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Maple-Flavoured Politics: Splitting Headache

Are you a member of a family that has one or more children under 18 and two parents, only one of whom is working? Is that one working parent in the top income tax bracket? Woohoo! The government has a great deal for you! In what the Conservatives are calling a “family tax cut,” the … Continue Reading

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: ISIS, IS or ISIL … Whatever It’s Called This Week

It comes as no surprise that Harper is in a great hurry to commit Canada to a shooting war in Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria.

Make no mistake, “military advisors” is a euphemism.  Harper is committing troops to a shooting war that frankly we have no business involving ourselves in.

I remember saying back in 2002 that invading Afghanistan or Iraq was a fatal mistake.  It was a mistake on two basic levels.

First, direct military intervention in the Middle East has never been an effective strategy.  While military intervention has made Israel happy, and has no doubt done wonders for lining the pockets (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Voice From The Past

The always mellifluous Brian Mulroney offers some less than sweet-sounding words for the Harper government. As reported in The Globe and Mail, in an interview with Don Martin on CTV’s Power Play, the former prime minister is quite critical of aspects of of the current, and warns that the electoral appetite for change is real and needs to be respected.

About Harper’s very public and disgraceful dispute with Canada’s Chief Justice, he says:

“You don’t get into a slagging contest with the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, even if you thought that he or (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Confusing Freedom With Imposition

Canada’s “Association For Reformed Political Action” came to my attention this past week.  Just from the name, you can tell that this is one of the groups that is seeking to turn Canada into a theocracy much like the far right is currently doing in the United States.

I decided to spend a little time sniffing through their website, and found a fair bit of interest.

First is an explicit and clear sense of just how deeply these groups are connected with the Harper Government. … a speech to the ARPA groups from cabinet minister Jason Kenney

Do you (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: You could drive one of those tar sands heavy haulers through the gaping holes in the latest Fraser Institute ‘study’ of Alberta’s finances

A worker in Fort McMurray prepares to drive this truck through the holes in the Fraser Institute’s “report,” which claims Alberta’s finances are in worse shape than those of places like Texas, North Dakota and Louisiana. Below: The Norwegian oil port of Stavanger, which, according to the Fraser Institute, doesn’t exist!

Alberta should adopt a sales tax, according to the latest press release from the Fraser Institute.

But don’t worry, the latest piece of far-right puffery from the market-fundamentalist “think tank” – which prefers to refer to this bumpf as a “study” or a “report” – only advocates a consumption (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Canada’s anti-union lobby is at the heart of the deceptive campaign for more Temporary Foreign Workers – why’s that, d’ya think?

Canadians need not apply? Actual Canadian store displays may not appear exactly as illustrated. But the intent of the AstroTurf TFW lobby is to bust unions and weaken the bargaining power of Canadian workers. Below: Employment Minister and former Canadian Taxpayers Federation operative Jason Kenney; former Canadian Federation of Independent Business president and current “Working Canadians” spokesperson Catherine Swift; and CTF board member and Canadian Labour Watch Association President John Mortimer.

Judging from what they read and hear in the news, Canadians can be forgiven for concluding a large number of organizations representing a broad range of opinions are lobbying (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Harper Tries To Foment A Crisis

Harper has taken a surprising number of losing cases to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Most, if not all, were obviously places where the government’s position is one that is in direct contradiction with the Constitution of Canada.  Even a relative neophyte in Constitutional law in Canada can spot that, whether it is Harper’s desire to “reform” the Senate or the government’s daft position on prostitution.  

Now we have the CPC caucus starting to trot out the “undemocratic” talking points. Dan Albas, the MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, says that while he respects the courts he also believes an increasing number (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Reference Cases Are Not The Problem

Over at iPolitics, James Matkin and Clive Cocking are busy moaning about how the Supreme Court “kills innovative legislation” in the form of “reference cases”.

The basic thesis of their argument is that we need to take away from the Supreme Court of Canada the ability to hear “reference cases”.  A reference case is fundamentally a hypothetical case – a “what if we wrote legislation like this” test.  For most Canadians, the most recent “Reference Case” was Harper’s “Senate Reform” gambit, which got smacked around for violating various aspects of the division of powers in the Constitution.

Matkin and Cocking (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Whatever the ‘Canadian Taxpayers Federation’ is, it’s certainly not a ‘tax watchdog’ – let’s stop calling it one!

“Canadian Taxpayers Federation” Alberta Communications Director Derek Fildebrandt dressed up for a typical CTF stunt, which the media falls for every time. Below: Mr. Fildebrandt back in the days he was part of the Reagan-Goldwater Society at Carleton University; CTF board members Karen Selick, Adam Daifallah and John Mortimer. (Thumbnail photos grabbed from CTF’s website.)

While the Canadian Taxpayers Federation claims to be a “tax watchdog” that opposes waste and advocates transparency in government, evidence suggests its principal purposes are to provide partisan support for the Harper Government, fulfill the corporate agenda and undermine the rights of working people.

(Read more…)

Alberta Diary: CTF bullying and misinformation: just what’s ‘wacky’ about rape prevention research?

Canadian Taxpayers Association Federal Director Gregory Thomas dressed up as a professor, with a man dressed as a pig, at a CTF news conference trashing government support for academic research. A cameraman can be seen at left obligingly filming. Below: Dr. Melanie Beres, unfairly ridiculed by the CTF for her 2006 thesis; Mr. Thomas when he’s dressed as a grownup.

According to the comedians at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a $17,500 grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to a promising young Alberta-trained sociologist whose research looks for ways to improve rape-prevention education is a waste (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The boss has gone crazy! He’s giving away new uniforms! And at only $4.5 million, they’re practically free!

Canadian soldiers will once again be clad in uniforms like these. If that doesn’t scare the hell out of Vladimir Putin, the guy’s got ice in his veins! Below: A typical naval officer in his cool new brass loops, armed with a naval thingy; what he’d be wearing if he were an officer in the Wavy Navy instead of the regular force; Paul Hellyer, who is worried about inter-galactic warfare and doesn’t care if you know it; and Sir Arthur Currie of the Gay Gordons, his gorgets clearly visible.

After checking the date to make sure it wasn’t still (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Three reasons why Ottawa’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program ‘reforms’ likely mean little

There’s always been a worldwide pool of skilled and unskilled employees like these fellows for jobs in North America – immigration. Below: Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

Canadians are within their rights to be highly skeptical of the long list of changes to the Harper Government’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program announced yesterday by Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

Indeed, we would be nuts to be anything but skeptical about this effort by the government to “change the channel” on what really is a national scandal.

First, there has simply never been any reason for a temporary worker (Read more…)

THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE: Northern Gateway Pipeline: First Nations “Disgusted” With Harper’s Approval [VIDEO]

WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND: Enbridge’s vice president lies about winning over local First Nations [VIDEO] First Nations vow to fight Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project Elizabeth May Questions Harper on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline [VIDEO] Enbridge Inc Rebuked: “This is not an Enbridge animation” (VIDEO) Five strategies to stop Enbridge’s Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline

The post Northern Gateway Pipeline: First Nations “Disgusted” With Harper’s Approval [VIDEO] appeared first on THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE.

. . . → Read More: THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE: Northern Gateway Pipeline: First Nations “Disgusted” With Harper’s Approval [VIDEO]

THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE: First Nations vow to fight Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project

“We are prepared to go to unprecedented lengths to conserve and protect our territories and waters from heavy oil” – First Nations Leadership Council

by: First Nations Leadership Council | Press Release | June 17, 2014

Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver, BC) – On December 19, 2013 the Joint Review Process released its report on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project which included 209 recommended requirements for approval of the project. Today, the federal cabinet announced that it would approve the project. The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), which is composed of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and Union of (Read more…)

THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE: Harper Government Rejects Supreme Court Privacy Decision: Claims Ruling Has No Effect on Privacy Reform

by: by: MICHAEL GEIST | June 17, 2014

Having had the benefit of a few days to consider the implications of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Spencer, the Senate last night proceeded to ignore the court and pass Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act, unchanged. The bill extends the ability to disclose subscriber information without a warrant from law enforcement to any private sector organizations by including a provision that allows organizations to disclose personal information without consent (and without a court order) to any organization that is investigating a contractual breach or possible violation of any (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: An All Out Assault

The last couple of weeks of legislative activity in Ottawa have been distressing to say the least.  To call it an all out assault on Canada and Canadians is an understatement.

The Harper Government has been ramming through a series of legislation that comprise the single most overt attack on all that is good and reasoned in Canada.

I’ve already discussed my thoughts regarding Bill C-36, the Conservative response to the Bedford ruling on prostitution.  Unfortunately, what the Harper Government is ramming through is a more overt piece of legislation that makes a mess out of far more than (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: F-35 Fighter Jet Too Dangerous For Canadian Air Force, Says Report

by: Obert Madondo | June 9, 2014

A new report released Monday is urging the Harper Government to shelve its plans to purchase F-35 fighter jets to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 fleet.

The report, entitled “One Dead Pilot: Single-Engine F-35s a Bad Choice,” was released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The report was written by University of British Columbia political science professor Michael Byers, who recently won the $50,000 Donner Prize for his book International Law and the Arctic.

Reuters recently reported that the Conservatives would soon be purchasing 65 F-35 fighters.

(Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Bill C-36: Analysis In Detail – Part I

The biggest pieces of Bill C-36 are well described elsewhere in the media, and there isn’t any real surprise to it.  The Harper Government has more or less just resurrected the old environment.  

As with all such things the devil is in the details.  The odd little lines where the government changes clauses about without really talking about it.

For example, consider the following from the First Reading text: 3. Subsection 7(4.1) of the Act is amended by replacing the reference to “212(4)” with a reference to “286.1(2)”.

So, referring to the criminal code, Subsection 7(4. (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Apparently MacKay Missed The Point …

When the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s prostitution laws last year, it did so on the basis that the existing laws placed sex workers in unreasonably dangerous situations.  

Quite appropriately, the Supreme Court gave the government a year to table new legislation.  Today, Justice Minister Peter MacKay tabled the government’s response in the House of Commons.

The bill would create new offences for: 

— The purchase of sexual services and communicating in any place for that purpose. 

— Receiving a financial or material benefit from the prostitution of others, including through businesses that sell (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Harper: A Decade In And He Still Doesn’t Get It

Stephen Harper has been in power for the high side of a decade.  That’s a long time.

Most Prime Ministers by this point in their careers have figured out that the foreign affairs portfolio is a tricky one.  When you are a smallish nation like Canada, you get much better results by influencing rather than playing the puffed up pugilist.

Harper hasn’t figured this out.  Does he really think that Putin notices his pronouncements in the wake of sanctions?  Is he really daft enough to believe that his military posturing is going to convince Putin to back out of Crimea?

(Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Nasty, Just Plain Nasty

It’s not like it comes as a big surprise that the Harper Government is nasty.  But the extent of their vileness continues expand.

First, the Harper Government seems to have decided to shut down basic literacy programs across Canada.  The claims of the Harperites on this matter are the usual “we don’t believe these programs are useful in their current form”.  Basic literacy is always useful, unless you’re a Conservative and you like the idea of having an underclass of people who aren’t in a position to think about what’s happening to them because they’re struggling just to get by (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Health Insurance Is Becoming A Scam

I have long been suspicious of health insurance plans of any sort.  Even short term health insurance for travel seems to be written in such a way that it is weighted quite firmly in favour of the insurer than the insured.

Recently, three cases in Canada came to light that underscore the point. “They hold all the cards in their hand. It’s a poker game, and I don’t think we are the winners,” said Jean Tetiuk, of Toronto, whose $12,000 claim was rejected by CIBC. 

In each case, the medical emergencies abroad had nothing to do with any pre-existing conditions they (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: The Next Step In Harper’s Police State

So, Harper wants to connect the CRA with the RCMP. Chantal Bernier, Canada’s interim privacy commissioner, says she is concerned by the government’s proposal to allow Canada Revenue Agency officials to voluntarily hand over taxpayer information to police if they have reason to believe such information is evidence of a crime. 

In her testimony before the House finance committee on Wednesday, Bernier urged the committee to properly demonstrate that information sharing between auditors and law enforcement is needed. 

“That is exceptional and therefore should be buttressed by an empirical demonstration of necessity,” she said. 

The proposal, which (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Where’s the beef? Ottawa and the fast-food lobby are serving nothing but baloney about the need for Temporary Foreign Workers

Whatever it says on the menu, fast food restaurant owners, other employers of temporary foreign workers and their pals in the Harper Government are serving baloney. Below: Dominique M. Gross of Simon Fraser University; Charles Decatur “C.D.” Howe.

Advocates of the Harper Government’s so-called Temporary Foreign Workers Program are using an occasionally legitimate need to justify making a completely illegitimate policy the “new normal” for employment in Canada.

That is to say, from time to time there are short-term regional labour shortages in Canada, as there are occasionally foreign experts in specialized trades and professions ranging from (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: TFWP: Yet Another Reason To Shut It Down

The consequences of the Harper Government’s widening of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program over the last several years keeps going from bad to worse. At first it was employers choosing to hire TFWs over Canadians.  Then we started finding out that not only were the companies forcing them to living in company-owned apartments and deducting the rent off the payroll, but we also started hearing of cases where the TFWs themselves were being charged significant sums of money to get here.

Today, we have allegations of a company in BC abusing the program and all but engaging in extortion and (Read more…)