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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Will This Past Weekend's Events Become the New Norm?

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"In keeping with the lurch towards American right-wing politics, the focus is on the 'enemy within'" Brooke Jeffrey, Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neoconservatism in Canada

Murray Dobbin posted an excellent piece on Canada's new Police State, as it is becoming painfully clear that the one billion dollar price tag for the weekend's security, was not intended to provide "security", but silence dissent.

The Black Bloc, which undoubtedly included several police provocateurs, were allowed to rampage for an hour and a half, while innocent civilians and the media; the true 'enemies of the state'; were beaten up and arrested.
There was no spontaneous “over-reaction.” There were no cops “out of control” – the obvious fact is that were always in control. This was a very strategic operation from beginning to end. The decision to allow the Black Bloc to do its destructive work without any intervention at all was strategic as the police and their political masters knew the media would play their pre-assigned reactionary role and focus on the destruction of property. The mass arrest of 900 people was a message to those willing to take a stand: you could be next, and a criminal record is no laughing matter. There is no question that amongst the mob of window-breakers and car-burners were a significant number of agents provocateurs. How many we will likely never know as this time around none were exposed as they were in Montebello at the SSP Summit. (1)
The puppet prime minister needed those destructive images to justify the "over reaction", while his puppet master, Guy Giorno, scored a victory on two fronts. He has cleverly manipulated the situation to allow the Toronto police and the McGuinty government to take the fall.

This accelerates the west's contempt for Toronto, and shores up Harper's base, while helping Tim Hudak, the Mike Harris protegee; who would like to become premier of Ontario to finish the job started by Giorno, when he was pulling the strings for Mike Harris.

From 1998:
I tell my friend from Brampton that if he wants to get into the cabinet, like his colleague, he should be good to Guy Giorno and Deb Hutton. Deb's now been with the Tory caucus 10 years; celebrating her 33rd birthday in mid-August. She has all kinds of power .... All these people advise, so what I'm saying to the members of the Conservative caucus who want into the cabinet is, yes, be nice to Mike, laugh very loudly at the jokes, lead the applause when Mike speaks and give an answer that zaps the opposition, but the most important thing is to ingratiate yourself with Guy Giorno and the whiz kids. (2)
For those who don't know, Deb Hutton is now married to Tim Hudak.
Meanwhile, Deborah Hutton, who remained as the premier's legislative assistant, was given the nickname "Jabba the Hutt" by ministerial aides terrified of her legendary tantrums. One of these aides, like those working for the Conservatives, was willing to be more specific, only on the condition of anonymity. According to the disgruntled staffer, Hutton was and remains "a one-person Blitzkrieg against party morale. She guards her access to Harris jealously, and frequently speaks on his behalf." (3)
In 1999 when Mike Harris toured the province with a jar full of loonies, which some of us referred to as the Harris caucus, (the only time they were allowed out in public, but still silenced) Hutton followed him around polishing his jar. Not a euphemism:
Reporters like Robert Fisher remember the loonie tour with a little less reverence but concede that it was one of the more successful publicity stunts. "It became a bit of a joke really. He lugged this damn jar of loonies everywhere he went," says Fisher. "And Deb Hutton, one of Harris's senior advisors, it became her job to polish the jar. So help me, this woman - probably the most hated woman at Queen's Park, but very powerful - had a cloth and she would take the fingerprints off the jar and shake the loonies so they looked all even. Talk about being obsessive-compulsive." (4)
And this obsessive-compulsive wants to be the wife of a premier, while the other obsessive-compulsive, Guy Giorno, is now bent on destroying our country, rather than just a province. That was merely the opening act. Back then:
Guy Giorno himself continued to play a crucial policy role as director of strategic planning. Viewed by ministerial aides as a "true believer who toiled at the centre of the web, he could be rigidly inflexible if departmental initiatives failed to conform to his expectations and/or the CSR priorities. It was not long before he was given the nickname, "Rasputin" by Frank magazine and opposition MLAs. (3)
And today after learning that Giorno was behind the prorogation:
While discussing this jaw-dropping revelation with other Conservatives, one said he was not surprised. "Guy Giorno has been an unmitigated disaster. I'm amazed we're still leading in the polls," he said. "We're governing from crisis to crisis, managing issues as opposed to managing Parliament."

Guy Giorno-- or Double G, as he's known in government circles -- is probably the most powerful man you've never heard of. The 44-year-old former lawyer is the Prime Minister's chief of staff, a position he also used to fill for former Ontario premier Mike Harris. He is closer to the Prime Minister than any other individual in government and his counsel is sought on decisions that affect millions of people and billions of dollars. (5)
Those words were written by John Ivison and it's interesting that back in the Harris days, Ivision also had an opinion:
"They would also, in their more strident moments, convey the sense of ideological fervor, of harshness, of lack of compassion or forethought, that would darken the government's record and alienate some of its core supporters." (6)
And for more Deja Vu, Again and Again and Again:

Brooke Jeffrey opens her 1999 book, Hard Right Turn, by saying that in Toronto there were rallies and demonstrations at Queens Park because of Mike Harris' cuts to health care, education and social services. Her cab driver volunteered the information that he had been fooled into voting for Mike Harris' "Common Sense Revolution", which he learned made no sense at all. "I didn't expect them to pick on blind people and little old ladies."

Not long after she was in Alberta and found the same demonstrations and rallies targeting Ralph Klein. "The premier and his controversial treasurer, Stockwell Day (now our treasurer (7)), were adamant the cuts would go forward as planned. They didn't need to, because Alberta was in the middle of an oil boom and had money to burn ... "The striking thing about Klein's comments was his choice of language. It was almost identical in tone and content to arguments Mike Harris had used to defend his actions in Ontario a few months earlier. Klein's refusal to consult in any meaningful way with the affected groups was equally firm." (8)

Now this may have been striking to Jeffrey, but there is a simple explanation. Two words: Guy Giorno.

We know that he pulled the strings and pulled them tight for Mike Harris and is pulling them just as tightly for Stephen Harper. But what wasn't as well known was that he often put words into the mouth of Ralph Klein. Wearing his other hat as emperor of lobbying:
... cabinet ministers partied last week with Kyoto-bashers the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, a lobby group with close ties to both Ralph Klein and the energy industry .... it was interesting to learn that this meeting was organized by Guy Giorno, Mike Harris’s old chief of staff and ultimate Tory party insider. Giorno now works with National Public Relations (NPR), the coalition’s high-priced lobby firm. Two days after the meeting, Giorno sent every MPP at Queen’s Park an e-mail suggesting what they might say in op-ed news pieces or letters to their constituents about Kyoto. (9)
Wow, huh? Deja Vu over and over and over again. And as Murray Dobbin writes:
Will this increasing pressure on Canadians’ quality of life and economic security be the trigger that creates the conditions for social unrest? There is no way of knowing that ahead of time but it will certainly present the conditions for a rejuvenation of social movement efforts to mobilize against the corporate state. Labour will be forced from its self-imposed slumber and have to take a real stand – and not just show up a single demonstration.

When resistance does increase that corporate state hopes to have created a new a normal where demonstrating is seen as vaguely threatening, the demand for civil liberties is the recourse of scoundrels, and criticism of governments naïve at best and dangerous at worst. Economic insecurity does not necessarily lead to greater resistance. It can also lead to passivity out of fear that things could get even worse. That passive part of the population is the classic ground for fascist politics and the desire for a “strong” leader, in the mode of a father figure. Harper, of course, has always played that role. (
my emphasis) (1)

Richard Bessel in his book Germany After the First World War, suggests that the German people were looking for a father figure amid so much chaos. (10) While many had supported the overthrow of Kaiser Wilhelm, they felt like orphans with no one to protect them. In this way the time was ripe for someone to play the role. And they found that someone, or thought they did, in a man by the name of Adolf Hitler.

Many mistakenly believe that Hitler was a socialist, but he hated socialists. He only added the name to entice the masses. Prior to 1933, all newspapers and magazines referred to the party as the "fascist Brown Shirts". (11) Author of Hitler: Profiles in Power, Ian Kershaw, also reminds us that the communist party of Russia always referred to Hitler as a capitalist, and accused him of selling out to big business. (12)

But let's hope that this does not become Deja Vu:
"In a few weeks time brown shirts will again dominate the streets of German towns. ... Correspondents who dashed about Berlin while the speech blared from loud speakers reported that it seemed to be received by the populace with unusual apathy. (13)

1. Is this what a police state looks like? By Murray Dobbin, June 29, 2010

2. Official Records for June 23, 1998, Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Discussion Bill 25

3. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 170

4. How Mike Harris and his minions manipulate TV news, By Kali Pearson, Ryerson Press, June 2000

5. Judging Giorno, By John Ivison, National Post, February 2010

6. Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 169

7. PM makes Stockwell Day chief cost-cutter: Cabinet shuffle hands ex-Alliance leader job of directing which programs are to be cut, By Les Whittington and Bruce Champion-Smith, Toronto Star, January 20, 2010

8. Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 1-6

9. Big Oil's Kyoto Party: Harris whiz kid pulls strings at wine and shrimp fete, By Josh Matlow, NOW Magazine, October 24, 2002

10. Germany After the First World War, By: Richard Bessel, Clarendon Press Oxford, 1993, ISBN: 0-19-821938-5

11. Including here: GERMANY: Strap Helmets Tighter! Time Magazine, September 29, 1930

12. Hitler: Profiles in Power, by: Ian Kershaw, Longman House UK, 1991, ISBN: 0-582-08053-3

13. GERMANY: Purge Speech, Time Magazine, July 23, 1934

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guy Giorno Wins by Reviving Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

What does the article say about Guy Giorno? "Any discussion with insiders about control from the centre quickly turns into a debate over the relative strengths and weaknesses of director of policy Guy Giorno ... Nicknamed `Rasputin'...he is, some say, the ultimate insider, a right-wing true believer who sidelines any ministerial move that doesn't jibe with his ideology ... I am concerned when I see that nothing can get through without the thumbs up from Guy Giorno. I asked before, what riding does he represent? What constituency elected him? (1)

Guy Giorno, as many are no doubt aware, is not just a consultant or chief of staff for Stephen Harper. He is Stephen Harper. It's only been since 2008 that the media has started calling Harper a brilliant strategist. Before that he was kind of a lunk head. Always putting his foot in his mouth.

Then along comes Guy, and nothing is left to chance. I'll bet Harpo has a little chip embedded somewhere with Giorno choreographing his every move. "Watch out for that step" ... "There's a car coming" ... "You forgot to zip up."

I've realized that I have to do the same with Stephen Harper as I did with Mike Harris. Ignore him and go straight to his puppet master: Guy Giorno.

So when I learned that Canada is going to continue with tax breaks for the oil patch I was not at all surprised. Giorno is a lobbyist. In fact he is the king of lobbyists. Maybe even the emperor of lobbyists.

And when Canada was adopting the Kyoto Protocol this emperor of lobbyists swung into action creating the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, which was an astroturf front group for National Public Relations (NPR), the lobbyists for ... you guessed it ... the oil patch.
Some of Ernie Eves’s top cabinet ministers partied last week with Kyoto-bashers the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, a lobby group with close ties to both Ralph Klein and the energy industry ... It took place in the Queen’s Park dining hall and was a very chummy shrimp-and-wine gathering, a chance for members of the coalition -- the Canadian Association of Oil Well Drilling Contractors, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, etc -- to schmooze Tory heavies. (2)
And guess what hand picked former federal environmental minister was on hand for the festivities?
There were speeches by coalition organizers, and a particularly passionate Ontario energy minister, John Baird, made his anti-Kyoto rallying cry. Needless to say, the audience was very receptive. Baird’s parliamentary assistant, Scarborough MPP Steve Gilchrist*, who at one time helped block developers’ plans for the Oak Ridges Moraine, was busy propping open doors with chairs to give relief to a very hot and stuffy room. I couldn’t help remarking to him that perhaps the room was so unbearably hot because of climate change. He was not amused. (2)
And of course we find the big guy, 'Big Guy', lurking in the shadows:
While Eves has been slightly slippery on just where he stands on Kyoto, it was interesting to learn that this meeting was organized by Guy Giorno, Mike Harris’s old chief of staff and ultimate Tory party insider. Giorno now works with National Public Relations (NPR), the coalition’s high-priced lobby firm.

Two days after the meeting, Giorno sent every MPP at Queen’s Park an e-mail suggesting what they might say in op-ed news pieces or letters to their constituents about Kyoto. Then Liberal and NDP members, for whom the missive was obviously not intended, were sent a second e-mail that read, "Unfortunately, materials from the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions were sent to your office in error in a previous e-mail. I do apologize for any inconvenience."

So now we have Mike Harris’s former number-one man trying to dictate environmental policy to our government members. It might make you wonder if the Eves government is really any different from Harris’s where the environment is concerned. It certainly doesn’t seem to be. Then there’s Klein’s relationship with the coalition, which is kind of like that of an organized crime boss and his "legitimate business activities."
Leaves me asking the same question as they asked in 1997 about Guy Giorno: "What riding does he represent? What constituency elected him?"


*Steve Gilchrist was the former boss of Harper MP Paul Calandra: "The Conservative minister of municipal affairs and housing is under Ontario Provincial Police investigation after allegedly telling developers to go through his own personal lawyer, Tory fundraiser Peter Proszanski, to get an audience with him — a privilege that'd cost them $25,000 each ... Even juicier, Gilchrist has a criminal record for tax evasion dating back to 1984, shared with his father, who was at the time a federal Tory MP." (3)


1. Ontario Legislative Assembly, Official Records for December 2, 1997

2. Big Oil's Kyoto Party: Harris whiz kid pulls strings at wine and shrimp fete, By Josh Matlow, NOW Magazine, October 24, 2002

3. How Mike Harris and his minions manipulate TV news, Ryerson Review of Journalism, Summer 2000

Monday, June 28, 2010

Guy Giorno Uses Threats and Intimidation to Pass Omnibus Bill

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"This is an omnibus bill. This is a very extensive bill. It may not have blockbuster issues in it, but it has a number of provisions which affect almost everyone in Ontario

"There was a period of time that could have been allocated for that. But Guy Giorno, who runs the government from the back rooms, decided that he wanted to see rule changes in this House. You see, the House was working too democratically to suit the backroom boys and the government, the people who are impatient with the democratic process, the people who feel the opposition is just some irritant to be shoved out of the way, the people who believe that if there's any opposition out there, they must be misguided or misled people. They wanted to see the rule changes brought through the House instead of dealing with legislation." (1)


"In the dying days of the spring session, which started last January, by the way, and ended in June some time, I can well recall those of us in opposition saying, "Bring forward your legislation." But no, the government House leader of the day, Mr Johnson, was instructed by Guy Giorno and those who have the real control in this government to deal with changing the rules of the Legislature to grease the skids for the government to get its legislation through." (2)

And further still:
"Any discussion with insiders about control from the centre quickly turns into a debate over the relative strengths and weaknesses of director of policy Guy Giorno, who was all of 29 when the Tories came to power. Nicknamed `Rasputin'...he is, some say, the ultimate insider, a right-wing true believer who sidelines any ministerial move that doesn't jibe with his ideology."

"I am concerned because I know many of the members of the cabinet, even some of the newer people. I am concerned when I see that nothing can get through without the thumbs up from Guy Giorno. I asked before, what riding does he represent? What constituency elected him? What group of people in this province elevated him to this position so that he can dictate to my friends who are in the cabinet? I am here on your side when you fight against the Premier's office.

"There is one I haven't mentioned, John Toogood: "The Premier's economic policy adviser, he was recently promoted to assistant director of policy. The Tory Youth graduate and Giorno protégé still looks too young to shave."

"There are lots of people in there, I guess, who have input and I think what's bad for our system, what's bad for our democratic system, is that these people are now in control of this government. My friend Al Leach, when he wants to bring something forward, has to pass it by the whiz kids. When my friend Noble Villeneuve, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, whom I have known for many years, wants to bring forward an initiative, it's got to be approved by Guy Giorno and John Toogood." (3)

Now let's fast forward to 2010: (all emphasis mine)

Mr. Malcolm Allen (Welland, NDP): "I believe it was Yogi Berra who said that it was déjà-vu all over again. The front bench opposite, the Conservative government, for the most part was the front bench in Ontario back in the 1990s when we would see things like this omnibus bill. We know the havoc that wreaked on the province of Ontario when we had all those omnibus bills under the previous premier, Mike Harris, and some of those members on the front bench, including the Minister of Finance who is in the federal government today. They did the same thing then that is being done today. They rammed things through because the provincial Conservatives had a majority government, and the province was the worst for it.

"What the federal Conservatives are doing today is going to make Canada the worst for it as well. The pieces that are in that omnibus bill that do not have anything to do with the budget are things that really should be debated before us today. Let me mention the things that are missing.

"What is missing is a pension increase for those seniors living in poverty. The Conservatives decided to talk about getting rid of the environmental regulations, instead of increasing the GIS so that seniors could live in dignity and live without poverty. There was no mention of that.

"I would ask the hon. member to comment on what he sees is missing here that really should be a budget item instead of all the other bits that make it an omnibus bill. I have to say that in large part this is very much like a trip down memory lane for me because I have been here before with a Conservative government in the province of Ontario, and interestingly, who was the chief of staff to Premier Mike Harris who brought in the infamous omnibus bill 26? Guy Giorno, the same chief of staff to the current Prime Minister." (4)

"Mr. David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to comment on the bill. My colleague from Sault Ste. Marie is nodding his head. He remembers what went on when we had that bill. It was the same sort of thing. Bring in a bill that is meant to be one thing and then load it up with everything else that is problematic, that is going to involve a lot of debate, that is controversial and ideological. Just stuff it all in there and refuse to talk beyond the cover page. The government wanted it to go through. It was massive. It led to a major upheaval, which is putting it mildly, of our health care system. It brought in a massive review. It really set the stage for what became the dark years of the Harris regime in Ontario, years of governance which we are still trying to climb out of in terms of the damage that was done." (4)

And back to 1997:
"Oh, I heard all about it. I heard there was a lot of trouble because you didn't get Guy Giorno's permission to go on. That's what I heard Robert Fisher say, and you will recall that Robert Fisher was the person who asked the Premier during the 1995 campaign, in May, "Is your health care policy going to result in any hospitals being closed in Ontario?" The Premier said-you'll recall this quote yourself-"Certainly, Robert, I can guarantee you I will not close hospitals."

... "It is not my plan to close hospitals." That's what he said. I'm glad the Minister of Education brought that to my attention. I will repeat it again, because it was not word for word. He said, "Certainly, Robert, I can guarantee you it is not my plan to close hospitals." And what happened? We've had over 40 hospitals forced to merge or close in this province as a result.

"So what is happening now is we're seeing an erosion of many public institutions and many public services. It is the agenda of the right wing, and I note for my friends on the government side that either today or tomorrow the Premier of this province will be speaking to that mainstream, Main Street organization, the Fraser Institute, which of course is as right as Guy Giorno, who runs this government. We will have a situation with the right wing now where they're endeavouring to destroy the confidence in public institutions so that people will accept radical changes they wouldn't normally accept." (3)
This new omnibus bill of Guy Girono's will be just as devastating to this country as his Omnibus bill was to Ontario. Once again this most famous fallen Catholic since Lucifer, will put seniors into poverty and drive as many people from their homes as when he carried around Mike Harris' cardboard cut-out.

And should it be any surprise that he is now using threats and intimidation to get what he wants? This fire breathing mammal is stomping his feet and threatening to bring the wrath of his new cardboard cut-out upon the nation.

I'd say pray for Giorno, but that man no longer has a prayer, and if this omnibus bill passes, neither will we.

It's the end of Canada Post and our atomic energy will be sold. I need to repeat that. Our ATOMIC energy will be sold.


1. Ontario Legislative Assembly, Official Records for June 23, 1998

2. Ontario Legislative Assembly, Official Records for December 11, 1997

3. Ontario Legislative Assembly, Official Records for December 2, 1997

4. 40th Parliament, 3rd SESSION EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 055 Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stockwell Day: Flat Head, Flat Tax, Flat Out Wrong

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

The image to the left is of Stockwell Day, two years before he and Jason Kenney decided they would like to make him prime minister, to push a new constitution based on the Old Testament.

It is taken at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the group Jason Kenney left when he decided to run for the Reform Party, to help carry out the mandate of the Canadian Christian Coalition, and infiltrate all levels of government.

Mark Milke took his job but is now with the Frontier Centre, another prop for the Harper government.

These guys move in and out of these so called "non-partisan", "non-profit" backdrops so often, that they are never quite sure who will be giving them a pay cheque in any given week. Could be the Fraser Institute. Could be the Frontier Centre. Could be the Canadian Taxpayer Federation. Or it could even be Stephen Harper, which means us.

But back to the flat tax.

You can't read a bloody bio of Stockwell Day without someone singing his praises over coming up with this wonderful system of taxation. But if you read the caption under the photo upper right, it states. "Marke Milke meets with then Alberta Treasurer Stockwell Day to present a single rate tax proposal ... The proposal was adopted almost verbatim."

Not his. But is it Milke's? Nope. Not his either.

We have to go back to the history of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

It was the brainchild of Kevin Avram, after attending a conference in Austin, Texas where he met a representative of the “Association of Concerned Taxpayers” which was then headed up by Grover Norquist. The association was "established to promote a flat income tax..." And if you want to know who benefits by it, they get a lot of their funding from Exxon.

In 2005, Milkes wrote an article on the flat tax, something he's still flogging. In it he mentions:
Think back 20 years. Any suggestion that eastern and central Europe were desirable economic models came only from Western socialists, university professors and others with an eternal grudge against free markets. What a difference perestroika, McDonald's in Moscow, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact makes. "New Europe" moved on, saw the future, and decided not to include in it tax regimes that punish wealth creation. The region is now something of a darling for tax reformers.

In January, Romania scrapped its multiple-bracket system with marginal rates as high as 40% for a single 16% tax rate on personal and business income. Romania, once home to one of the most repressive communist regimes, was country number nine to jump on the flat-tax express. Existing riders include Estonia (first, in 1994), and Georgia (also in January), Latvia, Lithuania (wages and salaries only), Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. But it's not just Europe. Alberta added itself to this list when it switched to a single rate of provincial income tax in 2001. (1)
Fast forward to 2009:
Over the last decade, Eastern European countries became darlings of the far right by instituting free-market economic policies designed to break convincingly from their Communist past. The so-called Baltic Tigers—Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia—garnered worldwide plaudits for a number of free-market reforms, led by the imposition of a flat-rate income tax, especially from the American right. "The flat tax is making a comeback," trumpeted the conservative National Review. The three nations are "leading a global tax reform revolution," said the right-leaning Heritage Foundation.

... Too bad for them that it hasn't worked out. Latvia, which has a flat tax of 25 percent, and Lithuania and Estonia, which have 21 percent tax rates, are all in deep economic trouble. They all have huge government budget deficits, a sign that they took in too little in tax revenue to cover their costs, primarily state expenditures to provide a generous welfare state. Conservatives might argue that they didn't slash welfare benefits enough, but there is no dispute that the flat tax didn't provide the expected revenue. (2)
That's why the neocons love this system, because it gives them an excuse to "slash welfare benefits" .... again. And I don't mean corporate welfare ... bite your tongue (or a neocon will do it for you). Just the country's most vulnerable.

And if you still think there's a very slim chance that it might work, the tea baggers have added it to their battle cry.

So the biggest dream of any of these nut job Tea Party folks is a flat tax, of about 15%. That's the number I see most often as being a "fair" tax. So this idea is that everyone, no matter what they make (except those below the poverty line I assume) pays x% for my purposes I will use 15%.

... But where this "brilliant" idea falls flat on it's face is when you realize what is left over and what can be afforded with it. It turns out that this "fair and flat" tax actually turns out to be regressive, not in that it puts the burden of funding the government on the poor but those hurt most by it, are the lower income. So poor people have less money then wealthy people, this is obvious. Though they are not rich, they still have to live: buy food, pay for electricity and phone, pay for medical bills, and yes taxes.

Because these less fortunate people make less money, a greater percentage of there income goes towards those necessities. So what this means is that if the poor are paying the same as the rich, the hit being taken by them is still much greater then it is for the wealthy .. Now I know, these people are entitled to their wealth they worked hard... BLAH BLAH BLAH. But lets remember here so did the poor man, and yet they are the ones who suffer from taxes. The rich are the ones who most complain about taxes and yet many of them do not even pay. They shelter it in Swiss and Cayman bank accounts. (3)

The flat tax is a bad idea. But even if it were a good idea, the next time someone credits Stockwell Day with this initiative, set them straight. Or do what I do and scream.


1. New Europe's New Flat Taxes, By Mark Milke's , Financial Post, March 11, 2005

2. The Flat Tax Is Flat-Lining: The meltdown of Baltic countries shows what a bad idea this gimmick always was, By Charles P. Wallace, The Big Money, March 31, 2009

3. Why the Flat Tax is not so Flat, By Jake Nieman, Open Salon, April 21, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Implosions Help Jason Kenney's Christian Coalition to Explode

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

By 1996, Preston Manning was in trouble. The tight control he attempted to keep over his caucus was crumbling and the party was rife with dissent. Early party members who feared that extremism would prevail, were being proven to be correct, and yet absolutely nothing was being done to curtail it.

Manning's anti-government rhetoric that inspired Newt Gingrich, may have helped in his political success, but at some point you've got to prove that you can actually govern if given the opportunity. But instead the Reformers were only proving that the opposite was true.

Upon his retirement, Don Newman, former Senior Parliamentary Editor for CBC, was asked about the toxicity of politics today, and when it changed. Calling it the "politics of suspicion", he stated:

Of course, Parliament worked because elections in those periods also produced majority governments and sooner or later majority governments get their way. But it also worked because MPs made it function. They seemed to understand that they were there to get things done. That is not the case today ... The fraying was not — it might surprise some I'm sure — the fault of the Bloc Québécois who, while preaching their own view of both history and the future, always treated Parliament with respect. Rather it came from the Reform Party led by Preston Manning. (1)
His comments wouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone following politics then, including many of the early Reform Party members. They saw what was supposed to be a populist party turning into a totalitarian regime:
"Dissidents in the party ... openly claimed that the party was being run by a 'Calgary clique' "A lot of people are frustrated - we're seeing the inevitable erosion of grassroots politics into a smaller more domineering group at the top...' " One of the key members was thirty-two-year-old Stephen Harper, a founding member of the party, it's Chief Policy Officer, and the man who became known as Manning's chief political lieutenant. (2)
In fact he was challenged for the leadership in the beginning, because many feared that something like that would happen.

Manning left nothing to chance. He was determined to defeat his only opponent, Stan Roberts, who was not only more charismatic and eloquent but better known and better equipped financially. Reluctant to enter the race, Roberts was finally convinced by [Francis] Winspear that a leader-ship contest was necessary to ensure the legitimacy of the outcome. Roberts also was becoming increasingly concerned about the direction the fledgling party's supporters appeared to be taking, fearing it was becoming too extreme on both economic and social policies. He also was greatly concerned that the anti-French sentiment of some of the delegates in Vancouver was being given free rein. (3)
But a dirty trick would secure his leadership bid.
The hall was filled with his people when, nearly a day ahead of schedule, Manning urged the organizers — including the chair, staunch Manning supporter Diane Ablonczy — to cut off registration of delegates. When Francis Winspear took the floor to protest this action, moving a motion to reopen registration and noting many of Roberts's delegates had not yet arrived, he was soundly, defeated by the Manning forces. Astonished and shaken, Winspear left along with a furious Roberts, who later withdrew his name.

In an angry press conference the next day, Roberts not only accused the organizers, and implicitly Manning, of "compromising" the new party's commitment to "honesty and integrity," but also alluded to a significant sum of missing funds and accused Manning's supporters — almost all of whom were from Alberta — of being "a bunch of right-wing Christian fanatics." (3)
They were being referred to as "a bunch of right-wing Christian fanatics" even before the real fanatics joined them. A great deal is made over how the opposition is "anti-Christian", but accusations of religious fanaticism were more common within the party itself.

Enough was Enough
Preston Manning was having major troubles with his caucus ... The carefully orchestrated and near-absolute control of the party he had exercised for nearly ten years began to dissolve ... but his unsuccessful attempts to rein in his caucus were already widely known and ridiculed long before then. .. The conflicts with Stephen Harper were not the only problems Manning encountered with the leading lights of his caucus. For many of his critics, these conflicts were further proof of Manning's inability to tolerate dissent and his need to be the only one in charge. (4)
Harper would leave Reform before the next election to join the National Citizens Coalition. There has been a lot of speculation as to why. Did he feel he could do more to help the movement on the outside? The NCC spent a great deal of money advancing Reform during the 1997 election.

Or was it because of a battle for control with Preston Manning? I suppose it could be either. However, the final showdown came about when he went public with accusations that Preston Manning was abusing his expense account and the party sent him a four page letter (4) criticizing his actions. I suspect that was the trigger, because Stephen Harper never could stand criticism.

However, he wasn't the only one to exit stage left (or right?)

The cases of Jan Brown and Jim Silye were typical. Among the most progressive and cosmopolitan of the Reform MPs, they also became known for their ability to shine in Question Period. Both were urban moderates and excellent communicators who developed positive relationships with the media and, in the case of Brown, a degree of national name recognition. Both were often unhappy with the "racist redneck" element in their caucus, and endured much criticism from other caucus members for their continuing attempts to broaden the base of Reform policies.

By early 1996, Brown, Silye and Stephen Harper were all reportedly reconsidering their future with the party. When Art Hanger announced he was going on a "fact-finding mission" to Singapore to explore the use of caning and other forms of corporal punishment in the penal system, most Canadians were astonished and amused. Brown and Silye were humiliated, and said so publicly. "I don't want to be campaigning for caning and whipping," said Silye, a millionaire Calgary businessman and former Stampeders star. Brown, another Calgary MP and a corporate consultant with two degrees, agreed with Silye and suggested Reform would lose mainstream voters if it did not shake its extremist image. For their comments the two were raked over the coals at a lengthy caucus meeting in which one MP after another took the floor to lambaste the two, accusing them of betrayal ...

Brown left the three-hour meeting "ashen-faced," escorted by Rick Anderson past the waiting media and saying nothing at the time. Silye stayed to speak with reporters but broke down midway through his mea culpa, in which he apologized to his colleagues for hurting their feelings. Later, however, Brown indicated she did not plan to apologize and refused to be a scapegoat for the party's evident difficulties ... In the end this only delayed the inevitable. The split between the moderates and the rednecks was serious and apparently irreparable. (4)

Brown left the party, citing the rampant racism of the "God Squad" and stating that there was no room for women in this party. Eight others followed suit, all moderates, paving the way for new, even more radical members to take their place.

Jason Kenney and More So-Cons on Steroids

Barely two months later, during debate on the government's proposed amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act protecting homosexuals from discrimination*, the Reform caucus erupted again. When B.C. MP Bob Ringma** told reporters he would move gay or visible-minority employees to the back of the shop if they were costing him business, colleagues such as Dave Chatters, Leon Benoit and Myron Thompson agreed. In fact, Thompson went further, saying "If they were costing me business, I would remove them." Asked for her comments, Jan Brown replied, "I'm so saddened by this," while another moderate, Ian McClelland, suggested Ringma should apologize and promise not to say such things in the future.

Sensing the whole affair was getting completely out of control, Preston Manning decided to come down hard on the miscreants. His decision proved to be the final straw. Not only did he suspend Ringma and Chatters from the caucus for six weeks for their alleged deviation from party policy, but he dealt the same penalty to Brown for publicly criticizing her colleagues. Thompson and Benoit, meanwhile, were unaffected, as was MP Grant Hill, a doctor who said the bill "will produce and allow the promotion of an unhealthy lifestyle," a comment which drew immediate and public disapproval from another Reform MP and the only other doctor in the caucus, Keith Martin.*** (4)

It was this amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act protecting homosexuals from discrimination, that encouraged the formation of the Canada Family Action Coalition by Roy Beyer and Brian Rushfeldt, and the Canadian Christian Coalition, which included Jason Kenney. Both groups were inspired by a Washington Conference of their American counterpart, where the speaker was Ralph Reed.

And with so many new openings in the Reform Party, these motivated fundamentalists saw an opportunity to take control and join the other "extremists" from the "God Squad".

Jason Kenny himself took Jan Brown's seat. Rob Anders, whose nomination was brought forward by Hermina Dykxhoorn (5), president of the Alberta Federation of Women United for Families, an anti-women's rights group and affiliate of REAL Women of Canada, claimed Stephen Harper's.

Other hand selected social conservatives included Maurice Vellacott, Gerry Ritz and Jim Pankiw, who would later get into trouble after writing a letter to the president of the University of Saskatchewan condemning their affirmative action policies and comparing them to the KKK.
Following the Dec. 20, 1999 signing of an agreement between the U of S and the provincial government forming a partnership to work to increase the number of aboriginal people in the University’s workforce, Saskatoon-Humboldt Reform MP Jim Pankiw wrote a letter to U of S Pres. Peter MacKinnon and Saskatchewan Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Jack Hillson condemning the move. Pankiw said it smacked of racism and bigotry, and resembled the former segregationist policies of the southern United States. He said proponents of the agreement could be seen as "modern-day Klansmen". (6)
But besides the influx of fundamentalists, this was also a period that saw an enormous number of non-profit groups emerge, that would back up the agenda, including the Civitas Society. This group was founded by William Gairdner, early Reform Party member, and the hierarchy includes many other far-right Harper supporters: David Frum, former speechwriter of George W. Bush, Link Byfield, Ezra Levant and of course, Jason Kenney.

There was an attempt by some in the party to combat this infiltration of religious extremists, including Nancy Branscombe.
Nancy Branscombe was not successful as the Reform candidate for Peterborough during the 1997 federal election. In response to the CLC election questionnaire,he indicated that she considered herself to be pro-choice, did not oppose the sale and listing of the abortion drug RU-486 and supported legalized doctor-assisted suicide. During that election she was also the Reform party's organizer for 23 Ontario ridings and became known by the pro-life community for her intense social liberal views. Branscombe was one of the party chiefs who forced the removal of a reform candidate's campaign manager simply because the manager was pro-life. (7)
And when she attempted again in 2000, the so-con infrastructure was in place and they took immediate action:

An anonymously published pamphlet titled "Who is Nancy Branscombe?" was mailed to some Alliance members and handed out at the nomination meeting. Among other things the pamphlet claimed:

- "Nancy states she stands for strengthening the traditional family, yet she refers to herself as a feminist and openly supports the killing of unborn children".

- "Many members report that she has demoralized the riding association, manipulating the membership lists to ensure her control."

- "She has repeatedly dishonoured herself, the people she represents and her party with crude, off-colour comments".

In the end Branscombe lost the October 21 nomination by a wide margin of 970 to 555. (7)

These people are now in control and the late Stan Robert's predictions of "a bunch of right-wing Christian fanatics" taking over, have materialized.


*Stephen Harper voted against the motion and would later say that Bill C-38 to redefine marriage would prevent religious schools from firing gays and lesbians if it was discovered that they were in a same-sex marriage. (7)

**Ringma repeated his remarks at the next caucus meeting and received a standing ovation.

***Keith Martin is now a Liberal MP


1. Stephen Harper and the politics of suspicion, By Don Newman, CBC News, November 19, 2009

2. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, by Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 121-122

3. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 295-296

4. Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 318-319

5. Hold your fire, National Post Thursday, July 03, 2003

6. In response to Pankiw’s attack letter, Pres. says no Aboriginal hiring quotas". On Campus News. University of Saskatchewan. January 21, 2000.

7. CA Parachute Candidate Nancy Branscombe Severely Criticized, LifeSite News, November 9, 2000

8. Harper’s speech makes case for firing gay people … where does Conservative leader stand? Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, February 17, 2005

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Christian Coalition and Jason Kenney Help to Create So-Cons on Steroids

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

James Egan and John Norris Nesbit, were a gay couple who had been in a conjugal relationship since 1948. Their challenge to the courts over the definition of a spouse would pave the way for not only gay rights but equal marriage.

The Old Age Security Act in Canada, provides that a spouse of a pensioner may receive a spousal allowance should their combined income fall below a certain amount. So when Nesbit reached 65, fitting the definition, he applied to the Department of National Health and Welfare for a spousal allowance. However, he was refused on the basis that spouse, defined in section 2 of Old Age Security Act, did not include a member of the same sex.

So Egan and Nesbit delivered a motion for a declaration of unconstitutionality to the Federal Court of Canada alleging that the definition of "spouse" under the Old Age Security Act constituted an infringement of their right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law, entrenched in section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Though they were refused by the trial judge and their case was turned down for an appeal, they took the matter to the Supreme Court, who in 1995 agreed, and the two men were granted the supplement. (1)

As a result of this decision, the Canadian government amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to explicitly include sexual orientation as one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination.

This inclusion of sexual orientation in the Act was an express declaration by Parliament that gay and lesbian Canadians are entitled to "an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives they are able and wish to have..." (Section 2). The Canadian Human Rights Commission , which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Act, provides further information about human rights and sexual orientation. (2)
This decision angered many fundamentalist Christians, who feared that legitimizing same-sex marriage would be the next step. Two of them were Brian Rushfeldt and Roy Beyer, pastors of Victory church. Since neither were ordained ministers, they decided to take a correspondence course at Charles McVety's Canada Christian College, but the change in the Constitution to include gay rights, changed their priorities, and they decided to:

... drop everything and build a grassroots political force to demand the restoration of biblical principles to government. At Victory headquarters, their boss arranged for them to fly to Washington for a tutorial from the reigning expert on evangelical organizing, Ralph Reed, the Georgia wunderkind whom Pat Robertson had chosen to build the Christian Coalition. (3)
Also in attendance were Jason Kenney and Don Spratt, the man who would create the Canadian Christian Coalition, based on the techniques used by Reed.

Years earlier, Reed had confided to a reporter that stealth was essential* to his modus operandi. "I want to be invisible," he said. "I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night." Warming to the metaphor, he boasted, "You don't know it's over until you're in a body You don't know until election night." Nobody had paid much attention until 1994 when Reed realized that scenario on a national scale. The mainstream media woke up on election night to discover that the Christian Coalition had been instrumental in engineering a Republican takeover of both houses of Congress for the first time in forty-two years. (3)
Beyer and Rushfeldt were also inspired by Reed and they too started a Christian grassroots movement: the Canada Family Action Coalition.

Canada Family Action (CFA) was founded in early 1997 with a vision to see Christian principles applied in Canadian law, politics and society. We provide strategies, networking, training and tools to enable ordinary Canadians to influence government, education, media, and culture.

We work with individuals, churches, other like-minded groups, and businesses to provide a unified thrust in promoting the Christian worldview in government, the media and society. Presently we have over 40,000 individuals who are active supporters, plus hundreds of thousands of others who participate in various major campaigns through phone calls to MPs , petitions, brochure distribution and letters to editors of newspapers. Some even host meetings in their area on issues and invite speakers. Our Mission: To mobilize, train and activate Canadians in defending and promoting Christian principles in Canadian society. (4)

They immediately went into action, when Alberta premier Ralph Klein, called an election, and

... scrambled to put together a homegrown version of a tool that Reed had developed for churches, a political report card aimed at pinpointing acceptable social-conservative candidates without taking a partisan stand that would jeopardize their charitable tax status. Those voters' guides graded lawmakers on how they had cast their ballots on bills close to theo-con hearts. Beyer and Rushfeldt sent out their first edition to ninety thousand Alberta households in what turned out to be a dry run for the federal election that was called months later.

In a burst of enthusiasm, they ordered half a million copies of their new national guides, confident that evangelical corporate leaders would leap at the opportunity to underwrite such an innovative scheme, but Beyer came back from his first fundraising tour empty-handed. "Up here," Rushfeldt says, "the Christian community had bought into this idea that politics and religion don't mix." (3)
(The Canadian Christian Coalition fared much better for the Reform Party).

Jason Kenney and Don Spratt

Reproductive rights rights in Canada took a giant step backward in January when a provincial court judge gutted the British Columbia's government's new Access to Abortion Services Act, which had established protest-free "bubble zones" around abortion clinics and doctors' homes and offices. The ruling came at a time when the previously disorganized Religious Right in this province was congealing into a B.C. wing of the newly formed Christian Coalition of Canada, inspired by the politically influential Christian Coalition in the U.S. ... a formidable lobbying force in American politics, installing its anti-choice, anti-gay agenda and candidates at all levels of government, from school boards to Congress.

The B.C. chapter is headed up by Operation Rescue activist Don Spratt ... "Advisors" to the new CCC reportedly include Ted and Link Byfield (owners of the ultra-conservative B.C. Report and Alberta Report magazines), Jason Kenny (head of the Canadian Taxpayers Association), and Alex Parachin (head of the Christian Broadcasting Associates in Toronto, the Canadian branch plant of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network). (5)

As mentioned, Don Spratt was then the leader of Rescue Canada (also known as Operation Rescue), a position he held in "the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, for which he was repeatedly jailed for “contempt of court” for obeying God rather than man ... "(6)

His group fared better than Canada Family Action, perhaps because of the connections of people like Bill Vander Zalm, Jason Kenney and the Reform Party.

The Christian Coalition has established roots in British Columbia, Canada ... Bill Vander Zalm, a former British Columbia premier and one of the more than 20 directors ... announced that the group plans to distribute "voter guides" in churches around the province in any upcoming election.

Vander Zalm notes that the group is already organized in the Okanagan, the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. Vander Zalm has associated in the past with the right-wing Reform Party and the Family Coalition Party of B.C. The B.C. chapter formed after several dozen Canadians attended the fall 1995 Christian Coalition convention in the U.S.

Don Spratt, a member of Operation Rescue, leads the B.C. chapter. Other advisors to the group include Ted and Link Byfield of the right-wing Alberta Report and B.C. Report magazines, Alex Parachin, head of the Canadian branch of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network and Jason Kenny, head of the Canadian Taxpayers Association.

Jim Garrow, the Ontario-based leader of the Christian Coalition of Canada told reporters that the group will seek allies in organizations such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, REAL Women and the Canadian branch of James Dobson's Focus on the Family. (7)

They would build up such a network of think-tanks and non-profit groups, that I'm beginning to feel the way that Lucy did in the following clip. You start off slow, tracking the money and the players, and then they speed up the conveyor belt and you're stuffing names in your hat so they don't fall off your radar.

I'm going to do a list and the end of this chapter, of which, mostly faith-based groups, promoted which candidates for the 1997 election, as well as future ones; but it's pretty clear that this party has been taken over by the Religious Right. I don't think Stephen Harper could stop them now even if he wanted to.

So why should this matter? Well, as Canadian author and activist, Maude Barlow explains:

Sincerely held religious beliefs accompanied by strict morality are obviously not a bad thing, and any Church is entitled to make its own rules about who, for example, it will choose to marry under Church auspices. (Some may deplore a lack of tolerance for alternative lifestyles displayed by particular denominations, but the freedom of religion means that people are free to make such choices.) Civil rights are another matter. Increasingly, however, the sometimes narrow convictions of Christian sects are being exploited by politicians in both Canada and the, United States (where the tendency is highly developed) to introduce into the political realm a degree of inflexibility, passion, and rancour that tend to undermine the spirit of accommodation and tolerance that is essential to the functioning of a democratic society. Our civil liberties are threatened as a result. The point is that people are free to believe what they want privately, but if they enter politics to inflict those beliefs on others, then their religious concerns become fair game.

Intolerance for gays, passionate opposition to abortion and a handful of other "hot-button" issues are pushing a number of born-again Canadians to identity with the evangelical, right-wing views of American fundamentalist groups such as Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition, two of the groups that helped put George W Bush in the White House. (7)

Less than 11% of Canadians are evangelical, and of that probably less than half are of the extreme variety. Yet they now make up more than half of the Harper caucus. But what's worse, they have also been infiltrated into all levels of the public sphere, and are now in the courts, the senate and even the civil service.

If this government is in power much longer, the majority of Canadians risk losing their voice, and all decisions made will be contrary to Canadian beliefs and Canadian values.**

Next: Implosions Help Jason Kenney's Christian Coalition to Explode


*Stephen Harper would later also adopt Reed's strategy: "The state should take a more activist role in policing social norms and values ... 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 ... Movement towards the goal must be "incremental, so the public won't be spooked." Stephen Harper (8)

** "Westerners, but especially Albertans, founded the Reform/Alliance to get "in" to Canada. The rest of the country has responded by telling us in no uncertain terms that we do not share their 'Canadian values.' Fine. Let us build a society on Alberta values." Stephen Harper


1. Egan v. Canada, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513, May 25, 1995

2. Sexual Orientation and Human Rights, Canadian Heritage, Government of Canada

3. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, Pg. 69-70

4. Canada Family Action, Mission/Vision Statement, Accessed June 25, 2010

The Christian Coalition Comes to Canada, by Kim Goldberg, The Albion Monitor, May 5, 1996

6. For Truth, Life and Liberty,

7. Too Close for Comfort: Canada's Future Within Fortress North America, By Maude Barlow, McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 2005, ISBN: 0-7710-1088-5, Pg. 24

Harper, Bush Share Roots in Controversial Philosophy: Close advisers schooled in 'the noble lie' and 'regime change', By Donald Gutstein, The Tyee, November 29, 2005

Jason Kenney, Reformers and Republicans Continued

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

In 1993, the Reform Party had it's first big electoral success, winning 52 seats, all but one from the West, including the seat of Stephen Harper, with the help of a $50,000.00 campaign against his opponent and former boss, Jim Hawkes, paid for by the National Citizens Coalition.

The Reformers ran on a platform of anti-government, anti-Ottawa.

Having a clear critical dynamic, focused on the corrupt Ottawa establishment, was of the first importance to Reform's recent success. In this, as in so many other ways, this party has a similar focus to the United States Republican Party in its present mood ... Part of its appeal is to anti-Quebecois sentiment "let Quebec either secede", Reform says in effect, "or, preferably, stay in Canada but without any of the special privileges it seeks." Outside Quebec this message is extremely popular. It might be noted that Reform did not bother to run candidates in Quebec. (1)
Other policies that appealed to many in the West included:

- Giving over to the private sector as many functions as possible (including Petro Canada and Canada Post, for example). Government would manage any remaining publicly-funded enterprises, but not operate them. It would cut at least 25 per cent off subsidies to Crown corporations like the CBC.

- The government should have no role in job-creation apart from clearing obstacles for the private sector.

- "The treatment of every motion in most of our legislatures and Parliaments as confidence motions

- Giving voters the right to recall their MP if the MP fails to represent their views adequately. "So you don't trust politicians?", Manning asked during the campaign. "Here is our money-back guarantee: we'll put the power in your hands to fire your elected MP." Recall is the Party's single most popular policy plank, according to its direct-mail surveys, and certainly its most constitutionally radical, and one may expect it to be implemented should Reform win the next Canadian elections. As the Party says in its advertising literature, "Recall will obligate MPs to listen to their constituents between elections."
(This one was soon abandoned when his own party wanted to recall him)

- Cancelling government subsidies for special-interest groups.

- Pulling the government out of unemployment insurance, and letting employers and employees fund it themselves. This policy reflects that same concern shown by the Republicans for making people more responsible for themselves.

- In general, allowing each person to be the major provider of his or her own basic needs, including most social services and medicare. This means, in effect, that more social services should be user-pay, and that relatives and private charities should bear more of the welfare burden.

- Slashing immigration.

- Not giving any government seal of approval to homosexuals, abortion-on-demand, and political correctness generally. "Reform", Manning told one rally, "refuses, and continues to refuse, to be intimidated by the extremists of political correctness".

- Abolish the policy of official bilingualism. (1)

Throughout the campaign, which became increasingly an attack on Ottawa and the federal government, often making them just one Montana Freeman away from a stand-off, there were several people south of the border who were paying attention, including Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.
"Indeed, Canadians became exporters of neo-con innovation in the 1990s. 'I would say Margaret Thatcher and Mr. [Preston] Manning are the two non-Americans we learned most from'', said U.S. Republican House Speaker, Newt Gingrich in 1995.'I know him [Preston Manning] because I watched all of his commercials. We developed our platform from watching his campaign.' (2)
And using the techniques and talking points honed by Manning and the Reformers, Gingrich's team created their "Contract with America".
It is thus not difficult to understand why the Republicans, in the run-up to the mid-term elections of last November, made such a point of dissociating themselves from Washington and identifying instead with popular sentiment on such issues. The dividends of defining Washington as the source of false values are seen in the results of the elections, which gave the Republicans control of both the House and the Senate.

In the months preceding these elections, the House Republican leadership under the direction of Newt Gingrich developed their "Contract with America", a promise to introduce, in the first ninety days of a Republican-dominated House and Senate, a set of ten bills based on their careful reading of what a majority of Americans were signalling they wanted. (1)
And several of these bills were adopted right from Manning's play book, including: a "Personal Responsibility Act", drastic cuts to social programs and privatization of several services. And two men who helped to draft this "contract" were Grover Norquist and Frank Luntz.

Norquist, of course is the anti-tax guru who inspired the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Luntz is the Republican pollster who told Stephen Harper that the best way to get a majority was to stay on message about tax cuts and accountability, and talk hockey every chance he got.
"By February 1994, many Republicans ... were upbeat about their chances of doing well in the mid-term elections scheduled for November ... An optimistic group of members of the House of Representatives met in Salsbury, Maryland, to discuss their platform ..."Overwhelmingly male, middle-aged and white*, with a large contingent from rural and southern states, they could hardly have claimed to be representative of the American people, but they were certainly indicative of the constituency that elected them." (3)
They did win what Newt Gingrich called 'the most shattering one-sided Republican victory since 1946.'

No one disagreed with him. Certainly not Canada's Preston Manning, the leader of the like-minded Reform Party, which a year earlier had taken the fifty odd seats in the federal election. Not only had Manning visited Gingrich for a photo opportunity, but Gingrich now attributed his electoral success to techniques he had learned from Manning and his Reformers. (3)

But the Reform Party also paid attention to something that Gingrich had done:

In this election, the Republicans were closely in tune with prominent conservative media personalities like Rush Limbaugh, a no-holds-barred, technically brilliant and aggressively comic articulator of anti- Washington, anti-elite, pro-mainstream sentiment who appears nightly on national television, and Pat Buchanan, a Congressman and television and radio personality who takes the conservative side on the nightly verbal sparring match, "Crossfire".

More significantly, the Republicans tapped into the nation's religious heartland, gaining the overt support of the powerful Christian groupings which make up the Christian Coalition. The Coalition, while mainly evangelical, embraces a wide spectrum of the devout from Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, to prominent traditionalist Catholics. According to Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition's executive director, "One of every three voters was someone who attends church regularly, who is socially conservative"**. The Democrats, according to Reed, "badly miscalculated how to handle" this important segment of the electorate, and tried to "marginalize and stereotype these voters and their leaders". (1)

"Amoung these organized religion was clearly uppermost in Gingrich's mind. The role of the evangelicals in assuring Gingrich's victory was far greater than it had been for Reagan. As Rosalind Petchesky points out in an article on anti-feminism and the New Right, this heightened emphasis of moral conservatism in the American neo-conservative movement was unprecedented. It was also producing a situation in which the party's platform was being increasingly designed to meet the requirements of these supporters." (3)
Enter Jason Kenney, who the following year would attend a major convention of the U.S. Christian Coalition, then headed up by Ralph Reed who was hired by Pat Robertson. (4)
... Even more ominous for democratic rights ... is the recent hatching of the B.C. clone of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. With 1.7 million active members and a $25 million (US) annual budget, the U.S. organization has become a formidable lobbying force in American politics, installing its anti-choice, anti-gay agenda and candidates at all levels of government, from school boards to Congress. The B.C. chapter is headed up by Operation Rescue activist Don Spratt, and claims among its founding board members former B.C. Premier and ardent anti-choicer Bill Vander Zalm ... "Advisors" to the new CCC reportedly include Ted and Link Byfield (owners of the ultra-conservative B.C. Report and Alberta Report magazines), Jason Kenny (head of the Canadian Taxpayers Association) ... (5)
So by the time the next Canadian election rolled around, Jason Kenney and his gang were ready to "become a formidable lobbying force in [Canadian] politics, installing its anti-choice, anti-gay agenda and candidates.

That coming up next.


"... the notion that some Reform members may have strong Anglo-Saxon nativist inclinations is supported by more than merely the background profiles of its leaders, members and supporters. It is supported also by the words of many of its ideological mentors who depict Canada as not only historically an Anglo-Saxon country but also part of a wider Anglo-Saxon culture that is in need of recognizing and re-establishing its heritage." (5)

** Reform is a mass-base party (110,000 active members, 1993, and rapidly rising) of social conservatives led by an evangelical Christian, Preston Manning. (1)


1. Policy from the People:Recent Developments in the USA and Canada, By Philip Ayres, Proceedings of the Fifth Conference of The Samuel Griffith Society, April 2, 1995

2. Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, Pref. xiv-xv

3. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 36-37

4. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, Pg. 5

5. The Christian Coalition Comes to Canada, by Kim Goldberg, The Albion Monitor, May 5, 1996

6. Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison, University of Toronto Press, 1995. ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6, Pg. 170

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jason Kenney Helps to Unite Reformers and Republicans

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

When I read Marci McDonald's Armageddon Factor, I was surprised that she didn't have more on Jason Kenney. Her book was excellent and connected a lot of dots for me, but Kenny is just as involved with the Religious Right as Stockwell Day. In fact, maybe more so, especially to the American movement. And his beliefs are also just as troubling.

However, while researching another story I came across an old article from Australia, that directly ties the Reform Party and the Republican Party, and in a way that we all missed. I had already written about the close relationship between Preston Manning and Newt Gingrich, but this goes further and deeper, and involves Jason Kenney in a very big way.

I should have seen this before, but I had my light bulb moment this afternoon. So I went over all of my notes and skimmed some old postings, and it was all there. So I'm going to try and put everything in chronological order as best I can. I may have to do it in two or three parts. But it involves the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Christian Coalition and Grover Norquist. A strange combination indeed.

Association of Concerned Taxpayers

About 1987 Jason Kenney leaves St. Ignatius at the University of San Francisco, where he was schooled in far right, neoconservatism. He gains temporary employment with a Saskatchewan MPP, from his hometown of Wilcox, where his father ran a Catholic college.

In 1989, Brian Mulroney began discussing the implementation of the GST, which became a very hot button issue with Canadians. This prompted Saskatchewan resident, Kevin Avram, to start a kind of grass roots organization, to mobilize people against this new tax. (1)

So he attended a conference in Austin, Texas where he met a representative of the “Association of Concerned Taxpayers” which was then headed up by Grover Norquist. So he decided to set up a chapter in Canada, which he simply named the Association of Saskatchewan Taxpayers, which was incorporated on May 1, 1989. Jason Kenney was hired as Executive Director.

Meanwhile, a similar group had started in Alberta called Resolution One. I'm still hunting down information on them, but they may have been connected to Link Byfield. Though not a member of the Reform Party himself (his father Ted was a founding member), he drafted "Resolution One" for Preston Manning, which became the Reform Party's fiscal philosophy. (2)

Link was a founding member, along with Stephen Harper, of the Northern Foundation and is currently involved with the Wildrose Alliance Party. Resolution One became the Alberta Taxpayers Association and they joined with the Association of Saskatchewan Taxpayers to become the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and Jason Kenney was named CEO. Rob Anders also claims to have been involved with them at some time as well, according to his resume, when he first ran for public office.

I have a bit more information on the American Association of Concerned Taxpayers, as it relates to Stockwell Day (when he had big hair. Oye!), but I just wanted to follow along with Jason Kenney and Grover Norquist for now.

Norquist had worked for Ronald Reagan, setting up Americans for Tax Reform, as a "think-tank" to sell his tax cutting measures. It was such a success that he kept it going, with branches and affiliates right across the country, including AOCT, on which CTF was fashioned.

In 1988, Norquist was asked to work on the campaign of George H. Bush, and he advised him to stick to one simple message. It was the message that he had adopted for his own anti-tax outfits. Remember the famous "Read My Lips"? That was Grover Norquist.

Well Jason Kenney did all but tell people to read his lips, though Stephen Harper tried it out in 2008. But in 1995 when Kenney was touring Canada, he must have felt the invisible hand of Norquist brushing against his cheek.
"Before the 1995 Budget was brought down .... the CTF sponsored no fewer than eighteen protest rallies across the country whose theme was 'No New Taxes.' These rallies were also deliberately coordinated with others sponsored by the Reform Party and the National Citizens Coalition for maximum affect. "... any casual observer of the CTF's literature cannot fail to note the groups neo-conservative approach to the role of government in general. As well-known tax expert Neil Brooks has stated, the CTF's 'anti-tax rhetoric disguises a view that government should play a minimal role' ... David Perry of the Canadian Tax
Foundation ... notes that much of the group's anti-tax sentiment is based on ignorance of the actual situation in Canada .... a perception of reality, rather
than reality' .... "Many other tax experts ... have also pointed out that the benefits received from government in exchange for taxes have to be taken into account ... Kenney's response to this, however is instructive. 'We only look at taxes, not benefits'.. (3)
And in the same way that Americans for Tax Reform originally propped up Ronald Reagan, it was pretty clear that the CTF were doing the same thing for the Reform Party.
Public-Service union president Darryl Bean has called the CTF 'a front for the Reform Party,' and it is not difficult to understand the source of his accusations. Preston Manning has often been asked to address its anti-tax rallies. At one such event in Pickering Ontario in 1995, media accounts routinely reported some 3,500 Reform Party supporters in attendance, and Manning received a standing ovation. "... (3)
Now this was 1995, and in the fall of that year, Jason Kenney, along with dozens of Canadian conservative Christians thronged to Washington, DC, to attend a major convention of the U.S. Christian Coalition, (4) then headed up by Ralph Reed.
When Robertson's campaign flamed out, political analysts served up a new round of obituaries for the religious right, but once again, the reports of its death proved premature. Even as Robertson nursed a wounded ego, he was hatching his organizational revenge, hiring a fresh-faced young doctoral student named Ralph Reed to build a grass-roots evangelical network, focusing first on the takeover of school boards and town councils before ultimately commandeering the machinery of the Republican National Committee itself. That institutional coup took place almost entirely beneath the media's radar, and by the time it finally caught their attention, Reed's Christian Coalition controlled both houses of Congress and would later play a major role in putting George W. Bush in the White House, not once but twice. (5)
Jason Kenney and his gang came back to Canada with a new agenda. They were going to replicate the success of the Christian Coalition on home turf. In McDonald's book, Armageddon Factor, she states that this initiative was the brainchild of Roy Beyer and Brian Rushfeldt, but Jason kenney was involved in this as well.
... Even more ominous for democratic rights in [British Columbia] is the recent hatching of the B.C. clone of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. With 1.7 million active members and a $25 million (US) annual budget, the U.S. organization has become a formidable lobbying force in American politics, installing its anti-choice, anti-gay agenda and candidates at all levels of government, from school boards to Congress. The B.C. chapter is headed up by Operation Rescue activist Don Spratt, and claims among its founding board members former B.C. Premier and ardent anti-choicer Bill Vander Zalm ... "Advisors" to the new CCC reportedly include Ted and Link Byfield (owners of the ultra-conservative B.C. Report and Alberta Report magazines), Jason Kenny (head of the Canadian Taxpayers Association), and Alex Parachin (head of the Christian Broadcasting Associates in Toronto, the Canadian branch plant of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network). (4)
I'm going to leave it there for now. Most of what I have written here has been covered in other posts, but it's what happens next that is rather surprising, so I want to cover it separately. This just sets the stage.

The media missed this in the U.S. "and by the time it finally caught their attention, Reed's Christian Coalition controlled both houses of Congress" (5) ... this was missed in Canada as well, though one diligent reporter did try to sound the alarm.
While Don Spratt may be telling readers "Nobody has anything to fear from the Christian Coalition," progressive activists and journalists will have to make sure the electorate knows better. (4)
And yet they didn't.

Jason Kenney, Reformers and Republicans Continued


1. Kevin Avram, By Troy Lannigan, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

2. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, by Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 99

3. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 416-417

4. The Christian Coalition Comes to Canada, by Kim Goldberg, The Albion Monitor, May 5, 1996

5. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, Pg. 5

How Focus on the Family is Losing Their War Against Familes

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

For more than three decades, James Dobson and others like him have been touting the same message. Only nuclear families are legitimate and any other family structure is detrimental to children. As we see in the video, they cherry pick or distort legitimate studies to try to prove their point.

But as suggested, gay and lesbian parents have to work harder to have a family, so there are no "accidents". They are not as a rule "teen" parents and when they apply for adoption, as with any other applicants, must prove that they can provide a stable and loving home.

In his book the Rights Revolution, Michael Ignatieff discusses family issues:

What conservatives see as the collapse of the family, liberals view as its mutation into new forms. Nowadays, there are many types of good parents and many types of good families: nuclear, extended, single-parent, same-sex. The fact that there are many types of families does not mean that there are no longer any fixed standards about what a good family is. The test of goodness is loose but evident: it's a community where each member receives and displays lifelong moral concern for the well-being of everyone else .... an enduring moral commitment.

A child needs to feel that her development matters intensely to another person, and that this person will stay the course with her to ensure that she develops as best she can. What a liberal insists upon is the idea that it is possible to reconcile a commitment to absolute standards of care and responsibility in family life with a faith that these standards can be met by a wide variety of persons and a wide variety of possible family forms.

So-called family values, as propagated in the rhetoric of North American popular entertainment, pulpit sermonizing, and political homily, are a downright tyranny. They make people feel inadequate, ashamed, or guilty about their inability to conform to what is in fact a recent, post-war suburban norm of family domesticity. (1)

That's what defines a family, not it's structural makeup. By hammering the idea that a child can only develop properly with a married mother and father, risks making some children feel inadequate, not in the home but within society. Because what children of "family values" parents hear at home they will repeat on the schoolyard or playground.

Most Christians, whether on the left or the right, will agree that children are a gift from God, so why can't they accept that maybe he (or she) just chooses a variety of gift wrapping?

The results of a study on children raised by lesbian couples finds the opposite to what Dobson preaches:

A study that has been following children raised by lesbian parents for the past 24 years has concluded that not only are the children healthy, they’re generally smarter, nicer and better behaved than those raised by male-female couples.

The results of the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study were published today in Pediatrics magazine and found that “daughters and sons of lesbian mothers, all conceived through donor insemination, were rated higher than their peers in social, academic and overall competence, and lower in aggressive behaviour, rule-breaking and social problems, on standardised assessments of psychological adjustment”. While there have been many studies about the children of gay and lesbian parents, this is the first one to follow children from conception through adolescence. (2)

This doesn't mean that we should aspire to having all children be raised by two moms, only that it's OK for children to be raised by two moms, or two dads, or one mom or one dad, or any other combination. And to do that we need to redefine "family values".

We need family values all right, but the ones we actually need must be pluralistic. We need to understand that the essential moral needs of any child can be met by family arrangements that run the gamut from arranged marriages right through to same-sex parenting. Nature and natural instinct are poor guides in these matters. If good parenting were a matter of instinct, families wouldn't be the destructive institutions they so often are. It is frequently the case that perfect strangers turn out to be better parents or step-parents than natural ones.

... The point is not to invalidate one type of parent. Instead, it is to insist that ideology will not help us here: if we insist that one category or type of parent will always do a better job than any other, we are certain to be wrong. Same-sex parents have taught us that there is no necessary relationship between heterosexuality and good parenting. The question to be asked in every case is not what kind of sexual creatures these parents are, or even what kind of biological or other relationship they have to these children, but what kind of parents they are. The test of goodness here is the capacity for sustained moral concern and to be willing to make reasonable sacrifices for the sake of children's interests. (1)

Religion is being used and abused for financial and political gain. As such it has narrowed discourse to single issues, like abortion and same-sex marriage, instead of looking at the broader picture, and examining faith from a variety of concerns. E.J. Dionne, in his book Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right, states:

... reducing religion to politics or to a narrow set of public issues amounts to a great sellout of our traditions. It is common to speak of religion as "selling out" to secularism, or to modernity, or to a fashionable relativism. But there is a more immediate danger .. of religion selling out to political forces that use the votes of religious people for purposes having nothing to do with a religious agenda—and, often enough, for causes that may contradict the values such voters prize most. It is a great sellout of religion to insist that it has much to teach us about abortion or gay marriage but little useful to say about social justice, war and peace, the organization of our work lives, or our approach to providing for the old, the sick, and the desperate.

Religion becomes less relevant to public life when its role is marginalized to a predetermined list of "values issues," when its voice is silenced or softened on
the central problems facing our country and our government. (3)

The neoconservative movement that has tapped into religion, has been able to deflect attention away from the things we should be focusing on, including those mentioned above, but also on health care, education, poverty, homelessness, etc. This has worked to their advantage because those are all the things they really want to avoid having to deal with.

The religious right, left and everything in between, need to start working together on the things that really matter, and not allow the politicians who choose to exploit, or those in the lucrative "business" of selling faith, to set the agenda.


1. The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By Michael Ignatieff, Anansi Books, 2000, ISBN: 978=0-88784-762-2, Pg. 102-103

2. The Secret To Having The Perfect Child: Be A Lesbian, By Brian Moylan, The Defamer, June 8, 2010

3. Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right, By E.J. Dionne, Jr., Princeton University Press, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-691--13458--1. Pg. 3