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"A Pile of Filth" - Sounds About Right

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 10:47
Pope Francis has released a 180-page encyclical calling on the rich and powerful to start taking responsibility for the mess they've made of our planet.  Francis writes that we have transformed our biosphere into a "pile of filth."

The pope’s 180-page encyclical on the environment, released on Thursday, is at its core a moral call for action on phasing out the use of fossil fuels.

But it is also a document infused with an activist anger and concern for the poor, casting blame on the indifference of the powerful in the face of certain evidence that humanity is at risk following 200 years of misuse of resources.

Up to now, he says, the world has accepted a “cheerful recklessness” in its approach to the issue, lacking the will to change habits for the good of the Earth.

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” the papal statement says. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

The pope refused, however, to consider overpopulation's role in our environmental degradation.  When it comes to the Roman Catholic church it still is and presumably always will be the more the merrier.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 09:18
Here, on how Alberta's strengthened political financing rules under Rachel Notley's NDP only highlight how far Saskatchewan has fallen behind.

For further reading...
- Bill 1 is here (PDF), while Alberta's legislation which it amends to prohibit organizational donations is the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, RSA 2000, c E-2 found here. And by way of comparison, the closest Saskatchewan has to the current or amended versions of sections 16 and 17 of that legislation is section 242 of the Election Act, 1996, SS 1996, c E-6.01 here.
- I'll point again to Barret Weber's study of the state of Alberta's law, along with David Climenhaga's column. For reaction from the political parties to Bill 1, see Emily Mertz' report. And Elise Stolte reports that Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is also looking to bar corporate contributions on the municipal scene in Alberta.
- Finally, for those interested in digging into Saskatchewan's past political contributions, Elections Saskatchewan's annual returns page is here.

Punishment For A Member Of The Precariat Who Spoke Out

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 08:13

Human nature is a funny thing, especially in its ability to compartmentalize things. For example, I suspect that the vast majority of us are able to witness the plight of suffering around the world with a certain dispassion; images from halfway across the world of disaster, for example, we are able to process without a great deal of emotional involvement, the mediating influence of geography being a big factor. Statistics show a widening gap between the rich and the poor, but that information is received intellectually, not personally. It is only when the suffering is up close and personal, when we are able to put a particular face to injustice, for example, that we are moved to emotions like sympathy, empathy, even outrage.

The plight of the precariat has the potential to elicit the latter reactions. The Toronto Star has been conducting an ongoing series on the topic, and its individual portrayals of those toiling under low-paying and uncertain jobs has been quite moving. But, perhaps predictably, one of those who spoke to the paper has now experienced retaliation from his employer.

In the May 10 installment of the series, 61-year-old Angel Reyes was profiled. Here is a brief excerpt:
For more than five years, 61-year-old Angel Reyes has woken up five days a week at 3 a.m. and braced himself for eight hours of hauling garbage at a Toronto recycling plant.

The university-educated refugee is the longest-serving worker on the floor, hired through a temp agency more than half a decade ago.

Half a decade and, technically, still a temp.

Half a decade earning minimum wage, never having seen a raise.

Half a decade, and still paid less per hour than his permanent colleagues for doing the same job.

Half a decade, and still no benefits.

Half a decade, and still no obligation for his employer to hire him permanently.

“If hell exists, that is hell,” says Reyes, a father of three who came to Canada in 1993 after he was kidnapped and imprisoned in El Salvador for — ironically — lobbying for workers’ rights.I remember after reading his and others' stories how long it would be before retaliation was meted out. For Reyes, the day of corporate judgement came just a short time after his story appeared:
Just one week after sharing his story with the Star, he was told to finish out the hour at the plant and go home.

Almost a month later, he has not been called back. He has not received termination pay. And he has not been given a straight answer as to why he was let go.

“I feel so sad, because I’ve been working there for so long,” he says.His de facto employer, Canada Fibres recycling plant, will not discuss his situation, and they are likely able to get away with this reprehensible treatment for a simple reason: technically speaking, Reyes was employed, even after five years at the same job, by a temp agency, United Staffing Services. In Ontario, agencies are considered the “employer of record” for temps. Not that this in any way absolves Canada Fibres of its moral culpability in this very sordid business:
When he spoke to the Star in May, Reyes had a simple request for the company: “Hire me.”

Instead, one week later, Reyes and six temporary colleagues were summoned by United Staffing Services, which has an office at the plant itself, and told to go home.

Reached by the Star, Chris Ilkanic of United Staffing said the plant was “downsizing” and that plant management, not the temp agency, decided who to let go.

Ilkanic added the plant manager told him Reyes had appeared in the Star but “didn’t have any problems with it.”

Reyes says when he approached Canada Fibres’ general manager to plead for his job back, he was batted back to the temp agency.

Reyes says he didn’t get an explanation as to why he was let go and former colleagues told him that several of the temps sent home at the same time are now back on the job.A spokesman for Canada Fibres, Mark Badger, responded to requests from The Star for comment with the tiresomely predicable non-answer due to "privacy concerns" and the standard platitudes:
... the company is growing overall and strives to provide a good work environment.

“There are a lot of people who are really proud of what they do here and have worked here for a long time,” he told the Star.
Tell that to Angel Reyes, Mr. Badger.

Recommend this Post

Harper's Perps with Perks #16

Creekside - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 06:27

Harper Senate appointee, one-time failed Con Party candidate, and ordained Pentecostal Minister Don "U So Hot" Meredith was all about the youth...

Teen alleges two-year affair with Senator Don Meredith
From Senator Don Meredith's Conservative Party of Canada bio :
"A passionate champion of youth empowerment, in 2002, he co-founded the Greater Toronto Faith Alliance Centre where he continues to serve as volunteer Executive Director to engage, encourage and empower marginalized youth ..." From Senator Don Meredith's Senate mission statement :
"One of my major Senate visionary objectives is to encourage development of national strategies for overcoming the alienation of our young people and preparing them for significant family, community and leadership roles. Much of my work in Toronto, as a business person, community advocate and pastor has focused on initiatives involving youth and I hope my Senate work will be a means to encourage leadership in this area across Canada."
Harper's Perps with Perks: Boxed Set!  
As seen on TV!   Get yours while supplies last!   Offer void where prohibited. Some age restrictions may apply. 

He Makes The Rules

Northern Reflections - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 05:42


Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault took the Harper government to court this week over the destruction of the long gun registry. Back when the government passed legislation to end the registry, she reminded Public Safety Minister Vic Toews that registry information was subject to Access to Information laws. And, therefore, there should be no rush to destroy that information.

But, on Tuesday, Stephen Harper admitted that the government ignored Legault and pressured the RCMP to destroy the records quickly. There is a paper trail to document that pressure. Steve Sullivan writes:

That includes emails that detail significant pressure on registry officials to destroy the information and destroy it quickly. Pierre Perron of the RCMP’s firearms programs wrote: “Just for the record, (the) minister’s office is putting a lot of pressure on me to destroy the records sooner.” Other officials referred to “pressure from senior RCMP to move up the delete date.” And another Canadian Firearms Program manager wrote: “Between you and me, someone will owe us lots of drinks at (the Prime Minister’s Office) if they want this to happen by end of August.”
And, just to make sure that the government will bear no legal responsibility for its actions, the budget bill contains a clause immunizing the RCMP from the legal consequences of carrying out the government's wishes. Tony Clement claims that this is all a tempest in a teapot. But changing laws retroactively is a big deal. The Harperites have written their own get out of jail free card.

It's clear that the prime minister believes, as he told his security detail, that he makes the rules. His contempt for the rule of law is absolutely stunning.

Stephen Harper's Disastrous Day of Con Scandals

Montreal Simon - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 03:56

I grabbed this screen shot of Question Period yesterday with my new, shiny, but very cheap cell phone.

And as you can see it didn't come out that well eh?

You do get what you pay for, just like you do get what you vote for.

But when I looked at it later, I thought it captured Stephen Harper's state of mind rather well.

For he is desperate, he is a mess, and it was yet another disastrous day of scandals, starting with this one. 
Read more »

Kyle McKee On Trial For Assault.... Again

Anti-Racist Canada - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 17:57
This story actually goes back to September 2013. We had confirmed that McKee has been in jail for a couple of months at the end of 2013 but we didn't then know the details. Since then we had moved on to other issues and did not do a hell of a lot to follow up on the charges, but today we were sent two messages (the first coming from a friend whom it has been too long since we've spoken to) that have filled in the blanks:

Calgary white supremacist Kyle McKee denies assault, say the first time he saw alleged victim was in court

Calgary white supremacist Kyle McKee denied Tuesday that he assaulted a city man who insulted Adolf Hitler.

McKee told defence counsel Adriano Iovinelli he had never met his accuser, Jeremy Martin, until he saw him in court.
McKee, 29, faces a charge of assault with a weapon in connection with the Sept. 14, 2013, incident.
In submissions to provincial court Judge Bill Cummings, Iovinelli said there should be a reasonable doubt about McKee’s guilt, since Martin never mentioned the scar across the bridge of his client’s nose and his tattoo.

Cummings will rule July 20.

Now everyone is innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law, so we suppose McKee could very well be telling the truth. However there are a few things that McKee said during his testimony that sort of strike us as just a wee bit dishonest and thus call into question his claim that he had never seen the alleged victim before.

Let's take a look back at some of the following articles from the not-so-distant-past, shall we?

Read more »

Wednesday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 16:37
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Elias Isquith talks to David Madland about the connection between increasing inequality and the breakdown of trust in the U.S. political system. CBC and Larry Elliott follow up on the IMF's findings about the economic damage done by income and wealth disparities. And Philip Longman thoroughly examines the cross-generational inequality which is putting every generation after the Baby Boomers at a severe disadvantage:
Start, for example, with the twentysomethings of 1979. They had a lower real income in 1979 than twentysomethings did in 1969. And as fiftysomethings now, they not only make less money than they did when they were fortysomething, they are also far worse off as a whole than were the fiftysomethings of 2005. This generalization applies to white members of this cohort and even more so to those who are African American or Hispanic.

Today’s fiftysomethings may be part of the first generation in American history to experience this kind of lifetime downward mobility, in which at every stage of adult life, they have had less income and less net wealth than did people who were their age ten years before. Yet these mid-wave Baby Boomers shouldn’t feel too sorry for themselves. That’s because, as we shall see, they were far better off as twentysomethings than were subsequent cohorts of Generation X twentysomethings, and especially better off than today’s Millennials.

These vastly different economic trajectories experienced by today’s living generations are basically unprecedented. Throughout most of our history, inequality between generations was large and usually increasing, to be sure, but for the happy reason that most members of each new generation far surpassed their parents’ material standard of living. Today, inequality between generations is increasing for the opposite reason. Though much more productive and generally better educated, most of today’s workers are falling farther and farther behind their parents’ generation in most measures of economic well-being.

If it were just a matter of the old getting richer while the young get poorer, it would not necessarily be so bad. Under that scenario, most of us might struggle financially until we grew old, but we could at least look forward to realizing a variant of the American Dream in retirement. But that’s not how these trends are playing out. The downward mobility of today’s younger Americans leads to the downward mobility of tomorrow’s older Americans, making the problem of growing generational inequality truly dire. It’s time to get clear about just what’s been going on and what we can do about it.- Meanwhile, Adnan Al-Daini comments on the futility of pretending that government budgeting is comparable to that of a household.

- Ryan Meili interviews Harry Leslie Smith about the realities of life without a universal health care system, and the importance of preserving and improving the one we now enjoy.

- Katie Valentine looks at research showing a connection between environmental consciousness by legislators and cleaner air. And Geoff Dembicki notes that the Cons' environmental negligence is leading Canadian civil society to start taking action.

- Finally, Frances Russell writes that the Cons are looking to block Canadians' votes in the upcoming federal election. And Evan Leeson makes the case for voting for what we want, rather than allowing "strategic" arguments to push us toward the world of all possible worlds:
In the Canadian context strategic voting is anachronistic because it seeks to STOP HARPER. Again, we didn’t. You can’t stop a train after it has left the station and arrived at the destination. The opportunity is gone and strategic voting in this sense is living in the past and refusing to come to terms with where we have arrived.
Strategic voting creates a negative frame because it takes the seed of positive creative energy in people who want change and plants it in negativity and fear. It says: “If we don’t vote together to stop Harper he will do bad stuff”. That’s negative and fearful. Plus, he already did.
In fact, the Unstoppable One has now turned his attention to making sure that he can stop us. He wants to ensure the things he did cannot be undone aka retroactively stopped. Bill C-51 is a big part of that. C-51 is about locking it in....Here’s the thing about strategic voting. Things are different now. We can’t stop Harper. We can’t stop him because he’s accomplished his goals. Stick a fork in us. He’s done.
So, enough with defining our future in the negative. What we need now is a new Prime Minister and new governing party with a plan and a mandate to build Canada anew.
So what is the new approach?
It’s simple, really. I believe hope is better than fear. I’m voting from the heart. I’m voting for what I believe in. I’m voting for the Canada I want. I hope you will too.


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