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Saturday, July 31, 2010

John Baird and Kimberley Rogers: Why Neoconservatism is Wrong for Canada

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

When Mike Harris first came to power in Ontario in 1995, he waged war against the province's poor, blaming them for everything that was wrong with our economy.

We had just come off a double dip recession and thousands of jobs had been lost to Free Trade, but the enemies were the poor who were "bleeding" us dry.

As part of the Made in America, "Common Sense Revolution", the Harrisites proclaimed that able-bodied people must work for their benefits. Ironically, many welfare recipients voted for Harris (1) believing that he was going to find them jobs, something most of them preferred. But that was not the case. They were left on their own to find employment that didn't exist, which is how they found themselves on welfare in the first place.

It was a horrible time. There were Big Brotherish signs everywhere, encouraging neighbours and family to "turn people in". Rewards were offered and a culture of fear and mistrust was created. Mike Harris wanted all welfare recipients finger printed and John Baird wanted to conduct drug tests before they received their cheques. He even put on a ridiculous public display, pouring out hypodermic needles on a table for the media, claiming that the poor would no longer be able to shoot their payments up their arms.

They had already reduced benefits by 22% when Tony Clement rewrote the "Tenant Protection Act" in favour of landlords, in order to kill rent control and make it easier to evict tenants, driving even more people into the streets. It was like living under the Gestapo.

But the saddest story of this period, was that of Kimberley Rogers, who was single and pregnant and trying to better herself, so that she would be a position to care for her child. She wanted off the welfare rolls so was taking classes at Cambrian College in Sudbury and was a straight-A student.

But in order to afford to do this, she had to take out student loans. I wouldn't class loans as income, but John Baird did, and had the woman charged when he found out that she was also receiving social assistance. As a result, she was sentenced to six-months house arrest, and confined to a second floor apartment except for three hours a week. Her welfare benefits were cut off and she was ordered to repay the government more than $13,000.
'I ran out of food this weekend. I am unable to sleep. . . . I am very upset and I cry all the time.' Kimberly Rogers wrote these words in her court appeal in May. Three months later, 40 years old and eight months pregnant, she was found dead in the Sudbury, Ont., apartment where she had been confined 24 hours a day for the crime of taking student loans while on welfare. (2)
This was May 14, 2001, when Rogers launched a case under the Charter of Rights that challenged the constitutional validity of Ontario Works regulations that suspended benefits after a conviction of welfare fraud. She was able to have her welfare benefits reinstated May 31, but the court had yet to rule on her challenge at the time of her death. (3)

The Globe described her living conditions throughout this ordeal:
It's a 21st-century Dickens story. There's not much to look at out the narrow second-floor window of 286 Hazel St. in downtown Sudbury. The back yard is a grey gravel driveway strewn with litter. There's a rusted black Ford that looks as though it's been up on blocks for a decade, and a yellowed dishwasher that someone discarded years ago. And overlooking it is the ramshackle two-storey, five-tenant apartment building where Kimberly Rogers, perhaps Ontario's best-known welfare recipient, spent almost every hour of the past three months ... this is where the 40-year-old expecting mother and straight-A recent college graduate spent her last days ..

Her body wasn't found for two days. Eight months pregnant, she was trapped inside her sweltering apartment for the duration of a record-setting heat wave. Temperatures were above 30 degrees for six days in a row the week she died. "It was like a sauna in there," Amanda Chodura of Sudbury's Elizabeth Fry Society, who frequently visited with Rogers, told The Globe and Mail. Rogers's crime was one only a poor person could be convicted of.

"I have no one to turn to for money or a home if I am evicted," she said. "If I were evicted, I would have to go to a shelter. I would have no money to pay for storage of my belongings, and fear that I could lose everything." She worried about where every meal would come from, and feared for the future of her unborn child. (2)
Sadly, her unborn child had no future, as he perished with his mother. "John Baird has said he cannot comment on the case, which he calls "a regrettable occurrence".... " (2)

"A regrettable occurrence". They had a lot of those, from Dudley George to Walkerton. All victims of a neoconservative agenda.

So when I read the story of another single mom being denied human compassion, it brought back the story of Kimberly Rodgers and why neoconservatism is the wrong fit for Canada:
A Moncton, N.B., single mother who is off work as she helps her two-year-old son recover from brain surgery is fighting the federal government's decision to deny her employment insurance benefits. Tricia Moran's two-year-old son Brayden has a rare condition, which causes cavernous malformations to grow on the outer surface of his brain. Two of these growths became so large that Brayden needed brain surgery last month to remove them. While his skull heals, he can't go to daycare out of fear that a knock in the head could cause seizures.

Brayden, 2, has a rare condition, which causes cavernous malformations to grow on the outer surface of his brain. Moran, armed with notes from her doctor, her son's neurosurgeon, and her employer stating her job is waiting for her when she is able to return, applied for sickness leave under employment insurance, citing stress. "I applied for the EI insurance, and they called me on July 14 and told me that I was denied because I wasn't the one that was sick, and the only reason that I was home was to care for my sick son, so they said I didn't qualify for it," Moran
And I think that if we really want to understand where John Baird was coming from, claiming to be only protecting taxpayer's "hard-earned" money, we need to look at his involvement with Anderson Consulting, and Baird's attempt to privatize social services. Andersons changed their name to Accenture after the Enron Scandal.

The Canadian Province of Ontario's contract for social services delivery, essentially privatized welfare during the duration of the contract (which was to be for 4 years, but has gone over that limit by more than a year). As of March 2002, Accenture has been paid $246 million (CND) to do this "overhaul of the Ontario welfare service", even though the original estimate was $50 - $70 million and the project was eventually capped at $180 million. At one point, Accenture billed taxpayers $26,000 in unreceipted out of pocket expenses and Accenture management was paid up to $575/hour. In 1999, a year after the Auditor General of Ontario put out a scathing report on the contract, hourly rates paid to Accenture management actually rose (3%), rather than being cut. After this, the government was forced to finally renegotiate a cut to Accenture's billing rates. The Ontario government cut welfare payments to $355.71 per child in poverty and fired massive numbers of social service workers, making this contract essentially a transfer from those in need to those in Accenture. (4)

Accenture has a huge, problem-filled contract, to 'streamline' the delivery of welfare in Ontario. In 2000 and 2001, Accenture gave $20,000 Canadian to the governing Tories. Interestingly, they started making donations to the Tories only after the Tory government's Accenture contract was given a scathing review by the Provincial auditor, and they were forced to renegotiate the contract. Said Deputy Liberal Leader Sandra Pupatello: "They [Accenture] were fearing that they were going to lose the contract altogether because the government was taking far too much heat on this contract. Then, suddenly, they started contributing to the PC Coffers" (5)

And yet no one from Accenture or the Harris government were ever put under house arrest, despite the fact that they stole more money than Ms Rodgers or her unborn child ever could. Why is that?


1. Mike Harris's Ontario: Open for Business, Closed to People, Fernwood, 1997, ISBN: 1895686733

2. Bleak House, By Mark MacKinnon and Keith Lacey, Globe and Mail. August 18, 2001

3. Inquest into welfare mother's death begins, By Darren Yourk, Globe and Mail, October 15, 2002

4. "Tory Welfare Donations Under Fire", Hamilton Spectator, October 25, 2001

5. "Consulting Firm Boosts PC Coffers, Liberals Say", By Richard Brennan, Toronto Star, October 25th, 2001

Friday, July 30, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Six Continued: National Public Affairs Research Foundation

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

Though his father never really had a formal education, joining the Calgary Prophetic Bible School right out of high school, Preston did attend the University of Calgary. It was quite a culture shock after leading a sheltered life.

And what he found was that it was a different world. It was the 60's and people were breaking away from the social norms. So he would report to his father at the end of every day, not with the intent of changing his father's ways, but with the goal of making right-wing policies more palpable to a changing world, which he saw as veering toward Marxism.

"It was not simply that Social Credit was found ... to be wanting in areas of social policy - it was more that conservative ideas and Conservative government (as defined by Manning ideology) were being challenged by socialism. Left-wing thinking was influencing events and people ...""Manning fought the trend with enthusiasm - and paid for it with criticism in the campus press ... Preston Manning told the paper that free enterprise had to reform to continue it existence. The social reforms were to be .... the individual responsibility ... of every Canadian citizen ... "We (socreds) believe that Canada is drifting towards socialism even when the majority of Canadians are opposed to collectivism and the welfare state..." (1)

However, Canadians were not opposed to the welfare state, but were expecting our politicians to do more to help society at all levels. Naturally, the corporate world was nervous, especially since Tommy Douglas was becoming so popular and was promoting free health care.

And they saw in Ernest Manning, a believer in free-enterprise conservatism and approached him about establishing a new party. Social Credit had had it's day, and was losing steam.

According to original Socred MPP Alf Hooke:
On at least two occasions Mr. Manning told me in his office that he had been approached by several very influential and wealthy Canadians and that they wanted him to head up a party of the right with a view to preventing the onslaught of socialism these men could see developing in Canada. They had apparently indicated to him that money was no object and they were prepared to spend any amount of money to stop the socialistic tide ... Mr. Manning indicated to me also that he was working on a book which he would hope to publish ... in which he would endeavour to outline the views these men represented and recommendations he would make in keeping with their views. (2)
Hooke asked Manning who they were and was simply told that they were "wealthy and influential men", one of whom was R. A. "Bobbie" Brown, Jr."
Manning believed that a new party was not feasible. Instead, he supported a coalescing of right-wing forces into the Progressive Conservative Party. He would use his influence to spread that idea across the country. Confident of his personal power and the obvious need for such a movement, apparently he did not intend to take an active organizing role. He would provide the idea; others would have to respond to it. (2)
And he would do it with the help of his son Preston.
The task of formulating the new conservative philosophy fell to Preston Manning and the group of young Socreds around him. The cost of this project was borne by the "influential and powerful Canadians" who had approached Manning. They, under the leadership of R. A. Brown, Jr., president of Home Oil, established the National Public Affairs Research Foundation (NPARF) in 1965.(2)
So father and son created M and M Consulting and with the help of others, Preston produced for them "The White Paper".
... while working for one of Canada's first right-wing think-tanks, the National Public Research Foundation. The paper suggested a new political direction for Social Credit. "Human social problems were to be seen as akin to problems involving the physical world," wrote Manning in a near-parody of Enlightenment rationalism. Empowered with the lightning bolt of pure reason, government could "apply new and advanced techniques, initially conceived for industrial application, to the analysis of social problems." (3)
The idea was to allow private enterprise to administer social programs (for profit).

It occurred to me that this same Request for Proposals technique, under the guidance of government contracting agencies, might be used to link public and private resources to more down-to-earth objectives like improvements in regional development, health care, or educational services. It would also provide a mechanism for striking an appropriate division of labour between the public and private sectors in relation to particular tasks—a division of labour based not on ideology (only governments should do this, or only private enterprise should do that), but on the more practical criterion of "Who can do the best job in the most cost-effective way?"

After my father and I set up M and M Systems Research, I wrote a promotional booklet entitled "Requests for Proposals and Social Contracts:' We marketed the concept through the firm, and became involved in a number of interesting experiments involving the contracting of public and private resources to attain socio-economic objectives. These objectives included providing support and rehabilitation services to single transient men through a hostel operation in Calgary, operating a pioneer "home care" program for Halton County in Ontario, and involving native people in a bitumen trucking operation for Gulf Oil. (4)

The idea sounds good, but we know from experience that it doesn't work. Look at the mess of HMOs in the U.S. When social services depend on profit, the bottom line is always the priority. And when businesses establish themselves as "charities" it becomes like the old mining operations, with company stores, where the employees have few options.

National Public Affairs Research Foundation

The NPARF was an extremely secretive organization,

"... but it was known at the time that it included on its board of directors some very orthodox people: Cyrus McLean, chairman of the B.C. Telephone Co.; Renault St. Laurent, a lawyer and son of the former Prime Minister; R. J. Burns, a prominent Calgary lawyer; and A. M. Shoults, president of James Lovick Ltd. of Toronto.

Most of the board members were friends of Brown's and were not involved in the foundation at all. Two of the men, R. J. Burns and A. M. 'Scotty' Shoults, barely remember the foundation. Burns recalled, "I may have just been a front man, doing Bobbie Brown a favour. These other fellows were in the same situation as me, just called upon to sit on a board. They were never active participants."

The first major product of the NPARF was produced by Preston and several of the other young Socreds around him. It was called "The White Paper on Human Resources Development." Considered left-wing by many of the Social Credit faithful, it was intended to present a moderate image of the Social Credit to the public. But according to Finkel, it was vintage Ernest Manning.

"Manning's anti-collectivist orientation was now inelegantly phrased to be a commitment to integrating physical and 'human resource' development: 'to facilitate the harnessing of the economy based on the principles of freedom of economic activity ... achieving objectives stemming from humanitarian values ... based on the concept that the individual ... is the supremely important unit of consideration."

Accompanying this technocratic language, says Finkel, was a restated commitment to the government's long-standing opposition to universal social programs. It also quite likely reflected Preston Manning's background in physics and economics: "Human social problems were to be seen as akin to problems involving the physical world. The government wanted to 'apply new and advanced techniques, initially conceived for industrial application, to the analysis of social problems ...' " (5)

Don Sellar, then a reporter for the Calgary Herald, first revealed the existence of the NPARF in the summer of 1966. Almost a year later, on July 1, 1967, he wrote again on the organization:

"The NPARF ... has kept details of its studies under wraps while offering its services to any political organization that wants them." Sellar pointed out that Preston Manning and Owen Anderson, one of the young Socreds advising Manning on the white paper, were working full time for the organization, "operating out of a downtown Edmonton office building."

... The NPARF name is not even painted on their door and their office secretary contributes to the secrecy of their operation by answering the telephone ... 'Preston Manning's office ...' Few of its employees know about all the research documents being prepared in such places as Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton because the work is being done in separate sections and assembled in Edmonton.

Mr. Anderson (working on a comprehensive national public policy for Canada) has been permitted to hire any number of people to carry out his work and now has about 19 researchers under him. Preston Manning, in writing his book, has travelled all over North America gathering information on technological change. Owen Anderson today laughs at the notion that he "had nineteen men under him" but acknowledges that he may have had that many researchers working on papers for him, as de facto director of the NPARF.

According to Sellar, now a senior editor with the Toronto Star, and who knew many of the people involved through his father, the secretiveness of the NPARF was simply a reflection of the fact that its backers and founders were men who shunned publicity. "They didn't want people knowing that they were involved in this sort of thing." The "sort of thing" they were involved in was for the most part a right-wing think tank. While the institute did some policy papers for government it had a broader mandate as well, according to Owen Anderson:

This was our contribution to the debate of the day. We were saying that there was a need for more fundamental debate in this country. 'Here's some ideas — what do you think of this? We were trying to get people to come out and take a stand and discuss some of these issues ... We even contributed to the public debate. [We would hold public meetings] and people would come out talk and debate. We would circulate these papers — we'd give them to political leaders, people on the campus ... and to any business people we knew.(5)

Preston Manning continued to work for the National Public Affairs Research Foundation until the end of 1968.

Chapter Thirty-Seven: Keeping Step With the Times


1. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 24-25

2. Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 28-29

3. Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, pg. 53

4. The New Canada, By Preston Manning, 1992, MacMillan Canada, ISBN: 0-7715-9150-0, pg. 56

5. Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 30-34

Chapter Thirty-Six: Passing the Torch

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

Preston Manning was born on June 10, 1942, in Edmonton, Alberta. His godfather was William Aberhart, then premier of Alberta.

Within a year, Aberhart would be deceased and Ernest Manning, Preston's father, would become premier, and hold that position for 25 years.
The influences that have been brought to bear on Preston Manning could only have been created in Alberta. His father, Ernest Manning, was not just premier for twenty-five years but premier of what was often called a one-party state. Revered almost as a saint by many, he dominated Alberta political life during the years he was in power. Through Ernest Manning and his predecessor and mentor, William Aberhart, evangelical Christianity played a role in Alberta politics for which the only Canadian parallel is Catholicism in Quebec. Ernest Manning was both spiritual and political leader of Alberta. Preston Manning grew up under the tutelage and the shadow of his larger-than-life father. (1)
And by Preston's own admissions his father was often distant and cold, but he grew up in a household dominated by Social Credit politics*.
While he has said that his father did not bring politics into the home, Preston Manning acknowledges that the political influence was nonetheless felt early on: "The family itself did not play that great a role in politics in those days. But at a very early age, I began looking at things from a governing point of view because my father was the leader of the government." (2)
But he also grew up sheltered for most of his early life.
Ernest Manning was also intensely private — and very formal. John Barr writes in The Dynasty, his book on the Social Credit Party: "Everyone knew that Mr. Manning (as he was almost universally known; probably no more than half a dozen people ever called him 'Ernest') was Premier and that he was 'there' somehow, but his public appearances were sufficiently rare that he was neverover-exposed. Manning did not invite familiarity." (2)
Every day he was expected to go straight from school to his father's office, where he did his homework, and most of his life was centred around school, family and church. His one sibling, Keith, was born with Cerebral Palsy, and spent much of his time away, so Preston focused on his studies.

By the time he went away to university in the early 60's, he realized that the world had changed, but that he and his family had not changed with it.
At university in the early sixties he gave the impression of a rural kid completely isolated from the ways of urban society. He presented an odd image. "He was part of the Youth Parliament's Social Credit caucus at the same time Joe Clark, Grant Notley (the late, former leader of the New Democratic Party in Alberta), Jim Coutts (who became prominent in the Liberal Party under Pierre Trudeau), and others were representing their respective parties. He was a good speaker, but you never saw him on campus. People knew who he was, and the rumour was that his father didn't want him to hang around the university too much because it would be a bad moral influence on him," recalls Fred Walker, a student at that time. "He looked very out of place — odd enough in his mannerisms and physical appearance and dress to be the occasional subject of ridicule. He gave the impression of being a very serious and committed young man — but more an apologist for his father's party and policies. He didn't play a very prominent role." (2)

Continued: National Public Affairs Research Foundation


*Stockwell Day's mother said the same thing of her son's upbringing


1. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 1

2. Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 3-4

Chapter Thirty-Five: Exiles of War and American Politics

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

Leo Strauss, with the help of his friend Karl Schmitt, was exiled to Paris, thereby escaping the Holocaust. In June 0f 1933 he married Marie (Miriam) Bernsohn, a widow with a young child, Thomas Petri, whom he adopted.

They managed to escape to England when Paris fell to the Nazis, but his family in Germany were not so fortunate.

Leo Strauss's father, Hugo Strauss, died in the spring of 1942 just before the deportation of Kirchhain's Jewry. His stepmother and the rest of his immediate family that stayed in Germany were soon killed after being deported to death camps in the east. (1)

Strauss's only sibling, Bettina Strauss moved to Cairo where she married Paul Kraus in 1936.
Kraus was a Czech-born Jewish scholar of medieval Islamic philosophy, science, and medicine as well as the Bible and archaeology. Leo Strauss and Paul Kraus became acquainted in the late 1920s and early 1930s in Berlin.' Bettina and Paul traveled to Palestine, Lebanon, and Egypt for research and possible academic appointments. Bettina died in January 1942 while giving birth to Jenny Ann Kraus in Cairo. Just two years after Bettina's death, Paul Kraus committed suicide.' Strauss adopted his four-year-old niece, Jenny, and raised her as his own daughter in the United States . (1)
Ironically, Leo Strauss had once wanted to join the Nazi Party, though he would blame the fall of the Weimar Republic, and liberalism in general, for the ruination of Germany.

The Weimar never really had a chance. The monarchy fell during the war, leaving the country in disarray. Trying to rebuild and remake Germany into a democracy, at a time when the German people were looking for someone to lead them out of the darkness, proved impossible, making the time right for the image of a powerful leader: Adolf Hitler.

Strauss moved to the United States in 1937, becoming a citizen in 1944. In 1949, he became a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he received, for the first time in his life, a good wage. And as part of this infamous Chicago School, he would help to reshape American politics, and create a movement now known as Neoconservativism.

And perhaps without realising it, Ernest Manning had ascribed to the philosophy.

The Republicanism of Ernest Manning

Since the Leduc oil gusher, of 1947, Ernest Manning abandoned Social Credit principles and moved Alberta to the right. Inspired by the Americans, he adopted a Republican style political system, that fit with his moral and religious views.
The United States — its culture, political institutions, and doctrine of individualism — also had an enormous impact on political life and attitudes in Alberta. That influence is strongly demonstrated in the history and development of the Social Credit Party, which Ernest Manning ran for so many years: a free-enterprise party extolling the virtues of individual liberty, the traditional family, and the supremacy of God. (2)
Time magazine began referring to Alberta as Texas North.

Social Credit had been pretty close to socialism, with an attempt to fight against "poverty in the midst of plenty". Manning, on the other hand, abhorred and feared socialism, and believed that capitalism and the free market were the best defenses.

This belief would channel to his son Preston, when he started the Reform Party and on to his lieutenant, Stephen Harper.

And though Leo Strauss died in 1973, his legacy lives on in a movement that is fueled by deception, religious fervour and unbridled nationalism. The key elements that Strauss suggested were necessary, for a government to be successful.


1. Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile, the making of a Political Philosopher, By: Eugene R. Sheppard, Brandeis University Press, 2006, ISBN: 978-154865-600-5, Pg. 82

2. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 1

Tony Clement Gives Away Natural Resources to Bust Union in Sudbury

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

In deciding what will be eventually be edited into my book, the chapter on Anthony Peter Panayi aka Tony Clement, would be incomplete if it did not include his selling off of Stelco to a Brazilian firm with no safeguards for the community or workers.

Companies with strong unions pose a threat to the neoconservative agenda, so Clement works on the side of the companies who will help to "knock them down a peg or two".

Steelworkers Local 6500 president John Fera is lashing out at Vale Inco, calling it a “third world employer,” as the midnight July 12 expiry date for the union's collective agreement draws closer. ... “We've seen nothing by pushback from this company, and quite frankly, we're fed up with it,” the release stated.

“Our federal Conservative government must have been sleeping when they sold us out to Vale instead of protecting our non-renewable natural resources that now belong to Brazil. (1)

Then when the sale went through -
Less than three years after winning a $19-billion “dream” acquisition of Inco, the head of Brazil's Vale SA has made a shocking assessment of its Sudbury operations: They're unsustainable at current cost levels. The comments from Vale chief executive officer Roger Agnelli come amid simmering tensions between the company and unionized workers in Sudbury.

The Brazilian mining giant is demanding major concessions from 3,300 workers there; contract talks have broken off and a potential strike looms as the Sudbury operations endure a two-month summer shutdown in response to dismal nickel prices.

...Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement initially demanded answers from Vale for violating its Investment Canada Act commitments but later said he was satisfied that Vale was not targeting Sudbury with its job cuts and mine shutdowns. (2)
And of course Clement did nothing on behalf of the workers, siding with the corporation:

Canada will not take any action against Brazilian miner Vale over cutbacks at its Sudbury mining operations, Tony Clement, the Industry Minister, said yesterday. Vale announced in March it would cut 423 jobs at its Canadian operations and shut its Sudbury, Ont., facilities for eight weeks, sparking questions from Mr. Clement over whether the company was violating agreements it signed when it bought Canadian nickel miner Inco in 2006. "At this point, we're not going to be proceeding with any action with respect to Vale Inco," Mr. Clement told reporters in Ottawa. He said the company did not seem to be targeting Canada in its cutbacks. (3)

And with friends in high places, Vale held out while workers suffered.
SUBURY, Ont. — Striking Vale Inco employee Rod Price says he's "lost everything," and so have many of his colleagues.

"The banks are taking our houses, our vehicles. A lot of us are using the food bank, and as time goes on it's getting worse," Price said, his words coming as puffs of steam through the holes in his balaclava on a frigid day on the picket line.

"Guys are upset, hurt, crying. They don't know what to do with themselves."

More than 3,000 employees of nickel miner Vale Inco have been on strike since mid-July, and after seven months living off of $800 a month in strike pay, the repo man has come knocking.

"We've got people losing homes. We've got families breaking apart. We can't make our payments," said worker Pat Digby, braving a wind chill of -25C to picket at the front gate of Vale Inco's smelter in the Sudbury neighbourhood of Copper Cliff. (4)

So it should come as no surprise that while the workers finally settled, many losing pensions after their homes, Vale is now recording a huge profit.

Net income at Brazilian mining company Vale probably soared nearly five-fold in the second quarter on higher iron prices, as a new quarterly pricing system allows it to vastly increase the sale price of its ore. The world's largest producer of iron ore is expected to post net income of $3.83 billion when it reports second-quarter earnings after markets close on Thursday, according to the average estimate of six analysts -- an increase of 384% over the previous year.

Vale this year moved to a quarterly pricing system after the aging annual benchmark mechanism unraveled amid quarrels with China -- the world's largest buyer of the metal. The year-on-year jump was helped by the global economic recovery that boosted commodities prices from mid-2009 levels, as well as by higher sales volumes of iron ore and pellets. Profits likely soared 139% from the previous quarter, driven by an increase of around 100% in iron sale prices as a result of moving to the quarterly system. (5)

So how are you liking neoconservatism so far? And yet the government is still going through with massive corporate tax cuts.


1. Vale Inco a 'third world' employer: union, by Sudbury Northern Life Staff, June 27, 2009

2. Globe and Mail, June 2009

3. Ottawa will take no action over Vale's Sudbury cutbacks, Clement says, National Post, 2009

4. Vale is still holding out with no help from Clement for the workers, Canadian Press, 2010

5. Vale profit soars in Q2, By Brian Ellsworth, the Sudbury Star, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tony Clement, Jim Flaherty and the Adams Mine Scandal

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

If anything defines the Mike Harris years in Ontario, it is their love of corporate fat cats. The higher up the corporate ladder, the more clout you had with Harris and the boys.

And they would go to extraordinary lengths to accommodate them.

There are lots of examples of this, but one of the best is the Adams Mine scandal.

A Harris friendly company purchased the mine in the hopes of turning into a dump site, but there were grave concerns. The pit's rock walls were unstable, and there was a great potential for contaminants to leak into the groundwater.

Despite this, Harris used every trick in the book to try and make a ton of money for his buddies, even selling them 2000 acres of crown land at rock bottom prices. Land they had no authority to sell.
Public Concern Temiskaming is demanding to know how the Conservative government can allow the sale of 2000 acres of Crown Land near the Adams Mine to a company that may not hold title to the Adams Mine property. The Conservatives had justified the secret sale of Crown Land to the Cortellucci Group on the basis of the Cortellucci s claim of ownership over the adjacent Adams Mine property. But Cortellucci s claim to title is now subject of a major lawsuit. The Cortellucci Group have been named in a $10 million suit by waste giant CWS (Canada Waste Services) over control of the Adams Mine site. Charlie Angus of PCT says the lawsuit raises major questions about the government s attempt to sell the Crown Land at the surprisingly low price of $22 an acre.

You just can t sell buffer land to people who don t have clear title to the original property. I know the Cortellucci s are the biggest campaign donors to Ernie Eves, and I know the government has been trying to push this sweetheart deal through without any public input, but surely, the issue of who actually owns title to the land has to be addressed before any sale is allowed, stated Angus.

The CWS lawsuit alleges that dump promoter Notre Development engaged in the purported sale of the Adams Mine site to the Cortellucci Group even though CWS had a $4.6 million lien on the property, as well as a right of first refusal over any new Adams Mine dealings. Angus says the failure of the Conservatives to address the issue of title at the Adams Mine is just the latest in a series of politically-inspired gaffes over the Crown Land deal. There s been a smell about this secret land deal and it s not just garbage. This is a government that is hell bent on trashing public process and carrying out an unjustified fire sale of Crown Land just so that Tory developers can make hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing back the Adams Mine. (1)
And this was not the first time that the Cortellucci Group were given preferential treatment.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): My question is to the Minister of the Environment and Municipal Affairs. Earlier this month, your colleague Mr Gilchrist resigned from cabinet as a result of a police investigation into allegations that government policy was for sale for the price of $25,000. You, sir, wrote a letter clearly attempting to influence a decision of the Ontario Municipal Board on behalf of developers with clear financial ties to your party. In fact, Jay-M Holdings contributed over $15,000 to your party.

Minister, you're aware that a number of other developers have a great interest in the Oak Ridges moraine and they too have a great potential to gain from your involvement. To what extent was your interference prompted by financial contributions to your party and to what extent are you prepared to stand up today and put a freeze on the Oak Ridges moraine to ensure that proper development takes place over time?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of the Environment, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the honourable member for the question and would say to him, as I said in this House last week as well, that the letter he makes reference to was not a letter to the OMB; it was not a letter to any member of the OMB. It was a letter to the regional chair. It did not take a position on the issue before the OMB. It took a position defending a piece of legislation over which I have carriage. It was advising him of the letter of the law and in no way was it an attempt to in any way influence a quasi-judicial tribunal. It was not even written about an issue that the tribunal had carriage of. So I disagree with his characterization.

In terms of who gave what to whom, I know that all political parties receive donations from individuals. I'm aware that our party has been the most successful at that because we have the best record for the people of Ontario, but it had no impact on my decision to write a letter or not to write a letter. Mr Duncan: According to a report prepared by noted York University professor Robert MacDermid, 28 companies with links to the Cortellucci and Montemarano Development Group made 209 contributions to your party, totalling $335,000,
between 1995 and 1997. That same group of companies made no contributions to this political party.
One of those companies, is Fernbrook Homes Ltd. Let me read to you an ad about Fernbrook Homes, and I quote this from their ad which is readily available on the Internet: "Now previewing, a private, gated community overlooking ... the Oak Ridges moraine." Can you confirm that this is the same Fernbrook Homes Ltd which is tied to the Cortellucci and Montemarano group of companies who made 209 contributions to your party totalling $335,000? (2)

The Cortellucci Group would end up contributing almost a million dollars to the party, including $47,000 to Jim Flaherty's leadership run and $40,000 to Tony Clement's. (3)

There is no doubt Cortellucci's Tory connections run deep, as do his pockets. Since 1995, the Cortellucci group of firms have donated almost $1 million to the party and played host to one of the marquee fundraising events on the Tory calendar a dinner every fall that brings in more than $300,000 in one evening. The $900,000 in donations to the party made up until 2001 represent the largest amount of money to come from any one company or group of companies with common ownership, outpacing even the firms owned by Peter Munk and the Barrick Gold fortune. Donations made since midway through 2001 are not yet publicly available.

Major banks, by comparison, have donated roughly between $200,000 and $250,000 to the Tories in the past eight years. The fundraiser primarily draws developers and builders and was first championed by the late Tory cabinet minister and successful car salesman Al Palladini. Insiders say it was Palladini, who represented the riding of Vaughan-King-Aurora, who brought Cortellucci and his business partner, Saverio Montemarano, into the Tory fold and urged Cortellucci to make friends with former premier Mike Harris.

Harris and Cortellucci were especially close, Tories say, adding the developer has yet to form any sort of personal relationship with Premier Ernie Eves. (4)

And not just the provincial conservatives:
[Cortellucci] also hosts a string of annual fundraisers for cabinet ministers, federal Tory leaders and Canadian Alliance politicians. In 2000, Cortellucci donated $100,000 to the Canadian Alliance under then-leader Stockwell Day, according to York University professor Robert MacDermid. On the development side, Cortellucci, along with his brother Nick, owns a string of home building companies and firms that do the excavating and grading for new subdivisions. (4)
Harris tried everything from loosening environmental standards, to creating a crisis so that he could assume control of Toronto. But in the end, the dump site did not materialize, but Clement did learn how to play the game.

Tony Clement Goes on Safari to the U.S. to Bag Oil Sell Out

When fellow MP Gerry Ritz launched his one man comedy tour during the Listeriosis outbreak, our Minister of Health. Tony Clement, was nowhere to be found.

Turns out he was in the United States protecting the 'proportionality' clause in the NAFTA agreement. This clause is good for the U.S. but could be devastating to Canada.

According to the Parkland Institute:

This obscure-sounding clause essentially states that, when it comes to energy, no Canadian government can take any action which would reduce the proportion of our total energy supply which we make available to the United States from the average proportion over the last 36 months.

In other words, if over the last 36 months we have exported just under 50 per cent of our available oil (including domestic production and imports) to the United States—and we have—then no government in Canada can do anything which would result in us making less than two thirds of our total oil supply available to the US.

...this clause seriously jeopardizes our own energy security in this country, and severely hampers our government’s ability to set our own energy policies. ... For example, if a natural disaster were to hit eastern Canada tomorrow, our government could not say that we will cut oil or gas exports to the US by 10 per cent in order to increase the oil and gas available for disaster relief in Canada. (5)

And According to the Dominion:

As the US election campaign kicks into overdrive, Canadian politicians and oil executives are stepping up lobbying efforts to make sure whoever controls the White House keeps purchasing notoriously dirty oil from the Alberta tar sands.

Executives from energy company Nexen Inc., which has major investments in northern Alberta's heavy oil industry, and Tony Clement, chair of a Canadian cabinet committee on energy security, met with Democratic candidate Barack Obama's top energy advisor Jason Grumet in late August to cement the "energy partnership" during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.In addition to official political pressure from Canadian cabinet ministers attempting to force Obama's hand on the tar sands, the oil industry has hired high-powered lobbyists of its own. Gordon Giffin**, a former US ambassador to Canada, is now a registered lobbyist in Washington for the energy firm Nexen Inc.(6)

The Canadian people will always come last with this government.

Tony Clement Gives Away Natural Resources to Bust Union in Sudbury


*Charlie Angus is now an NDP MP, and is doing an excellent job.

**Mike Harris and Gordon Giffen were both on the board of Ace Security Laminates


1. Legal Battle Raises Questions About Cortellucci's Adams Mine Deal, ADAMS MINE COALITION, May 8, 2003

2. Legislative Assembly of Ontario, November 3, 1999

3. Government accused of secret land deal, By Richard Mackie, The Globe and Mail, May 8, 2003

4. Developer's Tory party ties run deep - Caught in controversy over land deal: Proposal involves Adams Mine, By Kate Harries and Caroline Mallan, The Toronto Star. May. 9, 2003

5. Over a Barrel: Exiting from NAFTA's proportionality clause, By Gordon Laxer, John Dillon, July 16, 2008

6. Canada's Tar Lobby: Tar Sands Lobbyists Focus on US Democrats, By Chris Arsenault, The Dominion, September 8, 2008

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How Mike Harris Stole the 1999 Ontario Election

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

In the video at the bottom of this page you'll hear Mike Harris insider, and long time Tony Clement colleague, Leslie Noble; suggest that Harris could not have been all bad, otherwise he would never have been re-elected in 1999.

But there were three contributing factors to his 1999 victory:

1. Money

2. Deceit

3. Theft

1. All Kinds of Money

One thing we keep hearing about the Harper Neoconservatives, is how much money they have and their ability to fund raise. And while they will try and lead you to believe that the majority of their donations come from ordinary Canadians, that is not true. Their largest backers are the corporations and wealthy Canadians who stand to gain the most from the Neoconservative agenda.

And like Mike Harris, Stephen Harper changed the rules for political contributions, to try and bankrupt the opposition, while they cleverly used non-profit and religious organization to rake in cash on their behalf.

One good example of this is Jim Flaherty's supporter and friend Charles McVety, head of Canadian Christian College. He has set up several religious front groups, many of which are political. He does separate the political ones by stating that no tax receipt is allowed:
We need your financial support to continue fighting for family, child protection, democracy, justice, religious freedoms, and political accountability. Please donate $100 to the Building the Future campaign. Help us help you influence policy and law. NOTE: Due to CFAC's political actions to support family, religious freedom and democracy, Revenue Canada will not allow us to issue charitable tax receipts. (1)
However, no matter what group you decide to donate to, they all go to the same place:
Press the button at McVety’s TV show, shown on The Miracle Network and it leads to the donations page for the "Institute for Canadian Values" seeking new members (annual fee to join, $35.00) and 'will accept donations'.The Institute for Canadian Values is not a registered charity and is as political as The Canadian Family Coalition. Of course they are all housed in Christian College ... here is another interesting issue. If our donor gives through the the main ICV site hoping to support the work of that politically minded organization, how would McVety’s staff know NOT to send her a tax receipt that would go for a donation to the college? Would a receipt be sent anyway? (1)
So by having the funds all go to one place, whether earmarked for the political or the charitable, they are able to launder political money and issue receipts that would not be allowed otherwise.

That's just one example to show how easily it's done. And Mike Harris did adopt the "family values" crowd.
Advocacy group activity in 1999 also reached record levels. At least 29 groups took part in the campaign and together spent well over $6 million, more than both the Liberals and NDP. The TV advertising of the main advocacy groups was as heavy or heavier than what the NDP managed to buy on a sample of 15 TV stations. (1)
Besides religious groups, there was also enormous support from Stephen Harper's National Citizens Coalition and Jason Kenney's Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

But Harris's system to generate larger amounts of money was a bit more transparent.
Party contribution data demonstrate that the government's near doubling of the legal limit on contributions to political parties in an election year (from $14,000 to $25,000) was prompted by the Tories' dependency on contributions from wealthy individuals and large corporations who give the maximum donation possible. The higher limits on contributions brought the Tories an additional $2.2 million, while the Liberals took in $277,000 and the NDP $103,000 as a direct result of the changes.

To almost all Ontarians, the higher contribution limits are irrelevant because they cannot afford to donate such large sums ... [Robert] MacDermid concludes that both previous and existing contribution caps are not a restraint on, but rather a licence for, the very wealthy and corporate interests to try to influence government. (2)
Mike Harris himself bragged that he had the support of 100 corporations, many of whom gained enormously from the neoconservative agenda. And they certainly helped to influence the election results:
More than two-thirds of the money the Conservative central campaign raised came from corporations. MacDermid calculates that 16 per cent of all the money raised came from just 19 corporate conglomerates. For example, TrizecHahn and its subsidiary Barrick Gold made 17 contributions worth a total of $121,000, and the Latner conglomerate, which includes companies such as Dynacare, Greenwin Properties and Shiplake Investments, gave over $100,000. Over all of the contribution periods in 1999, TrizecHahn and related companies gave to the Tories $255,000, the Cortellucci and Montemarano companies $254,000 and Latner companies $220,000. (2)
2. When First We Practice to Deceive
York University political scientist Robert MacDermid says the Tories are operating on a permanent campaign footing, helped by changes to the Elections Act and the Election Finances Act last year that have given them an electoral edge unseen in the history of Ontario politics. In his recently released paper, Changing Electoral Politics in Ontario: The 1999 Provincial Election, MacDermid reveals how these election law changes gave the Tories an unfair advantage in the 1999 provincial election campaign. And he argues that the Harris government's extensive use of government advertising and Conservative Party pre-campaign* advertising has rendered controls on campaign spending meaningless. (2)
They also shortened the period of time for campaigning which benefited them immensely:
When the government shortened the campaign period from about 40 days to 28, it benefitted fund-raising that depends on large donations from relatively few individuals and corporations. The Tories raised $4.9 million dollars without spending a penny on fund-raising, while it cost the NDP $206,000 to raise just over $400,000. The shorter campaign also brought the unregulated pre-campaign period closer to election day and allowed the Tory campaign to advertise in the pre-campaign period as much as in the campaign period without any concern for
spending caps. (2)
And they reduced the number of seats, claiming that it was a cost cutting measure but instead just erased seats they knew they couldn't win:
The government's 21 per cent reduction in the number of MPPs, from 130 to 103, has resulted in few cost savings to the taxpayer because of increased members' spending and a projected salary increase. MacDermid argues that this measure has in fact cost Ontario citizens, reducing their chances of receiving timely services and assistance from their elected representative. (1)
In their book: The provincial state in Canada, Keith Brownsey and Michael Howlett, also wrote of the Harris government:
"As in 1995, the Tory campaign was a well-executed, generously funded and probably the most undemocratic Electoral campaign that post-war Ontario had witnessed." (3)
3. Run Thief, Run

But what probably factored the heaviest into the Mike Harris victory was the abuse of our tax dollars for self promotion.**
Question: What you are doing is unprecedented. Your current $4-million spending spree is just the latest. It comes on top of millions spent on education propaganda. It comes on top of millions spent on wasted welfare propaganda. It comes on top of millions wasted on business propaganda. In total so far, and it's early going yet, early days yet, you have wasted over $42 million worth of taxpayers' money in a desperate attempt to save your own skins. Minister, why should taxpayers be involved in this plot to fund your re-election campaign? Minister, you're wasting $42 million of taxpayer dollars on PC Party propaganda. It doesn't matter how you slice it and how you dice it, that's what it's all about. (4)
The self-promotion also included enormous expenditures for signs. I remember those. "Pay Homage to Mike Harris Here" ... "Last Chance to Pay Homage to Mike Harris for the Next 300 Feet" ... "Honk if You Like Mike Harris. Honk Even if You Don't Like Mike Harris. We have Riot Police and we Know How to Use Them" OK, maybe that's not exactly what they said, but we knew what they meant.
"... the log for three stations in the 12 months before the campaign, shows the Tories advertised in the months before the campaign at unprecedented levels, buying almost as many TV ad spots in the month before the campaign as they bought during the campaign and spending as much money on advertising before the campaign as they spent during it. The Tories used government advertising as part of their overall re-election campaign and the key ministries of Health and Education spent $20 million dollars on advertising in the run-up to the campaign. Government advertising ran at unprecedented levels during the campaign, bathing voters in feel-good spots and positive imagery. (1)
We need to watch for some of this stuff in both the next federal election and the next Ontario provincial one, now that Tim Hudak, Mike Harris's protege is heading up the party.

Tony Clement, Jim Flaherty and the Adams Mine Scandal


*The Harper government was the first in Canadian history to run attack ads against their opponents outside of an election campaign.

**Harris's chief of staff, Guy Giorno was behind this advertising campaign at our expense. He is now Stephen Harper's chief of staff and apparently the "brains" behind the Canada Actions plan and the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars on self-promotion ads and signs


1. How Charles McVety moves money, By Bene Diction Blogs On, April 24, 2008

2. York U. Political Scientist Reveals Secret to Conservatives' Electoral Success, York University Press, Septemebr 5, 2000

3. The Provincial State: Politics in Canada's Provinces and Territories, by Keith Brownsey and Michael Howlett, UTP Higher Education, 2001, ISBN-13: 978-155111368, Pg. 193

4. ORAL QUESTIONS: GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING, Ontario Hansard - October 28, 1998

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Are at War and We Must Mobilize Our Allies

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

Although many Canadians don't yet realize it, we are at war; a worldwide class war of capital versus everyone else, a war which the bubble of the Keynesian welfare state temporarily obscured. In this war, the Right has daunting weapons. Over the past 20 years, capital has forged a unified coalition of business, politics, and fundamentalist religion. It owns most of the national and local media ... And through speculative manipulations, they have the power to disrupt the entire Canadian economy. As a result, they wield enormous influence over all levels of government and public opinion. The Right speaks with almost one voice and its vision is insinuating itself into the popular consensus. (1)
We are indeed at war, but our enemy is not the police, who are only following orders. And our enemy is not the corporate media, who write what they are told to write. And our enemy is not even Stephen Harper, who in this phenomenon of image politics, is only the current face of a formidable movement. He has no more power than we do.

Our enemy is Neoconservatism.

And now that we've been able to define that, we need to mobilize our allies, if we have any hope at all of restoring our democracy: "Because the success of the Right comes through carefully managing public opinion, the starting point for defeating the Right is through creating a well-informed public." (1)

Breaking Down the Conservative Myth

In 2004 Philip Agre wrote a paper: What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

Q: What is conservatism? A:
Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism? A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world. (2)

What Agre is describing is not Conservatism but Neoconservatism, and therein lies the problem. The party now headed by Stephen Harper is not our historical Conservative "Tory" party, and we need to constantly remind Canadians of that. Neoconservatism is the antithesis of Conservatism and relates more to fascism than democracy.

But rather than force a demagogue on a democratic society, they wrap him up in a cloak of moderation and sell him as a man (or woman) of the people.

One time girlfriend of Leo Strauss (who is deemed to be the father of the neoconservative movement), Hannah Arendt, herself a respected political philosopher, once questioned whether Nazi Germany was in fact a full totalitarian dictatorship, since it depended so heavily on a "certain societal consensus". (3) Their success depended on directing and exploiting public opinion, and they did it masterfully.

That consensus was engineered by the masterful propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Today it is engineered by people like Karl Rove and Guy Giorno, who not only help to get their "leader" elected, but stick around to make sure they do as they're told. And when the government gets into trouble they send their "leader" on a photo-op, so they never have to wear the controversy, leaving others to clean up the mess.

Defining Our Allies - We're Stronger Than we Think
The conventional wisdom in electoral politics has been that getting the support of great numbers of people was more important than courting the wealthy who had money to spend. Rather than pleasing the well-off, good politics decreed that a party design policies to appeal to the great mass of middle-income voters, not the top 20 percent, but the 60 percent in the middle-income brackets. The bottom 20 percent could be safely ignored, as they could be assumed not to vote. However, their basic needs would be covered, not forgotten or left to charity. The favoured electoral strategy was to unite the middle, build support around programmes with wide appeal, and show how each benefits from programmes available to all. (4)
But neoconservatism takes a different approach. They unite upper-income voters around a programme that appeals to the interests of the wealthy, and then convince many middle- and low-income people of the advantages of more business and less government.

But more importantly they create common enemies of the 20% of society that are a nation's most vulnerable. Those who are invisible.
What about the economic insecurity of our poorest fellow citizens? Why can't our politics address this? It can't be because everyone has shared the fruits of our recent economic boom. It can't be because the poor don't exist. It must be because they have become invisible. (5)
We need to include that 20% and convince them that they must vote, and once we have voted out this neoconservative government, we need to make sure that our most vulnerable never become invisible again. Neocons want us to believe that our "too generous and unaffordable" social programs must be cut or eliminated and wages must be held down (6) to feed this monster named "economy". Meanwhile, the wealthiest citizens just keep getting wealthier, while they are going through with massive corporate tax cuts, and preaching austerity to everyone else.

And of that 60% in the middle, those who support social programs and demand rights are marginalized. And intellectuals who try to cloud issues with facts are dismissed as "university types" and demonized.

So while we advocate for specific groups, march and demonstrate, we have to remember that we are all in this together. We have a common enemy and as such are allies. Neoconservative governments do not allow dissent, but they cannot ignore 80% of the population.

We keep hearing about Harper's "base", that he is pandering to, but who is this "base"? I suspect that many believe they are voting for the party of Sir John A. and John Diefenbaker, without realizing that if the full agenda of this party is implemented, they too will be thrown into the fire, if we lose our public health care and access to education.

In 1994, speaking on behalf of the National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper was discussing the accomplishments of the NCC.
"Universality has been severely reduced: It is virtually dead as a concept in most areas of public policy. The family allowance program has been eliminated and unemployment insurance has been seriously cut back." (6)
He believes that if you are successful, it's because you worked for it, forgetting that things like access to public education and medicare, helped toward that success. And if we allow this to continue, we will end up with a Third World type of societal structure, something that has long been a goal of neoconservatism. It's why they fought so hard to maintain apartheid in South Africa and keep Nelson Mandela in jail.

The Politics of Fear

Harper's former VP when he was president of the National Citizens, Gerry Nicholls, wrote recently that:
"Hate and fear make the world go around. Those are the two emotions you must arouse to mobilize citizens. Why is that? I would venture to say that it’s because they are powerful primal emotions that trigger the fight or flight response. What’s important, though, is that you recognize and harness their power." (7)
Another element to the success of the neoconservative movement is fear. It was no accident that at the G-20, journalists and advocacy groups were targeted by riot police. There was a message there. Cross us and you will pay. He is sending the same message to NGOs who risk losing their funding if they challenge any government decision.

But it is also fear of other forces. Rick Salutin explains:
Since the Second World War, the U.S. economy has been built around what you might call the fear sector: its military-industrial complex, its crime-prison complex and its homeland-terror complex. We're now seeing the first attempt by a Canadian government to follow this model.

... The Harper government is clearly impressed. They don't seem to mind big government, if they can tax and spend in the fear sector. So they've expanded our military budget and just announced a $9-billion (or maybe $16-billion) purchase of 65 U.S. jets we'll have to find some use for. They're increasing the prison population through U.S.-style sentencing laws and planning "major construction initiatives" that will boost (sorry) corrections costs by 43 per cent. On homeland security, there's that amazing $1.2-billion spent at the G20.

But it's a hard sell. Canadians will have to be persuaded to shift more money from a stretched health-care system to the fear sector. The benefits here aren't as obvious. For buying those jets, all our firms get is the right to bid on U.S contracts. Lotsa luck. Mostly, though, there's the fear culture that you need for a fear sector. (8)
So we need to cut through all this. Some suggest that we should study the tactics of Karl Rove and emulate them, but I don't agree. I hate divisive politics and I don't think those tactics help anyone. They just turn people off.

We need to mobilize the 2/3 of Canadians who don't support the Harper regime, and educate those of the 1/3, who believe they are supporting the Canadian Conservative tradition.

There are several grassroots attempting to do that, including:

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament

Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper

Canadians Demanding a Full Public Inquiry in to the G-20

Canadians for a Liberal-NDP-Green partnership NOW!! (If you like the idea of a coalition. I prefer a Liberal government with the NDP as official opposition, but would definitely be on board with a coalition if that's what it takes)

Catch 22 Harper Conservatives

I'm going to end with one of my favourite John Lennon songs to get us in the mood. I share it often, but am sharing it again, because .. well, this is my blog and I love John Lennon.


1. Open for Business, Closed to People: Introduction, By Diana Ralph, Fernwood, 1997, ISBN: 1895686733, Pg. 15

2. What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? By Philip E. Agre, Polaris, August 2004

3. The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda, By: David Welch, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-203-93014-2

4. The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By Michael Ignatieff, Anansi Books, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-88784-762-2, Pg. 20

5. Comes the Revolution: Waiting for the Pendulum to Swing Back, By E. Finn, Canadian Forum, August 1995

6. Will the real Stephen Harper please stand up? A citizen’s guide to comparing election campaign promises to deeply held beliefs, By Murray Dobbin, January 10, 2006

7. The Trudeau Empire Has Fallen and It Can’t Get Up! Why now is the time for the Canadian conservative movement to win the War of Ideas, By Gerry Nicholls, December 3, 2008

8. Canadian government adopts America's fear economy, By Rick Salutin, Rabble, July 23, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

Two-Tier Tony Clement and the Gutting of Healthcare

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

When Tony Clement was named the first health minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet, the Canadian Medical Association raised the alarm.

Former Ontario health minister Tony Clement, once dubbed ‘Two-Tier Tony’ for his oft-stated belief there must be more “choice in health care,” has been appointed federal Minister of Health for the newly-minted Conservative government. Critics immediately tabbed the 45-year-old lawyer’s appointment as an omen for further devolution of federal authority in health care and disinterest in enforcing the principles of the Canada Health Act.

“It’s quite shocking,” said Mike McBane, executive-director of the Canadian Health Coalition. “It sends a very clear signal that the Prime Minister would appoint someone who is ideologically committed to privatizing the delivery of the public health care system, someone who was aggressively involved in dismantling the Ontario health care system, in firing nurses and shutting down hospitals, and someone who’s an ideologue. He’s not someone who’s balanced and interested inevidence.” Ontario Health Coalition director Natalie Mehra said Canadians should be “deeply concerned,” given Clement’s support for the privatization and deregulation of long-term care facilities and for the creation of for-profit hospitals in Brantford and Ottawa, while serving as the province’s health minister from February/2001-October/2003. (1)

Credit Where None is Due

It's always interesting when I hear people say that Clement was praised for his handling of the SARS epidemic. That epidemic was a bit of a wake-up call for the arrogant Clement, because he looked around and asked "where are all the nurses?" Good question since he had fired them all.

And after candidly admitting that the public health system was “close to collapse.”
Critics duly noted the system’s deterioration was self-inflicted, as it had been gutted by Tory government measures that included laying off thousands of nurses, as well as turfing scientists in provincial health labs scant months after Clement assumed the portfolio. (1)
The front line workers during the SARS epidemic, knew exactly who was to blame:

As a union of front line providers, we can attest that the SARS outbreak was marked by chaos and confusion, inadequate resources and planning, and a determination to place economic interests above health and safety interests. Employers and government all too often excluded the input of workers. Such an outbreak was almost inevitable given the starvation of our health care system. Worse, we have seen little that gives us hope that the necessary changes are happening.

With the cutback of hospital beds and resources stretched to the limit, there has been a longstanding problem in Toronto hospitals with wait times in emergency rooms. So much so that the Toronto Emergency Medical Services has recently had to devise a new system for leaving patients in hospitals to ensure that ambulance paramedics can return to service in a reasonable amount of time.

As a result, during the outbreak it was not uncommon for paramedics to be required to wait for hours on end in their ambulance with a suspected SARS cases before being allowed to take the patient into emergency. Indeed, paramedics were often re-directed from a hospital unwilling to accept a suspected SARS patient. We are not convinced that the necessary improvements that are required in infection control have been made since the outbreak. Indeed, some negative practices are deepening. (2)

He scrambled to clean up his mess, throwing his weight around, but only history credits him with handling the crisis, instead of preventing it, or at least lessening it, when he had a chance.

Clement always put corporations above people and loved the power of sticking it to those who were less fortunate. Growing up Anthony Payani, raised by a single mom, I don't think he was terribly affluent. But then when his mother married former Ontario Attorney General John Clement, suddenly he was royalty who could snub his nose at everyone.

In 2002, he announced that MRI's would be available to those with money, so they wouldn't have to wait in line with the peasants.

The Ontario Health Coalition reacted with outrage over Health Minister Tony Clement’s announcement of the opening of for-profit bidding on 25 MRI and CT scan machines for Ontario. With this announcement, the provincial government has made clear its intention to take non-profit public hospital services and fund for profit corporations to provide them in private clinics.

“Stubbornly clinging to an ideological approach with no public mandate and no outcome-based evidence, the provincial government is risking the future of our public Medicare system and must be stopped,” said Irene Harris, coalition co chair. “We view this announcement as an extremely grave threat to the future of our Public Medicare system and will respond in kind.” - The Minister still has not justified creating for-profit cancer treatment at Sunnybrook Hospital in the face of a Provincial Auditor’s report that found that the for-profit treatment was more expensive and that waiting lists had not changed. (3)

Later that year he went to Banff where he plugged private health care. The only thing he left out were the facts:
Since it got into government the Ontario PC party [under Mike Harris] has radically altered the balance of public not for profit and private for-profit control of Ontario's health system: approx. 90% of Ontario's laboratory sector is now controlled by a private sector oligopoly of three companies: MDS, Gamma Dynacare (recently bought by Lab Corp), and Canadian Medical Laboratories.

The non profit Victorian Order of Nurses, VHA and Red Cross have closed programs and offices across the province as homecare has been handed over to for-profit corporations such as Bayshore Health Inc., Paramed, Bradson, ComCare, WeCare and others. The majority of Ontario's long term care beds are now controlled by for-profit companies as a result of the PC government's bed awards over the last several years. Several corporations are the big winners: the multinational giants Extendicare Inc. and Central Park Lodges, and domestics Leisureworld and Regency Care.

Cancer treatment is now offered for profit at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, through Canadian Radiation Oncology Services Ltd. Health Minister Tony Clement announced two for-profit hospitals to be built in Ottawa and Brampton with awards to private consortia to be announced in the new year.

.... The government has faced ceaseless complaints as more and more evidence is unearthed that residents' care levels in Ontario's long term care facilities are the poorest in Canada. The Provincial Auditor has found that profitised cancer treatment costs more and hasn't dented waiting lists. Private labs have taken the most profitable section of the service and left the most expensive to the public. (4)
And he didn't do much better as federal minister of health. When it was discovered that several deaths were the result of the products Sleepees and Serenity Pills II, among the nearly 12,000 unapproved natural health products on the market, in Canada, W-Five ran the story.
W-FIVE requested several times to speak to Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement about the four cases of estazolam and Health Canada's enforcement measures, but our repeated requests were declined.
When they tracked him down, on the run, he blamed it on the Liberals. Typical. When they were first elected their answer to everything was "thirteen years" referring to the length of time the Liberals had been in power before them. However, they didn't realize that at some point you have to change the channel. It wasn't until NDP Pat Martin pointed out that they were now part of that thirteen years, that they shut up.

How Mike Harris Stole the 1999 Ontario Election


1. Two-tier Tony Clement appointed new minister of health, Canadian Medical Association Journal, February 22, 2006

2. The Canadian Union of Public Employees Presentation to the Justice Archie Campbell Commission into the SARS Outbreak, September 30, 2003

3. For Profit MRIs and CT Scanners Extremely Grave Threat Ontario Health Coalition Warns of Public Response, Globe and Mail, July 8, 2002

4. Minister Clement's Semantics in Banff Will Disguise Fatal Poison Pill, Ontario Health Coalition, September 4, 2002

5. What's in the Pill, W-Five, CTV News, February 23, 2008

Tony Clement: You Want to Sell What?

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

From his days as a young radical at the University of Toronto, Tony Panayi (Clement) was on a mission to sell our sovereignty to the highest bidder. He was helped in his endeavours by other young neocons, like Tom Long and Leslie Noble.

They took over the campus PC's and later the provincial PCs with the help of Preston Manning and the Reform Party*, the American Republicans who created the concept of the Common Sense Revolution, the National Citizens Coalition and the Fraser Institute, to name just a few.
"Mike Harris's Common Sense Revolution was designed primarily to remake government in the image of big business ... Fortified by corporate "think tanks" like the C.D. Howe and Fraser Institutes, and citizen front groups like the National Citizens Coalition and the Canadian Taxpayers Association." (1)
And in fact, once elected, lobbyists like Guy Giorno and Leslie Noble, had far more power than elected officials.
One pipeline Noble has to influence government decision-makers is the unelected cadre of political aides in the offices of the Premier and his top ministers. These aides, many of whom report to Noble during the election campaign, wield tremendous power in government, a reality acknowledged by some Tory MPPs.

Tory backbencher Bill Murdoch says they openly flaunt their power. ``They say, `Hey Murdoch, we didn't even have to go through an election and we're running the place.' '' Queen's Park Speaker Chris Stockwell, a Tory MPP, calls them a ``cabal'' and says they make decisions without input from elected politicians.

Noble's own correspondence to clients demonstrates a familiar, routine relationship with this unelected cadre. To a client, Noble explains she is contacting Giorno (Harris' director of policy), Hutton (Harris' director of issues management), Lindsay (Harris' chief of staff until last year), Brian Patterson (former economic development minister Bill Saunderson's executive assistant, now assistant to Transportation Minister Tony Clement), Peter Clute (Finance Minister Eves' executive assistant), and John Guthrie (he was Consumer Minister David Tsubouchi's executive assistant). In her correspondence, Noble also describes how she contacts members of ``P and P'' - Priorities and Planning - the inner cabinet that makes most government decisions. (2)
And yet it's interesting to hear her defend Mike Harris as a man of the people in the video at the bottom of this page.

Tony Clement's Fire Sale

In 1997, after too many gaffes and a scandal, Al Palledini was demoted and Tony Clement moved from the backroom and the backbench to the transportation portfolio. At the time Harris was in a bit of trouble. He had carried through with Republican strategist Mike Murphy's 30% tax decrease, and with massive cuts and the implementation of user fees, he was still not able to balance the books. With an election looming, he needed to find some cash and find it fast.

And despite what was said in the video I mentioned, claiming that Harris did not have a privatization agenda, he actually had a privatization minister. And it was he and Tony Clement who decided that the best way to not only generate cash but ensure that no additional revenue could be obtained by the province, they sold a highway. Yep. Highway 407, that has become a veritable cash cow for SNC-Lavalin**, was sold for peanuts. (about 1% of it's value with a 99 year lease)
Rob Sampson, Minister without Portfolio with Responsibility for Privatization, today announced the sale of Highway 407 for dlrs 3.1 billion, making it the largest privatization in Canadian history. Highway 407 will be sold to a consortium of Grupo Ferrovial and its subsidiary Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, SNC-Lavalin, and Capital d'Amerique CDPQ, a subsidiary of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec. The consortium will purchase from the province the right to own and operate Highway 407, along with the obligation to finance, design and build west and east-partial extensions to the highway.

"Completion of the highway is important to Ontario's continued economic growth. It will stimulate new economic activity in communities across the Greater Toronto Area and throughout the province," said Tony Clement, Transportation Minister. "The extensions will also enhance our transportation infrastructure by reducing congestion on Highways 401, 403, and the QEW." ... The province's decision to pursue the sale of the highway was announced February 20, 1998. The transaction is expected to close on May 5, 1999. The terms of the sale will also include an innovative method of regulating tolls and linking toll revenue to congestion relief. "The travelling public will be happy to know that we have struck this deal with their time and pocketbooks in mind," added Sampson. (3)
Except that our pocketbooks were emptied with this deal. As James Bow suggests, it was:
"... the worst decision the Harris government made, which remains a large and lasting legacy: the sale of Highway 407. This flawed decision illustrates the mistaken belief that Harris seemed to have that government was easy, and cuts could be made without consequences ... . provincial taxpayers were short-changed on the deal.

... The big problem was what the Harris government did with the funds raised. As the sale took place, a few months before the 1999 provincial election, the money raised ($3.1 billion) was placed into general revenues. As a result, the Harris government was able to claim that they had balanced the budget after just four years in power, and after inheriting a “massive fiscal mess” from the previous Rae administration. Unfortunately it is a simple fact of accounting that you should not use the funds raised through the sale of capital investments as operating revenue. That’s a very bad credit move, as such revenues simply aren’t sustainable. Many politicians likened this to selling the refrigerator to pay for food. The reduction in the deficit was a phantom, and Ontario’s fiscal situation deteriorated as the economy slowed ... " (4)
Now with the federal government, Clement's selling off of our assets is still his top priority. An example of this was Stelco to Vale from Brazil. Negotiators with Vale now say that they were surprised how easy it was for them. Usually when they invest in foreign companies, governments want assurances that the workers and communities will be protected. But they state that the Harper government and Tony Clement wanted nothing, and as a result we got nothing.
Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement should resign in "disgrace" for refusing to intervene in mining job losses in Sudbury, says a senior official with the United Steelworkers union. "I think (Clement) should step down," said Wayne Fraser, director of Steelworkers District 6 which represents thousands of union members in Ontario and Atlantic Canada."I think he is a disgrace to the government and to the people of Canada," Fraser said. He was reacting to Clement's statement Tuesday that the Conservative government will not take any action against Vale Inco over cutbacks at its Sudbury mining operations. (5)
This is what happens when ideology trumps common decency. They completely ignore the human and humane elements.

Social Darwinism 101.

Two-Tier Tony Clement and the Gutting of Healthcare


*On August 29, 1995, Mike Harris met again with Preston Manning to discuss the possibility of forming an alliance. It would not officially take place until 2000. (Open for Business, 1997, Pg. 21)

**SNC-Lavalin was also given a large contract by Stephen Harper to help with the rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan.


1. Open for Business, Closed to People, The Transnational Corporate Agenda, By Tony Clarke, Fernwood, 1997, ISBN: 1895686733, Pg. 33

2. Queen of the Park: She's the Premier's adviser and Ontario's leading lobbyist. Should taxpayers be concerned? By Kevin Donovan and Moira Welsh, 1999


4. Harris Flawed Legacy. By James Bow, July 13, 2007

5. Clement Should Step Down: Steelworkers, The Sault Star, June 2009