Posts from our progressive community

New Frontiers In Journalism

Dawg's Blawg - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 10:09
Sept, 1 2016 - Comedian and oil company lobbyist Ezra Levant today unveiled his latest media coup at a downtown intersection in Chapleau, Ontario. While the sudden shift from failed online video and podcast-recyling website to a Magic Marker and... Balbulican

It's the Day of Reckoning for Ted Cruz. Stephen Colbert Explains.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 09:07
Republican weirdo presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, a.k.a. "Lucifer in the flesh," is facing his Waterloo - or he would be if Indiana had a town named Waterloo. Dammit, I just checked, it does. Waterloo, Indiana, population 2,242 or 666 of something like that.

Okay, back on track (and, yes, Waterloo boasts that Amtrak stops there several times every day). No, not that sort of track. Ted Cruz track. It seems that Indiana may be the end of the line (sorry) for Ted's presidential aspirations. He appears poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory virtually yielding the Republican nomination to Donald "Juice" Trump.

Last night Stephen Colbert explained that, "To know Cruz is to wish you didn't."

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 07:32
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tom Parkin writes about the growing divide between the lucky few who are siphoning wealth out of Canada, and the mass of people facing a precarious economic future.

- PressProgress highlights much the same distinction by examining the types of workers who make less in a year than Christy Clark's donor-funded car allowance. Andrew MacLeod reports on the connection between the B.C. Libs' donations and real estate developers. And Derrick O'Keefe points out that Clark (and her corporate-funded peers) are counting on the public not paying attention to who's pulling the strings.

- Roderick Benns talks to Daniel Blaikie about the prospect of a basic income. And Murray Mandryk takes a look a Saskatchewan's budget which shows relatively large amounts of money toward education, social services and policing producing lamentable results.

- Mike De Souza exposes Enbridge's direct role in dictating what the National Energy Board reported about its pipeline safety failings. 

- Finally, Alex Boutilier reports on the Communications Security Establishment's attempts to avoid providing an honest account of its breaches of privacy. And Jim Bronskill and Dean Beeby offer some useful suggestions to modernize Canada's access to information laws.

C225: Dead as a Doornail

Dammit Janet - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 05:56
Yesterday, private member's bill C225, or the Exploiting Grief to Attack Abortion Rights bill, got its first hour of debate in Parliament.

I live-tweeted it, sort of.

After sponsor Cathay Wagantall blathered on about how carefully her bill was written to ensure it had zero zip nada effect on abortion -- choking up theatrically in the process -- Bill (The Liar) Blair, former top cop in Toronto and now MP and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, spoke.

Bill Blair using "fetus." Oh lord, I loathe Blair, but he might be speaking against #c225. #conflicted

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) May 2, 2016

Blair pointed out that judges have, and have used, discretion in applying Canada's sensible notion of "aggravating factors" in sentencing people who assault or kill pregnant people. In other words, this bill is not necessary.

Blair: focus on domestic violence. (I'm hating this. Why couldn't some other Lib be saying this stuff.) #c225

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) May 2, 2016

After Blair, Murray Rankin (NDP), David Graham (LPC), and Sheila Malcolmson (NDP) stated their opposition to the bill. All pointed to the need for more focus on domestic violence.

Fetus freaks and CPC MPs, Michael Cooper and Garnett Genius (love the name) spoke in favour, mainly whingeing about "justice," which we know means "vengeance" in these people's mouths.

So, with the Liberals and NDP opposed, there is no chance C225 will pass.


On Twitter, I tried to engage supporters (who were using the hashtag #MollyMatters) to answer my question: How exactly does adding a charge for harming or killing a fetus "protect" anyone?

More blathering about justice, but the nearest I got to a coherent answer was "deterrence."

Problem with that is deterrence doesn't work to prevent crime.

Underlying #C225 is the nonsensical notion that person contemplating violence says to self: "Whoa, extra charge for pregnancy! Better not!"

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) May 2, 2016

There will be more debate and a vote, but C225 is dead as a doornail.

Previous posts on C225:

Exploiting Grief to Attack Abortion Rights

Vengeance--and More--Drives "Unborn Victims" Law

It's Baaaack

Nope, This "Preborn Victims" Law Won't Pass Either.

Owning A Cottage Is Not Enough

Northern Reflections - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 05:32

In the wake of the Duffy affair, Errol Mendes writes, the Senate has begun reforming itself:

The Senate to which Mr. Duffy returns is, in a multitude of ways, much different from the chamber from which he was suspended. The Senate leadership, in particular those on the powerful internal economy committee, has greatly tightened expenditure and travel rules. In the wake of the damning Auditor-General’s report, the Senate leadership, along with most senators, will also endorse a forthcoming independent oversight mechanism that they promise will be far more rigorous than anything seen in the House of Commons in terms of financial transparency and accountability.
The Duffy Affair  began with Stephen Harper's claim that Mr. Duffy was a resident of Prince Edward Island -- a claim that Duffy himself had a hard time swallowing. And, when Harper referred his plans for reform to the Supreme Court, the Court informed him that reform would have to be done with the consent of the provinces -- because the Senate had to reflect the regions of the country.

So, as the Senate gets back to work, one of the first items on its agenda should be clarifying what residency means:

For this reason, the very loose rules of primary residence undermines the architecture of the modernized Senate. So, too, do the so-called strengthened rules that say senators only have to show that their driver’s licence and health card comes from their province of appointment, and that their taxes are filed in the same province.
To improve the Senate’s credibility, and build Canadians’ trust in the revamped chamber, every senator must prove that the actual length of time they spend in their province reflects how they can be legitimately representing the interests of their constituents. Their physical assets, including property, should reflect and reinforce that representation.
Owning a cottage in a province should not be enough to make you a senator.


awful library books and why we remove them from our shelves

we move to canada - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 04:00
A while back, I blogged about weeding, every library's not-so-dirty little not-so-secret. Daniel Gross, writing in The New Yorker, looks at weeding, too - from a library-users' revolt in Berkeley, California to the hilarious Awful Library Books blog: Weeding the Worst Library Books. It's a sweet story about a necessary evil that is really a very positive - although painful - practice.

What I want to know is how did the Berkeley public know about the weeding? Why was it even announced? I can guarantee the Mississauga public doesn't know about ours.

In any case, it's a really nice piece: Weeding the Worst Library Books by Daniel Gross.

Con Apocalypse: The Con's Rabid Base is Shrinking

Montreal Simon - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 03:36

Pity poor Rona Ambrose, it's all going so horribly wrong.

The Con leadership race has only attracted two mediocre candidates so far. And so desperate is the situation that some Con MPs are trying to get Ambrose to throw her cap or her turkey crown into the ring. 

A Draft Rona Ambrose movement has been launched by a group of Conservative MPs who are attempting to amend the party’s constitution to allow the interim leader to seek the permanent leadership.

And while Ambrose still claims she's not interested, the ghastly Con clown Tony Clement isn't taking any chances.
Read more »

Back in Business !! Just in Time For Summer Boating Season

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 19:46

Vancouver's Kitsilano Coast Guard Station is back in business as of today. The facility that provides ready response rescue for the area's boating crowd and freighters was shuttered by Stephen Harper, ostensibly to cut costs. Few bought that tall tale especially when it came in conjunction with Harper's lay offs designed to blind Fisheries and Oceans monitors responsible for safeguarding our marine habitat.

I may not have many good things to say about the Trudeau government lately but kudos are in order for this. Thank you, Mr. Trudeau.

Why the RCMP Commissioner Still Doesn't Get It

Montreal Simon - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 17:04

It seems only appropriate that on the very day Mike Duffy returned to the Senate, the RCMP Commissioner should appear before a Senate committee and show once again why he still doesn't get it.

And that a time when the RCMP is being rocked by allegations of incompetence and sexual harassment.

He should defend the force.
Read more »

National Observer - How Enbridge Manipulated the National Energy Board

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 13:01
The power of alternative media.

Vancouver's own, National Observer, has unearthed evidence suggesting shocking collusion between an energy giant and the industry-friendly federal regulator, the National Energy Board.

Under scrutiny is a NEB audit report released last July.

Both the company and its watchdog delivered positive messages about the published audit, explaining it showed how much Enbridge was improving.

But two things were happening behind the scenes before the public ever got wind of the report. Enbridge initially responded to the draft report by denying there were major problems. Secondly, the final report is different from the draft version that was privately shared with Enbridge in February 2015. The NEB, which is also based in Calgary, changed the conclusions in response to 28 pages of recommendations from Enbridge.

...While both the NEB and Enbridge maintained there were no immediate threats to public safety, two engineering experts told National Observer that they disagreed.

These critics said that the public should be alarmed about how the final report was edited, because the changes show that the regulator doesn’t know how to prevent disastrous spills from happening or how to respond when a catastrophe strikes.

“They don't even understand their limitations and the NEB has no idea what the issues are,” said Don Deaver, a former Exxon pipeline engineer from Texas, who now works as a private consultant after a career that lasted decades.

...The draft version of another section of the audit, describing how Enbridge protects natural ecosystems, included references to two secret environmental reports. But Enbridge said it didn't want the public to know about those reports and managed to convince the NEB to keep them hidden.

“These reports are confidential, internal Enbridge documents,” the company wrote in its 28-page response to the draft audit report, attached to a letter signed by its president of liquid pipelines, Guy Jarvis, on March 6, 2015. “As such, Enbridge requests that the reference to them be removed from the report, or referred to in a more generic fashion.”

Deaver said these disappearing paragraphs show that the NEB was hiding some inconvenient truth about the pipeline industry: Enbridge is struggling to figure out how to stop leaks on aging pipelines, and officials still don't know the best way to completely clean up after a catastrophic spill, such as what happended in Marshall.

“They (the industry and the watchdog) are using the wrong methods to analyze the growth of these cracking areas that they find along the pipe,” said Deaver.

Deaver added that if the two secret environmental reports refer to the aftermath of spills, they would expose one of the “dirtiest, darkest secrets of the pipeline industry" regarding the challenges of cleaning up after a major leak.

“Whenever there’s a lawsuit on a spill or something like that, the agencies allow the companies to hold back the reports until there’s a settlement,” Deaver said. “It could be embarrassing to the regulatory people (to reveal what’s in these company reports) because it could show that they (regulators) failed to take action.”

The NEB refused a request - through federal access to information legislation - to release copies of the environmental reports that it reviewed in the audit, explaining that it had only reviewed them at Enbridge offices and left them behind, without making any copies.

This is the second time in recent months that the NEB has done something like this: In December, it declined to release an internal corporate investigation report into a damaged pipeline buried by TransCanada Corp - Canada’s second largest pipeline company - because the NEB said its staff left that report behind at the company office in the middle of a separate investigation into serious safety allegations that were raised by a whistleblower.

It's not clear why the NEB would leave documents behind since it has full powers of inquiry and full powers of a federal court to investigate pipeline safety matters. These powers allow the NEB, under Canadian law, to take any evidence it needs to complete its investigations.

But the regulator, governed by a board that currently has 13 members - 12 of whom were appointed by the Conservative government of former prime minister Stephen Harper - wasn’t willing to provide a detailed explanation about any of the unusual decisions made in its recent investigations.

...After reviewing what was changed in the audit report, Evan Vokes, a former pipeline engineer who worked for TransCanada, said he was skeptical about the claims made by both the industry and its regulator. He believes pipelines would be safer if the regulators did a better job enforcing the rules.

“I think they’re trying to hide a safety risk,” Vokes said in an interview. “They continue to promise better and better performance on corrosion-related failures and they never manage to stop corrosion-related failures.”

U.S. officials blamed Enbridge for having a “culture of deviance” that contributed to the Michigan spill, which traveled about 50 km downstream on the river that leads to Lake Michigan. But the company and its regulators said that they were taking steps after the 2010 spill to prevent future disasters. Industry and federal officials had made similar statements after the Saskatchewan spill of 2007.

Yet another example of the audacious hypocrisy of the Trudeau Liberals. They freely slammed the National Energy Board while they were in opposition. Since coming to power they find the industry-dominated regulator just fine.

Elizabeth May Points Out the Obvious

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 12:41

Despite his "sunny ways," Justin Trudeau keeps showing that he's less than meets the eye. Elizabeth May, writing in the Island Tides paper, explains:

Canada is very popular at the UN these days. I think winning a seat on the Security Council in the next vote is looking like a sure thing. Trudeau’s speech was interrupted by applause more often than any other speaker in the General Assembly. His willingness to embrace basic principles of climate justice resonated as he explained Canada was committed to assisting developing countries ‘since they should not be punished for a problem they did not create’. 

On the other hand, our target remains the one tabled last year by the previous government— 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Yet, there has been a weak environmental movement response to this sad reality. I get it. After 10 years of Harper, the movement is grateful to have a new Liberal government that is in favour of climate action. 
For months, mainstream media has been falsely reporting that Trudeau adopted that target in Paris. Internally, the bureaucracy is pressing the environment minister so hard that even the Harper target will be hard to reach
The worrying line in Trudeau’s speech was that Canada ‘will meet or exceed our target’. That sounds really good, but it is the first time the Prime Minister has associated himself at all with the Harper target. To keep our commitment to avoiding 1.5ºC we need to make our target reflect doing our fair share in the world. And that one isn’t it. It cannot be ‘meet or exceed’. To keep our promises in Paris, it can only be ‘exceed’—and by a lot. 
May goes on to note that we cannot hope to meet even Harper's targets if we permit the planned expansion of the Tar Sands production or launch a new effort to export LNG.

Why Now, Perhaps More Than Ever, We Need a National Vision

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 11:13

He came to us with a vision of what he called a "just society." We listened and we liked what we heard and we supported him as he enacted the laws focused on taking our Canada, leading us, to a new and better place. We saw, first hand, the power of vision.

Over the last decade we saw the legacy of that earlier vision as we were ruled - not led, not governed but ruled - by an authoritarian who utterly eschewed vision, perhaps knowing that whatever he might offer up as vision would be roundly rejected. His entire approach to governance - incrementalism - was the classic modus operandi of poachers and sneak thieves. We were ruled by a man who had no vision but boundless ambition to remake us and our country in his image. He attempted to do this and might have succeeded but for the legacy of that earlier vision manifested in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that restrained him and held his impulsive instincts at bay.

Pundits have observed that Stephen Harper left no lasting legacy and that's why. He was a visionless ruler, a technocrat who wielded the levers of power to no particular end, no goal beyond the exploitation of corrupted hydrocarbon energy.

There are still some who consider that earlier leader, Pierre Trudeau, autocratic and there may be an argument to be made. The important thing, however, is that Pierre Trudeau did not exercise his control to the advancement of neoliberalism. To the contrary, his governance was focused on the advancement of Canadian democracy, liberal democracy. He curbed the rights of the state against the individual and elevated the rights of the individual over the state. He enshrined rights and freedoms within constitutional instruments. What a fascinating man. What a time to be a Canadian, empowered. Heady stuff that.

Brian Mulroney put Canada on a somewhat different course. Like Reagan, he was well to the left of what passes for conservatism today. Still he ushered in the era of globalization, the economic engine of neoliberalism. It began with the FTA, the free trade pact with the US, that was quickly followed when NAFTA added Mexico to the deal.

Mulroney bought the theory that was in a matter of years disproved, discredited. He believed what he preached - that free trade would benefit the country and all Canadians. There would be more economic activity, more jobs, better pay. He failed to foresee that free market capitalism would turn predatory as corporatist forces, their restraints broken and their powers elevated almost to quasi-nation state levels, exploited their gifted freedom and powers. Industries were gutted, jobs were outsourced, wages stagnated or declined.

You might have thought our leaders would have cried, "Whoa, wait a second, this isn't working. We've got to scrap this and go back to square one." But they didn't. Instead they inked one free trade agreement after another, in each instance yielding just a little more state sovereignty to a corporatist rival that was largely unaccountable, amorphous.

Why did it keep going? Why is it with us today and growing rapidly? Because that's what a malignancy does. It keeps growing until the host dies. It's both predatory and parasitic. As it continues it gives back ever less and much of what is given is tainted. It began as a corporate, commercial interest that metastasized into neoliberalism, a political power. Neoliberalism is the muscle of corporatism. It doesn't seek to destroy the state but to wrest effective control of the state and it works through people like our last prime minister.

A detailed and extensive exploration of this phenomenon can be found in Galbraith's, The Predator State. At one point he examines the stampede of neoliberalism during the Bush/Cheney regime when every important regulatory body was taken over by industry shills. Industry, commerce, capital became self-regulating, almost sovereign, giving rise to a genuine predator state. As for Canada, take a look at the makeup of the industry-friendly National Energy Board. Is it any wonder that the public interest gets such short shrift?

Harper is gone, praise Odin, but his NEB appointments still rule the roost. Harper is gone but Justin Trudeau has retained Harper's board. That seems incomprehensible. Is it, really? What is that telling us?

After three decades under the yoke of neoliberalism, what is Justin Trudeau's vision of Canada? What does he seek to make it other than, perhaps, a bit more pleasant, a bit less in your face?

The fact is that I haven't heard any stirring vision come out of this Trudeau, nothing that even remotely resembles our experience during his father's tenure. That wouldn't be enough to declare him a neoliberal but he is. The sorry fact is that every party in Parliament, including Tom "balanced budgets" Mulcair's NDP, is neoliberal. Oh I realize Tom, at least Latter Day Tom, comes across as a bit more progressive than Justin but it's a distinction of very limited difference.

There is no vision on offer from any of Canada's mainstream political parties. Electoral reform is, at best, a tweak - not a vision. Those who claim otherwise need to lift their eyes, look out to the horizon. We haven't done that sort of thing for decades, far too long and our country is the worse for it.

How do we escape the clutches of neoliberalism? How are we to rehabilitate liberal democracy? Who has that so desperately overdue vision?

In case you're wondering, not me. There are, however, things I believe we must do and things I am convinced we must absolutely stop doing. In no particular order, here are a few.

Let's take a look at Teddy Roosevelt's "Square Deal" speech of 1910 in which he laid out the foundational principles of a progressive order. There is so much in there, truly timeless wisdom, that I urge you to read it in its entirety. It speaks to the essential paramountcy of labour over capital. It calls for government in service to the populace, not powerful narrow interests. It champions conservation of national resources, control of corporations and consumer protection of every variety. Read it, absorb it and you'll have a pretty good start.

Let's recognize, in every aspect of policy making and planning at every level of government, the unprecedented perils and uncertainties that confront every nation and will overwhelm a good many in the course of this century. We cannot know what our nation and our world will look like more than a decade, two at the outside, from now. Why then are we entertaining thirty year, "locked in" trade deals? Where do we think Canada will be over that term? What about the partner nations we will be relying on? What if they can't fulfill their obligations to us? What if we default on our obligations to them? Will force majeure become the lingua franca of free market capitalism? What then?

It is this very uncertainty, unpredictability that so strongly argues for the restoration of the paramountcy of the public interest in every aspect of our governance. That will hinge on the recovery of our national sovereignty. We cannot have fetters, especially not decadal shackles, on our sovereignty. That denies us the ability to freely respond to the needs of our people when difficulties arise. There are contingencies in which we may need to be able to jettison trade baggage as our partners may well do to us for the same compelling reasons.

What use is there for a vision unless it can be conveyed to the people it needs to reach? To achieve that level of communication you must have an informed public, not a public manipulated by spin and guile. Re-establishing those lines of communication begins with the restoration of a vibrant, robust and free press in Canada. That necessitates breaking up today's corporate media cartel. This corporate media, exemplified by the PostMedia chain, doesn't disseminate information. It peddles messaging, information so heavily sculpted by omission and interpretation for the purpose of manipulating the reader.

It doesn't make much difference which system of voting is in place if the corporate interest is able to confound the voter and steer that vote.  A voter who is misled, confused, angry and/or fearful defeats the whole notion of an informed electorate freely consenting to how they will be governed. A corporate media cartel is a powerful instrument of neoliberalism. Curious that none of our parties, not even the NDP, is calling for that cartel to be taken down.

We need to rebuild, re-empower our society. We have held on, at times by our fingernails, thanks to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but that's not nearly enough. Look at Canadian society today. Look at how divided we have become. We're corralled into camps that view each other with suspicion, fear, anger sometimes bordering on paranoia. There is no vision to unite us, to afford us the common ground we have found, despite our differences, in times past. We can live with our differences and still enjoy the benefits of social cohesion and common purpose.

This failure of social cohesion weakens all of us in every camp. It distracts us, it saps our resolve, it turns us into easy pickings for the forces of neoliberalism. It facilitates the transfer of economic and political clout into the hands of the elite which partly explains why every major party today is neoliberal.

Societal rehabilitation is called for and this can begin by tackling inequality in all of its forms - inequality of wealth, inequality of income, inequality of opportunity, inequality of access and influence - the list goes on. We cannot restore conditions as they were from the 50s through the 70s, at least not without surviving another major war, but there is much we can do to re-upholster our society, so that everybody gets a nice seat at the table.

We must commit to government's role in balancing the ever conflicting interests of labour versus capital. That is part and parcel of any viable progressive democracy. A thoughtful exploration of how to restore organized labour in Canada opens most if not every can of worms. It's messy, daunting but that is no excuse for continuing to ignore it.

One final idea that I would suggest is to revisit the issue of posterity, long ostracized from both policy making and planning. We must be willing to make sacrifices essential to the well being of future generations of Canadians.

Pierre Trudeau's vision looked to the future. It fully addressed posterity. We've already seen, first hand, what a wonderful thing the power of posterity can be when you most desperately need it.

Change, it seems, is never universally welcomed except in the wake of catastrophe. Neoliberalism has us on the path to catastrophe. It's inevitable. Our choice is to remain divided, confused, distracted and powerless and await our fate or to find that vision that all of us truly want and turn that vision into reality.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 07:58
Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Ben Schiller talks to Joseph Stiglitz about the link between technology and inequality - and particularly the lack of current incentives to work on improving standards of living rather than capturing windfalls. And Don Pittis suggests that we should focus on building up new ideas, rather than constantly caving to the demands of corporate behemoths.

- Chris Buckley points out how Ontario's labour laws are falling far short of meeting the needs of vulnerable workers.

- Meanwhile, Charlotte Helston responds to the spin that it's somehow easy for a homeless person to "just get a job". And Andrea Hill reports on the human cost of homelessness in La Ronge - with a community of 3,000 people seeing multiple deaths every year due to a lack of support services.

- Derek Leahy discusses Marc Jaccard's view that regulation, not pricing, is the most important element of an effective plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the oil industry is doing everything in its power to avoid a meaningful discussion of its role in overheating our planet - including threatening Canadian universities, and flooding the airwaves with advertising which far exceeds climate change coverage.

- Finally, Robert Shiller discusses the importance of public attitudes and stories in shaping economic outcomes. But it's worth noting that Shiller's point should lead us to seek to avoid veering off toward either irrational exuberance or excessive pessimism - not to try to operate in denial of the real weaknesses which have led to previous recessions.

Morally Weak, Intellectually Contemptuous

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 05:16
That's how I regard the justifications for continuing with the Saudi arms deal offered by Stephane Dion and his puppet master, Justin Trudeau. I see I am not alone in that assessment:
Re: Approval of Saudi arms deal was illegal, lawyer argues, April 22

According to the Prime Minister, the Saudi arms deal must go forward, notwithstanding profound universal concern about the Saudi government’s cavalier attitude toward human rights.

According to Justin Trudeau, “We will continue to respect contracts signed because people around the world need to know that when Canada signs a deal it is respected.” That statement is odd and troubling on many different levels.

Does Mr. Trudeau believe himself to be Canada’s CEO or its head of government? Are we employees of Mr. Trudeau or are we citizen of this country? Is Mr. Trudeau our boss or our servant? Does Canada, as a political entity, sign commercial deals, or is it rather commercial enterprises within Canada that sign deals, and it is the government’s job to regulate those deals? Most importantly, perhaps: Is Canada a large commercial enterprise or a nation that calls itself a democracy?

A likely explanation of Mr. Trudeau’s statement is that he has a habit of improvising rationales that are at odds with rationality, such as his perplexing statements to the effect that Canada will use fossil fuel production to combat fossil-fuel-induced climate change.

Stephane Dion has turned into a quick study in the art of sophistical rhetoric and improvised rationales. On the subject of the Saudi arms sales, he says he had “reviewed the issue with ‘the utmost rigour’ and will continue to do so over the life of the 14-year deal.” It seems I have been under a false impression that his government had been elected for a four-year term.

Earlier, he had cleverly stated that the sale was justified because the Saudi government has promised not to use the armoured vehicles to suppress domestic dissent. Even if we were to believe the Saudi claim, what about the serious concern about the Saudi ruling family’s hobby of invading neighbouring countries and massacring their civilian populations? Do we need that blood on our hands?

Al Eslami, North York

Jobs worth killing for? Online video April 24

Full marks to Scott Vrooman for, like many other Canadians, pointing out the rank hypocrisy of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government. Could there be a more blatant example of this than the Saudi Arms deal?

While our Prime Minister will happily show up at any photo op for a Pride Parade or similar event (as he should), he quite clearly has no problem selling arms to a regime that executes people for the crime of being gay. If he can’t see the hypocrisy of that, he’s a fool.

This government’s supposed fresh new approach (transparency and honesty and optimism) is looking more and more like a variation of the half truths and manipulated facts that contribute to many people’s default setting with politics and politicians: distrust and cynicism.

Paul Romanuk, Toronto

Recommend this Post

The Flying Edsel

Northern Reflections - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 04:57

Lately, Michael Harris has turned his sights on military equipment -- its sale and purchase. When it comes to those Saudi armored vehicles, he says, there's a skunk in the woodpile. And a familiar stench is beginning to arise -- again -- over the F-35. Over at the Ministry of Defense,  the word is that the purchase of the F-35 is still under consideration -- despite Justin Trudeau's promise that it was dead. Harris writes:

This is an issue in which Justin Trudeau either earns his wings as a new type of politician, or he ditches in the same sea of double-talk that swallowed up his predecessors. Either his government is running the show, or bureaucrats over at Industry Canada are – the ones who are still dazzled by the lure of industrial benefits for the Canadian aerospace industry if Canada only sticks with the F-35.
The Harper government pumped out plenty of fog about the F-35. And the United States Air Force continues to cloud the skies. But the news on the F-35 -- and how it performs -- keeps getting worse:

Despite all the public relations that tax dollars can buy, the Pentagon doesn’t even know if the $100-million planes are fit for combat. In the United States, the F-35 program was supposed to deliver 1,013 aircraft by fiscal 2016; it has delivered 179. Since the project began in 2003, the cost of the aircraft has doubled. According to the Government Budget Office in Washington, it costs $30,000 an hour to fly. The last F-35 is now scheduled to be delivered in 2040 — fifth generation jets produced at horse and buggy speeds.

 Five of six F-35s were recently unable to take off from Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. After 15 years of “development” and billions of dollars of investment, the planes could not boot up their proprietary software to get airborne — a story first reported in Flight Global and picked up by the Daily Mail.

Consider the opinion of that well-known peacenik John McCain about the F-35 program. If anyone should have been an advocate for this futuristic weapon it should have been McCain. Instead, America’s most famous pilot-cum-POW and the Republican senator from Arizona, excoriated the F-35 last week at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said he could not “fathom” how the delivery schedule of the F-35 made any strategic sense. He added that the history of the F-35, “has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance.”
Mr. Trudeau still needs to prove he's in charge -- not the oil barons, and not the military-industrial complex. Grounding the Flying Edsel would be a step in the right direction.


what i'm reading: every exquisite thing by matthew quick

we move to canada - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 04:00
I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance reading copy of Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick. Quick - a/k/a Q - is the author of The Silver Linings Playbook, which I have not read, but now will.

Every Exquisite Thing combines a few stock elements of youth fiction into something heartfelt, authentic, and compelling. I caught a little bit of Eleanor & Park and a little bit of The Fault in Our Stars poking through, but none of that stopped me from enjoying the book.

Nanette O'Hare is a high-achieving student athlete whose future is all laid out for her to follow. An iconoclastic teacher gives Nanette a copy of a cult novel - echoes of The Catcher in the Rye are obvious - and suddenly she views her privileged life in a new way. The teacher goes even farther, setting up Nanette with another young person to whom he's given the same book, this one a misfit poet with some dangerous tendencies.

Nanette needs to rebel, and she's fallen in love with a rebel. But what form that rebellion will take, and how far it will go, is something they both need to find.

Nanette sets out both to lose herself and find herself in some surprising ways. A few parts of Nanette's journey won't translate well into a review (plus I'm avoiding spoilers) but they work beautifully in context. The best part of Every Exquisite Thing is the bold character of Nanette herself, full of self-doubt and self-discovery, figuring out how to use the strength she knows is inside her.

Tony Clement and the Blinding of Canada

Montreal Simon - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 03:26

It's been five long years since the Cons gutted the census, and left us stumbling in the darkness, unable to determine who we really are, or what kind of country we're really living in.

But now the long-form census is back. 

And while I'm happy to see it back, it still bothers me to see that Tony Clement, the Con who presided over the blinding of this country, has still not been held properly accountable.
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One More Reason I'm Going to Miss Barack Obama

Montreal Simon - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 17:37

I realize that many progressives don't like Barack Obama, and like to claim he was worse than George Bush or Richard Nixon.

Like some progressives in this country like to claim that Justin Trudeau is worse than Stephen Harper.

But although he was not perfect, I have always admired the first black President. I believe that despite the foul racist attacks against him, he represented his people with dignity and class.

And boy was he funny.
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Creekside - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 14:22

Leap Manifesto a little vague for you? Here ya go...
"We have to roll back corporate capture of our governments if we want to try and fix problems that conflict directly with their industry bottom line.""There's nothing radical about anything we're talking about. If you are willing to get up in the morning and make your fortune by altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere ... then you're a radical and our job is to try and check that radicalism .""Disobedience is a new film about a new phase of the climate movement: courageous action that is being taken on the front lines of the climate crisis on every continent, led by regular people fed up with the power and pollution of the fossil fuel industry.

Disobedience tells the story of 4 communities preparing to participate in Break Free from Fossil Fuels actions in May 2016.

Screenings are being planned across the globe starting on April 30 to support ongoing organizing to defeat the fossil fuel industry."

So far in Canada, one screening has been planned.

Justin, Rachel and Brad - Completely Out of Touch with Canadians

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 14:13

Justin Trudeau, Rachel Notley and Brad Wall are determined to continue Canada's sullied fossil fuel past but the Canadian people want a fossil free future for Canada.

An Ekos poll found the controversial Leap Manifesto has already gathered a lot of support. Among those familiar with it, as many support the call for Canada to slash carbon emissions and be completely free of fossil energy by 2050 as those opposed.

The only party whose members oppose Leap is, predictably, the Conservatives. Justin's own Liberals support leap by a two to one, 50 to 25 margin. The strongest support, the Green Party, comes in at 59% followed by the NDP at 54%.

You would think that, with numbers like these, Trudeau wouldn't be quite as spineless in caving in to the demand for ever more hazmat dilbit coursing through ever more hazmat pipelines. You might think... but.


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