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.]

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Police oversight board fumbled democratic responsibility

Civilian oversight of our police is essential. It acts as a check and balance against the legal powers society has given the police to enforce the law. That statement, in a report by retired judge John Morden, will strike most readers as self-evident. Any democracy worthy of the name gives civilians a strong leash on its law enforcement authorities. But in Toronto in 2010, the civilians holding the leash fell down on the job.

According to Mr. Morden’s sharpl y worded report, the Toronto police services board was a “voiceless entity” in the run-up to the G20 summit that June, “a mere bystander in a process it was supposed to lead.” Instead of asking tough questions, it deferred to police chief Bill Blair.

Exxon CEO: Fossil fuels will warm planet, but humans can adapt; drilling risks are overstated

NEW YORK, N.Y. - ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says fears about climate change, drilling, and energy dependence are overblown.

In a speech Wednesday, Tillerson acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt.

The risks of oil and gas drilling are well understood and can be mitigated, he said. And dependence on other nations for oil is not a concern as long as access to supply is certain, he said.

Doctors to track impact of cuts to refugee health care coverage

OTTAWA—Canadian doctors are ready to make noise about the consequences of cuts to a federal program that will restrict health coverage for refugee claimants.

“We are stubborn. We’re upset and we are professionals. The government is hurting our patients. We will not stop, ever, and we will not forget,” Dr. Philip Berger, chief of family and community medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto told a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

NDP says it will ask justice minister to call in RCMP over Del Mastro allegations

OTTAWA — The New Democrats say they will ask Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to call in the RCMP to investigate new allegations about the financing of Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s 2008 election campaign.

The NDP also want Nicholson to ask Director of Public Prosecutions Brian Saunders to provide prosecutorial advice to police because the politically-charged claims of a false document and reimbursements to campaign donors exceed the scope of Elections Canada’s mandate.

Elliot Lake mall patched 'on the cheap,' ex-manager says

A former manager of the Elliot Lake, Ont., mall says the owner was warned as far back as 2008 that if he didn’t make repairs to the mall roof it could collapse.

Brian England says he was with Bob Nazarian, the 66-year-old Richmond Hill businessman who owns the mall, when Nazarian was told of the consequences of not doing repair work to the mall’s roof.

“The architect plain and simply told Mr. Nazarian that if he didn’t proceed with these repairs,” said England, “that we could find that his structure was at the point of deterioration that it possibly could collapse.

“It was that clear.”

Ethics commissioner wants to get tough on MPs who don’t declare gifts

The five MPs met the Crown Prince of Kuwait, travelled to a desert oasis and discussed world affairs with senior Kuwaiti officials. And when the $60,000 Parliamentary trip wrapped up just days before the 2011 election campaign began, they received several gifts, including Bulgari watches.

Such luxury pieces sell in Canada for thousands of dollars, and MPs are required to disclose all gifts worth more than $500 in a public registry. The registry shows declarations from two of the five, both Conservatives. Two Liberals – then-Speaker Peter Milliken and Raymonde Folco – retired before the 60-day limit for disclosure, and the registry lists only current MPs. The fifth MP, Liberal Judy Foote, said she didn’t think the gifts were worth $500 and only declared them on Wednesday after calls from The Globe and Mail.

How applicants are stumbling on the final step to becoming Canadians

Dozens of immigrants from Afghanistan began asking Anisa Sharifi for help two years ago. After failing the citizenship test, they all had the same question: How could they pass so they could become Canadians after living here for years?

“They’re trying hard, they want to be in Canada, they’re happy here,” said Ms. Sharifi, a settlement worker with the Afghan Women’s Organization in Toronto, one of the many organizations across the country that help prepare immigrants for the test.

Saga of a Toronto police drug squad

This is the story of Central Field Command drug squad, Team 3, and the long, at times tumultuous, effort to investigate and prosecute officers and also stave off a full-blown public inquiry.

The saga has never been publicly told in its entirety.

It's about the thin blue line of police solidarity, about a task force led by an outsider but otherwise involving officers investigating their own — a squad entrusted to enforce laws that declare a futile, never-ceasing war on drugs.

Federal court asked to enforce ruling on immigration delays

The Federal Court of Canada has been asked to compel Ottawa to honour a court-sanctioned agreement with litigants who recently claimed a legal victory over immigration processing delays.

In a legal motion filed Friday, lawyer for the 900 litigants complained that the government has refused to act on the June 14 court judgment, which ruled Citizenship and Immigration Canada must process in a timely fashion their backlogged applications in the federal skilled worker program.

The motion followed an extraordinary move by the presiding judge, Justice Donald Rennie, to reverse his own initial decision to deny the government’s rights to appeal, opening the door for Ottawa to take the case to the Federal Court of Appeal.

Canada’s troubled asbestos industry gets a $58-million lifeline

ASBESTOS, QUE.—Canada’s beleaguered asbestos industry, which has been a target of activists who link its product to cancer, has been given a $58-million lease on life by the Quebec government.

While the industry has appeared on the brink of collapse, Friday’s long-rumoured provincial loan will cover more than two-thirds of the cost of renovating and reopening the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Que. — a move that could keep production going for another 20 years.