Monday, November 29, 2010

Goodale On Canada's Economy

Ralph Goodale (The Last Canadian Finance Minister With a SURPLUS AND a CONTINGENCY FUND) speaks about the state of Canada's economy:


Whenever the Harper government is confronted with its economic failings – like repeatedly miscalculating its deficit, or presiding over 25% more poverty among senior citizens, or a massive escalation in household debt – it typically resorts to empty sloganeering.

A favourite is the glib Conservative line that, despite all evidence to the contrary, our economy is “on track”.

“On track” to where, pray tell?

The fact is, this government has missed every financial projection it has ever made. The “track” they’re on has taken Canada from a $13-billion surplus to a $55.6-billion deficit – the worst ever. And it began BEFORE (not because of) the recession.

Mr. Harper’s hand-picked Parliamentary Budget Officer says the current Conservative “track” will lead to more than $200-billion in new federal debt by 2015.

It’s a “track” of mediocre results, lost jobs, dwindling job quality, declining living standards, rising household debt, and indifference to the burdens of ordinary families.

The Conservative “track” is the wrong track.

But not to worry. Mr. Harper has other slogans at the ready, like – “we’re doing better than other countries”.

So what? Those “other countries” are handing in their worst economic performances since the 1930’s. It doesn’t take much to beat them -- we’re the “least bad” among a bad lot. And we’re certainly way behind emerging giants like China and India.

Canada needs a coherent, honest economic plan to help lift middle and low-income families out of a quagmire of household debt that’s threatening to swamp them, and a plan that simultaneously builds Canadian competitiveness and productivity.

There is a “track” for that, but Stephen Harper is NOT on it.

It would require investments in education, innovation, secure pensions and family care-giving. None of that matters to Mr. Harper; he’s interested only in extra corporate tax cuts, fighter jets and bigger jails.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Go Riders!!!

Green is the color. Starting a pint of green beer in honor of the Riders!


-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, November 22, 2010

Goodale On Canadians' Disappearing Pensions

This is the major crisis of our time - and the Harper Reformatories won't even address it appropriately. Why? Because they've squandered away surpluses on "toys" and partisan advertising...

Here's Ralph Goodale's take:


On television last week, a former Nortel employee, now suffering from Parkinson’s disease, described how her long-term disability pension from Nortel will expire at the end of this year – due to the company’s massive bankruptcy. Once it’s gone, she’ll be literally “out on the street”.

Around Remembrance Day, Canadian veterans – both old and young – held protest rallies across the country to highlight major weaknesses in the pensions and support services provided to returning military personnel.

This past weekend, pension professionals from Saskatchewan made a presentation about the deliberate discrimination in federal tax rules that undermine the “direct contribution – variable pension benefit” plans that are particularly prominent in Saskatchewan.

Stock markets continue to fluctuate at levels well below previous expectations, resulting in RRSP and TFSP values that are down drastically from what investors had planned for, just a few years ago.

Fully one-third of Canadians have no retirement savings at all, beyond the government-mandated CPP, OAS and GIS. And another one-third have some additional savings, but nothing sufficient to maintain their standard of living.

These are a few of the growing and glaring issues around Canada’s pension system.

For nearly two years now, the Harper government has been promising major pension improvements, but to date they’ve accomplished nothing of consequence. Time is rapidly slipping by as pension problems of all kinds get worse.

The hard reality is that a majority of Canadians today cannot look forward to a secure retirement based on the public and private pension plans now in effect and the rules governing personal savings.

With a huge number of “Baby Boomers” heading toward retirement beginning next year, the gross inadequacy of pensions and savings is nothing short of a crisis – a ticking time-bomb about to explode.

This must become a national priority for decisive action in 2011!

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remember The World We Want

Remembering is a duty, but how we remember is a choice.

This duty and these choices mean that as Canadians we face the world with open eyes, whether as individuals, or as a nation.

This Remembrance Day I choose to honour the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, past and present, and their families, by imagining the world they’ve fought to make possible.

It is a world without child soldiers; where cluster munitions and landmines no longer litter countrysides. It is a world where the threat of nuclear proliferation and future genocides have ceased to exist.

These ideas may seem bold. Even unbelievable. But consider this.

Until 1957, the soldier was known only as an instrument of war. That year, a Canadian, Lester B. Pearson, imagined a soldier could be an instrument of peacekeeping, too.

One bold idea, one cause, and one nation had the power to change how peace is kept.

This Remembrance Day, we can choose to honour our men and women in uniform, and their families, by recognizing their sacrifice. But we can also do more than that.

We can imagine that the world our soldiers fight and die to protect is possible.

And we can build it to honour their sacrifice. Because that, too, is a choice.


LGen the Honourable Roméo Dallaire, (ret’d), Senator (Quebec)

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Goodale Salutes Sask Hero

As a young Liberal growing up in Sask, i had many an opportunity to meet and speak with Senator Steuart... This unpretentious, great gentleman struck me as a kind and giving soul. He pitched in to help in any way, and was well-loved by young and old alike. He will be missed.

Ralph's comments:

During this Veterans’ Week, we all need to take time to remember the incredible valour and fortitude of our Canadian Forces who have – and continue today – to put their lives on the line for our security and freedom.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit some of the battlefields in Europe where Canadians contributed so much to Allied victories in two World Wars. The cost was 110,000 Canadian lives.

Add the Korean War, multiple peacekeeping assignments and the current mission in Afghanistan, and you have a record of Canadian service and sacrifice that is truly extraordinary.

And when our war veterans return home, they continue to serve their country in countless ways. They help make our democracy flourish, for afterall, that’s what they were fighting for.

One of those amazing veterans who came home to build a distinguished career in business and public service in Saskatchewan was David Gordon Steuart of Moose Jaw, and later Prince Albert. We all came to know him as “Davey”.

Beginning in the 1950’s, he served as Mayor of Prince Albert and then a provincial MLA. He carried senior responsibilities in the cabinet as Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of Health and Minister of Finance.

He was also Deputy Premier. Then Leader of the Opposition. And finally, a Senator.

He was one of those who believed Saskatchewan had a great future, growing and diversifying far beyond anything imaginable in the 50’s and 60’s. He was pivotal in getting some of that growth started in forestry and potash.

How Mr. Steuart would relish the current debate about potash!

Most importantly, he was a man of great human warmth, a joyful outlook on life, and a wicked sense of humour.

Dave Steuart passed away last weekend and will be deeply missed across all partisan lines.

-- Post From My iPhone

Latest Goodale Commentary


The Prime Minister's reputation for having a dismissive attitude toward Saskatchewan has been reinforced by his behaviour in the controversy about potash.

From the very beginning, the vast majority of Saskatchewanians were strongly opposed to the hostile BHP bid to takeover the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan and shift control of PCS out of Canadian hands. People made that abundantly clear, as reflected in the unequivocal stance taken by Premier Wall. But it wasn't until Mr. Harper was confronted with national opposition, including from his own backyard in Calgary, that he came to the last minute decision to say "no" to the takeover.

The Premier and others were effective in marshalling that out-of-province support. And it's a very good thing we did, because Stephen Harper was clearly inclined to say "yes".

Two weeks before the federal decision was announced, the Conservatives were dismissing the takeover bid as just an Australian company going after an American company -- so who cares? Their indifference toward Saskatchewan
and their bias in favour of a foreign takeover were palpable.

Apart from heckling anyone who stood up for the "no" side in Parliament, all 13 Conservative MP's from Saskatchewan kept their heads down and their mouths shut. Right up to the final hours of the review process, the foreign bidder expressed absolute confidence about "yes" being the outcome. That's clearly where this federal government wanted to go. That was the signal they were sending -- rubber-stamp the takeover!

It was only after Conservative seats were threatened and four other Premiers, former Premier Lougheed, and various business leaders (especially from Calgary) came out strongly against the "yes" side that the tide turned. Thank goodness for that timely intervention. It played a pivotal role in saving Canadian control over potash.

Mr. Harper was once again ready to sell Saskatchewan down the river -- just as he has taken this province for granted so many times before, on everything from his broken promise of $800 million per year in extra equalization payments to totally ignoring the need for concerted action to help MS sufferers.

The Conservatives think they've got Saskatchewan in their hip-pocket. But their near-monopoly on politics in the province is not a helpful thing to Saskatchewan. It takes vigorous political diversity to get the attention we
deserve and need.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sask Con MPs Mute & Neutered...

Latest Goodale wisdom...


A crucial decision will be made this week about Saskatchewan’s potash industry. Will control over this strategic resource remain in Canadian hands, or will it be sold out to foreigners?

Whatever the answer turns out to be, one thing is clear – Saskatchewan’s 13 Conservative Members of Parliament have been “missing-in-action” through this whole historic debate, refusing to promote Saskatchewan’s cause!

Once again they’ve proven that when political issues become important and difficult, you can count on one thing for sure – your Conservative MP’s will be absent!

They stay out of sight until Stephen Harper tells them what to think, and then they dutifully behave like his mouthpieces in Saskatchewan, not Saskatchewan’s voices in Ottawa. It’s really quite demeaning.

The negligence of Conservative MP’s on the potash issue is the most recent and most serious example of their failure to stand-up and be counted for Saskatchewan. But it’s by no means the only one.

They did nothing to help repair First Nations University.

They won’t lift a finger on clinical trials of “liberation therapy” for MS sufferers.

When farmers needed help to survive this year’s incredible flooding, Conservatives settled for a chiseling $18 per acre (when production costs were more like $150 per acre) and livestock producers continue to be shut-out.

When municipalities needed help with unrealistic deadlines on infrastructure projects, Conservatives lectured them on being untrustworthy, bad managers.

Your Conservative MP’s let Mr. Harper kill the PFRA, underfund Saskatchewan’s carbon capture and storage technology, and renege on a cellulose ethanol plant, a police research centre, an all-weather entertainment complex … the list goes on.

And then there’s “the mother of all broken promises”: Where’s the $800 million every year that Stephen Harper solemnly promised to Saskatchewan from Equalization?

A Conservative political monopoly in Saskatchewan actually damages this province’s clout.

-- Post From My iPhone

Bridges, Roads, and Hospitals vs. Stealth Fighters/X-wing Fighters/Klingon Warbirds... Which will Cost less???

A Con apologist recently posted a response to a blog criticizing the need for roads, bridges, and hospitals vs. the new jet fighters. Here's our response to these Neo-wacko-Cons...

Yeah... we don't need no stinkin' "bridges, roads, and hospitals"! I'd rather have a 35 Billion dollar pile of scrap (in 15-17 years) than permanent structures that actually help the population.

Technically the only airforce we need is transport aircraft to move our peace keepers and "peace-makers" around the world. If anyone ever tried to "invade" Canada US fighters from Alaska and Northern States would intercept them long before we could decide what to do. After that, ICBMs would rule the day - not ancient propeller-driven Russian and Chinese bombers.

The fanboys always want the toys. The police want armoured cars. Navy wants stealth ships now too... We need to address what we really need. We need coastal patrol aircraft. We need support and logistical aircraft. Airlift.

As an example of stupidity, I'll give you the M1 Abrahams MBT (main battle tank) and Hummvee. The US went to iraq with these toys - the most expensive tank in the world, and a glorified "jeep" with little protection for the troops inside. The M1 quickly was shelved. It breaks down in desert dust (that's pretty useless considering where most modern wars will be fought over oil), had problems with air con units, stiffling troops inside, and burned so much fuel that it was a logistical nightmare (you pretty much have to have an army of fuel trucks following it). The much lighter, more agile, Russian/Soviet T-72/80/90s used in most Asian armies can dance circles around the Abrams, and don't break down in jungle/desert/water-logged conditions. They have reacitve armor, and use FAR less fuel.

The US used the Humvee as a troop transport. These had to be retrofitted to protect the troops. The British and Germans use the Mercedes "G-wagons" which are superior for protecting the troops inside, better on fuel, and smaller/more nimble. This makes them a much better choice. Also, not being GM-made makes them more durable.

Canadian armed forces "experts" wanted Humvees and M1s too. They claimed they would "allow us to integrate into the US forces". Hogwash. We're sure some Armed Forces "experts" think we should have ICBMs tipped with nukes too. The Indian Air Force has fitted Russion Sukhoi 30s and Mig 29s with systems to make them compatible with AWACS (advanced US avionics/targeting/acquisition hardware). Compatibility with a foreign army's systems should not be an issue (it can always be addressed later). Cost/benefit and timing should be factors.

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