Friday, October 31, 2008

Ontario to Upload welfare and court security costs from municipalites over ten years.

This is a burden that was imposed on municipalities by the Harris government. Our present federal finance minister. Jim Flaherty, was a key member of that government and for a period finance minister.
Now the damage is being undone but over ten years. However, given the economic conditions in Ontario it could hardly be done in a short time.

Ontario to upload welfare, court security costs from municipalities over 10 years
Last Updated: Friday, October 31, 2008 12:19 PM ET
CBC News
Welfare and court security costs downloaded onto municipalities in the 1990s will be taken back by Ontario's government over the next 10 years under an agreement announced Friday after a joint provincial-municipal review.
"The era of downloading is over," said Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson at a news conference held by the province, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the City of Toronto.
Peter Hume, president of the association, said the consensus report released at the news conference "turns the page on a dark chapter of provincial-municipal fiscal relations."
It will take until 2018 for the province to complete the plan outlined in the report, and it will be a few years before the changes begin to take effect.
Welfare costs — which are expected to soar with the current economic deceleration — will remain on the backs of local property-tax payers until 2010. The province won't start taking back the court-security costs until 2012. Mayors complain such costs add about seven per cent to local policing bills.
Hume suggested the timeline was influenced by the economy's prospects.
"The consensus reflected in this report sets out the changes that reflect the highest priorities of our municipal governments and what can be accomplished in current economic circumstances," said Hume, who is also an Ottawa city councillor.
Upload worth $600M
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said the announcement represents new savings of $600 million.
"Does it take longer than I think all of us would like? Yes. Do we all have financial challenges? Yes," he said. "Are we all agreeing as to how to respond to them? Absolutely."
Toronto Mayor David Miller said the agreement rights a "lingering wrong."
"The actions of the past that burdened Ontario municipalities with costs for delivering provincially-mandated income support programs were, simply put, wrong," he said.
"The impact on municipalities was unnecessarily compounded over the years as we have been forced to divert millions of property-ax dollars from core municipal services to paying for provincial services."
According to the Ontario government, the total amount uploaded by the provincial government in recent years, including Friday's announcement, will have an annual net benefit of $1.5 billion to municipalities compared with fiscal 2007 by 2018.
However, the bulk of that had already been promised more than a year ago, when the government announced it was taking over the cost of the provincial drug benefits and disability support program. The former upload was completed in 2008 and the latter will start in 2009, to be completed in 2011.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario estimates the cost of provincial services downloaded onto local governments in the 1990s by former premier Mike Harris's Progressive Conservative government to be about $3 billion a year.
Among the downloaded programs that the province has not committed to uploading is social housing, and Watson said there won't be any work done on taking back that social program until the spring.
Doug Reycraft, former head of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, said he also wants the province to look at uploading the costs of repairing roads and bridges, another responsibility downloaded to municipalities in the 1990s.With files from the Canadian Press

Frugal Conservatives with more MPs feeding at the public trough

In order to show government frugality and that Conservative governments are leaner and meaner Harper has expanded the cabinet to 37 members from 31, rewarding
his loyal crew of MPs with bigger salaries but it should be noted Harper is moving towards equality of sexes at the public trough.. This is from the Vancouver Sun.
Note that since Quebec misbehaved it has one less cabinet minister. Globe and Mail.

Bloated cabinet strange way for Harper to show restraint
Frugality seems to have been shown the door as prime minister makes more than one in four MPs a member of the inner circle
Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver SunPublished: Friday, October 31, 2008
Stephen Harper has avoided tough choices, announcing Thursday a hefty cabinet that makes more than one in every four elected Conservatives a minister.
Fully 38 of the 143 members of Parliament on the governing side will sit in cabinet. That's up from 31 members before the Oct. 14 election.
What makes the size noteworthy is the fact the prime minister, in announcing his new team, emphasized the government's main focus will be the economy.

"The central responsibility of our new mandate will be to ensure that Canada's businesses and families have the security they need to weather any global economic storm," he said in the foyer of the House of Commons following the cabinet swearing-in. For the sake of stability, he kept Jim Flaherty in finance.
But frugality does not appear to be part of the Conservative calculation, despite the fact the country is now flirting with the possibility of a deficit budget.
Harper's cabinet is both large and unfocused.
Salaries alone for the additional ministers will total more than $500,000. In addition, each minister must be supported by a small bureaucracy.
By having a corpulent cabinet, Harper increases his government's profile in more places in the country, which of course is helpful politically.
The large number of cabinet positions also works wonders for Conservative morale and party loyalty.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarah Palin the Commie.

According to US definitions (and some Canadian Bloggers) definition of socialist, communist, and Marxist, this piece of parody is probably right..

<>SARAH THE MARXIST: She takes the oil companies’ hard-earned money and “redistributes” it to shiftless Alaskans! “[W]e’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs,” she told the elite socialist rag The New Yorker. That means every Alaskan gets $3,269 a year from the State, just for living and breathing on that lost and frigid tundra, and that is also why she is America’s most popular governor. Because she is a Communist.

NDP sends BC Liberals a strong message.

This is from the Province.
Since a governing party has not won a byelection in BC in thirty years, I guess this should not be too surprising. However, Campbell's carbon tax is obviously not popular at all in spite of the fact that environmental protection seems to be a motherhood issue among many in BC. When mummy picks the pocketbook though or is thought to do so many contemplate matricide.

Thursday » October 30 » 2008

NDP sends Liberals strong message
Campbell gov't has battle ahead in May provincewide election

John Bermingham and Frank Luba, with a file from Jack Keating
The Province
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The NDP said they wanted to send a message to Victoria, and it appeared they did it in grand style last night.
Vancouver Parks Board commissioner Spencer Herbert was cruising to crush the Liberals' Arthur Griffiths, the former Canucks owner, in Vancouver-Burrard at press time.
Herbert was on track to take the seat that was held previously by the Liberals' Lorne Mayencourt, who resigned to run federally for the Conservatives.
Elections B.C. said that, after all polls reported, Herbert led by 5,136 to Griffith's 3,836 votes.
In Vancouver-Fairview, the margin was tighter, but social activist Jenn McGinn was beating former B.C. Medical Association president Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid.
By press time, McGinn had garnered 4,408 votes compared to 3,762 for MacDiarmid, Elections B.C. said. Their website crashed last night and results were slow in coming.
"There's no doubt," we sent a message to Victoria, said Geff Fox, president of the B.C. NDP.
"Mr. Campbell needs to start listening to B.C. voters, to what Carole James and our caucus is saying or he'll find himself unemployed in May," he said.
A governing party has not won a byelection in B.C. in nearly 30 years.
Government house leader Mike de Jong said: "In coming elections, this is going to be a battle. We cannot and we will not take anything for granted. It is a reminder and a wake-up call to everyone that elections are a contest. We will be ready."
Before the byelection, there were 45 Liberals and 32 New Democrats in the legislature.
Simon Fraser University political scientist Kennedy Stewart was surprised by the results and said it means a "shift in public sentiment" from the B.C. Liberals to the NDP.
"I was expecting both of [the NDP candidates] to lose," Stewart said.
"But now this is quite a result for the NDP. It maintains their momentum."
The B.C. Liberals and NDP were each looking for a byelection double, to give them momentum for the campaign.
But voter fatigue was likely a factor in the byelection, coming just after a federal election, and just before a civic election.
Both Vancouver byelections were fought on big-city, rather than provincial, concerns.
The main issues in Vancouver-Burrard were homelessness, rent hikes and evictions in the West End, and how to treat the area's mentally ill and drug addicted population.
Griffiths came into the campaign with a high public recognition, compared to Herbert.
Griffiths' campaign really started six months ago, when he began outreach to community groups and individuals in the riding.
He got the renter's office reopened in the riding and set up a meeting last week between renters group Renters at Risk and Housing Minister Rich Coleman.
Two weeks ago, Griffiths saved 60 jobs at the Odyssey gay nightclub by getting its lease extended till next year with B.C. Housing and a non-profit housing society.
Herbert ran on his connection to West End's gay and renter population.
He pitched his campaign as a "David and Goliath" struggle against a celebrity-candidate.
Also running in Vancouver-Burrard were Marc Emery, leader of the B.C. Marijuana Party, Drina Read of the Green Party of B.C. and Ian McLeod of the B.C. Conservatives.
In Vancouver-Fairview, homelessness was also the key issue, along with transit, and construction headaches along the Cambie corridor.
The Liberals recruited MacDiarmid, who was running against NDP candidate Jenn McGinn, a constituency association president, and unsuccessful parks board candidate in 2005.
MacDiarmid's office made 20,000 phone calls, sent 10,000 pieces of direct mail and knocked on thousands of doors.
Her team ran an on-the-ground campaign, and last night sent out dozens of volunteers to knock on doors and get the vote out.
Earlier in the day, scrutineers were at all the polling locations, checking off voters against lists of supporters, and phoning those who hadn't yet voted.
Two provincial party leaders also parachuted into the contest, Jane Sterk, leader of the B.C. Green Party, and Wilf Hanni, who heads the B.C. Conservatives.
The other candidate was Jodie Emery of the B.C. Marijuana Party, who campaigned on legalization of pot.
The seat was vacated after NDP MLA Gregor Robertson jumped into the Vancouver mayoral race, and before that had been held for nine years by former Liberal finance minister Gary Collins.
In the 2005 election, Robertson won over the Liberal candidate by about 900 votes.
Both of the main parties were looking for momentum, going into the campaign for the provincial election next May.
The Liberals and NDP have been mustering support for their competing economic plans for B.C. to ride out the global economic turmoil.
Premier Gordon Campbell announced a 10-point plan for the economy, including personal and small business income-tax cuts of $300 million and a major capital spending program.
Last Monday, NDP Leader Carole James proposed axing the carbon tax, which would put back $570 million into the economy, and raising the minimum wage.
The new MLAs will get their first chance to sit in the B.C. legislature on Nov. 20, when the house resumes for a brief fall session.
But both candidates will be sitting MLAs for the next seven months, until the provincial election in May 2009.
© The Vancouver Province 2008

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Conservatives reject direct aid to auto parts companies

This is from the Star.
Now that the election is over the government will try as much as is possible in these times to go back to its standard ideological stance that the government should not be involved in bailouts. Of course do not be surprised if in time the government is forced to do so. It has already been forced to guarantee interbank loans in order to keep Canadian banks competitive internationally.
If one of the three big automakers goes bankrupt there could be a huge ripple effect. The steep decline in the dollar will no doubt help the auto parts makers in that it makes prices cheaper for US importers but if there is no demand that is not that much of a silver lining.

Direct aid to auto parts companies rejected - Canada - Direct aid to auto parts companies rejected
October 29, 2008 Les WhittingtonOttawa Bureau
OTTAWA–The Harper government is turning thumbs down on an urgent appeal for up to $1 billion in special help to save the Ontario-based auto parts sector.
A group representing auto parts firms, which employ 70,000 people in Ontario, said in a letter to the federal government that the sector might not survive the economic crisis without short-term loans and loan guarantees from Ottawa.
But, in an interview, Industry Minister Jim Prentice said the government doesn't plan to single out parts makers for assistance.
The best option for these companies is to apply for support from Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank, two federally owned agencies that provide financial help for all Canadian companies, he said.
Prentice said the federal government recently authorized a $2 billion increase in the borrowing capacity of the EDC, which provides financing support for exporters.
Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, said he was disappointed by Prentice's response.
Fedchun said that, even with an increase in the EDC's borrowing capacity, it won't have the financial clout to provide help for auto parts makers because the EDC supports exporters in all industrial sectors.
"If that money is for all of manufacturing, then, frankly, it wouldn't be enough," he said in an interview.
Auto parts companies, which send most of their product to the U.S., are being hurt by the drop in vehicle sales south of the border. The problem is compounded by the liquidity crisis in which Canadian banks are less willing than usual to extend credit to corporate customers.

Our Intelligence Operatives our Immunized against Accountability

This is from the Scarlet Pimpernel.
This is from a longer article in the New York Times. The sections summarise some of the main reasons Almalki et al ended up in Syrian prisoners and being tortured. This also shows another way in which the contribution of the Canadian authorities may have been indirect. It is quite possible that the CIA told the Syrian authorities to arrest the men. However, the questions came from Canada or were based upon other data provided by Canadian intelligence.
The article also shows how unverified and inflammatory the accusations were. Yet Iacobucci seems to excuse these whopping lies and unsubstantiated labels as conscientious mistakes. It should make every legal practitioner''s blood boil. No one is held accountable for their mistakes or held up to any even minimal bar of care and caution. These are the people who are responsible for determining the balance of individual rights and national security that Iacobucci notes is so important. They obviously give very little consideration to individual rights since they label some people as terrorists with horrendous consequences and share these sloppy and damaging labels with the CIA and FBI whom they must know care about as much about human rights as the Syrians with whom they co-operate. These are the people who sent Arar to Syria as well. These are the people who kidnap people from Italy and end up being charged in an Italian court but of course they remain untouched and unpunished. Our own intelligence operatives seem to be similarly immunized against accountability. Neither Justice O''Connor nor Iacobucci have been able to change this. In fact Iacobucci goes out of his way to say that our operatives are just doing their job. And no doubt Iacobucci just did his job, a snow job.........

Mr. Iacobucci confirmed a longstanding contention by the three men that Canada had tipped the United States to their travel plans. He also faulted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for making strong claims about the men that were mainly unsupported.The inquiry was limited to assessing the actions of Canadian officials, and the United States and several other foreign governments declined to cooperate.In Mr. Elmaati’s case, Mr. Iacobucci concluded that the detention resulted from three events: the Mounted Police advised several foreign legal authorities, including those in the United States, that the man was “an imminent threat to public safety”; the Canadian intelligence agency told its American counterparts and others that the man was an associate of an aide to Osama' Bin Laden and the Canadian police gave the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. his travel itinerary.The Mounties, Mr. Iacobucci wrote, “should have considered, before providing Mr. Elmaati’s travel itinerary to the U.S., that U.S. authorities might take steps to have Mr. Elmaati detained and questioned.”In connection with Mr. Almalki, the report indicates that in October 2001, the Mounties told the United States Customs Service in a letter that he was an “Islamic extremist individual suspected of being linked to the Al' Qaedaterrorist movement.”The inquiry, however, found that this claim — and similar information given to agencies in the United States about the other men — was largely based on secondhand information. In Mr. Almalki’s case, some of it referred to another person.The Canadian suspicion about Mr. Almalki seems to have come from his business, which involved exporting common, and in some cases obsolete, electronic components to Pakistan.In May 2002, the Mounties met with the F.B.I. and members of other United States security agencies. Those agencies are not identified in the public version of the report, which was censored. The meeting, which was apparently intended to prompt an American criminal investigation of Mr. Almalki, included a PowerPoint presentation titled, “The Pursuit of Terrorism: A Canadian Response.” It described Mr. Almalki as a “procurement officer” for terrorist groups.“Labeling of someone at a time when 9/11 was sort of recent can be a very serious matter,” Mr. Iacobucci said at a news conference.Mr. Almalki, who had traveled to Syria to join his parents on a family visit, was detained for 22 months. The inquiry concluded that he, like the other two men, was tortured and held under “inhumane” conditions.Mr. Iacobucci was not assigned to review the actions of the three men. Despite that, all three told reporters that the report of the inquiry had cleared them of any wrongdoing.Mr. Almalki, after noting that he was apparently a victim of identity confusion, told reporters: “My life has been ruined; my reputation has been ruined. I lost my business based on information that didn’t even relate to me.”A lawyer who represented the Canadian Arab Federation in the inquiry, James Kafieh, said the report showed that “these three men were sacrificed to show the United States that Canada was doing something.”While Mr. Iacobucci found fault with actions by the Canadian police, intelligence investigators and diplomats, he added that no one had behaved improperly.“Mistakes were made, but I don’t think that’s inconsistent with saying that people doing their jobs were doing so conscientiously,” he said.The three men have all filed lawsuits against the Canadian government. Last year, the government gave Mr. Arar about 10.5 million Canadian dollars in compensation.A classified version of the report was submitted to the government on Monday. No action is required.From The New York Times

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Charest plagiarizing Harper

This is from the Globe and Mail.

Charest and the Quebec Liberals are shameless. Harper's comments and reasons for calling the recent Federal election are already fresh in everyone's memory! Charest may not follow Harper word for word just excuse for excuse.

Mr. Charest is said to have stood his ground, insisting that the campaign would underscore the opposition parties' lack of experience and credibility to manage the economy and that he alone was best equipped to lead the province through the economic storm.....

Mr. Charest's comments appeared to indicate that he had already made up his mind. He insisted that in times of economic hardship, the province would be better off with a steady hand at the helm, suggesting that a majority government is needed.
“It seems clear enough when you're in an [economic] situation like this, and you are in a minority, that means there are three pairs of hands on the steering wheel,” Mr. Charest said in Mirabel while attending an announcement by Pratt & Whitney to build a $575-million engine plant that will create 565 direct jobs. “What I saw on the weekend was that the other two opposition leaders do not want to go in the same direction as the government on the economic question.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taliban rule returning to Kandahar province

This is from the National Post.
The Taliban are obviously building up their strength through these parallel institutions that are proving superior to the official ones such as they are. Instead of taking actual control and trying to hold off foreign troops the insurgents are quietly building a parallel government. Taking actual control is too costly in terms of casualties and bound to fail against the superior military forces arrayed against them. Because of these sorts of developments it makes sense for the Afghan government to attempt to negotiate with the Taliban to bring them into the government so that the parallel and official governments merge into one and the insurgency will be over in any areas where negotiations are successful. I would not be surprised if in some areas there are not already some tacit agreements in play.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taliban rule returning to Kandahar province
Tom Blackwell, National Post Published: Monday, October 27, 2008

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- They mete out justice in their own courts, ban schools and even organize large religious gatherings, like one that drew thousands of people just outside Kandahar city recently.
As Canadian Forces continue to fight and die throughout Kandahar province, the Taliban have quietly set up parallel governments only kilo-metres away from the provincial capital, local residents say.
Large swaths of the province for which Canada is responsible have fallen under the control of the insurgents, they said, and out of the grasp of a national government villagers consider corrupt and weak.
The three farmers, interviewed this weekend by a Canwest News Service translator, painted a fascinating picture of life under the unofficial Taliban administrations. And while they voiced dismay at the continuing conflict and some of the insurgents' policies, they say not everyone is displeased with the situation.
A panel of three or four judges in Maiwand district, for instance, has for the past year been issuing prompt rulings on civil and criminal matters, said one man.
"The Taliban announced to the villagers that if they face any kind of problems, they should come to the court and they will find a transparent judgment," he said. "They deal with a number of cases: land disputes, family disputes, loan disputes, robbery, killing, fighting... and the people are happy with them."
In Zhari, the insurgent court has sentenced 27 people to death, said a resident of that district. Surprisingly, the farmers said the Taliban have issued no edicts against radio and TV or even shaving beards -- all things banned under their government -- though the villagers tend to eschew such behaviour out of fear, anyway.
Their accounts raise difficult questions about the progress being made by Canadian troops in almost three years of hard fighting and reconstruction efforts in the province.
A Canadian Forces spokesman said he could not comment immediately on the stories. The men spoke of deep frustration at having to choose between insurgents they say are often too harsh, government officials who are crooked and ineffective, and NATO forces who bring them little more than warfare.
"If the Taliban knew that I am giving information to you, they would skin me alive, but my heart and mind are full of words," said another Maiwand resident. "We see trouble from the Taliban, from NATO and from the Afghan government.... They [Taliban] don't allow schools. We don't have schools and our children don't understand what schools are. We are totally deprived of the rights that a human being should have."
All asked that they not be identified, and none would meet directly with a foreign journalist, for fear of repercussions. They said about 70% of the districts of Zhari and Maiwand, both west of Kandahar city, are under Taliban control.
It was in Maiwand that insurgents hijacked a passing bus this month and executed as many as 24 of the passengers, claiming they were army recruits.
The Taliban, sometimes appearing in "huge" numbers, have separate units of eight to 12 men each in the district, said the first Maiwand farmer. One is responsible for planting improvised explosive devices, one carries out attacks on police and NATO forces directly, one ambushes military supply convoys and another conducts intelligence on locals, reporting anyone working with the government or foreign forces, he said.
For the Eid festival marking the end of Ramadan early this month, Taliban invited people to a special prayer in Senjaray, 15 kilometres west of Kandahar city. Thousands came, with the insurgents handling security.
"It was amazing, and shameful for the current government," he said.
Taliban courts move from place to place, hearing complaints and seeking out witnesses before delivering a decision, which the people tend to heed, said the farmer.
The Zhari resident said he is not always happy with the insurgents' brand of justice, though. "Yes, we do like Islamic Sharia law, but not the way the Taliban are doing it right now," he said. "Islam is not strict and harsh, it's a religion of peace and brotherhood."
The same man said education is simply not an option in areas controlled by the insurgents. "They are burning the schools, killing the teachers and the students," he said.
The Taliban do have willing supporters in these areas, including young people who enjoy the insurgent life because "they have guns, power and money, plus motorbikes," said the second Maiwand farmer. But others "don't like to kill people, they don't want to fight."
Still, the residents said that taking their troubles to the notoriously corrupt Afghan National Police or other government agencies simply causes more problems.
Even in Kandahar city, more or less under government control, the Taliban have officials who secretly parallel actual positions, from mayor to police chief, said Mohammad Naseem, a local businessman.
Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the insurgents have set up such shadow administrations and that it has barred any kind of non-religious teaching in areas under its sway, but blamed NATO for endangering schools with its bombing.
"We let boys study in the mosques, we are not against modern education or against schools, but this time is not suitable for schools to be set up or remain open," he said. "We are in the phase of serious fighting."
Ultimately, though, the residents said they do not believe in either the Taliban or the Afghan government.
"We don't like all these troubles," said the first Maiwand farmer, tears welling in his eyes. "We have the right to have schools for our children, clinics for health, roads for driving, business for income. People think we like this chaotic situation. No, we don't like it at all."
The farmer from Zhari said he favours neither the foreigners nor the Taliban.
"I would like a new government, a government that brings peace and stability to our country," he said. "I don't expect to get any of that."
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Canada's living standard 9th among 17 top nations

So we are just in the middle of the pack and have lost five spots since 1990. Average income as a measure of standard of living is surely not very adequate. This would not distinguish at all social services among countries. We are lower than the US in average income but our health care system is far superior for those not well enough off to pay for expensive private insurance or care. UN ratings of best places to live give different results.
Stanford is probably right that our concentration upon resource industries has in part been responsible for our lower productivity compared to many other nations. Jim Stanford talks about the bad effects of our high dollar! Where has he been the last few weeks, in hibernation? Our dollar is in the mid seventy cent range today against the US dollar.

Canada's living standard 9th among 17 top nations: conference board
Last Updated: Monday, October 27, 2008 12:34 PM ET
CBC News
Canada's standard of living slid five spots to ninth among the world's 17 top industrialized nations in the past two decades, according to a report from the Conference Board of Canada.
The country used to be fourth in terms of living standards but has slipped five spots since 1990, said the Ottawa-based think tank on Monday. The findings were published in the board's new overall scorecard on the Canadian economy.
The Conference Board said Canada's average income per capita stood at $31,175 US in 2006, nearly $8,500 less than the world leader Norway.
Canada also trails the United States in this measure. Canada's per-person income is approximately $6,400 less than the U.S. average income, a gap that has doubled between 1984 and 2006.
"Lower labour productivity accounts for the largest component of the income gap between Canada and the United States," the conference board said.
Productivity measures how much each worker makes. In Canada, the measure has trailed American productivity growth for at least a decade.
The conference board has long argued that Canada's tax and regulatory regimes are too restrictive and drag on productivity.
"Canada needs to boost investment in resource sectors by eliminating the capital tax on businesses and removing remaining internal trade barriers, such as restrictions on interprovincial log trade in the forest sector," said board president and chief executive officer Anne Golden in a 2005 newspaper editorial.
Other analysts agreed with the concern over Canada's lagging productivity but not the board's solutions.
Jim Stanford, chief economist with the Canadian Auto Workers, said Canada's high dollar and the country's concentration in energy industries are bigger threats to national productivity than the tax regime.
"The very poor performance of Canadian productivity during the last three years reflects the structural effects of Canada's energy specialization as a producer and exporter of natural resources," Stanford wrote in a recent study for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Manley considers running for Liberal leadership..

This is from ctv.
I guess Manley is considering running for the Liberals because the Conservative leadership isn't open right now.

Manley considers running for Liberal leadership
Updated Mon. Oct. 27 2008 12:52 PM ET
Fomer cabinet minister John Manley says he's thinking about running for the leadership of the federal Liberal party, but wants to test the waters and see if there's support for such a bid.
Manley, who has been out of parliament for four years, spoke about his leadership ambitions following a speech to business leaders at the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Monday morning.
"I hear from a lot of people in different parts of the country that they would like me to run and quite frankly I'm assessing it from both a political and personal perspective," Manley told reporters.
Manley says he's not craving the job but wants to test the waters to determine his political and financial support.
The former Ottawa South MP held three different cabinet posts during the Chrétien government, including deputy prime minister and finance minister. He ran for the leadership in 2003 but dropped out when it became apparent Paul Martin had enough delegates to win.
Manley angered some Liberals last year when Prime Minister Stephen Harper named him chair of the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan.
Among those expected to run in a bid to replace current Liberal Leader Stephane Dion include perceived front-runners Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae. Both men currently hold seats in the House of Commons.
The hunt for a new leader comes after Dion announced his decision to step down. The Liberals suffered one of their biggest election defeats in party history on Oct. 14, winning only 76 seats, a 27-seat decline from 2006.

What if Iran attacked the terrorists at Ashraf City in Iraq?

Apparently the US attacked a village in Syria because they thought that it harboured Al Qaeda suspects who infiltrated into Iraq. Well there is a group of anti-Iranian terrorists at Ashraf city in Iraq. Maybe Iran should attack them in the name of self defence or their right to carry out the war against terror no matter where!

What if the Iranians decided in self-defence to attack Ashraf city the home of an anti-Iranian terrorist group in Iraq. Ashraf city is protected by the Americans even though those same Americans have the terrorist group on their terrorist list! Boggles the mind? Usually of course terrorists who support the US are not called terrorists at all. But these terrorists are not pure US supporters. They are Marxists and socialists who fought against the Shah and who supported Saddam Hussein at times. But then so did the US. Anyway what would happen if the Iranians who rightly regard these terrorists as a threat to them attacked Asraf city in the name of self defence? Well of course the Iranian attackers would be shot down if they used air transport and the US would no doubt do more than send a stiff diplomatic note to Tehran!The MEK or PMOI are worried that if jurisdiction of Ashraf city is given to the Iraqi authorities they will lose their protection. The Iraqi govt. does not look as kindly upon a terrorist group that helped Saddam Hussein and threatens their neighbour Iran as does the US. The US has found the PMOI useful as an intelligence gatherer and a pain in the neck to Iran.
Here are some relevant articles: from Unbossed.
For a long time Iraqis have been all too aware that the Bush administration sponsors a powerful group of Sunni terrorists in their midst, the MEK (or MOK), who are on the US State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Before the US invasion, these Marxist Iranian exiles had been sponsored by Saddam Hussein. But because the MEK enjoys American support, the Iraqi government has been unable to drive them out of the country
And this from the PMOI website:
Iraqi Prominent figure asks UN secretary general to guarantee protection of Ashraf City-In a letter to UN Secretary General, Ali Al-Qaisi, chairman of the Association of War Victims and member of Non-Governmental Organization’s Federation in the Islamic World, stressed on the necessity of guaranteeing Ashraf City protection.This letter partly reads: 'Camp Ashraf is the residence of more- than 3500 members of the PMOI, democratic opposition of the Iranian terrorist regime; in order to prevent the threats that have engulfed them, we ask you to intervene in order to provide their security and rights based on the international law.“On July 2, 2004, the US Government recognized the status of PMOI members in Camp Ashraf as 'protected persons' under the Geneva Convention and signed an agreement with each individual to assume protection of Ashraf until their final disposition is determined.”He added in his letter, “We want that the U. S. forces continue to protect the Ashraf residents. Under current conditions, transferring protection of Ashraf residents is nothing but welcoming a human catastrophe and violation of international conventions and covenants.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Carney forecasts sluggish growth.

This is from the Star.
It remains to be seen how accurate Carney's forecast will be. Not long ago the government was telling us how the fundamentals are so good and that a deficit was not at all likely. But the economic future is still not very clear at all. Given that demand for resources will be down and costs of oil development in the oil sands probably already is greater than the price in some cases there could be a big slowdown in provinces such as Alberta.

Carney forecasts `sluggish growth'

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, in his first public comments since Tuesday’s quarter-point interest rate cut, signalled Oct. 23, 2008, that the central bank would reduce its trend-setting rate again if the global financial crisis worsens.
Other nations headed for a mild recession, central bank chief says
October 24, 2008 Dana FlavelleBusiness Reporter
While the rest of the globe is headed for a ``mild recession,'' Canada is entering a period of ``sluggish growth,'' the governor of the Bank of Canada said yesterday.
In describing Canada's growth prospects, Mark Carney said the central bank looked at the broader definition of recession used by a panel of U.S. economists.
While two quarters of negative growth is the technical or ``shorthand'' way of describing a recession, Carney said the broader definition takes into account factors such as employment growth, not just output.
``For a lot of people that's what a recession is, employment. That's what people feel. It's a bigger set of issues than just this technical question of whether there's two negative quarters,'' Carney asserted.
In his first public commentary since cutting the bank's trend-setting rate by another quarter percentage point on Tuesday, Carney said Canada's financial system was in relatively good shape.
However, he also said the central bank remains on alert for signs that conditions may be worsening and would cut rates again at its Dec. 9 meeting, if warranted.
``Now is not the time to relax. There have been some extraordinary events. We're very focused on ensuring the markets return to a full state of functioning, not just domestically but internationally,'' Carney said, referring to the global credit crisis caused by events largely outside Canada's borders.
The central bank revised its forecast for economic growth downward earlier this week to 0.6 per cent for this year and next year, but predicts growth will rebound by 2010.
Carney defended the bank's decision to limit its latest cut to a quarter point, instead of the half-point cut many investors wanted.
He said the bank had already acted "aggressively" earlier this year and in recent weeks with the result that its trend-setting overnight rate has fallen by half to 2.25 per cent since December 2007.
As well, he said, inflation is projected to slow to an annualized rate of 1 per cent, the low end of the central bank's target range.
Carney declined to be specific about the impact of global events on different regions of the country. However, he noted the recent steep slide in the value of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. greenback will only partly offset the effect of falling global demand for basic commodities, such as oil and metals.
The dollar has dropped 18 per cent in the past four weeks, giving up four years of gains, amid falling interest rates, plunging global demand for oil and a resurgence of the U.S. dollar as a safe haven for investors.
Carney acknowledged regions dependent on manufacturing are likely to feel the effects of slowing U.S. demand for cars and homes.
Employment growth is also likely to slow as the economy slows, he said in response to a question.
But while other parts of the world, such as the United States, are now in recession and growth in Europe and emerging countries is slowing, Canada is in a position of relative strength, the central bank governor stressed.
Carney also endorsed Canada's banking system, saying it hasn't required the kind of multibillion-dollar government bailouts seen in other developed countries.
He said he welcomed measures announced yesterday by Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to backstop interbank loans to ensure Canada's chartered banks remain competitive in global markets with rival banks that have had their government's full support.
Carney said access to credit remains relatively good in Canada and has been improving in recent weeks as other countries took steps to unlock international money flows.
He said the bank is seeing signs that ordinary consumers are able to get loans on reasonable terms.

Another victim of Canadian rendition lite...

This is from the Ottawa Citizen..

While attention is focused on the Iacobucci report this fellow still seems to be forgotten in the Sudan. So much for all the changes that the Arar inquiry brought about. More of the same rendition lite and more lack of accountability of anyone in the government.

Mr. Abdelrazik, of Montreal, was imprisoned in Sudan at Canada's request in 2003 after being labelled an al-Qaeda operative by U.S. authorities. He has told Canadian officials he was tortured while in Sudanese custody.Mr. Abdelrazik was released from custody in July 2006, but remains stranded in Sudan because Canada has refused to renew his travel documents.Mr. Abdelrazik's case, Ms. Pither said, demonstrated that the problems identified by two federal inquiries had not been fixed and that "it can, and is, happening again.".....

Critics demand review of "culture of impunity" in security.

This is from the Ottawa Citizen.
The culture of impunity exists because the security intelligence bosses, our government, want it that way and have done everything to ensure that the impunity continues to exist. Both Liberal and Conservative governments have been complicit in this. In spite of all the Arar inquiry did for Arar, it did absolutely nothing to punish the incompetence and harm so serious that Arar was awarded compensation of millions of dollars.
If you read the government submission to the Iacobucci inquiry they were adamant that the torture charges should not be examined no doubt because it could impact on the civil suits that Almalki et al will bring against the government. It will be interesting to see if the suits go ahead or are settled out of court.
What I find sickening about the Iacobucci report is that he himself seems clearly complicit with the government in encouraging the culture of impunity. In spite of his own comments about the effects of labelling and criticism of the quality of the evidence he then turns around and says that the operatives were simply seeking to do their jobs conscientiously. For an eminent legal mind this is completely lame and beyond comprehension to put it mildly.

Saturday » October 25 » 2008

Critics demand review of 'culture of impunity' in security
Most officials linked to faulty intelligence still in positions

Andrew Duffy
The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, October 24, 2008
CREDIT: Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen
Human rights activists say this country will foster "a culture of impunity" if security officials are not held accountable for actions that contributed to the suffering of four Canadians tortured in Syria and Egypt.
Kerry Pither, a human rights activist and author of Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror, said no Canadian official had been charged, disciplined or demoted for misconduct in the cases of Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El-Maati and Muayyed Nureddin.
Two federal inquiries have found that faulty Canadian intelligence played a significant role in what befell the men in Syria.
"There is a culture of impunity in this country that is very troubling," Ms. Pither said. "The fact is that most of the officials who were in place and who carried out the deficient action that led to the torture of these Canadian citizens, most of these officials are still in place and many have been promoted, and they're still doing this work."
To date, former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli is the only senior official to resign following the torture cases. He submitted his resignation after admitting he gave incorrect testimony to a Commons committee investigating the Arar affair. He now works for INTERPOL in France.
Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, called yesterday for an independent body to determine whether criminal charges or disciplinary measures should be levelled against key officials.
"I do expect, and in fact insist, that a credible effort be put in place now to determine what appropriate accountability there should be in these cases," he said.
Former solicitor general Warren Allmand, a member of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, said the latest federal inquiry had identified RCMP officers "who were, in my view, negligent."
"Certainly something should be done," he said, joining the call for a process to review the conduct of the officials.
Such a process, however, appears unlikely.
Retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci this week detailed a series of investigatory and diplomatic failures in the cases of the three Canadians tortured in Syria and Egypt between 2001 and 2004.
However, the judge did not single out any individual for blame. Instead, he said the officials involved conscientiously carried out their duties at a time -- post 9/11 -- when there was "intense pressure" on intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has said he is satisfied that issues raised by the report have already been addressed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Iacobucci report found that Canadian security officials played an indirect role in the mistreatment of Mr. El-Maati, Mr. Almalki and Mr. Nureddin. The RCMP and CSIS shared faulty intelligence about all three men with other countries; the RCMP passed questions for Mr. Almalki directly to the Syrians, while CSIS sent questions for Mr. El-Maati through a foreign agency.
The judge said he was also troubled by the RCMP's decision to rely upon Mr. El-Maati's alleged confession in Syria to support its application for search warrants in Canada in January 2002. The RCMP did not raise Syria's human rights record or the possibility that the confession had been obtained by torture with the judge who granted those warrants.
Mr. Iacobucci also found the actions of Canada's Foreign Affairs Department "deficient" with respect to Mr. El-Maati and Mr. Almalki.
In both cases, he said, Canadian officials failed to act swiftly to gain consular access to the detainees, failed to properly consider the likelihood that they would be tortured and improperly passed information, collected in the course of consular work on behalf of the men, to CSIS.
Mr. Iacobucci said it was also "regrettable" that the foreign minister had not been informed that Mr. El-Maati told Canadian consular officials, in August 2002, that he had been tortured while in Syrian custody. The minister was not made aware of those allegations even though Mr. Almalki was then in Syrian custody; he was not told of Mr. El-Maati's claims even as he dealt with the subsequent Arar case.
Ms. Pither yesterday called for a parliamentary committee to act on the report's findings.
"This is not something that can be swept under the rug. These are startling findings, this is a huge scandal and we need accountability, or there's no assurance it won't happen again."
In fact, she said, there was every indication something similar was happening in the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik.
Mr. Abdelrazik, of Montreal, was imprisoned in Sudan at Canada's request in 2003 after being labelled an al-Qaeda operative by U.S. authorities. He has told Canadian officials he was tortured while in Sudanese custody.
Mr. Abdelrazik was released from custody in July 2006, but remains stranded in Sudan because Canada has refused to renew his travel documents.
Mr. Abdelrazik's case, Ms. Pither said, demonstrated that the problems identified by two federal inquiries had not been fixed and that "it can, and is, happening again."
Mr. Almalki, an Ottawa resident, said he, too, wanted the officials who played a key role in his Syrian ordeal to be held accountable.
"The government ruined my life, ruined my successful business and ruined my profession as an engineer," he said. "For the government to destroy that whole thing, someone needs to be held accountable."
Mr. Almalki rejected the notion put forward by Mr. Iacobucci that no individual could be blamed for decisions that contributed to his suffering. Had inaccurate information and RCMP questions not been sent to the Syrians, Mr. Almalki said, he would not have been detained and tortured.
"This does not make any sense to me," he said, "when the government and other people say there's no single person to blame, there's no one to blame, as if the country is run by robots and decisions were made by robots."
© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Abstaining no longer a Liberal option.

This is from the Globe and Mail.
So it seems that the Liberals expect the NDP or Bloc to sit on their hands and let Conservative legislation through. But what if they refuse to do that and force the Liberal hands to be sat upon. You mean to say the Liberals will help bring down the minority government soon? Somehow I doubt it. A better headline would read: The Liberals have no option but to abstain! This article makes it sound as if abstaining were Dion's idea. At at some times I think that abstaining was exactly what Dion did not want to do but he gave in to others who advised him not to bring down the government.

Abstaining no longer a Liberal option

From Friday's Globe and Mail
October 23, 2008 at 8:52 PM EDT
Stéphane Dion was told by his caucus Thursday that propping up the Harper government is no longer an option.
The Liberal Leader, facing his national caucus for the first time since the election in which he lost 19 seats, apologized to his defeated MPs but then made another pitch for his carbon tax scheme that contributed to their loss.
It was an emotional caucus, insiders say, and there were some tender moments, which even left Mr. Dion teary-eyed as he met with the 75 others who were elected with him last Tuesday and those who were defeated.
“Dion said, ‘Look, I'm sorry … I've spoken to some of you and I'm profoundly sad having to say goodbye,' ” according to an insider.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion speaks to caucus members following the Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday Oct. 23, 2008. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

There was no backstabbing, despite rumours that some MPs would challenge Mr. Dion and his decision to remain leader until his successor is chosen at a leadership convention, likely in April or May.
“It was zero confrontation,” one MP said. “If anything, people were gracious. Not one hint, not a whiff of dissension.”
Another MP said he was “frankly, waiting for somebody to try it.”
Instead, the caucus was “pretty classy” with both defeated and sitting MPs paying tribute to Mr. Dion's “courage, integrity and decency.”
Mr. Dion, himself, told reporters there was “not an inch of dissension.”
One insider described the caucus as upbeat.
“People were feisty and determined not to be sitting on their hands,” the source said.
Indeed, the Dion Liberal strategy of abstaining on confidence votes to ensure the Harper government's survival was thrown back at the Liberals during the election campaign. NDP Leader Jack Layton characterized “Stephen and Stéphane” as “best friends” because of the Liberal strategy of supporting the government on budgets and other confidence matters. He accused Mr. Dion of failing “the test of leadership.”
The strategy also proved demoralizing for many of the Liberal MPs, who questioned their role as legislators.
“Yeah, it was very clear from everybody at the microphone that abstaining is no longer an option and so, therefore, we will let the third parties, who hold the balance of power, decide. It's not viable [for the Liberals],” one MP said.
As well as the emotion, as defeated MPs described their triumphs and challenges in political Ottawa, there was humour.
Mr. Dion joked that he had a five-point plan to outline to the caucus. He was referring, of course, to the five-point economic action plan that he had put forward during the French-language debate.
And that's when he went into his pitch for his Green Shift plan that would put a tax on carbon fuels and shift the profits to income tax cuts for Canadians. He argued, said the insider, that his plan “may have been more complicated or more difficult to sell … but notwithstanding that, we still have a climate change problem.
“Whether a new leader understands that or accepts it, they are still going to have to deal with that …,” he said, according to the insider, arguing that the media didn't “get it yet” but once they do, “watch out.”
He also spoke about poverty as another key issue for him. And he indicated he doesn't want to give up the fight on this and climate change, an Ontario MP said.

New Delay puts Khadr Trial in Doubt.

This is from the Star.
This will be interesting. Both Obama and McCain have said they will close Guantanamo but there might be an uproar if someone accused of killing a US soldier is simply let go. Perhaps, they might send him to Canada or try him in the United States. But McCain has said he would repatriate Khadr to Canada if asked. Surely Obama would do the same thing. There will probably be even more pressure on Harper to request his repatriation. It could be a hot potato for the Conservatives.

New delay for Khadr puts trial in doubt -- New delay for Khadr puts trial in doubt
Both Obama, McCain vowed to close prison at Guantanamo if elected
October 25, 2008 Michelle ShephardNational Security Reporter
GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA–A U.S. military judge has set Jan. 26 as the new date for Omar Khadr's war crimes trial – six days after a new administration takes over the White House.
Army Col. Patrick Parrish granted the defence's request for a delay after they argued this week that they needed more time for their medical experts to assess the Canadian prisoner.
Khadr's legal team has also been complaining for months that they do not yet have all the evidence in the case or been given access to key witnesses, including some of Khadr's interrogators.
The timing of the new date now puts Khadr's trial in doubt as both Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have vowed to close this prison.
Obama also said he would abolish the military commissions under which Khadr is charged.
McCain helped usher in the Military Commission Act in 2006, so it's expected he would continue the trials, but perhaps order them held on U.S. soil.
But McCain also told a gathering in Ottawa earlier this year that he would repatriate Khadr if asked to do so by Canada.
Now 22, Khadr has been in U.S. custody since he was captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15.
The Pentagon has charged him with five offences, including "murder in violation of the laws of war" for allegedly throwing a grenade that fatally wounded U.S. soldier Christopher Speer.
The Toronto-born prisoner is the last Western detainee after Australia, Britain and other European governments negotiated the release of their citizens.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed not to intervene in Khadr's case despite mounting domestic and international pressure.
Speaking from Parliament Hill yesterday where she's on a hunger strike to press for her brother's repatriation, Khadr's sister, Zaynab Khadr, was upbeat about the delay in his trial.
"It's a good thing," she told The Canadian Press.

Iacobucci seeks further disclosure to public

This is typical. The government tries everything possible to keep as much as possible under wraps. So much for accountability and the public right to know. The public has the right to know as little as is legally possible. This may very well end up having to go to a court as in the Arar case. What has the government to lose only taxpayer money for legal expenses, paying for both sides. The material could very well involve some embarassment with respect to relations with other intelligence agencies as happened with the Arar material.

Iacobucci seeks fuller disclosure in torture cases

OTTAWA — The federal inquiry into the torture of three Arab-Canadians is taking steps to force the government to disclose more information about the affair.
John Laskin, chief counsel for the inquiry, said Thursday a legal notice has been filed challenging a federal claim that publication of the material would undermine national security, defence or international relations.
It's now up to the government to decide what to do next, but if no agreement can be reached the matter will eventually go to Federal Court for resolution.
At issue is material relating to one of the three men at the heart of the inquiry, Ahmad El Maati, who was tortured in both Syria and Egypt after being labelled an al-Qaida suspect by Canadian authorities.
Former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci noted, in his report released Tuesday, that he couldn't make as much public as he wanted to about the case because of the government's secrecy claim.
"It might be a page or two pages or something," Iacobucci later told reporters. "It's just something that I think should be in the public report."
Laskin said Thursday the off-the-cuff estimate of a page or two wasn't "quite accurate" but declined to be more specific or to characterize how important the material might be to the overall picture painted in the Iacobucci report.
Michael Peirce, chief counsel for the government at the inquiry, had no comment on the dispute.
Christian Girouard, a Justice Department spokesman, said the legal process for dealing with the exempted material was being followed, and that it was too early to tell how the matter would be settled.
Iacobucci concluded that Canadian officials indirectly contributed to the torture abroad of El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin. He didn't blame any individuals but said the RCMP, CSIS and Foreign Affairs had all been institutionally "deficient" in their actions.
In El Maati's case, he noted, the RCMP told foreign authorities he had links to al-Qaida and was an "imminent threat to public safety" without taking steps ensure the accuracy of those allegations.
Iacobucci also found CSIS had provided questions for use by El Maati's interrogators in Syria, and later expressed concern to the Egyptians about what he might do if released from custody.
Foreign Affairs failed to be aggressive enough in seeking consular access to El Maati during his detention, the inquiry found.
"I have also identified another action that, in my view, likely contributed to mistreatment of Mr. El Maati in Egypt and was deficient in the circumstances," Iacobucci wrote in his report.
He said he's given details to the government in a confidential version of his findings, but they can't be made public at this point because of the national security claim.
A similar dispute arose at a previous inquiry into the ordeal of Maher Arar, who was arrested by U.S. authorities, deported to Syria and tortured after the RCMP wrongly labelled him an al-Qaida suspect.
Federal Court rejected the government's secrecy claims in that case and ordered release of the disputed material - which, although not extensive, proved to be embarrassing to Ottawa.
It revealed for the first time that the RCMP had used information extracted under torture abroad to obtain search and wiretap warrants against suspects in Canada - an issue further explored by Iacobucci.
The excerpts also showed that, despite public claims to the contrary, CSIS had suspected almost immediately after Arar's disappearance from New York that the CIA had spirited him to the Middle East for interrogation.

Friday, October 24, 2008

How the banking deal was done.

This is just another example of how the Tories keep things hidden from the public. It should be noted that the Iacobucci report that was critical of the government-but Liberals as much as Conservatives- was not given to the government until after the election. It seems that there has not been all that much criticism of the Tory moves to support the banks. Given the moves by other jurisdictions it is understandable that the Tories would do this but it is just another example of the government that claims to be so much for free markets intervening to help them out and at the same time giving aid to a sector that hardly is consumer friendly with irksome fees for transactions. Perhaps the government could have given the banks what they want for termination of ATM fees, but no that would not be business friendly but consumer friendly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008
How the banking deal was done
Paul Vieira and Eoin Callan, Financial Post Published: Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chris Wattie/ReutersWhen the BlackBerrys started buzzing early yesterday morning over breakfast in executive dining suites on Bay Street, even the most senior figures in Canada's banking industry interrupted their table conversations to confirm the fix was in.The announcement from the Conservatives that the federal government will intervene in financial markets was the culmination of weeks of behind-the-scenes dialogue leading to the sovereign pledge to repay money the country's banks borrow from other banks over the next six months, up to an estimated $218-billion.The impetus to act originated primarily from events outside Canada's borders that put pressure on banks' own cost of capital and the liquidity needed for day-to-day operation of the financial system. While international diplomatic considerations played a role, the timing and substance of the government's actions were driven in large part by domestic political calculations, according to senior figures directly involved in a high-level dialogue between Ottawa and Bay Street.Because of these acute political and commercial sensitivities, normal lobbying channels fell silent as chief executives engaged in direct dialogue with Ottawa, which was represented in key discussions by a senior, unelected, advisor to Jim Flaherty, the Finance Minister. Only a tiny circle of the banks' most trusted lobbyists were at the table and on conference calls. Other veterans of government relations were excluded, while regulators participated in some meetings.Several of the people involved in the process said that even while pillars of Wall Street were crumbling and world leaders were invoking the spectre of financial armageddon, a central consideration for the Prime Minister's Office seemed to be Jack Layton and the New Democratic Party.The Conservatives and key allies on Bay Street feared both the immediate and lasting consequences of giving political adversaries an opening to turn the banking industry and its ties with Ottawa into a matter of public scorn. This concern reached a peak immediately before the election with the meltdown in markets, co-ordinated global interventions and the approach of polling day.Amid late-night phone calls to the homes of senior officials in Ottawa, a loose strategy emerged to split the federal government's response into two stages, with a decision to delay until after the election the explicit commitment to insure interbank lending that was finally unveiled yesterday.But bank executives insisted on a long-sought move to shift mortgages off their books and supply them with cash before the election, because they feared the uncertainty of polling day and the possibility Mr. Flaherty might not return as finance minister, according to participants in the process and observers. This first stage was held back until the last possible moment, the eve of the Thanksgiving weekend, the last day of market trading before polling day, when a $25-billion scheme to aid banks was announced by Mr. Flaherty. "The strategy [was] trying to low-key it, [unveiling it] when people were running away to the cottage to pull the dock out of the water and making their pumpkin pies," said one person involved in the discussions.This was the point when the Conservatives' concern about the political reaction was at a peak, according to a former member of the party now on Bay Street. "Managing the NDP is not easy," said another person involved in the joint strategizing, adding the heightened profile of the social democrats in the midst of election season was a worry for negotiators, "because you are constrained in how much you can put your head up and whack them."Stéphane Dion, the lame-duck Liberal leader, was seen as onside, according to one person, who added: "but look where that got him."This concern about a political backlash was still a major concern for the government going into yesterday's announcement, which came long after a dozen other countries including the United States, U.K., France and Ireland had acted."[The backlash] only matters if it becomes a ‘grassroots issue', " said a person involved in the strategizing.To head off the possibility of public outcry over assistance to banks that are increasingly squeezing customers, the government is thought to have held back the lending guarantee because it wanted to see if banks would pass on to customers the rate cut by the Bank of Canada that came earlier this week.While these machinations almost certainly played little or no part in the central bank's own deliberations, it put pressure on the big five banks to announce they were all cutting their prime lending rate for consumers to 4%, which they did.More than one bank executive said this reduction in the benchmark for consumer lending was not so much a normal business decision, and more one made with national interest in mind as Canada's economic outlook darkens.This mid-week cut in the prime rate set the stage for yesterday's announcement of the guarantee from Mr. Flaherty, who will meet fellow finance ministers in two weeks before travelling to Washington for an international crisis summit after the U.S. presidential election.The minister also acknowledged a key Bay Street demand to raise the initial $25-billion limit on mortgages they can transfer to public books, saying he was "prepared to extend the program if necessary."This scheme had by yesterday already seen $12-billion snapped up by Bay Street, where bankers were continuing to work their BlackBerrys in a campaign of "quiet diplomacy" to have this limit raised closer to $200-billion.Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Oil Sands slowdown

This is from Canwest news.

The cuts make sense. Oil must be reaching a price where the cost of production will be more than the price of the product given that oil sands production costs are high. Even at a reduced growth rate as the article mentions there is virtually full employment in the area. In fact I gather there is even a shortage of some skilled labor. A slower growth rate is not necessarily bad at all. Also, the environmental costs of oil sands development are quite high and not properly costed in to development. This is another reason why a slower growth is warranted. In fact many would argue that there should be a development freeze.

Friday » October 24 » 2008

Oilsands plans scaled back
Partners may delay $10-billion upgrader near Edmonton

Canwest News Service
Friday, October 24, 2008
EDMONTON - Alberta's oilsands expansion plans took a multibillion-dollar blow Thursday with news that Suncor will cut spending on capital projects and that a proposed upgrader northeast of Edmonton likely won't proceed.
Citing "turbulent times," Petro-Canada and partner UTS Energy Corp. said Thursday they may defer their
$10-billion-plus upgrader near Gibbons to cut costs at the Fort Hills project.
Petro-Canada CEO Ron Brenneman said only the mining portion of Fort Hills may proceed at this time, while the upgrader may be deferred or scrapped altogether to reduce "the sticker price." Among the options being considered is whether to instead buy an existing refinery to upgrade the bitumen into higher quality oil.
"These are certainly turbulent times," Brenneman told analysts in a conference call. "An economic slowdown seems likely."
UTS Energy estimated deferring the upgrader would cut costs of Fort Hills by about half, to the $13-billion to $15-billion range.
Petro-Canada, the country's third-largest oil company, said in September that costs at Fort Hills, about 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, had ballooned between 50 per cent and 60 per cent to more than $23 billion through the last year.
Brenneman said the mining portion of Fort Hills has to start producing bitumen by the end of 2011 or the partners lose the lease. He said there have been no discussions with the Alberta government about changing those terms.
Under current plans, the mine would produce 160,000 barrels a day of bitumen. Equipment that has been pre-ordered for the upgrader could be stored until a later date, Brenneman said.
Meanwhile, Suncor announced Friday it has approved a $6-billion capital spending plan for 2009. About $3.6 billion is targeted to Suncor's Voyageur oilsands growth strategy.
"Following a thorough review in light of current financial market conditions, we've modified our capital plans for 2009, reducing targeted spending by more than a third," said Rick George, president and chief executive officer.
"Our aim is to ensure we are living within our means during a time of market uncertainty, while also making the strategic spending decisions that will allow us to continue on our growth path."
Ron Stevens, deputy premier and minister of international and intergovernmental relations, said such projects tend to come online over a long period of time.
"Companies are going to be reassessing their plans for the future based on current economic situations," he said.
Asked what harm taking away $6 billion to $10 billion in investment would do to the economy, Stevens said: "There's about $170 billion worth of projects that had been announced over the next three-year period. If they don't proceed ... they are jobs that otherwise would be there that aren't. To my knowledge, people are pretty much fully employed up in that part of the world in this particular point in time."
Suncor will go ahead with the third and fourth stages of the company's Firebag in-situ operations, part of the $20.6-billion Voyageur strategy. But it will "scale down spending and the pace of construction" on the company's planned Voyageur upgrader, delaying targeted completion by a year to sometime in 2012.
Suncor could also hold back future expansion plans at its Firebag in-situ operations if the credit crisis and slumping oil prices continue.
Chief executive Rick George said in a conference call Thursday that if oil prices hover between $65 and $70 US per barrel, and credit markets remain frozen, "you drop (expansion stages) 5 (and) 6 (for the Firebag bitumen production project) if you have to, and the upgrader if you have to. You can (drop spending) right down to $2 billion needed for the basic business."
This, however, would represent an extreme situation. George said the company is not mothballing its expansion plans.
© The Edmonton Journal 2008

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pressure to change Wheat Board mandate should ease: Pat Martin

This is from the Winnipeg Free Press.
Given that it is part of the Conservative platform to do away with single desk selling, it is unlikely that the Conservative government will just drop the issue. However, the economy will probably be the first priority for a while. We will see. The Conservatives may feel they can try and push something through while the Liberals are weak. If they did make the issue a confidence motion then it would be unlikely that the opposition would try to defeat them on it any time soon!

Wheat Board pressure should ease: Martin
bylineParse('By Mia Rabson')
By: Mia Rabson
Updated: October 23 at 11:09 AM CDT

Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin says the Conservatives failure to secure a majority government and the economic downturn should mean the pressure will come off the Canadian Wheat Board.
“I believe the Conservatives did not get a mandate to kill the Canadian Wheat Board,” Martin said today, at an unrelated press conference on Parliament Hill.
“Canadians will push back if they try.”
Martin also said given the current state of the Canadian economy, tinkering with the Wheat Board wouldn’t be a good idea.
In a time of economic crisis the last thing you want to do is turn orderly marketing of commodities upside down and on its head.”
The Wheat Board’s monopoly on prairie wheat and barley sales received very little attention during the campaign.
However as soon as the election was over lobby groups in favour of opening up barley marketing in the prairies immediately called on the Conservative government to implement the election promise Stephen Harper made in 2006.
Many cited the fact the Conservatives won almost all the rural seats in the prairies where wheat and barley are grown as evidence of the backing for eliminating the Wheat Board.
Legislation introduced last year to end the monopoly on barley sales was never brought up for debate by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and died on the order paper. Currently the government is fighting a court challenge against its regulatory change restricting the voters list in Wheat Board director elections to farmers who produce a minimum amount of grain.
Pro-Wheat Board supporters say that removes 16,000 people from the voters’ list.
A federal judge in Winnipeg earlier this week reserved a decision in the case.
Elections are already underway for five of the Wheat Board’s director seats. If enough directors are elected who want to open up marketing, the board could vote to do it on its own and the government would not have to pass its legislation.
Before the current elections, the pro-monopoly wheat board directors outnumbered the anti-monopoly directors by just one vote.
Martin said if the government reintroduces its legislation, he is doubtful Harper would make it an issue of confidence in order to help it pass.
In the last Parliament, a number of bills the Conservatives knew would not pass easily were hit with a confidence label, which meant if the opposition parties voted against them there would be an election. The Liberal party abstained from more than three dozen votes in order to prevent that from happening.
But Harper himself has said he is tired of elections and Canadians surely would be unhappy at any party that caused another one to happen soon. It means the confidence vote tactic likely will not appear as often if at all in the near future.
“My prediction is you’re going to see a kinder gentler Prime Minister,” said Martin. “I don’t think he is going to push the envelope on controversial areas in this next short minority government.”
Triggering an election over the Wheat Board would also be unwise, says Martin, noting it is an issue that only directly affects the prairies.
“Making the Wheat Board a confidence matter, most Canadians wouldn’t get that,” said Martin. “I can’t imagine Harper trying to trigger an election based on how barley is marketed around the world.”

Kerry Pither on the Iacobucci report

This is from Kerry Pither's blog. Pither wrote a book on the Almalki et al. I don't understand the distinction that Pither says Iacobucci makes between direct and indirect. Even if someone else were involved you could be directly involved and even if someone else were involved you could be still indirectly involved. I thought indirect meant as she mentions in the next sentence that the Canadians did not directly do the torturing (or even order it or the imprisonment). The full text of the report is in the links highlighted in her article. It is in PDF format. The Adobe reader came with my new computer and Vista operating system. However, when I use it I am warned that there are known compatibility problems. Nevertheless it seems to work after a fashion.
It was convenient that the report came out after the election. However, any blaming of government surely applies to the Liberal govt. as much as the Conservatives, although the latter are responsible for the restrictive terms of reference that Iacobucci seems to have interpreted narrowly as well.

October 22, 2008
No wonder they wanted the inquiry kept secret
The Iacobucci Inquiry’s report is very good news for Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki, and Muayyed Nureddin, and very bad news for the government, CSIS and the RCMP. It details how Canadian agencies’ allegations against the men were were ”inaccurate,” “inflammatory,” and “without investigative foundation,” and the many ways in which these agencies were complicit in their torture.
While former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci uses the term “indirect” to describe Canadian officials’ responsibility for detention and torture in his report, he explains that by indirect, he means that he cannot rule out the possibility that someone else was involved. So Canadian officials were “indirectly” responsible for the men’s torture in Syria (ie., by supplying questions) they weren’t actually wielding the whips and cables used to torture them. To say they were “directly” complicit, or responsible, he says, he would have had to rule out any possibility that anyone else was involved.
The government did its best to minimize the damage yesterday, waiting until late Monday night to tell journalists, and the men and their counsel, when the report would be released, and giving everyone one hour to read it before responding. Then Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day toured every media studio in town, trying to revive allegations against the men by pointing to claims made by the Attorney General in closing submissions to the Inquiry. He neglected to mention that Justice Iacobucci did not accept those arguments.
Read the report, not the submissions, Minister Day, then issue a formal apology to these men.
More to come soon.

Disturbing complicity on torture

This article shows how Iacobucci was careful not to make a finding of legal liability for his paymasters. The road to hell being paved with good intentions has nothing to do with the case. The intention of the operatives was to help out the war against terror no doubt partnering with the US. The intention was to use adventitious rendition or rendition lite as a means. The officials took advantage of the accidental fact that the men were in Syria to pass on information to the Syrians that got them arrested and tortured. Those are not good intentions but violations of the very rights that Iacobucci is supposed to be so worried about. But not only were there no good intentions, the operatives were incompetent. They labelled the three terrorists without good evidence even taking as evidence in one case intelligence from another agency that did not even relate to the person who was then labelled a terrorist. None of this of course is any grounds for finding anyone to be held to account or punished. We have no idea who these people even are so unlike the Arar inquiry we will not know when they have been promoted. This is from the Star.

Disturbing complicity on torture

Haroon Siddiqui

Oct 23, 2008 04:30 AM
The headlines didn't match the stories on the report of the Frank Iacobucci inquiry into the alleged torture of three Arab Canadians abroad.
The former judge of the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that Canadian officials and institutions were complicit in the detention of at least two of them and perhaps of the third as well.
They were certainly complicit in the torture of all three.
He said Canadian diplomats failed to provide proper consular services to two of them, failed to detect torture and failed to inform Ottawa of allegations of torture.
Yet the main message of the media coverage is that Canadian officials only "likely contributed to" or "indirectly" contributed to the unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention and torture of the three men.
Iacobucci said so only for reasons of legal specificity, as explained on page 336 of his 544-page report.
He had no co-operation from Syria, Egypt or the U.S. so he does not know what role they played.
He also refused to "apply a `but for' test," meaning the men would not have suffered but for the actions of Canadian officials.
"Doing so would bring me dangerously close to making an explicit finding of legal liability" against officials and institutions – something that was "not the purpose or jurisdiction of this inquiry."
At least not in the narrow way he interpreted his terms of reference, say such intervenors as the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (headed by Warren Allmand, a former justice minister) and Amnesty International.
Iacobucci, a distinguished jurist, has been a strong defender of civil rights, even in tackling terrorism.
He repeats that belief in his report, saying a democracy must "ensure that in protecting the security of our country, we respect the human rights and freedoms that so many have fought to achieve."
Also: "No Canadian officials should consider themselves exempt" from the responsibility of upholding human rights.
But, as far as the officials in the three cases are concerned, there's no individual culpability, only institutional deficiency. Iacobucci says there is no evidence that the officials acted maliciously.
Of course not. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
No sooner had the Iacobucci report been released than Stockwell Day dismissed the repeated torture episodes as nothing more than instances of "good people acting with deficient procedures." The heads of the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs had already assured him that "those deficiencies have been addressed." Case closed.
Except that it isn't. That's not the thrust of what Iacobucci says.
His report is, in some ways, more damning than that of Dennis O'Connor on the Maher Arar tragedy.
Consider first the similarities in the case of Arar and the cases of the three other Muslim Canadians.
Syria had no reason of its own that we know of to detain any of them. All four were held in the same prison; tortured by the same team; asked questions that could only have originated in Canada; and forced to sign confessions they were not allowed to read.
All were released. None was found to have any connection with terrorism, just as they have always maintained.
Now look at the cases of the three.
In one, CSIS sent questions directly to Syria, as opposed to those questions landing in Damascus via the U.S. The Syrians took that as "a green light to continue their interrogation and detention, rather than a red light to stop," Iacobucci said.
In one case, Ottawa asked Egypt not to release the detainee (who had been sent there from Syria). Canadian diplomats used their consular visits to urge him to co-operate with the RCMP and CSIS.
All this complicity was pretty direct, says Kerry Pither, author of the recently released Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror. It is a compelling – and, as it turns out, accurate – account of the horrors they endured.
(The Ottawa author is donating proceeds to such agencies as Amnesty International.)
The way forward is clear:
An apology and compensation to all three, along the same lines as extended to Arar; the establishment of a civilian oversight agency over all security agencies, as called for by Justice O'Connor but ignored by the Stephen Harper government; and a wide public discussion of Iacobucci's disturbing findings.
Haroon Siddiqui writes Thursday and Sunday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Aljazeera: Canada ''had role in torture".

This is from Aljazeera.
No editorial comments in the article. The article does detail some of the torture and also some of the reaction of Almalki. Almalki is right that the RCMP knew well that he would be tortured even though they deny this. As Iacobucci quaintly described it, this is wilful ignorance. He can't accuse them of lying I guess. Of course it is standard protocol to deny such things. There is a similar protocol when Syrian authorities assure agencies that they will not torture a suspect. Intelligence agencies seem to always believe them and cite the assurances when evidence of torture is presented.

Canada 'had role in torture'
Iacobucci concluded the men had been beaten and burned while in Syrian jails [Reuters]
Canadian officials indirectly contributed to the arrest and torture of three Canadian citizens in Syria and Egypt, a Canadian inquiry has found.
Canadians Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin were arrested by Syrian Military Intelligence during trips abroad between 2001 and 2004 on allegations of having links to al-Qaeda.
All three were later released without charge.
Frank Iacobucci, a retired supreme court judge who conducted the inquiry, concluded the men had been tortured with methods such as beatings with electric cables, burning with cigarettes and being kicked in the genitals.
He said in a news conference on Tuesday: "Mistakes were made ... detention and mistreatment were connected to those mistakes, in my view, in an indirect way.''
Iacobucci said in his report the mistreatment of the men did not result directly from any Canadian action, but Canadian officials indirectly led to the torture of El Maati and Almalki and probably to that of Nureddin, who he concluded had also been tortured in Egypt.
Each of the three, born in Kuwait, Syria and Iraq respectively, had claimed upon return to Canada to have been tortured and that Canadian security officials had labeled them as "terrorists" and supplied their captors with intelligence and lists of questions to ask them.
'Life ruined'
Iacobucci concluded: "I found no evidence that any of these officials were seeking to do anything other than carry out conscientiously the duties and responsibilities of the institutions of which they were a part."
He found that the officials had not been careful enough in applying labels such as "imminent threat" to the men and in preparing questions for Syrian authorities.
But Almalki later told a news conference: "The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] fully knew that I would be tortured if they sent questions.
"My life had been ruined, my reputation has been ruined."
The Canadian government ordered the probe in 2006 after an earlier inquiry found that Canadian Maher Arar had been deported to Syria by the United States and tortured there, after what the inquiry said was the false identification of him as an Islamic extremist by Canadian police.
Stockwell Day, the Canadian public security minister, said security agencies had taken steps to correct shortcomings following the Arar affair.
He declined to say if compensation would be offered, saying civil lawsuits were in progress.

Seeking to do your duty conscientiously while indirectly being responsible for torture and imprisonment.

Here is a quote from Iacobucci from the CBC.

"I found no evidence that any of these officials were seeking to do anything other than carry out conscientiously the duties and responsibilities of the institutions of which they were a part," former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci concluded in his report, made public Tuesday, 22 months after the inquiry began.

These conscientious persons included some person or person who labelled El Maati as linked to Al Qaeda and an imminent threat to Canadian security on the basis of intelligence not collected by the RCMP and not verified:

He noted three instances of information sharing by Canadian officials that led indirectly to El Maati's detention. The Toronto truck driver was arrested by Syrian officials in 2001 when he was in Damascus to attend his wedding. He was later transferred to Egypt, spending a total of 26 months in prison.
The report said that in September 2001, the RCMP described El Maati to foreign law officials, including Syrian officials, as "linked through association to al-Qaeda" and an "imminent threat to public safety."
"The RCMP appears to have described Mr. El Maati in its way without taking steps to ensure that the description was accurate or properly qualified," Iacobucci wrote, adding that the source of the information did not come from the force's own investigation

The same sort of mislabelling occurs with respect to the other two. It is for that reason the three think the report clears their name-at least to some extent.

Apparently this gross incompetence which resulted in imprisonment and torture for the three Canadians will go completely unpunished, just as I predicted. In fact no one even seems to be calling for anyone to be held accountable. Listen to the sweet voice of reason Iacobucci.

It is neither necessary nor appropriate that I make findings concerning the actions of any individual Canadian official, and I have not done so," Iacobucci wrote.

He is correct. He earned his pay. After all no Canadian official held any torture weapons or directly ordered torture. Gross incompetence is no big deal when you are successfully carrying out rendition lite and helping out the war on terror. Note that neither the US, Syria, Egypt, nor Malaysia would co-operate with the investigation. Now I wonder why! The U.S. and Canada co-operate when dirty tricks are involved but not when injustices come up and the innocent need to be absolved of suspicions.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Income gap growing wider in Canada

This is from the Star.
Well Harper can be comforted. Canada is indeed becoming a more Conservative country. There is less government intervention. We have a war on terror that provides welfare for the military industrial complex but have lost the war on poverty and left it to be waged by charities and soup kitchens. Of course the Conservatives or Tweedle-Dee do not deserve all the credit since much was accomplished under the Liberals or Tweedle-Dum as well.
The marvel of global competition has provided great opportunities for invesment and also great opportunities to cut wages, weaken unions, and dismantle the social safety net that was won by the working class over decades. Thus we get a bigger spread between the well off and the lower income percentiles.

Income gap growing wider

Canada lags behind 17 developed countries; has no detailed plan to fight poverty, study finds
Oct 21, 2008 04:30 AM
Laurie Monsebraaten Social Justice Reporter
Poverty and inequality rates in Canada have been on the rise since 1995 and are now higher than the average developed nation, according to a new study.
The income gap is growing throughout the developed world, but the gap between rich and poor in Canada widened more dramatically than in most countries between 1995 and 2005, according to the report released in Paris today.
The 20-year analysis by the 30-member Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development found only Germany saw a similar rate of increase during the past 10 years.
"After 20 years of continuous decline, both inequality and poverty rates (in Canada) have increased rapidly in the past 10 years, now reaching levels above the OECD average," says the report.
As in other countries, more single-parent households and people living alone are contributing to income inequality in Canada.
And wages for the rich are increasing, while they have been stagnating or dropping for middle and lower income workers, the report says.
Most affected have been young adults and families with children.
Canada spends less on cash transfers, such as unemployment and family benefits, than other OECD countries and that may be one of the reasons the country fares worse than others, the report suggests.
The report echoes concerns raised by Canadian social research groups about growing income disparity in Canada at a time of strong economic growth.
"It's a consistent repudiation of the trickle-down theory," said Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which has written several reports on the issue.
"Even in a period of dramatic growth in the job market – and Canada has been a leader in job growth in the G-7 in the last 10 years – trickle down has not happened," she said.
The OECD report underscores the need for federal action, she said, adding every political party except the recently elected federal Conservatives had plans to cut poverty in their campaign platforms.
"It will be interesting to see how the other parties form a coalition of interest on this issue, or if they do," Yalnizyan said.
With U.S. Democratic leader Barack Obama ahead in the polls and promising to cut poverty in half in that country within 10 years, Canada may soon be one of the only developed countries without a detailed plan to address the problem.
But Lesley Harmer, a spokesperson for retiring Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg, said the government is "taking real action to support Canadians who need help."
In an email, she listed "vital social programs" the government is strengthening: the Working Income Tax Benefit; the recent extension of affordable housing and homelessness programs; the new retired disability savings program; $100 monthly child care benefits; and supports for seniors, skills training and post-secondary education.
When asked if the government plans to introduce a strategy with goals and timetables she said: "I think what I sent you stands."