Showing posts with label Stephen Harper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen Harper. Show all posts

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Iggy folds


Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said his party is prepared to “swallow hard” and support the Conservative government, provided they agree to table regular updates outlining how they are living up to their commitments outlined in the federal budget.

Is that it? Is that seriously Iggy's only condition for passing the budget? Despite broad-based demands the budget does nothing to rectify the absurd qualification regime for EI which excludes over 60% of unemployed Ontarians from the program. An effective form of unemployment insurance is an absolute necessity as we enter this recession and yet not only has the Harper government refused to budge on this issue but the Ignatieff Liberals have balked at holding Harper's feet to the fire and insisting that the budget be amended to broaden EI eligibility as a condition for Liberal support.

Instead all Ignatieff is asking for is "regular updates" from the government? This alone will satisfy the Liberals and cause them to favour the continuation of the Harper horror show and ditch the coalition which could have taken power as soon as this Thursday.

This is leadership? This is using your political advantage to leverage concessions?

If neither the Tories nor the federal Liberals are prepared to fix the EI system perhaps the Ontario government, which has complained about the current inequity, should seriously consider this proposal to pull out of the federal EI system and create an Ontario Employment Insurance Program instead?
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Monday, 8 December 2008

The Second Death of Stephane Dion and the paradox of Canadian politics today



Almost a week after delivering an address to the nation that looked like something hostage takers release to prove their victim is still alive, Stephane Dion has resigned as leader of the Liberal Party. Dion thus becomes the first party leader in living memory to resign from the same position twice in one year.


The Liberals are current wrangling over how to expedite its leadership election process so that the party will have a new chief in place by the time that Parliament resumes on January 26th. It now appears that with Dion having been unceremoniously pushed under a bus, Michael Ignatieff will be crowned Liberal leader by caucus on Wednesday with the blessing of Liberal Party riding presidents - party members will be allowed to send their post hoc congratulations sometime next year when, in the best traditions of Stalinist Russia, a party convention will be held to "affirm" the Great Man's leadership. This illigitmate process is being undertaken in order to confer onto the Liberal Party a leader who has more legitimacy than the electorally deficient Dion.


But you can't have party unanimity without a few victims - just ask Stalin's victims. In this case, the murder victim will not be Kirov but Bob Rae's political ambitions along with the "Coalition" that would have brought down Stephen Harper had it not been for the last minute deus ex machina intervention of the monarchy in the form of the Governor General who, like the professor presented with a forged sick note by a bad student desperately seeking a postponement of an exam he's otherwise doomed to fail, gave Harper an extra six weeks to cram. It remains to be seen whether in that time Harper will learn the difference between governing with a majority and governing with a minority. Ignatieff has clearly signalled that if the Tories make concessions - and this means adopted the Coalition's program (weak as it is) the Liberals will likely support the budget.


Few people noticed the election night split-screen interview CTV News did with Rae and Ignatieff. In both his victory speech and in the interview Rae anticipated the broad strokes of the current parliamentary crisis and stated that with a minority parliament Stephen Harper is not necessarily going to be able to stay in government as his Throne Speech needs to gain the consent of the Opposition in order to pass. Rae was intimating that if the Tory Throne Speech was defeated the Liberals would have the opportunity to form a government. Ignatieff haughtily dismissed this scenario as "political science fiction" - the look on Rae's face was priceless. A mere six weeks later, what Iggy had dismissed as fantasy threatened to become reality (over a Fiscal Statement rather than the Throne Speech) and Ignatieff reluctantly signed on and then went into hiding. On Sunday, Ignatieff all but declared his opposition to the coalition idea and went on CBC Sunday to paraphrase William Lyon Mackenzie King by saying "a coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coalition" and explaining that he saw the coalition as a tool to get concessions from the Tories and little else.


Bob Rae, conversely, has been selling the coalition as if it's the Second Coming. After spending an election campaign as the Stephane Dion's designated hitter against the NDP - bashing Layton and his social democratic party at every opportunity - and after years of denigrated his former party as not worthy of support, Rae now posits himself, unconvincingly, as the NDP's best friend in the Liberal Party trumpeting a Liberal-NDP coalition as good for the Liberals and good for the country (good for everyone but the NDP, it seems). How the NDP could be beneath contempt in Rae's eyes on October 13th but potential cabinet colleagues on December 1st remains unexplained. But the ironies don't end there for it is the dire threat posed to the Tories by the coalition that has made it a necessity for the Liberals to expedite their leadership election - an act which will not only sunder aside Bob Rae's leadership ambitions in order to crown Michael Ignatieff as leader. In other words, in order to be prepared for the possibility that the Coalition might bring down Harper and be asked to form a government the Liberals are pushing aside the pro-coalition candidate in favour of the candidate who sees the coalition as expendable.


And people say Canadian politics is boring.
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Sunday, 30 November 2008

Stephen Harper: The new Nixon?

According to CTV News, a Conservative "member" somehow received the dial in number and access code for an NDP caucus meeting on Saturday. The "shocking" fact that Jack Layton talked to the BQ ahead of time is being spun to ridiculous lengths by the Tories and the Conservative Television Network (CTV). So who is this Conservative member? Did he or she inform Harper ahead of time before he or she listened in on and taped the meeting? Did Harper approve of this conduct?
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Saturday, 29 November 2008

Stephen Harper: The Joe Clark of our times



Yesterday, Stephen Harper said the following:


While we have been working on the economy the opposition has been working on a backroom deal to overturn the results of the last election without seeking the consent of voters. They want to take power, not earn it...The opposition has every right to defeat the government, but Stephane Dion does not have the right to take power without an election. Canada's government should be decided by Canadians, not backroom deals.

The Prime Minister is, of course, showing a profound ignorance of how parliamentary democracy works. The government is formed by whoever is able to obtain the confidence of a majority of democratic representatives elected to the House of Commons. At present, it appears that Harper does not have that confidence and that will be determined whenever there is a vote of confidence. If it can be determined that someone else does have the confidence of the House to form a government than the Governor General is obliged to allow that person to try to form a government and meet the House of Commons and test it.
Stephen Harper speaks as if Canadians chose him and his party as the government on October 14th. They did not. Canadians chose 308 Members of Parliament and the composition of the government is determinded by those 308 representatives (hence the term "representative democracy). It is what a majority of those 308 MPs decide that is crucial.

Harper also speaks as if the democratic will of the people is that he be in power. This is despite the fact that his party only recieved 37% of the vote while the Liberals and NDP received 44% of the vote. He has forgotten that he leads only a minority government and it is this bit of political amnesia that has created the current crisis.

Like Joe Clark he tried to govern as if he had a majority. Like Joe Clark he ignored the need to receive the support of at least some Opposition MPs. Like Joe Clark he assumed that because the leader of the Liberal Party had resigned and because that party is in the middle of a leadership contest there is no way they would vote to topple his minority government. Like Joe Clark, Stephen Harper thinks he's a brilliant political tactician and is cleverer than everyone else. Like Joe Clark, he's not.

Unlike Joe Clark, Stephen Harper is a hypocrite since, when the situation was reversed, Harper had no problem with the notition that following a defeat on a motion of confidence the Official Opposition could attempt to form a government if they obtained the support of the House:

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program. We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority. Your attention to this matter is appreciated.
From a letter to then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson signed by all three opposition leaders: Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper(September 9, 2004)
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Monday, 24 November 2008

They're all Keynesians now



After years of proclaiming the death of Keynesianism and the triumph of Friedmanomics it's fascinating to see how the market collapse has turned the most diehard opponents of government intervention in the economy and pump-priming turn into born again disciples of old John Maynard Keynes.

This is what Stephen Harper had to say this weekend:

“Let us remember what led to the Great Depression. It was not caused by a stock market crash. That was only the beginning,” he said. Governments of the time made a number of serious mistakes, including attempting to balance the books at all costs, he said, raising taxes and cutting spending at a time when a fiscal stimulus was “absolutely essential.”


Cutting spending is bad? Balancing budgets is a mistake during an economic downturn? Who knew? John Maynard Keynes did. Meanwhile, it appears that John Kenneth Galbraith, the great but long ignored Keynesian economist, is back in fashion with his seminal 1955 book The Great Crash: 1929 leaping off the shelves as people turn away from neo-classical economics. (So too rentals of the Depression-era classic, The Grapes of Wrath).

James Ga
lbraith, the son of JKG, points out that only a dozen of America's 15,000 economists predicted the current crisis. What does this mean for the "science" of economics? According to Galbraith: "It's an enormous blot on the reputation of the profession. There are thousands of economists. Most of them teach. And most of them teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless."


Back in 1994, when almost all economists were enthralled by Alan Greenspan along with the media and politicians, James Galbraith had the following to say of America's worship of the Federal Reserve and its chairman:

This is the Wizard of Oz theory, in which we pull away the curtain only to find an old man with a wrinkled face playing with lights and loud speakers.


As for Galbraith's prescription for the current crisis:
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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Owen Lippert, Harper's plagiarist, is an intellectual property expert

I wish I could take credit for finding this but considering the circumstances maybe I could pretend that I did:

Competitive strategies for the protection of intellectual property

by Owen Lippert (and others)

More:

Copyright ©1999 by The Fraser Institute. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief passages quoted in critical articles and reviews.

The authors of this book have worked independently and opinions expressed by them are, therefore, their own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the members or the trustees of The Fraser Institute.

Printed in Canada.

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Main entry under title:
Competitive Strategies for the Protection of Intellectual Property

Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 0-88975-200-1

1. Intellectual property (International law). 2. Intellectual
property--Economic aspects. I. Lippert, Owen. II. Fraser
Institute (Vancouver, B.C.)

K1401.C663 1999 341.7'58 C99-911278-3

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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

407 expansion: more public money to private profit?

The Harper government yesterday announced $1.5 billion in spending to improve transit in the GTA. An unspecified amount of that package will be to extend the Highway 407 tollroad 67 kilometres eastward into finance minister Jim Flaherty's riding. Judging by the cost of the 404 extension, also announced yesterday, the toll road will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to extend.

Now hold on a second. The 407 ETR (Electronic Toll Road) is operated and, for all intents and purposes, owned via a 99-year lease by a private consortium comprised of Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte (major shareholder) from Spain, Macquarie Infrastructure Group, and SNC-Lavalin that generated revenues of $118 million in 2006. 407 ETR, which charges its users the highest toll in North America (17.6 cents/km for a small vehicle in peak hours)

Now I thought the logic behind so-called "Public-Private Partnerships" was that the private sector would take on the cost and risk of a public project. Of course, the reality is quite different - the public ends up paying more and getting less so that private shareholders can profit from the public purse.

If the 407 is to be expanded shouldn't the private consortium be footing the bill, particularly if they're going to profit from the longer road for the remaining 91 years of the lease? If not, then shouldn't the new 67 kilometres being built at public expense be entirely toll-free? Why should we be paying hundreds of millions of dollars to enhance a private asset?
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