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, January 19, 2013

The questionable virtue of patience

Is patience still a virtue if, while waiting for justice, you die?

It is a question posed most poignantly by hunger strikers on Victoria Island and articulated in the frustration of Indigenous people across the country who see drastically shortened life expectancy, dramatically higher rates of terminal illnesses, and the federal government’s efforts at extinguishment take their toll every day.

It is a question to pose to the Harper government, its hired guns at the ironically named Department of Justice, and those who scream for the rule of law to be applied in only one direction.

The Great Bear Rainforest: Carbon store or carbon story?

The provincial government, First Nations and environmental organizations alike have all hailed it as an ecological triumph and a shining beacon of a new economic order based on conservation principles.

Yet when it comes to talking openly about one of the hallmarks of that emerging economy -- a project that cashes in on the carbon-storing capacity of trees in the Great Bear Rainforest -- not one of the principles is anxious to talk.

Stephen Harper’s environment watchdog to resign after series of stinging reports

OTTAWA – The federal environment watchdog, Scott Vaughan, is resigning after nearly five years on the job and a series of stinging reports that have occasionally drawn criticism from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

“He never expressed frustration to me, but he wouldn’t be mortal if he had not been frustrated and insulted,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May on learning the news. “I think that he was treated with disrespect.”

Toshiba Nuclear Reactor For Oil Sands To Be Operational By 2020: Reports

Toshiba Corporation has developed a small nuclear reactor to power oilsands extraction in Alberta and hopes to have it operational by 2020, according to news reports from Japan.

The Daily Yomiuri reports Toshiba is building the reactor at the request of an unnamed oilsands company.

The reactor would generate between one per cent and 5 per cent as much energy as produced by a typical nuclear power plant, and would not need refueling for 30 years. It would be used to heat water in order to create the steam used to extract bitumen from the oil sands.

Racist Reactions To Idle No More Prompt Criticism Of Harper's Silence

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is fostering hatred of aboriginals across the country by failing to condemn racist reactions to the Idle No More movement, says a women's group.

The accusation came Friday as Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs announced that the Assembly of First Nations had approved a resolution renewing calls for a meeting with Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston on Jan. 24.

Alberta Health Queue-Jumping Inquiry Hears Donors Rewarded

CALGARY - Three doctors have testified about an elaborate queue-jumping scheme that saw deep-pocket donors of the University of Calgary rewarded by being sent to the front of the line for cancer screening at a public clinic.

Dr. Jonathan Love, a Calgary gastroenterologist, testified Friday he tried to stop the practice by flagging it to colleagues and superiors.

Canada Looks To Obama For Leadership On Oil, Environment

TORONTO -- As Barack Obama swears the oath of office at his second inauguration Jan. 21, the Canadian government and its people are looking for leadership from the president on two pressing, albeit contradictory, issues -- oil and the environment -- highlighting the tug of war between public opinion and government policy in this country.

This Week in Poverty: An Antipoverty Contract for 2013?

This past year I’ve had the opportunity to cover the antipoverty movement—and I do believe it’s a movement—it’s just a little too much of a well-kept secret right now.

But I think in 2013, the people and groups at the forefront of antipoverty thinking and action are poised to reach a much wider audience, and gain far greater popular support.

Major Gun Company Begins Asking Customers to Fight Obama's Proposed Reforms

As President Obama announces a set of reforms to deal with gun violence in America, the gun lobby is mobilizing to defeat it. The gun industry-controlled advocacy group, the National Rifle Association, has a new ad accusing the president of being of a “hypocrite” for having armed security for his own family.

Meanwhile, gun manufacturers like Strum, Ruger & Co.—a Connecticut-based maker of rifles and pistols, and a major benefactor to the NRA, as I reported last month—have stepped up to provide direct advocacy.

Armed School Security Guard Clark Arnold Leaves Gun Unattended In Student Bathroom

The National Rifle Association sparked controversy in the weeks following Wayne LaPierre's call to place armed guards in every school. LaPierre called such a move "the one thing that would keep people safe," but one that may have backfired for a charter school that took his advice to heart.

While President Barack Obama and gun control supporters have expressed skepticism about staffing schools with armed guards, Chatfield School in Lapeer, Mich. -- like LaPierre -- felt that its students and staff would be safer with such security measures.

Fractured Land: BC Fracking Documentary Stirs Canadian Energy Debate

Far from the province's coastal cities, there's a remote part of northeastern British Columbia that most city dwellers don't know is responsible for generating a significant portion of Metro Vancouver's power. It's near where Caleb Behn lives, and an area he's willing to fight for.

Behn, a young indigenous man from Eh Cho Dene territory in Fort Nelson, B.C., is featured in "Fractured Land," an upcoming B.C. documentary that explores the practice of fracking and the strain it has put on the province's First Nations communities and industry-government relations.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty only the latest on a list of ministers rapped for conflicts of interest

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s violation of federal conflict-of-interest and accountability rules is the latest in a series of government manoeuvres that breached guidelines and blurred the lines between the roles and responsibilities of MPs’ and ministers’ offices.

While Flaherty now calls the incident “regrettable,” his case also highlights the lack of penalties for politicians and other public office holders who break the federal Conflict of Interest Act. There are no financial penalties for “substantive contraventions” of the act, according to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Northern Gateway oil pipeline: Vancouver hearings overwhelmingly opposed to project

VANCOUVER—Supporters of the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project do exist, but in Vancouver at least they are remaining completely silent.

During its hearings in Vancouver, the consensus has been unanimous: Of the dozens of speakers appearing before the National Energy Board panel reviewing the proposed Enbridge oil project, not a single person has spoken in support of it.

Yoko Ono, Fellow Artists Against Fracking Tour Pennsylvania, Warn Of Disaster If New York Is Next

DIMOCK, Pa. -- Josh Fox, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Gasland, stood at the front of the bus peering down the aisle, past Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon, and out the back window.

A caravan of cars were trailing the Artists Against Fracking tour bus up a winding dirt road in northeastern Pennsylvania.