Posts from our progressive community

Tom Mulcair Weighs In on Bill C-51 Today - At Last, Finally, Maybe We Hope.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 08:37
They're both trained lawyers, Tom Mulcair and Elizabeth May.  One of them knows right from wrong, the other waits awhile to see which way the wind's blowing.

Elizabeth May only had to read the Harper Cons bill C-51 to realize it was an assault on Canadian democracy.  The man who tells us he's fit to be prime minister of Canada wasn't so sure.  At first he was sort of for it, then he was sort of hesitant about it.  He needed time, a lot of time for someone who claims to be prime ministerial material, but - at long last - Mulcair has formulated a New Democrat position on this widely denounced legislation.

Oh please, Tom, what's it going to be?

UPDATE -  this just in.

Well, that's that then.  The NDP has given it much careful thought and concluded that it's probably safe enough to stand up against Bill C-51.   Why, Tom even called it "dangerous, vague and ineffective."  Good for you, Tom.  That didn't take long at all.  Very prime ministerial, very.

What's Stopping Them?

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:45

Compelling reasons exist for putting a price on carbon. Three Star readers offer theirs:
Re: Ontario carbon price policy in the works, Feb. 13

I was struck by the total disconnect between two of your news articles on Friday.

One was on the Wynne government’s decision to put a price on carbon, which is clearly essential given the urgent need to reduce our emission of greenhouse gases. In this article, the Conservative leader, Jim Wilson, is quoted as saying that a price on carbon will “hurt the economy and kill jobs” even though both claims have been disproven by the B.C. carbon tax.

The second article reported the scientific study that shows that climate change will bring decades-long droughts to the American Midwest that will devastate its agricultural economy by mid-century. We can expect similar disruptions in Canada.

How can the Conservatives, both provincial and federal, continue to claim fiscal responsibility and yet totally ignore the future costs of climate change by opposing action to reduce greenhouse gases?

Alan Slavin, Peterborough

Environment Minister Glen Murray notes in a strategy paper that, “Climate change is already costing Ontarians by threatening our communities, businesses and way of life. While Ontario is showing leadership in fighting climate change, we know we need to do more and we need to act fast.”

We agree. The time to place a fee on carbon is now. A fully refunded greenhouse gas pollution fee can be used to fund tax reductions on jobs and income, and levels the playing field, encouraging all players to reduce their pollution.

We win by reducing pollution at least cost, by having more money in our pockets and by encouraging clean technology business with price signals, not subsidies.
As citizens of Ontario we should advocate growing the economy by implementing a greenhouse pollution fee that is: fully refunded, simple, competitive, transparent, predictable and priced right. It’s a win, win, win.

Andreas Kyprianou, Canadians for Clean Prosperity, Toronto

What if world governments put a rising fee on carbon, and gave the revenue to their people? The rising fee would improve industrial productivity and drive innovation in clean technologies. It would produce quality jobs and help clean the air and water, improving people’s health.

The money returned to citizens would help take the edge off the rising cost of living and stimulate spending. It will also help reduce carbon pollution that is disrupting the global climate.

The World Bank and IMF are calling for a fee on carbon. It’s time the G20 do the same.

Cheryl McNamara, TorontoRecommend this Post

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:18
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Garfield Mahood and Brian Iler discuss the challenge facing charities as compared to the special treatment of businesses in trying to advocate as to public policy:
(T)he solutions to many of society’s problems do not need more research and the criticism-free public education that the CRA permits. They cry out for advocacy and changed law. Unfortunately, the CRA only allows NGOs to spend 10 per cent of their income on policy advocacy and law reform. Thus a charity has to be substantial in order to be large enough to fund meaningful advocacy.

In contrast, while the Harper government blocks charities from using tax credits to influence public opinion, it allows corporations to write off as a business expense 100 per cent of the money they spend to derail or support legislation that affects their interests.

Unfortunately, the situation is worse than the 10 per cent limit imposed by CRA guidelines. The chill created by the fear of the loss of charitable status inhibits many NGOs from working effectively. The self-censorship that is produced constrains even the allowable advocacy. Thus, there is a good reason to question whether charitable status is more of a burden than an asset for many non-profits. - PressProgress exposes five of the Cons' most regressive policies. And Barrie McKenna points out the need for greater investment in young families, rather than allocating resources based solely on the goal of buying off wealthier and older voters.

- Meanwhile, Anuj Shah observes that people operating under a mindset of scarcity value resources far more consistently than those who have money to spare. But the most significant outcome of that finding looks to me to be that a focus on additional unnecessary resources at the top of the wealth scale only amplifies irrational decision-making.

- Robyn Benson argues that we should all be able to agree on the importance of safe workplaces - making it particularly striking that the Cons are spending so much time trying to force workers to impose the dangers of ill health or fatigue on themselves and the public. And Eric Atkins discusses the continued epidemic of oil derailments.

- Finally, Jim Harding slams the Cons' wedge politics, while asking whether we'll allow them to dominate the 2015 federal election. L. Ian MacDonald calls out Stephen Harper's step toward outright xenophobia. And both Lawrence Martin and the Globe and Mail's editorial board weigh in on the disastrous consequences of the Cons' terror bill, while Shawn McCarthy reports that "anti-petroleum" activity figures to be one of the main targets.

A Very Dangerous Man

Northern Reflections - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:00

Stephen Harper has based his political career on the notion of austerity. Deep down, he believes it's good for the soul. But, Thomas Walkom writes, he also stands fourscore for another a-word -- absurdity. The recent arrests of two people in Halifax underscore just how absurd his new anti-terrorism legislation is:

Canada’s anti-terror laws don’t criminalize actions that might cause terror. Well before the current law was enacted in 2002, it was illegal in Canada to murder people or blow up trains.

Rather, they criminalize intent. It may be illegal to kill people in Canada. But it is even more illegal to kill people for a religious, ideological or political purpose.

More important, it is left to the state to decide — in the first instance at least — which murderous conspiracies have a political motive and which do not.
If there is a common thread between Harperian austerity and absurdity, it's the notion that anything means what I say it means:

So that’s the first point about the terror laws: They are unusually arbitrary.The second is that the government’s interpretation of these laws is infinitely flexible. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, with the backing of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, proposes a new anti-terror law that would give the security services even more power and citizens even fewer rights.
Never mind that the new law isn't needed. What Harper needs is the ability to define everything and everyone. He is a man possessed with power and his own survival -- a very dangerous man.

Stephen Harper and the Black Helicopters

Montreal Simon - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 01:51

It was a chilling moment in Question Period yesterday, that should raise questions about whether Stephen Harper is still mentally fit to govern, and whether we are already living in a police state.

The moment when Tom Mulcair asked him whether his totalitarian bill C-51 could be used to spy against his enemies, and he replied by accusing the NDP of being a "black helicopter fleet."

Even though it was a very good question, and his sinister black helicopters are already threatening our democracy. 
Read more »

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 16:31
Slumbering cats.

Go Ahead, Say It: "Climate Change"

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 11:26
Bill Nye, an eloquent advocate of critical thinking and rational discussion, urges newscasters to use the words 'climate change' now and again. There is nothing at stake except the reduction of ignorance.

Recommend this Post

The 2015 Anti-terrorism Act and Environmentalists

Creekside - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 10:34
Fourteen years ago in Operation Kabriole, the RCMP blew up an oil installation in Alberta to establish the credibility of one of their undercover informants investigating tarsands sabotage. In a nice touch, Alberta Energy Company, now Encana, were in on the deal and flew in an expert to explain to alarmed local residents at an AEC townhall that they had been the victims of 'eco-terrorists'. 

Prior to the Vancouver Olympics and the 2010 G8/G20, the RCMP embarked on one of the largest domestic intelligence operations in Canadian history.   Their target :"grievances are based upon notions/expectations regarding the environment, animal rights, First nations' resource-based grievances, gender/racial equality, and distribution of wealth, etc."Infiltration of community groups by undercover officers resulted in a colour-coded database for suspects - "Suspect (Red); Person of Interest (Orange); and Associate (Yellow)"  - that was still being maintained 18 months after the world leaders left Toronto.

In 2012 environmentalists were understandably pissed at being lumped in with white supremacists among the listed "issue-based" terrorist threats in Canada's new counter-terrorism strategy :  Building Resilience Against Terrorism :"...domestic extremism that is “based on grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism."Notice "First nations"(sic) were struck off the new list but the word "Terrorism" has been added as the reason for the list.
G&M today : ‘Anti-petroleum’ movement a growing security threat to Canada, RCMP say"The RCMP has labelled the “anti-petroleum” movement as a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security, raising fears among environmentalists that they face increased surveillance, and possibly worse, under the Harper government’s new terrorism legislation."Quite. Bill C-51 with its new engorged mandate to act against “activity that undermines the security of Canada”.  Will you be afforded a warrant to go with that? Not necessarily.
"In highly charged language that reflects the government’s hostility toward environmental activists, an RCMP intelligence assessment warns that foreign-funded groups are bent on blocking oil sands expansion and pipeline construction, and that the extremists in the movement are willing to resort to violence."So while Steve distracts us all with his imflamatory remarks about needing “sweeping new powers” to fight Islamists and "the international Jihadist movement" :
“They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act,” Harper said... environmentalists note that the legislation could be used on them, and the rest of us think that his remarks about Jihadists are a pretty good summation of his apparent declaration of war on the rest of us. 
Back to G&M :
“These kind of cases involving environmental groups – or anti-petroleum groups as the RCMP likes to frame them – are really the sharp end of the stick in terms of Bill C-51,” said civil liberties lawyer Paul ChampOr as former CSIS officer Francois Lavigne - a self-confessed "former barnburner" himself - put it four days ago : 
“I have never seen the RCMP and CSIS have such a cosy relationship with government,” he said. “They’re not supposed to be.”RCMP spokesman Sergeant Greg Cox insisted the Mounties do not conduct surveillance unless there is suspicion of criminal conduct - having apparently forgotten all about their colour-coded database for people with "notions/expectations regarding the environment."

The RCMP report then wanders bizarrely off into language treating anthropocentric climate change as some kind of hoax perpetrated by enviros. Greenpeace quotes from it :
"NGOs such as Greenpeace, Tides Canada and Sierra Club Canada, to name a few, assert climate change is now the most serious global threat, and that climate change is a direct consequence of elevated anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions which, they believe, are directly linked to the continued use of fossil fuels…. Research and analysis done in support of ongoing RCMP criminal investigations shows that those involved in the anti-Canadian petroleum movement have an interest in drawing public attention to, and building recognition of, the perceived environmental threat from the continued use of fossil fuels. The publicizing of these concerns has led to significant, and often negative, media coverage surrounding the Canadian petroleum industry. The use of social media, including the use of live-streaming, provides the anti-petroleum movement the ability to by-pass the traditional news networks, to control and craft its message, and to promote a one-sided version of the actual events, leading to broadly based anti-petroleum opposition.” (emphasis added). So while you're watching Steve furiously waving his C-51Jihadi puppethand about, keep a closer eye on what his other C-51 oilhand is doing.

Apologies for not posting from the original RCMP docs - neither the G&M nor Greenpeace have released them. When they do, I'll amend the post.

Western Crusaders and Noble Violence. . .

kirbycairo - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 07:56
Defining complex social phenomena is always a convoluted problem. Of course in the 'post-modern' era, where language games and linguistic subtitles are the life-blood of philosophy, definitions themselves become problematical. The very best work of modern philosophers like Derrida, Foucault, and Richard Rorty is really all about the problems of definition. But I digress.

Years ago I was at a pub with a friend who was a PhD student in sociology and who was writing his dissertation on the subject of cults in Britain. Being intellectually mischievous, I claimed that any distinctions between religions and cults were really just arbitrary and a matter of convenience. This led to considerable anger on his part because his entire PhD career hinged, in a sense, on his ability to make this distinction. But after a long conversion my friend had not, in my opinion, done anything to convince me that such distinctions are not, ultimately, driven by some underlying ideological purpose. In the final analysis, distinguishing between a cult and a religion is an exercise in arbitrariness. But these are the kinds of issues that you will very seldom see discussed in any kind of mainstream media. The failure on the part of the MSM is, in part, due to a fairly simple lack of intellectual capacity on the part of both the mainstream writers and broadcasters, and the North American audience. On the other hand, in Europe, and most particularly in France, you will see in-depth, philosophically sophisticated arguments in popular, widely circulated newspapers. Frighteningly, in Canada Rex Murphy seems to qualify as an intellectual.

I bring this up, of course, because of recent events in Halifax where the police allegedly thwarted a plot to commit a mass-shooting. The hapless Justice Minister Peter MacKay was at pains to clarify the meaning of this alleged conspiracy and told us this - "The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism." This statement offers an interesting change in the definition of 'terrorism' that is commonly used in our popular culture, particularly by the rightwing. By shifting the idea of terrorism away from 'political motivations' to 'cultural motivations,' the Harper government seems to be attempting to bolster their election strategy of being seen as religious crusaders and it contributes to the creation of fear amongst Canadians for 'the other.' By attempting to guide the public discourse away from political aspects of so-called 'terrorism' (as well as the political aspect of Harper's war as an election ploy), the HarperCons can tap into a much deeper and darker aspect of public fear, a fear that those in power have been exploiting since the time of the Crusades.

But there is a bit of cognitive dissonance here because for a very long time the popular definition of 'terrorism' has been overtly tired to politics. In fact, this morning on CBC they had an interview with some sort of 'expert' on the subject (I missed his name and qualifications) of terrorism, and he defined terrorism this way - 'the use of violence by political extremists.' And since the alleged plot in Halifax involved people who have been referred to as 'Neo-Nazis,' these events would be very clearly tied to a common notion of terrorism.

But what is interesting to me here is the degree to which a definition of terrorism can shift according to the political/ideological goals of the speaker, and the way that people are compelled to shift their definition so that they can continually brand others as terrorist while distancing their own efforts from being associated with such a notion. The Harper regime wants to associate terrorism with religious and cultural issues because it feeds their narrative of Canada being at war with a foreign group of religious fanatics. And if we associate a group of Nova Scotian Neo-Nazis with terrorism, that narrative is threatened because it politicizes the discourse. The same kind of problem recently arose in the U.S. where a man killed a three Muslims but was not branded by representatives of the State as a terrorist. It is vitally important for Western Governments to brand violent actions by non-white 'extremists' as terrorism, while avoiding that epithet being used in relation to Western caucasians engaged in the same kinds of violent acts. This is because the 'terrorist' must always be 'the other' in order for the notion to have the power to sway people with fear and make them support a political program of war.

But all of this shifting conceptual ground makes one wonder how do we keep a handle on the uses of the notion of 'terrorism' and of how those uses can influence political discourses and outcomes. Well I think it is actually pretty easy most of the time if we just remember that it is almost always a question of the perceived legitimacy of violence. Terrorism is almost always a label used by people to refer to acts of violence that they believe are illegitimate. A great example from contemporary events is the West's response to the coop in Ukraine. A year ago large numbers of Ukrainians, some of them armed and many of them with ties of fascists and ultra-nationalists, began occupying government buildings and calling for the overthrow of an elected president. Our leaders not only didn't refer to these insurgence as 'terrorists,' but they embraced them as legitimate political activists. However, if large numbers of Canadians, some of them armed, occupied the buildings on Parliament Hill and called for the overthrow of Harper they would be roundly referred to as terrorists and treated accordingly by our government. The Israeli government, with one of the most powerful militaries in the world, has been stealing Palestinian land for over half a century, bulldozing Palestinian homes, killing and imprisoning Palestinian people. But no Western leader has ever referred to the Israelis as terrorists for such acts. On the other hand, any act of violence perpetrated by Palestinians against Israel or other Western nations is continually referred to as terrorism. The distinction is solely one of perceived legitimacy. Terrorism is not really a thing in the world, rather it is a conceptual political tool used by leaders and political commentators to de-legitimize certain acts, and by association to legitimize other acts. The U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was not defensive and resulted in the deaths of around 500 thousand innocent civilians will never be referred to as an act of terrorism by Western leaders.

While we listen to our political leaders continually refer to acts by foreigners or so-called 'home-grown' religious extremists as terrorism, while referring to our own, often indiscriminate and usually ideologically motivated, acts of mass violence as nobel, just remember the issue of perceived legitimacy and think about the agenda of the speaker.

And For Those Who Think Bill C-51 Is A Good Thing

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 06:21
Think again.
The RCMP has labelled the “anti-petroleum” movement as a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security, raising fears among environmentalists that they face increased surveillance, and possibly worse, under the Harper government’s new terrorism legislation.
In highly charged language that reflects the government’s hostility toward environmental activists, an RCMP intelligence assessment warns that foreign-funded groups are bent on blocking oil sands expansion and pipeline construction, and that the extremists in the movement are willing to resort to violence.The report, dated January 24, 2014, was obtained by Greenpeace and uses the kind of language one would expect from a police force that has become deeply politicized.

[M]ilitants and violent extremists who are opposed to society’s reliance on fossil fuels, and violent environmental extremists are but two of the phrases that should give all of us pause.

The RCMP issued their usual disclaimers, averring that they do not surveil peaceful groups. Said RCMP spokesman Sergeant Greg Cox:
“There is no focus on environmental groups, but rather on the broader criminal threats to Canada’s critical infrastructure. The RCMP does not monitor any environmental protest group. Its mandate is to investigate individuals involved in criminality.”Yet, perhaps tellingly,
... Sgt. Cox would not comment on the tone of the January, 2014, assessment that suggests opposition to resource development runs counter to Canada’s national interest and links groups such as Greenpeace, Tides Canada and the Sierra Club to growing militancy in the “anti-petroleum movement.”For a force whose mandate is public safety, the report veers into areas that can only be described as economic and political:
The report extolls the value of the oil and gas sector to the Canadian economy, and adds that many environmentalists “claim” that climate change is the most serious global environmental threat, and “claim” it is a direct consequence of human activity and is “reportedly” linked to the use of fossil fuels. It echoes concerns first raised by Finance Minister Joe Oliver that environmental groups are foreign-funded and are working against the interests of Canada by opposing development.
Just coincidence that the language echos that of Joe Oliver?
“This document identifies anyone who is concerned about climate change as a potential, if not actual – the lines are very blurry – ‘anti-petroleum extremist’ looking to advance their ‘anti-petroleum ideology,’” said Keith Stewart, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace.Greenpeace, and the rest of us, should be very, very concerned.

Are these the faces of the new terrorists?
Recommend this Post

It Will Be About Getting Out The Vote

Northern Reflections - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 05:56


Canada faces what the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas called a "legitimation crisis." Duncan Campbell writes:

Simply put, many Canadians no longer believe that power being exercised in their name is rightful. The political system as a whole is no longer believed to work.

When in 1993 Canadians voted massively to throw out the Conservatives, it was expected that changes would ensue. Instead the Chrétien-Martin Liberals continued with the same economic policies introduced by the Conservatives.

Disillusioned with political outcomes, people give up, and declare a pox on all political parties. The abstention rate in federal elections has been running in the 40 per cent range.
Stephen Harper understands how to turn the crisis in his direction:

The people who stay home multiply the strength of Conservatives who tend to turn up and vote. The 25/60 rule says that if 25 per cent of eligible voters vote Conservative, and only 60 per cent of the population bothers to vote, the Conservatives win 40 per cent of the total vote and over one-half of the seats in Parliament.
His base hovers around 30%. As long as they vote -- and other voters stay home -- Harper will own the cat bird seat. So he keeps delivering for his base:

The Harper government target their political base constantly. No government in Canadian history has focused every action on pleasing about 35 per cent of the population and ignoring the rest of us. This is the essence of Harperism.

The legitimacy of the government and what it does is not questioned by the Cons' supporters. They get fed what they want. Tough on terrorists, check. Lower taxes, check. Cutbacks to social spending, check. But for significant numbers of Canadians, the Harper Cons lost their legitimacy as a government by following a narrow ideological agenda.
The next election will be all about how well the opposition parties get out the vote. If they offer a kinder gentler version of Harperism, the votes need to defeat Mr. Harper will stay home.

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 05:42
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tessa Jowell writes that we need to treat inequality as a disease which can be cured through effective public policy, but the Star points out that the Cons have instead gone out of their way to make it worse. Fair Vote Canada interviews J. Peter Venton about the toxic effect of inequality on our political system. And Sean McElwee notes that in the U.S. at least, the right has managed to turn the middle and working classes against exactly the type of redistribution which best serves their interests.

- Yanis Varoufakis argues that it's long past time to start ensuring that our decisions about public policy are made with the interests of people in mind, rather than being based solely on calculations as to what elites can get away with:
The trouble with game theory, as I used to tell my students, is that it takes for granted the players’ motives. In poker or blackjack this assumption is unproblematic. But in the current deliberations between our European partners and Greece’s new government, the whole point is to forge new motives. To fashion a fresh mind-set that transcends national divides, dissolves the creditor-debtor distinction in favor of a pan-European perspective, and places the common European good above petty politics, dogma that proves toxic if universalized, and an us-versus-them mind-set.
As finance minister of a small, fiscally stressed nation lacking its own central bank and seen by many of our partners as a problem debtor, I am convinced that we have one option only: to shun any temptation to treat this pivotal moment as an experiment in strategizing and, instead, to present honestly the facts concerning Greece’s social economy, table our proposals for regrowing Greece, explain why these are in Europe’s interest, and reveal the red lines beyond which logic and duty prevent us from going....
How do we know that our modest policy agenda, which constitutes our red line, is right in Kant’s terms? We know by looking into the eyes of the hungry in the streets of our cities or contemplating our stressed middle class, or considering the interests of hard-working people in every European village and city within our monetary union. After all, Europe will only regain its soul when it regains the people’s trust by putting their interests center-stage.- Dean Baker observes that political figures still pushing austerity even in the face of compelling evidence of failure should be considered the economic equivalent of creationists. And Louis-Philippe Rochon argues from a Canadian perspective that we're headed for even more severe economic trouble if we keep putting up with contractionary fiscal policy.

- Mark Schmitt discusses how supplementary public contributions might help to rein in the disproportionate influence of the wealthy in U.S. politics. But it's worth noting that Canada had a superior version of the same type of policy in the form of the per-vote funding eliminated by the Harper Cons.

- Janice Dickson looks into the background of the Halifax shooting plot. And Derrick O'Keefe sees Peter MacKay's response as yet another example of the Cons' politicizing issues of public safety, while Gary Shaul writes about the Cons' willingness to downplay violent extremism as long as it comes from their type of violent extremists.

- Finally, Rafe Mair worries that the politics of fear might well succeed - particularly if opposition parties and the media fail in their job of challenging the Cons' fearmongering. And while Karl Nerenberg may be right in recognizing some political risk in actually doing that job, I'd think there's even more to be lost if nobody takes it on.

The Harper Regime and the Terrorist Game

Montreal Simon - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 01:10

Even by the low standards of Peter Dumbo MacKay, I thought it was bizarre when he  claimed that a plot to commit a mass slaughter in Halifax was not linked to terrorism. 

"What I can tell you is that this appeared to be a group of murderous misfits that were coming here or were living here and prepared to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community," he asserted at a news conference.

"The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism," he said.

Especially since the Criminal Code states that terrorism is “politically, religiously or ideologically-motivated,” and makes no mention of cultural motivations.

But at least now I have a better idea go what that hapless Con stooge was trying to say:

It's not terrorism if it isn't the Muslims, it's just the neo-nazis. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper"s Outrageous Assault on Radio Canada

Montreal Simon - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 20:57

We know how much Stephen Harper hates the CBC. We know how he has slashed its budget, until it's swimming in its own blood.

We know what he recently said about it:

"First we’re going to get them on their knees and then we’re going to restructure them.”

But now he has taken aim at Radio-Canada, and made a huge and possibly fatal mistake. 
Read more »

On alternative explanations

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 18:29
In 2011, one of the turning points in Canada's federal election campaign (at least in determining which party would form the Official Opposition) came when voters learned about Michael Ignatieff's refusal to show up for work in the House of Commons.

One might have expected the Libs' next leader to avoid leaving himself open to the same criticism. One would have been wrong.

But tonight, we may have seen Justin Trudeau's answer to the same point in 2015:

"Of course I don't show up to Parliament. Why bother when my party can't remember what it's supposed to do there anyway?"

Don't Canadians Deserve Better Than This?

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 16:27

Dear Demagogue (a.k.a. Stephen Harper) is out and about sowing his usual hateful divisiveness:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says "a lot" of Radio-Canada employees "hate" conservative values.

Harper says those values that are loathed by many employees of CBC's French-language network are the same ones that he says are supported by a large number of Quebecers.

Harper made the comments during a French-language interview with Quebec City radio station FM93, conducted last Friday and aired today.

His remarks were described as "petty" by an NDP MP.Pay no attention to this little man. He does not speak for the majority of Canadians.Recommend this Post

Thwarted Valentine Day Massacre In Halifax Not Politically or Culturally Motivated?

Anti-Racist Canada - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 13:21

When we learned about the arrests in Halifax related to a planned killing spree to have taken place on February 14, we thought we would take a look to see how the folks on Stormfront would respond. And as expected, they figured that it was in some way related to Islam.
And of course the Jews, because you know.... why not?
It's important to note that by the time this Stormfront thread had been started, it was already pretty clear that the incident had nothing to do with Islam. In fact, according to the Justice Minister, the two who were arrested and charged, as well as the one who was found dead in his home, had no ideological motive at all. Peter MacKay suggested they were just a bunch of "misfits" but that as their motives were not, "culturally-based" that it therefor was not a, "terrorist event."
Aside from the semantics (after all, planning on killing a large number of people in a public location strikes us as as being an act of terrorism in and of itself even if devoid of a purely political or cultural motivation), there is a lot of reason to call into question the claims that there was no ideological motive:
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Harper's Ace in the Hole for Election Victory in 2015? - Thomas Mulcair

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 12:02

Coming from anyone but Murray Dobbin, this might have New Democrats up in arms, howling with indignation.  The decidedly progressive journalist, contributor to The Tyee and Rabble, diagnoses just what the Mulcair NDP could be about to inflict on Canada - the end of our progressive hopes.

Unless something changes, come election time there will be two battles: the Harper Conservatives will be running to win, and the NDP and Liberals will be fighting their own private war. It is a recipe for disaster for the country.

The conversations that lead the NDP to this apparent abandonment of the country's best interests clearly take place strictly within the confines of the party bureaucracy. Because if the party's brainiacs actually talked to its supporters, members and progressive Canadians in general, it would know just how terrified people are of the prospect of another Harper majority.

The divide between the NDP leadership's thinking and the political sentiment of its potential supporters has never been greater. This disturbing disconnect suggests that unlike the majority of Canadians who are almost paralyzed by fear and loathing regarding the future of their country, those who run the NDP simply aren't driven by the same fear. Effectively, they care more about their party than they do about their country. It begs the question of whether a progressive party can even make a legitimate claim to the title if the people who run it actually care less about their country than the average citizen does.

Of course the same and worse can be said of the Liberals but nothing more can be expected of them. They are a party of big business, committed to the (ever-worsening) status quo with a long history of appealing to Canadians progressive instincts during elections while dutifully serving the interests of the economic elite.

...These are decidedly not normal times. For the first time in our history we actually have a government that is committed to dismantling the best aspects of our country.

That cries out for an extraordinary response. And if the NDP can't propose an accord of some kind based on principle (let's see if the Liberals have the jam to refuse) then why not do it based on opportunism? It would hardly be a departure given its myriad compromises over the years (and its opportunistic defeat of the Liberals in 2006, handing Harper power). Oddly, the NDP claims to want power yet demonstrates with its intransigence on co-operation with the Liberals that it is not actually serious.

It is obvious to all progressive Canadians that if either the Liberals or the Conservatives win a majority the country is in deep trouble. The Liberals will not commit themselves to reversing all the damage done by Harper. They are interested in power for the sake of it and would happily administer the status quo inherited from the Conservatives.

Dobbin's remarks raise an important, albeit tangential question.  Is there any room for progressives within the Liberal tent as it stands today?  If there is, I can't see it.  In my view, Liberal progressivism is a hollow affectation.  That Liberal Party is a thing of the past and there's neither the interest or will to resurrect it.  Today's Liberal Party under Justin is not the Liberal Party of Pierre. It's a diminished thing, dried up and technocratic.

What I'd like to see is a Liberal-NDP coalition just strong enough to bring in some form of proportional representation.  One term, that's all we would need. After that they can go at each other hammer and tong while the rest of us can bring the Green Party to a position of effective influence.


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