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.]

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Canada-Europe trade agreement: Food is only holdup, EU ambassador says

OTTAWA—Only food import issues now stand in the way of a long-sought Canada-European Union free trade agreement despite a growing war of words over petroleum exports from the Canadian oil sands, European officials say.

Matthias Brinkmann, the EU’s ambassador to Canada, said the last major hurdle in the trade talks is focused on Canadian demands to export more beef to Europe and European demands for better access for their dairy products — particularly cheese — in Canada.

Three senators improperly claimed living expenses, auditors find

OTTAWA—Three senators improperly claimed living expenses for time spent in the Ottawa area, despite spending most of their time there, independent auditors found.

The Senate began its own internal inquiry into secondary residence expense claims following media reports late last year that some senators may have inappropriately billed taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for their time spent in the Ottawa area.

Harper to Visit New York in Push for Keystone Approval

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit the U.S. next week as Canada intensifies efforts to secure approval of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline.

Harper will be interviewed by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin at an event in New York organized by the Council of Foreign Relations, the organization said in an e-mailed advisory.

Harper will follow a path well worn recently by federal cabinet ministers and provincial leaders. Alberta Premier Alison Redford promoted the $5.3 billion pipeline to Democrat and Republican lawmakers last month, her fourth trip to Washington in a year and a half, after Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s March visit.

Protecting the sacred: Indigenous resistance grows strong in Keystone XL battle

On cloudy days, heavy smoke fills the air of Ponca City, Okla., with grey smog that camouflages itself into the sky. The ConocoPhillips oil refinery that makes its home there uses overcast days as a disguise to release more toxins into the air. These toxins are brimming with benzene -- a chemical that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can cause leukemia, anemia and even decrease the size of women’s ovaries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008 the ConocoPhillips refinery released over 2,000 pounds of this chemical into the air in Ponca City.

Dear Enbridge: 'I will never allow you to make me your token native poster boy again'

This is what Trevor Jang, a Wet'suwet'en youth said to Enbridge CEO Al Monaco yesterday at the Enbridge AGM in Calgary.

When Trevor was 16, he won the Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge which Enbridge sponsors. At the time, he didn’t realize who Enbridge was. After a photo shoot with company representatives, his photo was used in an Enbridge print ad displayed across Canada. He came to the Enbridge AGM yesterday as part of a delegation which included his chief, Chief Na’Moks of the Tsayu Clan of the Wet'suwet'en.

Chief Na'Moks read out a letter which said that he and other Wet'suwet'en chiefs have banned "all pipelines" from their territory. Wet'suwet'en territory is being threatened by numerous pipelines including the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, the Pacific Trails fracking pipeline, and a Spectra pipeline. Several years ago, members of the Wet'suwet'en presented Enbridge with an eagle feather, which in Wet'suwet'en traditional law is the first and final warning of trespass. The Chief asked Al Monaco if Enbridge would respect Wet'suwet'en law.

Harper Economics: The worst of all possible worlds

In a perceptive article entitled New research council mandate shows Conservative's hostility to free market, National Post columnist Andrew Coyne takes aim at the government's recent announcement of plans to shift the focus of the National Research Council from fundamental scientific research to an industry-orientated one. Coyne uses the opportunity to examine the underpinnings of what passes for economic thinking under the Harper Conservatives, zeroing in on a fundamental confusion of the Harperites -- the scrambled, dog's breakfast of misapprehensions of what public and private sectors are suited to doing.

Why Arming Syria's Rebels Is Still a Bad Idea

The reported use of chemical weapons by Syria’s Assad regime has not made much difference in that tormented country. Tens of thousands have been killed in the brutal fighting so far, and the violence continues with no end in sight.

The chemical weapons allegations have, however, had a dramatic effect in the United States. Last August, the president warned that the use or movement of large quantities of such weapons would be a “game changer” with “enormous consequences,” marking a “red line” that must not be crossed. Ultimatums rarely make for artful diplomacy; in this case, it gave an opening to the neocon hawks. The same armchair warriors who relied on phony WMD claims to drive us into Iraq—William Kristol, Robert Kagan and others—started pounding the war drums again. They did so even amid uncertainty over nearly everything having to do with the chemical weapons reports: not simply whether they were used, but who—rebels or regime—may have used them.

Fast Food Workers Strike in St. Louis

Fast food and retail workers in St. Louis, Missouri, walked off the job Wednesday in the third major strike of its kind in recent weeks. The walkout came after a citywide fast food and retail workers strike in New York on April 4th and another in Chicago on April 24.

Workers at Jimmy John’s in the Soulard neighborhood were the first to walk out in a surprise strike, and employees at a McDonald’s in north county followed Wednesday evening. Organizers anticipated that workers at at least thirty restaurants, including Wendy’s, Hardee’s and Domino’s, would join in additional walkouts on Thursday. Like strikers in New York and Chicago, the St. Louis workers are calling for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. The current hourly minimum wage in Missouri is $7.35.

Koch Brothers' Ownership Of LA Times, Tribune Papers Met With Protests, Ads, State Leaders' Opposition

The fight is on against possible Koch Brothers ownership of the Tribune papers, which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Unions and liberal advocacy groups are planning protests and running ads (see photo below) on the Los Angeles Times and New York Times websites starting Thursday, according to liberal groups Courage Campaign Institute and Forecast the Facts.

And they have the leaders of the California state legislature behind them. Darrell Steinberg, the California Senate President pro Tem, and John A. Pérez, the speaker of the California Assembly, said Wednesday that they would oppose the sale, the New York Times reports. Both men control seats on the boards of California’s major pension funds.

Economists See Deficit Emphasis as Impeding Recovery

WASHINGTON — The nation’s unemployment rate would probably be nearly a point lower, roughly 6.5 percent, and economic growth almost two points higher this year if Washington had not cut spending and raised taxes as it has since 2011, according to private-sector and government economists.

 After two years in which President Obama and Republicans in Congress have fought to a draw over their clashing approaches to job creation and budget deficits, the consensus about the result is clear: Immediate deficit reduction is a drag on full economic recovery.

This Video Of One Half-Second Of High Frequency Trading Is Insane, Terrifying

You have no idea just how bonkers high-frequency trading is making the stock market until you actually see it in action.

A terrifying new video by the research firm Nanex offers just such an opportunity: It shows one half-second of trading in just one stock, boring old Johnson & Johnson, on May 2. The video slows down the trades so that the milliseconds -- thousandths of a second -- tick slowly by, and so that human eyes can comprehend what's happening.

Enbridge Alberta-Wisconsin Pipeline Should Face Few Obstacles

CALGARY - Enbridge Inc. is seeking U.S. approval to pump more crude through an Alberta-to-Wisconsin pipeline — a process the company expects will be easier than the one TransCanada Corp. is facing with its Keystone XL pipeline.

"I think I'd point out that this is a little bit of a different situation," Enbridge CEO Al Monaco told analysts on a conference call Wednesday to discuss the company's first-quarter results.

Unreported Emissions from Natural Gas Blow Up British Columbia's Climate Action Plan - BC's Carbon Footprint Likely 25% Greater Than Reported

Methane emissions from British Columbia's natural gas industry are likely at least 7 times greater than official numbers blowing BC's Climate Action Plan out of the water. Natural gas is nearly all methane and since methane is such a powerful climate warming gas these unreported emissions mean the total CO2 equivalent emissions for the entire province are nearly 25% higher than is being reported.

Oilsands 'dirtiest source' of carbon fuel, Gore says

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore is not backing down from comments he made criticizing Canada’s oilsands, saying Thursday that while he can understand the desire to exploit “the great wealth” they can produce, they “represent one of, if not the, dirtiest source of carbon fuel in the world.”

In an interview with CTV’s Canada AM, Gore said he stood by his comments in a recent interview with the Globe and Mail, in which he said the “so-called resource curse” damages natural landscapes and contributes to “the reckless spewing of pollution in to the Earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer.”

Ethics commissioner rejects probe of Penashue conflict

OTTAWA — Canada’s conflict of interest and ethics commissioner says she won’t investigate complaints about how the federal byelection in Labrador was called.

Green party leader Elizabeth May had asked the commissioner to examine whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s actions amount to a conflict of interest.

A similar complaint was filed by accountability group Democracy Watch.

Arctic patrol ship claims not backed up by Public Works

The department of Public Works has been unable to substantiate claims by parliamentary secretary Chris Alexander that the department gave the CBC details of the budget for designing a new fleet of Arctic offshore patrol ships.

The CBC had, in fact, received none of the details requested, and still hasn't.

Duffy charged Senate per diems while outside Ottawa

The long-anticipated audit of Senate residency claims will be tabled later this afternoon. Expenses paid to Conservatives Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau and Liberal Mac Harb are expected to figure prominently. Also interesting will be to what extent the Deloitte audit and related Senate Committee on Internal Economy report deals with per diems charged to the Upper House

Correspondence between Duffy and fellow Conservative senator and committee chair David Tkachuk — slugged “confidential” but obtained by the Citizen — shows that Duffy admitted he had charged per diems for several days when he was not actually in the National Capital Region.

Enbridge Shareholders Revolt Resonates a Year Later

With Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline dominating the final week of the provincial election battle, some investment analysts suggest that the company could be in more long-term trouble than simply a change of government.

Oil spill risks, job creation, provincial revenues, and Aboriginal opposition have dominated the pipeline debate. But despite posting first-quarter earnings on Tuesday of 48 per cent ($21.2 million, up from $14.3 million last year, for Enbridge Income Fund Holdings), some financial analysts say the firm's reputation has made investing too risky.

Is the Overspending Fear Mongering Justified?

Both main parties in this election campaign are accusing the other of being big spenders. The BC Liberals claim the BC NDP is making election promises that are too expensive and argue the 1990s (the last time the NDP was in government) was a time of particularly high spending. The NDP points out that the provincial debt has grown significantly since the Liberals came to power in 2001.

But is too much of the public debate around this election focused on reducing the size of government?

Tory backbencher says feds want to control costs, not interfere with CBC’s journalistic independence, but opposition parties don't buy it

PARLIAMENT HILL—The federal Cabinet wants to take control over collective bargaining at the CBC to rein in the cost of wages and pension plans for unionized employees, not out of a desire to interfere politically with the Crown corporation’s independence as Canada’s national public broadcaster, says government backbencher Ryan Leef.

But Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) suggested Wednesday freedom of the press in Canada is at stake as the government rams legislation through Parliament giving Cabinet unprecedented control over collective bargaining for all 49 federal Crown corporations, while the spokesman for a lobby group opposed to the plan warned that its supporters may target Conservative MPs in the 2015 federal general election if the Conservatives go ahead with the bill, C-60.

Kent says Fossil Awards are 'worn with honour'

Environment Minister Peter Kent said Tuesday he’s unaffected by environmentalists trying to shame the government with Fossil Awards, saying that “some of those awards are worn with honour.”

Kent was reacting to recent comments about Canada’s oilsands development by Al Gore, who suggested it treated Earth's atmosphere like an open sewer.

New research council mandate shows Conservative’s hostility to free market

The tendency among the Harper government’s critics will be to see the new mandate it has given the National Research Council, directing it to shift away from basic science toward producing research for industry, as part of a wider pattern of hostility to science, intellect and evidence — of a piece, say, with the destruction of the long-form census.

Among the government’s friends, on the other hand, the NRC’s new business-friendly mandate will no doubt be seen as an example of its unrelenting focus on the economy, adding a much-needed dose of realism to the council’s research and supporting the innovation efforts of Canadian industry. Both views, I think, have it wrong.

It’s down to this

Ran into David Peterson at Queen’s Park on budget day, Thursday, May 2.

At first, I thought it might be an apparition. The spectre of the former Liberal premier has been hovering over the Pink Palace ever since Kathleen Wynne was sworn in.

It was Peterson who snatched power from the NDP, with whom he had governed in a successful coalition, in 1987, winning the second largest majority in the province’s history. And here we are in a similar scenario.

Child poverty rampant in Canadian cities

The story of child poverty in Canada is very much an urban story. One out of every 10 children living in urban areas was poor in 2010, compared to one in 20 children living in non-urban areas. Three-quarters (or 76 per cent) of all poor children in Canada lived in one of the urban centres shown in the chart above.*

Child poverty isn't a question of jobs: the cities with worst child poverty only had middle-of-the-pack unemployment rates (out of the 19 cities, St. John's, N.L. was 8th highest and Vancouver, B.C. was 11th highest). Similarly, the cities with the lowest unemployment rates in 2010 (Regina and Quebec) did not score particularly well in terms of child poverty. This is why it's so important to talk about the living wage in Vancouver and wages in general.

'Whatever business wants': Harper government continues attack on workers

Some believe the Public Service Alliance of Canada's "Stephen Harper Hates Me" campaign slogan is over the top. But it may actually be too limited in scope. Harper's bunch hasn't just targeted those employed in the public service, but every Canadian whose pay and work conditions interferes with the corporate world's drive for ever more profit.

In the latest example of their 'whatever business wants' attitude, the Conservatives are unwilling to lift a finger in support of 1000 workers recently locked out by U.S. Steel in Nanticoke, on the north shore of Lake Erie. This is the third time since the U.S.-based company bought Stelco in 2007 that it has locked out its Canadian workforce and the previous lockout in Nanticoke lasted eight months.

Why more tar sands pipelines will only bring disaster for B.C. and Canada

Canada once had a vibrant manufacturing sector, growing economy and about 20 oil tankers per year passing through Burrard Inlet in B.C., mostly delivering refined products to coastal communities. Today, Canada has a declining manufacturing sector, growing unemployment, and over 70 crude oil tankers per year transiting Burrard Inlet. What happened?

The tar sands happened. Canada took the lure of globalization and raw resource export. Over a decade ago, the world's largest oil companies decided to exploit the black bitumen tar buried under Alberta's boreal forest, and to ship it from Canada with minimal local economic benefit.

Canada’s flawed national census

The latest national census is a stark reminder that Canada is ruled by one man — Stephen Harper. It was he who in 2010 single-handedly nixed the compulsory census form and replaced it with a voluntary one that’s less accurate. Whereas prime ministers in parliamentary democracies enjoy enormous power, they are expected to act as first among equals, not dictators.

He refused to budge despite opposition in the civil service and his cabinet, and loud protests across the country by 350 academic, business and other groups as well as high-profile individuals, such as Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada, and David Dodge, his predecessor. Harper’s diktat led to the resignation of Munir Sheikh, head of Statistics Canada, the agency that conducts the census.

Critics slam government’s ‘secretive,’ ‘shadowy’ handling of millions in taxpayer-funded consulting contracts

The federal government should be required to provide descriptions of the work done for the millions of dollars it routinely spends on management consulting, opposition critics say.

“It is taxpayers’ money being spent and I think the taxpayer has the right to know what his or her money is being spent on,” said Liberal MP John McCallum.

“I don’t think there is any reason not to give that information.”

Northern Gateway foes hijack Enbridge meeting

CALGARY — B.C. opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline took over question period at Enbridge Inc.’s annual meeting Wednesday as hangover costs of a 2010 oil spill in Michigan continued to cloud its financial reports.

A half-dozen people, all from British Columbia, filed to the microphones at the meeting in downtown Calgary to question and then re-question the Calgary energy transportation company’s controversial oil link from Edmonton to Kitimat on the West Coast.

Harper’s Conservatives seem to have lost their way as opposition hits the Tories where it hurts

“Not good times” was how one Conservative summed things up. No kidding. The Tories are trailing the Liberals in most recent polls, which at the very least suggests voters are keeping an open mind.

The Conservatives desperately need something good to happen, to remind Canadians why they entrusted them with government in the first place.

Instead, they seem to be morphing into what they and their supporters most despised when they were in opposition. In 2004, the Conservatives condemned the Liberals for waste and mismanagement — the campaign slogan was “Demand Better.”

Russia To Sell Anti-Aircraft Missile Batteries To Syria, Israel Warns U.S.

Israel has warned the United States that Russia plans to sell sophisticated missile systems to Syria that would complicate any foreign intervention there, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Journal reported late Wednesday that Israel had provided information to Washington about the imminent sale to Syria of Russian S-300 missile batteries, advanced ground-to-air weapons that can take out aircraft or guided missiles.

Greek Youth Unemployment Rises Above 60 Percent

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek youth unemployment rose above 60 percent for the first time in February, reflecting the pain caused by the country's crippling recession after years of austerity under its international bailout.

Greece's jobless rate has almost tripled since the country's debt crisis emerged in 2009 and was more than twice the euro zone's average unemployment reading of 12.1 percent in March.

Barbara Hewson, Leading Barrister, Says Age Of Consent Should Be 13 And Criticises Operation Yewtree

A leading barrister has called for the age of consent to be lowered to 13 while claiming Operation Yewtree is a "far graver threat" to society than Jimmy Savile.

Barbara Hewson claimed the "witch-hunt" against ageing celebrities echoed the Soviet Union.

She said the "low-level misdemeanours" Stuart Hall was charged with were "nothing like serious crime" and said the police and society were "fetishising victimhood".

Stewart Jackson MP Sued By Ipsa After Refusing To Repay Second Home Profit

A Conservative MP is being sued by the expenses watchdog after refusing to repay profits on his taxpayer-funded home.

Stewart Jackson has been asked to hand back £54,000 as potential capital gains made on the home since MPs were barred from claiming for mortgage interest.

Academics warn Canada against further tar sands production

The Canadian government's promotion of the tar sands industry is setting the world on a course of catastrophic climate change, a group of climate scientists and economists have warned.

In a letter made available to the Guardian, the academics urged Canada's natural resources minister, Joe Oliver, to consider the consequences of his support for expanding Alberta's tar sands production.

UN Report: Girls As Young As 6 Raped By Congo Troops

UNITED NATIONS -- Congolese troops fleeing the M23 rebels last November raped at least 97 women and 33 girls, some as young as 6, a U.N. report released Wednesday said.

The U.S. Africa Command trained one of the units involved, Commando Battalion 391, in 2010 to be "a model for future reforms within the Congolese armed forces," according to the AFRICOM web site.

The U.N. report covered "mass rape, killings, and arbitrary executions and violations resulting from widespread looting," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

Jackie Speier Alerts Marines To 'F'N Wook' Facebook Page, Sends Letter Urging Action

One day after a Pentagon report revealed a jump in military sexual assaults, more evidence has emerged of disturbing behavior toward female service members.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) issued a letter Wednesday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Marine Commandant James Amos and Inspector General Lynne Halbrooks, alerting them to a Facebook page displaying content degrading female members of the U.S. Marine Corps. She urged that action be taken.

Neil Heslin Smeared By Connecticut Carry Gun Lobbying Group

WASHINGTON -- A Connecticut gun lobbying group on Wednesday personally attacked the father of a Sandy Hook school massacre victim, accusing him of "profitting off of the tragedy" and saying a decade-old drug arrest makes him a "poster boy" for background check ineffectiveness.

Connecticut Carry, a nonprofit gun lobbying organization, singled out Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis was killed in the December school shooting, in a press release. Heslin has testified before Congress and attended events at the White House with President Barack Obama in support of increased background checks for gun purchasers.

Conservative Immigration Scholar: Black and Hispanic Immigrants Are Dumber Than European

Jason Richwine, the co-author of the conservative Heritage Foundation's controversial study on the supposed $6.3 trillion cost of comprehensive immigration reform, has received much attention and criticism for his 2009 Harvard University dissertation that argued there was "a genetic component" to racial disparities in IQ. But this dissertation wasn't the first time Richwine had expressed such views publicly. In 2008, he told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that "major" ethnic or racial differences in intelligence between the Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants who flocked to the United States at the turn of the 20th century and the immigrants coming to the US today justified severely restricting immigration.

The Nation That Values Happiness Over Economics

My parents lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s and were profoundly affected by it. They taught us to work hard to earn a living, live within our means, save for tomorrow, share and not be greedy and help our neighbours because one day we might need their help. Those homilies and teachings seem quaint in today's world of credit cards, hyper-consumption and massive debt.

Society has undergone huge changes since the Second World War. Our lives have been transformed by jet travel, oral contraceptives, plastics, satellites, television, cellphones, computers and digital technology. We seem endlessly adaptable as we adjust to the impacts of these new technologies, products and ideas. We only become aware of how dependant on them we are when they malfunction (work comes to a standstill when the network goes down) or don't exist (when we visit a "developing country"). Most of the time, we can't even imagine a way of living beyond being endlessly occupied with making money to get more stuff to make our lives "easier".

‘Free CBC' Petition Signed By 120,000 Against Tories' Bill C-60

A coalition of activist groups says it has collected more than 120,000 signatures on a petition against Bill C-60, the Harper government’s budget bill that would give the prime minister’s cabinet direct control over wage negotiations at the public broadcaster.

Arguing the legislation “would make the prime minister the ultimate boss of all of the CBC’s employees,” the coalition — which includes Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, and — delivered the petition on Parliament Hill Wednesday.

Alberta Oil Reserves, Production Largest In Decades: Regulator

CALGARY - Alberta's energy regulator says higher oil prices and new technology have led to the largest increase in decades of both conventional oil production and reserves.

In its latest report the Energy Resources Conservation Board records a 14 per cent increase in production in 2012 and 9.5 per cent increase in reserves over 2011 levels, due to the higher production rates from horizontal wells.

The Commons: We talk in maths

And so it has been nearly three years since we, the previously vulnerable people of this vast land, were freed from the tyranny of the most-accurate data. Nearly three years since Tony Clement took a stand against all those interested in a particularly reliable basis for understanding the demographics of this country. Nearly three years since the Harper government vowed that Canadians should not be made to answer questions that no one seems to have been interested in asking.

And yet, oddly, with the release today of the results of the National Household Survey, that tribute to personal freedom and individual rights, Thomas Mulcair seemed rather uncelebratory.

Harper Government Spends Millions Monitoring Press Of Own MPs

OTTAWA — The Harper government has spent more than $23 million over the last two years on media monitoring — including more than $2.4 million tracking some of its own backbench MPs in television interviews, radio and print, according to documents tabled in the House of Commons earlier this week.

Government should 'grow up' on climate change, scientist says

A group of 12 prominent Canadian climate scientists called out the federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver on his support for the expansion of oil infrastructure in a letter released today.

The scientists wrote that building pipelines and developing fossil fuel production delays the transition to an economy that relies less on oil and gas.

Canada's foreign-born population soars to 6.8 million

The debut of Canada's controversial census replacement survey shows there are more foreign-born people in the country than ever before, at a proportion not seen in almost a century.

They're young, they're suburban, and they're mainly from Asia, although Africans are arriving in growing numbers.

But the historical comparisons are few and far between in the National Household Survey, which Statistics Canada designed, at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's behest, to replace the cancelled long-form survey, which was eliminated.

EU talks making progress, minister insists

OTTAWA—Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fasts insisted Wednesday he is not worried about missed deadlines in free trade talks with Europe as negotiators wrapped up a scheduled three-day session in Brussels with no apparent deal.

Pressure is building on the Canadian negotiators because of the European Union’s intention to launch talks with the big fish in the North American pond — the United States — and several European warnings the window is closing fast on Ottawa.

Harper vs. Trudeau: The game’s the thing

A Conservative ad campaign describes Justin Trudeau as ill-prepared to lead the country. The ads contrast Trudeau with Stephen Harper, who is presented as an able and effective leader. The strategy seems like a good one — and is a variation on an approach that has been successful for the Conservatives in the past. The last two Liberal leaders were presented in Conservative ad campaigns as out-of-touch or self-interested. These campaigns were intended to define the Liberal leaders even before they had a chance to define themselves to the Canadian public.

Critics fear Tories’ changes to collective bargaining at Crown corporations will threaten CBC independence

OTTAWA—From pushing petitions to stoking fears of political motivations, those worried that government involvement in labour negotiations at Crown corporations will threaten the independence of the CBC are stepping up efforts to persuade the Conservatives to reconsider.

“It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that an editorial decision to go easy on the government could be made in the heat of a contract negotiation, if the prime minister is, in effect, seated on the other side of the bargaining table,” Ian Morrison, with the advocacy group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

Ontario cancer mom still waiting for EI sickness benefits

A Stratford-area mother who won her battle for Employment Insurance sickness benefits while on maternity leave is waiting for the Harper government to stop fighting and pay up.

Ottawa has dropped appeals against at least three other new mothers in similar situations.

But no one has contacted Jane Kittmer, despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s assurances in the House of Commons six weeks ago that Ottawa is “looking at a way to resolve this case.”

Prince Charles attacks global warming sceptics

The Prince of Wales has criticised "corporate lobbyists" and climate change sceptics for turning the earth into a "dying patient", in his most outspoken attack yet on the world's failure to tackle global warming, made shortly before he is to take over from the Queen at the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth.

His intervention was reinforced by Lord Stern of Brentford, author of the 2006 report on the economics of climate change, who called sceptics and lobbyists "forces of darkness" who would be "driven back".

Prisoners face strict 12-month supervision orders after release

More than 50,000 short-sentence prisoners a year are to be given new 12-month compulsory supervision orders under rehabilitation plans run by private companies and charities to be announced by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling.

Ministry of Justice officials say the plans – which could prevent former prisoners from moving to a different area and subject them to compulsory tests for class B drugs such as cannabis – represent the most significant change to short custodial sentences in a decade.