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.]

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Jennifer Stoddart, Canada Privacy Commissioner: Complaints Skyrocket By 39 Per Cent

OTTAWA - Canada's privacy commissioner saw a big jump in the number of complaints and data breaches in federal departments and institutions last year.

Jennifer Stoddart tabled her annual report in Parliament today, including the results of a special audit of Veterans Affairs Canada, which was at the centre of a privacy scandal in 2010.

The commissioner's office accepted 986 complaints in 2011-12, an increase of 39 per cent from the previous year, and most of them were directed at Corrections Canada, National Defence, the RCMP and Veterans Affairs.

In addition, Stoddart says there were 80 data breaches involving personal information, the highest number of breaches they've catalogued in recent years, but it's unclear whether it's because of more diligent reporting — or if there was an increase in the actual number of incidents.

The commissioner also says the Canada Revenue Agency has been singled out for a special audit following reports over the last few years of privacy breaches involving employees inappropriately accessing taxpayer information.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: The Canadian Press

Affordable Housing Canada: Housing Boom, Government Cutbacks Create 'Rent Squeeze'

Rosie Da Silva feels like she has been “living on quicksand” for the past year, her future in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats with the power to uproot her on a whim.

The instability set in last fall, when in the midst of an austerity push at Toronto City Hall, Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC), Canada’s largest social housing provider, proposed selling 872 of the single-family homes it operates to help it address its daunting $751-million repair backlog. Endorsed by Mayor Rob Ford, the unprecedented idea has threatened to put on the chopping block 619 occupied houses scattered in neighbourhoods across Toronto, where prices have skyrocketed in recent years.

A demand for quality first nations education

Education is a key determinant of social and economic health and is directly linked to goals of building strong governing capacity and sustainable economies. It has been an instrument of oppression against first nations, with attempts to remove our identities, fracture our families and eliminate our languages, traditions, thinking and being. These attempts to oppress our cultures, languages and rights must end, and it starts with education.

In 2011, after 10 years of study, Canada’s Auditor-General concluded that the disparity between first nations education and the rest of Canada was real and unacceptable. A year later, we must all commit to ending denial and blame and move boldly to fundamentally transform the same old debate.

First Nations leader forges ahead with trip to Iran

Despite economic sanctions, a plummeting currency and suspended diplomatic ties with Canada, consultant and former First Nations chief Terrance Nelson vows to continue his trip to Iran next week to “touch base” with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime about resource and land development for aboriginals.

Nelson — who ran for leadership of the Assembly of First Nations earlier this year and serves as a trustee on the Roseau River first nation in Manitoba — said in an interview he plans to fly to Geneva next Monday or Tuesday to get his Iranian visa. He intends to arrive in Iran on Oct. 11 and stay for about a week, claiming to have set up five days of official meetings.

Justin Trudeau: Northern Gateway Pipeline Not A Good Idea

A pipeline proposed for the most vulnerable areas in B.C. is not a good idea, federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau said after an event in Richmond, B.C.

Trudeau swept into Western Canada on Wednesday, one day after announcing his bid for the federal Liberal leadership, with a daytime stop in Calgary, followed by an evening engagement in the Vancouver suburb.

Omar Khadr is now Canada’s problem, let’s make the right choice: Maher Arar

Omar Khadr, a name familiar to every Canadian, means different things to different people. To those who vigorously opposed his repatriation, Omar Khadr is a convicted terrorist who killed an American soldier in Afghanistan. He is also the son of a known Al Qaeda supporter, not to mention the fact that his mother and sister have openly criticized Canada and questioned its values.

To his supporters, Omar Khadr fits the typical profile of a child soldier, a point of view shared by Senator Romeo Dallaire, the former general who proudly served Canada in conflict zones including Africa, where he regularly came into contact with child soldiers. To them, Omar Khadr is also a perfect example of the “collateral damage” of the “war on terror.” All along, his supporters have cited credible reports that clearly established he was subjected to torture and various types of mistreatment, including the sleep deprivation program he was subjected to before CSIS officers interrogated him in Guantanamo.

Federal government to spend less this year than last on food safety, budget officer says

OTTAWA — The Conservative government, under fire for its response to a massive beef recall and E. coli scare, is planning to spend tens of millions of dollars less this year on food safety programs at the Agriculture Department and Canadian Food Inspection Agency than last year, indicate new numbers from Parliament’s budget watchdog.

An analysis of expected federal spending released Wednesday by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer says approved budgetary expenditures on “food safety and biosecurity risk management systems” at the Agriculture Department are 27-per-cent lower in 2012-13 compared with the previous fiscal year, while planned “food safety program” funding is about five-per-cent less at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Quebec trade activists land consultation on Canada-EU trade deal

"As you read these lines, 50 or so invitations will be arriving at the offices of civil society members, including citizens organizations, unions, corporations, researchers, journalists and opposition party members," writes Quebec's new trade minister, Jean-François Lisée, in his latest blog post. "They were invited by me and my colleague, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau, in an exercise in transparency," he continues, referring to a consultation this Friday on Quebec's place in the Canada-European Union free trade negotiations.

The blog was written on the same day that Harper's own trade minister, Ed Fast, assured journalists Quebec was on side with the CETA project, and that a deal was still possible by year's end. Pierre-Marc Johnson has been retained by the Marois government to finish what the Liberals asked him to start. The Globe and Mail reminds us that the PQ has traditionally supported free trade.

Urgent: House Speaker blocking emergency debate on the massive Arctic ice melt

Dear Friend,

I'm on the bus writing about what happened in Parliament last Friday. I still can’t get the day out of my mind. Megan Leslie, NDP MP and Deputy Leader, called for an emergency debate in Parliament on the massive and frightening rapid ice melt in the Arctic this past summer.

Megan eloquently pointed out that the Arctic ice cap is responsible for moderating the global climate, and without it we’re in a sea of trouble.

Lies our fathers told us: The men's rights movement and campus-based misogyny

I first encountered the Canadian men's rights movement directly when I was in Peterborough last November.

Some friends and associates of mine and I had driven from Toronto early one morning to attend the Policy Assembly of the Socialist Party of Ontario that was being held at Trent University. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the usual array of posters that litter the halls of any university. Among them were dozens of posters for what was a newly formed campus "Men's Issues Awareness Society."

The posters were juvenile in both presentation and content. They made a variety of claims, entirely out of context, that, simply put, attempted to make the case that not only are women no longer victims of systemic inequality, but also that the shoe is now on the other foot. It is men's issues that are being "ignored" and it is men that are now allegedly facing discrimination. This "discrimination," further, is being disregarded due to the influence of feminism in our society.

Who speaks for peace on Iran?

An international debate about whether protests against an attack on Iran should also embrace the Iranian pro-democracy movement has arrived in Toronto just in time for Saturday’s (October 6) anti-war’s rally at Queen’s Park.

After much discussion, the Toronto Stop the War Coalition has decided to stick with a simple “No war with Iran” message and will not have reps of the pro-democracy movement speak at the mic.

Rob Ford: Moron or Mastermind?

The rise and fall Of Rob Ford

His critics warned us it would be like this. They told us Rob Ford was no leader. No consensus builder. That he’d crash and burn. They were right, at least about the crash part.

But not quite two years after that improbable election win, three weeks shy of the halfway mark in a twisted first term, not even his harshest detractors could have imagined such a precipitous fall from grace. It’s been one misstep, one scandal, one abuse of office after another. Ford has certainly redefined the possible in city politics, in a manner of speaking.

Austerity War Revs Up: Peter Peterson Drops Millions On New Budget Campaign

WASHINGTON -- Billionaire private equity mogul Peter Peterson is investing millions of dollars in a new Washington-based campaign for austerity, planning to blanket the airwaves after the election to bolster the case for a "grand bargain" in Congress' lame-duck session that would slash Medicare and Social Security spending in exchange for new tax revenue.

The new Campaign to Fix the Debt is chaired by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, and former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican. It's priming for lame-duck negotiations over the expirations of the payroll tax cut and the Bush tax cuts, as well as scheduled cuts to defense and non-defense spending.

Todd Akin In 2008: Doctors Give Abortions To Women Who Aren't Pregnant

Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin sparked national outrage in August when he justified his opposition to abortion by claiming that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." However, the Republican congressman's now-infamous remarks are not the first time he's made a scientifically questionable statement on abortion.

Christy Clark Alberta Trip Mere Posturing: Columnists

Christy Clark’s Alberta field trip was all optics and little substance according to observers on both sides of the Rockies.

“She is, by a wide measure, the most inconsistent, self-contradictory and desperate politician in Canada,” wrote Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid.

Military Budget Cuts: Tories Defend Planned DND Cuts, Tout Record On Health Spending

OTTAWA - The Conservative government found itself on the defensive Wednesday on multiple fronts over impending cuts to the military.

New Democrats in the House of Commons accused the government of "going down a road of reckless cuts" by asking the military's medical system to contribute to its deficit reduction plans.

The government leader in the Senate simultaneously turned aside opposition attacks based on a study suggesting overall budget cuts at National Defence could run as deep as $2.5 billion.

As an Immigrant, I Get More Respect than Canada's Aboriginals

The upcoming 7th annual Ottawa Sisters in Spirit (SIS) vigil is a special event for me as a recent immigrant to Canada. It offers me the opportunity to reflect on what it means for my adopted country to embrace and heal me, while neglecting the perennial issue of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. The Native Women's Association of Canada estimates that more than 600 have either gone missing or been murdered since 1990.

The vigil, spearheaded by the Families of Sisters in Spirit and partners, is one the hundreds of SIS vigils happening across the country on October 4. The vigils bring together concerned Canadians and Aboriginal communities to honour the victims' lives, and support the families touched by the racialized and sexualized violence.

Robert Abdallah Was Not Favoured By Tories, Ministers Argue Despite Record Otherwise

OTTAWA - Two Conservative cabinet ministers denied Wednesday that their government ever pushed to appoint a man now accused of corruption to the Port of Montreal — a man the Prime Minister's Office once called Ottawa's "preference" for the post.

When asked why Stephen Harper's government wanted Robert Abdallah placed at the federal agency, Industry Minister Christian Paradis said: "Nobody pushed anything."

Maxime Bernier, minister of state for small business, agreed: "Our government didn't support a candidacy. It's the Port of Montreal that didn't appoint that person."

Expanding the Debate Exclusive: Third Party Candidates Break the Sound Barrier As Obama-Romney Spar

As President Obama and Mitt Romney squared off for the first time on Wednesday night, Democracy Now! broke the sound barrier by pausing Obama and Romney’s answers to get real-time responses from candidates Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. Stein and Anderson joined Democracy Now! for a live special just miles away from the Obama-Romney contest at the University of Denver. Many Obama supporters have expressed surprise that Romney was able to put the president on the defensive, while Obama failed to mention several of Romney’s potential weak spots, including including his record at the private equity firm Bain Capital, his vast personal wealth and offshore investments, and his recent remark that 47 percent of Americans are government dependents. Today, highlights from our "Expanding the Debate" special with the voices of all four candidates, showcasing the broadened perspectives on the critical issues beyond the Democratic-Republican political spectrum.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

The Commons: Gerry Ritz is away right now, please leave a message

The Scene. The leader of the opposition rose to second guess the Minister of Agriculture’s schedulers.

“Why,” he wondered, “is the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food busy doing photo ops instead of answering questions and being accountable?”

Thomas Mulcair stared down the Prime Minister as he asked the question. The Prime Minister stood and suggested the opposition parties support a bill that has been in the Senate since June.

Trudeau makes it official and Liberals riding a wave of voter interest, 30,000 outside party sign up for leadership election

PARLIAMENT HILL—With Liberal MP Justin Trudeau’s front-runner leadership bid underway, Liberals are riding a wave of voter interest in the leadership race that could further boost Mr. Trudeau’s chances of becoming the party’s choice to take on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives as well as the NDP in the next federal election.

Only hours before Mr. Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) launched his campaign in his Montreal riding by pledging his love for Canada and Quebec and declaring he is ready to serve the country for life, the federal Liberal Party emailed its members with news that an effort to draw voting-age Canadians who are not Liberals to take part in the leadership election attracted more than 5,000 new signups over the past month, virtually all of whom are younger voters with whom Mr. Trudeau has been identified since he arrived in Parliament four years ago. The party announced it had 30,000 supporters on Tuesday.

Turkey fires at Syria in retaliation for deadly strike in border town

Turkey has fired several artillery rounds at targets inside Syria in a marked escalation of the 18-month conflict that is spilling over the Syrian borders. The Turkish assault was launched Wednesday just hours after shells, believed to have been fired by Syrian military forces, struck a Turkish border town killing five, including a woman and her three children.

“Our armed forces in the border region immediately returned fire within rules of engagement, with artillery units hitting targets detected by radar inside Syria,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said in a statement. “Turkey will never let such provocations by the regime in Syria go unanswered.”

Bill could exile ‘thousands’ of permanent residents for minor crimes

Under a proposed new law, thousands of permanent residents could lose their status and be deported for minor convictions, from shoplifting to traffic and drug offences, warn Canada’s top immigration lawyers.

“These are young children brought to Canada at a young age as permanent residents, raised and schooled in Canada . . . (but) never took out citizenship,” lawyer Guidy Mamann told a news conference Thursday.

“It is unconscionable that a country like Canada, which has always allowed for second chances, to now embark on a new ‘one strike you’re out’ approach.”