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Elections Canada throws in the towel

Creekside - 3 hours 52 min ago


It would be unseemly for a sitting government under the cloud of elections fraud and voter suppression in 200 ridings across the country to ram through the Fair Elections Act mainly benefitting themselves, so today Elections Canada Commissioner Yves Côté obligingly threw in the towel on any further investigation into what Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley called :

"an orchestrated effort to suppress votes during the 2011 election campaign by a person or persons with access to the CIMS database" 

Commissioner Côté :

"... it is not sufficient to find evidence of misdirection of an elector. There must be evidence of intention to prevent the elector from voting, or by some pretence or contrivance, to induce the elector to vote or not vote for a particular candidate.

"No such evidence was found."





Skippy was pleased though : "Pierre Poilievre, the minister for democratic reform, said the report proves the Conservative party ran "an honest and ethical campaign" in 2011."We followed all of the rules and we won fair and square," Poilievre said Thursday before delivering a speech on controversial new electoral reforms proposed for the 2015 vote.
"That is what we've been saying all along and those who've been making baseless smears ever since have been once again proven wrong in the process."Not that the Office of the Commissioner has shown much inclination to pursue evidence of election fraud before, but his report shows he was hampered by "investigative challenges", due to "outright refusal to cooperate" on the part of witnesses. Unsurprisingly, the new Fair Elections Act declines to give him the power to compel witnesses.

So here is an example of what is presumably now legal in our new 'buyer beware' elections - a "misdirection of an elector" from Election Day in 2011, left on the phone of a librarian :



I'll save you the bother of looking up that phone number - it's Pierre Poutine.

Saskboy did an excellent rundown on the issues this morning.
Back with more in a bit.
.

Evil will never have the last word

Feminist Christian - 5 hours 40 min ago
Evil may have the upper hand, but it will never have the last word.
--Rev. Gail Miller, on the message of Easter

Yeah, it sure seems to have the upper hand some days.

Like when the Federal government is rigging elections while offering to send Canadians to Ukraine to oversee theirs. (see: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pierre-poilievre-says-amendments-coming-to-elections-bill-1.2620474 and http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/robocalls-made-across-canada-in-2011-won-t-bring-charges-1.2620444)

When a cop kills a kid, gets 7 months paid leave, and then comes back to work in the Crimestoppers unit.

When a man can beat the shit out of his girlfriend (wife?) ON TAPE and bureaucracy gets that thrown out, but she is blamed for all of it because she was too scared to testify.

When good people die of cancer when they have young children. RIP old friend. My thoughts and prayers are with your family. (I know, seems more like unfair than evil, but you don't know the story and it's not mine to tell.)

That cops can just take a person's meager possessions and sell them.
Come and buy the possessions of the houseless! It'll be fun! #bcpoli H/T @JodieEmery pic.twitter.com/yACBJDauMs cc. @CyMadD0x
— Luna (@Heading_West) April 24, 2014These are just the "little" things. This isn't the ongoing use of rape as a war crime. This isn't governments using chemical weapons. It's not genocide. Or starvation. Or the AIDS crisis in Africa. Or Haiti still being a fucking mess because no one gives a shit about black people. This isn't slavery. It isn't even slavery-light (You know, when you still get a home... okay, shack, but you have to work 18 hours a day to have it and search through dumpsters for food, but get told that you're damn lucky to have that textile factory! And you're "free" enough that you can leave, but only if you'd like to die on the street.)

But there is a lot of light. A lot of good in the world. And these acts of goodness will always ALWAYS have the last word. Mr. Rogers once famously said that his mother told him to look to the helpers in times of tragedy. Look for the good people who coming running to help. Also, just look around. There's good everywhere.

The man who saw a barefoot man and gave him his shoes, right off his own feet.

The couple who left a thousand dollar tip on an $80 tab because the bartender's dog needed surgery.

The man who paid off the delinquent cafeteria accounts for poor kids in an Indianapolis school.

Challenge! Everyone find one example in real life and one story they can link to of something extraordinarily awesome. Post it here, or on your blogs. Share the love.


Canada Health Act: Then and Now, Nfld and NB

Dammit Janet - 7 hours 20 min ago
I have a question.

In this piece about what soon may be the only abortion clinic east of Montreal, the Athena Health Centre in St John's, there's this bit of history (emphasis mine).
According to a 1998 article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, from the time the St. John’s Morgentaler clinic opened until 1993 the out-of-pocket cost for a woman having an abortion ranged from $400-$750, despite the fact abortion was covered by the Canada Health Act as a medically necessary procedure. In ’93, however, the province began paying the salaries of physicians at the Morgentaler clinic, enabling the clinic to reduce its fees. Then, in 1995, the federal government began forcing the provinces to cover the full cost of abortions for those eligible for provincial health care, and by 1998 the Government of Newfoundland was fully funding the medical service. The cost to the province today is about $1,000 per procedure.The federal government began forcing provinces to fund abortion in 1995, yet somehow the memo to New Brunswick got lost in a time warp?

Now, nearly 20 years later, New Brunswick STILL hasn't got the message?

Alternatively, why did the 1995 feds force Newfoundland but somehow overlook New Brunswick?

Students of inequality and misogyny in Canada would like to know.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 10 hours 29 min ago
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Thom Hartmann discusses how Reaganomics were designed to crush the U.S.' middle class - and have succeeded in that goal:
Progressive taxation, when done correctly, pushes wages down to working people and reduces the incentives for the very rich to pillage their companies or rip off their workers. After all, why take another billion when 91 percent of it just going to be paid in taxes?

This is the main reason why, when GM was our largest employer and our working class were also in the middle class, CEOs only took home 30 times what working people did. The top tax rate for all the time America’s middle class was created was between 74 and 91 percent. Until, of course, Reagan dropped it to 28 percent and working people moved from the middle class to becoming the working poor....If you compare a chart showing the historical top income tax rate over the course of the twentieth century with a chart of income inequality in the United States over roughly the same time period, you’ll see that the period with the highest taxes on the rich – the period between the Roosevelt and Reagan administrations – was also the period with the lowest levels of economic inequality.

You’ll also notice that since marginal tax rates started to plummet during the Reagan years, income inequality has skyrocketed.

Even more striking, during those same 33 years since Reagan took office and started cutting taxes on the rich, income levels for the top 1 percent have ballooned while income levels for everyone else have stayed pretty much flat.
...
Creating a middle class is always a choice, and by embracing Reaganomics and cutting taxes on the rich, we decided back in 1980 not to have a middle class within a generation or two...

This, of course, is exactly what conservatives always push for. When wealth is spread more equally among all parts of society, people start to expect more from society and start demanding more rights. - Meanwhile, Robert Solow reviews Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, with a particular focus on the "rich-get-richer dynamic". Lynn Stuart Parramore comments on the corporatist right's fear of Piketty's analysis. And Geoff Davies (via Yves Smith) proposes some policy options which would reduce pre-market inequality.

- Molly Ball writes that some U.S. governments are starting to learn their lesson about the dangers of privatization - but only after having forfeited vital public institutions to the private sector.

- David Green discusses how the temporary foreign worker program is designed to make sure that employers can avoid the market forces which would otherwise lead prosperity to be shared with workers. And PressProgress highlights the fact that Jason Kenney was warned that he lacked accurate jobs data - but kept on spouting talking points with gross disregard for their accuracy rather than looking into how his government has attacked the evidence-gathering process.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig writes about Stephen Harper's fetishization of war even as the public moves past any desire to funnel resources into destruction.

A Corrrupted Party

Northern Reflections - 11 hours 30 min ago


Linda McQuaig writes that there is no better contrast between what the Conservative Party used to stand for and what it stands for now than the contrast between Douglas Roche and Stephen Harper. Roche represented Edmonton between 1972 and 1984. He was appointed to the Senate in 1998. He retired from the Senate in 2004.  Throughout his career, he has been a tireless advocate for nuclear disarmament:

Roche has spent decades championing nuclear disarmament, peace and social justice — causes that have fallen by the wayside in our current rush to celebrate greed and cheer on military intervention. Launching his twenty-first book this week, Roche is a striking reminder of the gulf between the old Progressive Conservative Party that, at its best, found room for truly public-spirited individuals, and Stephen Harper’s soulless new version.
He believes, quite simply, that war has become an outmoded method for solving disputes:

Gentlemen no longer duel, for instance. But for centuries they did. As Alexander Hamilton prepared for his famous 1804 duel with U.S. vice-president Aaron Burr, he wrote in his diary that he strongly disapproved of duelling but felt obliged to participate because people would look down on him otherwise.

The lack of duelling today doesn’t mean that humans have evolved into more sensitive beings — just that society regards duelling as unacceptable and outdated. Aggression is now channeled into contemporary practices like corporate takeovers or derivatives trading.
But Mr. Harper is still addicted to the old way of doing things:

Under Harper, Ottawa has shown an enthusiasm for the institution of war, making something of a fetish out of celebrating Canada’s war history, pumping up our military spending and no longer even feigning an appreciation of peace. Our troop contributions to UN peacekeeping missions, already on the decline under the Liberals, have plummeted to 53rd in the world, in between Paraguay and Slovakia.
Roche has served as the President of the United Nations Associations of Canada; and, in 1985, he was elected Honorary President of the World Federation of United Nations Associations. Stephen Harper refuses to speak to the UN.

The distance between Douglas Roche and Stephen Harper is the distance between Peace and War. And that distance illustrates just how thoroughly Mr. Harper has corrupted the Conservative Party of Canada.


New column day

accidentaldeliberations - 11 hours 52 min ago
Here, discussing what Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found (PDF) in looking at which preferences actually shape U.S. public policy - and what needs to happen for the needs of the general public to be given some actual weight in government policy choices.

For further reading...
- Again, Larry Bartels, Kathleen Geier and Paul Krugman are among many who have also commented on the study.
- Sanders Deionne charts the connection between lobbying payouts and tax giveaways for a number of large U.S. corporations.
- On the Canadian side, I'll point again to Therea Tedesco and Jen Gerson's report on the conflict-ridden Senate, along with PressProgress' observations about how our own businesses don't pay their fair share in taxes. And Donald Gutstein highlights the Fraser Institute as an example of the type of anti-social corporate reality-laundering operation which tends to exert undue influence.

Existential horror

Dawg's Blawg - 12 hours 33 min ago
In an alternate universe where sentient, human-like intelligences only reproduce asexually, the concept of mammalian reproduction would be the subject of lurid and imaginative horror novels (which might possibly be similar to our romance novels or, I guess, pornography).... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

Sammy Yatim's Accused Killer Back On The Job

Politics and its Discontents - 13 hours 35 min ago


While the presumption of innocence is fundamental to our justice system, common sense and public sensibilities are always unspoken elements of the equation. This is clearly seen, for example, in jury selection, a good part of which is designed to ferret out and exclude from participation those with prejudgments that could affect the rights of the accused to a fair trial.

With that preamble and proviso out of the way, what I express in the following is simply my opinion, a perspective informed by news coverage of the accused and the aforementioned common sense and public sensibilities.

I have written several past posts on Sammy Yatim and related matters of police abuse of their authority. Yatim, readers will recall, was the 18-year-old whose death at the hands of police on July 27, 2013, was captured on video. While holding a knife in an empty streetcar, presenting no immediate threat to the many police who were on scene, Yatim was shot to death by Const. James Forcillo, who was later charged with second-degree murder.

Now, incredibly, just a few days after the beginning of his preliminary hearing, word has arrived that Forcillo has been back on the job since February.

The decision to have Const. James Forcillo return to duty — after a seven-month suspension with pay — was made by Chief Bill Blair.

“The chief, using his discretion, made the decision to lift his suspension and since February he has been assigned to administrative duties here at headquarters,” spokesman Meaghan Gray confirmed Wednesday. “He is not in uniform and his job does not require any use-of-force options.”


A close Yatim family friend, Joseph Nazar, was stunned by the news:

This is a betrayal by the police chief,” Nazar said. “This officer is charged with murder and he’s working in a police station?

“If this is true, we’re not going to sit quiet about it,” he added.


Police union head Mike McCormick, “fully” supports the chief’s decision to lift Forcillo’s suspension.

“We encourage management to find meaningful work for suspended officers when possible, as long as any risk has been mitigated,” McCormack said. “And it actually happens quite frequently.”

He said it’s good for the officers, the service and taxpayers.


What McCormick failed to acknowledge is that it's not so good for the pursuit of justice, fosters the perception of a blue brotherhood with more contempt than concern for the public, and betrays an egregious disdain for a still-grieving family that will never again embrace their loved one.Recommend this Post

Conditional Pro-Choice

Dammit Janet - 14 hours 9 min ago
I realize that not everyone lurks in the dark recesses of the toobz that I do, but it would be hard to miss the brouhaha going on in the UK over Josie Cunningham.

Ms Cunningham wears many hats, as do we all, but it is her ambition to be a celebrity that has knickers in knots.

The telly show Big Brother was interested in her as a contestant (right word?) until it was revealed that she's preggers. Interest cooled.

No problemo, she responded, I'll have an abortion. (And she said so publicly, of which more anon.)

SHRIEEEEK!

How dare the hussy put her career and ambition ahead of procreation??1??1! (She has two children already, BTW.)

And much more, a lot of it unpublishable in a family-friendly blog like this. ;-)

So. Okey-dokey. The usual BS from the pro-forced pregnancy gang, but what's particularly pukey-making are the comments from what Aurgasmic yesterday termed the "conditional prochoice" side.

So fucking sick of these conditional Prochoice assholes. Either you think pregnant people are people or you don't.

— Auragasmic (@Auragasmic) April 23, 2014

"I'm pro-choice but she left it too long."

"I'm pro-choice but she's making a spectacle of herself."

(A good rule of thumb: if you start a statement "I'm x, but", you're probably not really x.)

Ms Cunningham is just like all of us who declined pregnancy because of other pressing matters: a job, an education, a career, whatever.

Shorter: There are no good or bad reasons for abortion. All reasons are valid. And if you're pro-choice, you know that.

This is the exact opposite phenom of Conditional Pro-Life.

And equally despicable.

ADDED: Some interesting "yabbut she's treating it flippantly" comments from the normally sensible folks at PZ Myers's joint..

Jason Kenney's Other Big Foreigner Problem

Montreal Simon - 16 hours 36 min ago


Well surprise, surprise. I see that Jason Kenney has stopped bragging about how he plans to fix the foreign workers problem, after the tragic story of that waitress in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

Who was reduced to tears after she lost her job to one of them.

And who can blame him eh? When he created the problem, Canadians are so angry.

And even McDonald's admits the problem is so big it's temporarily halting his pimping services. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper and the Scandal at 24 Sussex Drive

Montreal Simon - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 21:32


Well compared to all the other scandals he is facing this may not be the biggest. 

Paramedics were called to the Prime Minister’s official residence in Ottawa over the weekend after an 18-year-old woman suffered from severe intoxication. 

The Ottawa Paramedic Service confirmed that it responded to a call involving an 18-year-old who suffered from “possible alcohol intoxication” at an event at 24 Sussex Drive.


But it is scandalous to see how lightly the incident is being treated, and the way the RCMP seem to be trying to protect Stephen Harper.
Read more »

No, its not art. Its garbage

Cathie from Canada - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:57
Critics trash environmental artwork

Critics trash environmental artwork

This definitely falls into the "don't piss on me and tell me its raining" category.

What an insult from our Visual Arts Placement Jury to a poorer neighbourhood, to put a couple of bales of plastic garbage on one of their streetcorners and then tell them its "art" and is meant to start "a discussion about waste".

Inner city Saskatoon neighbourhoods have had plenty of opportunity over the years to talk about waste -- the needle cleanup every spring, to start with.  They don't need any more.

I cannot imagine the "discussion" that the residents would have had with their councillors if this had been placed on a corner in the University district, or in Stonebridge -- neighbourhoods which produces volumes more plastic waste annually than Mayfair ever did.

In fact, that's what I support -- let's move this to the corner of University Drive and Clarence Avenue for the next six months, right on the riverbank.

What a beautiful sight!

Shorter

Cathie from Canada - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:38
Shorter statement from the Weyburn restaurant at the centre of the Temporary Foreign Worker program controversy:

"It's all the employees' fault!"Darn it, that "restructuring" will just trip you up sometimes.

help me buy a tablet, part 2

we move to canada - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 13:00
Three months have passed since I asked you to help me buy a tablet. Money is tight - thanks to past and upcoming travel! - and I squeezed a few more months out of my dying netbook. But now I am serious about replacing it.

After that last post, I was sure I wanted the ASUS Transformer, the tablet that docks into a keyboard, so it's both a tablet and a netbook. I love the idea of that, but the price with the keyboard is quite a bit more than I should spend for something that's a want, not a need. I also realized that I want something smaller. Looking at other people's tablets, I want something more along the 7" size as opposed to 10".

After reading reviews, I decided on the Google's Nexus 7. Most people agree it's the best Android substitute for an iPad Mini, at a much lower price. I even identified what sounds like a great keyboard-stand-case combo made by MiniSuit.

I was all set to buy the Nexus 7... when I realized it is WiFi only, and does not have data capability. Part of what I want in a tablet is being able to get online without WiFi. I'd like to keep my BlackBerry Curve for voice, text, and organizer functions, and use a tablet that can handle both WiFi and data. The lack of data seemed to be the only thing missing from the Nexus 7...

...until the Nexus 7 With Mobile Data came along. (That's really the name.) So far this is only sold online through Google Play. Google sells it unlocked, so it can be used with any compatible carrier.

I had a hell of a time finding out if a Nexus tablet would be compatible with Wind. Everyone, including Wind, wanted me either to (a) use a mobile hotspot (not exactly the same as having a tablet with data!), or (b) tether the tablet to my cell phone. Come on, folks, is it so unthinkable to get a data plan for a tablet?

But Wind doesn't have a data-only plan for a tablet. What to do...

Do you have a data plan for your tablet? Through which carrier and what does it cost?

I've been Rogers-free for years now, and I've never used Bell for anything. I'd be loathe to start now, but are there options from smaller carriers?

Do you think it's worth it to get a voice/text/data plan through Wind when I only need data?

Is there some big chunk of information I'm missing here? Please don't suggest a mobile hotspot!



More On The Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 08:55


As noted yesterday, the Temporary Foreign Workers Program continues to cause both grief and outrage among Canadians. The latest publicly-identified victims, two former employees at a Weyburn Sask. eatery called Brothers Classic Grill and Pizza [previously called El Rancho], are receiving a groundswell of support both locally and across the country.

In an update on their website, CBC Saskatchewan, we learn that Sandy Nelson, a 28-year veteran waitress at the restaurant who lost her job to foreign workers, had tried to bring attention to her plight earlier:

"We tried going [the] government route. Never got a response," Nelson said. "Finally got a response today." That is, after the injustice became public.

Among those who are considered part of the Harper base, this comment was typical:

"I don't think that's fair," Weyburn resident Kyla Broomfield said. "We go there all the time and they treat customers well. I don't know why they would fire them."

"Why should they give foreigners more opportunities?" Jeremiah Broomfield said. "There's willing Canadians here to work. It's just not fair."


One can only assume that had this situation not been made public, Jason Kenney would not now be investigating it.

In today's Star, Tim Harper offers his assessment of the TFWP. Laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Harper regime, under whose auspices these abuses have proliferated, he says:

The Conservatives have now done what seems to be the impossible — cutting hours for Canadian workers, setting the stage for the ill-treatment of temporary workers, further alienating the labour movement in this country and fielding complaints from small businesses who play by the rules who say those rules are too onerous.

Harper suggests strong action is needed: the program either needs a complete overhaul, with caps put on the number of temporary workers in this country, or it should be scrapped and replaced with new immigration rules.

He adds that Jason Kenney has to start imposing real penalties, not suspensions. Without that, the abuses will continue and the program’s credibility will continue to crumble.

Ultimately, I guess it requires a careful cost benefit analysis by a government that has consistently shown itself to be so contemptuous of average Canadians and so subservient to the demands of business. Indeed, whose vote is most likely to be lost here?

Recommend this Post

The danger of Asteroids

LeDaro - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 08:17
If a big asteroid hits a city like New York it can cause great damage. Earth is exposed to these asteroids. We have been lucky so far.Watch the video below:

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 07:11
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frances Russell writes about the corrosive effects of inequality. And Robert Reich points out one creative option California is considering to address inequality at the firm level: tying corporate tax levels to wage parity, under the theory that shareholders will then have an incentive to push for a fair distribution of wages.

- Peter Richardson reviews Matt Taibbi's The Divide:
 Taibbi explores why Wall Street bankers are seemingly exempt from criminal prosecution, even as New York City targets petty crime — much of it manufactured by police in minority neighborhoods — more aggressively than ever. He cites statistics to make his argument, but mostly he reports on specific cases. One involves a working-class black man who finally decided to fight a misdemeanor charge for blocking pedestrian traffic — that is, standing on the sidewalk in front of his home. Taibbi also considers the zeal with which government agencies investigate and humiliate welfare recipients and undocumented residents for trying to provide for their families during hard times — times made all the harder because of unprosecuted crimes at the top of the economic food chain.

Everyone knows the rich receive special treatment in this country, especially in court. But Taibbi concludes that the government now offers a sliding scale of civil and criminal protection to U.S. residents. At one end of the spectrum, the very rich are virtually beyond accountability, no matter how massive and destructive their crimes may be. At the other end, the nation’s most vulnerable residents face unremitting investigation and prosecution by bureaucracies determined to find them guilty of something.

Taibbi also surfaces a new set of targets: Justice Department prosecutors who seek settlements for even the most outrageous white-collar scams. Many of them are recruited from law firms whose clients include the largest Wall Street banks. Lanny Breuer, who headed the department’s criminal division when the financial meltdown occurred, is Taibbi’s poster boy for this conflict of interest. Both he and Attorney General Eric Holder were partners at Covington & Burling, which represents JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo. All too often, Taibbi argues, the prosecutors have continued to behave like defense attorneys. When Holder was a Clinton administration official, for example, he wrote a memo arguing that prosecutors should consider “collateral consequences” when determining whether to charge persons or corporations. If a criminal prosecution would unduly harm innocent shareholders and employees, the logic went, it made more sense to settle. But once bankers realized they were beyond criminal prosecution, the incentives to transgress increased dramatically.
...
“The Divide” marks a shift in Taibbi’s tone. More Lincoln Steffens than Hunter Thompson, Taibbi drops most of the histrionics to reveal the corruption and injustice at hand. He even goes out of his way to be reasonable. He acknowledges that prosecuting financial cases can be expensive and risky, especially when the alleged crimes are complex and the defendants have vast legal resources at their disposal. That fact motivates prosecutors to settle such cases rather than try them in criminal court. He also concedes that many disadvantaged neighborhoods may benefit from tough policing. But he maintains that when combined, the two law-enforcement strategies add up to a glaring injustice. He also notes that it’s far too easy to introduce jurisdictional complications in financial cases that would never be allowed in less consequential cases. To make that point, he recounts a horrific case in which high-profile Wall Street financiers escaped punishment after trying to destroy a company they bet against as well as harassing its executives and their family members.  - And David Dayen also discusses the consequences of a culture of impunity for the financial sector, with a particular focus on a home-seizure complex which has neither any incentive nor any apparent means to figure out whether a given claim to enforce a mortgage has any basis in fact:
(D)espite the fact that the nation’s courtrooms remain active crime scenes, with backdated, forged and fabricated documents still sloshing around them, state and federal regulators have not filed new charges of misconduct against Bank of New York, Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bank or any other mortgage industry participant, since the round of national settlements over foreclosure fraud effectively closed the issue.

Many focus on how the failure to prosecute financial crimes, by Attorney General Eric Holder and colleagues, create a lack of deterrent for the perpetrators, who will surely sin again. But there’s something else that happens when these crimes go unpunished; the root problem, the legacy of fraud, never gets fixed. In this instance, the underlying ownership on potentially millions of loans has been permanently confused, and the resulting disarray will cause chaos for decades into the future, harming homeowners, investors and the broader economy. Holder’s corrupt bargain, to let Wall Street walk, comes at the cost of permanent damage to the largest market in the world, the U.S. residential housing market.

By now we know the details: During the run-up to the housing bubble, banks bought up millions of mortgages, packaged them into securities and sold them around the world. Amid the frenzy, lenders failed to follow basic property laws, which ensure legitimate transfers of mortgages from one legal owner to another. When mass foreclosures resulted from the bubble’s collapse, banks who could not demonstrate they owned the loans got caught trying to cover up the irregularities with false documents. Federal authorities made the offenders pay fines, much of which banks paid with other people’s money. But the settlements put a Band-Aid over the misconduct. Nobody went in, loan by loan, to try to equitably confirm who owns what....
There was another solution available here, if Holder’s Justice Department didn’t throw up its hands and settle. Judges could have disassembled the broken mortgage system, and appointed a special master to handle all loans in question. It may have taken years, but the preservation of the public property system makes the time and expense worth it. Unless you would rather kneel to the wishes of the financial industry to keep everything rolling, and let the wound fester.

If you or I pick the lock on a house and try to steal everything in it, we’d probably go to jail. But if I were a bank, and I wrote down on a piece of paper that I simply owned that house, I’d get away with it. That’s the sad legacy of trying to cover up massive fraud instead of dealing with it.- Don Lenihan responds to Lawrence Martin's suggestion that key PMO staffers be elected by Parliament by pointing out that there's more to democratic accountability than intermittent elections.

- And one of the more important factors needed to hold governments to account is accurate information about what they're doing. Which means there's all the more reason for concern about the Cons' pattern of refusing to release public data and covering up their own actions. But on the bright side, the NDP's push to make government information public by default offers a much-needed contrast.

- Finally, Tim Harper suggests that the temporary foreign worker program is beyond fixing. And
the CP discusses the obvious alternative: rather than binding helpless temporary workers to a single employer for the sole purpose of suppressing their wages and working conditions, we should look to fill with immigrants who can hope to make a future in Canada.

Canada's political police?

Dawg's Blawg - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 05:55
Bob Paulson, the Commissioner of the RCMP, disgraces himself in a letter to the Ottawa Citizen today, going after journalist Stephen Maher for his very mild comments on the RCMP’s decision not to proceed with charges against Nigel Wright. Besides... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

An Ugly Blast From The Past

Northern Reflections - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 05:47


It's not news to note that the Harper government is fixated on the past. From dropping the word "progressive" from the party's moniker to building a resource based economy -- with the focus on one resource -- the Harperites are detemined  to make the clock run backwards. And the "Fair" Elections Act is part of that agenda. Paul Adams writes that, when Canada was founded, the franchise was not available to everyone:

We tend to think of women’s suffrage as the last significant extension of the franchise, occurring around the time of the First World War. We also tend to think of the expansion of the franchise as a steady forward march. Bit by bit, more and more people got the vote, and steadily we become more democratic.

The process has been much more herky-jerky than that.

Two years after women got the vote, Parliament re-affirmed that aboriginal people, including Inuit, could not participate in elections. Nor could minorities such as Chinese, Japanese or Hindus vote federally in places such as British Columbia and Saskatchewan where they were barred from voting provincially.
Canada's first inhabitants have been overlooked since we -- the Europeans -- arrived.  Pierre Poilievre proposes to continue that policy:

Most Canadians don’t live on reserves. Most Canadians don’t have parents or grandparents who were forbidden from voting by law. And most Canadians would have trouble imagining the circumstances of those who do.

As First Nations leaders have pointed out, many people living on reserves don’t have driver’s licences or even bank accounts. Interestingly, ‘status cards’ — the core identification document on reserves — have a photograph but not the address required by the proposed bill. Moreover, these cards expire and may be difficult to renew.

We know that aboriginal people rely on the vouching provisions of the current law to a far greater degree than other Canadians for precisely those reasons.
Lurking not far beneath the suggestion that most Canadians think it is reasonable for voters to have ID in their pockets on election day is the sense that only the “deserving” — the upright, respectable citizens — should be participating in our democracy.
There is racism just below the surface of the "Fair" Elections Act. This is the government which tore up the Kelowna Accord and treated Chief Theresa Spence with contempt.

Without a doubt, the Harperites are an ugly blast from the past.


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