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A half-pregnant pause

Trapped In a Whirlpool - dim, 11/15/2015 - 05:35
It seems the new government is intent on keeping it's promise to end Canada's participation in the IS bombing mission, that's a good thing. A kept promise is usually so.
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Justin Trudeau and the Day the Cons Came Back From the Dead

Montreal Simon - dim, 11/15/2015 - 05:26

It seems only too tragic that just ten days after being sworn in as Prime Minister after promising to restore our Canadian values, and bring back sunnier days, that Justin Trudeau should be hit by the darkness of the Paris massacre.

Only too ironic that the son of Pierre should have to choose so soon between emotion and reason. 

The deadly terror attacks in Paris will not lead Canada to change course on its two main policies in relation to Syria: welcoming 25,000 refugees this year and ending Canada’s bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria.

And of course only too ghastly that the horrible tragedy in the City of Light should bring the Cons back from the dead.
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Closer To Home Than They Realize

Northern Reflections - dim, 11/15/2015 - 03:15

It's been surreal to watch and listen to Stephen Harper's former cabinet ministers distance themselves from their boss. Bob Hepburn writes:

Let’s start with Rona Ambrose, the new interim party leader. Without a hint of insincerity, Ambrose insists her caucus will no longer engage in the “nastiness” of the old Harper government and will be more “constructive, effective” in working as the Official Opposition.Also, Ambrose has completely reversed herself on the need for a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. For years, the Tories refused to hold an inquiry into what the RCMP says are more than 1,200 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Now she is all in favour of an inquiry, saying it “is an absolutely non-partisan issue, it should never be political.” 
And then there's Tony Clement, who deep sixed the long form census:
Next is Tony Clement, the former industry minister who cancelled the long-form census of 2011, a move widely denounced inside and outside of government. Clement was relentless in implementing the change, insisting it was needed to protect citizen privacy.Now Clement is expressing regrets, saying in hindsight that “I would have done it differently.”
And, of course, there's Kellie Leitch, who -- academically at least -- is supposed to be very bright:
Then there’s Kellie Leitch, the former labour minister at the centre of one of the lowest points in the Tory campaign. She hit that point when she joined cabinet colleague Chris Alexander in announcing “a snitch hotline” to report “barbaric cultural practices.” In reality, Leitch was urging Canadians to target Muslims in their neighbourhoods.Now Leitch, who apparently dreams of succeeding Harper, says the plan was misunderstood and not communicated very well.
Hepburn writes that the Conservatives must really think voters are stupid. Given the results of the election, and their own pronouncements, it's pretty clear that stupidity is closer to home than the former Harperites realize.

The Paris Attacks Weren't Caused by a Want of Bombs

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 11/14/2015 - 13:44

It didn't take long for the usual suspects to demand that Justin Trudeau reverse his decision to withdraw Canada's penny packet of CF-18s from the hapless bombing campaign against ISIS.

Linking the two is beyond puerile, it's well into the realm of sophistry. It suggests that the Paris bombings were somehow connected with the bombing campaign underway in Iraq and Syria or perhaps even that our decision to withdraw our minuscule contribution might have had some bearing on it. Now, they argue, we must return and bomb some more.

Okay, this is the stuff of belief-driven politics, the sort of thing we thought we had freed ourselves from by ousting Harper.  Bombing Muslims, civilian and insurgent alike, has achieved precisely what? Oh, sorry, that would be evidence-based thinking. That sort of thing isn't in vogue especially when it comes to Western adventures in the Middle East.

About the only rational argument I can come up with for a bombing campaign is one that strikes at the snake in the only place it really matters - the head. Off with its head.

That would mean finally admitting we have an intractable problem with the leadership of the Sunni states: the generals, sheikhs and princes from Egypt all the way to the farthest reaches of the Persian Gulf.

Go to the catalogue of our grievances. Begin with the embassy bombings and right through to the attack on the USS Cole, the first World Trade Center attack, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; the attack on London, both attacks on Paris; and let's toss in al Qaeda and ISIS for good measure. What do all of those have in common? They're all rooted in Sunni Islam and the worst of them embrace the radical Islamism practiced by the House of Saud, our ally. Sure ISIS beheads captives. So do the Saudis. Sure ISIS tortures victims. The Saudis cherish crucifixion.

Osama bin Laden? He's from a Saudi Sunni family that originated in Sunni Yemen. The 9/11 attackers? They were mainly Saudi with a few Yemeni tossed in. al Qaeda - yeah, Saudi. ISIS, well they're a little more eclectic now that recruiting has become easier but where did they get their start, their financing? Yeah, it was all those sheiks and princes of the Gulf States, our allies.

Notice who is not in on any of this? It's that awful "state sponsor of terrorism" Iran.

But the Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and Qatar and the others were with us in our air war on ISIS, right? Well, not so much. Very quietly, and without a murmur of protest from us, they hightailed it home. Now they're busy bombing Houthi civilians and rebels in Yemen, the same Houthi who are battling ISIS and al Qaeda forces in their homeland. The Saudis are essentially flying air support missions for ISIS in Yemen. And we're okay with that.

Our bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria isn't a SNAFU. No, it's well beyond that. It's a FUBAR - F__ked Up Beyond All Recognition. We're not making a dent against ISIS. We have no idea how to defeat them nor do we have the will even if we had the means. And the people pulling the strings? Well they've gone home where they're safe and sound.

Trudeau's right. This is a mug's game. Too bad there are some self-identified Liberals who don't get that.


LeDaro - sam, 11/14/2015 - 12:36
I got an Ipad. Having hard time using it first time.


Stop Using War as a Weapon….

Left Over - sam, 11/14/2015 - 08:38
Defence minister’s marching orders: end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq, Syria Justin Trudeau delivers mandate letters to cabinet ministers mapping out their top priorities

By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press Posted: Nov 13, 2015 12:21 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 13, 2015 4:21 PM ET

Despite all  whining from the Con losers on this subject,  Trudeau’s new defense minister has been ordered to do the right thing…

One of the reasons that Canada has remained comparatively safe  during  these  ‘troubles’ is that we have  not, until the Con regime,   officially involved ourselves in an offensive way, in the exploitation of  wars…but our  hands aren’t clean.

There are a myriad of  mining companies with  Canadian origins that are putting us in a very bad light as they  destroy the environment, exploit  Third World  workers, and conspire, hand in hand with corrupt national  leaders, to  make a fortune from natural resources while  the  citizens of those countries  gain nothing but  polluted environments.  In places like Nigeria and  Latin  America, Canadian  corps are destroying our  public  reputations with  little or no oversight…

So,  do we simply throw our hands up in the air,  or huff and puff (like Obama)  and really say nothing about the French attacks so prevalent in the news?

France has had a long history of colonization in the  Arab and Southeast Asian world…

Morocco and  Vietnam being two examples..that country  has, also,  a large population of  immigrants who are essentially ghettoized and exploited, while being shunned by many  native  French.. the results being  that  homegrown dissent is prevalent, no need to worry much about imported threats.

England faces the same challenges, and probably other  countries in Europe as well..

These chaotic ‘terrorist’ acts do not simply spring from infertile soil, fully formed. There is a  sad pattern throughout the world of the decades of pain and misery caused by the social and economic slavery of any culture..and here in  North America, we are lucky that  the backlash of our own  enslaved and  exploited populations aren’t  doing the same.

Every country involved in  these issues, and, sadly, that seems to be a majority in the so-called First World, these days,  needs to have a long hard look in the mirror, because redressing the imbalance is  probably more important than worrying about saber-rattling and revenge as a workable solution to this  ‘arbitrary’ violence and carnage.

Cowardly And Indefensible

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 11/14/2015 - 07:09

As cowardly, indefensible and savage as the terrorist attacks on Paris were, equally so is the response of the right-wing, eager to score points by exploiting that massacre for its own twisted political purposes.

If you haven't already done so, be sure to read Montreal Simon's post on the matter. As well, check out the video carried on Addicting Info, and if that doesn't sicken you sufficiently, take a look at Mother Jones, which carries some of the most outrageous tweets by some of the most unhinged minds in U.S. political culture today.

Beyond that, I have nothing to say.Recommend this Post

Listening To Our Better Angels

Northern Reflections - sam, 11/14/2015 - 05:25

When facts caught up with Stephen Harper's claim that he was the best person to manage the economy, he tried to stoke the fires of xenophobia, convinced that the heat he generated would lead him all the way back to Sussex Drive. He failed. But, Errol Mendes writes, we should look carefully at the numbers:

Yet, drilling down into the election results, the Conservative strategy partly succeeded at least in Quebec in parts where there was a dominant francophone population. In these ridings, where there are not many and in some cases, not any, Muslims or people from other cultures, the Conservative campaign played into what are often the catalysts of incipient racism and xenophobia, namely fear of loss of identity and suspicion of the “different other”. The French policy of secularism imported into francophone Quebec also played a part.
Canadians, as a whole, are decent people. However, some decent people are easily manipulated:

But irresponsible political leaders attempted to drive a large hole into that precious quality of respect for diversity that Canada gives to the world. The campaign of Stephen Harper partially succeeded in that. It massively rebounded on him and his party due the fact that it wounded the NDP and its leader who courageously stuck to his principles and stood by the fundamental right of the solitary women to wear her niqab at the citizenship ceremony as long she had shown her identity without the face covering beforehand. The demise of the NDP in Quebec due to the xenophobic strategy of the Conservatives led the majority of progressive voters to swing massively to the Liberals as the main hope of ousting the Harper government. The majority Liberal government will no doubt bury the barely disguised xenophobic proposals and actions of the Harper government. However, what limited success those proposals and actions had in Quebec is deeply troubling not only for Canada, but I suggest for many parts of our troubled world. There are growing number of examples in Europe of similar attempts by usually far right politicians to use various forms of xenophobia to make inroads into main stream and sometimes even traditionally progressive parties.
The same kind of race baiting is alive and well in European politics. And, after yesterday's events in Paris, it's bound to raise its ugly head again. Language and symbols -- like niqabs -- can inflame a population:

Language and symbols as much as guns and bullets can cause great damage to any society and pose the greatest dangers to those in democratic societies whose very guarantees of freedom of expression can be used by those who may want to gain power by scapegoating and vilifying the minorities who are part of their increasingly diverse societies.
That is why what happened in Canada a month ago is so important. Like it or not, we are an example -- either good or bad -- for the world. And, for the moment, we have listened to our better angels.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 11/14/2015 - 05:12
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne points out that even some of the world's wealthiest individuals are highlighting the need for governments to step up in addressing major collective action problems such as climate change and inequality. And Angella MacEwen offers one important example of that principle being put into practice, writing that Quebec's family-friendly parental leave policies have made a major impact in improving both social and economic outcomes.

- Duncan Weldon observes that wages will face conflicting pressures in the years to come, as increased replacement of work with new technology is weighed against a demographic crunch in the supply of labour.

- Carol Linnitt exposes some of the cynicism and denial from the corporations who have all too often been able to dictate the terms of climate change conversations, while David Climenhaga notes that the Cons' more overt obstructionism did little but to get the world to tune Canada out entirely. And PressProgress offers some good reasons for Alberta (and other jurisdictions) to move past coal power to cleaner, renewable alternatives.

- Nathan Raine discusses the futility of "tough on crime" policies which do nothing to address the social factors which actually cause criminal behaviour.

- Finally, Errol Mendes points out why we shouldn't be satisfied with the results of an election where xenophobia managed to have a significant impact on the outcome - even if the parties pushing it weren't the ones who benefited most. And Samantha Ponting charts just a few of the corporate connections of the Libs' new cabinet.

The Paris Massacre and the Monstrosity of the Cons

Montreal Simon - sam, 11/14/2015 - 04:58

What a difference a day makes. One moment I'm celebrating the restoration of Canada, and the return of hope and optimism

And the next moment I'm holding my head with both hands, and mumbling oh no not again. 

And wondering who are those bestial religious fanatics who would slaughter the innocent, and then blow themselves up happily?

And as if that wasn't horrible enough, then there was the Con media in this country, trying to use that tragedy to attack Justin Trudeau.
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Vive La France!

Feminist Christian - ven, 11/13/2015 - 21:02
Oh France, my thoughts and prayers are with you tonight.

I would like to remind everyone that we do not know who did this yet. And the only thing we will ever hear is what the media tell us. The media, who are owned by billionaires with agendas.

Here's my truth: Whoever did this is extremely unhappy. They've been radicalized by their anger and hatred. The only way we will ever stop the cycle of violence is to find out what is causing them to believe this is their only option, and stop that.

I continue to support bringing refugees here. If I had room, I'd sponsor one myself. I do not (we barely have room for us!) so I will donate to Oak Bay United Church's plan.

And I will pray for peace. That the little voice inside our heads that says peace is better than war, that love is better than hate, is not ignored. May the Divine fill all our hearts with love, compassion and understanding. May the Great Spirit give us the courage we need to love those we are afraid of. And God have mercy on the souls of the people who contributed to this in any way.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 11/13/2015 - 15:14
The Avener & Kadebostany - Castle In The Snow

Trudeau Axes Northern Gateway

The Disaffected Lib - ven, 11/13/2015 - 14:45

The prime minister has ordered a moratorium on oil tanker traffic along British Columbia's northern coast. No tankers, no pipeline - this appears to be the end of the Northern Gateway fiasco.

What Mr. Trudeau may have overlooked is that this will draw the focus of dilbit opponents to the Kinder Morgan southern pipeline. That's for another day.

Aesthetic Politics and the new (neo) Liberal Era. . . . .

kirbycairo - ven, 11/13/2015 - 07:28
In the modern era particularly since the Victorian times onward, politics has been a surprisingly aesthetic matter. This is because the rich and powerful people who overwhelmingly control government and politics in Western democracies are dependent on a largely lazy and ill-informed public to continually ratify and legitimize the continued dominance of an economic elite over the political establishment. Thus the political process has been one of creating the prevailing impression that the wealthy elites are somehow concerned with such trivialities as generalized prosperity, the well-being of the nation, jobs, education etc. If they don't effectively sell this package of benefits, they (as individual parties) risk being tossed from power. But more importantly, if the entire political class can't sell this illusion, they run a much bigger risk of actual social justice discourse intruding into mainstream political discourse, and that threatens the wealth and power of the small percentage of people who continually rule our democracies; democracies that are, I am sad to say, almost entirely illusory.

The Harper Government was a particularly graphic illustration of a failed aesthetic strategy. Over estimating public ignorance, racism, hostility, and nastiness is easy to do if your own attitudes tend in that direction. In the past decade we have seen this attitude become more and more public and explicit in the so-called 'Tea Party' phenomenon, a tendency that spilled over into Canada and found a home in Harper's Conservatives and Hudak's PCs in Ontario. But ignorance, racism, and religious fanaticism are much more widespread in the US, so as our Canadian politicians watched their southern cousins gain in popularity they over estimated what they could get away with here. Thus Harper and his ilk imagined that they could effectively sell an aesthetic of outright nastiness and contempt of democracy and still get reelected. In the weeks since losing power the Conservatives have dramatically illustrated the degree to which politics are about aesthetics and the degree to which they need to hide behind those aesthetics. So Jason Kenney tells us that the Cons got all the big issues right, but their tone was wrong. And in so doing he has failed to understand the central message of aesthetic politics, to wit: the illusion has to be complete, you can't admit that you are only pretending. By saying that they only got the tone wrong, Jason Kenney (entirely unwittingly) is like a magician who is revealing his secrets to the audience as he goes along. This is because the 'tone' that the Conservatives have now admitted to getting wrong was, at the core, a blatant contempt for democracy itself, so in this case their tone was their substance. This is why the Cons will be unable, in the short term, to renew their party. They have to come to grips with this sad fact; in a context in which most parties are still attached to the same socioeconomic model, politics is tone and little more! In admitting that they got the tone wrong, Kenney is admitting that they got the substance wrong too.

This is the strength of Trudeau, he understands that the illusion of modern politics has to be complete. You need to make people feel like they are stake-holders, like they are an essential part of the process and that the government is there to 'serve.' As long as you can sell this aesthetic, then you can continue to implement a neo-liberal agenda and make people feel that somehow it is just an inevitable, 'natural' outcome of democracy. But this brings up one of the real subtleties of modern politics, which is this - the great fear of the rightwing in this stage of capitalism is that an open, stake-holder political aesthetic will open up civil society just enough for people to realize the real practice behind the curtain. They fear that an open politics will gradually shift public discourse to things like climate change, economic inequality, the breakdown of the education system, the corruptions in the legal system, and the history of resource and land theft perpetrated against the indigenous population. In other words, what the rightwing fears is that by selling an open political aesthetic they must just end up creating the atmosphere of substantive change. The Liberals have taken another tack (a position taken by liberals for a long time in capitalism) - they realize that if they don't allow public discourse a degree of openness, an ability to slowly shift, the result will be a society so corrupt and unequal that revolution will eventually result.

In other words, the Liberals still know (like the Conservatives once knew but seem to have forgotten) that you don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle. But the Liberals also know that if you don't give the people a little steak now and then they will eventually take it for themselves. The Conservatives seem to have forgotten that simple lesson altogether.

On The Importance Of Political Renewal

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 11/13/2015 - 07:04

I'd like to share with you a comment made on a previous post dealing with the self-delusion the Conservative Party seems to be engaged in as they lurch toward 'renewal.'

AniO wrote:
The rehabilitation of the Conservative party is vital to our future, however. Sooner or hopefully later, the current government will become old, tired, arrogant and corrupt - the inevitable ravages of power, it would seem. At that point it is vital that we have an ethical and solid alternative to vote for. After the hostile takeover of the PCs, we didn't have and look what happened. How do we get them to thoroughly clean house and reform (pun intended) themselves, and return to their roots of a once-ethical, credible political party with the interests of Canada and Canadians at heart. Our longer-term future may depend on it.Here was my response:
You make an excellent point here, AniO. A healthy democracy demands a healthy and functional opposition, a party to hold the government to account and serve as a government-in-waiting. Here in Ontario, for example, the Liberal government has been in power for far too long, and has become what you describe: arrogant and old. The most obvious sign of this is the fact that it is selling off 60% of Hydro, which means that they are surrendering 60% of an annual $750 billion in profits, all for a few billion dollars.

When I voted for them in the last provincial election, I knew it was time that they spent some time on the bench, but unfortunately, the PCP under Hudak was never a consideration by virtue of his manifest incompetence, and I could not support the NDP's Andrea Horwath because she triggered an unnecessary election in her venal quest for power.Renewal is something that must come from within, something that follows a careful and motivated soul-searching, the capacity for which I believe the Conservatives currently lack. While they are no doubt paying close attention to the many notes of grace coming from the new Trudeau government, to emulate the style without the substance will merely continue the blind path the party has been on for so long.

They will have to do much better than that to once again be considered a government-in-waiting.
Recommend this Post

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 11/13/2015 - 06:46
Assorted content to end your week.

- Julie Delahanty discusses the need for Canada's federal government to rein in rising inequality. And Tim Stacey duly challenges the excuse that today's poor people just aren't poor enough to deserve any consideration.

- Amy Goodman interviews Joseph Stiglitz about the serious problems with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Andrea Germanos reports that Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, is joining the chorus pointing out how the TPP will affect public health. And Andy Blatchford points out how the TPP's intellectual property provisions are designed to enrich the U.S. at the expense of Canadian industry.

- Meanwhile, Brad Hornick points out how trade agreements and corporate influence will limit what we can hope to accomplished at the Paris conference on climate change, while Reuters reports on the massive amounts of money still being used to subsidize fossil fuels. But on the bright side, IndustriALL notes that the International Labour Organization has stepped up to the plate in advance of Paris by adopting a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions paired with a "just transition" for workers.

- Finally, Bill Tieleman comments on the Christy Clark Libs' phantom government which manages to make information disappear as soon as truth is in danger of becoming public. And Sean Holman writes that the basic question the Trudeau Libs will face on access to information is whether to presume that "administrative secrecy" should generally trump any public awareness of government decision-making.

NDP keeps digging

Dawg's Blawg - ven, 11/13/2015 - 06:30
Memo from Anne McGrath, National Campaign Director, “Canada’s New Democrats,” asking me to participate in a “survey.” Extracts: Since just last week, more than 10,000 Canadians have taken this survey on the election and what to focus on moving... Dr.Dawg

Justin Trudeau and the Humiliation of Postmedia

Montreal Simon - ven, 11/13/2015 - 06:23

Ever since Justin Trudeau defeated Stephen Harper, and sent him and his Cons packing, the mood in this country has improved beyond anything I have ever seen, or ever could have imagined.

The totalitarian grimness of the Harper years has been replaced with a new mood of hope and optimism. 

But unfortunately that new and hopeful mood is seen as threatening by the powerful interests that control the MSM, who would rather have us ground down by the lack of hope or the darkness of perpetual pessimism. 

And are doing their best to bury our hopes and expectations under a stinking heap of cynicism.
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They've Forgotten Their Audience

Northern Reflections - ven, 11/13/2015 - 06:02

In 2011, Stephen Harper garnered the editorial support of 95% of Canada's newspapers. This time around, that number had dropped to 71%. A good portion of that 71% came from the Postmedia chain, whose  chairman -- Paul Godfrey -- told his editors that he would brook no dissent from the chain's support of Harper. Michael Harris writes:

Godfrey committed what the late senator and Globe and Mail editor Richard Doyle said was the unpardonable sin of the industry: he held up the newspapers he runs and got a reflection of himself. And remember how this was done. On the weekend before the election, Godfrey disfigured the front pages of all his newspapers with a full-page attack ad in support of the Harper Conservatives.

From the Ottawa Citizen to the Vancouver Sun, the same fear-mongering ad advised readers that voting Liberal or NDP “will cost you.” Godfrey tried to impose the PM’s plan for re-election, the magic mantra of fear and forgetfulness, on the Postmedia audience. And just to be sure to catch the eyes of the dullards, that front-page wrap was bright yellow. A good choice of colour, given what Godfrey was up to.
The problem is that those who support the chain's editorial position are a distinct minority. And Godfrey's first job is to sell newspapers:

Godfrey’s forced march of Postmedia editors through the swamps of political partisanship could cost the chain dearly. The National Post is already floundering under a $650 million debtload, kept afloat by U.S. hedge funds that extract big interest returns on their “investment.” No one is happy about that and many others in this besieged industry are taking on water.

In the meantime, Godfrey is totally out of touch with the people who hold the chain’s fate in their hands — his dwindling band of subscribers. According to a new report from the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project, Canada’s newspapers were, as the Huffington Post put it, “in the tank” for Harper for the past two elections.
Canada's newspapers are in trouble. That's because they have forgotten who their audience is.

Stephen Harper's Incredible Shrinking Act

Montreal Simon - ven, 11/13/2015 - 02:33

Few people know where Stephen Harper is or what he is doing these days. He's disappeared from public view after his humiliating defeat.

Or is now so shrunken in stature he can't be seen with the naked eye. 

He's fading from our lives, and even vanishing from the internet.

Last week his propaganda YouTube channel 24/Seven went to black.

Now his twitter feed has gone down down the memory hole along with Great Leader...
Read more »


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