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, November 28, 2012

Bill C-10 Hit With Legal Challenges By Quebec Bar Association

OTTAWA - The Quebec Bar Association has launched a legal challenge against parts of the federal Conservatives' law-and-order agenda.

In a case that could ultimately find itself before the Supreme Court, the association has filed a motion in Quebec Superior Court seeking to strike down sections of Bill C-10.

Disney, Wal-Mart, Sears used deadly Bangladeshi factory

Amid the ash, broken glass and melted sewing machines at what is left of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory in Bangladesh, there are piles of children's shorts bearing Wal-Mart's Faded Glory brand.

There were also shorts from hip-hop star Sean Combs's ENYCE label lying on the floor and stacked in cartons.

Alberta premier accused of conflict in tobacco case

Premier Alison Redford, while justice minister, personally chose her ex-husband's law firm for a government tobacco-litigation contract worth potentially tens of millions of dollars in contingency fees, a CBC News investigation has found.

One of Canada’s top experts in conflict of interest says Redford was in a clear conflict and should have not made that decision.

Canada set to vote against UN recognition of Palestinian statehood

A bid for UN recognition of a state of Palestine is a last-ditch attempt to rescue troubled Mideast peace efforts, a Palestinian spokeswoman said Wednesday, rejecting Israel’s charge that it is an attempt to bypass negotiations.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, urged the U.S. to drop its opposition to the bid, dismissing Washington’s stance as “pathetic” and harmful to American interests in the region. The Palestinians have come under intense pressure from the U.S., Britain and others to modify the bid but “have not succumbed,” she said.

Global Warming Threat: Permafrost Thawing Across Siberia And Alaska Poses New Concern, UNEP Reports

DOHA, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Permafrost lands across Siberia and Alaska that contain vast stores of carbon are beginning to thaw, bringing with it the threat of a big increase in global warming by 2100, a U.N. report said on Tuesday.

A thaw of the vast areas of permanently frozen ground in Russia, Canada, China and the United States also threatens local homes, roads, railways and oil pipelines, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) said in the report which was released at the U.N. climate talks being held this week and next in Qatar.

House GOP Committee Chairs Will All Be White Men In Next Congress

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced who will chair all of the major House committees in the next Congress. And it turns out they all have something in common besides party affiliation: they're all white men.

There isn't a single woman or minority included in the mix of 19 House committee chairs announced Tuesday -- a stark reality for a party desperate to appeal to women and minorities after both groups overwhelmingly rejected Republicans just weeks ago in the presidential election. The one female committee chair that House Republicans currently have, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is stepping down because her term is up. While there are still two lower-tier House committees awaiting a chair assignment -- the Ethics Committee and House Administration -- neither committee has any women or minority members.

10 Ways to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff

Although you might never know it from listening to the pundits, America isn't broke. We have plenty of money to pay for government programs—we've just gradually lost our ability to collect it. Here are 10 ways, most of them long favored by liberal economists, that politicians could avoid the fiscal cliff's $1.2 trillion in trigger cuts and start plugging the long-term deficit to boot.

Climate change silence and Jason Kenney's award: Signs of depressing state of our political discourse

In the United States just about the first mention of global warming during this year's election campaign came when New York Mayor Bloomberg linked Hurricane Sandy to climate change. It was, Bloomberg said, the reason why he decided to endorse President Obama.

The Mayor believes Obama will take the global warming crisis more seriously than his Republican opponent -- although the President has not actually said anything during the campaign to justify that confidence.

Open letter to governments at UN climate talks: Leave fossil fuels in the ground

2012 saw the shocking melt of the Arctic, leading our greatest climatologist to declare a 'planetary emergency,' and it saw weather patterns wreck harvests around the world, raising food prices by 40 per cent and causing family emergencies in poor households throughout the world.

That's what happens with 0.8ºC of global warming.

If we are going to stop this situation from getting worse, an array of institutions have explained this year precisely what we need to do: leave most of the carbon we know about in the ground and stop looking for more.

Friedrich von Hayek: Neoliberalism's prophet

As the economic boom of the post-war period ended in the early 1970s, neoliberal ideology emerged as a rebellion against the statist strategies of the previous era. While neoliberalism was critical of Keynes it was also a further development of themes present in classical and neoclassical economic thought. Its most famous proponent was the economist-philosopher Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992). His theory till the 2012 U.S. elections constituted the central intellectual adversary for the global justice movements, the leftist states in Latin America and other critics of corporate capitalism.

The misuse of November 11: How the Harper government exploits Remembrance Day

This Sunday, on November 11, millions of Canadians will pause to lament the human cost of Canada's wars past and present. But this year, like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of his government will urge Canadians to think about other things, too. Things like Canada's historical excellence in trench warfare and the country's vital contribution to the Cold War.

Remembrance Day in Canada has always cast a jingoistic sort of shadow. "In Flanders Fields," with its message, "Take up our quarrel with the foe," is practically a recruitment poster. But, since the beginning of his tenure as PM, Harper has made a concerted effort to turn Remembrance Day into a celebration of military exploits rather than a commemoration of loss and sacrifice.

The four main culprits in Israel's latest attack on Gaza

A short interview broadcast by CNN late last week featuring two participants -- a Palestinian in Gaza and an Israeli within range of the rocket attacks -- did not follow the usual script.

For once, a media outlet dropped its role as gatekeeper, there to mediate and therefore impair our understanding of what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians, and inadvertently became a simple window on real events.

Rob Ford as metaphor: The real culture of entitlement

What to make, just past its second anniversary, of the circus act that is Rob Ford's administration in Toronto? A perpetual sideshow and distraction where the primary attraction, the mayor himself, seems anxious to outdo himself in terms of buffoonery and apparent stupidity.

Many Torontonians, including some, I suspect, who voted for him, wring their hands in angst at each new development in the train wreck that his administration has become. Facing two court challenges and having to take the stand in both while in office, seeing no hypocrisy in talking about "gravy trains" while skipping out on the job that he was elected and is paid to do to coach high school football (including failing to attend the Big City Mayor's Conference in Ottawa to do so), using his influence to get actually working citizens kicked off of public buses during rush hour in bad weather so that his football team could get picked up (and it is obvious this happened, despite absurd claims by the police to the contrary, given that the police had not made such a request of the TTC since a factory explosion four years prior in 2008), having city road crews rush a job in front of his family's business just in time for an anniversary project, etc.

Canada threatens to leave alarming climate legacy at COP18 negotiations

It was just over one week ago that Environment Minister Peter Kent told reporters, "climate change is a real and present danger."

These words echoed the urgency felt around the globe -- a world in the grips of the effects of intensified natural disasters, unprecedented rates of species loss and a rapidly degrading environment. Many hoped that this sense of urgency would translate into a stronger and more ambitious Canadian position at the United Nations annual climate negotiations, which opened on Monday in Doha, Qatar.

Plan C: A Ford switcheroo?

While Rob Ford’s legal team maps out a plan to win his appeal, Ford’s political machine is busy working on a strategy to keep at least one Ford in the mayor’s office.

If Ford is banned from running in a by-election, his councillor brother would run in his place. The mayor would then turn his attention to provincial politics, which Doug Ford had been planning to do this year.

CCPA-NS report warns Atlantic Canada to suffer disproportionately from federal austerity

ALANTIC CANADA - A new CCPA-NS report released today makes projections for federal public sector job loss in Atlantic Canada and discusses the breadth and depth of its impact in the region.  CCPA-NS publishes Public Disservice: the impact of federal government job cuts in Atlantic Canada at a time when many are questioning a federal austerity agenda that is eliminating jobs, programs and services Canadians need, while refusing to provide the information needed to fully understand the consequences.

Marton Gyongyosi, Hungary Far-Right Leader, Demands List Of Jews Who Pose 'National Security Risk'

BUDAPEST, Nov 27 (Reuters) - A Hungarian far-right politician urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a "national security risk", stirring outrage among Jewish leaders who saw echoes of fascist policies that led to the Holocaust.

Marton Gyongyosi, a leader of Hungary's third-strongest political party Jobbik, said the list was necessary because of heightened tensions following the brief conflict in Gaza and should include members of parliament.

Lamar Smith, Global Warming Skeptic, Set To Chair House Science Committee

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a skeptic of man-made global warming, is set to take over the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in the 113th Congress.

On Tuesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that the Republican Steering Committee had recommended Smith as the new chairman. The full House GOP caucus will vote on all chairmanships Wednesday and is expected to ratify the steering panel's choices.

LGBT Rights In Canada: Fate Of Bill Concerning Transgender Community Falls Into Tory Hands

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper's Conservatives have declared themselves strong advocates for gay rights worldwide, but the prime minister's caucus is divided over a bill that would recognize some of those rights at home.

MPs are studying a private member's bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgendered Canadians and to disseminate hate on the basis of someone's gender identity or expression. Not all transgendered people are homosexual, but their issues are often represented within the gay and lesbian community.

The Commons: Stephen Harper and Libby Davies trade howlers

The Scene. Libby Davies rose to list a series of complaints about the Harper government’s general and to take note of a new proposal for child care services. “Now that even the big banks are challenging Conservatives’ priorities, when will the Prime Minister rethink his shortsighted budget choices?” she wondered.

The Prime Minister was obliged here to stand and offer the official assurances. “Mr. Speaker, the policy of this government has been to gradually balance the budget over the medium-term while not raising taxes as the NDP would like us to do and while preserving our payments for vital programs like health care, education and, of course, pensions for our senior citizens,” he reported.

Nigel Wright stays in PMO but extends leave of absence from Onex

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, Nigel Wright, will be staying in the powerful post into 2013 despite an initial plan that suggested he might leave after two years in the job.

However, he has arranged an extension of a temporary leave of absence from his job at a private equity firm, Onex, in Toronto. It is unclear when that renewed leave of absence will expire.

Canadian Car Emission Standards Targeted In New Tory Climate Plan

OTTAWA - On the eve of global climate talks that will put Canada's contentious policies under the microscope, Ottawa has introduced its next set of rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks.

Under regulations proposed on Tuesday, vehicles built between 2017 and 2025 will be required to cut emissions by an average of five per cent a year, every year.

Environment Minister Peter Kent said these rules should cut annual gasoline costs by about $900 per auto, compared with today.

Canadian Oil Exports: Ed Morse, Citi Economist, Says Canadian Oil Trapped, Must Be Sold To U.S.

The head of commodities research at one of the U.S.’s largest banks is counting Canadian oil as American oil, for all intents and purposes, and his argument raises questions about Canada’s debate over building new pipelines and finding new export markets for the country’s burgeoning oil sands exports.

In an interview on CNBC Friday, Ed Morse, the head of commodities research at Citibank, was asked if the U.S. would ever again become a net exporter of oil (the country was a net oil products exporter last year, thanks to booming shale oil production).

Canada not ready for Arctic 'great melt,' report says

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper's annual summer visits to the Arctic and his government's smattering of northern policy initiatives are "admirable as far as they go," Canadian planning for the vast region in the midst of a "great melt" - one that places the Arctic "at the cusp of tremendous economic development" - is still plainly "inadequate," according to a new report by a Canadian team of foreign policy and marine transportation experts.

Why the World Bank should take its own advice on climate change

The annual UN climate talks are getting underway this week in Doha, Qatar, and so we will be featuring a number of articles looking at the planetary emergency of global warming. Yesterday, Bill Henderson looked at the latest PR offensive from the oil industry and the lack of action by the Canadian government to prevent global warming. For a complete selection of our articles on climate change, check out our Environment issues page here

The World Bank delivered a brutal warning about the dangers of runaway climate change and called for rapid action to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a recent report. But don’t expect the bank to take its own advice.

Rob Ford can’t run in by-election, says city solicitor

The city's top lawyer believes Monday’s bombshell ruling on Mayor Ford’s conflict of interest case prevents him from running in a by-election before 2014.

In a question and answer period at the start of a regularly scheduled council meeting Tuesday, city solicitor Anna Kinastowski said she interprets the Ontario Superior Court decision as barring Ford from seeking office until the current council term is over.

The day Rob Ford got himself fired

At Toronto’s City Hall, surely the most ambiently lunatic building in Canada, a stage was set up to launch the Mayor’s Christmas Toy Drive. Eight small children had been procured to act as “honourary elves,” sitting cross-legged on a carpet at the foot of a Christmas tree, flanked by boxes of mini-trikes and construction cranes. A boxed CFL football sat ominously to one side. The mayor was scheduled to launch the drive at 1 p.m. An enormous crowd of reporters buzzed about. Interest in the mayor’s event had amplified to unusual levels by news that the mayor had just gotten himself fired.

Company collects data on millions of illegal downloaders in first step to crack down on piracy in Canada

If you’re watching an illegally downloaded movie, someone could be watching you.

A forensic software company has collected files on a million Canadians who it says have downloaded pirated content.

And the company, which works for the motion picture and recording industries, says a recent court decision forcing Internet providers to release subscriber names and details is only the first step in a bid to crack down on illegal downloads.

'Bogus' claims and 'safe' countries: When will Jason Kenney drop the other shoe?

We're still waiting for the other shoe to drop on some of the federal government's big priorities.

Take Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's refugee reform Bill, C-31, which Parliament passed way back in June.

C-31 gives the Minister of Immigration unilateral power to declare safe "Designated Countries of Origin." Refugee claimants from those countries would have an extremely rapid hearing process, with no effective right to appeal and would be shipped home as soon as possible.

Paul Krugman: Republicans Seem Ready To Throw Upper Middle Class 'Overboard'

Paul Krugman says that the Republican Party may throw the modestly rich "overboard" to protect the fortunes of multi-millionaires.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Krugman focuses on one tax proposal floated by Congressional Republicans that would essentially create a "tax bubble," disproportionately hurting the upper middle class. (Nate Silver has an explanation and a chart here.) Krugman writes that taking this tack would let the GOP protect the super-rich at the expense of the working rich (using the decades-old language of Oliver Stone's Wall Street) who make six-figure salaries.

The women fighting sexism in the media – from Page 3 to politics

Just over a week ago, a group of campaigners gathered outside the News International offices in east London with a birthday card for the Sun.

The occasion? The 42nd anniversary of Page 3. The card was 6ft high, and while one side showed how women are portrayed in some of the tabloids – topless images from the Sun and the Star, as well as semi-naked, bent-double images from the Sport — the other showed how men are portrayed. The crucial difference could be summarised in the single word "clothes"; more broadly, men were pictured as active, respected professionals. The protesters wrote their feelings about Page 3 in the card. "A woman is worth more than her cup size," scrawled one. "Still stuck in the sexist, Savile-loving 70s, Dominic?" asked another.

Time to leave Fantasy Island; Climate 2.0 is here

A few days ago in Ottawa, the temperature reached 21oC. The old record was 18oC and the average high for this time of year is 5oC. This is not a local Ottawa effect or a one-shot anomaly. Weather records that have stood the test of time for over 100 years are dropping like flies everywhere. What is causing this?

Canada’s main meteorological office generates its weather forecasts by running complex analogical weather prediction models (commonly referred to as the “analog method”). In the analog method the existing state of the atmosphere in a particular region is determined, and then compared against a massive database of atmospheric states for the same time and region in previous years. The closest matches of the atmospheric states are identified, and the forecast is basically obtained by examining how those prior systems evolved over time.

‘They suffer from the climate’: Superstar scientist abandons $10M Edmonton research grant, returns to U.K.

A European scientist widely described as a “superstar” when he was lured to Alberta with $10-million from the federal government, has aborted his Canadian experiment.

After just seven months at the University of Alberta, Patrik Rorsman returned to England, forfeiting his $10-million Canada Excellence Research Chair.

Rorsman was one of 19 foreign men awarded lucrative deals at Canadian universities in 2010 as part of a $190-million Canada Excellence Research Chair program, the federal government’s ambitious science talent drive.

Tories squash public dissent

VANCOUVER -- It's a story that is becoming all too familiar. Last week, the CBC reported the Canadian Mennonite, a church-based organization with a monthly magazine of the same name, received a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The organization's charitable status was at risk, said the letter, due to its engagement in "partisan political activities." The message: Stop the objectionable activity or lose your status.

Apparently, under the Income Tax Act, subsections 141.9 (6.1 and 6.2), a charitable organization's political purpose or activity must not "include the direct support or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party." Further, it must not distribute materials that "promote or oppose a candidate or party explicitly or by implication."

China treaty uproar signals growing rift between Ottawa, grassroots conservatives

Prime Minister Stephen Harper deserves credit for doing something extraordinarily difficult: keeping groups of people who share some values — but fundamentally disagree on others — focused on areas of common agreement, not on their differences, for the past six years.

The Prime Minister’s ability to keep his caucus and supporters focused on toning down differences to maintain unity has been impressive. However, now that the Prime Minister has a majority government, cracks are appearing within his party. The growing backlash over potential Chinese control of Canadian resources is just the latest example of a growing trend.

Harper, staged conflicts and the path to victory

Under Stephen Harper, Canadian politics has fundamentally changed in the last few years and civil society and opposition parties haven’t kept up with the changes.

A couple of months ago, a lobbyist with close ties to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives addressed a room full of environmentalists with some sobering news. Essentially he told them they and their organizations were “irrelevant” to Harper because they couldn’t move votes or influence electoral outcomes. His message – that modern politics is not about good policy, but vote counting – was tough love, but accurate.

Halifax International Security Forum: The new international normal

here"Give me back the Berlin wall, give me Stalin and St Paul, I've seen the future, brother: it is murder." -- Leonard Cohen

I'm standing in the lobby of the Westin Nova Scotian in Halifax talking with CTV Atlantic bureau chief Todd Battis. I'm in the belly of the beast. This is the Halifax International Security Forum: what The Atlantic magazine has called "The Davos of international security." This gathering is the nucleus of some of the world's most established establishment. Peter MacKay is the host. United States Senator and former Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, leads the American delegation. As delegates file through the lobby, with RCMP, police, and security people everywhere, I suddenly notice that the muzak playing in hotel is Leonard Cohen's "The Future".

Harper, Flaherty seemingly at odds over balanced budget date

Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemed to part ways slightly from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who said earlier this week that the federal budget won't be balanced by the government's 2015-16 goal, with the deficit up $5.1 billion to a total of $26.2 billion since the budget was tabled last March.

It will take until 2016-17, Flaherty said, which is two years later than he had projected during the 2011 election campaign.

But Harper said the government still plans to balance the budget before the next federal election, which is set for October 2015, according to the fixed date election law the Conservatives introduced.

Alberta health minister to doctors: Shut up and take your medicine!

When Alberta's most powerful union -- the Alberta Medical Association, which until yesterday represented the province’s 8,250 physicians in fee negotiations with the province -- slammed the government of Premier Alison Redford just a few days before the April 23 provincial election, they really should have thought about the potential reaction they might get.

Yesterday, they got it. Health Minister Fred Horne told the docs, in effect: Here's your medicine. It won't taste very good. Swallow it anyway and call me in the morning!

Prove China spy allegations or 'shut up,' ambassador says

Beijing's representative in Ottawa says Chinese firms are not involved in foreign espionage and he challenges anyone who says otherwise to produce evidence or keep quiet, in a rare interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House.

Zhang Junsai, China's ambassador to Canada, tells host Evan Solomon, "I can assure you that our companies working in other countries are strictly doing business according to the local laws."

Israel bombs Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s headquarters

ASHKELON, ISRAEL—The air is thick with sirens and every few hours a concussive boom tells you why — another Palestinian rocket punched through Israel’s less-than-impervious “Iron Dome,” spreading fear, if not drawing actual blood, in this coastal city that knows the drill so well.

They’ve seen this movie before here in Ashkelon. In 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010, this sleepy town of 120,000 — whose claims to fame include the world’s biggest desalination plant and a brewery cranking out sorrow-drowning Carlsberg and Tuborg by the truckload — has drawn the rockets of Gaza, just 13 kilometres south.

Thermal reaction to Libs poverty cuts

Watch closely when the provincial Liberals switch funds from one program to another. You might just see cash evaporating in the move.

That’s what frontline service providers charge is happening with the Ontario government’s plan to fold the functions of the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) into another initiative come January 2013.

Reality check: Five casino myths dispelled

Is the fix in for a waterfront casino? Hard to quarrel with that theory given the way that Oxford Properties proposal came seemingly out of the blue last Friday (October 12).

I say out of the blue because, it’s not clear Oxford’s plan amounts to a formal proposal at all. By that I mean, an official plan on paper that’s on someone’s desk in the planning department at City Hall. Still waiting to hear back from Oxford on that.

Fertility shock

It’s a common misconception that infertility is suffered by women who have saved childbearing for the final act of their professional career.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. I should know – I’m one statistic among millions. According to the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada, one in six Canadian couples of childbearing age suffer from it and meet with little or no public support.

Dalton McGuinty’s mission failure

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s misfortune was to govern Ontario, and ours to be governed by him, at a time when the province faced excruciating challenges.

McGuinty came of age politically during the 1990s, decade of the New World Order. He embodies that decade’s triumphant neo-liberalism, a paradigm on public service that almost totally upended the one that preceded it.

Community revs for fight against uranium plant

Several hundred people showed up to two neighbourhood meetings held this week in the wake of revelations that the GE-Hitachi plant at 1025 Lansdowne processes uranium into fuel for Canadian nuclear reactors.

It was standing-room-only as residents, concerned about everything from their personal health and safety to the area’s community vibe, peppered politicians, GE-Hitachi officials and environmentalists with questions.

Justice for Savita

This week, the first American study ever to look at what happens to women when they’re denied abortions was released. It’s a fascinating, but not all that surprising, read. The research shows women who seek out abortions and are unable to obtain them fare significantly worse over time than women who are able to procure the procedure. Women who are denied abortions are more likely to end up on welfare, more likely to stay in abusive relationships, and more likely to be emotionally distressed over their pregnancy outcome.

Voting Rights Haven't Gotten Such Attention Since 1965. What Did We Learn?

A little over a week after the presidential election has ended, many voting rights watchers are reflecting on all that we learned through this year’s campaigns: what went right, what went wrong and the unresolved challenges that remain ahead. As for the overall takeaway, Advancement Project director Judith Browne-Dianis wraps it up nicely, saying, “The national conversation around voting rights was amplified like we haven’t seen since 1965.”

Alberta Oilsands: A Driving Force Behind Canada's Economy For Next 25 To 35 Years, Report Says

Canadians need to get with the program and realize how vital Alberta's oilsands are to the economy, says a new report.

Deloitte Canada's report, Gaining Ground in the Sands 2013, says the oilsands are crucial to Canada's prosperity and will drive the country's economy for the next 25 to 30 years.

The report also calls for more national collaboration, more pipelines and dialogue that avoids "a climate of antagonism."

Cyber-Attack On Canada: Ex-CSIS Spy Ray Boisvert Says The Theat Is 'Potentially Devastating'

OTTAWA - A cyber-attack on key infrastructure such as the power grid could be devastating for Canada, says a recently retired intelligence officer.

Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told a gathering of academics and security professionals Friday that a digital assault would mean malfunctioning cash machines, no gas at the pumps and empty store shelves.

Mandatory detention for refugee claimants has already proved to be a failure, critics say

It took two migrant ships and 568 Tamil asylum seekers arriving in B.C. to tip Canada’s refugee policy hard to the right.

Hours after the arrival of the second ship, the Sun Sea, in August of 2010, public safety minister Vic Toews said the federal government “must ensure that our refugee system is not hijacked by criminals or terrorists.”

Why the one per cent has it all

These are not good times. The young graduate with no work in sight. The old fear retirement because their pensions and savings (if they existed in the first place) are no longer sufficient.

The notion of the disappearing middle class is so commonplace that mainstream politicians — from Barack Obama on down — routinely talk of it.

Yet there is plenty of wealth around. Most of us don’t own much of this wealth. But if we’re willing to borrow to the hilt and max out our credit cards, we are allowed — briefly — to take part in the great barbeque.

Intensely political Mennonites should pay for their free speech

My goodness, how the truth can be spun into webs of nonsense. An absurd amount has been written lately about how the government is ostensibly trying to impose censorship on an obscure religious magazine because of that publication’s politics.

If only it were true and that hard-left publications did actually lose some of their generous public finding but, alas, that simply isn’t the case.

So much for that left-right split in the Commons

Could political polarization already be yesterday’s game? This week saw flip-flops by both the Tories and NDP on key policy positions, bringing both parties closer to the political centre — and potentially bringing the Liberal party back into contention for government.

First, the Conservatives released their Economic Update on November 13. Deficits are now forecast to extend into fiscal 2016 — and listen to what Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had to say about it:

“As I have said on many occasions, balanced budgets are not an end in themselves. They are a means to an end, and that end is a better, more prosperous future for all Canadians.”

Canada-EU trade talks tee up tough political choices

Trade negotiations next week between Canada and the European Union will reach a point familiar to anyone who's purchased a new car.

In the beginning, potential buyers sit at a salesperson's desk talking over prices and features. Then, at a critical point in the negotiation, the salesperson steps away to speak to the manager.

Tory riding redesign proposal 'shocking'

OTTAWA -- Former NDP MP Jim Maloway says the Conservatives are trying to change the boundaries of Elmwood-Transcona to make the riding easier for them to win again in the next election.

Maloway represented Elmwood-Transcona from 2008 to 2011. He lost the seat to Conservative Lawrence Toet in 2011 by 300 votes. It was the first time since the riding was created in 1987 it did not elect an NDP MP.

Now Maloway says Toet is working to engineer the riding to make it easier for him to hold on to it in the next election.