The Ranting Canadian

Due to the poor attendance at Rob Ford’s campaign kickoff party, his new theme song could be “Half Empty Halls” by The Evaporators.

By most accounts, the April 17, 2014 event was a flop, with low turnout, no “history in the making" moments (another Ford promise broken), none of the celebrity appearances that were anticipated, and a lackluster speech full of lies, clichés and vague pledges. According to some, Ford was even heckled a bunch of times.

TV footage showed a lot of people waiting in line to get Ford T-shirts and bobblehead dolls, but it seems that many of those people were not genuine supporters, and left soon after getting their memorabilia, perhaps to sell online.

View during Rob Ford's 2014 campaign kickoff speech.

The Ford campaign booked an enormous banquet hall; rented tables, chairs, tablecloths, sound equipment, etc.; shelled out for servers and other staff; hired a rock band and bagpipers; hung large printed banners; gave away free alcohol and snacks; handed out other freebies; and brought along an old fire truck as a prop (which brother Randy bought for $4,000 at an auction). There were probably many other expenses too.

Whenever I see these massive Ford crime family events, I wonder who the hell is paying for it all. What political financing laws are being broken? What business expenses and tax refunds are being claimed illegally? How much drug money is being laundered? I doubt the full costs will ever be revealed to the authorities and the public.

In the last Toronto election, more than one third of the [on-the-books] money donated to the Rob Ford mayoral campaign came from outside of Toronto, from people who could not vote in the Toronto election. Many of the people at his April 17 kickoff event do not live in Toronto either. In May, Ford’s first fundraising event for this campaign (a $300-a-plate gala for the rich elites he claims to hate) will be in Vaughan instead of Toronto. A few months ago, wackjob city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (a Ford ally) held an illegal fundraising event in nearby Woodbridge, at which lobbyists and other sleazy operators paid $5,000 per table. This is the kind of backroom corruption that the Fords pretend to oppose, but fully embrace in practice.

Attendees of the Ford kickoff party who spoke to the media displayed low intelligence, pathetic gullibility and almost no sense of reality. They are lost causes who will never be swayed by facts, so the Olivia Chow campaign has to move past them and focus on getting her own supporters to vote in October, and on convincing swing voters to come on board.

Torontonians cannot be complacent. Although polls show Chow in the lead, when one takes into account the margin of error, there is essentially a three-way tie between Chow, Ford and John Tory (Ford-lite). The election is months away and everything is still up for grabs. A Ford or Tory victory would be another win for the rich corporate elites and their cronies. Chow is the only option.

"I can’t even get my friends to like me."
Mark this date: April 16, 2014. Disgraced Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper tells the truth for the first time in his political career, as he campaigns at the state funeral of former finance minister Jim Flaherty. The rest of Harper’s speech was full of lies and propaganda, as usual.
Harper should be more like Flaherty (in his current state).

"I can’t even get my friends to like me."

Mark this date: April 16, 2014. Disgraced Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper tells the truth for the first time in his political career, as he campaigns at the state funeral of former finance minister Jim Flaherty. The rest of Harper’s speech was full of lies and propaganda, as usual.

Harper should be more like Flaherty (in his current state).

Canadians will forever be indebted because of Jim Flaherty.
Regardless of what one thinks of the recently deceased man on a personal level, if one uses objective, non-emotional criteria, it is clear that he was probably the worst finance minister in Canadian history. Unfortunately for us, his replacement, Joe Oliver, will likely be much worse.  
Almost immediately after Flaherty’s death became public, the fawning political praise and sickening historical revisionism flooded in like oil from an Enbridge pipeline spill. Over-the-top accolades for the small callous man have been stomach-churning, and are an insult to his many victims. It is too easy for comfortable politicians and pundits to overlook the damage he has caused to so many lives. 
Crediting Flaherty for his supposed “steady hand on the tiller” during the recent recession (which still lingers today) is outrageous nonsense. The fact that Canada’s economy didn’t collapse as much as some of the other economies is in spite of Flaherty and the Conservatives, not because of them. The previous Liberal government left the Conservatives with a budget surplus, a somewhat-regulated banking sector, and certain protections for other economic sectors. 
Before the worldwide financial meltdown hit, the Conservatives had been screaming for years to deregulate the financial sector and other key sectors. If they had gotten their way back then, the recent economic collapse in Canada would be much worse. With all the reckless and treasonous economic policies that Flaherty has helped bring in during his federal tenure, Canada will be hit much harder in the next big downturn.  B-b-b-baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Applauding Flaherty for gradually reining in his annual federal deficits and reversing some of his other misguided fiscal policies is like treating a child as a hero for slowly, yet only partially, cleaning up a mess he created in the first place! 
Flaherty’s financial mismanagement started well before the 2008 recession hit. Then, when it became obvious to most that Canada was going into recession, Flaherty he kept insisting that the country would be magically spared, until he had no choice but to admit the truth (without admitting he had been wrong). A man with integrity would have resigned after being caught in lies so big. Later, Flaherty kept bragging that he would stay on as federal finance minister until he got the annual federal budget balanced again. Another Conservative promise broken.
Praising Flaherty for his years of “public service” is horseshit. He wasn’t an unpaid intern, minimum wage worker or a frontline soldier. The Canadian taxpayers paid him very well, and gave him a lifestyle of comfort and luxury beyond the wildest dreams of most working-class Canadians. No wonder he seemed happy-go-lucky much of the time. He got his. Flaherty had no loyalty to Canadians; he served his political party and the multinational corporations, not the general public. 
As for the boldly dishonest Globe and Mail headline claiming that Flaherty “always fought for the little guy”, you have to be fucking kidding me! Flaherty was an enemy in the class war. He was a traitor to his family’s humble roots. He showed no sympathy for those who were down on their luck and couldn’t catch a break. Instead of helping the little guy up, he kicked that guy while he was down, spit in his face and added verbal insults to those injuries. Flaherty was no friend of the poor and disadvantaged. They were beneath him.
Here are some of the lowlights in Flaherty’s horrible political career:


● As the finance minister in Ontario’s Mike Harris government, he severely cut social assistance, housing, healthcare, education, water testing and other valuable programs, leading to increased homelessness, poverty, hopelessness, medical suffering and deaths.
● Also as the Ontario finance minister, Flaherty played a key role in rushing through the 99-year lease of Highway 407 (built with tax dollars) to a sleazy and/or incompetent Spanish corporation that has ripped off drivers, either by mistake or by design. That foreign corporation got an extremely generous deal and Ontarians got the shaft. Flaherty used that deal and other shady backroom sales of public assets to make his financial books look good. Short-term gain for long-term pain.
● Near the end of his provincial career – by then the Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation – Flaherty was complicit in the Progressive Conservatives’ fraudulent claim that they had of an annual budget surplus, which the incoming Ontario Liberal government later confirmed to be a $5.6 billion deficit. In a just world, there would have been criminal convictions.
● In his early days of being the federal finance minister, Flaherty irrationally and viciously declared to the world that businesses should not invest in Ontario. His treasonous dig was petty-minded revenge against Ontarians for voting Liberal in the 2003 provincial election.
● Flaherty financially screwed over retirees by suddenly taxing income trusts after explicitly promising not to.
● He and the Conservatives massively increased the federal debt, which one source says is almost $620 billion and another source says is almost $680 billion (as of April 12, 2014). That is up from $481.5 billion in 2006, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives took over from the Paul Martin Liberals. That means approximately 22 to 29 per cent of Canada’s federal debt was racked up under Flaherty’s watch. That’s right; between 20 and 30 per cent of Canada’s entire federal debt, spanning almost 150 years of government, was racked up in just eight years. The federal debt would be even bigger if the federal government had not downloaded many of its financial liabilities to the lower levels of government. Note that the federal Liberals were guilty of downloading too, but the Harper Conservatives never reversed that.
● Flaherty implemented a “starve the beast” strategy: 
1)Waste money on non-priorities such as pork-barrel projects, irresponsible tax cuts, luxuries for his fellow politicians, the useless G20 and G8 conferences, the aggressive occupation of Afghanistan,  expensive political propaganda, and no-strings-attached subsidies for big corporations (especially tarsands corporations). 
2) Claim that we can no longer afford the services and regulations that Canadians depend on. 
3) Slash those cherished services and regulations under the guise of balancing the budget. 
4) Repeat.
● He enacted policies that resulted in increased unemployment and underemployment (especially for younger Canadians), lower wage rates, less stability, reduced benefits, shrunk pensions,  intensified economic inequality and the race to the bottom.
● Flaherty increased payroll taxes, which disproportionately hurts people who acquire most of their income by working for wages, instead of living off investments.
● He and his Conservative colleagues actively contributed to the preventable crisis of jobs being sent out of the country while submissive “temporary” foreign workers are imported to  replace qualified Canadian workers. This is a recipe for disaster.
● Flaherty enabled wealthy insiders to evade taxes and refused to give Canada Revenue Agency the resources needed to crack down on major tax cheats.
● He pushed the HST (Harper Sales Tax) onto Ontario and British Columbia (with the cooperation of their provincial governments). In Ontario, the provincial Liberals and federal Conservatives promised that the HST – which added sales tax to many basic goods and services that were tax-free before – would create thousands of jobs and cause businesses to lower their prices. Neither has happened.
● Flaherty allowed Harper to transform federal budget bills into gigantic omnibus bills with more non-budget items than actual budget items. Their size (hundreds of pages) and purpose (to sneak through extreme changes without proper examination or debate) have been unprecedented in Canada. 
● He added to the problem of the overheated Canadian housing market, which has led to insanely high prices for houses and condos, especially in major urban areas. This has mostly benefitted the banksters and those who work in the real estate industry, at the expense of everyone else. 
● He used his influence and connections to help the Ford crime family get elected to Toronto city council, and he hurled insults at those who dared criticize Rob the crackhead mayor.

 
This is the stuff of his legacy. Oh, but he smiled a lot and he was friendly to opposition politicians.
One could argue that Flaherty wasn’t all to blame, and that he was merely a puppet of Harris, Harper and their corporate masters. That theory does not make Flaherty look any better. It makes him look spineless, opportunistic and selfish. Blaming his failed federal record on the global recession is also a cop-out, an excuse that his fellow Cons would never accept if it came from another political party 
Politics isn’t an abstract game or a debating club. This is real life, and real people have been harmed (and continue to be harmed) by Flaherty’s actions and inactions. People have actually died because of his punitive policies. Canada is worse off because of what Flaherty did in office, and the nation may never recover, even if the NDP or Liberals win the next election.
I understand it’s an emotional time for some and it’s hard to not empathize with Flaherty’s family and friends, but please show at least a minimum level of human decency and think about his victims. Grieve the fact that Flaherty spent his adult life on the wrong side of righteousness and he lost his opportunity to right his wrongs. Above all else, please restrain the urge to re-write history. The lies and distortions are too much to bear, so spare us.

Canadians will forever be indebted because of Jim Flaherty.

Regardless of what one thinks of the recently deceased man on a personal level, if one uses objective, non-emotional criteria, it is clear that he was probably the worst finance minister in Canadian history. Unfortunately for us, his replacement, Joe Oliver, will likely be much worse. 

Almost immediately after Flaherty’s death became public, the fawning political praise and sickening historical revisionism flooded in like oil from an Enbridge pipeline spill. Over-the-top accolades for the small callous man have been stomach-churning, and are an insult to his many victims. It is too easy for comfortable politicians and pundits to overlook the damage he has caused to so many lives.

Crediting Flaherty for his supposed “steady hand on the tiller” during the recent recession (which still lingers today) is outrageous nonsense. The fact that Canada’s economy didn’t collapse as much as some of the other economies is in spite of Flaherty and the Conservatives, not because of them. The previous Liberal government left the Conservatives with a budget surplus, a somewhat-regulated banking sector, and certain protections for other economic sectors.

Before the worldwide financial meltdown hit, the Conservatives had been screaming for years to deregulate the financial sector and other key sectors. If they had gotten their way back then, the recent economic collapse in Canada would be much worse. With all the reckless and treasonous economic policies that Flaherty has helped bring in during his federal tenure, Canada will be hit much harder in the next big downturn.  B-b-b-baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Applauding Flaherty for gradually reining in his annual federal deficits and reversing some of his other misguided fiscal policies is like treating a child as a hero for slowly, yet only partially, cleaning up a mess he created in the first place!

Flaherty’s financial mismanagement started well before the 2008 recession hit. Then, when it became obvious to most that Canada was going into recession, Flaherty he kept insisting that the country would be magically spared, until he had no choice but to admit the truth (without admitting he had been wrong). A man with integrity would have resigned after being caught in lies so big. Later, Flaherty kept bragging that he would stay on as federal finance minister until he got the annual federal budget balanced again. Another Conservative promise broken.

Praising Flaherty for his years of “public service” is horseshit. He wasn’t an unpaid intern, minimum wage worker or a frontline soldier. The Canadian taxpayers paid him very well, and gave him a lifestyle of comfort and luxury beyond the wildest dreams of most working-class Canadians. No wonder he seemed happy-go-lucky much of the time. He got his. Flaherty had no loyalty to Canadians; he served his political party and the multinational corporations, not the general public.

As for the boldly dishonest Globe and Mail headline claiming that Flaherty “always fought for the little guy”, you have to be fucking kidding me! Flaherty was an enemy in the class war. He was a traitor to his family’s humble roots. He showed no sympathy for those who were down on their luck and couldn’t catch a break. Instead of helping the little guy up, he kicked that guy while he was down, spit in his face and added verbal insults to those injuries. Flaherty was no friend of the poor and disadvantaged. They were beneath him.

Here are some of the lowlights in Flaherty’s horrible political career:

● As the finance minister in Ontario’s Mike Harris government, he severely cut social assistance, housing, healthcare, education, water testing and other valuable programs, leading to increased homelessness, poverty, hopelessness, medical suffering and deaths.

● Also as the Ontario finance minister, Flaherty played a key role in rushing through the 99-year lease of Highway 407 (built with tax dollars) to a sleazy and/or incompetent Spanish corporation that has ripped off drivers, either by mistake or by design. That foreign corporation got an extremely generous deal and Ontarians got the shaft. Flaherty used that deal and other shady backroom sales of public assets to make his financial books look good. Short-term gain for long-term pain.

● Near the end of his provincial career – by then the Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation – Flaherty was complicit in the Progressive Conservatives’ fraudulent claim that they had of an annual budget surplus, which the incoming Ontario Liberal government later confirmed to be a $5.6 billion deficit. In a just world, there would have been criminal convictions.

● In his early days of being the federal finance minister, Flaherty irrationally and viciously declared to the world that businesses should not invest in Ontario. His treasonous dig was petty-minded revenge against Ontarians for voting Liberal in the 2003 provincial election.

● Flaherty financially screwed over retirees by suddenly taxing income trusts after explicitly promising not to.

● He and the Conservatives massively increased the federal debt, which one source says is almost $620 billion and another source says is almost $680 billion (as of April 12, 2014). That is up from $481.5 billion in 2006, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives took over from the Paul Martin Liberals. That means approximately 22 to 29 per cent of Canada’s federal debt was racked up under Flaherty’s watch. That’s right; between 20 and 30 per cent of Canada’s entire federal debt, spanning almost 150 years of government, was racked up in just eight years. The federal debt would be even bigger if the federal government had not downloaded many of its financial liabilities to the lower levels of government. Note that the federal Liberals were guilty of downloading too, but the Harper Conservatives never reversed that.

● Flaherty implemented a “starve the beast” strategy:

1)Waste money on non-priorities such as pork-barrel projects, irresponsible tax cuts, luxuries for his fellow politicians, the useless G20 and G8 conferences, the aggressive occupation of Afghanistan,  expensive political propaganda, and no-strings-attached subsidies for big corporations (especially tarsands corporations).

2) Claim that we can no longer afford the services and regulations that Canadians depend on.

3) Slash those cherished services and regulations under the guise of balancing the budget.

4) Repeat.

● He enacted policies that resulted in increased unemployment and underemployment (especially for younger Canadians), lower wage rates, less stability, reduced benefits, shrunk pensions,  intensified economic inequality and the race to the bottom.

● Flaherty increased payroll taxes, which disproportionately hurts people who acquire most of their income by working for wages, instead of living off investments.

● He and his Conservative colleagues actively contributed to the preventable crisis of jobs being sent out of the country while submissive “temporary” foreign workers are imported to  replace qualified Canadian workers. This is a recipe for disaster.

● Flaherty enabled wealthy insiders to evade taxes and refused to give Canada Revenue Agency the resources needed to crack down on major tax cheats.

● He pushed the HST (Harper Sales Tax) onto Ontario and British Columbia (with the cooperation of their provincial governments). In Ontario, the provincial Liberals and federal Conservatives promised that the HST – which added sales tax to many basic goods and services that were tax-free before – would create thousands of jobs and cause businesses to lower their prices. Neither has happened.

● Flaherty allowed Harper to transform federal budget bills into gigantic omnibus bills with more non-budget items than actual budget items. Their size (hundreds of pages) and purpose (to sneak through extreme changes without proper examination or debate) have been unprecedented in Canada.

He added to the problem of the overheated Canadian housing market, which has led to insanely high prices for houses and condos, especially in major urban areas. This has mostly benefitted the banksters and those who work in the real estate industry, at the expense of everyone else.

● He used his influence and connections to help the Ford crime family get elected to Toronto city council, and he hurled insults at those who dared criticize Rob the crackhead mayor.

 

This is the stuff of his legacy. Oh, but he smiled a lot and he was friendly to opposition politicians.

One could argue that Flaherty wasn’t all to blame, and that he was merely a puppet of Harris, Harper and their corporate masters. That theory does not make Flaherty look any better. It makes him look spineless, opportunistic and selfish. Blaming his failed federal record on the global recession is also a cop-out, an excuse that his fellow Cons would never accept if it came from another political party

Politics isn’t an abstract game or a debating club. This is real life, and real people have been harmed (and continue to be harmed) by Flaherty’s actions and inactions. People have actually died because of his punitive policies. Canada is worse off because of what Flaherty did in office, and the nation may never recover, even if the NDP or Liberals win the next election.

I understand it’s an emotional time for some and it’s hard to not empathize with Flaherty’s family and friends, but please show at least a minimum level of human decency and think about his victims. Grieve the fact that Flaherty spent his adult life on the wrong side of righteousness and he lost his opportunity to right his wrongs. Above all else, please restrain the urge to re-write history. The lies and distortions are too much to bear, so spare us.

March 12, 2014 was the day that the Canadian government officially ended its 12-year occupation of Afghanistan. What a pointless waste of lives, money and resources for a so-called “mission” that was never clearly defined and kept changing whenever the previous excuses stopped fooling the public.

Hopefully the Canadian military does actually get out of that country instead of doing what the Americans usually do when they invade countries across the globe: set up permanent bases and never leave.

Based on the evidence, the Jean Chretien Liberals committed our troops to this directionless, bloody escapade as a way to appease the American military-industrial complex, which was pressuring them to send our troops to kill and die in the unjustified and illegal attack on Iraq. Part of that pressure included the threat that Canadian companies would be shut out of the bidding processes for post-war infrastructure rebuilding and natural resource extracting contracts.

Canada’s current prime minister, Stephen Harper, who was in the opposition at that time, was majorly pissed off that the Liberals didn’t order our military to commit war crimes in Iraq. He seethed with rage that Canadians weren’t participating in that slaughter. It turned out, however, that the Chretien government covertly sent Canadian troops to Iraq anyway.

After the Harper Conservatives took over the federal government in 2006, they stepped up the aggression in Afghanistan, leading to a massive increase in the deaths and injuries of Canadian troops, as well as Afghani civilians. Each time a Canadian soldier died or became wounded, Harper saw that as proof that Canada was contributing to the some sort of cause.

Now, after all those years, all those deaths, all those injuries, all those post-traumatic stress disorder cases, all those suicides, all those drug addictions, all those shattered families, what do we have to show for it? Not fucking much. What a disgusting, horrible shame.

——————————————————————————————————-

The song in the above link is “Afghanistan” by Jimmy Cliff. It’s a reworking of his decades-earlier song “Vietnam”.

There has been a lot of talk in the Canadian mainstream media and from the mainstream Canadian political parties about the middle class, but almost no discussion of the working class. Even the (slightly) left-of-centre New Democratic Party (NDP) keeps using the buzzwords “middle-class families” instead of “workers” or “working-class people”.
I understand they do it because the PR consultants told them it would help them attract potential swing voters, who are irrationally scared off by honourable but misunderstood terms like “socialism”, “labour movement” and “leftist”, but it’s still disappointing. It drives me nuts when Conservatives and Liberals spread the lie that the NDP is “far left”, “radical” or “socialist”. The centrist NDP only looks left-wing compared to the right-of-centre, pro-corporate, pro-globalization Liberal Party and the quasi-fascist, pro-corporate, pro-globalization Conservative Party.
Most Canadians consider themselves middle class even if they are not. Working-class people want to fool themselves into thinking their socioeconomic situation is better than it actually is, and upper-class people want to fool everyone else into thinking the wealthy are just like everyone else, working hard to pay the bills.
Many Canadians in similar financial situations as my peers consider themselves middle class, even though their annual incomes are tens of thousands of dollars lower than the incomes of the real middle class. When the media interviews typical middle class Canadians, those individuals admit to making a lot more money than many of us ever will, but they grumble that they feel like they are “just getting by” due to mortgages, kids, car payments, etc. Am I supposed to feel sympathy for them? Compared to many of my contemporaries, those people are rich and privileged.
We were promised for years that eventually we would get our piece of the pie once the older workers retired. Instead, the older workers stayed on longer than expected, sometimes going back to work while collecting pensions, and then – in many cases – once those workers retired, the jobs were either outsourced, turned into short-term contracts with no benefits, or eliminated altogether.
I’d rather become a champagne socialist than remain a cheap-wine commie for the rest of my life. There is no glory in being underpaid, overstressed  and non-unionized. If I somehow eventually land one of those elusive high-paying middle-class jobs, I certainly wouldn’t fritter away my increased income on a big house, new cars, expensive entertainment or on raising children – thus falling back into the trap of “just getting by”. Wealth is wasted on the wealthy.
It raises the question, how do these people get their high-paying middle class jobs in the first place? I don’t mean the lawyerin’, doctorin’ or engineerin’ jobs and such. Obviously, careers like that require specific academic credentials and personality types. In today’s Canada, many such professions are difficult to break into even with the proper qualifications, due to the high applicant-to-job ratio and the extreme cost of starting up one’s own practice. I’m talking about the jobs that only require a well-rounded education, intelligence, flexibility and a good work ethic.
There are a lot of Canadians in those types of jobs, so obviously they had to find them somewhere. Those jobs aren’t often posted online or in the newspaper classified ads, so where do people find them? Career counsellors love telling people to “network, network, network,” but that only works if the people you network with have something to offer. Randomly contacting strangers in high places, hoping for favours, has about as much of a success rate as buying a lottery ticket or breaking into show business. Sometimes cold-calling potential employers or mentors can backfire. Keep in mind that “move to Alberta” is not, and cannot be, the one-size-fits-all solution for the whole country. The Harper-Conservative Economic Action Plan has been a complete fraud and scam.
————————————————————————————————
Above image found at http://www.facebook.com/boycottsunnewsnetwork

There has been a lot of talk in the Canadian mainstream media and from the mainstream Canadian political parties about the middle class, but almost no discussion of the working class. Even the (slightly) left-of-centre New Democratic Party (NDP) keeps using the buzzwords “middle-class families” instead of “workers” or “working-class people”.

I understand they do it because the PR consultants told them it would help them attract potential swing voters, who are irrationally scared off by honourable but misunderstood terms like “socialism”, “labour movement” and “leftist”, but it’s still disappointing. It drives me nuts when Conservatives and Liberals spread the lie that the NDP is “far left”, “radical” or “socialist”. The centrist NDP only looks left-wing compared to the right-of-centre, pro-corporate, pro-globalization Liberal Party and the quasi-fascist, pro-corporate, pro-globalization Conservative Party.

Most Canadians consider themselves middle class even if they are not. Working-class people want to fool themselves into thinking their socioeconomic situation is better than it actually is, and upper-class people want to fool everyone else into thinking the wealthy are just like everyone else, working hard to pay the bills.

Many Canadians in similar financial situations as my peers consider themselves middle class, even though their annual incomes are tens of thousands of dollars lower than the incomes of the real middle class. When the media interviews typical middle class Canadians, those individuals admit to making a lot more money than many of us ever will, but they grumble that they feel like they are “just getting by” due to mortgages, kids, car payments, etc. Am I supposed to feel sympathy for them? Compared to many of my contemporaries, those people are rich and privileged.

We were promised for years that eventually we would get our piece of the pie once the older workers retired. Instead, the older workers stayed on longer than expected, sometimes going back to work while collecting pensions, and then – in many cases – once those workers retired, the jobs were either outsourced, turned into short-term contracts with no benefits, or eliminated altogether.

I’d rather become a champagne socialist than remain a cheap-wine commie for the rest of my life. There is no glory in being underpaid, overstressed  and non-unionized. If I somehow eventually land one of those elusive high-paying middle-class jobs, I certainly wouldn’t fritter away my increased income on a big house, new cars, expensive entertainment or on raising children – thus falling back into the trap of “just getting by”. Wealth is wasted on the wealthy.

It raises the question, how do these people get their high-paying middle class jobs in the first place? I don’t mean the lawyerin’, doctorin’ or engineerin’ jobs and such. Obviously, careers like that require specific academic credentials and personality types. In today’s Canada, many such professions are difficult to break into even with the proper qualifications, due to the high applicant-to-job ratio and the extreme cost of starting up one’s own practice. I’m talking about the jobs that only require a well-rounded education, intelligence, flexibility and a good work ethic.

There are a lot of Canadians in those types of jobs, so obviously they had to find them somewhere. Those jobs aren’t often posted online or in the newspaper classified ads, so where do people find them? Career counsellors love telling people to “network, network, network,” but that only works if the people you network with have something to offer. Randomly contacting strangers in high places, hoping for favours, has about as much of a success rate as buying a lottery ticket or breaking into show business. Sometimes cold-calling potential employers or mentors can backfire. Keep in mind that “move to Alberta” is not, and cannot be, the one-size-fits-all solution for the whole country. The Harper-Conservative Economic Action Plan has been a complete fraud and scam.

————————————————————————————————

Above image found at http://www.facebook.com/boycottsunnewsnetwork

Harper-&-Rogues Gallery - Part 3

Recent news that the drummer in Stephen Harper’s terrible cover band was charged with sex crimes re-emphasizes the fact that Harper loves to surround himself with sleazebags, crooks and various ne’er-do-wells. That’s because he is one of them. Here is part three of a gallery of photos of Harper with undesirables. From top to bottom, Harper is with:

1.  Brian Mulroney, the second-worst prime minister of Canada (obviously, as you know, Harper is clearly the worst). In addition to being an corrupt, bribe-taking, patronage-appointing, tax-abusing liar, Mulroney kick-started the destruction of the Canadian economy by embracing “trickle-down” economics and signing the treasonous, job-killing, wage-lowering, sovereignty-smashing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  Near the end of his second term, Mulroney was hated so much that he resigned early and his party, the Progressive Conservatives, only won two seats in the next election.

2. Silvio Berlusconi, the disgraced former prime minister of Italy. In addition to being a bigoted, fascist-influenced, thoroughly corrupt politician who was convicted of white collar crimes, he was a sleazy misogynist who was charged for hiring underage prostitutes and was found guilty of paying one 17-year-old for sex. He also owned a large part of the Italian media and had alleged ties to the Mafia.

3. Vic Toews, former Conservative cabinet minister who resigned in disgrace. His main legacy is trying to force through legislation that would allow the authorities to spy on people’s Internet activities without a warrant or just cause. He insulted freedom-loving Canadians by sneering that they could “either stand with us or with the child pornographers” before later admitting that he hadn’t even read the dictatorship-style bill. Opposing gay rights and portraying himself as a religious “family values” social conservative, Toews divorced his wife after cheating on her, including with their teenage babysitter (who he got pregnant). Apparently, he also fell behind on his court-ordered child support payments.

4. Pam Wallin, suspended Harper-appointed senator who fraudulently abused senate expense money for personal and partisan reasons, falsely claimed residence in a province she doesn’t live in, then tried to cover it all up.

5. Bev Oda, former Conservative MP who resigned in disgrace. She misused tax money for personal reasons, such as limo rides and luxury hotel stays.  She also fraudulently altered an official government document. She resigned early.

6. Rob Anders, bigoted right-wing extremist Conservative MP who fell asleep while meeting with veterans and hurled insults at them when he woke up. He also called Nelson Mandela a communist terrorist, used tax money to mail out anti-gay propaganda, and called a proposed transgender human rights law the “bathroom bill” .

7. Arthur Porter, white collar criminal who Harper appointed to be chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which is supposed to be watchdog of Canada’s spy agencies, but acts as a lapdog. He is hiding out in Panama and fighting extradition to Canada, where he faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit government fraud, abuse of trust, secret commissions and laundering the proceeds of a crime.

8. Mike Harris, disgraced former Ontario premier.  The silver-spoon elite and failed teacher became the Progressive [sic] Conservative Premier and enacted cruel, irresponsible policies that resulted in much suffering, including deaths. He was so despised near the end of his second term that he resigned early. His party lost the next Ontario election, and has not won again.

9.  Henry Kissinger, American war criminal.

10. Margaret Thatcher, disgraced former prime minister of the United Kingdom. Her elitist, trickle-down, pro-corporate, pro-rich, anti-worker policies led to the destruction of the UK economy and threw millions of working class people onto the scrapheap.

Some of the people who should have been included didn’t have photos with Harper online. Others had to be left out due to space and time restrictions. Technically, every Conservative MP could be included, because not one of them is an ethical or decent human being, including those who put up phony fronts for the adoring media. Everyone who remains a member of the Harper regime has abandoned any pretense of owning a moral compass, and has traded integrity for money and privilege.

Click here for part one.

Click here for part two.

Harper-&-Rogues Gallery - Part 2

Recent news that the drummer in Stephen Harper’s terrible cover band was charged with sex crimes re-emphasizes the fact that Harper loves to surround himself with sleazebags, crooks and various ne’er-do-wells. That’s because he is one of them. Here is part two of a gallery of photos of Harper with undesirables. From top to bottom, Harper is with:

1. Pierre Poilivere, the prick who Harper has put in charge of dismantling democracy in Canada. Their goals include hobbling the other political parties, suppressing the vote turnout (especially amongst young Canadians), allowing rich people to have more influence, and rigging elections in favour of the Conservative Party. Since they can’t win without cheating, they will make it easier to cheat and get away with it.

2. Stockwell Day and Chuck Strahl, disgraced former Conservative Party MPs. Day is a religious extremist with a history of dirty politics and idiotic comments. He is now a sleazy lobbyist and media pundit. For some reason, the tax-funded CBC keeps giving him a platform to spout his nonsense.

Strahl is a career politician who inherited a business and his political career from his father. After years of enacting terrible policies and committing dirty deeds in government, Strahl resigned to work in the private sector. Harper later appointed him to be the head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which is supposed to be a watchdog of Canada’s spy agencies, but acted as a mere lapdog. At the same time, Strahl was a lobbyist for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project. After someone pointed out this was a conflict of interest, Strahl resigned from the watchdog position instead of giving up the lobbying gig.

3. Tom Flanagan, political mentor and former political colleague of Harper. The bigoted Flanagan has made comments excusing the consumption of illegal child porn, and has admitted he was on the mailing list of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), an organization for pedophiles. He also publicly advocated the assassination of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

4. Hamid Karzai, the corrupt and untrustworthy American-installed president of Afghanistan.

5. Andrew Prescott, allegedly the “Pierre Poutine” in the so-called “Robocalls Scandal”.  During the last federal election, Conservatives made fraudulent phone calls to suspected supporters of other political parties, in order to discourage or prevent them from voting. The term “Robocalls” is misleading, because many of the phone calls were made by live operators.

6. Michael Sona, another suspect in the so-called “Robocalls Scandal”. Elections Canada charged him for “having wilfully prevented or endeavoured to prevent an elector from voting at an election.” Harper and the Conservative Party elites want him to take the fall, but it is very clear that Sona was one of many involved in the illegal scheme.

7. Mike Duffy, suspended Harper-appointed Conservative senator who fraudulently used senate expense funds for personal and partisan purposes, falsely claimed residence in a province he didn’t live in, and then participated in a cover-up.

8. Nigel Wright, disgraced former chief of staff for Harper. Wright coordinated the cover-up of Mike Duffy’s senate fraud scandal, and then either resigned or was fired, depending on which lying Conservative you ask.

9. George W. Bush, puppet of war criminal Dick Cheney, and disgraced former president of the United States. His legacies include at least one fraudulent election win, the 9/11 attacks, pointless and destructive wars, the freedom-crushing Patriot Act, the near-bankruptcy of the United States government, and the worldwide financial meltdown.

10. Chad Kroeger, the frontman of the lacklustre, derivative rock band Nickleback, who should be charged with crimes against music and lyrics.

Some of the people who should have been included didn’t have photos with Harper online. Others had to be left out due to space and time restrictions. Technically, every Conservative MP could be included, because not one of them is an ethical or decent human being, including those who put up phony fronts for the adoring media. Everyone who remains a member of the Harper regime has abandoned any pretense of owning a moral compass, and has traded integrity for money and privilege.

Click here for part one.

Click here for part three.

Harper-&-Rogues Gallery - Part 1

Recent news that the drummer in Stephen Harper’s terrible cover band was charged with sex crimes re-emphasizes the fact that Harper loves to surround himself with sleazebags, crooks and various ne’er-do-wells. That’s because he is one of them. Here is part one of a gallery of photos of Harper with undesirables. From top to bottom, Harper is with:

1. Phillip Nolan (on the far right), charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation over alleged incidents while he was a school teacher. He is the drummer in Harper’s cover band that can only play a few songs, totally devoid of the heart and soul of the original versions.

2. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s quasi-fascist, corrupt, bigoted president.

3. Justin Bieber, spoiled rich celebrity brat and alleged small-time criminal.

4. Rob Ford, Toronto’s lying, election-cheating, bribe-soliciting, drug-abusing, bullying, [allegedly] drug-selling, [allegedly] wife-abusing, bigoted mayor, who misuses tax-funded public sector services and employees for his personal benefit.

5. Julian Fantino, corrupt former police chief, veteran-hating, fascism-loving, Conservative  minister of veterans affairs.

6. Benjamin Netanyahu, the anti-Palestinian, land-stealing, far-right prime minister of Israel.

7. Patrick Brazeau, disgraced suspended Harper-appointed senator. He falsely claimed residence in a house he didn’t live in, fraudulently claimed senate expense money for personal purposes, and has been charged with assault and sexual assault.

8. Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned under a dark cloud of cover-ups and immorality. A United Nations human rights committee recently released a report saying the Vatican “systematically” adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades.

9. Tim Hudak, leader of the Ontario Progressive [sic] Conservative Party, a snobby elitist who despises working class people and wants to lower their wages and demolish their rights.

10. Dean Del Mastro, disgraced Conservative MP (temporarily sitting as an independent). The cheater has been charged for breaches of the Elections Canada Act and his brother is under investigation for conducting a donation scam for Del Mastro’s re-election campaign.

Some of the people who should have been included didn’t have photos with Harper online. Others had to be left out due to space and time restrictions. Technically, every Conservative MP could be included, because not one of them is an ethical or decent human being, including those who put up phony fronts for the adoring media. Everyone who remains a member of the Harper regime has abandoned any pretense of owning a moral compass, and has traded integrity for money and privilege.

Click here for part two.

Click here for part three.

            The unholy trinity of the Alberta tarsands industry, the Conservative Party and the right-wing media has gone all-out in its attacks on Neil Young for his stance against their destructive policies and actions. One thing that these corporate wolves and subservient sheep overlook is that, of course, Neil Young is right.
The main arguments by the Conservative tarsands mob are that: 
1)         Young hasn’t lived in Canada for a long time, so he has no right to talk about anything that happens in Canada.
2)         He’s a rich rock star, so he has no right to talk about anything, period.
3)         Young uses oil and oil-based products, so he has no right to say anything bad about the oil industry or the governments that subsidize and promote that industry.
4)         The Alberta tarsands industry is the only economic sector keeping Canada’s finances afloat, funding our social programs and preventing our have-not provinces from going bankrupt.
5)         The Alberta tarsands industry is the only economic sector offering good-paying job opportunities for Canadians, even for workers without much education, training or experience.
6)         The Alberta tarsands industry is actually ethical, environmentally friendly, doesn’t cause health problems, is good for Natives and doesn’t smell.

These talking points are bullshit, and here’s why:
1)         The environment is worldwide, the economy is worldwide, and politics are worldwide. We all have the right to talk about any issue we want to talk about (although the elites are increasingly cracking down on that right). We don’t all have to agree with each other, but we all have the right to express our views.
2)         Rich corporate parasites bombard us with capitalist propaganda 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and nobody questions their right to say what they want. Anything that counteracts the powerful, well-oiled propaganda machine is welcome and desperately needed – even if that challenge comes from a wealthy musician who lives in California most of the year.
3)         Blowhards who say that humans who use oil or oil-based products should never say a bad word about the oil industry are chock-full of shit. Using that logic, anyone who lives in society should never criticize anything at all, since we all benefit from society in some way. It’s the good ol’ “love it or leave it” attitude that’s popular amongst right-wing assholes when their team is in power, but mysteriously absent when their opponents have the upper hand.
             Besides, most of the tarsands oil is not meant for Canadian consumption, so it is irrelevant whether Canadians use oil and oil-based products. Alberta tarsands bitumen is to be shipped to China and the United States, where it will be refined and consumed, or sold back to Canadians as value-added finished products. If the tarsands oil was refined and consumed in Canada, then perhaps the pro-tarsands crowd would have a point, but until that day arrives (which will likely be never), they have no leg to stand on.
4)         The Alberta tarsands sector represents a tiny percentage of Canada’s GDP. Most of the Alberta tarsands projects are owned by foreign companies (mostly Chinese and American), and most of the profits go out of the country. Compared to the profits they funnel out of Canada, they pay very little in taxes and royalties in this country.
            As for the myth that Alberta supports the have-not provinces, that misconception comes from people not understanding how Canada’s equalization program works. The money for the transfer program comes from individual and business taxpayers across the country – not from provincial governments.
            Alberta, in fact, used to be a have-not province, supported financially by taxpayers in other Canadian provinces. Now, considering Alberta is sitting on lots of oil and natural gas, their provincial government should be running surpluses while maintaining the best infrastructure and public services in North America. Instead, Alberta’s back-to-back Progressive Conservative governments have been running deficits, growing their debt and allowing their infrastructure and public services to crumble. This is mostly due to keeping their taxes and royalty rates artificially and irresponsibly low.
            For the longest time, Ontario was a have province, but has recently become a have-not province, almost entirely due to federal Conservative and Liberal free trade/globalization policies that have decimated Ontario’s manufacturing sector (and other sectors in which jobs can be offshored). Even though Ontario is currently a have-not province in terms of government finances, much of the tax money that goes into the equalization program comes from Ontario workers and businesses in the first place! Ontarians are merely getting some of their own money back!
5)         Yes, the Alberta tarsands industry offers many high-paying job opportunities, but at what cost, and for how long? The Canadian and Alberta governments have spent billions of tax dollars directly and indirectly subsidizing the tarsands industry, with relatively low returns. If they had invested that money in green energy (or even in building a no-so-green oil refinery), the economic return would be much higher, and the environmental cost would be much lower.
            The high-paying Alberta jobs might not continue to be so high paying, for three reasons. First, more Canadians from across the country – and immigrants from across the planet – have been moving to Alberta to get those jobs, thus putting downward pressure on wages, benefits and working conditions.
             Second, the weakly enforced Conservative temporary foreign workers program is making this worse, by allowing employers to fire Canadian workers and replace them with poor, desperate, lower-paid temporary workers who are willing to accept substandard conditions. This brings down the wage rates and standard of living for everyone else.
             Third, the federal Conservatives and the Alberta Progressive Conservatives have been weakening unions and reducing all workers’ rights. They have been doing this for one reason and one reason only: to lower labour costs and increase profits for big corporations.
6)         Anyone who believes the talking points from profit-motivated tarsands corporations over  verified facts presented by scientists and people on the ground is either delusional or in on the scam. Don’t forget, “tarsands” is a word that the industry itself used for a long time, before their marketing and public relations experts told them to replace the word with “oil sands” and the even more innocuous “energy”.
            As for being environmentally friendly, the oil companies only do what governments force them to do. They follow the letter – not the spirit – of the law (unless they think they can get away with breaking the law).  Whenever corporations are forced to pay small fines, they just consider it the cost of doing business, since the profits from their violations far outweigh the penalties. Environmental laws have been gutted in Canada anyway; natural resources companies almost literally re-wrote Canada’s new environmental legislation for the Harper Conservatives.
             History shows that whenever there is a man-made environmental disaster, either those responsible pay a tiny portion of the cleanup costs or they declare bankruptcy and start up business again under a different name. Taxpayers are stuck with the tab.
             And yes, according to people who are willing to tell the truth, the polluted air in Fort McMurray does stink.
In summary, Neil Young is right, the tarsands Conservatives are full of crap, and we need to get off our butts and do something about it.

            The unholy trinity of the Alberta tarsands industry, the Conservative Party and the right-wing media has gone all-out in its attacks on Neil Young for his stance against their destructive policies and actions. One thing that these corporate wolves and subservient sheep overlook is that, of course, Neil Young is right.

The main arguments by the Conservative tarsands mob are that:

1)         Young hasn’t lived in Canada for a long time, so he has no right to talk about anything that happens in Canada.

2)         He’s a rich rock star, so he has no right to talk about anything, period.

3)         Young uses oil and oil-based products, so he has no right to say anything bad about the oil industry or the governments that subsidize and promote that industry.

4)         The Alberta tarsands industry is the only economic sector keeping Canada’s finances afloat, funding our social programs and preventing our have-not provinces from going bankrupt.

5)         The Alberta tarsands industry is the only economic sector offering good-paying job opportunities for Canadians, even for workers without much education, training or experience.

6)         The Alberta tarsands industry is actually ethical, environmentally friendly, doesn’t cause health problems, is good for Natives and doesn’t smell.

These talking points are bullshit, and here’s why:

1)         The environment is worldwide, the economy is worldwide, and politics are worldwide. We all have the right to talk about any issue we want to talk about (although the elites are increasingly cracking down on that right). We don’t all have to agree with each other, but we all have the right to express our views.

2)         Rich corporate parasites bombard us with capitalist propaganda 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and nobody questions their right to say what they want. Anything that counteracts the powerful, well-oiled propaganda machine is welcome and desperately needed – even if that challenge comes from a wealthy musician who lives in California most of the year.

3)         Blowhards who say that humans who use oil or oil-based products should never say a bad word about the oil industry are chock-full of shit. Using that logic, anyone who lives in society should never criticize anything at all, since we all benefit from society in some way. It’s the good ol’ “love it or leave it” attitude that’s popular amongst right-wing assholes when their team is in power, but mysteriously absent when their opponents have the upper hand.

             Besides, most of the tarsands oil is not meant for Canadian consumption, so it is irrelevant whether Canadians use oil and oil-based products. Alberta tarsands bitumen is to be shipped to China and the United States, where it will be refined and consumed, or sold back to Canadians as value-added finished products. If the tarsands oil was refined and consumed in Canada, then perhaps the pro-tarsands crowd would have a point, but until that day arrives (which will likely be never), they have no leg to stand on.

4)         The Alberta tarsands sector represents a tiny percentage of Canada’s GDP. Most of the Alberta tarsands projects are owned by foreign companies (mostly Chinese and American), and most of the profits go out of the country. Compared to the profits they funnel out of Canada, they pay very little in taxes and royalties in this country.

            As for the myth that Alberta supports the have-not provinces, that misconception comes from people not understanding how Canada’s equalization program works. The money for the transfer program comes from individual and business taxpayers across the country – not from provincial governments.

            Alberta, in fact, used to be a have-not province, supported financially by taxpayers in other Canadian provinces. Now, considering Alberta is sitting on lots of oil and natural gas, their provincial government should be running surpluses while maintaining the best infrastructure and public services in North America. Instead, Alberta’s back-to-back Progressive Conservative governments have been running deficits, growing their debt and allowing their infrastructure and public services to crumble. This is mostly due to keeping their taxes and royalty rates artificially and irresponsibly low.

            For the longest time, Ontario was a have province, but has recently become a have-not province, almost entirely due to federal Conservative and Liberal free trade/globalization policies that have decimated Ontario’s manufacturing sector (and other sectors in which jobs can be offshored). Even though Ontario is currently a have-not province in terms of government finances, much of the tax money that goes into the equalization program comes from Ontario workers and businesses in the first place! Ontarians are merely getting some of their own money back!

5)         Yes, the Alberta tarsands industry offers many high-paying job opportunities, but at what cost, and for how long? The Canadian and Alberta governments have spent billions of tax dollars directly and indirectly subsidizing the tarsands industry, with relatively low returns. If they had invested that money in green energy (or even in building a no-so-green oil refinery), the economic return would be much higher, and the environmental cost would be much lower.

            The high-paying Alberta jobs might not continue to be so high paying, for three reasons. First, more Canadians from across the country – and immigrants from across the planet – have been moving to Alberta to get those jobs, thus putting downward pressure on wages, benefits and working conditions.

             Second, the weakly enforced Conservative temporary foreign workers program is making this worse, by allowing employers to fire Canadian workers and replace them with poor, desperate, lower-paid temporary workers who are willing to accept substandard conditions. This brings down the wage rates and standard of living for everyone else.

             Third, the federal Conservatives and the Alberta Progressive Conservatives have been weakening unions and reducing all workers’ rights. They have been doing this for one reason and one reason only: to lower labour costs and increase profits for big corporations.

6)         Anyone who believes the talking points from profit-motivated tarsands corporations over  verified facts presented by scientists and people on the ground is either delusional or in on the scam. Don’t forget, “tarsands” is a word that the industry itself used for a long time, before their marketing and public relations experts told them to replace the word with “oil sands” and the even more innocuous “energy”.

            As for being environmentally friendly, the oil companies only do what governments force them to do. They follow the letter – not the spirit – of the law (unless they think they can get away with breaking the law).  Whenever corporations are forced to pay small fines, they just consider it the cost of doing business, since the profits from their violations far outweigh the penalties. Environmental laws have been gutted in Canada anyway; natural resources companies almost literally re-wrote Canada’s new environmental legislation for the Harper Conservatives.

             History shows that whenever there is a man-made environmental disaster, either those responsible pay a tiny portion of the cleanup costs or they declare bankruptcy and start up business again under a different name. Taxpayers are stuck with the tab.

             And yes, according to people who are willing to tell the truth, the polluted air in Fort McMurray does stink.

In summary, Neil Young is right, the tarsands Conservatives are full of crap, and we need to get off our butts and do something about it.

Crappy New Year 2014: Canada’s economy in the shitter
Yes, it’s the economy, stupid! As of January 2014, the Canadian economy continues to be shite, swirling down the toilet. The Harper Conservatives are flushing our country down the drain.
When I say “the economy”, I mean the real, boots-on-the-street, money-in-your-pocket economy, job market and standard of living, not the abstract, pie-in-the-sky “economy” that’s measured in charts and graphs that reduce the concept of economic health to little more than GDP and corporate profits.
It’s infuriating that so many in the media – even those who are usually critical of the Harper regime – have swallowed the big lie that the Canadian economy is supposedly “strong” and that the Harper con artists are allegedly “good on economic issues”. It goes to show that the constant, annoying, tax-wasting Economic Action Plan propaganda has been effective at brainwashing a large portion of the population, including those who should know better.
Economic Destruction Plan
The Harper Cons have been “focusing on the economy” all right, but their focus is extremely narrow, spending their time, energy and our money almost entirely on promoting and subsidizing the tarsands and natural gas fracking industries. It has almost gotten to the point that Stephen Harper should be called the prime minister of Enbridge instead of the prime minister of Canada. The Harper Conservatives are even using government spy agencies to serve the oil companies and to crack down on environmentalists!
This is despite the fact that the Canadian oil and gas sector has been becoming increasingly controlled by foreign corporations, and the fact that – in the grand scheme of things – it provides relatively few benefits to average Canadians, especially when balanced against its high costs to the environment, health, government finances and the overall economy.
A report released in May 2012 showed that “More than two-thirds of all oil sands production in Canada is owned by foreign entities, sending a majority of the industry’s profits out of the country…” (bolding mine). One can only assume that the problem is getting worse. Husky Energy, which recently got approval for two oil projects in Saskatchewan, is majority-owned by a Hong Kong billionaire.
Even workers directly employed by the non-renewable resource sector are facing threats to their job stability and high pay levels, as they face off against disloyal multinational corporations and increasing competition for jobs, including from low-paid temporary foreign workers brought in to replace Canadian employees. In Alberta, the provincial government is bringing in heavy-handed anti-union laws meant to keep uppity working-class people down in their place.
Then there’s the fact that provincial governments have incrementally been charging lower royalty fees to the resource extraction companies, in a contest to see who can be the biggest corporate kiss-ass. Without those royalties flowing in, the provincial governments will allow infrastructure to crumble, public services to fade away and taxes to rise for those at the lower rungs of the income scale. God forbid they increase taxes for corporations and rich individuals! Why would they bite the hands of their masters?
Increased job losses and trade deficits
Meanwhile, thousands of Canadians have been losing their jobs due to off-shoring, the temporary foreign workers program, and/or irrational, illogical “restructuring” that looks good on paper but almost always results in lower-quality products and services. It’s all about cutting costs in the short term.
Many Canadians who have been fortunate enough to keep their jobs are scared shitless that they will be next on the chopping block, and are willing to accept stagnant wages, bigger workloads, higher stress levels, fewer benefits and lower morale. It beats the alternative: unemployment.
This has happened in most sectors of the economy, including the natural resources sector and other sectors in which career counsellors and smug know-it-alls claim there are plenty of opportunities. It has even happened in sectors in which corporate mouthpieces have falsely claimed there are labour shortages.  
In December 2013, about 46,000 jobs were eliminated in Canada. That’s not surprising, considering recent reports of several high-profile companies rushing to slash labour costs by the year-end. Of the lost jobs, about 39,000 of them were in the manufacturing hub province of Ontario and about 12,000 were in oil-rich Alberta.
Scratch the surface and find that the situation is even worse than first presented. According to CBC, “60,000 full-time jobs were lost, a decline only partially offset by 14,000 new part-time jobs.”  It’s ridiculous that these kinds of studies consider part-time jobs to be equivalent to full-time jobs! What a crock! Another flaw in these studies is that at some point, statistics compilers strictly narrowed their official definition of “unemployed” to make the economic situation seem much better than it really is. Q: When is a jobless person not unemployed? A: When a statistician decides the person doesn’t count.
Since the days of lyin’ Brian Mulroney, Conservative and Liberal governments have been selling us on the idea that globalization and free trade are good for Canadians. The Harper Cons have been the worst, proudly signing treasonous trade deals in every corner of the planet. The result has been more imports, fewer exports, more factories shutting down, fewer good-paying jobs and less wealth flowing through the Canadian economy. According to a recent Reuters article,

Canada posted a much larger than expected trade deficit of $940 million ($879 million) in November, most likely knocking market hopes that the beleaguered export sector might be starting to recover.
The deficit — the 23rd in a row — was significantly wider than the $140 million shortfall forecast by market experts.
Statistics Canada on Tuesday also revised October’s initial surplus of $75 million to a deficit of $908 million, in part to reflect revised data on crude oil prices.

This does not bode well for the future of Canada. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.
Unjustified high executive pay
While this is going on, a Canadian Press article (on CBC.ca) says: “It may be hard to swallow, but according to an annual review by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, by 1:11 p.m. on Jan. 2, the average top paid Canadian CEO will have been earned as much as the average full-time worker’s yearly income.”. Here is a link to the full Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study.
There’s one falsehood in that sentence from the Canadian Press article. The average top paid Canadian CEO did not actually “earn” that money. The word earn implies that a person worked for something and deserves it. Today’s off-the-charts high executive pay levels are not based in reality or guided by the magical “invisible hand” of the market. Executive pay is set – essentially arbitrarily – by corporate board members, most of whom are executives at other companies. It’s a small world of elite insiders scratching each other’s backs. According to Hugh Mackenzie of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, “There is no clear relationship between CEO compensation and any measure of corporate performance.”
Contrary to the Conservative Party and their fellow travellers, these executive parasites aren’t wealth creators, job creators or risk-takers. Workers create the wealth and executives take the credit. Most of today’s wealth-hoarding execs are job destroyers, receiving bonuses for cutting labour costs, even when the job-slashing harms the company in the long run. If the executives run the company into the ground, the workers get screwed and the execs get big severance packages before moving to other companies. There’s no risk in that.
The Canadian Press article mentions that in 2012, the highest paid executive in Canada was Hunter Harrison, the head of Canadian Pacific Railway. He was paid $49.1 million in salary, stock options and bonuses that year. You read that right: $49.1 million in one year, for one person! That is simply insane, unjustified and undeserved!
Short-sighted idiots argue that the high pay levels of the lucky few is none of our business and none of our concern, but nothing could be further from the truth. That money was sucked out of the railway company’s revenue, and sucked out of the entire Canadian economy. If that shameless prick was only paid a few million dollars instead of $49.1 million, the rest of that money could have been reinvested in the company or into the economy at large. That much money could pay the wages of an entire city! Growing levels of financial inequality, poverty and debt will lead to disaster. The cracks are showing and something has to give.
All this brings to mind the classic George Bernard Shaw quote: “The more I see of the moneyed classes, the more I understand the guillotine.”

Crappy New Year 2014: Canada’s economy in the shitter

Yes, it’s the economy, stupid! As of January 2014, the Canadian economy continues to be shite, swirling down the toilet. The Harper Conservatives are flushing our country down the drain.

When I say “the economy”, I mean the real, boots-on-the-street, money-in-your-pocket economy, job market and standard of living, not the abstract, pie-in-the-sky “economy” that’s measured in charts and graphs that reduce the concept of economic health to little more than GDP and corporate profits.

It’s infuriating that so many in the media – even those who are usually critical of the Harper regime – have swallowed the big lie that the Canadian economy is supposedly “strong” and that the Harper con artists are allegedly “good on economic issues”. It goes to show that the constant, annoying, tax-wasting Economic Action Plan propaganda has been effective at brainwashing a large portion of the population, including those who should know better.

Economic Destruction Plan

The Harper Cons have been “focusing on the economy” all right, but their focus is extremely narrow, spending their time, energy and our money almost entirely on promoting and subsidizing the tarsands and natural gas fracking industries. It has almost gotten to the point that Stephen Harper should be called the prime minister of Enbridge instead of the prime minister of Canada. The Harper Conservatives are even using government spy agencies to serve the oil companies and to crack down on environmentalists!

This is despite the fact that the Canadian oil and gas sector has been becoming increasingly controlled by foreign corporations, and the fact that – in the grand scheme of things – it provides relatively few benefits to average Canadians, especially when balanced against its high costs to the environment, health, government finances and the overall economy.

A report released in May 2012 showed that “More than two-thirds of all oil sands production in Canada is owned by foreign entities, sending a majority of the industry’s profits out of the country…” (bolding mine). One can only assume that the problem is getting worse. Husky Energy, which recently got approval for two oil projects in Saskatchewan, is majority-owned by a Hong Kong billionaire.

Even workers directly employed by the non-renewable resource sector are facing threats to their job stability and high pay levels, as they face off against disloyal multinational corporations and increasing competition for jobs, including from low-paid temporary foreign workers brought in to replace Canadian employees. In Alberta, the provincial government is bringing in heavy-handed anti-union laws meant to keep uppity working-class people down in their place.

Then there’s the fact that provincial governments have incrementally been charging lower royalty fees to the resource extraction companies, in a contest to see who can be the biggest corporate kiss-ass. Without those royalties flowing in, the provincial governments will allow infrastructure to crumble, public services to fade away and taxes to rise for those at the lower rungs of the income scale. God forbid they increase taxes for corporations and rich individuals! Why would they bite the hands of their masters?

Increased job losses and trade deficits

Meanwhile, thousands of Canadians have been losing their jobs due to off-shoring, the temporary foreign workers program, and/or irrational, illogical “restructuring” that looks good on paper but almost always results in lower-quality products and services. It’s all about cutting costs in the short term.

Many Canadians who have been fortunate enough to keep their jobs are scared shitless that they will be next on the chopping block, and are willing to accept stagnant wages, bigger workloads, higher stress levels, fewer benefits and lower morale. It beats the alternative: unemployment.

This has happened in most sectors of the economy, including the natural resources sector and other sectors in which career counsellors and smug know-it-alls claim there are plenty of opportunities. It has even happened in sectors in which corporate mouthpieces have falsely claimed there are labour shortages.  

In December 2013, about 46,000 jobs were eliminated in Canada. That’s not surprising, considering recent reports of several high-profile companies rushing to slash labour costs by the year-end. Of the lost jobs, about 39,000 of them were in the manufacturing hub province of Ontario and about 12,000 were in oil-rich Alberta.

Scratch the surface and find that the situation is even worse than first presented. According to CBC, “60,000 full-time jobs were lost, a decline only partially offset by 14,000 new part-time jobs.”  It’s ridiculous that these kinds of studies consider part-time jobs to be equivalent to full-time jobs! What a crock! Another flaw in these studies is that at some point, statistics compilers strictly narrowed their official definition of “unemployed” to make the economic situation seem much better than it really is. Q: When is a jobless person not unemployed? A: When a statistician decides the person doesn’t count.

Since the days of lyin’ Brian Mulroney, Conservative and Liberal governments have been selling us on the idea that globalization and free trade are good for Canadians. The Harper Cons have been the worst, proudly signing treasonous trade deals in every corner of the planet. The result has been more imports, fewer exports, more factories shutting down, fewer good-paying jobs and less wealth flowing through the Canadian economy. According to a recent Reuters article,

Canada posted a much larger than expected trade deficit of $940 million ($879 million) in November, most likely knocking market hopes that the beleaguered export sector might be starting to recover.

The deficit — the 23rd in a row — was significantly wider than the $140 million shortfall forecast by market experts.

Statistics Canada on Tuesday also revised October’s initial surplus of $75 million to a deficit of $908 million, in part to reflect revised data on crude oil prices.

This does not bode well for the future of Canada. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

Unjustified high executive pay

While this is going on, a Canadian Press article (on CBC.ca) says: “It may be hard to swallow, but according to an annual review by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, by 1:11 p.m. on Jan. 2, the average top paid Canadian CEO will have been earned as much as the average full-time worker’s yearly income.”. Here is a link to the full Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study.

There’s one falsehood in that sentence from the Canadian Press article. The average top paid Canadian CEO did not actually “earn” that money. The word earn implies that a person worked for something and deserves it. Today’s off-the-charts high executive pay levels are not based in reality or guided by the magical “invisible hand” of the market. Executive pay is set – essentially arbitrarily – by corporate board members, most of whom are executives at other companies. It’s a small world of elite insiders scratching each other’s backs. According to Hugh Mackenzie of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, “There is no clear relationship between CEO compensation and any measure of corporate performance.”

Contrary to the Conservative Party and their fellow travellers, these executive parasites aren’t wealth creators, job creators or risk-takers. Workers create the wealth and executives take the credit. Most of today’s wealth-hoarding execs are job destroyers, receiving bonuses for cutting labour costs, even when the job-slashing harms the company in the long run. If the executives run the company into the ground, the workers get screwed and the execs get big severance packages before moving to other companies. There’s no risk in that.

The Canadian Press article mentions that in 2012, the highest paid executive in Canada was Hunter Harrison, the head of Canadian Pacific Railway. He was paid $49.1 million in salary, stock options and bonuses that year. You read that right: $49.1 million in one year, for one person! That is simply insane, unjustified and undeserved!

Short-sighted idiots argue that the high pay levels of the lucky few is none of our business and none of our concern, but nothing could be further from the truth. That money was sucked out of the railway company’s revenue, and sucked out of the entire Canadian economy. If that shameless prick was only paid a few million dollars instead of $49.1 million, the rest of that money could have been reinvested in the company or into the economy at large. That much money could pay the wages of an entire city! Growing levels of financial inequality, poverty and debt will lead to disaster. The cracks are showing and something has to give.

All this brings to mind the classic George Bernard Shaw quote: “The more I see of the moneyed classes, the more I understand the guillotine.”