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, August 08, 2012

Peter Kent's Office Keeps Quiet About Report Linking Human Activity To Extreme Weather: Document

A government document reveals that Environment Minister Peter Kent's department tried to limit media exposure of a report linking extreme weather to human activity.

The memo, obtained by Postmedia under the Access to Information Act, was sent to Kent by then-Deputy Minister Paul Boothe and outlines the office's approach to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that took place in Uganda last November.

Saskatchewan First Nations Housing: Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Denounces Cuts To Social Housing Program

SASKATOON - The group representing 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan is denouncing cuts to an on-reserve social housing program.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's budget for on-reserve housing in the province has been cut 30 per cent to $18.7 million from $26.2 million.

Federation vice-chief Morley Watson says the cuts will impact the standard of living in communities already below the poverty line.

The federation says there is a shortage of 11,000 homes on reserves across Saskatchewan.

It also says it seems incredible to make cuts to the program given the humanitarian crisis last fall on an Ontario reserve.

Attawapiskat (ah-tah-WHAH'-piss-kat) declared a state of emergency after a severe housing shortage forced more than two dozen families to live in temporary, mouldy shelters, some without insulation or plumbing.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: CP

Audit of F-35 numbers up in the air more than two months after report deadline

OTTAWA - The Harper government has yet to hire an independent auditor to crunch the numbers on the F-35 deal, more than two months after its self-imposed deadline to clean up the stealth fighter fiasco.

Public Works quietly re-issued a tender on Wednesday, asking for an audit firm to come forward and take on the politically explosive task of verifying the figures provided by National Defence, which was accused last spring of hiding the true cost of the multi-billion dollar program.

Ethical Waters: Healing Walk in the tar sands grows year by year

In the face of enormous destruction and intimidation, it is crucial to assert what one values, and why. The third annual Tar Sands Healing Walk met this challenge head on with courage and wisdom, as Indigenous communities asserted that it is a human responsibility to protect clean and healthy water, air and land for future generations.

Walking together on August 4 through the 14-km epicenter of the Alberta tar sands, roughly 250 people witnessed the immense industrial devastation and conducted ceremonies for the healing of the land and waters.

Union Gas collects $60 million in unauthorized fees, customers claim

Union Gas has pocketed tens of millions of dollars in cost savings without fully sharing the money with ratepayers, some of Union’s biggest customers allege.

The customers compare it to a service business billing its clients for an executive class flight — but then flying economy and using the difference to boost its profit.

Only the difference in this case is about $60 million over five years.

Dispatch from Generation Fucked

If you’re like me—a person under 30—the job outlook right now is pretty much shit.  And if you’re even more like me—a graduate student in history (or any of the humanities/social sciences)—you likely have to cope with a lot of the social blame we receive regularly that lambastes us for our “poor life choices” and “unemployable” fields.  If you’re like me, and joined academia from a working class community, you’ve probably also been told numerous times that perhaps you should have eschewed college altogether, perhaps it wasn’t the “right” choice for you, and you should go back to shoveling manure and subjecting your body to inhuman working hours because that’s your natural state—even if it caused you to slide into a severe depression that almost lost you the right to attend university in the first place.

Postal dispute arbitrator should recuse himself due to bias, says federal court

The arbitrator appointed by the government to settle the labour dispute between postal workers and Canada Post should be recused, says a federal court.

After the government passed the Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act in June, 2011 – the one that prompted a lengthy filibuster by the new opposition New Democrats – Guy Dufort was appointed as the arbitrator in the disagreement.

Cutbacks to Unemployment Insurance Came Long Before the Great Recession

You may have heard that we’re in the middle of an unemployment crisis. It’s little wonder that an average of 365,500 people per week made new claims for unemployment benefits over the past month. These high numbers have been straining unemployment insurance programs at the federal and state level, and many states have run out of reserves to pay for them, triggering a reduction in benefits. But this crisis wasn’t inevitable. The pull back in unemployment benefits is just another result of state-level choices to cut taxes at the expense of state spending, spending that could be cushioning the blow of the Great Recession.

Undocumented Immigrants Ride Through the South, Headed for a DNC Coming Out

Party conventions always attract more than just delegates. Although this year’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) will have its share of fans, onlookers and protesters, one particular group will hold a historic presence when they arrive next month. That’s because the workers, students, mothers and fathers who are participating in a new kind of Freedom Ride are all undocumented immigrants.

UndocuBus is transporting about thirty people across ten states this summer, as it approaches Charlotte, North Carolina, for the DNC. It’s making stops on the way to pick up new riders, and to meet with supporters. Whatever happens at the convention will depend on how federal immigration authorities—as well as the DNC itself—responds to the riders’ presence.

Why the Reaction Is Different When the Terrorist Is White

Observing that the Sunday attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin hasn't attracted nearly as much attention as other shooting sprees, including last week's rampage at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Robert Wright wonders if the disparity is due to the fact that most people who shape discourse in America "can imagine their friends and relatives -- and themselves -- being at a theater watching a Batman movie," but can't imagine themselves or their acquaintances in a Sikh temple. "This isn't meant as a scathing indictment; it's only natural to get freaked out by threats in proportion to how threatening they seem to you personally," Wright says, adding that the press ought to give much more coverage to the incident.

MS Advocates Split With Romney Over Obamacare

With Mitt Romney the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, his wife, Ann, has become the most high-profile advocate for people with multiple sclerosis since Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. From her new post as potential first lady, Ann Romney has done much to raise the profile of an incurable, degenerative illness that afflicts some 400,000 Americans. Local chapters of the National MS Society have been clamoring for her to appear at their fundraisers and other events.

But there's a problem: MS advocates say that policies Romney now supports would be detrimental for many MS sufferers, and they are actively opposing these proposals. Which means that Mitt Romney is now at odds with the MS community he and his wife have long supported.

Superinsects Are Thriving in This Summer's Drought

This summer, a severe drought and genetically modified crops are delivering a one-two punch to US crops.

Across the farm country, years of reliance on Monsanto's Roundup Ready corn and soy seeds—engineered for resistance to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide—have given rise to a veritable plague of Roundup-resistant weeds. Meanwhile, Monsanto's other blockbuster genetically modified trait—the toxic gene of the pesticidal bacteria Bt—is also beginning to lose effectiveness, imperiling crops even as they're already bedeviled by drought. Last year, I reported on Bt-resistant western rootworms munching on Bt-engineered corn in isolated counties in Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois.

How Secret Foreign Money Could Infiltrate US Elections

Foreign money and American elections are like fire and water, orange juice and toothpaste, Yankees fans and Red Sox fans: The two don't mix. At least they haven't for nearly 50 years, when the federal government banned foreigners from giving or spending any money on local, state, and federal elections.

But for the secretive nonprofit groups pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2012 elections, the rules are different. These outfits, organized under the 501(c) section of the US tax code, can take money from foreign citizens, foreign labor unions, and foreign corporations, and they don't have to tell voters about it because they don't publicly disclose their donors. What's more, with a savvy attorney and a clean paper trail, a foreign donor could pump millions into a nonprofit without even the nonprofit knowing the money's true origin.

Apple's $88 Million Tax Break Doesn't Compute for Nevada

If corporate America is going to lead the way out of the recession, then Apple would seem to be its Horatio Alger. The expansion of the nation's most lucrative tech company into cloud computing is driving demand for vast data centers and the workers needed to build and maintain them. Just last week, Apple gained approval to build a $1 billion server farm in Reno, Nevada—a state that suffers from the nation's worst budget deficit and highest unemployment rate.

But Apple's move will do little to nothing to solve Nevada's employment and budget woes. To the contrary, before Apple would agree to break ground in the Silver State, it demanded and received $88 million in state and local tax breaks—the largest corporate tax exemption in Nevada history. What's more, the deal doesn't even require that Apple create new jobs or hire locals.

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline: What Will 500 Extra Tankers Off B.C. Coast Mean?

VANCOUVER - If Enbridge (TSX:ENB) and the Alberta government get their way, an additional 500 tankers could be coming in and out of northern B.C. each year, with each departing ship carrying millions of litres of oil destined for foreign markets.

As each double-hulled tanker makes it way through the Douglas Channel near Kitimat, a tethered tug boat would help keep the massive ship on course. A marine pilot trained on local waters would make sure the vessel navigates safely through the water.

English Montrealers Richer And Poorer Than Before

A new study has found the financial gap between rich and poor English-speaking Montrealers has grown in the last 15 years.

It is the first time Quebec's public health research institute has singled out anglophones in a study.

The authors have concluded that Montreal – often perceived as "a bastion of wealthy anglophones" – is actually split.

Quebec Student Protest Vote: Only Select Media Allowed To Attend

MONTREAL - A group of Quebec students voting on whether to return to school, a decision that could hold far-reaching political consequences, is limiting media coverage of their event.

The debate and vote were taking place Tuesday evening during an election campaign in which student strikes are among the central themes.

Marvin Wilson Execution: Texas Puts Man With 61 IQ To Death

NEW YORK -- Texas authorities executed Marvin Wilson, a 54-year-old death row inmate, on Tuesday night after his attorneys failed to convince state and federal courts that he was mentally retarded and ineligible for the death penalty under a 2002 Supreme Court ruling.

Wilson was declared dead at 6:27 p.m. local time. He cried out to his gathered family members as he expired, Texas officials said.

"Give mom a hug for me and tell her that I love her," Wilson said.

Judge Orders Judicial Review Of Prison Grievance System

A federal court judge says Canada's prison system is breaking the law by failing to deal with inmate grievances in a timely fashion.

In a newly released ruling, Madame Justice Anne Mactavish writes that the ongoing backlog in the inmate grievance system is contributing to growing tensions and violence within federal prisons. She ordered a judicial review and that a senior official with the Correctional Service of Canada should review the matter.

Private contractor garbage pickup lags into the night

The company hired to collect Toronto residents’ trash between Yonge Street and the Humber River had a difficult first day on the job, with some people complaining about missed and late pickups as garbage trucks continued to roll through the streets as late as 9 p.m.

But Green For Life Environmental (GFL)’s chief executive officer said Tuesday’s delays were expected – and likely to continue for at least the next month.

Canada has to master the complexity of the U.S. political system

In three months we will wake up to see who Americans have elected as president, to the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate. We will be deeply affected by the results, whatever the political stripe of those who occupy the White House and take control of the two houses of Congress. Like it or not, Canadians do have a “dog in this hunt.” Geography, history, economics and culture have created a deep integration that goes far beyond a typical foreign relationship.

A free market in good judgment

They say the prime minister is a policy wonk with a keen appreciation for free markets. If that’s true, I have an idea he’s going to love.

One word: plastics.

No, sorry. That’s a line from The Graduate. But my idea is almost as old as that movie.

Two words: prediction markets.

Harper’s true religion

Does Prime Minister Stephen Harper, like some ancient Roman emperor, make political decisions only after he inspects the entrails of a sacrificial chicken?

I am actually waiting for some political columnist to ask this question.

After all, it’s suddenly the rage for such observers to put forward the oddball notion that perhaps Harper is a devoted disciple of irrational religious practices.

What’s the proof for this extraordinary claim?

Clark's Northern Gateway demands perfectly reasonable

Christy Clark has done Alberta a huge favour by giving the Northern Gate-way project the only second chance it will ever get in the court of B.C. public opinion.

As an Angus Reid online survey of 804 British Columbians reported last week, 51 per cent "are taking a moderate position of support or opposition that could change depending on specific considerations."

B.C.'s premier, by articulating five conditions for provincial support of the pipeline between the oilsands and Kiti-mat, has given the $6-billion project a small but fighting chance.

Religious freedom office in final set-up stages: Government

The Harper government says it is in the final stages of launching its religious freedom office. Some observers say while they expected the government to deliver on its campaign promise earlier this year, they sense officials are treading carefully in selecting an ambassador to lead the office—a task one analyst said might be taking longer than expected.

Joseph Lavoie, the acting director of communications for Foreign Minister John Baird, told Embassy the government is still ironing out all the details of the office, but the plan is to launch it this year.

"We're still finalizing the last steps," Mr. Lavoie said.

Elections Canada investigating claims workers at company owned by Del Mastro's cousin were reimbursed for donations to MP's campaign

Elections Canada is now investigating allegations that donors who contributed about $20,000 to Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro’s 2008 re-election campaign were reimbursed by a company owned by the MP’s cousin.

About 20 people who either worked for Deltro Electric in Mississauga or are relatives of someone who worked for the company at the time each donated $1,000 to Del Mastro’s campaign and it is alleged that the company gave them $1,050 for making the donations.

Cnooc Bid for Nexen Presses Harper Amid Investor Concern

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet are wrestling with how to handle the proposed takeover of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. (NXY) by China’s Cnooc Ltd. (883) as some investors anticipate Canada will block the bid.

Cnooc’s $15.1 billion agreement to buy Nexen will be part of the discussions when Harper meets his ministers in Ottawa today, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition he not be identified because the talks aren’t public.

Cabinet ministers didn’t know supporter was guilty of money-laundering

OTTAWA – A Canadian businessman who pleaded guilty to money-laundering in San Diego in 2008 was able to hob-nob with Canadian politicians for four years because American authorities kept his file sealed while he helped with their investigation into an illegal online pharmacy.

Nathan Jacobson, a Winnipeg businessman who struck it rich in Russia in the 1990s, rubbed elbows frequently with Canadian politicians, including Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, because they had no idea he faced legal trouble in the United States.

The New Union Project: From bureaucratic crisis to rank and file opportunity By

This long weekend I sat down to read the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) final draft proposal for a new union. I must admit when I first heard about this merger I was more than a little skeptical. I immediately thought of the rash of union mergers in Canada and the United States that have happened over the past 30 years where dying unions merge instead of actually organizing new members.

After an initial reading of the document I was surprisingly less cynical than before. Now this is not because my fears have been alleviated, rather the document opens up a space for a long overdue honest discussion in the labour movement.

No more buses: Acadian Lines will no longer exist in the Maritimes

Students in the Maritimes won't be busing home for Christmas this year.

Acadian Lines announced today they will no longer be operating in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, or Prince Edward Island, as of November 30.

In a statement published on August 7, Acadian VP Denis Gallant said overall, popular routes are unable to compensate for less popular routes, and so Maritime operations are always losing money.

This comes on the heels of a 5-month labour dispute which cancelled service for the winter in New Brunwick and Nova Scotia.

Acadian Lines is the only intercity bus service in the Maritimes. Train service is sparse and slower, and even if you fly, you need to get home from the airport somehow.

Do you use Acadian Lines to get around? What will you do now? Do you have a car? Does your friend have a car? Send her number and your stories to

Original Article
Author: Theresa Ketterling 

Fuelling the future requires bold vision

B.C.'s Christy Clark was right to walk away from a national energy strategy promoted by Alberta’s Alison Redford at a provincial premiers' meeting in Halifax in late July. She just did it for the wrong reasons.

Clark said she won't sign on unless B.C. is guaranteed a bigger share of benefits from the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. But all the money in China, Alberta, and Enbridge's bank accounts won't be enough to undo the damage from a major leak near one of the thousand waterways the dual pipeline would cross, or from a supertanker spill along the B.C. coast.

B.C.'s premier should have renounced the proposal because it's focused more on tar sands, pipelines, and markets than on getting Canada's greenhouse gas emissions under control by shifting from fossil fuel dependency to a more efficient system based on conservation and renewable energy.

Prisoners speak out against Harper's omnibus crime bill

On Prisoners' Justice Day, in every jail in Canada and in prisons around the world, inmates will go on a 24-hour hunger strike.

We do this to remember Eddy Nolan who died in Millhaven Penitentiary in Ontario on August 10, 1974 as a victim of the inhumane conditions in that prison at that time. We do this to remember all of the inmates who fought and the two who died in a four-day riot in April of 1971 at Kingston Penitentiary. Both of those incidents led to major reforms in the Canadian prison system. We fast so that we ourselves remember. We strike to remind the institutions and the world that even behind bars we are still entitled to human rights and human dignity, and we can still fight for both.

Prime-time lesbians are too hot for TV

Rumours abound that American singer and occasional actress Jennifer Lopez is leaving the fold of reality television—where she’s been a judge on American Idol for the past two years—to produce and potentially star in a drama on ABC Family. The show, yet to be named (ABC says it’s still in the works), is about a married lesbian couple, their three teenaged children and—apparently—a wayward youth who takes refuge from the streets in their happy home. Needless to say, lesbians in the media are thrilled. ABC Family—or ABC Spark, as it’s called in Canada—may not be breaking new ground in LGBT visibility on the small screen (shows like Pretty Little Liars and The Secret Life of the American Teenager currently feature gay characters), but according to Trish Bendix, an editor for the lesbian pop-culture website, JLo’s foray into gay TV has come at a particularly opportune time—one that may mark the death of the “token lesbian.” Bendix notes that lesbians on TV are no longer immediately thereafter “getting pregnant, sleeping with guys, or dying.” “One or all of those things,” she says, “would happen [in the past].”

Toward on-reserve property rights for individuals

The federal Conservatives’ reported intention to introduce a bill to enable individual aboriginals living on a reserve to acquire and own land on that reserve, if the first nation in question opts in to such a regime, is a welcome step forward.

Not many native leaders are now in favour of such a change, but if a few communities were to thrive as a result of the new legislation, opinion would probably shift.

Do opponents of native property rights think things are okay now?

The Conservative government will move slowly on the question of property rights on native reserves, but it will move.

The Harper government will consult with native leaders before introducing the legislation. Manny Jules, who heads the First Nations Tax Commission, has drawn up a template for legislation, but the word in Ottawa is that a bill is not expected to arrive until 2013. Although reserve lands are under federal jurisdiction, provinces are responsible for property rights off reserve, and may be asked to pass mirror legislation. It is, in a word, complicated.

Stephen Harper tempers message on Northern Gateway pipeline

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the first time sounded a cautious note about the approval process for the highly controversial Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry oil sands-derived crude from Alberta to the British Columbia coast.

Harper’s government has been a strong supporter of the proposed pipeline and has given itself the power to make the final decision on whether the $6-billion project should go ahead regardless of the outcome of an independent environmental review process by federal regulators.

Climate change skeptic causes a stir with his about-face

A prominent climate change skeptic’s about-face on the subject is causing a stir in the world of environmental science.

In a self-proclaimed “total turnaround,” Richard A. Muller, a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, now says human greenhouse gas emissions are almost entirely to blame for global warming.

“Call me a converted skeptic,” Muller wrote in a July 28 New York Times op-ed. Three years ago, he said, he doubted whether global warming even existed. “Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct.

Peter Kent’s department discouraged media coverage of global warming summit, says memo

OTTAWA – Environment Minister Peter Kent’s department tried to minimize Canadian media coverage of its contribution to a major international scientific assessment report that highlighted evidence linking human activity to extreme weather events, according to a newly released federal memorandum obtained by Postmedia News.

The memo suggested that Environment Canada didn’t want its scientists to actively promote the assessment of “extreme events and disasters” being finalized last November in Uganda at a summit of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international partnership of governments that assesses peer-reviewed research on global warming.

Last Progressive Conservative senator laments the disappearance of her party's influence

OTTAWA — She's the last of a truly vanishing pedigree; the only survivor from what was once a dynastic political family with, at its heyday, a few hundred members in the House of Commons and Senate.

Alberta Senator Elaine McCoy — an environmentalist, human rights advocate and former Alberta provincial cabinet minister — is the one remaining federal Progressive Conservative parliamentarian in Canada.