Patronage alive and well in Conservative govt

The Conservative government of Stephen Harper is handling out a lucrative sole source contract to former Conservative cabinet minister Harvie Andre. Details of the proposed contract can be found on the government's contracting website www.merx.com
Mr. Andre is being hired for a period of 6-8 months for a sum somewhere between $250,000-$500,0000 to serve as Chief Federal Negotiator to manage, direct and conduct negotiations with the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Aboriginal Summit to transfer DIAND’s land and resource management responsibilities in the Northwest Territories (NWT) to the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).The rationale for the sole sourcing of the contract states that:
"The Honourable Harvie Andre, as a former Member of Parliament for 21 years and with portfolios including Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Associate Minister of Defence and Minister Responsible for the Post Office, has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to resolve highly sensitive issues and conclude complex negotiations which are beneficial to the parties specifically and to Canadians generally....The Honourable Harvie Andre is, therefore, considered uniquely capable of performing the proposed contract work."

It seems that patronage is alive and well in the Harper government, notwithstanding promises to clean up the system.


Should obscene oil company profits be more heavily taxed?

Exxon Mobil reported a 36 percent gain in second-quarter earnings yesterday, bolstered by robust oil and gas prices. When you drive up to the pump to fill up your car's gas tank, do you stop to ponder whether you are being gouged by corporate greed? Oil company profits indicate that indeed is the case. If there is no rational way to better regulate prices to avoid such ripoffs, should governments not be intervening through taxation of these obscene profits to return some of the excess to taxpayers?

Canadians dying to prop up reactionary Afghan regime

The Taliban were notorious for their suppression of individual freedoms and rule by religious clerics. Has the West merely replaced one reactionary regime with another? Afghan President Hamid Karzai has apparently approved a request by religious clerics to reinstate the notorious vice-and-virtue department despite protests from human-rights groups and female politicians. Does this mark a return to the ways of the Taliban? Are Western, including Canadian soldiers', lives being sacrificed to prop up a regime which in several respects may be as reactionary as the one it replaced? Should Canadian troops be in Afghanistan given these disturbing developments?


Canada ranks second in Afghan casualities

With the latest two casualties Canada now ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of coalition deaths by nationality.


Canadians want to bring troops home from Afghanistan

As a follow-up to yesterday's post I was interested in today's online Globe and Mail poll. Results are below:

The Globe and Mail recently surveyed Canadians on our military's mission in Afghanistan, the results suggest most are not in favour of mission. What do you think the government should do:

Bring Canadian troops home now
(58%) 17855 votes
Remain in Afghanistan for a limited time, perhaps two years or more
(15%) 4524 votes
Stay as long as it takes to stabilize the country
(27%) 8234 votes
Total votes: 30613


Harper majority slipping away

There are signs that the anticipated Harper majority in the next election is slipping away:

1. The inept manner in which the evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon has been handled is a public relations disaster for the government. Today the Globe reported that this debacle was being attributed to micromanagement by PMO causing delays of several days in mounting the evacuation.

2. Also today we have the results of a new poll which indicates that support for the Afghan mission is falling sharply.Almost half of voters surveyed said they want the Prime Minister to immediately withdraw troops from Afghanistan. If the situation worsens there in the coming months, the electoral prospects for the Conservatives could diminish significantly.

The best thing the Conservatives have going for them is the leaderless Liberals, coupled with the fact that the perceived front runner Michael Ignatieff is out on the same foreign policy limb as Harper.

Stay tuned.


BigPharma Misuses Petitions to FDA to delay generics

According to a report in the Washington Post BigPharma companies are abusing petition process to FDA to delay generics and hence keep drug prices artificially high:

"A procedure designed to alert the Food and Drug Administration to scientific and safety issues is getting a hard look from members of Congress, who say they are concerned that it may be getting subverted by the brand-name drug industry.

"Some at the FDA, as well as leaders in the generic drug industry, complain that "citizen petitions" -- requests for agency action that any individual, group or company can file -- are being misused by brand-name drugmakers to stave off generic competition.

"The simple act of filing a petition, they say, triggers another round of time-consuming and often redundant reviews of the generics by the FDA, which can take months or years. In the process, consumers continue to pay millions of dollars more for the brand-name drugs."