Please note this address will change without
|Elections are big business to big
business! Democratic Alternative Viewpoints
Helps Democratize Local Election
Not only are elections big-business to big-business,
where they earn the equivalent of several years of accumulated
sponsorship scandal dollars within the period of a few short weeks, big
business also stand to gain disproportionate advantage from and during
Conservative and Liberal majority governments.
Within this cozy arrangement, it should therefore come
as no surprise, (though that does not legitimize such behaviour) that
the bigger businesses exercise their vested-self-interest interests by
conducting with impunity their undemocratic "all candidate
forums", forums that either do not include ALL the candidates, or
if they do, do so with rules providing inside advantage to the majors.
And true to the jungle war mentality where there are "no unfair
advantages in a competitive environment" particularly the
Conservatives and Liberals conveniently stayed silent when in the face
of the status quo, "silence means consent".
Yet despite being the lone honest voice consistently
advocating universal democratic improvement, it was on more than one
occasion, through the exercise of the moral authority even as a power of
one, it was possible to democratize the election process.
It is therefore also with pleasure, that I raise my
hat to the local community based newspapers, the Gwen Sector, John Black
United Church and Glenn Rossang, for conducting all candidate forums
that included ALL the candidates!
It was also a pleasure that two major planks of mine
were endorsed at least in part by the major parties. At the John
Black forum, Terry Duguild cheered with heart-felt enthusiasm when I
said the last election, would have produced more democratic results to
his own benefit had we had the preferential ballot. Yet
surprisingly, though he freely said he liked and welcomed the proposal,
he could not bring himself to say that he would work emphatically for
its adoption. And even though the former Alliance and PC parties
would also have benefited by not splitting the vote in former elections,
Joy Smith stayed noticeably silent even though the Conservatives claim
they want to advance electoral reform.
Another highlight came at the West St. Paul forum when a farmer
challenged Joy Smith for her leader Stephen Harper for wanting to be
elected democratically, only to then undemocratically eliminate the
democratically elected wheat board. It was plain to see, she new
little of the wheat board file, but stated in the context of the
conservatives having free votes, she would ensure Harper came to
Winnipeg to review the details of the file before any government steps
would be taken. Please click
here for details of Harpers prior corporate-friendly
citizen-unfriendly alliances to get rid of the wheat board. Nor
are the liberals clean on this file, please see several articles further
below which show up the liberal's own double talk of supporting the
board while pushing it towards privatization.
In this context I will now also raise that prior to
the Manitoba Telephone System (MTS) being forcibly privatized by the Filmon
Conservative Government, MTS was a publicly owned utility, one which was
regulated by Manitobans through the Public Utility Board (PUB) process.
From 1986 until about 1997, I appeared numerous times before the PUB, as
the spokesperson for CONECTS (Citizens Opposing Non-Equitable Charges
for Telephone Services), effectively championing changes which MTS
fought tooth and nail, like the modernization of MTS through the
elimination of party lines (which opened the door for rural people to
use answering machines, faxes and the internet) and the elimination of
local-long-distance, so that no neighbour in Manitoba had to pay
long-distance to call a neighbour.
Despite Manitoba being much less densely populated
than many urban areas throughout North America and having to run wire
over longer stretches between customers, MTS was still in the enviable
position of providing service to every family and business who wanted a
phone, (even Ma Bell did not have 100% penetration rates) with Manitoba
still having, if not the lowest rate the next to lowest rates anywhere
in North America.
I simply raise this factual base, as a point that
refutes the foundationless big-business contention that government
cannot run a businesses efficiently. Yes there are abuses that must be
addressed, but nonetheless, hydro, the former MTS, the wheat board, or
our road systems, our hospitals and school systems are all examples
where we achieve higher standards of care and service at lower costs by owning these
services collectively as a public service, than if delivered via
Back to top
you help stop Canada from promoting Terminator seeds at UN
URGENT - Last Chance - ACTION ALERT Stop Terminator
EMAIL the Canadian Delegation to the UN before January 25 2006
Will Canada lead new efforts to promote Terminator seeds at the UN
meeting starting Monday January 23?
The Canadian government is expected, once again, to
try to promote corporate Terminator seeds at a United Nations meeting
next week in Spain.
The UN meeting will examine the impacts of Terminator
on Indigenous peoples and farmers and Canada is expected to play down
the negative effects of Terminator and push for acceptance of Terminator
Though our government now publicly says that it does
not promote Terminator, their actions show the exact opposite. In fact,
Canada appears to be leading a campaign to push open the door to
approval of Terminator, arguing that governments should have the option
to approve Terminator seeds. The meeting next week of the UN Convention
on Biological Diversity Working Group on Article 8(j) in Granada, Spain
January 23-27 could be used as another chance to push for suicide seeds.
Terminator/GURTs is a technology of genetic
engineering that is designed by the multinational seed industry and the
United States Department of Agriculture to render seeds sterile at
harvest, thus preventing farmers from saving and re-using seed, forcing
them to return to corporations to buy seed every season. This predatory
strategy has been widely condemned by scientific bodies, international
development experts, Indigenous peoples, and farmer and civil society
organizations because it threatens livelihoods, food security, and
The UN responded to the threats posed by Terminator in
2000 with a "de facto" moratorium on Terminator.(1)
Unfortunately, the moratorium is now under attack. Multinational seed
corporations are increasing pressure to win acceptance for Terminator.
Companies have new brochures promoting Terminator and are working at the
UN to lobby for an end to the moratorium. There have even been new
patents on Terminator awarded in Canada and Europe. An all-out
international ban on GURTs is the only way to halt the corporate push
for suicide seeds.
Terminator would interrupt Indigenous and farmer seed
saving and seed exchange, and thereby have important impacts on the
practice and retention of traditional knowledge that, in turn, supports
food sovereignty, self-determination, cultural and spiritual practices,
and the protection of biodiversity around the world.
Terminator is a biosafety hazard as Terminator seeds
could be unintentionally introduced into communities through seed
markets or humanitarian food aid.
Terminator genes can also escape through pollen flow
in the first generation, passing sterility genes to related (open
pollinated) crops nearby. (see http://www.banterminator.org/the_issues/biosafety)
MORE INFORMATION: For more information about the
concerns of Indigenous peoples and the potential impacts of Terminator
on traditional knowledge see http://www.banterminator.org/p/124.
TAKE ACTION *BEFORE WEDNESDAY January 25
EMAIL the head the Canadian Government Delegation to
the 8j UN Meeting -
Timothy J Hodges,
Access and Benefit Sharing,
Biodiversity Convention Office,
Ask Canadian officials to protect the rights of
Indigenous peoples and farmers to save and breed seeds.
Ask Canada to acknowledge that the serious negative
impacts of Terminator on traditional knowledge, Indigenous peoples and
farmers in Canada and around the world require a ban on the technology.
Be sure to send your email by Wednesday January 25.
The International Ban Terminator Campaign was formed
in May 2005 by civil society groups and movements in response to the
threats posed by Terminator and the new corporate promotion of the
technology. The Ban Terminator Campaign seeks to promote government bans
on Terminator technology at the national and international levels, and
supports the efforts of civil society, farmers, Indigenous peoples and
social movements to campaign against it. The Campaign is supported by
groups and movements across the world including AS-PTA (Assessoria e
Serviços a Projectos em Agricultura Alternativa), ETC Group (Action
group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration), GRAIN, Indigenous
Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, ITDG (Intermediate Technology
Development Group), Pesticide Action Network - Asia and the Pacific,
Third World Network, Via Campesina.
(1) "de facto" moratorium: Convention on Biological Diversity,
Agricultural biological diversity, Decision V/5, section III, paragraph
23: "Recommends that, in the current absence of reliable data on
genetic use restriction technologies, without which there is an
inadequate basis on which to assess their potential risks, and in
accordance with the precautionary approach, products incorporating such
technologies should not be approved by Parties for field testing until
appropriate scientific data can justify such testing, and for commercial
use until appropriate, authorized and strictly controlled scientific
assessments with regard to, inter alia, their ecological and
socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity,
food security and human health have been carried out in a transparent
manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated.
In order to enhance the capacity of all countries to address these
issues, Parties should widely disseminate information on scientific
assessments, including through the clearing-house mechanism, and share
their expertise in this regard."
Back to top
& Bush, two peas from the same pod
Linked by Leo Strauss
Close advisors schooled in 'the noble lie' and 'regime change'.
By Donald Gutstein
Published: November 29, 2005
What do close advisors to Stephen Harper and George W.
Bush have in common? They reflect the disturbing teachings of Leo
Strauss, the German-Jewish émigré who spawned the neoconservative
Strauss, who died in 1973, believed in the inherent
inequality of humanity. Most people, he famously taught, are too stupid
to make informed decisions about their political affairs. Elite
philosophers must decide on affairs of state for us.
In Washington, Straussians exert powerful influence
from within the inner circle of the White House. In Canada, they roost,
for now, in the so-called Calgary School, guiding Harper in framing his
election strategies. What preoccupies Straussians in both places is the
question of "regime change."
Strauss defined a regime as a set of governing ideas,
institutions and traditions. The neoconservatives in the Bush
administration, who secretly conspired to make the invasion of Iraq a
certainty, had a precise plan for regime change. They weren't out to
merely replace Saddam with an American puppet. They planned to make the
system more like the U.S., with an electoral process that can be
manipulated by the elites, corporate control over the levers of power
and socially conservative values.
Usually regime change is imposed on a country from
outside through violent means, such as invasion. On occasion, it occurs
within a country through civil war. After the American Civil War, a new
regime was imposed on the Deep South by the North, although the old
regime was never entirely replaced.
Is regime change possible through the electoral
process? It's happening in the U.S., where the neocons are succeeding in
transforming the American state from a liberal democracy into a
corporatist, theocratic regime. As Canada readies for a federal
election, the question must be asked: Are we next?
The 'noble lie'
Strauss believed that allowing citizens to govern
themselves will lead, inevitably, to terror and tyranny, as the Weimar
Republic succumbed to the Nazis in the 1930s. A ruling elite of
political philosophers must make those decisions because it is the only
group smart enough. It must resort to deception -- Strauss's "noble
lie" -- to protect citizens from themselves. The elite must hide
the truth from the public by writing in code. "Using metaphors and
cryptic language," philosophers communicated one message for the
elite, and another message for "the unsophisticated general
population," philosopher Jeet Heer recently wrote in the Globe and
Mail. "For Strauss, the art of concealment and secrecy was among
the greatest legacies of antiquity."
The recent outing of star New York Times reporter
Judith Miller reveals how today's neocons use the media to conceal the
truth from the public. For Straussians, telling Americans that Saddam
didn't have WMD's and had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda, but that we
needed to take him out for geopolitical and ideological reasons you
can't comprehend, was a non-starter. The people wouldn't get it. Time
for a whopper.
Miller was responsible for pushing into the Times the
key neocon lie that Saddam was busy stockpiling weapons of mass
destruction. This deception helped build support among Americans for the
invasion of Iraq. Miller was no independent journalist seeking the truth
nor a victim of neocon duplicity, as she claimed. She worked closely
with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was U.S. Vice President Dick
Cheney's Chief of Staff and responsible for coordinating Iraq
intelligence and communication strategy. Libby is a Straussian who
studied under Paul Wolfowitz, now head of the World Bank, and before
that, deputy secretary of defense, where he led the 'Invade Iraq"
lobby. Wolfowitz studied under Strauss and Allan Bloom, Strauss's most
Miller cultivated close links to the neocons in the
administration and at the American Enterprise Institute, the leading
Washington-based neocon think tank. AEI played the key role outside
government in fabricating intelligence to make the case for invading
Iraq. Straussian Richard Perle, who chaired the Defence Policy Board
Advisory Committee until he was kicked off because of a conflict of
interest, is a senior fellow at AEI and coordinated its efforts. Miller
co-wrote a book on the Middle East with an AEI scholar. Rather than
being a victim of government manipulation, Miller was a conduit between
the neocons and the American public. As a result of her reporting, many
Americans came to believe that Saddam had the weapons. War and regime
'Regime change' in Canada
As in the U.S., regime change became a Canadian media
darling. Before 9-11, the phrase appeared in Canadian newspapers less
than ten times a year. It usually referred to changes in leadership of a
political party or as part of the phrase "regulatory regime
change." Less than a week after 9-11, the phrase began to be used
in its Straussian sense, as if a scenario was being choreographed.
From 19 mentions in Canadian newspapers in 2001,
regime change soared to 790 mentions in 2002 and 1334 mentions in 2003.
With the Iraq invasion accomplished that year, usage tailed off in 2004
(291 mentions) and in 2005 (208 mentions to November 10).
There's one big difference between American and
Canadian Straussians. The Americans assumed positions of power and
influence in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
The Canadians have not had much opportunity to show (or is that hide?)
their stuff. That may change with a Harper victory.
Paul Wolfowitz's teacher, Allan Bloom, and another Straussian, Walter
Berns, taught at the University of Toronto during the
1970s. They left their teaching posts at Cornell
University because they couldn't stomach the student radicalism of the
'60s. At Toronto, they influenced an entire generation of political
scientists, who fanned out to universities across the country.
Two of their students, Ted Morton and Rainer Knopff,
went to the University of Calgary where they specialize in attacking the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They claim the charter is the result of
a conspiracy foisted on the Canadian people by "special
interests." These nasty people are feminists, gays and lesbians,
the poor, prisoners and refugee-rights groups who are advancing their
own interests through the courts at the expense of the general public,
these Straussians allege.
The problem with their analysis is that the special
interest which makes more use of the courts to advance its interests
than all these other groups combined -- business -- receives not a
mention. Deception by omission is a common Straussian technique. The
weak are targeted while the real culprits disappear.
Harper studied under the neocons at the University of
Calgary and worked with them to craft policies for the fledgling Reform
Party in the late 1980s. Together with Preston Manning, they created an
oxymoron, a populist party backed by business.
Ted Morton has turned his attention to provincial
politics. He's an elected MLA and a candidate to succeed Premier Ralph
Klein. But he did influence the direction of right-wing politics at the
federal level as the Canadian Alliance director of research under
When Harper threw his hat in the ring for the
leadership of the Alliance, Tom Flanagan, the Calgary School's informal
leader, became his closest adviser. Harper and Flanagan, whose
scholarship focuses on attacking aboriginal rights, entered a four-year
writing partnership and together studied the works of government-hater
Friedrich Hayek. Flanagan ran the 2004 Conservative election campaign
and is pulling the strings as the country readies for the election.
Political philosopher Shadia Drury is an expert on
Strauss, though not a follower. She was a member of Calgary's political
science department for more than two decades, frequently locking horns
with her conservative colleagues before leaving in 2003 for the
University of Regina.
Strauss recommended harnessing the simplistic
platitudes of populism to galvanize mass support for measures that
would, in fact, restrict rights. Does the Calgary School resort to such
deceitful tactics? Drury believes so. Such thinking represents "a
huge contempt for democracy," she told the Globe and Mail's John
Ibbotson. The 2004 federal election campaign run by Flanagan was
"the greatest stealth campaign we have ever seen," she said,
"run by radical populists hiding behind the cloak of rhetorical
Straus and 'Western alienation'
The Calgary School has successfully hidden its program
beneath the complaint of western alienation. "If we've done
anything, we've provided legitimacy for what was the Western view of the
country," Calgary Schooler Barry Cooper told journalist Marci
McDonald in her important Walrus article. "We've given
intelligibility and coherence to a way of looking at it that's outside
the St. Lawrence Valley mentality." This is sheer Straussian
deception. On the surface, it's easy to understand Cooper's complaint
and the Calgary School's mission. But the message says something very
different to those in the know. For 'St. Lawrence Valley mentality,'
they read 'the Ottawa-based modern liberal state,' with all the negative
baggage it carries for Straussians. And for 'Western view,' they read
'the right-wing attack on democracy.' We've provided legitimacy for the
radical-right attack on the Canadian democratic state, Cooper is really
A network is already in place to assist Harper in
foisting his radical agenda on the Canadian people.
In 2003, he delivered an important address to a group
called Civitas. This secretive organization, which has no web site and
leaves little paper or electronic trail, is a network of Canadian
neoconservative and libertarian academics, politicians, journalists and
think tank propagandists.
Harper's adviser Tom Flanagan is an active member.
Conservative MP Jason Kenney is a member, as are Brian Lee Crowley, head
of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and Michel Kelly-Gagnon of
the Montreal Economic Institute, the second and third most important
right-wing think tanks after the Fraser Institute.
Civitas is top-heavy with journalists to promote the
cause. Lorne Gunter of the National Post is president. Members include
Janet Jackson (Calgary Sun) and Danielle Smith (Calgary Herald).
Journalists Colby Cosh, William Watson and Andrew Coyne (all National
Post) have made presentations to Civitas.
The Globe and Mail's Marcus Gee is not mentioned in
relation to Civitas but might as well be a member, if his recent column
titled "George Bush is not a liar," is any evidence. In it,
Gee repeats the lies the Bush neocons are furiously disseminating to
persuade the people that Bush is not a liar.
Neo-con to Theo-con
The speech Harper gave to Civitas was the source of
the charge made by the Liberals during the 2004 election -- sure to be
revived in the next election -- that Harper has a scary, secret agenda.
Harper urged a return to social conservatism and social values, to
change gears from neocon to theocon, in The Report's Ted Byfield's apt
but worrisome phrase, echoing visions of a future not unlike that
painted in Margaret Atwood's dystopian work, A Handmaid's Tale.
The state should take a more activist role in policing
social norms and values, Harper told the assembled conservatives. To
achieve this goal, social and economic conservatives must reunite as
they have in the U.S., where evangelical Christians and business rule in
an unholy alliance. Red Tories must be jettisoned from the party, he
said, and alliances forged with ethnic and immigrant communities who
currently vote Liberal but espouse traditional family values. This was
the successful strategy counselled by the neocons under Ronald Reagan to
pull conservative Democrats into the Republican tent.
Movement towards the goal must be
"incremental," he said, so the public won't be spooked.
Regime change, one step at a time.
Donald Gutstein, a senior lecturer in the School of
Communication at Simon Fraser University, writes a regular media column
for The Tyee.
Back to top
the "pecking order" test to Martin's record
Paul Martin: He has a record
There are still doubters - those who want to believe that Martin, in his
heart, is his father's son. (Paul Martin Sr. was a left-Liberal cabinet
minister in the 1960s and a dogged advocate of medicare.)
by Murray Dobbin
January 20, 2006
How do you judge a politician's promises?
It depends, in part, on whether or not they have a record to go by. Of
course, that's not absolutely necessary - you can judge Stephen Harper
by what he has said for nearly 20 years about what his core beliefs are.
Many of his policies this time around fundamentally contradict
everything he has ever said. Score zero for the credibility of his
But Paul Martin is even easier. He has a real and very
extensive record - which the media, to their shame, is not interested in
any more. If you want to know what a prime minister would really like to
do, take a look at what they did when they had no restrictions on their
power. Judging Martin on the recent minority government doesn't count -
he was trying to stay in power and had to please the NDP (and the
public) with at least some progressive policies.
No, much better to look at what he did as finance
minister from 1993- 2002. Martin was for those nine long years the
de facto prime minister of the country. Jean Chrétien wasn't interested
in policy or governing. He was a politician who saw his job as
maintaining the Liberals in power. He gave virtual carte blanche to
Martin to determine the direction of the government. While this was
disastrous for the country, it does give us a crystal clear view of what
the man is really all about.
The Martin myth
Conventional wisdom tells us that Paul Martin's place
in history, so far, is most notable for his getting rid of the deficit.
Our image: he spent most of his time as finance minister slaying the
"deficit dragon." But in fact, no finance minister in Canadian
history had ever been blessed with so many large and uninterrupted
budget surpluses: six to be exact, between 1997 and 2002 when he was
fired. The only deficits Martin faced were in his first two full years -
1994-95 and 1995-96.
Another persistent myth is that it was Martin's huge
budget cuts from 1995-97 that killed the deficit. In fact, those cuts
(they represented a 40 per cent reduction in federal social program
money, compared to Mulroney's 25 per cent cut) almost brought the
economy to a halt. A study by CIBC-Wood Gundy concluded that Martin's
cuts reduce economic growth in Canada by a huge 3.5 percentage
points through 1994-1996. The resulting loss in tax revenue almost
eliminated the savings gained by making the spending cuts.
The cuts combined with the zero inflation policy of
the Bank of Canada to create a recession lasting much of the 1990s.
Pierre Fortin, former President of the Canadian Economics Association,
put the cost of the cumulative unemployment caused by the cuts and high
interest rate policy at ".about $400 billion in foregone national
income" - equal to 30 per cent of the losses in the Great
When the Bank of Canada realized in 1997 that its high
interest rate policy was helping cause a growing recession it eased up.
The result? A huge burst of economic growth - and a huge increase in
government revenue. According to CAW economist Jim Stanford, had Martin
simply frozen spending at 1994 levels, and eased interest rates,
economic growth would have eliminated the deficit anyway - just two
years later. Without all the pain.
There is little doubt that Martin and his deputy
minister, David Dodge (now running the Bank of Canada) knew this. How do
we know? Because Paul Martin told us, in his February 27, 1995 budget
speech in Parliament. He did not boast about "slaying the
deficit." He boasted about cutting back the role of government to
levels not seen since 1951.
He proclaimed that he intended to "redesign the
very role and structure of government itself. Indeed, as far as we are
concerned, it is . the very redefinition of government itself that is
the main achievement of this budget." Announcing over $25 billion
in spending cuts over three years, he boasted: "Relative to the
size of our economy, program spending will be lower in 1996-97 than at
any time since 1951."
Martin's mandate and power went far beyond that of any
contemporary finance minister and his cuts reflected his conservative
commitment to restructure government. The most significant change was
the elimination of the country's core nation building legislation:
Established Program Funding, which targeted federal dollars to
post-secondary education and health care, and the Canada Assistance Plan
(CAP), which gave Ottawa influence over provincial social welfare
More than any other programs, these represented a
generation of federal leadership in social programs and nation building.
Martin replaced them with the Canada Health and Social Transfer - a lump
sum the provinces could spend as they pleased. It was radical
But he didn't stop there. The other departments key to
nation-building - natural resources, agriculture, the environment,
fisheries, regional and industrial development - saw huge and
disproportionate cuts of 50-60 per cent.
Canada's economic policy? A singular commitment to an
"aggressive trade strategy." Part of that was a commitment to
a "flexible labour" policy. Martin's additional cuts to
unemployment insurance and his elimination of the CAP, accompanied by
zero inflation targets, produced unemployment levels of over nine per
cent for most of the decade. While workers in the U.S. saw a cumulative
wage increase of 14 per cent in the 1990s, Canadian workers stood still,
all in the aid of making us "competitive" with the U.S.
The surplus shuffle
There are still doubters - those who want to believe
that Martin, in his heart, is his father's son. (Paul Martin Sr. was a
left-Liberal cabinet minister in the 1960s and a dogged advocate of
medicare.) If Martin had wanted to live up to his father's image he had
the authority, he had Chrétien's blessing and, most importantly, he had
the money. But instead of spending it - and keeping his promise of
re-investment in social programs - he cynically and deliberately covered
up his repeated surpluses.
Between the years 1999 and 2002, Martin underestimated
the accumulated surpluses by over $36 billion (and spent it on the
debt). This was one and a half times the size of his 1995-97 cuts. Other
economists were consistently making more accurate estimates, including
the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, whose cumulative estimates
were out by less than one billion.
The surpluses were so enormous that, by 2000, Martin
could no longer simply hide them. So he cut taxes by $100-billion over
five years (77 per cent of the personal benefits going to the wealthiest
eight per cent of the population). Billions also went to Canada's
largest corporations. This was at a time when tax cuts were nowhere on
the list of Canadians' priorities. But Martin - loathe to undo the
historic work of his 1995 budget - had to get rid of the money somehow.
So who was Martin listening to, if not the ghost of
his father? He was listening to the master of Bay Street, Tom d'Aquino,
the head of the Business Council on National Issues. In mid-1994,
d'Aquino presented the new finance minister with a 10-point program for
"restructuring" the country. By the time of his unprecedented
tax cuts in 2000, Martin had delivered on almost every one of the
demands of big business.
Promises made. Promises broken.
In looking back on all of this there looms the
question of election promises. If Paul Martin had pledged all these
things, and Canadians voted for them - shame on them. But the 1993
federal election was dominated by a book of progressive promises. The
Liberal Red Book - full of social democratic policies, a huge section on
environmental policy, and a promise to promote economic growth to defeat
the deficit - dominated the 1993 election like no election platform
document ever had before. It was everywhere - waved in the air every
time Chrétien appeared on television.
The importance of the Red Book was twofold: it
provided a genuine vision of the country and it put in writing what the
government was going to do. Within two years virtually every promise was
broken. But within months, Martin had already rejected its
prescriptions. "Screw the Red Book," he admonished bureaucrats
who still thought it was Liberal policy. "Don't tell me what's in
the Red Book. I wrote the goddamned thing. And I know that it's a lot of
So, did his experience with making false promises have
a salutary effect on Paul Martin? Did it make him reluctant to make
promises again - promises he knew he would break? Not for a minute. He
was back at it in his acceptance speech at the leadership convention
where he became Liberal leader and prime minister.
A more grotesquely hypocritical speech could hardly be
imagined. Amongst his declarations were these: "...Canadian people
and its [sic] leaders created the modern social foundations of Canadian
life - our pension and universal health care systems. Foundations which
Canadians hold as cornerstones of our national identity, our pride and
our values." A foundation that Martin ruthlessly attacked.
He went on to say that his challenge is to
"...rally the nation to its unfulfilled promise: To build a society
based on equality, not privilege; on duty, not entitlement. A society
based on compassion and caring; not indifference or neglect." And
then: "We know quality of life when we see people working, with
dignity, with good pay, with the opportunity to move ahead."
Perhaps as disturbing as Martin's hypocrisy is the
sense one gets that he isn't even conscious of what he is doing. It goes
back to the fact that Paul Martin was, for years, a CEO and never really
escaped that persona or mode of operating. A CEO cannot afford to take
account of his personal values or concern over consequences - everything
is about the bottom line.
Canadian philosopher Ursula Franklin has a phrase for
this kind of behaviour: moral dyslexia. "Unfortunately, unlike
those with learning disabilities, who need and appreciate help, those
who have moral disabilities don't come to us for help. ...Most of them
are morally disabled by their own choice."
It did not take long for that moral dyslexia to show
up. Convinced that his coronation as Liberal leader would also deliver
him ten years of majority government, in December, 2003, newly minted
Prime Minister Martin appointed the most right wing cabinet in almost 30
years. In areas of defence, foreign affairs, trade and finance, he
out-did even Brian Mulroney as he prepared to finish the job he had
started in finance.
He picked former Tory Scott Brison (right wing
economically and proudly pro-America) as parliamentary secretary for
Canada-U.S. relations. He appointed a legislative secretary, John Mckay,
to be in charge of privatizing government services - through public
private partnerships. There was not a single powerful voice in any post
dealing with social issues - and almost no mention of such issues in the
Bay Street was giddy
Then came auditor general Sheila Fraser and the 2004
election, dominated by the sponsorship scandal. And the minority
government with the NDP - almost - holding the balance of power. Paul
Martin, once again, became his father's son. Not because he wanted to
but because he had to.
The following quotes are selected from the Liberal
Party's election web site. Judge for yourself where they should place on
the shameless hypocrisy scale...
1) "[W]hen the time comes to vote on legislation
to invest in regional development, well, [Mr. Duceppe] votes against
that..He talks about social housing..but when the time comes to vote in
the House, well, he voted against social housing here in Montreal."
Reality check: Paul Martin completely eliminated the
social housing budget in 1995, making Canada the only developed country
without such a program.
2)"I don't believe that Canada was built on
American conservative values. It was built on compassion, on generosity,
on sharing and understanding,"
Reality check: All of those values were fundamentally,
and glaringly, absent from nine Martin budgets.
3) "We as Liberals have always been committed to
supporting families, and that means support for all Canadian families.
For many Canadian families with immediate relatives overseas, one of the
challenges that they have faced is the $975 right of permanent residence
fee. We're going to eliminate that fee, over the course of our
Reality check: Paul Martin brought in the immigrant
head tax in his 1995 budget and immigrant communities have been asking
ever since to have it removed.
4) "Canadian families have a right to a health
care system that puts their needs first. They have a right to quality
care in a timely manner by ensuring that critical wait times are
reduced. They have a right to a health care system that is accountable
to them. Above all, they have a right to care based on need, not ability
Reality check: Paul Martin cut federal health (and
other) transfers by 40 per cent - outdoing the hated Brian Mulroney (25
per cent). He eliminated legislation that ensured provinces spent those
dollars on health care and then refused to enforce the Canada Health
Act's banning of private care.
5) "I believe in a robust federalism, one in
which governments work hard, together, to prepare our citizens and our
country for the exciting opportunities - and real challenges - that lie
Reality check: Paul Martin as finance minister moved
further than any other post-war prime minister to decentralize the
country - repealing laws that forced provinces to spend transfers on
health and education and legislation that gave Ottawa influence over
6) "Together we can ensure that the automobile
industry in Canada that has been a source of strength, innovation and
pride will continue to thrive in cities like Windsor for many
generations to come."
Reality Check: Paul Martin's aggressive pursuit of
trade liberalization contributed to an embarrassing loss at the WTO: the
Auto Pact was declared in violation of the WTO. Now his government is
handing out $900 million to bribe the companies to stay.
7) "This is about making affordable child care a
permanent addition to our social foundation. It's about making clear
that this program is here to stay - because it's right for Canadian
families, and it's what's right for our children."
Reality check: You can thank Canadian voters for this
one - they didn't give Martin a majority. He promised child care in
every election since 1993 - and every time the Liberals won, they
8) "The greatest investment a government can make
in any region is in economic self-reliance - and that's why the Liberal
government believes regional development agencies, like the Atlantic
Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and others across this country, are
Reality check: Martin gutted the industrial and
regional development departments and their agencies in 1995 - cutting
them by nearly 60 per cent.
9 ) "The Liberal government was committed to
accepting the Convention [on the Protection and Promotion of the
Diversity of Cultural Expressions] before the end of the year and today
we met that commitment. ... Every culture must have the means to promote
its ideas, its values, its perspectives on the world, and its hopes. The
Convention will allow us to do that."
Reality check: It was Liberal Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, Martin's cabinet colleague, who led the fight for this
convention. Paul Martin opposed her efforts in cabinet and when he
became prime minister he threw her out of his government and engineered
her nomination defeat.
Murray Dobbin is a Vancouver journalist. His latest
book is Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?
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Economists Deplore Harper's Tax Cuts
NEWS RELEASE: January 18, 2006
66 ECONOMISTS DEPLORE TAX CUTS:
Warn that failure to tax income trusts, dividends and capital gains will
generate huge deficit in social services, while inequality grows
(Toronto) -- Sixty six economists have signed a
statement warning that the tax breaks being offered by the major parties
will leave a huge deficit in social services and contribute to greater
inequality in Canada.
The group endorsed the Call to Action issued by the
Vote for a Change Campaign, which represents over twenty major
organizations including the Anglican Church, the Council of Canadians
and the Canadian Labour Congress.
"By failing to tax income trusts, reducing the
tax on dividends, and virtually eliminating the tax on capital gains,
Martin and Harper have rewarded the wealthy and punished the poor”
says David Langille of the Centre for Social Justice. “It means
taking money from needy Canadians – money that could have been spent
improving our health system, making education more accessible, renewing
our crumbling infrastructure, or reducing poverty in Canada and around
“These measures will lead to stark and growing
inequalities of income and wealth in Canada. Even the US under
Bush has a federal estate inheritance tax to reduce inequalities between
generations,” adds Toby Sanger, an economist with the Canadian Union
of Public Employees.
"The Conservative Party’s proposal to eliminate
income taxes on reinvested capital gains is especially damaging, because
it would deliver very large tax savings to a tiny group of high-income
Canadians," said Jim Stanford, economist with the Canadian Auto
Workers. “Moreover, defining, monitoring, and policing the
six-month reinvestment requirement would create an administrative
nightmare for the federal government."
The economists estimate the annual cost to Ottawa of
the proposed tax cut would be close to $2 billion, many times higher
than the figure contained in the Conservative Party’s official plan
(which listed the measure as costing only $750 million over 5 years).
“The Conservatives have underestimated the true cost
of this measure by a significant order of magnitude,” said John
Loxley, Professor of Economics at the University of Manitoba.
“This raises significant questions about the reliability of their
overall fiscal plan. The uncounted costs associated with this
measure alone would reduce estimated federal surpluses by several
billions of dollars over the term of the next government.”
Another negative feature of the proposal is the extent
to which its benefits would be received by a very concentrated group of
very high-income Canadians. “There is no other tax measure whose
benefits are more closely at the top of the income spectrum,” said
Andrew Jackson, Economist and National Director of Social and Economic
Policy for the Canadian Labour Congress. “Over 40 percent of taxable
capital gains income is declared by the tiny fraction of Canadians who
earn over $250,000 per year. They are the ones who will reap the
benefits of this policy, which would greatly exacerbate inequality in
The Call to Action had already been endorsed by other
prominent Canadians, including Maude Barlow, Ed Broadbent, June Callwood,
Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein and Linda McQuaig. They believe the federal
government is failing to meet its national responsibilities. According
to their statement, it is not doing enough to provide affordable
housing, health care, education, and protection for children and
seniors. And it is failing to keep its promises to the world on issues
like climate change and international aid.
The campaign is calling on Canada’s next government
- Improve public health care for everyone not just
those who can afford it.
- Keep Canada's promise to the world on climate
change, instead of just talking about it.
- Meet our obligations to the U.N. on aid and making
- Remove barriers to new Canadians in our communities
- Keep post-secondary education accessible to lower
and middle income students.
“We want Canadians to vote for candidates and
parties that reflect these priorities”, said David Langille,
Director of the Centre for Social Justice. “They can help set the
agenda for the new government in Ottawa. We'll make sure that every
candidate gets the message that we are voting for social justice, not
Vote for a Change campaign partners include: Anglican
Church of Canada, Campaign 2000, Campaign Against Child Poverty,
Canadian AIDS Society, Canadian Association of Food Banks, Canadian Auto
Workers, Canadian Child Care Advocacy Association, Canadian Federation
of Students, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, Canadian Labour
Congress, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public
Employees, Centre for Social Justice, Communications Energy and
Paperworker's Union, Community Social Planning Council of Toronto,
Council of Canadians, Disabled Women's Network Ontario, Kairos, National
Anti-Poverty Organization, National Association of Women and the Law,
Ontario Coalition for Social Justice, Ontario Coalition for Better
Child Care, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, Public
Service Alliance of Canada, Toronto and York Region Labour Council,
Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care, Toronto Disaster Relief
Committee, United Church of Canada, Urban Alliance on Race Relations
The initiative was coordinated by the Centre for
Social Justice in Toronto.
The full listing of participating economists, and the
full text of the statement they signed, is provided at www.voteforachange.ca/economists
For further information please contact:
David Langille, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
416-927-0777, 416-605-9534 cell
Romana King, Media Relations, email@example.com
66 ECONOMISTS WHO HAVE ENDORSED THE CALL TO ACTION:
Roy J. Adams, Professor Emeritus, McMaster University
Greg Albo, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, York University
Donna Baines, PhD, Associate Professor, McMaster University
Simon Black, PhD Candidate, Political Economy, York University
Sheila Block, Director of Policy, Registered Nurses' Association of
Dr. Jack Boan, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Regina
Paul Bowles, PhD, Professor of Economics, University of Northern British
Dr. Janine Brodie, F.R.S.C., Canada Research Chair in Political Economy
and Social Governance, University of Alberta
Paul Leduc Browne, D.Phil., Professeur, Universit du Qubec en Outaouais
John Buttrick, Professor Emeritus of Economics,York University
Dr. John Calvert, Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University
Robert Chernomas, Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba
Stephen Clarkson, Professor of political economy, University of Toronto
and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor, Simon Fraser University
John Cornwall, McCullough Emeritus Professor of Economics, Dalhousie
W. Cornwall, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Mount Saint
Daniel Drache, Professor, York University
David B. Fairey, Trade Union Research Bureau, Vancouver, BC,
Lynne Fernandez, Sessional Instructor in Economics, University of
Sam Gindin, Packer Chair in Social Justice, York University; and Former
Research Director, CAW-Canada
Dr. Ricardo Grinspun, Professor of Economics, York University
Joel Davison Harden, National Representative (Research), Canadian Labour
Terry Heaps, Associate Professor of Economics, Simon Fraser University
Tessa Hebb, D. Phil., Carleton University
Roderick Hill, PhD, Professor of Economics, University of New Brunswick
Andrew Jackson, National Director, Social and Economic Policy, Canadian
Kim Jarvi, Senior Economist, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
Gerda Kits, Masters candidate in Economics, Dalhousie University
Seth Klein, Director, BC Office, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Laura Lamb, M.A., Ph.D. candidate in Economics, University of Manitoba
David Langille, Director, Centre for Social Justice
Gordon Laxer, Political Economist, University of Alberta
Michael A. Lebowitz, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Simon Fraser
Louis Lefeber, Ph.D., Professor of Economics (emeritus), York University
Gilbert Levine, Research Director (retired), Canadian Union of Public
Wayne Lewchuk, Economics & Labour Studies, McMaster University
John Loxley, Phd, FRSC, University of Manitoba
Dr. Meg Luxton, Director, Graduate Programme in Women's Studies
David Macdonald, Director, Econos Group
Hugh Mackenzie, Research Associate, Canadian Centre for Policy
Brian MacLean, Full Professor, Department of Economics, Laurentian
Dr. Margie Mendell, Vice-Principal, School of Community and Public
Affairs, and Director Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy,
Stephen McBride, Professor, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Joan McFarland, Professor of Economics, St. Thomas University
Alex Michalos, Professor Emeritus, University of Northern British
Monica Neitzert, Ph.D, Ministry of Community and Social Services,
Liisa L. North, Professor Emerita, York University
Marvyn Novick, Professor of Social Policy, Ryerson University
Lars Osberg, McCulloch Professor of Economics, Dalhousie University
Howard Pawley, former Manitoba Premier and currently Adjunct Professor
at the University of Windsor
Ellie Perkins, Ph.D. Economics and Associate Professor, York University
Dennis Raphael, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal
& Professional Studies, York University
Ellen Russell, Ph.D., Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Toby Sanger, Economist, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Edward H. Shaffer, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of
Tyler Shipley, Department of History, University of Manitoba
Dr Ingo Schmidt, Economics Program, University of Northern British
Jim Stanford, Ph.D., Economist, Canadian Auto Workers
Elizabeth Troutt, Associate Professor of Economics, University of
Salimah Valianim, National Representative (Researcher), Social and
Economic Policy Unit, Canadian Labour Congress
Peter Victor, Ph.D., Professor, York University
Jesse Vorst, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba
John W. Warnock, Professor, University of Regina
Mel Watkins, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Toronto, and
Adjunct Research Professor of Political Economy, Carleton
Armine Yalnizyan, Research Associate, Canadian Centre for Policy
A FEW OF THE OTHERS WHO HAVE ENDORSED THE CALL TO ACTION
Bryan Evans, Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Ryerson
University, and former Government of Ontario policy manager
Blair Redlin, Research Representative, Canadian Union of Public
Neil Thomlinson, Ph.D., Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson
The last thing Canada needs is a tax cut, which will make the rich
richer and the poor poorer. Instead of cutting taxes the government
should increase social programs which will improve the lives of most
Edward H. Shaffer, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of
I'm on side with you folks that the situation is much more complex and
that the extended string of surpluses at the federal level gives us an
unprecedented opportunity to invest in infrastructure, health and
David Macdonald, Director, Econos Group
David Langille, Director
CENTRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
489 College Street, Suite 303
Toronto, Ontario M6G 1A5
Vote for a Change: www.VoteforaChange.ca
Back to top
minority government (contrary to big-business claims) is good for Canada!
Dear CCPA friends and members,
Below is an opinion piece by CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell and
CCPA-BC Director Seth Klein. Please feel free to distribute it as you
Why minority government is good for Canada
By Bruce Campbell and Seth Klein
Is minority government good for Canada? Former Conservative pollster
Allan Gregg would have us believe in his Strategic Counsel poll this
week that 55% of Canadians (and 64% of Quebecers) think a Harper
majority would be good for the country.
One wonders what Canadians¹ response would have been
if the question had been prefaced with the statement that a Harper
majority would tear up a major international treaty obligation--the
Kyoto Accord; or that it would put Canada¹s support for George Bush¹s
Missile Defense program back on the table.
Gregg¹s poll bolsters the economic elite¹s view that
minorities produce gridlock and instability, and that only ³strong²
majority governments can produce meaningful change. Yet while majority
governments have been very successful in advancing elite policy
priorities, this convenient myth masks the reality that minority
governments have historically (and most recently) produced important
change that most Canadians support.
Canadians need to recall their recent experience with
majority governments. Two full decades of back-to-back majorities under
successive Conservative (19841993) and Liberal (19932004)
governments have delivered largely on the demands of corporate Canada,
not the broader electorate. For Canadian citizens, election promises
seemed to vaporize. Instead, these majorities delivered:
- massive corporate tax cuts;
- the end of universal benefits for children;
- repeated attacks on Old Age Security benefits;
- deep cuts for health, education, and social
- removal of federal support for affordable housing;
- gutting of unemployment insurance;
- offloading of programs such as training and welfare
- introduction and entrenchment of both NAFTA and the GST;
- closer harmonization to U.S. standards and
regulations in areas such as health and the environment; and closer
integration on intelligence and military security.
And the list goes on. None of these measures were
election issues, nor were they priorities for the majority of Canadians.
They serve as an important reminder that we should be careful what we
wish for, and that many of the most significant (and harmful) things
done by majority governments never appeared in their election platforms.
In contrast, the Pearson minority governments of the
1960s brought in far reaching reforms greatly valued by Canadians to
this day, including the Canada Pension Plan, the Guaranteed Income
Supplement, the Canada Student Loan program, increased federal transfers
to the provinces, and Canada¹s most cherished social program
In 2004, the Liberals campaigned on commitments to
affordable housing, training, student assistance, the environment and
foreign aid. But it was only because they were reduced to a minority and
forced to make compromises with the NDP that they were held accountable
for these promises. If they¹d had their way, the Liberals would have
replaced these promises with more tax cuts for big business.
Under a Liberal majority, Canada would almost
certainly have signed on to the US Missile Defense program, over the
opposition of the vast majority of Canadians. With a majority, it is
doubtful the Liberals would have finally moved forward on their promise
(overdue by 12 years) to bring in a national child care program, or
achieved their landmark Aboriginal agreement.
Many Canadians want to punish the Liberals for the
sponsorship scandal. But is handing a majority to another party and
giving it carte blanche to implement its own, largely unknown, agenda
the answer? We don¹t believe so. There are far too many issues
that have gone un-debated in this election.
Under a Harper majority, what will happen to the CBC?
Will we see a radical decentralization of taxation powers to the
provinces? Might they re-open the issue of privatizing the CPP? Will we
see cuts to core social programs like EI or seniors benefits? We don¹t
know, and we shouldn¹t find out the hard way.
The Conservative plan has not been fully costed (for
example, it does not spell out how it would redress the so-called fiscal
imbalance with the provinces). Thus, while we know what Harper says he
will spend more on, we do not know what he may cut or privatize.
While far from perfect, the last minority parliament
made modest progress in reversing the damage to our public programs.
This is what most people wanted and what they voted for.
One reason Canadians feel disenchanted with politics
is that parties run on one thing (usually centre-left platforms with
broad appeal), and then when handed a majority, deliver something very
different. Minority governments, on the other hand, serve to check this
impunity. Another minority would force whoever forms government to
listen to the representatives elected by the majority of Canadians
(rather than influential lobbyists), and keep them from straying too far
from core Canadian values.
Bruce Campbell is the Executive Director of the
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Seth Klein is the BC Director
of the CCPA. The CCPA recently published Minority Report: a Report Card
on the 2004-05 Minority Government (available at http://www.policyalternatives.ca).
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
410-75 Albert Street, Ottawa ON K1P 5E7
tel: 613-563-1341 fax: 613-233-1458
Back to top
Moore Statement on Canadian Election
Editorial note: "Voting for the lesser
of two evils, you still end up with evil." Michael Moore in
Michael Moore (January 2006) is currently in
production on his next movie. As an avid lover of all things
Canadian, he has issued the following statement regarding Canada's
upcoming election on Monday:
Oh, Canada -- you're not really going to elect a
Conservative majority on Monday, are you? That's a joke, right? I know
you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of
irony, but this is no longer funny. Maybe it's a new form of Canadian
irony -- reverse irony! OK, now I get it. First, you have the courage to
stand against the war in Iraq -- and then you elect a prime minister
who's for it. You declare gay people have equal rights -- and then you
elect a man who says they don't. You give your native peoples their own
autonomy and their own territory -- and then you vote for a man who
wants to cut aid to these poorest of your citizens. Wow, that is
intense! Only Canadians could pull off a hat trick of humor like that.
My hat's off to you.
Far be it from me as an American to suggest what you
should do. You already have too many Americans telling you what to do.
Well, actually, you've got just one American who keeps telling you to
roll over and fetch and sit. I hope you don't feel this appeal of mine
is too intrusive, but I just couldn't sit by as your friend and say
nothing. Yes, I agree, the Liberals have some 'splainin' to do. And yes,
one party in power for more than a decade gets a little... long. But you
have a parliamentary system (I'll bet you didn't know that -- see,
that's why you need Americans telling you things!). There are ways at
the polls to have your voices heard other than throwing the baby out
with the bath water.
These are no ordinary times, and as you go to the
polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south
of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper
because he's a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George
Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want
millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the
cowboy belt? C'mon, where's your Canadian pride? I mean, if you're going
to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least
don't surrender so easily. Can't you wait until he threatens to bomb
Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete's sake.
But seriously, I know you're not going to elect a guy
who should really be running for governor of Utah. Whew! I knew it! You
almost had me there. Very funny. Don't do that again. God, I love you,
you crazy cold wonderful neighbors to my north. Don't ever change.
Back to top
Harper's "going shoulder to shoulder" with big brother gets more
even more serious
Editorial note: American federal agent
An NSA Whistleblower Speaks Out
By , Democracy Now!
Posted on January 7, 2006, Printed on January 7, 2006
Editor's Note: Bush's decision to order the National Security Agency to
eavesdrop on U.S. citizens was first revealed in the New York Times in
mid-December. The Times published the expose after holding the story for
more than a year under pressure from the White House.
Since the story broke, calls for Congressional
hearings and the possible impeachment of the president have intensified.
Now Congress is considering a new round of hearings on Bush's domestic
spying program, with a bipartisan group of Senators issuing their public
Former NSA intelligence officer Russel Tice recently
announced that he wants to testify before Congress. He was fired in May
2005 after he spoke out as a whistleblower.
The following is an edited transcript of an interview
between Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and former NSA intelligence agent
Amy Goodman: This is President Bush speaking on
President George W. Bush: I can say that if somebody
from al-Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why. In the meantime,
this program is conscious of people's civil liberties, as am I. This is
a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of
America. And I repeat: limited. And it's limited to calls from outside
the United States to calls within the United States. But, they are of
known numbers of known al Qaeda members or affiliates. And I think most
Americans understand the need to find out what the enemy is thinking.
And that's what we are doing. We're at war with a bunch of cold-blooded
killers who will kill on a moment's notice. And I have a responsibility,
obviously, to act within the law, which I am doing. It's a program has
been reviewed constantly by Justice Department officials, a program to
which the Congress has been briefed, and a program that is in my
judgment necessary to win this war and to protect the American people.
Amy Goodman: Two weeks ago, a former N.S.A.
intelligence officer publicly announced he wants to testify before
Congress. His name is Russell Tice. For the past two decades he has
worked in the intelligence field, both inside and outside of government,
most recently with the National Security Agency and the Defense
Intelligence Agency. He was fired in May 2005, after he spoke out as a
In his letter, Tice wrote, quote, "It's with my
oath as a U.S. intelligence officer weighing heavy on my mind that I
wish to report to Congress acts I believe are unlawful and
unconstitutional. The freedom of the American people cannot be protected
when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed
into a police state." Russell Tice joins us now in our Washington
studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!
Russell Tice: Good morning.
Amy Goodman: What made you decide to come forward? You
worked for the top-secret agency of this government, one that is far
larger and even more secret than the C.I.A.
Russell Tice: Well, the main reason is that I'm
involved with some certain aspects of the intelligence community, which
are very closely held, and I believe I have seen some things that are
illegal. Ultimately it's Congress's responsibility to conduct oversight
in these things. I don't see it happening. Another reason is there was a
certain roadblock that was sort of lifted that allowed me to do this,
and I can't explain, but I will to Congress if allowed to.
Amy Goodman: Can you talk about the letter you have
written to Congress, your request to testify?
Russell Tice: Well, it's just a simple request under
the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which is a
legal means to contact Congress and tell them that you believe that
something has gone wrong in the intelligence community.
Amy Goodman: Can you start off by talking overall?
Since most people -- until this latest story of President Bush engaging
in these wiretaps of American citizens, as well as foreign nationals in
this country -- perhaps hadn't even heard of the N.S.A., can you just
describe for us what is the National Security Agency? How does it
monitor these communications?
Russell Tice: The National Security Agency is an
agency that deals with monitoring communications for the defense of the
country. The charter basically says that the N.S.A. will deal with
communications of -- overseas. We're not allowed to go after Americans,
and I think ultimately that's what the big fuss is now. But as far as
the details of how N.S.A. does that, unfortunately, I'm not at liberty
to say that. I don't want to walk out of here and end up in an F.B.I.
Amy Goodman: Can you talk about your response to the
revelations that the Times, knowing the story well before the election,
revealed a few weeks ago about the wiretapping of American citizens?
Russell Tice: Well, as far as an intelligence officer,
especially a SIGINT officer at N.S.A., we're taught from very early on
in our careers that you just do not do this. This is probably the number
one commandment of the SIGINT Ten Commandments -- you will not spy on
It is drilled into our head over and over and over
again in security briefings, at least twice a year, where you ultimately
have to sign a paper that says you have gotten the briefing. Everyone at
N.S.A. who's a SIGINT officer knows that you do not do this. Ultimately,
so do the leaders of N.S.A., and apparently the leaders of N.S.A. have
decided that they were just going to go against the tenets of something
that's a gospel to a SIGINT officer.
Amy Goodman: We talk to Russell Tice, former
intelligence agent with the National Security Agency, who worked with
the N.S.A. until May 2005. Russell Tice, what happened in May 2005?
Russell Tice: Well, basically I was given my walking
papers and told I was no longer a federal employee. So --
Amy Goodman: Why?
Russell Tice: Some time ago I had some concerns about
a co-worker at D.I.A. who exhibited the classic signs of being involved
in espionage, and I reported that and basically got blown off by the
counterintelligence office at D.I.A. I kind of pushed the issue, because
I continued to see a pattern of there being a problem. And once I got
back to N.S.A., I pretty much dropped the issue, but there was a report
that came across my desk in April of 2003 about two F.B.I. agents that
were possibly passing secret counterintelligence information to a
Chinese double agent, Katrina Leung, and I sent a secure message back to
the D.I.A. counterintelligence officer, and I said I think the F.B.I. is
incompetent, and the retaliation came down on me like a ton of bricks.
Amy Goodman: What would you say to those who say you
are speaking out now simply because you are disgruntled?
Russell Tice: I guess that's a valid argument. You
know, I was fired. But I've kind of held my tongue for a long time now,
and basically, you know, I have known these things have been going on
for a while. The classification level of the stuff I deal with,
basically what we call black world programs and operations, are very,
very closely held. And whether you think this is retaliation or not, I
have something important to tell Congress, and I think they need to hear
it. I'd like to think my motives aren't retaliation, but, you know,
after what I have been through, I can understand someone's argument to
think I have been jaded.
Amy Goodman: What about the risks you take as a
whistleblower? I wanted to play a clip of F.B.I. whistleblower, Sibel
Edmonds. She was working for the F.B.I. after 9/11 as a translator,
translating intercepts, and ultimately she lost her job. And I asked her
if she was afraid of speaking out:
Sibel Edmonds: There are times that I am afraid, but
then again, I have to remind myself that this is my civic duty and this
is for the country, because what they are doing by pushing this stuff
under this blanket of secrecy, what they are hiding is against the
public's welfare and interest. And reminding that to myself just helps
me, to a certain degree, overcome that fear.
Amy Goodman: That was Sibel Edmonds. Russell Tice, you
are a member of her group, the National Security Whistleblowers
Russell Tice: That, I am. National Security
Whistleblower Coalition is basically put together of people who are in
sort of the same boat that I am in, that have brought whistleblower
concerns to the public or to their perspective chain of supervisors and
have been retaliated against. And the intelligence community, all of the
whistleblower protection laws are -- pretty much exempt the intelligence
community. So the intelligence community can put forth their lip service
about, 'Oh, yeah, we want you to put report waste fraud abuse,' or 'You
shall report suspicions of espionage,' but when they retaliate you for
doing so, you pretty much have no recourse. I think a lot of people
don't realize that.
And Sibel has basically started this organization to
bring these sort of concerns out into the public and ultimately to get
Congress to start passing some laws to protect folks that are going to
be in a position to let the public or just, you know, to let Congress
know that crimes are being committed. And that's what we're talking
about. We're talking about a crime here. So, you know, all of this
running around and looking for someone who dropped the dime on a crime
is a whole lot different than something like the Valerie Plame case.
Amy Goodman: What do you think of the Justice
Department launching an investigation into the leak, who leaked the fact
that President Bush was spying on American citizens?
Russell Tice: Well, I think this is an attempt to make
sure that no intelligence officer ever considers doing this. What was
done to me was basically an attempt to tell other intelligence officers,
'Hey, if you do something like this, if you do something to tick us off,
we're going to take your job from you, we're gonna do some unpleasant
things to you.'
So, right now, the atmosphere at N.S.A. and D.I.A.,
for that matter, is fear. The security services basically rule over the
employees with fear, and people are afraid to come forward. People know
if they come forward even in the legal means, like coming to Congress
with a concern, your career is over. And that's just the best scenario.
There's all sorts of other unfortunate things like, perhaps, if someone
gets thrown in jail for either a witch-hunt or something trumping up
charges or, you know, this guy who is basically reporting a crime.
Amy Goodman: And what do you think of the news that
the National Security Agency spying on American citizens without a court
order and foreign nationals is now sharing this information with other
agencies like, well, the other agency you worked for, the Defense
Russell Tice: Intelligence officers work with one
another all the time. As an analyst, you might have a problem. Everybody
gets together. It's just common sense to find out what everybody knows,
you know, come to a consensus as to what the answer is. It's sort of
like a puzzle, you know, chunks of the puzzle. And maybe you have a few
chunks as a SIGINT officer, and the C.I.A. has a few chunks in their
arena and D.I.A. has a few elements of it, and everybody gets together
and does a little mind meld to try to figure out what's going on. So
it's not unusual for the intelligence community to share information.
But when we're talking about information on the American public, which
is a violation of the FISA law, then I think it's even something more to
be concerned about.
Amy Goodman: Were you ever asked to engage in this?
Russell Tice: No, no, and if I did so, I did so
unwittingly, which I have a feeling would be the case for many of the
people involved in this. More than likely this was very closely held at
the upper echelons at N.S.A., and mainly because these people knew --
General Hayden, Bill Black, and probably the new one, Keith Alexander,
they all knew this was illegal. So, you know, they kept it from the
populace of N.S.A., because every N.S.A. officer certainly knows this is
Amy Goodman: What do you mean if you did so, you did
Russell Tice: Well, there are certain elements of the
aspects of what is done where there are functionaries or technicians or
analysts that are given information, and you just process that
information. You don't necessarily know the nitty gritty as to where the
information came from or the -- it's called compartmentalization. It's
ironic, but you could be working on programs, and the very person
sitting next to you is not cleared for the programs you're working on,
and they're working on their own programs, and each person knows to keep
their nose out of the other person's business, because everything's
compartmentalized, and you're only allowed to work on what you have a
need to know to work on.
Amy Goodman: What about the telecoms, the
telecommunications corporations working with the Bush administration to
open up a back door to eavesdropping, to wiretapping?
Russell Tice: If that was done and, you know, I use a
big "if" here, and, remember, I can't tell you what I know of
how N.S.A. does its business, but I can use the wiggle words like
"if" and scenarios that don't incorporate specifics, but
nonetheless, if U.S. gateways and junction points in the United States
were used to siphon off information, I would think that the corporate
executives of these companies need to be held accountable, as well,
because they would certainly also know that what they're doing is wrong
and illegal. And if they have some sort of court order or some sort of
paper or something signed from some government official, Congress needs
to look at those papers and look at the bottom line and see whose
signature is there. And these corporations know that this is illegal, as
well. So everyone needs to be held accountable in this mess.
Amy Goodman: When you come on board at these
intelligence agencies, as at the National Security Agency, what are you
told? I mean, were you aware of the Church hearings in the 1970s that
went into the illegal spying on monitoring, of surveilling, of
wiretapping of American citizens?
Russell Tice: Well, that's something that's really not
drummed in your head. That's more of a history lesson, I think. And the
reasoning, ultimately, for the FISA laws and for what's called USSID 18,
which is sort of the SIGINTer's bible of how they conduct their
business, but the law itself is drilled into your head, as well as the
tenets of USSID 18, of which the number one commandment is 'Thou shalt
not spy on Americans.'
Amy Goodman: We're talking to Russell Tice, former
intelligence agent with the National Security Agency, worked at the
N.S.A. up until May of 2005. What is data mining?
Russell Tice: Data mining is a means by which you --
you have information, and you go searching for all associated elements
of that information in whatever sort of data banks or databases that you
put together with information. So if you have a phone number and you
want to associate it with, say, a terrorist or something, and you want
to associate it with, you know, 'Who is this terrorist talking to?' you
start doing data on what sort of information or what sort of numbers
does that person call or the frequency of time, that sort of thing. And
you start basically putting together a bubble chart of, you know, where
Lord help you if you've got a wrong phone call from
one of these guys, a terrorist overseas or something, and you're
American. You're liable to have the F.B.I. camping out your doorstep,
apparently, from everything that's going on. But it's basically a way of
searching all of the data that exists, and that's things like credit
card records and driver's license, anything that you can get your hands
on and try to associate it with some activity. I think if we were doing
that overseas with known information, it would be a good thing if we're
pinning them down. But ultimately, when we're using that on -- if we're
using that with U.S. databases, then ultimately, once again, the
American people are -- their civil rights are being violated.
Amy Goodman: Do you expect you are being monitored, surveilled, wiretapped right now?
Russell Tice: Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, in - you
know, sometimes you just don't know. And being, you know -- what they've
basically accused me of, I can't just walk around thinking that
everybody is looking at my heels and are following me around. But in one
scenario I turned the tables on someone I thought was following me, and
he ducked into a convenience store, and I just walked down there -- and
I saw him out of my peripheral vision -- and I basically walked down to
where he ducked into and in the store, I walked up behind him. He was
buying a cup of coffee, and he had a Glock on his hip and his F.B.I.
badge. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what was
going on there.
Amy Goodman: The National Security Agency, or I should
say the United Nations Security Council, there was a scandal a year or
two ago about the monitoring of the diplomats there. It was in the lead
up to the invasion, the U.S. wanting to know and put pressure on these
Security Council ambassadors to know what they were saying before any
kind of vote. What is the difference between that kind of monitoring and
the monitoring of American citizens?
Russell Tice: Well, if the monitoring was done against
foreigners and the monitoring was done overseas, as far as I know,
that's perfectly legal. It's just a matter of who you are monitoring and
where you're doing the monitoring. If it's done at home and they're
Americans, then you have a different scenario.
And we're all trained that, you know, hands off. If
you inadvertently run across something like that in the conduct of what
you're doing, you immediately let someone know; if it's involved in
something being recorded, it's immediately erased. So, you know, it's
something that we all know you just don't do. Overseas, okay; here at
home, not so okay.
Amy Goodman: I wanted to play for you the clip that we
ran of President Bush earlier and get your response. This is President
Bush on Sunday [replays the clip.]
Amy Goodman: Russell Tice, you were with the National
Security Agency until May 2005. If al-Qaeda's calling, the U.S.
government wants to know. Your response?
Russell Tice: Well, that's probably a good thing to
know. But that's why we have a FISA court and FISA laws. The FISA court
- it's not very difficult to get something through a FISA court. I kinda
liken the FISA court to a monkey with a rubber stamp. The monkey sees a
name, the monkey sees a word justification with a block of information.
It can't read the block, but it just stamps "affirmed" on the
block, and a banana chip rolls out, and then the next paper rolls in
front of the monkey. When you have like 20,000 requests and only, I
think, four were turned down, you can't look at the FISA court as
So, you have to ask yourself the question: Why would
someone want to go around the FISA court in something like this? I would
think the answer could be that this thing is a lot bigger than even the
President has been told it is, and that ultimately a vacuum cleaner
approach may have been used, in which case you don't get names, and
that's ultimately why you wouldn't go to the FISA court. And I think
that's something Congress needs to address. They need to find out
exactly how this system was operated and ultimately determine whether
this was indeed a very focused effort or whether this was a vacuum
Amy Goodman: Did you support the President, Russell
Tice? Did you vote for President Bush?
Russell Tice: I am a Republican. I voted for President
Bush both in the last election and the first election where he was up
for president. I've contributed to his campaign. I get a Christmas card
from the White House every year, I guess because of my nominal
contributions. But I think you're going to find a lot of folks that are
in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community are apt to
be on the conservative side of the fence. But nonetheless, we're all
taught that you don't do something like this. And I'm certainly hoping
that the President has been misled in what's going on here and that the
true crux of this problem is in the leadership of the intelligence
Amy Goodman: You're saying in the leadership of your
own agency, the National Security Agency?
Russell Tice: That's correct, yeah, because certainly
General Alexander and General Hayden and Bill Black knew that this was
Amy Goodman: But they clearly had to have
authorization from above, and Bush is not contending that he did not
Russell Tice: Well, that's true. But the question has
to be asked: What did the President know? What was the President told
about this? It's just -- there's just too many variables out there that
we don't know yet. And, ultimately, I think Congress needs to find out
those answers. If the President was fed a bill of goods in this matter,
then that's something that has to be addressed. Or if the President
himself knew every aspect of what's going on, if this was some sort of
vacuum cleaner deal, then it is ultimately, I would think, the President
himself that needs to be held responsible for what's going on here.
Amy Goodman: And what do you think should happen to
Russell Tice: Well, it's certainly not up to me, but
I've heard all of the talk about impeachment and that sort of thing. You
know, I saw our last president get impeached for what personally I
thought should have been something between his wife and his family, and
the big guy upstairs. It's not up to me, but if the President knew, if
this was a vacuum cleaner job and the President knew exactly what was
going on -- and ultimately what we're hearing now is nothing but a
cover-up and a whitewash -- and we find that to be the case, then I
think it should cause some dire consequences for even the President of
the United States, if he indeed did know exactly what was going on and
if it was a very large-scale, you know, suck-up-everything kind of
Amy Goodman: This investigation that the Justice
Department has launched - it's interesting that Alberto Gonzales is now
Attorney General of the United States - the latest story of the New York
Times: Gonzales, when he was White House Counsel, when Andrew Card,
chief of staff, went to Ashcroft at his hospital bedside to get
authorization for this. Can he be a disinterested party in investigating
this now, as Attorney General himself?
Russell Tice: Yeah, I think that for anyone to say
that the Attorney General is going to be totally unbiased about
something like this, I think that's silly. Of course, the answer is
"No." He can't be unbiased in this. I think that a special
prosecutor or something like that may have to be involved in something
like this, otherwise we're just liable to have a whitewash.
Amy Goodman: What do you think of the term
Russell Tice: Well, anytime where you have a situation
where U.S. citizens are being arrested and thrown in jail with the key
being thrown away, you know, potentially being sent overseas to be
tortured, U.S. citizens being spied on, you know, and it doesn't even go
to the court that deals with these secret things, you know, I mean,
think about it, you could have potentially somebody getting the wrong
phone call from a terrorist and having him spirited away to some
back-alley country to get the rubber hose treatment and who knows what
else. I think that would kind of qualify as a police state, in my
I certainly hope that Congress or somebody sort of
does something about this, because, you know, for Americans just to say,
'Oh, well, we have to do this because, you know, because of terrorism,'
you know, it's the same argument that we used with communism years ago:
take away your civil liberties, but use some threat that's, you know,
been out there for a long time.
Terrorism has been there for -- certainly before 9/11
we had terrorism problems, and I have a feeling it's going to be around
for quite some time after whatever we deem is a victory in what we're
doing now in the Middle East. But, you know, it's just something that
has to be addressed. We just can't continue to see our civil liberties
degraded. Ultimately, as Ben Franklin, I think, had said, you know,
those who would give up their essential liberties for a little freedom
deserve neither liberty or freedom, and I tend to agree with Ben
Amy Goodman: And your colleagues at the N.S.A. right
now, their feelings, the National Security Agency?
Russell Tice: Boy, I think most folks at N.S.A. right
now are just running scared. They have the security office hanging over
their head, which has always been a bunch of vicious folks, and now
they've got, you know, this potential witch hunt going on with the
Attorney General. People in the intelligence community are afraid. They
know that you can't come forward. You have no protections as a
whistleblower. These things need to be addressed.
Amy Goodman: What do you mean you have no protection?
Russell Tice: Well, like I said before, as a
whistleblower, you're not protected by the whistleblower laws that are
out there. The intelligence community is exempt from the whistleblower
Amy Goodman: So why are you doing it?
Russell Tice: Well, ultimately, I don't have to be
afraid of losing my job, because I have already lost my job, so that's
one reason. The other reason is because I made an oath when I became an
intelligence officer that I would protect the United States
Constitution; not a president, not some classification, you know, for
whatever, that ultimately I'm responsible to protect the Constitution of
the United States. And I think that's the same oath the President takes,
for the most part.
So, imagine if something -- if we were like, I don't
know, taking Americans and assassinating them for suspicions of
suspicions of terrorism, and then we just put some classification on it
and said, 'Well, this is super top secret, so no one can say anything
about that.' Well, at what point do you draw the line and say enough is
enough? We have to say something here.
Amy Goodman: What was your classification? How high up
was your clearance?
Russell Tice: Well, clearances go up to the top secret
level. But once you get to the top secret level, there are many caveats
and many programs and things that can happen beyond that point. I
specialized in what's known as black world operations and programs that
are very closely held, things that happen in operations and programs in
the intelligence community that are closely held, and for the most part
these programs are very beneficial to ultimately getting information and
protecting the American people. But in some cases, I think,
classification levels at these -- we call them special access programs,
SAPs -- could be used to mask, basically, criminal wrongdoing. So I
think that's something ultimately Congress needs to address, as well,
because from what I can see, there is not a whole lot of oversight when
it comes to some of these deep black programs.
Amy Goodman: Russell Tice, did you know anyone within
the N.S.A. who refused to spy on Americans, who refused to follow
Russell Tice: No. No, I do not. As far as -- of
course, I'm not witting of anyone that was told they will spy on an
American. So, ultimately, when this was going on, I have a feeling it
was closely held at some of the upper echelon levels. And you've got to
understand, I was a worker bee. I was a guy that wrote the reports and
did the analysis work and -- you know, the detail guy. At some point,
your reports have to get sent up up the line and then, you know, the
management takes action at some point or another, but at my level, no, I
was not involved in this.
Amy Goodman: Has Congress responded to your letter
offering to testify as a former employee of the National Security
Russell Tice: Not yet. Of course, the holidays - you
know, we just had the holidays here, so everybody is out of town. I
can't condemn Congress too much yet, because I faxed it out on, I do
believe, the 18th of December, and we're just getting into the new year.
Amy Goodman: And who did you send it to?
Russell Tice: I sent it to the chairs of the Senate
Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, the SSCI
and the HPSCI.
Amy Goodman: Well, I want to thank you very much for
being with us. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Russell Tice: Well, I can't think of a whole lot,
except ultimately I think the American people need to be concerned about
allegations that the intelligence community is spying on Americans. One
of my fears is that this would cause, just going into the N.S.A. and
just tearing the place up and making the good work that's being done at
the N.S.A. ineffective, because the N.S.A. is very important to this
country's security. And I certainly hope that some bad apples, even if
these bad apples were at the top of N.S.A., don't ultimately destroy the
capabilities of N.S.A.'s ability to do a good job protecting the
Amy Goodman: Russell Tice, former intelligence agent
with the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency,
worked for the N.S.A. up until May of last year. Thanks for joining us.
Russell Tice: Thank you.
© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/30387/
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raises objections to CWB election review process
Text Box: National Office
2717 Wentz Ave.
Tel (306) 652-9465
Fax (306) 664-6226
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 30, 2005
NFU raises objections to CWB electoral review panel process
A three-person review panel appointed last summer by the federal
government to provide recommendations on the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB)
elections is expected to release its report in the near future.
Without pre-judging any recommendations that may come
from this government-appointed review panel, the National Farmers Union
(NFU) is raising criticism of the review process itself.
NFU President Stewart Wells said farmers need to be
"ready to push back" in case the panel recommends changes that
may damage the CWB's ability to maximize returns to farmers, or which
may undermine the democratic structure of the Board through unequal
Wells indicated the panel's work has been jeopardized
from the beginning by the appointment of Greg Porozni as one of its
three panel members. "Mr. Porozni was an unsuccessful candidate in
the 2002 CWB Director elections. During that campaign, Porozni worked
with an organization which was previously found to have funneled money
from grain companies to anti-CWB candidates while not registering as an
intervenor. In addition, during the campaign it was revealed by CBC
Radio that Mr. Porozni was working on a secret committee convened by GMO-wheat
seed developer Monsanto. Mr. Porozni had not revealed this information
to potential voters or to the election coordinator, accounting firm
Meyers Norris Penny."
Also, during the review process itself, it appeared
that many groups which have expressed anti-CWB sentiments in the past
have been given preferential treatment. At the same time, other
legitimate farm organizations may have had less opportunity to make
presentations to the panel.
"Farmers should be asking: was the National
Citizens Coalition (NCC - founded by insurance millionaire Colin M Brown
in the 1960s to undermine Medicare), invited to make a presentation to
the panel?" stated Wells. "And were legitimate farm
organizations, such as West Central Road and Rail (WCRR) and the Farmer
Rail Car Coalition (FRCC) not sent similar invitations?"
The NFU President pointed out that only three days of
hearings were held during the busy harvest season, which further
excluded most farmers. The deadline for submissions was September 30,
well before harvest had ended.
"When taken in isolation, many of the points seem
to be small concerns," said Wells. "But when added together,
these irregularities paint a picture of the Porozni panel actively
embracing input from anti-CWB activists while minimizing input from
legitimate farmers or farm organizations."
- 30 -
Stewart Wells, NFU President
Terry Pugh, NFU Executive-Secretary
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