Monday, November 26, 2012
Mark Carney? Good luck with that!
Prior to becoming Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney worked for a brief time in the Department of Finance, where he was responsible for the "Income Trust File". Income trusts were a form of income producing investments popular with Canadians seeking retirement income. Think of income trusts as profit sharing investments. Income trusts, were however, not popular with the CEOs of corporations, since income trusts gave more corporate governance power to investors and less to the CEOs (as it should be). Guess who Mark Carney sided with on this debate? Correct, as a newly minted ex-Goldman Sachs investment banker in the Department of Finance, he sided with the CEOs.
And how did Mark Carney succeed in killing income trusts on behalf of his corporate masters? He concocted a completely false (hence, fraudulent)argument that income trusts cause a loss of tax revenue to the government, when the complete opposite was actually the case, since income trusts enhance government tax collection revenues. Armed with this completely false argument, Mark Carney backed legislation that killed income trusts by imposing a new (second) tax on income trusts at the abusive rate of 31.5% (for a combined tax in excess of 65%), which served to destroy $35 billion (yes, billion) of Canadians hard earned retirement savings.
Good luck to all Britons with your new selection of Head of the Bank of England. Don't say you weren't warned.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:58 AM
Friday, November 23, 2012
Canada's debt expected to hit $600-billion this weekend
In 2008, the Harper government ended the trend of chipping away at our debt, and over the past four years, has put Canada an additional $142.4-billion in the red.
"This is more than the entire combined budgets for unemployment insurance, maternity and parental benefits, child tax credit and the universal child tax benefit combined," said the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Gregory Thomas.
He explained that the interest alone could fund significant social programs, while $600-billion could pay for the annual NHL budget for 187 years - even extending Sidney Crosby's contract for close to 70,000 years.
In addition, he said the government has yet to fulfill the promise of trimming the financial fat, and since the recession hit, the government has erased a decades worth of progress at reducing the red ink.
"How many programs has this government cut since taking office seven years ago? Katimavik - one useless program," he said. "Canada's national debt is now rising at a rate of $863.26 a second, $74.6-million a day."
Thomas is calling on the federal government to stop the deficit spending, balance the budgets and begin paying down the debt like they initially promised. If not, he said we are simply throwing our money down the drain and the situation will continue to decline over the next five years.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 7:20 PM
We're so sorry if we caused you any pain.
We're so sorry, uncle Albert,
But there's no one left at home
And i believe i'm gonna rain.
We're so sorry, uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day.
We're so sorry, uncle Albert,
But the kettle's on the boil
And we're so eas'ly called away.
(Lyrics by Paul McCartney)
Trudeau 'sorry' for Alberta comments he says were aimed at Harper
Posted: Nov 23, 2012 1:02 PM ET
Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau says he is sorry for comments he made in an interview two years ago that have Conservatives accusing him of an anti-Alberta bias.
Trudeau was forced to address the comments he made to the Tele-Quebec television program Les Francs-tireurs (The Straight Shooters) in 2010 after a Sun Media report republished them Thursday.
In the interview, Trudeau said Canada wasn't doing well because "it's Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda."
The published comments have touched off a firestorm of reaction from Conservative MPs on Parliament Hill. Trudeau's leadership campaign issued a statement Thursday saying the Conservatives were taking the comments out of context.
On Friday, Trudeau offered an apology, but continued to argue his comments were being misinterpreted and that they were directed at the government of Stephen Harper and not Albertans in general.
"I'm sorry I said what I did. I was wrong to relate the area of the country that Mr. Harper is from with the people who live there and the policies that he has that don't represent the values of most Canadians," Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver.
"It was wrong to use a shorthand to say Alberta, when I was really talking about Mr. Harper's government, and I'm sorry I did that."
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters outside a hotel in Vancouver Friday, where he offered an apology for comments he made about Alberta politicians in 2010. (Richard Lam/Canadian Press)Trudeau was also asked Friday whether he thought Canada was better off with a prime minister from Quebec, as he suggested in the 2010 interview.
"I think Canada is better off with a prime minister who chooses to bring people together and not play up insecurities and divisions and regional resentments any chance they can get, and unfortunately that's what we tend to be getting from both Mr. Harper and now Mr. Mulcair, who has now put a big X over Alberta with his 'disease' comments," Trudeau said, referring to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's controversial comments in the summer about Alberta's oilsands industry creating "Dutch disease" in the Canadian economy.
The federal Conservatives have seized on his comments to attack Trudeau, particularly in Calgary, where a byelection scheduled for next week has become more competitive than expected.
Trudeau said the Conservatives were "panicking" at the thought of losing the Calgary Centre byelection and are attacking him in response.
In the House of Commons Friday, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose called on Trudeau to resign his role as critic for amateur sport.
Trudeau's fellow Liberal MP, David McGuinty, resigned his energy critic post Wednesday after his comments about Alberta Conservatives were published by Sun Media.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 4:02 PM
Thursday, November 22, 2012
In that case, Enbridge's argument has backfired, since rather than building more contentious pipelines, we should take seriously the option of transporting Canada's energy resources using existing rail infrastructure as argued in this Huffington Post article from yesterday.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 1:35 PM
That said, how about this for a principle to apply to the Chinese state takeover of Nexen?
Who on the UN Security Council in July of this year supported the on-going slaughter of innocent civilians by Syria's Assad regime? Answer China and Russia.
Case closed. No Nexen for you.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 10:20 AM
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Statement by Liberal MP David McGuinty
OTTAWA– Liberal MP David McGuinty made the following statement today:
"As Member of Parliament for Ottawa South I would like to unreservedly and unequivocally apologize for comments which I made with respect to Parliamentary colleagues from the province of Alberta. My words in no way reflect the views of my party or leader, and I offer my apology to them as well as my colleagues from Alberta.
I hold all Parliamentarians in high esteem, and I regret my choice of words, as I can understand the offence they have caused.
I have offered my resignation as energy and natural resources critic to my leader, and he has accepted. I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents in the House of Commons."
Office of the Liberal Leader
Posted by Brent Fullard at 5:48 PM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Surely Justin, there are ways to "strengthen economic ties" with China, shy of takeovers like Nexen?
As a contender for the leader of the Liberal Party and a possible future Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau would be far better off enunciating the position that Canada needs a clear set of rules that govern foreign takeovers of Canadian businesses (like the need for reciprocity, etc. as recommended by thoughtful people like Diane Francis), rather than entering the fray with one-off support for the takeover of the day.
Instead Justin ends up looking like a pawn for those with commercial interests in the Nexen deal, rather than someone capable of leading the country for the benefit or more than just the one percenters
Justin Trudeau backs Chinese takeover of Nexen as way to strengthen economic ties
Trudeau made the comments in an opinion column published in some Postmedia newspapers and websites Tuesday, arguing that China’s objectives are not “sinister” and that Canada is in an enviable position for engaging the Asian power.
“China has a game plan,” the Liberal leadership contender wrote. “There is nothing inherently sinister about that. They have needs and the world has resources to meet those needs.
“We Canadians have more of those resources — and therefore more leverage — than any nation on Earth.”
The Chinese National Offshore Oil Company’s $15.1-billion takeover bid for Nexen has become a sensitive issue for Stephen Harper’s government, which is expected to rule in the coming weeks on whether it will accept the deal.
There has been concern — including from some Conservative backbenchers — that permitting CNOOC to take over Nexen represents a threat to Canada’s national security.
Others, however, have warned that rejecting the takeover will anger Chinese officials and scare off other potential foreign investors.
In his opinion article, Trudeau said Canada should use its natural resources to build a foundation for broad, long-term economic engagement with the Asian power — and approving the Nexen deal would go a long way to accomplishing that goal.
“Why is the CNOOC-Nexen deal good for Canada?” Trudeau wrote. “Because Chinese and other foreign investors will create middle-class Canadian jobs …. More fundamentally, it is in Canada’s interest to broaden and deepen our relationship with the world’s second-largest economy.”
Trudeau, who will be in Calgary Tuesday, said conditions should be attached to foreign investors that require them to abide by Canadian laws and operate in good faith. And he acknowledged that there will be national security concerns in certain sectors.
“However, in the CNOOC case, Chinese ownership of three per cent of oilsands leases hardly constitutes a national security issue,” he wrote.
“Most important, the big picture isn’t about CNOOC or Petronas, but the many opportunities like them that will follow in their footsteps.”
Malaysian state-owned energy company Petronas is awaiting word from the Harper government on its plan to take over Calgary-based natural gas producer Progress Energy after its initial proposal was rejected last month.
Trudeau took a shot at the Harper government for what he called its “erratic approach and secretive behaviour” when it comes to reviewing foreign takeovers, and its failure to lay out a clear, public strategy for engaging Asia.
“The government has failed to provide the context, to make the positive case for Asia,” he wrote. “It is therefore as difficult to reject bad ideas like the Northern Gateway as it is to approve good opportunities like the CNOOC and Petronas deals.”
Trudeau has opposed the proposed Northern Gateway, citing environmental concerns.
The overarching requirement is to translate China’s interest in Canadian natural resources into long-term economic prosperity for this country, he said, especially as the Asian nation’s population grows and its infrastructure needs increase.
“We should be creative when thinking about what a trade deal with China could look like,” Trudeau wrote.
While heavy on emphasizing the need for economic engagement with China, his article makes only a passing mention of the country’s democratic and human rights record, referring to the need to engage with the Chinese instead of isolating them.
It also does not mention what the government should do when national security is a factor in a proposed foreign takeover, although an official within Trudeau’s camp indicated the Liberal leadership candidate is not in favour of different rules for privately owned and state-owned foreign companies.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 8:13 AM
Friday, November 16, 2012
Elections Canada email trail points to growing suspicions over voter suppression “mischief” during 2011 election
The emails, released under the Access to Information Act, show that voters in ridings across Canada believed they had been misled by Conservative callers.
They also cast doubt on the theory, advanced by some Conservatives, that reports of so-called “poll-moving calls” were invented by voters who flooded Elections Canada with nearly 1400 complaints after news of the robocalls scandal first broke in February.
The message from Elections Canada staff trace a timeline that began with the first reports of the calls on April 29, three days before the vote, when the agency began to field inquiries from concerned voters.
At 8:16 p.m., Sylvie Jacmain, the director of field programs and services, sent an email to agency lawyer Ageliki Apostolakos, reporting problems in the ridings of Saint Boniface, Manitoba, and Kitchener-Conestoga, Ontario.
“In the course of the last half hour, it has come to my attention (in two ridings) that is seems representatives of Mr. Harper’s campaign communicated with voters to inform them that their polling station had changed, and the directions offered to one would lead her more than an hour and a half from her real voting place, which is found a few minutes from her home,” she wrote in French.
Half an hour later, procedures officer Sylvain Lortie wrote to Jacmain to say that the Conservative campaign in Saint Boniface “has communicated with (party) headquarters, who were doing the calls.”
Apostolakos quickly followed up with an email to the Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton.
“In the course of the last half hour, Elections Canada has heard that two representatives of the Conservative campaign office are communicating with electors in two electoral districts to inform them that their polling station has changed to another location,” Apostolakos wrote.
Hamilton responded just after midnight the following night — 27 hours later, according to time stamps on the emails — writing that because some polling locations had been changed, some Conservative candidates were contacting voters to ensure they were going to the right places.
“The calls being made by our candidates request the voter to confirm her or his polling location,” Hamilton wrote, saying he had looked into Elections Canada’s concerns.
“There is no indication by the caller that the location may have changed or words to that effect. And no voter is being directed to a polling location one and a half hours away from the correct polling location.”
By Sunday afternoon, Elections Canada had received reports of the calls from 13 different ridings. Legal counsel Karen McNeil sent another email to Hamilton:
McNeil told Hamilton the poll-moving calls had been reported by voters in the ridings of Avalon (Newfoundland and Labrador); West Nova (Nova Scotia); Ajax-Pickering, Halton, Kingston and the Islands, Kitchener-Conestoga and Vaughan (Ontario); Kildonan-St. Paul, Saint Boniface and Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba); and Cardigan (Prince Edward Island).
There were also later reports of poll-moving calls in two Quebec ridings: Outremont and Lac-Saint-Louis and Prince George-Peace River in British Columbia.
Hamilton replied at 10:45 a.m. the following morning — election day — saying only that he would forward the same response he had sent Apostolakos.
As Hamilton sent the email, hundreds of voters in Guelph were heading to vote at the Quebec Street Mall, victims of an as-yet-unsolved mystery call from “Pierre Poutine.”
In spite of the two emails to Hamilton, the calls continued.
Email traffic shows the officials were becoming increasingly suspicious about the nature of the calls.
On Sunday afternoon, Elections Canada lawyer Michèle René de Cotret wrote to Jane Dunlop, manager of external relations, giving her a heads up on “some mischief purportedly done by representatives of the Conservative party calling people to tell them that the location of their polling site has been moved.”
The same day, elections officer Anita Hawdur wrote to Apostolakos: “The polling station numbers given out by the Conservative Party...are all wrong. Most of them are quite far away from the elector’s home and from the initial polling place that showed on their VIC (voter information card.)”
Later that afternoon, Hawdur sent Apostolakos a message warning that, in one riding, officials received four calls from voters saying they had been misdirected. “This is getting pretty suspicious,” she wrote. “The workers in the returning office think these people are running a scam.”
Hawdur reported at 3:32 p.m. Sunday that “we are starting to get more calls now.”
At 5:10 p.m., Natalie Babin Dufresne emailed a number of officials lining up advertising to warn voters in Prince George-Peace River, where no polling stations had been changed, as a result of “alleged Conservative and Elections Canada calls.”
The next morning, election day, the number of calls seemed to intensify.
At 11:27 a.m, as the agency struggled with chaos at a polling station in Guelph, Hawdur sent an email to a number of colleagues: “It’s right across the country except Saskatchewan; a lot of the calls are from electoral districts in Ontario. it appears it’s getting worse. Some returning officers reported that the calls are allegedly identifying Elections Canada.”
Asked about the allegations in the emails, Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey denied the party tried to mislead anyone.
“In the days leading up to and including Election Day we were only calling our identified supporters to get out our vote, and in every call we identified ourselves as calling on behalf of the Conservative Party, so any accusation that we were misleading voters doesn’t hold up to those simple facts.”
DeLorey said Elections Canada changed over 1,000 polls locations around the country.
When Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand appeared before a parliamentary committee in March, he said only 473 polls of more than 20,000 locations were changed, and only 61 moved in the last week, when it would have been too late to send out revised voter cards.
In his report on the election tabled in August 2011, Mayrand made brief mention of the “crank calls” that incorrectly advised voters of changed polling locations but there was no indication that these were a widespread or coordinated effort. Mayrand said only the Commissioner of Canada Elections was investigating.
Hamilton’s emailed response to Elections Canada is consistent with evidence in a robocalls-related court challenge given by Andrew Langhorne, an executive with the Conservative’s main phone bank company, Responsive Marketing Group.
Langhorne swore an affidavit earlier this year saying that RMG agents called identified Conservatives to ensure they had the right polling location printed on their voter identifications cards.
“If the address provided by the voter for their polling station did not match the address in front of the RMG agent, the RMG agent was directed to provide the voter with the polling station address displayed from the (get-out-the-vote) data,” Langhorne said.
But Langhorne allowed that voters and callers may have different addresses because of errors in the database the callers used, or errors in the voters list provided by Elections Canada.
In its post-election report, Elections Canada said that it had “indicated to political parties that the list (of polling stations) supplied should only be used for internal purposes and that parties should not direct electors to polling sites.”
Posted by Brent Fullard at 9:57 PM
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Canadians are most likely to say they have a lot of trust in the country’s Armed Forces (53%) and RCMP (36%), and to a lesser extent the Supreme Court (34%) and justice system (26%) (with no more than one in six having little or no trust in any of these). These ratings of the RCMP, Supreme Court and justice system are among the most positive in the hemisphere.
In contrast, no more than one in six place a lot of trust in the country’s Parliament (17%) or Prime Minister (16%), and even fewer give a strong vote of confidence to political parties (10%) or the mass media (6%). For the latter two institutions, Canadians’ trust levels are among the lowest in the hemisphere, although higher than those given by Americans.
Opinions in Canada are unchanged since 2010, but trust in Parliament has declined noticeably since 2006. Public skepticism is fuelled in part by a growing belief that those governing the country are not interested in what citizens like themselves think.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 7:33 PM