Sunday, December 25, 2011

Harper's Christmas "Gifts" To Canadians... Jails Instead of Better Healthcare

Ralph Goodale has a good write-up and some startling facts about the Harper government's spending priorities:


This year is ending with some odd contradictions.

The Harper government says it doesn’t want to risk European-like debt problems, so it will curtail future federal funding for healthcare, and Canadians will just have to settle for a patchwork of provincial differences and deficiencies across the country.

But strangely, Mr. Harper has more than enough money to spend billions on bigger jails. He has more than enough money to spend additional billions on over-priced, uncompetitive fighter-jets.

He has more than enough money for expensive government advertising, unlimited political consultants, the most costly Cabinet in history (including his high-flying, high-living Defense Minister), and 30 more MPs to be added to the House of Commons (costing $100 million more per Parliament).

But healthcare is less important and must be cut back? Really?

The Harper government is also contradictory on job creation. They claim jobs are their Number One priority. Yet, this coming Sunday, the Conservatives will increase job-killing EI payroll taxes by $600 million, hitting every employee and employer in the country – small businesses especially.

Now is the wrong time to hike payroll taxes. Canada’s unemployment rate is rising. The quality of available jobs is falling. Even here in buoyant Saskatchewan, we lost 4,200 jobs last month and the unemployment rate jumped by a full percentage point.

A third contradiction – a truly mean-spirited one – is the way the Harper government designs its “tax credits”.

In this year’s budget, the Conservatives boasted about “tax credits” for volunteer fire-fighters, homecare givers and families enrolling their children in arts programs. But there’s a catch. You have to earn a minimum level of income before you qualify. Below that level, you get nothing.

So why does this government deliberately discriminate against lower-income fire-fighters, homecare givers and families?

In the eyes of Conservatives, why are less wealthy Canadians less worthy of help?

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Canada's Shame: The Abandonment of Our First Nations

Canada's First Nations have been abandoned by the Harper "Government". When one considers the blatantly anti-First Nations approach this government has taken from day one... it is difficult to pretend that Canada is somehow that much better than nations we see in the news with chronic mistreatment of First Populations. In reality we are not any better. Recent UN reports put Canada in a "club" of rather nefarious nations when it comes to how we treat the ancestral owners of our lands.

Growing up on the Prairies, I know the vehement anti-First Nations sentiment that abounds. The NORM is to bash these minorities. Whether it is job discrimination, or blatant public racism, the campaign against Canada's First Nations has it's home in Reform's heartland. We know that many of these Reform-Conservative MPs were sent to Ottawa for a handful of issues which pissed off many ultra-Conservative Prairie residents:

1) End the Gun Registry

2) Get out of Kyoto

3) Kill the Wheat Board

4) Keep incessantly, irritatingly whining about the 40yr-old NEP

5) Get rid of Quebec (no, seriously, that's how many of these extremists feel)

6) Take away the imagined "special rights" of minorities, including First Nations.

Anyone that can argue these heart-felt driving motives of many a Prairie NeoCon, is either ignorant, mislead, or blatantly lying. Of course the Harper Government won't just jump out and say what they're doing... it will be "incremental" - just like Harper has preached for years in his "incremental Conservatism" arguments he's handed out to his anti-choice and anti-gay supporters. To just state what they want to do wouldn't be wise - even for them. So, we'll continue to see an axe fall here... another one there... All under the guise of budget cuts (while Cabinet Ministers galavant around the country on "emergency" inspections, or squirrel away spending in their own ridings), and "austerity" - while the rest of their spending ways continue.

This ideologically extreme government will cut whatever they hate (and hate is the right word to use) under the guise of "deficit reduction", but will continue to carry a structural deficit, record spending (including idiotic tax cuts - which are just another form of gov't spending, building prisons, and buying "Star Wars" toys), while they carry out their ideological mantra.

In the end, Canada will be diminished as a nation. Our poor will be poorer. The gap between rich and poor will grow. Minorities will be more marginalized. The pre-60's Canada of the Diefenbaker Era will be back.

The nation will take serious re-building, as we attempt to pick up the scraps, and raise our standard of living to what it was. More seriously, we'll have to repair our reputation in the World, and rescue 100000s of Canadians who will have lost hope, jobs, rights, or all three.

Ralph Goodale had a great post the other day, on what this government has done to our First Nations...


When Parliament adjourned last week, there were several hot topics on the agenda – like the demolition of the Wheat Board, the government’s personal attack on Irwin Cotler (one of the finest MPs ever elected), the wild expenses of Defence Minister Peter MacKay … and on it goes.

But the deepest trouble flowed from the appalling housing crisis in the Aboriginal community of Attawapiskat.

When people there cried out for help, the first to respond was the Red Cross.

You might expect that to be the case, if this crisis were occurring in Haiti or some other third-world location. But in this country, the fiduciary responsibility for Aboriginal people rests with the Government of Canada.

That government’s response has been slow and indifferent. They heaped all the blame on the community itself, claiming the government had no idea there was any problem whatsoever, until just a couple of weeks ago.

But the Auditor-General has reported at least three times about housing and other painful issues afflicting Aboriginal people. Such problems are notorious, and there’s more than enough blame to go around, all governments included.

The one bright spot in this sad history was the 2005 “Kelowna Accord” – a ground-breaking effort to come to grips with housing, water, education, health, economic development and governance issues among Aboriginal Canadians.

That Accord was rooted in 20 months of careful negotiations, led by then-Prime Minister Paul Martin. He pulled together more than 30 federal departments, 10 provinces, three territories and five national Aboriginal organizations. They agreed on priorities, work-plans and funding – to start making a real difference.

But just days after the Accord was finalized, the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc forced a snap election. Mr. Harper came to power. He quickly cancelled Kelowna and nothing has been achieved since.

Tragically, six years have been lost. And so we have Attawapiskat.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

The Coming Pension Crisis Will Be a Conservative-Generated One

A great write-up today, by Ralph Goodale, on the harm the Conservative Party is doing to Canada's pension system. In a needless hand-out to private interests, the structure of our public pension system is beginning to be slowly dismantled. Good thing we'll be throwing these clowns out in about 3yrs...

Here's Ralph:

According to a major international banking firm, “two-thirds of all the people in the world who have ever turned 65 years old are still alive today”!
This year here in Canada, the first of our post-War “Baby-Boomers” are beginning to turn 65, on their way to becoming the biggest generation of senior citizens in history. Are their retirement incomes adequate and secure?
Three-quarters of Canadians working in the private sector don’t have any employer-sponsored pension plan. Neither do they have enough private savings to maintain their living standards.
So they will have to rely on our public pension system – Old Age Security (OAS), the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for those on the lowest incomes, and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) if they’re eligible.
Our publicly-sponsored plans compare favourably to those in other countries. Plus, for those who can afford it, there are tax-incentives to save privately through RRSPs or TFSAs. But only a fraction of Canadians actually do so.
So, many seniors face big pension deficiencies.
To fill the gap, the Harper government is promoting just one, single idea – something they call “pooled registered pension plans” (PRPPs). This, they say, is all that’s needed to solve the problem.
Experience elsewhere would suggest otherwise.
A PRPP is not much more than a Group-RRSP. They’ve been tried in countries like Australia. They’re not easy to administer. The banks and insurance companies running them charge large service fees. And their investment record is weak.
In fact, in Australia, pensioners would have been better off buying a simple government bond.
A better alternative in Canada would be a Voluntary Supplementary CPP, avoiding fees and margins that private sector operators necessarily have to charge, taking advantage of the CPP’s superlative investment record, and relying on the fact that the CPP is actuarially sound and secure for at least 75 years.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Same

Sitting in a neighborhood pub in West Hollywood tonight, I can't help but think how much we are so similar to our West Coast brethren. Okay, so I'm not in a "fly-over state... Still, the similarities along the coasts are just amazing...

Of course I am in Hollywood. Nuff said.

Welcome to Canada South?

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ralph Goodale Pays Tribute To Dr. Lloyd Barber

Ralph Goodale pays tribute to a great Saskatchewanean:


Close to 1500 people streamed into the big gymnasium at the University of Regina last week to say farewell to the late Dr. Lloyd Barber. He passed away on September 16th at the age of 79.

Proficient in business and intensely interested in Aboriginal issues, Dr. Barber’s passion was always higher learning and knowledge.

He was a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan and later returned there to teach, becoming Dean of Commerce and then Vice-President. In 1976, he began a remarkable 15-year stint as President of the “new” University of Regina.

During that period, Dr. Barber was a driving-force behind the creation of Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, which later became First Nations University. He found great wisdom in a saying by historic Cree Chief Ahtahkakoop about “education being the ‘new buffalo’ for Indian people”.

For his work in Indian education (and his 12 years as Canada’s Indian Land Claims Commissioner), Saskatchewan First Nations people named him Honourary Indian Chief Little Eagle.

Lloyd Barber believed in fact-based decision-making rooted in the pursuit of truth, reasoned arguments, and the broadest dissemination of knowledge. He wanted young people especially to be inspired by curiosity, to stretch their minds and think critically for themselves.

For these reasons, he always tried to advance and defend the vital role that universities and other institutions of higher learning play in our society.

If we want to be fiscally and economically successful, if we want to be productive, competitive and socially progressive, if we want to generate better jobs and higher disposable incomes, if we want to insulate ourselves from things like recessions – then we need to invest in knowledge, learning and skills.

One of his favourite quotes (from Harvard educator Derek Bok) was this: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.

Good point, Dr. Barber. Thank you for a life well-lived.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Confrontational Governments the Bane of Democracy

The political scene seems to be mirroring the US over the past several years... Parliamentary decorum used to dictate that there was some civility on the Hill. One party can easily change this delicate balance - and HAS. The confrontational attitude assumed by the Harper Conservatives - the whole, "our way is the ONLY way, and if it's not our way you're a lefty, liberal-pinko commie" - has created a crisis in Canadian democracy.

It becomes no use for opposing parties to "be nice" when one side just won't play. The USA saw this with the arrogance and hyper-partisan self-pride of the Republicans under Reagan and Bush (W). Republicans used to be reasonable. Used to work WITH the House. Not anymore. It has become such that even in Opposition, Republicans (particularly of the Tea Party variety) refuse to work with anyone. No compromise is their new path (and part of the plan according to "New American Century" game-plan documents). Someone like Obama is simply made to look the fool when he even attempts to compromise. He suddenly gets the label "weak", and even loses partisan support.

In Canada, we have seen years of the NDP and Liberal opposition being "nice". Talking about how they wish to work "with" the Harper NeoCons, to take the high road. This hasn't worked. You simply CANNOT have a middle ground when one party refuses to move. Particularly when the right-wing owned and operated media monopolies simply brush off any complaints about such behavior... and not in this 15-second attention span, 140 character world... This is clearly a message to our opposition groups to start using the tactics which grew our moderate/liberal movements from the outset: Uncompromising determination on our principles.

Ralph Goodale has a good take on the current state of Canada's Parliament in his latest update:

September 12th, 2011


Last week, I wrote about the consequences of “polarized politics”, where one rigid ideology digs-in against another, resulting in endless confrontation that sucks all the oxygen from the air, but resolves nothing.

A classic example was the reckless polarization in the US Congress this past summer which brought that country to the brink of debt default and another recession.

In Canada, the advocates of a similar right/left divide (the Conservatives and the NDP) claim the alternative is some mushy “middle ground”, watered-down and unpalatable in-between. But they’re wrong.

The alternative to polarization is not some feeble notion of “the centre”. It’s strong leadership around an exciting idea of what this country can achieve – generating enthusiasm and broad-based support.

Polarization is the wedge politics of division. It’s the creation of hot differences between two extremes, which mobilizes the small numbers of people who actually believe in those extremes, while turning-off lots of other folks along the way, suppressing their votes and keeping them at home on election days.

The antidote is inclusion – bridge-building ideas that lift people’s expectations above the tawdry and the mediocre, to something attractive and motivating – something a large cross-section of Canadians can buy into.

So it was when Mackenzie King laid the foundations of our social security system. So it was when Lester Pearson advanced medicare, the Canada Pension Plan, and the flag.

So it was when Pierre Trudeau repatriated the constitution, enshrined the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and forged an independent foreign policy for Canada.

So it was when Jean Chretien and Paul Martin slew the deficit, ushered in a decade of unprecedented fiscal success, said “no” to the war in Iraq, and invested in healthcare, innovation and infrastructure.

The challenge ahead for Liberals is to define fresh uplifting ideas to inspire and engage Canadians – leaving polarization as a relic of the past.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Won't Harper Take a Hard Line On CP Rail?

The Harper Conservatives have cozied up to a lot of large corporations over the years, but perhaps the most detrimental to Western Canadians has been the relationship with CP Rail. Ralph Goodale expands on this question in today's Goodale Weekly Report.

What perhaps needs to be said, is that one simply has to look at the location of the CP Rail head office (Calgary), and the makeup of it's senior executive and board to realize in which political party's pockets their interests lie - or vice versa...

Here is Ralph's report...


Farmers and other shippers of bulk commodities have complained for years that they get seriously sub-standard levels of service from the railways, while paying always higher freight rates.

Four years ago, the possibility that the shippers might be right was acknowledged by the federal government. They launched a formal review of rail freight services.

A detailed report was completed last October, published in January and belatedly accepted by the Harper government in March, after their procrastination started to become a political issue on the eve of the federal election.

The Rail Service Report concluded that freight services provided to farmers, the forest industry and shippers of chemicals, minerals, fertilizers and other products were woefully inadequate. Farmers, for example, were getting the cars they ordered only 50% of the time.

The problem, said the report, was a market-power “imbalance” highly favouring the railways. In other words, the railways could provide crummy service and the shippers were stuck with it, because there was no effective competition.

The Canada Transportation Act (CTA) needs to be amended to: (a) guarantee shippers the legal right to an enforceable “Service Level Agreement”, and (b) spell out the core elements that such agreements must cover – like:

· access to rail capacity,

· reasonable performance levels,

· notification requirements,

· performance measurement and reporting,

· penalties for non-performance, and

· dispute resolution procedures.

As you might expect, the railways have been lobbying furiously against this idea. And accordingly, rail service legislation seems to have dropped off the government’s agenda.

In response to two specific questions which I asked in the House of Commons in June, Conservative Ministers mumbled incoherently, as if they’d never heard of any Rail Service Review.

Shippers need to demand meaningful legislation before the end of this calendar year. There is no excuse for this government caving-in to the railways!post signatureVICTORY FUND

Monday, August 08, 2011

PM Deals With Marxists; Dipper Leader Separatist; Liberals Still Evil??? Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Harper.

Official Opposition Leader a closet separatist? Remember Harper fear-mongering about "socialists and separatists"? Now he's off meeting and forging formal ties and trade deals with a former Marxist guerilla...

Seems there is a real double standard here... If you're Liberal you aren't even allowed to make LEGAL Parliamentary deals - in the true spirit of Parliamentary procedure - with legitimate opposition parties, BUT if you're a Conservative PM you can make deals with Marxists?

Here's Ralph Goodale's take on the NDP Leadership crisis, and lack of Official Opposition:


In traditional Parliamentary language, the second-largest political Party in the House of Commons forms “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”.

Their duty, on behalf of all Canadians, is to hold the government to account. They must be tough on the issues, but never with any hint of disloyalty to the country.

The federal NDP were entrusted with that responsibility after Canada’s May 2nd election, but now, they’re engulfed in turmoil.

Some of their difficulty is the understandable result of Jack Layton’s tragic illness, and Canadians have rightly cut the NDP some slack for that reason. However, other issues have emerged more recently for which there is little public tolerance.

The person selected as Interim NDP Leader – Nycole Turmel (one of their first-time Quebec MP’s) – turns out to be a recent member of not one, but two, political organizations that advocate separatism.

When this information came to light, not through voluntary disclosure, but from an investigative reporter, Ms. Turmel claimed it was all a misunderstanding.

But why was she not transparent from the outset? Why did she fail to tell voters that for four years she had been a full-fledged member, supporter and financial contributor in two separatist organizations?

That’s not some “misunderstanding”. It’s fundamentally wrong. Either you believe in a united Canada, or you don’t.

Ms. Turmel says she was so attracted to the social policies and to the friends she found in these separatist organizations, she simply overlooked their primary objective of destroying the country. Really?

The damage is done. In Parliament, Stephen Harper will dismiss the NDP Leader as a closet separatist with no judgment or credibility.

And “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” will be hamstrung – just when the world is confronting a dangerous debt crisis, and Parliament needs to be focused relentlessly on sound economics, productivity and competitiveness, job-creating small businesses and better family incomes.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Canada's Pension Crisis Worsens As Harper "Government" Sits On Hands

When we start talking about Canada's pension crisis it becomes abundantly clear just how little the "Harper Government" cares about Canada's seniors. In typical Reform-a-Tory fashion they try to "create" issues within a sub-population while they ignore the real issues.

Here is Ralph Goodale's take on it:


The Harper government’s ideological straight-jacket prevents it from doing anything meaningful to enhance Canada’s public pension system.

In June, the Conservatives arbitrarily cancelled a federal-provincial meeting to examine ways of bolstering the Canada Pension Plan. Then in July, they announced a travelling road-show to promote their idea of privately-run “pooled registered pension plans” instead of the CPP.

This public relations campaign is a clear admission that Harper & Co. fully understand the political potency of the worries most Canadians have about income insecurity in their retirement. But this government just can’t bring itself to begin fixing the core problem – i.e., the insufficiency of the CPP.

The private plans being peddled by the Conservatives will be big profit-makers for the banks and insurance companies that run them. They could also be useful add-ons to a properly expanded public pension system.

All by themselves, however, Mr. Harper’s private plans will come nowhere near dealing with the reality that 75% of employees in the private sector have no workplace pension plan whatsoever.

Combine that fact with Canada’s rapidly changing demographics.

This year, the baby-boomers begin retiring in big numbers. More and more will do so with every passing year. We will soon have a shrinking workforce, but the biggest generation of senior citizens in history. And most of those seniors will not have adequate retirement incomes.

A stronger CPP is the central pillar by which these problems should be addressed.

The Canada Pension Plan is familiar to the largest percentage of Canadians. It has the biggest reach. It extracts no management fees or private profit margins. It has a superlative investment record, and (thanks to former Finance Minister Paul Martin) it’s financially secure for at least 75 years.

The best way to provide greater pension security to the largest proportion of Canadians is to build on the proven success of the CPP.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Federal Conservatives, Ostriches, and Medicare

In the 1980s, as leader of Saskatchewan's Provincial Liberals, Ralph Goodale routinely wrote newspaper commentaries on fiscal responsibility, strategic investment advice for the (then) Devine Conservative government, and generally dispensed honest intellectual wisdom which was lauded by leading economists (and the people of Saskatchewan, on whose behalf he spoke with passion and candor). He was the ONLY Saskatchewan politician at the time embracing fiscal responsibility, at a time when the Devine Tories were creating debt like drunken Tories (whoops... I meant sailors).

It's great to see Ralph continuing to engage discussion on what is good and economically right for Canadian taxpayers.

Here is Ralph's latest update:


A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

July 18th, 2011


The federal government is behaving like an ostrich when it comes to the future of Canada’s health-care system.

With his head deep in the sand, Mr. Harper is ignoring the biggest policy elephant his government has to face – the refinancing of Canadian medicare by no later than 2014.

That’s when the existing federal-provincial-territorial Health Accord expires. It provided for $41 billion in new federal funding over 10 years, beginning in 2004.

The Harper government hasn’t added a single new penny since it took power in 2006. Neither has it followed through on the homecare or pharma-care issues which were supposed to be addressed in this period before 2014.

Instead, the Conservatives mooch credit for financing put in place in the Liberal budget of 2004. And they keep passing the buck to the provinces, denying federal responsibilities.

To make things worse, the Harper government’s trade negotiations may cause pharmaceutical costs in Canada to jump by as much as $2 - $3 billion a year.

Many Premiers are worried about two tricks the feds may pull to appear to be dealing with this “policy elephant”, while really just off-loading problems onto the provinces.

One trick would be cutting federal transfer payments for education, social programs and infrastructure in order to increase transfers for health. It would be a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The provinces would be no better off.

The other trick would be to send the provinces “tax points” instead of cash to pay for health-care. This is an old gimmick that always favours the biggest and wealthiest provinces with the most extensive tax bases, while penalizing all the rest.

Neither of these tricks is appropriate. Instead, Mr. Harper should start talking with Premiers to hear their arguments for health funding ahead of fighter jets, bigger jails and extra corporate tax cuts.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Harper's Senate Reform? Nothing But Bad For The West

The pandora's box of Senate reform continues to be "peeked into". What does it mean for Western Canadians? Here's Ralph Goodale's take:


Stephen Harper is again pushing all his old proposals to “reform” the Senate.

It’s all a bit rich, since he has violated every promise he ever made about this much-maligned institution.

He said he would never appoint anyone to the Senate who hadn’t first been “elected” to that role in some fashion. But instead, he packed the place with more partisan cronies than any other Prime Minister in Canadian history.

He said he would never allow an appointed Senator into his Cabinet. But instead, in his very first Cabinet in 2006, he appointed a floor-crossing Liberal (David Emerson) to sit in the upper chamber, and before Emerson could even find his seat, he was elevated to Cabinet.

Knowing they were under investigation by Elections Canada for alleged wrong-doing in Conservative election financing, Mr. Harper appointed two of his closest Party confidants to the Senate, risking further embarrassment for the institution.

And then most recently, he rescued three Conservative candidates, just defeated by their voters on May 2nd, and installed them days later in the Senate. Two of them were former Conservative Senators who had only just resigned to run for the House of Commons. Their voters rejected them, and now they’re better off than if they’d won.

So pious pronouncements about Senate reform don’t ring true from Stephen Harper.

And it’s not just me who’s skeptical. At least two provinces have threatened to take Mr. Harper to court. And even former Alberta Premier, Don Getty, says the Harper scheme is wrong.

The big problem for me is simple. If you concoct some half-baked way to “elect” Senators indirectly – without actually rectifying the numbers from each region, to even-up the severe imbalance against western Canada – then you’re just entrenching the Senate’s current anti-western bias.

Elected, but unequal, just doesn’t cut it!

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Conservatives Continue to Underfund Vital Canadian Institutions

The RCMP are being neglected by the Conservative "government" (and we use that term loosely). Perhaps our proud national stalwarts of justice are just not as "sexy" (in the words of one Con MP) as special forces in camo fatigues brandishing AR15s.

Perhaps the force is being punished for it's pro-gun control stance (and pro-registry, we should add)?

Here is Ralph Goodale's take on this:


Earlier this spring, I met a group of Regina cab-drivers who were concerned about the City of Regina not promptly renewing their taxi licences – because the necessary security checks had not come through.

If one or two drivers had such complaints, you might think the problem was the drivers themselves – i.e., something in their background set-off alarm bells. But when 40 or 50 licence renewals are being held up all at once, there’s something else going on.

In Ottawa, I found M.P.’s from across the country were receiving exactly the same complaints – from all sorts of people working in jobs that involve trusting relationships, ranging from my taxi drivers to people handling funds for charities to volunteers coaching little league sports.

The problem seems to be a massive backlog of security checks swamping the RCMP. The Force doesn’t have the financial resources necessary to handle this workload.

So vast numbers of people in many walks of life who need security clearances are seriously inconvenienced, or sometimes put out of work.

We’ve seen trouble in the financing of the RCMP before.

There are questions about the security of their pension plan. A couple of years ago, a promised and much-deserved wage increase was summarily rolled back. When they’re handed extraordinary assignments like policing the Olympics or dealing with the G-8 summit, they’re never fully reimbursed. The RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina has been steadily under-funded.

This is no way to treat our national police force. Yes, the RCMP has had administrative and leadership difficulties in recent years – but that’s the fault of their political masters.

Canada must not allow the Mounties’ distinguished reputation to be damaged by neglect, confusion and chronic under-funding. But judging by the Harper government’s past performances, these risks are running high.

The RCMP deserve better. So does Canada.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Will of Farmers Only Hope For Wheat Board

Canada's largest and greatest voice for family farms is slowly riding off into the sunset. Ralph Goodale discusses what - if any - recourse Canadian farmers have for this important - farmer-run - organization.


When Parliament votes this fall on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board, there’s no doubt that Stephen Harper will get his way. That’s the reality of a majority government.

As a consequence, the CWB’s single-desk marketing system will be destroyed.

The law requires the government to hold a proper democratic plebiscite among prairie grain producers BEFORE introducing any new legislation that would have the effect of killing the single-desk.

But Mr. Harper plans to ignore that law.

His rationale for denying farmers their right to vote is laughable. He says a plebiscite is necessary only for minor tinkering with the single-desk, but by some strange logic, farmers should not get to vote when the government is totally getting rid of it.

Say what? That’s like a doctor saying, if I’m taking out your tonsils, I’ll consult you. But if my proposed operation is euthanasia – to kill you altogether – I won’t bother to ask.

Another nonsensical proposition is the false notion that without its mandate for single-desk marketing, the CWB could survive for those who want to pool their marketing efforts voluntarily.

Voluntary pooling never worked in the early days of the Canadian grains industry. It’s a shambles in Ontario. It failed completely in Australia. And it won’t work here either, after the CWB is gone.

Either you have a single-desk system, or you don’t. And if you don’t, you have the open-market, period. It’s misleading to suggest you can have a bit of both.

That’s why the Harper government has refused to describe how the CWB would function without its single-desk. They know it will just fade away. And that’s exactly what they want.

But is that what farmer’s want?

Only farmers themselves have the political clout to raise enough concern to force a democratic plebiscite.

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