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.]

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Myth of the Obama Cave-In

At President Barack Obama's first press conference after winning reelection, CNN's Jessica Yellin posed a saucy question: "Mr. President, on the fiscal cliff, two years ago, sir, you said that you wouldn't extend the Bush-era tax cuts, but at the end of the day, you did. So, respectfully, sir, why should the American people and the Republicans believe that you won't cave again this time?"

Climate financing to run out unless UN talks find solution

A $100-billion-a-year promise from rich nations — including Canada — to help poor countries deal with climate change is still unfunded as of the end of 2012, a new report shows.

And a second fund, meant to jump start the promise, will run dry by Dec. 31.

Critics Ask Why Is Harper Government Hiring Consultants to Audit F-35 Costs and Provide Advice on Defence Cost-Cutting When It Already Has Reports On Both Issues?

The cost of the government’s audit into  the F-35 purchase has jumped $62,000 in a couple of months.

The Harper government originally said it would spend $645,535 to hire KPMG to review the costing figures the military put forward for the F-35.

In response to a written question asked by the Liberal Party on October 3, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose revealed that the contract for KPMG to audit the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would cost taxpayers $705,854.50, up from the previously announced $643,535, according to a news release from Liberal defence critic John McKay.

Conservative attack ads lie about Mulcair planning a carbon tax

Sadly, we have come to expect that politicians don't always tell the truth based on our understanding of the word.

We expect them to equivocate, to misdirect, to evade awkward questions or take things their opponents say out of context. But it's still rare for them to out-and-out lie. It's even rarer to for them to aggressively repeat a lie once it has been exposed as such.

But lie and lie again is exactly what the Conservatives in Ottawa are doing in the radio attack ads now running across the country denouncing NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's "carbon tax" plan.

Parliament votes on critical AIDS bill this week, but will it pass?

If you had the opportunity to save "hundreds of thousands, maybe millions" of AIDS sufferers in Africa and other poor countries, what would you do? A complete no-brainer, right? Why in the world is it even a question?

The sad answer is that our federal government has this exact opportunity this week, when private member's bill C-398 to enable this very outcome is voted on in the House. But the government has rejected such a bill before and intends to reject it again. Don't ask me why. There's no rational explanation, either of politics or public policy.

Don’t spend $25-million on rebranding Museum of Civilization, feds should revive Portrait Gallery, says MP Dewar

NDP MP Paul Dewar says the government has “forgotten” about the former U.S Embassy sitting across the street from Parliament at 100 Wellington St., and says instead of spending $25-million on rebranding the Museum of Civilization it makes “infinite more sense” for the government to spend the funds on turning the abandoned space into the Portrait Gallery of Canada, as per the original plans.

“Instead of renaming and rebranding the Museum of Civilization, which is going to cost $25-million, they could easily be re-investing that money into the former American Embassy, which already had money invested in it, to become the portrait gallery,” said Mr. Dewar in an interview with The Hill Times. “They messed up on this file, unfortunately what they’re doing is they’re just leaving that building sitting there and it’s costing taxpayers money just to have the upkeep.”

MPs clash over Bill C-377 to force public disclosures by labour unions

OTTAWA—One of the nastiest fights in years in the House of Commons is coming to a head as Members of Parliament prepare for a vote on the Conservatives’ bid to force labour unions to publicly disclose extensive internal information.

The contentious legislation, which opponents see as an attempt to use the Canada Revenue Agency for an attack on 4.3 million union members and the government’s political foes, has been brought forward as a private member’s bill by Conservative MP Russ Hiebert.

Toronto casino would be bad for our health, report finds

Toronto Public Health has released its highly anticipated report on the health impacts of bringing a new casino to Toronto.

Unsurprisingly, the review determined that increased access to gambling is probably not good for your health. Medical officer of health Dr. David McKeown reported that “hosting a new casino in Toronto is anticipated to increase the frequency and severity of problem gambling in the city, and the associated negative health impacts on individuals, families and communities.”

Fighting war and honouring the fallen

In the midst of the media focus today on honoring soldiers who died in wars past - all that footage of Canadian troops trudging through hell and the laying of wreaths by anguished family members - peace activists are asking for a little air time for the civilians caught in the crossfire, and for a consideration of the alternatives to armed conflict.

During rush hour on Friday, members of the Canadian Voices of Women for peace gathered in front of the CBC on John St. and Front, to hand out white poppies, which have been gaining traction as an international symbol of commemoration for civlizians brutalized and killed in war. And while the Royal Canadian Legion has expressed its unhappiness with what they believe is the white emblem’s intrusion on their memorial day, non-violence advocates say there is ample room for both red and white expressions.

TTC chief to Ford: Don’t call me unless you have to

The head of the TTC is asking Rob Ford not to call him unless it’s about official city business, following what he described as a “garbled conversation” on the day a commission bus was used to ferry the mayor’s football team home from a game.

At a press conference to explain the TTC’s policy on providing buses for emergency purposes, commission CEO Andy Byford revealed that a frustrated Ford called him on November 1, demanding to know the whereabouts of a bus sent to pick up the Don Bosco Eagles, which the mayor coaches.

Protestors halt removal of Jarvis bike lanes

Cycling advocates literally put their asses on the line to stop the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes Monday, and managed to win a temporary reprieve for the controversial bikeways.

As a city-contracted crew began scrubbing out the southbound lane using a truck-mounted water blaster shortly before 1 pm, a single protestor sat down in its path. The truck moved around him and continued its work, only to be blocked by another man, then another.

Hu Jintao, Chinese President And Communist Party Leader, Clears Way For Vice President Xi Jinping To Take Party Helm

BEIJING — Xi Jinping became China's new leader Thursday, assuming the top posts in the Communist Party and the powerful military in a political transition unbowed by scandals, a slower economy and public demands for reforms.

Xi was introduced as the new party general secretary at Beijing's Great Hall of the People a day after the close of a weeklong party congress that underlined the communists' determination to remain firmly in power. He and the six other men who will form China's new collective leadership, all dressed in dark suits, walked in line onto the red-carpeted stage.

California to Polluters: Go Green or Pay Up

"Cap and trade" may be a dirty expression inside the DC Beltway, but as of today in California it's the law of the land. Gov. Jerry Brown has brushed aside dire warnings from the fossil fuel industry to forge ahead with the state's first-ever auction of emissions permits under its groundbreaking climate law, AB 32. This morning's auction marks the official launch of the world's second-largest carbon market.

Vancouver Police Taser Man, Probed By Independent Investigations Office

B.C.'s independent agency is investigating a case where a man was hit by a Vancouver police Taser, and then died in hospital of self-inflicted injuries.

Police answered a call from Emergency Health Services on Tuesday morning about a man threatening to harm himself with a knife. During the exchange with officers, the man "continued to be agitated," said a news release from the Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

In response, police deployed a Taser. The man suffered self-inflicted injuries, was taken into custody and transported to hospital where he died, said the agency.

The IIO is responsible for investigating deaths and serious injury involving police forces in B.C. Their mission is to conduct timely, unbiased and transparent investigations.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: Andree Lau

Tom Mulcair: China-Canada FIPA Threat To Alberta's Natural Resources Control

CALGARY - A soon-to-be ratified investment treaty between Canada and China has the potential to wrest control of natural resources away from the provinces, the leader of the federal NDP said Tuesday.

"I think one of the things that we have to know is that this can cause huge upheaval in the province's ability to control their natural resources and real problems for Canada's sovereignty long-term," Tom Mulcair said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Harper Hitler Comparison By Union Official Under Fire

A union representative has compared Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Hitler and caught the eye of both Sun News and the Conservatives.

Humberto da Silva, a "national representative" at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), makes the comparison in a recent YouTube video created for the left-wing news website Rabble.

The video is on the subject of Tory MP Russ Hiebert's private member's Bill C-377, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (labour organizations), which would require unions to disclose details about money spent on political causes so they can be posted on the Canada Revenue Agency website. The bill is set to face a third reading in the House of Commons this month, the last step before legislation is sent to the Senate and then for Royal Assent.

EU Strikes: Anti-Austerity Protests Against Rising Unemployment In Europe Planned

A Day of Action and Solidarity across the EU is underway with around 40 groups from 23 countries staging walk-outs and strikes against rising unemployment and austerity measures.

Strikes in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy have caused travel chaos in the UK as airlines have cancelled a number of flights to Spain and Portugal.

Protests are also taking place in Belgium, Germany, France and some eastern EU states. Transport in these countries has been affected and many schools have closed for the day.

Canada prepares for drug patent concessions to clinch free-trade deal with EU

OTTAWA - As free trade talks with the European Union reach the endgame, Ottawa is signalling it is prepared to give the Europeans at least part of what they asked for on drug patents — a move that could cost Canadians up to $900 million a year.

With negotiations at the bureaucratic level nearing closure, International Trade Minister Ed Fast will meet his European counterpart in Brussels next week, taking the discussions to the next level.

The public’s distrust of Stephen Harper poses dilemma for Conservatives

Trust — or the lack of it — can make or break a political career. In Quebec, corruption allegations recently made at the Charbonneau Commission took down the mayors of Laval and Montreal. In Ontario, Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned last month, at the same time that his government faced growing public anger over the cancellation of two power plants, ostensibly for political gain. While none of these allegations have been proven, once trust is perceived to be lost, for a politician there’s often nowhere to go but down — and out.

Memo warned Toews of risks in dropping gun show rules

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was warned by his department about the risks of failing to tighten up surveillance of gun shows months before he announced a proposal to repeal long-delayed gun show regulations.

Toews announced in September the government would not be going ahead with the regulations, which were due to take effect at the end of November following years of delays.

Peter Goldring does not like the CBC

Backbench independent MP Peter Goldring (formerly a Conservative) has a problem with the CBC. Specifically, Goldring said it’s time to consider “whether the CBC is with Canadians or against” in light of a report it aired last week regarding a military skit poking fun at Osama bin Laden.

Last week, the CBC reported on a video some members of the Canadian Forces created that featured one soldier painted in brown face pretending to be Osama bin Laden’s “brother.” The video was recorded in 2010. As the CBC also reported, the video was immediately recognized by the military as offensive. Those who took part in it were reprimanded, and the target of the skit was issued an apology.

Ethnic media monitoring used to track perceptions of immigration minister

OTTAWA - The Department of Citizenship and Immigration spent almost $750,000 monitoring ethnic media over the past three years, including assessments of election campaign events and "perceptions" of minister Jason Kenney.

A series of contracts from March 2009 through May 2012 cost taxpayers $745,050, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information law.

Those contracts state they were for work "monitoring key words and issues related to the department's mandate."

N14 anti-austerity protests in Europe: Millions co-ordinate strike action across borders

Wednesday marks a breakthrough in the struggle against austerity in Europe. There will be co-ordinated general strikes in Portugal, Greece and Spain and significant strikes and solidarity actions in many other countries. The CGIL union in Italy, for example, an organisation of nearly six million, has announced a strike of all its members around the country.

This is a historic and crucial development. There have been other European days of action and joint protests in Brussels and elsewhere, but this will be the first time since the great anti-war protests nearly ten years ago that this level of co-ordination has taken place across borders. It is the first time that general strikes have been organised simultaneously.

Abuse and exploitation inherent to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker program

As scandals rock the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, the federal government will begin a program wide review. Though the government hinted at it, they did not mention the endemic abuse that is inherent in the TFW program, and the global treatment of migrant workers.

In the last month, the TFW program has made headlines after reports surfaced that migrant workers from China were being recruited to a coal mine near Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. Even though according to the B.C. Federation of Labour, B.C. lost over 10,000 jobs last month, and over 300 Canadians applied for these jobs, all were denied as they didn't have the right training or qualifications. One of the qualifications on the job description was that they be able to speak Mandarin.

Federal budget fall update puts tax breaks at risk

OTTAWA—The Harper government is pushing back the timeframe to balance Ottawa’s books, which means Canadians may have to wait much longer for tax breaks the Conservatives promised in the last election.

Citing the weak global economy, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday the $26-billion federal budget deficit will not be eliminated until the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The revision, contained in Flaherty’s annual fall economic update, could have a significant impact on Canadians.

Jarvis bike lane protester arrested during removal

A protester was arrested and charged Tuesday morning after blocking the removal of the Jarvis St. bike lanes.

Toronto physician Tomislav Svoboda was arrested around 11 a.m. on Jarvis St. near Shuter St.

“As a family and public health physician, I’m concerned about safety,” Svoboda said. “I’m concerned about the lack of public consultation and the very undemocratic process that led to the removal of these lanes, and the waste and misuse of taxpayers’ money.”

Svoboda sat with a bike in the laneway, blocking the truck that was removing the paint. He and other members of the advocacy group Jarvis Emegency Taskforce blocked the lane, but Svoboda was the first to remain in the lane after being peacefully confronted by police.

“This is the only major North American city that’s removing bicycle lanes, which is a national disgrace,” he said.

He was arrested without incident by the 51 Division Street Crime Unit, which operates on bicycles.

Police told the Star Tuesday afternoon that Svoboda was charged with obstructing a peace officer and mischief.

Original Article
Source: the star
Author: Dylan C. Robertson 

Immigration ministry paid for media monitoring of Minister Jason Kenney’s image

OTTAWA — The Department of Citizenship and Immigration spent almost $750,000 monitoring ethnic media over the past three years, including assessments of election campaign events and “perceptions” of minister Jason Kenney.

A series of contracts from March 2009 through May 2012 cost taxpayers $745,050, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information law.

Those contracts state they were for work “monitoring key words and issues related to the department’s mandate.”

Transgendered student denied access to men’s washroom

When James Spencer switched schools to avoid bullies the last place he thought he’d run into them again was at the main office.

But that’s exactly what Spencer, a 16-year-old who transitioned from female to male, says happened when Clarke High School in Durham Region barred him from using the men’s washroom.

Despite collecting the signatures of about half the students in the school, Spencer is still not allowed to use the men’s washroom. He’s been granted access to the women’s washroom and a private washroom that needs a key from the main office — neither of which work for him.

Reinvent Environmental Assessment in BC, Say Critics

The air is sweet with freshly cut spruce way up on the Stewart Cassiar Highway, about 1,600 kilometres north of Vancouver, a sign that the northwest transmission line (NTL) has finally broken ground. Lining the road just south of Bell 2 are seven tepee-like piles of wood, each looming four stories high -- the detritus cleared for a right of way that will eventually see the B.C. power grid extended 450 km into the north-western corner of the province.

Unions Want to See What's in Chinese Temp Miner Permits

Unions that filed a request for a judicial review of permits allowing miners from China to work in British Columbian mines haven't been satisfied by news the federal government will review the case.

A spokesman for the unions said that's because despite news the federal government will examine the use of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program by B.C. mines, its attempt to have the permit applications for the workers released has been denied.

Foreign Worker Review Was Already Underway, Permits Won't Be Pulled: Kenney

Permits allowing foreign workers from China to work at a mining project near Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia will not be rescinded by immigration authorities as a review of the case goes on, said the federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Minister Jason Kenney gave a different picture from news reports stating controversy over Chinese miners in B.C. "prompted" the review, saying the Conservative government had already been reviewing the Temporary Foreign Workers Program for months before the uproar in B.C.

The minister was addressing a Burnaby Board of Trade function Friday afternoon and afterwards told media the 201 miners will still be able to work at HD Mining's Murray River project.

Teacher Decries Pension Plan's 'Unethical' Investments

The BC Teachers' Federation prides itself on being a "social justice" union, and in many ways that is true: it's a living wage employer, an advocate against child poverty, an environmental steward, pushes an anti-Northern Gateway pipeline lesson plan, and is a fervent defender of public education, criticizing corporations like Pearson Education for privatizing education.

But the teachers' pension plan tells a different story. Managed by the BC Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC), the Teachers' Pension Plan invests in Pearson, Enbridge, British American Tobacco, Haliburton, and other corporations associated with environmental destruction, sweatshop labour, and weapons manufacturing.

Chairman Harper's Weakness

The Conservative Party (CP) of Canada will likely ratify a promotion and investment treaty (FIPPA) with the Communist Party (CP) of China any day now. It will do so largely to accelerate the production of bitumen.

Yet China Inc has outplayed and outgunned the Canadian government and its political class. Harper’s Conservatives have not only failed to do their due diligence but betrayed their own basic principles (most claim to support free markets and democracy). They've also sold out ordinary Canadians for the dubious prospects of bitumen expansion.

Rick Perry Takes Stand On Texas Secession Issue

Texas Gov. Rick Perry does not stand behind a secession petition filed with the White House by a Lone Star State resident in the aftermath of the presidential election.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Republican governor's press secretary, Catherine Frazier, said in an email that Perry "believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it." She added, "But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government. Now more than ever our country needs strong leadership from states like Texas, that are making tough decisions to live within their means, keep taxes low and provide opportunities to job creators so their citizens can provide for their families and prosper."

Can the Federal Reserve Help Prevent a Second Recession?

Despite what you may have read in the newspapers or heard from the president’s cheerful speeches, the economy is not out of the danger zone. Despite some encouraging indicators recently, both the US economy and the world’s remain in perilous condition, still threatened by the larger catastrophe Washington officials thought they had averted. That is, a renewed global recession will compound the losses and can swiftly morph into the big D, for depression.

The You're-on-Your-Own Society

Of all the divisions between the candidates in this election, perhaps the deepest was over whether, as President Obama put it, we are all in this together. Do we believe in solving our problems by sharing them—through the Affordable Care Act, grants for low-income college students, progressive income taxes that fund public services, help for the unemployed, infrastructure improvements, scientific research and other essential features of modern democracies that are taken for granted in just about every other Western industrialized country? Or do we believe, with Mitt Romney, that each of us is on his or her—maybe especially her—own? Do we believe in government, or in billionaires? A tax-funded safety net for everyone, or a patchwork of charities and churches with no obligation—or, let’s be realistic, capacity—to help all in need? Do we agree with Romney that the government should turn disaster recovery over to the states or, “even better,” private enterprise? Maybe Hurricane Sandy clarified that question for some of those famous undecided voters. It certainly seems to have done that for Governor Christie.

Obama Promised (Again) That He'd Close Gitmo. So Can He?

The memory of Barack Obama's 2008 promise to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay now makes human rights activists roll their eyes. But last month, with comedian Jon Stewart as witness, the president repeated the same vow. Should Americans believe him?

Probably not, says Charles Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs under George W. Bush.

Greece Racist Attacks Increase Amid Financial Crisis

ATHENS, Greece -- The attack came seemingly out of nowhere. As the 28-year-old Bangladeshi man dug around trash bins one recent afternoon for scrap metal, two women and a man set upon him with a knife. He screamed as he fell. Rushed to the hospital, he was treated for a gash to the back of his thigh.

Police are investigating the assault as yet another in a rising wave of extreme-right rage against foreigners as Greece sinks further into economic misery. The details vary, but the cold brutality of each attack is the same: Dark-skinned migrants confronted by thugs, attacked with knives and broken bottles, wooden bats and iron rods.

Prepare for an onslaught of Harper the Reasonable

Would Stephen Harper have preferred a Romney victory? He’ll never say. But it’s safe to assume so. Former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is Harper’s philosophical twin. Obama is the unruly cousin with whom he’s forced to share a room on summer break. They’re cordial, but ideology precludes them ever crooning “Irish Eyes” together, as Brian Mulroney famously did with Ronald Reagan.

That said, Obama’s re-election is not a setback for Harper, as some of his critics have assumed. In fact the opposite is true.

Merit, collegiality trumps bilingualism for high court jobs: Nicholson letter

OTTAWA - Bilingualism will never trump merit or the ability to get along with colleagues when it comes to appointing judges to the Supreme Court, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson argues in a recently released letter.

The three-page letter, dating from 2011 but only recently released under federal access to information laws, makes the case that bilingualism is ensured through legislation that requires three Quebec judges on the Supreme Court and 15 for the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal.

Hurricane Sandy is another blow to Haiti

Hurricane Sandy struck another heavy blow to Haiti on October 23, 24, 2012. At least 54 people died and dozens more are missing. Several tens of thousands of people were flooded out of their homes or earthquake survivor camps.

There are some 370,000 people stuck in appalling conditions in the camps while hundreds of thousands more have gone back to damaged homes or whatever other inadequate shelter they can find.

Ottawa expected UN pressure on anti-torture policy

Newly released memos show Canada fully expected the intense grilling it got from a United Nations committee earlier this year about its international obligations to shun torture and other cruel treatment.

Officials quietly advised Justice Minister Rob Nicholson the committee would "likely press Canada" on issues ranging from prison overcrowding to redress for people subjected to torture abroad.

Wal-Mart Worker Uprising: Protests Held At 1,000 Stores on Black Friday

A wave of historic protests struck the retail giant Wal-Mart on Black Friday — the busiest shopping day of the year. Workers and their supporters demonstrated at more than 1,000 stores. The Wal-Mart protests were organized in part by OUR Walmart, an organization backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union. Nine people, including three Wal-Mart workers, were arrested at a protest in Los Angeles after they blocked traffic. We broadcast the voices of protesters in Secaucus, New Jersey, and speak to Josh Eidelson, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Sharif Abdel Kouddous on Gaza’s "Severe Damage" and Why Truce Won’t Stop the Violence of Occupation

Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip ended in a ceasefire last week with the final toll standing at around 170 Palestinians killed, and more than 700 wounded. Meanwhile in Israel, four Israeli civilians and two Israeli soldiers were killed, along with dozens of others wounded, in Palestinian attacks. We’re joined from Cairo by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who has just returned to Cairo after several days in Gaza. "Gaza’s damage is severe," Kouddous says.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Canada's stake in the U.S. 'fiscal cliff'

As metaphors go, "fiscal cliff" must surely rank as one of the most striking ever coined. It implies something scary, irreversible, even fatal.

U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke – normally one to confine his vernacular to dry "fedspeak" – must have known that when he first used the term in Congressional testimony earlier this year.

Government walks out of talks with high school teachers over supervision boycott

The head of the Ontario public high school teachers’ union said he is willing to return to provincial talks after being “flabbergasted” by the government’s decision to walk out early Monday.

The walkout followed the union’s refusal to call off its nascent boycott of supervision and after-hours meetings with parents.

Banning reporters from convention backfires on Tories

CALGARY — The best line from the Progressive Conservatives’ annual convention on the weekend didn’t come from the premier or her cabinet ministers or any of her MLAs.

It came from a delegate during a closed-door session Saturday morning discussing changes to the party’s constitution. At the time, reporters had been banished from the meeting and were quietly grumbling in the hallways about the credibility gap between an “open and transparent” PC government and a “closed and opaque” PC party.

Defence cuts are no cuts at all

About one-quarter of the $1.1 billion the Defence Department claims it is saving as part of government-ordered reductions aren’t actual cuts, critics charge.

What the department has done instead is temporarily delay expanding the military, something it maintains contributes $305 million to the fiscal reductions sought by the Conservative government.

First Nations hold veto over resource development

Governments and corporate Canada remain in denial about a new reality: aboriginal groups hold veto power over resource development.

In his just-published book, Resource Rulers; Fortune and Folly on Canada's Road to Resources, Bill Gallagher reviews the legal victories natives have toted up since the 1980s, and draws an intriguing conclusion.

A Wildrose Party Coup D'Etat

While the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties of Alberta were duking it out in the Legislature over the past ten days, and with the mainstream media focused on the Daryl Katz "One Cheque to Rule Them All" election donation controversy, something took place on social media that went unnoticed by most armchair politicos and online party supporters. How it went unnoticed remains a mystery because the accusation that was made is shocking enough to be deserving of both our attention and our concern.

Aboriginal Conservative senator pushes Harper government for public inquiry into missing First Nations women

A Conservative First Nations senator is pushing his government for a federal public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Sen. Patrick Brazeau of Quebec, named to the upper chamber by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008, told Postmedia News that the rising number of dead and missing aboriginal women shows Canada is failing to protect First Nations communities.

MPs get only a few hours to review massive omnibus budget implementation bill, call it a ‘farce’

The opposition parties had thought the federal government backed down two weeks ago when in a rare move of legislative flexibility agreed to split up its second massive Omnibus Budget Implementation Bill C-45 and send portions of it to 11 House committees, but two weeks later, they say the whole thing is a “sham,” and “undemocratic.”

The government’s second Omnibus Budget Implementation Bill will be reported back to the House next Thursday, Nov. 22, after only a handful of meetings at the House Finance Committee and only a few hours at 10 other Commons committees and opposition MPs are criticizing the government’s move to fast-track the bill through the committee process.

Feds spent $272.4-billion last year, compared to $270.5-billion in 2010: public accounts

The federal government spent a grand total of $271.4-billion last year compared to $270.5-billion in 2010, according to the recently-released public accounts.

The government also brought in $245-billion of revenue, which means the federal government ran a deficit of $26.2-billion, or 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said these “headline numbers” show that deficit is going down from $33.4-billion, or 2.1 per cent of GDP in 2010.

What kind of military can Canada afford?

Shrinking budgets in the years ahead is leading to questions about what kind of military Canada will have.

Defence spending has increased by about a billion dollars every year under the Harper government, but the military now must get by with less.

National Defence cost the government $22.8 billion in the last fiscal year, almost 10 per cent of total program expenses. The cuts are expected to take $2.5 billion out of the military budget.

Jarvis St. bike lane removal called off for the day after sit-in protest

The Jarvis bike lanes were granted a one-day reprieve Monday after half a dozen protestors staged a sit-in.

Frustrated, the removal crew packed it in for the day after clearing less than 200 metres of road.

Sgt. Mike Hayles, from 51 Division, said police were told the workers would return Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Councillor quits Mayor Rob Ford's executive committee

Seven months ago, the two women on Mayor Rob Ford’s 13-member executive committee both said they would quit at the end of the year if Ford didn’t start to seek consensus and to think more strategically.

Councillor Jaye Robinson and Councillor Michelle Berardinetti have now made their decisions: Robinson will seek reappointment to the powerful cabinet-like committee; Berardinetti will not.