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.]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Yves LeBon Transfer: Judge Orders Toews To Accept Request Of Canadian Man In U.S. Prison

OTTAWA - In a highly unusual move, a federal judge has ordered Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to accept the transfer to Canada of a prisoner serving his sentence in a U.S. jail — saying the minister only "paid lip service" to a previous ruling.

Federal Court Justice Luc Martineau has given Toews 45 days to approve the transfer request of Yves LeBon, a Quebec man currently in a Georgia prison for cocaine possession.

It's Beliefs, Not Behaviors, That Need to Be Changed

Most of the commentary in the world's media about the horrible Connecticut event seems to have missed the point -- and until we get the point, not much is likely to change.

There were 114 gun deaths in America in the seven days following Sandy Hook, according to the Twitter feed @GunDeaths. What we need to do if we wish to dramatically reduce such horrific incidents is change beliefs, not behaviors. It is beliefs that create behaviors.

Judge Rules Against Texas In Dispute Over Planned Parenthood

WACO, Texas -- Texas' request to force the U.S. Health and Human Services to continue funding its Women's Health Program was denied Friday, as a judge sided with federal authorities who say the state's exclusion of Planned Parenthood violates HHS guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Walter Smith's ruling won't affect the state's decision to move forward next year with an entirely state-funded program, even though the state was also seeking to keep its federal funding, said Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. But Planned Parenthood, which serves more than 40 percent of the low-income women in Texas' program, questioned whether the state's efforts would be effective without federal funding or its clinics.

Child Gun Deaths Nationwide Number Nearly 6 Newtown Massacres

Police reports about the final moments of Demetrius Cruz’s life include the kind of information that is at once difficult to fathom and yet somehow part of the ordinary but tragic tapestry of life in the U.S.

Cruz was riding in a car with his cousin on a Denver street Saturday when the driver of a white car started bumping, following and then chasing the teens' car. Cruz called his aunt. He was scared. Someone in the white car fired several shots, striking and killing Cruz. He was just 15 years old. That same night in Kansas City, Mo., a bullet sliced through the body of 4-year-old Aydan Perea while he was sitting in a car with his dad. Police say Perea was the innocent and unsuspecting victim of a gang drive by. Days later, on Tuesday, Dalton Williams, 16, was killed in Pierre, S.D. with a shotgun wielded by a friend after a dispute over a paintball game.

NRA Press Conference: Wayne LaPierre Calls For Armed Police Officers At Every School

WASHINGTON -- The nation's largest gun-rights lobby is calling for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings."

The National Rifle Association broke its silence Friday on last week's shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead.

Teen Marijuana Use May Show No Effect On Brain Tissue, Unlike Alcohol, Study Finds

A teen who consumes alcohol is likely to have reduced brain tissue health, but a teen who uses marijuana is not, according to a new study.

Researchers scanned the brains of 92 adolescents, ages 16 to 20, before and after an 18-month period. During that year and a half, half of the teens -- who already had extensive alcohol and marijuana-use histories -- continued to use marijuana and alcohol in varying amounts. The other half abstained or kept consumption minimal, as they had throughout adolescence.

U.S. Shooting Deaths Since Sandy Hook Top 100

WASHINGTON -- The night after Sandy Hook, a gunman pulled behind a car in Kansas City's east side and opened fire, striking 4-year-old Aydan Perea in the head. The boy had just gotten into his father's car.

“He was innocent and he was just lifeless,” said the first bystander to reach Aydan. “All my life I’ve never seen nothing so devastating. I’m unable to eat, I’m unable to sleep because I see this baby in my head."

Dead Reckoning -- “Zero Dark Thirty” and “This Is Forty.”

In “Zero Dark Thirty,” the masterly new movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, a C.I.A. field agent has an Al Qaeda operative in his grip. The agent, whose name is Dan (Jason Clarke), a tall, handsome guy with a bushy brown beard, subjects the prisoner to “enhanced interrogation”—a full complement of pain, naked humiliation, and waterboarding. “This is what defeat looks like,” Dan tells the operative, who is named Ammar (and is played with sympathy by the French actor Reda Kateb). These words are spoken at a C.I.A. “black site,” in Pakistan, in 2003. But most of the movie is about American defeat—the failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, as Al Qaeda pulls off attacks in Saudi Arabia, Britain, and Pakistan. “Zero Dark Thirty” chronicles a long trail of frustration, leading to fragmentary gains and, at last, to success, on the night of May 1, 2011: Operation Neptune’s Spear, a Navy SEALs siege of bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, which is so perfectly executed that it almost defies normal skepticism about the way life works. The virtue of “Zero Dark Thirty,” however, is that it pays close attention to the way life does work; it combines ruthlessness and humanity in a manner that is paradoxical and disconcerting yet satisfying as art. Ammar may be working for Al Qaeda, but he’s also a human being, and he’s suffering. Yet, in attempting to show, in a mainstream movie, the reprehensibility of torture, and what was done in our name, the filmmakers seem to have conflated events, and in this they have generated a sore controversy: the chairs of two Senate committees have said that the information used to find bin Laden was not uncovered through waterboarding. Do such scenes hurt the movie? Not as art; they are expertly done, without flinching from the horror of the acts and without exploitation. But they damage the movie as an alleged authentic account. Bigelow and Boal—the team behind “The Hurt Locker”—want to claim the authority of fact and the freedom of fiction at the same time, and the contradiction mars an ambitious project.

Should Teachers Carry Guns?

There are many things we ask of teachers and students. In New York, we are in the middle of a fight about teacher evaluations—the metrics used, their weight in promotion and firing. Since the shooting in Sandy Hook, there has been talk about not only what it means to stand in front of a class but what it’s like to keep six-year-olds silent in a closet with a gunman steps away, or, like Victoria Soto, a teacher laid to rest Wednesday, to die trying to protect them. Paul Simon sang “Sounds of Silence” at Vicki’s funeral—his sister-in-law knew the Soto family; Derek Jeter called her mother, because he’d heard she was a Yankees fan. Those are fitting tributes. What is confounding, though, is the idea, put forward by gun advocates, that this all would have been better if only Soto and her colleagues had been carrying guns, too—if they had served as field officers in some sort of counterattack.

Why G.O.P. Extremists Are a Danger to the Country

You think that your job and your workmates can be annoying? Put yourself in the socks of John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Last night, according to an account at Politico, the G.O.P. leader was reduced to standing in front of the House Republican Conference, the members of which had just torpedoed his “Plan B” tax plan, and reciting a prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Ex-finance minister says it’s time for Alberta to talk tax hikes

The architect of this year’s provincial budget says Alberta’s current financial woes show it’s time for Albertans to talk taxes.

Former Tory finance minister Ron Liepert, who retired in April, said Thursday he hopes the Progressive Conservative government will have the courage to consider its revenue options in the face of a mounting budget crisis.

Prison pizza party ban hurts charities, local restaurants

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is being painted as a grinch after he put an end to inmates occasionally spending their own money to order food from outside prisons.

With a warden’s approval, inmate groups over the years have received permission to use their own money to order outside food such as pizza and fried chicken. These food drive nights also doubled as fundraisers for local charities and relief efforts such as Doctors Without Borders and victims of hurricanes and earthquakes.

StatsCan report shows new historical lows in EI coverage

The painful toll that job loss and unemployment can unleash on Canadian families has traditionally been managed with Canada's once quite functional Employment Insurance (EI) program. However, Statistics Canada's EI report for October, confirms that government policy have produced new lows in Employment Insurance coverage of the unemployed.

Last month's report showed that September coverage fell to a new historical low of 30.5 per cent. Some speculated that it was an aberration, but the October report confirms that we have indeed entered an new era as the rate of EI coverage for the unemployed came in at a mere 31.8 per cent, the second lowest in more than 30 years (seasonally unadjusted). The trend is clear in the data (see graph) as we are witnessing the destruction of a once effective social safety net. There are strong seasonal factors in EI claims, but the trend line in the chart below clearly shows we are sinking to new lows in coverage for this program.

National chief urges Canadians to 'stand with us'

Hundreds of First Nations protesters waved flags, chanted slogans and shook a collective fist at the federal government as they gathered on Parliament Hill to put Canada on notice they would be "idle no more."

More than 1,000 protesters, a group stretching several city blocks, marched through the streets of the capital Friday after meeting with Theresa Spence, the chief of northern Ontario's troubled Attawapiskat First Nation, who is on a hunger strike.

First Nations groups hold day of protest against Tory government policies

OTTAWA—Chief Theresa Spence was not on Parliament Hill but the few hundred supporters who turned out in the slush and the snow to amplify her demands tried to cheer loudly enough for her to hear them.

“I’ll be honest with you. She is getting weak, but strong in spirit,” Danny Metatawabin, an elder and close supporter of Spence from Attawapiskat, the Cree community she leads in northern Ontario, told those gathered in Ottawa on Friday afternoon.

Playing Taxes Hold ’Em

A few years back, there was a boom in poker television — shows in which you got to watch the betting and bluffing of expert card players. Since then, however, viewers seem to have lost interest. But I have a suggestion: Instead of featuring poker experts, why not have a show featuring poker incompetents — people who fold when they have a strong hand or don’t know how to quit while they’re ahead?

 On second thought, that show already exists. It’s called budget negotiations, and it’s now in its second episode.

Boehner Budget Failure Followed Pressure From Conservative Groups

WASHINGTON -- Thursday night's failure by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to garner enough support among House Reopublicans for his fiscal cliff "Plan B" was a major setback for his role as speaker. It was also a clear example of the growing influence of outside groups over the GOP caucus.

"We were on the phone all day long today, talking to members of Congress," said Mike Needham, executive director of Heritage Action, the political arm of the powerful conservative nonprofit Heritage Foundation. "I think we definitely changed people's minds today, absolutely."

Boehner’s Choice

Last night, the House of Representatives declined to take up Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B”—a measure that would have simply extended the Bush tax cuts on everyone who earns under $1 million annually, and put off the rest of the fiscal cliff issues off until a later date.

Up until, Boehner had been negotiating a deal with Obama, and doing a pretty decent job, from his point of view. He got Obama off the $250,000 benchmark for extending the Bush tax cuts, and up to $400,000. He got Obama to scrap his demand for a permanent debt-ceiling fix. He got Obama to propose a Social Security benefit cut, which has enraged progressives.

Boehner Sabotaged by Lunatic Wing of Republican Party

Even after larding up his Plan B bill with lots of goodies, John Boehner apparently couldn't get his Republican caucus to support it. So he's now pulled the bill and adjourned the House, promising only to return after Christmas "when needed."

This is truly an epic fail. Boehner couldn't even get a piece of obvious political theater passed. He's completely unable to control the lunatic wing of his own party. So what's next?

Russian Adoption Ban: Can Canadians Still Adopt From Russia?

In light of the news this week that the Russian parliament gave their initial approval to ban Americans from adopting Russian children, many Canadians are wondering whether that's the case in their country as well.

For the Russian ban on American adoption, the motives were reportedly political, in retaliation for recent human rights legislation, which will have no impact on Canada.

Idle No More vs. Bill C-45: First Nations Leaders Launch National Protest In Ottawa As Movement Grows

OTTAWA - Hundreds of First Nations protesters waved flags, chanted slogans and shook a collective fist at the federal government Friday as they gathered on Parliament Hill to put Canada on notice they would be "idle no more."

More than 1,000 protesters, a group stretching several city blocks, marched through the streets of the capital after meeting with Theresa Spence, the chief of northern Ontario's troubled Attawapiskat First Nation, who is on a hunger strike.

Teachers carry guns in tiny Texas town

In the tiny Texas town of Harrold, children and their parents don't give much thought to safety at the community's lone school mostly because some of the teachers are carrying concealed weapons.

The nearest sheriff's office is 30 minutes away, and people tend to know and trust one another. So the school board voted to let teachers bring guns to school.

"We don't have money for a security guard, but this is a better solution," Superintendent David Thweatt said. "A shooter could take out a guard or officer with a visible, holstered weapon, but our teachers have master's degrees, are older and have had extensive training. And their guns are hidden. We can protect our children."

Aboriginal leaders hold national protest in Ottawa demanding change

OTTAWA - Hundreds of First Nations protesters waved flags, chanted slogans and shook a collective fist at the federal government Friday as they gathered on Parliament Hill to put Canada on notice they would be "idle no more."

More than 1,000 protesters, a group stretching several city blocks, marched through the streets of the capital after meeting with Theresa Spence, the chief of northern Ontario's troubled Attawapiskat First Nation, who is on a hunger strike.

Give Canada’s working poor a raise

When Ottawa slams the door, Ken Battle opens a window. When Queen’s Park yanks down the sash, Sherri Torjman approaches the municipalities, the private sector and the public to spearhead the fight against poverty.

They refuse to give up. That is what has kept the Caledon Institute on Social Policy going for 20 years. Battle is its president; Torjman is vice-president.

The think-tank produces ideas that are pragmatic, suited to the tenor of the times and compatible with the objectives of the party in power.

Why ‘Idle No More’ is gaining strength, and why all Canadians should care

In a Dec. 16 editorial, the Star rightly called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with Chief Theresa Spence, now in her 10th day of a hunger strike. It rightly drew attention to the ongoing housing crisis at Attawapiskat First Nation. Yet, it missed the big picture.

Spence’s hunger strike is not just about Attawapiskat. It is not just about housing or school funding. And it is not just about the omnibus budget Bill C-45, which eliminates federally protected waterways and facilitates the sale of reserve lands without consultation. It is about all of that and more.

Hollow talk, half-lies: how Harper deals with First Nations

It’s been about 150 years since General Phillip Sheridan mused that the only good Indian was a dead Indian.

Thankfully, Canada never got down as low as Sheridan’s brutal clearances of the old hunting grounds in the West after the Civil War. But despite token efforts to lay a kindly cultural veneer over the fact that we are all living on stolen land, this country continues to have its own profound failures on this file.

Harkats head back to Supreme Court after 10 years of secret trial nightmare

Most couples sitting in courtrooms are there for separation and divorce proceedings. Not so Sophie and Mohamed (Moe) Harkat, who have spent years in court because they desperately wish to stay together. The Ottawa couple have spent the past decade resisting with all their might the attempt to make their marriage a threesome by a secretive party who, in a manner that most relationship counsellors would mark as a major red flag moment, refuses to be open and honest, all the while it questions the authenticity of the Harkats' love for one another.

Toews an ill-timed Johnny-on-the-spot justifying imposition of U.S.-style gun-show anarchy

What a perfect way to throw a little red meat to your gun-nut money machine!

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's so-called Conservatives -- of whom it cannot be said too many times are radicals bent on remaking Canada in the image of the worst aspects of the United States -- managed to hit on a moment of worldwide horror at the slaughter of 20 small children and six grownups in the United States to further weaken our country's gun laws, which are already crumbling thanks to this government's avarice and cynicism, by allowing more chaos to reign at Canadian "gun shows."

Wave of support for Idle No More grows across Canada and beyond

With thousands expected to join a rally Friday in Ottawa, a wave of support for the Idle No More movement for Indigenous rights is spreading rapidly across Canada and beyond.

In addition to the large demonstration in Ottawa, where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is now on Day 10 of her hunger strike, solidarity actions will take place in many locations across Canada and around the world. With support rallies as far afield as Egypt and Los Angeles, December 21 is shaping up as a global day of action.

Pope ready to ally with other religions to fight gay marriage

VATICAN CITY- Pope Benedict on Friday signalled the Vatican was ready to forge alliances with other religions against gay marriage, saying the family was threatened “to its foundations” by attempts to change its “true structure.”

The pope’s latest denunciation of gay marriage came in a Christmas address to Vatican officials in which he blended religion, philosophy, anthropology and sociology to illustrate the position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Premier Dalton McGuinty disappears into mystery

An aura of mystery hovers around Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. There’s two words I doubt you ever expected to hear together (the ones starting with M). Is it possible he needs an intervention? Not a high-rent one like the invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan: a trashy intervention like you see on reality TV. He did say he needs a hug. Is that a cry for help or what?

Polls suggests Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak’s right turn is not helping with voters

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s swing right appears to have his polling numbers going in the wrong direction.

While the Conservatives still lead Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats and Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals, some of Hudak’s new policies seem to be hurting his party, the latest Forum Research survey shows.

Fiscal cliff: Obama says he is 'ready and willing' to get a deal

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama says he is "ready and willing" to get a big package done to deal with the "fiscal cliff," and says there's no reason not to protect middle-class Americans from tax increases.

Obama says he spoke Friday with House Speaker John Boehner and met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He says Congress should pass a plan to extend tax breaks for the middle class and extend unemployment benefits.

Obama says no one can get 100 per cent of what they want and there are "real consequences" to how they deal with the across-the-board tax increases and steep spending cuts scheduled to kick in Jan. 1.

Economists fear the combination could deliver a blow to the U.S. economy.

Original Article
Source: the star
Author: Jim Kuhnhenn

NRA calls for gun-toting police officers in every U.S. school in wake of Newtown school massacre

WASHINGTON—The powerful U.S. gun rights lobby went on the offensive on Friday arguing that schools should have armed guards, on a day that Americans remembered the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre with a moment of silence.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, noting that banks and airports are patrolled by armed guards, while schools typically are not.

Erskine Bowles Blames Both Sides In Fiscal Cliff Talks Like A Good 'Bipartisanship Cult' Member

Over at Daily Intel, Jonathan Chait dings Erskine Bowles, correctly, for succumbing to the same Beltway dyskinesia that you often see in famous columns from David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, and the rest of the gang of bipartisan Grand Bargaineers. Those who suffer from this malady chiefly present with some well-known symptoms. First, they tend to take President Barack Obama's major contributions to the field of gentlemanly compromise and throw them into the memory hole, thus maintaining the illusion that the government's failures to enact long-term budget deals and other attendant reforms are the fault of both parties, and not simply because the GOP (which would ordinarily leap at the chance to take Obama up on his deals and then run a million victory laps up and down Independence Avenue) has become a mouth-foaming band of lycanthropes in recent years.

Hunger And Homelessness Rise In U.S. Cities: Report

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Across the United States, the number of hungry and homeless people is growing, and budget fights at the federal level are threatening the aid many need to survive, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said on Thursday.

Amidst the holiday season of family feasts and corporate dinners, the mayors released a report that found requests for emergency food assistance rose in 21 out of the 25 cities it surveyed in 2012 and remained at the same level in three. More than half the cities said homelessness increased.

John Boehner To Obama On Fiscal Cliff: Act On Plan B Or Get 'Serious'

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) put the onus on President Barack Obama on Thursday to come up with a “serious” fiscal plan while expressing confidence that he could deliver on whatever promises he makes in cutting a deal with Obama.

The Ohio Republican’s comments came as the House GOP moved ahead with its "Plan B" approach to averting the so-called fiscal cliff, with votes scheduled on the measure Thursday evening. The plan extends Bush-era tax rates for people earning $1 million or less a year.

As the ANC Votes to Support BDS, a New Film Compares Life in Palestine to Apartheid South Africa

As the African National Congress voted Thursday to support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel known as BDS, declaring it was "unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel," we look at a new film that examines the apartheid analogy commonly used to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Roadmap to Apartheid" is narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning Alice Walker and puts archival footage and interviews with South Africans alongside similar material that shows what life is like for Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and inside Israel. The documentary has just been released to the public after a year-long film festival run, where it won numerous awards. We are joined by its co-directors, South African-born Ana Nogueira and Israeli-born Eron Davidson, both longtime journalists.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Suspicious Minds: On Timothy Melley

In 1994, the fiction writer Charles Baxter published “Dysfunctional Narratives,” an essay in which he claims to have uncovered “the greatest influence on American fiction for the last twenty years.” His argument is an unorthodox one: Joyce, Woolf, Proust, Beckett, Kafka, Hemingway and Faulkner aren’t mentioned at all, and the person in question, it turns out, isn’t even a novelist, though he did write books (ones full of sentences that are “leaden and dulling, juridical-minded to the last, impersonal but not without savor,” and that “present the reader with camouflage masked as objective thought”). This person’s influence on America fiction, however, is traceable neither to his books nor their prose style, but rather to his apparent addiction to deniability—that noxious brew of disavowal, compartmentalization, structured ignorance and deception-as-policy through which negative outcomes become all but impossible to blame on anyone in particular. The person Baxter has in mind is none other than Richard Nixon, who brought the rhetoric of deniability to the public stage as no one had before, and who made its quintessential phrase—“mistakes were made”—a staple of American discourse about decisions and their consequences.

The Great Walmart Walkout

The morning after Thanksgiving, as many Americans were sleeping or shopping, Walmart workers were striking. In Hanover, Maryland, a handful of strikers were joined by hundreds of supporters for an 8:30 am rally in the cold. Smiling, uniformed, ten-foot-tall cardboard cutouts of employees were emblazoned with the workers’ grievances: poverty wages, miserly benefits, dignity denied. The head of the labor group Jobs With Justice blasted Walmart for abusing workers and pushing public school privatization. Then the crowd marched, two-by-two and 400 strong, through a shopping-center parking lot. When they reached the outer edge of Walmart’s property, police were waiting to block them. “We’re just nervous,” said striker Barbara Elliot. “It’s new, what we’re doing, but we’re tired…We’re doing it for other generations, too.”

Defense Bill Includes Broadened Version of Todd Akin's Anti-Gay Provision

A defense spending bill set to become law contains a provision that could allow discrimination against gay and lesbian service members and other minorities in the military, legal experts warned Wednesday. The controversial measure stems from a proposal originally introduced by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) the Republican Senate candidate from Missouri whose remarks about "legitimate rape" launched a nationwide controversy that doomed his candidacy.

Enbridge East-West Pipeline: Vermont City Of Burlington Opposes Oil Sands Plan, Calls For Referendum

BURLINGTON, Vt. — People in a quiet New England state best known for dairy cows, maple syrup and mountain scenery are gearing up to fight an oilsands pipeline from Alberta.

The city of Burlington passed resolutions this week opposing the transport of oilsands bitumen through Vermont.

Ontario Mayors Denounce 'Dangerous' Packaging Deregulation

Mayors from across southwestern Ontario met Thursday in Toronto to denounce the deregulation of food packaging and demand the minister of agriculture to meet with them to discuss the matter.

The federal government plans to deregulated package sizes. But the 20 mayors worry that will put Ontario food processors at a disadvantage to their American counterparts and cause what processors previously called "massive job loss."

Idle No More Members March In Montreal To Protest Omnibus Bill

Dozens of members of the Kahnawake Mohawk community blocked traffic today in Montreal as part of the national Idle No More movement, in protest of a federal omnibus budget bill that includes changes to laws on the environment.

Supporters of the movement say they are concerned about the effects of Bill C-45. First Nations groups are upset the legislative changes were made without consultation and could dramatically affect how waterways are protected.

Kenney calls for federal investigation into 'recruitment fees' for temporary foreign workers

OTTAWA — Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday he will call for an investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency into allegations that a B.C. businessman charged thousands of dollars to Chinese nationals who wanted to work at one of his two fast-food franchises.

Kenney also urged the B.C. government to toughen provincial legislation, which provides for a maximum fine of just $500 under the Employment Standards Act for employers who illegally charge fees in exchange for jobs.

Quebec won't back down on gun registry

QUEBEC — As U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans for a new gun control initiative in the wake of last week’s elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Quebec government says it has no intention of backing down from its fight with the federal government to create a provincial gun registry.

Even though Ottawa has abolished its gun registry and destroyed the data for the rest of Canada, the registry lives on for Quebec residents, thanks to a court decision Sept. 10 granting a reprieve for the Quebec portion of the registry.

Strong conservation laws and policies could foster green growth, Peter Kent told

OTTAWA – Strong environment laws and policies could foster growth for Canadian businesses in a rapidly expanding green economy, Environment Minister Peter Kent was told in an internal government memo obtained by Postmedia News.

“The clean technology sector in Canada looks to governments to overcome existing barriers to allow it to realize its economic and environmental potential,” said the memo, sent by Kent’s former deputy minister, Paul Boothe, a few weeks before the last federal budget. “Environment Canada… leads the green growth (and green economy) file for the government of Canada and plays an important role in fostering clean technology innovation through well-designed environmental regulations and policies.”

Pierre Poilievre wants to bring right-to-work legislation to Canada

OTTAWA—Meet the young man who would be the father of right-to-work legislation in Canada.

If you think Pierre Poilievre is a young dad, at age 33, he has the prime minister’s confidence and his ear, has been rightly tagged one of the most powerful persons in the national capital, and is already in his fourth term as the MP for Nepean—Carleton.

The Stephen Harper government might dismiss suggestions that right-to-work legislation is on their agenda and Labour Minister Lisa Raitt may say there is a different culture in Canada, but there is nothing stealthy about Poilievre’s intentions as he spells them out over a pre-Christmas cappuccino.

Justin Trudeau-led Liberals would win strong minority, poll says, while Marc Garneau-led Liberals would finish third

Liberal leadership frontrunner Justin Trudeau would lead his party back into power with a strong minority if an election were held today, while rival Marc Garneau would leave the party lagging in third place, a new poll suggests.

Four in 10 Canadians would vote for a Trudeau-led Liberal party, the Forum Poll for the National Post says, a statistic that hasn’t changed since the research company began polling on the possibility.

Ten activist success stories from 2012, and some tools to recreate them

A Harper majority. Stifling anti-union legislation. Provincial unrest and austerity across the country. At a glance, it seems like activists don't have a lot to celebrate this holiday season. However, in these trying times, organizers, Indigenous people, workers, youth and ordinary citizens have come together for the common good.

Inspiring actions have touched communities and emboldened movements with historic victories. Here are our top 10 activist successes in 2012 -- and the tools they used to get there.

Long-gun firearms sales 'open to abuse,' says Ontario's Chief Firearms Officer

PARLIAMENT HILL—Seven million rifles and shotguns in Canada have “dropped off the radar” following destruction of all the registry data and elimination of mandatory sales records for gun dealers and stores, says a chief firearms officer who lost a battle over rifle and shotgun sales with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last June.

In the wake of a gunman’s massacre of 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, Ontario Chief Firearms Officer Chris Wyatt told The Hill Times elimination of the long-gun registry, along with regulations later passed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) and his Cabinet, will make it virtually impossible to trace long guns, including powerful semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, once they leave store shelves and gun dealer shops.

Lobster pinches on menus despite record-low prices

People in Atlantic Canada can scoop up a lobster for as little as three dollars a pound these days, but restaurants aren't serving the same deals.

The region is seeing a glut of lobster this year, sparking roadside sellers to offer their product for $5. If people go directly to the wharf, they can buy a lobster for a record-low $3.

Hudak proposes ‘bond’ to raise money for social services

Cash-strapped Ontario should let public-private partnerships raise money privately to deliver social services that are now the responsibility of the province, Tory Leader Tim Hudak says.

Hudak said Thursday that one way to achieve this is through “social impact” bonds or “pay for success” bonds popular in other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Massachusetts and New York City.

Canadian passports to cost more in 2013

OTTAWA—The cost of getting a Canadian passport is going up significantly in the new year.

Without the fee increases, Passport Canada would not be able to maintain current operations, let alone offer security-enhanced travel documents, the agency says.

New regulations posted this week confirm the cost of a five-year passport will increase to $120 from $87.