The F-35 boondoggle in context: This “is oppressive, dictatorial regime-building that would do any petro-state proud”
We are definitely not in Kansas anymore, Canuckistan — and Michael Harris says that we just had our “Wizard of Oz moment”:
The curtain has been well and truly whipped away from the PM’s self-promoting deceptions and he is revealed for what he is: a power-tripper on a mission to give Canada an extreme makeover that only the super-rich and the semi-comatose could endorse. And he is doing it with virtually no debate, creating something of a new phenomenon in Canadian politics; sole-source public policy.
We have Peter MacKay to thank for the official revelation — belated though it was. The minister of defensiveness has finally dished after weeks of embarrassing prevarications. It turns out the whole Harper cabinet was in on the F-35 whopper, an exercise that both the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General saw for what it was — a studied deception.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office had an even better description of the same process stateside. The Pentagon’s top weapons’ purchaser, Frank Kendall, said the plan to buy the F-35 was “acquisitions malpractice.” In this country, two sets of books were produced – one containing the real scoop, the other the “communications” version for the Great Unwashed. It turns out interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was dead right — the PM and cabinet knew they were lying to Canadians about the true costs of the F-35 during an election and Stephen Harper is ultimately accountable.
This is not “strong, stable government” a la Harper’s PR mantra. It is oppressive, dictatorial regime-building that would do any petro-state proud.
It is also the de-confederation of the country and the death spiral of independent information bearers. The war machine is more important than the social safety net. Canada can apparently have $45 billion jets and $800,000 military fly-overs, but must rein in the Old Age Supplement and cut food inspectors. The PM can blow $45,000 in public money on a baseball junket (why on earth was Harper’s official photographer along for the ride?), but 19,000 public servants must lose their jobs. And if these institutional thugs lose a seat in an election they lust after, there’s a plan B – gerrymander the riding, as they may well do in Saanich-Gulf Islands, where Green Party leader Elizabeth May knocked off former cabinet sock-puppet Gary Lunn.
As for parliament, what’s parliament? Something to ignore, shutter, or the favored option, to geld.
Happy 1 year anniversary, Canuckistan — oh, and re: what Naomi Klein said:
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) May 1, 2012
For now, I’m happy, as noted, to let the Harpercons keep tripping over themselves; but that doesn’t mean we can’t reinforce (firmly and forcefully) the enormity of Harpercon efforts to subvert our democracy, and what it ultimately means for Canadians.
(Image: dbking, Flickr.)
Paul Wells on how it’s best sometimes to simply shut up and let your opponent’s own negative momentum take them down:
Harper is certain to keep portraying the NDP as the only bunch of witless ideologues in sight. In quiet moments Conservative strategists say that, if they ever tire of whacking Bob Rae, they will seek to portray the NDP as either extremist or incompetent. And indeed the newest feature on the Conservative party website is about “Mr. Mulcair’s NDP Team.”
But in the Commons, it is not the NDP who have been looking like circus geeks. Tom Mulcair reads his questions from his little wooden lectern. Unlike generations of Liberals, he almost never yells up a lung in Question Period. Peggy Nash, same story. Paul Dewar, probably more methodical now than a year ago. Finally this week a New Democrat confirmed to me that this is strategy, and it is designed precisely to blunt the expected Conservative attack to the effect that only Conservatives are fit to be let near the good china. The New Democrats want to put restraint, method and diligence in their own column.
When I used to ask the Liberals, when they were the Official Opposition, why they didn’t calm down a bit in QP, they would complain that gesticulating was the only way to get on the news. And indeed the calmer New Democrats are not getting a lot of space on the news. What is getting space is Bev Oda’s global OJ adventure, Stephen Harper’s 70-year digressions, and private members’ bills that seem inspired by the Danielle Smith playbook of political success. Which may explain why the NDP does not begrudge the government its time in the spotlight.
I have no clue who I’m going to endorse for the NDP leadership — but I sure as shit know which potential candidate will never, ever receive a vote from yours truly: sellout 3rd way posterchild Gary Doer, who has apparently sold his soul to
rock & roll Ethical Oil™, that filthiest of filthy lucre.
Since becoming Canada’s ambassador to the United States in late 2009, the former Manitoba premier has travelled from the Carolinas to California, and to most points in between, to make the case for the oil sands.
Calgary-based TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline fits into Mr. Doer’s economic pitch as a major infrastructure project that would create 20,000 unionized construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and other revenues in the six states through which it would pass.
The pipeline would almost double the capacity of Alberta crude that TransCanada can ship south, to 1.1 million barrels a day, and provide a direct line to Gulf of Mexico refineries on the Texas coast.
The U.S. State Department must approve the project since the pipeline crosses an international boundary and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised a decision by year-end.
Mr. Doer, who was a highly-popular New Democratic premier and whose name has been raised as a future federal party leader, is hardly taking the pipeline’s approval for granted.
To everyone he meets these days, he insists the 2,700-kilometre Keystone XL would adhere to far tougher safety standards than any of the 235,000 kilometres of oil pipelines already built in the United States.
And he counters the reputation of oil sands crude as “dirty” owing to the greater amounts of freshwater depletion, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation it causes compared with conventional oil production.
“We believe that when somebody claims something that’s 10 years old about water utilization or [carbon] emissions, we have to put the facts on the table,” he said, noting that it now takes far less water to produce a barrel of oil sands oil than it does to produce the same amount of ethanol.
“There have been major improvements made. We’re not saying to anyone that they’re complete. We’ve got to keep using innovations to improve water utilization and emissions per barrel.”
Yeah, no offense to those who get giddy imagining Doer at the NDP helm going into 2015, but come the fuck on. Handing the party over to the Harper Government’s hand-picked agent of environmental destruction would be the ultimate desecration of Layton’s pragmatic, progressive legacy. And that is attendant reality Dippers will also have to face.
Yeah, so, once again I’m officially a member of the New Democratic Party of Canada.
(If you’re not part of the solution, etc etc.)
In my defence, this blog does not in any way represent or align with our dread State Broadcaster (eek!!1) — so don’t fret about your PRECIOUS TAX DOLLARS!!11 subsidizing this 7-Up* Socialist endeavour, Sun Meida [sic] sycophants. Also, my undies have always been stained pink, so rejoining Canada’s resident pinko party makes sense. Anyway, don’t expect me to go easy on the Dippers out of reflexive partisan loyalty.
Expectations increase exponentially when one has a personal investment at stake.
On that note, join. One member, one vote means you have a voice. If we want to steer this progressive ship into the future we have to have a visonary, dedicated crew to help with the navigation.
* Champagne gives me a headache
(Orange Crush image: tmp | photography, Flickr)
Ahem. Sorry ’bout that. Now, where were we?
When polls from the past federal election are closely analyzed, what shows up is that Mr. Harper’s Conservatives were elected by a lot of old people — people over the age of 45 whose electoral participation rate is between 60 and 80 per cent, climbing higher as they climb to meet their Maker. People under the age of 45 were powerfully anti-Conservative but at best only about 40 per cent of them voted. Andif they had voted in the same proportion as the over-45s, there would not have been a Conservative majority; there probably wouldn’t have been a Conservative minority. What likely we might have got is an NDP-led coalition.
So then let’s suppose that half, at least half, of the electorate are powerfully opposed to Mr. Harper’s neo-liberalism, which is what the polls suggest. Let’s suppose they’re more in tune with Canada’s historic Red Toryism, the political culture that led to, in the words of philosopher George Grant (Michael Ignatieff’s uncle, although Mr. Ignatieff didn’t like his thinking) “a country which had a strong sense of the common good … that was possible under the individualism of the capitalist dream.” We certainly know this is the case in Quebec. We certainly know that younger Canadians, and even a significant chunk of older Canadians, have a strong sense of the common good and don’t like the contemporary conservative ideology of the individual.
Without Mr. Layton — without Jack, le bon Jack — it does not mean Canadians opposed to Mr. Harper’s neo-liberalism are simply going to go elsewhere or become less engaged with their democracy. It doesn’t mean Quebeckers are going to abandon their fling with the NDP.
First, there is a culture war in Canada; it’s not going to disappear with Mr. Layton’s death. Second, as some of the most astute commentators of Quebec politics have pointed out, Quebeckers don’t take frivolous bon-bon steps in their politics. Their engagement with the NDP is more than a celebrity fling with Jack; it’s a new, sophisticated engagement with Canada.
Thus Mr. Layton can accurately be seen as the catalyst, not the seducer, both of Quebec’s re-engagement with the country and of a debate within the whole country about its political values.
As they say, read the whole damn thing. Valpy goes on to tackle Blatch’s “talented gracelessness” — and the Canadian public’s instant, somewhat overwhelming mythologizing of Layton — with keen insight.
h/t Stephen Wicary
Yesterday, the office of Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan released the following statement, explaining why the Harpercons were blocking the release of a Canada Firearms Centre (CAFC) performance report on the Long Gun Registry:
“Canadians don’t need another report to know that the long-gun registry is very efficient at harassing law-abiding farmers and outdoors enthusiasts, while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.”
Less than 24 hours later, veteran Parliamentary reporter Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star has linked to the report, which reveals the dirty little secret of Canada’s oh-so controversial Long Gun Registry:
[The registry is] spending less, attracting more registrants and police are using the registry more — almost 4,000 times last year. Yep, that’s an argument to kill it.
Golf claps to the spineless, craven Liberal & New Democrat MPs who allowed the Harpercons to bully them into pissing on the graves of the 14 Montreal Massacre victims (and props to the Bloc for actually doing the right thing for Canada — shocking, I know).
A rundown of the twenty turncoat cowards who felt that pandering to low-information voters trumped public safety:
- Mr. Malcolm Allen
- Mr. Scott Andrews
- Mr. Charlie Angus
(Timmins—James Bay) NDP
- Ms. Niki Ashton
- Mr. Larry Bagnell
- Mr. Dennis Bevington
(Western Arctic) NDP
- Mr. Nathan Cullen
(Skeena—Bulkley Valley) NDP
- Mr. Jean-Claude D’Amours
- Mr. Wayne Easter
- Mr. Claude Gravelle
(Nickel Belt) NDP
- Mrs. Carol Hughes
- Mr. Bruce Hyer
(Thunder Bay—Superior North) NDP
- Mr. Jim Maloway
- Mr. Keith Martin
(Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca) Liberal
- Mr. John Rafferty
(Thunder Bay—Rainy River) NDP
- Mr. Anthony Rota
- Mr. Todd Russell
- Mr. Scott Simms
(Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor) Liberal
- Mr. Peter Stoffer
(Sackville—Eastern Shore) NDP
- Mr. Glenn Thibeault
And a handy-dandy directory of the MPs who comprise Canada’s 40th Parliament, including contact info — so you can either thank your local MP for standing up against gun violence, or politely tell them how you feel about them flipping the bird to the women of Canada.
Unbiased private citizen Kyle Simunovic told me to tell you that WHINY SOCIALIST MP Charlie Angus smells like fresh goat feces on a hot summer afternoon. Also, I hear that our glorious leader, Stephen Harper, farts rainbows and pisses Dom Pérignon. And doesn’t hate teh Joe Sixpack (unlike a certain WHINY SOCIALIST MP who shall remain nameless).
SO not a Conservative staffer (no, srsly!)
h/t Impolitical via Twitter
Following several days of strategically-timed leaks to the press, the Stephen Harper Party has finally tabled its stimulus budget, which, according to the Canadian Press, “submerges Canada in a sea of red ink after more than a decade of clear fiscal sailing.” Indeed, it seems that Jim Flaherty has finally embraced his inner Keynesian, after years of hiding it beneath Milton Friedman’s long shadow:
The Tories are doling out nearly $20-billion – or half the stimulus package – to spur immediate spending on infrastructure projects and home construction.
Nearly $12-billion federal dollars will be made available for “shovel-ready” public works projects across Canada that can be commenced quickly, but there’s a catch. Provinces and municipalities will have to contribute nearly $9-billion more in order to get the roads, bridges and sewer upgrade work started.
Cost-shared projects the Tories are eying include: revitalizing Union Station in Toronto, the Evergreen transit line in Vancouver, road upgrades in Quebec City and the Summerside wind energy project on Prince Edward Island.
Infrastructure spending alone won’t keep all the building trades in Canada busy though and Ottawa has allocated $7.8-billion for other construction activity – to renovate and upgrade housing.
This includes $3-billion it expects to spend giving out tax breaks for the temporary home renovation credit as well as $1-billion in outlays to fund renovations and retrofits of social housing. Ottawa will also spend $400-million on new home construction for low-income seniors, $400-million on first nations reserve housing and $200-million for building northern residences.
Of course, all that spending (and tax cuts) comes at a cost (er…you know what I mean):
Ottawa is forecast to add $85-billion to the debt between now and 2012-13, eroding much of the debt-reduction achievements of the past decade. Current and former governments have shaved $105-billion from the national debt since the late 1990s by using surpluses to retire obligations owing.
Yet out of all the ‘pragmatic’ concessions made by the Harper conservatives that fly in the face of their purported ideological ‘principles’ (a practice the Harpercons have been perfecting recently) there’s still one policy area where old habits die harder than Bruce Willis, as the NDP (which, along with the Bloc, has already vowed to vote down the budget) points out in a press release (h/t The Regina Mom):
The budget…contains no mention of childcare spaces and maintains the attack on women’s ability to pursue pay equity complaints.
Via Antonia Zerbisias, YWCA Canada has also issued a press release with its response to the latest bird-flip to 51% of the population:
“The government has set up some very inclusive spending with this budget for First Nations, seniors and people with disabilities, but we don’t see an awareness that Canadian women are very vulnerable in hard times,” says YWCA Canada CEO Paulette Senior. “Two-thirds of Canadians working for minimum wage are women, many taking any work they can find to hold family and community together. Government stimulus spending must take this into account.”
“The hole in this budget is child care services. For Canadian women and their families, child care is missing, and it is vital,” says Senior. “Everything we know about building strong families says child care services are essential. And that goes double for women needing to leave violent situations. They need affordable, quality care for their children so they can go out and work. Childcare not only creates jobs but it supports women and their families. Now is the time.” The budget announced $200 million for social housing in the north, a much needed investment.
Unlike the November economic update there was no mention of pay equity in the budget. “We are very sorry to hear a resounding silence from the government on this issue,” says Paulette Senior. “Especially as job stimulus spending is concentrated in employment sectors heavily dominated by men. The government needs to rethink its position on this equality issue and take the advice of its own task force.”
Keep in mind that, according to CUPE National President Paul Moist, “[m]any of these measures have a shelf-life of only two years.” Anyone who believes that we have witnessed the birth of a new era of post-partisan Conservative governance needs to stop downing so many goddamn Hope and Change cocktails and reset their GPS (hint: we’re still flying north of the US border, kids–even under NAFTA obligations, Obama’s transformative reach unfortunately stops at the customs desk). Still, it’s all-too-telling that, even in the short term, demonstrative apathy (or, depending how you look at it, antipathy) towards the women of Canada is one principle that the Tories are entirely unwilling to sacrifice at the alter of (temporary) expediency.
And, if anyone really thinks that we’re going to see this budget get killed, as Mark Taylor recommends, or even substantively modified before passage, Brodie Fenlon of the Globe and Mail puts things into perspective with the following lede:
The fate of the Harper Conservative’s massive stimulus plan and its minority government now rests in the hands of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, as does the future of the fledgling Liberal-NDP coalition.”
In other words, progressives and coalition supporters shouldn’t even bother inhaling, much less holding it in. Still, if the spirit of futile optimism moves you to act despite the long odds (as, um, it always does to yours truly), contact info for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is as follows:
Ottawa Parliamentary Office
Room 435-S, Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Tel: (613) 995 – 9364
Fax: (613) 992 – 5880
Alternatively, folks who are more new media saavy can send their thoughts via Iggy’s 1337 Web 2.0 hub.
Related: Various reponses from First Nation leader Phil Fontaine, James Laxer, and Marc Lee of the Progressive Economics Forum, who dismisses the “leakiest budget in Canadian history” as “more of a communications strategy than a serious budget for tough times.”