Bringing down the Harper government…

December 6, 2008

This poignant piece written by Political Science professor James Laxer is in Straight Goods, Saturday, Dec. 6th.  Laxer’s sage advice is intended for Liberals and the NDP. But all Canadians, especially those who are brainwashed by the Harper government into believing that the coalition is bad for our country — and that Harper’s is the only ‘legitimate’ government — should also pay attention.

Bringing down the Harper government

Liberals, NDP, embarked on venture that is not for the faint of heart.

Dateline: Monday, December 01, 2008

by James Laxer

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries/
such a full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.

The Liberals ought to heed these words as they move forward to topple the Harper government. If, instead, they hesitate and give in to their fears, they will hand Stephen Harper an enormous political victory.

If the Conservatives manage to salvage their hold on government, the retribution they will inflict on each of the opposition parties will be a terrible one.

Having committed a grave political blunder last week with its Economic Statement, the Harper government is desperately regrouping to try to regain control of the situation. Apparently they are in full retreat, but no one should be fooled.

The concessions being offered — backing away from slashing campaign funding for political parties, dropping the assault on the right of civil servants to strike, and moving forward the date of the budget — are all designed to convince faint hearted Liberals that they should abandon the idea of defeating the government and installing a new ministry in which they will hold the key positions.

If the Conservatives manage to salvage their hold on government, the retribution they will inflict on each of the opposition parties will be a terrible one. Stephen Harper does not deal well with what he interprets as public humiliation. Here’s a guy who can’t even attend the annual Press Gallery dinner in Ottawa because he’d have to lampoon himself and people might laugh at him. Lacking a sense of humour, which means a sense of proportion, he is not well-suited to political life in a democracy where give and take is of the essence.

The only thing this man understands is conquest, which is why even the members of his own party don’t really like him. If the Liberals decide to let Harper wriggle out of this one, they will have exchanged the substance of victory for a Pyrrhic victory.

Making a coalition work will not be easy for either the Liberals or the NDP. What will unite them though is that they are on the same side of the fence when it comes to the need for a serious stimulus package to cope with the economic crisis.

Oddly enough, keeping the Bloc onboard may prove to be not so challenging. The Bloc will claim credit for the portion of the stimulus package that goes to Quebec, and they will be rid of Harper’s noxious agenda on culture, crime and gun control, an agenda that Quebeckers hate with a passion.

The Liberals, NDP and the Bloc can either hang together or they will hang separately.

They cannot play this game again. If they were to unite to topple the Conservatives further into the mandate of this parliament, Harper would have a much better chance of talking the Governor General into granting him a dissolution and a new election.

This is it guys.

If the opposition fails to defeat the government and install a new one, Harper will exercise complete control for the next couple of years. The opposition parties will be stuck with Flaherty’s budget at the end of January, which is virtually certain to fall short of what the country needs in terms of economic stimulus. Do they really want to place the fate of Canadians in the hands of a man whose first plan for coping with the economic crisis included selling the CN Tower?

This may not have been the way the Liberals wanted to return to government. But it’s a good way. If they perform effectively in office for the next two years, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc will be well positioned for the next election. And, it will be the Conservatives who will fall prey to infighting. If the Conservative government falls, the campaigns to replace Harper as leader will be well underway by Christmas.

The united power of the opposition parties has been demonstrated to great effect over the past few days. They occupy the high ground and the only thing that stands in their way is their own self-doubt.

PS I know the speech at the top of this post was delivered by Brutus, who came to a bad end. Shakespeare had a way of having even his doomed characters give voice to enduring truths.

James Laxer is a Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto. His published books include Decline of the Superpowers; False God: How the Globalization Myth Has Impoverished Canada; The Undeclared War: Class Conflict in the Age of Cyber Capitalism; the national bestseller, Stalking the Elephant: My Discovery of America; and the award-winning Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism.

Harper is a neo-conservative ideologue, obsessed with power and his own sense of self importance. He is contemptuous of Canada and a stalwart member of neo-con right-wing groups, closely linked to their U.S. counterparts. This group’s insidious agenda is not what most Canadians envision for our country. Conservative Canadians who believe that Harper’s party represents them and the country have been duped by his relentless divisive propaganda aided and abetted by the cowed media and pundits. If these Canadians remove their blinders, they will see the ‘real’ Stephen Harper and get a glimpse of what he has in store for us in the coming year. They will see that Harper’s plans for the direction of our country are far different from that of mainstream Canadians, regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum.. It is imperative that Canadians of all political persuasion unite for the good of our country.

Pertinent Links:

Council of Canadians

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein’s website and book


Jack Layton’s costly mistake (post updated)

September 10, 2008

I have been a loyal member of the New Democratic Party for several years and very supportive of the hard work of our leader, Jack Layton. However, these past few days my loyalty has been severely tested, due to Layton’s alignment with Stephen Harper on excluding the Green Party’s leader Elizabeth May from the televised leaders’ debates.

Whatever possessed Jack Layton to side with Harper on this? Excluding Elizabeth May from these debates speaks volumes about the Old Boys Club in Ottawa.  When did Layton become a member?  Are these men  afraid to let a strong, outspoken woman debate our country’s issues with them?

Since I am very active in the community, I hear the same views expressed by many people, including those ‘fence-sitters’ who are seriously considering casting their vote for the NDP.  This latest action by Layton has just lost those voters and may prove to be a very costly mistake.

I am appalled by these actions of my party’s leader and have written letters urging Jack Layton to admit his error in judgment, apologise to Ms. May and speak out to allow her to be included in the debates. Our country faces uncertain times and important issues that transcend divisive partisan politics. In order to restore his credibility; the confidence of large segments of his own party; and for democracy to be served, I hope that Layton listens to the grass roots of his party and publicly reverses his misogynist stance.

Let Elizabeth Speak! Demand Democratic Debates!

**UPDATE: Canada Votes – Election 2008

It seems that Jack Layton paid attention to the grass roots of his own party and backed down on excluding Elizabeth May in the televised leaders’ debates. So that leaves Stephen Harper as the ‘lone ranger’ stubbornly sticking to his stance. I don’t think the Progressives in his party are impressed.

And I still think that Jack Layton should publicly apologise to Ms. May.

Read this article in the Edmonton Sun: Layton backs down on blocking May from debates

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jack Layton has backed down in his opposition to having Green party Leader Elizabeth May participate in the federal leaders debates.

Layton says the issue has “become a distraction” and he does not want to continue “debating about the debate.”

“As long as Stephen Harper takes part, I don’t care who else is on the stage,” he said Wednesday on his campaign bus in the Toronto area.

Layton came under fire from his own supporters after saying May, who is closely linked with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, had no place at the table.

The five-network consortium that runs the debates — CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV, Global and TVA — has said some leaders threatened to boycott the events if May was included.

It was later revealed that Layton and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had threatened the boycott.

May said now that just one leader opposes her participation, there’s no reason to exclude her.


Read rest of this article here.

Melting glaciers and climate change – video

August 8, 2008
Melting glaciers and climate change

See the video and photos now.

NDP MP takes strong stand against unethical weapons

June 15, 2008

Thanks to the tireless Alfred Lambremont Webre for posting this on his NUCLEAR FREE ZONE (on the peaceinspace blogs) and sending it out to the Peace list:

PARLIAMENT OF CANADA: NDP MP TAKES STRONG STAND AGAINST UNETHICAL WEAPONS – BC Southern Interior MP tabled a motion on abolishing depleted uranium arms

JUNE 12, 2008

BC Southern Interior MP tabled a motion on abolishing depleted uranium arms

OTTAWA – NDP MP Alex Atamanenko (BC Southern Interior) – tabled a motion (M-509) on Wednesday calling on the government to take a leading role in helping to abolish the use of depleted uranium (DU) in armaments and munitions. The motion also calls for the government to cease the deployment of our military and civilian personnel in regions where these weapons have been or will be used.

“The Canadian government must take strong and decisive action to help rid the world of this environmental and toxic health hazard. Long lasting and often deadly effects on soldiers and innocent civilians alike have been well documented,” said Atamanenko. “Our military does not use depleted uranium weapons and we should not be deploying our soldiers to fight with armies who do.”

Atamanenko’s motion comes on the heels of a far-reaching resolution that was passed on May 22, 2008, by the European Parliament towards an EU and NATO-wide moratorium and global ban.

Atamanenko says depleted uranium weapons, much like cluster bombs and landmines, have an indiscriminate effect on civilian populations long after they are used in combat. He suggests this runs counter to the basic rules and principles that are already enshrined in international, humanitarian and environmental laws. Currently there are 18 countries that use depleted uranium weapons in their arsenals. Under international law they are considered weapons of mass destruction. Statutes and regulations under the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) prohibit the use of Canadian uranium in DU weapons.

“It is unacceptable that we would contravene our own laws and agreements by failing to ensure that our uranium is only used for peaceful purposes. I’m deeply concerned about the dangers of depleted uranium, and I strongly support my colleague, Alex Atamanenko’s motion,” added NDP Defence Critic, Dawn Black (Burnaby New Westminster)


For more information:

Office of Alex Atamanenko, MP
1- 613-996-8036

Status of House Business
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
M-509 – Mr. Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) — Depleted uranium weapons — Notice — June 10, 2008

M-509 — June 10, 2008 — Mr. Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adhere to paragraph 1 of the United Nations (UN) Resolution A/RES/62/30 and submit a report including views on the effects of the use of armaments and ammunition containing depleted uranium; (b) cease all deployment of military and civilian personnel in regions where uranium weapons have been, might have been, will be or might be used within the framework of future operations; (c) provide full information to military and civilian personnel on mission, as well as to professional organizations, about the probability that depleted uranium has been or might be used in their region of operation and to take sufficient protection measures; (d) fully support the establishment of an environmental inventory of depleted uranium contaminated areas, according to the specifications of paragraph 6 of a May 22, 2008, European Union resolution and include financial support for clean-up operations of affected areas; (e) call on all countries to abolish the use of depleted uranium weapons, and systematically halt production and procurement of this type of weaponry; (f) take a leading role in working, through the UN, towards an international treaty establishing a ban on the development, production, stockpiling, transfer, testing and use of uranium weapons as well as the destruction or recycling of existing stocks; and (g) forward this resolution through the Prime Minister to NATO, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the UN and the UN Environmental Programme, the European Organization of Military Associations, the International Community of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization.

United Nations (UN) Resolution A/RES/62/30


Statement by NDP MP about banning depleted uranium wmd

June 7, 2008

CANADA: Statement by Member of Canadian Parliament (New Democratic Party) “to ensure that depleted uranium weapons of mass destruction are banned forever”.


Wednesday, June 5, 2008

Depleted Uranium

Mr. Alex Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior, NDP): Mr. Speaker, last year the United Nations First Committee passed a resolution urging member states to re-examine the health hazards posed by the use of uranium weapons.

Belgium has banned the use of uranium in all conventional weapon systems. However, at least 18 countries, including the U.S., use depleted uranium in their arsenals. They are considered weapons of mass destruction under international law.

According to a Canada-U.S. agreement, Canadian uranium exports may only be used for peaceful purposes. However, according to Dr. Douglas Rokke, a U.S. Army research scientist, and others, Canada provides raw uranium to the U.S. and other countries for processing. The resulting depleted uranium is then used in weapons.

One only has to watch the documentary film Beyond Treason to see the devastating effects of these weapons in countries such as Iraq.

I call upon our government to undertake every measure possible to ensure that depleted uranium weapons of mass destruction are banned forever.


To express your support, please contact:

MP Alex Atamanenko (NDP)
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Telephone: (613) 996-8036
Fax: (613) 943-0922

Toronto CDPI AGM in NOW Magazine

April 14, 2008

I am a longtime member of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative (CDPI) and head of its new Brampton Chapter. We had our 2008 AGM in Toronto on the weekend of April 4-6. It was energizing and uplifting to see all our supporters, especially the following politicians: in my riding of Brampton-Springdale MP (Liberal) Dr. Ruby Dhalla, Etobicoke Centre MP (Liberal) Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Trinity-Spadina MP (NDP) Olivia Chow, and the Leader of the Green Party of Canada Elizabeth May. The empty chair on the stage at Friday evening’s opening meeting at The Church of the Holy Trinity for Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier was a stark symbol of the ruling Conservative Party’s lack of interest in our initiative. However, I just heard back from my colleague Rob Acheson of the Toronto CDPI chapter that he has met with Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation and CIDA, Colin Carrie (Oshawa), Mike Wallace (Burlington) and David Sweet (Hamilton). Rob is diligently working on meeting with more Conservative MPs and hopefully inroads will be made.

For more about our AGM, please read this article in NOW Magazine:

Getting past the petty

We can’t make peace our foreign policy till pols stop political blood sport
Andrew Cash

Loath as I am to admit it, music alone won’t change our war-making ways.

That’s why the April 4 all-party (except the governing one) panel kicking off a conference the next day promoting the idea of a Canadian Department of Peace at Friends House on Lowther is such a tonic.


Read rest of this article here.

Listen to these NOW audio clips:

Saul Arbess, National Co-Chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative talks about the mandate and the roll of a minister of peace:

Bill Bhaneja, National Co-Chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative talks about disarmament after the end of the Cold War:

Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj talks about the difficulties big tent national parties have in moving an agenda like this forward:

Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj talks further about the importance of speaking with MP’s who have made decisions, like supporting Afghanistan, and showing them ways of changing those decisions:

Integrate This! SPP Watch Update

February 16, 2008

SPP Watch

SPP WATCH makes the links between daily news items, new government initiatives and the ongoing Security and Prosperity Partnership talks between Canada, Mexico and the United States. As well as regular SPP updates, we will continue to post new reports, interviews and multimedia presentations critical of what is sometimes called the “deep integration” of North America. The site is updated regularly so visit often.

Here’s what went up on Integrate This! in the past week:

Federal NDP proposes motion to disclose SPP working group activity to Parliament
On February 12, NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian tabled a motion in the House of Commons that would ensure Parliament was consulted on the activities of the more than 20 Security and Prosperity Partnership working groups currently harmonizing all manner of Canadian policies with U.S. standards.(more…)

Tar sands a toxic disaster, says Environmental Defence
Environmental Defence, a national organization that works with citizens, decision-makers and businesses on environmental issues, released a report today in Ottawa slamming the federal government for its inaction and indifference to Canadian laws designed to protect our health, safety and environment from large-scale industrial projects. (more…)

RCMP addicted to spying on anything that moves
As if we needed another reminder that the RCMP is ill-equipped to handle national security investigations, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart released the results of an audit yesterday that slammed the police force’s exempt databases, which are bursting with information on the unlikeliest of people. (more…)

Model water act won’t float
While it’s refreshing to see the Globe and Mail call for regulation of interbasin freshwater removals, the Munk Centre’s Model Water Act touted in Monday’s editorial fails to explain how this may be achieved under our existing trade and constitutional arrangements. (more…)

Don’t buy the biofuel craze
Public pressure is forcing governments to get serious about environmental protection. One area of particular concern is the global economy’s reliance on dirty fossil fuels – a primary source of greenhouse gas emissions. With the phenomenon of “peak oil” looming in our near future, the race is on for cheap energy alternatives. (more…)

Senate renews security certificate by clearing Bill C-3
Late yesterday, the Senate cleared Bill C-3, an act to re-legislate the security certificate process, which was found to be unconstitutional a year ago by the Supreme Court.

An “Amero” for your thoughts? Canadian dollar, regulations a “barrier” to integration, says Woodrow Wilson Center report
When the National Post feels strongly about an issue it doesn’t hold back. There were three – count-em, three – op-eds in today’s paper advocating deeper North American integration, including the possibility of a common currency across the continent.

David Emerson: Our man in Afghanistan, or is that Washington?
If the Harper-appointed Manley panel stacked with pro-integration business types didn’t convince you that the Afghanistan mission is about trade rather than democracy then perhaps Stephen Harper’s new Cabinet Committee and Task Force will do the trick.

Walrus article attacks the continentalist climate criminals
Relying on the “Security and Prosperity Partnership” google news alert for updates is kind of like fishing. Sometimes you hook a prize-winner, like this article on the recent Mexican anti-NAFTA protests by Katie Kohlstedt, or a recent news hit on the NDP’s anti-SPP tour out of the University of Calgary’s Gauntlet magazine.

For more information on the SPP, please visit