Friday, March 13, 2009

Daily Digest March 13, 2009



A tragedy

Nova Scotians get half the story

Benchmarking Studebaker

What's the end game in the NATO manoeuvres?

Prudent priming in N.S. infrastructure plan

Anti-Terrorism Act deserves to stay dead

No model prisoner
Talking about suicide

More money, but still no strategy

Why auto bailout needs to get done

Staking our Arctic claim

Lack of remorse called for life termComment

Back at the NATO tableComment6

Time to keep pace with Obama

Finally free to say sorry

What do taxpayers get for auto loans?

Tony, take a happy pill

Give Chrysler loan -- and the gears

Chrysler's chief missed the mark

How low will they go?

To lead NATO

Pro-choicers deny doctors right to choose life

Should Ottawa meet Chrysler's bailout demands?
The never-ending, terrible human toll of the 'war on drugs'


On patrol in the Afghan mountains

A surge towards disaster

How to Leave Afghanistan

The Lost Leopards Of Canada

U. S. investors to blame for recession, Harper says

Group asks RCMP to bar George W. Bush

Auto bailout deal may be unravelling

Clement says no special rules for Chrysler

Facing monetary realit: A new gauge shows that the real cost of borrowing far exceeds the Bank of Canada's overnight rate of 0.50%

Canada suffers second monthly job shocker

Iran's vice-president criticizes Canada

Mexico paying a high price in battle against drug cartels

Should painful memories be erased?

What hurts Ontario hurts Canada

New laws will hinder business

Uneven progress on renewable energy

Poll puts Liberals and Tories in virtual tie

Harper attacks Liberals, Obama in private speech to party

Mud-flinging Tories take umbrage as Liberals return fire

The slur

Stimulus budget passes in Senate

Senate signs off on stimulus plan

Move ensures five extra weeks of EI benefits

Liberals rush budget through to avoid EI holdup

Yesterday's Senate Budget Debate - The "Good Parts" Version

Ignatieff slams Conservatives for misleading people on job losses

All Harper, all the time on new website

Tougher terror laws not needed: experts

EI inequities could be easily corrected

Wrap up private pension plans in favour of better CPP, feds told

Site tracking stimulus spending a bad idea

CBC may sell some services to cut costs

Tories highlight job training initiatives

Prentice confirms assessment overhaul

Telling dirty little secrets

Let the auto companies fail

Anti-Semitism 'a threat to us all': PM

Is Segalism Conservative?

Lone wolf: 'Canada's newest marine mammal'

Conservatism not dead in Canada: Manning

The Commons: General Canada

Sables bitumineux: l'opposition dénonce l'inaction des conservateurs

Ottawa ressuscite deux mesures antiterroristes controversées

Les conservateurs rappelés à l'ordre

Le Sénat adopte le budget

Ottawa revient à la charge... une troisième fois

Harper assimile l'attentat de Mumbai à un acte antisémite

Budget - Ignatieff rentre dans le rang

Le Sénat tente d'adopter la loi de mise en oeuvre du budget avant le congé

Le président de la Chambre des communes contrôle les conservateurs

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penny wise and pound foolish

Bill C-10 is law. Including the non-stimulus subject matters . The Harper Government has obtained what it willed into being and did so
with the assent of the Ignatieff Opposition..  My view is that as events unfold both will come to view their moves as foolish.

This is taken from an article When is a budget a bulldozer?   :"Senator Lowell Murray tried, putting forth an amendment to take Pay Equity and the NWPA out of the bill. He was supported by Elaine McCoy of Alberta and a handful of others. Murray's amendment failed. The budget sailed through. The media never bothered to report why so many members of the Senate were concerned."

It ends with the writer's conclusion, not mine.  "It has never been clearer why Green MPs are desperately needed in the House."

Mine is the need for those adhering to progressive-conservative views as do the mover and seconder of the motion made below.

This is a partisan statement on my part, one balanced by providing access to audio and summary of a speech delivered by Stephen Harper at Preston Mannings Conference last night.

Lowell Murray:  [...]Honourable senators, I did not deny, as any one honourable senator would have the right to do, the unanimous consent required to receive the report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on this bill, and I did not deny the further unanimous consent that was required to proceed with third reading. I respect the fact that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition have made a determination of what they believe their duty to be on this matter, and it would not have served any purpose whatever to delay them in the process.

That is not, of course, to say that I agree with what they are doing and what I suppose they are about to do for reasons that I do not think I have to elaborate at any great length.

Let me say, however, that it is never a happy day, still less an edifying day, when parliamentarians succumb to political blackmail. Parliamentarians who so succumb will find, as parliamentarians before them have found, that the appetite of the blackmailer is not only voracious, it is insatiable. There is no end to it. I very much fear that we are on a slippery slope leading to parliamentary irrelevance.

If I had a message to send to Michael Ignatieff, the message would be: Stephen Harper has your number.

Honourable senators, I assume that later this afternoon, the Senate will be debating the motion put forward earlier by the honourable Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the Investment Canada Act, the Competition Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and several other acts be studied by different Senate committees.

With all due respect, it is hard to take such a motion seriously. I can assure you that the government will not take it seriously. The government will look at it with the same disdainful attitude it always takes toward anything that comes out of the Senate.

I am sure that some of the people who are concerned about ramming through the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the amendments to the Competition Act, the amendments to the Investment Canada Act, the new Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and so on, will come to be heard, but they will not be impressed and I do not think they will thank us for not doing what they know we could have done and should have done namely, sever those bills from the omnibus legislation and send the stimulus package back to the House of Commons for Royal Assent.

By the way, what we would be sending back to the House of Commons would include the provisions relating to Employment Insurance, which were mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition and by the Honourable Senator Mitchell.

I was going to say a few words about the stimulus package because I had not commented on it before. I think it would have been a different package had there been a majority Conservative government. I am sure many people opposite would say, "Thank goodness there is not a majority government. God knows what they might have done."


However, I think even a minority Harper government duly returned to office, as this government was, would have brought in a different budget had it not got into such political trouble by bungling the autumn economic statement, which forced them through a near-death experience. The budget they would have brought in might have been in deficit because of the economic recession and the consequent downward pressures on government revenue and upward pressures on EI and social expenditures, as well as a narrow margin of manoeuvre they left for themselves because of their program spending increases in the first two years for which they had responsibility. Their program spending was going up faster than the rate of inflation, faster than the growth of the gross domestic product and faster than the rate of increase in their revenues, a point made recently by the former Finance Minister and former Prime Minister, Mr. Martin.

However, had it not been for their political near-death experience, they would have brought in a less political budget; they would have spent less on stimulus measures; they would have targeted the stimulus measures they did propose to the longer term improvements in productivity; and they would have acknowledged more directly, as the November statement tried to do, that Canada must largely wait and hope for economic recovery in the United States, and, to some extent, in other large national economies that are the markets for our commodities.

Furthermore, they would have pointed out, as they did in the report they tabled the other day, that they were ahead of the curve when it came to stimulus whether it was an anticipation of a recession or an anticipation of an election is irrelevant, it is beside the point. I think a responsible government would have come to the conclusion that, meanwhile, there was no point undermining our strength and our fiscal situation by unnecessary spending or on unnecessary tax reductions that can contribute only marginally to the recovery process.

As things turned out, however, the government had to bring in a highly political stimulus budget. I support the stimulus part of it because it is the only game in town. The criticism has been largely at the margins and not very substantive at that. However, I do not think the stimulus package itself will do any harm, not directly. When the time comes to restore a balanced budget, it should not be horrendously difficult to pull back much of the short-term stimulus spending. The spending increases in the present budget are not locked in, as new programs often are, and there is no reason why they should lead to structural deficits, a point made repeatedly by the government in recent weeks. I do say that about the stimulus measures.

Honourable senators, I return to the point that I have made several times, namely that we can pass these stimulus measures and send them over to the House of Commons this very day. The bill with the stimulus measures, which is so urgent, can receive Royal Assent this week. Meanwhile, we can delete the clauses relating, among other things, to the Investment Canada Act, the national securities regulator, the Competition Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the proposed public sector equitable compensation act. [...]

I will have to read into the record the clauses that it will be necessary to delete in order to give effect to my purpose. Please bear with me; I will do this as quickly as I can.

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I move, seconded by the Honourable Senator McCoy:

That Bill C-10 be not now read a third time but that it be amended:
(a) by deleting clause 317 on page 291;
(z.76) by deleting clause 299 on page 286; 

Honourable senators will know the effect of those amendments is to remove a number of acts from the omnibus bill and to retain only the stimulus measures that are in Bill C-10.

Hon. Tommy Banks: I am sorry we imposed this, honourable senators, but I cannot help thanking Senator Murray on behalf of all of us for aggregating the motions into one; otherwise, we would be here well into next week.

However, I will impose myself on honourable senators in order to assuage my guilt. I have said here on two occasions that I would certainly vote against this bill if it appeared before us in its present form. I do not think I am telling unforgivable tales out of school if I say I have said that in other places as well.

It is only a fool, however, who does not change his mind, and there have been intervening circumstances that have been discovered by Senator Mitchell and by the Senate committee which changed the landscape in which consideration has been given to this bill.

While I cannot bring myself to vote for it, neither will I vote against it, so I will abstain.

In saying that, I want to state that a victory will have been achieved here today and a defeat will have been sustained here today. It is not a victory by a political party or a sustainment of a defeat of a political party. It is a victory of the ministers of the Crown over Parliament. That is what is happening here today. It is not far removed from the question over which Charles I lost his head. It is not far removed from Runnymede in 1215. It is not hard to imagine John saying: "What is this all about? Do you not understand that I rule this place and that my ministers rule this place? What is this nonsense about me having to ask permission to collect money and determine how to spend it, all of this Parliament business to which you are subjecting me?"

We are back to that now. In this case, the ministers of the Crown have said to both houses of Parliament, "We are the Crown, we will decide what will happen and you will rubber stamp it in both houses. Do not ask any questions, do not study it and do not dare stick anything in our eye."

When we all vote in favour of this bill, which I guess will happen, except for a few of us ­ as I have said, I will abstain ­ that is what will happen here today. Parliament will have lost today, which I very much regret.

Hon. Elaine McCoy: Honourable senators, I rise to put my voice on the record in addition to that of my esteemed colleague Senator Murray. My esteemed colleague from Alberta, Senator Banks, I acknowledge, has expressed many of the sentiments that I would have.

I will say, however, that the motion in amendment before the chamber gives honourable senators a way out.

I was intrigued that, just by chance ­ I am sure this was not planned ­ a bill came before us today in regard to create a national cemetery. Indeed, Senator Banks rose and pointed out that the inauguration ceremony of that national cemetery here in Ottawa was performed before the bill even got to the Senate of Canada, on the assumption that it would pass and become the law of Canada. He said that this is the kind of disrespect the House of Commons has developed for the Senate of Canada. It is also the disrespect that the Government of Canada has developed for the Senate of Canada, the government being the Prime Minister and the cabinet.

Honourable senators, the reason they have lost respect is the Senate of Canada rolls over and plays dead. I believe in the sincerity of those of us who have spoken passionately today in committee meetings and in private meetings before now about the non-stimulus travesty that has been pushed forward in Bill C-10 to the detriment of Canadians. I believe honourable senators want to do the right thing. However, we are letting that opportunity pass by if we vote in favour of Bill C-10 today. [...]

Those things for which we say the Senate stands tall and proud ­ standing up for the regions, standing up for minorities, standing up for women and giving a voice to Canadians ­ are what is at risk today.

I support the motion to sever the non-stimulus portions of the bill and send the bill back to the House of Commons. Let them call for Royal Assent in that form, or send it back to the Senate immediately; but let it be on their heads, not on mine.

Honourable senators, rather than talking about the ends justifying the means, rather than not calling the bluff of the court jester, the Prime Minister of Canada, here is your opportunity to do the honourable thing on behalf of Canadians.

Hon. Norman K. Atkins: [...] We are in a terrible situation. I agree with what Senator Banks, Senator McCoy and Senator Mitchell have said. With the new 18 members who are here, and the number of us who have been here for a long time, we have to think how important this place is, and consider whether we are being taken for granted. It does not really matter what happens in the other place; as long as it passes there and comes here, no one pays attention to what members of this place think. I think that situation is a dangerous proposition for members of the Senate, and this bill is only one more example.

I appreciate the difficulties that the Liberal opposition has in dealing with this situation, but I agree with Senator Murray: This is the time to be bold and take a chance.

I think the government is playing dare with us and with the Liberal opposition. The time will come when honourable senators will have to stand up and be counted. Therefore, I support Senator Murray's proposition, and I will abstain on the main vote.


Does Conservatism still matter: Here's Harper in his own words
by DavidAkin on Fri 13 Mar 2009 01:57 PM EDT
Last night, Prime Minister Stephen Harper opened a three-day conference of
conservatives convened by the Manning Institute of Democracy.
Harper had lots to say about conservatism in an era of big government, about Liberals,
about Barack Obama, and about the cause of the recession.
You can read a summary here and, as I have time, I'll put up some transcripts.
In the meantime, for those Harper-o-philes among you, grab a coffee and sit down for 17 minutes:

From: Real Gagne
Subject: RE: MPs for life???

Am listening to Peter Goldring on Rutherford


I heard him as well.

Whatever happened to Reform principles?

An excellent question. Power was to flow upward wasn't it?
Subject: Fwd: Mortgage Renewal - "trusting" customers pay 41.6% too much!
From: Robert Ede

If any one cares ...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Dear Editors,
My daughter's mortgage was coming up for it's first renewal.
She called me Mon March 9th asking what to do ... Apr 1/09 is the renewal date ... she'd heard nothing from the existing company (TD Canada Trust).
I told her she'd likely get a written notice in the mail any day, but advised her to phone the local branch and see what they said on the 'normal' advance timing of renewal notices from mortgage headquarters ... maybe hers had been lost in the mail?
I glanced at the weekly flyer I had from our office's TD Mortgage specialist (dated March 6th) and told her that the 5yr mortgage was "posted" at 5.79%, but that the actual, normal, lowest, discounted rate quoted was 4.39% for the same term.
After some discussion on why the banks (all of them) have these two rates, she hung up to call the branch and I walked over to chat with our office TD Specialist, he said he didn't do renewals but would call his branch associates and confirm the best available rates offered.
My daughter called almost immediately saying she'd dropped by her supermailbox ... and ... there was the renewal letter - quoting a 5 yr rate of 5.79% and describing the steps to agree and submit the accepted form
I told her to wait til Wednesday to see what unfolded and then call the branch.
On Tuesday the branch called her!  Asked her if she'd got the letter? was she willing to renew?  Why yes she said, but at the "lowest rate" cited on the March 6th flyer I'd send her .... 4.39%
After some stammering and stuttering by the branch rep., agreement on the availability of 4.39% was conceded and a meeting for Fri 13th was arranged.
By email on Wed 11th our office TD specialist informed me rates had dropped since the creation of the March 6th flyer ... that any branch could renew the mortgage ... and the best rate going from TD was 3.79% on 4yrs or 4.09% on the 5yr basis.
I called my daughter to inform her of the "news" that I too had been out-of-date on and she called the branch to check on the "new" rate's availability PLUS to check on another, as-yet-undiscussed, aspect of the renewal process - the fact that SOME borrowers had had the $175 "renewal fee" waived .... if they asked for it to be waived.
After a pause, a few minutes on hold, some humming and hawing, a few more minutes on hold ... the appointment for Friday was confirmed with a promise of the 4.09% rate AND the understanding that the $175 would be unnecessary.
What if she hadn't phoned somebody to check?  What if she and her husband had trusted that their existing company was giving them the 'best available rate' and had just signed and returned the form?
They'd be paying 1.70% too much! .... 41.6% too much!!
And they'd never have known ... since any visit to the branch would show the "posted" rates on display.
This is not about just this one bank .... they're all doing it ... thousands of times a month, a week, a day ... sending out renewal letters at rates far higher than what is readily available ... for customers who ask.
This Posted Rate/Discount Rate game gets foiled with resale sales because the Realtor involved with the transaction explains the game to the buyers, but how many New Home buyers (like my daughter and her hubby) just blindly sign the renewal the first time it comes around and end up overpaying thousands of dollars (1.7% on ~200,000 x 5yr =$17,000) in interest
Just because they thought they were dealing with an honest, reputable, lending institution.
Yours truly,
Robert Ede,

From: Tom Brewer

I only wish those who suggest Bush should be barred from Canada would get a life! It will never ever happen friends. I'm not sure what they breathe but it sure sounds good, in my opinion.
I'd suggest they get a life! Bar Bush... Come on now... He is Harpers's pardon me Steve's best friend. In my opinion the only reason he is coming to Alberta is a goodly bunch are died in the wool rednecks.
Would I pay to hear him talk. NO! In my opinion his handlers will once again ensure he does not fall over his feet.

From: "McCoy, Elaine" <mccoye@SEN.PARL.GC.CA>
To: "''" <>
Subject: RE: Elaine . .


Thank you for your email regarding Bill C-10, the Budget Implementation Act. I seconded a motion to split the non-stimulus provisions out of Bill C-10 and urged the Senate to adopt it today.  Although many Senators were sympathetic, our motion failed. However, and this will be important for laying the ground work for future changes, the Senate did agree to refer non-stimulus subject matters to various committees for further study. 

The Navigable Waters Protection Act goes to the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. 

The Investment Canada Act and the Competition Act go to the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee.

The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act goes to the Human Rights Committee.

All other non-stimulus items go to the National Finance Committee.

I sincerely hope that you will contact the relevant committee and make arrangements to register your concerns. As a Canadian citizen, you have the right to be heard and it is important for the future of our country that you make this effort.  Here is the link to the Senate Committees page which will give you contact information for the committee clerk and the names of Senators who are members of each committee.

Thank you for all your efforts and inspiration to date.  Best regards, Elaine McCoy

From: Ray Strachan.
Subject: Good Ole Chamber of Commerce


Re Bush coming to Canada at behest of Calgary Chamber of Commerce. For What?,
to enlighten someone?      But then it is The Chamber of Commerce Isn't It.

In all my long life, I have NEVER seen that body come out in favor A WORKER
getting a raise.     How many times I have seen their plaintive cry when The
Teachers or Nurses were applying for, or about to get a Raise.    "Jeez,its
gonnna bring the country to its knees they wail."

These are the same saps that want to sell us everything under the sun. So it
follows doesn't it,   Bush,brains? at least he doesn't even try to hide the fact
that he was short changed at birth.....   Chamber of Commerce members, well if
they have any,  they sure do their damndest to keep them well hidden.I don't
think they would invite someone who had only murdered  "ONE"{ person.   But a
MILLION PEOPLE,    they just haven't been able to get their minds around that.

Ray Strachan.

To: Letters Editor <>
From: Larry Kazdan
Subject: Are Ex-Presidents subject to Canadian Law like everyone else?

Dear Editor,

Whether the law is applied equally in Canada will be severely tested when George W. Bush visits Calgary this month. The Convention on Torture to which Canada is a party specifically requires us to either prosecute or extradite for prosecution any person within Canadian territory, alleged to have committed torture. The author of the U.S. Army's 2004 internal report on Abu Ghraib stated  "… the Commander-in-Chief [Bush] and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture ..." and this judgment was echoed by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture who concluded in February 2009 that  "torture methods used in interrogation by the U.S. government were explicitly ordered by former U.S. defence minister Donald Rumsfeld… with the highest U.S. authorities' knowledge."  In 2004, Bush entered Canada but was entitled to immunity from prosecution as a head of state.  That immunity is no longer relevant.  Will Canadian authorities now apply the same law to Citizen Bush as they do to other alleged torturers?  Don't bet your throwing booties!

Larry Kazdan,
Vancouver, B.C.
Footnote:  Quotes can be found in the letter from Lawyers Against the War to Stephen Harper, Feb. 23, 2009 archived at:

From: The Natroses

Hi Joe, Just read an article in NP, on Harper's recent speech. Not only did he blame the recession on consumers, he went one step further by blaming consumers who do not live by the 3 F's.

At the end he states, " Harper told the group that his version of conservatism is summed up "in three Fs:freedom, family and faith."

He said individual freedom is vital but it must be tempered by family and faith.

In Mr. Harper's mind, faith has less to do with a particular religion and more to do with morals, he said.

"Faith in all its forms teaches . . . that there is a right and wrong beyond mere opinion or desire. Most importantly, it teaches us that freedom is not an end in itself, that how freedom is exercised matters as much as freedom itself."

This is very telling of the man, and heaven help us all if he ever gets a majority.  His morals are on the same line as other extreme right Christians, that troubles are the fault of the individual and the way he lives. No blame can be rest on outside sources such as education, health, police, court systems, etc., because these systems were built on Christian values. If there is trouble on your door step, it is because God is punishing you for your misdeeds or making you a better person that comes from the troubles. This speech tells me, there will be no help for the people who are unemployed, no help for affordable housing and no help for anything that might have an greater impact on an individual's life, rather than a greater impact on the collective good.

From: Rubie Britton
Subject: Do you remeber these?

Count the number you can recall, eh?
From: "J.D. HAWKINS"
Subject: Finally a conservative leader defining is some ways what a conservative is.

We may think the economy is in bad shape but it was in worse shape in 1982 when Reagan and Thatcher reduced taxes and unnecessary government spending and started a very long period of growth.  I think Harper is as close to being on the money as anyone.  I saw one report where one state in the US was putting a high tax on high income and the people left.  Maybe the US earners making over $250,000 will come to Canada and buy a house. J  Thought you might like this article.

From: "Ross Bateman"
Subject: FW: The province's green energy plan is turning Ontario into a green police state

Joe : This is from The Financial Post, earlier this week, I think.  This contains important information, verging on something that looks like a conspiracy.   Worthy of The Digest, I think.  Ross

The province's green energy plan is turning Ontario into a green police state
            (See extracts from the GEA search-and-seizure provisions here.)

From: Rebecca Gingrich
Subject: bailout garbage

This is an article by Edgar Steele--Pay particular attention to the paragraph titled Industrial-Strength Deindustrialization and Socialism. It shows why any bailout Canada gives to the car industry is just going to be wasted on a dying industry.

The Road to Hell
(is Paved with Bailout Money)


Subject:  But does Harper defend Canadians and Canada?

Israel deliberately bombed a UN outpost and killed a Canadian and Harper said nothing.  Harper 'defends the Jewish faith' but not the Christian faith--he can light a Mennorah on public property but we can not have Christmas trees or Creches on public property.  We are not allowed to speak against the Israeli genocide of Palestinians that is continuing this day and yet our PM defends this killing?  Our Zionist controlled msm doesn't even mention that the killing is still continuing and growing.  This is despicable.

Subject: Conspiracy theories, a l'europeenne ...
From: "Efstratios Psarianos"

Hi, Joe.
Conspiracy theories, in a European context ...
Cheers! And have a good weekend.
Put the beam before the mote
Mar 12th 2009
Eastern Europe should not be tempted by paranoia

WAS it all a conspiracy? It is not the first time in east European history that the question has been asked. Wicked western manipulators were a staple of communist-era propaganda. Before that, anti-Semitic politicians used to blame Jews (and Freemasons) for manipulating the destiny of other countries. In the 19th century, the German, Austro-Hungarian, Czarist and Ottoman empires kept almost the whole region from the Baltic to the Black seas divided up between the great outside powers.

Now the conspiracy theory is back again. Somebody was spreading rumours. Somebody with foreknowledge or malevolent intent was shorting currencies, stocks and bonds. Someone was using sinister-sounding financial instruments such as credit-default-swaps so that whatever happened, they would profit from a panic. These somebodies could be anywhere, but they are certainly foreign.

Or maybe it is all a plot by Germans to push the Austrian banks into bankruptcy so that they can buy them up cheaply. Or maybe it is a means for "old Europe" to destroy the competitive threat from the unloved "new Europe". Or a French-German plan to create a core Europe round the euro zone, excluding the troublesome countries farther east. Or it is all some super-clever plot by the ex-KGB regime in Russia, details to be announced later. All that is missing is hook-nosed men in ringlets drinking the blood of Christian children.

The truth is more prosaic.