Posts from our progressive community

fun with bag signs: in which i am photographed removing garbage from my neighbourhood

we move to canada - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 08:00
Are there bag signs where you live?

In Mississauga and perhaps most suburban places, people put up bag signs advertising services. The signs are cheap to buy and easy to post. They are also illegal. To me, they are the Nexus of Evil: advertising plus visual pollution plus polyethylene waste.

I have called 311 to complain about these signs in my neighbourhood, and if the City has someone available, they will sometimes dispatch a crew to remove the signs. Presumably this crew is also doing other outdoor maintenance, or perhaps they are driving around removing bag signs, which would be awesome.

Allan and I also remove these signs ourselves. When we lived in a house, we would throw the signs in the garage until enough had collected, then bundle up the vinyl for trash and the metal frames for recycling. Now, while we're out with our dogs, we'll just put the whole thing in a public trash barrel.

This morning while I was out with Diego, I slipped the vinyl off a bag sign, crumbled it up, and threw it in the trash. As I turned the corner, I noticed a car parked across the street, the driver removing something from the trunk. Then he walked towards me, carrying a sign.

Diego and I watched as he pushed the metal frame into the ground. I said, "You know that's illegal, right?"

Sign man said, "Are you a city councilor or a police?"

Me: "No, I'm a resident of this neighbourhood and you are polluting it."

Signman: "It is only for a few days, then I will come back and remove it." Ha!

Me: "That doesn't matter. It's illegal. As soon as you walk away, I'm going to remove it."

Signman: "You cannot do that. Only a city councilor or police can do that."

Me: "That's incorrect. I've called the City and they said it was fine to remove these any time."

Signman: "If you remove this sign, I will take your picture and I will sue you!"

Actual Photo of Me Throwing Out the SignMe: "Great! Excellent. I will give you my name and phone number right now. Let's exchange phone numbers and you can sue me."

Signman: "I don't want your name and number! I will take your picture!"

Now, I am not a lawyer, but I think it might be difficult to sue someone if you only have their photo, but not their name.

Me: "Ok, get ready." He backed up -- I assume because of Diego's presence -- and I stepped forward to slip the vinyl off the frame.

He took out his cell phone, and I smiled and posed with the crumpled sign. I normally hate being photographed, but this was fun.

As Diego and I walked away with the sign, Signman shouted after me, "See you in court!"

"See you there," I said. "Have a nice day!"

Brad Trost, Jason Kenney, and the Homophobic Cons

Montreal Simon - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 06:29

Press Progress

It seems I might have been a bit too hasty when I labelled the Harper Party, the Trump Party.

For while Kellie Leitch and Tony Clement are doing their pathetic best to foster that impression...



And I'm sure both those losers will eventually succeed in labelling it the Trump Party in the eyes of most Canadians.

It's important to remember that the Harper Party has always been, and still is, Canada's Homophobic Party.
Read more »

Donald Trump Threatens Hillary Clinton With Violence Again

Montreal Simon - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 05:56


I knew Donald Trump was growing increasingly desperate, like Benito Mussolini himself.

Before he expired from a bad case of lead poisoning, and was hung up to dry.

For it couldn't have been easy having to kill his own campaign.

But who knew that dirty old man is now so afraid of being humiliated by Hillary Clinton. 

He would suggest that his grubby supporters might kill her...
Read more »

The Reincarnation Of P.T. Barnum

Northern Reflections - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 05:25

Yesterday, Donald Trump walked away from his claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and, thus, not qualified to be president. He then took no questions and walked out of the room. The vociferous lie which he has repeated for five years went down the Memory Hole. And the polls tell us that Trump and Hillary Clinton are running neck and neck. Andrew Coyne asks, "Who's to blame?"

Who should we fault for this disaster? Should we blame his enablers in the Republican party? But which ones? The aging opportunists like Newt Gingrich or Rudy Giuliani, who see in Trump their last chance at power and can’t be bothered to worry about what he represents? Or the equivocators, the odds-checkers, once-respected figures like Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio, who know that Trump is the death of everything they claim to care about but sign on anyway, though only after weeks of contemptible public agonizing — as if the choice were truly difficult? As if they were not weak men following their desires, but good men trying to do right? As if their eventual decision were ever in doubt?

Should we blame Trump’s rivals in the Republican nomination race? They who might have stopped him early, but chose instead to parley with him, thinking his support would prove fleeting, preferring to turn their guns on each other. Even when it became apparent that Trump’s support was real, each calculated he could be the one to face him one on one — each thinking he need only outrun the others, not the bear. Until the bear consumed them all.

What about the media? Should they wear this? For granting him such easy access to air time, all those “phoners” to friendly hosts, when he had nothing to say? For devoting vast hours to his inane rallies in the hopes, often gratified, that someone would get beaten up, but in the certainty that large numbers of public would be attracted either way? For succumbing to Trump’s months-long war of attrition on human reason — the insults, the craziness, the elemental errors, the literally hundreds of lies, by which Trump advertised his Olympian disdain for any of the usual standards of behaviour, and so made it impossible for anyone else to hold him to account? For failing to break out of the trap of journalistic balance, when the alternatives are a flawed but quotidian candidate on the one hand and a sociopathic, race-baiting manchild on the other?

Should we blame the excesses of identity politics, the obsession with racial and sexual differences to the exclusion of individual rights or common human values, the assertion that society is a zero-sum conflict between ceaselessly warring groups, providing the opening for Trump to emerge as the champion of white male identity politics? Should we blame the stratification of society by class, class defined not by income or birth but by education and culture, the higher educated and the less so separated by a widening gulf of mutual resentment, such that whichever candidate the former are for the latter are against?

Is it the fault of the Democrats, for nominating a candidate as unelectable as Clinton? Should we blame the Clinton campaign for its inability, notwithstanding the millions of dollars and masses of manpower at its disposal, to put away a candidate as monumentally beatable as Trump? Do we blame the voters, for not doing their homework, exercising judgment, or just basically paying attention?
Coyne's last suggestion is the most telling.We should blame what increasingly seems to be a majority of American voters, who can't -- or won't -- recognize the reincarnation of P.T. Barnum. Trump knows how to manage a circus. But he knows nothing about being president.

Image: the dailybeast.com

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 09/16/2016 - 17:30
Wild Strawberries - Lucky Day

Why Donald Trump Has Just Destroyed His Own Campaign

Montreal Simon - Fri, 09/16/2016 - 13:47


In my last post I predicted that Donald Trump's so-called birther campaign would do him enormous damage.

By finally exposing him as a dirty old crackpot.

But now I'm sure it will destroy him.
Read more »

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 09/16/2016 - 08:07
Assorted content to end your week.

- Henning Meyer interviews Tony Atkinson about the readily-available options to combat inequality - with the first step being to make sure people actually have a voice in the decisions which define how wealth and power are allocated:
So, if you dive into the potential solutions you seem to suggest institutional changes. You mentioned that public policy should aim at a proper balance of power amongst stakeholders; what exactly do you mean by this?

Well I think I should say first of all that my aim in writing the book was to try and dispel the sort of sense of inevitability about high inequality and therefore I was putting forward various ways of seeking to understand why it comes about and therefore how we can moderate it. And I think one of the things that has certainly happened is that institutions, like for example corporate institutions, companies, which used to have a broader view of their responsibilities, that they recognised that they had a responsibility in addition to that to their shareholders – also to their workers and to their consumers and their customers.

And I think it’s this broader notion of the social obligations of institutions and of course of individuals as well that we have responsibilities beyond both our own personal economic gains and losses. So I think that it’s part of a reaction that I have had to what seems to be a narrowing to a very much individual based self-interest which has come to emerge in the last two or three decades.

Okay, and then new ideas like Michael Porter’s shared value capitalism, they try to sort of, not revive the old dichotomy between shareholder and stakeholder models but try to align public and private interest in addressing some of the most pressing social and economic needs. Could that be one way of addressing these considerations?

Yes, I think in a sense part of the issues arise because we had in the post-war period some kind of balance of power between on the one side employers and the other side often trade unions or workers’ representatives. And that of course has shifted in quite a number of countries as a result of a number of things including, for example, the effect of privatisation resulting in reducing the power of trade unions to influence the behaviour of those institutions. So, I think we’ve seen a shift of power definitely away from workers towards capital, those who run firms.

So I think a number of proposals were designed to try and at least make sure that those interests of workers and indeed consumers should be represented. And a good example is provided by the negotiations with regard to trade agreements which seem to involve only one side as it were of that equation.- And Van Jones writes that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade deals are set up to block action against climate change.

- CUPE points out the leakage of massive amounts of revenue to tax havens and avoidance as a crucial factor in austerity politics. And Craig Wong reports on the latest increase in Canadian consumer debt as people borrow to try to make up for the lack of advancement in wages.

- Susan Ochs discusses Wells Fargo's widespread fraud as yet another example of workers and consumers being punished for the misdeeds of high-ranking executives.

- Alia Dharssi continues her reporting on migrant workers in Canada by highlighting how recruitment agencies exploit workers who can't stand up for themselves. And Chris Buckley argues that labour and employment laws in general need to be updated, particularly to protect people stuck with precarious work.

- Finally, APTN reports on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's latest order requiring the federal government to stop discriminating against First Nations children - though the fact that two previous orders haven't led to the government complying signals that the Libs' in following through may be rather less than advertised.

No Noble Savages

Northern Reflections - Fri, 09/16/2016 - 05:08


Chris Hedges had hoped that Bernie Sanders would spark a revolution. Unfortunately, he writes, the revolution was still-born:

The naive hopes of Bernie Sanders’ supporters—to build a grass-roots political movement, change the Democratic Party from within and push Hillary Clinton to the left—have failed. Clinton, aware that the liberal class and the left are not going to mount genuine resistance, is running as Mitt Romney in drag. The corporate elites across the political spectrum, Republican and Democrat, have gleefully united to anoint her president. All that remains of Sanders’ “revolution” is a 501(c)(4) designed to raise money, including from wealthy, anonymous donors, to ensure that he will be a senator for life. Great historical events happen twice, as Karl Marx quipped, first as tragedy and then as farce. 

The corporate agenda remains firmly in place:

The multibillion-dollar extravaganza of our electoral Circus Maximus is part of the smokescreen that covers the ongoing devastation of globalization, deindustrialization, trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, endless war, climate change and the intrusion into every corner of our lives by the security and surveillance state. Our democracy is dead. Clinton and Donald Trump do not have the power or the interest to revive it. They kneel before the war machine, which consumes trillions of dollars to wage futile wars and bankroll a bloated military. To defy the fortress state is political suicide. Politicians are courtiers to Wall Street. The candidates mouth the clichés of justice, improvements in income equality and democratic choice, but it is a cynical game. Once it is over, the victors will go to Washington to work with the lobbyists and financial elites to carry out the real business of ruling. 
In the end, nothing will stand in the way:

To neoliberals, everyone and everything are disposable. The failed states that have risen up across the Middle East, Africa, the Caucasus and Asia in the wake of the Cold War herald a neoliberal world driven by violence, corruption, greed and desperation. The drug traffickers, smugglers, pirates, kidnappers, jihadists, criminal gangs and militias that roam huge swaths of territory where central authority has vanished are the real faces of globalization. These nihilists define Islamic State just as they define the corporate state. Corruption may be more naked and cruder in Afghanistan or Iraq, but it has its parallel in the for-sale politicians and political parties that dominate the United States and Europe. The common good—the building of community and solidarity—has been replaced through decades of corporate indoctrination with the callous call to amass all you can for yourself and leave the stranger bleeding on the side of the road. 

There is a new world order. It is based on naked exploitation. It—not democracy—is what we have exported across the globe. And it looks a lot like the anarchic state that Hobbes feared. The criminal gangs that deliver migrants to Europe make about $100 million a month for their work. They exploit and traffic human beings just as highly paid CEOs do.

It's a dark vision -- in which there are no noble savages.

Donald Trump and the Crackpot Candidate

Montreal Simon - Fri, 09/16/2016 - 03:27


He has been trying to soften his image, and portray himself as a reasonable man. A man who loves children and black people, not a deranged demagogue.

And it has boosted his polls.

But sadly for Donald Trump, he can only be reasonable for so long, before the voices in his head start screaming, and he reveals his inner racism.

And now, just as he was doing so well, he may have stuck a fork in his own campaign.
Read more »

Another Liberal Loser - EnviroMin Catherine McKenna

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 18:47


She's failing as an environment minister and she's failing Canada. After a grand (perhaps "grandiose") start full of promise, Catherine McKenna has squandered her opportunity and morphed into an enviromin Stephen Harper could be proud to call his own.

Dr. Eoin Finn, PhD, has taken the measure of McKenna. Here is a partial list of her failures.

  • Failure to clarify what, exactly, Canada’s GHG emissions target should be if we are to play our part in meeting the COP21 goal of limiting climate change to an increase of less than 20C. There is a looming gap between Environment Canada’s 2030 GHG emissions estimate of 817 megatonnes and the Copenhagen target of 524 millions. Nobody in McKenna’s remit (or Energy Minister Carr’s) seems to wants to grasp that 300 megatonne nettle, nor venture an estimate of what further reductions will be needed to meet COP21 commitments
  • Maintaining the Harper Government’s unambitious and inadequate GHG emission targets of 17% reduction by 2030, which, without swift action, we have no hope of meeting
  • Bowing to the desires of a few Premiers to kick the carbon-tax proposal down the road and (they hope) out of sight
  • Inaction on the review of the Oil & Gas industry emissions that successive Environment Ministers in the Harper Government had promised year after year. This industry contributes over 26% of Canada’s GHG emissions. Singling it out for inaction suggests that this Government is also a “captive regulator”
  • A decision to continue the 30% accelerated capital cost allowance for LNG facilities – a fossil-fuel subsidy granted by the Harper Government in 2014
  • Approval of the Woodfibre LNG plant in Howe Sound, despite its almost 1 million tonnes of annual GHG emissions. This puzzling and highly-unpopular decision also belied another Trudeau promise – that of “politicians may issue permits, but only communities can grant permission”
  • Cabinet’s approval of NEB’s decision to approve Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline extension, LNG Canada’s 40-year license extension for its Kitimat plant and Steelhead LNG’s 5 export licenses – each of which represents a vast expansion of Canada’s GHG emissions
  • Publicly supporting the Keystone XL and Energy East pipeline proposals
  • Silence and inaction on repealing any of the Harper Government’s egregious environmental legislation – particularly the omnibus Bill C-38, which shredded environmental protections in the Species at Risk Act, Navigable Waters Act, NEB Act and 60+ others
  • Promises to reform the National Energy Board and its farcical review process replaced with nominating yet another dubious set of second-guessers. This is hardly the stuff of meaningful reform to “restore public confidence” in the NEB;
  • Not one concrete legislative or regulatory action on Liberal energy efficiency promises –boosting renewable alternativessetting tighter automobile emission standards, elevating building insulation standards, promoting public transit initiatives, and inaction on the PM’s lofty promise to the U.N. that “Climate change will test our intelligence, our compassion and our will. But we are equal to that challenge. I encourage other signatories to move swiftly to follow through on their commitments”. Since then – nothing, nada, zilch.
You would have to be a wilfully blind Liberal or else our prime minister to not see McKenna for what she has proven to be.

Wherein Rafe Mair Outs BC Green Leader, Andrew Weaver, As a Closet Christy Clark Liberal

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 18:40

It took the Boycott/Sanction/Divest controversy to smoke him out but Andrew Weaver, erstwhile leader of the British Columbia Green Party is anything but Green. Rafe Mair has Weaver's number.

It's small wonder Weaver is threatening to rename the BC Green Party. Even he can't bear to continue his dark farce.

Dr. Weaver, I'd thank you for your service - if only you deserved thanks. You don't, I can't, I won't.

Conservative voices for electoral reform

Creekside - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 14:15
Notable because we don't often hear Conservative voices speaking publicly in favour of electoral reform.

Sept 8, 2016. Colin Craig of the Manning Centre interviews President of Canadian Taxpayers Federation Troy Lanigan, on the benefits of proportional representation. Lanigan compares MMP with STV, which both prefer. 




Yesterday ERRE committee members CPC Scott Reid, NDP Nathan Cullen, and GPC Elizabeth May sent a letter to Democratic Institutions Minister Monsef requesting a move towards more concrete models of three different PR systems:
“Canadians will want to know how the various proposals for electoral reform would work and what they would look like in practice.”They have asked Monsef to relegate some of her $10.7M public awareness budget to produce visual aids like potential ballots and electoral maps for three proposed systems - mixed member proportional representation (MMP), single transferrable vote (STV) and former Elections Canada CEO Jean-Pierre Kingsley's hybrid rural-urban system. The committee begins their cross-country road trip, hopefully with these materials in hand, starting next week. 
And no, I don't know why there's no signatory from a Liberal and Bloc committee member on the request for materials to Monsef.
PR proponents have criticized Monsef's cross-country road trip as being too strictly focused on 'values' to the relative exclusion of discussion on different electoral systems -which are more rigorously discussed and debated at MPs' electoral townhalls. 
So now we're going to get into specifics. In the meantime, you can find examples in the appendices of FairVoteCanada's submission to ERRE or Samara 
Happy International Democracy Day. Hoping to get more of it here in Canada..

We Can't Go On Like This...

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 13:48

How in hell did our society morph into Larry the Cable Guy? Who ignored all the rules and hit the "Moron" button?

Let's let Ensia's Mary Hoff have the floor:

"How much raw material does it take to support you? If you’re an average African, about 3 metric tons (3.3 tons)—the equivalent of an elephant’s worth of biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and nonmetallic minerals—per year. But if you’re an average North American, make that a whopping eight elephants.

"And those elephants are getting heftier. Even as a growing population puts more pressure on earth’s resources, we’re becoming less efficient in our use of raw materials—essentially using more than ever to generate a specific amount of economic activity. That’s according to “Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity,” a report released recently by the United Nations Environment Programme that summarizes trends in material use worldwide.

"The report reveals some startling patterns in the use of materials around the world. Total materials use tripled between 1970 and 2010, from 22 billion metric tons (24 billion tons) to more than 70 billion metric tons (77 billion tons). Even more unsettling, per capita materials use grew from 7 metric tons (7.7 tons) to 10 (11) in 2010."

"If we continue on the current trajectory, the report predicts, we’ll be using nine times as much material in 2050 as we are today — and with that, similarly multiplying the production of environmental-harming by-products such as waste, air and water pollution, and greenhouse gases."
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this has to stop. We have grown entirely beyond the carrying capacity of our planet's ecosystem, our one and only biosphere, Spaceship Earth. Our global economy is now 1.7 times larger than the planet's resource carrying capacity.
The evidence of our excess is palpable, tangible. It's even visible to the naked eye from the viewing cupola of the International Space Station. Dust storms that rise over China and cross the Pacific to the west coast of North America. The stunning deforestation of the Amazon. Forest fires that run from one end of Indonesia to the other as forests are cleared to make way for palm tree plantations, exposing the ancient peat underneath to catastrophic wildfires. The collapse of global fisheries, one species after another, as our industrial fleets rapaciously "fish down the food chain." Rivers that no longer run to the sea. Oceanic dead zones. Algae blooms that poison our lakes and rivers. Aquifers being drained and collapsing, triggering surface subsidence.  The massive decline, in overall numbers, of our flora and fauna, marine and terrestrial.
Here's the thing. This isn't going to stop - not voluntarily. To admit that we are irresponsibly, dangerously depleting Earth's natural resources it to ask just who is this "we" of which we speak? Who is the culprit, who is to blame?
The answer is easy. Go back to the elephant metaphor. The guy in Africa uses one elephant of resources. We North Americans use eight elephants of resources. We, therefore, would be the most affluent, most privileged humans of the lot - North Americans.
Here's the other thing. Once you concede that you're the real sinner, people are going to expect you to repent and, worse, atone. We can tell that "one elephant" African guy that we're sorry but - but, we're not going to stop, not yet anyway.
Imagine this. What if we Norte Americanos had to put ourselves on a one elephant diet? What the hell would that be like? Let's say we got a lot smarter in our consumption of resources very quickly it wouldn't be nearly enough to avoid a sharp reduction in our standard of living, something easily on the order of 40% or more, possibly a lot more.  
No more vacations to distant lands. No more McMansions. No more luxuries of any description. No more exotic foods. Something, a lot of somethings, much more akin to what our ancestors enjoyed in the 1930s.
Now, do you see yourself or your neighbours welcoming that sort of transition to a markedly lower standard of living?
You see there is a bag of problems in play here that extend to our other existential threats such as climate change. There are solutions, imperfect to be sure, but they require more than tweaks to this and adjustments to that. The solutions, if they're going to do the slightest good, have to incorporate justice, fairness and equality. That's the part that we in the advantaged, affluent world get hung up on - justice, fairness and equality. That's what we have little stomach for and that's why we won't act while there's still time to make a difference.





The Roadblocks In Our Path. The Worst Are Still Ahead.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 09:29

At last December's Paris climate summit, the media paid scant attention to that slightly curious looking German guy, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. There were the makings of a deal after all, wonderful news. Wet blankets like Schellnhuber detracted from the moment.

What was "John" (as he's called by his Anglo-colleagues) on about? Over the din of the political backslapping, John added that mankind's only hope of reaching the political target of 2 degrees Celsius of warming or even 1.5C depended on the "induced implosion" of the fossil fuel industry.  He was calling for nothing less than political intervention to close down the fossil energy giants. Padlock the gates, turn off the lights.

I've known, on a social basis, a couple of contemporaries who did astonishingly well in the corporate finance business since the early 80s. Both worked their way through the ranks before opening their own firms. These guys are not wealthy. They're rich.

While they're both now semi-retired, they both continue to hold large investments in fossil energy. These guys know how to spot a potential loser. They know to get while the going's good. They're standing pat on fossil fuels. Why, if alternative energy is about to sweep fossil fuel into the history books, haven't these guys dumped their energy portfolios?

The simple answer is they are confident that the political will doesn't exist, nor will it, to implement the "induced implosion" that is Schellnhuber's sine qua non. The fossil giants are secure enough to fend off any such threat. They know they can stare down feckless, timid governments as they keep extracting fossil energy.

But what if alternative energy becomes cheaper? Apparently it won't matter. They'll keep pushing fossil fuels. For starters, the executive management of those firms make huge money and they want to continue to enjoy those rewards. For another, there is the shareholder problem.

Imagine a CEO convening a shareholders meeting to announce that the board of directors has decided to close up shop. Imagine being told that your company's billions of dollars of fossil energy reserves, the assets on the strength of which you plonked down your retirement money, are suddenly worthless. You might have a few questions of that CEO. Why did the directors not see this coming? Why did they keep promoting fossil energy? Why didn't they move the company in a safer direction? Why did they allow catastrophe to overtake the shareholders?

If you're the CEO you don't want to kill the Golden Goose and you know you'll be happily on your way counting your ill-gotten gains in just a few years. All you have to do is keep this thing going until you're safely gone and far beyond the reach of angry shareholders. And so you screw up your face and stare down those wobbly politicians.

It's a safe bet and they know it. It's the only safe bet. CBC's Don Pittis looks at our all but useless political caste:

It's hard to imagine that as recently as 2009 we were all doing stories about peak oil, the moment when oil would go the way of wood, sending prices up toward a prohibitive $300 a barrel.

For environmentalists and oil producers, peak oil now seems like a bad joke. Another thing we also learned this week was that the glut of oil on world markets is growing. And there is plenty more in the pipeline. This week we heard that the Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea, one of the world's largest new discoveries, will go into production next month.

If oil and natural gas continue to be cheap, the only thing standing between us and a world damaged by climate change will be the resolve of politicians.

Energy has to be more expensive. Pipeline opponents must be given a voice, even if it hurts the established giants of the doomed fossil fuel economy. Carbon has to cost us more.

But in a democracy, politicians can't act alone. Without loud voices of political support, environmentally inclined governments quite rightly fear they will be pitched out and replaced by those willing to sacrifice the future to relieve short-term pain. 


These are huge roadblocks in the path to a post-fossil society. The public support for the essential measures doesn't exist but what government is lifting a finger to properly inform the electorate of the real risks of fossil energy and what that could mean to our grandchildren? Are you hearing anything eye-opening from the Trudeau government? I'm not.





New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 08:31
Here, following up on my earlier column on racism in Saskatchewan with a look at the lessons we can learn from responses to similar issues in Alberta and the U.S. (And no, "do nothing" still isn't an acceptable answer.)

For further reading...
- Jesse and Julia Lipscombe's #MakeItAwkward campaign site is here. And Jason Markusoff's interview with Jesse Lipscombe and Don Iveson offers some further background.
- Matthew Yglesias and FiveThirtyEight offer some background to Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment. And Charles Blow examines Donald Trump's double standard as to what's to be considered "deplorable" in the context of the general lack of anything resembling honesty or principle behind his campaign, while Aliyah Frumin reports on Mike Pence's refusal to describe even David Duke with that title.
- Finally, in another example in which there's a great deal of work to be done in undoing the normalization of prejudice, Owen Jones discusses the need for all parties in the UK to work on extinguishing the anti-immigrant hatred stoked by the Brexit campaign.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 07:15
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Graham Lowe and Frank Graves examine the state of Canada's labour market, and find a strong desire among workers for an activist government to ensure improved pay equality and social supports. Oxfam reaches similar conclusions in studying workers and employers in Scotland. And Emma Teitel reports on Niki Ashton's work in reaching out to Canadian millenials to ensure their needs and expectations are taking into account.

- Meanwhile, Suzanne McGee writes that while the U.S.' national economic picture is improving slightly, any rising tide has left behind an increasing number of people living in poverty. And David MacDonald notes that we shouldn't overstate any progress from the new Canada Child Benefit - which seems to have been designed primarily to generate lower estimates of child poverty to based on unclear assumptions.

- Carimah Townes discusses how mass incarceration imposes unconscionable costs on the U.S.' economy in general, and vulnerable classes of citizens in particular.

- Jerry Dias points out that the federal government's internal report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership conspicuously omits well-documented costs from any cost-benefit analysis.

- Finally, Dennis Howlett comments on Google's elaborate web of tax avoidance schemes - and the need for Canada (like other countries) to ensure that it pays its fair share. And Ed Pilkington examines Scott Walker's fight against a recall election as a stark example as to how corporate money controls American politics.

Had a weird dream last night…

Trashy's World - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 06:34
I haven’t posted for a while, but I had this weird dream last night that involved: being attacked by a black bear and my gut was ripped open by it in a gravel pit me killing the bear with my bare hands both the bear and yours truly turning into zombies but I was a good […]

Do You Know You May Be Under Surveillance?

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 06:05


Last month I wrote a post on the increasing appetite of police departments to use mass surveillance techniques that make their job easier but represent yet another threat to the privacy rights of citizens. That post revolved primarily around a device called a Stingray, which indiscriminately surveils any cellphone within its multi-kilometre range, and it appears that authorities' appetite for snooping is growing insatiable.

A report, commissioned by the Telecom Transparency Project and the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic and released to The Globe and Mail, explores the use of what are known as ISMI catchers.
An “IMSI,” which stands for “international mobile subscriber identity,” is a unique serial number now affixed to every smartphone’s chip set. It is one of several digital identifiers that police build modern investigations around if they can tie a specific number to a specific suspect.A major problem is that our government does not seem eager to make such technology part of a consultation with Canadians on security issues. Last week, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced
he is soliciting the public’s views on the powers of police and spy agencies.

Mr. Goodale’s department posted a backgrounder stating that police are frustrated by criminals’ anonymous use of computers and phones. Unfortunately that background, which provides context for the consultation, makes no mention of exploring the use of IMSI devices.
[M]ention of the technological equalizers that allow police to bypass corporate gatekeepers have been left out of the government’s consultation exercise. For some pro-privacy advocates, this is the conversation Canadians should be having.“IMSI catchers pose a particularly insidious threat to real-world anonymity,” write Mr. Parsons and Mr. Israel, who are part of digital-research labs at the Universities of Toronto and Ottawa respectively. Their paper, which is titled “Gone Opaque,” points out that corporations that manufacture IMSI catchers often swear police to non-disclosure agreements.

They suggest the scope of IMSI catchers is currently limited only by the imaginations of government agents who use them. “They can be deployed to geolocate and identify individuals in private homes, to see who visits a medical clinic or a religious meeting, or to identify travelling companions,” the research paper says. “They can be deployed permanently at border crossings, airports or bus depots, or distributed at various points of a city so that movement becomes effectively impossible without a record of it being created.”Like one of the commentators on this article, many will blithely suggest that if we have nothing to hide, why worry?
Can anyone provide the name of a law-abiding person, or non-terrorist sympathising individual in Canada who has been harmed by the use of IMSI devices?

If we are to be kept safe from both domestic and international terrorists and cyber-criminals, the government needs adequate tools.Such a stance betrays a naivete that I find intellectually insulting, so narrowly focused as it is on a particular tree that it fails to see the forest.

Unless we are willing to give carte blanche to our government and the security forces that up to now were supposed to operate within confined and constitutional limits, unless we are willing to give absolute trust to those that have so much power over us, I suggest that all of us should be very, very concerned about our rights and freedoms which, as other countries will readily attest, are never truly secure unless citizens are very, very vigilant and engaged.

As one commentator on the article said,
You realize, right, that the aim of "terror" is to attack free societies to make them give up their freedoms. Democracy is not for sissies.
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Confronting It Head On

Northern Reflections - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 05:29


Kellie Leitch has caused a great deal of controversy with her suggestion that we screen prospective immigrants for "Canadian values." Actually, she's touching a nerve which predates Confederation. Desmond Cole writes:

Many have criticized Leitch’s proposal by saying it is impractical, since no one person or group can define or determine Canadian values. That’s a nice idea, but in practice we know the values our politicians attempt to sell us are a reflection of our colonial, white, British, monarchical heritage. There are such things as Canadian values, and they explain how our politicians have been peddling a fear of foreigners for the last 150 years.
Suspicion of all immigrants who are not white, or are not members of the former British Empire, is a Canadian value. Canada’s founding prime minister, John A. Macdonald, argued that Chinese immigrants to Canada were unfit to vote because they exhibited “no British instincts or British feelings or aspirations.” Macdonald didn’t need to cloak the authority of the state in the language of wanting a “conversation” about immigrants, as Leitch does today. In his time, there was no conversation to be had.
That's an inconvenient truth which we would much rather forget:
Of course, all of this is only possible because of another fundamental Canadian value: erasure. Our modern mythology suggests that indigenous people were never here, or that if they were, their values and customs gave way to a superior British way of life. Our history books and our educational resources for prospective new Canadians have little to say about the values and traditions of indigenous people. British colonialism made outsiders of people who had been here for thousands of years, and cast their values aside.
That’s how a white man in a red coat who carries a weapon and patrols stolen land has come to symbolize the enforcement of Canadian values. We are taught to honour the force Mounties used to Anglicize this land, to view the guy in red as a symbol of honour and patriotism, no matter what despicable crimes he carries out. The values of dominance and separation enforced by the modern RCMP, and the Canadian Border Services Agency, are not universal or self-evident — they are steeped in centuries of racism, colonialism, and white supremacy.
Leitch is not allowing us to forget our past. The question is, "Do we have the courage to confront it head on?
Image: thebeaverton.com

Kellie Leitch and the Trumperisation of the Cons

Montreal Simon - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 04:17


I know it's hard to believe, but Kellie Leitch is still insisting she's not trying to be Canada's Donald Trump.

Even though she's not fooling anyone. 

“While the elites and most media harshly criticized even the mention of the discussion, you knew better,” wrote Leitch in the fundraising note. “Together we will stand up to those who don’t want to discuss Canadian values and whose politically correct elitism remains tone deaf to the views of most Canadians.”


For that one could have flown like a bat out of the cavernous orifice of the Angry Orange himself.

And to make matters worse this Trumperisation is spreading.
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