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August

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    MPlib
    Big crowd arriving for last day of #QCX2014 today, served 3,000 at pancake breakfast this morning in support of Regina Food Bank
    Aug 03, 2014 11:55 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Mayor Fougere+ Regina City Councillors, with 2 special helpers, getting ready to serve #QCX2014 pancake Breakfast
    Aug 03, 2014 8:30 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Part of a massive War Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium - remembering fallen Canadians, WW1 started 100yrs ago this weekend
    Aug 03, 2014 7:27 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    GRAIN REGULATIONS CONFIRM CHRONIC POLICY FAILURES It was back in 2007, nearly eight years ago, when the Harper government was first confronted with complaints about grain handling and transportation deficiencies. Since then, the situation has only grown worse, culminating in last winter's full-blown, multi-billion-dollar, system-wide failure. The root of the problem is this - Mr. Harper devised and imposed a grain handling and transportation system without adequate capacity, no surge capability, no provision for adverse circumstances, no overall coordination, no transparency, no accountability, no competition and no realistic recourse for shippers (like farmers) who are held captive. It was a system run by the railways and grain companies to serve their commercial interests. And it worked ... FOR THEM. They've just reported record profits. But for farmers, it's a different story. Through study-after-study and delay-after-delay, Mr. Harper's approach to the concerns of grain producers has been haphazard and half-hearted. There have been repeated promises of meaningful action - including two pieces of legislation to shore-up shippers' rights and "level the playing field" between shippers and railways - but nothing much gets better. Last winter, the system stuck farmers with a chaotic and costly mess. The undelivered grain carryover into this new crop year, starting this weekend, is close to 20-million tonnes. So without any new crop at all this fall, it will take well into November just to catch up on last year. The new regulations the government unveiled Friday show they still haven't got things right. On the matter of "interswitching", there is general support for this concept to try to create some element of greater competition, but it's a relatively small measure and will expire in two years. On the matter of more information and greater transparency, everyone agrees this is long overdue. You cannot manage what you don't measure. But without some form of overall system coordination, it's not clear that the mere provision of information will actually move more grain, or serve farmers better. On the extension of the Orders to the railways to move certain volumes within a certain time frame, this is essential - given the backlog that remains. But again, this provision is only temporary. It expires in November. There is no core coordination. And there is no attempt to achieve equitable treatment for all corridors (moving west, east, south and north) or for producer cars or short-line rail operators or smaller shippers or domestic users. The government has had three extra months to figure out how to ensure fairness in the system across the board and appears to have given up. On Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between shippers and railways, the new Regs provide some extra detail about what constitutes an "operational term" in any such agreement, but they also create massive exceptions and excuses. And the fundamental definition of railway "service obligations" is not improved. When railway performance fails, the enforcement tool is still primarily a fine paid to the government, not "damages" paid to farmers to compensate for their losses. A new power for the Canadian Transportation Agency (the regulatory authority) to order a railway to pay the expenses of those who have suffered losses due to railway failures is illusory - it applies only after a formal "level of service complaint" has been launched. That is an expensive, cumbersome and time consuming process that will prove too costly and largely inaccessible for most shippers. As a new harvest comes off this fall, farmers will be watching skeptically to see if the transportation and handling system is actually any better than it was last year.
    Aug 02, 2014 8:28 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

July

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    MPlib
    Glad to celebrate the QC-Ex in Regina's annual parade.
    Jul 29, 2014 6:40 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here's a prime example of what flows from Mr Harper's firesale of federal assets - all to puff-up his claim of a surplus http://www.leaderpost.com/business/Century+Indian+Head+nursery+rundown+mess/10067792/story.html
    Jul 29, 2014 9:02 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    MR. HARPER'S TRADE PERFORMANCE: BARELY MEDIOCRE About a year ago, with the fallout from Mike Duffy and ethical scandals in the Prime Minister’s Office contaminating just about everything, Stephen Harper launched an elaborate "change the channel" strategy. He shuffled his Cabinet. He prorogued Parliament once again to buy some extra time. He presented the longest and most vacuous Throne Speech that ever opened a new session of the House of Commons. And the very next day, he jetted off to Brussels, with much fanfare, to sign a long-awaited trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. It's all done, Mr. Harper said. Just a few technical points to settle among the lawyers working on the final wording, but we've got a deal, he claimed. Justin Trudeau welcomed what appeared to be the good news. He reserved final judgment until Canadians could see the legal text, but in principle, Liberals would support a well-negotiated agreement between Canada and vast markets in the EU. Such a deal would help the Canadian economy to grow. It would stimulate new middle class jobs. It would improve living standards and help bolster incomes -- wages in exporting sectors of our economy tend to be 50% higher than in sectors that are not trade intensive. But now, nearly a year later, it seems that Mr. Harper was just pulling everyone's leg. There was no reason to rush off to Belgium for a signing ceremony last fall. It was all just for show, because there is still no final deal between Canada and the EU. Germany (and possibly other countries) are signalling a veto unless major terms are renegotiated. This fiasco-in-the-making is another example of Mr. Harper's less-than-stellar record on trade. He boasts about having brought six -- count them -- six new trade deals into force since 2006. That's a fine "talking point", but here's the list: Panama, Jordan, Columbia, Peru, Honduras and the European Free Trade Association. Taken together, these markets represent just 2% of the world's GDP. That's not enough volume to make a big difference. To be fair, another agreement was concluded recently with Korea, but it's a long way from being implemented. Several others are "in progress", including multilateral talks with potential Trans-Pacific partners, but it's way too soon to predict where these will end up. Suffice it to say, for now, results over the past eight years have been slow and mediocre. A critical indicator is Canada's trade balance. For a very long time, it's been in deficit. So despite a few new trade agreements and all the spin-doctoring to puff up the government's ego, the country is not gaining the trade traction it needs to drive a decent level of economic growth. This point has been made repeatedly by the Bank of Canada. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce agrees. It says Canada's trade performance is "lagging" and "dismal", and it crunches some numbers to prove the point. According to the Chamber, after accounting for big price increases in energy products, the volume of merchandise exports shipped by Canada in 2012 was actually 5% lower than in 2000, despite a 57% increase in trade worldwide. Quite apart from trade negotiations, Canada needs a sound marketing plan, particularly in new emerging economies. We need to be present consistently, building government-to-government relationships and paving the way for exports to flow. And we need to bring coherence and some sizzle into our approach. Mr. Harper could learn some lessons about salesmanship and effective economic diplomacy from Jean Chretien's "Team Canada" trade missions in the 1990's. They built a "brand" for Canada in global trade and helped to get business done. Mr. Harper should also be far more inclusive and transparent in telling Canadians what his government is doing, and asking for their advice, to strengthen Canada's trade performance and increase exports. Just saying "trust me" doesn't work for a government that is producing such pitiful outcomes.
    Jul 28, 2014 6:35 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Mayor Clark of Rouleau makes "thank you" presentations to two of Dog River's most famous citizens, Brent + Fred.
    Jul 26, 2014 3:22 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Brent + Fred, stars of Corner Gas, welcoming all the Dog River fans, celebrating the finale of their new movie.
    Jul 26, 2014 3:21 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Corner Gas fans fill Main Street in Dog River (Rouleau, Sk) to celebrate a terrific tv show + coming soon, The Movie!
    Jul 26, 2014 2:12 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    This little park on Main Street in Rouleau (Dog River) is about where Percy's barbershop used to be - where I got my 1st haircut.
    Jul 26, 2014 2:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    A train rolls through Dog River (Rouleau), but all containers, no hopper cars for grain!
    Jul 26, 2014 1:46 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    My Aunt Dorothy started her career at the Commerce Bank in Rouleau (later, Dog River) in early 1930's.
    Jul 26, 2014 1:41 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Reflections in the window of the gas station which helped to make "Corner Gas" a great tv program + a great movie to come
    Jul 26, 2014 1:19 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Happy to be in Rouleau, Sk (Dog River) this afternoon, for the finale of the Corner Gas movie - a prairie classic!
    Jul 26, 2014 1:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    This news today reinforces my blog about the Harper regime's bad attitude toward an independent judiciary. http://on.thestar.com/1umI9oC http://ralphgoodale.ca/blog/harper-conservatives-attack-courts/
    Jul 25, 2014 9:43 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    This is blatant harassment + intimidation. Who do Canadians find more credible: Oxfam or the Harper Conservatives? http://globalnews.ca/news/1472649/canada-revenue-agency-says-preventing-poverty-not-allowed-as-goal-for-charity/
    Jul 25, 2014 5:42 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Strong feeling at APAS meeting that removal of "Revenue Cap" will result in higher freight rates but NO improvement in service. Problem is captive shippers + no competitive pressures on railways to do any better. Until that changes nothing will get better.
    Jul 24, 2014 2:16 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    At APAS (Agricultural Producers Assocation of Saskatchewan) meeting, Canola Growers call for effective regulatory framework with adequate service definitions, reciprocal obligations+consequences.They worry that the regulations will exclude the concept of "damages" for non-performance. Also report on their Level of Service complaint to the CTA about railway performance deficiencies.
    Jul 24, 2014 1:56 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    At APAS (Agricultural Producers Assocation of Saskatchewan) meeting: delegates told that regulations under feds' grain transport law, Bill C-30, are still not ready + new crop year is about to start. Without meaningful regulations, Bill C-30 is mostly an empty shell. Will service levels be defined+enforced?
    Jul 24, 2014 1:36 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    At the APAS (Agricultural Producers Assocation of Saskatchewan) meeting, Grain Monitor Quorum reports that: -last winter's crisis still hurting - especially producer cars, shortline rails -the crisis wasn't just a big crop/cold weather - it was primarily a deficient system -the railways see grain as a product with no great urgency - can move it anytime
    Jul 24, 2014 1:19 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Attentive crowd in Saskatoon on grain handing+transportation issues at the AGM of APAS (Agricultural Producers Assocation of Saskatchewan)
    Jul 24, 2014 12:51 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Thanks to HMCS / NCSM Regina for your service in the Mediterranean and best wishes to the HMCS Toronto as it departs to the region. Merci au NCSM Regina de votre service en Méditerranée et j’offre mes meilleurs vœux au NCSM Toronto, qui quitte aujourd’hui pour la région.
    Jul 24, 2014 7:49 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Two young Ukrainian film-makers at UNF Hall in Regina presenting their documentary about the battle for freedom on the Maidan in Kyiv.
    Jul 23, 2014 7:41 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    HARPER CONSERVATIVES "ON THE ATTACK" AGAINST COURTS Remember in 2006 when Stephen Harper tried to reassure Canadians that they didn't need to worry about his "extreme tendencies" because three "safeguards" in our system of governance would hold him in check? One was the Senate as a chamber of sober second thought. Well, so much for that idea! Mr. Harper has mangled the Senate with wrong-headed appointments and constant manipulation. Trust is gone. Secondly, a strong public service was supposed to keep him within the confines of decent public policy. But Mr. Harper quickly made it known that advice from government officials is not valued and those who "speak truth to power" get punished. So intimidation reigns. The third safeguard was the Courts. And that's where the rubber hits the road. The judicial system has a measure of constitutional authority and independence that the first two do not. Governments are not above the law. When Prime Ministers, Parliaments and bureaucracies go wrong, citizens must have the right to challenge them in court. A number of courts at various levels - including judges who have been on the Bench for years and some who only just arrived - have questioned the legality and constitutionality of various Harper government actions and pieces of legislation. The issues at stake frequently involve the Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms, like a recent ruling that this government's treatment of refugees is, in some ways, "cruel and unusual". This enrages Harper Conservatives who have never accepted the legitimacy of the Charter - unlike some 80% of Canadians who regard it as a defining characteristic of our nationhood. So you have the unseemly spectacle of Stephen Harper and his entourage on frequent rampages against the courts and judges (including attacks on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada) and the interpretations of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter. What these Harper Conservatives ignore is that the Charter itself was duly and laboriously crafted, debated and enacted according to law. It reflects the democratic will of Canadians, which cannot be easily trumped. And it contains a safety valve - i.e., the "notwithstanding" clause - which dissidents can use, if they've got the courage. In other words, the Harper Conservatives could, in fact, legislate their distasteful ideology, but they would have to declare, upfront and explicitly for all Canadians to see, that they are doing so "notwithstanding" the traditions and values of a free and democratic society. Of course they'd rather not invoke the Notwithstanding Clause because it destroys their facade of respectability. So instead, they rant against the courts, accusing them of bad faith and "end runs" around democracy. Before embracing such criticism, note the prevailing mentality among the folks around Mr. Harper which led his Chief of Staff to think it was "okay" to make a $90,000 payment to a sitting Parliamentarian. Is that the kind of judgment you can trust, without recourse? And that's not all - take a hard look at the bruised and battered "democracy" that characterizes this Harper regime: • Hundreds of millions of tax dollars squandered on partisan government advertising to skew public opinion. Vicious attack-ads paid for with tax subsidies. Campaigns of character assassination aimed against charities, non-governmental organizations, church groups, public servants, scientists, statisticians, Officers of Parliament and public-interest watchdogs. • Tampering with Access-to-Information procedures. Stonewalling the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Limiting the work of House of Commons Committees. • Blatant misuse of Omnibus Bills, Prorogation and Closure to stifle reasonable debate and avoid accountability. • The conviction of the Conservative Party for more than a million dollars in illegal election campaign spending. The resignation of a Conservative Cabinet Minister over election violations in Labrador. The "robocall" electoral fraud trial now underway in Guelph. The Prime Minister's former Parliamentary Secretary on trial for other alleged election offences in Peterborough. • A Conservative scheme, defended publicly by Stephen Harper, to use robocalls to influence an independent electoral boundaries commission. • The new Conservative "Elections Act" which makes it harder for many Canadians to vote and easier for electoral fraud to go undetected. Given this perverse approach to democracy, it's probably a good thing that ordinary citizens have at least some ability to fight for their rights in court.
    Jul 23, 2014 11:04 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Bank of Canada confirms @JustinTrudeau's point that "serial" lack of growth is Canada's most serious economic flaw http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/../../ralph-goodale/canada-economy_b_5605481.html
    Jul 21, 2014 6:15 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    BANK OF CANADA UNDERLINES LACK OF GROWTH This week the Bank of Canada reiterated our country's weak economic standing by downgrading expectations for growth both this year and next. "Right now, we don't have a sustainable growth picture in Canada," Governor Stephen Poloz said. The Bank is now forecasting that Canada's economy won’t recover from the doldrums for several years. This performance is a “serial disappointment” he said. None of this is news to anyone but the Harper government, which seems to be nothing more than a hapless spectator as the economy falters from one bad indicator to the next. For months on end, they dismiss weak employment numbers -- like the ones recently reported by Statistics Canada for the month of June -- as just "monthly volatility". But it keeps recurring, month after month. One might ask, at what point does that so-called "volatility" become an undeniable trend in the wrong direction. Or to put it another way, when will Mr. Harper pull his head out of the sand. He tries to justify his grindingly mediocre record on economic growth and jobs by claiming to be doing better than any other G7 country. But that's neither true nor relevant. The US and the EU were at the epicentre of the 2008 recession. Their economies fell to rock-bottom. To claim that Canada, nearly six years later, is doing a bit better than that bad lot is not saying very much. In fact, some 140 countries in the world are projected to grow faster this year than will Canada. Should we be content with that? Among G7 countries, over the past 18 months nearly all have made progress in reducing their unemployment rates (the US, the UK, Germany, France and Japan), while the other two (Canada and Italy) have not. Is that good enough? To camouflage his slow growth/no growth record, Mr. Harper claims to have generated "more than a million" new jobs since the lowest point in the recession. But examine his numbers. They are at least two years out of date. More recently, the pace of job creation has markedly slowed. Fewer than 100,000 Canadian jobs came into existence in all of 2013, and the numbers in 2014 are on track to fall short of even that sorry figure. The Bank is particularly concerned about the substantial decline in the "participation rate" in our labour force since just before the recession in 2008. It reports that 100,000 people aged 25-54 have given up looking for work altogether and that things are even more dire among our youth, with 200,000 dropping out of the labour force. Hardly a vote of confidence in Mr. Harper's performance! And despite this lower labour market "participation", job creation is still not keeping pace with the numbers of people still looking for work. Indeed, in the month of June, there were 230,000 more jobless Canadians than just before the recession. And what do we get from the Harper government? Decision-making based on Kijiji postings. A year of tax-paid government advertising about a "Jobs Grant" that didn't exist. A temporary foreign workers system that is roundly condemned by both employees and employers alike. Complete denial about youth unemployment. And job-killing Employment Insurance payroll taxes frozen at artificially inflated levels to rake in more cash -- just so Mr. Harper can concoct a surplus on the eve of an election. That's pretty thin gruel for close to 1.4-million jobless Canadians.
    Jul 21, 2014 6:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Team Saskatchewan last of 5000 athletes to enter Mosaic Stadium at opening of North American Indigenous Games #NAIG2014
    Jul 20, 2014 2:30 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Here at the North American Indigenous Games with Liberal Deputy Leader, Ralph Goodale and Liberal Aboriginal Affairs critic Carolyn Bennett!
    Jul 20, 2014 1:49 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Incredible hoop dancer Terrence Littletent at opening of North American Indigenous Games in Regina #NAIG2014
    Jul 20, 2014 1:36 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Happy crowd welcomes 5,000 athletes to North American Indigenous Games at Mosaic stadium in Regina #NAIG2014
    Jul 20, 2014 1:36 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Dancers warming up for North American Indigenous Games Opening in Regina #NAIG2014
    Jul 20, 2014 12:56 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Regina ready to host 2014 North American Indigenous Games - opening ceremonies about to begin at Mosaic Stadium.
    Jul 20, 2014 12:56 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Part of the Grand Entry at today's Carry-the-Kettle PowWow just east of Regina - honoured to be part of it.
    Jul 19, 2014 12:55 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Congrats to M+M Meats on Quance in Regina - a community BBQ in support of the RCMP families in Moncton!
    Jul 19, 2014 10:25 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Sask Metis President Robert Doucette + Batoche MC Shirley Isbister thanking special guests + sponsors at Back to Batoche
    Jul 18, 2014 10:22 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    National Metis President Clem Chartier speaks at the opening of "Back to Batoche" festival in the historic Metis homeland
    Jul 18, 2014 9:55 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Mike Duffy will have to account for his misbehaviour, but the tougher questions are about the PMO's role in this fiasco. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ralph-goodale/mike-duffy-charged_b_5596971.html
    Jul 17, 2014 5:56 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    via Ralph Goodale
    Jul 17, 2014 12:47 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    THE KEY QUESTION: WHO APPOINTED MIKE DUFFY? It’s a terribly sad day for Parliament when a Member of the Senate gets hauled before the criminal courts to face 31 charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. The formal trial of Mike Duffy is about to begin. But his personal fate is no longer “the main event”. Duffy fell from grace in the eyes of Canadians a long time ago. His unravelling circumstances have become almost farcical. The most important aspects of this painful saga are now his intimate interconnections with the Prime Minister, the Conservative Party and the Harper government. The damage Duffy has done flows directly from the fact that he was a duly appointed Senator – i.e., a legislator in the Parliament of Canada. So who put him there? Who gave him that position? Stephen Harper cannot escape responsibility. He demonstrated enormously bad judgment in making Duffy a Senator. Furthermore, what was Duffy’s mandate in the Senate? What did the Prime Minister want him to do? Was he there primarily to represent the interests of Prince Edward Island, his original home, but a province in which he had not actually lived for some decades? Or was he, first and foremost, a political personality and fund-raiser for the Conservative Party? And after Mr. Harper’s favourite Senator ran so badly amuck, what about the management of the crisis he had created? What did the Prime Minister know and when did he know it? What did he do about it? What questions did he ask to get to the bottom of it? Was a scheme hatched to influence the course of a forensic audit of Duffy’s affairs and edit a Senate report about that audit? Who’s scheme was it and who executed it? Was Duffy coached to provide misleading information about his situation? If so, by whom? Why would the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff (Nigel Wright) think it appropriate to make a $90,000 payment to Duffy? What sort of operating culture in the PMO would trigger that sort of reasoning? Who else in the Prime Minister’s Office, or the Senate, or the Conservative Party had any knowledge of Duffy’s situation and/or played any role in handling it? Apart from Mr. Wright, why has no one else been disciplined? These and many other questions have been asked of Mr. Harper repeatedly. His response is always to deny, deflect and obfuscate. Canadians need their Prime Minister to provide fulsome, accurate answers. It seems a criminal proceeding in a court of law is the only way to get all relevant testimony on the record under oath.
    Jul 17, 2014 12:11 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Interesting note: over the last 18 months, unemployment has come down in all G7 countries, except Canada and Italy
    Jul 17, 2014 5:22 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Cyclists with Global Aid Network arrive at Discovery Baptist Church, Regina en route across Canada, raising $$$ for clean water
    Jul 14, 2014 7:09 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Feeble + worsening job numbers show again that Mr Harper's economic "plan" isn't working for most Canadians http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ralph-goodale/harper-economy-jobs_b_5582831.html
    Jul 14, 2014 11:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    JOB NUMBERS EXPOSE A STALLING ECONOMY Stephen Harper continues to have the worst economic growth record of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett in the 1930's, and the most recent employment statistics, for June, confirm yet again that most of the Canadian economy is stalling. About 16,000 new people entered the labour force nationally last month, but actual employment moved in the opposite direction. Over 9,000 jobs were lost, driving overall Canadian unemployment up by some 25,000 (not including those who have given up looking for work altogether). The situation for young Canadians is especially bleak. There were 44,000 fewer jobs in June for those under 25. Conservatives dismiss these numbers as mere "monthly volatility", but that doesn't wash. The picture over the long-term is no better and, in fact, it's getting worse. Last January, Statistics Canada revealed the national job market had generated a paltry 99,000 new jobs in all of Canada in all of 2013 -- well below what's required to keep pace with normal population growth. Worse still, according to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, 95% of those jobs were only part-time. Now, six months later, the total number of new jobs created in Canada over the past year (June-to-June) was an even more paltry 72,000, and virtually all of that was in just one province (Alberta). The national economy is in the doldrums. As Justin Trudeau has been saying for months, Canada needs a growth agenda. Mr. Harper's fixation on austerity, to the exclusion of everything else, is weak and wrong-headed -- it's solely to feed his political vanity by concocting the appearance of a balanced budget on the eve of a federal election. Government management must, of course, be prudent and strong. There's no room for sloth -- like Mr. Harper's wasteful multi-million dollar spending on tax-paid partisan advertising. But at a time when consumer demand is tapped-out by record household debt, private sector expansion is stymied by a lack of business confidence and Canada's trade balance is chronically in deficit -- the federal government needs an agenda to foster greater economic growth and more jobs. There are various ways to do that, including investments in much better access to post-secondary education of all kinds (universities, colleges, technical schools, apprenticeships, on-the-job up-skilling, etc.) and aggressive support for science and innovation. But the leading priority is probably public infrastructure. The federal Finance Department says investing in infrastructure is the single most cost-effective way to drive more jobs and growth. Statistics Canada says the periods when Canada has made its biggest productivity gains have corresponded with the largest public investments in infrastructure. Former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge says it's fiscally irresponsible to fail to invest in essential infrastructure at a time when interest rates are cheaper than ever, and that short-term advantage can be converted into long-term capital assets. The provinces all agree. So do municipalities. And the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. And private sector think-tanks. Only the Harper government is off-side. They've actually chopped their flag-ship infrastructure investment fund this year by 87%. They've delayed three-quarters of it until after 2019. And they've complicated the rules to make it slow and hard to access. Why? All to help concoct the impression of a federal surplus for 2015. The great irony is this -- investing now in infrastructure and solid, long-term economic growth is the best way to secure a strong foundation for genuine surplus budgets that can endure, year-after-year. But that's not Mr. Harper's way. His only imperative is "looking good" for an election in 2015. To him, that means claiming a surplus, no matter how temporary or artificial. Never mind the nation's sputtering economy or tens of thousands of Canadians out-of-work.
    Jul 14, 2014 6:06 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    A great evening yesterday in Wascana Park with people celebrating Intercultural Dialogue in our diverse community.
    Jul 14, 2014 4:32 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Water down 54" since the peak a week ago, but still a long way to go in the recovery from flooding in Sask's Qu'Appelle Valley.
    Jul 13, 2014 4:07 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Lots of folks out today at the 17th annual "Secret Garden Tour" in Regina, supporting New Dance Horizons
    Jul 12, 2014 2:23 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Quelques réflexions sur les élections partielles – belle progression des libéraux, mais il reste encore beaucoup à faire. http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/ralph-goodale/elections-partielles-parti-liberal-canada_b_5568042.html
    Jul 09, 2014 9:29 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    NEEDED: A PRAIRIE WATER & WEATHER STRATEGY With so many people across a broad swath of Saskatchewan and Manitoba grappling with the consequences of heavy rains and sudden summer flooding, everyone's attention right now is riveted on helping those at risk, mitigating damages, cleaning up the mess, proper compensation arrangements, and then the long task of rebuilding. In typical prairie fashion, all hands are willingly on deck to do whatever is necessary to alleviate the emergency and deal with its aftermath. Not including the negative economic impact of having thousands of hectares of farmland out-of-production and a large portion of the oil patch inaccessible, Premier Wall is estimating out-of-pocket costs in Saskatchewan far exceeding $360-million. He has asked the federal government for a $100-million "cash advance", to help speed compensation payments to victims. The Feds need to get that cash flowing quickly, just as Canadian military personnel were put into action quickly in Manitoba when Premier Selinger asked for help in strengthening dikes along the Assiniboine River. Much more will be required in both provinces, but assistance efforts are underway. For the longer term, many people are wondering whether we have to be as vulnerable to such water and weather-related damages as we seem to be. Saskatchewan faced a similar situation with storms and floods in 2011. Last year there was massive devastation caused by rampaging waters in Calgary and across southern Alberta. And it wasn't that long ago that the problem was the opposite -- i.e., extreme drought conditions causing hardship. Whether it's too much or too little, nothing stirs more prairie agitation than water. It's increasingly difficult for the skeptics to dismiss the recurring reality of far more frequent and extreme weather events. Some provinces, many municipalities, a number of important players in the private sector and a large percentage of Canadians agree that some form of "climate change" is real and must be treated seriously. Only the federal government remains in denial. But without wading too deeply into that issue right now, as important as it is, what should governments have on their agendas immediately to reduce future risks and mitigate losses? The Saskatchewan government is talking about some better way of handling unauthorized on-farm drainage that ultimately flows cross-country. We'll see what comes of that. What else? At the federal level, the Doppler weather radar system is now old technology. It's prone to failure, like the Doppler station at Bethune which has had chronic problems for the last four years. Also, the network of stations is too sparse. And there is no comprehensive way to push out vital warnings to the general public. This could be much improved. And what about emergency planning, training and overall preparedness? Federal budget cuts ended a long-standing program which local governments had relied upon for years to help get themselves ready to cope with natural disasters and other emergencies. This could be re-examined. The loss of PFRA should also be reconsidered. Over the past five years, the federal government dismantled the historic Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration which, since the Dirty Thirties, provided the best western expertise in water and soil conservation and management. PFRA also ran community pastures, operated a prairie tree farm and provided world-class flood prevention and control measures. And on another front, federal infrastructure programming has been reduced, delayed and made more difficult to access. This year's funding for the flagship "Building Canada Fund" has been cut by 87% and won't get back to last year's level until after 2019. There could be much more priority given to urgent transformative infrastructure investments that will help anticipate and withstand recurring severe weather and water disruptions. Where do things like this rank on YOUR list of public policy priorities?
    Jul 07, 2014 6:02 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    A great Wimbledon for Eugenie Bouchard - all the way to the final, a first for a Canadian. And years still yet to come! Congrats!
    Jul 05, 2014 7:57 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

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Ralph Goodale

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