General Andrew Leslie : A Teachable Moment

    Before I expound on what this “affair” teaches, let me first deal with privacy issue here or as one twitter user argued:

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    Now let us go out of our way, be kind, and merely say that this is an “apples and oranges” argument. Let us, for example put an apple and an orange in the same basket.

   A Member of Parliament puts in a travel claim for, say $50K and also, as it happens, in the same period, has an abortion that is claimed on an OHIP card. For the sake of argument let us assume both claims are entirely legitimate.

   I argue that the travel expense, involving public funds was claimed in her role as a public servant whereas the healthcare claim, also involving public funds, was done as a private citizen having NOTHING to do with her position and is nobody’s damn business. Is this so hard to grasp?

   I argue that General Leslie’s claim was made attendant to his role as a public servant and not as a private citizen. I do not take into account whether the claim was legitimate or not. I do not take into account, if it is legitimate, whether it is excessive or not. I merely argue that an expenditure of public funds attendant to a pubic function should be a matter of public record.

   The Alberta Government, for example, had no problem recently publishing the salaries of upper management civil servants.

So now, what does this teach us?

I maintain that if all such expenses were out in the open and not hidden in ATIPville there would be no opportunity for a “smear”. All the facts and figures would be there for anyone to see. No need to defend or offend. General Leslie would not be the centre of a cat fight nor would his character be impugned or impugnable.

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Is The NSA Watching Canada?

Let’s start this off with a spoiler.  Yes, the NSA is spying on Canadians. (and so is CSEC) We are not only a “foreign” country but we are right next door and their biggest (or is China in the #1 spot now?) trading partner. Apparently they spy on foreigners and allies alike.

Whether there is any association with CSEC or any other security apparatus in Canada has not been revealed. Again this is a virtual certainty to some lesser or greater extent.

Quite simply communications do not stop at an imaginary line called the “border”.

One of the biggest “tells” was the recent statement by the American Ambassador to Canada asserting that the U.S. is NOT spying on Canadians. Now, this is obviously a lie (whether the ambassador believes it or not) because, by implication, we are asked to believe that the ambassador is privy to information that Congress itself does not have.

As the saying goes “Give me a break”.

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The Great Canadian Militarization

 

    There are several aspects to the Harper Governments approach to the militarization of Canada. First, it has become apparent that this government believes words speak louder than actions. The Action Plan ads are a good example. Call it communications, spin, re-branding, advertising, what have you, it is all a form of propaganda.

    Gone is the vision of Canada the “peace keeper”. From the ham-fisted attempt at stirring up some kind of jingoistic martial spirit with the War of 1812 “celebration” to (more recently) the rewriting of our history, to the more subtle renaming of Canada’s forces to ensure that we are all aware that they are “armed” they appear to be beavering away to get us all into the right mindset. We can add to this what is, to date, a PR campaign with respect to Iran. Then there are the adventures in Libya and, of course Afghanistan. Maybe Harper, like Reagan, will find Canada’s Grenada (it turned out Mali wasn’t it) Maybe like Grenada it will result in lots of medals all around. They could repurpose the Jubilee medals. There must be a gross or two in the PMO somewhere.

    Canadians dying for nothing in Afghanistan have their bodies paraded on the “Highway of Heroes” . Apparently Canada’s Valhalla is a piece of the 401 highway. And I mean dying for nothing because they are not defending Canada (the second D in DND) but some corporate vision of Canada. It may well give some closure to the loved ones left behind but it is theatre. It is propaganda.

    And its not that the Harper government is a great fan of military personnel per se especially the injured and the vets (they, having lost their utility). It would not be at all surprising, in fact, that the Harper Government looks with a jaundiced eye at DND in general, having been gamed by them to some extent with respect to acquisitions. The F-35 comes to mind.

   

   So why this social engineering? Why the militarization?

  

   We have only to reference the hegemon to the south. I am sure Harper et al look with envy at the U.S. military industrial complex with its attendant (and bloated) security establishment. It is a capitalist’s wet dream, sucking in trillions (with a ‘t’) of dollars. All that is required is perpetual war, which appears not to be a problem. Social fabric and infrastructure be damned. Let them “pursue happiness” through the ruins of cities like Detroit and Buffalo.

    Canada has devolved into a one trick pony resource center. Its manufacturing sector hollowed out and shipped overseas on the cheap. A homegrown military industrial complex would be another source of bucks, lots of bucks, for the Friends of Harper. This type of industry has two “advantages” in particular. Being part of National Security(TM) it is sacrosanct when it comes to trade deals and the restrictions pertaining thereto. It is a wonderful source of political pork (which we are told transforms itself into votes). In the U.S. It has even resulted in the manufacture of arms that the military does not need nor even WANT. Gone would be the days of mere gazebos and fake lakes. The opportunities to further control a population via a security establishment (have you seen the new CSIS HQ??) would also sit well with a control freak like Harper.

 

 

 

    Let’s look at some of the weapons systems that the Harper Government proposes to buy.

 

    Why would Canada require F-35s? Almost entirely in support of NATO war missions i.e. In support of the American Empire. Let’s not pretend that NATO is a “partnership”. Domestically, that is to say, in the actual defence of Canada they would not have much utility. Drones can fulfil just about any mission in the North that an F-35 could and at a fraction of the cost. Some say the F-35 is inappropriate for such a mission in the first place. One dimbulb in a blog somewhere suggested that they would be used in defence against the Russians. In that extremely unlikely event they should be good for most of a day, probably less.

    The lifetime of an F-35 is said to be 25 to 30 years. It is not a huge leap to imagine that drone technology will render them into very expensive clay pigeons inside, say, 10 years. Drones will be like very smart SAMs … that will not miss. Able to outmaneuver anything containing a meat puppet.

 

 

IN WHICH MY PARANOIA SETS IN

 

    The purchase of drones by DND and the RCMP is worrying because it has possible implications beyond defence and law enforcement. Even at the height of the Bush/Cheney years could anyone have imagined that today the President would take upon himself the power to kill Americans without charge or trial and perhaps even to do so on U.S. soil? Is it entirely ludicrous to imagine that something untoward could “happen here”? (I leave you with a mental image of Vic Toews).

  Even more disturbing, to me at least, is the purchase of tanks. In an age of drones and “smart” missiles buying tanks is the military equivalent of buying horses for your cavalry in order to fight the Wehrmacht. The life of a tank on a modern battlefield will be measured in hours, if not minutes. Why would Canada ever need tanks?

    One possibility presents itself. Tanks have another proven purpose. Look at Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Tiananmen Square in 1989. Look at the militarization of police forces in the U.S.

  

  Tanks are effective in the repression of civilian populations.

 

   Are we expecting trouble?

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Support Our Slaves

 

Anna Lappé: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

ribbon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slavery, once a “global” phenomenon was largely abolished many years ago. It was what fed the economies of the British Empire and the U.S.

 

Consumers of the day, both pro and anti slavery, bought their cotton goods with their eyes closed as to it’s provenance much as meat eaters (myself included) would rather not acknowledge the slaughterhouse.

 

Annnnd it’s back.

 

    It has morphed from “global” to “globalized”. No longer are slaves shipped at great cost in the holds of rat infested ships. Rather the corporate world uses them in situ. Perhaps there are those who would attempt to rationalize this by saying/thinking “They can’t be slaves, they’re paid”. This is mere sophistry. They, on the whole, get a less than living wage because, unable to unionize and kept in desperate straights, are a “dime a dozen”. More easily replaced and less valued than the slaves of the antebellum South.

 

    Witness the “happy” employees in Bangladesh made to work (26 cents/hr top wage) in a factory they knew was in danger of collapse because they were threatened with the loss of an entire month’s wages. Witness the “happy” employees of Foxconn (maker of Apple products) plunging to their deaths until a net was installed to impede them. These are not the actions of “employees”.

 

    And it’s the same in all of the “low wage” countries. Funny how there are so many who live in wealth within them.

 

    So, “Professor”, you say, “what is the solution”? Some might say the answer is adding tariffs, but this would only either lead to relocation (and job loss) or a wage cut (“tough shit”|) to cover the difference.

 

    If you were to ask about the “root cause” some would glibly ascribe it to greed. This is far to simplistic, although an element of it is certainly there. At the core of the corporate esthetic is the maximization of profit. This is greed of an entirely amoral kind.

 

    The only way to do away with modern day slavery is to remove the profitability of slavery. One way is the “race to the bottom”. That would be the corporate favourite, where western wages become “competitive” with slave states. Wages low enough to negate any hassle of outsourcing. This results in a general impoverishment of the middle and lower classes (already in progress).

 

    Ultimately it would be nice to give the slave population a voice in their employment, an emancipation as it were. Globalization of unions would be one solution, but with governments generally carrying the can for the corporate sector not a realistic option…..short of a world revolution that would make the Occupy movement just a sign on the bathroom door. Good luck with that.

 

    So the solution then is not “push” but “pull”. It lies, cher consumer-of-slave-goods, with me and thee.

 

   What is required is a means to put the fire to the feet of companies like Nike and Apple to a greater extent than has been done heretofore. No more bullshit inspections by the interests involved. What is needed is an international certification, maybe along the same lines as dolphin safe tuna and fare trade coffee, Both consumer “push” results. A refusal to purchase non-certified goods on the part of consumers (forget Government) would get the message through and make certification an added value that the corporate sector would seek to attain.

 

Would this be the brush to paint it all away? No. But it would be a beginning and the size of the brush will be determined by what certification will require.

 

    What I’m trying to convey here is that it does no good to assign human traits such as greed to a corporate entity, even if some of the humans involved within it are greedy. Better to think of it as an animal that behaves on instinct and which will, like Pavlov’s dogs, react to stimuli. Correction of corporate “behaviour” then, can, I believe, be attained through proper stimuli. This is what regulation (much hated by the right) is about for example.

 

 

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Justin Trudeau : Cynical Calculation?

As evidenced by his stands on tarsands oil and (of all things) guns, Justin Trudeau is somewhat right of center to begin with. But much more revealing is the Liberal vote in favour of FIPA and support for the terrorism bill “The Liberals support the bill and proposed no amendments.”

It is a truism that conservatives are Canadians and as such there must be many disaffected ones when it comes to identification with the CPC. The fact that they follow the “brand” is why the PC party was hijacked by Reform/Alliance in the first place. But, there must be a limit to just how much of Harper’s radical agenda they can swallow. That humming sound you hear in the background is Dalton Camp spinning in his grave.

Trudeau is, I believe, presenting himself as a Tory alternative. It may be where his heart is or it may be a cynical calculation in order to achieve power (or both). He knows he has a base on the “left” which is in love with him, form over content, much as happened with Obama (to their everlasting regret). He does have to be careful though, unlike Obama, he does not have the convenience of being the “lesser evil” as the NDP sits to his left as an alternative.

Even the NDP has ceded some ground by eliminating the word “socialism” from the party constitution.. I believe this will hurt then in socialist Quebec, their power base.

I believe liberal progressives and, yes even tories would do well to remove the scales from their eyes and watch Trudeau the man, not Trudeau the myth.

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The Foreign Temporary Worker

   In the brouhaha following revelations of Canadian workers being replaced by “Foreign Temporary Workers” (FTW) it must be remembered, above all, that the corporate sector is neither “good” nor “bad” just amoral. A bullet shot from a gun does what is programmed to do. A corporation also does what it is programmed to do i.e. Make as much money as possible for its investors.

   The gun and the corporation have no “feelings” and any ethics incorporated therein are externally mandated through laws, regulations and just maybe some small spark of humanity in the actual flesh and blood individuals involved.

   The FTW program was put in place to allow employers to fill positions for which they could not find qualified Canadian citizens. One conservative on TV commented that there were a “vast number” of jobs Canadians wouldn’t do. I doubt very much that this number is “vast”. In fact, in this economy there is not a “vast number” of jobs period. It may well be true in the case of seasonal farm “stoop” labour.

   In the RBC case, for example, 45 Canadian employees were replaced by foreign workers under the auspices of the program. It would be hard to argue that qualified Canadians could not be found. In fact, they had to train their replacements. I would wager that any bank job openly advertised would have a line of Canadian applicants going around the block. RBC merely took advantage of a program that cut their labour costs, potentially, by 15%.

   According to a spokesman for the Minister of Human Resources (Diane Finley) :

“It is a requirement of the program that employers will only be able to pay temporary foreign workers 15% less than the average prevailing wage if there are Canadians being paid 15% less. Therefore, no Canadians will be undercut.”

   The logic in this statement is mind boggling. First, why the number 15% ? Where and how was that set? By the industry? Otherwise why not 10% or 50% …. or a negotiated %?

If you replace Canadian workers then are they making 15% less than the average or does at least one have to stay on and take a 15% cut? They will not be “undercut”, they will have to race to the bottom or they will be replaced. i.e. Unless the Canadian worker is willing to work for “15% less than the average prevailing wage”. So in a leap of logic wage rates are a ”qualification” for the job?? Wonderful.

QUESTION : If finding a Canadian for a position makes it a scarce resource then why not apply the law of supply and demand and charge a premium for FTWs? Why are they cheap labour?

   The corporation represents its investors. Government is supposed to represent its citizens.

                                           WHICH ONE IS DOING A BETTER JOB?

 

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The Frazer Institute – On The Job

In a recent “study” published by the champion of corporate Canada, the Fraser Institute, it was declared that public sector workers made, on average, 12% more than private sector workers. As the National Post stenographer mentions “Although the conservative think-tank said Statistics Canada did not record data in enough detail to make a more rigorous comparison…” (thanks go out to the Harper Government).

 

I am not writing to dispute the numbers as they have been ably debunked elsewhere. I am writing to point out that the Fraser Institute is merely doing what it is paid for and do it quite successfully.

 

 

As evidence, here are a few comments that have been posted

 

 

“Get rid of the unions. Simple as that. The cream then has incentive to rise to the top, while the bottom feeders can finally be shown the door.”

 

 

“Public sector workers should be making at least 12% LESS than the private sector – the trade-off for job security and a pension should be lower wages, like it used to be. Instead we have a class of overpaid, under-worked privileged untouchables dictating to us.”

 

 

“Is this news to anyone?
The whole point of ‘public servants’ Unions is to set themselves up as ‘Masters’ to be served be the “Lower Classes” (Taxpayers with real jobs.)

 

The pigs in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm represented so-called Public Servants.
…there’s really only one way to stop extortion…”

 

 

The union thugs that got us the 40 hour work week, sick leave, parental leave, worker safety etc are the enemy. Why not wage a war on motherhood?

Anyone making more than me is suspect.

The Fraser has succeeded in getting the proles to begin chopping each other off at the knees. They race happily and self righteously towards the bottom.

Your average Premier, city Mayor, even the Prime Minister makes less than many a corporate CEO. And this would not be measured in mere double digits. That’s okay. The people at the Fraser Institute make something between 80% to 100% more than your average civil servant but that’s okay. The Fraser insists it needs higher salaries to attract talent. The public service, apparently does not require talent. Reading comments the “public” would agree (way to go Fraser!)

 

 

Assume for a moment that the public sector actually makes, on average, 12% more than the private sector? Swallow the codswollop for a second here. Why is this an indictment of the public sector. Why is this not an indictment of the private sector. What would happen if WalMart actually paid a living wage and benefits. Walmart, no question could afford it and the Walton Family would still be the richest family in the entire world. … The ENTIRE world. Wonder what that is as a percentage compared to the average public sector wage.

 

 

Why don’t these union bashing, public sector hating SHEEP question corporate perfidy? They are being made to compete with slave labour in China, with low wage “Temporary Foreign Workers” in Canada (kudos again Harper Government!) and they are ready to do the corporate sector the

favour of further downward pressure on wages by hacking away at the Public Service and unions in particular.

 

 

It reminds one of the fact that many in the U.S. still believe in WMDs or that Sadam had something to do with 9/11 all evidence to the contrary.

 

 

The Fraser Institute is doing one bang up job for its clients.

 

 

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