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A closer look at the CRTC Voter Contact Registry

Creekside - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 04:37
The Fair Elections Act mandated the first ever Voter Contact Registry. Phone-bank companies, candidates, political parties and third party groups hiring an outside company to make live and robo calls had 48 hours from the start of their use in a campaign to register with the CRTC. Parties and candidates making their own in house calls were not required to register. The DoNotCall list does not apply to political calls.
This same Fair Elections Act prevented release of the list til a month after the election. This meant voters were unable to check it to see if the calls they were receiving were legitimately registered with the CRTC - not that it would have mattered in the case of Pierre Poutine in the last election as he hid his use anyway.
The CRTC list was published a week ago: "A total of 1460 registrations have been filed to the CRTC for the 42nd General Election, including 554 from calling service providers and 906 from other persons or groups."So taking a quick look ... CRTC lists each candidate and the phone services they used so I added the names up and crossed off duplicate use of a company by the same candidate. Many individual candidates listed several companies used more than once.

At first glance, the list appears to be one long list of Con MP names :
118 Con candidates used Responsive Marketing Group (RMG), for live calls92 Cons used ElectRight for live/robo calls or both, Bergen, Clement, Raitt, Nicholson, and Scheer among them.38 Cons used Nik Kouvalis' Campaign Research/Campaign Support for live/robocalls or both, including Harper, Poilievre, Oliver, Alexander, Rempel, Leitch, O'Toole, Lukiwski  But First Contactwhich told CBC that in the 2011 election it "provided services to more than 80 Liberal candidates", is listed on CRTC's 2015 Voter Contact Registry simply as 
"First Contact (Ontario 1999) - Liberal candidates"No names or numbers so we don't know how many Liberals signed up with them for how many calling contracts this time.

Likewise NGP VAN, a Washington DC company used by Obama in 2012, is just listed as having done robocalls for "Liberal Party of Canada candidates" and live calls for "Liberal Party of Canada", so again ... no idea how many Libs used NGP VAN (Voter Action Network).

I wonder on what grounds the CRTC allowed NGP VAN and First Contact off the hook about their specific use in a list that is supposed to be about public disclosure. 
Glen McGregor writes : Compared to their rivals, Tories used a whack more telephone contact firms during the election
but I don't think we can know that if the candidates and numbers for two big firms are missing.

Onwards ...
127 Liberals used Prime Contact IncOnly 4 Cons used RackNine this time round, Jason Kenney being most notable.5 NDP candidates used Strategic Communications. This appears to comprise the entire extent of reported NDP phone campaigning for individual candidates. There were another 4 for the NDP Party at large. The bulk of Strategic Comm users were third party groups like unions, Greenpeace, and Council of Canadians.And lastly, a brief look at Blue Direct, new to me and used by Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, and 10 other Cons for both live and robo calls according to the CRTC list. 
In his 2014 book, Winning Power: Canadian Campaigning in the Twenty-First Century, Tom Flanagan writes Blue Direct is owned by a former student of his, Matt Gelinas, formerly of RMG and the Manning Centre. 
Gelinas' partner at Blue Direct is Richard Dur, a Morton Blackwell Leadership Institute alumnus, seen here being honoured as Leadership Institute graduate of the week in 2011 :
“LI graduate and Canadian Member of Parliament Rob Anders said it well when he described LI training as ‘taking a drink from a fire hose,’” Richard said..

Why Justin Trudeau Should Fire the RCMP Commissioner

Montreal Simon - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 02:05

When the RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson was working for the Con regime, I couldn't help feeling that he was turning the force into the Harper Police.

Or help wondering whether he was willingly collaborating with that sinister mob, or whether like so many others he was being held hostage by them, and their depraved leader Boss Harper. 

And was suffering from the so-called Stockholm syndrome.

I still can't decide what the real reason was, but one thing is for sure, Paulson just doesn't get it.
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Reason is probably out the door in Turkey

Metaneos - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 16:12
Turkey's been pissed with Russia for some time. Ostensibly over Russian bombing of Turkmen settlements in Syria. Others claim it may have to do with Russian bombing of illegal oil smuggling chains, or possibly illegal arms trade.
Who knows the reason? I don't. What I can say, though, is the reason probably doesn't even matter, anymore. It left, long ago, out the front door, possibly to Europe with the flow of refugees.
Turkey downed a Russian jet. They say in defense. Others state in retaliation. Some believe it was a warning. Russia has claimed it to be a stab in the back.
Now, Russia's pissed off with Turkey. Overnight, they've halted trade with Turkey. They've pressed their nation's agencies to suspend trips to Turkey. They recalled their minister. And there are rumblings Russia might shut off the gas to Turkey.
And possibly as a warning or threat or retaliation, Russia's stepped up their bombing campaign on the Turkey-Syrian border, today. Border crossings are the target, apparently. And any military shaped vehicles probably aren't safe once they enter Syria from Turkey. Possibly even civilian shaped vehicles, either. Safer to remain in Turkey, today, and probably for the foreseeable future. Russia's also announced they're bringing in their best weaponry into Syria.
Today's a crazy day. Been spending the afternoon reading news and opinions nonstop trying to gleam even just a sliver of new information, trying my best to separate the bullshit from the actual information.
What can I say? All I know for sure is Russia is probably prepared to go to war with Turkey, possibly even NATO. Hold your breath, people. Not even one wrong move, today. Even in your livings rooms. And hope our, uh, brave, intrepid leaders don't fuck shit up, today, like they usually do.

PEGIDA Canada and PEGIDA Quebec: Splitters!

Anti-Racist Canada - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 15:09
Funny thing about extreme forms of nationalism. Sometimes people find they are nationalistic about different nationalities:

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Oh Dear. Putin Orders S-400 to Syria

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 09:22

This is rapidly becoming an international knife fight in a phone booth. In reaction to yesterday's downing by Turkish fighters of a Russian Su-24 light bomber and the subsequent shootdown of a Russian search and rescue helicopter, president Vladimir Putin has ordered batteries of S-400 advanced surface to air missiles deployed in range of the Syrian border with Turkey.

The S-400 is widely considered to be the best missile of its kind, better than anything the West fields. The system can detect aircraft at 600 km. and engage them at 400 km. or less. In other words, parking S-400 batteries about 50 km. from Turkey's border gives the Russians heavy anti-aircraft coverage deep into Turkish territory.

It's unknown just yet whether the S-400s will be deployed within threat range of coalition strike aircraft operating against ISIS.

Talented Putin

LeDaro - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 08:50

Turkey downing Russian jet

LeDaro - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 08:11

Europe is distancing itself from Turkey, it looks a reckless action by Turkey in shooting down the Russian plane. It has potential implications because Turkey is a NATO country.

Vladimir Putin is a ruthless dictator, but he is very clever and crafty. That was clear in a Fifth Estate documentary on his career. One can view Putin as a successful dictator.

Putin will push the envelope, on Ukraine for example, but is careful not to go too far. He is cautious. It is hoped that he will be cautious regarding Turkey. It is expected that he be careful and will avoid the outbreak of a wider conflict over this.

Mulcair, you loser, get the hell out of Dodge

Metaneos - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 08:05
Tom Mulcair vows he will stay on as leader of NDP
It's probably fair to call Mulcair out as possibly the second worst leader in the NDP's history. And there's been some pretty bad leaders since McLaughlin, arguably the NDP's worst.
To be fair, the NDP's probably dead. The ideals of yesterday are buried, and the leadership group is filled with career pols and exiled neo-libs.
It's time to kick these fuckers out of the party. Start with Mulcair, and work our way down the list. Get some backbone into the party. Get some real heart.
Neo-liberalism is dead. It's a failed idealogy. It's ruined lives, worldwide, and enriches none but those already rich and powerful.
And of the two dead entities, I trust the NDP could rise again. But it's time to stop buying the snake oil hucksters like Mulcair have been selling.
Power is only important if you have heart. Power for its own sake is corrupting. This has been known for millennia, and still we allowed ourselves to be led astray.
Get the hell out of Dodge, Mulcair.

And Speaking Of Perspective

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 07:49
...along with xenophobia, bigotry and demagoguery, the folks at Fox News would seem to be quite ignorant about their country's own history.

Here is a timely festive reminder of that history for those soon to be celebrating American Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving is a refugee’s narrative. The first Thanksgiving (or at least, the event we now remember as Thanksgiving) was celebrated in 1621 at the Plymouth Plantation colony in modern-day Massachusetts. It was attended by both native inhabitants and newcomers—the latter having fled England, by way of the Low Countries, due to religious persecution.

Syrian refugees today are fleeing warfare and the political oppression of both a secular dictatorship and an extremist theocracy. But in attempting to find safe haven in the United States—a country that owes a great deal of its success to immigrants, from all over the world—they are now being met with persecution in another form.What is that special persecution? This clip from Fox says it all:

Although the above commentators might be viewed as egregious examples of a failed U.S. education system, they are at least providing reassurance to their special audience, who no doubt take great solace knowing that such giants are on the job and protecting Americans' interests.

My favourite line from the clip?
“It is always interesting to listen to a condescending British person tell you about colonialism,” co-host Dana Perino said. “The British were so much better at colonialism than the Pilgrims.”Recommend this Post

Thorough Corruption

Northern Reflections - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 06:34

Like Junior, Red Skelton's mean little kid, Stephen Harper's avowed purpose in life has been to throw a wrench into the workings of government. He remained true to form -- even as he was leaving -- making 49 re-appointments and future appointments, whose purpose was to hamstring the incoming government. Alan Freeman writes:

The 49 appointments, including renewals and new appointments, have effectively blocked the newly-elected government from determining the future course of key agencies like the National Energy Board. In one remarkable case of chutzpah, the government renewed in advance the term of Canada Post’s CEO, Deepak Chopra, until 2021 — even though Chopra was the architect of the Crown corporation’s decision to kill door-to-door mail delivery, a policy opposed by both the Liberals and the NDP. (In this case, the Liberals may be able to undo the appointment because it was made “at pleasure”. Others won’t be so easy.)

Several of the future appointments were made just before the government's mandate ended:

What’s particularly curious about the future appointments is that several of them came down just days before Harper called the federal election in early August, at which point the so-called “caretaker convention” came into effect. That convention calls on the outgoing government to show restraint in its exercise of power during an election campaign, and to not do anything controversial. Knowing that the convention was about to come into effect, the government rushed ahead regardless with its future appointments — surely knowing that it could do it with a wink and a nod from its top bureaucrats.
Harper showed no respect whatever for parliamentary conventions. But he couldn't have accomplished what he did without the clear collaboration of senior public servants:

It’s clear that many deputy ministers, each holding their jobs at the pleasure of the PM and reporting to a Privy Council clerk equally beholden to Harper, have spent a decade conveniently ignoring their duty to serve the government and people of Canada. Many have known no other government and may now suddenly find themselves a loss when actually asked for real advice, let alone being forced to speak “truth to power”.
Harper's parting appointments are a reminder of how thoroughly he corrupted the civil service.

Putting Things Into Perspective

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 05:43
The bigoted backlash against Muslims in light of the recent ISIS attacks is given short shrift by This Hour Has 22 Minutes:

Should the time come when we no longer have a sense of humour, we will know that the terrorists have won.Recommend this Post

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 04:43
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Ball talks to Joseph Stiglitz about inequality and its causes - including the spread of corporate control through trade agreements:
What would you say is the dominant cause [of growing inequality]?

The weak economy, partly associated with austerity, has led to a weak labour market. The official unemployment rates don't indicate the real weaknesses. In the U.S. there's a huge amount of disguised unemployment -- people who have dropped out of the labour force or are working part time. That's why wages have stagnated.

You saw that so vividly in the three years at the beginning of our so-called "recovery," from 2009 to 2012, when 91 per cent of all the gains went to the top one per cent. That's obviously a huge increase in inequality... African-Americans, Hispanics, low-income Americans, and high school graduates have not recovered. You might say it's been a lopsided recovery.

The recession was really bad for the poor. They lost their jobs and lost their homes. But even before that, you saw really significant increases in inequality in an economy that was supposedly performing very well. So [the cause of inequality] is beyond just austerity.
A number of trade deals passed by Canada -- the TPP and the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China that we're locked into for 31 years, for example -- are seen in traditional economics as the gold standard.

The TPP is a very bad agreement that will increase inequality. Inequality isn't just about income -- it's also about standards of living. There are several [worrying] provisions. The worst is the investment agreement provision, which effectively restricts the ability [of states] to regulate and protect health, safety, the environment, even economic regulations important for stability. These are things that are particularly important to ordinary citizens. The regulations are meant to protect our society. - And Blayne Haggart notes that the intellectual property provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership represent a new - and particularly dangerous - form of protectionism in favour of the businesses who already have the most.

- Marc Lee offers his twelve-point plan for a federal government wanting to get serious about climate change.

- Craig Scott discusses both the opportunity we have to push for meaningful electoral reform, and the danger that the Libs will see fit to gum up the works to protect the system which led to their own false majority. And Elizabeth Thompson reports on just one more of the many absurdities of handing over unfettered executive power based on a modest minority of votes, as the Cons were able to lock in a large number of long-term patronage appointments which will last for multiple terms of government to come.

- Finally, Susana Mas reports on the NDP's work to make sure the Libs don't turn away refugees in the name of political convenience and a false claim to security concerns. But unfortunately, the Libs haven't taken long in backtracking from even their core promises.

How To Blow Up Stephen Harper's Patronage Appointments

Montreal Simon - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 03:49

In the last desperate weeks before he was crushed and humiliated, Stephen Harper,  must have thought it was a brilliant move. 

One that would ensure his insane policies of Total Oily Domination would continue even if he was defeated.

He would stack the board of directors of the National Energy Board with patronage appointments, and make sure they could not be replaced until after the next election.

And since he knew that NEB directors can only be removed after a vote in the Commons and the Con Senate, he must have thought that Justin Trudeau wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

But sadly for Harper he's wrong.
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Because I Stumbled upon This Just Before BedTime

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 00:17

And, because, as today's events in Syria gave us a glimpse into how easily this all could unravel, it's just a tad therapeutic. It gets your mind off Sarajevo.

Topham: A Brief Reprieve

Anti-Racist Canada - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 19:34
We learned today that, despite Arthur Topham's hate crimes conviction, his website will remain available online and that he can continue publishing his screeds at least until sentencing takes place in the new year.

Paulie is pleased as punch:

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We're all People Under the Same Sky

Fat and Not Afraid - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 12:13

Generally if I'm going to be political it's for body or feminist reasons, things that hit close to home for me. Since this summer, however, when I started reading about how many refugees are in the world, especially from Syria, home has become a bit bigger. My activist home is larger to make room for the millions of displaced people in the world.

I've moved a LOT in the last few years. Not having a home to call my own, having to leave one that I loved, again and again, was painful. It's not as painful as this, of leaving home because it's dangerous; leaving filled with desperation. Few things are, except maybe the loss of a child. And then there was that photo of the little boy on the beach in Greece, face towards the waves in the way no living person's would be. His mother and brother are dead too, but his photo will live on in infamy of what we do to each other in the name of power, greed and hate. I can see him in my mind's eye, clear as day, and I hope I do for the rest of my life. I hope everyone who saw his photos remembers him and tries to do better, to BE better, to their fellow humans. We're all in this together on our little blue dot. Try not to forget that in face of irrational fear of people who are different from you. They're not, really. They just want a home again.

"HOME," by Somali poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.

by Somali poet, Warsan Shire


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