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.]

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Police oversight board fumbled democratic responsibility

Civilian oversight of our police is essential. It acts as a check and balance against the legal powers society has given the police to enforce the law. That statement, in a report by retired judge John Morden, will strike most readers as self-evident. Any democracy worthy of the name gives civilians a strong leash on its law enforcement authorities. But in Toronto in 2010, the civilians holding the leash fell down on the job.

According to Mr. Morden’s sharpl y worded report, the Toronto police services board was a “voiceless entity” in the run-up to the G20 summit that June, “a mere bystander in a process it was supposed to lead.” Instead of asking tough questions, it deferred to police chief Bill Blair.

Exxon CEO: Fossil fuels will warm planet, but humans can adapt; drilling risks are overstated

NEW YORK, N.Y. - ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says fears about climate change, drilling, and energy dependence are overblown.

In a speech Wednesday, Tillerson acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt.

The risks of oil and gas drilling are well understood and can be mitigated, he said. And dependence on other nations for oil is not a concern as long as access to supply is certain, he said.

Doctors to track impact of cuts to refugee health care coverage

OTTAWA—Canadian doctors are ready to make noise about the consequences of cuts to a federal program that will restrict health coverage for refugee claimants.

“We are stubborn. We’re upset and we are professionals. The government is hurting our patients. We will not stop, ever, and we will not forget,” Dr. Philip Berger, chief of family and community medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto told a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

NDP says it will ask justice minister to call in RCMP over Del Mastro allegations

OTTAWA — The New Democrats say they will ask Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to call in the RCMP to investigate new allegations about the financing of Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s 2008 election campaign.

The NDP also want Nicholson to ask Director of Public Prosecutions Brian Saunders to provide prosecutorial advice to police because the politically-charged claims of a false document and reimbursements to campaign donors exceed the scope of Elections Canada’s mandate.

Elliot Lake mall patched 'on the cheap,' ex-manager says

A former manager of the Elliot Lake, Ont., mall says the owner was warned as far back as 2008 that if he didn’t make repairs to the mall roof it could collapse.

Brian England says he was with Bob Nazarian, the 66-year-old Richmond Hill businessman who owns the mall, when Nazarian was told of the consequences of not doing repair work to the mall’s roof.

“The architect plain and simply told Mr. Nazarian that if he didn’t proceed with these repairs,” said England, “that we could find that his structure was at the point of deterioration that it possibly could collapse.

“It was that clear.”

Ethics commissioner wants to get tough on MPs who don’t declare gifts

The five MPs met the Crown Prince of Kuwait, travelled to a desert oasis and discussed world affairs with senior Kuwaiti officials. And when the $60,000 Parliamentary trip wrapped up just days before the 2011 election campaign began, they received several gifts, including Bulgari watches.

Such luxury pieces sell in Canada for thousands of dollars, and MPs are required to disclose all gifts worth more than $500 in a public registry. The registry shows declarations from two of the five, both Conservatives. Two Liberals – then-Speaker Peter Milliken and Raymonde Folco – retired before the 60-day limit for disclosure, and the registry lists only current MPs. The fifth MP, Liberal Judy Foote, said she didn’t think the gifts were worth $500 and only declared them on Wednesday after calls from The Globe and Mail.

How applicants are stumbling on the final step to becoming Canadians

Dozens of immigrants from Afghanistan began asking Anisa Sharifi for help two years ago. After failing the citizenship test, they all had the same question: How could they pass so they could become Canadians after living here for years?

“They’re trying hard, they want to be in Canada, they’re happy here,” said Ms. Sharifi, a settlement worker with the Afghan Women’s Organization in Toronto, one of the many organizations across the country that help prepare immigrants for the test.

Saga of a Toronto police drug squad

This is the story of Central Field Command drug squad, Team 3, and the long, at times tumultuous, effort to investigate and prosecute officers and also stave off a full-blown public inquiry.

The saga has never been publicly told in its entirety.

It's about the thin blue line of police solidarity, about a task force led by an outsider but otherwise involving officers investigating their own — a squad entrusted to enforce laws that declare a futile, never-ceasing war on drugs.

Federal court asked to enforce ruling on immigration delays

The Federal Court of Canada has been asked to compel Ottawa to honour a court-sanctioned agreement with litigants who recently claimed a legal victory over immigration processing delays.

In a legal motion filed Friday, lawyer for the 900 litigants complained that the government has refused to act on the June 14 court judgment, which ruled Citizenship and Immigration Canada must process in a timely fashion their backlogged applications in the federal skilled worker program.

The motion followed an extraordinary move by the presiding judge, Justice Donald Rennie, to reverse his own initial decision to deny the government’s rights to appeal, opening the door for Ottawa to take the case to the Federal Court of Appeal.

Canada’s troubled asbestos industry gets a $58-million lifeline

ASBESTOS, QUE.—Canada’s beleaguered asbestos industry, which has been a target of activists who link its product to cancer, has been given a $58-million lease on life by the Quebec government.

While the industry has appeared on the brink of collapse, Friday’s long-rumoured provincial loan will cover more than two-thirds of the cost of renovating and reopening the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Que. — a move that could keep production going for another 20 years.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Harper minister ducks questions on plan to “authorize” water pollution

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minister in charge of protecting Canada’s fisheries does not appear to have an explanation for suggesting that the country needs new rules to “authorize” more water pollution.

Several days after Postmedia News reported he had made this argument in support of new environmental legislation, that was expected to be adopted on Friday, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield has not offered to explain his own remarks.

China blocks Bloomberg website after report on wealth of next president’s family

BEIJING, CHINA — China blocked access to Bloomberg’s website on the mainland after the business and financial news agency published a report Friday detailing the multimillion-dollar assets of relatives of the man set to become the country’s next president.

The report says that the extended family of Vice-President Xi Jinping holds interests that include investments in companies with total assets of $376 million, an 18 per cent indirect stake in a rare-earths company with $1.73 billion in assets and a $20 million holding in a tech company. The report cites public documents Bloomberg reporters compiled.

Mayor Rob Ford didn’t stop for open streetcar door, TTC union says

A confrontation between Rob Ford and a TTC driver occurred Wednesday because the mayor drove his vehicle past the open doors of a streetcar, the head of the transit workers’ union said Friday.

“My understanding is that Mayor Ford bypassed an open door and the operator then got off the streetcar – left his seat anyways – to advise the motorist, not knowing it was Mayor Ford, of the seriousness of the violation, as well was the concern for our passengers,” Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 president Bob Kinnear told the Star.

Public servants defend right to wear ‘Stephen Harper hates me’ buttons

OTTAWA—They believe the prime minister hates their guts and they are fighting for the right to say something about it.

Blue buttons emblazoned with the words “Stephen Harper hates me” have landed some employees at the Canada Revenue Agency in hot water for wearing them to work.

The buttons were created by some grassroots members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) — the largest of the unions representing federal employees — from the Atlantic region earlier this year as a way for workers to express their displeasure with looming cuts to public jobs and services.

Canada's Hard Turn Right

A new petro state has emerged in global affairs and its extreme political behavior has unsettled both Americans and Europeans alike.

For starters, the year-old regime has muzzled government scientists who are now accompanied by Soviet-like “minders” at public events.

It has branded environmentalists as “foreign radicals.”

Government whistleblower watchdog fails to deliver after five years

OTTAWA - Following the release of the fifth annual report by the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, civil society groups are calling the federal Conservatives' 5-year-old whistleblower regime a failure and calling for major reforms to ensure protection of Canadian whistleblowers.

"After five years of bureaucratic charades, taxpayers have essentially nothing to show for more than 30 million dollars spent on the Integrity Commissioner's office and the associated Tribunal," said David Hutton, executive director of FAIR, the whistleblower charity. "Not a single wrongdoer has been sanctioned and not a single whistleblower has been protected. It is time for a root and branch reform of this law."

With Alberta's budget all but balanced, where's Ted Morton now that we don't need him?

Can it be less than two years since Ted Morton, then Alberta's steely-eyed finance minister and hard-right fiscal hawk, was poised to become premier himself?

Readers with long memories will recall how Morton had in January 2011 just stuck the knife into then-premier Ed Stelmach. Morton wanted a painfully instant balanced budget that Stelmach was too smart or too humane to accept. When he didn't get his way, he quit -- precipitating the crisis that led to Stelmach's resignation.

Oh how the winds of change were blowing then! Morton was The Man, the cock of the walk, the tight-fisted front-runner in the then-nascent Progressive Conservative leadership race. He was the self-described leftists' nightmare, an American-born “right-winger with a PhD” -- his thesis dissertation in "political economy" assailing the U.S. Supreme Court for its "confused understanding of the relationship between sexual equality and the family." He was the guy who as soon as he was in the top job would reunite the PCs and the Wildrose Party into a neo-Con monolith that would turn the screws on Alberta till the pips squeaked!

Canada's Mean Test: Myths behind neo-con madness

It's difficult to overstate the significance of the Quebec student strike (the longest in North American history) and resultant public backlash against the provincial government's Orwellian response.

Not that you'd know it. According to mainstream (predominantly) English media, Montreal is being held hostage by a handful of scruffy, possibly naked, hooky-playing slack-tivists who got distracted on the way to a door-crasher sale at the Apple store and decided to stop traffic while demanding their constitutional right to free lattes. Or something.

The negative stereotyping of those who resist (or are an inconvenience to) the current neo-conservative model doesn't begin and end with students, of course -- public servants are also a favourite target, what with their middle-class wages and secure-ish retirement. And let's not forget sick days!

It’s hard to be an energy superpower

The first thing we should all be honest enough to admit about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plans to transform Canada into an “energy superpower” is that Plan A, which is really all about Alberta bitumen, is perhaps just a bit more reckless and sinister than we might have imagined.

It’s true that Ottawa has been “getting the fundamentals right,” if you can forgive the cliché. If you can forget that he has to stand on the shoulders of his Liberal predecessors to do so, our Conservative prime minister can crow that the World Economic Forum has given Canada a blue ribbon for bank regulation. In any case, Prime Minister Harper can rightly boast that Canada’s tax rate on new business investment is the lowest of the G7 countries, as is Canada’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product.

Federal cutbacks threat to future generation

The word from the federal government is austerity, but in reality it is a case of creating a crisis and solving it by cutting public programs and services. It is an excellent opportunity for the libertarian Harper government to ditch previous public initiatives and scale back the size of government.

Stephen Harper's Conservative government is delivering budget changes by stealth. Little by little the funding is being cut - a program here, a program there. On the eve of Aboriginal Day the government silently cut the funding for the Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth program.

Charities should be even more involved in politics

The Harper government is absolutely right that we have a problem with charities getting involved in politics: They don’t do it nearly enough.

“Many charities have acquired a wealth of knowledge about how government policies affect people’s lives. Charities are well-placed to study, assess, and comment on those government policies. ... It is therefore essential that charities continue to offer their direct knowledge of social issues to public policy debates.”

That’s the government talking. More specifically, that’s the government’s principle policy statement on the involvement of charities in political activities. It came into effect in 2003. It’s still in force.

Who will speak up for Canada?

Think back to 1995, when Canada was in the throes of a national unity crisis. The “Yes” side in the Quebec referendum was fast gaining momentum on the eve of the vote. Brian Tobin and Sheila Copps decided to organize a Montreal “love-in” to show Quebeckers that Canadians cared deeply about Quebec and its place in the Canadian family.

Air Canada, Canadian Pacific and Via Rail offered deep discounts, in some cases up to 90 per cent of the cost, for Canadians to make their way to Montreal. Every available bus in Ontario was conscripted and 75 packed buses left New Brunswick to make their way to Montreal.

Public servants send PM, Tory MPs ‘affected’ notices

OTTAWA — Ottawa’s public servants are turning the tables on their political masters and sending affected letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Conservative MPs warning them their jobs could be on the line when they go to the polls because of $5.2 billion in spending cuts.

The letters are part of the gimmickry of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s latest national “We Are All affected” campaign against the spending cuts that will wipe out 19,200 jobs. They are a play on the nearly 24,000 affected letters the government has sent to public servants warning them the work they do could be affected by the cuts and they could lose their jobs.

Canada GDP: April Saw 0.3 Per Cent Rise Mostly On Mining And Oil, StatsCan Says

OTTAWA - Canada's economy had a second month of growth in April, building momentum with a 0.3 per cent increase in gross domestic product compared with March, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

Canada's economy took a step backwards in February — when output was affected by a number of production shutdowns — but resumed growth in March, when the GDP advanced by 0.1 per cent.

Mitt Romney, Surprised By Health Care Decision, Pivots To Tax Attack

WASHINGTON -– A few weeks ago, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney said the approaching Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care law would be "the most over-reported story of the election."

While that statement during a background conversation may have been a bit of egregious spin designed to keep expectations in check, the premise -– that the election will be about the economy and jobs -– was sound.

On Oil Sands, Ottawa's Not Hearing What Alberta's Saying

On Sept. 11, 2009, Stephen Harper's then-environment minister Jim Prentice called on his counterpart in Alberta, Rob Renner, and then-premier Ed Stelmach.

Prentice intended to pitch the province on the federal government's plan to control Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.

It wasn't going to be an easy sell. Ottawa planned to place clear limits on Canada's carbon emissions. Companies unable to meet those limits would need to buy credits from companies that exceeded their requirements. This would almost certainly impact the bottom-line of Alberta's bitumen and coal sectors, two of Canada's largest sources of industrial carbon emissions.

Michael Savage Links Justice John Roberts' Epilepsy Medication To Obamacare Ruling

Conservative firebrand Michael Savage is not known to mince words--one of his favorite adjectives is "Islamofascist," and in 2009 he was banned from entering the United Kingdom on grounds of extremism.

But on Thursday, the popular radio talk show host's outspokenness veered into particularly strange territory when he suggested that Chief Justice John Roberts' epilepsy medication was responsible for his decision to uphold President Obama's health care law.

"Let's talk about Roberts," Savage said. "I'm going to tell you something that you're not gonna hear anywhere else, that you must pay attention to. It's well known that Roberts, unfortunately for him, has suffered from epileptic seizures. Therefore he has been on medication. Therefore neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. And if you look at Roberts' writings you can see the cognitive disassociation (sic) in what he is saying..."

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: Benjamin Hart 

Homeless Students Top 1 Million, U.S. Says, Leaving Advocates 'Horrified'

Back in November of 2005, Diane Nilan had what she now concedes may have struck some people as a “crazy notion.” She’d been working as advocate for homeless families in Illinois, getting frustrated by the glacial pace of political and bureaucratic change, when she decided to sell her town house, buy a Gulfstream motor home, and set out on the road to talk to homeless families living around the country. She drove to Pensacola, Fla., and then to Lafayette, La., and then to a tiny town in Texas, where she met a little boy who had been abandoned by his mother. She spoke with homeless children and their families at campsites and motels and shelters, and filmed them in an attempt to share what she learned.

Vancouver housing 'task force' plan not strong enough to dent developer-backed affordability crisis

The City of Vancouver's developer task force released another interim report this week -- a follow-up to the previous very preliminary interim report (see The Mainlander's analysis here).

Although the latest proposal and its ideas remain in draft form, the document contains a couple of substantial policy proposals, including a municipal Housing Authority and a Land Bank. These are two very good ideas, but the question remains: will the proposals actually be implemented? If so, will it be at a scale capable of meeting the demand for real affordable housing? Will it be done in a way that benefits residents and communities instead of private developers?

Three days before the shameful cuts to health care for refugees

On June 30, one day before Canada Day, cuts to health care for refugees will be made by the federal government. These cuts will include access to vision care, dental care, prescription drugs and mobility devices for all refugees. For many refugees it will also include restrictions on primary and basic health care that all Canadians receive. This includes medical assistance during emergencies like heart attacks and even during childbirth. Those children being birthed of course will be Canadian citizens, but they are still not entitled to receiving assistance during their delivery. What does this say about Canada and our values? And what is our government saying on our behalf to all newcomers?

Refugees come to Canada fleeing famine, torture and violence. They are looking for a safe haven. They may enter this country physically, mentally and emotionally harmed. But regardless of the injuries, they will be denied basic primary care. Only when a refugee threatens the safety of public health will many of them receive any medical attention. Doctors have been incredibly effective at getting their message against these cuts to the media and the public. We applaud their courage and passion to assist Canada's most vulnerable. Their newest protest against these cuts is available for viewing online.

How much Canada does the world need?

Maybe you recall a certain tourism slogan from the 1990s. “The world needs more Canada,” declared television spots and newspaper ads from 1995, pitching the U.S., Japan and Europe on the idea of Canada as a land of tranquility, safety and whales coming up for air in slow motion. We were the place to go for global spiritual renewal.

It seems the planet has finally caught up to this idea, at least as far as safety and tranquility goes. Now the relevant question seems to be: how much Canada does the world really need? After all, there’s only so much to go around.

Visitors get $49-million welcome centre but fewer chances to tour Parliament

The federal government is planning to spend almost $50-million to create a new underground welcome centre for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit Parliament Hill each year.

But it’s simultaneously cutting the budget for guided tours, ensuring some 20,000 fewer visitors will actually get a peek inside the majestic buildings housing the seat of Canada’s national government.

Ottawa to halt new immigration applications

Ottawa will stop accepting new immigration applications to the federal skilled worker and investor programs starting Monday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.

Kenney said the skilled worker program will be reopened in January, when “important changes” will be made. However, the investor program will be halted indefinitely so the government can “make progress on processing its existing inventory.”

The news has caught prospective applicants and their lawyers off guard as they were not given advance notice to submit applications that are almost ready.

Province urges Ottawa not to cut refugee health care

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has added her support behind the national campaign against Ottawa’s planned cuts to health services for refugees.

In a letter to federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Matthews urged Ottawa to reverse its decision to significantly reduce health coverage for refugee claimants.

“By abdicating your responsibility toward some of the most vulnerable in our society, you have effectively downloaded federal costs onto the provincial health-care system,” Matthews wrote in a letter, dated Wednesday.

Web advocates want veil on trade talks lifted

A coalition of Internet advocates launched a campaign Wednesday against Canada's participation in closed-door trade talks that could force Canada to impose draconian restrictions on Internet users.

The coalition, which includes Vancouver's, is calling on the Canadian government to lift the veil of secrecy around negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and to defend Canada's sovereignty over Internet laws in this country.

"You could end up getting fined just for clicking on the wrong link," said Steve Anderson, founder of, which has been joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the U.S. digital rights group Public Knowledge, the Council of Canadians, the global consumer advocacy group, the software company Tucows, the Chilean public interest group ONG Derechos Digitales and the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group Public Citizen.

Ottawa seeks new operator for freshwater research station

The Fisheries department is talking to universities, scientists and provincial officials in an effort to find someone willing to take over a freshwater research station that’s been operating in Northwestern Ontario for 50 years but no longer fits with government priorities.

Dave Gillis, the director general of ecosystem science in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, held a series of conference calls this week with university administrators and researchers, government scientists and provincial representatives to explore options for saving the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).

Movement builds in Montana to oppose corporate election spending

"I never bought a man who wasn't for sale," William A. Clark reportedly said. He was one of Montana's "Copper Kings," a man who used his vast wealth to manipulate the state government and literally buy votes to make himself a U.S. senator. That was more than 100 years ago, and the blatant corruption of Clark and the other Copper Kings created a furor that led to the passage, by citizen initiative, of Montana's Corrupt Practices Act in 1912. The century of transparent campaign-finance restrictions that followed, preventing corporate money from influencing elections, came to an end this week, as the U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed the Montana law. Five justices of the U.S Supreme Court reiterated: Their controversial Citizens United ruling remains the law of the land. Clark's corruption contributed to the passage of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Now, close to 100 years later, it may take a popular movement to amend the Constitution again, this time to overturn Citizens United and confirm, finally and legally, that corporations are not people.

Vancouver 'Casseroles' arrests rise to 12 as police brutality alleged last night

Police arrested seven more protesters last night at a Vancouver "Casseroles" demonstration in support of Quebec students -- only days after five arrests at a similar rally on Friday -- sending one person to hospital and allegations of police brutality.

The escalation in protest detentions coincides with the Vancouver Police Department's admission it recently sent Staff Sgt. Ken Athans -- in the crowd control unit -- to study tactics from Montreal police. Several of the arrested said they were thrown to the ground by police, one slammed into a stone garbage bin, another kneed repeatedly in the back while face-down on the ground. Another woman was taken to St. Paul's Hospital for treatment of an injured wrist and ribs.

Trans rights bill supporters being targeted

On Wednesday June 6, Parliament voted to send private member's Bill C-279: An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) to committee for review as part of its trek toward passage. I had expressed concerns at that time about some possible changes that were being considered, but it remains to be seen in committee stage if that will happen. I do know that if Parliamentary support for the bill drops, those changes will become more likely, while better awareness could help to avert them.

Fifteen Conservative Members of Parliament joined with opposition MPs to help the bill get to this stage. LifeSiteNews, BC Parents and Teachers for Life, Campaign Life Coalition and several other large right-wing groups and media websites have called upon their legions to write to these MPs and excoriate them for supporting basic human rights protections for transsexual and transgender Canadians.

Holt Renfrew Union Drive Comes Up Short At Toronto Vote

Workers at a Toronto-area Holt Renfrew store have come up short in their bid to unionize.

Following a tense organizing drive, a majority of employees at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre location voted on Thursday against joining the United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada (UFCW).

According to the UFCW, the "no" vote came after an "aggressive campaign to deny workers the right to come together and have a say in their compensation and working conditions."

Canada U.S. Border Deal Allows U.S. To Share Canadian Border Info

OTTAWA - The United States will be allowed to share information about Canadians with other countries under a sweeping border deal.

The U.S. won't have to explicitly tell Canada about its plan to pass along the personal details in many cases, suggests a newly released binational privacy charter.

Information-sharing about security cases has sometimes been a sore point between the two countries since the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Even more ethical than you thought

As Thomas Mulcair can attest, it is rather easier to speak about the oil sands than it is to actually get up here and see what is going on. Fort McMurray, Alta. is remote, and while my first visit was rather longer than Mr. Mulcair’s, it was still only a full day.

Three years ago, upon the occasion of the merger of oil sands pioneer Suncor with Petro-Canada, this column examined some of the ethical questions posed by oil sands development. The argument then was just emerging about “ethical oil,” namely that Alberta oil is morally and strategically superior because it does not support odious regimes, from Venezuela to Saudi Arabia to Russia. The argument has only become stronger since then, propelled by Ezra Levant’s eponymous book, and adopted in the rhetoric of the federal government.

Paul Krugman Asks Economists To Sign 'Manifesto For Economic Sense'

Paul Krugman is upset by the way governments have handled the economic crisis and he wants other economists to be upset too and then sign something just to prove how upset they are.

Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, is asking anyone who agrees with his views to sign "A Manifesto for Economic Sense," according to his blog. He has partnered with British economist Richard Layard in developing the declaration for what they call an "evidence-based analysis of problems."

Matt Davis, Former GOP Spokesman, Suggests 'Armed Rebellion' After Supreme Court Ruling

Conservatives were united in their disappointment over the Supreme Court's upholding of President Barack Obama's health care law on Thursday. But one former GOP spokesman took things a bit further than the near-uniform vows to repeal the legislation.

Matt Davis, a Michigan attorney who was once the state Republican Party's spokesman, sent out an email that asked whether armed rebellion would be justified in the wake of the court's decision. According to Michigan Capital Confidential, a local news service that originally reported the missive, Davis sent it "moments after the Supreme Court ruling to numerous new media outlets and limited government activists."

John Roberts Outrages Conservatives In Health Care Ruling

In his majority 5-4 opinion on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the constitutionality of the signature domestic policy achievement of President Barack Obama's administration, the Affordable Care Act. In doing so, he and his court earned the ire of conservatives.

"This was an activist court that you saw today," Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told reporters. "Anytime the Supreme Court renders something constitutional that is clearly unconstitutional, that undermines the credibility of the Supreme Court. I do believe the court's credibility was undermined severely today," she said, later adding that Congress could now force you to buy Ikea furniture.

Health Care Dissent: Here's What The Conservative Wing Wanted To Happen

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney, reacting to the Supreme Court's health care ruling Thursday, said, "I agree with the dissent."

The dissent tosses out the entire health care law, dismissing the case for it as "feeble" and a "vast judicial overreach." It argues that "against a mountain of evidence," its backers offer only the "flimsiest of indications to the contrary."

Ruling Could Allow Republicans to Deny Medicaid to Millions of Poor Americans

The Affordable Care Act didn’t survive entirely as passed—somewhat lost amidst the intense focus on the individual mandate was a ruling that part of the law’s Medicaid expansion was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s modification of the law probably won’t have a fundamental, long-term impact, but does make it easier for rogue Republican governors to exempt their states from participating in the expansion—and could cost millions of low-income, uninsured Americans a chance at government health care.

First, a brief refresher on what the ACA did to Medicaid: as you may know, the program is run jointly by the states and the federal government to provide health care to (very) low-income Americans. States set up their Medicaid system according to federal regulations and get most of the money from the feds, while funding some of the program themselves. Healthcare reform aimed to expand coverage, in part, by expanding Medicaid to cover people up to 133 percent above the poverty line (as compared to 63 percent now)—that is, at or below income of $30,700 for a family of four. This expansion would extend coverage to 16 million additional people by 2019.

Pratt & Whitney Canada sent military copter tech to China

WASHINGTON— Pratt & Whitney Canada and its parent company, United Technologies, have been fined more than $75 million (U.S.) for selling China software that was used to develop and produce China’s first modern military attack helicopter.

As part of the settlement, Pratt & Whitney Canada agreed to plead guilty to two federal criminal charges—violating a U.S. export control law and making false statements. The charges were in connection with the export to China of U.S.-origin military software used in Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, which was used to test and develop China’s new Z-10 helicopter.

Tories, NDP battling for small business, survey suggests

The NDP is seen as the party most sensitive the needs of the unemployed but is also not far behind the Conservatives when it comes to small business, according to a Nanos survey for CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

The national online survey was conducted in the wake of the government's controversial omnibus budget implementation bill, which included changes to Employment Insurance to set new criteria for suitable employment for people making EI claims. The changes mean people who make more frequent or longer-running claims will have to consider increasingly lower-paying jobs or have their EI payments cut off.

Del Mastro donors offer to speak to Election Canada if given immunity

OTTAWA — Donors who say they were reimbursed for contributions they made to Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s 2008 election campaign have offered to speak to Elections Canada if given immunity from prosecution.

A lawyer representing some of the donors wrote to the elections watchdog to say they will provide details of a scheme that allegedly used payments from a Mississauga electrical company owned by Del Mastro’s cousin to reimburse donors.

Feds’ move to close world-renowned freshwater environmental research centre strikes a nerve: Forum Research poll

PARLIAMENT HILL—The federal government’s closure of a world-renowned freshwater environmental research centre deep in the northern forests of Ontario has struck a nerve with Canadians from coast to coast, a Forum Research poll has found.

The survey for The Hill Times on Wednesday this week suggested that 50 per cent of Canadians disapprove of the decision, part of sweeping spending cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and opposition MPs say the poll results suggest shutting down the centre has galvanized public opinion in conjunction with wider changes and limits to environmental protection contained in the government’s omnibus budget implementation legislation, Bill C-38.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

U.S. will be allowed to share Canadian border info under new privacy charter

OTTAWA - The United States will be allowed to share information about Canadians with other countries under a sweeping border deal.

The U.S. won't have to explicitly tell Canada about its plan to pass along the personal details in many cases, suggests a newly released binational privacy charter.

Information-sharing about security cases has sometimes been a sore point between the two countries since the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Federal Job Cuts Seen As Gutting Rural Towns

A senior official with the union representing federal government employees who is losing his own position says the latest round of job cuts is hurting rural areas hardest.

"These job losses are real difficult," said Tony White, a vice-president with the Canada, Employment and Immigration Union, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

"They're in rural areas, and when you lose a good-paying quality public service job to a small area, that's a big loss to the local area," White told CBC News Thursday.

Military police report has harsh words for Ottawa’s stonewalling

Canadians now know that Afghan security forces routinely beat Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects senseless with cudgels, pipes, wire cables and rubber hoses. They tortured teenagers. Burned suspects with cigarettes, tore out their nails and hung them from ceilings. A United Nations report last year confirmed the horrors. “Even stones confess here,” one jailer told a suspect.

Yet when a firestorm erupted in Parliament over fears that Canadian troops might be handing over detainees to torturers, threatening his minority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper shrugged off the concerns, saying “we have no evidence that supports the allegations.” While few detainees handed over by Canada have been shown in fact to be abused, much less tortured, the danger was real. Conservative complacency was indefensible. To this day we don’t know whether Canada should have been transferring prisoners.

Afghan prisoners and Ottawa’s cult of secrecy

The report into Canada’s handling of the abuse of Afghan prisoners doesn’t much deal with Afghan prisoners.

It is, however, a damning indictment of Ottawa’s cult of secrecy.

From the start the Military Police Complaints Commission, which produced Wednesday’s report, was precluded from investigating the broader question of whether higher-ups in the Canadian government knew that captured Afghan prisoners handed over to the country’s secret police were in danger of being tortured.

'Harper Hates Me' buttons spark conflict in public service

Public servants who got in trouble for wearing "Stephen Harper Hates Me" buttons to work are fighting back.

Several employees at the Canada Revenue Agency who were told to remove the buttons by their managers have filed grievances through their union to fight the order.

The buttons were made by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the largest union representing federal public servants, and have been circulating around the country. Some workers wore them at May Day rallies to mark International Workers Day and they were available at PSAC's national convention in Ottawa at the end of April.

Quebec court rejects emergency injunction against Bill 78. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, legal experts weigh in

Quebec Superior Court Chief Justice François Rolland on Wednesday rejected a motion filed by Quebec's student associations asking for an emergency injunction against certain elements of Quebec's contentious Bill 78.

In a twenty-one page decision released late Wednesday afternoon, Rolland found that the students case had the "appearance of right", but failed to meet the two other criteria for this type of emergency injunction, namely "irreparable prejudice" and "balance of inconvenience."

Board of Rabbis slams Harper government over Bill C-31

It is rather late in the day, but some prominent members of Canada's Jewish community are now vigorously protesting the government's refugee reform bill, C-31 - just as it has passed both the House and the Senate!

On Wednesday, the Toronto Board of Rabbis released a letter it sent to the Prime Minister, in which the Rabbis say they are "deeply concerned about proposed changes to the law that will affect refugees."

The letter enumerates many dangers the Rabbis see in the Bill, but places great emphasis on the safe designated country of origin provision.

G20 oversight dogged by poor communication, says report

Civilian oversight of police actions during the G20 summit in Toronto was significantly hampered by inadequate communication, a top-down approach by the federal government, and the inability of a key oversight agency to assert its role, according to a new report.

The independent report, commissioned by the Toronto Police Services Board, a civilian body that oversees police actions, found that "the board became a mere bystander in a process it was supposed to lead."

Fifty nine cents: An open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

My family came to Canada as refugees. My mother and father arrived in the country at Pier 21 in Halifax with a suitcase, the clothes on their back, and $20 in their pockets. Having access to health care was vitally important to them, not least to my mother when she became pregnant with me. I am a child of Canadian maternal health care.

My parents went on to give back to the country that had treated them generously and compassionately. My father became a physician and contributed a lifetime of work to the Canadian health care system. My mother became a pioneering environmentalist, conservationist, and educator. She is a recipient of both the Order of Canada and Order of New Brunswick in recognition for a lifetime of service to her adopted country.

High turnover at DFO threatens environmental reviews: records

OTTAWA - Heavy workloads and high turnover at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans could jeopardize the federal government's ability to protect Canadians from the dangerous impacts of industrial projects, say internal government records obtained by Postmedia News.

The warnings were made before the federal government started a series of multi-million-dollar budget cuts to scientific research and monitoring programs across several departments.

Federal government slammed for 'gutting' fisheries protection program

OTTAWA — The Harper government has announced major cuts to its fisheries habitat protection program, prompting a retired federal biologist to warn Wednesday of a dramatic increase in the risk of environmental damage.

The cuts coincide with Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield's launch of a public consultation process seeking input on how Canadian fisheries should be managed.