Pushing Weight

After Ethical Oil is done with its proxy Zombie Joe McCarthy crusade against the David Suzuki Foundation (what, are Ezra & co. gonna put out a hit on Raffi next?), perhaps it might consider lobbying the feds to take a look at another clear example of untoward abuse of our noble charitable sector — and an obvious case of insidious foreign interference to boot (eeek!)

The Vancouver Observer:

As the Conservative assault continues against Canadian environmental charities, the Vancouver Observer has learned that since 2007, foreign oil billionaires the Koch brothers have donated over half a million dollars to the “charitable” right-wing Fraser Institute.

According to U.S. tax documents, the Fraser Institute received $150,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation in 2008, $175,500 in 2009, and another $150,000 in 2010. The grants were purportedly for “research support” and “educational programs”.

[…]

Grants to the Fraser Institute are also among the highest amounts listed in the Koch Foundation’s tax records; apart from a few substantial grants to American universities, most of the other donations were under $10,000.

Gosh.

Sounds like Fraser is swimming in enough dirty Koch money to make Tony Montana’s *other* little friend go OFF.

Related: To merely call Fraser’s ongoing registered charity status ‘dubious’ is to be *ahem* highly charitable; the OTHER 1% doctrine: 99% of registered Canadian charities are apolitical re: spending (just don’t call it an anti-enviro vendetta…)

(Image: 401K, Flickr)

Deja Vu All Over Again (And Again, And Again, And…)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Canuckistan:

Stephen Harper is leaving the door open once again to extending Canada’s military participation in the costly Afghanistan war.

When the Official Opposition NDP pressed the Prime Minister on Wednesday about reports the United States has asked Canada to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Mr. Harper said the government would “examine all options.”

[…]

If the Prime Minister extended Canada’s military deployment beyond 2014, it would be the fourth time he has prolonged the soldiering commitment to Afghanistan – including 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr. Harper denied reports the United States has asked Canada to keep special forces soldiers in Afghanistan past 2014, his latest promised date for withdrawal.

As our new Leader of the Official Opposition aptly noted during Question Period yesterday, Canadians “want this mission to end. It was supposed to end in 2006. It was supposed to end in 2009. It was supposed to end in 2011. It is supposed to end in 2014. When will it finally end?””

Oh, and that last excerpted bit I highlighted, where the PM denies reports that Uncle Sam is trying to keep Canada in the Great Game for another Friedman or three? Methinks Mr. Harper is being a little coy. Mealsothinks that it’s a damn good thing Afghanistan is (for now, anyway) almost completely under the Campaign 2012 Village radar.

Because, considering the collective combat exhaustion of the USian polity, the last thing the Obama team needs are ill-timed reports that it’s secretly planning to continue America’s excellent (and highly unpopular) imperial Central Asian misadventure past it’s latest expiration date.

(Originally posted at Agonist.org)

On That Zombie Suzuki Resignation Story

The Globe:

Canada’s most famous environmentalist, David Suzuki, says he left the board of his charitable foundation to avoid being a lightning rod for criticism and government attacks that would undermine its work.

Still, Peter Robinson, who is the head of the David Suzuki Foundation, said the group is facing a “chill” that is leading it to pull back from important environmental debates lest it be accused by the federal government of exceeding its charitable mandate.

Is Suzuki a new, very high-profile casualty in the asymmetrical Harpercon war on non-profit environmental advocacy orgs?

Not so fast:

In fact, Suzuki’s departure from the foundation that bears his name had nothing to do with the federal government’s latest attack on charities opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline.  How do I know this?  It happened during the summer of 2011.

Oops. Not so fresh a scoop, izzit?

Look, I’m sure there will be many more prominent resignations from charitable green outfits to come in the near future; reanimating out of context zombie #elxn41 controversies is stupid.

Jacked from the 140 (Because sometimes that’s all you need)

Seriously, dub tee eff?

Update: Yes, kids you too can be Warren Kinsella’s Next Idiot (after Dawg, that is).

The New 1% Doctrine in Action (Electro-Motive Diesel Edition)

While many the US were celebrating seemingly positive job numbers yesterday, for London, Ontario residents such news was caustic, rock salt poured into a gaping wound.

WSWS:

Caterpillar subsidiary Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) has announced that it is transforming the lockout at its London, Ontario diesel-locomotive manufacturing facility into a plant closure.

Six weeks ago, Caterpillar locked out the 465 production workers at its London plant after they overwhelmingly rejected the company’s demands for a 55 percent wage cut, the elimination of their pension plan, and other sweeping concessions.

EMD announced the closure Friday morning in a terse press release that blamed uncompetitive labor costs and worker intransigence for its decision. “The cost structure of the operation was not sustainable,” said the release, “and efforts to negotiate a new, competitive collective agreement were not successful.”

Just last week Caterpillar boasted that the 2011 fiscal year was the most profitable in its history, with profits rising by 83 percent to US $4.9 billion.

Take a moment to absorb the jarring ironic contrast between those last two paragraphs, then listen to London Mayor Joe Fontana give Caterpillar the business for letting naked greed determine the bottom line — at the expense of local workers whose lives have now been callously thrown into total flux.

And wither the Harpercons? Alas, Canada’s market fundamentalist government always respects the sanctity of the Invisible Hand (except when it doesn’t).

AM980 News:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper used Electro-Motive as a backdrop in 2008 to promote big tax breaks for industrial capital investments, but the federal government declined to get involved in the labour dispute.

“This matter falls under provincial jurisdiction, and we are also disappointed that the Ontario Government was unable to mediate a solution to the dispute between the company and its employees,” read a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The statement also promised that the federal government will continue to work on a plan that will generate new jobs and opportunities for those affected by the closure.

Shorter:

Thanks for providing a great campaign backdrop, but, um, we have our majority now, and besides, we can’t help it if the crummy Ontario Liberal Government is teh suck. So, uh, anyway,  don’t call us — we’ll call you.


Of course, the matter of government responsibility — yes, at all levels — goes beyond mere inaction.

James Ede:

It is not so much its inaction that looks bad on the Harper government, but that the lockout undermines its argument that corporate tax cuts produce jobs. Electro-Motive Canada, under a previous owner, was given $5 million in tax cuts by Harper personally. The Harper government recently lowered Canada’s corporate tax rate by an additional 1.5%, voluntarily cutting almost $3 billion from government revenue. This at a time when it is planning massive budget cuts to reduce its deficit.

The lockout is equally damning to the Conservative claim that free trade will attract job-creating foreign investment. The federal Conservatives are finishing up a new free-trade deal with Europe and have plans for a deal with India next. Given the fact that the government will not discuss the details of these free-trade negotiations, there is no way of knowing whether they would leave Canada more vulnerable to actions like those of Caterpillar’s.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has largely escaped the anger directed toward Harper. That may be in part because Harper is seen as more of a poster boy for the free-market policies.

But McGuinty is equally committed to corporate tax cuts and free trade. He is planning to cut another $2 billion in corporate taxes in the 2012 budget, and is an enthusiastic supporter of free trade, even if a deal with Europe risks overturning local content rules in the Green Energy Act, his chief response to Ontario’s manufacturing losses.

Given Harper’s preference for an Alberta-style resource economy, his indifference to Ontario’s manufacturing losses can be understood. For McGuinty, the Caterpillar lockout hits closer to home.

Partisan/jurisdictional slap-fighting aside, 465 workers have been pink-slipped and now find themselves stuck in financial limbo as severance negotiations delay the already-tedious Employment Insurance application process.

Glen Pearson:

Federal MPs stressed that the workers couldn’t get EI because they hadn’t officially lost their jobs. Well now they have – sacked in fact – and that’s a game changer. Terminated by their employer, they now qualify for EI. The problem is that they are fighting for severance at the same time and EI can’t kick in until that is solved. So here’s something you can finally do without any jurisdictional excuses. Seek to streamline the access to EI in this unique situation. Given Caterpillar’s modus operandi, the severance issue might not be settled for months. Get these workers EI now and help them to survive. The maximum a veteran worker gets is two-thirds of their salary for 42 weeks. They’re about to lose their homes, so maybe a little intervention would be nice – it’s now in your jurisdiction. If severance is an issue, then arrange it so that it can be clawed back out of EI once the negotiations are concluded. But please, do something. This isn’t about your party’s detached position but about human justice, ostensibly offered to every worker who has paid into the system.

Human justice.

In an age when austerity rules, justice for workers is a rare commodity — especially in London, Ontario, where the willfully indifferent, cruelly banal machinations of the 1% have become all too apparent as a community reels in shock from the latest top-down missive of an ongoing, all-too-asymmetrical class war.

Related:  Indiana goes ‘Right to Work’ just as Caterpillar appears to be moving EMD production to Indiana.

Entirely coincidental, I’m sure.

Gary Don’t. Please, Just Don’t.

by matttbastard

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.

The G&M:

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.

Really.

Full Disclosure: Biased. Socialist. Bastard.

by matttbastard

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)

Ezra Levant Is Ethically Outraged Over Jack Layton’s Final Farewell

by matttbastard

In the midst of his double-fainting couch freakout over Jack Layton’s outrageously socialist state funeral, flesh & blood cartoon QMI columnist Ezra Levant claims the late NDP leader “clearly did not meet the standard of a state funeral” because he was “a hyper-partisan politician whose largest achievement was becoming the leader of the opposition”. According to Levant, a state funeral should be reserved for “someone whose successes transcend our national divides.”

Yeah, I mean, it’s not like Layton slew the BQ and brought Quebec back into the National political fold or anything. A possible bridge of the two solitudes? Clearly that pales in comparison to Rocket Richard’s 1337 hockey skillz.

Now, yours truly is in the midst of moving (tomorrow — eep), so, in lieu of properly laying the snarketh down on Ezra’s excremental musings, here’s an infographic outlining Layton’s considerable (or marginal, if you prefer viewing the world through Sun Meida’s [sic] Blue-tinted lens) electoral accomplishments during his tenure at the helm of the New Democratic Party of Canada:

Admittedly, none of this actually refutes Ezra’s main point, which seems to be that Layton was a partisan socialist weenie, and his partisan socialist weenie supporters misappropriated public funds to shill for partisan weenie socialism. But that’s largely because Ezra’s point is, unfortunately, inherently irrefutable — in the (dubious) sense that it is largely fallacious,  thus not a proper argument and, furthermore, impossible to counter (hacktacular!)

Yeah.

So, instead of wasting my (precious, rapidly dwindling) time and your (no doubt just as precious and unsustainable) time any longer, have some grossly inappropriate pontificating from “an old career NDP hack named Stephen Lewis”:

Oh, and if you have a spare fainting couch kicking around, feel free to ship it out to Calgary. Ezra thanks you in advance (just don’t use Canada Post, you partisan socialist weenie).

(Infographic courtesy the Globe & Mail)

Greatly Exaggerated Rumours, Jack Layton Edition

by matttbastard

Michael Valpy addresses the current conventional wisdom that without Jack Layton, the NDP — and Canada’s left — is now doomed, doomed, DOOMED!

Ahem. Sorry ’bout that. Now, where were we?

Oh! Right.

Valpy:

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