Posts from our progressive community

Stephen Harper's Empty Words and the Betrayal of the Veterans

Montreal Simon - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 20:36


I have no idea why Stephen Harper lies all the time. I don't know whether it's compulsive, and he just can't help himself.

Or whether that grubby little man simply thinks that we're all fools.

But he does lie all the time, like he did last Wednesday. 

Only to be shown to be twisting the truth. Again.
Read more »

The Harperium's next move

Dawg's Blawg - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 14:52
Jailing peaceful pipeline protesters. Full marks to, uh, Justin Ling for busting this one wide open. Another “Private Member’s Bill” that isn’t is backed by Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice, and could put environmentalists behind bars for ten years. Water... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

We Hear from Hinton

Dammit Janet - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 14:01
Kathy Dawson got a response to her open letter to the Mayor of Hinton, Alberta. Kathy wanted to know why the town gave $10K of its photo radar bonanza (total available: $100K) to a fake pregnancy clinic.


[via email from:] Lil Wallace, Executive Assistant - Office of the Mayor; Office of the Town Manager


Dear Ms. Dawson:
Thank you for your enquiry respecting the Quality of Life grant program that Hinton offers.  Hinton is a diverse community that works and builds together.  This includes improving several aspects of the quality of life for our citizens through grants such as the Quality of Life.

The West Yellowhead Pregnancy Care Centre indicates they provide unconditional, non judgmental and long-term support to all individuals regardless of what choice they make.  One of their support programs includes a “clothing closet” where items like diapers, blankets, clothes, cribs, car seats and formula are provided to residents who are in need.  The Grant Funding Advisory Committee felt this “clothing closet” is a program worthy of supporting and council agreed with their recommendation.

Once again, thank you for your enquiry.

Rob Mackin
Mayor
Town of Hinton | Gateway to the Rockies
Pretty good eh? For double-speak babblegab, it really doesn't get any better than: "This includes improving several aspects of the quality of life for our citizens through grants such as the Quality of Life." Improving the quality of life through quality of life.

Hoo-kay.

And $10K for a "clothing closet"? That's a lotta diapers for a town of fewer than ten thousand souls.

And I guess "diversity" in the Gateway to the Rockies does not include reproductive rights. Because crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs) not only exist to scare the shit out of pregnant people seeking abortions, they also refuse to counsel on or offer contraception. Hinton's diversity includes abstinence-only birth control.

We did some research on West Yellowhead Fake Clinic here.

Its revenues and expenses run about $100K a year, which for a town the size of Hinton is pretty lavish.

We took a closer look at its CRA charitable filing for 2013. We wanted to see how much it was spending on its clothing closet before the generous people of Hinton stepped in.

There's only one paid employee, making $42K a year. The only non-financial revenue was donated rental space, value $21,600.

Let's have a look at that space, shall we?

Unless they have other premises, this is it. *




I have no idea what retail space costs are in Hinton, but do you think $21.6K covers the whole deal there? Or only part of the rent?

Because from Schedule 6 of the CRA filing, we find they report an "occupancy cost" of $25K.

So is that space worth $46.6K a year? Partly donated, partly paid? Or is there something odd going on here?

Other expenses: the employee, whose $42K gets up to $49K with perqs I imagine. Some other bits and bobs for a vehicle and professional services. Office expenses were just under $5K, "purchased supplies and assets" cost $5.5K, and "other expenditures" were $3.5K.

And that's it.

While adding the purchased supplies and other expenditures together we get close to $10K, there is nothing specifically for "clothes, diapers, car seats" etc.

So, it looks to me like the "clothing closet" is a fantasy and the $10K from the photo-radar scam is pure windfall.

Unless, of course, there was no existing "clothing closet" program and the generous folks at West Yellowhead Lies and Fantasies plan on providing a layette from Holt Renfrew to every child born to its clients starting this year.

At the very least, we can say that officials of the town of Hinton are pretty easily satisfied.

Because even a cursory look at the books would raise all kinds of questions.

But hey, maybe "due diligence" means something different out there.



*That image comes from Google Maps. Here are two more. Note handy proximity to booze store. Also its location on the Harley Street of Hinton, sandwiched between real health care providers of the dental and medical variety.

Note too the weird fuzzing out of the CPC's name. What's up with that? Especially since it's perfectly clear in the front-on shot.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 07:43
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Will Hutton compares the alternative goals of either shrinking government to the point where it does nothing or harnessing it to meet everybody's basic needs, and explains why we should demand the latter:
A financial crisis has been allowed to morph into a crisis of public provision because the government of the day will not lift a finger to compensate for the haemorrhaging of the UK tax base. What the state does is not the subject of a collective decision with concerned weighing of options. Instead, it’s an afterthought, with the greater priorities a reduction in public borrowing and freezing or lowering tax rates.

All the state can spend is what is left after those two greater priorities are met, and if it has to shrink to pre-modern levels then so be it. The market will provide: charity will alleviate suffering; people will get by; the roof will not fall in. Lifting taxation can never be considered to close the gap. It is, it is alleged, both economically self-defeating and immoral.
...
(T)here is never a weighing up of the benefits of raising taxes against a particular use for public spending, nor any strategic long-term programme of investment.

This is bad enough in ordinary times, but when a chancellor refuses to consider raising taxes as the tax base collapses it is a recipe for disaster. It results in a minimal state, with implications for prisons, schools, courts, policing, legal aid, care, security and defence that are profound. Some of this could be avoided if, as both Labour and the LibDems propose, capital investment was not lumped in with current spending so that virtuous borrowing could be separated out. The country may also get lucky: wages stop stagnating and income tax receipts rise.

But the bigger truth is that if Britain wants the scale of public activity congruent with a civilised society, it has to be paid for.
...
There is a different future, and our politicians of the centre and left have to argue for it, but they must accept it has to be paid for. This has become an existential divide. Politics and political argument have never mattered more. - Meanwhile, Bill Curry notes that the Harper Cons are matching their UK cousins by "balancing" a budget only based on unexplained and implausible assumptions which make it all too likely that we'll end up losing important public assets at fire-sale prices.

- Linda Tirado offers her observations on the high cost of being poor. And Adam Walsh discusses the difficulties faced by the people left behind in boom times.

- Tony Burke writes about the need for both more fair taxation and stronger collective bargaining to ensure that workers benefit from economic gains.

- Finally, Michael Harris highlights the Cons' cynical attempt to cling to power by replacing any expectation of effective government with a non-stop spin cycle.

Firing Up The Base

Northern Reflections - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 05:46

                                                   http://www.hilltimes.com/

It's interesting to consider the titles of bills that the Harper government steamrolls through parliament. Consider a few: The "Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.” Or the "“Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.” That's the new prostitution law. Or "The Black April Day Act." If you missed that one, Michael Harris reminds you that it:

created April 30 as the day to commemorate the diaspora of Vietnamese citizens after Saigon fell to the Viet Cong in 1975. Thousands of those refugees from South Vietnam came to Canada.

There is only one problem with dissing Vietnam with the Black April Day Act. That country is now an important trading partner and a key ally in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. Vietnam’s ambassador didn’t care much for the name of the private member’s bill or its intent. So he decided to act. He asked to appear before the Senate committee to air his concerns.

As reported by CP, he was turned down. The ambassador was then invited to make a written submission. He complied. But while it was being translated into French, the committee completed its “study” of the bill and his objections were never formally considered. Nor were the objections of any other witness who opposed the legislation.
Obviously, the act had nothing to do with the Vietnamese. It was all about firing up Harper's base:

Harper is merely driving in the wedges. He knows that the base doesn’t like the idea of prostitution, so they will approve of the moralistic bent of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act – and send in $5. He knows that his Christian base also abhors polygamy, so they will also send in $5 to support the Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. And they will also send in $5 to support the Black April Day Act because it is a reminder of the horrors of godless Communism.

And, as long as he can fire up his base -- and keep the opposition fighting about sexual harassment -- he'll continue to be prime minister.


Help Stop (or at least embarrass) CPC Cheaters

Dammit Janet - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 05:15
Remember the 2010 Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament movement? Then, before Twitter was as omnipresent as it is now, the CAPP Facebook group built more than 200,000 followers.

Now that the CONs have their majority and have had 4+ years to fuck the country -- and doing an excellent job at it -- we have a chance next year to get rid of the bastards.

But. They're going to do everything they can to stop us.

Including of course cheating. In each of the past three elections, CONservatives have been caught cheating.

With the absolute minimum cost or penalty.

You think they won't do it again? What or who can stop them?

Us.




Here's the petition.

It was started on December 5. When I signed about 5 p.m. yesterday (Sunday, Dec. 7), it had about 660 signatures. By 11 p.m., it had over 800.

This morning it has over 900.

These things are maddeningly slow at the beginning. But they soon start to snowball.

Let's get this Big Canadian Snowball rolling.

It's a delicious win-win for us. If it gets a respectable number of signatures, questions will be asked and the issue of election fraud(s) gets re-aired.

If it gets an impressive number of signatures, it will make CONs squirm as more questions are lobbed at them.

If it goes, as they say, viral, it will make international news. Mockery and finger-pointing will ensue. More squirming by CONs.

And Harper wins too! He gets to add to his Enemies List. :)

Well, 'tis the season. You wanna be on a List, don't you?


Stephen Harper and the Jihadi From Hell or Ottawa

Montreal Simon - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 01:48


When I first heard the news that another Canadian jihadi had surfaced on YouTube, and was making wild threats against us, at first I was naturally terrified.

Could Great Closet Leader really have found another warrior wannabe like himself, to scare the cowardly into voting for his foul Con regime?

And try to justify turning us into a police state.

But then I saw it was only this loser. 
Read more »

Land of the Free

Dawg's Blawg - Sun, 12/07/2014 - 14:49
No, not that barbarous fake one. This one. Ég get andað!... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

Excuses, excuses

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 12/07/2014 - 10:39
Shorter Leona Aglukkaq:
It's absolutely essential that we align our greenhouse gas emissions policies with the U.S. if that means delaying regulations which could limit pollution from the tar sands. Also, it's absolutely essential that we refuse to align our greenhouse gas emission policies with the U.S. if they're committing to targets which could limit pollution from the tar sands.

Sunday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 12/07/2014 - 10:32
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Walden Bello discusses the need for our political system to include constant citizen engagement, not merely periodic elections to determine who will be responsible to implement the wishes of the elite:
Even more than dictatorships, Western-style democracies are, we are forced to conclude, the natural system of governance of neoliberal capitalism, for they promote rather than restrain the savage forces of capital accumulation that lead to ever greater levels of inequality and poverty. In fact, liberal democratic systems are ideal for the economic elites, for they are programmed with periodic electoral exercises that promote the illusion of equality, thus granting the system an aura of legitimacy.
...
To reverse the process requires not just an alternative economic program based on justice, equity, and ecological stability, but a new democratic system to replace the liberal democratic regime that has become so vulnerable to elite and foreign capture.

First of all, representative institutions must be balanced by the formation of institutions of direct democracy.

Second, civil society must organize itself politically to act as a counterpoint and check to the dominant state institutions.

Third, citizens must keep in readiness a parliament of the streets, or “people power,” that can be brought at critical points to bear on the decision-making process: a system, if you will, of parallel power. People power must be institutionalized for periodic intervention, not abandoned once the insurrection has banished the old regime.- As a prime example of the problems with the status quo, Eric Lipton exposes how U.S. Republican elected officials see their main job as repeating and amplifying the message of their oil-sector backers. Bronwen Tucker points out that the Harper Cons are likewise taking the side of the tar sands over people and the planet. And Dean Baker notes that the most recent set of international trade agreements goes far beyond even earlier versions in limiting health and environmental regulations.

- Meanwhile, Tyler Cowen offers some suggestions as to how technology could blunt the impacts of income inequality. But it's hard to see how those theoretical possibilities would accomplish much if not accompanied by a concerted effort to spread the benefit around - rather than merely being allowed to evolve in ways that favour the people in control of current capital and technology.

- Indeed, David Kynaston observes that a shift toward private education has only exacerbated inequality in the UK. And every bit of attention and funding directed toward corporatized education represents resources not put toward something more important - such as food for hungry children.

- And finally, the ILO reminds us that it's corporate decision-making rather than anything beyond employers' control that's led to the growing gap between the executive and shareholder classes and people working for a living.

Journalists First

Northern Reflections - Sun, 12/07/2014 - 07:52
                                                http://www.quillandquire.com/

Except for the occasional episode of The Nature of Things, I don't watch CBC Television. But I do listen to Radio 1. The Gomeshi Affair has revealed deep seated problems at CBC Radio. So I read Noah Richler's piece in today's Toronto Star with interest. Richler writes:
There are many bright lights at the CBC and some very accomplished journalists and perhaps even good managers, without question, but these are up against the obdurate culture of an institution under siege. Fighting to remain the same is not an option. Only radical change will save the place. Great swathes of CBC airtime are handed over to single people. You would think, listening to CBC Radio, that only Eleanor Wachtel had ever read a decent foreign novel; that Bob McDonald was our only adjudicator of science and that Peter Mansbridge is the only person who can read the news.

Similarly, Jian Ghomeshi was awarded every single trendy arts beat in the country ad nauseam. Did we really need the allegations of his beating women to discover that Rick Mercer could do the Scotiabank Giller job better? Will the latter now do that show forever?

The point is that there are huge numbers of qualified and entertaining Canadians ready to be discovered that the CBC is shutting out by its reliance on just a few people to do the work. Indeed, one of the pleasing effects of the vacant seat at Q is that — as is ordinary, for instance, at the BBC — the audience has been enjoying multiple hosts. It would be proper for listeners to be treated to more of this, but this too is unlikely as the CBC’s complacency in this regard is exacerbated by the tendency to chase the grail of high ratings that celebrity brings to it in its ailing state.
Unfortunately, CBC Radio has followed the American model. If Peter Jennings or Morley Safer could become stars south of the border, why not encourage that culture in Canadian broadcasting?  The powers that be concluded that we no longer needed any more gravel voiced Norman DePoes,  bespectacled Knowlton Nashes or non-photogenic Peter Gzowskis. Stars they weren't. But they were journalists first.

We would do well to return to the maxim Journalists First.

10 reasons you should participate in write for rights on wednesday, december 10

we move to canada - Sun, 12/07/2014 - 06:00
This Wednesday, December 10, is Human Rights Day. The date was chosen to commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, the first document of its kind.

Every year on December 10, Amnesty International holds a global letter-writing event: Write For Rights (in Canada). Thousands of people around the world write letters calling for action for victims of human rights abuses, and offering comfort and support to political prisoners.

Here are 10 reasons you should participate in Write For Rights 2014.

1. It's easy. Amnesty makes it really easy to participate. Read, type, send.

2. You can do do it from any computer. No meetings to attend, no schedule to keep. Just more of something you do all the time anyway: typing.

3. It's free. No need to donate money. The most this will cost you is postage.

4. You'll feel good about yourself. Enjoy that warm buzz you get from voluntarily helping other people. There's nothing quite like it.

5. You can choose how much to participate. Write one letter, write two letters, write three. Spend 10 minutes writing or spend an hour.

6. You can choose what to focus on. Write about an issue in your own country. Write about an issue in your country of origin. Write for children, or for women, or for LGBT people, or for workers, or for environmental activists, or for another issue that you care about.

7. You're busting stereotypes. We supposedly live in a selfish age where all we care about is I, me, mine. Challenge yourself to say it ain't so.

8. It works globally. Every fight against injustice begins with someone shining a light in a dark place. Be that light.

9. It works locally. When political prisoners are released, they often attest to the difference letters from strangers made in their lives: that knowing they were not forgotten helped them survive.

10. You enjoy your own human rights every day. Why not use them to help someone who can't?

Write for Rights in Canada

Write for Rights in the US

Write for Rights internationally.

On Facebook

Twitter: #Write4Rights

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