Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Monday, April 30, 2012

The CPC: Spitting Scandals Like Bullets

If it seems like there's literally a new Conservative Party scandal in the news every day, that's because there pretty much is now - and while Harper may be sporting some cold, dead eyes, the CPC political machine is always on the move.

And now they're using the very revelation of their horrible behaviours against us.

The Scandal Assault - the idea that by just slapping us in the face, every day, with one outrageous scandal after another until we simply don't care anymore - is a powerful tool.  Especially when you're dealing with the CPC and their near-limitless supply of ammo.

Unfortunately, that only works to a certain point - and it only works if the scandals themselves aren't really infuriating.  If they inspire umbrage instead of outrage then that's what you want to go for.

Fortunately, I'm all about keeping only the finest in 'outrage' on tap here as of late, so feel free to come back and drink deep of the stuff you really should be getting pissed off at instead of all the other crap that they want you to be 'sorta miffed' at.

Anyways, cups out everyone!

I'll pour:


"There is no question, no possibility of bailing out the banks," - Stephen Harper

You may or may not remember how, back in 2008, our Prime Minister told us all that our banks would not need to be bailed out - that they weren't asking to be bailed out and that, even if they were, we wouldn't help them anyway.

"The banks aren't seeking to be bailed out, the government won't be bailing them out. That isn't going to happen." - Stephen Harper

I'm pretty sure you can see where this is going, right?

Okay, so fast-forward to today's newest Conservative scandal: apparently, thanks to a new CCPA report, we learned that our Government pushed out $114 billion in 'secret' loans to our banks.

From the article:

"At some point during the crisis, three of Canada's banks — CIBC, BMO, and Scotiabank — were completely under water, with government support exceeding the market value of the company," Macdonald said.

"Without government supports to fall back on, Canadian banks would have been in serious trouble."

Also:

"The federal government claims it was offering the banks 'liquidity support,' but it looks an awful lot like a bailout to me," says Macdonald.  

Incidentally, if you're looking to make comparisons, we 'bailed out' our Auto Industry to the tune of $4 Billion. So, yeah, just a little bit more there.

Man, our Government really is a fan of doing things in secret, behind the tax-payers' backs.  Almost as if they're afraid of getting caught.  I wonder why that could be?

Oh, right, that whole Robofraud thing.  Where mounting evidence suggests that they, at the very least, played a part in stealing a Majority out of the 2011 election.

And that whole F-35s thing.  But that's only $40 Billion of your money.

Oh, and the revelation that they were keeping two separate sets of books in regards to F-35 costs - one set for internal use, one set for bald-faced lying to the public.

How bad are they at lying?  Well, apparently back in 2011 Norway was estimating $40 Billion for 52 F-35s while our Government was saying that 65 F-35s are only $14 Billion.

Yeah.  It's that bad.

But, man, if people are pissed off about $40 Billion in jets we don't need, I can only imagine how pissed they're going to be about $114 Billion in secret loans to help prop up Private banks.

Banks who then took that money and, combined, made a tidy $27 Billion in profit from it.

How are those cups doing?  Getting full yet?

Oh, I'm not near done.


So, besides stealing an election (with 200 ridings - almost 2/3rds of Canada - currently under investigation by Elections Canada) and bungling the largest fighter jet purchase in our entire history as a country, what else has the CPC been up to?

Well, thanks to Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, Canadian employers will now be allowed to - legally - pay Immigrants in Canada 15% less than a regular Canadian worker doing the same job.

Or, to put it another way - a far, far more politically damaging way: In Canada, as of April 25th, 2012, an Immigrant in Canada is worth 85% of a Canadian.

Yeah.  Quick History Lesson:  You see, in the United States' Constitution they stated that a Black man was worth 3/5ths of a White man.  It was for representational purposes, yes, but that was still the outcome -- and, ultimately, considered the 'positive' compromise.

I guess, as far as Harper's Conservatives are concerned, 85% for an Immigrant must be downright 'Progressive' in comparison.

What's even worse about this revolting development is that it doesn't even impact small businesses in Canada all that much - what benefit are they going to see for the few people they hire?  For large corporations though - especially in Agriculture?  Big savings.

I'm sure someone's over there giving Ms. Finley a big, green high-five right now.

What else? 

Oh, yes, Harper and his CPC has learned an important lesson from all of these scandals as of late:

If you don't have anyone checking your numbers then no one can use them against you.

I'll let the headline speak for itself here: Ottawa’s quiet removal of internal auditors draws fire

From the Article:

The federal government has quietly removed internal auditors from four regional development agencies, placing the work in the hands of a central department that is itself faced with a shrinking budget.

And:

It might not just be regional agencies getting rid of internal auditors. Typically, departments classified as “small” are the ones throughout government that rely on the Office of the Comptroller General. 

The government changed its policy on April 1 to redefine “small.” 

The old definition included a “reference level” of less than $300-million and fewer than 500 full-time employees. As of this month, there’s no limit on the number of employees, newly classifying nine more departments as small and eliminating the requirement to have internal audit teams.

Finally,

As if firing a wide swath of our Border Security and our Food Inspectors wasn't enough, now they've gone and eliminated the Office of the Inspector General of CSIS - the one directly responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of CSIS and making sure that our spies aren't over-stepping their bounds.

From the Article:


Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, a former member of the review committee, said the two bodies play different roles. The committee investigates public complaints against CSIS while the inspector general's office oversees its day-to-day activities.

"It double checks and triple checks to make sure the processes are being followed and respected . . . It's hands on," he said.

University of Toronto professor Wesley Wark, who studies the intelligence field, told CBC News he's skeptical the review committee can step into the inspector general's shoes and issue the kind of detailed reports her office provided.

"If it makes mistakes, that can potentially impact on the civil liberties of Canadians who may find themselves subject, and perhaps wrongly, to CSIS investigations," Wark said. 

Now, yes, remember, take shallow breaths as you drink this in.  If you gulp it, you'll choke and then you'll just make a mess everywhere.

The saddest part is that what I've got here is only a selected fragment of the entire CPC assault.  But this is the good stuff.  The pure, unrefined, 'what-the-fuck' that we need to keep on hand as we weather the storm of bullshit that our government is going to throw at us - that is throwing at us - in an attempt to muddy the waters.

Make us roll our eyes, shrug our shoulders and say 'oh well, what can we do?'

The most important thing you can do right now - since our Constitution has absolutely no impeachment provisions within it whatsoever (link2) - is keep watching and REMEMBER.

Keep paying attention, keep putting the pressure on our Government and, no matter what, don't forget all of these crazy, despicable actions.

Drink deep, my friends... and come back for more.

(Okay.  Yeah, wow, that was intense).

Cheers!
Brandon

Friday, April 27, 2012

This Is What Defeat Looks Like

If you ever want to see Stephen Harper reeling from a sucker-punch, with all the wind knocked right out of his sails, you should try to find the videos of Question Period for the last couple of days - pretty much since the Oda scandal.

Distracted, grumpy and generally off his game, Harper's been showing the rest of the country why he's had to keep a tight grip on his Ministers:

They're apparently a bunch of crackpots.

Bev Oda, who I wrote about on Wednesday, has given us a sneak peek into the mind of the Harper Government and now, well, the man has tossed the script aside and has decided that he's going to go all 8-Mile and freestyle it.




Of course, Harper ain't no gray-haired Eminem so his first volley swings a little wide of the mark [Skip to 2:58 for the actual comment].




In fact, here's a helpful transcript:

Harper [responding to Muclair's question re: Afghanistan withdrawal]:
"Well, Mr. Speaker, I've made myself very clear. Unlike the NDP we are not going to ideologically have a position regardless of circumstances. You know the NDP, the leader of the NDP in 1939 didn't even want to support war against Hitler."

[laughter, someone yells 'CCF!']

Harper:
"Okay, CCF. Same difference.

[yelling, laughter, cat calls]

Harper:
"Parties do change their name from time to time. Our position is we'll do what's in the best interest of Canada."

[applause]

Speaker: "Order. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition."

Mulcair: "So let's speak about Reform Party policy, Mr. Speaker."

[laughter, applause]

Now - and I've never competed in a Rap Battle before, so take my insights here with a grain of salt, but I would think that opening up with 'Hitler' might be a little... uh... big.

Perhaps you might want to build up to it, maybe make a few cheap shots about Mulcair's sneakers being scuffed or his, uh, beard being... greasy...?

I don't know, jumping right to Hitler sort of kills the momentum as it is so, yeah... opening with it might not be one's strongest move...?

What I did find interesting about this video is how just utterly tired Harper looks in this video.

Do you see that too?  It looks like he's been up all night just slapping Bev Oda around the table then, I dunno, backhanding MacKay for good measure ("What'd I do?!" - Yeah, MacKay... exactly).  It looks like he hasn't had a good night's sleep in weeks.  Eyes all puffy, half-closed.

Heck, even his 'Hitler' comment was half-hearted at best.

He seems slow, like he's not eating well. Maybe someone should make him some soup?  Maybe he needs a hug?

Actually, now that I think about it, you know where I've seen that face of his before?

Let me share with you a personal story:

I remember, back when I was a kid, my family and I used to go to the Sandbanks provincial park every once and a while.  It wasn't often, but man, I looked forward to those summers something fierce.  So, one nice summer day, I'm out there on the beach and I just get it into my head that I'm going to build a sandcastle. And not just any sandcastle - I had me some child-like ambition. So I got to work and spent a good hour or so making this totally awesome sandcastle. (and you have to realize that an HOUR making a sandcastle on the beach... that's like worth double dog years or something).

Anyways, this thing was amazing - it had a moat and towers and I was just in love with what I'd made.  I went over and showed everyone and was just so proud of what I'd done.

And then out of nowhere this big fucking wave came and destroyed the whole thing.

But it wasn't a quick death. No. No, I had to watch wave after wave come in and wash over this thing, watching the whole bloody thing disintegrate before my eyes, helpless to do anything about it.  Oh, I tried adding more sand, tried scooping things up and mushing it back together... but it was just ruined.

Go back to Harper's face around the 3:20 minute mark - take a gander at that tired, sad look on his face.

That's the look of a man who's just too far gone to even be mad anymore.  There's no fight left in him.

Go look at 3:15 in the video.
__________

[laughter, someone yells 'CCF!']

Harper:
"Okay, CCF. Same difference.
__________

Does that look like the fire-and-brimstone Harper we know?

Harper's sandcastle is melting around him, fast - and hard as he tries to shore up the walls, to keep the water  out (the water being us, with our wonderful ability to seep into the cracks) it's all falling apart around him.

And all he can do is watch.

His polls are plummeting, his ministers are self-destructing and the NDP is crashing over the breaker walls like never before.

Harper's dream is dying fast and the proof is right there in the video.  Look at his face.  His eyes.

The fight is gone.

Wherever this new-found 'Hitler' complex came from, I wonder if it's not a warning sign that the stress of the job is getting to be a bit much for our dear leader.

That he might be heading into 'nervous breakdown' territory.

Prime Minister, there's only so long you can hold those walls up.  And, like it or not, we're bringing them down.

Sleep well, Steve.

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Crack In Harper's Armor


If there's been one through-line in all of the Harper Government scandals as of late, it's been that of their unabashed defiance in the face of whatever charge is leveled at them.

No matter what you say to them, what you accuse them of, they've always had a snappy comeback or soft-footed sidestep at the ready.

First there's all this Election Fraud talk - including new evidence and polls that shows that Robofraud actually happened - and there's a pretty darned good chance that it was all the CPC's doing.  Yet try to pin it on the CPC in any corporeal sort of way and all you get is 'baseless smear campaigns' from 'sore losers' - well, that and more doublespeak.

Bring up the F-35 scandal - where Harper, Peter MacKay and the Department of National Defense actively worked to keep the true costs of the planes we were buying away from the public eyes - and you get 'oh, it was an accounting issue'.

Bring up Christian Paradis being censured by the Ethics Commissioner for breaking Conflict of Interest rules;  helping colleague Rahim Jaffer when he should have known better?  Harper dives to his side and calls the whole thing 'a learning experience'.

But something happened recently, something that actually made me sit up and take notice:

See, you may or may not remember Bev Oda - International Development Minister to the stars.  In previous episodes she hit the political big-time when she was found in contempt of parliamentary privilege for modifying a government document after it had been passed.  Ultimately, she got off Scott free - and even got her job back - after the last election resulted in a Harper majority.

What was interesting about this new little scandal was just how quickly Bev Oda did her about-face - from defiant to 'unreservedly apologetic'.

This time Harper wasn't there to catch her.  And that's a big deal.

Yet what's funny here is that, on the surface, it hardly seems like that much of a 'scandal' at all, really. Certainly when in relation to the scale of everything else - election fraud, fighter jets, unethical conduct.

But it's a much, much bigger issue and Harper's pounce on it, his effort to kill it, shows that he knows that as well.

In fact, from how quickly she paid back the monies owed and 'unreservedly' ate her words, we can tell that Harper wanted this one to go away - and fast.

Why?

Well, first, what did Bev Oda do?

Back in 2011, not long after the CPC had won its Majority, Bev Oda attended a conference on international immunization in London and was supplied with a room in the Grange St. Paul's Hotel - a 5-Star hotel, costing $287 a night.

She decided that this was not to her liking, so, despite the fact that the conference was being held in that very same hotel, she had herself upgraded to the London Savoy hotel instead. The Savoy room clocked in at $665 a night and her 3-day stay came to $1,995 (including $16 for an orange juice).  On top of that, because she now had to get back and forth from the Savoy to the Grange St. Paul, she hired a $1000 per day limo to ferry her to and fro.

All on the tax-payer's dime.

Again, doesn't seem like much though, right?  Even Oda herself thought all the media hub-bub was too much, thinking that there was nothing worth getting upset over and calling her critics 'extremists'.




But then look what happened literally one day later:




Why the sudden change of heart?

My best guess is - believe it or not - $16 orange juice.

See one thing Harper does know really well is that people don't 'get' numbers.  Certainly not us average folks who hate math and have trouble remembering how many '0's go in 1 Billion.

But we do know how much Orange Juice costs.

We may not get 'electoral fraud' or '$40 Billion on Jets we don't need' or 'Ethical corruption'.

But paying $16 for a glass of OJ and sticking it to the taxpayer?

It doesn't matter that this event happened a year ago.  What matters is that a great deal of Canadians are, right now, struggling under Harper's austerity measures - we don't care that he's already 'lowered taxes' because we can't feel it.  There is literally no day-to-day benefit.

Heck, most of us out there can't even afford Orange juice, let alone $16 a glass.

The reason that Harper jumped all over this is because Oda had committed the ultimate of sins: She made politics - specifically, the depth of Conservative Party corruption - relatable to the general public.  Riding around in $1000 per day limousines, living it up like Paris Hilton with her $16 Orange Juice - well, she practically begged for the public outrage.

And that's why the media and the Opposition has been kicking down the door over the OJ.  It's a touchstone - a potentially powerful one, apology or not.

With one brazen stroke of a pen, Bev Oda and her swanky stay at the Savoy has become the bane of the CPC's existence at one of the worst possible times.

That's why Harper forced her to eat her words and that's why she's shut up about it since.

She's now following a strict Harper-prescribed diet of 'head down, shut up, let it blow over'.

But how quickly this event transpired and was resolved - as RoboFraud and the F-35 scandal are left to linger and drag onward - is telling of the cracks forming in the CPC breastplate.

They're wounded and hyper-sensitive -- and it's these kinds of scandals, the small ones with memorable details like '$16 orange juice', that are going to be  the ones that bring this Government down.

Remember, they nabbed Capone on tax evasion.

And Stephen Harper ain't no Capone.

Cheers,
Brandon

P.S: As a side note: I want to send some real, heartfelt love to Norway and its people - who are showing the rest of us how the hell it's supposed to be done.  Bravo!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This Is What Courage Looks Like

As it's my wife's birthday tonight I'll be making this rather short and sweet before I head off to give her a well-deserved foot massage.

This woman, Annette Desgagne, has more guts in her little finger than the entire Conservative Party of Canada combined.

This is what courage looks like, people: http://bit.ly/HIwFQh

Maybe it's time for some of the 'small c' Conservatives to take a good, hard look at what Harper is doing to this country; Is this really what you wanted?

Is this what you signed up for?

A government dragging your name through the mud?

Embroiled in new lies and scandal practically every day of the week?

All party lines aside, what is being done to this country is not Canadian.

Gut-check time, folks - there isn't much time left to repair what's being done here - contracts are being signed, money is changing hands.

There's still time to cross the floor.

To be brave.

To fix this.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, April 16, 2012

Robocalls Probe Extends To Tory Headquarters

It's not often that I get to yell 'stop the presses' over here - especially, since, well... I don't have a press... but every once and a while you get what you ask for.

See, one thing I've noticed is that we've been a sort of 'drowning in scandal' mode here in Canada as of late.

And, interestingly enough, every single one of said 'scandals' was progressively less in scale. So perfectly timed as to be admired, really.

First we had Robofraud and that ignited the country in anger. Then the F-35 scandal, which, while a big deal, is still less important than a Government potentially stealing an election.

Then Peter MacKay says something stupid about Accounting Issues.

Then came the Budget and the many outrages: Border Security cut, Food Inspectors Cut, Aboriginal Women's Health Cut, CBC Cut - literally every day there's been a new aspect of the budget practically designed to piss Non-CPC supporters off.

Then there was Stephen Harper's $45,000 baseball game.

And so on and so on, smaller and smaller bits of outrage - almost as if trying to wean us off the teat.

Wear us down.

All-in-all I felt like the Robofraud story was starting to get lost in the shuffle - even I was finding myself moving on to F-35 stuff (as you can tell). The spigot on the Robocalls seemed firmly closed and, well, that worried the hell out of me.

So I took to Twitter today and started the #roborefresh hashtag, going through my (very, very long) list of bookmarks and articles and picking the top ones to re-share and help get others up to speed.

I even took to asking @Kady and @Stphnmaher (both Reporters who're well-versed in the debacle) for updates.

@Kady, didn't really take too well to my questions - though, in her defense, apparently she gets 'hectored' a lot by Twitter users. I think I touched a nerve there by asking about Robofraud updates.

Interestingly, the whole affair actually lead me to an interesting thought process re: news and Canadians role as consumers, etc - but I'll get into that more probably on Wednesday once I've digested it a tad.

@Stphnmaher didn't answer me at all - though now I think I know why:

Tonight he (and his writing partner Glen McGregor) broke the following story:

Robocalls probe extends to Tory headquarters

Remember how the Conservatives were saying 'oh, no, Ottawa had nothing to do with this'? Yeah, apparently Ottawa Headquarters had something to do with it.

From the article:
CIMS is known for its tight access controls and detailed event logging and retains a digital record of every transaction on the database. Interns and volunteers have been sanctioned when the logs showed they had looked up Prime Minister Stephen Harper's listing, for example.

The investigators have inquired about CIMS logs for one particular user in the party's headquarters. The logs show blanks between this person's CIMS logon and logoff on the day the Guelph data was accessed, according to the source.

Also of interest is a call to RackNine made on May 1, the day before the vote, from a number in the Conservative party war room in Ottawa.

The number is listed as belonging to Chris Rougier, who was identified as the party's manager of voter relation programs. It usually rings on his desk at party headquarters on Albert Street in downtown Ottawa, but was forwarded to the party's south Ottawa war room for the duration of the campaign.


Yes, you read that right - the tightly controlled CIMS logs have blank spaces in their records.

I think that gets to go down firmly in the 'WTF' category.

But, more importantly, it begs the question: "Who had the clearance necessary to delete information from secure CIMS logs?"

Certainly not some low-level grunt, that's for sure.

The fact that Elections Canada is making inquiries about activities in the Conservative war room appears to conflict with the conclusion of an internal probe, led by Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton, who was asked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to get to the bottom of the matter.

Hamilton, a veteran who handled the party's legal business in the In and Out elections-spending affair and the Helena Guergis scandal, is said to have concluded that no party workers outside of Guelph are implicated, a point that party representatives repeatedly emphasize.


More and more it looks like this investigation is climbing its way up the chain - We've now made it from Guelph to Ottawa. The only question left seems to be 'how high will this go?'.

A great deal of people have said that the co-ordinated nature of these Robocalls, though they come from many sources - including live calls, hint that there's someone at the wheel, a single guiding force trickling down its will.

And this article seems to suggest exactly that. Someone, on May 1st, 2011 was in the Conservative War Room in Ottawa placing a call to RackNine.

What does that prove? Nothing conclusive. But it does, again, beg a host of questions, not the least of which are:

Who made that call? Why were they calling RackNine? Why from the War Room?

Does the War room have any cameras in it?

When was Pierre Poutine's RackNine account made?

This is a fantastic article and I really hope you take the time to read it in full.

Cheers!
Brandon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Screw the F-35

One of the things that our Government has decided to be tight-lipped about in the quest to acquire 79 F-35s (more on that in a bit) is the fact that this 'amazing, multi-role' machine was never designed to be any such thing.

Originally, the F-35 was designed to work in tandem with the F-22 Raptor (I don't see Canada buying any of those... oh, right, you can't) - the idea was that the Raptor would be the 'ass-kicker of the skies' that would take out radar towers and handle the air-to-air arena while the F-35 would take on the role of a light bomber. Getting in fast, blowing stuff up on the ground, and getting out fast.

It was never considered to be a long-range bird. It was a supplemental weapon. Useful for very, very specific situations, and - at the time - it was going to be a steal at $35 Million a piece.

The F-22 was going to be the big dog - the 'it does everything' master of the skies. But then, well, it wasn't. It got too expensive to make -- the 'flyaway cost' for an F-22 was $150 Million in 2009 (No weapons or weapons systems, just bare plane) -- so they stopped making them.

And then, all of a sudden, well look who's the new 'multi-role' ass-kicking machine on the block?

You guessed it. Look out, here comes the Flying Piano.

It's 2012, do you know how much your F-35s are going to cost you?

Last year people were saying that it'd only be $80 Million for an F35 (another good article about that here).  Unfortunately, this year the price went up again.

From the article:
"In December 2010, the total development and acquisition cost—for both the aircraft and the Pratt & Whitney engine—was estimated at $379.4 billion; it is $395.7 billion now. Among the higher prices is a $4 billion increase in the estimate for labor hours as a result of data gleaned from the first four low-rate initial-production lots of aircraft."

Another great article here.

What's even more interesting is that all of this talk is not even for the cost of the full, 'ready-to-fly-and-kill-things' plane.  No, for the price our government is kicking around, you're lucky if it comes with an engine (I'm serious).

The US has, thankfully, put together a full account of what the 'weapon systems flyaway cost' of an F-35A is - F-35A being the closest thing to the CF-35s that we'll be getting:

$197 Million each.

From the article:
"The Canadian government has estimated its 65 F-35s will cost just $75 million each to acquire. But the parliamentary budget officer pegs that number at $148 million."

Apparently everyone's counting on getting these things at a severe discount.

Or coming with fun little Nerf missiles.

Oh, Funny story.  Turns out that we're buying 79 F-35s not 65.  See, there was a bit of fun math being done here - what they actually did was buy the planes in two waves.  One big wave of 60 and a smaller, second wave, of 19. That way they can quote you the costs of the 60 planes and keep mum about the other ones coming down the pipe.

Of course that's not the last of it.

See, the Americans also purchased their F-35s with the estimate that they'd have a 'Fleet Life Cycle' of 55 years.

Even our own Prime Minister Harper touted getting a good "40 Years" out of ours.

From the article:
"Our government’s investment in the F-35 fighter jet is expected to bring sustained employment to Canadian companies for the next 40 years." - Stephen Harper

And yet, somehow Peter MacKay and Harper and our Department of National Defense managed to come up with a 20-year life cycle?

Oh, what's that? He won't resign? And Harper's not forcing him to either?

Great!

So, finally, before I head on out of here, lets talk criticism.

The F-35's had several Terabytes of its internal code, data and specs stolen by Chinese hackers.
It's also surprisingly easy to hack one of the F-35s themselves (if you know how, of course)
It's already obsolete.
Oh, and its 'stealth' is only effective against X-band radar, not the more old-school and harder to fool L-Band radar.

And, finally - for those saying 'yeah, we need this for our NATO obligations - apparently it's also Not capable of Operating within a NATO Environment.

Yeah.  So, essentially the F-35 has been - and I believe this is the technical term - a 'clusterfuck' of massive proportions.

Yet our Government can't wait to throw more of our precious tax money at the problem.  Even now Harper's out there gutting and slashing Social programs under the guise of 'austerity' -- an austerity we wouldn't even need if not for these bloody planes.

Harper, MacKay - you say you haven't signed the contract yet.  Great.

Do our country a favour, walk away from the table and put that money back were it belongs: Our country.

Cheers,
Brandon

EDIT: It's come to my attention that in the midst of our 'necessary' Austerity cuts, our Prime Minister has decided that not only is this a fantastic time to renovate The House Of Commons, he's spending $42 Million out of our pockets to build what amounts to a 'Crystal Palace' as a 'temporary home' for The HoC.

You'd think, with all this talk of 'Austerity' he'd put everyone up in tents or something. But no. $42 million.

And that's only what they've budgeted.

And we all know how our government is with budgets.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tripping In The Tangled Web

I'm not a huge fan of Peter MacKay - as a Defense Minister. I don't know him as a person - but to see the way that Stephen Harper has nailed his ass to the tracks, it's kind of despicable. Especially when you consider how, not so long ago, he practically dove from the shores of Bangkok to the defense of Christian Paradis and his (many) ethics violations.

Actually Harper has a history of diving to pretty much everyone's side when the big bad media calls them out.

But not MacKay.

No, in this case, MacKay stands alone - and that's exactly how our Prime Minister wants it.

You see, if we're busy pecking at the eyeballs of Mr. MacKay then chances are we're not remembering that little tiny factoid where Stephen Harper *chose* to allow his last Government to fall to Contempt rather than answer the Oppositions direct questions about the costs of the F-35 program.

See, that was a major sticking point with the last government - the 'contempt' part kicked in because Ministers were asking sensible things like 'how much is this stuff costing us?' and Harper was snowing them.  He refused to provide this information, information necessary for other Ministers to do their jobs, to the point where he got called out for it.

Which then quickly brought about a no-confidence motion.

Why didn't he reveal the true costs of the F-35 program?  Why would he hide it?

His own brand of Political Savvy.

My best guess is that he knew the wolves were circling, they were asking questions about the F-35s because they knew that the answer would be exactly the kind of thing that the public would get upset over.

That and there was a general mood that Harper's government might actually fall anyway.

So, rather than release the information - information that would've probably cost him the coming election - he kept it back and allowed his government to fall, willing to chance that he'd come out ahead in the next election.

Which, *whew* is exactly what happened.  Luckily for him the Robocall thing worked wonders -- waaay better than that (also successful) test run in 2008 with Saanich-Gulf Islands -- and Harper got his Majority.

And everything would've been dusted off and forgotten.

Except for the Robofraud scandal putting reporters' eyes firmly back on the Government.

And average Canadians - already feeling disenfranchised by Harper, somehow, miraculously, pulling a Majority out of his ass - waking up to discover that our Political system is a toothless monstrosity and being quite angered by that realization.

And then the AG with that damning report.

Oh, and people's memories being decidedly much better than Harper gives us 'dumb voters' credit for.

So now he's embroiled in scandal on two fronts - he's hemorrhaging 'small c' Conservative support like a stuck pig and the International community is backing off from Canada like we've contracted the plague.

That's okay, though. I'm sure this is all going according to Harper's brilliant plan.

But just in case, I'll be over here sharpening my voting pencil/pitchfork.

If you're interested there's some great reading material here:

On the Need for a Royal Commission on Electoral Practices in Canada
Election Scandals Didn't Start With Robocalls
Rhetoric heats up as Liberals, NDP snipe at F-35 plan
Tories may have broken 2011 election rules with US Republican campaigners in Ontario

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, April 09, 2012

F-35 becoming Harper's Concrete Shoes

Stephen Harper has been dodging questions left and right all week, trying to keep his party's head above water as he's attacked on two fronts - the Robofraud scandal and the F-35 scandal.

And that whole F-35 thing has been getting rather juicy, let me tell you.

As it turns out, our Prime Minister can't seem to make up his mind if we've actually signed a contract or not.

We haven't, but back in January it was a different story - not only had we signed the contract but to cancel it would cost us jobs -- oh, precious jobs.

Besides, any worries about the spiraling costs of the program weren't something for us to worry about as the "contract" we'd signed protects us from cost increases. (see video below).


More and more, I've been coming to the realization that all of the Party's defensive tactics as of late haven't been directed toward us - the politically aware eager-beavers - but at their once-slumbering base; a base that has started to waken and ask some very, very pointed questions.

Like 'why is this no-compete bid for planes costing us $25 billion?' (or $40 billion, if you listen to Mr. Andrew Coyne's logic over here).

I've talked to quite a few 'small c' Conservatives who're watching this scandal unfold with silent horror, as their leader scrambles and flounders to deflect an seemingly endless flurry of accusations, shady revelations and scandals.

In fact, one point that hadn't really hit home for me until tonight, until a really interesting conversation with a friend of mine, was just how truly damaging the F-35 scandal is for the Cons. See, the Robofraud scandal is and has been easy for the Right to wave off as 'Silly, whiny Libtards being silly, whiny Libtards!'. But the F-35 scandal hits Conservatives in their home base - on two issues that many actually give a crap about: Fiscal conservatism and our troops.

As it turns out, many Conservatives care deeply that our Troops are properly outfitted and able to go into battle prepared with the very best we can provide for them. Makes sense, really.

That said, these single engine jets, as it turns out, aren't actually all that good for the Arctic - where they'd be spending a majority of their lifetime. See, it turns out they don't do so well in the cold. Or for long range missions.

How bad are they? I like this quote (found here) “Single engine? In the Arctic? I wouldn’t put my worst enemy in one!”

It turns out there's no shortage of criticisms being leveled at the F-35:

It's vulnerable to being hacked.

And it had several Terabytes worth of its internal code stolen by the Chinese. Meaning much of its internals are already well known to supposed 'enemies'.

Oh and there's that part where it's already obsolete.

This F-35 scandal, from the ground up, has been a series of backdoor handshakes and promises made on the backs of tax-paying citizens. Citizens who Harper expected to be kept in the dark, to 'shut up and pay for it'.

Now, as Harper moves to push Austerity measures onto us - so that we can save for this big, unnecessary, purchase - Social programs are being cut across the board.

His 'Harper Government' now 'forced' to make nickel-and-dime cuts to valuable programs like The National Aboriginal Health Organization - cuts that save the Government 'pennies' on the large scale but are desperately needed by those that use them.

This entire boondoggle is - and should be - an outrage to every Canadian, no matter what your political stripe. From blatant lies and deception to a fixed and corrupt procurement, this government is mired in scandal after scandal because Stephen Harper has created an ethical vacuum. He has lowered the bar for integrity at every possible junction and now, after all this, he still believes he has the moral authority to govern this country and our futures.

I think it's time we showed this man the door. And the way things are going, we won't have to wait until 2015 to make it happen.

Lace up your boots, folks. It gets real muddy from here on out.

Cheers,
Brandon

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Pierre Poutne Has Been Revealed

Happy Easter everyone!

Just stepping away from a mouthful of chocolate bunny to share this with you all:

Some great detective work has been done and thanks to one Canadian, Brian-Michel LaRue, 'Pierre Poutine' has been revealed.

Read the original breaking story here.

Read Saskboy's take on it here.

Fantastic work!
Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, April 06, 2012

Yeah, This Pretty Much Says It All...

I was going to write a really long post about F-35s and our government's seeming inability to tell the truth about anything we're actually interested in knowing about.

But it's been a hell of a day, my mind is a tad wiped and, well,

Then I saw this:


And I realized I was trying too hard.

The Harpocrisy is so thick now that to try point it out is, well, kind of wasting your breath. The best way to point it out is to let good ol' Steve say everything that needs to be said.

How far you've fallen, (once) good sir.

In other news, this story caught my eye as well:

Two Julian Fantino Campaign Backers Exceeded Donation Limits by 60,000%


Now, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure that exceeding the legal donation limit by 60,000% is kind of on the illegal side. So, yeah, there's that.

Anyways, have a happy Easter and, please, feel free to read on - there's lots of juicy little tidbits here for you below:

Stephen Harper and the Moral Abyss
Lessons learned from the F-35 acquisition debacle
Rights And Democracy: Tories Killing Mulroney-Era Agency
The Commons: The $25 billion question


Finally, one last share:

CBC, according to Stephen Harper... Mouth of Gold from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting on Vimeo.



Cheers - and happy Chocolate Bunny day!
Brandon

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

You Need To See This

At the heart of the Robofraud issue may be a little thing called 'vote moving' - Watch this video and the intriguing case that it makes.


A huge tip of the hat goes to Steven Bryant and Dave Janakowski for creating this excellent video - and it most definitely opens a plausible case for a full investigation.

Add in the current issue with the F-35 - an issue, that it turns out, was instrumental in Harper losing his 2nd Government (remember that whole 'Contempt of Parliament' thing?). Apparently one of the things that the Opposition was demanding to know, that the Conservatives refused to share, was the costs associated with buying all those F-35 planes.

Whoops.

And, you know, the lies about the costs.

If there's one common thread that's been coming to light over the last couple of months it's that our Government has absolutely no problem lying to our faces in order to get what it wants.

Why is it so hard to believe that they'd steal an election?

Anyways, I've got to get caught up on my letter writing - it's funny how holding down a 9-5 job, having a 1 year old and trying to write a semi-decent spec pilot can take a toll on the ol' 'free time'.

Also: please take a moment to watch this video as well:

Hunger Strike to Protest Enbridge Pipeline: Join Us, Please!

If you're interested in Robofraud or the F35 issue, read more about them here:

The rumbling and shaking at 101 Colonel By Drive
Rights and Democracy: you can't kill a corpse
Auditor Gen. and other watchdogs must name wrongdoers
CBC Cuts 115 Million/CPC Advertising 136.3 Million

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, April 02, 2012

Robocalls Not Going Away

Hey folks!

Friday ended up being a bust, I was out of town visiting mom for her birthday (happy birthday mom!) and it turns out that trying to blog from my smartphone is about as much fun as slamming your tongue in a car door.

(not that I've done that).

So, what'd we miss?

Well, on Thursday of last week, Marc Mayrand - the Chief Electoral Officer for Elections Canada - showed up before the Commons procedures and house affairs committee to gave a statement and answer questions.

What most were expecting to be a typical case of wag the dog turned out to be a rather enlightening event.

Of course the Conservatives immediately moved to try and put all of the fault for the Robocalls on Elections Canada's doorstep, saying that EC was handing out 'flawed' voter lists. M. Mayrand made a good point in that there are no phone numbers that come with their list. If there are errors with phone numbers, it's most likely that they come from parties trying to match numbers to addresses.

M. Mayrand also revealed that the scope of the investigation is pretty much double what last estimates were - now over 200 ridings across Canada, almost 2/3rds of the country, share about 800 'legitimate' complaints.

Again, the Conservatives dove into action - having done the math - that that was only, like, 4 complaints per riding.

Yeah, sure, if you look at it like that. Only 800 people complained so it doesn't count. What's the threshold?

M. Mayrand smartly put the Conservative in his place by saying 'even one complaint is too much'.

One other little news tidbit that seemed to get lost in the shuffle was that, now, in the middle of one of the largest investigations in Elections Canada's history, the Harper Government was slashing Elections Canada's budget by $7.5 million per year.

Oh... yeah, that doesn't seem shady at all.

On a quick budgetary side-note, the Harper Government raised the retirement age from 65 to 67.  They're doing this in the hopes of 'saving' some money.  Sure, it doesn't sound like a big deal but it essentially means that our government is betting on the fact that a whole swath of Canadians won't live to collect their fair share of the Canada Pension Plan that they've been paying into their whole lives.

I mean, you understand why the 'retirement' age was originally set at 65 in the first place, right?  Because back when the idea of 'retirement' was instituted, hardly anyone lived that long.

I guess this is just Harper nudging the odds back in his favour, huh?

Am I the only one that finds this despicable?

Anyways, I'm still writing letters to our dear Governor General - I'm about a day behind right now though, so hopefully I can get caught up tonight.

On the bright side, my penmanship has certainly seen a bump.

More to come!

Cheers,
Brandon

Extra Stuff to read:

Robocall scandal escalates
Budget cuts another victory in Tory war on information: opposition

Also worth noting for an extra dose of WTF?
US Blocking UK Travel to Canada [via @saskboy]
Harper Government Monitoring Social Media: Redefining Truth