Tuesday, April 15, 2014 

The Foul Odour Of Corruption That Comes From The Office Of The Prime Minister Of Canada ..

The Canadian Progressive hits the nail on the head with this article.....

New documents released by the RCMP suggest that the Senate expenses scandal is closing in on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. For Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, the documents show that Harper, who came to office in 2006 promising to clean up Ottawa, is "guilty of corruption“.

The documents, filed in court on Wednesday, allege that Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, violated the Criminal Code when he cut a $90,172 cheque to cover up Sen. Mike Duffy’s fraudulent Senate expense claims. The documents allege that Wright committed several offences relating to fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.

Most importantly, the RCMP documents suggest that Harper and a whole busload of senior Conservatives knew a lot more than the PM has publicly admitted. CTV news reports that “PMO staff worked with Duffy to make his politically inconvenient expense problems go away.”

In essence, when Harper said he knew nothing of the deal, he lied to Canadians. There was a high-profile cover-up and he was aware of it.
As Postmedia News reports:
And while Wright is quoted in the RCMP documents saying that the prime minister was not aware of his plan to cut a $90,000 cheque from his personal funds to assist Duffy – a point on which Harper is also adamant – other parts of the RCMP records suggest Harper had more knowledge of Duffy’s woes and the widening scandal than the prime minister has publicly spoken about. The documents also suggest Harper may have known at a key point in the affair that the party was willing to pick up the tab for Duffy’s housing expenses.
One email, which is part of the RCMP documents, suggests that Wright’s decision to cut the cheque wasn’t his alone. That he either consulted with or sought Harper’s signature before he acted.
“We are good to go from the PM,” Wright says in the email, dated February 22, 2012.
In another email, Wright seems to suggest that the Conservatives in the Senate weren’t doing enough to contain the scandal as efficiently as the PM expected.
“We cannot rely on the Senate leadership,” he writes in the February 15 email. “We have to do this in a way that does not lead to the Chinese water torture of new facts in the public domain that the PM does not want.”
The RCMP documents also speak of an “agreement” around the dirty deal.
“That agreement, to give and accept money in exchange for something to be done or omitted to be done, constitutes the bribery offence,” the documents say. “They used their offices for a dishonest purpose, other than the public good.”
The documents also reveal that the following senior Conservatives knew about the deal:
Sen. Marjory LeBreton, Government Leader in the Senate
Sen. David Tkachuk, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee
Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen, Member of the Senate Standing Committee
Andrew MacDougall, Director of Communications, Prime Minister’s Office
Benjamin Perrin, Legal Counsel to the Prime Minister
Ray Novak, Harper’s Deputy Chief of Staff
Carl Vallee, Press Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office
Arthur Hamilton, Legal Counsel, Conservative Party of Canada
Chris Woodcock, Director of Issues Management, Prime Minister’s Office
I’d no idea. That’s because the Conservatives didn’t wan’t us to know.
But most insulting is this: before the newest revelations, Harper’s official response has read like a page from a dictator’s operational manual. Denial. Finger-pointing. Smearing. Character assassination. The works.
Soon after the scandal broke out, the PM expressed confidence in Wright.  In May, Harper told us Wright had acted “in the public interest” when he cut the Duffy cheque. He even "fought to keep Nigel Wright".
“The prime minister had full confidence in Mr. Wright and Mr. Wright is staying on,” said Andrew McDougall , Harper’s director of communications then.

Then the scandal refused to go away, threatened to engulf the Conservatives, and the smear campaign began. Harper made both Wright and Duffy the fall guys. He blamed them. Then he publicly trashed them.
In the House of Commons in October, Harper depicted him as a crooked political operator who actively engaged in a deception that duped his boss along with all Canadians. 
Harper recently also painted Sen. Duffy as "a duplicitious crook". That’s soon after Duffy told us “the prime minister wasn’t interested in explanations or the truth.”
In a speech delivered to the Senate in October, Duffy alleged Harper told him to repay the fraudulently claimed expenses. He claimed that he met Harper and Wright.

This is how the Toronto Star’s Tim Harper characterizes the stubborn scandal and its inevitable impact on Harper:
It is an indictment of his leadership and an indelible stain on his office, its bully-boy tactics and its apparent view that it can bulldoze through any problem with a wink, a payoff and a carefully rehearsed narrative.
Canadians deserve the truth. Now!
Obert Madondo  is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive.
 Canadian Progressive

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 

The Demise Of The Parti Quebecois - 'A Bad Campaign' by John Conway

Regina's alternative newspaper, The Prairie Dog, has an excellent article by retired Political Science professor, Dr. John Conway:

A Bad Campaign

The party invented by René Lévesque in 1968 is in trouble

by John F. Conway
 The Parti Québécois (PQ) was founded with two missions: bringing about an independent Quebec and creating a social democratic nation-building project, rooted in the great achievements of the Quiet Revolution.
The goals were popular, and the Québécois working class became a fortress of support for the PQ. And while there were zigs and zags over the years, after flirting with abandoning social democracy and compromising the independence goal, internal upheavals brought the PQ back to independence and moderate social democracy.

And in 2012, after almost 10 years of rule by Liberal Premier Jean Charest (2003-12), characterized by strong support for Canadian federalism, the imposition of neoliberal measures, and coziness with Prime Minister Harper, Pauline Marois led the PQ back to power with a minority victory.

During the 2012 election, the PQ returned to its fundamentals, campaigning on a social democratic and pro-sovereignty platform. The 2012 student uprising against the Charest government’s increased tuition fees — an uprising which became a sustained anti-neoliberal crusade — helped defeat both the government and Charest in Sherbrooke. (Corruption scandals had also rocked the Liberal government.)

Upon victory, however, Marois reversed herself and embraced neoliberalism. It was not a popular change.

Budgetary measures over 18 months were seen as betrayals by students and growing numbers among the PQ’s popular base. The decision to raise rather than freeze tuition fees — they went up $70/year, to be followed by a three per cent increase each year thereafter — brought out thousands of protesting students in March 2013.
Increased fees for Quebec’s famous $5/day daycare program brought in by the PQ in 1997 was another betrayal. Charest raised the fee to $7/day in 2004. The PQ government raised it to $8/day in 2014 and $9/day in 2015, with yearly indexed increases thereafter.

These measures diminished two cornerstones of the PQ’s progressive social project: low tuition fees and inexpensive, universal day care. Behind these high-profile symbolic reversals, the PQ government embraced the neoliberal austerity agenda: refusal to rescind the health tax; reductions in welfare payments; cuts in school board funding; efforts to suppress public sector wages; a balanced budget by 2016; abandoned promises to raise mining royalties and toughen up regulation of the industry; and delays in strengthening the language law. 

Basically, the PQ shredded its 2012 election platform, and by June 2013 the party was 14 points behind the Liberals.

It was hoped that this right turn would attract support from right-wing, soft nationalists, the main francophone base for Francois Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), which won 19 seats and 27 per cent of the popular vote in 2012. Alas, CAQ’s support held up well, while a small erosion favoured the Liberals. Meanwhile, the PQ’s measures revitalized the left-wing sovereigntist Quebec Solidaire (QS). QS support began to track upwards from the six per cent (and two seats) won in 2012.

In an act of desperate opportunism, the PQ decided to fight the election on the Quebec Charter of Values. Not surprisingly, the Charter instantly cleaved the province’s francophone majority from the growing ethnic communities, but the polarization went deeper. A chorus of opposition on civil libertarian grounds grew within Quebec and beyond. The law, while claiming the goal of democratic secularism, in effect punitively singled out visible ethnic groups, especially those wearing distinctive clothing and symbols with religious significance. All public employees were to be banned from such overt manifestations of religion. One’s face had to be uncovered when receiving or providing publicly funded services. There were large street demonstrations, for and against. Xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments were expressed openly in confrontations on the streets, at shopping malls, and in subways. The lid was off Pandora’s Box, giving some the green light to publicly express previously hidden ugly sentiments.

The Charter divided the PQ. Former PQ premiers Parizeau, Bouchard and Landry opposed it. Bloc MP Maria Mourani, a breakthrough in the PQ’s campaign to win allophones to sovereignty, quit the party in disgust. The large teachers’ union, a key pillar of PQ support, opposed the Charter, while the other big unions hesitated to commit. Quebec’s Human Rights Commission declared the Charter a violation of citizens’ rights. Most constitutional experts argued the Charter was unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Nevertheless, the PQ was encouraged. Francophone support for the Charter was high (69 per cent, according to one poll), and the PQ’s plan for winning a majority required a large win among francophone voters.
Though initially condemning the Charter, the Liberals and the CAQ, with an eye on the polls, began to hedge their bets, declaring degrees of critical support. The QS consistently denounced the Charter as exclusionary, calling for a thoroughgoing, democratic and inclusive secularization. Charter support among francophones failed to bring the promised gains for the PQ. Polls from September, 2013, when the Charter was tabled, to January, 2014 consistently put both the PQ and Liberals in the mid-30s.

February and March 2014 polls began to give the PQ an edge, with support touching even 40 per cent in mid-February. On March 5, Marois called the election for April 7. On March 9 she lost momentum with a second act of opportunism, when she held a press conference to introduce the PQ’s star candidate, Pierre Karl Peladeau. Billionaire media tycoon Peladeau is the epitome of the ruthless, union-busting, neoliberal capitalist in Quebec. Marois believed Peladeau would bring economic credibility to the PQ, and attract right-wing supporters from the CAQ. It didn’t work — as far as the Québécois working class is concerned, Marois may as well have recruited Jack the Ripper.

By late March, polls put the PQ in the low 30s and the Liberals in the low to mid 40s. The CAQ still held 15 per cent; the QS, nine per cent.

Most media pundits attributed the PQ fall to Peladeau’s clenched fist call for a country, raising fears of sovereignty and a referendum. But such fears are systematically used in every election against the PQ. A better interpretation might be that many among the Quebec sovereignty movement do not aspire to the kind of independent Quebec Peladeau would build. PQ apologists correctly argue that Lévesque’s sovereignty church was always large and ideologically diverse. But what church reserves a seat for Satan among the congregation, let alone in the priesthood?
In a final act of pathos, the PQ tried to provoke fear among francophone voters that Anglo invaders from Ontario and the rest of Canada were signing up to vote in order to steal the election. It backfired, leading to ridicule for the PQ.

A journalist covering Tory PM Kim Campbell’s ill-fated 1993 campaign compared it to “watching a dog die.” That phrase comes to mind as the PQ’s 2014 campaign unravels.

Prairie Dog

Thursday, April 03, 2014 

$$$ Why Is High Spender June Draude Still Sitting At Brad Wall's Cabinet Table? $$$

REGINA — Saskatchewan Social Services Minister June Draude came under fire Wednesday after it was revealed her expenses for an overseas trip last summer included more than $3,600 for a car service and over $200 for lunch with a friend. [...]
There weren’t any reports produced as a result of the trip and Draude struggled to list any specific benefits for Saskatchewan resulting from the meetings she had.

What was taxpayer money spent on during Draude’s overseas trip?
$3,634.33 — car service for Draude and (staffer) Mantey while in London
$4,366.43 — Mantey’s flights to Ghana and England; chose business class
$2,696.80 — Draude’s flight’s to Ghana and England; chose economy class
$1,864.56 — Draude’s four-star hotel in London; Mantey’s similar
$206.06 — improperly claimed personal lunch with Draude’s friend
Regina Leader-Post

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