Thursday, April 30, 2009

NDP within striking distance of BC victory: Poll

It seems that the race in BC between the Liberals and NDP is much closer than expected. Carole James seems to be attracting woman voters as among women many more will vote NDP than Liberal. Even though the Liberals retain a lead in the polls the distribution of votes could still very well give the NDP a victory. The Liberals seem to be faltering somewhat at this stage.

The Vancouver Sun

A new poll puts NDP with easy striking distance of forming a government
By Vaughn Palmer 04-29-2009 View from the Ledge

With two weeks to go in the 2009 B.C. election, the New Democratic Party is within reach of an upset win, according to an opinion poll released Tuesday by Angus Reid Strategies. The pollster had it BC Liberals 42, NDP 39, a three point gap. Analysis of the B.C. election map suggests that the New Democrats could win a majority of the seats in the B.C. legislature even if they were two or three points behind in the popular vote, as happened in 1996. But not all of the findings in the poll were as encouraging for the New Democrats. Respondents said that Liberal leader Gordon Campbell was the best choice to manage the economy, by a three to one margin over Carole James. They also said that the economy was the number one concern. Campbell also had a decisive lead over James on the question of who would make the best premier -- 40 per cent to 25 per cent. So people are most worried about the economy, they think that Campbell is best able to manage it and he'd make the best premier. But they barely favour his Liberals over the James-led NDP. Earlier polls, by the riival Mustel Group and Ipsos Reid have found a larger, two-digit gap between the two main parties. But most observers have expected the race to tighten up. The other two pollsters are expected to weigh in with revised findings in another week. Then it will be on to the election to see which pollster was closest to the mark.

© 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.

Investment Saskatchewan Report Released

The free enterprise ideology is still well in spite of all the publicly funded bailouts and equity positions taken by govts. during the economic crisis. The Sask. Party and even the former NDP represent this ideology quite well and the fate of Investment Saskatchewan shows how it works.
Successful forays into private business are sold off. Public funds are simply used to build up a company and then when profits start to roll in the company is privatised or the fund sells its stake. The NDP did this to some extent and as the article shows even made sure that the running of the fund was privatised. The company was of former employees of Investment Sask. so probably many were NDP supporters!

Investment Saskatchewan report released

By James Wood, TheStarPhoenix.comApril 28, 2009

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Party has put the brakes on the government’s investment arm and plans to divest its remaining investments in private business in the next two to three years.
Investment Saskatchewan’s 2008 annual report, released Tuesday, showed it raked in the cash last year thanks mainly to the $816.9 million sale of the government’s share in SaskFerco.
Thanks to that deal, Investment Saskatchewan earned $691 million last year, compared to $11.5 million a year earlier.
The sale — plus some writedowns of other investments and payment of loans — leaves the remaining investment portfolio valued at $175 million.
While SaskFerco was one of only three of the Crown corporation’s equity investments that made money for the government last year, Lyle Stewart, the minister responsible for Investment Saskatchewan, said he expected a reasonable return on the asset sale once the world economy rebounds.
“Assuming markets return to some semblance of normal, whatever normal is for markets these days, I would hope the majority of this work will be completed in maybe three years or something in that neighbourhood. We’re not putting any finite limits on it because nobody can predict what markets will do,” he said at a news conference at the legislature.
The former NDP government had contracted out the handling of the investment portfolio to a private company — Regina-based Victoria Park Capital — founded by former Investment Saskatchewan employees.
But Stewart announced last fall the government’s intention to end the contract, introducing legislation that would allow the government to legally get out of the deal to avoid disbursing $80 million for new investments over its last three years. In April, Stewart announced that Victoria Park Capital would receive a $6 million settlement to end their services as of July 1.
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Travers: Political Expediency has a price.

This is from the Star.

It is not clear at all that letting Dion hang on was a matter of political expediency. If the Liberals had put more pressure on to force him to resign that might very well have been more expedient than letting him hang on while there was continual backbiting within the party and little support for the leader. That hardly seems expedient or any help to the Liberals in the polls.
Obviously Travers has little liking for the coalition arrangement and in describing it he sounds like the reactionary that he is. However, he is right about the triumph of expediency in elevating Ignatieff to the leadership. Travers cynicism about the convention perhaps reflects media disappointment that there will probably be little to excite media appetites and public desire for some sort of drama. Travers will no doubt stay home and pen dreary commentaries such as this.

Political expediency has a price - Canada - Political expediency has a price
April 28, 2009 James Travers
Expediency carries a political price. This week the bill comes due for federal Liberals.
Canada's natural governing party, as it still thinks of itself, opted twice for convenience after last fall's election. First it let Stéphane Dion hang on after a shattering defeat rather than force him to follow Paul Martin's example of an early exit. Then it rolled over rules, precedents and the right of members to pick the new leader by letting the elite anoint Michael Ignatieff.
Most flawed decisions seem sound at the time. Those two are not exceptions. Allowing the intelligent and honourable, if inept, Dion to save face seemed the decent thing to do before discarding him to history this spring. With the pre-Christmas coalition crisis still unfolding, the Liberal priority was to return to Parliament rallied around a leader who could credibly form a government or fight an election.
Of the two decisions, the second best defends itself. Since elevating Ignatieff, Liberals have enjoyed a modest opinion poll bump. They are imposing discipline on the leader's office, bringing fundraising into this century and slowly leaving behind their unholy union with, as Stephen Harper theatrically put it, socialists and separatists.
Still, following the path of least resistance has consequences. Only the most loyal Liberals will trek to Vancouver this week for what's being called the Seinfeld convention. It will crown the leader and won't set policy. It's essentially about nothing.
Along with being as exciting as heaven on Saturday night, this gathering threatens to make the party a victim of its own cynicism. Having skirted the crucible of a leadership contest, Liberals don't know nearly enough about the leader or where, exactly, he wants them, and all Canadians, to follow.
Left largely untested is Ignatieff's emerging vision of a future built on Canada's Last Spike past. Wire and steel will bind the East and West of a Great White North drawn south by U.S. opportunity. Among other things, a leadership contest would have challenged the economics, as well as the nation-building strategy, of high-speed rail through the Quebec-Windsor corridor and a Canadian power grid more plugged into politics than consumers.
Lost, too, is an opportunity. Ignatieff is more than a public intellectual, the saccharine label stuck to those who export their ideas beyond academia's ivory towers. He's also the political personification of the borderless citizen, the expatriate who flourishes globally before lugging experience and expertise home in a prodigal's suitcase.
Canadians, not just Liberals, need to know how Ignatieff's life journey meshes with the national dream. Is he fulfilling noble, old school obligations or personal ambition? Is he a patrician stooping to conquer or a catalytic agent of a Canadian work in progress?
Leadership races are notoriously imperfect. More about popularity and organization than policy or values, they obsess on the candidate's ability to win elections, not their capacity to govern wisely. Even so, the cruel length and close scrutiny combine to strip veneers and expose character.
In twice choosing the easy route home Liberals cheated Ignatieff, themselves and the country that seminal exercise. Now they and the rest of us will have to learn more about Ignatieff from what he says in Vancouver and after, where he leads Liberals in the next election and, perhaps, how he performs as prime minister.
That may not prove to be a deal-breaker. But it's a high public price to pay for political expediency.
James Travers' column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

EI figures keep rising as jobs disapper

In terms of job losses the recession is obviously getting worse. However, these job losses mean that companies are getting meaner and leaner so the stock market is actually doing better these days. The decline in oil exploration and the decline in the price of oil is obviously having a big effect on the boom in Alberta. It now seems close to a bust but other provinces such as Ontario in the auto belt are also suffering.

EI figures keep rising as jobs disappear
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 11:19 AM ET
CBC News
The number of Canadians getting employment insurance benefits grew in February by 44,300, or 7.8 per cent, when compared to the previous month, Statistics Canada said Tuesday.
Since job growth wilted beginning in October 2008, the number of regular EI beneficiaries has climbed 21.9 per cent to hit 610,200 in February.
"Over the same period, the number of regular EI beneficiaries has increased in almost all provinces and territories, with the largest percentage gains in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario," Statistics Canada reported.
To get EI benefits, individuals must first submit a claim. In February, there were 325,700 claims received, the highest number on records dating back to 1997. The number of claims received in February was up 51,000, or 18.6 per cent from January.
The biggest year-over-year increase in people getting EI benefits among major metropolitan areas across the country was seen in Calgary, where the number of EI recipients shot up 114 per cent to a seasonally-unadjusted 11,690. In Edmonton, a 96.4 per cent increase brought the number of beneficiaries to 10,900.
"In Alberta, the drop in employment in recent months was spread across a number of sectors, including construction, trade, manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical services," Statistics Canada said.
Behind only Calgary was the hard-hit city of Windsor, Ont., where the number of people getting EI benefits was up 103.8 per cent. Among other Ontario cities, Kitchener followed with an increase of 96 per cent, with Hamilton and London seeing increases of 83.4 per cent and 82.9 per cent, respectively. In Toronto, the number of people getting EI grew 60.6 per cent over the 12 months.
In B.C., Victoria saw an increase of just under 89 per cent, while Vancouver posted a jump of 75.3 per cent.
Canada's unemployment rate in March climbed to a seven-year high of eight per cent as the economy shed another 61,300 jobs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hospitalisation and Lemon Socialism

The CAW and UAW as well as the US govt. are taking big stakes in GM and Chrysler. No doubt this will be seen by some as socialism or a victory for the goal of worker ownership of the means of production. Nothing could be further from the truth. The worker and state ownership stakes are in failing almost bankrupt producers and what we have is workers and taxpayers shouldering risk in order to save the auto industry for private capital in the future. As soon as things turn around and there are profits to be made the state and unions will divest themselves of their equity stake. Of course the state and union may recoup some of their investment and could possibly even make a profit but once profit is there the private sector and not the public or workers are to reap the rewards. Socialism on the other hand socialises both risks and benefits and would also produce on the basis of need rather than on the basis of profit.
Perhaps the term lemon socialism makes some sense but a better term would be hospitalisation where industry is taken into the public sector as part of a bailout and then when it is refinanced and back to a point of making a healthy profit it is then returned to the private sector.

MacKay: Mulroney should be lauded.

If I had to choose between Harper and MacKay I would hold my nose and pick Harper. MacKay is a piece of basic scum. It was MacKay who went back on his word twice and is responsible for the Progressive Conservatives becoming the Regressive Conservatives.
This is from Macleans.
To this day, the unscrupulous continue to dissect footage of MacKay solemnly vowing to leadership rival David Orchard that he will never, ever, enter into merger talks with the Canadian Alliance. At the time, experts in amorality described the move as reminiscent of the Chretien MMCLXII(a.k.a. The "I Said I'd Do WHAT to the GST??")-- but, curiously, the MacKay Mach I seemed more poignant for its boning over of just one man.
Now the legend is back! The MacKay Mach II, unveiled last week, demonstrates the mastery of a promise-breaker at the top of his game. Here's how it works:
Make a promise(in MacKay's case, he promised that no Conservative MP would ever be turfed from caucus for voting according to his or her conscience).
Break the promise(when MP Bill Casey voted with his conscience, he was turfed from caucus).
Smile widely and say, as MacKay did, that you "never believed" anyone would meet the conditions of your promise. Ergo: because you never thought your promise would need to be honoured, you can't possibly be expected to honour your promise.
Note that MacKay thinks of NAFTA as a great triumph. A great triumph of US imperialism in forcing us to share our resources to fuel the empire at bargain prices.

Mulroney and MacKay are two of a kind. Maybe MacKay has hopes of replacing Harper. Ugh!

Mulroney should be lauded: MacKay

By Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News ServiceApril 26, 2009

Defence Minister and former Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay says Brian Mulroney should not only be treated with respect, but also "lauded" for his accomplishments as prime minister.
"As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said this week, he's a man who should be respected, and in fact, in my view, lauded, for the contributions that he made during his time in public life," MacKay said of Mulroney in a joint interview this week.
"He brought to our country free trade, (and) an acid-rain treaty. In fact, during his tenure, Canada led the world in the fight to end apartheid in South Africa. So he has a number of very notable accomplishments, (including)two back-to-back majority governments. Mr. Mulroney is a man who gave a great deal of himself to this country and Canada is better for his efforts."
MacKay's comments came at the end of a week in which the Conservatives attempted to smooth a rift within their ranks over what some Mulroney loyalists saw as mistreatment of the former prime minister by the Harper government.
At a caucus meeting on Wednesday, Harper attempted to put the matter to rest by telling the Tory rank and file that Mulroney deserves to be shown respect. "The prime minister didn't really get into it, other than to say he wishes (Mulroney) well," said one Conservative.
The Harper government has tried to distance itself from Mulroney since businessman Karlheinz Schreiber said he had agreed to pay Mulroney $300,000 to lobby for Schreiber's business interests.
In November 2007, after calling a review of Mulroney's dealings with Schreiber, Harper ordered his caucus to cease contact with the former prime minister.

Flaherty says it's too early to judge if swine flu will impact the economy

This is from the Canadian Press.

The stock market obviously disagrees with Flaherty. As usual Flaherty does not make much sense. Clearly airline travel is already being considerably hurt as are travel agencies and some cruise lines. On the other hand manufacturers of protective gear and anti-viral remedies are seeing their stock go up. The Conservative govt. insists on being behind the flow of events rather than being pro-active although with respect to an epidemic Canada is much better prepared now after having learned quite a bit from the Sars epidemic.

Flaherty says it's too early to judge if swine flu will impact the economy

TORONTO — Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says it's too early to know whether the swine flu outbreak will impact the economy.
Flaherty, in Toronto for an unrelated announcement at the island airport, says he spoke with his Mexican counterpart this weekend during meetings in Washington. But he says so far, officials are just monitoring the situation.
The virus is suspected in up to 103 deaths in Mexico, the epicentre of the outbreak with more than 1,600 cases suspected, while 20 cases were confirmed in the United States and six in Canada.
World stock markets fell as investors worried the deadly outbreak could go global and derail any global economic recovery, with airlines taking the brunt of the selling.
In Washington, President Barack Obama says that the threat of spreading swine flu infections is a cause for concern but not a cause for alarm.
Canada is taking "every step" to monitor the virus, Flaherty said Monday.
"The minister of health has been monitoring that carefully over the weekend and we will continue to monitor," he said.
"I discussed it with the minister of finance in Mexico on Saturday in Washington, and our minister of health federally has been working with the provincial ministers and continue to monitor the situation."
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mulroney didn't want cash made public..

This is hardly surprising! Mulroney is a good example of a successful politician managing to sue a panicky govt. for millions while at the same time not mentioning he had taken cash in envelopes from Schreiber supposedly for lobbying on behalf of the German arms dealer's clients. The Air Bus deal reeks of influence peddling. The one bright spot is that at least the Air Bus seems to be a decent plane !

Mulroney didn't want cash made public, probe told - Canada - Mulroney didn't want cash made public, probe told
April 24, 2009 Richard J. BrennanOTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA–Author William Kaplan said yesterday Brian Mulroney repeatedly tried to stop him from making public that the former prime minister took cash from arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber.
"Mr. Mulroney did not want the story of the cash payment to become public and encouraged me on a number of occasions not to report on that," Kaplan told a public inquiry probing Mulroney's 1993-94 business dealings with Schreiber.
Schreiber says he paid Mulroney $300,000 to lobby for a project to build German-designed military vehicles in Canada. He says the deal was struck just before Mulroney stepped down as prime minister. Mulroney has admitted taking $225,000 from Schreiber, but says he violated no federal ethics rules.
Federal lawyers at one time alleged that Mulroney and Schreiber were involved in a kickback scheme surrounding the 1988 purchase by Air Canada of Airbus jetliners. Mulroney successfully sued the then-Liberal government over that claim and was awarded $2.1 million in compensation in 1997.
Kaplan, a lawyer, has written two books about Mulroney – Presumed Guilty, published in 1998, and A Secret Trial, six years later.
The first portrayed Mulroney as an innocent victim with respect to the kickback allegations. But Kaplan said yesterday he followed it up with a book "to set the record straight" about Mulroney after he found out about the cash payments.
"When Mr. Mulroney was suing the Canadian people for $50 million ... he should have told us that he was taking cash in motels from Mr. Schreiber ... " he told Mulroney's Ottawa lawyer, Guy Pratte, yesterday, adding that he and Canadians were "duped."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Feds flip-flop on Khadr appeal.

This is from the Edmonton Sun.

Cannon is a loose cannon. In a short space he manages to commit the fallacy of ad populum and ad hominem. Instead of presenting an argument as to why the court decision ought to be appealed Cannon simply appeals to popular feelings against Khadr (ad populum) and also launches a personal attack on Khadr rather than the decision (ad hominem). This is disgraceful and disgusting but about par for the course given the level of political discourse in this country at times. But as the article shows even Harper has not decided for sure on an appeal as yet. Maybe he is sniffing the political winds.

April 25, 2009
Feds flip-flop on Khadr appeal
Confusion reigned over Omar Khadr's fate yesterday as Conservatives flip-flopped over a possible legal appeal and suggested he might have built bombs like the ones that have killed Canadian soldiers.
This week a Federal Court judge ordered the feds to repatriate Khadr from Guantanamo Bay, but Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told MPs the government would appeal the decision.
Cannon also likened images of Khadr allegedly building bombs to the types of explosives that recently killed a soldier in Afghanistan.
"We saw this man apparently trying to build the same bombs that have taken the lives of a certain number of our soldiers, including Karine Blais, who died last week," Cannon said.
NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar called the minister's words "reprehensible" and demanded he apologize for disrespecting fallen soldiers.
"It's very strange. It's quite bizarre and it's quite sad. He seems to be using the tragedy of the loss of lives of Canadian soldiers to defend an indefensible position of the Canadian government not to do its job and repatriate Mr. Khadr," he said.
Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said the government is orchestrating a "smear campaign" against Khadr to deflect attention from its own inaction.
"There is a serious decision of the Federal Court and Mr. Cannon has chosen to change the subject and frame the discussion in a completely different way," said Rae.
Khadr was 15 when he was accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in 2002.
Cannon's spokeswoman, Catherine Loubier, said the minister might have spoken prematurely when he said the government would appeal the Federal Court's order.
The government is leaning that way, but wants more legal advice before making a decision, which is expected within 30 days, she said.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Layton deflating

Certainly the NDP does not seem to be going anywhere in the polls and it is probably bleeding support to the Liberals. Ignatieff seems to be going up in the polls just by letting the Conservative government make its own errors and suffer from the economic downturn. I can't see all that much new or positive coming from Ignatieff. He has seemingly dropped completely the Green Shift for the Right Shift and even lends support for the oil sands. However let the NDP show any sign of trying to grab right voters by retreating on the environment and all hell breaks lose in the media.

Layton deflating

By Susan Riley, The Ottawa CitizenApril 24, 2009

Jack Layton returned from Easter break looking less tired, but no more happy. It has been a difficult, disappointing period for the energizer bunny of national politics. Nothing is going his way, no matter how hard he tries.
For some, it is Layton's personality: too intense, negative, humourless. But despite this, until recently, he has still registered in the polls as a competent leader, even among those who would never vote for him.
And he has his fans who appreciate his fearlessness in tackling powerful interests, his genuine concern for the disadvantaged, his resolute advocacy on health care, homelessness and pension reform -- ongoing concerns for many Canadians that happen to have fallen off official Ottawa's radar. (He has recently been touring the country, collecting stories of recession-related hardship that he plans to convey, forcefully, to the prime minister.)
Indeed, if the NDP was going to make a breakthrough you would think it would be now, when activist government has suddenly become fashionable. Instead, Layton finds himself outflanked by Stephen Harper, of all people, whose recent budget launched an unprecedented spending spree and deficits as far as the eye can see.
This leaves the NDP leader to sputter that the stimulus isn't enough, that more needs to be done immediately. To which there are two rejoinders. How much more can we afford? And, as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tartly noted: "I don't know why (Layton) would ask for a second stimulus package, when he voted against the first one."
Not for the first time, Layton fell into a trap of his own making when he decided to vote against the Harper stimulus budget before even reading it. He was trying to convey his utter lack of trust in the prime minister -- mistrust that was well-placed, after the government's ill-conceived and mischievous November economic statement. But Layton ended up looking irresponsible himself, leaving himself open to Flaherty's jibes.
Some date the flagging NDP momentum to the failure of the Christmas coalition -- a personal setback for Layton, too, who has never been closer to a cabinet seat. But his problems started before then.
Layton's decision to make common cause with Stephen Harper against their mutual enemy, the Liberals, in the previous Parliament may have done more than anything to confound his admirers and undermine his image. And it looks as if he is about to rekindle the friendship.
You can understand his dilemma: Liberals routinely steal votes from the NDP and, in the unpolished Stéphane Dion, Layton had an uniquely vulnerable target. But Dion was a different kind of Liberal -- progressive, green, high-minded and close to the NDP on social policies. It didn't sit well with prominent New Democrats that Layton's attacks on Dion were so much sharper than his pro-forma tut-tutting of Harper.
But Layton did attract Liberals who didn't like Dion -- indeed, NDP numbers soared to 20-per-cent territory before the former Liberal leader was dispatched. Now, ironically, under centre-right leader Michael Ignatieff, Liberals have eaten into that NDP surge and any hope for a progressive government, coalition or otherwise, is fading fast.
His uncertain footing in the polls and Ignatieff's rising fortunes appear to have Layton thinking twice about forcing an election. And, of course, Harper is in no position to tempt fate. So Layton has been, again, sending broad hints that he is ready to work with Conservatives on employment insurance reforms, enhanced protection for private sector pensions and regulation of credit card companies rather than rush to the polls.
And, again, Tories are pretending to listen. Flaherty has hinted that some oversight of credit companies (notorious for keeping interest rates sky-high while they drop everywhere else) is in the works.
We have seen this dynamic before. The Conservatives gave Layton a chance to rewrite their clean air act -- then ignored his recommendations. They have likewise ignored a recent NDP resolution, supported by all opposition parties, calling for major reforms to EI. Harper might throw minor changes Layton's way -- to shore up his own standing, too -- but you couldn't fit a Smart car on the common ground between the two.
Instead of trying to wrestle with this particular alligator, Layton should be working with progressive forces, wherever he finds them -- including within Bloc and Liberal caucuses. Instead, he has alienated potential allies (who are also political rivals, of course) with his partisan, repetitive hectoring. His fear-mongering over the carbon tax, in particular, has undermined years of enlightened NDP environmental advocacy and damaged his own reputation as a green reformer in municipal politics. Green Leader Elizabeth May isn't the only environmentalist who is profoundly disappointed in Layton.
Yet he has been vindicated on some issues, from negotiating with the Taliban, to greening the auto sector, to recognizing Quebecers as a people within Canada. It just isn't doing him any good.
Susan Riley writes on national politics.

Chrysler reaches deal with CAW

There seems to be a race for the bottom among auto workers. Although the article says that pattern bargaining is being violated this seems not to be the case but rather a new pattern bargaining system is being developed. The worst contract is now the pattern to be used to force workers with better contracts to give up anything that suprasses the weakest contract that is used to set the pattern. As this article notes the CAW is to negotiate similar concessions to the Chrysler plan with GM and Ford.
There are always great opportunities for capital to weaken labour during downturns. Maybe this is producing some of the green shoots so prized by business commentators and shooting up the ailing stock market.

Chrysler reaches deal with CAW - Business - Chrysler reaches deal with CAW
April 24, 2009 Tony Van AlphenBusiness Reporter
Chrysler and its union have broken historical pattern bargaining in the auto industry with a deal for deep worker concessions to keep the teetering company alive here.
In around-the-clock, high-stakes bargaining, negotiators agreed on a deal Friday night for much more concessions than what workers accepted at General Motors, another reeling automaker, last month.
Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, also revealed if Chrysler slips into bankruptcy court protection in the U.S. and Canada, operations here would not be liquidated and remain among the company's "good" operating assets. Workers would also not face further concessions if there is a bankruptcy, he said.
Lewenza, who described the negotiations as "torturous and unfair," said the deal would lead to about $240 million in annual savings for the company but not reduce wages and pensions.
"We will live to fight for another day," he said.
He also disclosed that the company and the CAW will work to develop a retiree health care trust fund which will eventually transfer responsibility of costs to the union. It would be similar in concept to a U.S. plan at Chrysler.
The union would not disclose how much the savings represent in so-called "all in" labour costs but officials said privately the concessions meet company demands of reducing expenses by $19 an hour.
Among the concessions beyond an earlier deal at GM, Chrysler workers will lose semi-private hospital coverage, tuition programs, Christmas bonuses, savings on vehicle purchases, some drug dispensing fee protection and partial pay during layoffs.
The union also agreed to reduce relief time in plants, allow more flexibility in use of part-time workers and transfer to a new manufacturing system if Chrysler merges with Fiat SpA of Italy.
-"We are extremely grateful to the CAW leadership and to its hard-working members for their openness in this challenging environment to create a new strategy that will lead this company on a path to success. We also want to recognize the Canadian Federal and Ontario governments for their energy and efforts in helping to move this great company forward," said Chrysler president Tom LaSorda.
Chrysler workers, who earn an average of $35 an hour, will vote on the deal this weekend and the union said it will negotiate similar concessions at GM and Ford in Canada
Chrysler and its U.S. parent must submit restructuring plans to governments in both countries by a deadline next Thursday to receive billions of dollars in loans.
Those plans must contain concessions from numerous stakeholders including bondholders, suppliers, dealers and workers. Chrysler is seeking about $2.9 billion and has already received $750 million.
In addition, Chrysler must complete a merger with Fiat. Fiat has also demanded concessions by stakeholders in both countries.
If the plans don't get government approval, Chrysler will likely slip into bankruptcy in one or both countries.
That would allow Chrysler to reorganize its operations under protection from creditors and emerge as a stronger company. But some parts of the company would likely be sold.
Bankruptcy could also further erode consumer confidence at a time when industry sales are at 30-year lows in the U.S. and sliding here.
In Canada, the federal government pressured the CAW to break a decades-old practice of pattern bargaining where the union traditionally negotiated a contract with one of the big three North American-based auto makers and forced the other two companies to accept it or face a strike.
That would allow the union to negotiate the same improvements for workers at all three companies and not give one of them a competitive edge.
The union initially resisted breaking the pattern deal at GM which will reduce labour costs by about $7.25 an hour by 2012 if the company gets government aid. GM is seeking between $6 billion and $7 billion here.
But Chrysler said it needed cuts in labour costs totalling $19 an hour to compete with Toyota and Honda in Canada.
In the U.S, parent Chrysler LLC and Treasury Department officials are still driving for deals to keep the automaker out of court.
The Treasury Department is also working on a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for Chrysler LLC that could come as early as next week.
The department has an agreement in principle with the United Auto Workers union, whose members' pensions and retiree health-care benefits would be protected as a condition of a bankruptcy filing., according to some reports.
Fiat could also complete its merger with Chrysler while the company is under bankruptcy protection in both countries. A merger is a condition for government aid in both countries.
The federal and Ontario governments had set a "deadline" for reaching a tentative deal on concessions at midnight on Wednesday but talks dragged on the health care trust issue.
Chrysler had sought cuts in health-care benefits, shift premiums, life insurance and child care that would trim labour costs by more than $8 an hour. In earlier negotiations, the union has rejected most of those proposals.
If there is a bankruptcy, a question remains about what happens to Chrysler's lenders, who hold $6.9 billion (U.S.) in company debt.
The U.S. Treasury is also working with GM to prepare a possible bankruptcy case. Some industry watchers have questioned whether the Treasury's actions to prepare a bankruptcy case is an attempt to put more pressure on lenders.
While Chrysler faces an April 30 deadline from the U.S. and Canadian governments, GM doesn't need to submit a plan until June 1.
Under the most probable scenario, the U.S. Treasury will provide the financing Chrysler needs to operate while under bankruptcy protection.
Ottawa will also likely provide aid if the company operates under court protection here.
Earlier Friday, Premier Dalton McGuinty sounded a bittersweet note about the worker concessions by expressing concern that they could spread to union members in other sectors.
"We've always proceeded under the assumption that you would do better than your dad and your kids would do better than you - each succeeding generation would enjoy a higher standing of living and a better quality of life," said McGuinty.
"That's been the great Canadian dream ... and there's been a reset right now. I have not given up on that dream and I don't think Ontarians should either.
"I think what it means is these wages will be reset and that will serve as a new foundation, a new base, and then working together we can make sure that we drive up our productivity, drive up the value added dimension of the work that we do so that we can resume the progress that we continue to make."
McGuinty noted he has also written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to request a national summit on pension reform in the wake of some of the concerns about the serious shortfalls of pension plans at GM and Chrysler.
With files from Robert Benzie

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Court: Harper must press U.S. for Khadr return to Canada

Harper is steadfast in his craven devotion to Bush type stances on terrorism which simply ignore human rights when it comes to terror suspects. Even though Bush is gone and Obama is to close Guantanamo and has stayed trials there, Harper soldiers on making Canada look quite foolish to most but it makes no difference. On such issues Harper is blind to world opinion it would seem and also to the opinion of the many lawyers who have written him for some time about his obligations.

PM must press U.S. for Khadr's return from Guantanamo, court rules
Harper says government is considering appeal
Last Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2009 5:54 PM ET
CBC News
A Federal Court judge ruled Thursday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper must immediately demand Khadr's repatriation. (Janet Hamlin/Pool/Associated Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is required to press the United States for the return of Omar Khadr to Canada from Guantanamo Bay to "comply with a principle of fundamental justice," a Federal Court judge ruled Thursday.
Unmoved, Harper said the government may try to overturn the judge's decision on Khadr, who is accused of killing a U.S. army soldier with a hand grenade during a gunfight in Afghanistan in 2002.
"The facts, in our judgment, have not changed," he told MPs during question period. "We will be looking at the decision very carefully and, obviously, considering an appeal."
Justice James O'Reilly ruled in favour of Khadr's charter challenge of the Canadian government's decision not to request his repatriation from the U.S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"The ongoing refusal of Canada to request Mr. Khadr's repatriation to Canada offends a principle of fundamental justice and violates Mr. Khadr's rights," O'Reilly said in his 43-page decision.
"To mitigate the effect of that violation, Canada must present a request to the United States for Mr. Khadr's repatriation as soon as practicable."
Mother worries government won't follow through
Omar Khadr's mother, Maha Elsamnah, said she is pleased by the court's ruling but wonders whether the Canadian government will simply refuse to heed it.
"You want to put your hope somewhere, and if it's the law, it's the most beautiful thing," she said in Toronto. "But if the ruler or the leader of the nation is controlling everything, you don't know who to trust anymore, the law or the government and the politics."
The CBC’s Rosemary Barton, reporting from Ottawa, said the government has long maintained that because of the seriousness of the charges, the Toronto-born Khadr should face military proceedings in the United States.
In Thursday's decision, the judge pointed out that Khadr is the last citizen of any Western country held at Guantanamo. Other countries have repatriated their citizens.
Khadr's lawyers argued the Canadian government was complicit in the detainee's alleged torture and mistreatment while in U.S. custody and obliged under international law to demand his return.
Khadr, now 22, was 15 at the time he was detained in Afghanistan.
Harper has steadfastly refused to get involved.
All Guantanamo prosecutions on hold
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe have sent a letter to Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama calling for Khadr's repatriation and for any evidence against him to be released to Canadian authorities.
The U.S. and Canadian governments are signatories to a United Nations protocol that states fighters under age 18 are to be considered child soldiers and must be released and helped to reintegrate into society.
'Appealing this decision only delays the inevitable. It serves no purpose.'— U.S. military defence lawyer William Kuebler
Like all Guantanamo prosecutions, Khadr's case is currently on hold pending a review by Obama's administration.
One of Khadr's Canadian lawyer, Nathan Whitling, said he can't feel too optimistic about Thursday's court decision. He said Khadr has won court cases in the U.S. and Canada before, but to no avail.
"I might be forgiven for not being overly optimistic in terms of what relief might result from this decision today," Whitling said.
"There's no doubt this is a step in the right direction … but we've been through this too many times before to start getting giddy every time we get a good court decision."
The reality is that the U.S. government, not a Canadian court, has the final say over Khadr's fate, Whitling said, so Khadr's legal team will be bringing the court ruling to the attention of the Obama administration.
He says he hopes Harper won't go through with an appeal, although he isn't surprised that Harper has already talked of taking such action.
Khadr's U.S. military defence lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, suggested it would be pointless for Harper to appeal.
"Omar Khadr is coming back to Canada eventually," he told CBC News. "Appealing this decision only delays the inevitable. It serves no purpose.
"After seven years, or almost seven years, I just can’t imagine that the Canadian government would do anything other than ultimately look at this decision and say, 'Okay, the time has come; let’s do the right thing and bring this young man home.' "
There would be no resistance from Washington, Kuebler predicted.
"It’s a tremendous embarrassment, what we’ve done to this young man in terms of detention and interrogation, in terms of fabricating evidence and false allegations against him, and I can’t imagine that the Obama administration would do anything other than jump at the chance to send this young man home if the Canadian government followed this decision and asked for his return."With files from The Canadian Press

RCMP spokesman told to hold off correcting false details of Dziekanski incident.

The agreed policy was said to be this:
The two had agreed at the outset the best strategy was to get timely and accurate information out to the media without compromising the investigation, the inquiry heard.

But the actual policy was to hold off getting out timely and accurate information and to present false information but no doubt without compromising the investigation which was doing its best to avoid the graphic details of the video which contradicts the official story.
It is hard to overemphasize the degree to which this inquiry brings discredit upon the RCMP. Even retired RCMP officers have come forward (on CBC) and criticised the inquiry having felt ashamed themselves as what is happening. Don't expect much if anything to change however or for anyone to be held accountable.

ting false details of Dziekanski incident, inquiry hears
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 5:15 PM PT
CBC News
RCMP Cpl. Dale Carr said a decision was made not to acknowledge the existence of the witness video shot by bystander Paul Pritchard. (CBC)
The head of the Lower Mainland's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team decided not to correct misinformation police had given to the media in 2007 about the use of a Taser against Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport, a public inquiry heard Wednesday.
Cpl. Dale Carr, the unit's spokesman, testified Wednesday at the Braidwood inquiry that it was clear within two days of Dziekanski's death on Oct. 14, 2007, that some of the information being provided to the media was inaccurate.
In the first two days after Dziekanski died, the RCMP's public statements on the incident contained false information about how many officers were involved, how many times Dziekanski was stunned and what state Dziekanski was in (initial reports described him as violent with police when, in fact, he had been calm).
Police originally said they only discharged their Taser twice whereas it was subsequently revealed they had fired it five times. The RCMP also repeatedly said three Mounties were involved in the incident while a video taken by a civilian on the scene that emerged afterward showed four men in RCMP uniforms.
'My direction was to hold on: "We will not talk about evidence. Everything will be corrected eventually".'— RCMP Cpl. Dale Carr
The RCMP also said they didn't use pepper spray on Dziekanski because of the large number of people at the airport at the time. But the video shows Dziekanski standing alone with the four officers in an otherwise empty area, which is separated from the airport's public area by a thick glass wall.
Carr testified Wednesday he went to Supt. Wayne Rideout, the head of the homicide investigation team, seeking to correct the record.
"My direction was to hold on: 'We will not talk about evidence. Everything will be corrected eventually. It's just not going to be right now'," Carr testified.
Carr testified the source of some of the first inaccurate police accounts about Dziekanski came from Carr's notes, which describe the Polish immigrant as agitated and combative.
He said the notes were based on information he was given at a briefing at the RCMP detachment in Richmond a few hours after Dziekanski died.RCMP Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre testified Tueday at the Braidwood inquiry that he only passed on to reporters what investigators had told him. (CBC)
The briefing was attended by senior RCMP spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre, investigators and Cpl. Monty Robinson, the officer in charge of the four Mounties who confronted Dziekanski at the airport.
The witness video, shot by Paul Pritchard, who was returning to Victoria from China that night, was played on a laptop computer during the briefing, the inquiry heard.
"I have made notes that he [Dziekanski] was seen throwing stuff around, that he was in an agitated state. He grabbed a computer. YVR [Vancouver Airport] security attempted to intervene," Carr testified.
"I have a note here that says RCMP arrived. I've got in brackets, four members … swinging an article at members, members attempt to control verbally. He was non-compliant. CEW [Conducted Energy Weapon] used and once on ground, continued to fight," Carr read his notes to court.
Carr's information was passed on to Lemaitre, who made the first police statements about the Dziekanski incident to reporters, the inquiry heard.
Dziekanski died on the airport's floor shortly after being shocked five times by a police Taser. Robinson and three other RCMP officers — Const. Gerry Rundel, Const. Bill Bentley and Const. Kwesi Millington — had been deployed to the international arrivals lounge in response to reports that Dziekanski was throwing furniture and causing a scene.The Mounties were called to Vancouver airport after Dziekanski's behaviour turned unruly in the early hours of Oct. 14, 2007. They stunned him within seconds of arriving, and he died shortly after. (Paul Pritchard)
Carr also testified a decision was made not to acknowledge the existence of the witness video.
"Very commonly, we never talk about all our evidence that we have gathered. We just don't do that. And unless it was asked of us directly we are not going to talk about that type of thing," Carr told the inquiry.
Pritchard had to go court to get his video back from the RCMP, which was later broadcast in the media, shedding light on the last moments of Dziekanski's life and sparking an international outcry at the inaccuracies in the police accounts of the incident.
In his testimony Tuesday, Lemaitre said the information he told the media came from Carr, adding that his personal reputation suffered because he was the public face of the first police accounts of the incident.
Carr testified Wednesday that he was at Lemaitre's side for media scrums at the airport but paid little attention to what the senior spokesman was saying.
Carr suggested Lemaitre might have embellished some facts, including the number of times Dziekanski was stunned.
"I gave Sgt. Lemaitre the information that's here in my notebook," Carr said. "Additional information, additional editorial comments that Sgt. Lemaitre made, I can't be confident that I gave him that information."
Lemaitre was taken off the case after 48 hours, mainly for logistical reasons, Carr said.
The two had agreed at the outset the best strategy was to get timely and accurate information out to the media without compromising the investigation, the inquiry heard.
The provincially mandated inquiry was called in the wake of Dziekanski's death and is being overseen by Thomas Braidwood, a retired B.C. Court of Appeal justice. Braidwood will make recommendations to prevent similar deaths, and he could make findings of misconduct against the officers or anyone else involved.With files from The Canadian Press

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Businessman contradicts Mulroney testimony

This is from the Star.

It is hard to see what if anything Mulroney actually did for Bear Head industries! It is also rather strange that a senior executive had no idea Mulroney was lobbying for the firm. Mulroney and Schreiber seem to be natural collaborators and two of a kind but Mulroney ends up retired and well off while Schreiber tries his best to keep out of jail.

Businessman contradicts Mulroney testimony - Canada - Businessman contradicts Mulroney testimony
April 21, 2009 Richard J. BrennanOTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA — A former senior executive of Bear Head Industries says he had no idea former prime minister Brian Mulroney was working for the company promoting its proposal to build light-armoured vehicles in Canada in the early 1990s.
Greg Alford, then vice-president of Bear Head's corporate affairs, was testifying today before a public hearing probing Mulroney's business dealing with German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber and the $300,000 in cash Mulroney received for unsuccessfully lobbying for Bear Head.
"No," said Alford when asked whether he knew whether the former Progressive Conservative PM was working in any capacity for Bear Head beginning the summer of 1993.
The inquiry, headed by Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, has heard from Schreiber that he first approached Mulroney on June 23, 1993 when he was still prime minister to work for Bear Head Industries and the following August paid Mulroney, when he had left office,the first of three instalments of $100,000 in cash.
Mulroney insists he was only given $225,000 in three very private meetings with Schreiber where Mulroney was given envelopes stuffed with cash.
Alford also contradicted earlier evidence by Mulroney before a parliamentary committee that his job was to lobby internationally for Bear Head, not domestically.
Alford said Bear Head's German-based parent Thyssen AG handled international marketing for the German-designed armoured vehicles.
Meanwhile, the inquiry heard the Bear Head proposal was still very much alive in September 1994, despite the federal government's on again off again interest in the project, and contrary to earlier evidencethe projectwas dead in the water in 1991.
"This meeting actually was quite positive," Alford said with respect to a meeting he had with government departments.
Bear Head tried a couple of approaches, first to build a plant in Nova Scotia to make the military vehicles for the Canadian armed forces,but when that fell through it proposed building a plant in east end Montreal to build a new light-armoured vehicle for export.
In the end, Thyssen pulled the plug on the project after the federal government chose instead to give the sole-source contract to General Motor's diesel division in Ontario, to build light-armoured vehicles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Homeland Security Boss rebuked by Canada for erroneous 9/11 statement

This is from canwest.

One expects a Homeland Security Secretary to be better briefed than this. Of course Homeland Security still considers Maher Arar a member of Al Qaeda and refuses to have his name taken off the no-fly list. Harper and Stockwell Day saw the secret evidence against Arar and it didn't impress them or change their opinion about Arar. The Arar case shows that there are many incompetents loose in US intelligence and they seem never to be held to account. Any attempt to take the govt. to court is blocked by invoking NATIONAL SECURITY.

Homeland Security boss rebuked by Canada for erroneous 9/11 statement

By Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News ServiceApril 21, 2009 4:02 PM

Janet Napolitano, the new U.S. Homeland Security secretary, sparked complaints from parliamentarians and government officials in Ottawa for remarks she made earlier this week in a Canadian television interview, in which she said terrorists entering America have come mostly from Canada.
Photograph by: Mark Wilson, Getty ImagesWASHINGTON — Canada's ambassador to the United States on Tuesday publicly rebuked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for suggesting that the 9/11 terrorists entered the U.S. from Canada, and has asked for a private meeting with her to set the record straight.

"Unfortunately, misconceptions arise on something as fundamental as where the 9/11 terrorists came from," Michael Wilson said at a Washington conference on cross-border trade.

"They flew in (from) major U.S. airports. They entered the U.S. with documents issued by the United States government and no 9/11 terrorists came from Canada."

Napolitano sparked a round of diplomatic and political complaints from parliamentarians and government officials in Ottawa for remarks she made earlier this week in a Canadian television interview.

Addressing a question on the different security challenges facing the U.S. on its borders with Canada and Mexico, Napolitano said terrorists entering America have come mostly from Canada.

"To the extent that terrorists have come into our country, or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border," Napolitano said.

Asked if she was referring to the 9/11 attackers, Napolitano replied: "Not just those, but others as well."

Wilson struck a diplomatic tone and did not mention Napolitano by name in prepared remarks to the Border Trade Alliance conference in Washington. But Canadian officials alerted media that he would be making the statement in response to the Homeland Security secretary.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Napolitano said: "I know that the Sept. 11th hijackers did not come through Canada to the United States."

But she added that several terrorists have attempted to cross into the U.S. from Canada, specifically citing Ahmed Ressam, the 'Millennium Bomber' who was caught in 1999 when he entered the U.S. at Port Angeles, Wash.

Ressam was convicted on a plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport.

Napolitano's predecessor at Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, said in 2008 that "more than a dozen" suspected extremists had been caught trying to enter the U.S. from Canada.

"There are other instances . . . when suspected terrorists have attempted to enter our country from Canada to the United States," Napolitano said. "Some of these are well-known to the public — such as the Millennium Bomber — while others are not due to security reasons."

Wilson said Napolitano's office had separately told the Canadian Embassy that the Homeland Security secretary misunderstood the question from the Canadian interviewer.

Still, her remarks betrayed the persistence of a myth that has haunted the Canadian government ever since the 2001 attacks. Several prominent U.S. lawmakers, including former Senator Hillary Clinton, have in the past said the 9/11 attackers crossed into the U.S. from Canada.

The 9/11 Commission report on the attacks found no evidence to support the claim, but Wilson said he is regularly required to correct U.S. officials who still believe it happened.

"It is a problem. I think the first time I heard it expressed was about two months after I arrived here," said Wilson, who was named ambassador in 2006.

"It comes frequently from members of Congress. These are people who should know the difference, forget sometimes. It's frustrating to us because we have to address it every time that matter comes up."

In Ottawa, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said Napolitano was ill-informed.

"I was a bit surprised and somewhat disappointed that the secretary isn't better informed," Elliott told reporters on Parliament Hill.

"I shouldn't overreact to what I see in the media, but there was a suggestion in the media that the secretary of Homeland Security in the United States made some reference linking terrorist threats in Canada to the 9/11 attacks," Elliott said. "There is certainly no link to be made there."

Canadian parliamentarians attending Tuesday's border trade conference said they are prepared to give Napolitano the benefit of the doubt, but expressed fears that U.S. border policy continues to be influenced by myth more than facts.

"This seems to underlie many of the conversations and the tension between trade and security," said John McKay, Liberal MP for Scarborough-Guildwood. "It is a myth. It is nothing more than a myth. But it is one that continually comes out of American media and possibly even believed by some members of Congress."

With file from Janice Tibbetts

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Janet Napolitano, the new U.S. Homeland Security secretary, sparked complaints from parliamentarians and government officials in Ottawa for remarks she made earlier this week in a Canadian television interview, in which she said terrorists entering America have come mostly from Canada.
Photograph by: Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Some lost Canadians found while others remain lost!

Even though the amendment remedied the situation for many lost Canadians it seems that a more thorough review of the law is in order that would deal with the other types of cases mentioned in the article. Seems that the minister in charge is interview shy!

CBC News In a peppy YouTube video posted by the federal Citizenship and Immigration Ministry, a man awakes on April 17, 2009, to a once-austere bedroom now adorned in Canadian paraphernalia.Titled Waking up Canadian, it’s aimed at so-called "Lost Canadians" — people who, as of Friday, are finally citizens of the country they always thought they belonged to.The good news comes thanks to an amendment to the Citizenship Act that goes into effect for war brides and other disenfranchised residents who were stripped of their citizenship or were told they weren't eligible.For Dean Echenberg, who spent years fighting for the Canadian citizenship he lost when his father moved to the U.S. and became an American citizen, that video depiction is reality.When Echenberg's father died, the family moved back to Canada. Echenberg only found out about his rescinded nationality when he applied for a Canadian passport while studying at a U.S. medical school. "I was informed that I had been stripped of my Canadian citizenship. I was floored."His nationality was stripped under an old law that didn't allow dual citizenship. That was revised in 1977, but it wasn't retroactive."I'm a Canadian," Echenberg told CBC News. "Always was, and now the government recognizes it."'Fall between the cracks'But even though provisions in the legislation, what was known as Bill C-37, are a cause of celebration for some, others won't benefit, and experts say the amendment may create another generation of lost Canadians."There's a whole new group of people who are going to fall between the cracks as a result of these measures, in addition to some of the people who fell into the former category of lost Canadians," said Sharryn Aiken, a law professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.Aiken said the law prevents citizenship from being passed beyond first-generation Canadians in some cases. For example, a person born abroad to — or adopted from a foreign country by — Canadian parents can't pass their citizenship on to their children if their child is born outside Canada.It's a change that has Laura Cameron of Kingston worrying about the future of her 10-year-old son, Arden. He was born in Cambridge, Britain, while Cameron was studying at the city's university."What if [he] falls in love abroad?" she asked. "Do they move to the Paris airport and become members of the stateless class who live in airports? Good Lord, it's just ludicrous."The changes for second-generation Canadians are "regressive, draconian and completely out of step with the times," Cameron said.Exceptions are made for children of parents working abroad with the Canadian Armed Forces, as federal public servants or in the service of a province.But with an estimated 2.7 million Canadians living abroad, Aiken said, the Canadian government needs to rethink its definition of citizenship in a world where people increasingly identify with multiple backgrounds."I think it's retrograde to suggest individuals can only have one loyalty and one country," Aiken said.Government estimates questionedWhen the Citizenship Act amendments were announced in late 2007, then Citizenship and Immigration minister Diane Finley said they would resolve more than 95 per cent of the cases of Lost Canadians. The government said it was aware of about 450 Lost Canadians, but a CBC investigation found that as many as 200,000 people could be affected.In the end, the amendments have failed to help several categories of Lost Canadians, including a group of Mennonites were apparently issued citizenship cards in error and some so-called war babies.Jacqueline Scott was born in England in 1945 to a Canadian serviceman and a British mother, who later married and lived in Canada. Under the new legislation, war babies born out of wedlock only have a right to citizenship if they were born after 1947 — the year Canada first adopted its own citizenship law."My father fought for Canada. Why should they deny his daughter what really should be hers?" Scott said.The Immigration Ministry sent her a letter dated Feb. 23, 2009, stating that the law when Scott was born didn't permit her to get British subject status through her father because she was born out of wedlock (at the time, persons born in Canada were British subjects). So when Canadian citizenship was created two years later, her father obtained it but she was ineligible."They consider me to be, in this day and age, a bastard. It's a horrible expression, but that’s how they still deem me. And I've been denied based on that," Scott said.Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney did not respond to CBC requests for an interview.The problem of Lost Canadians was highlighted in a series of reports by CBC News in 2007 about how thousands of people were at risk of losing their citizenship due to outdated provisions in existing and former citizenship laws.The issue gained importance after the United States started tightening border security in 2002, triggering a rise in Canadians applying for passports.In 2006, Joe Taylor, the son of a Canadian serviceman and war bride who had been stripped of his nationality, fought and won for his right to citizenship. Though that ruling was overturned, the government later offered him citizenship.Aiken said she expects the government could face more such court challenges as the changes to the Citizenship Act become more public

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ignatieff defines policies-and himself.

This is from the Star. This is a very positive article on Ignatieff. Among the policies mentioned I see nothing about the environment. I guess Dion taught the Liberals to be content with criticising the Conservatives. As the article mentions key policy areas are outlined but there is little on detail except that they will retain a popular Conservative taxable benefit for pre-schoolers.

In small gatherings across Ontario, Liberal leader defines policies – and himself
April 18, 2009 Tonda MacCharlesOTTAWA BUREAU
It's 7 a.m. Wednesday and hundreds of cars exit the clogged QEW to head into a chamber of commerce breakfast featuring Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
More than 750 men and women in business suits have paid up to $35 for buffet bacon and eggs, and to listen to the man Conservatives portray as an elitist academic, out of touch with the country he left for 30 years.
There is a caffeine-fuelled buzz in the air – and there's no election on.
Ignatieff slips into the ballroom, with his wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar. She arrived back in Canada the night before from Hungary. The tour team urged her to join the last day of a four-day swing through southwestern Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe.
Ignatieff is fighting a chest infection, on "heavy-duty antibiotics," and is clearly tired.
But his wife has perked him up. So has the better-than-expected turnout of business leaders from the Oakville-Burlington area. Zsohar whispers in Ignatieff's ear the best line of his speech.
"This is what recovery looks like."
Ignatieff uses it to outline his ideas and his faith in the people in the room to lead the way to economic recovery. They eat it up.
He may as well have been talking about political recovery.
In Oakville, the bursts of applause don't come on the policy lines. Rather, it is Ignatieff's emotional pitch for hope and unity that appears to strike a chord. People seem hungry to hear the words.
"Getting there is going to require unity," says Ignatieff before launching a sharp critique of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, without ever uttering his name. "The prime minister of Canada has only one job, one job, and that is to unite the people of this country. ... This is the core function of a prime minister: to unite and not divide."
They clap, and clap again. Are they all Liberals? Or are they just sick of the current political discourse? Impossible to know.
However, three consecutive national polls show public opinion is warming to the Liberals under Ignatieff, especially in Ontario.
A convention at the end of the month in Vancouver will seal his leadership and some basic platform commitments. This week, Ignatieff signalled some key planks.
He says a Liberal economic renewal strategy would include employment insurance reform; a national early learning and child-care program that would retain the Conservatives' taxable $100-a-month benefit for preschoolers; a national affordable housing strategy; improved access to post-secondary education; more federal money for basic science and research; basic literacy, numeracy and language training; and pension reform.
These ideas are tailored to appeal to what he called "the industrial heartland" of Ontario where traditional manufacturing has been hard hit but where the "knowledge economy" represents hope for the future. They are policies that will be shaped to reach a national audience. But the road to any Liberal return to power lies in regaining seats lost in Ontario, as well as Quebec.
Ignatieff says the party is "urgently" crafting the strategies and estimating costs.
"That sounds a lot like a pre-election speech," Vin Tsui, an Oakville lawyer, says afterward. He doubts there's much appetite for an election but says he was pleasantly surprised Ignatieff appeared to have a plan – albeit one short on details.
"Given where the economy's going now, what he's saying is interesting to us, and sort of gives us hope that there is a solution and some light at the end of the tunnel."
Part of the Liberal leader's tour is to solicit advice. Jeff Kehoe, Ignatieff's Ontario campaign chair who's also in charge of candidate recruitment, is along, busily taking notes and policy suggestions from the private meetings. Part of it is also to work the bugs out.
In Cambridge, Ignatieff blundered into political no-man's-land, answering a hypothetical question from an audience member about how he'd tackle a deficit if all other revenue-raising efforts failed after a recovery took hold. He suggested he wouldn't rule out tax hikes, but only as a last resort.
Still, Ignatieff's Oakville Chamber of Commerce talk, like those he gives to audiences in Hamilton, Chatham, Brantford, Cambridge, Waterloo, London and Niagara Falls, had another goal in mind.
It was to frame, define or "brand" Ignatieff as a passionate Canadian. He remains an unknown to many voters, even though he was the front-runner in the 2006 Liberal leadership race that saw Stéphane Dion come from behind to win.
Since the winter prorogation and coalition crisis that led to Dion's downfall and Ignatieff's rise, people have begun to pay attention.
So in speeches all week, Ignatieff repeatedly returns to a theme that is central to a book he launches next week as well – one that frames his ancestors as "nation-builders."
It's not just personal family history. It's a rebuttal of Conservative suggestions he's somehow not truly a Canadian because he spent most of his adult life outside Canada.
Ignatieff invokes his maternal great-grandfather, George Monro Grant, who with Sanford Fleming travelled from Halifax to Vancouver in 1872 to survey the transcontinental rail route.
Ignatieff calls for the kind of "grit and determination and unrelenting vision" they had to get through the current economic crisis.
He proclaims his passion for Quebec by invoking his Canadian parents, and his Russian grandparents who "are buried in the soil of Quebec" next to a French-Canadian farmer next to an Irish farmer, and advocates changing the question from "What does Quebec want?" to "What can we do together?"
In London, a university lecture hall is crammed with a few hundred people. About half are students. Final exams are on. The rest are area residents, professionals, seniors. Ignatieff, at home in a classroom, fields questions for an hour. Here, as elsewhere, when he hits the emotional notes, the room goes quiet. People listen intently.
Ignatieff claims he's in no rush for an election, saying he's got to work on the Liberal party's "machinery of battle" – fundraising, and candidate recruitment, while he tries to hold the government to account.
But he makes clear where it's all headed – sooner or later. "I will make Parliament work as long as I can and if we can't make it work, then we have to go back to the people. That's how the system works."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chrysler will quite Canada if CAW doesn't concede: Execs.

This is from Canwest.

Nothing like bargaining with threats. The auto workers have given up everything that they fought for over the years and it remains to be seen if even those on pensions will be safe. Probably not. Nothing like a crisis to wring concessions from the working class.

Chrysler will quit Canada if CAW doesn't concede: execs

By Nicolas Van Praet, Canwest News ServiceApril 18, 2009

Chrysler LLC's two top executives sent their Canadian employees a letter on Friday, warning that if its 8,000 factory workers do not agree to pay cuts, the automaker will no longer build cars in Canada.
``The clock is running. Without labour concessions, Chrysler Canada's manufacturing operations will not survive long-term,'' chief executive Bob Nardelli and president Tom LaSorda said in the letter. ``Thousands of good- paying jobs are in jeopardy, as well as the economic health of communities such as Windsor and Brampton (Ont.).''
Chrysler insiders describe the letter as nearly unprecedented in that it was sent only to Canadian employees, and that it was also distributed in the company's factories and parts depots. Typically, e-mails from senior executives only go only to employees with work stations and e-mail addresses.
In a reponse later in the day, Canadian Auto Workers union president Ken Lewenza lumped the letter together with what he called ``an unprecedented and outrageous series of attacks on Canadian autoworkers and their union.''
He acknowledged others such as Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, federal Industry Minister Tony Clement and Chrysler Canada CEO Reid Bigland as leading the attack on workers earlier in the week.
Lewenza defended Canadian labour's role in the auto industry by saying hourly costs in this country are ``significantly lower'' than in the U.S., and that Canada has been an ``incredibly successful and profitable place for Chrysler'' in past years.
The executives told employees that the Canadian government has set four conditions for continuing to support Chrysler with further funding, all of which have to be reached by an April 30 deadline. The company must lower all-in labour costs by $19 an hour, to the same level as that of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada. It also has to complete an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat SpA, commit to maintaining production and capital investment in Canada based on the country's share of Chrysler's overall North American output, and submit revised restructuring blueprints to the Canadian and U.S. governments outlining Chrysler's Canadian footprint and future manufacturing plans.
``Time is very short. We have only two weeks before a final decision must be made,'' the letter said. ``Let me be clear, our negotiations are about saving Chrysler Canada. We are coming down to the wire in the fight for our company's survival - and we need your support.''
The Canadian and Ontario governments have pledged $1 billion to Chrysler to help it stabilize its Canadian operations, which include a minivan assembly factory in Windsor and car plant in Brampton, just northwest of Toronto. Chrysler has drawn down $750 million of that, the company said. Ottawa and Queen's Park have pledged more support, proportional to the $6 billion US Washington has also pledged, if Chrysler meets the new targets set.
``While we have made some progress with the CAW, it falls significantly short of closing the $19 gap,'' the Chrysler executives said in the letter. ``And yet, as recent as Wednesday this week, the CAW continues to ignore this clear mandate from the government stating that they will not go any further. This unwillingness to work within the government's guidelines jeopardizes the future of Chrysler and our operations in Canada.''
The letter outlined several proposals the automaker has made to the CAW as a way to shave labour costs without affecting base wages and pensions, including: eliminating the cap on prescription drug dispensing fees; nixing out-of- province health care coverage for snowbirds; and eliminating life insurance for current and future employees.
The CAW has opposed these solutions but Chrysler is open to alternative ideas, the executives said. Bargaining between the CAW and the company is expected to resume Monday after breaking off late last month.
General Motors Corp. faces a May 31 deadline to cut debt and strike its own new labour deal with unions in Canada and the United States. Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement said Thursday he will not use taxpayer money to support the companies further without concessions from labour.
Asked if he is willing to let the companies fail if labour does not agree to the cuts demanded, he said: ``We have to examine every possibility.''
Canwest News Service
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Climate panel presses for cap and trade system

It seems that neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives actually took much action on cap and trade but now that Obama is moving in that direction perhaps Harper will follow suit. However, Harper seems to prefer a policy of hot air as far as the environment is concerned not that the federal Liberals were that much different. The Liberals talked more progressively but did very little.

Climate panel presses for cap-and-trade system
Ottawa urged to target entire economy, not just heavy industry, and do away with patchwork approach to emissions adopted by provinces

Globe and Mail Update
April 16, 2009 at 1:00 PM EDT
OTTAWA — An effective Canadian climate change plan must target the entire economy and not just heavy industry, according to a federal advisory report released today that recommends a national cap-and-trade system.
The report from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy also says Ottawa should step in to do away with the patchwork of climate-change rules popping up in various provinces so that business can work with a single, more efficient, national system.
That recommendation comes in the midst of a provincial election campaign in British Columbia, where the future of the province's carbon tax is a central issue.
According to a summary of the report, the panel concludes that while a carbon tax gives business more certainly, a cap-and-trade system is the best way to ensure Canada actually meets the emission targets it has set for 2020 and 2050.

The basic premise behind both a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system are essentially the same. Both aim to make high-polluting activities — such as driving large SUVs or relying on coal — more expensive.
The difference is that a carbon tax imposes that higher price directly on the consumer as a distinct tax on their gas or heating bill, whereas the cost to the consumer of a cap-and-trade system is usually passed on by businesses.
In the cap-and-trade system proposed by the panel, all businesses would have to buy credits to cover the emissions they produce. If a company's emissions exceed the cap set by government, they would have to buy more credits from companies that came in under the cap. Such a system creates financial incentives for companies to reduce their emissions because they can then avoid having to buy more credits and also be in a position to make money selling their unused emission credits.
To date, Canada's approach — both under the Liberals and the Conservatives — has been to work toward a cap-and-trade system for “heavy final emitters,” which consist primarily of factories and electricity generation. However neither government ever moved the idea beyond the negotiation stage.
The panel proposes a system in which fuel distributors must buy credits to account for the end use of emissions, either through heating costs of homes and buildings or tailpipe emissions.
“Under the proposed policy the Canadian economy, as a whole, would continue to grow under the proposed carbon pricing policy but at a somewhat reduced rate,” the panel says in news release. “Some sectors, regions and Canadians would be impacted more significantly than others but this can be addressed through the design of the proposed policy and auction revenue recycling measures targeted at households and businesses.”
The report also recommends Canadian firms be allowed to purchase credits from other countries with cap-and-trade systems. This option has been strongly opposed by the Conservatives, who have said such purchases do little to reduce emissions at home.
The report forecasts that as a result of implementing such a plan, economic growth would be reduced by between one and two per cent in 2020 and four to six per cent in 2050.
The Conservative government announced a plan called Turning the Corner in 2006 that called for Canada's emissions to decrease 20 per cent by 2020. The new U.S. administration has promised an economy-wide cap-and-trade system in place by 2012. Canada's Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, has said Ottawa's approach is currently under review as the government attempts to align its climate change plan with the United States.
2009 is an important year for setting climate change policy as world leaders are scheduled for a key meeting this December in Copenhagen. There the international community will decide whether to launch a new international climate change regime to extend the Kyoto Protocol, which only applied to emissions from 2008 to 2012.
The Liberal government pledged Canada would reduce Canada's annual emissions to 558.4 megatonnes of greenhouse gases, or six per cent below 1990 levels, during that period.
According to Environment Canada, Canada is on pace to be 29.1 per cent above that target. Canada's emissions have decreased 2.8 per cent between 2003 and 2006, primarily because the electricity mix is shifting away from coal and towards hydro and nuclear power. Warmer winters during those three years also led to reduced demand for heating fuels.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Expert tells Taser inquiry Mountie's reaction to Dziekanski reasonable

Reasonable given the assumptions of the officers, assumptions which themselves are unreasonable given the evidence of the video tape of the incident which contradicts their testimony in some respects. Note this expert is himself a police seargent. Being a police officer himself this casts some doubt upon whether he can be completely unbiased. This whole report makes the RCMP look bad and the inquiry looks to be a whitewash. Our reputation has been tarnished internationally especially with the Polish govt. and people. Attempts were made to cast Dziekanski as a troublesome alcoholic by fishing for testimony in Poland that would make him look bad. It is just the investigators who look bad.

Expert tells Taser inquiry Mounties' reaction to Dziekanski reasonable
Last Updated: Thursday, April 16, 2009
The Canadian Press
RCMP were called to Vancouver's airport after Robert Dziekanski started throwing furniture in the early hours of Oct. 14, 2007. They stunned him within seconds of arriving, and he died shortly after. (Paul Pritchard)
Four RCMP officers used reasonable force when they confronted Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport and stunned him several times with a Taser, a police expert said Thursday at a public inquiry into the man's death.
Because the officers believed the Polish immigrant was about to attack them or someone else with a stapler, they had reasonable grounds to use the electrical stun gun, Vancouver police Sgt. Brad Fawcett testified.
Fawcett, who provided a report to homicide investigators on the use of force against Dziekanski, said he probably would not have reacted the same way in the same situation.
Fawcett said his evaluation hinged on what the officers perceived at the time, regardless of whether those perceptions were actually correct.
"What matters in terms of the use-of-force analysis is: What was the officer's perception of the resistance?" Fawcett testified.
'In any group of officers, you'd have a range of responses — would I have done the same thing? Probably not.'— Sgt. Brad Fawcett, inquiry witness
His report elaborated on that point: "The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable peace officer on the scene, rather than with 20/20 vision of hindsight."
Police were called after Dziekanski started throwing furniture in the early hours of Oct. 14, 2007. They stunned him within seconds of arriving, and he died shortly after.
The Taser was deployed five times, although RCMP said it's unclear how many times the device made contact with Dziekanski.
Fawcett had viewed a witness video of the fatal confrontation, but much of his report reflects statements the officers gave to investigators.Const. Gerry Rundel (top left), Const. Bill Bentley (top right), Const. Kwesi Millington (bottom left) and Cpl. Monty Robinson have not been charged in the death of Robert Dziekanski. (CBC)
The inquiry has heard that those statements conflict with the video, but Fawcett found the officers' statements were supported by the video.
For example, his report appears to accept the officers' claims that Dziekanski remained standing immediately following the first Taser jolt, with his hands clenched around the stapler. The video shows Dziekanski flail about for a few seconds before collapsing on the ground.
When one of Dziekanski's arm lifts above his head, the stapler visibly flying away, Fawcett's report describes the action as "consistent with striking or throwing."
Inaccuracies brushed aside
The report brushes aside other inaccuracies — for example, that Dziekanski had to be wrestled to the ground — as "minor in nature."
Fawcett agreed with the officers that Dziekanski appeared to be fighting back after he collapsed to the floor. He said it doesn't matter whether Dziekanski was actually resisting or whether he was reacting to the pain of the Taser.
"If the officer perceived it to be a response to the push-stun [Taser deployment], that would be one thing," he testified.
"If the officer's perception was it was conscious resistance on the part of the subject, then that's another matter."
Still, Fawcett said he doesn't think he would have reacted the way the officers did.
"In any group of officers, you'd have a range of responses — would I have done the same thing? Probably not," said Fawcett, who wasn't asked to elaborate.
Perception must be reasonable
The lawyer for Dziekanski's mother said police officers aren't off the hook just because they perceived something. The perception must be reasonable, he said.
"So it's not just what he perceives. What he perceives has to be reasonable, correct? It's measured against what is a reasonable perspective, right?" asked Walter Kosteckyj, himself a former RCMP officer.
"Yes," Fawcett replied.
Outside the inquiry, Kosteckyj said the officers' actions didn't meet that test.
"Given the number of officers involved, given the kit that they were outfitted with, given who they were dealing with — what would a reasonable officer do in that circumstance?" Kosteckyj said.
"A reasonable officer should have handled that in a different way," he said.
Kosteckyj said the report raises fresh questions about the decision not to charge the four officers because Crown prosecutors had access to the report when they ruled out charges.
"It seems the Crown should be commissioning a separate report," Kosteckyj said.
© The Canadian Press, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

U.S. refuses to reverse its ban on Arar.

This is from the CBC.

So much for enlightened new beginnings under Obama. Obama is also refusing to consdier any action against CIA operatives who tortured captives. Even though Arar was cleared of any connection to terrorism, the official position of the US is that he is a member of Al Qaeda ludicrous as this may be. Obama is simply not willing to challenge his intelligence services. Maybe he fears it would be dangerous for him!
It will be interesting to see if there is much in the way of US commentary on this. Probably not.

U.S. refuses to reverse its ban on Arar
Last Updated: Thursday, April 16, 2009 9:15 PM ET The Canadian Press
The Obama administration is refusing to end the U.S. ban on Maher Arar, dashing the hopes of those looking for a policy shift.
The Syrian-Canadian computer engineer remains on a U.S. terrorism watch list, despite having been exonerated and winning a multimillion-dollar settlement from the Canadian government.
American officials said their policy on Arar — who was extradited by the U.S. and tortured in a Syrian prison — hasn't changed with the arrival of Barack Obama as president.
"Mr. Arar is not welcome in the United States," Terry Breese, a senior U.S. diplomat, told Canadian reporters Thursday in Ottawa.
"A royal commission made its own decisions here in Canada, but the United States remains of the view that he is not admissible to the United States."
Maher Arar, seen in a December 2006 photo, has launched a lawsuit against former officials of the Bush administration. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)Breese also said the American government will not release any evidence it has against Arar because much of the information is classified.
Breese made his remarks during a visit by Jane Lute, the new U.S. deputy secretary of Homeland Security.
Lute downplayed suggestions — fuelled by her boss, Janet Napolitano — that the new administration could treat the Canadian and Mexican borders the same.
Remarks frightened businesses
Napolitano's remarks last month frightened businesses that rely on fluid cross-border trade, but Lute said "there is no one-size-fits-all" scenario for North American borders.
She said that even within a single border, no two parts are exactly identical.
Lute was asked during a news conference whether the new administration would adopt a different policy toward Arar, but she turned the question over to Breese.
The Canadian government has repeatedly asked for Arar's name to be cleared.
Arar's supporters say there's no reason for the ban, which remains in place two years after Canadian officials reviewed the U.S. evidence against Arar and found it unconvincing.
"It's very disappointing," said Kerry Pither, an author who has written about Arar's case. "A lot of us had hoped that Mr. Obama would take the advice of The New York Times."
The newspaper ran an editorial before Obama's recent trip to Ottawa urging the new president to "admit the grave injustice" done to Arar.
Arar won a $10.5-million settlement from the Canadian government and has launched a lawsuit against former Bush administration cabinet members John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge, FBI director Robert Mueller and U.S. immigration officials.
He is awaiting a decision after arguing before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to keep his case alive.
© The Canadian Press, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

EKOS poll: Conservatives slipping, Liberals gaining

The drop in support in Quebec and Ontario should worry the Conservatives. If there is an election they will be lucky if they can even manage a minority win let alone a majority. Perhaps there will be some murmuring in Conservative ranks.
It is interesting that although commentators such as Coyne suggest that Harper is violating many conservative policies and taking the party to the left, the party base supports him to an astonishing degree while outside the party Harper has very little support.
Perhaps by the fall Ignatieff will discover that Canadians want an election that is if the polls continue in his favor!

Conservatives slipping, Liberals gaining: EKOS poll
Governing party's support dropping in Ontario, Quebec, survey suggests
Last Updated: Thursday, April 16, 2009
CBC News
A new EKOS poll suggests public support for his Conservative party is slipping. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press)
Fortunes have shifted substantially for Stephen Harper's Conservatives since December, with Michael Ignatieff's Liberals enjoying an upsurge, says a new poll from EKOS released exclusively to CBC News.
Asked which party they would support if an election were held tomorrow, 36.7 opted for the Liberals while 30.2 per cent chose the Conservatives. About 15.5 per cent supported the NDP, while the Green party was the choice of 8.1 per cent and the Bloc Québécois was backed by 9.4 per cent.
The survey was conducted using a hybrid internet-telephone research panel between April 8 and 13, and involved a random sample of 1,587 Canadians. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
A similar poll question was asked just after the December prorogation crisis, when the minority Conservative government almost fell in the face of a challenge from a Liberal-NDP coalition headed by former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion.
It suggested the Conservatives had 44 per cent approval among the Canadian public, with dips for the Liberals (at 24 per cent) and NDP (at 14.5 per cent) compared to vote share those two parties had earned in the Oct. 14 federal election (26.2 per cent and 18.2 per cent respectively).
'Iffy proposition' to retain minority: pollster
EKOS pollster Frank Graves said the latest numbers, accompanied by regional breakdowns showing the Conservatives' level of support well below that of the Liberals in the key battleground provinces of Ontario and Quebec, suggest that "even the question of repeating a minority is an iffy proposition" for Harper's party.
The Liberals and NDP would almost certainly gain seats at the Conservatives' expense if an election were held this spring or summer, Graves pointed out. "There would be little in Stephen Harper's toolkit to discipline an opposition in these circumstances."
The province of Quebec in particular "almost looks like a wasteland for them," the pollster said.
Though the poll's Quebec margin of error is relatively high at plus or minus 5.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20, the Conservatives register only 10.9 per cent support in the province, compared to 39.5 per cent for the Bloc Québécois, 33.0 per cent for the Liberals, 11.7 per cent for the NDP and 4.9 per cent for the Greens.
In the Ontario breakdown, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20, the Conservatives enjoy 32.4 per cent, compared to 42.0 per cent for the Liberals. The two parties were statistically tied the last time EKOS conducted party preference polling.
Conservatives more confident
On the bright side for the Harper team, confidence in both the current government and the Canadian economy are very high among Conservative backers.
"Harper's approval rating is in the 90s for Conservative supporters," Graves said. "There's a vivid gap between the Conservative base, who are very happy with the general direction of the country, and everyone else."
For respondents who said they had voted for another party in the October election, Harper's personal ratings were "in the single digits or teens at best," Graves noted. "They almost live in a different country."

Ignatieff: Fight deficit with tax hike.

The headline does not make it clear that Ignatieff has no intention of raising taxes at present but only when the economy has turned around for some while. The main other way in which deficits are reduced to is to cut programs or funding for them. Conservatives typically love to cut entitlements and reduce the safety net but who knows the Liberals might do the same as the less unpopular method among those who can fund the party!
No doubt some Conservative commentators will be jumping all over Ignatieff for saying this.

Fight deficit with tax hike: Ignatieff
It's unreasonable to rule out increase, Liberal Leader says, but recovery mustn't be slowed
The Canadian Press, with staff
April 15, 2009
WATERLOO, ONT. -- Federal taxes will have to rise to pay off Canada's burgeoning deficit, but not at the expense of economic recovery, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said yesterday.
The Conservative Party quickly jumped on Mr. Ignatieff's comments, highlighting them at the top of their website.
"We will have to raise taxes," but not at the expense of hurting the recovery from this recession, Mr. Ignatieff, on a four-day tour of Southwestern Ontario, told a meeting of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.
"An honest politician" cannot exclude a tax hike as an option, Mr. Ignatieff said in response to a question from Cambridge, Ont., business leader John Bell, who wanted to known when the federal debt will be paid back.

"I am not going to load a deficit onto your children or mine," Mr. Ignatieff said after a speech that centred on the need for the federal government to unite people rather than divide them during these trying economic times.
He also slammed federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for labelling this recession as mild.
"You wonder what country he is in," Mr. Ignatieff said.
Michael O'Shaughnessy, Mr. Ignatieff's press secretary, said later that the party has "no plan and no desire to raise taxes" in a recession.
Later in Waterloo, Ont., Mr. Ignatieff said the federal Liberal Party supports a national standard for employment insurance eligibility to "even out unfairness" in the current system. "We want an EI system that is fair and equitable," Mr. Ignatieff told about 200 people attending a Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Mr. Ignatieff said many Canadians can't access EI because the standard for eligibility differs depending on where a person lives. In Southwestern Ontario there are six different standards, and 54 across Canada, he said.
"We think a national standard is fair," Mr. Ignatieff said.
He said his party is "actively working" on developing a national EI standard that will be part of his party's election platform.
The Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP later told reporters the cost of a national employment insurance standard hasn't been determined.
Mr. Ignatieff also said municipalities "haven't seen a dime yet" of the money promised in the government's economic stimulus budget.
The money should be funnelled to municipalities as they know best how to spend it, not federal bureaucrats, Mr. Ignatieff said.
And he said government investment in science and technology is key to creating jobs, but that federal funding for this sector has dropped since the Tories took power.