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February

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    MPlib
    Fast-moving Lion Dancers open Lunar New Year celebration tonight hosted by Regina Chinese Benevolent Association
    Feb 21, 2015 5:11 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Proud to join a great many Reginans in celebrating Heritage Languages Day in Sask #imld
    Feb 21, 2015 11:17 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Athletes' Oath and Torch at the official opening of Sask Special Olympics Winter Games.
    Feb 20, 2015 6:58 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Big crowd of athletes, coaches, volunteers + families celebrate the opening of Sask Special Olympics Winter Games in Regina!
    Feb 20, 2015 6:57 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    HarperCons have increased federal government debt by $157 billion, increased taxes in last 5 budgets + slashed services (for Veterans, public safety, etc). And what do Canadians have to show for it? A "no growth" economy. Weak job creation. More Inequality. And no sign of a Budget!
    Feb 20, 2015 9:35 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period: the Harper government says giving the biggest Income Splitting tax break to those at $233,000 is best they can do for fairness. The Harper government is oblivious to stagnant middle-class incomes, household debt at 164%, three-quarters of Canadians without a private pension. Late Minister Flaherty said this Income Splitting scheme is too expensive ($12 billion over planning cycle) + unfair (only 14% of households qualify).
    Feb 20, 2015 8:43 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here's an exchange on the economy from QP today. Just the usual spin from the government. http://youtu.be/wO6F7AN8iy0
    Feb 19, 2015 12:29 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Despite recession forecasts in 2 provinces, shrinking national GDP and $28 billion in capital fleeing Canada - HarperCons again delay the budget. In the 9 years before 2006 (with a Liberal government), Canada generated more than 3-million net new jobs; in the 9 years since then (under Conservatives)--less than half that. The G20, IMF, Bank of Canada, PBO, the Premiers and Municipalities, CD Howe, Canada West, Chamber of Commerce, CLC and others all say invest more in Infrastructure.
    Feb 19, 2015 11:46 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Justin Trudeau just delivered a strong speech in House of Commons on new Anti-Terror law - specifying what's right + what needs fixing in C-51.
    Feb 18, 2015 2:20 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Economic growth, fairness and opportunity are the focus of a Liberal government under Justin Trudeau - great post by Ralph Goodale. https://www.facebook.com/ralphgoodale/posts/10152707487810897
    Feb 16, 2015 8:27 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    A POWERFUL MESSAGE ABOUT GROWTH & FAIRNESS While Stephen Harper revs up his election themes about fear, insecurity and lower expectations, Justin Trudeau's core message is about economic growth, fairness and better opportunities. The contrast is powerful -- in Mr. Trudeau's favour. Mr. Harper is saying that Canadians need to settle for mediocrity. He's been in office for more than nine years now. Nearly six years have passed since the end of the 2008 recession. And most people are still struggling. On Mr. Harper's watch, annual economic growth has averaged just 1.7%, the worst record of any Prime Minister in 80 years. Job creation is anemic. Job quality is declining. Middle-class earnings are flat, and for every dollar of disposable income, the average household is carrying $1.64 in debt. Three-quarters of those working in the private sector don't have a company pension. Of those within 10-years of retirement, the vast majority have savings of less than $100,000. The average 35-year old today is able to save only about half of what their parents did. A majority of parents are worried about affording post-secondary education for their kids, whether that's at university, college, technical school or apprenticeships. Many also have significant family care expenses, either for young children, elderly relatives, or both. In 40% of "empty-nester" households, their adult children have moved back home (or never left) because they haven't been able to make a go of it on their own. The Bank of Canada says more than 200,000 young Canadians are jobless or under-employed. According to the Conference Board, a majority of Canadians believe the younger generation today will not be able to do as well as their parents. The expectation of progress -- of upward mobility -- from one generation to the next cannot be taken for granted anymore. So for most Canadians, much of the past decade has been disappointing. And the same is true of Mr. Harper's reaction. He denies the realities confronting the middle-class and all those working so hard just to get there. He shirks federal responsibilities in such serious fields as health care, pensions, services to veterans and public safety. And he contrives special tax breaks skewed for the wealthy. That's just not good enough. Canada needs a plan to drive greater growth and fairness. That means investments in better access to higher learning, science and innovation, effective trade and marketing, the smartest possible intersection between energy development and the environment, and truly transformative public infrastructure. Who says so? The G-20, the International Monetary Fund, the Bank of Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Premiers, Municipalities, every major think-tank from the C.D. Howe Institute to the Canada-West Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Labour Congress ... the list goes on. They all identify investments in public infrastructure as crucial. With interest rates so low, former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge says this is an historic opportunity to convert that unique cost advantage into long-term capital assets -- stimulating good jobs today and laying the foundation for a better economy tomorrow. Statistics Canada says whenever investments in public infrastructure go up, so does Canadian productivity. Even the federal Department of Finance has identified building essential infrastructure as the single most cost-effective way to drive jobs and growth. And for fairness, a good start would be dropping Mr. Harper's ill-conceived Income Splitting scheme that will provide it's biggest $2000/year tax break to those earning $233,000. Only 14% of Canadian households can ever qualify for Mr. Harper's scheme. But Income Splitting will cost all other taxpayers more than $12-billion over this government's planning cycle. As the late Jim Flaherty said, it is far too expensive and grossly unfair. And it does nothing for greater growth.
    Feb 16, 2015 5:51 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Justin Trudeau + Jean Chretien will lead today's national celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Canada's Flag http://www.liberal.ca/statement-by-liberal-party-of-canada-leader-justin-trudeau-on-national-flag-day/
    Feb 15, 2015 7:33 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Sunday, February 15th, 2015 - this is the 50th anniversary of Canada's Red Maple Leaf Flag. Happy Birthday! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02utnr8LL-0&feature=youtu.be
    Feb 15, 2015 3:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Feb 12, 2015 3:15 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Very large crowd out to hear Mayor Fougere's 2015 State of the City Address - hosted by Regina's Wascana Kiwanis Club
    Feb 11, 2015 10:24 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    It's wise to resist the Harper regime's scare tactics http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ralph-goodale/harper-economy-crisis_b_6652226.html
    Feb 10, 2015 4:16 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Today, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Canada's Red Maple Leaf Flag, I'm delivering posters to every school in Wascana. Also included are flag pins and decals, a copy of the Royal Proclamation from 1965, and a real flag for each school's flagpole. The actual date is Sunday, February 15th. A great legacy from Lester B. Pearson. Happy 50th Birthday to the Red Maple Leaf!
    Feb 10, 2015 6:33 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    IT'S NOT A "CRISIS", BUT IT'S CERTAINLY A MESS To reinforce his obvious campaign themes about fear and insecurity, Stephen Harper has taken to describing Canada's current economic situation as a "crisis". If that's his pitch, one should ask on whose watch did this so-called "crisis" develop? And why is Canada so vulnerable – after more than nine years of Harper government and nearly 6 years after the recession officially ended? Our country is no doubt in an economic mess, but calling it a "crisis" is simply a scare tactic. It says more about Mr. Harper than about the economy. De-energized and often incoherent, his government doesn't seem to know what to do about Canada's challenges, so they've punted their budget into another fiscal year. The crisis here is one of leadership – nine years of hyper-partisan mediocrity. And on closer examination, several other strong words come to mind to depict this government's performance: Reckless – How else could you portray a new government in 2006 that inherited (from Liberal predecessors) the most robust fiscal standing in the western world and squandered it in just two years, putting Canada back into deficit again while the global economy was still thriving. In denial – A bit later, with the 2008 recession clearly looming, instead of preparing Canadians for what lay ahead, Mr. Harper deliberately misled them. He denied there would be a recession or any risk of a deficit. He prescribed austerity as his only policy and falsely projected five more surplus budgets. Incompetent and deceitful – That's the description provided by the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget Officer about the Harper government's bungled acquisition of F-35 fighter-jets for the airforce. The costs ballooned from $9-billion to nearly $50-billion or more, and Canada still doesn’t have a single new plane. Gross mismanagement – That's a kind way to characterize the Temporary Foreign Workers debacle. This government took a suite of programs that had been reasonably successful over some 30 years and totally screwed them up, with no reliable labour market data, no monitoring or enforcement, woefully insufficient pathways to citizenship and no solutions for employers still strapped for workers. Unconscionable waste – Through an avalanche of tax-paid government advertising, an endless string of external consultants, a bloated Cabinet, lavish Ministerial offices, and a humongous Prime Minister's Office, this costly government must rank as the most self-indulgent in history. Partisan bias – They took funds approved for border crossings and used them instead for ornamental gazebos and sidewalks to nowhere, just to puff-up one Minister's riding. They created a program to help the disabled, but skewed it to favour Conservative MPs. They made big promises to Veterans for which Parliament voted the money, and then they clawed back more than a billion dollars just to help Mr. Harper concoct the appearance of a balanced budget. Blind ideology – Think of the destruction of the Census which is steadily eroding Canada's database for sensible decision-making. Think of government scientists who have been muzzled and then de-funded. These are just two examples of a government driven by prejudice, not evidence. Dereliction of duty -- It's a fundamental obligation of the federal government to get Canadian products to world market, but the Harper regime has presided over two major market access failures. Their dysfunctional grain handling and transportation system cost farmers over $5-billion last year. And for all their bravado about energy exports, the Conservatives have failed on every major pipeline proposal they've ever touched – nine years and not one inch of progress. Perverse priorities -- With an average economic growth rate of just 1.7% per year since he took power in 2006, Mr. Harper has the worst growth record of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett in the Dirty Thirties. You'd think he might want to invest in better growth, like transformative community infrastructure. But no, he's chopped a multi-billion dollar hole in his "Building Canada Fund", delaying three-quarters of it until after 2019. Instead, he's planning to spend more than $12-billion on an Income Splitting scheme for wealthier families. None other than the late Jim Flaherty panned this scheme as too expensive and unfair since 86% of Canadian households will never be able to qualify, and among those who do, the biggest benefits go to the most wealthy. The list could go on. The good news about this litany of Conservative failure is that it can be fixed – just as soon as Canadians have the opportunity to choose a new and better government.
    Feb 09, 2015 9:57 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Chinese Freemasons' New Years Gala this weekend in Regina is raising funds for the Hospitals Foundation - Pediatric Care!
    Feb 08, 2015 3:57 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    One of the performances tonight at Chinese New Years celebration in Regina hosted by Chinese Freemasons
    Feb 07, 2015 6:03 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Feb 07, 2015 6:03 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    SECURITY & FREEDOM: TREAT BOTH SERIOUSLY The prime responsibility of any government in a free democracy is to look after the safety and security of the people it serves, while equally safeguarding the liberties and values that define such a democracy and its way of life. That's why Canadians are intensely interested in the federal government's new Bill C-51 -- the new law the Prime Minister promised in the wake of last October's deadly attacks on military officers in Quebec and Ottawa and on Parliament Hill. The Bill came out last week. Among other things, it deals with information sharing, restricted access to air travel, peace bonds, the unlawful promotion of terrorism, preventative arrests, security certificates and expanded powers for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). It's massive. Liberals will treat it with the utmost seriousness. Having been in government in the wake of other terrorist events, we have an understanding of the tough issues and sensitivities involved. Because this Bill takes some necessary steps to help keep Canadians safe, we will support it. But we will also identify its failings, ask pertinent questions and propose ways in which it should be improved. We'll look carefully, for example, at the scope and focus of the new law, and at its efficacy -- how will it help achieve that collective security we need in order for the individual freedoms we cherish to thrive? Do CSIS and the RCMP have sufficient staff, expertise, technical capacity and financial resources to do the work being asked of them? Is the interface between these two agencies clear and efficient? Do we have a robust plan to stop radicalization before it takes root? How well are we reaching out to vulnerable communities, such as Canadian Muslims, who want to help prevent radicalization and the gross distortion of their faith? Most importantly, when legislation impinges on the liberties that Canadian citizenship confers, it is the government's duty to ensure that its new powers are not abused. So how can we enhance accountability and provide mandatory reviews and oversight? In this connection, note that the existing review agency (the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC)) has only a small staff, its membership has been depleted by vacancies, and its credibility has suffered from the appointment of dubious characters like Arthur Porter (now in jail in Panama) as its Chair. SIRC is due for substantial upgrading. Immediately after those shocking incidents in Quebec and Ottawa last October, the initial reaction of all of Canada's political leaders was exemplary. Partisanship was set aside. Everyone was reaching out to support one another. Everyone put the public interest -- the interests of all Canadians together -- above politics. The foundation was laid for a genuine consensus about how better to safeguard Canadian lives and liberties. But sadly it didn't last. In other countries, like the US, Britain, Australia, France and others, their governments reached across the entire political spectrum to consult and listen and build the strongest common ground for responding to senseless acts of violence, hatred and terror. But in Canada, Mr. Harper's government chose to proceed unilaterally. There was no engagement across Party lines to shape needed legislation in unison. The new powers for CSIS should have been announced by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons to all citizens at once, not at a political campaign rally where a majority of Canadians would be excluded. The media briefing was chaotic - one reporter described it as "Orwellian". And after the fact, in Question Period in Parliament, those who questioned aspects of the proposed new law were dismissed as "soft on terror". All of this is deeply unfortunate. Public safety and national security should not be treated as political wedge issues to drive people and Parties apart. Every effort should be made to pull all Canadians together in common cause. What's at stake is extremely serious. It is crucial to get it right -- that vital intersection between smart security that is strong and effective and the democratic values that define who we are as Canadians. All the best knowledge and ideas need to be sought, and the broadest possible public understanding and support obtained. Our proposed Liberal amendments to C-51 will be legitimately non-partisan and very much in tune with what Canadians would want to see in legislation of this kind. We hope the government will support them. Failing that, we will soon have the opportunity to offer them in an election platform.
    Feb 06, 2015 10:41 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    No.9! Mr Hockey! The greatest of them all! Gordie Howe! Welcome home to Saskatchewan today!
    Feb 06, 2015 7:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Looking forward to meeting with energy sector leaders in Calgary today - with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
    Feb 05, 2015 3:35 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Most of today's Question Period was about the Economy (which has begun to shrink), but Finance Minister Oliver fails to have anything to say
    Feb 04, 2015 12:19 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Mr Harper's debt - household debt now at 164% of personal income; and his government's new federal debt since 2006 at $5000/person.
    Feb 04, 2015 12:04 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, Mr. Harper brags about the Build Canada infrastructure fund, but 87% was cut this year + 75% won't be invested until after 2019. Mr. Harper says he's for economic growth, but his growth record at 1.7%/year on average is the worst since RB Bennett in 1930s. StatsCda has slashed the job numbers it reported for 2014 by fully one-third + its latest GDP figures show a shrinking economy.
    Feb 04, 2015 11:46 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Good honest data! Parliament can correct this foolish mistake today by voting FOR Liberal Ted Hsu's Census Bill http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-dropping-long-form-census-caused-predicted-damage-1.1748528
    Feb 04, 2015 11:31 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    22 Minutes' Mark Critch was prowling the halls of Parliament today. He found some Liberals. Watch the next show for why.
    Feb 03, 2015 4:32 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, Stephen Harper says the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) is sufficient "oversight" for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). But SIRC's annual report in 2014 (signed by Reformer Deb Grey) said SIRC doesn't do "oversight" at all - it's not their mandate. Further, the Harper government leaves SIRC with lengthy vacancies and appoints people like Arthur Porter (now in jail in Panama) to be SIRC Chair.
    Feb 03, 2015 11:46 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, two major themes: the Canadian economy is steadily sinking into more trouble + Harper govt thinks supervising spies is "Red Tape". Statistics Canada's latest "growth" numbers show a shrinking economy, and reported job creation in 2014 slashed by one-third. How can the Harper government - which appointed Arthur Porter (now in jail) to head SIRC - be trusted to provide decent supervision of CSIS?
    Feb 02, 2015 11:43 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Lots of interest in this assessment of Mr. Harper's fiscal record http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ralph-goodale/harper-fiscal-reputation_b_6591064.html
    Feb 02, 2015 10:58 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    COMPARING FISCAL COMPETENCE: BRING IT ON! With Canada's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) actually shrinking and despite having the worst economic growth record of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett, Stephen Harper seems keen to brag about the fiscal reputation of his Conservative Party. Well, let's take a close look. To begin with, here's an interesting question: How many Conservative Prime Ministers in all of the 20th century presented Canada with balanced budgets? Answer: Only one! It was Robert Borden in 1912. Like Mr. Harper, he inherited a surplus from his Liberal predecessor (Wilfrid Laurier) and, again like Mr. Harper, it was quickly gone. On his first day as Prime Minister in 2006, Stephen Harper was handed a thriving economy that was growing at 3-percent per year or better. Close to 3.5-million net new jobs had been created over the previous 10 years. We had a consistent trade surplus. Both consumer and business confidence were high. The federal government's books were solidly balanced. The country had ended a quarter of a century of chronic deficits and had recorded a decade of surpluses. As a result, both taxes and debt were falling faster than ever before. In fact, Canada's debt ratio (i.e., the size of the federal debt compared to the size of the economy overall) had been slashed in half -- down from nearly 70-percent of GDP in the mid-1990s to about 34-percent by 2006. The Canada Pension Plan had been rejuvenated on a sound actuarial foundation for the next 75 years. The Canadian banking system was the strongest in the world. Federal Transfer Payments to the provinces were at an all-time record high, and the country was making transformative new investments in benefits for children and families; the renewal of medicare; better access to higher education and advanced skills; ground-breaking science, research and innovation; more modern public infrastructure; a more secure and healthy environment; effective global trade and marketing; and novel measures to narrow the painful life-gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. The "new" Harper government trashed a number of these initiatives and walked away from others. On the financial side of things, they quickly squandered Canada's hard-earned fiscal strength. Mr. Harper overspent by three-times the rate of inflation. He eliminated all the contingency reserves and prudence factors that had served as fiscal "shock absorbers" to get Canada successfully through untoward events like international currency crises, the SARS pandemic and 9-11. And he put this country back into deficit again BEFORE the recession arrived in the latter part of 2008. Mr. Harper likes to claim the recession "created" his deficit, but that's not correct. He put Canada into the red all on his own. The recession a bit later no doubt made it much worse, but Mr. Harper was the one who left Canada exposed and vulnerable. After a few months of denying the recession, insisting on more austerity as his only policy and projecting five years of fictitious surpluses, Mr. Harper finally had to concede (in early 2009) that he had been all wrong. He launched a belated stimulus plan. But it got so bogged down in hyper-partisanship that most of it didn't get delivered until after the recession was officially over. The legacy of this travesty is nearly $160-billion in new Harper debt. That makes Stephen Harper responsible for fully one-quarter of all the outstanding federal debt created since Confederation. It works out to just under $5,000 for every man, woman and newborn child in Canada today. And how has he tried to deal with that burden? By clawing-back funds that had been promised by the government and approved by Parliament to help vulnerable groups like Veterans. By fire sales of federal assets like community pastures across the Prairies and a valuable, historic tree nursery in Saskatchewan. By undermining environmental protection, disaster management, search and rescue, food inspection, police and security services, forensic labs, even the supervision of Canadian spies, and other elements of public health and safety. By cutting and postponing urgent investments in municipal infrastructure, housing and even National Defence. By pulling back future investments in health care and old age security. By hiking and then freezing Employment Insurance premiums at excessively high levels. By increasing -- by billions of dollars -- the federal taxes extracted from Canadians in every one of his last five budgets. And what is all this in aid of? So Mr. Harper can concoct a "balanced budget" for the 2015 election and proceed with his pet project -- Income Splitting for wealthier families. To judge this scheme, it's wise to recall the insightful criticisms of Mr. Harper's former Finance Minister, the late Jim Flaherty, who said this particular tax break is just too expensive and unfair. Income splitting will cost more than $12-billion over the government's current planning cycle, and it's benefits will go to just 14% of Canadian households -- 86% can never qualify. The wealthy will gain the most. The biggest winners will be those earning $233,000. This is not a fiscal record to boast about.
    Feb 02, 2015 4:45 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

January

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    MPlib
    See this. While CPR's CEO is having a hissy fit about the AG Transport Coalition, he cannot refute their data http://www.ipolitics.ca/2015/01/30/canadian-pacific-ceo-rails-against-latest-grain-transport-report/
    Jan 31, 2015 7:14 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here are two question I asked the Harper government today in the House of Commons about the economy and the Premiers' meeting in Ottawa. The Conservatives had no answers - they just ducked: Q1: Mr. Speaker, when the Governor of the Bank of Canada says a collapsing energy sector is “unambiguously negative” … … when investment, exports, jobs and growth are ALL slumping; … when the Conference Board projects the risk of a recession in Alberta, and … the Parliamentary Budget Officer says federal revenue will drop by $8-billion this year … Why is the Prime Minister NOT WORKING with the Premiers this week on a truly national effort to cope with issues … seemingly so serious … that they caused his budget to be delayed into the next fiscal year? Why snub the Premiers? Q2: Mr Speaker, snubbing the Premiers only underscores a dysfunctional relationship. A critical thing they should be doing TOGETHER is accelerating INFRASTRUCTURE. But THIS government missed most of last summer’s construction season. They punched a $1.5-billion hole in the Building Canada Fund. 75% of new funding is punted beyond 2019. But it’s not too late! Cancel Income Splitting for the wealthy. Put that $10-billion into Infrastructure. Call the Premiers over for dinner tonight. And get INFRASTRUCTURE going before spring. Why not?
    Jan 29, 2015 11:47 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    The Harper government has increased the tax burden on Canadians in each of its last 5 budgets - here's just part of the evidence http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/29/harper-tories-taxes-liberals_n_6568982.html
    Jan 29, 2015 8:35 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    HARPER GOVERNMENT TAKES RAILWAY VIEW ON TRANSPORT SERVICES After a disastrous grain handling and transportation season in 2013-14 which cost prairie producers some $5-billion in losses, it's been quieter this winter. But things may be about to heat up. Last fall's "new crop" did not produce another all-time record volume, but with the previous year's carryover the total amount to be moved this season is still close to the same tonnage that triggered such chaos a year ago. And due to highly variable growing conditions, the quality this year is also highly variable and therefore logistically more complicated to ship. Thank goodness we haven't had a harsh winter. When asked how they're doing, the railways say things are pretty much "back to normal", or at least better than last year. Overall the volume shipped is up. And recent comments from Transport Minister Lisa Raitt suggest the Harper government is content with what they see. But farmers are not. Looking at the bulk tonnages moved over a week ... or a month ... or a crop-year fails to tell the whole story. A recent report published by a collection of farm organizations, called the "AG Transport Coalition" (ATC), has examined railway performance from the on-the-ground perspective of the shipper. It's not sufficient just to "move grain". The detail matters. It must be moved in a timely manner, in response to shipping orders, to get the right product at the right export position just in time to fill the right vessel for the right customer at the right price. Grain moves along shipping "corridors" headed west, east, south and north. Some is destined for overseas, some into the US, some for domestic buyers. Some originates along main railway lines and some from community-owned shortline operators. Some is delivered through grain companies (mostly multinational corporations), some through farmer-owned inland terminals, some is delivered directly into "producer" railcars by farmers themselves. Depending on geography, different producers use different corridors. They all want to take maximize advantage of market opportunities. But they're not all treated equitably. The railways provide the best service on big bulk shipments that are easy to handle -- e.g., hundred car trains moving west from Alberta to Vancouver. But farmers using other "corridors" -- like Saskatchewan producers who want to ship south or those along a shortline -- find their rail services decidedly substandard. One size does not fit all. The basic railway approach to grain was amply demonstrated in remarks to his shareholders last year by the CEO of CP Rail. He acknowledged the transportation trouble affecting grain, but suggested his shareholders needn't worry. Grain is a captive commodity. Farmers have no competitive, commercial, regulatory or legal alternatives. The grain will always be there for the railways to move eventually. And they will always get paid in full. So time is not of the essence. But that's not how farmers see it. The timeliness of service makes a big difference to them. And this week's ATC report shows big discrepancies. So far in this crop year, the railways have supplied IN THE WEEK THEY WERE ORDERED only 50% of the hopper cars their customers called for. In total, they are 11,461 cars behind. The corridor into the US is especially weak, possibly costing sales. The ATC plans to track and report on performance from the shippers' perspective every week. Such objective, credible, accurate information, collected and published frequently by an independent authority, is essential in holding railways, grain companies and others in the logistics chain to account. It should also compel the Government of Canada to address obvious defects in public policy. The deficient grain handling and transportation system that exists today is this government's creation. They designed it like this. Inadequate capacity. No surge capabilities. No provisions to deal with exigencies like bad weather. There's no clear definition of what constitutes proper service and how it's measured. No mechanism to achieve common-sense coordination in a complex logistics chain -- there's no quarterback calling plays. No requirement for equitable treatment among corridors. The shippers are captives with no competitive commercial alternatives and no legal recourse when the system fails. The recent fines imposed on the railways (and paid to the government, not farmers) are largely meaningless tokens. What farmers need is an expeditious way to get liquidated damages to offset their losses when others screw-up. Congratulations to the ATC for a worthy initiative.
    Jan 29, 2015 7:08 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Here's a statement issued today by Liberal MPs about the continuing struggle in Ukraine http://chrystiafreeland.liberal.ca/blog/liberal-party-of-canada-statement-on-the-situation-in-ukraine/
    Jan 28, 2015 4:12 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, the nasty, over-the-top Mr Harper re-emerges. Whenever he gets so abusive, Canadians turn away. Mr Harper disgracefully insinuates that asking questions about the exact mandate he gave Canadian Forces is implicit support for ISIS. On Income Splitting, Mr Harper has no explanation for why his policy provides the biggest gains to those earning $233,000.
    Jan 28, 2015 11:47 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    READ: Ralph Goodale in the Huffington Post on the lack of economic coherence by Mr. Harper. Please share.
    Jan 27, 2015 2:52 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    À LIRE : La lettre ouverte de Ralph Goodale dans le Huffington Post concernant le manque de cohérence économique de M. Harper (en anglais seulement). Veuillez partager.
    Jan 27, 2015 2:51 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    In Question Period, Mr Harper says misinforming Canadians about the mission in Iraq doesn't matter - it only matters that there is a mission. So why did Mr Harper go out of his way to promise explicitly that no Canadians would be in combat in Iraq? He knew that was a crucial point. And why did Mr Harper say explicitly that "advising" the Iraqis did NOT include "accompanying" them when that's exactly what's happening?
    Jan 27, 2015 11:46 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    HuffPost has picked up my commentary about the odd contradiction between the Government and the Bank of Canada http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ralph-goodale/harper-bank-of-canada_b_6547982.html
    Jan 27, 2015 10:50 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    IF NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE, WHY DELAY THE BUDGET? The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) today released his first public analysis of the impact of plunging oil prices on federal government revenues. Those prices have dropped from about $108/barrel last June to under $50 now. The West Texas Intermediate price was just $46 at noon today. The Bank of Canada has described this situation as “unambiguously negative” as investment plans worth billions of dollars get shelved, exports sag, thousands of jobs are lost and economic growth slows. The International Monetary Fund has chopped growth projections worldwide. The Conference Board says Alberta could actually slip into recession. Several private sector banks are forecasting a significant hit on the federal treasury. How much? Assuming oil prices average about $48/barrel, the PBO says federal revenues will deteriorate by more than $8-billion this coming year – forcing the Harper government to burn through its contingency reserves and actually run a deficit in 2015/16 of some $400-million. But oblivious to all this, Stephen Harper and his Finance Minister Joe Oliver say don’t worry, be happy, all is well. They claim they’re “in a good space”. Here’s the government’s pitch: • Just ignore all those declining revenues; • Contrary to the meddlesome assertions of Employment Minister Jason Kenney a few days ago, there will be no further cuts in federal programs or services; • All Conservative campaign promises, including a large tax break for wealthier families – costing billions of dollars – will be maintained; • And there will be no deficit. But then here’s a key question: If Mr. Harper is so unequivocal about all these things, why has he punted this year’s federal budget into the next fiscal year? If all the variables are already nailed down – as he and Mr. Oliver claim – why do Canadians have to wait until April or later to see the budget? The delay doesn’t make sense, unless it has nothing to do with economics and is really being driven by the politics of an election year. Having postponed the budget and also a NAFTA meeting that was pre-set for next month with the Presidents of both the US and Mexico, Mr. Harper may be clearing February and March for an early election campaign – just beating out the prosecutors who will be taking impugned Senator Mike Duffy to trial in April. Or maybe the reason for delaying the budget into April or later is to have some means to trigger a distracting economic debate just when that Duffy trial may be getting too hot. Or maybe Conservative spin-doctors just need more time to use your tax dollars to sell the unpalatable notion of Income Splitting. They must overcome the telling criticisms of the late Jim Flaherty who graphically panned this expensive, unfair tax-break which will cost $10-billion over the government’s planning cycle and for which 86% of Canadian households can never be eligible. Whatever the excuse, the delay is an indication of weak, confused fiscal management.
    Jan 27, 2015 9:58 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Sombre day - 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz - the world marks Holocaust Remembrance Day.
    Jan 27, 2015 6:23 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    First day back in House of Commons Question Period - Finance Minister Joe Oliver gives a confused, unconvincing performance. He claims govt revenues are fine, no more service cuts, all promises will be kept + no deficit. So why then did he delay the budget? How do HarperCons explain their obsession with austerity, while the Governor of the Bank of Canada is calling for investments in drivers of growth?
    Jan 26, 2015 11:39 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    BANK OF CANADA CONTRADICTS HARPER GOVERNMENT Stephen Harper's vaunted "management" of the Canadian economy is bedevilled by serious contradictions and mediocre results. Mr. Harper once spoke enthusiastically, at home and abroad, about the central importance of Canada's energy sector. We are a global superpower in oil and gas, he said. And he looked to that one sector to be the prime driver of national economic well-being. That singular focus also shaped his fiscal policies, his views on the environment and his relationship with our biggest trading partner in the United States. When oil was priced at more than $100/barrel, Mr. Harper's unidimensional economic plan escaped scrutiny. But with market values now chopped in half, many people are asking why he put the country in such a vulnerable position. Why did he bet so much on just one commodity? And where is plan "B"? Amazingly, Mr. Harper argues there's no need for any other plan. Swallowing himself whole, he is now dismissing the petroleum industry (and by implication, producing provinces like Saskatchewan and Alberta) as just minor players whose impact and current troubles are no big deal. If that's true, why did he suddenly delay the federal budget to some unspecified date beyond the end of this entire fiscal year? Ten days ago, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said low oil price were entirely manageable and had, in fact, been fully factored into his economic projections. But just 24 hours later, Mr. Oliver announced the exact opposite. The budget suddenly had to be delayed, he said, because markets were destabilized. But wait a minute, low oil prices were no last minute surprise. They've been falling since last summer. Prominent industry leaders last autumn were predicting a tumble to as low as $30/barrel. The flip-flop from sanguine to panicky made the Finance Minister look inadequate and confused. The Governor of the Bank of Canada wasn't confused. He reported last week on the consequences of a weakened energy sector - declining growth rates, thousands of lost jobs, billions of dollars in cancelled investment and a ballooning Canadian trade deficit. He said current oil prices are "unambiguously negative" for Canada. As a consequence, the Bank of Canada chopped its prime lending rate. That action and the Governor's strong language are signals of real concern about a stalling economy. It's strange indeed to see the federal government and the central bank headed in opposite and contradictory directions. The Bank of Canada is moving to stimulate greater growth, while Mr. Harper pushes more austerity - with the net effect of reducing aggregate demand. His only discernible goal is protecting his ill-conceived Income Splitting scheme (which the late Jim Flaherty rightly depicted as too expensive and decidedly unfair). It also does nothing for growth. The facts are inescapable facts. Income Splitting will cost $10-billion over the government's planning cycle. Only 14% of households will benefit - 86% cannot even qualify. And of those who do, the biggest gains go to wealthier folks, like Mr. Harper himself.
    Jan 26, 2015 5:58 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    University of Regina Women's Cougars defeat Alberta in basketball, 86-78. Now the men are warming up.
    Jan 24, 2015 6:26 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Congrats Chief Lawrence Joseph, former New Democrat, nominated today as Liberal candidate in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River!
    Jan 24, 2015 4:47 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MPlib
    Time-out in Women's Basketball at the University of Regina. Cougars are leading Alberta at half-time.
    Jan 24, 2015 4:39 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana

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Ralph Goodale

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