Friday, January 30, 2009

Minority Conservative Budget passes first test - Liberals join Harper in vote

Sub-amendment from Bloc defeated 214 to 85

Another four days will tell whether the Conservative budget will pass its crucial commons vote but it is widely expected the Liberal Party, under leadership appointee Michael Ignatieff, will vote again with the Conservatives. The Liberal's own amendments to the budget - Iggy's strings - will be voted on next week and the Conservatives have stated they support the main Liberal amendments, buying Liberal support for their minority mandate.

The NDP, who voted in solidarity for yesterday's Bloc amendments, and the Bloc have already said they will vote against the budget, but don't carry the needed seats in commons to defeat the Conservatives without Liberal support. The Coalition is effectively over.

QUOTE of the day - Iggy’s a control freak -- he’s worse than Harper
Even among the Liberals and Conservatives, there is not unanimous support for the budget. Ignatieff faces a revolt by Newfoundland Liberal MP's concerned about reduced Atlantic Accord transfer payments. Many Conservatives are concerned about the political necessities which have forced Flaherty's hand into introducing a big spending deficit budget not in keeping with their conservative right-wing spending policies.

Read more budget news at the following links -

Ignatieff slaps muzzle on unruly caucus

Budget Spending raises doubts among Conservatives

Liberal - Conservative MP's vote against Bloc amendment

Come back to Canayjun's Canada News blog for more budget updates and insights.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Budget Update - Ignatieff Liberals to support Conservatives with amendments - Vote tonight


Budget Expected to Pass -

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has decided to support Harper's minority Conservative Party in the commons and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget. Asking for only amendments which holds the government accountable to parliament by providing fixed date updates (which would in themselves be confidence items) to show that the massive economic stimulus plan is feasible. The Liberal amendments and the budget vote itself go tonight so look for updates here later.

NDP leader Jack Layton has said that Ignatieff has decided to form a different coalition - a Conservative/Liberal coalition. This after the liberals have apparently backed off entirely on their previous agreement to form a coalition with the NDP and Bloc to defeat Harper's minority and assume control of pariament with their combined 62% of the electorate's votes. When first hearing of Ignatieff's appointment the Canayjun reported right here that "Iggy" would probably forsake Dion's coalition plans and prop up the Conservatives [ Coalition news and Iggy and the Rosedale Gang ]. It's reported today that the NDP have released a series of scathing ads regarding Ignatieff and the Liberals siding with the untrustworthy Conservatives.

Ignatieff has 'blinked', obviously uncertain whether the Liberals could actually win an election if a non-confidence vote were to trigger one (which it certainly would as the Liberals have apparently abandoned the coalition - it's no longer an option.)

Most of the major portions of the budget were leaked prior to it's release, so there's not much point posting that old news here. The Canayjun Canada News blog did correctly predict however, the shortcomings of one major portion - $2B dollars for social housing. That is the minority Conservatives method of having strings attached to the major budget amounts - even for the $12B in infrastructure spending - in having the provinces and municipalities match 50% of the funds released. This has proved well nigh impossible in the past, and will be even more so for cash strapped regional governments during a worldwide economic recession and huge job losses. Less people working, less tax revenue.

An overview of the proposed budget our politicians are voting on tonight is worth reading though. Check the links below and come back to the Canada News page later to read about the outcome. It's best to start with some of the brief synopsis links posted by news organizations - but by all means read the actual document form the finance department - a rather large PDF, but all the detail you need to make your own judgement instead of listening to the hype.

Budget Links Online:

Bad-times budget delivers billions

Budget Highlights

Ontario's McGuinty support feds' budget

Liberal amendments

go to vote

Tories 'fine' with Liberal demand for stimulus updates

Coalition over - Ignatieff calls for reports on budget impact

2009 Budget, or Boondoggle 101?

Text of the Budget Speech

The 2009 budget Online from the Department of Finance


It's no news the Canayjun is a strong supporter of the NDP (a viable alternative to the Harper minority regime) and I also came out in support for the coalition - did you sign the petition? But the Coalition's effectiveness came and went in December with Harper's strategy of suspending (proroguing) parliament and muzzling a democratic vote process. With the two months that has gone by now - the mood of the Canadian electorate has changed. Recent polls suggest Canadians prefer an election to a coalition. Coalition governments are a part of our democratic tradition here in Canada, the majority has a mandate to govern parliament, there is no requirement in the case of a minority government, such as the current Conservatives, to lock parliament into an ineffective partisan model. As blogged here recently - "Joe Clark's Progressive Conservative minority govt fell to non-confidence. (Joe and other leading PC's by the way did not join the Reform-Alliance-Conserative merger that spawned our minority Harper government). Ontario's minority Conservatives were defeated by a majority Liberal-NDP Coalition. Canada's political history has many ruling democratic coalitions..." But at this point it no longer seems a workable strategy because there is no guarantee of coalition - the GG (Michaelle Jean) acts on the advice of the Prime Minister - the real likelihood is that a non-confidence vote will only result in another lengthy election process. There is no clear majority leader amongst the electorate yet, with the outcome - another ineffective minority parliament. Better to let the opposition assume their important role of pressuring the ruling Conservatives in session, as the mere threat of Coalition has done this time, and establishing clear directions for Canadians to choose come the next election. It won't be a Conservative majority - did I say yet Harper has never won one?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Throne Speech Update - Canadian Parliament back in session

The Governor General's speech from the Throne has come and gone - if you blinked you missed it. Less than 10 minutes - eight and half exactly by some accounts. But really, what did we expect? The last Throne speech was only a couple of months ago and the real pressing business is the upcoming revised budget. That is to be delivered by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 27th.



Reports on the speech from the Throne can be found here -

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/090126/canada/canada_us_politics

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/01/26/throne-speech.html


News accounts of the throne speech focused almost entirely on the budget as it certainly is the most pressing issue in Canada right now. It also will be the next legislative item to be subject to a confidence vote and whether the opposition will show non-confidence or support the minority Conservatives. Harper's minority Conservatives have leaked enough about the budget to preclude any further discussion here until we can review a hardcopy tomorrow with all the devilish details - check back then.

Canada's Parliament Reopens - Throne Speech - What Next

Today is an historic occasion - Canada's parliament re-opens after having been suspended or "prorogued" by minority Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper last December. The PM advised Governor General Michaelle Jean to announce this drastic measure to avoid a legal and democratic confidence vote on his government's mini-budget. The majority of opposition parties - the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc - had announced their intentions to vote non-confidence in Harper's minority and request the G.G. allow a coalition of the majority to form a new government to immediately address the then deepening economic crisis. This democratic coalition was based on an accord reached between all three opposition parties entitled "An Accord on a Cooperative Government to Address the Current Economic Crisis".

During the snap election last October (called by Harper in contravention of his own government's bill to hold elections only on fixed dates) more than 62% of Canadians voted against Harper's Conservatives. The Conservatives under Harper have never won a majority in Canada. Regardless, the Conservatives did not govern accordingly - that is as a minority which should seek consensus from all parties - rather Harper treated his responsibility as if his mandate was a majority and not the meagre 37% actually tallied. For example, the mini-budget presented by his Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was completely out of touch with the worldwide reality of economic recession and contained no significant stimulus measures. In advising the Governor General to suspend parliament, PM Harper appealed to the G.G. that "stability" was required to address the economy and referred to the Bloc contingent as those scary "separatists" (recalling the old days of Chretien and his schemes to federalize Quebec sovereignty - and also ignoring his very own act of formally recognizing Quebec sovereignty) . This stability came in the form of the Draconian measure of suspending the democratic process of Canada's legally elected representatives and delaying real economic change for a crucial six weeks.

Now it's as if the Conservatives and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are saying, " Never mind! ", introducing a "do-over" budget with no relation to their pre-Christmas version of economic stimulus. Having selectively leaked almost all major details of the budget in advance of tomorrow's formal introduction to parliament, it can be seen that the Conservatives completely misread the depth of the economic crisis, and are playing politics with Canadians by juggling partisan power plays and avoiding true consensual governance. In the past, as opposition, Harper himself has called for the Liberal government to step down over budget leaks. Now, clinging to power, the Conservatives misuse their own access to sensitive information merely as a backroom marketing ploy. For example - they have leaked that the budget will create a $60+ billion dollar deficit, but have withheld the total cost of the package - is it $150B? $300B? We'll wait for tomorrow and see.

In the mean time we have a Throne speech from the Governor General in a little less than three hours to re-open and revive our parliament. Although the reponse to the throne speech could signal a confidence vote itself, it's expected the opposition, under Layton, Duceppe and the newly appointed Liberal leader Ignatieff, will wait for Tuesday's budget. Layton, this morning on CBC has already stated that the NDP will not support the budget sight unseen, having lost confidence in the minority government to effectively implement its measures. Ignatieff has stated he will peruse the budget with the Liberal caucus before deciding on a non-confidence motion.

Harper's Conservative government? They have taken the almost paranoid step of running a series of advertisements in the past several days, privately paid for by the Conservative Party of Canada. The gist of the radio spots, one of which features two women chatting about the economy, is simpleminded scaremongering. "Remember all that stuff the coalition put us through last year?", it states, and continues, "Oh no, not that again! We need action on our economy, not more political uncertainty". Indeed we do need action Mr. Harper. We needed it last December and your response was to close the doors of the government. We needed immediate action and the Conservatives chose a six week hiatus. Now get to work! - and if your budget sparks a non-confidence vote - stop clinging to power and let the majority rule.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Latest Harper budget leak - good news or hype?

Budget could offer more than $2B for social housing

[source: cbc.ca for iPhone] - The Harper government is expected to use Tuesday's federal budget to pump more than $2 billion into social housing across the country, a move that would help seniors, the disabled and aboriginal people, according to a report. [end of excerpt]

This is not the first time billions have been promised for social housing - the Liberals created a fund years ago (that stayed alive under the Conservative minority budget) that still has unspent hundreds of millions of dollars for affordable housing due to red-tape and strings attached that required cash strapped provinces and municipalities to match funds. Further, while $2Billion may appear to be a large amount of money (and guarantee headlines for the Conservatives) - the portion mentioned in the news report for repairs to social housing - $1B - may actually not even come close to repairing even a small percentage of Canada's crumbling social housing infrastructure and leaves moot the point whether housing built decades ago in the 50's, 60's and 70's should even be repaired or upgraded, or replaced entirely with a new social housing model.

This most recent leak of this weeks upcoming federal budget is another example of Harper and his minority Conservative Party selectively releasing what they consider to be good news items to be picked up as positive news bites and spun by their considerable backroom marketing machine to garner support for what is suspected to be an unprecedented economic stimulus package. $64 billion deficit? What is the total cost of the new budget? Are tax cuts the best way to jumpstart the Canadian economy? Pouring billions into programs that are ill conceived to begin with and poorly managed by bureaucratic mandarins won't guarantee that Canada will ride out the economic storm. We need fresh thinking, not more of the same Conservative laissez faire, trickle down philosophy - and perhaps the billions needed now are an indication that the Conservatives just plain got it wrong over the past few years of minority rule and Canadians deserve a government that can command a majority mandate.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Harper playing games with 'irresponsible' budget leaks


In a revealing contrast to the previous post (Information watchdog alarmed by Harper government clampdown - canayjun.blogspot.com), yesterday's news shows the flipside of what happens when governments misuse their power to control access to information - by strategically "leaking" information that only they have access to.

The CBC reported that opposition leader's Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton both lambasted the Conservative minority for selectively leaking details about next weeks federal budget.

[source: cbc.ca] - Government officials leaked more details from the federal budget on Friday, including a $1-billion fund for hard-hit industries. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of playing political games on Friday, calling the leaking of information from next week's federal budget a deliberate attempt "to get the bad news out of the way." NDP Leader Jack Layton accused the prime minister of "manipulating the process" with the leaks because he is "afraid of losing his job." [end of excerpt] The actual news leaks were also published on cbc.ca, a reliable source of information for Canadians and leaves one asking, " What is there for Finance Minister Flaherty to tell us next week?".

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/01/22/deficitoutlook.html
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/01/23/budgetworkers.html

I'm sure they have surprises up their sleeves for us - prepare for rabbits and hats!

Information watchdog alarmed by Harper government clampdown

[source: cbc.ca]
Canada's information watchdog says the public knows less than ever about what its government is doing - Information Commissioner Robert Marleau said Thursday the grip on federal files is tightening, largely because of the Conservative government's "communications stranglehold" on the bureaucracy. "There's less information being released by government than ever before. And that's alarming". [end of excerpt]

The minority Harper government's attempts to be in control are nothing new to Canadians, but the report shows the extent and risk to freedom of information. Especially revealing is this recent headline combined with the steps the Conservative government took last spring to shut down the public database that ordinary Canadians used to access freely available information request details - from cbc.ca last May, 2008 : Tories Kill Access to Information Database


What does censorship and blocking access to information look like? This is a glimpse of a what a censored version of " RIGHTS IN THE AGE OF PROTEST: A HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES MOVEMENT IN CANADA", 1962-1982 by © Dominique Clément might look like if we don't stand up for openness and freedom in the federal government.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

NDP advocate bold action on the economy

Budget only as good as government who implements it: Layton

[source - ndp.ca] OTTAWA - At his caucus’ retreat in Ottawa today, New Democrat leader Jack Layton blasted Stephen Harper for failing to have a plan for the economy that Canadians can trust. In a desperate effort to stay in power said Layton, Stephen Harper is now promising the kind of economic measures he ridiculed just weeks ago.



Stephen Harper doesn’t believe in what he’s now promising said Layton. "How can you trust someone to implement a multi-billion stimulus package that they don’t believe in?" asked Layton. Do Canadians want Harper to be given a blank cheque on the biggest economic crisis in generations? Layton pointed to the Building Canada Fund, where money promised by Harper years ago for municipal infrastructure has not been issued. Now with infrastructure deficits spiralling, the Harper Conservatives are using the economic crisis as an excuse to force municipalities that apply for infrastructure money to scrap environmental assessments that protect air, soil and water quality.

Layton assured Canadians most vulnerable to economic instability that New Democrats would not let them be left behind in the economic recovery. Assistance to Canadian families hit hard by the economic downturn must join investment in infrastructure, housing and renewable energy.

"Working families can’t afford more failed policies, more mistakes, more bad management of the economy", Layton said.




Proposed Liberal-NDP coalition is still strong: Duceppe

[source - cbc.ca] Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe says the proposed coalition of the Liberals and New Democrats is just as solid as it was before the Governor General prorogued Parliament before the holidays in December. [The Liberals and NDP] want to see a budget with measures to boost the economy and help workers, and [they] will wait to see the document before deciding on support, just as all opposition parties plan to do, Duceppe said. "Mr. Harper spoke about an emerging consensus — I don't know where he heard that," he added. "I haven't seen it." [end of excerpt]

There has been speculation, that the new interim Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff, will not support the proposed coalition plans to oppose Harper's minority government, and support the upcoming Conservative budget.  Harper, through recent statements, has shown that he is not too concerned about the coalition, ever since his undemocratic ploy to stave off a non-confidence vote by suspending parliament before Christmas. He's even stated that if there is a non-confidence motion, it should trigger another election, perhaps confident the minority Conservatives will be able to manage another minority win - the Conservatives under Harper have never won a majority - instead of a Coalition majority government.  He recently stated that if the Coalition wins a non-confidence vote - they would have to run in an election as a coalition  "with the separatists" (as Harper refers to the Bloc)- obviously trying to stir partisan uneasiness among the unlikely coalition partners. 

Recent polls do show that a slight majority of Canadians would prefer an election to a coalition, but calling an election in the event of non-confidence is up to the Governor General, who will act on the advice of the Prime Minister. Whether or not she will take into account recommendations from opposition leaders remains to be seen. The only way for Harper to solve this parliamentary crisis is to win a majority - obviously his plan when calling last falls snap election - but majority will likely continue to elude the former western Reform Party turned Conservative. I'm surprised the Tory party members have waited this long supporting a leader like Harper who can't win an election decisively. You have to wonder, in the event of non-confidence, or another minority government - will the Conservatives seek a new leader who can get the job done.

Check back to the Canada News Commentary blog for budget news updates and the Coalition response.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From Joe the Plumber to Obama the Painter

President-elect Barack Obama urges public service, paints at shelter - 

[source -news.sympatico.msn.ctv.ca
A day away from becoming the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama rolled green paint onto blank walls at an emergency homeless shelter in Washington, the Sasha Bruce House, a shelter for teenagers…On the holiday honouring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,  Obama is asking all Americans to mark the civil rights leader’s legacy by making a renewed commitment to public service.

King, who pushed for equality through peaceful resistance, was assassinated in 1968. “Today, we celebrate the life of a preacher who, more than 45 years ago, stood on our national mall in the shadow of Lincoln and shared his dream for our nation. His was a vision that all Americans might share the freedom to make of our lives what we will; that our children might climb higher than we would,” Obama said in his statement. Obama said King’s “was a life lived in loving service to others.As we honor that legacy, it’s not a day just to pause and reflect — it’s a day to act,” Obama said. [end of excerpt]

Obama gets it. He just plain gets it. He understands what is needed, and that it is not “the government” that can do it, but ordinary people, by donating their time and energy - their sweat equity - who can make the biggest difference to a nation. There are shelters near you, right now, that are in need of volunteers. Shelters for teens like the one Obama was helping at, shelters for women and children seeking refuge from abusive relationships, shelters for youth, men and women who find themselves homeless. They all need help. Simple hard work. And not so hard - they need painters, dishwashers,chefs,waiters and waitresses, barbers,manicurists, sweepers and even patient listeners. I’m glad in a way that we are so close to America here in Canada - maybe the call for grassroots public service will bear fruit here at home. We’re so used to calling public service working for the government, when Barack Obama has reminded us that true public service starts with you, the public.

Now that is a New Year’s resolution worth keeping.
[volunteer at 
project417.com]

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Major customers choose to stick with bankrupt Nortel - for now...

UPDATE - Nortel Bankruptcy

[source bloomberg.com ] Nortel Networks Corp. customers said they will stick with the bankrupt phone-equipment maker for now, although analysts say competitors may pick up some business over the long term.Nortel's Chief Executive Officer Mike Zafirovski contacted customers yesterday to reassure them that North America ’s biggest maker of phone equipment is operating as usual. The largest customers in North America - Verizon, Sprint and BCE (Bell Canada Enterprises) said they will maintain ties with North America's largest telecom equipment manufacturer in the near term. [end of excerpt] Digg it here!

It always surprised me, several years back when Nortel stock first plummeted into the basement, how many customer, especially customers considering purchasing new systems, were willing to take the bet that Nortel would survive. I was a director of sales for Meteortel in Canada, largest dealer for one of Nortel's major competitor's - NEC. The loyalty of customers, especially those who were also Bell network customers, was almost unassailable. Given that major corporate telecom system purchases are long term infrastructure investments - realistically 10 years plus, our marketing strategy at the time stressed the impact of market uncertainty and future support issues. We had relative success, and were able to point out that although Nortel was the in the top 10 worldwide in Telecom (as was NEC), the breadth of NEC's offerings were backed by top ten standing in all three of Telecom, Computing and Semiconductors. Network and IP based products were also strong enough to stand up well against the Cisco VoIP trend (NEC manufactured several CISCO switches).

We once were in a competitive bid situation with our NEC offering facing off against Nortel and AT&T, when the customer's CEO claimed he would rather go with a company like Nortel or AT&T with a well established history in telecom rather than Japanese upstart. When I could reply that the history actually started a century ago with Western Telephone and Telegraph, which split into American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), Northern Telecom (Nortel) and Nippondenso Electric Company (NEC), that was critical in winning the business. Although I'm not in the telecom industry any more, having opted for non-profit work in poverty reduction, I can't help wondering how the bankruptcy of a major company such as Nortel will have on the Canadian economic scene - especially Canadian manufacturing and design / development operations. Check back to the blog for more updates.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nortel Files for Bankruptcy Protection - Trading in Nortel halted on TSX

Telecom Giant Files for Bankruptcy Protection

[source- ca.news.yahoo.com] — Telecom giant Nortel Networks Corp. (TSX:NT) and several of its units have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a court in the United States. The move comes shortly after shares in the company were halted on the TSX pending news. .... [end of excerpt]

To say we have been expecting this is an understatement - after shares tumbled to the 30 cent range recently. To say we are looking forward to this is a mis-statement. Nortel has been so important to the Canadian economy, even a way of life, when you look at the pervasiveness of Nortel hardware throughout the Bell and other telco customers across the country. That old clunker dial phone you've been hanging on to as a collectors item in the basement? - Nortel made it ( or Northern Telecom). For a very long time in Canada, their name was ubiquitous in the business telephone system market - a Bell system was a Nortel system was a phone system - wait there are other manufacturers? How have they fallen so far from a stellar history - especially one filled with so much groundbreaking technological inventiveness. Check back to canayjun.blogspot.com for more in depth analysis.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NDP Finance critic in demand amongst EU leaders


[Source - financialpost.com ] - NDP strengthens its business credentials

According to the report, the NDP deputy leader and Finance critic, Tom Mulcair, was invited to the New World, New Capitalism conference and joined former and current world leaders like Tony Blair, Germany's Angela Merkel - he was personally invited by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. They met to discuss the new world that will emerge from the most profound financial and economic crises in decades. FP reports Mulcair made a strong impression during a presentation to the group. [end of excerpt]

It is a world economic crisis, and with the upcoming "super" budget from the minority Conservatives due out at the end of January, Canadians are looking for leadership in how to respond to the escalating effects of the worldwide recession phenomenon - how we can capitalize on our strengths and consider new economic world views. Seems Tom Mulcair has the creds to lead opposition responses to Flaherty's stimulus package.

SEARCH Google for more on the economic crisis:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ignatieff chooses wealthy Rosedale Gang as backroom power brokers

Ignatieff inner circle choices raise questions [source theStar.com]

After 'Rosedale gang' appointments, Liberals wait on decisions about roles for Rae, LeBlanc. Liberals are waiting to see if newly minted party leader Michael Ignatieff will give leadership rivals Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc prominent posts on his team or leave them in limbo as ordinary parliamentary backbenchers...After cleaning house in the Opposition leader's office, Ignatieff is expected to put so many of his former Toronto faithful in prominent backroom jobs that some are already calling it the Rosedale gang [end of excerpt]
Now we'll be faced with weeks and months of spin, speculating on Iggy as Prime Minister. Pearls of wisdom will drip from his lips. Battles will be fought on designing just the right sound-bites to include in news broadcasts. He's the new Liberal golden boy (you remember the Liberals, the ones who got us into the mess we're in and so mired the political landscape that we haven't had a majority giovernment in Ottawa since. And correct me if I'm wrong, but Ignatieff has never won a Liberal leadership race. Oh, it's been close - but nope, no win. Liberals want so desparately to remove themselves from the Dion era, that they're ready to concede the next leadership convention vote to Iggy, who they are sure will lead them to Canadian electoral nirvana. Talk about counting your eggs before they're hatched. Or is that Golden eggs? Ignatieff is an elitist out of touch with ordinary Canadians, coaxed from his American, Harvard ivory tower position by hustling political strategists seeking to rebuild the Liberals' fortunes.

Ignatieff's career, far from being involved in helping Candians or serving them in the public sphere, has been one spent outside of Canada as a revier, reporter, essayist and commentator. One reviewer in 2006 said of him, " As the '90s progressed, the main character in more and more of Michael Ignatieff's work became Michael Ignatieff". Removed from daily cultural realities in Canada, immersed in the American "worldview" theatre of academia and media (as a writer for the leftist New Republic for instance), how can he understand what is crucial to the Canadian electorate? He knows how to turn a political phrase - but does he know how to turn a country around?

SEARCH Google for more on Ignatieff here:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Harper's Broken Promises Put Canadians at Risk

BREAKING News -

"The Harper government has not named the lead investigator into a Listeriosis outbreak that killed 20 people. He promised last year to “get to the bottom of what transpired”. With only 3 months left before the report was to issue findings Harper has done nothing. People are still at risk. Listeria bacteria exists in all meat processing plants…"[end of excerpt - source cbc.ca]

Reported on the Missionlog last August - [ see Deadly Listeria Bacteria - Tainted Deli Meats Linked to Food Deaths ] , the hope was that progress had been made in the government’s food inspection process, but the recent news reports show that the health and safety of Canadians is not a top priority with the current minority Conservative government. The company involved - Maple Leaf Foods, has taken far more effective steps than the government agencies which are to police them: read about it here.

All Canadians should be concerned about how well the minority Conservative government is serving them - especially since Harper took the extraordinary move late last year of suspending Parliament, the one place where our voice should be heard. Broken promises, a muzzled mandate - when will it all end. Harper's minority Conservatives have never won a majority government in Canada. The time for change is now.

SEARCH Google for more on Harper and Listeriosis here:

Tories involved in taping of private caucus meeting?

NDP wants names of Tories involved in taping of private caucus meeting

Source - CBC, The Canadian Press
The NDP wants the names of "any and all individuals" involved in the Conservative decision to record and distribute copies of a New Democrat caucus meeting, and it is threatening legal action to get them. A letter from NDP counsel presses the Conservatives for the information and strongly suggests litigation will follow unless the names are forthcoming...The furor over the recording was largely forgotten as the government teetered on the brink of defeat. Prime Minister Stephen Harper opted to pull the plug on Parliament rather than face the Dec. 8 non-confidence vote. [end of excerpt]

The Conservatives claim to have received an email, (probably misdirected), inviting them to take part in the conference call. But even this doesn't hold legal water when it comes to taping telephone calls. The laws for taping private conversations in Canada are a little looser than our American neighbors - you can tape your own call without letting the other party know. But this doesn't stand for conference calls - as soon as a third party is involved in the conversation, all must be advised that the call is being recorded. This obviously was not done by the conservative member alleged to have done the taping. It's all in the hands of the lawyer's now so we'll have to wait and see how this plays out in the news. Check back soon to the Canada News Commentary blog for updates.

SEARCH Google for more on the Conservatives and NDP here:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Harper Upbeat on Economic Crisis


Thu Jan 8, 6:03 AM OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper was less gloomy about the economy in an interview released on Thursday, saying Canada was in a strong economic position compared with others and should be able to exit the recession relatively quickly.The comments were made to Maclean's magazine. But in mid-December, he had said he was very worried about the economy and speculated about the possibility of a depression. [end of quote]

This is not what the country needs: a politician who vacillates on critical issues, based purely it would seem, on what will pay him the most political benefit. He seems convinced he must always appear to be right as if he's terrified of making a mistake and rarely will admit to any error in public or caucus. We need honesty, we need openness.

Is the Harper's optimism warranted? Let's take a look a today's economic headlines from the CBC -

Canada's building sector takes double-digit hit in November The number of new building permits fell by almost 12 per cent in November as Canada's residential construction potential hits its lowest level in four years...

Canada's Jobless Rate up to 6.6 Percent in December Canada lost 34,400 jobs in December, a figure that was worse than economists had been expecting, as the economy weakened...

Think back on how Harper played the gloomy economic outlook card with the Governor General when faced with the possibility of upset from a coalition majority. One of the reasons he gave then for taking the almost unprecedented move of suspending parliament to protect his government from a non-confidence vote, was that the economic situation was far too precarious to "allow" a coalition government to usurp his minority control.

Well, hopefully Harper will soon have to face the music - Flaherty, his Finance Minister will be introducing a budget as soon as parliament is re-instated, and then will face the test against a majority opposition. Of course, the whole landscape of the coalition has changed, with the Liberals seizing the opportunity during hiatus to quickly replace Dion with golden boy Michael Ignatieff. Signs are the Liberals under Ignatieff are already waffling on supporting a coalition majority or non-confidence motion to defeat Harper's minority Conservatives. If they prop up Harper, they deserve whatever political fallout that spawns.

Let's hope Jack Layton and the NDP can be the voice of reason and push for the needs of ordinary working Canadians during whatever the worldwide economic crisis throws our way.


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