Is something actually sticking to the Teflon PM?

It’s starting to look like maybe our Teflon PM has fallen on tough times.  It seems that the business suits’ love affair with Prime Minister Stephen Harper is beginning to wane.  Maybe he should’ve kept the sweater vests.  From the Report on Business:

C-suite survey

Executives pan PM’s plan as lacking punch

From Friday’s Globe and Mail

Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have won the skirmish that gives him time to come up with a budget providing economic stimulus, but he’ll be under intense pressure to get it right because close to half of business executives think his moves to date were deficient.

Even in Saskatchewan, where Team Teflon took 13 of 14 seats last election, the love just isn’t what it once was.  From the Regina Leader-Post:

Harper the barrier to ending this mess

And, as if that isn’t bad enough for the poor Hair Harper, that dastardly social democrat, Red Ed, dared to tell it like it is!  From The Globe and Mail:

A CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE: A PRIME MINISTER’S BETRAYAL

Fanning the fires of national disunity

Founding president of Rights and Democracy and former leader of the federal New Democratic Party

Since first being elected to the House of Commons in 1968, at a time of great national unity, I have never witnessed a Canadian prime minister consciously decide to disunite the nation. Until now.

Now, for the first time in our history, we have a prime minister prepared to set a fire that we may not be able to put out, for the paltry purpose of saving himself from a confidence vote on Monday. In almost every sentence, paragraph and page coming from Mr. Harper, his ministers and Conservative MPs, we’re getting distortions intended to delegitimize a democratically formed coalition, proposed in accordance with normal parliamentary practices, between the Liberals and the NDP.

The Conservatives have tried to link the coalition with a demonized Bloc Québécois and Quebec. Mr. Harper wants to buy time in order to stir up support from a majority in English Canada. He is turning a serious constitutional and legal issue, on which he knows he cannot win a confidence vote, into a political battle of national unity, calculating that the numbers are on his side.

Instead of following constitutional precedent and allowing a democratic confidence vote to take place when it should, we have a power-hungry man who will be recorded as the first prime minister in Canada’s history to deliberately create a political crisis and set the fire of national disunity.

And, of course, the socialists had to open their mouths, too!  From Global Research:

Harper’s Coup; Power grab in Ottawa

by Mike Whitney

Global Research, December 5, 2008

“We are in the worst crisis since 1929 and we have no government. How can this be good?” Stephen Jarislowsky, chairman of Montreal money manager Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended Canada’s parliament to avoid a challenge from opposition parties that were planning to oust him from power. The 3-party coalition–the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois—decided to remove Harper because of his strong opposition to a stimulus package that was designed to minimize the effects of the financial crisis. They also opposed his “proposed elimination of subsidies for political parties, a three-year ban on the right of civil servants to strike, and limits on the ability of women to sue for pay equity.”  Governor General Michaelle Jean helped Harper to hang on by using her constitutional authority to close the legislature for seven weeks. Now the country is in a furor.

Harper is a far right conservative ideologue who served as president of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), a conservative think-tank and advocacy group. The organization opposes national healthcare but supports privitization and tax cuts. It has 40,000 members but the names are kept confidential. It’s motto is “more freedom with less government.”

The Prime Minister has been a staunch supporter of George Bush and the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of his critics accuse him of being a neoconservative allied to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Bilderburger Group. He is alleged to be a proponent of plans for a North American Union, which is an elitist scheme to end US sovereignty by merging the three countries– Canada, the US, and Mexico–into one superstate. The plan coincides with Harper’s unwavering support for free trade.

Harper’s connection to extremist organizations may sound far fetched, until one one sees a video of him giving a speech that was also given by Australian PM John Howard prior to the war in Iraq. The speeches are identical–word for word–indicating that they must have been written by a third party somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon or a nearby think tank. The video dispels any illusion that Karzai, Abbas, and Siniora are the only sock-puppets working for Washington.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10491

Harper is also a trusted ally of Israel and has defended Israel’s 31 day invasion of Lebanon in 2006 that killed over 1,300 Lebanese civilians who were fleeing the south to escape Israeli bombing. According to Wikipedia: “the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations presented Stephen Harper with its inaugural International Leadership Award for his support for Israel…the award was given to express the group’s appreciation for Canada’s “courageous stands” to boycott the Durban 2 Anti-Racism Conference.

On June, Harper was also awarded the Presidential Gold Medallion for Humanitarianism by B’nai B’rith International. He is the first Canadian to be awarded this medal.”

Harper is also a committed militarist who has circumvented Parliament and announced a plan that will greatly expand Canada’s armed forces. According to Linda McQuaig of the Toronto Star:

“Harper has already laid out an agenda that would fundamentally change this country – in ways most Canadians would oppose. While this agenda is not “secret,” my guess is few Canadians know about it… Sometime in the dark of night last June 20, the Harper government posted a plan on the Department of National Defence’s website – called Canada First Defence Strategy – to spend an eye-popping $490 billion over the next 20 years on the military.

It’s hard to imagine an agenda with more profound consequences for Canadians, beginning with a dramatic reordering of national priorities. Public health care? Child poverty? Fighting global warming?

While the election campaign focused on economic issues, the military and its combat role in Afghanistan have actually been the centrepieces of the Harper administration. Harper has tried to reshape the way Canadians think about Canada, weaning us off our fondness for peacekeeping (and medicare, for that matter), and getting us excited about being a war-making nation, able to swagger on the world stage in the footsteps of the Americans.” (Linda McQuaig, “Stephen Harper: Bulking up Pentagon North”, the Toronto Star)

Poor, poor, Steve!  No one loves him.

Oh, but I am sure his mother must.  Mom’s are kinda like that.

Prorogue precedents

Steven Harper wanted to shut down Parliament just because he does not agree with it. Some say this is unprecedented.

In fact, Harper is following parliamentary tradition. Consider the following precedents:

1629 King Charles I in England
1799 Napoleon in France
1913: Victoriano Huerta in Mexico
1933: Adolf Hitler in Germany
1936 Francisco Franco in Spain
1939: Benito Mussolini in Italy
1973: Augusto Pinochet in Chile
2008: Steven Harper in Canada

with thanks to Sean in Ottawa for bringing this to my attention.

Coalition: Keep Meeting

Keep meeting

This is posted from a comment by Eric Finley to a post at pogge.ca.  This action would demonstrate that opposition to Stephen Harper and to the events of the last week isn’t just some fleeting, momentary frustration. And it would demonstrate that objection to today’s decision is based on both serious concern for our democracy and for the urgency of the occasion. Please give it your consideration and feel free to leave your comments below.

Keep meeting.

To the coalition: Keep meeting.

Parliament has been prorogued. So you’re not meeting in an official capacity. But nonetheless meet as if you were not prorogued.

Find a site. Pay for it yourselves, and be explicit about that. You’re citizens meeting to speak. But in so doing, keep up the business of Parliament. Debate. Draft bills. Hold (unofficial) committee meetings. Vote… on memoranda of understanding.

Show the country, its citizens, and its investors that while you do not argue with the legality of the delay, you see no need to go on vacation in this crucial economic time. Assume (without even explicitly saying it) that in January when Parliament reconvenes, Harper will fall, the coalition will form government, and the memoranda of understanding and drafted bills will be dealt with, bang-bang-bang, because you have already hashed this out.

Invite the Conservatives to join you. If you get some momentum, you might get no few disgruntled members willing to bet that Harper’s fury will not control their lives.

Let the Conservatives take an extended vactation. Shrink the proposed vacation period instead, to mark the severity of the economic need.

Make it plain that you do not dispute Her Excellency’s right to consent to her nominal first minister’s request to prorogue, and that you respect her for making a difficult decision in uncharted waters. Open each session with a consistent, well-crafted adaptation of protocol which is sufficiently distinct that it does not trespass upon Parliament’s formal privileges… but that nonetheless shows clearly that you do this out of the uttermost respect for the Queen, the Governor General, and the Canadian people.

Repeat frequently that you’re just trying to get work done now, so that things can happen fast when the doors unlock in January. It can’t be trespass upon the privileges of government if its level of formality is that of a caucus meeting.

Be completely transparent. Defeat the smoke-filled rooms meme. Heck, hold it in a bar, if you can find one big enough.

The media will come to you. I can think of no more efficient way to stretch your advertising dollars than a bold, newsworthy stroke like this.

If you do this, I will donate to the limit of my ability. I will write letters to the editor praising your actions. I will take my four children and go door to door. In Edmonton. In December.

Pass it on.

KEEP MEETING.

Women’s groups criticize anti-coalition organizers

This just goes to show how much the Cons care about violence against women, eh?

*Conservatives wrong to call for protest against coalition government on day
to end violence against women, say women’s groups*

OTTAWA, December 2, 2008 – Women’s groups are indignant that protests in
support of the Harper government are being scheduled on December 6th, which
is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
“This is a timely reminder that a coalition government will be better for
women,” said Jessica Notwell of the Canadian Women’s CED Council.

December 6th marks the murder of fourteen young women at l’École
Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 by a man who targeted “feminists.”
Established by Parliament in 1991, December 6th represents an opportunity to
reflect and act against violence against women in our society.

The Conservative plea to support Harper on this day leaves many women
shaking their heads. While the majority of rallies in support of the
proposed coalition are taking place on December 4th, pro-coalition events
are also planned for December 6th in Montreal and in Toronto. However, women
say there’s no conflict with the coalition. They have a problem with
attempts to prop up a government that has deliberately and methodically set
out to derail equality rights for women.

“This is the government that gutted Status of Women, eliminating all funding
for women’s advocacy and removing the word ‘equality’ from the Women’s
Program mandate,” said Gisele Pageau of the Communications, Energy and
Paperworkers Union of Canada. “This is the government that scrapped a
universal child care program and now intends to roll back pay equity when
women still earn an average of 71 cents on the dollar. They don’t deserve
our support.”

“If we’re serious about ending violence against women, let’s recognize that
we need strong advocacy, affordable housing, fair pay and a child care
system we can depend on,” said Rhonda Roffey of Women’s Habitat. “And we
know Stephen Harper just won’t do that.”

The coalition composed of the Liberals and NDP, with support from the Bloc,
has committed to support the implementation of the Pay Equity Task Force’s
recommendations as well as access to EI for women. Furthermore, the accord
signed by the parties specifically mentions the need for further government
intervention to improve child care.

“We believe a coalition will take steps to repair significant damage caused
by the minority Harper government,” said Aalya Ahmad of the Ad Hoc Coalition
for Women’s Equality and Human Rights. “That is why you will see women’s
organizations out in favour of the coalition this week. The prospect of a
coalition government means that things are definitely looking up for women.”

-30-
For more information, please contact Aalya Ahmad, co-coordinator of the Ad
Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights at 819-503-6969.

—————————————————–
*
Les Conservateurs ont tort de demander des protestations contre le
gouvernement de coalition le jour marquant la revendication de mettre fin à
la violence faite aux femmes, selon les groupes de femmes*

OTTAWA, le 2 décembre 2008 – Les groupes de femmes sont indignés que les
manifestations de soutien du gouvernement Harper soient prévues pour le 6
décembre, qui est la Journée nationale de commémoration et d’action contre
la violence faite aux femmes. « C’est un rappel en temps opportun qu’un
gouvernement de coalition sera plus favorable aux femmes », a déclaré
Jessica Notwell, du Conseil pan-canadien du développement économique
communautaire des femmes.

Le 6 décembre marque l’anniversaire du jour, en 1989, où un homme qui disait
haïr les « féministes » a abattu quatorze jeunes femmes à l’École
polytechnique de Montréal. Déclarée journée spéciale par le Parlement en
1991, le 6 décembre est une occasion de réfléchir et d’agir pour mettre un
terme à la violence faite aux femmes dans notre société.

Le fait que le gouvernement demande d’appuyer M. Harper ce jour-là laisse de
nombreuses femmes incrédules. Bien que la majorité des rassemblements
d’appui de la coalition proposée soient prévus pour le 4 décembre, des
événements pro-coalition doivent également se dérouler à Montréal et à
Toronto le 6 décembre. Toutefois, les femmes disent qu’il n’y a pas de
conflit avec la coalition. Cependant, elles trouvent à redire aux efforts
d’autopromotion d’un gouvernement qui tente méthodiquement de faire
dérailler les droits à l’égalité es femmes.

« C’est le gouvernement qui a affamé Condition féminine Canada, éliminé le
financement des activités de défense de cause et retiré le mot ‘égalité’ du
mandat du Programme de promotion de la femme », a indiqué Gisèle Pageau, du
Syndicat canadien des communications, de l’énergie et du papier. « C’est le
gouvernement qui a mis au rancart le programme universel de services de
garde à l’enfance et qui entend maintenant faire marche arrière en matière
d’équité salariale alors que les femmes gagnent encore en moyenne 71 cents
par dollar que gagnent les hommes. Il ne mérite pas notre appui. »

« Si nous voulons vraiment mettre fin à la violence faite aux femmes, nous
devons reconnaître qu’il nous faut de forts services de défense de cause,
des logements à prix abordable, l’équité salariale et des services
appropriés de garde d’enfants », a dit Rhonda Roffey, de Women’s Habitat. «
Et nous savons que Stephen Harper ne nous donnera pas cela. »

La coalition composée des Libéraux et du NPD, avec l’appui du Bloc, s’est
engagée à appuyer la mise en œuvre des recommandations du Groupe de travail
sur l’équité salariale. De plus, l’accord signé par les partis améliorerait
les options en matière de services de garde d’enfants et l’accès des femmes
à l’a.-e.

« Nous croyons que le gouvernement de coalition prendra des mesures pour
réparer les dommages appréciables causés par le gouvernement minoritaire
Harper », a dit Aalya Ahmad, de la Coalition spéciale pour l’égalité des
femmes et les droits de la personne. « C’est pour cela que vous verrez des
organisations de femmes se prononcer en faveur de la coalition cette
semaine. La perspective d’un gouvernement de coalition donne nettement de
l’espoir aux femmes. »

Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec Aalya
Ahmad, coordinatrice de la Coalition spéciale pour l’égalité des femmes et
les droits de la personne, au 819-503-6969.

________________________________________
Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights / La Coalition
spéciale pour l’égalité des femmes et les droits de la personne
http://www.womensequality.ca http://www.egalitedesfemmes.ca
Email: coalitionforwomensequality@gmail.com

Attacks on Parliamentary Democracy

The mainstream media does not like the idea of a coalition government, that much is clear.  After all, they were the bunch that promoted Steve, the Sweater Guy, into a second Minority term with all their glowing editorials about him, despite his many faults — faults they acknowledged.

So, now that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition has teamed up with the other parties in opposition and signed a guarantee of 18 months of stable governance following Mr. Harper’s recent ideologically motivated attack through Minister Flaherty’s Economic Update, the media is doing its best to attack democracy.  Here’s a brief summary.

Whole bales of comment seek to rhetorically delegitimize a clear-cut succession with considerable Commonwealth precedent; in the Post, Don Martin growls about a “putsch” and John Ivison sneers at an incipient “banana republic”, the Globe editorial mutters about “averting this politically illegitimate coalition”. Others, more troublingly, contort constitutional logic to legally delegitimize the idea of majority rule in a hung parliament. In the Citizen, Randall Denley calls it a “virtual coup that is perfectly legal” (and thus, not a coup at all); in the Post, L. Ian MacDonald rants near-identically about “a perfectly constitutional coup, endorsed by the Westminster tradition” (ditto).

It’s as though they’ve taken the Conservative’s Talking Points and memorized them. Or maybe it’s that they wrote them, being that the MSM is supposed to be comprised writers and editors and not propagandists. Take a look at these:

Opposition lacks mandate to take power

* This fall, Canadians gave the Conservative government a clear mandate to continue taking action on the economy.

* During a global downturn, the last thing our country needs for Opposition politicians to claim entitlements for your tax dollars and ultimately, to take power without a mandate from the people.

* Under Stephen Harper’s leadership, our government was ahead of the curve in anticipating the global economic slowdown. We are injecting billions in stimulus through tax cuts, investments in roads and bridges, and we are protecting the banking system.

* Our focus is the economy, but Opposition parties have their own priorities. While all Canadians are tightening our belts, they feel entitled to make taxpayers pay for political party staff, polls and advertising. They want to replace the elected government, just to preserve $17 million worth of entitlements.

* This is clearly unacceptable for a modern democracy.

* The Speech from the Throne was passed by the House of Commons yesterday – after the details of the Economic and Fiscal Update were known.

* After approving the Speech from the Throne, the opposition now is trying to orchestrate a backroom deal to “take” power rather than “earn” it. It would be fundamentally anti-democratic for the Liberals – after their worst popular vote showing in history – to:
o Offer up a surprise leader;
o Offer up a surprise coalition; and
o Have such a coalition backstopped by a party that wants to destroy the country.

* Furthermore, neither the Liberals nor the Bloc have any mandate to form a coalition as they explicitly campaigned against it:

* During the election the Liberals told voters they could not govern in coalition with the NDP because Layton “does not understand the economy”.

* The Bloc also told voters during the campaign that they categorically rejected the possibility of forming a multi-party coalition to stop the Conservatives.

If you listen to talk radio call-in shows, read letters to the editors of newspapers or frequent comments sections or blogs online, you’ll already be familiar with those points.  But now we have some new ones.  And they are nastier:

Sputtering with rage in the Post, Michael Bliss goes so far as to demand that the Governor-General reject any no-confidence vote supported by the Bloc — and if she doesn’t, it amounts to “an abuse of vice-regal power” that raises “fundamental questions about Ms. Jean’s loyalty to the Constitution and to Canada”.

I had expected the attack on the Governor General to come, just not so soon.  I thought they’d denigrate her after she’d decided on the course she must take.  Perhaps this is simply an encouragement to take that line of attack.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no Monarchist, but until we change our system, well, I can live with it.  What this attack does, however, is show how desperate the Stephen Harper supporters are to cling to power.

They will do whatever it takes.  And we can be sure that’s not good for Canada.

crossposted at rabble.ca

The Maple Syrup Revolution!

Whoever said Canadian politics was boring wasn’t paying attention! I certainly did not imagine that Minister Flaherty’s Economic and Fiscal Update – a tradition of modern Parliamentary democracies – would be the tipping point for a majority of Canada’s politicians. I’d been encouraged to participate in the grassroots’ push for a coalition government, urged to send emails and write letters, but I dismissed the idea as too pie-in-the-sky.

Well I’m taking a huge bite of some mighty fine humble pie right now!  The past few days have been a truly remarkable demonstration of how a Parliamentary system of governance can work. I’m not suggesting that it’s the best system around, just that what has been built into it, in terms of checks and balances, seems to work.  This is how would-be tyrants and dictators are prevented from taking power.

A coalition of Liberal, NDP and Bloc MPs is the best outcome we can hope for at this time in our history. The coming together of a coalition as diverse as this is truly remarkable and will, I believe, force Parliament to work in the best interests of all who live in this vast and diverse place.  As I said elsewhere, it is the only logical response to an ideologue whose drive for power exceeds common sense and common decency in the House of Commons.

And now we see the Conservatives embarking on a massive PR campaign, a last-ditch effort to hang onto power. “It’s a PR war now,” according to a senior Conservative.

That about says it all, doesn’t it?  Public. Relations.  For the right wing alliance that became the Conservative Party of Canada, governance appears to be meaningless.  It’s about business, not government.  It’s about dog-eat-dog, not co-operation.  It’s about survival of the fittest, not love thy neighbour.  It’s really sad, actually.

And then, looking at the text of the Accord that all three parties in Opposition signed, in the Policy section, the coaltion lists its concerns, concerns over and above partisan politics:

Economic Stimulus Package
The top priority of the new Government is an economic stimulus package
designed to boost the domestic economy beginning with (but not limited to):
• Accelerating existing infrastructure funding and substantial new
investments, including municipal and inter-provincial projects (such as
• transit, clean energy, water, corridors and gateways). This would certainly
include addressing the urgent infrastructure needs of First Nations, Métis
and Inuit;
• Housing construction and retrofitting; and
• Investing in key sector strategies (like manufacturing, forestry and
automotive) designed to create and save jobs, with any aid contingent on
a plan to transform these industries and return them to profitability and
sustainability.
Rapid Support for those affected by the Economic Crisis
The new Government is committed to ensuring that the federal government has
the appropriate programs in place to assist those most affected by the economic
crisis so that all citizens will be in a position to fully participate in the economic
recovery to follow, including the following measures:
• Facilitate skills training to help ensure Canadian workers are properly
equipped to keep pace with the rapidly changing economy, while
respecting provincial jurisdiction and existing agreements;
• Amend the current law establishing a new crown corporation for
employment insurance in order to guarantee that all revenue from EI
premiums provides benefits and training for workers. Eliminate the current
two week waiting period;
• Lower the minimum required RRIF withdrawal for 2008 by 50 per cent;
• Reform bankruptcy and insolvency laws to better protect pensions; and
• Implement an income support program for older workers who have lost
their jobs in order to help them make the transition from work to receiving
retirement benefits.
Other Priorities to Stimulate the Economy
• Support for culture, including the cancellation of budget cuts announced
by the Conservative government.
• Support for Canadian Wheat Board and Supply Management
• Immigration Reform
• Reinstate regional development agency funding to non-profit economic
development organizations.
Families
As finances permit, we are committed to moving forward with improved child
benefits and an early learning and childcare program in partnership with each
province, and respectful of their role and jurisdiction, including the possibility to
opt out with full compensation.

It’s unfortunate that children fall to the bottom of the heap, but then again, this is a Liberal-led coalition and it took them 12 years of governance to actually put foward a plan, so I guess we know where we have to place some effort, eh?  My kids are 17 and 15 now so maybe by the time they have kids in a decade or so, we’ll have a real plan for childcare in this country!

But I digress.  It’s clear that the coalition partners have the interests of the people of Canada at heart and not their own partisan interests.  Layton made huge concessions in allowing the corporate tax cuts to proceed.  Dion has had to eat some humble pie, too, having said he’d never work with a socialist like Layton.  And Duceppe, by providing support to this coalition, could be seen by hard-liners as jeopardizing Quebec sovereignty.

Pretty sweet times in Canada, eh?  It’s definitely a Maple Syrup Revolution!

with thanks to skdadl @ pogge.ca for the blog post title.