Tag Archives: Harper

Harper Govt Says FU To Environment

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The Harper government just eliminated funding for one of Canada’s largest and most durable environmental groups, the Canadian Environmental Network.

Talk about a thrust to the jugular for the environment.

Meanwhile, several billion a year get pissed away on the Tar Sands …


Big Bucks Spent for Harper’s (Distr)Action Plan

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The Harper Regime has spent at least $136 million on advertising in the fiscal 2009-2010 period and it’s likely that this number will be trumped by the 2010-2011 figures. At least $54 million of this is for the Economic (Distr)Action Plan.

Ironically, this amount is nearly exactly what the big media conglomerates had their hands out for in the previous period, when they lost significant revenue from big advertisers like the car companies.  That’s right:  you’re paying hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize the very same companies that are jacking up our Internet rates and who are whining about subsidies going to the CBC.  Companies like Sun Media, Bell and Rogers.

Also, let’s not forget that the agency that works for the Cons is likely pulling in at least 15% of this spend and more likely 25% of this amount in various fees, including media placement, creative services, research, etc.  Based on some estimates, this amount alone is worth some $100 million dollars since the Cons have taken office.

This scale of campaign is unprecedented and exceeds the budget of some of Canada’s largest marketers, including Tim Horton’s, Bell and McDonald’s.

It’s hard to imagine that as they spread all of this cake around, the Cons aren’t getting super deep discounts with the rest of their ‘normal’ partisan attack ads that they probably just swap out with the (Distr)Action ads.

To sum up, it’s heart-warming to know that many others are waking up to the reality that Stephen Harper has taken a $60 billion deficit and turned it into a $60 billion marketing campaign.

And it’s a big friggin waste of money.

Canadians are sick of the (Distr)Action plan wasting our money.

We’re sick of the billions being OVERspent on planes we don’t need.

We’re sick of the waste that Harper is telling us we need in order to stay afloat.

Make it stop.

Get these guys out of the House as soon as possible.  They’re poisoning our government and our country with their lies.

Again, the irony isn’t wasted on me.  Most Conservatives keep repeating the lie that Canadians don’t want an election and we don’t want to waste $300-$400 million on an election, but many estimate that the Cons have spent at least this amount over the last few years on propaganda and we should probably expect a lot more over the next few months.

That said, I’ll gladly spend $300 million in Canadian taxpayer money so that billions more aren’t wasted on Harper boondoggles.

Here’s the original story:

OTTAWA – Taxpayers are shelling out $26 million over three months for all those Economic Action Plan ads the Harper government is airing on TV and radio.

A marketing specialist says the outlay is more cash than a big advertiser like Procter and Gamble would spend in a year in Canada.

The massive TV and radio buy is shared among three federal departments for slick ads that began airing Jan. 11 and wrap up by March 31. The ads have been hitting some of Canada’s priciest advertising real estate: the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and Hockey Night in Canada.

Human Resources and Social Development Canada has budgeted $14.5 million on three separate advertisements over nine weeks. The Canada Revenue agency is shelling out $6.5 million over 11 weeks, and Finance would only say its $5 million campaign runs during February and March.

All the ads link to the Economic Action Plan website which has drawn the ire of critics across the political spectrum for its partisan tenor.

The current run of television ads is also coming under fire, in particular a Finance department spot that features actors singing the praises of the Harper government’s 2009 budget plan.

“We’re getting ready for the future,” a student-like character tells the camera.

“The global economy is still fragile,” a francophone mother figure quickly adds.

“But we have a plan we can rely one,” chimes in someone dressed as a farmer.

A series of phrases in light lettering hint at specific measures in the plan: “Knowledge Infrastructure,” “Small Business Tax Cuts.” But they don’t explain how people can access those measures.

Critics say the ads are aimed at promoting the government when they should be giving citizens specific program information.

“There is a clear difference between an ad selling Canada Savings Bonds — or perhaps where (and) how to get a passport dealt with — than EAP ads,” said Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The federation recently resurrected Canada’s federal “Debt Clock” — last seen in the early 1990s — and Gaudet said “stopping the clock will involve scrapping this kind of advertising that smacks so much of partisanship.”

Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, called the dollars involved “huge.”

“A major advertiser like Procter and Gamble wouldn’t spend that within a year in Canada, it’s that big,” he said.

Annualized to about $100 million for a full year, “not even McDonald’s and Tim Hortons spend anywhere near that.”

Corporate giant Bell Canada spent $89.5 million on measured media in 2009, according to Marketing Magazine.

The Prime Minister’s Office, although it advises and must sign off on all government ad campaigns, referred The Canadian Press to recent committee testimony from a senior civil servant for comment.

Anne-Marie Smart of the Privy Council Office told the government operations committee last week the overall strategy is designed by the prime minister and his cabinet. All ads must be “aligned to government priorities” and must “address the information needs of Canadians.”

“All (EAP) advertising is aimed at driving people to the website,” said Smart. She added that the site itself “is not considered advertising.”

Total federal advertising cost taxpayers $136.3 million in 2009-10, including $53.2 million on the Economic Action Plan.

The 12-week total cost of the current campaign left opposition critics dumbfounded.

“This is an absolutely obscene amount of money to be spending, particularly promoting an ‘action plan’ with no action left in it,” said Liberal MP Mike Savage.

“This is an abuse of government resources. It’s offending Canadians, it’s confusing Canadians and it’s angering Canadians.”

Pat Martin of the NDP called it “tantamount to a blitzkrieg.”

“My God, they’re carpet-bombing the country with self-serving messages at the taxpayers’ expense.”

The spending totals come on the heals of news that Finance has set aside another $4 million to advertise the March 22 federal budget during this current fiscal year which ends April 1.

John Baird, the Conservative House leader, dismissed Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s complaints about the $4-million budget as relative chump change.

“If he wants to complain about a million here or four million there, he’ll have to respond why he wants to waste $300 or $400 million on an early, opportunistic election that no Canadian wants,” Baird said.

But Middleton the marketer said the surest sign of a pending election is the government’s own advertising blitz.

“It’s amazing how spending by departments that make you feel the government’s doing something goes up enormously before there’s an election called.”

Germany to be Carbon-Free by 2050

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Germany has always been known as a leader with wind and solar power collection – two of several options for renewable energies.

However, according to Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, there is a distinct possibility that Germany will have completely quit it’s reliance on carbon-based energy by the year 2050.

Here are some of details to consider:

  • “A complete conversion to renewable energy by 2050 is possible from a technical and ecological point of view,” Jochen Flasbarth, president of the Federal Environment Agency, told reporters earlier this week.
  • The transition would also create new jobs and increase exports of renewable energy technologies.
  • The country already employs some 300,000 in the renewable energy sector and is the world’s leader in installed photovoltaic capacity and second largest generator of wind power after the US.
  • Currently around 40% of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation, particularly coal-fired plants, but the Government has committed to cutting emissions 40% on 1990 levels by 2020 and 80-85% by 2050.
  • Meanwhile, the German authorities have finally agreed a two-step plan to reduce feed-in tariffs by 3% later this year.
  • The German Federal Network Agency says that 714 MW of solar capacity was installed in Q1 of this year, a ten-fold increase on last year. The change to the feed-in tariff is expected to calm the market but not lead to a collapse, according to media reports.

Going one step further, I started to browse the German Environment Agency web site and found that most of the articles are those that would make head-in-the-sand Conservatives and environment-deniers shriek:

  • “Germany met its Kyoto Protocol Climate Protection Obligations in 2008”
  • “Unecological subsidies cost 48 billion Euros in tax revenues every year”
  • “How to reduce Germany’s CO2 emissions by 40%”
  • “CO2 capture and storage is only an interim solution” (and not a real one, Steve)
  • “Climate protection fuels employment”

All of this goes to show that ‘necessity really IS the mother of invention’.  Germany’s not known for its natural energy resources – except for coal – so they’ve got to take care of themselves some other way.  And because Canada is sitting on the world’s biggest cess pool of crap some people call ‘oil’, we don’t bother investing in technology and energy supplies that might actually be sustainable.

Despite how distressing the situation is (and how much it makes me want to move to Germany), I can’t help but laugh at the image of Merkel and Harper in a literal wrestling match and exchanging fisticuffs every time they get together for a little $1.2 billion party.  But then, I suppose Merkel’s probably thinking ahead with ideas like “we’ll be selling these trolls everything they need over the next 50 years and we’ll pretty much own Canada”.

Conservatives Cave to Speaker’s Request

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The Stephen Harper Conservatives finally caved to the will of the people and allowed the opposition parties to have some level of access to documents related to the Afghan detainee issue.

More can be read here about this update.

Still at issue is how long the opposition will allow this regime to maintain its grip on power in Canada.  Will they read the documents and shrink away from this victory, guided only by polls and pundits as opposed to the will of the people of Canada?  Increasingly, Canadians would like to see an election held, if only to be given an opportunity to vote against these crooks (including the opposition parties who’s spinelessness needs to be addressed).

However, the odds are also pretty good that if Stephen Harper approves of the arrangement, there’s a loophole the size of Grand Canyon that will allow him to back out and be slippery as always.  Tragically, this decision will also give the Harper Cons another few months to pilfer the treasury, hand out money to the religious wingnut friends, appoint more lackies to the top tiers of Canadian policy institutions and trash Canada’s reputation on the international scene.

Please make it end and give us a party that cares!

Here Comes the Conservative Propoganda Machine

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Like clockwork, the Goebbels-like Conservative propoganda machine will be kicking into high gear over the next few days.

As Canadians are watching the Olympics (something I wish more of us would boycott), they’ll be pounded with ads from the Cons, err, ‘Canada’s New Government’.  The Cons effectively own CTV, given the volume of manipulative taxpayer-funded ads they run, and the CTV will be the source of most of the tracking of events for the Olympics.

(As a side note, as Canadians, we should all be demanding a stake in CTV given the millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on TV ads with this media monopoly).

When the ads come out, don’t expect any negative attack ads.

These ads will be all about touchy feely stuff, particularly the massive (and ridiculously unintelligent) tax savings being thrown around like silver dollars at a US bicentennial birthday party (believe me … it happened).

They’ll talk about Canada’s massive action plan that’s taking place across the country, even though most of it is repaving roads and changing a few doorknobs.

They’ll talk about how Canada needs to support our troops and how we need to encourage a safe, secure land free of terrorists.

They’ll talk about economic stability and their only hint of attack will be that we don’t want to use something as inconvenient as democracy to destabilize the country.

I’ll tell you what’s destabilizing:  Conservatives.

The province of Ontario and all of its municipalities are STILL dealing with financial shortfalls because of the Harris Conservatives, most of whom have been bounced out of provincial politics and who somehow stupidly got into federal politics.

What’s destabilizing is slashing a progressive and productive tax on consumption (the GST) by more than 30% from 7% to 5%.  Is it any wonder that we’re encountering structural deficits?  Jim Flaherty is entitled to run our country’s finances as much as Shamu should be running a sushi bar.

Think about it:  Conservatives have never been able to balance the books even though they claim they’re the ones for stability in rough economic times.  In the US, Americans acquired more debt under George Bush Jr. than all US presidents combined.  In the 1980s, the Mulroney government introduced the GST in order to finally stabilize the finances from fiscal recklessness.

But back to the ads.  I’ll tell you what they won’t talk about:

  • What they won’t talk about is how democracy is just a little inconvenience on their way to theocracy.
  • What they won’t talk about is how most Canadians can’t even benefit from these tax ‘incentives’ because you need an income before you can claim a deduction.
  • What they won’t talk about are the proto-Fascist knuckle-dragging Christian evangelists that are being parachuted into every single government department in the country, poisoning the public well for decades to come.
  • What they won’t talk about is how they saw the US coming and how they dropped the pants of all Canadians with their recent ‘trade break-through’ with the Americans.
  • What they won’t talk about is how they could care less about human rights if you’re brown, red, yellow, progressive or speak any other language than ‘Carbonish’.
  • What they won’t talk about is how world leaders won’t even shake Stephen Harper’s hand because he’s a massive liability to any politician.

But if you insist on watching, enjoy the games.

And get ready for the BIG BOO.