Saturday 26 May 2012


Duncan Cameron
May 22, 2012

Attending last week's G8 summit hosted by American President Barrack Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper characterized the Canadian economy this way:
"Thanks to strong fundamentals, Canada's economy is performing exceptionally well by international standards."
The statement is simply not true. Economic fundamentals in Canada reveal growing inequalities, stagnant incomes, high unemployment, and for 2011, a 2.2 per cent economic growth rate (after inflation) that according to an agency popular in Canadian Conservative Party circles ~ the CIA -~ puts Canada 149th out of 215 countries in the world.

Among the G8 countries, this growth rate does place Canada ahead of France (164th), the European Union (167th), the U.S. (171th), the U.K. (182th), Italy (193th) and Japan (203th), though behind Germany (133th) and Russia (91th). But the CIA World Tables list 75 countries with a real growth rate of five per cent or better, over twice the Canadian rate.

In reality, by any standards, the Canadian economy has not performed "exceptionally well" since the mid-1960s, about the time the PM went off to Grade 1 in Toronto's Leaside neighbourhood.

The decade of the 1970s featured economic stagnation and high inflation (thus characterized as stagflation), ushering in the unhappy Reagan revolution of the 1980s. The economic policy directions which captured the attention of University of Calgary student Harper were described by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston as "remaking of government's relationship with private interests ~ a vision of lower taxes, less regulation and maximum economic leeway for those at the top. In this view, the pursuit of wealth is the warp and weft of America; everything else will follow."

The re-making of America required the destruction of the U.S. labour movement's ability to protect jobs and incomes. Creating a new international division of labour by sending investment and manufacturing jobs off-shore was an important aspect of the assault on workers. As philosopher Robert Paul Wolf has observed:
"Because of the globalization of production, even in the service industries, there are now tens of millions of Americans who are, in effect, surplus population. They are not needed by capital, not even as a 'surplus population of the unemployed' holding down by their existence wages for those employed."
At the June 2010 Huntsville G8, and Toronto G20 summits, as host, Stephen Harper crowed success in establishing the need for deficit reduction by leading economies. Canada joined with the U.S. to defeat a bank tax proposed by the U.K. and France that would be very useful to have right now in staving off the looming defaults among Euro banks holding plunging sovereign bonds.

It is bad enough that the recent Canadian austerity budget (and the odious omnibus bill C-38) follows directly from the direction set at the 2010 summits, remembered here as the billion-dollar police riot in Toronto. It is even worse to think that the direction Stephen Harper was urging on the world economy was so wrong-headed. ...

But it IS all about the economy and the common good, isn't it, Stephen? Isn't it? Isn't it, Stephen? We could talk about the true significance of Quebec's Maple Spring. We could link to changes to Unemployment Insurance (the new term Employment Insurance is Orwellian), back-to-work legislation, the growth of the corporate prison labor complex, and so very much more this government is forcing through, thanks to its questionable majority. But here, for now, two environmental items.

Andrew Nikiforuk
May 23 2012

Over the Victoria Day weekend Canadians lost another vital national institution that quietly stood on guard for the nation's 4 million lakes.

Just as citizens flocked to their cottages and launched their boats, the government of Stephen Harper pulled the plug on Canada's greatest freshwater defender and scientific achievement: the Experimental Lakes Area.

And though its muzzled scientists haven't been able to talk about the program's impressive research in recent years without Ottawa's approval, this uniquely Canadian endeavor both changed and educated the world. It also drove global public policy on watershed protection.

In a move that stunned and appalled scientists around the world the Harper government laid off as many as 40 scientists associated with the legendary program working out the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Winnipeg's office.

According to Ottawa's tiresome newspeak, the program no longer "aligned with the department's mandate and is not responding to our research priorities."

The killing of the program is the latest in a series of coordinated attacks on environmental science and the gutting of most of the nation's environmental legislation. It not only trashes Canada's international reputation but confirms the Harper government's pathological hatred for science of any kind.

In fact the country has now officially entered a Dark Age for science. After spending $2.5 million renovating the Arctic Institute of North America's Kluane Research Station, the Harper government just eliminated the funding for the global leader in climate change and boreal mammal research. It also provided federal Arctic researchers at a recent Montreal conference with Iraqi-like minders to control their comments. Nature, one of the world's foremost science magazines, has written editorials about the muzzling of Canadian scientists.

In this new political order of attacks on science and environmentalists, the closure of the ELA program takes on special significance. The irrational decision strikes most scientists as a feat of colossal stupidity, economic folly and ideological backwardness. ...

Below: The entire Department of Fisheries and Oceans contaminants program is being shut down effective April 1, 2013.THIS on the West Coast where we have Fukushima to deal with!


Cindy E. Harnett
Times Colonist
May 23, 2012

When University of Victoria PhD student Marie Noel decided to study the effects of contaminants on marine mammal health, she thought she was a assured a long marine biology career without pink slips and redundancy notices.

"I was thinking it was a very safe choice because there is always going to be contaminants and people should always be interested in knowing what's in their environment, but apparently not," Noel said, who came to Canada from France in 2007.

The 29-year-old student is still in shock that her mentor, Canada's only marine mammal toxicologist at the Institute of Ocean Sciences on Vancouver Island, is losing his job as the federal government cuts almost all employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada.

Peter Ross, an expert on killer whales and other marine mammals, and eight of his North Saanich coworkers were among 75 staff members across Canada informed last week that the Department of Fisheries is closing the nation's contaminants program effective next year.

In total, 1,075 people received letters saying their jobs would be affected. ...

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