From Israel to ISIS: Harper's 'Orwellian' foreign policy
It's getting difficult to remember a time when the Canadian Parliament actually tried to make principled decisions regarding foreign policy and our place in the community of nations. But we should try. Perhaps a first step in returning to such a time was the decision of the NDP and Liberal Party to oppose Stephen Harper's most recent ill-considered and cynical march to war with his decision to join the bombing of Iraq.
Harper's amoral political calculations about who and when to bomb people has little to do with any genuine consideration of the geopolitical situation or what role Canada might usefully play -- or even in what Canada's "interests" are. So long as he is prime minister it will be the same: every calculation will be made with the single-minded goal of staying in power long enough to dismantle the post-war activist state. The nurturing of his core constituency includes appeals to a thinly disguised pseudo-crusade against Islamic infidels, a phony appeal to national security (preceded by fear-mongering) and in the case of Ukraine, a crude appeal to ethnic votes.
Two of the Prime Minister’s biggest tormentors have released books on the very same day. There is Justin Trudeau’s autobiography, Common Ground. On top of it comes a mammoth 534-page critique of his abuse of power called Party of One, from Michael Harris, one of Mr. Harper’s harshest journalistic critics.
The Trudeau book won’t satisfy critics who want big gaps filled on his policy thinking. But it is well-timed and neatly titled. Tories have been trying to cast him as Boy Blunder in the wake of his remarks on the air combat mission in Iraq and other bloopers. His book changes the channel. The title, Common Ground, works because it deflects from the image opponents like to cultivate: Mr. Trudeau as silver-spooned elitist.
The book fleshes out Mr. Trudeau’s back story. It tells us what’s behind the sizzle. There are poignant vignettes on his relationship with his father, one being witnessing his parent’s marriage breakup.
“I remember the bad times as a succession of painful emotional snapshots,” Justin writes. “Me walking into the library at 24 Sussex, seeing my mother in tears and hearing her talk about leaving while my father stood facing her, stern and ashen.”
Mr. Trudeau needed more fabric to his character. Common Ground helps to provide it.
A Newfoundland painter by the name of Skipper Drover, while not a brilliant scholar, was a gifted portrait artist. Over a short number of years, his fame grew and soon people from all over the country were coming to him in Long Harbour for his paintings. One day, a beautiful young woman pulled up to his house in a stretched limo and asked Skipper if he would paint her in the nude. This was the first time anyone had made this request and it had Skipper a bit perturbed. The beautiful lady told him that money was no object; in fact, she was willing to pay up to $50,000. Not wanting to get into trouble with his wife Skipper asked the lady to wait while he went in the house and conferred with Rose, his missus. In a few minutes he returned and said to the lady, “T’would be me pleasure to paint yer portrait, missus. The wife says it’s okay. I’ll paint ya in da nude, but I have ta leave me socks on so I have a place to wipe me brushes”
After 8 unsuccessful years in office Stephen Harpers rush to sign Free Trade Deals on behalf of Canadians have been an image seeking attempt to show his base that he is doing something for the economy.
The curious case of the Canada-Korea free trade deal
There are many motivations to explain the Harper government's rush to sign free trade deals. Since coming to power, the Conservatives have implemented six FTAs, "concluded" two more (with Korea and, purportedly, with the EU) and have fully 14 other FTA negotiations on the go.
To some extent Conservatives actually believe in these things. I doubt that even they honestly swallow the rhetoric about FTAs spurring major new jobs and growth here. But Conservatives clearly support the pro-business institutional framework that NAFTA-style deals help to permanently enshrine. And their backers in the business community are enthusiastic that more free trade commitments (including those dealing with services deregulation, intellectual property, liberalization of procurement, investor rights, national treatment, and other key non-tariff measures) will lock Canada into a business-dominated trajectory for many years after the Conservatives have been voted out of office.
However, I think that political factors are more important in explaining the Conservative rush to sign FTAs -- more than any belief that they would actually boost the economy. Given the consistently disappointing performance of the Canadian economy over the last three years, the government is concerned to "look busy": that is, it must be seen to be moving forcefully to do something about the economy.
Canada Con Revenue Agency - Birds&Bees vs GunsGunsGuns
The Canada Con Revenue Agency is bothering birdwatchers now. The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists pictured at left (membership-300, annual revenues-$16,000) got a stern letter from the CRA just after they sent a letterto two federal cabinet ministers complaining about government-approved neonicotinoid insecticides that damage bee colonies. CBC : "The stern missive says the group must take appropriate action as necessary "including refraining from undertaking any partisan activities," with the ominous warning that "this letter does not preclude any future audits."
The CRA has a special $13.4 million dollar program to audit political activity in charities, which are restricted to using under 10% of their natural resources for political activities and none for partisan activities.
The OFAH,a wonderful group dedicated to the preservation of all things angled and hunted, has boasted Stephen Harper as keynote speaker at their AGMs. Harper was accompanied yesterday by Con MP Robert Sopuck, founder and chair of the Tory Hunting and Angling Caucus.They discussed *conservation*. I'm guessing bees probably didn't come up.
I wonder if the OFAH ever worries about getting any stern letters regarding partisan/political activity from the CRA.
This year the OFAH receivedin government funding -$360,100 from the DFO, $67,000 from Jason Kenney's Employment and Social Development Canada, and $6,750 from Environment Canada.
As Ebola raged, Ottawa sold masks and gowns to highest bidder
Ottawa continued to auction off stockpiled medical supplies to the public, even after the World Health Organization requested the protective gear amid an Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa.
Sales of so-called Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes surgical masks and isolation gowns, also apparently took place despite requests that are said to have been made this summer via both Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the U.S. and a Canadian aid organization for donations to equip front-line health-care workers. And some of the low-priced auctioned gear landed in the hands of entrepreneurs who then tried to hawk the items for a profit.