A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Special Forces for National 'Emergency’s'

Call me paranoid, perhaps I have been following Harpers attacks upon our democracy too long, but I fail to understand why we need to expand our 'Special Forces' (at an annual cost of $50 million) “to respond to varied, and sometimes multiple, national and international emergencies." We do have almost 2000 of these specially trained combat solders on our payroll already and we hardly need special military training to respond to 'national emergency’s' like floods, forest fires, or ice storms, not that our federal government has been quick to offer that kind of help in the past. Are our police and emergency services so underfunded that we need 'special forces' deployed within our borders/

Conservative candidate Jason Kenney says a re-elected Conservative government will expand the ranks of Canada's special forces by 35 per cent over the next seven years.
"A re-elected Conservative government will provide the Canadian Armed Forces with an expanded Special Forces capability “

Should the Conservatives get reelected or be in a minority position and ignore a vote of non confidence perhaps they will need a fast reaction force to subdue the thousands of citizens that will object to living in a police state.

The Canadian Armed Forces Special Operations Command (CANSOFCOM) is currently composed of five main units made up of just over 1,900 personnel. The government is looking to add some 665 members by 2022.
The plan would cost about $75 million over the next four years. The Conservatives would commit $10 million in 2016-17, increasing to $30 million in 2019-20. When the expansion is complete, it would cost the government about $50 million per year to maintain.

Naturaly the Minister continues to insist that we are under imminent danger of attack by those 'terrorists' who are flooding across our borders past our secure border agents with those dreaded refugee immigrants!

"Expansion of the Special Forces units will ensure that our Armed Forces are prepared to respond to the terror threat posed by groups such as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)," Kenney said.
.....and help us keep those home built democratic zealots in line.......

Bottom line I can think of MANY better uses for 50 million a year, even within military budgets! But Harper seems determined to make war not peace with his aggressive stance on almost anything and with the current state of our military equipment perhaps he sees the best use of our military to enforce his domestic policies because he sure is not doing much to enhance our reputation overseas. An internal Foreign Affairs briefing document stamped "Secret" warns that "despite Canada's reputation as an active player on the world stage, by many measures, its relative influence has declined or is under threat." -

A venerable collection of Canada’s foreign affairs community released a series of scathing essays slamming the government’s disengagement from the ‘community of nations.’  The essays, published Sept 2014 by the World Federalist movement, a non-profit research organization that studies and advocates for global governance reforms and democratization.  The University of Ottawa’s John Trent, who edited the project, says that the Harper government’s foreign policy positions have been starkly different than any other government in Canadian history.

While Canada once contributed as many as 3,000 military personnel to peacekeeping, it currently provides only 34 – not enough to fill a school bus. While the United Nations currently (July 2014) deploys an all-time high of over 80,000 military personnel in the field, Canada has kept its numbers at historical lows since 2006.
Walter Dorn from the Canadian Military College

The reality is that the present government openly and with forethought doesn’t want to engage with the UN in any meaningful way. In fact, it’s not particularly interested in any kind of multilateral, collaborative, ‘internationalist’ engagement.
Former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy

But then $50 million is a paltry amount compared with what he wants to spend on those useless and untested F35s.........

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Harper History – Conclusion, Index

It is all but impossible to cover all the things that the Harper Regime has done to diminish our democratic institutions or the contempt that he has shown for democratic conventions in a few paragraphs. From the shutting down of parliament to suit his political purposes to instructing committee chairs on how to disrupt or delay proceedings, from not permitting any government employee or spokesman to say a word with express approval from his censors in the PMO, from his refusal to answer any but 'approved' questions from the press (and only three per carefully controlled 'photo opp” at that) to his gradual gutting of any meaningful oversight of government operations there are simply too many hits to summarize.

Nor have I covered, except in passing, the ideological misuse of public moneys under the banner of The Economic Action Plan whilst at the same time preaching fiscal restraint and instituting cuts to departments and programs in a highly selective manner. That said cuts were primarily focused upon womens programs, scientific endeavours and environmental protections and that expenditures were increased within the PMO, in particular for public 'advertising' should clearly indicate this regimes priorities. Add to this the cuts to the mandate for both Elections Canada and Statistics Canada but the increased funding for Revenue Canada to go after registered charities (but not rich tax evaders) who may have expressed a view contrary to the PMO issued spin and you begin to see how dangerous and frightening further unlimited control of our countries purse strings and Parliament by this regime would be.

In my Harper History Series I have over the last six months attempted to list the lowlights of this regime which particularly focus upon the hits to our democracy, I have made NO attempt to cover other areas in which, in my view, they have show disregard for the less than fortunate or financially challenged Canadians, nor have I spoken of foreign policy’s that have reduced our once highly respected country to a shadow of its former self in the eyes of all but one particular middle east regime. Or of the 'free trade' negotiations that would give foreign corporations the right to sue local governments who would give priority to Canadian employers in their contracts. To even attempt to touch upon these thing would require many hours a day simply to keep up with the ongoing disregard this lot has for all but the rich and powerful (and perhaps the gullible), I can only refer you to my series “The Harper History” (this being the last post in that endeavour) which attempts to list, in chronological order, those things that they have done to centralize power, minimize the influence of our elected representatives, eliminate oversight and keep the electorate from seeing what they are doing.

What has been done is bad enough, the manner of its being done and the ever increasing secrecy surrounding those decisions is far more troubling and when coupled with the abuse of parliamentary procedures, including the use of massive omnibus bills, it is clear that the Harper Regieme had no respect for our democracy but has been rapidly moving us towards a defacto dictatorship. Democracy is much more than having the ability to select your dictator every few years, let us take care to elect individuals who do not subscribe to that view.

To make it easier for those who care to wade through this depressing but alarming list I have combined all 11 posts in two long documents, one covering the regimes anti-democratic actions prior to the 2011 election ((19 pages - 7900 words) and one covering the period from 2011 to the present when they held a majority ( 27 pages - 10,230 words) which can be downloaded or viewed HERE and HERE or you can see all the post individually (in reverse order) by clicking on the 'Harper History' icon on the top right of this blog page.

What follows is an index to the various sections with a direct link to each. Please feel free to share or distribute these pages as you see fit, an acknowledgement of the source would be appreciated.

Harper History, Part 1 - The Early Years

Harper History, Part 2 – In Opposition
June 2004 – Jan 2006
Harper History, Part 3 - First Con Minority

Jan 2006 – Sept 2008

Harper History, Part 4 - Con Minority, Prorogued x2

Oct 2008 – Dec 2009,
Harper History, Part 5A - Information witheld , Omnibus Budget
Mar 2010 – June 2010
Harper History, Part 5B - G20, Census Axed, Contempt.
June 2010 – Mar 2011
Harper History, Part 6A - Con Majority - Election Fraud
Spring 2011 & Subsequent Fallout
Harper History, Part 6B – Budget Reintroduced - More Secrecy
May 2011 – summer 2012
Harper History, Part 7 – Suppressed Information – Advertising Overload
2012 – 2013
Harper History, Part 8 – Senate reform / suspensions, Election Act
2013 – 2014
Harper History, Part 9 – Omnibus budget, Anti-terrorist bill, Election call.
Summer 2014 – Aug 2nd 2015

At this point I can do no more than leave you with the following summation of Stephen Harper and his Regime and hope that my series has opened a few eyes.

Since he has taken hold of the Prime Minister’s crown, a rot has infected our Parliamentary democracy. This offends and fills me with disquietude. It should you, as well. As an elected member of parliament and as prime minister, he has defiled the office he holds, tainting the reputation of Canada and, with the assist of loud, angry, offensive, and ignorant conservative MPs, subverted and made a mockery of our electoral process. Though cited for contempt of Parliament, Harper has remained unscathed, unrepentant and the public largely indifferent. That he has a base of support as large as it is astounds me. How can so many be so blind, so indifferent, so…so dumb? “
Frank A. Pelaschuk in Harper: The Beast

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Electoral Reform in our Future?

With all parties except the Cons promising electoral reform and with what appears to be a lot of support for such a change we must look at exactly what is being promised to help us chose our next government in what looks like will be a minority government. Both the system and the manner of its inception vary from party to party, Mulclair would impose his choice of voting system upon us, Trudeau would have an all party committee study the options and make recommendations as would the Greens.

Specifically under the NDP’s preferred MMP system (a voter) first ticks which candidate she wishes to become the local constituency MP (in a First Past the Post selection method) —as voters currently do. But she then has a second vote. On the ballot, they then turn to a regional list of names (selected by the Partys) presented for election by the party where they can then decide to tick the party name alone (and thereby accept the existing order of the names on the list) or tick the name of a person on the list whom she wants to see go to the House of Commons ahead of others on the list.

The Liberals prefer, but are not necessary promising, a Preferential Ballot system wherein you place the local candidates in order of preference and you second and subsequent choices are taken into account in selecting your MP. The Greens say they will determine the form of proportional representation best suited to Canada through extensive public consultation by an all-party committee.

Whilst many citizens support “proportional representation” there is far from agreement as to what system would be best for Canada, indeed I wonder how many citizens really understand the wide array of systems available under this heading and how each of them actually works. Many will have heard of Mixed Member Proportional or Party List, Preferential Ballot, also known as Alternative Vote and Single Transferable Vote (similar to AV but with multi-seat constituencies) but may not realize that each of these systems have numerous ways in which they are implemented within these broad categories. The MMP in particular in addition to voting directly for the Party of you choice can present you with a list of individuals ranging from a number of 'district' candidates to lists of candidates from across the country chosen by the party, it all depends upon the way in which the 'proportional' bit is implemented.

It is insufficient to say I support this or that voting system with out knowing the exact details of the proposed implementation. Having previously supported a form of MMP I now, after studying the systems and considering the implications for several years, lean towards the Preferential Ballot system wherein you place the local candidates in order of preference and you second and subsequent choices are taken into account in selecting your MP. This still keeps all the candidates representing your riding, allows you to vote for perhaps the candidate you prefer as #1 and the candidate for the party you like as #2 (or visa versa) and even if you do not get your first choice you may well get your second
Additionally it would seem to make those dreaded polls which have become so influential because of first past the post wins all, both locally and nationally, all but useless or at least much less reliable which is probably a good thing.

Some say that AV is not truly a proportional system as it does not take into account the overall popular vote in selecting the PARTY that receives power, I would suggest that by taking into account folks second and third votes (should they wish to make such) there would be far less citizens opposed to the result. It retains true local representation and does not present voters with a list of candidates who do not live in their local riding and are uncountable to them. Let us not forget that with the diverse population counts across our country true government by proportional representation would leave some areas with hardly any say in their own federal representation.

I do hope we will get the chance to select one of the more progressive systems in the next couple of years or at a minimum that all such choices be thoroughly discussed and considered before implementation. It will not be an easy process but let us at least approach it with our eyes open and a full understanding of the various alternatives. Personalty I am increasing concerned with the practicalities of an MMP system and would prefer, at least initially, the much more simple preferential vote or AV, no matter which “proportional” system is adopted the allocation of the balloting will be more complex and results will take longer to be known unless ballots are tabulated by machine and computerized.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ottawa’s war on data

Macleans recently published an article outlining the failure of the Harper regime to not only collect information on the true state of Canada's citys, towns and villages and economy but failure to KEEP historical data. Whilst touting better access to information by digatalizing information and 'centralizing' and combining various websites the precise opposite has been happening. Much historical information both in print and online has been destroyed in the name of 'efficiency' and 'cost savings' to the point where authors of scientific, social and financial papers cannot even access their own work let alone find new data to counter or confirm assertions by the various political spinmasters.

The article is a long one and clearly lays out how vulnerable we and our democracy are to to such historical revisionism and information suppression and I will not attempt to summarize it here but simply publish a few 'teasers from the piece and urge you to go read it all.

The Census
According to Sask Trends Monitor, the high non-response rate in the province resulted in “no socioeconomic statistics about the populations in about one-half of Saskatchewan communities.” Nationally, we’re missing similar data on 20 per cent of StatsCan’s 4,556 “census subdivisions,” making a fifth of Canada’s recognized communities statistical dead zones.

Lost Data
Physicist Raymond Hoff, who published more than 50 reports on air pollution in transport and toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes—including pioneering work on acid rain—at Environment Canada between 1975 and 1999, doesn’t seem to exist, either. “Nothing comes up when I type my name into the search engine on [Environment Canada’s] website,” says Hoff, now a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland. Also gone are internal reports on the oil sands experiments of the 1970s. “That research was paid for by the taxpayer. Now, the people who need to protect Canada’s environment can’t get access.”

Destroyed Data
Protecting Canadians’ access to data is why Sam-Chin Li, a government information librarian at the University of Toronto, worked late into the night with colleagues in February 2013, frantically trying to archive the federal Aboriginal Canada portal before it disappeared on Feb. 12. The decision to kill the site, which had thousands of links to resources for Aboriginal people, had been announced quietly weeks before; the librarians had only days to train with web-harvesting software.

That Centralized website
The need for such efforts (to privately save data) has taken on new urgency since 2014, says Li, when some 1,500 websites were centralized into one, with more than 60 per cent of content shed. Now that reporting has switched from print to digital only, government information can be altered or deleted without notice, she says.

Accountability & decision making
Isla Jordan and Ulla de Stricker describe a country “without access to large parts of its institutional memory, and leaders without access to the information needed for strategic decision-making.” Toni Samek, a professor at the school of library and information studies at the University of Alberta, puts it more succinctly. Canada is facing a “national amnesia,” she says, a condition that will block its ability to keep government accountable, remember its past and plan its future.

Garbage in, garbage out
Voluntary surveys also create biased data, says Sheikh: Response rates from the very rich, the very poor, rural areas, immigrants and Aboriginal communities tend to be far lower—so these groups are not well-represented. “People who do not respond well to a voluntary survey are the very people social policy tries to help,” he says. “So if you were to base policy on data received, you’d say, ‘Gee, we don’t have a poverty problem in this country.’ ”

Financial comparisons lost
Gordon expresses alarm that 20 years of data history between 1960 and 1980 vanished in 2012 due to changes in the way national accounts, GDP and other data were compiled: “It’s now impossible to have a clear picture of the Canadian economy since the Second World War,”

Operating in the dark
Government, too, is operating in the dark, as evidenced last year when StatsCan was unable to provide auditor general Michael Ferguson with job data during the contentious debate over proposed reforms of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The Department of Finance was relying on data from the online classified service Kijiji to back its position.

As a result, economic decision-making is compromised, as a July ScotiaBank report points out. It claimed it would be “ill-advised” for the Bank of Canada to make rate-cut decisions based on StatsCan data, because it’s “stale”:

The vanishing of Canada has created a counterinsurgency—scientists, researchers, economists, civil rights groups, librarians and artists marshalling resources and their own time to monitor, expose, protest and create a new literature of knowledge loss. Li, for one, has taken preservation of national records into private hands by spearheading an effort with universities across the country dubbed LOCKSS—“Lots of copies, keep stuff safe”—to archive federal websites, an exercise not unlike trapping fireflies in a jar: “Without that or a print record, there’s no way of tracking change.”

Bottom line, if you find data on a government website that reflects poorly on the Harper regime or positively on former non conservative governments save it for it may be gone tomorrow. If you want information on the environment, scientific research, the state of the economy past or present etc etc, you had best rely upon private sources, for much of the data on government websites is now unreliable or missing!

A tip of the hat to Montreal Simon for this one

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Be Prepared, Voter Identification

Much has been made of late of the removal of the voter card as a piece of identification, there was even a court case in Ontario to challenge the provision which was rejected. Frankly I believe the rhetoric that this change will disenfranchise some voters is a little overdone, it is the assumption that if you have received a card that’s all you need to vote that is the problem. You still need to positively identify yourself by other means, if you received the card by mail it is highly improbable that you don’t have some kind of addressed mail / bills etc that is acceptable as proof of residence.

A far greater impediment to voting, particularly in rural Canada, is that if the address on your drivers licence or other ID does not match that on the voters list (and thus you card if you got one) you may have difficulty. If you drivers licence still says RR something but the voters list says 123456 This Road then you could have a problem if you leave things to voting day. Even errors in the list that puts you to the other side of the street and thus sends you to a different poll location can really throw a spanner in the works, you MUST be registered with Elections Canada to vote. On voting day you MUST vote at the right polling station, at advanced polls and at Elections Canada offices prior to that there is much more flexibility.

There are several ways to both check and correct such errors and it is not unreasonable to ask voters to do so if they suspect the voter list is incorrect, or they have moved recently, they are just now old enough to vote or they are away at school for an extended period. The thing is they must be aware that they need to do so and that is what this post is about.

The Elections Canada web site detailing all the information required was updated in late June and clearly answers just about every question you may have but there are a few wrinkles that are not immediately obvious and not generally included in the discussions about who can and cannot vote and what they need to know to do so. I will try and cover some of those things here but please check the imbedded links for the details.

  1. Your mailing address and your residential address are not necessary the same, you may use either one but your ID must match the address on the voters list (and thus the voters card). Your drivers licence with a different address can be used to establish you identity but you then need a separate piece of approved documentation to establish your address. http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=vot&dir=ids&document=index&lang=e

  1. If you do not receive a card, the address does not match the ID that you can provide, you are going to be away from home either temporarily or longer, you just have to make some arrangements ahead of time. This is not unreasonable, if you want to vote and have a say in Canada's future get off your arse and make sure you can do so. Here is how! http://www.elections.ca/content2.aspx?section=id&document=index&lang=e

Elections Canada sends a voter information card by mail to each registered voter. It should arrive between September 28 and October 2. The voter information card gives the hours and address of your advance polling place, election day polling place and local Elections Canada office.
You may correct the Elections Canada voter listings to agree with you ID, (AND vote by special ballot whilst doing so), by visiting any of 400 Elections Canada offices before the deadline of Tuesday, October 13 at 6:00 p.m. (local time). Offices are open Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bring your proof of identity and address. You can vote by mail but need to apply for a special ballot voting kit as soon as possible, to allow time for your voting kit to reach you and for your marked ballot to reach Elections Canada by election day.
The deadline to apply to vote by mail is Tuesday, October 13 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time for anyone applying online or sending their application to Elections Canada in Ottawa.
You may vote by special ballot at any Elections Canada office at any time prior to the election, be sure to have the name and correct spelling of your preferred candidates name when doing so as the 'special ballot' is not preprinted with the candidates name and the office may not have an up to date list!
You can find the Elections Canada office nearest you on the internet or call Election Canada at 1-800-463-6868
When you vote at an Elections Canada office or by mail, you must use a special ballot voting kit.
In all cases, the elector must have a civic address for his or her place of ordinary residence in Canada, for electoral purposes. The elector's vote will be counted for that electoral district.

If you're not sure what address E.C. has on file, check your voter registration here.
If you need more help with voter registration, contact them here.

  1. If you are unable to probuce any ID showing your current address you may take an oath
    Show two pieces of ID with your name and have someone who knows you attest to your address. This person must show proof of his or her identity and address, be registered in the same polling division, and can only attest for only one person. The identity of a person without documentation cannot be vouched for only his or her civic address!

Those living in residence or in a home with a roommate off campus may have difficulty because some of the bills may not be in their name. In situations like that students can get a letter of  confirmation of residence from their student residence. The same could apply for someone staying in a shelter or senior’s residence or living on reserve. These forms can be found online at www.elections.ca or by visiting a local election office.

I am told by someone who recently took poll clerk training that should you turn up at a poll with address information that does not match the listings or when you are not on the list then you will NOT be turned away but added to the list and asked to swear that you have not voted elsewhere.

Remember under the new (un)Fair Elections Act, Elections Canada can tell you where and how to vote but cannot advertise or otherwise encourage you, or our under represented youth or native population, to get out to vote. So bloggers let us take up the challenge and do all we can to get everyone to have their say on Canada's future.

Election date is Oct 19th

NOTE For local information about offices and candidates in Bruce-Grey Owen Sound please see the copy of this post at The Rural Canadian Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

Friday, September 18, 2015

Looking Through the Peephole: Harpers Campaign

A guest post by Pamela Mac Neil
The MSM and the opposition has given Harper another pass. What would it take for them to call him on his dictatorial, undemocratic behaviour? This behaviour is now being done in front of all Canadians. This behaviour also doesn't bother the CBC, as they give him full exposure at all of his rigged campaign stops. A PM who only lets Canadians who are from his base into his campaign stops is a tyrant. The exclusion of 2/3rds of Canadians from attending these campaign stops is nothing short of dictatorial. This is what autocrats do in dictatorships. Why is he not challenged about this? He is like a man who wants the job of a CEO of a company and only attends one interview ignoring the other 3 preset interviews and still expects to be offered the job. Joe Clarke said there has never, ever been a PM in the history of Canada like Harper, who does not govern for the WHOLE of the country, but instead governs a select 1/3, who are in fact his base and now in an Election he's also campaigning only to that base. The MSM analyzing his campaign strategy and what subjects he will focus on is ludicrous. How can they even take him seriously. His invitation only campaign is the elephant in the room that no one will talk about. He is literally hiding from Canadians.When he governed, or more precisely ruled he did it in secrecy for the most part. Now in his campaigning, he is STILL hiding. Harper never competes on a level playing field. He is still controlling the message.

If he had been governing/ruling during the Duffy trial and during the refugee crisis, we probably would not have seen or heard from him at all. He certainly wouldn't have given a press conference. Because he was campaigning we did get to see and hear him if only for short periods. His comments on the Duffy trial and the refugee crisis came across as lying and as disengenuous. So even though we heard him at short intervals Canadians got to see how deceitful and inept he really is. He constantly fumbled in his answers. Can you imagine if he had been campaigning in front of the WHOLE country. Also, it was hard to watch and listen to him in his interview with Peter Mansbridge. His continuous lying throughout the interview was very apparent. His "I'm not perfect" pitch was meant for Canadians to think of him as this honest, humble guy. Every piece of communication with him is meant to manipulate the listener. Outside of that choreographed communication, he not only is not comfortable, he simply repeats his answer over and over again, reflecting his anxiety of having to speak off the cuff. When he speaks to his base at his choreographed, invitation only campaign stops, it feels like he is trying to put one over on the rest of Canada, as if to say the other 2/3rds of Canadians are not part of this event, they don't count, you are the ones who have my full attention, you are the special ones and his base agrees with him. It's like he wants to get re-elected by sneaking in the back door. If ever there was a prime example of Stephen Harpers cowardly, duplicious and dictatorial character it is his invitation only campaign. Everything that it says to the Canadian majority is an effrontery. It's like he's going across the country in a 'travelling closet.'

Have no doubt, he is sending a clear message to the Canadian majority. He is saying you mean 0 to me. I will govern/rule the way I want and for whom I want. This government and country is not yours, it is mine to do with how I wish. I don't need you to stay in power, and after all it is only power that I want and my base will give it to me. Harper always thinks that he does not have to play by the rules in anything and everything he does and that includes doing whatever it takes to stay in power. He has not been held to account by the MSM for his 9 yrs of rule and their not going to hold him to account now. What about talking about Harpers track record, if at least in the last 4 yrs? Nothing. Silence, as he blathers on about his strong economic management. Even people who don't know economics 101, know that he has been an economic disaster. This or any other part of his track record is not addressed , which I find very strange. Actually I find the whole thing strange . Harper in his bubble singing only to the choir, while the rest of Canada looks on. His base not only goes along with this, but they think it's okay that he only speaks to them. They see nothing wrong with PM of Canada selecting only 1/3rd of Canadians to talk to. They even get offended when a reporter asks Harper a question that the other uninvited 2/3rds of Canadians may want an answer to. It says much about their character that they would be subservient to Harper and besides they feel priviledged that they are the chosen ones.
A peephole is defined as " A small hole that may be looked through, especially one in a door through which visitors may be identified before the door is opened." Ever the tyrant, if Harper gets 4 more years even the Peephole will be gone.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Party Platforms, some thoughts!

If the choice is between fixing the hole in the roof and remortgaging the house then the choice is obvious, particularly with the interest rates so low. Throwing a tarp over it and putting a bucket under the drips is not a long term viable solution, that for so many of us finding a job to even purchase a tarp is a major problem simply highlights the position we are in both individually and as a country. If the roof has been leaking for some time and just moving the buckets around as needed was the solution chosen then simply doing more of the same is equally illogical. When your accountant then proposes that you go out and buy a shiny new Caddy with the money you did not know you had, saved by not fixing the roof, would you rehire him!

With Harper promising billions in funding for various projects across the country despite the numbers that put us in recession whilst at the same time saying that there is / will be a surplus of income over spending is troubling enough but that Mulclair is echoing that scenario is bizarre. Anyone who thinks that the books will be shown to be in the black when the 'new' government is sworn in must be drinking more than coolaid and to promise that all the goodies being proposed can then be paid for without substantial new income is a fantasy. The fantasy includes the recently announced $1.9-billion surplus for 2014-15, a $4 billion jump from the announced deficit just a few months ago and revealed just a month before the election....are you kidding?. The deficit still exists even if only in unfulfilled promises and programs! Of course close examination of many of the promises reveal that the amounts flaunted are to be trickled out over several years, in some cases even decades, and thus can be reduced, redirected or cancelled as required. It is the promise of big bucks for this or that that gets the attention of far too many voters.

It is understandable that all the partys (except the Greens) are reluctant to talk about minority and / or coalition government, they all want the power to pass legislation of their choice without having to 'comprise' by 'cooperating' with those damned folk from other partys who have been elected by their constituents to represent then in our search for a better Canada. We have seen what majority government has brought about, and it has not been pretty, whilst the Cons have been particularly destructive of process and ideologically rigid I suspect any party with a majority will not embrace 'comprise' and 'cooperation' which to my mind is what we need to move forward.

I will be very surprised if we are not in a minority situation come October and that will at a minimum require two or more partys to work together to undo the Havoc that Harper has wrought be it on a case by case basis or on a more formal agreement. I applaud Elizabeth May's efforts to get a conversation started about this possibility (probability?) BEFORE we find ourselves in another constitutional crisis. We cannot forget that despite Harper & Mulclair having said they will not appoint senators and that they want to abolish it, it still is part of our parliamentary process and legislation must be passed in the senate before becoming law. That as it sits now it is a body dominated by Conservative appointees who can be counted upon to oppose just about anything that does not fit their view of the world will be difficult enough without adding further dis-functionality to that body by calling in to doubt its legitimacy.

All the opposition partys are promising to move towards election reform, the Libs say they will introduce a new voting system in time for the 2019 election, are leaning towards a preferential voting system but will form a committee to study it first. The NDP say that they will impose a Mixed Member Proportional system and the Greens have long advocated for change and say that they will “establish an all-party Democratic Voting Commission to review past research and conduct a public consultation on the style of proportional representation best suited to Canada.” With even those of us who strongly flavor electoral reform unable to agree on which of the several systems and variations of same is the best option this one is going to be difficult for all concerned. Then there is parliamentary reform, the return to following the traditional rules and strengthening the system so it cannot be abused as it has been in recent years. Little has been said about that by the partys, they are all too busy trying to GET power rather than restrict and share it!

Finally, little has been said about reinstating our scientific research, Census Canada data collecting, environmental protections, search and rescue capability, social support mechanisms etc etc etc gutted by the Con Regime. These things will all take time and money and require a vibrant “economy” with folks able to finds jobs and pay taxes, stopping the exodus of corporations to other jurisdictions and ensuring those that do stay pay their fair share. In short we need a leader and a government that instills confidence in Canada both internally and overseas, are any of the partys going to provide this dramatic change so desperately needed? Frankly I see a few glimmers of light but still await the rising of the sun over Canada bringing a new era of our 'representatives' working together to bring a new day to our diverse country.

Who is going to be that bright light, I have no idea!

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Harper History, Part 9 – Omnibus budget, Anti-terrorist bill, Election call.

Summer 2014 – Aug 2nd 2015

In 2014 Green Party leader and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May described the dictatorship-style Harper PMO as a “$10-million-a-year partisan operation filled with ruthless, cutthroat psychopaths.” She added that the office was manned by people “employed for the purpose of harassing scientists, bullying MPs, and muzzling civil servants.”
It should be hard for anyone who has read through this series to disagree with that assessment for as she says “The staff at the PMO have no allegiance to anything other than getting the Conservative Party re-elected, it completely offends the principles of parliamentary democracy.”
In this the last part of the Harper History series we see little change in their suppression of parliamentary debate except perhaps to be even more controlling and secretive. In advance of the Oct 2015 election we see an ever increasing expenditure of taxpayers dollars promoting various measure proposed in yet another omnibus budget and continuous party ads degenerating opposition leader Trudeau. With the budget supposedly “balanced” though a series of bookkeeping fiddles the purse strings are suddenly opened just a few days ahead of the early election call. Throughout this entire time the senate spending scandal and the attempted cover up by Harper and the PMO was constantly in the news but no attempt will be made here to cover that fiasco.

July 2014
With the Harper Regime loosing a series of rulings in the Supreme Court of Canada from their plans for the senate to prostitution laws to his nomination to the court it should be no surprise that as well as Harpers direct attack upon Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin he now has set his minions out to attack the Supreme Court in general. It would seem that the Court making rulings that follow the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is now a “problem” and that groups using the Charter to defend their rights when a new attack upon our democracy issues from the Con Oligarchy is somehow antidemocratic.

In an outburst that revealed the Conservatives true colours MP Larry Miller told the Post’s John Ivison of his growing dismay that the “courts are making laws.” “I’m all for rights and freedoms,” he said, “but the Charter complicates things.” The problem, as far as rights and freedoms are concerned, is that we have “complicated” them by writing them into law..............
“Pierre Trudeau,” he said, “did this willfully and deliberately, taking rights away from the majority to protect the minority.” “Why elect people and pay them to do something the courts are doing,” Miller grumbles.
Just to make it clear that this is not just Larry Miller spouting off but a directive from above, we have another report of the same talking points being floated from the other side of the country......

Also in July PEN Canada who represents more than 1,000 writers and supporters, including Canadian literary luminaries Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel, and presses for freedom of expression at home and abroad faced an audit. We keep being told that it’s just a bureaucratic coincidence to see so many critics of the government facing audits and revocation of their charitable status since these audits started in 2012 — from Amnesty International to Kitchener birdwatchers to the David Suzuki Foundation. But PEN Canada — an organization devoted to free expression, for heaven’s sake — the whole exercise became officially creepy.

On October the 22ns 2014 a lone gunman with no apparent ties to any terrorist organization entered the halls of parliament with malicious intent and was killed by the parliamentary security forces. This was quickly turned into a “terrorist attack” upon Canada by the Harper regime even before the gunman was fully identified.
"The objective of these attacks was to instil fear and panic in our country, as I said yesterday, Canadians will not be intimidated. Here we are, in our seats, in our chamber, in the very heart of our democracy." Stephen Harper in the House of Commons Thursday October 23rd. This from the king of democratic destruction.
Also in October the Harper government introduced another omnibus budget bill. It brought forward the 458-page C-43 bill and said it intends to pass the legislation before the December break. It included substantial reductions in health transfers for provinces and measures to deny refugees heath care, although spending was announced for things like infrastructure or national defence it was all deferred in order to be able to announce a balanced budget before the election at which time suddenly the purse strings were loosened.

In November it was revealed that, even as various government departments reduced services and staffing levels, Public Accounts documents showed the Conservatives have held onto more than $7 billion in approved spending across a spectrum of departments. Since 2007-2008, the average amount that the government has underspent is 23 per cent of the allocated funds. Over the last three decades, the average was 2 per cent.

In December
Stephen Harper's government is being called out for spending what the Liberals say is $548 million of taxpayers' money for partisan advertising - just prior to the 2015 election. A long ad campaign about a jobs plan that doesn't exist; feel-good ads about Canada's 150th anniversary - still two full years away; a two-month ad campaign ending this month, showcasing tax breaks that can't be accessed until March or April; and $9 million for ads denouncing Canada's wireless cellphone companies. “

In a scathing article former Conservative MP Mr Rathgeber points out that the Harper Regime continues to boast of programs that have not passed through the legislative process are are not in fact in place and does so with half truths and outright lies.

“It is shameful how a supposedly conservative government wastes tax dollars on blatant, self- serving, political advertising. These recent transgressions are in addition to the $5 Million Veterans Affairs is using to promote the laughable concept of how well Canada treats its veterans. Parliament amazingly voted an additional $21,400,000 Wednesday night for additional government advertising;”
(Read the majority Con Regime voted themselves increased advertising budget)

In January The Harper regime introduced Bill C-51, the new Anti-Terrorism Act which was quickly denounced as creating a 'police state' and reducing oversight upon CISIS and doing little to actually combat domestic terrorism.
At a press briefing to introduce the bill reporters in Ottawa became surly quickly when it was discovered the government lock-up they attended on the proposed anti-terror legislation was light on information and heavy on restrictions.
A hint of how the government might handle some of its Bill C-51 critics at committee first came from Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney Tuesday. Leading testimony before the committee, he spoke out against members of the opposition and “so-called experts” who oppose the bill.
The “so-called” experts to which he referred include: former prime ministers, retired Supreme Court justices, eminent former politicians, national security legal academics and constitutional scholars and others.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told CTV’s Question Period that any oversight efforts beyond the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), which reports to Parliament on the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), would be redundant.
With a few minor amendments, and having rejected 60 amendments from the Greens and dozens more for the other parties, the bill passed third reading on May 6 with the support of the Liberals with a final vote of 183-96. It later passed in the Senate on June 9 following a vote of 44-28 in favour.

Early in
February 2015 Baird became the 21st senior Conservative MP to announce that they will not be seeking re-election during the 2015 federal election, scheduled for October 19. “Add in previous resignations, lost nomination bids and a death, and more than 30 Conservatives elected in Harper’s historic 2011 majority of 166 MPs are leaving or have left.”
Baird's departure from cabinet, along with the resignation of Jim Flaherty a month before his death last year, mean two of Harper's most powerful ministers will have left the prime minister's inner circle in less than a year. The election of a replacement MP was delayed until the October general election.

Also in Feb 2015 Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Fréchette accused the Conservative government of breaching its legal obligations to hand over information about the cost of Canada’s military mission in Iraq.
A PBO report said the Department of National Defence refused all requests for specific data on Operation Impact, the mission against Islamic State militants. “Several of these refusals appear to breach DND’s legal obligations under the Parliament of Canada Act,” the report states.......
The report also notes that the government has a history of reporting incremental costs of military missions that are significantly lower than the full costs. For instance, the report states that Operation Mobile, Canada’s most recent overseas mission in Libya, had full costs that were almost six times the reported incremental costs.

In March the rush to pass the Security bill continued with debate being restricted in both the House and in Committee despite the ever increasing objections to it from both the general public and legal and constitutional experts. The hearings clearly demonstrated how dysfunctional the committee process had become under the Harper Regime.
The Canadian Bar Association objects to the planned transformation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) into an agency that could actively disrupt terror plots. It argues the bill’s “vague and overly broad language” would capture legitimate activity, including environmental and aboriginal protests — and possibly put a chill on expressions of dissent. The SIRC committee's executive director, Michael Doucet, complained in this year's annual report that his staff had trouble getting relevant information from CSIS with it, on average, taking three years to investigate complaints against CSIS.
Late in February it was revealed that over a five-year period, Canada's national police force Mounties withheld some $10 million in funds earmarked for its National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre and related projects. It was later revealed that they also did not spend $97 million in 2013-14 that had earmarked for a series of key social programs, including one to fight youth unemployment and another to help the disabled. The shortfall amounted to more than five per cent of the budget for programs at Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC),
In March we found out that Minister of Public Works and Government Services Diane Finley decided to give $1 million to the Markham Centre for Skills and Independence under the Enabling Accessibility Fund  despite the fact the project failed funding criteria and included a “number of deficiencies.” Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson noted that “there were a number of interventions in relation to the proposal by the Prime Minister’s Office, two ministers, staff in Ms. Finley’s office and senior departmental officials.” The unethical interference reached the highest levels of the PMO, with Harper’s then-chief of staff Nigel Wright involved in discussions that at one point also included Harper, who told Wright to “sort it out,” according to the report.

In April instead of announcing the budget in the House of Commons, Oliver's office summoned media to the Canada Goose's factory in Toronto to announce his budget. In order to predict a balanced budget for 2015-16 they reduced government contingency funds by $2 billion and included the recent sale of the government’s remaining shares in General Motors, for another $1 billion.

Also in April having totally failed to address climate change federally The environment minister Leona Aglukkaq sent a letter just before a premiers meeting on climate change in Quebec City about their climate change efforts. Many provinces didn't react favourably to the letter, calling on the federal government to focus more on its own efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Harper regime then booked $13.5 million for an all-out blitz in April and May to advertise its 2015 pre-election budget. The Canada Revenue Agency is spending $6 million on a concentrated TV bulk buy this month that includes pricey NHL playoff spots in what internal government documents describe as a continuation of an existing campaign that's been running all winter. The tax agency's $6 million in TV advertising is augmented by a $7.5 million campaign by the Finance department, all designed to promote previously announced and new targeted tax breaks. The spring ad blitz comes amid increasingly vocal opposition to the Harper government's use of taxpayer-funded advertising for clearly partisan reasons.

On June 3 2015 Liberal Senate leader Grant Mitchell confirmed that the government will shut down all debate on Bill C-51 at the Senate Chamber tomorrow. This means all amendments and the legislation as a whole will be voted on tomorrow. It passed in the Senate on June 9
Also in June The Harper regime appoints five new board members all with strong Conservative connections to the National Capital Commission ahead of a key decision on the future of a very controversial memorial to the victims of communism. “The question is, are these new appointments there simply to make sure this project is rubber stamped?” asked Ottawa Centre NDP MP Paul Dewar.
Former Conservative MP Del Mastro was sentenced to one month in jail for overspending on his 2008 election campaign; breaking his own spending limit; then filing a false campaign report. He previously sat on the House of Commons ethics committee and regularly defended the Conservative Party in question period on allegations related to the illegal robocalls sent to voters in the 2011 election.
Tory MPs voted to pass a time allocation motion on Bill C-59, a 167-page, omnibus budget implementation bill, this was the hundredth time that the Harper Conservatives have restricted debate since the start of Canada’s 41st Parliament in 2011.
The Bill contains unprecedented amendments to retroactively rewrite access to information laws, exempting all records from the defunct long-gun registry, and also any “request, complaint, investigation, application, judicial review, appeal or other proceeding under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act,” related to those old records. It effectively alters history to make an old government bill come into force months before it was actually passed by Parliament.

On June the 19th parliament rose for summer and the Harper regimes minions promptly spread out across the country announcing a myriad of grants and projects designed to persuade the voting public to vote for them in the upcoming election. In one week late in July over $4 BILIONS worth of promises were made.

We could be forgiven for thinking the only thing happening on Canadian military bases over the past two weeks has been photo ops. Recently the department has sent out more than a dozen press releases and held several press conferences where Conservative MPs have announced investments in infrastructure at local bases and military facilities.

The federal government has funnelled 83 per cent of the projects under its signature infrastructure fund to Conservative-held ridings, according to an analysis by The Globe and Mail of the announcements made to date. The New Building Canada Fund was first announced in the 2013 budget, but it has only been within the past few weeks – on the eve of the federal election campaign – that specific announcements have started to flow at a steady pace.

In July despite their balanced budget promises made back in April the parliamentary budget officer says the federal Conservatives will fail to accomplish their key promise of balancing Ottawa’s books this year, instead running a $1-billion budget deficit in 2015,.
Later it was announced that Canada was officially in a recession although the PM refused to acknowledge this fact. The Conservative-dominated parliamentary finance committee voted against calling on Finance Minister Joe Oliver to testify in public about the state of Canada's finances amid a troubled economy as requested by the opposition.

In an apparent effort to keep their “war on terror” talking points before the public Minister Nicholson directed all bureaucrats working in security-related divisions to provide the minister's communications team with "...three MINA (ministerial) statements to the media regarding security in the context of terrorism each week." Since there were no such incidences the bureaucrats were unable to comply.

Late in July Stephen Harper, having not filled any vacancies for two years, announced a moratorium on further Senate appointments, blaming the problems of his previously poor choices on the provinces and suggesting that it needs to be abolished. (something that is not only all but impossible under the constitution but would leave a majority government with no checks to their power)
This has two advantages. The first and obvious advantage is that it saves costs. The second advantage is that I think it will force the provinces, over time … to either come up with a plan for comprehensive reform or to conclude that the only way to deal with the status quo is abolition.” said Harper.

One of the last things the Harper government did before it launched the federal election was to appoint Steven Kelly to the National Energy Board, who is a consultant for Kinder Morgan. This guy was paid to convince the government to approve the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. And now he’ll be part of the team that helps to decide if his own argument was convincing.

On Aug 2 2015 Stephen Harper called the election several weeks earlier than was required by law resulting in an extended campaign period. Upon emerging from seeing the Governor General he promptly said:-
As it is my intention to begin campaign-related activities, as is also the case for the other party leaders, it is important that these campaigns be funded by the parties themselves rather than taxpayers..........”
Given that the taxpayer reimburses 50% to 60% of all legitimate expenses incurred during an election period by political parties and their candidates and that, entirely due to measures brought in by Harper and his (un) Fair Elections Act, the upper limits to said reimbursements increases in proportion with the length of the campaign this to total and utter nonsense.

This is the final article in this series but we will attempt to publish a conclusion and index to the series in the near future. Although how to summarize 10 year of abuse in a few paragraphs makes this just a difficult as wading through the detritus has been in assembling this review of the democratic destruction by the Harper Regime.

Please Note
Parts 1 to 5 and Parts 6 to 9 are now available as two long document (19 pages - 7900 words and 27 pages - 10,230 words respectively) in chronological order and may be viewed, shared and downloaded on Google Docs. Here & Here. Due to the large number of embedded links I recommend you import them as a Docx, ODF Doc or HTML so that you may follow the references if you wish for more information on a particular issue.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Letter From a Political Neophyte

A copy of this letter arrived in my inbox recently.......

Dear Stephen
About 6 months ago, a friend of mine told me that I need to learn more about Canadian politics, especially during an election. He was right, so I decided to start with learning about you and your government. I certainly don't have the extent of political knowledge that my friend has, but I now have a better understanding about you and what your party stands for. Next I will be studying about Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, then Thomas Mulcair and the NDP and then Elizabeth May and the Greens. I was planning on attending one of your campaign stops the next time you were in Toronto, hoping to shake your hand and ask you why I should vote for you, but I was told that was not possible, because Canadians can only attend your campaign stops if their given an invitation and there are various people, in your party who decide which Canadians get those invitations. All of that seemed confusing to me. As I've said, I am not that politically aware, but aren't you, in an election, supposed to be talking with everyone, especially seeing as you're the PM . I thought well maybe he's isolating himself because of the lingering fear he still feels, from when he hid in the closet, in the Conservative Caucus Room, while hiding from a gunman who went on a shooting rampage just outside of that room. I wouldn't go as far as many of my friends and call you a coward, but you must admit that the image of you hiding in a closet is not a good one. Even with your invitation only campaign though, I didn't want to just ignore you completely and talk only to the other 3 leaders, so I decided to write you this email letter and ask you, what I can't ask you in person, why should I vote for you? I know you're a man of few words, but I'm a woman of many words, so please bear with me.

I am a senior and recently my benefits have been reduced. I thought, well, maybe he needs the money, you know, to balance the budget that you talk so much about. My friend though, who is also a senior, was livid. I have another friend who is not yet 65, but who is also very angry, because she says with you in power, she will have to wait until she's 67 to get her pension. In one of the articles I read about you, it said you never really travelled outside of Canada until you became Prime Minister. You must have really loved Canada, if you never wanted to leave it. By the way Goerge W. Bush was the same way, he never left the U.S. until he was President. I guess you both have that in common. I myself have travelled a fair amount. When I was twenty, after travelling in Europe with a friend, I decided to stay and live in Amsterdam for a year. You wouldn't have liked it there though, because smoking grass and hash were and still are legal In Holland. I loved it. The Dutch were some of the nicest people I had ever met.
I understand your favourite era is the 50's. You probably like the television shows that played then, like Leave it to Beaver and Father knows Best. I grew up watching those shows, but my favorite era was the 60's There were such incredibly dynamic leaders then, like JFK, RFK, Malcolm X, Martin LutherJR, Lester Pearson, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, to name just a few. There was also so much upheaval . I remember the race riots in Detroit. Gordon Lightfoot wrote a song about them "Black Day in July", which was censored for awhile from being heard on the radio in Detroit. You probably know it , because I understand you really like the music from the 60's, especially the Beatles. I also read where you sing and play the piano and the first time you went to Israel you played the piano and sang for them. One journalist I read said watching and listening to you was "cringe worthy", but I never saw you, so I don't know. It must be something being the Prime Minister of Canada. Flying in your own plane. Having your own entourage front and back taking you where ever you want to go. You must feel pretty important. I remember Pierre Trudeau, most times, was either driven in the backseat of a single car or he drove himself in his Mercedes. If he were alive today, I wonder what he would think of your entourage? He never much liked them for himself. I also found out that , because of the Israeli 7 wk bombardment on the Palestinian people,there were severely injured ,Palestinian children, who Canadian doctors, together with Canadians and the Palestinian community wanted to bring to Canada, so the doctors could operate on the most severely wounded and hopefully in the process prevent some of these children from losing their limbs.Other countries like Germany and sweden were already doing these operations for a number of Palestinian children, but in Canada, you, Stephen, refused these children visas. When I read this I was really upset, but then I read that you were exploring other kinds of aid and I felt better. I knew that you wouldn't outright refuse these innocent children, some, needing life saving medical help, from coming to Canada, so I searched and searched and searched and couldn't find the programs for the other kinds of aid you said you would be offering to the wounded Palestinian children. Perhaps when you email me back, you can tell me what those programs are and where I can read about them and how your programs are helping these Palestinian children. Something else I've learned about you is that you really, really like the Queen, almost obsessively so. I'm not sure what authority she holds over Canada these days, but another friend of mine said that you want Canada to go back to being a British colony and also to be called The Dominion of Canada again and our anthem to be both "God Save The Queen" and "The Maple Leaf Forever." That's far too complicated for me to figure out. I think your obsession with the Queen is simply because you see her as a mother figure.

I'm not, like some of my friends, a deep thinker who can analyze and explain your policies and programs, but I know the people whom you call elites can. I was at a party the other night and one of the guests said you were a fascist tyrant whose flawed legislation put forth, was meant to eliminate The Charter of Rights and Freedom and place all of the power with the PM. That would be you. Another man called this guest horrible names and got so angry that his face turned purple, sort of like the man at one of your campaign stops, who yelled and screamed at the reporters who were just trying to ask their 5 allowed question. I understand also that he was one of the guests that you took with you, when you went to the Ukraine. I don't know for sure and I don't want to jump to judgement, but was that trip tax payer funded? I've decided that I'm going to judge who I am going to vote for on how they are on the humanitarian issues, because as I said my knowledge doesn't extend to policies, programs, trade deals and legislation. I'll leave that to people like my learned friends. Lately, I've been trying to learn as much as I can about Justin Trudeau, trying to figure out what kind of Prime Minister he would make. I know you hate his Dad and judging by the Conservative ads about him, that are continually played on TV, you don't much like him either. In closing I would just like to add that I think you are very hard to connect with. You don't attend many debates and you're not having any sit down TV interviews and of course your campaign by invitation only is not helping. Maybe you're just really shy, but you really need to make youself more available. I am really looking forward to your response to my letter and answer to my question, why I should vote for you. Right now though, I'm hurrying out the door to meet a friend. Justin Trudeau is doing a campaign stop in downtown Toronto and we are going to attend. I'll shake his hand, but more importantly , I have a few questions I want to ask him. I say this last comment only in jest, but wouldn't it be funny if Justin Trudeau,the son of the man you despise the most in the world won the election. Just saying.

Canadian Gal From T.O.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Study in Tyranny (Part 3)

2 Men & A Country : Harpers Nemesis

A guest post by Pamela Mac Neil

The laws you have are a direct result of the Government you have. Whether they remain laws or are struck down, depends on whether you have a democracy or not. Shortly after Harpers appointment of Judge Nadon for a Supreme Courts judge, a Toronto Constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati challenged this appointment in federal court. The first person to ever challenge a PM's appointment for a Supreme Court judge. Galati won. The Supreme Court ruled that Harpers latest appointee to that court, was not legally qualified for the job, they found Nadon's appointment unconstitutional. Harpers response to the Supreme Court decision, was to launch a smear campaign, by saying he refused to take a phone call from Supreme Court Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, implying that she tried to directly interfere in Nadon's appointment, while the matter was before the court, when that was patently false. In response to Harper's smear Galati said,
"I am shocked by the depravity of the PM, in now making these ridiculous statements, with respect to the chief justice, who is a person of integrity and has every right to raise this issue" The issue being whether a supreme court appointee is legally qualified. Galati is also contesting a number of bills put forth by Harper and his CONs, including bill C-51. of which Galati says , " It chills, censors and criminalizes free speech, free association and constitutional rights of assembly and what it creates is a modern day gestapo. He goes on to say, "German and Italian versions of C-51, were passed in the 1930's. This is quite clearly a fascist and dictatorial piece of legislation and appeasment of it is unacceptable."

In another more far reaching case Galati is representing the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER), two Canadians William Krehm and Ann Emmett along with COMER are challenging The Bank of Canada. A bit of background. The Bank of Canada was established during the great depression. The Bank was to be owned by the people of Canada, and responsible to parliament and was to promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada. One of it's functions was making loans to federal, provincial and municipal governments at no or very low interest rates, which then were returned to the people of Canada through the treasury. Galati filed a lawsuit on Dec 12th, 2011 in Federal Court to try to force a restoration of The Bank of Canada to its mandated purpose. The two Canadians and COMER want The Bank of Canada to provide free or low interest loans to the Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments as provided for in The Bank of Canada Act. Until 1974 The federal government use to borrow no or low interest loans from The Bank of Canada. Now governments borrow all of the necessary money (apart from any bonds they may sell to the public) from private banks at the going rate of interest.
"Canadians are economically burdened with the resultant debt-servicing charges because The Bank of Canada no longer makes use of its prerogative in the interest of the Canadian public." The Canadians and COMER plead for declarations that would restore the use of The Bank of Canada for the benefit of Canadians and remove it from the control of international private entities whose interests and directives are placed above the interest of Canadians and the primacy of the constitution of Canada. There has been minimal said about this case from the MSM, because according to Galati's sources Harper and the feds have sent word that the MSM is not to discuss or write about this. Being the good obedient servants that they are, with the exception of a few, they haven't.

Rocco Galati representing COMER is also challenging something other then how The Bank of Canada issues loans to Canadian governments and it is something more insidious and wide spread then in Canada. It actually is the global economic infrastructure of the US and Europe. It is Neoliberalism. It is a major part of American foreign policy, so Rocco Galati will have more then Harper and his CONs closely watching him, he'll have the US and Europe along with the Neoliberal institutions of The IMF, The WTO and the World Bank, keeping a close eye on him. Whether he is aware of this or not, I don't know, but if he does know, and my guess is that he does, he will proceed ahead, hopefully starting the dismantling of the Neoliberal doctrine in Canada. Harpers blue print for acquiring power, Neoliberalism, is being challenged at its most fundamental legal level, implicitly questioning, if Neoliberalism is constitutional. Harper who has no philosophy, only a Neoliberal doctrine combined with Evangelical fundamentalist beliefs is no intellectual match for Rocco Galati. So, yes, I'm sure, Harper is watching very, very closely. Galati is showing the power of the law and the constitution that supports that law in Democracy. So two of the things that Harper hates the most, the law and the Constitution are being used to pull the Neoliberal foundation out from under him and the man who is doing the pulling, Rocco Galati is now probably Harpers number one enemy.

"The Conservative Government is playing fast and loose with the law"
and continues Galati, "the constitution doesn't belong to any government. It belongs to the citizens and it's there that we find our protection." " In Canada, the constitution, as well as federal, provincial and territorial laws, protect our human rights and fundamental freedoms." It was only with The Charter of rights and Freedoms that human rights in Canada were protected in the written constitution. "Harpers flawed bills are deliberately put forward to challenge the Supremacy of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms." Without a sound legal system a small group or even a single person can take control of an entire country. The rule of law defines democracy. It is the foundation on which our rights and freedoms rest. Never before have we had a PM like Harper who wants to destroy that foundation. If not the rule of law, then what? The rule of Harper?

Harper neither believes in the natural laws, that govern the universe, nor does he believe in the man/woman made laws, particularly constitutional law, that govern a democratic country, which is why he is not so much against science and democracy but rather against the thinking that gives rise to science and so too the thinking that gives rise to democracy. This is Harpers war on reason, on the very foundation of thought. Two men, Harper and Galati. One, Harper, the PM of Canada,who wants the power to govern, without the consent of those being governed. Harper knows that the Neoliberalism that he fully embraces, cannot be systematically implemented, without the collapse of the rule of law in Canada. Under Neoliberalism, it is the free markets that are the ultimate arbritator of right and wrong. No charter of Rights and Freedoms needed!
"Under Harper, a tightly knit, smoothly operating Neoliberal propaganda system has been installed in Canada." And installed for the most part in secrecy. Harper is attempting to create a legal system that is not focused on justice, but on creating laws that will give him more power. It is only fitting then that the other man Rocco Galati, be a constitutional lawyer. The constitution says that the Charter takes priority over all other legislation in Canada, because it is part of the Supreme Law of Canada. It applies to all government action, so governments must take the Charter into account, in developing all laws and policies. So when Harper presents fascist legislation like bill C-51, now a law, Galati will show that this law violates the rights or fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the Charter. The Supreme Court will more then likely, declare the law invalid because it conflicts with the Charter. What's a dictator to do? Where and who has the real power here? The power is in the constitution and with the man, Galati who is using that constitution to stop Harper. That's real power, because it is grounded in reality. Rocco Galati is using the law the way it should be used, to fight corruption and injustice and isn't it interesting the person who Galati is doing legal battle with, whose actions are unjust and corrupt is our very own Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper and his CONs have developed a life of their own, disassociated from Canadians. A criminal Cabal holding complete unaccountable power. From where I'm sitting, the only thing standing, between us and Harpers dictatorial agenda, if he gets 4 more years, is Rocco Galati and the few others like him.
"Where the law ends tyranny begins"

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