Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tom Flanagan: Ignatieff repeats Harper's Errors

Although I am at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Flanagan most of his articles that I have read are far better than most of the fluff that passes for political commentary in Canada. His articles are almost always interesting and perceptive and in this case place Ignatieff's actions in a unique historical perspective. At one time Flanagan was a Conservative campaign manager and close to Harper. I am not sure what the situation is now.

Ignatieff needs a history lesson

Tom Flanagan

From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 6:59PM EDT

Last updated on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 2:51AM EDT

.Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana

The leader of the opposition, after supporting the minority government's budget, decides that he would like to force an election after all. He publicly announces his intention to defeat the government, leaving the prime minister lots of time to react. Then the roof caves in at Stornoway.

The government whips up a storm of public opposition to an election, telling people that they will lose benefits that were in the budget but have not yet passed through Parliament. Helping the government to survive, Jack Layton offers crucial support in return for policy concessions that will please NDP supporters. At a major turning point, the unity of the opposition is threatened as the leader loses the support of a key member of the caucus.

Public reaction is savage. People say they don't want an election, and the opposition falls to rock-bottom standing in the polls while the government soars. Pundits indulge in a feeding frenzy over the badly wounded body of the opposition leader. They deride his strategy. They demand that he reveal the platform he will run on in the next election campaign. They speculate that his political career is over. In response, the leader replaces his chief of staff and contemplates further changes in his retinue.

A description of Michael Ignatieff's last two months? Of course.

But every word also describes what happened to Stephen Harper in the spring of 2005. After initially supporting Paul Martin's budget, Mr. Harper decided to defeat the government when embarrassing revelations started to trickle out from the Gomery inquiry into the Liberal sponsorship scandal.

Then everything happened as just described. The government mobilized public opinion against an election, the NDP changed sides, Belinda Stronach defected to the Liberals, Conservative poll numbers nosedived, Mr. Harper was savaged in the media and he reorganized his office.

A few conclusions seem obvious. First, it is useful to read history. Several recent books have described what happened to Mr. Harper in 2005, so it is hard to see why the Liberals would rush to repeat all the same mistakes. Although Mr. Ignatieff is a noted scholar, his job as leader means he doesn't have much time to read, but doesn't anyone on his staff read books about their opponents? When I published Harper's Team , Mr. Harper was peeved I was putting out too much information, but to judge from the Liberals' carelessness, he needn't have worried.

Second, if you're going to defeat the government, do it quickly. After three elections in five years, Canadians are tired of going to the polls. Governments have many means to excite public opinion against those who would force an election, and it's even easier to do so in the midst of a global recession. Mr. Harper learned the risks of giving the government time to react, so he dispatched Paul Martin quickly in November, 2005.

Third, if you're going to defeat the government, it helps to have a reason beyond thinking that you might be able to win the next election. The public knows that everything politicians do is motivated to a degree by partisan self-interest, but they also expect to see some concern for the public good. Having voted in the House of Commons for all of Mr. Harper's major policies, Mr. Ignatieff couldn't offer any cogent reason for saying on Sept. 1, “Mr. Harper, your time is up.”

Mr. Ignatieff has messed up big-time, but the outlook doesn't have to be entirely bleak. Since he has been imitating Mr. Harper so closely, he can take solace from the fact that the Conservative leader bounced back, winning the next election and becoming prime minister less than a year after his time of troubles in spring 2005.

Replacing a chief of staff won't solve anything (in politics, the person who is fired is seldom to blame for what went wrong), but it can be an occasion for starting over.

The key is self-interrogation. Someone who wants the ultimate prize of becoming PM has to accept responsibility for all the things that go wrong along the way and figure out how not to repeat those errors (while realizing he will inevitably make others). That's the most important lesson of Mr. Harper's annus horribilis of 2005: that a leader can rebound from disaster to triumph if he accepts responsibility for his mistakes and learns to avoid them in the future.

Tom Flanagan is a professor of political science at the University of Calgary and a former federal Conservative campaign manager.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Conservative continue to lead Liberals by wide margin

Although the Conservatives are only increasing their lead marginally the NDP improved a couple of percentage points. Among leaders Layton has the best showing with Ignatieff far the worst. The Liberal party must be starting to wonder how much better off they are for having dumped Dion! Ignatieff unceremoniously dumped the Green Shift now in the face of the polls he has dumped the dump Harper policy. Maybe the Liberals will bring out the knives and begin a dump Ignatieff campaign.

Conservatives keep lead in poll
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives are polling nearly enough support for a majority government, according to the latest EKOS numbers. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Support for the Conservative Party continued to hold last week, according to the latest poll results from EKOS.

Among decided respondents, the Conservatives drew 38.4 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 26.8 per cent and the New Democratic Party at 16.7 per cent.

The Green Party had the support of 9.9 per cent of decided respondents, while the Bloc Québécois had 8.2 per cent support, according to the EKOS poll, which was released exclusively to CBC.

Last week, the Conservatives stood at 38.3 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 27.1 per cent, the NDP at 14.5 per cent, the Green Party at 11 per cent, and the BQ at nine per cent.

Respondents in the automated telephone survey are asked: "If an election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?" The poll reached 3,220 respondents between Oct. 21 and Oct. 27. The results carry a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

EKOS also asked Canadians their thoughts on the leadership of Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton, asking if any of the three should be removed immediately as leader of their respective party.

On Jack Layton, 51 per cent of respondents indicated they thought Layton should remain at the helm of the NDP, while 25 per cent said he should be replaced.

Layton had the high-water mark of support among the three leaders. On Harper, 45 per cent said he should stay, while 40 per cent said he should be replaced.

Michael Ignatieff's support was the weakest: 31 per cent of respondents said he should stay, while 46 per cent said he should go.

Ignatieff made changes in his inner circle this week. Late Tuesday, Ignatieff announced that Peter Donolo was taking over as the Liberal leader's chief of staff. Donolo left his post at the Strategic Counsel, a Toronto polling firm, to replace Ian Davey, a longtime Ignatieff supporter.

Donolo was a communications director for former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Harper to visit India and China for the first time.

These visits and increased trade ties with both countries make a great deal of sense. Canada is overly dependent with trade with the US. Given our geographical location and our vast natural resources it is natural that the US is our largest trading partner but it makes a great deal of sense to have a more diversified trading pattern and sell our resources where we can get the best return. With growing economies both India and China will be willing to pay a good price for raw materials necessary to fuel their growing economies.

Harper to visit India, China for 1st time
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced plans to visit two of the world's emerging economic superpowers — China and India — for the first time this fall.

Harper will travel to India — where Canada recently opened new trade offices in Hyderabad, Calcutta and Ahmedabad — from Nov. 16 to 18 after meeting APEC leaders in Singapore, his office said in a statement released Wednesday in Ottawa.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day says Canada hopes to double bilateral trade with India — which currently stands at about $4.5 billion — by 2014.

“We share a history of cooperation in the Commonwealth and the United Nations, as well as a shared commitment to pluralism, democracy, human rights and the rule of law," Harper said in a statement.

"Our goal is to build a stronger, more dynamic partnership based on shared commercial, political and regional interests.”

The PMO also confirmed long-expected plans to visit China from Dec. 2 to 6.

"Our two countries enjoy a growing partnership, sharing significant interests in trade and investment, the environment and regional security," Harper said in a statement.

"Canada is committed to a strong relationship with China that reflects our mutual respect and the need for practical co-operation."

The importance of both countries to strengthening Canada's global trade ties is evidenced by the fact that there have been 11 ministerial-level visits to India and 18 to China since Harper's minority government was first elected in 2006.

However, relations with China have also been strained during Harper's tenure.

After Parliament unanimously adopted a motion giving honorary Canadian citizenship to the Dalai Lama in 2006, China threatened to use its considerable economic strength to penalize Canada.

In 2007, Harper warned China not to threaten Canada with economic repercussions for bringing up the Asian country's human rights record and standing up for the rights of Canadians abroad.

Harper was referring to the case of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian activist jailed in China for alleged terrorist links.

China is Canada's third-largest export destination, after the United States and the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Former Canwest workers protest severance pay..

Not only are workers losing their jobs during the recession and still doing so when the recession is supposedly over but they are losing benefits as well. Not only investors lose during bankruptcy proceedings but so do the workers as is evident in this case. There should be some type of insurance fund so that when these events happen the workers still get their contractual entitlements.

Former Canwest workers protest outside court hearing issues of severance
(CP) –
TORONTO — Former employees of Canwest Global Communications are demonstrating outside a downtown Toronto courthouse where lawyers are discussing their severance pay.
About 100 former Canwest staff and union members are outside the court with signs calling for their severance payments to be resumed.
It's the first time that the court has talked in detail about the money owed to Canwest staff who were laid off from the media conglomerate, which filed for creditor protection in some of its divisions earlier this month.
Their severance payments were essentially locked up when Canwest filed for creditor protection, and former workers will have to line up with all others who are owed money by Canwest to make a claim.
A lawyer proposing to represent former Canwest staff who were members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union asked the judge to grant funding to help the union pay for lawyers.
He says the CEP can't afford to foot the legal bills because it has lost many of its paying members in the economic downturn.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Conservatives to introduce tighter parole rules for non-violent offenders.

The Conservatives are now beginning to implement their help the prison-industrial complex agenda which is easy to sell since the public for the most part will always buy into a be harsh on crime program. Some Liberals may object and the NDP but they will do nothing. Not only do they not want to bring down the government but they do not want to appear as soft on crime. Of course jails are tremendously expensive and conservatives always worry about govt. expenditures and entitlements. But criminals need not worry about their entitlements to go to prison! That is safe and even expanding.

Tories propose tighter parole rules

CBC News
Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan says non-violent criminals such as fraudsters and drug dealers should have to earn the right to parole. (Canadian Press)
The federal government said Monday it will introduce legislation to crack down on early parole for non-violent offenders, a move it says will augment proposed tougher sentences for white-collar criminals.
The new legislation will change existing laws that allow non-violent criminals convicted of a first offence to be eligible for early parole after serving just one-sixth of their sentences and full parole after serving one-third of their sentences, said Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan at a press conference in Montreal.
He said under the current laws, criminals such as fraudsters and drug dealers are routinely granted parole in these circumstances, unless the parole board believes the parolees might commit violent crimes.
Van Loan proposes changes that will require criminals to demonstrate they have earned their parole.
"This will move us one step closer to a system of parole in which early release is a privilege granted only to those who have shown they are committed to rehabilitation rather than a right granted to every criminal," he said.
Conservative push for tougher sentencing
The Conservative government has introduced a number of bills to lengthen prison sentences for people convicted of crimes. In June, the government introduced legislation to repeal the "faint hope clause" that allows people convicted of first- and second-degree murder to apply for early parole.
Parliament gave approval last week to Bill C-25, which does away with a judge's ability to give two-for-one credit to criminals for time spent in pretrial custody.
And Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has also proposed tougher measures for white-collar criminals, including two-year minimum sentences in fraud cases involving more than $1 million.
Van Loan said while tougher sentences for white-collar criminals are welcome, they won't be effective unless parole laws are also changed.
"It’s one thing to increase sentences," he said. "It’s another thing to make sure criminals actually serve out their time before they’re released back into our communities."
Van Loan said the new measure will cost taxpayers about $60 million a year to pay to keep the non-violent criminals in prisons, but he described the cost as a bargain relative to the amount of money fraudsters have reportedly stolen from individuals.
The move to impose harsher penalties on white-collar criminals comes after a number of high-profile cases in Canada this year.
In Alberta last month, two men were charged in a scheme that police say robbed about 4,000 investors of up to $400 million. And in Quebec, Montreal investment dealer Earl Jones is facing fraud charges over an alleged Ponzi scheme that led to the disappearance of over $50 million in investors' savings.
Critics of the Conservative initiatives have suggested they will do little to actually discourage white-collar crime.
Duff Conacher, a coordinator for Democracy Watch, said last week that the U.S. experience shows that high penalties do not decrease the rate of corporate crime, even in countries with a national securities commission.
"The regulators either don't have the resources or the tough enforcement attitude to have a high chance of catching fraudsters," Conacher said.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ignatieff has been reading the polls again!

Perhaps the Liberals should have a genuine leadership convention before they try to topple the Conservatives. Ignatieff now has given the Conservatives carte blanche. He is just asking Harper to present him with a poison pill that will make him look even more unprincipled than he appears at the moment. Suddenly when the polls go down somewhat Harper's government is no longer so bad that it needs to go. This is a great Xmas present for Harper but Ignatieff could have waited a while before giving it to him.

Ignatieff retreats from trying to topple Harper

Liberal leader says they won't try again until spring election

By Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News ServiceOctober 20, 2009

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Tuesday his party will no longer seek to defeat the Harper government, suggesting the Conservatives will remain in power until at least next spring's federal budget.
"We've said clearly we won't support the government but, at the same time, we won't try to defeat the government each time," Ignatieff told reporters Tuesday after making an appearance at a daycare in Ottawa.
Earlier this month, the governing Conservatives survived a non-confidence motion introduced by the Liberals. On Tuesday, Ignatieff wouldn't commit to tabling another such motion the next time the Liberals have the opportunity.
"I won't say but, as I've said, we won't support these people, because we're the opposition. But we're not trying to create opportunities to trigger an election," he said.
"Canadians have clearly said they don't want an election, and they haven't just said that to me, they've told that to all the parties, and we have to respect what the Canadian voters think."
Liberal officials sought to downplay Ignatieff's comments Tuesday, noting he has made similar statements in recent weeks. Nevertheless, it is clear the Liberal leader's tone has softened since early September, when he declared he would no longer support the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"After four years of drift, four years of denial, four years of division and discord -- Mr. Harper, your time is up," Ignatieff said at the time. "The Liberal party cannot support this government any further. We will hold Stephen Harper to account. We will oppose his government in Parliament."
The Liberals hoped the hard-line stance would help them build credibility as a government-in-waiting. But in recent weeks, the party has slid in the polls as the Conservatives have climbed close to majority territory.
In an Ipsos Reid poll released last week, the Conservatives stood at 39% in national support, compared with 29% for the Liberals.
Opposition parties can introduce non-confidence motions against the government on so-called "opposition days" in the House of Commons. There are five remaining opposition days until the House of Commons breaks for the holidays in December, and the Liberals are expected to get their next one early next month.
The Bloc Quebecois supported the last Liberal non-confidence motion, but the NDP abstained from the vote, allowing the Conservatives to survive.
The NDP has said it will support the government until Parliament passes legislation to expand EI benefits.
A Liberal source said Tuesday that the party will wait to see how the political winds are blowing before deciding whether to table another non-confidence motion.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Iranian Press reports on Hillier book!

This is from an Iranian news agency. It is a bit surprising that they should notice Hillier's book and write an article about it. Hillier is probably correct that the NATO mission has not been successful and certainly not supported in the way that the military would like. However, from what is said here it would seem that Hillier is not really sympathetic to the political difficulties involved and is gung ho for a military solution. In my opinion NATO should never have been there in the first place and is just being used as a helpmate for a U.S. agenda. The entire extension of NATO's role was a farce from the beginning simply spreading the burden of US imperium on other countries.

Afghanistan to be graveyard of NATO alliance?
As public support for the Afghan war rapidly falls in NATO countries, the head of the alliance has stepped up efforts to keep member-states united. On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke before a meeting with alliance defense ministers in Bratislava on a new approach against the widening Taliban insurgency. "We all have to achieve more in training and equipping the Afghan security forces," Rasmussen told a security conference before the ministers' meeting in the Slovak capital, which is not expected to announce decisions on troop levels.
Meanwhile, Canada's former top general has said that the setbacks in Afghanistan have greatly damaged NATO's credibility. Almost eight years on, a continued lack of focus and resolve in Afghanistan will be NATO's undoing, retired general and former Canadian chief of defense staff Rick Hillier warned in a new book. Hillier wrote in his autobiography, to be published next week, that "Afghanistan has revealed that NATO has reached the stage where it is a corpse, decomposing" and in need of "lifesaving" otherwise "the alliance will be done." He said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is vulnerable to "any major setback" in Afghanistan and faces extinction unless it can "snatch victory out of feeble efforts." In the book, "A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War," Hillier says no Western country had predicted an Afghan resurgence following the early success of the US invasion in 2001. When Hillier took command of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) years later, "It was crystal clear from the start that there was no strategy for the mission in Afghanistan," he wrote. "NATO had started down a road that destroyed much of its credibility and in the end eroded support for the mission in every nation in the alliance. ....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hillier, the usual line...

No way to escape Afghan combat post-2011, Hillier says
A prominent theme in retired general's new book is a distaste for politicians, bureaucrats who acted in their own interests
Allan Woods Ottawa Bureau

I certainly agree with Hiller that if Canada stays in Afghanistan in a non-combat role that troops will still be involved in combat. In fact that is the reason why Canada should put out period. No doubt whatever govt. is in power will try to argue for a new role. Perhaps even the NDP could be sold on this. My own view is that Canada should not have been in Afghanistan in the first, that the occupation was illegal and the fig leaf now covering ISAF is a travesty just as was the UN resolution that legalised the US and allies occupation of Iraq.

OTTAWA – Pulling Canadian soldiers out of Afghanistan in 2011 will leave a gaping hole in security efforts and won't necessarily ensure the end of combat operations, former chief of defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier says.
As MPs prepare to debate the future of the country's military mission in Afghanistan, Hillier delivered some plain-spoken advice in an interview with the Toronto Star: don't trust the twisted rhetoric and outright lies that will surely be delivered by the Conservative government or the opposition parties.
There will still be a need for security and counter-insurgency operations when Canada's current mandate expires in 2011, he said. If experienced Canadian troops leave Kanadhar, some other nation, likely less familiar with the local terrain and power brokers, will have to do the job.
Hillier also said there's also no need for Canadian troops, except in Kandahar or the northeast, and there's no way Canada can carry out a goodwill mission without encountering frequent violence.
"If you stay in the south and try to do something like training, you will still be in combat. I don't care what (political) staffers say in the media about how they can find a way to do it. You simply will not. You will be in combat," Hillier said during a promotional interview for his new book, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War.
Living behind blast walls and trying to carry out aid and reconstruction projects are futile, and potentially dangerous in a country where NATO and insurgent forces are battling for the trust of the local population.
"It would be like going to shore at Normandy on the sixth of June (1944) and driving around . . . sightseeing and leaving the enemy the opportunity, flexibility and initiative to attack you when they want," Hillier said.
The advice from the most politically savvy soldier to lead the Canadian Forces in memory won't be welcomed by MPs of any stripe: all are driving for a reduced presence in Afghanistan eight years after it was invaded by the United States.
But Hillier said his intent, both as chief of defence staff and now as a former general, was never to be "politically palatable."
He rarely was. His three-year term will be remembered for dubbing the years of mostly Liberal rule in the 1990s the "Decade of Darkness," branding the Taliban "scumbags and murderers," and for musing about a 10-year fight for the future of Afghanistan when the government had committed Canadian troops to only two years down the line.
"I always tried to speak frankly and clearly and to say whatever I believed was right," Hillier said. "The military knew what it was doing on the ground there and what was needed, and to have people and staffers coming out and saying that we can do this job in two years or five years, or we can train without being in combat . . . it's just baloney."
The most prominent theme in Hillier's autobiography is a distaste for politicians who cast aside responsible, realistic and professional assessments to impose their own torqued political imperatives and for bureaucrats who would rather protect their turf in Ottawa than Canadian soldiers in a war zone.
Those were the defining characteristics of the capital during the Liberal and Conservative minority parliaments from 2005 to 2008. he said.
"It's a terrible, terrible environment in which to work," he said. "Very vitriolic. We've been in that now for five years and it doesn't appear that we're going to break out of it."
What's lost are the courageous long-term commitments necessary to fight a tough war, or rebuild the Canadian military, in favour of short-term government gambles or unfair opposition criticisms that sell well with the electorate.
An analysis he conducted of the daily question-and-answer question period in the House of Commons found about 150 questions in one session of Parliament on military and defence issues. The vast majority focused on the treatment of suspected insurgents by Canadian soldiers, and whether they were abused in local Afghan-run jails – a matter Hillier views as a tempest in an Afghan teapot.
"I'm not sure our parliamentary system right now is delivering really what Canadians would like to have," he said. "That's a big thing to wrestle to the ground, but it was a tough environment in which to work, and many times it was disappointing."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conservatives Still Lead Liberals but gap closes slightly.

Obviously Ignatieff emphasizes turfing out the Conservatives less. However, he claims he will continue to vote against them on confidence motions. He had better hope the Bloc or NDP save Harper or should I say save Ignatieff!

Conservatives maintain poll lead
Last Updated: Thursday, October 22, 2009
CBC News
Federal voting intentions were polled by EKOS between Oct. 14 and Oct. 20. (EKOS)
The Conservative Party maintained its substantial advantage over the Liberal Party in the latest weekly poll from EKOS.
According to the latest poll, which was released exclusively to the CBC, the Conservatives had the support of 38.3 per cent of respondents, down from 40.7 per cent last week.
Liberal support rose to 27.1 per cent from 25.5 per cent.
The NDP rose 0.2 percentage points to 14.5 per cent, while Green Party support grew half a percentage point to 11 per cent.
Support for the Bloc Québécois slipped by 0.1 percentage points to nine per cent.
The latest EKOS poll was conducted by phone between Oct. 14 and Oct. 20. EKOS asked 3,270 Canadians how they would vote were an election held tomorrow. Both landline and cellphone users were included. The results have an error margin of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
EKOS president Frank Graves said the news of last week was dominated more by the use of Conservative logos on "prop" cheques by MPs at funding announcements than on Liberal attempts to trigger a federal election.
On Tuesday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said he was in no hurry to bring down the minority Conservative government.
Speaking at an Ottawa daycare centre, Ignatieff said he wouldn't support the Conservatives on confidence motions, but added that he won't actively pursue attempts to bring them down.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Conservative branded economic stimulus checks.

Of course these are not real checks but the the advertising value is real enough. Maybe Iggy should make up huge checks signed by the Canadian Taxpayer to pay for the multi-billion dollar Conservative deficit. Or I guess it would be more appropriate for that to be done by Harper's former boss the Canadian Taxpayer group.

Ethics chief probes cheque complaints
Commissioner unsure of her mandate
CBC News

Canada's ethics commissioner will investigate dozens of allegations that Conservative MPs are using taxpayers' money for partisan purposes.
But Mary Dawson says she's not sure how far her mandate allows her to go into ethical issues, despite her job title.
Dawson is looking into how to deal with the dozens of complaints about Tory MPs putting their own names and party logo on economic stimulus cheques.
"We're still receiving the 50-odd complaints," Dawson said Tuesday.
Opposition MPs claim Conservative MPs are breaking the rules by passing off taxpayers' money as their own or that of the Conservative party in government funding announcements.
But in her annual report, Dawson highlighted that while the word "ethics" appears in her job title, it does not appear in the Conflict of Interest Act or the Code of Conduct for MPs.
"It's quite unclear as to the extent to which my mandate extends into ethical issues that are not expressly referred to in either the code or the act and, in fact, one would wonder whether it extends there at all," Dawson said at parliamentary ethics committee meeting.
Will issue public report
Dawson said she has no deadline for her investigation but will make her findings public.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff slammed Prime Minister Stephen Harper over the cheque issue on the floor of the House of Commons on Tuesday.
"The money the government is splashing around does not belong to the Conservative Party of Canada. It belongs to Canadian taxpayers. Party logos have no place on government cheques," Ignatieff said.
Harper agreed that the use of a partisan logo on a government announcement "is not correct. We endeavour not to do that."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Harper about to privatize AECL?

Obviously AECL is going to cost the public lots of money but no private enterprise is going to buy into AECL unless they get a sweet deal. However, that is probably what Harper would dearly love to arrange. If he is really desperate he could always sell to North Korea or Iran! Hopefully Harper will realise the importance of such a key business to the government of Canada and not privatise it.

Workers want AECL to remain Crown firm

CBC News
Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt announced last May the federal government will restructure the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and might spin off its reactor business from its research division. (Canadian Press)
Scientists and engineers from the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) were on Parliament Hill on Monday, urging the government to proceed carefully when privatizing the Crown corporation.
"We support restructuring of AECL to allow it to take advantage of growing international opportunities," said Dr. Michael Ivanco, vice-president of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates, the union representing the AECL workers. "However, like most Canadians, we believe that continued government control is imperative."
Earlier this year, Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt announced that AECL's reactor business may be spun off from its research division.
Union president Peter White said his members, who design the next generation of nuclear reactors and repair and refurbish existing ones, aren't opposed to AECL's restructuring per se.
"We just are afraid that if we give up control to a private interest, we may lose control of the technology," White said.
The public shares that sentiment too. Three in four people polled want the AECL to remain under public control, according to an Ipsos Reid study commissioned by the federal government earlier this year.
The survey also suggested that most Canadians don't know much about the AECL. It found nearly 70 per cent of those polled knew little or nothing about AECL.
The agency's reactors used to be responsible for making the medical isotopes used in the diagnosis of cancer and heart ailments.
The Crown corporation hasn't produced any isotopes since its aging reactor at Chalk River, Ont., was shut down in May after it was found to be leaking radioactive water. The company's senior vice-president Bill Pilkington told a House committee Monday that the repairs will cost $70 million.
The Ipsos Reid report, which found nearly three-quarters of those polled thought AECL should not become a private company, had not been publicized until the union discovered it on the website of Library and Archives Canada
Ivanco said it won't help the future of the Crown corporation if bits and pieces of it are sold to private companies.
"Once you start doing that, it's a pretty steep slope to the point where you will no longer be able to design and build, and you could end up in a situation where in 15 years, we need reactors, and we'll have to buy them from someone else," he said.
Raitt defended the AECL's reorganization in a letter that was published by an Ottawa newspaper on Monday, saying the Crown corporation is simply too small to compete on the international stage.
The fate of AECL won't be known until the end of the year.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Ford Focus may replace ambulance for some Winnipeg paramedics.

This seems to be a good idea and certainly worth trying. This will freeup ambulances for other types of calls and perhaps decrease response times and also trips to emergency.

Sedans may replace ambulances
Move mulled to free up ERs
By: Mary Agnes Welch

Forget the huge white ambulance. Forget the lights and sirens. Forget the long wait to be handed off to an emergency room doctor.
Winnipeg paramedics could soon arrive at your door in a much homelier vehicle -- a Ford Focus. If the provincial government approves the idea, a paramedic could be sent by car to triage and treat some of the thousands of non-life-threatening cases called in to 911 every year.
The move is part of a bold new plan meant to reduce pressure on city emergency rooms, ease the chronic shortage of paramedics and cope better with the looming H1N1 flu pandemic.
A Ford Focus could be on the streets in a few weeks, with five paramedics cruising the city in sedans by the time the worst of the pandemic hits, said Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Deputy Chief Ken Sim.
The city would still send a full-scale ambulance to critical cases, like heart attacks or car accidents. Those are only about 10 per cent of the cases medics attend.
The new "community paramedics" would act more like nurses who make house calls, responding to a whole host of less serious cases that don't need a $1-million ambulance, two highly trained medics and an automatic trip to the nearest emergency room. That includes everything from worrisome flu to sprained ankles, diabetes and seizures.
The community medics would come equipped with most of the same gear an advanced-care paramedic carries, like medications and intravenous supplies.
However, they would use a slightly more sophisticated triage checklist like the one nurses use in the emergency rooms. Based on that checklist, the medics could treat someone on the spot, or call a taxi or stretcher service to transport someone to a clinic, or strap the patient into the Ford's passenger seat and provide a lift to an urgent-care clinic or even the ER.
"We'd be able to get a trained paramedic to people sooner than having to wait for a two-person ambulance," Sim said.
Right now, patients with non-life-threatening problems can wait hours for an ambulance to arrive, in part because call volumes have increased nearly 15 per cent in the last five years. Call volumes plus delays off-loading patients in crowded emergency rooms have taxed Winnipeg's paramedic service almost to the limit in recent years.
The WFPS is waiting for Health Minister Theresa Oswald to give the pilot project her approval.
Provincial regulations say patients can only be transported by ambulance, so the city needs a ministerial order allowing medics to give patients a lift in a Focus.
The province says it's reviewing the proposal and hopes to have an answer for the WFPS in two weeks.
Paramedics have long been arguing for smarter ways to treat people who call 911 and they applaud the "community paramedic" approach.
"The idea is to have medics out in the community engaging people with problems and find the best place in health care for them instead of a system of 'you call, we haul,' " said paramedic union president Chris Broughton. "The system of emergency medicine has never really evolved over the years."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger

There does not seem to have been much dissension during the convention. Both candidates were well known and safe more or less middle of the road although Ashton seemed to offer more promises and is very well liked in the north. There will likely be little change in policy. The NDP in Manitoba is tame enough that outgoing premier Gary Doer was chosen to serve as the Harper government ambassador to the U.S. Apparently the NDP thinks this is just fine and does not reflect upon their political direction. While Greyhound is trying to extort subsidies etc. from the government therre is no suggestion in discussions that the NDP might follow the lead of the Sask. govt. and create a provincial bus service. That would be far too radical I suppose.

Canada's newest premier former community activist, number-cruncher
By Steve Lambert And Chinta Puxley (CP) – 16 hours ago
WINNIPEG — As Manitobta premier for the last decade, Gary Doer straddled demands for increased social change with business tax cuts.
The province's next premier isn't expected to diverge from that path.
Former Finance Minister and premier-designate Greg Selinger has long had a foot in both worlds.
A former community activist in the inner-city, he was educated at the upper-crust London School of Economics.
During a decade as Manitoba's finance minister, he cut personal and business taxes in a bid to boost the economy, yet maintained a reputation for pursuing social justice and won the support of many labour groups in his bid to become premier.
After a day of talking with business leaders and fellow politicians inside the stately legislative building, he dresses down and bicycles back to his constituency in Winnipeg's St. Boniface district, where he is known as a grassroots politician who has worked to enhance French-language services.
Selinger, who was elected Saturday as Manitoba's new NDP leader and premier, is both an economics wonk and a believer in a big social safety net.
"We are determined to act in the face of economic threats, but we will not let those threats determine our future," Selinger told delegates Saturday.
"We will set our own course for the future of Manitoba. If we want an economy that meets the needs and respects the environment, we can't rely on outdated policies. We need innovation, imagination and investment, not just tax cuts."
Selinger, 58, grew up the son of a single mother in the middle-class St. James neighbourhood of Winnipeg. He became a social worker in the city's poverty-stricken north end.
He saw some of the city's poorest get involved with loansharks - something that would prompt him, three decades later, to set strict limits on interest rates for short-term lenders, including payday loan companies.
"I've taken those lessons," he told delegates gathered Saturday. "I've tried to apply them to politics."
He earned a PhD at the London School of Economics, and took an interest in how economics are affected by government policies.
In 1979, Selinger founded Winnipeg's Community Economic Development Association, which helps inner-city residents access social programs and start small businesses. He was elected to city council in 1989 and chaired the city's finance committee.
Union leader Paul Moist, national president of CUPE, worked with Selinger when he was on city council.
"We've got a guy who is a very educated man. He cut his teeth in the heart of Winnipeg, one of the poorest areas of Winnipeg," Moist said on the convention floor Saturday.
"He understands the social challenges facing Winnipeg particularly, and Manitoba. But he also understands that Manitobans are a progressive, but really a socially conservative population as well."
Selinger lost a bid for mayor in 1992, and jumped to provincial politics in 1999, winning the St. Boniface seat and being named finance minister for the new NDP government.
"After (Doer) won in 1999, he had one person in mind and only one person in mind to make minister of finance," Moist said. "That was Greg Selinger."
As keeper of the public purse, Selinger rode a middle ground, cutting small business and personal income taxes and boosting spending on hospitals, community colleges and social housing.
Among his boldest moves was to cut the income tax rate for small businesses, from eight per cent in 1999 to zero by 2010.
He has had many critics.
Businesses have complained that his tax cuts paled in comparison to those in Saskatchewan and other provinces, while social activists have said welfare rates were not keeping pace with inflation.
But the middle-of-the-road approach helped the NDP capture larger majorities in 2003 and 2007. The NDP even managed to steal longtime Tory strongholds in Winnipeg's well-to-do suburbs.
That approach is unlikely to change with Selinger in the premier's chair. He takes great pains to stress that he wants to continue the work done by Gary Doer, whose popularity with voters never waned.
"I think everyone understands that we're heading into turbulent times," said Conservation Minister Stan Struthers, a Selinger supporter after his first pick, Andrew Swan, dropped out of the race.
"We need somebody who understands that. We need somebody who's got the experience of 10 balanced budgets under his belt."
While all 10 of his budgets have been balanced under provincial law, many were in fact deficits under the normal accounting rules used by Ottawa and other provinces. Manitoba's overall debt has continued to grow.
Selinger also came under fire in 2007 following the meltdown of the Crocus Investment Fund, a labour-sponsored venture fund set up by the province. A leaked cabinet memo showed Selinger warned his fellow ministers in 2000 that Crocus was facing financial troubles, but the public was never told. Five years later, the fund went into receivership, leaving 34,000 investors wondering whether they could recoup their money.
The government responded to the controversy by saying the fund was run by an arm's-length board, and the province was not responsible for its performance. The affair didn't put a dent in the NDP's popularity.
On a personal level, Selinger acknowledges his new role will require him to spend a lot more time in front of television cameras and at public events. He and his wife, Claudette Toupin, have two sons.
It will be a big change for a man who appears more comfortable discussing government policy in small groups than glad-handing in crowds or speaking to large audiences.
"Greg Selinger is a very warm person actually. He may strike people at first glance as reserved," Moist said. "He's not the first one to the microphone."
Selinger himself says he's ready for the high profile.
"I think the role means you're more in the public eye, you're more out of the (legislative) building as opposed to being in the building when you're the finance minister working on budgets," he said recently.
"But the reality is that the overall purpose is the same - how to grow the economy, how to make sure all your citizens can participate in society and the economy, and to do it in such a way that you bring people together along the way."
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Manitoba NDP leadership campaign

There does not seem to be any huge conflict between the two leadership candidates. For years the Manitoba NDP has been very much middle of the road, a policy that seems to have paid off in that Doer was re-elected last time with little difficulty. Manitoba is one of the better off provinces as far as the recession is concerned so the NDP could be re-elected next time as well unless they make some serious missteps.

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
NDP leadership race: The policy debate
By: Larry Kusch
Steve Ashton and Greg Selinger do not appear to be far apart ideologically. But Ashton's campaign promises were often bold and provocative, with several carrying heavy price tags, while Selinger's were more modest and often extensions of current government policy.

Ashton's promises included:

"ö Redeveloping CPR's Weston Yards as a home for new housing, commercial development and green space. Province to spend $50 million over five years.
"ö $250 million over 10 years to help revitalize Winnipeg's Exchange District.
"ö A Manitoba Dignity Act targeting discriminatory, demeaning or racist acts.
"ö Personally supervising a crime-prevention strategy that targets gangs and increases support for community policing.
"ö Passing a law to prevent Winnipeg from privatizing its water supply.
"ö Immediately committing to funding one-third the cost of a $250-million second rapid-transit corridor, this one to the east side of the city.
"ö Introducing anti-poverty legislation that sets out targets and measures for combating poverty.

Selinger's promises included:

"ö Extending the fitness tax credit now offered to kids, to adults.
"ö Boosting affordable housing in Manitoba by building 300 new units per year for the next five years.
"ö Fast-tracking income tax refunds on post-secondary tuition fees to students who remain in Manitoba after graduation.
"ö Creating a fund to help more small businesses get established in Manitoba.
"ö Developing a well-trained workforce by improving high school graduation rates, encouraging more collaboration between business and post-secondary institutions and expanding the use of co-op education tax credits.
"ö Using green technology to drive economic growth, including commitments to getting more plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the road and creating a centre of excellence at Red River Col--lege to convert more existing hybrid vehicles to plug-in hybrids.
"ö Improving training, economic opportunities and services for northern and aboriginal people.

Notable disagreements:


Ashton promised to bring back a freeze on university tuition fees. Selinger rejected that solution to making post-secondary education more affordable, instead pledging to fast-track tuition fee tax rebates to students who plan to remain in Manitoba after graduation.


Ashton said he is prepared to bring in legislation banning the use of replacement workers by employers in the event of a strike. But a spokesman for Selinger said the former finance minister had no such plans, preferring to continue to build a labour climate where strikes and lockouts can be avoided.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Poll: Tories seven points ahead of Liberals

Perhaps the Liberals will now be thinking twice of pushing Ignatieff as leader and sabotaging Dion. Perhaps they need a real leadership race again. Perhaps this will help the fortunes of Green and NDP as people give up hope in the two old line parties although most people seem committed to the choice of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. If the number get much better for the Tories Harper may try to engineer an election this year rather than trying to desperately avoid one as he did last year!

Tories lead Liberals by seven points: poll
(CP) – 20 hours ago
OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives continue to hold a healthy lead over the Liberals, but remain well shy of majority territory, a new poll suggests.
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey put the Tories at 35 per cent nationally, compared with 28 per cent for the Liberals.
The NDP was at 15 per cent, while the Greens and Bloc Quebecois were tied at 10 per cent.
Doug Anderson, Harris-Decima senior vice-president, said graphs of polling data over the last three months show a clear downward trend for the Liberals.
"You could ski like a bunny hill down that line," he said. "It's not erratic. There's a little bit of an upward tick at one point, but it's a fairly consistent trend compared to the Conservative number where you see a little bit more volatility."
He said the Liberals should be worried.
"I think that decline is something that should be troubling for the Liberals and presents opportunity for the other parties."
The main beneficiaries?
"Clearly the greatest opportunity is for the Conservatives and they are the ones who have clearly forged ahead."
The Liberals have little to cheer about regionally, either.
"I would say that there isn't really a region that is particularly comfortable for the Liberals right now," Anderson said. "Everything west of Quebec is a problem for them."
The poll data suggests the Conservatives have jumped to a four-point lead in Ontario with 40 per cent support, and they continue to dominate in the West.
The Tories trailed badly in Quebec at just 15 per cent - nine points back of the Liberals and 26 points behind the Bloc.
The poll indicates the Liberals were ahead in only one region - Atlantic Canada - where they led the Tories by three percentage points and the NDP by five. But the sample there is small and the margin of error is higher.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Military Complaints Commission complains documents unavailable from Harper government.

The Harper government simply does not want to come clean and this is not surprising since it is probably dirty! Whenever national security can be excused as an excuse to avoid doing something that would make it look bad the government always will do so. The government has been doing everything possible to make sure that the commission cannot carry out its task including questioning its jurisdiction. Unfortunately these sorts of shenanigans probably have little negative political fallout. News Staff Updated: Thu. Oct. 15 2009 10:42 AM ET
A lawyer with the Canadian Military Complaints Commission says the truth about allegations of prisoner torture in Afghanistan will only surface if the government is forthcoming with documents.
Freya Kristjanson told Canada AM on Thursday that while the government has said it's cooperating with the commission, it has not turned in any documents since March, 2008.
"This commission has not received a single new document (sic) despite repeated assurances that the government would be producing the documents both in the House and by their lawyers directly to the commission," she said in an interview from Ottawa. "The government has simply failed to deliver any documents."
"If the government cooperates with a body established by parliament within its mandate and gives the commission documents and access to witnesses then Canadians will know what happened," she added.
Government officials say they are in the midst of sensoring the documents for national security but Kristjanson said they're taking too long to get the job done.
"The commission absolutely will protect valid national security claims but the problem is the government is not cooperating or expediting the vetting of those national documents so that we can proceed with this hearing," she said.
The lawyer's comments come a day after the commission was adjourned for at least six months to deal with arguments over the inquiry's jurisdiction.
Commissioner Peter Tinsley agreed to adjourn the hearing but blasted the Canadian government for stonewalling the inquiry by withholding the requested documents.
The controversy being explored in the inquiry surrounds whether or not the Canadian government knew that Afghan prisoners were at risk of being tortured when the Canadian military transfered custody to the local authorities.
Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin filed an affidavit to the commission Wednesday saying indeed government officials did know of the risks because he personally warned them in writing in 2006.
Colvin -- who is now an intelligence officer with the Foreign Affairs department -- said in his written statement that he filed two reports in 2006 that examined potential problems with the handover of prisoners by the Canadian military to the local authorities.
"Judging these problems regarding Afghan detainees to be serious, imminent and alarming, I made investigations and detailed my findings formally in my reporting from the PRT," he wrote in the affidavit.
The content of the first report is still covered by national security. Colvin said the second report gave specific findings that "dealt with two issues, one of which concerned the risk of torture and/or actual torture of Afghan detainees."
The reports were widely distributed to the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments as well as senior military commanders in both Ottawa and Kandahar.
His statement contradicts earlier assurances by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other high-ranking officials that they had not received any credible reports from Canadian officials about prisoner abuse.
Cabinet ministers had also assured the public that the opposition was misled by Taliban propaganda and that in fact, the government has not received a credible allegation of prisoner abuse.
© 2009 All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stelmach support plumetting

Alberta seems to be the most fickle and most stable electorate. Although they tend to elect huge majorities when they get upset they are probably the most apt to vote for a new party--usually a brand new branch of the Conservatives! I wonder if those Wild Rosers also smell of the oil patch Conservatives who are angry that Stelmach won the leadership race!

Voter support plummets for PCs, Stelmach: poll

CBC News
Political support for Alberta's Progressive Conservative party is dropping at a dramatic pace with a majority of respondents in a new opinion poll disapproving of Premier Ed Stelmach's leadership.
If an election were held today, the Tories would still lead with 30 per cent support, followed by the Wildrose Alliance with 22 per cent, according to the survey conducted by Return On Insight, a strategic research consulting company.
The Alberta Liberals would place third with 18 per cent support, followed by the Alberta NDP with nine per cent, and the Green Party of Alberta — which was deregistered as a provincial political party in July — with four per cent.
'Much of the disenchantment rests with the perceived lack of leadership by Premier Ed Stelmach.'—Bruce Cameron, pollster
About one in eight Albertans, or 12 per cent, said they were undecided, while five per cent mentioned other parties.
The survey of 802 Albertans was done between Oct. 2-7 by phone using a random dialing sample. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Among decided voters, the Tories received only 34 per cent support, compared to 64 per cent in January 2007, the poll found.
"The historic dominance of the PC party in Alberta is being threatened by a newly emerging three-way split in voter support between the PCs, the Liberals, who are holding onto their core voters, and the Wildrose Alliance, who are benefiting directly from the collapse in PC loyalty," said Bruce Cameron, the pollster behind Return On Insight.
Fifty-seven per cent — almost six in 10 Albertans — disapprove of Stelmach's performance. In comparison, Liberal Leader David Swann received a disapproval rating of 43 per cent.
Tories in freefall
"The party is in a virtual freefall in terms of public support and confidence," said Cameron, who said he is not a member of a provincial party.
"The difficult economic situation and the resulting budget deficits no doubt played a role in this decline, but much of the disenchantment rests with the perceived lack of leadership by Premier Ed Stelmach."
The Tories won 72 of 83 provincial seats in the March 2008 election, but the Wildrose Alliance captured Calgary-Glenmore — held by the Conservatives for 40 years — in a September byelection.
Paul Hinman, the Wildrose Alliance's only MLA, was sworn in on Wednesday.
Stelmach faces a mandatory party leadership review on Nov. 7, while the Wildrose Alliance chooses a new leader on Saturday.
The premier will be addressing Albertans about the recession in a televised speech on Wednesday evening, followed by a fundraising dinner for the party in Red Deer.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spector: Early HST legislation would put Ignatieff on the spot.

Spector is certainly correct. The HST legislation would force Ignatieff to support the Conservative govt. or vote against two Liberal premiers! But the tax is very unpopular in Ontario and moreso in BC. If Ignatieff did vote against the tax he would probably be joined by the Bloc and NDP and that would precipitate an election in which polls show Harper would do well. However, during the campaign the situation could very well change. Anyway it seems that none of the opposition parties are anxious for an election and so one of them will no doubt blink and save Harper.

Early HST legislation would put Ignatieff on the spot

Norman Spector for The Globe and Mail

Norman Spector
Published on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 8:16PM EDT Last updated on Monday, Oct. 12, 2009 2:34AM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's first minority government was one of the longest in Canadian history (the average tenure is about 18 months). And Mr. Harper could have continued to govern for who knows how long had he respected his fixed-election-date law.
Why the longevity? Although Mr. Harper ended up with fewer seats in 2006 than Paul Martin had won in 2004, the Conservatives needed the support of only one opposition party to survive. As long as one of the opposition leaders was not eager for an election, the Prime Minister could maintain confidence in what the Brits refer to as a “hung Parliament.”
In the 2008 election, Mr. Harper won more seats and still needed the support of only one party to stay in office. Yet, had he not persuaded Governor-General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue the House, his government would probably have been defeated by Christmas.
Why the difference? For some reason, the opposition leaders got it into their heads that Her Excellency was obliged to hand power to them if they defeated the government. When it dawned on Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff that Ms. Jean could accede to the Prime Minister's request and call an election, that was the end of that.
For a while, at least.
A month ago, less than a year after the last election, the Liberals announced that they were withdrawing confidence in the Conservatives. And, for a few weeks, it appeared that Mr. Harper's time was indeed up, as Mr. Ignatieff put it. Until, that is, NDP Leader Jack Layton took a look at the polls and found virtue in supporting the government.
And, with the release of three polls in the past fortnight showing that the Conservatives may be headed to a majority, it now appears that the government is secure until next year's budget – though perhaps not much longer.
For the past week, the NDP has been positioning itself to thwart the implementation of a harmonized sales tax in B.C. and Ontario. While the Conservatives have met Mr. Layton's new tax-cutting persona with some derision (likening him, for example, to Colonel Sanders protecting chickens), the Prime Minister should not underestimate the anger of British Columbians, in particular, at the prospect of paying tax on previously exempt items. Nor should they underestimate the potential spill-over of this anger into federal politics, which could easily tempt the NDP to withdraw confidence in the Conservatives.
In this context, Mr. Harper would be wise not to wait until the spring budget to bring in his legislation. The Conservatives are in a strong position today, the opposition parties are in a weak position – and all this could change in a few months.
Were the NDP to oppose the tax-harmonization legislation – either now or in the spring – the Conservatives could make a pitch for the support of the Bloc Québécois. Its MPs have been seeking $2.6-billion in compensation for Quebec's agreement in 1991 to merge its sales tax with the federal goods and services tax.
But Bloc support would leave the Conservatives open to the charge in the next election campaign that they imposed a hugely unpopular tax on British Columbians and Ontarians with the assistance of a party dedicated to promoting the interests of Quebec.
Which leaves the Conservatives one good alternative to pass legislation that B.C. and Ontario will need to prepare their next budgets.
At their recent party meeting in Quebec, Liberal MPs were openly disagreeing whether they would systematically be voting against the Conservatives or whether they would vote case by case. A day later, according to Le Devoir, Mr. Ignatieff settled the dispute by indicating that his caucus would vote case by case, except for confidence matters, on which they would systematically vote to defeat the government. And legislation to implement the harmonized sales tax would be a confidence matter.
Recently, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between their offices, we learned that Mr. Ignatieff has promised Premier Dalton McGuinty that federal Liberals will respect Ontario's HST agreement with Ottawa. If the Conservatives bring in their tax-harmonization legislation in the coming weeks, the Liberal Leader will have a difficult decision to make. The fear of a majority Conservative government, were he to defeat Mr. Harper, should concentrate his mind wonderfully.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Travers: Ignatieff must target Tory deficit

It is rather ironic that Travers could suggest that the Tories can be attacked on their runaway spending. The Tories are supposed to be the thrifty Scrooges of govt. spending and the Liberals are supposed to be the big government big time spenders! Of course Travers is right in that conservatives such as Bush and Harper turned their ideology upside down in order to rescue the system against the burst bubble caused by greed and unregulated capitalism. Harper has brought a huge debt one that he always manages to under-predict.
Ignatieff's problem is that he has not outlined or sold a clear idea about what he would do in the future. The Harper expenditures were arguably necessary to salvage the system from disaster but the problem will be how to ease out of the stimulus without the recovery turning into another dip and how to pay for the increased debt. As Travers point out Harper is in effect increasing EI payrol taxes while lambasting Ignatieff for being silly enough to tell the truth: probably increased taxes will be required to help payoff the debt. This is from the Star.

Travers: Michael Ignatieff must target Tory deficit
October 10, 2009
James Travers
Conservatives want the coming election to be about Michael Ignatieff; Liberals want it to be a referendum on Stephen Harper. What both want is a forced day's march from what Canadians need.
It's been as dramatic to watch the Liberal boss learn what he doesn't know about politics as it was entertaining to watch the Prime Minister play the piano. But neither tells enough about how either would cope with the testing future now racing here at high speed.
Ignatieff's internal troubles and Harper's latest congeniality riff only hide the Ottawa rebirth of the Big Lie. Last fall Conservatives got away with saying there would be no recession or deficit because other parties feared voters couldn't take the truth. This fall, Harper is successfully selling the fantasy of a painless recovery because his main rival is still bruised from musing that raising taxes is a viable way to again balance the federal budget.
Two facts measure the depth of the current foolishness. One is that while noisily pointing fingers at Liberals, Conservatives are quietly moving to bolster federal revenues by hiking the EI payroll tax. The other is that, barring an economic miracle, the Canada that eventually climbs back into sunlight won't be the same one that slid into recession's dark hole.
Forming the lie's core is the illusion that a global economy just starting to grow will become so big and strong it will bravely slay giant deficits. But that ignores, among many other things, that the first "green shoots" are fertilized by full shovels of government stimulus and will be difficult to sustain.
What's entirely possible, and particularly worrying for this trading nation, is that the world economy is facing many dry seasons of weak investment, productivity and employment. Along with wrenching changes looming for the industrial heartland of Ontario and Quebec, the provinces that coincidentally decide federal elections, that new economic order comes with tough policy and political decisions.
Sometime between now and their next visit to polling stations, voters must choose who among federal leaders will make those decisions in the best interests of most Canadians. It's that context, not the current hyper-personal search for partisan advantage, that makes the comparison between Ignatieff and Harper so important. It also helps explain Harper's public opinion surge as well as the rising appetite for majority government.
Canadians are as hungry for stability as the rest of the world. Whatever his faults, whatever his government's failures in turning a $13 billion surplus into this year's $55 billion deficit, Harper offers the comfort of familiarity. Ignatieff, the patrician, home-from-away public intellectual, is as foreign as his extraordinary international success.
Beyond proving he can master the training job of Opposition leader, Ignatieff must now convince the country that a Prime Minister who now seems the lesser evil is the greater threat. He needs to shift the focus from himself and on to the Conservative record of runaway spending and an historic deficit. Most of all, he must remind voters that below the surface of this government's pragmatic, wind-blown policy shifts lurks a party waiting to apply its pre-packaged solutions to its preconceptions of reality.
Offering alternatives is no easy task for a stranger trying to make a better second impression. To get a chance to prove that he, like Harper before him, can grow into the top job, Ignatieff needs Canadians to conclude the next election is about them and that the referendum is on the country's future.
James Travers' column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Some Canadian troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2011.

Here we go again. If you do not want casualties then all troops must be withdrawn. If you do not want to throw taxpayer money down the drain when we have billion dollar deficits withdraw right now and leave the US Nobel Peace Prize winner to continue the useless killing and farcical pursuit of a legitimate Afghan govt. A government that passed the marriage rape law after all and will assess the death penalty on a Muslim who converts to Christianity and who will throw a woman MP out of the legislature for stating the obvious that there are warlords with horrible human rights records in the legislature! Harper is firm on withdrawal date but not firm on what that means.

Some Canadian troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2011
(AFP) – 4 hours ago
OTTAWA — Canada will keep some troops in Afghanistan beyond a lawmaker-mandated 2011 deadline for withdrawal to serve in development and reconstruction roles, a government spokesman said Saturday.
Canadian lawmakers voted in March 2008 to end the deployment of Canadian troops in Kandahar in 2011, but Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said troops would remain in Afghanistan beyond that date.
In comments to public broadcaster CBC, Soudas insisted there would nonetheless be a significant troop reduction.
"I would caution you against saying dozens or hundreds or a thousand, there will be exponentially fewer," he told CBC.
"Whether there's 20 or 60 or 80 or 100, they will not be conducting combat operations."
Though Canada's NATO allies have made clear their interest in an extension of the Canadian deployment, Harper has consistently said he must respect parliament's decision to end the mission.
"The military mission ends in 2011," Soudas told AFP. "Canadian soldiers will not play a combat role post-2011."
After the military deployment is over, Canada's mission in Afghanistan will change, he said.
"In terms of our post-2011 commitment, Canada will focus on training, development, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance," he said.
Canada has 2,800 soldiers deployed in the Kandahar region of southern Afghanistan, a stronghold of the Taliban insurgency. Since the beginning of the country's deployment in Afghanistan in 2002, 131 Canadian soldiers have been killed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Liberals criticize Tories for patronage appointments.

Actually there seems to be a great deal of bipartisan agreement on patronage appointments. Both Liberals and Conservatives often award significant supporters or hacks with govt. appointments. They both agree too that they will tut tut and criticise each other for doing so. Since often there is no or little compensation for helping out political parties it is natural that they will find other ways to reward people for service, at public expense if possible!

Liberals slam Tories for patronage plums

By David Akin, Canwest News ServiceOctober 8, 2009

The federal Liberals slammed the governing Conservatives on Thursday for handing out government jobs -- some of which pay more than $100,000 a year -- to failed former candidates, party workers and financial supporters.
The Liberals went on the attack in the House of Commons in the wake of a report that Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed five judges with Conservative ties. Harper did so less than a week after slamming the Liberals for appointing "left-wing ideologues" to the courts and to the civil service when they were in power.
Liberals say they've identified 37 appointments Harper and his cabinet approved in the last six weeks, where the appointee had a demonstrated link to the Conservatives.
"It is an orgy of appointments," said Liberal MP David McGuinty. "How many more rewards does the prime minister intend to hand out to his Conservative flock?"
Five of the 37 appointments flagged by the Liberals were the judges referred to in Thursday's reports. Those judges were appointed Sept. 9. The Liberals are also counting seven senators Harper appointed on Aug. 27. The new senators included Harper's second-longest-serving aide, the Conservative party's past president, and the husband of Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, who was also Harper's director of political operations.
In the days between appointing some of his closest political friends to the Senate and making the judicial appointments, Harper gave a speech in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in which he said the Liberals, had they won the government last fall, would be putting "left-wing ideologues . . . in the courts, federal institutions, agencies, and the Senate."
The Liberals say Harper is saying one thing and doing the opposite.
One of Harper's key campaign promises from 2006 was to create an independent public-appointments commission. But the Tories wanted one of their own biggest financial contributors, former oil and gas executive Gwyn Morgan, to head that commission. Opposition MPs who agreed with the idea of a commission objected to Morgan's appointment to run it.
"Only the government would expect a crony to stamp out cronyism. How ridiculous," McGuinty said in the House of Commons.
After Morgan's nomination was rejected, the Conservatives dropped the idea of a public-appointments commission and have continued to make appointments, by and large, in the same way the Liberals before them did.
Political appointments are handled by senior political staff working within the Prime Minister's Office. More than 3,000 appointments have been made since the Harper government took office.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Thursday, October 8, 2009

eHealth Ontario sick cronyism....

This certainly will not help the Ontario Liberal party in the polls. It is a sad sordid story of connections rather than efficiency determining who got contracts and the result was fat paychecks but little progress. A lot of the blame must go to those charged with government oversight of the processes. It seems that the government approved in many instances of contracting processes that went against their own guidelines.

$1B waste of money: McCarter
Grits ripped over eHealth spending
Last Updated: 8th October 2009, 5:32am

Auditor General Jim McCar-ter's special report on the provincial government's efforts to bring in an electronic health records system concluded that taxpayers didn't get good value for their $1 billion, that in fact, hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted in the effort.
As expected, David Caplan resigned as health minister yesterday, taking responsibility for the lack of oversight, and opposition leaders quickly turned their wrath on former health minister George Smitherman.
Premier Dalton McGuinty, facing arguably the most difficult challenge in his government's six years in office, acknowledged he had been impatient to get an electronic health records system up and running.
"I never said anything about breaking the rules," McGuinty said.
McCarter's probe found eHealth Ontario and its predecessor, Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), suffered from a lack of strategic planning from the beginning.
The goal was clear -- a secure, private lifetime health record for each Ontarian available electronically to all authorized health-care providers -- but there was no road map to get there.
Health ministry staff didn't communicate well with SSHA and eHealth Ontario workers.
Projects almost never came in on time or on budget.
And hundreds of private consultants cashed fat paycheques.
"There were so many consultants, you had consultants basically approving other consultants being hired, often from their own firms," McCar-ter said. "We felt that was clearly inappropriate."
The Ministry of Health, SSHA and eHealth handed out millions of dollars worth of contracts without a competitive bidding process.
The auditors uncovered no problems with the official procurement policies other than they were rather routinely ignored.
One firm, Courtyard Group, received several sole-sourced contracts and renewals, and was awarded a $600,000 contract even though its bid price was 10 times higher than the lowest bid.
Although some of those contracts were handed out by eHealth CEO Sarah Kramer, the auditor found the government's own Management Board, made up of senior McGuinty cabinet ministers, waived tendering rules and split projects into lower-value contracts to bypass procurement requirements for eHealth projects undertaken by the Ministry of Health.
The report notes the firm being awarded this work was in communication with health ministry management about upcoming contract renewals before the requests for services were released to other providers.
"That's clearly indicative to us that somebody had the inside track," McCarter told Sun Media. "This is not how appropriate procurement practices should be handled."
The auditor wouldn't name the firm, but the Ontario health ministry confirmed the company is Courtyard Group.
John Ronson, founder of Courtyard, said in an e-mail his company will be commenting extensively today on the areas of the report that affect them.
"Including the fact that we are the anonymous firm that authored the 2009 strategy that he recognized as being critical to getting the agenda back on track," said Ronson, who served as campaign director for former Liberal leader Lyn McLeod.
Courtyard managing partner David Wattling said the company also provided "excellent value for money" in its work on the diabetes and ePrescribing strategy, having competed for and won 27 eHealth contracts in Ontario and been granted another eight sole-sourced contracts.
McCarter blamed a lack of government oversight, not party politics or personal benefits, for what happened on the eHealth file.
"Ineffective oversight and broken rules go together like a horse and carriage," McCarter said.
He noted the fledgling eHealth Ontario Agency under Kramer repeatedly ignored existing procurement rules in hiring "favoured" consultants without competitive bidding.
Kramer, shown the door when the scandal broke, committed "a judgment error" in awarding contracts without taking competitive bids, McCarter said.
A statement issued by Kramer yesterday disputes the auditor's findings, in particular challenging his assertion that there was no real "urgency" in the situation and ignoring that the "experts" she hired had relevant experience.
"Finally, the auditor general states that the board of eHealth Ontario was unaware of the procurement practices that we were following," she said. "This is simply incorrect. Indeed, the board was explicitly and acutely aware that exemption rules in the procurement policies were being followed because of the urgency of the situation."
PC Leader Tim Hudak called eHealth "a tangled and incestuous web of consultants, Liberal staffers, officials, and operatives ... This is what Dalton McGuinty's culture of entitlement is starting to look like."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Buoyed by latest poll PM chides opposition

Given the direction of the polls we could very well see a poison pill soon from Harper. Of course it is quite possible that the NDP might take the pill and commit suicide. The first test may be the harmonised sales tax legislation that the NDP opposes. The Liberals are probably soldiering on voting against the Conservatives because they think this is quite safe. If the polls keep sliding we might find even more dissension in the Liberal party over Ignatieff's leadership. Maybe he should learn to play the piano and sing.

Buoyed by latest poll, PM chides opposition

October 06, 2009
Richard J. Brennan
OTTAWA –Prime Minister Stephen Harper says now that his Conservative Party's popularity has jumped significantly the opposition parties aren't quite so bullish on an election.
"I think one good thing about these polls ... is that it's starting to force some of the other parties to focus on something other than trying to force an election," Harper said in an interview today on CFRB Talk 1010 in Toronto.
A CTV poll released Monday shows the Conservatives flirting with majority government territory with 41 per cent support, Liberals, 28 per cent, the NDP at 14 and the Green and Bloc Quebecois at 9.
Even though the Liberals' non-confidence motion was defeated last Thursday, the Grits say they will continue to take every opportunity to force an election, which Harper says Canadians have clearly said they don't want.
On the economy, Harper said Canada's economic recovery is a fragile one.
"I think there is a very mild recovery, it's a very fragile recovery. We are certainly not out of the woods," he said.
Harper said he doesn't see the recovery kicking in earnest until Canada's unemployment levels - now pegged at 8.6 per cent - drop significantly.
Even though Canada is struggling under a $56-billion deficit, Harper defended the shortfall.
"The fact of the matter is, while the deficit is large, Canada's deficit is relatively quite small. Our debt levels are very low," he said, adding his government must show the "discipline" to end the economic stimulus spending at the end of the recession.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rumours about Liberal defections..

This is all Ignatieff needs. Of course as some Liberals suggest this may just be the Harper dept. of dirty tricks hard at work trying to create problems for Ignatieff. With the polls showing that the Liberals are going nowhere but down there could be more rumblings and knives quietly being unsheathed!

Liberal trio looking to defect, Tories say
Liberal trio looking to defect, Tories say
October 06, 2009
Susan Delacourt

OTTAWA–A Conservative government official said Monday there have been discussions with three Liberal MPs interested in crossing the floor to the Tory side over the past month.
Liberals immediately dismissed the talk as Conservative "mischief" and said it is the government that is on a raiding mission.
There has been speculation in the past few days that Ruby Dhalla, Liberal MP for Brampton-Springdale, has considered defecting to the Conservatives because her own party has refused to back her private member's bill to increase old-age benefits to immigrant seniors.
Conservatives would not name the trio – even suggesting Dhalla might not be "a good fit" in the caucus – but such talk will create more headaches for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, already falling in the polls and trying to put out a party fire in Quebec caused by the resignation of Denis Coderre, his lieutenant in the province.
Judy Sgro (York West), the Liberals' critic for seniors and pensions and probably Dhalla's closest ally in caucus, issued a news release Monday saying she would be voting against her friend's legislation because it went against the views of the Liberal leader and caucus on government spending.
Dhalla wasn't talking on Monday about the defection speculation or the party's refusal to back her private member's bill.
In a brief email, the Brampton-Springdale MP said only that "the rumour mill is in overdrive again. ... These people need to find a topic of discussion that doesn't include the name Ruby Dhalla."
An adviser in Ignatieff's office said the talk of Dhalla's disgruntlement is being overblown by Conservatives who would like to see her cause trouble for her leader.
And indeed, Dimitri Soudas, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sent out a mass-distributed email yesterday drawing attention to the Liberals' rebuff of Dhalla's bill. "They are voting against the (private member's bill) of MP Ruby Dhalla! Their own bill!" Soudas's email said.
Conservatives wouldn't disclose the names of the three Liberal MPs they say are considering defection, but said Dhalla was not likely to be among them. They suggested Dhalla was circulating the defection rumours to send a message to her own party about its rejection of her private member's bill.
Sgro said she didn't believe Dhalla would leave the party and "throw away her future."
The Conservatives hold 143 seats in the 308-seat Commons and would need an additional 12 MPs to form a majority. While three or four Liberal MPs would only put them a little closer to that goal, it would be another blow to Ignatieff, who last week lost his Quebec lieutenant, Denis Coderre, in a spat over nomination fights.
The Liberal leader joked on Sunday, while at the party's Quebec-wing convention, that his life these days is "a constant joy."
Jill Fairbrother, Ignatieff's communications chief, dismissed the talk of defections on Monday.
"No Liberal MP is going to work for the Stephen Harper we saw on that videotape, the one who wants to abolish the gun registry and says our courts are stacked with left-wing ideologues," said Fairbrother, a reference to a speech Harper made in September in Sault Ste. Marie at a closed-door reception with Conservative partisans.
Dhalla was one of the most staunch caucus supporters of Ignatieff's leadership, all the way back to the 2006 campaign. Bright, articulate and television-friendly, she's been seen as a rising caucus star, with aspirations of leadership herself. She ran into controversy earlier this year, however, when the Star uncovered allegations of mistreatment by two caregivers who worked for the Dhalla family.
Dhalla, who has vehemently denied that any caregivers working at her family home were mistreated, resigned her post as multiculturalism critic during the furor and waited for the dust to settle before introducing a private member's bill to increase immigrant seniors' pensions in June.
The bill proposes to reduce the 10-year residence requirement for seniors immigrating to Canada from China, India and parts of South America and Africa. Dhalla argued it was unfair for these seniors to face a 10-year rule, while others could claim benefits after three years.
But her party balked at the cost of the legislation.
"To become law, Bill C-428 will require a Royal Recommendation as it would prompt the expenditure of between $300 (million) and $700 million," Sgro said in her release. "Given the potential costs of Bill C-428, the systemic and financial implications of the measure must be evaluated in a larger context."

Monday, October 5, 2009

NDP says no to harmonized sales tax.

Layton claims that he will have a hard time supporting Harper if he introduces an HST law but he does not come out squarely and say he would vote against it. Ignatieff claims that he will not support any confidence motion but we will wait and see. The BC Liberals support the HST!

NDP says no HST

By Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch
The harmonized sales tax is a $4-billion bribe being given to Ontario by the federal governnent, says the leader of the federal NDP. Jack Layton , speaking Saturday outside a local doughnut shop, said the HST tax grab should lie squarely on the shoulders of the Conservative government, who must pass the legislation in the House of Commons for it to become law on July 1, 2010. “I say to Stephen Harper you may try to run but you can’t hide,” said Layton on Saturday. “This is your tax. Eight per cent on about one-fifth of the things consumers of Northwestern Ontario are buying,, right down to your double-double and your donut.” Layton said that the tax will not bring more jobs to Thunder Bay, but in fact will do the opposite, reducing jobs because people will have less disposable income to spend. The Ontario government said it will offer $10.6 billion worth of tax relief, over three years, when HST goes in affect. Layton said that if the tax comes in July as planned, it will gobble up all the relief money. “We don’t think it’s right; we don’t think it is fair. What we should be doing is getting the infrastructure money going. (Ministers) could have transferred the gas tax last spring and we would have had all kinds of construction on the go.” Calling on Harper to transfer the gas tax in the next stimulus package, the longtime political leader said it’s not the first time the NDP have fought the implementation of an HST-style blended tax. Several years ago it was passed in Saskatchewan by the sitting Conservative government. It lasted until the next election, when the NDP were elected and had it repealed. In Nova Scotia, where the HST has been in effect for several years, the provincial NDP are doing their best to minimize the effect of the tax. “Premier Darrell Dexter, who has just become the Premier of Nova Scotia, is taking the tax off home heating fuel. So he’s undoing some of the damages to families that was done by that tax. It is a burden people can’t bear right now.” The HST wasn’t all that was on Layton’s mind during his whirlwind tour of Thunder Bay last weekend. A few weeks ago Layton met with Harper to discuss employment insurance. The Conservatives came out with an unusual billion-dollar budget proposal in September, which has never happened before, said Layton, whose party decided to back the government in a confidence motion recently brought forth by the Liberals, a move that prevented a forced election from being called. “We want that money flowing to families. If we get a billion dollars to tens of thousands of families across the country then by golly we don’t want to go to an election until people get that help.” But that partnership could be short-lived, he adding, saying that if Harper moves to make the sales tax a law he would have a tough time supporting the Conservatives in a House of Commons vote. The Liberals have already vowed not to support the Tories on any confidence motion.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

NDP to prop up Tories again!

First it was Dion and now it is Layton. While it makes some sense to support the bill that has the popular home improvement tax legislation in it Layton is becoming hostage to the Harper govt. He has promised not to bring it down until the EI bill comes into effect. Perhaps Harper can arrange to delay it while he slips the poison pill harmonised sales tax legislation through. Maybe the Liberals will support that one though since their Liberal counterparts in BC are involved!

NDP to prop up Tories again
By Heather Scoffield (CP) – 1 day ago
OTTAWA — The NDP is poised once again to save the Conservatives from facing an election any time soon.
Leader Jack Layton says his party will support a key budget bill that could come before the House of Commons for final reading as early as next week.
That support would ensure the minority Harper government survives a bit longer, since budget implementation bills are automatically confidence votes.
Bill C-51 contains the popular home renovation tax credit.
It also has measures to help first-time homeowners, money to alleviate debt in poor countries, relief for livestock owners, and $174.5 million for Nova Scotia for offshore petroleum.
The Liberals have said they will oppose the Conservatives on every vote, but they need the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois to bring down the government.
"There's a lot of reasons to vote for these measures. When I said we would approach things on a case-by-case basis, this is exactly what I meant," Layton said Friday from Halifax.
Politicians are debating the bill in the House of Commons. No date has been set for third reading yet, but it could come by the end of next week.
The NDP has said it will prop up the government for as long as it takes to ensure the passage of a $1-billion bill to increase employment insurance benefits to long-tenured workers.
Layton's party kept the Conservatives in power on Thursday by abstaining from a Liberal non-confidence motion. But they have no qualms about supporting C-51.
"This one is a support outright because it includes measures we very much support. And it doesn't have in it a poison pill, which I'm very glad to see," Layton said.
He said he would also be inclined to support any Conservative bill that would give self-employed people access to maternity benefits.
But he would have a hard time with legislation that would sanction a harmonized sales tax in some provinces, or that would commit Canada to paying penalties for its softwood lumber exports.
"Our message to Stephen Harper is quite clear: don't provoke an election, let's get things done."
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The NDP to the rescue..

After bad mouthing the Conservatives for aeons and complaining about the Liberals propping up the Conservatives for a similar length of time, the White Knight socialist Layton gallops to the rescue of the right wing Harper because Harper is willing to give a few crumbs to the unemployed. I guess Layton is a supporter of trickle down Harperism. Never mind parliament is working, for Harper that is. Meanwhile the way is cleared for Ignatieff to come down with the harshest anti-Harper rhetoric since it is perfectly safe. I am waiting for Ignatieff to condemn the harmonised sales tax as a burden on consumers. This is from the Star.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says the Conservatives are undermining national institutions.
October 01, 2009 bruce campion-smithOttawa bureau chief
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has survived a Liberal move to topple his minority Conservatives but suffered a withering attack over his policies and style of government.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff delivered one of his most passionate speeches to date Thursday as he condemned the Conservatives' "terrible record of failure" and tried to persuade voters why Harper should be dumped after almost four years in office.
But Harper remains in power thanks to the tacit help of the New Democrats, who abstained from the late-day vote, denying the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois the votes they needed to defeat the government.
The non-confidence motion was defeated by a vote of 144 to 117, sparing Canadians an election just a year after the last one and what would have been the fourth trip to the polls in five years.
There was little drama in the vote since the NDP had already signalled they would not oppose the government, reversing a position that had seen the party fight just about every initiative proposed by the Conservatives.
Instead, they now say they will avoid defeating the government until improvements to employment insurance are passed.
But the Conservatives took a bruising during a day of debate when all opposition MPs lined up to take aim at the government's record and style of politics.
"This is a government that uses every opportunity to treat its adversaries as enemies, every opportunity to sow division for partisan gains and every opportunity to use public money to spread untruths," Ignatieff said in the Commons.
On issues such as the economy, climate change, swelling unemployment and Canada's position on the world stage, the government has failed Canadians, he said.
"The Conservatives have lost control of the public finances," Ignatieff said, citing a growing deficit he said could reach $60 billion by Christmas.
"All Canadians must understand that this deficit is going to hang around the necks of Canadians like a stone," he said.
He rattled off a list of complaints, charging that the government is more concerned with promoting its own image than getting Canadians to work or protecting them against the H1N1 flu pandemic.
He wrapped up his speech warning that the Conservatives have a "starve-the-beast ideology" to permanently weaken the institutions of the federal government. That risks changing Canada "beyond recognition," he said.
"If this ideology prevails in this country it will permanently weaken the tissues that bind our society together," Ignatieff said.
"This is an unworthy way to govern this country, and we stand against it," he told the House of Commons.
Harper shrugged off the Liberal gripes and accused Ignatieff of "flailing around trying to justify an election that nobody wants for a reason nobody understands.
"This government has important measures before the House, tax measures to help the Canadian economy, to help homeowners and the population. It has important measures before the House to help the unemployed and help workers," Harper said.
Liberals are vowing they will not support the government in future confidence motions, leaving the government on uncertain ground in the months ahead.
"If there are confidence votes to be taken, we will be voting no," Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said.
The vote came on a day when a new poll showed little change in voters' preferences. The Angus Reid/Toronto Star poll showed the Conservatives at 37 per cent, Liberals at 27 per cent, NDP at 17 per cent, Bloc Quebecois at 11 per cent and Greens at 6 per cent.
The poll of 1,000 Canadians was done Tuesday and Wednesday and is considered accurate within 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.