Posts from our progressive community

Spikes Don't Prevent Jumper From Whitehouse Lawn

LeDaro - 2 hours 32 min ago
Secret Service is investigating the first White House fence scaler since spikes were installed last summer. The first family was at home celebrating Thanksgiving when the incident happened.

Erdoğan's goose is cooked

Metaneos - 4 hours 28 sec ago
Fittingly, a day after the US' Thanksgiving holiday, we're starting to smell roasted bird. That would probably be Erdoğan. He's well done, as of now. Cooked to perfection.
Now, it's a matter of time. Waiting for him to be finished, entirely.
For the time being, NATO's hung him out to dry. They've denounced Russia's retaliations, but have actually done nothing else. Article 5's not even in play. It's been skirted around, and all but dismissed entirely.
At this point in time, Turkey's only a member of NATO in name only.
This is especially important, knowing Russia's not interested in attacking Turkey, but has made it known they'll retaliate to any attack on their forces, going all out. They've basically triple-dog-dared Turkey to attack them, too, brushing aggressively close to Turkey's border, and doubling down on attacks on the people Turkey had demanded Russia not attack, the Turkmen. And now Syria finally has access to Russia's best weapons, which is something Turkey had been dreading for years.
And Turkey's declared they'll suspend all flights over Syria. At this point in time, it might as well be construed Turkey's retreated so far from its former position they're metaphorically up against their backs leaning against their border with Bulgaria with nowhere else to go.
Erdoğan's been sidling back up to Putin, too, trying to beg him, without appearing to do so, to speak with him at Paris. It's as though he's sobered up, realizing he's become overnight a lame duck on the international stage.
It stinks like Erdoğan got played. This is simply too convenient for all other players involved in the region. The US has been annoyed by Turkey's attacking the Kurds, whereas Russia's been annoyed at Turkey funding ISIS.
Russia has given Turkey an out of this mess. Apologize for the attack. Erdoğan's refused to do so, thus far. But that could probably save his career if the kingmakers in Turkey decide to appease Russia.
Ah, now that I think about it, perhaps my imagination is too vivid. This is all conjecture, and I'm following a line of thought that might not have much basis in fact.
At any rate, perhaps the West and Russia are done with Erdoğan. Maybe they've decided they don't need a strongman in Turkey, but someone more pliant to outside interests?
Ah, whatever. At the very least, the threat of war seems to be gone. We can probably all breath again.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 4 hours 3 min ago
Assorted content to end your week.

- Mariana Mazzucato discusses the futility of slashing government without paying attention to what it's intended to accomplish. And Sheila Block and Kaylie Tiessen are particularly critical of Ontario's short-term sell-offs which figure to harm public services and revenues alike in the long run:
The sale of Hydro One isn’t the only longer-term pain that is being inflicted by today’s economic update. The Finance Minister has recommitted the government to medium program expenditure growth of less than 1 per cent.

A continuation of the government’s deficit elimination plan means that government spending on public services will continue to fall far behind both inflation and population growth...

In 2015-16, government spending is 5.7% below what it would have been if real, per capita spending simply stayed at 2010 levels.

That’s a $6.9 billion gouge in public services that makes itself known through the affordable housing waitlist, the missed targets in the Ontario poverty reduction strategy, and the growing class sizes students and teachers find themselves facing.

Once again, we find ourselves calling for an adult conversation, but this time it is about both taxes and deficits.- Nora Loreto looks to Quebec's anti-austerity strikes as an important example of what workers can do when they join together. And Susan Berfield details Wal-Mart's efforts to stop social progress through security state-style surveillance of its employees (and anybody who might seek to improve their wages and working conditions).

- Greg Quinn reports on Mike Moffatt's observation that tax revenue collected at the federal level is far less easily avoided than that based on a single province's system. And Canadians for Tax Fairness highlight a few of the worst offenders amount Canada's corporate tax avoiders. 

- George Monbiot comments on a public environmental survey which actually revised participants' answers to suit business interests - while noting that the technological glitch responsible was all too consistent with the conservative pattern of subverting the idea of public consultation.

- Finally, Marc Lee takes a look at Alberta's new climate change plan. And Martin Lukacs rightly recognizes that it should represent only the start of a shift away from the dominance of the oil sector.

The Day Justin Trudeau Left Stephen Harper in the Dust

Montreal Simon - 4 hours 19 min ago

For years Stephen Harper attacked Justin Trudeau as only a bully and a political pervert could.

Smearing him in every possible way, distorting his words, questioning his masculinity, and trying to brainwash us into believing that he was just not ready.

And for years Justin just shrugged those attacks off, much to my dismay. Because I believe that bullies should be taught a lesson, put down, and humiliated.

But in London yesterday, at last, Trudeau finally rang Harper's bell.

Read more »

Another Challenge

Northern Reflections - 5 hours 18 min ago


Stephen Harper used to talk about the virtue of individual responsibility. But, when it came to defending an individual's civil liberties, all of that rhetoric went up in smoke. RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson  believes -- as Harper did -- that civil liberties get in the way of good police work. Michael Harris writes:

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson wants warrantless access to online subscriber information. That, in itself, is not remarkable. Police always want fewer obstacles between their work and the people they pursue — more John Wayne, less Perry Mason. It’s the old argument: It’s plenty hard enough to catch the bad guys, we’re told, without bureaucrats putting roadblocks in the way of the good guys.

It wouldn’t surprise me to find small graven images of Stephen Harper and Vic Toews on Commissioner Paulson’s desk, given how much he sounds like them. Harper and Toews both saw the world the way Paulson does, in binary black and white: Give the police the power they ask for and forget about the implications for civil liberties.

Harper simply didn’t give a hoot about privacy issues from the point of view of the individual. This is the man who gave us Bill C-51, after all. Harper’s approach to privacy law always came down to reduced protection for individuals online and far more power for police and other security services. Bill C-13 (the so called ‘cyberbullying’ law) and Bill S-4 (the Digital Privacy Act) were all about invasion of privacy without consequences for the invaders.
To Harper and Paulson it doesn't matter that the Supreme Court upheld the right of internet privacy in R v Spencer.  The police, the court ruled, need a warrant to search internet subscriber information:

And it wasn’t just a matter of names and addresses, as the old Harperites and the police always insisted in their zeal to pursue a bad idea. It was high-tech snooping without due process or independent oversight. The high court saw far greater values to protect than the right of police to snoop.
But, unlike Harper, Paulson hasn't gone away. He represents another challenge which the Trudeau government faces.

Some Downtime

Politics and its Discontents - 5 hours 22 min ago

We are heading off for an inexpensive week in Cuba. It really pays to travel before high season kicks in. I'll be back at the computer in about a week.

See you then.Recommend this Post

Why the Canada Revenue Agency Needs to be Investigated

Montreal Simon - 10 hours 15 min ago

It's the burning question that remains to be answered about Stephen Harper 's monstrous years in power. The one that could make him Canada's Richard Nixon. The one that could send him to prison.

Did he or did he not order or pressure the Canada Revenue Agency to go after his political opponents, and audit and harass one left-wing charity after the other?

And because it's the kind of question that could shatter the confidence citizens should have in their government, I believe it demands an answer.

So I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who wants the Trudeau government to set up a Commission of Inquiry. 
Read more »

I'm Just Not Sure Anyone Who Matters Really Believes It.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 10:31

We should all defer to the science types and their powerful consensus when it comes to us, the laity, having to make decisions on complex issues such as climate change. I have no scientific background in these things but I do follow these issues, take a course every now and then and read what can seem to be a river of 'executive summaries' of new research studies and reports.

We live in a world that has become managed by administrators following belief-based ideologies, often little more than dogma. It's the confusion, the inconsistencies and contradictions that give it away. When something doesn't seem to be working you can usually find some sort of belief-based thinking at the root of the problem. It's a world of fundamentalism fueling ever more fundamentalism. That is why evidence-based information is so refreshing, even reassuring. It means the guy behind the wheel actually has his eyes on the road ahead. That's a good thing.

It can also be a source of great worry. For example, next week's global climate summit, COP21, in Paris.  COP21, that's a lot of COPs, too many. The number reflects, in no small way, the obstructive power of belief-based thinking of the sort we experienced from our man, Harper, Australia's Harper clone, Abbott, and the neo-conservative Bush administration. There was a bag of fundamentalists and, thanks to their handiwork, any chance at an effective agreement on forestalling the worst impacts of climate change was kicked down the road, again and again and again. Which is why we're at #21.

The important thing is what the science types are telling us is the unique significance of COP21 that distinguishes it from, say, COP7 or COP16 or any previous COP.  What a lot of them are saying is that this one, COP21, being held next week in Paris, is our "last best chance" to find a solution that could fend off catastrophic, runaway global warming. Scientific American has labeled COP21 a "do or die" summit. SA has loads of articles on what we need to do in Paris next week.

"We have entered what might be called the Anthropocene thermal maximum, an era of global warming driven by one species penchant for burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. Right now in 2015 may be the last time anyone breathes air with average CO2 concentrations below 400 ppm, as this number marches seemingly inexorably upward. But we don't have to keep adding to that number forever."
Over at, COP21 is heralded as the "last best chance for the world to save itself."

"We are out of time to start swiftly cutting emissions and regrowing our forests and grasslands. There may be ways in which climate change isn’t as dangerous as nukes, but one way in which it is even more so is its irreversibility. If you fail to strike a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran in 2014, you can make one in 2015. As long as they don’t yet have nukes, the crisis has been averted for the time being. Climate change doesn’t work like that. If you fail to strike a climate deal and coal plants and tankers and cars keep spewing carbon pollution, you cannot undo those emissions. The failures of Kyoto and Copenhagen and the years that followed have left us up against a wall. The countries of the world must come together now or they will suffer together later."

Our current prime minister is promising a new and invigorated approach to fighting anthropogenic global warming and, with the possible exception of Saskatchewan, he seems to have the premiers onside. What is unclear is whether any of our leaders, federal or provincial, really believe this is our last best chance, our do or die moment. Can they somehow wrench this issue from the gaping maw of partisan politics? Will they do what the crisis demands or settle for as much and as little as they think they can get away with? If, when they return to Canada you begin hearing weasel words and the sound of cans being kicked down the road you'll have a pretty good indication.

Oh, I Get It. This Is How You Try to Spin War Crimes Into Human Error.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 08:25

The establishing point:  the U.S. military command has issued such a string of inconsistent explanations and excuses, effortlessly shifting from one to another as they were disproven that it doesn't get the benefit of the doubt this time around.

The issue: the devastating attack on a hospital operated by Medecins san Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) in Kunduz, Afghanistan  that appears to have been aimed at exterminating Taliban wounded being treated inside.

Now it's "Shucks, gosh - it was human error. Now, for the first time, we'll explain it away by convincing you that we were really trying to destroy the building beside the hospital. We missed. Sorry. These things happen."

Sorry but when you make a firing run on a building with an aerial Death Machine like the AC-130 Hercules, "oopsie" is no defence. The attack went on and on while MSF was on the phone to 'allied' headquarters pleading (to no avail) to call off the airstrikes.

If you want us to believe it was all a mistake, it's on you to prove that. Explain how that happens in your AC-130 with all its electronics and communications gear. Maybe this is your worst possible defence which is why you left it to last.

A Couple of Historic Insights to Help You Make Sense of the Fiasco in Syria

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 08:23

Some Russians have described [Wednesday's] shoot-down in larger historical terms: it is the first time that there has been a real, military conflict between Russia and NATO, wrote the liberal Russian officialdom, however, is framing this squarely as a conflict between Russia and the hotheaded, trigger-happy Turks. Wednesday’s evening news, dedicated almost exclusively to the incident, made much hay out of the fact that Washington and Europe, even NATO, spent all of Tuesday chastising Turkey and throwing cold water on the idea that one plane and one territorial incursion would lead to a wider conflict.

If anything, NATO and the Europeans are the good guys in this interpretation of events — certainly a first in recent Russian history. Why? Because Turkey, the villain in this story, is trying to derail a grand, historic coalition against terrorism, one that has Russia as its main axis. The de-escalation facilitated by Western powers, the evening news report noted, “is needed so that this conflict doesn’t harm the fight against terrorism in general and against ISIS specifically.” That is, Russia sees itself as doing the work necessary to protect the civilized world against the threat of terrorism, work that benefits France, Britain, and the United States as much as it benefits Russia. (Left unstated is the assumption that it doesn’t benefit Turkey, or its Islamist-sympathizing government.) It is analogous to the way Russia has portrayed its role in World War II, especially recently: Russia fought back the menace of fascism for the good of the ungrateful West, which would have drowned if not for Moscow’s help.

This is why, beneath the propaganda and cynical geopolitical maneuvering, Moscow finds Western critiques about its role in Syria so deeply frustrating, insulting even. To Russia, such complaints are as old as time, centuries-old efforts to block Russian imperial ambitions at every possible turn for no apparent reason — even to the point of lining up with the Muslim Ottomans against Christian Rus in the mid-19th century. 

Forcillo's Fairy Tale

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 08:20
It's hard to imagine what the jury is going to make of this James Forcillo's explanation of why he emptied his service pistol, nine rounds in all, into Sammy Yatim while the young man was standing in the aisle of a Toronto streetcar. According to Forcillo:

"The first sets of shots were fired because I believed Mr. Yatim was armed with a knife and was in the process of coming off the streetcar at me," Forcillo told Ontario Superior Court yesterday.

"The second shots were fired because I believed Mr. Yatim was in the process of getting off the streetcar to continue his attack."

Forcillo's sworn evidence is plausible except for three or four minor problems. These are the videos from the streetcar onboard cameras and the cellphone recordings made by bystanders who witnessed the execution.
The videos show that Yatim never even set foot in the streetcar stairwell. He remained by the driver's station in the aisle. They also show that Forcillo's first shot put Yatim down. The kid never got up again as the Toronto cop fired the remaining eight rounds into the young man. Sure, his legs seemed to flinch with each subsequent bullet, but bullets do that to bodies.
Forcillo "believed Mr. Yatim was in the process of getting off the streetcar to continue his attack." What attack? There was no attack either before or after Yatim was cut down. There was nothing that could be continued. 

The onboard streetcar security camera shows Yatim going down with the first shot and it's obvious from the image of Yatim's running shoe at the bottom of the screen that he doesn't get up even as Forcillo keeps firing. Finally an entire pack of Toronto's finest storm the bus, the first cop in pausing to taser the mortally wounded young man twice before another cop rolls Yatim's body over like a sack of potatoes thereby completely messing up the crime scene.
I'm sorry, Toronto, but if that's what you've got for cops you've got a problem, a cop problem. How many more Forcillos are on the police roster? I'll bet there are plenty.

Fear And Loathing

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 07:57

I remember very vividly when I was a young fellow how much the police seemed to be a part of the community. When I was in high school, I had a weekend job in a restaurant that often saw me walking home about 2 a.m., and more times than not I would see an officer walking the beat; to exchange brief nods of hello was not unknown. Since then, much rhetoric about community policing notwithstanding, it seems that police, ensconced in their cruisers, hidden away by body armour and increasingly presented as a paramilitary presence, that connection with the community seems to be quite frayed and in many instances lost.

Today, it would seem, police in many jurisdictions seem more intent on stilling fear than in inculcating trust. Says Michael Spratt, a Canadian legal expert,
"... there’s no question that Canadian police sometimes look more like post-apocalyptic military mercenaries than protectors of the peace. Our police services have been acquiring more and more military toys — a dangerous trend that’s gotten little in the way of critical analysis in the mainstream media."[16]

Growing numbers of Canadian police agencies have acquired armored vehicles in recent years.[17] In 2010 the Ottawa Police Service bought a Lenco G3 BearCat armored personnel carrier for $340,000, which has "half-inch-thick military steel armoured bodywork, .50 caliber-rated ballistic glass, blast-resistant floors, custom-designed gun ports and... a roof turret."[18]

The G20 protests in Toronto in 2010 showed that the militarization of protest policing is not only occurring in the United States. Police used a sound cannon, or Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) -- a weapon that was developed for use in conflicts in the Middle East, as well as barricades, pre-emptive arrests and riot units.[19]

The Lenco BearCat Armored Personnel Carrier
According to Kevin Walby, an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg, "the more interesting aspect of the militarization of the police is actually on the strategy side"; police are "increasingly training with military-style tacticians, especially when it comes to situations like crowd control and, increasingly, surveillance."[20]
And yet police seem deeply offended that their motives are increasingly being impugned as more and more stories of their abuse of citizens emerge, and it becomes increasingly evident that those who should be controlling them, police services boards, are rarely showing the backbone to challenge their thuggery.

The authorities will just have to learn to live with public criticism and condemnation. As the following two letters from The Star make clear, it is wholly justified:

No excuse for violent police assault, Letters Nov. 23
Unfortunately this result of interaction between police forces and the public is becoming increasingly prevalent – perhaps a direct result of the justice system’s seemingly complacent attitude towards it. It is further aggravated by a change in attitude amongst the police forces with respect to the image they choose to project.

In my youth a typical police officer was neatly dressed, clean shaven and noticeably respectful of the public they served. I can point to the police force serving my community as an example of the changes made to that image. Their staff, both civilian and constabulary seems to have been infused with an attitude of disdain for the public.

The officer of my youth has been replaced with an outwardly authoritarian figure sporting one of those closely trimmed “macho” beards to augment his display of tattoos. No longer is he dressed down, but openly displays his array of offensive weaponry topped off with body armour portraying an image of intimidation and fear rather than being ready to be of assistance.

Disappearing are the white cruisers with red and blue identification; replaced by black and white vehicles – again with the connotation of intimidation. The supposedly “unmarked” vehicles are dark gray “muscle” cars complete with deeply tinted windows and black rims. All this helps to instill an image of fear of the police in the public’s eye and I believe that is exactly what is intended.

Some serious training in public relations would certainly seem warranted. The phrase “respect must be earned” was never more appropriate.

Don Macmillan, Oakville

The video of this incident was brutal as well as shocking. The police, whose motto is “To serve and protect,” are doing neither. Three officers are seen punching a defenceless man who is face-down on the ground. They continue their assault as the victim pleads with them to stop, to no avail.

In the end, the man is placed in a cruiser for a time, then released without any charges being laid.

This incident is not being investigated by the SIU because there were no “serious” injuries incurred by the victim.

These officers are emulating some of their American counterparts who have been seen on video shooting a fleeing, unarmed man in the back, and choking another unarmed man, to name a couple of similar instances of police brutality.

If three citizens assaulted someone in this manner, they would be charged and jailed. Because this involves police officers, it will probably be “swept under the rug.”

Already the police are preparing for this process by refusing to release the names of those officers who were involved.

Warren Dalton, ScarboroughRecommend this Post

Canucks at Wild, Nov. 25, 2015, Final Score, 3-2

Metaneos - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 06:54
Good game for the Canucks. They pulled out a win by the skin of their teeth. They had some fortuitous luck, too.
Some notes,
Sedins were outshot whilst on the ice, this game, but their line scored two points. It doesn't seem like the Sedins were outshot, though.
Vrbata scored two goals. Finally had some production to go along with his great play. Vancouver really need to assess if they wish to keep him for next season. If not, they should consider finding another team for him in exchange for picks or prospects.
Edler and Tanev have been playing well lately. Makes me wonder what the hell other observers are seeing to be calling Edler a terrible player. His play is solid, and his Corsi stats back this statement up. He's at the same level this year as he was last year. And he was near incredible, last year.
Same goes for Hamhuis and Weber. They've been solid, if not spectacular. The Canucks should consider resigning both for next season, if possible. If not, then they should look to trade both.
Really, what this team has problems with is not their defense, aside from Luca Sbisa, but rather with the inexperience from their younger players. Tonight, they played well together. It's not always the case, but so long as they continue to try to improve their team play, they'll keep improving. Their individual skills got them this far, now it's about the team.
Luca Sbisa's not a very good defender. His problems stems from his poor puck control. Not just once did Canucks' players refrain from passing him the puck in their own zone, even under pressure. The Wild were targeting Sbisa, all night, dumping the puck into his area, and then forcing his unit into making quick decisions, which is something else Sbisa struggles with. It seems the coaching staff has recognized Sbisa's difficulties, though, and have been giving him less responsibility while on the ice, which is good for him and the team. He's also playing a full two minutes less a game, now.
Bartowshi's been doing yeoman's work, paired with Sbisa. Tough minutes for him, but he hasn't let Sbisa's pizzas affect him too much. A solid third pairing defense man, through and through.
Hopefully, there aren't many more injuries to the Canucks defense. Losing Edler or Tanev or even both would probably turn the Canucks' game into a gong show. We don't want a gong show, although that would probably be entertaining in its own little way.
Next Canucks game is on Friday against the Dallas Stars. That should be interesting. When's the last time the Canucks have beaten them? It's been years, innit?

The world may be a bit crazy right now…

Trashy's World - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 06:36
… but at least the weather is awesome – if you are a winter-hater like me! No white death powder in the forecast well into December! Woot! Yeah, Turkey has provoked war with Russia, the whole freaking world is freaking freaked out by what happened in Paris and security is at its highest since 9/11 […]

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 06:18
Here, on how Brad Wall is looking like more and more of a climate change laggard compared to every other leader in Western Canada.

For further reading...
- CTV broke down the state of provincial climate commitments here. But as John Klein noted, the Saskatchewan Party has long since tried to hide its former promises.
- I've previously linked to reporting and analysis on Alberta's recent climate change plan. And CJOB reports that Manitoba will be unveiling its new plan shortly.
- Environment Canada has data on emissions by province here, including British Columbia's drop since 2005 (along with every other province east of Manitoba).
- Meanwhile, for background information on emissions by industry and sector, see Environment Canada's national sectoral breakdown here, as well as Saskatchewan's more specific one here.
- Finally, CBC reported on SaskPower's recent renewable energy announcement, while SaskPower's own explanation and analysis seems to be limited to a blog post (offering all the more reason to think it's more posturing than policy). And Murray Mandryk offered his take on the announcement as well.

Rick Mercer and the Refugee Lifeline

Montreal Simon - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 05:54

As you know, I believe the challenge of settling thousands of Syrian refugees in this country is a gift not a burden.

A chance to show that after the darkness of the Harper years, we still remember what it means to be a Canadian.

So although the Con media is running around gleefully screaming "broken promise!!!! broken promise !!!!!"

I'm glad Justin Trudeau has decided to give us two more months to get ready to receive them. 
Read more »

Putting The Numbers In Perspective

Northern Reflections - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 05:47

Canadians across the country are getting ready to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees. In the small community in which my wife and I live, a family of 11 arrived two months ago. But before we begin congratulating ourselves too heartily, Jeff Sallot writes, we should put that number -- 25,000 -- in perspective:

While 25,000 might seem like a big number, it’s still only 10 per cent of the total number of immigrants to Canada in an average year.

On the other hand, 25,000 is two-and-a-half times the number of Syrian refugees the United States plans to admit next year. Now that is shocking.
And, given the number of people who have fled Syria, that number is a mere drop in the bucket:

The UN has registered more than 4 million refugees who have fled Syria for safety. There are at least 1 million more who have not been registered. Inside Syria itself, about 7 million have been displaced by the civil war. Half of Syria’s prewar population has been forced to move.

These are the fortunate few. An estimated 250,000 have been killed in the conflict. For every one refugee who arrives in Canada, ten have already perished.

These three frontline countries rarely offer refugees resettlement, permanent residency or a path to citizenship. The Syrians live in shantytowns on the fringes of cities or in camps, some for more than two years now.

The frontline governments hope a political settlement can be reached in Syria so that the refugees can go home — the sooner the better. Many displaced Syrians reckon they have nothing to go back to. They would rather take their chances on the seas, or wait patiently for a country like Canada to accept them as permanent residents.
There is much more which needs to be done. And now that Vladamir Putin has installed anti-aircraft missiles which can shoot down coalition bombers, the situation could get much worse.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 05:28
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- George Monbiot discusses the inherent conflict between consumption and conservation:
We can persuade ourselves that we are living on thin air, floating through a weightless economy, as gullible futurologists predicted in the 1990s. But it’s an illusion, created by the irrational accounting of our environmental impacts. This illusion permits an apparent reconciliation of incompatible policies.

Governments urge us both to consume more and to conserve more. We must extract more fossil fuel from the ground, but burn less of it. We should reduce, reuse and recycle the stuff that enters our homes, and at the same time increase, discard and replace it. How else can the consumer economy grow? We should eat less meat to protect the living planet, and eat more meat to boost the farming industry. These policies are irreconcilable. The new analyses suggest that economic growth is the problem, regardless of whether the word sustainable is bolted to the front of it.- And David Roberts argues that Alberta's new climate change plan is well-designed precisely because it includes measures to cut down on consumption rather than aspiring to right-wing notions of revenue neutrality.

- Adrienne Montani makes the case for a plan to reduce child poverty in British Columbia. And Leilani Farha writes that the anticipated arrival of a new group of refugees should serve as an opportunity to evaluate and improve the plight of people already living in poverty.

- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom points out that the Libs' pattern of walking back their most immediate post-election promise to help Syrian refugees bodes poorly for the rest of their campaign commitments.

- Finally, Don Lenihan comments on the psychology of the politics of fear:
Terrorism is effective not because groups like ISIS are so powerful, but because they are so good at turning our own psychology against us. Suicide bombings fool the brain into believing an evil empire is invading our shores.
There is a vicious circle here that, ironically, turns us all into ISIS recruits, first, by getting us to agree to play the game by their rules; and then by drawing us deeper and deeper into its clutches. At the same time, talk of the need for ever-greater security and surveillance invades our public discourse. The politics of fear starts creeping in.

The moral is that the terrorist threat to our freedom and safety comes less from the thugs at ISIS than from ourselves. We hold ourselves hostage to a discourse of fear, then use it to sideline democracy in order to protect ourselves from the very threat we have manufactured.

A closer look at the CRTC Voter Contact Registry

Creekside - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 04:37
The Fair Elections Act mandated the first ever Voter Contact Registry. Phone-bank companies, candidates, political parties and third party groups hiring an outside company to make live and robo calls had 48 hours from the start of their use in a campaign to register with the CRTC. Parties and candidates making their own in house calls were not required to register. The DoNotCall list does not apply to political calls.
This same Fair Elections Act prevented release of the list til a month after the election. This meant voters were unable to check it to see if the calls they were receiving were legitimately registered with the CRTC - not that it would have mattered in the case of Pierre Poutine in the last election as he hid his use anyway.
The CRTC list was published a week ago: "A total of 1460 registrations have been filed to the CRTC for the 42nd General Election, including 554 from calling service providers and 906 from other persons or groups."So taking a quick look ... CRTC lists each candidate and the phone services they used so I added the names up and crossed off duplicate use of a company by the same candidate. Many individual candidates listed several companies used more than once.

At first glance, the list appears to be one long list of Con MP names :
118 Con candidates used Responsive Marketing Group (RMG), for live calls92 Cons used ElectRight for live/robo calls or both, Bergen, Clement, Raitt, Nicholson, and Scheer among them.38 Cons used Nik Kouvalis' Campaign Research/Campaign Support for live/robocalls or both, including Harper, Poilievre, Oliver, Alexander, Rempel, Leitch, O'Toole, Lukiwski  But First Contactwhich told CBC that in the 2011 election it "provided services to more than 80 Liberal candidates", is listed on CRTC's 2015 Voter Contact Registry simply as 
"First Contact (Ontario 1999) - Liberal candidates"No names or numbers so we don't know how many Liberals signed up with them for how many calling contracts this time.

Likewise NGP VAN, a Washington DC company used by Obama in 2012, is just listed as having done robocalls for "Liberal Party of Canada candidates" and live calls for "Liberal Party of Canada", so again ... no idea how many Libs used NGP VAN (Voter Action Network).

I wonder on what grounds the CRTC allowed NGP VAN and First Contact off the hook about their specific use in a list that is supposed to be about public disclosure. 
Glen McGregor writes : Compared to their rivals, Tories used a whack more telephone contact firms during the election
but I don't think we can know that if the candidates and numbers for two big firms are missing.

Onwards ...
127 Liberals used Prime Contact IncOnly 4 Cons used RackNine this time round, Jason Kenney being most notable.5 NDP candidates used Strategic Communications. This appears to comprise the entire extent of reported NDP phone campaigning for individual candidates. There were another 4 for the NDP Party at large. The bulk of Strategic Comm users were third party groups like unions, Greenpeace, and Council of Canadians.And lastly, a brief look at Blue Direct, new to me and used by Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, and 10 other Cons for both live and robo calls according to the CRTC list. 
In his 2014 book, Winning Power: Canadian Campaigning in the Twenty-First Century, Tom Flanagan writes Blue Direct is owned by a former student of his, Matt Gelinas, formerly of RMG and the Manning Centre. 
Gelinas' partner at Blue Direct is Richard Dur, a Morton Blackwell Leadership Institute alumnus, seen here being honoured as Leadership Institute graduate of the week in 2011 :
“LI graduate and Canadian Member of Parliament Rob Anders said it well when he described LI training as ‘taking a drink from a fire hose,’” Richard said..


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