Sunday, April 20, 2014

There seems to be confusion over the constitutionality on senate reforms. Stephen Harper originally proposed an 8 year term limit, but that would let any PM have total control over 8 years. Now we hear rumors about a 10 or 12 year limit.

There is controversy over the election of senators and some of them have publicly and privately suggested they’ve changed their minds and no longer support Harper’s plan to establish provincial senate elections. This was denied by Conservative Senator Linda Frum on Wednesday.

People often complain the Senate is illegitimate and not democratic but the Senate wasn’t set up to be elected.

It was set up to be a deliberative body and not an elected body and it’s been that way for 147 years and for the most part, it seems it has worked pretty well.

Harper’s government is expected to re-introduce two bills, one setting out an election process for the provinces to establish Senate elections and another limiting a senator’s term from a possible 45 years to eight, 10 or 12 years.

The Conservatives likely will introduce the bills next month.

Currently, senators are appointed until age 75, but must be at least 30 to sit in the upper chamber.

I mean come on ! The Lower House needs the Senate, or at least some kind of entity to overlook laws to-be-passed. The Senate is like an elite-Agora, but they still added an amendment to fixed election dates listing conditions under which a date could be modified, in order to avoid clashes with religious holidays, municipal elections and referendums. Sounds kinda smart.

Most judges are appointed and nobody says they lack legitimacy, said a Conservative Senator.

“We need to have a good healthy debate on this,” he said.

However, several provinces, including Quebec and Nova Scotia, maintain it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to proceed on its own with any changes to the upper house. They argue that the Senate can only be reformed through a constitutional amendment, approved by at least seven provinces representing 50 per cent of the population.

Quebec is threatening to go to the Supreme Court, if necessary, to block Harper’s proposed reforms. Intergovernmental affairs minister, Pierre Moreau, argued this week that the Senate is part of the bargain struck at Confederation in 1867, designed to give equal representation to the regions as a counterbalance to representation by population in the elected House of Commons.

It seems Senate Reform will be harder to achieve. Maybe we should consider status-quo, with a 50% salary reduction ?

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Should Stephen Harper consult the Supreme Court ?

Quebec threatens court challenge to Senate changes

The revised 2011 budget that the government will present next month will not show a surplus by 2014-15 as promised in black and white in the Conservative campaign platform, even though the government insists it still intends to deliver on the election promise.

Some of the Canadian government’s budget optimism comes from a plan to examine public sector spending and trim away the fat. Flaherty said that the government plans to undertake a “strategic and operating review” that is expected to save $4 billion annually, without any serious cutbacks.

Even if, in the end, they do balance the books a year early, by not adhering to their campaign promise, the Tories are ignoring one of the cardinal rules in politics: do what you say you’ll do.

Earlier Wednesday, Flaherty had told the Council of the Americas in Washington that his budget would be re-introduced in Parliament and that the country’s books could be back in the black within three to four years.

Still, Flaherty said that taxes would not go up this year, despite the aggressive push to eliminate the deficit.

“We have no intention of raising taxes. Our intention is to continue to lower the tax burden on Canadians and stimulate the private sector, which after all, is the engine of the economy”.

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Budget Lie

Promise not kept, but still

More than 150,000 public servants working in Ottawa awoke May 3rd to a new Conservative majority government, and new anxieties about what that will mean for their jobs. The prospect of layoffs in the federal bureaucracy is a hot topic in Ottawa.

As Conservatives prepare to recall Parliament, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is setting the stage for a clampdown on federal government spending under the newly elected government, that would include cutting the public service by 80,000 — or one-third.

The people who suffer in this scenario are those most dependent on government services such as immigrants, the unemployed, pensioners and military veterans.

The Tory budget that was tabled in March called for a review of spending at all government departments and $11 billion in cuts over the next four years. The budget was never passed.

However, now that the Conservatives have a majority government, the Tories have the ability to push that same budget through.

William Robson, president of the think-tank C.D. Howe Institute, says the government could make some progress on the deficit in the short-term if the economic continues to recover. Robson predicted the Conservative’s corporate tax cuts would lead to an expansion of the business sector.

Even before the latest round of corporate tax cuts, Canada’s oil, gas and natural resource exports nearly had doubled in value in recent years, and now more than 25 per cent of Canada’s economy is directly or indirectly tied to the mining and oil and gas industries, even more so in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, where oil and gas account for nearly 40 per cent of provincial GDP.

John Gordon, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says he’s concerned by the government’s talk to cut down the public sector.

“Stephen Harper has always talked about smaller government,” Mr. Gordon said. “If people leave through attrition, that means less people to do the work. And if there’s less people to do the work, then something has to give.”

So Public Services are going to be cut while private corporations are getting billions of dollars in tax benefits ? This means less government services in our lives and more money for the rich and powerful. Truly not what the average Canadian wants.

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Public Servants Fear Tory Majority

Harper’s Budget Promise To Cut Down Public Service

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tough talk on defending Canada’s Arctic are not substantive, according to US cables leaked Friday.

Harper’s government has routinely touted Canadian sovereignty over the vast, desolate north as a “very high priority” and has publicly called for increased militarization of the Arctic to protect Canada’s disputed claims in the region.

The prime minister himself has announced plans for a sensor net, more navy patrols and airport improvements, and a military training camp in the far north.

The country also has stepped up its military alertness along its northern frontier, according to Defense Minister Peter MacKay, largely in response to Russian “testing” its boundaries with military flights skirting the border, a practice not seen since the Cold War.

However, cables released by website WikiLeaks indicate that US diplomats in Ottawa viewed Harper’s aggressive statements as mere posturing and a partisan strategy to win voter support.

The cable said the Harper government has done little on its Arctic promises but has made domestic political gains regardless.

“Conservatives make concern for ‘The North’ part of their political brand . . . and it works,” says the note, entitled “Canada’s Conservative Government and its Arctic Focus.”

The United States thinks Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tough talk on Canadian Arctic sovereignty is little more than chest-thumping meant to attract votes.

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Harper’s Arctic Pledge

Harper Lied About The Arctic

The crime package is back, combined in a complex, 53-page document containing hundreds of amendments to the Criminal Code that are designed to shift some of the focus from rehabilitation to retribution.

The government will introduce its promised omnibus crime bill, which will require a warehouse cart to move around since it will amalgamate no fewer than 18 separate bills that died on the House order paper with the dissolution of the last Parliament.

The bill which the Harper government is trying to implement is neither novel nor unique. In fact critics of the bill argue that this kind of legislation has been implemented elsewhere and failed.

Bill S-10

With Bill S-10 the Conservatives want to impose a minimum sentence of six months up to two years on certain crimes which currently have no minimum sentence when certain ‘aggravating’ factors apply.

The bill is being met with a lot of opposition, and for good reason. That’s because minimum sentencing bills such as these don’t work or make much sense. They don’t make legal sense because they don’t act as the deterrents that they’re suppose to be, and they don’t make fiscal sense because they end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars with no visible benefit to show for it.

Bill C-51

Bill C-51 – Clause 5  provides that the offences of public incitement of hatred and wilful promotion of hatred may be committed by any means of communication and include making hate material available, by creating a hyperlink that directs web surfers to a website where hate material is posted, for example.”
For simply posting a link to a website that has material someone else deems hateful, you could go to jail for two years and be branded a criminal.

This is another attack on the tax paying middle class, who have to pay for all of this while at the same time losing public services.

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Harper’s Conservative Policies

Bill C-51

Opposition parties may soon lose millions thanks to Stephen Harper.

Stephen Harper will phase out the per-vote subsidies on which federal parties have relied since the end of the Jean Chrétien era. The Conservatives, who have built a tremendously successful fundraising machine, will be just fine; the other parties will be in deep trouble.

Federal Conservatives have raised more money since 2004 than their three federal political rivals combined.

Political parties need money to compete – not just during election campaigns, but between them. And if they were just relying on the money they raise from individuals, without the $2 they get per vote, the opposition parties wouldn’t be competing at all.

In the final quarter of 2010, the Conservatives raised $5.23-million from individual donors – well more than the Liberals ($2.19-million), New Democrats ($1.66-million) and Bloc Québécois ($348,000) combined.

Here’s what parties would have netted each year on the subsidy (based on the election vote totals):

CPC: 10.2 million
NDP: 7.9 million
LPC: 4.9 million
Bloc: 1.6 million
Green: 1.0 million

I don’t see why we’re going to do away with this,” Chretien said in Quebec City.

“And who will this benefit? It will benefit those who have the most money. Suppose the poor wanted to have a political party, they wouldn’t have the means to do it.”

Chretien’s government introduced the subsidies in the wake of corruption scandals, with an aim to reducing graft and donor influence.

He said slashing the allowance could give Canada a system that resembles the one in the United States, where parties must raise billions to fund a campaign.

I think being politically different than the United States is good since it gives more options to choose from in North America. At worse, the per vote subsidy is not bad – not good. Heck it just cost 27 million. If Harper and his intelligent team can cut the budget by 11 billion, I’m sure they can find more democratic ways to cut election spending.

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Parties Will Suffer

Can The Subsidy Backfire ?

 

Stephen Harper Watch aims to monitor Parliament Hill and to denounce Harper’s anti-democratic policies.

 

Promise # 1 Cut The 1.90$ Per Vote Subsidy
Promise # 2 Cut Public Services by eliminating 80 000 jobs
Promise # 3 Cut Taxes For The Rich Gas Companies Who Make Record Profits
Promise # 4 Open The Door To Privatizing Health Care

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Election Promises 2011

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Can Stephen Harper Keep His Promise On Senate Reforms ?

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Stephen Harper’s Senate Appointees May 2011

Harper has constitutional responsibility to fill any vacant seats in the Senate, but his choices are very questionable. The 3…

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