Monday, February 28, 2011

Those F-35s and Why Taxpayers Must Demand Some Answers

Embassy Magazine has an interesting piece this week on the procurement of the F-35's and Harper's veil of secrecy surrounding it.

The author of the story, Carl Meyer, asks: Has F-35 procurement process been ‘twisted’?
The Department of National Defence says it is hiding a key F-35 document from the public because that type of document is classified. Yet its own website hosts many of these same types of papers for public downloading, almost all of which are marked as "unclassified." This has prompted allegations the Harper government and military have "twisted" Canada’s procurement process so it can buy the billion-dollar planes.
This type of document is called a "Statement of Operational Requirements," and is typically released publicly so Canadians can examine what their armed forces need before their tax dollars are spent. But we have not been given that opportunity, and the few accountings they do give us, have been disputed by experts, including our own Parliamentary budget officer.
However in an unusual step, the Harper government did not release an operational requirements statement before announcing its plan to replace Canada’s fleet of ageing CF-18 fighter jets with the F-35. In fact, the military has admitted it chose the F-35 before it even drew up the Statement of Operational Requirements.
Instead of giving us the required documents, they have released a two-page memo, nothing close to the original, which would have been as many as 100.

But considering that we now know that the military was kicking the tires of F-35s as far back as 2006, there may be another reason for not making the details of the procurement public. The planes had a lot of design problems.
On May 3, 2007, during the 19th test flight of the prototype of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a serious electrical malfunction occurred in the control of the plane. After an emergency landing the malfunction could be identified as a crucial problem, and it became clear that redesign of critical electronic components was necessary. Producer Lockheed Martin and program officials first announced there was a minor problem, and later on they avoided any further publicity about the problems.
But not reporting on their problems did not mean that they had been solved. In fact, even now many military experts are claiming that the F-35s will be a maintenance nightmare, and while Canadians can bid on maintenance contracts, there is absolutely no guarantee that any of our firms will be able to cash in. Since taxpayers will be on the hoof for the enormous costs, it would be at least nice to know that there could be good jobs created. But so far rumours indicate that Israel may have already been promised much of the gravy. What gravy the U.S. didn't need for themselves.


But let's look at the Harper government's justifications for these planes. Protection of the Arctic appears to be their biggest boast, but these planes have since been determined not to be suitable for Arctic operations. No doubt another reason why Harper has buried the report.
The plane's stealth and ground-attack capabilities make it ill-suited for patrolling the arctic. The F-35 is made for "shock and awe" bombing missions abroad, but Canada has only dropped bombs from its aircraft once since the Second World War (in Kosovo). And the air force never sent its current fleet of CF-18 fighter-bombers to Afghanistan during a decade of war.

The F-35's, the Must Have Toy of the Season

Another recent article about the F-35s is worth reading. Barry Neild with the Global Post is asking Why is Obama peddling Lockheed Martin’s stealth F-35 fighter around the world? Especially important since their defense minister wants to reduce his own country's purchase of the plane by half, and they have cancelled plans for replacement engines.

So why has the American president become a travelling salesman for Lockheed Martin, and is it wise to sell this type of aircraft to just anyone?
To some, it might seem odd that the commander-in-chief is willing to hand over keys to aircraft packed to the hilt with the latest U.S. military technology — particularly radar-evading stealth, which no other country yet has — even if the paying customers are allies. At a time of global instability, particularly in the Middle East, some observers say this hard sell is risky. In the 1970s, the United States sold F-14 fighters to a friendly, seemingly-stable Iran. These later fell into hostile hands after a regime change.
Neild suggests that the main reason for the sales pitch is to aid in economic recovery.
“It’s big business, and it’s long term business. You don't sell an aircraft and that's the end of the company's involvement — it goes on for at least 30 years.” Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association, argues that attempts to sell the F-35 overseas are part of the Obama administration’s efforts to double U.S. arms exports and thus aid economic recovery.

But even if F-35s are merely being deployed against economic uncertainty rather than into aerial combat, Abramson warned of other consequences. “In general, it is unwise to think of arms sales as just any other commercial transaction,” he said, suggesting that the F-35s could be vulnerable to misuse or even contribute to regional arms races and instability. “Any transfer agreement must consider whether the proposed weapons are appropriate for their intended use, and whether they might contribute to regional arms races or instability. It’s not clear that all the discussions around F-35s have adequately taken these considerations in mind.”
If the planes are being pushed to aid U.S. recovery, are there not better ways to stimulate the economy than getting involved in an arms race? Any suggested advantage that Canada will have with these planes is just smoke, because everyone, friends or foe, will be sporting these news babies. They are just for show.

Steven Staples, President of the Rideau Institute, reminds us that former President Eisenhower warned us of defense spending becoming an economic tool.
Eisenhower, a war hero and former five-star general, was not a pacifist. Instead he called for "balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual." Many in Canada support having a military for natural disasters, search and rescue, protecting our sovereignty, and UN peacekeeping. But this is contingent upon a reasonable cost to the taxpayer, and must be considered alongside other priorities such as healthcare.

In an earlier speech, Eisenhower put the choice starkly: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed."
Money put into healtcare, the environment, and the eradication of poverty, will also create jobs. Ethical jobs. These planes are just for show, but in the end, will impress no one. They are so last week. Like showing up a party and everyone is wearing your dress.

Getting Information From the Conservatives is Like Pulling Teeth

A recent assessment by the Parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, shows that the Conservatives are once again in contempt of Parliament for not releasing the true costs of their enormous spending bills. Prisons, F-35s and corporate tax cuts.
The Fiscal Transparency report from Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page says the federal government has withheld crucial information about crime legislation and the multibillion-dollar planned purchase of F-35 fighter jets, and has put out questionable forecasts on the impact of coming corporate tax cuts.
I only learned that Israel was getting all the service contracts (including 20 free planes) by reading Israeli newspapers.

It's like pulling teeth to get any information from this government or our media.

Bob Rae recently suggested root canal, to try and bore through the Bev Oda affair. So maybe we don't need auditors. Maybe what we need is a good dentist.

Only 26% of Canadians Comfortable With Harper Majority. Now is the Time to Write the Narrative

The UN checkpoint was a sand-bagged portakabin manned by two Canadian infantrymen guarding a road barrier between the Croat- and Serb-held sections of Pakrac in central Croatia. The road to the checkpoint wound its way between pulverized bungalows, upended cars in the ditches, waist-high grass in abandoned gardens. Just visible in the grass, as we approached the checkpoint, were
teenage Croatian spotters, with their binoculars trained on the Serbian side.

The UN had just waved us through into Serb-held territory when fifteen armed Serbian paramilitaries surrounded our van. They had been drinking at a wedding in their village.

The drunkest one, with dead eyes and glassy, sweat-beaded skin, forced the van door open and clambered in. 'We watching you,' he said, making binocular gestures with his hands. 'You talk to Ustashe,' and he pointed back at the Croatians hiding in the grass. Then he took the pistol out of his belt. 'You fucking spies,' he said. He ordered the driver out at gunpoint, took the wheel and began revving the engine. Why can't I shoot this?' groaned the cameraman in the seat behind. 'Because he'll shoot you,' someone in the back of the van muttered.

The Serb put the van into gear and it was moving off when one of the UN soldiers yanked open the door, grabbed the keys and shut off the ignition. 'We'll do this my way,'the UN soldier said, breathing heavily, half pulling, half cajoling the Serb out of the driver's seat. Another young Serb in combat gear pushed his way into the van and shook his head. 'I am police. You are under arrest. Follow me.' (1)

That might sound like a scene from a Tom Clancy film, but it is not. It is part of the narrative of the life of Michael Ignatieff. A true story from his days as a war correspondent when he went into places few journalists would dare.

Those paragraphs are the opening to his book, Blood and Belonging: Journeys Into the New Nationalism, that won the Gordon Montador Award for Best Canadian Book on Social Issues and the University of Toronto's Lionel Gelber Prize. He would later create a documentary based on Blood and Belonging, which won him a Gemini in 1993.

All Canadian awards. Not bad for someone who is "just visiting".

A recent poll conducted by Nanos research, shows that only 26% of those questioned would support a Harper majority, his lowest score yet. This is not based on the old "secret agenda" ads, that Harper supporters claimed scared us off.

This is instead based on five years of Harper rule, and it is opinion based on fact.

What Canadians have been subjected to is a government with far too many secrets. A government that vilifies their opponents, intimidates public servants, and engages in guerrilla warfare, throughout what are supposed to be arms length government agencies.

And Stephen Harper is a man who refuses to answer questions. Who hides behind our troops, and our police forces. Who believes that the beating up of Canadian civilians is "good" police work and public dissent, an important civic duty, makes us enemies of the state. Hence the need for such "good" police work.

He is a man so enamoured with a foreign country (Israel) that he is willing to put our own safety in jeopardy, so as to always take Israel's side. He has marginalized Muslims, Arabs, gays and women.

And while suggesting that Michael Ignatieff is not Canadian enough, because his illustrious career took him outside the country, Stephen Harper has allowed the American Religious Right to dictate our morality. The American National Rifle Association to draft our gun policies. He allowed an American firm to build the Canadian pavilion at the CANADIAN Olympics, and another American firm to make the CANADA Action plan signs.

He is erasing our borders, and has created arbitrary trade deals, that will only benefit multinational corporations, while costing Canadians good jobs. With the help of Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs, he has deregulated our once sound banking industry, so that we will not weather another economic downturn, as well as we did the last.

He has cut funding to scientific research and called Global Warming a "socialist plot". His aggressive foreign policies and one-sided approach to the Middle East, cost us a seat on the UN Security Council, and under him, Canada has dropped in terms of one of the best places to live.

So his recent dip in trustworthiness, can be blamed on him and him alone. Canadians don't trust him because he has given us reason not to trust him.

But the Nanos research also reveals something else, when it comes to Michael Ignatieff.

When asked whether each of the party leaders would help, hinder or have no impact on the fortunes of their local candidate during an election, only 18 per cent thought Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff would boost their fortunes; 30 per cent thought his leadership would do more harm than good. That gives him a net impact score of minus 12 per cent, compared with the plus 19 per cent score he enjoyed when he became leader in April, 2009. It is a precipitous drop.

... “It speaks to the missed opportunity to write the narrative on Michael Ignatieff,” Mr. Nanos believes. When the Liberals failed to construct that narrative, the Conservatives seized the opportunity and decided to tell the story their way. “Just visiting.” “He didn’t come back for you.” It worked.

However, I believe it only worked in the short term. Yes the Conservatives have a lot of corporate money behind them and can afford to run expensive attack ads, so we've been subjected to two years of non-stop character assassination.

However, they have also given Michael Ignatieff an opportunity to flaunt his resume. What may have at one time looked like bragging, will now be simply defending himself. And Liberal supporters must do the same.

So consider this me, seizing the opportunity, and beginning to write the narrative that is Michael Ignatieff.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Conservative Party was Born of Corruption and Will go Down in Corruption

"Bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison.” - Stephen Harper
Fancy words for a man who had just been involved in bending the rules, breaking the law and abusing the public trust, in an election fraud scheme dubbed the "In and Out"

As Scott Reid says:
According to Elections Canada, it's official: The Conservatives cheated in the 2006 federal election campaign. The latest evidence came yesterday when formal charges were laid against the Conservative Party itself and assorted senior officials including former campaign chief and current Senator Doug Finley.

Let's pause to allow the full significance of that statement time to steep. Elections Canada, the national, non-partisan institution charged by statute with overseeing the clean and accountable conduct of national elections, believes the Harper Conservatives incorrectly re-directed $1.3 million to unlawfully amplify its 2006 advertising budget.
Let's forget the almost $800,000.00 that Conservative candidates received that they weren't entitled to. The Conservatives broke the law, bringing their entire 2006 victory into question.

Stephen Harper is calling it an "accounting matter". So was the Enron scandal.

This is a very serious matter, that leaves Jack Layton with a bit of a dilemma. He was contemplating supporting the corporate tax cuts, which would have probably had Tommy Douglas and David Lewis, rise from their graves to slap him upside the head.

But now he has to decide whether or not to prop up a corrupt government. This becomes something else altogether. As Joan Bryden says: Charges against top Tories could trigger spring election.
NDP Leader Jack Layton's price for supporting the upcoming budget might have just gone up, in light of charges laid against four top Conservative officials over an election financing scheme. Layton, the only opposition leader Harper has any real hope of inducing to support next month's federal budget, used strong words to describe the charges. "(Tory officials) may well have been responsible for breaking election laws and causing unfair election results . . . You have a government that you cannot trust with our precious democracy, that's what I would boil it down to," Layton told The Canadian Press.
We can expect the Conservative talking points machine to go into overdrive, but there are some things you can't talk your way out of. They cheated. They stole money. They have to go.

Or as someone once told us:

”Bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison.”

Canada Action Plan Ads are a Work of Fiction

The latest $6.5 million tax payer funded ads are quite a work of fiction.

Just enough 'truth' to make them believable. Like saying that Canada has the lowest debt and deficit of the G7. True in numbers, but when based on the percentage of our GDP, we actually have one of the highest. For instance, Britain, though they owe more money, their debt constitutes 42% of their GDP, while Canada's is almost 63%.

But the biggest fudge is on the employment situation. The jobs that are being created are not the same as the ones we lost.

According to Tavia Grant in the Globe:’s employment landscape looks dramatically different than it did before the downturn: The number of jobless people rose by 800,000 between October, 2008, and October of last year. More people are involuntarily working part-time, and long-term unemployment has surged – to nearly a quarter of jobless people, from 15 per cent before the downturn.

That surge is particularly worrisome. Long-term joblessness “can impair an individual’s ability to find a job when the economy improves,” said the authors, Jason Gilmore and Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté. “It can also affect stress levels and psychological well-being, and household finances often deteriorate, especially for those who exhaust their employment insurance benefits.” Among the long-term unemployed, the number of people without a job for at least a year doubled during the two-year period.
Our actual unemployment rate is 10%.

The stimulus programs provide temporary construction jobs, that do little for women, and the projects they are creating do not provide long-term jobs. I mean how many new jobs will a $4 library to a private religious school create?

We also have to remember that the global economic crisis was not something that came from nowhere, beyond any one's imagination or control. It was engineered by Wall Street and Goldman Sachs. The same Wall Street and Goldman Sachs now camped out in Jim Flaherty's office.

It's time for a reality check.

The Differences Between Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper are Absolute

It's interesting watching the latest rounds of attack ads against Michael Ignatieff, using soundbites to suggest that he is not Canadian enough. He didn't come back for us. How silly. I could have sworn he came for me.

And besides, what has Stephen Harper done for us lately? Ever? He is the most narcissistic, self-centred person on the planet.

Joan Bryden wrote for the Canadian Press under the heading: Ignatieff stokes election fever, lays out contrast with Harper Tories

This is the message that the Liberals and Michael Ignatieff have to focus on. Because the differences between Ignatieff and Harper are profound, beginning with the fact that the first leads a party, while the other controls a party.
As Ignatieff told it, it will be a choice between a strong team and a one-man show, between a leader who listens and one who imposes his ideology, between a leader who inspires hope and one who traffics in fear, between a leader who wants to invest in family care, education and retirement security and a prime minister who'd rather spend billions on prisons, stealth fighter jets and corporate tax cuts. His tub-thumping performance came during a Liberal caucus retreat, held ostensibly to plot strategy for Monday's resumption of Parliament but aimed more at preparing for a possible election that could be triggered over the federal budget, expected in March.
Having a strong team is something that the Liberals have over the Conservatives in spades. Harper's science minister, Gary Goodyear, doesn't believe in science (aka Evolution). The Liberal science critic, Marc Garneau, was an astronaut. I think he believes in science.

Harper's immigration minister, Jason Kenney, has a high school education. The Liberal critic, Justin Trudeau, is not only the son of one of Canada's longest serving prime ministers, and well educated, but has been an activist for social issues, including literacy.

The list goes on.

Irwin Cotler, the Human Rights critic, is considered an expert on international and human rights law. As an international human rights lawyer, he served as counsel to Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Stephen Harper belonged to a group that worked to keep Mandela in prison.

Pablo Rodríguez, Canadian Heritage critic, has dedicated much of his time to humanitarian causes. "...his belief in helping developing countries and the eradication of poverty led him to collaborate with numerous organizations including Oxfam-Québec, where he was a Vice-President for nearly four years." Stephen Harper has instead been choking off and threatening to choke off the funding of humanitarian aid groups: "Other aid organizations that speak out on public issues say they have received warnings that their funding is in jeopardy. Stories of unsettling conversations with federal officials are spreading through the aid community. The only safe policy seems to be silence." Instilling fear in aid organizations. How cowardly.

Bob Rae is a Rhodes Scholar and former premier of Ontario.

Ujjal Dosanjh is a former premier of BC, and was on the board of directors for BC Civil Liberties Association, the Vancouver Multicultural Society, and the Labour Advocacy Research Association. All things alien to the Harper government.

Kirsty Duncan, is a recipient of the Knowledge Millennium Award. “This award is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant mark on theme of the Global Knowledge Millennium summit. This year’s theme is emerging health threats – and Dr. Duncan has been recognized for her contribution to research on flu pandemics. A Nobel laureate herself, she will stand amongst six other Nobel laureates who previously won the award."

A Nobel laureate. At a time when our government is promoting ignorance.

Michael Ignatieff wants his legacy to be a national childcare plan, costing a billion dollars a year. Harper gives a handout that does nothing to provide quality childcare and has cost us 12 billion during his five year reign of terror, or $2.4 billion a year.

Michael Ignatieff has a PhD from Harvard and has taught at schools like Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics. Harper has a masters in economics from a school ranked 33rd for it's business programs, but has never worked a single day as an economist. His only real job was the mail room at Esso. He is a career politician and it shows.

Michael Ignatieff was a war correspondent, spending time in places where Stephen Harper would probably wet his pants just watching the conflicts on television.

Michael Ignatieff is an award winning producer of documentaries, taking home a Gemini for Blood and Belonging. Stephen Harper runs juvenile attack ads.

Michael Ignatieff has written 17 books, several winning awards and translated into 12 different languages. Stephen Harper writes fundraising letters and plagiarizes speeches.

I'm so sick of the promotion of ignorance in Canadian politics. It's time to bring back some smart. It's time to get rid of Stephen Harper by voting him out.

I did take a bit of offense to Bryden's piece though, when in suggesting that it was Ignatieff pushing for an election, "While he made no apologies for Liberals propping up the government in the past, Ignatieff signalled those morale-sapping days are over."

The media seems to forget that Michael Ignatieff was quite prepared to bring down Stephen Harper in the past, but when he announced it publicly, they went into a tailspin, and Jack Layton pulled in his horns, keeping the Harper regime alive.

Ignatieff is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't. I'm glad he's fighting back.

It's now all up to Jack Layton. He has to put his money where his mouth is. Will he be the one to save Harper's butt, even if it means accepting more corporate tax cuts, something that goes against the very foundation of the NDP?

Ignatieff has a lot of reasons to be smiling these days.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rona Ambrose Forgot to Mention That Her Government Supports Rape if The Victim Dresses Provocatively

Rona Amrose, the "minister of doing worse than nothing for women" gave a speech to the UN, touting her government's record on the rights of women. It was worse than when she spoke on climate change and went into a partisan rant, causing the international community to contemplate calling security. They thought she was having a psychotic break.

But for anyone in that party to suggest that their government supports women's rights is a liar. I can't use anymore descriptive language than that.

And it is especially infuriating given this story. I have been sick since I read it.

One of the useless judges that Harper appointed to do his bidding, has put a rapist out on the street because he claimed that the victim was dressed too sexy.

A rape victim is slamming the controversial decision of a Manitoba judge who gave her attacker a lenient sentence on the basis she may have sent out mixed signals about her sexual intentions. "This is beyond sexist. I don't even know how to comment on it. No woman asks to be raped. I'm so pissed off," the 26-year-old single mother told the Free Press in an exclusive telephone interview Thursday from her rural Manitoba home. "Nobody knows what it was like to be in this position. It's not something I'd ever want to go through again. No woman should have to."

Kenneth Rhodes was given a two-year conditional penalty last week, which allows him to remain free in the community. The Crown wanted at least three years behind bars, citing numerous case precedents suggesting that is the starting point for a major sexual assault.

When Helena Guergis was "minister of doing worse than nothing for women", she blamed date rape on the hypersexuality of young girls. But it was Helena Guergis and she's an idiot. But a judge? Inexcusable.

I'm surprised that Rona Ambrose would even have the nerve to show up an international women's conference, given the fact that her government has done more to reverse gains made than any I've ever known, or thought could exist. We've dropped from 7th to 25th place in the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Index, under her boss.

Not to mention:
He cancelled the Liberal early learning and child care agreements that would have made child care affordable and given women more flexibility to participate in the workforce, while the Conservative Minister responsible for early learning and child care, Diane Finley, said the Liberal child care plan “wanted to ensure that parents were forced to have other people raise their children,” and that caregivers should use “vacation time” to care for sick or aging loved ones.

He attacked the rights of Canadian women by turning a woman’s right to pay equity into something up for grabs at the collective bargaining table.

He put equitable representation on the back burner by decreasing the number of women appointed to public office.

He refused a unanimous call from the House of Commons to create a National Violence Against Women Prevention Strategy and continues to ignore the endemic violence against Aboriginal women and girls.

He forced 12 organizations that promoted women’s equality to shut their doors because they disagreed with his ideological position, particularly on reproductive rights and maternal health, and cut all funding for research and advocacy.
Rona Ambrose does not speak for me and she does not speak for Canadian women. She lost that privilege when she refused to speak up to Stephen Harper.

Stephen Harper Does Not Lead Because he Does Not Inspire

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams
After five years of Harper there is still a lot of debate over his leadership skills. Some in the media will praise his ability to keep his caucus in line. But he does this by keeping them muzzled, allowing them only to read scripts written by the boys in the backroom. That is not leadership. That is control.

If a leader's role is to inspire, how is this inspiring? The message to those under him, is that he has no faith in their abilities. They are only to obey him and fear him, and that they do. Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro, when interviewed for Lawrence Martin's book Harperland, said that he is even afraid when picking out a tie, that it will be the wrong one, and he will be chewed out by Harper's posse because it is not the look they needed for a particular skit or photo-op.

Instilling fear is not a leadership quality.
"The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm." - H. Gordon Selfridge
Another attribute of a good leader is taking responsibility. And this is where Stephen Harper fails miserably as a leader, because he refuses to take responsibility for anything.

Instead he coaches those under him, feeding them talking points, with the express intent to provide cover. To excuse his actions and not account for them.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the worst of the debate over the Afghan Detainee issue, Stephen Harper was busy with photo-ops, demanding that those in the House stick to script, even when those scripted answers were totally irrelevant to the questions asked. And these brilliant gems were simply that "there is no proof", "our men and women in uniform", blah, blah, blah.

Peter Braid had an absolute meltdown trying to handle an interview when Tom Clark made it clear that no talking points were allowed. It was a train wreck.

We also witnessed a severe lack of leadership over the G-20 weekend in Toronto. I haven't watched the Fifth Estate episode from last night yet, but have it taped. My husband, though I'd spoke often of it, wasn't really aware until last night just how horrendous it was. He came downstairs ashen faced, and said that it reminded him of Nazi Germany and the Gestapo. I wonder how many others were hearing for the first time, of those events that took place not in Nazi Germany, but in present day Canada.

And as Carol Goar reminds us:
While local police officers beat protesters, arrested innocent citizens, abused their authority and refused to own up to their actions, it was the federal government that designed and implemented the security operation. Eight months after the fiasco, with five inquiries underway, Canadians are no closer to knowing who was at the top of the chain of command.
A real leader would have made a statement, other than the standard talking point that the police acted admirably. A real leader would have demanded to know why the citizens of the nation he was supposed to be leading, were privy to such human rights abuses. And a real leader would have stood with the victims, not hid behind the perpetrators.

The list of things that Stephen Harper refuses to be accountable for is staggering.

Our lack of accountability when it comes to the tar sands and their impact on the environment. Instead of taking a leadership role, he sabotages global negotiations, earning a colossal fossil award for Canada, not once, but twice. And he continues to print money for the industry, with grants of 1.4 billion a year. He is also using our money for a pipeline that will send all the good jobs South.

- Two self-serving prorogations, just to save his job.

- Lies about the legitimacy of a coalition government. Especially given that he himself had manoeuvred the same kind of deal in 2004, with the full participation of the Bloc.

- The "In and Out" scheme that resulted in his party being able to spend a million dollars more than the others during the final leg of the campaign. It also allowed Conservative candidates to claim almost $800,000.00 in credits that they weren't entitled to. This was akin to cheating on your income tax.

- The Bev Oda affair.

- The Chuck Cadman bribe, when Harper was caught on tape admitting to knowing that a dying man was being bribed with a life insurance policy if he voted the right way. Doug Finley was mixed up in that one too.

- Our loss of the UN Security council seat. A direct result of our changes in foreign policy.

- The Income Trust debacle, when Goldman Sachs clients netted $35 billion, while many Canadian seniors lost their life savings.

The list goes on.
"I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?" Benjamin Disraeli.
Stephen Harper does not follow the people. He does not stand with the people. He does not stand up for the people.
"Stephen Harper is NOT a leader!" - Emily Dee

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jim Flaherty, Golman Sachs and a "Pig in a Poke"

This is the next in my series on Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs, AIG and Canada's massive bank bailout. Those following the story already knew of the $125 billion from Canadian taxpayers, but for the first time we heard of how our big five banks also received bailout money from the U.S. Treasury, apaprently in the amount of $111 billion.

But unfortunately the story that appeared in the Globe and Mail vanished almost as soon as it was posted. The only other person who had seen this illusive column was Mark McQueen: Fed's Remarkable Disclosure of Funds for Canada’s Five Largest Banks. His link to the story is also broken.

So I decided to do a bit of digging on my own, and it is indeed true. You just have to let your fingers travel the globe and pick up scraps where you can, so bear with me.

On May 13, 2010, American journalist John Lott reported: Guess What, America, You're Bailing Out Banks All Over the World!
To say that Americans weren't thrilled by the original government bailout of American financial institutions is an understatement. But if they were upset with that plan, imagine how furious they’re going to be when they start to understand that the Obama administration has begun bailing out banks from Japan, Canada and Europe.

.... With the exception of $30 billion to Canadian banks, the Federal Reserve won't reveal how much of these subsidized loans they are giving to foreign banks. And why we would want to subsidize Canadian banks is a mystery in the first place. Compared to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy has done fairly well during the global economic crisis.
In September of 2008, the U.S. government was already contemplating bailing out foreign banks who had dealing in the U.S., lifting many requirements, and this was being handled by Henry Paulson.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson confirmed the change on ABC's "This Week," telling George Stephanopoulos that coverage of foreign-based banks is "a distinction without a difference to the American people."
And who is Henry Paulson? The former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs. He loosened the criteria for bailouts to include anyone who had dealings with AIG. And as we know, that included Canadian banks courtesy of Steve and Jimbo.

The Financial Post reported in March of 2009 that the Bank of Montreal scored big on the deal.
Bank of Montreal has emerged as one of the key beneficiaries of the costly decision by the U.S. government to rescue American International Group. Canada’s fourth-largest bank is among the top 10 recipients of federal bailout money paid to financial counterparties by the stricken insurer, according to documents published by AIG.

The payments were revealed after pressure from Capitol Hill for an account of how taxpayer money had been spent by the company amid a rising populist backlash. The documents show a least US$1.1-billion of bailout money was funneled to BMO alongside payouts of up to US$13-billion each to U.S. and European banks.
So while they were given $125 billion tax dollars so that we could buy back their toxic paper, they also put out their other hand and took from American taxpayers. And while they were losing their homes and their livelihoods, our so-called "good banks" were feeding from the public trough on both sides of the border.

CNN were also reporting on our "good banks" and the difficulty in getting information South of the border. BMO appears on the list. And with some of the money they bought up AIG in Canada. As a result they were investigated by the NY Attorney general's office.
Bank of Montreal is being caught up in a widening probe into the use of bailout funds by American International Group, the distressed U.S. insurer. Payments made by AIG to Canada’s fourth-largest bank are due to be examined by the New York Attorney-General Andrew Cuomo as part of an inquiry into billions in taxpayer money funnelled to financial institutions.

The investigation comes as the attention of U.S. lawmakers turns to the payouts to banks following a political firestorm over bonuses handed by the insurer to staff at a controversial unit that sold credit protection to sophisticated financial clients. "Our investigation into corporate bonuses has led us to an investigation of the credit default swap contracts at AIG," the Attorney-General’s office said. BMO declined to comment.
And according to Insurance News Net:
Reports name AIG's derivative counterparties, including BMO NEW YORK _ The U.S. government bailout of insurance giant American International Group Inc. has benefited at least two-dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions _ including the Bank of Montreal _ who together collected some $50 billion, news reports said Saturday.
BMO was also a partner in their derivatives game, that brought on the global economic crisis.

So Goldman Sach's Henry Paulson was in charge of distributing funds to banks and is trying to keep quiet how much went to foreign interests, including Canada's big five. Goldman Sach's Mark Carney is now the Governor of the Bank of Canada. Goldman Sach's Timothy Hodgson is his assistant in charge of derivatives, and Flaherty is allowing our CPP funds to be invested in this high-risk gamble.

Our Pig in the Poke

Matt Taibbi in his piece Wall Street's Bailout Hustle, refers to one aspect of the entire scam as a "Pig in the Poke".
The scam's name comes from the Middle Ages, when some fool would be sold a bound and gagged pig that he would see being put into a bag; he'd miss the switch, then get home and find a tied-up cat in there instead. Hence the expression "Don't let the cat out of the bag."The "Pig in the Poke" scam is another key to the entire bailout era. After the crash of the housing bubble — the largest asset bubble in history — the economy was suddenly flooded with securities backed by failing or near-failing home loans. In the cleanup phase after that bubble burst, the whole game was to get taxpayers, clients and shareholders to buy these worthless cats, but at pig prices.

One of the first times we saw the scam appear was in September 2008, right around the time that AIG was imploding. That was when the Fed changed some of its collateral rules, meaning banks that could once borrow only against sound collateral, like Treasury bills or AAA-rated corporate bonds, could now borrow against pretty much anything — including some of the mortgage-backed sewage that got us into this mess in the first place. In other words, banks that once had to show a real pig to borrow from the Fed could now show up with a cat and get pig money. "All of a sudden, banks were allowed to post absolute shit to the Fed's balance sheet," says the manager of the prominent hedge fund.
At about this time, we were in the middle of an election campaign in Canada, and when Stephane Dione sounded the alarm, both Jim Flaherty and Mark Carney laughed and referred to him as "Chicken Little". And yet not long after Flaherty announced his first 25 billion bank bailout, when he started buying their toxic assets on behalf of the Canadian taxpayer.

He tried to say it was not a bailout, but what did the Canadian tax payer get for this investment? The cat in the bag. Our "good banks" played fast and loose with the requirements for loans and mortgages, absorbing none of the risks.

When it all came tumbling down, what did they do? They used their bailout money to buy up defunct U.S. banks, and deregulated our industry to meet the lower U.S. standards, meaning that if there is another meltdown, Canada will not do so well.

And according to Market Watch, that could take place as early as Christmas of 2011.

Yet the Conservatives are using our money to convince us that they are the best to handle the "economy". Our "pig in the poke". We think that somewhere we have money and sound investments, but in fact we have nothing but a boatload of debt and no regulations to protect us from unscrupulous Wall Street. Instead they've been moved in.


1. It's Time to Have a Serious Conversation About Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs

2. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and the Foxes in the Henhouse

3. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and "The Swoop and Squat"

4. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and AIG Comes Calling

5. Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs: The "Cooling Off" period

Why is Canada Building a Detention Centre in Lybia????!!!!

In September of 2009, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was supposed to visit Canada. But when the media got wind of it, he cancelled his plans and the uproar died down.

With his usual empty rhetoric, Harper denounced the brutal dictator.
"We understand Mr Gadhafi won't be refueling in Canada," a foreign affairs official said this afternoon. Canada had been planning an icy reception for the African dictator. While the stop-over was not deemed an official visit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had asked Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon to deliver a tongue-lashing to the Libyan leader, who for many years was an international pariah for his support of terrorism.
If that's the case, why is a Canadian firm building a detention centre in Libya? A country guilty of some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. And who are they building it for?
SNC-Lavalin has confirmed it has a contract to build a detention centre in Libya, a country currently gripped by violence as pro-democracy protesters clash with hardline government forces. The Montreal-based engineering giant has said the facility will be the "first to be built according to international human rights standards."

"We think this is an important step forward for this country and an opportunity for us as a company to share values that we think are essential to all citizens of the world," Leslie Quinton, the company's vice-president of global communications said in an email Thursday. Quinton denied reports that SNC-Lavalin was concealing the project. "It is one of the thousands of projects we work on yearly, not all of which are announced by press release."
And the Harper government gave this firm a contract, even after they were involved in corruption.
The Canadian unit of General Dynamics Corp., the world's biggest defence contractor, said Monday it will supply a fully digital communications system to the Canadian Army, ensuring troops will continue to have access to critical communications services in combat zones. The contract, awarded by the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada, is worth $341 million over the five initial years and can be extended for up to five more years, bringing the total tab to $682 million.
And they were given another contract by the Harper government to provide security.
Officials from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have told Canwest News Service that work on the Arghandab irrigation project — Canada's biggest foreign aid project in a generation — is only just getting started and will continue well into 2012, long after Canadian troops have left the province. Canadian civilian workers from Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin and irrigation consultant Hydrosult Inc. will soon start arriving to begin their work on the project, Canwest was told.
What is Harper getting us mixed up in now?

A Group May Challenge Harper's Perimeter Deal Since it Violates our Constitution

In another case of the people fighting back, a group in Quebec may launch a class action suit against the Harper government for violating our Constitution with his attempt to erase our borders.
The grounds for their prospective “class action” legal claim against the Harper government, and what they also describe as their “accomplices” in Parliament, is that the Security Perimeter (i) violates the Constitution Act, 1867; (ii) the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (iii) constitutes treason, and a breach of the fiduciary obligation of the Harper government to defend the best interests of Canadians, (iv) and parliamentary law that is also related to Canadian constitutional customs and conventions.
There are some things that ever Herr Harper cannot get away with.

Charges Finally Being Laid Against the Conservative Party for Election Financing Scheme

Good news today, that finally after years of tying this up in the courts, the Conservative Party is having to face charges for the election financing scheme dubbed the "In and Out".
Elections Canada has laid charges against the Conservative Party and four of its members, including two senators, over alleged violations of election spending rules. CBC News has learned from Conservative sources the charges were laid Wednesday. The party members charged are: Senator Doug Finley, the party's campaign director in 2006 and 2008, and the husband of Human Resources Development Minister Diane Finley. Senator Irving Gerstein, a prominent businessman and fundraiser for the party.

Michael Donison, a former national party director. Susan Kehoe, who has served as an interim party executive director. The charges, which were laid under the Canada Elections Act, are regulatory, not criminal, and relate to the so-called "in-and-out" campaign financing case from 2006.
When the RCMP raided the Conservative offices they called it a publicity stunt, engineered by the Liberals. But the fact is that when Elections Canada arrived at their offices with a search warrant, the staff refused to hand over documents, while the shredders could be heard in the back offices. It was only then that Elections Canada was forced to call in the RCMP.

The Liberals arrived two hours after the event, when the news was spreading.

I suspect they will spin this as well, but both those senators must step down, without pay.

New Survey: Who is Your Favourite Cartoon Character, John Baird or Dimitri Soudas?

Just when you thought Dimitri Soudas couldn't say anything more stupid, he outdoes himself. With John Baird shoving a pair of socks in Bev Oda's mouth to avoid accountability and transparency, Dimitri Soudas referred to Bob Rae's comments about Harper's backroom boys being Jihadists, as an insult to victims of terrorism.

Go right for the jugular.

This from a man who called environmental activists "terrorists", and created a "crisis" in Vancouver over peaceful protests against closing down the safe injection site. He only got involved because the wonderful Libby Davies stood with her constituents.

But Bob Rae has a very valid point and one we should be paying attention to. Those young boys in the backroom do control everything, while the people elected to represent us have lost their voice. Their only function is to read lines and take part in ridiculous little skits.

And Rae was not the first to sound the alarm.

In May of 2006, Bruce Champion-Smith wrote a piece for the Toronto Star: How Harper controls the spin
"What we're seeing here is a degree of control within the government, within the caucus ... that we haven't seen for a very long time .... That control extends to every corner of government.
Even the military
At a recent news conference, senior military officers were under government orders to answer reporters' questions only on the condition that they were not identified."I have to live within that limitation," Lt.-Gen. Walter Natynczyk, vice-chief of defence staff, told reporters.
And from our former ambassador to Afghanistan

Arif Lalani, Canada's ambassador in Afghanistan, is not allowed to speak with reporters without having each individual request approved by Ottawa, sources say. The Canadian International Development Agency has no one in Kandahar authorized to speak with reporters, even though development is ostensibly the focus of the extended mission.

And this tight messaging control caused a delay in the reporting of detainees. According to Brian Stewart of CBC:
All three of the independent military commands at that point (in 2007) — the Canadian, Dutch and British — knew that under international law they were responsible for the well being of all Afghans they picked up, even after they were handed over to Afghan prisons and interrogation centres. The Dutch were concerned enough to report immediately any handover to the local Red Cross
officials. Britain acted within 24 hours.

But Canada? hen Canadian soldiers brought in the usually hooded and tightly bound detainee, our military police on the spot would first inform the colonels and generals in the Kandahar mission control centre. But instead of alerting the Red Cross right away, like the Dutch and British, these commanders, following orders, sent the information to CEFCOM, the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command in Ottawa. his information would then be passed over to Defence Headquarters and to Foreign Affairs.
By the time the information was vetted, no one knew where the detainees had gone.

And in 2007 evidence revealed that Stephen Harper's office was already engaged in a cover up.

WASHINGTON–Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office used a "6,000-mile screwdriver" to oversee the denial of reports of Afghan detainee abuse when the scandal first erupted in 2007, according to a former senior NATO public affairs official who was then based in Kabul. The former official, speaking on condition his name not be used, told the Toronto Star that Harper's office in Ottawa "scripted and fed" the precise wording NATO officials in Kabul used to repudiate allegations of abuse "at a time when it was privately and generally acknowledged in our office that the chances of good treatment at the hands of Afghan security forces were almost zero."

"It was highly unusual. I was told this was the titanic issue for Prime Minister Harper and that every single statement that went out needed to be cleared by him personally," said the former official, who is not Canadian.

"The lines were, 'We have no evidence' of coercive treatment being used against detainees handed over to the Afghans. There were very clear instructions for a blanket denial. The pressure to hold to that line was channelled via Canadian military and diplomatic personnel in Kabul. But it was made clear to us that this was coming from the Prime Minister's Office, which was running the public affairs aspect of Canadian engagement in Afghanistan with a 6,000-mile screwdriver."

And even more alarming, according to Rick Hillier, Stephen Harper's backroom boys want to now run our wars from behind the safety of their junk food laden desks. (Hillier slams 'field marshal wannabes' in revised edition of his memoir, By: Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press, October 11, 2010)
Canada's former top soldier is warning that "field marshal wannabes" are angling to take a bigger role in directing the day-to-day operations of military forces in the field. Retired general Rick Hillier says a policy paper is circulating around senior levels of the Harper government that suggests the Clerk of the Privy Council and the deputy minister of defence take a greater role to "guide" the military.The former chief of defence staff writes, in a new postscript for the softcover edition of his memoirs, that there is a growing movement within the federal government to establish a system of micro-management that could extend from the highest reaches of Ottawa all the way down to individual combat units.

...The notion that the military needs greater guidance on how to conduct operations irked Hillier. "What crap!" Hillier writes in the new edition of A Soldier First, an advance copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.
So when Bob Rae uses strong language to sound the alarm on Harper's Jihadists, we need to pay attention. This is a very serious issue. These young men are not elected and therefore don't have to be accountable to anyone except our dictator.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Conservatives Down to less Than 33% in the Polls. Better Whip Those Cheques Out Faster Stevie

There's just so much to blog about today. It's so exciting. From memos with a paper trail right to Stevie, showing how his party stole over 200 million for a partisan ad campaign, to the "integrity" officer on the lam, being captured in Florida.

Now the really good news. The people are listening and Stevie has plunked again. 32.4% Guess all his attack ads are paying off, huh? I think he's just overdone it.

Caught lying and dipping his hands in the cookie jar in the same week. Let's see him spin his way out of this one.
The Bev Oda affair and voter unease over the possibility of a Harper majority government has awakened a sleeping electorate that’s finally paying attention to federal politics, pollster Frank Graves says.

His latest survey shows big swings in voter intention as the 12.5-point lead Stephen Harper’s Conservatives enjoyed over Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals two weeks ago has evaporated to a mere five points – 32.4 per cent of Canadians support the Tories compared to 27.3 per cent for the Grits. The NDP has 14.8 per cent support, the Bloc is at 10.5 per cent and the Green Party garners 11.9 per cent.
Has the progressive revolution finally hit Canada? I'm pulling out my bell bottoms and platform shoes just in case. I'm not missing this for anything.

The Progressive Revolution Continues. Now in Pennsylvania

I think the Left has finally found their voice. From Egypt to Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, the progressives are fighting back. Noam Chomsky says: Only a Massive Uprising Will Change Our Politics. He's right and I think it's coming.

The UK Guardian has an excellent column by Ewen MacAskill : US left finds it voice over Wisconsin attack on union rights. State capitol building under occupation as tens of thousands turn out for biggest demonstrations since the Vietnam war.
Proudly displayed in a corner window of the Barriques coffee shop, a block from Wisconsin's state capitol building, is a poster advocating Workers of the World Unite – not the kind of sign normally seen in shops in America.

But the last fortnight has been unusual. Tens of thousands have been turning out in this normally quiet midwest city for the biggest demonstrations in the US since the Vietnam war, and the state capitol building is under occupation day and night. After a year dominated by the Tea Party, the American left has found its voice, and a cause, united against a bill backed by the state's Republican governor, Scott Walker, to neuter public sector unions.
This has been so long coming. There is talk of a rally on Parliament Hill, similar to the anti-prorogation rallies of a year ago. I'll keep you updated if I hear more.

Preston Manning is weighing in, poor dear, pretending to understand grassroots movements. The Reformers were corporate sponsored AstroTurfers, much like the U.S. Tea Party. They only posed as populist. Even his Manning Centre was started with a ten million dollar "anonymous" corporate donation. Who is he trying to kid?

But a change is 'gonna come. I can feel it in my bones.

Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs Capers on Film, Part IV

Secret Memo Reveals that Canada Action Plan Was Nothing but a Massive Ad Campaign. Duh!

The Canadian Press is reporting: Documents show Economic Action Plan marketing blitz a PMO production from the get-go
A flashy taxpayer-funded website was conceived as the "key component" in marketing the Conservative government's Economic Action Plan, a secret memo prepared for Stephen Harper reveals. And right from the get-go, images and video of the prime minister were integral building blocks that pre-occupied programmers building the site, according to internal government documents obtained by The Canadian Press.

Two years later, Canadians are still being blanketed with Economic Action Plan marketing, an all-of-government program designed to enforce "a single, consistent brand ... across all departments and agencies." On Thursday, some 80 government MPs, ministers and senators were dispatched across the country to tout EAP projects, even as the program officially winds down. Television viewers have been bombarded since January with a fresh round of pricey, action-plan advertising — ads that uniformly direct viewers to thewww.actionplan.gc.cawebsite. Documents reveal it is part of a massive, centrally co-ordinated campaign — critics call it partisan propaganda — orchestrated out of the Prime Minister's Office at taxpayer expense.
Many of us have been saying that from the start, but only now have documents revealed it to be true. We are talking roughly $200 million dollars to promote Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada.

So who is going to go to jail over this? We already know that bureaucrats warned them that what they were doing was not only unethical but illegal.

So when one of those 80 MPs come to your town, with your credit card, trying to buy your vote, make some noise and demand some answers.

Just think of what that money could have bought.

And claiming that he doesn't want an election now, when his electioneering is so transparent, is just more smoke.
The Harper Conservatives are hoping for an election despite their claims to the contrary, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff alleged Thursday. "The government is crisscrossing the country by spending money with all kinds of promises, useless promises," he told reporters in Ottawa. "We don't want an election, but I think he [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] is the one that wants an election."

Ignatieff was referring to a series of events being held across the country Thursday involving a spate of Conservative MPs. The events revolved around projects from the government's Economic Action Plan.
Time to pull the plug. We can no longer afford this government. They are bankrupting us.

But now that we know this is a fraud, we need to email or write every television station running these ads, and let them know that they are accomplices in the theft of our money.

Civil disobedience.

Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs: The "Cooling Off" period

This is the next in my series on Jim Flaherty's Canadian financial crisis, and how we got there. Since it's not registering that Canada had a massive bank bailout and we are now the proud owners of $125 billion worth of rotten paper, I went back to the beginning, so you can see how we got here from there.

Stephen Harper has always supported bank deregulation and often chided the Liberal government for being too cautious. It's a good thing they were. As Trish Hennessey says in her piece: The Quiet Erosion of Canada’s Regulation System

Canada’s economy was shel­tered from the worst of the 2008 global economic meltdown because our bank regulations are tougher than they are in competing jurisdictions like the U.S. Fol­lowing our own high standards paid off, and protected Canadians from the eco­nomic devastation that brought entire nations such as Iceland and the U.S. to the brink of ruin.

Yet our federal government continues to quietly deregulate Canada. Our own Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is warn­ing against strong regulatory practices. In a speech to the G20 in January 20102, Harper warned other nations against ‘ex­cessive’ financial regulations — a coun­terintuitive message, given strong regulations saved Canadians from the economic devastation our American counterparts are experiencing today.

Given that deregulation in the United States paved the way for Goldman Sachs to almost destroy the global economy, we might want to ask why our finance minister has made a Goldman Sachs employee, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, who has become a cheerleader for Harper's policies.

And he's brought along another Goldman Sachs employee to act as an advisor. We simply aren't tearing down our safety net fast enough. And this new Goldman Sachs employee, Timothy Hodgson, will be handling derivatives, like the ones that help to bring on the economic crisis?

Matt Taibbi wrote for the Rolling Stone, a piece called, Wall Street's Bailout Hustle, as he reveals the con game played by Wall Street and Goldman Sachs. He calls the current period the "Cool off", which in the grifter world is the calming down period. Get your mark to trust you again.

But given that Wall Street, bailed out by the taxpayer, is again engaging in reckless behaviour, he believes that we are heading toward another meltdown.
The bottom line is that banks like Goldman have learned absolutely nothing from the global economic meltdown. In fact, they're back conniving and playing speculative long shots in force — only this time with the full financial support of the U.S. government. In the process, they're rapidly re-creating the conditions for another crash, with the same actors once again playing the same crazy games of financial chicken with the same toxic assets as before. (2)
Only this time Canada's safety net is full of big gaping holes and Wall Street has paved it's way to Parliament Hill.

Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty and Their Cooling Off Period

The first "cool off" for Steve and Jim came in the fall of 2008, when they announced with much fanfare that they were closing the door on 40-year, no down payment mortgages. What they didn't mention was that the only reason Canada had mortgages like that was because Steve and Jim allowed AIG, Goldman Sachs and other American gamblers to bring them to Canada.

But economists and bankers were sounding the alarm, sending letter after letter to the federal finance department, asking them to quit. But it was only after news began spreading over the sub-prime meltdown south of the border, that these two decided they'd better cool it for a bit.

AIG didn't lose a dime, because Flaherty had already put up $200 billion Canadian tax dollars to make sure they didn't. But CMHC cried foul, our banks just cried, and Jimbo came to the rescue, buying the junk back so they could get them off the books before the mainstream media caught on. Too late though.

The cat was out of the bag.

So Steve and Jim went public, with "we're going to put a stop to this" and most in the media hailed them as heroes. Kinda like a bank robbery when one criminal helps to apprehend the others but still manages to make off with the dough.

And when they bought this junk back they tried to say it wasn't a "bank bailout", but that was, well ... a lie:
Harper called the recent CMHC deal "simply a market intervention ... to ensure our credit markets are functioning strongly." But Grinspun [York University political economist Ricardo] dismisses that interpretation: "Taxpayers are assuming risky assets and giving away safe ones." The problem, says Grinspun, is Harper and Flaherty haven't addressed the issues that exacerbated the crisis, including lack of transparency, greater deregulation and a philosophy the markets know best. (3)
A few people made a lot of money off our mini housing boom, and the only ones left with nothing but garbage, were the Canadian taxpayers. And can we withstand another meltdown with this toxic debt still on our books?

The new "cool off" of calming down the marks (us) is being helped along with millions of tax dollars going to sell us on the myth that this government piloted us through the recession. Unfortunately the ship is the Titanic and the iceberg may be just up ahead.


1. It's Time to Have a Serious Conversation About Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs

2. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and the Foxes in the Henhouse

3. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and "The Swoop and Squat"

4. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and AIG Comes Calling


1. Disaster in the Making: The Quiet Erosion of Canada’s Regulation System, By Trish Hennessy, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, February 22, 2011

2. Wall Street's Bailout Hustle, By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, February 17, 2010

3. Deficit not 'dirty' word experts warn Tories, By Linda Liebel, Toronto Star, October 27, 2008

Putting a Value on Human Life and Why Corporate Rule is Wrong

With the situation in Libya becoming increasingly volatile, Canadian citizens are there waiting to be rescued. But the corporate insurance company won't do it because of the cost of potential liability.

Like GM determining that an American life was worth $ 6.19, and Stephen Harper hiring a private firm to place a value on the life of an Afghan child, it has been determined that a Canadian life is not worth much at all.

Conservative MPs are on a cross country spending blitz with our credit cards, making the Canadian taxpayer fund their re-election campaign, but we have no money to cover the liability of saving human lives. And of course the corporations are exploiting this to justify raising the price of gas.

That's the trouble with corporate rule. They reduce us all to dollars and cents.

Excellent Mercer Rant on Stephen Harper's Lies and Secrecy

The Smoking Gun That Will Help us to Bring Down the Harper Dictatorship?

Canada's former "integrity" officer has been found in Florida. After ignoring a subpoena on the advice no doubt of Harper himself, she's been on the lam.

Ignoring subpoenas is Harper's m.o. When a committee was investigating the alleged election financing fraud, he told witnesses to ignore the subpoenas, then he shut down the committee and called an election, keeping everything tied up in the courts for years.

Taxpayers foot the bill.

When the Afghan Detainee issue was becoming too hot to handle, Harper told witnesses to ignore subpoenas and shut down the committee by proroguing Parliament and has kept that tied up in the courts for months.

Taxpayers foot the bill. (130 million for the prorogation alone.)

So should we be surprised that former, apparently "lack of integrity" commissioner, Christiane Ouimet, has ignored the subpoena and fled the country? And as Lawrence Martin says, Harper will drag this out in the courts, hoping to get an election out of the way before having to answer to over 200 serious fraud related charges?
There’s Bev Oda. Then there is someone who makes Ms. Oda’s actions, judging from a recent Auditor-General’s report, look rather angelic. The elusive former integrity commissioner, Christiane Ouimet, was finally located last week – in Florida. And now that she has been located, the Conservative government may face one of its stiffest tests of damage control. Ms. Ouimet (rhymes with Antoinette) is the public servant who, according to Sheila Fraser’s damning report, did not do her job properly – choosing to investigate just seven of 228 complaints about wrongdoing in the public sector – possibly saving the Harper government multiple embarrassments.

After failing to appear before a parliamentary committee despite being subpoenaed, she sent a rather terse message to the committee through her lawyer
saying she was willing to return March 10 to face interrogators. What a show it promises to be. Given the large number of uninvestigated cases that came before
her, the possibility of smoking guns suddenly appearing on the government’s doorstep can hardly be discarded.
Apparently many are very serious. Could we see some go to jail? I mean the Conservatives claim to be tough on crime. But then if they only stole from taxpayers it doesn't count, right?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shouldn't Tough on Crime Measures Include Being Tough on Corporate Crime?

The Conservative government is determined to forge ahead with their tough on crime agenda at a time when citizen crime is at it's lowest in our history.

As Edward Greenspan and Anthony Doob write in the Globe:
Everyone wants to reduce crime and use resources effectively. But the Conservative government’s “tough on crime” agenda would have you believe that crime is increasing and can only be reduced by using tougher penalties. This assertion is wrong, as is a study by an Ottawa-based think tank that reviewed the 2009 Statistics Canada report on crime.
Harper insider Scott Newark and the bogus MacDonald-Laurier think tank tried to suggest otherwise, but we're not buying it.

However, crime rates in another sector of the population is definitely on the rise. Corporate crime is the highest it's been in my memory, and yet instead of cracking down on it, the Harper government has put measures in place to make it easier for corporations to defraud the average taxpayer.

The new accounting laws that allow corporations to fudge their income statements, is not just about defrauding the wealthy, but also investments on our behalf through company pension funds and even CPP.

In his book Corporateering, Jamie Court asks why there are not "three strikes" laws and even the death penalty for big business when they commit criminal acts. Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street players spent no time in jail for creating the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Three strikes should apply to corporations, too. If a person can get jail for life for three criminal convictions, why shouldn't corporations face a similar standard? A corporate death penalty for any corporation convicted of three separate criminal offenses would set a new bar corporate responsibility and deter the corporate crime waves of tomorrow ... The first strike requires a full-page advertisement be taken out in major newspapers; the second necessitates a fine to the state treasury; the third results in the loss of the right to do business. Laws could be enacted at the state and federal level revoking the charter of any corporation that proved through its conduct that it was beyond rehabilitation. Trusteeships to take over of laid-off workers could be created. Mostly, however, such laws provide a deterrent to wrongdoing. (1)
Is that why all the hoopla about being tough on crime? They want to hide the fact that the corporate sector is being given a free pass? Something to think about.


1. Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom and What You Can do About it, by: Jamie Court, Penguin Books, 2003, ISBN: 1-58542-228-2, Pg. 256

Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs on Film: Part III

Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and AIG Comes Calling

This is the 4th in my series on the relationship between Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs, and why it matters to Canadians. We have been lied to and this lie is a whopper.

Many of us have been sounding the alarm over our sub-prime mortgages and the massive Canadian bank bailout, but since the mainstream media just keeps playing along to get along, it has gone largely unnoticed. And any economists who bring up the issue are immediately vilified.

It is now common knowledge that Wall Street created the economic crisis, and that the two main players were AIG and Goldman Sachs. But what is not as evident is the fact that these same two players came knocking on Canada's door, when the heat over what amounted to a huge insurance fraud, was threatening to bring it to an abrupt end.

In early 2005, there were warnings by many, including financial expert and Yale University professor Robert Shiller, that the housing bubble might lead to a worldwide recession, given the massive amounts of mortgage-backed securities and other risky investments, that Wall Street was now up to their necks in.

In September of 2005, The Mortgage Insurance Companies of America sent a letter to the Federal Reserve, warning about 'risky lending practices' in US real estate and by the fall the housing market boom halted abruptly, and prices began to fall nationwide.

In May of 2006, subprime lender Ameriquest announced that it would cut 3,800 jobs and closed its 229 retail branches. Merit Financial Inc, based in Kirkland, Washington, filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors, firing all but 80 of its 410 employees.

Mark Carney, Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty all held onto the myth that no one saw this economic crisis coming, despite the fact that almost everyone did. They just didn't know what to do to stop it, because by the time the first rumblings of despair were heard, it was already too late.

With the American subprime industry drying up, Goldman Sachs needed fresh markets, and where better than Canada. They had a Republican and corporate friendly government in place, and no doubt knew of Flaherty's appetite for shady deals.

Goldman Sachs employee, Mark Carney, was the deputy finance minister who no doubt arranged all the necessary meetings, given his contact list, and he had already made a killing off Canadian taxpayers with his Income Trust fraud.

So on May 1, 2006, AIG registered as a lobbyist and the next day, Flaherty included in his first budget, a little gem. He announced that his government was opening up the market to more private insurers.
“These changes will result in greater choice and innovation in the market for mortgage insurance, benefiting consumers and promoting home ownership,” Mr. Flaherty said. The new rules encouraged the entry of such U.S. players as American International Group (AIG) ..."

The story of how the U.S. housing crisis spread to Canada is a tale of carefully orchestrated U.S. corporate lobbying, failed public-policy promises and government inaction to numerous private and public warnings about reckless mortgage practices.
Flaherty was willing to risk $200 billion of taxpayers money to get in the game.

And we have to remember that the crash in the United States was not the accident of reckless behaviour, it was reckless behaviour engineered so as to cause the accident. That was the only way that Goldman Sachs could clean up on the insurance, bankrupting AIG.

Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper knew that what they were doing was risky, and intentionally ignored expert advice. That's the way this game works. The sub-prime mortgages created a boom in our house prices and a handful of people got filthy rich. Or filthier richer.

They knew this was a gamble but it was one they were willing to take, because after all, the only losers would be the Canadian taxpayers and the unsuspecting pawns who bought homes they couldn't afford.

And with Canada's household debt the highest of the G-20, bankruptcies on the rise and small business defaults at a record high, we have yet to bear the brunt of this government's foolishness.

I suspect they will try to get an election over with before they have to face the music. They may even pull a Mike Harris and shorten the length of time for the campaign, which will work in their favour. We have to make sure that doesn't happen.

With a Harper majority we will have no place to go but down.


1. It's Time to Have a Serious Conversation About Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs

2. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and the Foxes in the Henhouse

3. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and "The Swoop and Squat"