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, December 17, 2012

Tom Mulcair entrenches the NDP as alternative to Conservatives

OTTAWA—Tom Mulcair knows the first rule of the political battleground is never underestimate your adversary.

So it should not be a surprise when, during a recent conversation in his Centre Block office, he raises, unsolicited, the good, solid “branding” of the Conservative party and pays tribute to the intelligence and debating prowess of Stephen Harper.

Freedom Of The Press Foundation Launches To Support WikiLeaks, Increase Transparency

NEW YORK -- Not long after WikiLeaks began publishing leaked diplomatic cables in November 2010, the anti-secrecy organization ran into trouble raising money.

Increased government scrutiny and criticism from lawmakers prompted several companies, including MasterCard, Visa and PayPal, to stop processing donations to the non-profit organization. WikiLeaks eventually suspended publication due to the "bank blockade."

'Central Park Five' Documentary On New York Justice System Breakdown Pulls Filmmaker Into Legal Battle

The documentary begins in New York’s Central Park, with a large, hazy moon poking through a network of bare tree branches, followed by a sobering reminder of what happened there: On April 19, 1989, passersby discovered a jogger, beaten, raped and left for dead, in this section of the park.

The documentary goes on to recount what happened next: Five teenagers – all of them either black or Latino, and from Harlem -- were convicted of the crime, sent to prison for nearly a decade or more and released, only to later see all of their convictions vacated in 2002. A serial rapist who happened to cross paths in prison with one of the wrongly convicted teens, confessed to the crime. His DNA matched evidence found in the park. No physical evidence was ever found conclusively linking the five teens to the rape and assault.

Kevin Page, Huffington Post Canada's News Story Of 2012

Editor’s Note: In selecting our news story of the year, there were many more obvious choices. The Quebec student protests, which began over a tuition-fee hike, brought thousands of people to the streets, red squares on their lapels, in one of the largest, continuing mass demonstrations in Canadian history. In the end, a government fell and Canadians were reminded of the power of protest and civil disobedience. It was also the year of Thomas Mulcair, who won the NDP leadership and lifted support for the party across the country, until Justin Trudeau changed course on his own leadership ambitions and sparked new life in the moribund federal Liberal Party. The year saw the biggest food recall in Canadian history, a stunning CRTC decision that stopped telco giant BCE in its tracks, and enough mayoral hijinks to shake one’s faith in municipal governance.

Idle No More: First Nations activist movement grows across Canada

First Nations activists are gearing up for a week of rallies as a growing grassroots movement known as Idle No More continues to draw communities across the country together thanks to a powerful presence online.

Supporters say they are upset about the effects of the Harper government's policies on aboriginal communities. They want First Nations to be recognized as sovereign stakeholders in decisions affecting the country's land and resources.

Lying lies and the politicians who tell them

The F-35 fiasco (to use the alliteration journalists love) once again raises the question of the role lying plays in our politics.

Without thinking about it much, most of us are pretty sanctimonious about the lies politicians tell, even though we’d probably concede that absolutely truthful politics is an impossible dream. And collectively, as voters, we are actually quite choosy about which lies we bother to punish.

Andrew Coyne, among others, has done a very good job at presenting the government’s litany of deception over the F-35, and made his argument, once again, about why voters should care. But I suspect that, once again, they may not.

Gathering as Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry report is released

Date: Monday, December 17, 2012 - 8:30am - 2:30pm

On Monday December 17th, the Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry report by Wally Oppal will be released by the provincial government to the public.

Monday December 17th from 8:30 am till 2 pm
In the courtyard between the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue and Delta Vancouver Suites.
(courtyard on Seymour Street between 550 and 580 West Hastings)
Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories
Bring drums and candles.

Egypt’s Referendum Clears 1st Round, But Critics Seek Re-Vote After Charges of Rigged Polls

Egyptian voters headed to the polls on Saturday in a referendum on a controversial draft constitution. According to unofficial preliminary results, the document passed the first round with 57 percent of the vote with a turnout of just 31 percent. A second round is scheduled for this Saturday in remaining areas. A coalition of human rights groups has called for a revote, citing thousands of complaints of violations at the polls, including a lack of full judicial supervision.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

It's time to start talking about work

Back in 1971, when I had my first job out of university as a CBC radio public affairs producer, one of the "items" we featured on the early morning show was called "Shop Talk." It was a nationally syndicated three minute exploration of labour issues -- looking at the world of work, labour relations, investment and the technology which affected work.

To be sure it was pretty minor in the scheme of things but there were also labour reporters on most of the big city newspapers. In those more rational days the economy was actually seen as serving people, not the other way round, and the labour beat explored how well workers and communities were faring.

What Julian Fantino needs to learn about international development

The learning curve is awesomely steep and must be carried out in the full glare of media and public attention. What's worse, you can be 100 per cent certain there are hordes of people who know the issues better than you ever will. And it's often the international ministries that are most intimidating for new ministers who typically may have little background in their new universe. Some -- many -- never make the grade. That's why a wise new international minister will say little publicly until he/she has really mastered the file, and will then be extremely humble and modest. They must remember how much they don't know.

In July, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Julian Fantino the Minister of International Co-operation. Mr. Fantino's entire adult life had been spent as a police officer in Ontario. He had, literally, a world to discover before he could master the hugely complex and controversial subject of international development and co-operation.

A step backwards for workers' rights in Saskatchewan

The changes to proposed labour legislation in the new Saskatchewan Employment Act aren't as bad as they could have been, but they still represent a step backwards for workers' rights. And one of the reforms unveiled last week is a particularly mean-spirited attack against some of the most vulnerable workers.

In May the Saskatchewan government released a consultation paper that included a slew of proposals that would have contravened International Labour Organization and Supreme Court decisions. Fortunately, the government listened to the labour movement's protests and dismissed the more extreme suggestions. Still, most of the changes in the proposed legislation weaken workers' rights.

New rules for state-owned companies could mean foreign investment shortfall

The feds are getting high marks for their handling of the Nexen takeover, but observers say the government will need to use policy to make up for a potential drop in foreign investment by state-owned enterprises.

The Harper government has clearly signalled its preference for private foreign investment after announcing that it plans to introduce new rules aimed at limiting controlling ownership by foreign state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the oil sands.

FIPA critics warn of chilling effect on environmental law in Canada

Opponents of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) warn that the deal could prevent governments from strengthening environmental protection laws in the future, even though the agreement states that environmental protection in the public interest does not constitute state expropriation.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C) warned that if the federal government proceeds with ratifying they investor protection treaty there will be a “chilling effect” on environmental protection laws in Canada.

F-35 process ‘corrupted’ from the beginning, says Williams

Federal bureaucrats are the ones who “hijacked” the F-35 procurement process, but Cabinet ministers went along without questioning it when they should have in order to avoid the controversy the government is facing today on acquiring 65 stealth fighter jets at a newly-projected cost of $45.8-billion over 42 years, say some critics.

“We know that the fiasco certainly started by the bureaucrats hijacking the process,” said Alan Williams, former assistant deputy minister for procurement in National Defence and a leading critic of the government’s F-35 procurement process.

Onex Corp. warns Toronto councillors of casino perils, eyes Markham as location

While U.S. casino giants eagerly woo Toronto, Bay Street buyout firm Onex Corp. is playing a different game.

Onex, with holdings including the Las Vegas Tropicana casino-hotel and four Alberta casinos, has hired former city councillor Kyle Rae and Dave McCleary of Strategy Corp. to lobby councillors

Instead of urging them to put out the welcome mat for a downtown casino, the Onex lobbyists are highlighting potential downsides and pouring cold water on predictions of a revenue and jobs bonanza in a city staff report.

Open letter to Stephen Harper from AFN: Canada has not upheld its responsibilities to First Nations

This urgent open letter to the Prime Minister and the Governor General of Canada was issued earlier today. For all of's coverage of the recent Idle No More actions, please visit our Indigenous Rights issues page.

Open letter on behalf of the First Nations leaders to the Right Honourable Governor General David Johnston and the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper:

On behalf of the National Executive of the Assembly of First Nations, we write today regarding an urgent matter requiring immediate attention.  As First Nations leaders from coast-to-coast-to coast, those with inherent rights and title and those with whom the Crown has entered into Treaty, we collectively raise our voices about the critical situation facing First Nations.

Strikes called for Halton, Bluewater and Algoma schools

Three more Ontario school boards will experience strikes at their elementary schools next week, joining scheduled strikes in the Hamilton area and parts of northern Ontario on Monday and in Toronto and seven other school boards on Tuesday.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario announced that teachers will not be in the classroom in the Halton, Bluewater and Algoma boards on Wednesday.

Leaked IPCC Draft Report: Recent Warming Is Manmade, Cloud Feedback Is Positive, Inaction Is Suicidal

Ultra-conservative report still concludes sea level rise could reach 6 inches a decade by century’s end! Deniers duped by leaker’s blunder.

Figure SPM.6.a. Warming in two IPCC scenarios reveals humanity’s choice. With aggressive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (RCP 2.6 with 443 ppm of CO2 in 2100), warming is modest and adaptation is plausible. With continued inaction (RCP 8.5 with 936 ppm in 2100), warming is a catastrophic and unmanageable 10°F over much of Earth’s habited and arable land — and more than 15°F over the Arctic. This projection ignores many key amplifying feedbacks, such as the release of permafrost carbon, which would likely lead to far greater warming.

A small window of opportunity to confront climate change in B.C.

When confronted with a  letter from 200 climate scientists (including B.C. Green candidate Andrew Weaver), academics, and environmental groups, Ann Marie Hann, president of the Coal Association of Canada, is reported as saying “there is a small window for Canada to potentially take advantage [to ship more coal] of the growing opportunities in Asia.”

Increasingly loud warnings by scientists and business leaders about the climate crisis suggest the real small window of opportunity is dealing aggressively with climate change. The leaders of the world’s countries just ended two weeks of meetings at the Doha Climate Change Conference. The news is not good. The summit was “another summit of disagreement and displeasure.”