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A guy just has to have those lonely cowboy blues what with the battering of the Duffy trial, former insider and fraudster/jailbird Bruce Carson about to face justice - again, and the likelihood that Harper galpal Pamela Wallin might get her indictment any day.
So here, to help while away those endless hours traveling on the campaign trail, is Shifty Steve's very own campaign theme song. Tex Ritter, no less.
There was blood on the saddle And blood all around And a great big puddle Of blood on the ground
A cowboy lay in it All covered with gore And he never will ride Any broncos no more
Oh, pity the cowboy All bloody and red For the bronco fell on him And bashed in his head
There was blood on the saddle And blood all around And a great big puddle Of blood on the ground
We need to talk. While you're busy competing to come out on top in the October 19th election, you're criss-crossing the country meeting the party faithful, feeding pronouncements to the media lapdogs and, generally, trying to reach out to Canadians to persuade them to vote for your party and not the other guy's.
You've been at this for weeks now and, so far, it's been "shopping list" campaigning. One says he'll increase funding for this, another says he'll restore funding for that, and the third one hints at some major project or another he's just itching to launch without explaining why, since he's been in power over the past decade, he didn't launch it years ago.
The approach you've been taking is actually demeaning. It treats us, the Canadian people, as taxpayers, not citizens. I guess if you all do it, it doesn't seem so bad - except it does. It is bad. Taxes are how we pay to support our nation, how we build our society. They're essential, sure, but you're supposed to govern - for us, the electorate, for those who don't or for various reasons can't vote, and for our future generations.
Our kids and grandkids may not be relevant to you but they're sure as hell relevant to us. We want our grandkids to inherit the best possible Canada we can bequeath to them. That's where you come in. You are the most important instrument we have to achieve that goal. We vest in you the powers to do that on our behalf. We dutifully pour money into your treasury to do that on our behalf. Yet you don't seem to want to do what we need done. Why is that?
There's a story in today's TorStarabout a summit underway in the Anchorage to discuss some very important and pressing Arctic issues. Eight countries are in attendance, represented by their foreign ministers. Our Rob Nicholson is a no show, due to him being tied up campaigning or some other feeble excuse, which drew a subtle rebuke from John Kerry.
"I think anybody running for any high office in any nation in the world should come to Alaska or to any other place where it is happening and inform themselves about this. It is a seismic challenge that is affecting millions of people today.” Okay, bad Rob, bad Rob, except the opposition can't bitch too much given how hard they've worked during their "shopping list" campaign to avoid really important issues such as climate change, inequality, corporatism, the corporate media cartel and so many other looming threats to Canada, our people, and our democracy. Louise Comeau thinks it comes down to cowardice: I think the party leaders are afraid to really get into the nub of the matter, which is that we’ve got to confront our energy system and the approach we’ve been taking,” Louise Comeau of the Climate Action Network Canada said in an interview, calling it “a fundamental state of denial we are in as a country.”
“Canada’s silence on this issue is not new,” added Comeau, noting Canada was the chair of the Arctic Council for the past two years where it pushed a northern development agenda “and actually ensured climate change wasn’t discussed.” I think she's right. You are goddamned cowards, all three of you.
There was nothing accidental about it. This wasn't oversight or even negligence. In his decade in power, Shifty Steve Harper has gutted, bit by bit, Canada's fisheries protection regulations - and he's not finished yet. "Over the last decade, what we've seen is a not-so-gradual abandonment of the fish habitat protection field," said University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski.
He has sifted through reams of data and dozens of development applications to conclude that federal protection for fisheries and waterways has been declining for more than a decade.
Olszynski found environmental oversight by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans dropped dramatically during the 2000s — a time when Canada saw huge spending in the resource industries.
And he concludes changes to environmental law in 2012 weren't intended to cut red tape, as the government suggested, but to lower the environmental bar.
"What my data suggests is that the narrative provided doesn't add up in terms of this unduly intrusive regulatory regime. It was never really about reducing red tape."In 2004, the government decided to minimize oversight for projects deemed low-risk, which cut the number of projects it reviewed in half. The rest of the decrease came in 2012 after the government revamped environmental laws.
Over that same period, enforcement fell off a cliff.
Olszynski reports that environmental warnings and charges under the Fisheries Act fell to about 50 from about 300. Staff time allotted to enforcement dropped to 10,000 hours from 35,000.
The department's budget was cut by $80 million in 2012. Another $100 million in cuts are planned over three years beginning this year.
It’s important to acknowledge the people who have changed our lives. Rita literally defined the course of mine. I was seventeen, enrolled in a programme of studies at McGill University that I hated. She was the same age. I was...
Let's offer a quick reminder to the Libs' spin machine, and particularly to the people who should know better who are choosing to echo it.
No party is under an obligation to reflexively attack or belittle everything another party proposes in its election platform.
If a platform plank or general principle raised during the campaign can't reasonably be opposed, the appropriate response is to at least recognize that fact before trying to start spinning. And one Lib spokesperson roughly followed that course in addressing the NDP's push to fund women's shelters to ensure nobody in need of a safe place gets turned away.
Another did not. And it's no excuse to say that Ralph Goodale chose to respond to a specific idea by ignoring the subject at hand, and instead reverting to his party's most tired, off-topic talking points.
It's absolutely true that the goal of combating violence against women should be so obvious that no reasonable public representative could pretend it doesn't matter. That leaves plenty of room for response to any proposal - including general agreement in the context of the wider campaign, an offer of alternative solutions, or pointing out a valid reason why the proposal fails to meet the purpose.
But if Goodale or any other politician is so caught up in negativity as to pretend both a policy and the undisputed issue it addresses don't matter, surely the fault lies with him - not with the party pointing out his unreasonableness.
If anyone you know is not certain whether he or she is registered to vote, checking out one's status is easy by a visit to Elections Canada Online.
Meanwhile, the truly disenfranchised are getting some help in Halifax through something called the Identification Clinic. The Identification Clinic is a volunteer group that aims to put IDs in the hands of the homeless and the disadvantaged.One of the group's founders, Darren Greer, found his first clients by walking up to people on the street, and asking if they needed help. They replied with an immediate and enthusiastic yes.
"A lot of them have had ID before and have lost it," said Greer. "They are so often asked for it, and refused services because of it, that they understand probably better than a lot of us what these IDs mean."Not only will this project facilitate access to social services, but also to the voting booth, as the necessary identification will have been obtained.
Intro to interview: Zimbalist, who has studied the economics of stadiums and sports events for the past couple of decades, takes a clear-eyed look at the effects of much-hyped mega-events like the Olympics and the World Cup on the cities that host them. His book [Circus Maximus], subtitled The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup, shows in precise detail how these events have become such bad deals. The pull-quote: "Attempting to shoehorn a city plan into a scheme subordinated to the demands of the IOC is bound for economic failure."
An almost throw-away point from the video about billboards got me looking further and I found this amazing document: What the IOC demands.
From rather (by comparison) picayune requirements like "Olympic lanes" on streets and highways, guaranteed hotel rooms for Olympic poohbahs, and exemption from customs duties, to rather more stunning demands for the abrogation of democracy, the document reads like a royal edict from some medieval century.
The IOC demands that cities give up control over their civic calendar.
Provide a declaration from the relevant authorities confirming that no other important national or international meeting or event will be taking place in the Host City itself or in its vicinity or in the other competition sites, during the Olympic Winter Games, or for one week immediately before or after the Games.The IOC demands that the local organizing committee can sign contracts on behalf of the city. Provide a declaration from your city authorities confirming that the Bid Committee is empowered to represent the Candidate City and indicate the names of the persons and/or their titles who have the authority to sign contracts and other documents (such as the Undertaking and the Host City Contract), on behalf of the city.And the infamous "Guarantee," aka Blank Cheque, about (inevitable) cost overruns. Guarantee to cover any potential economic shortfall of the (Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games), including refunds to the IOC of advances in payment or other contributions made by the IOC to the OCOG, which the IOC may have to reimburse to third parties in the event of any contingency such as full or partial cancellation of the Olympic Games.And the commandeering of all advertising and vending control. Provide (a) written guarantee(s) from the relevant government authorities confirming that legislation will be passed as soon as possible but no later than 1 January 2020 as necessary to effectively reduce and sanction ambush marketing (e.g. preventing unauthorised third parties from associating directly and/or indirectly with the Games or the Olympic Movement for commercial and/or advertising purposes), and, during the period beginning two weeks before the Opening Ceremony to the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games and to eliminate street vending within the vicinity of Games venues, prevent un-authorised ticket resale, prevent un-authorised live sites or similar concepts, and control advertising space (e.g. billboards, advertising on public transport, etc.) as well as air space (to ensure no publicity is allowed in such airspace).Got that? Not only does the city give over all control and revenue from its own advertising sites, it must "secure binding options from third parties," i.e. owners of private advertising spaces, to acquire -- buy -- their spaces too.
For the Vancouver Winter Games, the city was so cowed by all this folderol that it issued an order to public libraries to eschew any taint of non-official brands.
IOC documents are rife with these indignities -- big and small.
In Norway: Norwegian citizens were particularly amused/outraged (amuseraged) by the IOC’s diva-like demands for luxury treatment during the hypothetical Games. Here’s a piece in the Norwegian media about the controversy, with translation provided by a generous Norwegian reader named Mats Silberg: • They demand to meet the king prior to the opening ceremony. Afterwards, there shall be a cocktail reception. • Drinks shall be paid for by the Royal Palace or the local organizing committee. • Separate lanes should be created on all roads where IOC members will travel, which are not to be used by regular people or public transportation. • A welcome greeting from the local Olympic boss and the hotel manager should be presented in IOC members’ rooms, along with fruit and cakes of the season. (Seasonal fruit in Oslo in February is a challenge…) • The hotel bar at their hotel should extend its hours “extra late” and the minibars must stock Coke products. ... • IOC members shall be greeted with a smile when arriving at their hotel. • Meeting rooms shall be kept at exactly 20 degrees Celsius at all times. • The hot food offered in the lounges at venues should be replaced at regular intervals, as IOC members might “risk” having to eat several meals at the same lounge during the Olympics. • “All furniture should be OL-shaped and have Olympic Appearance.“
Those are just a few of the demands listed in a 7,000-plus page document listing the IOC’s requirements for the Games. (I love the "Olympic furniture" and "seasonal cakes." WTF is a seasonal cake?)
To return to Andrew Zimbalist: the main take-away is that we will effectively lose all control, oversight, and citizen-centred planning of our own damned city over a three-week party for millionaire hucksters and elite professional-turned-temporarily-amateur athletes. NINE YEARS FROM NOW.
Certainly, Canada’s January to July recession does underline the fundamental flaws in Harper’s approach to the economy.
He assumed the Chinese-led resource boom would continue unabated and that the price of oil would never collapse.
He assumed that all government need do is cut taxes, encourage pipelines, sign free trade deals and do its best to keep wages down for business.
He assumed that if troubles arose, the invisible hand of the free market would sort everything out.
Harper claimed that it was his firm grip on the tiller that steered Canada through heavy waters. In fact it was the price of oil. Harper's policy has been repeated throughout Canadian history. Historian Harold Innis called it the "resource trap."
Unfortunately, Walkom writes, so far neither Tom Mulcair or Justin Trudeau have said much about what they would do differently. Now is the time to think outside the box we've been in for the last twenty years.
- Jim Stanford, Iglika Ivanova and David MacDonald each highlight how there's far more to be concerned about in Canada's economy beyond the GDP dip alone. Both Thomas Walkom and the Star's editorial board write that it's clear the Cons have nothing to offer when it comes to trying to improve on our current stagnation, while Balbulican notes that the Cons' economic message amounts to little more than denial. And David Climenhaga calls out the laughable attempt by Alberta's right wing to shield Stephen Harper from blame for a decade of failed federal economic policy while declaring the NDP to bear full and sole responsibility for a province it's only governed since May.
- Gillian Steward explains why B.C.'s First Nations are wary of the Northern Gateway pipeline.
- Michele Biss argues that we can best combat poverty with a rights-based approach. And Mark Lemstra, Marla Rogers, and John Moraros study the connection between low incomes and heart disease.
- Kady O'Malley takes an interesting look at the types of basic information requests which have been met with no response whatsoever from the federal government. And Elizabeth Thompson exposes the Cons' proclamation of dozens of secret Orders in Council which serve no purpose but to prevent anybody from holding the government to account.
- Finally, Marc Spooner laments the commoditization of post-secondary education as audit culture replaces any interest in new or creative forms of education and research.
Well at least now we know why Stephen Harper was twisting himself into knot, or looking like he was auditioning for the Hunchback of Notre Dame, by refusing to even mention the dreaded 'R' word. So now that it's official, Canada is in a recession. He could continue to deny reality. Read more »
We still have to wait and see whether the Crown will lay charges against Pamela Wallin now that the RCMP has wrapped up its investigation. But already Stephen Harper is being asked questions about that other Senate scandal. And already, and as usual, he is changing his story. Read more »
We're working on a few projects that are currently occupying our collective attention, but we thought we would provide an update on our previous post. To recap, Levant's "Rebel Media" ran a book review of Connie Fournier's book excoriating the Harper Conservatives. However, the review was pulled after Richard Warman complained of defamatory material that appeared in the review. In the end, no one is defamed, no one is sued, and all are happy. Right? Well.... not so much.Read more »
In 2002 Maher Arar was introduced to torture by a Syrian colonel. He was tuned up pretty good.
Arar thought he was coming home to Toronto. The RCMP and the CIA thought otherwise. The RCMP volunteered some spurious information to the CIA. The Americans figured Arar could use a bout of "special rendition" and delivered him into the hands of the Syrians in order for him to be tortured. That Syrian guy? He was the CIA's instrument for torturing Arar.
Eventually we got Arar back, paid him a bunch of money, and just hoped the whole thing would go away.
I know he means well and he's trying to remove a hurdle that too often separates Catholic women from their church. And so Pope Francis has decreed that the priesthood should pardon women who have had an abortion but repent the deed.
You don't have to excommunicate them. You don't have to deny them communion or the other church rites. You just have to shame them a bit, get them to repent their sins - "go forth and sin no more" will do it.
I get it, he's the Pope, the Holy Father of the Roman Catholic Church. He can't just do whatever the hell he wants and this is probably about as good a compromise as he can manage. Still I'm not convinced that this business about requiring women to seek pardon before reinstatement cuts it.
Oh well, fortunately I'm not a woman and I'm not a Catholic. Pardon me. Just kidding.
Harper's scum. I'll grant that. However, so is Mulcair. He's stabbed more old-guard Dippers in the back than Harper's ever managed to do in from the political battlefront. Do I wish and hope for Harper to lose this election? Yes. But I don't trust either the NDP or the Liberals to do right for Canadians, either. Both leadership groups have thrown their lot in with neo-liberal ideology. Ostensibly free trade, although who it's free for is a roulette wheel guess. Further development of the tar sands. Half-measures somehow designed to magically halt Canada's further slide into recession. Neo-liberalism is a failed ideology. It destroys nations. Even massive states like Russia can be brought down low by it. Even rich ones like Japan are forced into decades long recession. And in this election, we have a choice between two neo-liberal parties, and one neo-conservative party. Not much of a choice, is there? Harper offers nothing. He's a spiteful, hateful man. Who wields power not for anyone's benefit, but instead for entire groups' detriment. It's how he's been getting elected. Playing toward the lowest common denominator on the right wing. Trudeau offers the same old song and dance, but nicer. And Mulcair. He offers little. The old NDP policies are done for. They're vanished. Listen. Historically, the NDP used to offer real life changing, earth shaking policy. Policies Canada had to adopt, such as old age pensions, and universal healthcare. What does today's NDP offer that's of that magnitude? Today's NDP's first act would be... tax cuts. Ooh, how inspiring. Considering how working Canadians are in danger of falling from one tax bracket down to the next level, I sincerely don't think most people give a good god damn whether they're paying more or less in taxes, right now. What people want is job security. The old NDP would've promised hell or high water that they had working Canadians' backs. EI would've been the first damn policy revealed. Old funding levels not simply restored, but strengthened to levels not witnessed in decades. Hell, the old NDP used to bandy about the idea of a basic income. And the old NDP wouldn't have allowed businesses to simply go out of business as a cost cutting measure, either. The NDP's childcare policy is pretty decent. Actually, it's probably their best policy. And it's exactly the sort of policy the Liberals and the Conservatives used to adopt from the NDP. Not today's parties, mind, but the old ones did. The NDP's policy on the environment, though, is half-hearted. We honestly don't know how we can best proceed in the coming years, much less the next few decades. We have little clue what's going to happen. But what we do know is, the NDP is simply not promising enough. Invest in green technology? Of course. That's the least we should be doing. What's worse, is out of the three main parties, this is the best policy. How sad. As for local governments, pensions, and healthcare, it's all plain vanilla. Restore programs to levels prior to Harper's government. Yawn. Where's the vision? What's the plan, really? Do as we've been doing, but with more focus on the middle class? What? Seriously? Is that what today's NDP is about? You know, honestly, perhaps my expectations for the NDP are unreasonable. I want for a grand vision. Something I can support. Nothing about the NDP, today, is worth supporting, though. They have one policy I sincerely agree with, but with a caveat: were there more job security, and more jobs available, I should think child care could eventually iron itself out. A helping hand should never be sniffed at, of course, but it's hardly a great plan that'll fundamentally improve Canada in the long term. At this point, in the NDP, I can't advocate voting NDP. I can only state, vote for whoever's best in your district. However, I do advocate opposing Mulcair and his people. They simply can't be allowed to destroy everything the NDP once stood for. Hang around. Make life difficult for them. Make them work for every damn inch they wish to take. Take back what's important.
Many, many times I've described the leaders of our three mainstream parties as grey suits stuffed with wet cardboard. Nothing that has happened in the course of this election has left me any less convinced than I ever was.
Oh sure, this guy is going to put money into healthcare and this guy is going to put money somewhere else and this other fellow has a really neat initiative he'd like to explain to you. Somebody had better fetch me a triple shot espresso because I'm fading out. If I don't stay conscious I might drown in the bullshit and it's rising fast.
You know what I'd like to hear? I'd like to hear someone talk about restoring the historical balance between labour and capital. I'd be happy to hear one of these jokers talk about the "precariat", a contagion that's spreading up from the south. All it takes is a shove these days and the little people fall straight through the cracks. How about a quick little chat about what can be done to make Canadian cities liveable, affordable for our young people. That would be nice. I'll bet we'd all like to hear that.
Let's talk about the environment. No, not carbon taxes. Sure they're necessary but that's a band-aid response and nothing more. How is our already aging and decaying infrastructure going to cope with the climate stresses of the next twenty, thirty years? It's going to take decades to deal with this so it's not really something we can just kick down the road any more. Where are we most vulnerable. You don't know? Why the fuck not? What do we need to do or start doing now so that the Canada our grandkids inherit is no worse than it absolutely has to be? Or are you content to leave them to their fate lest that impede your personal political ambitions?
How about a discussion of inequality. Why don't we talk about where that comes from, how it's anchored in our economy? Let's talk about how little of it is merit or market based and how much of it is legislated. Let's talk about how wealth is created from tax exemptions and deferrals, from tax avoidance and tax evasion, from all manner of grants and subsidies and the generous provision of what belongs to every Canadian, our natural capital, either for free or for far below anything that could be called fair market value. Let's talk about how that forms the foundation for what is really a "trickle up" economy where wealth is sucked out of the nation, processed through the engine of corporatism and finally served up on a platter as investment income for the rentier class. Let's talk about how that is a massive, unearned, redistribution of wealth that couldn't flow so smoothly without the assistance of the same people now asking for our votes.
But I guess we can't talk about those things because the plebs are too fucking dim to understand them and it would only get them upset. Besides, if we don't talk about them now there's a damned good chance we won't have to talk about them later. As for all those grandkids, they're not voting anyway - are they?