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.]

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Canada eyes military role in Syria if diplomacy, sanctions fail

Canada is prepared to join international military intervention in Syria if sanctions and diplomacy fail but says such a decision by the United Nations is neither imminent nor inevitable.

The Harper government, however, announced Sunday it would keep a patrol frigate in the Mediterranean region until 2013 – a ship that gives Canada an asset to contribute to a naval blockade of Syria should the need ever arise.

The Conservative government said HMCS Vancouver, which helped patrol the waters off Libya, will remain in the region as part of a NATO counter-terrorism effort, Operation Endeavour, until relieved by HMCS Charlottetown in early 2012.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who warned this past weekend of the dangers of creating a “world police” force that is tasked with righting wrongs around the world, told journalists Sunday that Ottawa would nevertheless be ready for whatever is asked of it.

Energy industry set to cut funding for oil sands environmental watchdog

The oil sands industry is embroiled in a dispute over its plans to trim funding to an environmental advisory and monitoring group, at a time when companies are moving aggressively to persuade the public they care about being green.

For more than a decade, the Cumulative Environmental Management Association, or CEMA, has funded research to draft recommendations on improving the impact of the oil sands on air, land, water and biodiversity. It draws the bulk of its funding from industry, which has funnelled its dollars through the Oil Sands Developers Group.

On the strength of recommendations made in part by industry members, the association submitted a $9-million budget request for next year. Several weeks ago, the developers group said it was prepared to fund just over $5-million. The group’s executive director said he plans to meet with CEMA Monday.

CEMA’s budget is made up of work plans that come, in part, from industry representatives, who co-chair each of the association’s working groups. This year, they recommended new work on how much groundwater industry can reasonably extract, an important issue given that water is such a critical ingredient for the oil sands. CEMA also wants to do more on health issues, such as assessing how the pungent odour of crude extraction affects humans.

Police Militarization in the Decade Following 9/11

Police forces have grown increasingly militarized in the years following the September 11th attacks. In part, this is a response to new rules established in the PATRIOT Act. A surplus of decommissioned military equipment and weapons has also found its way into domestic police forces.

SWAT teams have been used with increasing frequency, sometimes just to serve warrants on nonviolent criminals.

Radley Balko, who has been covering this trend for years now, has a piece up in the Huffington Post on the ways that 9/11 and the subsequent policy decisions have led to a more militarized police force in America. Of course, the militarization of America’s police began much earlier than 9/11. I would trace it back to the advent of the War on Drugs. Balko has other interesting details. For instance, in 1994 a law was passed which authorized the Pentagon to donate surplus military equipment – including vehicles and weapons – to police departments:
In the 17 years since, literally millions of pieces of equipment designed for use on a foreign battlefield have been handed over for use on U.S. streets, against U.S. citizens. Another law passed in 1997 further streamlined the process. As National Journal reported in 2000, in the first three years after the 1994 law alone, the Pentagon distributed 3,800 M-16s, 2,185 M-14s, 73 grenade launchers, and 112 armored personnel carriers to civilian police agencies across America. Domestic police agencies also got bayonets, tanks, helicopters and even airplanes.
All of that equipment then facilitated a dramatic rise in the number and use of paramilitary police units, more commonly known as SWAT teams. Peter Kraska, a criminologist at the University of Eastern Kentucky, has been studying this trend since the early 1980s. Kraska found that by 1997, 90 percent of cities with populations of 50,000 or more had at least one SWAT team, twice as many as in the mid-1980s. The number of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 with a SWAT team increased 157 percent between 1985 and 1996.

Police Response to Occupy Wall Street is Absurd

Events like the one in the above video have been far too common in the police response to Occupy protests across the country. I do believe that Occupy Wall Street is at a tipping point, and that it must grow beyond and evolve away from the tent city occupations, but this police response is absurd and excessive.

Arrests exceeding 250 people followed protests in New York City yesterday. All across the country, cops are cracking down on protesters with force. I may be a critic of Occupy Wall Street, but the police are public servants, and public servants have no business treating the public this way.

By and large, Occupy has been a peaceful affair. Certainly pepper-spraying protesters while they sit calmly in a row like this is a gross abuse of power. It should have our collective blood boiling, whether or not we even agree with the protesters themselves. What was meant to be a protest against economic equality quickly morphs into a protest against the police state.

And make no mistake, the powers of the police in this country have grown out of hand. I’ve written at length on the militarization of the police, of SWAT team abuses, and the way that the war on terror and the war on drugs have both contributed to what is really just a war on individual liberty. Occupy Wall Street may need to grow up and evolve, but a far greater and more pressing issue facing this country is what to do about the security state we’ve erected about us at the local, state, and federal level.

Between the Patriot Act and the War on Drugs, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Origin
Source: Forbes 

Whose Police?

An eighty-four-year-old woman is looking straight into a camera. Her eyes are wide, her mouth is agape, and she is drenched in a filmy white fluid: it flattens her white billowing hair, it glazes her flushed cheeks, it runs off her chin onto her scarf. This is Dorli Rainey, minutes after being doused with pepper spray by police at an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday. Joshua Trujillo shot the picture for seattlepi.com. Trujillo also took pictures of the police doing the dousing—hosing the protesters down with what look like fire extinguishers full of the noxious, blinding, stinging pepper spray. And he took pictures of a woman, who called herself Jennifer and said she was two months pregnant, being carried to safety by a fellow protester after the pepper spray disabled her, then being treated by medics at the edge of the action. Trujillo’s pictures of these women—the octogenarian and the expecting mother—were all over up the Occupy Wall Street Twitter streams: @OccupyWallSt, @occupyoakland, @occupyarrests, and the like. And they were just the latest images of the shocking and apparently gratuitous violence visited by our police on nonviolent protesters in one American city after another over the past several months.

Among the most effective chants of the O.W.S. protesters has been a simple message: “The whole world is watching.” The chant is powerful because it is true. This is the age of the smartphone and the live-feed. And so, in New York on Monday night—or rather, at one o’clock on Tuesday morning—when Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly deployed thousands of cops to clear O.W.S. out of Zuccotti Park, they did so under the deepest cover of darkness, and they forbade the press from seeing what they were doing.

UC Davis Students Blasted With Pepper Spray: Investigation, Calls For Resignation After Video Goes Viral

SAN FRANCISCO - As video spread of a police officer in riot gear blasting pepper spray into the faces of seated protesters at a northern California university, outrage came quickly — followed almost as quickly by defence from police and calls for the school's chancello to resign.

University of California Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said in a statement Saturday that she was forming a task force to investigate the police action and the video images she said were "chilling."

However, a law enforcement official who watched the clip called the use of force "fairly standard police procedure."

In the video, an officer dispassionately pepper-sprays a line of sitting protesters who flinch and cover their faces but remain passive with their arms interlocked as onlookers shriek and scream out for the officer to stop.

As the images were circulated widely on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter on Saturday, the university's faculty association called on Katehi to resign, saying in a letter there had been a "gross failure of leadership."

Women March Against Government Cuts

With the number of women out of work across the UK hitting a 23-year high of 1.09 million, protesters marched against cuts to women's employment yesterday.

The 'Don’t Turn Back Time' on women’s equality marches saw women, and men, dressed in 1950s clothes, march in London, Brighton, Manchester, Stratford and Coventry.

Anna Bird, acting chief executive of the Fawcett Society, told Sky News that the Government's approach to reducing the deficit was "pushing women out of the workplace".

"At the same time, women are bearing the brunt of cuts to benefits - £11bn of the £18bn cut through changes to tax and benefits each year is coming from women's pockets," she said.

"Decades of steady, albeit slow, progress on equality for women is being dismantled, as cuts to women's jobs and the benefits and services they rely on turn back time on women's equality."

A report by the society found that two thirds of local government jobs cut belonged to women. The report measured employment in that sector from the first quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011.

The national unemployment rate currently sits at 8.3%, or 2.62 million, according to the Office For National Statistics. The unemployment rate is the highest since 1996 and the number of total unemployed people is the highest since 1994.

Origin
Source: Huff 

Super Committee Failure: Bush Tax Cuts Obstacle To Deal

The leaders of a special deficit reduction panel signaled Sunday that they will fail to strike a deal to reduce the deficit before their Wednesday deadline.

Republican opposition to taxing the rich is the main obstacle, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"There is one sticking divide, and that is the issue of what I call shared sacrifice, where everybody contributes in a very challenging time for our country," Murray said. "That's the Bush tax cuts. In making sure that any kind of package includes everybody coming to the table and the wealthiest of Americans, those who earn over a million dollars every year, have to share, too. And that line in the sand, we haven't seen any Republicans willing to cross yet."

Murray is the co-chair of the special panel assigned to strike a deficit deal by Thanksgiving to prevent huge automatic cuts. The failure of the 12-member super committee, as it's known, will supposedly result in $1.2 trillion worth of discretionary and military spending cuts. However, as HuffPost reported in September, Congress has plenty of time to intervene before the automatic cuts take effect in 2013.

Canada and the Quest to Kill Kyoto


Canada's obstructive approach to the negotiation of new emission-reduction targets has many international observers baffled.


On Nov. 28, international climate-change negotiations will begin in Durban, South Africa, as the 17th annual Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change gets underway. This is the first of a series of blog posts from Amara Possian, who is the co-ordinator of the Canadian Youth Delegation to this conference. Amara will be writing for The Mark throughout the month, keeping us up to date as discussions unfold.

These days, even foreign diplomats are scoffing at Canada’s climate policy. In a recent interview with The Globe and Mail, Mohau Pheko, the South African high commissioner to Canada, asked, “Are you going to follow the United States, are you also going to become a serial non-ratifier of any agreements? ... Why take a moral high ground before, on the issue of the environment, and suddenly do an about-turn now?”

Pheko was referring to the Harper government’s unwillingness to adopt a second commitment period for emission reductions to the Kyoto Protocol, and she is not the only one who is baffled by Canada’s backwards international and domestic climate policy.

The legally binding Kyoto Protocol, which Canada ratified in 2002, is set to expire in 2012. This means the discussion around agreeing to a second commitment period for reducing greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions can no longer be postponed if the international community is serious about halting dangerous climatic changes. The Canadian government, however, is opposed to committing to a second reduction period because many countries, such as major GHG emitters like China and India, are not required to make any reductions under the agreement.

‘Chatter and noise’ on the F-35s: There’s no turning back, leaders insist

There is no plan to backtrack on the F-35, so far as North America’s heads of defence are concerned.

At a press conference Friday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta held firm on the line that there is no turning back. Negative reports on the fighter program are “just chatter and noise,” MacKay told reporters in Halifax at the annual International Security Forum.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Panetta had warned Congress about the possibility of scrapping the jet program if a congressional super committee does not come to an agreement on the budget by the middle of next week. The committee has been deadlocked and this week U.S. president Barack Obama urged congressional leaders to “bite the bullet.”

Except, according to the Washington Post, despite the rhetoric, if the committee fails to reach an agreement, nothing will happen right away. “The automatic spending cuts that were supposed to force the panel to deliver more palatable options would not take effect until January 2013,” notes the Post. “That leaves lawmakers a full year to devise alternatives.”

At Friday’s press conference, Panetta told reporters he was “very confident” the funding would come.

Tinkering with pensions

As expected, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has just rolled out what the Conservatives are hailing as a “major milestone” to ensure retirement security for the nearly two-thirds of Canadians who do not have a company pension plan. It’s hard to see how they can make that claim with a straight face.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs), expected to come into force next year, will help some self-employed individuals and workers at smaller companies gain access to a private pension plan. But when Ottawa unveils the fine print it is expected that businesses will be required to offer a plan, but not to contribute to it. For workers, then, this may amount to little more than a larger professionally managed savings vehicle similar to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).

The need is undeniable. Many Canadians are not saving enough for retirement. Fewer and fewer have company-sponsored pensions and they do not use all their RRSP or tax-free savings options. Some simply don’t have the money to set aside. Others have underestimated their retirement needs and are not prudently planning for life after work. Unfortunately, another voluntary savings program won’t necessarily change any of that.

The pooled pension is unlikely to come close to filling the gaps in Canada’s retirement income system.

Indeed, those cheering the loudest when the legislation was introduced on Thursday were the banks and mutual fund companies who stand to make a fortune managing the plans.

Canada’s 'extreme support' for Israel hampering peace process: Palestinian ministe

HALIFAX — Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to veto any mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders in the final G8 statement earlier this year is the clearest example of how Canada is hurting instead of helping the Middle East peace process, a senior Palestinian minister said Saturday.

“That statement was supposed to be an entrance to turn back to negotiations,” Palestinian Interior Minister Said Abu-Ali told Postmedia News.

“Canada adopted the Israeli position and this does not serve the peace process.”

Middle East peace talks have been stalled since September 2010, when Palestinian negotiators walked out in protest of the Israeli government’s continued construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In May, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a major speech in which he said an eventual compromise between the borders of Israel and a new Palestinian state should be based on the lines that existed before Israeli troops took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a war in 1967.

Poet-Bashing Police

LIFE, I found myself thinking as a line of Alameda County deputy sheriffs in Darth Vader riot gear formed a cordon in front of me on a recent night on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, is full of strange contingencies.  The deputy sheriffs, all white men, except for one young woman, perhaps Filipino, who was trying to look severe but looked terrified, had black truncheons in their gloved hands that reporters later called batons and that were known, in the movies of my childhood, as billy clubs.

The first contingency that came to mind was the quick spread of the Occupy movement. The idea of occupying public space was so appealing that people in almost every large city in the country had begun to stake them out, including students at Berkeley, who, on that November night, occupied the public space in front of Sproul Hall, a gray granite Beaux-Arts edifice that houses the registrar’s offices and, in the basement, the campus police department.

Spain Votes as Polls Show Crisis Handing Rajoy Landslide

Spaniards may be set to hand opposition leader Mariano Rajoy the biggest majority in almost three decades as the risk of Spain becoming the next nation overwhelmed by Europe’s debt crisis bolsters support for his People’s Party.

Voting continues until 8 p.m. in mainland Spain as polls showed Rajoy may win as many as 198 of the 350 seats in Parliament, the largest majority any Spanish government has secured since 1982. The campaign, focused on the stagnating economy and 23 percent jobless rate, ended on Nov. 18 with borrowing costs near records. That prompted Rajoy, 56, to say he hopes Spain won’t need a bailout before the new government takes over in December.

Voters already bearing the deepest budget cuts in Spain’s three-decade democratic history may be prepared to accept further austerity in exchange for Rajoy’s pledge to create jobs. The ruling Socialists are set to become the fifth government ejected because of the sovereign debt crisis, after Italy and Greece appointed technocratic governments and Ireland and Portugal fired their leaders after they sought bailouts.

“Rajoy will likely implement quick policy changes in an effort to impress markets and his European partners,” said Antonio Barroso, an analyst at Eurasia and a former government pollster in Spain. “A strong PP victory, coupled with the swift policy changes, could send a positive signal to markets.”

Occupy Oakland Calls for TOTAL WEST COAST PORT SHUTDOWN ON 12/12

Proposal for a Coordinated West Coast Port Shutdown, Passed With Unanimous Consensus by vote of the Occupy Oakland General Assembly 11/18/2012:

In response to coordinated attacks on the occupations and attacks on workers across the nation:

Occupy Oakland calls for the blockade and disruption of the economic apparatus of the 1% with a coordinated shutdown of ports on the entire West Coast on December 12th.   The 1% has disrupted the lives of longshoremen and port truckers and the workers who create their wealth, just as coordinated nationwide police attacks have turned our cities into battlegrounds in an effort to disrupt our Occupy movement.

We call on each West Coast occupation to organize a mass mobilization to shut down its local port.  Our eyes are on the continued union-busting and attacks on organized labor, in particular the rupture of Longshoremen jurisdiction in Longview Washington by the EGT.   Already, Occupy Los Angeles has passed a resolution to carry out a port action on the Port Of Los Angeles on December 12th, to shut down SSA terminals, which are owned by Goldman Sachs.

OWS: From Building Awareness To Maintaining Momentum

From disrupter to builder -- this is one of the most difficult transitions to make. It has tripped many promising popular movements in the past. And it is the critical challenge that faces the OWS Movement today (or, to be more exact, the Occupy Movement given that it has successfully spread to so many cities around the world).

This peaceful grassroots movement has succeeded in raising awareness about growing income and wealth inequality and, more generally, a system that seems better at serving the privileged few than enabling jobs and income growth for the many.

Indeed, whether you agree with the core messages or not, the fact is that the movement has triggered lots of important discussions about the balance between rich and poor, capital and labor, current and future generations, and the financial sector and the real economy.

By striking a chord with many people in America and across the world, it is a movement that cannot, and should not be dismissed. Indeed, it will resonate even more as western economies continue to struggle with sluggish growth and very high unemployment.

Militarization Of Campus Police

Yesterday, police at UC Davis attacked seated students with a chemical gas.

I teach at UC Davis and I personally know many of the students who were the victims of this brutal and unprovoked assault. They are top students. In fact, I can report that among the students I know, the higher a student's grade point average, the more likely it is that they are centrally involved in the protests.

This is not surprising, since what is at issue is the dismantling of public education in California. Just six years ago, tuition at the University of California was $5357. Tuition is currently $12,192. According to current proposals, it will be $22,068 by 2015-2016. We have discussed this in my classes, and about one third of my students report that their families would likely have to pull them out of school at the new tuition. It is not a happy moment when the students look around the room and see who it is that will disappear from campus. These are young people who, like college students everywhere and at all times, form some of the deepest friendships they will have in their lives.

This is what motivates students who have never taken part in any sort of social protest to "occupy" the campus quad. And indeed, there were students who were attacked with chemical agents by robocops who were engaging in their first civic protest.

Since the video of the assault has gone viral, I will assume that most of you have seen the shocking footage. Let's take a look at the equally outrageous explanations and justifications that have come from UC Davis authorities.

Paul Martin: Former PM Comes Out In Favour Of Occupy Wall Street And 'Redistribution Programs'

An unexpected voice is joining the chorus of support for the Occupy movement — former prime minister Paul Martin.

Martin says protesters have sparked a global debate that may help save the free market system.

“This idea that [the Occupy protestors] don’t have clear goals, I don’t think anybody buys it,” Martin told The Huffington Post, even as city governments across Canada step up their efforts to end the occupation.

“These young people have touched a chord that is being discussed in every family across North America and in Europe, as well. I think it’s a very important thing they’ve done.”

Since Occupy Wall Street launched in New York two months ago, spreading like wildfire across the Western world, many public figures have come out in support of the protests against the growing gap between rich and poor. Most, however, have been celebrities, such as Gordon Lightfoot joining his daughter at Occupy Toronto and Anne Hathaway marching in yesterday’s Day of Action in New York.

Martin — who enacted controversial social service cuts during his time as Liberal finance minister from 1994 to 2002 — says he’s gone down to Occupy Montreal and spoken to the protestors personally.

UC Davis Police Pepper-Spray Seated Students In Occupy Dispute

WASHINGTON -- On Friday, a group of University of California, Davis students, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement on campus, became the latest victims of alleged police brutality to be captured on video. The videos show the students seated on the ground as a UC Davis police officer brandishes a red canister of pepper spray, showing it off for the crowd before dousing the seated students in a heavy, thick mist.

This incident recalls the earlier infamous pepper spraying by a New York Police Department official of several women who were seated and penned in. The UC Davis images are further proof that police continue to resort to brutal tactics when confronting Occupy activists. One woman was transported to a hospital to be treated for chemical burns.

"The UC Davis students were peacefully protesting on the quad," wrote one student who took videos in an email to The Huffington Post. The filmmaker, a senior, asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution by campus authorities. "The cop gave them 3 minutes to disperse before he said they would come and disturb the protest. The main objective for them was removing the tents. ... The students did have a right to be on campus, they were assembling peacefully and the campus was open at the time."

In a longer version of the video, the students are shown seated across a stretch of walkway surrounded by more than a dozen UC Davis cops, dressed in riot gear and clutching batons. Many other students are standing along the sides of the scene, watching and protesting as the standoff unfolded. Some students shouted "Thugs on campus!" and "From Davis to Greece, fuck the police!" Those chants were tamped down quickly by others, who warned all to "Keep it peaceful" and "Keep it nonviolent."

Reading Between the Lines

The omission of any direct reference to China in President Obama's speech to the Australian parliament speaks volumes.




Visit the new CIC website at OpenCanada.Org. Canada's hub for international affairs.



Sometimes, the most interesting part of a political speech is what’s not said. On Thursday, President Barack Obama delivered an address to Australia’s Parliament in which he set out the rationale and priorities of the U.S. policy shift towards the Asia Pacific region. The speech was largely about China, but Mr. Obama barely dared to say that country’s name out loud. The complexity and sensitivity of the U.S.-China relationship were on full display, for those to read between the lines.

Much of the speech sought to reassure China’s neighbours about America’s commitment to regional security in the face of rising Chinese power. The United States, said Mr. Obama, will “deter threats to peace” and keep its commitments to allies including to Japan, South Korea and Australia. It will adopt a more “flexible” military posture, including by basing Marines in northern Australia and by training the naval and land forces of regional partners. It will also deploy “new capabilities,” an oblique phrase that may refer to ship-based drone aircraft, which have the potential to significantly expand the reach of U.S. air and naval power.

U.S. senators decry soaring F-35 cost

U.S. Sen. John Mc-Cain and two other members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concerns about the F-35 fighter plane on Saturday, a day after the U.S. defence secretary said his country was committed to the project.

"We've been very disturbed over the cost overruns that have characterized this weapon system. It is now the first $1-trillion (weapon) in history," McCain told reporters, flanked by Democratic senators Mark Udall and Jeanne Shaheen.

"It's not that we're opposed to the F-35. We are opposed to out-of-control cost overruns."

The Conservative government had been hoping U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's commitment to the program on Friday would close the issue of whether Washington would see the F-35 through to full production, despite major ongoing problems.

McCain's comments on the margins of a major international defence conference, however, highlight the tenuous state of the program, particularly since it will be Congress that must approve the billions that will be needed to get the plane off the drawing board and into the hands of the U.S. military and allies like Canada.

"I continue to hope that Lockheed Martin and the military will get their act together and get back on track," McCain said. "We want the F-35 to succeed. We're not opposed to the F-35. But we have obligations to our taxpayers."

Occupy Edmonton to defy eviction notice

Occupy Edmonton protesters say they will stay in a city park despite an eviction notice from the private company that owns the land.

The decision to stay was reached at a general assembly meeting held Saturday night, protester Mohad Mohamed said.

On Saturday, members of the Occupy Edmonton protest received an eviction notice, telling them to remove their camp by Sunday at 11 p.m. MT.

Citing safety and public health concerns, Melcor Developments Ltd. stated in a letter to the occupiers that any persons or property on the site after the eviction deadline “are subject to removal by lawful means.”

"There is potential for liability ... in the event that there's any kind of incidents taking place on the site," Melcor CEO Ralph Young said Saturday.

If the Occupy Edmonton members do not vacate the area, the company plans to issue a complaint to Edmonton police to remove any trespassers and may hold protesters liable for the costs associated with the removal of property, garbage and waste from the site.

Government puts tighter leash on RCMP public statements

OTTAWA—The federal government may have a fluent bilingual communicator in its new commissioner Bob Paulson. But it has moved to keep Paulson and the Mounties he now leads on a much tighter leash, some even say muzzled.

The Star obtained a copy of a new communications protocol that requires the RCMP to flag anything that might “garner national media attention” to Public Safety Canada.

Everything from “media advisories, news releases, background info, media lines and talking points for spokespersons and senior officials/members” must be vetted.

Statements by RCMP members who appear before parliamentary committees would likely be massaged by the federal government beforehand, as the document clearly defines a “major event” as “an incident, event, announcement, and/or speaking engagement likely to garner national media attention.”

Signed Sept. 20 and effective immediately, the policy says the Mounties must consult and get approval from Public Safety for communications regarding non-operational matters “PRIOR (emphasis in original) to public use” for almost everything.

Occupy Toronto takes on Ford with rally at City Hall

An estimated 2,000 Occupy Toronto protesters and their supporters descended on Toronto City Hall Saturday afternoon to lash out at a mayor they say is part of the one per cent.

They gathered at St. James Park, the hub of the movement, and marched in two separate groups to Nathan Phillips Square in one of the largest demonstrations for Occupy Toronto to date.

Protesters carried signs supporting the demonstration’s “Evict Ford” rallying cry.

Occupy outreach team member Octavian Cadabeschi said the rally was protesting the Toronto mayor’s austerity measures and the growing crowd showed the 99 per cent are not happy with Ford’s service cuts.

The Occupy movement in Toronto is awaiting a judge’s decision on Monday morning to determine if they will be allowed to continue camping in the park.

“Hell no! We won’t go!” protesters chanted as they marched to the mayor’s workplace. “We are unstoppable. Another world is possible.”

Union groups such as the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Canadian Auto Workers joined the occupiers and waved flags. Protestors were joined by others who had come to observe the rally.

Police formed a boundary around the marchers using their bicycles.

The two groups arrived drumming and chanting at City Hall around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and speeches from union and social assistance program representatives began shortly after 4 p.m.

Origin
Source: Toronto Star