Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Harper Conservatives Toy With Tin-Pottery

(Credit to Creekside Blog for this image).

Conservatives will often claim that they are not "right wing".  Heck, some of them even call themselves moderates.  With the money behind their spin machine, they can certainly convince a lot of voters of this.

For Conservatives wanting to practice these lines of "truthiness" the challenge is the old "actions speak louder than words" adage.  The Conservative government has successively (and successfully) begun a "remoulding" of Canada in a very reactionary, right-wing way.  In their "war on logic" and "war on words", they've managed to twist the language of politics just enough that the general public is always one step behind the fibs.  If we are careful to check facts, however, we'll see that their actions do not follow their words - at least not their "sanitized-for-public-consumption" talking points.

Take the recent story of a backbench Conservative MP asking a question (obviously fed to him by the PMO, because ALL Conservative MPs are spoon-fed their questions and statements from Dear Leader) about the cost of the Opposition asking questions.

Wait-a-minute, you say, did you read that correctly?  The government is questioning the Opposition's RIGHT (and DUTY, we might add) to ask questions?

Yes they are.  And they'll probably convince a lot of people of the need to free the government of "pesky little things" like questions to enforce accountability.

Let's go over a little history here...  When the Harper Party came to power back in 2006, they were promising to uphold the accountability of the Canadian Government.  Harper appointed several watchdogs - hand-picked them actually - an "Accountability Commissioner", and new Parliamentary Budget Officer, among others.

Throughout the intervening time period Harper's Party has come up against these watchdogs, as they try everything in their ability to by-pass accountability.  The Harper PMO gave his caucus a guide to subvert the work of Parliament, forced an election over the Opposition questions about the F35 fighter purchase his government has championed - and vehemently defended cost-wise (you can read more about their attempts to mislead Canadians here), are trying to silence local mayors, and using EVERY opportunity under the sun to advertise his POLITICAL motives using tax-payer dollars (even angering his friends at the right wing National Citizen's Coalition).

Beyond gagging Parliament and any questioning of his government in the House, Harper's gang have tried to muzzle the very journalists who have sought to do the work they are trained to:  to question the government on issues that matter to Canadians.

This is all part of a very effective Harper strategy taught to Canadian Conservatives by their Republican cousins like Frank Luntz in the USA.  The strategy is quite insidious:  The goal is to subvert language itself.  Make people believe they are hearing one thing, when the government is actually doing something else - often the opposite.  Luntz has become somewhat of an expert at twisting reality.  He's been censured for it on more than one occasion, yet he is a favourite of Canadian Conservatives.

The reality is that Conservatives understand most Canadians (or even Americans for that matter) WILL stand up for the liberal principles of fairness and equality.  They know that their pet policy of cutting government to nothing but a military, with full privatization of the nation, and full corporate welfare (read: corporations pay little or no taxes) does not always resonate with most of the middle class who never actually benefit from it.  They know that Canadians DO NOT agree with them on abortion, or privatization of healthcare.  They need another tact.  A way to - with the help of corporate conservative-leaning media - win over the "soccer moms" and "Tim Hortons hockey Dads", and convince them that conservative policies help them (even if they don't).

Of course, to accomplish this, they have to prevent any questions - from media, or in Parliament - and curtail facts and research that point out otherwise.  They take many of their "pet policies" and introduce them through their back benches.  When the idea is lambasted by the public and opposition, there is no accountability from the Prime Minister's Office (even thought they spoon-fed the bills and questions).  This is how you get Conservative MPs rising to bring up anti-choice measures, or defending the governments horrible record on crime prevention.

Further to simply making hidden policy choices, the other step in the Conservative agenda is the constant claim that government should be "small", and they must cut in certain areas.  The cuts, of course will be agenda/ideologically driven.  One only has to look at the attacks the Conservatives have made on church organizations who have spoken out against Harper cuts (to groups like KAIROS and CIDA), to see how far this agenda has been driven.  Eventually they'll cut all funding to anyone who may speak against them.

With information on what the government is doing, or what they are spending OUR tax dollars on, a good opposition can properly do it's job, keeping the government accountable.  The national media can also do it's job - keeping the public informed about what the government is doing, or proposing.  A government - in principle, and in tradition - has always been open to respecting the will of Parliament, the Opposition, and the free press.  It seems the "Harper Government" not so much so.

This is where today's story of the Conservative MP's question comes in.  In ANY other nation, if WE Canadians observed a government attempting to prevent the freedom of Opposition questions, we would be screaming "tin pot dictator", and "fascism"!  Anywhere there are attempts to silence opposition, or prevent voting during elections, we would be among the first nations to send election observers.  We would stand in the UN (well, at least we used to) to defend democracy.

We stand against tyrants and acts to undermine democracy in other nations because we understand history, and we understand what brought those lands to the places they are at.  We understand what lack of vigilance can result in.

For Canadians to stand pat this Holiday Season would be a complete repudiation of the democracy in which we live.  The freedoms many of us have fought and died for are being sliced away... a death by 1000 cuts (perhaps more)... We need to put away our iPods, and XBoxes, and Facebook chat sessions, and reality TV shows JUST long enough to realize what is truly at play here... what are the true costs to Canadian values and Canadian democracy.

Please.  Stand up and be an active Canadian!

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Monday, December 03, 2012

Conservatives' Economic Failures

Ralph Goodale discusses the horrible fiscal management record of the Harper Government...

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

December 3rd, 2012


The Harper Conservatives will force another odious “Omnibus Budget Bill” through the House of Commons this week.

A lot of attention is focused on the anti-democratic nature of their “omnibus” process, forcing MPs to deal with 50 or more unrelated issues all at once in a single vote. It makes the vote totally meaningless.

But even worse, for all the verbiage in this budget legislation, the Conservatives are doing little of consequence to deliver what Canadians really need – i.e., more economic growth and less inequality.

Indeed, they’re moving in the opposite direction. Mr. Harper’s ideological obsession with austerity drives him to cut the federal government at every turn to make it as irrelevant as possible. And that risks weakening the economy by curtailing aggregate demand just when Canadian growth is already faltering.

Yes, the federal government must always demonstrate strong management and fiscal prudence. There is never an excuse for waste. But Canada does have a fiscal ace-in-the-hole for times like these, and that’s our federal debt-ratio.

That ratio compares the size of the federal debt to the economy overall. In the mid-1990’s, it had soared to a paralyzing 70%. In other words, the debt was equal to 70% of Canada’s GDP. Thanks to essential decisions by the Chretien/Martin governments, the federal debt-ratio was chopped below 35%. Best in the world!

That’s what gives Canada some fiscal flexibility today. Some of it should be utilized to invest in growth and combat inequality.

To start, the Harper Conservatives could stop escalating EI payroll taxes. They claim they don’t raise taxes, but that’s a lie. They are hiking payroll taxes by as much as $600-million every year, and that kills jobs.

Secondly, they could make federal tax credits for kids, caregivers and the disabled equally available to all Canadians. The way they’re structured right now, people below a certain income are ineligible. That’s perverse.

They could also focus on first-time jobs for young people struggling with unemployment rates at recession-like levels. They could help families cope with the high cost of post-secondary education. They could get serious about affordable housing. They could transfer the entire federal gas tax to local municipalities to help build community infrastructure.

There are many pro-active options, but the Harper government is content with mediocrity.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2012 Bye-Election Navel Gazing

So what did we learn Monday night?

Well, we learned that some polling can be pretty darned accurate.  Polls showed the Liberals about 3-5% back of the Reform-Conservative candidate in Calgary Center, and they were pretty dead-on.

We learned that there are strong rifts within the CPC - most pronounced in AB.  We also learned that voters are not “overjoyed” by Stephen Harper’s performance.  So unimpressed, in fact, that they actually voted for... wait for it... a... a... LIBERAL!!!

We learned that an incredible, well-organized campaign cannot win on it’s own merits.

We learned that cooperation with other parties is a NON-STARTER.  The LPC must build back to what it was, with a discussion of ideas - but more importantly - a means to consistently and effectively convey those ideas.  For all serious talk of “mergers”, “coalitions”, and “cooperation”, discussing it openly appears to be the “kiss of death”, and certainly leaves the ones wishing for it appearing desperate.

We learned that the NDP also has reasons to fear it’s own standing.  BC should have been an easy “layup” for the NDP after the “Orange Crush” of 2011, but the fear and mistrust of Mulcair within that party is showing.  There are divisions within the NDP which are starting to fester. Word is, there are some speed bumps ahead which may just rattle the Orange jalopy apart.

We learned that the Greens ARE a factor... and it’s NOT only because they’re another “alternative” to this or that party.  It’s because people in North America as a whole are WAKING UP to the realities of climate change and WANT to do something about it, no matter what the mainstream parties say.

We learned that the LPC didn’t actually do bad at all - actually did exceedingly well in a Conservative bastion.

So, where does the LPC go from here?  

The LPC leadership contest will provide a partial answer to that question.  Liberals are fairly preoccupied with the leadership right now (for good reason).  There is still much work to be done.  Much of the excitement around an LPC leadership race won’t really translate to activity on the ground until the new year.  At that time we’ll see the BC LPC AGM (with several candidates from BC, this will be a key stop for all candidates), an OLP leadership race involving many LPC members, MPs and former candidates (this will draw out a lot of new supporters), and a general strong focus as April draws near. Add a busy Quebec Liberal leadership race, and you're going to see a lot of the word "liberal" in the media over the next 6 months (like it or not).

Once the leadership battle is “joined” in earnest (and before the membership cut-offs), we’ll see more of an effort to recruit and grow the party from the leadership camps.  You’ll see more discussion of details behind platforms and strategies, and you’ll see a general increase in media and public attention.

The convention - like many before it - will help define the “personality” of the party.  Is the Liberal Party youthful and brimming with new ideas, as we saw at the 2012 Biennial Convention?  Is it a party mirroring the LPC that existed merely 5-7 years ago?  Or, will it reflect the moxie, energy, and verve of the Chretien years, and the Trudeau years before that?

The January 2012 Biennial did much to begin the process of renewal.  The new LPC National Exec has taken the lead in pushing along the communication required for a dialogue - with what resources they have.  The party has been growing, raising funds, and building on new ideas.  The raw membership and supporter numbers are most encouraging.  With them we’ll eventually see the increase in funds, but the increase in numbers also means that the message - the IDEA - of a moderate centrist party of economic responsibility with social conscience, still resonates with Canadians.

Making a dent in “Fortress Alberta” (Firewall and all) was a great “show of force” during the Liberal comeback...  Hard work and a vigorous leadership contest should help clear the rest of the way. Hard work will be required in rural Canada, and a strategy to cut into the Green and NDP vote needs to exist. In the West, Liberals will face tougher competition from these two parties in urban centers. In the East the LPC must draw in Progressive Conservatives who want a government that practices "fiscal competence".

Tough task? Always has been. For over 100 years the Liberal Party of Canada has pragmatically done what was right for Canada and Canadians. It has balanced the rhetoric of the far left and far right with policy which benefits most Canadians. Policy which helps grow the "middle class". Policy which helps build this great nation. When Canadians are once again able to clearly hear that Liberal vision painted boldly by a party comfortable with itself in conveying it, the LPC will be back.

Don't be surprised if this happens some time before 2015.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Goodale Blasts HarperCons On Omnibus Bills

Ralph Goodale has a really good write-up on omnibus bills, and he explains the concepts clearly for the layperson.  Have a read...

October 22nd, 2012
The language used in Parliament can sometimes get pretty obscure.  Over the last few weeks, for example, many people have asked:  “What is an omnibus Bill?”
A “Bill” is the written proposal that a government presents to Parliament to create a new law or change an existing one.  Bills are very specific.  Every word is scrutinized to make sure it’s the right word to convey Parliament’s exact meaning, with every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed.
Usually, each Bill deals with only one topic, so the debate on its principles and the expert committee work to examine its details can be thoroughly and professionally done.  And so the voting on whether to approve it can be clear-cut.
An “omnibus Bill” is one that includes several different topics bundled together.
Within reasonable limits, omnibus Bills can be managed by Parliament – if all the different topics in any such Bill are actually inter-related and inter-dependent.  And if the overall volume is not overwhelming.
Before the Harper government took power, omnibus Bills were used to implement the core provisions of federal Budgets.  They averaged fewer than 75-pages and typically amended a handful of laws directly related to budgetary policy.
Under the Harper regime, the “omnibus” procedure has been pushed to unprecedented extremes, causing massive abuses of power.
Conservative Omnibus Bills since 2006 have averaged well over 300 pages.  The latest, introduced just last week, has 556 sections, filling 443 pages, touching on more than 24 disconnected topics – everything from navigable waters to grain inspection, from disability plans to hazardous materials.
It’s a complete dog’s breakfast, deliberately designed to be so humongous and convoluted in a single lump that it cannot be intelligently reviewed by Parliament, and any votes will be largely meaningless.
Such abusive tactics have been condemned by none other than Stephen Harper himself.  But now in power, he behaves like a Third World despot – seemingly afraid of a properly functioning Parliamentary democracy.
That fear of democracy is also evident in Conservative election financing violations (for which they’ve been charged and convicted), robo-call schemes to manipulate voters, and vicious attack-advertising.  It’s all beneath contempt.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Opinion on the Harper/Kenney Immigration Policy by BC Thinktank

Came across this article on a BC South Asian think-tank website...  Certainly makes you think if Harper's misleading of New Canadians will have any lasting impact.  Seems there are already lots of reasons for the South Asian community to rethink any serious commitments to a Conservative cause bent on "turning back the clock" on any progress they've made in Canada...

Check it out here:



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Conservatives Making Misdirected, Mean-spirited Cuts

The Harper government continues to make mean-spirited cuts to any and all institutions they are ideologically opposed to, while they keep their wasteful pet projects (projects that are more expensive than ALL the cuts they are trying to make combined) on the board.  They prefer mega-billion dollar jets and jails, while they nickel-and-dime Canadians with cuts to agencies and groups that did valuable service to the communities they are in, Canada, and the World.

Ralph Goodale touches on a few more "gosh, what are they doing?" cuts by this lost and misdirected "government".


Last week, I met some great people at Abernethy, Saskatchewan who run the “Motherwell Homestead National Historic Site”.  One was an employee.  The others were volunteers.

For them, preserving and telling the story of W.R. Motherwell is a labour of love.  They rightly believe it’s fundamental to what rural western Canada is all about.  Born in Ontario in 1860 and transplanted to the Northwest Territories in 1882, Motherwell was a visionary who helped lay the foundations of prairie agriculture.

His original farm-site is a priceless piece of history.  Among many innovations, he pioneered food safety principles, and was an early advocate of shelterbelts to combat soil erosion.  An historic prairie “tree nursery” was set up in 1901 only a few miles from his homestead.

Also that year, Motherwell helped create the Territorial Grain Growers Association, and later, the Saskatchewan Cooperative Elevator Company.  He established the College of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan.  Beginning in 1905, he served 13 years as Saskatchewan’s first Minister of Agriculture, and through the 1920’s, he filled that role federally.

It’s no wonder people around Abernethy feel strongly about this National Historic Site.  It costs less than $400,000/year to operate as a vital community asset, tourist attraction, educational tool, job creator, and living monument to a prairie hero. 

But none of that matters to Stephen Harper.  Like that tree nursery at nearby Indian Head, the Motherwell Homestead got chopped in this year’s budget.  It’s being drastically downsized and left to languish as a pale shadow of what it used to be.

This is a dumb decision.  But worse still, it’s biased and discriminatory.

While the Motherwell Homestead is being gutted, the Harper Conservatives are putting $2.5-million into the home-riding of Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement for a National Historic Site near Muskoka, Ontario.

Remember “pork-barrel” Tony?  He’s the Harper Minister who mis-spent $50-million without lawful authority on sheer waste (e.g., ornamental gazebos and sidewalks to nowhere) to puff-up his riding before the G-8 fiasco there in 2010.

Now he gets yet another spending boondoggle, while Abernethy gets cut.  Why?

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Canada's Democratic Crisis

Ralph Goodale's June 15th update... It's a good one!

June 15th, 2012


From about 8:40 pm this past Wednesday until just before midnight on Thursday, the House of Commons was locked into non-stop marathon voting on 159 proposed amendments to the Harper government's so-called "budget" legislation.

For some 27 consecutive hours, MPs voted on a wild mixture of Conservative policies -- everything from cutting old age pensions and killing community pastures to the elimination of environmental protection at the federal level, a more restrictive and arbitrary immigration system, fewer food inspectors, less civilian supervision over Canadian spies, etc., etc., etc.

This "omnibus Bill" was completely unprecedented -- 750 clauses spread over 421 pages purporting to alter 70 other Canadian laws all at once, with only about a quarter of all that flowing from legitimate "budget" matters.  Everything else was just jammed in and rammed through under ludicrous time constraints, without decent democratic scrutiny or debate.

One thing was obvious.  The government didn't want the public to be informed!

When it was all over -- and 308 bleary-eyed MPs had finally gone home -- the Harper regime forced its will on Canadians.  Not a single comma was modified.

The Conservatives claim to have a "strong mandate" to do this sort of thing -- to do anything they please, actually.  But in truth, only 24-percent of voting age Canadians actually supported Mr. Harper in the last election.

And I bet none of them cast their ballots intending to slash the small pensions available in future to elderly widows living on the lowest of incomes.

Stephen Harper doesn't pretend to care about folks like that. Neither does he respect the hopes and aspirations of the 76-percent of Canadians who did not vote Conservative. To him, they're just road-kill getting in his way.

But many other people DO care.

I was amazed at the high volume of social-media chatter all through this grotesque procedure.  The vast majority were strongly supportive of doing everything possible to stand in Mr. Harper's way.

There were also a handful of right-wingers on the other side -- typically abusive and some downright vulgar.  It's telling how they cannot argue the substance of their convictions. They resort quickly to slogans and profanity.

But mainstream Canada is so much better than that.  Most people in this fine country want government that's smart and efficient, but also compassionate and inclusive, to bring out the best in Canadians.

For these folks -- the vast majority -- the "marathon" toward that worthy goal is still ongoing!

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Saturday, May 19, 2012


Election overturned due to "irregularities".

Just think about that for a while. In Canada.

We used to only hear about this type of stuff in 3rd World dictatorships. Our troops and police go overseas to supervise elections to prevent this type of stuff.

Shameful and embarrassing day for Canada.

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, May 11, 2012

Conservative Priapism For "Playing Soldier" Continues to Cost Taxpayers Billions

While children are living far below the poverty line, infrastructure crumbles, and soldiers in Northern Canada go without vital supplies, our government want so play army.

We hear that our Def Min knew about massive cost overruns on the Libya mission... We hear about the government possibly hiding the cost of the jet fighters... Sole sourced contracts going out for heavy lift aircraft...

What is it about "chicken hawks" that pushes them to military adventurism? Is it that they never got a chance to really defend the land? Is it that years of playing online war games has ingrained it in their minds? Is there a need for 3rd world dictatorial bravado?

Canadians ARE feeling the need for change.. It may be a few years yet, and may be preceded by criminal investigations and possible charges, but change is coming. It may not be Liberals, but they will have a say in Harper's future.

Change is coming.

People are clamoring for it...

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, May 04, 2012

Why Isn't It Done Yet?

The painful lament of a Fort Mac truck driver after dragging the lifeless body of an infant from a flaming wreck of a brutal accident on one of Canada's busiest roads - the stretch from Edmonton to Fort Mac.

Across Canada the public is speaking out about crumbling (or non-existent) infrastructure... Bridges kill innocent motorists in Quebec. BC's "Highway of Death" - the stretch of the national highway (TCH) from Alberta to Kamloops - claims lives regularly. The Sea-to-Sky route from Van to Whistler is better now, but still claims lives on busy stretches... Highway 1 west of Swift Current and near the Manitoba border is death trap quality.

Voters ask... Why isn't it done yet?

Why? Because there is a disease in this land that causes people to despise their duty as citizens - to pay taxes. People are being convinced taxes are bad by a rich and powerful lobby of multi-nationals, right-Wing media and politicians, and right biased think tanks like the Fraser Institute. A few hundred dollars a year are sinful, we are told, while we are asked to pay 1000s in fees to private profiteers.

No one dares say taxes are useful. The automatic mantra is that taxes are bad. The media reinforces it. The politicos - even Socialists - ape it. Too spineless to stand up for public infrastructure... Meanwhile our infrastructure crumbles. Trade, transit, and transport suffers... And families are killed.

Stephen Harper has been "trimming" so-called "fat" for 6 yrs. We have not seen a desire to build Canada. It was always stated by the right that there is too much fat to trim... So... There probably will never be money for anything as important as highways. Hard to believe when there are untold Billions for space fighters and mega prisons.

Who's responsible for the deaths? The tax-haters are.

Why did innocent children die in Alberta? Why are highways not being twinned?

Ask the right wing policy think tanks and politicians. And remind them of the deaths that are on their hands.

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Parliamentary Budget Officer Lambastes Harper Conservatives

Ralph Goodale knows a little bit about Parliament... And his latest info on the recent Parliamentary Budget Officer's Report (a Harper appointee, by the way) is a great read:


The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has just issued another report – backed by solid facts and figures – that destroys Conservative justifications for cutting Old Age Pensions while spending mega-billions on F-35 “stealth” fighter-jets.

Both of these are long-term issues.  The pension cuts begin about 10 years from now, and get phased-in over a further seven years.  That is exactly the same period during which the fighter-jets would be purchased. 

Are these planes being bought with money taken from seniors?  It’s hard to avoid that conclusion.

Anyone under the age of 54 today, beware!  Your Old Age Pension won’t be there for you when you turn 65.  You’ll have to wait longer.

This breaks an explicit Stephen Harper election promise.  It’s an attack on the lowest-income seniors because they’re the ones who lose the most.  And no money is saved overall, because the burden just shifts onto provincial welfare.

Most importantly, this mean-spirited maneuver is entirely unnecessary.  Canada’s Old Age Pension is already fully affordable and financially sound for the long term.  Punting the age from 65 years up to 67 is NOT required to keep it sustainable.

The PBO makes a telling point about timing: 

Mr. Harper says the big problem is all those retiring Baby-Boomers.  But his plan to delay eligibility won’t be fully phased-in for 17 years, until 2029.  That pretty well misses the Boomer-Bulge altogether. By 2030, they’ll have largely worked their way through the system, and costs will steadily decline.

As for the planes, the Airforce says they need at least 65 new fighter-jets to replace their ageing CF-18s.  Mr. Harper claims to have frozen the budget for all “acquisition costs” at $9-billion.  For that, the PBO calculates, the government can get just 40 of these ultra-expensive planes, not 65.

So who is telling the truth – Stephen Harper or the PBO?

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Rail Deal Bad for Canada

From Ralph Goodale...

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

April 30th, 2012


Confronted with seriously deficient rail services to move their products to market, a broad coalition of shippers got together in 2006 to demand government action.

Representing agriculture, forestry, minerals, chemicals, fertilizers, industrial and manufactured goods – just about everything shipped by rail – the coalition shared the common problem of suffering through lousy treatment at the hands of the railways.

The railways got away with it because all these shippers were basically “captives”. There was no competition, no shipping alternative. And no legal recourse against arbitrary railway power.

In 2008, after two years of badgering, the Conservatives finally agreed to hold a "Rail Service Review". But they waited another year before actually appointing the people to do it. And that group took a further year to complete its work. They filed their report in October, 2010 – with compelling proof of railway abuses of power and inferior service.

It’s now 18 months later. The government says they accept the Review’s key recommendation that shippers need the legal right to enforceable “Level of Service” contracts. But after endless rehashing and stalling, no such legislation has yet been introduced.

The time for concrete action is painfully overdue. There can be no excuse for failing to introduce the necessary new law this spring. But it will need to be scrutinized carefully, because the railways will try to water it down, and they have this government under their thumb.

For example, watch out for a scheme that sets up arbitrary categories or "tiers" among shippers that would allow the railways to discriminate against some of their customers. In every case, all Level of Service agreements with all shippers should include six mandatory elements:

1. Services and Obligations;
2. Communications protocols;
3. Performance Standards;
4. Performance Metrics;
5. Consequences for Non-performance; and
6. Dispute resolution mechanisms.

This is just normal, good business behavior. Nothing less is acceptable.


-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Canada... PetroState? Say It Ain't So, Stevie-boy!

The Tyee has a great writeup on the "Petro-State" mindset, and how it has ruined Alberta - and perhaps Canada too, if  we're not careful...


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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Goodale Meets With Top Saskatchewan Cattlemen - About Conservative Cuts

Wrong-minded cuts by Conservatives hurt Canada's Beef exports...  Ralph Goodale spend time with Saskatchewan's top cattlemen to discuss the situation...

Lots of Saskatchewan people seemed to be in Ottawa this week -- among them, members of the Cattlemen's Association (SCA). It was my pleasure to have a great discussion with Vice-President Ryan Thompson and District 1 Director Ryan Beierbach.

The beef business is heavily export oriented, so we talked about trade, especially market opportunities in Japan, Korea and Europe, and the need for legislation to fix the stubborn "Country of Origin" labeling problem in the US.

Budget cuts closing International Trade offices, including all those in Saskatchewan, will not be helpful.

We discussed the need for larger federal investments in beef-related research, and noted the industry has increased its own contributions to research by 150-percent. Forages and meat science are two areas needing strong attention.

Labour shortages is another concern.  Beef producers need a more effective way to access Temporary Foreign Workers with the skills and aptitude for challenging work in rural Canada.

Again, budget cuts closing Citizenship & Immigration offices, including all those in Saskatchewan, will not be helpful.

Neither is it a good idea to shut-down PFRA Community Pastures. They provide vital grazing capacity that must stay in grazing, be properly managed and remain accessible on a fair and reasonable basis. None of this is accomplished by federal budget cutting.

Another nasty cut affects food inspection, especially the closure of the CFIA office in Moose Jaw -- the most important one for the beef industry. This will make getting timely signatures on export documents very problematic.

Finally, we discussed the ongoing need for a national "price and basis" insurance program for cattle producers. I have long supported this concept, but in its "austerity budget" the federal government has left little room for constructive new ideas.

Ryan and Ryan did a great job of presenting the SCA's positions. The Government of Canada should be listening!

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Whip It

Bob - and any future leadership hopefuls - there are just times you need to whip it... The vote, that is...

#cdnpoli #whipit

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, April 19, 2012

WesternGrit Decision Desk...

The WG Decision Desk is calling BC NDP victories in both Prov Bye Elections tonight!

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy Vaisakhi

Happy Vaisakhi to everyone!

Great Parade in Vancouver - close to 100000 people out for it today. Ralph Goodale is one of the speakers... Along with Hedy Fry, Joyce Murray, and Christy.

Drop in and say hi to the YLC BC crew, enjoy some free pizza, samosas, and other snacks!

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Goodale: 3 Issues With Legs

Another astute observation by Ralph...

April 9th, 2012


The House of Commons is not sitting this week or next. The Harper government is hoping Canadians have short memories, so all the damaging turmoil of the last few weeks can be forgotten.

But that’s not likely, because at least three outstanding issues are profoundly serious:

• a massive on-going investigation into election fraud involving elaborate telephone-calling scams (robo-calls), designed to confuse voters and keep them from the polls last May;

• a mean-spirited federal Budget that slashes up to $30,000 from the retirement incomes of those modest-income Canadians who are now under the age of 54; and

• an Auditor-General’s report about stunning incompetence and dishonesty in the bungled attempt to purchase F-35 fighter-jets, including feeding disinformation to Parliament to the tune of $10-billion.

Unlike other Harper wrong-doing, these issues have grabbed public attention. Walking down the street, waiting in the airport, working out at the gym – I find a lot of people spontaneously asking “what’s going on?”

The election fraud issue “has legs” because a scheme to interfere with voting rights is a direct attack on individual Canadians. It’s personal, unlike the previous Conservative “In-&-Out” financing scam which seemed more like an offence against another political party. (An offence, incidentally, for which the Conservative Party was charged and convicted.)

The attack on old-age security “has legs” because it’s a future threat. It dangles over the necks of everyone who’s 54 years of age or younger. It’s a broken promise. It’s totally unnecessary. It won’t reduce overall public spending. It’s primarily an assault on the poor. And it will be a “ballot question” in the next election.

The F-35 fiasco “has legs” because of the money at stake (more than $30-billion all-in) and because the revelations of wrong-doing come from Mr. Harper’s new hand-picked Auditor-General. It destroys Conservative claims of being competent managers, and exposes flagrant dishonesty.

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, March 24, 2012

NDP Leadership: So far, I've been right on

Well, well, well... I did pick 'em... It gets a little squirrelly from here.... Who will everyone slide over to? Almost seems people are scared of pissing off Mulcair...

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Which NDP Leadership Hopeful Would Be Best For LPC?

As a true, born-and-raised Liberal, I won't be "endorsing" any NDP leadership hopeful in this weekends little convention in Toronto... While the NDP are progressives, they - like the Conservatives - have a bit too much of the fringe in their midst - the far left in this case. While the far left is far more palatable than the far right, they are still an extreme of the type that pushes people like us to moderate political movements - like the LPC.

I guess what NDP leader is best for the LPC is best defined by what said leader "would do to" the LPC. We all know that Stephen Harper wished to destroy every last vestige of the LPC, like some megalomaniacal quasi-dictator (and the best thing we can do to thwart him is to "JUST BE"). The NDP of recent times seems to have been walking in "lock-step" with their right wing cousins (makes me feel like Poland sometimes). While they don't appear to be as angry and aggressive as the Cons (some have even called us "cousins" recently), they seem to want the unpalatable, hyper-partisan, anti-democratic political farce that takes place in the US on a regular basis...

Which NDP relative-unknown will be best for the LPC, then?

Well, let's just consider the top 3 contenders:

Thomas Mulcair: Tommy is a bit of an enigma... (to say the least). He has po'd Quebec Liberals as he leaped to the Federal NDP, while he became the darling of his new party by finally "cracking" a seat for the Orange crowd a couple elections ago. Many in the NDP, however, do not trust Mulcair. "Why is he in the NDP? He almost appears to be a centrist." He doesn't appear to be supported by much of the traditional labor core of the NDP... but may have a bit of a machine from Quebec - along with some South Asian delegates delivered en masse.

A Mulcair victory could mean a very crowded group of Quebec-based federal party leaders - if the LPC follows in the unwritten tradition of selecting a Quebecer in 2013. He could split the federalist support in Quebec, between Liberals and NDP. The Cons should be a non-factor by then - but may act as spoilers in some seats.

Mulcair's image outside of Quebec would not hold him in good stead with other Dippers... but then, many political leaders are not necessarily liked by their party's apparatchiks. Would he be able to get organized labor to support him into a battle if he is perceived as no different than the LPC? If organized Labor stays home, who will pull votes in Ontario and the ROC? Federal employees - and particularly recently-laid-off ones - would flock to the LPC. Many Provincial health unions could be persuaded to support Liberal initiatives in the healthcare area.

Would Mulcair pose a threat to the LPC? Sure - particularly if the MSM paints him as a "liberal"... and no different than LPC Leader "X". It could further split the center of the political spectrum, and really cause issues in a lot of our ridings. Of course, with declining voter turnout (what, with things like voter suppression going on, and all...), he'd need big labor to turn out in numbers to "pull" that new support.

What is likely with Mulcair? A more RABID NDP attack on Harper, and a wearing down of the government by a very aggressive charge. A polarizing of their caucus - deep divides forming - and perhaps a loss of supporters, who would likely just stay home (like many conservatives during the latter Mulroney/Campbell years).

Brian Topp. Topp was considered the front-runner when this show got on the road many months ago. A big part of that was being the first one to throw in his hat. Relatively unknown outside of his party, he is well-respected within the party - and has a lot of caucus support. A former backroom hero, he isn't a retail politician, and really shouldn't be posing as one. While Harper too was a "policy wonk", Topp winning could mean real trouble for a party trying to define itself, and "get over the top" into government. While he could deliver the party machine, he would likely not excite voters... His party would spend all it's time having to carry Topp - a stark contrast to Layton carrying the NDP for so many years.

What would a Topp leadership mean for the Liberals? Well... lets just say Liberals should be praying for Topp to be left standing on Saturday night. Backroom maneuvering - and all the caucus support - would certainly be instrumental in making that happen. The NDP is not ready to have to carry another leader through a campaign... After years of Layton carrying them. Under Topp, the NDP would shrink back to a party of unions and the far left...

Nathan Cullen. Mr. "Dark Horse". He certainly has the "special interest group support" with Avaaz.org and "LeadNow" supporting him. He provides a clear alternative to the rest of the NDP gang - as far as presenting a formula for "winning" goes - and it doesn't just revolve around holding Quebec (which won't happen). Cullen seems to have the most diverse appeal. He also is the candidate most open to "cooperating" with the LPC -ergo the one most dedicated to defeating Harper.

How would Cullen affect the LPC? Well, if elected leader, he could return us to (at least partial) power sooner than we are planning on... As part of a potential coalition government. I'm not so sure, however, that most Liberals would be ready for that (even IF we want it). Not sure we'd want to do that before properly rebuilding our party. This blogger would certainly support "cooperation" to defeat Harper and his group of AngerCons... However, this blogger would have also worked with progressive conservatives - like Joe Clark - to make a better Canada too.

The LPC could help Cullen defeat the Cons, but in playing "second-fiddle" could also forever be related to 3rd party status. Cullen would, however, bring progressive politics back to the forefront of the Canadian public discussion. An LPC-NDP coalition would also be able to enact a lot of laws that could prevent a Harper from happening again... or at least work hard to ensure the social safety net and caring nation Canadians had grown to respect and take pride in.

We need to remember that politics works in cycles, and Harper will soon be 10 long years into his cycle. Voters tire... and 2015 will see some signs of this. Harper is not likely to strengthen his majority... and may drop into minority status. His infatuation with the LPC (sort of like a wounded dictator trying hard to defeat communists in his last days) keeps him from seeing his real enemy - the NDP - which has recently tied his party in the polls.

Expect the NDP, and a resurgent LPC (with a truly "new" leader), to take the battle to the Cons over the next 3 years. Majority governments have ways to make opposition parties look good. We are there to oppose - not just to "work together" for Canadians. There will be a lot of "opposing" going on in the next little while. Harper's small majority is clearly not ready for this. And the NDP think they've arrived. They will start focusing more on Harper - to our benefit.

The best NDP leader - for the LPC - will be that leader which takes the battle to the Cons in full relentless force. This will also allow the LPC to regroup, find our leader, and carry on.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

New Ads Try To Distract From ConCall Potential Fraud?

Interesting that the ruling majority junta would run character assassination ads against the leader of the 3rd Party.


They may be trying to turn the channel on the massive potential election fraud scandal facing them...

They may be so worried about Rae that they attack him even if he won't be leader, or has promised not to...

Or... They are simply so full of seething hatred (and concurrently, FEAR) of the LPC, that they need to lash out at this "enemy" like they do at all others?

I think it is part of a "praise our lilly-white leader" build up of Harper, so he looks less evil in the face of the mounting calls for public enquiries into possible election fraud. Come out swinging... Make your guy look the better alternative... You know the NDP is likely headed downwards (at least that's the MSM take), so the LPC will be the likely main threat... Attack, attack, attack!

Feed the mob... Public executions, of necessary... That is the Reform-a-Tory way!

Signs of desperation...

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Justin's Comments Were Justified...

First off, let's get one thing clear: One would be crazy to think Justin meant what he didn't really even say the other day. I mean, who in their right mind would believe the opponents' claim that the hyper-patriotic Justin - growing up at 24 Sussex, whose father GAVE this country it's Charter of Rights, and who wept as he brilliantly eulogized his late father... WHAT sane person could possibly insinuate Trudeau was saying that he "wanted Quebec to separate"?
The FACT is that Justin - like many of us - is fed up with the knuckle-dragging policy created by this "government of stupid". They have NO social conscience - and in a Province where that is paramount, many, many are just as angry. He clearly indicated that it would take this bill and roughly "10,000 other things" that are part of the Harper agenda to make him that disconcerted - but also pretty much indicated, in stating this, that he would not consider it.
Another FACT that many don't want to discuss just yet... but is coming: Stephen Harper and most of his Western Reform Caucus talked about "Firewalls" and wanting an autonomous Alberta at the height of the Chretien years. Anybody in the group of critics probably didn't want to open THAT can of worms... but, believe me, it is open. The Reform/Conservative Western core caucus has a lot of former Western Separatists in it... Remember the old WCC Party (Western Canada Concept)? Guess who supported and funded them?
Firewall Harper is going to be discussed now - BECAUSE, Harper (if he wasn't serious) was simply expressing his anger at the Chretien Liberals not having policy that reflected the positions his rural Alberta voter base espoused. If we're going to discuss Justin's remarks, then Firewall Steve is also fair game.
Let's add one more point here: Justin's comments will stand him in good stead in his riding, and in Quebec, because he has clearly tied himself to the anger seething throughout Quebec against the Harper agenda. He has also done the Liberal Party a huge favor. Standing up and saying it like it is. Not a bad idea. His love - our love - for Canada is the driving factor behind these remarks. I think Quebecers will understand Justin's venting - and moxie - and quietly understand that "Les Rouges" stand shoulder to shoulder with them on matters of most all public policy.
Rogue MP? Doubt it... Justin walks proudly in his father's footsteps. He showed the cajones his father had, and stood up for socially conscious Canadians everywhere. P. E. T. was not some crusty old politico smoothed over by "political correctness" or held back by "poll numbers".... he had moxie and sharply criticized his detractors. Justin showed he has that hin him this past week. For that, we all thank him.
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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Parliamentary Budget Officer Slams Harper Government on Pension Changes

Stephen Harper's very own appointed Parliamentary Budget officer is presenting a roadblock to Harper's wish to have his way with the pensions owed to Canada's millions of seniors. Here is more detail from the Goodale Weekly update:


Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer (a person hand-picked by Stephen Harper himself) today lined-up with many other respected experts to say Canada’s Old Age Security program is fundamentally sustainable, and does NOT require the cutbacks Mr. Harper is threatening.

Those threats began in a speech the Prime Minister gave last month in Switzerland. He has since confirmed he wants to hike the eligibility age for Old Age pensions from 65 to 67.

Mr. Harper claims Canada can’t afford these pensions anymore. But he’s wrong – experts for the University of Calgary, York University, UBC, the OECD, private sector firms, the government itself, and now the PBO – are all basically saying: “It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it!”

This controversy starkly exposes this government’s priorities. They pump billions into bigger jails and costly fighter-jets, but they cut back on pensions and healthcare.

They preserve the most expensive tax preferences for the wealthy, but they chop the modest benefits of the most vulnerable. The Old Age pension pays just $540/month. Three-quarters of those receiving it live on less than $40,000/year. Without it, one-third of seniors could fall below the poverty line.

Delaying the pension doesn’t miraculously make the human needs go away. Neither does it save much money. It just dumps the financial burden onto provincial welfare. And ultimately, there’s only one taxpayer.

This past weekend, Mr. Harper came up with a new excuse for chopping pensions – he wants older people to work longer, whether they’re physically up to it, or not.

Not only is this mean-spirited; it’s also an admission of failure in labour markets.

Yes, we need a growing workforce. But Mr. Harper’s dragooning of older people to fill the gaps – even against their will – assumes only the most mediocre gains from immigration and abject failure in preparing young Aboriginals to succeed in the mainstream of Canada’s economy.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

"Firewall" Harper's Firesale Continues...

After obliterating Canada's fiscal safety nets (multi year surpluses), Harper has set his aim at destroying Canada's environment, our First Nations, and now Healthcare. Read more in Ralph Goodale's weekly newsletter:


When he first came to power in 2006, Stephen Harper inherited a decade of surplus budgets, declining debt, declining taxes, and federal financial flexibility of $100 billion over five years.

It was an enviable position. The best in the western world.

Embedded in the fiscal framework was sufficient funding to implement the ground-breaking Kelowna Accord for Aboriginal people, achieve 80% of Canada’s international obligations on Climate Change, and launch a decade of rejuvenation in healthcare.

The Conservatives immediately cancelled work on Aboriginal issues and Climate Change. Consequently, Canada has become a global embarrassment on the environment, and we’ve spiraled downward from high Aboriginal hopes in Kelowna to the tragedy in Attawapiskat.

Most recently, healthcare too has been thrown under the bus.

Just before Christmas, Mr. Harper announced a new funding formula. Arbitrary. Unilateral. Non-negotiable. He’ll keep commitments Liberals put in place for three further years, but then cut back.

It’s dictatorial federalism, by brute force.

A couple of Premiers, like Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall, were hoping certain things could still be discussed with the feds – like healthcare innovation. But just before the Premiers met last week in Victoria, Mr. Harper bluntly told them all to get stuffed.

The biggest problem is not his typical crudeness, or even the short-term money he put on the table. The biggest problem – and danger – is Mr. Harper’s ruthless abandonment of any creative federal role to help make medicare better.

He says that’s exclusively a provincial problem. All the feds should do, according to him, is write a cheque – one, incidentally, that represents a steadily declining share of healthcare costs – and that’s it. Don’t even discuss anything substantive.

This attitude is absolutely guaranteed to fragment and balkanize Canadian medicare, creating a patchwork among provinces, and leaving many Canadians vulnerable.

In Stephen Harper’s Canada, it’s more important to spend billions on bigger jails.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

No Endorsements

WG will not be endorsing any candidates this Convention. I simply ask all delegates to think over your choices well. Select the most capable people for the roles. We have a long road ahead, and need the best of the best... The most experienced, best equipped candidates to lead us out of the wilderness. We all love our friends, or the "local guy/girl", but let's please ensure we think of the party when we cast our ballots Saturday.

As a lifelong,active Liberal of 25+ years, I implore everyone to get to know all the candidates, and their strengths. Choose wisely!

Enjoy a great weekend. I look forward to seeing everyone Saturday and Sunday!

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, January 07, 2012

GritWear For The Convention

Here they are!

All the latest styles, just in time for the Convention! Rock the coolest Trudeau T's!

Show everyone how proud YOU are to be a Liberal!

***Note: Designs are not sanctioned by the LPC... Any semblance to person's living, or otherwise, are strictly coincidental and purely fictional.

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Liberals Moment Coming...

A dyed-in-the-wool Liberal, Ralph Goodale has a good assessment of the future of the Liberal Party:


Looking back, politically, Liberals will likely remember 2011 as an “annus horribilis” (to quote the Queen), but our focus must be forward – on 2012 and beyond.

Right after the May 2nd election, the Party was naturally flummoxed. But with time and thought, perspective was regained.

We looked hard at the numbers. They weren’t flattering, but they did NOT constitute some great “Conservative conversion”. Barely 60% of eligible voters actually made it to the polls, and only 40% voted Conservative. So the government’s so-called “big mandate” represents just 24% of the total electorate.

Furthermore, the outcome was heavily influenced by two unusual factors that are unlikely to recur – the extraordinary surge for Jack Layton in Quebec, and the reaction to that surge (both for and against) in Ontario that produced many odd vote splits.

So the arithmetic doesn’t preclude a Liberal revival. But recovery won’t come from wishful thinking. We need to work harder and with more imagination than ever before.

That effort is underway. Memberships and fundraising are both up. A national convention in mid-January will continue structural renewal.

In Parliament, Liberal leader Bob Rae outshines all the rest. Our Caucus is smaller, but it’s experienced and cohesive, with a constructive attitude. The election was what it was. We’ve taken its lessons to heart. Now, we need to look ahead with goodwill, good humour and good ideas, to re-earn the public’s trust.

There’s both “room” and “need” for an attractive alternative to the harsh two-way polarization advocated by both Mr. Harper and the NDP.

This country is too complex, nuanced and decent to be content for long with the wedge politics of fear, greed, envy and anger – politics designed to drive people apart.

Canadians will look for leadership that can rise above such mediocrity, inspire confidence, and pull people together to reach higher goals.

Liberals need to be ready.

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