Archive for the ‘Canada’ tag
Exasperated Canadian legislators grilled the head of BP Plc (BP.L) Canadian unit on Thursday, concerned about the risks of the company’s plans to drill in Arctic waters after the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
But Anne Drinkwater, president of BP Canada, offered few answers at a hearing at Parliament’s Standing Committee on Natural Resources on the safety of drilling in the Far North.
Drinkwater, who has also run BP operations in Indonesia, Angola and Norway, declined to answer technical questions and said she had not compared Canadian and U.S. drilling regulations, straining the credulity of some on the committee.
“You’d think coming to a hearing like this that British Petroleum would have as many answers as possible to assure the Canadian public. We got nothing today from them,” said Nathan Cullen of the left-leaning New Democrats.
BP is still fumbling with various tube sizes as part of the company’s hapless quest to stymie its underwater oil geyser, and yet they can’t wait to rush into the next disaster.
Canadians are whipped up into a frenzy over this Ann Coulter lady, who I hear sometimes says controversial stuff. Ann was supposed to speak at the University of Ottawa, but the event has been cancelled over “public safety” fears cancelled in order to find a larger venue to facilitate the large crowd.
The “public safety” concerns probably had something to do with the several hundred people who showed up to protest, and performed a little Microcosm US Political Theater:
“No more racists on our campus,’’ shouted the anti-Coulter crowd.
“No more commies on our campus,” shouted the pro-Coulter group.
And there you have it.
I have no idea if Ann is a racist. I know she says some ugly, racist things, but that could be because she’s a businesswoman who knows she sells more books after saying negative things about liberals, or black people.
At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Representative Bob Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Mr. Inglis said, “wasn’t having any of it.”It’s a funny story — but it illustrates the extent to which health reform must climb a wall of misinformation. It’s not just that many Americans don’t understand what President Obama is proposing; many people don’t understand the way American health care works right now.
The American people are clueless again, and Obama is the only person to blame for their collective confusion. His name is stamped across the new healthcare “plan,” whatever it entails (no one seems to know for sure,) so he is by default The Plan’s keeper, primary advocate, and also the nation’s teacher. If Obama can’t explain The Plan, then the people can’t become advocates for reform, and can’t give Obama his undeniable mandate to push Change — whatever it is– through Congress.
Without overwhelming public support, President Obama found himself alone with an army of healthcare lobbyists and Blue Dog private healthcare sentinels. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the healthcare industry (which spends over $1 million a day on lobbying,) and the Blue Dogs (who have raised $1 million since June from Big Healthcare) picked apart Obama’s plan. Universal healthcare was laughed out of the room, and the Blue Dogs worked so zealously to water down the public option that not even the mighty power of the Wax Man could save it.
Throughout all of this triangulation and compromise, no one could really explain what kind of plan was taking shape. There was no public-friendly lesson resonating from Democrats or the media. Why would President Obama repeat the Clinton mistakes of the 90s? Why was he putting forth yet another complicated, secretive, dense plan that no one could understand?
Obama may be sidestepping his duty as teacher because he knows his pupils won’t appreciate his healthcare lesson. In a recent New York Times/CBS poll, 85 percent of respondents said the healthcare system needs to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, and 72 percent supported a government-administered insurance plan (see: public option). The classroom just may turn mutinous when Teacher Obama explains not only is a universal system out of the question, but the public option is now looking pretty haggard as it limps through Congress.
With 48 million uninsured pupils (the equivalent of the Canadian population,) and the number of uninsured and underinsured Americans equalling the entire population of the United Kingdom, Teacher Obama needs to explain a lesson that will work for his classroom. Unfortunately, that lesson doesn’t exist. Universal healthcare was never a serious option (even within the Obama Oval Office,) and the public option is now on life support. Rather than teach that sour lesson in pragmatism, Teacher Obama is remaining silent and hoping Change and Hope will somehow survive without his help.
Daniel De Groot, Open Left
A Wal-Mart store in Weyburn, Saskatchewan has been granted union certification by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (SLRB) after years of Wal-Mart legal wrangling and delays, including two Wal-Mart applications to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the process.
This isn’t in Pepsi-drinking, poutine manging, socialisté Q-bec either, but rural Saskatchewan (which just elected 13 Conservatives to its 14 ridings).
Wal-Mart, naturally is not taking this in stride.
Wal-Mart Canada spokesman Andrew Pelletier said the decision is unjust because some employees didn’t get to vote on whether to unionize.
“We’re disappointed,” he said. “Clearly, you know, our associates have been denied here a vote. They’ve been denied a democratic process. And we believe they should have that process.
Rhetoric sound familiar? It should:
Wal-Mart Canada said it will appeal the ruling to unionize, pointing out that many of the employees who signed union cards no longer work at the Weyburn store.
“The fact that you’ve got a store now with 104 associates … and only 29 of them were even there at the time of the union’s application, really speaks to the fact that it would be a bit of a stretch to assume that there is widespread support for that store for this union,” said Andrew Pelletier, spokesman for Wal-Mart Canada.
Changes to Saskatchewan’s Trade Union Act this year made it a requirement that a secret ballot vote be held, open to all employees in the proposed bargaining unit, before a union can be certified.
Paul Meneima, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1400, said the decision to unionize the Weyburn store fits with the pre-2008 act,which allowed for union certifications when 50 per cent of employees, plus one, signed union cards.
Yup, Saskatchewan, in better times when it had an NDP government, had its own EFCA, which allowed a Wal-Mart in a conservative part of a fairly conservative province to unionize. Now that it has a conservative government, bye bye card-check.
Anyway, the company’s position seems to be “Since we fought to delay this so long that many of the original employees have moved on, we demand a new election under the new us-favouring rules.” Nice. I wonder how many of those departing employees left voluntarily?
The town’s mayor is worried Wal-Mart will close the store, which is a real risk, but unlike many other places, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other places they could put a Wal-Mart nearby. If they close, they’re likely abandoning this region of the province (and of course other retailers could move in).
A sad follow up on the 8 lube-shop workers who unionized at a store in Québec, Wal-Mart closed the garage in that store, saying it was losing money. They apparently did keep the workers at least, though.
As for the Union (UFCW) they have pending cases with the Sask Labour Board to unionize two other stores in the Province. Strength in numbers. Wal-Mart can’t close every store down.
He hopes it will give him and his Conservative government enough time to develop a stimulus package that could prop up the economy.
Mr Harper said: “The opposition’s criticism is that we have to focus on the economy immediately and today’s decision will give us an opportunity – I’m talking about all the parties – to focus on the economy and work together,”
He said a budget will be the first order of business when Parliament resumes.
Three opposition parties have united against Harper, accusing him of failing to protect Canada from the global financial crisis. The credit crisis and a global sell off of commodities have slowed Canada’s resource-rich economy, and the finance minister said last week he expects a recession.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion said the opposition would seek to oust Harper unless he makes a “monumental change” in dealing with the economy and other parties.
“For the first time in the history of Canada the prime minister is running away from the Parliament of Canada,” Dion said.
The opposition was also outraged by a government proposal to scrap public subsidies for political parties, something the opposition groups rely on more than the Conservatives.
Although that proposal was withdrawn, the opposition has continued to seek Harper’s ouster, saying he has lost the trust and confidence of parliament.
Governor General Michaelle Jean, who represents Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, had the power to grant the unusual request to suspend parliament. Had she refused, Harper would have had two choices: step down or face a no-confidence vote he was sure to lose.
Harper would not offer details on their a two-and-a-half hour long conversation, citing constitutional tradition.
Opposition politicians blasted Harper’s methods.
“I have friends calling me from other countries saying ‘Oh well, don’t worry, we’ve seen this happen in third world countries before, we’ve seen Parliament’s get suspended, and people pull fast tricks in order to not face the will of Parliament,’ but in Canada?,” Liberal Bob Rae said. “I frankly don’t regard his government as legitimate any more. His government is there because he avoided the will of Parliament.”
Opposition New Democrat leader Jack Layton called it a sad day.
“He’s trying to lock the door of Parliament so that the elected people cannot speak,» Layto said. «He’s trying to save his job.”
Layton said the shut down only delays Harper’s inevitable defeat.
Analysts said a governor general has never been asked to suspend parliament to delay an ouster vote when it was clear the government didn’t have the confidence of a majority of legislators.
Nelson Wiseman, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, said Jean’s decision strengthened the office of the prime minister at the expense of the popularly elected Parliament.
“It’s not a good day for parliamentary democracy,” Wiseman said.