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Saturday, December 31, 2011

50 Years of Canadian Leadership

50 Years of Canadian Leadership
Jack Layton 2003-2011.
Alexa McDonough 1995-2003.
Audrey McLaughlin 1989-1995.
Ed Broadbent 1975-1989.
David Lewis 1971-1975.
Tommy Douglas 1961-1971.

Jack Layton: Hope, Optimism and Canadian Leadership

In 2011, Layton brought the party to incredible new heights. Voters in the May 2 election elected a record-breaking 103 NDP MPs to represent every part of the country. Layton became leader of the largest Official Opposition in 31 years—and the first formed by New Democrats. With 59 Quebec MPs, Layton’s team emerged not only as a credible government-in-waiting but as a force for Canadian unity.
A native Montrealer, Layton later moved to Toronto to complete his Masters and PhD. He taught in all of Toronto’s universities, and served nearly 20 years as a city councillor in Toronto. He also served as President of the Federation of Canadians Municipalities where he forged a united and powerful lobby that led to a new national focus on the state of Canada’s municipalities and the services they deliver.
Layton was elected MP in Toronto-Danforth in the 2004 federal election which saw the NDP’s national vote climb by more than one million votes.
Months after taking his place in Parliament, Layton displayed his remarkable ability to get things done for families. By rewriting the 2005 budget, Layton successfully diverted $4.6-billion in corporate tax giveaways to important priorities like affordable housing, training and public transit.
On August 22, 2011, Layton died after a long battle with cancer. His memory lives on in every person who believes in a better tomorrow, and every person who believes we can make our great country even better. As Jack famously said, “don’t let them tell you it can’t be done!”
A letter to Canadians from the Honourable Jack Layton

Friday, December 30, 2011

Leading the official opposition: the candidates


In the name of full disclosure: when it comes to the race to lead Canada’s NDP, I’m fully committed. Paul Dewar has captured my heart, mind and spare time.
That said, with the recent BC NDP convention in town, I thought it a good chance to meet a few of the other candidates vying to become leader of Canada’s official opposition. An effort I found somewhat mixed.
The Townhall event was great. So nice to see candidates together, talking about all the ways we can make people’s lives better. And it established some clear talent and intelligence in the field.
  • Romeo was charming and a powerful speaker.
  • Topp proved his reputation as a backroom strategist/policy guy – but also proved that doesn’t equate to being a strong public figure: he was boo’ed back to his seat after the first question…having twice intentionally ignored the moderator’s requests to wrap up.
  • Nathan has a great stage presence and ease. And his humour is wonderful; but it seems to risk sacrificing content. End of the day, this needs to be about people and their problems…not about developing a personality. (Tough balance to strike between those two.)
  • Peggy was expectedly articulate (reminded me of my childhood spent at so many union events: that well-practiced speaking pattern built around garnering applause from supportive crowds).
  • Thomas was also well seasoned and professional. I must say though – for me –there’s something about him that’s more lullaby/calming than inspirational or engaging.
  • Niki’s fire and articulate words made me proud to see young women staking out a voice…she’s a great asset to the future of our party!
  • Martin was – admittedly – surprisingly good. But still doesn’t make my list of contenders. Interesting addition to the race though.
  • Robert was warm and came across as experienced. (Maybe it’s the soft crow’s feet around his eyes that got me though…)
  • Paul: still my favourite. But the plentiful reasons for this will come in later posts (but will include his balance between experience and the youth/energy we need to build the party, a caring and positive vision, and that extra sparkle you just can’t teach).
In addition to watching the town hall, I tried to introduce myself to a few candidates. Again, in the name of full disclosure, I was wearing my Paul pin the whole weekend, and seen often with him or at his booth. So my affiliation and first round support was well declared.
I managed to meet 4 of them (saw Mulcair a few times at a distance but he didn’t seem to be lingering). Topp lived up to his (unfortunate) reputation: he barely made eye contact, then turned to try and chat with the older man who I had been talking to. Guess I didn’t look endorsement worthy.
And, sadly (while I LOVE some of the people on her team), Peggy did the exact same as Topp. A half smile, a hand shake and a quick turn to somebody who seemed to look more important. I found myself more disappointed in Peggy than Brian though. And it took me a few days to figure out why.
I have been blessed to be surrounded by a lot of very intelligent, powerful and supportive women. The kind who genuinely go extra steps to help support another in the field. (Really, I feel very lucky.) I guess this weekend was one of those needed reminders that being a woman doesn’t mean you’re actually a feminist. That, or – unlike Paul who seems to stop every few steps to chat with whoever makes eye-contact – not all politicians take the time to engage with people at every level of the party. Either way, disappointing.
Anyway, I also met two of the others in the race. Niki was totally lovely (as was her mother). She was articulate, friendly and smart. She’s going to be a player to watch as our party moves forward.
Robert too was lovely: intelligent and thoughtful…in a gentle but powerful way.
Paul, I continue to like more and more, each time I talk with him. He’s just a nice man/husband/dad who “gets it.” And he’s so genuinely interested in getting to know people. Most importantly, his desire to find ways we can better look after each other (and actually create “a more caring Canada”…as he says) is so in tune with my own view of what this country both can and should be. It’s refreshing and inspirational.
Anyway, if nothing else, this weekend affirmed my support for Paul. And it helped start to sort where the others rank in relation to each other.

Issues: On April 4th 1935, Thousands Headed To Vancouver To Demand Real Jobs

Issues: On April 4th 1935, Thousands Headed To Vancouver To Demand Real Jobs

By David Murray. What the On to Ottawa Trek was about happened during “The Great Depression”. Poverty, unemployment, riding the freights, soup lines, flop houses, and hopelessness grew from economic failure of capitalism in the 1930′s.
David Murray and Former Premier Dave Barrett
To avoid starvation or risk of jail for vagrancy, thousands of single unemployed men were forced into isolated “relief camps” which the governments established in an attempt to control, and hide, the shame of a whole generation of young Canadians without work. Under the military control of the camps, with few rights and no future, young men built roads by hand-for pay of 20 cents a day.
However the young men in the camps had not lost their spirit or their dreams. With the help of the Workers’ Unity League, the Relief Camp Workers’ Union was organized.
On April 4 1935, thousands left the camps and headed to Vancouver to demand real jobs, and an end to the camps. While the civic authorities responded to the strikers’ audacious marches and protests with arrests and the infamous reading of the Riot Act, the citizens of Vancouver gave “our boys” overwhelming support, and assistance was organized by church groups, unions, the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation (NDP) , and many community organizations.
After two months in Vancouver, the unemployed resolved to take their plea for “Work and Wages” to the source of the problem: the Conservative federal government led by R.B. “Iron Heel” Bennett. On June 3 1935, about 1,200 workers climbed atop CPR boxcars on the Vancouver waterfront, and headed to Ottawa.
After great welcomes in Kamloops and Golden, the Trek survived the hazardous journey through the Rockies, and reached Calgary. At every stop, hundreds more young unemployed joined the protest. As it rolled east across the prairies, the Trek swelled to over 2,000, and many more awaited in Winnipeg and centres in Ontario. Public support grew across Canada.
R.B.Bennett ordered police and the CPR to stop the unemployed protest in Regina. The Trek held there, while Arthur Evans and seven others met Bennett in Ottawa. The Prime Minister berated the jobless,and dismissed all their proposals out of hand. Then on July 1 1935, a peaceful meeting of trekkers and Regina citizens was attacked by armed and mounted police.
They arrested Trek leaders, unleashing a riot in which at least two persons were killed, dozens suffered police gunshot wounds, and hundreds more were injured.
The Trekkers were herded into and held in Regina’s stadium. A contingent of unemployed in Winnipeg then attempted to continue the march east, but they too were stopped by armed police in Ontario.
The Trek was broken on orders of the federal government, but the people of Canada swept Iron Heel Bennett from office short months later. His Liberal successor moved to abolish the relief camps, and gradually instituted unemployment insurance and other social reforms.
On to Ottawa commemorative plaque at Crab Park depicting the 75th anniversary of the Trek
The story of the On to Ottawa Trek and the spirit of the trekkers remains an inspiration for today’s trade unionists and social activists who carry on the unfinished business of 1935: ending unemployment and poverty by providing work, wages, and decent social programs for all Canadians.
On to Ottawa TrekClick Here



Story by Sher Boudreau. The 2012 IIHF World Junior
Championships saw Team Canada
trounce the Team from Denmark in a
painful 10-2 on Thursday in front of a
crowd of over 16,000 in Alberta.

Team Canada was playing with passion
and determination despite the large goal
differential. The scoring for Canada
kicked off with Quinton Howden
early in the first period. Team Canada
posted 4 goals in the 1st period with
the lone penalty going to Ryan Strome

The second period, saw Canada's sheer
domination and hard hitting squad
completely man-handle the boys from
Denmark. Goals by Scott Harrington,
Freddie Hamilton and Mark Stone
extended Canada's lead to 7-0. Canada
took the only 3 penalties for the period.

In the third period, Denmark appeared to
show some life and scored 2 outstanding
goals against Mark Visentin who was net
minding for Team Canada. Canada saw
the penalty box 4 times in the 3rd while
Denmark had 1 penalty for the entire

Sebastian Feuk for Denmark was in net
for the entire game and had a total of
41 shots, while Mark Visentin faced 24
shots for Canada. Player of the game
for Canada was Brandon Gormley and
Nicklas Jensen for Denmark.

Canada's great passing, excellent
puck handling and amazing scoring
opportunities has aided in their
continued success thus far in the
tournament. The real test to the boys of
Team Canada will come on Saturday
when they face their rivals from Team

The game will be shown at 6pm
MT/5pm PT from Rexall Place in
Edmonton Alberta and will end
Canada's Preliminary round in this year's


Story By Sher Boudreau. The Team Canada World Junior Team
won their game 5-0 against the Team
from the Czech Republic.

Mark Stone continues to rack up points
by scoring another goal to make it 4
goals in 2 games. Mark Scheifele gets
on the board with two stellar goals in
the 3rd period. Rounding out the scoring
for Canada was Ryan Strome and Brett
Connolly. Tanner Pearson adds to his
tournament total with a couple assists.

Czech goalie Petr Mrazek faced 38 shots
by Canada allowing only 5 goals. Team
Canada saw Scott Wedgewood in net
for his first game of the tournament and
made his mark with the outstanding
shutout. Scott managed to keep all 26
Czech shots out of the pipes.

Once again, the crowds in Alberta
(16,417) were treated to the Canadian
Anthem and saw Freddie Hamilton
(Niagara IceDogs) and Petr Mrazek
(Czech) get 'Player of the game' nods.

Team Canada will face Denmark in their
next match up.



In a shocking upset, Team USA loses
to the very enthusiastic team from the
Czech Republic.

Petr Mrazek in net for the Czechs
displayed energy and a light-hearted
side with his celebrating of goals by his

Bill Arnold for Team USA gets Player
of the game nod as well as Petr Holik for
the Czechs despite the 'jeers' from the
crowd after the games' 5-2 victory.

Mrazek faced 54 shots allowing only 2
goals. Team USA dominated the shots
but they were unable to produce more

Team USA had a crowd awakening
penalty shot after Jiri Riha of the
Czech team took a tripping call on the
breakaway by Josh Archibald. Mrazek         
stood tall between the pipes and denied
Josh's scoring attempt. The exuberant
Mrazek double fist pumped the crowd
ecstatic at the 2-2 tie remaining.

In spite of their efforts, Team USA just
couldn't fight the force that was Petr                                      

Mrazek. With the Czech win, Team
Canada automatically gets a bye into
semi-finals. While the Czechs will face
off against Finland in their final game of
the Preliminary round.

Team USA will play Team Canada
Saturday in the last of the Prelims.

  Sher Boudreau Free Lance Reporter in the Fraser Valley
                                                                                                               Fraser Valley

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jagrup Brar's poverty challenge

NDP MLA Jagrup Brar takes Raise the Rates poverty challenge

Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Jagrup Brar will spend January trying to eke out a living on the $610 that a single employable welfare recipient gets from the province.
By Charlie Smith,
As a member of the legislative assembly, Jagrup Brar has a very comfortable life. In the last fiscal year, the NDP representative for Surrey-Fleetwood earned a salary of $101,859 and collected a capital-city allowance of $14,590 to offset the cost of staying in Victoria for part of the year.
But on Sunday (January 1), Brar will start a one-month experiment to simulate what it’s like to be on social assistance. In a recent interview with the Georgia Straight at the B.C. NDP convention, he explained that he will try to survive for a month on $610, which is what a single employable welfare recipient receives in this province. The first 16 days of January will be spent in Surrey and he’ll live in Vancouver for the rest of the month.
“The key here is that I want to experience firsthand what life is like to be a poor person in B.C.,” Brar said. “So having said that, I made the commitment to make this as real as possible.”
Brar, the Opposition critic for small business, mentioned that he will start his adventure at the Surrey Central SkyTrain station on New Year’s Day as a homeless person. From there, he will seek services to help him find shelter, rather than living at home with his wife and two children.
Brar said that he plans to set aside $450 for housing in January. That’s because after conducting some research, he concluded that it’s not possible to find cheaper accommodation. In addition, he will spend $42 on transit passes and $25 on a cellphone.
“I have to be searching for a job, technically, because I’m a single employable individual,” he revealed. “If I search for a job, I have to be mobile, so I have to have a bus pass. That’s also why I have to have a phone.”
After these expenditures, Brar will be left with $3 a day to cover everything else, including food. By living on the same amount as a welfare recipient, he said he will better understand how poverty affects people. Brar, an immigrant from India, also wants to bring awareness of this issue to the broader population.
“It’s hard for me to believe, coming from a third-world country, that we have in this province 137,000 children living below the poverty line,” he said. “It’s hard for me to believe that we have roughly half a million people below the poverty line.”
B.C. hasn’t raised its income-assistance rates since 2007. An employable single parent (whose child is three years or older) receives $945.58, including a $570 shelter allowance.
Brar revealed that he decided to live like a poor person for a month in response to a challenge from Raise the Rates, which is a coalition of community groups concerned about poverty. He mentioned that his 12-year-old daughter urged him to do it because it might make a difference. “My wife, of course, is concerned about my health, but other than that, she admires that I’m doing it,” Brar stated.
A spokesperson for Raise the Rates, Jean Swanson, told the Straight by phone that her group issued a dare in May to all MLAs, including Premier Christy Clark and NDP Leader Adrian Dix, to live on the welfare rate for a month. Brar was the only one who accepted.
“We’re pleased he’s going to do it,” Swanson said. “It won’t really be like living on welfare, but it will give him a little taste of what it’s like to be poor. We’re hoping it will raise consciousness about how low welfare rates are and about some of the punitive welfare rules—like not being able to keep a cent of what you earn, and not being able to keep a cent of child support.”
Swanson added that her group has found Brar a single-room-occupancy hotel room for when he’s in Vancouver, but she wouldn’t reveal the location.
She noted that a former NDP politician, Emery Barnes, was the last MLA to live on a welfare recipient's income, doing this for seven weeks in early 1986.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Columns: How Did Investment Gurus Get Us In This Mess?

Columns: How Did Investment Gurus Get Us In This Mess?

While the old media has figured out that some Wall Street guys did some pretty risky and stupid things and, for some reason European banks are now also paying the price for the same stupid and risky behaviour, it is impossible to connect the dots in a 30-second clip. As a result, few average citizens understand what is going on other than the fact that something bad seems to be coming down the pipe.
Because Canada’a chartered banks and financial industry are more regulated and controlled, our exposure to the massive fraud which caused the ongoing economic meltdown was limited. Not due to any political management of the economy by Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty (who wasted billions of dollars on an Economic Stimulus Package designed to get them re-elected), but due to the conservative and strict regulations on banking in Canada.
With our stimulus billions already wasted, there is precious little Flaherty or Harper can do to protect us against phase two of the worldwide economic meltdown.
One of the interesting questions asked by many average investors, voters and the Occupy movement is this: If what the Wall Street guys did was so bad, why aren’t more than one of them in jail?
The answer will terrify you.
Simple fact: The fraud was so endemic and went from Wall Street right down to the smallest investment broker in the smallest communities in America that to prosecute the fraudsters would involve literally millions of American citizens.
In an enlightening article for Bloomberg Media, University of Missouri associate professor of economics William K. Black explains why.
It is well worth a read.

Why CEOs Avoided Getting Busted in Meltdown

By William K. Black
The defining characteristic of crony capitalism is the ability of favored elites to loot with impunity and the failure of regulators to do their jobs.
We have seen this in the financial crisis that started in 2008 and in an earlier era, when the savings-and-loan industry collapsed.
In the Texas “Rent-a-Bank” scandal of the 1970s, for example, two ringleaders created a fraud network of 50 lenders that caused billions of dollars in losses. The watchdogs removed and sanctioned one of the main culprits, but because the crimes weren’t prosecuted, the same crooks reappeared in the 1980s to do it all over again, only on a bigger scale. Unless you imprison the fraudsters, sophisticated financial scams grow ever more destructive.
It seems as if we have forgotten this lesson.
Take the seven senior officials convicted in the failure of one of the lenders that drove the 2008 credit crunch. All of the cases arose from an investigation of Taylor Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. The first trial occurred last month — 6 1/2 years after the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned publicly that there was an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud and predicted that it would cause a financial crisis if it weren’t contained. The trial and conviction of Taylor Bean’s former chairman, Lee Farkas, occurred nine years after his crimes were suspected.
Taylor Bean was a small Florida mortgage broker before the fraud began as the housing boom took off. Fannie Mae had cited Farkas for multiple violations, but never filed a criminal referral, which would have triggered an investigation. Had it done so, Farkas might have been prosecuted and Taylor Bean shut long before it caused so much damage. Instead, it expanded, then failed, pulling down a bank with it at a cost of $2.8 billion to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Farkas plans to appeal the verdict.
Fraud With Impunity
The Office of Thrift Supervision, the successor to the S&L regulator where I worked, made no criminal referrals in the latest crisis. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve made less than a handful. Mortgage and investment banks also made very few referrals — and never against their senior officers.
Now it is true that banks made thousands of criminal referrals, but almost all involved low-level figures. The volume overwhelmed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which failed to devote adequate resources. As late as 2007, the agency assigned only 120 investigators spread among 56 field offices to probe thousands of cases. More than eight times that number probed the S&L frauds, a far smaller epidemic.
Unlike the S&L debacle, there was no national task force and no comprehensive prioritization. This made it difficult to investigate the huge, fraudulent subprime lenders. And since there were no criminal referrals of these firms, the FBI wasn’t even attempting to pursue them.
Two Lessons
The two great lessons to draw from this epidemic of fraud is that if you don’t look for it, you don’t find it and that wherever you do look, you do find fraud. The FBI was concentrating on retail banking, or individual borrowers and smaller lenders. But the big problems were being created in the wholesale end of the business, where loans were pooled, packaged, sold and securitized. Because the FBI only looked at relatively small cases, it found only relatively small frauds.
The FBI has been processing no more than 2,000 mortgage- fraud cases a year. There are two things to consider though: Not only were they the wrong cases to focus on, but they amounted to nothing in light of the estimated 1 million fraudulent mortgage loans made annually during the housing bubble years.
Deserted by Regulators
The FBI — deserted by the banking regulators and undercut by the Justice Department — was so desperate that it formed a partnership with the Mortgage Bankers Association in 2007. The trade association had created an absurd definition of mortgage fraud under which accounting frauds by a lender were impossible and bankers were the victims. By 2009 the financial crisis had become so acute that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner discouraged criminal investigations of the large nonprime lenders.
Nobel laureate George Akerlof and Paul Romer wrote a classic article in 1993. The title captured their findings: “Looting: the Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit.” Akerlof and Romer explained how bank CEOs can use accounting fraud to create a “sure thing” in the form of record short- term income, generated by making low-quality loans at a premium yield while making only minimal reserve allowances for losses. While it lasts, this fictional income allows the chief executive officer to loot the bank, which then fails, and walk away wealthy.
Wealth Destruction In criminology, we call these accounting-control frauds and we know that they destroy wealth at a prodigious rate. There’s no “if” about the losses — the only questions are when they will hit, how big they will be, and who will bear them. The record income produced explains why those involved get away with it for years. Private markets don’t discipline firms reporting record profits. They compete to fund them. Fraudulent CEOs can control the hiring and firing and can create the perverse incentives that produce a dynamic in which bad ethics drive good ethics out of the marketplace.
Sophisticated accounting-control frauds not only sucked in employees who should have known better, but also loan brokers. The result is that the large fraudulent lenders — those making a lot from liar’s loans — produced an echo epidemic of deception.
Fraud, it turns out, begets fraud.

Prfessor William K Black. Photo from
William K Black
William K. Black is an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the author of “The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One.”
You can contact William K. Black at
This column was originally published – May 10, 2011 4:00 PM PT Bloomberg Opinion on


Columns: A Young Man Meets A Legend During The Depression

Categorized | Columns, David Murray

Columns: A Young Man Meets A Legend During The Depression

By David Murray. Last year when I was involved with the On to Ottawa Trek Historical Society’s celebration of 75 years since the Trek started in Vancouver. I came to realize just what my father was doing back in 1935.
Boarding the trains for the On to Ottawa Trek June 1935
When he boarded the trains to go to Ottawa to protest “Iron Heel” Bennett and his unfair practices against the unemployed and marginalized people of that time. He set forth on a path that even he could not realize what was about to happen to him and who he was about to meet.
Rioters and police during the Regina Riot July 1, 1935

My father “Bud” Murray was born in Qu’Appelle Saskatchewan and was very familiar with the landscape when he arrived in Regina June 30th 1935. He was 24 years old and had been riding the rails for 6 years during the Great Depression. He played hockey for the Flin Flon Bombers the Regina Pats and the Nelson Maple Leafs so going from coast to coast looking for work was part of what he had to do at that time.
When the Regina Riot broke on July 1st 1935 my dad witnessed some of the darkest moments of our Canadian History.
He was offered a train ticket back to Vancouver after the riot. This was Iron Heel Bennett’s way of dispersing the protesters . A free ticket back to where they came from.
There was work in Saskatchewan at the time and farmers needed help. so my dad who grew up on a farm , stayed around to make a few dollars.
In October he heard of a 31 year old gentleman in Weyburn named Tommy Douglas who was running for the CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation ) party. He was so impressed with him that he hung around and helped get Tommy elected . He worked tirelessly on that campaign..
Tommy Douglas
Tommy tried to get elected as a Saskatchewan provincial representative in 1934. It was in 1935 he and 4 other CCF members were elected to go to Ottawa.
My father although always following Tommy’s career saw him go in a different direction. He had a tryout with the Chicago Black Hawks in 1939 , leaving training camp to join the Second World War in September of that year.
Canadian Soldiers leaving from New West in the Second World War
He did not see Tommy again until 1968 , the two old friends got together when Mr. Douglas ran in the Federal riding of Burnaby-Seymour.
Canadians voted Tommy Douglas our Greatest Canadian in 2004.
Dream no little dreams,Tommy would say then show us how. Medicare is impossible, the world cried out. Yet Tommy Douglas showed us how to get things done!
When he came to Ottawa as the NDP’s first federal leader, Tommy set to work building bridges with Lester Pearson’s minority government. Persistently. Pragmatically. The results became defining aspects of Canadian society national medicare, the Canada Pension Plan, a world-class affordable housing strategy. That’s why older Canadians aren’t surprised to see today’s New Democrats making Parliament work. We have learned from the very best.
Dream big. Be pragmatic. Stick to your principles. That’s Tommy’s distinguished example. There’s none better for aspiring young leaders looking to make a positive mark on their country.
In Pitt Meadow’s today we have many challenges. My father and Mr. Douglas I know are looking down on me from heaven. It’s with their spirit I get the motivation to keep pushing for positive, progressive ,like-minded politics in Pitt Meadows!

Since 2009, 88 Percent Of Income Growth Went To Corporate Profits, Just One Percent Went To Wages

Since 2009, 88 Percent Of Income Growth Went To Corporate Profits, Just One Percent Went To Wages

After the longest recession since WWII, many Americans are still struggling while S&P 500 corporations are sitting on $800 billion in cash and making massive profits. Now, economists from Northeastern University have released a study that finds our sluggish economic recovery has almost solely benefited corporations. According to the study:
“Between the second quarter of 2009 and the fourth quarter of 2010, real national income in the U.S. increased by $528 billion. Pre-tax corporate profits by themselves had increased by $464 billion while aggregate real wages and salaries rose by only $7 billion or only .1%. Over this six quarter period, corporate profits captured 88% of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1% of the growth in real national income. …The absence of any positive share of national income growth due to wages and salaries received by American workers during the current economic recovery is historically unprecedented.”
The New York Times adds, “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average real hourly earnings for all employees actually declined by 1.1 percent from June 2009, when the recovery began, to May 2011, the month for which the most recent earnings numbers are available.”
So as average wages fall, and nearly 14 million people remain unemployed, America’s economic recovery has almost entirely benefited corporations. This development adds another chapter to the decline of the middle class, whose incomes are shrinking and wages are stagnating. Last year, top executives’ salaries increased 27 percent, while workers’ salaries increased only 2 percent. At the moment, income inequality in America is the worst it’s been since the 1920s, as the richest 1 percent make nearly 25 percent of the country’s income.
Sean Savett

Columms: Stephen Harper’s Two – Minute Shopping Spree

Columms: Stephen Harper’s Two – Minute Shopping Spree

By David Murray. Since September the Conservative Government under Stephen Harper have pushed their agenda with record speed. It has taken Canadian civil rights back 50 years . It is almost like he just won a two-minute shopping spree at Walmart and he has only that much time to throw everything in his shopping cart before the New Democratic Party settle on their new leader in March of 2012.
It is like he is trying to get everything he did not get passed since 2006 rammed through , no matter who it hurts. And he is not finished yet!

Instead of going after these items that your majority would let you do anyway, like putting someone in jail for growing six pot plants, why not try and solve some real problems. How about child poverty; lower tuition for students; family sustaining jobs instead of 3-part time minimum wage jobs? How about women’s equality and pay equity … social services? Why are you not tackling these problems. What is your agenda?
Are you trying to cripple our medicare with more and more privatization and downloading on the provinces? Canadians have had enough and if the election had lasted one more week you would not have had your majority , and possibly not even a minority. That is how close Jack Layton came. Another 20-25 seats, which was very attainable, and you would have been relieved of your command. You know what happens to three time losers in politics (three minority governments).
Canadians have you on the run and remember what happened to “Iron Heel” Bennett when he went against the people in 1935. He was swiftly thrown from office never to be seen from again.
As a Canadian citizen I urge you to do your due-diligence. Do not be a baby and try and run the country into the ground just because you think you can. Three bills in particular were passed and by the end of this calendar year, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan (York-Simcoe, Ont.) said he expects at least three more to be given royal assent.
These are: bill C-13, the Second Budget Implementation Bill; C-18, ending Wheat Board monopoly; and C-20, increasing seats in the House of Commons. Bills C-13 and C-18 are currently in the Senate, and Bill C-20 is at the report stage in the House of Commons.
One bill which will bring in sweeping changes in scale and scope will be the new mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. Growing five marijuana plants to sell the drug would automatically bring six months in jail .
Other legislation the Conservatives have introduced will include repealing the requirement to register non-restricted firearms (long-guns), and, despite being very outspoken on the question of crime, Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems far from eager to discuss the legislation he’s promised to pass within 100 days of taking office — legislation that will allow online spying without a warrant.
The proposed legislation will force every phone and Internet provider to allow “authorities” to collect the private information of any Canadian, at any time, without a warrant.
Stephen Harper’s legislation will be:
Warrantless: A range of ‘authorities’ will have the ability to invade the private lives of law-abiding Canadians and our families using wired Internet and mobile devices, without justification.
Invasive:The laws leave our personal and financial information less secure and more susceptible to cybercrime.
Costly: Internet services providers may be forced to install millions of dollars worth of spying technology and the cost will be passed down to you.
Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has repeatedly voiced her concerns about online spying, and has called for strengthened oversight and privacy safeguards in the bills.
Any proposals to expand telecommunications surveillance must be based on a clear need for new powers, which must be demonstrated by verifiable evidence. And these new powers must include comprehensive internal controls, clear oversight, meaningful deterrents, and a system of enforcement.
Harper is planning on sharing that information with the US, thereby selling out Canadian sovereignty.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sustainable BC

Sustainable BC

Welcome to Sustainable BC
British Columbians live in a land of immense possibilities. We are blessed with a magnificent landscape, a rich resource base, a moderate climate, and resilient, hard-working people.
We have not always been wise in our stewardship of this incredible endowment. As the province industrialized, we damaged the ecosystems upon which all life depends, stressed local communities, depleted forests and fisheries, paved much of our best agricultural land, and polluted air, water, and soils. Today B.C. has the highest levels of income inequality and child poverty in Canada. Our forestry sector is in crisis, some wild fish stocks are at the point of collapse. Economically, socially and environmentally, our current path is not sustainable.
We can do much better. At its last convention, the B.C. NDP unanimously adopted Sustainable BC as its vision for our province. As British Columbians we are dedicated to building a sustainable society that nurtures creative and resourceful people and communities, a clean and productive environment, and a modern, vibrant, and diversified economy.
How this vision can become reality is described in the Sustainable BC movie at this website: we hope you can take a few minutes to watch it. This website also offers ideas as to what Sustainable BC might look like. It provides principles that could guide us on the journey toward sustainability, and suggests tools and policies that could turn vision to action.
But no individual, group or party has all the answers; we all must work together to accomplish a Sustainable BC. So, please join us in this journey by contributing your ideas. Dream big, be bold. Tell us how this vision of sustainability relates to your life and work. Tell us of projects in BC or elsewhere that could provide models for our journey toward sustainability and a bright future for all British Columbians.
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For First Time On Record, Canadians May Be Wealthier Than Americans

Canada, U.S. GDP: For First Time On Record, Canadians May Be Wealthier Than Americans
Us Canada Gdp
The Huffington Post Canada First Posted: 12/24/11 10:58 AM ET Updated: 12/24/11 11:49 AM ET

This year, for the first time on record, Canadians may have exceeded their American neighbours in wealth.
According to estimates from the IMF, flagged by Kevin Carmichael at the Globe and Mail, Canada’s gross domestic product per person is on track to be $51,147 per person in Canada, compared to $48,147 in the United States.
It’s a reflection of the persistent weakness of the U.S. economy since the financial crisis began in 2008, and the relative strength of Canada’s economy, which has benefited from high commodity prices and surging demand in developing countries.
And according to available data, it may be the first time in history that Canadians have been richer than their brethren south of the border.
Historical data shows the U.S.’s per capita GDP in 1900 was $4,096 in constant U.S. dollars, while Canada’s was $2,758. In 1950, the U.S. was at $9,753, while Canada was at $7,047. By 1973, the U.S. led Canada $16,607 to $13,644.
Canada’s relative strength is a surprise to many economists, who have been warning that the country's lagging productivity gains would hurt its economic growth in the long term.
Data from Statistics Canada shows that, even as Canada’s GDP growth has exceeded the U.S.’s by five per cent over the past 14 years, its productivity per worker has shrunk more than 15 per cent relative to U.S. workers.
So how can Canadians be getting richer when their productivity has fallen so far behind the U.S.?
As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, economists may have overstated the importance of productivity growth -- particularly for a commodities exporter like Canada. The Journal cites a report from Statistics Canada suggesting Canadians may not have to be as productive as Americans in order to enjoy a higher standard of living -- simply because we’re getting more money for the things we sell.
“When nations trade, there are other routes that can raise living standards,” Statscan’s Ryan Macdonald writes. “Trading nations can transform their stock of assets (knowledge, capital, resources) into the goods and services they want to consume by exchanging them with other nations. If the terms at which one nation can trade with another improve, then that nation can transform its exports into a greater flow of imported goods and services, thereby increasing its living standards.”
In other words, because the price of oil and other commodities has gone up, we’re able to buy more for what we produce -- essentially overcoming our lagging productivity.

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Canada's household debt burden climbed to yet another record high in the third-quarter, prompting Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to call it "the greatest risk to the domestic economy." At 150.8, Canada's debt-to-income ratio is now higher than in the U.S. or the U.K. Meanwhile, household net worth fell, which, as many observers have warned, has made Canadians more vulnerable to adverse economic shocks.

Alexandra Taylor And The Occupy Movement In Florida

Guest Columns: Alexandra Taylor And The Occupy Movement In Florida

It’s hard to get into the holiday spirit in South Florida, simply because it’s so different weather-wise from a Vancouver Christmas; there are no hot chocolates whilst strolling the streets of downtown and admiring the beautifully decorated store windows after ice skating in Robson Square.
I do miss Vancouver so much and bundling up in my favourite ugly Christmas sweater is a tradition I abandoned this year with some sadness. It’s bittersweet until I remember the family of Marie from Haiti who came to America as a refugee many years ago for a better life. She worked two jobs, and her and her husband saved up enough money to buy a house for their four children – one of whom was a twenty years old young man serving in the Marines. He proudly put his life on the line for a country they believed had given them the much-coveted American dream. Instead, the were given a mortgage they should never have been given, as it was clear that they would never be able to pay it off under the terms. Sweet talked into it, they were the victims of so called “robo-signing” and their house was eventually sold at auction for $100. Somehow it didn’t quite go through – they were never given any real answers.
We stood while her family members told of the ordeal they’d had with Wachovia, Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. We marched to three of these disgusting criminal enterprises and gathered outside of Wells Fargo. Not long after, a security guard emerged from a building that seemed so mighty next to our rag rag group of less than 200 and told us that we’d have to get off of the steps. We did, but that wasn’t good enough — we had to move very far back onto the sidewalk, further than what their property line obviously was. Some of the crowd booed, another woman yelled “You can’t do that! I want MY street! This is MY sidewalk!” She was right. But the now famous “mic check” saying in the Occupy vernacular rang out from a member of the crowd: “She is not the enemy. Don’t treat her like one.” And we repeated it. And then someone, whom I’m proud to say was my own mother and life-long unionist Pauline who recently joined the movement after seeing how much I believed in in, said “She’s just a victim of it all as well!” The security guard held her hands up in the air, shrugged and looked slightly embarrassed and apologetic to the crowd.
Why? Because that security guard is one of us as well and she knows it. Victims of corporate greed and so-called democratic systems that do not represent the people who elected them are everywhere. Just because people don’t march on the street to protest the injustices does not mean that there aren’t millions of us who aren’t outraged with the greed with every fibre of their beings and that there aren’t millions of us who don’t believe in the same things: equality, egalitarianism, and, above all, human dignity. To put food on the table for our families or gifts under the tree for the kids, sometimes people have to take jobs they wouldn’t normally take but do anyway to fulfill life’s duties. It’s hard to turn down a paycheque when you need to keep a roof over your head. The security guard wasn’t murdering people, selling drugs, or pilfering from people. This is not about righteous indignation. It’s about humanity. And that’s the very core of this movement. The anger lies with the people above her who put the masses in this position, not with her.
Marching down the ritziest street in Fort Lauderdale, the looks we got from people were terrible — I have never been looked at like such scum in my life. There were the occasional “thumbs up” signs and clapping, but most of all, we were looked at like garbage. A group comprised of students, veterans, teachers, minimum wage employees. Marching together as one, despite the vast differences in our socioeconomic backgrounds, races, and countries. One of the most beautiful things we can do as people is come together to fight a common enemy and set of circumstances in a peaceful fashion. To be looked at with distain was hard for some to take, but I found it humorous simply because it was so shocking to me.
Keeping wages low, hiking tuition to the point that people live their entire lives trying to pay off their student debts, let alone mortgages, ensures that the common, every day personn will continue to march on the treadmill of this manufactured design of life that we’ve been told to live out to the benefit of no one but the fat cats in current governments and massive corte portions. They loot, give themselves huge bonuses, destroy the earth by raping it of its resources, leaving behind wars, ruined lives, devastation in the quite literal wake of their 200 foot yachts as they sip on Mai Thais in the Med. What do they care? They won’t be around to deal with the aftermath of their crimes. Their generation will never reap what they sow. We will. Very few leaders really care about the next generation. We all know Stephen Harper doesn’t: in a world where Canada is one of its hopes and beacons of morality, he’s Canada’s shame because he is not acting in accordance to the stellar international reputation that we have earned over the decades. He’s Mulroney 2.0. That’s why we all loved Jack so much. And that’s why we need a new leader who will. An NDP leader has yet to be voted on, but whomever wins, we must show confidence in them and unite so that we can form the government in 2015. It’s a dream that is very much possible and still so alive — perhaps more so now than ever.
There’s been a recent development in that family will be allowed to stay in their home until January 3rd, when the case goes back to Broward County courts who have thus far been unsympathetic to the family. Where things go from there is anyone’s guess, but if enough bad publicity is paid to Wells Fargo, perhaps this family will get what is rightfully theirs: their home and their American dream.
The situation down here isn’t good at all. October 15 was Global Day of Action in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of Occupy Wall Street, and I feel like some of the Occupations have lost their way and allowed other causes to overshadow the SOLIDARITY we must show to our fellow humans. I used to have an unfavourable view of our American cousins, because of what happened with Iraq, Afghanistan, and a myriad of other mostly international incidents. But those are not the American people: those are the people who were elected based on lies. The American media is bought and paid by the people who fund the elections of the people who go on to commit these atrocities. This is not tin-foil hat paranoia, but a very true fact. Regardless of your views of the United States, please remember the people, where this started and why, and stand in solidarity with them. I don’t just mean Marc Emery, either.
And please also as we celebrate these next few joyous days with our loved ones how lucky we are to live in Canada, to be Canadians, and to have a right to vote. Exercise your right, because it DOES count. Make the new year a bright one by registering to vote, get involved in something you believe in, and make a change. You’ll change the world and yourself in the process. Everyone wins.
Alexandra Taylor Pitt Meadows Today Guest Columnist
The article is a bit gloomy for the holiday season, I realize, but the situation is. But I feel fortunate to be here and to tell these stories to people. It matters that people in Canada care. So thank you for the platform – it means a lot to them and to me. Merry Christmas.

Do All Conservatives Support Exporting Cancer Causing Asbestos?

Do all conservatives support exporting cancer causing asbestos?