Sunday 30 November 2008

A trip down memory lane

When Stephen Harper was leader of the Opposition in 2004 he co-signed a letter to then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson asking her to consider a coalition government if the minority Liberal government faltered and failed to get support of the other parties in Parliament.

The following is quote from a September 9, 2004 joint letter - posted on web-site:

"As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program. We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority. Your attention to this matter is appreciated."
-From a letter to then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson signed by all three opposition leaders: Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper (September 9, 2004)
Harper also did a wide ranging interview (at the time) with CBC's Evan Solomon wherein he said:

"Harper: Well there are lots of things that could bring the government down, but my opposition can not bring the government down. The government can only be brought down because it alienates several parties in the House. And the first obligation in this Parliament, if the government wants to govern, it has to come to Parliament and it has to show that it can get the support of the majority of members, through the Throne Speech, through legislation, and through budget and supply, and the government to this point has made no effort to do that, but that's its first obligation."
Does he operate by a different set of rules when he's P.M. rather than when he's the Leader of the Opposition?

Canadians deserve better!

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson captures the real Stephen Harper in his Saturday, November 29, 2008 column entitled: "Economist with a tin heart, politician with a tin ear" (click to view original web article).

The article is reproduced below in it's entirety:

"Economist with a tin heart, politician with a tin ear


From Saturday's Globe and Mail

November 28, 2008 at 9:23 PM EST

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election to secure a majority, and failed to get one.

This week, he created a completely unnecessary crisis that now threatens his government's very survival. And they call Mr. Harper a great strategist and superior tactician?

Thursday's economic statement was an economic lame duck and a political boner. It revealed, among other things, the kind of Conservative Party that all but its core supporters suspected would eventually be outed: a group of ideologues, led by a Prime Minister who discarded his campaign sweater to reveal an economist with a tin heart and a politician who looks everywhere for political advantage.

Instead of trying to grow Conservative support, he appealed only to his party's core. Instead of acting in a statesmanlike fashion at a time of crisis, he opted to play politics, proposing to cancel public subsidies for parties, a move that would disproportionately benefit his.

Instead of reaching out, as leader of a minority government and as president-elect Barack Obama is doing by talking to moderate Republicans, he smacked his opponents in the chops. Instead of heeding the advice of economists everywhere that the economy needs stimulus, he got his Minister of Finance to present a budget that offered cutbacks and tiny surpluses that absolutely no one believes will be realized.

There is a plausible case for caution, to wait a bit until economic issues clarify themselves and until the new American administration settles definitively on its approach. The government therefore, quite credibly, could have gone to Parliament, said it could not offer precise numbers because of unprecedented volatility, said there would be a deficit but a modest one limited in time, promised a budget in January, got a few infrastructure programs speeded up, and asked for suggestions. After all, this was a government that had admitted the economy would be in a "technical recession."

That would have been prudent, statesmanlike and economically credible. There would have been no political crisis; the country would have accepted that the government had heard its concerns and worries; and a serious plan could have been developed.

Instead, the government unsheathed its ideological swords, attacked political opponents, public-sector unions, disregarded overwhelming economic advice in the country (including from deficit hawks, premiers, and conservative-minded economists) and dared the opposition parties to turn the other cheek - a move, to the government's apparent surprise, the other parties were not prepared to do.

The economic statement was wrongly conceived on every front.

It misdiagnosed what the economy needs, and offered a completely bogus explanation.

Said the government: We have already injected $31-billion of stimulus in the economy through tax cuts since 2006. As if tax cuts in 2006 were designed for stimulus in 2009. No one believes that.

That would be like President George W. Bush saying his tax cuts of years ago were designed to help the current recession. Conservatives cut taxes mostly when the economy was robust (and therefore at the wrong time and in the wrong way, but that's another matter). The point now is that the stimulus hasn't been enough.

The government also gratuitously set off a political firestorm that will damage the Conservative Party.

Taxpayer subsidies for political parties exist everywhere around the world, even in the United States, where Mr. Obama refused them because he was raising so much private money. The subsidies exist, there as here, as a quid pro quo for eliminating corporate and union contributions. As such, they help parties finance themselves, do their work, and therefore contribute to democracy.

But since the Conservatives have mastered soliciting contributions from individuals better than their opponents, they now propose to eliminate the public subsidy that amounts to a tiny sum relative to total government spending. Nothing the Conservatives have done has been so malevolently partisan as this.

Finally, the government created a potential constitutional situation in which it could be defeated and replaced, quite properly under constitutional convention, by a Liberal-NDP coalition.

Late yesterday, Mr. Harper refused to modify his economic statement, put off confidence votes for a week to buy himself some time, and in effect dared the Governor-General, should it come to this, not to exercise her proper constitutional authority to ask another party to try to form a government without bringing on an election.

He argued that if his government were to be defeated, there would have to be an election, which is not consistent with constitutional convention. He was really threatening a possible constitutional crisis that, again, would be of his own making and that he would hope to turn to his partisan advantage.

The miscalculations have been stunning. Mr. Harper's strategy has accomplished already the near-impossible: to bring the Liberals and NDP together.

He had so many other, less partisan options at a time of economic crisis and grave national concern. That he acted in this fashion, at this time, was enormously revealing. And very sad."

Friday 28 November 2008

Opposition parties to topple Bush's buddy Steve

AP Photo

The mainstream media is buzzing in anticipation that the Canadian opposition parties will form a coalition next week to topple George W. Bush's best buddy - Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

It appears that the Harper government is steadfast in it's determination to bankrupt the opposition by removing their public funding under the phoney excuse of the economic downtown. An economic downturn brought on by the policies of the likes of Bush and Harper: deregulation, privatization, corporate greed, and war-mongering.

It's reported that Federal Finance minister, Jim Flaherty is saying the government will not back down from it's plans to financially hobble the opposition, nor are they prepared to back-off of their proposed 50 Billion dollar tax reduction gift to the same corporations who are the architects of the economic mess the world is in today.

I figure that Harper and crowd are so freaked out by the mess their policies have created that they don't want to be the government that is charged with responsibility of cleaning it up. After all, it's going to take economic stimulus and deficit financing to get the economy out of our corporate greed created financial collapse.

Harper et al, would rather be sitting in the opposition benches sniping and taking shots then rolling up their sleeves and fixing the mess.

Stay tuned it's going to be an interesting week.

Coverage of the issue:

CBC - Chr├ętien, Broadbent brokering possible coalition: reports

Global TV - Another election? (video)

Google News - Canadian government will fall

Tuesday 25 November 2008

The struggle for decent work

Reproduced below is the lead article from the most recent issue of the SFL Labour Reporter (Dec 2008). You can download a copy of the complete Labour Reporter issue (in PDF format) by clicking here....

"Before we send our young people into the work force, we should feel confident they will be guaranteed basic worker protections."

"The struggle for decent work

I bet you didn’t know Oct. 7 was proclaimed World Day for Decent Work by the International Trade Union Confederation, which has 311 national affiliates and represents 168 million workers in 155 countries.

So what is decent work? The International Labour Organization defines it as productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

Decent work:

- Provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families;

- Offers better prospects for personal development and encourages social integration;

- Gives people the freedom to express their concerns, to organize and to participate in decisions that affect their lives; and

- Guarantees equal opportunities and equal treatment for all.

What is Saskatchewan doing to promote and to ensure its citizens have decent work? With legislation like Bills 5 and 6, which make it more difficult to organize and to bargain as unions, we are definitely moving in the opposite direction.

The Sask. Party government wants to lower the minimum working age for children working in hotels, educational institutions, hospitals and nursing homes from 16 to 15. Children as young as 14 will be able to work with parental consent in those sectors.

Any union activist from the service or healthcare sectors will tell you these are some of the most dangerous places to work, as demonstrated by the high number of injury claims the Workers’ Compensation Board receives every year from workers in these industries.

Ask any young person about the service industry and whether or not basic labour standards, like minimum call-out pay, are met. The restaurant industry has a reputation for ripping off its young workers.

Of course young people want the opportunity to gain skills and experience in the workplace and to earn some money. They deserve that opportunity. But before we send younger and younger people into that workforce, shouldn’t we feel confident that they will be guaranteed basic worker protections? And that they will be free to join a union in order to organize for those protections?

As a labour movement, we struggle to ensure decent work for everyone. Our government should be doing the same."

See original article here....

Battle in Seattle - The Movie

Check out the web site at:

Monday 24 November 2008

More Anti-Union Spin

For one of the best analyses and commentary you'll ever see, check out a recent blog posting over on the Owls and Roosters Blog entitled: Saskatoon StarPhoenix resorts to historical revisionism in latest attack on labour groups.

As has become his trademark, blog owner - Joe Kuchta, does his usual thorough job of uncovering the facts, unravelling the spin, and exposing the truth.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Countdown: Wal-Mart, The Republican Brand

This is a bit dated, but it's as relevant as ever. Could just as easily be entitled: Wal-Mart, The Sask. Party Brand.

What to do with the North American auto industry? - The Real News

Jim Stanford and Justin Fox debate the pros and cons of allowing the auto industry to go bankrupt.

Murdering Trade Union Leaders? No Problem for Harper's Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, meets with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at a bilateral meeting in Lima, Peru on Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Despite evidence of the world's worst record of labour rights abuses and the murdering of Trade Union leaders - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed a free trade agreement with Columbian President Alvaro Uribe on Friday, November 21, 2008. This is to say nothing of the fact that Columbia (according to the CIA) is the world's largest supplier of cocaine. (How does that square with Harper's so-called "law and order government" and his government's continuous desire to shut down such services as Vancouver's Safe Injection Program - InSite.)

This from a Prime Minister who will punish Canadian provincial governments so severely if they disagree with him that he has Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall running scared.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Great Ads from American Rights at Work

Here are a couple of great ads from American Rights at Work

Check out the website at:

Occupation 101 - Voices of the Silenced Majority

Occupation 101

Must Watch Video


This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

1 hour 27 minutes 59 seconds

"A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other film ever produced on the conflict -- 'Occupation 101' presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

The film also details life under Israeli military rule, the role of the United States in the conflict, and the major obstacles that stand in the way of a lasting and viable peace. The roots of the conflict are explained through first-hand on-the-ground experiences from leading Middle East scholars, peace activists, journalists, religious leaders and humanitarian workers whose voices have too often been suppressed in American media outlets.

The film covers a wide range of topics -- which include -- the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880's, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the first Intifada of 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Settlement expansion, the role of the United States Government, the second Intifada of 2000, the separation barrier and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as many heart wrenching testimonials from victims of this tragedy."

View full video at Google video here....

Monday 17 November 2008

Just What We Need - More Child Labour

Luis Castaneda holds a picture of his brother Nery Castaneda, who died at the age of 17 while working an unsafe job. Many employers are ignoring child labor laws which result in injuries and deaths. (Photo: Robert Lahser / The Charlotte Observer)

So, apparently Saskatchewan needs more child labour.

How long before we start seeing headlines like this:

Hard labor at a tender age - Raid at poultry plant reveals problem beyond illegal immigration. Workers as young as 15 were found on the line or

Child labor going largely unchecked or

Federal, state lawmakers vow to get tougher on child labor.

Not long, we already have employers in this province exploiting and ripping off young workers - and that's before the Sask. Party makes it easier yet.

Check it out: Exploitation of young workers in Saskatchewan.

or this: Regina Restaurant Rips Off Workers.

Saturday 15 November 2008

A New Vision for Workers in the USA

Hey Brad - Pay Attention!

Join the SEIU Employee Free Choice Campaign by clicking here....

The New Trough - Naomi Klein - RollingStone

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

There's a great article over on the RollingStone Magazine website written by Naomi Klein entitled: The New Trough.

In classic Klein style - it exposes corporate America and Wall Street for what they truly are: Greedy Corporate Pigs at the Public Trough.

"The Wall Street bailout looks a lot like Iraq — a "free-fraud zone" where private contractors cash in on the mess they helped create"
Read the full article by clicking here....

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Terrorizing Dissent

This does not require any comment by me whatsoever. Watch this first video and you'll be compelled to watch the rest of them. This was recorded during the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota in September. Absolutely astonishing.

Check out all 4 video segments by clicking here:

Read more at the Terrorizing Dissent web site by clicking here....

Saturday 8 November 2008

Gordon Campbell, Last Champion of Financial Deregulation: Dobbin

There's a great column written by Murray Dobbin over on entitled: Gordon Campbell, Last Champion of Financial Deregulation.

The column discusses the B.C. Premier's insatiable lust to deregulate everything in sight. Particularly considering the recent collapse of Wall Street - brought on by corporate encouraged and government led deregulation of the financial sector.

But is he (Campbell) the only Premier in Canada who blindly and aggressively follows the pro-business, anti-citizen, deregulation ideology?

Given the track record, to date, of Sask. Party Premier Brad Wall - I'm not so sure. Wall recently created the so-called 'Regulatory Modernization Council'. (see Government News Release: Private Sector Input to Shape Regulatory Reform).
Translated means: Which is an exclusively business driven (and now taxpayer funded) lobby group whose real mandate is to recommend, support and justify a massive deregulation of everything in the province. See the Owls and Roosters Blog posting: Regulatory Modernization Council: Wall government turns policy making over to business lobby group Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Barack Obama on Labour and Unions

U.S. President Elect: Barack Obama!

Daycare workers can unionize

There was recently a great decision issued in the Quebec courts about workers and their rights.

It is yet another tremendous victory for Canadian workers asserting that their Constitutional rights have been violated by an action of the government. This time, the actions of the 'right-wing' government of Quebec's Jean Charest, who brought in a law that said at-home day-care workers in Quebec were prohibited from unionizing.

Charest's law has been struck down. (Are you paying attention Saskatchewan?)

The Quebec Superior Court has ruled the legislation violates the Charter Rights of Quebec workers.

See this article in the Montreal Gazette....

The Meltdown, Seen from Below - The Tyee

"What union leaders, labour experts and anti-poverty activists say needs to be done.

As the global financial meltdown spreads to
threaten General Motors and even the Euro, financial experts in well-tailored suits vie in the news media to frame how we arrived here and what should be done.

Their debate tends to be about just how many billion of dollars need to be delivered to banks and other financial institutions to keep the good ship globalization afloat. From quarters such as the conservative Fraser Institute, we hear that government is to blame for intruding into the market, and so less regulation is the cure.

Here at The Tyee, we noticed that most of the commentary on our Titanic dilemma seems to be coming from the passengers in first class and the government navigators who helped create the crisis. We were curious about how it looks to the crew and the passengers in third class, so we made some calls to union leaders, anti-poverty activists, and various economists and historians who make it their business to study big business without being part of the action."
Read more....

Monday 3 November 2008

Sunday 2 November 2008

A Night for Rights with Irshad Manji

CUPE Saskatchewan Division is sponsoring an evening event this coming week entitled: A Night for Rights.

"On November 6, 2008, CUPE Saskatchewan will host a Night for Rights with acclaimed speaker, broadcaster, author and filmmaker: Irshad Manji.

The Night for Rights celebrates the approaching 60th anniversary of the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights: a document which set a standard of treatment for all people."
Read more....

Saturday 1 November 2008

Hate Radio - Right-Wing Newstalk contributing to hatred

Check out this Bill Moyers Journal Special:

"What happens when Americas airwaves fill with hate? Bill Moyers Journal takes a tough look at the hostile industry of Shock Jock media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on our nations political discourse. The Journal traveled to Knoxville, where a recent shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has left the pastor asking what role hateful speech from popular right-wing media personalities may have played in the tragedy. A lot of people are hurling insults from the safety of television studios, the safety of radio studio, the safety of cyberspace says Rev. Chris Buice, So that's a void in our community - the chance to be in the same room and to have these exchanges and remember the humanity of the person on the other side. Aired Friday, September 12, at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). For more:"