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The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Northern Reflections - 2 hours 49 min ago

                                                            http://www.netnewsledger.com/

On the environment, Stephen Harper's record is appalling. Rick Smith summarizes the damage he has done:

The Fisheries Act no longer protects most fish.

The Navigable Waters Protection Act no longer protects most lakes and rivers.

The federal Environmental Assessment Act was repealed in its entirety and replaced with a law so cursory it might as well have been drafted on a cocktail napkin.

Canada remains the only country in the world that signed the Kyoto agreement on carbon pollution, only to withdraw from the treaty.

Even the impressive environmental achievements of previous Conservative governments have been dismantled, such as the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

But ordering the audits of environmental charities may be the tipping point. And Smith speaks from experience:

I can tell you from personal experience (because I ran one of the country’s major environmental organizations for nearly 10 years) that, to a one, Canada’s environmental charities have always been extremely serious about complying with the letter and the spirit of CRA charitable rules. To have that sincere attempt thrown in its face by a tax agency that clearly isn’t playing straight has galvanized the environmental community in a way it never has been before.
Harper's attacks on his enemies have a way of boomeranging on him. And Smith believes that is precisely what is happening. Harper could well become a victim of his own war:

Of course it’s true that the obvious environmental impact of the Harper years will be measured in increased levels of pollution and real damage to precious land and waters. The less obvious and possibly longer lasting impact will be the creation of a country energized to decisively break with the failed environmental policies of the past in favour of a better future for us all.
It would be more than fitting if the prime minister sealed his own fate through the law of unintended consequences.

Buy *prolife* propaganda or a doctor gets shot. In the head.

Dammit Janet - 2 hours 53 min ago



That is congruent with the violent ideology and vicious intolerance of organizations that have incited violence against healthcare professionals, as DJ! pointed out here.

But Holy Obfuscation Batman!
Jack Fonseca [...] a Campaign Life project manager and the author of the blog post in question, decided to wade into the comments section on his blog Tuesday afternoon to clear up any lingering confusion about the photo of a handgun pointed at a doctor.
His explanation? That's not a handgun pointed at the doctor; it's a proverbial handgun:
"In the graphic you referenced, the proverbial gun is clearly being held by the College of Physicians. The supporting graphic is a clear condemnation of the brute force that the CPSO is threatening to use against doctors. If a historical scholar were to publish an article in which he condemns the NAZI extermination of Jews, and includes in the article a photo of a mass grave filled with murdered Jews, it would be ludicrous to argue that he supports the killing of Jews. Clearly he's reinforcing the message that the Nazi actions were evil. Likewise, our blog post reinforces the message that the brute force being threatened by the CPSO against physicians (in the form of a policy of coercion) is evil."This is a typical anti-choice sophism: If a credible academic writes a scholarly article, condemns the Shoah and uses verifiable photographs as documentation, then Campaign Life can claim with a disingenuous graphic that the CPSO might do the *same evil*.

(Never mind the decades of anti-abortion terrorism: clinics bombed, doctors and staff murdered or injured, women criminally harassed.) 

Who is this Jack Fonseca?  DJ! has posted articles about his tactics, here and here.

Fonseca's job is to organize rallies and spout the usual propaganda.  (This peer-reviewed article provides actual facts and scientific research about the cost of terminating a pregnancy.)

Besides being paid to campaign against women's reproductive rights, Fonseca has also mobilized the usual bigots against same-sex marriage, lobbied against a fundraising event in his home town because ... fundamental Catholicism, AND gotten quite testerical about Ontario's "Accepting Schools Act".

But enough about Fonseca the dissembler.  Juxtapose his slimy rhetoric with the actions of a real hero, Doctor Willie Parker.
Inspired by Gandhi's idea that the Gospel should appear to a hungry man in the form of bread, he went to work in a food pantry. But gradually, the steady stream of women with reproductive issues in his practice focused his mind. He thought about his mother and sisters and the grandmother who died in childbirth and began to read widely in the literature of civil rights and feminism. Eventually he came across the concept of "reproductive justice," developed by black feminists who argued that the best way to raise women out of poverty is to give them control of their reproductive decisions. Finally, he had his "come to Jesus" moment and the bell rang. This would be his civil-rights struggle. He would serve women in their darkest moment of need. "The protesters say they're opposed to abortion because they're Christian," Parker says. "It's hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I'm a Christian." He gave up obstetrics to become a full-time abortionist on the day, five years ago, that George Tiller was murdered in church.

[...]he grew up a few hours away in Birmingham, the second youngest son of a single mother who raised six children on food stamps and welfare, so poor that he taught himself to read by a kerosene lamp and went to the bathroom in an outhouse; that he was born again in his teenage years and did a stint as a boy preacher in Baptist churches; that he became the first black student-body president of a mostly white high school, went on to Harvard and a distinguished career as a college professor and obstetrician who delivered thousands of babies and refused to do abortions. They certainly don't know about the "come to Jesus" moment, as he pointedly describes it, when he decided to give up his fancy career to become an abortion provider. Or that, at fifty-one, having resigned a prestigious job as medical director of Planned Parenthood, he's preparing to move back south and take over a circuit roughly similar—for safety reasons, he won't be more specific—to the one traveled by Dr. David Gunn before an antiabortion fanatic assassinated him in 1993. Or that his name and home address have been published by an antiabortion Web site with the unmistakable intent of terrorizing doctors like him. Or that he receives threats that say, "You've been warned." Or that he refuses to wear a bulletproof vest, because he doesn't want to live in fear—"if I'm that anxious, they've already taken my life"[...]

He remembers what it's like to be terrorized. That fueled the search for social justice that led him, eventually, to theologians like Paul Tillich, Dr. King, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who wrestled with "Thou shalt not kill" before joining a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. "He said the kind of Christianity that does not radicalize you with regard to human suffering is inauthentic—cheap and easy grace."
His "come to Jesus" moment occurred in Hawaii. He was teaching at the university when a fundamentalist administrator began trying to ban abortions in the school clinic, throwing students with an unwanted pregnancy into a panic. One day, he was listening to a sermon by Dr. King on the theme of what made the Good Samaritan good. A member of his own community passed the injured traveler by, King said, because they asked, "What would happen to me if I stopped to help this guy?" The Good Samaritan was good because he reversed the question: "What would happen to this guy if I don't stop to help him?" So Parker looked in his soul and asked himself, "What happens to these women when abortion is not available?"

[Dr Willie Parker] knew the answer.It's a long, informative article well worth the time spent reading it.

Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair - Soft on Terrorism

Politics and its Discontents - 3 hours 10 min ago
Let's begin with the definition of "terrorism." Merriam-Webster offers up a fairly standard definition: "the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal."

That sounds exactly like what is going on in Gaza right now. That is exactly what is going on in Gaza right now. It's terrorism. Deliberately planned and precisely executed terrorism. And our prime minister and his government and our opposition Liberal and New Democrat leaders and all their parties are just fine with it. Trudeau even praises the terrorist government for its "commitment to peace." Thanks, Justin, now sit down.

Israel tries to mask its terrorist campaign as "self defence." Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair parrot that line. The Gang of Four - Netanyahu, Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair - maintain that Israel is going after Hamas, not targeting Gaza Palestinians.

They don't want to connect the dots between Israel's attack on Lebanese civilians in 2006 and its working over of Palestinian civilians in Gaza in 2008/2009 and the sequel now underway. Yet they're all the same, all straight from the same IDF playbook. There's even a name for it, the Dahiya Doctrine. It was named after the Beirut suburb that Israel demolished in 2006.

This technique deliberately targets civilians. They are the intended victims - the old and the young, women and children, those least able to get out of the way. The attack on the civilian population begins by taking out their essential services - water plants (check), sewage plants (check), electricity plants (check). Then you go at the civilians directly by bombarding their homes (check), hospitals (check), schools (check), and markets (check). You really work them over and you just keep at it all the while pretending that you're really targeting someone else.

The steady reduction of Gaza is blatant, deliberate terrorism. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s something even worse. Maybe what Netanyahu has in mind this time is enhanced terrorism, 'terrorism plus', - ethnic cleansing. Maybe he wants to render Gaza uninhabitable. Already some 90% of what passes for freshwater (it's actually a mild brine) is unfit for human consumption. The destruction of the sewage system almost guarantees there'll be a cholera epidemic before long. Taking down the power grid is the icing on the cake. It's positively medieval.

If you're a Liberal or a New Democrat, this is on you too. It's your party that is supporting this, absolving Israel of its campaign of terrorism, condoning the reduction of Gaza that will lead, must eventually lead to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population from the Gaza strip.


MoS, the Disaffected Lib





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Is Stephen Harper's War on Marijuana Going Up in Smoke?

Montreal Simon - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 18:02


He has made the Great War on Marijuana the main weapon in his assault on Justin Trudeau.

Making it sound like Trudeau's plans to legalize weed would corrupt Canada's youth and turn us into a nation of junkies...



But sadly for Great Leader most Canadians don't seem to share his reactionary views. 
Read more »

The Deliberate Ambiguity of Occupation

Rusty Idols - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 13:23
Israel has a policy of deliberate ambiguity about whether its control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is 'occupation'. Every other country on Earth including their closest ally the US says it is an occupation, Israel coyly argues it both is and isn't depending on which definition gives them the most flexibility under international law in any given scenario. 

In practice this leaves the Palestinians dispossessed, discriminated against and in the West Bank without recourse to the law when bands of violent, fanatical settlers descend from their hilltop bandit nests to attack Palestinian homes and crops and savagely assault any Palestinians who resist. 

 The Israeli police stand and watch.

It's time to stop coddling this sleazy little semantics game.

Le Monde diplomatique argues giving them three more years to the 50th Anniversary of the Occupation to once and for all define what they are doing as occupation or not. If its an occupation they are legally required to begin the process of withdrawal, if its not an occupation they are legally required to give full and equal legal citizenship rights to all the population under their control.

They have been allowed to be vague on this subject for almost FIFTY YEARS.

No longer.sdnxry5z7g

Dahiyeh - It's How Israel Wages "Peace"

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 13:19
“We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.” - Major-General Gadi Eisenkot, IDF.



That was Israeli strategy in the 2006 invasion of southern Lebanon. It's Israeli strategy today in Gaza. Disproportionate power.. immense damage and destruction... by plan. It's a strategy not targeted at an armed opponent. This is a strategy targeted directly at civilians - the young, the elderly, women and children - the cannon fodder that are least able to get out of the way when you come calling.

C'mon, Justin. Remind me again about Israel's "commitment to peace."

There's even a name for it. It's called the Dahiyeh Doctrine, named for the Beirut suburb that Israeli warplanes carpet bombed.

It's all about inflicting civilian casualties, destroying their homes and depriving them of essential services - electricity, water, sewage plants - hospitals, schools - all of which Israel has destroyed in the past month in Gaza as part of its "commitment to peace."

Israel waged this sort of peace in Gaza before and it became the subject of the 2009 Goldstone Report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council. I expect our parliamentary greaseballs - Steve, Justin and Tommy Boy - never got a copy. That the very same doctrine is happening again - today - according to the very same game plan - is no coincidence. It's also a war crime unless, that is, your name is Harper, Trudeau or Mulcair.

MoS, The Disaffected Lib


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Canada-Israel Solidarity Rally

Creekside - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 09:15


Yesterday while this carnage was going on and Chris Gunness from UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, was breaking down in tears on live TV after 19 were killed and 125 wounded in the latest attack on a UN school in Gaza, which the UN accused Israel of carrying out after being warned 17 times that civilians were seeking shelter there ...


[Gunness : "UNRWA is overwhelmed in #Gaza  - we have reached breaking point, our staff are being killed, our shelters overflowing. Where will it end?]



... fifty miles away at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, Liberal MPs Carolyn Bennett and John McCallum, Con MPs David Sweet and Ted Opitz, Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, and former Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein were leading the Canada-Israel Solidarity Rally in singing O Canada and Hatikva.

Con MP Randy Hoback not shown in photo.

The Jerusalem Post reported in advance that the event would also include a broadcasted appearance by John Baird

For all I know they may have also broadcast this :



The Solidarity Rally Lib/Con MPs and senators did not, needless to say, visit Gaza or the West Bank.

But prior to the group giving their "fact-finding mission" report to the Government of Canada, here are some of their advance observations from the trip. 

Con MP Randy Hoback : ‘An opportunity to ask tough questions
“How often do you get the chance to get firsthand information about what’s going on in Israel in regards to both the rocket bombs coming out of Gaza and reaction from Israel.”"It’s very interesting, there’s a lot of things that people don’t understand. Hamas is the issue here, it’s not the Palestinian people. Hamas is a terrorist organization, their whole goal is [getting] Israel off this earth. This group isn’t a group that you can sit down and talk with and negotiate a peace settlement. It isn’t a group that wants to be your friend, they basically want to annihilate Israel which is very sad. They are willing to put children in front of bombs and willing to put rocket launchers inside of schools and inside of mosques, basically do whatever they have to do to win their so called war. So it makes it tough when they do these things.”Senator Grafstein
“I’m absolutely amazed about how strong and how supportive Israel has been in this war effort, but more important than that at how united they’ve been and how calm, cool and collected they’ve been.”Mark Regev would be so proud


.

Harper's Reign Of Terror - Part Five

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 08:27

As in the previous installments, this post examines the Harper regime's unrelenting attacks on nonprofits that in any way oppose or criticize its agenda. The latest target is CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev), whose website lists the following as its mission:

CoDevelopment Canada is a B.C.-based NGO that works for social change and global education in the Americas. Founded in 1985 by a group of activists who wanted to go beyond financial aid, CoDev builds partnerships between like-minded organizations in Canada and Latin America to foster learning, social change, and community empowerment. These partnerships educate Canadians about Latin America and allow them to directly support the region. Such connections build solidarity, mutual understanding and ultimately improve prospects for a fairer global order.

For most people, those would seem to be commendable and progressive goals. For Stephen Harper and his cabal, they are reflective of a subversive organization that needs to be frightened into silence.

As reported in today's Star, CoDev has passed its two recent CRA audits, one in 2009, its first in 25 years and one last year, the latter conducted by three auditors — two of them political-activity specialists. Both appear to be part of the pattern discussed in previous posts:

Many of the charities under audit have been critics of government policy, including CoDev, a trade union-funded group that has raised questions about Canada's free-trade deal with Colombia, among other issues.

Indeed, on its website, CoDev offers a trenchant critique of Canada's free-trade deal with both Honduras and Colombia entitled Honduras deal: Another example of Canada’s poor record on trade and human rights

So is CoDev in the clear, after passing two audits? Not at all. Here is the latest cudgel from the Harper toolbox of intimidation as it continues its direction of the CRA investigations:

[CoDev] faces the crippling prospect of translating every scrap of paper it receives from 17 partners in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and elsewhere from Spanish into either English or French.

The demand, set out in a January compliance letter from the CRA, will start to bite this fall as the tiny four-person shop begins to receive banker's boxes full of Spanish-language documents from its Latin American projects, including taxi chits and bus fare receipts.

The group's executive director, Barbara Wood, says the newly imposed requirement will drain away scarce resources, yet must be carried out or CoDev risks losing its charitable status.

The CRA demands suggest the vexatious nature of the persecution:

Among CRA's new demands: the official CoDev mission statement had to be rewritten to cite each human rights law in all 11 Latin American countries that CoDev's partners try to uphold. That meant a lengthy four-page annex to the statement, in English translation.

But the most onerous condition, Wood said, is the major translation project ahead, which involves thousands of receipts.

“The amount of work is unbelievable,” she said. “The rules seem to have been applied differently in 2009 than they were now . . . We're a really small team and this is a huge amount of work.”


Typically, the CRA has turned aside inquiries, citing the confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act.

For anyone following the Harper pattern of harassment and intimidation, no further explanation is needed.Recommend this Post

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 06:56
Here, on how we should take Germany's rightful concern over investor-state dispute settlement provisions as an opportunity to reevaluate what we expect to accomplish through trade and investment agreements such as CETA.

For further reading...
- Peter Clark, Michael Geist and Scott Sinclair discuss Germany's objections to new trade agreements with Canada and the U.S. in particular, while reminding us why we should be wary of handing undue power to the corporate sector as well. And Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder and Rhea Tamara Hoffmann discuss (PDF) Germany's past experience with ISDS in detail.
- Meanwhile, Patricia Ranald notes that similar issues are developing as Australia debates an agreement with South Korea.
- Finally, Thomas Walkom and Jim Stanford weigh in with their own concerns about CETA, while the Council of Canadians applauds Germany's stance.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 06:30
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a burgeoning wealth gap is particularly obvious when it comes to retirement security:
Quaint as it now seems, not long ago this was considered a good basic plan: Work hard all your life and then retire with a comfortable pension.

In recent times, a new plan has replaced it: Work hard all your life and then all bets are off.

The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work — a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the postwar years — has been effectively tossed aside, as corporations have become more insatiable in their demands and governments have increasingly abandoned workers.
...
In what amounts to a radical overhaul, [the Con government] announced last April that it intends to change long-standing legislation governing workplace pensions in ways that would allow employers (private sector and Crown corporations) to walk away from pension commitments they made to employees, even after those employees have paid into the plans throughout their working years.
...
Workplace pensions were always expected to be a key part of that retirement security. Unlike many European countries, where public pensions were generous enough to serve as the centerpiece of a retiree’s income, the Canadian government kept public pension benefits low and encouraged workers to rely on workplace pensions.

That worked fine for those who were able to negotiate workplace pensions with an employer — generally those who had a union to represent them. In such cases, both the employer and the employees typically contributed to the plan, under terms that specified what benefits would be paid out to employees in their retirement.

Employers now want to be able to fundamentally rewrite the terms of those workplace pension deals so that, if the market plunges and the pension fund declines, the pay-outs will be less — in effect, shifting the risk from the company to the retiree.
...
It’s striking, however, that a bold embrace of risk is only expected of those in the lower echelons of the corporate world. At the top, executives cling to old-world notions — like securing comfortable retirements. - And Regina civic workers are taking action to make sure the city keeps its pension promises - rather than either demanding concessions now, or changing the rules so it can unilaterally slash benefits later.

- Brian Iler suggests that the Cons' charity crackdown could have been avoided if Canada adopted a definition of charity work which included promoting public debate on political issues. But while that change might have given current charities more confidence as to the result of the current round of government-directed audits, it wouldn't have done much to avoid the needless expense of going through the audit process in the first place.

- Meanwhile, Kaylie Tiessen is hopeful that Ontario is ready for a serious conversation about the need for more revenue to fund public services.

- Kayle Hatt studies the federal government's cuts to summer student programs. And CBC reports that Calgary's decision to outsource park maintenance work has led to temporary foreign workers taking the place of students who would otherwise be able to use a summer income to fund their education.

- Finally, the Ottawa Citizen identifies one of the surest signs of an ethically bankrupt government - while noting that the Harper Cons and Alberta's PCs are just two of the governing parties who seem to be treating that lack of ethics as a goal to be pursued:
There seems to be an epidemic in Canada of rogue staffers doing unethical things their political bosses would never, ever sanction.

The most famous is Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who wrote a large cheque to a sitting senator. Then there’s the OPP search-warrant document alleging that David Livingston, the chief of staff for former Premier Dalton McGuinty, hired someone to purge emails during the transition to Kathleen Wynne’s premiership. There is the ongoing mystery about the voter-suppression phone calls in several federal ridings in 2011 “by a person or persons currently unknown to this court,” in the words of Federal Court Judge Richard G. Mosley.

Now there is a leaked, draft auditor’s report about former Alberta Premier Alison Redford, suggesting her staff manipulated airplane bookings so that she could treat the planes as personal limos.
...
An ethical organization does not build plausible deniability into its hierarchies and relationships; it does not have any reason to. The fact that it seems to be built in to Canadian political culture, in more than one party, in more than one province, is sickening.

Retirement Is For The Rich

Northern Reflections - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 06:06

                                                                                 http://lewisbarton.com


There used to be a social contract in this country. One of the clauses in that unwritten document was,"if you work hard all your life, you can retire in comfort." But neo-conservatives have shredded that contract. Linda McQuaig writes:

The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work — a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the postwar years — has been effectively tossed aside, as corporations have become more insatiable in their demands and governments have increasingly abandoned workers.
Stephen Harper has relentlessly spearheaded the corporate agenda:

Stephen Harper’s government hiked the eligibility age for Old Age Security benefits to 67, effectively depriving all future Canadian retirees of two years of basic retirement income.And it has steadfastly refused to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan, leaving retired Canadians with an average income of $18,000 a year in public pension benefits — far less than what a full-time minimum wage earner makes in Ontario.
The prime minister has no intention of halting the juggernaut:

And now, the Harper government is engaging in a fresh frontal assault on the retirement incomes of beleagured Canadian workers.

In what amounts to a radical overhaul, it announced last April that it intends to change long-standing legislation governing workplace pensions in ways that would allow employers (private sector and Crown corporations) to walk away from pension commitments they made to employees, even after those employees have paid into the plans throughout their working years.
All of this has been done under the radar. And the Harperites intend to keep it that way. It makes it easier to serve their clientele:

Employers now want to be able to fundamentally rewrite the terms of those workplace pension deals so that, if the market plunges and the pension fund declines, the pay-outs will be less — in effect, shifting the risk from the company to the retiree.

When it comes to new hires, many employers now offer only the new-style pensions. But the legislation proposed by Harper would create a way for employers to open up existing pension deals — effectively changing the rules in mid-stream, after workers have spent years paying into their plans.
While employees wont be able to afford retirement, CEO's will do just fine:

The Royal Bank, the country’s largest bank, switched over to the new-style pension system in 2011, so that all new employees will be obliged to face a risky pension future.

RBC CEO Gordon Nixon didn’t see the need to modify his own pension deal, however. When he retires later this week at the age of 57, he’ll receive a pension of $1.68 million a year, which will rise to an even more comfortable $2 million a year when he turns 65.
It's another example of how the champions of accountability are doing everything they can to remain unaccountable.

The new rule is: only the rich get to retire.


The Blinkered Worldview of Stephen Harper

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 04:27

Recently, I wrote a series of posts on Stephen Harper's misuse of the Canadian Revenue Agency through the orchestration of audits on nonprofits that criticize his policies. For Dear Leader, life is uncomplicated: you are either with him or against him, and if you fall into the latter category and have a certain public prominence, the knock on the door may not be far off.

One of my readers, Troy Thomas, made the following comment:

You know, this is how First Nations have been treated for decades, so I'll share what usually happens to First Nations.

Audits aren't the end. They're a means.

A First Nations band which is getting uppity, i.e. publicly complaining about not getting properly funded or complaining about interference, will get audited.
The auditor, that bribe-able one from the USA, Delasomething, [Deloitte] will find in its report what the government asked for it to find.

The government, using the fictitious audit as an excuse, will force the uppity First Nations band to take on the expense of the audit, and then force the uppity First Nations band to take on the expense of a private for-profit third-party firm, which will do what the band used to do for a third or a quarter of the cost.
So, from experience, expect more than the audits. Expect the government to slide its own people into these charities, by using the audits as its reasons: "Oh, these charities are improperly run! They need experience from the private sector in order to do as they're supposed to!"

Something like that.


It now appears that Mr. Harper has yet another weapon with which to further undermine opposition and divide Canadians even further: the new First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which, as reported in The Toronto Star, requires First Nations communities across the country to publish a range of annual business and financial records, including salaries and benefits.

The communities were previously only required to submit these records to the government without sharing them with the public.

While the average remuneration reported is quite modest, there are exceptions:

- the Snuneymuxw First Nation in B.C., revealed that Eric Wesley, a councillor, received $307,201 in contracts for construction related services in the last fiscal year from his own community.

- Chief John Thunder of the Buffalo Point First Nation in Manitoba earned $129,398 for the year in salaries and benefits. The community he represents is made up of less than 200 people.

So what might be the strategic value of making this information public, as opposed to simply making it available to band members?

Given the government's distasteful paternalism toward aboriginals, vilification of their leaders will create even greater disharmony than already exists within their communities; the greater the disunity, the less chance of speaking with one voice.

Given First nations' concerns over Harper's pipeline obsession and his total disregard for environmental concerns, undermining aboriginal leadership will work in favour of the Prime Minister's monomania.

And how have First Nations' people reacted to this latest attempt to discredit them?

“Everything points to (an attempt) to build on the propaganda that aboriginal governments are dishonest,” said Ghislain Picard, interim chief of the Assembly of First Nations, in an interview. “That’s the thinking that’s out there and that’s what they keep building on.”

Picard said the government is always trying to find ways to discredit First Nations people in Canada.

“It reflects the ideology of this government since 2006,” said Picard. “They’re already working very hard to find that one community that might be outside what they would (describe) as the model First Nation and then just pass that brush over to all First Nations.”


While Stephen Harper insists it is all about transparency, about the only thing really transparent here are his motives.Recommend this Post

The Children of Gaza and the Bestiality of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 20:03


It was an act of unspeakable barbarity. One that has been condemned by governments all over the world. 

The US and UN have condemned the shelling of a school housing displaced civilians in Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the attack, which killed 16, was "outrageous".

"I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. It is outrageous. It is unjustifiable, and it demands accountability and justice. "Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children."


And defended only by those who carried it out, and by the monstrous beast Stephen Harper. 
Read more »

He has returned! He has returned!

Dawg's Blawg - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 16:26
I would just briefly like to point out, as I did once in comments already I think, that the great and glorious MaxSpeak (Max Sawicky) has returned to bloggery after a VERY long hiatus caused by subjugating himself to... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

I Felt A Chill As I Read This

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 13:27
A week ago came the report of a giant crater in the Siberian permafrost discovered by a Russian helicopter crew. Russian scientists concluded the crater, about 80-metres across, was not the result of a meteor strike but probably was caused by a sub-surface methane explosion.

At the time I speculated whether this was a fluke or whether we'd be seeing more of these things in the high north before long. We didn't have to wait long for the answer.

The Siberian Times reports that reindeer herders have come across two more of these craters.

No word yet on whether anything similar is happening in the Canadian north.

MoS, the Disaffected Lib







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If All You Had Were Useless Rockets, Would You Be Firing Them?

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 11:28


A timely and invaluable reminder of what it means to be a Palestinian in Gaza under the yoke of the Israeli military. This is a report of a calculated and brutal murder of a 13-year old Palestinian girl by Israeli troops outside a refugee camp in 2004. As I recall, the officer who finished off the girl with two shots to her head was never punished for the murder.

How would you react if this girl was one of ours?

As for today another UN school, this one designated a refuge for Palestinian civilians. 15-dead, 90-wounded as three artillery rounds slam into the shelter.

You're dead on, Justin. That's some "commitment to peace."

MoS, The Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 10:34
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Garner highlights the futility of trying to answer poverty, equality and other social issues with the empty promise of low-paying "jobs! jobs! jobs!":
The central “solution” in the government’s action plan is jobs. The little money dedicated to this initiative is all directed to employment inclusion and skills training. It’s not surprising. It’s the same answer we receive when our supporters throughout the province advocate for a poverty reduction plan for B.C.
 
There are two important points to make in response. First, many people with disabilities are unable to work but they still deserve to live with dignity. Second, most people in poverty already have a job so low wage employment does not provide meaningful inclusion for anyone. The emphasis must be on good, stable jobs that provide a living wage.

While the Disability Summit was a high-profile publicity event for the government, a month before that, they quietly released a progress report on their “community poverty reduction pilot projects”. No big fanfare for the initiative launched in May 2012, which has helped only 72 families over two years, a drop in the ocean when you consider that almost 500,000 people live in poverty in B.C.

And, by help, they mean merely referring families to existing services. The assumption is that the fundamental problem for families in poverty is an inability to navigate the system of programs, services, and supports within their communities. While there are many bureaucratic barriers that do require a certain level of language and literacy, the fundamental problem is lack of income combined with high cost of living—not a failure to access services.

Despite recognizing that the provincial government is responsible for the implementation, support, and funding of the systemic themes identified during these pilot projects, including housing, food security, health, childcare, transportation, and education, this so-called poverty reduction project does nothing to address those issues.- Meanwhile, Dylan Matthews argues that a basic income would go a long way toward solving many of the basic social issues which are currently either kept in their own silos or answered with pablum about economic growth. But then, Peter Van Buren notes that poverty is plenty profitable for collection agencies and creditors among other businesses - meaning that we can expect a fight (if a despicable one) in trying to ensure a basic income for everybody.

- Dean Beeby highlights how CoDevelopment Canada Association for one is dealing with the administrative burden imposed by the Cons' crackdown on progressive charities. But Tom Henheffer is optimistic that Canada's social voices will survive the Cons' assault.

- Andrew Nikiforuk reports on the new discovery of an Alberta salt formation which may explain the pattern of spills and blowouts in the extraction of oil using steam. Presumably this will be the response to any attempt to address the newfound risk through law.

- Finally, the White House makes an economic case (PDF) for addressing climate change sooner rather than later. And PressProgress finds even the Fraser Institute endorsing Norway's management of oil reserves and revenues - even if it can't highlight the plus of managing public wealth without lamenting the possibility that people might benefit as a result.

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