Eduard Hiebert

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Elections are big business to big business! Democratic Alternative Viewpoints

Eduard Helps Democratize Local Election

Not only are elections big-business to big-business, where they earn the equivalent of several years of accumulated sponsorship scandal dollars within the period of a few short weeks, big business also stand to gain disproportionate advantage from and during Conservative and Liberal majority governments.

Within this cozy arrangement, it should therefore come as no surprise, (though that does not legitimize such behaviour) that the bigger businesses exercise their vested-self-interest interests by conducting with impunity their undemocratic "all candidate forums", forums that either do not include ALL the candidates, or if they do, do so with rules providing inside advantage to the majors.  And true to the jungle war mentality where there are "no unfair advantages in a competitive environment" particularly the Conservatives and Liberals conveniently stayed silent when in the face of the status quo, "silence means consent".

Yet despite being the lone honest voice consistently advocating universal democratic improvement, it was on more than one occasion, through the exercise of the moral authority even as a power of one, it was possible to democratize the election process.

It is therefore also with pleasure, that I raise my hat to the local community based newspapers, the Gwen Sector, John Black United Church and Glenn Rossang, for conducting all candidate forums that included ALL the candidates!

It was also a pleasure that two major planks of mine were endorsed at least in part by the major parties.  At the John Black forum, Terry Duguild cheered with heart-felt enthusiasm when I said the last election, would have produced more democratic results to his own benefit had we had the preferential ballot.  Yet surprisingly, though he freely said he liked and welcomed the proposal, he could not bring himself to say that he would work emphatically for its adoption.  And even though the former Alliance and PC parties would also have benefited by not splitting the vote in former elections, Joy Smith stayed noticeably silent even though the Conservatives claim they want to advance electoral reform.

Another highlight came at the West St. Paul forum when a farmer challenged Joy Smith for her leader Stephen Harper for wanting to be elected democratically, only to then undemocratically eliminate the democratically elected wheat board.  It was plain to see, she new little of the wheat board file, but stated in the context of the conservatives having free votes, she would ensure Harper came to Winnipeg to review the details of the file before any government steps would be taken.  Please click here for details of Harpers prior corporate-friendly citizen-unfriendly alliances to get rid of the wheat board.  Nor are the liberals clean on this file, please see several articles further below which show up the liberal's own double talk of supporting the board while pushing it towards privatization.

In this context I will now also raise that prior to the Manitoba Telephone System (MTS) being forcibly privatized by the Filmon Conservative Government, MTS was a publicly owned utility, one which was regulated by Manitobans through the Public Utility Board (PUB) process.  From 1986 until about 1997, I appeared numerous times before the PUB, as the spokesperson for CONECTS (Citizens Opposing Non-Equitable Charges for Telephone Services), effectively championing changes which MTS fought tooth and nail, like the modernization of MTS through the elimination of party lines (which opened the door for rural people to use answering machines, faxes and the internet) and the elimination of local-long-distance, so that no neighbour in Manitoba had to pay long-distance to call a neighbour.

Despite Manitoba being much less densely populated than many urban areas throughout North America and having to run wire over longer stretches between customers, MTS was still in the enviable position of providing service to every family and business who wanted a phone, (even Ma Bell did not have 100% penetration rates) with Manitoba still having, if not the lowest rate the next to lowest rates anywhere in North America.

I simply raise this factual base, as a point that refutes the foundationless big-business contention that government cannot run a businesses efficiently. Yes there are abuses that must be addressed, but nonetheless, hydro, the former MTS, the wheat board, or our road systems, our hospitals and school systems are all examples where we achieve higher standards of care and service at lower costs by owning these services collectively as a public service, than if delivered via privatized services.

Eduard Hiebert 

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Will you help stop Canada from promoting Terminator seeds at UN

URGENT - Last Chance - ACTION ALERT ­ Stop Terminator seeds
EMAIL the Canadian Delegation to the UN before January 25 2006

Will Canada lead new efforts to promote Terminator seeds at the UN meeting starting Monday January 23?

The Canadian government is expected, once again, to try to promote corporate Terminator seeds at a United Nations meeting next week in Spain.

The UN meeting will examine the impacts of Terminator on Indigenous peoples and farmers and Canada is expected to play down the negative effects of Terminator and push for acceptance of Terminator instead.

Though our government now publicly says that it does not promote Terminator, their actions show the exact opposite. In fact, Canada appears to be leading a campaign to push open the door to approval of Terminator, arguing that governments should have the option to approve Terminator seeds. The meeting next week of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Working Group on Article 8(j) in Granada, Spain January 23-27 could be used as another chance to push for suicide seeds.

Terminator/GURTs is a technology of genetic engineering that is designed by the multinational seed industry and the United States Department of Agriculture to render seeds sterile at harvest, thus preventing farmers from saving and re-using seed, forcing them to return to corporations to buy seed every season. This predatory strategy has been widely condemned by scientific bodies, international development experts, Indigenous peoples, and farmer and civil society organizations because it threatens livelihoods, food security, and agricultural biodiversity.

The UN responded to the threats posed by Terminator in 2000 with a "de facto" moratorium on Terminator.(1) Unfortunately, the moratorium is now under attack. Multinational seed corporations are increasing pressure to win acceptance for Terminator. Companies have new brochures promoting Terminator and are working at the UN to lobby for an end to the moratorium. There have even been new patents on Terminator awarded in Canada and Europe. An all-out international ban on GURTs is the only way to halt the corporate push for suicide seeds.

Terminator would interrupt Indigenous and farmer seed saving and seed exchange, and thereby have important impacts on the practice and retention of traditional knowledge that, in turn, supports food sovereignty, self-determination, cultural and spiritual practices, and the protection of biodiversity around the world.

Terminator is a biosafety hazard as Terminator seeds could be unintentionally introduced into communities through seed markets or humanitarian food aid. 

Terminator genes can also escape through pollen flow in the first generation, passing sterility genes to related (open pollinated) crops nearby. (see

MORE INFORMATION: For more information about the concerns of Indigenous peoples and the potential impacts of Terminator on traditional knowledge see


EMAIL the head the Canadian Government Delegation to the 8j UN Meeting -
Timothy J Hodges,
Associate Director,
Access and Benefit Sharing,
Environment Canada,
Biodiversity Convention Office,

Ask Canadian officials to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and farmers to save and breed seeds.

Ask Canada to acknowledge that the serious negative impacts of Terminator on traditional knowledge, Indigenous peoples and farmers in Canada and around the world require a ban on the technology.

Be sure to send your email by Wednesday January 25.

The International Ban Terminator Campaign was formed in May 2005 by civil society groups and movements in response to the threats posed by Terminator and the new corporate promotion of the technology. The Ban Terminator Campaign seeks to promote government bans on Terminator technology at the national and international levels, and supports the efforts of civil society, farmers, Indigenous peoples and social movements to campaign against it. The Campaign is supported by groups and movements across the world including AS-PTA (Assessoria e Serviços a Projectos em Agricultura Alternativa), ETC Group (Action group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration), GRAIN, Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, ITDG (Intermediate Technology Development Group), Pesticide Action Network - Asia and the Pacific, Third World Network, Via Campesina. 


(1) "de facto" moratorium: Convention on Biological Diversity, Agricultural biological diversity, Decision V/5, section III, paragraph 23: "Recommends that, in the current absence of reliable data on genetic use restriction technologies, without which there is an inadequate basis on which to assess their potential risks, and in accordance with the precautionary approach, products incorporating such technologies should not be approved by Parties for field testing until appropriate scientific data can justify such testing, and for commercial use until appropriate, authorized and strictly controlled scientific assessments with regard to, inter alia, their ecological and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health have been carried out in a transparent manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated. In order to enhance the capacity of all countries to address these issues, Parties should widely disseminate information on scientific assessments, including through the clearing-house mechanism, and share their expertise in this regard."

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Harper & Bush, two peas from the same pod

Linked by Leo Strauss
Close advisors schooled in 'the noble lie' and 'regime change'.
By Donald Gutstein
Published: November 29, 2005

What do close advisors to Stephen Harper and George W. Bush have in common? They reflect the disturbing teachings of Leo Strauss, the German-Jewish émigré who spawned the neoconservative movement. 

Strauss, who died in 1973, believed in the inherent inequality of humanity. Most people, he famously taught, are too stupid to make informed decisions about their political affairs. Elite philosophers must decide on affairs of state for us.

In Washington, Straussians exert powerful influence from within the inner circle of the White House. In Canada, they roost, for now, in the so-called Calgary School, guiding Harper in framing his election strategies. What preoccupies Straussians in both places is the question of "regime change." 

Strauss defined a regime as a set of governing ideas, institutions and traditions. The neoconservatives in the Bush administration, who secretly conspired to make the invasion of Iraq a certainty, had a precise plan for regime change. They weren't out to merely replace Saddam with an American puppet. They planned to make the system more like the U.S., with an electoral process that can be manipulated by the elites, corporate control over the levers of power and socially conservative values.

Usually regime change is imposed on a country from outside through violent means, such as invasion. On occasion, it occurs within a country through civil war. After the American Civil War, a new regime was imposed on the Deep South by the North, although the old regime was never entirely replaced.

Is regime change possible through the electoral process? It's happening in the U.S., where the neocons are succeeding in transforming the American state from a liberal democracy into a corporatist, theocratic regime. As Canada readies for a federal election, the question must be asked: Are we next?

The 'noble lie'

Strauss believed that allowing citizens to govern themselves will lead, inevitably, to terror and tyranny, as the Weimar Republic succumbed to the Nazis in the 1930s. A ruling elite of political philosophers must make those decisions because it is the only group smart enough. It must resort to deception -- Strauss's "noble lie" -- to protect citizens from themselves. The elite must hide the truth from the public by writing in code. "Using metaphors and cryptic language," philosophers communicated one message for the elite, and another message for "the unsophisticated general population," philosopher Jeet Heer recently wrote in the Globe and Mail. "For Strauss, the art of concealment and secrecy was among the greatest legacies of antiquity."

The recent outing of star New York Times reporter Judith Miller reveals how today's neocons use the media to conceal the truth from the public. For Straussians, telling Americans that Saddam didn't have WMD's and had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda, but that we needed to take him out for geopolitical and ideological reasons you can't comprehend, was a non-starter. The people wouldn't get it. Time for a whopper.

Miller was responsible for pushing into the Times the key neocon lie that Saddam was busy stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. This deception helped build support among Americans for the invasion of Iraq. Miller was no independent journalist seeking the truth nor a victim of neocon duplicity, as she claimed. She worked closely with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff and responsible for coordinating Iraq intelligence and communication strategy. Libby is a Straussian who studied under Paul Wolfowitz, now head of the World Bank, and before that, deputy secretary of defense, where he led the 'Invade Iraq" lobby. Wolfowitz studied under Strauss and Allan Bloom, Strauss's most famous student.

Miller cultivated close links to the neocons in the administration and at the American Enterprise Institute, the leading Washington-based neocon think tank. AEI played the key role outside government in fabricating intelligence to make the case for invading Iraq. Straussian Richard Perle, who chaired the Defence Policy Board Advisory Committee until he was kicked off because of a conflict of interest, is a senior fellow at AEI and coordinated its efforts. Miller co-wrote a book on the Middle East with an AEI scholar. Rather than being a victim of government manipulation, Miller was a conduit between the neocons and the American public. As a result of her reporting, many Americans came to believe that Saddam had the weapons. War and regime change followed. 

'Regime change' in Canada

As in the U.S., regime change became a Canadian media darling. Before 9-11, the phrase appeared in Canadian newspapers less than ten times a year. It usually referred to changes in leadership of a political party or as part of the phrase "regulatory regime change." Less than a week after 9-11, the phrase began to be used in its Straussian sense, as if a scenario was being choreographed.

From 19 mentions in Canadian newspapers in 2001, regime change soared to 790 mentions in 2002 and 1334 mentions in 2003. With the Iraq invasion accomplished that year, usage tailed off in 2004 (291 mentions) and in 2005 (208 mentions to November 10).

There's one big difference between American and Canadian Straussians. The Americans assumed positions of power and influence in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The Canadians have not had much opportunity to show (or is that hide?) their stuff. That may change with a Harper victory.

Paul Wolfowitz's teacher, Allan Bloom, and another Straussian, Walter Berns, taught at the University of Toronto during the 1970s. They left their teaching posts at Cornell University because they couldn't stomach the student radicalism of the '60s. At Toronto, they influenced an entire generation of political scientists, who fanned out to universities across the country.

Two of their students, Ted Morton and Rainer Knopff, went to the University of Calgary where they specialize in attacking the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They claim the charter is the result of a conspiracy foisted on the Canadian people by "special interests." These nasty people are feminists, gays and lesbians, the poor, prisoners and refugee-rights groups who are advancing their own interests through the courts at the expense of the general public, these Straussians allege.

The problem with their analysis is that the special interest which makes more use of the courts to advance its interests than all these other groups combined -- business -- receives not a mention. Deception by omission is a common Straussian technique. The weak are targeted while the real culprits disappear.

Harper's mentors

Harper studied under the neocons at the University of Calgary and worked with them to craft policies for the fledgling Reform Party in the late 1980s. Together with Preston Manning, they created an oxymoron, a populist party backed by business.

Ted Morton has turned his attention to provincial politics. He's an elected MLA and a candidate to succeed Premier Ralph Klein. But he did influence the direction of right-wing politics at the federal level as the Canadian Alliance director of research under Stockwell Day.

When Harper threw his hat in the ring for the leadership of the Alliance, Tom Flanagan, the Calgary School's informal leader, became his closest adviser. Harper and Flanagan, whose scholarship focuses on attacking aboriginal rights, entered a four-year writing partnership and together studied the works of government-hater Friedrich Hayek. Flanagan ran the 2004 Conservative election campaign and is pulling the strings as the country readies for the election.

Political philosopher Shadia Drury is an expert on Strauss, though not a follower. She was a member of Calgary's political science department for more than two decades, frequently locking horns with her conservative colleagues before leaving in 2003 for the University of Regina.

Strauss recommended harnessing the simplistic platitudes of populism to galvanize mass support for measures that would, in fact, restrict rights. Does the Calgary School resort to such deceitful tactics? Drury believes so. Such thinking represents "a huge contempt for democracy," she told the Globe and Mail's John Ibbotson. The 2004 federal election campaign run by Flanagan was "the greatest stealth campaign we have ever seen," she said, "run by radical populists hiding behind the cloak of rhetorical moderation." 

Straus and 'Western alienation'

The Calgary School has successfully hidden its program beneath the complaint of western alienation. "If we've done anything, we've provided legitimacy for what was the Western view of the country," Calgary Schooler Barry Cooper told journalist Marci McDonald in her important Walrus article. "We've given intelligibility and coherence to a way of looking at it that's outside the St. Lawrence Valley mentality." This is sheer Straussian deception. On the surface, it's easy to understand Cooper's complaint and the Calgary School's mission. But the message says something very different to those in the know. For 'St. Lawrence Valley mentality,' they read 'the Ottawa-based modern liberal state,' with all the negative baggage it carries for Straussians. And for 'Western view,' they read 'the right-wing attack on democracy.' We've provided legitimacy for the radical-right attack on the Canadian democratic state, Cooper is really saying.

A network is already in place to assist Harper in foisting his radical agenda on the Canadian people.

In 2003, he delivered an important address to a group called Civitas. This secretive organization, which has no web site and leaves little paper or electronic trail, is a network of Canadian neoconservative and libertarian academics, politicians, journalists and think tank propagandists.

Harper's adviser Tom Flanagan is an active member. Conservative MP Jason Kenney is a member, as are Brian Lee Crowley, head of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and Michel Kelly-Gagnon of the Montreal Economic Institute, the second and third most important right-wing think tanks after the Fraser Institute.

Civitas is top-heavy with journalists to promote the cause. Lorne Gunter of the National Post is president. Members include Janet Jackson (Calgary Sun) and Danielle Smith (Calgary Herald). Journalists Colby Cosh, William Watson and Andrew Coyne (all National Post) have made presentations to Civitas.

The Globe and Mail's Marcus Gee is not mentioned in relation to Civitas but might as well be a member, if his recent column titled "George Bush is not a liar," is any evidence. In it, Gee repeats the lies the Bush neocons are furiously disseminating to persuade the people that Bush is not a liar.

Neo-con to Theo-con

The speech Harper gave to Civitas was the source of the charge made by the Liberals during the 2004 election -- sure to be revived in the next election -- that Harper has a scary, secret agenda. Harper urged a return to social conservatism and social values, to change gears from neocon to theocon, in The Report's Ted Byfield's apt but worrisome phrase, echoing visions of a future not unlike that painted in Margaret Atwood's dystopian work, A Handmaid's Tale.

The state should take a more activist role in policing social norms and values, Harper told the assembled conservatives. To achieve this goal, social and economic conservatives must reunite as they have in the U.S., where evangelical Christians and business rule in an unholy alliance. Red Tories must be jettisoned from the party, he said, and alliances forged with ethnic and immigrant communities who currently vote Liberal but espouse traditional family values. This was the successful strategy counselled by the neocons under Ronald Reagan to pull conservative Democrats into the Republican tent.

Movement towards the goal must be "incremental," he said, so the public won't be spooked.

Regime change, one step at a time.

Donald Gutstein, a senior lecturer in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, writes a regular media column for The Tyee.

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Applying the "pecking order" test to Martin's record

Paul Martin: He has a record

There are still doubters - those who want to believe that Martin, in his heart, is his father's son. (Paul Martin Sr. was a left-Liberal cabinet minister in the 1960s and a dogged advocate of medicare.)

by Murray Dobbin
January 20, 2006

How do you judge a politician's promises?

It depends, in part, on whether or not they have a record to go by. Of course, that's not absolutely necessary - you can judge Stephen Harper by what he has said for nearly 20 years about what his core beliefs are. Many of his policies this time around fundamentally contradict everything he has ever said. Score zero for the credibility of his promises.

But Paul Martin is even easier. He has a real and very extensive record - which the media, to their shame, is not interested in any more. If you want to know what a prime minister would really like to do, take a look at what they did when they had no restrictions on their power. Judging Martin on the recent minority government doesn't count - he was trying to stay in power and had to please the NDP (and the public) with at least some progressive policies.

No, much better to look at what he did as finance minister from 1993- 2002.  Martin was for those nine long years the de facto prime minister of the country. Jean Chrétien wasn't interested in policy or governing. He was a politician who saw his job as maintaining the Liberals in power. He gave virtual carte blanche to Martin to determine the direction of the government. While this was disastrous for the country, it does give us a crystal clear view of what the man is really all about.

The Martin myth

Conventional wisdom tells us that Paul Martin's place in history, so far, is most notable for his getting rid of the deficit. Our image: he spent most of his time as finance minister slaying the "deficit dragon." But in fact, no finance minister in Canadian history had ever been blessed with so many large and uninterrupted budget surpluses: six to be exact, between 1997 and 2002 when he was fired. The only deficits Martin faced were in his first two full years - 1994-95 and 1995-96.

Another persistent myth is that it was Martin's huge budget cuts from 1995-97 that killed the deficit. In fact, those cuts (they represented a 40 per cent reduction in federal social program money, compared to Mulroney's 25 per cent cut) almost brought the economy to a halt. A study by CIBC-Wood Gundy concluded that Martin's cuts reduce  economic growth in Canada by a huge 3.5 percentage points through 1994-1996. The resulting loss in tax revenue almost eliminated the savings gained by making the spending cuts.

The cuts combined with the zero inflation policy of the Bank of Canada to create a recession lasting much of the 1990s. Pierre Fortin, former President of the Canadian Economics Association, put the cost of the cumulative unemployment caused by the cuts and high interest rate policy at ".about $400 billion in foregone national income" - equal to 30 per cent of the losses in the Great Depression.

When the Bank of Canada realized in 1997 that its high interest rate policy was helping cause a growing recession it eased up. The result? A huge burst of economic growth - and a huge increase in government revenue. According to CAW economist Jim Stanford, had Martin simply frozen spending at 1994 levels, and eased interest rates, economic growth would have eliminated the deficit anyway - just two years later. Without all the pain.

There is little doubt that Martin and his deputy minister, David Dodge (now running the Bank of Canada) knew this. How do we know? Because Paul Martin told us, in his February 27, 1995 budget speech in Parliament. He did not boast about "slaying the deficit." He boasted about cutting back the role of government to levels not seen since 1951.

He proclaimed that he intended to "redesign the very role and structure of government itself. Indeed, as far as we are concerned, it is . the very redefinition of government itself that is the main achievement of this budget." Announcing over $25 billion in spending cuts over three years, he boasted: "Relative to the size of our economy, program spending will be lower in 1996-97 than at any time since 1951."

Martin's mandate and power went far beyond that of any contemporary finance minister and his cuts reflected his conservative commitment to restructure government. The most significant change was the elimination of the country's core nation building legislation: Established Program Funding, which targeted federal dollars to post-secondary education and health care, and the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP), which gave Ottawa influence over provincial social welfare schemes.

More than any other programs, these represented a generation of federal leadership in social programs and nation building. Martin replaced them with the Canada Health and Social Transfer - a lump sum the provinces could spend as they pleased. It was radical decentralization. 

But he didn't stop there. The other departments key to nation-building - natural resources, agriculture, the environment, fisheries, regional and industrial development - saw huge and disproportionate cuts of 50-60 per cent.

Canada's economic policy? A singular commitment to an "aggressive trade strategy." Part of that was a commitment to a "flexible labour" policy. Martin's additional cuts to unemployment insurance and his elimination of the CAP, accompanied by zero inflation targets, produced unemployment levels of over nine per cent for most of the decade. While workers in the U.S. saw a cumulative wage increase of 14 per cent in the 1990s, Canadian workers stood still, all in the aid of making us "competitive" with the U.S.

The surplus shuffle

There are still doubters - those who want to believe that Martin, in his heart, is his father's son. (Paul Martin Sr. was a left-Liberal cabinet minister in the 1960s and a dogged advocate of medicare.) If Martin had wanted to live up to his father's image he had the authority, he had Chrétien's blessing and, most importantly, he had the money. But instead of spending it - and keeping his promise of re-investment in social programs - he cynically and deliberately covered up his repeated surpluses.

Between the years 1999 and 2002, Martin underestimated the accumulated surpluses by over $36 billion (and spent it on the debt). This was one and a half times the size of his 1995-97 cuts. Other economists were consistently making more accurate estimates, including the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, whose cumulative estimates were out by less than one billion. 

The surpluses were so enormous that, by 2000, Martin could no longer simply hide them. So he cut taxes by $100-billion over five years (77 per cent of the personal benefits going to the wealthiest eight per cent of the population). Billions also went to Canada's largest corporations. This was at a time when tax cuts were nowhere on the list of Canadians' priorities. But Martin - loathe to undo the historic work of his 1995 budget - had to get rid of the money somehow.

So who was Martin listening to, if not the ghost of his father? He was listening to the master of Bay Street, Tom d'Aquino, the head of the Business Council on National Issues. In mid-1994, d'Aquino presented the new finance minister with a 10-point program for "restructuring" the country. By the time of his unprecedented tax cuts in 2000, Martin had delivered on almost every one of the demands of big business.

Promises made. Promises broken.

In looking back on all of this there looms the question of election promises. If Paul Martin had pledged all these things, and Canadians voted for them - shame on them. But the 1993 federal election was dominated by a book of progressive promises. The Liberal Red Book - full of social democratic policies, a huge section on environmental policy, and a promise to promote economic growth to defeat the deficit - dominated the 1993 election like no election platform document ever had before. It was everywhere - waved in the air every time Chrétien appeared on television.

The importance of the Red Book was twofold: it provided a genuine vision of the country and it put in writing what the government was going to do. Within two years virtually every promise was broken. But within months, Martin had already rejected its prescriptions. "Screw the Red Book," he admonished bureaucrats who still thought it was Liberal policy. "Don't tell me what's in the Red Book. I wrote the goddamned thing. And I know that it's a lot of crap."

So, did his experience with making false promises have a salutary effect on Paul Martin? Did it make him reluctant to make promises again - promises he knew he would break? Not for a minute. He was back at it in his acceptance speech at the leadership convention where he became Liberal leader and prime minister.

A more grotesquely hypocritical speech could hardly be imagined. Amongst his declarations were these: "...Canadian people and its [sic] leaders created the modern social foundations of Canadian life - our pension and universal health care systems. Foundations which Canadians hold as cornerstones of our national identity, our pride and our values." A foundation that Martin ruthlessly attacked.

He went on to say that his challenge is to "...rally the nation to its unfulfilled promise: To build a society based on equality, not privilege; on duty, not entitlement. A society based on compassion and caring; not indifference or neglect." And then: "We know quality of life when we see people working, with dignity, with good pay, with the opportunity to move ahead."

Perhaps as disturbing as Martin's hypocrisy is the sense one gets that he isn't even conscious of what he is doing. It goes back to the fact that Paul Martin was, for years, a CEO and never really escaped that persona or mode of operating. A CEO cannot afford to take account of his personal values or concern over consequences - everything is about the bottom line.

Canadian philosopher Ursula Franklin has a phrase for this kind of behaviour: moral dyslexia. "Unfortunately, unlike those with learning disabilities, who need and appreciate help, those who have moral disabilities don't come to us for help. ...Most of them are morally disabled by their own choice."

It did not take long for that moral dyslexia to show up. Convinced that his coronation as Liberal leader would also deliver him ten years of majority government, in December, 2003, newly minted Prime Minister Martin appointed the most right wing cabinet in almost 30 years. In areas of defence, foreign affairs, trade and finance, he out-did even Brian Mulroney as he prepared to finish the job he had started in finance.

He picked former Tory Scott Brison (right wing economically and proudly pro-America) as parliamentary secretary for Canada-U.S. relations. He appointed a legislative secretary, John Mckay, to be in charge of privatizing government services - through public private partnerships. There was not a single powerful voice in any post dealing with social issues - and almost no mention of such issues in the throne speech.

Bay Street was giddy

Then came auditor general Sheila Fraser and the 2004 election, dominated by the sponsorship scandal. And the minority government with the NDP - almost - holding the balance of power. Paul Martin, once again, became his father's son. Not because he wanted to but because he had to.

Reality check

The following quotes are selected from the Liberal Party's election web site. Judge for yourself where they should place on the shameless hypocrisy scale...

1) "[W]hen the time comes to vote on legislation to invest in regional development, well, [Mr. Duceppe] votes against that..He talks about social housing..but when the time comes to vote in the House, well, he voted against social housing here in Montreal."

Reality check: Paul Martin completely eliminated the social housing budget in 1995, making Canada the only developed country without such a program.

2)"I don't believe that Canada was built on American conservative values. It was built on compassion, on generosity, on sharing and understanding,"

Reality check: All of those values were fundamentally, and glaringly, absent from nine Martin budgets.

3) "We as Liberals have always been committed to supporting families, and that means support for all Canadian families. For many Canadian families with immediate relatives overseas, one of the challenges that they have faced is the $975 right of permanent residence fee. We're going to eliminate that fee, over the course of our mandate."

Reality check: Paul Martin brought in the immigrant head tax in his 1995 budget and immigrant communities have been asking ever since to have it removed.

4) "Canadian families have a right to a health care system that puts their needs first. They have a right to quality care in a timely manner by ensuring that critical wait times are reduced. They have a right to a health care system that is accountable to them. Above all, they have a right to care based on need, not ability to pay."

Reality check: Paul Martin cut federal health (and other) transfers by 40 per cent - outdoing the hated Brian Mulroney (25 per cent). He eliminated legislation that ensured provinces spent those dollars on health care and then refused to enforce the Canada Health Act's banning of private care.

5) "I believe in a robust federalism, one in which governments work hard, together, to prepare our citizens and our country for the exciting opportunities - and real challenges - that lie ahead." 

Reality check: Paul Martin as finance minister moved further than any other post-war prime minister to decentralize the country - repealing laws that forced provinces to spend transfers on health and education and legislation that gave Ottawa influence over welfare policy.

6) "Together we can ensure that the automobile industry in Canada that has been a source of strength, innovation and pride will continue to thrive in cities like Windsor for many generations to come."

Reality Check: Paul Martin's aggressive pursuit of trade liberalization contributed to an embarrassing loss at the WTO: the Auto Pact was declared in violation of the WTO. Now his government is handing out $900 million to bribe the companies to stay.

7) "This is about making affordable child care a permanent addition to our social foundation. It's about making clear that this program is here to stay - because it's right for Canadian families, and it's what's right for our children."

Reality check: You can thank Canadian voters for this one - they didn't give Martin a majority. He promised child care in every election since 1993 - and every time the Liberals won, they reneged.

8) "The greatest investment a government can make in any region is in economic self-reliance - and that's why the Liberal government believes regional development agencies, like the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and others across this country, are so important."

Reality check: Martin gutted the industrial and regional development departments and their agencies in 1995 - cutting them by nearly 60 per cent. 

9 ) "The Liberal government was committed to accepting the Convention [on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions] before the end of the year and today we met that commitment. ... Every culture must have the means to promote its ideas, its values, its perspectives on the world, and its hopes. The Convention will allow us to do that."

Reality check: It was Liberal Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, Martin's cabinet colleague, who led the fight for this convention. Paul Martin opposed her efforts in cabinet and when he became prime minister he threw her out of his government and engineered her nomination defeat.

Murray Dobbin is a Vancouver journalist. His latest book is Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?

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66 Economists Deplore Harper's Tax Cuts

NEWS RELEASE: January 18, 2006


Warn that failure to tax income trusts, dividends and capital gains will generate huge deficit in social services, while inequality grows

(Toronto)  -- Sixty six economists have signed a statement warning that the tax breaks being offered by the major parties will leave a huge deficit in social services and contribute to greater inequality in Canada.

The group endorsed the Call to Action issued by the Vote for a Change Campaign, which represents over twenty major organizations including the Anglican Church, the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Labour Congress.

"By failing to tax income trusts, reducing the tax on dividends, and virtually eliminating the tax on capital gains, Martin and Harper have rewarded the wealthy and punished the poor” says David Langille of the Centre for Social Justice.  “It means taking money from needy Canadians – money that could have been spent improving our health system, making education more accessible, renewing our crumbling infrastructure, or reducing poverty in Canada and around the world.”

“These measures will lead to stark and growing inequalities of income and wealth  in Canada. Even the US under Bush has a federal estate inheritance tax to reduce inequalities between generations,” adds Toby Sanger, an economist with the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

"The Conservative Party’s proposal to eliminate income taxes on reinvested capital gains is especially damaging, because it would deliver very large tax savings to a tiny group of high-income Canadians," said Jim Stanford, economist with the Canadian Auto Workers.  “Moreover, defining, monitoring, and policing the six-month reinvestment requirement would create an administrative nightmare for the federal government."

The economists estimate the annual cost to Ottawa of the proposed tax cut would be close to $2 billion, many times higher than the figure contained in the Conservative Party’s official plan (which listed the measure as costing only $750 million over 5 years).

“The Conservatives have underestimated the true cost of this measure by a significant order of magnitude,” said John Loxley, Professor of Economics  at the University of Manitoba.  “This raises significant questions about the reliability of their overall fiscal plan.  The uncounted costs associated with  this measure alone would reduce estimated federal surpluses by several billions of dollars over the term of the next government.”

Another negative feature of the proposal is the extent to which its benefits would be received by a very concentrated group of very high-income Canadians. “There is no other tax measure whose benefits are more closely at the top of the income spectrum,” said Andrew Jackson, Economist and National Director of Social and Economic Policy for the Canadian Labour Congress. “Over 40 percent of taxable capital gains income is declared by the tiny fraction of Canadians who earn over $250,000 per year. They are the ones who will reap the benefits of this policy, which would greatly exacerbate inequality in Canada.”

The Call to Action had already been endorsed by other prominent Canadians, including Maude Barlow, Ed Broadbent, June Callwood, Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein and Linda McQuaig.  They believe the federal government is failing to meet its national responsibilities. According to their statement, it is not doing enough to provide affordable housing, health care, education, and protection for children and seniors. And it is failing to keep its promises to the world on issues like climate change and international aid.

The campaign is calling on Canada’s next government to:

  • Improve public health care for everyone not just those who can afford it.
  • Keep Canada's promise to the world on climate change, instead of just talking about it.
  • Meet our obligations to the U.N. on aid and making poverty history.
  • Remove barriers to new Canadians in our communities and workplaces.
  • Keep post-secondary education accessible to lower and middle income students.

“We want Canadians to vote for candidates and parties that reflect these priorities”,  said David Langille, Director of the Centre for Social Justice. “They can help set the agenda for the new government in Ottawa. We'll make sure that every candidate gets the message that we are voting for social justice, not tax cuts.”

Vote for a Change campaign partners include: Anglican Church of Canada, Campaign 2000, Campaign Against Child Poverty, Canadian AIDS Society, Canadian Association of Food Banks, Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian Child Care Advocacy Association, Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Centre for Social Justice, Communications Energy and Paperworker's Union, Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, Council of Canadians, Disabled Women's Network Ontario, Kairos, National Anti-Poverty Organization, National Association of Women and the Law, Ontario Coalition for Social Justice,  Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving  Immigrants, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Toronto and York Region Labour Council, Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care, Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, United Church of Canada, Urban Alliance on Race Relations

The initiative was coordinated by the Centre for Social Justice in Toronto.

The full listing of participating economists, and the full text of the statement  they signed, is provided at

For further information please contact:
David Langille, Director,
416-927-0777, 416-605-9534 cell
Romana King, Media Relations,
416-895-5407 cell



Roy J. Adams, Professor Emeritus, McMaster University
Greg Albo, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, York University
Donna Baines, PhD, Associate Professor, McMaster University
Simon Black, PhD Candidate, Political Economy, York University
Sheila Block, Director of Policy, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
Dr. Jack Boan, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Regina
Paul Bowles, PhD, Professor of Economics, University of Northern British Columbia
Dr. Janine Brodie, F.R.S.C., Canada Research Chair in Political Economy and Social Governance, University of Alberta
Paul Leduc Browne, D.Phil., Professeur, Universit du Qubec en Outaouais
John Buttrick, Professor Emeritus of Economics,York University
Dr. John Calvert, Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University
Robert Chernomas, Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba
Stephen Clarkson, Professor of political economy, University of Toronto and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor, Simon Fraser University
John Cornwall, McCullough Emeritus Professor of Economics, Dalhousie University
W. Cornwall, PhD,  Emeritus Professor of Economics, Mount Saint Vincent University
Daniel Drache, Professor, York University
David B. Fairey, Trade Union Research Bureau, Vancouver, BC,
Lynne Fernandez, Sessional Instructor in Economics, University of Manitoba
Sam Gindin, Packer Chair in Social Justice, York University; and Former Research Director, CAW-Canada
Dr. Ricardo Grinspun, Professor of Economics, York University
Joel Davison Harden, National Representative (Research), Canadian Labour Congress
Terry Heaps, Associate Professor of Economics, Simon Fraser University
Tessa Hebb, D. Phil., Carleton University
Roderick Hill, PhD, Professor of Economics, University of New Brunswick (SJ)
Andrew Jackson, National Director, Social and Economic Policy, Canadian Labour Congress
Kim Jarvi, Senior Economist, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
Gerda Kits, Masters candidate in Economics, Dalhousie University
Seth Klein, Director, BC Office, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Laura Lamb, M.A., Ph.D. candidate in Economics, University of Manitoba
David Langille, Director, Centre for Social Justice
Gordon Laxer, Political Economist, University of Alberta
Michael A. Lebowitz, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Simon Fraser
Louis Lefeber, Ph.D., Professor of Economics (emeritus), York University
Gilbert Levine, Research Director (retired), Canadian Union of Public
Wayne Lewchuk, Economics & Labour Studies, McMaster University
John Loxley, Phd, FRSC, University of Manitoba
Dr. Meg Luxton, Director, Graduate Programme in Women's Studies
David Macdonald, Director, Econos Group
Hugh Mackenzie, Research Associate, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Brian MacLean, Full Professor, Department of Economics, Laurentian
Dr. Margie Mendell, Vice-Principal, School of Community and Public Affairs, and Director Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, Concordia University
Stephen McBride, Professor, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Joan McFarland, Professor of Economics, St. Thomas University
Alex Michalos, Professor Emeritus, University of Northern British Columbia
Monica Neitzert, Ph.D, Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ontario
Liisa L. North, Professor Emerita, York University
Marvyn Novick, Professor of Social Policy, Ryerson University
Lars Osberg, McCulloch Professor of Economics, Dalhousie University
Howard Pawley, former Manitoba Premier and currently Adjunct Professor at the University of Windsor
Ellie Perkins, Ph.D. Economics and Associate Professor, York University
Dennis Raphael, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, York University
Ellen Russell, Ph.D., Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Toby Sanger, Economist, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Edward H. Shaffer, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Alberta
Tyler Shipley, Department of History, University of Manitoba
Dr  Ingo Schmidt, Economics Program, University of Northern British Columbia
Jim Stanford, Ph.D., Economist, Canadian Auto Workers
Elizabeth Troutt, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba
Salimah Valianim, National Representative (Researcher), Social and Economic Policy Unit, Canadian Labour Congress
Peter Victor, Ph.D., Professor, York University
Jesse Vorst, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba
John W. Warnock, Professor, University of Regina
Mel Watkins, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Toronto, and Adjunct Research Professor of Political Economy, Carleton
Armine Yalnizyan, Research Associate, Canadian Centre for Policy


Bryan Evans, Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Ryerson
University, and former Government of Ontario policy manager
Blair Redlin, Research Representative, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Neil Thomlinson, Ph.D., Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson


The last thing Canada needs is a tax cut, which will make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Instead of cutting taxes the government should increase social programs which will improve the lives of most Canadians
Edward H. Shaffer, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Alberta

I'm on side with you folks that the situation is much more complex and that the extended string of surpluses at the federal level gives us an unprecedented opportunity to invest in infrastructure, health and education.
David Macdonald, Director, Econos Group

David Langille, Director
489 College Street, Suite 303
Toronto, Ontario  M6G 1A5
Vote for a Change:

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Why minority government (contrary to big-business claims) is good for Canada!

Dear CCPA friends and members,

Below is an opinion piece by CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell and CCPA-BC Director Seth Klein. Please feel free to distribute it as you wish.

Why minority government is good for Canada
By Bruce Campbell and Seth Klein

Is minority government good for Canada? Former Conservative pollster Allan Gregg would have us believe in his Strategic Counsel poll this week that 55% of Canadians (and 64% of Quebecers) think a Harper majority would be good for the country.

One wonders what Canadians¹ response would have been if the question had been prefaced with the statement that a Harper majority would tear up a major international treaty obligation--the Kyoto Accord; or that it would put Canada¹s support for George Bush¹s Missile Defense program back on the table.

Gregg¹s poll bolsters the economic elite¹s view that minorities produce gridlock and instability, and that only ³strong² majority governments can produce meaningful change. Yet while majority governments have been very successful in advancing elite policy priorities, this convenient myth masks the reality that minority governments have historically (and most recently) produced important change that most Canadians support.

Canadians need to recall their recent experience with majority governments. Two full decades of back-to-back majorities under successive Conservative (1984­1993) and Liberal (1993­2004) governments have delivered largely on the demands of corporate Canada, not the broader electorate. For Canadian citizens, election promises seemed to vaporize. Instead, these majorities delivered:

  • massive corporate tax cuts;
  • the end of universal benefits for children;
  • repeated attacks on Old Age Security benefits;
  • deep cuts for health, education, and social assistance;
  • removal of federal support for affordable housing;
  • gutting of unemployment insurance;
  • offloading of programs such as training and welfare to the
  • introduction and entrenchment of both NAFTA and the GST;
  • closer harmonization to U.S. standards and regulations in areas such as health and the environment; and closer integration on intelligence and military security.

And the list goes on. None of these measures were election issues, nor were they priorities for the majority of Canadians. They serve as an important reminder that we should be careful what we wish for, and that many of the most significant (and harmful) things done by majority governments never appeared in their election platforms.

In contrast, the Pearson minority governments of the 1960s brought in far reaching reforms greatly valued by Canadians to this day, including the Canada Pension Plan, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the Canada Student Loan program, increased federal transfers to the provinces, and Canada¹s most cherished social program ­­ Medicare.

In 2004, the Liberals campaigned on commitments to affordable housing, training, student assistance, the environment and foreign aid. But it was only because they were reduced to a minority and forced to make compromises with the NDP that they were held accountable for these promises. If they¹d had their way, the Liberals would have replaced these promises with more tax cuts for big business.

Under a Liberal majority, Canada would almost certainly have signed on to the US Missile Defense program, over the opposition of the vast majority of Canadians. With a majority, it is doubtful the Liberals would have finally moved forward on their promise (overdue by 12 years) to bring in a national child care program, or achieved their landmark Aboriginal agreement.

Many Canadians want to punish the Liberals for the sponsorship scandal. But is handing a majority to another party ­­ and giving it carte blanche to implement its own, largely unknown, agenda ­­ the answer? We don¹t believe so. There are far too many issues that have gone un-debated in this election.

Under a Harper majority, what will happen to the CBC? Will we see a radical decentralization of taxation powers to the provinces? Might they re-open the issue of privatizing the CPP? Will we see cuts to core social programs like EI or seniors benefits? We don¹t know, and we shouldn¹t find out the hard way.

The Conservative plan has not been fully costed (for example, it does not spell out how it would redress the so-called fiscal imbalance with the provinces). Thus, while we know what Harper says he will spend more on, we do not know what he may cut or privatize.

While far from perfect, the last minority parliament made modest progress in reversing the damage to our public programs. This is what most people wanted and what they voted for.

One reason Canadians feel disenchanted with politics is that parties run on one thing (usually centre-left platforms with broad appeal), and then when handed a majority, deliver something very different. Minority governments, on the other hand, serve to check this impunity. Another minority would force whoever forms government to listen to the representatives elected by the majority of Canadians (rather than influential lobbyists), and keep them from straying too far from core Canadian values.

Bruce Campbell is the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Seth Klein is the BC Director of the CCPA. The CCPA recently published Minority Report: a Report Card on the 2004-05 Minority Government (available at

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
410-75 Albert Street, Ottawa ON K1P 5E7
tel: 613-563-1341  fax: 613-233-1458

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Michael Moore Statement on Canadian Election

Editorial note:  "Voting for the lesser of two evils, you still end up with evil."  Michael Moore in 2000

Michael Moore (January 2006) is currently in production on his next movie.  As an avid lover of all things Canadian, he has issued the following statement regarding Canada's upcoming election on Monday:

Oh, Canada -- you're not really going to elect a Conservative majority on Monday, are you? That's a joke, right? I know you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of irony, but this is no longer funny. Maybe it's a new form of Canadian irony -- reverse irony! OK, now I get it. First, you have the courage to stand against the war in Iraq -- and then you elect a prime minister who's for it. You declare gay people have equal rights -- and then you elect a man who says they don't. You give your native peoples their own autonomy and their own territory -- and then you vote for a man who wants to cut aid to these poorest of your citizens. Wow, that is intense! Only Canadians could pull off a hat trick of humor like that. My hat's off to you.

Far be it from me as an American to suggest what you should do. You already have too many Americans telling you what to do. Well, actually, you've got just one American who keeps telling you to roll over and fetch and sit. I hope you don't feel this appeal of mine is too intrusive, but I just couldn't sit by as your friend and say nothing. Yes, I agree, the Liberals have some 'splainin' to do. And yes, one party in power for more than a decade gets a little... long. But you have a parliamentary system (I'll bet you didn't know that -- see, that's why you need Americans telling you things!). There are ways at the polls to have your voices heard other than throwing the baby out with the bath water.

These are no ordinary times, and as you go to the polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper because he's a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C'mon, where's your Canadian pride? I mean, if you're going to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least don't surrender so easily. Can't you wait until he threatens to bomb Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete's sake.

But seriously, I know you're not going to elect a guy who should really be running for governor of Utah. Whew! I knew it! You almost had me there. Very funny. Don't do that again. God, I love you, you crazy cold wonderful neighbors to my north. Don't ever change.

Michael Moore

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Why Harper's "going shoulder to shoulder" with big brother gets more even more serious

Editorial note:   American federal agent

An NSA Whistleblower Speaks Out

By , Democracy Now!
Posted on January 7, 2006, Printed on January 7, 2006

Editor's Note: Bush's decision to order the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens was first revealed in the New York Times in mid-December. The Times published the expose after holding the story for more than a year under pressure from the White House.

Since the story broke, calls for Congressional hearings and the possible impeachment of the president have intensified. Now Congress is considering a new round of hearings on Bush's domestic spying program, with a bipartisan group of Senators issuing their public support.

Former NSA intelligence officer Russel Tice recently announced that he wants to testify before Congress. He was fired in May 2005 after he spoke out as a whistleblower.

The following is an edited transcript of an interview between Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and former NSA intelligence agent Russell Tice. 

Amy Goodman: This is President Bush speaking on Sunday:

President George W. Bush: I can say that if somebody from al-Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why. In the meantime, this program is conscious of people's civil liberties, as am I. This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America. And I repeat: limited. And it's limited to calls from outside the United States to calls within the United States. But, they are of known numbers of known al Qaeda members or affiliates. And I think most Americans understand the need to find out what the enemy is thinking. And that's what we are doing. We're at war with a bunch of cold-blooded killers who will kill on a moment's notice. And I have a responsibility, obviously, to act within the law, which I am doing. It's a program has been reviewed constantly by Justice Department officials, a program to which the Congress has been briefed, and a program that is in my judgment necessary to win this war and to protect the American people.

Amy Goodman: Two weeks ago, a former N.S.A. intelligence officer publicly announced he wants to testify before Congress. His name is Russell Tice. For the past two decades he has worked in the intelligence field, both inside and outside of government, most recently with the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was fired in May 2005, after he spoke out as a whistleblower.

In his letter, Tice wrote, quote, "It's with my oath as a U.S. intelligence officer weighing heavy on my mind that I wish to report to Congress acts I believe are unlawful and unconstitutional. The freedom of the American people cannot be protected when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed into a police state." Russell Tice joins us now in our Washington studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!

Russell Tice: Good morning.

Amy Goodman: What made you decide to come forward? You worked for the top-secret agency of this government, one that is far larger and even more secret than the C.I.A.

Russell Tice: Well, the main reason is that I'm involved with some certain aspects of the intelligence community, which are very closely held, and I believe I have seen some things that are illegal. Ultimately it's Congress's responsibility to conduct oversight in these things. I don't see it happening. Another reason is there was a certain roadblock that was sort of lifted that allowed me to do this, and I can't explain, but I will to Congress if allowed to.

Amy Goodman: Can you talk about the letter you have written to Congress, your request to testify?

Russell Tice: Well, it's just a simple request under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which is a legal means to contact Congress and tell them that you believe that something has gone wrong in the intelligence community.

Amy Goodman: Can you start off by talking overall? Since most people -- until this latest story of President Bush engaging in these wiretaps of American citizens, as well as foreign nationals in this country -- perhaps hadn't even heard of the N.S.A., can you just describe for us what is the National Security Agency? How does it monitor these communications?

Russell Tice: The National Security Agency is an agency that deals with monitoring communications for the defense of the country. The charter basically says that the N.S.A. will deal with communications of -- overseas. We're not allowed to go after Americans, and I think ultimately that's what the big fuss is now. But as far as the details of how N.S.A. does that, unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to say that. I don't want to walk out of here and end up in an F.B.I. interrogation room.

Amy Goodman: Can you talk about your response to the revelations that the Times, knowing the story well before the election, revealed a few weeks ago about the wiretapping of American citizens?

Russell Tice: Well, as far as an intelligence officer, especially a SIGINT officer at N.S.A., we're taught from very early on in our careers that you just do not do this. This is probably the number one commandment of the SIGINT Ten Commandments -- you will not spy on Americans. 

It is drilled into our head over and over and over again in security briefings, at least twice a year, where you ultimately have to sign a paper that says you have gotten the briefing. Everyone at N.S.A. who's a SIGINT officer knows that you do not do this. Ultimately, so do the leaders of N.S.A., and apparently the leaders of N.S.A. have decided that they were just going to go against the tenets of something that's a gospel to a SIGINT officer.

Amy Goodman: We talk to Russell Tice, former intelligence agent with the National Security Agency, who worked with the N.S.A. until May 2005. Russell Tice, what happened in May 2005?

Russell Tice: Well, basically I was given my walking papers and told I was no longer a federal employee. So -- 

Amy Goodman: Why?

Russell Tice: Some time ago I had some concerns about a co-worker at D.I.A. who exhibited the classic signs of being involved in espionage, and I reported that and basically got blown off by the counterintelligence office at D.I.A. I kind of pushed the issue, because I continued to see a pattern of there being a problem. And once I got back to N.S.A., I pretty much dropped the issue, but there was a report that came across my desk in April of 2003 about two F.B.I. agents that were possibly passing secret counterintelligence information to a Chinese double agent, Katrina Leung, and I sent a secure message back to the D.I.A. counterintelligence officer, and I said I think the F.B.I. is incompetent, and the retaliation came down on me like a ton of bricks.

Amy Goodman: What would you say to those who say you are speaking out now simply because you are disgruntled?

Russell Tice: I guess that's a valid argument. You know, I was fired. But I've kind of held my tongue for a long time now, and basically, you know, I have known these things have been going on for a while. The classification level of the stuff I deal with, basically what we call black world programs and operations, are very, very closely held. And whether you think this is retaliation or not, I have something important to tell Congress, and I think they need to hear it. I'd like to think my motives aren't retaliation, but, you know, after what I have been through, I can understand someone's argument to think I have been jaded.

Amy Goodman: What about the risks you take as a whistleblower? I wanted to play a clip of F.B.I. whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds. She was working for the F.B.I. after 9/11 as a translator, translating intercepts, and ultimately she lost her job. And I asked her if she was afraid of speaking out: 

Sibel Edmonds: There are times that I am afraid, but then again, I have to remind myself that this is my civic duty and this is for the country, because what they are doing by pushing this stuff under this blanket of secrecy, what they are hiding is against the public's welfare and interest. And reminding that to myself just helps me, to a certain degree, overcome that fear.

Amy Goodman: That was Sibel Edmonds. Russell Tice, you are a member of her group, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

Russell Tice: That, I am. National Security Whistleblower Coalition is basically put together of people who are in sort of the same boat that I am in, that have brought whistleblower concerns to the public or to their perspective chain of supervisors and have been retaliated against. And the intelligence community, all of the whistleblower protection laws are -- pretty much exempt the intelligence community. So the intelligence community can put forth their lip service about, 'Oh, yeah, we want you to put report waste fraud abuse,' or 'You shall report suspicions of espionage,' but when they retaliate you for doing so, you pretty much have no recourse. I think a lot of people don't realize that.

And Sibel has basically started this organization to bring these sort of concerns out into the public and ultimately to get Congress to start passing some laws to protect folks that are going to be in a position to let the public or just, you know, to let Congress know that crimes are being committed. And that's what we're talking about. We're talking about a crime here. So, you know, all of this running around and looking for someone who dropped the dime on a crime is a whole lot different than something like the Valerie Plame case.

Amy Goodman: What do you think of the Justice Department launching an investigation into the leak, who leaked the fact that President Bush was spying on American citizens? 

Russell Tice: Well, I think this is an attempt to make sure that no intelligence officer ever considers doing this. What was done to me was basically an attempt to tell other intelligence officers, 'Hey, if you do something like this, if you do something to tick us off, we're going to take your job from you, we're gonna do some unpleasant things to you.'

So, right now, the atmosphere at N.S.A. and D.I.A., for that matter, is fear. The security services basically rule over the employees with fear, and people are afraid to come forward. People know if they come forward even in the legal means, like coming to Congress with a concern, your career is over. And that's just the best scenario. There's all sorts of other unfortunate things like, perhaps, if someone gets thrown in jail for either a witch-hunt or something trumping up charges or, you know, this guy who is basically reporting a crime.

Amy Goodman: And what do you think of the news that the National Security Agency spying on American citizens without a court order and foreign nationals is now sharing this information with other agencies like, well, the other agency you worked for, the Defense Intelligence Agency?

Russell Tice: Intelligence officers work with one another all the time. As an analyst, you might have a problem. Everybody gets together. It's just common sense to find out what everybody knows, you know, come to a consensus as to what the answer is. It's sort of like a puzzle, you know, chunks of the puzzle. And maybe you have a few chunks as a SIGINT officer, and the C.I.A. has a few chunks in their arena and D.I.A. has a few elements of it, and everybody gets together and does a little mind meld to try to figure out what's going on. So it's not unusual for the intelligence community to share information. But when we're talking about information on the American public, which is a violation of the FISA law, then I think it's even something more to be concerned about.

Amy Goodman: Were you ever asked to engage in this?

Russell Tice: No, no, and if I did so, I did so unwittingly, which I have a feeling would be the case for many of the people involved in this. More than likely this was very closely held at the upper echelons at N.S.A., and mainly because these people knew -- General Hayden, Bill Black, and probably the new one, Keith Alexander, they all knew this was illegal. So, you know, they kept it from the populace of N.S.A., because every N.S.A. officer certainly knows this is illegal.

Amy Goodman: What do you mean if you did so, you did so unwittingly?

Russell Tice: Well, there are certain elements of the aspects of what is done where there are functionaries or technicians or analysts that are given information, and you just process that information. You don't necessarily know the nitty gritty as to where the information came from or the -- it's called compartmentalization. It's ironic, but you could be working on programs, and the very person sitting next to you is not cleared for the programs you're working on, and they're working on their own programs, and each person knows to keep their nose out of the other person's business, because everything's compartmentalized, and you're only allowed to work on what you have a need to know to work on.

Amy Goodman: What about the telecoms, the telecommunications corporations working with the Bush administration to open up a back  door to eavesdropping, to wiretapping?

Russell Tice: If that was done and, you know, I use a big "if" here, and, remember, I can't tell you what I know of how N.S.A. does its business, but I can use the wiggle words like "if" and scenarios that don't incorporate specifics, but nonetheless, if U.S. gateways and junction points in the United States were used to siphon off information, I would think that the corporate executives of these companies need to be held accountable, as well, because they would certainly also know that what they're doing is wrong and illegal. And if they have some sort of court order or some sort of paper or something signed from some government official, Congress needs to look at those papers and look at the bottom line and see whose signature is there. And these corporations know that this is illegal, as well. So everyone needs to be held accountable in this mess.

Amy Goodman: When you come on board at these intelligence agencies, as at the National Security Agency, what are you told? I mean, were you aware of the Church hearings in the 1970s that went into the illegal spying on monitoring, of surveilling, of wiretapping of American citizens?

Russell Tice: Well, that's something that's really not drummed in your head. That's more of a history lesson, I think. And the reasoning, ultimately, for the FISA laws and for what's called USSID 18, which is sort of the SIGINTer's bible of how they conduct their business, but the law itself is drilled into your head, as well as the tenets of USSID 18, of which the number one commandment is 'Thou shalt not spy on Americans.'

Amy Goodman: We're talking to Russell Tice, former intelligence agent with the National Security Agency, worked at the N.S.A. up until May of 2005. What is data mining?

Russell Tice: Data mining is a means by which you -- you have information, and you go searching for all associated elements of that information in whatever sort of data banks or databases that you put together with information. So if you have a phone number and you want to associate it with, say, a terrorist or something, and you want to associate it with, you know, 'Who is this terrorist talking to?' you start doing data on what sort of information or what sort of numbers does that person call or the frequency of time, that sort of thing. And you start basically putting together a bubble chart of, you know, where everybody is.

Lord help you if you've got a wrong phone call from one of these guys, a terrorist overseas or something, and you're American. You're liable to have the F.B.I. camping out your doorstep, apparently, from everything that's going on. But it's basically a way of searching all of the data that exists, and that's things like credit card records and driver's license, anything that you can get your hands on and try to associate it with some activity. I think if we were doing that overseas with known information, it would be a good thing if we're pinning them down. But ultimately, when we're using that on -- if we're using that with U.S. databases, then ultimately, once again, the American people are -- their civil rights are being violated.

Amy Goodman: Do you expect you are being monitored, surveilled, wiretapped right now?

Russell Tice: Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, in - you know, sometimes you just don't know. And being, you know -- what they've basically accused me of, I can't just walk around thinking that everybody is looking at my heels and are following me around. But in one scenario I turned the tables on someone I thought was following me, and he ducked into a convenience store, and I just walked down there -- and I saw him out of my peripheral vision -- and I basically walked down to where he ducked into and in the store, I walked up behind him. He was buying a cup of coffee, and he had a Glock on his hip and his F.B.I. badge. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on there.

Amy Goodman: The National Security Agency, or I should say the United Nations Security Council, there was a scandal a year or two ago about the monitoring of the diplomats there. It was in the lead up to the invasion, the U.S. wanting to know and put pressure on these Security Council ambassadors to know what they were saying before any kind of vote. What is the difference between that kind of monitoring and the monitoring of American citizens?

Russell Tice: Well, if the monitoring was done against foreigners and the monitoring was done overseas, as far as I know, that's perfectly legal. It's just a matter of who you are monitoring and where you're doing the monitoring. If it's done at home and they're Americans, then you have a different scenario.

And we're all trained that, you know, hands off. If you inadvertently run across something like that in the conduct of what you're doing, you immediately let someone know; if it's involved in something being recorded, it's immediately erased. So, you know, it's something that we all know you just don't do. Overseas, okay; here at home, not so okay.

Amy Goodman: I wanted to play for you the clip that we ran of President Bush earlier and get your response. This is President Bush on Sunday [replays the clip.]

Amy Goodman: Russell Tice, you were with the National Security Agency until May 2005. If al-Qaeda's calling, the U.S. government wants to know. Your response?

Russell Tice: Well, that's probably a good thing to know. But that's why we have a FISA court and FISA laws. The FISA court - it's not very difficult to get something through a FISA court. I kinda liken the FISA court to a monkey with a rubber stamp. The monkey sees a name, the monkey sees a word justification with a block of information. It can't read the block, but it just stamps "affirmed" on the block, and a banana chip rolls out, and then the next paper rolls in front of the monkey. When you have like 20,000 requests and only, I think, four were turned down, you can't look at the FISA court as anything different.

So, you have to ask yourself the question: Why would someone want to go around the FISA court in something like this? I would think the answer could be that this thing is a lot bigger than even the President has been told it is, and that ultimately a vacuum cleaner approach may have been used, in which case you don't get names, and that's ultimately why you wouldn't go to the FISA court. And I think that's something Congress needs to address. They need to find out exactly how this system was operated and ultimately determine whether this was indeed a very focused effort or whether this was a vacuum cleaner-type scenario.

Amy Goodman: Did you support the President, Russell Tice? Did you vote for President Bush?

Russell Tice: I am a Republican. I voted for President Bush both in the last election and the first election where he was up for president. I've contributed to his campaign. I get a Christmas card from the White House every year, I guess because of my nominal contributions. But I think you're going to find a lot of folks that are in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community are apt to be on the conservative side of the fence. But nonetheless, we're all taught that you don't do something like this. And I'm certainly hoping that the President has been misled in what's going on here and that the true crux of this problem is in the leadership of the intelligence community.

Amy Goodman: You're saying in the leadership of your own agency, the National Security Agency?

Russell Tice: That's correct, yeah, because certainly General Alexander and General Hayden and Bill Black knew that this was illegal.

Amy Goodman: But they clearly had to have authorization from above, and Bush is not contending that he did not know. 

Russell Tice: Well, that's true. But the question has to be asked: What did the President know? What was the President told about this? It's just -- there's just too many variables out there that we don't know yet. And, ultimately, I think Congress needs to find out those answers. If the President was fed a bill of goods in this matter, then that's something that has to be addressed. Or if the President himself knew every aspect of what's going on, if this was some sort of vacuum cleaner deal, then it is ultimately, I would think, the President himself that needs to be held responsible for what's going on here.

Amy Goodman: And what do you think should happen to him?

Russell Tice: Well, it's certainly not up to me, but I've heard all of the talk about impeachment and that sort of thing. You know, I saw our last president get impeached for what personally I thought should have been something between his wife and his family, and the big guy upstairs. It's not up to me, but if the President knew, if this was a vacuum cleaner job and the President knew exactly what was going on -- and ultimately what we're hearing now is nothing but a cover-up and a whitewash -- and we find that to be the case, then I think it should cause some dire consequences for even the President of the United States, if he indeed did know exactly what was going on and if it was a very large-scale, you know, suck-up-everything kind of operation.

Amy Goodman: This investigation that the Justice Department has launched - it's interesting that Alberto Gonzales is now Attorney General of the United States - the latest story of the New York Times: Gonzales, when he was White House Counsel, when Andrew Card, chief of staff, went to Ashcroft at his hospital bedside to get authorization for this. Can he be a disinterested party in investigating this now, as Attorney General himself?

Russell Tice: Yeah, I think that for anyone to say that the Attorney General is going to be totally unbiased about something like this, I think that's silly. Of course, the answer is "No." He can't be unbiased in this. I think that a special prosecutor or something like that may have to be involved in something like this, otherwise we're just liable to have a whitewash.

Amy Goodman: What do you think of the term "police state"?

Russell Tice: Well, anytime where you have a situation where U.S. citizens are being arrested and thrown in jail with the key being thrown away, you know, potentially being sent overseas to be tortured, U.S. citizens being spied on, you know, and it doesn't even go to the court that deals with these secret things, you know, I mean, think about it, you could have potentially somebody getting the wrong phone call from a terrorist and having him spirited away to some back-alley country to get the rubber hose treatment and who knows what else. I think that would kind of qualify as a police state, in my judgment.

I certainly hope that Congress or somebody sort of does something about this, because, you know, for Americans just to say, 'Oh, well, we have to do this because, you know, because of terrorism,' you know, it's the same argument that we used with communism years ago: take away your civil liberties, but use some threat that's, you know, been out there for a long time.

Terrorism has been there for -- certainly before 9/11 we had terrorism problems, and I have a feeling it's going to be around for quite some time after whatever we deem is a victory in what we're doing now in the Middle East. But, you know, it's just something that has to be addressed. We just can't continue to see our civil liberties degraded. Ultimately, as Ben Franklin, I think, had said, you know, those who would give up their essential liberties for a little freedom deserve neither liberty or freedom, and I tend to agree with Ben Franklin.

Amy Goodman: And your colleagues at the N.S.A. right now, their feelings, the National Security Agency?

Russell Tice: Boy, I think most folks at N.S.A. right now are just running scared. They have the security office hanging over their head, which has always been a bunch of vicious folks, and now they've got, you know, this potential witch hunt going on with the Attorney General. People in the intelligence community are afraid. They know that you can't come forward. You have no protections as a whistleblower. These things need to be addressed.

Amy Goodman: What do you mean you have no protection?

Russell Tice: Well, like I said before, as a whistleblower, you're not protected by the whistleblower laws that are out there. The intelligence community is exempt from the whistleblower protection laws. 

Amy Goodman: So why are you doing it?

Russell Tice: Well, ultimately, I don't have to be afraid of losing my job, because I have already lost my job, so that's one reason. The other reason is because I made an oath when I became an intelligence officer that I would protect the United States Constitution; not a president, not some classification, you know, for whatever, that ultimately I'm responsible to protect the Constitution of the United States. And I think that's the same oath the President takes, for the most part.

So, imagine if something -- if we were like, I don't know, taking Americans and assassinating them for suspicions of suspicions of terrorism, and then we just put some classification on it and said, 'Well, this is super top secret, so no one can say anything about that.' Well, at what point do you draw the line and say enough is enough? We have to say something here.

Amy Goodman: What was your classification? How high up was your clearance?

Russell Tice: Well, clearances go up to the top secret level. But once you get to the top secret level, there are many caveats and many programs and things that can happen beyond that point. I specialized in what's known as black world operations and programs that are very closely held, things that happen in operations and programs in the intelligence community that are closely held, and for the most part these programs are very beneficial to ultimately getting information and protecting the American people. But in some cases, I think, classification levels at these -- we call them special access programs, SAPs -- could be used to mask, basically, criminal wrongdoing. So I think that's something ultimately Congress needs to address, as well, because from what I can see, there is not a whole lot of oversight when it comes to some of these deep black programs.

Amy Goodman: Russell Tice, did you know anyone within the N.S.A. who refused to spy on Americans, who refused to follow orders?

Russell Tice: No. No, I do not. As far as -- of course, I'm not witting of anyone that was told they will spy on an American. So, ultimately, when this was going on, I have a feeling it was closely held at some of the upper echelon levels. And you've got to understand, I was a worker bee. I was a guy that wrote the reports and did the analysis work and -- you know, the detail guy. At some point, your reports have to get sent up up the line and then, you know, the management takes action at some point or another, but at my level, no, I was not involved in this.

Amy Goodman: Has Congress responded to your letter offering to testify as a former employee of the National Security Agency?

Russell Tice: Not yet. Of course, the holidays - you know, we just had the holidays here, so everybody is out of town. I can't condemn Congress too much yet, because I faxed it out on, I do believe, the 18th of December, and we're just getting into the new year.

Amy Goodman: And who did you send it to?

Russell Tice: I sent it to the chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, the SSCI and the HPSCI.

Amy Goodman: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Russell Tice: Well, I can't think of a whole lot, except ultimately I think the American people need to be concerned about allegations that the intelligence community is spying on Americans. One of my fears is that this would cause, just going into the N.S.A. and just tearing the place up and making the good work that's being done at the N.S.A. ineffective, because the N.S.A. is very important to this country's security. And I certainly hope that some bad apples, even if these bad apples were at the top of N.S.A., don't ultimately destroy the capabilities of N.S.A.'s ability to do a good job protecting the American people.

Amy Goodman: Russell Tice, former intelligence agent with the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, worked for the N.S.A. up until May of last year. Thanks for joining us.

Russell Tice: Thank you.

© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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NFU raises objections to CWB election review process

Text Box: National Office
2717 Wentz Ave.
Saskatoon, Sask.
S7K 4B6
Tel (306) 652-9465
Fax (306) 664-6226
NOVEMBER 30, 2005
NFU raises objections to CWB electoral review panel process
A three-person review panel appointed last summer by the federal government to provide recommendations on the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) elections is expected to release its report in the near future.

Without pre-judging any recommendations that may come from this government-appointed review panel, the National Farmers Union (NFU) is raising criticism of the review process itself.

NFU President Stewart Wells said farmers need to be "ready to push back" in case the panel recommends changes that may damage the CWB's ability to maximize returns to farmers, or which may undermine the democratic structure of the Board through unequal voting arrangements.

Wells indicated the panel's work has been jeopardized from the beginning by the appointment of Greg Porozni as one of its three panel members. "Mr. Porozni was an unsuccessful candidate in the 2002 CWB Director elections. During that campaign, Porozni worked with an organization which was previously found to have funneled money from grain companies to anti-CWB candidates while not registering as an intervenor. In addition, during the campaign it was revealed by CBC Radio that Mr. Porozni was working on a secret committee convened by GMO-wheat seed developer Monsanto. Mr. Porozni had not revealed this information to potential voters or to the election coordinator, accounting firm Meyers Norris Penny."

Also, during the review process itself, it appeared that many groups which have expressed anti-CWB sentiments in the past have been given preferential treatment. At the same time, other legitimate farm organizations may have had less opportunity to make presentations to the panel.

"Farmers should be asking: was the National Citizens Coalition (NCC - founded by insurance millionaire Colin M Brown in the 1960s to undermine Medicare), invited to make a presentation to the panel?" stated Wells. "And were legitimate farm organizations, such as West Central Road and Rail (WCRR) and the Farmer Rail Car Coalition (FRCC) not sent similar invitations?"

The NFU President pointed out that only three days of hearings were held during the busy harvest season, which further excluded most farmers. The deadline for submissions was September 30, well before harvest had ended.

"When taken in isolation, many of the points seem to be small concerns," said Wells. "But when added together, these irregularities paint a picture of the Porozni panel actively embracing input from anti-CWB activists while minimizing input from legitimate farmers or farm organizations."
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Stewart Wells, NFU President
Terry Pugh, NFU Executive-Secretary

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