Democracy Gone Astray

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

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

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Canada Immigration: Jason Kenney's Reforms Will See Employers Selecting Newcomers

If Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has his way, employers will soon play a much more active role in selecting newcomers, and those chosen will be put on a fast-track to admission to Canada.

But Kenney disputes the notion that the reforms will cede too much control to private interests.

“The reforms are not about completely handing over to employers the power of selection, but rather about increasing their role,” he told The Huffington Post Canada this week. “There will continue to be a certain criteria that people have to meet.”

In an editorial board meeting with HuffPost, Kenney detailed the Conservative government’s plan to better align Canada’s immigration system with labour market needs, and address a skills mismatch that he says has led to “a huge waste of human talent.”

“I think it’s almost immoral to invite people from the highest socioeconomic status in their countries of origin to come here to Canada and face an uncertain future [...] to get stuck in perpetual unemployment,” he said. “This makes no sense in a country with a skilled labour shortage.”

His solution: develop an Internet-based system that allows employers facing a labour crunch to select immigrants from a pool of qualified would-be Canadians.

The Canadian Charter of Shortcomings and Pitfalls

It was raining that day on Parliament Hill when I and countless other proud Canadians stood in the rain to witness Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II sign the Constitution thirty years ago. Canada had at long last broken free of its colonial status.

Thrown into the bargain was a controversial Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Although one of Trudeau's few real achievements, the Charter has, nonetheless, been a disappointment. Intended to enshrine individual rights in the constitution, the charter has in many ways come up short.

First, the existence of that pesky notwithstanding clause means that governments can always override the Charter if they see fit. While the argument for parliament supremacy is compelling, it is little consolation for non-francophones living in Quebec where the provincial government has repeatedly used the notwithstanding clause to circumscribe minority linguistic rights. We should not be surprised that majorities sometimes act like majorities. That's why we have a Charter. Too bad that when it really counts, the rights of minorities can still be sacrificed.

Above all else, F-35 debate poses questions about Canadian defence policy

If and when Canada buys the F-35, its air force will be equipped with new capabilities that could have it fighting very different wars. Some argue that this new reality makes the debate about fighter jets as much about policy as it is about price.

Over at the Ottawa Citizen earlier this week, Eugene Lang, former Finance Canada official and co-founder of progressive think-tank Canada 2020, argued that the F-35 discussion ought to be essentially about capability.

Militaries are often criticized for “fighting the last war,” Lang wrote, and with the F-35 and its stealth capability, Canada seems to be prepared to not allow that to happen. Canada has the ability to be at the “pointy” end of conflicts – ones in which Canada would be on the leading edge, Lang writes.

That next war, the one Canada might need to fight, he says, is unlike any it has fought during the past 60 years.

Scientist mocks phone-in solution to disaster response following federal cuts

OTTAWA — Multimillion-dollar cuts to a team in charge of cleaning up environmental disasters is "an abrogation" of responsibilities that puts the health and safety of Canadians in jeopardy, says a retired Environment Canada scientist who co-ordinated national response to emergencies.

The government has slashed $3.78 million in funding to the response team, known officially as the Environmental Emergencies Program, choosing a "nationally co-ordinated model" that would provide advice "by phone" instead of on-the-ground support from regional offices.

Luke Trip, who managed the national centre that responded to oil and pipeline spills, toxic accidents and fires, train derailments, shipwrecks or marine disasters across the country, mocked the government's explanation, suggesting in an interview that the cuts would also be politically dangerous for the career of Environment Minister Peter Kent.

"We usually sent Environment Canada people out because they were called 'environmental emergencies,' " said Trip, 63, who now lives in a suburb west of Montreal. "Health Canada deals with 'health emergencies.' Agriculture deals with 'agricultural emergencies.' The Post Office deals with 'postal emergencies.' You catch my drift? To me, it seems it's an abrogation of responsibilities in the interest of saving money, I guess."

Defiant defence: Alberta Wildrose leader stands up for controversial candidates

CALGARY - Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith has offered her staunchest defence yet of two candidates whose race-based comments and anti-gay writings have seized the agenda during the last week of a pitched Alberta election campaign.

With the mayors of the province's two largest cities calling on Smith to denounce the two hopefuls and the Liberals labelling her party a bunch of "bigots," Smith fired back Friday, saying she refuses to throw anyone "under the bus."

"I take it personally when accusations of racism and bigotry are aimed at me and at my party," Smith said at a campaign stop in Calgary. "Let me be perfectly clear — a Wildrose government will not tolerate discrimination against any individual on the basis of ethnicity, religion, beliefs, background, disability or sexual orientation ... period."

Alberta is in the grips of one of the most intense election battles in decades as the Wildrose tries to topple 40-plus years of Progressive Conservative government. Voters head to the polls Monday.

Polls put Smith's party in front. But a handful of recent surveys suggest the Wildrose's large early lead over Premier Alison Redford's team has slipped somewhat. Feeling the squeeze, the Opposition Liberals have started calling the election a choice between "a bunch of bullies" and "a bunch of bigots."

Harper quietly holds face-to-face talks with Chinese propaganda chief

One of China’s most powerful figures slipped into Ottawa unannounced. Unless you were watching Chinese TV.

Li Changchun is ranked No. 5 in the Chinese hierarchy, one of the nine members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, and the party’s propaganda chief. When he arrived in Ottawa Thursday, he met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The government of Canada had never announced the powerful official was coming.

However, Mr. Li’s visit was covered widely by Chinese television and print media like state news agency Xinhua. And then, after Mr. Li’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper’s PMO sent out a photograph of the two men chatting, just before 8:30 on Thursday night. It was the first time they’d told the press about Mr. Li’s visit.

On Friday, the PMO would not say what the two discussed and played down the face-to-face meeting as a “courtesy call.”

Food security: Why hunger is a farm issue

A nation that cannot feed itself is a nation that is inherently food insecure. Welcome to Canada, 21st Century.

Canada is a nation that imports almost as much food as it exports. In many cases the same products go out and come in. It is a nation that has systematically encouraged food supply from long distances. It has discouraged mixed crop regionally based farmers in favour of large-scale consolidation of agricultural production, mostly for export. More than food security (everyone gets to eat) we need food sovereignty (where we retain control of our food supply). In 1969, the federal government announced that there were too many farmers. Policy, subsidies and programs since then have worked to rectify that “problem”.

This article explores one link in the chain that has reduced Canada’s ability to feed itself: loss of farmland for established farmers and challenges in access for new farmers.

Since 1921, Ontario has lost 9 million acres of farmland. In the last two decades, the province lost 25,000 farms through consolidation or transfer to other uses. Farms over 2000 acres are the fastest growing farm type, mostly farms for large dairy or cash crop export operations.

One wild rise for one wild rose

In a Calgary hotel bar, a long-time newspaper and TV pundit sips white wine and plays the favourite sport of the Alberta literati: arguing about the province’s weird political history. She has a theory. (Everyone has a theory.) It is not a bad one.

“The sudden regime changes that Alberta is famous for seem to follow the evolution of new media,” she explains. “The 1935 election, the Social Credit election, was a radio election. [William] Aberhart won because he mastered a new medium. The 1971 election was a TV election. The baby boomers responded to a young leader, Peter Lougheed, who looked like them.”

“And now,” she says, “I think we are looking at a social media election.”

The speaker is referring obliquely to Danielle Smith, whose Wildrose party is dominating polls with nine short days left in the 2012 election campaign. The speaker also happens to be Danielle Smith. After a long day on the road, serving ice cream in Strathmore and visiting a trade show in Didsbury and play-acting as a firefighter in Sundre, the 41-year-old leader relaxes by reverting to the observer-commentator role she has played since university, bantering with her staff about Facebook and Twitter as forces for generational change.

If a stranger to Alberta walked into the bar there is no way he would know which one of these people might be the premier-elect nine days from now. Only briefly does Smith stop to notice how schizoid the scene is. “This is fun. It’s like being back in the Herald newsroom,” she declares with a sigh.

Attawapiskat residents complained to Ottawa about Chief Theresa Spence

OTTAWA—Not everyone in the troubled community of Attawapiskat agreed with the way local leadership handled the housing crisis last fall, with some residents going so far as to complain to the Conservative government.

The Star obtained documents through Access to Information legislation that show a handful of residents was angry enough about the way Chief Theresa Spence was managing the housing shortage that they filed complaints with Aboriginal Affairs.

The Cree community of 2,000 declared a state of emergency at the end of October last year as winter approached with some families living in makeshift housing, sometimes without plumbing or insulation.

The Conservative government responded by appointing a third-party manager tasked with taking control of band council spending and ordering an independent audit of its books. The government later bought 22 modular homes and renovated three existing houses.

The community kicked the third-party manager out of Attawapiskat and then fought his appointment all the way to federal court before losing the case. The third-party manager left Thursday.

Alberta election: The education of Danielle Smith

CALGARY—Asked once why the upstart Wildrose Alliance was a party to watch, political scientist and Stephen Harper’s former adviser Tom Flanagan said the reason was one person: leader Danielle Smith.

Of all the students he had taught, Flanagan said in an interview three years ago, Smith was the most brilliant student he could remember.

In his statistics course, a notoriously tough senior political science class he taught at the University of Calgary, Flanagan remembered Smith as the top student in that class.

Smith, a former newspaper columnist for the Calgary Herald and researcher for the Fraser Institute, recalls her professor’s assessment a bit differently.

She took that class with her then-boyfriend, who was too busy with his job working for Conservative MP Art Hanger to do his assignments.

“I ended up doing the course work for both my boyfriend and me so Tom saw that I was a fairly hard worker. He kept marking my boyfriend with a higher grade and I ended up with a lower grade,” Smith said in an interview, with a laugh. “He gave me a B+ but he thinks he gave me a higher grade.”

Charest speech erupts into rowdy protest in Montreal

MONTREAL—A spring of discontent in Quebec characterized by scenes of red-clad student protesters erupted into something darker Friday.

Demonstrators hurled projectiles from rocks to flower pots in downtown Montreal, disrupting political events indoors and committing vandalism outdoors. Riot police fought back by swinging batons and firing rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters into the crowd.

Police said some vandals even tossed rocks from an overpass onto a busy downtown expressway. There were no reports of any injuries in those incidents.

But several people were injured — reportedly including police officers — during protests of a broader nature than the weeks-long anti-tuition demonstrations that have occasionally snared traffic in cities across Quebec.

Provincial police were called in as local officers struggled to handle crowds that disrupted two separate events, including one featuring Premier Jean Charest and, to a lesser extent, one involving federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

A few participants stressed one message: This isn't just about university fees anymore.

Mexico passes climate-change law

The Mexican legislature passed one of the strongest national climate-change laws so far on 19 April. Mexico, which ranks 11th in the world for both the size of its economy and its level of carbon emissions, joins the United Kingdom in having legally binding emissions goals aimed at stemming the effects of climate change.

After three years of debate and revisions, the bill passed in Mexico’s lower house with a vote of 128 for and 10 against, and was later passed unanimously by the Senate. The new law contains many sweeping provisions to mitigate climate change, including a mandate to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050.

Furthermore, it stipulates that 35% of the country's energy should come from renewable sources by 2024, and requires mandatory emissions reporting by the country's largest polluters. The act also establishes a commission to oversee implementation, and encourages development of a carbon-trading scheme. Although there was initial resistance from Mexico's steel and cement industries, the bill passed with bipartisan support.
Global trend

Experts say that Mexico's climate bill reflects a global trend in which individual states and countries, frustrated with stalled United Nations climate agreements, have begun implementing their own emissions regulations.

British Columbia and pipeline expansions: What's in it for us?

As yet another proposal emerges to carry ever-greater volumes of Alberta oil to the west coast, British Columbians have every good reason to ask: What's in it for us?

Word surfaced last week that Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, a Houston-based pipeline company, hopes to nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline, moving oilsands crude through B.C. to its Burnaby terminal on Burrard Inlet.

The project would see daily tanker export of oilsands product out of an area globally renowned for its natural beauty and lofty green aspirations.

Of course, environmentalists and aboriginal groups have long opposed Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipe-line, a separate plan envisioning a twinned pipeline that would snake from Edmonton to the northern B.C. port of Kitimat. Tankers then would move through narrow channels adjacent to the Great Bear Rainforest to reach open sea, and markets in Asia.

Gateway is in the process of going through federal regulatory review, with recommendations due in 2013.

The fact is, Alberta badly needs B.C. to be its new best friend because oil shipped to Asian markets would fetch a world price - higher than the North American price that companies in landlocked Alberta now fetch for the resource.

The Canadian government’s treatment of Omar Khadr has been a disgrace.

Few Canadians lose sleep over Omar Khadr, who has spent 10 years in the rough clutches of what passes for American military justice. Yet the abuse he has suffered with the complicity of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government and that of its Liberal predecessors has shamed Canada. His expected return from Guantanamo Bay, while welcome, does us no great credit either.

As the legal machinery to repatriate Khadr creaked into motion this week Ottawa obtusely continued to express no burning desire to get him home where he will serve out his sentence for killing a U.S. soldier. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews will do the Americans a favour by considering transferring Khadr back here, was the official line. Such is the shabby close to an infamous case in which Ottawa refused to go to bat for one of our own.

U.S. President Barack Obama once declared Gitmo a “legal black hole” predicated on a “dangerously flawed legal approach” that “compromised our core values.” Khadr finally buckled to that ugly system in 2010 and surrendered the guilty plea to murder and war crimes that it was designed to elicit. His plea bargain was a “hellish decision” to preclude trial in a sham court and the risk of a life sentence. He got eight years, including one more at Gitmo.

Khadr, now 25, was pushed to fight in Afghanistan by his al-Qaida-linked father. He confessed to planting bombs and to throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier during a firefight in 2002 when he was 15, in which he was hurt and captured. U.S. officials threatened him with gang rape, denied him counsel, deprived him of sleep, and set a precedent by charging him with war crimes as a juvenile.

The Americans now want him gone, for reasons of their own. Hopefully, he will be paroled soon after he returns. He has spent far more time behind bars than he would have in Canada, had he been convicted here in a credible court of murder as a young offender.

Through it all, as Canada’s allies successfully lobbied to free their nationals from Gitmo, the Harper government wilfully neglected Khadr. It never forcefully protested his mistreatment, criticized his prosecution, or asked for leniency. It took the obtuse view that justice was taking its course. It washed its hands of a young Canadian, leaving him to his fate. It failed a citizen, and disgraced itself.

Original Article
Source: Star
Author: editorial

Proposed immigration reform sparks worry

International students will be ushered into citizenship, a new category of skilled tradespeople will be invited to submit their resumes, and the process is supposed to get much, much speedier.

Under the Harper government’s proposed changes to the federal immigration system, unveiled in the budget, a series of subtle moves is likely to combine into a significant shift for Nova Scotia.

Not all local employers are sure that a transformed system looks rosy. At a Halifax Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday, where federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke, some came away uncertain whether the process will be a little too streamlined, feeding more newcomers into Alberta’s booming economy while Nova Scotia continues to struggle with labour shortages.

If the federal system gets !quicker — Ottawa now takes years to process most visa applications — new workers will be able to come to Canada for spec-ific jobs after employers pick their names out of a job bank.

The question is whether they’ll come to work for Nova Scotians, given this choice.

Law-and-order agenda allows for prison closings: Vic Toews

The Harper government is shuttering three prison institutions, including the historic Kingston Penitentiary, in a bid to demonstrate to Canadians that its tough-on-crime agenda can be frugal even as Ottawa is expanding more than 30 corrections facilities across the country.

Critics warn the closings could lead to overcrowding and violence at other prisons if about 900 inmates from the shuttered facilities are relocated before sufficient new cells have been added.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Ottawa has the capacity to close the prisons because its law-and-order legislative record is not swelling inmate populations as much as even internal estimates had predicted.

It’s a bold assessment given that a massive Conservative law-and-order bill that imposes stiffer sentences on offenders was passed by Parliament only this year.

“We will not spend a dollar on corrections that is not necessary to keep Canadians safe,” Mr. Toews said. “In fact, given that the influx of new prisoners originally predicted even by my own department is not materializing, I am announcing that our government will be closing two prisons.”

Three penal institutions will be shut within the next two years as a result of Thursday’s announcement.

Ottawa looks to unemployed Canadians to fill labour shortages

Ottawa is preparing to tackle one of the country’s most sensitive labour questions: Why won’t healthy, unemployed Canadians get their hands dirty?

The Conservative government is preparing legislative and policy changes that, for the first time, will link the federal Employment Insurance program to the Temporary Foreign Worker program.

A spokesperson for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley would not give details of the changes, saying the minister will announce them over the coming weeks and months.

This is the latest aspect of the government’s focus on current and looming labour shortages. Ottawa wants to help satisfy the steady demand for unskilled labourers who are willing to work physically demanding jobs that may pay little more than the minimum wage.

The changes will ultimately be announced by Ms. Finley, but Immigration Minister Jason Kenney opened a political can of worms this week by asking why employers in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. are bringing in temporary workers when those provinces have persistently high unemployment.

Mr. Kenney was bombarded with questions Thursday following a speech in Halifax.

Election watchers wonder if some MLAs might consider crossing the floor

CHESTERMERE - With polls showing a significant possibility of a minority government following the April 23 election, speculation has begun on whether some newly elected MLAs might cross the floor to either the Wildrose party or the Progressive Conservatives.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said Wednesday she’s heard some northern Alberta PC candidates have told voters they will switch parties should the Wildrose win the election.

“I can tell you our candidates up there aren’t very impressed by that and I don’t think voters are going to be impressed by that,” said Smith, who did not name the PC candidates in question.

She indicated Tories who try to cross the floor after the election may not find a welcoming environment from a Wildrose government.

“We had the door open for a period of time. We had only three former PC MLAs who ended up coming over (Rob Anderson, Heather Forsyth and Guy Boutilier) and so we closed the door and we moved forward with our terrific team. I’m more focused on getting each one of my Wildrose candidates elected.”

PC nominees in northern and central Alberta called the rumours of defections ridiculous.

Alberta election will have national implications

OTTAWA - The Alberta provincial election campaign heads into its final sprint this weekend, leading up to Monday's vote, in a race that is as exciting as it is important for the rest of the country.

Danielle Smith's upstart Wildrose party is ahead in the polls and appears on the verge of defeating Alison Redford's ruling Progressive Conservatives and toppling the 41-year Tory dynasty.

At stake are the keys to the premier's office and control over one of the richest jurisdictions in North America, as two conservative parties battle it out in what's a messy political civil war.

Yet, all Canadians arguably have an enormous amount riding on the results of the election - both politically and economically.

``It matters (to Canadians), given that the population centre and the economic centre of gravity is starting to move West,'' said Duane Bratt, political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

``The premier of Alberta should be playing a larger role on the national stage.''

Huge resource, huge target:

Indeed, resource-rich Alberta has become an economic juggernaut in Confederation.

Alberta Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s bumpy road to history

Here’s the thing about the road to history — in its final stretch, it gets bumpy, rutted, and in the case of Danielle Smith, laden with land mines.

As the Wildrose leader marched confidently to that date with history, blowing up more than 40 years of Progressive Conservative rule of Canada’s economic engine, she had to be the party for Albertans.

Not just the face of the party, mind you.

Wildrose had to be embodied in the telegenic, calm, decidedly unscary visage of the 41-year-old former journalist. She had to shelter and protect her candidates.

But in the final days of the provincial campaign, the mask has been ripped from the team of right-wing insurgents she wants to take to Edmonton with her.

She’s been hit with the inevitable bimbo eruptions from candidates who views on homosexuality and race have offended.

She was ambushed by a slick third-party video suggesting Smith doesn’t believe in gravity, has a party of homophobes, believes the Flintstones is historically accurate (a rip-off from a previous Liberal attack on Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day) and is Stephen Harper’s BFF.

A Wildrose win? Lots of climate thorns and no petals

Seventy-seven years ago, in 1935, Alberta elected a government with a unique take on economics. Within a short time, this take and the Social Credit government that promoted it received widespread and mocking attention across the country and, to some extent, outside Canada.

On Monday, Alberta history could repeat itself, in the sense that the Wildrose Party might be elected on a platform of debunking the science of climate change accepted by governments almost everywhere – just as former premier William Aberhart’s government stood out as the only one in the world in the 1930s that believed in social credit monetary theories.

As for those Albertans who worry their province’s environmental record outside its borders is under siege, or at least critical scrutiny (obviously, many don’t care a fig) – they won’t have seen anything if Wildrose wins.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith has repeatedly said the science of climate change is not proven – that is, that the atmosphere is warming largely because of emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Because she doubts climate change exists, Ms. Smith has criticized many of Alberta’s policies for limiting the increase in emissions, including four carbon sequestration projects and a $15-a-tonne tax on emissions.

Federal government closing oil-spill response centre

The federal government is closing B.C.'s command centre for emergency oil spills at a time when the province is facing two possible pipeline projects and a potential spike in tanker traffic in West Coast waterways.

Ottawa has said it will shut down B.C.'s regional office for emergency oil-spill responders, located in Vancouver, and centralize operations in Quebec in the wake of the cost-cutting March 29 federal budget.

The move could affect about 42 jobs in the B.C.-Yukon region.

The closing comes as pipeline operator Kinder Morgan says it hopes to increase capacity on its Edmonton-to-Burnaby Trans Mountain line, potentially increasing the number of oil tankers in Vancouver's harbour from roughly 70 a year to 360.

Original Article
Source: vancouver sun
Author: Kamloops Daily News

Chief's new federal post raises eyebrows

The northern B.C. first nation chief who signed a controversial deal to support Enbridge's $5.5-billion oil pipeline has been appointed by the federal government to the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

As a director of the board, Gitxsan hereditary chief Elmer Derrick will receive payment, although it is not clear exactly how much.

"It's a strange appointment. It raises the possibility it's a quid pro quo for supporting the pipeline," said NDP Skeena-Bulk-ley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, whose riding includes a large stretch of the Northern Gateway pipeline route.

Cullen noted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is a supporter of the pipeline, meant to open up new markets in Asia for crude from the Alberta oilsands.

When Derrick, who is the chief negotiator with the Gitxsan Treaty Office, announced he had signed a pipe-line ownership deal with Enbridge that would provide $7 million over a 30-year period, it sparked an immediate battle with other leaders in the community who said they don't sup-port the project.

In the face of the opposition to the deal from dozens of Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, Enbridge pulled out of the ownership agreement.

Is Canada headed towards privatized prisons?

TORONTO - Will somebody get to bid on a contract to house Paul Bernardo?

How about Russell Williams, Omar Khadr, Mohammad Shafia?

As part of budget cuts they will all be looking for new cells in light of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews Thursday closure announcement of 177-year-old Kingston Penitentiary and 50-year-old Leclerc Prison in Laval, Que.

Could this mean private prisons for Canada?

Either way, who is going to get their hands on the historic Kingston Pen’s waterfront property — home to the pre-Confederation architectural gem?

It would make a nice bed and breakfast, casino hotel or condo or how about one of those soon-to-be popping up legalized brothels?

Within two years it will no longer be Canada’s most notorious lock-up address. How the service it provides will be replaced, and where, are unknowns.

Nobody in government Thursday was openly talking privatization or of dealings with American-based for profit prisons.

Wildrose's Smith booed during Alta. leaders' debate for doubting climate change

EDMONTON — A live audience heckled and booed Alberta Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith at a leaders' debate Thursday after she said she isn't convinced that climate change is real.

Smith, the front-runner in the race to become Alberta's next premier, was poised and unflappable despite the deafening jeers from the crowd.

"We've been watching the debate in the scientific community, and there is still a debate," Smith said. "I will continue to watch the debate in the scientific community, but that's not an excuse not to act."

Smith said she is frustrated by the climate change debate because politicians set impossibly high targets and then do nothing to achieve them. She said the Wildrose will take a different approach, putting in place "constructive policies" that reduce overall emissions.

"Having consumer rebates, so people can make home renovations, do energy audits, switch to micro-generation, get a new hybrid vehicle or natural gas, switch to natural gas powered electricity," she said. "All of these things will have a really positive impact on reducing greenhouse gases, reducing overall toxic emissions and also saving Albertans a little bit of money."

She also chastised the incumbent Progressive Conservatives for wasting $2 billion on the province's carbon capture and storage program.

Charter architects unanimous about its future

They were three architects of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and while they may hold contrasting views on its impact so far on Canadian law, all agree on what’s likely to come in the future.

The trio – former Ontario attorney-general Roy McMurtry, former Saskatchewan attorney-general Roy Romanow and constitutional adviser John Whyte – predict that future challenges to the Charter will centre on equality guarantees as well as the open-ended guarantee of life, liberty and security.

They say electronic surveillance – particularly in the context of national security and privacy issues – will likely be a dominant theme.

The three are among a small band of political leaders and consultants who launched the Charter into uncertain waters on April 17, 1982.

Future decisions will be influenced by a new breed of judges, who were trained in constitutional law after the Charter was enacted and who feel comfortable with the notion that Charter decisions change laws and society itself, Mr. Romanow said.

Peter MacKay back in hot seat with latest DND procurement bungle

Yet another defence procurement embarrassment is about to hit the Conservative government, which is already reeling from criticism of its handling of the F-35 purchase by the Auditor-General.

It is understood that the $2-billion competition to chose a supplier for up to 138 armoured infantry fighting vehicles may have to start all over again after the Department of Public Works intervened in the tender process.

Peter MacKay, the Defence Minister, and Julian Fantino, the Associate Minister for Procurement, are under pressure for their role in the F-35 saga, with the opposition parties calling for their heads.

Speculation about a June Cabinet shuffle is gaining currency in Ottawa, with both defence ministers seen as prime candidates to be moved.

One person close to the freshly-married Mr. MacKay suggested a demotion would give him an excuse to walk away from politics, make some money in the private sector and enjoy his new life. But another source close to the Defence Minister said he remains committed to politics and has no plans to go anywhere.

The Dangers of Climate Change Denial

The cynical campaign to spread disinformation and discredit climate scientists and their work.

As a climate scientist, I have seen my integrity perniciously attacked, politicians have demanded I be fired from my job, and I’ve been subject to congressional and criminal investigations. I’ve even had death threats made against me. And why? Because I study climate science and some people don’t like what my colleagues and I have discovered. Their attacks on scientists are part of a destructive public-relations campaign being waged in a cynical effort to discredit climate science.

My work first appeared on the world stage in the late 1990s with the publication of the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which featured what is now popularly known as the hockey-stick graph. Using what we call proxy data – information gathered from records in nature, like tree rings, corals, and ice cores – my co-authors and I pieced together the puzzle of climate variability over the past 1,000 years. What we found was that the recent warming, which coincides with the burning of fossil fuels during the Industrial Revolution, sticks out like the blade of an upturned hockey stick.

The Commons: Thinking about preparing to get ready to plan to study the F-35

Shortly after 2 p.m., David Christopherson, the fussiest New Democrat, called to order this emergency meeting of the standing committee on public accounts. Around the table sat seven Conservatives, four New Democrats (only three of whom were officially participating in the proceedings) and one Liberal.

Mr. Christopherson proceeded to read aloud the specific standing order of Parliament—106(4) for those of you scoring at home—that allows for four members of any committee to request an emergency meeting of that committee, as had occurred in this case. He asked to make sure that everyone in attendance was in agreement that this is what had happened. There was unanimous agreement—or at least no one audibly objected—and so Mr. Christopherson moved on to explain that there were two motions before the committee.

Here is approximately where the trouble started. Or rather where this place’s latest testament to the vitality of our democracy began.

Mr. Christopherson explained that normally it would be up to the chair of the committee—in this case, him—to decide which member of the committee to recognize first and, thus, which of the two motions the committee would hear first. This would involve something like seeing which of these MPs could raise their hand quickest. This was “patently unfair,” Mr. Christopherson explained, in part because “anyone with arthritis loses.” As a result, Mr. Christopherson had convened an informal meeting involving himself and one committee member from each party to decide who would go first. Some kind of agreement had been arrived at, but first Mr. Christopherson wanted to invite any of the MPs present to make a two-minute statement should they have anything they wished to say. Except that they would not be allowed to use this time to move a motion of any kind.

Harper, MacKay must have known $25-billion costs of F-35 fighter jets, and procurement rules, it’s ‘inconceivable,’ says expert

PARLIAMENT HILL—Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Cabinet had to know about procurement rules government departments broke in the  decision to buy F-35 stealth fighter jets and likely were “complicit” in the shortcuts and failings, says a prominent military expert who the New Democrats want to call as a witness at a Commons inquiry into the F-35 controversy that began Thursday.

“There’s no question, it’s evident that the government knew, it’s clear that they aided and abetted this accelerated procurement, there is no question,” University of Ottawa professor Philippe Lagassé told The Hill Times after the Commons Public Accounts Committee held a special meeting to begin the inquiry, with the opposition parties accusing the government attempting to cover up mismanagement of the F-35 project.

Prof. Lagassé, an expert on defence procurement and acquisition systems and policies, is on a tentative list of witnesses the NDP wants to call for hearings into Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s scathing report on the F-35 project released earlier this month.

But NDP MP Malcolm Allen (Welland, Ont.) and Liberal MP Gerry Byrne (Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, Nfld.) said it’s unlikely the government will accept opposition choices for witnesses, after Conservative MPs rejected a list of witnesses from Mr. Byrne on Thursday.

Misleading election calls intentional, alleges new affidavit in federal election legal actions

The Council of Canadians is releasing an affidavit today, which alleges that the misleading phone calls during the last federal election could not have been accidental and were likely organized by someone “at, or very close to the top of the party’s campaign decision-making structure.”

The sworn affidavit from Bob Penner, President and CEO of Strategic Communications Inc, is the latest document which the Council of Canadians intends to present as evidence in support of applications by individual citizens seeking to overturn federal election results in seven ridings.

Penner’s affidavit alleges that “A live or recorded call advising an elector that Elections Canada has made a last minute change to that elector's polling station location is almost certain to have been intended to similarly suppress the vote if the call is being made to a supporter of another party... the only plausible explanation for such calling to have occurred is for someone at the senior level in a central political campaign to have authorized the strategy and provided the data and the funds with which to carry it out.”

Penner alleges several reasons why the claim that “misdirecting calls were simply mistakes and artifacts of inaccuracies of the voter lists provided by Elections Canada... is not plausible... There would be absolutely no legitimate reason for a political party to knowingly call the supporters of another party to encourage them to vote, or to alert them to a polling location change. Any such call must have another purpose, such as suppression of the opponent's turnout.”

The affidavit further alleges that “access to data across several ridings of pre-identified non- supporters of a political party would be available to very few people, and their access to and use of such data could be easily tracked by senior members of the central campaign, who would be responsible for managing the party's central information system and for their campaign overall. If there was a "hack" of the system, this would also be identifiable by those running the campaign.”

Penner has more than 20 years as a political consultant, and has developed and implemented sophisticated voter contact programs and other tools for a variety of clients. Stratcom was one of the first Canadian firms to specialize in this area.

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Orwellian times for Canada

When I heard that ForestEthics, a group targeted in a Prime Minister’s Office memorandum as an “adversary” of the PMO agenda, had decided to split its activities so as to make advocacy a separate arm, I thought “how brave.”  The fact is that PMO senior staff had pressured the group’s main funder; 2012 budget is working to silence critics.

Where I would expect a phalanx of Executive Directors of the country’s major national conservation and environmental groups blasting back with one voice at the unravelling of decades of environmental protections, there has been a fairly small roar from only the bravest.  This is not intended as any criticism of my former colleagues. When you don’t know what the new rules will be, when you have an obligation to your organization to stay in the black and when money is scarce and threats abundant, it is hard to know how to respond.

Then there is ForestEthics.  Valerie Langer -- she of the Kennedy Lake blockade, putting herself in a precarious position chained to a log suspended out over open space, then rallying thousands to the burnt over clear-cuts of Clayoquot Sound over the summer of 1993 to halt the logging of the ancient coastal temperate rainforest, and she, my dear friend of many years -- stood up bravely.

Valerie has been working with ForestEthics for years. Far from the civil disobedience of the early 1990s, she and Forest Ethics had pioneered in market based campaigns, tackling catalogue giant Victoria’s Secret and developing a local economy through toy building with Heiltsuk First Nation.

Conservatives block debate over who will testify in F-35 investigation

Conservative MPs have rejected a public debate about which bureaucrats and military officers will appear in front of parliamentarians to discuss the F-35 controversy, including allegations that some of them misled cabinet ministers and Canadians.

The House of Commons is closed for a two-week break, but the opposition convened an emergency meeting of the public accounts committee of the House on Thursday to launch its investigation into the planned purchase of new fighter jets.

All MPs agreed to hear from Michael Ferguson, the Auditor-General whose report earlier this month ignited the controversy over the cost of the planned military purchase and the lack of clear information provided to Canadians.

The NDP and the Liberal Party then tried to get an agreement on other witnesses, including Canadian Forces officers and bureaucrats who were directly involved in the file.

However, Conservative MPs used their majority on the committee to avoid any discussion of specific witnesses. The Conservatives decided to debate the list next Tuesday and to launch hearings on Thursday.

Alberta’s Conservatives offer more change than Wildrose

After four decades in power, their traditional base fractured by defections on the right, Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservatives suddenly find themselves underdogs in Monday’s election, trailing the Wildrose Party. There is a mood for change in Alberta. The question is, which party best represents change: The upstart Wildrose under leader Danielle Smith, with its populist brand of conservatism? Or, odd as it may sound, the Conservatives under Premier Alison Redford?

The answer is surprising. As a change agent, Wildrose is remarkably change-averse.

The party shows no leadership with regard to Alberta’s critical oil-sands industry. Its main policy document barely mentions the oil sands (and then only to complain about public funding for two “anti-oil-sands documentaries”). Ms. Redford, by contrast, is more positive; her Canadian Energy Strategy would facilitate the shipment of oil-sands oil to Asia, the U.S. and Central Canada; she also promises to help fund oil-sands extraction technology.

France’s Le Pen embarrassed by father’s Nazi joke

PARIS- Just when she thought she had cleaned up her far-right National Front’s image, French presidential contender Marine Le Pen was forced to disown her father’s sense of humour on Friday after a Nazi joke.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, 83, the anti-immigration party’s founder and five-time presidential candidate, embarrassed his daughter with a play on words linking President Nicolas Sarkozy’s initials and the Nazi party’s Nuremberg rallies.

“NS: national socialism. Oh sorry! I thought when I watched that square the other day that it was Nuremberg, with NS,” the elder Le Pen told some 6,000 National Front supporters at his daughter’s closing campaign meeting in Paris on Tuesday evening.

He was referring to Sarkozy’s open-air rally in Paris’ Place de la Concorde which drew about 100,000 people last Sunday, according to the ruling conservative party’s estimates.

Commons probe of F-35 fighter jet costs set to start

OTTAWA—Lawmakers will begin next week an investigation into a damning auditor’s report that showed the full costs of a proposed $25-billion fighter jet purchase was hidden from the public.

But already, opposition members of Parliament charge that the Conservatives on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee are prepared to rig the hearings so that damaging evidence about what the government knew about the F-35 price tag and when it was known stays under wraps.

“This is a cover-up in the making,” said Liberal MP Gerry Byrne, following a two-hour meeting marked by procedural wrangling over when to begin hearing from key witnesses and even whether a gathering to select witnesses would be held in public or behind closed doors.

The government ultimately used their majority on the committee to ensure that a witness list — likely to include Auditor General Michael Ferguson, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page and senior officials in the defence department and in other departments — is drafted next Tuesday in a private session ahead of the first public testimony on the auditor’s report next Thursday.

“There’s a wealth of information out there,” said NDP MP Malcom Allen. “It’s a question of how quickly can we ascertain it. We can do it quickly at Public Accounts if they allow the witness list that we have before them.”

Detained in the U.S.: Filmmaker Laura Poitras Held, Questioned Some 40 Times at U.S. Airports

The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras discusses how she has been repeatedly detained and questioned by federal agents whenever she enters the United States. Poitras said the interrogations began after she began working on her documentary, "My Country, My Country," about post-invasion Iraq. Her most recent film, "The Oath," was about Yemen and Guantánamo and follows the lives of two past associates of Osama bin Laden. She estimates she has been detained an estimated 40 times and has had her laptop, cell phone and personal belongings repeatedly searched. Tonight she is leading a surveillance teach-in at the Whitney Museum in New York City with our other guests, computer security researcher and government target Jacob Appelbaum and National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney. Poiras is currently at work on a film about post-9/11 America.

Source: Democracy Now!
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Toronto budget: Fate of outdoor pools, wading pools still up in the air

The fate of seven city pools is still up in the air, three months after council decided to reject most of Mayor Rob Ford’s proposed service cuts.

Council voted in January to spend $683,500 “to restore pool funding.” But $683,500 covers only the cost of restoring funding for the school pools that were threatened. Saving the two threatened outdoor pools would cost an extra $97,000, the five wading pools $60,000.

“There was some confusion about what the number needed to be,” said Councillor Josh Colle, who put forward the budget motion.

The Star reported after the budget vote that the outdoor and wading pools were being cut. But several left-leaning and centrist councillors have since argued that the Colle motion was intended to restore funding to those pools as well; Colle said he consciously referred to “pool funding,” rather than specifically school pool funding, to include the outdoor pools — though not the wading pools.

A senior official, deputy city manager Brenda Patterson, says the city can implement only explicit council directions. She will ask council’s budget committee to “clarify” the matter next month.

The committee is not certain to approve the extra funding: of its seven members, five are conservatives who voted against the Colle motion, which passed 23-21.

National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance

hereIn his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.

Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could "create an Orwellian state." Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance.

Source: Democracy Now! 
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Foreclosure Crisis The Result Of Rampant Greed Or Education Gap?

In the popular imagination, the American foreclosure crisis is a morality play in which comeuppance has landed on greedy people who had it coming. Homeowners gorged on the wealth they took out of their properties like gluttons at a Vegas buffet, using exotic mortgages to fill living rooms with home theaters and garages with new cars.

Such judgments form the crux of the argument against using taxpayer money to help homeowners who can no longer make their mortgage payments: People chose to live in brazen disregard of their limited means. Why should responsible neighbors be forced to bail them out?

This view has always been hard to square with the facts, given that millions of Americans used home equity loans to start businesses, pay for health care and send children to college. Now, a new study adds a powerful insight into the reality that scarce incomes and rising costs for middle class life played a decisive role in putting homeowners in deep financial trouble.

The study -- the work of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution -- focuses on the yawning gap between the price of housing in communities whose public schools boast high test scores, and those in places where the local schools are behind the curve. Mining housing and school testing data from metro areas across the country, the study adds the imprimatur of authority to something most people already knew without looking at a spreadsheet: It costs a lot more to live in a place that has good schools.

Daniel Jenky, Peoria Catholic Bishop: President Obama Following 'A Similar Path' As Hitler, Stalin

A downstate Illinois Catholic bishop has come under fire after he said in a message at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria that President Barack Obama is on "a similar path" as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, according to the Right Wing Watch blog, likened Obama's "radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda" as violating the First Amendment and proving the president's "intent on following a similar path" as Hitler and Stalin in a Saturday address.

Jenky went on to claim that American Catholics are currently in a "war" due to the Obama administration's ruling on birth control and other issues:

"May God have mercy especially on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil."

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria aimed to clarify Jenky's comments Thursday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Sarah Palin Weighs In On Secret Service Scandal With Obama Dog Meat Joke

On Thursday, Sarah Palin reacted to the revelation that a Secret Service agent, who was caught up in the Colombia prostitution scandal, had been in her security detail during the 2008 presidential campaign. He also posted photographs of them together on his Facebook page, and commented that he was "checking her out."

"Well check this out, bodyguard, you're fired," Palin said during an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. "I hope his wife ... sends him to the doghouse -- as long as he's not eating the dog, along with his former boss."

Palin's joke was in reference to the recent push by Mitt Romney's presidential campaign to attack President Barack Obama for eating dog meat as a child in Indonesia. The Romney camp's use of the anecdote, which Obama revealed in his memoir "Dreams From My Father," was to counter criticism the former Massachusetts governor has garnered for putting the family dog, Seamus, in a dog crate strapped to the roof of a car during a 1983 road trip.

Citizens United Constitutional Amendment Backed By Vermont Legislature

WASHINGTON -- Vermont has become the third U.S. state to pass a resolution calling on Congress to amend the Constitution to get money out of politics and reverse the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that allows unlimited corporate money in politics.

The resolution passed the Vermont House 92-40 on Thursday, one week after the state Senate approved it 26-3.

Aquene Freechild, the senior organizer in Vermont for Public Citizen's Democracy Is For People campaign, called the passage of the resolution "absolutely amazing."

The resolution came after months of campaigning by local activists to win support in towns throughout the state. On Tuesday, a leading activist in the effort, Georgina Forbes of Norwich, Vt., was at the Capitol in Washington for an event promoting grassroots state efforts for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Wealth And Traffic Accidents Study Shows Poorer People Many Times More Likely To Be Hurt

MONTREAL - People living in poor neighbourhoods are more than six times as likely to be injured in a road accident as their wealthy counterparts, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study suggests children are the most vulnerable of all — with kids 7.3 times more likely to be injured in a road accident while walking in a poor area.

The study from researchers at the Montreal Public Health Department ranked rich and poor neighbourhoods in the city by average household income. It compared the number of traffic injuries in those neighbourhoods over a five-year period, from 1999 to 2004.

Patrick Morency, an author of the study and a public-health specialist, expressed surprise at the gap.

"It's much higher for everyone in the poorest neighbourhoods — children, adults, cyclists and even motor vehicle occupants — which is interesting."

Wildrose Leader Takes Heat Over Climate Change Views

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith came under fire Thursday at the CBC Leaders' Forum for her insistence that the science behind climate change hasn't yet been settled.

"We've been watching the debate in the scientific community and there is still a debate in the scientific community," Smith said, prompting jeers from the audience who watched the forum at CBC Edmonton.

Smith, who first made the comments in an online leaders' debate earlier this week, has come under criticism for holding this view. Progressive Conservative Leader Alison Redford — whose party is trailing Wildrose in the polls after 41 years in power — suggested Smith's position could hurt the Alberta economy.

"When I go to Washington and I talked to people in the White House and I'm trying to talk to them about why we need Keystone [pipeline], they don't want to hear that I don't believe in climate change," Redford said.

"They want to know that they have a premier and a leader from this province who's prepared to understand that this impacts our markets, this impacts our investors and if we don't take it seriously, it's going to impact our economy and our way of life."

Alberta Debate: 2012 Election Campaign Approaches Finish As Leaders Do Battle Before Live Audience

EDMONTON - Party leaders battling it out in the final days of the Alberta election campaign braved the barbs of a live studio audience in a final debate before Monday's vote.

CBC hosted a leadership forum broadcast on TV and radio four days before Albertans head to the polls.

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman, struggling for traction much of the campaign, set the tone by suggesting the election has turned into a choice between bullies and bigots.

The bullies reference was a shot at the Progressive Conservatives, who have faced allegations they have used heavy-handed tactics to silence critics.

The bigots comment was a dig at the Wildrose party, which polls suggest is in the lead going into the vote. The party has faced criticism for its position on so-called conscious rights and for two candidates who have been forced to clarify remarks they made about race and homosexuality in recent days.

"Do we really have to vote for two false choices — a bunch of bullies who've been wrecking our health and education ... systems, and a bunch of bigots, who want to further wreck our health and education systems?" Sherman asked.

Stop Cyber Spying Week: Canadians' Online Habits Could Soon Be Available To U.S. Government Without Warrant, Critics Say

Canadians’ online surfing habits could be an open book for both the U.S. and Canadian governments if several pieces of legislation in both countries become law, says a U.S. online privacy group.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a statement on Wednesday arguing that a proposed new law in the U.S. designed to help fight cyber-threats “is likely to have serious implications for Canadian civil liberties.”

The Cyber-Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act (CISPA), which stealthily made it through a U.S. House of Representatives committee last December, gives businesses and the U.S. government the legal immunity they need to share information about Internet users.

Critics call it an end-run around existing privacy laws. The American Civil Liberties Union told The Huffington Post earlier this month that the bill’s definition of the data that can be shared with the government is overly broad, and the government would have the ability to use that information, for the most part, as it liked, including using it for criminal investigations without a warrant.

The group also criticized the bill for not requiring the data to be made anonymous before handing it over to the government.

That proposed law could have serious implications for Canada because of the Beyond The Border Initiative Canada signed with the U.S. in February, 2011.

Jim Flaherty: Euro Zone Bailout Funds At Max, Canada Won't Pony Up More

WASHINGTON - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had some tough talk on Thursday for the 17 euro zone countries, saying Canada and other non-euro nations shouldn't be expected to commit any more bailout funds to the region and even publicly challenging a top European Central Bank official.

The euro zone's bailout lending capacity is still too small and euro zone countries haven't done enough to bolster it on their own, Flaherty told a session sponsored by the Bertelsmann Foundation in the U.S. capital.

"The firewall that is being constructed so far is not adequately funded in our view by the euro-zone countries," he said. "They should seek to overwhelm the problem .... They have the resources to do it."

Joerg Asumussen, a member of the European Central Bank Executive Board, countered: "With all friendship, I would say the Europeans have done their work on the firewall." He noted that the bailout lending fund is now at $1 trillion.

"Now it's up to our global partners," added the former deputy finance minister of Germany. "This is in the interest of all of us."

Cabinet To Get Final Say On Pipeline Projects

The National Energy Board (NEB) will have to submit all future decisions on major pipeline projects to the federal cabinet for approval, according to a little-noticed change made in the government's economic action plan.

Currently, the NEB only has to submit projects it approves to cabinet. With this proposed change, the NEB will have to submit projects it doesn't approve to cabinet as well.

"The changes will ensure that both positive and negative NEB recommendations are presented to elected officials for information. The cabinet can request a more in-depth review by NEB and can also decide to go forward for approval," a source within the natural resources minister's office wrote to the CBC. The NEB answers to the minister.

On Tuesday, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver revealed more details on the government's streamlining of the regulatory approval process for major resource development projects.