The Internet, now on computers -

The Internet, now on computers


About 70 minutes late, the Prime Minister’s interview with the masses is now online.

For those who wish to read along, here is the transcript distributed by the Prime Minister’s Office.

PATRICK PICHETTE: So good afternoon or good day, everybody.  My name is Patrick Pichette, and we have really a unique opportunity today, an exclusive interview with the Prime Minister, and by exclusive, I really mean inclusive, because we’ve brought in all of Canada and their questions back into this room.  So bonjour à tous.  Mon nom est Patrick Pichette.  Nous avons une opportunité unique aujourd’hui d’avoir une entrevue exclusive avec le Premier ministre, puis c’est…quand je dis « exclusive » je veux vraiment dire « inclusive », parce qu’on a toutes les questions qui nous ont été apportées du Canada suite au discours du Trône.  Bonjour.  Bienvenue Monsieur le Premier ministre.


PATRICK PICHETTE: So, I’ll just explain how this works.


PATRICK PICHETTE: In a nutshell, what we have is following the Throne Speech, we’ve opened up on Google a page where every Canadian could come up, write either on a text basis or load up their own video and ask questions, and in addition to this, people could vote.  So over 1800 questions were tabled, over just around 175,000 votes came in.  So this is very participative.  This is kind of democracy at work.


PATRICK PICHETTE : Alors 1800 questions ont été posées, soit en vidéo, soit en texte, et tout près de 175 000 votes à ces questions. What we’ve done is we’ve picked from the very top tier a selection of questions, and then some we’ll see on video, and then some also I’ll just read for you, text for you to react to.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: That’s great.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Are we ready to go?


PATRICK PICHETTE: So the first one is actually a question that has been tabled to us both in French and English.  The gentleman, Joseph Collins from Whitehorse, has a question related to the budget and the budget deficit, so why don’t we listen to the question.

QUESTION : Bonjour Monsieur le Premier ministre.  Je suis Joseph Collins et j’habite à Whitehorse.  Au cours de la dernière élection, vous avez dit que le Canada était dans une situation financière solide et que nous n’allions pas entrer en déficit ou en récession, d’ailleurs.  En un an, alors que la crise économique se tenait au Canada, nous avons vu le déficit atteindre 56 milliards $.  Kevin Page, directeur parlementaire du Budget, dit que nous sommes maintenant en déficit structurel.  Si tu crois qu’il a raison, comment envisagez-vous de nous en sortir, et si vous pensez qu’il a tort, qu’est-ce qu’il manque?  Merci.

PATRICK PICHETTE : There you go.  So…

TR. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Alors je peux répondre en français…

PATRICK PICHETTE : En anglais ou en français, comme vous désirez.

TR. HON. STEPHEN HARPER : Il m’a posé la question en français.  Je peux répondre en français.  D’abord, depuis la grande chute économique mondiale à la fin de 2008, on a vu presque tous les pays du monde sont dans une position du déficit.  Mais la réalité est que la position du Canada, la position fiscale du Canada est beaucoup plus forte que la grande majorité des pays.  Notre déficit est un des plus petits dans des pays développés.  Ce n’est pas un déficit structurel.  Ça veut dire un déficit permanent.  Ce n’est pas ça.  Mais c’est essentiel de faire certaines choses pour éviter une telle situation, et nous sommes très clairs dans le budget : d’abord on doit terminer des programmes de stimulus à la fin de cette récession.  Ça veut dire selon nous, nous avons établi la date de 21 mars 2011 pour la termination [sic] de la grande majorité des dépenses de stimulus extraordinaire.  Et après ça, nous avons pris des mesures nécessaires pour assurer que des dépenses gouvernementaux vont augmenter d’une façon très lente à l’avenir.  Et si on fait ces deux choses, on peut éviter un déficit à long terme, et on peut éviter aussi la hausse des taxes et des impôts, parce que c’est important pour nous comme conservateurs d’éviter des hausses de taxes et des impôts qui nuisent sérieusement le futur de notre économie.

I’ll just maybe repeat a little bit, that, you know, it’s basically through ending our stimulus programs March 2011, and through, as the budget outlined, a series of measures to ensure that government spending grows very slowly after this recession, that revenue will recover, and we will be able to balance our budget over basically a five-year term without raising taxes, and that’s very important, because obviously tax hikes could damage the economy.  Now, I should just say that a lot of experts have commented on our fiscal plan, and frankly, as far as I’ve seen, they are virtually all in agreement that these measures are sufficient to come out of deficit to avoid a permanent or structural deficit.  In fact, some of the experts in the big financial institutions actually went so far as to say that the government is being overly cautious, that we could actually come out of deficit sooner. We don’t agree with that, but we certainly will err on the side of caution.  But if we do these things, as I say, we’ve been in a position because we’ve got a strong fiscal position in Canada, we’ve been in a position to deliver some of the largest stimulus programs in the world during this recession, but we are also in a position to come out of this deficit quickly, unlike most countries.  This will be a great advantage to Canada as we go forward.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Great, thank you for that question…and answer. We’ll go to something related.  The second one is…let me go to the next one.  The next one is about related to the budget, but regarding foreign aid policies and Canada’s contribution.  This YouTube user, his or her name, SP34 is the way that she…or he…so let’s look at the question on the video again.

QUESTION: Hi Prime Minister Harper.  My question is will the government continue its current financial commitment to aid in Africa of $2.1 billion per year beyond 2010, and pursue trade legislation similar to the African Growth and Opportunities Act that exists in the United States?  Thanks.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: On the first part of the question, I think we should be very clear.  Canada was…we made a commitment some years ago to double our foreign aid budget and to double our aid to Africa, and Canada was the first G7 country to achieve those targets, so we’re very proud of the work we’ve done there.  Over the next year foreign aid will increase again and Canada will go up another eight percent, very rapid growth.  After that it will be flat lined.  It will be held constant at these record levels of spending as our deficit recovers.  We’re in a position in Canada that we can maintain these strong levels of international support without having to cut them, without having…in order to reduce our deficit, and that’s what we want to continue to do.  So we’ll get up to these high levels that we’re maintaining.  We’ll maintain those kind of levels of aid, and obviously we’ll work within that budget as we go forward.  We’re also, as maybe I should mention, we’re chairing of course, Canada’s chairing the G8 and the G20 leaders’ summits this year in June, and our priority for development really for the G8 meeting is to focus on maternal and child health, on a series of investments we want all G8 countries to do in coordination to really save the lives of women and children.  We think that with reasonably modest investments, and less face it, with the fiscal situation that a lot of countries are in, investments in the future are going to have to be fairly modest, but with modest investments, we think we can make a big difference in these areas, so yes, we will be maintaining our aid levels, and obviously focusing on priorities like maternal and child health going forward.

PATRICK PICHETTE: That’s terrific, thank you.  We’re going to switch, if you don’t mind, switching gears from the budget, and we know that Senate reform is something that you’ve spoken about for many years, so we have one representative, Harvey Armstrong from Woodstock, Ontario.  He’s submitted a question about Senate reform, so why don’t we listen to Harvey.  Let’s watch it on YouTube again.

QUESTION: Hi Prime Minister Harper. I’d like to know how you justify having unelected representatives of Canadian citizens in the Senate.  Why can’t we elect our senators?  Thank you.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, it’s a good question by Harvey, and I don’t really justify it.  My position for a long time is that the Senate should be reformed, and part of that reform should be the ability of people to choose to elect their own senators.  I’ve had an open invitation to Parliament, to the provinces and territories to allow for elections.  We’ve had election legislation before Parliament that Parliament has chosen not to pass.  I’ve invited the provincial government across the country to elect senators.  We’d certainly be interested in naming some elected senators, and so far only one has done so: that was the province of Alberta.  They had an election several years ago, a fellow named Bert Brown, who is the leader of the triple-E Senate reform movement in Canada.  Bert was elected in that election, actually took place before I was in office, but when we had a vacancy in Alberta, I named Bert Brown because he had won, he had placed highest in the Alberta election for the choosing of senators.  So we’ve named Bert, and he continues to push in the Senate.  We’ll be continuing to push in this parliamentary session the idea of Senate reform, and particularly of Senate elections, so we’ll continue to push that agenda forward.  Now, look, in the meantime, what do you do when you don’t have elected senators?  Well, you know, I think the truth of the matter is this: if people don’t give me elected senators to name, then I will name senators myself, and obviously if we don’t have elected senators to name, then the senate should at least by chosen by the government people did elect.  Because if I don’t name senators in the absence of election, then the Senate will be controlled not just by unelected senators, by unelected senators that elect a government that people…that represent a government people didn’t elect, and that was the previous government.  So we’ll continue to appoint senators, but I certainly continue to invite Parliament and the provinces to give us elected senators, and I’d be more than happy to name them to the Upper House.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Great. Thank you.  I’m sure that Harvey’ll be thrilled by this answer.  Let me change completely topic for a few minutes.


PATRICK PICHETTE: I’ll just grab a bit of water.  I want to talk about Afghanistan for a moment.  We had B. Jonte from Waterloo – this is a written question, so there’s no video.  The question was submitted on the topic of Afghan detainees.  So her question was: “Why is the government not more open about the Afghan detainee issue?  So the question goes on to say, “Every time a legitimate question is asked, the response is that we should – in quotations – ‘support our troops’ and look the other way.”  So that was B. Jonte’s question.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Yeah, well, first of all it’s important to say I don’t agree with the premise of the question.  First of all, this, you know, this issue has been bandied around now for nearly four years.  And yet we have no evidence that Canadian soldiers have done anything wrong.  There’s no evidence that they have been abusing detainees or that they’ve been complicit in the abuse of detainees.  There’s just no evidence of this at all.  So you know, I think that our men and women in uniform and other public servants, you know, before they’re accused of something, they have a right to know there’s some evidence of it, and there is no evidence.  Now, you know, through the process, various people have asked for all kinds of background information on this.  It’s called access to information.  There’s been court cases.  There’s been access to information requests.  This government, there are public servants in charge of releasing documents, independent public servants. They release documents based on the law.  Most things can be released.  Some things can’t be released, if they have to do with national security or privacy or there’s a number of other things.  These public servants make the decisions independently on what can or cannot be released according to the law.  But tens of thousands of pages of documents have been released.  Now, there are some who are saying, “Well, what’s…you know, are they hiding something in the unreleased material?”  There’s no particular evidence of that, but I’ve asked Frank Iacobucci, a former Supreme Court Justice, to review the work of all these independent public servants and be sure that things are not being hidden, that everything that’s supposed to be released is released, so I think that’s a fair compromise.  But as I say, I think that you know, there’s been a lot of loose accusations thrown around, but really no evidence.  I think our men and women in uniform and other public servants have been doing a, you know, a good job in Afghanistan under extremely difficult conditions.  I think they do deserve our support and I certainly think they do deserve, before they’re accused of anything, there should be some basis of these kinds of accusations.  I, you know, I’m confident that the record will continue to show that they’ve acted honourably when problems have arisen, and we have had instances where there was some evidence or some, you know, basic evidence of mistreatment at the hands of the Afghan government, then corrective actions have been taken.  That has been, you know, relatively infrequently.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Thank you for talking to that, sir.  Switch again topics: the environment.  So Shannon in Victoria sends us this question about…and she’s just lived the Olympics with the warmth there.  So her question is: “We’re experiencing our warmest winter in BC.  Climate change is obviously affecting the weather here in Canada.  Is your government willing to take the strong measures necessary to adequately deal with climate change?”

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, the answer’s yes, and basically, Patrick, I would say to the questioner that there are – I missed the name, but there are…


RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Shannon.  There are three broad things we’ve been doing to deal with the climate change issue.  The first is to try and come up with an effective international treaty on climate change, and in our view, our position since we’ve been elected is that to have an effective international treaty, you have to have one that covers all emissions.  Now, we didn’t have that before.  We had, previously had an agreement that covered only a very, frankly, about a third of global emissions.  So we said we needed a treaty that covers all emissions, and that’s the agreement we got at Copenhagen.  Now, it’s not perfect, but at least for the first time, we have virtually every country in the world saying they will be part of an effort that will include their emissions.  So we’re obviously making commitments under that agreement, and further negotiation will go forward internationally in the next year or so to try and hammer out some more details and that. So we’re doing that internationally.  At the continental level, as you know very well from your own background, Patrick, as a displaced Canadian, we live in an integrated North American economy.  We believe we need also a continental approach, particularly when you’re dealing with a lot of aspects of regulation or control of actual emissions in Canada.  Because the problem we have with the high integration of our economy, if we impose emissions regulations on plants and firms that don’t exist just south of the border, those things will move overnight, because we have a fully integrated economy, so we need a joint approach.  Since President Obama was elected, I mean, you know, President Obama’s obviously, you know, had a very different position on this than his predecessor.  He certainly indicated a willingness to tackle climate change and to work with us on this.  When he came up to visit me in Ottawa shortly after his election, we established what we call a clean energy dialogue, where we’re working together on a series of joint projects, and ultimately I hope a continental cap and trade system on greenhouse gas emissions.  So that’s the second thing, what we’re doing continentally.  And then the third thing are some national actions.  We continue to fund, I mean literally billions of dollars into research to deal with the development of clean energy technology.  You know, Canada, as you know, is in a remarkable position, is that we are maybe the only country in the world that literally has a surplus of virtually every form of energy.  Energy security is not an issue in this country.  So whatever the energy mix of the future is, Canada is going to be a major player in the energy business.  That’s why I say we’re an emerging energy superpower, but we want to make sure we’re a clean energy superpower, so whatever the future energy mix is, we want to make sure we’re doing the most advanced, we have the most advanced technology in those areas, and that we have the cleanest form of energy in all of those areas.  That’s why we’re investing in things like carbon capture and storage.  That’s why we have, you know, we have the green infrastructure fund in our economic stimulus program.  We have a series of what we call eco-energy initiatives to encourage the development of new technology and energy efficiency.  We have, you know, as I say, we just have really…we have the gamut.  And we’re going to make sure whatever the energy mix of the future is, we’re a major provider, and we’re doing it as cleanly as possible.  So those are the three things we’re doing, you know, internationally, continentally and nationally.  Still a lot of work to be done.  This is, you know, this is not an easy area.  I think what all your viewers should realize is what causes emissions is economic activity.  You know, all emissions virtually are caused by either people heating themselves or moving around or engaged in economic activity of some kind.  So to change our energy use carbon footprint over time requires the development and adaptation of a new generation of technology, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Great, thank you for that question…that answer. We…change subject completely again.


PATRICK PICHETTE: We’re going to go to seals.  So the question comes from Phoqueshot in Windsor, Ontario.  The question is as follows: “Why is the fate of harp seal population in the hands of hunters instead of that of qualified scientists?  So please cancel,” is the request, “the 2010 commercial seal hunt.”

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, as you know, that’s a minority view among Canadians.  Let me just say a couple of things about this.  First of all, the premise of the question really is wrong.  All hunts in Canada, all aspects of the fishing industry are regulated by scientifically based regulations.  We would only allow a hunt if it were ecologically sustainable.  In the case of seals, as I think many of your viewers will know, a seal is not an endangered species in Canada.  We could hunt many, many more seals than we actually hunt if that were the sole criteria.  So there’s no danger of the seal population disappearing on us.  There are literally millions, in fact all the evidence says it’s a growing population.  It’s a small…you have to realise, the seal hunt is a small hunt, I mean relative to many other aspects of animal husbandry in this country.  I mean, the number of seals that traditional fishers or that the Inuit people harvest every year is very small compared to the number of cattle or the number of pigs or the number of chickens or any other animal that we use as part of our economic activity, whether for food or clothing or whatever else.  So you know, I guess our view as the government of Canada, and I think most Canadians’ view is, you know, these…the hunt has to be treated fairly internationally.  Just because, you know, it’s only our Inuit people or a few other traditional communities doing sealing doesn’t mean you should be able to single them out and treat them differently than you would treat the cattle industry or any other industry.  And quite frankly, the changes, the regulations put in place over the past generations have made this a very humane hunt.  I think as even The Economist, the British publication said not too many months ago, if you compare the standards of the seal hunt compared to the standards of slaughterhouses in many industries, this is one of the most humane…this is one of the most humane cases of animal husbandry in the world.  And so as I say, we will continue to vigorously defend our sealers, but people need to understand we would…this is completely dictated by science.  There is no scientific evidence that says the seal population is in jeopardy.

PATRICK PICHETTE: In decline (inaudible).


PATRICK PICHETTE: We’ll switch over, if you don’t mind, in French.  So we have… On a une question qui a été posée par un Monsieur Laflamme de Châteauguay au Québec.  Monsieur Laflamme nous écrit, il nous dit : « Qu’est-ce que vous allez faire pour mieux protéger les fonds de pension des travailleurs canadiens qui sont aux prises avec des employeurs en faillite? »

TR. HON. STEPHEN HARPER : Oui, c’est une…évidemment c’est une question un peu plus pertinente pendant une récession que normalement.  On devrait suppose que la question est du Québec, et on devrait mentionner d’abord que la réglementation de la grande majorité des plans de pension privés au Canada sont des régimes réglés par des provinces et pas par le fédéral.  Mais nous avons un rôle aussi, et pendant la crise, notre ministre des Finances et son secrétaire parlementaire, Jim Flaherty et Ted Menzies, ont…ont en train de…ont été en train de consulter avec des intérêts à travers le pays pour examiner ces questions.  En automne nous avons introduit, en collaboration avec des provinces, des changements pour mieux protéger des plans de pension privés.  Nous avons changé de règles dans plusieurs cas pour nous adresser aux problèmes de faillite qui existent en ce moment.  Mais en général, on devrait comprendre que le régime des pensions privé et public au Canada est en général très, très fort, surtout en comparaison des situations dans des autres pays.  Et nous avons fait plusieurs améliorations au régime de pension pour mieux aider des aînés et des retraités, comme par exemple nous avons créé le Compte d’épargne libre d’impôt pour toute la population d’avoir un autre véhicule pour accumuler des épargnes pour leur retraite.  Nous avons créé, c’est une action très importante.  Nous avons créé le partage de revenu, la capacité des retraités de diviser leurs pensions avec leur épouse, leur époux, leur épouse pour baisser leurs taxes et pour avoir une retraite beaucoup plus sécuritaire.  Ce sont…et c’est seulement deux actions que nous avons faites.  Nous avons fait plusieurs actions et nos consultations continues, pas seulement avec la population et l’industrie en général, mais aussi avec les provinces, parce qu’on discute par exemple la possibilité des améliorations au régime de pension du Canada, et régime de pension du Québec, CPP, QPP, et…mais pour faire des changements majeurs à ces programmes, qui fonctionnent très bien en général, mais on doit avoir le consensus en effet (inaudible), parce que c’est un régime partagé.

PIERRE PICHETTE : Merci pour la réponse.  Notre prochaine question est aussi écrite. But it’s in English, so I’ll switch.  We’ll talk about the criminal justice system is featured prominently in the Throne Speech.  This question is from Chris in Waterloo, and he writes, “Since research has shown that mandatory minimum sentencing does not deter future crime, what makes you as the Prime Minister believe this is still an effective way of persecuting criminals?”

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, I think the view of the population of Canada on this issue is actually pretty clear, that when serious crimes are committed, people expect the penalties to match these crimes.  And obviously, you know, for 40 years our criminal justice system was going in a very different direction.  We were…you know, there are these arguments that told people somehow if you don’t punish criminals, that crime will go away.  I never quite understood the philosophy, but I think people understand that that approach has not been effective.  So we have been, since we’ve come into office, trying to make sure, trying to toughen up our laws and make sure that the crimes are appropriate.  You know, for example we think that if people commit serious crimes, violent crimes, we don’t think it’s appropriate that they would serve their sentence at home, what’s called conditional sentences, effectively house arrest.  We don’t think it’s…and we don’t think it’s appropriate that very serious or repeat crimes would not be subject to at least some kind of minimum penalty, minimum prison time.  I mean, surely if a crime is serious enough, a murder charge, for example, there should be some prison time for a murder charge.  So these are the kinds of changes we’ve been making over time.  They’ve been very well supported by the Canadian public.  I don’t want to say crime is out of control in this country, but we do know that there have been some very worrying growth areas, particularly if you look at the areas of guns, gangs and drugs, and this is a growth area, not just in Canada, but around the world.  It’s an international phenomenon.  But we do think it’s very important that the criminal justice system send a strong message that such behaviour is not acceptable, and that it be appropriately punished, and that those who engage in such behaviour understand what the likelihood of punishment actually is.  Because what we do know about deterrence is it doesn’t work unless people are actually certain they’re going to get punished.  But if you create a system where there’s always a loophole, and you can always get out of the punishment, or the punishment can always be downgraded or forgotten, then it’s clear, that kind of a system does not deter people.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Is not credible.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Is not credible.  It’s not credible. I think…I’m not an expert in this area, but I think the evidence suggests it isn’t the length of the punishment that matters; it’s the certainty of the punishment.  And if there’s no certainty you’ll be punished, then no possible penalty will matter.  So that’s why we think it’s important to actually have a minimum penalty for serious crimes.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Thank you for that answer.  Switch again.  Canadians have a lot on their mind, so another topic is childcare.  It’s been on the national agenda for some time, and the next question we’re going to watch on video this time, if you allow, Patrick M. from Toronto has a question, so let’s take a look, on childcare.

QUESTION: Hello Mr. Harper.  My name is Patrick (Inaudible) .  I’m a fourth-year student in Early Childhood Education at Ryerson University in Toronto.  I have one question to ask you: why aren’t you investing in a national childcare plan?  This social service is an essential part of family life in Canada.  Offering families $1200 a year for childcare doesn’t even make a dent in the actual cost of childcare, and that plan, to be quite frank, is an insult to any family that actually relies on it.  By having equal access to subsidized childcare, parents can actively join the workforce.  Currently there are 5 million children in Canada, and one third of those children have mothers who are working.  How can they join the rest of the workforce if they’re expected to raise their children at home?  How does that benefit our economy?  It doesn’t at all.  Every dollar you invest in childcare, there’s a $17 return.  I urge you read up on some of the articles presented by Michael Krashinsky and Gordon Cleveland.  They’re both professors at the University of Toronto in Scarborough, and they specialize in how to finance a national childcare plan.  Think of how this investment will sustain Canada in the future, so when we’re faced with a recession, we can actually take control and lead our way out of it.  Thank you.

PATRICK PICHETTE: So that was Patrick.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Yeah, well, obviously we have a very different approach, and I think our approach has been well received by Canadians.  First of all, Canadians want to make their own childcare decisions.  I think probably my own family was not a typical…we used a combination.  You know, sometimes we looked after the kids at home, sometimes we used, or part of the time we used a daycare.  We also used family members or we paid babysitters, so…and I think you’ll actually see that a lot of Canadians have a lot of different childcare needs.  There are a range of things we do in Canada to support the childcare choices of Canadians.  There’s a generous tax credit for actual…or tax deductions for actual childcare expenses.  There’s also the per-child tax credit that we created for all dependent children after we came to office, $2000 tax credit of 15 percent a year.  We also created of course the childcare payment that Patrick referred to, which gives parents more options.  Now, I should say that, you know, and there are some provinces that run actual childcare systems, which would obviously be the choice of those provinces, since this once again would be a provincial responsibility. But you know, we had a previous government that promised to create a national childcare system for many years.  They spent billions of dollars.  Canadian parents never saw any of that.  So we took that money, put it into direct support for Canadian parents so they can make their own childcare choices, and if they want to make the choices that Patrick would make, there are certainly those kinds of options available, but not everybody is seeking exactly those kinds of options.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Thank you.  Our next question comes from Crazyforyou79 in Saskatoon.  So Crazyforyou wrote: “University students are expected to pay back so much money, plus high interest, after furthering their education, when most do not start getting a liveable salary right after school.  Why is there not more assistance when it comes to student loan?”  So that’s Crazyforyou79.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, as you know, while the post-secondary education system is really primarily run by the provinces, we do have the Canada Student Loan program.  The federal government is very involved in giving student loans to our young people, and we’ve tried over the years to adjust the terms of those so that they take account of students’ financial circumstances as they come out of school.  And one of the things that is obviously a big concern to us over the past year is we know that younger people and new graduates have been particularly hard-hit in the recession.  That’s why we’ve introduced a number of specific programs in the last couple of years through the budgets to try and address those issues in particular, including, you know, things like expanding the Pathways program, increasing federal hiring of summer students to specifically work at federal government occupations, but you know, this remains, we continue dialogue with student organizations. The student loan program, I think, you know, relative to what you see elsewhere remains fairly generous in Canada.  I know a lot of student depend on it, and we want to make sure that this remains a viable and sustainable program, and we’ll continue to work with student organizations on how we can change it to make sure it responds to students’ actual economic and financial circumstances.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Thank you for that answer.  So we have a couple more questions, and then we’re done.  The second-last one, in French. Un autre sujet d’intérêt pour les Canadiens, Monsieur Olivier Pinard de Repentigny.  Monsieur Pinard vous demande, « Que pouvez-vous faire…ou pouvez-vous faire un nouveau référendum sur la souveraineté du Québec? »  Alors pouvez-vous faire, le fédéral, un nouveau référendum sur la souveraineté du Québec?

TR. HON. STEPHEN HARPER : Ah, je peux dire que c’est possible, mais ça ne…ça ne sera jamais un choix de notre gouvernement.  Je dirige un gouvernement tout à fait fédéraliste.  Les Québécois, les francophones, dès la fondation de la ville de Québec il y a plus de 400 ans maintenant par Samuel de Champlain, les Québécois, les francophones ont…ont un rôle primordial dans le développement du Canada.  Et notre gouvernement est très dévoué à l’unité de notre pays, comme je pense pas seulement la grande majorité des Québécois, mais la grande majorité de tous les Canadiens, et nous sommes ici pour assurer que le fédéralisme répond aux besoins de tous les Canadiens.  Nous sommes…c’est important de dire quelque chose.  Nous sommes dans une situation économique, une situation internationale de temps en temps avec beaucoup de danger.  Et nous habitons dans le pays le plus prospère, le plus pluraliste, le plus paisible que la planète ait déjà connu.  Et mon avis, c’est essentiel, c’est le devoir numéro un d’un gouvernement national de préserver notre unité et les grands bénéfices que nous avons tous et toutes par notre participation dans ce pays merveilleux.  Alors évidemment je suis un souverainiste canadien.  Et je n’ai pas l’intention de tenir un référendum sur une autre souveraineté.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Bien, merci pour cette réponse. The last question that we have today was the question that was passed with the most votes, and it’s about marijuana.


PATRICK PICHETTE: It was the question with the most votes, tackled the subject of marijuana.  And it is written as follows: “A majority of Canadians, when polled, say they believe marijuana should be legal for adults, just like alcohol. Why don’t you end the war on drugs and focus on violent criminals?”

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, it’s a good question.  I’m not sure I’ve seen this particular poll.  There are different polls on this subject that show different things, but you know, I have to say young children, I guess they’re now…Ben and Rachel are now getting pretty close to 14 and 11, but maybe they’re not that young, but they are at the age where, you know, they will increasingly come into contact with drug use, and I guess as a parent, you know, this is the last thing I want to see for my kids or anyone else’s children.  You know, I understand that people defend the use of drugs, but that said, I don’t think…I think I’ve been very fortunate to live a drug-free life, and I don’t meet many people who’ve led a drug-free life who regret it.  Met a lot of people who haven’t, who’ve regretted it.  So this is something that we want to encourage obviously for our children, for everybody’s children.  Now, I also want people to understand what we’re really talking about here when we’re talking about the drug trade.  You know, when people say focus on violent crime instead of drugs, and yeah, you know, there’s lots of crimes a lot worse than, you know, casual use of marijuana.  But when people are buying from the drug trade, they are not buying from their neighbour.  They are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence and intimidation and social disaster and catastrophe all across the world.  All across the world.  You know, and I just wish people would understand that, and not just on drugs.  Even when people buy, you know, an illegal carton of cigarettes and they avoid tax, that they really understand the kind of criminal networks that they are supporting, and the damage they do.  Now, you know, I know some people say if you just legalized it, you know, you’d get the money and all would be well.  But I think that rests on the assumption that somehow drugs are bad because they’re illegal.  The reason drugs…it’s not that.  The reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad.  And even if these things were legalized, I can predict with a lot of confidence that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people.  Because the very nature of the dependency they create, the damage they create, the social upheaval and catastrophe they create, particularly in third world countries…I mean, you look now, you look at Latin America, some of the countries to the south of us, and the damage the drug trade is doing, not just to people’s lives as drug users.  Look at the violence it’s creating in neighbourhoods, the destruction of social systems, of families, of governmental institutions, the corruption of police forces.  I mean, these are terrible, terrible organizations, and while I know people, you know, have different views, I must admit myself sometimes I’m frustrated by how little impact governments have been able to have on the drug trade internationally.  But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that if we somehow stopped trying to deal with it, it would suddenly turn into a nice, wholesome industry.  It will never be that.  And I think we all need to understand that, and we all need to make sure our kids understand, not just that our kids…hopefully not just understand the damage drugs can do to them, but they understand as well the wider social disaster they are contributing to if they, through use of their money, fund organizations that produce and deliver elicit narcotics.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Thank you for this thoughtful answer.  It was a great opportunity for Canadians to reach out to you, to people to vote to tell you what’s on their mind.  You see a broad spectrum of questions that really reflect what’s on the mind of Canadians.  Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.  It was a real pleasure for us as well at Google to be able to facilitate this.  Thank you again for your time.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, thanks for having me, Patrick, and I appreciate the opportunity and the variety of the questions.

Merci beaucoup. À la prochaine.

PATRICK PICHETTE: Ça m’a fait vraiment plaisir.  À bientôt.


The Internet, now on computers

  1. What poor sod in the PMO had to transcribe that one?

    • Actually, you'll be pleased to know that they probably used your tax dollars to hire a media transcription company, at a premium "rush" rate, so that you, too, could share in the eternal wisdom of our Prime Minister.

    • I'll guess – Owen Lippert.

      But don't worry for him, he has a sole-sourced contract that is just under the $25,00.00 limit before it has to go to tender.

  2. "never be respectable businesses run by respectable people". Wow, what a sad human being.
    I assume he means by association the whole pharmaceutical industry then, because they are after all, drugs, that people come to depend on. I doubt there is a valid argument for having alcohol legal and marijuana not. Drugs are dangerous, sure, but making them illegal does not make our society safer, and i reason it makes it worse.
    Also, in the context he mentioned it's difficult to regret something you never experienced. It's very easy to regret something you experienced. There are also those who don't regret what they experienced. These people should not be so easily discounted.

    • There are actually a couple valid arguments for alchohol legal and marijuana not.

      The first is that I don't get drunk if you're drinking in the same room with me unless I want to.
      The second is that there isn't any correlation between a single drink of alchohol causing permanent, serious nervous disorders. There *is* such a correlation with marijuana. Now I'll admit, the correlation, as much as is known about it, only seems to happen to a small subset of people, and because the stuff isn't legal, there hasn't been a lot of research done to see if there's any causal link or if there's some common cause (some have suggested, for instance, that people who might tend toward nervous disorders might also tend toward using marijuana as an attempt to control the symptoms.. something I'll agree is certainly plausible).

      Those two reasons suggest that if we proceed with the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, we do it slowly.

      • If those two reasons are why one would defend existing marijuana laws, by the same logic of second hand smoke and health effects to the user, one must also believe that tobacco should be illegal, no?

        • And I do. What's your point?

      • "The first is that I don't get drunk if you're drinking in the same room with me unless I want to."

        You hate eating brownies?

        • If you think legislation that restricted it's use to non-smoked form could be effective, I think that'd probably take away most of my reservations. Even the correlation argument becomes weaker when marijuana use is confined to a form where it must be voluntarily consumed.

          That said, I have serious doubts that any such legislation would be at all effective. Most people's intake method of choice seems to be smoking it. If available at all, I think stopping people from smoking it would be an enforcement nightmare if at all possible.

    • During prohibition, I'd guess rum runners were a very disreputable business. And certainly, with the end of prohibition, alcohol sales remain a very disreputable industry to this very day, right? Right? </sarcasm>

  3. First of all, this, you know, this issue has been bandied around now for nearly four years. And yet we have no evidence that Canadian soldiers have done anything wrong. There's no evidence that they have been abusing detainees or that they've been complicit in the abuse of detainees. There's just no evidence of this at all. So you know, I think that our men and women in uniform and other public servants, you know, before they're accused of something, they have a right to know there's some evidence of it, and there is no evidence

    Well, I certainly feel a lot better about defying the majority will of Parliament now…..

    His words have all the authenticity of Jerry Lundegaard selling "Trucoat" to the hapless car buyers couple in the Coen Bros movie Fargo

    • Agreed. Sadly up to the PM's now typical standard: grossly misleading.

      The third and fourth sentences, both beginning with "There's no… evidence…" are rather stronger than the others I recall this government making to date. Interesting. Perhaps I'm parsing too finely, but the PM must be feeling pretty confident that either no such evidence exists or, if it does, that it will never see the light of day. One the other hand, saying there is "no evidence" is well short of an absolute denial, so the pattern of misdirection persists.

      • It's a red herring. He's diverting attention from intelligence and special forces. According to sources in today's NYT, “In most of the cases of civilian casualties, special forces are involved," and they "operate with little or no accountability."… If that's true of US special forces, it's probably true of ours, too. They're trained by the same people, and they identify with and are loyal to one another before anyone or anything else. Now, after the exposure of multiple atrocities committed during the last couple of months, McChrystal is supposedly 'reining' his in. Good luck with that.

        • Glad to know that you have complete and perfect insight in the selection, training and employment of our Special Operations Force.

    • It has been going on for years. It has been a process all along in and out of the warzone. Does anyone really believe that solutions to the detainee problem could have been solved in an instant? Get real. It is a process, and the PM clearly indicated that throughout the process improvements have and will be made. What else do we expect from our troops, commanders, politicians and international players? What exactly do we expect?

      • Does anyone really believe that solutions to the detainee problem could have been solved in an instant?

        Nope, not me. And most comments that I read aren't suggesting that there could be or should have been instant solutions, even when those comments go on to express concerns about the detainee 'issue'.

        What exactly do we expect?

        In this case I believe that we expect the PM to answer the question, which was "Why is the government not more open about the Afghan detainee issue?"

        • Why is the government (this one and the last one!) not more open about the Afghan detainee issue: see my post above.

          If you are able to reconstruct the entire going-ons during that war, you might be a genius. And don't forget, one cannot just start digging at some point choosen arbitrarily.That won't cut the muster. It is a complete process from day one. Please don't start picking and choosing.

    • What he's saying is the exact truth, so long as you're being pedantic.

      What he's leaving out is that we were working under an agreement where we were handing them over while quite possibly knowing that doing so would result in them being abused. Were our troops complict? Hell no, the definition of complicit is that an individual is complicit in a crime if he is aware of its occurrence, has the ability to report the crime, but fails to do so. But our troops were reporting it.

      The complicity with the abuse lies with our government, not our Troops. Harper is trying to hide his cowardly little behind behind them.

      • Agreed

        • Yes indeed.

  4. people do not have to agree with the Prime Minister's opinion. He states his opinion and such opinion was sent out directly to the people. I think he did very well, sounded most reasonable. I rather hear answers from Harper himself than hearing it from third parties.

    His answer to the drug problem was somewhat of a surprise to me. Generally speaking I do think that the drug trade being illegal creates this atmosphere of criminality, the drug cartells etc which might be elimimnated somewhat by making particular drugs legal.

    But Harper's answer must be taken into consideration. What I think he was saying is that the drug trade by it's very nature of supplying mind altering substance, will never be able to shed its criminal aspect.

    Such answer must be taken into consideration, for it might very well be reality based.

    Harper should do more interviews like this one.

    • Prohibition, and what happened to it, refutes his opinion as you lay it out.

      • Alcohol is not addictive in the way that most illegal drugs are. A person who drinks a few glasses of wine or several cans of beer, each week can if they choose stop drinking without any severe adverse effects in a way that someone using, for example, heroin cannot. Making hard drugs legal would not make them any less dangerous, or any less profitable to criminals who can exert control extremely effectively over people who are addicted.

        The case of marajuana is not as clear cut, and it might be different. My primary reservation about it is that it's heavily carcinogenic – something like 100X more than cigarettes. We haven't banned cigarettes because it's not really practicable and they were already legal by the time we understood their health consequences, but it's a mistake I'd rather not repeat – particularly as there's nothing whatsoever to prevent the current cigarette companies from branching out into marajuana pretty fast and doing even greater damage. Besides which, extensive anti-smoking campaigns have managed to attach a strong stigma to cigarettes and discourage their use, whereas marajuana completely lacks that connotation and is viewed as cool. I don't see why we should make the same mistake twice.

        • Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm definitely not on the side of legalizing marijuana. I'm just pointing out that Harper's answer, as FV is parsing it, doesn't hold based on the evidence.

          • More interviews like this? No doubt his interest in keeping as far away from real people, where follow-up questions and unpredictable and unrehearsed responses can't be controlled. This was an innovative gimmick from a gimmick PM. It was to create a 'in-touch' meme when as we saw with prorogation and the limp budget that followed, governing is a matter of autopilot for this so-called leader. The fiscal sound foundation established by previous governments remains his only salvation, and unfortunately the 'liquored up on canada action plan ads' media refuses to pry as to why and what he has planned down the road.

          • I think you might be proven wrong. Harper's personal appeal could be rated much higher if people will have the chance to listen to him directly. Listen to what he says. That doesn't mean you have to agree with what he says, but at least be open enough to listen to it. Not all of his ideas or method of implementation are bad. Not all of them are good. But you know, perfection really doesn't exist in the doses you would like to see it administrared. You see, complete perfection does not exist.

          • Thwim, you have a valid point. There is a very murky line to be drawn between the use of alcohol and soft drugs.
            Like I said, Harper's answer on the pot issue surprised me in a way, because I had never really approached the issue from that angle.

            And so now we are discussing it. That's a good thing

            I will add that it is pretty difficult to find stronger alcohol once one has gone through the various assortments out there, whereas a start-off with soft drugs could lead to hard drugs or chemical drugs such as crystal meth. I am not saying it would be an automatic switch but the possibility is there, whereas with alcohol, it pretty well has bottomed out in strenght I mean.

            One other difference of note: personally I can most often tell when someone is drunk but I can very rarely assess if someone is stoned. That might be an overal concern too between the two substances.

          • "I will add that it is pretty difficult to find stronger alcohol once one has gone through the various assortments out there, whereas a start-off with soft drugs could lead to hard drugs or chemical drugs such as crystal meth".

            I'm sorry, but that's just an idiotic thing to say.

            So, you can see someone starting with pot and moving on to crystal meth, but you figure someone who starts with scotch will only ever stick with scotch because you can't get harder alcohol??? The "gateway drug" argument is ludicrous. If marijuana is a gateway drug then, by extension, milk is a gateway drug. Ask almost any heroine user and they'll tell you, before they ever used heroine they drank milk.

            The notion that I could move from smoking pot to shooting up heroine, but that somehow it's simultaneously unlikely that someone could go from drinking vodka to shooting heroine in pretty much the same way is ludicrous unless you believe that people who smoke drugs will only ever smoke drugs, and people who drink drugs will only ever drink drugs. This premise is based on separating "drugs" and "alcohol" into two separate categories that somehow can't overlap, and it makes no sense to me. The notion that a drinker of alcohol is somehow "stuck" once they get to a level around 40%, and therefore it's somehow safer, but that there's some natural progression from smoking pot to smoking crystal meth is just inane.

            As I implied above, the real gateway drug is milk. Studies conclusively show that almost everyone who's ever become addicted to hard drugs drank milk at some point in their life before moving on to hard drugs. This is why we need to carefully regulate the sale and use of milk, lest people be tempted to move on to the harder stuff.

          • I will add that it is pretty difficult to find stronger alcohol once one has gone through the various assortments out there, whereas a start-off with soft drugs could lead to hard drugs or chemical drugs such as crystal meth.

            Alcohol and tobacco are usually the initial gateway drugs. Not to mention Baby-Aspirin, Buckley's and Neo-Citran. All are intended as mood altering pharmaceuticals.

        • These are points bout why you personally might not choose to drink alcohol rather than smoke marijuana, and what dose you might choose to take, but a very weak argument about why one should be legal and the other not. You can't compare overuse of one with heavy use of the other. Alcohol is also linked with cancer, but the social devastation related to it is so profound we barely notice.

          • You are right: alcohol has it problems,to be sure.____But now let's suppose we will legalize the production of pot, in fields regulated by the government, just like the growing of barley and hops leads to the production of alcohol. Would you seriously think that the growing of pot plants will be regulated in other countries? Do you think that internationally speaking, our national initiative will change the going ons in the world? But that is the aspect Harper was pointing to, wasn't he?____And then we havent talked about the hard drugs and those cartell's involvements. That is the issue the PM raised

          • Why do we need to change the goings on in the rest of the world? If we can get our pot from legal and safe sources without funding criminals, what's it to us if other people in other countries still get their pot from international criminal cartels in Mexico and Afghanistan? Are you suggesting that eliminating the illegal marijuana trade in Canada isn't worth doing if we can't also eliminate the illegal drug trade EVERYWHERE?

            As for myself, I may be technically supporting "criminals" when I buy pot, but I'm hardly supporting some international criminal conspiracy. My pot's all grown in Canada, by Canadians, mostly by people who's only crime is growing and selling pot. If anyone in Canada is still buying their weed from the Taliban, or the Medellín Cartel I'd be surprised, and I'm sure they'd be willing to switch when they learn how easy buying local is (it's incredibly easy… if you have to ask more than 10 random Canadians if they can get you some locally grown pot before finding someone who can, I'd be SHOCKED!!!!). We're not a net importer of pot, we're an exporter. Put harsh penalties on those who attempt to illegally export their pot to the U.S., and let the thousands of Canadians who grow pot stop hiding in the shadows. The real criminal involvement in the trafficking of marijuana would disappear pretty much OVERNIGHT if pot were legalized. People didn't buy their booze from Capone because they liked dealing with criminals, they bought their booze from Capone because only he had the booze. The difference with pot is that there are already plenty of places you can get it in Canada that aren't linked to "organized crime" in any way REMOTELY similar to Al Capone's gang.

            Now, harder drugs? Let's have a debate. I can still get solidly behind our prohibition against heroine and crystal meth. Keeping the possession of marijuana as a criminal offense though is just asinine, imho.

          • I am overall supportive of legalisation of the entire process regarding marijuana – legal, regulated, and taxed grow ops would quickly displace the existing ones with ties to gangs/organised crime depriving said groups of a source of revenue. And as long as public smoking bans that apply to tobacco are extended to marijuana i don't really have a problem.

            But… we do need to pay attention to international consequences. Most specifically to our south. If it's legal to grow it up here, and our southern neighbours didn't agree with our stance, it might create a new smuggling issue as growers would be able to do so up here legally, and then people could try to smuggle it south creating a nightmare for the border patrol.

            All the same, it's good that it's being discussed.

  5. 'Canadian soldiers' and 'our men and women in uniform' neatly evades CSIS and JTF2.

    • CSIS are civies but JTF2 are forced.


      • Sorry, not sure what you're saying. If you mean JTF2 are Canadian Forces, that's true. But they're not called 'soldiers', and, when operating, they don't wear uniforms.

        • JTF2 soldiers are indeed called 'soldiers'. Google it.

          • I'm pretty sure they wear uniforms too.

    • More importantly, it also doesn't include our government.

  6. We expect scumbag politicians to blame the troops for their own cowardice and failure to act honourably and decently. Oh yes, we do indeed, and that is what we get.

    • I don't get your point, that is if you were trying to make a point.

      • I'm sorry you have trouble comprehending that. Harper the coward protects himself by smearing the troops. The detainee issue is not about the troops, it is about Harper and his ministers knowing that prisoners were probably being handed over to be tortured, and failing to take timely steps to change this, and then covering it up and perhaps lying to Canadians about it, and refusing to produce documents which may show their complicity.

        Now it is also about Harper being in contempt of Parliament. Parliament ordered him to produce the documents and he has not done so. He is attempting to destroy our democratic government, and the feeble opposition are allowing him to get away with it.

        • Well, Holly, we might have to agree to disagree on this. We obviously see things differently. I'm ok with that.

  7. Why did this have to go live (with the attendant screw ups)? Why couldn't they just pre-record just like the questions?


    • I read somewhere that it was pre-recorded in the afternoon. Hint; one of them said "Good afternoon."

      • I thought that was for the benefit of the int'l press.

        So, the hype and blogging parties were the equivalent of lining up for hours for the latest Harry Potter movie debut.

        • As an added bonus, does this mean we've heard the last about Dion's "Late and Fuzzy" show?

          • I'm afraid. not. That one is destined to live in infamy.

          • Fair enough…though if he had the geniuses at Google helping him, would it have been worse, or better?

          • If he'd had geniuses anywhere helping him it would have been better. Heck, if he was assisted by a Future Shop employee, or a cut-rate porn producer, the end result still would have been much better.

            Unfortunately, all he had available to him was his crack team of Liberal helpers. Their staggering incompetence, combined with his own, created a "perfect storm" of incompetence that caused one of the most memorable communications FUBARs in the history of Canadian politics.

          • I guess we have found something to appreciate in Dion's video address. I for one very much appreciate that he had a production team that kept him fully clothed.

  8. Not sure what the hype was… the PM posted a YouTube video….what 15 year old hasn't? This wasn't live it was a canned interview……big deal.

  9. Was there a question he actually answered? It appeared to me that he discredited the question without explanation and then went on with typical CPC talking points, that or discredited scientific research based on his own anecdotal evidence.

  10. Ugh, that was a waste to read through…

    I'm somewhat impressed – he took questions that I didn't think he would. And he actually answered most of them.

    But those answers were so utterly poor, it's distressing. Much of it was denial. Basically, Harper's saying that everything's either fine or going to be fine without much change. I'm sorry – if the Conservatives have a different way of dealing with the country's problems than the methods I support, I can accept that. But if they're not even going to try to handle them, that's completely unacceptable.

    We have, at a sheer minimum, a medium term structural deficit. We still get half the oil used in this country from the Middle East. Child care issues have not been resolved. Carbon emissions are still increasing. Our manufacturing industry is being decimated with little to replace it. Whether good or bad, marijuana is still funding hard criminals off the cash of people who are criminals by arbitrary legality only, not because of any real harm to themselves or others. We still lack a clear direction in Afghanistan, in addition to the unresolved controversy about transferred detainees. And most importantly, we are coming up to a massive demographic bubble that will put enormous pressure on provincial and federal budgets, strain our social services and put an undeniable drag on our entire economy – depending on your definition, the first baby boomers have just started retiring.

    It doesn't matter what Harper's political views are, or anyone else's for that matter. One way or another, this #($& needs to be dealt with. If Harper doesn't want to do it, he should stand aside and let someone else at it.

    • Hear hear, very well said.

      It's dismal to compare the suavity with which the PM avoids giving serious answers to serious questions with the frankness that used to characterise his speeches. What a lot has been sacrificed to attain that third straight minority.

    • You forget.. the underlying philosophy of Harper is that government is incompetent and can't do anything, and what it tries to do it only screws up.

      It's not that he doesn't want to do it, but I think he actually believes that *not* doing anything about it is the best course of action because if the government tries to do something about it it'll only get worse. The sad part is, with this particular government.. he's right.

      • All this credit he's currently trying to cash in, aka the action plan that includes 3-year-old tax credits for skating lessons etc, would suggest you are only partially right. But in the end, the conclusion that Harper's government is lame remains 100 percent provable.

      • I know the Harper logic, but gah, this is frustrating – whether Harper is doing anything or not, the government is still doing things, it's now just doing them the way it did things in 2005 or earlier, rather than adapting for the situation today.

        The government can't do anything right, but let's let the government keep working the way it did under our predecessors who were apparently incompetent? If the government isn't doing things right, fix it, and if you don't think you can, dismantle it.

        I need a drink… yay St. Paddy's Day.

  11. I agree with the evidence. For example:

    "…Canada and its allies have repeatedly promised – and failed – to build a new prison in Afghanistan where transferred detainees could be interned without risk of abuse, torture or ill-treatment…"

    • So, according to the globe webpage, the evidence is what:

      – that the Dutch, British and Canadian military sometimes agreed
      – that the Dutch, British and Canadian military sometimes disagreed
      – that the Dutch, British and Canadian military tried to form a common front for not trying to insult Afghan independence
      – that the Canadians didn;t seek follow-up inspection on certain occasions but did so on other occasions
      – that promises of constructin and handing over a newly build detention centre would take time, perhaps could be delayed for so far unknown reasons

    • Holly, You miss the part where the Afghan govt threatened to shut down inspections because it infringed on Afghan SOVEREIGNTY,
      Canadian Forces/Govt have no rights in Afghanistan,
      except those permitted by the Afghan Govt.

      ''…The NDS chief also complained bitterly to Canada, Britain and the Netherlands that their follow-up inspections aimed at making sure prisoners weren't being transferred to torture – an international war crime – were creating problems in the prisons. Unexpected and multiple inspection visits were unwelcome, he wrote, and infringed on Afghan sovereignty.

      Mr. Saleh threatened to cut-off inspections and – apparently seeking to appease the NDS chief – the three countries agreed to only conduct joint visits with plenty of advance notice and limit them to once a month at most….''

    • You both missed this: "…“The NDS tortures people – that's what they do – and if we don't want our detainees tortured, we shouldn't give them to the NDS,” Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin had warned in early 2007…"

      And remember a few months back when Stephen Harper and Peter McKay were lying that they knew nothing about torture?

      Remember this? "…The Dutch were concerned enough to report immediately any handover to the local Red Cross officials. Britain acted within 24 hours.
      But Canada? In stark contrast it created what the whistle-blowing Colvin calls "a very peculiar six-step process."…"

    • Holly, You miss the part where the Afghan govt threatened to shut down inspections because it infringed on Afghan SOVEREIGNTY,
      Canadian Forces/Govt have no rights in Afghanistan,
      except those permitted by the Afghan Govt.

      ''…The NDS chief also complained bitterly to Canada, Britain and the Netherlands that their follow-up inspections aimed at making sure prisoners weren't being transferred to torture – an international war crime – were creating problems in the prisons. Unexpected and multiple inspection visits were unwelcome, he wrote, and infringed on Afghan sovereignty.

      Mr. Saleh threatened to cut-off inspections and – apparently seeking to appease the NDS chief – the three countries agreed to only conduct joint visits with plenty of advance notice and limit them to once a month at most….''

  12. The Netherlands in fact have pretty lacks rules about growing pot, a few plants, by individuals, but that particular country is still struggling to deal with it's pot/drug problem in an effective way.