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, April 03, 2013

How the Tar Sands Are Crushing Science in Canada

The Canadian government is currently under investigation for its efforts to obstruct the right of the media and public to speak to government scientists. These policies are widely believed to be a part of the government's unspoken campaign to ensure that oil keeps flowing from the Athabasca tar sands — even if it’s at the cost of free scientific inquiry, the environment, and by consequence, democracy itself.

NYC Prosecutors Who Abuse Their Authority Almost Always Evade Punishment

The murder case against Tony Bennett seemed pretty straightforward.

Shortly before midnight on May 7, 1994, police found a 26-year-old man in the foyer of an apartment building near Flushing, Queens. Jake Powell was near death, blood pouring from a gunshot wound, but he managed to speak the name of the man who had shot him: "Tony Bennett."

Monsanto Announces $1.48 Billion Profit Amid 'Monsanto Protection Act' Controversy

WASHINGTON — Monsanto says its net income increased 22 percent in the second quarter on strong sales of its biotech seeds.

The agricultural products company boosted its full-year earnings guidance, citing its strong performance in the first two quarters.

The news of the profit boost comes as critics slam lawmakers for including in legislation a provision, dubbed the "Monsanto Protection Act," that would shield the company from lawsuits over health risks related to genetically modified seeds, according to CBS News.

Buddy Collins Confirmed By North Carolina Legislature To Education Board, Despite Anti-Gay Past

The North Carolina General Assembly has confirmed attorney Buddy Collins to the State Board of Education, despite opposition by a gay rights group over Collins' long history of opposing anti-bullying measures aimed at protecting LGBT students.

The state House and Senate met for a rare joint session on Wednesday, approving Collins and several other nominees put forward by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R). The GOP-controlled legislature rejected an amendment by Democrats to remove Collins from the list of confirmed nominees.

Barclays Libor Report Shows Too Big To Fail Is Also Too Big To Manage

A post mortem on how Barclays Capital ended up in its Libor mess is the latest proof that banks that are too big to fail are also too big to manage.

The report, by the lawyer Anthony Salz, focuses on how exorbitant pay at Barclays made bankers behave badly. Understandably, much of the press accounts focus on that angle, too. It's an important part of the story, for sure.

Syria's Rape Crisis: Women Under Siege Project Maps Sexual Violence

As the brutal war in Syria rages on, relief organizations have warned that sexual violence has become a "significant and disturbing feature" of the conflict.

In February, the assistant U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Erika Feller, cautioned that the conflict in Syria is "increasingly marked by rape and sexual violence employed as a weapon of war to intimidate parties to the conflict destroying identity, dignity and the social fabrics of families and communities.”

Sequestration Stupidity Is Genetic, Hitting Front-Line Medical Research

ST. LOUIS -- Of all the blinkered buzz-saw cuts in this year’s $85 billion spending sequestration, perhaps none is as counterproductive -- or as flat-out boneheaded -- as the one now hitting medical research under way in a refurbished industrial expanse of central St. Louis.

Sequester cuts to the rapidly developing process of turning genetic research into a major 21st-century industry -- and saving lives and health care costs -- are the equivalent of trying to build the Interstate Highway System with no ramps or the transcontinental railroad without the final miles in the middle.

How Little We Know About Heavy Tar Sands Oil

When the Exxon Pegasus pipeline ruptured Friday in Mayflower, Arkansas, tens of thousands of gallons of diluted bitumen were sent forth into a residential neighborhood, and 22 homes had to be evacuated. Since this is the same sort of oil that would be carried by the Keystone XL pipeline, were it to be built, the Arkansas spill is appropriately spurring a conversation about safety. Is Keystone also going to lead to more spills? (There have been twelve on the completed portions of the pipeline already.) And how dangerous is this stuff spilling all over the ground?

The Doomsday Prepper Caucus

Fear itself, President Franklin Roosevelt famously observed in his First Inaugural Address, can present the greatest obstacle to progress. It can easily overwhelm our discourse, paralyze our politics, and splinter the social construct that binds us together as a people. Given enough time, this fear might even convince some that our democratic institutions are a lost cause, our shared problems obviously insurmountable, our collective solutions hopelessly inadequate. In this frightening world, then, the only safe bet worth making is on oneself.

Why Is North Dakota Torturing Women?

According to a recent United Nations report, North Dakota is torturing women. Seriously. Juan Méndez, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture, has included lack of access to abortion in his yearly report on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Considering North Dakota’s new law which bans abortion after six weeks, it stands to reason that the state is torturing its female citizens.

Will Elizabeth Warren Be a Dragon Slayer or a Deal Maker?

On Valentine's Day, the Senate banking committee held a hearing with the nation's top financial regulators. As a junior member, freshman Democrat Elizabeth Warren had to cool her heels waiting for a turn. But when it came, she made better use of the few available minutes than most of her colleagues: "Can you identify when you last took the Wall Street banks to trial?" she demanded.

Flummoxed, the officials tried to sidestep the question. Then the Massachusetts senator brought down the hammer: "There are district attorneys and United States attorneys out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I'm really concerned that 'too big to fail' has become 'too big for trial.'"

Toronto Home Sales Fall 18 Per Cent, But Are Artificial Bidding Wars Keeping Prices High?

It’s fair to say that many people looking at Toronto’s housing market have been experiencing a sort of prolonged “WTF” moment, as they watch home sales fall while prices continue to rise and bidding wars continue to pop up.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, home sales in Toronto fell more than 17 per cent in March, compared to the same month a year earlier.

Lack of pipeline capacity costing Canadian oil producers billion: report

OTTAWA - Canada lost out on about $25 billion in oil revenues last year due to pipeline and production bottlenecks and is expected to lose $15 billion a year going forward until it deals with its infrastructure deficit, a new CIBC report says.

CIBC economists Avery Shenfeld and Peter Buchanan said the record price discount received by Western producers of heavy oil — mostly bitumen — is no longer the issue it once was, but Canada will continue to lose big time until it permanently solves its pipeline deficit.

How should we remember Ralph Klein?

"We remember what a force of personality he was, how driven he was, how motivated he was, how straightforward he was, and that we trusted him implicitly." – Alberta Premier Alison Redford

"While Ralph's beliefs about the role of government and fiscal responsibility were once considered radical, it is perhaps his greatest legacy that these ideas are now widely embraced across the political spectrum." - Stephen Harper

Condolences and praise poured in for former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, who passed away on Friday at the age of 70.

Economy and environment duel from Ottawa to Arkansas

OTTAWA—Joe Oliver strode to the microphone in the House of Commons foyer Tuesday, brimming with good news.

It was all about averting our potentially “lost legacy,’’ jobs, national energy security and social programs.

We were embarking, it seemed, on the 21st century journey to the Last Spike.

Obama The Antichrist? Poll Finds One In Five Republicans Believe It

It's no wonder Republican vitriol for President Barrack Obama often reaches a downright religious fervour.

According to a new poll, one in five believe he is the Antichrist.

Public Policy Polling, a firm based in Raleigh. North Carolina, surveyed 1,247 registered voters and found a slew of strange convictions -- often divided along partisan lines.

Republicans and Democrats also differ wildly on the issue of global warming. About 58 per cent of the latter group see it as a hoax, while an overwhelming proportion of Democrats take it seriously.

A tax hike on job creators? What the corporate tax rate does and doesn’t do

One of the jobs a government minister has these days is to denounce the Opposition as often as possible, and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is no exception. After singing the (possible) benefits of the (possible) TransCanada west-east pipeline, Oliver swung his opening diatribe at his Tuesday morning press conference over to the leader of the New Democrats.

The list was short, but it started relatively familiarly: Mulcair’s similar extolling of a west-east pipeline was nothing but bandwagon hopping, Oliver said, and Mulcair wants to impose a carbon tax on everyone. Some might wonder at this juncture when the last time it was that the Opposition and the government agreed on so much, but never mind. Oliver had one more – newer – charge to add to the list: Mulcair’s apparent wish to impose higher corporate taxes on Canadian businesses.

Saskatoon scientist breaks silence about muzzling

A retired federal researcher based in Saskatoon is going public with concerns Ottawa is muzzling scientists like her.

Marley Waiser, 59, spent more than 25 years with Environment Canada, most recently with the National Water Research Institute in Saskatoon.

She retired last year, about a year after CBC News did a story about pollution in Regina's Wascana Creek that referenced her research.

Ducks Near Arkansas Oil Spill Found Dead After ExxonMobil Pipeline Rupture

MAYFLOWER, Ark. (AP) — The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.

"I'm an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are," Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told reporters. "We don't like to see that. No one does."

Millions Spent On Gagging Orders For Public Officials

Almost 5,000 public servants may have been given pay-offs involving gagging orders when they left their posts, figures have revealed.

Some 200 staff in Whitehall and 4,562 in local authorities have signed "compromise agreements", many of which involved confidentiality clauses, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles warned councils against using "under-the-counter pay-offs to silence departing staff".

Families in Mali splintered by slavery as culture and conflict converge

"I haven't heard anything about my brother for more than a year," says Raichatou Walet Touka. She's been living at a safehouse in Bamako, Mali's capital, after fleeing the northern town of Gao following an attack by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg rebel group that briefly took over northern Mali in early 2012.

Thousands were displaced by the fighting, and the subsequent battle for control of northern Mali between Islamist rebels and the MNLA. But the situation facing Raichatou has been particularly perilous, for she comes from a family considered by many in the MNLA leadership as slaves.

China voices fears as South Korean workers are barred from Kaesong

China voiced "serious concern" about rising tensions on the Korean peninsulaon Wednesday, as North Korea barred South Korean workers from entering a jointly run industrial complex.

The Kaesong industrial complex, six miles north of the heavily fortified border that has separated the two countries for six decades, is viewed as the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean co-operation.

The North has disrupted operations there before, but the latest move caused particular concern as South Korea and the US attempt to respond to a catalogue of provocations by the Pyongyang regime.

North Korea Refusing South Korean Workers Entry To Jointly-Run Factory Park: Report

SEOUL, April 3 (Reuters) - North Korean authorities were not allowing any South Korean workers into a joint industrial park on Wednesday, South Korea's Unification Ministry and a Reuters witness said, adding to tensions between the two countries.

A South Korean official said hundreds of South Koreans currently in the Kaesong Industrial zone would be allowed to leave. North Korea had earlier delayed access to the park.

The zone generates $2 billion a year in trade for the impoverished North. (Writing by Dean Yates)

Original Article
Author: Reuters

To Clean Up Foreclosure Mess, Banks Rely On Little-Known Industry Plagued By Fraud, Abuse

Last March, a 23-year-old bank contractor cut through the secured gate at the entrance to a farm in Little Rock, Ark., and proceeded to a small house on the property. There, according to a police report, he broke the lock off one of the doors and forced his way inside.

The man, who police would later identify as David Cole, was allegedly there on official business: He worked in a little-known but booming industry that maintains and inspects millions of foreclosed and abandoned homes owned by mortgage lenders in the wake of an epochal real estate bust. The bank responsible for this particular home had presumably decided that the home was another discarded mess, and Cole's company had been dispatched to shore the building against the ravages of weather and decay.

Obama's EU Trade Deal Would Include New Political Powers For Corporations

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is pursuing a free trade agreement with the European Union that would grant corporations new political power to challenge an array of regulations both at home and abroad, according to an administration official involved in the negotiations.

While the plan is still in its early stages, the effort alarms consumer and environmental advocates who worry it will lead to a rollback of important rules and put multinational companies on the same political plain as sovereign nations.

North Carolina May Declare Official State Religion Under New Bill

Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings.

The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state "is sovereign" and courts cannot block a state "from making laws respecting an establishment of religion." The legislation was filed in response to a lawsuit to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer, reported.

Michael Sona Charged By Elections Canada In Connection To Robocall Scandal

Elections Canada has filed a charge against Michael Sona, the ex-Conservative staffer fingered by the Tories in the so-called robocalls scandal, The Huffington Post Canada has learned.

While Elections Canada initially did not confirm the charge, detailed Tuesday in a provincial court filing in Guelph, Ont., HuffPost learned he is charged under section 491.3(d) of the Canada Elections Act, which relates to willfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting. The date of the alleged offence is April 30, 2011 — two days before the last federal election day.

North Korea: US Military Into Region, Aims To Deter New Leader And Reassure South

WASHINGTON - The parading of U.S. air and naval power within view of the Korean Peninsula — first a few long-range bombers, then stealth fighters, then ships — is as much about psychological war as real war. The U.S. wants to discourage North Korea's young leader from starting a fight that could escalate to renewed war with South Korea.

Canadian Mine Companies Subject Of Worldwide Protests

Tens of thousands of Colombians took to the streets of Bucaramanga, the country's sixth-largest city, last month to defend their water supply from a Canadian-owned gold-mining project.

The chief target of their protest was Vancouver-based Eco Oro Minerals Corp.

U.S. says radioactive waste shipments safe, nixes full environmental assessment

OTTAWA — Dozens of secret shipments of intensely radioactive liquid waste from Chalk River should pose no significant danger to the one million Americans along the 1,700-kilometre truck route to a South Carolina reprocessing plant, say U.S. officials.

The greatest risk, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy, will be the inherent potential for an ordinary fatal traffic accident involving the weekly armed convoys of flatbed transport trucks hauling the weapons-grade uranium solution in fortified steel casks. But even that is considered unlikely, it says.

Elections Canada to crack down on donors who gave over the legal limit

OTTAWA - The hunt is on for people who, either by accident or intentionally, may have skirted the legal limits for political donations by spreading around their money.

Elections Canada is going to audit contributions made during the 2011 federal election campaign to nomination contestants, riding associations and candidates affiliated with the same parties.

Current election rules let donors give up to $1,200 in a calendar year to each registered political party. That means someone could give up to $1,200 to the Conservatives, another $1,200 to the NDP, and so on.

Harper's agenda at odds with environment

The Harper government has spent mega-millions advertising its Economic Action Plan.

Yet, at no cost, it also has done a fine job, inadvertently, of advertising another of its policies - the leashing of federal scientists.

The Economic Action Plan, directed at boosting a recession-plagued economy with government cash, had its merits.

Volatile voters, wicked issues — and a whole new era in politics

People are worried about the state of our politics, especially at the federal level. Many feel we’ve lost our way. Can we get things back on track?

I think we can, but to see how, first we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I want to describe four ways that traditional politics is changing and then say what this means for reform and renewal.

1. A Post-Partisan Culture

In the last federal election, the NDP surge in Quebec took the country by surprise. Why did Quebeckers abandon the Bloc Québécois and flock to the NDP?

Desertification is too important for Canada to ignore

The federal government recently pulled out of an important global treaty: the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. It’s aimed at fighting drought, a problem that affects almost 30 per cent of Earth’s land surface and threatens the well-being of more than a billion people worldwide, including in our Prairie provinces.

Every year, the cumulative effects of overgrazing, over-cultivation, deforestation, poor irrigation and increasing extreme weather events – including those that cause drought – permanently degrade close to 10 million hectares of land. This has led to a creeping loss of places where food can easily be grown.

Old, Alone and Victims of Racism in Downtown Eastside

It's lunchtime at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre (DEWC). Women of all ages move quickly through a short line near the kitchen, filling plates with salad, thick open-faced sandwiches, and a mug of soup. There are about 75 people seated in the dining area, eating lunch and socializing. There are no snaking lineups out the door and around the block here, unlike other agencies that serve free meals to low-income people. And though the place is busy there's room around the centre's many circular tables for anyone who wants to sit down. A group of Chinese senior women share one table with younger, English-speaking DEWC members; the two groups communicate by sharing food, gestures, and jokes.

Pictures worth 1,000 words: Getting to see what's behind a CTF operative's tantrum

How do we explain the strange spectacle last week of a well-heeled Canadian Taxpayers Federation operative bellowing at an Idle No More activist in the halls of a Winnipeg hotel while news cameras rolled?

Perhaps like me, you shook your head and moved on when you heard the March 28 broadcast coverage of an Idle No More protest apparently disrupting a news conference held by the federal Aboriginal Affairs minister and the follow-up clip of the CTF's Prairie director yelling at a First Nations leader.

The report I heard that afternoon on CBC radio explained only the barest outline of what was going on: Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and some of his supporters were holding a news conference in Winnipeg to announce something about the government's "First Nations Transparency Act."

New Dems Poised to Inherit a BC Shaped by Neoliberalism

British Columbia's New Democrats will form government this spring if recent polling sticks. The May election is arriving amidst a crisis of the philosophy and policy-paradigm that has guided governance worldwide for the past 40 years: neoliberalism. Understanding neoliberalism's legacy, appeal, and current transformation -- both globally and in British Columbia -- can facilitate successful social democratic governance starting in May. Renewed social democracy in B.C. can yield ecological and social benefit in this region, but also serve as a model for other jurisdictions seeking alternatives to neoliberal orthodoxy. Political openings for progressives are afoot.

Neoliberalism in BC

Neoliberalism names ongoing efforts to reduce the state's social and environmental welfare role while expanding its function as a facilitator of profit accumulation. Classic neoliberal policies include deregulation, privatization, generalized tax cuts, the reduction of social spending, and trade liberalization. These policies unevenly benefit the economic elite, and have facilitated growing concentrations of wealth since becoming widespread in the 1980s.

Bitumen Bottleneck and Pipelines Fix a Myth: Economist

Industry and government claims that Canada is losing as much as $70 million a day on bitumen exports due to "double discounts" in oil markets and a lack of pipeline capacity are untrue, says a new financial analysis.

In a 35-page report B.C. economist and former business executive Robyn Allan tried to track down sources for the discount story, but says she ran into a dead end.

Nor is the oil sands industry really losing money on bitumen discounts for two vital reasons, says Allan.

Ottawa weighing plans for bank failures

Buried deep in last month's federal budget is an ambiguously worded section that has roiled parts of the financial world but has so far been largely ignored by the mainstream media.

It boils down to this: Ottawa is contemplating the possibility of a Canadian bank failure — and the same sort of pitiless prescription that was just imposed in Cyprus.

How a black-belt Lakota woman is using crowdfunding to fight rape

Until now, Patty Stein has been using her nine years of Taekwondo training and her black belt in Hapkido – a Korean martial art – in the service of embattled Egyptians. The 21-year-old is a volunteer with Tahrir Bodyguard, a group that seeks to protect women from the threat of sexual assault on the streets of Cairo.

But Stein was in the middle of a recent self-defense training class – “literally mid joint-lock,” she writes – when she realized she should bring her work home. As a Lakota woman born in the U.S. and a survivor of sexual assault, Stein knew as well as anyone that First Nations women make up a disproportionate number of sexual assault victims.

Ralph Klein was fine but Peter Kormos was the real deal

Two great populists died last week. For Ralph Klein, the former Conservative premier of Alberta, kudos poured in. For Peter Kormos, the former New Democratic Party MPP from Welland, the praise was more guarded.

Yet of the pair, Kormos was the real deal.

Both were beloved by voters. Klein was Alberta’s premier for 14 years. Kormos held his Ontario seat for 23.

Toronto Hydro cleared to spend $750 million to replace aging equipment

Toronto Hydro has been cleared to embark on an expensive program that it says is needed to keep Toronto’s lights on.

Ratepayers can expect their bills to jump by something under $3 a month to pay for the two-year spending program approved by the Ontario Energy Board.

The new spending program is still much leaner than the ambitious, three-year project that Toronto Hydro had requested more than a year ago, and which led to a bitter fight with the energy board.

All of Canada’s major banks ‘too big to fail’

The phrase “too big to fail” can still induce a shiver five years after the financial meltdown that tipped the world into a recession.

Ostensibly the banking system has been stabilized. New safeguards have been developed. The U.S. lenders who triggered the crisis have settled most of the lawsuits flowing from the collapse of the mortgage market, the freeze in corporate credit and the loss of shareholder value. Canada’s big banks, praised as the healthiest and best regulated in the world, are churning out record profits.

First time since Pillar of Defense: IAF carries out strikes in Gaza

For the first time since the conclusion of Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, Israel has initiated a strike on Gaza.

Palestinian media reported Tuesday night that the Israeli Air Force carried out a strike against two targets in the Gaza Strip, one on the eastern side of the city and the other in the northern Gaza Strip. The Safa Palestinian news agency reported that Israel bombed a factory in the al-Shugaya neighborhood.

Palestinian sources claimed no one was injured in the IAF strikes. Moreover, the source stated that all security targets and military installations in the Gaza Strip were evacuated.

Kevin Page's rally cry resonates with Canadians online

In an editorial published Monday, Kevin Page stated that he may have committed "career suicide" during his tenure as Canada's first parliamentary budget officer, but added that it was a "small price to pay" for giving Canada "a true legislative budget office".

In a Toronto Star commentary, Page described his position as one that no one -- including him -- truly wanted. He explains that the Conservatives led the charge for creating an independent budget authority when they were the official opposition party, but argues that the "reality got watered down" after the party formed government.

Who is earning too much?

Last week's publication of the so-called "sunshine" list of 88,412 Ontario public sector workers earning more than $100,000 per year elicited lots of howls of outrage in terms of online commentary.

It should not be forgotten that the whole point of the annual list -- which dates back to the Harris days -- is to yank on the chain of public opinion.

High public sector salaries are put forward for detailed scrutiny, with no basis for comparisons to private sector compensation.

Ontario needs jobs, not more cuts

A recent report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, written by economists Trish Hennessy and Jim Stanford, slams the Ontario government's austerity budgets and breaks down how far from solving the province's economic woes -- budget cuts actually exacerbate them.

The report, aptly titled 'More harm than good: Austerity's impact in Ontario,' deconstructs how the much-touted Drummond report manufactured a projected $30 billion deficit out of what even the Liberal government now says is a much smaller $11.9 billion shortfall.

Danger Overhead Part 2: Are big jets as safe as we think?

It took three years for retired judge Virgil Moshansky to uncover the full story of what caused a horrific Air Ontario crash in the northern town of Dryden on March 10, 1989.

A passenger jet operated by one of Air Canada’s regional feeder airlines had crashed shortly after takeoff on a snowy runway, killing 24 of 69 people aboard. When he submitted 1,712 pages of findings to the federal government, Moshansky revealed an aviation safety system that was broken, its problems extending well beyond any one airline.

Minister’s spouse is stock market guru

Last year, I wrote about the quirk in federal conflict-of-interest rules for cabinet ministers that requires them to put their publicly-traded stock portfolios into blind trusts but imposes no such requirements on their spouses, who are free to trade in whichever securities they please.

Among those who held a stock portfolio was the prime minister’s wife, Laureen Harper.

The PMO wouldn’t say which publicly-traded securities Mrs. Harper owned through her Raymond James investment account and, when she liquidated the portfolio sometime in the summer, wouldn’t explain why or what was sold off.

Rob Ford Must Pay Own Legal Bills After Conflict-Of-Interest Case

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford will have to foot his own legal bills for his hard-won fight to keep his job in light of a citizen's application to have him removed for conflict of interest, an Ontario court ruled Tuesday.

In its brief decision, a Divisional Court panel decided against awarding costs because the case raised novel issues of law and Ford's narrow appeal win was not an outright victory.

Skilled Labour Shortage Canada: BoC Data Suggests Problem Less Severe Than It Usually Is

The Harper government made Canada’s skilled labour shortage one of the focuses of its recently delivered budget, but data from the Bank of Canada suggests the government may be boxing its own shadow on this one.

BMO economist Douglas Porter dug into the most recent Bank of Canada Business Outlook Survey and found that 25 per cent of Canadian firms are reporting labour shortages -- considerably lower than the 15-year average of 35 per cent.

Carbon Emissions Canada: Oil, Gas Needs 42-Per-Cent Reduction To Meet Targets, Pembina Institute Says

OTTAWA - The oil and gas sector will need to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent if Canada has any hope of meeting overall reductions targets by the end of the decade, says a new report from an environmental think-tank.

The Pembina Institute report also says the only way that's going to happen is if upcoming federal regulations on the sector go much farther than those already in place in Alberta.

The Conservative government has been promising new rules for the oil and gas sector since 2008 and has suggested they will finally be unveiled this year.

The Dark Side of DNA Evidence

On February 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Maryland v. King, which presents the question of whether the Fourth Amendment permits the warrantless collection of DNA from people arrested for, but not convicted of, a crime. Currently, twenty-eight states and federal law enforcement collect DNA upon arrest—when a person is still presumed innocent. During oral arguments, Justice Samuel Alito called it “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this Court has heard in decades.”

Unethical reality show exploits those already exploited

Last week, Fraser Institute affiliate Martin Collacott took aim at those speaking out against the TV show Border Security and advocating for non-status migrants.

While Collacott believes that such a distasteful and dehumanizing TV show is defensible, Amnesty International released an open letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews: “Amnesty International believes that filming and broadcasting these raids has jeopardized the basic rights of these undocumented workers, as protected under the international conventions that Canada has ratified.” Amnesty also calls into question Harper government’s active support for the TV show, “The divergence between the goals of a government agency and a TV production company calls into serious question the ethics of such a collaboration.”