3 Sep 2012

Bad news for the NDP and the rest of us,
as Harper's Conservatives pull even

It’s hard to believe, but -- despite all the crimes, insults to Canadians and general incompetence -- the Harper government has pulled even with the NDP in major opinion polls.

The highly regarded Internet site, Threehundredeight.com, calculated all polls as of August 30 and showed the Conservatives at 33.9, the NDP at 33.6, and the Liberals at 21.7.

Based on these percentages, if an election were held today, Harper would finish in first by a comfortable margin.

A blend of polls conducted by Forum Research and Abacus Data between July 25 and Aug 12 on an aggregate sample of about 3700 respondents projects Conservative Party strength at around 133 seats, 120 seats for the New Democratic Party, 46 for the Liberal Party, 8 for the Bloc Québécois and 1 for the Green Party.

27 Jun 2012

Vancouver news site praising CBOBC
quickly becoming highly respected

“The Campaign to build One Big Campaign” (CBOBC) has become a near-unavoidable presence for progressive Canadians on the Internet,” says the Vancouver Observer. As one of the founders of CBOBC, I’m sure everyone in our group is pleased to receive praise from what I can easily say has become one of the country’s best news and analysis sites.

The Vancouver Observer
“With its rapid-fire news updates, biting political cartoons and aggressive push for campaigns such as BlackOutSpeakOut, the group is pushing progressive politics in ways that old-fashioned letter-writing never could" writes Observer Managing Editor Jenny Uechi in an article posted on the Observer site on June 22nd  

20 Jun 2012

CBOBC has impressive Facebook launch
now expanding its capacity in other areas

With every passing week of Stephen Harper’s destruction of the fabric of our country, more and more Canadians are following the development of the ‘Campaign to Build One Big Campaign’ (CBOBC), hoping that huge campaigns can be developed to take the wind out of the sails of the Conservatives and their corporate allies.

So it’s no surprise that CBOBC has made an impressive debut on Facebook, establishing a potential reach of more than 390,000 people and organizations after only six weeks of operation.

CBOBC has been created by a small group of independent, non-partisan Canadians to work with progressive networks and movements and help with their campaigning to stop the advances of the Harper government and irresponsible corporations.

Even old lefties like me are being pulled out of retirement to stand up for what is right.

6 Jun 2012

Big campaigns must come following
great success of BlackOutSpeakOut

The success of the BlackOutSpeakOut campaign in forcing the Harper Conservatives to send a defensive team of 10 Cabinet Ministers across the country is a clear signal that much larger protest campaigns can be even more successful in defending the rights of Canadians.

The fact that more than 500 groups joined the protest and that individuals sent 32,000 emails to MPs is encouraging news for the Campaign to Build One Big Campaign (CBOBC). CBOBC was created in April to promote exactly this kind of campaign. Click here to access our Facebook page. 

Groups representing hundreds-of-thousands of people blacked out their websites and social media pages and replaced them with  BlackOutSpeakOut messages, along with a link to the website of the organizing group. Organizations are protesting the near-certain passing of Bill C-38, which will lead to environmental destruction and the suppression of free expression.

27 May 2012

Join the Campaign to build
'One Big Campaign'

Dear Friends,

I won’t be writing a blog very often for a while. I have decided instead to focus my attention on encouraging hundreds of progressive groups and the top labour bodies to come together and form one giant, co-operative network to campaign and fight back against the Harper regime and its right-wing allies.

Thanks for the interest you have shown in my blog, and I look forward to resuming it on a regular basis at some point in the, hopefully, not too distant future.

Please visit the Campaign’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CampaignToBuildOneBigCampaign

Show your support for the project by clicking 'Like' under the big picture of the On to Ottawa Trek. This will also allow you to follow our progress. There are plans to launch  a website by September.

Kindest regards,

The post Campaign launched urging activist groups to build 'One Big Campaign' explains the formation of the campaign while the posts How massive 'One Big Campaign' could defeat Harper Conservatives and Social activist groups can form powerful 'One Big Campaign' to take on Harper act as supporting documents. 

7 May 2012

Highly-regarded anti-nuke organization becomes first Harper charity victim

Physicians for Global Survival (PGS), a highly regarded Canadian NGO that has been campaigning to abolish nuclear weapons for 32 years, is losing its charitable tax status.

“We promote nuclear disarmament,” said staff member Andrea Levy, “but we’ve been told we’re too political. We do too much advocacy.”

However, the content of the PGS website and its newsletter Turning Point do not present the picture of an organization that is moderately political, let alone radical.

The Harper government attacked Canada’s highly-regarded charitable sector in its recent budget, warning that charities that surpass the rule of devoting more than 10 per cent of their total resources to political work will lose their charitable status.

The aggressive comments by various Conservative cabinet ministers were clearly aimed at a handful of environmental organizations that Harper feels may interfere with the government’s vision of energy development.

But Levy said that the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has been monitoring PGS for some time, and that it became apparent last December that the organization was going to lose its tax status.

This is believed to be the first case of a highly reputable charitable organization losing its status since Greenpeace was banned in 1999.

PGS’s mission statement says: “Because of our concern for global health, we are committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons, the prevention of war, the promotion of nonviolent means of conflict resolution and social justice in a sustainable world.”

The most recent issue of Turning Point contains only one very low key item that could be construed as being mildly political. It calls on Canadians to sign a petition to go to the government asking them to organize and host a conference on nuclear disarmament in Canada.

Most of the articles that appear on the cover page of the website are reprinted articles from Canadian and international newspapers.

Over the years, Canada’s most highly regarded physicians have held positions on PGS’s Executive Committee and Board. The current President is Dr. Richard Denton of Kirkland Lake, and the Past-President Dr. Michael Dworkind of Montreal.

PGS is a member of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which was established in 1980. The network issues a report last month that said “more than a billion people around the world would face starvation following a limited regional nuclear weapons exchange (such as a clash between India and Pakistan) that would cause major worldwide climate disruption driving down food production in China, the US and other nations.”

Now that PGS is losing its charitable status, it hopes that people are willing to give the organization a contribution without receiving a tax break. The public can contact PGS at pgsadmin@web.ca to learn more or to make a donation.

Interestingly, the removal of PGS’s charitable tax status comes at a time when the Harper government is being criticized as being a laggard on the issue of nuclear disarmament.

“Canada is uniquely positioned to assume such a leadership role,” Plowshares said in a report last fall.   “Besides enjoying well-earned international credibility as an honest broker, the country is a member of NATO, an active player in the global nuclear energy industry, a state party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and a member of the G8 and G20. Yet the Harper government has failed to make nuclear disarmament a top foreign policy priority.”

Canada is one of the countries that have not so far supported UN resolutions calling for formal negotiations toward a nuclear weapons convention to begin in 2014. However, more than three-quarters of UN member countries have supported the resolution.

Critics say that Canada, in addition to supporting the UN resolution, should offer to host in 2012 a preparatory committee meeting of states and civil society representatives to begin planning for that negotiation process.

This kind of underhanded and highly political tactic by the Harper government should encourage all progressive and political organizations with charitable status to come together to fight this kind of action from happening to more organizations and, if groups lose their status, to assist them while they become financially stable without the benefit of having special status. There is strength in numbers.

Groups concerned about losing the tax advantage should learn the details about what the government can, and cannot, do, and not panic. Charities have a right to allocate 10 per cent of their resources to political activities, and they should exercise that right.

Visit the ‘Campaign to build One Big Campaign’ on Facebook to follow developments aimed at strengthening Canada’s progressive community. 
If you haven't already, please subscribe to my blog.

1 May 2012

Charities should not fear Harper bluster;
have a right to use 10% for political work

The Harper government seems to have scared the bejeezes out of many charitable organizations about how they can spend their money.

But much of it was bluster, and when you check the actual changes, very little is different and registered charities can still campaign and lobby on behalf of the issues they care about.

The Conservatives used the recent budget to intimidate and threaten charitable organizations, mainly those working in the environmental sector, to stay strictly within the regulation that says they can devote  a mere 10 per cent of their total resources on political campaigning.

The government’s decision to allocate $8-million to make sure that charities do not exceed their 10 per cent limit is, in reality, just an attempt to intimidate a handful of environmental groups. This becomes obviously clear from the results of a Canadian Press study of the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) charities database. It found that only 450 of the 85,000 charities registered in Canada reported spending money on political activities.

When you do the math, it amounts to less than one per cent of all charities reported any political activity, let alone get close to the 10 per cent limit. It is possible, but unlikely, that the actual number of groups allocating resources to political activities could be higher, since charities self-report to the CRA.

Limits do not apply to non-profit groups
The 10 per cent rule allies only to charitable organizations that have the ability to issue tax receipts. Non-profit groups and citizens’ organizations of all stripes are permitted to criticize the government as much as they wish.

The Collective Publishing Company PC Magazine provides a good description of the current situation:

“Charities can dedicate 10 percent of their total resources —including a volunteer’s time—to supporting or opposing a government policy.  It cannot, however, directly support a party or politician.  Charities can typically advocate for more funding on a particular health issue or changes to crime legislation that benefits a victim of a crime, and they can lobby and present at public hearings on environmental issues or oppose the rights of women’s reproductive choices, all the while only using 10 percent of their total resources for these purposes. . . . .

“If a charitable organization exceeds the 10 per cent rule, then it can be sanctioned by having its tax receipting privilege suspended for one year.  This suspension rule will also apply to those organizations that inaccurately report their advocacy activities.”  No legitimate Canadian charity has ever lost its tax status for exceeding the 10 per cent rule.
(I have since learned that Revenue Canada waged a long war with Greenpeace Canada over the group's activities, starting in 1989 and ending in 1999, stripping the organization of its tax status. NF)

When you sort through the rhetoric, all of the Conservative b.s. is obviously aimed at trying to intimidate a handful of environmental groups that Harper believes might threaten the development of tar sands and other energy projects in the West.

Charities seem afraid to engage the government
Unfortunately, many Canadian charities – perhaps because of the mere existence of the 10 per cent rule – seem to be afraid to even explore the possibility of engaging in political activities. Other charities do not see political campaigning as being an important part of their organizational program.

But these attitudes need to change.

Input at the political level by all kinds of organizations plays a huge role in determining government policies and activities. Otherwise, corporations would not employ at least 3,700 lobbyists in Ottawa – about 10 for every Member of Parliament.

Even so, campaigning to pressure the federal government does not work for all organizations in all of their program areas.

Charities should sit down and review their programs to assess whether political campaigning would advance their goals in any areas. Then staff members can discuss the various ways they could approach the government – perhaps with advice from a person who has campaigning experience.

To make sure that any strategy a group develops is acceptable, they can check out an excellent website that specializes in charity law. There is a huge amount of information available on the website Canadian Charity Law, a project of the law firm Blumberg Segal LLP (Blumbergs), which is based in Toronto.

Further, to be totally safe, organizations should consult with a lawyer who is a charities expert. There are several in the country.

In the end, charities would not be wise to push the envelope and attempt to devote the full 10 per cent of the limit to political work. Instead, perhaps seven percent would be safer.

Many years ago Canadian Parliamentarians gave charities the right to, within reason, express their political views. Charities must not give up this long-held right.
If you haven't already, please subscribe.

18 Apr 2012

Jim Doak can't see the ground
from his lofty tower on Bay Street

The way Toronto financial analyst Jim Doak sees it, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath and groups such as the Campaign to build ‘One Big Campaign’ (CBOBC) are, well, pretty much evil!

Howarth outraged Doak and his privileged, elite friends on Bay Street last week by proposing a two percentage point increase in provincial income tax for people earning more than $500,000, as a way to help close Ontario’s budget deficit.

Income disparity is also one of the major issues that CBOBC believes should be tackled by the proposed huge campaigning network that would include hundreds of activist groups and progressive unions.

“It’s nasty,” Doak said during a debate on CTV. “It’s ethnic cleansing. She’s defining a group not by culture or language, but my how much money they make, and she wants to get rid of them.”

Jim Doak,
President and Managing Director
Megantic Asset Management
Doak was appearing in a debate against Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist for the Centre for Canadian Policy Alternatives. Yalnizyan later tweeted: “As an Armenian it was a stunning comment to hear as his opening defence, and incredibly challenging to avoid commenting on.”

Doak claimed that the two per cent tax increase will drive the super-rich out of Ontario and the financial community will have to follow – the kind of fear mongering that the rich always offer up when they are faced with the prospect of paying a little more.

12 Apr 2012

Campaign launched urging activist
groups to build 'One Big Campaign'

A new campaign urging Canadian social activist groups to work together under one massive umbrella to take on the Harper regime and his right-wing supporters is being born!

The Campaign to build ‘One Big Campaign’ (CBOBC) is being launched on Facebook this week.

The goal of this campaign is to pressure Canada’s more than 15,000 progressive groups, union organizations representing more than 4.5 million members, and grassroots groups such as the Occupy Movement to build a giant, cooperative campaign network.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, social activist groups are not showing the initiative to come together themselves to form one, big powerful force.

As a first step, individual Canadians are being asked to come forward and provide ideas about how these groups and unions can be encouraged to get together and discuss the idea of forming what we are calling the ‘One Big Campaign’, a non-binding network.

'One Big Campaign' would not be a new organization, but a co-operative venture that would bring together the knowledge and campaigning resources of hundreds of organizations for a small number of huge, vital campaigns each year.

The new co-operative campaign would be far more successful against Harper compared to the current practice of individual groups or small networks struggling to hold back the 'Harper Tide'.

Some of CBOBC’s volunteers were also active with the Catch 22 Harper Conservatives during the 2011 election campaign. While we have a core group of activists, more volunteers are needed to spread the word about the need for 'One Big Campaign'!

Harper is running amok, cutting dozens of vital programs ranging from health programs to First Nations support to poverty-reduction efforts that had been established by Canadians for more than 50 years ago.

As volunteers of the CBOBC, we strongly believe:
  • We need to convince hundreds of public interest groups that they must come together and work together in the lead up to the 2015 election.
  • Organization leaders must look beyond the goals and objectives of their own groups and see the big picture.
  • Progressive groups and labour must acknowledge their common interests, break out of their isolation, and begin working together in a meaningful way for the first time ever.
  • Labour organizations need to leave their old rivalries at the door and come into a new, cooperative movement that would have significant benefits for working people. 
If a majority of the country’s progressive and labour groups came together, the number of people under one big umbrella could total close to 6-million Canadians – more than the number of votes Harper received in the 2011 election.

The creation of ‘One Big Campaign’ would lift the spirits of millions of Canadians who have all but lost hope in the disastrous Harper era. Instead of complaining about what Harper is doing, people and all kinds of organizations would have something positive to work for.

Join the CBOBC Facebook page and give us your thoughts and comments. Tell your friends – ask them to make a contribution. Volunteer to help spread the word.

Our country as we know it is in danger of slipping out from underneath us – let’s organize to take it back.

Two articles making the case for the creation of 'One Big Campaign' have been updated -

How massive 'One Big Campaign' could defeat Harper Conservatives -  looks at how the activist community could go about developing a co-operative network, discusses some of the weaknesses of the community, and explains that groups taking part in a big campaign should not be afraid of retribution from the Conservatives if they follow the law.

Social activist groups can form powerful 'One Big Campaign' to take on Harper  - describes how a typical campaign – this one concerning income disparity – could be carried out taking advantage of the many strengths of both progressive and labour groups.

11 Apr 2012

Social activist groups can form powerful
'One Big Campaign' to take on Harper

Picture this  . . . .  The directors of 25 or 30 of Canada’s leading social activist organizations, unions and grassroots groups are hived away in a secluded location for a long weekend. At the conclusion of three exhausting days of discussion and argument, they announce they have created the framework for a new and powerful public interest co-operative movement.

They explain that they expect the co-operative venture – let’s call it One Big Campaign (OBC) for the time being – will expand to include thousands of organizations that will work together to challenge the destruction being carried out by the Harper regime and its right-wing allies.

The movement would be a non-binding, co-operative process, not a new formal organization. Partner groups would be able to opt in or out of any number of campaigns. When campaigns were conducted the resources of partner groups would be used.

There is no getting around the fact that Canada’s progressive organizations, whether campaigning individually or in small groups, are having a very difficult time fighting back against the Harper regime and its right-wing supporters. The Conservative’s right-wing allies in business and finance are very powerful. They control all the key levers of power – access to billions of dollars to promote their beliefs, control over the federal government, and ownership of most of the mainstream media.

10 Apr 2012

How massive 'One Big Campaign'
could defeat Harper Conservatives

A massive, well-thought-out campaign involving thousands of social activist groups, labour, and grassroots organizations would have an excellent chance of handing the Harper regime a significant defeat on a hugely important issue: income disparity.

The public outrage over income disparity, brought to light by the Occupy Movement last year with its ‘99 vs 1 per cent’ slogan, is a good indication that Canadians would support a huge campaign to put the majority Conservatives in their place.

Harper’s failed “trickle down” policy has made Canada’s rich even richer, while many millions of other Canadians have lost ground:

  • More Canadians than ever before are shamed into going to food banks to feed their families; 
  • While the official unemployment rate is 7.2 per cent, the real rate is closer to 14 per cent;
  • The number of working poor has increased to the highest level ever in many parts of the country because many new work opportunities are McJobs; and
  • Ordinary Canadians have seen their real wealth stagnate over the past years. In the period between 1980 and 2005 the median earnings for workers in Canada rose by just $53.00 annually. 

In March, 2012, even the Bank of Canada urged governments to enact policies to rein in the excesses of free markets and reduce income disparities, arguing this would strengthen the economy. But Harper does not appear to be budging.

Groups should mount a huge campaign 
A number of groups, such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives  (CCPA) and the National Union of Public and General Employees  (NUPGE) and its branches, have income disparity on their agenda. However, no substantial campaigning appears to be planned. Moreover, the NDP will not have its chance to win an election for another three years.

Here is what could be carried out in an all-out campaign:

THE ISSUE: In organized campaigning, leading groups need to identify the weakness of the targeted organization(s). Given the Conservatives’ vulnerability around “99 vs 1 per cent” issues, income disparity seems to be a good choice for a first campaign.

THE TARGETS: The federal government as well as the symbol of ill-gotten wealth: the Canadian bank employing the executive who had the highest income in the sector in 2011. The targeted bank would be the Toronto-Dominion Bank, which posted a record-high profit in 2011. Its president, Ed Clark, who demonstrates his social conscience in his personal life, also was the highest paid bank executive, earning $11.28-million during the year.

STRATEGY: Choosing the right strategy and tactics is hugely important. Member groups with the best track record of developing effective campaigns would be best suited to identify the proper tactics to be used. An interesting mix might bring together Greenpeace, Dogwood Initiative, and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), and the Council of Canadians.

THEME: Canadians want the Harper government to end its immoral theft of billions of dollars from ordinary Canadians, which ends up in the pockets of the wealthy.

RESEARCH: Research groups such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Canadians for Tax Fairness and similar groups could produce reports documenting the implications of wage disparity and recommending what changes could be made to create greater fairness in the tax system.

ACTIVITIES: To be successful against a huge bank and the Conservative government a giant cooperative movement would need to deploy a wide variety of activities – some of them more aggressive than those normally used by the Canadian progressive movement.

When the campaign is officially launched, ideally six or eight branches of the Toronto-Dominion would be targeted for a series of actions. As a first step, Canadians would be asked to close their TD accounts at those particular branches and move their monies and business to credit unions or other banking institutions.

A huge communications campaign, perhaps spun out by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Friends of the Earth Canada  (FoE) and others, would make use of the mailing lists of thousands of progressive groups and unions to reach out to millions of Canadians. Snappy, well-written, reports on why and how the campaign would be conducted would be circulated.

If the majority of Canada’s more than 15,000 progressive groups and unions with more than 4-million members signed on for the action, it would be possible that the number of people supporting the campaign would exceed the 5,832,401 votes received by the Conservatives in the 2011 election. This would be an amazing accomplishment, but it is possible.

A Social Media program aimed at TD-Bank and the government would be put in place. Leadnow has strong skills in this area, and there are others it could work with. A huge Facebook effort could be organized, with the strong participation of Fire the Liars and other groups. Mailing lists and other mechanisms would be used to ask Internet users to both promote the campaign and send protest emails to the TD Bank and the Conservatives on specific dates.

Moreover, the new cooperative movement would want to take advantage of its size and newly-won power. Leaders would pressure mainstream media to provide fair and accurate coverage of the campaign. Dozens of op-ed pieces, media interviews, and letters to the editor would be published during the campaign.

Partner groups, particularly unions, would be asked to contribute to a fund of at least $500,000 that would be used to buy strategically-placed ads.

From time to time, picket lines, perhaps organized by unions such as the United Steelworkers and the huge United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCWC) would be set up on public property in front of the six or eight TD branches. People would be asked to move their business elsewhere. At the same time, pickets would talk with bank employees and provide them with literature explaining why the action is taking place. A variety of prominent people would be asked to be pickets.

The Occupy Movement could play a “front line” role by carrying out disruptive protests that would involve “hit-and-run” occupations at the target branches, closing them down for an hour or two at a time.

Acting within legal boundaries, rotating teams of Internet users could occasionally flood TD Bank and government websites and email addresses with messages requesting that the bank urge the government to implement progressive tax policies.

At some point, campaign organizers could assess whether it would be possible to stage a huge rally in support of fair income distribution on Parliament Hill. A rally of 10,000 or even 20,000 people would not create enough impact. But if just one rally drawing perhaps 100,000 people were held, that would definitely send the right message. Shutting down Harper’s phoney majority government in the House for a couple of hours would be a nice bonus!

Two other possibilities:

  • The cooperative movement could ask a comedy troupe to come up with some comedy routines that would mock the way the Conservatives and the rich collaborate to keep all the resources for themselves. And Operation Maple (Need new link) could create satirical videos.
  • The movement could ask legal experts to see if they feel there are any possibilities of taking legal action concerning any aspect of income disparity. 

DURATION: A series of actions scheduled over at least 12 months.

VARYING DEGREES OF SUCCESS: If supported by a wide range of organizations, such a campaign could be successful in a number of ways. It could:

  • force the Harper government to use the tax system to decrease income disparity in the country;
  • cost the Toronto Dominion Bank hundreds of account holders and possibly millions of dollars in deposits, encouraging the bank to be more socially responsible in the future;
  • politicize and educate hundreds-of-thousands of Canadians about the need for them to actively support progressive change and to vote for change in the 2015 election, and
  • demonstrate to the progressive community, unions and grassroots organizations themselves that, if they have the courage to act as a unified force, they can be highly influential in bringing positive change to the country. 

Community leaders from the progressive, labour and grassroots sectors need to have the courage to explore a concept that could have significant rewards for the country.
If you haven't already, please subscribe. Thanks

1 Mar 2012

The big robo-calling question:
will anyone go to jail?

Two important questions arise concerning the robo-calling scandal:

Good investigative journalism could break this affair wide open, but will the owners of the Harper-friendly corporate media allow their journalists to go beyond normal reporting and do the hard work necessary to get to the very bottom of this dark story?

And, if a “smoking gun” can be traced to the Conservative camp, will the normally reluctant, resource-strapped Elections Canada show the guts and take strong action against the dangerously vindictive Stephen Harper and his gang and push for someone to be jailed?

The media very well could provide a great public service if it were to finally pin something extremely significant on the slippery Harper government. Criminal convictions in what amounts to vote fixing – reminding me of the days when political parties in Nova Scotia provided a $2 bottle of rum for a vote – could help shut down Harper’s destructive agenda, as well as ruin his attempt for another victory in 2015.

A few years ago The Globe and Mail would have led the way investigating this story. But since The Globe went upscale in 2009 to cater to a wealthier demographic under new owner David Thomson and Editor-in-Chief John Stackhouse, investigative journalism has pretty well disappeared at the paper.

Amazingly, The Globe believes what Stephen Harper says. The paper’s March 1 2012 headline blared: “Tories played no tricks: Harper.” Perhaps the paper got a late night call from a Deep Throat insider assuring them that everything is okay.

26 Feb 2012

Multi-talented Nova Scotia
writer wins 'neo-liberal' contest!

And the winner of my media challenge contest is… Joan Baxter, a journalist, an award-winning author and anthropologist who lived and worked in Africa for 21 years.

I had felt for some time that journalists in the mainstream corporate media were being intimidated by corporate owners and the Harper government from writing about the government’s destructive ideology – neo-liberalism.

In my January 11, 2012 blog, I offered a dinner for two valued at $150 to any journalist who would write in a mainstream Canadian newspaper about Harper’s neo-liberalism policies.

“Canada under Conservatives not what it used to be,” was the title of Baxter’s February 22 2012 article in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, a paper not normally know for aggressive or in-depth journalism.   Marke Slipp of Wolfville, N.S. won $50 for spotting the Baxter article.

14 Feb 2012

NDP leadership candidates
ducking biggest issue of our time

Heading into the final weeks of the NDP leadership race, the candidates still have not debated the most important challenge facing society -- the destructive force of modern-day capitalism.

How can a political party that calls itself “social democratic”, or even “progressive”, have a leadership campaign go on for several weeks without candidates – as far as I can determine – discussing the damaging force that capitalism has become?

At Davos last month, heads of think tanks and corporations called for the revamping of capitalism because of the destruction the system has wrought.

Even the normally mild-mannered monthly Toronto Life had freelance journalist Jason McBride do a hatched job on dysfunctional capitalism in its March issue in an article entitled Something Rotten on Bay Street.

8 Feb 2012

Is Stephen Harper displaying
fascist-like tendencies?

The stepped-up authoritarian, anti-democratic manner in which Stephen Harper has conducted himself since obtaining his Parliamentary majority nine months ago raises serious concerns about how far right he is planning to push the country in his effort to forever change the face of Canada.

Harper hates many things about Canada – most of all the moderate liberalism that a majority of people have preferred over the years. He has adopted a ‘take-no-prisoners’ attitude, rushing ahead with destructive plans never before discussed in public, as well as doubling cuts to government compared to what he said before the election.

Elected with the support of only 25 per cent of eligible voters, Harper nevertheless is running roughshod over the wishes and interests of the majority 75 per cent of Canadians.

So, just how extreme is Harper’s behaviour?

A few years ago, a former U.S. business executive, Laurence W. Britt, came up with a 14-point description of fascism.
In view of Harper`s behaviour of late, I think it’s time to look at Britt’s document again.

1 Feb 2012

NDPers dreamin' of victory,
'trash' power sharing with Libs

The issue of having the New Democratic Party form an alliance with other parties – if such a move would keep the Conservatives out of power in 2015 – is vitally important for Canadians who fear the possibility of another four years of disastrous cutting and slashing.

But some of the NDP candidates for the party leadership do not seem concerned.

From what has been said during debates and party chit-chat, it is amazing how many New Democrats are convinced that the party definitely will win the 2015 election. 

Therefore, most say there is no reason for leadership candidates to discuss any sort of alliance with the Liberals and Greens to send Harper packing for good.

Even though the facts indicate that an NDP win in 2015 is a long shot, three leadership hopefuls taking part in a debate in Halifax on Sunday spoke out in favour of the status quo. 

25 Jan 2012

Calgary columnist challenged
to write about Harper neoliberalism

On January 11, 2012, I offered any mainstream journalist at any large Canadian daily a free-dinner-for-two (value$150) if he/she could convince their editors to let them write an article or column describing the neoliberal policies of the Harper government. I have had no takers.

But this week, I did hear from a journalist by the name of Ian Robinson. He has some interesting opinions. He believes that “politicians fall somewhere below the humble, yet useful dung beetle and above penicillin-resistant staphylococcus.”

And: “The heart of the Occupy movement is a festering, black mass of envy and hatred for success.”

Lastly, "climate change is caused by the sun". 
Robinson is a “shoot now, ask NO questions” columnist and copy editor with The Calgary Sun. 
In a comment on my blog, he took exception to my earlier article, in which I said that there is a silent conspiracy amongst media corporations to censor any discussion of the Conservative government’s neoliberal ideology. 
I believe that the wide-open, free-for-all neoliberal environment that exists for the business community and that is ignored by the mainstream media, was responsible for the 2008 economic crash and is behind the current mess in Europe.

And Robinson’s opinion of me? That my views “strike him as less political position and more a symptom of some sort of mental disorder.”

18 Jan 2012

Unless people take action,
Harper's scheme will mean
'Goin' Down the Road' for Maritimers

By dramatically changing the health care funding formula, is Prime Minister Stephen Harper showing little concern for the future of the Maritime provinces? 

The Health Accord “deal” that Harper practically threw in the face of the provinces and territories this week, not only cuts health funding for all the provinces starting in four years, but threatens to further widen the growing standard-of-living chasm between  the “have” and “have not” provinces.

As their meeting ended in Victoria on Tuesday, the premiers vowed they will pressure the Conservative government to change the least equitable aspects of the so-called take-it-or-leave-it “agreement”.  But what if the sometimes stubborn Harper government refuses to give much ground?

All citizens of the Maritimes – not just the governments – would have good reason to vehemently protest the new agreement because the provinces that would likely lose the most in the long term are Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.  

Increase in cost of living
If the 2016-17 part of the agreement goes into effect, the cost of living will increase in the Maritimes, and this will be another blow to the region’s problem of too many people leaving to live elsewhere in the country. 

11 Jan 2012

'Dinner for two' for first journalist who
dares to explain Conservative ideology

Journalists in the mainstream Canadian media are being intimidated from fully describing the soulless ideology practised by the Harper Conservative government – at least this has been my impression for some time now. 

Wanting to find out what journalists are really writing about the Tories and neoliberalism, I spent some time this week searching the Internet for any 2011 articles that would link the two.

I felt that, if the mainstream media is involved in an unspoken conspiracy of silence to hide the evil economic philosophy of the Harper government, the public needs to know. 

4 Jan 2012

Should we 'take down' the banks
or try to save the best of capitalism?

It is November 1968, and a writer for Modern Mechanix peers 40 years into the future:
“People have more time for leisure activities in the year 2008. The average work day is about four hours . . . . Homes are practically self-maintaining. Robots are available to do housework and other simple chores . . . . You slide into your sleek, two-passenger air-cushion car, press a sequence of buttons and the national traffic computer notes your destination. Ninety minutes later, you slide beneath the dome of your destination city. . . . A typical vacation in 2008 is to spend a week at an undersea resort, where your hotel room window looks out on a tropical underwater reef.”

So what the hell went wrong?