Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dec. 8: A bad day in Ottawa....

The Moncton Times and Transcript seems not to have considered it important enough to mention, but the 15 billion dollar F35 deal for our air force is off. Oh, I meant, of course, the 20 billion dollar deal  - which went up to 30 billion,   -  and was most recently estimated at 40 billion.

Harper knew, long ago, certainly well before the election, that this was a non starter, and even a worse blunder than the dollar signs show. The deal was made back in 2006 with no study whatever of what Canada's defence forces would be like in the lifetime of the F35, no sense whatever of how the F-35 would fit in or what it would do. (That study still has not happened.) But the government hung in there even as the original price almost tripled, and as new problems with the aircraft appeared almost weekly.

This is a crashing blunder by Peter MacKay, encouraged by remarkable ineptness and delay on the part of Harper. Offhand, I cannot think of a bigger defence scandal in Canadian history. But it wasn't important enough to make The Times and Transcript. No, it needed the space for a much bigger story, "Moncton Tax Rate Holds Steady".

Nor was there the story of Lake Winnipeg, a lake so big that it would classify as a sea in some parts of the world. It has the worst algae problem of any large lake in the world. And that lake feeds 'fresh' water to much of our west and north. The algae result from years of dumping wastes -  phosphate, sewage, garbage into the lake. And people downstream drink that stuff - because they have no choice. That may have something to do with their dreadful health problems.

And it can only get worse as Harper has "streamlined" rules on pollution, streamlining meaning he has eliminated most of them.

The TandT did carry the story of Harper approving a Chinese buyout of major holdings in the Alberta oilsands. But that one wasn't bad news for Harper. It was bad news for Canada.

The Chinese government is the buyer - but Harper insists that there will be tight regulations on environmental controls for a Chinese government that is notorious for ignoring them. And Harper made it a point of saying that there would be no such sales permitted in future - well, almost none,and only after careful review, and with due regard for human rights, and Canada would maintain strict control.......

That is worse than vague. It also completely overlooks legal aspects. For example, once the Chinese government owns a company in Canada, that company becomes legally Canadian - and can therefore buy more Canadian companies - without needing approval.

As for tough regulations to control a government that habitually ignores them, Harper can't. He has just destroyed most of our environmental regulations. Once the Chinese government invests here, the rules cannot be changed without risking a lawsuit for billions of dollars - a lawsuit that would be decided in secret - and probably in a Chinese court. And that doesn't even begin to look at the complications of a rat's nest of legal openings for other countries under the terms of free trade agreements.

And this is a bill that was part of the omnibus 'budget' bill. That's means parliament had no to time debate it, and barely any time to even read it. And the general public has had no information on it at all.

It also signals a shift from the US market to the Chinese one. There are implications to that it would take a book to explain. And - a point to think about--why would Harper be shifting our major trading partner?

Isn't Harper saying the future is not with the US? That the US is not going to recover? In that, at least, he may be right.

Speaking of stories that didn't make the news, some people connected with our provincial government are pushing for a gag law on medical doctors. That means that doctors would not be permitted to speak publicly on matters of government policy - shale gas springs to mind.

That would be convenient for our leaders. They and the Irving press wouldn't have to lie about what Dr. Cleary said, and they wouldn't have had to falsify their news stories.

Not to worry - shale gas companies would still have free speech, as would toadies from the university world. But medical doctors, the only authorities we have on likely health impact, would be muzzled.

Imagine, a doctor, knowing that a certain process has the potential not only to harm but to kill would be forbidden by our government to say so. As I read of t his, I could only think, "You bastards."

There is nothing that our intellectually and morally bankrupt leaders in the political and corporate world will not stoop to in order to rip us off. No democracy that even pretends to value freedom of speech can possibly allow such a gag order. I am astonished  ( though I should not be) that those scum-bags would even have the nerve to suggest it.

Doctors are meeting, I believe, today, to discuss this. New Brunswickers must rally to support their doctors in this. Any society that would even consider such a proposal is beneath contempt. Alward, you must be one miserable wretch, indeed, if you have any connection with this. And an even more miserable one if you do not denounce it.

There's a story about Frank McKenna shilling for the eastern oil pipeline. Dear, lovable, --- smooth ---Frank. He's a fixer, and he's good at it. That's how he makes his bread. He knows just who to talk to, how to handle them, how to make it go over with the public. And he's big-hearted. He'll do it for anybody who has enough money.

The people opposed to the pipeline are, I guess, nice, too.  Too bad they don't have enough money.

I haven't said much about today's paper. There isn't much to say. The only thing worth reading is a superb column by Gwynne Dyer on the op ed page.

Tomorrow, it being Sunday and all, I'll talk about today's gawdawful Faith page, and about what to expect in the middle east over coming months - and why to expect it.

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