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.]

Friday, August 03, 2012

Groups call for offshore drilling moratoriam

An ear-splitting recording of a seismic blast, and a disturbing image of a whale bleeding from its eyes.

These audio-visual tools became part of the opposition war chest Wednesday, as yet another call was heard for an exploration and drilling moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

This Week in Poverty: ‘Respect the Worker’

In 2007, Cesar was operating the Multivac machine that wraps frozen pizzas produced at Palermo’s Pizza factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Like most of the others in the factory, he worked seven days a week—the 9 pm to 7 am shift, earning $7.25 an hour—for one of the largest frozen pizza manufacturers in the nation.

According to Cesar, he had complained to his supervisor for a week that the equipment wasn’t functioning properly—it wasn’t sealing correctly and he also needed to pull the plastic out of the machine by hand. He told me the company’s lack of responsiveness was par for the course.

TV News Is Not Aware Of This Libor Scandal Of Which You Speak

Maybe instead of asking why Americans don't care about the Libor scandal, we should be asking whether they've even heard of it.

The scandal that has been not-crazily called the biggest financial scandal in history has gotten all of zero minutes' air time on the ABC and NBC nightly news broadcasts and only a little more time than that on CBS and the major cable news channels, according to a report by the progressive media watchdog Media Matters.

Christy Clark’s office defends $475,015 credit card tab

VANCOUVER — Premier Christy Clark’s office tallied up a credit card bill pushing half a million dollars last year, but her office says there are good reasons behind the tab.

The province’s final books for the last fiscal year show the B.C. premier’s office put $475,015 on credit cards, more than twice what Clark’s predecessor Gordon Campbell racked up.

Wheat farmers lose a tool in the winds of change

The winds of change are sweeping through the Prairies this summer, the federal government having stripped the Canadian Wheat Board of its marketing monopoly on wheat and barley. Since 1943, the wheat board has had the exclusive authority to sell these grains on behalf of farmers, returning to them all of the proceeds minus the costs of administration. This week, the “single desk” system ceased to exist, ushering in the biggest change in Prairie farming in at least two generations.

It’s worth pausing to take stock of the long and storied history of this institution. Will the change bring a breath of fresh air or the hot, withering gales of a Prairie scorcher?

Tories trying to block new evidence in robocalls case

The federal Conservative Party's lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, is objecting to a demand by a group of voters that Elections Canada provide details of complaints received from voters in the robocalls affair.

The voters, backed by the Council of Canadians, are suing to overturn the results in seven ridings where bogus phone calls were reported in last year's election. But Hamilton alleges in a letter to their lawyer that the demand for specifics on these reports would "interfere with the case timetable."

Feds set Gateway pipeline deadline amid Moore's concerns

The federal government has set a firm deadline of Dec. 31, 2013 for the review panel deciding the future of the Northern Gateway pipeline, shutting down the possibility of further extensions and putting into place the expedited assessment process pledged in its budget implementation bill.

But the written notice issued by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Friday comes on the heels of comments from the senior Harper government minister in B.C., James Moore, who told a radio program in Vancouver on Wednesday that doubts about the Northern Gateway project are "widespread, given the behaviour of Enbridge recently."

B.C. residents not energetic about energy, see little benefit in oil projects

Fresh off a trip along the B.C. coast that had him meet with several first nations – and having watched his rival steal all the headlines in the energy debate – New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix said it’s time to stop focusing on pipeline politics.

Turns out many British Columbians agree.

An Angus Reid Public Opinion poll released exclusively to The Globe and Mail says despite recent discussion about Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway project, only 1 per cent of respondents think energy is the most important issue facing the province.

The bridge that unites Canada is broken

Christy Clark is a political “dead woman walking,” so her cynical stunt last week at the premiers’ conference in Halifax was the all too predictable act of a desperate politician.

But it may have actually accomplished something important; people are talking about Canada’s economic union.

Clark’s “no money, no pipeline” routine highlighted the fragility of that union. She shamelessly threw Alberta’s thoughtful premier Alison Redford under the bus, all but gutting something she’s been diligently working to advance for quite some time. Redford initiated a highly constructive national conversation about the need for an energy strategy that seeks to leverage Canada’s formidable energy capacity. When I reflect on this, however, the notion that any provincial premier would carry the can for an idea of national significance speaks volumes to the absenteeism of Stephen Harper and the leadership vacuum he has produced.

Students are the wild card in the Quebec election: political scientist

On the first full day of the Quebec election campaign, university tuition hikes have become the central issue.

On Wednesday morning,  Premier Jean Charest did the expected by pulling the plug on his Liberal government and sending Quebecers to the polls for a September 4 election.

By that evening, thousands of students took to Montreal's streets in a continuation of protests over the Liberal government's planned tuition fee hikes. According to The Canadian Press, there were 15 arrests and some minor damage to property.

Crown corporation draws taxpayer group’s ire as carbon credit sales plummet

Private companies bought fewer carbon credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions in 2011-12 than in the previous year from the Pacific Carbon Trust, showing the province’s carbon corporation is a failure, according to a taxpayers’ group.

In 2010-11, the carbon trust sold 7,385 tonnes to private clients such as Helijet International, Coast Hotels and the Vancouver Aquarium. But that figure dropped to 2,167 tonnes in 2011-12 after the trust lost West Coast Air as a client.

Ornge board in the dark about aspects of former CEO’s pay

The $1.4-million in annual compensation paid to former Ornge chief executive officer Chris Mazza included unauthorized payments made without supporting invoices, the air ambulance service’s former chairman alleges.

Dr. Mazza also demanded that company executives give him a vacation payout, which was not authorized by the board of directors, and insisted that he be paid for medical services he was no longer providing.

Lawyer for activist group asks Elections Canada for more details on its robocalls investigation

OTTAWA — A group seeking to overturn the results of last year’s election in seven ridings has asked Elections Canada to provide more details of its ongoing investigation of the robocalls affair.

The lawyer for the Council of Canadians wrote to the electoral agency’s lawyer on Wednesday, asking for documents and statistics that could help bolster claims that pre-recorded and live calls made to voters suppressed enough votes to change the outcome in the ridings.

Aboriginal affairs minister 'disappointed' with court ruling on Attawapiskat

REGINA - Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said the government is disappointed with a Federal Court ruling that says it was "unreasonable in all circumstances" to appoint an outside manager to a troubled Ontario First Nation.

The court ruled Wednesday that a third party was the wrong way to address a humanitarian crisis last fall in Attawapiskat.

Duncan would not say if it was a mistake to send in someone to take over the books.

Conservatives running out of bogeymen on the Northern Gateway pipeline project

When he emerged from the snow banks of Davos to deliver his Swiss Throne Speech last winter, Stephen Harper made it clear where he thought Canada’s future lay.

His Conservative government, stinging from politically-motivated delays in its Keystone XL pipeline south of the border, would make it a “national priority” to ensure Canada has the “capacity to export our energy products beyond the United States, and specifically to Asia,” Harper said.

Harper government says Canadian youth misinformed about global warming talks

OTTAWA — The Harper government says that some of its most vocal critics on global warming policies – Canadian youth – are “not well informed” about the process of international negotiations, according to an internal Environment Canada document that has prompted astonishment from some of the young people in question.

“I don’t really know where to start,” said Amara Possian, 23, a Montreal resident who co-ordinated a delegation of Canadian youth in December 2011 who attended the annual United Nations climate change summit in South Africa. “It’s not that we’re not informed, it’s just that the government doesn’t want to listen.”

It’s only natural for faith to affect politics

The political repercussions of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s evangelical Christian beliefs, which are being probed these days, might be seen as relevant to the recent controversy around a cabinet minister’s wife speaking publicly on an unpopular topic.

Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Harper’s church denomination accepted the ordination of women, by a vote of 380 to 281 at its national assembly. The Christian and Missionary Alliance will now extend the same affirmation for spiritual service to women that it has to men. That’s a story for another column, but as a member of one of the 400 Canadian churches, I passed the time between such rancorous assembly business by networking.

Policing the police state iPolitics Insight

Brand-wise, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is like Mickey Mouse: legendary.

When you see Mickey, you’re not supposed to go looking for a mouse-trap. Similarly, the RCMP is not supposed to creep you out.

They are supposed to untie Nell and get her off the tracks before the train cuts her a northern and southern hemisphere, right?

Heck, in the culture at least, the Mounties produced Sergeant Preston, Dudley Do-Right and of course Paul Gross, the constable on the top of every Canadian girl’s wedding cake.

Wheat board pardons from Harper could open the door to abuse of power, critics charge

Normally, when someone wants to be pardoned for a past crime they have to apply to the Parole Board of Canada.

But on rare occasions, the government can exercise what Prime Minister Harper referred to this week as an “ancient power”: the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

That’s exactly what it did in suspending the records of a group of farmers convicted years ago of taking their grain across the border to sell in the U.S. against the law.