Stephen Harper

Conservative candidate on C-51: Civil liberties? “Folks, that’s not the country we live in”

What country do Canadians live in then?

At Sunday’s Calgary-Signal Hill all-candidates debate, Conservative candidate Ron Liepert responded to criticisms of the Conservatives’ controversial Bill C-51 by suggesting “civil liberties” and “freedom” are not the most pressing issues facing the country in light of “criminal activities.”

“I know there’s a whole group of people including a couple of the speakers here tonight who talk about civil liberties and about the freedom of having the right to pretty much choose to do what you like,” Liepert told voters.

“Folks, that’s not the country we live in.”

Liepert, a former Progressive Conservative Finance Minister in Alberta, added that C-51 is needed because criminals “had too damn many rights”:

“We live in a country where for too long those who were involved in criminal activities had too damn many rights and so what we’ve done with this particular bill is ensure that the police and authorities have the ability to pursue and prosecute where necessary and I’m fully in favour of Bill C-51.”

C-51 has previously been pitched as an anti-terrorist measure, not a measure to deal with “criminal activities” in general.

Statistics Canada’s latest data shows crime in Canada has been dropping for 20 years – so it’s not entirely clear what utility curbing civil liberties would serve given law and order appears to be improving even without draconian measures:

C-51 has been criticized as unconstitutional by a long list of legal experts, civil liberty groups, libertarians, gun owners, business leaders, a Conservative MP and even four former Progressive Conservative and Liberal Prime Ministers.

Last year, Liepert told CBC Radio that supporters of solar and wind energy are “extremists” who live in a “dream world.”

Source: Press Progress

Human Rights Activist To Be Crucified & Beheaded By US Ally

Source: The Free Thought Project

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – A young Saudi Arabian man arrested as a teenager, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, will be decapitated and then crucified, after his death penalty appeal was denied.

Ali was arrested for taking part in an anti-government protest in 2012, when he was only 17 years old. He was allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession, and was sentenced to death in May 2014, according to anti-death penalty charity Reprieve.

The authoritarian Saudi regime in the midst of a bloody crackdown, in the wake of the Arab Spring, came down upon Ali with swift brutality. Ali objected to the use of his forced confession being used to sentence him at trial, but no investigation was ever undertaken into the matter.

According to a report by the International Business Times:

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr’s name is well-known eastern Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of the country’s Shia minority and the scene of a burgeoning protest movement.

Ali, 21, is the nephew of Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was jailed and sentenced to death for his fiery speeches against Saudi Arabia’s ruling House of Saud dynasty, which has controlled the Arabian Peninsula since the 1930s. Sheikh al-Nimr was detained and then sentenced to death on terrorism charges as well as “waging war on God” for his speech during anti-government protests in Qatif, a city that saw massive street protests followed by a bloody crackdown by the Saudi authorities in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Ali’s charges ranged from explaining how to give first aid and encouraging protests with his BlackBerry, to targeting security patrols and being part of a terrorist organization, charges which he vehemently denies.

A sham “trial” was held, with Ali being given no attorney, to provide legitimate cover for the state persecution of political dissent. His case is meant to serve as a warning to anyone willing to speak out against the brutal and authoritarian House of Saud.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a Sunni monarchy under a strict interpretation of Islam, Wahabbism, while those that live in al-Ahsa and al-Qatif districts in the country’s eastern province, which also contains the bulk of the kingdom’s oil, are predominantly Shia. The persecution of Shia in Saudi Arabia is rampant, as they are often portrayed as heretics or agents of Iran, the other major regional power.

The beheading and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr speaks to the implicit nature of the House of Saud. This brutal regime has beheaded more people than ISIS in the past 12 months, and yet this is the choice for a strategic geopolitical ally for the U.S. government. Perhaps Americans should be wary of any U.S. politician that supports such a tyrannical regime.

Electoral Platform of the Communist Party of Canada

Create Jobs and Increase Wages!

Make full employment and full-time jobs a top priority.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive “Jobs First” strategy based on massive public investments to increase value-added jobs in manufacturing and secondary industry, to rebuild & upgrade Canada’s public and municipal infrastructure, to strengthen social programs and environmental protection, and to build affordable housing.
Raise the wages of workers.
  • The real value of wages have stagnated or fallen over the past 25 years while labour productivity has grown almost 40%
  • Raise the minimum wage to $20/hour; ban “two-tier wages” for new hires.
  • Legislate a 32-hour work week with no loss in take-home pay and no loss in service to the public. Ban compulsory overtime, and legislate minimum four weeks annual paid vacations.
Guarantee decent benefits for all
  • Guarantee decent benefits for all, including part-time, home-based and contract workers.
  • Dedicate the entire EI fund to jobless workers – set EI benefits at 90% of previous earnings for all workers through periods of unemployment, and include coverage for first-time job seekers.
  • Enact a fair wage policy and full pay and employment equity for women workers.

Expand Universal Social Programs – End Poverty

  • Act to combat poverty, especially among Aboriginal peoples, new immigrants, women, youth, seniors and persons with disabilities.
  • Ban “workfare” and introduce a liveable guaranteed, annual income.
  • Protect and expand the universal public pension system, including substantially higher CPP benefits.
  • Enact early voluntary retirement at the age of 60.
  • Re-establish and expand funding to provinces earmarked for health, education, social housing and welfare, and enhance all-Canada standards, while ensuring that Quebec retains control and administration of its own programs.
  • Establish a publicly financed and administered system of universal, quality, affordable childcare with Canada-wide standards.

Peace and Disarmament

  • Adopt an independent Canadian foreign policy of peace and disarmament, and for environmental sustainability.
  • Immediately end Canadian participation in the war in Iraq and Syria, and the internal conflict in Ukraine, and oppose any new military aggression.
  • Respect international law, including the sovereignty of all states – reject imperialist policies of “regime change” and nuclear first-strike.
  • Oppose the weaponization of space and militarization of the Arctic.
  • Support the global abolition of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
  • Get out of the NATO and Norad alliances. Scrap the planned purchase of fighters and warships, and reduce the military budget by 75%.
  • Convert military to civilian jobs – end military exports from Canada. Oppose Israeli apartheid – support a just peace in the Middle East based on total withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the formation of an independent, viable Palestinian state.
  • Cancel Third World debts.

Nationalize Energy and Natural Resources

  • Adopt a People’s Energy Plan, including public ownership and democratic control of all energy and natural resource extraction, production and distribution.
  • Freeze and reduce energy exports.
  • Expand shared power flows among provinces through an East-West power and energy grid.
  • Block new development of the Alberta tar sands, and close these operations within five years, with jobs guaranteed for workers in more sustainable industries at equivalent wages.
  • Compensate the Aboriginal peoples and communities affected by the tar sands.
  • No to the Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, Keystone XL, Line 9 and Energy East pipelines, and to oil and gas exploration and shipping on the west coast.
  • Put a moratorium on the exploration and development of shale gas resources.

Public Ownership & Democratic Control

  • Keep public assets and services out of the hands of profiteers.
  • Reverse the privatization and contracting-out of public programs, services and energy utilities.
  • Stop P3s (Public-Private Partnerships).
  • Put the banking and insurance system under public ownership and democratic control.
  • Halt attempts to privatize Canada Post – restore home mail delivery services.
  • Reverse the privatization of Air Canada, PetroCanada and CN Rail.
  • Ban exports of fresh water.
  • Restore funding for the CBC, and increase public support for the arts and Canadian culture.

Keep Industrial Jobs in Canada

  • End the sell-out of manufacturing and secondary industry and strengthen the value-added manufacturing sector.
  • Expand employment in industry by nationalizing the steel and auto industries, building a Canadian car, and expanding rapid transit production.
  • Promote stronger machine tool, ship-building, agricultural implement and household appliance industries.
  • Use tariff, currency exchange and other trade controls, plus plant closure legislation with teeth (including fines or public takeover), to protect jobs.
  • Legislate a two-year notice of layoffs.
  • Increase employer-paid severance pay and retraining, and strengthen bankruptcy laws to guarantee protection for wages and pensions.

Expand Public Healthcare

  • Stop and reverse the sharpening attack on our public health system and universal Medicare.
  • Uphold the Canada Health Act, and close private, for-profit clinics and labs.
  • Expand the public Medicare system to include universal pharmacare, dental and eye care, and long-term care, home and continuing care.
  • Nationalize the pharmaceutical industry.

Tax the Greedy, Not the Needy

  • Enact progressive tax reform based on ability to pay!
  • Double the corporate tax rate, and impose taxes on 100% of capital gains.
  • End tax loopholes and shelters; collect deferred corporate taxes and jail corporate tax evaders.
  • Eliminate taxes on incomes under $35,000/yr.
  • Abolish the regressive HST and provincial sales taxes.
  • Impose wealth and inheritance taxes on estates over $1 Million.
  • Scrap the Tories’ income-splitting plan, which primarily benefits the wealthy, and pressures women to stay at home.

Global Environmental Justice – Act to Halt Climate Change

  • Adopt emergency legislation to slash greenhouse gas emissions, and support reparations to countries affected by capitalist-driven climate change.
  • Invest heavily to create jobs through renewable energy and conservation programs, and phase out coal-fired plants and terminate reliance on nuclear energy.
  • Substantially expand urban mass transit, and eliminate bus and transit fares.
  • Legislate stringent vehicle emission controls.
  • Fund high-speed rail as a better alternative to highways and airlines.
  • Ban “biofuels” derived from feed grains.
  • Impose heavy fines and jail terms against polluters and destructive corporate practices, such as clear-cutting, in-ocean fish farming, and deep-sea draggers.
  • Ban industrial development in parks.

Fair Trade & Sovereignty, not Capitalist “Globalization”

  • Get out of NAFTA and other pro-corporate ‘trade’ pacts.
  • Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement (CETA), the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) and other capitalist investment pacts which supersede and undermine locally-determined government policies and powers.
  • Stop and reverse the expansion of U.S. and other transnational control over key sectors of the domestic economy.

End “Security State” Laws

  • Stop the drive to a ‘police state’ in Canada – repeal C-51 and all other undemocratic and repressive “anti-terrorism” legislation.
  • Abolish secret detention without trial, “national security” certificates and the no-fly list.
  • Rescind the “border security declaration” which allows U.S. troops to enter Canada during “emergencies.” No to “preventive arrest” laws.
  • Ban racial profiling by the RCMP, provincial and local police.
  • Defend the right to free speech and dissent. Stop government spying, police violence and agents provocateurs, and the use of the courts to repress civil and democratic rights.
  • Strengthen parliamentary oversight of the armed forces and civilian control of the RCMP.
  • Disband CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).
  • Defend and expand on-line privacy rights. Strengthen and enforce punishments for police wrong-doing. Ban the use of tasers.

Justice for Aboriginal peoples, Acadians and Québec

  • Recognize the national rights of Aboriginal peoples and Québec to self-determination, up to and including secession. Draft and adopt a new, democratic constitution based on an equal and voluntary partnership of the Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit), Québec, the Acadian people, and English-speaking Canada.
  • Rescind the “Clarity” Act. Abolish the Senate. Remove vestiges of colonialism from all federal legislation; act now for just settlement of land claims, including natural resource-sharing agreements, without extinguishment of inherent Aboriginal title.
  • Implement the recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
  • Take emergency action to improve living conditions, employment, health and housing of Aboriginal peoples, and immediately end the racist and discriminatory cap on educational and health funding for treaty First Nations.
  • Support the demand by Aboriginal peoples for a full Public Inquiry into the tragedy of murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls across Canada.

Full Gender Equality NOW

  • Reverse the Harper attacks on women’s equality programs.
  • Close the wage gap – legislate full pay and employment equity.
  • Guarantee accessible and publicly funded abortion and reproductive rights services in every province and territory.
  • Establish a publicly financed and administered system of universal, quality, affordable childcare with Canada-wide standards.
  • Increase wages for child care workers.
  • Protect women’s right to EI maternity coverage; expand parental benefits to 52 weeks.
  • Fund equality-seeking women’s groups.
  • End all forms of violence against women and provide adequate funding for crisis centres and transition houses.
  • Repeal Harper’s new prostitution law (Bill C-36).

Fight Racism, Sexism and Homophobia

  • Oppose all forms of racism and discrimination.
  • Strengthen and enforce affirmative action and employment equity programs for Aboriginal peoples, racialized communities and persons with disabilities.
  • Ban all discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
  • Guarantee the rights of Aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities for equal access to social, medical and educational facilities and services.
  • Strengthen laws and enforcement against hate crimes and neo-fascist groups, and prosecute war criminals living in Canada.

A Democratic Immigration Policy

  • No one is illegal; stop deportations of immigrants and refugees, and reverse cuts to legal aid.
  • End Harper’s two-tier citizenship policy.
  • Repeal the racist quota system which discriminates against immigrants from developing countries.
  • Stop criminalizing refugees entering Canada.
  • Full redress for Chinese head-tax payers and their families.
  • Scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and the “Live-in Caregiver” Program, and provide a clear and accessible path to permanent residency and citizenship for all foreign and migrant workers in Canada.

A Future for Youth – Education for All

  • Increase federal support for universal, quality public education at all levels.
  • Rollback and eliminate tuition fees for post-secondary education.
  • Stop the drive to ‘corporatize’ education, and protect free speech on campuses.
  • Shift from loans to grants for student assistance.
  • Significantly increase funding and access to training and apprenticeship programs.
  • Build better schools and colleges, not more prisons and “boot camps.”
  • Reject attempts to criminalize youth; reduce the age of consent to 14.

A Bill of Rights for Labour

  • Enshrine in the constitution the right of workers to organize, strike and bargain collectively, and to take collective political action.
  • Ban strike-breaking and scabbing.
  • Strengthen labour standards; block anti-labour “right-to-work” laws.
  • Place farm workers, domestic workers, and migrant workers under federal jurisdiction with full labour standards and the right to organize and bargain collectively.
  • Legislate a minimum of four weeks annual paid vacations.
  • Guarantee benefits for part-time, home-based and contract workers.

Housing is a Basic Human Right

  • Take emergency action to build 1 million units of affordable social housing over next 4 years!
  • Create direct and spin off jobs, while building new social, cooperative and non-profit housing for sale or rent.
  • Establish federal-provincial-municipal land banks.
  • Ban evictions, mortgage foreclosures and utility cut‑offs due to unemployment.
  • Support demands for meaningful rent controls.

Make Every Vote Count

  • Enact mixed-member proportional representation and the right to recall MPs.
  • Guarantee equal treatment for all registered political parties.
  • Scrap Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act. Amend the Broadcast Act to give equal time to all parties, so that voters can make informed choices.
  • Lower the voting age to 16.
  • Conduct comprehensive enumeration before every election, and strengthen legal action against all forms of voter suppression.
  • Dramatically cut spending limits for political parties.
  • Remove restrictions on the right of unions to donate to political parties; enforce the ban on corporate donations.
  • Members of Parliament to receive the average workers’ wages and benefits.

Support Family Farms – Defend Canada’s Food Sovereignty

  • Ensure Canada’s food sovereignty through policies that benefit family farms and fishers, including income supports – no more bankruptcies!
  • Restore the Canadian Wheat Board elected by prairie farmers, and re-establish single-desk grain sales.
  • Reduce rail freight rates.
  • Curb the power of agro-industrial monopolies; set price controls to reduce the cost of farm inputs.
  • Increase food safety inspections. Set price controls on staple foods for Northern communities.
  • Support organic farming; reduce the use of antibiotics, fertilizers, pesticides, and other potentially harmful farm inputs, and ban “terminator” seeds in Canada.
  • Require labelling of genetically-modified food products, and reduce the scale of the GMO food system.

A New Deal for Cities

  • Give constitutional status and wealth taxing powers to municipalities.
  • Return 50% of gas and road user taxes to cities.
  • Increase core funding for capital and operating costs of expanded mass urban transit.
  • Rebuild crumbling municipal and provincial infrastructure.
  • Reverse “downloading” which forces cities to pay for social programs.
  • Re-establish low-interest loans to cities and towns.

Refugee Crisis is a Crisis of Imperialism

The widely circulated photo of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was found on a beach in Turkey and whose family was “making a final, desperate attempt to flee to relatives in Canada even though their asylum application had been rejected” by the Harper Government, has caused widespread outrage and forced Western leaders to acknowledge that there is a “refugee crisis”.

In Canada, the leaders of the Liberal and New Democratic parties have used the news of Kurdi’s tragic death, along with the deaths of his five-year-old brother and his mother, to criticize the Harper Government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Trudeau and Mulcair have called on Canada to accept more Syrian refugees, while the Harper Government, with its lust for military action, insists on more illegal bombing raids in Syria and Iraq as the solution to the surge of Syrian refugees.

The real tragedy is the refusal of Western leaders to acknowledge the cause of the refugee crisis – Western imperialism’s genocidal and never ending wars on the people of the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.

There are now more refugees than at any time since World War 2, and the number of refugees has increased markedly since the start of the “Global War on Terror”. Wherever the U.S. and its imperialist allies have intervened, whether through direct military action or indirect proxy wars, economic sabotage, and coups, in the name of “democracy”, the “War on Terror”, or the “responsibility to protect”, death and despair have been forced upon millions of innocent people, who have been left no other choice than to abandon their native lands to embark on a dangerous future of desperate struggle.

In Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Korea, Vietnam, East Timor, Sudan, Ukraine, and elsewhere the livelihoods of millions have been destroyed by the forces of U.S. and Western imperialism.

In the 1980s, Afghanistan had a “genuinely popular government”, according to John Ryan, retired professor from the University of Winnipeg, that was implementing widespread reforms (Parenti, Michael. “The Terrorism Trap”. Page 56. City Lights Books, San Fransisco, 2002). Labour unions were legalized, a minimum wage was established, hundreds of thousands of Afghans were enrolled in educational facilities, and women were freed from age-old tribal bondage and able to earn an independent income. U.S. and Western imperialism, fearful of that kind of equitable distribution of wealth, supported the feudal landlords and fundamentalist mullahs to sow chaos across the country, bringing rise to elements that later formed al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Afghan people were once more dealt a severe punishment by the forces of Western imperialism following 9/11, despite a lack of conclusive evidence linking either the Taliban or al-Qaeda to the attacks. 30 years of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan have left the people of Afghanistan impoverished, traumatized, and desperate.

The conflicts in Libya and Syria are eerily similar to the Western destabilization of Afghanistan. In 2011, when the Arab Spring protests swept across the Middle East and North Africa, Western imperialism hijacked legitimate grievances of the masses as a pretext for intervention in the name of the “responsibility to protect” and “democracy promotion”.

Prior to the 2011 U.S./NATO intervention, Libya was among the wealthiest and most stable countries in Africa, with the continent’s highest standard of living. Housing was enshrined as a human right, education and healthcare services were free for all citizens, and the country was pushing to establish an African currency linked to gold to help end the endless cycle of debt and impoverishment of the African masses by Western imperialism. Under the cloak of the United Nations, Western imperialism, using the pretext of protecting the people of Libya from Gaddafi’s murderous rule, launched airstrikes on Libya and allied themselves with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Libyan extremists. NATO airstrikes killed hundreds of civilians and forced Libya back into the Stone Age; Gaddafi was mercilessly tortured and murdered by the rebels. Thousands have been killed as rival tribal and extremist factions, some now allied with ISIS, battling for control of the country.

The conflict in Syria has frequently been referred to as “Libya 2.0”. U.S. imperialism with the support of Israel, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf States, trained and financed “moderate” rebels to overthrow the secular and popularly supported government of Bashar al-Assad. The “Free Syrian Army”, i.e., the “moderate” rebels, has been virtually eliminated in the conflict despite millions of dollars in aid from the U.S. and its regional allies. FSA fighters have deserted to the ranks of ISIS en masse, itself a product of the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq that killed 1 million Iraqis. There is overwhelming evidence that the U.S. and its allies have been actively training and supporting ISIS elements since the start of the proxy war in Syria. It wasn’t until ISIS invaded Iraq with its new Toyota technicals, curtesy of U.S. imperialism, that ISIS was declared a threat to the world. Western imperialism changed its tactic from supporting ISIS to airstrikes on Iraq and Syria, with the support of other Western imperialist states, Turkey (which is also conveniently bombing anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters), Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf States, but without consultation with the Syrian government, Iran, or Hezbollah that have been fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda elements since the start of the conflict. Hundreds of thousands have died in the West’s proxy war against the Syrian government.

From Libya to Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Somalia, U.S. and Western imperialist interventions, coups, and sanctions have displaced and killed millions of people. Physicians for Social Responsibility estimates that in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan alone Western imperialist interventions have caused the deaths of 1.3 million people. It is no wonder then that hundreds of thousands seek asylum elsewhere; however, after traveling huge distances overland and on water, refugees find themselves abused, discriminated against, held in detention, or rejected from Europe, Canada, the U.S., and Australia.

More than 2, 500 have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, while the International Organization for Migration estimates that 30, 000 could die by the end of 2015.

Refugees attempting to enter Europe, even if they are granted asylum in a mainland European country such as Germany, have been met with police violence in Greece, Italy, and other countries on the Mediterranean that are the first landing points for boats sailing from North Africa and Turkey.

Greek riot police have beaten refugees protesting the failure of local governments to process their applications. Conditions are so poor for refugees that while waiting for processing newborn babies have died in Greece.

On the Macedonia-Greece border, where more than a thousand refugees are crossing daily, refugees that broke through the barbed wire fences were shot at with stun grenades, and the Macedonian police have treated refugees as rioters, according to Amnesty International.

Italian police forcibly removed African refugees camping out at the French border after France refused to grant them asylum. Hungary is building a fortified wall, similar to the barbaric wall that divides the U.S.-Mexico border, to stop refugees from crossing the border.

The thousands of refugees that seek asylum in Australia are detained in Australia’s detention facilities in Papua New Guinea and the small island nation of Nauru, dubbed the “Guantanamo Bay of the Pacific”. Refugees can be detained for several years in these facilities, where social workers have observed “profound damage” to those detained through “prolonged deprivation of freedom, abuse of power, confinement in an extremely harsh environment, uncertainty of future, disempowerment, loss of privacy and autonomy and inadequate health and protection services”. An Australian Senate investigation received reports of guards raping women on tape and sexually exploiting children as young as 2-years-old. Just as Britain refuses to assist drowning refugees in the Mediterranean out of fear that it will encourage more migrants to seek asylum, the unannounced policy of Australian authorities is to make refugees suffer abuse and inhumane living conditions to deter them from seeking asylum in Australia, as if Australian imperialism hasn’t inflicted enough suffering on the people of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia.

U.S. and Western imperialism is the root cause of the “refugee crisis”. Everyday men, women, and children are killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, U.S. and Western-backed militias in Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia, European and North American mining and oil conglomerates in Central and Western Africa, or are starved to death in Yemen by the U.S.-backed Arab blockade of the country. Until the genocidal aims of U.S. imperialism, with the support of Canada, Australia, the European Union, and regional allies, are defeated, the “War on Terror” will continue to make life too unbearable for working people in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to remain in their home countries.

Refugees Flee Imperialist War, Face Racism in Europe

From Liberation News

The U.S. government and other western imperialist powers are trying to deflect blame from a growing number of migrant and human rights organizations for their role in what is being labeled “the European refugee crisis,” which has become a growing humanitarian disaster.

According to new figures by the International Organization for Migration, over 332,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year alone in an attempt to reach Europe—nearly a 40 percent increase over the year before, which was already a record year for immigration into Europe.

Most of the refugees are coming from countries—like Syria—that are currently being militarily targeted by the United States and its allies, or from countries feeling the aftereffects of U.S. military intervention such as Afghanistan and Libya. Others come from countries that have not been militarily targeted by imperialism but suffer from the devastating effects of Western-imposed trade and economic conditions that have led to underdevelopment and poverty.

The IOM states that at least 2,636 people have died attempting to migrate to Europe, but these numbers could be much higher.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva said Friday that “200,000 migrants have landed in Greece alone,” making it the largest point of entry for migrants into Europe.

Just this past Monday, Greece’s coast guard reported that it had found 2,492 refugees at sea off the eastern islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Agathonissi, Farmakonissi, Kos and Symi in only three days.

According to the Associated Press, the vast majority of those arriving in Greece are Syrian and Afghan refugees who are not looking to make Greece their new home but instead see Greece as a first step in a long journey into more prosperous European countries like Germany or Austria. Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary have seen tens of thousands of refugees traveling through their countries.

(more…)

Jason Kenney Falsely Claims Canada is “the only country in the world” to Eliminate its Deficit

From Press Progress

Canada’s Defence Minister Jason Kenney is gaining quite the reputation for saying things that later prove untrue!

This year, Kenney claimed a Canadian frigate was “buzzed by Russian fighter jets,” but NATO officials later said the plane was 128 km away. He also tweeted photos of women in chains to drum up support for Canadian military actions in the Middle East, but it turns out that was a religious ceremony, not ISIS.

Well, here’s another yarn to add to Kenney’s long list of tall tales.

According to local media, here’s what Kenney had to say last week campaigning for Montreal-area candidate Wiliam Moughrabi (whose controversial dating advice has also landed him in hot water):

« Le Canada était le dernier à entrer en récession lors de la crise économique en 2008 et le seul pays au monde à avoir éliminer le déficit »

Don’t speak French? Here’s how that translates:

“Canada was the last to enter into recession during the economic crisis in 2008 and the only country in the world to have eliminated its deficit.”

Is that really true? Is Canada really “the only country in the world” to eliminate its deficit?

According to OECD data, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, Korea, Iceland, Luxembourg, Estonia and Switzerland are all currently in surplus.

And following the 2008 economic crisis, China, Russia, Germany and Korea eliminated their deficits before Canada.

Norway, on the other hand, never went into deficit.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Budget Office projects Canada will not balance its budget this year and will instead end the year $1 billion in deficit.

Although the Conservatives’ obsession with balancing the budget is more symbolism than good economics – reducing spending when the economy is weak can do more harm than good.

Either way, Canada is on pace for its eighth deficit in a row under Harper’s Conservatives.

US Intelligence Confirms US “Deliberately Helping ISIS”: “Bomb the Kurds Not ISIS”

From Global Research

Former Defense Intelligence Agency head Gen. Michael Flynn is not backing down from his claims that elements of the US government were aware of and supported the rise of jihadists in Syria as a means by which to overthrow its president, Bashar Assad.

As the US moves ever closer to a full-out invasion of Syria the lack of media interest in Flynn’s story is reminiscent of the one-sided (pro-war) coverage of the run up to the 2003 Iraq War.

Click the link for a special video report.

As Election Looms, Canada falls into Recession

From Marxist.ca

The Bank of Canada (BoC) has now acknowledged that the Canadian economy likely contracted by 0.6% from January to March, and by 0.5% from April to June. With this, they join a chorus of private-sector analysts in acknowledging what only recently seemed unthinkable – Canada, for the first time since the 2008-2009 financial collapse, has entered into a recession. This is a far cry from the Bank of Canada’s January forecast, which predicted that the economy would grow by 1.5% in the first half of 2015 and by 2.1% throughout 2015 as a whole.  This latter figure has now been reduced to an even more meagre 1% growth rate for all of 2015. In January, it was argued that “The negative impact of lower oil prices will gradually be mitigated by a stronger U.S. economy, a weaker Canadian dollar and the Bank [of Canada]’s monetary policy response.” Six months later, not a single one of these predictions have borne themselves out. In fact, they have all proven fantastically wrong. The bourgeois economists have shown yet again that they cannot see even one inch beyond their noses.

A new recession may serve as a shock to some economists, but for millions of working class Canadians it comes as no surprise. Indeed, so many of them find it hard to believe that the first recession ever really ended. In January of 2014, the Toronto Star wrote that “Despite what Statistics Canada says, just over half of Canadians believe the country is in recession, according to an annual outlook survey by Pollara.” This is despite the fact that the economy was then growing at a faster pace than it currently is. But how can they be blamed? The Star article continues: “Jobs are the big worry, the survey found. A record high of 34 per cent of Canadians surveyed, just over a third, are concerned an immediate family member will lose his or her job this year. That’s up from 25 per cent from last year’s results, and even higher than the 32 per cent registered following the 2008 recession.” Workers may not have complex methodologies, but they do have what no economic data could ever accurately capture – and that is called real life experience.

Contrary to the bewilderment of many mainstream economists, the Marxists have not been surprised. For years we analyzed the shaky basis of the so-called recovery in Canada and have underlined the inevitability of a new economic downturn at a certain point. In our political perspectives document for this year, in our analysis of the underlying features of the Canadian economy and the state of the world market, we concluded that “It looks like we’re set to enter a new round of crisis within the short term.” We highlighted the crisis in the oil sector, the high levels of consumer debt, capital hoarding and the housing bubble as all indicators that things were not set to get better, but much worse. This means that any serious analysis must start from the understanding that capitalism will be unable to provide improvements for workers for a prolonged period of time.

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The Worst: Canada’s Economy Under the Harper Regime

From Rabble

Speculation is intense that the unofficial election campaign we have already been experiencing for several months is about to become official: Ottawa is awash in rumours the writ may be dropped as early as this weekend, setting the stage for months of promises, accusations and photo-ops.

As always the economy will be the top issue. But with recent bad news, Conservative hopes of cashing in on their reputation as “the best economic managers” have suddenly become faint. Four straight months of falling real GDP, terrible export and investment numbers, and growing consumer pessimism, make their traditional chest thumping seem starkly at odds with the painful reality confronted by most Canadians. On September 1 we will learn if Canada is actually in an official recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth). Even if we’re not, our performance has been perpetually disappointing.

However, this gap between triumphalist rhetoric and grim reality did not suddenly appear. In fact, the evidence has been piling up for years — long before the current slowdown — that Canada’s economic performance under the Harper Conservatives has been uniquely poor.

To further investigate this dissonance, I have worked with my Unifor colleague Jordan Brennan to compile an exhaustive empirical comparison of Canada’s economic record under the Harper government, and compared that record to previous post-war prime ministers. The full 64-page study was released today, and is available here.

Here’s what we did: The performance of the economy under each prime minister was described on the basis of 16 conventional and commonly used indicators of economic progress and well-being. These 16 indicators fall into three broad categories, summarized as follows:

  • Work: Job creation, employment rate, unemployment rate, labour force participation, youth employment, and job quality.
  • Production: Real GDP growth (absolute and per capita), business investment, exports and productivity growth.
  • Distribution and Debt: Real personal incomes, inequality, federal public services, personal debt, and government debt.

These are not “touchy-feely” social concerns. These are the bread-and-butter indicators of real economic progress. All indicators are measured using annual data from 1946 through 2014, obtained from Statistics Canada and other public sources. Together these 16 indicators provide a composite portrait of overall economic performance and stability under each post-war government.

We considered the record of every prime minister who served at least a full year in office. (We didn’t think that John Turner had much chance, in 77 days, to really affect the country’s economic direction!) We compared changes, annual average rates of growth, or average levels for each variable, from the year each PM came into office, until the year they left.

If you have been swallowing the rhetoric about Conservatives naturally being the “best economic managers,” then these results are going to shock you.

For seven of the 16 indicators, the Harper government ranks last (or tied for last) among the nine post-war prime ministers. In six more cases, it ranks (or is tied) second-last. Among the remaining three indicators, the Harper government never ranks higher than sixth out of nine.

Considering the overall average ranking of each prime minister (across all 16 indicators), the Harper government receives an average ranking of 8.05 out of a worst-possible 9.0. That is dead last among the nine post-war governments, and by a wide margin — falling well behind the second-worst government, which was the Mulroney Conservative regime of 1984-93.

The very poor economic record of the Harper government cannot be blamed on the fact that Canada experienced a recession in 2008-09. In fact, Canada experienced a total of 10 recessions during the 1946-2014 period. Most governments had to grapple with recession at some point during their tenures — and some prime ministers had to deal with more than one. Instead, statistical evidence shows that the recovery from the 2008-09 recession has been the weakest (by far) of any Canadian recovery since the Depression. A uniquely weak recovery, not the fact that Canada experienced a recession at all, helps explains the Harper government’s poor economic rating.

This statistical review confirms that it is far-fetched to suggest that Canada’s economy has been well-managed during the Harper government’s time in office. To the contrary, there is no other time in Canada’s post-war economic history in which Canada’s economy has performed worse than it did under the Harper government.

For Canadians, the legacy of this government has been unemployment, insecurity and debt. It is definitely time for a change.

Bill C-51 in Action: Peaceful Paddle Lands Site C Opponents on Terrorist Watch list

From Common Sense Canadian

The following letter was written by the Paddle for the Peace Planning Committee in response to an article in the Toronto Star which stated that events like the upcoming Paddle for the Peace (July 11th) were on terrorist watch lists.

Dear Editor,

According to the Toronto Star (March 30, 2015), the Federal government has included the Paddle for the Peace on a terrorist watch list.  And here we thought we weren’t getting any attention.  We are in good company, though.  Also on the list is a physicians’ group opposed to child poverty, Mother Theresa, and a senior’s quilting group from Bugtussle, Saskatchewan.  In an effort to save our government security agencies time, not to mention the Canadian taxpayers a great deal of money, we’d like to present a brief resume of some of the key players on the Paddle for the Peace planning committee.  It is a rogues gallery indeed.

Retired primary school teacher Ruth Ann Darnell is the Chair of the Peace Valley Environment Association.  She has been working to save the Peace Valley from Site C since the 1970s.  Back then, Ruth Ann’s subversive activities were hampered by the fact the Internet was decades away from being created.  After a long day of teaching five year olds to read, she just never had the time or energy to trudge down to the Fort St. John library to research DIY incendiary devices.

After teaching her sixteen year old son to drive, local children’s clothing retailer Danielle Yeoman knew she was one of those rare talents every ISIS recruiting officer dreams of discovering.  She desired to really put her nerves of steel to the test.  But her terrorist career was over before it was started when she learned those torso belts packed with explosives add at least six inches to your waistline.  I mean really, there are limits to what a girl will do to support a violent fanatical cause.

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