The Harper Index - Minority governmentMinority government

"Aspirational goals" for greenhouse gas reduction invite ridicule
  Technological approach an excuse for inaction.

"Clean government" – Rhetoric contrasts with record
  Throne speech glosses over government's lapses and embarrassments.

"Muzzling" strategy could be turning off the public
  Decline in "intensity of comfort" with Harper majority could be tied to image as controlling.

Afghanistanization could conceal many intentions
  History of getting 'locals' to uphold American interventions will not inspire confidence.

Aboriginal agenda conflicts with background of Harper advisors
  Lead advisor Tom Flanagan has made a career of opposing land claims.

Aboriginal Day of Action spotlights the contrast between government statements and Conservatives' political record
  Harper-Reform-Alliance have practised "politics of resentment" against Aboriginals for years.

Abortion debate could be reopened despite Harper protests
  In spite of controlling tendencies, PM has never quashed anti-abortion Caucus members.

Afghanistan – Harper imitates Bush's cut-and-run, support-the-troops rhetoric
  Canadian deaths up ante in patriotic slogan debate.

Africa hears more reasons to do less
  G8 performance reaffirms 2007 reversals on Canadian aid.

Agents provocateurs active at Montebello?
  Report of official cameraperson being roughed up follows videos from earlier in day of alleged police agents assaulting union leader.

Appointments: another Conservative placed on Toronto Port Authority
  Could tip balance against environmentalists and community group.

Arar report censorship meant to protect American security establishment
  Harper likely involved in decisions meant to protect allies - Arar lawyer.

Arctic frame for sovereignty should be cooperation, not confrontation - Byers
  Harper's combative attitude could undo years of cooperation, while credibility is undermined by social conditions in the North.

Arctic sovereignty slogan masks win for military lobby
  New ships won't meet civil needs in North, earmarked for military operations elsewhere?

Artists need long-term support for infrastructure – Charlie Angus
  Juno nominee MP gives Harper credit for singing, but says Canada's edge in arts industries continues to be undermined.

Authoritarianism creeps into culture of Harper government
  Killing CAIRS database makes it easier to delay, obfuscate and withhold information - journalists.

Baird takes centre stage in Bali within days of slush fund testimony to committee
  Environment minister "haunted" by past and present as political operator opposed to environmental initiatives.

Bernier, Maxime – Accidents do happen
  Flat-tax advocate was poster boy for Quebec Conservatives.

Blocking public documents has become a pattern
  Harper cannot blame previous government for undermining his own inquiry.

Boessenkool re-emerges as a Taser lobbyist
  Long-time friend and advisor to PM also lobbied for cancer drug plan in budget

Boxing in future governments is part of Harper plan
  The next prime minister will find it difficult to undo today's changes.

Brodie, Ian – Former Harper chief of staff takes job with top lobby firm
  Could violate Conflict of Interest Act – Democracy Watch.

Buckler, Sandra – Former lobbyist is one of Harper's top advisors
  Communications director maintains iron grip on who speaks, when and how.

Budget warning signs raise doubts that announced money will get spent
  Leaks over-hype stimulus spending – economists.

Burma actions don't match resolution Conservatives supported in 2005
  Harper refused to meet last year with leader of government in exile.

Bush and Harper retain close ties
  Allies on global warming, Afghanistan, Iraq and trade deals stay in touch.

Cabinet changes signal centrist image
  Harper is likely to continue calling the shots despite having more ministers and a bigger, more expensive government.

Cabinet shuffle all about public and internal "messaging" – pollster
  Afghanistan "tag team" is main event but third shuffle in 18 months also sends message about who's in charge.

Cadman affair dramatically changes election timing scenarios
  March 17 by-elections likely to go ahead, and Liberals could bring down government this spring if Conservatives sink in polls.

Canadian Wheat Board – a longtime Conservative target – halts Harper government in court
  Ideologically-driven fight against Board led to charges government acted illegally in stripping its powers.

Casey at the bat: three swings and out
  Harper Conservatives can't say they weren't warned in vote against Budget by well-liked Nova Scotia MP.

CBC has been a Reform-Alliance-Conservative target for years
  Public broadcaster faces political heat on top of years of budget cuts.

CBC would be damaged by Conservative recommendations in committee report
  Calls for public broadcaster to do more with resources currently acknowledged as insufficient.

Child care whopper – no new spaces from $100 handout
  Federal funding cuts put thousands of spaces and jobs in jeopardy.

Climate change disinterest glaringly apparent on world stage
  Harper skips UN meetings on global survival for photo ops.

Coalition push forces Harper onto the defensive
  Momentum – including open online letter – grows to replace minority Conservatives.

Colombia corporate trade push meets Canadian citizen resistance
  Uribe stonewalls on tough questions from Bloc and NDP.

Colombia trade deal coming back to Parliament for vote
  Every reputable human rights organization on the planet has spoken out against this - Peter Julian.

Colombia trade deal will increase repression – Latin American workers
  In-depth online video news feature offers warning to Canadians about continuing on corporate trade route.

Colombia trade deal will increase repression – Latin American workers
  Many crises must be addressed - Victor Baez Mosquieira.

Colombia trade deal will increase repression – Latin American workers – Part 3
  An interview with David Abdulah conducted by Ish Theilheimer for Straight Goods News.

Colombia trade deal will increase repression – Latin American workers – Part 4
  An interview with Manuel Rozental conducted by Ish Theilheimer for Straight Goods News.

Colombia trade deal will increase repression – Latin American workers – Part 5
  Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby-Westminster and NDP trade critic, is interviewed by Ish Theilheimer for Straight Goods News.

Colombia trade deal will increase repression – Latin American workers – Part 6
  Liberal trade critic Scott Brison is scrummed by Ish Theilheimer for Straight Goods News.

Colvin's gagging and public smearing highlight callousness
  Harperites deaf to suffering of detainees, innocent or not, and quick to slag courageous whistleblower.

Compromises came too late from Harper Conservatives
  Activists need to frame coalition politics correctly to win the day.

Consumers at risk due to cuts to federal science and inspection programs
  Canada-China health committee announcement leaves "a long way to go" to protect consumers.

Corporate rights trump human rights, while corporate social responsibility bill cast adrift in Senate
  Harper visits a foreign Barrick Gold operation for a second time this year.

Corporate tax cuts to go to US Treasury as Obama closes loophole
  US will tax its companies the difference between foreign taxes and domestic ones to slow outsourcing.

Cuts "disheartening" as public policy research shifts quietly into private hands
  Science role of federal government diminished - something brewing at Environment Canada?

Deep integration – TILMA and SPP to bring in rules to let corporations challenge our laws
  Conservatives quietly advance plans that could deregulate Canada and bring our energy under US control.

Democracy threat countered by Youtube and indie media – union leader Dave Coles
  Agents provocateurs only the tip of Montebello story.

Dysfunctional minority likely to be more so with a renewed one
  If Harper governs again, look for more moderate image to catch Quebec voters that got away.

Economic management draws failing grade from observers
  Harper has repeatedly choosen politics over sound management - retired Finance official.

Economic update gives 12% cut to wealthy corporations, misses opportunities
  Oil industry and banks are chief beneficiaries.

Economy being hollowed out by resource sell-offs, despite PM's jokes – Watkins
  Value of US buyouts of CDN companies in first half of '07 more than four times value of CDN buyouts of US firms.

Election strategy for Conservatives focuses on Quebec and Ontario
  Pollsters discuss the Harper campaign and ways to counter it.

Elections Canada warning chills citizens' groups
  Warning letter blurs lines between advertising and advocacy.

Environment action under Harper does not indicate support for international effort
  Department in limbo with cuts, management changes and confusing signals from minister.

Equalization – A simple idea made complicated by politics
  Damage to Conservatives from controversy likely to postpone election indefinitely.

Ethical issues haunt Conservatives after campaigning on accountability
  Appointment of "government representative" in NDP-held riding and Pat Binns ambassadorship fuel criticism.

Fiscal update shows there is no new Harper
  Cut-throat plan to end democratic financing features lack of financial recovery plan.

Fixed election date legislation led to snap election
  One year after breaking his own law, Harper is still in control.

Flaherty, Jim – "One of nature's hard-liners" and a key player on Harper's team
  Affable style enables finance minister to skate past $6B deficit he helped leave Ontario.

Focus on jobs and democracy, say demonstrators
  Pro-coalition rallies staged across Canada in face of Conservative onslaught.

Foreign takeovers welcomed by self-serving panel on competition
  Corporate ringers told Harper what he wanted to hear – from an interview with Mel Watkins.

Gun control politics revised Canada's political map
  Private member's bill to kill long-gun registry combined with Conservative attack ads which target sitting Liberal and NDP MPs from rural ridings.

Guy Giorno moves to top of Harper org chart
  Harris hard-liner fits with ideological and cerebral style of new boss.

Harper's Framing – Review of eleven key issues reveals mixed results
  How government paints itself offers strategic clues to opposition.

Hillier, Rick – Brassy top soldier does what government can't
  Chief of staff used as booster and stalking horse for government military policies.

HST is another step to choking off funding for federal programs
  Extending consumption taxes while cutting income and business taxes transfers tax burden to those least able.

Human rights platitudes contrast with lack of Canadian action
  Canada falling down on commitments, disappointing international observers.

Human rights rhetoric contradicted by rush for Colombia trade pact
  Despite death squads, Harper government set to endorse Uribe government with deal.

Ideology and science
  Government actions raise concerns of underlying motives.

Image makeover signalled by surprise announcements and media outreach
  Rebranding initiatives follow on advice to steer to the centre and soften up.

Immigration changes contradict Conservatives' ethnic outreach
  Debate could backfire if it exposes intolerance or brings out comments that appear to consign immigrant workers to serving up coffee.

Insults, discourtesy and disrespect mark Harper team's behaviour
  Targets have included AIDS activists, Nobel Prize winners and Road to Avonlea star.

Isotope privatization fiasco triggered "crisis"
  Nuclear regulator overruled to help corporate beneficiary of subsidies to AECL.

Judges and Stephen Harper
  After years of complaining about judges' rulings, court appointments reflect ideology.

Keen's firing highlights public concern about safety and Conservative bully tactics
  Muzzling watchdog in isotope controversy could backfire on government and nuclear industry.

Kenney the worst kind of conservative
  Stance on Galloway has rightly received condemnation from across the political spectrum.

Kickbacks – Demanding party money from staff contradicts accountability promises
  Harper could be exploiting a loophole making it possible to funnel public funds into his party.

Kyoto undermined by rhetoric at APEC: Greenpeace
  Push for nuclear power could lead Canada to import massive amounts of waste.

Land claims progress questionable: analyst
  Apparent progess in first months of new tribunal has to do with which claims were processed, not how.

Language change foisted on diplomatic corps
  Humanitarian concerns conflict with Conservative frame, minister dares staff to challenge him.

Lies and name-calling blow up on Conservatives
  Separatist-bashing could undo all Harper's efforts to win Quebec over.

Lobbyists gain with weak accountability legislation and regulations
  "Revolving door" still exists between Conservative party political staff and industry front groups.

Long, Tom – Architect of "Common Sense Revolution" to pick CBC News heads
  Rhetoric and framing expert a natural ally for Stephen Harper.

Lunn, Gary – Anti-environmental "yes-man" holds green BC riding
  Isotope controversy may have been a diversion from opening Canada up for global nuclear waste.

Majority government would move faster and farther
  Social conservatives could call shots if Conservatives faced fewer constraints, predict most surveyed.

Mandatory minimum sentences proposed while US states repeal them
  Liberals cave, so Canada will face the kind of swollen prison populations that have forced states into crisis, with some contemplating mass releases.

Manley's advice should be called the Ostrich Report
  It's a pipe dream to think the Americans and British will be willing to stay and fight for the long term in Afghanistan.

McVety, Charles – Evangelical heavyweight roams in Harper's halls of power
  Lobbyist who helps run Christian pressure groups will testify on Bill C-10.

Media centre under PM's control would take a page from the Republican handbook
  Reporters appalled by attempts to subvert freedom of expression - Press Gallery president.

Military contracting – Afghanistan creates pretext for unscrutinized increases
  Much, possibly most, spending done without competitive bidding.

Mining companies should uphold Canada's standards abroad – Bill C-300
  Corporate social responsibility advocates in fight with industry lobby.

Minority government – Harper shows contempt for compromise by changing the rules
  Brinksmanship intended to contrast Dion's indecision with image of tough leadership.

Minority government – Not as Harper saw it in opposition
  Clean Air Act (C30) dead in water despite debate to bring it back.

Missile defence – Questioning Harper's role as go-between
  PM uses Canada's image as international mediator to advance American president's agenda.

Mission vs. war – How Afghanistan conflict is framed
  Canada's military involvement has been marketed as a noble cause, with help from Hillier, Horton's and hockey.

Mulroney's causes have done well under Harper government
  Former prime minister's directorships tie in closely with with major policies of Harper government.

Mulroney-Schreiber affair threatens PM's credibility
  After campaigning for restitution of Liberal sponsorship spending, Harper will be pressed to make his mentor repay libel award.

Mulroney-Schreiber investigation puts Harper in conflict of interest
  Fully impartial inquiries needed to clean up ethical questions about federal government activities.

National Research Council cuts contradict stimulus talk
  "Diminishing" of public science leaves public without first line of protection.

Native rights stance in UN vote lost allies for Canada
  Massive support for Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was a stunning defeat for Canada.

New Stephen Harper will be defined by Quebec and recession
  If deficit grows, he will face pressure for cuts that will define him, contrary to his strategy, as an ideologue.

Nova Scotia agreement continues hollowing out of federal government potential
  Deal with MacDonald allows Harper to say "at least one Atlantic premier likes me."

Nuclear energy endorsement may be linked to tar sands and climate change pressure
  Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs.

O'Connor, Gordon – Now must defend doubling of costs for tank estimates
  Embattled defence minister is former soldier and military industry lobbyist.

Obama strategy in Afghanistan constrasts with Harper approach
  Troop buildup likely intended to strengthen negotiating position.

Obama visit invokes closed doors
  Stephen Harper may have opted to avoid unflattering comparisons with visiting American president.

Obama visit puts Canada on the defensive
  President could be concerned Canada is free-riding on the coat-tails of a U.S. recovery initiative and may pressure PM to do more.

Obstructionism from Canada blocks global climate change progress
  Australian scientist, best-selling author Tim Flannery urges Canada to be part of the solution.

Parliamentary democracy disdained under new rules
  Conservatives campaigning to disarm institutions of Canadian government and replace them with a regime based on plebiscites.

Partisan government ads put Conservatives – deliberately – on thin ice
  Controversial giant cheques are censured in public and probably sanctioned in private.

Patronage and employment programs
  Although Conservatives restore some funding due to "blowback", politics remains embedded in Canada summer jobs program and heritage festivals fund.

Pay equity spin gives women the kiss-off
  Labour steps up campaign to stop attack on rights.

Pharmaceutical lobby calls shots on food and drug amendments
  Natural supplements users protest C-51, but bigger danger may be that drug companies will be able to regulate themselves and sell untested drugs.

Phony grassroots groups peddle Conservative propaganda
  Canadians for Afghanistan and Friends of Science have connections to Harper's political agenda.

Playbook for election looks like vintage Alberta politics
  Name-calling is about mobilizing the base and creating distraction.

Playing for an election in budget perilous - Laxer
  Harper guided by the orthodox economics that landed the world in its present grave crisis.

Political interference charges dog Baird and other Conservatives
  Allegations of meddling in environment grants, municipal politics, and rebates through in-and-out campaign financing are under investigation.

Poverty fight wins unanimous consent
  Advocates can measure government action against its call for income security and social infrastructure.

Pressure stalls Colombia trade deal again
  Grassroots pressure and combined Bloc/NDP effort shelve C23 again.

Privatization – Harper Conservatives quietly eye options
  Nuclear sell-off and private prisons may be on horizon.

Privatizing federal buildings a "sweet deal" for new owners
  25-year deal leaves taxpayers responsible for billions in undefined future rent and maintenance costs.

Pro-Coalition Demo on Parliament Hill – pictorial
  Let's Make Parliament Work Rally brings out 4000 supporters.

Prorogation and budget strategy pay off for Harper
  Ignatieff confirms Conservatives' status as government.

Public appointments and patronage
  Harper government stacks public service with loyalists while it stalls on setting up accountable panel.

Public opinion, July 2007 – Poll numbers near majority for Harper
  The great mystery is whether Green voters are committed or merely parked.

Public opinion, June 2007 – Harper has not learned to broaden the base
  Pollster evaluates public response to Stephen Harper in wake of end of Parliamentary session.

Public opinion, September 2007 – What the Quebec by-elections do not mean
  Repeated polling shows political sea change is unlikely.

Public understanding of Harper's extreme agenda keeps him from total power
  Hidden agenda is no longer an issue, which is what keeps Cons stalled in low 30s in public opinion.

Quebec byelections – Veil controversy, sponsorship, Mulroney book, all play into strategy to win next election
  Conservative bid for Bloc votes may be countered by positions on environment, Afghanistan.

Quebec strategies bear fruit for Harper... and Layton
  By-elections redraw Canada's political map.

Rae steps aside, giving Liberal leadership to Ignatieff
  He insists coalition will go ahead despite new leader's equivocation on the subject.

Raitt "insults Canadians"
  Plumping for nuclear industry takes priority over health and safety for resources minister - anti-tritium activists.

RCMP – Task force instead of inquiry sends law-and-order signals
  Controversy stems from Harper maintaining control of appointments process despite accountability promises.

Recession – Harper comfortable with shrunken federal government
  But his no-deficit position would "accelerate, deepen and lengthen" any downturn — economist.

Refugee board patronage appointees will follow political directives
  Recent IRB appointees include anti-gay evangelical and brass from CLAC, the anti-union union.

Religious rightists get Harper promotions
  Faith conservatives get two senior positions in the Prime Minister's Office.

Residential schools apology clashes with Conservative record
  "20 years from now some other PM will be apologizing for the 2008 moratorium on reserve school construction" - First Nations observer.

Retreating, improvising and squabbling shake Harper team
  Spirit of compromise unlikely to last long, with new Commons seats a hoped-for source of Conservative support.

Riddell, Alan – Lifelong Conservative bullied into dropping out of race – his case for membership loss wins settlement
  Libel suit settled out of court leaving open the question whether Stephen Harper lied.

Ritz aggressively defends industry
  Embattled agriculture minister is known as bully and yes-man for Stephen Harper.

Sale / leaseback of federal buildings a bad deal for Canadians – PSAC president
  Government "shedding" federal buildings while banks benefit from sell-off; land claims talks save taxpayers millions.

Secrecy is a Harper trademark – journalists
  Conservative government wins top marks again in reverse competition.

SPP is built around secrecy and US military command – law expert
  Sovereignty rhetoric contradicted by turnover of controls on military and immigration.

Stimulus needed
  Why we need a coalition government to deal with the economic crisis.

Stimulus spending does not match claims from Harper at G20
  Government chose least effective ways to create jobs and slowest ones to get money out the door.

Strategy
  Stephen Harper's objective for years has been to sell right-wing, Western-based conservativism to leery urban voters. He won in 2006 by playing down ideology and emphasizing "priorities" that he could be seen to move on quickly.

Surplus budgeting now framed as taxpayer benefit
  "Surprises" once scorned, now provide excuse to avoid social spending.

Surprise Afghanistan visit meant to defuse, inoculate and distract
  Posing with school children quiets discussion of Conservative dirty tricks manual.

Tank purchase to cost $1.3 billion for questionable results
  Old guard "tank men" led by Gordon O'Connor won debate.

Tar sands whistle-blower witch-hunt
  Doctor who raised alarm over high cancer rates charged while First Nations people get brush-off.

Wheat board ultimatum sends another ominous message to public agencies
  Frustrated by courts, Conservatives threaten unprecedented moves which critics charge will "hand over control to private multinationals".


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