Thursday, June 04, 2009

Daily Digest June 4, 2009



Let's hum along with Magna

Minister's slip reveals deceit

How to improve harmonized tax

Terror law goes too far

The Lisa Raitt affair

Single tax plan stumblefest 

  It takes a family to raise a child

Economy is bad, but it's going to get worse

Families need defending

Pension plans are ready for review 

Reality TV

Forestry's message lost in the woods


Snubbing the Queen

China's regime hasn't changed

UN is our best hope 

Needle exchange solution exists

GM-style aid not on tap for forest firms

Retiring national chief open to federal run

Bureaucrats killing morale in the Forces, soldiers say

The United States needs Canada

Canada rejects American request to accept some Guantanamo detainees

Canada and U.S. should share kidney list to help donations:doctor

Bank of Canada sounds warning over loonie's rise

U.S.: Obama Appeals to Muslim World for "New Beginning"

Court orders government to let Abdelrazik return

Ontario Liberals battered over untendered eHealth contracts Ottawa pushes for new chapter in free trade with U.S.

PC candidate calls for end to welfare `lifestyle'

Federal infrastructure funds have failed to yield results: MP

Ignatieff vows no special powers for Quebec on day he attempts to woo support

Ignatieff an enemy of Quebec? 

The Commons: The interrogation of Lisa Raitt
Mayors say construction season slipping away with no sign of stimulus cash

Info watchdog urges more federal openness

Feds cancelling Quebec-centred Canada Day fund

Flashback: Tories defend giving Quebec 85% of funds

CRTC keeps hands off Internet 

3-month estimate for isotopes reactor repair 'optimistic': AECL

Tory law would mean jail for drug crimes


WHO's Chan aims to strike balance as agency steers world toward possible pandemic

Garth Turner wants you to Raitt him!

Copyright report tailored to please client: ex-researcher

GM needs new corporate culture as badly as cash

Ignatieff dénonce le fédéralisme de confrontation de Harper

L'oubli de l'équipe de Lisa Raitt continue de faire des vagues

Ignatieff n'accorderait pas plus de pouvoirs au Québec

La Cour fédérale ordonne à Ottawa d'aider Abdelrazik à rentrer au pays

Phil Fontaine n'a pas exclu la possibilité de se lancer en politique fédérale

Chalk River pourrait être hors service plus longtemps que prévu

L'oubli de l'équipe de Lisa Raitt continue de faire des vagues à Ottawa

Le Canada rejette une demande américaine d'accepter des détenus de Guantanamo

Les maires canadiens attendent toujours l'argent promis par Ottawa

Le CRTC continuera d'exempter Internet de la réglementation


From: Brad Thomson
Subject: BELOW 30

Hey Joe, is this guy Bob Taubman serious?
Bob Taubman asks conspiracy theorists to show him the proof about 911. Well, the official story IS a conspiracy theory. It is alleged that an Arab living in a cave on dialysis with almost no communications to the outside world conspired with a bunch of guys with box-cutters. So the only question is, which conspiracy theory is more credible?
Of course, all Mr. Taubman need do is a Google search for "911 inside job" and he will find more material than he could read in a lifetime. The evidence is overwhelming if one would care to look for it.
But here is another angle that I recently heard espoused by the former Governor of the State of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura. He asks two very interesting questions, I paraphrase: If fire brought down all three buildings (the two that were hit by planes and the one that was hit by nothing), why has the government not implemented stringent new safety codes related to the extreme dangers of fires in buildings? And, the next time they want to demolish a building, why don't they just put a match to it and wait for it to come down?
Brad Thomson
Gatineau, Quebec

From: Rebecca Gingrich
Subject: Sleight of hand???

Joe--the very first article on the DD is very interesting.  The government selling off VIA???   Could it be that now that 'we' own part of GM it is important to get rid of public transportation so that people will have to buy cars?  That would increase 'our' profits in the company?

Seems to me I have read something like this before.  I believe Jane Jacobs wrote something about the governments buying up mass transit and then closing them down so that people would be forced to buy cars to get around.  That worked well, didn't it?

Sometimes you've got to wonder just what the federal government is thinking. On the one hand, it's spending billions in the midst of a recession, buying into Chrysler and General Motors - two struggling companies with primary workforces in Central Canada - and on the other hand, it's arguing it wants to sell off federal assets and make a profit at the bottom of a recession. That's despite the fact that some of those federal assets also employ thousands of Canadians, with operations spread across much more of the country than either GM or Chrysler.

One of the federal assets the federal government says it wants to sell is Via Rail, the country's passenger rail service.

Here's a thumbnail from the company's annual report: "Via operates up to 503 trains weekly on 12,500 kilometres of track, and serves 450 communities across the country, from coast to coast and north to Hudson Bay. Via carried close to 4.2 million customers in 2007. Via's fleet includes 396 passenger cars and 78 active locomotives. In addition to 159 railway stations, Via operates four modern maintenance facilities, and employs some 3,000 people."

But when you think of selling the railway off, there's another part of the equation worth thinking about: Via cost the taxpayers $256 million last year - $214 million of that in operating expenses and $42 million in capital costs.

While the government might like to be out from under those costs, it's hard to see how the sale of the asset would be attractive to buyers - unless the new owners plan massive cuts. And when you cut, the place you save money is in cutting jobs.

Likewise, say, with the CBC, another asset that the federal government is looking at selling off. The broadcaster depends on the federal government for about $1 billion of its $1.6 billion annual budget - it employs, according to its last annual report, some 9,930 people in 27 regional offices, countrywide.

Once again, anyone looking to buy would be looking for significant cost savings - and once again, in the world of modern North American business, the biggest costs (and the biggest possible savings) are in labour costs.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday that the federal government does not expect to recover the billions it's investing in the struggling car giants.

So, what's the message? Is it that auto industry jobs are a legitimate and necessary investment, but rail employees and CBC employees are not - that, in fact, from an investment point of view, they're a saleable asset?

Or is it that this government is suddenly caught on the pragmatic divide between living up to its core smaller-government, unfettered-business philosophy, and the fact that abiding by that core philosophy would mean thousands of unemployed autoworkers and, not incidentally, unemployed voters as well?

The whole equation may make sense to Harper and the federal cabinet, but to the casual observer, it's like the right-wing hand doesn't know what the left-wing hand is up to.

From: The Natroses

Hi Joe,
To Larry:  Joseph Health has conveniently omitted the historical facts, that co-ops were major instruments of social change, politically ideology, and were better equipped to protect local residents from predatory pricing of the profiteers and merchants of the time,  in rural Canada. It also held true in urban areas of Canada, where ever there was great numbers of the working poor. As you have mentioned, he knows little about co-ops. I go a step further, he works for those capitalists who had the same fears of the profiteers and merchants of the 1800s and early 1900s - an end to their high profit margins, lifestyle and their high status ranking in society.

From: Peggy Merritt
Subject: Re Lisa Riatt

Hi Joe:  My question is why did CTV hold on to important documents for six days?  Is this another gottcha technique by the media?  Anything for a story.  The minister was working and it is not unusual to give briefing papers to her assistant to look after.  It was an oversight during a busy time for the Minister.  The Minister is doing a superlative job for Canada in making a very serious effort to clean up another mess left over by the previous Liberal reign! I say "you go girl."  Peggy Merritt

: alan heisey <>

j, i fear the following topic is probably too mundane to rate the attention of you or your readers but with the provincial party's leadership contest bringing their membership up i have been savouring a question to ask senator con di nino at a fundraiser next tuesday, the 9th, for christine elliott, in the gorgeous garden of the mcfadyens of toronto centre. he is billed as "bringing us up-to-date on events in ottawa" but i on a backstreet here in trawna want to ask him how he would compare the health of the provincial and federal parties here in our 23 big city seats. i don't hear nuthin' about federal party progress in ourtown so comparing the two parties seems to me an entirely reasonable question to ask. would any of your readers have views on the same matter? cz ps looking up canada 411 for the good senator pulls up two names in montreal and that is all, so would appreciate one of your readers forwarding this item as notice to him!

From: Tom Brewer

Lets get this right! Nothing will phase Stephen Harper! His supporters worship the ground he walks on! Every word from his mouth is taken as gospel! Like I say nothing will phase him... Nothing. I feel for the other Minister having to take the life in hell fed to him because of his gaffe.
Ah no worry though... You assumed you were blessed but now find out differently.
Who said Harper speaks with forked tongue? We must have that wrong, however even if he did make certain statements he is one who does not have to justify making or worse yet having to follow what he says.
Yes my fellow Canadians YOU have yet seen the light. Harpers halo might look tarnished to some, sorry its just a bit off color my friends
In all of this I'm sure a few more of his disciples will be more wary of his actions. The greatest problem we have is being able to show the masses, he is not GOD. I'm afraid though, Harper is giving the Lord a run for his money. God help him when the good Lord strikes him.

From: "Derek Skinner"
Subject: Fw: Harper seeks $4 billion through privatizations by March 2010

This is wrongheaded and results from ideological blindness caused by belief in unlimited corporate control and banking greed rather than true social spirit.
The solution could so easily be to use the Bank of Canada to directly fund the deficit so that we borrow from ourselves and pay ourselves back in due course rather than borrow from private sources and increase the compound interest we already pay.

Subject: The bankruptcy of General Motors ­ A giant falls
From: "Efstratios Psarianos"


 The bankruptcy of General Motors A giant falls;fsrc=nwl

Jun 4th 2009
From The Economist print edition

The collapse of General Motors into bankruptcy is only the latest chapter in a long story of mismanagement and decline
SINCE the start of the year it had seemed probable, and for several weeks inevitable. General Motors application on June 1st for Chapter 11 protection from its creditors, triggering the biggest industrial bankruptcy in history, was nonetheless a momentous event.

The filings lodged at 8am with a court in Manhattan were testimony to the size and complexity of the 101-year-old company and to the scale of the problems that had finally overwhelmed it. Until 2008, when it was overtaken by Toyota, GM was the worlds biggest carmaker, producing well over 9m cars and trucks a year in 34 different countries. It has 463 subsidiaries and employs 234,500 people, 91,000 of them in America, where it also provides health-care and pension benefits for 493,000 retired workers. In America alone, it spends $50 billion a year buying parts and services from a network of 11,500 vendors and pays $476m in salaries each month. . . .

Subject: Monetary reform list
From: Richard Priestman

Joe Hueglin:

Hello.  My name is Richard Priestman.   I picked up your address from an email I received. 
I send out information on monetary reform matters from time to time and was wondering if you would like to be added to the list.  Below is a sample of the type of information I send.

Richard Priestman

C.D. Howe Institute says Bank of Canada should create money
Well!  Wha'd'ya know?  Even the C.D. Howe Institute says the Bank of Canada should buy Government of Canada securities, (C.D. Howe Monetary Policy Council report – 16/4/09), or to put it another way the government should borrow from the Bank of Canada.  When the government sells a bond it is borrowing from the purchaser of that bond, and when the government borrows from the Bank of Canada there is effectively no interest on that debt because interest paid comes back to the government as dividend.  In this way, the government can borrow whatever is necessary to get the economy moving again without hanging a huge debt burden on the necks of future generations.  We pay enough interest now on the debts of our three levels of government (over $63-billion a year) for money borrowed privately instead of from the Bank of Canada.  We don't need any more privately financed public debt!
"A strong majority" of the Monetary Policy Council "favoured purchases of Government of Canada securities ……….. rather than purchases of private securities".  While their goal is more cash for financial institutions, the same procedure can be used to provide cash for our three levels of government to invest in public services such as housing, infrastructure, education, research, the CBC, health care, recreation facilities etc.  Investments of this nature provide big dividends, some of the biggest coming from education and research.  Among others who support government investment in public works to get out of the recession is David Dodge (former Governor of the Bank of Canada).
With unemployment climbing by the tens of thousands in a month, much more needs to be done than is.  Some will balk at the thought of taking on more debt, not fully understanding that investments in public service using interest free money pay off in future dividends.  Others balk at it because of an ideological commitment to smaller government and privately run services.  Public financing of public works not only would make it possible to do what needs to be done, it would also lower taxes and, more importantly, reduce the influence of lenders on government!  The legislation for using the Bank to finance government debt exists in the Bank of Canada Act.
Now that the C.D. Howe Institute supports use of the Bank of Canada to buy government securities, maybe the CCPA (Canadian Council on Public Policy) will say more about it.  They used to include a statement on it every year along with their "alternative budget", but have said very little in this regard for the past several years.  The Council of Canadians adopted a resolution on this at their 1994 annual meeting, but never acted on it. Likewise the NDP adopted a resolution on it at their leadership convention in 1995, then promptly ignored it.  Maybe it, too, will talk about it.  Maybe even the Liberals and Conservatives will support the idea.  And maybe the CLC (Canadian Labour Congress) will talk about it at the rallies they are organizing all across the country in their "campaign for change".
If enough Canadians say that public debt should be financed by our public bank, the political party(s) which support this policy will have the best chance of getting elected at the next federal election.
From: Tom Brewer

I will lay odds Harper will flaunt the recent court order to repatriate the man who has been living in our embassy! In my opinion Harper thinks he is right come hell or high water and as a result wont flinch. In my opinion he will try to show us he is right and despite what others say will do as he pleases! It is more than maddening to think this Prime Minister could or would flaunt a court order but you watch he will.
Like I said as a Canadian I would not want to leave my country because Harper would do anything in my opinion to stop anyone he feels threatens him.

From: "John Duddy"
This one seals the argument.

From: Ray Strachan
Subject: Obamas Speech


I only wish that we had "One Member of Our Federal apparatus" in Canada who
would be "allowed" to send Israel anything but  "FLOWERS"    The gutless
country that we are. To think there are so many Canadians who profess to Love
this Spineless,Fascist Dictatorship that we live in.  Mr Obama certainly stuck
his neck out and I commend him for it.  Will anything change in The Middle
East because of what he had to say.    I would predict, "Nothing of
By the way,I heard  The Whole speech on Seattle Radio, Not on our  Glorious
and Free Media. But of course I may have simply missed it.

Ray Strachan

From: "Jacob Rempel"
Subject: FW: My thoughts about the speech President Barak Obama spoke in Cairo

From: Jacob Rempel

5 AM Thursday June 4th 2009

I just listened to Barak Obama's entire speech in Cairo.

I want to write about it before I hear a variety of commentary.

My thoughts about the speech President Barak Obama spoke in Cairo

The speech will be admired as a very great speech. I concur in that anticipated opinion,

though it did not quite match the Sermon on the Mount spoken by Jesus a few years ago.

Once more, he spoke with eloquence and passion in a rhetorical tour de force. And within

the declared reasons for and purposes of the speech, Obama spoke meaningfully and with

remarkable comprehensiveness given the time frame of about an hour and a half.

The speech is also the speech of an unapologetic super power which intends to protect

and advance its own perceived interests in a world of competing great power interests.

He wants the United States to be a nice Super Power, and I appreciate that intention.

(It's 5:30AM -- I have to break for breakfast and a downtown 7 AM appointment.

I guess I will hear some commentary before I complete this blurb later today)

(It's 2PM -- I was out but I heard no remarks about Obama's big speech)

In the largest scenario of competing Great Power interests, in a world with no effective league

of united nations to mediate or arbitrate competing interests, we have to give Obama some slack.

Like he is fond of saying, it's easier to start a war than to end it. To simply turn around, march to

the troop carriers, then fly and sail home, --- that could do a great deal for the people in the USA

(and Canada) if the technology and people of war were to be re-deployed creatively in the domestic

economy. Such is the obvious and righteous view of us peaceniks.

However, such an abrupt retreat would also open the gates for the other great Powers to move

rapidly into the power vacuum wherever the USA war machine evacuated. If that were the case

in the various small nations where the US now has corporate interests and military installations,

then Russia and Chins and India and perhaps European Powers would move in quickly with

similar negative consequences for the small countries.

The balance of power would shift, the great game would change but not end. There is no good ending

until all nations great and small accept practical win-win fair trade without resorting to military force.

So this is the context within which an American emperor can maneuver as he works to get out of the

theatres of wars.

Canada has a more flexible option of moving much more quickly to come home and de-mobilize.45

The wars are not ours except to help restore the victimized people to a modicum of well-being.

Again, I encourage you to find a source of the complete speech. It's a classic. CBC and BBC will

have complete transcripts archived for you.

---Jacob Rempel, Vancouver.

Subject: RE: Daily Digest June 3, 2009
From: "Efstratios Psarianos"

Well now, not everything in life is based on science is it?
And darn if you're not forcing me to reveal one of my commentarial secrets: escape hatches. I almost always put in something upon which I can build when someone comes back to me with critique, constructive or otherwise. In this case, it's the following sentences: 'Thus, there's no reason to believe that what they're hypothesizing is either fully or partly true. And that's a weak base for building one's opinions upon'.
Notice that the base is weak, rather than absent? If one's looking carefully for ways that I leave for me to argue exceptions or non-applicability of my arguments (and there always will be exceptions and non-applicability, this being a big, complicated world), one will almost always find them. And if I don't leave any, it's because I was in a hurry and forgot to do so.
I find it a handy way to present general ideas in manners that can't be pinned on me when misapplied. And that's much better than the modern politician's frequent habit of simply stating some basic facts and nothing else when questioned. Many times, and even most times, defence is the way to play for a responsible politician; but it's playing offensive that scores goals if one does so well.
 Just trying to raise the rhetorical art, Suh! Or revive it, whatever ... it HAS lost its lustre now that aristocracy's faded away.
P.S. Feel free to post this on the DD.
Where does the Ben Laden Al Quaeda explanation sit on the continuum of speculative hypothesis to theory scientifically proven?


At 08:59 AM 04/06/2009, you wrote:
And so, conspiracy hypothesizers: they're not theorists because their hypotheses can never be proven right (or right enough to be of any use). Thus, there's no reason to believe that what they're hypothesizing is either fully or partly true. And that's a weak base for building one's opinions upon.

Watch the video and decide if the Minister's resignation ought to have been accepted.

No, the Minister's resignation should not have been accepted; this was a matter of oversight rather than negligence, dereliction of duty, or misbehaviour. And it MIGHT have been the Minister's aide's proximate fault (i.e., he/she physically did it).
That being said: this kind of stupidity is s sign of managerial ineptitude, and it's NOT at the Minister's level. Imagine a CEO's finding out that VPs are accidentally leaving sensitive information lying around or leaving it behind at meetings at other companies. And understand that leaving stuff behind, whether a few sheets of paper, a binder, etc., is something that everyone does once in a while, especially when one's tired from working long hours. Now, if the information's sensitive enough, the CEO has choices:
1. Wag his finger in the VPs' faces and say 'Don't do that' (i.e., write somewhere in a letter to VPs that the latter are "responsible for documents in their possession").
2. Ensure that sensitive documents are tracked by copies having to be signed in and out like in a library, ensure that they don't (or can't?) get photocopied (e.g., at the very least, putting 'DO NOT COPY THIS DOCUMENT' in big, bold letters onthe cover and theroughout the document), and ensure that a security officer calls the holder of the document (say, a Minister's aide) every so often to ensure that the document is in the person's possession. Also, undertake other measures such as a document copy have a 'Must Be Returned By' date, or whatever.
OK, now consider that Option 1 means that as CEO you're washing your hands of situations where documents with National Secrets in them are being carried around by young pups (a la 26-year-old gofers, aka 'suitcase carriers' as we call them in Quebecois) and that you can't be bothered to take seriously the fact that it's more than just a good thing to keep National Secrets under wrap. Does it strike you that The Boys Up Top haven't been too smart in their handling an Affair of State?
This is precisely the kind of stupidity that undermines trust in a Prime Minister, his Cabinet, and their Offices, and which gets them bounced out at later elections. After all, it doesn't take long for voters to form ideas (albeit unconsciously ... they'll rarely remember specific events) that if a Ministry can't be trusted to keep track of important docments, then it's nit terribly competent when it comes to running the country.
From: Bob Taubman

Re: World Trade Centre:
I don't believe for a second the U.S. government had anything to do with 911,  I don't believe Roswell has aliens, I don't believe taxation is illegal, and I don't believe the earth is flat. 
Now, back to the real world.
Bob Taubman
Ottawa, ON

Strictly speaking, they're not even theories. Theories are scientific ideas that have been tested empirically and that so far have been found to reflect measured/observed reality. Examples are Newton's (so called) 'Laws' of Motion. The 'laws' are actually theories that started out as hypotheses (unproven ideas) that seemed to explain some phenomena that Newton observed. After testing under controlled (enough) conditions (for the time), the hypotheses were shown to consistently reflect reality, so they get upgraded to being theories.
Two hundred and fifty-odd years later, Einstein came up with his hypotheses concerning relativity and general relativity, which superseded Newton's theories when it came to bodies travelling at significant fractions of the speed of light. In other words, Newton's Laws (theories) of Motion are true ... but only in the case of slow-moving objects (with'slow-moving' being in relationto the observer).
As concerns conspiracy 'theorists': they aren't theorists, they're hypothesizers. And given that their hypotheses can't be tested against reality, those hypotheses never make it to the status of theories. In short, there's no 'science' behind them, since the scientific method involves: observing things; forming hypotheses; testing those hypotheses; refining them and testing them further until they seem to reflect reality; present them for peer-review and critique; go back to Square One of needed, etc.), and conspiracy hypothesizers can't do that.
The above covers conspiracy hypothesizers (notice how they suddenly become less credible when one renames them?), but it also covers promoters of 'intelligent design' hypotheses (not theories) and other such ideas.
Now, in the past, I've read of everyone's favourite yo-yo televangelists in the US saying that some parts of science that they didn't like were just "theories", with it being implied that that meant that they're not "facts". This kind of stupidity can appeal to dingdongs with sloping foreheads who take that kind of thing at face value and don't investigate deeper. But I say that in full respect of the beliefs of DDers who are "people of faith" ... what I'm saying is that they're being being played for fools when they're talked to like that. Scientific theories on based on experiments designed to observed concrete facts which are then used to turn hypotheses into theories. US tele-fools who say that theories are "just" theories are playing with words and misconceptions to lead their listeners astray. Case in point: their hypotheses either can't be tested, or their getting tested will reveal no formal proof of their validity (e.g., was the Universe 'intelligently designed'? as it evolves, is its evolution still under divine guidance? how can one tell?) so they can't even be considered theories.
And so, conspiracy hypothesizers: they're not theorists because their hypotheses can never be proven right (or right enough to be of any use). Thus, there's no reason to believe that what they're hypothesizing is either fully or partly true. And that's a weak base for building one's opinions upon.