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, June 11, 2012

Nunavut Food Prices: Poverty, High Costs Of Northern Businesses Leave Some Inuit Unable To Cope With Expenses

For those in Canada’s south, seeing the price of food in Nunavut induced instant sticker shock.

However $105 cases of water, $28 heads of cabbage and $55 boxes of infant formula are only one piece of the poverty puzzle that Northern communities face.

Contrary to the myth, living in the North doesn’t guarantee high wages. Inuit living in the territories make far less than non-Aboriginals in the same region — about $43,378 less. Within Inuit Nunangat, the traditional Inuit homeland, non-Aboriginals made an average of $50,128 according to 2005 Statistics Canada numbers. For Inuit, it was only $16,669.

Canada's massive shipbuilding plan headed for stormy seas

On a warm but cloudy afternoon at the beginning of May, Prime Minister Stephen Harper participated in the unveiling of a new monument for the Royal Canadian Navy. Erected within sight of Parliament Hill and symbolically surrounded on three sides by the Ottawa River, the monument was being dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of sailors who have served in the navy during its 112-year history.

"Surrounded as we are by three oceans, it can truly be said that Canada and its economy float on salt water," the prime minister said. "Such a nation must have a navy. A navy that serves, a navy that protects."

EI reform: Atlantic premiers may have to fight

One day many years ago, then-premier John Buchanan stood at the window of Province House, bemusedly watching a protest over changes to fisheries programs. It was standard fare: a hundred or so placard-waving, chanting fishery folk stomping around in the rain.

A reporter wanted to know why the protest was happening in Halifax when fisheries were under federal control and the program changes came from Ottawa.

“It’s too far to travel and too expensive to go up there,” Buchanan explained with a shrug. “They protest here because it’s closer to home.”

Riel House historic site closes its doors due to Parks Canada cuts

WINNIPEG - Historic Riel House, where Louis Riel lay in state after he was hanged, is closing its doors.

The national historic site, located in south Winnipeg, will cease all interpretive services and likely warehouse its historic artifacts after this summer.

As part of federal budget cuts, the Winnipeg Free Press reports Parks Canada has decided to terminate its contract with the St. Boniface Historical Society. The society hires and trains the four or five costumed interpreters who keep the 131-year-old house open between May and August for school tours, summer tourists and events.

NATO order last year ended Canadian transfer of Taliban prisoners to Afghans

OTTAWA - Canadian troops quietly stopped handing captured Taliban fighters over to Afghan authorities in mid-2011, almost six months before the Harper government publicly acknowledged the change to the controversial policy.

An order by NATO's southern command in Afghanistan ultimately ended the politically incendiary practice of turning the prisoners over to the Afghans.

The halt to transfers happened just as the Canadian combat mission in Kandahar drew to a close and U.S. forces took full control of the restive province.

Riding roughshod over Dief’s legacy

Eager to paint the country in a Conservative hue, the federal government recently put John Diefenbaker’s name on a prominent Ottawa building, a human rights prize and an icebreaker.

The government is showing much less reverence for the former Tory prime minister’s most enduring achievement – the National Energy Board.

The “Chief” created the NEB in 1959 to ensure, as he put it, that “Canada’s energy resources are used effectively and prudently, to the best advantage of Canadians.”

Paul Martin critical of Mulcair's 'Dutch disease' comments

Former prime minister Paul Martin added his name Monday to the list of leaders unhappy with recent remarks by federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair about Alberta's oilsands.

Martin says it's overly simplistic for Mulcair to blame Canada's prosperous oilsands for artificially elevating the dollar and hurting manufacturing exports.

"To simplify what is a really important issue like that really does nobody a service," Martin told reporters Monday.

Tories divided over NDP bilingualism bill

OTTAWA — An internal Conservative party debate on bilingualism in Canada has led the Harper government to review its options over legislation introduced by the Opposition New Democrats that would require all Parliamentary officers and watchdogs, such as the auditor general, to speak both of Canada's official languages.

The debate prompted Quebec's Maxime Bernier to come out in support of the bill, the Language Skills Act, last month before his government officially took a position.

While some cabinet colleagues were sitting on the fence, some have openly opposed the principle that the officers of Parliament should speak both French and English.

Voter-contact records show work not listed on Del Mastro election spending report: source

OTTAWA — Elections Canada has obtained records itemizing voter-contact work performed by an Ottawa company for Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro that appear not to be listed on his election spending report.

Elections Canada has time-stamped logs detailing between 25,000 and 30,000 phone calls — including 7,500-10,000 “connects” — all of which were made during the election campaign, someone familiar with the documents said Monday. “All of this work was conducted solely during the writ period,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Commons: Question of the day — ‘What is a fabulation?’

The Scene. For an omnibus bill, an omnibus question.

“Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives’ Trojan Horse budget will slash vital public services that Canadians rely on: food inspections, border security, research and development, housing, health care, employment insurance, Old Age Security. The list goes on and on,” Thomas Mulcair reported.

There were grumbles and objections from the government side.

“The Conservatives cannot even tell Parliament the details of their own proposals or how much they will cost. If the Conservatives are so proud of all these cuts, why are they hiding them?” the leader of the opposition asked, the first of three questions tabled with his opening opportunity. “Why are they ramming them through? If they are so good, why not study them?”

Feds plan to limit debate twice on sweeping omnibus budget bill this week

PARLIAMENT HILL—The federal government plans to limit debate twice this week to ram its sweeping omnibus budget bill through the Commons by Friday, The Hill Times has learned.

But MPs say the government rush on the massive bill—which amends 70 acts and gives the federal government new powers to speed up a massive and controversial project to ship Alberta oilsands bitumen to China and other resource developments—is related more to the 2015 federal election than any pressing fiscal requirement to get the budget legislation through the House before Parliament’s summer adjournment in two weeks.

Canada dismisses U.S. concern over fake military parts

The Canadian government is ignoring U.S. warnings that a flood of bogus military parts from China has been discovered in American-made fighter jets, transport planes, missiles and other weapons, potentially putting the lives of Armed Forces personnel at risk.

A 14-month U.S. Congressional investigation uncovered 1,800 cases of counterfeit electronic components for American military equipment, in total involving over one million bogus parts.

Investigators discovered fake electronic components in all kinds of military equipment, including: targeting systems for helicopter-launched hellfire missiles; instrument panels of military cargo planes; mission computers for interceptor rockets and in crucial ice-detection sensors for naval patrol aircraft.

Native patience runs thin four years after residential-school apology

Four years after Stephen Harper offered an unfettered apology for residential schools, the Prime Minister is at a turning point in his relationship with aboriginal people, Shawn Atleo says.

Mr. Harper can either take major, collaborative action to erase the deep and lingering effects of a school system that separated 150,000 children from their families, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said, or he can persist in chipping away at policy with small, unilateral measures and making grandiose promises that amount to little else besides more procedures.

Harper applauds Spain bailout, touts ‘Canadian approach’ to economy

Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday managed to dodge the stormy protests that have rocked Montreal for months, delivering a speech under heavy security that promoted his government’s vision for economic recovery.

Addressing a major economic conference, Mr. Harper applauded the bailout of Spain’s banks over the weekend as an example of a Europe-only solution to its nations’ economic turmoil.

On a rare visit to Quebec, Mr. Harper used the bailout inked by euro zone finance ministers to underscore his government’s position that Canada should not pump money into rescuing Europe’s troubled economies.

Nearly a quarter of Toronto residents live in poverty

Much talk on Monday about Tax Freedom Day in Canada; little or nothing about Destitution Day, June 7.

Heralded annually by the Fraser Institute, Tax Freedom Day purports to show how hard we work to put money in government coffers, whence it is presumably distributed to layabouts on welfare or otherwise wasted.

Theoretically, if we paid all our taxes up front, Tax Freedom Day — June 11 this year — would mark the point from which we’d start, finally, working for ourselves.

How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren

The Bible has thousands of passages that may serve as the basis for instruction and inspiration. Not all of them are appropriate in all circumstances.

The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. It's not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don't intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:

    "Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."

Wall Street Does Not Care About JPMorgan's Loss

It's official: Absolutely nobody on Wall Street cares about JPMorgan Chase losing $30 billion.

That is the clear message of an exhaustively reported piece by Bloomberg's Max Abelson this morning.

Last week we cowered as the Irony Gods hurled lightning bolts at the news that Alan Greenspan fully supports JPMorgan's God-given right to lose billions of dollars in unregulated derivatives while being backstopped by the U.S. taxpayer. Greenspan has lots of company.

X-37B, Air Force's Secret Space Plane, To End Mission Soon

After spending more than a year orbiting our planet on a hush-hush mystery mission, the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane is due to return to Earth any day now.

Air Force officials haven't announced exactly when the robotic X-37B space plane will land. But on May 30, they said that the spacecraft's homecoming should occur in the "early- to mid-June timeframe" — a window that will close in the next week or so.

Americans Suffered Record Decline In Wealth During Recession: Report

WASHINGTON, June 11 (Reuters) - Americans suffered a record decline in wealth between 2007 and 2010 as home values tumbled, according to a Federal Reserve report on Monday that underscored the severity of the recent recession.

The median family's net worth dropped 38.8 percent during the three-year period, the Fed said in its latest report on changes in U.S. Family Finances, derived from a survey of consumer finances. Fed economists told reporters that this was the biggest drop in net worth since the survey started in 1989.

Carlos Lamadrid's Family Seeks Justice After Border Patrol Shooting

A 19-year-old U.S. citizen, Carlos Lamadrid, was shot in the back three times by a U.S. Border Patrol agent while fleeing across the southern border into Mexico in May of 2011. The young man, a native of Douglas, Ariz., was unarmed and was reportedly transporting marijuana. Lamadrid died from his wounds in a local hospital shortly thereafter.

Lamadrids's mother, Guadalupe Guerrero, is now suing the federal government, alleging that the border agent who shot her son acted "outside the scope of his authority," according to the family's attorney, Richard Gonzalez.

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Obama Birth Certificate Challenge

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal challenging President Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship and his eligibility to serve as commander in chief.

Without comment, the high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Alan Keyes, Wiley Drake and Markham Robinson.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the challengers did not have legal standing to file the lawsuit.

The U.S. Constitution says only "a natural born citizen" may serve as president. The challengers allege that Obama, whose father was Kenyan, was born in that African country, rather than in Hawaii. They claim his Hawaii birth certificate is a forgery. Hawaii officials have repeatedly verified Obama's citizenship.

Keyes and Drake ran against Obama on the American Independent Party ticket and Robinson serves as the party's chairman.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: AP

Texas Industries Allegedly Ordered Drug Test Before Helping Injured Worker: Lawsuit

A Texas-based cement company denied on Monday that it ordered a drug test before calling paramedics last year after a employee hurt himself in a fall. The worker, 67-year-old Benino Perez, later died from his injuries.

In a lawsuit filed in Dallas County Court last week, Perez's family alleges that his employer, Texas Industries, sought to drug test Perez before trying to help him after he'd fallen from a height of several feet. Perez worked as a loader for the company.

Paul Krugman: Obama 'Screwed Up' 'Doing Fine' Line

Princeton Professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said President Barack Obama erred by saying Friday that the private sector is "doing fine," but Krugman agreed with the substance of the president's argument that public sector job cuts are hurting the economy.

"That was an unfortunate line," said the Nobel Prize-winning economist Monday on CBS's "This Morning." "The president bungled the line."

"The truth is the private sector is doing better than the public sector, which is not well enough," he said. "The real story of this economy is that cutbacks at the public sector are what's hurting the recovery."

Romney’s All Wrong on Public Sector Employment

Is the 2012 election going to hinge on voters' beliefs about the government workforce? It seems that at least this week’s news cycle will. It’s an important conversation to have. Public sector job loss is at the heart of our stagnant economy and is a big reason why the recovery can’t get real lift-off. Yet this isn’t a coincidental phenomenon or a bipartisan issue. Republican lawmakers are to blame for the bulk of these job losses, and their solutions to the problem will only add fuel to the fire.

To recap for those who don’t watch the Sunday talk shows: in a press conference on Friday, President Obama said, “The private sector is doing fine.” The full quote shows that he was talking about private sector job creation versus public sector job loss, but the pundits began a-punditing and soon his quote had become synonymous with “the economy is doing fine,” as if the private sector is all that matters.

5 "Stand Your Ground" Cases You Should Know About

The Stand Your Ground law is most widely associated with the February 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was acting in self-defense.

But as a recent Tampa Bay Times investigation indicates, the Martin incident is far from the only example of the law's reach in Florida. The paper identified nearly 200 instances since 2005 where the state's Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors' decisions, jury acquittals, or a judge's call to throw out the charges. (Not all the cases involved killings. Some involved assaults where the person didn't die.)

Did the Supreme Court Just Gut Habeas Rights?

The Supreme Court's decision on Monday not to hear appeals from a group of Gitmo detainees leaves the remaining 169 detainees at the facility with little chance of securing their freedom through US courts.

In the 2008 case Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled detainees at Gitmo could challenge their detention in US courts. That decision was seen as effectively ending the Bush administration's attempt to carve out a legal black hole for suspected terror detainees. Shortly thereafter, Gitmo detainees began appealing their detentions—and frequently winning in court. But in the years since the decision, conservative judges on the DC Circuit have interpreted the law in a way that assumes many of the government's claims are true and don't have to be proven in court. By not taking any of these cases, the Supreme Court has ensured these stricter rules will prevail. Civil-libertarian groups say that essentially leaves detainees at Gitmo with habeas rights in name only, since the rules make it virtually impossible for detainees to win in court. A Seton Hall University School of Law report from May found that, prior to the DC Circuit's reinterpretation of the rules, detainees won 56 percent of cases. Afterwards, they won 8 percent.

Human-Induced Ocean Warming Study Addresses The 'Dominant Role' Of People

Despite the onslaught of politicians attempting to project an air of question around man-made climate change, studies continue to emerge proving the connection between human actions and our changing environment. The most recent study, published in Nature Climate Change, finds an "anthropogenic fingerprint" (human influence) on our warming oceans.

The study, "Human-Induced Global Ocean Warming On Multidecadal Timescales," was conducted by researchers in the U.S., Australia, Japan and India. Based on observations of rising upper-ocean temperatures, the researchers used improved estimates of ocean temperatures to examine the causes of our warming ocean.

Canada's one per cent are bankers, also CEOs, scientists and doctors

Who are the fat cats in Canada?

With the prime protest season fast approaching and the Occupy Anything movement threatening to again burst forth, a group of University of B.C. researchers has taken an extensive look at the issue it successfully raised last year - the widening gap between the rich and the rest of us - and put together a fascinating portrait of just who the one-per-centers are in this country.

The five authors analyzed Statistics Canada data and details gathered from the long-form census, a source that has now been killed by the Conservative government. Some of the information in the paper they produced, Canadian Inequality: Recent Development and Policy Options, first appeared in December in a series published in The Vancouver Sun.

Refugee bill set to clear Commons

OTTAWA — With the contentious budget bill set to dominate parliamentary business Monday in what could be the start of a multi-day opposition filibuster at the report stage, another controversial omnibus bill is set to clear the Commons.

The government's sweeping refugee bill is scheduled for a final vote Monday before heading to the Senate.

It comes as Citizenship and Immigration officials float new figures that suggest the Hungarian refugee problem isn't going away.

Harper prepares Canadians for possibility of another recession

Stephen Harper’s warnings that Europe needs to get its house in order, and not look to Canada for help, was mostly intended for folks back home.

The Prime Minister is preparing Canadians for the possibility of another recession, while insisting that it’s the Europeans, not his government, who will be to blame.

The blunt truth, however, is that it doesn’t matter who is to blame. If recession comes, this time there will be very little that any Canadian politician can do about it.

Pentagon's Best-Kept Secret: F-35 Fighter Is Progressing Nicely

If you pay any attention to media coverage of the F-35 fighter program, then you know the Pentagon’s biggest weapons program is “troubled” (to use the favored adjective of reporters).  Flight tests are lagging, costs are skyrocketing, and overseas partners are beginning to get cold feet.  So the Joint Strike Fighter, as it used to be called, is looking like another black eye for the Pentagon’s fouled up acquisition system, right?

Wrong.  The reality is that for the third straight year flight tests are ahead of schedule, the cost to build each plane is falling fast, and international partners are so enthused that new customers are getting in line for the F-35 on a regular basis (South Korea will be next).  So how come you don’t know any of this?  The reason you don’t know it is that political appointees have decided they can score points with Congress by attacking their own program, and national media always lead with the most sensational information.

PM Harper's visit to protest-heavy Montreal: lots of police, few protesters

MONTREAL - Attending his first event in Montreal in nearly three months, Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't get a first-hand glimpse Monday of the raucous local protests that have made international news.

There were far more police officers than protesters when Harper arrived to deliver a speech at an international economic conference in a downtown hotel. The prime minister slipped undetected past about two dozen demonstrators outside.

Authorities weren't taking any chances.

A formidable police presence on the hotel grounds showed that officials were prepared for anything in a province that has witnessed frequent protests over the last four months, including several rowdy ones in Montreal during last weekend's Grand Prix.

5 questions about Dean Del Mastro's election spending

Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro, the party's lead spokesman on the robocalls election controversy, faces allegations of his own over his spending in the 2008 federal election.

The member for Peterborough, Ont. is reportedly under investigation for spending too much money in the campaign almost four years ago. Invoices and cheques filed in a small claims court case show $21,000 spent on polling and get-out-the-vote services, apparently paid for with a personal cheque from Del Mastro, that is unaccounted for.

The misplaced fixation on Iran as nuclear threat

Is the world actually bolstering the legitimacy of the egregious government of Iran?

According to Payam Akhavan of McGill and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, two highly reputable voices writing in the Globe this week, the best way to buttress its legitimacy is "the nuclear controversy and threats of war with Israel and the United States." They argue that in reality the "biggest threat to the regime" is not Iran's foreign enemies at all but the Iranian people themselves. "Bombs cannot bring democracy but a popular uprising can."

By this reckoning, many of the strategies and most of the belligerent rhetoric aimed at stopping Iran's potential nuclear weapons program, not to say dislodging its rulers, is dangerously counter-reproductive.

Why Kinder Morgan's B.C. pipeline plans will fail

Kinder Morgan Canada President Ian Anderson's editorial, "Pipeline hinges on relationships", in the Vancouver Sun was a thing of beauty.

Great job Ian, you couldn't ask for a friendlier Canadian face to be put on a Texas oil billionaire's company. Richard Kinder is in fact the real driving force behind what is, as he explains it, the world's biggest pipeline company next to the government of Russia. So I guess Kinder Morgan can afford some of the slickest PR campaigns and a friendly Canuck as their local front man. But if we are going to have a sincere conversation about relationships, then shouldn't we talk about who we are really getting in bed with?

NDP accuses Tories of contempt over refusal to detail budget cuts

Hours after Speaker Andrew Scheer grouped more than 800 amendments proposed by the opposition and averted a marathon voting session that could have delayed passage of Conservative budget legislation, the NDP raised a point of privilege that could prevent the bill’s progress. Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen said the government is deliberately withholding information about how many public servants will lose their jobs as a result of Bill C-38.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement maintains he cannot release those numbers because of rules around the notification of the public-sector unions. But Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, who has been asking for the information, argues that excuse does not hold water.

Humiliated Spain under 'troika' bank supervision

MADRID/BERLIN—Spain faces supervision by international lenders after a bailout for its banks agreed at the weekend.

The statement by EU and German officials Monday, contradicts Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who had insisted the cash came without such strings.

Financial markets responded with relief to Saturday's euro zone deal to lend Madrid up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) to recapitalise debt-laden banks, with investors scooping up battered financial shares.

Yalda Machouf-Khadir, Daughter Of Quebec Politician Amir Khadir, To Wait On Bail Decision For Another Day

MONTREAL - A Quebec politician's daughter and one of her co-accused will remain behind bars for at least one more night as a judge considers whether they should be granted bail.

Yalda Machouf-Khadir and Zachary Daoust have been in prison since their arrest late last week and they face multiple charges stemming from the province's student conflict.

A Quebec judge will rule Tuesday morning whether they should be freed. Two other co-accused were granted bail on Monday with conditions.

Quebec Student Protest: Mathieu Girard Arrested On Way To Sister's Funeral

MONTREAL - A Quebec student activist was arrested while heading to his sister's funeral Monday, an act his lawyer described as "completely inhumane."

Mathieu Girard is the person who had discovered the lifeless body of his sister, who died unexpectedly.

On Monday, Girard was riding with relatives when he was pulled over on the highway on the way to Saguenay, Que., for the funeral. He was stopped near Montreal.

Montreal Protests: Police Accused Of Political Profiling, Targeting Red Square Wearers

MONTREAL - Montreal police are being accused of political profiling — of searching and detaining people wearing the red square, the symbol of Quebec's protest movement.

A Quebec student group is calling for an independent inquiry into police actions over last weekend's Formula One Grand Prix while also gathering details from recent weeks for a potential lawsuit.

The group, the more hardline CLASSE student association, is now gathering testimony from people who say their civil rights were violated last weekend.

Students’ new goal: turf Liberal government

MONTREAL - Tuition fees are still very much a concern, but some Quebec students are now turning their focus to trying to unseat the Quebec Liberal government.

The Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec says it plans to continue its mobilization against tuition fee increases this summer, but also has a new goal.

“We want to work on getting a different government to represent us,” said new leader Éliane Laberge. “We are going to work on that transition this summer.”

Grand Prix Protests: Montreal Police Clamp Down On Protesters After Attempt To Disrupt Formula One Race

MONTREAL - A weekend that brought Montreal's social unrest to the international stage ended Sunday with police clamping down on an attempt to disrupt the city's Grand Prix Formula One race.

Anti-capitalists and students upset about tuition fee increases held demonstrations throughout the four-day event, marking the arrival of the world's premier auto racing series. The protests gave visitors a taste of the dramatic scenes — sometimes joyful, sometimes violent — that locals have been witness to for months.

Montreal police detain 34 outside Grand Prix site

Montreal authorities expelled 40 people and detained 34 more from the site of the Grand Prix on Sunday, calling the move a "preventative measure."

Police said those who were detained or expelled from Ste-Hélène Island were carrying objects including bricks, rocks or ski masks.

"Some of those arrested were people police recognized from earlier student demonstrations that had been deemed illegal," district commander Alain Simoneau told reporters. "In the interest of public safety, we decided to detain these people."

How the Wisconsin Uprising Got Hijacked

The revelers watched in stunned disbelief, cocktails in hand, dressed for a night to remember. On the big-screen TV a headline screamed in crimson red: "Projected Winner: Scott Walker." It was 8:49 p.m. In parts of Milwaukee, people learned that news networks had declared Wisconsin's governor the winner while still in line to cast their votes. At the election night party for Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, supporters talked and cried and ordered more drinks. Barrett soon took the stage to concede, then waded into the crowd, where a distraught woman slapped him in the face.

Tom Mulcair blasts fracking plans in New Brunswick

Federal New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair warned Rothesay residents about the potential problems with shale gas exploration during a byelection campaign stop in the southern New Brunswick town on Sunday.

Mulcair held a public rally with New Brunswick NDP Leader Dominic Cardy on Sunday to boost his chances in the June 25 byelection.

Cardy is trying to win the seat vacated by former Progressive Conservative MLA Margaret-Ann Blaney, who left politics to take the high-paying position as president and chief executive officer of Efficiency New Brunswick.

Give us facts on Alberta oil spill, locals demand

Four days after a pipeline operated by Plains Midstream Canada spilled an estimated hundreds of thousands of litres of oil into the Red Deer River in central Alberta, local landowners are waiting for answers.

“People are tired of hearing platitudes,” said Bruce Beattie, the reeve of Mountain View County, one of the affected communities. “Tell us the facts. Don't try to make a political event out of it.”

Any oil spill in Alberta is a sensitive issue because of the controversy surrounding the debate over the Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines, but Mr. Beattie pointed out there are safety concerns that have to be addressed. “They are going to have to be much more forthcoming about the processes that led up to this spill.” ‘

Pipeline owner says oil wasn’t flowing at time of leak into Alberta river

CALGARY — A representative for the company whose pipeline spilled hundreds of thousands of litres of oil into an Alberta river suggests there were two strokes of luck that kept the problem from being worse.

Stephen Bart, the vice-president of crude-oil operations for Plains Midstream Canada, says the first piece of good luck was that the pipeline wasn’t flowing at the time.

He says the second was that the Red Deer River was swollen with recent rain, which washed the oil to the Gleniffer Reservoir where it can be more easily contained by booms, leaving only localized pockets of oil on the river.

'Embarrassment to government' considered security threat at Toronto G20 summit: documents

Along with terrorism and organized crime, “embarrassment to the Canadian government” was considered one of the threats facing security forces at the G8 and G20 summit meetings in Ontario 2010, according to newly released military records.

It’s no surprise to learn that officials were worried about potential threats from terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, “lone wolves” not affiliated with any established terrorist group, foreign spies as well as protest groups and criminals.

But, say Canadian Forces planning documents, grouped in with such threats was “Embarrassment to the Gov’t.”

U.S.-Pakistan relations hit new low

One year after American Navy SEALs slipped undetected into Pakistan and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden where he had been hiding for years—in a compound a short walk from an elite military academy—Pakistan has finally taken steps to punish someone involved in the debacle.

They haven’t actually arrested anyone who was protecting the terrorist leader, mind you. Instead, last month, following a closed trial, a Pakistani tribal court sentenced Shakil Afridi, a doctor who ran a fake vaccination campaign for the CIA designed to confirm bin Laden’s presence in the compound, to 33 years in jail.

Wrzesnewskyj says if Tories can ‘push-poll,’ they can be ready this month

The federal Conservatives say the Supreme Court should not hear their appeal on Etobicoke Centre, Ont., 2011 election results until the fall, but the former Liberal MP who lost that riding last year says if the governing Conservatives can manage to immediately organize a “push-poll” phone campaign with constituents four days after the Conservatives filed their notice of appeal, it can be ready to argue their case at the end of this month.

“It’s amazing that they need all this time to prepare a file that’s already been argued in court, but they can certainly organize to blanket the riding with calls in no time,” said Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the former Liberal incumbent who fought the 2011 election result at the Ontario Superior Court and won.

PM’s ongoing challenge is keeping his ‘ironclad’ national caucus unity

Conservative insiders dismiss any suggestion there are divisions emerging in the normally ironclad, disciplined Tory caucus as “complete and utter nonsense,” but others say it’s a continuous and ongoing challenge for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The past few months have been more challenging for Prime Minister Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.), with caucus unity emerging as the latest concern alongside an ascendant NDP, an unpopular budget bill, and a long list of controversies that includes the F-35, robocalls, and exorbitantly priced orange juice.

Last month a video surfaced on YouTube of rookie Conservative backbencher David Wilks (Kootenay- Columbia, B.C.) straying from the party line at a constituency meeting on May 22 in Revelstoke, B.C.

Tory MP Del Mastro accuses CBC’s O’Malley of ‘inappropriate’ conduct, says reporters not allowed to approach MPs while House committees under way

Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s point of order last week in the Commons accusing CBC journalist Kady O’Malley of improper conduct at a House committee is not grounded in any House rules, says a former veteran House of Commons committee clerk.

“He’s just making a fuss,” said Thomas Hall, who clerked House of Commons committees for more than 20 years before retiring in 2007.

Last Tuesday’s public House Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee fell into confusion after Ms. O’Malley approached Liberal committee member Scott Andrews (Avalon, Nfld.) during the meeting for what she thought was copy of a motion Mr. Andrews was due to introduce.

NDP, Libs, Green table more than 1,200 amendments to feds’ omnibus budget bill

The Liberals, NDP, and Greens have tabled more than 1,200 amendments to the government’s omnibus Budget Implementation Bill, but when the Finance Committee’s report on Bill C-38 comes up for debate this week, the opposition parties won’t have a united front to kill the bill.

“We agree on the same goal, but it’s very clear that I work very closely right now with the Liberal Party and the Liberal Party is working with the Greens. I also work with the Bloc,” Green Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) told The Hill Times last week. “Having met with [NDP House Leader] Nathan Cullen, I’d say we’re heading in the same direction, but they’re not sharing their strategies to the same extent.”

MPs hearing from voters on EI reforms, most want clarification

Opposition MPs say they’re getting calls from local industry associations and constituents in their ridings who are “nervous” and “concerned” about the federal government’s proposed employment insurance reforms. But Conservative MPs say that while they are hearing from some worried constituents, most are asking for clarification in understanding the reforms.

“With my area, to be very frank, I have as many people who mentioned to me that the reforms are going in the right direction as there are that mentioned they have concerns about it. And the concerns, when I chat with people, the concerns are [a matter of] not understanding the reforms,” Conservative MP Rodney Weston (Saint John, N.B.) told The Hill Times. Mr. Weston’s riding has an 8.3 per cent unemployment rate, according to the 2006 census.

Ministers selling Bill C-38 before expected July Cabinet shuffle

Cabinet ministers fanned out across Canada again last week to sell the government’s controversial omnibus budget Bill C-38’s “responsible resources development” and to counter mounting opposition to the 425-page budget bill’s overhaul of environmental regulations. Insiders say their performance could help determine where they land in an anticipated Cabinet shuffle.

“Our natural resource industries—energy, mining and minerals processing and forestry—account for more than 10 per cent of our gross domestic product and provide close to 800,000 jobs in Canada,” said Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose (Edmonton-Spruce Grove, Alta.) in a press statement released last week. “Responsible Resource Development will ensure that our abundant natural resources are developed in a sustainable way for the benefit of all Canadians.”

Dennis Manuge: the former CF veteran who got the feds to listen

After a five-year legal battle with the federal government, Canadian Forces veteran Dennis Manuge says he’s “very relieved” that the government decided not to appeal a Federal Court decision that found clawbacks to the Department of National Defence’s Service Income Security Insurance Plan were wrong.

“I think the first thing that comes to my mind is relief, not only for myself, but for the veterans out there that were so profoundly impacted,” Mr. Manuge, 43, told The Hill Times last week.

PM is spending political capital on omnibus budget bill

That the Conservative government will pass its omnibus budget bill has never been in doubt.

Similarly, its refusal to strip the nonbudgetary items from the 425-page bill was never in question.

Such is the privilege of a majority government.

But as the House of Commons prepares to hit the home stretch with the budget bill front and centre beginning Monday, the question will be how much political capital the Conservatives will have spent by the summer recess in order to pass this mountain of regulations the way they were determined to do it.

Canada's self-imposed crisis in post-secondary education

On June 7, I gave a keynote address to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Education Sector Conference. My PowerPoint presentation (with full references) can be found at this link.

Points I raised in the address include the following:

- Canada's economy has been growing quite steadily over the past three decades, even when one adjusts for inflation, and even when one accounts for population growth. The exceptions, of course, occur during recessions.

A few questions for Ethical Oil

TORONTO—Ever since Ezra Levant started the oil-funded group, Ethical Oil, we’ve been told to avoid so-called conflict oil and embrace oil from liberal democracies like ours.

It’s tempting, perhaps, to see irony in Canada currently ramming through a sweeping budget bill that cracks down on liberal freedoms. But focusing here does a disservice to the larger hypocrisy at play.

So let’s focus on the raison d’être of Ethical Oil and probe a little deeper into its mountain of contradictory rhetoric, which has nothing to do with freedom unless it’s the freedom that Big Oil obviously feels an entitlement to enjoy.  To that end, some simple questions.