So many questions including, why was Duffy charged for taking a bribe and Wright who gave him the money not charged?
Much more to be clarified.
Running around like headless chickens, inept and incompetent, the Harper PMO and the Senate leadership tried to cover-up, the Wright check; whitewash the Senate report and tamper with the Deloitte audit. They have turned a simple act into a political and criminal fiasco, which have dogged Harper ( the one they were trying to protect) on the campaign trail and raising all manner of questions. What did Harper know? When did he know? What did Novak, present chief of staff an closest confidante, know? Is he believable when he said he was not there in the room with Perrin and Wright/ that he does not remember, if he was there/ that he did not tell Harper? What did Perrin tell Harper about Duffy's residency qualification to represent PEI in the Senate? Why did Harper not accept Perrin's advise? Did Wright tell Harper about the check and what does " good to go " mean in the context of Harper's approval? What did Woodcock, director of issues, know? Why did they try to whitewash the Senate report? Why did Gerstein try to tamper with and influence the Deloitte audit?
So many questions including, why was Duffy charged for taking a bribe and Wright who gave him the money not charged?
Much more to be clarified.
The agreement which was negotiated between US, Germany, France, UK, China, Russia and the EU with Iran, is the best deal that could be had. Those like the Republicans ( their leaders in Congress and the presidential candidates), Netanyahu of Israel, supported by the lobby group AIPAC, the extremists in Iran ( whom Pres. Obama rightly points out shout "Death to America", as well as Sen. Schumer ( who wants to be the next Senate leader for the Democrats), say Iran cannot be trusted, but they offer nothing, no alternative but war. Schumer caved in to his financial backers in AIPAC and to his puppet-master Netanyahu, and the Republican leaders in Congress as well as the Republican presidential candidates , will oppose anything that Pres. Obama proposes.
The Grand Ayatollah Khamenei has signalled his support and there was celebration in the streets as thousands honk horns and screamed in relief...most Iranians are young, quite enamoured with things Western/ American and were born after the 1979 Revolution and they were the ones who voted for the moderate Pres. Rouhani. They want peace and they want to travel. They have suffered under the sanctions and they want it to end.
It was the sanctions that forced Iran to the table. That is because it was universally supported. Iran may have pursued the building of nuclear weapons but after the search for WMD and the subsequent war on and defeat and death of Saddam, they were became very concerned lest they be the next target and so limited their programme and allowed for inspection.
The terms agreed upon will see a severe limit on what Iran can do. There is a 10-15 years reduction of the amount of uranium produced and have in hand; there is a reduction of 2/3 of its 2,700 uranium-refining centrifuges; tough international monitoring, with IAEA, able to inspect suspicious sites....intense scrutiny and verification, so that it may well be impossible for Iran to secretly get a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu's contention that Iran cannot be trusted and that they will continue to develop and build is pure sabre-rattling and has little or no credibility, but he says this to rally his neo-conservative friends in America and his hardliners at home. The idea that Iran will launch an attack on Israel is laughable, as Iran would face obliteration from Israel's arsenal of nuclear weapons.
If the Congress succeed in stopping the agreement ( they will face a veto and the over-ride requiring 2/3 of the Senate is not likely), here is what will happen. Russia and China will no longer support the UN sanctions. Not even France, the UK, the EU or Germany will support it. So Iran will be able to sell its oil and will be able to trade with the world, except US and Israel, and there will a rush to get the weapons to defend itself in case of an attack by Israel ( which Obama will not support). There 80 millions Iranians waiting to buy all manner of products which the world is ready to sell.
Deals that could have been worked out to fight ISIL; to end the civil war in Syria and Yemen; to apply pressure to Hizbollah, the Taliban and the Houthis will not be made. The region will be further locked in instability and wars, secular, regional and religious
Diplomacy and multilateralism will have failed and the drums of war will be everywhere. The world would be a far worse place without the agreement..
The Governor-General has been visited and election call has been made. It has been done to take advantage of the large "war chest" that the Reform/Conservatives have...to stretch it out and outspend and put pressure on the other parties. That is, if the other parties fall in the trap, which I am certain they will not.
Canada's first election campaign lasted 81 days in 1867 and the one in 1872, 96 days. These were held in the days when transportation was limited( the new railway, horseback and wagons), and thus acceptable. In 1926 the campaign was 74 days ( this was a very controversial election, forced by the defeat of the King government, the disagreement between Prime Minister King and GG Byng and scandal). This election, which will be held on Oct.19, 2015, will see a 78 days campaign which cost tens of millions more ( some estimate between $150- $200 million more).
Elections Canada had estimated that a 37-day campaign would cost around $375 million. This campaign is twice as long and so rental of office, payment to workers, payments to political parties for additional expenses etc. will add millions more and the taxpayers will have to shoulder the burden. The powers of Elections Canada have been limited by recently passed laws and some voters, thousands, ( chiefly the elderly, the young and First Nations, more likely to vote for Liberals and NDP and not Ref/Cons) may be prevented from voting, because of the new ID requirement. Elections Canada will be limited in sending voter information and investigating electoral fraud also. This was all done to enhance Harper's chances of being re-elected, a setback for Canadian democracy.
Harper is expected to run a very scripted campaign, where media access /scrutiny will be limited and attendance will be tightly controlled by vetting ( as happened in the Mount Royal launching, where security was very tight and those who attended were vetted vin advance). This is to make sure that Harper does not face hostile crowds, answer probing questions but face friendly audiences, selected by his handlers. That is why, for instance, he has refused to attend the debate set up by the "consortium"...CBC, CTV etc. He wants to control the news emanating from his campaign, but this will backfire as the media will have a field day with their own analyses, reports and campaign gossips and leaks.
Harper wants this campaign not to focus on scandals associated with his office (PMO), his various appointees, like Duffy and others and the upcoming trials, on del Mastro a former spokesman who is in prison on electoral fraud, on Wright and the $90,000 cheque to Duffy; or on the crumbling economy and looming recession, unemployment, trade deficit ( he was hoping to announce a signed TPP), slow economic growth, environmental policies/ climate change, missing First Nations women and the Truth and Reconciliation report and recent laws, like C-51. He wants to focus instead on "risks" and "security" and personal attacks on Trudeau ( which succeeded in the last two Liberal leaders) on grounds of incompetence and inexperience. He will go after Mulcair as a "tax and spend" socialist. The attacks will be vicious. personal and culled from half-truths and innuendos.
Mulcair, who is leading in the polls, will emphasise the need for "change", child care, on the poor performance on the economy and environment, on the various laws limiting democracy on Senate reform if not abolishment and foreign policy. Trudeau will talk about the "middle class'', taxing, the wealthy and on his "vision" of Canada. More specific details will be made as the campaign rolls on.
The real campaign will start after Labour Day. In the meantime, parties will try to stake their grounds, tests what issues will play well, do polling, targeting specific groups and focusing on areas of strength.
There are 338 seats, with Ontario (15), Alberta(6) and B.C.(6), Quebec (3) adding seats and so the campaigns will be centered in these places. In Ontario, the Greater Toronto area (905), will be very important. The NDP victory in the recent Alberta election may make the NDP more acceptable and remove some of the concerns ( if Conservative Alberta can vote NDP, why not give them a try). There will e a three-way fight in BC, which has a Liberal provincial government. There are 51 seats, where the First Nations vote can make a difference and if they show up to vote, it will mean trouble for Harper. The 1 million or so Ukrainians, especially in the West were strongly courted by Harper as well as the Jewish vote, in certain ridings like Mount Royal ( which used to be solidly Liberal). The Ref/Con hold 159 seats, the NDP 95; the Liberals 36; the Green 2; the Bloc 2; Force et Democratie 2, Independent 8; vacant 4. 170 is needed for majority.
All in all, it will be interesting to watch as the campaigns unfold. Expect to be suffocated by polls and expect the campaign, especially by the Ref/Cons to be particularly vicious and poisonous as they will try to run away from their record and instead make a "personality" issue.
Canada is a federal, bicameral system of government. The union of the colonies in 1867 was made possible when it was agreed that there will be a second chamber to complement the House of Commons. The Senate was the key in getting the smaller colonies to join in the Canadian union, as they feared the dominance of the colony of Quebec (Upper (Ontario) and Lower ( Quebec) Canada and wanted protection. The Senate was to be based on regional representation, each with 24 senators. The Senate is an equal legislative partner to the Commons and laws can thus be passed only with the consent of the Senate. The Senate was to be " the chamber of sober second thoughts". It was/is to act as a check on the Commons, to ensure that nothing revolutionary was done. It represented age, property and conservatism. The appointments to the Senate "shall ' be made by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. Senators must male, 30 years or older; must be above all debts and liabilities over $4,000 and own property of over $4000; must be selected from and have residence of the province ( this is where the Duffy problem arose, as he was appointed to represent Prince Edward Island but he had resided and worked in Ottawa, Ontario for more than 30 years. This was known by the Harper but he needed, the well-known TV personality, Duffy as a "pitchman and fund-raiser" for his party). It is clearly evident that the Senate was to play a very important role in the governing of Canada. Not only was it there to act as a check on the Commons, but it's consent was/is required for laws to be passed. No laws can be passed without the consent of the Senate ( that's why in 1988, the Free Trade Agreement was only passed after an election had been called and the Mulroney Conservatives won a majority and the GST became law only after Mulroney used, for the first time, a clause in the Constitution which allowed him to appoint 4 or 8 additional senators). The Senate also had/has other roles to play. Amendment of the Constitution can only be made with the consent of the Senate. It can also delay legislation for 180 days ( for "reconsideration"; the Opposition can also use the Senate to stymie a government as happened in 1988). Private bills usually start in the Senate. Commissions on a variety of issues are set up by the Senate eg. Media, Poverty, Health Care etc. It is also stated in the Constitution that no province can have less members of parliament tan it as senators ( case in point is PEI which is guaranteed 4 senators and thus cannot have less than 4 MPs. It presently as only 2 as Duffy is suspended and there is one vacancy; Manitoba is also affected).
The Senate can be abolished only with the consent of all provinces. This is highly( Quebec will not agree). Reforming the Senate would require the consent of at least 7 provinces, representing at least 50%+ of the population and this is possible. The problem is to get the provinces to agree on the type of reform and there are as many "types' as there are provinces. Some may want the Triple "E"...Elected, Equal and Effective. Some like Hall of Saskatchewan want abolition; some may want the provinces to chose them as in Germany; others may want something else ( this is after all Canada).
Over the years the Senate has lost much of its importance and usefulness and has become "the choicest plum in the patronage basket". It has become the sinecure for retired, spent defeated candidates ( Harper's first appointment was, Fortier. one such defeated candidate); for bagmen (like present House leader Housakos); and for other friends and hangers-on ( Duffy and Wallin, TV personalities; Brazeau, off-reserve 'native' leader etc. who would be useful in selling the party and raising funds. All Prime Ministers have done this. Harper is just the latest and most blatant ( perhaps his way of getting Senate abolition).
Harper's announcement of a moratorium is an attempt to confuse/deceive. He has already made 59 appointments and there are 22 vacancies. The Constitution states that senators "Shall" be appointed, not " may or may not"; " can or cannot". This latest gambit by Harper is a desperate attempt to deflect attention from Duffy et al. and the incompetence and lack of judgement of the PMO and Harper himself, not only in the appointments but in the handling of the aftermath. Of course, they would like to change and control the "issues" for the upcoming election( Oct.19, 2015). The economy is tanking. The unemployment rate is rising. The trade deficit is increasing; the dollar is at its lowest since 2004; our international reputation on Rights, climate change is damaged; economic growth is 1.5% and exports is down 4.5%.
It is written in the Talmud, that " it is the responsibility of the leader, not to tell the people what they cannot hear". In other words, do not confuse or deceive or mislead the people.
Harper should take note.
Diplomacy has triumphed and war has receded.
The use of embargo and sanctions coupled with pain-staking talks have resulted in the Iran nuclear deal and the world is a much better and safer place. Now the process of rebuilding and reinforcing relationship has begun. Iran is open for business and this will be of tremendous benefit for 80 million Iranians, most of whom were born after the 1979 Revolution.
The United Nations Security Council has by a 15-0 vote accepted the agreement; the Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei has muted his criticism; the Saudis have seen the light and muted their opposition, but the Republican Congress led by Boehner and McConnell have mounted an attack, supported by the "friends' of Netanyahu...AIPAC, and gambling billionaire Adelson. The Israeli ambassador, in desperation has met with the Congressional Black Caucus but here, he is dealing with some of the most loyal Americans, who know a good deal when they see one and like African Americans from the Civil War to Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan serve their country first, unlike others, who because of religion or other attachment put America second. Jewish members of Congress, such as Schumer ( who wants to e the next Democrat leader) and Schiff have been under a lot of pressure to vote against the "deal". Time will tell. Even if Congress vote to kill the "deal'', President Obama has veto power and he will use it and will not be overridden.
The benefits of the agreement are many. Trade will benefit. Consumers of oil and gas will benefit. Farmers and manufacturers will benefit; the region will benefit, as the fight with ISIL will be more concentrated. Iran will help with Iraq(IS) , Syria (IS), Yemen ( Houthis), and Afghanistan ( Al Qaeda and drug trade) and with Hizballah in Lebanon. The Saudis leading the Sunnis are concerned about the growing power of Shia Iran, but he Iranian nuclear programme has been put on hold for 10-15 years and so that fear is limited ( if the agreement had not been signed, then Iran would have been full speed ahead).
Netanyahu of Israel continues to rail against the agreement and hopes to use the Israeli lobby and friends to derail it, but like his speech to Congress, it will fail. Israel has nuclear weapons and the Americans will offer military and economic incentives to them and Netanyahu knows this and will shout even louder to get more and more from the Americans.
It has taken nearly a decade, but finally a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme is at hand, with just a few minor details to be taken care of. It was exhaustive, fraught with mistrust, with opposition coming from both capitals and from Israel, but the six powers led by the United States persisted.
John Kerry and Javad Zarif, had much to overcome. In the United States, the Republicans led by McConnell and Boehner, with sniping from McCain and Graham., joined with Netanyahu of Israel ( who was invited by the Republicans to address Congress), hoping to stop any deal. I Iran the Grand Ayatollah and conservatives made various attempts and statements, hoping to derail the talks. They seemed to have failed but they will have another opportunity, when it comes time to ratify the deal.
Iran has suffered very much from the sanctions that were imposed and they realise that the only way for relief, was to come to an agreement on their nuclear programme. Both sides were suspicious of the other after 36 years of tension and accusations. The Iranian were still bitter over the American support for the repressive regime of the Shah, whom the CIA had put on the Peacock throne,and for their support of Saddam during the 8 years of war and the Americans were still furious with the over the hostage taking and Iran's involvement with Hizbollah and with their connection to Iraq's Shia-led government and also with their support of the Houthis in Yemen and of course their seeming hatred of Israel.
The election of Barak Obama and later of Rouhani, signal a new beginning. Pres. Obama had made peace with Iran a priority and though initially they had little success with Ahmedinajahd, the Americans did not go away but decided to back diplomacy with economic sanctions and embargoes. With a newly elected, moderate government in Teheran, which signalled that they were willing to resume negotiations (the sanctions were really hurting), the talks resumed, with Russia and China, playing significant roles.
Iran has agreed to verifiable limits on their nuclear programme, inspections of their facilities and modifications to their weapons production. In return, would get tens of billions of dollars economic relief, can sell their oil ( which is crucial to their economy), and the lifting of the UN arms embargo and that the Security Council stop describing Iran's nuclear activities as "illegal".
The immediate effects would be beneficial to all parties. Tensions with Iran will be eased; cooperation in the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria; Iran using its influence with the Iraqis Shia government and with Assad of Syria and with the Houthis in Yemen. Iran will be no longer under the yolk of sanctions; will alleviate the suffering of the people; will sell their oil and bring in much needed revenues ( this will also mean more oil available in the world market and a drop in the price, benefitting customers, nations and people), and as a bonus the ability of the US to deal with the drug trade from Afghanistan using the Iranian corridor.
The deal when finally completed will ( as mentioned above), have to have the support of the American Congress and the Iranian Majlis. There will be opposition, especially from the friends of Israel in Congress and from Jewish lobbying groups, and in Iran from conservative elements associated with the Grand Ayatollah, but that will pass and the world can breathe a sigh of relief.
July 14, 2015, the deal has been reached. Now it has to be ratified. There will be opposition, but it will pass. Sanctions on Iran will be lifted and the people will be released from that yoke. Iran will sell its oil and consumers, individual and state will benefit. There will be cooperation on Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan . Iran will scale its nuclear programme, reduce centrifuges and allow for un fettered inspections. It's a great day.
The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has decided to allow the Greek people to decide on the draconian ( in 621bc, Draco was asked by the "nobles" of Athens to codify the laws. The laws, he came up with were cruel, oppressive and inhumane, for he decided that most crimes will be punished. This was in order to drive fear into the ordinary citizens. Later Solon 594-614, repealed those laws to make more appropriate), demands of the creditors.
They demanded that pensions be reduced and that taxes be further be increased. This would add more misery on an over-burdened people. Unemployment is over 25% and over 50% among youths.
He also will close banks and stock exchanges and impose strict capital controls over the ext few days. People will be able to make small daily withdrawal from ATMs but pensions will be paid out at banks.
Tsipras insists hat he does not want to pull Greece out of the Eurozone and polls have shown that as much as 70% of the people want to remain in. The only Greek industry ( people still flock to Greece to see its ancient ruins, like the Parthenon), that is still doing well is tourism but owners and workers in the industry fear that tourists would leave if violence broke out or if there is fuel shortages or if they are able to access payments made on credit cards.
Political opinions are sharply divided, of course. There are those who blame Tsipras for not accepting Europe's terms, and others who praised him for not caving in. There are those who believe that Europe owes Greece more than Greece owes Europe and there are those who fear that Greece will be expelled from the Eurozone.
There is no formal mechanism to evict any country. In 1999, when the common currency was adopted, no one contemplated that this would be necessary.
There is to be a last-ditch talks on Monday, 29 June, between Greece and the creditors.
Greece may have a "white knight" in Russia. Tsipras spoke at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum and met with Putin afterwards. Russia can use this, to sow division in Europe. Putin is still smarting from the sanctions imposed on Russia by America and Europe over Ukraine and being kept out of the G7. He an offer financial relief to Greece and he also as oil and gas in abundance to lure, especially the East and North European countries.
The next few days will be very interesting. July 5, 2015 will determine the fate of the Eurozone, especially if the Greek voters overwhelmingly support Tsipras.
VOX POPULI, VOX DEI.
OXI, a resounding NO by the Greek people. They did not succumb to the fear-mongering, threats, blackmail and the postulations of gloom and doom by the toadies in the media and academia, as well as opposition leader Samaras, who touted the creditors line. It was 61% to the question " must the agreement plan submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the European Union of 25 June, 2015, and comprised of two parts which make up their joint proposal , be accepted?"
IACTA ALIA EST. The ball is now in the creditors' court and Merkel, whose country benefitted the most from the austerity measures, and which is owed 89 billion of the 323 billion euros and who had taken a very hard line with the Greek PM Tsipras, lecturing and blaming him for allowing the situation to deteriorate, hurriedly called a meeting with Hollande of France. They have also called for a leaders' summit on Tuesday. Obviously they believed that the "yes" side would prevail and they were thus unprepared for the NO victory, especially its margin. The polls which once again was wrong, had called the outcome a toss-up.
Tsipras has a strong position to deal from and the Troika has to decide whether to offer some relief and re-structure the loan with a lower interest rate or as suggested by German finance minister Schauble, let Greece temporarily leave the euro zone and use another( drachma), until the economic problem eases. Time will tell.
Portugal, Spain and Italy are following the events very closely. Their economy are also faltering under the austerity measures and the example of Greece's rejection of the latest terms by the creditors and their response will be a great interest.
The Greek people (in the spirit of Leonidas), have decided that it is far better to suffer standing up, rather than living on their knees. They have weathered the Ottomans and the Nazis and now they have sent a strong message with this resounding vote of OXI.
Twenty-five years ago, then prime minister Mulroney proposed the Meech Lake Accords, after being pressured by Quebec's premier Bourassa with his 5 demands. It ended in failure, mainly because Mulroney "rolled the dice" and declared that it ad to be passed in three years and must have the consent of all provinces (his grandstanding was to show that he could do what Trudeau could not and get Quebec to "sign on' to the 1982 Constitution
Federal Court Judge Luc Martineau has ordered the Harper government, through Safety Minister Slaney and the RCMP commissioner, to immediately hand over the external hard drive containing a copy of all Quebec gun registry data. It has to be done by 10am, Tuesday. A clear case of no trust in the government's assurances that all remaining long-gun registry records would be preserved while court challenges continue. The challenge was brought by information commissioner Suzanne Legault, against the Harper government retroactive gun registry provisions buried in the recent omnibus budget bill.
The lawyers for the federal government had argued that it was unnecessary to produce an actual physical copy of the records because the safety minister had issued " four separate understandings" to preserve the data. The judge rejected the government's arguments, after he was informed by the lawyers for the information minister, that previous assurances from the Harper government in 2012 were ignored as it pushed for speedy destruction of all gun registry records.
It was the destruction of records in 2012, that led Legault to issue a report accusing the RCMP of breaking the Freedom of Information Act. The Ontario Provincial Police is investigating the allegation.
The Harper government responded to the allegation by retroactively rewriting the law in order to grant amnesty to anyone involved in the destruction and backdating it to 2011 and then "hiding" it in this spring's 167-page omnibus budget bill ( C 59), which was passed by the Senate on Monday, thus adding urgency to the Federal Court hearing to seal the remaining records. The government lawyer did not give a direct answer, when asked by the judge whether the government would respect an order to preserve the data once C-59 was passed. Gregory Tzemenakis, for the government replied that " absent a constitutional challenge", the bill's new provisions will be the law.
This is a very dangerous move by the government. " Perilous precedent", Legault calls it and she is quite correct. This action on the part of the government of an alleged crime ( the destruction of the records), could be used to retroactively absolve and cover up electoral fraud, expense scandals or other serious crimes, she warned.
Judge Martineau also mused aloud in court about retroactively absolving Nazis of war crimes and backdating the law to 1940. Clearly, the judge was most concerned at the government's anti-democratic action and his "musings", dismayed and alarmed the government lawyers. They should be more than dismayed and alarmed, because as officers of the court, they are guardians of the rule of law. The rule of law exist to protect all equally; to protect our Rights and Freedoms against an authoritarian government. The Magna Carta from which this principle is derived and which was passed 800 years ago, is presently on display in Parliament. Hopefully its presence will stir, strengthen and remind us of the centuries of struggle to against undemocratic governments. This slap-down of the Harper government follows on the many other instances when the Supreme Court has had to act against actions by this government.
It is clearly evident that the Harper government will do whatever it deems necessary to carry out its agenda, even if it means breaking the law and then take retroactive action to cover itself and its "cohorts". That is "perilous". That is an attack on all our Rights and Freedoms. That is a pathway to irresponsible and autocratic governance. That is the death knell of our democracy.
The RCMP and the Public Safety minister have complied with the judge's order and handed over all Quebec gun registry data around 9.15 am, Tuesday. Also Legault's constitutional challenge to retroactive amnesty contained in omnibus budget bill has been transferred to 3-judge Divisional Court in Toronto.
The St. Petersberg International Economic Forum will be held next week and the world's most powerful oil executives, from Total, Royal Dutch and BP will be attending. So too will the executives from the giant oil trading houses of Glencore, Trafigura and others. Western bankers and industrialists will stay because of the sanctions.
Those sanctions pushed Russia to sign a $400 billion deal with China last year and these oil executives (who wanted to but could not invest in Siberia and Sakhalin, where they have big stakes, like Shell's $20 billion giant gas plant and BP's 20% in Rosnet), want to make sure that they do ot miss out again.
These western oil executives have been influenced by a recent BP report that stated that Russia's oil and gas reserves have jumped to 103 billion barrels (from 93 billion in 2013).
Their visit to Putin's hometown will definitely give him a boost, especially as they will meeting with him.
Europe needs Russian oil and gas and Russia needs the money, and this will play well with the Russian people, with whom Putin enjoy an above 80% popularity. A recent lull in the fighting in Ukraine gave these executives the excuse to make sure they maintain good relations with Moscow and to further their oil ad gas investments for the future when political leaders in the West (eg. Obama) will no longer be in power.
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fig 2-b My Father and Mother to whom I owe everything
(Fig 2a) The Death of Innocents
Ishwar R. Prashad recently retired from over 47 years of teaching.