Tag Archives: contempt

Who Is the Least Qualified to Evaluate Teachers?

Let’s say you don’t employ public school teachers. Let’s say you make millions of dollars. Let’s say you earn sometimes hundreds of times more money than the lowest paid worker in your organization. And let’s say you may not have even attended public school in Canada?

So what should you do? Release a report on how to pay public school teachers because…YOU’RE A CEO!

Continue reading Who Is the Least Qualified to Evaluate Teachers?

Stop Saying Tax “Haven” and Tax “Burden”

Opposition calls for Mint chair to be fired
The finance minister and his tax evasion buddy.

The latest nonsense of the hyper-rich 1% and their political compradors has reminded us once again, that the rich hide their money from government to avoid paying taxes…because they’re rich and can get their way.

Part of how they do that is by using language against us to spin how we even think of community building, on a local or national level. Here’s how:

Continue reading Stop Saying Tax “Haven” and Tax “Burden”

Stephen Harper Thinks You’re Stupid: Yet Another Reason

Yharperou know it’s a rough day for the prime minister when the Sun News Network demonstrates they aren’t always a Fox News North Conservative Party lapdog by calling them on the Economic Action Plan lunacy.

If you wonder why lots of people don’t vote, it’s in part because they think governments think we’re stupid.

Running Economic Action Plan ads polls poorly. The populace thinks it’s spin. And now Sun News decided to do some simple journalism to assess whether it’s truly a shadow masquerading as an authentic…something…plan, even?

The bottom line is that governments often think we’re just stupid. We will accept these ads. We will express in polls that we think the ads are spin. We will then do nothing when they continue.

In the end, maybe Stephen Harper is right to think we’re stupid.

Here’s a hint for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Canadians expect their government to have an economic plan.

They don’t need to be reminded of it, ad nauseam, for four years, via a series of commercials that have cost them $113 million so far, with no end in sight.

The latest $29,000 government poll on the government’s Economic Action Plan (EAP), bringing the total cost of polling on it to $330,000, found almost no one is paying attention anymore.

The Harris-Decima survey completed in the spring, found of 2003 Canadians surveyed, three — count ’em, three — visited the government’s Actionplan.gc.ca website.

Only 6% of those who recalled seeing television ads promoting the plan took action because of them, and nine of them said the only action they took was to complain.

According to The Canadian Press, which obtained the poll through an access to information request, that’s the worst response rate for any government advertising campaign.

Indeed, the survey didn’t report on anyone calling the government toll-free number — 1-800-O-Canada — featured in television commercials promoting the EAP.

(When we called that number, a polite receptionist referred us to the ministry of finance website Budget.gc.ca, explaining she didn’t have a direct phone line for the EAP, nor was she aware of the Actionplan.gc.ca website, which we told her about.)

Previous surveys about the EAP — mandatory under government rules intended to ensure, ironically, that taxpayers are getting good value for their money — have found similarly high levels of public apathy and even hostility to the ads.

– from Harper should scrap economic plan ads

Harper Spends $90k of Our Money/Day to Spin Us on His Cuts

The Harper government is paying consultant Deloitte Inc. almost $90,000 a day for advice on how to manage the cuts.

via Harper personally approved $22,000 tab for visiting bureaucrats – The Globe and Mail.

I am flabbergasted to read this entire article about money Harper personally signed off on to wine and dine the global elite/1% in OECD contempt-fests.

But I am more stunned by the sentence quoted above, which appeared at the very end of the piece. Despite the tens of thousands of dollars spent on single events, why in the name of all that is not-so-contemptuous and oh-so-righteous, was the article NOT about the $90,000 that our federal government is giving to corporate washing machines to spin the austerity/theft of social programs that will cover the corporate tax cuts, prisons and F35s?

I think Dean Beeby dropped the ball here.

So here’s a suggestion: email the prime minister at pm@pm.gc.ca and let him know that you don’t want him to spend $90,000/day on spin doctors to sell us cuts to our social programs. Just because HE wants to get rid of government doesn’t mean we want to.

And share your comments/tears/anger/frustration/resolutions in Twitter with the #90Kspin hashtag. And share your views with your favourite [or all] NDP leadership candidates also in Twitter.

That is all.


Releasing Government Bad News Under Cover of a Hockey Game

Based on the bad news coming from the BC and Canadian governments under cover of game one of the Stanley Cup finals, we should be wary of the Canucks going to seven games.

It used to be Friday afternoons were a great time for governments to release bad news. The week’s media cycle was drifting off into a weekend and there would be less room for public analysis than if bad news was released at 9am on a Monday. This is why I am always scouring news websites after 3pm on Fridays. Just in case.

But yesterday, game one of the Stanley Cup finals was a perfect day for bad news because the city, province and much of the country was fixated on the hockey game. Here’s what contemptuous filth emerged while we were anticipating the game…in case you missed it:

1. A few days ago, the BC Liberal government changed the date and time of budget estimates debate for the premier’s office to coincide with the hockey game. Budget estimates debates are when the opposition can examine the contents of each line item of the provincial budget. In a contemptuous, cynical obstruction of democracy, transparency and accountability, the premier decided that debate about her office budget would take place when virtually no one would be interested in watching on Hansard TV and virtually all of the media would be distracted.

2. On a related note, BC Liberal cabinet minister Moira Stilwell [whose Twitter introduction to her leadership debate was a moderate failure] tweeted on Monday how much she was distressed at the legislature sitting past dinnertime this week. I’m sure she was being at least somewhat facetious, since they might have to miss the hockey game:

The house is sitting till 9pm this week; couldn’t we just talk faster? #BCPOLI

Since it was her government that chose to keep the legislature closed for around 600 of the last 700 days, her hypocrisy is galling. But then, if she’s being facetious, that’s ok, right? No. That makes it even worse because of how little regard her government holds for democratic accountability.

But then she followed up that gem with this one last night:

The house sits tonight during the game-ridiculous!! Go #Canucks!

Honestly? I’ll tell you what is ridiculous: her premier rescheduling her office’s estimates debate to occur during the game. And I agree that evening sittings aren’t terribly valuable, but they are necessary when the government’s goal is to minimize the number of legislative sitting days, thereby minimizing the number of question periods they must endure, and maximizing the opportunities to vote closure on debate so they can ram through legislation with their majority of votes. This is why I’d particularly enjoyed the recent years of minority governments in Ottawa and why we’ll be bothered by lots of majority closure motions in the House of Commons in Harper’s majority.

3. CBC BC’s legislative reporter, Stephen Smart, also reported yesterday that the BC Liberals’ public sector wage austerity program of net zero wage increases will continue for two more years. We’ll see about that. Again, not the kind of news to release on a Monday morning.

4. Laila Yuile discovered yet another announcement buried in Stanley Cup hype that affects the safety of citizens using court services: the firing of a few dozen more sheriffs leading to the closure of even more courtrooms. This, all during a time when millions of our tax dollars are funding stick men/mimes on TV commercials to explain to us what the government wants us to know about their beloved HST.

5. Shifting to Ottawa, we found out today Foreign Minister Baird announced before yesterday’s hockey game that parliament will be using their majority to ram through a 90-day [or more] extension to the Canadian Forces’ military involvement in Libya, which is set to expire in 14 days.

All I can say is that I hope the Canucks win the Stanley Cup in four games to minimize the likelihood of more bad news announcements buried on game days.

Political announcements are starting to remind me of a Rolling Stones song:

One hundred thousand disparus
Lost in the jails in South America
CURL up baby
CURL up tight
CURL up baby
Keep it all out of sight
Keep it all out of sight
Undercover of the night [or, Canucks game]

A Compendium of My Prime Minister Layton Posts

I’ve enjoyed writing four pieces about the Prime Minster Layton concept in the last 2.5 years.

Originally, it was a wishful thinking hyper long-shot in a prorogation crisis at a time when the Liberals had no firm leader.

Then in June 2010 it was a curiosity when polling indicated a Jack Layton-led coalition with the Liberals would defeat the Conservatives 43-37.

Then it was an analysis last week after the first few days of the NDP surge, spurred by gains in Quebec, but still too early to truly see how Layton could overtake the Liberals to be the leading force in a coalition or voting arrangement with the Liberals and the Bloc.

Finally, it was a review of a week of NDP surge polling moving through the advanced voting days. It was still unclear that the NDP would get more seats than the Liberals.

Here are these previous pieces:

  1. November 28, 2008: Prime Minister Layton and Proportional Representation
  2. June 2, 2010: Prime Minister Layton, Redux
  3. April 21, 2011: Prime Minister Layton
  4. April 23, 2011: The Democratic Rebirth of Canada

And where are we today, four days before the general election? The NDP is closer to the leading Conservatives that they are to the third place Liberals. Jack Layton has pulled ahead of Stephen Harper in composite leadership polling, not just in the trust category. There are worries that vote splitting between the NDP and the Bloc in Quebec and the NDP and the Liberals in the ROC [Rest of Canada] will allow the Conservatives to steal a majority.

Personally, I think with the continued softness of some of the NDP support [vote parkers], and with the abundance of strategic voting discussion and websites designed to prevent a Harper majority, I suspect enough NDP supporters will slide back to the Liberals and the Bloc in critical seats to ensure vote splitting doesn’t lead to a Harper majority.

The only question is which party comes in second place: the NDP or Liberals. If the NDP does, it will be Jack Layton leading a delegation to Rideau Hall soon after May 2, or after the House of Commons fires Harper for a second time in two months, to form a coalition or government with explicit voting support. Then it will be Prime Minister Layton.

I’ve sat in that seat in the House. It has a great view–not as good as the speaker’s chair, but hey, it has its perks. And through all this, Ignatieff will lose his caucus support as leader of a humiliated “natural governing party.” Then we will see Goodale, Rae, Kennedy and some others go after the leadership position. And we’ll see a similar surgical removal of Steve Harper as Conservative leader and likely Gilles Duceppe as Bloc leader.

If the Liberals win more seats than the NDP, we’ll see Prime Minister Ignatieff, despite how many sharpened knives are hidden in the desks of Liberal MPs. In that case, we’d still see Harper and Duceppe leaving their positions, and possibly Layton depending on his attitude and health.

In the end, living in Twitter and musing over every national poll released every day is living in an echo chamber of pseudo-scientific attempts to predict the behaviour of the electorate. Last night, Chretien played a card. The attack ads from the Liberals and Conservatives against the NDP will have some traction to mobilize their base. The impending election day will also affect some voter intentions.

May 2 is unpredictable. And while no national poll will be correct in predicting popular vote support or seat distribution, they’re all competing to be the closest since profound notoriety comes with winning the closest to the bulls eye.

What we also know is that BC seat results will definitely determine which of three aging white men will become prime minister.

But as the final days of the campaign settle upon us, we see the final power plays. The Globe and Mail embraces deluded lunacy in its explanation of its endorsement of Stephen Harper with phrases like the Conservatives being the “only truly national party” despite it being the Alberta reform party, and how “he has not been the scary character portrayed by the opposition; with some exceptions, his government has been moderate and pragmatic.” That’s just bats.

This absurd endorsement should mobilize voters to be strategic in their voting. While the idealist in me thinks no one should ever vote strategically, the pragmatist in me recognizes that with a patently unjust electoral system like first-past-the-post, strategic voting is morally legitimate and can be deemed quite useful. Luckily, I live in Vancouver Kingsway where the strategic vote is also the principled vote: I already voted for the NDP’s Don Davies on Monday.

But we also see Crawford Killian’s interesting inclusion of some poll analysis of the Prime Minister Layton meme/concept/possibility in the context of what the governor-general ought to do if the Conservatives “win” another minority, according to the people of Canada:

  • 43% say the leader of the opposition should be invited to form a government [after all, the House already fired Harper last month]
  • 19%, a relatively dwarfish percentage, think Harper should have another chance [which would be pointless since he said he’ll submit the same budget as in March and he’ll be fired again by the House]
  • 38% undecided [after all, this is a complicated thing with very little constitutional convention to lean on and 2.5 years of Harper’s disinformation campaign about legal/valid/credible forms of non-majority governments in parliamentary systems]

Then Killiian quotes EKOS on the Prime Minister Layton concept:

If anyone had trotted this scenario out as a likely outcome at the outset of this campaign, they would have been dismissed as a lunatic. Yet this unimaginable outcome is arguably the most likely outcome of the current political landscape.

I think if not the most likely outcome Monday night, it is the second most likely outcome. EitherĀ  way, I would welcome being dismissed as a lunatic for having written about this 2.5 years ago.

In the end, democracy wins and Canadians will get even more used to more effective and participatory political debate and dialogue in the country. Unless Harper eeks out a majority. Unlikely.

So. Make sure you vote on Monday. Something is afoot. Your vote will be part of it.

The Democratic Rebirth of Canada

With less than a dozen days left in the federal election, I am prepared to call it…there is a democratic rebirth in this country. But I have one warning about reading too much into high turnouts in advance polls this weekend.

With Egypt capturing our hearts, and Tunisia, and Libya and a dozen other places in Africa and the Middle East seeking democracy, and the anti-neoliberal people’s movements against worker bashing by the hyper-rich in Wisconsin and Ohio and dozens of other places in the world, I feared Canada would be passed over.

Not so.

We had a contempt of parliament vote in the House effectively firing the contemptuous Stephen Harper.

We have seen an election campaign with a consistently contemptuous ex-prime minister not even remotely trying to hide his disdain for democracy or applying for his old job again.

We have seen vote mobs, a stunning embrace of the NDP not as a radical new party, but a party whose policies have always resonated with millions of working Canadians, but now we see that after seven years of minority government that has enhanced democratic potential in Canada, the old tired binary choice of Liberal or Conservative is appearing increasingly obsolete.

That perception of obsolescence got a boost with the Conservative-Liberal passive coalition created when the Liberals decided to only sort of vote against Conservative policies. The Liberals ensured they passed by not allowing enough of Liberals MPs to attend the vote to stop bad policies.

Another boost came from Michael Ignatieff living down to expectations of his utter lack of charisma as a compelling leader with a vision. He kept up Liberal traditions of stealing progressive NDP policies, but we have seen him support Harper so much that he has already proven he’ll campaign from the left but govern from the right. In this case he helped Harper govern from the radical right and now he campaigns from the left. Because this all happened backwards from normal, we are all seeing through it.

That is why the NDP is polling ahead of the Liberals. That is also why Jack Layton is considered by far the most desirable prime minister. And it may come from his successful presentation in the debates. And this is why analysis of one recent poll inside the NDP surge this week shows the NDP poised to win 60 seats.

That is also why in exploring the credibility of Jack Layton as prime minister, after a few more days of the NDP surge past the Liberals, another scenario for Layton to become prime minister is for the NDP to simply win more seats than the Liberals: reflecting a significant party implosion of credibility. This would allow the NDP to explore a coalition or voting arrangement and further erode Ignatieff’s chances of remaining Liberal leader, making Layton the only viable prime minister.

Since the Liberals lost their majority 7 years ago, they have hung on as official opposition. But the electorate has grown weary of their inability to provide a compelling message to resonate enough with voters to supplant the increasingly contemptuous Conservative party. The NDP has been the de facto opposition to this horrible government and the Liberals show no sign of caring to diverge from their passive support of the government. The public appears to be rewarding the NDP.

But the NDP support is soft, with a significant percentage of supporting voters not firmly committed to voting NDP. This may mean they may shift back to the Liberals at the last minute. That has happened in the past. The vote parking with the NDP may also result in strategic voting against Harper. Regardless, the surge we are seeing now has helped the Liberal party realize they lack the progressive credibility they have been promoting about themselves. That belongs to Jack Layton and the NDP team and the impressive BC caucus of the party.

We have seen the Canadian electorate brutally punish a political party once before in recent memory. During the era of majority governments in Canada, the voters revoked 167/169 seats from the Progressive Conservative party in 1993. In our post-majority era now, Ignatieff’s weak campaign leads to a credible possibility that when they finish counting the votes in BC, where we will determine the result of the election, we could have another Conservative minority with fewer seats than in the last parliament, and an NDP opposition with more seats than the Liberals.

And since parliament just recently fired Harper, I see only one way for an opposition party to give Harper a chance to form a government before Layton does: if the Liberal party formalizes is previously passive coalition with Harper. Or Harper’s successor, and Ignatieff’s successor since Harper’s third failure to get a majority and Ignatieff’s loss of official opposition would end their era as party leaders.

But a warning:

Yesterday we saw spectacular turnouts and long lines at many advance polls across the country. We also saw some low turnout at some polls. I am eager to interpret that as another signal of this democratic rebirth in the nation that I so desire, but I’ve been burned by this once already.

Before the 2009 election in BC I optimistically but incorrectly interpreted seriously high turnout in advanced polls as both a resurgence in democratic participation because of almost a decade of anti-social abuse by the BC Liberal government and a connected rejection of that abuse setting up an NDP win. That didn’t happen. In fact, voter turnout hit a record low in 2009 for a BC election.

And while Werner Heisenberg may have noted that the high turnout may have led to some complacency among progressive voters leading to them not showing up to vote on election day, that is not much to embrace for much credibility.

So my warning is that regardless of how advanced polls have high turnouts or not, we cannot allow ourselves to read anything into it as a predictor of May 2’s results. We still need to get out the vote. All we may be able to conclude from any high turnouts in advanced polls is that lots of people want to vote early.

So advanced polls opened yesterday, they open again today and Monday. We can vote on election day on May 2, but we can also vote any day at our riding’s returning office until Tuesday. Check Elections Canada for locations.

And regardless of how the polling goes for the next several days, do your job of looking for more evidence of a rebirth of democratic participation in Canada, and if you live in a riding where a candidate refuses to show up to an all-candidates meeting, punish their contempt for democracy by voting against them.

Stephen Harper Put the CON in #CONtempt

It is critical to remember during these last 13 days of the federal election campaign that Stephen Harper is not our champion of democracy.

Say what you will about his policies, but his process is abhorrent and contemptuous.

I really don’t have a lot of time to go into all of the examples of this, but here a few to remember [ok, 22] when it comes time to vote against this practitioner of the not-so-subtle art of soft fascism, especially when Africans and Middle Easterners are dying [literally] to get the right to vote.

Start by murmuring a “contempt” mantra to yourself:

  1. Harper skipped Remembrance Day last year because he had a G20 meeting.
  2. Harper likes to send troops to war, but he neglects them when they get home.
  3. Harper initially tried to change the name of the “Government of Canada” to “Canada’s New Government.”
  4. Harper lately tried to change the name of the “Government of Canada” to “The Harper Government.”
  5. Harper rarely met with the press.
  6. Harper concentrated message control so much that ministers and civil servants couldn’t communicate to the press without rare prior approval.
  7. Harper illegally transferred money in and out of ridings around the country to get around election campaign laws; this is called the In and Out Scandal.
  8. Harper appointed senators when he said he’d transform it into an elected body, then he had his unelected senators kill Canada’s climate bill which was voted for by the majority of the elected House of Commons.
  9. Harper once gave 17 minutes email notice for a press availability.
  10. Harper takes only 5 questions each day on the campaign trail.
  11. Harper used RCMP officers to eject students from campaign rallies after political staffers deemed them unfriendly.
  12. Everything at Shit Harper Did and Shit Harper Said.
  13. Harper refused to allow the government to provide documents relating to whether the Canadian government is complicit in torture in Afghanistan.
  14. Harper misled parliament regarding the cost of the F35 jets, because THE PURCHASE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE THE ENGINES! I am not joking.
  15. Harper prorogued parliament the first time to avoid a non-confidence motion on his horrible recession budget. While this is perfectly legal, there is a political price to pay for its use. This is that price being paid now.
  16. Harper prorogued parliament a second time to help him with #13 above. He is paying the price for that now too.
  17. Harper was the first prime minister in the world history of parliamentary democracy to be voted in contempt of parliament by the House of Commons.
  18. Harper considers dialogue about democracy to be bickering.
  19. In the 2008 campaign, Harper’s staff ordered the RCMP to stop reporters from asking him questions.
  20. Most Conservative candidates have spent the decade avoiding most all-candidates meetings.
  21. Harper thinks some elections are unnecessary.
  22. Days ago, a Conservative staffer/volunteer [depending on which party statement you believe] tried to confiscate a ballot box at Guelph.
  23. And there are still 13 days left in the campaign…

OK, this list is just off the top of my head. Think about it. ANYone, but Harper.

And if you don’t want to follow my advice, try listening to Margaret Atwood’s and Lester Pearson’s granddaughter.

In the end, it’s all about contempt. What kind of co-dependent doormat of a country would want this man and this party to be in charge.