Why Not to Bring an Umbrella to a Concert

Apparently the Tragically Hip Were there Somewhere Too


Chez Lucian in Ottawa

No question about it. My favorite pub in Ottawa is Chez Lucian on Murray street just off the Market, far enough to keep the tourist trade down.

It has a really friendly, local atmosphere, a good beer selection and some great food.

A chatty local sitting at the bar suggested Shelley try the Pan Seared Scallops in a Lemon Champagne Cream sauce. Delicious!

I am told the Hambourgeoisie is very good, they even have Baby Beef Liver with Onions and bacon in red wine  demi glaze for those who eat organ meat and I can recommend the Moules et Frites (mussels and chips for the unilingual)

They have the best, free jukebox ever, not individual cuts but with complete albums containing artists like Dave Van Ronk, Big Bill Broonzy, early Bob Dylan, Steve Earl, and a great jazz section. You relax, have a cold beer and listen to your own great playlists.

I also love a bar with TV sets so you might be able to watch an important game but...that are usually turned off.

Parliament Hill Quiz

On a horse, of course
We were in Ottawa earlier this week and after breakfast we joined the hordes of tourists wandering around Parliament Hill. At some point we noticed that several of them had little blue quiz sheets to help them track down things of interest.

We heard several people say, "Now what about this one. Can you find Elizabeth II and what is she on?

I thought, at her age probably high blood pressure medication but my partner suggested it was probably hallucinogenics considering that "She actually thinks she is the Queen"

I think the correct answer was "A horse"


Good Payback

I know I am not the only one out there who that thinks that for the most part Twitter is pretty much a waste of time.

Oh, I know it provides up to the minute coverage of political events and we all long to be constantly in the loop of whatever Mike Duffy is up to but...who really cares about most of it. I remember trying to follow a CBC reporter's tweets during an election campaign most of which seemed to be mostly about her trying to connect with another journalist. "I am across the street beside the mailbox #Harpercampaign"

The CBC has become obsessed with Twitter. Sometimes you would think that in these tough economic times, if that is what they are, the CBC is relying on the public to tweet what is happening within our communities instead of getting out there on the street.

Nowhere has it become more apparent than in the CBC Radio Public Affairs programming and it is starting to drive me mad. Listeners are constantly asked to tweet about what is happening. After hearing "Bob tweeted that it is really snowing in Maple Creek" too many times, I just quit listening to ocal CBC programming.

At the Saskatchewan Book Awards Sheila Coles told us, "If it looks like I am just up here playing with my i-phone it isn't really what I am doing. I am actually tweeting about this event." As in any living person was actually out there reading her tweets.

It has become the ultimate sellout of CBC Radio to the Twitterverse.

That is why it shouldn't come as a surprise that Kirstine Stewart, one of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s senior executives, left the CBC recently to become the managing director of Twitter Canada where reportedly will she will focus on partnerships with media companies, other brands and advertisers.

Good payback.


She will be Missed

Gladys May Fraser was born on February 10, 1922, in Grand Mere, Quebec, She married Robert “Heap” Hunter, a soldier during the Second World War and in 1948, they bought a big old two-story house and moved across the St. Maurice River to St. Georges de Champlain.

In 1956 Gladys took a bold move for a woman of her time and moved her family from her hometown so that she could attend teachers college at MacDonald College on the west end of the Island of Montreal. They spent that year living in "the huts" on campus before taking up residence in Ste Anne de Bellevue.

Gladys loved kids and throughout her teaching career, focused on primary education. She taught at several West Island Schools including Christmas Park and Valois Park. She found her niche teaching kindergarten, which she did for many years, ending her career at Windermere School in Beaconsfield.

She was proud of her Scottish heritage, and her ancestors, Fraser Highlanders who fought at Louisburg and on the Plains of Abraham were given land grants and settled in Quebec.

Gladys' creative expression was achieved through her art. She took her first lessons in the mid 1950's from Canadian artist James Houston, who taught her how to paint with oils. She later switched to watercolours. Many of her friends and family proudly have her watercolours hanging predominantly on their walls.

She was also interested in outdoor activities, especially walking and cross-country skiing, and, even into her seventies, she set such a pace that her sons would have to struggle to keep up with her.

For several years, Gladys volunteered at the Morgan Arboretum on the West end of the Island of Montreal. She particularly loved hosting school groups when the sap was running, helping the kids sample their first taste of fresh maple syrup on the snow. She knew the Arboretum like the back of her hand and walked the pathways in summer and skied the trails in winter.

As an amateur naturalist, she was happiest at her small cabin on Lac des Monts, several kilometers into the woods from Nominingue. She called it Gal's Getaway, and it was her special spot, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

She swam every morning and even as she got older. Much to the concern of family, she insisted that she swim across the lake at least once each year.

There were probably no happier times than when she took her distinctive red canoe for an evening paddle, watching the trout jump for flies and she was always delighted to hear the slap of a beaver's tail warning the others of her presence. Days ended on the front porch with a glass or two of wine, listening for the loons.

An active member of the Union Church in Ste Anne de Bellevue, for years she baked the bread used on communion Sundays. As an activist she worked with others within the church to encourage it to become an affirming congregation. She was proud when on April 28, 2002, Union Church became the first Affirming Congregation in Quebec; this means the church openly welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons.

Before going into care, she was a familiar figure on the streets in Ste Anne de Bellevue. She was a regular at TWIGS, stopping in for a cappuccino, a muffin and a chat with old friends.

Gladys is predeceased by her parents, Gordon and Gladys Fraser, brothers Jim and John and sister Betty and daughter Jean. Her Husband Heap died in 1969.

She is survived by sons Gord and Sandy and their partners Shelley and Barbara, grandchildren Morgan, Christopher and Sue and great grandchildren Talya and Isabeau, as well as her sister Brenda.
Gladys passed away peacefully, in her sleep, early Tuesday morning, May 7th 2013 at Centre d'hébergement Louis-Riel in Montreal.

She will be missed.


A National Shame

Who voted for these guys. Dare you to raise your hand.


Stompin Tom

1936 - 2013

The girls were playing bingo
And the boys were getting stinko
 They'll think no more of Inco 
on a Sudbury Saturday night


3D Guns

It is hard not to be impressed with how far technology has moved in the last few years. I'm not talking about comparing the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5 or the fact that manufacturers will almost give away printers just for the ability to sell you the ink.

What is the most amazing is how quickly 3D printers have improved in the last few years. We are not very for from having the ability to print off broken machinery parts, instead of waiting for them to be shipped in from China or where ever else the manufacturer is located. Don't forget, the "just in time" model doesn't work very well when something breaks. Your local distributor most likely doesn't have the part in stock.

So in the not to distant future what you may be able to do, is to go on line, find the part you need from the manufacturer's catalogue and after paying the fee, download the file, then print it out on your 3D printer.

Just like this bike, only better.

What happens then when people want to get their hands on something that is restricted or perhaps against the law altogether. Just say for example that you want to get your hands on a assault rifle magazine the holds 30 or 40 rounds. Just in case you have a gopher problem.

No problem, just print one off.

It is all a bit pricy now but, what about five years from now? Those who support this sort of thing will make the files available on sites like Pirate Bay and first thing you know, any gun nut with access to a 3D printer will be printing these things out en mass. The file for high-capacity magazines has been downloaded more than 150,000 times since Obama’s gun control executive orders.

 A scary thought in any ones books.


Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Along with a lot of Canadians, I have been quite taken in by the discussion about Senator's expenses. A few of them seem to spend quite a bit of time on the road, In excess of $300,000 in travel costs is quite a bit particularly since I can fly from Regina to Montreal and back for about  $750 give or take a bit.

We have been told by some members of the Red Chamber that it is because of demand for their talents as public speakers etc. I never knew Canadians were so interested in what the senate or the Senator's do. I wonder.

If a Senator used to be, just lets say, a famous surfer.

When he travels to Biggar, Saskatchewan, Tofino, B.C. or to Come-by-Chance, Newfoundland to give a talk to the common folk,do you suppose it is so he can talk about the Senate and the workings of that esteemed institution or, surfing.

Does he earn a speakers fee?

Does the group that hired him have to compensate him for the cost of travel?

Canadians want to know the simple answer to these important questions because the Canadian taxpayer may just be being ripped off.

Dollars to donuts there is a bit of double dipping going on and as long as their is a brief mention of Canada's Action plan, Stephen Harper will defend them to the wall.


The New Conservative Dictionary


And, Here's to all the Little People
re-zə-dənt, ˈrez-dənt, ˈre-zə-ˌdent

a. someone who lives at a particular place for a prolonged period

     "The Queen is a resident of Buckingham Palace""

b. serving in a regular or full-time capacity

    "The resident engineer for the highway department"

c. a physician (especially an intern) who lives in a hospital and cares for hospitalized patients under the supervision of the medical staff of the hospital;

      "After examining the patient the resident chose to call in the Specialist""

d. An animal that does not migrate.

      "White tailed deer are a resident species in Saskatchewan"

e. A member of Canada's Senate who although, for all intents and purposes, lives in one province is recognized for the political convenience of the Prime Minister to be a resident of another province.

    "Mike Duffy is a resident of Prince Edward Island" or Pamela Wallin is a resident of Wadena Saskatchewan"


Red Chamber Rules

Its all just a game anyway, Isn't it?
When the call comes, I think I'd like to sit as a Senator from Quebec. After all, I probably spend as much time in Montreal as Mike "The Puffster" Duffy does in PEI or that Pamela Wallin does in Saskatchewan.

I was born in Quebec and we own a summer place in les Laurentides. Well it is more like a log cabin but, who is quibbling.

I've certainly never seen Wallin here on the Prairies. It was just another Stephen Harper, wink, wink nod, nod, here are your new senators. Everyone knew it was a joke when these two were appointed. No one raised a fuss. Who cared that they don't actually live here. Saskatchewan is one of those places that you have to leave to get any credibility anyway.

It has been reported that they both vote in Ontario, have Ontario health cards, their drivers licence are from Ontario and they pay taxes in Ontario although Duffy was apparently trying to get fast tracked to get a PEI health card when the new of an investigation leaked out.

The real question is why did it take so long for someone to have a look at what we all figured was a scam from day one.

I don't know, perhaps it is all OK  If it is, you can bet I will be lobbying for Patrick Braseau's spot when the finally turf him from the Red Chamber.

I know my French is barely passable but, Mike Duffy doesn't grow potatoes and he qualified.

Was Phyllis Perogie Behind All This?

Doesn't this erode Saskatchewan values?
It always bothers me when I have to read about how utterly stupid the Harper Saskatchewan team sounds when confronted with a problem, in newspapers from Eastern Canada rather that in our own Leader Post. Mind you, the Post Media products these days are mostly wire copy anyway, mixed up with a bit of Brad Wall boosterism and a few, what we, back in my television days, used to call , bobbing for apples stories, mindless drivel about one community event of another.

The Globe & Mail's Tabatha Southey tells us that when asked about the latest robocall scandal the Conservatives find themselves neck deep in, backbencher Brad Trost from Saskatoon said "I don't think there was anything wrong with the robocall. I think it was good and accurate information and we should stand behind it."

Then he stuck the other foot in saying..."I didn't hear it. I don't know the script. I don't know anything...One of my colleagues had it at her residence and her husband got it and he said it was fine. I'll take his word for it."

Now poor Brad was just trying, unsuccessfully to support the Prime minister who is quite confused about the matter. Harper claims "hundreds and hundreds" of people opposed proposed changes to the Saskatchewan electoral boundaries. In fact the Saskatchewan Boundaries Commission received a couple of hundred written submissions about the changes, many of which of which were negative. They also received about 3,000 emails, postcards and petitions they say were "Clearly ..inspired by the encouragement of members of Parliament opposed to the abolition of rural-urban hybrid districts."

Gerry, the Ritz Cracker also waded in to the debate claiming that "Three-quarters of the people of Saskatchewan are upset with the way the maps are drawn."

That would be about 750,000 people which seems very unlikely. My straw poll tells me that 100% of the people questions support the changes. Of course my estimate is probable about as accurate as Gerry's.

At least this time the Conservatives admitted they did it and didn't try to pin it all on Phyllis Perogie or some one like her.


Lukiwski Plays Pinocchio

My MP, Tom Lukiwski, who supposedly represents the residents of Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre doesn't like the new proposed changes to the Saskatchewan Electoral Boundaries. I understand why. The existing boundaries carve up Regina and Saskatoon into a bit of a pie adding to them, huge rural components. The rural voters have guaranteed that guys like Tom get elected.

Lukiwski and his Saskatchewan colleagues have been trying to say that unlike Canada's other 25  significant cities, Saskatchewan cities should not have urban ridings. They have mounted a bit of a campaign.

A few evenings ago we got an automated robocall call from a group that claimed to be Chase Research. It was a "push poll" of the worst kind.  My son took the call and then we called the number identified in the call to complain, we were so annoyed. Then when we discovered we could not find any Canadian firm called Chase Research on the Internet we started to get suspicious.

Our reaction was to say, "This has to be a Conservative poll."

Oh, no no says our friend Tom. Quoted in the Star Phoenix he said,    "Certainly, polling is not something I'm doing and ... I'm pretty sure I'd know if any one of my colleagues was doing something like that, and I haven't heard a thing."  Lukiwski just happens to be on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee that will consider the boundaries commission's final report.

So, late yesterday the truth, or something that resembles it, came out. This was a Conservative initiated push poll delivered to us by the firm RackNine Inc. That, for those of you with short memories, is the same firm that, on the behest of Stephen Harper's Conservatives, sent people they suspected would vote for the opposition, to the wrong polling stations during the last election. How could we forget Pierre Poutine?

I don't know about you but I don't think liars and cheats deserve to be Members of Parliament.



When Union Membership drops - So do Wages

Canadian Figures Would Tell the Same Story
I was thinking the other day about Organized Labour's inability to capture the hearts and minds of younger workers.

I don't understand the "I'm alright Jack" mentality when so many of them aren't. A very high percentage of young workers are either un or under-employed and frustrated. When they do have jobs they often are not working for much more than minimum wage.

It is so far from what they were promised.

It must be infuriating listening to the Brad Walls of the world blather on about our boom economy.

I came across a graphic the other day which might be food for thought when thinking about the role of trade unions in keeping wages high.


Kevin Page - Our Hero

Tough as Nails
Some of my friends say, Kevin Page, the outgoing Parliamentary Budget Officer is their hero. Others say he should be Prime Minister which might be pushing it a bit but...he is one of the good guys and that is for sure.

When his term is up later this year, Harper and his gang will take their time in filling the position. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see them do away with the position.

Government in Canada has become more secretive than any of us can remember, and I have been around longer than I'd like to think. Auditor General reports have always been entertaining but as the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Page brought it to a whole new level.

The Conservatives hated him. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty once described him as "unbelievable, unreliable and incredible" The truth hurt Jim.and chipped away at their bunker mentality.

On his way out, Page sent the CBC's As It Happens a list of key skills and characteristics needed when applying to be his replacement. To do the job, the next Parliamentary Budget Officer should have a knowledge of:
  • early childhood development
  • the art of magic
  • smoke and mirrors
  • numeracy
  • primary education level
The successful candidate should also have a good background such as:
  • decades of experience toiling away under senior public service and cabinet ministers in finance or treasury departments whose primary interest is to advance their personal careers at the expense of the democratic and financial health of the country
Page also suggested that anyone taking the job "should be ready for retirement because the successful candidate will be unemployable after one mandate."

* Thanks to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, used  without their permission 


Mali, The Unanswered Question is "Why"

What do you suppose Canada is doing in Mali?

When France decided to make its push into the area, Stephen Harper decided that Canada would help them out with one aircraft for one week. We all knew that one week was a phony timeline and of course the time is being extended.

The real question is...Did France really need one extra aircraft? And, if they did, why couldn't they get one from a neighbour?

There is more to this than meets the eye I am sure. Questions are not being asked by the media and Canadians, once again are being committed to join in a shooting war in an international hotspot without any Parliamentary consultation.

Not that we expected more from the PM.


Elizabeth May Right on Point

I generally like what Elizabeth May has to say on issues. This article is no exception.

The Attawapiskat audit: Distracting us from a legacy of failure

The tensions surrounding First Nations and the federal government are, perhaps, at an all-time high.
I had hoped the Prime Minister’s decision to meet with First Nations leadership this Friday was a hopeful sign of a new beginning in building nation to nation respectful relationships. Perhaps it could finally be the beginning of implementing the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Unfortunately, there is an ugly tone in the air as Conservative spokespeople, such as Senator Patrick Brazeau, line up in the media to take pot shots at Chief Theresa Spence. Although the Attawapiskat audit covers 2005-2011, Theresa Spence was only elected chief in 2010.
The release of the audit of Attawapiskat band finances is heralded by some as evidence of – what exactly? – that the housing crisis in First Nations communities is the fault of their leadership? The audit is not evidence of fraud, but shows an unacceptable level of expenditures for which proper documentation was not provided. It does not suggest the money was spent improperly. We simply do not know. Finger pointing and attacks will not help build a relationship based on respect for treaty and inherent indigenous rights.
So let’s just step back for a moment and admit what everyone knows. Millions of dollars in federal funding for indigenous peoples goes to non-indigenous consultants and lawyers and the bureaucracy supposedly at the service of First Nations communities. Many First Nations communities could benefit from better book keeping and financial controls, but so too could the federal government as the Auditor General has frequently reported. There is a reason that former Auditor General Sheila Fraser dedicated so much of her final report to the unacceptable multiple failures of the federal government in delivering on goals in meeting minimum obligations to First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. In 2005 and again in 2011, the Auditor General set out a litany of abuse. In a report prepared by Sheila Fraser and released by her successor, she noted, “I am profoundly disappointed to note … that despite federal action in response to our recommendations over the years, a disproportionate number of First Nations people still lack the most basic services that other Canadians take for granted.” She did not point fingers at the individual communities, but rather at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for relying on vague policy rather than the kind of clear legislation found at the provincial level to meet non-indigenous needs for health, housing, water and education.
So, just as the Idle No More movement was not an off-shoot of Chief Spence’s hunger strike, neither is the audit of Attawapiskat’s finances a relevant response to the litany of undeniable and shameful neglect of the treaty obligations of the nation of Canada to the people on whose land we live and whose resources make us wealthy.
Numerous Supreme Court decisions make it clear that the federal government, as well as private sector corporations with an eye of First Nations’ lands and resources, have a duty to consult. Yet, numerous legislative changes made by the Harper Conservatives over the last year had no advance consultation, despite significant impact on First Nations. Both Omnibus bills, C-38 and C-45, had significant impacts on First Nations, without consultation. The Canada-China Investment Treaty, signed by the Prime Minister in early September and not yet ratified, could also have huge impacts on First Nations, yet there was no consultation. From neglect, we seem to have moved seamlessly to an assault on First Nations, as though we could erase Constitutionally-enshrined rights should they stand in the way of mines, dams and pipelines. The issue of non-consultation should be addressed immediately.
The abandonment of the 2005 Kelowna Accord was the beginning of numerous blows, including cutting the following programmes aimed at redressing the scandalous disparity in health outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians: health awareness programmes curbing tobacco addiction, Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, the Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative, the Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, the Aboriginal Health Transition Fund, the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Program, the Maternal and Child Health Program, and the Blood Borne Diseases and Sexually Transmitted Infections/HIV/AIDS Program. As well, institutions to assist in understanding the disparities, such as the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) and First Nations Statistical Institute (FNSI), have been axed. As well, the high cost of food and fuel in the North is a serious problem and remains unaddressed.
Despite all the evidence, we owe it to the embryonic potential of Idle No More to hope that all leaders present will rise to a new level of decency and respect – towards each other and towards the peoples and lands they represent. As the first indigenous leader of Bolivia has done, could we not begin to discuss the constitutional protection of nature itself? Could we not start designing a path to replace the Indian Act, establish a set of meaningful goals to ensure that all children on this piece of Turtle Island, indigenous and non-indigenous, have equal access to proper education, safe drinking water, decent health care and safe housing? Could we not live up to our promises of treaties past and lay the groundwork to a future premised on the respectful sharing of this land? I believe we can. In fact, we must.
Elizabeth May is the Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada.


Hunger Strikes, Idle No More, First nations Leadership and Stephen Harper

Who hasn't been watching the growing Idle No More movement and the stand-off between Chief Spence, now in the twenty some day of her hunger strike and the bully who calls himself our Prime Minister.

There is some very interesting stuff unfolding there. It could be the beginning of significant change in the way First Nations deal with government and vice versa.

On the other hand, after almost letting this issue get away from him, our illustrious PM just may have found a way to get things back, right where he wants them.

The really interesting thing is the First Nations' complicity in helping that happen.

First let's take a look at Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and Saskatchewan's Emil Bell who joined her in a hunger strike to try and force Stephen Harper to take First nations' issues seriously. 

A year ago Canadians, joined by people around the world were shocked by conditions on Chief Spence's reserve. People were in danger of freezing to death in their inadequate housing, the school was a delapitated shack and the community was rife with addiction. The government's first step was to blame the community leadership but eventually they were embarrassed into taking action.

A year later, seeing little change in her community Chief Spence took the drasitc action of embarking on a hunger strike. Hunger strikes are a great was to get attention to your cause, particularly if they last a while. After all, no group likes a death watch like the National media.

The problem with them is, unless you are prepared to go all the way, they lose their impact.

The First Nations' leadership's response to the hunger strike was telling. If they really were the group of activists they claim to be, scores of first Nations' leaders would have joined Spence by taking actions of their own. In their own communities and across the country. As far as I could see, they did bugger all.

Chief Spence first demanded a talk with Stephen Harper and the Governor General, refusing to talk to the Aboriginal Affairs Minister. A good move in some ways since the PM is a micro-manager and talking to the minions is a waste of time. 

On the other hand Harper is as stubborn as they come.

Then Spence eventually softened her stand. She said it was ok if Harper at the very least set up a meaningful discussion. If I recall she wanted a couple of weeks of dialogue. We all knew that wasn't going to happen.

Meanwhile, the Idle No More movement has been growing and gaining momentum across Canada and internationally. Rail lines have been blocked, traffic slowed on highways and stopped on bridges and flash mobs have popped up in every major city in the country.

First Nations people and supporter were standing up in significant numbers demanding to be heard for the first time in years. A spontaneous non-hierarchical movement Idle No More was catching everyone's attention.

That was a problem for Harper and for the First Nation's Leadership. The chiefs, comfortable in their role around the big table began to see their authority being usurped by a rag tag group of grassroots protesters with a large and complex agenda and the PM who knew full well that it is much easier to bamboozle a group of leaders with low expectations, knew that finally something had to be done.

Harper agreed to a meeting.

The media characterize it as a win for Chief Spence. I don't agree. Harper won this round.

I simply cannot believe that anyone has any real expectations that any significant results will come from the Harper meeting. Knowing his past performance, the chiefs with be lucky to get two hours of face time with the PM.

Our Prime Minister is the king of empty promises.

No one should forget Stephen Harper's great "apology" to our First Nations for their treatment in the residential schools system. He said in part:

The government recognizes that the absence of an apology has been an impediment to healing and reconciliation. Therefore, on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I stand before you, in this Chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to Aboriginal peoples for Canada's role in the Indian Residential Schools system.

He went on to say:

A cornerstone of the Settlement Agreement is the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This Commission presents a unique opportunity to educate all Canadians on the Indian Residential Schools system. It will be a positive step in forging a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us.

The media fawned all over the PM for his courage. First Nations leaders praised his leadership and humanity.

The reality of his promise rings hollow a few years later as his government has refused to provide needed documentation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to complete their task.The group has recently had to go to court in an effort to get the Harper government to comply with their obligations.

From my perspective the "apology" was little more that a deflection from Harper's scrapping of the Kelowna Accord crafted by former PM Paul Martin.

The accord was a result of 18 months of round table discussions between the government and First Nations leaders. The chiefs saw the accord as a step major forward. It was the result of a process of cooperation and consultation that brought all parties to the table.

The proposed education investment was to ensure that the high school graduation rate of aboriginal Canadians matched the rest of the population. The money was also aimed at cutting in half the gap in rates of post-secondary graduations.

In the area of health, targets were established to reduce infant mortality, youth suicide, childhood obesity and diabetes by 20 per cent in five years, and 50 per cent in 10 years. They also promised to double the number of health professionals in 10 years.

The plan included

  • $1.8 billion for education, to create school systems, train more aboriginal teachers and identify children with special needs. 
  • $1.6 billion for housing, including $400 million to address the need for clean water in many remote communities. 
  • $1.3 billion for health services. 
  • $200 million for economic development.

Harper scrapped the deal. His Conservative government has not engaged in consultations with First Nations in any meaningful way since.

So what should we expect.

  • The chiefs and Harper will have a little face time. 
  • Chief Spence will go back to her impoverished community. 
  • Idle no More will peter out. 
  • Harper will continue to ignore his responsibilities to the First Nations. 

Back to the status quo. What more could Harper want.

I hope I am wrong


Any Other Government Would Have Sent Gerry Ritz Packing

Gerry the Ritz Cracker
I got an e-mail yesterday from the official opposition saying that that a leaked memo confirms that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ordered meat inspectors to not enforce health standards to the same standards for meat going to Canadian consumers as they would for meet was destined for export.

The memo says in part:

“Our number 1 priority is to ensure this standard is met with Japan-eligible carcasses. Ensure that non-Japan-eligible carcasses are not inspected for spinal cord/dura-mater, OCD (other carcass defects) and minor ingesta … Ignore them.”

This double-standard directive was issued in 2008, and then again in 2010 and 2011.

What it seems to say is that the Canada Food Inspection Agency, Gerry Ritz and the rest of the Harper Conservatives have been mismanaging food safety for years, endangering the safety of food that Canadians put on their dinner table every day.

Today the spin doctors at the Food Inspection Agency were hard at work trying to assure Canadians that despite other problems at XL Foods, they have always made sure that Canadian beef bound for domestic markets was fully inspected.

Our old friend Gerry Ritz also issues a release saying "The CIFA continues to ensure that meat processed in Canada meets our high food safety standards."

Sure Gerry Sure. We know we can depend on you.



How well do you sleep at night Tom?
My Member of Parliament Tom Lukiwski, has once again let his constituents down. Yesterday all except for seven members of the Harper Conservative Government,  Tom included, voted to defeat private member's bill C-398.

The only Saskatchewan MP who votes "yes" was Maurice Vellacott.

The bill, brought to the House by New Democrat Helene Laverdiere who said in part as she introduced her bill,  "Mr. Speaker, today, I am proud to introduce my bill entitled An Act to amend the Patent Act.

This bill will modify the provisions of the current access to medicines regime, which allows Canada to export generic versions of drugs for HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other illnesses to developing countries, and it will make the regime easier to use.

This will enable Canadian manufacturers to send potentially life-saving medicines to those who desperately need them.

This bill is an improved version of Bill C-393, which the House passed by a comfortable margin last March but which, unfortunately, died on the order paper in the Senate.

When drafting this bill, I worked closely with the Grandmothers Advocacy Network and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network"

The bill was championed by the Grandmothers Advocacy Network and thousands of Canadians signed petitions in support of this bill.

When the original bill passed the big drug manufacturers opposed it. This time around withdrew any opposition to the bill being passed.

In advance of the vote former Member of Parliament Gerald Caplin said “If you had the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of AIDS sufferers in Africa and other poor countries, what would you do? A complete no-brainer, right? Why in the world is it even a question?” 

Why indeed. 

Why did the Conservatives change their minds and defeat this bill?

Why did the Harper Government mount a campaign of misinformation in a push to assure the bill was defeated?

Why won't any predominant cabinet ministers comment on the decision to defeat the bill?

Disappointment in the Harper Government was expressed widely by those working on the front lines internationally was widespread.

UNICEF for example released a statement saying in part "We are highly disappointed with the result of tonight's vote. This Bill would have helped get life-saving medicine to the world's most vulnerable children without any additional costs to the government or Canadians. This is a missed opportunity and it is children who will suffer most," says UNICEF Canada's President and CEO David Morley.

Currently only 42 per cent of the estimated 1.5 million infants born worldwide to mothers with HIV receive the antiretroviral (ARV) treatments needed to prevent transmission of the disease.

If passed, Bill C-398 would have strengthened Canada's position as a true global leader on newborn, child and maternal health. The Bill proposed critical amendments to CAMR removing the unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that have made the process impossible to use.

How many children will die before a bill like this is finally passed?

Stephen Harper should be ashamed


Why Didn't They Bother to Report this in October?

I am sometimes amazed at the state of journalism in this country.

Yesterday we were treated to an "economic update" from the Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty  It was big news on the CBC yesterday and in this mornings papers. The deficit is up. The Globe & Mail shouts "Surprise $7- Billion Deficit Surge" on the top of the front page. The Regina Leader Post puts a bigger headline on the front page of the business section.

Holy smoke. it all seems to say. "Boy, were we taken by surprise."

Sure Jim, Sure
If you scroll down this blog, to a posting about a month ago, there it is. At that point it had surges to over $6-billion and climbing.

The spin now put on the story is that commodity prices are to blame. No mention of those corporate tax cuts.

The Globe & Mail quotes one unnamed bank economist as saying the government's financial credibility could now be in jeopardy.

Only now? These guys' credibility period, is  already shot.  Jim Flaherty is one of the old Mike Harris mafia and the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper already is the least trusted leader in the Western Hemisphere.

Flaherty says   "You can be assured, we have contingency plans."

Sure Jim, sure.


I Think They Have Lost Their Minds

Here in Saskatchewan it wasn't First Nations unemployment, the lack of adequate housing, sky rocketing rental costs, or the economic disparity many of us see in this new "boom economy" that was the hot button issue. The thing that captured the hearts and minds of delegates at the governing party's Convention was lowering the drinking age from 19 to 18.

I have to ask myself, what person, over the age of 19 or 20, think this is a good idea?

I figure two groups.

First the slightly older guys whose friends are not yet 19 think it would make it a lot easier to get them drunk if they could all go to the bar.

And secondly, bar owners who see lowering the drinking age to 18, as a cash grab. Great for business. Cooler sales shoot through the roof.

The Sask Party Government loves small business so will most likely back this initiative. We have heard the "What is good for business is good for Saskatchewan." mantra all too often

Tourism Saskatchewan will most likely jump on the bandwagon too selling this initiative as a way to increase tourism. Lets' attract under aged American drinkers to small Saskatchewan border town bars. Yet another  wayto stimulate the rural Saskatchewan economy.

Why Would we Believe Anything they Say?

The immigration minister Jason Kenney is hell bent for leather to deport a couple of Nigerian, University of Regina students. Victoria Ordu and Ihuoma Amadi made an honest mistake and worked for a couple of weeks at a Walmart store in violation of their student visas.

Many people are outraged by the actions of Canadian Immigration Services. Kenny and Cabinet puppet Vic Toews both have lied to the public about the matter saying the students were not actually enrolled in university. Something the U of R refutes. Both have been enrolled since 2009.

Both students, here on scholarships, have had to take refuge in a church to keep from being forcibly being put onto an airplane back to Africa.

Not surprisingly, there is no indication that any managers of the huge America company that hired them have had to take refuge in a church or anywhere else, to avoid deportation for hiring illegal aliens.

As often happens with Harper and his gang of thugs, we are getting mixed signals from this Government. At the same time he is trying to deport these young women the Minister is trying to amend legislation to make it easier for foreign students to stay here in Canada after they complete their studies. To be able to apply to immigrate from right here in Canada instead of having to first, return home.

Canada recruits foreign students. They pay a great deal more that Canadians students do for tuition. In many ways, a foreign student is basically, a cash cow for universities.

It is worth noting that many, many of these students the minister is trying to entice are here on scholarships paid by their home countries, often developing nations, that cannot afford to lose their best and brightest.

At the same time, Canada is continuing to under fund the education system in our own country. As an example, it is cheaper to steal doctors from developing nations than it is to provide more spaces for Canadian students in medical school.