Friday, February 29, 2008

There's always another option...
Fri, February 29, 2008
There's always another option
Stephane Dion, recently U-Boated on YouTube, can be trusted on one point: To secure victory he is always ready to retreat.

Rick Mercer notwithstanding, what is the average non-comedian to make of Captain Collapse's latest battle whimper? -- "We'll find a way to not defeat the government and to express our disagreement with this budget."

So just how does one suck while also attempting to blow? By having a handful of Liberals vote against the budget while the rest abstain or stay in bed.

If a confidence vote is at one level the invitation to step outside and settle it in the parking lot, the Grits have signalled time after time that there is nothing on the political landscape worth fighting for, including the Afghanistan mission, the environment, the omnibus crime bill or the economic direction of the country.

I have a suggestion for giving the gutless Grits what they deserve. Who says they are the only government in waiting? There has been another party around since 1961 that has never been trusted to be the government of this country or even the Opposition, though in 1988 the NDP did win 43 seats. My proposal is this: Those hordes of urban voters who just can't stand the Conservatives should try a new option -- the NDP.

I have to laugh when callers to my program inveigh against the very possibility of giving the NDP some real power in Parliament. Most of them want to talk about the disastrous economic consequences of what the "socialists" would do. Without noting the party's commitment to balanced budgets, they talk about the mountains of debt that would pile up.

But wait? Wasn't it the Liberals under Pierre Trudeau who spent the numbers off the national credit card and attempted to breast-feed the nation from cradle to grave? Wasn't it the Conservatives under Brian Mulroney who pushed Canada toward fiscal meltdown in two terms of drop-dead financial profligacy? Never mind what the NDP might do. Think about what the traditional parties have done. By the latest calculations, Canadians are coughing up $18 million a day, every day, to pay the interest on the mountains of debt the so-called "responsible" parties have racked up.

Then there is the "Remember Ontario" refrain, a dour reference to Bob Rae's dubious stewardship of Confederation's former Big Kahuna. Surely because of what Bob Rae did to Ontario, surely the NDP must never be trusted to govern again. People who argue like that almost never want to talk about Roy Romanow, living proof that an NDP government can be every bit as fiscally responsible as anyone else, while still promoting the party's policies and values.

It bears remembering: Those enemies of the Common Sense Revolution may not have liked Mike Harris, but no one suggests that a Conservative must never again run the show at Queen's Park. Quebecers booted out Robert Bourassa with great gusto, then brought him back, and now have another Liberal calling the shots in Quebec City. A poor job rating does not bring eternal banishment to the traditional parties, so why should it to the NDP?

The list of NDP politicians that didn't ruin their provinces by winning power is long and not without some distinction: Dave Barrett, Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark, Alan Blakeney, Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert. Gazooks, even Albertans once voted in the NDP as the official Opposition!

I ask you, is it really that scary to think of Jack

Cadman Controversy goes to RCMP

With the release of a transcript between Steven Harper and reporter Tom Zytaruk in 2005, the ammunition was more than enough for a serious call to the RCMP to investigate possible corruption with the Conservatives.

February 28, 2008
Scratchy tape begins with Harper request: 'This is not for publication'
By Alexander Panetta, THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA - The voice on the scratchy tape is unmistakably Stephen Harper's.

It was as unmistakable as his concern that the tape's contents might one day be made public. Harper interrupted a local reporter in 2005 when asked about allegations his party had offered financial enticements to a dying MP to win his support on a critical vote.

"This is not for publication?" Harper asked Tom Zytaruk.

He was told that the interview was intended as fodder for a biography of Chuck Cadman, the late MP from Surrey, B.C.

But the ensuing two minutes, 21 seconds of audio raise questions about apparent discrepancies between what the prime minister said Thursday and what Harper himself said on the tinny tape more than two years ago.

The prime minister said Thursday he looked into claims Cadman was offered financial considerations and determined they were untrue.

The tape suggests Harper was not only aware of a financial offer to Cadman, but that he gave it the go-ahead, while urging party emissaries not to "press" Cadman too hard.

Harper's conversation with B.C. journalist Tom Zytaruk took place outside the Cadman residence just after Harper paid a courtesy visit to the former MP's widow shortly after his death.

"The offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election," Harper says.

And Harper says of the people who made the offer: "They were legitimately representing the party."

Here's how Harper summarizes his instructions to those party operatives: "I said, 'Don't press (Cadman), I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity, and you know, just, you know, if that's what you're saying make that case,' but I said, 'Don't press it."'

The Liberals have already sent a letter to the RCMP asking for an investigation into whether the entire incident could violate the bribery provisions in Section 119 of the Criminal Code. The Mounties said Thursday they're examining the request.

Harper is clear on the tape that he never expected the overtures to succeed. Cadman did in fact vote to rescue the Martin government.

"I don't know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind."


Transcript of author's tape of Harper sheds light on Cadman case

OTTAWA - Transcript of a portion of author Tom Zytaruk's tape of a 2005 interview with Stephen Harper, then leader of the Opposition, for his biography of the late Chuck Cadman:

Zytaruk: "I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?"

Harper: "I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?"

Zytaruk: "This (inaudible) for the book. Not for the newspaper. This is for the book."

Harper: "Um, I don't know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind, he was going to vote with the Liberals and I knew why and I respected the decision. But they were just, they were convinced there was, there were financial issues. There may or may not have been, but I said that's not, you know, I mean, I, that's not going to change."

Zytaruk: "You said (inaudible) beforehand and stuff? It wasn't even a party guy, or maybe some friends, if it was people actually in the party?"

Harper: "No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don't press him. I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that's what you're saying, make that case but don't press it. I don't think, my view was, my view had been for two or three weeks preceding it, was that Chuck was not going to force an election. I just, we had all kinds of our guys were calling him, and trying to persuade him, I mean, but I just had concluded that's where he stood and respected that."

Zytaruk: "Thank you for that. And when (inaudible)."

Harper: "But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election."

Zytaruk: "Oh, OK."

Harper: "OK? That's my understanding of what they were talking about."

Zytaruk: "But, the thing is, though, you made it clear you weren't big on the idea in the first place?"

Harper: "Well, I just thought Chuck had made up his mind, in my own view ..."

Zytaruk: "Oh, okay. So, it's not like, he's like, (inaudible)."

Harper: "I talked to Chuck myself. I talked to (inaudible). You know, I talked to him, oh, two or three weeks before that, and then several weeks before that. I mean, you know, I kind of had a sense of where he was going."

Zytaruk: "Well, thank you very much."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rick Mercer Report : The New Liberal Party

Rick Mercer Liberal Song

Harper's budget makes wrong choices and ignore families

Stephen Harper's budget fails to address the concerns of local families.

In the Federal election of 2006, Canadians sent a clear message to both the Liberals and the Conservatives that they were tired of corruption and mis-governance. They did this by first turfing the Liberals out of power and by second; giving the Conservatives a minority government.

The Liberals have consistently propped up this Conservative minority government by refusing to vote or by failing to challenge Harper. They are in Harper a majority government!

Canadians are paying Liberal MP's a $141,000.00 salary to stand up and be the Official Opposition. These MP's are doing nothing to make our voices heard or to earn that salary. If it was you or I who was taking money and not performing, we would be fired immediately. THe Liberal corruption continues.

Someone has to say no to Harper!

With Stephan Dion's Liberals siding with Harper's Conservatives, the NDP is the only national party in the House of Commons that is standing up to Harper and making fairness a top priority.

This budget, I call it Lib Lite, continues to place corporate tax giveaways ahead of investing in hard-working families. A tax free saving account is nice IF working families were in a position to save the $5,000.00 per year. Take a look around you and tell me who, in your family or circle of friends can sock away 5K.

The Harper budget fails to address the concerns of all Canadians. There is no money for child care, no new money for housing, no new financing instruments for combating climate change and nothing for skill development.

For all those Liberals out there who are as equally fed up as I am of Dion's lack of action, I know of at least one Party that would welcome you with open arms.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Canadians lose, Dion buckles and Harper wins

Have you been watching this?

Stephen Harper just unveiled a budget where profitable banks and big oil companies win, and average Canadians are clear losers.

Harper’s message to today’s families: “You’re on your own.”

And that’s why only one Party, Jack Layton and the NDP, called on all opposition parties to finally put the brakes on Harper’s failed agenda.

And yet this Conservative budget is going to pass. Yes, you read that right. Once again Harper will push his agenda through Parliament with the help of Stéphane Dion.

This is getting to be a dirty habit for Mr. Dion. Just recently,

  • Harper rewarded his corporate friends with massive tax giveaways while Dion sat on his hands during a key vote;
  • Harper yesterday received Dion’s approval to extend his failed war in Afghanistan (one of the biggest flip-flops in Canadian history);
  • And now Harper has Dion’s consent to pass a budget that puts the priorities of big banks and big polluters ahead of hard-working Canadians.

It’s time that you and I send a message. Mr. Dion, after 3 strikes - you’re out. Average Canadians are looking for leadership that will take on Stephen Harper, not enable him.

I urge each and every one of you to re-examine your voting patterns. Some of you support the NDP Provincially yet vote Liberal Federally. It is time that we all sent a clear message to Dion and Harper!!!

The only option for a voice for Working Families is with Jack Layton. Harper doesn't care and Dion and his team refuse to what they were elected to do. They are completely ineffective and are supporters of Harper's Conservatives.

Brad Wall fails Saskatchewan

Premier Wall has consistantly said that his Government will get more for Saskatchewna than Calvert's did:

“If we are successful we will have done more than any equalization can do […] We need to get specific results for Saskatchewan and that’s my job…”
-Brad Wall, Star Phoenix, January 13, 2008

“Where Mr. Calvert has failed we believe we can be successful.”
-Brad Wall, Star Phoenix, October 12, 2007

Well Mr. Wall, unless I missed something yesterday, I think you were a little off the mark!!

Lorne Calvert also thinks you missed it a tad...

“Brad Wall told the people of this province that his friendly relationship with the Harper Government would mean results for Saskatchewan,” Calvert said. “Since the election, we’ve heard little from Wall on the file. We saw him weakening his stance on equalization and holding a secret meeting with his Conservative friends, which turned into a photo op.”

Calvert noted that while a trust fund for clean coal is a positive development it is a far cry from the $800 million dollars a year, or better, in additional investments and supports that Brad Wall promised to fight for.

“My question for Wall is where is the $800 million worth of roads, bridges and extra programming above what other provinces are getting on a per capita basis that you said you would get for the people of Saskatchewan?” Calvert asked. “Brad Wall said success would be Saskatchewan receiving more than it would under a fair equalization deal. It is clear, by his own definition, that he has failed.

“Brad Wall said he gave up the equalization fight because he could catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but after this budget it’s voters that are left with the sour taste in their mouths.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


New Democrats rejected Stephen Harper’s 2008 Conservative budget as a continuation of an agenda that’s failing working families and the middle-class in Canada.

“A budget is where you set priorities,” said NDP Leader Jack Layton. “And this prime minister has again placed corporate tax giveaways ahead of investing in hard-working families.”

With uncertain economic times ahead, the Harper agenda has ensured corporations will be paying less than their fair share for government services, while hard-working Canadians will pick up the additional costs. Under the Harper agenda, revenues from personal income taxes will grow by 12%, while income from corporate profits will decline by 14% due to the massive corporate tax cuts.

For every one dollar the 2008 Harper budget allocates in new spending, it spends six dollars in corporate tax giveaways,” said Layton. “Yet this budget fails to train a single doctor, make a single prescription drug more affordable or build a single unit of affordable housing.”

At a time when our health care system is in crisis, this government has now officially abandoned its promise to reduce wait times by allocating no money to the initiative whatsoever,” said Layton.

The NDP noted that the Harper agenda gives profitable corporations multi-year commitments for tax cuts, while aboriginal communities, transit initiatives and research have to get by with temporary commitments and one-offs.

NDP Finance Critic Thomas Mulcair (Outremont) said the Harper budget continues an agenda that picks winners and losers. “The winners today are the banks, the big polluters and the well-off. Meanwhile, hard-working Canadians lose out,” said Mulcair.

“After years of unprecedented federal surpluses, this should have been an era of significant investment where the gap between the rich and the rest was closed,” said Mulcair. “The three Harper budgets, supported by the Bloc and now the Liberals, have turned out to be a tragic lost opportunity.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

Confidence votes begin two days after budget

From the Ottawa Sun:

OTTAWA–Election speculation continues in Ottawa with news that the first vote on the budget will be on Feb. 28, just 48 hours after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers it.

"The next cornerstone priority that the government will focus on is Budget 2008, which will be tabled Feb. 26, 2008," Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan told the Commons.

"The first day of debate on the budget will be Wednesday, Feb. 27 – the day after the budget – and the second day of debate (and the first vote) will be Thursday, Feb. 28," Van Loan said.

The first confidence test will be a vote on a Bloc Québécois sub-amendment to the budget, followed by a confidence vote on a Liberal amendment and on the final budget vote itself.

The government hasn't said when it will schedule those votes.

Budget votes will be watched very closely because they are a matter of confidence. If the Liberals, NDP and Bloc decide they can't support the minority Conservative government's budget, Canadians could be going to the polls as early as April 7.

While it has been reported by party sources that Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is ready to pull the plug on the government, some veterans are telling him to hold his fire.

"(Dion) has always maintained that he's got to see the budget, for one thing. He's not going to say he is taking the government down on a budget he hasn't seen," said Liberal spokesperson Mark Dunn.

"That would be totally irresponsible.

"After he sees the budget, he is going to have to consult with people," Dunn said, adding the party will hold its regular caucus meeting the day after the budget.

Van Loan said beside the various budget votes, Parliament could be looking at two other confidence tests around that time.

Van Loan announced that debate on a motion to extend Canada's mission in Afghanistan will begin Feb. 25. The Conservatives have made it a confidence vote so it, too, could trigger an election.

"Before the budget, we will continue to work on the common ground that has been built on the Afghanistan mission," Van Loan told MPs.

The Tories refused to say when they will vote on the Afghanistan mission – although they have set the stage for one following two days of debate on Feb. 25 and 26.

Dion is still holding his cards close to his chest regarding the timing of precipitating a possible election.

"I want to say to the Canadian people – I always say the same in public and in private – two things. ... The first thing is that we will choose our time. The second thing is that we need to be ready at any time," he told reporters.

"For the ones (in my party) that insist on the first (part) of my sentence, I insist on the second part."

NDP Leader Jack Layton urged the government to hold the vote on Afghanistan before the one on the budget.

Layton wants to see the Liberals voting alongside the Conservatives so he can wage an election campaign presenting his NDP as the only anti-war national party.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

PM makes 'em gag

This ran in the Ottawa Sun yesterday:

PM makes 'em gag

Harperites muzzle opposition beyond Parliament Hill


Over at super-Steve's fun emporium, the prime minister and his advisers are merrily passing their days playing whack-a-critic, offing heads of federal agencies who dare to doubt The Conservative Way.

It started just after the last election -- first it was out with the pinko-commie law reformers, then the nagging women's advocates, escalating in recent weeks to the federal nuclear regulator and the entire office of the national science adviser.

Meanwhile, over at the Canadian Wheat Board, it seems, any day is a beautiful day for an execution.

First, the Harperites mowed down board president Adrian Measner, a 34-year-veteran of the board.

Last week, the Conservative plow got the board's VP of communications, Deanna Allen, the agency's official spokesperson and frequent public face.

The sin of both execs, apparently, was not championing the Harper government's proposed legislation to end the wheat board's monopoly on grain marketing -- so-called Bill C-39 -- a move that the farmers' union and other critics claim would effectively kill the agency altogether.

We don't pretend to understand all the minutia of the great grain debate, but even we can comprehend Measner's concern expressed at the time of his firing: "If you aren't free to speak out, what kind of country do we have?"

Predictably, Harper's speak-no-evil style of governance is beginning to leach beyond the federal executive suites into the working bureaucracy.

A recent memo from the Canadian Grain Commission's director of human resources to rank-and-file public servants, for instance, sent a clear message: In Stephen Harper's wonderful world of open and accountable government, having an independent mind and mouth risks not having a job.

Seems one of the major federal public service unions has been encouraging its members at the commission to write to their MPs, opposing Bill C-39 killing federal control of grain sales.

A subsequent e-mail from management, approved at the highest levels of the Harper administration, warned in part: "You are free to convey your views to your Member of Parliament, so long as you do not criticize the Government of Canada, or otherwise bring into question your ability to perform your employment duties."

Translation: As long as you agree with Harper, by all means write and tell your MP. Otherwise, best not leave your office as a return address on the letter.

The muzzle doesn't stop there.

Even letters to the editor that may be critical of The Conservative Truth are apparently out.

"If you identify yourself as a Canadian Grain Commission employee in a letter to the editor that criticizes government policy relating to (the commission), you could create a perception that your views of government policy are not impartial, and that you may not be able to follow or apply government policy in an impartial manner."

Translation: By all means write to the paper, and be sure to check the want ads for your next job opportunity.

On the web

Finally, for those who think the Internet is the ultimate forum for free speech, here is the Harper government's official position on that subject.

"We would like to remind you that inappropriate behaviour by employees on websites, blogs and public fora (newspapers and meetings, etc.) could result in administrative and/or disciplinary action.

"We encourage you to consult your manager should you need further clarification and guidance."

Translation: Criticize the Harper government's wheat policy, and you're toast.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Firings continue.......

Harper and the Conservatives continue to fire and eliminate anyone who stands in opposition to him. The firing of a top Canadian Wheat Board official late last week is one more example of the Conservative government's heavy-handed attempts to silence its critics.