Okay Canada Senate - Prove you have balls!

The Stephen Harper government's omnibus crime bill is making its final stop in the Commons this week before heading off to the Senate. 

  I recall having a conversation with two political reporters at a Progressive Bloggers event in the East Block on Parliament Hill.  Our host was the well respected Progressive Conservative, Senator Elaine McCoy.  I should also note that I believe she is the last Senator standing in the Senate as a Progressive Conservative, steadily defying Stephen Harper and his Reform minded colleagues. 

We had a big discussion on the value of the Senate. I was for throwing it out and two parliamentary reporters were all for keeping it. They agreed it was a little undemocratic, yet okay in a democracy and far superior to the American model of elected Senators. 

They cited the example of Parliament putting the boots to abortion and the Senate stopping it. We can thank the Senate for one maybe four or five occasions when it did not follow its political masters in the House Of Commons and abortion remained legal. 

So here is a major test.  Every person in Canada pretty much knows that crime is way down. Almost every person in Canada knows someone that smokes dope. The new crime bill brings massive change and costs.  We will see many more Canadians in jail. We will see the cost of keeping them there sky-rocket.  Almost every progressive voice in this country says this is wrong.
I have a question for all you good people that support the Senate. Will the chamber of so called 'sober second thought' stop the omnibus crime bill as it is?
I'm willing to reconsider supporting a senate of some kind if the Senate we have today steps up to the plate and tosses this legislation right back at Harper.  Its time my two political buddies on Parliament Hill start proving the Senate has value.  Its time the MSM start calling on the Senate to full fill its mandate. 


BC Last in Child Poverty - Eight years running

So in doing some research into Premier Clark and her BC Liberal Government, I discovered what I already suspected was the case. BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada.  In fact, they have had the worst record of child poverty for eight years in a row.  Kinda makes you proud to be from BC right?  

Christy Clark, the Great 'not' Gordo hope for Families in BC wants to put Families First.  What is she doing about it ... 

As Paul Wilcocks points out   ...when it was reported that B.C. had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada for the eighth consecutive year, Premier Christy Clark rejected calls for a plan to address the problem, with targets, actions and a requirement for an annual report on “progress or lack of progress,” to use Falcon’s words.  Why no plan? Clark and the other ministers never offered a coherent reason. Because there isn’t one. 

Its astonishing that the province in Canada that for the last five years has been billing itself as The Best Place on Earth, has more poor kids per-capita than any other province in our country.  

I found this here.

Perhaps this slogan would have been a little more honest 

BC Liberals Deadly Silent on Queers in School

I know of a few of my blogging friends here in Ontario, people on the progressive side of politics (today that means almost anyone that isn't a Conservative), who support the BC Liberals and in particular, Christy Clark.  Supporting Christy Clark puts your progressive credentials on the line.

Premier Christy Clark
Clark is a slightly younger version of Stephen Harper.  She better than Gordon Campbell because, well, she's not Gordon Campbell. The packaging is different, the product inside is the same.   

No doubt there are good people in that party who are socially progressive.  These people don't stand a chance however as getting votes in bible belt BC requires the party to cater to regressive southern baptist like attitudes.  Something The Liberals are good at, just as the Social Credit party was for years.  

In the recent BC municipal elections, the right wing religious folks in the NDP stronghold of Burnaby waged a mighty war against the NDP friendly school board, because the  board brought in a strong anti-homophobia policy. What's interesting here is the lack of response to the hateful anti-queer campaign waged by the Parents’ Voice slate for school board from the BC Liberal government.

Some more history...
"On January 8, 2011 Christy Clark promised the gay community that homophobic bullying would be among her top priorities if she were to become premier. But homophobia is not mentioned in Clark's new education policy released on February 14th, this year. Clark spokesperson Shane Mills told Xtra on February 15 that Clark did not want to bury her bullying policy in the general education document. He said it would be released in conjunction with Pink Shirt Day on February 21 or 22.” (Jeremy Hainsworth, Xtra West, Feb. 15, 2011)
It didn't happen. 

Hon. Mary Polak
There's still no plan on the part of the BC Liberal government to bring in any anti-homophobia curriculum changes in BC schools.  And I for one am not surprised when one of BC's most famous homophobes, Mary Polak is a key member of Premier Clark's cabinet.  

Polak's government bio site states that she served nine years on the Surrey School board and boasts of her efforts to balance the books.  Not surprisingly, she doesn't mention spending One million School Board tax dollars to keep books about same sex families out of the schools.  She lost in the end.  
See The Silence on Sex Candidate

Christy Clark has a long history of playing both sides of the homophobia debate. In 2003, then Education Minister, Christy Clark convened a “Safe Schools Task Force” – their report acknowledged that concerns about homophobia figured prominently in submissions and that attempts to raise the issue of homophobia in schools often met with resistance. Yet despite the acknowledgement of a culture of homophobia in the school system, the report offered no recommendations aimed at addressing these serious concerns. “Even though the report infers a connection between bullying based on sexual orientation and suicide and murder, it offers no standard anti-homophobic harassment guidelines in its recommendations. Homophobia does not even rate a mention." (Jeremy Hainsworth, Xtra West, Sept. 4, 2003) 

The report did not even say the word homophobia. 

Hon. Barry Penner
Now Barry Penner, long time Liberal MLA from Chilliwack-Hope has retired. That means a by-election.  The riding is part of BC's Bible belt. Its an area the BC Liberals will have to win in the next election if they have any hope of staying in power.  The BC Lberals are fighting a rear guard action as the BC Conservative party looks to take some seats in the next election.  

The writing is on the wall for queer kids in BC schools.  The current government lead by Premier Clark will do nothing more to protect them.  In fact in Premier Clark claimed that protecting LGBT students was a local issue: "Local school boards can make their own rules about these things." (Christy Clark, Global TV, June 15, 2011)  

Christy Clark is Gordon Campbell in drag, which is funny to say in a way, seeing as future drag queen/kings get no help from her government.


You cannot support Christy Clark and the BC Liberals and call yourself progressive. 


Yikers, Who hasn't recorded Little Drummer Boy

Okay, something different I always liked the song, Little Drummer Boy. Im not a christian, yet I find this song comforting. So I decided to gather a few versions. Its all my buddy Michael Yoder's fault. He posted a an okay version of the song on facebook.
Then Bob Dylan did this version
Then Justin Bieber abig time Christian, does this really yucky version of the song...
This is a little better an likely the most popular version to last 30 years or more. Boney M Josh Groban does a great job here and then Dolly does it And in 1970 Michael and the rest of the Jackson Five recorded what I am seeing is a song recorded by almost anyone who has done a Christmas Album

NYPD harass media and Undercover cop is caught

AMAZING video of a journalist not taking crap from NYPD. The reporter is told that he can not be there filming the protest. The police manhandle him, shout at him and continue to direct him away. The reporter is having none of that. Its fortunate for the reporter that there were many other cameras recording the incident. No cameras and the reporter is charged with assaulting a police officer and then resisting arrest. The world is watching. In this video an undercover cop is exposed and takes a swipe at the protester filming him. Cover blown.

Who Knew it was legal to Camp at Best Buy

Don't Mess up Like Texas - maybe too late?

We still have time to raise awareness on Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill being rammed through the House of Commons by the Stephen Harper Conservatives.

This would be funny if it weren't so true.  Crime rates at record low levels and a crazy government decides it needs to get tough on crime.

They take on Texas like program just as Texas decides it doesn't work.

It's rife with potential comedy as bumbling Conservative Prime Minister and his sidekick justice Minister convince a country that they are facing crime around every corner.  They build gazebos to hide cash for retirement and then use government helicopters to spend time at planning retreats hosted by rich people.  It goes so well they decide to try something even more outrageous.

Ethical Oil they scream!  LOL that's a good one.  What's next for all of us.  Hey I know...

Leadnow provides these links on Bill C-10

  1. 10 reasons to oppose Bill C-10, Trinda L. Ernst, President, Canadian Bar Association:
  2. Texas conservatives reject Harper's crime plan - 'Been there; done that; didn't work,' say Texas crime-fighters (CBC):
  3. Tough on crime bill will hurt First Nations, Atleo says:
  4. Provinces wont foot bill for crime legislation, McGuinty warns PM:
  5. Leadnow petition: http://www.leadnow.ca/keep-canada-safe
    Avaaz petition: http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_harpers_cruel_crime_bill/
  6. Bill C-10 in full: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=5124131&file=4


Aransas County Judge William Adams Beats Daughter

This is horrifying.  No parent should ever get away with this.  I know many parents 20 and 30 years ago did this.  It was wrong then and it is wrong today.  The person beating his daughter in the video below is a Family Law Judge in Texas.  This man is suppose to be someone who upholds the law and can be respected.  I tried to watch this video three times so far.  I have only managed to watch the first 4 minutes and the last 45 seconds.

(CBS/AP) McALLEN, Texas - The Texas family law judge whose daughter secretly videotaped him savagely beating her in 2004 has been suspended as a judge by the Texas Supreme Court.
According to an order signed Tuesday by the clerk of the state's highest court, Aransas County court-at-law Judge William Adams is suspended immediately with pay pending the outcome of the inquiry started by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct earlier this month. CBS

This video is traumatizing.  I have chosen to post it because its vitally important that people know just what kind of man this Judge is.  I know people that as children were the victim of this kind of violence.  Its vital we stop it where ever we see it.

From You Tube:  2004: Aransas County Court-At-Law Judge William Adams took a belt to his own teenage daughter as punishment for using the internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase at the time. She has had ataxic cerebral palsy from birth that led her to a passion for technology, which was strictly forbidden by her father's backwards views. The judge's wife was emotionally abused herself and was severely manipulated into assisting the beating and should not be blamed for any content in this video. The judge's wife has since left the marriage due to the abuse, which continues to this day, and has sincerely apologized and repented for her part and for allowing such a thing, long before this video was even revealed to exist.


Harper and his Omni-crime Bill

The Stephen Harper Conservatives are about to add to the cost of government.  Justice will soon cost us much more than it does now.  We all have heard about the cost to build new prisons and housing the new influx of prisoners due to minimum sentences contained in Bill C-10, the omni-crime bill.  Most the burden will be on the provincial side of spending.

The costs don't stop there.  We will need more courtrooms, more judges and staff, more legal aid and of course more prosecutors whom like everyone else in the legal system is overworked.  Again, most of these costs are borne by the provinces.

So while the Federal Conservative government delivers tough on crime laws for its base, they also plan to cut the cost of federal prosecutors by ten percent.

It’s rare for a judge to criticize the judicial system, but a clearly frustrated Justice Peter Tetley of the Ontario Court of Justice told a hearing in Newmarket in September that even without the extra load from new federal legislation, the situation is critical.
After being told by a Crown prosecutor that the first available date for a one and a half day trial was January 2013, Tetley accepted that the delay was unconstitutional and apologized to the defendant.
“If you don’t have enough people to try the cases and enough support staff to process them and you continue to hire police officers to arrest people, this is what happens,” he said. “So consequently, we’re in a predicament where we’re setting dates, that unless they can be brought forward, these charges are not going to be viable."

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Judicial+system+crisis+Crown+prosecutors+warn/5735714/story.html#ixzz1eJEby5be

Its all going to cost more, more people in jail, longer waits to go to trial and the likelihood we will see charges dismissed due to waits of two years or more.

Of course Harper is spreading the cost with little or no input from those he expects to pay.  So far Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia have made it clear they are not happy with this.  Lets see how the provinces deal with this while attempting to reign in their own budgets.


Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi | UCDavis Bicycle Barricade

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi | UCDavis Bicycle Barricade

Police use pepper-spray against sitting Students

The rule of thumb in use-of-force: police are prohibited from applying more physical force than is necessary to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement task.
H/t to Joshua Holland

Watch the video below of university students.  The students are sitting.  The students are not threatening. They are sitting very peacefully.  Then a police office pulls out his pepper spray and walks down the line of sitting students and sprays everyone of them.

The students remain in place despite the spray.  The officer then goes back and sprays the students again. The police then randomly selecting students to be arrested.

Having arrested a few students, the police start backing out.  It is amazing to watch as the police back out.  They know they have used excessive force.  If you have a child or loved one in University, whether you agree with the occupy movement or not, do you feel that your child or loved one should be pepper sprayed because they were protesting in such a peaceful fashion?

Do you think the police could have used much less force?  Do you think the police even had to act here in the first place?

 What this video shows is the incredible lengths the police will go to end a peaceful protest. Its becoming far too common. Police seem to be ready to use extraordinary force to quell even the politest of protests.


'blind-sided by the force Occupiers have unleashed'

John Moore nails it in today's column in the National Post...
But the anger out there isn’t about knee-jerk anti-capitalism or grieving those who create genuine wealth. It’s about pushing back against those who got us into this mess by gaming the system. They were bought out with our money and had the gall to then insist they couldn’t possibly continue to do their jobs unless they collected Christmas bonuses that amount to three times the salary of a flight attendant.
As he points out in his column today, when families can no longer get by or plan to have a pension to retire, when education becomes too expensive, look out. We are in a period of severe instability. The economy is fragile and our government keeps telling us we will be okay, just need a few adjustments, some cut backs but all is good.

Kids play area at Occupy Toronto
We are being played by the very wealthy and their government.  The Harper Government served up a big threat to workers when they ordered postal workers back to work with less money than the company had last offered.  He was making it clear, when it comes to choosing winners, the government is on the side of the man. Workers will pay the price.

I live next to one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods, St Jamestown in Toronto.  The people live in very tall rental buildings, housing two to three times the intended occupancy. Young families, people with disabilities, new Canadians, seniors.  Many working at minimum or near wages. The seniors have small pensions. They are struggling.  Each of the last few years has added to their burdens.

Many of the people here don't yet see a connection to the occupy groups or don't think it will change things. Yet under the surface lies a bomb about to go off.  Its smoldering now, you can smell the smoke...

John Moore: Elites likely to be blind-sided by the force Occupiers have unleashed


Harper Govt Spying on Canadians

The Stephen Harper government is spending a ton of money spying on Canadians.  Even after they were told not to spy on the medical records of VETS they have continued the practice.  And now we hear they are sying on First Nations advocates.

Cindy Blackstock
Cindy Blackstock is a hard working advocate that has become a thorn under the rear end of the Conservative government.  The government has looked at her Indian Status file at least twice and included information from it in briefings, have stalked her facebook page after hours from a home computer to add further information to their files on her and have barred her from attending meetings with Aboriginal Affairs

It seems the Conservatives don't need CSIS (as far as we know they are not using CSIS) to do their spying, they are using management staff in the government.  This is appalling.  I expect that anyone with a history of advocacy, and meeting with this government may face this kind of intrusion into their privacy.

As Jack Layton stated during the english language debate in the 2011 election, "You're not the same Stephen Harper."  That Stephen Harper was about open, honest and accountable government.      

See Toronto Star article here: Tim Harper: Government spies on advocate for native children
See APTN News here: Federal Aboriginal Affairs department spying on advocate for First Nations children

H/t to GritChik

Pepper sprayed 84 year old woman and homophobia at Occupy

It looks like the Occupy folks have really pissed off the management.  In Seattle the police pepper sprayed woman, Dorli Rainey, 84 who was part of the occupy protest.

Dorli Rainey, 84
I imagine she must have been a real threat to police.

More at the Toronto Star here

And in New York videographer Joey Boots was the subject of a homophobic slur by a security guard. “Your fly’s open, faggot,” the unnamed security guard said in response to Boots, who was asking several workers on-camera whether they are employed by Brookfield Properties, the owner of Zuccotti Park. “That’s nice man, really nice. Really professional,” Boots replied (video below; exchange takes place at 1:48).

That's just two examples of what is going on.  There are many more examples of police brutality and violence at the many Occupy sites across the United States.

EnCana Polluting American Water?

Opps!  Ethical oil, Canada's new brand got a black eye in Wyoming.  The EPA has been testing water to confirm its contaminated due to Fracturing.  Seems EnCana a well known Canadian company has been doing this, albeit legally, may well be responsible for contaminating ground water in the State of Wyoming. 

Read more about the EPA results here:


Conflict Oil or Ethical Oil

Conflict Oil or Ethical Oil.  Its amazing to see this campaign roll out.  The people that previously had somewhat successfully changed Tar sands to Oil sands are now suggesting oil from Alberta is an ethical choice over oil from Saudi Arabia or Iran.

On the face of it they do have a point.  They point to the treatment of women in these dark skinned countries and they also point to the what could happen to queers.  It's a pretty good new paint job.

What is amazing is that this is happening in Alberta.  You know, the province that was the last to end legal discriminating of gay people.  The province that still has the strongest views against gays.  The province where all but one MP would vote for Capital Punishment, vote to ban abortion and rescind gay rights, given half a chance. And our federal government has made a huge shift as well.  Its not Alberta's oil anymore, its Canada's Oil.

The last Prime Minister to refer to Alberta's oil as Canada's oil was Pierre Trudeau.  Since then federal ministers or prime ministers have been careful to dodge that hot pot. Its not really Canada's oil as you you know, resources are provincial jurisdiction, it is however useful to push the progressive Canada stuff in the media, given the opposition to the Tar sands oil.

So Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the guy who once proclaimed the need for a fire wall around Alberta to protect it from eastern Canada, is now claiming the oil as Canada's oil. The Canada Brand around the world use to mean clean and caring.  Its taken a few hits since Harper came to power. We get awards for being the bad guys in the worlds efforts for a cleaner environment when we use to be seen as leaders.

The Canada brand is still strong in the USA. Its not the enviros the Government has to convince to buy 'ethical oil', its middle America.  Americans are somewhat insecure these days. They want American made oil and if they can't drill in parks in the Alaska well then oil from Canada is the next best thing. Yet Americans have been inundated with messaging that the oil from the Tar sands is bad for the environment in a big way.  Canada and Alberta Governments had to find a way to sell it.  Its now ethical oil. Available only from Canada.

Now we need to ship that ethical oil to Huston Texas to be refined.  That requires a new pipeline.  The new pipeline was called Keystone for some reason.  Perhaps they should have called it the Freedom pipe. Then the folks that were proposing this pipeline decided to hire a former American ambassador who is a Republican to lobby the Democratic White House.

The decisions so far weren't killers to the movement of ethical oil from Canada to the USA. They got great press coverage on lots of TV networks. Stephen Colbert played a clip in which the numbers of jobs grew depending on which Fox channel news you tuned in. It started as 20,000 jobs, then 25,000 then 115,000 indirect jobs finally to over a million jobs for Americans.  The pipeline would be great for America.

No it fell down because the planners of the pipeline forgot about the calendar and they couldn't have picked a worse route making it even easier for the  Obama Whitehouse to delay the decision until after the next election. Greeny folks made sure Obama knew that they knew an election was just around the corner.

The  pipeline folks really blew the route.  After the BP failure to cap a well and the Enbridge pipeline spill in the Chicago area last year, running a bigger pipeline through precious water reserves in Nebraska was just plain stupid.  That gave the enviros a local issue with which to hit the project on the head.  Remember, the enviros were opposed to the Tar Sands.  Delaying the pipeline is a fundamental key to that goal.

So the guys that managed to get the media to call the tar sand the oil sands, that have convinced a fair number of people that there is such a thing as Ethical Oil, got a little silly in the end.

Now as the issue goes to bed till after the US elections in November 2012, the Prime Minister has hired the dude that was behind the Ethical Oil campaign.  Watch out for the new Compassionate Conservative campaign to start soon.



Call Mayor 416-397-FORD (3673)

It happened.  This morning the City of Toronto issued Notices of Trespass against the people of Occupy Toronto. Be out by midnight. I am gobsmacked. The movement has been very peaceful in our city.  The park is very clean and well prepared for the colder temperatures.

I don't think these people could be anymore compliant. The only people ticked off are a few Ford Nation folks and the SUN newspaper.  People have a right to protest and there is a history of that occurring in this park since it was established in the infancy of this city.

The mayor just can not leave well enough alone.  In my previous post I named a few 'funny' reasons Rob Ford couldn't accept the Occupy Toronto group.  They don't look so funny any more.  I was hopeful he would leave well enough alone.  It seems he can't accept any opposition, even respectful opposition.  I imagine he sees it as an embarrassment, what with Halifax and Calgary ridding themselves of these malcontents.  

Oddly enough, New York just evicted everyone and now the courts have said they can go back to the park, with their tents.  I expect there will be potential for a legal battle here.

The movement may in fact move onto the portion of the park owned by the Church at St. James. I do know one thing. The Mayor better not use a heavy hand.  Doing so could lead to a much more embarrassing event for him and the Premier of Ontario.  Remember the G20?

This is a free country.  We have a right to speak our wishes to power. We have a right to voice our concerns. If it means letting a few hundred people stay in the park, what does that hurt.  Democracy is not always easy and as people in power have always shown, they don't like it when people exercise it.

You need to call the Mayor's office. Tell them in polite terms, you support Occupy Toronto and want the City to back off attempts to remove them from St. James Park.

Here are a few numbers to call: Mayor 416-397-FORD (3673) Email:  mayor_ford@toronto.ca 

Departments responsible for the eviction notice are: Municipal Standards and Licensing - Mr. Bruce Robertson, Acting ED @ 416-392-8445 and Communications Department - Ms. Margaret Doherty @ 416-397-5313

Tonight go down and Defend the Occupation at St. James Park!

Mayor Ford reasons to end Occupy Toronto

Reasons Mayor Ford will use to try and shut down the Toronto Occupy site.

1. complaints from Sun News
2. need to winterize the sprinkler system
3. for the health and safety of protesters
4. cause all the other Canadian cities got rid of their Occupy sites

5. we can't afford to keep police watching it all winter
6. the fire inspections take fire fighters away from conducting real fire inspections
7. you can't just live in Toronto and not pay property taxes
8. there shouldn't be any free lunches in my Toronto
9. he heard that they served gravy, get rid of the gravy train

10. it's a breeding ground for future Marg Delahunty's
11. the Yurt Library sets a bad example being open 24/7
12. these people don't vote on things, must have supervised secret ballot on all decisions
13. some of the people look very weird
14. they have solar panels, how can I sell Toronto Hydro if it doesn't have customers
15. some of the protesters are vegetarians

16. the homeless will think they can sleep in parks too
17. they should go to the cottage like normal people if they want to camp
18. cause it will take peoples attention away from my tutu moment with Karen Kain
19. that woman Margaret Battwood supports them
20. thats where the new subway station is gonna go
21. parks are for the people
22. it's King St, not Utopia Culled de Sack
23. too many bicycles in one place cant be good


James Bay families living in Squalor

Last week I told you about the families in Attawapiskat Ontario, on James Bay. Their MP has been trying to get something done. Watch the video made by Charles Angus, MP for the area. The squalor Canadians are being forced to live in is heartbreaking. Someone at Aboriginal Affairs has to take action now. The Government must act now. By government I am referring to both the federal government and the Ontario government.

 If this was in downtown Toronto, we would have fixed it already.

Dammit Janet nails Conservatives

Your MASSIVE Con Jobs - senators Doug Finley and Irving Gerstein, past party director Michael Donison, and past CFO Susan Kehoe - charged with criminal offenses were ^NOT "cleared of wrongdoing". Dammit Janet! says it well. go have a look...


Police assault at Dallas #occupy protest

Off duty police officer in Dallas, moonlighting for Bank Of America as a security guard, pushes protester off of a four foot high planter to the sidewalk.  The protester was then charged with felony assault of a police officer and resisting arrest.

You can see the protester is standing on the planter, the off duty police officer is right beside him.  Then without any obvious reason, the officer pushes the protester off the planter.  The protester was not expecting this as you can see in the video.

Fortunately this video surfaced.  The protest appears to be quite tame.  People marching back and forth, chanting and holding signs.  Read the whole story at Daily KOS here.

It's vital that those attending these protests attempt to capture video of all that is going on.  With people like this off duty police officer and others, we need to have evidence that is immediately available.

Its no longer good enough to have witnesses that refute official police statements and or arrests.  That takes too long.  While we wait to prove our case, our friends are in jail, and governments use the arrests to clamp down on protesters more.


Canadians in Attawapiskat live in the Third World

I am saddened on this day of remembrance.  We honour those that went to war, were peacekeepers, went to Afghanistan, the ones killed, the ones who returned.  I am saddened because all these people have given a lot to make the world a better place.  I'm saddened by all the words people spoke today that wrapped us in a collective cozy quilt, perhaps the flag emblazoned on it, saying how lucky we are to be Canadians.

Many of us are lucky.  We have it better than many in the world, perhaps we are the luckiest of all.  Yet today in Canada, many Canadians are not so lucky.

Go here and read about some Canadians that are not doing to well.  This is the greatest shame of our country.  Many First Nations people live in abject poverty.  Stephen Harper is ignoring them. The Conservative government is ignoring them.

We have this big problem because the Federal governments, Liberal and Conservative, for 35 years have done next to nothing significant to remedy the problems.  The main stream media has failed big time as well.  Its just Indians.

Charlie Angus, the MP has been on this file for several years now. Perhaps he will need to light his hair on fire in the House of Commons to get either the government or the media do anything!  Maybe a new Conservative Minister, The Hon. Peter Penashue can get his partner in government, the Hon. John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to actually put some of out tax dollars to good use.

Governments must come to the aid of Attawapiskat


Restraint will be “unprecedented” in Ontario

Cabinet ministers got the news Wednesday after lunch. The good news: cuts to Ontario government services won’t be as “brutal” as in the Mike Harris era. "The bad news: restraint — and reformation — will be “unprecedented” in duration and effect. Queen’s Park is rethinking the old ways of delivering services in virtually every sector — health, education, social services, energy, booze — to shed its chronic deficit and get more value for money. - Martin Regg Cohn

That's what came out of a meeting today of the Ontario Liberal Cabinet. They were meeting with the Premier's self-appointed budget slasher, Don Drummond.

Of course none of this was talked about during the election. Its like McGuinty and the Liberals are a brand new government elected only to find the cubbard bare.  I see privatization as the unspoken word here. Whenever right leaning governments say we need to re-think government, it means how can we get the private sector to do this.

The logical first target for privatization is the LCBO. It's a captive market, it makes money and who wouldn't want to buy it.  Big changes are coming and one man is putting it together, Don Drummond.

Selling off the LCBO is a quick fix and would add a billion or more to the coffers right away.  The government won't give up any of the cash they collect from booze sales.  That means a private operator(s) would have to make their profit margin some other way.  They won't want to raise prices, so the only way to build a profit margin would be to lower wages and benefits of those that work for the new owner.

Alberta did that. Sold off the Liquor business, kept the profit and laid off the workers.  The new corner stores hired people at much below the rate of the government stores, thus creating a profit margin.  The only people to really benefit were the new store owners.  Thousands of people lost mortgage paying jobs.

Some will argue that the private sector will be more efficient.  That's hardly likely as the current LCBO is the largest retailer of Alcohol in the world and a model of efficiency.  They do it well.  They market their product well.  You get Airmiles for shopping there.

So you heard it here first. The LCBO is on the auction block.

McGunity has Money for every Liberal MPP

It's Christmas in November, it is if you are a Liberal MPP in Ontario. 52 of the 53 Liberal MPPs were appointed as either a Cabinet Minister or Parliamentary Assistant to a Minister.  All of these jobs bring with it an additional salary add-on.

No wonder 51% of the people that could have voted, didn't vote in the last election. This is enough to piss off a server at Tim Horton's or laid off guy from a closed manufacturing plant.

Toronto Star Photo ITS a PaRTY!
MPP's in Ontario make about $116,000.  That puts every single one of them in the top 3% of Canadian incomes.

So 52 of 53 Liberals got a hefty raise. The one Liberal MPP that did not get a raise is likely to get an even bigger one.  That person will be the speaker.  That job pays much more than a lowly MPP.  Not bad, McGuinty has manged to give his entire caucus a pay increase.

H/t to Onpoli.ca

Conservatives admit to Administrative Imperfection

The Harper Conservatives look to have received a get out of jail card  in a deal between itself and Elections Canada.  The Conservative Party will admit to "Administrative Imperfection".
Mcleans photo - Senator Findley keeps job/pension

This will conclude one major issue between the party and the agency that regulates election spending in Canada.  The Conservatives near the end of the 2006 election had spent all they could at the national level, so they sent money to pay for "National ads" to local ridings.  The day after the money was sent it was withdrawn to pay for the ads airtime.

This practice is called in and out. In this case it is a violation of the elections act.  The Conservatives in effect had spent all the legally were permitted too, so they attempted to subvert the limit by having local candidates run the ads and bill them against their local election expenses which are separate from national expenses.

More on the deal reached between the parties will be revealed this afternoon in a court room in Ottawa.

UPDate: Conservative Part agrees to pay $52,000 fine

Hey, that's not bad, spend One Million Dollars more than you are permitted and pay $52,000. At that price they could afford to spend as much as they liked!

NDP Okay in the House - Could be better

The NDP Leadership battle is taking it's toll on the party in the House of Commons and allowing quite a bit of air time for Bob Rae, the Interim leader of the Liberals and Rae is making the most of it.

The NDP is not backsliding however, with feisty Pat Martin, the entertaining and tenacious Charlie Angus and the calm and thorough Peter Julian doing much of the heavy lifting.  Still the NDP needs it's leader in the house and its top flight of MPs to keep Harper on his toes.

I expect the media will do a better job of covering the issues when the NDP leadership debates begin. They will be crowded.  With nine candidates, it will take a real effort to be heard and to discuss issues at depth.

I have yet to decide whom to support in this race.  They all bring a great deal to the table.  So far it would appear to me that it will come down to the second choice on the ballot.  Topp, Mulcair and Nash would seem to be folks that will grab a lot of second choice votes.  Lots of those who on a first ballot support Dewar, Cullen, Saganash, Ashton, Chisholm and Singh will have made one of the top three their second choice.

Looking at the top three, it would seem to me that Nash may have the inside track for many of the so called 'non-establishment' votes.  You can candidates are keeping track of those supporting other candidates.  No one is going to win this one on the first ballot, at least I don't see that happening yet.

Lets get those regional debates underway!

Flight Safety being de-regulated in Canada

You can recall Stephen Harper saying we wouldn't recognize Canada when he got done?  It meant more than just painting the Government of Canada websites in Tory Blue.  He is slowly moving government out of the way of business.

Its happening without any fanfare.  You will recall the listeria outbreak from Maple Leaf Foods packaging plants.  Twenty-one Canadians died as a result of tainted meat.  We use to have meat inspectors that cruised around to all these meat processing plants and made sure things were up to snuff.  We allowed the industry to self regulate.  That means they make sure they are doing everything the correct way, in this case they failed and we lost 21 people due to their error.

Do you recall Walkerton? In that case the Ontario Conservative government allowed suppliers of drinking water to self regulate. The province down loaded the responsibility, basically getting out of the business.  Do you recall how many people died or got severely sick as a result of someone not doing their job correctly, without government inspectors.

Now we are going to the same over flight safety.  Canada is the only country in the world to deregulate Flight Safety. Currently it is being applied only with the big airlines.  It has a better chance of succeeding here due to the fact the industry is highly union and they have systems in place that would prevent the airline from flying planes that were unsafe or used unqualified flight crews.  Still even big airlines could screw up. That's why we have inspectors.

The next step in the plan is to allow smaller airlines to self-police themselves.  They are basically doing it now as the federal inspections have fallen dramatically.  These airlines can pretty much do what they want.  They have no concerns that an inspector is going to catch them out.

Soon I can see the few federal inspectors left turned over to a private company. They will bid for the job, lowest bidder gets it, then we will likely see unqualified inspectors doing the odd check of the airlines.

What's next? I suspect we can see other government inspectors cut back or privatized all together.

If you think I am doing a little scare-mongering here, you should remember that Jim Flaherty and Tony Clement, the two most powerful Ministers in Prime Minister Harper's government ,were the really smart guys that brought us Walkerton.

See Peace, Order and Good Government, eh? -

I think we've seen this movie before



Queer Mexican to be Deported

Herberth Menendez is a 30 year old queer Mexican living with HIV, who immigrated to Canada in 2007. He left Mexico to claim refugee status in Canada because he feared for his life due to the intense discrimination and threats of physical violence he faced for being openly gay and living with HIV.

Despite having submitted detailed proof of the homophobia and HIV discrimination he has faced in Mexico, Herberth is currently in the final stages of his Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Application.   

Herberth has been involved in many community initiatives, including being an extremely active member of Latinos Positivos over the last four years.  He is a valuable member of the Toronto community and we are mobilizing to keep him here where he belongs.

Join the facebook group and or sign the petition here.  Canada was once seen as a refuge for people.  Stephen Harper and Jason Kenny are changing that. We need to support those that seek refuge from discrimination and brutality.  If Menendez is returned to Mexico, he will certainly be subjected to these things.  He is an upstanding member of the community and we need him here. 

Petition at Change dot Org.  The Facebook group is here.

Tea Party put on ice

You know there is hope that the United States is coming around.  I know that there are at least 155 million of you that are progressive. Its clear to me every time I visit.  Yet you have had this fling with GWB and then with the Tea Party.  I mean who drinks tea any more.  Glad you have at least put a little ice in that tea.

The people of Ohio voted down a law passed by the republicans that stripped rights of union workers.  The people of Mississippi said no to Personhood.  And there's much more...

Check out Gay Politics for victories of gay folks across the country - people supported by the Victory Fund.

Vancouver Sun - 'No LGBT History in the NDP'

The Vancouver Sun and other Post media papers ran a piece on November 5 called 'Public figures urged to come 'out'.

It's not a bad piece except for the fact that it clearly leaves out the one party that has done ground breaking work on the matter.  The article fails to point out that the first openly gay member of parliament was an NDP member, that the NDP have the largest openly gay caucus of any political party.  They even fail to point to some of the reasons for the NDP's success in electing and recruiting LGBT candidates for Parliament.

Instead the article focuses on two Ontario MPPs, one who replaced the other.  Glen Murray was successful in getting the nomination for the Liberals in Toronto Centre to replace George Smitherman an openly gay MPP.  Murray got his start in Manitoba where with the support of the NDP won a city council seat and that ongoing NDP support saw him elected as Canada's first openly Gay Mayor of a major Canadian city.

Murray is a competent MPP and politician, yet part of the reason he was successful was because a political party, the NDP was ahead of the others in recognising that sexual orientation should not be a barrier to being a candidate.  The NDP has mandated constituencies to seek out qualified candidates from several under representative groups for almost 20 years now and provides financial support for them to do so.

The one party that has consistently stood up in the House of Commons to support equality for LGBT communities has been the NDP.

The NDP were part of the reason I as a gay man felt I could participate in politics.  In 1988 I was a newbie to election volunteer work for a political party. I was the financial agent and local riding chair for the Federal NDP in Williams Lake BC.  Our candidate was an electrician from a local sawmill. One night we were coming back on a lonely back woods road from a small campaign event and the candidate was driving his big 4x4 truck.  He said he had a question for me.  He said quite a few of the guys at his mill were saying his campaign was being run by a bunch gay guys.  He wanted to know from me if that was true.

I was a little surprised he would ask as I was pretty open in those days, the town queer.  That meant my partner and I got dinner invites from all the local A-list folks in town.  I told him that yes, his e-day organizer, me and the phone canvasser were gay and that yes, we did have many other volunteers that were LGBT.

I'm sure it shocked him. His response was, 'that's cool.'  Incidentally we were in a riding we weren't suppose to win. The Progressive Conservatives won by just 289 votes. We made up over 11,000 votes. He thanked me and the gang of LGBT folks after the election.

My experience with the NDP allowed me in 1989 to feel empowered to stand up at a BC Government Employee's Union convention and speak to a resolution from my local asking the union to make bargaining of same-sex benefits a union priority.  It did become a priority and we began the road to equality.

So while the other political parties had LGBT folks elected. Not one was ever out of the closet.  The NDP put a plan in place and it has paid off.  The Vancouver Sun did a disservice to its readers in not showing them how it has been done by at least one political party.

"But anybody can do that." - Jim Flaherty

Oh dear, this must hurt...

The Conservatives have not liked how the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has been doing his job. They have gone so far as to limit the information they give him, yet despite attempts to kneecap him, he has been on the mark most of the time, and certainly more so than the current Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty.

Take note, PBO Kevin Page pointed out that he can't envision a five-year return to surplus without a government move to significantly cut spending or increase revenue.  That was in June of 2009.  Flaherty's response to the PBO was this...
"He's wrong," Flaherty told journalists in a conference call from a G8 finance ministers' meeting in Lecce, Italy. "Because he says growth rates likely will be slower than I had predicted. Now, if you make an assumption with respect to lower growth rates, then you get the results that he postulates. "But anybody can do that." - Cumberland News
Anybody but the current Finance Minister.

The Conservatives have consistently been out of sync even with their friends in the banking business.  All I can add is that if Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a trained economist, he must have skipped a few lectures.

Flaherty says budget officer wrong to predict long-term deficits

h/t @canadiancynic

3 Peas - McGuinty, Hudak and Drummond

Ontario's Minority Government looks to be getting the backing of the Hudak Conservatives.  Some of you may see that as a surprise.  I for one am not at all surprised at this. Hudak doesn't want an election right away. McGuinty will use this first year to cut and slash as much as he can so he can have more good news announcements as we close in on an election, likely in two years.

The Liberals have teamed up with Don Drummond, former chief economist for TD Canada Trust.  Drummond has said spending has to be kept at one percent over the next six years. McGuinty and his government have already agreed to this number.

Drummond is supposed to provide the government with a report as to how the government can do this.  He has met with the Conservative leader Tim Hudak who says that cuts need to be made to everything except education and health.  Andrea Horwath is supposed to meet with Drummond on November 17.  Today Horwath told the Toronto Star that Drummond, Hudak and McGuinty are three peas in a pod.  Horwath added that she was disappointed that these people felt that families had to bear the burden of budget slashing.

From the outside looking in I too have to say that the three gentlemen seem to be fixated on slashing government revenues. The current government is moving to cut corporate taxes, a move that will see less revenue coming in. With less revenue, the government will cut spending even more to balance the budget in six years.

The current federal government promised to eliminate the deficit in three years. Now they say it will be longer, in the medium term, before they balance the budget.  One of the reasons given for this failure, wait for it...  falling corporate income tax revenue. Has anyone reminded the Finance Minister that he has been lowering these taxes for years now?  That another decrease in Corporate taxes is coming on January 1st.
We can raise corporate taxes.  The companies won't run away. These companies are already sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars.  They aren't doing their part to help bring us out of this mess.  They need to spend some money creating jobs.

It obvious the government has blinders on.  Ontario businesses already pay low taxes when compared to our competitors.

I have a good idea as to what Horwath will say to Drummond when she meets with him on November 17th. I even have a good idea how her suggestions will be received.  They will be crumpled up and tossed in the garbage can after the meeting.