Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The odoriferous Bev Oda is (not) fit for public office

The odoriferous Bev Oda and her document altering ways stink to high heaven.

Name one corporation or business in Canada, where the act of falsifying a document would not get you immediately fired....for cause.

Why are the standards for our elected officials any different? They set a bad example for all. The Prime Minister of Canada is telling all Canadians (including children) that it's okay to FALSIFY documents. This is truly pathetic. How much lower can this Harper government get, ethics wise? This is right up there with Harper lying about "tax leakage" from income trusts.

Calls for Oda's dismissal grow in House

Minister was 'clear' on her decision to deny aid group funds, PM says
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Opposition parties have ramped up their calls for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to fire a member of his cabinet over her role in an altered document denying funding to a church-backed aid group.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told the House of Commons on Wednesday that Harper's refusal so far to remove International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda from her cabinet position shows a "disrespect for democracy."

NDP Leader Jack Layton said the prime minister was condoning forging documents and misleading the House by not firing her.
Oda and the Kairos affair

Timeline of events
Live blog of the foreign affairs committee debate

Text of Oda's statement on Kairos

View the altered document

"We've got a prime minister who lets a minister deceive the House of Commons, falsify a document, and instead of reprimanding her or dismissing her, gets up in this House and actually applauds her," Ignatieff said.

"When will this prime minister start to show respect for the House, respect for the people who put us here and fire that minister?"

But Harper continued to defend Oda, insisting the embattled minister has always been "clear" in stating she was the person responsible for rejecting Kairos's funding application in late 2009.

"Speaker, the minister took a decision. She's been clear about that, clear in this House. It was clear before committee," the prime minister told the House as Oda remained in her seat.

"In terms of the use of taxpayers' money, we want to ensure foreign aid dollars are used for foreign aid. They are not entitlements to Canadian organizations. They are decisions made by an elected minister, and the minister has made the correct decision."

Are you satisfied with Bev Oda's apology? Take our survey.

Oda, the minister in charge of the Canadian International Development Agency, has been under fire since admitting earlier this week she was the person who directed a recommendation from agency staff be altered to reject a $7-million funding request from Kairos — with a handwritten "not" added to the document.

Since Oda's admission, opposition parties have cited several examples in which the minister suggested she was acting on CIDA's Kairos recommendation and that the aid group's funding request no longer fit the department's objectives.

Two months ago, Oda told a Commons committee she didn't know who ordered the word "not" added to the document.

A number of Oda's cabinet colleagues, including Treasury Board president Stockwell Day, also voiced their support for the embattled minister.

"The opposition are always attacking almost everything we do, and Minister Oda made a good decision in terms of funding for certain groups," Day told reporters on Wednesday.

"Our foreign aid is a very generous program in Canada. Taxpayers step up to the plate very generously, and I think they expect that fund would go to groups that are most effective. And that's what's happened."
Report passes committee

The House foreign affairs committee met behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon and agreed to send a report asking House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken to investigate further whether Oda has breached parliamentary privilege, according to opposition MPs on the committee.

NDP committee member Paul Dewar confirmed the report passed during in camera meeting and would be tabled in the House as early as Thursday morning for MPs to debate the matter.

If Milliken were to decide Oda's actions constituted a breach, it would trigger a lengthy parliamentary procedural process to determine whether Oda would become the first sitting minister to be held in contempt of Parliament.

Kairos is an aid agency that counts the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Church of Canada, the Quakers, the Mennonite Central Committee Canada and several Roman Catholic bodies among its members.

In December 2009, shortly after the decision to axe Kairos's funding was made, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke in Jerusalem to the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. He said Kairos lost its funding for "taking a leadership role in the boycott … divestment and sanctions campaign" against Israel.

Kairos denied taking a leadership role in the boycott campaign a few days later, saying in a statement that its board of directors decided in 2007 "against advocating sanctions against Israel or a boycott of products from Israel."

Kairos also said it has a "fundamental position of support for the right of Israeli people to a safe and secure state, alongside a viable and secure Palestinian state."

Read more:

Friday, February 11, 2011

CRTC: Where u at?

The CRTC has completely lost its way. Instead of promoting rules that make it easier for falsehoods to be disseminated in the media (as they are) or for internet costs to be allowed to sky rocket (as they are), the CRTC should be watching out for the public's interests in matters like informing Canadians about the risks associated with technologies like texting while driving, and calling upon the industry they regulate to get that message out to consumers and the general public.

Instead, notice that Bell Canada has a massive public relations campaign currently running that is focused on mental health issues, while ignoring one very real issue that goes to the core of its business, namely the dangers of texting while driving, and that Bell Canada has a moral responsibility to address, unlike the mental health issue. Contrast Bell Canada with AT&T in the US who should be applauded for the campaign they have launched that deals with the very real dangers of texting while driving:


Meanwhile the misguided priorities of MPs in Ottawa is not to protect Canadians and all of society from the dangers of those who are foolishly texting while driving, but rather worried about television commericals being too loud (as they are). Talk about a classic case of LOL.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TSX: A merger of equals? Hardly!

Under the announced deal, TMX shareholders will own around 45 percent of the combined group, have seven of 15 board seats and divvy up the executive roles

It's time to equip Canada's Integrity Commissioner with an ankle monitoring bracelet

Cars in driveway, trash by curb – but no sign of ex-integrity czar

Gloria Galloway
Globe and Mail
Wednesday, Feb. 09, 2011

Where is Christiane Ouimet?

A pleasant woman who answered the door at Ms. Ouimet’s east-Ottawa home on Wednesday professed to have no idea where the former public-sector integrity commissioner could be found.

The woman, who appeared to be in her early 20s and who identified herself as being Ms. Ouimet’s niece, refused to give her own name.

She drove up to the house in one of two cars that were in the driveway. The other car showed no sign of having been moved since the last snow. There are Christmas wreaths on the front door and on the wall beside the garage – decorations that most homeowners would have removed by now. The blinds in all of the front rooms have been shuttered.

There were also two large garbage cans and a couple of garbage bags waiting for the weekly pick-up – a lot of trash for one young woman.

An Ottawa bailiff has been unable to locate Ms. Ouimet, the long-time civil servant who retired last fall in the weeks before the Auditor-General released a report that had little good to say about how she ran the office.

Federal politicians want to drag her before a Commons committee to explain her actions, or lack thereof. During the three years was commissioner, Ms. Ouimet’S staff investigated just seven of the 228 disclosures of wrongdoing or reprisals it received from public servants.

The bailiff spoke to an unidentified woman at Ms. Ouimet’s house last week – a woman who may have been the same one who was home during the noon hour on Wednesday – who indicated that Ms. Ouimet was out of the country.

The bailiff returned to the residence a day later to ascertain the identity of the woman to whom he had spoken and left a business card when the doorbell went unanswered. That business card was gone when he went back a couple of days later.

The woman who was at the home on Wednesday said she didn’t know if Ms. Ouimet was in Canada or not.

Some members of the public accounts committee said Tuesday that there was no way of being sure that the woman had told the bailiff the truth when she said Ms. Ouimet was not in country. But the summons is applicable only within Canadian borders.

The committee has decided to ask Rob Walsh, the law clerk of the House of Commons, to explain what it can do to compel Ms. Ouimet to testify. A motion has also been tabled to refer the matter to the House of Commons and asks the House to take whatever measures it deems appropriate.

If that happens, Ms. Ouimet could ultimately be found in contempt of Parliament and could, in theory, be sent to jail. But imprisonment is an option that is rarely used in these types of cases.

Published on Wednesday, Feb. 09, 2011 2:43PM EST

CEO of TSX says Flaherty's trust decision knee capped the industry, hurt our reputation abroad

Rik Parkhill, Co-CEO, TSX Group Inc.
Keynote Speaker
Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada
March 3, 2008

TSX Knee capped by Flaherty:

Reprinted from Tuesday, March 4, 2008

"Last year, we were seventh in the world in raising public equity
capital – nearly $56 billion. Some $19 billion of that was for mining
projects -- $11.8 billion raised on Toronto Stock Exchange, $7.2
billion on Venture.

I might note that seventh was a bit down from previous years. We
have, in the past, been fifth or better. But we took a hit a couple of Hallowe’ens ago when the federal government knee-capped the income trust industry."

The importance of Integrity in Capital Markets

"What brings investors to these products and our markets is a global reputation for integrity as well as liquidity. That is a credit to your industry, to regulators and to our own role as an exchange operator.

But global reputations are not won by a global presence. Reputations are won by integrity and world-class performance. They are hard earned and easily lost. We all have an interest in ensuring that this essential basis for our future global performance is protected and

Arbitrary and unproven policies of the Harper Government

"But the broader policy environment needs work, too. As a destination for foreign capital, we are not as attractive as we could be and should be to global markets. Some of this involves shooting ourselves in the foot.

Whatever the pluses and minuses of the income trust decision, for example, it hurt our reputation abroad.

It is not clear that the decision served the government’s revenue objectives either, because it made income trusts very attractive takeover targets for foreign funds who could load them with tax- deductible debt.

Equally, the fuzziness that surrounded the question of interest- deduction taxation as it related to takeovers by Canadian companies of foreign firms certainly spooked some key players in our market at a critical time.

The bigger problem, however, is a policy approach that views the Canadian market and especially Canadian capital markets as an island unto itself. "

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A buck a beer, or simply a buck a vote?

Tim Hudak is coming out of the gate looking like a complete moron. Of all the pressing and urgent issues of the day, the best thing this neanderthal could come up with to pander to the electorate is the concept of lowering taxes to allow beer to be once again be sold at a "buck a beer".

How about rolling back the horrendous HST instead of the lousy tax on beer, Mr. Hudak?

I hesitate calling this guy a moron, but that's what this mover is deserving of. Tim Hudak has even surpassed low water mark of Ontario politicians seeking favour from the electorate when idiot Jim Flaherty ran on a platform of "jailing the homeless", back in 2002.

Tory leader calls for lower beer prices
Published On Tue Feb 08 2011

Robert Benzie
Toronto Star

Ontario’s Conservative leader raised a trial balloon Monday about lowering the tax on beer to allow “buck-a-bottle” suds in the province again.

“One of the things that (Premier) Dalton McGuinty has done is he has banned the $24 ‘two-four.’ We’ll have more to say in the time ahead about some of the ideas that we’re hearing from families,” Tim Hudak said.

“But I do hear from people who say, ‘C’mon, I can’t even get a buck-a-beer in the province anymore thanks to Dalton McGuinty’s policies?’ There are many folks, myself included, who looked forward to the $24 ‘two-four’ on the May 24 weekend.”

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan raised the minimum price for a case of 24 bottles of beer to $25.60 from $24 in November 2008 after successful lobbying from the breweries.

The government cited the “social responsibility” of discouraging underage drinking as a reason for the mandatory increase.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tim Hortons must think it's a nation state?

How delusional is this? This picture was taken at the recent Tim Horton's annual shareholders' meeting meeting in Toronto.

Or was it at the UN?

What's with the flags? Looks like a Press Briefing at the White House.

Name one other corporation that holds its shareholder meeting with flags present?

I can't.

I think these Tim Hortons people have become a trifle delusional and have begun drinking their own Kool-aid (Coffee?) and think they define all things political, when all they really are is a doughnut shop.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Federal Court to Harper: Go suck Wind

UPDATE 1-Canada court overturns gov't ruling on Globalive

TORONTO Feb 4 (Reuters) - A Canadian court struck down a government decision on Friday that had allowed Globalive's Wind Mobile unit to operate a wireless service in the country.

The Federal Court judgment said the government's decision to overturn an earlier ruling by the federal telecoms regulator was "null and void in that it was determined on a basis in law not provided for in the Telecommunications Act."

The court decision will not go into effect for 45 days.

The regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, had originally ruled that Wind Mobile was not allowed to operate as it was not sufficiently Canadian-owned due to its financial backing from Egypt's Orascom Telecom (ORTE.CA).

Wind Mobile launched in December 2009, soon after the CRTC was overruled by the federal government.

The case, T-26-10, was brought by rival Public Mobile who, like Globalive, bought wireless spectrum in a 2008 government auction. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Rob Wilson)

Harper's actions strengthened al-Qaida, says Libyan Foreign Minister

Ransom for Canadian diplomats strengthened al-Qaida: WikiLeaks cable

Postmedia News
February 4, 2011 5:03 AM

A "ransom" that was paid for the release of two kidnapped Canadian diplomats increased the strength of al-Qaida in Africa, Libya's foreign minister complained, according to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

The cable dated 2009, describes comments made by Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa regarding the release of the Canadians that year.

Robert Fowler, who had been appointed as a special UN envoy to Niger, and Louis Guay, were captured in December 2008 and spent 130 days being held by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) before being released.

Postmedia News reported following the release that four jailed "mujahedeen" fighters had been released to al-Qaida's North Africa branch in exchange for the two Canadian diplomats and two European women.

While the Conservative government said it had stuck to its public policy of neither paying a ransom nor freeing prisoners for hostages, Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the time seemed to leave open the possibility that other countries had fronted a deal.

The Algerian daily El Khabar reported at the time that an unnamed European country paid a ransom of five million euros.

In the cable, Kusa said al-Qaida was expanding its influence in the Saharan belt and North Africa.

He said there had been eight kidnappings in the past six months, including the two Canadians, "who were recently released in return for a ransom payment."

The cable recounts Kusa describing the payments as "unfortunate and only increased the strength of al-Qaida."

No details of the ransom were mentioned in the cable, which was recently released by the WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks has shot to international prominence in the past year by leaking a flood of U.S. diplomatic cables and other documents.
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Read more:

Harper and the chamber of secrets

Kurt Genest
Gauntlet Opinions
February 03, 2011

If only running a minority government were as easy as getting toddlers to agree upon their favourite animal or ice cream flavour -- one would say "tiger" and the rest would follow suit. Despite the difficulties of a minority situation, Stephen Harper's Conservative government has been able to exact a remarkable degree of harm upon the internal and external state of Canada in just five short years. Even more remarkably, they are leading the polls against the Liberals with enough of a gap to withstand a decent scandal. As election rumours come to the fore, let's take a merry saunter down memory lane and examine the Conservatives' record.

Harper came to power five years ago on an optimistic wave of change. Transparency was his main platform. Since then our government has become significantly less transparent. The most disturbing example of this came last year when the government refused to reveal uncensored documents of whether or not Canadian forces handed over Afghan detainees to be tortured -- an allegation that would amount to war crime charges. Parliament was conveniently prorogued to further avoid the issue and the government demonized whistle-blowing diplomat Richard Colvin.

Numerous other civil servants have been fired for doing their job, such as Linda Keen, a scientist who was the government-appointed president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Her crime? She had the gall to recommend that the Chalk River nuclear reactor, which produces medical isotopes, be shut down to avoid a catastrophe. The risk of meltdown was one thousand times greater than the recommended safety limit according to Keen, but hey, what's a tragedy of epic proportions between friends? Though her decision was roundly criticized and reversed by the Harper government, her successor saw the same danger and temporarily closed down the reactor a little over one year after Keen had been fired.

Financial mismanagement has also been a Conservative hallmark. Harper promised not to tax income trusts in the January 2006 election. People had confidence to invest in them as a result, but when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced on Halloween of the same year that the government would tax them, panic ensued and the Canadian economy lost over $30 billion according to Liberal MP John McKay -- quite the "trick" indeed. This betrayal of confidence made the shock much worse than if Harper had been in favour of taxing income trusts from the start. The fact that the Conservatives claimed not to have foreseen the cash cow potential of income trusts nine months earlier shows a marked lack of foresight from people who supposedly know how the economy works. When the smoke cleared there wasn't much left to tax.

Flaherty has also presided over the largest deficit in Canadian history: a whopping $55.6 billion last year. While our enormous deficit is partly a result of opposition pressure to enact a stimulus package, the government had actually been running monthly deficits before the Economic Action Plan had been conceived thanks to tax cuts it simply could not afford. Recent decisions to cut corporate taxes and to spend over $10 billion on mega-prisons that will not prevent crime put further unnecessary strain on the budget.

"Canada's Economic Action Plan" also provides a good example of how Harper has placed politics ahead of governance at all costs. Action Plan signs cost up to $7,000 apiece, according to the newspaper Le Devoir. The government has made some of the recipients of its funding install, photograph and record the GPS coordinates of these signs before they could receive any money, all so that the Conservatives may proudly proclaim "look what we did!" at the taxpayer's expense.

This politicization has embarrassingly carried over to the world stage, where Harper has explained to other national leaders that our failures as a nation (the environment, UN security seat, Justin Bieber, etc.) have been due to the previous Liberal government or the currently divisive actions of that rapscallion Michael Ignatieff. It seems that Harper was only joking when he promised an accountable government, but the giggles don't end with the prime minister: John Baird took his schoolyard bully act on the road at a 2007 environmental summit in Bali, where he obstructed progress and refused to accept assistance from opposition climate change experts, humiliating Canada in the process. That's not how grownups act.

An ineffective childcare program, an ambiguous environmental policy and a failure to implement the historic 2005 Kelowna Accord for aboriginal living conditions have also demonstrated that the Harper government is unprepared to face the not-so-new challenges of the 21st century. They do possess a clear agenda -- to obtain a majority -- but why should we give them that power when they lack both the competence and dignity to improve the plight of our country? We are better off with that rapscallion Michael Ignatieff.

Will Harper use the Queen's Jubilee medal for the same crass partisan advantage?

Yesterday we leaned that Harper has established a new series of medals to recognize Canadians engaged in volunteer activities and as the means to commemorate the Queen Elizabeth II's sixtieth year as Queen of England.

Today we lean that Harper used the Queen's visit to Halifax in June of 2010 for purely political gain. What are the odds that Harper will do the same with the recently announced Queen's Jubilee Medals?

Halifax royal repast was Tory affair
Meal with Queen used to reward Conservative loyalists

By STEPHEN MAHER Ottawa Bureau
Fri, February 4, 2010
Halifax Chronicle

OTTAWA — A lunch for the Queen Elizabeth II at CFB Halifax in June was used by the Conservative Party to reward their loyalists, according to a list of federal politicians invited to attend.

At parties in Toronto and Ottawa later in the Queen’s tour, opposition politicians were able to hobnob with Her Highness, but at the Halifax event, the only opposition politician present was Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie, who got in only after her office called to ask for a ticket.

The list of MPs and senators invited shows that Peter MacKay, who was unable to attend, invited 11 guests, Tory MPs Gerald Keddy and Scott Armstrong each brought six guests, West Nova Tory MP Greg Kerr had five guests, and Nova Scotia Tory Senators Fred Dickson, Stephen Greene, Don Oliver and Michael MacDonald each brought two. Senator Gerald Comeau brought two guests.

No politicians from other parties were on the list.

Out-of-province Tories present included Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Gail Shea, Keith Ashfield, Rob Merrifield and Jean-Pierre Blackburn.

Leslie said it felt like a Tory event.

"It was a total Conservative Party love-in," she said. "I was sitting at the same table as a party president from a riding association up in Cape Breton. It was a thank you to the party faithful."

Leslie shouldn’t drag politics into this kind of thing, says Jay Paxton, communications director for MacKay.

"I feel sorry that Ms. Leslie has succumbed to using a visit by Canada’s head of state for partisan politics," he said. "Minister MacKay, who was not at the event because he was attending the repatriation of a fallen soldier, ensured that Canadians and Nova Scotians of all ages, from all walks of life and from all political parties were represented at this luncheon, such as Ms. Leslie."

Leslie says the reception was divided into two rooms.

"The VIP reception room was Conservative ministers and party brass and everybody else was in the other," she said.

It was nice to meet the Queen, said Leslie, but the event left a bad taste in her mouth.

"There is protocol and I think if they’re doing a list like this they should stick to protocol," she said. "And I don’t think it should be used as a Conservative Party thank-you party for the volunteers who worked those campaigns for all those years"

Paxton says Leslie is the one politicizing something that should be above politics.

"The emcee for this luncheon was non-partisan public servant Monique Collette," he said. "Her Majesty’s visit is a source of pride for all Canadians and just because Megan Leslie and the NDP want to abolish the monarchy, she shouldn’t cheapen the experience many Nova Scotians had that day."

Geoff Regan, Liberal MP for Halifax West, who wasn’t invited, said it looks like MacKay wanted to reward party loyalists.

"I think that normally you would have wide cross-section at these things and wouldn’t just invite people who vote for you or support your party," he said.