All posts tagged Stephen Harper

Russia must be stopped! And Peter Goldring’s just the man to do it! We’ll fight to the last Frenchman and German!

After we’ve won the war with Russia, a beachhead in the Caribbean! Edmonton MP Peter Goldring as illustrated by Press Progress. Below: Rob Ford, Louis Riel, Ann of Green Gables and last year’s military licence plate, which is presumably the same as this year’s military licence plate.

Whenever you think it’s safe to start ridiculing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford again, Peter Goldring opens his mouth, proving that this province remains Canada’s Home Sweet Alabamberta of egregious political bufoonery.

Mr. Goldring, 69, is the Member of Parliament for Edmonton East and the source many of the more entertaining if inconsequential political stories in Alberta. Yesterday he was back in the thick of it, using the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine as an excuse to demand Canada declare war on Russia.

Well, in fairness, all Mr. Goldring was really calling for was “total economic warfare,” but that, he added, should only be “the first precursor to much more strident efforts” – which will be fought, presumably, to the very last German, Frenchman and Italian.

Thoroughly in tune with the sprit of the era, Mr. Goldring also demanded the West start a religious war by establishing a competing Patriarchy for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to compete with one inside Russia’s borders. Maybe later we can argue about whether it should be Canada’s state church.

Mr. Goldring has long had a lively interest in foreign policy, and indeed is best known as the country’s most enthusiastic advocate of bringing the Caribbean’s Turks and Caicos Islands into Confederation, an idea that for some reason has failed generate much enthusiasm elsewhere in Ottawa’s halls of power throughout his 17-year Parliamentary career.

He argued that the Turks and Caicos would be just like Prince Edward Island – only, you know, farther away, and without potatoes, Anne Shirley or Green Gables.

But Mr. Goldring’s latest effort should find considerably more sympathy in the bellicose PMO of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as the Top Tory Banana attempts with his friends at Post Media and the Sun News Network to revive the Cold War.

Last December, Mr. Goldring engaged in a little “freelance diplomacy,” visiting Kiev on his own dime to whip up the crowds in support for the rebels who later toppled the former Ukrainian government in last spring’s coup. Later, the Harper Government sent him back to Ukraine in May and June to make impartial observations about the current Ukrainian government’s election.

On the Home Front, Mr. Goldring is also well known for his view that this homelessness stuff is vastly overstated. “You don’t want to look at it coldly, but they’re really not in desperate need until they’re holding that eviction notice in their hand,” he explained in 2012.

In 2009, he railed against what he called the effort to “unhang” Louis Riel, whom he dismissed as a villain.

While he has spent most of his career in Parliament as an MP for the Conservative-Reform-Alliance Party, Mr. Goldring spent all of 2012 and bits of 2011 and 2013 in the doghouse after he was accused of refusing to provide a breath sample to a police officer who pulled him over on his way home from a dinner at the Ukrainian Hall. In June 2013, he was acquitted of that change and welcomed back in to the Conservative fold.

Mr. Goldring has long been a fervent opponent of roadside Breathalyzer tests on what he calls civil liberties grounds. During his spell in political Coventry, he described himself as a Civil Liberties MP.

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Alberta honours troops with new licence plate

IMPORTANT BLOGGER’S NOTE: As a public service, to save taxpayers money and government information officers time, I have updated last year’s Redford Government news release on Alberta’s new licence plates honouring the military to serve as today’s announcement by the Hancock Government of Alberta’s new licence plates honouring the military. Changes are shown in italic type. Remember, people, it’s not plagiarism if you’re plagiarizing yourself – a rule firmly adhered to on this blog:

The Redford Hancock government is giving Albertans another way to support the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces with the launch of a new licence plate.

The plates, which bear the Yellow Ribbon and the Support our Troops slogan, will be available for pre-order early next later this year. The new plates will cost Albertans $150. This includes the regular registration fees as well as expenses for production and delivery. Revenue beyond these costs will go directly to the Support our Troops campaign to assist members of the Forces and their families in Alberta.

Manmeet S. Bhullar Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Service Alberta Culture, will make the announcement at K-Days in Edmonton today.

Under the Building Alberta Plan Jim Prentice’s Keeping Alberta Strong Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta’s resources to ensure we’re able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them without the words “Wild Rose Country” appearing anywhere on anything. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for. Uh, never mind that last bit.

The first half of this post also appears on Rabble.ca.

Canada’s anti-union lobby is at the heart of the deceptive campaign for more Temporary Foreign Workers – why’s that, d’ya think?

Canadians need not apply? Actual Canadian store displays may not appear exactly as illustrated. But the intent of the AstroTurf TFW lobby is to bust unions and weaken the bargaining power of Canadian workers. Below: Employment Minister and former Canadian Taxpayers Federation operative Jason Kenney; former Canadian Federation of Independent Business president and current “Working Canadians” spokesperson Catherine Swift; and CTF board member and Canadian Labour Watch Association President John Mortimer.

Judging from what they read and hear in the news, Canadians can be forgiven for concluding a large number of organizations representing a broad range of opinions are lobbying public-spiritedly for more access to Temporary Foreign Workers by Canadian businesses.

But while many individual business owners would no doubt love to have a direct pipeline to the huge international pool of compliant, vulnerable and easy-to-exploit foreign workers instead of yielding to market pressure to pay Canadians a living wage, the seeming multitude of public voices calling for more access to TFWs originates mainly with a small group of individuals and well-financed interlocking organizations.

It turns out that this network involves many of the same people sitting on the boards of each other’s groups. What’s more, these groups are repeating the same key messages and skillfully feeding press releases to Canada’s dysfunctional mainstream media to generate sound and fury against the modest restrictions on Ottawa’s TFW Program.

As readers will recall, those restrictions were put in place by Employment Minister Jason Kenney last spring. The minister was responding to public revulsion at the program’s apparent goals of exploiting vulnerable foreign workers and suppressing Canadian wages.

So it cannot be mere coincidence that in almost every case the main groups calling for more TFWs turn out to have a long history of anti-union advocacy. In some cases, before the TFW issue came along, their sole purpose was attacking the right of working people to bargain collectively.

This web of anti-union advocacy groups includes the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Restaurants Canada, the Workplace Democracy Institute of Canada, the Merit Contractors Association, “Working Canadians,” and the Canadian Labour Watch Association.

Even the mysterious National Citizens Coalition, the granddaddy of all Canadian far-right AstroTurf groups, once headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, puts in a cameo appearance in this convoluted tale!

Each of these groups is not forthcoming about its finances and, it is reasonable to conclude given their purported mandates to represent to represent a different segment of the Canadian economy from “taxpayers,” to restaurant owners, to ordinary working stiffs who just want a little “freedom” in their workplace, is deceptive about its true objectives.

So it should surprise no one that this same web of organizations has emerged as the leading advocate for the exploitation of vulnerable and poorly paid foreign workers to replace uppity Canadian young people in low-wage, low-skill Canadian workplaces, or, in the case of the CTF, to use the purported need for foreign workers as a way to attack unemployment insurance for working Canadians.

Perhaps the best way to understand the revelation that the TFW lobby has many heads but is only one beast is to look at what little we know about the secretive Canadian Labour Watch Association, founded by several of the other groups in 2000.

While the CLWA describes itself as an organization that “advances employee rights in labour relations,” it is fair to say after a review of its materials that its principal goal is to advance the goals of employers who are opposed to unions in their workplaces. In other words: union busting.

According to Canadians for Responsible Advocacy, the “industry organizations” that founded the CLWA in 2000 included Restaurants Canada (formerly the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association), the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Retail Council of Canada and the Merit Contractors Association of Alberta, which represents a group of non-union contractors.

The CLWA does not disclose financial statements, identify major contributors, indicate its membership policy or criteria, list its bylaws or identify its connections to other right-wing advocacy organizations, the CFRA reports. However, we do know about its members and board of directors, a list that tells an interesting story.

The CLWA’s president and only listed employee is John Mortimer, a prominent member of the board of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Member associations include the CFIB, Merit Contractors associations in several provinces, the Retail Council of Canada, Restaurants Canada and the National Citizens Coalition.

The CLWA’s board, according to its website, includes representatives of the CFIB, the Retail Council of Canada, Restaurants Canada, the Merit Contractors, the Canadian Taxpayers Association (although this relationship is not declared) and the Conseil du Patronat du Québec (the Quebec Business Council), another consistent opponent of unionization.

Restaurants Canada, by the way, was founded in 1944 as the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association to fight against the Mackenzie King Government’s food rationing and menu price-control policies when the war against Nazi Germany, to which many Canadians were sacrificing their lives, started to cut into profits.

Whether there is a formal connection between the CLWA and its associated groups with the so-called “Working Canadians” AstroTurf organization and the “Workplace Democracy Institute of Canada” can only be speculated upon because all these groups are very economical with information about their operations.

Working Canadians may be little more than a website and an advertising budget provided by someone with deep pockets. It appears to have been set up to counter the Working Families Coalition created in Ontario by 15 unions, which openly declared their involvement on the Working Families website.

Working Canadians, by contrast, provides no information about its funding and purports to be a “volunteer organization” that is “concerned that union leaders have too much influence over government.”

But it is evocative that Working Canadians’ only known volunteer is Catherine Swift, president of the CFIB in 2000 when the CLWA was founded and well known for her opinion that “what would be ideal is getting rid of public-sector unions entirely.” So it is hard to imagine that the mysterious principals behind both Working Canadians and the CLWA, and the network that supports them, are not well known to one another.

As for the WDIC, its way into the web of TFW Program advocates comes via the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, through CTF board member Karen Selick and a CTF staffer, Atlantic Canada Communications Director Kevin Lacey.

There are probably many other such groups, because the corporate-financed right prolifically cooks up fake AstroTurf organizations with positive-sounding mandates, inclusive-sounding names and disguised agendas.

The links among this well-established network of anti-union agitators have been obvious for many years.

That the same players who hold the most virulently anti-union views and the most offensive opinions about the supposed shortcomings of Canadian workers should turn out to be the loudest advocates, and in some places the only advocates, for the TFW Program suggests the true agenda behind the vociferous TFW lobby.

It is quite apparent the goals of the Canadian Taxpayers Association, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, and the various trade associations involved are to weaken the bargaining power of Canadian families (including many of their own naïve members), keep wages low, keep all workers vulnerable and re-elect the Harper Government.

If the Harper Government is re-elected, of course, even today’s modest restrictions on the TFW Program are sure to soon disappear, snipped away as so much “red tape.”

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

The most important Duffy trial must be held in the court of public opinion

Mike Duffy, back in pre-Senatorial days, but already feeling the heat. Below: A more recent shot of Senator Duffy; former prime ministerial chief of staff Nigel Wright.

How could the handoff of a $90,000 cheque to Senator Mike Duffy by the prime minister’s chief of staff not be worthy of prosecution while the acceptance of the same piece of paper by the senator is?

Wherever the trial of Mr. Duffy leads us in the months and years to come, this is the question ordinary Canadians are scratching their heads about today as they pick up a whiff of something not quite as it should be on the breeze from Ottawa – like the ephemeral scent of a distant skunk’s perfume on a summer’s night.

This will not be the question at Mr. Duffy’s trial, however, although it is certainly now one of the key political questions about the PMO-Senate Expenses Scandal that must be answered in the court of public opinion.

As Donald Bayne, Mr. Duffy’s lawyer, put it in the news clip played on CBC Radio in Edmonton yesterday morning: “I am sure that I am not the only Canadian who will now wonder openly how what was not a crime or a bribe when Nigel Wright paid it on his own initiative became however, mysteriously, a crime or bribe when received by Senator Duffy.”

Mr. Bayne got that one right, for sure! It is what we used to call the $64,000 Question, which inflation and other factors have apparently now increased to $90,000.

Many of us with some knowledge of the law, I suspect, thought the charges must be more complicated than that. But it would appear not. Here is the explanation of the charge in question, summarized by the Globe and Mail yesterday: “Directly or indirectly corruptly accept, obtain, agree to accept, or attempt to obtain, for himself, money ($90,000 from Mr. Wright).”

I had always thought that offering and accepting bribes was one of those situations that, as we put it in the vernacular, take two to tango. You know, like participating in illegal prostitution… But perhaps not.

Perhaps, as a lawyer consulted by Global News suggested, the RCMP believed Mr. Wright didn’t corruptly offer the money – or “that his testimony against Duffy is stronger if he’s not charged himself.” In other words, a common variation on the oldest prosecutorial trick in the world.

Meanwhile, I was struck by the sleaze exhibited by Prime Minister Harper and his PMO staff as they tried to have it both ways, implying Senator Duffy is guilty while hiding behind the sub judice rule to avoid commenting on their own part in the affair.

Said Jason MacDonald, Mr. Harper’s communications director, in a carefully parsed statement: “Those who break the rules must suffer the consequences. The conduct described in the numerous charges against Mr. Duffy is disgraceful. As this is now a criminal matter that is before the courts, we have nothing further to add.”

Very well. But in that case, please shut up!

Mr. Bayne is right too that it is important for us ignoramuses in the general population not to pre-judge Mr. Duffy’s guilt or innocence. And it is quite true that, up to now, Senator Duffy has had a fair hearing in neither the Senate nor the media, and certainly not at the hands of the PMO.

But in reality there are two concurrent trials that must take place.

The first, in the judicial system, is to determine the validity of the 31 charges laid by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police against Senator Duffy. That will take a long time and will most certainly not render a verdict until well after the next Canadian general election.

The other is in the court of public opinion, where it behooves all of us who are citizens of Canada to consider the matter much more quickly than the wheels of Justice can be expected to grind.

Like a juror instructed by the judge not to consider a certain statement made by a witness, we may have to set aside the question of Senator Duffy’s guilt or innocence while we proceed with the much more important matter of the actions of the Prime Minister’s Office, and the prime minister himself.

In such a case, we may legitimately bring down a Scotch Verdict: Not Proven … but worthy of consideration nevertheless.

In the mean time, we are all forgiven if we await with a little shiver of anticipation the witnesses Mr. Duffy’s counsel can be expected to call – including Mr. Wright, and Mr. Harper himself – to make his case that “when the full story is told, as it will be, and shown to be supported by many forms of evidence, it will be clear that Senator Duffy is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing.”

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

If you can’t trust Postmedia when it reports on oil and the environment, when can you trust it?

If you can’t trust your Postmedia website, who can you trust? I mean, other than Alberta Diary. Regardless, don’t blame these poor guys. They’re just trying to earn a living. Below: Economist Robyn Allen, Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey.

Industry self-regulation doesn’t work and never will for a simple reason: He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Companies that tell fibs to their customers don’t like being regulated by their own tame “watchdogs” any more than they like being told what to do by the government. The difference is, in the case of in-house regulation, they’re big enough to kick the dog.

So DeSmog Canada needn’t have held out much hope that Advertising Standards Canada would do or say anything about its complaint that Postmedia has been passing off paid advertising from the petroleum industry as unlabelled editorial content.

And a news organization that gives its readers the impression that advertising copy was written by real journalists is telling a fib. So, not to be needlessly cynical, you could see where this was going as soon as DeSmog complained to the industry self-regulatory body about stories that were really ads in the Vancouver Sun and the Regina Leader-Post, both newspapers and websites owned by Postmedia Network Canada Corp.

Advertising Standards Canada describes itself as “the national not-for-profit advertising self-regulatory body.” DeSmog Canada calls itself an organization that “exists to clear the PR pollution that is preventing us from having sensible public conversations about critical issues around the environment, social justice and the economy.”

The story in question, which ran on both papers’ websites last December, told about an executive for Enbridge Inc., the company that wants to build the Northern Gateway pipeline. The cheerful yarn made a claim that the loss to Canada of not having sufficient access to export markets for its oil is $50 million a day.

Some environmentalists and economists took issue with this statement.

B.C.-based economist Robyn Allen submitted an opinion piece to the Sun arguing the $50-million claim was untrue. What happened next, said DeSmog, was that “she was informed it couldn’t be run because the article she was responding to was actually a paid advertisement.”

DeSmog’s complaint cited one of the points in the group’s “Canadian Code of Advertising Standards” called “disguised advertising techniques,” which declares “no advertisement shall be presented in a format or style that conceals its commercial intent.”

After a couple of months, said DeSmog, they got a letter from the watchdog that the case was closed, and Advertising Standards Canada would not be issuing a ruling against Postmedia.

The article was later quietly pulled from the Sun’s website, but the same thing has happened again since, DeSmog said, as Postmedia works with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to pass off stories about the oil industry’s commitment to the environment as works of journalism, not advertising.

The problem, as DeSmog’s writer correctly noted, is that the news business in general, and the newspaper industry in particular, is in deep financial doo-doo. Publishers are desperate to find new ways to generate revenue in a desperately shrinking market that’s beset by low-cost and no-cost Internet competitors and changing technologies that keep leaving them in the dust.

Last week, long since the DeSmog story appeared, Postmedia reported third-quarter financial results that showed some improvement from last year, but in the context of the industry do not really inspire confidence in the company’s future. Net loss for the quarter was only $20.6 million, certainly better than the loss of $103.3 million the company reported in the same quarter a year earlier.

Postmedia’s own newspapers gave the story an upbeat spin – worthy of a paid advertisement, some might say. It’s rolling out a new four-platform-based digital strategy this week at the Ottawa Citizen, it said – completely different content for mobile smartphones, tablets, desktop computers and even those literate dinosaurs who still like to get their news on paper.

The same scheme will be introduced at the company’s other papers over the next year and a bit.

“Postmedia’s revenue for the three months ended May 31 was $171-million, a drop of $20.8-million from the same period last year as advertising continued to slip, consistent with the North American industry-wide trend,” the Financial Post story said, as cheerfully as possible under the circumstances.

“The owner of the National Post and another nine metro dailies across the country said print advertising revenue slipped 16.5 per cent to $94.7-million while digital ad sales dropped 4.3 per cent to $23.1-million,” said the Globe and Mail, owned by another company facing the same challenges, in a report that took a decidedly more negative view of Postmedia’s troubles.

But hey, the Post quoted Chief Executive Paul Godfrey saying, Postmedia’s “still a very young company.”

So all this cool new stuff, explained the Post, “is part of a leading transformational effort aimed at positioning Postmedia to adapt to the enormous upheaval in the industry in recent years, with a significant proliferation of new on-line competition and rapidly shifting audience habits.”

Well, good luck to Postmedia with this. Alas, while it may be a young company, it’s a young company that bought up a lot of very old newspapers and can’t squeeze sufficient revenue out of them.

The company’s dirty little secret is that while it really has made some gains figuring out how to increase readership in different technological platforms, like everyone else large and small who is trying to eke a living out of the Internet, it doesn’t have a collective clue in a carload how to make any money from it.

You’ve heard of companies that are too big to fail. Given the nature of the Internet, Postmedia may be a company that’s too big to succeed.

But one thing they do have that actually works – which neither the Post’s own story, nor the Globe’s, undoubtedly written in part from Postmedia’s news release, remembered to mention – is something called editorial partnerships.

These aren’t the special advertising features of old, which were either clearly marked as “advertorial,” as we used to say back in the day, or which were published to sell ads to a niche market, but maintained a strict division between church (news writing) and state (advertising).

Instead, they are paid ads unethically masquerading as news in the pages of Postmedia’s newspapers and their websites.

The problem with this, of course, is that over time it’s going to make readers distrust the real news printed by Postmedia, if any.

Indeed, thanks to DeSmog’s efforts, we know now that you can’t completely trust anything Postmedia writes about Alberta’s bitumen sands, pipelines to British Columbia, New Brunswick or Texas, or the environmental record of companies that engage in these activities.

Why? Because it just might turn out it was written by the companies themselves.

So what else that Postmedia publishes can’t you trust?

Election coverage comparing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to the Justin Trudeau’s Liberals or Thomas Mulcair’s NDP?

Say it ain’t so, Paul!

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

‘Targeted exemptions’ for TFWs – Tory fund-raising tool, a backyard maquiladora in every neighbourhood, or both?

Typical Canadian fast-food help, as seen by Canadian fast-food employers, sort of. Below: Employment Minister Jason Kenney in Stampede-Week-appropriate garb and the CFIB’s Richard Truscott.

ST. ALBERT, Alberta

Unemployment has climbed to 7.1 per cent in Canada and yet a key segment of the Harper Government’s donor base is screeching for more Temporary Foreign Workers. What to do?

From the perspective of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, this is a serious problem. Too many Canadians remain unpersuaded by the hysterical campaign cranked up by the country’s retail business sector to turn the TFW spigot back to full, and to do it right now, lest … well, lest something really bad happens.

Not satisfied by mere wage-suppression – delivered in spades by the federal government – now they’re hooked on a steady supply of powerless and compliant workers from abroad.

Fast-food restaurant owners have threatened everything from cutting back the number of coffees they serve after 3 a.m. to trimming their charitable donations, and yet the general public seems unshaken by their warnings. Maybe the usual suspects can blame the education system: here in Alberta our teachers still seem to be teaching their charges how to do the math.

Behind closed doors, have no doubt about it, the TFW lobby is telling the Harper Cons that the spigot that’s actually going to be shut off if they don’t get their way, and soon, with the flow of easily coerced and underpaid foreign workers fully restored, is the one full of money they send to Conservative Party coffers.

The Harper Government’s Solomonic answer? “Targeted exemptions,” which according to the Canadian Press means Employment Minister Jason Kenney will consider fewer restrictions on a steady flow of TFWs “in specific areas with very low levels of unemployment in regions with a higher level.”

That’s vague enough it should be possible for any fast-food business owner to claim a special unemployment zone around his or her store sufficiently low to set up a backyard maquiladora anywhere in Canada – successfully suppressing wages despite market realities while enabling Conservative politicians to make soothing noises to Canadians that all is well with the rigorously enforced TFW Program.

I await publication of the Harper Government’s clear and accessible rules for these regulatory exemption zones with interest.

Meantime, the usual suspects in the campaign to suppress wages by hiring no one but TFWs – thus eliminating the need to deal with uppity Canadians and their propensity to insist they have workplace rights – are starting to snarl at more people than their Conservative MPs.

Back in April, the Alberta Director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, an AstroTurf group that purports to represent the interests of small business owners and has been at the forefront of the fight for unlimited use of TFWs, was pleading for reasoned discourse to prevail.

“It’s time to dial down the rhetoric and have an informed conversation about labour shortages, skills training for Canadian workers, new government strategies to match employers with qualified employees, and fixing the permanent immigration system to ensure it matches the current and future labour force needs within the economy,” Richard Truscott wrote in the vast expanse of free space donated to him by the Calgary Herald, a once-great newspaper that nowadays appears to rely on full-time right-wing agitators from groups with mysterious funding sources to report the news.

The targets of his call for sweet reason? “Some union leaders” whom he said had “turned their rhetoric dial all the way up to shrill, and are calling for the program to be scrapped.”

Well, as I’ve said before, it’s still a free country, after a fashion, so you can call that shrill if you like.

But just yesterday, Mr. Truscott – sounding a little shrill himself – was accusing this blogger via Tweet of “profound ignorance” of how small businesses operate. My offence was daring to challenge the hysterics of the TFW lobby to produce even one Alberta business that’s had to go out of business because of a shortage of TFWs.

They can’t because there are none. But Mr. Truscott promised fast-food businesses won’t disappear overnight for want of a TFW, but some will … someday.

My question remains the same: “If the market’s so great, what’s wrong with the market?” That, in turn, leads inevitably to a prescription: Pay a living wage and employees will find their way to you.

All the pro-TFW crowd has to offer are anecdotal tales about how hard they’re trying to find Canadians to work in their restaurants, and how few of these ungrateful wretches respond to their calls.

So here’s a little equally unscientific anecdotal evidence of my own, from right here in St. Albert where our more-Tory-than-the-Tories Independent MP claims to be inundated by pleas for more TFWs from local fast-food business owners who insist Canadians won’t apply for the jobs they need to fill.

I looked in the Saturday edition of the local twice-weekly newspaper. There were only 13 help-wanted ads, not one of them from a fast-food restaurant.

Can’t find local kids willing to work in their stores? Maybe they need to look a little harder.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

Happy Canada Day from the prime minister of Canada and the premier of Alberta, channeled by Perfesser Dave

Oooooh! Happy Canada Day, Canadians. Enjoy yourselves. Prime Minister Steve Harper and Premier Dave Hancock wish they could be here with you and Perfesser Dave. Below: Mr. Hancock and Mr. Harper … Happy-Happy!

Happy Canada Day!

Perfesser Dave, here, the political predictions guy, speaking on behalf of my friends Stephen Harper and David Hancock, who weren’t available to talk to you last night.

Both of them were really, really busy getting ready for Canada Day today, but I know they would want me to let you know they hope you have the best Canada Day holiday ever! And they hope you’ve had a really great weekend up to now, too, and didn’t have to work like they did, seeing as they’re the prime minister of Canada and the premier of Alberta.

First thing, never mind what you read on the Internet, I’m sure Steve was really happy with the by by-election results last night in Alberta, and if the Liberals got a couple of seats in Toronto, well, whoop-de-doo! What did you expect from that town, anyway?

If Steve could be here to talk to you, he’d have said it was mostly just Knee-Dippers and Grits fighting with each other in Toronto anyway, and there’s not much his guys could do about that but sit back and hope they beat the crud out of each other, which they sort of did in Olivia Chow’s old riding.

Now, I’m sure the PM will want to tell you he’s going to take another look at the pot smoking ads about Justin Trudeau. It would be better for the Tories, of course, if Rob Ford smoked pot and Justin smoked crack. But in a by-election you just have to work with the best facts you can make up in the time you have.

Of course, the Macleod riding south of Calgary was going to vote for Steve’s Tories anyway because they always do, even if the locals didn’t pick the most pro-gun candidate, which I reckon the PM worried for a while might be kind of a problem – and, come to think of it, maybe it was, because at last count the Conservative candidate down there was getting less than 70 per cent of the vote!

Just the same, as Steve would say if he liked soccer as much as he loves hockey, no harm no foul! That is a soccer saying, isn’t it?

As for the by-election up in Fort McMurray, well, I’m sure the PM was really yukking it up last night at all the trips Justin Trudeau took out there because he thought his Liberal guy – who had the cheek to kinda look like Steve – could actually win.

Good one! That’s why you hold elections in places like Fort Mac in the middle of a long weekend, for crying out loud, because all the Liberal voters are home in Newfoundland and the Tories are at home on the farm in the Municipal District. Bingo!

Well, it worked, so maybe the next federal general election may have to be in the middle of a long weekend too! Because you’ve got to know there are a lot of ridings like Fort McMurray-Athabasca out there in the Canadian Homeland, and there will be even more if Steve has anything to say about it.

As Steve would say if he could be here with you, the Grits can call it a moral victory if they like and as the NDP probably will, but by the time everyone’s recovered from their Canada Day hangovers, it won’t even be on the radar. Fort Mac will be Conservative just like it’s been for the past 56 years, and Pipelines Ho!

I bet Steve was chugging back a couple of brewskies last night to celebrate the minute his fart-catchers shooed the photographers out of the neighbourhood.

As for Dave Hancock, well, it had to be a good day for him, splitting up the long weekend into two parts, even if he had to work yesterday putting out the annual financial reports that don’t even look remotely like the budget his party introduced less than four months ago.

Doug Horner, his finance guy, announced a surplus that wasn’t really a surplus and hardly anyone even noticed or complained about it.

Well, OK, the Alberta Liberals sent out a news release that said Alberta’s surplus was really a $302-million deficit, but who even gets their releases, let alone reads them? And the Wildrosers pegged the deficit at about $2 billion. Same story.

Anyway, Ole Doug’s got more sets of books than an all-night trucker dodging the Idaho State Police Highway Patrol outside of Pocatello, so nobody knows what the hell’s going on. I think even Doug and Dave are pretty confused nowadays, so you can imagine how the Opposition feels! But by the time Wednesday rolls around, the only thing Albertans are going to remember is “surplus of $775 million.”

So I am pretty certain that both Steve and Dave would want you to have so much fun today that you don’t even remember your own name or where you live when you wake up on Wednesday … or Thursday, or whenever.

Fill your boots, Canadians! You deserve it!

Happy Canada Day! We are Canadian! Your country is in good hands.

Perfesser Dave’s Canada Day blog also appears on Rabble.ca.

Big by-election in Fort McMurray? Never mind that! As goes Macleod, so goes Alberta…

Fort McMurray, before the Bitumen Boom. Things have changed. Below: Conservative Fort McMurray-Athabasca candidate David Yurdiga, Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha, NDP candidate Lori McDaniel, former Conservative MP Brian Jean.

If the good people of Fort McMurray climb out of bed this morning and decide to elect a Liberal to represent them in Parliament, there will be shock, dismay and consternation throughout Alberta.

But, fear not my fellow Albertans, even in the unlikely event this happens, it almost certainly won’t mean whatever you are told it means.

Yes, today is the day after the weekend and the day before Canada Day on which there’s a federal by-election in the riding of Fort McMurray-Athabasca, which occupies most of the northeast quarter of Alberta. Fort McMurray, where most of the riding’s 72,000 electors live, is the principal city of the Athabasca Bitumen Sands region and what we might therefore call the heart of Alberta’s Tarpatch.*

The by-election in Fort Mac is one of four in the nation, two in Alberta. The other Alberta vote will be in the Macleod riding, in the heart of Wild Rose Country, literally and figuratively, directly south and west of Calgary. The other two, in Trinity-Spadina and Scarborough-Agincourt, are in metropolitan Toronto.

Now, you may wonder why four important by-elections have been scheduled on the day between a weekend and a national holiday, a Monday when a lot of people in Toronto and Alberta are bound to make a four-day weekend of it and be out of town.

The reason is explained simply in two words: vote suppression. This from the government that brought you the “Fair Elections Act,” a piece of legislation whose title cannot be printed without quotation marks around it.

Low turnouts, as most readers of this blog will know, tend to favor governing parties, which is what Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada, the national vote-suppression guys, hope will happen today.

The Fort Mac by-election became necessary way back in January when MP Brian Jean, a Conservative, announced he was pulling the plug on politics. Mr. Jean was pretty diplomatic about his reasons for deciding to commit stepaside – he said he’d done his work after serving the riding for a decade and wanted to spend more time with his grandkids, which is fair enough.

Reading between the lines, though, it was apparent that Mr. Jean found the life of a stalwart Alberta Tory backbencher, taken for granted even though he won by 72 per cent, pretty dull. Leastways, lately he’d been spending his time on Parliament Hill devising crossword puzzles. Too loyal to do something exciting like Brent Rathgeber, another bored Alberta Tory ignored by the prime minister, he left quietly while he still had some tatters of dignity.

Which brings us to today’s big event in Fort McMurray-Athabasca:

The Conservative candidate is someone named David Yurdiga. Mr. Yurdiga is an oilpatch guy, a consultant and rural municipal politician who owns one of the neatly trimmed goatees attached to the faces of a surprisingly large number of Alberta Conservatives nowadays. He refuses to talk even to the reliably Conservative Globe and Mail, the respectful newspaper that after careful consideration endorsed the Conservative Party led by Tim Hudak in the recent Ontario election.

The Liberal candidate is a fellow named Justin Trudeau … No, actually it’s someone named Kyle Harrietha, although Mr. Trudeau, the leader of the party, has been spending enough time in the riding that you’d be forgiven if you reached the conclusion he was the one who wants to represent Fort McMurray.

Mr. Harrietha is a former Parliament Hill staffer and has ties to environmental and non-profit organizations. In his website picture, he looks unnervingly like a youngish Stephen Harper with a full beard. The first of these things is important to the message the Liberals are trying to send.

The NDP candidate in the riding is a Suncor employee named Lori McDaniel. She is a fine person, but she is not, alas, really a factor in this particular race.

The Liberals are throwing a lot of support into the riding, as Mr. Trudeau’s frequent visits indicate, because they hope they can arrange a reprise of last fall’s election in Manitoba’s Brandon-Souris riding in which even a respectable loss can be portrayed as a victory.

This is, of course, because Fort Mac is where it is, and hence the kind of riding that one would think would for economic reasons support a government determined to export bitumen at any cost.

So the idea that people there might elect a representative of a party that says it both supports the environment and wants to sell bitumen, instead of a party that just wants to sell bitumen and the environment be damned, powerfully advances the Liberals’ narrative.

However, if the Liberals do manage to pull off a win, it won’t be that big an endorsement for environmentalism in the Tarpatch, which is one thing you’re sure to be told if you live in other places. And it won’t necessarily be proof Canadians are so fed up with Mr. Harper for all the things that bug the rest of us that even in Fort Mac they’d vote against him, another thing you’re likely to be told.

In actuality, people in Fort Mac will be making a judgment about which is the best strategy for shipping out bitumen and selling it – Mr. Harper’s, which doesn’t appear to be working at all, or Mr. Trudeau’s, which hasn’t been tried. The possibility the Liberals can persuade Fort McMurray voters they have a better, more internationally palatable, plan for marketing Tarpatch bitumen, is the reason they are in the horserace at all.

Whoever wins, it won’t be a big defeat for the NDP because the Opposition party will have to take a tougher line on the environment, sure to be death in Fort Mac, in order to win credibility elsewhere in the Dominion. So if the NDP did too well in Fort Mac, it would hurt them with core voters elsewhere – places like Trinity-Spadina where the NDP’s Joe Cressy is definitely in the running today.

Finally, if the Liberals do well, even if they don’t win, you are sure to hear that it’s evidence Alberta is finally changing, and that voters from other parts of Canada, of whom there are many in Fort McMurray, are finally bringing a diversity of political views to this province.

Well, there could be a grain of truth to this – and, Lord knows, we live in hope out here that it will someday happen – but while there are many folks from away in Fort McMurray, to a high percentage of them it’s a jobsite, not a home.

So we probably won’t have to hear Craig Chandler, the right-wing extremist from Calgary, ordering newcomers to vote Conservative because “this is our home and if you wish to live here, you must adapt to our rules and our voting patterns, or leave.” Mr. Chandler was born in Ontario.

If you’re progressive in your political views in this province, optimism that someday things will change runs deep. But we’ve had our hopes dashed too many times to really believe it will happen just yet – even in a place like Calgary Centre, which last year missed a by-election opportunity not to elect Joan Crockatt, the ridiculous MP who recently put out a press release explaining how “our planet is much greener because of fossil fuels.”

So, while one hopes profoundly for an entertaining and even uplifting result in Fort McMurray this evening, you’re really not advised to bet money on it.

And even if it happens, progressive people elsewhere in Canada need to remember that the demographics of Fort Mac are different from those of the rest of the province. So while the city is fortunate to be able to be described as “the second city of Newfoundland, if you go by population,” those of us who live elsewhere in this province cannot make that happy claim.

No, as goes Macleod, so goes Alberta.

And if Prime Minister Harper had sent an airfleet of F-35s to drop atomic bombs on Okotoks, Vulcan, Cochrane, High River and the other fine communities of Macleod, the survivors would crawl out of the rubble today and vote Conservative.

Everything you hear by way of analysis tonight? Take it with a grain of salt.

*NOTE: The Tarpatch. I coined it, and I want the credit in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

On the centenary of Gavrilo Princip’s fateful shot in Sarajevo, let’s learn the right lessons from history

Gavrilo Princip under arrest. Below: Princip and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Today is the centenary of the day Gavrilo Princip took his little Belgian pistol to Sarajevo and blew the heir presumptive to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire into history.

As is well known, not long after young Princip caused the demise of Franz Ferdinand, archduke of Austria-Este and royal prince of Hungary and Bohemia, not to mention inspiration for future indie musicians, things went rapidly downhill.

Someone somewhere rolled the dice to score a strategic point or two in the Balkans – one of which, it’s been suggested, was to wedge Russia from the Triple Entente – and the next thing you knew all of Europe was at war, resulting in casualties from that war alone of more than 37 million human beings, 16 million of them dead.

Moreover, you could argue World War II was an extension of the same conflict, so to quote Elvis Costello on the topic of the end of the world, when Princip seized the opportunity, left his coffee on the table, ambled across the street and pulled the trigger, he really started something… 

Since no one much apparently expected a general European war to break out any time soon in the spring of 1914, and since no one much expects a world war to break out any time soon in the spring and summer of 2014, we have been subjected to a litany of commentary in the mainstream media wondering if, once again, the world could be on the brink of a major war without anyone having noticed.

This is actually quite a good question to ask, although not necessarily in the way the basso profundo voices of the Official Commentariat are asking it.

Unfortunately, in the word processors of the Canadian punditocracy, the question doesn’t mean what the question actually asks because we live in Orwellian times, in the sense that we live in an unhappy era when almost all official and quasi-official statements mean the opposite of what they appear to say.

Thus, for example, when the Harper Government puts forward legislation called “the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act” it means “an Act to Enable the Organs of State Security to Spy on the Government’s Political Opponents.” The children? Who cares about them? Certainly not Prime Minster Harper and his henchpersons!

So when the official state pundits whose work has been privatized out to Sun News Network, Postmedia News, or even the pathetic ones left at the foundering CBC, ask this question, they really mean: “What Are We Going to Do About Russia?”

The problem with Russia being, apparently, that it won’t toe the line, recognize that there is only one World Superpower and therefore one World Government. Instead, Russia actually proposes to look out for its legitimate strategic interests as if this were 1946 or something.

The answers to this question the pundits have in mind are things like “More jets to Romania!” and “Ukrainian Canadians must vote Conservative!” Their war cry is “What do we want? F-35s! When do we want them? Now!” Plus, of course, “Fair Elections Act!” (See “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act” above.)

But, as history has shown time and again, when the war poodles start to yap, you really can end up getting a lot more than the F-35s and Ukrainian-Canadian votes you bargained for.

Back in 2003, for example, when then-opposition leader Stephen Harper was yapping about how we should have stood by George W. Bush and helped the United States invade Iraq, who would have thought Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had it right when he promised the Mother of All Battles?

By now we humans should have figured out that the first day of an invasion is almost always the best day, but that kind of wisdom was forgotten by the Great Minds of the Canadian media about the time newspapers all shut down their libraries and turned to depending on the Internet for institutional memory.

So now it is 2014, the centenary of the event that began the Great War, but only 11 years since the invasion or Iraq and 13 since NATO’s intervention in the Afghan civil war, an effort in which Canada did participate at a huge cost in treasure and blood.

And what have we achieved? In Iraq, Saddam’s Republican Guard is back in action, fighting for the moment alongside its future jihadist enemies, as they close in on Baghdad together. In Afghanistan, the Taliban we pledged never to tolerate, let alone to talk with, are impatiently awaiting NATO’s departure so they can move back into power.

Maybe someday we’ll admit that we lost both those wars, but that will require the perspective of history – if history, and not just petroleum engineering, is still taught a generation from now.

Surely even Canada’s official pundits have enough wit to sense that nothing good can come playing games with Mother Russia to achieve strategic and ideological goals – as France did in 1812, Austria-Hungary attempted in 1914, and Germany tried in 1941 – especially when we are demanding things that we, let alone our next-door neighbour, would never permit in our own back yards.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

The boss has gone crazy! He’s giving away new uniforms! And at only $4.5 million, they’re practically free!

Canadian soldiers will once again be clad in uniforms like these. If that doesn’t scare the hell out of Vladimir Putin, the guy’s got ice in his veins! Below: A typical naval officer in his cool new brass loops, armed with a naval thingy; what he’d be wearing if he were an officer in the Wavy Navy instead of the regular force; Paul Hellyer, who is worried about inter-galactic warfare and doesn’t care if you know it; and Sir Arthur Currie of the Gay Gordons, his gorgets clearly visible.

After checking the date to make sure it wasn’t still April 1, many Canadians must have wondered if the Harper Government had completely taken leave of its senses when they learned last week we taxpayers are about to fork over $4.5 million so Canadian Forces officers can have British-style crowns and pips on their epaulettes again, and naval officers big loopy gold braids on their sleeves.

Well, that will scare the hell of Vladimir Putin, now, won’t it?

Not that $4.5 million for regimental fripperies seems like very much to a government that has added a couple of hundred billion free-floating Canadian Credionias to the national debt since taking over from the Liberals, who had quietly been paying it down.

But that’s what it costs to finance a Thatcherite revolution by slashing taxes for billionaires, which remains Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Main Project.

Still, to anyone who’s not been really paying attention, Mr. Harper’s decision to spend even a few million dollars on new brass and gold braid for the Canadian Forces – which had appeared quite content with Canadian maple leaves on their shoulders for almost all of the last half century – must seem bizarre.

Indeed, it is bizarre, but that doesn’t mean it’s inexplicable.

So, why would Mr. Harper want to do such a thing? Let me try to explain….

For starters, it’s because our PM’s got a crazy hate on for the Liberals, and it was the Liberals, of course, who unified the armed forces back between 1966 and 1968.

This was mainly about accounting, and if they’d just left the uniforms alone, everybody probably would have been OK.

And yes, back then the Navy just hated it, although with the benefit of hindsight I’m not sure why. I mean, really, OK, they had to wear army uniforms for a couple of decades after that, but the army’s had to salute like a bunch of anchor crankers ever since! So who’s got the bigger whinge now, huh?

I’m not saying it’s crazy to hate the Liberals, just that it’s crazy to hate them crazy, if you know what I mean.

If Mr. Harper were not being driven right around the bend by the possibility that people might just vote Justin Trudeau back into 24 Sussex Drive – his old family home, as it were – he would have known there were better ways to exploit “Unification,” as it was known back in those pre-Moonie days, than changing the uniforms back again the way they were before, nyaaa-nyaaa-da-boo-boo. I mean, like, seriously, who cares any more? I’m telling you, not even the Navy!

No, if Mr. Harper, who was 7 when the Liberals brought in Unification, had been quite his diabolically sneaky old self, the master of wedge issues of yore, he would have reminded voters just who cooked up the most significant armed forces policy since General Sir Arthur Currie, late of the Gay Gordons (I’m not making that up), took command of the Canadian Corps in 1917.

And by that I don’t just mean the Liberals. No, Unification was managed by Paul Hellyer, Lester Pearson’s minister of national defence, who was not only a Tory turncoat, but has just spent the last decade warning us all about the danger of inter-galactic war with fleets of flying saucers. (Really! I’m not making that up, either!)

Seriously, people, if that factoid doesn’t persuade Canadians the Grits are flakier than Auntie Dot’s pastry, well, the Conservatives are simply doomed! We might as well all just get used to it.

Well, enough helping Mr. Harper with his strategical difficulties. The government’s excuse is that not letting soldiers and sailors wear the distinctive Canadian maple leaf brought in by Mr. Person will… oh, wait, that’s it, isn’t it?

Not only was Unification a Liberal idea, so was the stylized 11-point maple leaf on our flag!

And, anyway, let’s face it, Mr. Harper really doesn’t like Canada.

Oh, I know, he sounds as patriotic as the next neocon nut from south of the Medicine Line most days, but, remember, this is the guy who called our country “a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term” and accused Canadians of bragging about it “to mask its second-rate status.”

C’mon, do you seriously believe he’s really changed his mind? Of course he wants to deep-six the most successful symbol of our modern expression of national pride!

And given that the cost of the pips, crowns and brassy squiggles was only $4.6-million, we could hardly expect his government to phase in the change to save money. I mean, if soldiers didn’t all dress exactly the same, it wouldn’t be a uniform, would it?

As a dear old quartermaster sergeant once said to me on some press tour of one fake battlefield or another during the war with the Union of Fantasian Socialist Republics (UFSR), “When we all dress the same, it looks …. it looks … NICE!

I’m not knocking the army for that, by the way. They let me drink beer in the Sergeants’ Mess and drive an armoured personnel carrier over a small tree.

But what’s Mr. Harper gonna do next? Restore wiggly brass to the naval reserve … hellllooo Wavy Navy! Bring back the Red Ensign? Make us all sing God Save the Queen?

These are serious questions!

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

Progressive Conservative leadership candidates take aim at federal bogeyman, demand Alberta’s own immigration policy

Alberta’s three Progressive Conservative leadership candidates contemplate Ottawa mucking about with the beloved Temporary Foreign Worker Program. From left to right: Ric McIver, Jim Prentice and Thomas Lukaszuk. Actual would-be Alberta premiers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: the real Messrs. McIver, Prentice and Lukaszuk.

Never mind Alberta’s Lake of Fire! Is that an Alberta Firewall I hear being erected?

The three Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidates met in in the northwestern oilpatch supply centre of Grande Prairie Saturday night for an all-candidates’ forum at which they displayed a fierce Alberta independantiste spirit that would have warmed the heart of the old Firewaller himself, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were he not pretending to be the leader of all the Canadians nowadays.

And if you thought Saturday night in GP was for fightin’, it turns out it’s for making kissy faces and agreeing how awful Ottawa is!

The cause of all this unanimity? Outrage at federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s modest tweaks to the so-called Temporary Foreign Worker Program which – who knew? – turns out to be essential to Alberta’s economic survival.

First to attack, according to the Edmonton Journal’s coverage of the event, was former labour minister Thomas Lukaszuk who huffed that Alberta must have the same immigration power Quebec does.

“They have negotiated a stand-alone deal with Ottawa where they have full autonomy over their immigration policies,” the Journal reported Mr. Lukaszuk as saying. “I will be demanding the same thing for Alberta.”

Owing to our unique and vast cultural differences with the rest of English Canada, no doubt.

“If it’s good enough for Quebec,” he went on, “it’s good enough for Alberta, and there is no reason why different provinces should be treated so differently on a matter as crucial as supply of labour and immigration to this country.”

It was in fact appropriate that former premier Alison Redford’s labour minister take the lead on complaining that a few modest restrictions to the TFW Program are “punitive to Western Canada,” because Mr. Lukaszuk played such a key role in the Redford Government’s sustained attack on the rights of working people to use their current economic bargaining power to raise their incomes.

After all, wage suppression is the name of the game in conservative circles nowadays – especially here in Alberta where labour shortages should force wages upward – and Mr. Lukaszuk was a star player in the game before Ms. Redford was fired by her caucus in March.

To give him his due, however, at least Mr. Lukaszuk has consistently held the position that Alberta really needs permanent immigrants, not temporary workers. Indeed, he almost sounded like a New Democrat when he argued Saturday that, from a moral perspective, Ottawa’s TFW program “is simply wrong.”

“These people are not tools that we are renting for two years, and throwing out just to bring another one,” said Mr. Lukaszuk, whose outlook obviously benefitted from coming to Canada as an immigrant when he was a youth. “These are human beings with goals and aspirations and they need to be treated that way.”

And good for him for saying it – although it does raise the question of why he’s complaining about mild restrictions being placed on the TFW Program’s most odious features if he thinks the whole thing is immoral. I’d guess that has something to do with who finances small-c conservatives in this country nowadays.

That, plus the fact no Alberta politician can ever resist the temptation to describe the province’s economy as a Manichean struggle with Ottawa’s unending desire to favour Central Canada – which is no doubt what prompted Prime Minister Harper’s signature on the sovereignist Firewall Manifesto back in 2001.

This is a bit of a laugh since all the Central Canadian politicians being attacked by the Tory leadership candidates Saturday night are from that well-known Central Canadian city of … Calgary.

According to the journalistic dispatches from the front – I can’t tell you I’m prepared to drive several hours to GP for a Conservative leadership forum, although I did once go to Red Deer for the same purpose – frontrunner Jim Prentice mostly parroted Mr. Lukaszuk’s demand for an independent Alberta immigration policy.

Mr. Prentice qualified that slightly by recognizing the cultural roots of Quebec’s insistence on control over its immigration policy – a level of awareness unusual, if not actually unique, in Alberta conservative circles.

“We’ve got to put our foot down,” Mr. Prentice said, playing one of his two top cards, his supposedly close relationship with Mr. Harper from back in the day when he held a couple of portfolios in the PM’s cabinet. Mr. Prentice’s other high card, by the way, is the fact he’s an “outsider,” leastways, he wasn’t part of Ms. Redford’s government.

The third candidate, former infrastructure minister Ric McIver, agreeably told a likely story about a restaurant owner who claims he’ll have to close three restaurants if he can’t get more TFWs – going out of business apparently being a more reasonable fate than paying your employees a competitive wage.

Mr. McIver, of course, has been bathing in a Lake of Fire of his own creation lately, so he may be looking for a firewall of his own to preserve his tatters of dignity, if not his chances of emerging as winner of the Tory leadership race, where he is pretty well done like dinner.

On this, presumably, he is now taking the advice of his campaign manager, Ken Boessenkool, another signatory of the separatist Firewall Manifesto.

As for ordinary Albertans, it would be a mistake to conclude, as the Globe and Mail apparently did yesterday, that they support the TFW Program as their politicians do. On this, if little else, Mr. Kenney was right to dismiss the brouhaha about TFWs as the pleading of “special interests.”

What’s new and different is only that the special interests in question are normally carefully attended to by both provincial and federal Tories.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.