The problem with Idle No More

•January 6, 2013 • 7 Comments

Here is an interview with the founder of Idle No More, Nina Wilson:

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/01/05/idle-no-more-founder-discusses-jan-11-and-why-repealing-bill-c-45-should-be-on-the-table/

She states that “My main concern is Bill C-45.  It has the, it is one of the most horrible that I’ve ever.  You know I’m not a bill person…. And this Bill C-45 is one of the most horrible that I’ve ever had to see.  It needs to be scrapped, it needs to be ummmm really looked at because it is causing so many problems.

Many will claim it is about so much more, but in this case I’ll listen to the founder.  So let’s look at Bill C-45, and the “problems” it is creating.

Change to the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

We have all heard the claims that most of our lakes and rivers will no longer be environmentally protected under C-45. Is this true?

C-45 only amends the “Navigable Waters Protection Act”, which has provided for protection of passage on Canada’s navigable waters.  It does not remove any other legislation in force.
Refer to Blakes’ commentary on the bill:  http://www.blakes.com/english/view_bulletin.asp?ID=5617
According to the bulletin, it strengthens some aspect of protection:

“Another provision of note in the NPA is a prohibition on dewatering of navigable waters. “Dewatering” is not defined. This prohibition is not restricted to only those navigable waters listed in the Schedule but will apply to any navigable waters throughout Canada. There is a provision which allows the Governor in Council to order an exemption from the prohibition if such an exemption would be in the public interest. However, there is no approval power granted to the Minister in respect of such dewatering. This may prove problematic for major industries which currently use substantial amounts of water for their business. It also raises a question as to the intersection with provincial water laws which provide licences for water use.”

It will make it harder for industry to pull water out of waterways.

Also, the NWPA was never about protecting the environment, it was about protecting navigation.  As per Blakes:

“Other commentators have suggested the amendments to the NWPA, in essence, mean it is no longer an act that protects the environment. In reality, the NWPA is not, and has never been, a statute which provided for protection of the aquatic environment; rather, it provides for protection of navigation, over which the federal government has exclusive authority under Canada’s constitution. “ 

So what is happening in regards to other environmental protection?  See http://blakesfiles.com/pub/English/environmental/jul_2012/Fish.pdf for details on the fishery protection.  The key paragraph is:

“What has been lost in this public discourse is that changes made by Bill C-38 to the Act actually increase the oversight by the federal government of activities impacting fish-bearing waters and fish habitat. This includes extending the power to order works to mitigate harm, allowing government officials to shut down operations permanently and increasing responsibilities on individuals and corporations to report potentially harmful activities.”

We still have the “Canadian Environmental Enhancement Act” and whatever provincial statutes protecting our waters.  See http://www.blakes.com/english/view_bulletin.asp?ID=5625 , which says:

“…the bill also contains some potentially significant additions to the enforcement tools that may be used by federal regulators and the courts to encourage compliance and impose meaningful punishment on offenders….”  As well as “Aboriginal Involvement: The New CEAA has, as a stated purpose, the promotion of aboriginal involvement in the environmental assessment process through communication and co-operation, and requires that the assessment consider specific effects on Aboriginal Peoples.”

In regards to Fisheries, it says

“There is a unique change to the provisions prohibiting the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat (s. 35). The bill contains an amendment to the prohibition which is automatic upon passage by Parliament. This change does not significantly alter the prohibition itself but does expand the scope of the prohibitions from “works and undertakings” to include all activities”

“Another area of particular significance is the fines for offences under the Act. These have been amended to increase the maximum fines for large corporations to up to C$6-million for offences which are prosecuted under indictment and C$4-million for summary matters. Perhaps more significantly, there will also be requirements for the courts to impose minimum fines on corporations. In the case of large companies, the minimum fine for a first offence is C$100,000 for summary convictions and C$500,000 for matters that proceed by indictment. All maximums and minimums are doubled for subsequent offences.”

So a second offence, if prosecuted by indictment, would yield a million dollar fine.  All this sounds like greater environmental protection to me!

Change to the Indian Act

The section of C-45 that amends the Indian Act is here:
http://parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=5942521&File=194#6
Explanatory notes are under section 8 here: http://www.fin.gc.ca/pub/c45/4-eng.asp  It is helpful to compare the changes to the original act, to understand what changes have been made.  http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/I-5/page-15.html#h-20 .

It primarily changes what sort of meetings are required to perform a ‘”and designation.”  I quote:

“… allows a First Nation to lease a part of the reserve without surrendering its collective interest. Furthermore, it enables the First Nation to collect real property tax from lessees. Land designation enables First Nation corporations and third party developers to lease reserve land. Financial institutions regard leases as assets, enabling First Nations to use them as collateral for securing loans or financing economic development projects.”

The explanatory notes say that the changes are as a result of concerns with the current land designation regime voiced by the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, and the Auditor General.  The original land designation process was at the request of a First Nation back in 1988, so they would not have to initiate a land surrender.  I therefore find the claim of no consultation to be a little false in this case.

This document does an excellent job of explaining the changes.  It says the proposed voting amendments apply only to land designations, not land surrenders, and were done to respond to the frustrations of First Nations.  http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1350676320034/1350676521625

It sounds to me like this is sound policy legislated after consultation.  I fail to see Ms. Wilson’s claim that it is ‘horrible’.

I know the movement has other concerns.  Some of them may be valid.  Others, like increased transparency and accountability, sound like they will be of benefit to the average First Nations member, but a thorn in the side of corrupt chiefs.

There has also been numerous claims of ‘no consultation.”  If you look here, http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1355502559608/1355502642538, it appears that the Minister has been doing consultations on several acts and entering into various new agreements. Thus I find the claim of no consultation to be false.

The real problem with Idle No More is twofold:  First, the Chief Spence’s fish broth ‘hunger’ strike will only take the focus away from important issues.  Second, the movement is claiming there to be problems where none exist, rather than concentrating on the real issues that do exist.  Seriously, how can the Harper Government respond to claims that it knows are false?  It can’t.

Jack Layton makes the case for corporate giveaways

•April 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I quote:

“It’s 2010 and Stephen Harper dishes out more tax breaks to rich corporations. He says that it will make Canada more attractive to job creators.  Well one of those companies, Electrolux, sure did create jobs. 1300 in Memphis by moving them out of Canada.” “Unlike our plan, Stephen Harper’s jobs policy is across-the-board tax breaks, even to large profitable companies shipping Canadian jobs overseas,”

Jack, Memphis isn’t overseas.  To be serious, let’s take a look at what is behind this:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/todays-paper/Electrolux+jobs+moving+Memphis/3986071/story.html

http://www.memphisdailynews.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=54921

Again, I quote:

The 700,000-square-foot Memphis plant will be built on 800 acres of land. The city and county mayors will seek $20 million from each local government for public infrastructure, including roads into the industrial park. The state of Tennessee is putting up another $92 million for infrastructure and facilities at the industrial site.

Memphis won out over Mexico and other locations because of its low cost structure, skilled labour pool and favourable logistics, he said.

“Decisions like this are never easy, but this time it was clearcut because of the extensive support we received from state, city and county … the choice will strengthen our position in North America,” he added.

In short, Memphis has a favorable cost structure, and Canadian Governments weren’t willing to offer similar subsidies. So should not Jack be arguing for more subsidies if he wants to use the Electrolux example?

So what about the “dishing out corporate tax breaks to rich corporations angle?”  In this case, Electrolux made the decision to move based on other costs and attractive features offered by Tennessee.  Because they moved their plant, they can no longer take advantage of our lower tax rate.  Even without Mr. Harper’s lowering of the tax rate, Electrolux would have moved.  Thus, this is one corporation that we are not handing a tax break out to. Sorry Electrolux, you missed out!

This leaves the overall revenue loss of federal rate cuts to be almost revenue neutral at $100-million. At such a small revenue cost, the federal corporate tax reduction is great policy. As I estimated last year, the three-point reduction in the corporate rate would lead to an increase in capital investment of about $50-billion within seven years. A $100-million annual revenue loss that can generate that much new capital expenditure is a slam-dunk in policy terms. 

Growing the economy will also lead to higher incomes and jobs. The personal, sales and other tax revenue raised by federal and provincial governments would add substantially to the pot of money available to governments. None of this is included in my numbers.

Overall, we would be cutting off our nose to spite our face if we decide to roll back the corporate tax reductions brought in this year and next.

Even Liberal MP and economist John McCallum admits there would be a loss of jobs if we rolled back the corporate tax rate reductions:

A job loss isn’t minor if it happens to someone in your family!  As well, a lost job increases the cost of EI programs, and pays lower income taxes.

Could this be why they are losing jobs?

Do we really want American style high corporate tax rates?  Could this be why our unemployment rate is going in the opposite direction than theirs?

Open Letter To Prime Minister Harper regarding Climategate and Copenhagen

•December 2, 2009 • 1 Comment

December 1, 2009

Right Honourable Stephen Harper,

Prime Minister of Canada,

Dear Prime Minister Harper:

Recent developments in the area of climate change, most notably the leak of the emails, data and computer program code from University of East Anglia‘s Climatic Research Unit, mean we must take a sober second look at the entire hypothesis before we support drastic action at Copenhagen.

As you are no doubt aware, the leak of the data, emails, computer program code and comments seem to indicate that the data was to some degree falsified in order to obtain the ‘hockey stick.’  The leak has been so serious that Phil Jones, the unit’s director, announced that he will stand aside until an independent review determines whether he overstated the case for man-made climate change.  As well, Penn State is investigating Michael Mann, the publisher of the hockey stick theorem.

We have also seen the East Anglia unit ignored freedom of information requests in order to prevent scrutiny of their research.  One must ask “Why?”

There are other areas of concern besides the East Anglia leak.  For instance, mathematician Douglas J. Keenan has published a peer reviewed paper alleging fraud by IPCC researcher Wei-Chyung Wang on “urban heat islands”.  There has also been allegations of manipulation of both Australia’s and New Zealand’s climate research to falsely support climate change.

A secondary reason for using caution before supporting climate change is that you are should not abandon the Conservative base, which could have very negative consequences for you.  This week the Australian Liberal Party replaced its leader Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott, who has vowed to defeat Australia’s draconian carbon tax.  If Liberals can act with such integrity, why shouldn’t Conservatives?

Dan Bergen

Calgary North Centre.

Jasmine Fiore’s Murder and Concrete Equities

•August 20, 2009 • 7 Comments

Most of you by now are familiar with the case of Jasmine Fiore, a model whose body was found inside a suitcase. Police are searching for her husband, Ryan Alexander Jenkins, as a person of interest. As an interesting side note, his last job was as a sales representative with a Calgary company named “Concrete Equities.” It was involved in serious real estate investment fraud in Canada and is now in receivership.

I first became interested in Concrete Equities when a friend of mine asked me to check them out as she was interested in investing with them. Being as I am a thorough investigator, I discovered the following:

  • Many of the return claims were exaggerated. They calculated the annual projected returns by taking the total over 5 years and dividing by 5, which doesn’t take compound interest into account.
  • The returns quoted includes a large cash inflow by re-mortgaging at the end of 5 years based on an annual increase in the property’s value. First, the market crashed and this won’t be possible. Second, this is like placing a second mortgage on your house and saying ‘Look at all the interest I made.’
  • After the re-mortgaging at the end of five years, the mortgage payments would increase. Thus either rents would have to increase, or cash distributions would be eliminated and possibly the investors would have to kick in extra funds to make the payments. The interest on the increased portion of the mortgage proceeds probably wouldn’t be deductible for tax purposes, as it was not incurred to earn income, but to distribute cash to unit holders.
  • I checked the tax opinion in the offering memorandums. They didn’t contain this, and seemed suspicious in several other ways. I contacted the law firms credited with authoring the opinions to see if they actually did them. I was told they did not.
  • The then vice president of the firm, Dave Humeniuk, was under a lifetime ban by the Real Estate Council of Alberta.
  • The company president had on his facebook page pictures of the corporate jet and his collection of exotic cars. I had to ask where the money was going.

Since that time several things have happened:

Update: It is now being reported that Mr. Jenkins had been convicted of assaulting a previous girlfriend. I would ask why Concrete Equities would hire someone with a criminal record to sell their investments, but I already know the answer:  They hired someone under a lifetime ban from the Real Estate Association of Alberta to be their Vice President.  When I asked Dave Jones, President of Concrete Equities, why they would hire such a person as their VP, he just said “I let God be the judge of his character.”  Looks like some people aren’t very good judges of character.  Then again, when it comes to people with good, solid character, it takes one to know one!

Decision not to renew Chief Electoral Officer’s contract correct

•February 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

An 11 member committee has decided not to renew the contract of the Chief electoral Officer, Lorne Gibson. Opposition MLA’s are crying foul, believing that he was ‘fired’ for speaking out. From my interactions with Mr. Gibson and his department I believe that he does not posses sufficient skill in interpreting the law to function in his position, nor did he sufficiently supervise and educate his staff.

I had carefully studied the Elections Act and checked and photographed some of the signs of a local candidate. I was concerned that the signs were violating section 134 of the Elections Act, which reads as follows:

134(1) Every printed or electronic advertisement, handbill, placard or poster having a reference to any election shall include on its front in legible form the name and address of the sponsor.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a printed or electronic advertisement, handbill, placard or poster bearing only one or more of the following:

(a)    the colours and logo of a registered political party;

(b)    the name of a registered political party;

(c)    the name of a candidate.

I called his office to find the answer to my question. I was told that he was only concerned with advertising in the polling station. The lady I taled to maintained this even after checking the act. It seems inappropriate to me that an ordinary citizen can have a deeper knowledge of the act in under 5 minutes than a civil servant whose job it is to administer and interpret it. I emailed my question to Mr. Gibson, who responded as follows:

In response to your first question, it would be my view that any other wording or the name of an electoral division on an advertisement would not “invalidate” the exception in 134(2). I would interpret the exception to mean that when either or all of (a), (b) or (c) are present, there is no need for name and address of the sponsor.

Clearly this interpretation is incorrect if the word ‘only’ 134(2) is referred to.

Based on my interaction with Mr. Gibson I must conclude that the decision to not renew his contract was correct.

The most vocal critic of the ‘firing’ is Liberal MLA. Hugh MacDonald. Today I checked Mr. MacDonald’s re-election website. Based on my reading of section 134 I must conclude that if the website was the same during the election, he is not in compliance with this section. The front page of the site reads “Last Updated ( Saturday, 09 February 2008 )”, therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the site was not in compliance during the campaign. I find it inappropriate that Mr. McDonald would comment or even be allowed to serve on the committee if his own campaign violated the Election Act.

I finally figured out why the Conservative party doesn’t get many votes in Toronto

•February 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Keep wishing buddy!

Keep wishing buddy!

From Craigslist, see http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/tor/881177993.html

I quote:

Hello ladies of the internet!

I am here today, as are you, to find the love of my life ideally. Now, I am an introspective and reflective man so over my life I’ve come to realise exactly what I’m looking for in my ideal woman.Personally, I am 22 years old, my name is Perseus, I am attending U of T in the final year of my Engineering degree, and I am a little on the chubby side. I am a dedicated Green party voter and staunchly opposed to the Conversative (sic) hordes dashing themselves against the impregnable Liberal/NDP/Green keep of our fine enlightened city …..

As hobbies go, I am an avid gamer and enjoy delving into the myriad artistic realities of animé (the origin of my affinity for Asian culture, which is frankly superior).

You MUST fulfill the following requirements:
– Asian
– Woman
– Aged NO MORE THAN 23
– – and NO LESS THAN 16
– Petite build. Ideally no more than 115 lbs.
– – but no ‘Paris Hilton’ bulimics please!
I like my women with some meat on them. …

I must stress again that this is for a SERIOUS, long term relationship. Not some ‘fling’ as though I were a boy toy to be tossed aside.

Hmmm, I suspect this fellow suffers from a little bit of ‘reality disconnect’, as do many Toronto voters. There is nothing wrong with preferring woman who are 115 lbs or under, but it is important to ensure you have what such a woman wants in a man. I’m also not sure how you find someone who is 115 lbs or under but has more “meat on her bones” than Paris Hilton.

Well, Torontonians, keep living in your anime dream world.  You think something is going to turn out like this but reality is more like this, this, this, or wose yet this.

Jack Layton’s confuses democracy with ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’

•October 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Jack Layton recorded a youtube videoon p2pnet.net, a file sharing news service, declaring his support for file sharing services and the internet in general.

I quote the moustached munchkin:

“You know social networking sites, and and torrent sites, Youtube uh, operations, the the truly interactive websites are actually very fundamental to making a democracy work and to helping human intelligence to be shared and exchanged. It’s about as fundamentally democratic as you can get and we are ‘The New Democratic Party’. .. and what we want to see is, the the internet used as a public tool, it’s a public tool for exchanging ideas… the goals that we share, to achieve a more democratic country through the free exchange of information on the internet.”

If the internet is a public tool for exchanging ideas, why did Jack turn off the comments section his you tube video. “Adding comments has been disabled for this video.” Is he afraid that some ideas will be against him? I guess he supports the free exchange of information, except when it is anti-New Democrat.

Interactive websites like Digg, Slashdot and YouTube are wonderful tools for the democratic exchange of ideas. So are blogs, but somehow Jack failed to mention them. Perhaps he doesn’t like the idea of Blogging Tories. P2P file sharing services, however, are more about anarchy than democracy. Democracy is about having an open market for ideas and discussion, not stealing other’s intellectual property.

It must be talk like a pirate day

If you take at some of the P2P network indexing sites, like mininova, thepiratebay.org, mybittorrent, newtorrents, www.torrentbox, and torrentreactor it is obvious that these sites are more about the free exchange of commercial music, videos and software than the free exchange of ideas. What has being able to download a free copy of Adobe Photoshop, Borat or Spore got to do with democracy?

If Jack supports the free exchange of ideas, why doesn’t he speak out more against Communist China? They don’t allow their citizens to visit many western websites. Living next door to the Chinese consulate, I know that they have somehow taken action to prevent demonstrations against their repressive regime – one that prevents freedom of speech, assembly and religion and exploits workers. Democracy is about being able to say what you want freely, not being able to steal other’s work.

If Canada made the downloading of music, movies, books or programs perfectly legal, it will undermine the financial foundation of the artistic and commercial software communities. Artists would receive lower royalties, and record companies and movie studios will be less likely to take a gamble on new projects. There is another potential devastating problem with allowing free copyright violation. If Canadians download their music, movies and software rather that buying them, would not some studios cease all development activities in Canada as a protest?

Lets face it, downloading software, music and software is stealing intellectual property. People of true integrity will not support it. Yeah, it’s nice to be able to get anything you want for free, and it is a popular political stance, but it’s not right.

Jack speaks out against a two tier internet where file sharing services are throttled. This sounds good to start with, but lets take a minute to think about it. If half of all internet users are consistently downloading huge files, that will consume a huge amount of bandwidth compared to regular browsing, including Youtube. The result is either a slower internet for regular use, or internet providers will need to beef up their infrastructure and pass the costs on to consumers.

For Jack, it’s all about being abainst big corporations, not having a well thought out plan.

 
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