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Stephen Harper's Not So Good Good Friday

Montreal Simon - il y a 1 heure 25 min

Lordy. I see that Stephen Harper didn't have a very good Good Friday.

His Easter Message was no doubt well received by his dwindling flock, the 28% of Canadians who still support him.

Because they all agree that Jimbo Flaherty would want the Cons to keep his legacy alive.

Canada’s budget watchdog says the federal public service has already lost more jobs than expected and projects thousands more cuts.

By killing government in his memory.
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 04/18/2014 - 20:14
Mossy - Euphoria

Due to the poor attendance at Rob Ford’s campaign kickoff...

The Ranting Canadian - ven, 04/18/2014 - 10:17

Due to the poor attendance at Rob Ford’s campaign kickoff party, his new theme song could be “Half Empty Halls” by The Evaporators.

By most accounts, the April 17, 2014 event was a flop, with low turnout, no “history in the making" moments (another Ford promise broken), none of the celebrity appearances that were anticipated, and a lackluster speech full of lies, clichés and vague pledges. According to some, Ford was even heckled a bunch of times.

TV footage showed a lot of people waiting in line to get Ford T-shirts and bobblehead dolls, but it seems that many of those people were not genuine supporters, and left soon after getting their memorabilia, perhaps to sell online.

View during Rob Ford's 2014 campaign kickoff speech.

The Ford campaign booked an enormous banquet hall; rented tables, chairs, tablecloths, sound equipment, etc.; shelled out for servers and other staff; hired a rock band and bagpipers; hung large printed banners; gave away free alcohol and snacks; handed out other freebies; and brought along an old fire truck as a prop (which brother Randy bought for $4,000 at an auction). There were probably many other expenses too.

Whenever I see these massive Ford crime family events, I wonder who the hell is paying for it all. What political financing laws are being broken? What business expenses and tax refunds are being claimed illegally? How much drug money is being laundered? I doubt the full costs will ever be revealed to the authorities and the public.

In the last Toronto election, more than one third of the [on-the-books] money donated to the Rob Ford mayoral campaign came from outside of Toronto, from people who could not vote in the Toronto election. Many of the people at his April 17 kickoff event do not live in Toronto either. In May, Ford’s first fundraising event for this campaign (a $300-a-plate gala for the rich elites he claims to hate) will be in Vaughan instead of Toronto. A few months ago, wackjob city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (a Ford ally) held an illegal fundraising event in nearby Woodbridge, at which lobbyists and other sleazy operators paid $5,000 per table. This is the kind of backroom corruption that the Fords pretend to oppose, but fully embrace in practice.

Attendees of the Ford kickoff party who spoke to the media displayed low intelligence, pathetic gullibility and almost no sense of reality. They are lost causes who will never be swayed by facts, so the Olivia Chow campaign has to move past them and focus on getting her own supporters to vote in October, and on convincing swing voters to come on board.

Torontonians cannot be complacent. Although polls show Chow in the lead, when one takes into account the margin of error, there is essentially a three-way tie between Chow, Ford and John Tory (Ford-lite). The election is months away and everything is still up for grabs. A Ford or Tory victory would be another win for the rich corporate elites and their cronies. Chow is the only option.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 04/18/2014 - 08:37
Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Robert Kuttner discusses Karl Polanyi's increasingly important critique of unregulated markets and corporatist states. Sarah Kendzior writes about the latest cycle of workers stuck in poverty who are striking back against a system designed to suppress their standard of living. And Michael Rozworski examines the effect of the Cons' temporary foreign worker focus on Canadian workers:
(W)hile food attendants made up 9% of all TFW Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) issued in Canada in 2012, they comprised 17%, or almost double, of TFW LMOs in Alberta, the province that has the tightest labour market. Indeed, in Alberta the top five occupations filled by TFWs are all in services. For a program that is meant to help employers find workers for otherwise impossible-to-fill positions, it seems to be doing quite the opposite: helping employers staff low-wage service occupations that are relatively always in demand. Government documents show as much – Alberta employers were applying for low-level service LMOs in the same jurisdictions where unemployed workers with skills for those occupations were on EI.

Employers are using TFWs to enforce discipline especially at the lower end of the job market. Increasing bifurcation between low- and high-wage jobs means that the effect is potentially all the greater.
Bringing in more TFWs is one more means of ensuring that a tighter labour market does not lead to increased agitation for better pay and better conditions. When unemployment (and the even greater underemployment) starts to fall, the increased use of temporary foreign workers is a means of securing continued economic power. The cruel irony is that temporary foreign workers hoping to counteract the effects of an unequal global distribution of goods and power on their families are being used to help safeguard and enlarge disparities in their new home.

The different rules for temporary foreign workers – their institutionalized precarity – help spread a lighter but still increasing precarity throughout the rest of the lower-wage workforce. This is enough to condemn the TFWP as a policy tool that stacks the hand of employers in broader labour relations.The particular genius of the TFWP, especially as applied to low-wage work, goes further. The TFWP is not only a labour policy tool but, at the same time, an immigration program and, as such, interacts with existing prejudices that limit solidarity along the axis of immigration and race. These work to counteract the potential for solidarity that arises from shared experiences of deteriorating labour conditions. The function of the TFWP on the labour market and on immigration should not be analyzed in isolation. The program lies at a problematic but potentially fruitful intersection of class and immigration – by and large meaning at the intersection of class and race. - Ben Casselman points out that the timing of a job loss has far more to do with one's future prospects than education, occupation or any other factor which could plausibly be tied to merit. And Lisa Wright reports on the trend toward highly unstable work - which can only increase the odds of a single job loss coming at just the wrong time.

- Claudia Calderon Machicado makes a strong business case for fair paid leave and sick leave programs.

- The CCPA offers a series of papers on the role unions can and should play in ensuring economic fairness - and the steps the Cons and similar governments are taking to prevent them from acting.

- Finally, Matt Taibbi highlights the fact that inequality by design isn't limited to income or wealth - as the same justice system which readily throws people in jail for extended periods of time for relatively minor offences has done nothing to address gross criminal behaviour in financial markets.

Nigel Wright & Linda Frum in the Republican wayback machine

Creekside - ven, 04/18/2014 - 07:09
In a week that has featured ...

1) Nigel Wright let off the hook by the RCMP for bribing sitting legislator Senator Mike Duffy in spite of weeks of PMO discussions involving over a dozen senior party officials re buying Duffy's silence,    and 

2) Senator Linda Frum making the most idiotic and widely-mocked attack on Elections Canada over the Fair Elections Act to date, ie  that it is a conflict of interest for Elections Canada to both administer the vote during elections and encourage people to vote between elections, 

... it is fitting that Jay Watts III should dig up a piece of Canadian history that includes both Frum and Wright, as blogged by Brian Busby in a brilliant pair of blogposts that really should be savoured in their own right.

Seems in 1984, a rightwing Republican foundation confirmed it was funding several start-up campus publications in Canada among its 69 across North America. The Institute of Educational Affairs was set up by Irving Kristol, godfather of the US neoconservative movement, his fellow founding PNACer William Bennett, and William Simon, Reaganite, Richard Nixon's treasury secretary and board director of Halliburton Canada - and it bankrolled : 

~ University of Toronto Magazine, founded by Nigel Wright - already working in Muldoon's PMO - and his friend and classmate Tony "Gazebo" Clement, and
~ McGill Magazine and editor Linda Frum, daughter of CBC's Barbara Frum and sister to David "Axis of Evil" Frum
~ Libertas at Queens, run by the son of the CEO at the Bank of Montreal. 
The original Canadian University Press article says 7 other clones of Libertas appeared across Canadian campuses that month, including articles of *unusual access* for campus papers - like an interview with George Bush.

Nigel Wright told the Montreal Gazette at the time that he had "no misgivings about applying for and accepting money from the Republican foundation".
The only advice he could recall receiving from the foundation was a circular "suggesting we publish nothing to do with the John Birch Society." Right-wing paper covertly funded from US , also published as Republicans fund Ontario & Quebec right wing newspapers :
"We were happy to have help and advice from the Americans," said Nigel Wright. In 1982 the IEA and American Spectator, a prominent conservative newspaper, held a seminar for college students interested in starting or maintaining conservative newspapers. More than 40 students attended to hear speakers such as the Spectator's R. Emett Tyrell Jr lecture on taste and strategy. "Don't print Klu Klux Klan literature," Tyrell advised. IEA Executive Director Phillip Marcus suggested: "If someone accuses you of being racist or sexist, accuse them back of McCarthy tactics." One person contacted who attended that conference but asked not to be identified said: "They told me that when I was ready to go ahead publishing, I shouldn't worry about the money. They said they'd take care of that."From such smug little acorns are whole governments sprouted, along with their bent senators and chiefs of staff and covert bribes and Republican-style voter suppression bills.

Slamming Harper Secrecy

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 04/18/2014 - 06:58

The Toronto Star recently revealed the following:

Health Canada is keeping secret the vast majority of the drug reviews it conducts despite a clear promise from the federal minister to publish this critical safety information.

Only 24 of 152 drug reviews completed last year by Health Canada are being considered for public release, the Toronto Star has learned. The drug safety reviews that will be open to the public are those triggered by alarms raised by foreign regulators, medical or scientific literature or Health Canada’s routine monitoring activities.

The main reason? Wholly consistent with the Harper regime's legendary secrecy and the preeminence it accords to all things corporate, is this justification:

The information is classified in part because it was provided “with the understanding that this information is proprietary,” a Health Canada spokeswoman told the Star in an email Wednesday.

In layperson's language, corporate concerns trump citizen safety. Aided and abetted by Health Canada, safety information falls under the rubric of commercial secrets - this despite some well-publicized tragedies that might very well have been avoided had the public had access to vital information about toxicity studies and drug side effects.

As usual, perspicacious Star letter-writers offer their views of this intolerable insult to all who believe that the free flow of information is one of the crucial elements of a healthy democracy:

Ottawa keeps drug reviews under wraps, April 12

The Canadian public is once again being “stonewalled” by the Harper government. The reason that I am calling this the “Harper Government” is the fact that Stephen Harper runs this government like a dictatorship. His ministers are muzzled until Harper approves of what statements they are allowed to make to the media.

He arbitrarily releases information only when he feels like doing so, not when the public has a genuine need to know the details of situations, such as rail safety measures put in place after the disaster in Quebec, and now the federal drug reviews of 151 various medications.
According to Dr. David Juurlink from Sunnybrook Hospital, “These drugs harm people and in some instances they kill people. Frankly, shame on (Ottawa) for even contemplating not publishing them.” The doctor doesn’t realize that in Ottawa there is no shame, only secrecy.

Why all of this secrecy when Ottawa has supposedly made a commitment to being more transparent? This government is as “transparent” as the heavily tinted windows in a motor vehicle.

In 1947, there was a movie starring Danny Kaye, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. This movie was re-made in 2013 with Ben Stiller as the star. In Canada, it could have been made as The Secret Life of Stephen Harper, starring our Prime Minister.

Also, Harper would have been the perfect guest on the 1950s and 1960s TV show I’ve Got A Secret. He has so many secrets that the panel would never guess to which one he was referring.

Warren Dalton, Scarborough

The reason Ottawa keeps drug reviews under wraps is the same reason Transport Canada keeps under wraps the movement of toxic materials through highly populated areas. The “conservative corporate party” in Ottawa is not about to bite the hand that feeds it. Ask yourself: who is damaged by disclosure?

Nicholas Kostiak, Tottenham

Drugs that have been developed under the sole funding of the private sector may, indeed, legitimize claims to exclusive rights to such information. Where the public has funded the research and development of pharmaceuticals, however, the public has a right to the results of such research.

Canadian taxpayers have contributed billions of dollars, under a multitude of programs, to the development of pharmaceuticals. We seem to have forgotten Harper’s Economic Action Plan and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars to the research and development of pharmaceuticals in the year 2009 alone. If you follow the money, you’ll discover that the public has just as many proprietary rights to the much-guarded research.

Those who wish to have exclusive rights to research results, data, analyses, outcomes or reports should also ensure their exclusive funding of such research activity rather than looking to the public purse for support. Until then, we have a right to know exactly what our money has produced.

Stella Kargiannakis, TorontoRecommend this Post

Harperland, the Con Monsters, and the Death of Reason

Montreal Simon - ven, 04/18/2014 - 02:39

Once upon a time Canada seemed like a brighter, better place to me than it does today.

A more hopeful, more optimistic, more decent country.

A country where an opposition MP could write a polite letter to a Minister like this one. (PDF)

And expect to get a reasonable reply.

But this is Harperland, and this is Pierre Poilievre...
Read more »

The House That Ronald Built

Politics and its Discontents - jeu, 04/17/2014 - 07:42
... seems to be undergoing some serious perturbations these days. Earlier in the month came the story of three McDonald's outlets in British Columbia abusing the Harper regime's TFWP (Temporary Foreign Workers Program) by hiring temporary workers instead of available local people and reducing the hours of Canadian employees.

Now comes word from Edmonton of more abuse by the hamburger giant, this time of its temporary workers. CBC News reports the following:

Foreign workers recruited from Belize are accusing McDonald’s Canada of treating them like "slaves," by effectively forcing them to share an expensive apartment – then deducting almost half their take-home pay as rent.

Records from three employees show they made $11 an hour working at various McDonald’s locations and the company took $280 from their pay for rent, bi-weekly. Their remaining take-home pay for the same pay periods was roughly $350.

“[The apartment lease] contracts are signed by McDonald’s. All of our bills – utility bills – were billed [to us] under the name of McDonald’s,” said Montero.

“They brought us here and they are this big huge corporation. We felt that we didn’t have a chance to even voice our opinion to them because they had brought us here so they could ship us back whenever they wanted to," said Montero. "It was like modern day slavery."

You can read the full tawdry tale of corporate malfeasance here, and watch a video report below:

Kind of takes away your appetite for when the next 'Mac attack' happens, doesn't it?Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper -the Portraits

LeDaro - jeu, 04/17/2014 - 07:33
I did a picture of Harper on a horse in front of Parliament, as the leader who is set to conquer the world. Now a Canadian artist has done an interesting portrait of Harper on a horse. It looks good.

Mahshid Farhoudi
This one looks good too.

By Tony Clark
See more portraits here

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 04/17/2014 - 07:21
Here, on the Canadian public's widespread recognition - and worrisome acceptance - that life will be worse for younger generations than for older ones.

For further reading...
- Ipsos-MORI's poll referenced in the column is here.
- The CCPA's feature on post-secondary education costs is here, while Holly Moore reports on it here.
- And I'll again point out the one recent bright spot in post-secondary education policy, as Newfoundland and Labrador are working on eliminating student loans rather than figuring that increasing student debt loads represent a positive development.

The Stench Keeps Getting Stronger

Northern Reflections - jeu, 04/17/2014 - 05:40

Geoff Norquay -- Stephen  Harper's former Director of Communications -- believes that, with the RCMP's decision to drop its investigation of Nigel Wright, the Senate scandal is off the public's radar screen. But Michael Harris asks the question we should all be asking ourselves: "Does the RCMP work for us, or the PMO?"

The stakes are high here for all concerned. The hallmark of the Harper government is the impulse to politicize everything from science to the running of elections. Is justice being added to the list? There is a growing suspicion that the RCMP is now the prime minister’s police force.

The Mounties' decision is of a piece with other actions they have taken:

During the 2011 election, RCMP officers assisted in the ejection of non-Harper supporters from a Conservative rally in London, Ontario. The unwanted attendees had posted pictures of themselves on Facebook attending a non-Conservative rally and had been spotted by organizers of the London event. The Mounties later admitted that tossing the students out “was not in accordance” with the RCMP’s mandate. But it was perfectly in keeping with the Harper Police mandate.

The RCMP also forced down a small plane flying over Ottawa and Gatineau with an anti-Harper sign. The sign was produced by the Public Service Alliance of Canada; 20,000 PSAC members had been slashed from the public payroll by the Harper government. The sign read, ‘Harper Hates Us.’
Vigilant Mounties on the ground ordered the plane to return to Rockcliffe Airport, where the pilot, Gian Ciambella, was told that his sign could be construed as hate speech. He was also told that the Mounties are responsible for the prime minister’s safety.

Despite a fanciful story that Ciambella had flown too close to Parliament, Transport Canada later confirmed that the pilot had never entered restricted airspace. The Harper Police had ordered down a Piper-Super-Cub flown by a pilot towing a sign to make his living — an anti-Harper sign.

The spin is that the RCMP has been tasked with guaranteeing the prime minister's personal security. But it's beginning to look like their job is to ensure Mr. Harper's political security.

The stench from the Harper bunker keeps getting stronger.

This Has Nothing To Do With Canadian Politics

Politics and its Discontents - jeu, 04/17/2014 - 05:17
It is a tale of corporate indifference on the part of Porche, and how the 'little guy' attempts to rectify it:

Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the Canonization of Jimbo Flaherty

Montreal Simon - jeu, 04/17/2014 - 01:43

Well I knew what he was going to do from the moment he announced that Jim Flaherty would have a state funeral, for no good reason.

And then let it be known that he had PERSONALLY written the eulogy he would deliver.

And sure enough he did turn that solemn occasion into yet another giant photo-op for the glorification of HIMSELF. 
Read more »

This is priceless!

Cathie from Canada - mer, 04/16/2014 - 23:04

Rich people are NOT just like the rest of us, only with money.
Sometimes they're just amazingly silly.

Case in point -- Josh Romney sends out a tweet with a photo of his dad, Mitt Romney supposedly standing in a line to mail in his income tax return -- just like the simple folk do!

Josh seemed to think his photo proved some sort of point -- I guess it never occurred to him that just because his dad files a tax return doesn't mean Harry Reid was wrong in saying Romney didn't pay taxes from 2000 to 2010 .  The only thing it proved to me is that Romney is too cheap to have his accountant file electronically.

Cautionary tale

Cathie from Canada - mer, 04/16/2014 - 21:55
Here's what employers supposedly like about temporary foreign workers:
Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, recently told CBC News that many Canadian employers feel that temporary foreign workers have a better work ethic than Canadians and that there are some jobs in some regions that Canadians do not want to do.Better work ethic?  What tripe! Here's what I think employers actually like about those temporary foreign workers - they aren't likely to be talking to a union anytime soon.

Video of Jello Biafra appearing in the satirical comedy show...

The Ranting Canadian - mer, 04/16/2014 - 20:23

Video of Jello Biafra appearing in the satirical comedy show Portlandia.

"Yuppies … Yuppies … Yuppies! … How could people let this happen?"

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine are on tour right now. See:

"I can’t even get my friends to like me." Mark this date:...

The Ranting Canadian - mer, 04/16/2014 - 19:55

"I can’t even get my friends to like me."

Mark this date: April 16, 2014. Disgraced Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper tells the truth for the first time in his political career, as he campaigns at the state funeral of former finance minister Jim Flaherty. The rest of Harper’s speech was full of lies and propaganda, as usual.

Harper should be more like Flaherty (in his current state).

This song is “Crad Kilodney Was Innocent” by the...

The Ranting Canadian - mer, 04/16/2014 - 17:59

This song is “Crad Kilodney Was Innocent” by the Toronto punk band Armed and Hammered, in response to the news that cult author Crad Kilodney has died. He was a unique and eccentric fixture on downtown Toronto streets for many years, selling off-the-wall self-published books on his own. His titles included Pork College, I Chewed Mrs. Ewing’s Raw Guts, Blood Sucking Monkeys from North Tonawanda, and Putrid Scum.

At some point, I acquired a signed copy of one of his little books of short stories, Sex Slaves of the Astro-Mutants, but I must confess I have never cracked it open. Maybe it’s time to take a look.

From CBC Toronto:

"I started out with this idealistic view that the public was reasonably intelligent," he said in a 1992 York University documentary ​on his life. ”I must say, after 14 years on the street I’ve had all of my illusions about the public shattered. …”

Hope and Autism

Feminist Christian - mer, 04/16/2014 - 14:33
I haven't written since late February, and we're in mid-April. It's been a rough couple of months. All three of my kids had birthdays. I was sick. The SEAs all had bouts of illness. Glutened several times. Basically, life got in the way. And besides which, I had books to read, things to crochet, and TV to watch.

And honestly, shit was getting me down. Another birthday for Crackle, come and gone with no language from him. Garbage on the news. Garbage in the government. Garbage, shit, and bullshit. Everything seemed like it was exactly the same, and no improvements anywhere.

And then I snapped, blew a gasket on some people for their crap, unfriended and unfollowed some accounts that I was keeping around in the idea of knowing one's enemy, but was really just using to anger myself. Stupid. So it's gone. Cleared out.

And I'm back, hopefully more regularly, with less serious, more hopeful and hopefully some funny stuff.

On Hope, because I need some, and so do you:
Some people with children like Crackle have no hope for their full recovery. I have hope for Crackle. Why not? I mean, what's the harm in having hope for a full recovery. I don't mind the term, not because I think it's an illness, but because I think it's a social developmental disorder. And it can improve to the point where it's no longer an issue. I know it can. I have friends who have kids who have adapted so well to it that they no longer need therapies, or only remedial, catch-up therapy (like occupational therapy to help develop fine motor coordination, or speech therapy to help improve clarity). Their kids no longer behave autistically. They don't. They just don't. It's fabulous, it's awesome, it's cool, and it's true. I have one of those miracles myself. Oh, he's not quite there, but so close, it's palpable. And yes, 3 years ago, they told me it was hopeless. That there was no chance. He'd probably never talk. He'd never have a friend. He'd never have a meaningful relationship. They were wrong. And what if I'd given up? What if I'd said, "Okay. We'll teach him to cope."? He'd still be an awesome kid. I'd love him with all my heart (like I do Crackle). He'd be an amazing little liner-upper of all the things. Now? He has a friend. He says things like, "Mommy? Is tomorrow Sunday? I want to go to church to play with my friend! He's so much fun! Last week, we played with the cars." He says things like, "Oh Mommy, I love you." and "When I grow up, I'm going to watch Crackle* for you. I will teach him to talk." (Of course, he used his real name).

I remember telling Santa one year, "They're both autistic. Neither can talk. We're just aiming for a picture." This year, Pop went twice, and talked Santa's ear off.

So I said fuck this ABA bullshit, where the aim is to get a compliant child who will do as asked. I went to Son-Rise. I got hope in bunches there. If you can't get there, buy Raun Kaufman's book and watch him on YouTube.

And where did that get me with Crackle? Well, he's happier. I'm happier. He learned to nod his head yes last week. He learned to say "yeah" in the last couple of months (his only word, right now). He eats what I ask him to. He's potty trained (mostly). He's sleeping better. He's screaming less. He's making almost appropriate amounts of eye contact. He's asking to play with us. He takes us to the trampoline to jump with him instead of going out and jumping by himself all the time. He saw a little girl at my chiropractor's office yesterday, and he lit up with a big smile and gave her a hug. It's slower with him, but it's happening, and there's no reason why it can't continue to happen forever until he's no different from any one else.

Why should I give up on my dream of full recovery for him? Because he's awesome now? Of course he's awesome now. He's fucking perfect now. Like an infant or toddler is perfect. We love them exactly as they are in that moment, and continue to teach and hope and love and nurture. We don't say, "Oh, geez. He can't line up those blocks perfectly. I'm going to aim a little lower. Maybe mechanic instead of engineer." So hell fucking no, I'm not giving up my dream of full recovery. I've seen one miracle in Pop. I'm aiming for two. I am embracing their autism, getting into their world, and showing them that mine is pretty cool too.

And I am not judging those who don't believe like I do. Oh goodness no. They believe their child cannot recover. That is completely okay. They're not comfortable hoping for something they believe cannot happen. No one is. And they'll will do great by their kids. They will teach them to cope with autism. They will get the best therapies they can find for them, to help them adjust to the world as best as they can. They've got hope for learned skills, for new talents to shine. They're not without hope. They just doesn't believe, as I do, that their child could ever be indistinguishable from other people. And that is okay.

My Crackle may never get there. He may never learn another skill in his life. It doesn't matter. I love him unconditionally. And I believe that he will someday tell me his every thought. That he will someday have a girlfriend or boyfriend. That he will someday tell people "When I had autism..."


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