Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nova Scotia Tories continue attack on NDP platform

While I support the NDP, it seems to me that the Tory questions are reasonable enough and hardly answered by the ad hominem argument that they are simply baseless and fear mongering. Indeed if the budget is to be cut by one percent it is certainly reasonable to ask where and how. Of course it may not be in health care but something has to be cut. It is interesting that it is the Conservatives who are defending great expenditure and the NDP which wants to cut spending!

Tories continue attack on NDP platform
Last Updated: Saturday, May 30, 2009 3:33 PM ET
CBC News
The Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative party continued to attack the New Democratic Party’s platform, with only nine days left in the provincial election campaign.
Health Minister Karen Casey accused NDP Leader Darrell Dexter of going back on several promises he made in the past year on assistance for seniors.
In a news conference held in Halifax, Casey, PC candidate in the riding of Colchester North, also questioned Dexter’s plan to cut the provincial budget by one per cent.
“That gives me great concern,” Casey told CBC News on Saturday. “Health care amounts to 40 per cent of provincial budget spending. Which programs will he cut? Which Nova Scotians will receive less health care?” she asked.
“If Mr. Dexter is not going to take the money from health care, then he’ll have to take much greater cuts in other departments than he has led Nova Scotians to believe,” Casey said.
The NDP candidate for the riding of Halifax-Needham quickly responded to Casey’s remarks by calling them baseless and fear mongering.
In a news release issued Saturday, Maureen MacDonald characterized Casey’s comments as further evidence that the PC party, including its leader Rodney MacDonald, will say and do anything to cling to power.
All three party leaders were in the Annapolis Valley on Saturday to attend the annual Apple Blossom Festival.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Poll finds Ignatieff isn't seen as very patriotic...

From the Globe and Mail.

Of course the tape of Ignatieff talking of himself as an American could be matched by these prize quotes from Chairman Harper:

"Your country [the USA], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world."-Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank."

A culture of defeat..."- Stephen Harper, negatively describing Canada's Atlantic provinces! May 2001."Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States."- Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

Both Harper and Ignatieff are avid supporters of US imperialism even though Harper is conservative and Ignatieff liberal. Harper would have taken us into the Iraq war and so would have Ignatieff.

Harper's a Tims man, but Ignatieff inspires
Poll finds the Grit chief isn't seen as very patriotic, suggesting that ‘nasty' PM's attack ads hit his weak spot
Brian Laghi
Ottawa — From Saturday's Globe and Mail, Saturday, May. 30, 2009 03:53AM EDT
Michael Ignatieff is seen as starkly less patriotic than Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a new poll that suggests the Tories accurately put their finger on the Liberal Leader's vulnerabilities with a series of recent attack ads.
But while the survey comparing the two leaders reveals chinks in Mr. Ignatieff's armour, it also shows the public finds fault with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who voters say is more divisive, nasty and partisan in his approach than Mr. Ignatieff.
The Globe and Mail-CTV News survey shows opportunities abound for both sides to take advantage of the other's weaknesses among regions, gender and income groups.
“I think the Liberals will make [an election] campaign issue of Mr. Harper, and the Conservatives will make the campaign issue Mr. Ignatieff,” said Peter Donolo, a partner with The Strategic Counsel, which conducted the poll.

Nova Scotia Liberal candidate says tourists "revolted"by signs in lawns, gardens..

If you can't win the sign war start a new war against signs. No doubt the Liberal could take down all his signs very quickly and get on with campaigning while his opponents would waste valuable time taking down all their signs. Maybe campaign literature should be destroyed too as it is mostly propaganda. Think of all the trees that would be saved. That is surely even a greater benefit than doing away with a bit of visual pollution.

N.S. Liberal candidate says tourists 'revolted' by signs in lawns, gardens
By THE CANADIAN PRESS – 16 hours ago
LUNENBURG, N.S. — A Liberal candidate for the election in Nova Scotia has launched his better lawns and gardens platform.
Rick Welsford, who's running in Lunenburg, has challenged the other local candidates to remove their large, plastic signs from soil and turf. Welsford says it's all about keeping the historic town green - and pleasant for the tourists who help to drive the local economy.
He says tourists are "revolted" when they see gardens littered with campaign signs.
Welsford issued his challenge to the Tories and New Democrats during his closing remarks at a candidates' debate Thursday night in Lunenburg.
He planned to remove his signs immediately after leaving the debate.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Harper Threatens Ignatieff with old videos

This is from CTV.

So what happened to our warm family man prime minister in his fuzzy blue sweater. I guess it didn't sell. I guess the scary nasty version is more marketable. The tape battle could be bad for Harper too since there are lots of old quotes that show what Harper thinks of Canada and how he is inspired by the US conservative movement.
Flaherty is having problems with past statements too. He is right about the economy about as often as a stopped clock is right about the time as his past statements show.

Harper threatens Ignatieff with old videos
Updated Thu. May. 28 2009 10:25 AM ET News Staff
The Conservatives are threatening to release more potentially damaging videotapes of Michael Ignatieff in an attempt to discredit the opposition leader.
During Question Period Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Commons he had lots of tapes featuring Ignatieff.
"I cannot fire the Leader of the Opposition and with all the tapes I have on him, I do not want to," Harper said.
The Conservatives are said to be poring over old video clips of Ignatieff speeches and interviews from his past career as a journalist, author and public intellectual to find potentially embarrassing remarks.
Outside the Commons, Ignatieff described Harper's remarks as "Nixonian", referring to disgraced former U.S. President Richard Nixon who secretly recorded Oval Office conversations, and who was famous of digging up dirt on his political opponents.
"Every day that goes by, he's more like Richard Nixon," Ignatieff said.
"The public finances of our country are in freefall and he's wasting time with tapes of me? It's a joke."
Ignatieff said he won't be intimidated by the prime minister, and that is is his job to hold him to account.
His remarks followed a particularly heated session in the Commons, in which Ignatieff called on the prime minister to fire Finance Minister Jim Flaherty over the ballooning federal deficit.
Harper shot back that the issue at hand should be the "credibility of the leader of the opposition."
Ignatieff is already the subject of several Tory attack ads, which focus on comments he made before entering politics, and the decades he spent outside of Canada.
One ad features an old video interview in which Ignatieff refers to America as 'his country'.
In another Ignatieff is quoted as saying the 'the only thing he missed about Canada was Algonquin Park.'

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Canada free to bring Abdelrazik home, UN official says

This is from the Globe and Mail.

I am surprised that more is not made of this charade being played out by the government. The legal mythology that the Canadian govt. case is based upon is made clear by this statement from the UN. It is really hard to see why the government is playing hardball on this except perhaps to show that the Cannon is a loyal puppy dog still following the hard line of the Bush administration long after Bush has retired to his ranch! In this case even the RCMP and CSIS have no charges against him nor the Sudanese govt. No matter. To the Conservatives Bush policy is Holy Writ it would seem.

Canada free to bring Abdelrazik home, UN official says
Friday, May. 15, 2009 03:10PM EDT
Canada is free to bring Abousfian Abdelrazik home and doesn't need to ask for permission, the UN official overseeing the blacklist of alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects said yesterday.
“Whether it is Abdelrazik or anybody else, it is up to the state in question whether they want to allow the person to come back or not,” said Richard Barrett, co-ordinator of the UN's Al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team, which oversees the various United Nations resolutions establishing the blacklist on which Mr. Abdelrazik was placed at the request of Washington in 2006.
He said the travel ban exemption allowing for the return of a citizen is so clear in the UN resolutions that governments need not – and most don't – even apply for permits.
“States needn't notify the committee if somebody is going back to their own country, so we don't necessarily know of all the instances where that has happened,” Mr. Barrett said, dismissing the central claim of the Harper government as it fights Mr. Abdelrazik's return.
The Harper government continues to insist that Mr. Abdelrazik's presence on the UN list justifies blocking his return and denying him a passport.
“Mr. Abdelrazik is on the list established by the United Nations Security Council as an individual with ties to al-Qaeda. Therefore, he is subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze. Our government is taking its obligations seriously and that is why we are not going” to issue him a travel document to return home, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said in the House of Commons on Monday.
Mr. Barrett's assertion that the travel ban doesn't prevent Mr. Abdelrazik's return and – even if it did – other nations on the route home don't need to agree to the exemption, strikes at the heart of the two key claims made by government ministers and Justice Department lawyers in their efforts to block the return of Mr. Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen.
Mr. Abdelrazik's lawyers argue the government is trampling on his Charter right to return home and deliberately twisting international law to shore up efforts that have left him marooned abroad for more than six years. They claim the government wants to hide the involvement of Canadian agents in the arrest, imprisonment and mistreatment of a Canadian overseas.
Mr. Abdelrazik, 47, has been living in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum for more than a year. Despite being cleared by both CSIS and the RCMP, he remains on the UN Security Council terrorist blacklist, put there by the Bush administration. Mr. Cannon called him a “national security risk” last month when the minister abruptly reversed previous written government promises to issue him a one-way travel document to come home if he could find an airline willing to fly him. Nearly 200 Canadians had bought him a ticket.
Today in Federal Court, government lawyers are expected to argue that Mr. Abdelrazik can't come home because the travel ban associated with the UN terrorist blacklist means every state he might fly over between Khartoum and Montreal would need to explicitly seek a travel ban exemption for him.
The government relies extensively on that interpretation in its court filing.
“The travel ban specifies that listed individuals may not enter into the territories of a UN member state or transit through the territory of a UN member state,” Justice Department lawyers contend in their “memorandum of fact and law.” The government's adds “it is geographically impossible for [Mr. Abdelrazik] to travel from Sudan to Canada by air, land or sea without transiting through the sovereign territories (land, airspace or territorial waters) of numerous UN member states which are bound at international law to prevent such transit.”
Mr. Barrett rejects that interpretation.
“The overflight states don't come into it and they haven't ever come into it,” he said.
The UN 1267 committee, so named for the first UN resolution, co-sponsored by Canada, which created the blacklist, has issued numerous travel ban exemptions for various reasons, including travel for medical treatment or to attend legal hearings.
None of them has ever involved permission from overflight states, nor have overflight states been involved when countries bring citizens home under the explicit travel ban exemption without seeking a UN travel permit.
Heavily censored government documents implicate Canadian security agents in Mr. Abdelrazik's arrest in Sudan in 2003. CSIS agents interrogated him in Sudanese prisons while the rest of the government and even his family were kept in the dark about his whereabouts.
Mr. Abdelrazik claims he was beaten and tortured during his 19 months – in two stints – in Sudan's notorious prisons. Government lawyer Anne Turley, in cross-examination in preparation for today's court hearing, tried to get Mr. Abdelrazik to admit to self-mutilation to account for the scars on his torso. Other documents show Ottawa rejected Sudanese offers to fly Mr. Abdelrazik home and that Khartoum told Canadian diplomats it could no longer hold an innocent man at the behest of foreign governments. Meanwhile, Canadian officials dismissed Mr. Abdelrazik's treatment as no worse than usual for a Sudanese jail. Senior Canadian officials ordered Canadian diplomats to stay away when Mr. Abdelrazik pleaded for them to attend while he was interrogated by visiting U.S. agents.
The Bush administration added Mr. Abdelrazik to the UN list and its own no-fly list in 2006. He is the only living Canadian on the list of more than 500 al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects.
Mr. Abdelrazik, who came to Canada in 1990 and was granted political refugee status, became a citizen in 1995. He has never been charged with a crime in Canada, the United States or Sudan.
In 2007, the Canadian government asked the UN to delist him, after first getting written assurances from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP that he wasn't regarded as a terrorist or criminal threat. The delisting request was vetoed, probably by the United States, which claims he is a close associate of Abu Zubaydah, the al-Qaeda leader who was water boarded more than 80 times by CIA agents.
On Tuesday, Mr. Abdelrazik's supporters delivered a personal appeal from the man marooned in the Canadian embassy to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I have seen commercials of you, Mr. Harper, during the last election, in which you were playing piano with your young son,” Mr. Abdelrazik said in his letter delivered by some of the hundreds of Canadians who paid for his ticket home last month. “You are a man who cares about his family. Why do you forbid me to be with my family? To encourage my young son to play piano or play soccer and to watch my teenage daughter grow and learn? I have dreams, Mr. Harper, dreams that I will one day return to my beloved Canada. But today I am living a nightmare.”

NDP press release:
LET COMMITTEE DO IT’S WORK IN ABDELRAZIK’S CASE: DEWAR OTTAWA – New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) called on the government allow the committee to go ahead with repatriating Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik. “The federal government has failed on this case, so the Foreign Affairs committee decided to act and invited Mr. Abdelrazik to appear as a witness,” said Dewar whose motion at the Foreign Affairs committee was adopted unanimously. “Still, Minister Cannon told the committee on Monday that he is not going to issue the necessary travel documents for Mr. Abdelrazik’s return. Why is the Minister putting himself in contempt of the committee?” Dewar was joined by community members and Mr. Abdelrazik’s legal representatives who announced travel arrangements made for repatriating him on June 12, 2009. Mr. Abdelrazik has been stranded in Sudan for over six years. He cannot travel because the Conservative government is not issuing him a Canadian passport. The government insists that Mr. Abdelrazik’s listing on the UN’s travel ban means he cannot return to Canada. But UN officials have stated that Canada can repatriate its citizens, despite the travel ban. CSIS, RCMP and the government of Sudan have cleared Mr. Abdelrazik of any wrongdoing. “I call on the Minister to reconsider his decision, do the right thing and allow the committee to go ahead with repatriating Mr. Abdelrazik,” stated Dewar. “For members of the committee all options are on the table to ensure we can perform our duties to the people of Canada.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quebec separatists would win election: poll

This is from Reuters.

As the article notes Jean Charest does not have to call an election until 2013 so the fact that the Parti Quebecois would probably win an election now is no huge threat.
More significant for the immediate future is the standing of the federal Conservatives who are behind the NDP in Quebec while the Liberals are even ahead of the Bloc. Perhaps Iggy will actually move to defeat Harper although I would bet against that right now if I were a gambler. I am awaiting the next episode in the long Liberal melodrama of attacking the Conservatives with great vigour and then supporting them when it comes time to vote.

Quebec separatists would win election: poll
Mon May 25, 2009 9:37am EDT

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Quebec's separatists have strengthened their standing to the point where they would win provincial elections if a vote were held today, a new poll showed on Monday.
The Leger poll has the separatist Parti Quebecois tied with the Liberal Party, which wants to keep the province in Canada, at 40 percent apiece. But because of the way the Liberal votes are concentrated in fewer districts, the Parti Quebecois would win an election.
For now, the provincial Liberals are safe, since Premier Jean Charest led them to a majority victory in December -- meaning the opposition cannot topple him and he does not have to call an election before late 2013.
His party won with 42 percent of the vote and the separatists took 35 percent in the December election.
On the federal level, the Conservative Party's prospects are bleak in the province, standing in fourth place with the support of only 13 percent of Quebeckers.
The Leger poll put the federal Liberals -- unconnected with the provincial Liberals -- ahead at 37 percent, the Bloc Quebecois at 33 percent and the New Democrats, who currently have only one seat in Quebec, at 14 percent.
Other polls have shown the federal Liberals ahead of the Conservatives nationwide, but with such a slight lead that most analysts do not think they would risk trying to bring the government down in the next few months.
The poll, taken for Le Devoir and Montreal Gazette newspapers, surveyed 1,053 Quebeckers from May 13-17 and carries a margin of error of 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved.

Monday, May 25, 2009

EI issues stokes election fever

This is from the Toronto Star.

Somehow I doubt that Ignatieff will force an election now although I could be wrong! Ignatieff probably prefers to wait for the fall at least so that he has more money in the election chest and even better polls he hopes. However, not having a policy platform and not having set out his own plans in any detail may be a plus. Running on Conservative failings during a still failing economy may be better than waiting around for a possible recovery. However Ignatieff is likely to pull a Dion and support the Conservatives. Maybe he will take credit for the scraps of reform that the Conservatives may make to EI.

EI stokes election fever - Canada - EI stokes election fever

Diane Finley is set to outline changes to EI system May 25, 2009.
Conservatives reach out to unemployed workers, but likely to face wrath of Liberals who demand insurance plan overhaul
May 25, 2009 Bruce Campion-SmithLes WhittingtonOTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA – Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is announcing improvements to the employment insurance program today, but it will not be enough to head off a clash with the Liberals that threatens to derail the Conservative minority government and force an early-summer election.
Finley's initiative is meant to help laid-off workers, but a senior government source said it's nothing like the major overhaul of EI being demanded by opposition parties as Parliament resumes today.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has threatened to topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government unless the Conservatives reform the EI system to make it easier for workers who lose their jobs to access insurance payments.
The Liberals want the government to establish a national threshold of 360 paid hours of work for people to qualify for EI during the economic downturn. Currently, depending on where someone lives, it takes between 420 and 910 hours of paid work to be eligible.
A government spokesperson said yesterday the Conservatives have no intention of meeting that demand.
"We would have to raise payroll taxes to do what the Liberals and NDP want and we are not going to do that," the spokesperson said.
And Finance Minister Jim Flaherty yesterday repeated his opposition to a major EI overhaul.
"What Canadians are looking for is a system that works properly," Flaherty said on CTV's Question Period.
"It's not meant to be a system that keeps people on employment insurance. It's meant to be a system that encourages people to retrain so that they can support themselves with jobs."
The upshot is that Ignatieff is facing the toughest decision yet of his fledgling leadership – whether to make good on the threat to force an election if EI benefits are not improved.
Meanwhile, some in Conservative circles say the party's new biting partisan ads are the opening volley for a fall election.
This is the political backdrop as MPs, fresh off a week-long break, return to Parliament Hill today for a final sprint to summer – four weeks of debate that promises to be heated and bitter – and enlivened by election fever.
Ignatieff is weighing the advice of some caucus members who suggest the party should strike now, while the Liberals are up in the polls and the Conservatives are dogged by the still-struggling economy.
And employment insurance is the one issue that could unite the opposition to bring down the minority government, a common front that might not exist in the fall.
"Mr. Harper should make no assumptions about his ability to just bulldoze his way along here," Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said in an interview.
Behind the scenes, the Liberals have put a "rush" on drafting a platform and working on the logistics for a national campaign, moves meant to give Ignatieff the option of sparking a vote.
But pollster Nik Nanos says it's all political bluster and that no party can risk facing the voters in a summer vote when the economy is sour.
"It's like two people playing poker and they're both trying to bluff. A lot of this has to do with posturing," he said.
With their new ads, the Conservatives are sending a signal that they are ready to fight an election even though a vote now could prove risky for the government, Nanos said.
And for all their election bluster, Nanos said the Liberals would be better off waiting as well.
"In their ideal scenario, they would spend more time introducing and defining Michael Ignatieff before they went to the polls. If they leave that to an election, that's when we know that the real attack ads will be taking place," he said.
That said, there are election tripwires to be negotiated in the weeks ahead.
Each of the opposition parties has an "opposition" day when it could present a non-confidence vote that could lead to the government's downfall. There's been speculation that the Conservatives will postpone those days to the final weeks of June in a bid to push any possible election date well into summer.
Goodale said a summer vote, while not ideal, is not a showstopper if the Liberals decide employment insurance is an issue worth going to the polls over and notes his first election was on July 8, 1974.
"There have been elections at a great many different and sometimes inconvenient times of the year," he said.
But if the minority Parliament survives until the summer recess – and many expect it will – the next election window opens in the fall.
The Conservative scenario for a fall vote goes like this – Harper spends the summer making "good news' headlines unveiling billions of dollars in stimulus funding as backroom party operatives continue their own campaign to undercut Ignatieff.
In the fall, with the economy showing signs of a turnaround, he goes to the polls, hoping for a third – and final – minority term that sets the stage for his own exit from politics.
"He knows it's going to be a minority. He's never going to be a majority prime minister. I think his goal is to get in there, win again and then pass the reins," said one Conservative insider.
"He can literally spend the next four months rolling out announcements ... and nobody can say `you're buying elections,'" the source said.
That's because opposition MPs and groups such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have been urging the government to spend the stimulus cash earmarked in the Jan. 27 budget faster.
The timing of a fall vote might seem like folly, given that the Conservatives are down in the polls and the economy is still rocky. But the thinking is the Conservatives might strike before Ignatieff has a chance to further raise his profile.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

MacKay visits troops in Afghanistan

There seems to have been almost no response among the opposition to MacKay's talk about post-combat role. Canada may end up being in a combat post-combat role since many activities will be attacked by the Taliban and of course the combat will be in self-defence. The best role for Canada would be to get out period and save our money for better things than aiding US imperialism even when that imperialism has a humanitarian gloss. MacKay's prattle about avoiding civilian policies conflicts with the continuing policy of airstrikes which regularly results in new civilian casualties.

MacKay visits troops in Afghanistan, talks about post-combat role
By COLIN PERKEL The Canadian Press
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canada will still have lots to do in Afghanistan even if its combat role ends as planned in 2011, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Monday at the end of a visit to Canadian forces.
The focus will be on aid and governance, something that is already occurring as 200 new U.S. soldiers arrive every week to this ever-expanding military base in southern Afghanistan with a renewed mission to subdue a bloody insurgency.
The Canadian mission is increasingly focusing on the population centres of Kandahar province — ensuring the safety and the well being of individuals and the population itself, MacKay said.
The idea is to try to secure the populated centres to allow enhanced humanitarian aid, build schools, provide immunizations and enable micro-finance credit.
``Its microcosms of the whole of government approach in concentrated areas of population rather than simply focusing on holding swaths of land,'' MacKay said.
Canada, he said, no longer cares to concentrate its efforts on taking and ``holding swaths of land.''
The defence minister spent more than two days at the sprawling military base visiting with Canadian forces, accompanied by Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson.
On Sunday evening at a meet-and-greet barbecue with some Canadian soldiers, MacKay said he had no plans to follow the lead of U.S. President Barack Obama and replace Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan.
On the contrary, he said as he stood next to a memorial to fallen Canadian soldiers, the government had ``great confidence'' in the command.
The Americans and other countries are also moving toward Canada's approach or attempting to temper military action with non-combat aid and reconstruction efforts, he said.
The comments came after he announced 11 new facilities to support soldiers who return to Canada with illnesses or injuries.
``We are very seized and very conscious of the fact that we have to do a better job of taking care of our men and women in uniform when they return from service, particularly in a mission like Afghanistan which is very demanding,'' MacKay told the soldiers.
MacKay was careful to avoid criticizing the Americans for an increasing number of civilian casualties, particularly in air strikes, something Canada does not take part in.
``We obviously take great pains not to have civilian casualties in any instance but this is a very insidious type of warfare that the Taliban are engaged in,'' MacKay said.
The Taliban, he noted, does not ``play by any rules of engagement.''
The defence minister was expected to head to Pakistan later Monday for talks with his counterpart Ahmad Mukhtar in Islamabad.
The meeting was being described as a general discussion on regional issues, but came just days after MacKay said instability was making Pakistan perhaps the most dangerous country in the world.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chalk River Reactor shut down for a month; AECL

What! Harper isn't firing anyone for shutting the facility down? The Chalk River reactor is long past its useful life. The whole Canadian govt. nuclear progam is a shambles as plans to build replacements the Maple reactors were shelved after great cost and botched startups. MDS Nordion which buys the isotopes but had enough sense not to try to buy the reactor should sue the government. Perhaps the Canadian government could lure some nuclear reactor experts from Iran. No doubt Israel and the US would help finance their relocation!

Chalk River reactor shut down for a month: AECL

By Canwest News ServiceMay 19, 2009 8:01 AM

The Chalk River nuclear facility, located about 200 km west of the Ottawa River, is mainly used for research and the production of radio isotopes for use in medical procedures.
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen
A power outage in eastern Ontario last week could lead to a shortage of medical isotopes after a nuclear reactor was turned off at Chalk River Laboratories, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. said.
In a statement released Monday evening, AECL said the National Research Universal reactor at the Chalk River, Ont., facility, about 180 km west of Ottawa, was “safely shut down” on Thursday due to a “shortage in electrical power.”
The following day, a leak of heavy water, or water that acts as a stabilizer during nuclear fission, was found in the NRU reactor, the statement said. The heavy water has been contained and poses “no threat to workers, the public, the environment or nuclear safety related to this event.”
The AECL said it estimates the NRU reactor will be out of service for a month while repairs are made to fix the leak. Because of the stoppage, the AECL said isotope shortages will occur as early as May 23.
The 52-year-old Chalk River facility produces about half of the world’s medical isotopes.
The isotopes are used to screen for illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
In 2007, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission shut down the reactor for four weeks after a routine maintenance check found safety provisions at the plant were lacking.
The decision to suspend operations caused a critical shortage of life-saving medical isotopes and prompted the government to persuade Parliament to override the nuclear regulator and allow the reactor to be restarted.
CNSC president Linda Keen was fired in January 2008 by the Harper government for authorizing the shutdown.
In December 2008, a small heavy-water leak shut down the reactor for three days before being restarted.
With files from the Ottawa Citizen
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

The Chalk River nuclear facility, located about 200 km west of the Ottawa River, is mainly used for research and the production of radio isotopes for use in medical procedures.
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen

Friday, May 22, 2009

Former diplomat casts doubt on Mulroney testimony

One hardly needs a diplomat to cast doubt on Mulroney's testimony. From the get go Mulroney's explanations of why he received the bulging envelopes of cash from Schreiber sound like a huge Irish spin machine made up by an aging leprechaun to guard his pot of gold. Now it seems Mulroney has managed to extract even more money from those of us watching the show from the sidelines. We are paying his legal bills instead of getting money back from the other legal sideshow that garnered Mulroney millions because he did not reveal relevant material about his relationship to Schreiber.

Former diplomat casts doubt on Mulroney's testimony - Canada - Former diplomat casts doubt on Mulroney's testimony

May 21, 2009 Richard J. BrennanOttawa Bureau
OTTAWA – A former Canadian ambassador to China today cast doubt on Brian Mulroney's claim he raised the issue of UN peacekeeping armoured vehicles with Chinese officials during a visit there in 1993.
Fred Bild told an inquiry probing business dealings between Mulroney and former arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber that if the former prime minister had talked about something as sensitive as military matters in any way Bild would have "most likely" heard back from the Chinese.
"Even if it were just at a tentative level ... it would have come back (to him) because they (the Chinese) would have wanted more information," Bild said, especially given that a former prime minister was making the pitch.
Bild told inquiry commissioner Justice Jeffrey Oliphant he heard "nothing whatever" about Mulroney's overtures and added "I am convinced" he would have gotten wind of it.
Mulroney has offered that trip in October 1993 as an example where he represented Karlheinz Schreiber's business interests in German-designed light armoured vehicles, for which Mulroney was paid $225,000 in cash.
Mulroney testified earlier that given he received no directions from Schreiber on promoting the sale of vehicles made by Thyssen AG of Germany internationally, he came up with his own "concept" to discuss with the five members of the United Nations security council, which includes China, the idea of the UN buying these vehicles.
Besides, China, Mulroney said he raised the matter with France, Russia and the United States. Schreiber says he paid Mulroney $300,000 to lobby on behalf of a project to have German-designed military vehicles built in Canada and insists Mulroney did nothing for the money.
Bild testified that back in 1993 China's bilateral relations were still in their infancy, especially on military co-operation.
He said for one thing a former prime minister with Mulroney's experience should have consulted Canada's Foreign Affairs department and the Canadian Embassy in China before raising something as sensitive as the export of a military vehicle.
Bild said he would have well remembered if Mulroney had mentioned anything about approaching the Chinese government on military vehicles "because all kind of lights would have gone off at the embassy ... it's something none of us would have forgotten."
Bild said the subject would have created a precedence in Canada's relations with China "and therefore it would have made waves and we would have heard about it."
"There is no legal requirement to clear it with us, but it would have caused immense surprise because that topic, no matter how you approach it ... is essentially a government to government topic, the government is going to have to get involved no matter how private it is."
He explained that back then "China was still persona non grata on the level of anything to do with military or military equipment. We did not talk to them about it."
The inquiry also heard the tax provision that allowed Mulroney to be taxed on just half the $225,000 he received from Schreiber was closed last year.
Canada Revenue Agency official Christiane Sauvé said it was simply a matter of routine back in 2000 when Mulroney voluntarily declared the cash payments to be given a 50 per cent reduction in taxable income.
"It allows them to avoid all the penalties that could apply against an income as well as criminal suits that could form," she said in explaining the advantage of taxpayers voluntarily coming forward.
Sauvé said the agency was happy to be getting money it may not have learned about.
She said the agency almost always granted a discount of 50 per cent when was it was impossible to determine the nature or the source of the money.
"We no longer have that 50 per cent policy," Sauvé said.
Yesterday, it was discovered that Mulroney, after six days of testimony, left taxpayers on the hook for $2 million in legal fees.
The $2 million bill, which comes on top of the estimated $14 million cost to taxpayers of the Oliphant inquiry, falls under a federal government policy that provides for the payment of former office holders' legal costs.
It had been assumed that Mulroney was paying his own lawyers' fees because he did not apply to Oliphant for financial assistance.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nasty Politicking sidelines issues critical to Canada

The attack ads may actually work. Certainly many in the media and of course what passes as an intelligentsia in Canada do not like them but that does not mean they will not work. Ignatieff is not only a Johnny come lately with no firm roots in Canada but he is also the choice of Liberal king makers rather than the grass roots something the article neglects to mention. Also many of those die hard Conservatives writing checks to support Harper are actually part of the elite whether the Liberal elite kingmakers like it or not. They are just a different segment of the elite no doubt unwashed and not suitably polished either! It is interesting that both are leaders are Amerophiles. Harper loves the US conservative movement and finds them an inspiration. Ignatieff is a great support of US humanitarian imperialism and even supported the Iraq invasion.
It remains to be seen if Ignatieff forces an election together with the opposition parties. Seems to me he wants to wait for more funds and more favorable polls.

Nasty politicking sidelines issues critical to Canada

The StarPhoenixMay 19, 2009

If one even accidentally tuned into the parliamentary channel last week, it was hard to mistake the smell of an election.
The daily question period, which is rarely an exercise in intelligent debate, has sunk to the level of visceral attacks to which it had sunk before Parliament broke for the summer a year ago.
At that time, things were so bad that, before calling Parliament back into session, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared the dysfunctional atmosphere forced him to call an election. That was an unnecessary, $300-million exercise to bring civility to an unruly institution that was made even more so by the very actions of the man who claimed to be seeking functionality.
Last week, two senior members of the Prime Minister's Office were quick to assure the Ottawa press gallery, which apparently agreed to keep their identities secret, that they were taking an unpaid leave from their government work to spearhead an assault that will be the first wave of the next election campaign. This assault consists primarily of attack advertisements, distributed across Canada, which depict Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff as an elite expatriate whose only desire is to lead a nation that he has eschewed for decades.
One can't help but question if this is the best ammunition the Conservatives can muster to try to hurt the Liberal leader: That Mr. Ignatieff is aloof and erudite.
A man broadly considered to be cool and aloof himself now leads the Conservative party. That reputation has stuck even as Mr. Harper donned cozy sweaters and tried to depict himself as the Everyday Joe during the last election campaign.
As Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert pointed out Friday, however, it wasn't only in the bizarre tone of the English ads that leave people wondering if the Tories have lost their minds.
Their advertising in French is designed to widen the gap between Quebec and the rest of Canada, as it pokes at that province's insecurities. The advertisements suggest that Mr. Ignatieff's accent is too Parisian and highbrow for Quebec, and reflects a federalist view of the world whereby Quebec is merely a part North America, rather than a nation onto itself.
As Ms. Hébert notes, the tone appears to suggest that if the Conservatives can't govern Canada, they will leave ashes in their wake.
Even all this, however, is no guarantee that Canadians are headed to the polls. The Conservatives are flush with cash. They were extremely successful in depicting Stéphane Dion, Mr. Ignatieff's predecessor, as an inept leader and enemy of Quebec by taking out advertisements long before a writ was dropped.
The campaign succeeded because Mr. Dion was unable to prove the allegations wrong -- particularly when the ads questioned his ability to lead a party whose helm he was given almost as an afterthought. And while Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberals insist they are better prepared to project their own image rather than let the Tory ads define them, the proof of that has yet to come.
Certainly, Canadians are much less xenophobic than their neighbours to the south, whose Constitution requires that the president actually be born in the United States. As such trying to convince Canadians that Mr. Ignatieff is unqualified to lead because he is worldly, well- educated and respected abroad is likely to cater only to those die-hard Conservatives whose support the party already has secured.
But if the Liberals want to define themselves as a national party with Canada's interests at heart -- as Mr. Ignatieff indicated once he saw the attacks coming his way -- it will be up to them to convince Canadians to put their money where the party's mouth is. The die-hard Conservatives have already shown that they have no problem writing cheques to keep the elites from power.
The sad thing about all of this for most Canadians, however, is that while the Tory attack ads -- and the Liberal counterattacks -- have replaced substantive parliamentary debate, the country's deficit is exploding with no plan evident to bring it under control in the long run. The Harper-appointed parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, has been deprived of enough funding to monitor how bad things are, the separatists are running with the ammo provided by the premature campaign, stimulus money seems to be as slow to arrive as a prairie spring, and the Americans have launched an anti-Canadian trade war not seen since before the Second World War.
No one seems to be paying much attention.
- - -
"Democracy cannot be maintained without its foundation: free public opinion and free discussion throughout the nation of all matters affecting the state within the limits set by the criminal code and the common law." - The Supreme Court of Canada, 1938
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Green Shift gone but not forgotten.

The Green Shift has been dropped like a hot potato just as was Dion. Ignatieff has defended Oil Sands aka as Tar Sands production. Perhaps Ignatieff will adopt the earlier Liberal tactics on the environment eventually: talk a great line probably praising and micicking the rhetoric of Obama but then do little or nothing as the party did when it was in power. Of course there is always the tried and true and indeed truthful enough claim that the Conservatives have done little.

Green shift gone but not forgotten - columnists - Green shift gone but not forgotten

May 18, 2009 Thomas S. AxworthyChair of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Queen's University
BERLIN – Stéphane Dion announced at the recent Liberal convention in Vancouver that he would be staying in politics. This is a good thing because a future Liberal government will have great need of his intelligence, commitment and stubbornness in dealing with climate change.
The world is in economic crisis but we cannot allow this to delay the actions urgently required to secure energy supplies and to tackle emissions and greenhouse gases. This was the conclusion of the InterAction Council, which convened a conference this month on "Energy Availability and Environmental Concerns" attended by former ministers, senior officials and experts both from producing nations like Saudi Arabia and Russia and from consumer nations like Germany, France and Japan.
Majid Al-Moneef, the OPEC governor for Saudi Arabia, laid out the basic facts on energy that few in the conference could dispute. For a good part of the last century and continuing until today, oil and gas have been the primary energy sources. Currently they account for 60 per cent of global energy consumption and despite all the efforts to lessen dependency on them, they will continue to have a commanding role at least until 2030.
The energy landscape is not static. Energy markets are complex, diversified and globalized with great shifts taking place within the sector. Energy conservation, for example, has worked in the OECD countries with their oil consumption slowing down in the past three decades to 0.6 per cent annually, but this has been more than made up by the 4 per cent annual growth in consumption in the developing world. China, India and growth in the Middle East itself will account for 80 per cent of future oil demand. Thus, despite all the public attention to renewables and the overwhelming challenge of climate change, fossil fuels will continue to meet 80 per cent of global energy needs for the foreseeable future.
Oil, therefore, is still king and will continue to reign for at least the next three decades. This reality has sobering security, economic and environmental implications. Energy security will continue to be the essence of geopolitics.
Energy volatility, too, is one of the reasons that the world economy is suffering. Starting in 2004, China increased its oil demand by 2.4 million barrels a day and this was one reason that the price of oil shot up to $140 per barrel by 2008 (only to fall back to less than half this amount today). Development of Canada's oil sands will require an oil price of $87 to justify investment in new projects.
Most alarmingly, if fossil fuels continue to provide 80 per cent of tomorrow's energy needs, the impact on climate change will be horrendous. If the world continues to depend on fossil fuels, the development of carbon capture and sequestration techniques will have to be an international priority at least as great as maintaining energy security. Malcolm Wicks, the former United Kingdom minister of energy told the conference: "The future of climate change depends on carbon capture."
U.S. President Barack Obama is promising a "Green New Deal" to double solar, wind and biomass supply capacity in three years. Obama wants to make environmental sustainability the centrepiece of a new American economy.
This was exactly the promise of Dion's green shift platform in the 2008 election. Dion may have failed to sell his plan effectively to voters but he was on the right track in committing the Liberal party to making the environment a core concern.
The Liberal party must build on the green shift initiative by turning Canada into not only an "energy superpower," as Stephen Harper advocates, but also an "environmental superpower," especially on carbon capture.
We will need Stéphane Dion in a future Liberal government to make sure this happens.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Workers of the World Screw Each Other.

That seems to be the motto of auto workers both here and in the US. While it is understandable that workers should be protectionist it makes more sense and is in keeping with worker solidarity to demand better working conditions for Chinese auto workers than to adopt a protectionist stance. The most this will achieve is assembly plants in Canada such as we have now which often compete effectively and also drive down wages. The CAW does have a point though about the unfair trade conditions between China, South Korea, and Japan and Canada with respect to vehicles. Even so I get the distinct impression that the auto union is concerned less with international worker solidarity against capitalist exploitation than in protecting their own dues paying Canadian workers jobs. Their ardent support for capitalism has earned them the right to bargain away everything they have achieved the last few decades at the cost of many struggles. The government has in effect forced the union to bargain away all its gains. Then they will use the taxpayer's money including that of the workers themselves to bail out the company.

CAW seeking limit on imports

As talks drag, union calls on Ottawa to protect jobs, public investment
May 19, 2009 04:30 AM
The Canadian Auto Workers union says Ottawa must make sure General Motors of Canada doesn't import any more vehicles from offshore countries if the government wants to protect jobs here and assure protection of public investment in the teetering automaker.
As talks for worker concessions continue in Canada, Detroit-based parent GM Corp. – which is seeking billions of dollars in public loans – has revealed to the U.S. Congress it plans to start importing small cars from China within two years. Union officials in both countries say the move will kill jobs in North America.
"Obviously the federal and Ontario governments should maximize their return from GM and Chrysler and possibly Ford by limiting imports which have been costing us jobs for years," CAW president Ken Lewenza said in an interview yesterday.
He said the union has pressed Ottawa for years to stop a flood of auto imports here because offshore countries don't offer the same access to Canadian-made vehicles.
GM is already importing South Korean-made small cars to Canada despite union efforts to limit them since Canadian automakers face trade barriers in that Asian country.
"In China, it's the same thing – a one-way flow of trade out," Lewenza said. "Here, we leave it wide open. If this keeps up, the only question for government is when are we (the domestic auto industry) going to die."
Chris Buckley, chairman of the union's bargaining committee, said he finds it "absolutely mind-boggling" that GM is trying to increase imports into North America at a time when it is shutting down North American plants.
In negotiations for worker concessions with General Motors and struggling Chrysler, the union and the federal and Ontario governments have insisted that the companies maintain current levels of output as a percentage of their North American production. If output slid in the U.S., it could drop here too and still hold the production threshold.
The union has repeatedly told Ottawa to fix the trade problem and limit imports, but Buckley would not comment on whether the federal and Ontario governments should refuse GM's current requests for loans if the company plans to increase imports here.
In the U.S., the United Auto Workers union has complained to the government about GM's plan to close 16 plants while "dramatically" increasing auto imports from Mexico, South Korea, Japan and China.
The UAW said GM wants to nearly double the number of imports from those countries, which would cost 21,000 unionized jobs south of the border.
GM acknowledged it plans to start importing small cars from China starting in 2011 and gradually bump up the number to 51,000 by 2014. But the company says the percentage of cars made and sold in the U.S. will remain stable, with fewer imports likely from Canada.
Some industry watchers say GM needs to import small cars from countries with lower labour costs to remain competitive.
GM shut down its truck assembly plant in Oshawa last week and plans to close a transmission operation in Windsor next year. At one time in the 1990s, GM had six assembly plants in Canada but now operates only two, one in Oshawa and one in Ingersoll. The Ingersoll plant is a joint venture with Suzuki.
The issue over imports has overshadowed continuing negotiations for worker concessions, particularly in the U.S. GM must reach deals for concessions from workers, debtholders and other stakeholders by June 1 to qualify for billions of dollars in additional aid from governments in both countries. GM has already received $15.4 billion (U.S.) in loans from the American government and another $500 million (Canadian) from Ottawa and the provincial government.
Meanwhile, negotiations for concessions by workers here dragged through the weekend at a downtown hotel without resolution on how to reduce GM's huge underfunded pension plan. The governments had set a "deadline" of last Friday night for a deal.
Sources close to the talks said GM now wants thousands of active workers to start paying into the fund, which had a shortfall of more than $4 billion in 2007. GM has not yet released 2008 figures but experts say the shortfall could now be higher than $7 billion.
GM and Lewenza would not comment on demands, but the union leader said there are "multiple proposals for active workers which are much different" than what Chrysler employees recently accepted so that company could qualify for aid.
"We are close to the end of our ability to give," Lewenza said last night. "Sooner or later, GM and the federal and provincial governments will realize that."
Both sides agree that GM's pension plan is in far worse shape than Chrysler's fund after years of making minimal contributions under a special provision in provincial legislation.
Chrysler workers ratified a deal that froze wages, cut benefits, eliminated bonuses and some vacation time. They also agreed for the first time that new employees would contribute $1 an hour, or about $1,700 annually, to the company's defined pension plan.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Harper sets the stage for bigger deficits...

No doubt Harper must find it difficult to admit that bigger deficits may be necessary. As the opposition points out he has already tried to downplay the size of the deficit. No doubt also the opposition will criticise the size of the deficit while at the same time demanding more stimulus money!
The more immediate crisis is the employment insurance fund. Will Harper make changes to it sufficient to stop the opposition parties from bringing down the government? Watch for the first Dion move by Ignatieff in which he will imitate Dion by supporting the Harper government.

Harper sets the stage for bigger deficits - Canada -
Harper sets the stage for bigger deficits
Will be `as large as they have to be' to save jobs
May 15, 2009 Allan WoodsBruce CampionSmithOttawa bureau
GATINEAU, Que.–The federal deficit will be as large as is needed to help spark the economy and help Canada get through the recession, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.
In a speech to Quebec municipal leaders, Harper urged a speedy start to infrastructure projects in line for stimulus funds and hinted more money would be available if that's what it takes to keep companies solvent and save jobs.
"Our deficits will be large, but they will be temporary. In fact, in the short term, they will be as large as they have to be to help us weather this recession," Harper said. "As a country we can afford it but only if ... the spending ends when the recession ends."
Last January's federal budget estimated Canada would run deficits totaling $85 billion by 2013. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has left open the possibility of more stimulus funding if the recession deepens or if the efforts of the 2009 budget don't do enough to protect the economy.
The opposition said Harper's comments indicate he's setting the stage for an admission his deficit projections are well off the mark, because of poor estimates and earlier measures that have done little for the economy.
"If you look at the government's plan, whether it's on the social program side or on the infrastructure side, it is like reaching into a barrel of Jello and throwing it against the wall and hoping that something will stick," said Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale. "It is a helter-skelter approach and it's not having, so far, any appreciable effect in assisting Canadians in need."
Harper also urged his provincial and municipal counterparts not to let bureaucracy and interprovincial squabbling hold up the flow of cash, even as his own government came under fire for the slow delivery of funds for infrastructure projects.
Months after the federal budget was passed, the Conservatives have yet to deliver the money, said Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay, who accused the government of announcing and re-announcing projects with no concrete results.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird replied that several projects have begun and promised a more detailed accounting in the government's report card to Parliament in June highlighting progress on the stimulus spending.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ignatieff Strikes back at attack ads.

This is from the Star.

Ignatieff certainly makes a point. Also, the ads may indeed help Liberal fundraising but perhaps they may also have an effect on public perception of Ignatieff. The one ad I saw showed Ignatieff talking about the US as his country. That is a good point and could indeed strike a negative response to him in many Canadians. In fact I always considered his saying that a sign that he really favored the US and his defence of the Iraq invasion and of US humanitarian imperialism is part and parcel of the same streak in Ignatieff. However, Harper is no better with his fawning before US conservatives and praising them to the skies. It seems that our two main parties like to present us with ludicrous choices.

Ignatieff strikes back at attack ads - Canada -
Ignatieff strikes back at attack ads
Conservatives trying to 'change the channel' from faltering economy, Liberal leader says
May 15, 2009 Mike Funstonin TorontoBruce Campion-SmithIn Ottawa

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff launched a counter-offensive against Conservative attack ads that depict him as an "arrogant elitist" out of touch with everyday Canadians.
"When you're down in the polls, when you're presiding over the worst collapse in employment in recent memory, when you've got record bankruptcies everywhere you look, the thing you're going to do if you're in government and responsible for this mess is change the channel and that's what they're trying to do," Ignatieff said in Toronto last night.
"Is that serious government? Is that serious politics? That's the kind of government we've got."
The fact that he has "seen Canada from the outside," as a writer, teacher, and reporter does not make him less of a Canadian, Ignatieff told members of the Labourers' International Union of North America and other representatives of the construction industry.
"At any given time, there may be two million Canadian citizens living and working overseas. Is the Conservative party saying these people are less Canadian?"
The Conservative ads, appearing on the Internet and television, portray Ignatieff, who lived abroad for several decades, as an opportunistic interloper who will bolt the country again if he fails in his bid to become prime minister.
"With no long-term commitment to Canada, he's just in it for himself. Michael Ignatieff, just visiting," a narrator says on one ad.
But the ads are winning praise from a strange corner – the national director of the Liberal party.
Rocco Rossi calls the attack ads "manna from heaven," and says they've sparked a rush in donations to the Liberal party from supporters outraged at the Conservative tactics.
It seems the Conservatives, whom Ignatieff has credited with helping unite the Liberals by precipitating last fall's parliamentary showdown, are now helping fill the coffers too.
"They have this innate ability at every turn to help the Liberal party. This is one of their best favours yet," Rossi said in an interview yesterday.
As the Conservative party was flashing around an email Wednesday titled "The Free Ride is Over," highlighting aspects of the negative campaign, the Liberal party sent out its own email declaring "Enough is Enough."
"Unable to provide leadership himself, (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper has launched new ads attempting to divert attention away from his government's failures," the Liberal email said.
"Show your support and let's remind the Conservatives that their games won't work," it said.
The response so far is exceeding expectations, Rossi said.
"We're already showing greater response than any email solicitation that we've done to date. I'm very excited."
The party dramatically boosted its donations in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same time last year, and is on track to do "significantly" better in the second quarter, he said.
In response, the Liberals are painting the Conservatives as living in an "alternate universe," putting their energies into the attacks ads rather than solving the economic crisis.
Ignatieff repeated last night his threat of forcing an election if reforms to employment insurance are not made before the summer.
Ignatieff said he cannot continue to make Parliament work if substantive reforms aren't made to the federal program by the time it rises in June.
"My party wants to get Mr. Harper to make some constructive changes on EI before this summer," Ignatieff said.
Ignatieff's comments came a day after Harper shot down his suggestion for a 360-hour national minimum threshold to qualify for EI benefits. Currently, eligibility and benefits vary by region.
With files from The Canadian Press

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Health Axe hits 100 Alberta managers

While it may seem a good idea to cut management positions rather than front line health workers this may be another step on the road to centralisation and weakening local input into the health system. The province has already taken a giant step in this direction through having a superboard and eliminating more local boards. Everything will be decided by well paid experts with local areas having no power over their own health care.

Health axe hits 100 Alberta managers

Province's doctors told latest cuts in positions just the beginning in effort to reduce costs

By Jodie Sinnema and Trish Audette, The Edmonton JournalMay 15, 2009 7:53 AMAbout 100 management positions will be cut within the next week as Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett reveals more details on the health system's organizational structure.
"The structure means fewer people, but that doesn't necessarily involve layoffs," Duckett said Thursday before speaking at a town hall to several hundred doctors. The 100 positions are just a start to reduce costs, he later told doctors. "We're doing it, but we need to do more."
The cuts come on the heels of Royal Alexandra Hospital's plan to cut 15 per cent of its elective surgeries to save money. The cuts will mean longer waiting times for patients needing new hips and knees, hernia operations or cataract removal. Doctors say cancer patients will also have to wait for surgeries.
Duckett told an auditorium full of Edmonton-area doctors, and others hooked up by video conference in Calgary, that he is still determined to meet "ambitious" goals, including reducing the wait for hip replacements to 26 weeks by 2011-12, down from 33 weeks in March 2008. Knee replacement waits should be down to 26 to 35 weeks from about 47 weeks within three years, says a recently released draft strategy.
"I don't think we'll get much improvement in wait times this year," Duckett told the doctors. "I think this year is the year for sustainability, unfortunately, but it's something I'm committed to."
He said he still supports the health region's mission to improve accessibility, quality and sustainability, and is ready to put his annual bonus on the line if that isn't accomplished.
"Living within our means is not something that Alberta Health Services is used to," he said, referring to previous annual deficits in the Edmonton and Calgary health regions. "It became a matter of pride almost to see that you did actually overspend your budget. In fact, as far as I can work out, it was one of the key skill sets of the management in those areas."
Because the new superboard has limited spending this fiscal quarter to the same amount each centre spent last quarter, Duckett said all hospitals will be held accountable the way the Royal Alexandra Hospital was earlier this week.
"I will be looking and monitoring to see that the same discipline is in place everywhere," he said. He said he hopes to keep layoffs to a minimum by slowing external recruitment and instead using current staff to fill positions, and reduce the annual turnover rate of 6,500 employees.
Dr. Mark Joffe, president of the Capital Region Medical Staff Association which organized the meeting, said he expected more heat from physicians during the meeting.
But Joffe said most believe Duckett is the right person to bring needed reform to the health system.
Joffe said he liked the fact Duckett was honest when he responded to one doctor's question by telling the meeting if patients wait longer for care, it won't save the system money.
"He was frank," Joffe said. "It actually costs more in the long term."
Joffe said he wants equal openness from Health Minister Ron Liepert.
"Our minister of health and wellness needs to be more honest and frank about the system," he said.
David Eggen, executive director of patient advocacy group Friends of Medicare, said the province needs to make its health-care plans clear. He obtained an Alberta Health Services medical staff newsletter that said 10 hospitals in central Alberta will be downgraded to urgent-care centres if the government follows a master plan.
Long-term care facilities and general health centres will also be closed, the March 31 newsletter says.
"People need peace of mind," Eggen said. "We want clarity, we want a system that works for people."
The newsletter says the plan was approved by the former David Thompson health region, but not by the new Alberta Health Services super board. It says:
- Hospitals in Rimbey, Ponoka, Lacombe, Innisfail, Castor, Coronation, Consort, Sundre, Three Hills and Hanna will be downgraded to urgent-care centres.
- Long-term care centres in Bentley, Trochu and Breton would close.
- Health centres in Trochu and Castor would close.
- Build new urgent-care centres in Sylvan Lake and East Red Deer, pushing the number of acute-care beds in the area to 995, an increase of 303 beds. The number of long-term care beds would go to 2,600 from 1,400.
"Part of the problem that we're faced with is the government is making a number of ad-hoc decisions behind closed doors," NDP Leader Brian Mason said.
Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann said contemplating cuts to rural health care discourages doctors from practising in smaller places.
Rob Stevenson, spokesman for Alberta Health Services, said the master plan that talks about the closures and changes hasn't been approved by the health superboard, and discussion about it is premature.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Every nursing cut has negative impact on quality of health care.

This is from the Sault St. Marie Star.

While bankrupt companies are bailed out the social service net is cut to save taxpayer money! Bad economic times are always a good excuse to cut back on the safety net rather than expanding services. Apparently stimulus packages are great as long as they are not in areas such as nursing services.

Every nursing cut has negative impact on quality of health care

Posted 4 hours ago
Across Ontario, health-care facilities are slashing registered nursing positions and cutting thousands of hours of nursing care.
Every RN position cut is the equivalent of 1,950 hours per year less nursing care for the thousands of Ontarians who need it.
The cuts are happening as government policy forces health-care facilities to balance their budgets. Health-care funding has not kept up with costs -- costs have risen 3.5 per cent, and hospital funding was announced in this spring's budget as 2.1 per cent for 2009/10.
Health-care agencies are already "lean" -- cuts have been made for years to balance budgets, and with nowhere left to cut, administrators are turning to nurses, services and bed closures for savings.
Registered nurses are also taxpayers, and we want our tax dollars to be invested wisely, just as every other taxpayer does. But balancing these budgets on the backs of our patients and registered nurses (RNs) must stop.
Every RN position cut means another nurse will have patients added to her existing workload. While being cognizant of the suffering of many Ontarians experiencing job losses, we should all remember that there is a difference when an RN job is cut -for every patient added to a nurse's workload, our patients experience a seven-per-cent increased risk of experiencing serious complications or death.
Quality health care is too important for all of us to stand silently by and let these cuts continue.
As a result of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's mandate for hospitals to balance their budgets, the Sault Area Hospital is cutting 16 full-time registered nursing positions. That equates to 31,200 RN hours being removed from direct bedside care per year. If you want quality patient care, we the Registered Nurses at Sault Area Hospital need you, the public to speak out.
The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has created a new website
(www.cuttingnursescuttingcare. c a) that makes it easy for you to learn more about the cuts that are risking our health. The site includes a link to send a message to your MPP to stop nursing cuts.
Every Ontarian should care deeply about health care, and about the cuts that mean patients' lives are being put in jeopardy.

Brian Cryin Blackmail

This is from the Edmonton Sun.

Of course Schreiber could blackmail Mulroney only because Mulroney had been involved in obviously shady deals with Schreiber. Mulroney looks to be just about as crooked and devious and untruthful as Schreiber. The difference is that Schreiber is likely to end up in jail in Germany while Mulroney received millions from the taxpayer in a suit that he won partly because he did not reveal that he had received envelopes full of cash from Schreiber. According to his testimony he only had coffee with him!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Brian cryin' blackmail
Accuses Schreiber of trying to extort help
Last Updated: 14th May 2009, 2:16am
Former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney accused Karlheinz Schreiber of blackmail yesterday, saying he refused to intervene in Schreiber's extradition case even if it took a toll on his family.
Testifying before the Oliphant Commission which is probing his dealings with Schreiber, Mulroney said a letter Schreiber sent him, asking him to intervene with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government or risk having details of their dealings made public, "was a clear case of extortion and blackmail."
"I knew my family and I would pay a price ... but I was ready to pay that price and more rather than succumb to the demands of a blackmailer. He was asking me to do something not (only) improper, (it was) absolutely illegal -- interfering with the judicial system to stop his extradition to Germany."
Mulroney admitted he made a mistake of his own, by accepting cash and then stashing it away in safes and a safety deposit box.
"What transpired represented a significant error of judgment -- one that I deeply regret and one for which I have paid dearly."
Mulroney also shed more light on what exactly happened to the money he received from the German-born businessman.
While Schreiber has testified he gave Mulroney $300,000, Mulroney maintains he only received $225,000.
A few months after, he became concerned Schreiber would create an income tax problem for him, and more than six years after receiving the last envelope of cash, Mulroney made a voluntary tax disclosure, declaring an extra $37,500 a year of company income for 1996, 1997 and 1998.
Mulroney said the remainder of the money was then his to do with as he pleased.
"I disbursed it to members of my immediate and extended family in Canada and the United States," he said.
Earlier, Mulroney broke down on the stand as he described the toll the fight to clear his name has had on him and his family.
"Nicholas was 10 years old," Mulroney said, his normally confident voice choking back emotion.
Mulroney's lawyer Guy Pratte spent much of the day questioning him about the Airbus affair and the letter the Canadian government sent Swiss authorities in 1995, alleging Mulroney was under investigation for possible criminal activity.
Mulroney said he suddenly found himself fighting the "powerful forces" of the federal government.
"This (was) right out of Kafka," he said, adding there was not a word of truth in the letter.
Mulroney eventually got a $2.1 million out-of-court settlement.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Afghan Govt: 95 children killed in US strike.

While local authorities may very well exaggerate claims the US military is positively ridiculous. They never admit anything and then successively give way in the face of overwhelming evidence against their story but as little as is possible and still pooh pooing evidence from those who were on the scene.

Afghan Govt: 95 Children Killed in US Strike
Posted By Jason Ditz On May 13, 2009 @ 4:36 pm The fallout from last week’s US air strikes in the Farah Province, which an Afghan commission concluded had killed 140 civilians, continued today as an Afghan MP involved in the investigation said that 95 of the dead were actually children (which he defined as under the age of 18). The attack was the single largest instance of US-killed civilians in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.
US Military spokesman Col. Greg Julian was dismissive of the claims, mocking the locals and saying they were unable to tell if 19 or 69 bodies were buried in a mass grave. He also rejected the list of the names of the dead presented earlier this week, saying “I can sit down and give you a list of names too … but the physical evidence doesn’t compare.” Col. Julian went on to suggest that the $2,000 given to the families in compensation for a slain family member was driving civilians to exaggerate the toll.
The military has yet to present its final report on how many civilians it killed, but calls the reports from Afghan officials, which are all in the realm of 130-150 civilians killed, “extremely over-exaggerated.” It took several days before the military was willing to admit that it had killed anyone at all, previously suggesting the whole incident was manufactured by the Taliban.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Liberal win in B.C.

Not much in the way of surprises here although perhaps after the lacklustre performance of the Liberals the NDP might have squeaked through to victory. The turnout was dismal reflecting the dismal choices I expect. Also, it was a bit of a surprise that the STV vote was so disastrous since last time the vote was quite close. In both picking the Liberals and the first past the post the people who bother to vote chose the evil they are already accustomed to.

Campbell wins third straight term in B.C.
Referendum on electoral reform fails
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 13, 2009
CBC News
B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell celebrates his re-election as premier of B.C. (CBC)
B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell has won an historic third straight term as the province's premier. The results in Tuesday's B.C. election show Campbell's Liberals leading with 45.7 per cent of the popular vote, ahead of Carole James's NDP at 42.2 per cent.
With more than 95 per cent of polls reporting, Liberals were on track for a nine-seat margin, but close races in several ridings remained to be decided.
By midnight Tuesday, the Liberals were ahead in 47 ridings, having been elected in 45. The NDP led in 38 ridings, with New Democrats declared elected in 34 of those. The polls closed at 8 p.m. PT.
Six new seats were added to the provincial legislature in Victoria for this election, raising the total number of seats to 85. That means to win a majority, a party needs to elect candidates in at least 43 ridings.
The victory makes Campbell one of only four premiers in B.C. history to win three terms, alongside W.A.C. Bennett, his son Bill Bennett and Richard McBride.
Vote for stability
Campbell once again won his seat in Vancouver Point Grey, this time with nearly 50 per cent of the vote, and appeared on stage at the new convention centre in Vancouver shortly after 10 p.m. PT on Tuesday to give his victory speech.
"This really is a message that people want stability," Campbell told the crowd. "If we work together we will continue to keep B.C. strong."
In a wide ranging speech that touched on familiar themes from the campaign, including climate change, aboriginal reconciliation and job creation, Campbell promised to continue on much the same path his government had taken in his previous terms.
"We are going through difficult economic times," he said, reaching out to B.C.'s growing ranks of unemployed. "We will not let them down. We will create jobs in every region of this province."
Campbell also thanked his opponents, NDP Leader Carole James and Green party Leader Jane Sterk, and the voters, saying it is "critically important that we find ways to work together in B.C."
Laughing and joking with his family on stage, he looked to his grandchildren saying, "We are dedicating ourselves to the next generation, and generation that follows them."
He also took a moment to look forward to the Olympics, a major focus over his past two terms as premier and restate one of his familiar themes.
"In just eight months — eight months from tonight — we will be in Vancouver with the world's eyes upon us," he said. "And as we do that, know this: This is the best place to live, with the best people, with the most opportunities."
In Victoria, B.C. NDP Leader James was re-elected in Victoria-Beacon Hill and told CBC News that for now she plans to stay on to lead her party in the coming term, but will reflect on the loss in the days ahead.
The Green party managed to capture 8.2 per cent of the popular vote, but failed to win a single seat, including leader Jane Sterk, who was defeated in her riding of Esquimalt-Royal Roads.
Electoral reform referendum fails
British Columbians also voted not to change the way they elect future provincial governments to the legislative assembly in Victoria. Less than 40 per cent of voters supported the proposed BC-STV system in the referendum on electoral reform. The referendum required more than 60 per cent support for the proposed system to be adopted.
Campbell, centre, Maple Ridge-Mission candidate Marc Dalton, left, and Kevin Falcon, the Liberal candidate in the riding of Surrey-Cloverdale, tour the new Pitt River Bridge during the campaign. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)The campaign for B.C.'s 39th general election officially kicked off April 14, with Liberal Leader Campbell looking to form his third straight government since 2001 and NDP Leader James looking to form her first.
Along the campaign trail, both parties had their share of gaffes, but for the most part, it was a race with few surprises and no major policy shifts that struggled to gain the public's attention.
The B.C. Liberals' campaign focused heavily on the economy, which polls consistently ranked as the No. 1 issue for voters. The NDP ran a more diverse campaign that focused heavily on Campbell's record on hot-button issues such as the collapse of B.C.'s forestry industry, questions about the government sale of BC Rail and funding levels for education, health care and seniors care.
James, right, and Vancouver-West End candidate Spencer Herbert hit the streets to campaign together during the election. (CBC) A key challenge for James was her decision to oppose the Campbell government's carbon tax, which led many prominent environmentalists, including David Suzuki, to speak out against her. On the other hand, many environmentalists supported her promise to put a moratorium on the many run-of-river private power projects begun under the Liberals.
For the most part, the two major parties dominated the election, but the Green Party of B.C. ran candidates in every riding, and the B.C. Conservative Party ran candidates in more than 20 ridings.
Voter turnout was 52 per cent, down about eight per cent from the 2005 general election.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swing ridings hold key in B.C.

This is decision day in BC. I know little about the situation but thought this information about swing ridings might be useful. The polls seem to vary. Some indicate the race is quite close but others give the Liberals a considerable lead. I suspect that the Liberals will win but hope I am wrong. Many BCers remember the NDP times as being bad but then present times are hardly that great either. So it is a choice between two evils both of which you know!

Swing ridings hold key to B.C. election race

CBC News
When the polls close in British Columbia at 8 p.m. PT Tuesday, about a dozen extremely close races could hold the key to who ends up premier of Canada's West Coast province.
Heading into the final stretch of the campaign, the most recent polls suggest B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell holds a narrow lead over NDP Leader Carole James. But even with that lead, many commentators say, the election outcome is too close to call for a wide range of reasons.
Six new ridings have been created, and the boundaries for all but a handful of the existing ridings have changed, some significantly, making it very difficult to make predictions based on past results.
As well, in 17 ridings, the previous MLAs, including 14 Liberals, are not running again, meaning many ridings are wide-open races between new candidates. Those can also be difficult to predict.
Too close to call
Third, the two main parties are both facing challengers who might siphon off their votes in key ridings. The Green Party of B.C. has been polling as high as 10 per cent in polls, and in urban ridings where voters are angry about the NDP's opposition to the carbon tax, their votes could be pivotal.
Meanwhile, polls suggest the B.C. Conservatives could pick up a few percentage points from the Liberals, particular in the Fraser Valley and key ridings in the southern Interior, where voters are very unhappy with the Liberals' carbon tax and other issues.
And finally, under the province's current electoral system, even if a party wins the most votes provincially, it can still lose the election if it doesn't win those votes in the right seats.
That's exactly happened in 1996. Campbell's Liberals won 41.8 per cent of the vote and the NDP under Glen Clark won only 39.5 per cent province-wide, but the NDP won the election with 39 seats, while the Liberals took 33.
The CBC has identified the following seats as key races as voters head to the polls on Tuesday.
Delta South
One of the stars of the B.C. Liberal team, Wally Oppal moved to this suburban riding south of Vancouver from his old riding of Vancouver-Fraserview. Oppal lives in the riding but is up against a strong local challenger, Independent Vicki Huntington, whose five terms on the local council have allowed her to build a very strong base of support. Oppal also has to overcome the legacy of a very unpopular high-voltage power line that was pushed through the community, potentially turning many voters away from the Liberals.
Last election Huntington won 33 per cent of the vote, but the seat was taken by Liberal Val Roddick with 37 per cent. One interesting possible outcome from this riding is if Huntington does win as an Independent, and if the Liberals and NDP split the province's remaining 84 seats, she could end up holding the balance of power in the legislature.
Cariboo North and Cariboo-Chilcotin
Both the NDP and Liberals have been campaigning hard in these two Interior ridings, with both leaders visiting more than once during the election.
In the last election, New Democrat Bob Simpson won Cariboo North by fewer than 300 votes, but the seat has a habit of swinging widely each election.
In the new riding of Cariboo-Chilcotin, NDP incumbent Charlie Wyse is hoping to carry his support over from his old seat of Cariboo South. But he won the 2005 election race by only 114 votes, and the Liberals are hoping to take at least one these seats.
In elections since 1991, voters in the four ridings of the Metro Vancouver suburb of Burnaby have chosen candidates from the winning party in all but one case, making the quartet of seats remarkable bellwethers for B.C. elections. The one exception was in Burnaby-Edmonds in 2005, where New Democrat Raj Chouhan defeated Liberal Patty Sahota by 738 votes.
For this election, several of the ridings have been reorganized, but all four Burnaby seats are still likely to be very close races. Besides Burnaby-Edmonds, the other three races break down this way:
In Burnaby North, the Liberals won the riding in 2005 by fewer than 100 votes.
Burnaby-Lougheed was created in 2008, but includes a large part of the old Burquitlam riding, where Liberal Harry Bloy won by 372 votes in 2005.
Burnaby-Deer Lake was also created in 2008, largely from the riding of Burnaby Willingdon, which Liberal John Nuraney won by fewer than 400 votes last election. This time he will face the wife of the city's mayor, Kathy Corrigan.
Kootenay East
Liberal incumbent Bill Bennett is facing a tough challenge from the NDP in this riding, which has been hit hard by job losses in the forestry industry. Bennett won the riding in 2005 by fewer than 700 votes.
Bennett was kicked out of cabinet last term because of some strongly worded emails to his constituents, and during this campaign he's taken a lot of heat for a newspaper advertisement that offended his First Nations opponent and an offer of free beer at a local pub, but it is unclear how that might affect his support in the region.
The NDP has been campaigning hard in this riding, and on his other flank, Bennett is also facing off against B.C. Conservative party Leader Wilf Hanni, which could cost him enough votes to lose the seat.
Vancouver Fraserview
Crime is a big issue in this south Vancouver riding that was last held by Liberal Wally Oppal, who won the seat by more than 1,100 votes in 2005. But Oppal vacated the seat to allow former West Vancouver police chief Kash Heed to run for the Liberals, and it's not yet clear whether the untested politician will be able to carry over Oppal's support.
NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu has run a tough campaign, but he's also fighting off Green candidate Jodie Emery, formerly of the Marijuana party, who is likely to nab several percentage points from his share of the vote, so this could be anyone's race.
North Island
This is the largest riding on Vancouver Island and was won by the NDP's Claire Trevena in 2005 by 660 votes. But the riding also has a large First Nations population, whose leaders have been supportive of Liberal Leader Campbell's independent power projects, a hot-button issue in the area.
Traditionally the riding has voted NDP, but in 2001 it did go Liberal when the Green party candidate won 11.9 per cent of the vote, cutting into NDP support.
This new riding was created in 2008 with a large chunk of one riding that went to the B.C. Liberals in 2005 and smaller parts of two other ridings that fell to the NDP. But in 2009, no incumbents are running from either of the main parties, leaving the race wide open with a full slate of new candidates.
Along with the two main parties, there is a strong B.C. Conservative candidate, Joe Cardoso, who was dropped by the B.C. Liberals after winning their nomination, and a Green party candidate to consider — meaning this riding will be difficult to predict

Monday, May 11, 2009

CAW: GM bankruptcy likely.

What is clear from the article is that the Canadian government has allowed GM not to adequately fund their pension plan so that the pensioners would still be OK even when the company was not. At least it is good to know that courts have so far never touched pension benefits but that does not solve the problem of how they are to be financed!

GM bankruptcy likely: CAW - Business - GM bankruptcy likely: CAW
Ottawa, Queen's Park order union to slash costs or aid will be denied and GM will face liquidation
May 08, 2009 Tony Van AlphenBusiness Reporter
General Motors will probably seek bankruptcy court protection in Canada and the U.S. in its fight for survival, a top union leader warns.
Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, said yesterday the company's worsening financial condition is increasing the likelihood of court protection from creditors in both countries.
"It is very clear General Motors is in serious trouble," he said.
His remarks came after parent GM Corp. reported it lost $6 billion (U.S.), the equivalent of $7 billion Canadian, in the first quarter, as revenues tumbled 47 per cent due to consumers' fears that the company could collapse and stop honouring warranties. GM, which doesn't break out the financial performance of its Canadian arm, has lost $82 billion since 2004.
Lewenza said the federal and Ontario governments have issued an ultimatum to the union that if it doesn't agree to significant concessions within the next week, they won't provide billions of dollars in crucial public aid and the company will face liquidation.
"If we don't get a deal, the governments will provide no financing and GM Canada will be liquidated," he said. "Plants will close, jobs will be gone, retiree benefits are gone and the pensions are sacrificed. This is an unbelievable situation."
GM must submit new restructuring plans to Ottawa and the province by June 1 to qualify for more than $8 billion (Canadian). It has already received $500 million.
That sets up the prospect of more than 9,000 GM workers voting on concessions for the third time in a year to help offset the company's plummeting fortunes.
Lewenza noted that if GM moves to bankruptcy court proceedings, the union will gain assurances that workers won't face additional concessions beyond the cuts from bargaining during the next week.
The latest negotiations at GM follow a recent concession deal at Chrysler that saw workers vote overwhelmingly to accept about $240 million in labour cost savings annually to save plants and jobs.
That hasn't led to much stability at Chrysler, which filed for bankruptcy court protection in the U.S., despite deals with workers and most stakeholders.
That triggered a halt in production at almost all of the company's North American operations, including two assembly plants in Canada.
Meanwhile, CAW leaders expressed frustration at government demands for both sides to deal with a massive deficit of more than $4 billion in GM's pension plan and the formation of a retiree health-care trust during the negotiations. Talks will start Sunday or Monday.
"It's absolutely impossible that we can do this at the bargaining table," Lewenza said.
CAW officials repeated that the Ontario government needs to accept responsibility for allowing GM to not properly fund the pension plan and said Ottawa must make tax changes so a health-care trust can work.
They also said it is difficult to compete on labour costs with Toyota Canada when the governments include pension expenses. Toyota has few pensioners; Chrysler has a ratio of 1.5 retirees for every active worker, while GM will have a five-to-one ratio within the next year.
"We can become fully competitive if we threw 25,000 (GM) retirees overboard," union economist Jim Stanford said. "Is that what the government wants when it tells us to equalize our costs?"
Lewenza added he finds it incredible that the governments want more concessions at GM when the company has already indicated it is satisfied with cuts that will make it competitive with rivals in the U.S.
But Michael Bryant, Ontario's minister of economic development and trade, eased retirees' concerns by saying the cost cuts won't affect retiree pensions, even in bankruptcy court proceedings.
"No Canadian judge has ever touched a retiree's pension in the history of CCAA (the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act)," he said.
In Ottawa, NDP MP Malcolm Allen (Welland) accused Industry Minister Tony Clement of asking auto workers to sacrifice more than other stakeholders.
Clement replied in the House of Commons that everyone must co-operate in the restructuring.
"What will not work is if the union heads do not want to be part of the solution," Clement added. "Then the choice of the workers is to have a job that is cost-competitive or to have no job at all."
With files from Les Whittington and Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Government will appeal Omar Khadr order..

This is not surprising. Harper has been consistent in refusing to budge on this issue and thus in effect implying that the justice system at Guantanamo was just hunky dory. Maybe his reactionary consistency will pay off since it seems as if Obama may after all set up military tribunals himself. Now surely an Obama military tribunal must be acceptable to all good liberals and not an abomination!

Government will appeal Omar Khadr order - SpecialSections - Government will appeal Omar Khadr order

Canadian detainee Omar Khadr at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in December. His fate is now in the hands of the Obama administration.
Harper government seeks appeal of judicial order to seek the return of Omar Khadr from Gitmo
May 08, 2009 Joanna SmithTonda MacCharlesOttawa bureau
OTTAWA – The federal government has decided to file an appeal rather than abide by a judicial order to seek the return of Omar Khadr, jailed in a Guantanamo Bay prison, to Canada.
In an Ottawa courtroom, federal lawyer Elizabeth Richards made a casual reference to the Khadr appeal while presenting arguments in a completely separate application regarding the repatriation of Abousfian Abdelrazik, who has been living inside the Canadian embassy in Sudan for more than a year.
There was no formal announcement made publicly of the decision. The federal government had up to 30 days to file an appeal.
Canadian lawyer Nathan Whitling, acting for Khadr, confirmed the appeal was filed in an email to the Star.
"We're disappointed that Prime Minister Harper refuses to be part of the solution to the Guantanamo problem faced by President Obama," said Whitling. "This appeal is grounded upon the view that the Government of Canada may participate in the torture of a Canadian child without consequence."
The government decision comes just two weeks after a Federal Court judge ruled the Conservative government should seek the repatriation of the young man from Guantanamo Bay where he remains imprisoned on charges of murder and bomb-making, in connection with the death of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon had signalled the government would take the appeal route, rather than abide by the judicial order.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly insisted the Toronto-born Khadr, 22, is facing "serious charges" and that the American justice process must play out.
Federal Court Justice James O'Reilly ruled Canada denied Khadr his constitutional right to a fair trial and violated international law that protects children captured in armed conflict. He concluded the government must request the "United States return Mr. Khadr to Canada as soon as practicable."
Khadr was shot and captured in Afghanistan in 2002. He was one of 20 charged with conspiring with Al Qaeda and throwing the grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.