Thursday, December 31, 2009

Minister VanLoan

On March 12, 2009 I asked the following question of Minister VanLoan and never received a reply:

Mr. Minister, nuclear power is apparently an efficient way of producing a stabile source of electrical power for both use in Canada and as a means of export revenue. What seems to be holding back the development of more nuclear plants in Canada? As Minister of Public Safety I can understand that you will want to assure Canadians that all safety issues are addressed regarding the development of nuclear power. Do you have any fact-based concerns regarding nuclear power that may cause you to pause over the expansion of nuclear power generation in Canada?

I respectfully submit these questions without prejudice.

Minister Toews

On March 4, 2009 I asked the following question of Minister Toews and never received a reply:

Mr. Toews, has the Government of Canada arrived at a mutual agreement with the RCMP respecting the concerns raised by the RCMP on their Call for Backup website and if not why?

I don’t hold a membership in any political party and I respectfully submit this question without prejudice. Thank you.

Minister Ritz

On March 11, 2009 I asked Minister Ritz the following question and received no reply:

Mr. Minister, in the wake of our failing economy what measures has the government taken to provide a stimulus package for the agriculture industry in Canada?

This question is respectfully submitted without prejudice.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Minister Nicholson

I asked the following question of Minister Nicholson on March 9, 2009:

Mr. Nicholson, what evidence can you provide to me that is proof we are winning the war against organized crime and drug abuse?

I respectfully submit this question without prejudice.

On May 13, 2009 I received the following reply:

Dear Mr. Birkbeck:

Thank you for your correspondence concerning organized crime and drug-related activities. I regret the delay in responding.

First, let me assure you that, as Minister of Justice, I share your concerns and recognize the need to provide law enforcement and prosecutors with the tools needed to combat organized crime in Canada.

The escalation of gang violence in cities and towns across Canada is deeply troubling. The Government of Canada remains committed to tackling crime and to ensuring that all Canadians can live in safe and healthy communities, free from fear of crime and violence.

One of the Government’s key criminal justice priorities is legislative reform to combat organized crime. For this reason, I tabled Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants), on February 26, 2009, to target this activity. For further information, please visit and

The Bill proposes amendments in four broad areas:
· making all murders connected to criminal organizations automatically first-degree murder offences;
· creating a new offence to target drive-by and other reckless shootings involving the intentional disregard for the life or safety of another person;
· creating two new offences to respond to assaults against peace officers that cause bodily harm or involve the use of a weapon and the aggravated assault of a peace officer; and
· amending the gang recognizance provision, which is a preventative court order requiring an individual to agree to specific conditions to govern their behaviour. This provision clarifies that a judge can impose any reasonable conditions and increase the period of the order to 24 months where an offender has been previously convicted of an offence involving organized crime, terrorism, or the intimidation of a justice system participant.

Bill C-14 will help to address the escalating violence perpetrated by gangs and other organized criminal groups. The amendments are the result of extensive consultations and collaboration with the provinces and territories, along with law-enforcement officials, who have expressed wide support for this proposed legislation. I believe that the proposed measures respond to the concerns of Canadians that our prosecutors and law enforcement have all the means necessary to effectively fight organized crime.

As you are aware, illegal drug use is a serious concern for many Canadians, whether in urban centres or smaller communities. Our government is taking action to address this complex problem. Consistent with our commitment to make communities safer and healthier, on October 4, 2007, the Government of Canada announced the launch of the National Anti-Drug Strategy.

The Strategy addresses and provides funding for three priority areas: preventing illicit drug use, treating those with illicit drug dependencies, and combating the production and distribution of illicit drugs.

A significant portion of the new funding for the Strategy will support prevention and treatment initiatives, including $30 million over five years for a new national awareness campaign targeted at youth and their parents. In terms of treatment, the Strategy introduces approximately $100 million over five years for new resources to support effective approaches to treating individuals who pose a risk to themselves and the community.

To complement drug prevention and treatment efforts, the National Anti-Drug Strategy provides an additional $102 million in new funding over five years to target drug producers and distributors by bolstering law enforcement’s ability to combat marijuana and synthetic drug production and distribution operations.

A Youth Gang Prevention Fund has also been established under the broader National Crime Prevention Strategy, designed to help communities prevent youth crime and to specifically focus on guns, gangs and drugs. This fund is supported by approximately $11.1 million. In addition, approximately $64 million was allocated as part of the National Anti-Drug Strategy.

In addition, the Government is committed to ensuring that the laws provide for legal penalties that are proportionate to the seriousness of drug crimes. As part of the National Anti-Drug Strategy, on February 27, 2009, I tabled in the House of Commons Bill C-15, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, which introduces mandatory minimum penalties for people convicted of serious drug offences. For further information, please visit and

I am confident that together these measures will form a focused approach to reducing the supply of and demand for illicit drugs, as well as addressing the crime associated with illegal drugs, thereby providing Canadians with safer and healthier communities in which to live.

Thank you again for writing.

Yours truly,

The Honourable Rob Nicholson

Minister Mackay

I asked the following question of Minister MacKay on March 9, 2009 and never received a reply:

Mr. Mackay, under what conditions would Canadian troops be required to remain in Afghanistan at their current strength beyond the year 2011?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Minister Kenny

On March 11, 2009 I asked the following question of Minister Kenny:

Mr. Minister, how many people living and working in Canada do not have a Canadian citizenship? How many people have made application to come to Canada whom are still waiting for their applications to be processed? On an annual basis are there any restrictions as to the number of people Canada is prepared to enter our country?

These questions are respectfully submitted without prejudice.

On April 23, 2009 I received the following reply:

Dear Mr. Birkbeck:

I am replying to your e-mail of March 11, 2009, addressed to the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, regarding your questions about citizenship and immigration.

With regard to your first question, please see the table below for information from the 2006 Census on the number of persons living in Canada at the time of the census who were not Canadian citizens (total = 1,760,865). This includes 1,495,510 immigrants who report their citizenship as "other country" and all non-permanent residents (265,355). A breakdown by age has also been provided.

Persons living in Canada who are not Canadian citizens, by immigration status and age, Canada, 2006 Census
Source: 2006 Census Statistics Canada 97-564-XCB2006008

Total - not Non-permanent
Age Canadian citizens Immigrants residents*
Under 15 years 229,970 195,215 34,755
15 to 24 years 250,230 184,110 66,115
25 to 44 years 757,650 632,095 125,560
45 to 54 years 228,385 206,755 21,630
55 to 64 years 149,520 140,220 9,295
65 years and over 145,115 137,115 8,005
Total - Canada 1,760,865 1,495,510 265,355

* Non-permanent residents include persons in Canada as temporary residents at the time of the census (i.e., persons with a work or study permit or who were refugee claimants, and family members living in Canada with them).

To be eligible for Canadian citizenship, immigrants must meet several requirements, including at least three years of residency in Canada and knowledge of an official language. They may also be required to take a knowledge test.

The vast majority of foreign-born people who were eligible for Canadian citizenship chose to become Canadian. In 2006, 85.1 percent of eligible foreign-born people were Canadian citizens.
Those who had been in Canada the longest were the most likely to hold Canadian citizenship, as they had had more time to make the decision to apply for it. The vast majority (94.1 percent) who arrived before 1961 had Canadian citizenship. Similarly, 89.1 percent of those who came in the 1960s and 1970s had become naturalized citizens. The proportion of naturalized citizens was lower (84.1 percent) among those who arrived in the 1990s.

When asked about their citizenship intention six months after landing in Canada, the vast majority (91 percent) of the respondents in the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada expressed their intent to settle in Canada permanently and become Canadian citizens. Four years later, 15 percent of the newcomers who were interviewed once again had obtained Canadian citizenship.

As of December 31, 2008, there were 997,000 people who had made an application to come to Canada as a permanent resident who were still waiting for a final decision on their application.
On November 28, 2008, the Minister Kenney announced that Canada will welcome between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents in 2009, the same range as in 2007 and 2008.
Rather than set a maximum limit, every Fall the Government of Canada sets a planning range for the number of permanent admissions Canada expects to welcome in the upcoming year. The overall planning range comprises separate planning ranges for the four broad categories of immigration to Canada: economic, family, protected persons and "other" (e.g., those selected on humanitarian and compassionate grounds). In setting these ranges the Government of Canada must strike a balance among the economic, family and humanitarian objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. At the same time, several other factors must be considered, such as the operational capacity to process applications.

Canada does not set a planning range for temporary residents. Applications for temporary residence are processed on a priority basis as they are received.

Thank you for taking the time to write. I trust that the information provided is of assistance.
S. Duncan
Ministerial Enquiries Division

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Prime Minister

I sent the following question to the Prime Minister on March 2, 2009 and never receieved any response:

Mr. Prime Minister, I have two questions. One question relates to your role as Prime Minister and the other relates to your role as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Why is it that all government members vote the same on matters before the House of Commons and how is this rule enforced?
Is it possible to challenge an incumbent conservative nomination and if not why?

I respectfully ask these questions as a person who holds no membership in any political party and without prejudice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Former KGB Agent

The story surrounding a former KGB agent hiding in a Vancouver church is something the Harper government needs to resolve. Mikhail Lennikov has apparently used the church as a sanctuary from border officials since June 2009. He has apparently produced 35,000 pages of documents to prove he is not a security threat to Canada and therefore, should be allowed to stay in Canada. Two BC MP’s are calling on the Prime Minister to allow Lennikov to stay in Canada.

I have no knowledge of whether or not he is a security threat to Canada. I do believe it is time for the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to make a decision one way or another. Going to church to worship is one thing, but using it as a sanctuary to protect one’s self from a government that can’t make a decision is unreasonable. Imagine, a person hiding in a Canadian church to protect themselves from our government. There must be some other solution. Having people believe a church is a sanctuary from the government is just wrong. Prime Minister, Stephen Harper needs to make a decision on this matter and soon!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nuclear Power for Saskatchewan

The decision by the Government of Saskatchewan in an announcement made by Bill Boyd, Minister of Energy and Resources, to shelve any plans to move ahead with nuclear generation in Saskatchewan is a mistake. It was shelved for political reasons, as the SaskParty fears the anti-nuclear activists and the longtime anti-nuclear NDP opposition. The SaskParty is more concerned about their re-election than they are about showing leadership. Nuclear generation in Saskatchewan would add a new source of revenue for Saskatchewan. Exporting energy to Alberta and California in huge amounts is an exciting prospect that is best possible with nuclear power. Further, delaying the development of nuclear power will only cost us more in the future.

We should at least move forward with a plan for Saskatchewan to be a world leader for the production of medical isotopes. The federal government was looking for a province to come forward with a proposal and Premier Wall had expressed an interest, but that too seems to be shelved.

The SaskParty needs to step up, show some leadership and move forward. Allowing a few vocal opponents to Saskatchewan’s progress will drive the province back down into that “have not province” hole and that is simply not an option I can support. Saskatchewan must shed its “next year country” syndrome and continue to move forward.

More on Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

As I write this letter, the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is about to come to an end. It has been two weeks of bickering and over the top demonstrations. I see very little positive coming out of this conference. Any decisions to deal with emissions and assistance for poor countries will cost the developed nations like Canada and the US a lot of money. It has the potential to become an economic disaster as the costs associated with attempting to fix a perceived environmental problem will come at the expense of taxpayers.

At greatest risk is our energy sector. We are all now witnessing what depressed potash sales are doing to our province’s economy as it falls deeper in debt. If any emission control targets coming out of the Copenhagen conference affect the oil and gas sector then you can just imagine how quickly Saskatchewan will fall back into being a have not province.

Climate change has been happening for billions of years and I am not convinced that the activities of humankind are the cause of climate change or global warming. Further, I am not convinced there is anything we can do that will have any meaningful effective on climate change. I am convinced it will harm our economy and our way of life.

People talk a lot about supporting measures to keep our environment clean, as they fear the notion of climate change or global warming. The problem is that people talk about it, but are not prepared to give up anything toward resolving environment issues. Either way, prepare to give up your money over environmental related costs in the future.

Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

As I write this letter we are on the eve of an economic disaster as the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (Cop15 Copenhagen) is within hours of concluding. Most agree there is a need to be responsible toward our planet’s environment. Yes, climate change is taking place as it has for billions of years. Many believe we humans are partly the cause of climate change as it regards the so-called greenhouse gas emissions we emit from our individual carbon footprints. Well, that may or may not be the case as environmentalists and scientists from around the world continue to hold conflicting conclusions over the issue. The western, capitalist, developed nations like Canada and the United States are claimed to be at the root of the problem. One thing is sure, the vast majority of people in the developed nations of the world like Canada are not prepared to surrender their lifestyle to save planet earth, assuming that is even possible.

Cop 15 has been a disaster. Finger pointing, name-calling and over the top demonstrations have been the highlights to this point. It is a highly charged political event that will produce no long term, meaningful solution to address matters regarding climate change. I am fearful those world leaders, many of whom have little regard for anything other than their vested interests and many whom hate the west and capitalism, will end up costing the developed nations billions of dollars. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, announced the US will try to mobilize a $100 billion a year fund for climate aid for poor countries by the year 2020. The Canadian government is likely to commit funds as well since it has been targeted as a sort of rogue nation regarding climate change. These are the early signs of what may come out of Cop15 and it will likely get worse.

The cost to individuals in countries like Canada and the US will be staggering reaching thousands of dollars for each person over the next few short years. Productivity will be affected and jobs may be lost. The tar sands and conventional oil may be dramatically changed and our economy may stagnate as we send money to poor countries from our reduced energy revenues. We will be further burdened in an attempt to real in our emissions and reduce our carbon footprint. It has always been this way. Only the rich can help the poor, but when it makes the rich poor as well, then all is lost. The potential for an environmental problem to create an economic disaster is a real and imminent danger.

Keep this in mind; a barrel of oil emits nothing into the atmosphere. The reality is that four fifths of a barrel of oil is emitted into the atmosphere when you pump it through the exhaust pipe of your vehicle. Further, there are more human carbon footprints as the population increases. Even breathing is a harmful emission into our atmosphere. So are you prepared to drive a small economic vehicle and commit to fewer children as holding your breath strikes me as an extreme solution? Canada is apparently committed to reducing our emissions by 20% by the year 2020. It won’t happen. Immigrants to Canada will hamper the 20% target over the next ten years. Are you prepared to close our borders to immigrants? Well, maybe you could at least sell off your investments in energy that partly fuels the energy sector in western Canada.
Good will hunting Canadian politicians attending this conference will be held partially responsible if Cop15 Copenhagen becomes an economic disaster for all of Canada. This is one time I would like to be wrong in my assessment of an issue. Who knows, maybe I am!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Useless Inquiry

Now how bad is this?

There were 34 victims in a Cornwall child-molestation scandal, but even after a four-year, $53 million public inquiry no one knows if an organized pedophile ring was operating in Eastern Ontario.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Minister Finley

I asked the following of Minister Finley on March 28, 2009:

Madam Minister, I understand that changes to CPP benefit levels, contribution rates, CPP financing and investment policy require formal approval by Parliament. Why do these changes also require the support of two-thirds of the provinces with two-thirds of the population? Further, what other Acts of Parliament require these same conditions?

I respectfully submit these questions without prejudice.

Answer dated May 22, 2009:

Dear Mr. Birkbeck:
On behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, I am pleased to respond to your letter dated March 28, 2009, regarding the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

Unlike other social programs in Canada, the CPP falls under the joint stewardship of the federal and provincial governments. Given the constitutional rights of provinces to oversee social programs, benefits for seniors and retirement pensions in Canada, when the CPP was proposed as a national social insurance plan in the early 1960s, provincial governments agreed that there were merits to having a federally-administered, national retirement plan that included supplementary benefits for persons with disabilities and survivors. However, they did not give up their right to oversee such a plan and the program was designed to be one of joint federal-provincial responsibility. This is a feature unique to the CPP.

Joint stewardship of the CPP has led to a great deal of stability and the ability to engage in long-term planning. While the Plan has evolved to meet the changing needs of Canadians, such changes have been implemented on the basis of broad consensus. To this day, the federal government continues to work cooperatively with the provinces to ensure that the CPP is sustainable and reflects modern social trends of the Canadian society. Federal and provincial Ministers of Finance review the Plan's financial state every three years and make recommendations as to whether benefits and/or contribution rates should be changed. They base their recommendations on a number of factors, including the results of an examination of the Plan by the Chief Actuary. This process ensures that the long-term financial implications of proposed Plan changes are given timely consideration.

The federal government is firmly committed to maintaining a strong and stable public pension system for the financial security of Canadians. Not only must the Plan be equitable and sustainable for today's retirees, it must also meet the needs of future generations. The rules governing the Canada Pension Plan strive to strike a balance between the long-term sustainability of the Plan and fairness and flexibility to individuals in planning their retirement. Canadians may be justifiably proud that the CPP is financially viable well into the future.

I hope that my comments are helpful in explaining the legislation governing the CPP. Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to write.
Dominique La Salle
Director General
Seniors and Pensions Policy Secretariat
Income Security and Social Development Branch

Minister Finley

I asked the following question of Minister Finley on March 10, 2009 and never received a reply:

Madam Finley, can you tell me how many people in total are employed directly by the Government of Canada and at what total cost as per your most recent fiscal year? Would you please include the numbers of people employed by the Government of Canada whom are not Canadian residents or are indirectly employed by the Government of Canada through contracts or other similar means?

I respectfully submit this question without prejudice?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Minister Day

I asked Minister Day the following question on March 10, 2009 and never received a reply.

Mr. Day, we are in the grip of a great bear market of a magnitude unprecedented in Canadian history. What assurances can you provide to me that trade deficits between Canada and the US will not continue year after year until after the US economy recovers?

I respectfully submit this question without prejudice.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Minister Clement

I asked Minister Clement the following question on March 12, 2009

Mr. Minister, this question may not be your responsibility, if not, then please advise and I will forward the question to the responsible minister. My concern is why the Chalk River nuclear reactor in Ontario produces half the world’s supply of isotopes used for medical purposes. There have been issues surrounding the Chalk River reactor and when something goes wrong with the Chalk River reactor the blame ultimately falls on the Government of Canada. There are other suppliers of isotopes and a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal identifies this issue. Why must the world depend on Chalk River so heavily? Is it not possible to have Chalk River work with other suppliers of isotopes when they may have to shut down for maintenance or for some other reason?

I respectfully submit these questions without prejudice.

On June 6, 2009 I received the following reply:

Dear Mr. Birkbeck:
On behalf of the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, thank you for your e-mail regarding the Chalk River nuclear reactor. I regret the delay in replying to you.
As the matter you have raised falls under the mandate of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources, I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your correspondence to her office for consideration.
Please accept my best wishes.
Yours sincerely,
Louise Geyer
Director Executive Correspondence and Records

Then on July 24, 2009 I received the following and final response to my March 12, 2009 question:

Dear Mr. Birkbeck:
The Office of the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, has forwarded to the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources, a copy of your correspondence of March 12, 2009, regarding the recent shutdown of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) Chalk River Laboratories, and the resulting disruption in the medical isotope supply. I am responding on Minister Raitt’s behalf.

I would first like to highlight the differences between the situation of December 2007, when Parliament passed emergency legislation to enable the NRU to be restarted, compared to the current situation. In December 2007, the decision to keep the reactor in a shutdown state was based on reasons not as significant as the recent decision to do so. The current situation is due to a significant technical problem, which must be addressed before the reactor can be started up again. This situation was communicated to the medical community within hours of the Government of Canada being advised of the extended required outage. Also, in 2007, due to the highly-regulated industry and complex supply chain, we were not equipped to take steps to secure alternative supplies. Today, there is a framework for international cooperation in place that allowed the global community to immediately address the serious shortage.

The health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for the Government. On June 2, 2009, Minister Raitt appeared before the Standing Committee on Natural Resources (the Committee). Her statements before the Committee underlined the importance the Government places on the security of long-term supply of medical isotopes for Canadians. We continue to work with the medical community, and Canada’s global partners, to move forward with the five-point plan to protect the health and safety of Canadians over both the short and long term:
– Minister Raitt continues to press AECL to bring the NRU reactor safely back into operation as soon as possible. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has confirmed that the heavy-water leak at the reactor poses no threat to either health or safety.
– Natural Resources Canada is working with Health Canada to mitigate the effect of supply disruptions in the short and medium term through increased information sharing with regard to isotope supply, and through work with provincial and territorial governments, and healthcare professionals, with respect to the management of isotope demand.
– Canada is actively engaging international partners to foster global solutions. At Canada’s request, the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, brought together members of the international supply chain at a workshop in January 2009. The workshop resulted in widespread recognition that the security of supply of medical isotopes is an international issue that must be addressed cooperatively by all isotope producing and consuming countries. A number of measures to enhance short-term supply security have been identified through work with the NEA, including better coordination of reactor production schedules, improved information sharing between suppliers and the medical community, and more efficient distribution and use of medical isotopes and alternatives. A high-level group has now been established under the auspices of the NEA to carry forward recommendations of the January 2009 workshop.

Thank you for writing on this important matter.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Wallace Director General Electricity Resources Branch Energy Sector Natural Resources Canada

Minister Cannon

Question to Minister Cannon on March 30, 2009.

Mr. Minister, how many ambassadors, diplomatic representatives or official government representatives do we have around the world? Where are they located and what cost do they represent, including salaries, facility expenses, staff expenses and travel expenses, to the taxpayers of Canada?

I respectfully submit these questions without prejudice. Thank you.

Answer May 13, 2009:

Dear Mr. Birkbeck :

On behalf of the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, I would like to thank you for your e-mail of March 30, 2009. I regret the delay in replying. Please find below, the information you requested.

At the end of the last fiscal year for which we have complete reporting material (March 31, 2008), Canada’s network abroad consisted of 7,305 employees located in 168 missions in 109 countries, including 9 missions to multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These 7,305 employees can be broken down into two principal categories: 1,877 Canada-based employees, who are Canadian citizens operating at missions abroad and which includes 137 heads of mission (generally High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Consuls-General), and 5,428 locally-engaged employees, who are people hired in the host country in which Canada maintains a mission presence.

While our 2009 reports are not yet finalized, preliminary figures show that we had a total of 7,537 employees located in 174 missions and 110 countries.

Canada’s diplomatic and consular network represents a myriad of Canadian interests overseas. Of the 7,305 people working internationally for Canada, 2,410 of them are actually employed by other government departments, prominently amongst those being Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). There are over 30 federal, provincial and agency programs working in missions abroad. Diplomacy, consular services and trade relations remain the central business lines of Canada’s international network from this department’s point of view. In addition, this department provides common service support for all the various programs from across government operating out of the mission network.

Our 168 missions, as of March 31 2008, consist of High Commissions (in Commonwealth countries), Embassies, Consulates-General, Consulates, and Offices of the Embassy, which are satellite offices in non-capital cities providing a special and focussed program presence. 38 missions and 19% of our overseas staff are located in Africa and the Middle-East, 32 missions and 30% of our mission staff are situated in the Asia-Pacific, 16 missions in Eastern Europe and 28 missions in Western Europe encompass 25% of our overseas staff, 26 missions and 12% of our personnel abroad are operating in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 28 missions, employing 14% of our staff abroad, are located in North America.

For the exact locations of our network of missions, please consult this link which will provide you more details.

The total cost of our diplomatic and consular presence overseas in fiscal year 2008, which includes, principally, salaries, physical resources and infrastructure, protection services, telecommunications, information technology, relocation and utilities provided to our 168 missions around the world, amounts to $754,961,885. Fluctuations occur from year to year in consideration of currency gains and losses and foreign rates of inflation. They also occur because of the expansion and contraction of our total mission presence worldwide in response to decisions taken by the government to adjust programs offered via the mission network. In fiscal year 2009, the amount increased to $799,671,569 largely due to an increased number of staff abroad (by approximately 232 across all government departments) and the decline in the value of the Canadian dollar versus foreign currencies, which meant that the cost to operate missions increased.

Best regards,

Mark FletcherDirector General/Directeur général

Representation Abroad Secretariat
Secrétariat de la représentation à l'étranger
(613) 944-2905 Fax/télé (613) 944-9021 Email/courriel :

Monday, December 07, 2009

CRTC News to Ponder

CRTC clears Al-Jazeera's English service to air in Canada. Al Jazeera English, the 24-hour English-language news and current affairs channel, is headquartered in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The organization is the world's first global English language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. From this unique position, Al Jazeera English is destined to be the English-language channel of reference for Middle Eastern events, balancing the current typical information flow by reporting from the developing world back to the West and from the southern to the northern hemisphere. The channel aims to give voice to untold stories, promote debate, and challenge established perceptions. With broadcasting centres in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington DC and supporting bureau worldwide, the channel will set the news agenda, bridging cultures and providing a unique grassroots perspective from under-reported regions around the world to a potential global audience of over one billion English speakers.

The station broadcasts news, current affairs, features, analysis, documentaries, live debates, entertainment, business and sport. Building on Al Jazeera Arabic channel's ground breaking developments in the Arab and Muslim world that have changed the face of news within the Middle East, Al Jazeera English is part of a growing network that is now extending this fresh perspective from regional to global through accurate, impartial and objective reporting. This should be interesting!

More Climategate

Climate Research Unit (CRU) scandal rocks the world. The Climatic Research Unit is widely recognized as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of climate change. It consists of a staff of around thirty research scientists and students upon which developed countries around the world have relied on to make important environment policy decisions. As a result of CRU’s computers having been hacked their credibility is now being question around the world. It has been reported that on Saturday, the University of East Anglia, in eastern England, said in a statement the hackers had entered the server and stolen data at its Climatic Research Unit, a leading global research centre on climate change. The hackers reportedly stole more than a decade of correspondence between leading British and U.S. scientists, and posted about 1,000 emails and 3,000 documents on websites. Apparently, the methodology and computer coding at CRU has for decades been less than reliable calling into question whether any of these scientists claims about our weather or global warming are even accurate. Countries from around the world will be convening in Copenhagen, Denmark, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and representatives from the Government of Saskatchewan. You really have to wonder why anyone would bother making the trip to Copenhagen other than to enjoy the trip as it is likely few will believe any thing coming out of this summit.

NDP - No Class

This past weekend I received two pieces of political propaganda in my mailbox. One was from Ralph Goodale, the liberal Member of Parliament for Regina Wascana Plains. The other was from the provincial NDP on black and white paper with a smiling, youthful looking photo of Dwain Lingenfelter, leader of the opposition, on one side and an aging, sad photo of Brad Wall on the other.

The message from Ralph Goodale was simply contact information, a calendar, a few photos showing him at work in his constituency and nice photo of him with his wife wishing Best Holiday Wishes. It was a quality piece that I suggest most people would appreciate.

On the other hand, the message from the NDP was how Brad Wall has taken us from boom to bust in two short years. It tells how the SaskParty government spending is apparently out of control with a 32% increase in just two years. It goes on to condemn the government and tell me how I will be paying more and getting less and how I am at risk with the Wall government having drained most of the $2 billion rainy day fund.

In my view, the NDP propaganda was ill timed considering we are less than three weeks from Christmas. It is not what I want to hear at this time of year regardless of the facts. There apparently is one distinct difference between the liberals and the NDP. The liberals, like Ralph Goodale, have class, which is more than can be said for the NDP based on their respective brochures received by voters, this past weekend.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Tiger Woods

People live and people die! That is one thing we all have in common, and that includes Tiger Woods. Unfortunately, almost everyone is jumping on his story. The news surrounding Tiger Woods tells us more about ourselves than most would care to publicly confess. Now consider this and see if it applies to you.

I was raised in a small Saskatchewan town of about 150 people. I was far from perfect; good at sports and a poor student as I struggled to even complete my grade twelve. Regardless, I loved and respected my parents and I respected my elders. The locals, including my educators, never believed I would ever amount to anything in life.

Now, at sixty-six years of age, I look back and see things I wish had never happened. I had failures in business, politics and my personal life. I could have been a better person, husband, parent and politician, but I wasn’t. I failed and I failed often. Why?
Because I am human and none of us are perfect. Some other person who is less than perfect reminds me of this almost everyday.

I have forgiven, but will always remember those, both dead and alive, who unfairly judged me based on my personal life and for being just a bit outspoken. I was lied about and defamed in more ways than I care to remember and, although it was painful, I survived and succeeded.

Now, if any of this confession applies to you then you should carefully consider what you say and how you live your life, which can end at any moment. If it doesn’t matter to you now it will after your death.

Tiger Woods and his family need our support, deserving or otherwise, not the continual damnation he is getting from those who are as less than perfect in some other way. I can relate to the weight of his burden.


If you are not up to speed on this news story then you can get up to speed by visiting the blog Small dead animals, which is now more commonly referred to as SDA. The blogging world beat the mainstream media on this one. It is now more effective to get current news and breaking stories off the internet than it is off mainstream media. The internet and blogging community should be credited for providing people with a broader view than what we currently receive from mainstream media.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Minister Blackburn

The following question was asked of Minister Blackburn in March of 2009 and no answer was ever received.

Mr. Minister, can you tell me what the three main sources of revenue are for the Government of Canada and what are the three largest expenditures for the Government of Canada year over year?

I respectfully submit these questions without prejudice. Thank you.

Minister Ambrose

Question to Minister Ambrose March 2009

Madam Minister, it is critical to find ways to create employment as you see the number of unemployed Canadians increasing. Have you considered meeting with the provincial Ministers of Labour to coordinate all available means of employing those seeking employment?

Saskatchewan’s Premier and the Mayor of Regina are attending a job fair in Ontario to recruit people from Ontario to relocate in Saskatchewan. This is interesting when you consider that there are thousands of qualified people in Saskatchewan, many with university degrees, that cannot find employment right here in Saskatchewan. Has the federal government considered establishing a national database that the unemployed can access online or at Human Resources Centres across Canada to post their resumes?

It seems there is a lack of coordination between the federal government and the provinces as we move through the current economic crisis. I look forward to your response.

I respectfully submit these questions without prejudice.

Answer May 2009:

Dear Mr. Birkbeck:

On behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Labour, I am writing in response to your e-mail of March 25, 2009, concerning your recommendations to create more job opportunities. Service Canada is committed to helping Canadians with the tools and services that individuals need to find available job opportunities, particularly in these challenging economic times. The Department offers valuable information and services to assist individuals in searching for employment and preparing for today's job market.

For your information, Service Canada's Job Bank Web site ( provides an electronic listing of job openings across Canada in a national database to assist job seekers in their search for employment. The Job Search function helps job seekers find currently available employment opportunities across the country. One of the Job Bank tools available to job seekers is the Job Match function, which allows job seekers to advertise their job profile and receive notices of matching jobs. A job seeker may link directly at the following address:

A job seeker may also register at the same address to receive daily job alerts if they wish to be advised when a new employment opportunity matches their job profile. Also available on that Web site is the Resume Builder that allows a job seeker to create and save several résumés along with writing tips and samples for guidance. Moreover, the Career Navigator allows a job seeker to explore other career options by answering questionnaires and reviewing labour market information pertaining to wages, other possible occupations and employment prospects.

Service Canada has also created a new "Life Events - Looking for a Job" page (, which may assist job seekers further. There, you will find links to many other job seeker resources, including income support and training information.

I wish to inform you that the Government of Saskatchewan has had a fully devolved Labour Market Development Agreement with the Government of Canada since 1999. For more information on what work opportunities and programs the Government of Saskatchewan offers, I invite you to visit the following Web site:

I hope that the above information is helpful in understanding what services are available to job seekers.
Yours sincerely,
Catherine Colterman
Director General
Service Offerings and Implementation Directorate
Citizen Service Branch
Service Canada

Minister Aglukkaq

The following question was asked of Minister Aglukkaq via email in March of 2009 and no answer was ever received:

Madam Minister, I understand Saskatchewan receives the highest per capita health transfer payments of any province in Canada.

Question: Does Saskatchewan receive the highest per capita health transfer payment of any province in Canada? If the answer is yes can you tell me why?

I hold no membership in any political party and I submit this question without prejudice. Thank you.

Nortel Pay Increases

Nortel will increase pay to top executives. This is the same company that filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009. How does this make sense when so many little people within Nortel were laid off? Fourteen of the executives will earn over $500 thousand. Interestingly, the biggest earner under the new compensation plan is former treasurer John Doolittle. He took over as head of the company's corporate group. Doolittle's total compensation has been bumped to $1.68 million this year, an increase of 1.12 million over 2008, when he earned $390,000 US in salary and an estimated $170,000 US in investment and bonus money. Isn’t all this just a bit hard to understand for the average person on the street.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Graham Taylor

The passing of Graham Taylor, a former Member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly and a former Cabinet Minister, is a time of sorrow for his family and friends. On the other hand, it is a time of fond reflection of a man who so sincerely served his province and his home community of Wolseley and surrounding area. He served in politics as he did in life with honour, loyalty and integrity.

Graham Taylor understood Saskatchewan people better than most. Life is a story and Graham was always interested in your stories and in sharing his own many stories. For me, there are only a few people in life that you always love to be around and Graham Taylor was one of those people.

Graham’s contribution to Saskatchewan politics is second to none, but more importantly he will be remembered for how he lived his life. His unwavering devotion to family and friends and his sincere compassion for Saskatchewan are the true traits of greatness. For this Graham Taylor will be affectionately remembered.

My condolences go out to his family and close friends. Graham, I will remember you. You were great!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Coffee Break

Early this week I was out for coffee with a couple of friends. One is a never happy conservative and the other I would suggest is a weak liberal. The discussions turned to politics and the foolish speculation out of Ottawa regarding the possibility of a federal election. Then the discussions focused on local politics and questions arose as how it may be possible to defeat Ralph Goodale. My conservative friend has been trying to get my liberal friend to run for the conservatives against Ralph Goodale and again posed the question during our coffee break.

The liberal said, “You can’t be serious. Just last week I saw Goodale on billboards of all descriptions across the city and at more public events than any other Saskatchewan politician. So what hope would I have of defeating him?” My conservative friend had to agree that it would be near impossible to defeat Goodale who campaigns relentlessly between elections. Goodale even claims he has accomplished more for Saskatchewan than all the other 13 MP’s combined. I won’t argue that claim, as Goodale likely didn’t even break a sweat, as he rolls along earning his pay and staying out of trouble.

Now as a person who believes anything is possible and that there isn’t a politician that can’t be defeated I decided to pose a question to my liberal friend who was flat out refusing to run against Goodale. I asked, “What would you say if I decided to run for the conservatives at the next federal election against Ralph Goodale, defeated him and became the new MP for the Wascana constituency? Then having wished you had ran against Goodale you would be calling me the next day asking how I managed to defeat Goodale.” There was a slight pause and then my liberal friend leaned toward me with a serious look and said, “No, I would be calling you to ask who forged Stephen Harper’s signature on your nomination papers.”

Now that’s a great line and you have to love it. Politics can be a nasty business, but it can be fun as well. It was a great coffee break and the joke was on me. Ralph, it seems you have nothing to worry about. At least not right now!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More about By-Elections

The two recent by-election losses by the SaskParty to the NDP did not surprise me, but it does raise a few questions. To begin with Premier Brad Wall’s popularity rating is very high. He is a young, dynamic, common sense Premier who has gained recognition across the country and in the United States. Premier Wall and the SaskParty government have managed the province relatively well and our economy is second to none in the country. The SaskParty is not marred in any scandal or blatant mismanagement of the province. They have not flirted with any foolish extreme policies and have governed with relative modesty. The SaskParty government has not provided any substantive reason for Saskatchewan voters to turn against them. To the contrary, they have provided a positive atmosphere for Saskatchewan voters and made it difficult for voters to come up with rationale reasons to vote for any other party. So why did they lose two by-elections?

To begin with the margin of victory for the NDP was not that good in what has historically been two strong holds for the NDP. I believe the SaskParty failed right out of the gate when the popular Brad Wall made comments that lowered expectations for their hope of winning either of the two by-elections. Brad Wall should have put out a strong call to win and then followed it up with a strong personal involvement in the campaign to influence voters with his personal popularity. Did the SaskParty put forth their best candidates? I suspect not because good candidates return phone calls and I know that didn’t happen. The SaskParty cannot claim they were short of funds to run a strong campaign so that reason for losing is out the window. In short, they lost because they thought they would and they were right.

So where does that leave them? Well, in some trouble because Dwain Lingenfelter will give them their strongest opposition since they formed government. I have no idea why voters would support the NDP given the record of the SaskParty, but they did. Further, I have no idea why Saskatchewan voters would return the NDP to power, but they might. The SaskParty needs to reach out to new voters and known supporters and begin to build new dynamic urban policies that will attract urban voters. Failure to do so will be hazardous at best.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The recent by-election results leaves one to wonder. Brad Wall is a popular Premier and his government has performed well. Our economy is second to none and there were no substantive reasons for voters to choose the NDP over the SaskParty. So why did they?

To begin with Brad Wall and the SaskParty believed they would lose and they were right. There was no all out effort, on the tails of Brad Wall’s popularity, to win. Granted, these two constituencies have historically voted NDP, but I believe they could have been won. The NDP did not win by a significant margin. A stronger campaign by the entire SaskParty machine led by Brad Wall may have made a difference.

So where does this leave the SaskParty? Well, in some trouble because Dwain Lingenfelter will give them their strongest opposition since they formed government. I have no idea why voters would support the NDP given the record of the SaskParty, but they did. Further, I have no idea why Saskatchewan voters would return the NDP to power, but they might. The SaskParty needs to reach out to new voters and known supporters and begin to build new dynamic urban policies that will attract urban voters. Failure to do so will be hazardous at best.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Canada-US Relations

The following is an American's view and appreciation of the good relations between Canada and the United States of America.

One American's View - David Meadows is a retired US Navy Captain and the
Author of numerous books and articles on military subjects.

This message was on the USMilitary.Com website.

It appears that Mr. Meadows knows one helluva lot more about what our
Military is doing than most Canadians.

David Meadows ~ April 27, 2006

On April 22, 2006 four Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a
Roadside bomb. Respects and heartfelt sadness go to the families of
Those heroes who stand alongside the U.S. In the Long War half a world
Away. While we focus on the war in Iraq, the fighting continues in
Afghanistan where side-by-side the U.S. And one of its most loyal
Allies, Canada, engage the re-emergence of the Taliban.

Canada is like a close uncle who constantly argues, badgers and
Complains about what you are doing, but when help is truly needed, you
Can't keep him away: he's right there alongside you. We have a unique
Relationship with Canada. We have different political positions on many
Issues, but our unique friendship has weathered world wars, global
Crises, and the ever-so-often neighborhood disagreement.

Canada has been with us since the beginning of the Global War on
Terrorism. In February 2006, without fanfare Canada, leading a
Multinational force combating growing Taliban insurgency, increased
Troop strength in Afghanistan to 2,300. With the American military
Stretched thin against rising instability in both Iraq and Afghanistan,
An ally that increases its troop strength is inspiring and deserves our

Katrina was another example of our close family-like relationship.
Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005.
Two days later, the Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue Team rushed from
British Columbia, Canada to Saint Bernard Parish, Louisiana. In this
Parish of 68,000 Americans, the first responders were Canadians.
Overall, within the devastated Gulf Coast area, it appears Canada was
The first responder outside of local efforts. They worked 18-hour days,
Going door-to-door alongside Louisiana State Troopers, rescuing 119
Americans. While FEMA ramped up to surge into the catastrophe; while the
Administration and Louisiana fought for the politically correct way to
Respond; Canadian aid was already at work.

The Canadian Forces Joint Task Group 306 consisting of the warships
HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Toronto, NSMC Ville de Quebec, and CCGC William
Alexander sailed to the Gulf Coast to deliver humanitarian supplies.
They stayed, working alongside U.S. Navy and Mexican warships, to
Provide aid to Katrina victims. Katrina was not an anomaly of our close
Relationship. When Hurricane Ivan devastated Pensacola, Florida in
October 2004 Canadian humanitarian help was there also. Canadian power
Trucks roamed the streets and countryside helping restore electricity
Where Americans had a unique experience of running into workmen who only
Spoke French.

Canada took a lot of undeserved flak for failing to leap into Operation
Iraqi Freedom when our administration sent us galloping across the
Desert. But Canada remains one of our staunchest allies in the war.
When United States military forces were fighting up the highways in
Operation Iraqi Freedom, Canada quietly increased troop numbers in
Afghanistan and continued Naval operations with U.S. Warships in the
Persian Gulf.

I was at the Pentagon on 9/11, stationed on the Joint Staff.
During the early hours after the attack, the United States closed its
Air space and ordered every aircraft within our borders to land
Immediately at the nearest airfield. Canada immediately stood up an
Operations Support Post. With civil aviation grounded, aircraft destined
For the United States were forced elsewhere. Most landed in Canada.
Re-routed travelers and flight crews were hosted at Canadian Forces
Facilities in Goose Bay, Gander, and Stephenville, Newfoundland;
Halifax, Shearwater, and Aldershot, Nova Scotia; Winnipeg, Manitoba;and
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Canada rapidly mobilized its forces. Within hours, the Canadian Navy was
On alert with ships preparing to cast off immediately for any U.S. Port
To help victims of the 9/11 attacks. Canada's Disaster Assistance
Response Team prepared to deploy from Trenton, Ontario. Canada dispersed
CF-18 fighter aircraft to strategic locations throughout Canada. No
Politics. No negotiating. No questions. They were just there. Canada
Would have fought any adversary that approached the United States that

Canada has been such an integral partner with the United States in the
Global War on Terrorism that on December 7, 2004 when President Bush
Awarded the Presidential Unit Citation to Commander Joint Force South
For combat success in Afghanistan, he was also recognizing the secretive
Canadian Joint Task Force 2 commando counter-terrorism unit.

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded 30 Bronze Star medals for
Heroism in combat to Canadian Forces personnel. Some of those 30 died in
action. Many of the others were wounded. These Canadians earned this
American medal for heroism fighting alongside Americans. When we recall
our own dead heroes, we must remember that these warriors gave their
lives not only for Canada, but also for the United States.

Canada is more than a neighbor. It is a close family member with the
gumption to disagree with its brother to the south but always be there
when disaster strikes and America needs help. For that, I salute you,
Canada, and extend my respect for the sacrifices given by members of the
Canadian Forces. What an awesome Country you are Canada!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Federal Election

It seems likely the nations politicians are going to burden us with yet another federal election. It comes at a cost of about 300 million with no apparent benefit to the Canadian taxpayers. When it is all over we will most likely be left with a minority liberal or conservative government. The NDP and Bloc are fringe players in Canadian politics and have no hope of forming government.

Stephen Harper argues that Canadians he has talked to don't want an election. Well that is a little weak. I suspect the liberals are saying that Canadians they are talking to want an election. The fact is both the Harper conservatives and the liberals are politically aligned in the middle of the political spectrum. This is where you have to be to form government and it is a natural place for the liberals. The conservatives have to work at it and are uncomfortable having to act like liberals, but they know they have no choice if they want to maintain their minority government or the possibility of forming a majority government.

The winners in this election are the politicians who get elected. They are very well paid and you have to ask if your MP is really worth it. The media also benefits as they get to cover this whole sorry mess as if it is the most important issue facing the country. The taxpayers will be the losers again as usual with little benefit resulting from a federal election. I suggest our nations politicians reject the notion of an election and get down to business and address the important issues facing Canadians. A federal general election will do little to serve the best interests of Canadians at this time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leadership in Life

The recent news that a gay youth retreat is opening in Saskatoon has raised many unrelated questions with me. It is apparently a four-day leadership camp for gay and lesbian youth for ages 14 to 24 at an undisclosed location in Saskatoon. To begin with I have no problem with this retreat, but most young people in this age group have identity problems and could benefit from leadership training. It seems to me that having a camp restricted to gays and lesbians may only reinforce the notion that these young people are different and discriminated against in some way by others in society. Confining this camp to gays and lesbians at an undisclosed location may only reinforce that notion.

Now about the unrelated questions! Having a camp for all our youth to provide leadership skills in how they may deal with personal identity, family, honesty, integrity, respect, understanding, love and compassion, a work ethic and how they can positively contribute to society and their community seems like a great idea. These few words are some of the tools they need to mature and enter the mainstream of society. It is how they will succeed in their chosen field of interest. It is how they will benefit from their personal and individual skills in terms of both money and personal satisfaction.

I am considered old at 65 and the problems I face as a senior are certainly different than those of our youth. Regardless, there are many similarities. At times some of us wonder who we were, who we are and who we are going to become, as we grow older faster with each passing day. Some of us wish for another shot at life in the faint hope that we may get it right the second time around.

Seniors too face discrimination as young people look at us and believe we never learned how to drive and that we were always old. My kids all believed I had too many rules in my house and that I was unfair in some way or that I didn’t understand their problems and in some cases they were likely right. I was never perfect and being perfect is not one of my goals. I know who I am most days and that’s all good with me. I am not famous, rich or good looking and that too is all good. I have a faith in God, a loving wife, a love of family, a few special friends and a loyal dog. That is all I need to know who I am.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Weather

We had the coldest winter in thirty years; we missed spring and jumped right into summer somewhere in July. It is now August and we have had a few days of normal summer. Fall cannot be far off as the birds are beginning to flock together and a few autumn leaves have gently floated down in my backyard. The hawks are slowly winging their way south and each day they move a few more line poles south. Summer wear is now on clearance at the stores and winter apparel is now on promotion.

It was a rough winter, a bad spring and a hit and miss summer. The only thing we can be sure of is another winter. For me and my Siberian Husky, Boots, that is not an entirely bad thing as she and I both enjoy winter, but even Boots enjoys her summer days down at the tennis club patiently waiting for me to try and win a game or two.

It would have been nice to have had a decent summer, but when you think of how bad this summer has been across the country it is likely prudent to consider how lucky we are to live in Saskatchewan. We have not had any bad storms, floods, forest fires or tornadoes that have caused such suffering for so many in other regions. I will take this summer for what it is and prepare for another winter and hope for a better summer next year. More importantly, I will give thanks for my health and my life as it is and simply take the weather one day at a time. Life in Saskatchewan is very good and the weather isn’t going to change that fact.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Senators Behaving Badly

You have to see this to believe it. The Senate and the House of Commons is too often a national disgrace. It is disgusting to think that we pay these people to act this way. They should be expected to act with respect for each other and the institutions they serve while representing Canadians and our national interests.

Click on the following links to get the full story.

YouTube: Senators behaving badly

YouTube: Senators behaving badly 2

Friday, June 26, 2009

Salute to Canada

British news paper salutes Canada . . . this is a good read. It is funny how it took someone in England to put it into words... Sunday Telegraph Article From today's UK wires: Salute to a brave and modest nation - Kevin Myers, "The Sunday Telegraph" LONDON:

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region.And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does.

It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored.Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped Glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States , and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts.For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved.Yet it's purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy.

Almost 10% of Canada 's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, it's unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular Memory as somehow or other the work of the 'British.' The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in theNormandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone.Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world. The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time.

Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer, British.It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them.

The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces.Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan?Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.

Lest we forget.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Premier Brad Wall's Nuclear Decision

The Brad Wall SaskParty government is performing well since being elected to govern. Wall’s message of “hope beats fear” has caught on and Saskatchewan will benefit long into the future as a result. Unfortunately, the NDP serve as nothing more than an anchor to our progress and look only to drag us back to the past.

Brad Wall is Saskatchewan’s Barack Obama. He is likeable, thoughtful, careful, prudent and well spoken in his role as Premier. His position on a nuclear reactor for Saskatchewan to address the world shortage of medical isotopes is the right and only decision. Public consultation is necessary and is underway, but Wall must act now if Saskatchewan is to take advantage of this special opportunity to place Saskatchewan on the world map as a leader. This will be the single most important legacy the Brad Wall SaskParty government will leave the people of Saskatchewan. He must act now and continue to display the leadership he has shown since taking office. Saskatchewan and the world, except the NDP and anti-nuclear groups, are expecting no less.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

CTV and Ministerial Responsibility

The recent controversy regarding the matter of a binder containing sensitive government documents is very troubling. The binder was left at CTV offices and the fact Lisa Raitt, Natural Resources minister, made no request to CTV to recover the documents for a number of days is also troubling. Further, it is troubling that CTV may have breached the ethics bar when they chose to go through the confidential government documents and report some of their findings on CTV news. The media apparently will stop at nothing to get a story or ruin a career. The professional response would have been to contact the minister immediately and return the documents. Was the good of Canada served by the actions of CTV over a human error on the part of the minister and her staff?

The fact that the minister has not resigned and that the Prime Minister has chosen to make Raitts' staff person, 26-year-old Jasmine Macdonnell resign and take the fall is the most troubling of all. You have to question the governments hiring policy for ministerial staff. Jasmine Macdonnell apparently has significant ties to the liberal party. Do you have to have a membership in the conservative party to work for a minister wherein you are privy to confidential documents?

The minister has a degree in chemistry and in law so it is reasonable to conclude that she is a pretty bright person. Controversy has surrounded this minister in and out of politics. She is the minister and gets paid the big bucks. It is assumed that Macdonnell was the person who failed and left confidential documents at CTV. Is a minister of the government not personally responsible for their staff while they are together on an assignment? Minister Raitt is a smart person and should have taken the time to assure that her staff and her documents were altogether before leaving CTV. Taking days before finally missing the binder full of sensitive and confidential material before recovering the binder from CTV is simply unacceptable.

The minister, Lisa Raitt, should have resigned along with her staff person, Jasmine Macdonnell regardless of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to not accept the offer to resign by minister Lisa Raitt. I believe the minister is ultimately responsible for her actions and those of her staff. What else will the government blame on their staff?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Harper's Problems

The Stephen Harper conservatives are not looking good these days. During the election Harper said he would not run a deficit and if the country voted for Stéphane Dion that the country would be thrown into a recession. He introduced a budget update that sent him running to the Governor General to save his minority government. Then he introduced a budget that he felt would help regain the confidence of Parliament. It projected a 34 billion deficit, which has now ballooned to 50 billion.

Harper was wrong about the deficit and he was wrong about the recession. He has risked billions in his attempt to get out of the economic mess he has the country in and now claims it is not the fault of the government because the world is in a recession. Harper is becoming unbelievable.

We don’t know much about this conservative minority government because Harper has been single handedly managing everything and only a few ministers of his cabinet are allowed to freely address the country on important issues. Even this hasn’t worked well when you consider how Defence minister, Peter Mackay and Foreign Affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon came to odds over whether Canada should lift the ban on the sale of military equipment to Pakistan who are waging a war with the Taliban along their border with Afghanistan. These are the same Taliban that have killed Canadian troops in Afghanistan that Canadians have been fighting for years.

The unemployment rates are going through the roof across the country, the markets have not yet stabilized and the government doesn’t seem to have a plan. The only plan we see every day is the stupid attack ads on Michael Ignatieff. These ads are costing millions and the conservative party is now annoying their membership base with relentless demands for their membership to cough up hundreds and thousands of dollars in their attempt to disgrace Ignatieff with these disgusting TV attack ads.

The reality is that Stephen Harper has been wrong too many times and seems too obsessed with staying in power at any cost and 50 billion is quite a cost. Harper’s actions are making Michael Ignatieff look good.

Canadians just came through a grueling winter and spring has been equally bad. We are just now getting some milder temperatures and our thoughts have turned to gardening, sports, and getting the most out of our short summer. Wouldn’t it be nice if Stephen Harper and his conservative government would get a plan and get on with effectively managing our country? If he doesn’t then he and many of his colleagues will be joining the ranks of the unemployed. That may be the voters’ plan if Harper doesn’t get a grip on governing the nation.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kevin Martin & his Team

Kevin Martin and his team lost their final game against Scotland in the World Final in a most unusual way. No one is more disappointed than me other than Kevin Martin and his team. There will be controversy surrounding Kevin Martin’s decision to throw away the first of his last two rocks in the last end of this well curled final. Scotland won it fair and square. Kevin missed his last rock. If he had made the shot he played then there would be no controversy.

I know curlers across Canada are disappointed, but Kevin Martin and his team, representing Canada, is likely one of the best teams ever to have represented Canada. They are one of the best teams, and still are, to have ever played the game. We should not let this fact be lost in our emotions. Far be it for me to judge the shot calling ability of Kevin Martin. They proudly represented Canada and I am proud of all they have accomplished for Canada and for the game of curling in Canada and around the world. They are truly an inspiration and are truly Canadian. They will be around for quite a while to proudly represent Canada and the great Canadian sport of curling. Congratulations to Kevin Martin, his entire team and his coach for making us all proud.

Truly Canadian

The latest issue in Afghanistan is legislation that allows men to have sexual relations with their wives on demand. Canadians rightfully disagree with this law, but we must remember that people in countries around the world have radically different views on human rights issues than we do here in Canada. Many of these varying views are based on their religious or historical culture. We may find it backward and in violation of human rights according to our religion, culture and laws respecting human rights, but should we impose our ways on others?

We always run into these problems when we interfere in conflicts within other countries. The argument is that we are at war and involved in other countries to protect ourselves from terrorists and those who would inflict harm on our people and our way of life. It is one thing to enter another country to root out terrorists, but it is quite another thing to establish a permanent presence in an attempt to change their customs and how they have lived for centuries. No one has won a war in Afghanistan dating back to Alexander the Great and nor will Canada. Some wars are just and winnable and others are not. It is clear that wars are costly in terms of lost lives and the financial burden on our country. Afghanistan, for many reasons, is a burden ripe to be removed from Canada’s responsibilities on the world stage.

Canada has always been a peaceful nation, but that is beginning to change. We need to tend to the home fires. We have people coming here to live and enjoy the rights, freedoms and opportunities that Canada offers. Many of these same people then rise up and demonstrate, within our country and within our laws, to demand that we fix problems in the very country they left in the first place. This is where I get off. Canadians should tend to Canada first. If immigrants to Canada don’t like what is going on in the country they left then they should be among the first to go back and fix it. When you choose to live in Canada and chose this country as your new homeland you choose to accept our values, our culture, our human and religious rights, our democracy and our freedoms. Canada is a tolerant nation, but these values are not to be imposed upon or abused. Let the Afghans, Taliban, religious rebels, terrorists and those who disrupt peace on our land and in our country think on that for a while. Is it truly Canadian to be any other way?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Government in Business

General Motors and Chrysler are both nearing bankruptcy. People continue to buy their vehicles. New and certified used vehicles have limited warranty protection. If one of these companies, or both, should happen to go bankrupt your warranty is still covered. So, how does this work? Well, Industry Minister, Tony Clement has it covered. He has announced $185 million to cover warranties and an additional $700 million guarantee to parts manufacturers. This, apparently, will enable them to continue to provide the parts required to satisfy warranty claims if either GM or Chrysler should fail. So if you make a warranty claim on your GM or Chrysler if they are no longer in business the claim simply gets sent to the Government of Canada. Wow, what a plan!

Here is my take on all this. First, why would you buy anything from a company that is flirting with closing business due to bad management and a failing economy? As a consumer you have choices. Use them! My government never asked me if I wanted to pay for the warranty claim my neighbor might make on a failed company. If they had, I would have said no.

Why are Canadian taxpayers being forced to bail out banks, auto companies and auto parts companies with an array of guarantees and loans? Business is a gamble and big business is a big gamble. Will the government bail out those who have lost millions on their life savings that were invested for their retirement? Not likely!

If you lose it all due to bad management, a failing economy or just bad luck then you will have to start all over again on your own. That is the best restructuring plan available and you won’t need my tax dollars to get back on your feet. The government is dragging us all into bankruptcy with their actions. How is that fair?

Many Canadians believe their government should not be in business to make money or provide a service at cost. If so, then why would you support your government bailing out failed businesses? How are we “going forward” on this one?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Conservatives Target Ralph Goodale

The conservatives are persistent in their efforts to defeat MP Ralph Goodale. I don’t blame them for that. Its just politics and the conservatives feel compelled to win all 14 constituencies in Saskatchewan. It is one thing to try and beat Ralph Goodale because he is a liberal, but it is quite a different matter if you are trying to beat him because he is not doing his job. The fact is, no conservative Member of Parliament works harder than Ralph Goodale. What conservative MP would dare lay claim to being a better Member of Parliament than Ralph Goodale?

In the conservatives attempt to defeat Goodale I received a conservative propaganda piece in the mail from David Anderson, MP for Cypress Hills-Grassland in southwestern Saskatchewan. Now that is a long way from Goodale’s Wascana constituency here in Regina where I live. Safe conservative seats in Saskatchewan, like that of MP David Anderson, use their mailing privileges to target voters in constituencies other than their own. In this case, it was Ralph Goodale’s Wascana constituency. Who else would they target?

It’s a wonder anything gets done in Parliament when you consider how much time they spend, and your tax dollars, just working to get re-elected to either get in the pension zone or build on it.

David Anderson has a safe constituency and is coasting to retirement. Ralph Goodale works hard at being an MP and takes no voter for granted. Ralph is tough to beat. In politics anything is possible, just ask veteran conservative MP Andrew Scheer, who has been elected three times in the constituency of Regina-Qu’Appelle.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Suncor - Petro-Canada Merger

The merger between Suncor and Petro-Canada has the potential to unleash unprecedented oil reserves out of the Alberta Oilsands. An abundant supply may have the effect of reducing prices at the pumps in the same way that a shortage of supply increases pump prices. Further, what does it matter what the price is at the pumps if there is no supply to meet the demand? Add to this the economic benefit of Canada exporting oil and gas to the US. When all is in and done the merger may benefit Canadians in the long term.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Justice Minister Don Morgan vs CBC

Should the CBC be scrapped? It is reported that only 1 in 12 Canadians watch CBC. The government too heavily funds the CBC. Over one billion at last count and they are now asking Minister James Moore for another 100 million in the form of a loan on their annual federal appropriation due to a drop in advertising revenue resulting from the failing economy. The CBC has little to do with protecting Canadian content or providing Canadian content. In one year they lost the Grey Cup and the Brier to TSN and those two are about as Canadian as it gets with the exception of hockey.

Regardless, Justice Minister Don Morgan was maybe too quick out of the gate when he apparently wrote a strongly worded letter to the CBC Ombudsman. Morgan was opposing the possibility of CBC airing a telephone interview they conducted with convicted killer Curt Dagenais. Interestingly, Justice Minister Don Morgan did not know the content of the interview between the CBC and Dagenais and nor did he know what part, if any, the CBC was intending to air. Morgan did know that Dagenais may appeal his conviction and charged that the CBC was in some way attempting to reopen the case by conducting the interview. I understand it is generally popular to oppose the CBC. It is also popular to speak out against convicted killers like Curt Dagenais.

In this case, the CBC had every right to interview Curt Dagenais and they would have had every right to report, based on that interview, that Dagenais may appeal his conviction. Nonetheless, this matter raises more questions about the motives of Justice Minister Don Morgan than it does about the CBC. Was Morgan too quick out of the gate without having all the facts before him? By his own words, when informed of what was in the CBC interview, Don Morgan said, "Maybe I was going too far, too fast." It seems the CBC was within their mandate, but was Justice Minister Don Morgan within his mandate?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

President Barack Obama

There have been plenty of news stories surrounding the miraculous success of Barack Obama. The news stories escalated from the first day he entered the race to become President of the United States of America to his recent visit to Canada. I signed up with the Obama campaign on January 1, 2007. His success to date is historic and unprecedented.

John Gormley believed Obama would never see the inside of the White House as President. On the day of President Obama’s visit to Canada it was unfortunate that Gormley was still engaged in negative commentary over President Obama. He suggested the President’s visit was over hyped and that the thousands who gathered on Parliament Hill to catch a glimpse of the new President would be disappointed. The next day Gormley conceded that President Barack Obama’s visit to Canada and his meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been a good day.

The two leaders agreed to engage in a clean energy dialogue toward reducing gas emissions and fighting climate change. The US President did not pressure Prime Minister Harper for additional commitments from Canada to the military mission in Afghanistan. They agreed to work together to strengthen the struggling auto sector. The President apparently relieved Prime Minister Harper over concerns that the US buy America clause in their $787-billion US stimulus package may break international free-trade agreements. President Obama wants to begin talks to include labour and environmental provisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) without disrupting the important trade relations that exist between the US and Canada.

By any measure it was a day many Canadians will never forget. President Barack Obama lived up to every bit of hype surrounding his visit to Canada. We should wish President Obama well as he faces the worst economic crisis in America since the great depression. We should not be negative towards the President or the US because, as most people know, our economy is almost entirely linked to that of the US. The health of the US economy affects the health of the global economic community and that includes Canada.

Everyone concedes President Barack Obama is an exceptional orator and highly popular. I suggest the intelligence and substance of the man should not be underestimated. He is a man of destiny who is determined to accept any challenge and to succeed. He is a man who understands that destiny is not a matter of chance, but rather a matter of choice. He is Barack Obama and he is the President of the United States of America. I can’t predict his future, but I wish him every success.

Friday, February 27, 2009

NDP Pamphlet

A few days ago I received a political pamphlet from the Regina NDP MLA’s. On the front it was captioned “Brad Wall and the Sask Party. It should have read SaskParty. Then all the photos in the pamphlet were of supposedly struggling individuals and families who all had sad faces. The only smiling faces were those of the eight NDP MLA’s who mailed this pamphlet to my home. They should be smiling when you consider what MLA’s are paid these days. The entire pamphlet was dark and drab in black and white in an apparent attempt to suggest doom and gloom under the Brad Wall SaskParty government.

In reality it speaks more to the negative and left me with the impression that if the NDP were returned to power that we would return to the dark and drab days of negative thinking that was so prevalent under the previous NDP government.

Saskatchewan is doing better than any other province in the country right now. It is not all due to the SaskParty government, but remember what Premier Brad Wall said on the evening that he and his party were elected to government. Brad Wall on that evening said, “Hope beats fear” and that is the difference between the SaskParty and the NDP.