Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Bush Doggsy Twins

This is then premier Howard the Australian Bush lapdog together with his Canadian soulmate Stephen Harper his Canadian twin. This is from the Sidney Morning Herald.
We now know that a former Harper speech writer, fellow of the Fraser Institute, and fellow right wing campaigner who was working in the present election was the actual plagiarist. Harper would have come up with the same substance anyway even if he wrote his own speech.

Fraser Institute Fellow and Conservative Campaigner responsible for plagiarism.

Owen Lippert a senior fellow of the Fraser institute, a former member of the Globe and Mail editorial board, and also a person who taught at Carelton and UBC thinks it is OK to just copy out Howard's speech in big gobs and pass it over to Harper without telling him. Well I guess my earlier post about the Running Dogs of Bush software company was not quite right. The actual process was that the Running Dog software company first produced the speech for Howard. Harper was such an insignificant entity at that time as Leader of the Canadian Alliance that no speech was produced by the company for him. Harper's flunky Owen Lippert plagiarised the speech as delivered by Howard rather than receiving it from the Running Dogs of Bush company. Lippert did at least realise that the speech was a great speech for any running dog of Bush. Of course now Harper is a bona fide member of the Running Dogs of Bush group and so he will get any future speeches directly. Howard of course has lost his job a Australian premier. Would that Harper follow in his path.
Given Dion's professorial background and the plagiarism it is appropriate that he call for Harper's expulsion. However that sort of talk just reinforces the image of Dion as an academic. He should call for Harper to be tarred and feathered and run out of parliament. Dion needs a more masculine muscular tone none of that effete ivory tower stuff.

Tories admit plagiarism in Harper speech
Speech writer resigns from campaign after Liberals reveal much of a 2003 speech on Iraq by Harper was cribbed from then Australian prime minister John Howard

Globe and Mail Update
September 30, 2008 at 4:25 PM EDT
OTTAWA — A senior Conservative campaign official has resigned after the Liberals revealed Tuesday that nearly half of Stephen Harper's 2003 speech urging Canada to send troops into Iraq was copied word-for-word from then Australian prime minister John Howard.
In a statement, Owen Lippert says he was working in Mr. Harper's office in 2003 when he was asked to write a speech for the-then leader of the opposition.
"Pressed for time, I was overzealous in copying segments of another world leader's speech ... I apologize to all involved and have resigned my position from the Conservative campaign."
Mr. Lippert said neither his superiors or Mr. Harper was aware of what he had done.

Watch a side-by-side comparision of videos released by the Liberal Party which they say shows Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's 2003 speech urging Canada to send troops into Iraq was copied word-for-word from then Australian prime minister John Howard

Liberal MP Bob Rae said the copied speech is damning evidence of the fact Canada is losing its own voice in foreign policy under a Conservative government. The country has become a parrot of right-wing interests from the U.S. and other foreign countries under Harper's Conservatives, Mr. Rae said.
"How can Canadians trust anything that Mr. Harper says now?" Mr. Rae said during a speech in Toronto. "Stephen Harper's government has taken Canada down a foreign and defence policy path unworthy of our great country."
Mr. Harper made his address to the House of Commons two days after Mr. Howard, and a side-by-side comparison of the speeches show significant portions were identical, Mr. Rae said.
"How does a leader in Canada's Parliament, on such a crucial issue, end up giving almost the exact same speech as any other country's leader, let alone a leader who was a key member of George W. Bush's coalition of the willing?" Mr. Rae said.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said Mr. Harper should be expelled from the party and said his actions raise serious doubts about his ability to lead Canada's foreign policy without having to follow the direction of countries with right wing policies.
The Liberal campaign released videos of Mr. Howard and Mr. Harper's speeches, which were delivered March 18, 2003 and March 20, 2003, respectively.
"We should all remember the intense international pressure that Canada was under to send our troops to Iraq," Mr. Rae said. th
Many of the lines of Mr. Howard's speech were also used in editorials Mr. Harper submitted to newspapers such as the Toronto Star, National Post and Ottawa Citizen.
Mr. Lippert is a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute and holds a Ph.D in modern European history. He worked as press secretary to Kim Campbell when she was attorney general and justice minister, and taught at Carleton University and University of British Columbia. More recently, he worked as a senior policy adviser to Bev Oda, the International Co-operation minister.
For a period of time in 1996, he served on the editorial board of The Globe and Mail.
Earlier, Conservative spokesman Yaroslav Baran told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Rae's "attack" was evidence of Liberal desperation.
"This is exactly why the Liberals are in the trouble they're in, as a party and as a campaign," Mr. Baran said Tuesday. "They want to focus on a speech from five years, two elections, three Parliaments ago, from a party that no longer exists.
Mr. Baran said the major issue on the minds of Canadians is the economy, and the Liberals should be focusing on that.
The fact the Liberals are making this accusation is evidence of their weak campaign and leadership, Mr. Baran said.
"We're not going to get drawn into which staffer wrote which speech five years ago," he said. "This is nothing but desperation from the Liberal campaign, and it's completely irrelevant to the real concerns of voters in this election."
A senior Conservative strategist repeatedly refused this morning to address the allegations of plagiarism by the Liberals. The strategist was on an off-the-record conference call with about 40 journalists.
Although the call was scheduled to discuss Mr. Harper's role in the upcoming leaders' debates and the request by the Tories to extend the economy portion of the debate because of the recent crisis, the strategist was inundated with questions from journalists about the Iraq speech.
The strategist dismissed the allegations as not being relevant and characterized the Liberal allegations as “gotcha” journalism and why Liberals are now at “an all-time low in the polls.”
At times, he was testy with reporters, dismissing a question as to whether the Bush White House asked Mr. Harper to make the remarks as “one of the most ridiculous speculative assertions I have heard.”
However, the strategist would not say whether the speech was plagiarized or who wrote it.
"He's unable to choose his own words," Mr. Dion said at a campaign event at a soup kitchen in Gatineau, Que. "Canadians want their country [to] speak with its own voice on the world stage."
While plagiarism is a major offence, the fact that Mr. Harper lifted words from another leader on such a critical issue as the war in Iraq is even worse, Mr. Dion said.
"He chose the words of the coalition of the willing," Mr. Dion said. "We have two problems. [He] plagiarized, but at the same time, plagiarized George W. Bush about the war in Iraq."
Not to be outdone, the New Democrats reminded voters Tuesday of several Liberals who advocated Canadian participation in the Iraq war, most notably deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
With a report from The Canadian Press

Seat Projections as of Sept. 28 (Democratic Space)

These are the seat projections and percentage of popular vote (in parentheses) from Democratic Space Sept. 28. The Conservatives are drifting away a bit from the majority of 155 seats.

Conservatives 140 (36.7)

Liberals 82 (24.5)

NDP 35 (19.6)

Bloc 49 (9.4)

Green 0 (8.9)

Other 2 (1.0)

The actual source of Harper's plagiarised speech

As many articles including this one in the Star note the speech of John Howard and Harper supporting the sending of troops to help out Bush in Iraq are quite similar and in some places word for word the same. However the real source of the speech was the Running Dogs of Bush software company that produced speeches of this sort on demand using terms and syntax that were vetted beforehand by the Bush administration. The company is still active. Probably much of the official pap on Afghanistan by Canadian officials is produced by the same company! Some of the most well known speeches of Tony Blair were produced by the company.

The importance of this plagiarism is not that it repeats what Howard said but that it is symptomatic of Harper's wish to become a running dog of US imperialism to use old Maoist phraseology. He admires the U.S. and hates welfare state Canada and has often said as much noting that he is inspired by the US conservative movement. Here are a couple of sample quotes::
Your country [the USA], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world."-Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task."- Stephen Harper in his article "It is time to seek a new relationship with Canada," December 12th, 2000.

For those who do not think that Harper is intent on remaking Canada it is important to be aware of these types of statement. I am surprised that the Liberals have not used them more. There are plenty of them.

Harper copied foreign policy speech, Liberals charge TheStar.com - Federal Election - Harper copied foreign policy speech, Liberals charge

Tory leader accused of lifting parts 2003 speech in favour of joining Iraq war
September 30, 2008 Bruce Campion-SmithOttawa bureau chief
OTTAWA–Stephen Harper's 2003 speech urging support for the Iraq war was copied almost word-for-word from parts of a speech that Australian Prime Minister John Howard had delivered just days earlier, Liberals charged today.
Bob Rae, the party's foreign affairs critic, played tapes of the two speeches revealing that Harper parroted Howard's own arguments why Australian troops should be dispatched into the controversial conflict.
Rae cited the incident as further proof that under the Conservatives, Canada's foreign policy has become tied to Washington.
"How does a leader in Canada's Parliament, on such a crucial issue, end up giving almost the exact same speech as any another country's leader, let alone a leader who was a key member of George W. Bush's Coalition of the Willing?" Rae told a Toronto audience today.
The Liberals say that almost half of Harper's speech to the House of Commons on March 20, 2003 was a "verbatim copy" of the speech of the speech Mr. Howard had already delivered in the Australian Parliament on Mar. 18.
"Pundits called it one of the best speeches of Mr. Harper's career. The problem is it wasn't Mr. Harper's speech; it was former Australian Prime Minister John Howard's speech," Rae said, according to a prepared text of his remarks.
"The decision on whether to commit troops to join the war on Iraq was by far the greatest test leaders across the globe faced this decade," Rae said.
"Mr. Harper couldn't find his own voice, so he borrowed someone else's," he said.
Liberal leader Stéphane Dion picked up Rae's criticisms later, saying Harper should be "expelled."
"We have a prime minister who commits plagiarism."
Dion told reporters Harper is "unable to choose his won words."
He said there were "two problems: he plagiarized, and he plagiarized the words of George W. Bush about Iraq, which shows you he simply cannot remain prime minister at this time."
But the Conservative campaign is steadfastly refusing to address the charge of plagiarism. It will not acknowledge who wrote the speech, saying that since 2003 there has been almost 100 per cent turnover in political staff in Harper's office.
A senior Conservative official speaking on background to reporters said the Liberals are "dredging up a five-year-old speech by an Opposition leader of a party that no longer exists," and the issue itself is no longer relevant to Canadian voters who are concerned about the economy.
The revelation could prove deeply embarrassing, even politically damaging for Harper, who has been boasting in this election that under the Conservatives, Canada has found its voice on the world stage.
Rae warned voters against supporting a "Republican-Conservative" government and questioned how Harper's views on foreign policy can now be trusted.
Rae also reminded voters that former prime minister Jean Chrétien refused to send Canadian soldiers to Iraq.
With files from Tonda MacCharles and The Canadian Press

Harper plays the piano and art lovers.

This is from the Globe and Mail.

While this is a progressive policy nevertheless it is also a transparent attempt to buy some art supporters votes and undo some of the damage his earlier remarks on the arts may have done.
'This is just one of many promises used to buy votes and get a majority so he won't have to be worried about what anyone thinks and can get on with his real agenda. Remember his income trust taxation promise, his promise not to manipulate election timing by passing the fixed election date law? I am sure you have your own favorite. And this guy is the most trusted of all the leaders. Of course, everyone knows he can be trusted to break his promises. Or a better explanaton is that we can trust him to successfully dupe a lot of people.

Harper offers tax credit for children's arts programs
With a report from The Canadian Press
September 30, 2008
OTTAWA -- Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is targeting families - and hoping to assuage the angered arts community - by promising a new tax credit for childhood arts programs.
His announcement yesterday comes as the Tories are being criticized for cutting arts and culture programs across the country, and just days after Mr. Harper denounced artists as a subsidy-reliant elite that has nothing in common with ordinary Canadians.
Before a backdrop of children playing hockey and musical instruments, and standing with some "typical" Canadian families, Mr. Harper promised to introduce a new tax credit of up to $500 for music, art and drama lesson fees for children under 16.
It would be similar to the $500 Children's Fitness Tax Credit his party introduced after the last election for children who participate in sports.
He said both tax credits would be made fully refundable for low-income families.
Mr. Harper also promised to let charities and not-for-profit groups set up registered education savings plans for children from low-income families.
"Giving working families a break is one of the most important Conservative priorities," Mr. Harper told a news conference in Ottawa. "The credit will apply on up to $500 of eligible fees for children under 16 who participate in eligible arts activities."
Mr. Harper has also been under fire from arts groups for $45-million in cuts to arts and culture funding.
"Today's announcement shows, as I've been saying, that this government in fact does support culture and the arts," said Mr. Harper.
Last week, the Conservative Leader said "ordinary working people" were unable to relate to taxpayer-subsidized cultural elites when they see them at a "rich gala" on television.
Tax experts said a $500 tax credit on arts activity fees would likely translate into a maximum $75 for families.
"When we talk about credits and the actual impact of ... credits in the tax system, we're not talking about [getting] $500 in your pocket," said Cleo Hamel, a senior tax analyst with H&R Block. "Because it's a credit, it's only going to be a percentage that they make available to you based on a maximum $500 to start with, and it's usually based on the lowest tax rate."
With the lowest tax rate set at 15 per cent, what looks like a $500 bouquet becomes a $75 arrangement. That cash comes off of the tax bill people owe the government.
At Kelowna Music School, artistic director Lorna Paterson applauded the idea, even if the dollar value doesn't amount to much. At her school, a session's worth of music classes for five-year-olds costs $165, and she says they are already handing out bursaries to help families get their children involved.
The credit is worth an estimated $150-million a year.

Spoof on US Presidential debate

This is from Dennis Perrin's blog. Maybe someone can do something the same for the Canadian English debate on Thursday. Perrin has written jokes for Bill Maher and others and has written several books as well, including Savage Mules about the Democrats and endless war. If Obama is elected he can write a sequel as Obama is planning to increase the size of the US military as well as increase the US presence in Afghanistan. Obama of course is the great agent of change in the US.

How Lucky We Are
JIM LEHRER: Good evening. I'm Jim Lehrer. LEHRER: You may remember me from an earlier age of TV journalism, when we transmitted official lies and propaganda to our educated audience in a very calm, reassuring way. When oil companies weren't afraid to openly finance our efforts. Well, those days are gone now, lost amid all the shouting, sound effects, visual wipes, incomplete sentences, and the general hullaballoo that makes my aging brain hurt. Dear God how it hurts. Some days I want to just put a Tec 9 in my mouth and . . . (coughs). Tonight, we're honored to have the two leading candidates for president of the United States. Let's bring 'em out here! Fellas!MCCAIN: (whispering) I'm taking you out, gook boy.OBAMA: (whispering) Step up, cracka.LEHRER: Gentlemen, thank you for being here. As you both know, tonight's format is designed to skim over complex issues and avoid talking about where the real power in the country resides. So feel free to pop off at will, regardless of facts or objective reality. Senator Obama, the economy. What's your view?OBAMA: Jim, I was talking to some of my Wall Street backers earlier today, and they're hurting. This current crisis, started deliberately by the Bush administration with Sen. McCain as their dancing monkey, means of course that my rich and influential friends and supporters are going to need help. Lots of it. This is why I'll eventually support whatever bail out is coughed up in Washington. But I want the working people of America to know that I'll continue speak out of both sides of my mouth, will employ the term "Wall Street/Main Street" for as long as my advisers say it resonates, and will look good while doing it. That's my promise to the middle class. MCCAIN: Jim, what Sen. Obama is refusing to say is that neither one of us really cares about average working people. If we did, we wouldn't be up here, surrounded by Secret Service agents packing some of the finest heat this great nation still produces. But it's part of getting elected, so we go through the motions, say what our handlers think is best, and hope that it sticks. And you know what? It almost always does! I swear to God, the crap people will swallow in this country boggles what's left of my fading mind. As I was telling my dear friend General Petraeus the other day, "David, there's a knot on the back of my thigh. Do you think it's a clot? Should I have it checked? What time is chow?" And that's why overseeing an equitable bail out is so important to the economy.LEHRER: Okay. Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about war. MCCAIN: (claps hands) Finally!OBAMA: Jim, let me say that I'm just as eager to promote war as Sen. McCain.LEHRER: Duly noted, Senator. Let's start with you, then. You're the new Commander in Chief. It's a scary world out there. How do you handle it?OBAMA: With bombs, Jim. Cluster bombs, cruise missiles, white phosphorus -- whatever will do the job. The difference between Sen. McCain and myself is that when I call for expanded war, I sound reasonable, like the guy who has dozens of bodies stuffed in his crawlspace, but is able to explain away the stench while questioned by police. Sen. McCain lacks that kind of steadiness. If it was his house, he'd lose his temper and blow his cover. America needs a leader who can deny the corpses buried in the walls, and turn that rotting smell into freedom's potpourri. MCCAIN: Once again, Sen. Obama's showing his inexperience. As any professional serial killer knows, you don't bury your victims inside the house, or even in the backyard. You take them to a neutral location, chop them up into easily disposable pieces, and disperse their remains over a wide area. Sen. Obama's plan rests on his ability to sweet talk the authorities into ignoring what their senses are telling them. In these dangerous times, that's not going to hold up. As my soulmate General Petraeus once put it, you can spread butter on pretty much anything, but freedom must contain essential proteins, and grass stains will come out if you pre-soak, but only if the air is dry. That's the kind of spirit America needs to believe in. LEHRER: Gentlemen, let's get specific. Who do you plan to kill, and how?OBAMA: Jim, I opposed the Iraq invasion, which was easy to do since I wasn't in the Senate yet, and so wasn't put on the spot. Since then, depending on polls and intelligence reports, I've hedged my bets about Iraq, but am now settling into the position shared by many leading imperial strategists. Yes, I'll continue to kill and suppress Iraqis, but our client regime there must help finance their own subjugation. It's only fair. As for Afghanistan, I defy Sen. McCain to match my bloodlust on that front. John talks a good game about blowing the living hell out of civilians there, but I'll actually do it. In fact, I can't wait to do it. It's near the top of my list. (pulls out list from breast pocket) See? Right there, Number 2, just under "Nail Anne Hathaway."MCCAIN: Sen. Obama's leaving out his desire to bomb Pakistan, which is just crazy. OBAMA:(shaking list at McCain) It's Number 5, John! Number 5! Don't misrepresent my position!MCCAIN: Only a madman would try that. No, Jim, provoking, undermining, and perhaps eventually fighting Russia is the wisest course of action. I've been to Tibilisi, Gori, Rustavi, Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocapillo, Baranquilla, and Perdilla. I'm a killer, Jim. OBAMA: Jim, I protest Sen. McCain injecting Johnny Cash into this debate.MCCAIN: Sen. Obama may be too young to know this, but I was doing the Hank Snow version.LEHRER: Amazing as it seems, we've run out of time. Gentlemen, take a bow.LEHRER: There you have it, America. One of these guys is going to run the place. Fortunately for me, I probably won't live to see how it all turns out. Goodnight everybody!
posted by Dennis Perrin at 12:23 P

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ottawa offices of US Defence Dept. Agency ransacked and torched.

This is from the Ottawa Sun.
This happened back on Sept. 15 but it seems it is not very newsworthy. If the attack was meant to embarass the government for lax security it doesn't seem to have worked because there is also lax reporting! The aim may have been commercial espionage but it also could be some radical group doing research! Interesting that the Dept of Foreign Affairs finds real estate for this US military procurement agency. All part of our military-industrial complex tie in with the government no doubt.

September 27, 2008
Arson at U.S. agency
Police investigating after Bank St. offices of U.S. Defense Department agency ransacked and torched
Windows at this Bank St. building have been boarded up since last week, when an arsonist set fire to some offices leased by a U.S. military procurement agency. (Della Rollins/special to Sun Media)
The U.S. State Department is investigating whether national security was threatened after someone broke into a secure American military procurement agency on Bank St. last week and ransacked offices before torching the place.
The RCMP and Ottawa police are also investigating the Sept. 15 arson at 275 Bank St.
"Whenever something like this happens it falls into the general realm of a security matter," U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Lynda Cheatham said.
Someone broke into the secure building -- only accessible after-hours with a swipe card -- and set five fires on the second and fourth floors. Locked cabinets and drawers were pried open, employees said.
The first and third floors, which house the Bangladesh High Commission and Gold Key Management, were untouched.
A high-ranking police officer speculated a possible motive could have been to embarrass the U.S. and Canadian governments on the eve of elections in both countries by exposing their lax security.

It was news to the building's landlord that the entire second floor was home to a satellite office of the U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency, a wing of the Department of Defense that handles $90 billion in military contracts worldwide.
"I'm not sure who's in there or what they're doing," Gold Key Management president Luigi Caparelli said.
The Ottawa police file said there was a rumour a U.S. intelligence agency was working out of the building.
But University of Ottawa professor Wesley Wark, a national security expert, says it looks more like commercial espionage. Competing bids, contracts and specifications could be stolen by companies looking for the inside line on the lucrative deals, Wark said.
The only classified documents DCMA Americas' offices would contain would be information about the purchase of sensitive military materials, Wark said.
The U.S. State Department would be part of the investigation to make sure certain information didn't get out, he said.
"There would be concern of commercial espionage."
A security representative with the U.S. State Department is working with police on the case, Cheatham said.
The DCMA is responsible for managing the contracts for everything the U.S. military needs, from rifles to tanks to missiles.
DCMA Americas has offices in countries all over the world, including one in London, Ont. Canada is one of America's main suppliers of military goods.
Staff who work on the second floor of the 40,000-sq.-ft. building were allowed back in the day after the fire, but people who work on the other floors had to wait more than a week to get back in and assess the damage.
The fourth floor houses the Canadian Co-operative Association, a non-governmental organization which represents the co-operatives and credit unions of Canada.
The crime has left DCMA staff shaken, said U.S. military Capt. Eric Wilson, who works in the Ottawa office.
"We're feeling violated," he said.
"It's like someone breaking into your home away from home."
DCMA staff have been moved to a temporary location. It's unknown when they'll be allowed back to 275 Bank St., Wilson said.
He declined to comment on whether any confidential documents or computers were stolen.
"All I know is that there are a lot of police agencies working together," he said.
Wilson referred calls to the agency's public affairs office, but no one returned calls. Calls to the U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA were not returned.
RCMP are still standing guard at the building's entrances, which is protocol, under the Geneva Convention, when a crime occurs at a building that houses a foreign agency, said RCMP spokesman Corp. J.J. Hainey.
He said the Mounties are assisting the Ottawa police in the investigation, but couldn't confirm which unit is handling the case. Ottawa police say the Mounties aren't involved with the arson investigation.
Ottawa police have a video surveillance photo of the suspect, but arson investigators aren't releasing it. They didn't return calls for an interview.
Caparelli, who estimates the fire caused $6 million in damage, said crews have been cleaning up and securing the building. He said lots of law-enforcement types have been hanging around.
Gold Key employs commissionaires as security, but each tenant has the option of increasing their own security.
Ottawa police said it was leased by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, who then leased it to the U.S. Embassy, who then leased it to the DCMA.
Caparelli, who hasn't received the fire marshal's report yet, found the break-in and arson "very strange."
"There's only documents in all those offices," he said.
"Nobody looking for a few bucks is going to break into an office building."
Fire investigators have been tight-lipped about the case.

New Ekos polls shows Conservative decline Liberals up.

This is from wikipedia. The poll was taken just yesterday Sep. 28.The site also contains other recent polls. Some recent polls show a considerable decline from the high of 40 in a few polls a while back for the Conservatives. In spite of my disdain for the Liberals I am heartened by the switch back into minority territory for the Conservatives but then it isn't over yet. Myself I couldn't stomach voting for the Liberals to stop Harper but then I can understand that those with stronger stomachs might do so. I would be happy enough to see Dion do relatively well and sabotage those saboteurs within his own party.

Conservatives 34

Liberals 26

NDP 20

Green 10

Bloc 10

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dion says Liberals are in the middle..

The Liberals are in the middle of a disastrous campaign that is for certain. I gather from what Dion says he is in favor of the Conservative tax cuts for business. He has a point that taxing businesses may marginally effect the creation of jobs but it depends upon the details of the situation. But unless the government socialises more productive enterprises raising taxes will tend to put Canada at a disadvantage to some extent in competition with countries that have lower tax rates. However, other countries are in great need of our energy and mineral resources. As these become scarcer investors will invest high taxes or not. We have other advantages as well such as political stability. But as long as government does not take over productive enterprises government must depend upon taxation to pay for services and the profits of enterprises will be distributed to shareholders. What a strange situation we have when a party is called socialist but never seems to bother campaigning on socialising the means of production. The NDP is nothing near socialist in fact it is a Third Way type social democratic party trying to rescue some minimal welfare state from the ravages of rampaging capitalism that has been able to weaken the labor movement and destroy much of the welfare state entitlements since the recent globalisation of capitalism and triumph of neo-liberal policies.

Dion says Liberals are in the middle
Last Updated: Sunday, September 28, 2008 2:40 PM ET
CBC News
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion moved to locate the party firmly in the middle between the Conservatives and the New Democrats on Sunday.
Addressing a Liberal women's meeting in Toronto, he said the Conservatives do not understand that the role of the government is to help people, while the New Democrats do not understand that the role of the private sector is to create jobs and wealth.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is an old-fashioned conservative, while NDP Leader Jack Layton is an old-fashioned socialist, he said. Dion described the Tories as having a "laissez-faire I don't care" approach.
The NDP's plan to roll back Conservative tax cuts for businesses and increase social spending is an effort to buy votes using "monopoly money." Taxing companies will increase the burden on the economy and the companies that create jobs.
The Liberals Green Shift proposal would cut taxes on productive activity, and tax pollution, he said.
Dion spoke after a number of Liberal women MPs had addressed the crowd. He was complimented for ensuring more than a third of the party's candidates in the Oct. 14 federal election are women.
Some of the speakers took shots at Harper, with candidate Diane Marleau calling him "a top-down paternalistic bully." Marleau is the incumbent in the Sudbury riding.
During her speech, Yasmin Ratansi, the incumbent in Toronto's Don Valley East riding, said, "All [Harper] wants to do is become the 51st state in the United States."

Walkom: A Little Problem with Capitalism

A little problem with capitalism. This is from the Star. This is an interesting brief history of capitalism in developed capitalist countries in the west. However as Walkom notes the welfare state has been to a considerable extent dismantled although the degree to which this is true varies from country to country. Many welfare state reforms such as universal health care were never even developed in the U.S. The union movement as Walkom also notes has been very much weakened. It is not at all clear where the people power is going to come from that will be able to force a better bargain. For the short term at least the power seems to be all with capital.
Unless the people decide to take social ownership in some form of the means of production they will always be at the mercy of capital since the engine of a capitalist economy is capitalist profit. Yet the issue of ownership of the means of production does not even register as far as political discussion is concerned. Even the NDP says nothing about this. The most they can muster is some bluster against further privatisation. But the former NDP government in Saskatchewan was guilty of some privatization. Even before the last Sask. election Calvert sold off the government interest in a heavy oil upgrader.
The result of the bailout will be a much larger deficit in the US. This together with the huge military budget will force cuts in social programs and infrastructure rebuilding and state and local budgets will be strapped for cash. There will be demands to cut entitlements. Anger can be deflected by focusing on illegal immigrants, outsourcing, and further demands to be tough on crime. The belligerent imperial foreign policy being pushed by both McCain and Obama also present opportunities to deflect anger upon foreign enemies and terrorists.

Serious people – economists and historians and investment analysts – say the U.S. financial crisis has parallels to the crisis that precipitated the Great Depression.
The financial crisis gripping the U.S. isn't an anomaly. We just have short memories
Sep 27, 2008 04:30 AM
Thomas Walkom National Affairs Columnist
What's happening now on Wall Street is seen as a new story. It is not. It is a very old one.
Karl Marx wrote about it; so did John Maynard Keynes. More recently, tycoon George Soros has pronounced on it, as has the redoubtable Economist, a decidedly pro-free market financial magazine.
This old story is quite simple: Capitalism is unstable. It is an economic system that can be ruthlessly productive. But is also one of wheels within wheels – internal contradictions Marx called them – that can, and regularly do, spin out of control.
Marx, a German philosopher suffering from boils, saw these contradictions as opportunities; he figured that capitalism's self-destruction would lead to a better world.
Keynes, a British economist who liked to speculate in foreign currency over his morning tea and toast, saw them as problems that could destroy a world he rather liked. The welfare state edifice that bears his name was designed in the post-1945 period to, literally, save capitalism from itself.
Banks would be regulated to keep financiers from scamming the economy into the ground. Labour unions would be encouraged, in order to give workers a stake in the status quo and inoculate them against radical politics.
The rich would agree to government tax-and-spend policies, knowing that – in the end – it's always better to feed the poor than have them slit your throat.
It was a giant, unspoken bargain – forced by the Depression of the `30s, tempered by war and hammered into shape under the threat of Communism.
For a long time, it worked.
But the great bargain could never resolve those inconsistencies inherent in the world economy. Over time, new forces came into play.
The very foreign investment that allowed U.S.-based firms to prosper in the post-1945 world encouraged rivals to develop: first West Germany and Japan, latterly China and the European Union.
Throughout the industrial West, unionized workers cushioned by the full-employment policies of the welfare state demanded and won pay hikes that exceeded their productivity gains. Which is why, in the `70s, inflation took off.
Meanwhile, the collapse of Communism and the discrediting of revolutionary politics removed pressure from employers. Why bother forging a great bargain with your workers if they don't pose a threat?
And so came phase one of the retrenchment – the destruction of the welfare state. In England, it began as Thatcherism, in the U.S. Reaganomics. Both leaders set out to limit trade union power in their respective countries. Both did so, Thatcher by facing down the miners, Reagan by firing unionized air controllers.
Their aim was not traditional fiscal conservatism. Indeed, under Reagan, U.S. federal finances spiralled into deficit.
Rather it was to alter the balance of forces within society. Reagan's tax cuts were designed to help the rich; Thatcher's monetarism focused on squeezing wages.
In Canada, we had Paul Martin and Mike Harris – similar policies but on a different scale.
As a result, the income gap widened throughout much of the industrial world. The rich got richer; the middling classes lagged; the poor got poorer.
Phase two involved the dismantling of the very financial safeguards erected after the debacle of the `30s. The specifics varied from country to country, but the aim was the same: Deregulate financial industries so they would centralize and focus their tremendous resources into new, more profitable areas.
In the U.S., financial deregulation involved scrapping laws that had protected small depositors – which led in the late `80s to the collapse of so-called savings and loans banks.
This in turn caused the U.S. government to engineer its first big post-1945 bailout.
In Canada, deregulation led to the scrapping of a system that had kept various portions of the financial industry isolated from one another. Under the new regime, insurers, trust companies and investment dealers merged and melded. Lending restrictions were eased.
Phase three was sparked, ironically, by the industrial world's very success in fighting inflation. As inflation went down so did returns offered through standard investment channels. Investors seeking higher returns began to search out riskier – and better-paying – options.
And so came the fascination with so-called new financial instruments. Many households were satisfied with nothing more exotic than mutual funds. But for well-heeled individuals and firms, the new frontier was far more exotic: derivatives, hedge funds, index funds, collateralized debt obligations.
All worked on the venerable principle of leverage: Putting in a little in order to earn a lot. Alas, as we should have remembered from the `30s, leverage only works when the economy is going up. When things start to falter, a leveraged asset can become an intolerable millstone.
In the end, the private equity companies and sub-prime mortgage buyers were doing much the same thing: borrowing money they couldn't afford to repay, in the hope that whatever assets they purchased would keep rising in value.
It was a gigantic ponzi scheme that couldn't possibly last. And it didn't.
So, now we're back at square one. The system is near collapse. U.S. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke may remember his history (he's an authority on the depression of the `30s). But few others do.
On television, a baffled U.S. President George W. Bush resembles the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. Here in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper insists that this country's fundamentals are fine, a sentiment that, while true, is largely irrelevant in the context of a potential world collapse.
American taxpayers are understandably miffed at being asked to bail out the entire global capitalist system. Right now, their ire is aimed at Wall Street tycoons. But in their hearts, they recognize that this isn't much of a deal.
The $700-billion (U.S.) bailout may save the financial system. But after ordinary people have anted up the cash, will their reward be nothing more than a return to the way things were? Even politicians are beginning to recognize that any lasting solution must deal with more than the barebones economics of the crisis.
Ironically, what they are groping for is the kind of solution that we've spent the past 40 years dismantling. It's time for another grand bargain – not necessarily the one that gave us the post-war welfare state, but one that delivers a similar quid pro quo. And it will go something like this: We'll save your damned old capitalism; we'll let you have the big houses and big salaries (although not necessarily quite as big as they were). But in return, you'll have to give us something back – on jobs, on wages, on the things that we need to live a civilized life. Nor will we let you destroy everything we hold dear just so you can make a buck.
And don't give us all that free-market guff. Because we know, just as you know, that at times of great stress, the free market doesn't work. This crisis has reminded us of that.Thomas Walkom writes on political economy. His regular column appears Wednesday and Saturday.

Alberta bitter about Harper's bitumen remarks.

Seems Albertans would like Harper to keep his sticky hands off bitumen that Alberta owns. Harper wanted to emphasize the importance of having more value added production in Alberta. Stelmach in an earlier Conservative campaign wanted to not export the bitumen period but to upgrade it in Alberta to produce more value added production within the province. But Harper cannot go that way because the U.S. is already a big importer of bitumen and planning to import more so that is why he comes out with the meaningless prohibition. The US emission standards are at least as good if not better than Canada's so there will be no problem. This is a good example of the careful sleazy nothingness manufactured in the Conservative strategy rooms.This is from the Edmonton Sun.

September 28, 2008
Bitumen talk stirs pot
Alberta Tories not sure where Harper's coming from
The last guy who occupied the big office on the third floor of the sandstone castle called a similar touch-and-go attack on Alberta's interests a "drive-by smear."
But Stephen Harper's 12 hours of living dangerously in what's allegedly his home province last week received hardly a murmur of reaction from the Stelmachistas.
Maybe because the prime minister's plan to place semi-tough limits on oilsands exports is the same thing that Premier Ed Stelmach promised he would do two years ago during the provincial PC leadership campaign.
At the time, Stelmach compared shipping bitumen and jobs down the pipeline to Texas and Illinois with stripping the "topsoil" from a farm. After 20 long frustrating months, Stelmach's hopeless Energy Minister Mel Knight and his energy-crats have yet to produce their value-added strategy.
Meanwhile, pipeline companies and energy outfits like EnCana are scrambling to build lines and upgraders south of the Medicine Line to ship and process millions of barrels of raw Alberta bitumen.
On Friday, Harper's campaign plane landed briefly in Calgary to deliver Knight the political slap up the side of the head that the premier should have given him months ago - by announcing a plan that "will prohibit the export of bitumen."
This happened a day after it was revealed that an outfit called Value Creation had walked away from its semi-built $5-billion BA project in Upgrader Alley.
Meanwhile, EnCana was whooping it up about its $3.6- billion upgrader in Roxana, Ill., that will process a quarter of a million barrels a day of Alberta bitumen when it's up and smoking.
Two more Upgrader Alley projects are in some kind of development limbo, with others expected to follow.
Harper talked about how the country can't "afford to export the jobs and spinoff industrial opportunities created by the upgrading of bitumen."
OK, Harper was not exactly being upfront and honest. He's an Ottawa politician, so everything that comes out of his mouth is targeted at a southern Ontario soccer-mom audience.
Albertans - like we were under Brian Mulroney - are nothing more than federal Tory cannon fodder.
That's why the ban was downgraded to bitumen exports to countries with lower greenhouse gas emissions standards than Canada.
Except the only country that bitumen is exported to right now is the United States, which has pretty good emissions rules.
The one Canadian province where emissions are being regulated with a carbon tax is Alberta.
So it's really all make- believe, although Enbridge brass might be feeling a little seasick about their proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to pump half a million barrels a day of Alberta bitumen to a tanker port at Kitimat, B.C.
That's the point that deputy premier Ron Stevens was trying vaguely to make about Harper's oilsands assault.
"That particular kind of idea just lends further uncertainty with respect to the development of our bitumen," Stevens sniffed.
It's an "idea" because Stevens doesn't believe Harper is really serious.
"You're in the business of speculating," he said. "I'm in the business of dealing with this matter with a new government.
"It's 25 words on a page," Stevens continued. "I don't know what it means."
Not exactly all-hands-on-deck-man-your-battle-stations stuff, is it?
Even though Harper's raid "is going to impact on our rights as a province" and on a product "which is owned by the people of Alberta."
Which is a lawyer's way of saying, keep your Ottawa hands off the oilsands which the Canadian constitution says is ours, although the Supreme Court of Canada - which in Pierre Trudeau's Canada is the country's real government - hasn't ruled in Ron's favour yet.
Heck, Harper didn't even tell the Alberta government this was coming down the Tory pipeline.
"He's my MP," Stevens yelped. "His office is right across the hall from mine."
"If in fact they want to pursue it," he added, "we're keen on having that discussion."
And that was about as good as it got.
What would Ralph Klein have done?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Flaherty: Manitoba is the second-last place to invest after Ontario

I am sure that when an investor decides to invest anywhere they look at more than the marginal effective tax rates. They will look at things such as labor costs, infrastructure required for their business and in the case of investing in certain areas such as mining or oil they will look at what natural resources are available. There is quite a bit of investment in oil in the southwest of the province at present and that is because there is likely more oil. The mines in the north were developed because of the minerals and happened in spite of the marginal tax rates. All you could say is if everything else were equal which is unlikely then an investor would be marginally better off investing in other provinces than Manitoba and Ontario.
Apparently it is OK for Flaherty to discourage investment in Ontario and Manitoba since neither has a Conservative government. It is wrong for Dion however to suggest Canada might have a recession under the Conservatives! This is from the National Post.

Flaherty: Manitoba is the second-last place to invest after Ontario (if you look at marginal effective tax rates ...)
Posted: September 25, 2008, 3:21 PM by Dan Goldbloom

Back in March, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty infuriated Canada's most populous province by declaring Ontario the "last place" for businesses to invest. So when he dropped by National Post headquarters for an Editorial Board meeting and podcast interview, I had to ask him: What's the second last place?In the podcast interview (listen here and read it here), Mr. Flaherty did some earnest mental groping and came up empty-handed. After reminding me that his Ontario-slam was based on PST/GST harmonization, he said:"I'd have to think of my corporate tax rates, give me a moment here to think, it must be ... certainly not Alberta. I'd have to check that, it wouldn't be fair for me to guess at which province. It would be a non-harmonized province because ... I'd have to check to make sure I'm accurate about which one. One of the non-harmonized ones."The Minister said he'd get back to me, and went on his way. And I was sure I'd heard the last from him on the question. But — shocker! — this politician kept his word and sent me an answer:"Currently Manitoba is ranked second to Ontario in term of the highest marginal effective tax rate."In other words, according to our Federal Minister of Finance, if you use the marginal effective tax rate criteria, Manitoba is the second last place to invest.Of course, Mr. Flaherty also praised Manitoba's NDP government for lowering corporate tax rates; but I have a funny feeling that Gary Doer and a million-plus Manitobans will be more upset about being called 'second worst' than thrilled with 'most improved.'dgoldbloom@nationalpost.com

New Philippine National Police Chief

This editorial is rather an exception for this newspaper Malaya. Most of the time editorials concentrate on criticising the Arroyo government and sometimes the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) as well. Opinion polls show that PNP is not all that well regarded by many Filipinos nor are the AFP but this editorial seems to give the departing police chief some credit for doing a good job. As the article notes too the transition seems to have taken place without any plotting in the background!

Well done, Mr. Razon
‘Well done, Mr. Razon. And welcome Mr. Verzosa.’
PNP chief Avelino Razon is turning over the baton today to Jesus Verzosa without fuss. Just the usual turnover ceremonies to be presided by Gloria Arroyo immediately after her arrival from a week-long visit to the United States. No controversies. That’s how changes of command ought to be. Chiefs come and go; the institution carries on.
A similar thing happened when Alexander Yano became AFP chief of staff. No attempts by other aspirants to appeal to "padrinos" in Palace, at least nothing we have heard of. Hopefully, we are now seeing the growing maturity of the uniformed services.
Razon leaves a PNP saddled with the usual problems. Lack of policemen; inadequate equipment, including service firearms, communication equipment and vehicles; and low pay and meager benefits. It all boils down to lack of money, which is not about to be corrected soon given the other equally pressing demands on the Treasury.
The PNP had to make do with available resources. Razon, given the constraints, has delivered.
Criminality has slightly decreased, which we suppose is achievement enough given the worsening economic situation. The key is Razon’s policy of putting more men and women on the streets and pouring most of the PNP’s resources into the field.
There has also been a noticeable improvement in the police’s observance of human rights. There have been less incidents of torture and disappearances. The blot on this score is the abduction of Jun Lozada at the airport. But given the propensity of Malacañang to resist all efforts at uncovering the truth behind each and every case of thievery, of which the $239 million broadband deal was only the latest, it is probably a comfort that there have been not more Lozadas.
On the anti-terrorism front, there have been no large-scale attacks mounted against civilians. There have been the occasional bombing attempts in Mindanao. A few have succeeded, but many more have been thwarted by the police. Expecting the police to put an end to terror acts is probably wishful thinking given that these are rooted in an underlying insurgency.
On the counter-insurgency front, the 2010 deadline for the AFP and the PNP to rout the communist rebellion is sure to be missed. There also appears to be no early resolution of the armed secessionist movement in the South.
The AFP and the PNP, however, cannot be expected to solve a fundamentally political problem, more so given the erosion of people’s trust in the Gloria administration.
While its components in the long run cannot rise above the level of this corrupt and incompetent administration, at least the PNP is trying and, at times, succeeding in doing so.
Well done, Mr. Razon. And welcome Mr. Verzosa.

Conservatives close to a Majority.

This poll shows that the Conservatives are very close to if not at majority status although given that the Bloc seems to be approving in Quebec perhaps seat projections would show they are still not quite there. Unfortunately there are no projections made in this article. The most significant change is the rise in the NDP to tie with the Liberals on their way down. This article is from the Star.

The situation is a bit of a dilemma for those wanting to stop Harper by strategic voting. In prior elections the NDP vote tended to collapse and migrate to the Liberals. Perhaps this time the trend in many constituencies could be for the Liberal vote to migrate to the NDP. The Conservatives could very well win another minority with a much reduced Liberal contingent but a larger NDP group in opposition. The Bloc too seems to be recovering. This might not be a bad outcome but then if Harper keeps to his view that he will govern anyway as if he has a majority there could be another election again soon. Hopefully Canadians would punish him for precipitating an unnecessary election. But then they are not punishing him for doing that this time or for going against his own election legislation.

Harper edges closer to majority TheStar.com - Federal Election - Harper edges closer to majority
40% Conservatives
21% Liberals
21% NDP
10% Bloc
7% Green
Margin of error: 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
Sample size: 1,508 respondents.
Conducted: Sept. 24–25.

Liberal support bleeding to Conservatives, NDP; Bloc surging in Quebec
September 27, 2008 Tonda MacCharlesOttawa Bureau
OTTAWA–The Conservatives have a tenuous grasp on a majority government, while the Liberals and New Democrats are in a dead heat for second place, a new poll shows.
The survey, conducted for the Toronto Star by Angus Reid Strategies, found that 40 per cent of Canadians would vote Conservative if an election were held tomorrow.
The Liberals under Stéphane Dion continue to drop, losing core supporters to the Tories as well as to the other parties. For the first time in the campaign, the Liberals and New Democrats, under Jack Layton, are tied at 21 per cent support. The Greens register 7 per cent support nationally.
There are several stories in the poll, which plumbed the views of 1,508 Canadians at the end of the third week of the campaign for the Oct. 14 election. In fact, the horse race is becoming an issue itself: The poll suggests Canadians are now seriously weighing what a majority Conservative government under Harper would mean.
In a speech yesterday, Harper stopped just short of saying voters should give him a majority government to protect the health of the economy.
"They can choose a strong government to keep Canada on track," Harper said. "Or they can choose a weak Parliament that will put our economic stability at risk."
Harper later told reporters he would like to see a Parliament "where we could ensure stability for some time to come, and where the opposition parties could be focused on making a positive contribution to the government's agenda rather than just trying to defeat the government at every turn or tear the government down or attack the economy of the country."
In Ontario, the Conservatives have taken a 12-point lead over the Liberals, 39 per cent to 27 per cent. The NDP are close behind the Liberals, at 25 per cent. The Greens register at 7 per cent.
The nationwide popular support needed to form a majority depends on how the vote is split among parties. Pollsters and analysts agree that 40 per cent places Harper squarely in majority territory, with sufficient popular support to win the 155 seats required for a majority government in the 308-seat House of Commons.
However, the poll shows voters could still scupper it through strategically voting to block Tory candidates.
Most respondents (66 per cent) believe a Harper-led majority would expand private health care and cut arts funding (64 per cent).
Nationwide, a majority do not believe Harper would recriminalize abortion or repeal same-sex marriage. But in Quebec, where the Tories hope to win seats from the Bloc Québécois, most Bloc voters believe a Conservative majority would do just those things.
The Bloc, which runs candidates only in Quebec, has regained its strength, and now leads again in that province, with 39 per cent support (10 per cent in the national calculations), compared to the Conservatives' 27 per cent.
The Liberals in Quebec are at 15 per cent support, and the NDP at 12 per cent.
Heading into the second half of the campaign, with the leaders' televised debates coming up on Wednesday (French-language) and Thursday (English-language), much is at stake as voters ponder a Conservative majority.
More than half of Liberal voters (54 per cent), and almost half of NDP (47 per cent), and Green (44 per cent) voters would seriously consider "strategically" switching their votes against their preferred candidate if it looks like another party has a better shot at winning, and could block a Conservative.
That's a worry not just for Harper, but for Dion too, says Mario Canseco, of the Angus Reid firm.
"When you look at it, there are 60 per cent of Canadians who don't want to vote for the Tories," said Canseco.
The problem for Harper's rivals is that his opposition is split among four parties in key regions, he said.
The traditional Liberal base is eroding, and "as the campaign progresses, Layton is really gaining and seen as a much more interesting leader while Dion is struggling badly," Canseco said.
Harper remains ahead of Dion and Layton in most questions on leadership qualities. The Conservative leader is seen as strong and decisive, with a vision for Canada's future, and as a good economic manager. More than half of respondents believe Dion cares for the environment, but he falters badly in the other categories.
Dion said yesterday he's not paying heed to questions about his leadership or the campaign, including doubts in the Liberal ranks.
"I don't worry at all because I'm fighting in this race for my country. And I know that Liberals are everywhere to fight for our country," he said.
Layton's weakness remains economic management. Just 16 per cent regard the NDP leader as someone who can steer the economy effectively.
When it comes to who is the preferred prime minister, Harper gets the nod from 33 per cent, Layton is at 18 per cent, and Dion at 9 per cent. (Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe scores 3 per cent and Green Leader Elizabeth May 2 per cent.)
Dion's poor performance registers when you look at the intentions of voters who cast ballots for the Liberal party in the 2006 election: 21 per cent now say they will vote Conservative, 13 per cent will vote NDP, and 6 per cent say they'll vote Green.
Harper's leadership has not shown a lot of positive momentum, but Dion is doing worse.
The Tories' 40 per cent approval rating is a two-point increase in just a week, and four points higher than its showing in the 2006 election, when the Tories won 36.3 per cent of the popular vote.
The Liberals at 21 per cent are nine points below their 2006 election showing (30.2 per cent).
A clear shift is the move among women now willing to vote Conservative (34 per cent).
Support among women for the Liberals has dropped to 21 per cent, said Canseco. The NDP polls higher among women at 26 per cent.
The survey of 1,508 Canadians was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
With files from Robert Benzie, Les Whittington and Bruce Campion-Smith

Friday, September 26, 2008

Harper wants to be elected dictator..

Of course his words for this are that he wants a stronger mandate and that one should fear a weak government. What we need is a majority government--a word that Harper does not use in order not to make his agenda transparent. Even though Harper was successfull in bullying the Liberals to pass Tory legislation Harper would rather not have to bother having to face any sort of potentially effective opposition. In order to pass Tory legislation they might also need to compromise and spend more on social programs. With our economy soon to decline Harper will be able to cut social spending in the name of prudent fiscal policy. This is from the Globe and Mail.

Each day, almost, Mr. Harper is strengthening the language he uses in asking for a majority government to manage the economy – although he carefully avoids ever using the term.
Conservatives have in the past expressed fears that the public starts to turn away when they near majority-level support, and Mr. Harper appears to still feel majority is a term to be avoided, even though he alluded to it clearly today.
“I say we need a strong mandate. I could say a stronger mandate,” he said.
“What we have seen increasingly is the other parties working together…and certainly all articulating a direction for the Canadian economy that would be totally different than this government and that has me very worried obviously about the pressure that they could bring to bear.”

Lawyer: Cutting house arrest a costly proposition.

Harper does not worry about money if it will buy votes. The point is not that his scheme will be more expensive and no doubt ineffective but that it will garner some votes and please some of his core constituents that may bring in more money to the party. The general taxpayer has to foot the bill but if this helps Harper get elected he could care less.

Cutting house arrest a costly proposition: lawyer
Last Updated: Friday, September 26, 2008 11:11 AM CT
CBC News
The Conservatives' campaign promise to get rid of conditional house arrest sentences for about 30 crimes would be expensive, a group of Manitoba defence lawyers says.
If the Tories are re-elected Oct. 14, leader Stephen Harper says they will end the use of house arrest sentences for property crimes, weapons offences, serious vehicular crimes, as well as drug trafficking, kidnapping and trafficking in people.
But house arrest is for low risk offenders and it saves the government millions of dollars, said Mark Wasyliw, spokesman for the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association.
If the 771 people currently serving conditional house arrest sentences in Manitoba were sent to jail, it would cost the government $110,000 per day or about $40 million a year, Wasyliw said.
Finding room for more prisoners in jails that are already overcrowded would also be a problem, he said.
Low risk offenders also hold jobs, pay taxes, support families and become rehabilitated in the community, he said.
"We're talking about huge sums of money for somebody who works and pays taxes," he said. "You're going to take that tax money out of the system and you're going to have to pay money for welfare for their families."
But Manitoba Conservative candidate Steve Fletcher defends the party's campaign promise, saying the public wants the government to get tougher on criminals.
"I hear this at the door all the time — that people are sick and tired of these revolving doors in the justice system and the hug-a-thug mentality of some of the other politicians," said the incumbent in the Charleswood-St. James Assiniboia riding of Winnipeg.
Harper has said the cost of sending more people to jail would be "small and manageable

Tories would limit oilsand exports (bitumen) to green countries.

This is from Canada.com. Canadaès cllimate change plans are hardly tough. I imagine the U.S. need not worry about being not able to import bitumen! The article does not bother to mention which countries might be banned from buying the bitumen. Perhaps China, but then surely China would rather buy the oil. I wonder how many countries actually import the bitumen.
There is one good piece of news though and that is that the Conservatives reaffirm that Canada is not required to export bulk water under NAFTA. However, if the Conservatives allow any province to do so this would then require further exports of water or there would be a complaint laid against Canada under the NAFTA provisions.

Tories would limit oilsand exports to green countries

Andrew Mayeda
Canwest News Service
Friday, September 26, 2008
CALGARY - Countries without climate-change plans as tough as Canada's would not be allowed to reap the benefits of the oilsands under a Conservative government, Stephen Harper announced Friday.
The prime minister said the Conservatives will ban the export of raw bitumen, the heavy black oil that lies in the oilsands, to countries that do not have targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions equivalent to Canada's.
The Tories are touting the announcement as a bid to protect Canada's natural resources and bolster the country's status as a "clean-energy superpower."
The Conservatives would also re-affirm Canada's position that the North American Free Trade Agreement cannot require Canada to export bulk water to other NAFTA countries.
"This is the right thing to do for our environment and our economy," Harper said.
"First, it will not allow industry to skirt our tough environmental targets by exporting unprocessed oil to avoid our regulations. Second, it will ensure that Canada and Canadians benefit from the revenues and jobs associated with oil-sands development."
Under their climate-change plan, the Conservatives have pledged to cut emissions 20 per cent by 2020, compared with 2006 levels. However, environmentalists and some independent analysts have estimated Canada is in danger of falling short of those targets, because of loopholes in the plan that favour industry.
Alberta currently produces about 1.3 millions barrels of bitumen per day, of which 500,000 are exported.

Maybe some Liberals are more interested in getting rid of Dion than Harper.

A recent article in the Globe notes that the Liberals are already musing about a new leader and are accepting a disastrous outcome of this election. So instead of rallying behind the leader and doing their level best they are already looking toward the future. This seems the height of stupidity and a betrayal both of Dion and the Liberal party. Dion may very well fool everyone especially if Harper makes some serious mistakes in his campaign. There is still a long way to go in this campaign. People have low expectations of Dion so if he improves even a little this might help him quite a bit.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

UK commander: Afghan mission up to 15 years or so.

According an article in the Independent the commander of British forces in Afghanistan says that 4,000 troops will be needed and the mission will last up to 15 years or so! After that surely the occupiers will be so worn out and have so many troubles at home that they will withdraw as the Soviets did!

Harper supports ban on fees for some text messages.

According to Bloomberg:

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he'll allow telecommunications regulators to ban fees for unsolicited text messages on mobile phones, saying the charges are unfair.
``We are obviously responding to a specific concern, which is the imposition of charges for unsolicited text messages,'' Harper told reporters today in Victoria, British Columbia. ``We think this is completely unfair to consumers; completely unwarranted.''

Of course clients would much prefer free text messaging whether solicited or not as apparently happens in some other countries. Harper is proposing the basic minimal restriction on fees for texting.

Latest Democratic Space Seat Projections Federal Election

This is from Sept. 23. More detailed projections for provinces and ridings are available at the Democratic Space site. The Conservatives need 155 for a majority so they are still short of that but the Liberals do not seem to be closing the gap at all.

Conservatives 144 (37.5)

Liberals 83 (24.7)

NDP 31 (18.1)

Green 0 (9.9)

Bloc 48 (8.8)

Other 2 (1.0)

US financial turmoil and Canadian election

This is from the Canadian Press. It remains to be seen whether the worries about the Canadian economy will hurt Harper. There is a tendency among opposition groups to blame a bad economy on the bad old Tory government. Some problems are no doubt caused by the Federal government but many problems are beyond government control, for example the financial crisis in the U.S. The Liberals might have done no better and perhaps the Conservative ads that emphasize that you cannot trust Dion programmes may gain some traction with the public. On the Green Shift Dion has modified it considerably to make it more palatable to some groups and the Conservatives unfairly portray as just a tax grab and ignore the offsetting tax cuts.

U.S. financial turmoil hits Canadian campaign trail
1 hour ago
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces growing worries about the economy as the financial crisis south of the border continues to unfold.
Opposition leaders were expected to use the economic unease to hammer Harper during campaign stops Thursday in the key battleground provinces of British Columbia and Quebec, where polls suggest the election race is tight.
U.S. President George W. Bush warned in a televised address Wednesday night that failing to act on a $700-billion financial industry bailout could lead to "a long and painful recession" for his country.
Harper has tried to reassure nervous Canadian voters, saying there's no chance Canada will tumble into the same kind of financial and housing black hole as the U.S.
He has vigorously defended his government's handling of the economy and says Canada is well protected from a true slump by strong fundamentals such as robust consumer and housing markets and strong financial institutions.
The economy is sure be top of mind for many voters.
NDP Leader Jack Layton is in Kamloops, B.C., and Victoria, trying to turn voters toward his party as it struggles to catch up to the front-running Tories.
Harper speaks in Victoria before heading to Edmonton for a campaign rally.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion addresses business leaders in Quebec City and then tours Trois-Rivieres.
Green party Leader Elizabeth May continues her whistle-stop tour across Canada with a visit to the southwestern Ontario town of Guelph.
And Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe is expected to polish his separatist credentials in a Montreal speech with the Parti Quebecois' Pauline Marois - his former rival for leadership of the provincial party.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has stepped up his media outreach with the same message as Harper, stressing that despite the global troubles, Canada's economy is fundamentally sound.
However, most economic indicators in Canada are trending downward and the main question on the minds of many economists is if the slide will stop before the country slides into recession.
Merrill Lynch Canada has suggested that far from being insulated from a U.S.-style housing crash, Canada is well on the way down the same path.

Harper says he would respect provicincial jurisdiction

This is from the Star. Respecting provinces jurisdictions is one thing jettisoning agreements such as that the Liberals had negotiated with the provinces is another thing. We can expect further weakening of medicare under Harper and with the CMA pushing for more private involvement we can expect that more and more of our health care funding will come directly out of our own wallets. This is fine for the rich but sickening for those with empty wallets. Of course Harper is playing this tune because it resonates with Quebec nationalists as well as other provincial rights groups.
The get tough on polluters policy sounds sound enough.

Harper says he'd respect provinces' jurisdiction TheStar.com - Federal Election - Harper says he'd respect provinces' jurisdiction
Tories would raise fines and streamline laws to protect environment
September 25, 2008 Les WhittingtonOttawa Bureau
VANCOUVER–Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has no intention if re-elected of taking bold steps in national social policy that would interfere with the jurisdiction of the provinces.
"We believe a federal government should respect the jurisdiction of the provinces, including how it spends money," the Conservative leader said at a campaign event in a hotel on the Vancouver waterfront.
Partly as an appeal to soft nationalists in Quebec, Harper has often talked about limiting the ability of the federal government to take action on social policy or other initiatives that might be seen as falling within the provinces' jurisdiction.
"We concentrate in our own areas of jurisdiction," he said, citing daycare as an example of the Tories' approach. The Conservatives scrapped a $5 billion program the Liberals negotiated with the provinces in 2005 to set up early learning and child-care facilities nationally, replacing it with a $100-a-month baby bonus for each young child and tax credits meant to create daycare spaces.
Asked about the low-key, practical promises that have marked his campaign so far, Harper said he is asking for a mandate specifically on these campaign planks and will not interpret a victory on Oct. 14 as a wider mandate from Canadians.
"We obviously are running on our platform," Harper said. But he added that governments always "end up dealing with a lot of things that no one saw coming."
Harper cautioned voters in B.C., where a slide in Liberal support may leave a tight race between the Tories and the NDP in many ridings, not to choose the New Democrats.
"If you don't want a Liberal government, you should vote Conservative because if you vote NDP, you are probably voting for a Liberal government, one way or another."
A re-elected Conservative government would bring in new fines of up to $6 million for companies and $1 million for individuals convicted of chemical spills, dumping, despoiling nature preserves and other forms of environmental abuse, Harper said yesterday.
He also promised new legislation to let Ottawa refuse operating permits for companies with a poor environmental compliance history and to list companies' convictions under the act on a public database.
He said a Conservative government would streamline the government's environmental protection legislation and provide $113 million over five years – and then an additional $25 million annually – to establish a team of environmental prosecutors to pursue cases against individuals and companies suspected of abuses.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Conservative crime craze..

Being tough on crime is always an easy sell especially when it goes against all the evidence collected by those ivory tower criminal law soft on crime creeps that people love to hate. So even though the evidence is on the whole against harsher sentences for youth crimes deterring crime and even though the evidence may be that youth crime is not actually increasing this is not relevant. What is relevant is the votes to be snagged by being harder on crime. In fact the Conservatives will introduce more crime legislation and even make it a confidence matter if there should be a Conservative minority government. The Conservatives would love an election based upon who is hardest on criminals! Here is a Globe columnist who supports the suggested changes by the Conservatives but as denunciation rather than deterrence. At least this gets around the fact that the deterrence argument does not square with the evidence.
And to my mind, this proposed change and the others have nothing to do with deterrence, even though the Tories keep saying they do, and everything to do with denunciation, the public calling to account for one's crimes. .......

Perhaps this denunciation function should be expanded. Why not have public stocks as in medieval times? People have their arms locked in place and are publicly displayed as criminals. People could throw insults etc. at them and get all those pent up feelings of hatred released in a legal and public manner. Come to think of it we should re-introduce public hangings too. It might provide some gainful employment for pickpockets as masses of people congregate to witness the public denunciation of the murderer.

Harper in BC to beat back surging NDP

In spite of losing a couple of candidates for their association with pot, the NDP seems to be doing well in B.C. No doubt the unpopularity of the provincial Liberals is a factor. Even though Layton seems to be inconsistent in running as if he might be the prime minister and at the same time talking about a possible coalition with the Liberals. I guess the kinder term would be that Layton is hedging his bets. His being prime-minister is a very very long long shot. What are the odds? This is from the Canadian Press.

Harper in B.C. to beat back surging NDP
30 minutes ago
OTTAWA — Stephen Harper will likely have the New Democrats in his crosshairs as he tours British Columbia Wednesday, where polls suggest the NDP are running a close second to the Tories.
The Conservative prime minister says the prospect of an NDP-Liberal coalition government would be a violation of the will of Canadian voters. He says the next Parliament would be duty-bound to let the Tories form a government if they get a minority of seats in the Oct. 14 election.
Jack Layton - who has mused about co-operating with the Liberals after the election - will likely have choice words for Harper when the NDP leader returns to B.C. tonight.
Layton's starting his day at a soon-to-be-mothballed sawmill in northern Ontario with provincial party leader Howard Hampton.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, who is in Winnipeg Wednesday, is playing down the notion of a coalition, but hasn't ruled it out entirely.
He says he's good at working with others, but says he'd first have to win the job of prime minister on election day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Request for Urgent Confidential Business Relationship

This should earn some reward for spam of the day spoof!

REQUEST FOR URGENT CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPDear American:I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationshipwith a transfer of funds of great magnitude.I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. You may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We needthe funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer thesefunds in the names of our close friends because we are constantlyunder surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look fora reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so thefunds can be transferred.Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fundaccount numbers and those of your children and grandchildren towallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commissionfor this transaction. After I receive that information, I willrespond with detailed information about safeguards that will be usedto protect the funds.Yours FaithfullyMinister of Treasury Paulson

Liberals warmed over Income Trust Stew

This is from the Financial Post. Sometimes I wonder if the Liberal campaign team is working to make sure Dion does not do well. It is hard to explain their gross incompetence otherwise. It might make some sense to bring up the income trust issue just to stress that Harper does not keep his promises. But the Liberal counter plan is as the article points out a funky stew that probably is not all that more palatable than the Conservative plan. Also, both the NDP and the Bloc support the Conservative legislation so it seems that the Liberals are trying to outflank the Conservatives on the right! Duh!

What's new from Liberals on income trusts? Not much
Posted: September 22, 2008, 1:11 PM by Vieira

There was much anticipation Monday on the release of the Liberal Party platform, in particular what it had in store for income trusts.There was speculation, based on published reports, that the Liberal Party would "scrap" the income trust tax. But once the dust settled, it became clear there was no "scrapping" of the tax in the works. The election platform merely repeated what the Liberal Party proposed, in February of 2007, as an alternative to the Conservative government's plan to slap a 31.5% tax on income trusts, starting in 2011. The main elements of the Liberal plan included:• Imposing a tax of just 10% on trusts, as opposed to the 31.5% levy. • Canadian residents would be eligible for a tax refund.• And a ban on new trust formations, but with the possibility that exemptions for particular sectors are possible if a number of conditions are met.The Liberal platform's reference to income trusts can be found here (proceed to page 18). At the time the Liberals released their income trust policy in February, 2007, tax experts from the C.D. Howe Institute called it a "politically funky stew" that did not offer the same certainty to markets, compared to the government's proposal. (Which has since been passed into law.)Of note is that the Liberals anticipate that its 10% trust tax would raise $1-billion over a period commencing Jan. 1, 2011, to March 31, 2013. In its initial announcement on Oct. 31, 2006, the Conservative government projected its 31.5% trust tax would raise $500-million, from Jan. 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012. It is not clear how the 10% trust tax would raise more cash for the federal treasury compared to the 31.5% levy -- unless the underlying assumption is that existing income trusts would choose to continue operating as a trust structure because the levy would be much lower, at 10%. Under the current setup, there are provisions for trusts to convert into corporations without incurring tax consequences.In response, the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, ruled out any changes to the government's plan to tax trusts. His trust plan has the support of the Bloc Quebecois and NDP.Moreover, the NDP was distributing information Monday to certain journalists that alleged that a handful of Liberal MPs who ran for the party leadership in 2006 received campaign contributions from among the most vocal opponents of the Conservative's trust tax, based on data the party said it collected from Elections Canada.In any event, pollsters have long argued that the Conservative government's flip-flop on income trusts -- promising not to tax them during the last election campaign, and then doing so as a result of a bevy of big corporations seeking to convert to the tax-friendly trust status -- would not, on its own, change voter intentions. More likely, the Liberal attack on income trusts is a way for the party to remind voters that Mr. Harper does not necessarily keep his word.Paul Vieira-->

Splitting the centre-left vote...

My own position is that the Liberals are almost as bad as the Conservatives. The marginal benefit of saving us from Harper is not worth it. Both parties are bankrupt and do not deserve our support. I do not think that Layton is any shining knight either but I will vote for the NDP because I approve many of their policies. The worst thing Canadians could do is to foster the Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum farce that you have in the states. The one presidential candidate who predicted the present financial crisis in the U.S. Ralph Nader receives nary a mention hardly in all the babble on CNN Fox news etc. As long as we continue electing the two mainstream parties we will not really have much choice. Even electing considerable numbers of other parties pressures other parties to adopt programs similar to theirs to try and lure voters away and back to the two party Procrustean bed.

Splitting the centre-left vote

Globe and Mail Update
September 23, 2008 at 8:35 AM EDT
Today's question: How do the Liberals, NDP and Greens deal with the fact they are splitting the centre-left vote in some parts of the country and how do the Tories take advantage of this?
Scott Reid, former director of communications for Paul Martin and a co-founder of the speechwriting firm Feschuk.Reid: Liberals take note: Jack Layton is trying to put an end to you. Not just win more seats. Not just raise his popular vote. Like Stephen Harper, he defines true victory as crippling the capacity of the Liberal Party to successfully compete in future elections.
That may seem like a far-flung notion but with some polls showing the Liberals drifting down to the low 20s and the NDP scratching up to the high teens, Mr. Layton sees the chance for a historic appeal.
Certainly, with the full influence of the Green vote impossible to gauge until after the debates the Liberals can take nothing for granted.
Mr. Layton's musings about a postelection coalition of the Liberals, NDP and Greens have a lot more to do with “help Jack” than “stop Harper.” He's attempting to reassure progressives it's safe to split their votes all over hell's half acre. But it's not.
Liberals must counter immediately. That begins by positioning themselves in the sensible centre rather than as the best of the left. They must emphasize their fiscal credentials, sharpen their critique of Mr. Harper and begin now with a blatant appeal to NDP and Green voters that the Liberals alone can keep the Conservatives from a majority.
Mr. Harper will exploit these factions by talking up the NDP in Quebec and even engaging Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the debates. But it rests with the Liberals – beginning with their recalcitrant core voters. Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton are trying to kill your party. If you want to keep it, you'll have to defend it.
Goldy Hyder, former chief of staff to Joe Clark and currently senior vice-president with the communications firm Hill & Knowlton: In life and in politics, what goes around comes around. After having been the beneficiaries of a divided right that saw them win three consecutive majorities, the Liberal Party now finds itself as a part of the fractured left (with the NDP, BQ and, to a lesser extent, the Greens). While the outcome is not a given, this campaign suggests a fundamental realignment of the Canadian political spectrum is well under way.
For some time, the Liberal base and brand was so strong that it headed into federal elections with 30 per cent of the electorate in its camp. The same could not be said of the Conservative Party.
It can be argued that Stephen Harper conscientiously set out to level the playing field against the “natural governing party” by seeking to expand the traditional conservative base from rural, anglo, male, to include urban, francophone, minority communities, and women. And in doing so, Harper has moved the party closer to the centre (albeit still to the right of it).
Over the past two decades, Canadians have been moving more to the centre-right. Support for free trade, balanced budgets and paying down debt has taken hold even in provinces with NDP governments. Meanwhile the “new” Conservative Party's shift to its left meets Canadians in their comfort zone and creates an opportunity for the party to expand its base and strengthen its brand.
As for the left, perhaps it will come out of this election in need of engaging in its own “unite the left” exercise. There are already signs that such an effort is in the works at any cost. This week, Mr. Layton has mused that he would not rule out forming a coalition government with the Liberals if it would defeat the Tories. With Mr. Dion and Ms. May already working together, it seems there's a lot of love to go around on the left.
Peter Donolo, former director of communications for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and now a partner in the Strategic Counsel: If the opposition vote remains as diffuse as it is today, the Conservatives will be able to win the election just by standing still.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The creative destruction of free market myths.

The 700 billion bailout of US financial institutions serves to expose several myths associated with free enterprise and free markets:

Remember when the former Soviet satellites and Russia were beginning their initiation into capitalism? There was this great theme of Shock Therapy. The socialised institutions were to be subject to market forces even though the result was considerable immediate economic and social disruption. This was all necessary to introduce the healthful regime of market forces at work. Apparently this does not apply to the US. You would think that in the US now is the time for shock therapy and letting market forces do their creative destruction...

But creative destruction is another key concept that is gone out the window. The markets must be saved from creative destruction rather than letting market forces play out as they are supposed to do according to standard doctrine. This seems a case of rewarding those who through greed and mismanagment of risk have caused the crisis.

But this leads us to moral hazard. The intervention and bail out is a clear case of creating moral hazard by rewarding bad behavior rather than letting the market punish it.

Of course governments are said to be inefficient yet the government bailout in this case is needed to create efficient markets. We have linguistic gobbledygook that goes beyond Orwell.

We now have the need for re-regulation after having been spoon fed healthy doses of propaganda recommending deregulation of everything. Of course the government boss who oversees the spending of US citizens money on bad debt needs no regulation:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency. (from Naked Capitalism)

So bad debt is being bought up supposedly at market prices but no doubt at higher than market prices since there is no real market for the debt.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Poll variations..

There are two recent polls that vary considerably but both ended on Saturday the 20th.

A Nanos poll taken on Sept. 20th has these results in terms of percentages of popular vote:

Conservatives 36

Liberals 31

NDP 20

Green 7

Bloc 7

However a Harris Decima poll as reported by CBC gives the following results from a four day poll ending on Sept. 20.

Conservatives 39

Liberals 23

NDP 17

Green 11

Bloc 8

There is a difference of 8 points in Liberal support between the two polls. Don't ask me why!

Dion flip-flopping like a dying fish..

After an obvious attempt to downplay the Green Shift in the last few days, Dion reversed direction in order to try to negate Harper's joke about the Liberals abandonment of the Green Shift being like Tim Horton's abandoning donuts. However, the new joke is Dion's obvious flip flop.
But there is another flip-flop. Dion seemed to be a cheerleader for the US policy in Pakistan the other day but today he does another flip-flop. Clearly the Liberals are just as much committed to the Afghan farce as the Conservatives if not moreso. The idea of non-combat roles for troops is a non-starter as long as the security situation is at is. Troops would come under enemy attack and would surely have to respond. The idea is pure crapola as military leaders have often pointed out quite correctly. The idea is totally a selling point to hoodwink the public.
This is from the CBC. Clarify is a politically correct word for flip-flops.

Dion clarifies Pakistan comments
Last Updated: Friday, January 18, 2008 12:51 AM ET
CBC News
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion scrambled Thursday to clarify reports that he suggested sending NATO troops to Pakistan, saying instead he was in favour of "diplomatic intervention" to bring peace to the troubled region.
Dion said this week that the mission in Afghanistan would never be able to bring about peace while Taliban militants were seeping across the border from neighbouring Pakistan.
Dion told CBC Thursday that diplomacy, not troops, must be used to curb the flow of militants over the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.(CBC)
"If [Pakistani leaders] are incapable of doing it themselves, it is something that we could envision with NATO forces — how to help Pakistan help us bring peace to Afghanistan," he said during a news conference in Quebec City Wednesday.
But in an interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge Thursday night, Dion backed away from the suggestion that NATO forces be deployed to Pakistan, emphasizing instead a need for greater diplomatic effort.
"It was diplomatic intervention with an effort that must be more concerted between Canada and our NATO allies," Dion said.
"Part of what we are doing in the south of Afghanistan, in the province of Kandahar, is nullified by the fact that the insurgents, they cross the border. They ignore the border, and when we provide security in that area, they may come back any time from Pakistan."
Mansbridge said diplomatic efforts have done little to curb the flow of militants from Pakistan, and asked the Liberal leader what he suggested as a better solution.
"Well, I have no other solution than to say that we need to be very assertive in our diplomatic effort and pressure on Pakistan."
When asked what being assertive meant, Dion replied: "I have no magic solution to offer on that and nobody has."
Pakistan calls Dion's comments 'irrational'
For its part, the Pakistani government delivered a fiery reaction to Dion's Wednesday comment, calling the suggestion "irrational."
"We are dismayed by the statement of the leader of Opposition," the government said in a statement released late Thursday by the Pakistan High Commission in Ottawa.
"It shows a lack of understanding of the ground realities."
Pakistan would under no circumstances allow foreign troops to operate within its territory, the statement said, and is fully capable of handling its own security matters. The South Asian country said it has been recognized worldwide for its contributions to the Afghan mission.
"The price paid by Pakistan being a frontline state cannot be undermined by certain irrational comments."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also criticized Dion's comments during a news conference in Saskatchewan Thursday, characterizing the Liberal leader's words as suggesting that "Canada abandon Afghanistan and invade Pakistan."
Dion made the controversial NATO remark only a few days after returning from a trip to Afghanistan, during which he reasserted his position that Canada should consider non-combat roles for its troops in Afghanistan once the current mandate expires in 2009.
Liberal MP Denis Coderre also attended the news conference in Quebec City Wednesday and was quick to add to Dion's remark, saying any solution in Pakistan would not be a military one.
"It would not come about with a military intervention, it would be a diplomatic solution," Coderre said.With files from the Canadian Press