Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feds should clean up energy sector, poll says

By Mike De Souza, Postmedia News 

OTTAWA — A majority of Canadians believe the energy sector is one of the most important parts of Canada's economy, and the federal government should lead the way in "cleaning" it up by finding alternatives to oil, says a newly released internal report.
The study, produced for Natural Resources Canada by Decima Research, found that 88 per cent of Canadians were either "very concerned" (47 per cent) or somewhat concerned (41 per cent) about the environmental impact of energy use and that 87 per cent were "very concerned" (46 per cent) or "somewhat concerned" (41 per cent) about the impact of energy production.
"There is not an expectation that Canada should transition overnight, but rather start the process of moving toward more environmentally friendly (but still reasonably cost-effective and reliable) sources in the medium term, and then further up the environmental continuum in a longer term future," wrote Doug Anderson, senior vice-president for Decima Research, in the report. "They believe that this may not happen without some form of leadership, with objectives and time frames in place for this transitional process, and ideally, investments made in facilitating this transition."
The report was based on a survey of 1,800 Canadian adults in June 2010, as well as 14 focus groups in seven cities across the country. The poll results are considered accurate within 2.3 percentage points, 95 per cent of the time.
The report also found that Canadians wanted to reduce their energy consumption and improve conservation habits, with 77 per cent either "very concerned" (36 per cent) or "somewhat concerned (41 per cent) about the price they were paying for energy.
"Participants tended to recognize that this transition may cost them (as consumers and as taxpayers) some money," said the report. "But they believed that an investment in this area has the potential for them, and for the country to benefit from, both economically and environmentally in future."
But they expressed "frustration" about barriers that prevent them from using cleaner energy for home heating, electricity or transportation such as a lack of alternative providers or being able to manage the up front costs. The report said participants expected the government to provide incentives in areas such as home energy retrofits, a sector where the government is winding down an existing program.
When asked about specific energy sources, oil received the poorest score with 89 per cent of Canadians expressing concerns about its environmental impact, versus 11 per cent who were not concerned, the report said.
Nuclear and coal energy were the next on the list with 74 per cent of respondents expressing concerns about their impacts, followed by natural gas at 60 per cent. But only 18 per cent of Canadians were "very concerned" about the impact of natural gas with 42 per cent saying they were "somewhat concerned" about consumption of this energy source.
"Regardless of the concerns, focus group discussions demonstrated a desire among participants for Canada to shift more toward cleaner energy sources or production," said the report. "It was commonly mentioned that Canada's energy supplies can be increased while simultaneously protecting the environment."
In comparison, 55 per cent were either "not very concerned" or "not at all concerned" about the impact of hydroelectricity.
The results also revealed some regional splits regarding the perception of different energy sources. For example, British Columbians demonstrated a higher degree of concern about oil and coal, while Ontarians had more concerns about coal than other parts of the country.
Quebec residents were much less concerned about impacts associated with hydroelectricity, the main source of energy in the province, than the rest of the country, while Canadians from Atlantic Canada, Manitoba and Saskatchewan appeared to be less concerned than others about oil, coal or nuclear, the report said.
But Canadians from every region viewed natural resources as being more important to the economy than the manufacturing and service industries. Overall, 50 per cent of Canadians view the sector as the most important one, followed by 29 per cent for manufacturing and 19 per cent for the service industry.
The report also found that 95 per cent of Canadians agreed that the energy sector was "important for economic development and job creation," with a majority of respondents (57 per cent) correctly identifying Canada as a net exporter of energy.
"Almost all focus group participants considered Canada to be playing a significant, if not leading, role in the world energy market," said the report.
When asked to identify Canada's most important natural resource, without prompting, 46 per cent of respondents said water, followed by 20 per cent who said oil, 14 per cent who said trees, eight per cent who said natural gas, seven per cent who said minerals and metals and three per cent who said fish.

Friday, December 24, 2010

This is one prediction I wish I was wrong about: No Oil Tanker ban in Canada

Read my lips: There's no oil tanker ban in Canada

Re: An oil spill would be inevitable if tankers allowed on B.C. coast, Letters, Dec. 23.

I want to clarify the issues related to oil tankers on Canada's Pacific Coast. There is no oil tanker traffic moratorium in Canada. I would also like to stress that oil tankers have been trading safely and regularly along the British Columbia coast for decades.

However, there is a federal moratorium in place on oil and natural gas exploration and development offshore of British Columbia. It does not apply to storing or moving oil tankers.
There is also a voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone that applies strictly to Trans-Alaska pipeline tankers moving south from Alaska to Washington State. It keeps U.S. tanker ships carrying oil 25-75 miles off the B.C. coast. The government has no plans to change the Tanker Exclusion Zone.

This zone was never meant to ban tanker traffic or tankers calling on Canadian ports. Each year, more than 1,000 tankers respect the Tanker Exclusion Zone. There are no reports of non-compliance.

I can assure readers that Canada's maritime regulations and standards, combined with international regulations require oil tankers to have double hulls. In addition, all ships including tankers use a specially-trained marine pilot in compulsory marine zones and undergo strict marine safety inspections.

This government has a zero-tolerance policy toward polluting Canada's marine environment. We will continue to enforce strong standards to ensure the safe transport of petroleum products along the B.C. Coast.

Chuck Strahl
Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/todays-paper/Read+lips+There+tanker+Canada/4023384/story.html#ixzz192lWNU68

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Suncor fined for dumping oilsands effluent

(Courtesy of CBC and The Canada Press)

Oilsands giant Suncor has been fined $200,000 for dumping material harmful to fish into a northern Alberta river.

Suncor Energy Inc. was fined Tuesday after pleading guilty to charges under the federal Fisheries Act.

Environment Canada says the fine was for the release of effluent in 2008 from sediment ponds built as part of Suncor operations near the Steepbank River north of Fort McMurray.

Much of the fine is to be paid into the federal government's Environmental Damages Fund.
Suncor officials could not be reached for comment.

The fine was imposed the same day that Ottawa promised to improve oilsands environmental monitoring after a report said there were "significant shortcomings" in the current system.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2010/12/22/alberta-suncor-oilsands-dumping-fine.html?ref=rss#ixzz18sPaeNrE

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another Conservative rejected by voters appointed a Harper Senator

Another Conservative rejected by voters appointed a Harper Senator

And Harper continues to stack the Senate, not with venerable, non-partisan,veteran statesmen, but with Conservative Cast-off Cronies over whom he can exercise complete control. And Canada drifts farther and farther away from democracy. Harper has won, he has his majority with out even having to go to the polls. With his usurping and undermining of the Senate, he no longer cares about a majority in the Lower House. God help us all!

Oil Sands Monitoring Woefully Inadaquate: Report

Courtesy of "Thestar.com
Allan Woods Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA — The Alberta oilsands may be a massive threat to water, wildlife and the atmosphere but no one can tell for sure thanks to the inability of governments to conduct proper environmental checks, a new report says.
Commissioned by the federal environment minister two months ago, an expert panel was asked if there was proper scientific oversight of the effects of oilsands development in northern Alberta.
“Do we have a world-class monitoring system in place? In short, no,” said Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the panel chair and former executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.
But she said the possibility exists to vastly improve the monitoring of water, land, air quality and wildlife for any impacts caused by the drilling and digging for sandy bitumen that is refined into the liquid gold that has driven the Canadian economy.
Both the provincial government in Edmonton and Ottawa have embraced the findings of the report, which identified a “lack of leadership and cooperation” for the patchwork of efforts to measure environmental degradation caused by the oil sands.
The Alberta government has already set up a panel to direct its plan for a new monitoring system. And in Ottawa, federal environment minister John Baird said he will work with the province to draw up a system to begin to monitor water quality within 90 days. Similar oversight for air quality, soil and biodiversity will follow, he said.
“The actions we take will be guided by science and by facts, not by politics and public relations,” Baird said.
Better monitoring of oil sands impacts could force the government to enact stricter regulations around activities if they are found to have negative effects on the environment, something that many scientists, First Nations and activists have long claimed.
But a report released last week by the Royal Society of Canada makes it clear it could have the opposite effect as well. Some environmental groups have had to estimate their calculations in some cases to claim negative effects from the oil sands, which have led to exaggerated findings.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers referred to this when praising the Dowdeswell report and said it was happy to see better monitoring and transparency in a murky and controversial sector of the economy.
“We’ve been happy to be judged by good science,” said Travis Davies, a spokesperson with the industry coalition.
Jim Prentice, the former federal environment minister, called for the panel after being shown pictures of fish caught downstream from the oilsands with tumors, curved spines and other deformities.
Natives communities living downstream from the developments on the Athabasca River have also complained about elevated cancer rates, but the mass of disconnected efforts by academics, industry and governments have so far failed to establish beyond doubt any detrimental effects from oil sand projects.
“Until these significant shortcomings are addressed there will continue to be debate about the data itself. There will continue to be uncertainty and public distrust both of industry’s environmental performance and government’s oversight,” Dowdeswell warned.
NDP environment critic Linda Duncan praised the panel’s work, but said it was a damning illustration of how Ottawa had shirked its responsibilities.
“The federal government has deserted Alberta for 40 years, left it to the province and the province has downloaded to industry and there’s no scientific oversight. That is the summation of where we are.”
Baird said he first plans to ask his department to work with its Alberta counterpart and the industry to better organize their monitoring efforts.
The report recommends making industry – not governments – pay for any unforeseen expenses. That was the only suggestion that Baird hesitated to endorse.
“We’ll get the facts first and come to that determination second,” he said.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Alberta said to be top industrial greenhouse gas emitter

Alberta said to be top industrial greenhouse gas emitter

(Courtesy of the Chronicle Herald)

EDMONTON (CP) — Experts say that figures on greenhouse gases in Canada suggest that Alberta’s economy is dangerously dependent on carbon-emitting industries.
Environment Canada says the province’s industrial emissions make up half of the country’s greenhouse gases even though Alberta has just over 10 per cent of its population.
David Keith of the University of Calgary says that leaves Alberta at risk as the world moves to penalize carbon production in an attempt to limit global warming.
The report says that between coal-fired power plants and oilsands facilities all four of Canada’s largest emitters are in Alberta.
The oilsands are the only industrial sector tracked in the report that increased emissions last year.
The province hopes to reduce some of its emissions through carbon capture and storage, but those projects won’t take effect for at least five years.
The report does not include emissions from small sources such as vehicles.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

So What Exactly DOES Harper Care About?

Elections Canada takes Tories to task over hidden campaign expenses - The Globe and Mail

So here is a rather abbreviated list of the things the Harper-Cons don't really care about:

- They don't care about  Environment. This is demonstrated by their refusal to comply with Canada's commitments to Kyoto when they first came to office in 2006. Subsequently, Harper has established no real policy or agenda regarding the environment and has  instead, attempted to dazzle Canadians with smoke and mirrors.

Harper has opened up once protected land in the North West Territories to Mining.

The Cons are allowing Canadian Coast Guard research vessels to be used by Big Oil companies such as BP (The Oil spill king) to troll for oil in the Arctic.

The Reform/Cons have removed funding for The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science, a major Canadian agency that has funded hundreds of projects researching the effects of climate change at local levels.  

Harper and the Cons continue to refute the environmental Impact of the Alberta Oil Sands. 

Canadian Diplomats have been actively promoting Alberta Oil with Big American Oil Lobby groups in an effort to get them to "Buy Alberta" and to influence American Environmental Policy.

Harper has allowed Enbridge to begin construction of a pipe line from Alberta to the B.C. Coast despite a majority of both Federal and Provincial officials objecting to the presence of Oil Tankers off B.C.s pristine coastline. 

Canada has no emergency action plan in the event of an oil spill in the Arctic.

Jim Flaherty has claimed that he sees a future where Canada will be an energy Super Power. I'm sorry, but you can't be both an Energy Super Power and environmentally responsible. 

- Harper doesn't care about You and Me: As citizens of Canada we are deemed to be expendable in Harpers maniacal push to have his agenda fulfilled. Case in point, the government has gone to great lengths to downplay or completely dispel the notion that the oil Sands are having any kind of health effect on Local First Nations people. 

It Doesn't matter that both the Oils Sands and Mining in the Horn Plateau In the NWT will have an irreversible effect  on First Nations traditional way of life in those regions.

Harper refuses to repatriate Canadians charged with criminal offences in Foreign countries... unless they are a middle aged white Anglo-Saxon Protestant woman convicted of fraud in Mexico. 

Harper had an independent members bill killed by the Senate that was intended to see to it that disabled Nortel Employees get a reasonable share in the company's bankruptcy proceedings. And this just seemed to be out right mean spirited. Who knows how this fits into Harper's agenda, but with a stroke of a pen, he screwed over 400 or so Desperate Canadian Citizens. 

- Harper doesn't care about Gays, AIDS, Impoverished African nations,  Palestinians, most anyone else who isn't white and Christian. It is quite well known that Harper has very strong religious and Conservative views about Gays and Gay marriages. He and his narrow minded cronies have only put up with them until now because they have been restricted by the confines of a minority government. But now that Harper has learned how to manipulate Democracy and the rule of majority through the debasement of the Senate, look for this to change fairly soon.

Harper has developed no policy nor even attended any international conferences held on the scourge of AIDS. In Africa, the continent that is most devastated by the virus, Harper is reducing financial support and tying what support that remains to whether or not the money will be used to fund legal abortions. Canada you see, won't fund abortions in poor developing nations. He barely puts up with it here in Canada where therapeutic abortions have been legal for over 40 years. But give him time, especially if he's elected with a majority in the Spring of 2011.

Harper, instead of keeping the flow of money to poor developing nations in Africa going, is beginning to siphon of huge sums of money, diverting those funds to South American Countries that are by and large, better off than their African counterparts and, coincidentally, predominantly Catholic, which African nations are not. Of course, In Catholic countries, Abortions are not condoned.

Harper has stated his blind, unequivocal,  un-repentant support for the state of Israel. He has told the Palestinians there can be no peace until they cease their assaults on their Jewish neighbours. Therefore, there can be no Palestinian state. There is no mention however, of Israel encroachment on Palestinian land with the continued construction of settlements, or the treatment of Palestinian citizens by the Israeli military.

- Harper doesn't care about Democracy: Harper did exactly what he said he would never do, appoint a Senator to the Upper Chamber. So not only was this a lie, it was a whopper. He has appointed no less than 32 Senators with in a short period of time, most of them Conservative Cronies who weren't successful in obtaining seats in the Elected House of Commons. So the Harperist Reform/Cons now have an undisputed majority in the Senate and Harper has complete and utter control over these men and women. He has no remorse what so ever in using them to arbitrarily pass or kill any bill he wants, regardless of whether or not it received majority support by the elected official in the Commons. "Democracy be damned". Say's he 

As we all know, Harper has not once but twice, Prorogued Parliament. Once in 2008 to avoid a vote of non-confidence which would have seen him hand over the reigns of Government to the Elected Majority in the House, and again in 2009 in an effort to halt all debate and investigation over the alleged abuse of Afghan Detainees who Canadian Troops routinely hand over to the notorious Afghan security forces. It has been a year now since that occasion and there has still been no answers or accounting from the government regarding this issue.

The Government has told Staffers not to attend as witnesses at Committee hearings. For that matter, as in the Detainee issue, even Ministers don't show up. And in what ever committees the Cons participate in, they continue to play the same unseemly and unethical hyper-partisan politics that they play on a daily basis in the Lower, and now Upper Houses, thereby obstructing the effectiveness of any committee work.

Harper spends $16 billion to buy fighter aircraft without consulting with Parliament and in that same vain, refused to consult with our elected officials when he decided to extend Canada's mission in Afghanistan past the 2011 dead line he himself had established. 

-And now, it appears that Harper cares nothing for the law: As per the article linked above, Harper has basically given Elections Canada the finger with regard to the allegations (well substantiated by proof by the way)That the Cons over spent on their National Campaign budgets in 2006 and knowingly miss-allocated funds in an effort to disguise the extra expenditures. Harper and his Cronies have promised to have EC tied up in court indefinitely in an effort to cover up their indiscretions. 

But this Government taking people to court is nothing new. They routinely have waged wars of attrition on whistle-blowers or those seeking damages from the Government, their apparent tactic being to appeal and to appeal again until these people run out of money, or simply go away in frustration. 

The Harper Government spent $1.3 million of tax payers money to ensure that Omar Khadr would not only remain in Guantanamo Bay but guarantee that his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedom as well as various UN accords would continue to be denied him. The Supreme Court of Canada found the Harper Con Government to be seriously in breech of the Charter but stopped short of ordering them to repatriate the young man. So instead, The Harper Cons allow him to plead guilty in front of a Kangaroo Court and continue to deny this boys rights under law.

So with all this, and this is far from being an exhaustive list, just what does Harper and the Harpies care about? Well they care about Alberta Oil. It is their primary reason for being in Ottawa. They care about clinging to power. They will bend, break and outright obliterate the rights of others, the law and Democracy itself to do so. They Care about Alberta Oil too by the way. Oh, and Harper Governs according to his own narrow minded ideology as shaped by his religious beliefs.So he cares about Christianity, no matter how un-Christian his views and actions seem to be.

Oh, and have I mentioned that Harper's primary goal is to protect and promote Alberta Oil?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Harper and Baird, All Bluster on the Enviornment.

Climate-change reputation in tatters? Try blustering - The Globe and Mail

I have to wonder why it is that most people, at least most reasonable people (American Right Wing Christian Family Values Lobby groups don't count) around the world have figured out that John Baird and Stephen Harper are full of shit, yet here at home, a good 30% (or 39% if you believe the Conservative polls) still feel that  Harper and the Harpies are the greatest thing since enriched white bread, sliced at that.
If John Baird blusters on about forests, and no one gives a shit, does he really make any noise at all? Apparently so at home in Canada here.

It is indeed a conundrum. But I guess the rest of the world isn't exposed  to the daily doses of vitriolic, hyper-partisan "Truth Bending" that we here in the frigid North are exposed to on a daily basis. 

You see, Harper and his cadre of pretty-boy office clerks at the PMO has learned that if you shout the same lie often enough, it becomes a believable truth. Like with the environment for example. 

Harper and his pet Monkey Baird have been trumpeting all week, the creation of an aquatic nature reserve at Lancaster Sound north of Baffin Island in the Arctic. By doing so, coincidentally just prior to the UN Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, a believable illusion is created that portrays the New-Cons as champions of the environment and protectors of the fragile Arctic and it's indigenous people. 

While it is a fact that this reserve has been created, they don't mention that 14,000 km of the Horn Plateau in the NWT has also been declared open season for mining exploration thus sending the rather unequivocal message that the Harper-Feds don't give a flying fig about endangered species, lush Boreal forests, delicate Tundra or Indigenous people. And in this particular case, Chuck Strahl, Harper's hand puppet for Northern Development had promised the Territory and the local First Nations groups faithfully, that this land would continue to be protected. A lie that was repeated so often, that these groups concerned with protection of the Arctic, naively wrapped up in a false sense of security,  never  saw the truck that hit them.

And of course, Baird and Harper frequently speak of their "Aggressive Made in Canada" strategy for combating climate change. And we know that there is no strategy, just a lot of smoke and mirrors. That in fact, the Reform/Conservatives single biggest priority is protecting the Alberta Oil Sands at all cost. The same Oil Sands that are the single worst polluter in the country. The same Oil Sands that local First Nations groups have said are producing higher than average rates of cancer among their people, and The Harper Government has gone to great lengths to disprove. The same Oil Sands that Former Harper staffer Ezra Levant wrote about in his best selling book "Ethical Oil" which perpetuates the myth that Alberta Oil does no irreversible harm to the environment.

And the Oil Sands of course are the primary reason why Canadian diplomats have been meeting with big American Petro-Lobby groups in an effort to  influence American policy makers regarding their environmental objectives and to flog Alberta Oil over oil from say, Venezuela or Saudi Arabia.

And it is on the behalf of Alberta Oil, that Harper and Baird have gone to such great lengths to scuttle attempts by the UN to establish effective targets for reducing green house gasses. 

So despite what you've heard to the contrary fellow Canadians, Harper didn't go to Ottawa to create a kinder, gentler nation or to free us from the Liberal attitude of entitlement. He went there for one reason and one reason only. Alberta Oil. He doesn't care about you, he doesn't care about me, and he most certainly doesn't care about democracy. We are all expendable collateral damage in his war to keep the oil flowing out of Alberta. 

So with this in mind, look for Oil Tankers to be hauling up to the B.C coast in the near future, despite recent legislation in the House of Commons to ban the threat of Tankers and subsequent oils spills off B.C's coast. Harper has the majority in the Senate and he has no remorse what so ever in overturning the elected majority in the lower house to keep the oil flowing. And Enbridge of course, also wouldn't be spending Millions of dollars to construct a pipe-line from Alberta to the B.C. coast for nothing. There has to be a way to move the oil once it gets there.

And I think the scariest and most telling comment of all came recently from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty when he stated that he sees a future where Canada will be an "Energy Super Power". And odds are boys and squirrels, he's not talking about anything remotely close to environmental friendly energy. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

The lion of the House

The lion of the House - Beyond The Commons - Macleans.ca

What ever your feelings about Bob Rae, and in Onatrio, there are several
strong and opposing views, the man hit the nail on the head in this
video. As Mr. Wherry says in his preamble, ya gotta love a well
delivered speech. And note the absence of paper. This was off the cuff
...and from the heart.

The video speaks for itself.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Should Result in a Vote of Non-Confidence

The Following is a copy of an email I sent to half a dozen or so Liberal and NDP Members of Parliament including Michael Ignatieff.:

"Dear Friends and elected Canadians

The following is a twitter post (sorry, just can't bring my self to say tweet) posted by me.

"This was a sleazy, cheesy move that should result in a vote of no-confidence:Ottawa opens Arctic to miners http://j.mp/hsRk76 via @AddToAny'"

Please take note of the subject matter. "Ottawa opens up Arctic to miners".

That this move should even be considered is unconscionable.  But the manner in which it was carried out was criminal. It was, as in true Harper fashion, all done behind the backs of Canadians and Parliament to boot. There was NO discussion, NO consultation, NO debate.

One has to wonder what lobbiests got to Mr. Harper this time? And Who is getting kick-backs from this deal this time.

This is just further proof that Harper Cares NOTHING for the environment, cares NOTHING for the country and cares EVEN LESS about democracy. How long will this man be allowed to RAPE our country. He has manipulated himself into a position of absolute power because of having full control of the Senate. He can pass or turn down any bill he wants to now. He has made a MOCKERY of the
House of Sober Second Thought and of the entire Canadian Democratic system. He has tarnished it beyond recognition yet NO ONE will make an effort to stop this MEGALOMANIAC!

There was a failed attempt at a coalition in 2008. I wonder if anyone will take one seriously now, or if the parties involved would even be willing any more. Even if there were a federal election tomorrow, if Harper was re-elected with a minority, (heaven help us all if he ever got a majority) his being allowed to rule should not even be an option. It should be" government  by coalition".

This man is a criminal. He has violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms countless times and lied, cheated and stolen is way into absolute power. He MUST BE STOPPED. WHEN WILL OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES STEP UP TO THE PLATE FOR THE SAKE OF THE COUNTRY?

Please, for the sake of Canada, for the sake of the great society that we hold dear, for the sake of our loved ones and our children's future. Please put a stop to this man before it is too late.


Please Get active. Get Involved. Write your MP, tell him/her that enough is enough. We, as Canadians, lovers of Peace, freedom and democracy demand our Country be returned to us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Of Boot-Camps and Scabs

CBC News - World - Ottawa spending billions on consultants: union

So as the Government now out-sources so much of it's work that should be done by the public service, watch for them to trumpet the great savings they've made by reducing the size of government.

It would be a blatant "skewing of the facts", but it isn't unique. In Ontario in the 90s, one of then Premier Mike Harris's hot button election topics was "getting tough on youth crime". Sound familiar? He, like Harper, used fear mongering to capture votes rather than hope for the future.

Harris was a proponent of U.S. style "boot camps" for young offenders, where the kids get yelled at, maligned and bossed around by drill sergeant-like correctional officers. The image seemed to appeal to the public at the time, regardless of the fact that American research had already shown the boot camp model to be less effective then other, rehabilitative "up-front" methods of reducing recidivism in young offenders. But Harris was committed to the notion so like Harper, it was "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" with his borderline abusive notion of getting tough on punks.

So millions of dollars were siphoned off of already existing programs that were, at the time, doing exemplary work with young offenders, to fund an experimental boot camp near Barrie Ontario. The candidates (offenders) were hand-picked and every resource imaginable was poured into the project. And as the program progressed, the rate at which graduates re-offended after their release was carefully tracked. But the data was skewed. What was counted as re-offending was if a youth for example, charged with car theft, stole more cars in the future. But if he did a break and enter, this was not counted as re-offending. Thus, the Harris Conservatives attempted to trumpet the success of their project which, in the end, looked nothing like a boot camp and in reality, proved to be no more or less effective than other means of rehabilitating youthful offenders being used at the time. Oh, and this project was overseen by Minister of Corrections Bob Runciman, who incidental,couldn't legitimately get elected to Federal Parliament after his tenure with Harris, but was instead appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper.
"Senator"Bob Runciman 

So the skewing of data is not a new method of proving the efficacy of a program, project or philosophy, especially if the program, project or philosophy is flawed in the first place.

But I am jumping ahead of my self here. This is only my take on what Harper might do with this scenario. He hasn't done it yet and in the end, he might surprise us all and give us the straight facts on what the costs of running his government are. And pigs can fly.......

But regardless of what Our esteemed  Prime Minister intends to do with his data, It is indeed amazing that the rampant use of "Consultants"/Contract workers has been allowed to occur to the extent that it has. The feds haven't actually shrunk the size of government, they have increased it by creating an unregulated parallel public service that has been outsourced to the private sector.

What amazes me is that the union representing these federal public servants has not been more aggressive in their protest of the use of "temp" employees by the government. These "Consultants" are most certainly taking work away from existing public servants and have prevented the hiring of other unionised personnel who would then have the opportunity to acquire benefits.

But there-in lies the rub. These Contract workers are not earning benefits. An employees benefits could easily be a cost to the government of as much as 14% of an employees salary on top of what they might earn. So there could well be a savings to the government in what is spent on public employees. But one has to wonder, when the contracts to these private sector temps are being negotiated, are the lack of benefits being off-set by an increased salary? With each contract likely being negotiated on an individual basis, it would be extremely difficult to calculate what, if any, the real savings might be.

So if I were a rampant NDP'er, I'd be screaming "Scabs to the right of us,  Scabs to the left of us...." from the top of the Parliament buildings. The Government is doing a fine job of incorporating a cheesy, union busting cost savings tactic that is all too common in the private sector today. But at what risk?

Garry Corbett, the Union Official who, according to the CBC article, is researching the Governments use of Consultants, is quick to recall the horror of Walkerton as an example of what could happen when the Public Service is slashed indiscriminately as was the case with the Harris regime in Ontario. People died unnecessarily. And thus far, Harper seems to have no difficulty putting his agenda ahead of Canadian lives. Placing the profits from the Alberta Oil Sands ahead of the health risks to local Indian populations is a case in point. But as far as we know, no one has actually died yet as a result of the Federal Governments use of "scab" labour.

What is also of great concern, is what these Consultants are being used for. As the CBC article states, these people are now being used to help form policy. That's right campers, these Temps with no vested interest in our Government except for what their salary is, are forming policy that could conceivably have an impact on your life and mine. And once the policy is made, these "fly-by-nighters" are long gone. And if that policy has serious flaws or dire consequences, who is to be held accountable? Well at the moment, it seems like no one in the Harper Government is accountable for anything.

And what about privacy and access to information. It already appears that the senior bureaucracy has issues regarding leaky security and indiscriminate access to confidential files. But what if you add hundreds of private sector temps to this mix?  Is your confidential information and mine accessible to these people? And does their access end when they leave the job they're doing for the government? And what might or could be done with any confidential information they may have acquired once they return to the private sector?

It seems our Government bureaucracy is being privatized in a big way right under our very noses, with out any kind of discussion or consultation. These are services and functions that are in place to serve us, the citizens of Canada, yet this process has not even been discussed with the officials we have elected to speak on our behalf. The members of the Canadian House of Commons. But then again, Harper has never been big on consultation, collaboration or even democracy for that matter.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

There are other Names for Harper's Exclusionary policies.

Harper and his cronies are exclusionary. We've all heard the accusation before, probably even uttered the words ourselves. But what exactly does this mean? What is it that makes the Harper Cons exclusionary?

Well to start with, we know that Harper is Evangelical Christian. This doesn't necessarily mean that Evangelical Christians are any more intolerant than any other religious group. But we do know that the man tends to form policy based on ideology rather than on facts, figures or socially progressive tenants. And it certainly does seem that his ideals are firmly rooted in his religious beliefs.

Harper also tends to talk a lot about "family values". His idea of family though seems to be firmly rooted in the Christian definition of the word, or at least, is based on some old reruns of "leave it to Beaver" or "Father Knows Best". It certainly doesn't seem to include the modern concept of family which can encompass single parent families, children raised by extended family members, blended families or families with common law parents or two same sex parents. We know that a portion of Harper's political funding comes from The Family Resource Council, a powerful American Christian right wing Lobby. This group by the way, was recently declared a "hate group" by Southern Poverty Law Centre in the States. None the less, these guys must see a kindred spirit in good ol' Steve.

But Harper frequently utters the phrases Canadian Values and Family Values in the same breath. But as illustrated above, he excludes a great many Canadian Families when he does. So he may not be including your family or mine in the shiny new Canada he hopes to create, but hey! "Harper Knows Best".

Taking this family theme a little farther, we also know that Harper and his Funky Bunch define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. He therefore, excludes gay couples in his utopia. In fact, he excludes gays altogether. They are sinners you see.

Early in his tenure, Harper chose to take a voyage to the Arctic to get a first hand look at ice-burgs rather than attend, let alone act as host, for a world wide conference on AIDS held in Toronto. As recent as last week, a Gala for World Wide AIDS recognition and research was held in Toronto. Not a single Harper Con Cabinet Minister attended. So not only does it appear that there is no room for gays in Harper's Canada, it would seem that he would rather see them all die off. He forgets of course, that AIDS is no longer considered a disease exclusive to homosexuals. But I guess any heterosexual person who contracts the virus, regardless of the means, is probably promiscuous and is thus, to be excluded from Harpers brave new world order.

Africa, the continent most ravaged by the horror of AIDS has of recent years, received $14 billion in aid annually from Canada. But it has been recently announced that a sizeable portion of that money will now be diverted to South American countries instead, countries that are on the whole, better off than most of the African nations Canada had previously providing assistance to.

Harper claims the reason for this is to reconnect with our American neigbours. But lets not forget the Con's blatant disregard for the seriousness of the AIDS epidemic. Could it be that reallocation of this foreign aid is rooted in Harpers idealogical hatred of gays or disregard for the scourge of AIDS that is devastating that continent? Could it be that Harper would rather see that money go to countries that are devoutly Catholic as most South American Counties are rather than the mixed bag of religions, including Islam, that are to be found on the African Continent?

And what about abortion? As recently as this past spring, Harper has made it clear that foreign aid will not be provided to countries that use it to fund abortions. The notion of pro-life or anti-abortion is of course, a very Christian one. And since the Catholic Church is so strong in South America, abortions are not condoned. So has Harper excluded vast amounts or financial assistance to impoverished African countries based on the proliferation of the AIDS virus, Muslims and the practise of abortion?

And where do immigrants stand in Harper's idea of the perfect Canadian Society? Recent changes to the standard citizenship exam have been modified to the point where there is now an 80% failure rate. Will this mean deportation for many new Canadians or are we looking at an American type system that forces new arrivals to divest themselves of their culture. It seems that this is what Minister Tony Clement would have in mind. He has said that it "bothered" him to walk into a public place and hear two people speaking in their native language rather than one of Canada's two official Languages.

So it would seem that large numbers of immigrants may well be excluded from Harper's Canada.

And this list of exclusions is certainly not exhaustive. Harper wont repatriate a tortured Muslim Child soldier from our neighbours to the south, but he will go out of his way to repatriate a middle aged White Anglo Saxon woman convicted of fraud in Mexico and subsequently allows her to walk free. And what about people who just plain disagree with Harper. If they are Canadian civil Servants, they aren't just excluded, they are fired. Political opponents are discredited and if at all possible, have their careers ruined.

So it seems that according to Harper's "Canadian values", a huge number of Canadians are excluded from the society that he would create. Though what would become of us is anybodies guess. Put us up in one of his nice new shiny Correctional centres perhaps. But going down the list of groups that Harper would exclude, it would seem that there could be far worse adjectives that could describe this man other than exclusionary. In fact, exclusionary would seem to be nothing more than euphemistic sugar-coating.

I have accused Harper of many evil things in this blog, but even I hesitate to use the adjectives that could be used to describe Harper's exclusionary motives. But I am quite confident that, if he were ever held to account for those motives in a court of justice, most of them would run afoul of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.