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, April 08, 2012

Pascal Abidor: McGill Student's Run-In With U.S. Border Agents Prompts Lawsuit

MONTREAL - A Montreal university student was detained at the U.S. border, held for several hours, interrogated, had his personal belongings searched and saw his computer confiscated for over a week.

What caught the authorities' attention? His doctoral research on Islamic studies, he says.

In a case that has attracted media attention in the U.S., Pascal Abidor has become embroiled in a drawn-out legal battle with the American government — and a poster child for civil-rights advocates defending the right to privacy and due process.

Abidor, a 28-year-old American and French dual citizen, was returning by train to Brooklyn in May 2010 when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent stopped him at the border in Champlain, N.Y.

The agent turned on Abidor's computer and found photos of rallies by the Hamas militant group. He says he explained that he had downloaded them from Google as part of his McGill University doctoral dissertation on the modern history of Shiites in Lebanon.

The agent also saw stamps in his passport that showed he had travelled between Jordan and Lebanon.

Cutting the Corp

CBC's proposed slashing of popular programming, and worse, the introduction of commercials on radio, should be met with some static.

This is the wrong direction for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., as it seeks to absorb $115 million in federal budget cuts.

CBC's mandate is very clear - to provide distinctively Canadian programming that "contributes to shared national consciousness and identity."

On radio, television and the web, the CBC's job is to reflect this diverse country and its regions back to Canadians. The mandate also says programming should "actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression," and has to be in both English and in French.

Of course, all of this costs money, and we commiserate with the situation the national broadcaster finds itself in. Like all traditional media, the industry is undergoing challenging times. The federal government, which funds about 64 per cent of the CBC budget, or $1.15 billion a year, is cutting that amount by 10 per cent, phased in over three years. That amounts to about $115 million that has to be found.

Immigrants renew Christian churches

With one hand, Rev. Ayodele Ayeni clasps Bill Fung's right foot. With the other, he pours water from a silver basin.

It's an ancient act of arresting simplicity. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus began the Last Supper hours before his crucifixion by wrapping a towel around his waist and washing his followers' feet.

Last Thursday, the 39-yearold Nigerian priest sang in Cantonese before preaching in English about the difference between the clean feet of his flock at Mary Help of Christians Chinese Catholic Parish and the dirty, open-toed sandalled feet Jesus would have encountered.

"When you wash those kinds of feet, you don't forget easily," Ayeni said with a laugh.

"Service, that is the message for today.

"Today is our turn to take care of one another."

Many aging churches face declining attendance, but for congregations being infused with new Canadians, there's a promise of resurrection and renewal that fits well with the message of Easter.

Ottawa needs to balance common sense and compassion in immigration reform

To hear Stephen Harper’s government tell it, Canada’s immigration system is in dire need of a fix, and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney intends to deliver it. In a meeting with the Star’s editorial board this past week Kenney sketched out bold plans for a faster, more flexible system that will give “the best and the brightest” newcomers a better chance to succeed, and will rely less on temporary workers.

In effect, Kenney envisages filling gaps in the labour market by importing more highly qualified workers on a permanent basis, helping them to hit the ground running, and curbing our reliance on temporary foreign workers in areas where joblessness is high.

While he has come in for criticism, especially on plans to curb the number of asylum-seekers we admit, there’s much to like in his approach to the broader immigration file. Provided, that is, that he leavens common sense with compassion.

Importantly, Kenney committed his government to maintaining Canada’s intake of more than 250,000 immigrants a year. We will remain one of the developed world’s welcoming countries, benefiting from the skills, resources, energy and fresh ideas that newcomers bring. That’s good policy when our labour force is aging.

The missing accountability of the political masters

The Auditor-General’s scathing censure of a badly mismanaged F-35 fighter jet procurement process is necessarily focused on the manifold failures of bureaucrats. That is what the Auditor-General does – audit the actions of public servants. But where is the accountability for their political masters, the ministers who presided over this fiasco?

Auditor-General Michael Ferguson’s report outlines the suppression of information and the absence of due diligence by bureaucrats. But the failures of the Conservative government, and particularly Peter MacKay, the minister on whose watch much of this transpired, were serious ones, and yesterday, Mr. Ferguson said the cabinet knew more than it let on publicly. The government needs to accept responsibility for its failings, and explain the discrepancy in figures.

When Mr. Ferguson writes, “Briefing materials did not inform senior decision makers, central agencies, and the Minister of the problems and associated risks of relying on the F-35 to replace the CF-18. Nor did National Defence provide complete cost information to parliamentarians,” it is as much an indictment of the Minister of National Defence as it is of public servants. Where was the due diligence at the ministerial level? The duties of a minister on the most costly military acquisition in Canadian history extended beyond cockpit photo-ops.

Oliver says comfortable with pipeline timelines; aboriginals consider lawsuit

The federal government’s decision to put a cap on how long environmental assessment hearings can drag on isn’t expected to affect the Northern Gateway pipeline project, but aboriginal reaction to the change probably will.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says Ottawa isn’t planning to fast-track the approval process for the proposed $5.5-billion pipeline, despite his government’s announcement in last month’s budget they would limit project reviews to 24 months.

The Gateway assessment was always scheduled to be completed within that time frame.

But aboriginal leaders in British Columbia say they are becoming increasingly dismayed with the public hearing process and are now seriously considering bypassing the hearings and heading straight to court.

Coastal First Nations spokesman Art Sterritt said the cancellation of a day-and-a-half of scheduled review panel hearings in the central B.C. coastal community of Bella Bella last week signalled to many aboriginals that Ottawa has already heard enough from Northern Gateway’s opponents.

The real reason why Canada is cozying up to Burma’s dictators

Now we know why Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was so anxious to trek to Burma last month.

Baird showed up in the southeast Asian country ostensibly to argue for human rights and, in particular, to laud the military dictatorship for letting dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters contest seats in Burma’s army-dominated legislature.

But recent rumblings from world capitals confirm that the real reason was the usual one: resources.

Resource-rich Burma is subject to strict economic sanctions by Western countries. Big companies — and particularly big oil companies — are lobbying hard to have those sanctions lifted.

And Canada hopes to have its firms front and centre when the great barbecue begins.

The fact that Burma’s military-backed leaders allowed any opening toward democracy — and that Suu Kyi gave them her imprimatur — offers Western countries the excuse they need to let trade and investment rip.

The United States has already lifted some sanctions against Burma. The Financial Times reports that more will be relaxed soon.

Pipeline opposition likely to grow as supertanker risk assessed

Albertans seem mystified by concerns about risks posed by a pipeline to the sea from their landlocked prairie bitumen mines, but that's because they don't grasp the intense relationship British Columbians have with their wild coast.

It's stunningly beautiful. It's inhabited by rare and astonishing species, from the white Kermode "spirit" bear to the iconic sea otter, and from glass sponges surviving from the Jurassic to highly evolved killer whales, porpoises and other cetaceans. It's inherent to the province's identity.

And it's a major driver in B.C.'s $7-billion-a-year tourist industry, which employs more than 127,000 people. So the relationship is financial as well as esthetic.

Recent polls show that although there appears to be majority support for the pro-posed $5.5-billion Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would move 190 million barrels a year of diluted bitumen to upgraders in Asia, things aren't always exactly what they seem to be.

One Mustel Group poll commissioned by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart found that while 50.1 per cent of its respondents favoured the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, 41.7 per cent were opposed.

Committed Conservative and Liberal voters, the parties of business, supported the project by a wide margin - 67 to 22 for Tories, 64-34 for Grits - while NDP supporters were opposed 58-34 and Greens were predict-ably opposed 72-24.

Atlanta Public Schools Redistricting: Image Of Superintendent Erroll Davis In KKK Robe Sparks Outcry Amid Closure Debate

From a contentious school redistricting debate among Atlanta Public Schools has emerged an even more controversial flier that depicts APS Superintendent Erroll Davis in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

"They erased answers, I erase black schools," the bill reads, referencing the widespread teacher cheating scandal in Atlanta that shook the country and the current school redistricting plan that could shut down schools in some of the city's oldest black communities. The flyer made its rounds at a meeting Thursday between APS officials and parents of D.H. Stanton Elementary, the only school in Peoplestown, Ga., which could face closure under the APS plan.

The school district has about 47,000 students but more than 60,000 seats, WSBTV reports. APS seeks to close the less populated schools in an effort to save money. It would solve overcrowding on the north side and eliminate empty seats on the south side, according to WXIA. But that also happens to overlap with a number of the district's black communities, which has stirred protest.

"Most of our schools are in African-American neighborhoods, and if we close the schools that I recommend, most of our schools will still be in African-American neighborhoods," Davis said at a rezoning hearing last month, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "Race is not a factor in this."

Bye Bye Snow and Ice (and a Whole Lot More)

We've heard a lot about the  life-threatening challenges facing penguins and polar bears as snow and ice disappear. But what about all the other life of the cryosphere—the parts of Earth where water is in its solid state for at least one month of the year (map below)? From a new paper in Bioscience:
Global average air temperature has warmed by 1 Celsius (°C) over the past century, and in response, the cryosphere—the part of the Earth’s surface most influenced by ice and snow—is changing. Specifically, alpine glaciers are retreating, the expanse of Arctic sea ice has been shrinking, the thickness and duration of winter snowpacks are diminishing, permafrost has been melting, and the ice cover on lakes and rivers has been appearing later in the year and melting out earlier. Although these changes are relatively well documented, the ecological responses and long-term consequences that they initiate are not.

Make Your Taxes Disappear!

IN A SEASON OF campaign rallies and million-dollar ad buys, President Bush opted for one decidedly understated ceremony. On October 22, just 11 days before the election, he boarded Air Force One to sign $137 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, one of the largest industry giveaways in two decades. This was his fifth major tax cut, but this time there was no glad-handing, no photo op—just a one-sentence press release. The president had nothing to brag about. His signature expanded exactly the sort of tax avoidance he had railed against at a campaign rally that morning: "The rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason when it comes to taxes," Bush had told a roaring audience at a hockey arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. "That's to slip the bill, and stick you with it."

It was an apt description of the vaingloriously named American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. Though the law began as an effort to end a $5 billion-a-year corporate tax subsidy that had been declared illegal by the World Trade Organization, it had grown into a hydra-headed beast. The law's principal author, Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), jokingly referred to it as "Miss Piggy" on the House floor. Arizona Senator John McCain decried "the worst example of the influence of special interests that I have ever seen." The president's own Treasury secretary, John Snow, bemoaned the myriad "tax provisions that benefit few taxpayers." Top White House economists protested one new loophole that would cut $3 billion, primarily from the taxes of pharmaceutical and high-tech companies, without yielding "any substantial economic benefits."

Rogers Contracts Push The Envelope, Lawyer Says

Some of the conditions that Rogers Communications imposes on customers in fixed-term contracts are legally questionable, according to an expert at the University of Ottawa.

At issue is the company's practice of boosting service rates for things such as high-speed internet, home phone and cable TV, leaving some customers in fixed-term contracts in the unenviable position of either accepting the new prices or paying expensive fees to end their contract.

That "pushes the line of what is allowed legally," said Anthony Daimsis, a lawyer who specializes in Canadian contract law.

He told CBC's Marketplace that in terms of consumer protection, "it should simply not be allowed — it's what the law would call an unconscionable term."

Rogers stands by the practice, saying in a statement that "provisions allowing us to make changes to rates in our Terms of Service are fair to customers, are clearly disclosed and are in compliance with all applicable consumer protection legislation."

The company also says that customers who sign up for fixed-rate contracts are guaranteed a constant price for the duration of the term.

Ontario Couple Loses Wind Turbines Property Tax Case

An Ontario couple who launched a case arguing that nearby wind turbines devalued their waterfront home and should be a factor in their property assessment has lost the challenge.

A two-person panel from the province's Assessment Review Board has ruled that proximity to wind turbines would not be a factor in deciding how much property tax Edward and Gail Kenney should pay.

The Kenneys first told CBC News last October about the potentially precedent-setting court challenge against the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, a Crown corporation in charge of assigning values to properties for tax purposes.

The couple has lived on Wolfe Island for 48 years and appealed their property tax assessments on the grounds that the 86 wind turbines erected around their home brought unwanted noise and posed a health concern.

“We figure we’ve lost 40 to 50 per cent of the value of these places," Edward Kenney told CBC News.

But the decision from the review board begged to differ, saying there was no such evidence the turbines negatively impacted property values.

The Kenneys' property tax assessment was set at $357,000 in 2010. They had said there had been virtually no real estate sales from over a three-year period near the turbines on Wolfe Island.

Grassroots organizations concerned about potential adverse health effects linked to wind turbines say that the constant, low-frequency noise emitted can disturb sleep or cause headaches and nosebleeds. Champions of wind energy, however, say there are no such health risks and argue that wind farms are a prime example of clean energy.

Original Article
Source: Huff
Author: cbc

Canada Natural Resources: Mark Carney Urges Sustainable Development

OTTAWA - Part of the solution to Canada's poor export performance lies with natural resources, but simply pumping oil out the door won't suffice, says the governor of the Bank of Canada.

Mark Carney recently chastised Canadian business for being trade laggards since the 2008 recession, saying they have not done enough to infiltrate growing markets.

Carney said opportunities in natural resources abound in Canada, but they need to be developed quickly, efficiently — and sustainably.

"These opportunities exist at a time when there are other opportunities in other jurisdictions, other countries. So there is an element of competition here, and we need to be appropriately efficient in their development," Carney said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Canadian business should count on commodities prices and the Canadian dollar staying relatively strong over the long term and calculate their costs and revenues accordingly, he said.

"The scale of the natural resources opportunities are huge (and) should be developed in a sustainable way," he stressed, opting to use the "sustainable" word at a time when the Conservative government shies away from it. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's pre-budget directives dropped the notion of sustainable development and replaced it with "responsible" exploitation of resources.

Struggling to get it Right

Back in the late ’80s, when the federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada became too “progressive” — read, liberal — the Reform Party was born so fiscal conservatives could find shelter while weathering the hurt of their political abandonment.

In the mid-90s, when NDP Ontario Premier Bob Rae had maxed out his province’s credit card and finally called an election, the Common Sense Revolution of Tory Leader Mike Harris came out of nowhere, blew by front-running Liberal Lyn McLeod, and took Ontario by storm.

This was more like it.

There is perhaps a modest western version of this happening in Alberta where Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith is trying to lure true conservatives out from under the all party holding tank of the ruling Progressive Conservatives, and therefore form a government following the April 23 election with a party that will re-embrace conservative pioneerism.

What Mike Harris did in Ontario was hammer home the party’s promise to lower taxes and reduce the welfare rolls and, unlike too many politicians of today, he actually lived up to his vow to do exactly what he said he would do.

Fish, politics and that awful, sinking feeling

The more I observe the machinations of today's fishery, the more I have this sinking feeling about its future.

It's best summed up by quoting one pithy remark from former fisheries minister John Crosbie: the problem with the fishery, he said, is that it is completely surrounded and governed by politics.

Not all politics is bad, mind you. Some people benefit greatly from political decisions.

Take, for example, the City of Mount Pearl. Some people feel that Mount Pearl is no more a city than the City of Mundy Pond or the City of Marystown.

Mount Pearl was simply the beneficiary of a very astute politician, Tory Neil Windsor. He also happened to be Mount Pearl's former "Town" Engineer, and happened to become the province's minister of finance.

He delivered a big, fat political gift that people in Mount Pearl must still be grateful for; that it became a city! A town with city status that has no industry, no hospital, no bus service, no fire department of its own, no airport, no waste disposal system, no water supply, few buildings over five stories, and until recently, the best restaurant in town was at the local Irving service station in Donovans.

Wildrose makes hay as PCs lose their way

With just two weeks to go, time is running out for Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives. As of today, several polls show the upstart Wildrose Party poised to form government. I think I know why.

The PCs have ruled Alberta for 41 years, and for the last many years at least they ruled with an ironic fist.

In other words, for many of the senior leaders in the PC party, the “Conservative” in Progressive Conservative is a noun, not an adjective.

They call themselves Conservatives but have rejected the conservative approach to governing.

If it pleases the court of public opinion, I offer as an example a single piece of startling evidence.

In January, Calgary’s School of Public Policy released a report showing wage increases for Alberta’s public sector employees ate up 95% of the total increase in government revenues between 2000 and 2010, far outstripping public sector wage growth in other provinces.

Yes, that’s right, 95%, which happens to rhyme with “all our future spent.”

So much for pro-choice

Do you think doctors who are opposed to abortion on religious grounds should be forced by the government to perform them anyway?

It’s not a real issue in Canada, where abortions are available on demand, for any reason or no reason, from the moment of conception until the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayers.

Doctors who believe in it do it. Doctors who don’t, don’t.

Canada has no legal limits on abortion whatsoever. It’s a pro-choice utopia.

But on the campaign trail last week, Alberta Premier Alison Redford said she no longer believes abortion is a matter of personal conscience.

True, for years, she was the justice minister of Alberta where that was the rule. But Redford is losing the Alberta election badly — a new poll put her 17 points behind the upstart Wildrose party, with just two weeks to the election —so she hit the panic button.

So, off the cuff, she told reporters that doctors should now be compelled to provide abortions on demand, even if they don’t believe in it. She styled it as an attack on the Wildrose party, whose platform supports freedom of conscience— like Redford herself did, until about fifteen minutes ago.

Prime Minister Harper muzzles diplomats and foreign agencies

The Stephen Harper government was ready to splurge $25 billion or more for fighter jets. It’s spending $9 billion for jails we don’t need. But it has no money for programs and agencies it does not like. It has been axing or starving them — for example, the CBC, the Canadian International Development Agency, the foreign affairs department and the Montreal-based human rights group, Rights & Democracy, in this latest round of cuts alone.

Harper came to office in 2006 harbouring a deep distrust of the federal bureaucracy, which he considered a catacomb of Liberal sympathizers. He held a particular animus for foreign affairs, whose officials he thought of as elitist, having never travelled abroad. More crucially, he feared their resistance to his blind support of Israel.

His compulsive need to control all government communications hit our diplomats particularly hard. It hobbled their ability to publicly speak for Canada, something they have long been very good at. He muzzled them so much that, in 2008, the John Manley commission on Afghanistan publicly criticized him for preventing our embassies and ambassadors from representing our interests abroad.

Harper’s latest cut of $523.5 million over four years at foreign affairs comes on top of two earlier ones. He may be driven partly by the populist notion of stripping the pinstriped brigade of their martini lunches. But in reality, Canadian diplomats are among the hardest working civil servants, besides being among the brightest yet quintessentially modest Canadians.

Canada 2013: a world of fun

With Danielle Smith stomping across Alberta in the boots of history (OK, lousy metaphor), Pauline Marois richly earning the most awkward political nickname in memory (she’s la dame du béton, the woman of concrete, but whatever: she seems on track to win 85 of 125 seats at the next election) and the British Columbia centre-right hopelessly divided, it’s time to ponder the mess Canada might be in in a year.

Or not. You know, polls are for dogs, these are tidings of Christmases which may be, not Christmases which must be, etc. etc. blah de frickin blah. But let’s pretend.

Smith is likely to be premier of Alberta in two weeks. This is in some ways the least problematic outcome for Stephen Harper, not just because Smith and Harper agree on most things but because Smith has shown no tendency to want to run against Ottawa. She was in Ottawa several weeks ago and delivered a perfect snoozer of a lunchtime speech. Which may even have been the goal.

Canadians not misled on F-35 costs, Tory MP says

A top Conservative MP responsible for military procurement insists the Conservative government did not mislead Canadians over the costs of F-35s slated to replace Canada's fleet of F-18 military jets.

The comments come after the auditor general said this week that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet would have known the pricetag for the military aircraft was higher than what the public was told.

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, Conservative MP Chris Alexander tells host Evan Solomon he "honestly" doesn't think Canadians were misled on the costs.

When Solomon asked Alexander why the full costs were not disclosed in Parliament, Alexander appeared to point the finger at officials at the Department of National Defence (DND), saying the answer was in the auditor general's report.

"Not all the information that was in the department flowed where it needed to go, upwards and to other departments," said Alexander who serves as parliamentary secretary to National Defence Minister Peter Mackay.

But when pressed on the question of who was responsible for the lack of due diligence, Alexander answered: "We are."

Fight between ‘blue’ and ‘red’ conservatives may turn air purple, political experts say

The Wildrose juggernaut that now threatens to bring down the Tory dynasty was painstakingly constructed over the past five years by disaffected blue Tories, with help from key strategists allied with Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives.

While the party’s surge in the polls might seem to have come out of nowhere, its backers have been carefully setting the stage for the Wildrose ascendance for more than five years.

The movement began in earnest in 2007, when former premier Ed Stelmach announced an independent review of oil and gas royalties.

Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt said the big-tent Tory party had always contained a small, very conservative right wing, which alternately tried to gain control or break away from time to time, to no avail. The royalty review made the split possible.

“The royalty review was critical to the rise of the Wildrose,” Bratt said. “That’s when money started to flow to the Wildrose. … It gave them a base. It gave them some anger to work with. They mobilized.”

That anger was primarily in the oilpatch, and the money was flowing in from the towers in Calgary. But from the outset the party cultivated a strong populist stance, and a review of contribution records shows money coming from individual Albertans as well.

Canadians not misled on F-35 costs: MacKay

The federal government didn't mislead Parliament or the public over the cost of buying F-35 fighter jets, it simply didn't include items such as paying pilots, fuel and maintenance over the life of the aircraft, the defence minister says.

"The additional $10 billion was money that you could describe as sunk costs," Peter MacKay told CTV's Question Period Sunday.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson's report last week stated the jets would cost $25 billion and not the $15 billion price tag the federal government has put on the F-35s.

Ferguson also said Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet would have known the cost was higher than what the public was told.

But the $10 billion discrepancy includes money the government already pays to keep the country's F-18 jets flying, MacKay said from his riding in New Glasgow, N.S.

"So there's a different interpretation," he said.

"But the way acquisitions have always been done is to key in on the actual costs of new equipment and that is the way that this number was arrived at.

Arrests made in shootings that terrorized Tulsa's black community

Police backed by a helicopter arrested two men early Sunday and said they would face murder charges in the recent shootings that terrorized Tulsa's black community and left three people dead and two others critically wounded.

Police spokesman Officer Jason Willingham said the two men were arrested at a home just north of Tulsa about 2 a.m. Sunday and were expected to be charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill in the spate of shootings early Friday. He said police made the arrests after receiving an anonymous tip.

While police identified the men as white and all the victims are black, authorities have not described the shootings as racially motivated and declined to discuss that issue Sunday.

Community leaders, however, expressed concern about the motivation for the shootings on Tulsa's predominantly black north side, as well as the possibility that they would provoke a vigilante response. Rev. Warren Blakney Sr., president of the Tulsa NAACP, said Sunday that word of the arrests had provided a great sense of relief.

“The community once again can go about its business without fear of there being a shooter on the streets on today, on Easter morning,” he said.

Ban on Gideon Bible handout at public schools sparks torrent of hate mail

A rural Ontario public school board’s decision to ban distribution of Gideon Bibles to its young students has unleashed a torrent of threatening calls and hateful emails directed at trustees.

Some messages to the Bluewater District School Board express racist sentiment and question trustees’ patriotism.

“When are you ‘politically correct’ idiots, with your heads buried in the sand, going to realize that every action you take to destroy Canadian heritage ...?” one email began.

“Allowing newcomers to Canada the ability to walk all over our heritage has got to stop before they carry us into the realm of a warring nation like the one they often left behind,” another writer said.

The invective has unnerved some trustees as they prepare to formalize the ban on distribution of all noninstructional religious materials prompted by a parent’s complaint about the decades-old tradition of offering free Gideon Bibles to Grade 5 students.

Trustee Fran Morgan called the “onslaught” of messages “really disturbing,” and said it has made her uneasy about driving the 30 kilometres to board meetings at night by herself.

“I really do feel threatened by it,” Morgan said from Griersville, Ont. “It’s been very unpleasant.”