Canada in 2013

Written by  //  January 4, 2013  //  Canada  //  1 Comment

Canada map

Stephen Harper’s 13 Fails of 2013

From hide-and-seek omni-bills to abandoning veterans, a very unlucky 13 for Canada.


“1984 in 2013: The Assault on Reason” – Allan Gregg
Well-known pollster Allan Gregg stands up as a defender of facts, data and reason as a basis for good public policy. (27 April 2013)
L. Ian MacDonald: Behind the throne in Langevin Block
Complaints about power being centralized in the Prime Minister’s Office have been going around Ottawa since the time of Pierre Trudeau. In that regard, Stephen Harper’s PMO is no different, though it is more controlling than most if not all of its predecessors.
How Canada is leveraging its PPP expertise worldwide
Early experience with public-private partnerships have enabled this nation’s deal makers and builders to exploit the global trend
(Business Without Borders) Canadian public-private partnerships have come a long way since 1992, when the federal government inked a deal with Strait Crossing Incorporated to design, build and, for 35 years, maintain and operate a bridge between Prince Edward Island and the mainland. Opened in 1997, the $840 million Confederation Bridge was a turning point for public-private partnerships (PPPs or P3s) in this country. (30 April 2012)

Murray Bernard Frum, 1931–2013Canada is the poorer with his passing. A touching eulogy from his son David


MP’s Song Slams Harper Tories As ‘Thatcher’s Ugly Children’
(HuffPost) Charlie Angus has the reactionary blues.
The musician and NDP member of Parliament has released a new song with his band, Grievous Angels, shining a light on what he sees as the “low lights” of the year in politics.
A YouTube video of the tune features cheeky footage of Prime Minister Stephen Harper rocking out on the keyboard, as well as images of his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, and banished ex-Tory Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.
Even Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes an appearance.
Earlier this month, Angus released “Four Horses,” a heart-rending song that tells the story of John A. MacDonald’s policy to starve First Nations people in order to clear the way for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s.
26 December
Ice storm effects linger as tens of thousands still in dark
(CBC) Weekend ice storm still creating havoc in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, northeastern U.S.
Eastern Townships still in the dark after ice storm
(CBC) Thousands of Hydro-Québec customers in southern Quebec on day five of no electricity
23 December
Worst ice storm in Toronto memory moving through eastern Canada
At the height of the Christmas travel and shopping weekend, one of the worst ice storms in Canada’s largest city struck.
Ice heavy branches also fell on cars and houses causing extensive damage © CBC
Over 250,000 people are still without power in and around the city, with at least 100,000 thousand more from Niagara south of Toronto , to Kingston to the east are also affected in this major southern Ontario storm.
Some 45,000 were reported without power in Quebec as the storm of freezing drizzle and snow moved slowly eastward where it’s currently affecting the maritime provinces.
17 December
Cutting Canada Post: It’s About More Than Mail
(Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) The recently-announced changes to Canada Post impact us all—and some more than others. But we should all be concerned about what it means for our national commitment to universality, and how it will further contribute to the slow erosion of our democratic institutions and sense of social cohesion. Especially when the justification for the radical restructuring of Canada Post relies on such weak arguments.
13 December
Somewhat extreme, but much uncomfortable truth —
Matthew Hays: Sadly, Rob Ford epitomises what Canada has become
With his crack smoking and drunken misbehaviour, Toronto’s mayor personifies our crude, swaggering, bungling New Canada
(The Guardian) Consider that Canadians view much of the world through American media, which places us in a very odd, existential state: we experience much of the world from the perspective of a country that barely knows we exist. When Canada does make the news, either as a Simpsons one-liner or a news story about some extreme weather, it sets off a collective frisson – a brief but thrilling sensation of being acknowledged.
Ford’s ongoing fame is that much more agonising, given its epic scope. He has become one of the most famous Canadians in the world, attaining the kind of recognition usually only granted to one of our citizens once they have left the country, like William Shatner, Celine Dion or Justin Bieber.
But Ford’s notoriety, which now includes the opening sketch for Saturday Night Live and a New Yorker cartoon, is horrifying to Canadians for another reason. It’s the terror of recognition. Sadly but truly, Ford has become the very personification of what Canada has become.
12 December
Conservatives missing in action in Canada Post cuts: Hébert
On the day that Canada Post declared its intention to impose a major service cut and a substantial price increase, the country’s Conservative consumer champions went missing in action.
(Toronto Star) On the day that Canada Post unilaterally declared its intention to impose a major service cut and a substantial price increase on a massive number of Canadians, the country’s Conservative consumer champions went missing in action.
No duo of federal ministers was on hand in the lobby of the House of Commons to promise — in both official languages — to read the riot act to the offending service provider.
No Conservative MP was around to do the rounds of the afternoon political shows to explain where the Canada Post cuts fit in the pro-consumer manifesto that was presented under the guise of a throne speech only last October.
They bailed out of town for six weeks just ahead of the announcement that urban door-to-door mail delivery is coming to an end, a decision that Canada Post would never have made public without giving the government a heads-up that it was coming.
And so it is that a governing party that proclaims itself willing to take on the telecom industry to get a better deal for consumers and — if need be — to intervene in its affairs to create competition apparently can’t be bothered to lead a search for an alternative model to that of one of its own Crown corporations.
It should come as no surprise that a political X-ray of electoral Canada reveals that the phasing-out of door-to-door mail delivery will hit hardest in opposition-held territory.
11 December
Andrew Coyne: Canada Post’s monopoly has got to go
The day is not far off when, for $5, the post office will refuse to deliver your letter at all
The key to understanding Canada Post’s latest strategic masterstroke — henceforth, the post office will charge you nearly twice as much to deliver a letter half the way — is to understand the logic of monopoly. Only in a world entirely insulated from competitive reality would the appropriate response to declining demand be … higher prices and worse service.
But then, this has been the post office’s strategy all along. For the last 40-odd years Canada Post’s business plan has amounted to charging more and more for less and less. Long before email or electronic funds transfer or any of the other things the corporation blames for its woes, the post office was using the brief intervals between strikes to cut service. First Saturday deliveries were discontinued. Then next-day service became day-after-next, redefining at a stroke a half-billion late letters every year as “on time.”
At length home delivery was discontinued altogether on rural routes in favour of community mailboxes — an innovation to which all urban customers are now to be introduced. The price of a stamp, meanwhile, is to jump to a dollar — two and a half times, after inflation, what it cost in 1981, when it still made house calls. The day is not far off when, for $5, the post office will refuse to deliver your letter at all. Such is the logic of monopoly.
Critics blast Canada Post’s plan to phase out door-to-door delivery
(CTV) Canada Post unveiled its new business strategy on Wednesday, which will see the end of regular door-to-door mail delivery in urban centres, up to 8,000 jobs cut and an increase in the cost of stamps as part of sweeping changes aimed at turning the business around.
Spokesman Jon Hamilton said community mailboxes offer increased security for Canadians and are more “convenient.”
“When you look at community mailboxes, and you know that people are shopping online and they’re not at home, or the kind of mail they’re going to get in the future is more drivers licences and health cards, it makes a lot more sense to have those in a locked box,” he told CTV’s Power Play.
But when asked whether there would be exceptions for people with mobility issues who are unable to travel to community mailboxes, Hamilton said Canada Post would find other potential solutions.
Olivia Chow decries Canada Post cuts as ‘destroying’ mail services while Justin Trudeau slams timing
Canada Post’s abrupt announcement that it is ending door-to-door delivery in urban areas and charging $1 for an individual stamp has alarmed opposition MPs and postal workers who say the new plan is bad news for Canadians.
The plan – released the day after the House of Commons started its Christmas break – caught parliamentarians by surprise.
9 December
Interactive graphic: Stephen Harper government’s cutbacks
Cut by Canada: A detailed directory of more than 100 previous and planned cuts under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
18 November
Stéphane Dion: Thomas Mulcair’s potentially costly Quebec mistake
The NDP leader’s view that Quebec should be allowed to secede from Canada with 50 per cent plus one support underestimates the seriousness and complexity of the issue.
In a recent video, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair falsely interprets the Supreme Court of Canada on an issue that is both unsettling and important for all Canadians: how could a province lawfully secede from our country?
Mulcair took all of his cues from the flawed Bill C-470, a bill introduced into Parliament by Toronto NDP Member of Parliament Craig Scott. This bill would scrap the Clarity Act and change our laws so that secession could occur from just a single-vote difference between the Yes and the No sides in a referendum. So while the NDP’s own constitution requires a two-thirds majority to be changed, the party considers a single vote as sufficient to break up Canada.
This NDP bill contradicts the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that a negotiation on secession would require a vote of “a clear majority on a clear question.” The test of a “clear majority” is important as the more a decision impacts on citizen rights and binds future generations, the more stringent democracy must be regarding the procedures required for such a decision to be adopted. Secession is a hugely consequential and probably irreversible action, one that affects future generations and has serious consequences for all Canadians.

12 November
Tory Mandatory Minimums For Gun Crime Ruled Unconstitutional
(HuffPost) Lawyer Dirk Derstine, who headed up the main appeal, said there was a “mountain” of social science evidence that mandatory minimums do not have a deterrent effect.
The government will likely appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, though it could probably get an amended law passed faster than the appeal could be heard at the top court, Derstine said.
“I think the court has cast a warning to Parliament that their ability to enact ever-more punitive criminal sanctions is not absolute, especially when they take away the ability of courts to fashion a fit and proper sentence,” he said.
“Sentencing is a highly individualized process because the human condition is that we do things in a million different ways with a million different levels of culpability and sentencing ought to be a nuanced thing.”
11 November
Fiona's Remembrance Day Poppy 2013Something to think about on Remembrance Day
Former Soldier Who Lost Part Of His Brain For Canada Says Sacrifice Being Demeaned
(HuffPost) Nearly 100 years ago, before the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Prime Minister Robert Borden made a vow to troops that laid the groundwork for decades of government policy, but has never been enshrined in the Constitution.
“You can go into this action feeling assured of this, and as the head of the government I give you this assurance: That you need not fear that the government and the country will fail to show just appreciation of your service to the country and Empire in what you are about to do and what you have already done,” Borden said. …
The government’s defence is that it isn’t bound by the promises of previous governments, dating back to the First World War, in the care of wounded soldiers.
Veterans plan silent protests of government policies
(Globe & Mail) When the clock strikes 11 a.m on Remembrance Day in Chilliwack, B.C., retired Air Force captain Claude Latulippe will be at the local cenotaph paying homage to former comrades and to the many other Canadians who gave their lives for their country.
But, when it is time for Mark Strahl, the local Conservative MP, to lay a wreath, Mr. Latulippe and other veterans will face away.
5 November
Nine surprises found in the Harper government’s latest omnibus budget bill
(Globe & Mail) The Harper government has shut down second-reading debate of its latest omnibus budget bill, C-4, sending it to committee last week for more detailed study. Opposition MPs expressed exasperation in the Chamber at yet another large bill packed full of legal changes that are not fully comprehensible at first glance.
1. Cracking down on federal unions ; 2. Narrowing the definition of ‘dangerous work’ ; 3. New regime for Employment Insurance funds ; 4. Employer-immigrant match-maker service ; 5. Saving a troubled Supreme Court appointment ; 6. Expanded conflict-of-interest rules ; 7. Canada Pension Plan directors can live outside Canada ; 8. Tackling tax avoidance ; 9. Ending Labour-Sponsored Venture Capital Corp. tax credit
1 November
Canada’s dubious immigration priorities
(The Broadbent Blog) The Speech from the Throne has come and gone. Buried in the hoopla surrounding the demise of cable television bundling were some terrifically misleading claims about “progress” towards meeting Canada’s immigration priorities.
When Section 87.4 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act came into law, the wait list for all applications submitted before February 27, 2008 was abolished. Nearly 300 000 applicants and their dependents were simply told that because our immigration officers were over-worked, Canada was returning their applications. They could, they were informed, reapply, in the hopes that their application would then be considered.
Several of these summarily-dismissed applicants are taking the federal government to court, arguing that this action violated Canadian law. The initial lawsuit was dismissed when the Federal Court ruled that the applications had been legally terminated and that the court could not direct immigration officers to process applications. Now it is again before the courts, this time the Federal Court of Appeal. If successful, the government may well be forced to reopen the files. The issue is at least on hold for now; and in the meantime, the claim that backlogs have been wiped out or halved are disingenuously premature.
1 August
Never one to mince words – or hide the light of his opinions under anything, ANDREW NIKIFORUK describes How America’s friendly northern neighbor became a rogue, reckless petrostate in the July/August issue of Foreign Policy Magazine:
Since the Conservative Party won a majority in Parliament in 2011, the federal government has eviscerated conservationists, indigenous nations, European commissioners, and just about anyone opposing unfettered oil production as unpatriotic radicals. It has muzzled climate change scientists, killed funding for environmental science of every stripe, and in a recent pair of unprecedented omnibus bills, systematically dismantled the country’s most significant long-cherished environmental laws.
The author of this transformation is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a right-wing policy wonk and evangelical Christian with a power base in Alberta, ground zero of Canada’s oil boom. Just as Margaret Thatcher funded her political makeover of Britain on revenue from North Sea oil, Harper intends to methodically rewire the entire Canadian experience with petrodollars sucked from the ground. In the process he has concentrated power in the prime minister’s office and reoriented Canada’s foreign priorities. Harper, who took office in 2006, increased defense spending by nearly $1 billion annually in his first four years, and he has committed $2 billion to prison expansion with a “tough on crime” policy that ignores the country’s falling crime rate. Meanwhile, Canada has amassed a huge federal debt — its highest in history at some $600 billion and counting.
11 July
Wade Rowland: The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster is a Corporate Crime
(HuffPost) … in Canada, railway regulation has been progressively weakened, rather than strengthened, during both the Harper administration and previous Liberal governments.
… The railway industry, despite astronomical growth in the shipment of crude oil by rail over the past few years, has calculated that the added profit to be gained by keeping personnel costs to a bare minimum, and putting off equipment upgrades and rail-bed maintenance as long as possible, is greater than the potential cost of any likely accident.
Their calculations apparently did not take into account the potential for an accident in the scale of the Lac Megantic disaster. Oops. Whether the eventual cost of regulatory sanctions and lawsuits will be high enough to provide a real deterrent in future remains to be seen. A move to re-regulation, as necessary as it may be, is probably out of the question before another federal election.
The Guardian is even harsher: Quebec’s Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster not just tragedy, but corporate crime
At the root of the explosion is deregulation and an energy rush driving companies to take ever greater risks
The crude carried on the rail-line of US-based company Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway – “fracked” shale oil from North Dakota – would not have passed through Lac-Mégantic five years ago. That’s because it’s part of a boom in dirty, unconventional energy, as fossil fuel companies seek to supplant the depletion of easy oil and gas with new sources – sources that are harder to find, nastier to extract, and more complicated to ship.
Terence Corcoran: We are wasting money trying to fight climate change instead of adapting to it
How on Earth are we going to fight this apparently new scourge? Rainstorms bring floods in Toronto that cause electricity system blackouts, transit shutdowns and major financial havoc. Floods in Alberta do the same to the Calgary region. The instant reaction, in some circles, is to pin the blame on climate change and use the events as a launch pad for new calls for action on carbon emissions.
… it doesn’t matter whether you think killer weather is or is not caused by global warming. The more important question is what we do about it, and here is where the policy agenda has been hijacked. Instead of spending billions of dollars chasing carbon emission reductions at home and around the world, why not spend money making Toronto and other cities less vulnerable to floods, heat waves and other events.
21 June
TOPSHOTS-CANADA-FLOODRising water floods the Bow River in downtown Calgary on June 21, 2013. As many as 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, but Mayor Naheed Nenshi warned Friday the worst is yet to come in what is expected to be Calgary Alberta’s most devastating flood in decades. Flooding forced the evacuation on Friday of some 100,000 people in Calgary and nearby towns in the heart of the Canadian oil patch. Schools were closed and the military sent in two helicopters and hundreds of troops to help clear as many as 24 neighborhoods as heavy rains caused the Bow and Elbow Rivers in western Canada to overflow their banks.
Calgary residents grapple with ‘surreal’ devastation as Albertans lose cars, homes in massive floods
After a tense night of creeping rivers, city officials spent Friday struggling to keep Calgarians away from the water that showed no signs of abating by afternoon.
The city cut power and gas to many homes. Across the city, the sound of sirens was unavoidable.
Several residential neighbourhoods were drowned by several feet of river water. Downtown streets were made impassable by churning muck.
17 June
Ottawa wants to claw back two weeks pay from public servants
(National Post) The move is one of a number of “industry standard” payroll practices that the government will be adopting under its “new pay solution” that will change how public servants are paid. The move to “payment in arrears” is touted as providing better, timelier and more accurate processing of changes in pay rates. It would also reduce overpayments that the government has to then recover from employees.
The Conservative government built a $300 million pay centre in Miramichi to replace the jobs lost when it shut down the gun registry – to replace its archaic, 40-year-old pay system with a new off-the-shelf system by 2015-16. The move is part of the government’s plan to upgrade its aging IT system and is supposed to transform and streamline how cheques are processed and people are paid.
The government has the largest payroll in the country, handling 300,000 employees and transactions worth $17 billion a year. The old system was bogged down by so many complicated pay rules that public servants complained they waited months, even years, for raises or overtime payments and sometimes for regular pay.
Public servants are currently paid biweekly for the work they have done, which means the cheque they receive every payday covers the 10 days just worked including the payday Wednesday.
16 June
Western premiers to focus talks on eastward pipeline
When the premiers of Canada’s energy-rich western provinces get together for formal meetings in Winnipeg on Monday … it’s not the controversial, high-profile Northern Gateway pipeline expected to stimulate discussion. Instead, focus will veer to a pipeline going east, from Alberta to New Brunswick.
“The west-east pipeline has general consensus and support right across the West. I don’t think it warrants an awful lot more discussion, except to say that we’re all very excited and supportive of the project,” Ms. Redford said.
14 June
Andrew Cohen: Politicizing Canadian history
In ways, the Conservatives have brought a refreshing commitment to Canadian history. Whatever their motives, they are celebrating our past.
That includes supporting national museums on immigration and human rights in Halifax and Winnipeg, as well as the fine restoration of Fort York in Toronto. It includes The Memory Project, an ambitious oral history of the Second World War and Korea, as well as Parks Canada’s thrilling search for the ships of the Franklin expedition lost in the Arctic.
Beyond that, though, the government’s record is disturbing. Its telling of history is consciously selective and relentlessly political. That doesn’t mean politically correct — heavens, spare us — but politically expedient.
What we’re getting — in emphasis and tone — is less Canadian history. … While some are beyond the pale, most critics are right to wonder what is at work here. Given its record, why should we trust this government to create the new Canadian Museum of History? [Shouldn’t that be the Museum of Canadian History?]
Heritage Minister Considers Restoring Some Funding To Library And Archives
CBC News has learned Heritage Minister James Moore will ask Library and Archives Canada to consider restoring a program eliminated during recent federal budget cuts that helped hundreds of small museums across the country preserve local history.
21 May
Canadian history today – a focus on which history?
(RCI) The decision by Canada’s House of Commons Canadian Heritage to review Canadian history and the way it’s taught immediately raised questions about the goals of the review by a committee dominated by Conservative government MPs.
The decision to examine how history was taught in different Canadian provinces was almost immediately dropped by the Committee. Education is provincial jurisdiction, not a federal one.
13 May
Labrador voters send Penashue packing
(Globe & Mail) Peter Penashue has lost his gambit that the voters of Labrador would prefer to have a seat at the Conservative cabinet table than punish him for spending more than he was allowed in the general election two years ago.
Mr. Penashue, former minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, was roundly defeated Monday by Liberal candidate Yvonne Jones, a former leader of the provincial Liberals in Newfoundland and Labrador and a former mayor of Mary’s Harbour.
B.C. NDP stays ahead as Liberals’ base erodes
(Globe & Mail)The B.C. NDP holds a nine-point lead over the B.C. Liberals as voters head to the polls, according to a new Angus Reid survey conducted exclusively for CTV and The Globe and Mail.
Stacking up who’s talking (or not) on Parliament Hill
Samara finds New Democrats register most words, with NDP MP Peter Julian most talkative
(CBC) In honour of the summer reading season, Samara studied how much MPs and parties spoke in the House of Commons in 2012 and matched some members up with notable works of Canadian literature.
Prime Minister expected to conduct ‘major’ Cabinet shuffle this summer
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be making more strategic decisions on where he wants to take the party and what he wants to showcase.
(Hill Times) Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s majority-governing Conservatives have been on the defensive over the last few weeks with $3.1-billion of public funds unaccounted for, a possible split in the party’s caucus and sagging public opinion poll numbers, so a summer Cabinet shuffle and fall Throne Speech are likely in the cards in order to “reinvigorate” the government, say Conservative insiders.
10 May
Jeffrey Simpson: We all pay for the government’s hockey ads
The Economic Action Plan communications strategy was dreamed up by Harper government spinmeisters at the time of the recession in late 2008 and 2009. The country is long removed from that recession, although its effects are still being felt (especially in government finances and unemployment levels).
8 May
See Economic Justice 2011 NHS: A few questions for the first release and
2011 NHS: Community organizations officially left in the dark
Today’s first release of the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) data confirmed what we had previously written. It appears the data quality was so poor that Statscan decided to release neither data at the dissemination area (DA) nor the census tract (CT) levels. These are more commonly referred to as ‘community-level’ data.
National Household Survey: Tory Heartland Hit Hardest With Loss Of Census Data
(HuffPost) Because of low response rates, Statistics Canada chose to withhold all data on a quarter of Canadian municipalities, or 1,128, compared with the 200 that were suppressed after the 2006 long-form census. Most of those are in rural and First Nations communities.
“The estimates for such areas have such a high level of error that they should not be released under most circumstances,” the agency said.
Michael Den Tandt: Conservatives should eat crow, reinstate mandatory long-form census
(Postmedia News) Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey, hot off the press, is chock-a-block with intriguing information about Canada’s evolving character. Three levels of government, business, think-tanks, academics, all could find this data highly useful, even vital, in pursuing their important work.
What a pity the numbers can’t be trusted.
2 May
Missing Money and a Majority Milestone
The At Issue panel debates the missing $3 billion dollars in anti-terror money, plus the two-year point in the CPC
30 April
Budget bill gives Harper Cabinet new powers over CBC
(Hill Times) The federal government’s latest budget bill would give Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Cabinet the power to dictate collective bargaining and terms for other salaries and working conditions at the CBC and three other cultural or scientific Crown corporations.
27 April
‘Little-known war’ of 1812 a big deal for Ottawa
(Globe & Mail) It’s further evidence of of how serious a political imperative the remembrance of the 200-year-old conflict is for the Harper Conservatives, who have sought to give military exploits a greater role in Canada’s identity.
24 April
Canada Anti-Terror Bill S-7 Passes House Of Commons
(HuffPost) Despite the sense of urgency attached to the bill by the Conservatives, the current iteration of the law has been working its way through the parliamentary process since February 2012, when it was introduced in the Senate.
Elements of it had been introduced in earlier failed legislation dating to 2007, which itself was linked to older laws enacted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
15 April
Parliament losing power to keep tabs on government: Tory MP
( A former member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet has warned that Canadian parliamentary democracy is being jeopardized by the “command and control” system that is removing the right of MPs to speak in the House of Commons.
12 April
Federal Liberals Lead Conservatives In New Poll
(Canadian Press) The federal Liberals have topped the Conservatives for the first time in years, with the NDP dropping to third, a new Nanos Research poll suggests. … “It is too early to tell whether this increase in Liberal support is the new trend or a direct result of the focus on the Liberal Leadership race,” Nik Nanos, the president and CEO of Nanos Research, told CBC News.
Aislin hot air balloons For NDP and Liberals, 2015 election assault on Stephen Harper starts with this weekend’s party conventions
This is the weekend Canadian politics begins gearing up for the next election.
In Ottawa, the Liberals will select a new — and likely very different — leader. In Montreal, the Opposition New Democrats will use their policy convention to retool the party’s message and policies to better suit a government in waiting.
And the Conservatives will begin cranking up their famously effective defensive machine to keep both at bay.
5 April
Liberals sweep past Tories in latest poll — even without Trudeau as leader, as NDP heads for disaster
(National Post) The Liberals have swept past the Conservatives in popularity, according to a new poll, with Canadians now clearly preferring a Grit government — even without Justin Trudeau as leader.
1 April
Kevin Page: Why being Canada’s first parliamentary budget officer ‘may have saved my life’
(The Star) The PBO is under threat. Interviews to find the next parliamentary budget officer have not started, despite the fact that my term has ended. The prime minister has appointed the parliamentary librarian as the interim parliamentary budget officer. The librarian is a nice person, but someone with no budget analysis experience. The weak legislation underpinning the PBO will not sustain the office. In a healthy democracy, analytical dissonance needs to be cherished and protected.
What’s in it for the government to have a strong legislative budget office? Not much. What’s in it for Parliament and Canadians to have a strong budget office? Maybe a great deal. If it matters to you, please tell your elected representatives.

28 March
Poll Suggests Harper In Trouble, Even If NDP And Liberals Don’t Co-Operate Before 2015
Eric Grenier: A new survey by Abacus Data, conducted last week for the QMI Agency, shows the Conservatives in a close race with the New Democrats. The Tories have a slight edge with the support of 32 per cent of decided voters to 31 per cent for the NDP, while 24 per cent of respondents support the Liberals. Another 8 per cent opt for the Greens
23 March
Tories to ‘unwind’ budget office, departing PBO warns
(CBC) Canada’s first budget watchdog could also be the last, says the departing public civil servant with 27 years of experience who held the job until Friday when his five-year mandate came to an end.
In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House, the former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page told host Evan Solomon that the federal government has already begun to undo the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer as Canadians have known it.
18 March
This is simply beyond the pale, but then, we keep thinking that about new measures from the Harper government.
Librarians warned of loyalty duty to Canada’s government, high risk activities
Canada’s government librarians and archivists are being warned of ‘high risk’ activities such as going to a classroom, attending a conference. or speaking in public meetings about what they do.
They are also being reminded of their “duty of loyalty” to the “duly elected government”.
15 March
Chantal Hébert: Different fates for Kevin Page and Graham Fraser on Parliament Hill
While Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has gotten deep under the skin of the Conservatives, Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser has just been offered a three-year extension.
(Toronto Star) At a time when the PQ is determined to rekindle the language debate, re-appointing Fraser to keep watch on the language minefield will buy Harper some extra peace of mind. Empowering a fearless budget officer to shed light on the government’s opaque budget management would achieve the opposite result.
14 March
Federal budget to be delivered March 21, same day budget officer takes government to court
Flaherty … will table the budget the same day Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page is due in court in an attempt to clarify his mandate and ultimately get federal departments to hand over more information on the impacts of spending cuts.
It will also come just a few days before Page’s appointment as budget officer expires.
Tory cabinet minister resigns under cloud
(RCI) A second Conservative Party cabinet minister in less than a month has been forced to resign. Peter Penashue announced Thursday that he was resigning his seat in the House of Commons amid allegations of overspending in the 2011 federal election campaign and improperly accepting corporate donations. He says he will run in a by-election in his riding of Labrador.
14 March
Federal budget 2013: Jim Flaherty has eye on deficit
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says he will deliver the federal budget on March 21.
Human Development Index: Canada Drops Out Of Top 10 As Rest Of World Catches Up
(HuffPost) After spending much of the 1990s in first place, and the next decade in a slow decline, Canada has now dropped entirely out of the top 10 on the UN’s Human Development Index.
Canada ranks 11th place in the 2013 edition of the index, released on Thursday, down from 10th place in the previous report. …
But the people behind the report say the downward trend for Canada isn’t as much about the country declining as it is about other countries improving their human development levels more quickly.
8 March
Alberta’s oil woes mean trouble ahead for Canada: Walkom
(Toronto Star) Alberta’s bad news budget is not only a commentary on that province’s finances. It is a signal from the front lines that the resource boom — the boom that has kept Canada afloat during this global slump — faces deep trouble.
… Since the world economy went off the cliff in 2008, resources have kept Canada going. Americans may not be buying Ontario’s manufactured goods, but they have been buying oil — at prices that, thanks to Chinese demand and the production quotas of the OPEC cartel, have been sky-high.
For Prime Minister Stephen Harper this has been a godsend. Insofar as his Conservative government has any kind of industrial strategy, it is one based on oil and resources.
To that end, Ottawa has modified or eliminated environmental rules that resource companies fear might interfere with their business.
At the same time, it is pushing hard for pipelines to move tarsands oil more easily to Asia and the U.S.
Even Harper’s free-trade agenda is resource-oriented. Free trade with Japan is supposed to provide new opportunities for oil and gas exporters. Free trade with the European Union is designed to benefit livestock exporters.
The government makes no secret of its intentions. The unemployment rate in Canada may be 7 per cent. But that hasn’t stopped Ottawa from allowing resource firms to bring in cheaper foreign labour.
3 March
U.N. food envoy slaps Ottawa for scrapping census
(Canadian Press) The United Nations right-to-food envoy says the Harper government’s controversial decisions to scrap the long-form census and negotiate a free trade deal with Europe will make it more difficult to fight poverty in Canada.
Those are among the many cutting observations made by Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to food, who will release his report Monday in Geneva at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.
The report calls on Ottawa to create a national food strategy to fight hunger among a growing number of vulnerable groups, including aboriginals and people struggling to make ends meet on social assistance. It says the strategy should spell out the levels of responsibility between federal, provincial and municipal governments.
27 February
Senate residency uproar continues as Harper holds the line
PM says senators conform to residency test as opposition questions eligibility
(CBC) After weeks of questions about living expenses and whether some senators live in the right province and qualify for their seats, CBC News found 25 of 104 senators either refused to say they had proof of their primary residence or wouldn’t respond to questions. Most of them — 21 — were appointed by Harper, who came to power in 2006 promising accountability and Senate reform.
John Moore: Stephen Harper’s not-so-permanent majority
Canadian conservatives have a lot in common with their American counterparts: They seem to think that if they make twice as much noise they must be twice as numerous. You’d think they might be chastened by the hubris of U.S. strategist Karl Rove, who launched a plan 10 years ago to create a “permanent Republican majority,” and is now shunned by the party he ran into the ditch. …
You can tell Canadians that their identity lies in the Armed Forces, the Crown, hockey and Timbits — but you can’t will that to be true. And a recent survey by Nanos Research for the Institute for Research on Public Policy suggests that — in spite of millions spent on 1812 military commemorations, anniversary celebrations of the Russia-Canada hockey series, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee — Canadians have been left cold. When asked what type of historic events Ottawa should be commemorating, respondents actually said they would have preferred to make a bigger deal of the 30th anniversary of that liberal sacred text, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
25 February
Kelly McParland: Mike Duffy struggles with the confusing question, ‘where do you live?’
It has proven a tough query for Senator Duffy, who, as a broadcaster, once enjoyed confronting political leaders with far more searching inquiries. For the better part of three months Sen. Duffy has tried to convince doubting inquisitors that his real home isn’t the one he’s owned for ten years next to Kanata Golf Course in Ottawa, but a small seasonal cottage in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.
20 February
Academics split on Canada’s religious freedom ambassador
Some academics wonder whether Harper is overselling Bennett’s credentials
(CBC) Bennett has a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, but it is in politics, not theology or religious studies.
Until earlier this month, Bennett was working full-time as a manager at Natural Resources Canada and has previously worked as a senior analyst in the privy council office and Export Development Canada.
14 February
Provincial NDP leaders dodge federal party’s unpopular unity bill
(Ottawa Citizen) Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair isn’t getting much support from his provincial counterparts for his controversial approach to national unity — and new poll may help explain why.
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests almost three-quarters of Canadians don’t buy Mulcair’s assertion that a bare majority of 50 per cent plus one vote should be sufficient to trigger negotiations on Quebec secession.
Indeed, on average, respondents pegged the ideal threshold at 64 per cent.
David (Kilgour) Senate reform: Canada should adopt Australia’s Triple-E Senate
David (Jones) Senate reform: It may be better to keep all the turkeys in one cage
13 February
Lysanne Gagnon: So what to do with the Senate? Maybe the way out would be to pack it with outstanding citizens chosen by a non-partisan committee of, say, university presidents, Order of Canada officers, Supreme Court judges and retired leaders from labour unions, businesses and aboriginal groups. Maybe then – just maybe – the Senate could gradually be transformed into a real chamber of sober second thought.
Jeffrey Simpson: Why would we want an elected Senate?
… The Supreme Court has already ruled that the composition of the Senate cannot be changed without provincial consent, which in the real world means no agreement, ever. Not content with the impossible, the Harper government suggests the improbable: that reform can occur if provinces set up elections for senators, as happened in the United States. But how many premiers, eager to speak for their provinces, will want elected senators vying with them for legitimacy as provincial spokesmen?
7 February
New policy gives government power to muzzle DFO scientists
(iPolitics) Canada, the only parliamentary democracy in the Commonwealth where a government has been found in contempt of Parliament, is now the only democracy in the world where a government bureaucrat can suppress scientific research.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, where a reign of terror aimed at choking off internal leaks has been in full swing since the disastrous decision to close the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), has issued a new policy on the publication of scientific papers. Previous policies applied only to those papers prepared by DFO scientists. If government scientists teamed up with non-DFO scientists on a paper, it was merely “recommended” that DFO scientists adhere to the departmental publication policy. The new policy applies to all submissions and DFO approval is required. Just to make sure scientists get the message, that part of the revised guidelines is printed in bold italics. Making things worse, the new policy does not lay out the criteria for giving thumbs-down to a publication.
6 February
Bob Rae presents a cogent response to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Top 10 reasons Canadian competitiveness is dropping.
Bob Rae on how to fix the skills gap: first fix immigration
(ROB|Globe & Mail) Complacency is the enemy. That’s the message from interim federal Liberal leader Bob Rae when it comes to fixing this country’s skills gap. For Canada to compete globally in terms of growth and innovation, he says, we first must address misguided immigration policies, a young – yet vastly underused – native work force, a non-existent national childcare strategy that forces talented women to stay home, and an education system in which a quarter of our students drop out of high school.
Mike Duffy Residency Uproar Continues In House
Opposition MPs are questioning whether Duffy lives in Cavendish, P.E.I., as he says he does. … The Senate is auditing its members to ensure they live where they say they do after media reported three of them spend most of their time in the National Capital Region but claim they live elsewhere and collect a living allowance worth up to $21,000 a year. [Update: Rex Murphy has words for Mike (Where Does He Live) Duffy]
2 February
Excellent and largely sympathetic assessment of Jason Kenney’s tenure as Minister of Immigration
(Maclean’s) The inside story of Jason Kenney’s campaign to win over ethnic votes
The secret to the success of Canada’s immigration minister
29 January
Most Powerful People In Ottawa Listed By Hill Times
The Hill Times has released its list of the 101 most powerful and influential people in Canada’s government and it seems the top of the heap is still dominated by men. Fascinating — Chantal Hébert is the only person we spotted who makes it twice – once as part of the At Issue panel and the second time as an individual columnist. You can (and should) read the entire Power and Influence issue
NDP Want Penalty Box For MPs Who Behave Badly In Commons
(Canadian Press) Cullen’s proposal is far from the first time someone has tried to rein in MPs, nor will it likely be the last.
Conservative backbencher Michael Chong tabled a motion in 2010 to reform question period that would have allowed more time for answers and bolstered the Speaker’s authority. The motion died when Parliament was dissolved in 2011.
Poll Shows Kathleen Wynne Will Have Tough Time Staying Premier
26 January
Kathleen Wynne to become Ontario’s first female and openly gay premier
She will now helm a party that has struggled in the polls through a tumultuous fall, one that took a sharp turn when Dalton McGuinty announced on Oct. 15 that he would resign as Premier and was proroguing the legislature.
Conrad Black: Thomas Mulcair promotes an odious species of ‘federalism’
(National Post) Thomas Mulcair is committing the hypocrisy of groveling to French Quebec racists, while claiming to be a successful federalist. He must not be allowed to get away with this monstrous canard. Stephen Harper and (presumably) Justin Trudeau must assure that he does not.
Ten Canadian firms among world’s most sustainable
The annual Global 100 list, compiled by media and research company Corporate Knights, is being released Wednesday at the World Financial Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It ranks major corporations using a wide range of factors including relative energy and water consumption, carbon emissions, waste production and several corporate governance issues such as the number of women on the board and CEO compensation relative to average employees.
Canada’s top company, Teck Resources Ltd., comes in at No. 21. Barrick Gold Corp. is No. 40 and Canadian National Railway Co. is No. 57.
Last year only six Canadian companies made it onto the list, but this year Canada is tied with the United States for the most representation with 10 companies each.
Doug Morrow, Corporate Knight’s vice-president of research, noted that many of the Canadian companies on the list are from extractive businesses such as mining and energy.
“It convincingly demonstrates that companies from conventionally dirty industries can still fare very well in our corporate sustainability assessment,” he said. “These firms “tend to have more incentive than companies based in lighter footprint industries to manage their sustainability footprint, because they are under a microscope.”
22 January
Compact flourescent bulbs: Canada unprepared
(RCI) Beginning next year, Canadians will no longer be able to buy incandescent light bulbs. The 75 and 100 watt bulbs will be banned, on January 1, 2014, and 40 and 60 watt bulbs banned later in the year.
They are being phased out in favour of compact fluorescent bulbs, (CFL) promoted as being longer lasting and more energy efficient. These bulbs however also contain small amounts of toxic mercury.
A new report from the government agency Environment Canada, says proper facilities for safe disposal of these bulbs and other mercury containing products, is patchwork, or non-existent. As they burn out, many of these bulbs are already ending up in the normal garbage stream and landfills where the mercury can leach into ground water.
17 January
Another excellent debate
David (Jones)
Canada’s military: With little support, a new decade of darkness looms
Unfortunately, Canadian political parties remain deeply divided regarding national security objectives. In contrast to the United States, where all parties are committed to maintaining the world’s strongest and finest military forces, many Canadians would prefer to have no military forces. Or at least none that could go in harm’s way, let alone do harm to anyone. If severely pressed, some such individuals would accept contributing to “light peacekeeping” (after peace-making has been made) but only if UN sanctioned.
David (Kilgour)
Canada’s military: Funding should be focused on protecting our sovereignty
While the government seeks to determine what kind of military it can afford in a period of shrinking budgets, Canadians are not hesitant about describing what they want.
At one extreme are those who call for Canada, like Iceland and Costa Rica, to abandon our standing army and no longer be part of NATO. Most Canadians appear to favour a military which is adequately equipped and funded to protect our sovereignty over territorial waters and airspace, and to have a say at the table on global security by rapidly deploying anywhere in the world on occasions when needed to protect civilians under siege. I favour this approach.
15 January
It is really, really time to retire Mr. Fantino from Cabinet responsibilities, if not from politics entirely.
Fantino’s Partisan CIDA Letters Pulled Down By PMO
The letters by Julian Fantino, the minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency, or CIDA, were posted to the departmental website in December.
They appeared to violate a number of government communications policies designed to ensure that the taxpayer-funded civil service is not used for partisan purposes.
One Fantino letter was posted under a headline reading “Dear NDP: CIDA Does Not Need Your Economic Advice.”
Another took the Liberals to task and contrasted their policies with those of the Conservatives.
For Julian Fantino, the medium derails the message
14 January
Harper introduit la foi chrétienne dans les programmes de l’ACDI
(La Presse) Tout en coupant les fonds de nombreux organismes de coopération internationale, Ottawa subventionne de plus en plus généreusement les ONG religieuses, surtout celles qui ont pour mission de répandre la foi.
10 January
Karnalyte Resources: Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd. Buys Stake In Saskatchewan Potash Project For $45-Million
(Canadian Press) An Indian company has signed a $45-million deal to buy a 19.98 per cent stake in Karnalyte Resources Inc. (TSX:KRN), which is developing a potash project in Saskatchewan.
Under the deal, Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd., has agreed to pay $8.15 per share for about 5.5 million shares.
The company has also signed a 20-year off-take agreement for the purchase of approximately 350,000 tonnes per year of potash from Phase 1 of Karnalyte’s Wynyard Carnallite Project.
9 January
Fake parts in Hercules aircraft called a genuine risk
Canadian military has no immediate plans to replace knock-off electronics
(CBC) Despite repeated government denials, CBC News has confirmed that some of Canada’s new Hercules military transport planes have counterfeit Chinese parts in their cockpits that could leave pilots with blank instrument panels in mid-flight.
Documents show the Canadian military has known about the bogus electronic chips in the giant Hercules C-130J aircraft since at least July 2012, but continued to hide the fact during a CBC News investigation months later. [Note: this story came to light during research for Doc Zone’s Counterfeit culture]
4 January
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) Stephen Harper To Meet First Nations Leaders Next Week Amid Chief Theresa Spence’s Hunger Strike

One Comment on "Canada in 2013"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm ·

    In Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals weren’t meant to be handed out to anyone for simply doing their job, Joanne Chianello points out that “far too often, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal looks to have been awarded not to some well-deserving citizen for some irreproachable accomplishment, but merely because of a job title. That’s not what these medals should be celebrating.” Sadly, there have been many such cases, which devalues the award for the majority who were very deserving recipients.

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