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  Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #60 on: 2010-07-14 11:56:42 »
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Government IT at its finest

Cheers

Fritz


Glitches found in Corrections electronic monitoring technology

Source: Vancouver SUN
Author: Laura Stone, Postmedia News
Date: 2010.07.14


A report into the short-term trial of electronic ankle bracelets for paroled offenders found the devices were hindered by faulty technology, false alarms and organizational problems.

"It was just a poorly implemented program based on an approach to dealing with criminal behaviour that has no evidence to support it," said Paul Gendreau, a criminal justice expert who has studied electronic monitoring.

"As a taxpayer, I'd be a little incensed," said Gendreau, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick.

The analysis of the year-long Electronic Monitoring Pilot Project, from the Correctional Service of Canada, surveyed the effects of the anklets on a total of 46 inmates in Ontario.

The devices used Global Positioning System technology and cost more than $850,000 for the year. The anklets were subject to several problems, including equipment malfunctions and battery deficiencies, says the report.

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews defended the use of electronic monitoring.

"It has been clear from the beginning that this is a pilot project. It is also evident that no aspect of this pilot project does anything to endanger the safety of our communities. In fact, police and victims groups have cited examples where the mechanism has prevented crime from taking place," said spokesman Chris McCluskey.

A CSC spokeswoman said despite the glitches, electronic monitoring is a useful tool and is to be used in conjunction with other methods.

"Even if it's a false alarm, or even if we got lots of these little technical limitations or technical challenges or issues, it was actually not a bad thing for us because it just meant an additional monitoring of the offender," said spokeswoman Christelle Chartrand.

Craig Jones, executive director of the prison-rights group John Howard Society, said while he is not necessarily against electronic monitoring, the pilot project suffered from a lack of selection criteria among offenders and clear objectives for the program.

He said offenders who are required to stay away from alcohol or refrain from fraternizing with certain people -- common conditions for release -- would not benefit from monitors.

"If we are really serious about supervising people in the community, there is a body of evidence about what works best, and we should follow it. And at this time, I would say, electronic monitoring is not ready for prime time," said Jones.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/todays-paper/Glitches+found+electronic+monitoring+technology/3274127/story.html#ixzz0tfiqClc0

« Last Edit: 2010-07-14 12:01:03 by Fritz » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #61 on: 2010-07-18 22:46:52 »
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I find it interesting and sobering to see how a relatively business orientated news outlet views Canadian Politics.

Cheers

Fritz


Source: The Economist
Author : n/a
Date: June 17th 2010

Stephen Harper has imported American Republicanism just when Barack Obama has adopted some Canadian policies

Canada's politics - 49th parallels - Is there still a North American divide?



ANY country living beside an economic and cultural colossus tends to shore up its separate identity by emphasising its differences and ignoring its similarities. Few nations have mastered this better than Canada, which for decades has seen itself as a kinder, gentler counterpart to the United States. But under Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister since 2006, the two countries have been converging. While Barack Obama has embraced policies that Canadians hold dear, such as near-universal health care and stricter financial regulation, Mr Harper has been importing many hallmarks of American Republicanism. Mr Obama’s expansion of government has generated a fierce backlash from the tea-party movement. Will Mr Harper suffer a similar rebellion in reverse?

Compare the Canada preparing to host the G8 and G20 summits later this month with that of 2002, the last time it hosted the G8, and the difference is clear. Back then the debate was about legalising gay marriage, decriminalising marijuana and how to attract more immigrants. Now it is about lowering taxes, and cracking down on crime and bogus refugees. Even abortion, a question settled two decades ago in Canada, has returned to the news.

This grittier mood is partly a function of the world financial crisis. But Mr Harper can also claim to have moulded it. He argues that Canadians are not as left-wing as their governments have been, and that it was conservative divisions that long gave the Liberals free rein to impose a “benign dictatorship”. He took over one of two rival right-of-centre parties in 2002 by attracting voters he described as “similar to what George Bush tapped”, and then merged it with the other. Since then he has won two elections—but never with a parliamentary majority.

Like Mr Bush, Mr Harper is an evangelical Christian who once worked for an oil company. Many of his initiatives were first tried in America. Both men vowed to cut taxes and shrink government, and wound up completing only the first half of their agenda. Mr Harper has slashed corporate and personal income taxes as well as the national sales tax. His anti-tax rhetoric seems to have struck a chord: Liberals complain that they can no longer propose raising revenue because the Conservatives made “tax” a dirty word. The prime minister also increased spending, however, creating a deficit of 3% of GDP—large by Canadian standards.

Mr Harper’s foreign policy has also echoed Mr Bush’s. He has embraced Israel’s right-wing government, even as Mr Obama has distanced himself from it. He wants to stop funding foreign health programmes that allow abortion. As opposition leader, he condemned Canada’s decision not to join America’s invasion of Iraq. In office, he has increased military spending by 27%, and the number of Canadian troops in Afghanistan by two-fifths. He has pledged to pull out in 2011, but in that he is obeying a binding parliamentary vote.

Another priority of Mr Harper’s has been to get tough on crime. He introduced bills to stop prisoners from collecting pensions or receiving double credit for time served before conviction. His government has strengthened mandatory-sentencing laws, reducing judges’ discretion to impose shorter jail terms. Even though the overall crime rate has been falling, Canadians’ attitudes are hardening.

Mr Bush’s one significant departure from conservative doctrine concerned immigration, where he unsuccessfully attempted a liberalising reform. Mr Harper is more orthodox. After a rise in the number of would-be refugees from Mexico last year, Canada required all visitors from Mexico—its partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement—to obtain visas. The government is now pushing a broader reform of immigration law which would make it harder for both bogus and legitimate refugees to reach Canadian soil. A poll this year found that 27% of Canadians see immigrants and refugees as a critical threat, up from 21% five years ago.

There are some reasons to believe that the country’s rightward drift might outlast Mr Harper. Ageing baby boomers care more about crime, for example, than they do about providing universal day care, an initiative of the previous Liberal government axed by the Conservatives. The anti-market sentiment that helped propel Mr Obama to office is absent in Canada, since its banks were already highly regulated. Voters approve of Mr Harper’s economic stewardship. And now it is the left-of-centre parties that are squabbling among themselves. In another sign of the new zeitgeist, on June 15th Pierre Karl Péladeau, a media mogul, announced the launch of Sun TV News, a new television channel led by Kory Teneycke, Mr Harper’s former communications director. Pundits have already dubbed it Fox News North.

Many people on both sides of the border share the same values, says Matthew Mendelsohn, who heads a think-tank in Toronto. He argues the conservative American south pulls the United States to the right, while Quebec’s social-democratic traditions tug Canada to the left.

But the striking thing about Mr Harper’s conservative revolution is the narrowness of its political base. The opinion polls still give the Conservatives just 31%, meaning that a parliamentary majority remains beyond their grasp. The prime minister has been masterful at extracting advantage from favourable circumstances and from small shifts in public opinion. But above all he has thrived on a shambolic opposition. It is far too early to conclude that he has remade his country.

The Americas
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #62 on: 2010-07-20 11:52:44 »
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This urks me for a number of reasons. Information/knowledge is important for many reasons. Of the roles government should play national data and policy is the most important to me.

I have to question if this is some evil plot to dumb down the country as part of the control agenda ? But them stupid is as stupid does and having spend years in government I have see my endless share so ....

Sigh

Fritz



What the census feud is all about


Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/what-the-census-feud-is-all-about/article1644767/
Date: Tuesday, Jul. 20, 2010 3:00AM EDT 


Author: Gloria Galloway

So what’s all the fuss about the long-form census?

Those of us who have never been asked to fill in one of the detailed Statistics Canada documents – it was 40 pages long in 2006 – may be wondering why the government is willing to wade through a can of worms to declare its completion is no longer compulsory.

The questions do change. Those who received the form in 2001 were asked their religion while those who were handed the task in 2006 were not.

But here are some of the highlights of the 2006 census.

The long forms included the standard personal information – name, sex, date of birth and marital status. They also asked predictable questions about citizenship, language, race and ethnic origin.

The respondents had to state their level of education and where they last went to school.

They were asked to name their employers, to say what kind of work they did, to say whether they had been absent from their job in the previous week, and whether they worked for wages, tips or commission.

The statistics agency asked for permission to access the respondents’ most recent income tax filing from Revenue Canada. If that was refused, they were asked to state how much money they made from wages, government benefits, pensions, dividends, interest, support payments etc.

The agency wanted to know if they had trouble seeing, hearing, bending or climbing stairs – or if they were physically or mentally disabled.

It also wanted to know how many hours the respondents spent doing housework and taking care of children and seniors without pay.

And then there were the housing questions that the Conservatives have repeatedly described as overly intrusive – how many bedrooms were in the respondents’ homes, how much were the dwellings worth, did they need repair, and how much did it cost for heat, hydro and electricity.


Author: John Ibbitson and Tavia Grant and John Lorinc

Growing unrest within Statistics Canada and growing anger from groups of every political persuasion have left Stephen Harper’s government facing a revolt over its plans to end the mandatory long-form version of the census.

Officials within Statscan believe Industry Minister Tony Clement is misrepresenting the advice he has been receiving from the internationally respected agency charged with gathering data on Canadians.

Mr. Clement has said Statscan officials reassured him the agency can manage the 2011 census effectively without forcing some people to fill out the longer version of the form.

That’s not what Mr. Clement has been told, according to a source close to the story who asked not to be identified, and Statscan officials expect chief statistician Munir Sheikh to come to the agency’s defence by saying so.

The minister’s claims have angered and demoralized a staff already under pressure from budget cutbacks, which have led, for example, to less thorough regional analysis of statistical trends.

This assault on the integrity of the general census is, for many of the 6,000 workers within the agency, particularly galling.

“The census is the flagship of the department,” said one person inside Statscan. “If you want to demoralize staff, there’s no bigger target.”

    “This is not about pointy-headed researchers. It is about business who needs the information for product development and marketing. It is about charities and NGOs targeting. It is about public health authorities making us healthier. ”— Mel Cappe, Institute for Research on Public Policy

Mr. Sheikh has announced he will hold a town hall with employees on Wednesday to answer concerns. The meeting is closed to the media and Mr. Sheikh is not granting interviews. Mr. Clement’s office did not return interview requests.

Don Drummond, a member of Statistics Canada’s advisory council, said “all of us were shocked” by the news that the mandatory long-form census was being abandoned.

The approximately two dozen members of the advisory council are appointed by the industry minister, and advise the agency on how better to carry out its mandate.

Mr. Drummond, who recently stepped down as chief economist of the TD Bank, said the council unanimously believed that abandoning the mandatory long-form census would skew the 2011 results, causing a statistical break with previous surveys that would it make impossible to read and project trends accurately.

In a letter sent to Mr. Clement on Monday, two dozen leaders from business, labour, government and academia united in warning that voluntary compliance for those receiving the long form of the census would gravely compromise its integrity.

Response rates from “the very poor, aboriginal communities, recent immigrants and some ethno-racial communities, will likely be quite low,” the letter states. As a result, “the impact of these changes will be disproportionately borne by those who are already most vulnerable.”

The two dozen signatures included Mel Cappe and Alex Himelfarb, former chiefs of the federal public service; Roger Martin, the dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management; Roger Gibbins, who heads the Canada West Foundation, a generally conservative think tank’ and Carol Wilding, head of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Ms. Wilding vowed to “reach out” to other urban boards of trade to garner support. “This is a decision that affects the whole country,” she said in an interview. “All urban centres across Canada have similar needs” for census data, she observed.

“This is not about pointy-headed researchers,” said Mr. Cappe, who was clerk of the Privy Council under prime minister Jean Chrétien and now heads the Institute for Research on Public Policy. “It is about business who needs the information for product development and marketing. It is about charities and NGOs targeting. It is about public health authorities making us healthier.”

A spokesman for Mr. Clement said the minister would comment when his office receives the letter.

Ivan Fellegi, who led Statscan for 22 years before retiring in 2008, said the idea of a voluntary census never came up while he was there. He said he worries that the change would cost more and produce less valuable data.

“I would have resigned over it, because I wouldn’t have wanted to be associated with an exercise that will waste money,” he said, adding that the risk is too great that fewer people may respond to the census, even though it will go to more homes.

At least one Conservative member of Parliament is also concerned by the census decision. In a letter obtained by CBC, Edmonton MP James Rajotte wrote to Mr. Clement “on behalf of a number of my constituents who have expressed concern” about making the long-form version of the census a voluntary exercise.

Mr. Rajotte asked Mr. Clement to explain his rationale “as well as the steps our government is taking to ensure that this change will not negatively impact the quality or accuracy of Statistics Canada’s work.”

With a report from Sarah Boesveld



John Ibbitson and Tavia Grant and John Lorinc

Ottawa and Toronto — From Tuesday's Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Jul. 20, 2010 3:00AM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 20, 2010 3:02AM EDT

Growing unrest within Statistics Canada and growing anger from groups of every political persuasion have left Stephen Harper’s government facing a revolt over its plans to end the mandatory long-form version of the census.

Officials within Statscan believe Industry Minister Tony Clement is misrepresenting the advice he has been receiving from the internationally respected agency charged with gathering data on Canadians.

Mr. Clement has said Statscan officials reassured him the agency can manage the 2011 census effectively without forcing some people to fill out the longer version of the form.

That’s not what Mr. Clement has been told, according to a source close to the story who asked not to be identified, and Statscan officials expect chief statistician Munir Sheikh to come to the agency’s defence by saying so.

The minister’s claims have angered and demoralized a staff already under pressure from budget cutbacks, which have led, for example, to less thorough regional analysis of statistical trends.

This assault on the integrity of the general census is, for many of the 6,000 workers within the agency, particularly galling.

“The census is the flagship of the department,” said one person inside Statscan. “If you want to demoralize staff, there’s no bigger target.”

    “This is not about pointy-headed researchers. It is about business who needs the information for product development and marketing. It is about charities and NGOs targeting. It is about public health authorities making us healthier. ”— Mel Cappe, Institute for Research on Public Policy

Mr. Sheikh has announced he will hold a town hall with employees on Wednesday to answer concerns. The meeting is closed to the media and Mr. Sheikh is not granting interviews. Mr. Clement’s office did not return interview requests.

Don Drummond, a member of Statistics Canada’s advisory council, said “all of us were shocked” by the news that the mandatory long-form census was being abandoned.

The approximately two dozen members of the advisory council are appointed by the industry minister, and advise the agency on how better to carry out its mandate.

Mr. Drummond, who recently stepped down as chief economist of the TD Bank, said the council unanimously believed that abandoning the mandatory long-form census would skew the 2011 results, causing a statistical break with previous surveys that would it make impossible to read and project trends accurately.

In a letter sent to Mr. Clement on Monday, two dozen leaders from business, labour, government and academia united in warning that voluntary compliance for those receiving the long form of the census would gravely compromise its integrity.

Response rates from “the very poor, aboriginal communities, recent immigrants and some ethno-racial communities, will likely be quite low,” the letter states. As a result, “the impact of these changes will be disproportionately borne by those who are already most vulnerable.”

The two dozen signatures included Mel Cappe and Alex Himelfarb, former chiefs of the federal public service; Roger Martin, the dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management; Roger Gibbins, who heads the Canada West Foundation, a generally conservative think tank’ and Carol Wilding, head of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Ms. Wilding vowed to “reach out” to other urban boards of trade to garner support. “This is a decision that affects the whole country,” she said in an interview. “All urban centres across Canada have similar needs” for census data, she observed.

“This is not about pointy-headed researchers,” said Mr. Cappe, who was clerk of the Privy Council under prime minister Jean Chrétien and now heads the Institute for Research on Public Policy. “It is about business who needs the information for product development and marketing. It is about charities and NGOs targeting. It is about public health authorities making us healthier.”

A spokesman for Mr. Clement said the minister would comment when his office receives the letter.

Ivan Fellegi, who led Statscan for 22 years before retiring in 2008, said the idea of a voluntary census never came up while he was there. He said he worries that the change would cost more and produce less valuable data.

“I would have resigned over it, because I wouldn’t have wanted to be associated with an exercise that will waste money,” he said, adding that the risk is too great that fewer people may respond to the census, even though it will go to more homes.

At least one Conservative member of Parliament is also concerned by the census decision. In a letter obtained by CBC, Edmonton MP James Rajotte wrote to Mr. Clement “on behalf of a number of my constituents who have expressed concern” about making the long-form version of the census a voluntary exercise.

Mr. Rajotte asked Mr. Clement to explain his rationale “as well as the steps our government is taking to ensure that this change will not negatively impact the quality or accuracy of Statistics Canada’s work.”

With a report from Sarah Boesveld


John Ibbitson and Tavia Grant and John Lorinc

Ottawa and Toronto — From Tuesday's Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Jul. 20, 2010 3:00AM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 20, 2010 3:02AM EDT

Growing unrest within Statistics Canada and growing anger from groups of every political persuasion have left Stephen Harper’s government facing a revolt over its plans to end the mandatory long-form version of the census.

Officials within Statscan believe Industry Minister Tony Clement is misrepresenting the advice he has been receiving from the internationally respected agency charged with gathering data on Canadians.

Mr. Clement has said Statscan officials reassured him the agency can manage the 2011 census effectively without forcing some people to fill out the longer version of the form.

That’s not what Mr. Clement has been told, according to a source close to the story who asked not to be identified, and Statscan officials expect chief statistician Munir Sheikh to come to the agency’s defence by saying so.

The minister’s claims have angered and demoralized a staff already under pressure from budget cutbacks, which have led, for example, to less thorough regional analysis of statistical trends.

This assault on the integrity of the general census is, for many of the 6,000 workers within the agency, particularly galling.

“The census is the flagship of the department,” said one person inside Statscan. “If you want to demoralize staff, there’s no bigger target.”

    “This is not about pointy-headed researchers. It is about business who needs the information for product development and marketing. It is about charities and NGOs targeting. It is about public health authorities making us healthier. ”— Mel Cappe, Institute for Research on Public Policy

Mr. Sheikh has announced he will hold a town hall with employees on Wednesday to answer concerns. The meeting is closed to the media and Mr. Sheikh is not granting interviews. Mr. Clement’s office did not return interview requests.

Don Drummond, a member of Statistics Canada’s advisory council, said “all of us were shocked” by the news that the mandatory long-form census was being abandoned.

The approximately two dozen members of the advisory council are appointed by the industry minister, and advise the agency on how better to carry out its mandate.

Mr. Drummond, who recently stepped down as chief economist of the TD Bank, said the council unanimously believed that abandoning the mandatory long-form census would skew the 2011 results, causing a statistical break with previous surveys that would it make impossible to read and project trends accurately.

In a letter sent to Mr. Clement on Monday, two dozen leaders from business, labour, government and academia united in warning that voluntary compliance for those receiving the long form of the census would gravely compromise its integrity.

Response rates from “the very poor, aboriginal communities, recent immigrants and some ethno-racial communities, will likely be quite low,” the letter states. As a result, “the impact of these changes will be disproportionately borne by those who are already most vulnerable.”

The two dozen signatures included Mel Cappe and Alex Himelfarb, former chiefs of the federal public service; Roger Martin, the dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management; Roger Gibbins, who heads the Canada West Foundation, a generally conservative think tank’ and Carol Wilding, head of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Ms. Wilding vowed to “reach out” to other urban boards of trade to garner support. “This is a decision that affects the whole country,” she said in an interview. “All urban centres across Canada have similar needs” for census data, she observed.

“This is not about pointy-headed researchers,” said Mr. Cappe, who was clerk of the Privy Council under prime minister Jean Chrétien and now heads the Institute for Research on Public Policy. “It is about business who needs the information for product development and marketing. It is about charities and NGOs targeting. It is about public health authorities making us healthier.”

A spokesman for Mr. Clement said the minister would comment when his office receives the letter.

Ivan Fellegi, who led Statscan for 22 years before retiring in 2008, said the idea of a voluntary census never came up while he was there. He said he worries that the change would cost more and produce less valuable data.

“I would have resigned over it, because I wouldn’t have wanted to be associated with an exercise that will waste money,” he said, adding that the risk is too great that fewer people may respond to the census, even though it will go to more homes.

At least one Conservative member of Parliament is also concerned by the census decision. In a letter obtained by CBC, Edmonton MP James Rajotte wrote to Mr. Clement “on behalf of a number of my constituents who have expressed concern” about making the long-form version of the census a voluntary exercise.

Mr. Rajotte asked Mr. Clement to explain his rationale “as well as the steps our government is taking to ensure that this change will not negatively impact the quality or accuracy of Statistics Canada’s work.”

With a report from Sarah Boesveld
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #63 on: 2010-08-05 16:26:31 »
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Unfortunate I don't trust the players involved and why this is being done. First hand; this remains a real problem in the Federal Civil Service and is now being overplayed in the Provincial and Municipal governments.

There should be merit based and proper mentoring/training programs to encourage anyone motivated to try to become qualified, but not jobs to anyone before they are qualified.

Cheers

Fritz


Source: National Post
Author: Nick Aveling,
Date: Thursday, Jul. 22, 2010

The Conservatives have ordered a review of federal government affirmative action policies, saying the public service should hire based on merit, not race or ethnicity.

Cabinet ministers Stockwell Day and Jason Kenney announced the review of the Public Service Employment Act, along with any related practices and policies, on Thursday. “While we support diversity in the public service, we want to ensure that no Canadian is barred from opportunities in the public service based on race or ethnicity,” Mr. Day, the Treasury Board President, said in a statement.

Mr. Kenney, meanwhile, was more blunt in his calls for a meritocracy.

“I strongly agree with the objective of creating a public service that reflects the diversity of Canada, and with fair measures designed to reach that goal. But we must ensure that all Canadians have an equal opportunity to work for their government based on merit, regardless of race or ethnicity,” said the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Under the current policy, the federal government targets four “employment equity groups” identified in the Employment Equity Act as being reflective of Canada’s wider diversity: visible minorities, aboriginals, people with disabilities and women. The Public Service Commission of Canada says on its website that most positions are open to all applicants, but that “from time to time, certain positions may be limited to applicants from members of employment equity-designated groups.”

According to the commission’s latest figures, published in 2009, 18.8% of public service employees are visible minorities, 4.2% are aboriginal, 3.3% are people with disabilities and 57.1% are women. Canada-wide, according to the 2006 Statistics Canada census, 16.2% of Canadians are visible minorities, 3.8% are aboriginal and 51% are women. There were no statistics for people with disabilities.

Yesterday’s announcement prompted outrage from the Opposition Liberals.

The Liberals characterized the move as an attack on affirmative action.

“I just think it’s a shameful case of political pandering at the expense of a lot of groups, whether it’s aboriginal Canadians, new Canadians (or) Canadians with disabilities — all of whom we need in the public service,” said Human Resources critic Michael Savage. “They talk about having diversity in the public service, but they have no commitment to it.”

Mr. Day, who is also minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, dismissed Opposition concerns on Thursday.

“As usual, the Opposition is being accusatory, narrow-minded and judgmental because we’ve said we’re looking into something. They’ve gone ballistic based on their own prejudices,” he told the Post. “I can’t account for an irrational response to us doing the responsible thing.”

Mr. Day said the review, to be undertaken by the Treasury Board, was prompted by constituent complaints of discrimination.

“We’ve got competing interests here that are both Charter-based and court-based. Fundamentally, of course, people should not be discriminated against because of ethnicity. At the same time, we want to be inclusive and we want to embrace everybody,” he said.

The review is expected to proceed as quickly as possible, beginning with an investigation into how current policies are being “manifested … day-to-day” within the public service, as well a summation of court rulings related to the Employment Equity Act and related policies.

National Post

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Affirmative%20action%20Ottawa%20overhaul/3311196/story.html#ixzz0ubTWG3a9

This is the biggest news in Canada since Jean Chretien imposed his draconic regulations in 1993.

Ernest Semple from Quebec

Well it took them years to see the obvious and act on it but they finally are going to do something about this. Now about the Language requirement for people not dealing with the public….

Andrew Phillips - Libertarian party of Canada - Ontario Libertarian Party.

Ottawa Sun : July 23, 2010

No prerequisites

Re: “Fed job only open to minorities” (July 21). It’s interesting that when people are denied application due to minorities everyone is on the bandwagon. However, we are heavily discriminated against by not allowing English people to apply to federal or most positions. If you’re English and you find jobs that you qualify for most of the time you need to speak French and read French. This is also discriminatory. There should be no prerequisites regarding application such as: French, bilingual, minorities, you get the picture. Whatever happened to hiring people on merit? Or, applying because you have the qualifications for the job?

Susan Taylor

Ottawa

(Seems those qualifications don’t matter much to some agencies)

Selected comments from the National Post:

anonymous

9:04 PM on July 22, 2010

Wait a minute, in all key categories, the civil service exceeds the minority/gender representation of the country at large? If this is the case, why are we still using race/gender based hiring policies?

anonymous

9:20 PM on July 22, 2010

Ya but they will bar 75% of the population of this country from a career with the opportunity to be promoted to management because they don't speak French! Time to ditch the Official Languages Act too!

MikeMurphy

9:20 PM on July 22, 2010

The Liberals are whining despite the fact all the targeted groups exceed their quotas. Females are now 57.1% up from 55% a year earlier according to this report. I guess the Liberals won’t be happy until most white males are on the dole. They sure know their base and any man who votes for these lefty vote panderers is self destructive.

We have a government with not just regular jewels but by gar they are brass.

anonymous

10:01 PM on July 22, 2010

I've seen too many good people passed over for jobs and promotions to believe for a minute that affirmative hiring has any merit. I've also tried to talk with government employees that couldn't understand basic English or had such thick accents that I couldn't understand them. When you consider that 27% of all fed positions are reserved for Francophones and preference is given to women who are now over-represented, minorities, aboriginals and handicapped, coupled with the designated bi-lingual positions, there is little room for Anglo males in the public service any more. We pay our taxes for the best services we can afford; but, when we start with less than the best available staff, we get short changed from the get go. White anglos are the only group in the country that is subject to race and linguistic blackballing and barred from most employment opportunities in government. This review is long overdue.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #64 on: 2010-08-05 16:34:03 »
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This e-mail got my attention and should concern Canadians. I did some homework and certainly fish farming in itself is not bad but as usual greed and money seem to guarantee that we do it badly and at the expense of the nature and it's resources. Again government's job is to set good policy !

Pisses me off

Fritz



Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 10:52 AM
Subject: [fishermenlist] Critical Public Input Required

Hello All

The federal government has released their proposed Federal Pacific Aquaculture Regulations with a sixty-day public input period.  These regulations role back the safe-guards we have in British Columbia to prevent heavy industrialization and privatization of the coast at the expense of our communities. Once these regulations pass there will be no further public input on how each salmon feedlot licence is written, how many wild fish they can take and what diseases they must report. The federal licences will be issued without First Nation or other consultation and can be expanded without an environmental assessment.  I feel there has to be enormous response or else we all lose, even the people working in the industry, because no retailer is going to want to be in possession of a seafood product authorized to “Harmfully Alter, Disrupt and Destroy” parts of the North Pacific. Oddly these regulations will not apply to the east coast of Canada, where the Minister of Fisheries resides.

There are several options for you to act by the deadline September 12:

See my letter below/attached which interprets the proposed regs and provides a direct link to them
write to Ed Porter who is accepting public input PAR-RPA@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Sign the petition http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dElVTFY0d1JqMGRYR2F6Vnp3QjEzRnc6MQ#gid=0

You can see my presentation on the strong correlation between disease in salmon feedlots and decline of Fraser sockeye "What's New"
http://www.sfu.ca/cstudies/science/

I know it is very hard to react to everything that comes at us, so I have tried to make this easy for you. However, I can’t turn this looming disaster, it requires each and everyone of you and your friends and family. Please pass the petition to all you know.

To stay up to date please frequent www.salmonaresacred.org I will let you know how many people have signed.  Volunteers are hosting events throughout BC this summer to link all of us together and this information will be posted. The T-shirts left from the migration are on my website www.alexandramorton.ca and proceeds go to this effort. 

The Get Out Migration brought thousands of people together, but government does not want to hear from our communities nor of our need for good health in our environment and our bodies. Clearly there needs to be more public response.  That is all that is required to fix this. I will continue to push for protection for salmon feedlot workers, as this is a government mistake and they need not bear the cost of this to our coast.

I think we will have a good Fraser sockeye run this summer and that should tell us the ocean and the river are still highly capable of feeding this coast!  This generation of sockeye has shown one of the least declines and we need to investigate why this run is good and the others have failed so badly.  If we allow government to let salmon feedlot companies hide their disease outbreaks this investigation will be incomplete.  If there is no salmon feedlot disease problem, there should be no reason for secrecy.

Hundreds of people have said “I am behind you Alex,”  but this is not working. We have to stand shoulder to shoulder, where we are all peacefully and strongly visible. This is the only way to save ourselves and our planet. 



Alexandra Morton



July 28, 2010

Ed Porter, Team Leader, Regulatory Operations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
PAR-RPA@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Dear Mr. Ed Porter:

I am responding to the 60-day public comment opportunity on the proposed Federal Pacific Aquaculture Regulations http://www.gazette.gc.ca/cg-gc/about-sujet-eng.html
(left column “Part I Notices and Proposed Regulations” Vol. 144, No. 28, page 1933). 

When BC Supreme Court ruled that the federal government must take over regulation of salmon feedlots, the intent was to bring the industry into compliance with the Constitution of Canada.  But what Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are trying to do instead is remove safeguards established by previous governments and open the door to privatizing the ocean, which is prohibited by the Canadian Constitution.

With his document Harper not only licences massive ecological damage, he depreciates the market value of BC feedlot salmon. No reputable retailer can afford to be seen with a seafood product raised under a licence to “harm, alter, disrupt and destroy” the ocean.  The federal licences will be issued without consultation with First Nations.

“Increasingly stringent international standards are driving seafood importing nations to require Canada to certify health (disease) status, not just food safety, of live aquatic animals and their products. … Canada cannot meet these standards, and is facing increasing challenges to export market access. Canada is already subject to a lesser market access than the United States, Europe ...“ http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2009/2009-12-19/html/reg1-eng.html

Canadian pathologists warn against holding millions of diseased salmon in pens (Traxler et al. 1993) and the graph below demonstrates the reason. There is a strong correlation between salmon feedlot epidemics and the declining Fraser sockeye.  This must be examined, but the provincial government is stonewalling release of salmon feedlot disease records and Harper is stepping in to help.

These draft regulations ignore the International (OIE) and the Canadian Food and Health Inspection Agency standards by exempting salmon feedlots from full disease reporting. Harper is not only offering Norwegian companies the right to leave infected salmon in the water, he is protecting them from liability. If government and the industry are willing to throw away premium market value for disease secrecy we are warned this is a dangerous and strong priority.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is also offering these Norwegian companies blanket authorization for “Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction” of fish habitat (Section 35(1) Fisheries Act). This ignores the value of the oceans to communities across British Columbia. Oddly, these rules will not apply to eastern Canada, where the Minister of Fisheries resides.

Harper is going to legalize destruction of wild fish that become trapped in the pens, attracted by the bright lights and food in the water. There are no surplus wild fish and so this by-catch will compete with fishing quotas.  Many feedlots are in rock cod conservation areas where fishermen are not allowed, but the feedlots will continue trapping unknown amounts. This is bad management and will affect herring, sable fish, salmon, lingcod and other important wild fish.

The federal Conservatives are proposing salmon feedlot licences be granted and amended without environmental assessment.  This violates strong public demand for healthy coastal waters, but neatly resolves the irreconcilable issue of dumping over a ton/day/site of industrial waste into salmon habitat. These are the only feedlots that never have to shovel manure and chemical waste as it flows conveniently into public waters. 

It is dangerous to humanity, (risking food security, drug resistance, disease mutation) to allow feedlots to contaminate natural environments with disease. Feedlots remove all the natural disease control mechanisms and thus allow viruses to mutate, multiply and jump to new species.

Because Mr. Harper is proposing to remove standards designed to protect the ocean from Norwegian feedlots, retailers like COSTCO will have to decide if their mission statements honor government or their customers. Promising to “Exceed ecological standards required in every community where we do business,” is meaningless if there are no ecological standards.

Salmon feedlots are an “ecology of bad ideas,” struggling to control disease with drugs, corrupting the foodchain by using warm-blooded animal products, plants and fish from the southern hemisphere as feed, displacing local businesses, turning a public resource into a corporate commodity with no public access, dyeing their fish pink to resemble salmon. If jobs were the goal, the federal Conservatives and BC Liberals would be working with the BC companies developing sustainable land-based aquaculture to create a viable, world-class product. Instead Mr. Harper is proposing to change the laws of Canada to allow unchecked pollution by a 92% Norwegian-owned industry associated wild salmon declines worldwide. Wild salmon are thriving everywhere this industry does not exist (Alaska, Iceland, western Pacific, areas of BC).

These proposed regulations are a signpost. If this was about fish, attention would have been paid to the market value of the product. Instead it risks one of the last naturally producing salmon regions in the world for a depreciating commodity. What these draft regulations do is clear away legislation established to protect Canadians and our coast from industrialization and privatization.

Ed Porter, the proposed Federal Pacific Aquaculture Regulations do not protect the interests of Canadians or the world and must not be adopted.
Sincerely,

Alexandra Morton


The Fraser sockeye decline began at the same time government failed to cull millions of IHN virus infected feedlot salmon on the Fraser River migration routes. Government ignored federal scientists who state infected Atlantic salmon should not be permitted in pens (Traxler et al 1993). The federal government also ignored warnings from their scientists that would have saved the North Atlantic cod.  When the cod went extinct the Hibernia Oil wells appeared on the Grand Banks – the most generous food-producing area humanity will ever have was exchanged for oil.
 Morton_critique_Federal_Regs.pdf
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #65 on: 2010-08-05 17:34:29 »
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Finally the word is getting out on our dirty little project.

Cheers

Fritz


Tarred with the same brush
The Gulf spill has focused American minds on pollution from Canadian oil producers. But cleaning up the tar sands will not be easy

Source: Economist
Author: Economist Print
Aug 5th 2010 | OTTAWA

“A GOOD neighbour lends you a cup of sugar,” read an ad in the Washington Post last month. “A great neighbour supplies you with 1.4 million barrels of oil a day.” Ed Stelmach, the premier of the energy-rich province of Alberta, certainly knows how to make the case for Canadian petroleum. Buying from Canada neither props up an authoritarian regime nor exposes the United States to political manipulation of its energy supply. Little wonder, then, that Canada is the biggest exporter of oil to America, with 22% of the total. The runners-up, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, have just 11-12% each. And the country’s potential seems limitless: Canada’s 179 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves rank second in the world.



There is, however, a catch: Canadian crude is dirty. Just over half the country’s oil comes from tar sands, a mixture of water, sand, clay and bitumen—an extremely dense and thick form of petroleum, which usually must be melted before it can be extracted and refined. It takes up to four barrels of water to generate one barrel of tar-sands crude, and 20% of Canada’s natural gas (a clean fuel) is used to produce oil (a dirty one). Mining the sands also strips forest and creates vast ponds of toxic byproducts. According to America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), producing Canadian tar-sands oil generates 82% more greenhouse-gas emissions than does the average barrel refined in the United States.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and of a pipeline rupture that shed 19,500 barrels of Canadian oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo river last month, concern in America is growing over the environmental consequences of oil exploration. Federal government agencies were banned from buying tar-sands oil in 2007. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, calls it “the dirtiest source of transportation fuel currently available”. This year he was one of 50 lawmakers who complained to Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, that her department had not analysed the environmental impact of a proposed pipeline extension that would more than double imports from the sands. The epa then recommended that the department, which must approve international pipelines, consider alternatives to Canadian crude. On July 26th the department extended its review of the project by 90 days.


Changing the status quo, however, will be hard. The oil industry’s economic importance to Canada has consistently trumped green concerns. Energy, including natural gas, conventional oil and coal, makes up a quarter of Alberta’s $211 billion economy. The rest of the country benefits from service and supply contracts with energy companies, and from the government’s redistribution of Alberta’s wealth to poorer provinces. At the peak of the commodity boom in 2008, energy was Canada’s largest export. As a result, the sands have only been lightly regulated. Instead of being 6% below 1990 levels of greenhouse-gas emissions by 2012, its commitment under the Kyoto protocol, Canada will be 30% above.

Stephen Harper, the prime minister, built his political career in Alberta and shares its energy-friendly attitudes. He has refused to implement a new emissions policy until America does. Given the Democrats’ recent decision to drop a cap-and-trade bill in the Senate, that seems a long way off. It also means the environmental costs of the sands’ oil are not about to be reflected in their price. In fact, the political fallout from the Gulf spill might actually increase America’s dependence on Canadian supplies, if demands for new limits on offshore drilling are met.



Moreover, efforts to press Canada into cleaning up the business would face stiff resistance from America’s energy lobby, since many operators in the sands are based in the United States. One of the draft energy bills floating around the Senate this year even proposed removing the ban on government purchases of tar-sands oil. And even if America does try to reduce its imports, China will be more than happy to take them. Chinese firms have already begun investing heavily in the sands.

The best hope to reduce pollution from the sands is probably finding alternative energy sources or cutting consumption. Transforming tar sands into crude is costly as well as dirty: the process only becomes profitable with oil prices in the $60-85 range or higher. Indeed, the recession put 70% of proposed investment there on hold, although half of that has since restarted, according to Jackie Forrest of IHS CERA, an energy-forecasting firm. With just a modest fall in oil prices, the sands’ production would start to go.
« Last Edit: 2010-08-05 18:52:57 by Fritz » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #66 on: 2010-08-07 11:58:54 »
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I'm always amazed at the: cat and mouse, scratch my back and I'll scratch yours, symbiotic .... incestuous ... relationship between the 'Media' and the 'Government'.

Cheer

Fritz

PS: The Canadian government is an elected democracy ... if you weren't sure ....certainly I'm not always ....



Why Harper wasn’t asked about census

Source: Globe and Mail
Author: Steven Chase
Date: Friday, August 6, 2010 3:02 PM



So here's how things unfolded at the Rideau Hall press availability with Stephen Harper after his mini cabinet shuffle Friday. Readers can judge for themselves what they think of the process.
It was Mr. Harper's first time taking questions from journalists in more than 30 days. Assembled reporters were informed the Prime Minister would answer only two questions from English-speaking media and two from French-speaking media.
Faced with limited opportunity to quiz the Prime Minister, journalists talked amongst themselves to see who would ask Mr. Harper questions. This is common Press Gallery practice in these circumstances. Reporters do not always agree to participate in these pooled questions and are free to ask for their own chance to pose a different query.
A group of reporters from CBC, Postmedia (formerly Canwest), The Globe and Mail and other outlets discussed how they would divvy up the two English questions. They also consulted with French-speaking colleagues to ensure there wasn't overlap in what was being asked.
It was agreed journalists from CBC and Postmedia would ask the English questions. Roughly speaking, these were as follows:
1) Regarding Mr. Harper's repeated statements about avoiding an “unnecessary election,” where is the evidence that opposition parties are champing at the bit to trigger one?
2) On the controversial decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census, does Mr. Harper in hindsight feel it was a mistake?
Postmedia reporter Norma Greenaway approached Prime Minister's Office deputy director of communications Mike White and said she wanted to ask a question. She was the first name to be placed on the list Mr. White was preparing. She also told him that CBC reporter Terry Milewski wanted to ask a question.
Mr. White told The Globe that while he wrote down Ms. Greenaway's name first, he can't recall whose name he put down second. It may have been a reporter from the Hill Times, an independent Parliament Hill newspaper.
While this was taking place, Sun Media bureau chief David Akin also requested his own question. As did veteran CTV journalist Craig Oliver. This is customary when not all reporters agree on what should be in the pooled questions.
The French-speaking media submitted names to ask French language questions. These were Joël-Denis Bellavance, bureau chief for Montreal's La Presse, and Stéphane Leclerc of Radio-Canada.
During the Rideau Hall question-and-answer session, Mr. White signalled to reporters to tell them who was going to be allowed to ask questions.
CTV's Mr. Oliver was picked to go first. He asked the Prime Minister if he was worried about the Conservative Party's apparent decline in the polls and whether the government was planning a second economic stimulus package.
Two French-language questions followed: on John Baird's appointment as Government House leader and Ottawa’s plans for future health care spending.
Finally, Sun Media's Mr. Akin was selected by Mr. White to ask the second English question.
Mr. Akin asked the Prime Minister about the fact that federal money is being used to support a Canadian theatre festival that features the play Homegrown. The production focuses on Shareef Abdelhaleem, who was convicted for his role in the “Toronto 18” terror plot.
That was it for questions.
Neither Ms. Greenaway nor Mr. Milewski got to quiz the Prime Minister. This meant, among other things, that Mr. Harper has still not answered a media question about the census controversy that’s blown up in recent weeks.
Queried later about how the PMO decides which outlets will ask questions, Mr. White said his office doesn't merely follow the chronological order on the list of requests it gathers
“We do not do first come first serve. We never have,” Mr. White told The Globe.
Mr. White said if the PMO awarded questions based on who asked first, it could lead to favouritism towards one medium – print, TV or radio – or one language.
He said the Tories try to balance the questions awarded to ensure there's a just distribution by medium and language.
The PMO official also noted he didn't know that some English-speaking reporters had collectively submitted two of the questions.
"No one ever told me that,” Mr. White said, suggesting had he known that, it would be “a different story.”
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« Reply #67 on: 2010-08-29 17:16:42 »
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Yet another alarm bell for the risk of the whole sale selling of our country. We need a national debate to let the citizens of this country chime in to set clear policies on the sale or not of our natural resources. This is very quickly turning into the death by a thousand cuts.

Cheers

Fritz


BHP plays down odds of competing bid for Potash Corp.

Source :Globe and Mail
Author: Reuters
Date: Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010



Hostile offer timed to capitalize on weakened position of rivals, CFO says

Global miner BHP (BHP-N67.371.572.39%) on Sunday played down any chance of raising its $38.6-billion (U.S.) bid for fertilizer maker Potash Corp. (POT-T154.991.651.08%) saying it had timed its move to catch out weakened rival bidders.

Chief financial officer Alex Vanselow, speaking in an Australian television interview, also said the hostile bid had been timed to ensure more ready access to credit markets.

“The opportunity in Potash is that we are now in a situation that our balance sheet allows us to raise the credit necessary to buy, the valuations match, and, basically, if you look at the landscape of competitors, they're not in the same position as we are,” Mr. Vanselow told ABC's Inside Business show.

“So you've taken all this into consideration – you can see this is an opportune time to make a bid.”

BHP, the world's biggest miner, unveiled its biggest half-year profit in two years on Wednesday, with just $3.3-billion (U.S.) in net debt and gearing at a low 6 per cent, putting it in a strong position to raise its offer if necessary.

Potash Corp.’s shares last traded at about 14 per cent more than BHP’s offer price, as investors bet that BHP will have to pay more or another bidder will emerge, but Mr. Vanselow said there was no need for BHP to raise its offer of $130 a share.

“There is only one offer on the table, so why would we compete against ourselves?”

Rival miner Rio Tinto PLC is considered unlikely to make a counterbid as it has only just recovered from a mountain of debt it took on for its $38-billion takeover of Alcan Inc. three years ago. Rio Tinto has since said that it would only consider smaller acquisitions.

Brazil’s Vale SA, which is building a potash business, has said it is not looking at Potash Corp.

That has stoked speculation that the only potential counterbidders would include a player from China, the world's biggest importer of potash, a key nutrient needed to boost crop yields as food consumption soars.

China's largest fertilizer distributor, Sinofert Holdings Ltd., said on Thursday it was worried a BHP takeover of Potash Corp. would have a big impact on the company but would not say if its parent, Sinochem, was planning a rival offer.

BHP chief executive officer Marius Kloppers is in North America, set to meet with BHP shareholders to discuss the bid and the group’s results. He is expected to start wooing Potash Corp. shareholders, many of whom are also BHP stakeholders.

A Reuters survey indicated Potash shareholders would accept an offer of $162 a share.

Under U.K. listing rules, the $38.6-billion offer does not need a BHP shareholder vote as it is worth less than 25 per cent of BHP's market value of $188-billion the day before the bid was launched.

But if the bid were sweetened, the 25-per-cent threshold would apply to BHP’s market value on the day before the announcement of the higher offer. Based on BHP’s market value on August 27, an increase of just over 10 per cent in the bid to $43-billion put it near or in the range of triggering a BHP shareholder vote.

Mr. Vanselow said BHP would also look into what happened at Santander, the euro zone’s largest bank and an adviser on BHP’s bid, after one of the bank’s employees was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with insider trading in Potash Corp. securities ahead of the bid.

Asked if BHP would hesitate to use Santander again, he said: “I think we will investigate what happened, we’ll get the feedback from Santander and then we’ll decide on that.”


NDP Want Potash Take-Over Details

Source : Moose Jaw Discover
Author: na
Date: na

The NDP is demanding Ottawa listen to Saskatchewan people before making a decision on the BHP Billiton hostile take-over bid.

Leader Dwaine Lingenfelter says Saskatchewan people own the potash being mined and deserve to have a say in what happens with it. Lingenfelter says,"I'm sure the board of directors at BHP Billiton have reviewed in great detail the offer, and Sask Potash Corporation will review and have all the details, the problem is that Saskatchewan taxpayers haven't seen the deal."

Lingenfelter wants details of any possible offer. He says,"that's why we sent the letter to Ottawa, because in the letter we urged the federal government not to sign off on this deal until Saskatchewan people have had a chance to review the details of the arrangement. Because at this point in time, no one knows whether the arrangement proposed by BHP Billiton is good or bad for the Saskatchewan taxpayer."

The federal government is required to review all possible sales of corporations that deal with natural resources and that would include potash.

Premier Brad Wall believes Ottawa will listen to Saskatchewan before signing off on any potential deal, whether it's BHP or another investor.




BHP Billiton
Making the earth move
BHP Billiton’s remarkable growth has been driven by luck, shrewd dealmaking and, above all, China’s demand for steel 


Source: Economist
Author: Print Edition
Date: Aug 19th 2010


Where there’s muck, there’s copper and zinc

AROUND the turn of the millennium the bosses of Billiton, an ambitious South African mining company, sat in the lobby of a big fund manager waiting to talk up their firm’s prospects. At first they were welcomed warmly. But their hosts’ smiles turned to frowns when they discovered that the waiting delegation was from a firm in the unfashionable business of mining. They had been expecting a group from lastminute.com, an online travel agent with a seemingly bright future.

In March 2001, after the dotcom boom ran out of puff, Billiton and Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP), an Australian rival, revealed plans to merge. A decade on BHP Billiton is a vast multinational in a business dominated by powerful firms. Its financial might was made apparent on August 17th, when PotashCorp, a Canadian fertiliser firm, rejected a $40 billion unsolicited takeover offer from BHP, calling the bid “grossly inadequate”. Earlier this year the firm was instrumental in the opposition to Kevin Rudd, then Australia’s prime minister, who was trying to impose a supertax on mining firms (Mr Rudd resigned in June, partly as a result). Its market capitalisation of $190 billion puts it ninth on the list of the world’s largest listed companies. And as for lastminute.com, it was snapped up by Sabre, an American travel firm, for just £577m ($1.07 billion) in 2005.

Mining has been a good business in the past few years, thanks largely to China. Once a minor consumer, that country is now hungry for metal to reinforce its office buildings and keep its factories humming. In 2009 China nabbed fully 67% of all internationally traded iron ore.



But BHP has outshone its peers in recent years, as its shares’ performance demonstrates (see chart 1). In 2001 the newly merged company was only just bigger than Rio Tinto, an Anglo-Australian miner that is its nearest competitor. Rio’s market capitalisation is now less than two-thirds of BHP’s. Forecasts suggest that BHP, which reports annual results on August 25th, could make over $12 billion in profits. And if Rio has not kept pace, Anglo American, the world’s second-biggest miner before the BHP-Billiton merger, has fared even worse: it is currently less than one-third of BHP’s size.

BHP has achieved its dominant position through a combination of luck and good judgment. More than in many other industries, building a mining giant means striking the right deal at the right time. The valuations of mining firms fluctuate greatly along with the prices of the stuff they dig out of the ground, making it easy to overpay for them when times are good. BHP’s deals have been more daring and have proved more advantageous than those of its rivals. Oddly, it has done well even out of a deal that failed to come together.

The architects of the merger between BHP and Billiton reckoned most other mining companies had two big faults. First, the incumbents tended to assume that shovel-handed engineers were just the sort of chaps to run big mining companies. In reality they were much better at digging holes in the ground than unearthing returns for their shareholders. Second, most firms were medium-sized and relied on a single commodity to drive profits. Cyclical shifts in demand sent their fortunes swinging wildly. They found it difficult to achieve the consistent investment needed in an industry where ten years can pass between the discovery of a new deposit and a mine reaching full production.

There was an exception. Rio Tinto (which we should disclose was run for much of the 1990s by Sir Robert Wilson, a former chairman of The Economist) had set a new model as a large, diversified mining company that could afford the capital outlays needed for the biggest projects. Rio tried to insulate itself from the ebb and flow of commodity prices by acquiring interests in a wide portfolio of metals whose prices would not fall as far or as fast as each other at the same time.

The new company would emulate Rio in this way. It would also follow its competitor by concentrating on assets that were, in mining jargon, “tier one”. The merged firm brought together low-cost, easily expandable mines that would remain profitable even when commodity prices were low. And its bosses sought to ensure that any acquisitions were of the same standard.

The model of the diversified mining giant was Rio’s but its upstart competitor beat it at its own game. Believing that Rio’s pre-eminence had led it to rest on its achievements, BHP set about shedding its low-margin steel and shipping businesses, and began to concentrate on digging. Slimmed down and with money to spare, it began to snap up smaller outfits.

Some of its purchases were risky. In 2005 the firm paid $7 billion, then a big sum for a mining deal, to buy WMC Resources, an Australian company. WMC’s most important asset was Olympic Dam, a huge copper and gold mine which is also the world’s largest uranium deposit. The deal was widely reckoned a mistake. Conventional wisdom had it that 2005 was the top of the copper market and that commodity prices would soon tumble. In fact China’s mountainous demand for the metal had barely reached the foothills (see chart 2).


A stumble and a courtship

BHP’s timing was as good as its rival’s proved poor when, two years later, Rio won a desperate bidding battle for Alcan, a Canadian aluminium-maker. Many of Rio’s subsequent travails are a result of the enormous debt it took on to outbid America’s Alcoa with a knockout $38 billion offer. Alcan is a handy asset—the vast amounts of energy required to smelt aluminium are supplied by reliable, cheap hydroelectricity. But Rio paid too much for it. Confident talk of a “super-cycle” of permanently high commodities prices notwithstanding, demand was about to drop. The deal was a near catastrophe for Rio and a burden which has only recently lifted. The firm has slashed debts from $39 billion to $12 billion over the past year.

A few months after Rio bought Alcan, BHP approached Rio with an audacious takeover bid worth some $135 billion. It was not the first attempt at courtship: Rio and Broken Hill Proprietary had discussed a merger in 1999. But the headwinds were still too strong in 2007. Rio, which had just taken on its current chief executive, Tom Albanese, was loth to entertain an offer from its archrival. The prospect of a commodities powerhouse filled customers with dread. The credit crunch would have made it hard for BHP to service Rio’s debts in addition to the ones it would acquire during the takeover. And the recession caused a crash in commodity prices worse than the miners expected.

So the bid flopped, at great cost for BHP. The company paid some $380m in fees for lawyers, bankers and accountants to prepare the putative deal, including the cost of a mammoth $55 billion debt facility to finance it. But the aftermath of the deal turned out worse for its chief competitor.

Still laden with debt from the purchase of Alcan, Rio was beginning to suffer from the economic downdraught by the end of 2008. It also had a big new shareholder in the form of Chinalco, an aluminium firm controlled by the Chinese government. Chinalco had taken a 9% stake in Rio in a dawn raid in February 2008, shortly before BHP made formal its unofficial approach to Rio. The Chinese, petrified of a vast new mining company using its pricing power over the raw materials that the country craved, hoped to use the stake to thwart BHP’s advances on Rio.

Meanwhile BHP was emerging from the recession stronger than other miners. Its robust balance-sheet allowed it to maintain investment while other big firms slashed capital expenditure. In 2009 BHP spent $10.9 billion, more than the previous year’s spending of $9.5 billion. Rio, in contrast, spent $5.4 billion in 2009, some $4 billion below what it had planned to spend. The steady investment helped BHP keep mines running at peak productivity levels and let it expand some projects.

The world’s biggest mining firm soon had another opportunity to deal with its rival. Chinalco offered to invest $20 billion in Rio in early 2009 in a deal that would have given it a share in some mines and seen its stake in the whole company rise to 18%. To the ire of the Chinese, Rio pulled out of the deal. The firm’s financial position was improving along with rising commodity prices, and rebellious shareholders were insisting on a conventional rights issue. Instead of taking Chinalco’s cash, in June 2009 Rio turned to its suitor of old—BHP.

The timing suited a deal, but this time a joint venture rather than a merger of BHP and Rio. Paul Skinner, an obdurate opponent of BHP’s advances, had recently stood down as chairman of Rio. BHP’s then chairman, Don Argus, persuaded his new counterpart of the merits of a 50-50 joint venture of the companies’ iron-ore operations. After all, crunching together the two firms’ enterprises in the Pilbara region in Australia was one of the main reasons that a full merger between BHP and Rio had seemed so attractive.

This deal is still being scrutinised by regulators. The joint venture would produce 350m tonnes of iron a year, more than a third of the total seaborne trade—something that worries steelmakers. By combining rail lines, ports and other infrastructure the pair hope to save some $10 billion.


From miner to major

In many respects the proposed joint venture favours BHP. As the smaller partner in the Pilbara, it will pay Rio $5.8 billion to equalise their ownership. A steep rise in iron-ore prices since the end of last year makes that now seem cheap. And Rio has more advanced infrastructure in the Pilbara, including plans for remote-controlled lorries and trains. In June it opened a control centre for these operations in Perth, 1,500km distant from its mines. BHP’s Port Hedland, where its ore is transferred to ships, is already operating close to capacity. Expensive plans to build an outer harbour there may no longer be necessary now that the joint venture could choose the cheaper option of extending Rio’s port at Cape Lambert.

As well as making bold deals, BHP has shaken up a conservative industry. After the 2001 merger the firm began to attack the layers of management that had built up within it—an almost inevitable result of having to manage diverse, far-flung operations. At one point the company identified 9,000 levels of management authority across its many businesses. BHP still battles with the complexity of running nine business units spread across the world. But it claims to have pruned management to 30 levels and has a group dedicated to stopping the number from rising.

The clearest example of BHP’s efforts to change the way miners do business is its role in the demise of the decades-old benchmark system for trading iron ore. For many years iron prices were thrashed out in private negotiations between the world’s three big ore producers (BHP, Rio and Vale, a Brazilian firm) and the world’s leading steelmakers. The result was an agreement for all steelmakers to pay the same prices for the whole year.

Marius Kloppers, BHP’s chief executive, led a campaign to introduce a more flexible system. For many years prices had been low and stable but the arrival of China as a big buyer had led to huge annual increases. If spot prices rose over the course of a year miners could not take advantage until the next round of negotiations. In contrast, when prices fell in 2008 the benchmark system offered steelmakers a free option to abandon contracts and buy on the spot market. That frustrated the miners.

For their part, Chinese officials had gradually come to believe equally firmly that miners were asking too high a price for their ore. As a result, negotiations with the country had become increasingly protracted and difficult. Last year, after months of discussions, China’s negotiators failed to reach an agreement with the miners. Rio and Vale were still reluctant to change the system. But earlier this year, after another round of difficult negotiations with China, both companies came round to BHP’s way of thinking. Iron ore is now sold on quarterly contracts at a price closely linked to spot markets.

This new price-setting system may help BHP in another way. The wary regulators who are scrutinising its proposed joint venture with Rio may look more favourably on a firm that helped do away with a somewhat secretive system of annual price-bargaining.

In all, BHP’s smart dealmaking has made it not just the biggest but the most influential and the best-positioned of the big mining firms. Alongside its interests in iron ore, coal and a host of metals it owns a large oil and gas business. Last year this contributed a fifth of profits. It provides an extra layer of diversity and a hedge against volatile prices in an industry that is a heavy user of energy. Vedanta, a big Indian miner, is following BHP’s example. On August 16th it said that it would pay close to $10 billion to buy control of the Indian oilfields of Britain’s Cairn Energy.

The Chinese economy is now growing at a rapid clip—it is forecast to expand by 10% this year. That leaves BHP and its rivals facing a question and a danger. The pleasant question is what to do with their cash. Other miners also regaining decent financial health are on the lookout for the big deals that bring scale and greater diversification. Earlier this year Xstrata, a relative newcomer to the business which has rapidly grown to the size of Anglo American through a series of takeovers, attempted to persuade Anglo to join it in a nil-premium merger. The offer was smartly rebuffed by Anglo’s board.


Not such a big deal?

Xstrata’s response to the brush-off hints at how much has changed in the mining business in the past few years. The firm’s boss, Mick Davis, who had helped orchestrate the BHP merger when he was an executive at Billiton, announced that his company was henceforth likely to grow organically. For a company that has expanded through the cut-and-thrust of dealmaking this is a significant reversal. Few believe that Mr Davis will eschew deals altogether (he may yet try his luck again with Anglo) but his statement hints at the scarcity of plausible takeover targets. There are, indeed, few firms left that are big enough to interest mining giants like BHP and Rio.

And what of diversification, the goal of many big miners in the past decade? BHP’s offer for PotashCorp suggests the firm is still pursuing it. Agriculture is a fairly reliable industry and demand for potash-based fertilisers ought to grow along with demand for meat in developing countries: both China and India are huge importers of the stuff. But there are other signs that diversification is falling from favour in mining circles. In May Vale, which itself tried and failed to land Xstrata around the time that BHP pursued Rio, sold its aluminium business to Norway’s Norsk Hydro. Although Vale will keep some exposure to the metal by retaining a 22% stake in Hydro, the sale challenges the mega-miners’ orthodoxy of spreading their eggs between various baskets.

The reason for the change is that, in effect, the mining firms’ eggs are all in a new basket—not a single product this time but a single country. So dependent are they on Chinese demand that even a diversified portfolio may not be much of a defence against a downturn. BHP is also becoming more dependent on the steelmakers. The proportion of its revenues that come from iron ore, metallurgical coal and stainless-steel ingredients rose from 34% in 2007 to 39% in 2009. The company is handily positioned to benefit from China’s growth, which is heavily dependent on steel. But it also poses a greater risk should China’s economy, and particularly the steel-skeletoned property market, wobble.

By making a large offer for PotashCorp, BHP has given a clear indication of where it intends to deploy the considerable financial firepower its success has brought. But success on that front is not guaranteed: PotashCorp seems determined to remain independent. Another possibility is that Rio will pull out of the planned iron-ore joint venture if regulators impose too many conditions. That would clear the way for Mr Kloppers to set his sights on a full takeover again. As Andrew Keen of HSBC points out, if Rio was attractive to BHP when it had debts of $40 billion why would it not be now?

As the benefits of diversification ebb, the benefits of scale are growing. Vast size and the power it confers might be one way to counterbalance the miners’ dependence on China. BHP’s efforts to acquire Rio might, like the mining business itself, turn out to be cyclical.

Where there’s muck, there’s copper and zinc
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #68 on: 2010-09-03 12:46:00 »
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Can we avoid the media dissolve into the US of A? And should we ? or does this have nothing to do with it.

Cheers

Fritz


Margaret Atwood takes on ‘Fox News North’

Source: The Globe and Mail
Author: Jane Taber
Date: September 1, 2010



Margaret Atwood is criticizing Stephen Harper over what she sees as his dictatorial approach to regulating the airwaves.

The literary icon has signed an online petition aimed at keeping a “Fox News North” channel off the air in Canada. But it’s not the idea of a right-wing television station she’s objecting to. Rather, the prolific and celebrated writer doesn’t like the Prime Minister’s style of governing.

“Of course Fox & Co. can set up a channel or whatever they want to do, if it's legal etc.,” she told The Globe and Mail in an email. “But it shouldn't happen this way. It's like the head-of-census affair – gov't direct meddling in affairs that are supposed to be arm's length – so do what they say or they fire you.

“It's part of the ‘I make the rules around here,’ Harper-is-a-king thing,” she wrote.

Her involvement sparked a debate on Twitter with conservative blogger Stephen Taylor and Sun Media’s Ottawa bureau chief, David Akin, Tuesday night. Both men say she is accusing the Sun – which is seeking to launch a right-wing TV channel – of “hate speech.”

“So disappointing you would put your name to what is an anti-free speech movement,” Mr. Akin said. “You’re smarter than that.”

The petition is being circulated by an online advocacy group called Avaaz. It is calling on Canadians to “Stop Fox News North.” More than 34,000 people has so far signed the petition, which says:

“Prime Minister Harper is trying to push American-style hate media onto our airwaves, and make us all pay for it. His plan is to create a ‘Fox News North’ to mimic the kind of hate-filled propaganda with which Fox News has poisoned U.S. politics. The channel will be run by Harper’s former top aide and will be funded with money from our cable TV fees!”

It applauds “the CRTC’s refusal to allow a new ‘Fox News North’ channel to be funded from our cable fees.” The Prime Minister, the petition says, should “immediately stop all pressure on the CRTC on this matter.”

There have been reports that Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission chairman Konrad von Finckenstein’s job is in jeopardy over this. The Prime Minister’s Office denies that any pressure is being applied.

The idea of a right-wing news channel in Canada gained traction when Quebecor hired Kory Teneycke, Mr. Harper’s former director of communications, as its vice-president of development. Quebecor owns Sun Media and its desired new channel, to be called SunTV, has been dubbed “Tory TV” and “Fox News North” by its critics.

So far the CRTC is opting not to allow the channel a Category 1 license, which would give it preferred status on the television dial.

Ms. Atwood's concern is not with the network’s proposed agenda. Instead, she’s worried about potential interference by the Harper government.

“Some people signing the petition object to the expected content. I object to the process,” she told The Globe. “It's the [prime ministerial] pressure on yet another civil servant that bothers me. These folks are supposed to be working for the taxpayer, not the PM.”

Some in the blogosphere are objecting to her decision to sign the petition. Mr. Taylor, for example, is questioning whether the author believes “Sun Media is in the biz of broadcasting hate speech.”

Like many Tories, Mr. Taylor also takes issue with the government funding of the CBC. As such, he asked Ms. Atwood: “Is the CBC and its compulsory funding essential to ‘free speech’ or against it in your view?”

But the author held her own, firing back with a quip about Munir Sheikh, who resigned as head of Statistics Canada over the government’s changes to the census.

“Naughty Stephen,” she said. “We're not talking about the CBC but about the coercion of an arm's length person, like Census head.”

Update The CRTC has scheduled a public hearing on SunTV's license application for Nov. 19 in Gatineau, Que.


Latest Comments

18010
        
9/1/2010 3:31:47 PM
Margaret Atwood is criticizing Stephen Harper over what she sees as his dictatorial approach to regulating the airwaves.
.

Just watch the CaVeRs squeeeeeeeeeel
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Vitamin D
        
9/1/2010 3:34:52 PM
It isn't so much that Harper is acting like an autocrat. He is. It's how he's been getting away with it that is so disturbing.
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18010
        
9/1/2010 3:36:30 PM
Margaret Atwood is criticizing stephen harper over what she sees as his dictatorial approach to regulating the airwaves.
.
.
Go get the fascists Margaret.

Under the Fascist regime of the harper Gang, Canada is quickly becoming a country in the world where people in fact could lose their life for posting items disagreeing with great fat leader. I truly don’t want Canada to ever become like one of those places.


The harper minority government has been monitoring political messages online, and even correcting what it considers misinformation. One local expert says the government is taking things too far.

Under the pilot program the harper minority government paid a media company $75,000 to monitor and respond to online postings

http://www.news1130.com/news/national/article/58287--harper-government-monitoring-online-chats-about-politics
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Liberal cash envelopes
        
9/1/2010 3:36:39 PM
I guess she only approves of the CRTC's dictatorial control over the airwaves. She obviously doesn't believe in diversity of opinion either. SunTv should sue her for slander. She avoids the question about the CBC. typical socialist .....
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ProVertias
        
9/1/2010 3:36:47 PM
Atwood is another left wing nut who are threatened by freedom of speech. All is ok with the world so long as it's only their point of view.
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Liberal cash envelopes
        
9/1/2010 3:38:09 PM
Is there an online petition to stop public funding of the CBC? Can someone here start one?
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Son of a Pig and a Monkey
        
9/1/2010 3:39:32 PM
Moderator's Note: Son of a Pig and a Monkey's comment was not consistent with our guidelines and has been removed.
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Toronto_Tax​_Guy
        
9/1/2010 3:40:51 PM
"Margaret Atwood is criticizing Stephen Harper over what she sees as his dictatorial approach to regulating the airwaves."

I'm forced to pay for CBC whether or not I want that and she has no problem.

A new channel comes along that you have to actually choose whether or not you want and that's dictatorial?

MY dictionary must be really out of date since it seems to indicate the reverse of what Ms. Atwood is saying.
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18010
        
9/1/2010 3:40:58 PM


time for all true Canadians to Stand up and Fight for Canada and her democracy. time to end Canada's still a Minority reign of terror on Canadians freedoms and rights.

Just say NO to harper's Gang of Canada haters.
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Bankruptbab​y
        
9/1/2010 3:41:02 PM
Hahaha,
Free speech is the socialist's enemy. Is she going after these comment boards in the Globe and Mail next?

This channel will not cost taxpayers $1B + annually like the CBC. Opposite - they will pay net tax. Awesome, this will lessen the debt burden on the children that all already enslaved in the older generations trillion of debt.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #69 on: 2010-09-03 12:53:03 »
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Okey everyone ... wave to the nice man ...so he can get it right !

Cheers

Fritz

PS: thx to 18010 for the heads up


Harper government monitoring online chats about politics
Correcting what it calls 'misinformation'


Source: 1130 News
Author: Sheila Scott
Date: May 23, 2010



OTTAWA (NEWS1130) - The Harper government has been monitoring political messages online, and even correcting what it considers misinformation. One local expert says the government is taking things too far.

Under the pilot program the Harper government paid a media company $75,000 to monitor and respond to online postings about the east coast seal hunt.

UBC Computer Science professor and President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Richard Rosenberg, says it seems unnecessary for the government to be going this far.  "The government has a lot of power, that it feels the need to monitor public bulletin boards, or places where people express views and then to respond to that, seems to me going beyond a reasonable action the government should be taking."

Rosenberg says knowing that the government is monitoring certain topics online could result in people being more careful with their identities when they're posting about political issues on the internet.

He says it's the first time he's heard of this happening in Canada.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #70 on: 2010-09-15 18:36:13 »
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Sigh ... Fritz

Canada's armed forces Fighting to keep fighting

Stephen Harper has tried to make his mild-mannered country a warrior nation. But his citizens have only so much stomach—and money—for the fight

Source: The Economist
Author: n/a
Date: Sep 9th 2010 | Ottawa



LAST month a spokesman for Canada’s prime minister sent reporters a breathless e-mail recounting the exploits of two CF-18 fighter jets. It said they had forced Russian bombers heading for Canada’s Arctic airspace to turn around, and ended with a boast that the government was giving pilots “staring down Russian long-range bombers” the best equipment possible—like the 65 F-35 fighters the government plans to buy for C$16 billion ($15.4 billion). The cold war language was soon mocked—especially after NORAD, the United States-Canada defence body, said that such flights were routine and that NORAD itself had conducted a joint exercise with Russia a few weeks earlier. “The Russians aren’t coming”, read one headline.

Yet humour aside, the episode reflected a once-familiar scepticism about defence spending that has been largely absent since Stephen Harper took power in 2006. Until now, Canadians have supported his beefing up of the armed forces through more funding and combat. But with Canada’s mission in Afghanistan ending next year and a record budget deficit, his expansion of the armed forces, unprecedented in modern times, may be reaching its limit.

Canada was a big air- and sea-power after the second world war, and deployed combat troops in the Korean war. Since then, however, its forces have focused on peacekeeping. In the 1990s a Liberal government balanced the budget on the back of the army, in what Rick Hillier, a former chief of defence staff, called a “decade of darkness” that left the forces on “life support”. Cuts to ammunition and training hurt morale, as did the disbanding of an airborne regiment, after one of its members killed a Somali civilian in 1993.

Mr Harper, a Conservative, has charged to the rescue. He has increased defence spending from C$14.8 billion a year when he took office to C$21 billion. That bought new transport planes and helicopters for the air force, and M-777 howitzers and heavy-armoured transport trucks and engineering vehicles for the army, the better to withstand roadside bombs. (The navy has been less fortunate.) The first Canadian soldiers to arrive in Afghanistan in 2002 wore green camouflage designed for forests, because the army had sold its sand-coloured uniforms. Now they sport desert-hued outfits with a digitalised pattern redesigned for added stealth.

Mr Harper has had the troops put their new kit to use. He has raised the number of soldiers in Afghanistan by 40%, to 2,800, and kept them in Kandahar, one of the country’s most violent regions, where some other NATO members have refused to deploy. As a result, 152 have died. And he signalled their new importance by making a surprise visit there his first trip in office.

Mr Harper sees this muscularity as part of a broader effort to “revive Canada’s leadership in the world”, which peaked in the 1950s, when its military power was at its height and Europe was rebuilding itself. It has certainly improved relations with the United States, which soured when the Liberal government refused to join the Iraq invasion. But it has not increased enthusiasm at home for shooting wars. A 2009 poll by Ipsos Reid found that the share of Canadians who think the army should only conduct peacekeeping operations rose from 46% in 2008 to 50% last year.

That scepticism is reflected in Parliament. The Conservatives hold just 144 of the chamber’s 308 seats, and rule largely because the opposition is divided. The Liberals backed a limited extension of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan in 2008, but would probably not do so again. Mr Harper must thus withdraw the troops by July.

Even if he could win support for a new extension, however, the prime minister has recently hinted that fiscal discipline may now trump military ambition. He promises to cut its C$49 billion deficit to $1.8 billion by 2014-15 through spending cuts alone. In August the ombudsman for veterans accused the government of cheating former soldiers by giving them lump-sum disability payments instead of richer lifetime pensions. And its most recent budget would increase defence spending by just 1.5%, a far cry from the 9% average growth in 2006-09.

Ending the mission in Afghanistan will save C$1 billion a year. That pullback will make further cuts likely. To resist them, the army could argue that Canada would have more clout in the world if it increased its woefully low participation in UN peacekeeping. But blue-helmet work does not demand shiny new hardware. Bolstering the army’s presence in the Arctic might, and would also fit Mr Harper’s rhetoric on Arctic sovereignty. That, however, would require a bit more Russian belligerence.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #71 on: 2010-09-27 13:41:18 »
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Government has a dismal track record with IT projects. The government needs to develop a Meta Data Model and then the medical profession would have a framework to start developing Electronic Health Services; currently there are no useful standards or frameworks from which to even begin EMR. Finally that the media is so retarded in can't get to a root cause analysis exposing the complete 'cockup' of attempts at EMR, is for me unbelievable.

Are there no reporters left in Canada ? Just get a reporter to try doing OHIP billing for a stand alone family physician in Ontario for 1 week, look at the scanned PDF files that are passed off as EMR, there is no data just pictures of patient files, this is NOT EMR ? Drug stores have not standardized data management systems, they can't even share data between stores in the same chain. In this day and age given the money the Ontario government has wasted in computerizing ersatz electronic health care, it is just incompetence and has not been reported in any meaningful way.

Stop doing the politically expedient thing and fingering the Physicians, they are the only ones actually working towards Canadians best interest, trying desperately to keep their heads above water in the sea of misinformation.

Come on Canada Media lets show the citizens of Canada your not just Fox News North; then again they are good at what they do; lie.

Sigh

Fritz



Watchdog issues urgent call for electronic health records

Source: Globe and Mail
Author: Carly Weeks
Date: 2010.09.27



Family physicians routinely prescribe drugs under the wrong circumstances and overuse diagnostic imaging tests, serious problems the Health Council of Canada says must be repaired by introducing electronic health records across the country.
More related to this story

    * Ontario to link hospital CEOs’ pay to quality of care
    * Surging cost of health care poised to play a role in Harper's spring budget

The council, an independent body created by federal and provincial governments to monitor the health system, released a report Monday that warns family doctors are facing increasingly complex demands but often lack the proper guidance to make the best decisions for patients.

It’s one of the strongest calls to action by the council, a prominent health organization that regularly helps inform policy makers. It predicts that if Canada continues to delay implementation of electronic health records and doesn’t do more to support family doctors, the problems of inappropriate prescribing and excessive medical testing will dramatically worsen as the population ages.

Drug spending is one of the biggest costs for Canada’s health care system and diagnostic imaging tests are becoming an increasing financial burden. The council pointed out the trends can also harm patients: many of them are getting prescriptions for expensive drugs that may not help them and could put them at risk of serious side effects, while others are exposed to potentially harmful levels of radiation during CT scans or other diagnostic tests that aren’t actually needed.

“If there is no change in how family physicians are supported ... we can expect a surge in health service use as the population ages, chronic diseases become more prevalent, new drugs and technologies are introduced, and patient and provider expectations expand,” the report said.

Overworked family doctors are increasingly taking on the care of patients with multiple or chronic health problems, the report added, and becoming more responsible for ordering diagnostic tests, tasks once largely handled by hospitals or specialist physicians.

Those trends aren't necessarily negative. Doctors are taking on more responsibilities in part because a growing number of patients are able to get the care they need outside of hospitals or without seeing a specialist, saving time and money.

But as their roles become more complex, family doctors across Canada aren't being given the proper guidance or support needed to determine the best course of action for patients, the report says. Doctors were also said to have chaotic, overwhelming schedules, making it difficult to spend time with patients to discuss potential options or alternate therapies.

As a result, family physicians end up prescribing drugs, sometimes at the request of patients, even though it's unclear whether the medication will help or if other therapies would be more effective, according to the health council. In addition, doctors order expensive computer tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests to err on the side of caution or because patients demand them, even though they may be unnecessary.

Danielle Martin, a family physician at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital, said the problems identified in the report affect her life daily and are “frequent” topics of discussion among her colleagues. She said doctors must juggle demands from patients, emerging information about new drugs or treatments and overwhelming schedules, creating an environment where it’s often easier to order tests or write a prescription.

“It becomes a negotiation when you’re trying to ascertain whether there’s really a requirement for that expensive test. Those pressures are real and I think we all feel them and we need to do better.”

It's difficult to know the exact scope of the problem because of the lack of data that's collected in this area, according to the health council, which culled information from medical surveys and studies for its report. It can also be difficult to ascertain which drugs or tests are unnecessary. For instance, a child who suffers a head injury may undergo a CT scan that doesn't find any evidence of serious trauma, but many parents and doctors would still prefer doing the test to rule out the possibility.

But the real problem is family doctors aren't being given the information they need to make the best decisions and Canada does little to track the health outcomes of patients who are put on various medications or given diagnostic tests, the report said.

“We take doctors to task if they overbill, but do we take them to task if they overprescribe?” asked John Abbott, CEO of the Health Council of Canada.

There is no sound mechanism in place to monitor how many patients who are taking blood-pressure drugs, for instance, actually improve while on the medication, how many of them see no change, or how many suffer serious side effects.

Although the number of CT scans and MRIs performed in Canada jumped 58 per cent and 100 per cent, respectively, from 2003 to 2009, family doctors may lack the training to determine when certain tests are necessary, the report said. The Canadian Association of Radiologists estimates that up to 30 per cent of CT scans and other diagnostic tests are unnecessary or contribute no useful information.

The report calls for major improvements to the scope and use of electronic health records in Canada. In addition to allowing health care professionals to easily access important information about patients and work more efficiently, electronic health records could link medications and diagnostic tests to the health outcomes of patients in order to determine what works and what is wasteful. Canada has been widely criticized by health experts and medical organizations across the country for its slow approach to adopting electronic health records in comparison with other developed nations.

Although governments across Canada have pledged support for electronic health records, the implementation process has been difficult and slow because of the complex nature of information involved. But there have also been major money problems, with the federal government delaying a 2009 promise to release $500-million in further funding to get electronic health records up and running. A major scandal at eHealth Ontario, the organization charged with bringing electronic records to the province, saw $1-billion wasted on out-of-control consultant costs and untendered contracts.

The report also calls for major improvements in medical guidelines, which family doctors can use to determine when medications or tests are necessary.

While the Canadian Medical Association has more than 1,000 guidelines on its website, the health council says Canada must develop a system to ensure they are being used and followed. The report says provinces should hold physicians accountable and develop mechanisms, likely through the promised electronic health record system, to ensure they have access to the best medical guidelines and actually follow them.

It also says electronic health records need to be quickly rolled out across the Canada to give physicians help they need to manage patients, and allow for better monitoring of the effect drugs and tests have on patient health outcomes.

Jeff Turnbull, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said the report outlines many of the serious challenges facing family doctors and how they are harming the country's health system.

“We certainly can do better. There's no question about it,” he said in an interview.

But the College of Family Physicians of Canada argues the report is flawed because it assumes the rising number of prescriptions dispensed and diagnostic tests ordered is excessive. The problem is there is no data that definitively spells out whether these trends are a serious problem, said Cal Gutkin, executive director and CEO of the college.

“Some of their conclusions really are lacking in the evidence that's needed to be able to come to the conclusion that they can, with certainty, identify who it is that is linked most closely with the ordering of these tests and the prescribing of these medications,” he said.

Dr. Gutkin added that in many cases, medications and tests are recommended by specialists but are prescribed by family doctors, which makes it appear they are responsible for the rise in prescriptions and diagnostic imaging tests.

However, Mr. Abbott at the health council said even though no one knows exactly how much over-prescribing or overusing of tests is occurring, it's clear that it's happening, and that something must be done to stop it.

“Let's call a spade a spade and let's get at the problem and help doctors improve their ability to care and prescribe more appropriately, order tests more appropriately,” he said.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #72 on: 2010-09-28 16:22:57 »
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It will be interesting to see how this plays out and who owes who what.

Cheers

Fritz

PS:It is getting progressively sad that I have to get news from Great Britain, for Canadian goings on ?


Energy policy in Quebec
High-speed gas - Too fast for a green province


Source: The Economist
Author: Print Edition
Date: 2010.09.23



MOST people would be delighted to discover that they were sitting on top of natural gas reserves that could potentially supply their needs for the next century or so. No more worrying about complicated Middle East politics or whether oil supplies are past their peak. Yet in the Canadian province of Quebec, news of abundant gas in the shale beneath the St Lawrence river basin has not been met with unalloyed joy. Although Nathalie Normandeau, the minister of natural resources, calls future self-sufficiency in natural gas a historic opportunity for the French-speaking province, a surprising number of people have stepped forward to say “no thanks” or “not yet”.

That is partly because of Quebec’s good fortune in generating so much hydroelectricity that it exports its surplus to Ontario and to north-eastern United States. It has plans to seek additional customers in both countries. The James Bay project, the biggest clutch of the 60 generating stations owned by Hydro-Québec, a utility owned by the provincial government, generates eight times the power of the Hoover Dam.

This abundance of cheap renewable electricity is the main reason why Quebeckers are “finicky” about shale gas, says Christian Bourque, a pollster based in Montreal. It has allowed them to be proudly green. At the Copenhagen summit on climate change in December, officials from Quebec publicly chided their counterparts from Alberta over their failure to reduce carbon emissions from the tar sands in the western province. They also called on the federal government to speed up its lackadaisical efforts to bring in a national plan to reduce emissions.

Environmentalists fret that development of the St Lawrence basin gas deposits would enlarge the province’s carbon footprint. Farmers have a more pragmatic reason for worrying about natural-gas development in what is the most fertile part of the province. They point to complaints in Pennsylvania that hydraulic fracturing or fracking—the high-pressure injection of water and chemicals into the shale to free the natural gas—has polluted water below the surface and on the ground. The governor of New York says that development of a shale formation in the catchment area for New York City will not go ahead until he has “overwhelming evidence” that fracking will not harm water supplies. The Quebec farmers’ union wants the provincial government to allay such concerns before allowing full-scale production.

While the existence of the deposits has been known for some time, it is only recently that new technologies have made the extraction of gas from shale commercially viable. The provincial government plans to issue regulations for the new industry next year. It has expedited the timetable for a public consultation. All this strikes some Quebeckers as too rushed. The Parti Québécois, the main opposition, has called for a moratorium.

Officials in Jean Charest’s Liberal provincial government point out that Quebec imports oil and gas worth C$14 billion ($14 billion) a year, mostly from western Canada, and will benefit from having supplies closer to home. Use of natural gas emits less carbon than oil. Mr Charest’s administration has been weakened by minor scandals and by revelations that some businessmen in the gas industry have ties to the Liberals. While these charges are unlikely to stop natural-gas development in the province, they may slow it down. Quebec’s governments, including those of Mr Charest, have spent decades telling Quebeckers that they are greener than green. It seems many have believed them.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #73 on: 2010-09-29 23:18:48 »
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Sign of the times it would seem.

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Fritz



Equipment auction will lure global interest
It’s difficult to say how much money will be generated in next month’s Whitehorse auction of heavy equipment, says the president of Golden Hill Ventures.

Source: White Horse Daily Star
Author: Chuck Tobin
Date: 2010.09.29



Photo by Vince Fedoroff


It’s difficult to say how much money will be generated in next month’s Whitehorse auction of heavy equipment, says the president of Golden Hill Ventures.

Jon Rudolph said this morning the value of big equipment around the world fell by 50 to 60 per cent during the recession and still has not recovered.

But there is room for optimism, he insisted during an interview.

Currently, Rudolph added, with increasing mining activity tied to a rebound in mineral prices, there is a growing demand for 100-ton rock trucks and large bulldozers.

He said if a company put in an order today for a new truck – valued at about $1.2 million – the wait period would be 42 weeks.

The D11 ’dozer Golden Hill purchased three years ago at an Edmonton auction for $930,000 to work at the Ross Mining gold property outside of Dawson City has seen an additional $400,000 in rebuilding costs, he said.

“It only has 2,000 hours on all the components,” Rudolph added. “It’s got another 10,000 to 12,000 hours before you have to rebuild it again.

“So what’s it going to go for in the auction, it’s hard to say.”

There are more than 100 pieces of equipment listed for the Oct. 13 auction. They range in size from the 16 rock trucks and two D11s – the largest bulldozers built by Caterpillar – right down to fork lifts and pressure washers.

The auction is being managed by Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers at Golden Hill’s industrial yard situated along the Alaska Highway north of Crestview.

Ritchie Bros. representative Dean Lowry said today the company is expecting 200 to 300 bidders onsite, as well as those participating through the Internet.

“We are looking for a good sale,” he said, adding that about a dozen other companies have put up equipment to auction off.

He said there is still time to for individuals or companies to list goods for sale, though it’s best to contact Ritchie Bros. sooner rather than later.

It was back in 1992 when the auction company was last here to hold a retirement auction to sell off the assets of E. Lobe, a heavy equipment company.

There is no minimum price for any items and all equipment will go to the highest bidder, Rudolph explained.

He said with the auction being broadcast across the Internet, and potential buyers allowed to bid through the Internet, interest should be high.

“We expect bids from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, all over the world,” he said. “We expect some things will bring good value and other things will probably be a bargain buy because there is still a surplus out there. You never know.”

Among the largest heavy equipment companies in the Yukon, Golden Hill Ventures ran into dire financial straits in 2008 and 2009 as the recession hit the company full force.

Court proceedings under the Bankruptcy Act over the last year have seen Golden Hill and Rudolph reach settlement agreements with creditors.

The upcoming auction, he emphasized, is not part of those proceedings, and Golden Hill is not bankrupt.

The company is functioning, and currently has a payroll of about $100,000 every two weeks for approximately 30 staff members, he said.

Rudolph explained G.E. Financing, as the company which financed some equipment for Golden Hill, had the right to call in what it was owed – between $6 million to $7 million.

Golden Hill and G.E. agreed the best route was to hold an auction to sell off the equipment financed by G.E., and other gear owned by Golden Hill with no strings attached to G.E., he said.

Rudolph pointed out that of the two D11s, for instance, only one is under the security held by G.E.

It doesn’t make sense for Golden Hill to have expensive surplus equipment sitting idle in the yard, Rudolph said.

He said Golden Hill has a lot more than 100 pieces of equipment and is currently working on the Mayo B hydro project as a subcontractor to Cobalt Construction, a company started by his son last January.

The company is also currently wrapping up some work on the north Alaska Highway as part of the Shakwak project, again as a subcontractor to Cobalt, which was awarded a two-year,
$5.9-million contract earlier this month, Rudolph pointed out.

He said Golden Hill’s financial problems have hindered its ability to secure bonding for large projects, so it’s been easier to work as a subcontractor under the umbrella of Cobalt Construction as the general contractor.

Still ongoing is the matter between Golden Hill and Ross Mining, the placer gold mining company purchased by Golden Hill but returned to Norm Ross through a court order after Golden Hill defaulted on payments.

Golden Hill is claiming it is owed $3 million by Ross Mining.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #74 on: 2010-09-29 23:32:09 »
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It is different in Canada.

Nice 

Fritz



Mosque bound for Inuvik gets stuck in Edmonton traffic

Source: Edmonton Journal
Author: Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press
Date: 2010.09.08

The little mosque crossing the Prairie almost missed the boat.


Source: The Hub, Hay River, Northwest Territories

The prefab place of worship is being trucked to Hay River, N.W.T., to catch Friday's last barge of the season bound for Inuvik, N.W.T., nearly 2,000 kilometres from Edmonton.

But the mosque, which takes up two lanes of highway and half the shoulder on either side, nearly got sidelined by construction outside of the city, said Hussain Guisti, spokesman for the Winnipeg-based charity funding the project -- the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation.

"This is a puzzle and it all has to fit together before the last barge leaves Sept. 10," said Guisti.

The extra-wide load could only travel on busy highways at certain times, he said. "In Alberta, it was allowed to travel Saturday but not Sunday."

He said they expected to be halfway between Edmonton and Hay River by Sunday.

But, when the shipper got to Edmonton, Alberta Highways said the mosque couldn't go north during the busy weekend because of road work, and it had to slip through between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Tuesday.

"I've lost a few hairs," said Guisti. "We lost 600 kilometres."

The mosque was expected to arrive Wednesday so it could be loaded onto the barge leaving Hay River Friday. From there, it would be shipped 1,850 kilometres on the Hay and Mackenzie rivers to Inuvik, as the ship delivers fuel to remote communities en route.

If the last barge leaves without the 1,554 square-foot mosque, Inuvik's growing Muslim community will have another winter of prayer in a revamped utility trailer. The town of 3,500 includes close to 100 Muslims.

Luckily, with all the media attention the mosque-on-the-move is receiving, the barge operators have agreed not to leave until it arrives, Guisti said.

But they better make it snappy.

"They said 'The minute it arrives, we take off,' " he said
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