is conservatism? A:
Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism? A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world. (2)

What Agre is describing is not Conservatism but Neoconservatism, and therein lies the problem. The party now headed by Stephen Harper is not our historical Conservative "Tory" party, and we need to constantly remind Canadians of that. Neoconservatism is the antithesis of Conservatism and relates more to fascism than democracy.

But rather than force a demagogue on a democratic society, they wrap him up in a cloak of moderation and sell him as a man (or woman) of the people.

One time girlfriend of Leo Strauss (who is deemed to be the father of the neoconservative movement), Hannah Arendt, herself a respected political philosopher, once questioned whether Nazi Germany was in fact a full totalitarian dictatorship, since it depended so heavily on a "certain societal consensus". (3) Their success depended on directing and exploiting public opinion, and they did it masterfully.

That consensus was engineered by the masterful propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Today it is engineered by people like Karl Rove and Guy Giorno, who not only help to get their "leader" elected, but stick around to make sure they do as they're told. And when the government gets into trouble they send their "leader" on a photo-op, so they never have to wear the controversy, leaving others to clean up the mess.

Defining Our Allies - We're Stronger Than we Think
The conventional wisdom in electoral politics has been that getting the support of great numbers of people was more important than courting the wealthy who had money to spend. Rather than pleasing the well-off, good politics decreed that a party design policies to appeal to the great mass of middle-income voters, not the top 20 percent, but the 60 percent in the middle-income brackets. The bottom 20 percent could be safely ignored, as they could be assumed not to vote. However, their basic needs would be covered, not forgotten or left to charity. The favoured electoral strategy was to unite the middle, build support around programmes with wide appeal, and show how each benefits from programmes available to all. (4)
But neoconservatism takes a different approach. They unite upper-income voters around a programme that appeals to the interests of the wealthy, and then convince many middle- and low-income people of the advantages of more business and less government.

But more importantly they create common enemies of the 20% of society that are a nation's most vulnerable. Those who are invisible.
What about the economic insecurity of our poorest fellow citizens? Why can't our politics address this? It can't be because everyone has shared the fruits of our recent economic boom. It can't be because the poor don't exist. It must be because they have become invisible. (5)
We need to include that 20% and convince them that they must vote, and once we have voted out this neoconservative government, we need to make sure that our most vulnerable never become invisible again. Neocons want us to believe that our "too generous and unaffordable" social programs must be cut or eliminated and wages must be held down (6) to feed this monster named "economy". Meanwhile, the wealthiest citizens just keep getting wealthier, while they are going through with massive corporate tax cuts, and preaching austerity to everyone else.

And of that 60% in the middle, those who support social programs and demand rights are marginalized. And intellectuals who try to cloud issues with facts are dismissed as "university types" and demonized.

So while we advocate for specific groups, march and demonstrate, we have to remember that we are all in this together. We have a common enemy and as such are allies. Neoconservative governments do not allow dissent, but they cannot ignore 80% of the population.

We keep hearing about Harper's "base", that he is pandering to, but who is this "base"? I suspect that many believe they are voting for the party of Sir John A. and John Diefenbaker, without realizing that if the full agenda of this party is implemented, they too will be thrown into the fire, if we lose our public health care and access to education.

In 1994, speaking on behalf of the National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper was discussing the accomplishments of the NCC.
"Universality has been severely reduced: It is virtually dead as a concept in most areas of public policy. The family allowance program has been eliminated and unemployment insurance has been seriously cut back." (6)
He believes that if you are successful, it's because you worked for it, forgetting that things like access to public education and medicare, helped toward that success. And if we allow this to continue, we will end up with a Third World type of societal structure, something that has long been a goal of neoconservatism. It's why they fought so hard to maintain apartheid in South Africa and keep Nelson Mandela in jail.

The Politics of Fear

Harper's former VP when he was president of the National Citizens, Gerry Nicholls, wrote recently that:
"Hate and fear make the world go around. Those are the two emotions you must arouse to mobilize citizens. Why is that? I would venture to say that it’s because they are powerful primal emotions that trigger the fight or flight response. What’s important, though, is that you recognize and harness their power." (7)
Another element to the success of the neoconservative movement is fear. It was no accident that at the G-20, journalists and advocacy groups were targeted by riot police. There was a message there. Cross us and you will pay. He is sending the same message to NGOs who risk losing their funding if they challenge any government decision.

But it is also fear of other forces. Rick Salutin explains:
Since the Second World War, the U.S. economy has been built around what you might call the fear sector: its military-industrial complex, its crime-prison complex and its homeland-terror complex. We're now seeing the first attempt by a Canadian government to follow this model.

... The Harper government is clearly impressed. They don't seem to mind big government, if they can tax and spend in the fear sector. So they've expanded our military budget and just announced a $9-billion (or maybe $16-billion) purchase of 65 U.S. jets we'll have to find some use for. They're increasing the prison population through U.S.-style sentencing laws and planning "major construction initiatives" that will boost (sorry) corrections costs by 43 per cent. On homeland security, there's that amazing $1.2-billion spent at the G20.

But it's a hard sell. Canadians will have to be persuaded to shift more money from a stretched health-care system to the fear sector. The benefits here aren't as obvious. For buying those jets, all our firms get is the right to bid on U.S contracts. Lotsa luck. Mostly, though, there's the fear culture that you need for a fear sector. (8)
So we need to cut through all this. Some suggest that we should study the tactics of Karl Rove and emulate them, but I don't agree. I hate divisive politics and I don't think those tactics help anyone. They just turn people off.

We need to mobilize the 2/3 of Canadians who don't support the Harper regime, and educate those of the 1/3, who believe they are supporting the Canadian Conservative tradition.

There are several grassroots attempting to do that, including:

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament

Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper

Canadians Demanding a Full Public Inquiry in to the G-20

Canadians for a Liberal-NDP-Green partnership NOW!! (If you like the idea of a coalition. I prefer a Liberal government with the NDP as official opposition, but would definitely be on board with a coalition if that's what it takes)

Catch 22 Harper Conservatives

I'm going to end with one of my favourite John Lennon songs to get us in the mood. I share it often, but am sharing it again, because .. well, this is my blog and I love John Lennon.


1. Open for Business, Closed to People: Introduction, By Diana Ralph, Fernwood, 1997, ISBN: 1895686733, Pg. 15

2. What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? By Philip E. Agre, Polaris, August 2004

3. The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda, By: David Welch, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-203-93014-2

4. The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By Michael Ignatieff, Anansi Books, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-88784-762-2, Pg. 20

5. Comes the Revolution: Waiting for the Pendulum to Swing Back, By E. Finn, Canadian Forum, August 1995

6. Will the real Stephen Harper please stand up? A citizen’s guide to comparing election campaign promises to deeply held beliefs, By Murray Dobbin, January 10, 2006

7. The Trudeau Empire Has Fallen and It Can’t Get Up! Why now is the time for the Canadian conservative movement to win the War of Ideas, By Gerry Nicholls, December 3, 2008

8. Canadian government adopts America's fear economy, By Rick Salutin, Rabble, July 23, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Agree. Stephen Harper is the Most Dangerous Prime Minister Ever

There is a letter to the editor published in the Ottawa Citizen by Harvey Davey:
I taught Canadian history for more than 30 years. I marvel at Harper's successes. Yes, he has made some serious blunders but they have not stopped him. He learns from his mistakes. I believe that Stephen Harper is the most dangerous prime minister we have ever had. The Opposition must get its act together.
I think that Michael Ignatieff has found his feet. This summer tour was a great idea. He is relaxed and motivated and I'm feeling optimistic.

Stephen Harper is burning himself out, governing from crisis to crisis. And as more people have joined the opposition to his gutting the mandatory long from, we have more voters who will tell other voters that these guys have got go.
The National Statistics Council issued an urgent call for the federal Conservatives to reconsider their decision to scrap the mandatory, long-form census.

The council, a 40-member volunteer advisory group whose members are selected by the federal government, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision would undermine the value of the information that Canadian businesses, governments and social agencies rely on to plan their programs and invest private and taxpayers’ dollars.

Loss of the information from the mandatory, long-form census in 2011 would leave “a serious gap” in monitoring the economic and social changes occurring in society while “depriving Canadians of the statistics they need for informed decision-making,” Ian McKinnon, chair of the council, said.
Catch 22 Conservatives, a grassroots group mobilizing for the next election, has posted a great satirical piece on the census. Well worth the read. Join them as well. The more the merrier.

And don't forget Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper.

We can do this guys.

Harper's Pig-Headedness Causing Strain in Canada/US relationship.”

Despite Harper's love of everything American, or should I say everything Republican, he is causing an unnecessary diplomatic crisis, with his unmoving stance on repatriating prisoners.

George Bush was more enlightened than this man.
After years of cordial relations with the United States on the issue of prison transfers, the Harper government’s recent crackdown on repatriating offenders may be causing a diplomatic rift. Documents obtained by Postmedia News under Access To Information indicate the U.S. Department of State sent a diplomatic note to the Canadian Embassy in Washington last December outlining concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the transfer of offenders.

“The U.S. government has apparently done what it could to bring this unfair situation to the attention of the Conservative government of Canada,” said Dick Atkins, a prominent U.S. attorney who specializes in international offender transfers. “I know that in my speaking to U.S. government authorities they said they had exhausted their remedies.” For more than 30 years a matter of routine procedure, the Conservatives decided last year to get tough on Canadians who want to serve their sentences for crimes committed in other countries on home soil.