Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Friday, October 07, 2011

Non-stop train ‘barrelling down’ on wheat board, Harper declares

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a message for all the critics of his government’s plan to end the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board: Get over it.

Mr. Harper was in Regina Friday to celebrate the announced construction of a $50-million pasta plant by Alliance Grain Traders Inc., one of the largest pasta companies in the world. With the dismantling of the wheat board, farmers will be able to sell their wheat directly to the company.

“It’s time for the wheat board and others who have been standing in the way to realize that this train is barrelling down a prairie track,” the Prime Minister said.

“You’re much better to get on it than to lie on the tracks because this is going ahead. It’s time for the wheat board to go out in a dual marketing environment, to cultivate its customers and provide a competitive service because those customers are going to have choice in the future.”

In foreign policy speech, Romney says God supports American dominance in world affairs

CHARLESTON, S.C.—Mitt Romney, the leading Republican presidential candidate, is calling for a century of American dominance in his first major foreign policy address, outlining plans to strengthen the U.S. military while rejecting multilateral institutions like the United Nations when necessary.

The former Massachusetts governor also condemns the isolationist policies supported by some conservative tea party members in a speech to be delivered Friday at The Citadel, an iconic military college in South Carolina. It comes as Romney has jumped back into the lead in national polling following Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s disappointing performances in political debates.

The location of the speech, in the early primary voting state of South Carolina, is no coincidence.

Next year’s election is likely to be dominated by domestic issues, especially the weak U.S. economic recovery from the Great Recession that has left millions of Americans without jobs. And while President Barack Obama may be vulnerable to criticism about the economy, he has considerably more foreign policy experience than Romney and most other Republicans in the 2012 election field.

Leafy letdown

City’s tree canopy goal falls to Ford’s axe

When Rob Ford took office, the nightmare scenario was that he would leave four years later having done so much damage that the city would take years to recover.[briebreak]

Only 10 months into his rule, suddenly our leafy canopy is in the balance. Lost in the budget debates that saved libraries and late-night buses was a significant council decision to stall the urban forest plan so passionately promoted by the former regime. And now the self-?styled “city within a park” may become a bit more city and a lot less park.

On recommendations from KPMG, the ambitious goal to double Toronto’s tree cover by 2050 has been put off. While the Urban Forestry department is expected to present a revised timetable before the end of the year, the inevitable result of council’s decision is not only that fewer trees will be planted in parks and on streets, but the cash for maintenance will also dwindle, meaning fewer trees will survive.

Couple that with the invasion of the emerald ash borer – LEAF estimates that the city will lose nearly all of its 860,000 ash trees, 8.4 per cent of the entire canopy, by 2017 – and we may not see significant growth in the urban forest for at least a decade.

Ban Birth Control? They Wouldn't Dare...

First they came for abortion, but I didn’t care because abortion was for sluts. Then they came for sex ed, but I didn’t care because the kids can learn all they need to know at home. Then they came for birth control, but… Wait a minute! Birth control? They’re coming for birth control? I need that! For nearly a decade prochoicers have been warning that abortion foes were gearing up to go after contraception, but the possibility of losing birth control was too far-out for most people to take seriously. And you know prochoicers—they’re always crying wolf. Well, wake up, sleepyheads, it’s happening.

After the Senate rejected a House attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, Republican Representative Cliff Stearns, chair of the energy and commerce subcommittee, demanded that PP turn over reams of documents going back twenty years. The official purpose was to see if PP’s abortion services, which cannot receive federal funds, are sufficiently segregated from its contraceptive and other health services, which do receive federal dollars. Since Republicans believe this separation is impossible—money is fungible, and all that, except when it goes to a church for supposedly nonsectarian social services—who knows what Stearns and Co. will decide counts as evidence?

Meanwhile, House Republicans continue their attempts to ban federal support for PP, this time through a draft bill on agency funding that would also completely defund Title X, the government’s main family-planning program. Title X, which provides family planning services to more than 5 million mostly low-income people each year, has nothing to do with abortion, which kind of proves that the “fungibility” issue is just a fig leaf. (Bill supporter and Tea Party Caucus member Denny Rehberg, a Montana Republican who opposes raising taxes on the wealthy—did I mention that he’s the twenty-fourth-richest member of Congress?—claims that zeroing out birth control funds for poor women is necessary to lower the deficit. Because what could be cheaper than babies?)

Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now

I was honored to be invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street on Thursday night. Since amplification is (disgracefully) banned, and everything I say will have to be repeated by hundreds of people so others can hear (a k a “the human microphone”), what I actually say at Liberty Plaza will have to be very short. With that in mind, here is the longer, uncut version of the speech.

I love you.

And I didn’t just say that so that hundreds of you would shout “I love you” back, though that is obviously a bonus feature of the human microphone. Say unto others what you would have them say unto you, only way louder.

Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: “We found each other.” That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can’t be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful.

If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 percent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over.

And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it’s a very big thing: the 99 percent. And that 99 percent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say “No. We will not pay for your crisis.”

That slogan began in Italy in 2008. It ricocheted to Greece and France and Ireland and finally it has made its way to the square mile where the crisis began.

“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” “We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up.” And most of all: “Welcome.”

Many people have drawn parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the so-called anti-globalization protests that came to world attention in Seattle in 1999. That was the last time a global, youth-led, decentralized movement took direct aim at corporate power. And I am proud to have been part of what we called “the movement of movements.”

But there are important differences too. For instance, we chose summits as our targets: the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the G8. Summits are transient by their nature, they only last a week. That made us transient too. We’d appear, grab world headlines, then disappear. And in the frenzy of hyper patriotism and militarism that followed the 9/11 attacks, it was easy to sweep us away completely, at least in North America.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away.

Being horizontal and deeply democratic is wonderful. But these principles are compatible with the hard work of building structures and institutions that are sturdy enough to weather the storms ahead. I have great faith that this will happen.

Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom.

But the biggest difference a decade makes is that in 1999, we were taking on capitalism at the peak of a frenzied economic boom. Unemployment was low, stock portfolios were bulging. The media was drunk on easy money. Back then it was all about start-ups, not shutdowns.

We pointed out that the deregulation behind the frenzy came at a price. It was damaging to labor standards. It was damaging to environmental standards. Corporations were becoming more powerful than governments and that was damaging to our democracies. But to be honest with you, while the good times rolled, taking on an economic system based on greed was a tough sell, at least in rich countries.

Ten years later, it seems as if there aren’t any more rich countries. Just a whole lot of rich people. People who got rich looting the public wealth and exhausting natural resources around the world.

The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.

These are the facts on the ground. They are so blatant, so obvious, that it is a lot easier to connect with the public than it was in 1999, and to build the movement quickly.

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society—while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline. This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I’m not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that’s important.

I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and proving health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says, “I care about you.” In a culture that trains people to avoid each other’s gaze, to say, “Let them die,” that is a deeply radical statement.

A few final thoughts. In this great struggle, here are some things that don’t matter.

 - What we wear.

 - Whether we shake our fists or make peace signs.

 - Whether we can fit our dreams for a better world into a media soundbite.

And here are a few things that do matter.

 - Our courage.

 - Our moral compass.

 - How we treat each other.

We have picked a fight with the most powerful economic and political forces on the planet. That’s frightening. And as this movement grows from strength to strength, it will get more frightening. Always be aware that there will be a temptation to shift to smaller targets—like, say, the person sitting next to you at this meeting. After all, that is a battle that’s easier to win.

Don’t give in to the temptation. I’m not saying don’t call each other on shit. But this time, let’s treat each other as if we plan to work side by side in struggle for many, many years to come. Because the task before will demand nothing less.

Let’s treat this beautiful movement as if it is most important thing in the world. Because it is. It really is.

Source: the Nation 

Occupy Wall Street Spreads Beyond NYC

It's now been three weeks since the "Occupy Wall Street" protests began in New York City's Financial District, and the movement has grown, spreading to other cities in the U.S. Protesters have organized marches, rallies, and "occupations" from Boston to Boise, Los Angeles to New Orleans, Seattle to Tampa. Using social media, handmade signs, and their voices, they are voicing anger at financial and social inequality and protesting the influence of corporate money in politics. Seattle police recently arrested 25 protesters camping out in Westlake Park, following on the heels of 700 arrests on New York's Brooklyn Bridge last week. Collected here are a some of the scenes from these protests across the U.S. over the past week, as the movement moves forward with no signs of slowing.

Source: the Atlantic 

Rick Perry Values Voters Speech Knocks Mitt Romney On Abortion, Backer Calls Mormonism A 'Cult'

WASHINGTON -- Rick Perry opened a new front in the 2012 Republican presidential primary on Friday, implicitly questioning Mitt Romney’s pro-life authenticity in a speech to a few thousand socially conservative voters in the nation’s capital.

The issue of Romney’s Mormon faith was also raised by a Texas pastor who suggested during his introduction of Perry that Mormons are not Christians, and then made the assertion explicitly to reporters after Perry’s speech.

Perry did not touch on Romney’s religion. He did not even mention Romney’s name, but openly went after the former Massachusetts governor for his past flip-flops on the abortion issue.

"For some candidates, pro-life is an election year slogan to follow the prevailing political winds. For me, it's about the absolute principle that every human being is entitled to life," Perry said, addressing the Values Voters Summit in the speaking slot just after lunch.

One of the loudest ovations during Perry's speech came at the mention of his decision to defund Planned Parenthood in Texas.

Michele Bachmann Courts Evangelicals As Campaign Falters

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Michele Bachmann surged into the Republican presidential race by preaching tea party fiscal conservatism. Now, as she struggles to remain relevant, the Minnesota congresswoman is trying to rally the evangelical voters who have powered most of her political career.

"Don't settle," has become Bachmann's pitch as she tells Christian conservatives they shouldn't accept a Republican nominee who isn't fully dedicated to their priorities.

It's likely to be her message when she speaks Friday night to activists gathered at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, a who's who of social conservatives who lead the constituencies Bachmann needs to court. She won't have the stage alone; the other Republican presidential candidates conservatives favor are scheduled to speak earlier in the day.

Bachmann reached the high point of her campaign seven weeks ago when she won a test vote of Iowa Republicans. But as Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race, Bachmann dropped in polls, replaced her top campaign staff and struggled to raise money. And even as Republicans have grown wary of Perry, polls show that it's businessman Herman Cain who's rising from Perry's slide – not Bachmann.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Honors the Late Civil Rights Stalwarts Fred Shuttlesworth and Derrick Bell

This week, the Civil Rights movement lost two of its torch-bearers. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth died at the age 89 and Derrick Bell died at the age of 80. Rev. Shuttlesworth led the struggle to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. He was the last of the civil rights movement’s "Big Three," founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference along with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy. A legal scholar and civil rights activist, Derrick Bell sought to expose American racism through his books, articles and career sacrifices. As the first tenured black professor at Harvard Law School, Bell gave up his position in protest of the school’s allegedly discriminatory hiring practice. For more on the lives and legacies of Fred Shuttlesworth and Derrick Bell, we’re joined by Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

Source: Democracy Now! 

Eric Cantor Condemns Occupy Wall Street 'Mobs': They're 'Pitting Americans Against Americans'

WASHINGTON -- Top House GOP leaders assured attendees at the 2011 Values Voter Summit Friday morning that despite all the attention on fixing the nation's economy, they remain committed to pushing the priorities of social conservatives, including defunding Planned Parenthood and defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) addressed the gathering of religious conservatives in Washington, D.C., where several of the GOP presidential candidates will also be speaking.

Cantor used part of his address to attack the Occupy Wall Street protests, and he condemned political leaders who are supporting them.

"This administration's failed policies have resulted in an assault on many of our nation's bedrock principles," he said. "If you read the newspapers today, I, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country. And believe it or not, some in this town, have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans. But you sent us here to fight for you and all Americans."

Robert Shapiro, IMF Advisor, Warns Of Europe-Fueled Economic Meltdown Within Weeks

If European leaders can't hammer out a solution to the continent's runaway credit crisis, the world's economy will face a collapse larger than the one in 2008, a prominent IMF advisor says.

"If they can not address this in a credible way I believe within perhaps two to three weeks we will have a meltdown in sovereign debt which will produce a meltdown across the European banking system," Robert Shapiro, chairms of financial consultancy Sonecon, told BBC News on Thursday in a video first flagged by Zero Hedge.

Shapiro's comments come as the governor of the Bank of England declared that the world may be in the midst of the worst financial crisis in history, and billionaire investor George Soros compared the developed world's economies to that of the Soviet Union before its collapse -- a string of negativity that reflects an increasingly dire global economic situation.

"We're not just talking about a relatively small Belgian bank, we are talking about the largest banks in the world," Shapiro told the BBC, "the largest banks in Germany, the largest banks in France, that will spread to the United Kingdom in part through sovereign debt problems in Ireland, it will spread everywhere because the global financial system is so interconnected. All those banks are counterparties to every significant bank in the United States, and in Britain, and in Japan, and around the world."

General defends himself, MacKay against ‘frustrating’ VIP-flight flak

Canada’s top soldier has written a message to the troops defending his and Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s use of executive VIP jets, criticizing media coverage of the flights as “sensational” and “misguided.”

Both Chief of the Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk and Mr. MacKay came under fire after recent stories about their use of Ottawa’s special Challenger jets.

The reports also left players in the Harper government and military wondering whether each side had played a role in getting the Challenger flight stories into the press.

General Natynczyk emailed a special message on the jets to soldiers Thursday, accusing Canadian journalists of having “clouded the facts as I see them.”

The senior commander explained in the note that he wasn’t writing to protect himself – but because he was upset at what he considered unfair criticism of Mr. MacKay.

“As a public figure, I expect and welcome scrutiny, and stand prepared to be held accountable for my decisions,” the general wrote.

Tory Crime Bill: Budget Officer Slams Conservative's Cost Estimate

OTTAWA - Parliament's independent budget officer is accusing the federal government of "total obfuscation" on the financial hit provinces will take from new criminal justice measures.

Kevin Page says a two-page cost summary released Thursday by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews doesn't serve the needs of parliamentarians or the Canadian public.

The Conservatives say their massive new crime bill, which includes nine separate pieces of legislation, will cost $78.5 million over five years, part of bigger justice agenda the government says will cost $2.7 billion.

But Page, who has been asked by the Opposition parties to cost out the bill by mid-November, told The Canadian Press the government estimate includes no methodology, no supporting information and no provincial costs.

Nor can Page find the $2.7 billion expenditure listed in any federal budget of the past two years.

Creepy Wildrose attack ads set the tone as Alison Redford prepares to be sworn in as Alberta premier

Honeymoon? What honeymoon?

Alison Redford was elected leader of Alberta's governing Progressive Conservative Party in a vote announced in the wee hours of Sunday morning. She hasn't even been sworn in as premier and everyone is piling on and screeching like banshees.

Just a thought, but rank and file Albertans may want to give Redford a few days to get her transition under way in an orderly fashion, and to drop a couple of hints about what her policy plans may actually be, before we all light our hair on fire.

The National Citizens Coalition, a loony-right Toronto-based propaganda shop once led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, attacked the premier-designate for making an unholy alliance with unions in a "highly controversial backroom deal."

How the Afghan Mission Failed

The spectre of protracted war looms large as the Taliban changes its tactics, looks beyond NATO's departure.

This is the second part of a three-part series examining the outcomes and legacy of the Afghan war. Part 1 outlined how the international intervention was lost, and described the grave consequences that that failure is likely to have for a people intimately familiar with war. Part 2 offers a focused discussion of what factors led to NATOs failure, and highlights why the resurgent Taliban, and the departing western forces, raise the spectre of a return to protracted war and violence in a post-NATO landscape.

One could say that the Afghan war was already lost by the time NATO had expanded in earnest across the country in 2006. Neglect and missteps early in the intervention, as well as errors of omission and commission, have reverberated throughout the decade-long state-building process and military mission, placing both on a rather precarious and shaky foundation.

Occupy Portland begins: 10,000 march for economic justice

Thursday, in peaceful solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, the occupation of Portland, Oregon, began. According to reports, approximately 10,000 peaceful Oregonians marched from Tom McCall Waterfront Park to Pioneer Courthouse Square Thursday afternoon.

The occupation of Portland is modeled after the occupation currently taking place in the financial district of New York City. Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing nonviolent demonstration opposing corporate influence over U.S. politics. Inspired by the Arab Spring, the aim of the demonstration is to begin a sustained occupation of Wall Street and the financial district of New York City. 

In a similar fashion, Occupy Portland plans to begin a sustained occupation of an as yet undisclosed location in downtown Portland. However, at the time of posting this story, it appeared that the occupation would make camp at Lownsdale Square in Southwest Portland. 

Curious Cohesion

In their votes on environmental issues this year, House Republicans from blue places have greens seeing red.

Which is to say that GOP legislators from moderate swing areas, including districts that President Obama carried in 2008, are infuriating environmentalists by joining with their conservative colleagues on votes to obliterate an array of federal regulations. That lockstep loyalty sharply departs from the way swing-district Republicans behaved in 1995, the last time the GOP unseated a Democratic House majority. It also represents a high-stakes bet that anxiety about the economy and disillusionment with Obama have defanged an issue that hurt Republicans previously in such places.

Since regaining the majority, House Republicans have argued incessantly that repealing federal regulations, especially those from the Environmental Protection Agency, is key to accelerating economic growth—a contention that environmentalists and the administration fiercely contest. GOP lawmakers have repeatedly engineered House votes to block or repeal rules from EPA and other agencies, with a series of further rollback measures lined up, like Friday-night flights at LaGuardia, through the fall. In this week’s installment, the House is voting on measures to block EPA rules limiting toxic pollution from cement plants and commercial and industrial boilers.

Primary Calendar Chaos: Mitt Charged With 'Gaming The System'

With the primary season calendar tilting into disarray, it was only logical that pretty soon, the GOP candidates themselves would get caught up in the chaos. That time is now, apparently. And thanks to this article in the Las Vegas Review Journal, you can expect some fingers to be pointed at the Romney campaign. Here's the salient bit:
In fact, Mitt Romney's campaign had pressed Nevada Republicans to move the caucuses into January so that he could maintain momentum coming out of New Hampshire, a state he expects to win. Romney also is counting on winning Nevada, where he finished first in 2008. "We moved the date for the good of Nevada, not the Romney campaign," said former Gov. Robert List, the GOP national committeeman on the board. "But Romney's people were pushing for us to move into January so that he could get some momentum and have a rising tide going into Florida."

Michele Bachmann: 'I Would Reinstate The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy'

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) reiterated that she would reinstate the "don't ask, don't tell" policy if she were elected president on a conference call with Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, reports the Minnesota Independent.

Bachmann took calls from supporters, including one who said that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would "destroy the armed forces," before being cut off.

"I think of all the candidates that are running in the race, I have been very vocal about this," said Bachmann according to the Independent. "I would reinstate the don't ask, don't tell policy. It worked before and what it says is the issue of sexuality is one that doesn't come up and people aren't allowed to be open about it because the United States military, it's not a social experiment."

Bachmann has said multiple times that she would reinstate the policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Afghanistan War: Ex-Commander Stanley McChrystal Says U.S. Started War With 'Frighteningly Simplistic' View Of Country

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. began the war in Afghanistan with a "frighteningly simplistic" view of the country, and even 10 years later lacks knowledge that could help bring the conflict to a successful end, a former top commander said Thursday.

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations that the U.S. and its NATO allies are only "a little better than" 50 percent of the way to reaching their war goals.

Of the remaining tasks to be accomplished, he said the most difficult may be creating a legitimate government that ordinary Afghans can believe in and that can serve as a counterweight to the Taliban.

McChrystal, who commanded coalition forces in 2009-10 and was forced to resign in a flap over a magazine article, said the U.S. entered Afghanistan in October 2001 with too little knowledge of Afghan culture.

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Fed Up With Both Parties

NEW YORK — Their chief target is Wall Street, but many of the demonstrators in New York and across the U.S. also are thoroughly disgusted with Washington, blaming politicians of both major parties for policies they say protect corporate America at the expense of the middle class.

"At this point I don't see any difference between George Bush and Obama. The middle class is a lot worse than when Obama was elected," said John Penley, an unemployed legal worker from Brooklyn.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began last month with a small number of young people pitching a tent in front of the New York Stock Exchange, has expanded nationally and drawn a wide variety of activists, including union members and laid-off workers. Demonstrators marched Thursday in Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Anchorage, Alaska, carrying signs with slogans such as "Get money out of politics" and "I can't afford a lobbyist."

Mayrand says House committee should probe issue of paid advertising at political conventions, Tories claim victory

PARLIAMENT HILL—Conservative MPs were buoyed Thursday and claimed partial victory after Canada Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand suggested to a Commons committee it should review Elections Act provisions that allow paid advertising and sponsorships by businesses and unions at political conventions.

But the NDP—under attack from the Conservative party and government MPs for the past month over paid union sponsorships and advertisements at its convention last June—shot back with a statement that the type of lavish corporate hospitality suites that accompanied a Conservative convention the same month should also be reviewed because they too could be seen as expensive attempts to cozy up to lawmakers and curry influence.

NDP MP Joe Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh, Ont.) also argued, in the Procedure and House Affairs Committee where Mr. Mayrand made his comment, that the Canada Elections Act still allows corporations and unions to exercise significant influence on elections, through limited third-party advertising by unions, business associations, and other groups.
“It is something the committee might want to consider,” Mr. Mayrand told the committee, responsible for recommending amendments to the Elections Act and the electoral system to the House of Commons.