Friday, February 29, 2008

Seat projections and vote percentage Alberta election

These projections are as of Feb. 13 with the number of seats at dissolution in parentheses: These statistics are from Democratic Space.
Seats Cons 62(60) Lib 16(16) NDP 4(4) Green 0(0) Wild Rose A. 1(1)

Vote % Cons. 49.8 Lib. 24.5 NDP 10.2 Green 6.1 Wild Rose 7.42
Other 2.0

A poll about a week later by Leger that includes only decided voters gives percentage as follows:This is from NoDice.

PC 35 Lib 23 NDP 7 Green 4 Wild Rose Alliance 8 Undecided 23

There are quite a few undecided but probably many are Conservatives or people who don't like any of the parties! It seems likely that the Conservatives will come through the election without losing too many seats.

Censorship by stealth..

No doubt some right wingers offended by some of the materials that get tax breaks will be happy with this move but as Toronto lawyer David Zitzerman of Goodmans LLP says the government's plans smack of "closet censorship", and as the Globe and Mail article notes the legislation could violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Toronto lawyer David Zitzerman of Goodmans LLP says the government's plans smack of "closet censorship."

"The proposed new initiative, if not properly crafted, could potentially violate the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] and lead to possible legal challenges against the Minister of Canadian Heritage," Mr. Zitzerman said yesterday. "Such a provision could potentially lead to the government acting as 'morality police.' The existing definitions of pornography and obscenity in the Criminal Code should be sufficient for the government's purposes.

"Would this committee put money into Juno? It might not want to encourage teen pregnancy. Would the government put money into a film with a dirty title, like Young People Fucking? Would they invest in something like Brokeback Mountain? They might not want to encourage gay cowboys to have sex together in Alberta."

David Cronenberg an acclaimed director also lambasted the Harper goverment plan.
Of course Harper censorship is good clean censorship not bad dirty censorship of the type common in commie China! From the CBC.

David Cronenberg, the Canadian director behind the critically acclaimed Eastern Promises, said the proposed plan doesn't belong in Canada.

"It sounds like something they do in Beijing," he told CBC News.

"You have a panel of people working behind closed doors who are not monitored and they form their own layer of censorship."

Cronenberg says Canadians have a reputation for making edgy dark movies that go places other filmmakers wouldn't venture.

This new panel could quash that kind of creativity, he said.

Producer Steven Hoban is concerned that the provision will stop money from flowing into the Canadian film industry.

Filmmakers depend on the tax credit to help secure additional funding, said Hoban, who produced the film Young People F**ing, which is scheduled for commercial release in April.

"I think a movie like Young People F**ing would not have been made if Bill C-10 had been in effect when we were going for financing the film," he said.

"Just the optics you get with that kind of title, I think we wouldn't have gotten the tax credit and, again, if we didn't have that tax credit, it wouldn't have been possible to make that film here in Canada."

Plan amounts to morality policing

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Alberta election polls.

Recent polls are available at nodice.. There is another more recent Leger poll but here are the results of a recent Angus Reid poll:

Conservatives 42 per cent.
Liberals 31
Wild Rose Alliance 10
Green 8

Although the concentration of votes is importance the NDP Wild Rose Alliance and Greens do not seem likely to gain many seats. The Conservatives look safe enough all the Liberals apparently have some momentum.

Philippine Folk Dances: Carinosa, Tiklos

My wife is teaching some elementary school kids two Philippine folk dances in a rural school nearby. You Tube has excellent videos of the two dances: carinosa and tiklos. There are links to a wealth of other material as well.

American voters to have say on NAFTA

It certainly is a great idea to open NAFTA. Open it and throw it in the garbage. NAFTA is not a free trade agreement so much as an agreement that Canada will supply oil and natural resources on sweetheart terms to the U.S. and an agreement that we must share those resources with the U.S. It also challenges our ability to have an independent economic policy that might go counter to corporate interests. The dispute mechanism almost always shafts us with the softwood lumber conflict. No doubt the Americans haven't a clue about all this. The forces that want further integration of the North American market are not about to jettison NAFTA. This is pure rhetoric. Seems to me that at one time the Liberals were going to renegotiate NAFTA! This is from the National Post.

Thursday, February 28, 2008
American voters to have say on NAFTA
Job Losses Mount
Janet Whitman, National Post, With Files From News Services Published: Thursday, February 28, 2008
NEW YORK - Blaming free trade for an exodus of good jobs, about a dozen activists gathered outside Hillary Clinton's senate office here on Tuesday before some were carted off by police.
Similar feelings about free trade are running high across the United States amid a growing belief among many Americans that trade with other countries is hurting the economy.
The sentiment has made free trade -- in particular the nearly 15-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico -- a front-burner issue for U.S. presidential candidates such as Ms. Clinton.
The New York Senator and rival presidential contender Barack Obama ratcheted up their anti-NAFTA rhetoric during a televised debate on Tuesday night in Cleveland, which has been hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs. Each candidate pledged to pull out of the trade agreement unless changes are made to the deal.
Economists interviewed yesterday said they don't believe the Democratic candidates are simply pandering to voters, including blue-collar workers in the Midwest where manufacturing job losses have taken a big toll.
Instead, with the increasing cries against it here, NAFTA will probably end up back on the bargaining table if either Democratic candidate is elected president, economists predicted.
"If you ask who won or lost across North America, it is obvious that NAFTA encouraged and accelerated the redistribution of wealth upward in all three countries," said Jeff Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute, a labour-oriented think-tank in Washington, D.C. "How much so is open to debate. But I think most people--even those who think it was a good idea -- acknowledge that NAFTA was oversold."
Beyond agreeing they would like to see tougher labour and environmental safeguards, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama have been vague on details about what changes they would seek.
Besides rejigging NAFTA, the two presidential hopefuls have called for a time out in the negotiation of new free trade pacts. Neither candidate is believed to be interested in encircling the country with protectionist walls.
Once in office, they could take the action to "opt out" of NAFTA within six months if Canada and Mexico refuse to strengthen labour and environmental provisions and change an aspect of the agreement that favours corporate interests too much.
The candidates' apparent focus on labour and environmental standards suggests Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama are mainly concerned about Mexico.
But opening NAFTA up to renegotiation could end up putting any issue on the table.
In Ottawa yesterday, federal Trade Minister David Emerson hinted at that possibility, saying Canada could seek its own list of concessions -- including on the topic of oil.
As part of NAFTA, Canada is forbidden from rationing oil exports to the United States in the event of a supply disruption or global shortage, unless the same cutbacks are forced on Canadians.
"Knowledgeable observers would have to take note of the fact that we are the largest supplier of energy to the U.S. and NAFTA has been the foundation for integrating the North American energy market," Mr. Emerson told reporters.
"When people get below the rhetoric and pick away at the details, they are going to find it's not such a slam-dunk proposition."
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suggested in comments to reporters yesterday morning that Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama may not be completely up to speed on the trade agreement.
"NAFTA is of tremendous benefits to Americans, and perhaps the nominees have not had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the benefits to Americans and the American economy," Mr. Flaherty said in Toronto.
"There's a tendency to say it favours Mexico, or it favours Canada, rather than to recognize the mutual benefits that come out of free trade."
Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama, once strong supporters of free trade, have changed their views on NAFTA in recent years.
Ms. Clinton, who helped her husband, Bill Clinton, lobby for the ratification of NAFTA while he was president, said she became a critic when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000.
Mr. Obama acknowledged that during his Senate campaign in 2004, he had said that NAFTA brought huge benefits to his state of Illinois.
As they started campaigning for president, their rhetoric about NAFTA has become increasingly harsh.
Mr. Obama now says, "I don't think NAFTA has been good for Americans, and I never have."
Ms. Clinton says, "You know, I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning. I didn't have a public position on it because I was part of the [Clinton] administration."
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Government loses court battle over Wheat Board barley monopoly

It will be interesting if the Conservatives make this a confidence motion. If so we could again see the Liberals sitting on their hands. They are not about to go to an election because of the polls and particularly on this issue. To half the country the whole issue would be mainly irrelevant! The big issue would be when (not if) the Conservatives try to take away the wheat marketing monopoly from the Board. A plebiscite on that issue might fail even if the Conservatives make a mockery of the format again by giving three choices.

Government loses court battle to crack barley monopoly
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 8:20 PM CT
The Canadian Press
The federal government's attempt to strip the Canadian Wheat Board of its barley monopoly was rejected by a court for a second time Tuesday, setting the stage for a showdown with the opposition in Parliament.
The Federal Court of Appeal in Winnipeg upheld a lower court ruling from last year, which said the Conservative cabinet exceeded its authority when it tried to unilaterally open up the wheat board's control of western barley sales and allow producers to sell independently.
Wheat board supporters said the ruling sends a strong message.
"I think it's a victory for farmers, but moreso, it's an establishment of democratic principles," said Kyle Korneychuk, an elected wheat board director who farms in Saskatchewan.
"It's not a dictatorship. We're going to have a vote."
The ruling means the minority Conservatives will have to get a bill passed in Parliament to make the change. That could be an uphill battle because the Liberals have vowed to fight the move.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, who has already pledged to introduce legislation ending the barley monopoly by the end of the month, said he was disappointed with the court ruling.
"This government is committed to pursuing all avenues to deliver … market freedom to western barley producers. We will be moving ahead quickly with legislation to give them this freedom," Ritz said in a written statement from Ottawa.
MP wants Liberals to oppose bill
The Conservatives campaigned on a promise to end the barley monopoly. Many producers support the plan, saying they deserve the right to try to seek higher prices for their grain by selling independently.
But critics — including many farmers, the federal Liberals and Manitoba's NDP government — argue the monopoly ensures producers get fair prices instead of competing against each other for sales.
Winnipeg Liberal MP Raymond Simard said last week he would ask his caucus colleagues to oppose any bill ending the wheat board monopoly, even if it is deemed a confidence matter that could trigger an election.
The court battle was the latest in a series of disputes between the Tory government and the wheat board, an agency dominated by farmer-elected board members.
The Harper government fired former board president and CEO Adrian Measner in December 2006 over his public defence of the wheat board's monopoly on wheat and barley sales.
Four weeks ago, vice-president Deanna Allen was fired by Greg Arason, the man the government appointed to replace Measner.

Its the Polls Stupid!

Anyone who thought otherwise didn't check the polls. The Liberals are nowhere near having an edge on the Conservatives let alone forming a majority government. Canadians do not want an election now translates as: The Liberal polls are not good. Ignatieff probably dictated the surrender speech to Dion.
The Liberals are depending upon a downturn in the economy, errors by the Conservatives, and public amnesia to win a later election.

Liberals will support Tory budget: Dion
NDP, Bloc won't support Flaherty's fiscal plan
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 5:55 PM ET
CBC News
The Opposition Liberals will not defeat the federal government in a confidence vote over the budget, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said Tuesday.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said his party will support the federal budget unveiled by the Conservative government Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brought down a budget in Parliament earlier that was short on big spending pledges, but one he called "prudent" while facing the prospect of a slowing economy.
Dion called it a "grab bag" that accomplishes little but goes in the "general direction" the Liberals had sought in recent months in areas such as investment in infrastructure, policing, public transport and making the gas tax permanent.
"Under the circumstances, I don't see enough in this budget that would justify that we precipitate an election that Canadians do not want for now," Dion told reporters about a half-hour after Flaherty introduced the budget in the House of Commons.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Khadr's U.S. lawyer urges Ottawa to act.

Harper is not about to question the U.S. kangaroo court even though the court's lack of credibility is more than obvious, so obvious that the head of the tribunals had to resign for saying that the idea was to obtain convictions.
Harper knows that the Khadr family is well known to Canadians for their connection to Al Qaeda so they are not likely to care about violation of Khadr's rights. Harper is very supportive of human rights when it is politically astute to do so but otherwise it seems he is quite prepared to cater to his friend Bush and his cronies.

Khadr's U.S. lawyer urges Ottawa to act

Navy officer joins opposition parties to ask federal government to seek release of `child soldier'
Feb 26, 2008 04:30 AM tonda maccharles ottawa bureau
OTTAWA–The United States returned up to a dozen children and teenagers held as "combatants" in Guantanamo Bay to their respective countries, and might well act if it received a request from Canada to return Omar Khadr, says his military lawyer.
U.S. Navy Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, flanked by members of the three federal opposition parties, yesterday urged the Conservative government to insist on Khadr's return, suggesting the time is ripe for the U.S. to accede to such a request.
"Omar is, in our view and I think in the view of most of the international community who have looked at this case, a child soldier," said Kuebler. "His prosecution for war crimes is unprecedented in the history of war crimes tribunals."
Khadr was 15 when arrested.
The opposition parties united for the first time in calling on the Canadian government to act, and said they would seek an emergency debate in Parliament on Khadr's fate, as well as a study by a human rights subcommittee of the Commons' Foreign Affairs committee.
But the federal government appeared unmoved by the arguments, calling demands to have Khadr returned "premature" as "legal" processes are still underway.
Kuebler said that while details are scarce, the U.S. has jailed up to a dozen young people, some as young as age 10, at Guantanamo Bay. He said they are held at a separate facility known as Camp Iguana, with appropriate educational and developmental services provided as international conventions dictate for "child soldiers."
Among them, Kuebler said, was a 14-year-old Afghan boy arrested in the death of the first American soldier killed in this Afghan conflict, who was also eventually released.
None of the other so-called "child soldiers" ended up facing charges, much less war crimes charges, said Kuebler. All were returned at the request of their governments.
Khadr was singled out and treated differently, he suggested, because his father was Ahmed Said Khadr, a senior Al Qaeda fundraiser. The younger Khadr, "recruited" at age 10, was believed to have "intelligence value," and so was subjected to "rigorous interrogation."
Khadr was captured in July 2002 in Afghanistan, after a battle with U.S. Special Forces. He faces charges of murder "in violation of the laws of war" in the death of medic Sgt. Christopher Speer, attempted murder, conspiracy, spying and providing material support to terrorism.
"If a just outcome is to be secured in Omar Khadr's case, it's going to be because the Canadian government follows the lead of the British government and the Australian government and every other Western country that has demanded the repatriation of its citizen from Guantanamo Bay to face due process in a legitimate system," said Kuebler.
But Neil Hrab, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, said nothing has changed from the government's view.
"Omar Khadr faces serious charges. The Government of Canada has sought and received assurances that Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely," Hrab said in an email. "Departmental officials have carried out several welfare visits with Mr. Khadr and will continue to do so. Any questions regarding whether Canada plans to ask for the release of Omar Khadr from Guantanamo are premature and speculative as the legal process and appeals are still underway."
Kuebler said the U.S. case against Khadr is "pure fiction," and cited recent revelations that there was, in fact, another surviving combatant after the gunfight, in addition to Khadr, raising the possibility he was not the one who threw the grenade that killed the U.S. soldier.
New Democrat MP and justice critic Joe Comartin, Liberal Dominic Leblanc and the Bloc's Vivienne Barbot said Khadr is a "child soldier" who should be returned to Canada to face "due process."
Meanwhile, the Canadian Bar Association yesterday joined counterparts in France and England in calling on U.S. President George W. Bush to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison, calling it "a grievous affront to the rule of law."'
With files from Tracey Tyler

Head of Guantanamo trials resigns.

William Haynes is the architect of these military trials. He was not supposed to reveal that they are designed so as to ensure convictions. If anyone ever had the slightest faith in these trials this event should disabuse them of that. Of course

Head of Guantanamo trials resigns

By Steven Edwards
Canwest News Service
Monday, February 25, 2008
NEW YORK - The Pentagon official overseeing the planned military trials of Canadian Omar Khadr and other terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba resigned Monday - just days after a published report alleged he'd insisted there be no acquittals.
As General Counsel at the U.S. defence department, William J. Haynes was a leading architect of the military commission system U.S. President George. W. Bush ordered established in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
But his alleged backroom insistence the commission produce only convictions provoked a rush of commentary - much of charging it proved the trials will be a sham.
"I am sorry to see Jim leave the Pentagon," U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said in Washington. "I have valued his legal advice and enjoyed working with him. Jim held this important post longer than anyone in history and he did so during one of America's most trying periods."
Haynes' alleged comments appeared in an interview Nation magazine conducted with Col. Morris Davis, who resigned last October as the commission's chief prosecutor, citing political interference.
"I said to (Haynes) that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis was quoted as saying about an August 2005 meeting the two men had.
"At which point, his eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? . . . We've got to have convictions.'"
The Pentagon has disputed Davis's recollection of the conversation, and denied there is any connection between the Nation article and Haynes' resignation, which takes effect next month.
"Mr. Haynes discussed his interest in returning to the private sector with the Secretary of Defence some months ago," said spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith. "Mr. Haynes was recently presented with an excellent opportunity and he and his family decided to take (it)."
Haynes' departure makes little difference for Khadr's prospects before the commission, his U.S. military lawyer, Navy Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, told Canwest News Service.
"Whether or not Mr. Haynes is managing the commission, it is still the process he helped to create," Kuebler said.
"Consistent with his comments, it is designed to produce convictions of the presumptively guilty."
Kuebler spoke from Ottawa where, earlier in the day, he had joined opposition MPs in calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene on behalf of Khadr.
"The Guantanamo Bay military commission process does not provide a fair trial. It is a political process," he said.
A military judge will rule soon on Kuebler's recent bid to have the charges against Khadr - who was 15 when U.S. forces seized him on an Afghan battlefield - dropped on grounds the commission isn't designed to try child soldiers.
"All (other) children taken to Guantanamo were ultimately released to be reintegrated back into the societies of their home countries - including a 14-year-old Afghani boy who was responsible for the death of a U.S. serviceman," Kuebler said.
Kuebler argued the United States has held onto Khadr on suspicion he has "intelligence value." Khadr's father, Ahmed Said Khadr, had been an al-Qaida operative close to Osama bin Laden before being killed in a U.S. air raid.
But Pentagon spokesman J.D. Gordon said the litany of charges against Khadr warrant his detention and eventual trial as an adult. He is accused in a grenade attack that left a U.S. serviceman dead.
"Omar Khadr is charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and spying, all in violation of the Military Commissions Act," he said.
"Canadian law and U.S. law both provide that a person of Khadr's age alleged to have committed such offences can be tried as an adult . . . If Khadr is found guilty, however, age may be relevant at sentencing."
Barring a successful motion to dismiss, Khadr is scheduled to go on trial in May.
© Canwest News Service 2008

Stelmach: Environment trumps economy.

This is from the Globe and Mail.
This is a rather astonishing headline until it becomes clear from the article that Stelmach's actions show the opposite. No doubt he is trying to appeal to environmentalists who oppose him. Stelmach refuses to say whether he has changed his mind on letting market forces determine Oilsands development.
Taft accuses Stelmach of not having a plan. This is a bit strange after Stelmach in the same article outlines his plan such as it is: reduction of emissions by 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. Surely Taft should have criticised that rather than complain that Stelmach had none.

Environment trumps economy, Stelmach says
Alberta Tory leader trumpets emissions targets but falls short of calling for controls on oil-and-gas developments
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
February 26, 2008 at 5:24 AM EST
CALGARY, EDMONTON — Alberta Progressive Conservative Leader Ed Stelmach has been steadfast about not putting the brakes on oil sands development, but in a surprising about-face in the midst of a provincial election campaign, he suggested yesterday that environmental policy may trump economics.
"Environment takes precedence over the economy," Mr. Stelmach told reporters in Calgary, responding to questions about future expansion in the oil sands north of Fort McMurray.
Still, he warned that government should not step in to "control the economy" and rustled up the image of the still-not-forgotten national energy program implemented by Pierre Trudeau's federal Liberal government in 1980, which drove up interest rates and drove out investment.
"We're not going back to those dark days," said Mr. Stelmach, reiterating his party's environmental plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 14 per cent from 2005 levels by 2050. "Our plan is achievable. It's realistic. It's fiscally responsible."
With voting day set for next Monday, Mr. Stelmach is facing an emboldened opposition and polls predicting a slimmed-down majority for the Tories. His pro-industry stand on environmental protection is widely viewed as his Achilles heel.
His latest comments came in response to a report that some of Canada's biggest oil producers want to see a partial moratorium placed on oil sands development in an apparent effort to preserve conservation land, as first reported in The Globe and Mail.
Husky Energy Ltd., Petro-Canada Corp. and Suncor Inc. were among the big players in the oil patch who signed a letter submitted to the provincial government last month that asked Alberta to halt land lease sales until 2011 in three areas - one of which, Mr. Stelmach pointed out, doesn't even have oil sands underneath it.
Slowing development would also ease pressure on energy companies struggling through a labour shortage and protect their interests from new competition.
The oil and gas industry did not unanimously sign the letter, which was presented on behalf of the Cumulative Environmental Management Association, whose members include representatives from government, the energy sector and native bands.
Yesterday, Mr. Stelmach said the province is still waiting for environmental reports on air, water and soil quality before making a decision about how to proceed with leases. He also said he is waiting on a final vote among the association's 46 members slated for June.
But that vote applies to an overall land-management framework for the region. The moratorium on leases as proposed by the oil companies could be addressed at any time, a source said, but the government risks losing income from land leases.
"We've yet to receive a response from the Alberta government," association spokesman Corey Hobbs said yesterday. "We eagerly anticipate it."
Greenpeace said yesterday a partial moratorium doesn't go far enough and called for no new approvals in "one of the dirtiest and largest industrial projects on the planet."
At the same time, the treaty chiefs in the Athabasca region have passed a unanimous resolution that calls for no new oil sands approvals until they have accepted watershed and resource management plans.
Since the day Mr. Stelmach held his first news conference in 2006, after being named Leader of the governing Tories, he has said he had no plans to slow down oil sands growth, preferring to let the market decide the pace of development.
Yesterday, he wouldn't directly answer questions about whether he has changed that view and instead criticized the opposition parties for wanting to impose "Kyoto-style emissions controls" on the energy sector and increase the province's share of royalties, which could scare away investment. Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said Mr. Stelmach is "out of touch" on the issue.
"The right thing to do is say that Alberta needs a plan," he told reporters in Edmonton.
It's ridiculous, he added, that Mr. Stelmach keeps invoking the memory of a former prime minister on the campaign trail.
"Pierre Trudeau was elected 40 years ago - Ed, get over it," Mr. Taft said.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Early Waterboarding in the Philippines by the U.S.

The U.S. influence on the Philippines has been quite mixed. Most people probably are not aware of this early U.S. imperialism. Of course the U.S. did liberate the Philippines from Japanese imperialism and certainly most filipinos appreciated that but as before the U.S. has continually tried to use the Philippines as an instrument of its imperialist aims. There is a strong anti-U.S. current among many leftist movements especially those associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines but also among the various Muslim independence movements in the south.

Annals Of American HistoryThe Water CureDebating torture and counterinsurgency—a century ago.By Paul Kramer 21/02/08 "New Yorker" --- Many Americans were puzzled by the news, in 1902, that United States soldiers were torturing Filipinos with water. The United States, throughout its emergence as a world power, had spoken the language of liberation, rescue, and freedom. This was the language that, when coupled with expanding military and commercial ambitions, had helped launch two very different wars. The first had been in 1898, against Spain, whose remaining empire was crumbling in the face of popular revolts in two of its colonies, Cuba and the Philippines. The brief campaign was pitched to the American public in terms of freedom and national honor (the U.S.S. Maine had blown up mysteriously in Havana Harbor), rather than of sugar and naval bases, and resulted in a formally independent Cuba.
A picture of a “water detail,” reportedly taken in May, 1901, in Sual, the Philippines. “It is a terrible torture,” one soldier wrote.
The Americans were not done liberating. Rising trade in East Asia suggested to imperialists that the Philippines, Spain’s largest colony, might serve as an effective “stepping stone” to China’s markets. U.S. naval plans included provisions for an attack on the Spanish Navy in the event of war, and led to a decisive victory against the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay in May, 1898. Shortly afterward, Commodore George Dewey returned the exiled Filipino revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo to the islands. Aguinaldo defeated Spanish forces on land, declared the Philippines independent in June, and organized a government led by the Philippine élite.During the next half year, it became clear that American and Filipino visions for the islands’ future were at odds. U.S. forces seized Manila from Spain—keeping the army of their ostensible ally Aguinaldo from entering the city—and President William McKinley refused to
recognize Filipino claims to independence, pushing his negotiators to demand that Spain cede sovereignty over the islands to the United States, while talking about Filipinos’ need for “benevolent assimilation.” Aguinaldo and some of his advisers, who had been inspired by the United States as a model republic and had greeted its soldiers as liberators, became increasingly suspicious of American motivations. When, after a period of mounting tensions, a U.S. sentry fired on Filipino soldiers outside Manila in February, 1899, the second war erupted, just days before the Senate ratified a treaty with Spain securing American sovereignty over the islands in exchange for twenty million dollars. In the next three years, U.S. troops waged a war to “free” the islands’ population from the regime that Aguinaldo had established. The conflict cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and about four thousand U.S. soldiers.Within the first year of the war, news of atrocities by U.S. forces—the torching of villages, the killing of prisoners—began to appear in American newspapers. Although the U.S. military censored outgoing cables, stories crossed the Pacific through the mail, which wasn’t censored. Soldiers, in their letters home, wrote about extreme violence against Filipinos, alongside complaints about the weather, the food, and their officers; and some of these letters were published in home-town newspapers. A letter by A. F. Miller, of the 32nd Volunteer Infantry Regiment, published in the Omaha World-Herald in May, 1900, told of how Miller’s unit uncovered hidden weapons by subjecting a prisoner to what he and others called the “water cure.” “Now, this is the way we give them the water cure,” he explained. “Lay them on their backs, a man standing on each hand and each foot, then put a round stick in the mouth and pour a pail of water in the mouth and nose, and if they don’t give up pour in another pail. They swell up like toads. I’ll tell you it is a terrible torture.”On occasion, someone—a local antiwar activist, one suspects—forwarded these clippings to centers of anti-imperialist publishing in the Northeast. But the war’s critics were at first hesitant to do much with them: they were hard to substantiate, and they would, it was felt, subject the publishers to charges of anti-Americanism. This was especially true as the politics of imperialism became entangled in the 1900 Presidential campaign. As the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, clashed with the Republican incumbent over imperialism, which the Democrats called “the paramount issue,” critics of the war had to defend themselves against accusations of having treasonously inspired the insurgency, prolonged the conflict, and betrayed American soldiers. But, after McKinley won a second term, the critics may have felt that they had little to lose. Ultimately, outraged dissenters—chief among them the relentless Philadelphia-based reformer Herbert Welsh—forced the question of U.S. atrocities into the light. Welsh, who was descended from a wealthy merchant family, might have seemed an unlikely investigator of military abuse at the edge of empire. His main antagonists had previously been Philadelphia’s party bosses, whose sordid machinations were extensively reported in Welsh’s earnest upstart weekly, City and State. Yet he had also been a founder of the “Indian rights” movement, which attempted to curtail white violence and fraud while pursuing Native American “civilization” through Christianity, U.S. citizenship, and individual land tenure. An expansive concern with bloodshed and corruption at the nation’s periphery is perhaps what drew Welsh’s imagination from the Dakotas to Southeast Asia. He had initially been skeptical of reports of misconduct by U.S. troops. But by late 1901, faced with what he considered “overwhelming” proof, Welsh emerged as a single-minded campaigner for the exposure and punishment of atrocities, running an idiosyncratic investigation out of his Philadelphia offices. As one who “professes to believe in the gospel of Christ,” he declared, he felt obliged to condemn “the cruelties and barbarities which have been perpetrated under our flag in the Philippines.” Only the vigorous pursuit of justice could restore “the credit of the American nation in the eyes of the civilized world.” By early 1902, three assistants to Welsh were chasing down returning soldiers for their testimony, and Philippine “cruelties” began to crowd Philadelphia’s party bosses from the pages of City and State.PHOTOGRAPH: ATTRIBUTED TO CORPORAL GEORGE J. VENNAGE

Dr. June Terpstra
Justice Studies
Northeastern Ilinois University

Two-tier Wages, Second-Class Workers

While Hargrove sounds defiant about allowing the two-tier agreement at Canadian auto plants, Hargrove was instrumental in negotiating a no-strike contract with Magna so he could change his mind. It seems that labor is losing more and more power so that there are fewer well paying jobs in the auto industry. As can be seen from this article there has been a tremendous decline in the number of unionised auto workers over the years.

Two-tier Wages, Second-Class Workers
Sam Gindin When Autoworker President Buzz Hargrove makes new pronouncements, they carry weight within and beyond the labour movement – even when, as has recently been the case, they seem to undermine what Canadian unions have always stood for. What then are we to make of Hargrove’s defiant declaration, in response to the permanent two-tier system negotiated in the U.S., that this is ‘one automotive import that won't cross the border into Canada’?
The significance of the ‘two-tier system’ is that it takes the inequalities that have been growing within the workforce to a new stage: it brings them right into the workplace and includes the union as an accomplice. The agreement last fall between the UAW and GM, Ford, and Chrysler divided jobs into ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ jobs. The wage rate for workers newly hired into the non-core jobs will be permanently cut in half and benefits still further – in spite of these workers doing the exact same work as others getting the higher rate. This agreement was sold on the basis of needing to compete with the Japanese transplants and doing do in a way that would shift the concessions to future workers. For the young workers to come, this has not only reduced their access to decent-paying jobs, but done so in a way that formally defines them as permanent second-class workers – hardly a formula for generating the enthusiasm, amongst a new generation of workers, that is so critical for any revival of unions.
But is it possible, in this most-integrated of industries and with the rise of the loonie, for Canadians to ignore the developments in the USA? The high value of the loonie is indeed a serious problem for the Canadian auto industry (and Canadian manufacturing more generally). But the Canadian operations still benefit from Canada’s health care system; even with the companies shifting the risk of health care on to their employees, the company share of costs for active workers and of the new funding arrangements remain high relative to Canada. Factoring in the high productivity and quality of Canadian plants, the likelihood of a long-run Canadian dollar in the $.93-.95 range, and the fact that labour costs are in any case under 10% of the price of a vehicle, mean that the rise of the loonie is in fact not that decisive. Jobs, as the past three decades could not have made any clearer, depend on both larger corporate strategies and circumstances beyond the companies’ control: between 1978, when the era of concessions began in the U.S. and the present, UAW Big Three membership has fallen by some 80% – from 750,000 to under 170,000.
Yet, if U.S. auto wages do start moving to half their present level, Canadian autoworkers could clearly not simply ‘bargain as usual.’ The key here lies in how American workers themselves respond. Many American workers did vote against this agreement (almost half at Chrysler and one-third at GM) and more are coming on side as they come to see that even in terms of competitiveness, the two-tier system is a sham. Japanese auto companies have a well-developed two-tier system at home, but have not implemented it in their U.S. plants for fear of this driving their workers to unionization. With the UAW now bringing it into American plants, the door will be opened for the Japanese companies to now follow suit. Net result: lower wages for autoworkers at the big Three and the transplants paying for higher salaries to corporate executives and greater dividends to stockholders, with absolutely no change in relative competitiveness and job security.
This dawning recognition has led to an impressive opposition emerging in the U.S. that is determined to cast out this offensive system in its own bargaining in 2011. In this context, what happens this coming fall in Canada is crucial. A Canadian surrender would weaken that movement, but if the Canadians do challenge it this has the potential to inspire and deepen the resistance in the U.S. thereby ease longer-term pressure on the Canadians.
There are those in the labour movement (and perhaps some within the CAW) who treat Hargrove’s promise to take on such a fight with great skepticism. They raise the concessions earlier made in Oshawa, Bramalea and elsewhere, and note that Hargrove was hardly worried about the inequalities facing workers when he came out in support of politicians who bore a large responsibility for the policies that aggravated those inequalities. They point to the Magna agreement which, in surrendering the right to strike and the right of workers to democratically determine their own in-plant structures, essentially created a two-tier system within the CAW. And some question whether, if the CAW does reject the two-tier system, it will only do so by letting the companies achieve the same results in other forms (e.g. though outsourcing) or at the expense of concessions elsewhere (giving up time off the job).
Yet, Hargrove’s strong statements against the American agreement are surely welcome. Hargrove has stuck his neck out and if the CAW in fact takes on this fight it, the rest of the labour movement must be there in support – for reasons of solidarity, self-interest and the future of its own shaky status.
Sam Gindin teaches political economy at York University.

Rural Alberta voters voice frustration in provincial election campaign

Most political strategists are probably relying on rural voters to vote Conservative no matter what and so do not direct policy discussion to rural issues for the most part. However, I imagine that local members do try to relate to their constituency more than the party leaders.
In spite of the grumpiness the rural voters will for the most part vote Conservative I expect. Rural voters are always grumpy aren't they? Wheat and other grains are at good prices so grain farmers should be smiling! Maybe those raising cattle do have a legitimate beef ;).

Rural Alberta voters voice frustration in provincial election campaign
1 day ago
PONOKA, Alta. - Amidst the sound of mooing cattle and the stench of manure, tired farmers gather for a livestock sale in Ponoka, smack in the middle of the Progressive Conservative party's rural Alberta power base.
As the auctioneer works the crowd looking for bids on the animals, candidates in the provincial election campaign patrol outside the ring delivering their own spiel to anyone who will listen.
Faced with a weak beef market and a lacklustre election campaign, frustrated producers aren't buying much of either.
"I am not keen on this election. I haven't seen anything that stands out in my mind," says Brian Matheson, a longtime Tory supporter who runs a cow-calf operation near Heisler.
Matheson can't understand why the Tories aren't doing more for agriculture when beef producers are being hammered by low prices, high feed costs and the soaring value of the loonie.
"A change might be a good thing," he says.
But what other party would you go to?
"That is another question. I don't know at this point. I do like our local Progressive Conservative candidate - unless somebody better comes along."
Voters in rural Alberta have been key to 10 straight Tory electoral victories, and - outside of the narrow victory by Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman in Cardston-Taber-Warner - they elected nothing but Tories in the last election in 2004.
Of Alberta's 83 ridings, 42 are outside Calgary and Edmonton. Those rural seats pack more electoral punch than their urban counterparts. For example, the rural riding of Dunvegan-Central Peace has 14,752 registered voters compared with 40,396 in Calgary-North West.
But after almost four decades of electing Progressive Conservatives, some rural voters are getting antsy and even angry, wondering when the booming economy will benefit them.
As energy companies report multibillion-dollar profits, some people in rural areas can't get a family doctor or face delays for a hospital bed because of a shortage of nurses and other health-care staff.
The trumpeting of huge government budget surpluses rings hollow in communities awaiting schools, seniors' housing or road repairs.
While the number of million-dollar homes has increased almost tenfold in Calgary, more than a dozen forest industry mills have closed or have cut their operating capacity in rural communities such as High Level, Hines Creek, High Prairie, Hinton and Drayton Valley. The cuts have thrown about 1,000 people out of work and eroded the tax base of the municipalities.
The disconnect between those who are benefiting from the boom and those who are not is growing.
People who live outside electoral battlegrounds in Calgary and Edmonton say their issues aren't making much of a blip on the Tory radar.
"The whole focus seems to be on energy. Folks that are concerned with other top industries such as forestry and agriculture feel left out," said Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor, who is also chairman of a group of small communities called the Grand Alberta Economic Region.
"People are grumpy, but they are not seeing a lot of options and choices. There is a sense that they would sure like a change, but they just don't know what that change would be or who would lead it."
None of the other parties running in the March 3 election has much experience representing rural Alberta. The Liberals and NDP have won the odd seat outside the major cities over the years.
The Wildrose Alliance holds Hinman's one seat. The Greens, who have never won a seat anywhere, have strong candidates in two rural ridings.
Tory candidates say they are aware of what they like to term the "challenges" facing them. They also say they are taking nothing for granted.
In the first two weeks of the campaign, incumbent Jack Hayden put 5,000 kilometres on his car criss-crossing his Drumheller-Stettler constituency in southern Alberta. He expects to drive another 5,000 before the vote.
Hayden said more people are moving into rural areas, including seniors and others seeking more affordable homes. They want more hospitals, seniors lodges and schools.
"It is go hard every day if you expect to overcome the apathy and get people out to vote," said Hayden, a former president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties who won the seat in a byelection last year.
"In Alberta, people don't walk away - they stampede. You have to be sure you are addressing the concerns of people or you will lose support very quickly."
In Battle River-Wainwright, Tory incumbent Doug Griffiths said he is working hard to connect with voters.
The former school teacher said people appear bewildered by the pace of change in Alberta.
"There is a feeling of uncertainty. People are wondering, 'What do we do now?' That doesn't mean they are switching parties," said Griffiths, who has represented the riding since 2002.
"I think generally people in rural Alberta trust the PC party. Nobody in the coffee shops is yelling at me, 'You need to do this, we need to do that."'
Part of the reason for the longevity of the Tories is the party's ability to regenerate itself under new leaders and to attract good candidates.
In Drayton Valley-Calmar, candidate Diana McQueen has been campaigning hard since she wrested the nomination from the sitting member of the legislature in October.
The former mayor and businesswoman is smart, personable and politically savvy. Her campaign literature cites problems the government has been criticized for and promises to work at solutions, such as helping the slumping forest sector and recruiting more doctors and health staff.
She is also promising to work to ensure that rural communities are not left out of Alberta's growing prosperity.
"I think there is a large segment of the population who feel that they are not benefiting from the booming economy, and I think that is where we need to focus," McQueen said in a coffee shop during a break from door-knocking in the village of Thorsby.
"Do we have tough issues? Yes. I never stick my head in the sand. Deal with the issues. Don't hide from them."

More Canadians think Afghanistan Effort is about War not Peace

This is from Angus Reid via Yahoo. No doubt the change in numbers here is caused by the nature of the debate about the mission. Military spokespeople and leaders have been stressing the fact that continued presence in Kandahar necessarily involves military conflict.
We have an upcoming useless debate on Afghanistan in parliament in which we will be treated to no debate at all about whether the mission should end or whether it is justified in the first place.

Afghanistan Mission – More Canadians Think the Effort is about War, Not Peace
They feel the government is not adequately informing the public
Canadians are increasingly identifying the country’s military presence in Afghanistan as a war mission rather than a peace-building effort, an Angus Reid Strategies poll has found. In the online survey of a representative national sample, 57 per cent of respondents say the Canadian presence in Afghanistan amounts to a war mission as opposed to a peace mission. This number has increased by 10 percentage points in only one month. Also, 61% think Harper has not properly explained the mission to Canadians. Click here to read more.

Corporations refusing to donate to Stelmach?

Given that the party has 4 million in the kitty and intends to spend just 2 million on the campaign perhaps the party isn't too worried! The opposition parties have only a small fraction of two million to spend as the article shows.

Imagine the grumpiness of the corporate kingmakers when Ed Stelmach has that 4 million to spend instead of the oilmaker's likely choice, Jim Dinning.

Alta Tory insider says corporate Calgary refusing donations to Stelmach campaign
2 days ago
CALGARY - Grumpiness over a planned $1.4-billion increase in energy royalties appears to be costing Alberta's Progressive Conservatives their usual windfall of corporate donations as the party campaigns for the March 3 election.
"It's very difficult to raise dough in Calgary these days," a member of the Tories' powerful finance committee told The Canadian Press on Friday.
"The oil and gas industry feels betrayed from this government, and that's reflected in the amount of money we can't raise."
"About 70 per cent of our money we traditionally raise out of Calgary, so when you see a big drop in the Calgary fundraising, it hurts."
Premier Ed Stelmach announced the royalty increase last fall after a review by a government-appointed committee. The new formula is to take effect next January and the government expects to reach the $1.4-billion figure by 2010 - a 20 per cent increase over currently projected revenues for that year.
Royalty reform is not the only irritant. Some Calgary Tories have been grumbling ever since Stelmach won the party leadership over Jim Dinning, a corporate executive from Calgary, in December 2006.
Last summer, the Tories lost a byelection in what should have been the safest of seats, Calgary Elbow, which was held for years by former leader Ralph Klein.
Tory campaign spokesman Paul Stanway described any fundraising problems in Calgary as "ancient history," but wouldn't provide details.
"In fact, there's been an uptick in that sort of support from Calgary," he said. "But what we're raising is none of (your) business at this point."
The chairman of the finance committee in Calgary was not available for comment. A call Friday to the party's executive director was not returned.
The Conservative war chest was close to $4 million when the election was called. The bankroll dwarfs the finances of political rivals, but the finance committee member said the party will spend roughly half of the money on this year's campaign.
"This election is going to cost us approximately $2 million," he said. "But normally we like to have enough money around to run two elections."
The New Democrats, who refuse to take corporate donations, will spend $750,000 on the campaign. The Alberta Liberals haven't released their campaign budget, but still have more than $400,000 in debt from the 2001 election.
Stanway refused to confirm how much the Tories are spending. He did say it's more than usual so as to counter union-sponsored TV attack ads aimed at Stelmach's leadership.
"I'm not going to put a number on it, but I will tell you that this is certainly a much more ambitious campaign than the party has done in recent years," said Stanway, who is also the premier's communications director.
The Tories held 60 of 83 seats when the election was called and have enjoyed 10 straight majorities dating back three dozen years. The party constitution requires a leadership review within a year or two following an election, so Stelmach will have to win another strong majority to secure his future, said the source.
"I think the magic number for Ed is 50 (seats). I think anything 50 or under and he's in trouble."
The insider also said he started getting a sense earlier this week that undecided votes were starting to slip away from Stelmach's Conservatives.
"The polls aren't indicating it yet, but we're in trouble in Calgary," he said. "People started landing on the decided side and it wasn't with the Tories."
A member of Klein's inner circle also told The Canadian Press that fundraising problems were becoming apparent in corporate Calgary.
"This is serious stuff," said the one-time Klein staffer. "The finance committee is more powerful than people think. If they can't raise money, they can have a great influence on the leader's future."
The finance committee member recalls how the 30-member committee forced Don Getty to step aside as premier when the Tories experienced a similar fundraising drought in 1992.
"This is the committee that told Getty, 'The time has come. We can't raise money out of Calgary under your leadership,"' he said. "So, yeah, they're a very influential group."

No punches sent Stelmach's way.

This is from the Edmonton Sun. As the article points out, the other parties ganged up on Stelmach. No punches or not many landed apparently.
From media reports I have read Stelmach is supposed to be a bumbling debater but if this report is at all accurate he must have improved. The Liberal opposition leader does not come out looking too well in this account. No doubt Alberta bloggers who heard the debate may have different ideas.

February 22, 2008
No punches sent Stelmach's way
Leaders debate no slugfest

If this was a standard house- brand Alberta election TV debate, there's no doubt that PC Leader Ed Stelmach won the contest last night big-time.
Mainly, the gang-up didn't work, the four other provincial leaders - including Wildrose Alliance's Paul Hinman who used the provincewide TV hook-up to "introduce" himself to Albertans - didn't lay a glove on Steady Eddie, just as his predecessor Ralph Klein was able to dodge and weave through earlier debates.
But this wasn't an ordinary made-for-TV gabfest where the premier could snooze through the proceedings.
Simply reciting his accomplishments into the record since winning the PC leadership 14 months ago may not have been enough to convince a large number of unconvinced Albertans that he - or any of the others - is the best man for the job.
Which is the subplot of the whole election campaign, where 69% of Albertans responding to the Ipsos Reid midway poll said they would be simply "making the best choice from the options available."
In other words: None of the above.
And after an hour and a half of airtime on three networks, I suspect that the same "whatever" factor still hangs over the election.
The pols aren't all to blame here. The panel of "journalists" was strictly amateur hour.
Rarely did they wander beyond the predictable health care-infrastructure-environment issues where the fearless foursome could regurgitate their pat campaign stump answers.
But clearly Albertans wanted more than that. They needed one of the four stuffed suits to stick out, take control of the debate and answer the burning question of the 2008 campaign: Who are these guys?
That question never got answered.
Instead, it was NDP Leader Brian Mason's pitch about "being on the side of ordinary families," mainly because the PC and Liberals are "so closely tied" to corporations because they take donations from them.
Hinman's claim to being the "true conservative alternative" is based largely on his pitch to roll back Stelmach's royalty reforms.
The premier stuck to his "practical, achievable, fiscally responsible plan," while Taft continued his belief that "holding the government accountable" was the central theme of the election.
He also explored his theory that the government is secretly awash in cash and the Liberals have a magic spending button that will unlock it.
Sure, there were a few moments. Stelmach scored big when he talked of his "decisive leadership" when challenging growth, "not some warmed- over '70s socialist policy."
Strangely, he never raised the ghost of the "Trudeau Liberals" like he has been doing recently in his stump speeches.
Mason pinned Taft good during a set-to over climate change where the Liberal leader claimed emission caps are a "big issue in the campaign" and Alberta is going to get "moved down."
The NDP leader jumped in and reminded Taft that his Liberal MLAs argued against slapping hard caps on Alberta industry during a debate in the legislature, at which point Taft appeared to come unglued.
Taft also used the word "crisis" a couple of times too many during the debate, as though Alberta had turned into a mini Haiti.
At one time during the health-care portion, he actually blurted "people are dying, Mr. Stelmach."
Which was once again way over the top.
But probably the biggest stretch of all was a 50-something fellow with a talk-down-to-you-voice claiming he was the messenger of change.
The best Stelmach could show was that he wasn't the blundering bumpkin that his incompetent campaign team has turned him into.
And that he has a pretty good grasp of the subject of government.
Stelmach also got a good one-off when he stung Mason with "Brian, I know it's very easy to predict the past."
Then he reminded the others that 600,000 new Albertans have arrived here "because there is hope and there are jobs."
And that's about as good as it got.

Canada, U.S., agree to share troops in civil emergencies

This is from Canwest News.
Of course the conditioned response from the Pavlovian dogs in the Harper govt. and the military is that this means nothing. Why should not we as junior partners in U.S. imperialism share troops? If it means nothing why was it kept secret?

Canada, U.S. agree to share troops in civil emergencies
David Pugliese, Canwest News Service Published: Friday, February 22, 2008

Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal.
Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.
The U.S. military's Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.
The new agreement has been greeted with suspicion by the left wing in Canada and the right wing in the U.S.
The left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is campaigning against what it calls the increasing integration of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is raising concerns about the deal.
"It's kind of a trend when it comes to issues of Canada-U.S. relations and contentious issues like military integration. We see that this government is reluctant to disclose information to Canadians that is readily available on American and Mexican websites," said Stuart Trew, a researcher with the Council of Canadians.
Trew said there is potential for the agreement to militarize civilian responses to emergency incidents. He noted that work is also underway for the two nations to put in place a joint plan to protect common infrastructure such as roadways and oil pipelines.
"Are we going to see [U.S.] troops on our soil for minor potential threats to a pipeline or a road?" he asked.
Trew also noted the U.S. military does not allow its soldiers to operate under foreign command so there are questions about who controls American forces if they are requested for service in Canada. "We don't know the answers because the government doesn't want to even announce the plan," he said.
But Canada Command spokesman Commander David Scanlon said it will be up to civilian authorities in both countries on whether military assistance is requested or even used.
He said the agreement is "benign" and simply sets the stage for military-to-military co-operation if the governments approve.
"But there's no agreement to allow troops to come in," he said. "It facilitates planning and co-ordination between the two militaries. The ‘allow' piece is entirely up to the two governments."
If U.S. forces were to come into Canada they would be under tactical control of the Canadian Forces but still under the command of the U.S. military, Scanlon added.
News of the deal, and the allegation it was kept secret in Canada, is already making the rounds on left-wing blogs and Internet sites as an example of the dangers of the growing integration between the two militaries.
On right-wing blogs in the U.S., it is being used as evidence of a plan for a "North American union" where foreign troops, not bound by U.S. laws, could be used by the American federal government to override local authorities.
"Co-operative militaries on Home Soil!" notes one Web site. "The next time your town has a ‘national emergency,' don't be surprised if Canadian soldiers respond. And remember -- Canadian military aren't bound by posse comitatus."
Posse comitatus is a U.S. law that prohibits the use of federal troops from conducting law enforcement duties on domestic soil unless approved by Congress.
Scanlon said there was no intent to keep the agreement secret on the Canadian side of the border. He noted it will be reported on in the Canadian Forces newspaper next week and that publication will be put on the Internet.
Scanlon said the actual agreement hasn't been released to the public as that requires approval from both nations. That decision has not yet been taken, he added.
Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Search for nurses heading to Manila

This is from There should be some aid program associated with recruiting health care workers from developing countries. It is very expensive to train nurses. The Philippines seem to be a global center for training employees for other countries. There is some advantage to the Philippines in that oversease workers remit huge sums to the Philippines to aid families at home survive. At the same time, Philippine hospitals themselves are short of nurses not because of lack of supply but because of horrible pay. We have a relative who recently graduated as a nurse but the sole work in her area as a nurse involved working for nothing so that she could get experience and then apply to work overseas! She ended up working as a nanny in the Netherlands. We hope she can come here later this year and at least start work as a health care aide if not a nurse.

Search heading to Manila
Pamela Cowan, Leader-PostPublished: Thursday, February 21, 2008
Building on the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region's recruiting success in the Philippines last year, a Saskatchewan delegation hopes to sign up 300 nurses when it travels to Manila next week.
During a recruiting trip to the Philippines in November, the RQHR offered jobs to 80 registered nurses.
"We know that there is a huge shortage of nurses in Saskatchewan that can't be addressed overnight but certainly recruiting from other jurisdictions provincially or internationally is a good plan," Health Minister Don McMorris said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

At a Feb. 7 career fair, a couple of student nurses told McMorris that they'd like to stay in Saskatchewan but only B.C. Health had been in Saskatoon to do a presentation to the nursing students.
"I inquired through the ministry immediately about that concern and they told me that wasn't quite right, that they have talked to the classes in the past and I said, 'I want to make sure that we're doing that with all of the classes - whether it's the ministry of health or the health authorities,' " McMorris said.
McMorris plans to hire 800 registered nurses in his government's first term of office. He said that filling the province's nursing needs with home-grown talent is a priority but it is a slow process so the province will continue to recruit foreign-trained nurses.
"If we get 300 nurses from the Philippines and there are more that are interested, it will be a while before we say, 'That's enough,' but our Saskatchewan grads do not have to worry -- there's more than enough work for them," he said.
Laura Ross, Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Health -- Nurse Recruitment and Retention, and two Saskatchewan Health recruitment agency officials will accompany staff from five health regions to Manila. The delegation's trip is scheduled from Feb. 28 to March 8.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hillier: Taliban will see Canada as weak if debate drags on.

The Conservatives have sucked the Liberals into supporting a motion that achieves most of what the Conservatives wished and will commit Canadian troops to a mission that as the military rightly point out inevitably involves conflict. The motion as noted will not restrict military freedom of action in spite of what the Liberals may claim. The Taliban probably are not too worried about the Canadians but we have quieted any fears that the U.S. might have that we will not continue to support their policies with the blood of Canadian troops and the funds of Canadian taxpayers.
Most of the debate about Afghanistan concerns details about our role and length of stay etc. but the relationship of our mission to U.S. policy is hardly ever mentioned nor is the illegality and immorality of our joining in Operation Enduring Freedom from the get-go is never mentioned. We just get the mantra that the UN sanctions the NATO mission of which we are part. This seems to be a mantra that puts critical faculties to sleep.

Taliban will see Canada as 'weak' if Afghan debate drags on: Hillier
Last Updated: Friday, February 22, 2008 11:58 AM ET
CBC News
Canada's top soldier urged Parliament to come to a quick decision on the country's role in Afghanistan, warning that lengthy debate may put soldiers increasingly at risk as the Taliban take advantage of the uncertainty.
"We are, in the eyes of the Taliban, in a window of extreme vulnerability, and the longer we go without that clarity, with the issue in doubt, the more the Taliban will target us as a perceived weak link," Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier said Friday.
Speaking at a meeting of the Conference of Defence Associations, a military advocacy group, Hillier referred to recent attacks in Afghanistan.
A spate of suicide bombings hit southern Afghanistan earlier this week, including one attack that targeted a Canadian convoy, slightly wounding three soldiers.
Hillier wouldn't definitively say the suicide bombings were linked to political debate in Canada.
But he warned that if the Taliban sense weakness, they may try to take advantage of it and attack Canadian soldiers to prevent a cohesive mission.

Can't protect soldiers without clear mission objective
The longer the Canadian Forces go without clarity about the mission, the more difficult it will be to protect the soldiers, he told reporters after the speech.
While debate is necessary, Hillier said, there has to be a decision at the end of it.
Ottawa is in the midst of deciding what form Canada's military presence should take past its current end-date of February 2009.
Speaking before the same group on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper revealed the government's latest motion on Afghanistan — a revised one largely based on amendments put forward by Stéphane Dion's opposition Liberals.
The new motion calls for the mission to be renewed past 2009 but with a focus on reconstruction and training of Afghan troops, and for all Canadian troops to leave Afghanistan by December 2011.
Previously, the Conservative government had put forward a motion that left the mission open to renewal in 2011 and would have seen the military continue in a combat role.
The latest motion still makes Canada's continued presence in the volatile Kandahar region contingent on whether NATO allies provide 1,000 extra troops and Ottawa secures additional equipment.
Motion won't restrict military operations
Canadian soldiers have been keeping a close eye on the Afghan mission debate, Hillier said, and all they ask is that the government give them a clear mandate.
"They do ask … that they get that clarity of purpose as soon as we can give it to them."
Troops also need flexibility on the ground to not only defend themselves but to ensure security by going out and finding insurgents, he said.
He noted that over the past few months Canadian soldiers have hunted down six senior Taliban leaders who orchestrated attacks against coalition forces.
Hillier said he doesn't have any concerns that the current government motion will restrict his or his soldiers' flexibility on the ground.
The prime minister said Thursday that both the Liberals and Conservatives agree that operational decisions should be left up to the commanders overseeing the mission in

Our March toward Private Health Care (Quebec)

Interesting that the Federal Govt. is ignoring Quebec violations of the Canada Health Act. Both the Federal govt. and the Quebec provincial govt. want more private involvement and cost shifting to the private pocket all of which benefits the rich and investors.

Friday » February 22 » 2008

Our march toward private health care
Governments and parties are pushing Quebecers into the private sector by starving the public one

The Gazette
Friday, February 22, 2008
Claude Castonguay produced a report suggesting user fees and more private-sector involvement.
Here's my hypothesis on why Jean Charest ordered a report on health-care financing only to have his health minister shoot it down like an enemy plane.
The report was ordered in June 2007. Charest's minority government was facing Mario Dumont, who had just become leader of the official opposition and was seen as the premier-in-waiting. The media were full of musings on voters shifting to the right.
This created what I called the "adéquisation"of Quebec politics, with Charest cozying up to Action démocratique policies. So it was no surprise when the premier called on Claude Castonguay, an advocate of user fees and private health-care services and insurance. He was a shoo-in to produce an ADQ-clone report. Predictably enough, Dumont just called the report the best thing since sliced bread.
But things have changed since 2007. The ADQ is in trouble and Charest is in better shape. This pro-business report was too hot to handle. Health Minister Philippe Couillard was thus sent out to sound like he was shredding it. But did he really?
The fact is that private health care has been on the rise in Quebec for a decade and nobody's stopping it. The Parti Québécois created the conditions for it when it weakened public health-care with its zero-deficit policy. Since 2003, the Liberal government has turned a blind eye to the growing number of privately paid-for services and tests.
Result: Quebec is now the province with the highest rate of private health-care spending, at 30 per cent. The Gazette's Aaron Derfel also reported that while the public sector is short 800 family doctors and 650 specialists, the number of doctors who have gone private has tripled in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, Ontario stopped allowing doctors to opt out of medicare in 2004.
Who hasn't been told by a doctor to get a test done in a privately run clinic where you pay out of pocket or through private insurance? Some family doctors ask first-time patients for a battery of tests to be done privately for $500 to $1,000 before they'll even see them.
Yesterday's Globe and Mail reported that Quebec, in violation of the Canada Health Act, refuses to give Ottawa its data on extra-billing or user fees. Ottawa has turned its own blind eye by refusing to penalize the province for this. Like the three monkeys, nobody sees, hears or says anything. It is no wonder private care flourishes in Quebec.
In fact, the three major parties either advocate more private care or ignore it, while professing support for the public system. Pauline Marois's own silence on the Castonguay report said it all.
Even Couillard couldn't fake it that well. He said he wanted a "dialogue" on a user fee based on revenues and use of services, he was open to privately run hospitals and allowing doctors to move between the private and public sectors under certain conditions. His Bill 33 could also extend private-insurance coverage to a number of surgeries through a simple change of regulation.
He also said a final no to the only equitable way to finance public health better: increase the sales tax. This government cut income taxes by $900 million and now gives up $1.5-$2.5 billion a year if it took back one or two of the GST points that Ottawa vacated. But isn't money what is needed to train, hire and give better conditions to more doctors and nurses, and to get better technology, more home and long-term care?
By saying no to the tax revenue that would strengthen public health care, it means the private sector will be called upon more and more. Keeping the public system starved of cash also scares the public into wanting more private services. It's called agenda setting.
The private sector is persevering. It knows that profit-based medicine will continue to grow here as governments and political parties fail to protect public health care and voters are told the public system can't do the job without even more private services.
Future generations will pay a very dear price for that.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008

Copyright © 2008 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc..

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When think tanks produce propaganda

This article is a fine example of critical journalism. More and more research at universities is not funded by independent bodies but by special interests such as large corporations but now we have the military getting in on the act so that Canada can duplicate the military-industrial complex of the U.S. Of course we operate primarily as a branch of the U.S. complex providing support for U.S. hegemony and profit for U.S. military manufacturers--for example by buying helicopters and perhaps drones from U.S. sources. and supplying support for what was basically a U.S. mission (Operation Enduring Freedom) in Afghanistan.

When think tanks produce propaganda
At the very least, credible public intellectuals should disclose the source of their funding
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
February 21, 2008 at 5:48 AM EST
The war in Afghanistan is one of ideas and ideologies. Ideologies, in that the Pashtun extremist worldview is far from our own. Ideas, in that our society is likely to prevail only if it makes wiser and cleverer decisions than theirs. That is why, when one adds up Canada's advantages in this war, there is none greater than our values of inquiry and debate.
But recently, a new threat has emerged. The Department of National Defence is intruding on academic financing, spending millions of dollars sponsoring think tanks and scholars to offer up agreeable commentary. When these intellectuals comment, they are not always quick to disclose that the military funds them.
Take the Conference of Defence Associations, a think tank that got $500,000 from DND last year. That money comes not with strings, but with an entire leash. A current DND policy reads that to receive money, CDA must "support activities that give evidence of contributing to Canada's national policies." Apparently, if CDA's activities were neutral and unbiased, or even-handedly supported and questioned government policy, DND would refuse to pay!
Attendees at CDA's annual conference, which begins today, will hear speeches by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and MP Laurie Hawn, a retired lieutenant-colonel. Curiously for an organization that calls itself "non-partisan," no opposition politicians will speak. Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier will lecture, as will NATO's military head, General Ray Henault. The agenda includes a session titled "Contemporary Security Concerns" -- a discussion on Russia and Iran.
Now consider: If the Prime Minister staged a government event and declared Russia and Iran "contemporary security concerns," some Canadians would be made uneasy by the signal that sends. But if the government finances CDA, which stages an "independent" event where the Prime Minister rubs shoulders with military officers, weapons company executives and intellectuals addressing those same security concerns, it might just pass without Canadians noticing. CDA gets away with shilling because it is so discreet. Nowhere on its website does CDA disclose its half-million dollars of DND sponsorship.
The Harper government knows what the money is for, because cabinet reviewed the funding agreement between DND and CDA, and it has been secret ever since. Nonetheless, Maclean's got CDA's executive director, Colonel Alain Pellerin, to admit that the contract obliges it "to write a number of op-eds to the press" -- propaganda paid for by you and me.
More disturbing still is the manner in which DND spends money to elicit friendly comment by Canadian scholars.
Most people would find it strange that DND sponsors the salaries, research, travel and tuition of dozens of professors, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. But DND's Security and Defence Forum does exactly this. The list of Canadian universities getting over half a million dollars of SDF money is extensive: York University ($580,000), UQAM ($630,000), Wilfrid Laurier University ($630,000), Université Laval ($655,000), McGill ($680,000), UBC ($680,000), University of Manitoba ($680,000), UNB ($680,000), Carleton University ($780,000), Dalhousie University ($780,000), University of Calgary ($780,000) and Queen's University ($1,480,000).
What's the money for? It's not for the technical work that militaries obviously require -- building better airplanes, for example. Instead, it sponsors policy scholars, who create the ideas, news and views that shape Canadians' perception of the military and the war. And the evidence suggests that the military and government have politicized some SDF grants. The same bureaucrat who administers SDF grants to scholars also manages DND's liaison with cabinet and Parliament. When DND needs a kind word in Parliament or the media -- presto! -- an SDF-sponsored scholar often appears, without disclosing his or her financial link.
There is one Canadian professor who received an $825,000 SDF grant. For that money, DND expects the professor to "conduct outreach activities with the Canadian public ... and Parliament about security and defence issues." And reach out he does -- eloquently, but not always disclosing that he is funded by DND. He made no disclosure when he testified to Parliament that the government's Afghanistan policy "is the right mission for Canada and the right mission for the Afghan people." He also made no disclosure in a published op-ed where he praised former Conservative defence minister Gordon O'Connor as "an outstanding success," and assailed "years of Liberal [party] neglect of ... defence policy and the Canadian Forces."
I don't ever want this professor to stop saying and writing what he believes. But I do want Canadians who encounter his interventions to know how he has been funded.
That is why, at the very least, credible public intellectuals owe disclosure to their public.
But the government, too, should know better. Rather than have DND dole out cash to public intellectuals -- and risk tainting their scholarship and their conferences -- it should give the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council that money, to award grants on an arm's-length basis. This is how other public intellectuals in Canada get funded.
Parliament, the Auditor-General and journalists need a watching brief on this file. As the war in Afghanistan becomes bigger and longer, it will prove dangerous to let DND sponsor intellectuals. Canada needs fresh ideas - not groupthink - to win.
Amir Attaran, Canada Research Chair in Law, Population Health and Global Development Policy at the University of Ottawa is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and not by DND.
This is from Canwest News.
Harper has cleverly incorporated most of the Liberal amendments into his new motion but still achieves the basic aim of ensuring that the mission continues basically as before in spite of all the flowery rhetorical flourishes towards mission change from combat. As MacKenzie and others have pointed out, combat in the Kandahar region is unavoidable. Also, most casualties are not from combat anyway but IEDs. So there will be more casualties and at the same time more expenditure on helicopters and drones as we support the U.S. military industrial complex. See this CBC article.
We can rest assured that the Liberals will support the new Conservative motion. However, we can expect a few disgruntled squeals first. The budget too will be passed unless some fatal poison pill is inserted in it. However, that is doubtful. Harper cannot lose. If the Liberals force an election the Conservatives are well prepared and ahead in the polls. If the Liberals do not then Dion will continue to look spineless and weak. Sorry. I meant Dion will continue to be spineless and weak.

Thursday » February 21 » 2008

Harper announces new Afghanistan plan

Andrew Mayeda
Canwest News Service
Thursday, February 21, 2008
OTTAWA - The Harper government took another step Thursday toward brokering a compromise deal with the Liberals over Afghanistan - and avoiding a spring election - by tabling a revised motion in Parliament calling for Canadian troops to withdraw from Kandahar province by the end of 2011.
The governing Conservatives and the Liberals have been edging closer in recent weeks to a consensus on an extension of the mission beyond the current end date of February 2009. The government earlier this month tabled a motion proposing an extension, prompting the Liberals to reply with their own motion last week.
The new government version now incorporates, almost verbatim, large swaths of text from the Liberal motion, including a pledge to focus the mission on reconstruction, development and training Afghan security forces. It also clarifies that Canadian troops will begin pulling out of Kandahar in July 2011, with the objective of withdrawing completely by December 2011.
The Liberals had previously said the government's proposal for an end date was too vague.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the new motion "now embraces an even wider expanse of common ground than before."
"It seems clear that we have moved significantly toward the kind of bipartisan consensus that can be presented to Parliament for ratification," Harper told a defence-industry conference in Ottawa.
But Liberal defence critic Denis Coderre said it was too early to say if his party will support the motion.
"It's not a deal-breaker. I'm not here to say this is what we'll accept and this is what we want," said Coderre, noting the government did not show the motion to the Liberals before making it public.
However, he welcomed the government's extensive use of Liberal wording as a vindication of the "nuanced work" done by his party.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, who was in Prince Albert, Sask., said he intends to ask why the prime minister chose July rather than February as the Liberals had suggested.
"I wish he (Harper) would have changed his opinion a year ago. We would have been in a better position with NATO (regarding the need to secure more troops for the extension to 2011)," Dion said.
Asked if the government's revised plan is enough to keep the Liberals from bringing it down in a confidence vote expected next month, Dion wouldn't commit.
"He finally accepted the mission must have a firm end date. It is progress (and) we welcome the motion and we will work with the motion," the Liberal leader said.
The government will table the motion for debate in the House of Commons on Monday, when Parliament returns from a break week. The parties will have two days to debate the motion, but it is not expected to be put to a vote until next month.
The government wants to hold the vote before Harper heads to a two-day summit of NATO leaders in Bucharest on April 2.
The Afghanistan debate has loomed for weeks as a possible trigger for a spring election, along with next Tuesday's federal budget and the government's omnibus crime bill. The government has declared the Afghanistan motion a matter of confidence, meaning the defeat of the motion would precipitate an election.
The Liberals effectively hold the deciding vote on the mission, as the NDP support an immediate pullout and the Bloc Quebecois want the troops to withdraw in Feb. 2009.
Despite steps by both parties to compromise, several differences still exist between the Conservative and Liberal positions:
. The two parties are still about five months apart on the end date. The Liberal motion proposes that Canadian troops begin leaving Kandahar on Feb. 1, 2011 and complete their withdrawal by July 1, 2011.
. The Liberals want to "immediately" notify NATO of Canada's withdrawal plans, while the Conservatives don't specify a timeline.
. Under the government's motion, Canada will extend its mission if NATO provides an additional battle group of about 1,000 troops in Kandahar. But the Liberal motion calls on NATO to secure "sufficient troops to rotate into Kandahar," suggesting more than 1,000 troops will be needed and another nation would take the lead.
. The Liberals want the government to continue to refrain from transferring prisoners to Afghan prisons until "substantive reforms" of the Afghan prison system have been implemented and the "systemic risk of torture" is eliminated. The government motion says only that Canada will commit to the "highest NATO and international standards" on detainee rights.
It is not clear, however, how much more the government is willing to bend. "Look, the rules of the House make motions amendable, but we've gone a fair way toward trying to come up with a motion here that can be the subject of a bipartisan consensus," a senior government official told reporters at a technical briefing on the motion.
Harper also announced Thursday that his government will increase the automatic annual increase in defence spending from 1.5 per cent to two per cent, beginning in 2011-12. He said the move will be part of a long-term plan to reverse the "rust out" of the Canadian Forces.
But Coderre said the government was doing things "backwards" by announcing spending plans before its overall defence plan.
In unveiling the government's motion, Harper warned Canadians to expect more combat missions such as the one in Afghanistan.
"Peacekeeping is a wonderful concept. A Canadian invention. And frequently necessary. But it covers only a limited portion of the security challenges we face in today's international environment," he said.
"If Canada wants to contribute to global security, we will have to participate in UN peace-enforcement missions, not just traditional peacekeeping, as well as intelligence sharing, aid and development, and so on."
© Ottawa Citizen, Saskatoon StarPhoenix 2008

Copyright © 2008 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Obama on Military expansion and on Israel.

This is from Obama's website. Typical of the bi-partisan support for U.S. hegemony that has its underpinning a military that is many times the size of the nearest rival Obama does not question military spending. In fact he wants to expand the military. So much for any change in US foreign policy! He may mouth a different rhetoric but he wants a bigger stick.If you read through the paragraphs on Israel there is not one single criticism of Israel or any single sentence about any rights the Palestinians might have. The donations will be just pouring in.

Expand the Military: We have learned from Iraq that our military needs more men and women in uniform to reduce the strain on our active force. Obama will increase the size of ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines.New Capabilities: Obama will give our troops new equipment, armor, training, and skills like language training. He will also strengthen our civilian capacity, so that our civilian agencies have the critical skills and equipment they need to integrate their efforts with our military.

On Israel
Ensure a Strong U.S.-Israel Partnership: Barack Obama strongly supports the U.S.-Israel relationship, believes that our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America's strongest ally in the Middle East. Obama supports this closeness, stating that that the United States would never distance itself from Israel.Support Israel's Right to Self Defense: During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel's right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks, cosponsoring a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria's involvement in the war, and insisting that Israel should not be pressured into a ceasefire that did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. He believes strongly in Israel's right to protect its citizens.Support Foreign Assistance to Israel: Barack Obama has consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel. He defends and supports the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel and has advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met. He has called for continuing U.S. cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defense systems.
While it is understandable that Dion would not reject the Conservative budget before seeing it nevertheless he can be almost certain that it will not have too many goodies that would make it difficult to vote against. There just is not much left in the cupboard. The Conservatives are certainly not averse to an election anyway. My prediction is that the Liberals will likely let the budget pass after a period of squeals. Dion has already had a lot of practice in not standing up for anything but having the Liberal party sit on its hands.
The public memory does not last long and if the economy worsens and Harper makes a few blunders the Liberals remain in the wings as the default choice as Tweedle Ho-Hum.

NDP targets Dion over looming Tory budget vote
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 3:43 PM ET
CBC News
The NDP challenged Stéphane Dion's Liberals on Wednesday to oppose next week's Conservative budget, accusing the party of losing the "moral right" to call itself the official opposition while refusing to bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government.
'We'll find out next week if they'll actually do anything about Harper's agenda,' NDP finance critic Thomas Mulcair said at a news conference Wednesday in Ottawa.(Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)
NDP finance critic Thomas Mulcair said his party had written a letter to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty detailing its concerns with the "wrong track" the Conservatives have taken over the past two years and indicated the New Democrats would vote against the Feb. 26 budget.
Mulcair also ridiculed Dion for showing "incredible weakness" in giving indications earlier this week that his party might abstain from the budget vote, despite "boasting" in a Liberal pamphlet sent around the Ottawa area this week that the party was a "strong and principled alternative" to the Tories.
"That's what the Liberals say about themselves," Mulcair told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. "We'll find out next week if they'll actually do anything about Harper's agenda."
Following an address to Quebec manufacturers and exporters on Monday, Dion told reporters he won't lean one way or the other on the budget until he has seen the document.
But he added he might allow the budget to pass if it appears "acceptable or at least not too harmful for the Canadian economy."

Dion said his party would decide when it is appropriate to trigger an election, while also noting that an election would cost around $350 million in public expenses.
Tories 'picking winners' with tax cuts: Mulcair
But Mulcair said Dion's hint of an abstention showed he had "no credibility" remaining as an effective opposition leader.
"Given their track record over the last year, the Liberals have forfeited any moral right to be considered a credible opposition and a credible political force," Mulcair said.
The Montreal-area MP accused Flaherty and the Conservatives of "picking winners" by giving petroleum companies and big banks billions in tax breaks in last fall's mini-budget, while failing to invest in or ignoring the struggling manufacturing and forestry sectors.
In October, the Tories' mini-budget vote passed 127 to 76 in the House of Commons, with the Liberals abstaining, while both the Bloc Québécois and NDP voted against it.
Mulcair also outlined his party's key budget priorities, calling for new investment in health care, manufacturing and job creation, infrastructure, and sustainable development.