Democracy Gone Astray

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

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

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

Saturday, May 05, 2012

F-35 procurement process 'manipulated'

The government not only misled Canadians regarding the costs of the F-35 but the procurement process was "manipulated" to achieve the government's objective, says a retired bureaucrat who has penned a new book titled Canada, Democracy and The F-35, which is due out on Monday.

In his new book, Alan Williams, the former Assistant Deputy Minister (Material) for the Department of National Defence who signed Canada into the second phase of the F-35 program in 2002, challenges various government assertions surrounding the F-35 and details how the procurement process was rigged in favour of the F-35 deal.

In an exclusive interview airing on CBC Radio's The House Saturday, Williams tells host Evan Solomon the decision to sole-source the F-35 "began with a breakdown in accountability and a hijacking of the process by the bureaucrats."

Williams explains that the military is responsible for telling the bureaucrats what they need in a document called the Statement of Requirements (SOR). Once approved, the bureaucrats are supposed to take that SOR and invite suppliers to bid on it. Only once once the bureaucrats have found a winning bidder can a recommendation be made to the minister in charge.

Independence is the only choice for Quebec under Harper, PQ leader says

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s vision of Canada is leaving Quebec no other choice but to seek political independence, Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois said

It has become “very risky” for the province to remain a part of Canada, she added in the speech to party faithful gathering to prepare for the next provincial election.

In Saturday’s speech, she highlighted how she thought Mr. Harper’s majority government was persuading Quebecers to support sovereignty.

Ms. Marois argued that “Quebec sends $40-billion to Ottawa” but Mr. Harper makes decisions Quebeckers oppose. He “sends our young people to war,” sabotages the Kyoto accord on greenhouse gas emissions and deters international aid for religious motives.

“It’s crazy when you think about it. We are locked into a system where Canada makes fundamental choices for us. We have to make another choice. We have to choose between the country of Canada or the country of Quebec. There is no other choice. There is no third way,” Ms. Marois said to a cheering crowd of about 400 delegates as they chanted “ We want our country.”

SNC-Lavalin: Canada Nuclear Industry At Risk, Says Union After Strike Vote

MONTREAL - SNC-Lavalin is threatening the future of Canada's nuclear industry by pushing for employee concessions months after its bought Candu from the federal government, says the union threatening to launch a strike on Monday.

"Their quest to maximize short-term profits at the expense of employees is placing a major Ontario-based industry in jeopardy," said Peter White, president of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates.

The union representing nearly 900 scientists, engineers, technologists and technicians said more than 94 per cent of its members sanctioned the strike action on Thursday.

White said the vote was "a stinging indictment of SNC-Lavalin's cavalier management style and brinkmanship bargaining."

He said SNC-Lavalin is seeking to extract a series of unacceptable concessions.

Climate Impacts Day: Campaign Connects The Dots Between Extreme Weather And Climate Change

Colorful photos and live video streamed in from events held in more than 100 countries on Saturday where citizens are "connecting the dots” between global climate change and extreme weather events.

The events, part of “Climate Impacts Day” and coordinated by international climate campaign, demonstrate how a string of weather disasters around the world provide mounting evidence of the hazards incurred by global warming.

“We just celebrated Earth Day. May 5 is more like Broken Earth Day, a worldwide witness to the destruction global warming is already causing,” said author, environmentalist and founder Bill McKibben. “People everywhere are saying the same thing: our tragedy is not some isolated trauma, it’s part of a pattern.”

While most scientists caution that no single event can be tied specifically to increased atmospheric greenhouse gases, the frequency of extreme climate events documented across the globe suggests the scope of what's upon us. Indeed, it seems as if extreme weather is now the new normal forecast.

Newfoundland Trash Problem: St. John's Hiring Security To Catch Polluters

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. - Newfoundland's vast beauty, soaring seaside cliffs and famed hiking trails have been showcased in award-winning ads that draw scores of tourists from around the world.

So it's especially jarring that some Newfoundlanders are trashing their woodlands to the extent that city councillors in St. John's are hiring a private security firm to catch polluters.

A 15-minute drive southwest of St. John's, Conception Bay South resident Carla Crotty takes a nature walk near Paddy's Pond that's littered with dumped furniture, heaps of household trash, propane tanks, abandoned barbecues, an air hockey table and a broken toilet. Three buckets tossed by the side of a tree-lined gravel road include one labelled acetone, the highly flammable active ingredient in paint thinner.

There's a stack of roof shingles nearby and wads of insulation tossed into a clearing of trees down the road.

Hey Harper, Socialists Were War Heroes Too

Prime Minister Harper is due for a history lesson, regarding remarks he entered during Question Period on Thursday, April 26. At this time he accused the NDP of failing to support the fight against Hitler in WWII. Many Members of Parliament have kindly corrected his error; that the New Democratic Party did not exist until 30 years later. But the Prime Minister saw fit to equate them with a predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), as one in the same. Harper then asserts the CCF did not support the war, but that too is incorrect. It's troubling our country's leader is unfamiliar with Canadian political and military history and I'm concerned the public record hasn't been amended yet.

Although J.S. Woodsworth led the CCF as WWII was just beginning and he was in fact a pacifist, he suffered a stroke in May 1940 and was replaced by M.J. Coldwell. Coldwell immediately threw the party's support behind our veterans and defeating Hitler. At this time even the United States wasn't on board and professed their intent to remain neutral.

I mention this because Harper appears to have the greatest respect for American military opinions, yet they didn't agree to fight until December 8, 1941, nearly two years after the CCF, NDP or whatever he wishes to call socialists, risked their lives and bared arms. They didn't just talk about it.

Cabinet ministers refuse to meet UN food envoy

Several federal ministers have declined requests to meet with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food as part of his first-ever probe of a developed country.

Olivier De Schutter's mission brings him to Ottawa next week as part of an 11-day tour that includes visits to aboriginal communities in Manitoba and Alberta. He had requested meetings with the ministers of health, aboriginal affairs, agriculture, fisheries, foreign affairs or international co-operation, as well as departmental experts.

The UN's right to food expert, who usually meets with government ministers and technical experts within the civil service during his missions, was informed departmental officials would be available, but no meetings with ministers were arranged, his office said Friday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which is co-ordinating De Schutter's meetings with federal officials, declined to say why no minister is available to meet with the UN Special Rapporteur.

Bureaucrats pitched pension reform to Harper after election

Bureaucrats warned the Harper government days after the 2011 federal election about financial pressures on Canada's pension system and highlighted possible options to explore, while noting other countries were increasing the age of eligibility for retirement benefits.

Documents titled "SECRET, Advice to Minister" - prepared in May 2011 for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley and obtained by Postmedia News under access to information - lay out a road map for the Conservative government's controversial decision to gradually increase the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to 67 from 65.

The documents provided a few pages of short-and long-term options for the government to explore on "Responding to Pressures on Families and the Retirement Income System." However, the options listed are all blackedout from the documents released by the federal government.

The Conservatives never discussed any possible changes to OAS and GIS in the lead up to the May 2, 2011, federal election or in the subsequent throne speech, which has led opposition parties to accuse the Tories of hiding their agenda from Canadians during the campaign.

Soldier says military muzzled him for speaking out

An Afghanistan war veteran says the military muzzled him and launched an investigation after he spoke to CTV News about proposed cuts to mental health services for soldiers.

Cpl. Steve Stoesz said that veterans now face major obstacles accessing treatment for issues like post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was speaking in response to proposed job cuts at the Department of National Defence and the proposed closure of a mental health facility in Ottawa, which opposition MPs say will make it harder for soldiers with PTSD to get help.

While Stoesz suffered several physical injuries during combat, it's the emotional and mental toll of war that plagues him most days.

"This is totally unacceptable," said Stoesz, referring to the cuts. "I had a pretty positive outlook on life and other guys don't have that. I'm wondering how many guys gave up, how many guys have committed suicide because of this?"

Katimavik Cuts: Lawsuit May Be Coming Against Feds For Scrapping Trudeau-Era Youth Program's Funding

An Ontario woman is hoping to launch a class-action lawsuit against the federal government for pulling funding from the Trudeau-era youth program Katimavik.

"The Conservatives left 600 youth who had been selected to participate in the program in a lurch as well as the non-profit organizations who were looking forward to the volunteer hours," St. Catharines, Ont., resident Colleen Cleve told The Huffington Post Canada Friday.

Heritage Minister James Moore has said the $14 million price tag for the program wasn't justified, leading the Tories to cut funding in their March budget.

"Katimavik had a cost of over $28,000 per participant and a one-third dropout rate," Moore said in the House of Commons in April. "As Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, I have to make difficult decisions and easy decisions. Ending funding for Katimavik is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made."

‘Food, Inc.’ chicken farmer has a new, humane farm

Twelve minutes into the 2009 documentary Food, Inc., Carole Morison appears on the screen — haggard, tired, quietly seething. Squinting into the sun, she tells the camera, “I’ve just made up my mind; I’m gonna say what I have to say,” and she proceeds to show and tell.

Wearing a face mask, she steps inside one of her chicken houses, where she is raising broilers for Perdue. Inside she reveals a crowded sea of birds bumping into each other and squawking in agitation. Chickens are shown taking a few steps and falling down — due to the weight they’ve been bred to put on rapidly. Others are on their backs, gasping for breath inside a chicken house they cannot leave. Carole picks up a few dead birds and throws them in a pile.

She walks back outside, removes her face mask, wipes the dust off her face, and says with disgust, “That’s normal.”

But it’s far from normal today. Carole Morison is still stepping into her chicken houses in Pocomoke, Md., but now the chickens follow her. Rather than flee, they try to roost on her shoulder. Now she doesn’t have to wear a face mask, and she’s hopeful that she may be able to take antibiotics again after years of developing allergies while using Perdue’s antibiotic-laden feed. And in a widely circulated photograph taken for Flavor magazine, she looks 10 years younger than she did in the movie.

Touring the City With Fresh Eyes

JANE STREET in the West Village is just a few blocks from where the author and urban critic Jane Jacobs lived, but it’s named for the farmer who grew tobacco around there more than two centuries ago. Though Jacobs deserves her own namesake street, she will be getting the next best thing this weekend when the Municipal Art Society hosts nearly 70 free walking tours conducted by neighborhood residents in all five boroughs.

The Jane’s Walk tours, which began in 2007 in Toronto, her adopted city, and spread to New York last year, will be conducted around the world on Saturday and Sunday to honor the legacy and life of the woman who personified urbanism.

Maybe it takes a village to accomplish things in some places; in others, a neighborhood. In New York it typically takes only a single block to characterize its occupants and to mobilize them to a common cause. Jacobs, who died in 2006, celebrated that block-by-block ballet in her 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” which became a bible for civic boosters everywhere.

Dial M for Murdoch

A successful politician must be able to deny the obvious: “I am not a crook” or “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” It was the British courtesan Mandy Rice-Davies, testifying during the 1963 scandal over her friend Christine Keeler’s simultaneous affairs with the British War Minister John Profumo and a Soviet naval attaché, who is credited with the definitive response to such lies. Told that her own lover, Lord Astor, denied ever having met her, she supposedly replied, “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC in April that “the idea there was some grand bargain between me and Rupert Murdoch—that is just not true.” The devastating May 1 parliamentary report, which concluded that Murdoch “is not a fit person” to run a major public company, offers a vivid example of why political connections have always been so important to the media mogul’s business model. The very phrase “not a fit person” is a clear signal to Ofcom, the British broadcasting regulator, which has the power to take away Murdoch’s broadcasting franchise here. Yet the sharp divisions among the select committee—whose five Conservative members all voted against the report, which passed thanks to the one Liberal Democrat and five Labour members—have blunted the report’s force while at the same time underlining just how much was at stake when Murdoch gave Cameron’s party his backing.

Charities Urge Peter Kent To Retract Laundering' Accusation

Canadian charities are demanding Environment Minister Peter Kent retract accusations that some charitable groups are "laundering" foreign funds in Canada.

Imagine Canada — an umbrella organization representing the charitable sector — penned an open letter to the minister Friday expressing "serious concern" over his repeated use of the word.

"Imagine Canada does not take a position on the specific policy debate that triggered your comments," writes Imagine's CEO, Marcel Lauzière."However, saying that charities are 'laundering' funds, a criminal activity, goes far beyond the specifics of any one policy file."

Kent first accused charities of laundering money for foreign foundations on the April 28 episode of the CBC Radio's The House. It was in response to a question about environmental charities' fears the government is trying to silence them by removing their charitable status.

Student Protest At Quebec Liberal Meeting Turns Violent

Quebec provincial police arrested 106 people after a student demonstration in Victoriaville, Que., turned violent Friday night and abruptly ended around 10 p.m.

The demonstrators may be charged with illegal assembly and participating in a riot, police said. They are expected to face charges Saturday morning.

Several hundred students demonstrated outside the provincial Liberal Party's general council meeting in Victoriaville, a small town about 150 kilometres northeast of Montreal, a gathering attended by Premier Jean Charest.

At least four police officers and seven demonstrators were injured. Some of the injured were taken to hospital, but police said none of the injuries are life-threatening. One demonstrator was reportedly shot in the face with a rubber bullet.

Something’s fishy with Bill C-38

Bill C-38, also called the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act, is a heck of a thing. It’s an omnibus bill that purports to be a budget bill but isn’t. It’s a statutory juggernaut that introduces, amends, or repeals nearly 70 federal laws. It’s been presented to the House of Commons in a manner that may be without close precedent in Canadian parliamentary history.

It could be a whole lot of things, depending on who’s doing the shouting, but the things that Industry Minister Joe Oliver and Environment Minister Peter Kent and Fisheries Minister Thomas Ashfield have had to say about its purposes just don’t add up.

We’re supposed to believe that the elaborate and contradictory environmental-review “streamlining” components that make up much of C-38’s heft are necessary to the defence of ordinary job-wanting Canadians beset by those scheming, obstructionist, radical environmentalist ideologues who won’t be satisfied until Canada’s vast energy wealth is locked away in the ground and we’re all living in yurts.

If you want to see how easily that fable falls apart, ask yourself this one question. What influence has Canada’s all-powerful environmental movement really managed to exert upon the pace, the scope or the scale of Alberta’s oilsands development? The correct answer: pretty well none. So much for the boogeyman Joe Oliver is always banging on about.

Once upon a time, Canadians could be proud of Parliament

Stephen Harper has celebrated the first anniversary of his majority by reminding Canadians of the moral tone he offers his country.

A week ago, Mr. Harper announced Canada would examine “all options” as the 2014 deadline for pulling our troops out of Afghanistan approached. Since Parliament had voted unanimously for that deadline and for no other options, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked the Prime Minister when Canadian troops would actually be brought home.

Instead of responding to a reasonable question, Mr. Harper chose to play what an Ottawa Citizen reporter called “the Hitler card” (also handy in describing the menace of tax increases on the rich, as we saw last week). “Unlike the NDP,” the Prime Minister stated, “we are not going to ideologically have a position regardless of circumstances. The leader of the NDP, in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler.”

MPs wasting our money

Is there a taste and waste syndrome attacking our honourable members of Parliament? I mean, the taste of luxury and waste of taxpayer funds.

I cite Peter MacKay and Bev Oda because they are the frontrunners at the moment. My gut feeling is those two are the tip of the iceberg.

I cringe at government waste with the F-35s' topping the charts. The projected cost of $15 billion has escalated to $25 billion. We have limited knowledge of those stealth planes but it has been revealed they have limited range. So, where do we use them, in air shows?

In 1998, four second-hand subs were purchased for $750 million and, after a fixer-up cost of $1 billion-plus, they are deemed seaworthy. Peter Mac-Kay has announced they will be fully operational by 2014. If, for 16 years those subs weren't needed, Mr. McKay, what does that tell you?

Our minister of International Development, Bev Oda, loves luxury especially limos and hotels.

I am quite aware if I worked for a company and dipped into their assets, was found out, paid back the money and apologized, it would not end there. If it were a substantial amount, say $17,000, I would be desperately looking up a list of countries that had no extradition treaty with Canada.

Mr. Prime Minister, where are you in all of this? You cannot insist we tighten our belts, while Ottawa loosens theirs.

I know you will do the right thing. When you do, I will drink a toast to you.

It will be from my $1.99, twolitre carton of orange juice.

Original Article
Source:  windsor star
Author: Margaret Caines

Stephen Harper’s stealthy war against wages and the environment

The revolution comes in on tiptoe. It enters quietly, finds a corner and begins to set about its business.

It aims not to alarm.

So it is with Stephen Harper. A year into his first-ever majority government, Canada’s controversial Conservative prime minister is still operating much as if he commanded only a minority.

True, his style remains aggressive. Harper’s take-no-prisoners attitude toward parliamentary opponents continues unabated.

Thus those who dare question the Conservatives for their role in the so-called robocall affair — in which some voters were deliberately misled about where to cast ballots in last May’s general election — are dismissed as purveyors of “baseless smears.”

On one particularly bizarre day in the Commons, Conservative MPs repeatedly accused the New Democrats of being soft on Hitler.

But, as he was in the minority period, Harper is far more careful in his dealings with the public.

Government isn't obliged to bankroll its critics

It is a given that virtually everything the Harper government does is for reasons of partisan advantage.

It is also a given that in the pursuit of its own partisan advantage, it often seeks to deny the same to its opponents. It does not follow that it is always wrong to do so.

Were the government to ban opposition parties or to censor the press, it would be in clear violation of constitutionally guaranteed liberties, not to say basic norms of liberal democracy: it is difficult to think of any circumstances that would justify such draconian measures, and if there were, it would be the circumstances, not the motive — it would not be sufficient that the government "meant well."

So, too, its refusal to provide Parliament with the information it demands, whether in the matter of the Afghan prisoners or the F-35s, cannot be defended, and would not be redeemed by honourable motives. Ditto its abuse of the power of prorogation, or its habitual invocation of time allocation to shut down debate, or the vast omnibus budget bill now before the House, among a very long list.

Projected industrial benefits of F-35 revised downward by $2.1B

Industry Canada is dampening expectations of how much the aerospace industry could reap from the troubled F-35 program, chopping more than US$2 billion off the Harper government’s estimate.

A senior official told a House of Commons committee Thursday that Canadian companies can bid on as much as US$9.85 billion in production contracts for U.S.-built stealth fighter.

“This is the estimated slice of the pie, if you like, for Canada,” said Simon Kennedy, an associate deputy minister.

He was responding to questions from the public accounts committee amid concern the windfall has been overstated.

The Conservatives have long trumpeted the estimated US$12 billion the country expects to gain in contracts for Canadian aerospace firms. Industry access to the program was often cited as a reason for not considering alternative aircraft.

DND makes case for buying F-35s in terse, 160-word letter

Pressed to justify why Canada should forgo a competition to select the country’s next fighter jet, the Department of National Defence offered up less than 160 words to make its case, a key government document in the F-35 controversy shows.

Canada's federal spending watchdog cited this June 1, 2010, letter in a report last month that criticized Ottawa's handling of the $25-billion F-35 purchase.

And this document has now surfaced after the Commons public accounts committee demanded it from the government.

The letter runs through a short defence of the F-35, including the assertion the jet meets the “mandatory operational requirements” of the Canadian Forces – a statement it doesn’t flesh out.

Auditor-General Michael Ferguson used the letter as an example of how the government cut corners in reviewing its options before announcing to Canadians in July, 2010, that it had decided to buy 65 F-35 jets without a competition.

Guelph Tory campaign staffers discussed misleading robo-calls

Staffers at the 2011 Conservative campaign in Guelph discussed making misleading calls to voters, Elections Canada reports in new court filings on the robo-calls scandal.

At the same time, the computer that robo-calls fraudster “Pierre Poutine” used to arrange misleading calls to voters is the same one used by a Guelph Conservative campaign staffer to order legitimate dialing campaigns, federal election investigators believe.

The documents offer new evidence linking this local Tory campaign to thousands of fraudulent robo-calls sent by someone hiding behind the now-notorious alias – a ploy that directed non-Conservative voters to the wrong Guelph polling station on election day.

Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews says two Conservative officials in the Ontario riding – Marty Burke campaign manager Ken Morgan and director of communications Michael Sona – were overheard discussing the use of harassing and misleading calls in U.S. political races.

War of 1812 celebrations an ‘affront’ to Ontario town's pacifist roots

Ottawa is gearing up for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, spending millions on projects like re-enactments and monuments, but some people aren’t embracing the commemoration.

North of Toronto, in Stouffville, a group of people who belong to pacifist churches are asking their MP to tone down a June event tied to the bicentennial. They say it doesn’t accurately reflect the history of the town, which was founded by Mennonites who conscientiously objected to war.

“It’s an affront to a truthful telling of that history,” said Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, a Mennonite ordained minister and associate academic dean at Tyndale Seminary.

The pushback in Stouffville is part of a movement to tell another side of the war’s story: those who didn’t fight and were proud of it.

Mr. Neufeldt-Fast represented people from Stouffville’s Mennonite, Quaker and Brethren in Christ churches when he spoke out against the bicentennial event at a council meeting earlier this week.

Northern Gateway pipeline would strengthen trade ties to China

Pipeline proponents bill Enbridge Inc.’s (ENB-T39.99-0.45-1.11%) Northern Gateway pipeline as critical to the ongoing success of Canada’s energy industry. If built, the conduit connecting the oil sands to the West Coast would give Asian countries access to Alberta’s oil patch, home to the world’s second-largest petroleum reserves behind Saudi Arabia. Gateway would facilitate expansion in the oil sands and strengthen trade ties to China, a key partner in developing energy here. It would drive up the price companies with operations in Western Canada would receive for their crude because it would create an export market other than the United States.

But what if the pipeline, or other export lines such as the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain system, never come to fruition? China sunk over $16-billion into Canada’s energy industry over the past two years, with the majority of that in the oil sands. It wants to secure supply – and make a profit. Will the Asian powerhouse stick around if the chance to secure supply never happens?

Neighbour, Ford refuse to talk about details of altercation

From the upstairs back window of Zdravko Gagro’s home, you can clearly see the spot behind Mayor Rob Ford’s property where the chief magistrate confronted Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale.

But while Mr. Gagro – who first spotted the reporter and alerted his next door neighbour – was happy enough to show off this excellent sightline, he refused to describe the details of what he saw Wednesday evening.

Those details are at issue in the latest spat between the mayor and the city’s largest newspaper: Mr. Ford says his neighbour spotted Mr. Dale standing on a pile of cinderblocks and peeking over his fence; the reporter maintains he never left the grass of the public park where the mayor came charging at him with his fist clenched.

Black returning home, bloody but undaunted

This is the paradox at the heart of Conrad Black's return to Canada: Why on earth would he choose to live here? For if ever there was a persona designed to be resented, belittled, disrespected and reviled by socalled average Canadians, it is Black's. And guess who crafted that persona? Black.

So perhaps, as Black-baiting wits and scribes, led by New Democrat Opposition leader Tom "Che Guevara" Mulcair, gird their loins for combat with the great despoiler of widows and orphans, they might consider this: Lord Black of Crossharbour lives for the fight. In transforming him, once again, into an avatar of the coddled super-rich - a position he never actually occupied, even at the zenith of his power - they may be giving him precisely what he wants.

I don't know Black personally. But I met him a few times, during his ascendancy in the late 1990s. Like others who worked on the National Post launch, I attended his parties and benefitted indirectly from the largesse that, for a few years, transformed the Canadian newspaper industry. And what always struck me was this: The alacrity with which, when Black was on top, the great and the powerful lined up to kiss his backside.

Message from Québec's student movement: Austerity can be fought!

Asked by an Anglophone journalist what the Québec student struggle means for the ROC, this is what I had to say.

I was among a varied group of people who published a declaration Tuesday, on May Day, in support of the student movement. One of the main themes of our message was to link the conflict around tuition fees to the wider political economy context in Québec. Our argument being that the neo-liberal paradigm which inspires much -- if not almost all of the economic policy decisions taken in Québec -- is used and has nothing new or original to offer outside of austerity. We think that the broadness of the movement signals an end of a political economy cycle here in Québec where neo-liberalism dominated. This hegemony is of course directly linked to the Charest Liberals, but also to elements in the PQ and the new coalition called CAQ. We linked the environmental and labour struggles to the student struggle, which directly challenges this hegemony and calls for the redeployment of progressive alternatives. These links are made every night by the thousands of youth that gather to march in Montreal's streets. Six of us wrote the original declaration, and then more than 200 well-known personalities signed. The wind is blowing once again in Québec!

106 arrested as Quebec police, students clash

Quebec provincial police arrested 106 people after a student demonstration in Victoriaville, Que., turned violent Friday night and abruptly ended around 10 p.m.

The demonstrators may be charged with illegal assembly and participating in a riot, police said. They are expected to face charges Saturday morning.

Several hundred students demonstrated outside the provincial Liberal Party's general council meeting in Victoriaville, a small town about 150 kilometres northeast of Montreal, a gathering attended by Premier Jean Charest.

At least four police officers and seven demonstrators were injured. Some of the injured were taken to hospital, but police said none of the injuries are life-threatening. One demonstrator was reportedly shot in the face with a rubber bullet.

Robocalls linked to Guelph Tory campaign worker's computer

Elections Canada has traced a computer from the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., to the account that paid for robocalls that falsely directed voters to the wrong polling station in the last federal election.

Newly released court documents show investigator Al Mathews traced a PayPal account used to pay for the robocalls to the same IP address as a computer used by Andrew Prescott, the deputy campaign manager in the riding.

Mathews had previously traced the false calls to a phone registered to "Pierre Poutine," which he determined is likely a fake name.

Prescott had an account with RackNine, a company that does robocalling, or voice broadcasting, and which was used by "Pierre Poutine" to make the false calls. The account was paid via PayPal using prepaid Visa cards bought at two drug stores in Guelph.

French election: Who is the real François Hollande?

The declaration, delivered by the calm, bespectacled man to a large crowd of cheering union members on Tuesday, sent waves of alarm through trading desks and foreign capitals.

“I have given myself one objective,” François Hollande said in a May Day speech in the Burgundy town of Nevers: “To be the long-awaited successor to François Mitterrand.”

From the man who is very likely to become the next French president when votes are counted Sunday night, this was a seemingly radical statement, suggesting a repeat of the jarring regime change France experienced in 1981, when the country became something of an ideological island.

Did he really mean it? Had the “vanilla pudding” candidate gone radical? Bond traders worried, driving up the price of French debt in anticipation. A stark cover of The Economist warned of “The rather dangerous Monsieur Hollande.”

11 injured, including 4 police officers, as Quebec student protest turns violent

More than 3,000 demonstrators disrupted Friday’s Quebec Liberal Party meeting in Victoriaville with a violent protest that sent at least 11 people to hospital.

Protesters reported being hit by rubber bullets fired into the crowd and provincial police said at least four of their officers were sent to hospital, including one who had been struck in the head with a billiard ball. At least seven protesters were also sent to hospital, three of whom were injured seriously, according to police.

The standoff started with people tossing projectiles like smoke bombs, paint bombs and sticks in the direction of provincial riot police guarding the Victoriaville facility that was hosting the Liberal gathering.

When protesters pulled down a metal barrier outside the building, police pushed back. Using riot gear including stun grenades and chemical irritants, they shoved the crowd into surrounding streets.

“More and more people were there, not just to protest, but to make some criminal acts. So we had to push back all the protesters,” said Captain Jean Finet, a spokesman from the Sûreté du Quebec.

Democracy bad for capitalism? Why the French and U.S. elections are unnerving investors

An increasingly tight French presidential race combined with signs America’s economic recovery may be slowing sent investors heading for the exits at the end of the week.

Global markets tumbled Friday for the second day in a row after the U.S. monthly jobs report came in below expectations and investors fretted over the outcome of the French election on Sunday.

The Toronto Stock Exchange fell 1.20 per cent on Friday, giving up all of this year’s gains and more. The market closed down 143.67 points at 11,871.23. The S&P/TSX composite index is now down 0.70 per cent since the start of the year.

In the U.S., the Standard & Poors 500 Index and Nasdaq also closed out their worst week this year after the world’s largest economy said it had created 115,000 jobs in April, raising concerns that America’s recovery may be slowing. Economists had forecast 160,000 new jobs in April.

America’s unemployment rate fell 0.1 per cent to 8.1 per cent, though much of that was due to more people giving up the search for work. Markets shrugged off the positive news that revisions to the previous two months added an extra 53,000 jobs.

I believe Daniel Dale

I believe Daniel Dale.

That doesn’t mean the mayor is lying again. Or that he is intentionally misleading the public when he says my colleague stood on cinder blocks and peered into his backyard. Sometimes, things are more complicated than they seem. Two people looking at the same body of evidence can reach divergent conclusions.

I believe Daniel Dale because he sits two desks over from me and has done so for more than a year. You get to know people somewhat by observing them at close quarters day in, day out.

And, from observation, Daniel Dale has no guile. If he did he would not have told us he ran, scared, from the mayor.

He’s an honest, hard-working, excellent reporter — and the awards he’s received proves this.

Dale was being a good reporter when he attempted to see for himself exactly what Mayor Rob Ford has in mind by seeking to buy a piece of public land to, the mayor claims, augment the security and privacy around his home of many years.

Ford’s neighbour saw Dale taking pictures around the back of Ford’s house and called the mayor. So far, so good.

Elections Canada: Robocalls came from computer used by Tory campaigner

OTTAWA—Misleading robocalls originated from the same computer IP address used by a worker on the campaign of Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke, according to new court documents filed by Elections Canada.

Investigator Allan Mathews says in an affidavit that between April 30 and May 2, two unique computer addresses — one that links to a proxy server — were used to access RackNine by Burke’s deputy campaign manager Andrew Prescott and also by the person who paid for misleading robocalls sent to 6,737 Guelph-area numbers on Election Day.

“At a minimum,” writes Mathews, the computer log information means the two “used the same computer” on May 1 at around 9 p.m., “and that a single computer appears to have been used to access RackNine — the Edmonton-based automated dialing and voice broadcast service — both directly and by way of the proxy server on several occasions.”

The Guelph telephone numbers that were called appear to match — but have not been confirmed as — a list of identified non-Conservative supporters possibly downloaded from the party’s computerized constituent information and issue management system, according to Mathews, who said inquires are ongoing with the Conservative Party.