Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Harper’

Stephen-Harper-in-jailAccording to the Canadian Press, “The prime minister’s chief of staff went to Stephen Harper for approval of a secret plan that would have seen the Conservative party repay Mike Duffy’s contested expenses and whitewash a Senate report, new RCMP documents suggest.”

According to the article by Jennifer Ditchburn and Steve Rennie, published today:

When the party balked at the ultimate total of Duffy’s $90,000 bill, however, Nigel Wright paid the bill himself — apparently without Harper’s knowledge. Harper has called that a “deception.”

But emails included in Wednesday’s new RCMP court filings quote Wright as getting a green light from Harper when the original plan was to have the party pay. The plan was to be kept secret.

“I do want to speak to the PM before everything is considered final,” Wright wrote in one February dispatch. An hour later, he followed up: “We are good to go from the PM…”

Despite the predictable denials of the Prime Minster and his staff, it is beginning to look like Mr. Harper was involved in a plot that would appear to any reasonable person to violate Criminal Code provisions that prohibit bribery of public office holders. Here is the section of the Criminal Code that seems to be applicable.

Bribery of judicial officers, etc.

119. (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years who

(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, directly or indirectly, corruptly accepts, obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for themselves or another person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by them in their official capacity, or

(b) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives or offers to a person mentioned in paragraph (a), or to anyone for the benefit of that person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by that person in their official capacity.

This new revelation is strongly reminiscent of the Cadman Affair. In 2005, the minority Liberal government of Paul Martin was in deep trouble. The Tories were intent on bringing them down, but the vote would be close. In Like a Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, Vancouver writer Tom Zytaruk told the story of attempts by Conservative Party officials to offer financial inducements to independent MP Chuck Cadman in return for his support in bringing down the Liberals. The Tories were unsuccessful in getting Cadman’s support. However, an interview with Stephen Harper conducted by Zytaruk makes it clear that Harper was aware of his Party’s efforts to buy Cadman’s vote.

Here is a transcript of this interview. You can listen to the Harper-Zytaruk interview here.

Zytaruk: “I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?”

Harper: “I don’t know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?”

Zytaruk: “This (inaudible) for the book. Not for the newspaper. This is for the book.”

Harper: “Um, I don’t know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind, he was going to vote with the Liberals and I knew why and I respected the decision. But they were just, they were convinced there was, there were financial issues. There may or may not have been, but I said that’s not, you know, I mean, I, that’s not going to change.”

Zytaruk: “You said (inaudible) beforehand and stuff? It wasn’t even a party guy, or maybe some friends, if it was people actually in the party?”

Harper: “No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don’t press him. I mean, you have this theory that it’s, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that’s what you’re saying, make that case but don’t press it. I don’t think, my view was, my view had been for two or three weeks preceding it, was that Chuck was not going to force an election. I just, we had all kinds of our guys were calling him, and trying to persuade him, I mean, but I just had concluded that’s where he stood and respected that.”

Zytaruk: “Thank you for that. And when (inaudible).”

Harper: “But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election.”

Zytaruk: “Oh, OK.”

Harper: “OK? That’s my understanding of what they were talking about.”

Zytaruk: “But, the thing is, though, you made it clear you weren’t big on the idea in the first place?”

Harper: “Well, I just thought Chuck had made up his mind, in my own view …”

Zytaruk: “Oh, okay. So, it’s not like, he’s like, (inaudible).”

Harper: “I talked to Chuck myself. I talked to (inaudible). You know, I talked to him, oh, two or three weeks before that, and then several weeks before that. I mean, you know, I kind of had a sense of where he was going.”

Zytaruk: “Well, thank you very much.”

In both cases, it appears that Mr. Harper was aware of plans by his Conservative Party associates to bribe a judicial office holder. In the most recent instance, he is said to have given the green light to a plan to pay Duffy off. In the former, he admitted that he knew about the plan to buy Cadman’s support.

Surely, by now there are grounds for criminal charges.


About these ads

There is no shortage of Stop Harper videos on YouTube. A recent YouTube search yielded 3,740 hits, and I’m sure one could find more with a more refined search. Ever since Brigette DePape interrupted the Speech from the Throne with her iconic stop sign, activists have been inspired to amplify the message in on placards, T-shirts and in song.

What follows is a rundown of videos I’ve shot in and around Winnipeg. I invite readers to share their favorites in the comments section.


Stop Harper . . . the musical

August 2, 2012: Stephen Harper was in Gimli to make political hay out of a pledge to commit $18 million to dealing with the environmental problems facing Lake Winnipeg. After gutting  environmental protection laws in Canada to make way for dirty oil pipeline megaprojects and cancelling funding to the Experimental Lakes Area, we doubted his sincerity.

Despite our best efforts, we never got to see Harper close-up. In fact, his security detail took great pains to ensure he did not have to engage with anyone either than party faithful and selected media. But we did come up with this great song . . .

Hey Harper #StopHarper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s political motto must be “so many people to annoy – so little time.” Whether it is gutting environmental protection laws, wasting money on fighter jets that no one else wants to buy, denying health care to refugees or shutting down Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote, Harper has been a disaster for Canada.

In this clip, Winnipeg’s renowned Flaming Trolleys Marching Band provide words and the rhythms that will be appreciated by any Canadian that is marching for democracy.

National Stop Harper Day in Winnipeg

Traditionally a day of celebration, Canada Day 2012 became National Stop Harper Day for Canadians in 12 cities because of the regressive policies of the Harper government, most notably Bill C-38. In Winnipeg, citizens held a Funeral for Canada in the Osborne Village neighbourhood, a display of activist art at the St. Norbert Arts Centre and a Vigil for Canada on the outskirts of The Forks National Historic Site.

Stop Cuts to Refugee Health Care in Canada

Winnipeg, June 18, 2012: Opposition to the Harper government’s plan to cut health care for refugees reverberated across Canada. Joining in a National Day of Action Against Refugee Health Cuts, about 500 Winnipeggers rallied at The Forks to hear from health care professionals and newcomers to Canada about the threats posed by Harper’s plans.

In this clip, Dr. Michael Dillon outlines the impressive line-up of opposition to these cuts, the outcomes of which, according to Canadian Doctors for Medicare, “could range from diabetics not getting their insulin, to children not receiving immunizations, to letting people succumb to heart attacks.”

Joyce has a choice! Let her hear your voice!

Conservative MP Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre) had a choice: stand up for the democratic rights of her constituents – and all Canadians – or vote for Bill C-38 – a draconian bill that included a budget which cuts a wide range of necessary services with amendments to over 70 existing laws. She chose the latter. By cramming all of these changes into an omnibus bill and rushing it through Parliament’s Finance Committee, Harper prevented MPs from examining and debating these measures in detail. Once again Harper showed his contempt for democracy.

In this clip, marchers gathered at Bateman’s constituency office to ask her to vote against Bill C-38.


July 1, 2012: National Stop Harper Day in Winnipeg. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Traditionally a day of celebration, Canada Day 2012 became National Stop Harper Day for Canadians in 12 cities because of the regressive policies of the Harper government, most notably Bill C-38.

In Winnipeg, citizens held a Funeral for Canada in the Osborne Village neighbourhood, a display of activist art at the St. Norbert Arts Centre and a Vigil for Canada on the outskirts of The Forks National Historic Site.

Naturally, I brought my camcorder.


June 9, 2012: Citizens opposed to Bill C-38 pause for a moment outside of Conservative MP Joyce Bateman’s Winnipeg South Centre office before continuing to distribute literature in the constituency. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Stephen Harper’s Bill C-38 continues to generate controversy and opposition across Canada. In Winnipeg, a group of citizens have joined Lead Now’s “13 Heroes” campaign that is aimed at convincing enough Conservative MPs across the country to force the Prime Minister to back down on his budget implementation bill. The focus in Winnipeg is on Conservative MP Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre).

C-38 is an omnibus bill that combines budgetary spending and cuts with amendments to over 70 pieces of existing legislation. Among the bill’s lowlights, it

  • repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and introduces a weaker version
  • kills Canadian world-class science research centres, closing or selling the Experimental Lakes Area, The Cereal Research Centre at the University of Manitoba, marine & climate-monitoring programs
  • removes protection of endangered species and their habitat, when approving pipeline projects, by amending the Species at Risk Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act
  • guts the Fisheries Act by removing provisions for habitat protection
  • repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
  • eliminates the National Round Table on Environment and Economy
  • repeals the Fair Wages Act
  • reforms Old Age Security by raising the age of eligibility for the program
  • forces EI users to accept work that does not correspond to their training or customary salary

While Canadians and their MPs should debate the merits of these various measures, Harper will not allow this to happen. Because they have been stuffed into one Bill, these proposals will not get the individual attention they deserve. As you read this, the package is being rushed through one Parliamentary Committee — the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee is neither mandated nor equipped to assess the impacts of these wide-ranging amendments. Once again, Harper is showing his contempt for Canadians, for Parliament and for democracy itself.

Parliament may vote on Bill C-38 as soon as June 14th. The Opposition Parties are lined up to oppose the Bill, but with his majority, Harper will prevail unless we can convince some of his backbenchers to stop acting like sheep and listen to their constituents. Thirteen, to be precise. If thirteen Conservative MPs choose democracy, Harper can choose to back down or face an election.

On June 13, expect rallies outside of Conservative MPs offices. You can find out about the one nearest you here. If you live in Winnipeg, two events are planned:

Information picket in front of Joyce Bateman’s office (611 Corydon Avenue) from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Show up at three and you can help make picket signs.

Bill C-38 Dialogue Event, The University of Winnipeg, Room 2M70 (515 Portage Ave), from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

If you can’t make it, or abhor crowds, you can still remind Joyce Bateman that she has a choice. Contact her at

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone:  613-992-9475
Fax:  613-992-9586
Email:  Joyce.Bateman@parl.gc.ca

or

102-611 Corydon Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3L 0P3
Telephone: 204-983-1355
Fax: 204-984-3979

Finally, here’s a bit of video I recorded Saturday at Joyce Bateman’s office. But first, go to the kitchen and assemble your favorite noisemakers. Then play the video and chant:

“JOYCE HAS A CHOICE! LET HER HEAR YOUR VOICE!”



Lester B. Pearson has been dead for four decades, but his imagined legacy, that of international peacekeeper, remains one of the defining myths of the Canadian identity. Horrified by our murderous behavior in the occupation of Afghanistan and the bombings of Libya and the former Yugoslavia, the sainted memory of our 14th prime minister is resurrected by people who ought to know better to argue that war-making is not really a Canadian value, that we need to retake our traditional place in the global community as a progressive force for international co-operation, harmony and peace – that we must, again, assume the mantle of our revered Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mike Pearson.

Yves Engler‘s sixth book, Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt, was written to put an end to this nonsense. Canadian foreign policy continues to serve the interests of Canada’s corporate elite, and Pearson’s major contribution to this end was to shift Canadian allegiance from the declining British Empire to the emerging American one. With his peacekeeping fig leaf firmly in place, he backed some of the most murderous thugs of the 20th Century. As Noam Chomsky puts it in the preface to Engler’s book:

“Canada’s Nobel Peace Prize winner and eminent statesman, Lester Pearson was a major criminal, really extreme. He didn’t have the power to be like an American president, but if he had it, he would have been the same. He really tried.”

To encapsulate the book, Yves assembled a list of the “Top 10 things you don’t know about Canada’s most famous statesman, Lester B. Pearson.”

10. Asked in Parliament, he refused to call for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
9. He had Canada deliver weapons to the French to put down the Algerian and Vietnamese independence movements.
8. The Kennedy administration helped Pearson win his first minority government.
7. He incited individuals to destroy a peace group after it called for the outlawing of nuclear weapons.
6. Pearson backed the CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala.
5. He described the formation of NATO, not peacekeeping, as the “most important thing I participated in.”
4. Pearson threatened to quit as external affairs minister if Canada failed to deploy ground troops to Korea.
3. He agreed to have Canada’s representatives to the International Control Commission for Vietnam spy for the US and deliver their bombing threats to the North.
2. The world’s leading intellectual, Noam Chomsky, considers Lester Pearson a war criminal.
1. Stephen Harper’s foreign policy resembles that of Pearson more than any Liberal would ever admit.

Yves Engler was in Winnipeg on March 15, speaking at the Mondragon Bookstore and Coffee House. His appearance was sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg. Dwayne Crowe and I prepared this video report for Winnipeg Community Television.

Winnipeg, March 11, 2012: Winnipeggers rally outside of Tory MP Joyce Bateman's office demanding the federal government allow a full inquiry into the federal election robocall scandal. Photo: Paul S. Graham

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper undoubtedly wishes this issue would disappear, Canadians marched in more than two dozen cities today, demanding a full inquiry into the federal election robocall scandal. In Winnipeg, over 100 rallied at the corner of Osborne Street and River Avenue where organizer Josh Brandon expressed the sense of outrage that many Canadians feel about the undermining of Canada’s electoral system. Speakers Kevin Lamoureux (Liberal MP for Winnipeg North) and Judy Wasylycia-Leis (former NDP MP for the same riding) urged them to support an NDP-sponsored bill that would grant Elections Canada greater powers to investigate electoral fraud, including the more than 30,000 complaints filed by Canadians about the last federal election.

At the conclusion of the speeches, the demonstrators marched to the Winnipeg South Centre office of Tory MP Joyce Bateman, to present her with a petition regarding concerns about robocalls that were made to voters in that riding. In the previous election Bateman narrowly defeated the Liberal incumbent, Anita Neville.

Here is my video report.

The Problem

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Nibbling on The Empire
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Friends of Canadian Broadcasting continues to raise the alarm over threats to our nation’s public broadcaster and well they should. While Heritage Minister James Moore promised in May to maintain and expand support for the CBC, Tory antipathy to the CBC is well known. Recent initiatives, such as the petition by Tory MP Rob Enders to end CBC funding cast doubt on the Tory pledge to support the CBC. (His surname says it all, eh?)

Because Harper is a notorious control freak, no Tory backbencher who wanted to keep getting nominated would post a petition of this sort without his blessing. This has to be taken seriously.

The Friends have taken a humorous approach in their current attempt to awaken Canadians to the Tory threat. I hope it works.

Under Harper’s majority government, we are beginning to see the unraveling of Canada.

The next four years will be trying times for Canadians who do not want to see our society hideously disfigured. We will have to fight them every step of the way. Take a moment to see how you can begin this by supporting the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.


An open letter to Canada’s Prime Minister, Members of Parliament, and Senators, from a broad and diverse coalition of 46 organizations representing millions of Canadians -

Support Canadian Food, Canadian Farmers, and the Canadian Wheat Board

Bill C-18, if passed, will destroy the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).  Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has repeatedly stated that he will not recognize the plebiscite recently conducted by the CWB, in which results were clearly in favour of keeping the CWB as the sole marketing agent for prairie wheat and barley intended for human consumption.

The CWB was created by an Act of Parliament, and is run by a 15-member Board of Directors, ten of whom are elected by farmers.  The Wheat Board provides fair, equitable, reliable, and cost-effective services to farm families.  It provides stability in uncertain times, and is a foundation of Canada’s grain sector.

Ending the single desk authority of the CWB would throw western agriculture into turmoil and would transfer wealth created by Canadian farmers to big, private, often foreign-owned grain companies—money now returned to farmers, who spend it in their communities.  The Minneapolis Grain Exchange has already changed its rules to allow for speculation in futures contracts for Canadian wheat and barley—a move which will increase price volatility for purchasers without providing any benefit to farmers.

Canada’s political system is built on representative democracy.  This means that the law, not merely the person in power, is to be respected and followed.  The CWB Act is a law made by Parliament, and it requires a farmer vote before any substantive changes are made to the single desk authority.  Our current government is ignoring this law—refusing to hold the required vote—and moving to eliminate the requirement for a vote.  This is deeply concerning, as it strikes at the heart of our Canadian democracy.

We the undersigned:

  • Recognize the billions of dollars of economic value that the CWB creates each year—for farmers, rural communities, short line railroads, and the whole of Canada—as a result of its superior marketing ability, capacity to defend Canadian interests in trade disputes, and commitment to return to farmers all net proceeds from sales.
  • Are proud of the strong international reputation for quality and reliability that Canadian wheat and barley have earned—a direct result of the CWB and its companion institutions, the Canadian Grain Commission and Canadian International Grains Institute.
  • Deplore the government’s disregard for the outcome of the recent plebiscite in which 62% of farmers voted in favour of keeping the single desk for wheat and 51% supported keeping the single desk for barley.

We therefore call upon the Prime Ministers, MPs, and Senators to immediately stop undermining the single desk authority of the CWB.  We further insist that Parliament must comply with the Canadian Wheat Board Act, Section 47.1, which requires a binding plebiscite (vote) of farmers before any substantive change to the CWB’s single desk authority is initiated.

Signed:

  • Agriculture Workers Alliance
  • Bathurst Street United Church, Toronto
  • Big Carrot Natural Food Market
  • Biofreedom
  • Brandon University Students’ Union
  • Briarpatch Magazine
  • Canadian Auto Workers (CAW)
  • Canadian Labour Congress
  • Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
  • Canadian Wheat Board Alliance
  • CCNB Action (Conservation Council of New Brunswick)
  • Centre for Social Justice
  • Coalition On The Niagara Escarpment
  • Council of Canadians
  • Council of Canadians – Moose Jaw, Sask. Chapter
  • Council of Canadians – Prince Albert, Sask. Chapter
  • Council of Canadians – Winnipeg, Man. Chapter
  • CWA/SCA (Communications Workers Union) Canada
  • Food Action Committee of the Ecology Action Centre
  • Food Secure Canada
  • Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board
  • GE Watch Comox Valley
  • GRAIN
  • Grain Services Union (GSU)
  • Greenpeace Canada
  • Growing Food Security in Alberta
  • Health Sciences Association of Alberta
  • Inter Pares
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 529
  • Lardeau Valley Seed Savers
  • Les AmiEs de la Terre de Québec
  • LIFT (Low Income Families Together)
  • National Farmers Union
  • National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE)
  • New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice
  • Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) – Windsor
  • Organic Food Council of Manitoba (OFCM)
  • Oxfam Canada
  • Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL)
  • Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN)
  • Society for a GE Free BC
  • The Ark Farm, B&B, Vegetables, & Native Plants
  • Union paysanne
  • United Church of Canada
  • United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)

Stop the steamroller

Make your voice heard by sending a message to the PM and your MP at Stop the Steamroller.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives like to present themselves as tough on crime, committed to accountable government and respectful of the rule of law. Given their record, we have to ask ourselves, when will we march them off to the nearest penitentiary to begin serving the mandatory minimum sentences they so richly deserve?

Like a Rocky Mountain avalanche in the making, a growing mountain of evidence of Harper’s cynical disregard for the rule of law threatens to bury even the pretense of Canadian democracy. Here are some examples . . .

Canadian Wheat Board Act Violated

On Oct. 18, 2011, Harper’s Conservative government introduced Bill C-18, the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, which aims to remove the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly over exports of western Canadian wheat and barley. Not only are they proceeding with this legislation in defiance of the expressed will of most western farmers, they are in breech of Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act which requires the permission of grain producers prior to the introduction of this kind of legislation.

2006 Election – the In and Out Scandal

During the 2006 federal election, the Conservative Party tried to get around election spending limits by giving $1.3 million dollars to 67 riding offices that had not yet reached their individual spending limits. The ridings then returned the money to the party, claiming that it was being used to buy advertising. The money was used by the national campaign to fund an advertising blitz in the final weeks of the campaign. The scam might have gone undetected but for the chutzpah of some riding officials who applied to Elections Canada for a 60% reimbursement of their advertising expenses. Four senior Conservative Party members were charged under the Elections Canada Act with overspending and submitting false or misleading election expense documents. Just this month, the Tories successfully plea bargained their way out of facing these charges, agreeing to plead guilty to what the Tory spin-doctors are calling “administrative errors.”

The Cadman Affair and the Criminal Code of Canada

In 2005, the minority Liberal government of Paul Martin was in deep trouble. The Tories were intent on bringing them down, but the vote would be close. In Like a Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, Vancouver writer Tom Zytaruk tells the story of attempts by Conservative Party officials to offer financial inducements to independent MP Chuck Cadman in return for his support in bringing down the Liberals. The Tories were unsuccessful in getting Cadman’s support. However, an interview with Stephen Harper conducted by Zytaruk makes it clear that Harper was aware of his Party’s efforts to buy Cadman’s vote. And vote buying is a serious offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, one that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Harper has a majority government and opposition parties have been unwilling to step outside of Parliament to hold governments accountable. For these reasons, Harper will remain untouchable unless we organize a broad movement to hold him accountable. There is a clear leadership role for well-resourced organizations such as The Council of Canadians and The Canadian Labour Congress. Perhaps we should remind them.