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General

Could Harper Deploy Troops Against Canadians?

Posted August 20, 2014 by The Mound of Sound

I was taken aback by a post from Geoff Kennedy at Parchment in the Fire entitled, “EU Advisors Advocate use of Military Against Strikes and Protests | Global Research.”

The thrust of this report is that military forces should be employed to defend the interests of the extremely wealthy from unrest among the masses.  The key author was professor Tomas Ries, currently with the Swedish Institute for International Affairs.  Geoff writes:

Ries sees the central threat to “security” in a violent “conflict between unequal socioeconomic classes in global society,” which were “in vertical asymmetric tensions in the global village.” Put simply, the main “security issue” is class struggle in the globalised world economy.

For the inevitable social, economic and political conflicts which would emerge from this inequality, he recommended that the EU enter a “symbiosis” with the global corporations. The power of these companies “in the areas of technology and economy is constantly growing, while they are also winning influence in other areas. But they need the state and the state needs them.”

With the financial crisis, the state had already fulfilled its part in the “symbiosis.” The population had been burdened with the banks’ debts, and the living conditions of the working class had been attacked and undermined.

As a consequence of these fundamental attacks on the social rights of the working class, according to Ries, social conflict will inevitably develop which would constrain important areas of infrastructure.

The rich had to be protected from the poor, the professor explained. Since “the percentage of the population who were poor and frustrated would continue to be very high, the tensions between this world and the world of the rich would continue to increase, with corresponding consequences. Since we will hardly be able to overcome the origin of this problem by 2020, i.e., the functional defects of society, we will have to protect ourselves more strongly.”

Ordinarily I would have written this off, putting it down to just more ravings of another Euro-crank.  However much of what Ries advocates is now being put into place in the United States. I wrote about this the other day in a post about America’s Posse Comitatus Act which prohibited the deployment of U.S. military forces against the American people.

That’s “prohibited” as in past tense.  The intent of the Act was quietly watered down by Bush-Cheney in 2006 when Bush persuaded Congress to enact an express authority for the use of military force on American streets:   “The President may employ the armed forces… to… restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition… the President determines that… domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order… or [to] suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy...”

Which leads me to wonder – if the Europeans are toying with it and the Americans have already put it in place, would our Divine Leader be reluctant to invoke The Emergencies Act, successor to The War Measures Act, to use military muscle to put down civilian unrest, say in the form of large scale opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline?

The Act allows the prime minister, with a cooperative Governor General, to impose martial law in the event of, “public order emergency.” The Harper gang are utterly intolerant of dissent, especially when it results in protest.  How far would protest have to go before our Constitutional Beelzebub declares it an emergency under the Act?  And, as for Harper’s stooge in Rideau Hall, is there any reason to trust that he would defend Canadians against the excesses of our prime minister?  With deviants like Joe Oliver ready to denounce environmentalists as terrorists who are ‘inimical’ to the country and with CSIS (and presumably CSEC), the national police already in secret service to Big Oil we have a government that plainly sees those who stand opposed to its will as enemies of the state.

The Governor in Council is authorized to declare a public order emergency exists in the event of a “threat to the security of Canada” as defined in s,. 2 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act:

“threats to the security of Canada” means
  • (a) espionage or sabotage that is against Canada or is detrimental to the interests of Canada or activities directed toward or in support of such espionage or sabotage,
  • (b) foreign influenced activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive or involve a threat to any person,
  • (c) activities within or relating to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective within Canada or a foreign state, and
  • (d) activities directed toward undermining by covert unlawful acts, or directed toward or intended ultimately to lead to the destruction or overthrow by violence of, the constitutionally established system of government in Canada,
but does not include lawful advocacy, protest or dissent, unless carried on in conjunction with any of the activities referred to in paragraphs (a) to (d).
 
Joe Oliver obviously had s. 2(b) in mind when he spoke of Canadian dissidents being under the influence of foreign organizations and when he declared dissenting Canadians “inimical (detrimental) to the interests of Canada.”  That alone gives the game away.
 
The Act itself is hopelessly vague on the powers of the government on declaration of an “emergency.”
 
Preamble to The Emergencies Act:
 
WHEREAS the safety and security of the individual, the protection of the values of the body politic and the preservation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the state are fundamental obligations of government;
 
AND WHEREAS the fulfilment of those obligations in Canada may be seriously threatened by a national emergency and, in order to ensure safety and security during such an emergency, the Governor in Council should be authorized, subject to the supervision of Parliament, to take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times;

Operative sections:

17. (1) When the Governor in Council believes, on reasonable grounds, that a public order emergency exists and necessitates the taking of special temporary measures for dealing with the emergency, the Governor in Council, after such consultation as is required by section 25, may, by proclamation, so declare.
  •  
    (2) A declaration of a public order emergency shall specify
    • (a) concisely the state of affairs constituting the emergency;
    • (b) the special temporary measures that the Governor in Council anticipates may be necessary for dealing with the emergency; and
    • (c) if the effects of the emergency do not extend to the whole of Canada, the area of Canada to which the effects of the emergency extend.
  •  
    19. (1) While a declaration of a public order emergency is in effect, the Governor in Council may make such orders or regulations with respect to the following matters as the Governor in Council believes, on reasonable grounds, are necessary for dealing with the emergency:
    • (a) the regulation or prohibition of
      • (i) any public assembly that may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace,
      • (ii) travel to, from or within any specified area, or
      • (iii) the use of specified property;
    • (b) the designation and securing of protected places;
    • (c) the assumption of the control, and the restoration and maintenance, of public utilities and services;

    But the Act does embody certain protections.  The conclusion of the preamble states, “the Governor in Council, in taking such special temporary measures, would be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights and must have regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly with respect to those fundamental rights that are not to be limited or abridged even in a national emergency.  The Act also requires the emergency order to be brought before the House for consideration and debate.

    Harper would therefore be restrained by his arch-nemesis, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Once again our last line of defence against our jackboot government would rest with the Supreme Court of Canada.  Knowing Harper the defiant would be spending a good bit of time in the Greybar Hotel before the court could intervene.

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    General

    Harper’s War on Charities is a War on All of Us

    Posted August 19, 2014 by The Mound of Sound

    Never underestimate the scope and impact of the Harper regime’s war to gag our charities. Oxford student and 2013 Rhodes Scholar, Joanne Cave writes in today’s Times Colonist that the use of the CRA cudgel to silence charities by Harper & Co.is just the tip of the iceberg.

    The recent Canada Revenue Agency crackdown on everyone from Pen Canada to Oxfam — noting, quite appallingly, that “preventing poverty” isn’t an appropriate charitable aim after all — has Canada’s charitable sector wondering: When is enough, enough?

    And if you think the issues facing charities aren’t relevant to your life, think again — your local museum, soccer club, Alzheimer’s day program and national park preservation committee are likely registered charities.

    The fear-mongering culture created by such frequent political audits is, unfortunately, only the tip of the iceberg in how Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has approached its relationship with the charitable sector. Prior to the 2010 G8 Summit, at which maternal health was a critical part of the agenda, federal funding for 11 Canadian women’s organizations was cut due to their pro-choice advocacy. Similar restraints have been placed on organizations in immigrant settlement services, environment and climate change advocacy and anti-poverty.

    While compliance with the CRA’s 10 per cent threshold for advocacy activities is important to prevent abuses to the system, such an audit culture drains the resources of small organizations and paralyzes their participation in the political process. I donate to charities, as do many other Canadians, because I want them to take a stand on issues I believe in.

    Federal funding, when it is available, is often short-lived for Canadian charities. Under Harper’s government, charities can increasingly get only project-based funding rather than ongoing, and decidedly less sexy, core organizational funding that enables long-term sustainability. By refusing to fund charitable organizations long-term, we assume that services such as food banks, counselling services, support groups and assisted recreation programs are not integral to the fabric of our society. 

    This creates what is often described as a “shadow state” in social policy — when government downloads the provision of services to charitable organizations as arm’s-length partners and uses policies, such as CRA’s political audit crackdown, to limit their independence and constrain their ideological stances. It paralyzes innovation, muzzles healthy political discourse and disrespects the fundamental role of charities in supporting our country’s most disadvantaged communities.

    The women’s sector — with which I am most familiar — is still reeling from policy and funding changes imposed several years ago. These changes included the elimination of a $1-million independent research fund on women’s issues, the restriction of all advocacy and legal reform activities for grant recipients (e.g. a women’s shelter advocating on issues pertaining to violence against women) and the removal of the word “equality” from the funding program’s goals.

    The CRA’s expanding audit culture is leading charities in a similar direction, but creates a confusing paradox: If charities can’t advocate on the issues that mandate their existence in the first place (a preventive approach) and can’t expect long-term government funding (a reactive approach), where will change come from?

    This kind of audit culture actively prevents the civic participation our democracy relies upon, silences the organizations we care about most and forces our thriving charitable sector to become unfairly apolitical. If this frustrates you, donate to charities whose advocacy activities you believe in as a sign of solidarity and support.

    Charities, you’re not alone. 

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    Canada

    Juxtapose

    Posted August 1, 2014 by Boris

    The Canadian Commons church group

    Singing songs of solidarity

    Against the sight and smell

    Of a rotting child’s corpse

    (Vice)

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    Canada

    La femme du français

    Posted July 21, 2014 by Claude Dupras

    Elle est née en Haïti. En 1968, sous la dictature de François « papa doc » Duvalier, sa famille fuit son pays pour s’établir à Thetford Mines, la ville de l’amiante québécoise au Canada, où il n’y a aucune famille noire. Elle a onze ans.

    Ses études la mènent à l’université de Montréal où elle obtient un baccalauréat langues et littérature espagnoles et italiennes. Durant et après ses études, elle démontre une sensibilité particulière pour les femmes victimes de violence conjugale. Puis, les dirigeants du réseau français de Radio-Canada la remarque dans un documentaire de l’Office National du Film canadien et lui offre un emploi. Elle n’a que vingt ans. Elle devient reporter et animatrice et sept ans plus tard lectrice de l’émission de nouvelles « Le Téléjournal ». Elle est de plus, interviewer de personnalités canadiennes et d’autres pays.
    Son nom est Michaëlle Jean et les Canadiens n’ont pas fini d’en entendre parler.
    Elle épouse un français, cinéaste et philosophe, Jean Daniel Lafond. Ils adoptent une jeune fille haïtienne.
    Bilingue parfaite, la chaine anglophone de Radio-Canada, quatre ans plus tard, l’invite à se joindre aussi à elle. Puis, elle devient animatrice du Téléjournal, et en 2004 anime sa propre émission « Michaëlle » diffusée en français.
    En 2005, une surprise attend tous les Canadiens. Le 4 août, le premier ministre Paul Martin annonce que Michaëlle Jean devient Gouverneur Général du Canada, le 27ième. Les canadiens-haïtiens sont fous de joie, les autres étonnés. Elle est la première personne noire à remplir ce poste. Elle a 37 ans. Mais comme elle est aussi de nationalité française, acquise lors de son mariage, elle doit renoncer à celle-ci étant donné qu’elle sera la commandante-en-chef des Forces Armées Canadiennes. Ainsi est faite la constitution.  Elle rencontre, avec sa famille, la reine Élizabeth à sa maison d’été de Balmoral pour respecter la tradition et devient la vice-royale canadienne.
    Son discours inaugural met l’accent sur ce qu’elle identifie comme les « deux solitudes » canadiennes. Elle veut instaurer un pacte de solidarité entre les peuples fondateurs du pays. Mais son discours va plus loin, et touche les relations entre les différentes communautés ethniques, linguistiques, culturelles et de genre.
    La nouvelle Gouverneur générale est très active et représente la Canada partout : JO d’hiver en Italie, festival d’Iqaluit au Nunavut, en Algérie, au Mali, au Ghana, en Afrique du sud, au Maroc, en Argentine, en Haïti. Partout elle encourage les droits des femmes, particulièrement dans les pays musulmans. En Afghanistan, elle prend position pour la mission de paix affirmant que « le Canada est fier de faire partie des 37 pays qui ont entrepris de restaurer la stabilité et la reconstruction du pays ». Elle est à Vimy pour la commémoration du 90ième anniversaire de la bataille. Et encore… 
    Elle rencontre les chefs d’état de multiples pays, dont la présidente du Chili, l’héritier et nouveau roi d’Espagne, le président hongrois et des dizaines d’autres.
    En 2008, elle doit gérer une crise politique inédite au Canada. Le gouvernement minoritaire Harper est en difficulté après que l’opposition ait rejeté son énoncé économique. Les partis d’opposition lui proposent de se substituer au gouvernement en créant un gouvernement de coalition. Une première en politique canadienne. Elle refuse et décide de proroger la session parlementaire de deux mois jusqu’au dépôt du budget. Harper est sauvé.
    À la fin du mandat de Michaëlle Jean, Harper crée une surprise en ne le renouvelant pas. Elle le voulait, il ne l’a pas voulu. Pourtant ses  prédécesseurs l’avaient fait pour les gouverneurs généraux du passé. Et cela, malgré que 57% des Canadiens approuvent son travail et considèrent qu’elle les a toujours représentés dignement et avec compétence. Harper est du genre conservateur-républicain-américain et veut avoir le contrôle total sur les affaires de l’état et comme elle montrait un peu d’indépendance…
    L’ONU qui a remarqué les talents de Michaëlle Jean, la nomme « envoyée spéciale pour l’éducation, la science et la culture en Haïti » dans le but d’obtenir des fonds pour la reconstruction et l’éducation dans ce pays. Puis, le sénégalais Abdou Diouf, secrétaire général de la Francophonie, la nomme comme « grand témoin » pour les JO d’été de Londres afin de promouvoir la langue française. Entre temps, elle préside le conseil d’administration de l’Institut québécois des hautes études internationales à l’université de Laval et devient la chancelière de l’Université d’Ottawa.
    Abdou Diouf démissionne de son poste en 2014 et Michaëlle Jean exprime son intention de le remplacer. C’est un poste très important. Mais elle n’est pas seule à viser cette nomination. Il y a aussi Pierre Buyoya, l’ancien président du Burundi, et le socialiste Bertrand Delanoë, l’ex-maire de Paris. Buyoya mise sur les suffrages de l’Afrique Centrale ce qui lui donne des créances démocratiques, tandis que Delanoë compte sur le fait qu’il est socialiste et qu’il a appuyé le président socialiste François Hollande lors des primaires de son parti pour le choix du candidat.
    Michaëlle Jean ne désespère pas car elle a beaucoup d’atouts. N’est–elle pas un symbole de la francophonie plurielle ? N’a-t-elle pas l’esprit de résistance de son peuple comme elle l’a si bien démontré au Canada ? Ne s’est-elle pas investie dans le combat social canadien en travaillant auprès de femmes en difficultés ?  Malgré son travail intellectuel, n’a-t-elle pas toujours montré son sens pratique pour aider les femmes violentées ? Lors du terrible tremblement de terre  en Haïti, n’a-t-elle pas transformé son bureau en centrale téléphonique pour les initiatives de secours sur la base des informations reçues ?
    Comme les Haïtiens dont la vie est difficile et qui souffrent, elle a démontré qu’elle sait composer avec le chaos et qu’elle a une capacité de résistance et d’organisation dans toutes situations. Tous les liens qu’elle a tissés avec les pays africains, dans sa carrière de journaliste et de chef d’État, ont créé une sympathie envers elle et naturellement Haïti, où étaient « menés des millions d’Africains lors de la traite négrière ». Elle propose aujourd’hui, une « francophonie de la diversité culturelle et du pluralisme », dont elle est l’exemple, « assise sur la francophonie politique, les valeurs démocratiques et l’état de droit » réalisés par les présidents passés de l’organisme.
    Elle met surtout l’accent sur le développement économique qui est, pour elle, le vrai espoir des jeunes. « A quoi sert de produire des milliers de diplômés si c’est pour en faire des chômeurs ou des demandeurs d’asile ? », demande-elle ?
    Elle réclame aussi le respect des droits de l’Homme qui pour elle « préservent les valeurs du peuple et son rayonnement plus grand que ses ressources », citant le Sénégal comme exemple.
    Malgré que le Canada appuie sa candidature, c’est aussi un aspect négatif pour elle à cause du comportement offensif de sociétés minières canadiennes en Afrique. « J’entends mettre l’accent sur la responsabilité sociale des entreprises… », assure-t-elle pour obvier à ces craintes.
    Michaëlle Jean a toutes les qualités pour bien remplir l’importante tâche de secrétaire générale de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Elle incarne la francophonie du futur, celle du bon sens économique. Elle est la candidate idéale pour être dans le monde, la femme du français.
    Mais à ce jour, la France la boude. Elle se montre sceptique aux propositions de Michaëlle Jean, pour une francophonie plurielle et diverse qui s’ouvre sur le monde. Le malheur pour la candidate canadienne est que la France assure plus de 70% du budget de l’organisation, ce qui fait que sa voix est prépondérante. Je ne serais pas surpris que le gouvernement français opte pour un ses siens qui se cherche un emploi, le socialiste Bertrand Delanoë, ex-maire de Paris. Ce n’est pas le meilleur candidat, mais il est “du bon bord”. 
    Claude Dupras

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    General

    Defence of Canada under Harper

    Posted July 16, 2014 by Boris

    Canada’s political, social and physical geography define its defence priorities. Unless there is a massive shift in US politics, it has no land connection to any existing or potential military adversary. Our small population density and massive geograp…

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    Conservatives

    End of Harpergov?

    Posted July 8, 2014 by Boris

    The always good to read Kirbycairo makes the case that endless anger politics and court-corrected legislation has doomed the Harpercons in the next election.

    I’d say yes, likely true if all other things were equal. However, this is also why why the F…

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    General

    Disaster Putin Posin’

    Posted July 6, 2014 by Boris

    "Honey, that Harper boy is at again with his Putin Posin’."

    "Let me be clear, I’m really a pilot. Why do you ask?"

    Vlad, smiling for the camera in his Bear near Canada
    as Stephen snaps his photo from his
    prime ministerial CF-18. (I wonder if they trade pics?)

    Word: It’s not even a disaster in Manitoba, and may not be. There’ve been no evacuations yet in Manitoba’s annual flood (seriously,

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    General

    Harper vs. Putin, air edition

    Posted July 1, 2014 by Boris

    RAF Typhoon with Russian Su-27 – June 2014

    Brian Stewart at CBC suggests that Harper’s over-the-top tough-guy rhetoric about Putin has led to increased Russian strategic bomber flights and thus a busier time for Canadian fighters and pilots conduc…

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    Canada

    Well, that’s a little awkward

    Posted June 15, 2014 by Boris

    Harpergov does a poll (snicker) on Canadian political icons in the lead-up the 150th birthday (geez, didn’t we just have Canada 125?), and well, the results really don’t do the Cons any favours. Folks like Layton, Suzuki, topped by Trudeau the Elder. I…

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    Abortion

    Radically pro-abortion Canadian press too extreme even for an American liberal

    Posted June 14, 2014 by JR

    Melinda Gates’ reaction to obsessively pro-abortion Canadian journalists …”the Gates Foundation has decided not to fund abortion.”  Ezra Levant discusses:Interesting! Canadian pro-abortion media jackals are so extreme that they drove an Ame…

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    General

    Global bureaucrats with climate agenda like “a pack of hunting animals … no conspiracy is necessary.”

    Posted June 11, 2014 by JR

    Peter Foster praises Aussie PM Tony Abbott and PM Harper for their “resistance to the economically destructive global climate agenda“:

    … Mr. Harper pointed out that economically-damaging solutions were not supported by any government; it was just that Canada dared to be a little more “frank” about the issue. So, now, is Australia under Prime Minister Abbott.

    more good news in the proposal from Mr. Abbott, who has scrapped his country’s planned carbon tax, to try to put together a coalition of “centre right” governments that might turn the tide against climate hysteria.  

    … At every turn, nimble activists have outmanoeuvred the allegedly all-powerful oil companies, who have appeared both sluggish and defensive. Part of the ENGO success comes from framing themselves as David vs. the industrial Goliath (despite that big money lurking in the background). In fact, little David is a front for a power-seeking agenda which is supported by those global bureaucracies, such as the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund.

    … For anybody who suggests that this represents some paranoid view of a global conspiracy, no conspiracy is necessaryBureaucrats do not need literally to conspire, that is, plot, any more than a pack of hunting animals needs to sit down and discuss tactics before descending on its prey.

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    Commentary

    Harper is for the Birds!

    Posted January 18, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

    Dear Readers: Prime Minister Stephen Harper is so well like in Israel that they are going to name some stuff after him! GET THIS!!!!!! There is now a “Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary!” (Apparently it’s a “Bird Interpretive Centre!”) ———————————– I just read this in a celebrity rag: “Avicii, 25 things you don’t […]

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    Climate Change

    Leadership noted

    Posted September 20, 2013 by Nancy Leblanc

    What a great display of striking, positive leadership for the good in the last 24 hours. First, this news of the Obama administration’s announcement today on limiting emissions from new power plants:

    A year after a plan by President Obama to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants set off angry opposition, the administration will announce on Friday that it is not backing down from a confrontation with the coal industry and will press ahead with enacting the first federal carbon limits on the nation’s power companies.

    This is executive action that does not require approval by Congress. Obama will, however, have to take on the coal industry. Yet somehow, doesn’t that now seem like much less of a task in the wake of Obama’s handling of the Syria crisis? The timing of this announcement seems to be one from a leader feeling emboldened, with that major international event just under his belt. Moving on now to one of the other major challenges the world faces.

    And what will be the reaction of PM Harper? He of the letter to Obama asking for joint things to be done emissions-wise. Obama is acting. Unilaterally. What then is Canada prepared to do?

    The second instance of leadership very much worth noting, the interview released of Pope Francis speaking on the Catholic church and his view of how the church needs to evolve.

    Even if you are not a particularly religious person, this seems to have big implications. The way that this Pope, in such a position of influence and stature, is shifting the church from a close-minded, dogmatic institution to a non-judgmental, loving stance is remarkable. At least, that’s the way it is striking me. I see news of others similarly moved.

    And I certainly don’t see how this is good news for those politicians who would seek to use gay issues and reproductive rights as exclusionary and divisive wedge political issues. This is a powerful counter.

    And if you only read one thing on yesterday’s Pope news, I recommend this.

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    General

    Prorogation, obviously

    Posted August 19, 2013 by Nancy Leblanc

    The big news on an August Monday:

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper has confirmed he will ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament until October, when his Conservative government will introduce the next speech from the throne.

    “There will be a new throne speech in the fall, obviously the House will be prorogued in anticipation of that. We will come back — in October is our tentative timing,” Harper told reporters in Whitehorse Monday. Harper is in the Yukon on the second day of his annual summer tour of the North.

    A few thoughts to add to the online maelstrom.

    I am quite meh over this one. It’s mid-August and the House of Commons will be back in just over a month and a half? That’s not tooo bad in terms of an extension beyond a return that was expected on September 16th.

    The news coverage on the Senate scandals, for example, is likely to continue through this period. They won’t be escaping damage from it.

    Also, whenever Harper interferes with his own government’s ability to legislate, that’s not so bad. Less is definitely more for some of us when it comes to their legislative output record.

    Harper, though, just can’t prorogue and avoid critical comment. He has baggage, to say the least.

    He is the lone Prime Minister, of any Westminster democracy, to have faced a confidence vote and deployed prorogation to avoid his minority government’s fate. Totally unprecedented in Canadian history and so he just can’t shake that shadow. He would have been defeated in late 2008-early 2009 by the opposition parties but for his proroguing of Parliament. The Harper majority era might totally have been avoided had he not done so. All of today’s present Conservative party edifice is built on that shaky foundation. Which is partly why the power to prorogue is still in need of reform. There is less malevolent political calculation at play in today’s prorogation. But nevertheless, it doesn’t take away the need to fix, at some point, the unrestrained ability of a PM to prorogue without limitation.

    A law that would restrain the power of the Prime Minister to prorogue could be passed and a PM would ignore it at their political peril. Whatever that judgment by voters might be. Could be nil, could be more, depending on how prorogation occurred. (Similar laws could be passed provincially as well.)

    Today’s prorogation is also another reminder that it is just plain old anachronistic that a Prime Minister retains such power to unilaterally dictate the government’s sitting. In this modern era of a 24 hour news cycle, ever enhanced technologies and where Canadians’ work is increasingly stretched beyond 9-5, it is a strange holdover that a Prime Minister can still set their own government’s clock and work agenda, largely for political convenience. It just doesn’t fit in this era. It’s a reminder that there is a larger democratic deficit that needs to be cured in Canada. It’s not all about the Senate sideshow. Harper has educated us well about a PM having too much power and our way of governing being in need of an update.

    Beyond all that, politically, today’s prorogation seems to continue the end of summer roll-out of the newish Harper majority looking toward 2015. New websites here and there with partisan purpose (Consumers First, the new Harper blog), election style speech and talk, etc. Now prorogation. The reboot is on and he’s looking to win again in 2015. Obviously.

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    General

    Chickens roosting day, etc.

    Posted August 13, 2013 by Nancy Leblanc

    Harper’s chickens, that is: “Senator Wallin audit details set for public release.” One upside for Wallin, she has one of the best litigators in Toronto representing her (pictured in the CBC link).

    One thing of interest in this Postmedia report that could hint at more possible trouble for, I’m assuming, Conservatives:

    In their report, the auditors write that part of Wallin’s inappropriate costs were for “partisan related activity, such as fundraising.” Her lawyers cite as an example a May 27, 2011, event for former cabinet minister Bev Oda, who resigned in July 2012 over her own spending scandal, which was made famous by a $16 glass of orange juice charged to taxpayers.

    At the Oda event, Wallin talked about Oda’s ministerial role overseeing intenrational [sic] development, as well as the Afghanistan file, which Wallin knew from her work chairing the Senate’s defence committee. Her lawyer’s letter notes that fundraising events took place outside of election campaigns, involved talking about Senate-related matters, and that “this was generally accepted practice,” suggesting that others in the Senate have done the same.

    Generally accepted practice, says Wallin’s lawyer.

    Also of note, a possible strategy suggested by Ivison that could come out of the Senate Supreme Court reference:

    The Conservatives argue that the Senate can be abolished under the constitution’s amending formula — section 38 — which states that any changes to the Senate would merely required resolutions in the House of Commons, Senate and seven provinces, representing 50% of the population (rather than unanimous approval).

    If the Supreme Court agrees, it seems to me that we will see the Conservatives launch a full-on campaign for Senate abolition, in an effort to insulate Mr. Harper from accusations of being the Red Chamber’s patron. There appear few lengths to which this prime minister will not now go to distance himself from Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin — three of his 59 Red Chamber appointments.

    A full-on campaign for abolition by Harper et al. as a matter of political expediency would have absolutely zero integrity or credibility, as Ivison himself hints. It’s not clear the Court will rule that abolition could happen under the 7/50 formula in any event. Peter Russell is of the view that unanimity would be required:

    Prof. Russell said there’s “no way” the government can unilaterally abolish the Senate and without seeking unanimous consent. “You’re taking 100 per cent of the power away. The Senate has full power to approve every law, and it was put there mainly so the provinces, the sections of the country, would feel some protection against the central government,” said Prof. Russell.

    I would tend to agree with Mr. Russell. But, that’s all Senate reference stuff, down the road a bit. Today it’s all about Wallin’s audit and it is at the doorstep of the one who appointed her.

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    General

    Obama on Keystone

    Posted July 28, 2013 by Nancy Leblanc

    In an extended interview published in the New York Times today, Keystone was raised with Obama:

    NYT: A couple other quick subjects that are economic-related. Keystone pipeline — Republicans especially talk about that as a big job creator. You’ve said that you would approve it only if you could be assured it would not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon in the atmosphere. Is there anything that Canada could do or the oil companies could do to offset that as a way of helping you to reach that decision?

    MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.

    NYT: Yet there are a number of unions who want you to approve this.

    MR. OBAMA: Well, look, they might like to see 2,000 jobs initially. But that is a blip relative to the need.

    So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.

    Now, having said that, there is a potential benefit for us integrating further with a reliable ally to the north our energy supplies. But I meant what I said; I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.

    NYT: And if they did, could that offset the concerns about the pipeline itself?

    MR. OBAMA: We haven’t seen specific ideas or plans. But all of that will go into the mix in terms of John Kerry’s decision or recommendation on this issue.

    Fascinating response from Obama there. First, he’s not buying the inflated jobs numbers related to Keystone. Recall Harper’s 2012 sit down session with an American think tank where he claimed that Keystone would be responsible for about 30,000 jobs. Obama is where the U.S. State Department has been, that the job benefits are on a much lower scale.

    Also note those remarks that show he’s sticking to the principle that carbon release is a key decision making component for him. That sets approval at a very high bar. He’s putting the environmental consideration at the fore.

    Then the bit about Canada doing more to mitigate carbon release. The Harper government will likely see this as an opening but it’s also not very welcoming language to a government that has tried to delay and skate on carbon emissions. It sounds like a stick that Obama is going to deploy.

    It is promising though for those who care about the environment and think that a stick is just what the Harper government needs.

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    General

    Random thoughts on the cabinet shuffle

    Posted July 15, 2013 by Nancy Leblanc

    If we must. Alternative blog post title could very well be: Everything old is new again. I agree with the Canadian Press header: “New faces in Harper’s cabinet overhaul, but old guard stands economic watch.” I also agree, unsurprisingly (!), with Bob Rae’s fun take on all the hullabaloo: “With shuffle, the Harper Revolution continues its slow, steady crawl.

    First, an under-noted development perhaps. Chris Alexander goes to Citizenship & Immigration. Jason Kenney’s old stomping ground. Literally. Just ask the Doctors for Refugee Health Care who have taken the lead on protesting the cuts by this government to health care coverage for refugees. Whether Alexander will remedy this situation is a key question. Will he continue on with the “gold plated benefits” propaganda nonsense or as a GTA denizen amend this government’s ways on what is an uncompassionate policy?

    Another aspect of this move is the political angle. This ministry is clearly viewed by Conservatives as a key part of their political equation. Putting Alexander, an ambitious pol from the GTA into this ministry as a successor to Kenney is an intriguing political dynamic. Kenney nevertheless tweeted:

    Congratulations to Chris Alexander on his appointment as Minister of Citizenship & Immigration. He’s brilliant, hard-working, & very capable

    — Jason Kenney (@kenneyjason) July 15, 2013

    Speaking of himself, Kenney goes to HRSDC. It was termed Employment & Social Development today but it is HRSDC, as Kenney’s tweets also indicate. Succeeding Diane Finley. No one is calling this a demotion but it does have that tinge to it. I suppose something transformational could be in the works, given Kenney’s being Kenney and we shall see.

    Working with Kenney, kind of, will be Kellie Leitch who is put in Labour & Status of Women. I find putting a surgeon in the Labour portfolio to be odd and not necessarily congruent with her experience. Raitt is a lawyer so at least she was steeped more in the framework, Leitch not so much. Although when your government’s labour relations policy is just to legislate industries back to work under the guise of “the economy,” it may not be an issue for Leitch at the end of the day. And also with Leitch, Status of Women continues to be an add on hobby for a Harper minister.

    Pierre Poilievre to Democratic Reform? What more could one possibly say here? This is the MP who has been sicced on Elections Canada for years. If this day was meant to be about Harper turning a new page, this move surely undermined that thinking. But really, who would have expected a day free from some patented Harper partisanship.

    The big news elsewhere in democratic reform today, by the way, is that Bob Rae has joined Fair Vote Canada’s advisory board.

    “Canadians need to know that their votes will really count. This means moving beyond our first past the post system”, says Rae, a long-time supporter of adding proportionality to Canada’s electoral system.

    The key democratic reform challenge for Canada’s future is not the Senate, the priority should be reforming the House of Commons. Liberals also joined that message on democratic reform today.

    Lisa Raitt to Transport is interesting given the debate going on in the GTA – or should I say GTHA – over transit funding and dealing with Toronto’s overdue needs and the Metrolinx proposals. Subway fever is everywhere and the funds to underwrite Toronto’s transit needs are pressing. Raitt has her sexy portfolio now and it could provide opportunity for the Harper gang in Toronto. Emphasis on could. Whether they will be willing to work with Premier Wynne or keep showing up and wearing t-shirts for Team Hudak is a question.

    Aglukkaq to Environment on its surface might seem like a less dug in approach in the offing. Here is one take that seems fair:

    Aglukaaq’s appt at environment signals importance of First Nations’ support for resource development.

    — Shawn McCarthy (@smccarthy55) July 15, 2013

    But it’s the oil and gas regulations that will be the big test for this government, as everyone knows.

    Elsewhere, countries have ministers designated for climate change. It’s time for this in Canada too.

    Probably much more that could be said but that’s it from this corner of the internet peanut gallery.

    P.S. Oh, almost forgot the obligatory note for long time readers…Gerry Ritz should have been fired.

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    General

    Harper to the UK Parliament

    Posted June 14, 2013 by Nancy Leblanc

    What to make of the PM’s speech to the UK Parliament yesterday? When a leader is accorded that type of honour, surely they’ve got to come up with something worthwhile. And this did seem to be an effort to make a type of legacy statement on Harper’s part.

    What was his touchstone in the speech? The economy, of course, what else could it possibly be from Harper. And he seemed to be doing two things in his speech with that focus in mind.

    First, he explained Canada’s domestic economic success in a distinctly conservative way. There were at least four references to low taxes. The trade agenda, government efficiencies. Which all seemed to be wrapped in an effort to portray this as some type of value statement, about what economic values Canada possesses. Here is some of it: 

    “So, friends, knowing these things, in Canada, when times were good, we ran surpluses, and we used them.
    “Not to expand the state, but to pay down debt and to lower taxes.
    “As a result, since our Government came to office, the average Canadian family now pays about $3,300 (about 2,200 pounds) less in federal taxes every year.
    “Canada now also has the lowest rate of tax on new business investment in the G-7.
    “Consequently, we are widely regarded as the best place in the world to do business, and we have the best post-recession job creation record among the major developed economies.
    “Our values also tell us, as you have put it, Prime Minister, that you cannot borrow your way out of a debt crisis.’
    “In Canada, we have no debt crisis, so during the recession we were able, to deliberately borrow to sustain economic activity and confidence, but in a way that was timely, targeted and temporary.
    “And we are now returning, gradually but surely, to a balanced budget, without raising taxes.

    I hesitate to reiterate all that but it’s about showing Mr. Harper’s limitations. This seems like the kind of rote thing you’d say to the local Board of Trade. Except for the accompanying effort to spin it all into some kind of economic values system.

    Then we heard a sort of Harper doctrine. The short version: There are world perils and threats that nations will have to meet but…our national bank account must be liquid, people! Otherwise, it’s a no go. 

    “Countries that do not bring their finances under control or that close their economies to the world, will face consequences.
    “And those consequences are not only economic.
    “In the absence of solvency, relevancy will also disappear.
    “Nothing can lead more quickly and more completely to diminished influence
    in the world than the decline of economic performance and financial credibility.
    “Should we fail to faithfully adhere to our values in economic matters the wider values that we wish to protect for all humanity, values of freedom, democracy and justice, of dignity, compassion and security, those valueswill almost certainly be eroded.
    “And they will be eroded friends at a time, when they are most needed.
    “Because for good to happen in this world, someone must speak up for these values, and have the will and the capacity to act, so that these values are not mere sentiments.
    “I speak of the courage to denounce oppressors and aggressors, to counter extremist ideologies,and to confront the abominations that must not be tolerated.

    Nothing leads to diminished influence more quickly than the decline of economic performance? Solvency? Shades of JFK but please add the economic fine print to this: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” See how much better that is?

    It’s also ironic, these conservative leaders talking up the need to have stable domestic economies in order to meet world threats. The right wing policies that leave nations in debt and deplete treasuries are the economic results that have been seen. See also such economy destroying policies as invading Iraq.

    More from the same crux of the speech where he defines the central challenge:

    “But, make no mistake, if we wish to spread prosperity to others, we must be
    prosperous ourselves.
    “Without prosperity, there can be no aid.
    “Indeed, without prosperity, we will have little ability to project any of our values anywhere.
    “And, of course, we cannot hope to effectively spread these values unless we live by them ourselves and demonstrate our own success by virtue of doing so.
    “Lord Speaker, Mr. Speaker, distinguished guests, I believe this is the challenge we face in the West today.
    “There are massive shifts, shifts of epic dimensions, taking place in the world economy.
    “To the extent this means that traditionally less fortunate people are beginning to enjoy prosperity, and the other fruits of our values, much of this is a good thing.
    “But there are also, as there have always been, rising powers that do not share our values, and dangerous forces that seek to destroy them.
    “We cannot, in the face of this, be at all complacent or, as I have said elsewhere,
    We cannot entertain the notion, as I think some in the West do, that our wealth and influence can be assumed, that they are some kind of birthright.
    “I know, Prime Minister, that neither of our governments think that, which is why we take the difficult decisions we do, to ensure our people will remain among the most fortunate and prosperous for the generations to come.
    “But, just as we cannot be complacent about our wealth, neither can we allow our peoples, in these times of tough decisions and shifting fortunes, to become fatalistic.

    Without prosperity there can be no aid, said the Prime Minister who will tout our world leading economic strength yet slashes foreign aid and dismantles CIDA but nevertheless praises Britain for keeping their levels up. The emphasis on western prosperity as what must be guarded rings hollow. There’s an us versus them tone to Harper’s remarks. We cannot give to you unless we remain well off. We cannot project our values unless we retain our wealth and influence.

    Honestly, in reading such speeches that are occasions, and caring citizens should take a few moments to consider, you really want to hear and feel a sense of your country in them. But it just doesn’t seem to come with Mr. Harper. He doesn’t complete the job. Economics is cool territory, there’s no heart in it. It doesn’t grasp the essence of what Canada is and that could be portrayed to the world if this is a ground shifting moment, as he sees it.

    Here is a clip – yes, one exists! – of the MacKenzie King speech to the UK Parliament in 1944 and his speaking of Canada entering the war. Harper included one of King’s lines in his remarks, saying we entered “not from obligation, but ‘was the outcome of our deepest political instinct, a love of freedom and a sense of justice.’” Out of our deepest political instinct. Times and instincts have changed…

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    General

    The impressionist

    Posted June 12, 2013 by Nancy Leblanc

    I think I’ll go with the take of a little birdie who sent me a note on this…just proves that Harper has been making a mockery of the Conservative party:)Hyuk, yuk. 

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    General

    Your $60 million media monitoring programme

    Posted May 9, 2013 by Nancy Leblanc

    Note: This blog post below was written on March 9th but not published. Given this news of the past day, “Harper Government Spends Millions Monitoring Press Of Own MPs,” thought it would be useful additional context. Also, note to self: Listen more inte…

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