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Kudos to Trudeau for welcoming refugees.. now let’s do (a lot) more.

Lots of attention was paid to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting out how refugees were welcome in Canada – many interpreted this to be a subtle jab at the odious Muslim / Refugees ban President Donald Trump imposed by Executive Order (except the Muslim countries he has business dealings with – but that’s another story).

Praise was justifiably swift for the most part both domestically and internationally.. but there are calls to do more. Some would call for the government to publicly condemn the Trump Administration for this policy – as other allies are doing. I get that we are trying to walk a tightrope on trade and so forth.. […]

Somewhere, Stephen Harper is smiling at this.

Statistics Canada released a survey today on the reasons given by those Canadians as to why they did not vote in the May 2 federal election:

..The most common response for not having voted was that they were “not interested in voting” (28%), which also includes feeling their vote would not have made a difference in the election results. An additional 23% indicated they were “too busy”, which includes having family obligations or having a schedule conflict at work or school.

With regards to the 23% who were “too busy” to vote, they either didn’t see the notices from Elections Canada on where one could do advance voting, or else […]

Very pleased to see Ignatieff's stance on coalitions clarified.

..and that he’s more or less taking the stance I’ve been advocating that he and the Liberal leadership should be taking:

Michael Ignatieff says coalition governments are “perfectly legitimate” and he’d be prepared to lead one if that’s the hand Canadian voters deal him in the next election. But the Liberal leader says it would be disrespectful to voters and damaging to his party to try to strike any deals with the NDP before voters have spoken…”Co-operation between parties to produce political and electoral stability is not illegitimate. It’s never been illegitimate, it’s part of our system,” he said, noting that coalitions have been formed in parliamentary democracies around the […]

Expert on laws of war says that war crimes may have been committed by Canadian officials

Note that this rather blunt opinion of Canada or Canadian officials possibly being in breach of international law comes from a 3rd party, not an opposition political party. Here’s an excerpt of an article posted at Macleans by Professor Michael Byers, “who holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, and has He has taught the laws of war at UBC, Duke University, Oxford University, the University of Cape Town and the University of Tel Aviv”:

‘Elements of a war crime seem to be present’ According to UBC’s laws of war expert, Canadian officials may be in breach of the Geneva […]

On electoral reform and Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV)

David Graham had a detailed article written in the Guelph Mercury that he highlighted at his blog yesterday about how he was in favour of reforming the voting system we have by changing it from what we currently have (First Past The Post) to Instant Run-Off Voting.

David and I have disagreed many times – sometimes vehemently – over what type of electoral voting system reforms Canada should have. We were on opposite sides of the MMP referendum last year in Ontario. That said, I follow the view of the website Liberals For Electoral Reform, who yesterday affirmed that while the site does support the Single-Transferable Vote Option that […]

I guess traders weren’t listening to Flaherty today.

Or maybe they were… as the TSX plunged 456 points (4.5%) today after a bit of a recovery yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Dow fell through the 9000 level – down 678 points (7.3%) today, the first time since 2003

But again, this, according to Stephen Harper, represents another great buying opportunity on the stock markets due to all this unnecessary panic. Why should anyone worry?

Iggy: “If Harper succeeds you will wake up in a country you no longer recognize”

Warren K. made reference to a speech that Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff made at the Economic Club of Canada this morning that he praises and wishes the Liberals would have made a lot earlier. I don’t think it’s too late yet however to start drilling this message into people’s heads. (It’s not just making charges of a “hidden agenda” either. I think we’ve seen enough of Harper to know what he’d do if given a majority government).

Parts of the speech I liked: Iggy shows that Harper and the Conservative Party are NOT the best party to be the economic stewards for Canada, by listing what has happened to Canada since Harper and the Cons took over:

· The worst performance in the G8.
· Negative growth in GDP through the first half of this year.
· Government accounts on the brink of deficit.
· No contingency left in the budget. No margin for error.
· The worst productivity picture in 18 years — productivity growth has been negative this year.
· Stephen Harper is the first Prime Minister in 50 years to preside over an actual decline in Canadian productivity.

Check out the very excellent speech in the PDF file below.

Iggy speech to Economic Club of Canada.

Report: US wishes to have sole command of NATO in Afghanistan?

This story caught my attention. A report in the England-based newspaper The Independent from yesterday claims that the US is seeking sole control of the NATO Afghanistan mission against the Taliban:

The Bush administration is pushing for sweeping changes to the military command structure in Afghanistan, so that the head of international forces would report directly to US Central Command instead of Nato…The Independent has learnt that the proposal to streamline the complex chain of command, enabling US General David McKiernan to be answerable to superiors at Centcom in Tampa, Florida, rather than Nato, is before Robert Gates, the American Defence Secretary…Any move to make the Afghan war an American-run […]

Conservatives to kill meat inspection in western provinces?

Well, this listeriosis/meat inspection story seems to be taking on a life of its own. First the Minister Ritz controversy from last evening, and now we get this press release discussing the elimination of meat inspection programs in Manitoba:

If elected, a federal Conservative government plans to stop delivering provincial meat inspection programs in Manitoba leaving local consumers exposed to the risk of unsafe meat. The plan is revealed in a secret Treasury Board of Canada decision record, dated May 6, 2008, documenting the acceptance of a proposal concerning “Provincial Meat Slaughter Establishments (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia)” which calls for the “elimination of federal delivery of provincial meat inspection programs.” “Meat produced in provincially registered facilities in Manitoba would not be inspected by anyone under this plan,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – Public Service Alliance of Canada

I’ll have to read the document a bit further to see if they also propose cuts to the BC and Saskatchewan plants. It also mentions in this press release that the union has launched a website called www.foodsafetyfirst.ca. When you’re at that site, go to the “secret documents” page and there you’ll find a link to the PDF of the cabinet document (which I will provide an easy link to here), which is talking about the elimination of the meat inspection programs.

The news release goes on:

The government of Stephen Harper has steadily cut funding for food safety programs and shifted responsibility for safety assurance to the food companies themselves. According to current Treasury Board of Canada forecasts, funding for food safety programs will have declined by almost 30% from $359 million in 2006/07 to $254 million in 2010/11 under Mr. Harper’s watch. Meanwhile, the government plans to expand industry self-policing of safety. The same Treasury Board record also reveals plans to: “shift from full-time Canadian Food Inspection Agency meat inspection presence to an oversight role, allowing industry to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks.”

Some of this we knew before, but I hadn’t realized the amount of cuts Harper had done for funding to food safety programs, so I thought it was worth repeating. As the release says, with the listeriosis tragedy the past few weeks, the government should be increasing food inspection, not cutting it, and that should also be the same for federal funding of the food inspection programs.

We are seeing the same pattern here with funding cuts and going away from testing as the Mike Harris Ontario government did with Walkerton. You know what happened there.. and the nation is seeing what is happening now with Listeriosis nation-wide. This is Conservative ideology playing with people’s lives, folks, and it needs to be stopped and reversed.

UPDATE: The Cabinet document does seem to state that the federal meat inspection programs in Saskatchewan and BC would also be eliminated in addition to Manitoba’s. The Food Safety First site summarizes it here.

UPDATE 2 @ 2:43 pm: Steve is right. This is more then just some offensive remarks by the Agricultural Minister, although those are important in the context of whether or not Ritz should be still a minister. But this information is important in asking Canadians what kind of governance they want, and whether or not they believe a reduction of food inspections and allowing companies to inspect themselves is the way they want to go, or not.

UPDATE 3 @ 2:48 pm: Great comment from Skinny Dipper here in this comments section: “Let’s transfer this great idea for Toronto restaurants. Instead of having municipal health inspectors checking on restaurants and giving them green signs for clean and safe restaurants, the restaurant industry can police itself. Green signs for everyone!”.

Yea.. I’m sure that would go over and work out real well.. so why do the Cons think this would be any better federally? Are they so ideologically against “government interference” and so pro “free enterprise” that they’re willing to sacrifice rigorous oversight on public safety, and instead ask the public to trust the food companies in a laissez-faire free-for-all when it comes to food safety?

UPDATE 4: I said last night in my original Ritz article that I’d give credit to a Blogging Tory if he condemned Ritz for his tasteless joke, and we have one:Atheist Conservative, who also calls for Ritz’s resignation. Very impressive.

“Canada is quietly becoming a basket case”

Sober reading from Slate Magazine:

Since 2004, a succession of unstable minority governments has led to a constant campaign frenzy, brutalizing Canada’s once-broad political consensus and producing a series of policies at odds with the country’s socially liberal, fiscally conservative identity. Canada is quietly becoming a political basket case, and this latest election may make things even worse..

A not so subtle reference to the Conservatives in that last line. What exactly is making Canada a basket case? Well.. our former fiscal prudence is going by the wayside thanks to the Cons:

In June, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that Canada—for years the only G8 country to post regular budget surpluses—was likely to fall into deficit this year, thanks to a reckless cut to the national sales tax.

The Conservatives attempt at being Big Brother is also being noticed, as is their subtle attempt to re-open the abortion debate with Epp’s private members bill C-484:

In February, the government proposed denying funding to films and TV shows whose content it deemed “not in the public interest,” sparking cries of censorship from a sector that has historically received public support. In 2007, a member of the governing Conservative Party proposed a bill that would reopen the debate over abortion, a topic that governments both liberal and conservative have avoided for decades.

And Harper’s insistence on being a northern clone of George W. Bush is also noted:

The country is projecting its uncharacteristic behavior abroad as well. After decades of encouraging countries to increase their foreign-aid spending, Canada cut its own, from 0.34 percent of GDP in 2005 to just 0.2 percent last year. Long a beacon of human rights, Ottawa announced last fall that it would stop advocating on behalf of Canadians sentenced to death in other countries. And Canada is now the only Western country that still has one of its citizens held in Guantanamo, but Ottawa has refused to press for his release.

Oh yes, Canada’s “back” to being noticed, Harper.. for the wrong reasons. There is an encouraging poll out today though. A lot of Canadians can’t stomach the thought of Harper winning a majority:

The poll showed that more than half of Canadians — 54 per cent — reject the idea of a Conservative majority government, while 35-per-cent support it. Also, 38 per cent of Canadians reported they would be prepared to vote strategically, by switching their vote to another party, to prevent the prospect.

I’d prefer him removed from government all together, but this is a good start.

H/T Impolitical.

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