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, June 05, 2013

The Republican party acts like it’s 1999

It’s beginning to feel like the late ’90s all over again.

Then, congressional Republicans howled themselves hoarse about Clinton administration scandals. But the indicators kept pointing to a booming economy, and support for President Bill Clinton climbed steeply through 1998 as House Republicans marched toward impeaching him.

Inside Tracks

August 28, 2008, was a bad day for Dell Computer. The company reported earnings well short of analysts’ estimates, and said that its gross profit margin (a popular benchmark for performance) had fallen sharply. Investors dumped Dell shares, and the stock price fell fourteen per cent the next day. But to a small cabal of hedge-fund managers and analysts the numbers came as no surprise, because a source at Dell had tipped them off. These funds had shorted Dell’s stock, and cleared more than fifty million dollars in profit in a matter of days. It was, all things considered, a nice little trade.

It was also, of course, illegal. But that wasn’t unusual on Wall Street in 2008: there’s a host of evidence that insider trading has become widespread. The scope of something so clandestine is inherently difficult to pin down, but the number of insider-trading referrals to the S.E.C. from FINRA, the financial industry’s self-regulatory body, keeps going up. The S.E.C.’s enforcement actions have been on the rise as well, and the past three years saw more of them than any other three-year period in its history. Andrew Ceresney, the co-director of enforcement at the S.E.C., told me, “We’ve gotten better at detecting illegal activity, and at using technology that allows us to draw connections and see patterns.” But this isn’t just a case of vigilant policing giving the impression of a rise in crime; a number of studies of market-moving events have documented a boom in “suspicious activity” (that is, more trading than usual) around those events.

Real problems fester while scandals dominate the headlines

What with the Ford Follies in Toronto, the Senate Shenanigans in Ottawa, and Married to the Mob in Montreal, there isn’t much room in our public discourse for policy discussion.

Unfortunately, this stuff tends to discredit the entire political class. Canada looks like a bad sit-com rather than a serious country.

It isn’t every day one feels badly for Toronto, even when the Leafs blow a three-goal lead with less than 15 minutes to go in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But Toronto is a major-league city, now the fourth largest in North America.

Canada won’t play ball on G8 tax goal, activists say

Activists in Britain and Canada are accusing the Harper government of shielding tax cheats by blocking a G8 measure that would crack down on anonymous shell companies.

In separate interviews, representatives from London, United Kingdom-based groups Global Witness, Save the Children UK, and the London branch of Avaaz, as well as the Ottawa-based groups Canadians for Tax Fairness and the Halifax Initiative, have all pointed the finger at Canada for refusing to play ball in the lead-up to the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on June 17.

Memos point to procurement meddling

OTTAWA — Conservative cabinet ministers kept an unusually close watch on the bidding process for the controversial 2009 relocation contract that critics say could leave them open to accusations of political meddling.

A series of internal memos show the cabinet operations committee had presentations and a “series of biweekly status reports” on the procurement process after the tender call was issued.

Import-export group says Conservatives don't understand impact of tariff changes

OTTAWA - The head of the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters has launched a blistering attack on the Conservative government for what she's calling its "quest for cash" that is hurting business and will cost consumers.

Joy Nott, the president of I.E. Canada, is wading into an ongoing dispute between a coalition of television importers and the Canadian Border Service Agency over what critics are calling the Harper government's "iPod tax."

Harper government eases policy on defence dollars

Canadian arms dealers say they scored a major victory after the Harper government switched its policy to permit defence firms that receive taxpayer-funded research and development grants to also compete on related contracts.

The shift in policy, however, also raises questions about whether R&D dollars meant to boost the sector will limit Canadian companies from becoming global suppliers of arms and other defence technology, a government goal.

Senate spending scandal: Jason Kenney, a leadership aspirant, lies low

OTTAWA—When times get tough for Stephen Harper, he usually turns to his three loyal horsemen.

If the Prime Minister is not in the daily question period, he has confidence and a comfort level if Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Heritage Minister James Moore or Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is there to cross swords with opposition leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

Debate: Supreme Court OKs Unfettered DNA Collection — An Invasion of Privacy or a Blow to Crime?

In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the police can collect DNA samples from people they arrest even before they are convicted of a crime. Supporters of the swabbing method call it "the fingerprinting of the 21st century" that will help nab criminals and break open unsolved cases. But privacy advocates say the ruling is vague because it does not define what constitutes a "serious crime," and could create an incentive for police to make more arrests. The Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling will likely fuel an expansion of DNA swabbing nationwide. We host a debate between Michael Risher of the American Civil Liberties Union and Mai Fernandez of the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Original Article
Author: -

War and the whistleblower: Bradley Manning on trial

The long-awaited trial of Bradley Manning, the whistleblower and army private suspected of passing on classified material to Wikileaks, opened on Monday as supportive demonstrations were held in dozens of cities.

Arrested in May 2010 after former hacker Adrian Lamo reported him to the FBI, Manning is said to have passed on vast numbers of military and diplomatic files -- allegedly the ones later published by Wikileaks -- while deployed to an army base near Baghdad.

The Harper government's detainee torture scandal will soon resurface

Although the Harper government seems to believe it has successfully buried the mountain of evidence demonstrating Canada's long-term, large-scale systemic complicity in illegal Afghan detainee torture and the CIA's horrific worldwide "extraordinary rendition" scheme, this ghost may soon rise again to haunt all of Canada in a big way.

The UN Committee against Torture (UN CAT) last June followed its legal mandate to review Canada's compliance with Geneva Convention obligations prohibiting detainee torture and complicity in detainee torture. The ensuing committee report took clear aim at Canada's failures, specifically finding it to be "complicit in torture."

Three solutions to mark Canadian Environment Week

In honour of Canadian Environment Week -- currently underway amidst accelerating tar sands development, hot on the heels of withdrawals from the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification -- let us reflect upon what the federal government, if it were so inclined, could be doing differently. In other words, broadly speaking, how might Canada move beyond the symbolic in pursuit of true environmental sustainability?

1. Get serious about climate change.

By and large, there are three basic policy tools available to the government here: standards, carbon taxes, and cap-and-trade. To the extent that they have acted at all, the Harper Conservatives, in line with the Americans, have primarily gone the route of standards (such as fuel efficiency requirements and sector-by-sector regulations). This is a somewhat surprising move since standards are known for being "command and control," while carbon taxes and cap-and-trade, regularly decried by the Conservatives (although they did briefly favour the latter), are considered more market-oriented.

John Kerry's Middle East plan? Make Palestinians the falls guys (again)

Under heavy pressure from the U.S., the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has paid grudging lip service over the past four years to the goal of Palestinian statehood. But his real agenda was always transparent: not statehood, but what he termed "economic peace."

Ordinary Palestinians, in Netanyahu's view, can be pacified with crumbs from the master's table: fewer checkpoints, extra jobs and trading opportunities, and a gradual, if limited, improvement in living standards. All of this buys time for Israel to expand the settlements, cementing its hold over the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Supervised drug injection sites to get new rules tomorrow

The federal government will table legislation Thursday that will clarify the rules around new supervised drug injection sites in Canada.

The rules come three years after a Supreme Court ruling that allowed a Vancouver supervised injection site to remain open.

Sultan or democrat? The many faces of Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan

On Sunday night, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared on national television to make a statement about the recent turmoil in his country.

Ever defiant, he defended the controversial redevelopment plans for Istanbul's main square by saying that his electoral majority meant it was sanctioned by the people, period.

New Pakistan PM calls for end to U.S. drone strikes

Pakistan's new prime minister took office Wednesday vowing to fix the country's ailing economy and end electricity blackouts while also calling for an end to American drone strikes in the tribal areas.

Nawaz Sharif was elected to an unprecedented third term as the prime minister of this country of 180 million people by an electorate frustrated with corruption, inflation and unemployment and looking to him for quickly needed solutions.

Mike Duffy missed half of Senate committee meetings

Embattled Senator Mike Duffy, already under fire over his spending, attended just over half the meetings for committees on which he sat, a CBC News analysis shows.

Duffy has an average attendance of 55 per cent since he was appointed in January 2009. Other senators appointed from Prince Edward Island have averages ranging from 82 per cent to 100 per cent.

$1.1 billion neighbourhood planned for Toronto’s easterly waterfront

It may sound crazy — or at least contrarian — in the midst of a softening condo market, but U.S. development giant Hines and Canada’s biggest condo builder, Tridel, are about to launch the first phase of a $1.1 billion new community on Toronto’s easterly waterfront.

“We’re bullish on Toronto,” says Hines’ managing director for Canada, Avi Tesciuba, who will unveil detailed plans for the 13-acre Bayside Toronto site Wednesday.

CRTC made wireless code stronger after consumers spoke

The CTRC’s new wireless code is tougher on Canada’s big telecom firms than the draft code released in January, which focused on disclosure.

In the final version released this week, the telecom regulator orders the firms to stop doing things it feels are unfair to customers.

Starting in December, there will be no more three-year wireless contracts. You will be able to cancel a contract at no cost after two years.

Conservative snub to UN arms treaty shames Canada

Last year more than 100,000 people were killed in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Burma and other major hot spots where factional fighting was fuelled by a relentless flow of illicit weapons. That’s why Canada’s key allies see the value of the United Nations’ latest bid to curb the global arms trade and tamp down at least some of the violence.

More than 65 countries including Britain and France, both big arms dealers, signed on to a landmark Arms Trade Treaty this week that aims to better regulate the $60-billion-plus global arms market. The Americans, too, have made it clear they are onside, subject to the approval of Congress.

Saxby Chambliss Attributes Military Sexual Assault To 'The Hormone Level Created By Nature'

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) called on the military to do more to crack down on sexual assault in its ranks on Tuesday, while also worrying that they may be hard to stop because of the natural "hormone level" of the young men serving.

"The young folks who are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So we've got to be very careful how we address it on our side," Chambliss told top military officials at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. "But guys, we are not doing our job. You're not doing yours, and we are not doing ours with the rates we are seeing on sexual assaults."

U.S. Trade Nominee Has $490,000 in Cayman Fund

WASHINGTON — Michael Froman, a longtime White House economic aide nominated to be President Obama’s trade representative, has nearly half a million dollars in a fund based in the Cayman Islands, according to financial documents provided to the Senate Finance Committee.

Mr. Froman also received millions of dollars to divest himself from Wall Street investments that rely on a tax loophole that Mr. Obama has sought to close, the documents show.

Meals On Wheels Sequester Cuts Mean Layoffs, Waiting Lists And Canceled Food Deliveries

WASHINGTON -- Budget cuts are stealing meals from elderly Americans all across the country, according to a new survey by the Meals On Wheels Association of America.

The association represents about 5,000 local senior nutrition groups in every state, coordinating volunteers who deliver a million meals a day to poor senior citizens. Since 1972, the federal government has helped pay for the meals through the Administration on Aging, which did not escape the 5.1 percent cut to non-defense discretionary spending this year, also called sequestration.

Alberta First Nations band wins right to trial over oil sands’ effect on treaty rights

A small First Nations band in Alberta has racked up a big win against the energy industry, clearing the way for a trial over whether its treaty rights are being infringed upon as industrial development such as the oil sands expands.

The Beaver Lake Cree Nation argues the so-called cumulative effects of oil sands and other industries such as mining and forestry violated their treaty rights. The provincial and federal governments grant permits which allow for development. Beaver Lake Cree Nation launched a legal battle five years ago and now Edmonton and Ottawa have lost their attempt to have it tossed out.

Ken Emanuelson, Texas Tea Party Activist, Calls GOP Black Voter Comments 'A Mistake'

A Texas Tea Party activist is in hot water over comments charging that the Republican Party doesn't want black people to vote because of tough odds.

Audio posted by Democratic group Battleground Texas on Tuesday has Ken Emanuelson, a leading state Tea Party figure, answering a question about black voters at a May 20 Dallas County GOP event.

Rob Ford Crack Video: Gawker Says Alleged Footage May Be ‘Gone'

John Cook, the Gawker editor who first broke the news of an alleged cellphone video showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, says the purported video may now be gone.

In an article posted to the U.S. website on Tuesday afternoon, Cook claims the owner of the alleged footage reached out to an intermediary on Friday.

The mining industry's tentative commitment to Indigenous rights and FPIC

Last month the International Council on Mining and Metallurgy (ICMM) issued a new position paper, “Indigenous Peoples and Mining”. The position statement “sets out ICMM members’ approach to engaging with Indigenous peoples and to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).” Twenty-two mining companies make up ICMM, including Canadian majors Barrick, Goldcorp, Inmet (now owned by First Quantum), and Teck.

Key to the new position statement is the ICMM’s stated commitment to FPIC. That Indigenous people have the right to give or withhold their consent for mining projects has not been a concept that the industry has taken on easily. Rather than accepting the right to say no, industry organizations and companies have widely acknowledged the right to be “consulted” but repeatedly insisted that this did not mean a right to say no. In acknowledging the right to say no, ICMM is following other developments in major international agreements and standards such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards.

Ontario tenants hammered with double-digit rent hikes

When Sacha Proctor received a notice from his landlord that his rent would increase 17.6 per cent on May 1, he tried to move to a similar unit with a lower price tag in the same building.

“But they refused to meet with us,” he said.

“The refused to tell us why we got the high increase, refused to let us transfer to a cheaper unit or what other similar units were renting for.”

While You Were Sleeping: Parliament's Late Night Legislative Flurry

You might not know it from a glance at the nightly news, but scandals, audits and intrigue aren't all that is taking place these days on Parliament Hill.

As boiling controversies continue over a Senate expense scandal, the involvement of the Prime Minister's Office, and a continuing investigation into fraudulent automated phone calls from the 2011 election, MPs away from the cameras and headlines are in the midst of a marathon push of extended parliamentary hours.

Disclose Assets? What's the Point?

All candidates in British Columbia provincial elections are required by law to disclose their finances, but there are no penalties if they choose to file a blank form or to lie.

"It is pretty crazy," said John Heaney, a lawyer who was deputy minister to two B.C. premiers when the New Democratic Party was in power and who in private practice specializes in public and administrative law. "To have no penalties for failure to comply makes the act kind of ludicrous. It almost invites people not to comply."

Troubled First Nation school's TV course aims to spark interest in education

Cousins Raynelle and Destiny Cardinal sit nervously on stools, wide-eyed as students around them sound off.

“Roll sound, roll cameras.”

Raynelle’s leg twitches rapidly, fuelled by adrenaline as another student holds a clapboard in front of her face.

“Mustang TV, episode 4, take one. Action.”

Whale-War Fugitive: Q. & A. with Paul Watson

Fans of Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars,” a reality show that documents members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society battling Japanese whalers every winter in the Southern Ocean, will have to wait several months longer than usual for the show’s new season to première. The airdate for “Whale Wars,” usually slated for June, has been pushed back, possibly to the fall, or even to 2014. In the past year, Sea Shepherd has become mired in litigation, diplomatic pressure, I.R.S. audits, and Interpol notices, and Animal Planet decided that, instead of placing its own crew on Sea Shepherd ships, it would stitch together episodes from footage that the activists shot of themselves. This may be a first for a reality show—certainly one this popular—but if Animal Planet is able to pull together a season that has integrity, the sixth installment of “Whale Wars” promises to be the show’s most entertaining and provocative. Nine ships went head-to-head in the Southern Ocean, and Sea Shepherd began its campaign against the Japanese fleet with a few surprises—among them the secret whereabouts of its founder, Paul Watson, who evaded house arrest in Germany, and joined the campaign as a fugitive. In January, I was able to speak with Watson via Skype. He was on one of the Sea Shepherd vessels, the Steve Irwin. Behind him, on a wall, there was a traditional garment from Fiji, an Iroquois flag, and a Templar sword. He was in good spirits. For the first time, Sea Shepherd was in position before the Japanese fleet, and Watson was confident that its growing navy could prevent the whaling vessels from killing even one whale.

NIH Losing $1.7 Billion, 700 Research Grants Due To Sequestration

WASHINGTON -- The National Institutes of Health released an updated projection of the cuts it must make to deal with spending reductions put in place by sequestration, and the picture isn't pretty.

While the National Cancer Institute received $5.06 billion in FY 2012, it is budgeted to receive only $4.77 billion in FY 2013. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences' budget will fall from $2.42 billion to $2.29 billion, meanwhile, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences' budget will fall from $574 million to $542 million. Overall, the NIH's discretionary budget authority will go from $30.7 billion to $29 billion.

The Most Underestimated Feminist in DC

Lakewood, Washington—Patty Murray is listening.

Not listening in the taut senatorial style of waiting for an opening to talk, but actually listening, quietly and intently, as if the mother telling Murray how the sequester would endanger her son’s healthcare might provide the key to persuading the entire US Senate. Lakewood, just southeast of Tacoma, lives in the shadow of the massive (six freeway exits) Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and shutdowns and furloughs created by what people here call “the other Washington” have put everyone in this fire station meeting room on edge.

Disclosure Shows Private Prison Company Misled on Immigration Lobbying

Earlier this year, one of the largest private prison corporations in the country sent out a statement to reporters claiming that it would not lobby in any way over the immigration reform debate. A new disclosure shows that the company, the Boca Raton–based Geo Group, has in fact paid an “elite team of federal lobbyists” to influence the comprehensive immigration reform legislation making its way through Congress.

Revolution, on Television and in Real Life

There ought to be a word for the kind of irony that attends a culture convulsing over the massacre on the latest episode of Game of Thrones just as a blossom of real-life political dissent is appearing in Turkey, don’t you think? (Which isn’t even to mention that yesterday and today are the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.) One doesn’t want to scold people for paying attention to pop culture—as a person who writes about it, I would be a giant hypocrite if I did. But the way these two things have met in time at the very least raises the question: Why don’t we care, in quite the same way? I somehow doubt it’s because Americans haven’t the heart for real political conflict. Nor do I think the whole explanation is that Americans feel powerless. It’s not like any of us could have stepped in front of the sword that ran through Robb’s gullet on Sunday night.

FreedomWorks Fallout Continues: 2 Prominent Conservatives Resign

In the latest sign of turmoil at FreedomWorks, two prominent board members have resigned following the completion of an investigation they launched into possible misconduct within the conservative group, which has been an instrumental force in the tea party movement.

In December, these two board members, James Burnley IV and C. Boyden Gray, sent a letter to FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe informing him that they had received "allegations of wrongdoing by the organization or its employees." They noted they had retained two attorneys, Alfred Regnery and David Martin, to conduct an independent investigation into the accusations. Burnley and Gray, both of them high-profile veterans of Republican administrations, ordered Kibbe to cooperate with the lawyers, to ensure that no records were "destroyed, deleted, modified or otherwise tampered with" and to send Regnery a check for $25,000 to cover his initial fees. The investigation followed several months of conflict inside the group that included the surprise resignation of FreedomWorks' longtime chairman, Dick Armey, a former Republican congressman and onetime House majority leader. Armey accused Kibbe of improperly using FreedomWorks resources to promote a book Kibbe had written.

Walmart's Toronto Plan Raises Ire Of Kensington Market, Little Italy Residents

A Toronto resident has started a petition to keep Walmart from opening a location near two of the city’s most prominent, historic districts.

Shopping mall developer Rio-Can is planning a 130,000-square-foot mall for Bathurst Street on the western edge of the city’s downtown core, a few blocks away from both Kensington Market and Little Italy, that will feature Walmart as its anchor tenant.

Prime Minister Harper, Cabinet to decide on F-35 fighter jets without advice from Public Works Procurement Secretariat, say Public Works officials

PARLIAMENT HILL—Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Cabinet will make the final decision on whether the government should go ahead with a 2010 plan to acquire a fleet of F-35 stealth fighter aircraft without advice or recommendations from Public Works’ National Fighter Procurement Secretariat now in the midst of an exhaustive “options analysis” that include three other fighter jet options along with the F-35, bureaucrats in charge of the review have disclosed.

Senate expense scandal: Mike Duffy appealed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper about his living expenses

OTTAWA—Sen. Mike Duffy made a personal appeal to Prime Minister Stephen Harper about whether he would have to repay improperly claimed living expenses, the Star has learned.

Harper alluded to their conversation Tuesday in the Commons when he said the embattled senator sought “clarification” during a caucus meeting.

“My views were known to the entire caucus. Mr. Duffy approached me to seek some clarification. I was very adamant that any inappropriate expenses should be repaid,” Harper told MPs.

Conservatives strike another blow to unions with Bill C-377

Do Conservatives hate unions? Critics of Bill C-377 – government legislation now being considered in the Senate that forces unions, but not other groups whose membership dues are similarly tax-deductible, to post their organization’s expenses on-line – certainly think so.

And they aren’t entirely wrong. There are undoubtedly Canadians who vote Conservative and work in non-unionized environments who resent the generous contracts that union leaders have negotiated for their members.

Senate Scandal: Auditor General May Soon Inspect Expenses

OTTAWA - The Harper government is hoping to restore public confidence in the Senate by putting the scandal-plagued chamber's books under the auditor general's microscope.

Sen. Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate, introduced a motion Tuesday asking auditor general Michael Ferguson to conduct a comprehensive audit of Senate expenses, including the expense claims filed by individual senators.

The Teflon wears off

SOME politicians seem to be blessed with a non-stick coating that prevents scandal from attaching itself to them. Sooner or later, most of them find that the Teflon rubs off. For Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister of Canada, that moment may have arrived on May 15th with the news that his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, wrote a personal cheque for C$90,172 ($87,240) to clear the allegedly fraudulent expense claims of Mike Duffy, a Conservative senator.

Peter Kent encouraged by industry co-operation on pollution regulations

OTTAWA – Environment Minister Peter Kent says he’s encouraged by the “co-operation” of industry, particularly with oil and gas companies, in the federal government’s efforts to improve air quality and reduce heat-trapping gases that can contribute to climate change.

Kent, who appeared at a parliamentary committee Tuesday to discuss the government’s sustainable development strategy, said Canada was making progress because industry is co-operating to improve its environmental performance, despite a fragile economy.

Canada Conservatives Knock Phone Companies in Fundraising

Canada’s governing Conservative Party is using this week’s policy decisions about the wireless telephone industry to appeal to supporters for money.

A statement posted on the party’s website cites Industry Minister Christian Paradis’s decision today to limit spectrum acquisition by the country’s largest telecommunications operators in its appeal for support.

Senate ethics officer suspends probe of Mike Duffy as red chamber considers role for auditor general

OTTAWA — The Senate ethics officer has suspended her investigation of a payment by the prime minister’s top aide to Sen. Mike Duffy because the Senate has asked the RCMP to review the situation.

Lyse Ricard can still return to her investigation if new information emerges about the $90,000 cheque Sen. Mike Duffy received from former Harper chief of staff Nigel Wright as part of the repayment of Duffy’s improper living expenses.

Old east-west Tory battle over leadership rules resurfaces yet again

OTTAWA - A chronic struggle within Conservative ranks over leadership rules has resurfaced in advance of the party convention later this month, pitting east against west and Red Tories versus Canadian Alliance stalwarts.

Two resolutions up for debate in Calgary would fundamentally alter the way leaders are chosen, and theoretically favour future contestants from Western Canada.

Did Harper forget it's Environment Week? Seven reasons he may not want to mark the occasion

The Government of Canada's official website has lots of information about Canadian Environment Week, which runs June 2 - 8. The Harper government, however, seems to have forgotten to mark the occasion. Neither of his official Twitter accounts -- @PMwebupdates and @PMHarper -- have shared any information about the week. 

Environment Canada's webpage tells us that Environment Week is "a time for grassroots action to help preserve, protect and restore our environment. This annual event provides us all with an opportunity to celebrate the progress that has been made but also to encourage further efforts all year long."

It's no wonder Harper and company aren't jumping up and down to draw attention to this official week. Their record, in over seven years in power, has been to steadily erode and degrade environmental protections in Canada. As a reminder of what we should be working to defend, or to get back, our parliamentary reporter Karl Nerenberg has pulled together seven stories from the archives that document the government's record on the environment.