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December 16, 2010

Why VoteABC in the 2011 federal election

The Canadian Charger

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VoteABC (Vote Anyone But Conservatives) is a Yahoo group recently formed by Canadians for Canadians to post and receive emails on why and how VoteABC in the coming 2011 federal election. You can join if you are an eligible voter by clicking on the following link:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/voteABC/

Here are 16 reasons why Harper must go for Canada’s sake:

1. Military overspending–Harper pours billions into the military and keeps sending young Canadians to die in Afghanistan.

He broke his word on a 2011 pullout without allowing the matter to go to a vote in the House. In fiscal 2008-2009, defence spending estimates amounted to $19.5 billion. By comparison, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs received $7.3 billion. In October, 2010, Auditor General Sheila Fraser found that $4.9 billion to buy 15 helicopters violated the rules and regulations, as the order was placed without competition. In 2009, the Harper government pledged $5 billion for new armored vehicles. It now pledges at least $16 billion for 65 useless fighter jets. At the end of the Cold War, Canadians were dreaming of a peace dividend.

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2. Foreign Policy–Harper has an unbalanced approach to the Middle East. Ottawa now votes heavily in a pro-Israel direction, thus reversing previous Canadian policy on UN resolutions related to Israel-Palestine. When Israel invaded Lebanon and carried out a massive bombing campaign across the country, Harper termed the Israeli response “measured.” His government dismissed the Goldstone report on Israeli destruction of Gaza as “predetermined”.

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3. Citizen betrayal–The Harper government has taken the position that it has no obligation to come to the aid of Canadian citizens abroad. It cannot do the right thing for its citizens abroad without court orders. Abousfian Abdelrazik was only allowed to return to Canada after a court ordered it. Harper reluctantly agreed to allow Omar Khadr to return to Canada after he spends another year at Guantánamo, Harper has consistently ignored Canada’s treaty obligations on the rights of children in war which demand special treatment for children.

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4. National Betrayal–Harper was elected by Canadians, but his primary allegiance is to pro-U.S. interest groups. This is why he is keen to sell out Canada’s sovereignty in a continentalist pact called the “Security and Prosperity Partnership.” This supernational organization that includes Canada, the U.S. and Mexico would do away with national currencies and national legislatures and make Canada even more a vassal of the U.S. Empire.

Read more:

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5. Punitive Justice–Harper wants to get tough on crime by putting more people in jail for longer periods, but that means we will need to build more correctional facilities and employ more staff to run them. He plans to increase expenditures for correctional services from $4.5 billion a year to $9.5 b y 2015, according to Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Again, we’re talking major expenditures. In the meantime, the Dutch are closing eight prisons. The evidence is in: the threat of prison is an ineffective deterrent. As well, it fails to prevent recidivism. Our neighbors to the south have crippled their state budgets by just the kind of tough-guy approach Harper favors. The government needs to be “smart on crime,” not “tough on crime,” with programs such as restorative justice and sentencing circles. (Restorative justice is a shame-based approach that involves such things as victim-offender confrontation and reconciliation. Sentencing circles are used in some First Nations communities.)

Read more:

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6. Underfunding social programs–Harper believes that all taxes are bad. He has said as much, and his Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said that the tax cuts put in place to fight the recession will not be reversed. Yet, the Conservatives say they will pay down the debt and eliminate the deficit as soon as possible. As a result, Canada’s ability to fund social programs will be crippled. On top of greatly increased spending for the military and a massive counterproductive “tough on crime” agenda, tax cuts will leave little or nothing for any social spending.

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7. Native Rights–Harper has eliminated important programs such as smoking cessation programs for First Nations people, in spite of high levels of tobacco use among them.  Also, he has repudiated the Kelowna Accord, depriving First Nations of resources to help get them out of poverty and misery.  Natives are already overrepresented in prisons, and his expansion of the prison population will hit particularly hard on them.

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8. Environmental doubletalk–Harper’s policies on global warming are too little, too late. He rejected the Kyoto Accord, claiming it was “essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.” However, while Kyoto calls for reductions based on 1990 rates of greenhouse gas production, Harper’s policy calls for a reduction of 20% by 2020 based on 2006 emissions. Of course, his government does not highlight the base year in its publicity. He used his Senate majority to kill Bill C-311, the climate change bill passed by the House of Commons.

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9. Contempt of Parliament–Harper disregarded his own legislation on fixed election dates when he felt that his government faced defeat by an opposition coalition. Sneaky, sneaky!  Fortunately, he miscalculated.

Read more:

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10. Subversion of Parliament–Harper provides antidemocratic leadership within his own party. In caucus, Conservative MP’s may not even speak unless they have permission, according to former caucus member Garth Turner. Harper surrounds himself with a clique of unelected right-wing advisors and tacticians, who come up with such gimmicks as a booklet on how to disrupt Commons committees to prevent them from doing their work.

Read more:

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11. Census–Harper killed the compulsory long-form census. As a result, it will be impossible to carry out sound social planning required by all levels of government, businesses, and social agencies.

Read more:

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12. Foreign Mining–Harper engineered defeat of Bill C-300, which would have held Canadian mining companies working abroad to abide by human rights and environmental standards.

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13. UAE-Harper is ruining a steadily growing economic relationship with the United Arab Emirates, Canada’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa. The UAE cancelled a 9-year-old arrangement for the free use of an air base outside Dubai as a transit point for our troops and equipment to and from Afghanistan. Ottawa has been scrambling since for alternates in Cyprus and Germany. Additional costs are pegged at up to $300 million. But that estimate was based on Canada quitting Afghanistan next year. Now that our mission has been extended to 2014, albeit on a smaller scale, there’s no telling the eventual additional expenditures. “What is it — $500 million? $600 million?” asked Bob Rae in the Commons. He and the NDP’s Paul Dewar also inquired unsuccessfully about the extra time needed to evacuate wounded soldiers from Afghanistan.

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14. Marijuana-After decades of reports recommending the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, Harper has promised that he will scrap the proposed law to soften sentences for possession of marijuana. After years of watching the US war on drugs fail dismally, Harper has promised to adopt a mandatory sentencing regime very similar to the US system. The United States is the world’s largest per capita jailer of its own people and Harper seems poised to follow in their footsteps.

Read more:

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15. Organized crime-While Harper talks tough on crime he does very little about organized crime. The Italian government has been continuously notifying Ottawa that organized crime figures are located in Canada, but it finds the Canadian government to be one of the most difficult to get information from on this issue. The proliferation of criminal groups in Canada really began in the early 1970s and gathered speed in subsequent decades. In its 2007 annual report, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada estimated there were 950 known organized crime groups in the country, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the previous year. The vast majority of these groups (80 percent, according to the CISC) are involved in the illegal drug trade. In British Columbia alone, the estimated number of organized crime gangs has more than doubled in recent years—from 52 in 2003 to 108 in 2005. In a public speech, the assistant commissioner of the RCMP in that province said that limited law enforcement resources mean that “only 30 percent of known organized crime groups can be targeted every year.”

Subsequently, CSIS said that there are somewhere between five and 150 criminal organizations operating in Canada - Asian triads, Colombian cartels, Mafia groups, Russian Mafia and Nigerian crime groups. The Hells Angels also have "enormous criminal clout" and are involved in drug trafficking, prostitution and money laundering through their 18 chapters in Canada.

Read more:

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16. CHRC-In March 2010, The Public Service Alliance of Canada condemned the Harper government's decision to close Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax. The union maintains that the closure of the three offices will make it substantially harder for individuals from marginalized groups to launch human rights complaints. The three offices slated for closure received 70 per cent of all signed complaints to the CHRC in 2008.For John Gordon, National President of PSAC, the closures are indicative of a strategy by the Conservative government to destabilize human rights organizations and women's groups in Canada.

"When the Conservatives took power in 2006, one of their first moves was to abolish the Court Challenges Program and close Status of Women Canada offices across the country," Gordon said. "Women's groups were denied government funding if they engaged in research or advocacy work, and equality-seeking groups lost the ability to fund Charter of Rights challenges. The government has also cancelled funding to notable NGOs such as KAIROS, and appointed ultra-conservative partisan board members to Rights & Democracy -- manufacturing a massive crisis within the organization. The closure of CHRC offices is another example of this outrageous trend."

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