Some interesting stories about the evil Conservative government and why it is important to send them packing now.
Here is the first story by the Communist Party of Canada. They have done an excellent job of documenting the many wrongs of this Theo-Conservative, backwards thinking government and their Imperialist, gun-toting, bible-thumping, segregationist, cross-burning loser supporters.
The Communist party provides us 52 good reasons to get rid of the evil Harper government.
see the main points from the site below.
Fifty-two important reasons to drive out Harper’s Tories
1. The occupation of Afghanistan
The Conservatives are expanding Canada’s expensive and bloody military mission in Afghanistan, and recently voted down (unfortunately together with the NDP) a Liberal motion in Parliament to end participation in the U.S.-led occupation by the currently-scheduled deadline of February 2009. Canada’s military presence in Kandahar is making life more perilous in that region, and the US-led NATO occupation forces are propping up one set of warlords without making a significant difference in the lives of women and ordinary Afghan civilians. To date, over 60 Canadians and thousands of Afghans have died in this tragic war, which has cost Canadian taxpayers over $4 billion.
2. Military spending up, social programs down
Harper has promised a $5.3 billion increase in military spending over the next five years, while at the same time cutting $1 billion from Canada’s frayed social safety net. For example, the Youth Employment Strategy, which helped more than 50,000 young people find jobs last summer, was slashed by one-half, $17.7 million was cut from core adult literacy programs, and a $9.7 million program that encouraged adults to volunteer was eliminated.
3. Accountability promises broken
One of the Conservatives’ original “five priorities” on taking office was an accountability law to make governmental business more transparent. But the Tories have done exactly the opposite. Stephen Harper insisted that members of the Press Gallery sign a waiting-list to ask questions, and he has even muzzled his own ministers to prevent them from speaking out. In mid-October 2006, Ontario Conservative MP Garth Turner was expelled for criticizing party policy, and most recently, Nova Scotia Conservative was also expelled for voting against the federal budget.
4. “Green Plan” gets thumbs down
The federal government’s so-called “Green Plan” has met with angry opposition from scientists and environmental organizations. Released last April 26, the strategy relies on “intensity targets” that allow actual emissions to rise for several years. According to the plan, Canada won’t meet its Kyoto targets until 2025, not the original 2012 date. The plan is “a national embarrassment,” said David Suzuki. “Calling this plan a strategy is actually giving it far too much credit. It’s a sham, and a complete abdication of our international commitment… By abandoning Kyoto, Prime Minister Harper is dragging Canada’s name through the mud. He’s thumbing his nose at all the countries that are well on their way to meeting their targets and at the majority of Canadians who want to do the right thing.” Suzuki called for support of Bill C-30, the original Clean Air Act initiated by the Conservatives. After going through an extensive multi-party revision, C-30 is now considered a much more comprehensive and robust plan to fight the growing threat of global warming.
5. Loopholes for oil sands
The Polaris Institute warns that Baird’s proposals for “intensity based targets” to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are “flawed and full of loopholes.” As the Institute’s Tony Clarke stresses, “intensity targets” will only set GHG limits per barrel of oil, and will not account for the enormous expansion in the Alberta oil sands industry, which produces over a million barrels of crude oil every day, most of which is exported directly to the United States. Gigantic equipment is used to strip away trees, muskeg and top layers of earth followed by deep open pit mining and sub-surface in-situ steam methods to get the bitumen which is then melted to extract the oil. The process requires the burning of relatively clean natural gas, emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Currently, annual emissions from tar sands production amount to 27 million tonnes. By 2015, to meet rapidly rising U.S. demands, crude oil production from the sands is expected to multiply four to five times, and resulting GHG emissions will rise to 126 million tonnes.
6. No incentive for public transit
A $2000 tax break for those who buy fuel-efficient cars may sound like a good idea. Hybrids are a more environmentally-sound choice than simple gasoline models, but there are better alternatives. There’s no incentive in the last federal budget to take public transportation, bike or live close to your work. The plan may actually discourage downtown living, allowing suburbs to mushroom while downtown cores rot.
7. Politicizing selection of judges
On Feb. 15, 2007, Stephen Harper acknowledged he wants to appoint judges who will promote his law-and-order agenda, calling into question the independence of Canada’s judiciary. “We want to make sure we are bringing forward laws to … crackdown on crime… We want to make sure our selection of judges is in correspondence with those objectives,” Harper said. Conservative appointments to the board that recommends new judges have included twice-defeated Conservative candidate Mark Bettens, a firefighter with one year of school at Cape Breton University and no discernible expertise in law, and Harper’s friend John Weissenberger, who later resigned from the committee to take a job on Parliament Hill.
8. Attacks on civil liberties
On Feb. 15, 2007 the Harper government tabled a motion to extend “anti-terror” provisions in place since 2001. The sweeping Anti-Terror Act, implemented under the Martin Liberal government, included a “sunset” clause of five years on provisions enabling “preventive arrests” without specific charges laid and on and compelling witnesses to undergo “investigative hearings.” The extension of these draconian clauses was defeated by an opposition coalition on Feb. 28, 2007. However, Harper’s caucus continues to indulge in a smear campaign against opposition MPs who are reluctant to completely scrap human rights.
9. No-fly list without checks and balances
Ottawa’s Passenger Protect program – or no-fly list – raises serious alarm bells about privacy, individual liberties and the potential for government abuse. Worse, the names on the list are shared with Washington. Many names are on the list due only to similarities with the names of alleged security risks.
10. Racist toward immigrants
On several occasions Harper has made inflammatory and insensitive remarks about immigrants. In January 2001, he said that ridings held by Liberals west of Winnipeg are comprised of recent Asian immigrants who “live in ghettos, and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.” Now that his party is in power, Harper has deported designated “illegal” workers – including Portuguese tradespersons doing skilled labour in the Toronto construction industry – some of whom have been in Canada for more than a decade and have school-aged children. In February 2007, a small town in rural Quebec compiled a list of “standards” that it expects potential immigrants to observe, including one that forbids “killing women in public beatings or burning them alive.” The Tories stayed mute despite this ignorant and inflammatory mis-interpretation of Islam.
11. Canada’s sovereignty for sale
Canada’s sovereignty is being jeopardized by the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, a plan that seeks to harmonize some 300 critical areas of legislation and regulation. To achieve those ends, business and political leaders from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. have been meeting in secret. Implementation of the SPP will result in lower standards for security, air safety, the environment, health care and labour rights. Leading up to the Montebello Summit in August, the federal government cooperated with the U.S. military and police to impose a security perimeter around the event, where Harper, Bush and Mexican president Calderon discussed ways to advance the SPP agenda.
12. Nothing on Iraq disaster
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died as a direct result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which violated the most fundamental principles of international law. Nearly half a million Iraqis have fled their homes and registered for government aid. Even though most Iraqis feel their situation was better before the U.S.-led invasion, Harper, who supported the American-led Iraq War in 2003 even before becoming PM, has said nothing about the disastrous military occupation of that country.
13. Ignoring war resisters
Canada has granted asylum to only 14 of 740 U.S. refugee claimants in the past three years – all of them babies born in the United States to foreign couples. All claims filed by U.S. Army war resisters have been rejected, even as the Iraq disaster rages on.
14. Pro-Israel at all costs
Stephen Harper has offered unequivocal support for Israel, even after its July 2006 bombing of the village of Qana in,Lebanon and the Israeli killing of a Canadian military observer. Unlike most countries, Canada refuses to call on the Israeli government to desist from acts of aggression against neighbouring states, to respect the rights of Palestinians, and to withdraw completely from the territories occupied since 1967, in violation of international law and of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. In February 2007, the Conservatives established a pro-Israel lobby group called the Canadian Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus, launched in concert with Israeli Knesset Christian allies.
15. Support for occupation of Palestine
In 2006, MP Wajid Khan went on a fact-finding mission to the Middle East. Whatever he found regarding conditions in the West Bank and occupied Palestinian territories has been ignored and/or suppressed by the Harper government. There has been no change in Canada’s official support of Israel’s state-sanctioned policy of terror and oppression against Palestinians. The Harper government was the first to join the U.S.-led boycott of the democratically elected Hamas government, withholding vital aid and funding.
16. Tacit support for threats against Iran
Iran has the right under international law to produce nuclear power for peaceful purposes, and the IAEA has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran. According to estimates by U.S. intelligence agencies, Iran (assuming that it wanted a nuclear weapon, which its government denies) is ten years away from having the ability to make one. The U.S. propaganda campaign against Iran has been characterized by disinformation of the same kind that marked claims about Iraq’s so-called “weapons of mass destruction.” Yet as U.S. threats escalate toward military action, Canada has said nothing in response. Nor has Harper cautioned Israel about its planned aggressive action – even after ultra-right wing Strategic Affairs Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, announced that Israel will go it alone, if necessary, to confront Iran.
17. Corporate profits at record highs
Corporate pre-tax profits now account for a record-high share of Canada’s national income – 14.6% of GDP compared to a 25 year average of 10%. Pre-tax corporate profits in the second quarter of 2006 were $196.1 billion, compared to $183.7 billion in the same quarter of 2005. Yet the corporate tax-rate was cut from 28% in 2000, to 21% in 2006. The Harper government has the strong support of both domestic and foreign (mainly U.S.) corporations, and a Conservative majority would act in the interests of big capital, not the working class of Canada.
18. Two-tier health expanding
Federal governments have done little to stop the attack on universal Medicare led by the provincial governments of BC, Ontario and Alberta. This is rapidly creating two-tier health care, a system which preys on the desperate and allows the rich to buy their way to the front of the line. The attack is two-pronged, aiming at public delivery as well as insurance (Medicare). Public pressure stopped the two-tiering Copeman clinics in Ontario and halted the “Third Way” in Alberta, but the Harper Tories have not used the Canada Health Act as a tool to block the creeping privatisation of health care.
19. Safe-injection site threatened
A June 2007 poll showed that 63% of British Columbians (and 73% of Vancouver residents) support the extension of the federal licence for InSite, the only facility of its kind in Canada, which allows drug users to use clean needles to inject their own drugs under a nurse’s supervision. The facility operates under a legal exemption of the Canadian Criminal Code. That exemption is set to run out in December 2007, and the Conservatives, under pressure from the Bush administration and other right-wing “drug war” advocates, refuse to indicate whether they will extend it. Health advocates warn that closure will result in higher numbers of deaths, and the faster spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis-C.
20. Afghan prisoner abuse
Canadian troops in Afghanistan are required to adhere to Geneva Convention rules, which require that prisoners captured and transferred to the Afghan police are treated humanely, not abused or tortured. Despite this legal obligation, news emerged last spring that detainees turned over by Canadian troops are beaten, clubbed, whipped and shocked. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which Ottawa asked to supervise prisoners, is short on staff and has been denied access to some detainees. Harper and then-Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor dismissed the report as “rumours and allegations,” but it was clear that the government was trying to orchestrate a cover-up.
21. Stronger ties with California
Just when you thought Canada was already too close to the U.S. empire…. in June 2007, “Canada’s New Government” joined an Alberta-led trade and investment mission to California. Key events included roundtable sessions with venture capitalists, a panel on about nanotechnology commercialization, and “a celebration of Canada’s 140th birthday with distinguished Canadians living in California.” Rona Ambrose (now Federal minister of Western Economic Diversification) and Doug Horner (Minister of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology) met with industry representatives on a mission to “support increased collaboration between innovators on both sides of the border…”
22. Focus on the Family links
It lasted only a few months, but Darrell Reid’s appointment as then-environment minister Rona Ambrose’s chief of staff in September 2006 sent shivers up the spines of even moderate Conservatives. Reid was the head of Focus On The Family Canada from 1998 to 2004, an ideologically anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-abortion group with connections to the leaders of the US Christian right. Founded in 1983, Focus On The Family Canada is affiliated with the US evangelical group, Focus On The Family, headed by James Dobson. Though the Canadian organization has little influence outside of rural enclaves and evangelical churches, its US parent is seen as a major influence on the Republican Party and politics generally.
23. Tearing up the Kelowna Accord
Stephen Harper cancelled the Kelowna Accord, negotiated under the previous Liberal government to help bridge the gap between First Nations peoples and other Canadians. In April 2006, three months after Harper won his minority victory, finance minister Jim Flaherty (a former Mike-Harris era MPP) unveiled his first budget, with an $800 million hole where phase one of the $5.1-billion Kelowna Accord was supposed to be. Despite many shortcomings (such as failure to address the urgent needs of off-reserve Aboriginal people), the agreement represented the largest payout to First Nations in Canada’s history.
24. Mercenaries for Afghanistan
The US has spent the last ten years privatizing its military operations, turning over critical responsibilities to so-called “security contractors” such as Blackwater USA. This change has been roundly criticized for its high costs and profiteering, poor working conditions for employees, and the lack of accountability to the public. Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day has raised the possibility of Canada hiring a similar rent-an-army. “To get the best system delivery at the best price, there’s a possibility for the private sector there,” according to Day.
25. Women encouraged to stay home
The Harper government clearly wants to keep women at home. Its 2007 budget disproportionately rewarded married couples where one partner earns most or all of the income. These breaks shift the trade-off for women who are already at home in the direction of staying there, and even rewards partners who work part time for quitting to stay at home. Their $100/month “child care benefit” for children under six does virtually nothing for moms who work; the plan is aimed at those already staying at home with their kids. Can you say “social engineering?”
26. Major cuts for CBC?
Canadians have been warned that the CBC is on the chopping block if Harper gets a majority. In May 2004, he raised doubts about the future of those parts of the CBC where there is a commercial alternative, in particular its English TV arm and CBC Radio Two. His comments have been echoed by cabinet minister Tony Clement, who questioned the necessity of the CBC during the party leadership convention. A Conservative majority could spell the gradual shrivelling of the Canadian cultural production industry, putting thousands of artists, performers and technicians out of work.
27. North American Union underway
Dozens of regulations are being quietly altered to help integrate Canada with our neighbours to the south, without public consultation. Up for grabs are the Canadian energy policies, drug laws, federal food regulations, and much more. At a 2006 meeting in Banff, public safety minister Stockwell Day and defence minister Gordon O’Connor met with the military, political and business elite to discuss how to open the Canada-US and US-Mexico borders. Notes obtained through US freedom of information laws outline fears that further integration, similar to that of the European Union, would not be well received by the citizens. Their solution? Integration by stealth, with the harmonization of food, drug, transportation and energy regulations which do not require parliamentary approval.
28. Re-open marriage debate?
In the fall of 2006, after the Conservatives lost their bid to reopen the same-sex marriage debate, religious leaders like Dave Quist (Focus On The Family Canada) and Joseph Ben-Ami (Institute For Canadian Values) called for a Royal Commission On Marriage And The Family, claiming that gay parents are “hazardous to children.” Given that Harper owes Ben-Ami and Quist for selling his other policies (replacing the child-care plan with tax credits, raising the age of consent, gutting Status Of Women Canada), don’t be surprised if this idea re-surfaces under a Harper majority as a way to set the stage to reverse same-sex marriage rights.
29. Cities blanked in 2007 budget
City finances are the problem of the provinces, Harper and the Conservatives said on the release of their 2007 budget. While Ottawa is the key player in efforts to fix Canada’s crumbling urban infrastructure, the Conservatives have ignored calls for cities to collect a portion of the gas tax, among other things. With the ongoing downloading of programs, cities have reached a financial crisis point. The Conservatives did not elect any MPs from major cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver in the 2006 election.
30. Stacking the Immigration Board
Jean-Guy Fleury, chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, resigned last March after the Conservatives moved to stack the board with Tory partisans. Harper had let vacancies on the 156-member board grow from 5 to 60, Fleury told Parliament’s immigration committee, leading to a mounting backlog of claims. Before Harper took power, IRB members were not appointed by politicians, but now they are. Such policy is at the discretion of the Prime Minister’s Office, so Harper doesn’t need approval to appoint the committee’s members.
31. Fundamentalists grab nominations
In the January 2006 election campaign, dozens of far-right religious fundamentalist Conservative candidates were on the ballot. Some got elected (Jason Kenney, Cheryl Gallant), but many others did not, such as Vancouver-Sunshine Coast candidate John Weston and Christian Legal Fellowship president Cindy Silver. If such Conservatives join Kenney and Gallant to form a Harper majority in the next Parliament, the religious right well be in an extremely powerful position.
32. Press access to PMO limited
After winning a minority government in January 2006 (in part due to the mainstream media’s support), Stephen Harper indicated that his office would not handle the press in the traditional manner. Eventually, he said he would not speak to the “anti-Conservative” Parliamentary Press Gallery. Harper has spent much of his time in office avoiding scrutiny by the media, and keeping a tight rein on his cabinet ministers.
33. Repeal of hate law urged
Stephen Harper voted against the addition of gays and lesbians to hate propaganda laws in 2004, and Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew) says the amendments should be repealed. Harper said at the time that “the term sexual orientation is legally vague.” Gallant told reporters that the term included pedophiles, and should be repealed. She claimed that the whole Conservative caucus agreed with her, although others in the party officially denied it. Gallant never lets a sleeping dog lie, so expect this issue to resurface if the Conservatives pick up a majority.
34. RCMP arrests whistleblower
While in opposition, Stephen Harper liked “whistleblowers” who lifted the lid on Liberal misdeeds. But in office, he wants to intimidate public service employees who would rat him out. The RCMP led one Environment Canada employee out of his Ottawa office in handcuffs. Environment Minister John Baird defended the action as following up on a possible breach of the public services’ code of ethics. A spokesperson from the Climate Action Network called it “a witch-hunt.”
35. Harper “personally opposed” to abortion
Stephen Harper has never said that he won’t end women’s right to choose, or that he would leave second-term abortions alone. He’s never said he wouldn’t require mandatory counselling for women who choose to end a pregnancy. What he has said is “A Conservative government in its first term led by me will not be bringing in abortion legislation or sponsoring an abortion referendum.” That’s what he told CTV in 2004 after his health critic, Rob Merrifield, said mandatory counselling would be a good thing for women who get an abortion.
36. AIDS conference snubbed
Stephen Harper was absent when 20,000 activists, scientists and politicians descended on Toronto on Aug. 13, 2006, for the largest AIDS conference ever held. Participants were demanding major contributions under the banner “Time to deliver.” The fallout of Harper’s absence snowballed after conference co-chair Dr. Mark Wainberg criticised the PM during opening ceremonies. A sheepish Harper later used a photo op with billionaire Bill Gates to pledge an $111-million initiative to find an AIDS vaccine.
37. Status of Women slashed
Status of Women Canada (SWC) was the only government arm to address gender inequalities at a cross-Canada level, financing research and policy development through advocacy. When Stephen Harper made his first billion dollars in cuts, the operating budget of Status of Women Canada was slashed by $5 million, or 40 percent. The Conservatives also announced that the SWC Women’s Program will only finance direct, local initiatives, and barred funding for projects that include advocacy for equality. According to the Canadian Feminist Alliance For International Action: “The current terms and conditions aim to provide `direct’ and `local’ assistance. This is very much based on a charity model which ignores the systemic issues behind the problem at hand. Instead of providing analysis and aiming for legal change the current approach privileges a case by case basis, almost as if women’s poverty and violence against women were exceptions, aberrations to the norm. This approach is not meant to result in any significant change and does not challenge the status quo.”
38. Criminalizing youth sexuality
Health and legal experts told the Parliamentary justice committee last winter that Conservative Bill C-22, raising the age of consent from 14 to 16, is dangerous. It will create extra barriers to accessing contraceptives, abortions and sexual health information for young people, and is unlikely to change their behaviours. C-22 has been condemned by every major LGBT community lobby group, and by the Canadian AIDS Society, Planned Parenthood and the youth-led Age Of Consent Committee. Yet the Conservatives appear happy that C-22 will limit young people’s access to condoms and abortions. Judging by Conservative rhetoric, there may eventually be legal efforts to raise the age of consent to 18.
39. Charter Challenge Program nixed
The Harper government axed the Court Challenges Program, which allowed many cash-strapped organizations to launch language and equality appeals based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For example, the LGBT community and their allies won equal marriage rights through the courts in BC, Ontario, and Quebec. When the former Liberal government sent questions on this issue to the Supreme Court in 2004, Court Challenges Program funding helped ensure that affected groups could make the legal case that marriage equality was a Charter issue. The Charter extends some protections against the infringement of basic human rights, whether by people, corporations, or governments. But equal treatment is out the window if only those with big bank accounts can go to court. Maybe that’s why Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government killed the program in 1992. Jean Chrétien’s Liberals revived the program two years later. A Harper Conservatives majority would make it nearly impossible to revive the program again.
40. Jobs vanish while Tories fiddle
Another 89,000 private sector jobs disappeared in May and June 2007, including 25,000 in the manufacturing sector, according to Statistics Canada. Under pressure from the rising Canadian dollar and other factors, manufacturing has shed over 250,000 jobs over the past five years. This is a crisis with grave implications. The number of Canadians who want to work but do not have a job stands at over one million. The economy is losing higher-paying, full-time jobs, forcing workers into lower-paying, insecure, part-time employment, usually in sales and services. The declining quality of work is affecting millions of Canadian families. So what is the Harper government’s response? Expand the temporary foreign worker program, increasing the “reserve army of the unemployed” with the goal of driving down wage levels to increase corporate profits.
41. Omar Khadr still in US jail
On June 4, charges against Omar Khadr, the 20-year-old Canadian imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, were dismissed. A military judge tossed out the charges (laid years after Khadr’s capture in Afghanistan at the age of 15), because prosecutors accused him of being an “enemy combatant,” rather than an “unlawful” combatant. As an enemy combatant, Khadr should have been held under the Geneva Conventions, not locked up under horrifying conditions without adequate legal counsel or proper charges. The U.S. will appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review – which does not even exist yet. Meanwhile, Omar Khadr is back in solitary detention, and he could well face many years in this Kafkaesque nightmare. When he was captured, Omar Khadr was a child caught up in a whirlwind not of his making. Shame on the government of Canada for not demanding his release.
42. Keeping the agenda secret
If the “Security and Prosperity Partnership” (SPP) deal is so crucial, why are the Harper Conservatives so reluctant to debate it in Parliament? A new study by the corporate-financed Fraser Institute claims that the SPP and other agreements are “the best way to maintain an open border with the United States and safeguard our trade relationship.” But the Institute’s own figures show that in 2005, the U.S. already received 78% of Canadian exports, and was the source of 65% of our imports. The total value of such trade was $709 billion, about 52% of Canada’s annual GDP. The Fraser Institute wants that process to accelerate towards “deep integration,” leaving Canada with a flag and Parliament buildings, but probably not our own currency, and no real sovereignty over our economy, social programs or foreign policy. Yet the Harper Tories prefer to keep us in the dark. On May 10, Conservative MPs shut down parliamentary hearings on the SPP, while University of Alberta professor Gordon Laxer was testifying that Canadians will be left to “freeze in the dark” under plans to integrate energy supplies across North America. MP Leon Benoit, Tory chair of the committee on international trade which was holding the hearings, ruled that Laxer’s testimony was not relevant. When opposition MPs overruled Benoit, he “adjourned” the meeting and stormed out.
43. Students hit by Tory cuts
Because of federal government cuts and changes to funding criteria, many students looking for employment over the past summer were out of luck. In many communities, the changes meant that tourism and local service groups such as food banks took a hit. The Tories claimed they wanted to ensure money reached “worthy groups”. But who are the “worthy” students? Those who already have money and do not have to rely on summer employment? What are the “worthy” groups? Obviously not historic sites or food banks. The fact is simply that the Tories aren’t interested in the future of youth.
44. Manipulation of farm vote
The Conservatives forced an inconclusive referendum of western Canadian barley producers on March 29, 2007, misleading many farmers to believe that they could sell barley to either the CWB or on the open market. Including such an option as one of three choices on the ballot was a deceptive device to imply a non-existent “middle way” between single-desk selling and no single desk selling of barley. But the final tally showed that by a margin of almost three to one, farmers supported one of the two options which included single-desk selling of barley. Predictably, the Conservatives spun the result the way they wanted, ignoring the real views of farmers.
45. Bullets, bombs, jails and spies
The Tories’ 2007 budget revealed an increasing emphasis on the authoritarian side of the capitalist state – the military, prisons and police. This is the so-called “crime and terror” agenda, an attempt to win votes by fanning the fears of Canadians. One of the most significant spending increases was another huge boost in military spending, which is on the way to the $20 billion-plus range. An extra $200 million was earmarked for Canada’s part in the NATO military occupation in Afghanistan. Another $106 million will be spent on federal jails, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service budget will be topped up by $80 million. This is a budget to pour taxpayers’ dollars into bullets, bombs, jails and spies.
46. Money channelled to wealthy
Speaking for the Canadian Labour Congress, President Ken Georgetti pointed out that Jim Flaherty’s March 19, 2007, budget “unfairly channels more money to wealthy individuals and profitable corporations… (and) greatly erodes the federal government’s capacity to improve the quality of life of working people, families and communities.” The CLC noted that the budget increases the lifetime capital gains exemption for business owners by $250,000 immediately and maintains the tax cuts previously scheduled for corporations. “The new packaging of the Conservatives should not fool Canadians,” said Paul Moist, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “Underneath these new promises is their true agenda: to weaken national social programs and diminish the role of public services in Canada. The government is abandoning its leadership role by having no conditions or federal accountability requirements linked to the additional transfers. This budget takes it one step further and encourages greater privatization of public services.”
47. Budget sparks Aboriginal protests
The March 2007 Tory budget stirred up a storm of protest among Aboriginal peoples. “Today’s budget was supposed to contain something for all Canadians, but today, First Nations are beyond disappointment,” said Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “We don’t see any reason to believe that the government cares about the shameful conditions of First Nations… Nowhere is the fiscal imbalance more apparent than in the critical under-funding of First Nations health, child welfare, education, housing and infrastructure. No other Canadian citizen has had to endure a two-percent cap on funding that has now lasted for over a decade. Our population continues to grow and the poverty gap continues to widen. Today’s budget only contributes to the imbalance by providing $39 billion over seven years to the provinces, without any comparable attention to First Nations.”
48. Security Certificates remain
On Feb. 23, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against “Security Certificate” provisions which allow the Canadian state to imprison foreign nationals as “suspected terrorists” – without being able to hear the case against them. In the case of Charkaoui v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), the Court found that the procedures under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act violate Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” The Court gave Parliament a year to come up with a procedure which does not violate the Charter. Until then, the current process remains in place. The Supreme Court did not abolish Security Certificates, which allow the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to declare that a permanent resident or foreign national is “inadmissible on grounds of security, violating human or international rights, serious criminality or organized criminality.” So while several detainees have been released, there is still room for the federal government to abuse this process in future, and the Harper Tories can be counted on to use such loopholes to undermine civil rights and freedoms.
49. Appeal of Matlow ruling
In an appalling display of contempt for electoral democracy, the Harper government has appealed the Matlow ruling. Last fall, an Ontario Superior Court judge upheld a complaint by several small federal political parties that the law granting $1.75 per vote annual grant only to parties which receive over 2% of the total vote is discriminatory. As the historic legal victory by the Communist Party of Canada in the Figueroa case made clear, such discrimination against parties on the basis of size is illegal, and this appeal will undoubtedly fail in higher courts. But the intended effect is to make such challenges so expensive and time-consuming that citizens will refrain from taking on governments. The situation brings to mind the real Golden Rule: “Those with the gold make the rules.”
50. Attacks on Canadian Wheat Board
On July 27, 2006, federal agriculture minister Chuck Strahl held a roundtable meeting in Saskatoon on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board, announcing that his government would not be bound by Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act, which prohibits any changes to the marketing of grain in Western Canada unless supported by a producer vote. Strahl issued a gag order prohibiting directors and staff of the Board from defending the CWB’s role, and replaced two directors with partisan patronage appointments. On Oct. 17, 2006, in the middle of the CWB election, Strahl ordered the removal of 36 percent of Western Canada grain growers (16,269 farmers) from the list of eligible voters: victims of flood, drought, or bad harvest weather, and farmers who were in the middle of a crop rotation, or still had crops in the bin. Even so, farmers returned pro-CWB directors in four out of five districts. Saying what he can’t do with legislation, he will do with regulation, Strahl stacked the CWB with political appointments, and replaced Board CEO Adrian Measner, a 32-year veteran of the organization, with a Harper “yes man.” To this day, despite the parliamentary defeat of a bill that would strip the CWB of its single-desk authority, and a recent Supreme Court ruling against the government’s actions, the Tories refuse to halt their attack on the Wheat Board. Why? Follow the money: as farmers lose power, the transnational grain companies gain access to cheaper grain. For the Harper Tories, profits for big corporations trump the laws of Canada and the interests of prairie farmers every time.
51. Anti-scab bill defeat
Legislation to ban the use of scabs during labour disputes involving federal public and private sector workplaces covered by the Canada Labour Code, was defeated on March 21, 2007. Introduced by BQ MP Richard Nadeau (Gatineau), Bill C-257 was supported by labour activists across the country. After the bill passed second reading, employers started putting pressure on Parliament. More than 100 union members took part in a three-day lobby organized by the Canadian Labour Congress in the three days leading up to the final vote. But in the end, 29 Liberal MPs and 20 Tories who had voted yes at Second Reading switched to ônoö at Third Reading.
52. Cutbacks for museums
The $4.5 million Museum Assistance Program was canned by the Tories, in favour of a $5-million 2-year program to hire summer students, which the Canadian Museums Association calls an initiative “stemming more from electoral preoccupations than from an analysis of the museums’ priority needs.” Also, the Portrait Gallery Of Canada, which helps museums put their pieces on tour, has been left out of future federal budgets entirely.
Time to rid Canada of the these freaks.
The left-wing parties in Canada must unite to provide a strong voice. The New Democratic Party, The Canadian Communist Party and The Green Party must begin a dialog that will lead to a new, single Left-wing front. A neo-socialist, atheist government that will lead Canada into the future and serve as an example to the World of what fair government means. Until the left unite they will remain as obervers and commentators and not policy makers.