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.]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Party's War Of 1812 Spending Plans Exclude Key Figure's Resting Place

The Conservative government's multi-million dollar effort to ensure Canadians never forget the War of 1812 may have sidelined a key figure in the conflict.

Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett told The Huffington Post Canada Wednesday that she was shocked to discover that the grave of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh has been left uncared for when she visited Walpole Island, Ont., near the U.S. border.

Industry Minister Paradis asks NDP to endorse Quebec anti-protest law

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper`s Quebec lieutenant, Christian Paradis, challenged opposition New Democrats Tuesday to offer their symbolic support in Parliament to an anti-protest law adopted by Premier Jean Charest to quell social unrest in the province.

``We`ll see now if the NDP is serious about this,'' Paradis said, heading into the daily question period in the House of Commons. ``Does the NDP support the principle of the rule of law?''

The Commons: If Kevin Page has overstepped his mandate, maybe it’s time to expand it

The Scene. It was just two years ago, Peggy Nash reported to the House, that a Conservative MP was heard to remark that the Parliamentary Budget Officer had “improved the decision making of Parliament.”

But just yesterday, Ms. Nash next recalled, the Foreign Affairs Minister had stood and suggested that the Parliamentary Budget Officer had “from time to time and on occasion … overstepped its mandate.”

Ms. Nash was confused. “Do Conservatives really think that Kevin Page has gone beyond his mandate?” she asked, shrugging and throwing up her hands.

Trans Pacific-Partnership: A few questions

The Harper government currently lists 18 different sets of free trade negotiations "in play." (See my recent post on this.) The government recently announced (from the G20 meetings in Mexico): Canada has been invited to join the Trans Pacific Partnership talks. The TPP negotiations were initiated several years ago by a number of smaller Pacific countries. The Obama government jumped on board in 2009, arguing that it could be a "new kind" of trade deal, one that supposedly embodies more "humane" founding principles (side deals on labour and environment, and all that claptrap). This is window dressing, of course; it's clear that (with a couple of exceptions noted below) this deal will be very much founded on the NAFTA template: investor rights and mobility, protections for intellectual property, and disciplines on state interventions. Mexico has also now been invited to join the talks. Reporters already breathlessly refer to this invitation as a big "prize," like we're being admitted to an elite club.

Tories ignore Elizabeth May's budget bill quiz challenge

OTTAWA — It was a challenge that went unanswered.

Not one Conservative MP showed up to take Green leader Elizabeth May's open-book test on the contents of Bill C-38 Tuesday morning, and May said she wasn't surprised.

"Why bother to know what's in this act, if reading it and understanding it can get you fired?" May said in an empty room, save for a stack of unopened quizzes, a copy of the bill, and some untouched pitchers of water.

Pipeline spills are not the exception in Alberta, they are an oily reality

When a smiling Alberta Premier Alison Redford describes last week's pipeline spill of 475,000 litres of oil into a pristine river as an "exception," she is serving up unadulterated spin.

Something is exceptional when it happens so infrequently that when it does occur, it's a surprise.

But I know from my reporting career, which was ushered in by a series of massive pipeline spills in Alberta more than 40 years ago, that these events occur with depressing regularity.

Romney's 'Some Towns Just Don't Count' Tour

Mitt Romney’s “Every Town Counts” bus tour brought the presumptive Republican presidential nominee across southern Wisconsin and into Iowa Monday and Tuesday.

But the towns didn’t count enough for him to learn their real histories and their real needs. And the tour scrupulously avoided towns where Romney’s Bain Capital continues to put the hurt on American workers.

Don’t blame the ‘Euro welfare state’

The Conservatives have found their Welfare Queen. Her name is Europe.

The original Welfare Queen, you will recall, was a stock character in Ronald Reagan’s speeches. “There’s a woman in Chicago,” Reagan said in 1976. “She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veterans’ benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. … Her tax-free cash income alone is over $150,000.” She drives a pink Cadillac.

Repeating a sorry legacy

Helen Forsey, daughter of Canada's pre-eminent parliamentary scholar, the late senator Eugene Forsey, sees a parallel between the Harper Conservatives' 450-page omnibus budget bill and the St. Laurent Liberals' conduct during the infamous 1956 pipeline debate. Both demonstrated the government's scorn for Parliament -- the foundation of our democracy.

"The art of parliamentary bullying has recently reached new heights," she writes in her new book, Eugene Forsey - Canada's Maverick Sage. "Outrageous behaviour has increasingly become the norm, with Parliament being treated as a mere showcase, parliamentary debate as window-dressing."

Stop stalling release of donor information for political insiders’ school, Carleton told

OTTAWA — Carleton University has suffered a setback in its fight to withhold information about a $15-million donation to a new school for political insiders.

The university’s request for a nine-week extension was rejected by the information and privacy commissioner of Ontario, which ordered the university to supply an explanation by Tuesday.

The ruling is the latest shot in a year-long battle over a freedom-of-information request it received from The Canadian Press.

Harper has changed both the process and agenda of federal-provincial relations

Whatever happened to those first ministers' conferences, so entertaining for their fed-bashing and back-biting by provincial premiers?

Under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien, the prime minister, premiers and territorial leaders would face off about medicare, social assistance financing or patriation and reform of Canada's Constitution.

Aboriginal groups would get into the act, expressing outrage at their habitual exclusion.

And the various participants sporadically would appear before microphones to spew invective that would make for pretty good headlines.

Conservatives have campaigned and governed with no regard for democracy

With the specter of the Parliamentary Budget Officer taking the Clerk of the Privy Council to court, a momentous question looms over our public affairs: will the Harper government answer a single legitimate question about its conduct of Canada’s public business?

Or is the government’s message that we can all go pleasure ourselves until 2015?

Judging from the news on multiple fronts, there’s auto-gratification in everyone’s near-term future. Canada has fallen down the rabbit hole of an upside down universe. Bill C-38 has been called everything from a Trojan Horse to a coup. The government thinks of it as politics as usual. Describe it as you will, here’s the bottom line: it has nothing to do with democracy.

‘A threat to Israel is a threat to Canada’: Peter MacKay to Jewish commander

Israel has received private assurances Canada stands ready to help defend the Jewish state, but just how far the Harper government intends to take that commitment remains unclear.

Newly released documents say Defence Minister Peter MacKay told Israel’s top military commander, Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during a 2011 visit to the Middle East, that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.”

The statement came a year after cabinet colleague Peter Kent was upbraided as junior foreign affairs minister for telling a Toronto-based publication that “an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada.”

Speaker frustrating some MPs

As the House of Commons spring session winds to a close, Speaker Andrew Scheer has once again shot down an opposition attempt to pry information from the government.

Outwardly, opposition MPs say they are disappointed but not surprised by Tuesday’s ruling, but behind the scenes, some members of Parliament are angry.

The $11-million brand: Amid budget cuts, the RCMP splurge on propaganda

Canada has long held the unique status of being a nation that puts its secret police on postcards, T-shirts and tacky tourist trinkets. During the 1990s, that same police force also entered a five-year licensing agreement with the creators of Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck at Walt Disney, "in response to the popularity of unlicensed products and concerns that these products were having a detrimental effect on the RCMP's reputation."

And in a tradition no doubt envied by the likes of the KGB, the RCMP never stopped hearing the applause of audiences watching their fabled musical horsemen participate in sunset ceremonies while its Security Service was burning barns, stealing membership lists for registered political parties, infiltrating labour unions, spying on cabinet ministers, labelling the Raging Grannies national security threats, and inciting political violence.

The threat of Rio+20 to water

I am in Porto Alegre, Brazil, with Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo for a Thematic Social Forum (titled "Capitalist Crisis, Social and Environmental Justice"), which is a primary civil society organizing moment in advance of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) -- more commonly referred to as Rio+20 -- set to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 13-22, 2012.

The recently released negotiating text -- also known as the "zero draft" -- for Rio+20 states: "We underline the importance of the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. Furthermore, we highlight the critical importance of water resources for sustainable development, including poverty and hunger eradication, public health, food security, hydropower, agriculture and rural development."

Egypt Elections: Tahrir Square Demonstrators Cheer Election Winner, Condemn Military Rulers

CAIRO -- Islamist and revolutionary groups packed Tahrir Square on Tuesday in protest of constitutional changes by Egypt's military government, presenting the generals with their first major challenge in the streets following the weekend's presidential election.

Spokesmen for the campaign of Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate and apparent winner of the election, claimed earlier in the day that the coalition would "stage a million man march." While numbers fell well short of that goal as well as the crowds seen during the 2011 revolution, the march brought out the tens of thousands who had been missing during the run-up to the elections.

Paul Krugman: 'Ireland Is Romney Economics In Practice'

If Mitt Romney is elected president, the U.S. will experience an economic disaster the likes of which have been recently seen in Ireland, according to Paul Krugman.

"Ireland is Romney economics in practice," the Nobel-Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist said on the Colbert Report on Monday. "I think Ireland is America's future if Romney is president." (h/t Politico.)

John Boehner Blames Obama For Derailing Dream Act After He Derailed Dream Act-Style Bill

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that President Barack Obama's policy change on immigration makes it less likely that Congress will be able to reach a bipartisan, final solution on the matter -- a curious claim given that Boehner snuffed out that possibility months ago.

"It puts everyone in a difficult position," Boehner said of Obama's policy change, during a scrum with reporters. "I think we all have concerns for those who are caught in this trap, who through no fault of their own are here. But the president's actions are going to make it much more difficult for us to work in a bipartisan way to get to a permanent solution."

PETA Protest Ottawa: Demonstrators Strip Down On Parliament Hill

Tourists visiting Parliament Hill Tuesday were taken by surprise when PETA demonstrators arrived stripped down to floral pasties, thongs and blue paint.

The nine women, dressed to represent the Earth, were there to protest the Conservatives' omnibus budget bill and to encourage Canadians to go vegan.

90 Million Workers Won't Be Needed By 2020, Study Says

Tens of millions of people worldwide will be condemned to long-term joblessness unless global leaders make significant changes to address unemployment and worker training, according to a new study.

Between 90 and 95 million low-skill workers -- or 2.6 percent of the global workforce -- will not be needed by employers by 2020 and will be vulnerable to permanent joblessness, according to a report released Thursday by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Enbridge Elk Point Spill Pumps About 230,000 Litres Of Heavy Crude In Alberta

ELK POINT, Alta. - There's been another oil spill in Alberta, this time northeast of Edmonton.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board says the leak of heavy crude oil happened Monday at a pumping station on Enbridge Inc.’s (TSX:ENB) Athabasca pipeline about 24 kilometres southeast of Elk Point.

Enbridge estimates about 230,000 litres has leaked, but the ERCB's Darin Barter said Tuesday that amount hasn't been confirmed.

Julian Assange Seeks Asylum In Ecuador

LONDON — WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange has made a run for the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, seeking asylum in a long shot move that, if successful, would place him in a small, friendly South American country rather than in Sweden facing questioning about alleged sex crimes.

Tuesday's unexpected caper has added a new and bizarre twist to Assange's increasingly desperate bid to avoid extradition to Scandinavia. Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the leftist government of President Rafael Correa – an administration often at odds with Washington – was weighing the request, although he did not indicate when a decision might be made.

The new fascism in Europe -- Across Europe, quality of life is dropping, providing fertile ground for the far right

Ahead of the June 17 elections in Greece, Athens was the scene of a gruesome nostalgia trip. The ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party took to holding torchlit parades through the streets. The party rejects the term neo-Nazi, but there’s little doubt about its source of inspiration. Their symbol, the twisting maeander, is highly reminiscent of a swastika; they send teams of threatening young men into the streets wearing black shirts; their leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, specializes in flamboyant, melodramatic fist-shaking speeches, awash in self-pity; and several prominent members have openly approved of Hitler. These are not fringe figures in the Greek political landscape anymore. During the last legislative election, barely a month ago, they managed to take seven per cent of the vote. This time around they earned 6.92 per cent.

Parliamentary Budget Officer: Conservative government breaking its own law

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) was created by an act of Parliament in 2006, as part of the Harper Conservatives' signature Federal Accountability Act.

It now seems like a vague story from a long distant past, but openness, accountability and respect for Parliament were what the Conservatives ran on back then, six years ago.

Creating an independent budget office that would report to Parliament - not to the government of the day - was a Conservative idea in 2006.

Hypocrisy on free speech and 'protecting freedom'

On June 6 (the same night that the trans human rights Bill C-279 advanced to committee) Conservative MP for Westlock - St. Paul, Brian Storseth's private member's bill C-304, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting freedom), passed third reading in the House of Commons, and advanced to the Senate for ratification. Bill C-304 abolishes Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which pertains to electronic communication of hate speech.

Sun Media commentator Ezra Levant barely got through taking credit for the bill's passage before taking advantage of a recent censure of comments he made on his television show to change focus and declare his intent to destroy the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) within the coming year, in the name of freedom of speech.

Kenny's safe country list problematic

Designed to fast-track applications and quickly boot out illegitimate claimants from democratic countries that are unlikely to produce bona fide refugees - namely European Union nations - safe country provisions in the omnibus refugee bill set to become law at the end of the month have come under fire because they put too much power in the hands of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

Kenney has insisted his powers are limited by the legislation, but even under the new criteria, Postmedia News has discovered there are three EU countries where people could meet the statistical test for refugee status in Canada.

A review of 2011 rejection, abandonment and withdrawal rates suggests Bulgaria, Lat-via and Romania wouldn't make the "safe country" list. The figures suggest many of the claims were found to be valid. For Bulgaria, 67 per cent of the 41 claims finalized last year were accepted. In Latvia and Romania, a third of the 80 and 100 claims finalized respectively were accepted.

According to the bill, only countries with a combined rejection/withdrawal/abandonment rate of 75 per cent or higher or a withdrawal/abandonment rate of 60 per cent or higher will qualify as a safe country.

For countries that produce few claimants, a "qualitative checklist" that considers whether a country has an independent judicial system, recognizes basic rights and permits the existence of civil society organizations will be used.

Original Article
Source: vancouver sun
Author: Tobi Cohen

'Dirty money' fuels parties: Duchesneau

MONTREAL – Political parties in Quebec are being financed largely by “dirty money” that flows into their coffers from companies who then benefit from political favours, claimed former anti-collusion boss Jacques Duchesneau during his fourth day of testimony before the Charbonneau Commission.

Speaking mainly off-the-cuff but partly from prepared notes, Duchesneau told co-commissioners France Charbonneau and Renaud Lachance on Tuesday that a full 70 per cent of political donations in Quebec are being made illegally, without the knowledge of Elections Quebec.

Canada dives into Pacific trade talks – but at what cost?

Stephen Harper is bringing Canada into ambitious new Pacific free-trade talks, fulfilling a key pledge to reduce reliance on the United States but increasing pressure on protected industries to accept more foreign competition.

While the Prime Minister insisted nothing has been sacrificed to join the group, it’s clear that the controversial issue of supply management – Canada’s protection of its dairy, poultry and egg industries from foreign competition – is on the table.

Quebec cheered, Ottawa jeered at global green gathering

While Canada is being condemned at a major international gathering on environmental protection and sustainable development in Brazil, Jean Charest is reaping praise for the work Quebec is doing to bolster the long-term health of the planet.

The Premier has been trying for months to promote Plan Nord, his economic development proposal for northern Quebec that has been overshadowed by student protests. It has been decried by some aboriginal and environmental groups as a scheme to fast-track mining and other development in the province’s untapped regions.

PMO praises Mountie disciplined for bullying underlings in security detail

OTTAWA - The prime minister's office is praising the work of a senior RCMP officer who was recently disciplined for workplace bullying inside of Stephen Harper's security detail.

An internal memo sent to Conservatives by Harper's office Monday makes no mention of the measures taken by the Mounties to deal with a range of recent complaints against Supt. Bruno Saccomani that were deemed "disturbing" in an RCMP review.

The email underlined that Harper and his family "have witnessed first-hand a dramatic improvement in the unit's performance, an improvement due largely to (the detail's) strong leadership in recent years."

The Commons: Duly elected to carry on unapologetically

The Scene. Impatient to spoil the surprise, Thomas Mulcair wondered aloud if the government side might confirm now that they’ll be presenting another omnibus budget bill in the fall. In a rare nod to full disclosure, John Baird stood and promised as much.

“Every year, as long as I have been in this place and in the Legislature of Ontario, the Minister of Finance presents a budget in the winter and the spring, then presents a budget bill in the spring and another budget bill in the fall,” Mr. Baird recalled. “That will be no different this year.”

MacKay ignores military commission’s threat of court challenge over suicide documents

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Peter MacKay is refusing to relinquish his right to withhold documents from a military commission investigating the 2008 suicide of Afghan veteran Stuart Langridge.

MacKay rejected opposition calls in the House of Commons Tuesday to waive the solicitor-client confidentiality he says prevents him from releasing key documents to the Military Police Complaints Commission.

“The Military Police Complaints Commission can, and should, accomplish its stated mandate without access to communications between lawyers and their clients,” he said.

'I ain't apologizing,' budget watchdog says

OTTAWA -- Canada's budget watchdog says he "ain't apologizing," even while under a fresh round of criticism from the Conservative government in his ongoing fight for access to information on how the government-wide budget cuts will impact federal agencies.

On Tuesday, a Conservative bulldog offered his party's most recent characterization of Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page.

"I have to say with great respect, I believe from time to time and on occasion the parliamentary budget officer has overstepped his mandate," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said when he rose in the House of Commons.

B.C. backbencher criticizes his gov't over budget cuts

OTTAWA — A B.C. Conservative MP is complaining about regional unfairness in the government's "amalgamation" of Canadian Coast Guard communications centres across Canada and the planned closure of a search-and-rescue station in Vancouver.

Veteran Vancouver Island MP James Lunney's criticism of a government decision is extremely rare in a government famous for its ironclad control over ministers and caucus.

However, the New Democratic Party still criticized Lunney, noting that the MP was blaming "bureaucrats" and "authorities" rather than Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government for the cuts.

Harper mulls cabinet shuffle — who's getting the axe?

"And what is so rare a day in June?" wrote the poet James Russell Lowell. "Then, if ever, come perfect days." Except in Ottawa, where the fairest month is primarily a time to speculate about the entrails of power. Who's up, who's down and who's out in the cabinet shuffle expected before the fall session?

This season, as in the past, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is holding his cards preternaturally close to his vest. However, he is expected to put a new face on the government beginning in early August with a deputy-minister shuffle, then continuing in late August or September at the ministerial level.

NDP filibustering Conservatives' attempt to shut down F-35 committee hearings

PARLIAMENT HILL—The NDP has successfully filibustered a Conservative attempt to shut down a committee inquiry into allegations the government and the Department of National Defence withheld $10-billion worth of F-35 costs.

NDP MP Malcolm Allen (Welland, Ont.), along with other opposition MPs, has prevented a motion to halt Public Accounts Committee hearings into the $25-billion F-35 acquisition from being passed after Conservative MP Andrew Saxton (Vancouver North, B.C.) proposed the motion more than three weeks ago and sent the inquiry into in camera sessions.

Failed Pledges, Weak Draft Lower Hopes for Rio+20 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil

Leaders from more than 100 countries are meeting today in Brazil for the start of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the largest United Nations conference ever. The conference comes 20 years after the U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro pledged to protect the planet by endorsing treaties on biodiversity and climate change. Little has been done in the intervening years to reach development goals in areas like food security, water, global warming and energy. Although negotiators have already agreed on a draft document to be approved by world leaders, many groups working on environmental and poverty issues have criticized the draft agreement, saying it is far too weak. We go to Rio to speak with Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Seeks Asylum in Ecuador in Attempt to Avoid Extradition to U.S.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London and asked for asylum. Assange made the move Tuesday in a last-ditch bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crime accusations. Earlier today, police in London announced Assange is now subject to arrest because his decision to spend the night at the Ecuadorian embassy violated the conditions of his bail. Assange is seeking asylum because he fears extradition to Sweden may lead to his transfer to the United States, where he could potentially face charges relating to WikiLeaks. "In my view, it is a situation of political persecution of Julian Assange for his political activities," says Michael Ratner, a member of Assange’s legal team. "It does fit within the asylum application procedure under the Declaration of Human Rights." In an apparent reference to the United States, an Ecuadorian official said Assange fears being extradited "to a country where espionage and treason are punished with the death penalty."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

A Coup in Cairo: As Muslim Brotherhood Claims Election Victory, Military Strips President of Power

Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Egypt on the country’s growing political crisis. Former President Hosni Mubarak is on life support, both candidates claim to have won last weekend’s election, and the ruling military council has seized greater power. Official presidential election results are not expected to be announced until Thursday. Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested Tuesday night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a rally called by the Muslim Brotherhood, expressing outrage over the army’s decree late Sunday that it would seize all legislative powers. "Right now the country has no constitution, no parliament, and an incoming president that will have scant power," Kouddous says. "So, really, the military council is controlling the key branches of state. ... [It’s] perhaps a fitting end to this nonsensical transition that we’ve seen over the last 16 months."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Greenpeace denied Edmonton billboard space for oil spill ad

Pattison Outdoor has denied Greenpeace Canada the space on one of its billboards in downtown Edmonton – and handed the activist group a much bigger free PR opportunity.

On Friday, the company, which owns billboards and other ad space on public transit and in malls and airports, advised Greenpeace Canada that it had rejected its ad about oil spills in Alberta.

Greenpeace had booked the billboard space earlier in the week and submitted the design on Wednesday. Pattison rejected it two days later without giving the organization its reasons for doing so.

Third oil spill fuels calls for Alberta pipeline review

Environmental critics are calling for a major review of pipeline safety in Alberta after the province experienced a third large oil spill in a month.

About 230,000 litres of heavy crude oil spilled from a pumping station on an Enbridge Inc. pipeline onto farmland, Alberta’s oil and gas regulator, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), said Tuesday.

G20: Stephen Harper downplays international spat over eurozone crisis after Canada joins Pacific Region trade talks

LOS CABOS, MEXICO—Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new trade talks with Asian countries and played down tensions between Canada and Europe at the close of the G20 summit.

After months of lobbying the United States and other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada was accepted Tuesday into the 10-country group putting together a Pacific-area free-trade deal.

“A TPP agreement will enhance trade in the Asia-Pacific region and will provide greater economic opportunity for Canadians and Canadian businesses,” Harper said after sealing the deal in talks with United States President Barack Obama at the summit in this Mexican resort.

Fraud charges part of evidence not heard by jury in drug cop corruption trial

Four of five former drug squad officers on trial in the city’s largest cop corruption case were previously charged with defrauding the Toronto police force.

For the sake of trial fairness, however, references to these so-called “Fink Fund” allegations were not heard by a jury that began deliberations Tuesday.

Raymond Pollard, 48, Joseph Miched, 53, Steven Correia, 45, Ned Maodus, 49, and their former boss, John Schertzer, 54, are variously charged with conspiracy to attempt to obstruct justice, perjury, extortion, theft and assault.

Tories, UN in war of words

OTTAWA—It was about a decade before he began a short stint as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations that John Bolton offered his famous appraisal of the institution.

“If the UN secretariat building in New York lost 10 storeys, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

There are Conservatives in Ottawa with much darker appraisals of the New York-based institution these days.

Ontario ER patients waiting too long for hospital beds, says report

OTTAWA—A national report card on how long Canadians wait for medical treatment gave Ontario hospitals a failing grade for taking too long to move patients out of the emergency room and into beds.

Ontario and Alberta are the only two provinces that publish how long it takes for a patient to move through the emergency department at any given hospital, from the moment they register to the moment they get admitted or go home.

A report card from the Wait Time Alliance — a coalition of national physician groups — issued on Tuesday shows Ontario is failing to meet its own wait-time benchmarks for getting people into beds.

The targeted wait time limits are from four to eight hours, depending on the level of distress the patient is in.

John Baird accuses federal budget watchdog of overstepping mandate

OTTAWA—A parliamentary watchdog who has repeatedly locked horns with the government over his probes of federal spending has overstepped his mandate, says Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

The federal Conservatives are locked in a showdown with Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page after refusing to turn over details of their sweeping budget cuts. Page has also raised red flags about Ottawa's spending on F-35 fighter jets and its crime agenda.

When pressed in the Commons Tuesday over the Tories’ refusal to cooperate, Baird suggested that Page had overstepped his bounds in doing his job.

Acid bath: Evil twin of climate change

"A sea setting us on the ice has brought us close to danger." - Henry Hudson, 1607

In 1979 I was peering through the water at the bottom of the Hudson Strait. In advance of possible drilling for hydrocarbons southeast of Baffin Island we were looking at what was there. And we were amazed. As a marine biologist investigating benthos (the animals that live on the bottom of the ocean) my task was to identify the creatures and draw conclusions about the ecology of the area. To my astonishment the sea bottom teemed with life. Spidery crinoid lilies, stalked tunicates, super-flexible yet highly brittle serpent stars, sponges of a myriad forms, sea anemones waving scores of tentacles through the frigid water, scallops ready to jet propel themselves across the ocean bottom, branching bryozoans waving in the gentle currents, and many other animals difficult to identify in our photos of the sea bottom. Rather than the frigid wasteland that I had imagined, it was instead a submarine arctic jungle.