Archive for December 12th, 2012

Monday in court at robocalls hearing

- December 12th, 2012

Jessica Hume
Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA – Conservative party lawyers attacked the Council of Canadians’ star witness Monday, in the first day of hearings into the robocalls scandal.
Pollster and founder of Ekos Research Frank Graves was called as a witness by the Council of Canadians for conducting a poll that determined elections results in several ridings were affected by robocalls.
In an aggressive cross-examination, party lawyer Arthur Hamilton tried to show that Graves was biased against Conservatives.
Hamilton pointed to donations allegedly made in 2006 by Graves to the Liberal party in an attempt to hurt the pollster’s credibility and show he has a vested interest in finding voter suppression took place.
Graves told reporters he also made a donation to a Tory candidate in the Vanier riding and that the attacks on him would not change the bottom line — “that the robocalls did make a significant difference in the way these elections concluded.”
Earlier in the day Hamilton told court the six legal actions brought against the government and now before the judge this week represents the will of the Council of Canadians – not six Canadian voters.
The left-leaning Council’s wish is to “sink the Harper agenda,” which they chose to pursue by inviting voters to lend their names to legal actions, Hamilton said. Those individuals, he said, had no intention of taking any action prior to the Council’s involvement.
Visibly shaken after being cross-examined, Graves said he did not enjoy having his credibility attacked and added he might pursue legal action to clear his name.
The hearing continues.

Beyond right to work

- December 12th, 2012

This is an excellent point, that right-to-work legislation do not necessarily end the monopoly unions enjoy when it comes to representing and negotiating on behalf of all employees – whether they pay dues or not.

As Mario Loyola and others have noted, Michigan seems poised to enact a right-to-work law, and union supporters — including the president — have been panicking. They’re justified in being worried: Right-to-work laws are a useful step in rolling back the unions’ horrendous National Labor Relations Act (see my lengthy examination of the act here). But these laws shouldn’t make us lose sight of the fact that the NLRA itself is the problem.

Under the NLRA, once a private-sector union has votes from a majority of workers, it has a legal right to represent all workers. (This is often called “monopoly bargaining” power.) In return, union agreements typically require workers to join or pay dues, even if they don’t want to. State right-to-work laws, which have been allowed under the NLRA since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, give workers the right to refuse to join or pay.

The good thing, obviously, is that right-to-work laws eliminate some of the coercion here: A majority of your coworkers no longer can force you to pay dues to an organization you don’t want to be a part of. The problem, however, is that non-members are still covered by the collective-bargaining agreements negotiated by the union. No matter how you look at it, this is a problem: Conservatives are troubled that non-members are not fully free of unions, and liberals are frustrated that non-members are benefiting from union agreements without paying dues.

All true. Still, you need to start somewhere and as far as I’m concerned forced union dues are the best place to start.

Syrian opposition – to recognize or not?

- December 12th, 2012

After Britain and France, the U.S. now recognizes the Syrian opposition as legitimate representative of the people of Syria. And I’m decidedly unhappy about that. I think it’s too early and reckless – and it will come back to bite them smack in their comfortable behinds. There are too many Islamist fundamentalists in that gang for my taste. They are violent (there are videos online of them beheading Assad loyalists) and have made blood-curdling threats to Christians and other groups. The current regime is evil and brutal – but why the rush to endorse another group that includes too many evil and brutal guys for comfort?

Tuesday’s move came as senior U.S. officials warned that Syria’s civil conflict threatens to degenerate into a battle between al Qaeda-backed militias and Iranian militants and their proxies, a risk that has created new urgency for the U.S. and allies to accelerate a political transition.

“There is a small element of those who oppose the Assad regime that are affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq…and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements of the opposition,” Mr. Obama told ABC News.

The Obama administration on Tuesday for the first time released intelligence directly tying a powerful Syrian rebel group to commanders of al Qaeda in Iraq. U.S. officials formally sanctioned the Syrian militia, called Jabhat al-Nusra—freezing any assets it may have in the U.S. and barring Americans from doing business with it—because of fears it is gaining disproportionate power among the rebel groups seeking to overthrow Mr. Assad.

Two things: One is that Canada has not yet recognized the Syrian coalition. The other is that Hillary Clinton was supposed to make that announcement regarding the US endorsement, but a last-minute stomach bug reportedly forced her to cancel all appearances this week. Maybe I’m too paranoid and cynical, but I can’t help thinking that this stomach bug’s timing is most excellent. That way, if it turns out in the future that endorsing the Syrian opposition was a mistake, well, it won’t have Clinton’s fingerprints on it…

Right to work: it’s time

- December 12th, 2012

Michigan did it. Now everyone can. Including Canada.

And yes, the unions know that. It’s one reason they were so violent in Michigan in their opposition to right-to-work legislation. Fine. Let them have their tantrum. We’re winning…