Friday, July 30, 2010

In praise of Munir Sheikh and other Canadians of integrity

Interesting how people of integrity who hold to important principles in the face of the blow hard Stephen Harper finds themselves having to forfeit their jobs in order to remain true to principles that (virtually) all Canadians embrace.

Munir Sheikh, the former head of Stats Canada who opposed Harper's mindless move from a statitically valid mandatory long form census to a statistically invalid voluntary census is the most recent example.

Other notable persons of integrity include, in chronological order:

Garth Turner
who, as a Conservative MP, spoke openly against the floor crossing of newly elected Liberal MP David Emerson who became an instant Conservative in order to fulfill his personal ambitions and ignore those who had just elected him. Garth was rewarded for his belief in principle by being booted from the Conservative caucus and forced to sit as an independent.

Michael Chong, who as a Conservative Cabinet Member spoke against the absurd construct known as "Quebec as a nation" (first advanced by Michael Ignatieff and later appropriated by Stephen Harper). Michael was rewarded for his belief in principle by being stripped of his Cabinet position.

Linda Keen, who as Head of Canadian Nuclear Regulatory Commission, refused to bend in the performance of her job as the Head of nuclear safety by turning a blind to the hazards that were unfolding at the Chalk River nuclear facility. Linda was rewarded for her belief in upholding the integrity of her office by being fired.

Bill Casey
, who as the longest serving Conservative in the House of Commons, spoke against the Atlantic Accord that Stephen Harper had promised to uphold, but decided to renege on. Bill was rewarded for his belief upholding the integrity of the Atlantic Accord by being booted from the Conservative caucus and forced to sit as an independent.

Unfortunately we only have a handful of Canadians who have the integrity and personal conviction to stand up against the blow hard known as Stephen Harper.

Special mention should also go to Diane Francis of the Financial Post, who is the ONLY journalist in this wimp nation called Canada to report the truth about Stephen Harper rapacious and unjust income trust tax, while other the other journalists in the country cowered in fear, as they sold what was left of their tattered integrity in hopes of pleasing their corporate masters and hanging on to their jobs, while telling blatant lies about hard constructs like "tax leakage" in order that millions of Canadians could be fleeced of their retirement savings and their means of retirement income stolen from them on completely false pretenses.

No chance that Munir Sheikh will be working at the CBC, the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star any time soon, is there, as he would as welcome in those newsrooms as he was working for Stephen Harper, since these organization thrive on perpetuating falsehoods, rather than reporting the truth?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mental midget weighs in on census fiasco

"Ask Canadians to fill out a long census form for the good of the country and they'll rush to grab their blue or black ballpoint pens — at least that's how Finance Minister Jim Flaherty sees it." (Globe and Mail)

Meanwhile we also learn from the Globe and Mail that:

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided at the end of December to scrap the mandatory long-form census despite being told by Statistics Canada officials that important data would likely be lost or impaired as a result."

Friday, July 23, 2010

The census issue is about the government’s integrity. Full stop.

Quite simply, Stephen Harper’s census crisis is about the integrity of his and (unfortunately) our government. This issue takes place at crossroads where science intersects with political pandering, and the place where hard choices about upholding or abandoning the integrity of government have to be made. These are the crossroads where real leadership is tested, and where Harper comes up short every time. Harper’s handling of the census issue is no different than Harper’s abysmal reneging of his solemn income trust promise that cost Canadians dearly. These are not the acts of an intelligent, educated government, with the larger interests of all Canadians in mind but rather the acts of a backward, regressive government that will do anything to appease a vocal subset of the population, even if it is to the detriment of all others.

The idea that justification for the canceling the mandatory long form census comes from the thousand or so emails of opposition that Maxine Bernier received a few years back only UNDERSCORES how bereft this government is of an understanding of “randomness” when testing the views of those it professes to govern. Receiving a thousand emails is NOT representative of the views of a population of 33 million Canadians in the same way that making the long form census optional is not statistically valid in terms of being representative of the population at large. Such an ad hoc approach to government is completely lacking in integrity and only serves to compromise our democracy in a myriad of ways. This is nothing but another example of bad science meets bad government, where the compliant and easily manipulated are in charge. People like Maxine Bernier, Tony Clement. Stephen Harper, who are completely lacking in backbone and integrity and will bend at the slightest winds of opposition and/or lobbying to appease their base, regardless of the cost to others or what it means to the integrity of our government.

We witnessed the very same thing in the case of Harper’s total reneging of his income trust promise, in which a special interest group was appeased to the detriment of all Canadians through the government’s use of completely false and defamatory arguments that were concocted by unethical civil servants like Mark Carney who live by Harper’s mantra of “it doesn’t have to be true, it just has to sound plausible”.

When faced with an issue of integrity, Mark Carney became the willing foot soldier of the Harper government, whereas the Head of Stats Canada had the integrity to resign. Such are the perverse rewards of a government completely lacking in integrity: those also lacking in integrity get promoted (in the case of Mark Carney to the Governor of the Bank of Canada), whereas those who possess integrity are out of a job?

In the case of Harper’s income trust betrayal, we have the Globe and Mail to thank for “outing” the special interest group that Harper, Flaherty and Carney were so intent on appeasing and willing to compromise the government’s integrity to do it, as follows (The Income Trust Crackdown: The Inside Story, Globe and Mail November 2, 2006):

High-profile directors and CEOs, meanwhile, had approached Mr. Flaherty personally to express their concerns: Many felt they were being pressed into trusts because of their duty to maximize shareholder value, despite their misgivings about the structure. Paul Desmarais Jr., the well-connected chairman of Power Corp. of Canada, even railed against trusts in a conversation with Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a trip to Mexico,

Monday, July 19, 2010

Canadians have been living with a snake oil salesman for four years

The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 19, 2010)

Re: Editorial cartoon (July 13)

It was rich comparing Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's tour with old-time hucksters.

Over the last four and half years, the people of Canada have been given promises and assurances by the current Prime Minister before each election.

January 2006 -- "Vote for me ... I won't tax income trusts." Within eight months of being sworn in, the Conservative government reversed its course and taxed income trusts.

September 2008 -- "Vote for me ... the only way there will be a deficit is if a Liberal government is elected." Within two months of being sworn in, the Conservatives were predicting a deficit.

"Vote for me ... if you want a transparent and accountable government." Twice, the Prime Minister has prorogued parliament and avoided answering to the majority demand of the House of Commons to provide information on Afghanistan. Two months after an "agreement" was made between all parties, not a single credible document has been handed over.

I agree we should be wary of hucksters. We have been living with a snake oil salesman for the last four years.

Nick Houston

Is Harper also planning on making jury duty optional?

Or hey, how about filing tax returns?

Both of these state mandated activities are presently mandatory and should obviously be an affront to Harper's new found libertarianism, no different than Harper's opposition to asking 20% of Canadians to complete a long form census every decade?

How representative of society would juries be if they weren't selected from a broad cross section of Canadians? What bias would be introduced if members of juries were only comprised of Canadians who opted to participate? The same can be asked about the census. What bias will be introduced if the Canadian census was only comprised of Canadians who opted to participate?

Answer: Ottawa’s census move: “gobsmacking jackassery”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Don Drummond's dire prediction comes true: Flaherty contributes to Canada's "welfare loss".

The TD Bank’s submission to Ralph Goodale in the fall of 2005 arguing against the double taxation of income trusts contained the following warning: “A welfare loss would also be inflicted on Canadians if the pension funds substituted offshore holdings for Canadian income trusts.”

Today’s reality:

Canada's pension funds on overseas asset buying spree
July 15, 2010

Canadian pension funds are crisscrossing the globe with cash in hand in search of assets for revenue to support this country’s aging population.

One place they’re looking is foreign infrastructure assets, according to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s senior vice president of private investments Andre Bourbonnais.

Infrastructure assets - such as electricity generation, water distribution and airports - are easy to operate and maintain, generate predictable cash flows, offer protection against inflation and can be owned for a very long time, Bourbonnais told QMI Agency Thursday.

“There’s not a lot of complexity in operating a toll road for instance,” he said.

Late Wednesday, the CPPIB revived its bid for Australian toll road operator Intoll Group with a $3.5-billion offer. The Sydney-based company also owns a minority stake in Toronto’s 407 electronic toll highway.

In May, the CPPIB snapped up a minority share in two prime Manhattan buildings for $663 million.

And last year it was part of the largest leveraged buyout of 2009 — the $4-billion acquisition of IMS Health Inc, a prescription drug sales data provider.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan has also been on a foreign buying spree after recently picking up U.K. state lottery Camelot for $536 million.

The teachers' fund has also tried to up its share of Australian toll road companies Intoll and Transurban in recent months.

And there have been reports the teachers, along with Ontario MunicipalEmployees Retirement System, could be involved in a multi-billion dollar bid for a U.K. high-speed rail franchise.

The CPPIB launched its aggressive infrastructure investment plan roughly five years ago.

“We’ve been looking globally at infrastructure assets,” Bourbonnais said, adding policy conditions in Australia and the U.K. are quite favourable right now.

Bourbonnais said the fund will likely pursue other deals with similar characteristics as Intoll.

“The predictability of the return and long-term ownership of those assets fit well with our mandate,” Bourbonnais said.

The CPPIB has assets totalling $127.6 billion after funds returned to pre-recession levels earlier this year.

Today, the CPPIB receives more contributions from working Canadians than it pays out in benefits. But that is expected to reverse by 2021, when Canada’s workforce is expected to shrink to new lows and the elderly population explodes.

In the 1990s, the CPPIB began to diversify its holdings, moving into equities, public properties then private spaces. Before then, the fund only invested in government bonds.

Today, the CPPIB generally operates with the rationale that the right mix of private assets can perform better than public ones in the long run.