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.]

Monday, May 14, 2012

3 Things To Know About The Proposed Mask Law

Federal legislators are currently debating a proposed law that could carry a 10-year jail term for concealing your identity during a riot.

Introduced last November by Conservative backbencher Blake Richards, Bill C-309 was a private member’s bill inspired by the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver last June and the G20 riot in Toronto in June 2010.

Richards said police had been seeking better ways to respond to public assemblies that become dangerous.

It is already illegal to take part in a riot, but Bill C-309 would create a separate offence criminalizing the use of a mask while participating in such an action.

The bill is back in the House of Commons on Monday before going to the Senate for final approval.

Old Age Security savings pegged at $10B, Flaherty says

The Conservatives' planned changes to Old Age Security will save Canada anywhere from $10 to $12 billion, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Monday.

He let slip the number after a question period in which his colleague, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, refused to answer questions about the estimate.

Flaherty's officials also refused to provide the estimate at a briefing to parliamentarians at the end of April, although they did give it to reporters covering the federal budget on March 29.

Speaking to reporters after question period, Flaherty allowed that he has heard an estimate of $10 billion.

"I've heard that number, I've heard $12 billion also. Something in that area," he said.

Microsoft’s horrifying story about usage-based billing abuse

If you haven’t read a good dystopian tale like George Orwell’s 1984 lately, have a look at a new study on usage-based Internet billing from Microsoft and a couple of professors from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The report tells of a number of families in South Africa that took part in the study, which sought to understand how the caps on monthly home broadband plans affected Internet usage. It’s bone-chilling stuff.

In South Africa, broadband speeds are still relatively slow, hitting a maximum of four megabits per second as of the study’s purview (2010). Usage caps, meanwhile, typically came in at between one and nine gigabytes per month, with unlimited plans only recently surfacing.

Pushing carbon tax cost research agency its funding, Tories confirm

The federal government has confirmed what the rumour mill suspected: it shut down an arm’s length, independent advisory group because it didn’t like the advice it was getting on addressing climate change.

Funding for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) was cut in the last budget, giving the group just one year to live. Since 1988, it has been producing research on how business and government policies can work together for sustainable development — including the idea of introducing carbon taxes.

Environment Minister Peter Kent had initially said the reason for the closure was because such research can now be easily accessed through the Internet, and through universities and other think tanks.

But Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday the shuttering of the round table had more to do with the content of the research itself.

Schoolchildren used business school skills to build a better trebuchet

The assignment was to build a trebuchet, a kind of medieval catapult, and bomb the cardboard castle with marshmallows.

But before the teams of students were allowed to start tinkering with their materials – bits of jinx wood, string and glue – they had to brainstorm 50 ideas in 20 minutes about how to do it.

This problem-solving technique, which was developed at one of Canada’s most competitive business schools, is being introduced for the first time to students in kindergarten through Grade 8 at Ledbury Park Elementary and Middle School in North York. Five Toronto private schools, including Branksome Hall and Upper Canada College, began integrating the Rotman School of Management’s I-Think program into secondary and middle-school classes in recent years, but the Toronto District School Board is the first to integrate it at the elementary level.

Overcoming climate despair: We are the U-turn generation

This week, federal Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan released a disheartening report, slamming the Harper government for having no plan to meet its own 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets (targets that are already completely inadequate). It's not surprising news, but adds to the feelings of desperation harboured by many.

Those of us concerned about climate change, and anxious to mobilize public support for bold action, walk a difficult line. We have to be respectful of the psychology of this time, in which the public understandably wrestles with feelings of despair and searches for hope, even as many refuse to accept what the science is telling us. Facing the realities of climate change is scary for many, and fear-based messages alone can be paralyzing. The answer is not to gloss over the seriousness of the situation, however. Rather, the answer is to engage in what our communications director Shannon Daub calls "responsible truth-telling." (For an excellent discussion of the balance between fear and hope in climate communication, see David Roberts' excellent essay here.)

Understanding people's need for hope is why our Climate Justice Project has sought to communicate that policy and technological solutions are plentiful and at hand. We have also endeavoured to communicate that the task before us can be accomplished in stages.

Mulcair and energy McCarthyism

The high-and-mighty vitriol which greeted Tom Mulcair's comments last week about the downside of oil-powered currency appreciation is lamentable (repeating the over-the-top reaction to Dalton McGuinty's similar comments a few weeks ago). Mulcair made two modest and empirically substantiated statements: the loonie is sky-high as a result of the oil boom in Alberta's bitumen sands (I doubt you'd find a single currency trader on Bay Street who would disagree with that), and that overvaluation is causing negative side-effects on other industries and regions in Canada.

Following up on Erin Weir's most excellent interventions, here is my column in yesterday's Ottawa Citizen on this issue. And here is a graph that went with the column in the print edition. It shows that in the last decade, Canadian petroleum exports grew by close to 2 percentage points of GDP -- fairly impressive. But Canada's exports of everything else (manufacturing, services and tourism) declined by several times as much -- and the two offsetting trends are not unrelated. No wonder Canada is mired in a large, chronic international payments deficit, even as we scrape the stuff out of the ground faster than ever.

These diatribes against anyone who even acknowledges potential downsides or side effects of the bitumen boom seem to herald a new, dangerous tendency in Canada's political culture. Opposing a bitumen-exporting pipeline in Canada these days makes you a foreign-financed subversive. And it seems that questioning the economic effects of the bitumen export strategy makes you equally seditious. I call this "energy McCarthyism," and it should be rejected forcefully not just by those concerned with Canada's de-industrialization and staples dependency, but by those worried about the quality of our democracy.

Original Article
Author: Jim Stanford 

Ottawa’s true spending, and cuts, shrouded in a fog of bafflegab

Treasury Board President Tony Clement – Ottawa’s equivalent of a chief operating officer – insists he’s all about making Canada a model of open government.

Let’s do a quick reality check. Say you want know how budget cuts are hitting Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. Basic stuff, right?

Not so fast. The March 29 federal budget says the department will spend $169-million less this year. Less than what? The answer isn’t in the 498-page budget.

For that, you have to consult the “main estimates,” released every year on March 1. According the estimates, Agriculture and Agri-food will spend $2.4-billion in 2012-2013.

Money Unlimited How Chief Justice John Roberts orchestrated the Citizens United decision

When Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was first argued before the Supreme Court, on March 24, 2009, it seemed like a case of modest importance. The issue before the Justices was a narrow one. The McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law prohibited corporations from running television commercials for or against Presidential candidates for thirty days before primaries. During that period, Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, had wanted to run a documentary, as a cable video on demand, called “Hillary: The Movie,” which was critical of Hillary Clinton. The F.E.C. had prohibited the broadcast under McCain-Feingold, and Citizens United had challenged the decision. There did not seem to be a lot riding on the outcome. After all, how many nonprofits wanted to run documentaries about Presidential candidates, using relatively obscure technologies, just before elections?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., summoned Theodore B. Olson, the lawyer for Citizens United, to the podium. Roberts’s voice bears a flat-vowelled trace of his origins, in Indiana. Unlike his predecessor, William Rehnquist, Roberts rarely shows irritation or frustration on the bench. A well-mannered Midwesterner, he invariably lets one of his colleagues ask the first questions.

Elizabeth Warren: Jamie Dimon Should Resign From New York Fed Board

Elizabeth Warren called on JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to resign from his post on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's board, citing the need for "responsibility and accountability" in the financial industry.

Dimon, who disclosed a $2 billion loss by the banking giant last week, should "send a signal to the American people that Wall Street bankers get it and to show that they understand the need for responsibility and accountability," Warren said in a statement following Dimon's Sunday appearance on "Meet the Press."

During that interview, Dimon said he "absolutely" believed that the enormous loss would give regulators more ammunition against the banks. Warren latched onto that comment, stating that Dimon's place on the board of directors gave him the power to advise the New York Fed on "management oversight and policy," creating what the Massachusetts Democrat feels is a clear conflict of interest.

"We need to stop the cycle of bankers taking on risky activities, getting bailed out by the taxpayers, then using their army of lobbyists to water down regulations," Warren said. "We need a tough cop on the beat so that no one steals your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street."

Warren, an outspoken advocate of banking reform who oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program and helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is running in a closely-watched Senate race against incumbent Scott Brown, a Republican. She has stressed her role as a consumer advocate throughout the campaign.

Original Article
Source: Huff
Author: Mollie Reilly 

James Lankford, GOP Rep, Opposes Laws Against Gay Employee Discrimination

Freshman Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) told ThinkProgress in a recent interview that he was against laws designed to protect employees from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation, because of his belief that being gay is a "choice."

"Race and sexual preferences are two different things. One is a behavior-related and preference-related and one is something inherently -- skin color, something obvious, that kind of stuff. You don’t walk up to someone on the street and look at them and say, 'Gay or straight?'" Lankford said. "I think it’s a choice issue. Are tendencies and such? Yes. But I think it’s a choice issue."

President Barack Obama's recent endorsement of same-sex marriage rights spurred a legislative push on such safeguards last week. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported that a bipartisan group of senators renewed calls for hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a piece of legislation that would expand employee anti-discrimination language to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lankford isn't the only freshman Republican to express opposition to this type of bill. Last week, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said such protections were unnecessary because discrimination based on sexual orientation simply didn't happen.

"That don’t happen out here in the United States of America," he told ThinkProgress.

Original Article
Source: Huff
Author: Nick Wing

ALEC Memo Instructed Members To 'Navigate Away' From Tough Questions

WASHINGTON -- When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) first started facing public scrutiny about its extraordinary ability to turn "model bills" written by corporate lobbyists into state law, the secretive group sent out a list of talking points to its members, telling them what to do when faced with questions about the role of the group's corporate sponsors.

The guidance, in a nutshell: Change the subject.

"The following information is designed to help you navigate away from those tough questions and get back to talking about policy," says the memo, which was obtained by the public interest group Common Cause and provided exclusively to The Huffington Post. "If you are asked any of these questions, acceptable responses are provided, but please then direct the conversation back to the policy to which you want to discuss."

Unseen: Trailblazing Military Women Forced To Fight For Recognition, Equal Treatment

After a rocket-propelled grenade sent the Black Hawk helicopter tumbling out of the sky over Iraq, the medics got to work fast on the co-pilot, Capt. Duckworth. Standard operating procedure: cut away the desert-camo uniform before burnt fabric melds with burnt flesh. Get at the wounds. Stop the bleeding. Save what's left.

When you show up at Walter Reed Medical Center in that kind of condition, you show up naked, with nothing except the hospital gown. So you're given a "comfort kit," a little backpack containing some toiletries and clothes. Duckworth awoke there around Thanksgiving 2004, a few weeks after the shootdown, to find a comfort kit waiting with slippers, a shaving kit and men's jockey shorts.
She had to laugh.

"It was great. I don't have feet, so I can't wear the slippers, and you know, I just had my legs blown off, it's not like I'm gonna shave my legs any time soon," she chuckles. "I don't have jockey, I'm not gonna wear men's jockey shorts."

Occupy Chicago Prepares for NATO

Even though the G8 participants have fled the great city of Chicago in order to bunker down at Camp David, organizers and protesters continue to diligently prepare for the other major conference scheduled for this week, NATO.

Protest plans were announced by activists during a press conference held in an empty warehouse loft on Chicago’s South Side last week, where press gathered to hear the next steps for the Occupy movement. The conference, organized by Occupy press committee member Rachael Perrotta, and speakers from Occupy affiliated groups, included the speakers’ listing grievances against NATO and also what the public can expect for the week-long protests.

Secret Committee Meetings: More Held Under Liberals Than Harper's Tories

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper's Conservatives have been accused of using their majority to hide too much House of Commons committee business behind closed doors.

But an analysis of Library of Parliament data for the last decade shows the championship title for secretive committee work actually belongs to former prime minister Paul Martin's Liberals.

Harper's Tories aren't even the runners up; that honour goes to another Liberal regime, under Jean Chretien.

The analysis of meetings from which the public was barred — known as going in camera — shows MPs deliberated in secret for an average of close to two hours a day during Martin's first and only majority session of Parliament in 2004.

Dalai Lama Poison Plot: China Denies Plans To Assassinate Tibetan Leader

BEIJING -- China accused the Dalai Lama of being deceitful Monday after he reportedly alleged that Chinese agents trained Tibetan women to assassinate him by planting poison in their hair for him to touch during blessings.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the Tibetan spiritual leader's allegations, reported in the London-based Sunday Telegraph newspaper, were not worth refuting, but added that he generally spreads false information.

"The Dalai always wears religious clothes while carrying out anti-China separatist activities in the global community, spreading false information and deceiving the public," spokesman Hong Lei said at a routine daily news briefing.

Why We Regulate

One of the characters in the classic 1939 film “Stagecoach” is a banker named Gatewood who lectures his captive audience on the evils of big government, especially bank regulation — “As if we bankers don’t know how to run our own banks!” he exclaims. As the film progresses, we learn that Gatewood is in fact skipping town with a satchel full of embezzled cash.

As far as we know, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, isn’t planning anything similar. He has, however, been fond of giving Gatewood-like speeches about how he and his colleagues know what they’re doing, and don’t need the government looking over their shoulders. So there’s a large heap of poetic justice — and a major policy lesson — in JPMorgan’s shock announcement that it somehow managed to lose $2 billion in a failed bit of financial wheeling-dealing.

Just to be clear, businessmen are human — although the lords of finance have a tendency to forget that — and they make money-losing mistakes all the time. That in itself is no reason for the government to get involved. But banks are special, because the risks they take are borne, in large part, by taxpayers and the economy as a whole. And what JPMorgan has just demonstrated is that even supposedly smart bankers must be sharply limited in the kinds of risk they’re allowed to take on.

Greece Crisis: Parties Hit Political Stalemate, Euro Exit Fears Grow

ATHENS, May 14 (Reuters) - Greek political leaders stuck to entrenched positions before another round of coalition talks on Monday, dashing hopes of a last-minute compromise to avoid a new election that risks pushing the country closer to financial default.

European shares slid and Spanish and Italian bond yields rose as investors fretted the political deadlock meant Greece was on track to become the first country to abandon the euro.

Greece's political landscape has been in disarray since an inconclusive election on May 6 left parliament divided between supporters and opponents of a 130 billion-euro ($168-billion) EU/IMF bailout, with neither side able to form a government.

With the country set to run out of money as early as next month and no government in place to negotiate the next aid tranche, investors are betting that a long-speculated Greek default and euro exit will happen sooner rather than later.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford holds the key to environmental peace

There is mounting evidence that Stephen Harper’s determination to make Canada a resource-based economic power may have awakened a sleeping giant.

The environment is back on the Canadian political radar, at least for the moment.

At the very least, the prime minister’s decision to turn back the clock on environmental assessment in this country has crystallized the huge gulf between his vision for this nation and that of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, a former provincial environment minister.

But, for the moment, Harper and Mulcair can step aside.

The most important voice on this issue in Canada today belongs to Alison Redford.

MacKay blames opposition, media for Libya-cost controversy

OTTAWA — Canada’s embattled defence minister took to the airwaves Sunday to make his case that he did not mislead Canadians about the cost of the military mission to Libya.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said opposition parties and the media have tried to warp his words in recent days over comments he made about the cost of sending Canadian war planes and ships to Libya last year.

MacKay told two political talk shows he was “crystal clear” that when he told CBC_Radio in late October that the cost of the mission was less than $50 million.

In that same interview, MacKay told CBC Radio’s The House “there could be more costs that come.”

Polls: Canadians aren't too happy with the Conservatives

POLLS today can’t tell you much about who will win a federal election three years from now.

What they can tell you, however, is how a political party’s message — whether from government or opposition — is resonating with voters right now.

On that count, the governing Conservatives should be hearing, loud and clear, that overall, Canadians don’t appear too happy with their performance one year into a majority mandate.

A series of polls through April had the NDP, under new leader Thomas Mulcair, in a virtual tie with the Tories. Last week, a Harris-Decima poll showed the NDP leading the Conservatives, 34 per cent to 30 per cent.

Mulcair: a 'cheap' ploy

Newly elected NDP leader Tom Mulcair has already showed his profound ignorance of the Canadian economy and an offensive lack of knowledge about the energy sector and the crucial role it plays in paying this country's bills.

Blaming Ontario and Quebec's economic woes on the oilsands is as bizarre as it is inaccurate. And as Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has stated, it is "very, very divisive".

The energy sector generates employment in almost every segment of our national economy. The oilsands alone are responsible for close to 400,000 direct and indirect jobs in skilled trades, in manufacturing, in the clerical field and in the financial sector.

Acccording the Canadian Energy Research Institute, if you include proposed pipeline projects and increased oil production, the oilsands will support on average 700,000 jobs across Canada every year for the next 25 years. Alberta's oil industry alone will buy $65 billion worth of goods and services from companies in Ontario in that same period.

Over the past five years, the oil and gas industry has contributed an average of $22 billion to government coffers - money that helps pay for everything from education to health care.

This is a cheap political ploy to pit eastern citizens against those in the West. Will Mulcair next attack the lentil business, the wheat and grain producers who have long fed the world - or perhaps the potash industry that allows the poor to bolster their depleted farmland in overpopulated areas?

It's time for Mulcair to act like a Canadian.

Original Article
Source: leader post
Author: Pamela Wallin  

Frost is definitely in air these days

OTTAWA -- There's a cool wind blowing between Broadway and Parliament Hill these days.

Some days it's positively icy.

It's not uncommon for there to be friction, particularly when large amounts of money are involved and opposing political ideologies are at play.

But it's not every day you see federal MPs taking seats on the loges in the Manitoba legislature to issue a stare-down at provincial cabinet ministers over an immigration feud.

It's pretty rare for a premier to accuse the federal government outright of cancelling the immigration settlement agreement as punishment for the province's criticism on other issues.

On Thursday, Selkirk-Interlake Conservative MP James Bezan even used precious time for debating the federal budget implementation bill to criticize the Manitoba budget.

F-35 project ready for its last rites

The Harper government is still scuffling around on the F-35 fighter jets, trying to pretend the acquisition remains a viable option.

It should abandon that effort. It is time to cut its losses, to admit that, back in 2006, in its early days as a new and inexperienced administration, it made a catastrophic error by signing on to the U.S. controlled and manipulated Joint Strike Fighter program. It compounded that error by trying, repeatedly, to hide the true costs of the F-35 from Parliament and the public; but no amount of bookkeeping jiggery-pokery can camouflage the deception.

The government should concede that this white elephant — or “supersonic albatross,” as they are calling it in the United States — which is useless for most Canadian purposes and far too expensive for the national treasury, will never see service with the RCAF. If the price tag doesn’t kill it, the performance deficiencies or production delays will (it’s already nine years behind schedule and counting).

This baby is ready for the last rites.

MacKay short on accountability

For the past few months, the Harper government has been taking it on the chin for allegedly low-balling the acquisition costs of the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Throughout the 2011 election campaign, the Conservatives insisted repeatedly that no matter what transpired among the 10 partner nations, and regardless of reported delays and cost overruns, Canada would spend $15 billion to acquire and operate 65 fighter jets for a 20-year lifespan.

To further alleviate voter concerns, Defence Minister Peter MacKay flew down to Fort Worth, Texas, to tour Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production facilities. After a brief inspection, MacKay told any reporter who would listen that the whole program looked cool to him. He promised the acquisition would come in on time — and on budget.

Subsequent reports by both the parliamentary budget officer and the auditor general have cast serious doubts on MacKay’s prediction.

Canadian stimulus money goes to companies, people implicated in Quebec scandals

MONTREAL - Some of the public money set aside for Canada's economic recovery has ended up in the hands of companies and individuals accused of taking part in an elaborate collusion scheme in Quebec.

An investigation by The Canadian Press of stimulus funding in three municipalities recently raided by police revealed three separate cases where companies tied to criminal charges received contracts under the multibillion-dollar federal-provincial infrastructure plan.

These include companies owned by construction entrepeneurs Tony Accurso and Lino Zambito, both of whom are facing a long series of charges. Money also went to BPR and Transport and Excavation Mascouche (TAM) — two companies charged with fraud and conspiracy.

Foreign Affairs in Disarray?

For decades, Canada has put most of its economic and foreign-policy eggs in the American basket. However, the prolonged economic crisis in the U.S. makes it clear that the Harper government needs to make new friends and influence people beyond those in North America. So far, the government’s record in other important world regions is not encouraging.

Rescuing the “Americas Strategy”

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched the Conservatives’ “Americas Strategy” in July 2007, the government identified the region as a “critical international priority.” Increased attention to Latin America makes sense, given the increasing maturity of the region’s democracies, the rising prominence of countries like Brazil and Mexico, the growing economies of many countries in the region, the longstanding links between Canadian and Latin American civil-society organizations, and the presence of many Canadian mining companies in the region.

We Will Not Be Silenced

Canada would be a different place without our 80,000 registered charities dedicated to everything from health to economic policy to the environment. We’d be much poorer without the two million employees and millions of volunteers who devote their time to causes that strengthen our nation.

Recent efforts by the federal government and its backers in media and industry front groups like Ethical Oil to demonize and silence legitimate organizations ignore the important role charities play in Canada. That’s why environmental and other organizations are joining with Canadians from all walks of life for Black Out Speak Out, launched on May 7 with ads in The Globe and Mail, La Presse, and Ottawa’s Hill Times, and culminating in a website blackout on June 4.

Stephen Harper’s secret weapon in Quebec

Just about the only good word to be said for the faceless government office towers in downtown Ottawa is that you can get an excellent view from their top floors. Denis Lebel steered a visitor toward the floor-to-ceiling windows lining two walls of his 29th-floor office.

“My colleagues tell me this is the best view in Ottawa,” the minister of (take a deep breath) transport, infrastructure and communities and minister of the economic development agency of Canada for the region of Quebec said. He pointed down to the Chaudière Falls, the Supreme Court building, and the Parliament buildings arrayed far below.

“This is the highest office in the building,” Lebel said, leaning forward conspiratorially as he delivered his patter. “Nowhere to go but down.”

Does sending Alberta oilsands crude east make more sense?

Former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge is not a man for wild ideas. So his recent suggestion that it might make more sense to send the bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to Eastern Canada, rather than piping it to the West Coast for shipment to Asia, was clearly designed for the nation's boardrooms.

Dodge saw the opposition that's been mounting among B.C. mayors, environmentalists and native groups for the proposed westward routes, and told the Edmonton Journal that any increased costs in going east and eventually reaching a tidewater port wouldn't be "wildly different."

This eastward speculation, however, is nothing new. Other policy thinkers, notably Frank McKenna and Derek Burney, both former ambassadors to the U.S., have touted the idea. But now it appears that some of the big players in Canada's oil and gas industry are turning at least some of their attention in that direction as well.

Natural-gas plans could alter B.C.'s climate-change goals

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is prepared to alter her government’s strict climate-change targets to pave the way for her plan to create a liquefied natural gas industry in the province.

Ms. Clark is in Japan this week seeking investors and buyers for a string of proposed LNG plants on British Columbia’s north coast. In an interview before her departure, she said she expects legislated targets to reduce the province’s emissions will have to change.

The Premier’s jobs plan rests on three LNG plants being up and running by 2020. Creating LNG from natural gas is an energy-intensive process, and while Ms. Clark hopes those plants would run primarily on renewable energy, she acknowledged they will have to burn some natural gas.

Jobs market strengthens, but who’s losing? Your kids

Canada’s jobs market has created 213,800 positions over the past year, with virtually all of the growth in full-time positions and none in part-time work.

The aggregate numbers mask deep splits in the labour market, though, on where we’re finding work, who’s getting it and what sectors are seeing all the growth.

The variations have myriad consequences for Canadian society. Regional divisions eventually will spark greater labour mobility. Still-high youth unemployment has a scarring effect that will last for years. And the natural resources boom may lead some people to consider a career change.

Output falling, euro zone heads for recession

Output at factories in the euro zone unexpectedly fell in March, the latest in a series of disappointing numbers signalling that the bloc’s recession may not be as mild as policy makers hope.

Industrial production in the 17 countries sharing the euro fell 0.3 per cent in March from February, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said on Monday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.4-per-cent increase in the month.

The figures stood in contrast with German data last week showing output in the euro zone’s largest economy up 2.8 per cent for the month, underlying the division in the bloc.

Many economists expect Eurostat to show on Tuesday that the euro zone entered its second recession in just three years at the end of March, with households suffering the effects of austerity programs aimed at cutting debt and deficits.

G20 Summit: RCMP acted reasonably, public complaints commission says

OTTAWA—The RCMP acted in a “reasonable and appropriate” fashion during the Toronto G20 summit marred by violence and mass arrests, says the watchdog that keeps an eye on the national police force.

In its long-awaited investigation report, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP says there were no incidents of unreasonable force by the Mounties.

It also found RCMP planning was thorough, placement of security fencing justifiable and intelligence-gathering done with attention to the rights of demonstrators.

In addition, there was no indication that RCMP undercover operators or event monitors acted out of line or as agents provocateurs, the commission says in its report released Monday.

Jeff Rubin Q&A: What The World Will Look Like After The 'End Of Growth'

Jeff Rubin has a message for all the economists and central bankers out there, waiting with baited breath for rock-bottom interest rates to kick the world economy into high-gear: it’s not going to happen, and the sooner you realize that, the better.

As the straight-shooting former chief economist of CIBC World Markets argues in his new book, The End of Growth, triple-digit oil prices are here to stay -- a reality that will make it impossible for developed economies to return to the glory days of rapid expansion built on cheap credit and affordable fuel.

But as Rubin sees it, that’s not all bad news. Though he predicts permanently tepid growth will push Greece and Portugal into default, he also says it will reverse globalization, stop climate change in its tracks -- and put a limit on oil sands expansion.

Noam Chomsky on WikiLeaks, Obama’s Targeted Assassinations and Latin America’s Break From the U.S.

As the United States carries out another deadly drone strike in Yemen, Noam Chomsky compares the counterterrorism policies of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. "If the Bush administration didn’t like somebody, they’d kidnap them and send them to torture chambers,” Chomsky says. “If the Obama administration decides they don’t like somebody, they murder them." Chomsky also praises the whistleblowing activities of WikiLeaks, as well as the ongoing Latin American shift away from Washington’s long-running political and economic dominance.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Chomsky: Occupy Wall Street "Has Created Something That Didn’t Really Exist" in U.S. — Solidarity

Noam Chomsky says the Occupy movement has helped rebuild class solidarity and communities of mutual support on a level unseen since the time of the Great Depression. "The Occupy movement spontaneously created something that doesn’t really exist in the country: communities of mutual support, cooperation, open spaces for discussion ... just people doing things and helping each other," Chomsky says. "That’s very much missing. There is a massive propaganda—it’s been going on for a century, but picking up enormously—that you really shouldn’t care about anyone else, you should just care about yourself. ... To rebuild [class solidarity], even if it’s in small pieces of the society, can become very important, can change the conception of how a society ought to function." Chomsky also gives his assessment of President Obama, whom he says has attacked civil liberties in a way that has "gone beyond [George W.] Bush."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Noam Chomsky: Palestinian Hunger Strike a Protest Against "Violations of Elementary Human Rights"

We begin our hour-long interview with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky by discussing the Palestinian hunger strike. A tentative deal has reportedly been reached to end a landmark action that’s seen an estimated 2,000 jailed Palestinians go without food to pressure Israeli prison authorities to end the use of solitary confinement and ease a wide range of restrictions. "The hunger strikes are a protest against ... violations of the elementary human rights," Chomsky says. He is Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of dozens of books, most recently, "Occupy."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Opposition works to build outcry against Tory budget bill

Canada’s opposition parties plan to make life difficult for the Harper government and its wide-ranging budget bill, throwing up procedural roadblocks with the hope of splitting up the massive document and drawing public attention to some of its more controversial aspects.

“If this were an entirely closed loop and there was no one but Parliament paying attention, then there would be very little chance of any changes or improvements,” Nathan Cullen, the NDP House Leader, said in an interview on Sunday. “But, it’s not, thankfully. And our effort is to get the public involved because the government has shown that, under public pressure, it will bend.”

The 425-page bill would, among other things, dramatically rewrite Canada’s environmental assessment laws, increase the age at which Canadians can claim Old Age Security, make it harder to refuse work when receiving Employment Insurance, and scrap the office of the inspector-general of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The House of Commons will vote on Monday to send it to the finance committee of the Commons for study.

Some 600 PS executives to lose their jobs too

While unions and supporters have been busy raising the alarm about the more than 18,000 public servants who may be losing their jobs in the coming months, another less vocal and more often maligned group will also be feeling the pinch: executives.

An estimated 600 federal executives will be losing their jobs due to the $5.2-billion in cuts over three years, or $20.1-billion over five years, announced in the 2012 budget. Not represented by unions, they are left to fend for themselves when their jobs get cut, and exactly what that means for them and for the public service has not been widely discussed.

“We estimate that the executive cadre will be reduced by some 600 positions. That is the estimate that it’s approximately 7.4 per cent of the executive cadre,” Treasury Board’s Chief Human Resources Officer Daphne Meredith told the Senate National Finance Committee recently.

There were 6,966 executives, 42 deputy ministers and 37 associate deputy ministers in the core public service as of 2010-2011, the time for which the most recent statistics were available. In that same time, the core public service had 282,352 people.

Postmedia’s Ottawa bureau cuts ‘devastating’ as media re-evaluate role in online world

Postmedia’s layoffs last week of almost half its Ottawa bureau is “pretty devastating” and another sign that the newspaper industry is in trouble, forcing media companies to re-evaluate and restructure their operations.

Postmedia reporter Randy Boswell, a member of the Parliamentary bureau, said there’s some consolation in knowing the decision to cut the 25 reporter and editor jobs last week was “strictly a business decision,” but said the news, for an already relatively small bureau, was “pretty devastating.”

“There are a lot of close friendships and [it’s] a pretty collegial place, and to come in one day and hear that almost half of that group is going to be leaving is, like I said, pretty devastating,” said Mr. Boswell. “Pretty tough week for a semi-family.”

Other reporters said privately that the layoffs came as a surprise and that morale in the office was low after Postmedia announced that it would get out of the wire service business.

Government plans to cut $20.1-billion over five years

Most have been reporting the federal government will cut $5.2-billion over three years ending March 2015, but it will also cut $20.1-billion over five years ending March 2017, the government says.

 “I think the $5.2-billion over three years is a misunderstanding,” Chisholm Pothier, director of communications to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Ajax, Ont.) said in an email response to The Hill Times last week. “This round of savings begins this year, 2012-13, with $1.4 billion in savings and culminates in $5.2 billion a year in savings by 2015-16, [it’s] pretty clear on page 213 of the budget. So the number is $5.2 billion a year, ongoing, starting in 2015-16. Page 237 is talking about savings between 2011-12 and 2016-17. That’s a different time frame so a different number.”

When the government released its budget on March 29, it announced that there would be a $5.2-billion cut to government’s operations over three years, with more than 19,000 job losses to the public service. Looking past the three years, the Parliamentary Budget Office noted in a recent report that there will be $20-billion of cuts over five years.

Feds ‘abdicate’ responsibility for environment, have no plan

The federal government has “abdicated” responsibility for the environment, say opposition MPs who point to last week’s Environment Commissioner report showing that the majority-governing Conservatives have no climate change plan, that they did not comply with the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act which it is now repealing, and that contaminated sites post a risk to human health.

“I think it’s another sad day for the environment. This government has abdicated its responsibility to Canadians and to the international community,” Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North, Ont.) told The Hill Times last week. “I have grave concerns. Climate change is about a moral responsibility, intergenerational responsibility, and under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, they also had legal responsibility. Under the Budget Implementation Bill, they’re going to repeal that.”

Feds have no intention of changing course on F-35s: plans and priorities document

PARLIAMENT HILL—Official statements and a DND report that Cabinet tabled in the House of Commons last week indicate Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has no intention of changing course in its plan to acquire a fleet of 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets—which U.S. forecasts suggest will now cost Canada at least $41-billion to buy and maintain over an expected 30-year minimum lifetime.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement (Parry Sound-Muskoka, Ont.) tabled a new yearly planning report for the F-35 project in the Commons last Tuesday which shows the government expects its first aircraft delivery in 2017, one year later than an initial timetable set last year.

The report was produced despite the government’s earlier claims, following a scathing report on the project from Auditor General Michael Ferguson on April 3, that the F-35 plan wasn’t a done deal and, at one point, suggesting it was even considering other aircraft for replacement of Canada’s aging CF-18 jet fighters.

Can’t properly scrutinize $255-billlion in spending? Call in a super House-Senate committee

For Parliament to be up to the Herculean task of investigating billions in government spending, it needs to assemble a super committee of dedicated politicians, says an expert in democracy and government.

“There’s never been a golden era when Parliament was effective in examining the spending proposals of government, in any systematic, comprehensive and in-depth manner,” said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba.

To usher in a new era of competency, he recommended to the House Government Operations Committee last week that Parliament create a committee of about 40 MPs and Senators who would be in charge of studying government programs and the estimates documents the government uses to request funding. So far this year, the estimates detail more than $250-billion in spending. The House Government Operations Committee has been studying ways to improve the House of Commons’ scrutiny of the estimates since February.

Banks, telecoms move on new mobile payment system

Canada’s banking industry is preparing a sweeping set of new guidelines that will change the way Canadians pay for goods at retailers across the country.

The new guidelines, which are expected to be made public as early as Monday, will open the door for partnerships between financial institutions and telecommunications companies to embed credit card and debit card information inside smartphones.

Those standards were agreed upon by the country’s largest banks late on Friday at a meeting of the Canadian Bankers Association, and will set out rules for “how banks will operate in this new world,” a source close to the situation told The Globe and Mail.

At stake is the ability for consumers to eventually store various payment credentials on their mobile phones, and use those devices, rather than plastic cards, to pay at cash registers – thereby eliminating the need to pull out wallets or fumble through purses.

Iran nuclear facility: Drawing based on insider info shows explosives containment chamber

VIENNA—A drawing based on information from inside an Iranian military site shows an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that UN inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted there. Iran denies such testing and has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such a chamber.

The computer-generated drawing was provided to The Associated Press by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists, despite Tehran’s refusal to acknowledge it.

The official said the image is based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, southeast of Tehran, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford holds the key to environmental peace

There is mounting evidence that Stephen Harper’s determination to make Canada a resource-based economic power may have awakened a sleeping giant.

The environment is back on the Canadian political radar, at least for the moment.

At the very least, the prime minister’s decision to turn back the clock on environmental assessment in this country has crystallized the huge gulf between his vision for this nation and that of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, a former provincial environment minister.

But, for the moment, Harper and Mulcair can step aside.

The most important voice on this issue in Canada today belongs to Alison Redford.