Thursday, May 31, 2012 

How Canada Could / Should Disentangle Itself From Its Idiotic Attachment To The British Monarch

(The future Canadian Monarch - King Charles III - ..... no thanks ....)

"A three-step process should be considered. First, Ottawa should hold a national referendum on a Yes-or-No question: “Should Canada sever ties with the British monarchy?” A simple majority would be sufficient to proceed further. Second, if the answer is yes, a federal commission (please don’t call it a “royal commission”) should examine how we could select a head of state. 

The commission, with a one-year mandate, could be appointed jointly by the prime minister and provincial premiers. The commission could look at various models for choosing a head of state, such as direct election or appointment by the federal Parliament. Third, a second referendum would be held on the commission’s top two recommended methods of choosing the next head of state. 

The entire process, including the formality of each province agreeing to the necessary constitutional amendments, should take just two years. Once completed, Ottawa could delay any formal severing of ties until the Queen died. That would show respect for the Queen, who has served us graciously — and save us from scraping and bowing to the next King of Canada.  
The Star

 I was raised in a strong Republican home. I come by it honestly as my family is from the Republic of Ireland.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 

"The Log Drivers Waltz" .... National Film Board Of Canada

Saturday, May 26, 2012 

When Jason Kenney Tells Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall To ‘Jump" - The Only Question Is ‘How High?'

There was a cabinet shuffle in Saskatchewan yesterday. One of the ministers who lost their cabinet spot was Rob Norris. Mr. Norris has been yanked from Wall's Cabinet because Jason Kenney is NOT happy with the former provincial immigration minister!  

"At a private by-invitation-only meeting in Saskatoon last week between Kenney and business types, the federal minister was even more blunt. One meeting participant said Kenney "threw Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris under the bus", telling the business people that the provincial policy was "unacceptable."
Regina Leader-Post  

You see, in Brad Wall's 'Saskatchewan' ... when Harper and the Federal Conservatives growl, our Saskatchewan Party government quivers and trembles in fear. 

Welcome to Saskatchewan .. 2012.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 

How Stephen Harper And The Conservatives Led Canada To Military Defeat In Afghanistan ....

OTTAWA—When he assumed power six years ago, Stephen Harper let it be known he would brook no opposition from the naysayers on Afghanistan. “There may be some who may want to cut and run.’’ he said during his first visit to Canadian troops. “But cutting and running is not your way, it’s not my way and it’s not the Canadian way.’’ He would stand by the military mission there even if it cost him an election, he said, months after winning his first minority. Over the weekend in Chicago, the Harper view on Afghanistan had become “no.
Toronto Star  

Think back to the false bravado of 2006 when Conservatives and some Right wing Liberals unleashed the 'dogs of war' and puffed themselves up with militaristic rhetoric. "To War"! 

Canadians were going to defeat the Taliban in a few short weeks and liberate the Afghan people! 

New Democrat Leader, Jack Layton, was labelled as 'Taliban Jack' for suggesting that we enter into diplomatic discussions with the Taliban before we resort to war. Harper and the Canadian Right said 'NO" and anyone who stood against the war was traitorous to the Dominion and did not 'support the troops'! 

And now? 

Well ... we have 158 dead Canadian soldiers ... we've spent $10 Billion tax dollars on an unwinable conflict .... we've contributed to the absolute misery of the Afghan people .... we have hundreds of emotionally damaged soldiers coming home .... and all this for what? Stephen Harper's ego? 

The War in Afghanistan was doomed from the very beginning. Some progressives tried to warn the nation. Did the nation listen??? 

Progressives asked why we were not trying to communicate with the Taliban back in 2006 ... to find a way for them to function in the company of their fellow nations? No! George Bush and Stephen Harper WANTED war! Case closed ... no discussion!

(Buckdog on Canada's wasted efforts in Afghanistan ... over the years!)

-March 05, 2006 - Did We Not Learn Anything From the Vietnam Experience? 

 -October 01, 2006 - POLL Canadians Consider Afghanistan Lost Cause  

-November 25, 2006 - 'NATO Could Fail in Afghanistan' Says Top General  

-August 10, 2007 - Lies The Canadian Military Tells About Afghanistan  

-March 05, 2008 - I Wonder If Some Day I Will Write A Post With The Title: 'Did We NOT Learn Anything From The Afghanistan Experience?"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 

Duel of the Saskatchewan Expatriates: Economist Erin Weir (Yeah!) And Unelected Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin (Boo!)

Last week, Erin Weir had the following 'letter to the editor' published in the Globe & Mail:  

Oil sands royalties 
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ most recent Statistical Handbook indicates that, in 2010, this industry sold $101-billion of oil and gas but paid only $12-billion in resource royalties. Even Senator Pamela Wallin’s higher figure of $22- billion (Oil Sands’ Benefits – letter, May 12), which also includes general taxes applicable to all industries, amounts to only one-fifth of the resource value extracted by oil and gas companies. 

Foreign investors eager to profit from this giveaway of public resources have been buying equity in Canada’s resource sector, which bids up the exchange rate to the detriment of manufacturing and other Canadian-based exporters. Rather than attacking NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Western premiers should raise resource royalties. In addition to collecting needed revenue, that would temper the inflow of foreign funds and help moderate the exchange rate to more competitive levels."
Erin Weir
Economist - United Steelworkers

Today, Wallin and Weir kicked off The Bill Good Show’s second hour. Audio HERE

This post originally appeared on the Progressive Economic Forum site.

Monday, May 21, 2012 

Tories train their intellectual big guns on Tom Mulcair: if Rex Murphy fails, there's always Don Cherry!

"BRIEFING NOTE: Respond to criticism about economic impact of high-Loonie, everything-for-petrochemical-industry policy by making voters see Thomas Mulcair as recklessly un-Canadian…" 

This isn't an actual quote from the Tories' current list of talking points, but it seems to be what the Strategic Heavy Lifters in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative brain trust have in mind for their main attack on the leader of the NDP Opposition. Expect them to trot out that French passport momentarily. They promised us the Mother of All Battles, and the best they can come up with before Harper's Republican Guards bug off to the dusty hills of Alberta is to call the NDP leader un-Canadian? 


Oh, I know, I'm being hyperbolic. I admit it. It'll be a long road before Mulcair and the NDP form the government of Canada, and the possibility's quite high the old slime-hurlers of Harper’s Tea Party of Canada will come up with something more effective than this kind of fake patriotism, the last refuge of the modern neo-Con petro-scoundrel. So I guess we shouldn't start measuring the orange shag carpet for the prime ministerial residence on Sussex Drive just yet. 

But, really people, does Harper seriously think getting his party’s Media Auxiliary over at the National Pest to assign Rex Murphy the job of calling Mulcair "recklessly un-Canadian" is a strategy? Rex Murphy? And for what does the thankfully inimitable Murphy level this charge of un-Canadianism? Because Mulcair called three of the four western premiers "Harper's Messengers"! 

For lack of a more suitable phrase usable in the public prints: Take off! Surely this is unworthy of a mighty "public intellectual" like Murphy. They must be holding back the really big guns for when things get truly desperate … you know, like Don Cherry! Murphy's screed is a laugh a minute, like the bit about how "it's taken more than a couple of decades to exorcise the demon of the NEP from Western memories -- particularly Albertan ones…" 

Excuse me, but we've heard about nothing but the alleged depredations of the National Energy Program here in Alberta pretty much every day for the past 32 years. ("The NEP destroyed Alberta! Would you like fries with that, sir?") Some exorcism! Murphy also descends into the fuzzy arithmetic typical of his so-called conservative ilk since really only three of the four Western premiers have had anything to say on this topic, and the one from British Columbia is being pretty mild and cautious for obvious reasons. You know, like the well-known Mulcair-style predilections of a majority of B.C. voters, who may well have concluded they have nothing whatsoever to gain from Alberta bitumen being pumped through their forests to the ocean but oil dumps, oil spills, dead fish, dead animals, pissed off environmentalists, angry First Nations, litigation, cancer, high security costs, terrorism risks, lawsuits and the ruination of a few more local small export businesses. Did I miss anything?

 Perhaps Harper and Alberta Premier Alison Redford could explain the advantage of this to British Columbians again. A couple of dozen maintenance jobs and a boost for the private security industry? Or what? But, hey, half a loaf is better than none -- especially when you’re apparently just trying to stick as close as possible to the PMO's talking points. And Murphy's effort truly outshone the line of Zs thrown up by the Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Simpson, who worked himself into what passes for a swivet at 444 Front Street, calling Mulcair's commentary … "political nonsense." Whew! 

With stirring headlines like "Mulcair should drop the 'Dutch Disease' rhetoric," the Globe had better be careful it doesn't provoke rioting in the streets of Calgary! 

Meanwhile, out here in the west, the Conservative echo chamber is really testing our arithmetical skills: Friday's edition of the Edmonton Journal includes a story under a headline that reads: "Alberta exporters don't buy Mulcair's loonie concerns." ("Loonie concerns" … Geddit?) 

The story quotes five business people, all of whom are … uh … concerned about the strong petro-Loonie. Representative quote: Edmonton frozen-Indian-dinner exporter Noorudin Jiwani "acknowledged that a strong Canadian dollar makes exporting more difficult, but he said he realizes that oilsands companies dwarf his firm, which employs about 70 people. 'The Canadian dollar is too strong for us,' he said. 'I would like that not to happen, but then I’m a small potato.'" (Emphasis added.) Got that? 

I’m sure they're slapping themselves on the back at the PMO. "Great media coverage, chief!" … if you don’t bother to read the story. And it's all just so divisive, our Pecksniffian Conservative MPs keep sniveling -- this from a group of people who repeatedly told tout le monde Quebec to bug right off on the topic of the long-gun registry, and who indeed continue to do so, the better to play wedge politics in the last federal election and the next one. 

Oh well, like the big lie about how it was Pierre Trudeau’s energy policy and not world petroleum prices that caused Alberta's one-dimensional economy to fall on its keester in 1980, a certain number of people will eventually start to believe anything if you repeat it often enough. 

Meanwhile, Harper's semi-official Conservative Party newspaper and the state broadcaster over at Sun Media keep telling us Mulcair is not only a suitable candidate to be hauled before the House Un-Canadian Activities Committee (HUCAC) but he's a firebrand, a hothead and a perpetually angry guy. But constant repetition of this meme doesn't actually change the fact that Mulcair is probably just as coldly calculating as our divisive and un-Canadian prime minister. 

For this reason, western Canada's current crop of parochial Conservative leaders -- and that includes the sanctimonious Harper -- really ought to think carefully about how their hysterical McCarthyism is going to go over in what they privately think of as the cheap seats of Confederation. 

As Norman Spector -- the "steely political insider" who was once chief of staff to prime minister Brian Mulroney and holder of several other illustrious positions, and who is now one of Canada's Top Tweeters -- shrewdly observed last month in the Vancouver Sun: "To prevent Harper from forming another majority government, Mulcair must break the coalition between Ontario and the West that the Conservatives fashioned in May 2011. To become prime minister, Mulcair must create a coalition of his own. … "He will invite Quebecers to join with 'progressives' across Canada to help replace the Conservative government they have come to revile. And he will focus on re-creating the coalition with Ontario that has governed Canada for most of our history, while not giving up on the prospect of winning more seats in B.C. and Manitoba." 

Note which western provinces are not on the old civil-service slasher's list -- the ones that benefit most from the conditions that are causing our national outbreak of Dutch Disease and which are currently led by petrocrats hostile both to increased Canadian control of the oil patch and to policies that would help restore the country's manufacturing sector to health. 

We can expect to hear a lot more of this divisiveness codswollop about Mulcair over the next couple of years unless Harper's advisors manage to come up with something more effective. But if that's all the Harperites can think of, they'd best phone their Republican mentors south of the Medicine Line right quickly! Maybe those guys can send out a Tweet demanding to see Mulcair's birth certificate or dress up like Paul Revere and light lanterns to warn us Albertans, "One if by land, two if by … uh, land." Either that or just hand over the keys to 24 Sussex while they’re still in possession of some tattered remnants of their dignity.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary."

Friday, May 18, 2012 

Harper's Conservative Government Funded Study Arguing Canada Suffers From 'Dutch Disease'


OTTAWA - The Harper government has funded research that argues Canada's economy suffers from so-called Dutch Disease, an economic theory the prime minister and other senior officials ridiculed when raised recently by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. 

Industry Canada paid $25,000 to three academics to produce the lengthy study, which is about to be published in a prestigious journal, Resource and Energy Economics. The department also helped the trio build a database so they could investigate Dutch Disease, the theory that a resource boom that drives up the value of a country's currency can damage the manufacturing sector. 

The paper, "Does the Canadian Economy Suffer from Dutch Disease?," concludes that a third or more of job losses in Canada's manufacturing sector can be attributed to resource-driven currency appreciation. "We show that between 33 and 39 per cent of the manufacturing employment loss that was due to exchange rate developments between 2002 and 2007 is related to the Dutch Disease phenomenon," says the study. 

 The research, more than 18 months in the making, was carried out in part by Serge Coulombe, an economics professor at the University of Ottawa, who says Industry Canada was highly supportive of his work. "At the time, they were interested in knowing about the issue," he said Friday in an interview, noting the final paper was subject to a "very deep external refereeing process." "This paper has been presented at Industry Canada ... and they have helped us assemble the database." The contract to produce the Dutch Disease paper ran from 2008 to 2009, and allowed the three authors to publish the work rather than have it remain internal to Industry Canada, which Coulombe said would have raised questions about its neutrality. 

A spokeswoman for Industry Minister Christian Paradis said the study does not reflect the views of the Harper government. "Unlike Mr. Mulcair, our government believes resource development is an important component of the economy and creates hundreds of thousands of direct, indirect and induced jobs, as well as contributing heavily to equalization payments," Margaux Stastny said in an email. "Mr. Mulcair's politics of division, pitting one region of the country against others, and his ill-informed remarks show that his foolish economic policy will raise prices and cost Canadian jobs." Coulombe is well-known at Industry Canada, where he was paid as a senior research adviser to the department's chief economist between 2005 and 2008. He has also been given more than 20 research contracts on economic issues by federal departments, including the Finance Department, the Bank of Canada, Statistics Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development. 

The Harper government has vilified Mulcair for suggesting the Alberta oilsands have given Canada a case of Dutch Disease. Cabinet ministers have accused the NDP leader of pitting region against region and insulting hard-working workers in the resource sector. The issue was repeatedly raised Friday in the House of Commons, where Tory House leader Peter Van Loan and MP Kellie Leitch, parliamentary secretary to the minister of human resources, both took jabs. "Let us talk about issues of disparaging people," Leitch said in response to a question about employment insurance. "The leader of the Opposition wants to call Canadian employers a disease." Mulcair has said oilsands development is being carried out without properly accounting for the cost of its environment impact. 

His comments have triggered the ire of Western premiers, including Alberta Premier Alison Redford. Alberta's NDP leader, Brian Mason, said Friday that Mulcair will travel to Edmonton at the end of the month for meetings with political and business leaders. There is no consensus among economists about whether Canada suffers from Dutch Disease. A report this week from the Institute for Research on Public Policy suggested Canada's strong dollar has hurt 25 per cent of total factory output, mostly in small, labour-intensive industries such as textiles and apparel. Attempting to debunk the notion that an increased reliance on oil exports is hollowing out Central Canada's manufacturing base, the report concluded that cyclical factors and global competition are mostly to blame for the decline in factory production in Canada over the last decade."
Winnipeg Free Press

Thursday, May 17, 2012 

NO SEX PLEASE! We're Conservatives!!!

"Heritage Minister James Moore said during question period Thursday that he was invited to view the exhibit and expressed his concerns. "I respect the independence of the museum, but they asked me my opinion, and in my opinion it's not appropriate for young underage children to be exposed to sexually explicit material without the consent of their parents," said Moore. "I've made my views known, it's up to the museum to decide now where they go," said Moore. Moore's spokesman, James Maunder, had earlier said the purpose of the Museum of Science and Technology is to foster scientific and technological literacy."


Mr. Harper Accused Mr. Mulcair Of Calling The Oil Sands Industry A “disease” - Mr. Harper Is a Freaking Idiot!

"The leader of the NDP and ourselves are really on different wavelengths here.We’re not interested in identifying which industries we’re going to call diseases and shut down.” 
 Prime Minister Stephen Harper 
May 16,2012  

No one called any industry a 'disease'. The Federal NDP Leader referenced something that is well established in economic theory. Mr. Harper is playing 'silly buggers' once again. Canadians are getting more and more frustrated with the communications dishonesty that the Federal Conservatives employ. A 'disease' ... what a freaking moron our dishonest Prime Minister is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 

Turning Harper's Canada Into An Authoritarian State - 'Practice Makes Perfect'

TORONTO — Police violated civil rights, detained people illegally, and used excessive force during the G20 summit two years ago, a new report concludes. 

The report by Ontario’s independent police watchdog also blasts the temporary detention centre that Toronto police set up for its poor planning, design and operation that saw people detained illegally. The Office of the Independent Police Review Director found police breached several constitutional rights during the tumultuous event, in which more than 1,100 people were arrested, most to be released without charge. “Some police officers ignored basic rights citizens have under the Charter and overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people arbitrarily and without legal justification,” the report states. “Numerous police officers used excessive force when arresting individuals and seemed to send a message that violence would be met with violence,” the report states. “The reaction created a cycle of escalating responses from both sides.” 

The report takes aim at police tactics at the provincial legislature, which had been set up in advance as a protest zone. It says the force used for crowd control and in making arrests was “in some cases excessive.” “It is fair to say the level of force used in controlling the crowds and making arrests at Queen’s Park was higher than anything the general public had witnessed before in Toronto.” It also concludes mass arrests outside a downtown hotel were “unlawful,” and a dawn raid and arrest of people at a university residence was done without the required warrants. The office, under director Gerry McNeilly, slams police for “kettling” scores of people — many passersby — at a downtown intersection for several hours in a severe thunderstorm, calling it “unreasonable, unnecessary and unlawful.” 

Even officers in place thought the situation untenable, with one describing the incident commander as “maniacal,” the report says. “Where are they going to give them a chance to disperse?” one officer asked. “They aren’t, that’s the problem,” another replied. “Well, that’s stupid.” In regard to the temporary detention centre, the report criticizes senior officers for failing to take adequate steps to address problems. Among complaints were overcrowding, lack of food and water or access to lawyers, the use of flex cuffs and strip searches. Detainees had to use toilets in full view of others and many were held illegally. National Post


If We Close The Drapes And Don't Answer The Door ... Do You Think They'll Take The Hint And Go Home?

Once again, Canadians have to tolerate AND pay for another pointless, idiotic visit by members of the British Royal family. (Sigh) Pity! 

You can bet that Stephen Harper will almost be peeing his pants with excitement! I mean, hey ... it's the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Coronation of England's Queen Elizabeth II. 

Tories love this kind of nonsense. Average Canadians, on the other hand, will politely endure these archaic, pointless British events - which have NO real meaning for our country.

Monday, May 14, 2012 

Going To The 'Wall' For Thomas Mulcair - Erin Weir

Royalty hike cure for Dutch disease 

Premier Brad Wall calls federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair “very, very divisive” for expressing concern that Canada’s overvalued petro-dollar is eliminating manufacturing jobs.

In reality, Wall is being divisive by exploiting this legitimate concern to fan the flames of western alienation. Saskatchewan and other provinces would benefit by collecting more revenue from non-renewable resources, as suggested by Mulcair.

Wall and others are correct that the exchange rate is not the only factor reducing manufacturing employment. However, as noted by The SP’s May 9 editorial and Les MacPherson’s May 10 column, economic analyses from universities, banks and international organizations indicate that “Dutch disease” caused much of the particularly sharp decline in Canadian manufacturing employment over the past decade. Much like the Netherlands in the 1960s, Canada’s currency has surged due to a fossil fuel boom. Between 2002 and 2011, the loonie’s average exchange rate skyrocketed to 101 American cents from 64 cents.

But while Canadian-based exporters are consequently receiving much less for their output, they are paying the same amount for their inputs. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development calculates that, in both 2002 and 2011, the loonie’s purchasing power in Canada (including imported products) equalled 81 American cents in the U.S.

Saskatchewan has itself suffered from this Dutch disease. Statistics Canada reports that, since Wall took office in November 2007, manufacturing employment has declined by 14 per cent in this province, compared to 12 per cent nationally.

Specifically, Saskatchewan lost 4,600 manufacturing jobs, including the closure of sawmills and pulp mills harmed by the overvalued exchange rate. Other provinces lost a further 231,300 manufacturing jobs during the same period.

MacPherson is correct that judicious saving and investment of resource income could alleviate upward pressure on our currency. However, provincial governments must collect the income before they can save or invest it.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources’ most recent annual report indicates that it collected only $2.2 billion of revenue from $17.6 billion of non-renewable resource sales in 2010. Such low royalties allow private companies to reap super-profits by extracting publicly-owned resources.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ most recent Statistical Handbook indicates that the industry sold $11.1 billion of Saskatchewan oil and gas in 2010, but paid only $1.8 billion in royalties and spent a further $6.5 billion on exploration, development and operations.

In other words, oil and gas companies made enough in Saskatchewan to immediately pay off all of their investments, with $2.8 billion of extra profit left over.

Foreign investors eager to get in on the action have been buying loonies in order to take over, or acquire shares of, Canadian resource companies. This inflow of foreign funds drives up the exchange rate, to the detriment of manufacturing and other Canadian-based export industries.

Ironically, since resources are priced in American dollars, the higher exchange rate further reduces provincial resource revenues in Canadian dollars. Saskatchewan’s recent budget estimates that each U.S. cent of appreciation in the loonie reduces non-renewable resource revenue by $34 million.

The solution is to increase royalty rates, which would moderate the flow of foreign funds into our resource industries and collect the public revenue needed for the provincial savings funds that MacPherson advocates.
Of course, if Saskatchewan did so alone, it would have relatively little impact on the national exchange rate. That is why Mulcair’s comments were directed at the unbalanced development of Alberta’s oilsands – a larger-scale giveaway of public resources.

But Wall is defensive because he has mimicked and even undercut Alberta by guaranteeing ultra-low royalties to the private corporations that extract Saskatchewan’s non-renewable resources. This policy would be short-sighted even if it had no effect on the exchange rate. Dutch disease, including a proportionally larger loss of manufacturing jobs in Saskatchewan than in the rest of Canada, is just another negative consequence.

Mulcair has articulated a balanced approach to resource development that would generate more public revenue, a more competitive exchange rate, and more manufacturing jobs. Saskatchewan is well positioned to help implement and benefit from this approach by raising provincial resource royalties.

Erin Weir is an economist with the United Steelworkers union, which represents workers in Saskatchewan’s mining and manufacturing industries.
 Erin Weir


"Mulcair And Energy McCarthyism" - Jim Stanford

"The high-and-mighty vitriol which greeted Tom Mulcair's comments last week about the downside of oil-powered currency appreciation is lamentable (repeating the over-the-top reaction to Dalton McGuinty's similar comments a few weeks ago). Mulcair made two modest and empirically substantiated statements: the loonie is sky-high as a result of the oil boom in Alberta's bitumen sands (I doubt you'd find a single currency trader on Bay Street who would disagree with that), and that overvaluation is causing negative side-effects on other industries and regions in Canada. 

Following up on Erin Weir's most excellent interventions, here is my column in yesterday's Ottawa Citizen on this issue. And here is a graph that went with the column in the print edition. It shows that in the last decade, Canadian petroleum exports grew by close to 2 percentage points of GDP -- fairly impressive. But Canada's exports of everything else (manufacturing, services and tourism) declined by several times as much -- and the two offsetting trends are not unrelated. No wonder Canada is mired in a large, chronic international payments deficit, even as we scrape the stuff out of the ground faster than ever. 

 These diatribes against anyone who even acknowledges potential downsides or side effects of the bitumen boom seem to herald a new, dangerous tendency in Canada's political culture. Opposing a bitumen-exporting pipeline in Canada these days makes you a foreign-financed subversive. And it seems that questioning the economic effects of the bitumen export strategy makes you equally seditious. I call this "energy McCarthyism," and it should be rejected forcefully not just by those concerned with Canada's de-industrialization and staples dependency, but by those worried about the quality of our democracy." Jim Stanford is an economist with the CAW. This article was first posted on The Progressive Economics Forum.
Jim Stanford -

Tuesday, May 08, 2012 

He'll Deny It ... But Premier Brad Wall Would Like To Lead The Conservative Party Of Canada

Saskatchewan's Brad Wall started his political career as a ministerial assistant in the corrupt Grant Devine Progressive Conservative administration of the 1980's. With Wall were his pals, and fellow political aides, Reginald (Reg) Downs and Iain Harry. After the timely death of the Devine regime, Saskatchewan's PC's morphed into the Saskatchewan Party. Wall, Downs and Harry made their way by means of various political maneuvers into the Caucus and caucus office of the Saskatchewan Party.

After 16 years of New Democratic rule, the Sask Party won government with Brad Wall as Premier, Reg Downs as his top advisor and Iann Harry as Vice President of the Crown Investment Corporation.

 This little Saskatchewan Right Wing troika is bonded by their years together with Devine and in Opposition against the Romanow and Calvert NDP administrations. They work together well. There isn't a lot of room for outside influence in the Premier's Office. These are the guys who run the Saskatchewan Party. Downs and Harry both shun the public spotlight and Wall is the smiling, friendly front man.

 So guess who has a plan to ultimately replace Stephen Harper as leader of the federal Conservatives one day? It may be hard to picture the departure of Harper but hear me out. Harper is not that well liked - he won a majority federal government with only 40% support of Canadians. Harper is not the warm and friendly type of politician that Brad Wall is.

It is not inconceivable that Harper will continue to sink in the polls over the remainder of this term.  Stephen Harper has already reached his 'high water mark'. Add to the mix the fact that Conservatives have a history of turfing out leaders. 

Let's make a long story short .... guess who's sticking his toe into federal political waters?

Misters Wall, Downs and Harry are up to a new challenge. Wall will deny it. He will clearly tell the press that he has no intention of entering federal politics. But one thing that Saskatchewan political observers know about Mr. Wall. It is not what he 'says' that matters. Watch his actions. That tells the tale. Mr. Harper would be well advised to keep an eye on Saskatchewan's Brad Wall.

 -How Long Will Stephen Harper Stay? - The Globe & Mail

Thursday, May 03, 2012 

Plugging The CNIB's May "Vision Health Month"

On a personal note ... over the last two years, I have struggled with a number of surgeries to try and fix a detached retina in one of my eyes. Things have not worked out and I lost the sight in that eye. I also have glaucoma and some impaired sight in my 'good' eye.

Last month I benefited from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's excellent services by acquiring a number of items that are now helping me with my computer keyboard, screen as well as some other reading aides.

The CNIB has made May 'Vision Health Month.

You may not think about your eyes and vision very often ..... I didn't. Now I have the 'hindsight' of personal experience.

Take a moment and think about your eyes ... have you seen an optometrist or eye health professional lately?


In Brad Wall's 'Saskatchewan' ... Workers Are Secondary To The Needs Of His Corporate Pals ....

 REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour is raising concerns about the treatment of temporary foreign workers after three Mexican men say their experience has soured their view of Canada.

Ivan Estrada came to the Regina area in late February with dreams of providing for his wife and two children - soon to be three - back in Mexico.

"It was a nightmare actually," said Estrada, brought here under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program to work in the food industry. Two months after his arrival, he's further in debt back home and without a job here after quitting in frustration over a wage dispute. "I can't even afford a haircut," he said Tuesday.

At a time when this province has been courting foreign workers, Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris said, "We take this very seriously." Although the men entered the country under a federal program, "obviously we're concerned whenever there are these kind of allegations," he said, adding the government wants newcomers to feel welcome.

The Labour Standards Branch launched an investigation on Friday after receiving a formal complaint from one worker. In addition, the immigration branch's program integrity unit has "swung into action" and will contact the employees, Norris said Tuesday. He added that there hasn't been a lot of "troublesome situations," but the integrity unit can facilitate investigations and help ensure the well-being of newcomers.

Estrada and two co-workers, Guillermo Uscanga and Erik Rivas, came to Saskatchewan to work at a Tim Hortons in Emerald Park. Their employer Aaron Buckingham declined to comment when contacted about the allegations raised by the SFL and in a letter, posted to the SFL's website and authored by Mary Strymecki, an advocate for the men. The allegations concern pay, work conditions and accommodations arranged by their employer.

The workers - originally six then four when two left - were each paying $500 to share a basement area that didn't have a separate entrance and had only a microwave and bar fridge but no stove on which to cook.

A statement issued late Tuesday by Tim Hortons head office said Buckingham "acted in good faith" and "went above and beyond what was required of him and found spacious and affordable accommodations for six temporary foreign workers in order to help them reduce their living expenses. The owner also loaned his employees funds to cover their first month's rent and their damage deposit. All employees were paid holiday pay and any errors have been rectified."

SFL president Larry Hubich offered the three workers an apology when he met them Tuesday. "I was embarrassed that Canada and Saskatchewan would allow this kind of situation to occur," he said, adding the SFL is urging the provincial government to ensure all workers' rights are respected and protected.

Estrada said the main reason he came was the promise of plenty of overtime so he could "give a better future to my family." Between fewer hours than expected, high rent, a damage deposit taken off his cheque, and getting by on microwaveable food, he was further behind, making only $50 more than he was in Mexico working in a bar. The last straw was a dispute over his pay on a statutory holiday so he quit.

Strymecki has taken Estrada and another worker into her home and become their advocate, contacting the SFL, federal and provincial governments, and politicians. She and her husband operate a construction company and got to know the men through Mexican workers - "like our family" - employed by their company.

"My husband and I just put ourselves in their shoes and thought, 'This is just atrocious' ... We just kept telling them, 'This is not Saskatchewan.'"

The men can work only for the employer who brought them to Canada. But Strymecki, who has been seeking additional employees, is trying to find a way to give them jobs. Estrada said the one positive has been Strymecki's help.

  Regina Leader-Post

Thanks to Global Regina for video link ...


In Stephen Harper's 'Canada' Having A Piss Pot Full Of Money Makes ALL The Difference ....

"Canadian immigration lawyers on Wednesday said it’s extraordinarily rare for the federal government to grant the right to reside here to convicted felons while they’re still in prison."  
The Globe & Mail

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 

If Some 'Left Winger' Renounced Their Canadian Citizenship Then Wanted It Back .. The Right Would Go Crazy ....

.... however, when it comes to Conrad Black doing the same .... not so much.

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