Let’s have democracy

December 11, 2008

The following letter to the Editor was written by an acquaintance, Fred Schneider. It was published in The Mississauga News on December 9th, where some of it was cut  in their editing.  Fred’s excellent letter is posted here in its entirety, unedited, with  his kind permission:

Let’s have democracy

Re: Crisis/opportunity on Parliament Hill

Unhappy again not to be able to rule Canada on behalf of his friends (who, by the way, were instrumental in the worldwide “economic crisis” in the first place) – instead of governing for the people of Canada – he started the same tactic of blackmailing the opposition into either “causing” another election – which Mr. Harper hopes would give him a majority – or to accept his conservative rule by minority.

However, this time Mr. Harper bet on the wrong stock, so to speak. The opposition had enough of his games with Canadian voters and they united to use their legal avenues to call his bluff.

I hope that Canadians will finally see behind Mr. Harper’s manipulations of parliament. After all, more than 60% of voters do not support Mr. Harper or the Conservatives.

Let’s finally have a government by the people for the people! It’s called Democracy.
This crisis was deliberately caused by Mr. Harper and/or his advisors.

Ever since the 2006 election Mr. Harper was unhappy with his minority government, and time and time again he deliberately(!) provoked the opposition into “causing” another election with confidence issues he knew could or would not be supported by the opposition.

Mr. Harper also knew, as probably most Canadians did, that the Liberals were in no position to take the blame for another election and had to either support conservative policies or abstain from voting on those issues.

When that tactic did not work Mr. Harper called another unnecessary(!) election for October 2008 in which he achieved another similar minority government

Fred Schneider
Mississauga, Ontario

Visit Fred Schneider’s homepage: http://home.ica.net/~fresch/index.htm

The Harper Record unmasked

September 23, 2008

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has just released The Harper Record, the most detailed and comprehensive analysis of the record of the Harper government yet released.

It is very impressive, containing detailed analyses of their performance in all policy areas, including the Harper government’s own raison d’etre, crime policy. It also includes an overview of Harper’s background. I strongly recommend checking it out.

“The Harper government’s policies are moving our country backwards towards the vision of society, the role of the government, and the nature of the federation reminiscent of the 1920s.”

“What becomes clear … is that the Conservatives are committed to a market-driven world economy and that Harper is not committed to national democratic or multilateral institutions… For Harper the only international relationship that matters is the one between Canada and the United States.”

To read or purchase the complete publication visit:


Sign Up for Fall 2008 Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, Southern Ontario, October 17-22, 2008

September 18, 2008

Join the Fall 2008 Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, Southern Ontario, October 17-22, 2008

Join a nonviolent community on wheels for part or all of our journey as we travel through dozens of communities in a large triangular area — Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo to London (via Punkeydoodle’s Corners), then through Tillsonburg, Simcoe and Welland, up through Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Hamilton and Mississauga — October 17-22.

There will be lots of street theatre, dialogue, public education, and more as we expose and challenge the many ways in which the Canadian government is increasingly involved, both directly and indirectly, in policies and practices that result in the torture of human beings.

Among the many participants will be three Canadians tortured overseas with Canadian government complicity: Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin. They will be continuing to press for full disclosure of the role Canadian officials played in their detention, interrogation, and torture. An inquiry tasked with looking into their cases has barred them, their lawyers, the press, and the public from entry, and has been held in complete secrecy.

Unable to attend the Caravan will be Syrian refugee Hassan Almrei, who during the caravan will be marking seven years of detention without charge (almost all of it in solitary confinement) because of secret “allegations” neither he nor his lawyers are allowed to challenge under the so-called security certificate regime. He, like the others held under the certificates — Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub, Mohamed Harkat, and Adil Charkaoui — is fighting deportation to torture.

They represent but a handful of the many human rights violations the Canadian government continues to engage in.

To find out more background information, view a three-minute youtube piece from the spring caravan, and learn how to get involved, please go to this site:

If you plan on taking part in part or all of the caravan, please let us know as soon as possible so we can arrange transportation, billeting, and more: tasc@web.ca, (416) 651-5800

If you cannot take part but would like to contribute to our costs, cheques can be made out to Homes not Bombs and mailed to PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0 (put caravan in memo portion of cheque)


Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
A fully-realized subsidiary of the Homes not Bombs direct action network

Privatization and the election

September 13, 2008

PRIVATIZATION IN MANY FORMS LOOMS AS POTENTIAL ELECTION ISSUE, by Ish Theilheimer.  Another public service nightmare story could galvanize debate.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS BREAKDOWN, by Peter Nowak, CBC News.  Consumer groups say government deregulation without adequate protection for customers was a serious mistake.

ELECTION PROMISE MADE TO RESTORE COURT CHALLENGES PROGRAM, by NUPGE.  Liberals pledge to revive program cancelled by Harper Conservatives in 2006.

THIS FALL, VOTE FOR MEDICARE, by CUPE.  Harper government not collecting needed data nor enforcing rules.  Http://www.publicvalues.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=00147

NEW BRUNSWICK WATCHDOGS KEYING IN ON P3 NURSING HOMES DEAL, by Daniel McHardie, Telegraph-Journal.  Ombudsman, Auditor General to launch review of contract struck between provincial government and Shannex Inc. http://www.publicvalues.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=00145

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CITY LEASES PUBLIC ASSETS TO PRIVATE INVESTORS?  By Susan Chandler, Chicago Tribune.  Owners have more latitude to raise prices.

PRIVATIZATION OF TEXAS STATE SERVICES A “SLOW-MOTION DISASTER”, by The Houston Chronicle.  Audit shows management problems continue five years later.

WHO IS THIS TROUBLESOME ‘FANNIE MAE’ PERSON, ANYWAY?  By Robert Kuttner, Huffington Post.  The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), now privatized, began life as a US government institution.

Partners backing PublicValues.ca include National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), Ontario Secondary School Teachers (OSSTF), the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

PublicValues.ca needs you as part of this partnership.  You can donate to support our work at http://www.straightgoods.ca/Sales/SGStore.cfm?Dept=Donations

Thank you from PublicValues.ca!

Harper’s secret review of Canada Post

September 12, 2008

This latest insidious move by the Harper government should be of grave concern to Canadians who care about the egalitarian system of our mail delivery by Canada Post. Harper has been secretly trying to dismantle our mail delivery system and put it into private, corporate hands, where profit is the bottom line. Rural and remote areas would be especially hard hit and left without uniform, affordable postal service. To find out more, read this info from ViveleCanada.ca.

This is another example of how much effort Stephen Harper is putting into the dismantling and privatization of our Canadian institutions in order to further his goal of full integration with the U.S.

Over the next few months, our Conservative federal government is conducting a review that will determine the future of universal, public postal service. This review is pretty much a secret review and it could be very bad news for rural communities.

The government’s review will look at three very basic and important questions: What postal services should people receive? Who should provide them? And should Canada Post continue to have an exclusive privilege to handle addressed letters or should the letter market be open for competition?

Anyone who thinks that a little competition never hurt anyone might want to take a closer look at how our postal system actually works. Canada Post has an exclusive privilege to handle letters so that it is able to generate enough money to provide affordable postal service to everyone, no matter where they live.

While the exclusive privilege isn’t often discussed, most people seem to like what it does. In fact, ninety-one percent of respondents to an Angus Reid poll said universal postal service at a uniform rate is one of the really great things about Canada Post.

Unfortunately, our popular and egalitarian one-price goes anywhere service could disappear. If the government decides to eliminate our post office’s exclusive privileges as a result of its review, Canada Post would almost certainly face a downward spiral. Private sector competitors would focus on profitable areas and services, leaving unprofitable parts to our public post office. With fewer profits, Canada Post would find it increasingly difficult – and eventually impossible – to provide uniform and affordable service, especially in rural and remote parts of the country.


Read rest of the article here.

Oppose the commercialization of the CBC

September 7, 2008

Tell Stephen Harper you oppose the commercialization of CBC:

One week after CBC management turned its back on loyal audience members by banishing classical music on Radio Two from peak listening times, we stand on the brink of an election that could be pivotal for CBC.

Our Prime Minister — the man who appointed the current CBC President — holds disturbing views about CBC, which he expressed in the run-up to the 2004 election:

“I’ve suggested that government subsidies in support of CBC’s services should be to those things that are not… Do not have commercial alternatives…When you take a look at things like main-English language television and probably to a lesser degree Radio Two, you could there (sic) at putting those on a commercial basis.”

During the past two and a half years as Prime Minister, Mr. Harper has done little to disavow these words.

I believe the hostility toward public broadcasting in these comments helps to explain why Mr. Harper’s hand-picked leadership at CBC seems intent on destroying Radio Two as a service distinct from commercial radio.

And I fear the changes we’ve seen on Radio Two this past week are only the beginning. Ads on CBC Radio may well be next, unless we act immediately.

I hope you will join with me in writing to Prime Minister Harper to ask that he disavow his earlier comments.

Using FRIENDS online action centre, you will quickly and easily be able to send a message to Prime Minister Harper that will also be copied to CBC’s President, the CBC Board of Directors and the opposition party leaders. You can send a template message we have prepared, although it would be much more effective if you take a moment to personalize it.

Even if you have already sent a letter to the CBC Board about changes to Radio Two, I encourage you to send a message to Stephen Harper. There is no better time than an election to speak out to political leaders. After all, they are looking for ways to win our votes. So, this is the best time to urge the Prime Minister to back off.

Please send your message today. It’s vital that we act now so that both Stephen Harper and his hand-picked CBC Board get the message loud and clear!


Ian Morrison

Ian Morrison
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting

P.S. FRIENDS has placed a 3rd large ad in today’s Globe Mail. View it here.

Listeriosis toll grows, number of food inspectors shrinks

August 27, 2008

One of the key initiatives of neo-liberalism and the so-called “Washington consensus” is massive deregulation. It is often couched as “self-regulation” – the notion that we hand over more and more regulation to the companies that we used to regulate through government agencies. It is notoriously ineffective and in combination with huge cuts to the number of regulators still employed by government, it means that the public is at ever-greater risk from a wide variety of threats. The listeriosis outbreak has led to twelve deaths with more added every few hours. At the same time as our most vulnerable citizens are dying or getting extremely ill, a whistle blower has revealed that things are about to get worse: food safety will be put increasingly in the hands of firms like Maple Leaf which is already cutting corners. In addition, the union representing food safety inspectors has stated that the Harper government has also slashed the number of inspectors still working. This government plans to further deregulate food safety, right at the time when a dozen people – and counting – have died from tainted meat.

So what can we Canadians do?

As a start, write a letter demanding the government: 1) hold a public inquiry into the listeriosis outbreak and its causes, 2) abandon plans for so-called self-regulation of the food industry and 3) increase the budget for inspections to a level that guarantees the safety of Canadians.

I am in the process of doing this.

On the immediate personal level, I’ve gone through my fridge with a fine-tooth comb with the updated (long and growing) list in hand and threw out a couple of more items, just to be on the safe side. I seldom purchase processed meats, but a few occasionally do make it into the grocery basket. My elderly uncle who lives with me likes them. The updated list of tainted items is taped to my fridge door. It is several pages long and contains items most of us would not have associated with Maple Leaf foods. Deli meats and sausages from companies like Schneiders, Shopsy’s, Bittners, Burns and others. Who would have thought that these also came off the assembly lines at the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto?

A Star blogs Political Decoder was wondering the same thing in this post. Here is an excerpt:

Well, I guess JM Schneider has left the smokehouse. At Maple Leaf Foods, CEO MIchael McCain has apologized for the tainted meat related to the outbreak of listeriosis, saying his company will do better in future. Perhaps it’s time for advertisers to do better by giving consumers a break.

You’ve probably seen Schneiders’ folksy TV ads that feature a smokehouse employee who says his wife always complains about the smell in this clothes – but, hey, that’s the price of quality. The ad is shot like an old-time news reel showing employees working together and the old man himself saying nothing but the best gets past him. Okay, nobody thinks it’s a genuine 1920s newsreel, but we do at least expect Schneiders meats come from a Schneiders plant where, in a modern age, employees show the same dedication as in the past. That’s the point of the ad: times change, dedication remains the same.

But no. We find out with this tainted meat scandal at least some of Schneiders meat comes off assembly lines at the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto. It’s the plant linked to meats contaminated with the listeria bacteria, with Schneiders products on the recall list.


Read this Political Decoder (Star blogs) post: Tainted meat at Maple Leaf: Where’s old man Schneider when you need him?

Read Star HealthZone article and related articles here: Tainted meat toll grows

Recalled products list as of August 25