Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Alberta Flooding: More Foreign Workers Needed To Rebuild Province, Redford To Tell Harper

CALGARY - Alberta Premier Alison Redford says she wants to talk to the prime minister about allowing more temporary foreign workers into Alberta as her province rebuilds from recent flooding.

Redford says Alberta is going to need a robust workforce as homes and businesses are restored in devastated communities right across the southern part of the province. Both Redford and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are in Calgary this weekend for the Stampede.

"I think we need to think about what it's going to take in terms of labour and workforce to rebuild southern Alberta and we'll talk a little bit about that," Redford said to reporters before the start of the annual Stampede parade.

Edward Snowden Asylum To Be Offered By Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro Says

CARACAS, July 5 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on Friday in defiance of Washington, which is demanding his arrest for divulging details of secret U.S. spy programs.

"In the name of America's dignity ... I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden," Maduro told a military parade marking Venezuela's independence day.

‘It’s a mess’: Effects of ongoing strike by Canadian diplomats widely felt and very costly

Like thousands who rely on Canada’s striking foreign service, Peter Guindon, a Canadian living in Beijing, is in a bind. His Chinese wife’s application for permanent residency is gathering dust in a Canadian visa office, so when his own Chinese visa expires shortly, their Canadian daughter could see her family split between two countries.

“It’s a mess,” he said.

From university students unable to start class in September, to foreign fruit pickers unable to help with the coming harvest, to tourists whose summer travels in Canada have been cancelled, the effects of the three-month-old job action by Canadian diplomats are broad, deep and costly, pegged at nearly $300-million in lost tourism alone.

Many MPs will get pensions topping $100,000 a year for life

OTTAWA — Many federal politicians who decide to retire at the next election are set to walk away with millions of dollars from the lucrative parliamentary pension plan.

With a cabinet shuffle expected soon, some federal cabinet ministers have announced they won’t seek re-election and MPs from all parties are considering their political futures.

8 things revealed by RCMP's court filings on Mike Duffy

New information revealed in documents filed by the RCMP about Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses raises new questions.

They range from how Duffy approached the question of his residency from the moment he was first appointed to the Senate to how much the Prime Minister's Office knew about a $90,000 bank draft to repay his inappropriately claimed expenses.

The court documents contain allegations that have not been proven in court.

The Coup in Egypt: An Arab Winter?

The United States doesn’t classify the Egyptian military’s overthrow of the Morsi regime as a “coup” since that would suspend $1.3 billion in aid to country’s armed forces. Honduras in 2009 was a similar case, where President Obama’s initial description of the military coup was retracted so that aid could continue flowing to the newly installed rump government there. A similar Orwellian logic led our security hawks to scorn the several democratic elections of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela as “illegitimate” while obscuring the American role in the attempted coup of 2002. In Haiti, the 2000 election of Jean-Bertrande Aristide was denounced as “illegitimate,” while the 2004 coup, in which Aristide says he was “kidnapped” by the United States, was described as a necessary transition in official speak. Under the Helms-Burton law, normalization of relations with Cuba depends on the removal of the Castros and the Communist Party and guarantees of a market economy before there can be legitimate elections. Before this latest round, Washington instigated infamous coups against the democratically elected governments of Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s.

Egypt Protests: Mohamed Morsi Supporters 'Shot Dead' By Army

At least 30 people have been killed in Egypt as supporters of the country's ousted president Mohammed Morsi demonstrated on the streets of Cairo and other cities on Friday, according to reports. Dozens more are believed injured.

A Health Ministry official told Associated Press that four people were killed near the Republican Guard building in Cairo, another was killed in clashes that began in the evening when Islamists attacked Morsi opponents near Tahrir Square and four more died in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish. A 10th was killed in the southern city of Assiut.

Employers take break from hiring as unemployment rate remains unchanged at 7.1%

OTTAWA - Job creation in Canada returned to earth last month as employers pulled back following an apparent hiring binge in May that proved too good to be sustained.

Economists had expected payback from May's purported growth of 95,000 jobs and they got it with Friday morning's flat reading — actually a statistically meaningless loss of 400 jobs in June.

More meaningful was the decline of 32,400 jobs among full-time workers, offset by similar-sized gains in part-time jobs.

Stephen Harper left Parliament, public in dark on Senate scandal

Prime Minister Stephen Harper left Canadians in the dark when he was grilled in Parliament about the festering Senate expense scandal before the Commons rose for the summer. He could have told us more, much more, but he didn’t. And what he did tell us turns out to be dubious, at best.

Now Harper is planning a cabinet shuffle that he hopes will restore some lustre to his discredited government.

The Conservatives’ damage control deals: Mike Duffy’s not the first case

Yesterday’s bizarre news — that the Nigel Wright-Mike Duffy cheque was, according to an investigating RCMP officer’s affidavit, the culmination of a long process involving a handful of PMO and Conservative Party worthies — raises a lot of questions. One striking element is the participants’ apparent comfort with using Conservative Party funds to make political problems go away. In the end, that didn’t happen here, although apparently only because Duffy’s debts exceeded the Conservatives’ comfort with digging into the kitty for damage control.

PM's version of events contradicted in court documents on Duffy scandal

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper is facing accusations that he misled Canadians about the Mike Duffy expenses scandal after a court document contradicted the prime minister's version of events.

Under intense questioning about the affair throughout the spring, Harper repeatedly insisted that his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, acted on his own when he decided to give Duffy $90,000 to reimburse the Senate for invalid expense claims.

"Those were his decisions. They were not communicated to me or to members of my office," Harper told the House of Commons on June 5.

Mike Duffy Senate scandal inches closer to Stephen Harper

The Senate scandal doesn’t go away. Instead it moves inexorably closer to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

It is now pointed at the heart of the Conservative Party.

We already knew that Nigel Wright, Harper’s former chief of staff, gave Sen. Mike Duffy $90,172 to repay dubious housing expenses.

Now, courtesy of court documents filed by the RCMP and released Thursday, we know this was more than an act of misguided charity.

Senate scandal: Harper accused of misleading Parliament

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper is being accused of misleading Parliament — and Canadians — when he said that Nigel Wright, his former chief of staff, acted alone in helping Sen. Mike Duffy pay back dubious living expenses .

“Those were his decisions. They were not communicated to me or to members of my office,” Harper told the House of Commons during question period June 5.

Wright's $90K offer to Mike Duffy had conditions, RCMP say Duffy told not to talk to media in exchange for money

Nigel Wright's $90,000 payment to cover Senator Mike Duffy's expenses was offered only with certain conditions, according to court documents that also show several people in the Prime Minister's Office knew about the offer.

New details about the payment and the circumstances around it are contained in an application to the court by the RCMP seeking documents from the Senate and other material for its investigation of Duffy's expense claims.