Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!
From our home to yours, dear Family and Friends,
Again it is our pleasure to share a little bit of our lives over the past year at this very special time of year. We hope you enjoy a full and restful Christmas/New Year season. 2015 has been very much a typical year for us, happy with very ordinary challenges.
Tina continues to take the occasional casual shift, nursing at VGH while she enjoys her retirement. She continues with cello lessons at the Delta Community Music School under the tutelage of Bo Peng, accepting gradually increasingly more challenging music to learn. Although Tina intended to resume taking harp instruction as well, that just did not work out for this year. Perhaps in the new year.
With exercise and prescribed medication, Ted's health continues as stable, with only occasional colds. He continues to alternate 3 days of swimming (2500 m. in roughly 50 min.) with 3 days of cycling (nearly 14 km. in roughly 40 min.), sometimes substituting a good stiff walk (a little over 4 km. in 40 min.). With David well moved on from the Richmond Delta Youth Orchestra and Ted’s term as immediate Past President completed at the end of August, he is no longer active with the Delta Symphony Society.
Angela’s news is most exciting as she and her friends in the Dusty Babes Collective found a studio in which to work. One of the major British Columbia ceramic artists had retired and sold his studio property to a developer who was not developing immediately but offered the site for lease as ceramics studio space. Angela discovered the notice and the Dusty Babes promptly took up the lease; they have it for at least a full year from last June and she now spends most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays working her art there. Angela continues part-time work at Spawts, a ceramic studio that specializes in ceramic family pet paw print impressions, working Mondays and Fridays. She enjoys this work with the very small staff that includes one of her Dusty Babes friends. In January she added another part time position as Saturday ceramics studio technician for Vancouver’s West End Community Centre. Occasionally Angela also teaches school break concentrated children’s ceramics classes at the Delta Potter’s Association studio. Tina and Ted both remain in wonder at the beauty of Angela’s ceramic creations which range from hand crafted ceramic buttons through cups and bowls of various sizes to large vases.
David continues his musical studies as a founding student in the new strings music program within the Music Department of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, commuting to the Langley campus. His focus remains on his viola, giving him great success while he really enjoys his studies. The strings program remains very small which means that no large ensemble (required by the Kwantlen Music Department) exists, so the university continues to send him and the cello student to play with the Trinity Western University Orchestra. Kwantlen and also requires music students to participate in small ensembles and we enjoyed the end-of-term recitals and concert performances by David's string trio (David, the violin student, and a piano student from Kwantlen Music’s piano program) in April and by his quintet and his duo in December. Outside university, David also took up private study on his viola with Robert Hirschhorn Rozak and occasionally fills in with his viola for the Stradivari Ensemble.
Although studying music at Kwanten, David continues private study on piano, at the Delta Community Music school, in Garth Preston’s studio. He also continues to play with the adult Richmond Orchestra; fortunately that orchestra’s major concert this fall did not conflict with Trinity Western University Orchestra’s major concert as it did last year.
David enjoys writing, especially fiction as he extends his imagination. In his free time, during the summer before last, he wrote an initial draft of a novel. As he found chances through autumn, winter, and spring into this past summer, he worked through revisions and published the book as digital copy.
Again, our year brought a few significant life events for us to mark. Ted’s cousin David T. E. Hopkins passed earlier this month after a few month’s battle with cancer. He rests, treasured, in Ted’s boyhood and current Internet connection memories. Earlier in the Autumn we celebrated with Ted’s brother Norman as his son Gareth and wife Zoë left for Australia to take up a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Melbourne upon completing his PhD in Environmental Studies at Utah State University.
Looking beyond ourselves, Canada’s federal election last Fall drew our attention more intensely than ever before. All of us have always voted in every election for which we have been eligible, keeping our political thoughts largely to ourselves. For this election, issues were so critical that Ted just could not remain private with his thoughts and shared his views via his blog, and some e-mail messages. The most critical issue to Ted’s mind did not get addressed properly but over all the whole family is satisfied with the election result.
We share many Canadian’s concern for the plight of the many refugees from the civil war in Syria. Our congregation at Ladner United Church participates with many others across the country and is providing for two refugee families anticipated to arrive any day now, by year end. The Ladner community gives enthusiastic support, participating in this project.
We took only one get-away this year, returning to Cusheon Lake Resort on Salt Spring Island for the Canada Day weekend. As usual, we enjoyed Beddis Beach, Beaver Point at Ruckle Park, and Harlans’ Salt Spring Gelato among all else we enjoy on Salt Spring.
Catinka remains very much queen of our house, while Angela’s ducks continue to hold authority over our back yard. Jemima and Rebeccah resumed their egg production with the new year, less heavily than last year, then slowed and stopped completely when they moulted with the end of summer. Less frequent egg laying resumed this month. From January to August, Tango remains convinced that he should not let any of us exit the back yard. Adam, Angela’s red haired standard poodle, has settled in as very much a part of the family, continuing to endear himself to us all.
Ted continues to seek players to experiment with his invented team sports of Two Ball and Delta. Lacking sufficient contact of his own among sports minded youth, he continued to approach schools as their Physical Education and intramural sport programs likely offer the best chance of drawing sufficiently large groups of players together. This remains disappointing as no schools have taken up either game yet. Ted also kept up a web presence for the games, having revised the site, and on Facebook. These continued to catch attention world-wide, but he still awaits word of anyone actually playing either game. You are most welcome to have a look and draw the games to the attention of sport minded people you may know.
And now we look forward to 2016. Recent weeks, of course, have filled us with Christmas preparations. We hope yours have gone well and we wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas and all happiness in the New Year.
With our love,
Ted, Tina, David, and Angela.
P. S. That this letter arrives on Christmas Eve is entirely deliberate.
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! Happy New Year! Felice Nuovo Anno!
2015, October 21.
Dear Ms. Qualtrough,
Please accept my congratulations on your election. Through the campaign you impressed me simply as the person you are and by what you said and did. But for your silence and the silence of the Liberal Party of Canada on the issue I considered most vital for Canada’s future, I could have readily given you my vote.
With the announcement of successful completion of TPP negotiations, none of you, your leader, nor the Liberal Party of Canada raised Canada’s participation in this agreement with its sovereignty attacking ISDS provision as the fundamental issue it should have been (although the Council of Canadians suggests that the Liberal Party actually supports TPP as negotiated). I really do not understand why our sovereignty did not take front and centre as THE issue through the election campaign. After all, if international corporations can sue Canada in secret when the new government takes action to correct the damage inflicted by the previous government, then we will find ourselves impotent to act. The ISDS provision in the now, unfortunately, ratified Canada/China FIPPA, in TPP and CETA awaiting ratification, and in TTIP, and TiSA still under secret negotiation, permits international corporations to sue us in SECRET if we act on any of the many other issues in a way not to their liking, as though such corporations are equals with Canada as a nation rather than the subjects of nations. I have no problem with free trade, as such; I do see that betraying our sovereignty as entirely another matter.
The now departing so-called loyal Conservative government negotiated in secret, then signed and eventually ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) which goes far beyond simply providing for freer trade but, in effect, diminishes Canada to a resource colony of the Communist dictatorship in Beijing for the next thirty years. With the inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision, Chinese firms (which are merely arms of the Chinese Communist dictatorship) with investments in Canadian business now have the right to sue Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal governments in secret trials by tribunals outside of our justice system if new environmental, labour, health and safety, business practice, etc. law impinges on their investment. That is to say, Canada now has to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with Beijing in order to bring them into effect.
Similarly, that government negotiated in secret, then signed both the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now awaiting ratification. It also has Canada participating in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) secret negotiations and has signed other so-called free trade agreements, all of which include provisions for ISDS by which international corporations can turn to the International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID) to sue sovereign nations, Canada included, in secret trials by tribunals outside of any national judiciary to overturn new law enacted out of a nation’s sovereign right to govern itself. Canada will have to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with corporate head offices in order to bring them into effect and hope to remain safe from attack.
With its secret trials and no recourse to appeal, the ISDS provision raises international corporations from the subjects of nations to, in effect, non-territorial kingdoms equal with or superior to no-longer sovereign nations while reducing participating nations, Canada included, to resource and labour colonies of those multinational corporations. For suborning Canada’s sovereignty to international corporations through ICSID, departing Prime Minister Harper and those of his ministers involved in these negotiations should be called to answer to the charge of treason.
All through the election, Mr. Trudeau and the entire Liberal party remained silent on the evil of ISDS and that silence makes me suspicious that Liberals may be complicit with the Conservatives in betraying our sovereign right to govern ourselves. To alleviate that suspicion, I can only hope that Mr. Trudeau will do the right thing and refuse to ratify TPP and CETA unless the sovereignty destroying ISDS provision gets stripped from them and that he withdraws Canada from the secret TTIP and TiSA negotiations as long as they remain secret (after all he promises to be open with Canadians) and also contain the sovereignty deleting ISDS provision.
Instead of ISDS, Canadian operations of international corporations that find themselves at issue with our governments at whatever level should bring the matter to an open and public Canadian court within the Canadian judicial system for decision under Canadian law in the same way as Canadian corporations and Canadian citizens must do. If an issue exceeds the competence of Canadian courts, an international corporation should be required to publicly request its home nation government to pursue the matter in an open and public international court on a sovereign nation versus sovereign nation basis that clearly holds international corporations as subjects of sovereign nations and not equals with sovereign nations.
Please share your thoughts on this vitally fundamental issue, both with your leader and with your constituents.
Thank you for your attention and, again, congratulations,
Edwin M. Hopkins,
CC: The Delta Optimist
The Liberal Party of Canada
The Council of Canadians
I grew up on a southern Okanagan orchard in the rural neighbourhood of Testalinda, south of Oliver. From the 1950s and 60s, I vividly recall the Department of Highways sign on Highway 97 where it crossed Testalinda Creek giving that name. My boyhood ramblings took me all around the hills rising from that part of the Okanagan Valley, including the beautiful Testalinda Canyon. The second orchard my father owned for a few years encircled the site of the former Testalinda Creek School, dear to the memories of some older residents still living in Oliver and the Testalinda rural neighbourhood. Other southern Okanagan old-timers recall the school consolidation that built the Oliver-Testalinda-Osoyoos School in Oliver (OTO School, that had evolved by by childhood into the primary building of Oliver Elementary School). To this day, southern Okanagan residents know Testalinda by its well established name and no other, feeling dismay when news media give the incorrect name.
Yet, our news media insist on reporting with the name "Testalinden." Apparently this results from an error in the Canadian federal government registry of geographical place names. A petition seeks to correct that error and restore Testalinda.
Many issues of great importance require close examination before we vote this October 19th:
•Issues around the environment and sustainability hold great importance but, if an international corporation can sue Canada in secret trial by tribunal outside of our justice system, and without recourse to appeal, to overthrow Canadian government actions in response to these environmental issues, efforts by any level of Canadian government will be futile;
•Issues around the economy and employment hold great importance but, if an international corporation can sue Canada in secret trial by tribunal outside of our justice system, and without recourse to appeal, to overthrow Canadian government actions in response to labour, health and safety, business practice, etc. issues, efforts by any level of Canadian government will be futile.
Thus, the fundamental issue to address during this election has to be that of Canada’s sovereign right to govern ourselves as a free and independent nation, “The true north strong and free.”
The first question every voter should ask of every candidate for election to Parliament from each riding across our much loved nation should be, “Are you Committed to Canada’s sovereignty as a free and independent nation?”
•If an incumbent candidate who supports the current government answers, “Yes,” then the only possible follow-up question must be, “If you are committed to our sovereignty, why do you support a government that suborned Canada’s national sovereignty and continues to suborn?”
-This so-called loyal Conservative government negotiated in secret, then signed and eventually ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) which goes far beyond simply providing for freer trade but, in effect, diminishes Canada to a resource colony of the Communist dictatorship in Beijing for the next thirty-one years. With the inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision, Chinese firms (which are merely arms of the Chinese Communist dictatorship) with investments in Canadian business now have the right to sue Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal governments in secret trials by tribunals outside of our justice system if new environmental, labour, health and safety, business practice, etc. law impinges on their investment. That is to say, Canada now has to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with Beijing in order to bring them into effect.
-Similarly, this government participates in Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) secret negotiations and has signed other so-called free trade agreements, all of which include provisions for ISDS by which international corporations can turn to the International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID) to sue sovereign nations in secret trials by tribunals outside of any national judiciary to overturn new law enacted out of a nation’s sovereign right to govern itself (fortunately pre-existing law as at signing an ISDS containing agreement cannot get attacked, but participating nations will have to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with corporate head offices if they hope to remain safe from attack). This provision raises international corporations from the subjects of nations to, in effect, non-territorial kingdoms equal with or superior to no-longer sovereign nations while reducing nations to resource and labour colonies of those multinational corporations.
-For these actions Prime Minister Harper and those of his ministers involved in these negotiations should be called to answer to the charge of treason.
•If a non-incumbent candidate who supports the current government answers, “Yes,” then the only possible follow-up question must be, “If you are committed to our sovereignty, are you aware that the current government suborned Canada’s national sovereignty and continues to suborn?”
•If a candidate who does not support the current government answers, “Yes,” then a possible follow-up question would be, “If you are committed to our sovereignty, what are your thoughts on so-called free trade treaties Canada has already signed which include the sovereignty destroying ISDS provision and where do you stand with regard to Canada’s participation in TPP and the secret negotiations toward CETA, TTIP, and TiSA?”
-Instead of ISDS, Canadian operations of international corporations that find themselves at issue with our governments at whatever level should bring the matter to an open and public Canadian court within the Canadian judicial system for decision under Canadian law in the same way as Canadian corporations and Canadian citizens must do.-If an issue exceeds the competence of Canadian courts, an international corporation should be required to publicly request its home nation government to pursue the matter in an open and public international court on a sovereign nation versus sovereign nation basis that clearly holds international corporations as subjects of sovereign nations and not equals with sovereign nations.
40 Reasons Why I Cannot Vote for a Candidate in My Riding Who Supports Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government
In all my sixty-nine years, the current government of Canada led by the Conservative Party of Canada is the worst, most anti-democratic, most anti-Parliament, government I have experienced.
I have voted in every election for which I have been eligible and my voting habit is to vote the person among offered candidates within the electoral constituency in which I live, rather than vote the party, as should every voter in a Parliamentary democracy if Parliament is to function properly in representing people. As it turns out, the candidate in my riding whose views have most matched my own views was usually a Progressive Conservative candidate. During the minority government years of the current regime I could support our local Member of Parliament in spite of his participation with a leader I find repellant. He spoke his mind and, often a thorn to his colleagues, found himself shut out from potential advancement. With his retirement before our last federal election, I could not support his successor and turned my vote to another, though unsuccessful, candidate.
With the coming Canadian federal election I will vote for a candidate in my riding other than any candidate who supports Mr. Harper and his Conservative Party of Canada for the following reasons (in no particular order but two of which I emphasize as truly substantial):
1. Contempt for Parliament: on March 25th, 2011, the Harper administration was found to be in contempt of Canadian Parliament. This is the first time in the history of any commonwealth government that this has happened. The Speaker of the House of Commons had to rule three times that "the Harper government" appeared to breach parliamentary privilege. (reference, The Globe & Mail)
2. Cheated in the 2006 Election: in Spring of 2011, a federal court found that Mr. Harper's Conservatives wilfully violated the $18.3 million election spending limit, during the campaign which originally brought them to power in 2006. 4 Conservatives (including 2 Conservative Senators) currently face charges and possible jail time. (reference, The Globe & Mail)
3. Discourages voter participation by restricting our rights to vote: This government passed its so-called Fair Elections Act (widely colloquially called the “Unfair Elections Act”) which strips Elections Canada, the nonpartisan government body responsible for administering elections, of its authority to actively encourage citizens to vote; allows incumbent candidates rather than Elections Canada to appoint polling supervisors; muzzles the Chief Electoral Officer, restricting the role from raising awareness of the electoral process to speaking publicly on just five ‘safe’ topics such as ‘how to become a candidate’ and ‘how to cast a ballot’ and specifically removing the role’s power to alert the public to problems during an election while making it more difficult to investigate vote and campaign fraud by cutting off Elections Canada’s investigations arm; and then cut Elections Canada’s budget by 8%. (reference The Guardian)
4. Turned Canada's Surplus into Debt: by 2006, under non-conservative leadership, the Canadian budgetary deficit had been turned around, into a $16 Billion surplus. Four years later, and the current government had returned Canada to a record $56 Billion deficit and, until the 2015 budget with its dubious surplus, had failed to return Canada to a surplus position in spite of protestations of fiscal responsibility. (reference Catch22)
5. Takes credit for others’ achievements: Since the 2008 Financial Crisis, this government has been taking credit for the relative strength of our financial sector, based on fiscal policy and a system of banking regulations they inherited, but didn’t support. (reference The Tyee)
6. Shut down Parliament. Twice: one of the Conservative platform promises was more accountability. Since making this promise, This government has shut down Parliament twice, once for several months to block an inquiry into Afghan detainees and to stall government bills, and a second time to avoid a vote of non-confidence which the government was expected to lose. (reference The Globe & Mail)
7. Suborned Canada’s national sovereignty and continues to suborn: This so-called loyal Conservative government negotiated, signed and eventually ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) which goes far beyond simply providing for freer trade but in effect diminishes Canada to a resource colony of the Communist dictatorship in Beijing for the next thirty-one years. Chinese firms (which are merely arms of the Chinese Communist dictatorship) with investments in Canadian business now have the right to sue Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal governments in secret tribunals outside of our justice system if new environmental, labour, health and safety, business practice, etc. law impinges on their investment. That is to say, Canada now has to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with Beijing in order to bring them into effect. Similarly, this government participates in CITA, TPP, TTIP, and TiSA secret negotiations and has signed other so-called free trade agreements, all of which include provisions for investor-state arbitration by which international corporations can sue sovereign nations in secret tribunals outside of any national judiciary to overturn new law enacted out of a nation’s sovereign right to govern itself. This provision raises international corporations from the subjects of nations to, in effect, non-territorial kingdoms equal with or superior to no-longer sovereign nations while reducing nations to resource and labour colonies of those multinational corporations. For these actions Prime Minister Harper and those of his ministers involved in these negotiations should be called to answer to the charge of treason. (reference Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Vancouver Observer, The Council of Canadians , The Independent, and many others)
8. Wants to replace the stable CPP with the untested PRPP: Although seniors' incomes have dropped for the first time in decades, it is clear that the so-called Conservative government was laying the groundwork to replace Canada's well-run, cost-effective, and stable CPP with a private, more expensive pension scheme, the Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP), run by the banking, mutual fund, and insurance industries. This new plan would mean Canadians would have to work for longer, or to retire on less. (reference NUPGE [PDF])
9. Shut down Women's and Minority advocacy groups: Since coming into power, our so-called Conservative government has cut funding for women's advocacy by 43 per cent, shut down 12 out of 16 Status of Women offices in Canada and eliminated funding of legal voices for women and minority groups, including the National Association of Women and the Law and the Courts Challenges Program. (reference Toronto Star)
10. The Economic Action plan has been to the benefit of the super rich; Mr.Harper's economic 'recovery' favoured the extremely wealthy: Over 321,000 Canadians lost their jobs in 2008 and Canadians' average wages fell. Meanwhile Canada's 100 wealthiest persons became richer, reaching an average net worth of $1.7 billion each, up almost 5 per cent from 2008. The majority of those surveyed by the Parliamentary Budget Office reported that the program has had either a neutral or negative impact on jobs. Even the conservative Fraser Institute has criticized it. (reference Canada.com; The Tyee ; The Fraser Institute)
11. Fraud: One of Prime Minister Harper's top aides, Bruce Carson, had been convicted of 5 counts of fraud, and is currently under investigation by the RCMP. Most recently he was lobbying the government to buy water filtration systems, from a company where his wife was employed. (reference National Post)
12. Wasteful G20 spending, and a record number of arrests: at the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto: Mr. Harper spent $1.9 million building an artificial lake and nearly $1 Billion on security for the 3 day event. 1,105 arrests were made, the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Of those 1,105 arrests, only 99 criminal charges were ever laid. (reference The Toronto Star)
13. Loosened regulations to allow more chemical residues on your food: Since taking office, this government has weakened regulations so that more pesticide residues can be left on your fruits and vegetables. The plan is to bring Canadian regulations in line with U.S. Levels, which can allow to 100 times higher levels of residue. Under additional new regulations, corporate food producers will be allowed to conduct their own safety inspections. (reference Canwest News)
14. Removed the protection on our lakes and river established by Sir John A. MacDonald: This government reduced the number of protected lakes and rivers from 2.5 million down to a mere 159. (reference CBC, o.Canada.com news)
15. Vindictive with knowledgeable people who raise concerns: in 2008, when Luc Pomerleau, a biologist at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with a flawless 20 year record with the agency, leaked the plans mentioned in item 10, he was immediately fired. Since then, the listeriosis meat outbreak killed 17 Canadians. (reference Canwest News  & The Ottawa Citizen); in 2008, Linda Keen, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, reported that the aging Chalk River nuclear facility was at a risk 1000 times greater than the international average. Our so-called Conservative government quickly fired her. (reference Toronto Star)
16. Shut down Canadian aid to the world's most impoverished countries: Despite consistently pointing out that Canada's economy is a global leader, Prime Minister Harper used the excuse of poor economic times to freeze aid to some of the world's most impoverished countries. An example of this is the African nation of Malawi, one of the 10 poorest nations in the world. Before this government, Canada was the 6th largest aid donor to Malawi, and the largest supplier of school books. After coming into power, they closed the Canadian embassy in Malawi and took the country (alongside 6 other African nations) off of Canada's aid priority list. They cut aid to Africa in half, before finally freezing all foreign aid in 2010. (reference 680 News)
17. Want to buy 65 stealth fighter jets using $29 billion of tax payers' money: That works out to around $1000 per person in Canada. The government initially reported the cost would be $9 billion, plus $7 billion in maintenance costs for a total life-time project cost of $16 billion. In March, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page warned Canadians that the Harper Government was low-balling the cost by more than $12 billion. That is responsible fiscal management? (reference The Globe & Mail)
18. Refusal to sign UN declaration designating clean water as a human right: In the 2011 budget, this government failed to allocate any new funding for drinking water on First Nations reserves. 100 First Nations communities currently have water advisories, including 49 communities which are high risk. He also refuses to sign the UN declaration designating clean water as a human right. (reference Rabble )
19. Tried to quietly eliminate the Canadian long form census and with considerable controversy did eliminate it: The long form census is how our government determines the state and needs of the country, and is used extensively in various fields of research. In eliminating the census, many projects would be affected negatively, and it will become much more difficult to understand the needs of the country. (reference Hill Times)
20. Never kept promises of cutting $1.4 Billion in federal subsidies given to oil companies: In 2007, our current government cut $1.2 Billion from the establishment of national childcare, but failed to keep his promise of cutting the $1.4 billion in tax breaks he gives to oil companies, while these firms continue to see record profits. (reference CUPE )
21. Sabotaging efforts to deal with climate change: Protecting the interests of large oil companies, this government has fought global efforts to deal with climate change. In 2009, they cut science research funding by $138 Million, and imposed limitations on scientists at Environment Canada, requiring that they obtain permission to do interviews, and often screened their responses. The result is that Canadian media coverage of climate change science has been reduced by 80%. His efforts here have been so destructive, that in 2009 prominent politicians and scientists called for Canada to be removed from the Commonwealth. The last time this mark of shame was used, it was against South Africa while it was still under racist apartheid rule. (reference Guardian UK)
22. Cancelled the Kelowna accord: The Kelowna accord was a $5 billion breakthrough agreement to improve the quality of health and education for Canada's First Nation's Peoples. This government cancelled it in 2006, immediately after taking office. (reference CBC)
23. Tarnishing our international reputation as Peacekeepers: ‘We detained, and handed over for severe torture, a lot of innocent people.' in 2009 Canadian Diplomat Richard Colvin shocked the nation with these words. In Afghanistan, Canada captured 6x more prisoners than the British and 20x as many as the Dutch. Colvin explained that 'Many were just local people: farmers; truck drivers; tailors, peasants...the likelihood is that all the Afghans we handed over were tortured.' (reference The Globe & Mail)
24. Devastated Canada’s once significant reputation as a world leader on environmental issues. (Reference CBC, Huffington Post, The Star)
25. Wants more power, less oversight: The so-called Conservative government has vowed to implement unprecedented levels of monitoring on Canadians' internet activities. Prime Minister Harper has tried and failed (4 times) to create a law that would implement mass scale internet surveillance, and that would allow the government access to private information without any warrants, and without any court oversight. (reference CBC & Michael Geist) Now, this government seeks to diminish our human rights and impose secret police upon us with Bill C-51 when existing law, if properly resourced, is sufficient to respond to potential terrorism without reducing our freedom and privacy. (reference Times Colonist, The Globe and Mail, ThinkPol, CBC)
26. Wasteful prison spending increases, while shutting down rehabilitation centres: Even though crime rates have been falling for a decade, this government plans to implement tougher laws, and to incarcerate more Canadians than ever before. Plans are to double annual prison spending by 2015 (an increase of $5 billion annually). Meanwhile, six prison farms, considered by some to be Canada's most effective rehabilitation programs, where inmates produced food for themselves and other prisons, have been closed. This is in spite of having support from the majority of Canadians. Observers say that this will result in inmates being hardened, instead of healed. (reference Times Colonist & CBC)
27. Defunding and diminishing our national public broadcaster, the CBC (reference Friends of Canadian Broadcasting)
28. Breaking traditions: Traditionally, the lobby in parliament has been decorated with photos of former Prime Ministers. Since taking office, Stephen Harper has broken this tradition, decorating the lobby, Orwellian Big Brother style, with just photos of himself. (reference Ottawa Citizen)
29. Renamed 'The Government of Canada' to 'The Harper Government’: In late 2010, public servants from various departments confirmed that Stephen Harper has indeed renamed 'The Government of Canada' to 'The Harper Government,’ again in Orwellian Big Brother style. (reference The Toronto Star CBC )
30. Turned what is very Canadian over to foreign control: Just recently, this traitorous government sold control of the Canadian Wheat Board out from under our wheat farmers to American and Saudi interests. (reference The Globe and Mail, Global News)
31. Deliberately exporting jobs: Canada lost $3.5 billion when Finance Minister Joe Oliver chose to sell the government's shares in GM before they earned back their full value (reference The Globe and Mail) while Export Development Canada announced a $526 million loan to Volkswagen to help them "grow their operations in North America,” by building factories and creating jobs in Mexico at the same time as 1,000 auto workers at General Motors learned they were the latest ones to lose their jobs when the automobile giant announced massive layoffs at its Oshawa assembly line.(reference Press Progress) Meanwhile, Canada's unemployment rate remains higher than it was before the 2008 - ’11 recession. (reference The Tyee)
32. Impeded world-wide nuclear armament non-proliferation: At the United Nations review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this Canadian government has now helped block a major international plan towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons; thus nuclear disarmament efforts have been stalled until 2020. (reference The Globe and Mail, CBC)
33. This poster speaks for itself.34. Hides under threat: When a pseudo-terrist nut case armed gunman stormed Parliament Hill after killing Cpl. Nathan Cirillo a short distance away, Mr Harper’s leadership style was such as to allow his caucus to have him cower in a utility closet behind his caucus in their meeting room. (reference Daily Brew Canada News)
35. Machiavellian plot to wreak Parliamentary havoc: Back in 2007, a secret Tory handbook on obstructing and manipulating Commons committees revealing secret techniques to disrupt committee proceedings and render them ineffective at close scrutiny of Parliamentary business got leaked to the press. (reference CTV)
36. Doing nothing about giving Canada a part in controlling anthropogenic climate change. (reference Press Progress)
37. Spent more than $4.7 million fighting 15 losing court cases. This is competent government? (reference CBC)
38. Arbitrarily and without due process seized the passport of a Canadian citizen while he was out of Canada, precluding him from returning to Canada. (reference Reuters)
39. Attacks Canadian human rights to a sufficient extent as to draw the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. (reference Huffington Post, the Globe and Mail, The Star, and see items 9, 12, and 25 above)
40. Transferred fish protection away from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the National Energy Board for waterways along potential pipeline corridors. (reference Common Sense Canadian)
During Valentine's Day family wander in Boundary bay Regional Park, I noticed definite sighs of spring.