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, August 04, 2012

Northern Gateway pipeline could go north

Should B.C. Premier Christy Clark follow through her promise to block the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline if her conditions for the project aren't met, Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod says he would be prepared to step in and support a "northern route" that would see bitumen shipped from Alberta north to the N.W.T. and out to Asia.

That's because the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, a $16.2-billion project intended to transport natural gas from the Beaufort Sea through the Northwest Territories, south to a hub in northwestern Alberta and out to North American markets, has been put on hold after its investors suspended the funding.

Trans Mountain: The other Pacific pipeline

It is a sunny Sunday and Vancouver is doing what it does best: looking pretty and post-industrial. Morning lights up the downtown’s glass horizon. A half-dozen scooters rip down the road in a platoon. Cyclists swish past Zipcar lots, kayakers and stand-up paddle surfers ply the waters.

But just a few kilometres away, an oil tanker is preparing to raise anchor and slide into port. Soon, it will open its holds, with a total capacity of 650,000-barrels, to a flush of Alberta oil. After 30 hours of pumping, it will slip away to Long Beach, Calif. Oil tankers are, for now, relatively rare here. A tanker sails into the Vancouver harbour about once a week, docking at the Kinder Morgan-owned Westridge Terminal to accept Alberta crude flowing across the Rockies in the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The ripple effect of the U.S. drought

The United States is suffering its worst drought in 50 years. What happens in the parched fields and prairies of the Midwest is affecting people, prices and political stability worldwide. Here’s a look at the international crisis.

Southeast Asia:

The region’s taste for rice will help insulate the region from the worst fallout of the corn-driven food shortage.

The Long, Lawless Ride of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Joe Arpaio, the 80-year-old lawman who brands himself "America's toughest sheriff," is smiling like a delighted gnome. Nineteen floors above the blazing Arizona desert, the Phoenix sprawl ripples in the heat as Arpaio cues up the Rolling Stones to welcome a reporter "from that marijuana magazine."

The guided tour of Arpaio's legend has officially begun. Here, next to his desk, is the hand-painted sign of draconian rules for Tent City, the infamous jail he set up 20 years ago, in which some 2,000 inmates live under canvas tarps in the desert, forced to wear pink underwear beneath their black-and-white-striped uniforms while cracking rocks in the stifling heat. HARD LABOR, the sign reads. NO GIRLIE MAGAZINES!

Who’s sitting on all the cash? Corporate Canada

We’ve all heard about Corporate America’s still-growing mountain of cash. But in relative terms, Corporate Canada is sitting on Mount Everest.

Indeed, Canada’s corporate stash is so big that if even a small fraction of it were deployed, it could significantly enrich investors and jump-start the country’s economy all at the same time, argues Capital Economics.

This pirate is pathetic

When we think of pirates, we think of the Disneyfied version, like the lovable Captain Jack Sparrow.

And then there are some semi-literate thugs off the coast of Somalia who make a business out of hijacking ships and demanding a ransom.

But what would a modern, sophisticated pirate in the 21st century look like?

Lamphier: Enbridge latest victim of anti-oilsands campaign

EDMONTON — Life is full of risks. Most people accept that as a given.

Some 2,000 Canadians die in motor vehicle accidents each year. Another 11,000 suffer serious injuries.

Yet no one is demanding a ban on cars — not even MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

Don’t fear the preacher. Let politicians pray in peace

Every now and again, some commentator insinuates that evangelicals have unprecedented influence in Canadian politics; and that Prime Minister Stephen Harper might be one of them, on account of he’s a member of an evangelical congregation and doesn’t talk about his beliefs; and that perhaps this threatens, or should threaten, the traditional separation between politicians’ personal and religious beliefs and their public lives. Lawrence Martin was the latest to do so this week, in The Globe and Mail, citing journalist Andrew Nikiforuk’s circumstantial case for a divinely inspired Prime Minister published recently by The Tyee.

Rights are relative in Stephen Harper's world

Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a world where we only had to obey the laws we liked and disregard or flagrantly flout those we didn't? And wouldn't it be nice if, having broken those laws, someone came along afterward and wiped away our criminal record?

Welcome to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's world.

Harper was in Kindersley this week exercising the Royal Prerogative of Mercy to pardon 13 Alberta farmers who defied the Canadian Wheat Board and illegally transported grain across the Canada-U.S. border in the 1990s and early 2000s. "These people were not criminals, they were our fellow citizens, citizens who protested injustice.''

Clark following long line of hardline B.C. premiers in pipeline standoff

OTTAWA -- Premier Christy Clark's declaration that she might try to block a pipeline megaproject deemed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be in the "national interest" is hardly a radical step in B.C.'s history.

A year before B.C. joined Canada in 1871, the eccentric future premier Amor de Cosmos pronounced: "I stand here not as a Canadian, but as a British Columbian. My allegiance is due first to British Columbia."

De Cosmos, a Nova Scotia-born newspaperman who changed his name from William Smith while living in California, was a champion of B.C.-Canada unity. He was speaking in favour of a B.C.'s successful demand for a sweetheart financial deal and a commitment from Ottawa to build a trans-continental railroad.

Parliamentary watchdog dives into $35-billion shipbuilding plan

OTTAWA — Vindicated by revelations this past spring that the Department of National Defence withheld information about the full cost of the F-35 fighter, Parliament’s budgetary watchdog has now turned its attention to the Harper government’s $35-billion national shipbuilding plan.

The government has maintained the national shipbuilding procurement strategy, as the massive plan to overhaul of Canada’s navy and coast guard fleets is called, is moving full steam ahead.

Federal cuts threaten program hiring medically discharged vets

Federal cuts are threatening the future of a program that hires veterans who have been medically discharged from the Canadian Forces, according to a Liberal senator.

"It is a program that's in trouble," says Percy Downe, who was so worried about the fate of the program he wrote Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers asking why they weren't doing more to support the program.

Age collides with politics in today's fractured Quebec

Sitting on a stool at Caffe della Via, a hip student hangout on the fringes of Montreal’s fast-gentrifying Petite Italie, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is remarkably composed.

Although he leads Quebec’s most radical student activists – known by the acronym CLASSE – he’s no scruffy agitator or starry-eyed dreamer. A study in Gallic elegance, the 22-year-old is poised, articulate, groomed to an almost preppy shine. The only outward sign of his militancy is a red square, a symbol of the student protests he’s sparked, pinned to his shirt.

Student Loan Interest Eliminated In Prince Edward Island

CHARLOTTETOWN - Prince Edward Island students will be able to access interest-free provincial student loans this fall.

Premier Robert Ghiz announced Friday that a zero per cent interest rate on the provincial student loan program will be implemented Oct. 1.

The program will apply to loans issued after Jan. 1, 2001.

A news release from the province says there are about 2,600 loans currently in repayment.

The government says the savings on the average loan in the first year of repayment will be about $1,000.

It says the initiative will cost the provincial government about $500,000 annually

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: CP

B.C. wants feds to beef up environmental laws, funding

Ottawa must strengthen regulations and inspection requirements to protect the land and the ocean before B.C. will sup-port Enbridge's $6-billion Northern Gateway project, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said Thursday.

He said the federal funds available to clean up marine spills must also increase.

Lake's comments came as the National Energy Board announced stepped-up audits at Enbridge's control centre in Edmonton, and U.S. regulators told the company it could not restart a Wisconsin pipe-line following a recent leak until it hired an independent party to supervise a new safety plan.

Doctors fight to save refugee health benefits

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has political power, taxpayer-funded polling and a bagful of emotion-triggering phrases — abuse of Canadian taxpayers, bogus refugees, gold-plated benefits — on his side.

Canada’s doctors have passion, medical ethics and a grassroots network of nurses, midwives, therapists, church leaders, social activists and health experts on their side.

According to the immigration minister, public sentiment is running 20 to 1 in favour of his decision to cancel health benefits for refugee claimants.

China, not Canada, first to broach free trade talks, government documents show

OTTAWA — While the Harper government has prided itself on chasing down free trade partners around the world, newly released documents show it was actually China that came banging on Canada’s door looking to start work on a deal.

The question that remains unanswered, however, is whether Canada is at all interested.

According to briefing notes prepared for Joe Oliver when he was appointed natural resources minister last year, the Chinese offer was made in fall, 2010.

Elections Canada investigator finally contacting Del Mastro donors

OTTAWA — An Elections Canada investigator has begun contacting contributors to Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s 2008 election campaign to inquire about alleged reimbursements paid by a company owned by the MP’s cousin.

Investigator Ronald Lamothe this week telephoned several donors who had each given $1,000 to Del Mastro’s campaign or riding association during the election.

politics and social issues. Explaining Alberta Health Services: Nursing home repairs? Sorry, we need the money for Allaudin Merali!

Let's cut right to the chase: If Alberta Health Services can afford to buy out Allaudin Merali, again, it can afford to keep the doors open at the Little Bow Continuing Care Centre in Carmangay.

The Little Bow centre in the village of 275 souls way down in Wildrose country is home to 18 elderly dementia patients. AHS says that at 54 years old, the building just too expensive to renovate and too rickety to keep open. Why, it would cost about a million dollars to fix the roof, make the washrooms wheelchair accessible and do the other work that's needed!

So the place going to have to close, 36 jobs will be lost in a community that depends on them and the residents will be scattered to the four winds -- or, more likely, nearby Alberta towns like Vulcan and Claresholm.

CEP, CAW forge cutting-edge vision for new union

"It is a new union for new times, a new political and economic reality."

That's how Dave Coles described the recommended association between The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) and the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) during a press conference Wednesday morning at the Ryerson Student Centre in Toronto where the New Union Proposal Report was released.

Last summer, leaders of both unions began initial discussion around the formation of a new union. Beginning in November, they held small group meetings with the top elected leadership of both unions. By January, they'd formed a Proposal Committee.

Same-sex marriage is no poultry matter

In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth.

He squished Earth into a nice ball shape between his big God paws, then somehow formed Heaven. (Science hasn’t figured that one out.)

On the second day, He created light and time.

And on the third day, this Wednesday, He told Mike Huckabee to ruin America’s tastiest chicken sandwich.

Exposed Enbridge pipeline in Rouge Park puts waterways at risk

For two and a half years, an Enbridge Inc. pipeline has sat exposed in the Rouge River in Toronto’s Rouge Park.

The river flows to Lake Ontario and is home to a rich ecosystem with vulnerable flora and fauna. If the pipe succumbed to damage or erosion — a possibility in its current state — the spill would be nothing short of a disaster, according to Adam Scott, of the legal organization Environmental Defence.

“If anything, even a small spill, were to happen, it’s quite likely that oil would get into the lake,” Scott said. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen. We should never have been put in this position.”

Harper moves to streamline B.C. pipeline review process

OTTAWA—The Harper government moved Friday to streamline the review and decision-making process for the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline, which has emerged as one of the most contentious mega-projects of modern times.

To prevent any more delays in the National Energy Board-directed study of the feasibility of the $6-billion plan to ship oilsands-derived crude through northern British Columbia, the Conservatives said the review must be completed by no later than December 2013.

The Dangerous New Era Of Climate Change

For many years, the risk of climate change was widely regarded as something far in the future, a risk perhaps facing our children or their children. But recent global events suggest that we have now entered a new and very dangerous era of global climate shifts, one that corporate lobbies and media propagandists are still attempting to deny.

NEW YORK – For years, climate scientists have been warning the world that the heavy use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) threatens the world with human-induced climate change. The rising atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, would warm the planet and change rainfall and storm patterns and raise sea levels. Now those changes are hitting in every direction, even as powerful corporate lobbies and media propagandists like Rupert Murdoch try to deny the truth.