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Showing posts from 2012

Comedy Group Air Farce does Stephen Harper "Gangnam Style" parody

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The Canadian comedy group Air Farce has produced a parody of the ever-parodied "Gangnam Style" starring Craig Lauzon as Stephen Harper. The skit will be part of the Air Farce's New Year's Eve special on December 31. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives us the year in review through his version of the South Korean pop song by PSY "Gangnam Style". Some of the references will no doubt be quite foreign to non-Canadians. The video makes reference to several controversies that dogged the ruling Conservative Party. This includes the over-spending by Bev Oda, the deal for buying F-35 fighters, and budget cuts. Bev Oda is a former MP and cabinet minister. Oda was appointed Minister for International Cooperation on August 14 2007. After a series of controversies and scandals she resigned her seat in July of 2012 and was dropped from Cabinet. Besides having a recommendation for funding of a charitable group turned down by having a "not" inserted in a …

Tiny Machias Seal Island claimed by both the US and Canada

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Machias Seal Island is a tiny rock island 16 kilometres from the coast of the US state of Maine and 19 kilometers south of Grand Manan Island just off the coast of the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The island is claimed by both Canada and the US. Machias Seal Island has an area of just 8 hectares or about 20 acres. The island is a sanctuary for many seabirds including the Atlantic Puffin seen in the appended video. Visitors from around the world come to view the birds during the summer. There are no permanent residents of the island although there are lighthouse keepers who come in pairs and stay four weeks at a time. The lighthouse is operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. The original lighthouse was built by the British in 1832. There has been a lighthouse maintained ever since. Many think that the presence of the lighthouse will give Canada a legitimate claim to the island. The United States has never had a presence on the island except in 1918 during the First World War when …

President of Manitoba PCs youth wing resigns after racist comments

Brayden Mazurkiewich, who was president of the youth wing of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party has resigned after posting racist comments on Facebook. The Progressive Conservatives are the official opposition in the Manitoba government.
The president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, Ryan Matthews, in a press release said: "Comments by Progressive Conservative Youth President Brayden Mazurkiewich have been deemed conduct detrimental to our party. As PC Manitoba party president I have asked Brayden Mazurkiewich for his resignation and received it." Mazurkiewcih made some of the comments in response to news that a group of four First Nations again won a decision in their favor on the government sale of the Kapyong barracks site located in Winnipeg. The court ruled that the federal government had failed to consult, or even communicate adequately with the First Nations involved before selling the land. The First Nations group has been tr…

Will Harper finally pull the plug on the F-35 purchase?

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According to a December 6 article in the Ottawa Citizen, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper has finally decided to pull the plug on a planned purchase of 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets. An audit, soon to be released by KPMG accountants, will push the projected life-cycle cost of each plane to well above $30 billion. Some even put the figure at close to $40 billion. NOTE: Actually it turns out to be around $45 billion according to the KPMG report. Faced with the huge increases in costs, the operations committee of the federal Cabinet decided to scrap the sole-source program and begin looking at other sources, claims the Ottawa Citizen, citing an anonymous source familiar with the decision. The Prime Minister's Office denied a media report that the F-35 purchase was dead saying that the report was "inaccurate on a number of fronts". The statement also promised that the government would update the House of Commons on its seven point plan to replace the jets before …

Harper reverses policy and condemns Israeli settlement expansion

In a sudden reversal of Canada's unqualified support for Israel, Stephen Harper warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Canada does not support the expansion of settlements planned by Israel.
Perhaps the negative reactions to Harper's quite one-sided position of supporting everything Israel does changed Harper's mind. European nations and the United States were very critical of the Israeli plans, claiming that they could prevent any peace talks in the near future. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the Globe and Mail that Harper told Netanyahu that he believes the settlement construction would impair peace efforts between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. A Globe and Mail editorial earlier criticized the government for not condemning outright the Israeli settlement plans: Canada’s strident defence of Israel’s interests in the UN vote was legitimate but its zealous threats to punish the Palestinians damaged its ability in Arab eyes to…

Canada refuses to explicitly criticize the 3,000 new Israeli settlement housing units

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While other strong allies of Israel, even the United States, have strongly condemned the Israeli plan to build 3,000 settler homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, Canada refused to directly criticize the plan. The Jerusalem Post says that Canada is the "gold standard" of support for Israel: "There is not a government on the planet today more supportive of Israel than Harper's Canada." Canada, together with the U.S. with only a few other countries voted against granting Palestine observer status at the U.N. While this marks Canada as one of the few supporters of Israel globally on this issue, Canada has now gone even further to show that it is globally number one as a supporter of Israel. The White House and State Department both complained that the Israeli announcement would be an obstacle to resuming peace talks. Five European countries have removed their ambassadors from Israel in protest of the new plan. Germany had a "very negative view" of …

Canadian economy slows in third quarter of 2012

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In the July-September, third quarter, Canada suffered the largest drop in exports in three years. The economy grew at a 0.6% annual rate compared to 1.7% in the first two quarters. While Canada has recovered relatively quickly from the recession compared to some other countries, growth has become more sluggish in 2012. and particularly in the last quarter. While the Bank of Canada and many economists had been expecting a slowdown in the third quarter the results were even weaker than expected. Analysts predicted that even with the slowing economy, the Bank of Canada will still take the position that interest rate hikes may be needed down the road. Michael Gregory, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets said: "The Bank of Canada bias is very much a long-term bias so it's not going to be changing any time soon. But there is no question the Canadian economy is under-performing a bit here and if this continues past the turn of the year and the whole 'fiscal cliff' in th…

Federal food inspectors told to ignore contamination on carcaases not bound for Japan

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According to documents obtained by CTV News, Canadian meat inspectors were told to "ignore" contamination on carcasses for domestic consumption but to inspect meat bound for Japan extra carefully. According to memos sent to inspectors at XL Foods, the plant subject recently to Canada's largest ever beef recall, federal meat inspectors were told to give extra scrutiny for visible and intestinal contamination of the carcasses if the meat was bound for Japan but the contamination could be ignored for meat bound for Canadian consumers. A memo issued on Sept. 12, 2008 reads: “Our number 1 priority is to ensure this standard is met with Japan eligible carcasses.When stationed at this position, ensure that non Japan eligible carcasses are not inspected for spinal cord/dura-mater, OCD [other carcass defects] and minor ingesta (Ignore them).” The memo was sent again to inspectors in 20010 and 2011. The memo said that contaminants would be detected later in the process. However, th…

Vito Rizzuto, Mafia don, called to testify at Charbonneau corruption inquiry in Montreal

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A reputed Mafia don, Vito Rizzuto, has been summoned to appear before the Charbonneau Commission that is investigating corruption in Quebec. Quebec police were able to serve Rizzuto a subpoena on November 19th in Montreal. Rizzuto seems to have been in hiding since he returned to Canada in October after being released from prison in the U.S. Many believe that Rizzuto is head of the Sicilian Mafia in Canada. Sgt. Claude Dennis of the Quebec provincial police only confirmed that Rizzuto was met and the subpoena served. Rizzuto was known once as Montreal's Teflon Don because of his ability to avoid prosecution. His name has come up several times during discussion of corruption in Quebec's construction industry. Earlier testimony described how construction officials would collude to decide who would win which public contracts and at what price. The Rizzuto family would receive a 2.5 per cent cut of the contracts. Lino Zambito, a former vice-president of a construction firm, gave te…

Prime Minister Harper visits the Philippines

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Manila on Friday. He will meet with President Benigno Aquino on Saturday for trade and security talks Stephen Harper is the first Canadian Prime minister to visit the Philippines in 15 years. He arrived after a six day tour of India. Two-way trade between Canada and the Philippines is just $1.5 billion annually Increasing bilateral trade will be high on the agenda of talks between Harper and the Philippine president. A special characteristic of the Philippine economy is the revenue received from Filipinos working overseas. The sum last year was more than $20 billion. Filipinos in Canada are a considerable part of those who help their families back in the Philippines. The Philippines is now the largest source of immigrants to Canada. Tagalog, which along with English is a national language of the Philippines, is the fastest growing language in Canada. Many Filipinos come to Canada to fill low-skilled jobs, often through the temporary fo…

Defeat of Proposition 6 in Michigan will clear way for new Detroit, Windsor bridge

Proposal 6 would have required Michigan residents to vote on any new international crossing to be built between Michigan and Ontario, Canada. The measure was defeated by more than 60%. Proposal 6 was supported by billionaire Matty Moroun who owns the sole existing bridge, the Ambassador Bridge. The existing bridge is already 83 years old. Moroun spent more than $30 million on advertising to promote voter support for the proposal. If the proposal had passed the requirement for a referendum on any new crossing would become part of the state constitution. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was pleased with the results. From India, where he is on a trade mission, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised the decision: "We're very pleased to see the support of the people of Michigan for the new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, which is very important to the economies of both our countries. I look forward, in particular, to working with [President Barack Obama] on the B…

Harper has his own two Canadian armoured vehicles in India visit

Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, shipped two armoured cars to India for the use of himself and his entourage, including an armoured Cadillac. While visiting the city of Agra, Harper was driven around in a black Sport Utility Vehicle with Ontario licence plates. No doubt this would be a novelty in India! When he arrived in New Delhi, he was transferred to a black armoured Cadillac sedan. When reporters asked about the reason for shipping these armoured vehicles to India for the visit, the Prime Minister's Office referred them to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Spokesperson, Cpl. Lucy Shorey responded with a statement: "The deployment of RCMP resources are dictated by operational requirements, including public and officer safety considerations, and a threat assessment of the events/environments.For security reasons, details on the security plans will not be discussed." The prime minister has also used his own vehicles in visits to Haiti and Afghanistan. How…

Conservative Intergovernmental Affairs Minister has election finance problems

Records obtained by the CBC(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) suggest that Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Panashue received an illegal corporate donation. There was a single cheque issued by Pennecon Ltd. a St. John's Newfoundland construction company for $5,500 dollars. Corporate donations are illegal in Canada. However, a separate receipt was issued for each of six board members of the company. These receipts ranged from $550 to the maximum personal contribution of $1,100. These personal donations are eligible for a tax refund and are quite legal. Records obtained by CBC News appear to indicate the campaign of federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue deposited a single cheque from Pennecon but wrote separate receipts to the board members for the donation. In the minister's election file there is a single line for the deposit by Pennecon of $5,000 and no separate board member donations are listed. The individual receipts were all mailed to Penneco…

Recession leads to steep decline in quality of life in Canada

The Canadian Well-being index shows that since the onset of the recession between 2008 and 2010, the quality of life deteroriated by 24%. Canada's GDP, in contrast, declined by only 8.3% during the same period. The Canadian Well-being Index compilation is led by researchers at the University of Waterloo, Roy Romanow, former NDP premier of Saskatchewan, co-chairs the advisory group to the researchers. Between 1994 and 2010 the Canadian GDP rose 29% but the Well-being Index grew only 5.7% during the same period. Romanow said: "When Canada's economy was thriving, Canadians only saw modest improvements in their overall quality of life.But when the economy faltered, our well-being took a disproportionate step backward." The report itself noted: "Despite years of prosperity, our economic growth has not translated into similar significant gains in our overall quality of life,.Even more concerning is the considerable backslide Canadians have experienced since 2008.&quo…

Canadian government rejects Petronas takeover bid for Progress Energy

Industry Minister Christian Paradis, announced on Friday that the $5.2 billion offer by Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas for Calgary-based Progress Energy Resources, had not met Canada's "net benefit test" and therefore will not be approved.
In his statement Paradis said:
"I can confirm that I have sent a notice letter to Petronas indicating that I am not satisfied that the proposed investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada. Due to the strict confidentiality provisions of the [Investment Canada] Act, I cannot comment further on this investment at this time,." Petronas will have 30 days to make additional representation and to add further undertakings that might alter the decision. After that period, Paradis will confirm his first decision or approve the deal.
Paradis said that Canada had a long-standing reputation for welcoming foreign investment. I just wonder if there is not some static coming from the U.S. about the Harper government wel…

CRTC rejects $3.4 billion takeover bid by BCE for Astram Media

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission rejected the Bell $3.4 billion deal to buy Astral Media. The Canadian regulatory commission claims that the deal would give BCE too much market power and threaten competition in the media. The CRTC rejected the proposed deal unconditionally. Many analysts thought that the deal would go through but with conditions attached. Jean-Pierre Blais, chair of the CRTC said: "BCE failed to persuade us that the deal would benefit Canadians. It would have placed significant market power in the hands of one of the country’s largest media companies. We could not have ensured a robust Canadian broadcasting system without imposing extensive and intrusive safeguards, which would have been to the detriment of the entire industry." The proposed deal was one of the largest takeovers ever sent to the CRTC. It was also the first major decision for newly installed commissioner Blais. If the deal had been approved, BCE would have owne…

Peter Mansbridge and Stratford Crew Do Gangnam Style Parody

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Peter Mansbridge, the anchor of the CBC National news report, takes part in an parody of the famous, Gangnam Style, South Korean pop single by singer PSY.
Parodies of the South Korean pop song, Gangnam Style, are legion. Digital Journal has reports on two political versions. One features Mitt Romney and another Barack Obama. .
There are also parodies that feature cartoon characters and even North Korea. Now the veteran CBC news announcer has entered the fray. He does his best, together with members of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, including cast and crew of 42n Street and The Pirates of Penzance. On his Twitter account , that has a link to the video,Mansbridge says:
"Be kind. I know I can't dance or sing but it's all good fun for a great Festival Theatre!" He is a keen critic of his own performance!
The CBC has a list of the top ten parodies of the Gangnam Style.together with links to the videos. Number one on the list is Lifeguard Style.
group of lifeguards…

PBO head Kevin Page at loggerheads with Harper government

Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Conservative government of Stephen Harper face a showdown. Page gave officials in 56 departments until this Wednesday to provide him with information about cuts and savings in the budget. In March of 2008 Page was appointed Parliamentary Budget Officer. In 2006 the Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, ran on an accountability theme. For the most part, the Conservative government has failed to be accountable whenever possible. However, Harper did create the PBO or Parliamentary Budget Office as part of his promise to make government more accountable, even though he gave the office less power and independence than many advocates of the office wanted. Kevin Page was regarded as a safe choice for head of the PBO when he was appointed in March of 2006. Page had spent 27 years as a behind-the-scenes-economist in the government. Top-level Conservatives found him acceptable. Page had even worked closely with Harper as a key economic policy…

Complaint that Harper nude painting is sexual harassment is dismissed

The complaint by Albertan Curtis Stewart alleged that a nude painting of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was sexual harassment. The painting called "Emperor Haute Couture" by Kingston artist Margaret Sutherland made headlines back in May this year when it was displayed in a Kingston library. The artist painted the nude as a satire after she was peeved by a number of Harper government moves, including the elimination of the long term census and the closure of some prison farms.Sutherland said: “The political message is to look for yourself and don’t necessarily believe the party line." . The title of the painting, Emperor Haute Couture carries a satirical reference to the fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes," in which a vain king parades around naked. The painting was sold to an unknown buyer for the asking price of $5,000 in late May. Curtis Stewart filed the complaint in May shortly after the nude was first displayed and caused an uproar. In the…