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Trojan Horse contents keep spilling out
And Harper finds a friendly audience for Fisheries Act changes.
Dateline: Tuesday, June 05, 2012
by Ish Theilheimer
and Samantha Bayard with YouTube video
OTTAWA, Straight Goods News, June 2, 2012 — Usually things on Parliament Hill slow down when the Prime Minister is away. This week the PM was in town but NDP leader Tom Mulair was touring the tar/oilsands in Alberta. Mulcair's absence took some pressure off the government, still taking heat on many aspects of its omnibus budget bill, which critics are calling a Trojan Horse.
NDP finance critic Peggy Nash reacted to a report from the Parliamentary Budgetary Officer that documents cuts under the federal budget — much deeper than the Conservatives are revealing. "If you have enough time, enough scrutiny, the people who are experts in this field you can probably dig down and find much of the information. Some of it we still don't know, some of it will depend on ministerial decisions, some of it will depend on regulations which is to be decided by cabinet, definitions that could be decided by ministers — so there is still an obscurity to much of this bill," said Nash.
Peggy Nash wants transparency from the government on the federal budget's impact.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae also predicted that public sector job cuts will be much higher than projected and will impact services dramatically. He said the government is reframing the role of government in the economy and society.
"I am positive the government is low-balling the number. The government is even saying for example the cuts are very modest. In fact, the cuts are far more draconian than that, if you look at the impact these cuts are going to have on the services that are being delivered to Canadians. I think people are going to see more and more just what the impact is. Everyone has to understand, this is all part of an agenda to get the government into a position where it's going to be able to reduce even further the role of the federal government in the life of the economy," said Rae.
Bob Rae says Conservatives are reframing the role of government to the detriment of Canadians who need services.
Having pushed CP Rail back-to-work legislation through the House, labour minister Lisa Raitt pushed to get it through the Senate at record speed. She is pressing for cooperation from Liberal Senators, and if she cannot get it, she wants CP rail staff (who are worried that their profitable employer is raiding their pension fund) to volunteer to return to work within 12 hours of her making this announcement.
Labour minister Lisa Raitt wants CP Rail staff to return to work voluntarily without any guarantee for their pensions.
NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen said asking CP staff to volunteer to go back to work voluntarily after the government's harsh treatment during the strike is wildly unlikely. "I don't know what universe the Minster occupies, in the sense that she poisoned the well of negotiations and she is now asking the union who had their rights stripped away to get back to the table and pretend that the employers are going to negotiate in good faith. She created a circumstance in which that's impossible. I don't know how the government can't feel complicit to the problems that have now been created and a very, very poisoned work environment that is going to result from this," said Cullen.
Nathan Cullen says CP staff voluntering to return to work won't happen in light of how they have been treated in negotiations.
NDP human resources critic Chris Charlton introduced an NDP Opposition Day motion on Employment Insurance on Thursday. Exact phrasing of the motion: "that this House call on the Conservative government to abandon plans to further restrict access to Employment Insurance for Canadian workers who have followed the rules and who will now be forced to choose between taking a pay cut of up to 30 percent or losing their Employment Insurance benefits."
Charlton believes this is a scheme staged to drive down wages for the lower and middle class in Canada. "Workers who have been unemployed frequently are going to have to take jobs at less and less money. EI starts at 90 percent goes down to 80 percent then down to 70 percent. what will happen at some point is that those 70 percent will actually be the going regional wage. Next time someone is employed, you start to work from a salary base of 70 percent, so it's a race to the bottom," said Charlton.
Chris Charlton says EI changes will drive down wages in every sector.
Off the Hill, Prime Minister Harper attended Canada's first-ever National Fish and Wildlife Conservation Congress where he found an audience friendly to his ending the long-gun registry as well as to the Fisheries Act changes in the budget bill. At the event, he announced the creation of a Hunting and Angling Advisory Panel, supposedly to "inform conservation efforts in Canada."
Nathan Cullen found it hypocritical that the government has been vicious in its attacks on charities for seeking funding abroad while they have American-funded lobby groups on the panel. "For a government so concerned with American influence to have the Safari Club International — big game hunters out of the US — coming up and advising the Canadian government on hunting laws — but yet not invite aboriginal groups or local rod and gun clubs to the table, seems very strange to me," said Cullen.
Nathan Cullen thinks Harper is a hypocrite.
NDP MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Center), himself a former carpenter, is outraged with changes to employment standards that will affect construction workers being lumped into the federal budget bill. He finds it "unbelievable," that the Fair Wages and Hours of Work Act is being repealed due to lobby pressure by anti-union groups such as the Merit Shop Contractors' Association. "For 75 years the Fair Wages and Hours of Work Act made sure that construction contractors on federal projects won their jobs based on their skill and their ability. It's in nobody's best interest to drive down the wages of construction workers, knowing full well that somebody somewhere is always desperate enough to take a buck an hour less," said Martin.
Pat Martin says fair wages for carpenters and contractors are jeopardized by omnibus budget legislation.
In other news last week, USW-Canada economist Erin Weir was attacked by Saskatchewan Conservative MP MP Randy Hoback (Prince Albert ) while giving testimony to the House Standing Committee on Finance. Weir's crime, it appears, is belonging to the New Democratic Party. In an identical manner to the 1950s witch-hunting anti-communist US Sentaor Joe McCarthy, Hoback asked Weir "Have you or have you ever been a member of the NDP party, or are you presently a member of the NDP party?" Weir was testifying about the effect of foreign takeovers on Canadian corporations and their employees.
McCarthyism returns on Parliament Hill
Video of the grilling went viral on the Internet, attracting over 9,000 visitors. A full account of the committee session with YouTube video is available on the Prince Albert Daily Herald website.Hoback also called Weir's views "garbage" for which he was berated by NDP committee member Wayne Marston (Stoney Creek).
Here is the full, unedited version of Hoback's quesitoning of Weir's credibilitly on YouTube.
Ish Theilheimer is founder and president of Straight Goods News and has been Publisher of the leading, and oldest, independent Canadian online newsmagazine, StraightGoods.ca, since September 1999. He is also Managing Editor of PublicValues.ca. He lives wth his wife Kathy in Golden Lake, ON, in the Ottawa Valley.