A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Week That Was, Secrecy, Lies & Rising up

I may be totally depressed by the futility of trying to effect change using our first past the post voting system and the total lack of any indication that any of the incumbent partys will do anything to change it, but unlike far to many of our citizens I have not gone blind and deaf to the Harper regimes shenanigans. Read on:-

So much for fiscal responsibility

The Harper government has quietly approved increases in the maximum salaries political staffers are entitled to receive. In addition, suddenly out-of-work staffers could find the blow considerably cushioned if the Tories lose the election. That's because the government has also approved a 50-per-cent increase in the maximum separation pay political aides can receive — up to six months from four — and that's on top of severance pay.........
That means a chief of staff to a senior minister is now classified as anywhere from an EX-02 (maximum salary of $131,000) to an EX-04 (maximum $168,000). A director is classified as EX-02, a press secretary or policy adviser as AS-08 ($102,000), a senior special assistant as AS-07 ($96,000) and support staff as up to AS-05 ($78,000).

More secret plans emerging
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been working on a secret project to build a $2-million government-controlled media centre, a newspaper reported Monday. The Toronto Star obtained documents through the Access to Information Act that show the plan, code-named the Shoe Store Project, has been in the works for a year........
According to documents, the new centre could give the government control over which journalists attend news conferences. The government would also have the ability to do its own filming at the events, and could provide the footage to journalists, instead of letting them film the events themselves, the Star reported.

G8 expenditures illegal?
The Harper government misinformed Parliament to win approval for a $50-million G8 fund that lavished money on dubious projects in a Conservative riding, the auditor general has concluded.
And she suggests the process by which the funding was approved may have been illegal.
The findings are contained in a confidential report Sheila Fraser was to have tabled in Parliament on April 5........ a Jan. 13 draft of the chapter on the G8 legacy infrastructure fund was obtained by a supporter of an opposition party and shown to The Canadian Press.
The draft reveals that a local “G8 summit liaison and implementation team” — Industry Minister Tony Clement, the mayor of Huntsville, and the general manager of Deerhurst Resort which hosted the summit — chose the 32 projects that received funding. It says there was no apparent regard for the needs of the summit or the conditions laid down by the government.

More lies and spin.
Canada's auditor general has rebuked the Conservatives for recycling an unrelated quote by her about a previous Liberal government's security spending in a parliamentary report on the costs of the G8/G20 summits in Toronto last summer.........
The report quoted the auditor general as saying: “We found that the processes and controls around that were very good, and that the monies were spent as they were intended to be spent.” But in a scathing letter addressed to members of a Commons committee on Friday, which was received by the clerk and members on Monday, Fraser said the quote had nothing to do with the summits.
Instead, she said, the Conservatives inserted an 2010 comment she made during a CBC News interview on security spending by a previous Liberal government after the 9/11 terrorist attacks a decade ago. “The comments attributed to me in the [Conservative] report are completely unrelated to G8/G20 spending,” Fraser writes in her letter.“I would appreciate it if the report could be modified as it is clearly erroneous.”

And yet more lies
PARLIAMENT HILL – A Conservative House committee report that wrongly quoted Auditor General Sheila Fraser endorsing controls over $45.7-million the government spent on questionable projects at the G8 summit last year also takes a statement about security cost estimates for the G8 and G20 summits from Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page out of context.
The document suggests Mr. Page gave security costs for the summits a passing grade after they were held, when in fact the quotation the Conservatives attribute to him was plucked from a report on government estimates he prepared before the meetings were held last June.

Then there is outright electoral bribery
Two Conservatives have quit their own riding association in Vaughan north of Toronto, accusing incumbent candidate Julian Fantino and the Conservative government of handing $10 million in public funds to a private non-profit group involved in a major health-care development.
Richard Lorello, the local Conservative candidate in 2008, says he resigned because a federal grant, announced in March just before the election was called, is earmarked for the Vaughan Health Campus of Care (VHCC), which has two of Fantino's fundraisers as prime backers.

Blocking the student vote and challenging Elections Canada

Some 700 votes cast in a special advance ballot at the University of Guelph on Wednesday should not be counted, say the Conservatives.......
In a letter sent Thursday to the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, the party alleges (that ) The polling station was not sanctioned by Elections Canada......
The Conservative Party of Canada and its candidate for the Guelph riding, Marty Burke, “have a number of challenges and complaints with respect to the ballots now collected during this supposed polling event,” says the letter.......
But Elections Canada media adviser James Hale later told the Guelph Mercury that this is the third election in which the university has held a special ballot on campus. Hale also said this is the first time it’s ever been challenged.
“Part of our mandate is making the vote as accessible as possible. So we look at outreach programs,” he said. Hale said Election Canada often holds special polling stations for groups with traditionally lower voter turnouts, such as students, First Nations, seniors and the disabled.“It’s never been challenged, not to my knowledge,” he said.

Update re the above from Elections Canada.

While the initiative at the University of Guelph was not pre-authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, the Canada Elections Act provides that electors may apply for and vote by special ballot. A special ballot coordinator, appointed by the local returning officer, oversaw the activities at the University of Guelph. All information at our disposal indicates that the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act and are valid.

And yet the antidemocratic lobby wins

Elections Canada is ordering its returning officers not to set up any more ad hoc polling stations on university campuses. But the votes of University of Guelph students who participated in one of these special ballots will stand......
Elections Canada issued a statement Friday that reaffirms special ballots are to be used to assist electors like snowbirds or military personnel who cannot get to a regular polling station.
"Once Elections Canada officials were made aware of the local initiative in Guelph, the returning officer was instructed not to engage in any further activities of a similar nature," the statement says.
The University of Guelph vote was overseen by a special ballot coordinator and the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Elections Act, the statement says.

PLEASE NOTE - It is important to know that any elegable citizen can vote by 'special ballot' by filling out the form (as did the Guelph students ahead of time) and going to the local Elections Canada office set up to accept changes in address or voter information and which location will be shown on your voter card or by searching your riding at Elections Canada . Way to go for the 700 or so students who voted in the midst of their exam period at this special ballot and to the folks who organized it, the question is not whether it was legal but why other universities do not request similar special polls and why Elections Canada has now turned away from such initiatives.

And finally, perhaps too little too late, Mr Ignatieff get passionate about the above......

“We’ve got a prime minister who shut down parliament twice and Canadians kind of shrugged,” he said. “We’ve got a prime minister who’s found in contempt of parliament. It’s never happened before in the history of our country and people say, kind of, ‘So what?’ We got a prime minister who tried to shut down the long-form census and people thought, that’s crazy, but kind of, ‘So what?’ And then we have a prime minister who just went out and smeared a member of his own caucus, tried to destroy her public reputation, and people say, kind of, ‘So what?’”........
“And then we’ve got a prime minister who’s got a convicted criminal who was his chief of staff. Convicted five times of fraud and people say, kind of, ‘So what?’” ..........
“And then we’ve got a prime minister who’s got, right now, in his election campaign, four people accused of election fraud. And people say, ah, kind of, ‘So what?’ And then we’ve got a prime minister who allows only five questions to the press, the press are following him around, they only get five questions and if they ask six he walks away. And people say, kind of, ‘So what?’ And then we’ve got a situation where at Guelph university the other day, students lined up for two hours, some of them voting for the first time in their lives, to vote. And a Conservative operative tried to shut it down and stop it and some smart Conservative lawyer downtown tried to write a letter to get 700 votes by Canadian students disallowed in a federal election in Canada and people say, kind of, ‘So what, it’s just all political games, who cares?’”........
Rise up! Rise up!” he cried. “Why do we have to put up with this? Rise up! Rise up! … Rise up! This goes beyond partisan politics! This goes beyond the Liberal party! This is about our country! This is about our democracy! Rise up! Rise up!

Who cares? I do, and I hope a hell of a lot more Canadians who can see where another 'Conservative' government under Harper will take us will indeed rise up!

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1 comment:

Colette Amelia said...

I don't know if this helps but great post! I know how you feel...I am also feeling a lot of frustration that is settling into panic...I can't even imagine what kind of Country that will be left if this Ass gets in let alone heaven help us if he gets a majority!