Thursday, April 27, 2006

Senate Panel Says FEMA Is Beyond Repair - Yahoo! News

Senate Panel Says FEMA Is Beyond Repair - Yahoo! News: "Senate Panel Says FEMA Is Beyond Repair By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 40 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Hurricane Katrina turned FEMA into a 'symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy' so far beyond repair that it should be scrapped, senators said Thursday. They called for creation of a new disaster relief agency as the next storm season looms on the horizon.

The push to replace the beleaguered agency was the top recommendation of a hefty Senate inquiry that concluded that top officials from New Orleans to Washington failed to adequately prepare for and respond to the deadly storm, despite weather forecasts predicting its path through the Gulf Coast.
'The first obligation of government is to protect our people,' said Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation. 'In Katrina, we failed at all levels of government to meet that fundamental obligation.'
She added: 'We must learn from the lessons of Katrina so that next time disaster strikes, whether it's a storm that was imminent and predicted for a long time, or a terror attack that takes us by surprise, government responds far more effectively.'
The bipartisan report's executive summary gives President Bush a mixed review for his performance. It credits him for declaring an emergency before the hurricane's landfall, but faults him for waiting until two days after it hit to return to Washington and convene top officials to coordinate the federal response."

And the message here is if it is broken fix it - bungling is not an option - accountability is PR - Manitoba - Drinking, drugging cost big - Manitoba - Drinking, drugging cost big: "Drinking, drugging cost bigSubstance abuse adds up

A new study suggests substance abuse is setting Manitobans back a whopping $324 million a year.
A national study reveals the total annual cost of substance abuse --including alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco -- was $281 for each person in Manitoba in 2002. The study, conducted on behalf of the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and other organizations, examined the direct impact of substance abuse on health care and law enforcement as well as indirect costs such as loss of productivity.
Across Canada, the total cost of substance abuse increased from $18.5 billion in 1992 to $39.8 billion a decade later.
The study found 61% of that amount stems from productivity losses from death or illness caused by substance abuse.

By comparison, the provincial budget for Manitoba in 2002 was $6.9 billion.
John Borody, CEO of the Addictions Foundation, said most people think substance abuse mainly affects 'street people' when it in fact costs each and every Manitoban.
'They don't realize it's also people wearing business suits, it's people working in manufacturing -- it affects us all,' he said. 'And sometimes it's your family member.'
The study showed approximately 80% of the costs of substance abuse stem from the use of legal drugs -- alcohol and tobacco. Borody said most individuals seeking treatment through AFM have alcohol problems.
The study found that health-care costs attributed to alcohol abuse were nearly $114 million in Manitoba in 2002. An estimated 30% of all recorded criminal offences were alcohol related, at a cost of $28.5 million.
The study showed approximately 80% of the costs of substance abuse stem from the use of legal drugs -- alcohol and tobacco. Borody said most individuals seeking treatment through AFM have alcohol problems.

The study found that health-care costs attributed to alcohol abuse were nearly $114 million in Manitoba in 2002. An estimated 30% of all recorded criminal offences were alcohol related, at a cost of $28.5 million.

Illegal drug use set the provincial health-care system back nearly $35 million while the cost of crime related to drug use was pegged at $24.5 million.

Interesting article .The question becomes what do we do about it. Rather then increase taxes,tack on punnative tolls with rules that do not work-ie more studies with no action -why not get better services that work or deliver their stated objectives , PR

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 : Death and taxes ... with an emphasis on the taxes

And the institutional terror ontinues -and the peasants - the tax serfs say nothing PR : Death and taxes ... with an emphasis on the taxes: "Death and taxes ... with an emphasis on the taxes
Globe and Mail Update
The total tax bill for Canadian families has risen 1,600 per cent over the past 45 years so that taxes now account for more of the family budget than food, shelter and clothing combined, the Fraser Institute said Wednesday.
According a report released by the public policy centre, that increase translates into an additional $26,792 in taxes for the average Canadian family.
Over the same period, the average family's expenditures on shelter rose 1,006 per cent, while food costs climbed 481 per cent and spending on clothing climbed 439 per cent.
In 1961, the average Canadian family had an income of $5,000 and paid $1,675 � 33.5 per cent � of that in taxes. In 2005, the average family income was $60,903, of which 46.7 per cent or $28,467 went to the federal, provincial and municipal coffers.
The report comes just days before Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservatives deliver their first federal budget. Tax issues are likely to be front and centre in the financial blueprint, with the Tories promising to make good on a campaign vow to cut the GST by 1 per cent.
The government has heralded the cut as the best way to deliver broad tax relief to all Canadians. Critics, however, have argued that the move is likely come at the expense of personal income-tax reductions planned by the previous Liberal government.
Wednesdays report said income taxes � while the biggest single tax paid by Canadians � account for less than half of their total tax bill.
In 2005, income taxes made up 32 per cent of the total paid by an average Canadian family.
�All those other, not so obvious, taxes accounted f"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

OSC warns fraud victims against becoming repeat targets in 'double-dip' investment schemes - Sympatico / MSN Finance

Private scammers -caveat emptor PR
OSC warns fraud victims against becoming repeat targets in 'double-dip' investment schemes - Sympatico / MSN Finance: "By Ontario Securities Commission (OSC)
It's Fraud Awareness Month
Toronto � The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) warns that investment fraud is a growing problem, as the latest OSC public inquiries data shows more than a 50 per cent increase last year in inquiries and complaints about investment-related fraud. Common complaints involve tax avoidance schemes, �prime bank� fraud, offshore investments, high-pressure sales tactics, Ponzi schemes, as well as fraudulent high-return, no-risk investments. Inquiries about �double-dip� schemes (scams where victims are targeted more than once) are increasing, and investors should be aware of common double-dip tactics scam artists use to manipulate their victims.
Double-dip schemes often begin with an unsolicited, persuasive phone call geared to attracting people to a fake investment opportunity. The pitch may include promises of a future stock market listing and big profits. The scam artist requests money; once received, he or she may hold onto the victim list to expand his or her scam in the future, or possibly sell it to other scam artists for profit. In either case, the same victims are contacted again (the double-dip) and are manipulated into believing an anonymous investor is ready and prepared to pay a fabulous price for the shares, as long as a transaction fee (or a fee to remove a restriction) is paid up front by the victims. In reality, the scam artist pockets this �fee� (in addition to the original �investment�) and may target the same victims several more times by requesting even more money for �fees�, �taxes� etc., turning it into a triple or quadruple-dip scheme.
Any type of financial loss resulting from in"

Monday, April 24, 2006

Milgaard questioned own innocence

Milgaard questioned own innocence: "Milgaard questioned own innocence
Time spent in prison led to doubts
View Larger Image
David Milgaard is seen in this October 2005 file Canadian Press
Published: Monday, April 24, 2006
SASKATOON - David Milgaard says he began to question his own innocence at times during his two decades unjustly behind bars.
Testifying via videotape at the inquiry into his wrongful murder conviction, Milgaard says prison played with his sanity.
He says he knew he was not guilty, but he began to doubt himself after being misdiagnosed with so many different psychological problems.
Milgaard appears calm on the tape and shows little anger about what happened to him.
He sympathizes with the friends who testified against him at his original trial, calling them ``victims.'' "

Atlantic Think tanks thoughts on fishery "food for thought"

It is FARMING, not Fishing: Re-thinking how we view Canada’s aquaculture industry.

The latest AIMS paper in the How to Farm the Seas series shows how Canada is missing the boat on what could be a lucrative industry.

Author Robin Neill, professor of Economics at UPEI, examines the bureaucracy surrounding the industry in Canada and calls for a fundamental reorientation. Aquaculture in Canada needs to be recognized for what it is: farming. He says aquaculture needs to be separated from the administration of the wild fishery, which means taking it out of the jurisdiction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). He concludes:

“Aquaculture in Canada is being held back by a dysfunctional government bureaucracy, by an obsolete property rights system, and by the machinations of environmental activists operating through pressured, unthinking mass media.

"As one critic put it, the government’s oversight of aquaculture is analogous to ‘a chicken farm being managed by the Migratory Birds Act’," Neill says. "In Canada, fish farming falls under the jurisdiction of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, not the Department of Agriculture as are other types of farmed animals, such as hogs, chickens and cattle."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Editorial - Don't get used to it - Editorial - Don't get used to it: "Canadians know Harper can't control the global price of gasoline, but they also want to know their governments aren't profiteering from high energy prices. Right now, federal and provincial taxes account for about 38% of the pump price of gas.
Cutting the GST from 7% to 6%, as Harper has promised, will save taxpayers about $220 million in federal gasoline taxes.
But, according to John Williamson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, eliminating the GST tax on a tax and scrapping the deficit elimination tax would save the public up to $1 billion more in federal gasoline taxes, or about three cents a litre.
That's what Harper could do right now. There are sufficient surplus funds in Ottawa -- money Canadians were overtaxed in the first place -- to cut the GST, provide specific tax relief on gasoline prices and reduce income taxes. "

Cynical public sees public servants seen as lazy, overpaid

Cynical public sees public servants seen as lazy, overpaid: "Cynical public sees public servants seen as lazy, overpaid
demands action not words Jack Aubry, CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen
Published: Friday, April 21, 2006 Article tools
OTTAWA - Canadians have become hardened cynics about government accountability and the public service and only want to see action and results, a newly released government report warns.
Canadians also see the public service as disconnected, lazy and overpaid.
Based on focus groups and interviews with members of the general public and public servants across the country, the report says Canadians have reached a defining moment.
''In other words, Canadians are saying to the government: 'Don't tell me what you're going to do or how you're going to do it. Just do it. Then tell me what you've done and how it makes a difference to me','' says the frank report conducted for Treasury Board.
The 60-page paper describes Canadians as ''deeply cynical'' and mistrustful of the government because of its mismanagement in such matters as the sponsorship scandal, the Human Resources and Development Canada ''billion-dollar boondoggle'' and the federal gun registry.
However, anger over the sponsorship scandal had dissipated, it said, and the public was now looking for ''swift and firm action.''
The study also found a huge chasm between the perceptions of the public and public servants. Public servants see the public service as accountable and willing to serve Canadians while the public views it as wasteful or dishonest. Government workers see themselves as ''people like you and me,'' while the general public reportedly sees them as ''disconn" : PM looks to sweeten tax plan : PM looks to sweeten tax plan: "PM looks to sweeten tax plan
Globe and Mail Update
Ottawa � The federal government is looking at ways to beef up its tax-cut package for the spring budget to bolster Conservative claims that their plan will leave Canadians better off than measures enacted by the former Liberal government.
Options being considered include cutting tax rates for the two middle-income-tax brackets.
In 2006, Canadians will pay income tax at a rate of 15 per cent on the first $36,378 of taxable income, 22 per cent on additional earnings up to $72,756 and 26 per cent on anything above that, up to $118,285. After that, the top rate of 29 per cent applies.
The changes being considered would mean trimming the 22-per-cent and 26-per-cent tax rates.
The Tories had pledged to repeal Liberal income-tax breaks to fund a promise to cut the goods and services tax by one percentage point this year, but the government remains concerned it will stand accused of hiking taxes.
�On the income-tax side there is a problem because if the Liberal-initiated income taxes are repealed and only the GST is cut, then what [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper has been saying about Canadians being better off is not true and that circle must be squared before budget day,� a source familiar with deliberations said."

PM looks to sweeten tax plan


Globe and Mail Update

Ottawa — The federal government is looking at ways to beef up its tax-cut package for the spring budget to bolster Conservative claims that their plan will leave Canadians better off than measures enacted by the former Liberal government.

Options being considered include cutting tax rates for the two middle-income-tax brackets.

In 2006, Canadians will pay income tax at a rate of 15 per cent on the first $36,378 of taxable income, 22 per cent on additional earnings up to $72,756 and 26 per cent on anything above that, up to $118,285. After that, the top rate of 29 per cent applies.

The changes being considered would mean trimming the 22-per-cent and 26-per-cent tax rates.

The Tories had pledged to repeal Liberal income-tax breaks to fund a promise to cut the goods and services tax by one percentage point this year, but the government remains concerned it will stand accused of hiking taxes.

“On the income-tax side there is a problem because if the Liberal-initiated income taxes are repealed and only the GST is cut, then what [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper has been saying about Canadians being better off is not true and that circle must be squared before budget day,” a source familiar with deliberations said.

The government is not going to table a budget that leaves any taxpayers worse off than they currently would be. So while the Liberal measures might be withdrawn, something else will be put in.”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor

With due respect -It is just another broken promise like MRI funding - not daves's fault if he can't get through to the decision makers at Queen'spark - at least he tried. PR Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Downtown education centre project dead

By Michael-Allan Marion, expositor staff
Local News - Thursday, April 20, 2006 @ 01:00

City council is seeing red over the provincial government�s refusal to chip in more than $6 million toward The Brantford Centre post-secondary education project -- a decision that kills the project.

�What upsets me is the utter failure of the province to support the growth of post-secondary education in this community,� said Coun. John Starkey after reading a letter jointly signed by Laurier Brantford, Mohawk College and Grand Valley Educational Society officials."

Fines boost a cash grab

Let's make our laws for the purpose intended- orderly governance of the social order. Laws should not be used as hidden or invisible taxes or revenue cash cows for unaccountable government agencies PR - Editorial - Fines boost a cash grab: "But we draw the line at increasing fines simply to raise more money for government coffers. A fine is a sanction applied to someone who has broken the law. It's meant as a penalty to denounce the offence and to deter the individual and the public at large from committing future offences. Increasing fines with the stated objective of raising money for a government program is little more than a cash grab. "

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor

Good for the officers- the serve and protect motto obviously means something to them. I wonder how they would have felt when they saw the man they saved - a person who was obviously mentally imbalanced or sick paraded in chains without his clothes and further humiliated at the Brantford Court house. Maybe swimming the polluted Mohawk is a better alternative then going through the Brantford justice system -whose bail procedure is conducted like a and has the attributes of a old fashioned slave market with freedom for sale to the highest bidder by the unorganized and harried practitioners.

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Police officers dive in to rescue drowning truck driver

By Vincent Ball, expositor staff
Local News - Thursday, April 20, 2006 @ 01:00

Constables Mark Baxter and Chris Grantham braved the frigid, murky and heavily polluted waters of Mohawk Lake to save a city man.

�I think he had just about had it when we got to him. He had already gone under four or five times,� Baxter said Wednesday.

�When we pulled him ashore, he was pretty exhausted and he kept saying he couldn�t swim. He had all his clothes on, too, weighing him down.�

The two officers rescued a man who had driven a stolen pickup truck into the lake following a short police pursuit at about 6 p.m. Monday evening. The man was about 50 to 60 metres from shore and appeared to be swimming to the other side of the lake when the officers spotted him. "

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tax money - real value for the money please

You'd think that, by now, we'd have gotten over our ability to be amazed at the ways in which our federal government can waste money.

After the sponsorship scandal and the Human Resources boondoggle, the gun registry and the national defence computer fiasco we should have grown so accustomed to mismanagement that we'd just shrug and say "So what."

But then we stop and remember where the money comes from to finance all these dodgy schemes -- from your pockets and our pockets -- and we get all twitchy again and start to hyperventilate and come very close to screaming.

The most recent extravagance to catch our eye demonstrates again that when it comes to our tax dollars, the prevailing attitude is still easy come, easy go.

As the Sun's Greg Weston detailed yesterday (Not much action from feds' integrity officer), it's tough to believe we're getting value for money when we take a look at the budget and the caseload of Edward W. Keyserlingk, federal public service integrity officer.

Keyserlingk's office was established in 2001, ostensibly to give public servants a forum to report government waste and mismanagement. Good idea, right? As with most federal programs, yes, at least in theory.

Keyserlingk was recruited for the job by Jean Chretien's government and started to cost us money right away when he refused to move to Ottawa, preferring to bill taxpayers $30,000 annually in hotel and commuting expenses between Ottawa and Montreal.

Last year, the office worked on 44 files, completing 30 of them. Twelve were dismissed, leaving 18 to be tackled by the nine-member staff, with an annual budget of just over $1.4 million.

Out of that total, there were three cases where the allegations were found to have merit -- none of which could be considered as anything more than trivial.

Just a little something to keep in mind as we sign off on our 2005 federal tax returns.

Property assessment out of control

It is time that we do something about it - Unfair,unresponsive and out of control -lets do something -the home yousave may be your own.PR

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Ontario Makes Plans to Pick Up the Pieces

James Wallace
Queens Park - Tuesday, April 18, 2006

MPPs from around the province have fielded calls with increasing regularity in
recent days from disgruntled home owners, especially seniors, complaining about crippling property tax assessment hikes.

The calls have come from retired people worried about losing their homes, from
middle class families who find the tax bill on their home has become unaffordable and cottage owners worried about having to sell the property that�s been in their family for generations.

Little surprise then that MPPs from all three parties this week supported second reading of a private member�s bill by Erie-Lincoln MPP Tim Hudak to cap assessment increases."

Saturday, April 15, 2006 - Editorial - $2-M questions

Did you know that everything is for sale in Ontario. - Editorial - $2-M questions: "Canadians have a few simple questions for Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant in the wake of the deal by which Louise Russo will receive $2 million compensation from the five men responsible for shooting her in April 2004:
First: Where did they get the money? "

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Editorial - Honesty on the table

After the unforgivable scandals that rocked the previous regime, there is nothing more important than restoring public trust in our federal government.

This, we hope, will be the start of a more honest era in Canadian politics. We all agree
PR - Editorial - Honesty on the table: "Honesty on the table

Tuesday was the biggest day so far in the life of this young Conservative government. It was also a memorable day for Canadians who long for an end to government corruption and the imposition of controls that will stop politicians and bureaucrats straying from the straight and narrow.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised his government's 252-page Accountability Act would 'replace the culture of entitlement that took root under the previous government with a culture of accountability.'
The act will, among other things, end secret donations to political parties, reduce the influence of lobbyists and beef up the role of the ethics commissioner.
It will also provide protection for whistleblowers and make the awarding of government grants more transparent. "

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Incompetence leaving? "Harper aims to pull a thorn from his side
OTTAWA -- The Conservative government has found a way to dispense with the Liberal-appointed Ethics Commissioner without a vote in the House of Commons.
The proposed accountability act will eliminate the position held by Bernard Shapiro and combine it with that of the Senate Ethics Officer to create a new office -- and only those with a 'judicial or quasi-judicial' background need apply.
Mr. Shapiro has a doctorate in education and has held numerous posts in that field, including that of principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University in Montreal. But he is not a judge.
When asked at a news conference yesterday whether Mr. Shapiro's days are numbered, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the current Ethics Commissioner does not have the required qualifications."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Federal Accountability Bill

Highlights of Federal Accountability Act
Canadian Press Ottawa —

Reform financing of political parties to reduce big-money influence by banning secret donations and donations from companies, unions and associations. Also limit individual donations to $1,000.

Reduce the influence of lobbyists by toughening the Lobbyists Registration Act.

Strengthen the role of the federal Ethics Commissioner with a new Conflict of Interest Act and a new Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Create a parliamentary budget officer to ensure objective analysis on government finances.

Ensure government appointments are based on merit.

Create a clean, transparent process for awarding government contracts, including appointing a procurement auditor.

Provide protection and a $1,000 reward for whistleblowers who disclose government wrongdoing.

Expand access to information legislation to cover some Crown corporations, federal foundations, and agents of Parliament such as the Auditor-General.

Give the Auditor-General more power. - Editorial - Two tax cuts are better than one, Mr. Harper

The bottom line is that our taxes are way too high for the services that are delivered. Lets get some of our money back and reverse the government people inflation. Go Harper go. PR - Editorial - Two tax cuts are better than one, Mr. Harper: "Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new Conservative government came to power on a bold promise of tax cuts -- including an immediate 1% reduction in the GST. And unlike their predecessors, who famously promised to scrap the GST but never touched it in 13 years (instead becoming its biggest boosters), the Harper Tories intend to keep their promise in their first budget a few weeks from now.
Unlike the Liberal hypocrites and their supporters who preach that a GST cut is inferior to a broad-based income tax cut, we're all for cutting the GST. We're all for cutting any tax -- actually doing it, that is; not merely talking about it, or making small cuts here while raising pension premiums there, etc. "

Friday, April 07, 2006 : Russo deal blasted as attempt 'to buy' better sentence

Just like any other banana republic justice is for sale in Canada- what next -politician indulgences for sale? : Russo deal blasted as attempt 'to buy' better sentence: "Attorney-General Michael Bryant refused to respond, saying he could not interfere with the plea-bargaining process.
'Until it's before open court, it would be totally inappropriate for me to speculate about what position we may or may not take.'
New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton, a former attorney-general, said any deal involving payment in return for lighter sentences would distort the principles of the justice system.
He said criminal-court judges are allowed to order restitution to victims but that this normally occurs after a verdict -- not as part of a plea bargain.
'Restitution is a good thing and Ms. Russo deserves some kind of restitution,' Mr. Hampton said, adding that any payments before a verdict 'sends all the wrong type of signals.'"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor

And the economic terror continues with yet more excuses and
faked corncern about equal treatment for property owners . They have the power to reduce taxes but do not want to set a dangerous precedent-doing more for less -like the normal people they supposedly serving. Yawn -get a grip - understand that politicians are again white washing and feather bedding their overly comfortable nests-in anticipation of getting re-elected this fall.

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Apartment owners, tenants protest unfair city taxes

By Michael-Allan Marion, expositor staff
Local News - Thursday, April 06, 2006 @ 01:00

Responding to rising ire from apartment building owners and tenants over having to pay much higher property taxes than homeowners, city council is trimming another scheduled tax hike it was about to hand them.

The committee of whole listened this week to an hour�s worth of presentations from a succession of apartment owners with tenants in tow. They were calling for council to institute a longterm plan that will gradually reduce the difference between the higher multi-residential tax rate and the lower residential rate to parity.

After years of uneven increases, the multi-residential tax rate had by 2005 outpaced the residential rate by a ratio of 2.4 to 1.

Even before this week�s meeting, Mayor Mike Hancock and council members were already feeling the heat over higher business taxes from apartment owners and the Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant."

No bubble in Canadian house prices

No bubble in Canadian house prices: "Jacqueline Thorpe, Financial Post
Published: Thursday, April 06, 2006
The U.S. housing market may be rolling over but virtually all Canadian cities remain undervalued and could see annual price increases of 4.2% on average through 2010, a new study from Merrill Lynch says.
The study runs contrary to current wisdom that Canada's housing market is boiling over. For example, despite the oil boom, house prices in Calgary are 16% undervalued compared with average historical valuations. Ottawa's market is 13% undervalued, Halifax 12% and Toronto 17%. Merrill found only Victoria to be overvalued."

Ethanol industry touted as cure

Will this make a difference?

Ethanol industry touted as cure
Gasoline with 5-per-cent renewable matter would ease farm-income crisis, Tories say
OTTAWA -- The Conservative government will soon unveil a plan to promote a domestic ethanol industry as a long-term solution to the financial troubles of Canadian farmers.
Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl said yesterday that he and Environment Minister Rona Ambrose are preparing to announce how they will implement a campaign promise to require that all gasoline be made up of at least 5 per cent renewable materials.
Mr. Strahl said his plan is to have farmers who grow corn and other crops from which ethanol is made also be involved in its production, so their incomes are not entirely based on selling low-priced crops. Those in the farm industry say that would mean a U.S.-style co-op system.
"The real answer in the long run is not government subsidies. Farmers don't want subsidies. They don't want handouts. They don't want to farm the mailboxes, as they say," said Mr. Strahl, who was responding to a rally on Parliament Hill by a few thousand farmers who blocked traffic for most of the day with their tractors and transport trucks.
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"The solutions that we will bring forward in the days ahead will continue to develop programming and strategies that are going to address things like access to capital and getting farmers more involved in the production chain so they can get more value out of it."
The farmers said it makes little difference whether their crops are sold as food or to produce gas as long as they continue to lose money each year because they cannot compete with U.S. farms. Some farm groups blame U.S. and European farm subsidies for driving down the prices for agricultural products to historic lows. Canadian egg and dairy producers are also protected from foreign competition by the government.
Bob Friesen, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, held a news conference yesterday with other farming leaders, who painted a picture of a shrinking Canadian farm industry where credit-card debts are dividing families and forcing them to sell their farms.
Mr. Friesen said farmers need more than $6-billion to stay in business. Ottawa has promised $2.5-billion over five years, but the farmers say it is not clear whether it is above, or instead of, the billions of dollars in emergency funds received in the past two years.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded yesterday to Liberal members of Parliament who urged him to commit more money for farmers.
"In the last [election] campaign, we did commit to increase -- significantly increase -- agricultural funding. We intend to follow through on those commitments. It's a little late for the Liberals to now say they'd like to increase agricultural funding. They had their chance and they've left farmers with the mess we do have today," he said.
Doug Eadie of the Ontario Corn Producers said any push toward more ethanol plants will simply lead Canadian ethanol producers to buy U.S. corn, unless the subsidy issue is addressed to make it financially worthwhile for Canadian farmers.
He said there are only a handful of plants producing ethanol in Canada while the industry booms south of the border as the U.S. seeks to decrease its reliance on oil. The production boom is being tied to an energy bill signed by President George W. Bush that encourages the use of ethanol in gasoline.
The Conservatives promised during the election campaign that they would require all gasoline to be composed of 5-per-cent renewable materials by 2010. Mr. Strahl said yesterday the government will have to act soon to make sure the capacity is in place to meet that target.
"We are going to have to start aggressively this year on a biofuel strategy that will give farmers . . . the crushing plants and the other processing plants in place that should give us enough time by 2010 to meet that target.
"[For] too long they have been the lowest-cost providers, to value-added people who take the money and run, so to speak, and farmers want to be part of this and we are keen to make sure that farmers are part of the biofuel strategy." : PM pummels Grits defending Throne Speech : PM pummels Grits defending Throne Speech: "�We have a plan, we have priorities, and Canadians are with us. During the recent election we laid out our priorities and a plan for change. Canadians made it clear they support change, and they want us to act.�
He reiterated his party's plans for providing more open and accountable government, cutting the GST by one percentage point, cracking down on crime, giving parents a child care allowance of $1,200 for each child, and ensuring medically acceptable wait times.
�That's what we promised. That's what we intend to do,� he said."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Waste from your neighbour

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "City losing patience with upstream neighbours

By Michael-Allan Marion, Expositor Staff
Local News - Monday, April 03, 2006 @ 01:00

Every few months on a particularly rainy day, some little towns upstream find they just can�t hold it anymore. Like little children caught too far from a bathroom, they open the gates and let go their effluent into the Grand River.

Occasionally, the effluent is fully treated by their own plants, often it�s partially treated and sometimes not at all.

It�s not just a naughty indignity to city officials downstream in Brantford. They treat it as a threat to the municipal water supply, since Brantford gets all its drinking water from the river.

City officials have informed the Ministry of the Environment that these incidents happen far too often for their liking, and they want them stopped or at least severely curtailed.

To environmental services staff and the Grand River Spills Action Centre, each incident is called an �effluent bypass,� which usually occurs during a period of high rainfall.

Most occur during the early spring or late autumn, but they can happen at any time of year.

At a certain point, the usually older, unsophisticated sewage treatment system of a small town can�t take the amount of water coming in or the whole system would back up completely, sending raw sewage up people�s toilets, flooding their homes.

So officials release a certain amount and inform the Spills Action Centre, which in turn informs municipalities downstream so they can take action to protect themselves." : Accountability Act to be Tories' first bill : Accountability Act to be Tories' first bill: "The Accountability Act will make changes to several federal laws dealing with donations to political parties, lobbying, whistleblower protection, government contracts, appointments, internal auditing, ethics and access to information.
The proposed law will be coupled with a separate document outlining policy changes that do not require legislation. This will likely include the creation of a Parliamentary budget office and new powers for the Auditor-General.
The Conservatives promised during the campaign that the Auditor-General would be asked to audit all federal grants and contributions.
In a 2004 speech, Mr. Harper estimated such an audit would find about $18-billion in annual spending and that at least $4-billion could be trimmed over a mandate."

Saturday, April 01, 2006 - Editorial - Undoing the damage - Editorial - Undoing the damage: "The lefties may have taken a drubbing in the federal election, but they still want to call the shots. A coalition of activists is urging PM Stephen Harper to backtrack on a number of his priorities, including child care and closer ties with the U.S.
Oh yes, they also want to 'strengthen the CBC with stable, long-term funding.' Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, claims to 'stand on the side of the majority of Canadians on these issues.'
We beg to differ. "