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.]

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip calls Bill C-38 “fault line” for Canada’s future

The president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) held nothing back today (June 4) as he panned the federal government’s omnibus budget Bill C-38.

“Bill C-38 is absolutely the turning point in the history of this country and the fault line that will determine the future of this country,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told reporters at the media conference convened by several prominent environmental groups concerned about the size and scope of the proposed legislation. “I urge all Canadians to go and understand that silence is not an option. We all have a duty and an obligation to our grandchildren and their grandchildren to speak out against this legislation, Bill C-38.”

46% Americans Believe In Creationism According To Latest Gallup Poll

A new Gallup poll measures Americans' belief in the origin of human beings, and how this belief correlates with church attendance, political party affiliation and education level. The poll was conducted by interviewing a random sample of 1,012 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The following question was asked to determine Americans' views on origin of human beings:

Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?
1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process,
2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process,
3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at once time within the last 10,000 years or so.

Coastal GasLink Pipeline: TransCanada To Build, Operate $4-Billion Line For Shell

VANCOUVER - TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) said Tuesday it has been chosen by Shell Canada Ltd. to build, own and operate a $4-billion natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia.

The Calgary-based company said the pipeline will transport natural gas from the Montney region in northeastern B.C. to a liquefied natural gas export facility near Kitimat, B.C.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is expected to run about 700 kilometres with an estimated initial capacity of 1.7 billion cubic feet per day. An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 jobs will be created to construct the line over two to three years.

Bank Of Canada Interest Rate Decision June 2012: Carney Warns On Global Economy, Keeps Rate Steady

OTTAWA - The Bank of Canada is holding off on raising interest rates for awhile longer — perhaps a lot longer — citing worsening global conditions and an uneven Canadian recovery that is not quite strong as advertised.

The decision to keep the bank's trendsetting overnight rate at one per cent for the 14th consecutive policy announcement was widely expected.

Also not surprisingly, the Bank of Canada has quickly acknowledged that the hopeful monetary policy review delivered by Gov. Mark Carney in April may have been premature.
In a more pessimistic take, Carney and his policy setting council conceded in Tuesday's announcement that the outlook for global growth has weakened in the past few weeks, and that Europe has gone from a risky environment to one in which the risks are now reality.

"This is leading to a sharp deterioration in global financial conditions," the bank said in a statement accompanying its rate announcement.

As if on cue, Spain sent out a distress signal prior to Tuesday's emergency G7 finance ministers' conference call, which included Canada's Jim Flaherty, saying it was having difficulty accessing credit at affordable rates.

Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said given the developments, Carney had no choice but soften his previous position that the time to raise rates was approaching. The bank governor did not completely reverse course, but that may be forthcoming in the next statement in July, Holt said.

"In a perfect world the bank would be raising rates right now," he said. "But the geopolitical turn of events and as well as the domestic softens in sectors outside of housing won't allow them to do so."

Holt said he expected an even more dovish outlook from the bank in July, when it releases its next comprehensive assessment of the world and Canadian economies.

"In our opinion, the bank went as far as it could to reduce the hawkish content of its statement, without interfering with its credibility, but clearly the urge to hike is less intense than in April," agreed Jimmy Jean of Desjardins Securities.

"This sets the stage for the assessment of a wider output gap than previously expected, in (July), thus crystallizing what we feel will be a repetition of the 2011 episode, where the bank was forced to the sidelines by overriding global developments."

The bank's statement made clear that its council of governors believes the problems extend beyond Europe.

"While the U.S. economy continues to expand at a modest pace, economic activity in emerging-market economies is slowing a bit faster and a bit more broadly than had been expected," the bank said.

In Canada, it conceded that the 1.9 per cent growth in gross domestic product registered in the first quarter was disappointing — the bank indicated in April it was looking for 2.5 per cent growth. But it said overall the economy is holding up because of a strong housing sector, still-positive business and consumer confidence, and the low interest rate environment.

Still, it noted that difficult foreign markets along with the persistent strength of the Canadian dollar mean exports will remain weak. Although credit has boosted growth, the bank took note that "households continue to add to their debt burden in an environment of modest income growth."

Carney has long expressed concern that Canadians were borrowing too much it times of low interest rates, and will be trapped with high payment obligations once rates start normalizing. It is believed to be one of the main reasons the central banker wants to start raising rates as quickly as conditions allow.

Holt said he believes the governor is worried about following in the path of the U.S. in response to the 2001 slump, when the Federal Reserve kept interest rates very low for years, triggering irresponsible lending and a housing bubble.

But he adds the Canadian situation is different. Growth in household debt is already slowing, he said, and the federal financial watchdog is clamping down on the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. and other financial institutions.

The bank and markets will get a better reading of how the Canadian economy is holding up against the stiffening headwinds from abroad on Friday when Statistics Canada reports on job growth — or contraction — for the month of May.

The past two months have seen employment expand by an eye-popping 140,000 jobs, but many economists are not convinced and expect to see some payback Friday and in subsequent months.

In the one-page statement, Carney makes the point he would still like to return to a more normal policy setting if conditions would allow him.

"To the extent that the economic expansion continues and the current excess supply in the economy is gradually absorbed, some modest withdrawal of the present considerable monetary stimulus may become appropriate," he writes.

That's a little less hawkish that what Carney said in April, but the intent remains the same.

The good news is that the bank has no pressure from inflation. With the economy operating with excess capacity and gasoline prices dropping, it expects the consumer price index to drop below two per cent in the next little while.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: Julian Beltrame

NDP's Bill C-38 Consultations On Omnibus Budget Bill Released

Ottawa -- Canadians may not be protesting in the streets against the Conservatives' massive omnibus budget bill, but they will when they notice its impact on their day-to-day lives, the NDP warns.

NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen released his party's report on its cross-country budget bill consultations Tuesday morning and said the NDP is still hoping the federal government will come to its senses and agree to split the bill up to allow for further study.

People passionately care about what's been buried in the budget implementation act, Cullen said.

Thomas Mulcair and the politics of déjà vu

Having been out of the country for several weeks, it takes Ha few days to catch up on the very busy Thomas Mulcair. And when one does, the overwhelming sense is déjà vu.

It conjures up memories of David Lewis, back when the federal NDP rhetoric was full of "blue-eyed sheiks" and "corporate welfare bums." Heady stuff, but a trifle problematic.

Take all this talk about "Dutch disease," and how a soaring, resource-driven Canadian dollar is crippling manufacturing.

To be sure, the dollar is currently strong — for instance, trading a little above par for eight of the last 12 months. But there's nothing historically unusual about a strong dollar.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair treads lightly while visiting the oilsands

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair dropped into Alberta last week for his first visit to the oilsands. He came, he saw and almost immediately after headed for Saskatchewan. His appearance didn’t win him much support. But it didn’t do him any harm either.

That’s because Mulcair was careful not to fan the flames of western anger as he did earlier when he said that rapid development of the oilsands was a job-killer for central Canada’s manufacturing sector and something needed to be done about it.

While in Alberta Mulcair didn’t say much about the effect of oilsands development on the manufacturing sector. Instead, he called for stronger environmental regulations and enforcement of the regulations now in place in order to level the economic playing field. That was a smart move that left editorial writers and other commentators holding their fire.

Wall Street CEO pay rises 20% as No. 1 on rich list claims $30 million

In October 2010, private-equity baron Henry Roberts Kravis, in one of the grandest gestures of his life, pledged $100 million to his alma mater, Columbia Business School, to help pay for the expansion of its upper Manhattan campus. His ability to throw that kind of cash around was helped by the start of trading of his buyout company, KKR & Co., on the New York Stock Exchange three months earlier.

While the listing swelled Kravis’s personal wealth, it also exposed him to the rigors of the U.S. corporate reporting process. As a result, the world now knows that in 2011, Kravis was awarded $30 million in salary and other compensation by KKR’s board, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its July issue.

Nunavut Food Price Rebellion: Where a box of macaroni costs $13.99

There are three sure things in Nunavut: death, taxes and extremely high food prices.

Even so, Leesee Papatsie, a mother of five living in Iqaluit, says enough is enough and has launched her own protest to bring attention to prices that would have people in southern Ontario marching in the streets.

“I have one simple message: prices are too high here in the north,” Papatsie told the Toronto StarTuesday.

F-35 fighters: Government photo-op to announce jet purchase cost taxpayers over $47,000

OTTAWA—An oft-maligned 2010 news conference to announce a plan to buy 65 stealth fighters cost taxpayers more than $47,000, say documents tabled in Parliament.

The figure was revealed by Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a written response to an opposition question.

Liberal defence critic John McKay wanted details about the event, which saw MacKay, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Treasury Board President Tony Clement pose with an F-35 mock-up built by manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

CBO: Federal debt to double in 15 years

The federal government is staring at a disastrous fiscal picture with debt approaching 200 percent of GDP within two decades if Congress doesn’t change course on spending and taxes, according to the latest analysis by the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday.

The CBO said it’s the worst picture since a brief period during World War II when spending ballooned to fund the military campaign.

“In the past few years, the federal government has been recording the largest budget deficits since 1945, both in dollar terms and as a share of the economy. Consequently, the amount of federal debt held by the public has surged,” the CBO report said in a long-term budget outlook that paints a shockingly dark picture of government finances.

Unemployed bussed in to steward river pageant

A group of long-term unemployed jobseekers were bussed into London to work as unpaid stewards during the diamond jubilee celebrations and told to sleep under London Bridge before working on the river pageant.

Up to 30 jobseekers and another 50 people on apprentice wages were taken to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth as part of the government's Work Programme.

Two jobseekers, who did not want to be identified in case they lost their benefits, said they had to camp under London Bridge the night before the pageant. They told the Guardian they had to change into security gear in public, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift in the pouring rain on the banks of the Thames on Sunday.

Conservative politics of tragedy

There’s a reason why so-called law-and-order issues are favoured by conservatives. It’s because, politically, law-and-order issues favour conservatives. These tragedies tend to follow a sad pattern. First, the crime.

As the whole country knows by now, there was a fatal weekend shooting at Toronto’s crowded Eaton Centre food court, which saw a man killed, many hurt, and a boy critically wounded.

As in the 2005 shooting of teenaged Jane Creba — during a federal election campaign, no less, and a short walk from the latest killing — emotions ran high. There were popular expressions of shock and anger, and the death penalty was up for discussion once again. Next, the politicians — conservative ones, almost always — seemingly rush to capitalize on it. Thus, Toronto’s mayor and Canada’s prime minister, wasted no time in condemning the violence at the Eaton Centre and promising swift and harsh justice.

China Air Pollution: Official Says Illegal For Foreign Embassies To Issue Readings

BEIJING, June 5 (Reuters) - A senior Chinese official demanded on Tuesday that foreign embassies stop issuing air pollution readings, saying it was against the law and diplomatic conventions, in pointed criticism of a closely watched U.S. embassy index.

The level of air pollution in China's heaving capital varies, depending on the wind, but a cocktail of smokestack emissions, vehicle exhaust, dust and aerosols often blankets the city in a pungent, beige shroud for days on end.

Many residents dismiss the common official readings of "slight" pollution in Beijing as grossly under-stated.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles Could Join Royal Canadian Navy According To MacKay

OTTAWA - No hands on deck required.

The Royal Canadian Navy is exploring options for unmanned ships, something Defence Minister Peter MacKay says could appear in the not-too-distant future.

The unmanned surface vehicles, or USVs, are the naval equivalent of unmanned aerial vehicles, the remote-control drones that are fast becoming the weapon choice for the Obama administration in the growing number of recent targeted killings of al-Qaida terrorists.

Quebec student leaders try to calm Montreal festival fears

Quebec student leaders provided assurances Monday that they won't disrupt the city's upcoming festival season, saying claims that they pose a threat to Montreal's tourism industry have been wildly overblown as part of a general effort to discredit their movement.

The heads of three of the province's four major student associations brought that message to a meeting with the president of the Just for Laughs comedy festival, Gilbert Rozon.

"We broke the myth that the student movement is violent, that it wants to disrupt," said Martine Desjardins, president of the biggest of the groups, the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ).

Quebec students spur long-overdue ideological debate

After half century of political discourse restricted to the confines of Quebec’s sovereignty, the province is beginning to have a long-overdue discussion about its future that is unencumbered by the yoke of the sovereignist-federalist debate.

The ongoing student crisis is the first major fissure to appear in Quebec society – at least since the October Crisis of 1970 – that is not centered on the question of the province’s independence. While this is a major development in its political evolution, the current charade demonstrates how unaccustomed we are to a political dialogue divorced from the passion of the sovereignty debate as this same fervor has carried over into what should be a routine public-policy dispute.

How the Conservatives' brief love affair with environmentalism came to an ugly end

OTTAWA — When a deal to protect B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest was brokered in January 2007, one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most trusted lieutenants singled out the environmental and social justice organization Tides Canada as being crucial in Ottawa's decision to contribute $30 million to the plan.

John Baird, then Harper's new environment minister and now head of foreign affairs, said the Harper government acted due to fear that the unprecedented $60-million contribution raised by Vancouver-based Tides - the vast majority from U.S. foundations - was in jeopardy of being lost to the total $120-million fund.

May: Budget bill an outrage

The fate of this year’s and all future omnibus budget bills will be placed in the hands of the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green party, rose Monday in the House on a point of order to argue that the Conservatives’ budget bill is so broad, it breaks parliamentary rules.

She asked Speaker Andrew Scheer to rule the bill out of order, thus sending it back to the government to be chopped into smaller pieces.

“I think there’s nothing less at stake than the future of the respect of the Canadian public for parliamentary democracy,” May said in an interview.

“This bill is an outrage.”

Stephen Harper government turns environmentalists into public enemies

Nicole Eaton may be Canada’s Mitt Romney.

The Republican presidential candidate comes across as a wealthy patrician with little sense of how tough the world can be for people who don’t have tens of millions of dollars at their disposal.

That tendency also seems to afflict Eaton, a wealthy Conservative fundraiser appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper. She’s a leading figure in the Harper government’s campaign to aggressively go after environmental activist groups by threatening their charitable status.

“I don’t understand their fear of a chill,” Eaton told the Globe and Mail last week. Eaton, who was born wealthy and married into the Canadian department store fortune, has probably never experienced the kind of fear that the Harper government seems bent on instilling in environmental activists who dare to challenge its agenda.

French endures on Parliament Hill thanks to the Bloc Québécois

MONTREAL—When Lucien Bouchard and his Bloc Québécois cohort stormed Parliament Hill in the mid-1990s, they certainly did not see themselves as the agents of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s goal of a Parliament that reflects Canada’s linguistic duality.

Ironically, the Bloc — which came to the federal capital to lead Quebec out of Parliament — may come to be best remembered for turning the House of Commons into a francophone-friendly environment.

New data about the use of French in the Commons suggests that over its two decades on the Hill, the Bloc presided over the equivalent of a cultural revolution. It endures to this day.
For the purposes of the study, Scott Piroth — a lecturer at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University — sampled five question periods selected at random in every Parliament since 1958 for a total of 5,532 questions and answers.

Jean Charest: The Little Chieftain

Most thought it was over, done with, and good riddance too. What in Quebec was called La Grande Noirceur (The Dark Era), the reign of Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale government was to have ended with the death of le Chef (the Chieftain).

Few doubted the 1960s' Quiet Revolution represented a democratic turn, and a new beginning. Under Premier Jean Lesage, with René Levesque championing nationalized electricity, it was agreed the election of a progressive Quebec Liberal party ensured the old paternalist order was gone, forever.

Except that Quebec is now living through La Petite Noirceur (Dark Era Lite). The choice of a failed federal Conservative leader, Jean Charest, to head the Quebec Liberal party, and the 2003 election which carried him to power, ended up turning back the clock. In today's Quebec, Charest is playing Duplessis, and the Liberals are acting as the Union Nationale, complete with alleged scandals in the construction industry Premier Charest was forced to acknowledge by creating a public commission of inquiry (after resisting for two years).

U.S. drone attack kills Al Qaeda’s No. 2: Officials

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN—Pakistan has evidence that Al Qaeda's second in command was in a house hit by a U.S. drone strike in the country's northwest tribal region, intelligence officials said Tuesday.

U.S. officials have said they were targeting Abu Yahya al-Libi in Monday's strike in Khassu Khel village in the North Waziristan tribal area and were “optimistic” he was among those killed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the drone program.

U.S. officials confirmed al-Libi’s death on Tuesday.

Militants and residents in the area told Pakistani agents that al-Libi was in the house when it was hit, said intelligence officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

How do you spell the word tyranny? I spell it: HARPER

In another slick and precisely timed move the Harperites decided to derail the first meeting of the Parliamentary Committee looking into the environmental elements contained in the massive Bill C-38. This is the bill which is aimed at gutting objective environmental assessment in Canada and ensuring that environmental protection is a thing of the past. The three ministers made their appearance at the committee meeting without  giving adequate notice to the members of the committee or to the public that they would be in attendance.  They then proceeded to present three long winded statements that provided little clarification about the bill and successfully took all the time up that the opposition had, leaving barely 20 minutes to ask questions about the environmental implications and risks posed by such a massive change in direction regarding the government’s environmental policy.

Lies, damn lies and Vic Toews

In spite of some initial setbacks, Canada's long-dreaded 'warrantless wiretapping' legislation isn't dead yet.

Bill C-30, originally introduced in February by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews as the Lawful Access Act, has profoundly negative implications for social movements, democracy and an open internet. If passed, it will go a long way toward establishing a surveillance society in Canada.

As Prof. David Murakami-Wood noted when I interviewed him last year, this legislation is "part of a wider campaign to control the internet" that is being waged in Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, China and elsewhere. Murakami-Wood is one in a long line of Canadian experts, including the government's own privacy commissioner, who have come out strongly against a Bill that was greeted with almost universal disdain. A mere hour after tabling it, C-30 was rebranded by Toews as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act (he must have figured we weren't going to fall for the old 'terrorism' bugaboo).

Demonizing the environmental movement

Normally, having 10 cabinet ministers fan out to tell people you’re wrong is unhelpful. But these are not normal times. Canada is seeing things that most democracies don’t. So it was oddly reassuring for environmentalists to see ministers disagreeing with us from Newfoundland to B.C. on Monday.

I say reassuring because it wasn’t the first time environmentalists have caught cabinet’s eye lately. We’ve been called “radicals” and “adversaries” of the country. The environment minister accuses us of “money laundering.” These are not things you hear governments say about charities in democracies. They are also so bizarre that the government perhaps felt it was time to tone it down, thus the multi-minister road show.

Rajat Gupta, Former Goldman Sachs Director, Hears CEO's Testimony At Insider Trading Trial

At the insider trading trial of former Goldman Sachs Director Rajat K. Gupta Monday, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein offered testimony supporting key parts of the prosecution's case.

Gupta, who previously headed consulting firm McKinsey & Company, is accused of passing non-public information about Goldman on to jailed Galleon Management Founder Raj Rajaratnam, who allegedly used it in trading. Gupta is charged with conspiracy and securities fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

On Monday, Blankfein confirmed Gupta's presence on a conference call the afternoon of Sept. 23, 2008, during which the Goldman Sachs Board of Directors debated whether to accept $5 billion from investor Warren Buffett at the onset of the financial crisis. Prosecutors allege that shortly after that call, Gupta phoned Rajaratnam to pass along information about the deal.

AIG CEO Robert Benmosche: 80-Year-Old Europeans Need To Be Working

This isn't your grandpa's economy. But it could still be yours once you're his age.

Robert Benmosche, chief executive of the recently bailed-out and largely government-owned American International Group, told Bloomberg from his seaside villa that he thinks the eurozone debt crisis will push the retirement age in the region way up.

"Retirement ages will have to move to 70, 80 years old," he said. “That would make pensions, medical services more affordable. They will keep people working longer and will take that burden off of the youth.”

Do We Need a Poor People's Coming-Out Movement?

Governor Andrew Cuomo says raising the minimum wage in New York is harder than passing marriage equality. Is that true? Is it spin? If we were to say it’s true—is it all about money, or could it be that there’s something we need, namely a coming-out movement about poverty in America?

Democrats in the New York State Assembly have passed a bill to raise the minimum wage from the federal $7.25 to $8.50 an hour. Last week, during a Capitol press conference, the governor said this is probably where the bill is stuck at least for this session. There’s likely to be no passing a minimum wage hike through the Republican-controlled Senate, the issue’s just too divisive, said the governor. Isn’t this the same savvy politician who last year convinced four Senate Republicans to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage? Cuomo insisted that this time it’s different.

How the Paycheck Fairness Act Can Help Democrats Win Elections for Years to Come

The latest shot across the bow in the battle for women’s hearts and votes: a push for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Senate will begin debate on the bill later today now that it’s back in session, with a vote lined up for tomorrow. The bill is expected to fail, and it looked even more doomed after the House voted not to consider it on Thursday. Yet this bill doesn’t just make policy sense for all the women earning less than their male counterparts. It makes political sense for Democrats, giving women a reason to head to the polls and, perhaps more important, more financial firepower to spend on political campaigns for years to come.

The act is undoubtedly sound policy. The gender wage gap has barely budged in recent decades, and the bill aims to help reduce it by protecting workers from retaliation if they compare wages. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has found that nearly half of all workers are either forbidden or strongly discouraged from sharing that information, yet “pay secrecy makes it difficult for women and men to find out whether they are paid fairly, and undermines attempts to reduce the gender wage gap.” As Irin Carmon wrote last week, this secrecy is likely a root cause of the lack of pay discrimination cases brought against employers. It may be illegal to pay women differently for the same work, but they’ll be in the dark about what’s going on unless they can compare their pay to their coworkers’.

5 Ways Canadians Are Protesting The Budget Bill

Since the government tabled its budget implementation bill on April 26, federal opposition parties, provincial premiers, the parliamentary budget officer, policy experts and a growing number of environmental groups have expressed concern with the omnibus legislation.

While some of the more populist measures – such as an increase in the duty-free limits on goods purchased south of the border, the elimination of the penny, and the phasing out of the SIN card – were welcomed, other changes have not seen the same support.

The budget bill has elicited negative reaction to its more controversial measures: changes to environmental regulations, employment insurance reform, or an increase in the age of eligibility for Old Age Security benefits.

Income And Health Care Linked In Pioneering New Study

Income is a significant factor in determining why people are hospitalized in Toronto, where the richest and poorest patients are being admitted for very different reasons, a pioneering new study has found.

Whereas more affluent patients are more likely to be hospitalized for surgeries, such as cataract removal and hip replacements, lower-income patients are more commonly treated for mental health issues and non-urgent complaints. They are also more likely to occupy hospital beds while awaiting transfer to nursing homes and other community-based care.

The first of its kind in Toronto -- and possibly Canada -- to investigate the link between income and hospital treatment patterns, the study is intended to provide health care professionals with a more accurate picture of the patients they see.

Government knew last year it couldn't afford billions in defence spending: documents

OTTAWA — The Conservative government knew as far back as last year that Defence Department budget cuts had made its multi-billion-dollar shopping list of military equipment “unaffordable,” Postmedia News has learned.

As a result, National Defence officials have been urging the government since May 2011 to push the reset button and re-evaluate “the level of ambition” for its vaunted plan to rebuild the Canadian Forces.

The Canada First Defence Strategy, the centrepiece of the Conservative government’s long-term vision for the military, was unveiled with much fanfare in May 2008 and promised to invest $490 billion in new equipment and upgrades over the next 20 years.

Resistance to Conservatives' omnibus budget bill grows

For a while it looked like the Conservative government would get an easy ride for its omnibus budget bill, C-38.

In the early days Conservative apologists, such as Scott Proudfoot of the lobbying firm Hillwatch, characterized it as a "mild budget" - and that characterization had considerable resonance with the national media and the business community.

In an analysis posted on the Hillwatch website shortly after budget day last March, Proudfoot argued that the Conservatives' most recent budget would disappoint those who had hoped for a sharp rightward turn when Harper won a majority.

"There is some slight pruning, but no slash and burn," Proudfoot wrote.

Opposition MPs take issue with Public Works Minister Ambrose's appearance at CANSEC trade show

PARLIAMENT HILL—Opposition MPs are furious Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose appeared at an arms industry trade show in Ottawa last week while the government was making plans to shut down a House committee inquiry into the controversial $25-billion F-35 stealth fighter jet acquisition without giving the committee an opportunity to grill her or Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson rebuked the Public Works department along with National Defence, in a highly critical report on a chain of F-35 procurement decisions that he said contravened normal procurement policies. This included a Public Works decision to allow National Defence to procure 65 F-35 fighter jets without competing bids from other aircraft manufacturers, while National Defence and the federal Cabinet withheld $10-billion worth of F-35 costs from the public and Parliament.

Crude glut, price plunge put oil sands projects at risk

Oil sands producers face forced slowdowns in spending, or even outright project cancellations, as a glut of new production in the United States magnifies the pain of falling oil prices for Canadian energy companies.

Crude prices have now tum bled to a point where some oil sands plants are nearing break-even levels, and the likelihood that low prices will persist is a matter of serious concern for Alberta’s most important industry, international energy research firm Wood Mackenzie warned Monday.

The oil sands region is one of the costliest in the world to develop. And as oil prices tumble, it is vulnerable.

Canada’s military hunting for seven new foreign bases

OTTAWA—The military is hunting for seven strategically placed nations willing to host a network of Canadian bases aimed at cutting costs and boosting response times to future wars, disasters and humanitarian crises.

Two of those bases — in Germany and Kuwait — have already materialized, but the full extent of the plan to create overseas beachheads for military planes, ships and equipment has not been previously acknowledged.

Defence officials and diplomats, armed with a $500,000 budget, are now working to finalize agreements with governments in some of the most volatile parts of the world.

From dreams to drones: who is the real Barack Obama?

Barack Obama, according to Foreign Policy magazine, "has become George W Bush on steroids". Armed with a "kill list", the Nobel peace laureate now hosts "Tuesday terror" meetings at the White House to discuss targets of drone attacks in Pakistan and at least five other countries. The latest of these killed 17 people near the border with Afghanistan today .

Unlike the slacker Bush, who famously disdained specifics, Obama routinely deploys his Ivy League training in law. Many among the dozens of "suspected militants" massacred by drones in the last three days in northwestern Pakistan are likely to be innocent. Reports gathered by NGOs and Pakistani media about previous attacks speak of a collateral damage running into hundreds, and deepening anger and hostility to the United States. No matter: in Obama's legally watertight bureaucracy, drone attacks are not publicly acknowledged; or if they have to be, civilian deaths are flatly denied and all the adult dead categorised as "combatants".

The Commons: Peter Kent invites you to celebrate his work

The Scene. “One step forward,” Thomas Mulcair sighed, “four steps back.”

By Mr. Mulcair’s telling, the Environment Minister had just last week conceded the need for better environmental monitoring. But today, the leader of the opposition, reported, there was news that the government had decided to eliminate a unit dedicated to the study of smoke stack pollution. “What is the plan to replace Environment Canada’s smoke stack pollution team?” Mr. Mulcair asked of no one in particular. “The plan is to outsource its work to that great environmental country, the United States.”

He slowly pumped his fist to the beat as he delivered the question. “Could the Conservatives tell us how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to monitor smokestack pollution at a Canadian coal-fired power plant?”

Abuse of process: Bill C-38 and the Harper agenda

June 4th, 2012 has the dubious distinction of being BlackOutSpeakOut day across Canada. Spearheaded by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, the Pembina Institute, the Sierra Club of Canada, the World Wildlife Fund, and West Coast Environmental Law, together with (at last count) 532 other organizations taking part as partners, they include a veritable who's who of the Canadian environmental movement. One would be hard pressed to find a credible environmental organization in the country that is not participating.