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.]

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Montreal woman convicted of posting anti-police graffiti on Instagram

MONTREAL -- A woman who posted an image online of a senior Montreal police officer with a bullet in his head was convicted Thursday of criminal harassment.

Jennifer Pawluck was charged in 2013 after snapping a photo of graffiti, which she didn't draw, and uploading it to Instagram, a photo-sharing social media site.

Quebec court Judge Marie-Josee Di Lallo said she had no doubt the criteria necessary to find Pawluck guilty of harassment had been met.

Top Lobbying Groups Spent $64 Million To Influence Congress, White House

WASHINGTON -- The top 10 lobbying spenders shelled out a combined $64 million in the first three months of this year to influence federal policy, according to first-quarter lobbying reports filed with the Senate this week. The number represents an upswing on K Street, where lobbyists and clients are taking advantage of fresh opportunities afforded by the new Congress.

First among the spenders was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which together with its subsidiary, the Institute for Legal Reform, spent $19.5 million to lobby Congress and the White House on topics ranging from free trade agreements to environmental regulation to copyright laws. It appears they were successful, at least in part. On Wednesday, the Senate approved a request by the Obama administration for "fast track" authority in trade deals, paving the way for the Chamber-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to move forward.

Police Allegedly Beat Up Defendant — And A Lawyer — Outside Of A Courtroom

A public defender in Philadelphia alleges an officer hit her in the head before pummeling a 22-year old defendant who was yelling and cursing outside of a courtroom. Now, the defendant faces additional charges for terroristic threats.
According to Attorney Paula Sen, Anthony Jones was thrown out of a Criminal Justice Center courtroom after becoming upset about having to take off his hat. He continued yelling outside the room, so Sen rushed to calm him down. But as she was de-escalating the situation, six officers allegedly ran up to them, yelling. Sen contends she tried to stand between Jones and the police, before Officer David Chisholm hit her in the back of the head, knocking her to the ground. Then, three officers, including Chisholm, punched Jones, who was bleeding, before others piled onto him on the floor.

Have We Seen the End of the 8-Hour Day?

A glance across the exhibit halls of the National Retail Federation’s annual conference gives little indication that this sector is the country’s largest employer. Inside the glass-walled Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on the west side of Midtown Manhattan, the human fray shuffles beneath a skyline of towering displays that compete with one another to present the most alluring glimpse of a spotless, angular, automated future. They announce countless machines for point of sale, for payments, for disembodied experience. Mixed among them, one slowly begins to notice, is trace evidence of actual retail workers—for instance, a “gamified” console “to help sales associates personalize in-store shopper interaction.” Another display summarizes the prevailing ambition: “Sell more…manage less.”

Ignore the Cynics: 2016 Is an Extremely Important, Exciting Election

If Mitt Romney had defeated President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, a lot of things would be very different today. Had fortunes been so reversed, Romney would likely have come into office with a lock on Congress, and thus the power to pass a big tax cut and repeal (or at least hobble) the Affordable Care Act. When the economy improved and unemployment fell below six percent much earlier than Romney promised, Republicans would have claimed credit and Romney would have faced an easy path to re-election.

7 Times Joe Oliver's Budget Speech Departs from Reality

Hyperbole alert!

Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivered his budget on Tuesday. Here's seven problems with what Oliver had to say about the state of Canada's fiscal affairs:

1. But is the world an ocean of chaos? And is Canada an island of stability?

Joe Oliver says:
"Around the world, many nations -- including some of our friends and allies -- remain mired in a struggle for fiscal security ... Still the news for Canada is, by and large, good. Amid the tumult, our country remains a beacon of economic stability and security built on a foundation of sound financial management."
Reality check:
According to Oliver's own budget, the recent drop in oil prices is going to mean chaos for Canada.
"As a producer and net exporter of crude oil," the budget says Canada will see "a significant downward revision to the outlook for economy-wide prices and therefore, nominal GDP." And what of the rest of the world? Low oil prices "will be generally positive for global growth," says the budget -- particularly for countries that import oil.
But although it projects "weaker investment and hiring within the energy sector," the government says low oil prices could (eventually) lead to "positive impacts" for other sectors of the economy. Just probably not in the near future.  

EI whistleblower suspended without pay

A federal fraud investigator has been suspended without pay, after she leaked documents showing that investigators had to cut people off their employment insurance benefits in order to meet quotas.

Sylvie Therrien told CBC News that she and other investigators were given a target to recover nearly $500,000 in EI benefits every year.

"It just was against my values, harassing claimants… trying to penalize them in order to save money for the government. We had quotas to meet every month," Therrien said.

CRA's letter 'Conservative party advertising,' Edmonton mom says

No one likes getting mail from the Canada Revenue Agency. Usually, anyway.

But when Edmonton mom Rosemary Ronald opened one letter two weeks ago, she discovered what was intended to be good news: a description of a "proposed" government family benefit soon available to her family, accompanying a request to confirm information they already had (based on past tax filings) about her child.

"I just found it a little rich for the CRA to be asking me to confirm that information when they have that information," she told CBC News. "They know if I have a child and his birthday."

TD Latest Bank To Earn Billions And Dole Out Job Cuts

Toronto-Dominion is the latest of the big Canadian banks to dole out pink slips to staff. And employees tell CBC News they expect more layoffs to come as the company looks to cut costs.

Although they're still pulling in billions in profits, TD and other big banks are trying to protect their bottom line in a slow growth economy.

The Real GOP Primary Is Almost Over

We saw the 2016 GOP presidential field for the first time in mid-April, when 19 Republicans appeared onstage in New Hampshire for a “First in the Nation” candidate forum. Most of the speakers had not yet formally declared for the presidency, and everyone was testing out their tentative campaign message on primary voters.

But this was not the beginning of the GOP contest—in fact, the most important part is almost over. For months, the candidates had been frantically competing in the “invisible primary,” an ignominious feature of post–Citizens United politics in which the dollars of generous conservative benefactors are the prize.

2016 Candidates Working To Fix The Lack Of Guns In Everyday Life

Republican presidential candidates lining up for 2016 are eager to flaunt their support for the Second Amendment, whether it’s byspeaking to pro-gun groups, talking up their own experience with guns or literally posing with firearms. But the latest issue the presidential contenders are tackling is how far they would extend gun rights and how easy it should be to carry a firearm in public.
Expanding where people can carry guns and how — concealed or open — has become a controversial issue between gun owners and groups attempting to put limits on their rights. Pro-gun activists argue that having people carry arms would better protect them from potential shootings, while others cite research showing more guns would lead to more violence.

Your Pregnancy May Subject You to Even More Law Enforcement Violence

As calls to end police violence swept the nation during the summer of 2014, the New York City Police Department demonstrated that pregnancy is no protection against brutality. Sandra Amezquita was five months pregnant when police threw her, belly first, onto the ground. An officer straddled her body, adding his weight to the pressure, before handcuffing and arresting her. Her offense? Trying to stop them from harassing her 17-year-old son, who had been arrested for robbery the year before.

A member of El Grito de Sunset Park, a neighborhood police watchdog group, recorded the entire event and posted it online. The video sparked outcry and local protests, drawing attention to the fact that women - even women who are visibly pregnant - are not immune to police violence. That same summer, Idaho police shot and killed Jeanetta Riley, a pregnant mother of three who pulled a knife on her husband when he attempted to take her to the hospital after she had threatened suicide.

Australia Again Wages War on Its Own People

Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion-dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to "support" the homelands.

Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders have warned of "a new generation of displaced people" and "cultural genocide."

After Getting Called Out, Elizabeth Warren Accuses Obama Of Deliberately Hiding Trade Details

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on President Barack Obama to make details of the trade pact he is negotiating public a day after Obama said that Warren and other critics were wrong on the facts of the deal.

The Obama administration has briefed members of Congress on the deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but has blocked members from publicly discussing specifics. Last month, an Obama administration official told The Huffington Post that the briefings on the deal were classified because they were sensitive and ongoing.

It's Not the 1 Percent Controlling Politics. It's the 0.01 Percent.

Even before presidential candidates started lining up billionaires to kick-start their campaigns, it was clear that the 2016 election could be the biggest big-money election yet. This chart from the political data shop Crowdpac illustrates where we may be headed: Between 1980 and 2012, the share of federal campaign contributions coming from the very, very biggest political spenders—the top 0.01 percent of donors—nearly tripled:

Chiefs Urge United Nations To Investigate First Nations Education

WINNIPEG - Manitoba chiefs want the United Nations to investigate aboriginal access to education.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, with the Assembly of Manitoba chiefs, says he has sent a formal invitation to the UN's special rapporteur on the right to education.

He says Canadians receive some of the best education in the world, but that's not the case for aboriginal children.

Nepinak says First Nation communities are chronically underfunded when it comes to education.

He says the Canadian government is almost certainly breaching international standards and obligations to provide equal access to education for aboriginal children.

The UN's special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples visited Canada in 2013 and called for an improvement in the living conditions of First Nations.

Original Article
Author: CP

Credit Card Company Lawsuits 'Stomping On The Little Guy,' Says Lawyer

Canadian credit card companies are "scaring customers to pay up" in an aggressive new tactic to collect outstanding debts from customers, says B.C. man Sukhpaul Badyal.

​The Burnaby electrician says his credit rating was destroyed when ATB Financial claimed he owed $6,900 on his Husky MasterCard, and took him to B.C. Supreme Court to collect.

Canada's war against ISIS: Road to destruction, not peace

Let me get this straight. Canada is flying bombing missions targeting ISIS positions in Syria in conjunction with a U.S.-led coalition that also includes Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar -- all three of whom have financed various extremist and jihadist Sunni groups.
Perhaps, the most well-endowed supporter, Saudi Arabia, has at one point or another bankrolled fighters aligned with both ISIS and Al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as part of an anti-Shia alliance in the region to counter Iran.

More Kansas Schools To Close Early For Lack Of Funds

Six school districts in Kansas will close early this year, following budget cuts signed in March by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

Two school districts, Concordia Unified School District and Twin Valley Unified School District, announced earlier this month that they would end the year early because they lacked the funds to keep the schools open. This week, four more districts confirmed they would also shorten their calendars, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Democrats Balk At Obama Plan To Cut Funding For Workers Hurt By Trade Deals

WASHINGTON -- The rift between President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats over trade policy deepened Wednesday as the administration opposed an effort to fully restore aid for American workers who lose their jobs to international trade.

The conflict threatens to undermine Obama's repeated claim that he is revamping trade policy to fix problems Democrats have cited in prior trade pacts. The president is pushing hard to win over a Democratic caucus that is overwhelmingly skeptical of his Trans-Pacific Partnership -- an agreement being negotiated with 11 Pacific nations -- that Democrats fear will exacerbate income inequality and empower multinational corporations to challenge key regulations before an international tribunal. The administration contends the deal will fuel economic growth without sacrificing progressive values.

FCC Staff Recommends Hearing on Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

The Federal Communications Commission’s staff threw up a significant roadblock Wednesday to Comcast Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc., recommending a procedural move that could potentially sink one of the media industry’s biggest mergers in years.

The FCC staff reached a conclusion that the best option for the FCC is to issue a “hearing designation order,” according to people familiar with the matter. In effect, that would put the $45.2 billion merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, and would be seen as a strong sign the FCC doesn’t believe the deal is in the public interest.

BC Lions' Rent Contract for Publicly Owned Stadium Finally Public

The BC Lions pay no rent on the first $9 million of net ticket sales to play at BC Place Stadium, according to their contract with BC Pavilion Corporation that was released under freedom of information on April 21.

The contract was inked in fall 2011, after the stadium reopened from a $514-million renovation that included a new retractable roof. In 2013-2014, the public-owned stadium reported its latest annual loss, $13.3 million.

Jobless Folks, Working Moms, and More Left Out of Canada's Budget

Wasn't it always the student who kept asking for extensions on homework who always wound up turning in the poorest quality work? Finance Minister Joe Oliver tabled the 2015 federal budget on Tuesday, using some "creative" accounting to scratch out a small surplus. But despite taking a two-month extension, everyone from mainstream economists to First Nations to the YWCA to unions and ordinary Canadians are giving Mr. Oliver a failing grade on his first federal budget.

Packed with tax breaks for wealthy Canadians, and back-loaded with promises that won't pay out until four or five years from now, Tuesday's budget is entirely an election document and little more. Nothing new or unexpected, and perhaps this is why Mr. Oliver's first budget, in returning to balance, is so disappointing.

It's a missed opportunity.

Unions Brace for Battle Over Sick Days

A public sector union representing 55,000 workers has issued a scathing message to its members slamming the federal budget, chiefly its assertion that big bucks would be saved by revamping the federal employees' sick day system.

On Tuesday, the Tories released their first balanced budget since 2007, complete with a $1.4 billion surplus, which critics say came in part from shrinking the contingency fund and claiming $900 million would be saved on the sick day changes.

TFSAs, middle class focus of heated question period as Harper defends Oliver

Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to fight the Liberals on tax cuts during a fiery question period in which Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau attacked the Conservatives' newly tabled budget.

Mulcair, the NDP leader, and Trudeau, the Liberal leader, have condemned the government's plan to nearly double to $10,000 the limit for tax-free savings account contributions. They also say the government's income-splitting plan will mostly help the country's wealthiest families. Both parties seek middle-class voters in the lead-up to the 2015 election, and each argues it is the best choice to help the majority of Canadians get ahead.

Harper government threat to criminalize criticism of Israel generates strong opposition

In recent years, Israel and its allies have become increasingly concerned about the growing international movement to expose and sanction Israel’s behaviour. Their chosen response appears to be one designed to intimidate and suppress this opposition through the threat or actual use of legal punishments. Nowhere has Israel's call for help in this outrageous endeavor been more enthusiastically embraced than in the government of Stephen Harper, which is an unquestioning ally of the widely reviled Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party.

After Getting Called Out, Elizabeth Warren Accuses Obama Of Deliberately Hiding Trade Details

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on President Barack Obama to make details of the trade pact he is negotiating public a day after Obama said that Warren and other critics were wrong on the facts of the deal.

The Obama administration has briefed members of Congress on the deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but has blocked members from publicly discussing specifics. Last month, an Obama administration official told The Huffington Post that the briefings on the deal were classified because they were sensitive and ongoing.

Happy Bloody Earth Day

The temperatures are rising and so is the body count. Every year, more and more environmental activists—many of them first peoples on the front lines of the new global resource extraction wars—are killed. In 2010, the number was 96. In 2011, 106. Last year, 116 people were murdered defending their farms, community, or livelihood in land, logging, dam, or mining disputes, according to a new report out just in time for Earth Day by Global Witness.

Two-thirds of the killings take place in Latin America, according to the report, How Many More? Brazil at 29 murders and Colombia with 25 are the highest in total numbers. But Honduras, with 12 assassinations, is the most dangerous place to be in the world for a grassroots environmentalist, in terms of per capita killings. Global Witness highlights Honduras as a case study in its report, and the chapter is well worth a read.

Scott Walker Celebrates Earth Day by Proposing To Fire 57 Environmental Agency Employees

Happy Earth Day! Today is a day we can all band together and share our love for this beautiful planet—or at least drown our sorrows about climate change with nerdy themed cocktails. Later today, President Barack Obama will mark the occasion with a climate-focused speech in the Florida Everglades. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, had a different idea: Fire a big chunk of the state's environmental staff.

Leona Aglukkaq Claims Federal Budget Is Best One Ever For The Environment

OTTAWA - No previous federal budget has ever done more for the environment than the one delivered this week by the Conservative government, according to Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

The puzzling claim during a raucous question period in the House of Commons came a day after Finance Minister Joe Oliver tabled a 518-page document that contains no new spending or specific policy measures for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and mentions the issue of a "changing climate" just once — in relation to previously funded genome research on trees.

Environment, First Nations Get Small Slices Of Budget Pie

Tuesday’s budget made it clear that doling out tax breaks to Canadians was the Conservatives’ top pre-election priority, but with not much cash to go around, that generosity left little room for spending in other areas.

The chart below shows the money allocated to different areas from 2014 to 2020, as outlined in the “Prosperous Families and Strong, Secure Communities” section of the 2015 budget. Scroll over the chart to see how much money the Tories have devoted to different program areas.

Income-splitting announcement made against advice of top public servant

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced major fiscal policies in Vaughan, Ont., last fall against the advice of Canada's senior public servant, who said Parliament should be informed first, a newly disclosed document indicates.

Harper's unveiling of the $4.6-billion-a-year package of income-splitting and richer child-benefit cheques was made Oct. 30, about a month after he was advised that the House of Commons was the proper place to do so.

Most Conservative Republicans Still Don't Think Climate Change Is Happening, Poll Finds

A Gallup poll released Wednesday shows just how resistant some Republicans are to the science of climate change. In polling conducted over the past five years, 59 percent of self-identified conservative Republicans said they don't believe that climate change is happening now, and 70 percent said they don't believe humans are responsible for it.

Gallup asked about 6,000 Americans of diverse political ideologies whether the effects of global warming would be felt in their lifetimes, in future generations or not at all.

Redacted diary reveals oil's hidden route to Harper

Redacted entries in Mike Duffy’s diary suggest he was in regular undisclosed contact with pipeline giant Enbridge during the height of the federal government's scorching attacks on environmental activists and charities in 2012.

The suspended senator’s journal shows a flurry of conversations and emails with or about top-level Enbridge executives, then PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright and the Prime Minister between January and June of 2012, just as the National Energy Board started its hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

Freddie Gray in Baltimore: Another City, Another Death in the Public Eye

BALTIMORE — In life, friends say, Freddie Gray was an easygoing, slender young man who liked girls and partying here in Sandtown, a section of west Baltimore pocked by boarded-up rowhouses and known to the police for drug dealing and crime.

In death, Mr. Gray, 25, has become the latest symbol in the running national debate over police treatment of black men — all the more searing, people here say, in a city where the mayor and police commissioner are black.

CO2 Emissions Growth Takes a Bite Out of Apple's Sustainability Claims

Apple recently announced that it had spent $848 million on a 25-year purchase of solar power from First Solar in California. The deal makes Apple's US operations 100 percent powered by renewable energy, and is the largest solar deal on record. The company also announced in February a $1.8 billion plan for the construction and operation of two data centers in Ireland and Denmark that will provide renewably powered Apple data to its European customers, just as it already does for those in the United States. And on April 16, Apple announced a partnership with SunPower to build two solar plants in China, to power its corporate and retail facilities in the region.

According to its 2015 Environmental Responsibility Report, Apple has avoided about 750,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions since 2011 with its various energy-saving measures. In the midst of a climate crisis fueled by the burning of fossil fuels, these are undeniably good moves. As such, Apple is deservedly receiving praise for these efforts at its US operations.

Food bank use tops million mark over the past year

Recorded food bank use in the UK rose to record levels over in the past 12 months, challenging claims that the dividends of Britain’s economic recovery are being equally shared.

The latest figures from the Trussell Trust show a 19% year-on-year increase in food bank use, demonstrating that hunger and poverty continue to affect large numbers of people, including rising numbers of low-paid workers.

The trust’s 445 food banks distributed enough emergency food to feed almost 1.1 million people for three days in 2014-15 – up from 913,000 the previous year.

Tories Quietly Slip Tougher Copyright Rule Into Budget

The Harper government has introduced an extension of copyright terms as part of the federal budget, in a move that is likely a prelude to Canada signing a major new trade deal.

The budget tabled yesterday includes a measure that will extend copyright protection on audio recordings to 70 years as of the recording’s release, from the current 50 years.

The move has received praise from some corners of the music industry, including from famed crooners Leonard Cohen and Bruce Cockburn.

A ‘balanced’ budget built on sand — oilsands, actually

Finance Magician Joe Oliver did the expected, pulling a handful of rabbits out of his hat to achieve the long-promised balanced budget for 2015-16.

“Mission accomplished” for the Conservatives? Not quite.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be happy. Finance Minister Joe Oliver will be happy, as will every member of the Conservative caucus. Most importantly, the Conservative base is probably happy. The rest of the country probably doesn’t care that much.

Peter MacKay slams Supreme Court for quashing mandatory minimum gun sentences

Justice Minister Peter MacKay has publicly denounced the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down mandatory minimum gun sentences, arguing that the country’s highest court was relying on a “far-fetched hypothetical scenario” to mandate how Canada deals with armed criminals.

In a 6-3 decision last week, the Supreme Court quashed three-year minimum sentences for gun criminals on the grounds that the law could unwittingly target law-abiding duck hunters who were caught putting away their shotguns with cartridges still in the magazine.

No such duck hunter has ever been slapped with a mandatory minimum sentence, however — and the scenario was dismissed as “speculative” by the three dissenting justices.

Caterpillar’s CEO Just Got A Big Raise, And It Explains What’s Wrong With American Capitalism

Heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar gave its CEO a 14 percent raise last year, in a $17.1 million package of cash, stock, and other compensation that is hard to justify in light of the famed brand’s actual performance.
CEO Douglas Oberhelman’s big raise came despite a decline in Caterpillar’s sales. The company justified its decision to Crain’s by pointing out that Oberhelman oversaw a good year for the company as measured on a per-share basis. Those accounting metrics benefited from the company’s decision last year to buy back a bunch of shares to make Caterpillar look better on a per-share basis, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Hillary Clinton Calls For 'Toppling' The 1 Percent

Hillary Clinton believes that strengthening the middle class and alleviating income inequality will require "toppling" the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, according to a New York Times profile published on Tuesday.
The Times article quoted a host of Clinton confidants characterizing Clinton's economic policy record as a populist agenda akin to that of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). That includes a view that the ongoing accumulation of massive wealth at the top of the spectrum is holding back the broader economy.

Use Of EI Funds By Tories To Help Balance Budget Draws Criticism

The federal government is using $1.8 billion in surplus EI funds to help balance its books, drawing criticism from opposition parties and labour groups who say the money belongs in taxpayers’ pockets.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivered Tuesday the Tories’ long-promised balanced budget ahead of this year’s federal election — though it was one that eked out a very small surplus of $1.4 billion.

To get there despite a $6 billion decline in revenues due to falling oil prices, the government had to take $2 billion out of its $3 billion contingency fund and dip into the country’s EI fund.

Budget 2015: Here's a cheque, now go create some jobs

Oil prices are down. Economic growth is down. Employment rates are stagnant. Household debt is climbing to record highs. Canadians could use a break. The 2015 federal budget has one for you.
But there's a catch.
First you have to qualify: you need to be part of a couple; you need to have a child under 18; it would help if one of you in that couple made a whole lot more than the other; it would help if your household income was more than $200,000 a year.

Conservative budget balanced on the backs of the unemployed

Finance Minister Joe Oliver likes to say that most of the growth in jobs has been high wage, private sector growth. This is simply not true. Two-thirds of net new jobs created between 2008 and 2014 pay below average wages.
Own-account self-employment -- those self-employed workers who have no employees -- have dominated growth in self-employment and account for one-third of net new jobs since 2008. Another one-third net new jobs are temporary or part-time. And job growth has skewed to older workers, leaving young workers with few opportunities to find meaningful employment.

'Balanced Joe' Gives Bland Budget Speech Designed for the Hustings

It would be cruel -- but not inaccurate -- to suggest that the most exciting parts of the tedious budget speech delivered yesterday by Joe Oliver, the Conservative minister of finance, were his references to historic figures and events.

He mentioned the country's Fathers of Confederation, asserting: "I think they would be pleased with the Canada we have become."

Yes, he said that.

Harper's Pre-Election Budget Delivers Surplus, But Few Jobs

With a federal election looming in the fall, the Harper government tabled a budget in Ottawa on Tuesday with a $1.4 billion surplus.

Amid falling oil prices, the surplus was achieved in part by setting aside $1 billion for contingencies rather than the usual $3 billion.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the budget, the first surplus budget since 2007, would help ensure a secure future for the country.

"The federal budget is, on the face of it, about dollars and cents," Oliver said in his speech to the House. "But on a more fundamental level, it is a path to opportunity."

Budget features ‘shot across bow’ to public sector unions over sick leave

The Conservative government’s budget contains a “shot across the bow” to public sector unions with $900-million in savings on the sick leave and disability regime while negotiations over the plan are ongoing.

The 2015 budget, tabled after months of delay because of low oil prices, estimates $900-million in savings from the disability and sick leave management system in 2015-16, with further savings of $200-million and $100-million projected for subsequent years.

60 Canadian Business Leaders Sign Letter Against Bill C-51

It looks like the digital world is lining up against the Harper government’s Bill C-51.

A group of prominent executives from many of Canada’s tech companies has signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him “to scrap this reckless, dangerous and ineffective legislation.”

The five most outrageous things about the Conservative budget

With a document whose very timing, let alone content, was so transparently politicized and manipulative, it's hard to even know where to start.  Among the many galling, short-sighted, and ultimately destructive components of this federal budget, here are five that stand out in my view:
1. Timing. At a time of great economic uncertainty in Canada (arising from the sharp decrease in oil prices and growing evidence of serious economic trouble), the government chose to heighten the uncertainty by delaying its budget for several weeks. Turns out this was not because of uncertainty about oil prices. The delay was actually to wait until the fiscal year started, so they could sell the GM shares and use the net proceeds to help achieve the politically all-important "balance." This gaming of the process (let alone the content) of fiscal policymaking was shameful and reckless.

Three things you need to know before you read this year's budget

1. Canada's response to the recession not Best In Show, economically speaking
We've heard a lot about how Canada fared better than other nations during the global economic crisis. That’s because our economy was firing on all cylinders going into recession in 2007, the year before the crisis hit.
In fact, we entered this recession from a stronger economic position than the beginning of any other major recession since the Second World War.

Harper government uses sleight of hand to balance its budget

There's one measure in Finance Minister Joe Oliver's 2015 budget that even his harshest critics are likely to agree with: extending compassionate care benefits through Employment Insurance.

Those benefits will go from six weeks to six months, and will no doubt be welcomed by thousands of family caregivers.

In a rare instance for this government of following the evidence, the budget quotes a Parliamentary Committee report from 2011 that pointed out how desperate the lives of so many who care for sick or disabled relatives are, and how crucial their contribution to the economy is.