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, October 03, 2012

Ottawa would commit 'treason' by approving Nexen takeover: NDP's Pat Martin

OTTAWA - The Conservative government will commit treason if it approves a $15.1-billion bid by China’s CNOOC Ltd to buy Calgary-based Nexen Inc., NDP critic Pat Martin said on Tuesday.

Martin was speaking during debate in the House of Commons on a motion by the NDP demanding that the government hold public consultations before deciding whether to approve the deal.

Prime Minister Harper should keep gender balance in mind for the Supreme Court

In Supreme Court nominee Richard Wagner of Quebec, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to have chosen what in hockey terms is known as a “role player” – someone with a particular skill the team needs. His expertise is in corporate-commercial law, and his nomination fills a gap in the court’s skill set created when Ian Binnie retired last October. His constitutional writings are scant.

The Prime Minister may have felt that the court’s need was so pressing it obliged him to overlook qualified female candidates, such as Madam Justice Marie-France Bich, and Madam Justice France Thibault, both of the Quebec Court of Appeal. Judge Bich has been on the province’s highest court since 2004, and Judge Thibault since 1998. Mr. Justice Wagner, 55, has been on the appeal court only since February of last year.

Despite Tory carping, Canadians value the United Nations

Two years ago Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives cared enough about the United Nations to lobby for a Security Council seat. Now, after being jilted, they seem to be in a cranky funk.

Unlike U.S. President Barack Obama, who spoke eloquently on freedom of speech to this year’s General Assembly, Harper couldn’t be bothered to attend. He was in New York last week, but only to accept a “world statesman” award as he turned his back on most of it.

John Baird doesn’t even understand the UN

John Baird demonstrated Monday that he doesn’t understand what the United Nations is, how it operates, his own allies’ efforts to improve it or its potential for helping his government achieve its goals.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister chided the world organization for failing to impose mandatory sanctions against Syria. “Many people of the world, including many of the citizens we represent, cannot understand why this organization – despite the sound and fury of debate in this great assembly – has been unable to make concrete steps,” he said.

Military planned to cut health services, documents show

The former head of the Canadian Forces health group had to fight tooth and nail last spring to prevent the service from being carved up by "profound" cuts in the Harper government's deficit reduction drive, newly released documents show.

A series of internal emails, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws, show Commodore Hans Jung was so alarmed by the planned reductions that he went around his immediate superior and appealed directly to the vice chief of defence staff to reconsider eliminating a series of jobs and programs.

‘Free-trade deniers’ threatening Canada’s economic future: Fast

Canada’s economic future is being threatened by “free-trade deniers” whose vision for the country is “timid and inward-looking,” Canada’s International Trade Minister said in provocative remarks Wednesday.

“I wish I could tell you that everything looks rosy,” Ed Fast, federal Minister of International Trade, told a Toronto audience. “Unfortunately, there are still some activists that slavishly oppose our efforts to open up new markets for Canadian entrepreneurs ... these activists are Canada’s great free-trade deniers.”

Iceland’s Economy now growing faster than the U.S. and EU after arresting corrupt bankers

Iceland didn’t follow the rest of the world by bailing out bankers. Surprisingly, they arrested them instead. Now their economy is recovering faster than the EU and the United States.

Remember when the United States government told the American people that action was required to save the banks? Action in the form of Billions of dollars of debt. Hard to forget that. Hundreds of Billions of dollars in National debt later were still digging our way out of the hole.

At the start of the world wide 2008 economic collapse, Iceland was in worse shape than almost any other country in the world.

Imagine what America would be like today if we bailed out the victims of poor banking practices, while punishing the bankers who were responsible instead of bailing them out.

After watching this video tell us what you think? Is Iceland merely being a rebel desperate for revenge against a powerful industry, or on to something that America should have done as well?

Original Article
Source: american live wire

Indonesia Strike: Millions Of Factory Workers Walk Off The Job In Protest

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian unions say more than 2 million factory workers have gone on a one-day strike across the country to call for higher wages and protest the hiring of contract workers.

National police spokesman Col. Agus Rianto says hundreds of thousands of laborers from more than 700 companies at 80 industrial estates took to the streets in protest Wednesday.

Yoris Raweyai, chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers' Union, says workers want the government to revise a law allowing companies to hire temporary workers on one-year contracts without benefits.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court ruled in January that the hiring practice is unconstitutional and violates workers' rights.

About 23,000 workers planned to march in the capital, Jakarta, on Wednesday afternoon, and some 15,000 police were expected to be deployed to safeguard the rally.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: AP

Centerra Gold Mine Protest In Kyrgyzstan Draws Hundreds

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Protesters clashed with police and tried to break into a building housing the parliament and government offices in Kyrgyzstan's capital Wednesday, during a rally to demand the resignation of the prime minister and other top officials over a controversial mine.

Police officers protecting the government building, known as the White House, used dogs and smoke bombs to disperse a group of young men who attempted to scale the gates.

U.K.-Canada embassy deal kicks off worldwide flag race

The public backlash over a British-Canadian plan to share embassy buildings has had an odd side effect: a rush to fly the flag.

Diplomats and officials are scurrying to ship flagpoles to far-flung embassies – despite massive costs for some regions – so that neither country gets caught with its flag down again.

The new flag race began 10 days ago, when British Foreign Secretary William Hague flew into Ottawa for a meeting with Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and ran into a burst of controversy over an agreement to share buildings for embassies in the future.

Emission guidelines need 'regulatory flexibility'

An influential think-tank wants Ottawa to adopt a "regulatory flexibility" that incorporates elements of a cap-and-trade system when it drafts much-anticipated emissions regulations for the oil and gas industry.

In a report released today, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a non-partisan Canadian think-tank, points out that this system is already being used in the government’s light-duty and heavy-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emissions regulations released over the past two years.

: Conservative backbench has lost its fear of Stephen Harper

Is there a common thread running between Rob Anders’ wild-eyed musings about how Tom Mulcair hastened Jack Layton’s death and last week’s abortion vote, in which a majority of Conservative MPs voted for a motion their leader had urged them to oppose?

I’d argue yes – the trained seals on the backbench are biting back and we are likely to see more unsanctioned behaviour in future, as MPs relish their new-found freedom.

So what the Sam Hill is going on with the party that brought you Canada’s first Orwellian government?

CLASSE interview: The victory in Quebec belongs to the movement, not to the PQ

Members of CLASSE are speaking in cities across Canada this week, on a 'Maple Tour' sponsored by and other organizations. Full details for this speaking tour are available here

Students in Quebec, whose strike shut down the province's higher education system for the first half of this year, celebrated the achievement of their top goals last month when the new Parti Québécois (PQ) government announced it was rescinding a planned tuition hike and repealing most of the repressive Law 12 aimed at restricting the right to protest.

Staying Human: A Canadian reports from the Swedish Ship to Gaza in La Spezia

The Swedish three-masted schooner Estelle arrived in the Italian port of La Spezia on Thursday afternoon, and on Saturday supporters from all over northern Italian came to wish her well on her voyage to Gaza, and fill her sails with the powerful winds of solidarity.

There were greetings from the Mayor of La Spezia as well as from other municipal and regional authorities, including the mayor of Bulciago (a town near Milan), mother of legendary International Solidarity Movement activist Vittorio (Vik) Arrigoni, who was killed last year in Gaza. Next to a banner that reads "With Vittorio for a free Palestine" Egidia Beretta presented the Estelle with an image of her son.

Time to call out the media for uncritically reprinting 'Fraser Facts'

Claims by the market-fundamentalist Fraser Institute widely rebroadcast by mainstream media that private health insurance in the United States costs less than the Canadian taxes required to support public health care are false and omit important data that would have dramatically changed the calculation.

The news story published across Canada on Sept. 20 without balance or reaction also fudges facts, such as the typical Canadian family's size and income, to come up with a misleadingly high estimate of more than $11,000 for what Canadian families pay each year in taxes for public health care.

Of course, as CUPE economist Toby Sanger observed in an excellent Sept. 25 post on the Progressive Economics Forum, "this is all completely false, as anyone who actually takes the time to read the seven-page report and do some very basic on-line research can easily find."

Toronto’s Mayor Ford rejects road tolls, increasing taxes to fund transit

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford won’t say how the city will fund transit expansion, rejecting out of hand many of the revenue-raising options proposed by a senior bureaucrat.

In a radio interview Wednesday morning, the mayor, who ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism, was asked about options presented this week by City Manager Joe Pennachetti. He specifically dismissed road tolls or increases to income, sales, property or fuel taxes.

Students lengthen walkout to two days

About 35 students at Winona Drive Senior Public School refused to attend class for two days — longer than most student rallies — to oppose the fact their teachers have stopped coaching sports to protest the province’s unpopular wage freeze law that curbs teachers’ bargaining rights.

While most were expected to return to class Wednesday, “we’re hoping to try to do something more organized next week to show we don’t like being kids caught in the middle,” said Talia Duarte, 13, a Grade 8 student at the school near St. Clair Ave. and Oakwood Ave. Friend Sarah Kuburi, 12, said “we should get our extracurriculars back if other schools still have them.”

Ontario immigration strategy calls for more power to pick newcomers

Ontario needs to attract at least 135,000 newcomers a year, raise the ratio of skilled workers and take charge of immigrant selection to keep its economic engine running beyond 2014, says a government-appointed panel.

The findings of the expert panel will be presented to provincial Immigration Minister Charles Sousa on Wednesday, seven months after it was appointed to tackle declining immigration to the province, skill shortages and the falling economic performance of newcomers.

Baird lectures largely empty UN General Assembly hall

After what Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders described as the failure of prime minister Stephen Harper’s “two-year, multibillion-dollar, all-hands-on-deck bid” for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, Harper’s foreign minister John Baird lectured a largely-empty UN General Assembly hall yesterday saying, “The United Nations must spend less time looking at itself, and more time focused on the problems that demand its attention. …You measure results by measuring the results. Not by weighing best efforts. Not by counting good intentions. Not by calculating inputs.”

Sounding like a shopper dissatisfied with a purchase, Baird reminded the General Assembly that Canada is the 7th largest contributor to the UN budget.

The Harper government - which abstained at the historic UN General Assembly vote on the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation and which only belatedly signed on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - will have its human rights record evaluated through the UN’s ‘Universal Periodic Review’ process taking place April 22 to May 3 in Geneva.

Original Article
Author: Brent Patterson

Paul Krugman: Plan To Avoid Fiscal Cliff A 'Betrayal To The Electorate'

President Obama is leading Mitt Romney in the polls, but even if he wins in November, he’ll soon face another daunting problem: The fiscal cliff.

To avoid the series of tax hikes and spending cuts that are set to take effect in the new year, Congress will need to agree on a plan shortly after the elections and the one they may favor could put President Obama in a tight spot, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

Paul Ryan: 30 Percent 'Want Welfare State,' 70 Percent 'Want The American Dream'

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, share a similarly dim view of a very large portion of Americans, according to previously unreported remarks by Ryan. Both believe that many of their fellow citizens are dependent on government and have no motivation to improve their lives -- but they disagree over the precise number.

Romney's estimate, famously, is 47 percent. For Ryan, it's 30 percent.

"Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want the welfare state," Ryan said. "Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers." (It's not definitively clear whether Ryan said "the welfare state" or "their welfare state." HuffPost originally transcribed it as "their welfare state." Regardless, the comment was made in reference to people on government assistance.)

Target Canada Hiring: 'Welcome To Amazing' Training Script Leaked On Gossip Site

Target Canada has started hiring for the first of its new stores set to open in the spring of 2013, but those thinking of applying for a job may want to take a look at what appear to be Target employee training materials obtained by Gawker.

According to a Target insider who leaked the documents to Gawker, the discount retail chain is running a training seminar called “Welcome to Amazing” (which Gawker describes as “hilariously childish”) that will teach employees to give customers a particularly satisfying in-store experience.

Montreal Mayor Criticized Amid Funding Allegations

Stunning allegations at the Charbonneau commission have stirred up a wave of criticism for Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, this time from his fellow mayor in Quebec City.

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said he doesn't see how Gérald Tremblay can continue to run the city while he's being swarmed with allegations of corruption made at the Charbonneau commission.

XL Foods Recall: E. Coli Results In Biggest Beef Recall In Canadian History

The recall plaguing Alberta's XL Foods, and that has been tied to E. coli cases in the province, is now the biggest beef recall in Canadian history.

The fourth recall in as many days on Tuesday is taking the breadth and scale of the Alberta beef recall to even higher levels.

Clement Says Cnooc-Nexen Public Hearings Would Be Illegal

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) --The government would be breaking the law by yielding to pressure from the opposition New Democratic Party to hold public hearings into Cnooc Ltd. (883)’s takeover of Nexen Inc. (NXY), Treasury Board President Tony Clement said.

The NDP, the biggest opposition party in the country’s legislature, introduced a motion yesterday calling on the government to hold public hearings “into the issue of foreign ownership in the Canadian energy sector with particular reference to the impact of state-owned enterprises.”

Beijing-based Cnooc has offered to acquire Nexen, a Calgary-based oil and gas producer, for $15.1 billion. The government is reviewing the proposal under the country’s foreign-takeover law, known as the Investment Canada Act.

“Basically they’re calling on the government of Canada to break the law,” Clement said in an interview today after giving a speech in Ottawa. “The law is very clear. Under the Investment Canada Act, there is a legal process that if you diverge from that process in any way, you are going to be subject to legal consequences.”

The motion is scheduled to be debated today and voted on tomorrow.

Original Article
Source: bloomberg
Author: Andrew Mayeda

Public opinion 'crystallizing' against Nexen deal, NDP says

The NDP urged the federal government on Tuesday not to rubber-stamp a bid by China’s CNOOC Ltd. to buy oil company Nexen Inc. without public consultations, saying opinion had hardened against the deal.

Peter Julian, the energy critic for the party, which forms the official opposition in the House of Commons, said the party had not yet formally decided whether to oppose the $15.1-billion (U.S.) takeover bid even though its leader, Thomas Mulcair, said last month he had “grave concerns” about it.

Issues Poll Hints At Motivation For Conservative Policies

Canadians want better health care and more jobs. These are the findings of a new poll of Canadians’ priorities, but in addition to these usual top issues the survey shows some interesting perspectives on the problems facing the country.

Unsurprisingly, 95 per cent of Canadians said "improving the quality of our health care system" was a top or moderate priority in the Ipsos-Reid poll for Postmedia News taken at the end of September. Also unshocking was the 94 per cent who said the same about "creating jobs," though interestingly residents of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were less likely to call this a top priority, undoubtedly due to their buzzing economies.

Court tosses fines against environmentalists

OTTAWA – An Ontario court has tossed out fines issued to a group of 13 environmentalists who were detained by the RCMP during a peaceful protest on Parliament Hill in September 2011 when they challenged the federal government’s climate change policies.

One member of the group, Graham Saul, 41, welcomed the provincial court decision by Justice Paulina Brecher on Tuesday, saying it protected their “right and responsibility” to protest “the reckless climate change and energy policies of the Harper government.”

B.C. could withhold electricity from proposed pipelines, Premier suggests

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has issued a veiled threat to withhold electricity needed to operate controversial oil sands pipelines if the projects do not meet her demands.

Ms. Clark, when asked Tuesday what steps her province could take to block projects like Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway, went beyond pointing to the 60 regulatory permits B.C. could deny.

Alison Redford ordered in $24 coffee on taxpayers’ dime, and other revelations from her expense reports

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Alison Redford has released copies of all her travel, hosting and meal expenses from the nearly five years she has served in government.

The receipts and expense forms date from the time when she first became an MLA in March 2008, through her four years as justice minister and the past year as premier.

A quick analysis of the receipts offers a glimpse into the daily life of a top-level politician. They show a mix of relatively inexpensive meals along with a handful of much more costly bills, particularly when Redford has travelled on government business.

Council of Canadians urges premiers to insist on a national pharmacare plan

Canada's health ministers met in Halifax September 27-28 to discuss the 2014 health accord, the recommendations coming out of the Council of the Federations' Innovation working group, and how to work together to improve health care without leadership from the federal government.

In July, the premiers announced that provinces would begin work on bulk purchasing two to three generic drugs. The advantage with bulk purchasing is that provinces and territories can often get a better deal with pharmaceutical manufacturers the more they buy. Currently, provinces and territories negotiate one-on-one with pharmaceutical companies and due to a non-disclosure clause they're often unaware of what the other provinces or territories paid for the same drug from the same manufacturer. Less populous provinces or territories are likely to purchase less of any drug and therefore they pay a higher price per pill.

A few kind words for corporate tax cuts

Note To Economists: calling your latest research paper “A Canadian good news story” may not be the surest way to attract attention; in fact it sounds uncomfortably similar to “A worthwhile Canadian initiative”—once declared the world’s most boring headline.

And yet the report in question, released earlier this month by renowned Canadian tax expert Jack Mintz and co-author Duanjie Chen and published by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, ought to be required reading for all politicians. Especially those for whom the notion that corporations aren’t paying their “fair share” has particular appeal.

City reaps windfall from sale of its stake in energy corporation

The city of Toronto has reaped a larger-than-expected windfall from the sale of its stake in Enwave Energy Corporation, the deep-lake water cooling company.

Brookfield Asset Management, which has agreed to buy all of Enwave, will pay the municipality $168-million for its 43-per cent stake, about $100-million more than the city’s investment in the company.

Canada’s shrinking aerospace horizon

Gilles Labbé had a dream to create a diversified aerospace powerhouse.

The head of Héroux-Devtek Inc. spent decades building the Montreal company into a thriving maker of aircraft landing gear, airframes and industrial turbines with an ambitious growth strategy.

But in a strategic about-face in July, the company announced a plan to focus on its landing-gear business and sell most assets in its other divisions. Mr. Labbé said the board, fed up with the company’s languishing stock price, decided to sell non-core assets in a bid to boost shareholder value as a “pure play.”