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.]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Alberta Government's Proposal For Energy Companies Negotiating Benefits With Aboriginal Bands Could Make Agreements Harder

EDMONTON - An Alberta government proposal to regulate how energy companies negotiate benefits agreements with aboriginal bands could make it harder to work such deals out, says a lawyer whose firm assists in such talks.

A discussion paper, released by the government last week, suggests that a levy should be applied industry-wide to help bands pay for the work involved in setting up such deals.

It also suggests reversing current practice by recommending that all such deals be made public. That could deter companies from entering into them at all, said Neil Reddekopp.

Harassment in RCMP fostered by male-dominance and paramilitary culture: Paulson

OTTAWA – The male-dominated, paramilitary culture within the RCMP helped create an environment within the force in which sexual harassment became a conceivable and not-uncommon occurrence, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said in an exclusive interview Sunday.

“I think we’ve struggled,” he said during an appearance on the Global News program The West Block with Tom Clark. “We haven’t kept up-to-date with society, and it’s caught up to us.”

As Paulson was taking the reins of the Mounties almost one year ago, a sexual harassment scandal within the national police force began unfolding, adding fuel to the fire that was already beating up the force’s reputation.

Politicians can’t trample on democratic process without hurting themselves

In 2003, then-Ontario premier Ernie Eves made the politically disastrous decision to unveil his government’s annual budget, not in the provincial legislature, but in an auto-parts plant in Brampton.

On the day of the so-called Magna budget, the choice of venue seemed pointless and weird – just another odd decision by an eccentric leader. But it soon morphed into more than that: a symbol of everything that had gone wrong with democracy in Ontario during the Mike Harris era, which Eves had inherited. In October of that year the Eves Conservatives suffered a landslide loss to one Dalton McGuinty, who promised civility, decency and a breath of fresh air.

Semblance of normalcy disguises democratic rot in Ottawa

Is Canadian democracy sick? Anyone who watches Question Period daily would have to say it is. Democracy is on the canvas, laid low by the one-two punch of abusive prorogations and omnibus bills. The cretinous din of what passes for debate today in the House of Commons is a constant reminder that this is so.  (There are exceptions: more on that later).

Can the problems be fixed? Again, the consensus is yes. There’s no shortage of proposed remedies, geared to restoring Canadian Westminster-style democracy, or even improving it beyond what the fathers of Confederation imagined. Some are complex: Others are straightforward, and could be inserted into any party’s policy kit.

Kenney Taking Heat Over Gaelic Language Comments

Gaelic speaking Nova Scotians are not happy with federal minister Jason Kenney.

Kenney has weighed in on the merits of the language and the government's role in preserving it. Kenney said federal government money should not be used to promote languages that are fighting for survival.

Museum Of History Timeline Draws Fire Before Feedback Tour

The Museum of Civilization wants the public to weigh in on what a history museum should contain, but the website it created to collect feedback is raising some eyebrows.

The museum is getting ready to change its name, and plans to present history more in terms of milestones than as vignettes of culture through time.

Museum staff are heading out on a nine-city tour to set up kiosks in libraries and malls, and to hold roundtables.

Newt Gingrich On Mourdock Rape Comments: Why Can't People 'Get Over It?'

WASHINGTON -- Those who are expressing concern about Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's controversial comments about rape and pregnancy should "get over it," Newt Gingrich said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen," Mourdock said last week, explaining why he opposed abortions for rape victims.

Gingrich noted that Mourdock later clarified he had been referring to conception as an act of God, not the rape that led to it, though of course the conception and the sexual attack are inextricably linked.

"He also immediately issued a clarification saying he was referring to the act of conception, and he condemned rape," Gingrich said. "[Mitt] Romney has condemned -- I mean, one part of this is nonsense. Every candidate I know, every decent American I know condemns rape. OK, so why can't people like Stephanie Cutter get over it? We all condemn rape."

Gingrich was referring to the Obama adviser who was also appearing on "This Week," and who earlier in the segment had referenced Mourdock's comments.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: Ryan Grim

Wen Jiabao Wealth Reports Denied By Family Lawyers

BEIJING -- Lawyers have denied a report that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's family has amassed $2.7 billion in "hidden riches," a Hong Kong newspaper said Sunday.

The New York Times said in a lengthy article Friday that most of the alleged wealth was accumulated by Wen's relatives after he rose to high office in 2002.

Richard Mourdock, Mitt Romney and the GOP Defense of Coerced Mating

Mitt Romney and Richard Mourdock are doubtless both hoping we're nearing the end of the news cycle in which the Indiana U.S. Senate candidate's remarks that pregnancies from rape are "something that God intended to happen" exploded into the national conversation. But if Democrats have any say in the matter, that won't be the case, as the president and his campaign have highlighted the remarks repeatedly in an attempt to create a wedge issue for women voters 11 days before an election that could be decided by the size of the gender gap.

Fugitive Businessman With Tory Ties Arrested In Toronto

Fugitive Nathan Jacobson, whose ties to the federal Conservatives made him the subject of recent Question Period queries from opposition benches, was arrested at his home in Toronto Thursday afternoon.

The Winnipeg-born businessman had his bail denied in Toronto court Friday and remains in Toronto's West Detention Centre awaiting another appearance Oct. 31.

EI Protesters feel the Conservatives are abandoning Islanders

SUMMERSIDE — Close to 200 Islanders, many waiving placards and chanting “Stephen Harper has got to go”, converged on National Revenue Minister Gail Shea’s Summerside constituency office Saturday afternoon to rally against changes to employment insurance.

They travelled from all corners of the province, many boarding one of the two buses organized to help get concerned Islanders to the rally. Also attending was federal Liberal Party interim leader Bob Rae, whoflew in for the event, representatives from the various unions in the province and those from labour fishing farming and tourism organizations, all who said changes to EI would be a hardship for Islanders and negatively impact this province’s seasonal economy.

CAW members on strike at Whitby, Ontario Lear plant

WHITBY, Ont. - Workers at Lear Whitby have gone on strike.

The 400 workers, members of the Canadian Auto Workers union, set up picket lines at midnight after contract talks collapsed late Saturday night.

The two sides remain far apart over what the union says are Lear's demands for deep concessions at a time when the company is making significant profits.

Last week the workers voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike to back their demands.

Lear Whitby manufactures seats for vehicles produced at General Motors in Oshawa and there were fears a strike could have a major impact on GM operations in the city.

The Lear strike comes on the heels of another strike at auto parts company Wescast, in Strathroy Ontario which began Saturday morning.

The Wescast strike resulted from a decision by General Motors which would see the current work performed at the facility go to China.

Original Article
Source: winnipeg free press
Author: CP

Don’t look to provincial politics for a change from Harper’s vision

VANCOUVER—Connect the dots between the defeated Jean Charest, the departing Dalton McGuinty and the embattled Christy Clark and what you get are three parties whose political capital has been severely depleted by a decade in power.

The symptoms may be specific to each province but the illness that is plaguing the governance of Ontario and British Columbia this fall is not fundamentally different from that which recently claimed the life of Quebec’s three-term Liberal government. And the prognosis for both ailing ruling parties is not promising.

5 things to know about the Canada-China investment treaty

The federal government has come under heavy scrutiny from opposition parties and critics alike after Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed an investment treaty with China, formally known as a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), while at the APEC Summit in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept.9, 2012.

While details of the agreement were kept secret until the deal was tabled in Parliament on Sept. 26., now that the details have been revealed, the deal itself does not have to be debated in Parliament.

Former Competition Bureau cop says Canadian petroleum companies monopolize markets and put price fix to our pumps

John Grant worked for the federal Competition Bureau for 25 years. He was an investigator. A competition cop.

He worked a lot of cases — fraud, direct marketing, telemarketing — although he specialized in petroleum investigations.

His work took him to the Maritimes, southern Ontario and Ottawa, where he worked a case the 1990s that I was involved in, although, I never met him at the time.

Moving trials along an ongoing struggle, top judge concedes Read more:

Canada’s top judge has acknowledged that the nation’s justice system can be perceived as “too slow and too expensive,” particularly for ordinary citizens trying to resolve civil disputes.

In an interview broadcast on CTV’s Question Period Sunday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said expediting trials while still following proper procedure is an ongoing difficulty.

Berlusconi’s centre-right bloc may stop supporting Monti government

ROME—Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Saturday his centre-right bloc may withdraw its support from the government of Mario Monti, a move that could throw Italy into political chaos ahead of next April’s national elections.

“We have to recognize the fact that the initiative of this government is a continuation of a spiral of recession for our economy,” Berlusconi told a news conference in northern Italy a day after he was convicted and sentenced to four years for tax fraud related to his Mediaset media empire.

2012 House Races: Spending By Outside Groups Rocks Many Candidates

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Dan Lungren knows what it's like to have a big bull's eye plastered on his back.

The Democratic Party and labor and environmental groups have spent $4.7 million on TV commercials and other efforts to unseat the nine-term Republican congressman from California. That makes him one of the biggest targets of outside groups, which are throwing unprecedented sums of money into House races this year.

"I don't recognize the person they're portraying," Lungren said about the ads that paint him as an ally of Wall Street and enemy of Medicare and abortion rights. He added, "Yeah, these ads have a considerable impact."

Prorogation may look like prologue come the new year

Why did he do it? How did Dalton McGuinty get away with his October surprise, no questions asked?

Two weeks after the premier pressed the prorogation button, winding down the legislature without warning, he is learning the same painful lesson that Stephen Harper learned in 2008: Canadians care about constitutional arcana and democratic tradition.

U.S. election: Romney held in disdain in his home state

BOSTON—Abandoned. Used and abused. Thrown under the bus. Stomped upon for political convenience, then left behind like worthless electoral baggage.

That’s what you hear when you ask Massachusetts about former governor Mitt Romney.

And the contempt isn’t just palpable in the state that knows him best; it’s more like an alternate-universe episode of Cheers — where everybody knows his name. And they’re never glad he came.

Chip-enhanced passports will be pricey

OTTAWA — Canada’s passports are being updated to include chip technology and watermark images designed to prevent fraud, but are also going to cost a lot more.

The new passports will have computer chips embedded — technology that’s already used in almost 100 other countries, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Friday.

Each blank page of the document will also contain watermarks depicting iconic images from Canadian history.

Smith seeks to mirror Reform's path

It's no secret Danielle Smith regards the Reform party as the model for her Wildrose Party, often invoking Preston Manning's message of fiscal restraint and decentralized government as she too looks to displace a Progressive Conservative government.

Now, Tom Flanagan - the academic who worked as an aide to both Manning and Stephen Harper and served as Wildrose's campaign manager this spring - says it's time for Wildrose to follow the same path Reform took as it morphed into the Canadian Alliance and then the federal Conservative Party.

Cancellation of long-form census taking toll on Statistics Canada data

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cancellation of the long-form census has started to take a toll on Statistics Canada's data.

The agency released its final tranche of the 2011 census last week, focusing on languages, but it included a big warning that cautions data users about comparing key facts against censuses of the past.

"Data users are advised to exercise caution when evaluating trends related to mother tongue and home language that compare 2011 census data to those of previous censuses," Statistics Canada states bluntly in a box included in its census material.

Publicity Could Hurt Miner Recruitment Fees Probe: Bell

British Columbia’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills and Training says the investigation into how Chinese coal miners are hired could be hampered by the publicity and politics surrounding the issue.

Last week a Tyee article revealed a recruitment company claiming to be based in B.C. was offering Chinese coal miners a chance to work in Canada in exchange for $12,500 in fees.

Pat Bell said the attention the media has given the recruiter story as well as other details about the project could be a problem for investigators.