02/03/2012

How Deep is the Love?

Rob Anders Nods off in House of Commons
The Conservatives love a good war. They were deeply pissed off when Canada gave a pass on the invasion of Iraq and when they were in power, the soldiers became poster boys for the re-election of Harper’s Government.

They have a decidedly different view of the military when they lose their usefulness. One legged poster boys don’t have the same appeal.

Veterans have become used to receiving the brush off from this government.

Military bureaucracy can’t hold a candle to the quagmire veterans have to wade through at Veterans Affairs. That is nothing new but one might think that the party that has been working hand over fist to put the military first and foremost in people’s minds, might pay a bit more attention to those who have done their bit.

Retired army personnel fighting to get some adequate compensation after being exposed to Agent Orange have been banging their heads against a brick wall for years.

It got so bad at one point that The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association issued a statement saying they are astounded by the "hurdles, the runarounds and the hardships” Canada’s veterans face when they try to collect federal military service and disability benefits.

We remember Pat Stogran the veteran's ombudsman was drummed out of his position by the Harper bullies for having the gall to actually do his job. To speak up, forcefully on behalf of veterans and to voice some of the concerns raised to him by those he considered his constituents and he brought to light the shoddy treatment many of them felt they were getting under the leadership Conservative government.

Then it was revealed that Veterans Affairs Department improperly accessed and shared his medical files and other information after he brought forward his concerns and was speaking out on behalf of veterans.

The shoddy treatment continues.

Several newspapers reported this week Calgary Conservative MP Rob Anders is accused of falling asleep at a Commons Veterans Affairs Committee during a presentation about efforts to help homeless former soldiers.

Anders came late to the Halifax meeting then, according to Jim Lowther, president of Veterans Emergency Transition Services, Anders slept through the group's presentation at the committee on Tuesday. Liberal MP Sean Casey, who is on the committee, said Anders has fallen asleep before at its meetings. "This happens fairly regularly at veterans committee, so it wasn't out of the ordinary," he said. "This isn't the first time."

The presentation was about the transition services group seeking charitable status, but not wanting any federal funding.

Not unexpectedly, Anders claims he was awake for the entire meeting and he accused Jim Lowther, president of Veterans Emergency Transition Services of being under the control of NDP MP Peter Stoffer, who is the party's veterans affairs critic.

In an almost incomprehensible statement Anders said, "If you praise Vladimir Putin with the way he deals with veterans and you're on NDP press releases and you praise Peter Stoffer and you're in favour of the unionization of the RCMP and you try to crash the prime minister's rallies and you criticize Rob Anders for visiting a mess hall, go figure, Connect the dots."

"When you guys go quoting somebody I think it would be nice if you do a little background on this guy to figure out he's a hack," Anders added.

But Anders appears to be confusing David MacLeod, in part at least, for Lowther. MacLeod said he made the actual presentation, while Lowther, who had pneumonia, sat beside him.

MacLeod said he mentioned in his presentation that the Russians had provided housing for their former soldiers and had set up a hospital to treat Afghan war veterans with post traumatic stress disorders, something he thought was a good idea.

"I support Vladimir Putin?" said MacLeod, when told of Anders' remarks. "I was in the Canadian Forces for 27 years. I'm former military intelligence, for God's sake.

You have to ask the Conservatives, How deep is the love, when it comes to veterans of the Military.

Not very deep

UPDATE:  Rob Anders was punted from this committee by Harper. Not soon enough.

01/03/2012

Great Video Ad for the Guardian

The UK's Guardian Newspaper released a great two minute video ad yesterday showing how they might cover the story of the Three Little Pigs.

video

Was I too Hasty?

In addressing the Robocall, election fraud scandal Prime Minister Stephen Harper says "The Conservative  Party can say absolutely, definitively it has no role in any of this."

The real question is can we trust anything Harper says? You have to admit. that is a pretty strong statement from the leader of the Party that only four months ago pleaded guilty, in court to violations of the Elections Act. And, I am reminded that the guilty plea came after four years of denials that there was wrongdoing on their part.

So, if the Conservatives didn't do it who did? The suggestion from the Tories is that if anything actually happened, if this is anything more than a political stunt by the NDP and the Liberals it was the work of over eager election workers acting independently.

I wonder?

  • To start with, setting up Robo calls, particularly on the scale which is alleged in the current scandal, is not cheap. It is well beyond the capability of a few rogue Conservative pranksters. 
  • To make it work you need to have a voters list broken down to indicate party preference,  
  • access to a call centre and;
  • lots of expertise 

Who would have the access, the money and the expertise?

Did someone steal the election?
The Globe & Mail reports today that, expanded under Stephen Harper's leadership, the Constituency Information System (CIMS) the massive Conservative database could be, some would say very likely was, the tool which helped all this come together.

The Green Party suggests that during the 2009 election someone in the Saanish-Gulf Islands riding launched, what now looks like a pilot project for what happened in 2011. The same Robocall setup there in 2009  is alledged to have stolen the election from the Liberal candidate and handed it to Conservative Gary Lund.

It is not quite a smoking gun but...

Elections Canada claims to be looking into all this but is being very tight-lipped about what it is up to and how wide its probe is. It is reported that today it is off to Thunder Bay. That is where a call centre worker reported that she and her colleagues were scripted to misdirect voters to factitious polling stations. The worker is reported to have reported the situation to both the RCMP and Elections Canada at the time but both apparently ignored her complaint.

It has also been reported that Elections Canada met with parliamentarians in committee, to ask for increased funding so they could properly deal with this scandal but the request was denier by the Conservative dominated committee.

I am sure many will believe the Prime Minister when he says his hands are clean. I, for one, am not so ready to suspend my disbelief.

If you are late to this story, the Ottawa Citizen has done a good job of putting all these stories in one place which makes it easier to follow.

28/02/2012

Trust in Government

Ask yourself. What do these two Guys Have in Common?
It gives us all a warm comfortable feeling when we can trust the government in power. A kind of secure feeling in the face of a world that too often seems like to be caught in a massive downward spiral.

I confess however, that it is becoming tougher and tougher to find that warm feeling these days. We are tested daily by more and more unlikely explanations from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet colleagues that truly test our ability to suspend our disbelief.

The list is so long it boggles our imagination,
  •  the trough Tony Clement rolled for his constituents during the G8, 
  • the untendered fighter jet contracts for aircraft that have become white elephants even before the first one comes off the production line,
  • The in-out scandal
  •  people concerned about our environment being compared to terrorists, 
  • Citizens concerns about privacy being called supporters of child molesters,  
  • A polling firm tied to the Cons called constituents in Liberal Irwin Cotler's Montreal riding their MP was about to or had resigned and that a by-election was imminent.
  •  the supports of the gun registry being compared to Hitler. You know the list. I could go on and on. 
I never recall a government so arrogant.

Even hard line Conservatives are jumping ship.

It is reported in the Toronto Star that it has become so bad that a former Conservative member who was a director of Conservative electoral district association boards in the Ontario communities of Guelph and Kitchener-Center says he regrets every working for Harper’s Party.

Victor Pocaterra of, Kitchener says “They have gone against Canadian values and have made a joke out of our democracy.” He goes on to say “Canada is a great nation, built by a people who value hard work, taking responsibility for one’s actions and above all honesty. The government that sits in Ottawa values only power and cannibalizes its own in order to save face.

As someone who has seen what is talked about in the party, I can only say God help Canada in the next four years. Because it won’t be the country that veterans, like my grandfather fought so hard to protect.”


The last few days have revealed election fraud which Canada's former chief electoral officer says is unprecedented in the country's electoral history.

Elections Canada has traced fraudulent phone calls made during the federal election to an Edmonton company that worked for the Conservatives and for Harper.

During Question Period Monday, the Prime Minister claimed that he had no knowledge of any wrong-doing in the robocalls scandal, and challenged the opposition parties to prove his Conservatives were guilty. I wonder.

If he had his hands on all this, I am sure he would made sure there was a distance between him and who ever initiated the misleading calls in 40 closely contested ridings during the election. Like Tony Soprano, he wouldn't have to be specific. They boys knew what to do.

It is quite a stretch to imagine these that a control freak like Harper would not be aware of this stuff going on.  A massive campaign like this one is not the work of a couple of young over eager rogue part time workers. It smells like something much bigger. It is just how things look. If I am out on a limb here I apologize but let's wait to see what the RCMP have to say.

This contempt for the democratic process and for the people of Canada is too much for me to swallow and should be too much for most Canadians.

Let’s hope it it finally the beginning of the end.

26/02/2012

Vote of Non Confidance

Quick! Before it's too late.
I am not going to make a list of reasons because anyone with half a brain and access to the internet or a newspaper already knows the list is as long as your arm but...Does anyone else think it is time for a citizen's Vote of Non Confidence in the Harper Government?