Posts from our progressive community

Groaning Beneath The Yoke

Politics and its Discontents - 3 hours 11 min ago
Last week, that paragon of rectitude, impartiality and righteousness (irony alert!), The Fraser Institute, performed its annual service to all Canadian by reminding us of the tax yoke under which we all groan:



This non-profit, tax-payer subsidized 'independent' think tank without a political agenda was keen to share details of our collective burden:
The Fraser Institute calculates that the average Canadian family paid $34,154 in taxes of all sort last year, including "hidden" business taxes that are passed along in the price of goods and services purchased.

The study's authors conclude that visible and hidden taxes would have been equal to 42.4 per cent of the cash income for an average Canadian family in 2015, estimated at $80,593.

By comparison, the study estimates the average Canadian family spent $30,293 on housing, food and clothing last year — about 37.6 per cent of the family's total cash income.Thanks to a largely compliant and/or lazy mainstream media, this is now being accepted as a factual and grievous injustice. However, leave it to Press Progress to provide some much-needed balance and perspective:
Although the Fraser Institute claims the average family spends 42% of its income on taxes, less than one-third of that number actually refers to federal and provincial income tax.

The Fraser Institute inflates its numbers by tacking on average costs for health insurance, pensions and employment insurance (as if they're all one in the same thing) and further pads their numbers by including corporate taxes and oil and gas royalties for some reason.

Fraser Institute defends their curious methodological choices by arguing "the cost of business taxation is ultimately passed onto ordinary Canadians."

Is that true? To the extent that taxes on corporate profits are passed along to anyone, a US study shows four-fifths of the corporate tax burden would be passed onto income earners in the top 20% – in other words, even by the Fraser Institute's own logic, it's not being passed on to the "average Canadian family."In a similar vein, that outlier of the mainstream media, The Toronto Star, offers offers this counsel about the alarmist report:
- it deceptively includes corporate taxes, which are largely shouldered by richer Canadians.

- as a share of Canada’s economy, taxes are now at a low rarely seen over the last three decades.

- the portion of income going to taxes has increased by only 7 per cent since 1961.The biggest flaw in the Fraser report, typical of the kind of right-wing propaganda it regularly disseminates, is the glaring omission of what we get for those tax dollars:
A 2009 report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that middle-income Canadians enjoy public services, from education to health insurance to pensions, worth about $41,000 annually per family – or roughly 63 per cent of their income. Conversely, we have watched as decades of tax cuts have led to eroding public services, but also to rising inequality, persistent homelessness, traffic gridlock and crumbling schools.So clearly, that yoke under which the Fraser Institute would have us believe we all slave isn't quite the burden they have presented. Indeed, many would not call it a yoke at all, but rather a representation of the values we hold dear as a society. But I guess the Fraser Institute lacks both the will and the tools to measure such vital intangibles.

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Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 3 hours 24 min ago
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jim Hightower argues that there's no reason the U.S. can't develop an economic model which leads to shared prosperity - and the ideas are no less relevant in Canada:
Take On Wall Street is both the name and the feisty attitude of a nationwide campaign that a coalition of grassroots groups has launched to do just that: take on Wall Street. The coalition, spearheaded by the Communication Workers of America, points out there is nothing natural or sacred about today’s money-grabbing financial complex. Far from sacrosanct, the system of finance that now rules over us has been designed by and for Wall Street speculators, money managers and big bank flimflammers. So, big surprise, rather than serving our common good, the system is corrupt, routinely serving their uncommon greed at everyone else’s expense.
...
The coalition’s structural reforms include:
1. Getting the corrupting cash of corporations and the superrich out of politics with an overturning of Citizens United v. FEC and providing a public system for financing America’s elections.

2. Stopping “too big to fail” banks from subsidizing their high-risk speculative gambling with the deposits of  ordinary customers. Make them choose to be a consumer bank or a casino, but not both.

3. Institute a tiny “Robin Hood tax” on Wall Street speculators to discourage their computerized gaming of the system, while also generating hundreds of billions of tax dollars to invest in America’s real economy.

4. Restore low-cost, convenient “postal banking” in our post offices to serve millions of Americans who’re now at the mercy of predatory payday lenders and check-cashing chains.- Juliette Garside reports on the EU's efforts to get the U.S. to agree to basic reporting to rein in offshore tax evasion. And Heather Long points out Joseph Stiglitz' criticisms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as enriching corporations at the expense of citizens.

- Amy Maxmen notes that a non-profit system can develop new drugs far more affordably than the current corporate model - and without creating the expectation of windfall profits that currently underlies the pharmaceutical industry.

- Jordan Press offers a preview the results of a strategy for homeless veterans featuring rental subsidies and the building of targeted housing units - which leads only to the question of why the same plan wouldn't be applied to address homelessness generally.

- Alan Shanoff comments on the many holes in Ontario's employment standards (which are generally matched elsewhere as well).

- Finally, Dougald Lamont highlights the many ways in which the Fraser Institute's anti-tax spin misleads the media about how citizens relate to Canadian governments.

But For Fortune

Northern Reflections - 4 hours 24 min ago

A little more than a year ago, the lifeless body of little Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach. His image went viral and struck a cord around the world. Last week, the image of another battered child -- Omran Daqnesshes, also victim of the war in Syria -- went viral. It reminded us of the depravity of which we are capable. But it should also remind us, Crawford Killian writes, of our duty to refugees and the benefits they bring with them:

If we treat them as unavoidable nuisances and a drain on our resources, they will become a drain indeed: underschooled, underemployed, alienated, linked to the rest of the country only through the police and social services bureaucracy.

But if we treat the thousands of Alan Kurdis and Omran Daqneeshes as an incredible stroke of luck, an opportunity to energize and sustain the country as a prosperous democracy, we will do very well indeed. They will enliven our classrooms, break our sports records, start new industries and do business around the world in English, French and Arabic.

Yes, they will bring unique problems that our schools and universities will have to deal with. But we’ve dealt with the traumatized and uprooted for at least 60 years, ever since we absorbed almost 40,000 Hungarians in a few months after the 1956 uprising. The University of British Columbia even took in a whole Hungarian school of forestry. We’re a lot better at it than we realize.
The argument against accepting refugees is always the same -- they're not like us. But, if our memories are long enough, we'll remember that we're all refugees. And, but for fortune, we'd be refugees today.

Image: thetyee.ca

Michelle Rempel and the Whitewashing of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - 4 hours 52 min ago


Well it seems that Michelle Rempel got what she wanted. Got comedian Mark Critch to surrender.

With a deranged Twitter rant, and a volley of vulgar words. 

Comedian Mark Critch has removed a photo mocking former prime minister Stephen Harper from his Instagram account following a barrage of tweets from a Conservative MP that included obscenities.

Which is both sad and pathetic.

But what the wretched Rempel will NEVER succeed in doing is bullying other Canadians into whitewashing the legacy of this pathetic loser.
Read more »

Jason Kenney's Shameful Virtual Reality Campaign

Montreal Simon - 7 hours 28 min ago


As we all know, Jason Kenney's burning ambition knows no limits.

Often exceeds the bounds of decency.

And his leadership abilities exist only in his fevered imagination.

And for more evidence of that please check out this photo from his Unite Alberta website.
Read more »

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 08/28/2016 - 10:37
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Chris Hamby starts off what looks to be a must-read investigation on the effect of ISDS rules by discussing how they're used to prevent governments from punishing corporate wrongdoing:
(A)n 18-month BuzzFeed News investigation, spanning three continents and involving more than 200 interviews and tens of thousands of documents, many of them previously confidential, has exposed an obscure but immensely consequential feature of these trade treaties, the secret operations of these tribunals, and the ways that business has co-opted them to bring sovereign nations to heel.
...
Reviewing publicly available information for about 300 claims filed during the past five years, BuzzFeed News found more than 35 cases in which the company or executive seeking protection in ISDS was accused of criminal activity, including money laundering, embezzlement, stock manipulation, bribery, war profiteering, and fraud.

Among them: a bank in Cyprus that the US government accused of financing terrorism and organized crime, an oil company executive accused of embezzling millions from the impoverished African nation of Burundi, and the Russian oligarch known as “the Kremlin’s banker.”

Some are at the center of notorious scandals, from the billionaire accused of orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme in Mauritius to multiple telecommunications tycoons charged in the ever-widening “2G scam” in India, which made it into Time magazine’s top 10 abuses of power, alongside Watergate. The companies or executives involved in these cases either denied wrongdoing or did not respond to requests for comment.

Most of the 35-plus cases are still ongoing. But in at least eight of the cases, bringing an ISDS claim got results for the accused wrongdoers, including a multimillion-dollar award, a dropped criminal investigation, and dropped criminal charges. In another, the tribunal has directed the government to halt a criminal case while the arbitration is pending.- And Dharna Noor interviews James Henry about the need for international cooperation - at both the government and public level - to crack down on tax evasion.

- Tyler Hamilton discusses the health effects of climate change. And Joseph Erbentraut examines how a changing climate is affecting both the quantity and quality of the water we depend on. 

- Kev responds to the spread of #goodriddanceharper by pointing out that as satisfying as it was to turf the Cons from office, we're still facing most of the same anti-social policies with a more media-savvy face. And Doug Nesbitt reminds us that the Trudeau Libs are no friends of labour - with Canada Post's appalling attacks on vulnerable workers serving as just the latest example.

- Finally, the Canadian Press reports on a much-needed push for resources to address mental health in Canada.

#GoodRiddanceHarper

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Sun, 08/28/2016 - 06:46
I didn't think I'd ever blog again especially with Harper as the subject matter, but here goes
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The Cons and the Cult of Political Violence

Montreal Simon - Sun, 08/28/2016 - 05:24


The other day I wrote about how the threat of political violence was growing in Canada, and about all the death threats aimed at Justin Trudeau.

I wondered why the Ambrose Cons weren't doing anything to rein in their violent supporters.  

And I also wondered why the MSM had ignored this story for so long, even though it's so obvious, so disturbing, and so dangerous.

So I'm glad to see that Chantal Hébert has noticed a foul stench in the air.
Read more »

A Chip Off The Old Blockhead

Northern Reflections - Sun, 08/28/2016 - 03:02


The New York Times has been looking into how the Trumps -- father and son -- have done business. Consider the following anecdote:

She seemed like the model tenant. A 33-year-old nurse who was living at the Y.W.C.A. in Harlem, she had come to rent a one-bedroom at the still-unfinished Wilshire Apartments in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens. She filled out what the rental agent remembers as a “beautiful application.” She did not even want to look at the unit.
There was just one hitch: Maxine Brown was black.
Stanley Leibowitz, the rental agent, talked to his boss, Fred C. Trump.“I asked him what to do and he says, ‘Take the application and put it in a drawer and leave it there,’” Mr. Leibowitz, now 88, recalled in an interview.
It was late 1963 — just months before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act — and the tall, mustachioed Fred Trump was approaching the apex of his building career. He was about to complete the jewel in the crown of his middle-class housing empire: seven 23-story towers, called Trump Village, spread across nearly 40 acres in Coney Island.
He was also grooming his heir. His son Donald, 17, would soon enroll at Fordham University in the Bronx, living at his parents’ home in Queens and spending much of his free time touring construction sites in his father’s Cadillac, driven by a black chauffeur.
“His father was his idol,” Mr. Leibowitz recalled. “Anytime he would come into the building, Donald would be by his side.”
Over the next decade, as Donald J. Trump assumed an increasingly prominent role in the business, the company’s practice of turning away potential black tenants was painstakingly documented by activists and organizations that viewed equal housing as the next frontier in the civil rights struggle.
And, when the Trumps were accused of discrimination in housing -- under the new Civil Rights Act -- young Mr. Trump reacted with what has now become a familiar routine:
“Absolutely ridiculous,” he was quoted as saying of the government’s allegations.
 Looking back, Mr. Trump’s response to the lawsuit can be seen as presaging his handling of subsequent challenges, in business and in politics. Rather than quietly trying to settle — as another New York developer had done a couple of years earlier — he turned the lawsuit into a protracted battle, complete with angry denials, character assassination, charges that the government was trying to force him to rent to “welfare recipients” and a $100 million countersuit accusing the Justice Department of defamation.
Mr. Trump is obviously a boar. And he's a chip off the old blockhead.
Image: nytimes.com

Dear Postmedia Editorial Board

Creekside - Sun, 08/28/2016 - 02:43
This : 
is not an adequate response or apology for what was previously published in that same space by the Postmedia Editorial Board on August 24th : "[Elizabeth] May must renounce anti-Israel resolutions". Excerpted :
You are not RebelMedia. You are not some partisan advocacy organization that can pass off the blame for this appalling libelous attack on some hapless newbie book reviewer - although I notice you share with them the phrase "figleaf of Jewishness". No, you are the editorial board of Vancouver's largest newspaper. Shame on you for stating Independent Jewish Voices supports terrorism and denies the Holocaust.
IJV Statement On Canadian Media Giant Libeling Us

Corey Levine : Why I Asked The Green Party To Challenge The JNF's Charitable Status


The only upside to this ridiculous op-ed is the thorough drubbing you received in comments below it. First five comments, excerpted :"As a former journalist and chair of Langara's journalism program, I'm shocked by the degree of distortion in this editorial.""This editorial is preposterous!""What a very sad editorial, full of errors and inaccuracies and probably conscious lies.""This 'editorial' is purposely disingenuous.""This editorial could have been written by the Likud party."Indeed.

Your op-ed also condemned a resolution sponsored by Elizabeth May and 28 other Greens calling for Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund, the largest private landowner in Israel. JNF has used its tax-deductible status in Canada to build and maintain the infamous “Canada Park” on the ruins of three Palestinian villages.  As you note in your correction, at the convention the language was watered down to call for any charitable organization's status to be revoked if they are in violation of Canadian or international law. 

In 2014 Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey was Honorary Chair of the Jewish National Fund's annual Negev Gala.  
Elizabeth May has attended their galas in the past and consulted with JNF CEO Josh Cooper prior to the Green Party convention vote.


The offending op-ed, now taken down, published in the Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen :









In February, the House of Commons passed a motion 229-to-51 condemning any actions by Canadian groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement. IJV was the first national Jewish organization globally to support the non-violent BDS movement; the Green Party is the first national party in Canada to follow suit. Bravo to you both.

h/t  Waterbaby
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Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 08/27/2016 - 15:42
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Erika Hayasaki surveys the developing body of research on how poverty and deprivation affect a child's long-term brain development:
Early results show a troubling trend: Kids who grow up with higher levels of violence as a backdrop in their lives, based on MRI scans, have weaker real-time neural connections and interaction in parts of the brain involved in awareness, judgment, and ethical and emotional processing....Though it’s still largely based on correlations between brain patterns and particular environments, the research points to a disturbing conclusion: Poverty and the conditions that often accompany it—violence, excessive noise, chaos at home, pollution, malnutrition, abuse and parents without jobs—can affect the interactions, formation and pruning of connections in the young brain.

Two recent influential reports cracked open a public conversation on the matter. In one, researchers found that impoverished children had less gray matter—brain tissue that supports information processing and executive behavior—in their hippocampus (involved in memory), frontal lobe (involved in decision making, problem solving, impulse control, judgment, and social and emotional behavior) and temporal lobe (involved in language, visual and auditory processing and self-awareness). Working together, these brain areas are crucial for following instructions, paying attention and overall learning—some of the keys to academic success.
...
The second key study, published in Nature Neuroscience , also in 2015 , looked at 1,099 people between ages 3 and 20, and found that children with parents who had lower incomes had reduced brain surface areas in comparison to children from families bringing home $150,000 or more a year.

“We have [long] known about the social class differences in health and learning outcomes,” says Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. But neuroscience has now linked the environment, behavior and brain activity—and that could lead to a stunning overhaul of both educational and social policies, like rethinking Head Start–style programs that have traditionally emphasized early literacy. New approaches, he says, could focus on social and emotional development as well, since science now tells us that relationships and interactions with the environment sculpt the areas of the brain that control behavior (like the ability to concentrate), which also can affect academic achievement (like learning to read).  - Adria Vasil discusses the worldwide trend of water being made available first (and for inexplicably low prices) to for-profit bottlers over citizens who need it. And Martin Regg Cohn examines how the story is playing out in Ontario in particular.

- Mike De Souza reports on how the National Energy Board, rather than acting as a neutral regulator, misled Denis Coderre to try to take free PR for both the NEB itself and fossil fuel development in general. And Carrie Tait points out how the Husky oil spill is raising questions about Saskatchewan's fully captured regulatory system. 

- Ian MacLeod reports on a sudden and unexplained increase in CSE interception of private communications.

- Finally, Andray Domise discusses what Colten Boushie's shooting and its aftermath say about the blight of racism in Canada.

Can We Undo Our Colonial Tragedy?

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 08/27/2016 - 13:56


Africa, the Middle East and South Asia are the worst afflicted. Go to the maps, find all the borders. The straight lines are the tell tales. That's the fingerprint of European colonialism from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Whether it's the handiwork of Sykes and Picot or Durand or any of the other European planners,  those lines were drawn to demark spheres of European control in distant lands and they were invariably drawn with scant regard for ethnic, religious, even tribal realities. Some people, such as the Kurds, saw their ancient homeland carved up and divided among a half dozen or more "states" from Iraq and Iran to Syria and Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the process the Kurdish land was wiped from the maps. We know what Saddam did to Iraq's Kurds. We know what Turkey has done to them. We know what has befallen Syria's Kurds. We should know. We, the West, were instrumental in their fate.

Damaging as those Euro-centric borders have been for the locals, even bigger problems loom.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looks deeply at the link between ethnic division, violence, and natural disaster data. It found that between 1980 and 2010, 25% of conflict outbreaks in "ethnically highly fractionalized countries" coincided with climate calamities, like drought, or heat wave. Globally, armed conflict and climate disasters only coincided 9% of the time.

Experts are usually careful to avoid saying that climate factors directly leads to war—usually it is described as an important exacerbating or escalating factor, and even that can be controversial or hard to prove. But as the study’s authors, based in Germany and Sweden, note: "Ethnic divides might serve as predetermined conflict lines in case of rapidly emerging societal tensions from disruptive events like natural disasters."

...this is bad news in some of the world’s most fragile places—which happen to be where climate change is expected to hit hard. Of the 33 countries predicted to experience "extreme water stress" by 2040, 14 of them are in the Middle East. Security experts, the authors write, are going to have to pay closer attention to these dynamics.

Says one co-author, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: "our study adds evidence of a very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace."

Can we undo our colonial tragedy? Probably not. No country, especially not Turkey, Syria or Iraq, would tolerate a reconstructed Kurdistan.  They consider the Kurdish ancestral land extinguished, subsumed.  The same thinking applies to the mish-mash of Sunni and Shiite states.
Some, such as Peter Galbraith, think the only future for Iraq lies in its dismemberment into a Shiite state in the south, a Sunni state in the middle and a Kurdish state in the north but that hardly seems feasible with endless conflict tearing at that region.
And so these mangled nations shall remain primed for climate change-driven ethnic, tribal and sectarian violence that could resemble the butchery we saw in Rwanda.

On Canada's East Coast, a Mirror Image

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 08/27/2016 - 12:32


I've written a number of posts on the influx of marine life into our local waters around Vancouver Island. It's like the entire food chain has shifted north, away from the warming Pacific waters to the south. It begins with bigger schools of herring and the arrival of sardines. As the prey fish migrate so too do their predators. As a result we've seen large increases across the board from prey fish to schools of dolphins, transient orcas, seals and sea lions, various once rare fish species, even pelicans.

Not surprisingly, Eastern Canada is witnessing the same thing. CBC News reports there's been a big uptick of marine biodiversity in the St. Lawrence River. Again it seems that the migration of prey fish, in this case capelin, may be the proximate cause.

[Quebec marine biologist Lyne Morisette] said observers have spotted more capelin than in summers past. Capelin are small fish that serve an important role in the ecosystem, feeding whales, seals, cod and sea birds.

She said in some places off the Gaspé coast, there are so many capelin that if you take a bucket out into one foot of water, you could catch a few.

One explanation could be the warmer water — the water temperature is about two degrees higher than it was a decade ago, she said.

"All species will adapt to that, either physically [to] be able to live in the warmer environment, or they'll move somewhere else" and be replaced by warm-water species moving north, she said.

Even Maine's vaunted lobster fishery is being hammered by warming waters. Fishermen there are coming up empty-handed as the lobsters are migrating into cooler Canadian waters.
This should be a warning to the world that climate change is upon us and it's coming on faster than we had imagined. There's no hoax behind the migration of fish, marine mammals and seabirds. They do pretty much as they like and we're damned fools if we don't heed their warning.

BDS, May And Israel’s Occupation

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 08/27/2016 - 09:32


The title for this post I took from the online flurry of letters that brought out the usual voices in The Star. I will reproduce a number below that both support and demonize the movement to sanction Israel for its depraved mistreatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. I remain convinced that words will accomplish nothing in this long and ongoing heartache. Only strong and principled action has a chance of success. For that reason alone, no concerted effort to label people like me and others who support the cause as anti-semitic will have any effect whatsoever.

Re: May shouldn’t run away from boycott, Opinion Aug. 22

Thank you very much for your publishing Linda McQuaig’s powerful piece. As a Jewish-Canadian, I am deeply concerned about our collective failure to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes, human rights violations and ongoing military occupation of Palestine. Support for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is not only growing among campuses, church and union groups, it is also increasing in our Jewish communities.

Why have we been silent? Why have we not understood that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. It is, in fact, pro-human rights and taking the collective wisdom of our peoples’ histories of being persecuted. Tragically, we know the impact of global silence in the face of state terror.

Those of use who care deeply about Palestinian human rights were thrilled to see the Green Party take a courageous stand in support of BDS. I am very hopeful that Elizabeth May will support this position. This is not a radical position. It is simply taking a very obvious, peaceful stance against violence.

Unfortunately, people who publicly criticize Israel (including journalists and Jewish people) are subject to violent threats and accusations of anti-Semitism.

Much gratitude to Linda McQuaig for her excellent commentary and her courage to speak out about such an important issue. And thanks to the Star for printing this. Although you will likely receive pushback from pro-Israel folks, please know you that you are giving voice to a position supported by many of us.

Alisa Gayle, Toronto

The problem with Ms McQuaig and her fellow travelers’ support of BDS is that it singles out Israel, not just in the region but amongst the nations of the world, and does nothing to move along the peace process. To say that the solution to the 100-year conflict lies solely on one side can only be rationalized by someone wearing blinders.

Ms May’s thoughtful rejection of supporting this movement should be praised. Ms McQuaig is the one to be admonished for her stance.

Morris Sosnovitch, Toronto

I agree with writer Linda McQuaig. The leader of the Green Party should not only stay but work as hard as ever that her party does not become the hijacked home base of the anti-Israel bashing club that singularly focuses on Israel and excludes all others.

The solidarity with Palestine is all well and fine except that there is only silence for the people of Sudan and Syria who we see slaughtered daily on a scale that is horrific and cruel.

The military occupation over Palestinian lands will end when there is trust and a true commitment in place to build peace based on a two-state solution by both sides. Peace will never flow by punishing and demonizing one side in a complicated two-sided conflict.

Elizabeth May needs to stay to fight for the soul of her party. She needs to ensure that the Green Party remains committed to real principles and not false narratives.

Martin Gladstone, Toronto

Linda McQuaig’s article presents several incorrect statements and a false narrative. BDS is not a “peaceful way to protest” Israel’s perceived misteps – it is an odious attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel. Palestinians live under Israeli occupation because Jordan refused to stay out of the Six Day War, forcing Israel’s hand to take the West Bank from Jordanian occupation. And the author fails to state that West Bank Palestinian Arabs enjoy far more rights than anywhere else in the Middle East.

David E. Bronfman, Toronto

The suggestion that the BDS movement is anti-Semitic is rooted in a narrative created by those who support the 49-year-long illegal occupation of Palestine. The ongoing violations by Israel of international human rights and humanitarian laws, the Fourth Geneva Convention and UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions are why the majority of Green Party members and others support BDS.

The desperate situation in Palestine has been thoroughly documented by reputable human rights agencies such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Defence for Children International.

This year the Israeli government has significantly reduced the water supply to Palestinians. In addition, in comparison to 2015, the Israelis have increased the rates of arrests of Palestinian children and youth and increased their destruction of Palestinian homes leaving Palestinian children homeless.

Those in the media have the responsibility to read the evidence regarding the situation in Palestine compiled by internationally credible non-governmental agencies before they accuse the BDS movement of anti-Semitism.

Rev. Steve Berube, co-chair, United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and IsraelRecommend this Post

Michael Harris On The Shabby Legacy of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Sat, 08/27/2016 - 05:37


Yesterday I wrote a short post about Stephen Harper's legacy. 

It had to be short because there wasn't much legacy to write about.

Only the lingering stench of a nightmare that had to be lived to be believed.

And after spending every single day for almost ten years writing about Harper and his filthy un-Canadian regime I'm just about out of words.

So I thought I'd let Michael Harris, who fought the tyrant so well, render the final verdict.
Read more »

Not With A Bang

Northern Reflections - Sat, 08/27/2016 - 05:04

When he was defeated by his arch nemeses -- the Liberals -- and by the young upstart he claimed simply "wasn't ready," Stephen Harper went dark. Michael Harris writes:

He gave not a single interview after getting waxed in the 2015 election by Justin Trudeau. Las Vegas proved more attractive to the MP from Calgary Heritage than the House of Commons, where, post-defeat, he lurked rather than sat. And while he was doing little for his constituents other than cashing his paycheck, he did find time to set up his political consulting company in Calgary after a few visits to U.S. casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the man who has promised, but not yet delivered, $100 million to support Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

Even Harper’s resignation was an in-house Harper job, controlling — and distorting — the message until the very end. Steve writing his own report card, as he did while in office. (Did Ray Novak shoot that cheesy video?)
Perhaps he thought that, after a good night's sleep, it would all go away. But it won't. His record will remain:

Here’s the real story. This ersatz economist delivered seven consecutive fiscal deficits and ran through the $13.8 billion surplus handed to him by the outgoing Liberal government of Paul Martin in a single year. The country’s economy grew at a snail’s pace, wages stagnated — and then the Great Navigator denied that the Great Recession of 2008 was happening during the federal election of the same year.

Throughout most of that time — while he was smothering critics, stifling information flow, practising vigilante justice on people like Mike Duffy and Helena Guergis without facts, attacking the Supreme Court, promoting unconstitutional legislation and surrounding himself with people even Trump might not feel comfortable with — nobody called him out for what he was. They were too afraid, because this guy took down numbers.
Neo-liberalism predated Harper's rise. And it lives on after it. But yesterday Stephen Harper's political career ended -- not with a bang but a whimper.


Michelle Rempel's Scary and Vulgar Twitter Meltdown

Montreal Simon - Sat, 08/27/2016 - 02:40


As I'm sure you know, Michelle Rempel had a huge crush on Stephen Harper. 

A crush tempered only by her even stronger desire to have his job.

And as I'm sure you also know she's also a lover of fine wines...



So I'm sorry to report that when she heard that Harper had resigned, her love for him, and her love of wine, may have led to her worst Twitter meltdown EVER !!!!
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/26/2016 - 17:23
Vanessa Peters - 206 Bones

Two Takes on Shifty Steve

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/26/2016 - 16:02
 You would never know they were talking about the same guy, Stephen J. Harper.

According to Kinsella, Shifty was an okay guy deep down. If only we had been as privileged to know him as WK did, we'd see him much differently and so it's "farewell, good luck and God speed."

For a slightly different take there's Michael Harris' eulogy, "Goodbye Harper, Good Riddance. How do you sum up the career of a guy who betrayed every ideal he claimed to cherish?"

In this passage, Harris lays bare our once prime ministerial malevolence:

Stephen Harper was Donald Trump before Trump was Trump, right down to the bigotry, fear-mongering, divisiveness, scapegoating, and profound anti-democratic impulses that had Canada’s entire parliamentary structure tottering, according to experts like Peter Milliken and Robert Marleau.

While others will remember amusing episodes involving personal encounters with Harper, I will remember the look on the face of Canada’s former nuclear safety commissioner, Linda Keen, while she recounted her personal destruction at the hands of his government because she wouldn’t sell out her mandate.

It was the same look I saw in Richard Colvin’s eyes when the former diplomat was smeared by Harper and Peter MacKay for the high crime of telling what he knew about the as-yet-unresolved Afghan detainee affair.

WK may fawn over the guy but Harper was a mean-spirited, brutal prick as a prime minister and, as Harris notes, the country is well rid of him. Even the dregs of the Conservatives who carry on admit as much.

Stephen Harper's Legacy

Creekside - Fri, 08/26/2016 - 15:59

Ten years ago on the day Stephen Harper and his Conservative government were first elected into office, US Ambassador David Wilkins sent home a diplomatic cable outlining how the US could best support and direct a prime minister whose values were "not in line" with most Canadians. 

He recommended Harper would be useful in "advancing the US agenda for Canada" and that giving him " a success story" like the softwood lumber deal would "shore up his credentials" with Canadians without appearing to "sell out to the Americans".

Ambassador Wilkins "transformational agenda" for Harper :

"Cross border law enforcement" "enhanced information sharing", "joint maritime operations", "more robust counter-narcotics efforts", "security perimeter", following the US lead on Haiti, Afghanistan, Iran, Venezuela, Colombia, ...


Has Canada done anything independent of this cable under Harper?
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