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.]

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ontario Budget 2012: McGuinty Urges NDP To Keep Deal, Wants It In Writing

TORONTO - The threat of a snap election in Ontario eased slightly Sunday after Premier Dalton McGuinty and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath agreed they wanted the budget to pass to avoid the defeat of the minority Liberal government.

McGuinty stepped back from his threats on Friday to go to the polls over changes the opposition parties made to the budget at committee Thursday. He also softened his tone after calling Horwath "disingenuous" for breaking earlier agreements not to block the budget's passage.

Bill C-11: Copyright Legislation And Digital Lock Provisions Face Opposition On Eve Of Passage In Canada

Before the end of the summer, breaking a lock on a CD you legitimately purchased to upload songs to your iPhone will be illegal.

Opposition MPs, researchers, artists and even merchants have told the Conservative government the digital locks provisions in its copyright bill make little sense, but the Tories have so far refused to listen.

Monday, MPs are scheduled to vote on the Copyright Modernization Act before sending it to the Senate where it is expected to pass before the summer holidays.

Employees linked to cousin's company each gave $1,000 to Del Mastro campaign

OTTAWA — The prime minister’s embattled parliamentary secretary, Dean Del Mastro, received a series of $1,000 contributions to his 2008 election campaign from donors with ties to a small Mississauga electrical company owned by his cousin.

David Del Mastro, owner of Deltro Electric Ltd., denies any wrongdoing and says he fundraised on behalf of his cousin by asking employees and friends to contribute voluntarily. Four other people affiliated with the company and contacted by the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News also support this denial.

Naming of Chuck Strahl to spy oversight agency is predictable and depressing

How predictable.

Late on Thursday the Harper government finally announced the new head of this nation’s anemic review agency for Canada’s spy service, CSIS. The timing was so predictable: delivered while Parliament and much of the media were still preoccupied with the exhaustive voting on the opposition’s voluminous amendments to the Conservative government’s omnibus budget bill.

I suppose the government’s thinking was that nobody would notice or particularly care about an appointment that could, in fact, have profound consequences for Canadians’ lives and security. Traditionally, the powers-that-be in Ottawa have treated the review of one of Canada’s most powerful and intrusive agencies almost as an afterthought.

It’s Harper vs. Europe as G20 debates IMF plan

On the international economic stage, Canada is usually cast in the supporting role of the reliable consensus-seeker. But when he joins the leaders of the world’s major economies next week at Los Cabos, Mexico, for what is shaping up as a high-pressure G20 summit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be playing a less familiar part. Harper’s refusal to contribute to an International Monetary Fund plan to help stabilize Europe’s economy has been described by a major ally as “irritating” and slammed by a former top federal Finance official for jeopardizing hard-won Canadian credibility when serious economic challenges are up for discussion at the highest levels.

Canada adds voice to common bank-deposit insurance plan for euro zone

Canada is urging the euro zone to embrace a common bank-deposit guarantee as a concrete step to boost market confidence.

The stand – confirmed Friday in a speech by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty – provides the first specifics as to what Canada will push for next week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mr. Flaherty attend the G20 leaders’ summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

In his speech in Ottawa, the minister praised a proposal from Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, who has called for a fund to guarantee bank deposits in the 17-member euro zone.

My ancestors and the worst thing that has ever happened to this country

My grandmother’s grandmother was in her bedclothes one night when the Americans burst in.

“Twelve of them came down to us in the middle of the night demanding arms and they had each suspended to their sides swords and rifles,” she wrote of the fearful moment when she and her Welsh-born barrister husband became combatants.

“They searched the house but William (being a strong Tory) had the precaution to hide his guns and pistols … I then felt alarmed and rather dreaded the consequences of refusing them arms, fancy me close to William’s elbow, pale as death in my night dress covered with a cloak – I think I could almost have fired at them myself; after that we were not undressed for some weeks,” lest they need to flee the house, pistols in hand, at short notice.

GOP Health Care Plan: Repeal Quickly, Replace Slowly

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans intend to seek quick repeal of any parts of the health care law that survive a widely anticipated Supreme Court ruling, but don't plan to push replacement measures until after the fall elections or perhaps 2013.

Instead, GOP lawmakers cite recent announcements that some insurance companies will retain a few of the law's higher-profile provisions as evidence that quick legislative action is not essential. Those are steps that officials say Republicans quietly urged in private conversations with the industry.

Harper should nix omnibus bill

Are omnibus bills anti-democratic? No doubt about it. Are they something new invented by the current Harper government? Not hardly. Every majority government since Pierre Trudeau’s has used its majority to ram through large pieces of legislation full of all sorts of amendments to several acts of Parliament.

That fact doesn’t justify the Harper government’s use of the current mammoth budget bill (C-38). It merely means the Tories’ bill is not some new threat to our democracy devised by Stephen Harper, as the Liberals and NDP contend.

Some clever columnists and bloggers have made much of the fact that Harper himself in 2005 called omnibus bills “a contradiction to the conventions and practices of the House.” Hehe, they sniggered. Here was Harper proving himself that he was abusing our traditions. Missing from their observations, though, was the fact that Harper’s remarks were prompted by the Liberals’ introduction of an omnibus bill of their own.

Spy files on Diefenbaker, Pearson destroyed in 1989: newly declassified records

OTTAWA - Canadian security agents compiled dossiers on former prime ministers John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson but the secret files were destroyed in the late 1980s, newly declassified records show.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which inherited the highly sensitive files from the RCMP's security branch, says they were discarded to "respect the privacy rights" of the leaders, both of whom died in the 1970s.

Two intelligence historians dismissed the CSIS explanation as ridiculous.

"How could destroying these files protect Pearson and Dief's privacy when they were already dead?" asked Steve Hewitt, a senior lecturer in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham in England.

From Quebec to Harperland, our democracy is vanishing

In a column in Thursday's Montreal Gazette, Henry Aubin, a card-carrying member of the "lazy, entitled students should shut up and get off my lawn!" club, argued that we should forget about tuition and Bill 78, and instead focus on Harper's omnibus budget, which "will have a much bigger effect on all our lives."

While I agree that we should focus attention on the ills of C-38, I disagree that we should do so to the exclusion of the necessary debate around tuition, and the civil liberties squashing Bill 78.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip on Bill C-38: It's time to 'take this to the streets'

This week, the Conservative government passed its sprawling – and controversial – omnibus budget implementation bill, which brings dramatic changes to environmental protection, employment insurance, industry regulation, pensions and many other facets of Canadian life.

On Wednesday, as MPs prepared for a 24-hour filibuster voting marathon, protestors rallied outside more than 80 Conservative MPs' offices in opposition to Bill C-38. I reported on the protests over at the Tyee. But less widely reported are the many Indigenous communities' particular concerns about the budget bill.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), has been one such outspoken critic of Bill C-38. The UBCIC blacked out its website, alongside more than 500 other organizations, earlier this month, and has issued press releases and spoken at rallies calling for the need to fight this legislation.