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August

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    MPlib
    I look forward to celebrating India's Independence Day today with the highly respected India-Canada Association in Regina http://www.liberal.ca/newsroom/news-release/statement-liberal-party-canada-leader-justin-trudeau-indias-independence-day-2/
    Aug 16, 2014 6:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here's some good practical advice
    Aug 15, 2014 6:22 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Very solid discussion about water/flood/drought issues today with Justin Trudeau in Saskatoon engaging the University of Saskatchewan, APAS and the former PFRA. These water talks are start of a much bigger dialogue about what we all need to do together to minimize risks and maximize benefits.
    Aug 14, 2014 4:19 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    HOW TO MAKE WATER A CONSISTENT PRAIRIE ASSET? Thunder storms pounded the Regina area this past weekend with more wind and heavy rain. Property damage was significant in places like White City as severe prairie weather patterns continue. In late June, extraordinary rainfall flooded southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba. Farmland was inundated. Much of the oil patch was rendered inaccessible. Roads, bridges and other public infrastructure were damaged. Many homes and businesses were severely impaired. The losses will tally hundreds of millions of dollars. All this follows the most costly inundation in Canadian history just last year in southern Alberta and previous large floods across the eastern prairies in 2011. Prior to that, 2009 was a drought year in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while Manitoba had floods. The period from 2000 to 2004 was reported to be the driest across the West in 800 years. When you're talking about water, nothing is more vital to prairie life and livelihoods. It's extremely variable, from far too much of it to far too little, and getting more so with the compounding impacts of climate change. It's highly controversial and expensive. And it affects everyone, including every type and level of government. When you're in the midst of those debilitating drought years, it's frustrating to think of years like this one when too much water surged across the countryside without much apparent planning, control, forecasting or even last minute warnings. And that frustration works in the opposite direction too. So what can be done to improve our knowledge of these water cycles from flood to drought and back again? Are they becoming more extreme and frequent as part of climate change? What should be done to better predict significant weather patterns and provide the public with timely warnings of what's coming? Are we using the best weather radar technology? Is the network comprehensive? Are we up-to-date or behind the curve on forecasting floods? Is the most effective public infrastructure in place to withstand increasingly violent weather patterns? What about on-farm drainage issues? Are the rules sufficient and clear? Are landowners following those rules? Does enforcement need to be strengthened? Should some land use incentives be developed? Where do natural wetlands fit into our prairie-wide eco-system? What role do they play in flood mitigation? Are they being debilitated? Should all governments be working better together, and in cooperation with the private sector, on a comprehensive water strategy for the prairies - to better understand, conserve, manage and develop our precious water resources? Can we channel and save flood waters more constructively? What new water infrastructure would that take? Why has the uptake on the original vision for Gardiner Dam and Lake Diefenbaker been so limited? Is there more genuine potential for irrigation and water-based economic development? What about water quality and community water security - especially for rural, remote and Aboriginal communities? Why did the Government of Canada eliminate the "Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration" which had, over 75 years, earned a sterling reputation as one of the world's pre-eminent authorities in water management, conservation, development and flood control? What would a modern PFRA look like to help fit the needs of the 21st century? How best can all governments collaborate? These are just a few of many vital questions about water risks and benefits, and related public policy considerations. To begin a constructive dialogue about these issues, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will be in Saskatoon later this week to meet with water experts from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as farm leaders and some of those who previously led PFRA. The Government of Canada has a useful role to play. Justin wants to ensure we get it right.
    Aug 11, 2014 7:34 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer open final night of Regina Folk Festival #RFF14 in Victoria Park.
    Aug 10, 2014 6:01 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Main stage crowd now filling up Regina Folk Festival #RFF14 grounds, bit soggy, but no more rain in forecast
    Aug 09, 2014 4:43 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Deluge last night washed out SamRoberts, but big crowd back at Regina Folk Festival #RFF14 today - Senera Ryder tonight
    Aug 09, 2014 4:43 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Line-up for 45th Regina FolkFestival #RFF14, headlined by SamRoberts, SerenaRyder + Los Lobos
    Aug 08, 2014 6:21 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Big crowd as usual gathering in Victoria Park for the first night of Regina's Folk Festival - Sam Roberts headlining at 10:45 #RFF14
    Aug 08, 2014 5:05 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    HARPER’S ECONOMIC POLICIES CONTINUE TO PRODUCE DISMAL RESULTS In July, a net gain of just 200 jobs – that’s right, two hundred – in this whole country. And all of them part-time. Thank you Stephen Harper! These latest employment statistics, released today, continue the Harper government’s record of dismal mediocrity. While Canada’s overall working-age population continued to grow, the number of people actively looking for work (i.e., the “participation rate”) dropped by 0.2%, meaning another 35,400 Canadians just gave up looking for work. Equally bad, the national economy continues to lose full-time jobs – by close to 60,000 in July. While these were replaced by part-time employment, job quality and job security clearly continue to dwindle. Senior private sector economists are describing July’s jobs report as “shocking”. In particular, they point to the weakening labour force participation rate and the growing discouragement among the unemployed. Confidence and hope are low. But not even counting those who have dropped out, there are more than 1.3 million jobless Canadians today. That’s 220,000 more than before the 2008 recession. Some recovery. This is what you get with Mr. Harper who seems content to have the worst record on economic growth of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett.
    Aug 08, 2014 9:21 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PFRA? In the aftermath of severe flooding across a big portion of southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba this summer, a number of prairie people have asked why their best longstanding water expert -- the PFRA -- is absent from the scene. Why isn't this highly valued federal agency helping with the recovery? The short answer is this: PFRA no longer exists. Stephen Harper killed it! Gone to ruin is the historic "Tree Farm" at Indian Head. Gone (or going) are the community pastures. Gone are the water engineers and the best hydrology brains in North America. Gone are the soil conservation experts. Gone are the community development officers. All trashed in Mr. Harper's frenzied budget cutting. Ironically, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was created by the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett in 1935 as an emergency response to the Dirty Thirties. Later that same year, when Saskatchewan's Jimmy Gardiner began his tenure as the longest-serving federal Agriculture Minister in Canadian history, he embraced PFRA as the leading instrument of rural development in western Canada and built it into the most respected federal institution on the Prairies. For three-quarters of a century, PFRA was an integral part of prairie life, providing much of the brainpower and financing to rebuild the region after the dust-bowl era, and then properly manage and care for its precious soil and water resources over the long-term. But none of that mattered to Mr. Harper. Over the past five years, he slashed PFRA into oblivion -- all to help him claim he can balance his budget in 2015, just in time for an election. Let's be very clear. Balancing the federal books is important, but there is no fiscal or economic magic in imposing some artificial deadline in the spring of 2015. Every serious financial expert in this country agrees. That deadline is entirely political, not economic. The timing is contrived exclusively to suit Mr. Harper's partisan convenience. So it was not necessary to kill PFRA. Indeed, it was foolishly short-sighted, because this was an extremely effective agency dedicated to the growth, sustainability and prosperity of rural Canada. Without that kind of smart growth, both rural and urban, average middle class Canadians will not be able to attain the better quality of life they seek, nor will governments be able to balance their books on any sound or durable basis. Sustained and sustainable growth is the prime requirement. This is a government that believes nothing of real or growing value ever comes from public investment. The evidence of their destructive ideology extends far beyond PFRA. Veterans and returning soldiers are short-changed on their benefits and services. Pensions for the most vulnerable seniors are being reduced. Youth employment efforts in the federal public service have dropped by one-third. Investments in community infrastructure through the "Building Canada" fund have been chopped by 87%. Environmental protection and food safety have been undermined. Military procurements have been botched and delayed. The casualty list goes on: Maritime search and rescue, prison security, forensic labs, immigration offices, trade services, emergency planning and preparedness, National Parks and Historic Sites, the census, social benefit appeals, weather forecasting, aboriginal education ... and much more. Yes, governments must be constantly alert and pro-active on ways to ensure all programs and services are relevant, necessary and cost-effective. Tough decisions are always necessary to select priorities. But there is a vital difference between intelligent, prudent, fiscally responsible management and the vain scorched-earth mentality of the Harper regime. And here's another important question: Why has something of proven value like PFRA been obliterated while Mr. Harper spends increasing millions on government advertising, a bloated Cabinet and his own personal bodyguards?
    Aug 08, 2014 6:04 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here's more evidence that Canadians are getting weary of HarperCon smears http://www.montrealgazette.com/Editorial+Tories+haven+grasped+cost+wedge+politics/10098014/story.html
    Aug 07, 2014 1:31 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    A new low for the Conservatives. Please share to fight back against their attacks on Justin Trudeau.
    Aug 07, 2014 1:09 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Trade deals aside, here's the record for the last 20 years. Liberals always in surplus, Conservatives mostly in deficit
    Aug 06, 2014 1:49 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Provinces need a reliable infrastructure partner federally. But Stephen Harper has chopped his Building Canada Fund by 87% . Fewer than half a dozen new projects across the whole country have been announced so far in 2014 under the New Building Canada Fund. The summer construction season has been lost. The provinces are having great difficulty concluding overall agreements with Harper government to govern these projects. Access to the fund is slow, complicated. New rules limit ways municipalities can use available dollars. No firm amount of the Building Canada Fund is earmarked for municipalities. They are forced to compete against other government entities, like universities. The federal stall on infrastructure is strange since the federal Finance department says such investment are the most cost-effective way to drive jobs and growth + Statistics Canada says our best productivity growth comes when our infrastructure investments are highest + Former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge says failing to invest now in infrastructure is foolish fiscal policy since interest rates are rock bottom. http://www.cp24.com/news/premier-wynne-pushes-feds-for-more-infrastructure-money-1.1948111
    Aug 06, 2014 7:41 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Check this blog on iPolitics about new grain transportation regulations. Will they make a difference? http://www.ipolitics.ca/2014/08/05/grain-regs-confirm-chronic-policy-failures/
    Aug 05, 2014 3:21 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Under a blazing sun, St Teresa Middle School choir singing Tipperary at WW1 commemoration in Regina
    Aug 04, 2014 2:18 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    This massive poppy, painted by Regina's Belinda Kriek, is particularly impressive today on the 100th anniversary of WW1.
    Aug 04, 2014 12:03 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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Ralph Goodale

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