‘The challenge we face here is the challenge of converting small-c conservatives into big-c Conservatives. It’s certainly not an insurmountable obstacle. I think we will see a growth in support (among ethnic voters). Whether it’s small growth or big growth, these efforts have to continue. We cannot be a party simply of old–stock Canadians. That is not feasible. It’s not right.‘
-Stephen Harper on courting the ethnic vote, The Ottawa Citizen [Ottawa, Ont] 16 Sep 2008: A.5.
“…we do not offer [refugees] a better health-care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. I think that’s something that new and old stock Canadians can agree with.”
-Stephen Harper, Globe and Mail leaders’ debate, Sep 18, 2015
Maybe he’s [sadly] right people will agree with him. Leaving aside the ethical question of whether one human being deserves less what our medical system can offer over another because of newness, I’m pretty sure refugees settled in Canada are, by definition, “new-stock” Canadians.
Anyway, the ethnic outreach continues…
P.S. What’s an “old-stock” Canadian? I don’t know, it’s not a term my generation (Generation X) and younger uses, but Barbara Kay, in a May 6, 2009 piece in the National Post, defined it as “Christians or Canadians of Christian heritage.”
Today President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement proposed slashing the federal public sectors paid sick leave from 15 days a year to 5.
This prompted this tweet from Andrew Coyne:
Which got my interest.
Now as far as I can see the case against the federal public sector having 15 paid days a year in sick leave is that the absentee rate – or days workers call in sick – in the private sector averages to 8 times a year. And thus, ipso facto, something must be wrong with the public sector. Because Adam Smith and other infallible invisible hands.
What it doesn’t tell you however, is whether public sector workers are taking paid sick days on days they aren’t sick or if private sector workers are coming to work sick.
In other words, the public & private sector absentee rate gives us no clue as to how many days a year a person is, in a medical sense, sick.
Which is a question for the medical community, not businessmen or politicians.
Calculating this is very difficult and depends much on demographics and, indeed, the nature of one’s job. Public health workers, who are exposed daily to disease, should be expected to be sick more days than a closed accountant’s office with 2 or 3 employees working in separate rooms.
But the Centre for Disease Control does have some useful, and suggestive, statistics which the kids on the street call Table 2. Mean physically unhealthy days in last 30 by demographic characteristics, chronic disease conditions, and risk factors. Adults >= 18 Years, BRFSS 2009. I encourage you to examine the table in full, as it’s usefully divided into gender, age, ethnicity, economic status and so on. But the gist is this survey found the average person, whether through illness or injury, felt unwell 3.6 days out of 30.
What does this tell us about sick leave? Well, the average [federal] public sector worker called in sick 1.25 days every 21 working days of a month. The average private sector worker, 0.66 days.
Let’s adjust 3.6 days so that it reflects, approximately, how many working days per month a person feels unwell. Which by my calculator is 2.52 days per 21 working days.
In other words, and by extrapolation, public sector workers went to work feeling physically unwell 1.27 days per 21 working days per month and private sector workers 1.86 days.
Which is suggestive that cutting sick leave has nothing to do with public health and more to do with other factors.
Such as, perhaps, spite.
It’s been known for the past few years that the Harper Government would utilize the tools of the Canadian Revenue Agency in order to harass the bearers of bad news [as it relates to Conservative party policies].
The labour movement is one. But most notably, the environmental movement.
Bruce Campbell writes on this today in Behind the Numbers blog over at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The tactics employed, how CRA’s rules are [likely] being retroactively changed to fit with the Tories predetermined outcome. A sample:
While this government is focused on reducing so called red-tape for for-profit businesses, it has imposed an onerous and seemingly interminable administrative burdens on the charitable organizations it chooses to audit.
These audits are highly intrusive—requesting information that has no discernible relevance to an organization’s charitable activities. They demand the most miniscule of financial details. They force charities to devote considerable resources to compiling successive rounds of information, diverting from their policy and other charitable work, and incur substantial, sometimes prohibitive, legal costs.
In some cases they have demanded charities turn over all e-mail correspondence, a measure which has major privacy implications.
But towards the end comes this newsflash:
While the targeting of environmental NGOs has received prominent media attention, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), whose work covers a broad range of public policy issues, is also being audited.
The CCPA is a registered charity. Like charities have for many decades it produces original research on and speaks to public policy – mostly on economics but on a variety of subjects.
Much like the Fraser Institute.
Which is not, to public knowledge, being audited. And all things being equal, they bloody well should be. But as we all know, some animals are more equal than others.
The Conservatives, and conservatives, may find it politically convenient to utilize the tools of the State to make life difficult for those that disagree with them and have the facts to back them.
But this is short-term, short-sighted expediency. In the long game they are playing with fire. For one, they might not be in power in a few years time. Precedents have been set, rules have been changed. If I was the Fraser Institute I might be tempted to lay low for the next couple years. But what I would really do would be to stand in solidarity with the CCPA. For despite differences they are the same sort of organization, serving the same purpose. For the day may come when CRA auditors go through their accounts with a fine-toothed comb (and maybe finally we’ll find out who their donors are).
The Fraser Institute cannot condemn the CCPA without condemning themselves.
Second, the Tories, by redefining the rules so that the outlets for disagreement and dissent are increasingly narrow and toothless, are pushing a lot of people towards radicalism. Ordinary people.
It’s not healthy for our democracy.
That’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper weighing in on Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons with Peter Mansbridge. In addition to this interview, Mr. Harper was equally unambiguous with the Globe:
Mr. Harper said he has no doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. “There is absolutely no doubt they are lying,” Mr. Harper said, referring to statements by Iran that the nuclear program is for peaceful uses.
“The evidence is just growing overwhelming. This is not, as was the case of Iraq, merely the opinion of allies,” he said.
It echoes, almost note for note, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s. As I’ve mentioned before it echoes, almost note for note, Harper’s certainty in 2003 that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons:
I noted that there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein operates programs to produce weapons of mass destruction. Experience confirms this. British, Canadian and American intelligence leaves no doubt on the matter. Saddam Hussein’s continued non-compliance and non-cooperation with the United Nations only confirms this information.
This runs contra the opinion of the IAEA, U.S., and Israeli military and security services. What’s more, U.S. and particularly Israeli military and security officials are no longer being subtle about their disagreement with leaders like Harper and Netanyahu on Iran.
[H]ead of Israel’s military, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, declared that the Iranian leadership had not yet made a decision to build nuclear weapons, that it was unlikely to go this “extra mile”, and was composed of “very rational people”. “Decisions must be made carefully out of historic responsibility but without hysteria,” added Gantz in a not-too-subtle dig at his political masters.
[F]ormer head of Shin Bet (Israel’s MI5), described Netanyahu and Barak as “not fit to hold the steering wheel of power“. He went on: “I have observed them from up close … They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off … They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race.”
Dagan’s predecessor, Efraim Halevy, has said “it is not in the power of Iran to destroy the state of Israel”, and that “the growing Haredi radicalisation poses a bigger risk than Ahmadinejad”. Then there is the current head of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, who is said to have told an audience of Israeli diplomats in December that a nuclear-armed Iran would not constitute an “existential threat” to Israel.
The U.S. military leadership is also circumspect:
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said in a television interview that it was “not prudent at this point” to attack Iran, and “a strike at this time would be destabilising”.
But in a comment likely to fuel speculation about Israel’s military plans, he added: “I wouldn’t suggest we’ve persuaded them that our view is the correct view.” The two countries were having a “candid, collaborative conversation” which was continuing, he said.
His concerns were echoed by William Hague, the British foreign secretary, who said it was “not a wise thing at this moment” for Israel to launch military action against Iran.
All of this says a lot about Benjamin Netanyahu. But it also says a lot about Stephen Harper. In fact this, more than any other questionable thing he’s done while in power, reveals the most about the man’s soul. And it is, in my opinion, truly frightening.
It speaks to a black and white, Manichean worldview. It speaks to the dismissal of the advice of experts. It speaks to governing by faith…to whatever end.
This is social conservatism at its absolute, dangerous worst.
At it’s hypocritical worst.
“As a concerned Israeli citizen who lives in the state of Israel with his family and all of his children and grandchildren,” he said, “I love very much the courage of those who live 10,000 miles away from the state of Israel and are ready that we will make every possible mistake that will cost lives of Israelis.”
It’s very easy to be brave when you don’t have skin in the game.
It really speaks to how the Harper Government[tm] makes decisions from top to bottom on anything.
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro said his party had no role in the misleading calls in Guelph. “The Conservative Party of Canada does not place intentionally misleading calls to voters. We simply do not,” Del Mastro said.
For a while now, there’s been a dirty-trick rumour in circulation: that organized callers have been phoning Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s constituents, leaving the false impression he is leaving politics and they would need a new MP soon.
Eventually, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan admitted that this was being done on an organized basis by the Conservatives.