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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Harper ducks questions on Governor General and coalition (in the Toronto Star)

"Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is refusing to say if he would honour any decision by Governor General David Johnston to invite NDP Leader Jack Layton to form a government if the Tories fail to win a majority on Monday.

"Harper repeatedly ducked the question during a tense media availability at a Richmond Hill auto shop on Saturday where journalists were booed and heckled by a throng of Tory partisans."

Full article: Harper ducks questions on Governor General and coalition.

Friday, April 29, 2011

An Open Letter to His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston Governor General of Canada

An Open Letter to His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston Governor General of Canada from Citizens’ Forum for Democracy.

This letter, dated Apr. 25, 2011, clearly states the case for asking the Governor General to consider a "government formed through a cooperative arrangement that could, but not necessarily, be a coalition between groups of duly elected members of Parliament that reflects the will of Canadians as expressed in their total popular vote."

Not coincidentally, the treatment of Linda Keen is also mentioned in this letter, as part of a long list of Harper's abuses of power.

Election ignores nuclear issues, former watchdog says (in the Toronto Star)

"Canada’s energy future is being ignored in the current federal election campaign, says the nuclear watchdog who was fired over her refusal to bend safety standards at the Chalk River reactor.

"Among them, Canada’s supply of nuclear isotopes for medical treatment remains fragile, says Linda Keen, former president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

"Keen also questioned the wisdom of building large, multiple-reactor nuclear stations near growing population centres such as Clarington, next door to the Darlington nuclear site."

Full article: Election ignores nuclear issues, former watchdog says.

One wonders if the Tories are having second thoughts after the debacle in Japan - but then they have a long record of firing people who were trying to look after the public's welfare because their views differed from Tory dogma.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bob Hepburn: In quotes, Harper reveals his true self (in the Toronto Star)

"[The] old Harper re-emerged this week when 500 pages of his quotes were leaked to the media by the Liberals.

"But it wasn’t the Liberals or NDP that had compiled the quotes. Instead, it was the Conservatives themselves. "

Full article: Hepburn: In quotes, Harper reveals his true self.

Things are getting pretty strange in this election... It's a bit like people who store live hand-grenades in their attics...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PM’s callous pitch for votes (editorial in the Toronto Star)

"Is this the role to which the Harper Conservatives aspire in the world? Aggressively marketing a hazardous product that Canadians justly fear in their workplaces, homes, malls and arenas? This is rock bottom in a depressing campaign."

PM’s callous pitch for votes.

Harper hits a new low. Can we please elect someone who will at least start to restore Canada's reputation on the world stage...?

Margaret Atwood: My paper napkin guide to the election (in the Toronto Star)

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 35 volumes of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent novel is The Year of the Flood .

"... vote, and — as they say — cherish the moment. People elsewhere are dying for it."

Margaret Atwood: My paper napkin guide to the election.

Monday, April 25, 2011

One of Rick Mercer's wonderful rants telling the youth to get out and vote (linked to by Toronto Life)

Watch this wonderful YouTube clip: Rick Mercer gets the youth vote out, Conservatives shut it back in.

"Take 20 minutes out of your day, and do what young people all over the world are [literally] dying to do: vote."

Stephen Scharper: No welcome mat for environmentalists (in the Toronto Star)

Stephen Bede Scharper is associate professor with the Centre for Environment, University of Toronto.

"Earlier this month, at a Conservative party campaign rally in Guelph, Joanna MacDonald, a fourth-year university student, was barred from hearing Prime Minister Stephen Harper speak.

"“You have been flagged,” Joanna was told by a rally organizer.

"When asked what that meant, she was informed that the RCMP had run a background check and she was deemed “unfit” to attend. In trying to find out why, she was told by one organizer that it might be because she was part of an environmental club at school. ...

"An environmental geography student at the University of Guelph, Joanna was a Canadian Youth Delegate both in Copenhagen and at the 2010 climate talks in Cancun, Mexico. Currently she is a dedicated student-citizen with a passion for the Earth and a laudable interest in climate change policy.

"Joanna is unaffiliated with any political party, has no criminal record, and comes from a dynamic family that I have known for years. ...

"Joanna MacDonald’s experience has left her not only frustrated, but worried. “What events will I be barred from in future and what repercussions might there be?” she wonders.

"Her questions are applicable to us all. A strong, inclusive democracy, with vigorous and open debate, is the best guarantor that the voices of youth, women, and those who dedicate their lives to a sustainable future will be heard.

"Any government that tries to silence those voices is creating an undemocratic — and inevitably smog-laden — atmosphere."

Full article: No welcome mat for environmentalists.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Disaffected Lib: Clever Boy, Jack!

The Disaffected Lib: Clever Boy, Jack!.

No matter how much you like the NDP, you have to vote strategically this time around. I know, your idealism revolts at doing this, but we cannot risk Harper getting a majority!

Tim Harper: Canada-U.S. relations out of sight, out of mind (in the Toronto Star)

"Those who have tried to force this issue onto the agenda are frustrated but say it is just one of a series of issues that are being ignored.

"“Because we don’t know exactly what it entails, it is difficult to sink our teeth into it,’’ says Emily Gilbert, the director of the Canadian studies program at the University of Toronto.

"But that’s the beauty of keeping things secret.

"Transparency leads to debate and Harper is not interested in that."

Full article: Tim Harper: Canada-U.S. relations out of sight, out of mind.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bob Hepburn: The truth about Harper and medicare (in the Toronto Star)

"While it’s easy to point fingers at Ignatieff for taking his sweet time to come out strongly for medicare, in reality it’s Harper who is one of medicare’s worst enemies.

"Murray Dobbin, a researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives who has studied Harper since the mid-1990s, writes that “people need to know just what Harper is likely to do with medicare and what he has said in the past. People’s memories are short.”"

Full article: Hepburn: The truth about Harper and medicare.

Catherine Porter: Earth lovers make strong case for blocking Harper (in the Toronto Star)

"The only thing worse for the environment than a Harper minority is a Harper majority.

"I’m talking about the biggest environmental threat — climate change. Over the past five years, the Conservatives have not only repeatedly backpedaled on Canada’s promises to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, they’ve aggressively campaigned other countries to follow suit. Under the Tories, the environment minister has become a de facto deputy to the ministry of finance — with the last one leaving to work at a bank and the newest, Peter Kent, spending his inaugural week championing Alberta’s oil sands. ...

"So, where does that leave us? As charities, environmental groups can’t wade into politics without losing their status. They won’t tell you who to vote for, if you care about Mother Earth.

"Left-wing, grassroots groups have filled the void. Both Project Democracy ( and Catch 22 ( are web-based campaigns to block a Harper majority by targeting key ridings. ...

"If I lived in a vulnerable riding, I’d tick whatever box had the best chance of blocking a Tory majority with ruthless determination.

"My children’s future is at stake."

Full article: Porter: Earth lovers make strong case for blocking Harper.

This campaign has so far ignored the biggest challenge facing the country, and in fact the human race - just because Dion was charisma-challenged doesn't mean he was wrong!

Haroon Siddiqui: Republicans would feel right at home (in the Toronto Star)

How did we let this man so Americanize our country - and with only a minority government?

Full article: Siddiqui: Republicans would feel right at home.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nino Ricci: An Open Letter to Stephen Harper

An Open Letter to Stephen Harper.

This may be too subtle for a man who can sing "Imagine" without any signs of embarrassment.

Thomas Walkom: Harper and the subtle erosion of medicare (in the Toronto Star)

"... medicare requires a federal government willing to enforce the Canada Health Act. If, in the name of allowing provincial experimentation, it chooses not to do so, the system simply atrophies.

"As Harper told his Fraser Institute friends six years ago, those who think the Canada Health Act necessarily prevents two-tier medicine are simply wrong. With the right government in control federally, it can be a most flexible instrument."

Full article: Walkom: Harper and the subtle erosion of medicare.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Haroon Siddiqui: Tories divide and conquer (in the Toronto Star)

"The genius of Canada has been that despite hosting peoples from both sides of just about every conflict in the world, we have succeeded in not letting such differences get in the way of getting along with each other. Yet here we have a government, of all Canadians, that’s cynically exploiting, indeed reinforcing, political and social divisions among ethnic communities based on the fault lines of the troubled spots of the world."

Full article: Siddiqui: Tories divide and conquer.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Degrassi’s Charlotte Arnold writes about how voter apathy is an insult to the democratic process (in the Toronto Star)

21-year-old actress Charlotte Arnold writes passionately on why you have to come out to vote if you want anything in our political system to change:

Youth Panel: Degrassi’s Charlotte Arnold on how voter apathy is an insult to the democratic process.

Bob Hepburn: Religious right a force for Harper (in the Toronto Star)

"Unlike past campaigns, though, evangelical right-wing backers of the Conservatives are shunning the national spotlight.

"Instead, they are working at the grassroots level to elect candidates who share their views on hot-button issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, stem-cell research, euthanasia and pornography. ...

"Harper may want to keep the religious right at arm’s-length as he tries to portray his party as middle-of-the road.

"But the religious right is solidly behind him — and working quietly on his behalf."

Full article: Hepburn: Religious right a force for Harper.

Brett Popplewell: Strategic voting: It’s not who you like, but who you don’t (in the Toronto Star)

Brett Popplewell talks about Project Democracy.

"Project Democracy, as the group calls itself, isn’t so much an advocacy group for democratic principles as it is a collaborative online effort to promote strategic voting to block a Conservative majority by whatever means necessary.

"The group’s method: to persuade voters in the country’s “contested ridings” to strategically abandon weaker candidates at the local level and throw their support behind whichever non-Conservative candidate the group deems most able to win — even if that means voting for the Bloc Québécois in some cases."

Full article: Strategic voting: It’s not who you like, but who you don’t.

A number of these organizations and web sites are appearing in a bid to ensure Harper doesn't get his desired majority. Another one worth looking at is

And here's another one: Catch 22 Campaign.

Catherine Porter: ‘Very ethnic’ group wonders where the Conservative love has gone (in the Toronto Star)

"The Ethiopians aren’t the only ethnic group in Ontario jilted by the Tories. Nine other agencies were completely cut off, including the South Asian Women’s Centre, the Afghan Association of Ontario and the Eritrean Canadian Community Centre of Toronto. Twenty-four others had their funding substantially cut. ...

"In March, the members of the House of Commons voted to reverse the cuts. But the decision wasn’t binding and the Conservatives didn’t listen. The funding wasn’t in their recent budget.

"In total, $43 million was slashed from settlement programs in Ontario. That’s $7 million less than the bill for gazebos and brick sidewalks sprinkled around Tony Clement’s lily-white riding last summer. There aren’t many new immigrants in Muskoka searching for English lessons or Amharic translations of their incomprehensible rental agreements.

"Maybe the “very ethnic” Chinese and South Asian immigrants now glowing in Harper’s adoring gaze will think they are somehow different, like all new lovers do. But they aren’t."

Full article: ‘Very ethnic’ group wonders where the Conservative love has gone.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

David Olive: Natural gas “fracking” carries unexamined risks (in the Toronto Star)-

"New York City’s unfiltered water system is unique only in being the largest among the countless unfiltered municipal fresh-water supply systems on the continent. Which could be big trouble if critics of fracking — effectively mini-earthquakes, as veteran environmental reporter and author Andrew Nikiforuk accurately labels the brutal process — are vindicated in their fears. Chief among those is contamination of water tables from migration of the toxic brew of chemicals that gas producers force into the ground along with tremendous amounts of water and sand to force the natural gas to the surface. ...

"While natural gas emits half the greenhouse-gas emissions of oil, a study to be published this week suggests shale-rock gas may be worse for the planet than burning coal. The problem is that huge quantities of planet-warming methane escape into the atmosphere from shale gas wells, according to research by a team led by Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental geology at Cornell University. The study was reported on yesterday by The New York Times."

Full article: Olive: Natural gas “fracking” carries unexamined risks.

And here is one of Tyler Hamilton's consistently well-written articles on the same subject: Industry transparency needed on shale gas emissions.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Linda McQuaig: The sunlit uplands of coalition (in the Toronto Star)

"Harper is now trying to scare off any sort of co-operation among the opposition in the event that the Conservatives win the most seats, yet fail to win a majority.

"But in that situation, it would be entirely legitimate — and democratic — for the opposition parties to refuse to support another Harper government. If Ignatieff insists on ruling out a coalition (in which coalition partners jointly form a cabinet), the opposition parties could simply sign an accord. This would allow one party, presumably the Liberals, to assume power, with a binding written agreement to implement certain policies. (And, yes, an accord might include the Bloc — a party that Harper himself actively pursued as a coalition partner in 2004.)

"An accord worked well in Ontario in the 1980s, when the Liberals and NDP seized an opportunity following an indecisive 1985 provincial election. Although the long-ruling Conservatives had won more seats and expected to stay in power, the Liberals pushed them out, after signing an accord with the NDP.

"That accord called for a number of progressive measures — involving pay equity, social housing and protections for labour, the environment and medicare — which were all passed into law.

"And the public liked the results. ...

"The significance of all this is not lost on [Bob] Rae, now an influential member of the Ignatieff’s caucus."

Full article: McQuaig: The sunlit uplands of coalition.

Edward Greenspon: Ignatieff needs Liberals to come home (in the Toronto Star)

"Post-election research suggested that some 700,000 Liberals sat out 2008 but did not drop out. They neither supported their party nor defected; they still self-identify as Liberals. Their absence produced several anomalies. The Conservatives, for instance, gained 11 additional seats in Ontario with just 35,000 extra votes — from 1,985,000 to 2,020,000. It was the disappearance of 500,000 Liberal supporters in the province that put the Conservatives over the top (and cost the Liberals 16 seats).

"Therefore, Ignatieff’s first significant task, after demonstrating he’s not a foreign alien, has been to give these discouraged Liberals reason to come home. His performance, so far, can only help in tight ridings around Kitchener, London, the outskirts of Toronto and in Northern Ontario (although the Conservatives have not been asleep at the switch themselves).

"Next the Liberal leader has to hold his own with Harper in the debates tonight and tomorrow [English debate tonight, Tues. Apr. 12, and French, Wed. Apr. 13] and maintain his energy level through the faster tempo of the final weeks. Finally, his organizationally atrophied party will need to find a ground game and get out its vote."

Full article: Greenspon: Ignatieff needs Liberals to come home.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yoko Ono can’t Imagine Stephen Harper singing Lennon (NJN Network)

This interesting bit of news was linked to by

Yoko Ono can’t Imagine Stephen Harper singing Lennon.

The man doesn't understand the meaning of the word "irony".

Colin Kenny: Why do freedom fighters yearn for locks and keys? (in the Toronto Star)

Colin Kenny is a Liberal senator and former chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

"For some people justice is all about revenge, where the good people in white hats get back at the bad people in black hats. Like most simple solutions, this one is for simpletons."

Full article: Why do freedom fighters yearn for locks and keys?.

Great cartoon by Malcolm Mayes!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Disaffected Lib: When Global Warming Turns Real

Article by the Disaffected Lib (aka The Mound of Sound), citing Sunday's article in The Boston Globe:

The Disaffected Lib: When Global Warming Turns Real.

Heather Mallick: Six questions for Harper (in the Toronto Star)

Six is one more than she's allowed - and they're all good ones!

Mallick: Six questions for Harper.

Coalition would not be bad for the economy, experts say (in the Toronto Star)

"On the whole, Canada is in an enviable position, Hopkins [Mark Hopkins, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in Pennsylvania] said. “It doesn’t need to have severe austerity measures. The economy is recovering. It has the money to spend on what it wants, corporate tax cuts or money for seniors. Now that’s going to be up to the electorate to make that call.”"

Full article: Coalition would not be bad for the economy, experts say.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Four new genes linked to Alzheimer’s risk (in the Toronto Star)

"These new genes, however, point to biochemical processes in the disease that researchers initially thought were irrelevant and happened at the end of the disease, St. George-Hyslop [Dr. Peter St. George-Hyslop, director of U of T’s Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases] said.

"“What these genes tell us is we had it wrong,” he said. “These processes are in fact really rather early parts of the disorder and (ones) that we need to pay attention to, because they are causing the disease rather than simply reacting to the disease.”"

Full article in the Star's Four new genes linked to Alzheimer’s risk.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Researchers claim they found Atlantis in a Spanish swamp (in The Globe and Mail)

Researchers have found "a series of three concentric belts of structures built on an artificial island, mirroring Plato’s descriptions" under a marsh in Spain. The locations is not that far from where Plato claimed Atlantis was located.

Full article: Researchers claim they found Atlantis in a Spanish swamp.

While many locations have been claimed for Atlantis, probably the current favorite being Santorini (Thera), which blew its top in a cataclysm thought to have destroyed the Minoan civilization, this could still be the one! And it has the advantage of matching Plato's description of the location pretty closely. Don't forget that nobody believed Troy was a real place until Schliemann unearthed it!

Rick Salutin talks about not giving up on elections (in the Toronto Star)

Rick Salutin reminds us that the outcome of elections is never fixed beforehand - even the famous cynic Machiavelli said,

"“Men ought never give way to despair; since they do not know their end and it comes through indirect and unknown ways, they always have reason to hope.” "

Full article: Salutin: The romance of elections (seriously).