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.]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Government survey suggests Canadian hearts hardening towards immigrants

OTTAWA - Canadian hearts are hardening slightly towards the country's immigrants, particularly when it comes to their impact on the economy, an internal government survey suggests.

The latest results of the Citizenship and Immigration tracking survey — conducted every year since 1996 to gauge public opinion on immigration — suggest that national attitudes towards both the number and the value of Canadian immigrants are shifting.

Budget watchdog seeks opinion in showdown with government

Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, is waiting for a legal opinion about the authority of his office's mandate before he takes any action against government departments that have failed to disclose how they will implement the 2012 budget cuts.

Last week, several cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, said Page was exceeding his mandate, and one government MP even suggested that Page could simply get the information he was seeking by going online, as any Canadian can. Last week Page announced that he would take recalcitrant departments to Federal Court to attempt to obtain the information.

Proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion faces opposition in Kamloops, B.C.

The "No Pipelines No Tankers Solidarity Tour" made its stop in Kamloops last Wednesday evening, and local issues relating to the Trans Mountain pipeline were raised.

Five speakers greeted a packed auditorium.

"Who's opposed to pipelines?" asked the MC. Almost every hand in the room went up.

Multiplying mistakes: Tallying the economic costs of austerity

In 1936, the British economist John Maynard Keynes published his celebrated General Theory, a book that provided a scientific basis for understanding the Great Depression, the worldwide slump lasting from 1929 until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Only recently has the International Monetary Fund realized his research insights apply to today's world economic mess centred in a stagnating Europe, and a slow growth U.S. The IMF rediscovery of Keynes has not yet registered with the Harper government, which continues to mislead Canadians about what to do about the sluggish economy.

Keynes showed that spending -- what he called effective demand -- was the driving force creating employment. When consumers slowed spending, business stopped investing. As a result, government revenues plunged, and deficits appeared.

We Are All from New Orleans Now: Climate Change, Hurricanes and the Fate of America's Coastal Cities

The presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, but climate change has decided to speak to them. And what is a thousand-mile-wide storm pushing eleven feet of water toward our country’s biggest population center saying just days before the election? It is this: we are all from New Orleans now. Climate change—through the measurable rise of sea levels and a documented increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms—has made 100 million Americans virtually as vulnerable to catastrophe as the victims of Hurricane Katrina were seven years ago.

The Government Secretly Spied On You? Prove It!

On Monday, as Hurricane Sandy shut down most of the rest of the federal government, the black-robed justices of the Supreme Court gathered to hear a case that embodies the post-9/11 paradox: Can the government violate your rights as long as it does so in secret?

In 2008, Congress, with the support of then-Sen. Barack Obama, passed a bill called the FISA Amendments Act that retroactively legalized the Bush administration's warrantless spying program. Ever since, a coalition of civil libertarians and human rights activists—including Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, attorneys for Guantanamo Bay detainees, and journalists—have been seeking to challenge the program as unconstitutional.

NASA Warned New York About Hurricane Danger Six Years Ago

In 2007, I published a book called Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming. It was inspired by what my family had been through in Hurricane Katrina (I'm from New Orleans), but at the end, I looked forward to what other families and other cities might have to experience—if we don't start to think in a much broader way about our society's stunning vulnerability to hurricane disasters.

Canadian Conference Of The Arts Fails To Survive Government Cuts

OTTAWA - A cultural group founded by artists including Group of Seven member Lawren Harris is suspending operations after 67 years, a victim of federal spending cuts.

The Canadian Conference of the Arts, the largest national alliance of the arts, culture and heritage sector, says it will start winding down its work immediately.

The group was warned 18 months ago that the Harper government intended to end 47 years of funding.

China-Canada Trade Deal Under Opposition Fire

OTTAWA - An investment treaty with China that would turn Canada into a "resource colony" is about to be ratified despite almost no parliamentary debate, opposition critics charge.

Bolstered by more than 60,000 signatures on petitions and a finely targeted letter-writing campaign led by activists, the opposition NDP, Liberals and Green party Leader Elizabeth May are opening a last-minute push for a fuller debate on the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China.

Food bank use in Canada remains well above 2008 recession levels: report

OTTAWA - The number of Canadians depending on charity for food continues to grow, a new study being released today has found.

More than 882,000 Canadians used a food bank in March 2012, up 2.4 per cent from last year, says the annual study by Food Banks Canada.

The number of people using meal programs — where meals are prepared and served —also jumped 23 per cent from last year, the study found. It says food bank usage is up 31 per cent since the start of the 2008 recession.

Report that explosives found in wreckage of crash that killed Poland’s president untrue, say prosecutors

WARSAW, POLAND—Polish military prosecutors on Tuesday denied a newspaper report that said investigators had found traces of explosives in the 2010 plane crash in Russia which killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others.

Ireneusz Szelag, a spokesman for military prosecutors, said experts who examined the wreckage in recent weeks in Russia detected no explosives on plane parts or at the site of the crash. He said, however, that some chemical substances were found on parts of the wreckage that will be submitted for laboratory tests. It will take months to name those substances, he said.

New Windsor-Detroit bridge threatens endangered species

Earlier this month, the Harper government announced in its
latest omnibus bill it will exempt the new Windsor-Detroit bridge
 from major Canadian environmental laws.  
Canada's public works department said the construction of a new international border crossing in Windsor, Ont., poses a threat to two endangered plants.

The department said it's launching an effort to relocate the species before construction of the Detroit River International Crossing in west Windsor ramps up next summer.

It said at least 277 Dense Blazing Star plants and 180 Willow Leaf Aster ramets will be moved between November 2012 and May 2013.

Investment deal with China would leave Canada a resource colony: opponents

OTTAWA - An investment treaty with China that would turn Canada into a "resource colony" is about to be ratified despite almost no parliamentary debate, opposition critics charge.

Bolstered by more than 60,000 signatures on petitions and a finely targeted letter-writing campaign led by activists, the opposition NDP, Liberals and Green party Leader Elizabeth May are opening a last-minute push for a fuller debate on the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China.

Ford’s dumb mistakes make Mayor Olivia Chow more likely

There’s a new poll out, showing that Rob Ford would lose in a hypothetical election campaign against NDP MP Olivia Chow. Chow, who was a Toronto city councillor for years alongside her late husband, Jack Layton, hasn’t committed to running, but has of late left the door to a potential run increasingly open. The poll is consistent with others that have shown Ford with a core group of supporters that would give him an excellent chance of being re-elected in a three-way race, but trouble if running against only one (presumably left-leaning) challenger. Ford’s approval rating is still hovering in the low-to-mid 40s, where it’s largely stayed since he took office two years ago. But as much as 10% of the city, while approving of the job he’s doing, would shift their votes to someone else, like Chow.

Hurricane Sandy Blamed On Gays, Obama And Romney By Preacher John McTernan

The Eastern seaboard may have yet to experience the full wrath of Hurricane Sandy, but one right-wing Christian preacher is already pointing the finger at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

In a wordy and occasionally rambling blog on his website, chaplain John McTernan seems to link Hurricane Sandy (and a number of other recent weather-related trends and natural disasters) on LGBT people and President Barack Obama's recent backing of marriage equality. While most of McTernan's wrath is directed at Obama, he has some choice words for GOP candidate Mitt Romney, too.

John Baird’s guide to polite conversation

The Scene. In the 15 minutes before Question Period, John Weston stood and worried that a carbon tax would raise the price of Halloween candy. Then Cheryl Gallant fretted that a carbon tax would raise the price of wood. Then Lawrence Toet lamented for a carbon tax that would punish families and kill jobs. Then Pat Martin stood and attempted to shame a Conservative backbencher into rejecting his talking points. And then Kelly Block cried that a carbon tax would “hurt ordinary Canadians.”

All of this was supposedly something to do with the NDP and its leader.

There must be a better way to honour Canadians

The purpose of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal is commendable: to honour Canadians for their service to Canada. To recognize those who make a contribution to the country.

The medal should be a celebration of citizenship. In a country slow to praise and reluctant to thank, it should say: “We appreciate you.”

It isn’t the Nobel Prize. The medal itself isn’t precious or rare; it’s made of “nickel-silver” and 60,000 will be struck this year.

After federal changes to waterways rules, 90 per cent of protected lakes lap on Conservative shores

OTTAWA — The vast majority of lakes that retain federal protection under the government’s proposed changes to waterway rules lap up against ridings held by Conservative MPs.

While revisions to the Navigable Waters Protection Act has stripped federal oversight from thousands of Canadian waterways, 90 per cent of the lakes that will still be designated as protected are in Tory territory, a Citizen analysis shows.

The F-35: The plane that keeps on billing

“If you went out and bought yourself a new minivan and you wanted to drive it off the lot, you wouldn’t calculate the gas, the washer fluid, the oil and give yourself a salary to drive it for the next 15 or 20 years.”

That was Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s response to Michael Ferguson in April, after the Auditor-General used “life-cycle costs” to calculate the full impact that buying F-35 stealth fighter jets would have on the federal treasury.

Is Stephen Harper’s Honeymoon With the Canadian Forces Over?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been known for his unwavering support for the Canadian Forces.

But no sooner had Prime Minister Harper made his speech at the change of command ceremony Monday for the new Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson, did the emails from Defence Watch readers start coming in. Some readers were asking – Is the honeymoon over?

Overwhelming majority supports revoking citizenship for Canadians who commit treason

A new public opinion poll has found overwhelming support for a proposal to revoke the citizenship of those who commit acts of treason and terrorism against their fellow Canadians, a Calgary MP said Monday.

Eight out of 10 people polled by NRG Research agreed Canadians guilty of treason should lose their citizenship. A similar ratio favoured revoking citizenship from terrorists who target their countrymen.

Undemocratic impulses? Who ya gonna call? Not Jimmy Carter!

By the sound of it, the international observers of Sunday's Ukrainian parliamentary elections did manage to catch the government of President Viktor F. Yanukovich getting up to some undemocratic naughtiness.

Their report, which the international media yesterday described as scathing, accused Yanukovich's Party of Regions of unfairly benefiting from excessive money from supporters, abuse of government resources to make it look good and heavily biased media coverage in its favour.

So it comes as no surprise that on the same day the party was claiming to have won the election and hung onto its parliamentary majority.

NDP calls feds’ attempts to convince Parliament they're considering alternatives to F-35s a ‘red herring’; Public Works rejects claims it prefers F-35 fighter jets

PARLIAMENT HILL—The federal government is under fire over what critics call a “red herring” attempt to convince Parliament it intends to consider alternatives to the F-35 stealth warplane to replace Canada’s aging fleet of fighter jets.

And, in a new development in the controversy over the minimum $25-billion project to acquire 65 F-35 fighter jets, the opposition and a leading critic of the plan say the government also intends to rewrite Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s scathing report on the planned acquisition with an independent review that MPs say is designed to contradict the findings Mr. Ferguson tabled in Parliament last April.

Mayor Rob Ford ‘blaming others’ in non-apology, integrity commissioner says

Mayor Rob Ford’s “retraction” of his disparaging comments about the city’s chief medical officer is so inadequate that council should punish him, the integrity commissioner wrote in a brief but blistering report released Monday.

Janet Leiper last week said she would not recommend a punishment against Ford until she considered his last-minute “letter of retraction.” After studying the letter, she decided that Ford should be formally reprimanded.

Mayor Rob Ford sought provincial money only for his own football programs

Mayor Rob Ford used his office to seek government money for only one Toronto football field: the one where his own teams play and practise.

A freedom of information request shows Ford’s staff sought provincial funding for a single football-related project or program — a major renovation of the field at Etobicoke’s Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School, where Ford is head coach and where his summer team, the Rexdale Raiders, holds practices.