Posts from our progressive community

Oh, This Is Rich. Stephen Harper Wants Us to Listen to Scientists.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:04


"get the facts from the ...scientific community, and if you're not a ...scientist yourself, listen to the people who are. It's that simple."
You heard it right, straight from the lips of Stephen Joseph Harper.  Get the facts from the scientific community and, if you're not a scientist yourself, listen to the people who are.  Who could argue with that sort of logic except, of course, the man who said it, Stephen Harper.
Memo to Steve:  There are many, many scientists who would dearly love to give you oodles of facts so why aren't you listening to them?  We could pack an auditorium with top scientists in fields such as climatology, meteorology, hydrology, atmospherics, biology, botany, oceanography, glaciation, geology, chemistry, medicine and epidemiology, and many, many more scientific disciplines who would love to explain to you things like climate change, and the host of imminent threats it poses to our country - if only you would listen.  
You put it perfectly, Mr. prime minister:  "But we have a responsibility to set an example, for God's sake. ...And as an advanced, educated society, it's completely irresponsible of people in this society to communicate anything other than that anywhere else in the world."

So, for God's sake (as you put it, Steve) get the facts, listen to the scientists and act on their advice.  Do it Steve - or the cat gets it.

Maybe When Obama is Finished Mauling Netanyahu He Could Give Us a Hand With Harper

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:59
It's widely thought that Barack Obama is working to engineer regime change in Israel.  He's had a snootful of Benjamin Netanyahu and his underhanded ways and, in the process, confirms that the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him and fight back.

But wait.  We've got a bully boy here too, one every bit as devious and manipulative as the Israeli prime minister.  What's more, as a people, Canadians really like Obama - and by a good measure more than we like Stephen Harper.

Harper has been a pain in the White House backside over the Keystone XL pipeline, regularly crossing the line to cajole and embarrass the president.  Add to that Harper is just about the only head of government still in bed with his Israeli counterpart.

So, c'mon Barack.  Make like a good neighbour.  We need regime change too.  Is that too much to ask?

When the Taps Run Dry, Where Do You Go?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:24
Sao Paulo Riots
Imagine telling the residents of Toronto that they have to flee the city and travel elsewhere in search of water.  Well something along those lines may be in store for the millions of residents of Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo.

As south-east Brazil grapples with its worst drought in nearly a century, a problem worsened by polluted rivers, deforestation and population growth, the largest reservoir system serving Sao Paulo is near depletion. Many residents are already enduring sporadic water cut-offs, some going days without it. Officials say that drastic rationing may be needed, with water service provided only two days a week.

Behind closed doors, the views are grimmer. In a meeting recorded secretly and leaked to the local news media, Paulo Massato, a senior official at Sao Paulo's water utility, said that residents might have to be warned to flee because "there's not enough water, there won't be water to bathe, to clean" homes.

"We're witnessing an unprecedented water crisis in one of the world's great industrial cities", said Marussia Whately, a water specialist at Instituto Socioambiental, a Brazilian environmental group. "Because of environmental degradation and political cowardice, millions of people in Sao Paulo are now wondering when the water will run out."

For some in this traffic-choked megacity of futuristic skyscrapers, gated communities and sprawling slums, the slow-burning crisis has already meant no running water for days on end.

...Experts say the origins of the crisis go beyond the recent drought to include an array of interconnected factors: the city's surging population growth in the 20th century; a chronically leaky system that spills vast amounts of water before it can reach homes; notorious pollution in the Tiete and Pinheiros rivers traversing the city (their aroma can induce nausea in passers-by); and the destruction of surrounding forests and wetlands that have historically soaked up rain and released it into reservoirs.

Deforestation in the Amazon River basin, hundreds of kilometres away, may also be adding to Sao Paulo's water crisis. Cutting the forest reduces its capacity to release humidity into the air, diminishing rainfall in southeast Brazil, according to a recent study by one of the country's leading climate scientists.

Officials also point to global warming. "Climate change has arrived to stay", Geraldo Alckmin, the governor of Sao Paulo state, said in February. "When it rains, it rains too much, and when there's drought, it's way too dry."

Imagine going three days at a stretch without fresh water.  The UN calculates we need 20-liters a day just for basic hydration, cooking and sanitation.   Studies have found that we in the developed world use the toilet about 5-times daily which consumes 34-liters per day for low-flow toilets up to 72-liters per day for older toilets (some are much higher).  That makes it pretty tough for a family living in a high-rise apartment to just meet their basic sanitation needs unless everyone starts emptying their chamber pots over the balcony.  
Protesters Swarm RioUnrest is building as would be expected, anti-government riots breaking out every now and then in Sao Paulo, Rio and more than 100-other Brazillian towns and cities.. 20-million people can't live this way.  How do you relocate many millions of internally displaced people?  Where do they go?  Where will they find services and housing much less jobs and schools and everything else that supports modern life?  
Brazil may become the poster child for this sort of First World problem.  And the Third World is also reeling from water shortages.
When Khawaja Muhammad Asif, [Pakistan's] Minister of Defense, Power, and Water (yes, that is one ministry), warned that the country’s chronic water shortages could soon become uncontrollable, he was looking on the bright side. The meagre allotment of water available to each Pakistani is a third of what it was in 1950 . As the country’s population rises, that amount is falling fast.

...Nowhere, however, is the situation more acute than in Brazil, particularly for the twenty million residents of São Paulo. “You have all the elements for a perfect storm, except that we don’t have water,” a former environmental minister told Lizzie O’Leary, in a recent interview for the syndicated radio show “Marketplace.” The country is bracing for riots. “There is a real risk of social convulsion,” José Galizia Tundisi, a hydrologist with the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, warned in a press conference last week. He said that officials have failed to act with appropriate urgency. “Authorities need to act immediately to avoid the worst.” But people rarely act until the crisis is directly affecting them, and at that point it will be too late.

Feeding a planet with nine billion residents will require at least fifty per cent more water in 2050 than we use today. It is hard to see where that water will come from. Half of the planet already lives in urban areas, and that number will increase along with the pressure to supply clean water.

...The result of continued inaction is clear. Development experts, who rarely agree on much, all agree that water wars are on the horizon. That would be nothing new for humanity. After all, the word “rivals” has its roots in battles over water—coming from the Latin, rivalis, for “one taking from the same stream as another.” It would be nice to think that, with our complete knowledge of the physical world, we have moved beyond the limitations our ancestors faced two thousand years ago. But the truth is otherwise; rivals we remain, and the evidence suggests that, until we start dying of thirst, we will stay that way.


Netanyahu's High-Risk Gambit

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:36
What?  I Stepped In What?
With just three weeks to go, Israel's national election has turned into a real nail-biter.  The governing Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu is in a dead heat tie with the rival Zionist Union party, each of which stands to collect 24-seats according to the latest polls.  Of course it's not all that simple.  With 11-parties expected to meet the 4-seat party threshhold, forming a government coalition really is a matter of herding cats.

Being tied for first isn't an enviable position for Netanyahu's Likud, not when the prime minister is about to stage his potentially explosive appearance before a far-less-than-joint session of the US Congress.  Many Democrats are expected to boycott the speech which is seen as an effort by Netanyahu to undermine the White House.  That's worrisome to voters in Israel who hate to see anything that harms Israel's relationship with Washington.  Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden are giving Bibi the cold shoulder.  He won't be received at the White House and Biden won't attend the speech although he's the president of the Senate.

Some of Israel's strongest Democratic supporters tried to reach out to Netanyahu, offering to arrange a separate meeting but Netanyahu returned the snub and rejected their offer.  That'll go over - not well - either on Capitol Hill or in Israel.

The White House is fighting back:

The Obama administration has engineered a series of highly visible snubs of Netanyahu – from refusing a White House invitation and levelling accusations that the Israeli government is not trustworthy to a humiliating leak about new limitations on intelligence sharing – just weeks before the Israeli leader faces a tight general election.Top administration officials, including Vice-President Joe Biden and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, have made a point of meeting Israeli opposition leaders who have seized on the dispute to characterise Netanyahu as jeopardising relations with Israel’s most important ally.Aaron David Miller, who served six US secretaries of state as an adviser on Arab-Israeli negotiations, said the confrontation marks a further deterioration in an already dysfunctional relationship between Obama and Netanyahu. But Miller, who is now a vice-president at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, said the Israeli leader’s divisive handling has handed the administration an opening “to try to demonstrate how much the US-Israeli relationship is dysfunctional at the top because of Netanyahu” and an opportunity to press for “regime change”....Last week, the White House made an unusually direct attack on the Israeli government, accusing it of dishonesty in selectively leaking information about the Iran nuclear talks to the Israeli press in an attempt to discredit the negotiations.“We see that there is a continued practice of cherry-picking specific pieces of information and using them out of context to distort the negotiating position of the United States,” said the White House spokesman, Josh Earnest. “There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterising our negotiating position have not been accurate.”That led the US not only to take the unusual step of limiting the intelligence it shares with Israel about the Iran talks but to embarrass Netanyahu by leaking the move.Bibi's credibility took another body blow with the leak of documents showing that Netanyahu has been dishonest about the state of Iran's nuclear programme.  The focus has been on his appearance before the UN General Assembly when he claimed that Iran was on the cusp of production of nuclear weapons.  He used a red marker pen to show that Iran was all but ready to go nuke.
Bibi's problem is that even Israel's own and highly-respected intelligence service, Mossad, has a much different opinion.  Mossad's assessment is that Iran is years away from producing a bomb.  In other words, Netanyahu has been freely lying to anyone and everyone about Iran and the imagined threat it poses to Israel.Well, now that he's pissed off Obama and pretty much every other world leader, that leaves Netanyahu with just one unquestioningly loyal friend, Mr. "Bring on Armageddon" himself, Stephen Harper.



Stephen Harper and the Values That Will Destroy Him

Montreal Simon - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:14


I always knew he was a political thug. I wouldn't have fought him so hard and so long if I didn't think he was the worst Prime Minister this country has ever known.

But now of course he is even worse.

For as Jeffrey Simpson points out, now he is exploiting personal tragedy and making terror his monstrous mantra.
Read more »

On Hatred And Fear

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 05:44


Those of us who follow Canadian federal politics with a critical eye and mind will likely glean nothing new from Carol Goar's article in today's Star, yet it is nonetheless comforting to know that the depredations and demagoguery of Stephen Harper et al. are not being lost on the national press stage.

They hate our values, Goar notes, has become a new tagline in the Harper narrative. He used it on a Richmond Hill audience when talking about terrorists.

He used it when talking in Quebec about employees of Radio Canada.

He had his pull toy, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, use it in Washington.

As Goar points out, the language is all of a piece, to be placed alongside of past gems used against those who dare question Harper policy: imprecations such as 'soft on terrorism,' 'Taliban Jack', 'siding with child pornographers' all attest to the manifest unworthiness of this regime to lead Canada.

The sinister effect of such language is extensive, as Goar points out:
It has already migrated from the realm of terrorism to the practice of journalism. It could easily be applied to pipeline opponents (already branded “environmental terrorists”). It could be used to deport unwanted immigrants or foreign-born citizens (already warned “citizenship is not a right; it’s a privilege”). It could be employed against parliamentarians who challenge the scope and constitutionality of government legislation (already labelled the “black helicopter brigade”).Such demagoguery has other effects as well:
-It yanks out a piece of the national mosaic, subjecting Canada’s 1.1 million Muslims to unwarranted suspicion and drawing a direct link between their religion and terrorism.

-It lowers the standard of political discourse. Canadians don’t normally use words such as hate, despise and abhor in the public arena.

-It precludes rational debate. It is entirely possible that ISIS and its followers are targeting Canada because its warplanes are bombing them in Iraq, not because of its values. But who would dare suggest that in the current us-versus-them atmosphere?

-It legitimizes the kind of discrimination that is surfacing at lower levels of government. In Shawinigan, city councillors blocked an application by local Muslims to build a cultural centre .... Across the country, people who know little about Islam are angrily impugning Muslim women who cover their faces.Being a demagogue is easy. History amply demonstrates this. Real leadership, cultivating the best in people's natures, is long and hard work. The Harper regime is clearly not up to the latter, as it has amply demonstrated time and time again.
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They Own Him

Northern Reflections - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 05:32
                                                   http://pando.com/

It's been a relatively silent coup. The wealthy have successfully bought our political system. If you have doubts, consider two key pieces of Harperian policy -- income splitting and Tax Free Savings Accounts. Both policies amount to robbery of the federal purse. Rhys Kesselman writes:

Income-splitting has been extensively assessed and widely criticized for its revenue cost, its tilt toward higher-income families, and its failure to accomplish anything beneficial for the economy.

Soon the other shoe may drop: The Conservative Party of Canada’s second major tax promise from the last election was to double the contribution limits for Tax-Free Savings Accounts. 
The Conservatives market TFSA's as the salvation of the little man and they now propose to double contribution limits:

Yet doubling the TFSA limits would share the deficiencies of income-splitting as public policy — or even surpass them. It would drain revenues from both federal and provincial treasuries, with deceptively small initial sums adding up to costs far greater than those incurred through income-splitting. The long-run benefits would be far more sharply skewed toward the wealthy and high-earners. And doubling the TFSA limit would not benefit the economy in tangible ways.

Once the existing TFSA provision has fully matured in 40 to 50 years, it’s estimated to cost the federal treasury up to $15.5 billion annually — more than seven times the cost of income splitting. Provincial treasuries were insulated from the revenue impacts of income-splitting; they will not be so lucky with TFSAs, losing up to $9 billion per year when the scheme matures.The government’s vow that TFSAs will never be considered in federal income tests for tax and benefit provisions carries further revenue costs. By mid-century, TFSAs will raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement’s cost by $2.8 billion annually and reduce recovery tax from Old Age Security by $1.2 billion annually. These figures are the official estimates; the sums projected by an independent analyst run far higher.
Stephen Harper argues that the age for Old Age Security must be raised because we don't have the money to pay for it. But he doesn't tell you why the money won't be there.

The wealthy could not ask for a better servant. And they will see that he is properly compensated. They own him.



Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 04:55
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Lee-Anne Goodman reports on studies from both the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PDF) and the Broadbent Institute (PDF) showing that enlarged tax-free savings accounts stand to blow a massive hole in the federal budget while exacerbating inequality. And PressProgress documents and refutes the pitiful response from the right.

- But then, I suppose we shouldn't expect the Cons' actions on TFSA to differ from their usual mismanagement. And Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write that the Cons' tax baubles in general have accomplished nothing useful, while Ricarda Acuna notes that Alberta (as the exemplar of the Cons' low-tax, high-inequality philosophy) is paying a heavy price for a PC government's refusal to collect appropriate revenue or preserve the value of public assets.

- Tim Dickinson writes that Stephen Harper's bluster about "superpower" status has officially fizzled out. And Karl Nerenberg outlines the main themes of the Cons' stay in power - and how they reflect a fundamental clash between Harper's whims and Canadian values.

- Bryce Covert reports on the billions of dollars siphoned out of middle-class retirement funds every year by the U.S.' financial services industry, while also pointing the difficulties in reining in such a lucrative rent-seeking operation. And Bill Black exposes how HSBC's CEO used tax evasion techniques to hide his own pay from his peers (h/t to Cory Doctorow).

- Finally, Tim Harper highlights the irony in the Cons' reliance on the courts to be the sole arbiters as to the validity of CSIS actions up to and including targeted killings when the same government doesn't believe judges are qualified to deliver criminal sentences. And Justin Ling reports on the NDP's efforts to make sure C-51 isn't rammed through Parliament without serious scrutiny, while Kady O'Malley notes that the Cons' plan is to avoid letting experts be heard.

Of Sex Ed and Dickheads...

Dammit Janet - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 18:48
On Monday the Ontario government released its comprehensive Health and Physical Education curriculum for grades 1 through 12, which includes a component on human sexuality.

Some people got sidetracked. This woman opined that her own children are too clever or savvy for the topics addressed. Though Soupcoff is a parent and a non-practicing lawyer, she lacks pedagogical training as well as an understanding of cognitive development-appropriate teaching methods. She also forgets there are adults who flail, fail and suffer from a dearth of basic life skills and knowledge.

Nadine Thornhill read it ALL. And she shared her observations, too.



Our friend Rick at Queer Thoughts also blogged about the new curriculum.

Premier Wynne was subjected to implicit homophobic baiting in the legislature; this is how she responded:
Bravo Kathleen, you go grrrl! we say.



Tuesday a protest against the curriculum was held at Queen's Park, attended by upset parents, religious extremists and an assortment of right-wing nut-job misogynists, homophobes and bigots. 1800 people were expected.  Less than 200 showed up, though the exact number was disputed.  My co-blogger wondered if hundreds of school kids would get bused in, as the Catholics do for the annual March for Lies. They were not.

Speakers demanded that media not portray them as fringe religious zealots, and blamed the media for putting pressure on the government to update the curriculum (last version was 1998, way before mobile devices were available to children).  

Sadly, this is how some protesters expressed their concerns:
and:



Oh, remember (ex)Trustee Sam?  His pathetic, delusional rantings have become testerical.


He appears oblivious to documented facts about pedophilia; namely that 68% of cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by family members.  The curriculum will provide kids with information about being respected and respected - a big part of consent - and what to do if adults transgress their personal boundaries.  Now why would that make Sam anxious?

Here is Nadine Thornhill again, this time providing parents with ways for broaching the issue of consent with their children. Her website is an amazing resource for parents who want to address the topics covered by the Ontario curriculum with their children, in advance of its September 2015 implementation.

And not unconnected to our provincial brouhaha, this happened in the Excited States:



Whoa!  Does someone lacks basic knowledge of the human physiology?  Did Republican politician Vito Barbieri attend creationist abstinence anti-sex ed summer camp? Which led someone to wonder:



As it turns out, Barbieri was only using tactical trickery, adding to the treasure trove of dumb metaphors and analogies (whoops! I said anal) that anti-abortion crusaders deploy: parrots in cages, kidneys, balloons and many many others, as catalogued here by fern hill.
"I was being rhetorical, because I was trying to make the point that equalizing a colonoscopy to this particular procedure was apples and oranges," he said. "So I was asking a rhetorical question that was designed to make her say that they weren't the same thing, and she did so. It was the response I wanted."oookay.

THIS by the way, is a very, very good analogy.  These two sketch the epidemiological effect of anti-sex Ed parents and their children on other families. This one is another take on the harmful consequences of anti-sex Ed, like anti-vaccination believers. 


The last word on Sex Ed (Ed suggestive of Edwardian) belongs to Sir Francis:

The Germans Get It. When Will We?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 17:07
Sixty per cent of Germans believe that capitalism is the cause of poverty and hunger and that real democracy can't be realized under that economic system.  It seems they're not fond of market fundamentalism and neoliberalism.  In fact, they see straight through it.

You might have thought that Germans who live in Europe's economic powerhouse would be true free market capitalists.  You would be wrong.

The survey found that more than 60 percent of Germans believe there is no genuine democracy in their country because industry has too much political influence and that the voice of the voters plays only a subordinate role.

Gee, does any of that sound familiar?


Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 16:46
Cats on guard.




Stephen Harper and the Muzzling of the Bill C-51 Debate

Montreal Simon - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 15:44


He didn't bother to attend the parliamentary debate on his dangerously flawed anti-terrorist bill C-51. He shut down that debate after only a few hours.

And now he's making sure that even the experts won't have a chance to explain why the bill is such a threat. 
Read more »

Apparently It's Our Fault. Sorry.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 15:21
Hey, Nice Car!
I won't tell you about the lovely motorcycle ride along the coast road I enjoyed yesterday.  It was great but I won't get into that. And I'm not going to whine about having to cut the damned lawn, again. The crocuses and daffs that are coming up?  Who hasn't seen flowers?  They're just flowers.  The herbs, though, they're really coming in beautifully.  The chives are magnificent.

I won't get into this stuff because I know most of you are freezing your buns off. EnviroCan claims it's all our fault.  Something to do with an enormous high pressure front parked just off the Pacific coast that's triggering Arctic fronts to pour down through the prairies, central and eastern Canada.

Sorry about that.  If I could make it all better I would.  I can't.

And right here, right now I want to say sorry again because, according to EnviroCan, you're just going to keep getting more cold fronts for the next month or two, that Pacific thing again.  But, hey, you're breaking all kinds of records! That's something, isn't it?

And at least you're getting a winter, even if it is fierce.  We didn't get one this year.  We were even in a losing battle to keep some of our ski resorts open.  A bunch are already closed for the year.

So be sure to dress warmly.  Keep the snow shovel and the bag of rock salt handy.  Before you know it, it'll be May.  And, until then, again I'm sorry.


Humanists discuss political engagement

Terahertz - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 14:11

Last night, I attended a discussion hosted by the pan London Humanist group on what new opportunities there are for greater democratic engagement following the Scottish referendum on independence. It featured Ian Scott and Gary McLelland from the Humanist Society of Scotland (Ian is Acting Chief Executive and voted yes in the referendum, Gary is the Policy & Public Affairs Officer and campaigned for no), Andrew Copson (Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association), Will Brett (Head of Campaiggns at the Electoral Reform Society) and Alex Runswick (Chief Executive of Unloock Democracy). Anoosh Chakelin (Deputy Editor of New Statesman) stepped in as the chair for the evening.

It was an interesting discussion despite being, as Alex said, “in danger of everyone agreeing with one another.” That agreement included:

  1. Electoral reform
  2. Lowering the voting age to 16
  3. A citizen-led constitutional convention for the UK

While some non-humanists see tradition as a way to keep society structured, the humanists on the panel agreed that we should critically evaluate our political structures and apply a more rational design, based on evidence and tested against other countries. Humanism is about rejecting dogmas and putting the state in service of the individual. We should ask what we can do to enhance one another’s lives.

They also worried about some of the bitter nationalism seen during the referendum debate. Andrew Copson reminding us that Bertrand Russell frequently spoke out against nationalism, saying that it offered simple silver bullet solutions to all of life’s problems (like Scottish Independence or leaving the EU). Nevertheless, the speakers were optimistic about the engagement generated by the referendum.

The most disagreement in the night came from the questions posed by some members of the audience. One worried that we are just “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” by not dealing with the problem of big business’ influence on politics. Another said we should have compulsory voting – to which Gary said he was against anything compulsory as a humanist and Alex pointed out that compulsory voting in Australia had failed to drive up turnout rates at the local level (where it isn’t compulsory). Another questioner asked how you keep small parties out of government in in proportional representation, and he pointed to Israel where (in his words) the Jewish far right has wielded so much influence their airlines can’t even fly 7 days a week – the answer is given by countries across Europe which have threshold levels before a party gains any seats.

The bet comment of the evening though has to go to Andrew Copson, who said the venue, the Palace of Westminster, “was the least democratic building in the Western world, architecturally.” A point I tried to illustrate recently.

Harper's Contempt For Thinking Canadians Is Egregious

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 14:02
That is the only conclusion I can draw, based on the unseemly hurry the regime is in to pass its 'anti-terror' bill:
The Conservatives are pushing to devote just three meetings to hearing expert testimony on the government's proposed anti-terrorism bill when it goes to the public safety committee for review, CBC News has learned.

Sources say that one of those days would be taken up by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and departmental officials, leaving just two meetings to hear from outside experts.For obvious reasons, the Harperites want nothing to do with the witness list the NDP wants to put forward, which includes former prime ministers Jean Chrétien, Joe Clark, Paul Martin and John Turner and six retired Supreme Court justices. As well, they
also want to hear from three former members of the secretive Security Intelligence Review Committee that oversees CSIS operations: Bob Rae, Roy Romanow and Frances Lankin.The depth of Harper contempt for thought, reflection and reason, as opposed to his preferred method of reflexive campaigning and reactionary legislation, is evident in his response to Thomas Mulcair during question period:
Tom Mulcair challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to commit to a full review at committee — one in which, he said, "security experts and human rights experts [will be] not only heard, but listened to."

In response, Harper called Mulcair's criticism of the bill "ridiculous."Precisely the reaction I have when anyone suggests our Chief Demagogue has been good for Canada.


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Say It Ain't So. Fake Clinics Triple in Quebec

Dammit Janet - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 13:17
As a feminist not living in Quebec, I guess I had an overly rosy view of how thoroughly the women of the province have shucked off centuries of patriarchy.

So this report, issued on the 27th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision -- and let us never forget Quebec's role in that victory -- shocked the shit out of me.

The Federation of Quebec for Planned Parenthood (FQPN) warns of new strategies being employed in Quebec and in particular of the alarming increase in the number of crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs).

In ten years, the number of fake clinics has ballooned from fewer than 5 to more than 15.

The tone of the report indicates that the researchers were not familiar with the standard operating practices of these gangs.

CPCs lie! The report documents the CPC stock in trade of outrageous lies -- about abortion causing breast cancer, infertility and mental health and substance abuse problems.

CPCs manipulate and shock! Here are some quotes presented in the report.

"Are you really ready to live with the decision to have killed your child?"

"Foundations for the protection of animals give grants to laboratories to use aborted fetuses instead of rats. They also use it to manufacture cosmetics. "

"You know, I know women who have had abortions and sank into depression, drugs, and hate men."
This must be all rather unsettling for a population overwhelmingly pro-choice (85% according to Leger Marketing, 2010).

And a population -- until recently -- relatively free from the machinations of the fake clinics that infest the rest of Canada.

Here's a link to the pdf of the report complete with FQPN's recommendations.

A group of dedicated volunteers is compiling a list of CPCs in Canada. Here are the known ones in Quebec. (The research is not complete. If there are errors, please let us know.)

Options Pregnancy Crisis Centre, Chateauguay

Accueil-Grossesse/Birthright, Montreal

Accueil-Grossesse/Birthright, Drummondville

Action Nouvelle Vie, Longueuil

Centre Conseils Grossesse/Pregnancy Counselling Centre, Montreal

Enceinte et inquiète, online only

Grosssess-Secours Inc., Montreal

Support familial flocons d'espoir (formerly Centre naître our ne pas naître), Montreal

Accueil-Grossesse/Birthright, Pointe Claire

Options grossesse, Quebec

Tu n'es pas seule (Paroisse Saint Thomas d'Aquin), Quebec

Options Pregnancy Centre, Sherbrooke

Secour et Vie, Sherbrooke, et Trois-Rivières, Granby

Accueil Grossesse Beauce-Appalaches, St. Georges

Accueil-Grossesse/Birthright, St. Laurent

Centre D'aide Oasis Care Centre, Verdun

Note that several of them operate under the Birthright banner. Birthright is somewhat different from the usual fundamentalist, Christian slut-shamers. It is non-religious and non-political, which perhaps makes it a better fit for secular Quebec.

The hotline Enceinte et inquiète is directly financed by Campaign Quebec Vie. Launched in 2011, its website is full of the usual bullshit about abortion's links to cancer, depression, guilt, etc.

Like other CPCs, these websites do not tell the whole story, so reporters have resorted to undercover investigations. This one from 2014 details some encounters.

Another from 2010 describes a visit to Options grossesse, Quebec, including the absolutely amazing claims that "pregnancy heals rape" and that "studies show that women who choose abortion are likely to be more violent with their other children."

Tu n'es pas seule is Catholic with a particular jones for adoption.

Quebec now even has its own umbrella organization for fake clinics, L'Alliance Ressource Grossesse (ARG) with 12 members.

I did some checking on a few of these at Canada Revenue Agency's Charitable Status division. For now at least, they seem quite small -- at least in terms of budgets.

It is to be hoped that with continuing excellent research and reporting by groups like FQPN people will become more aware of these fake clinics in their midst and learn -- sadly, like the Rest of Canada has -- what manipulative, lying scumbags they are.



**** Grand merci to deBeauxOs for help in keeping me from making a jackass of myself. ****



Obama Vetoes Congressional Go Ahead on Keystone XL

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:53
It's said to be Barack Obama's first veto of any significant legislation since he took office.  It comes as no surprise.  He said he would do it.  It doesn't decide the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline one way or the other.

Congress forwarded a bill authorizing the construction of the pipeline.  Obama vetoed the bill.

The president has said he'll take his time and wait until all environmental and regulatory reports are in before deciding on the project.

Are We Supposed to Defend Democracy or Just Mourn Its Passing?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 11:10
There is certainly no shortage of opinion pieces these days bemoaning the steady decline in Western or "liberal" democracy.  I've penned a few myself.

People I speak or correspond with seem to agree that the introduction of Bill C-51 is an assault on freedom of speech and protest that sets government against the public and treats democratic dissent as subversive.

We have a government, make that a "regime", in power today that has erected walls of secrecy between itself and the Canadian people.  It's all but impossible to have a conversation with your government that is filtered through freedom of information requests.  We can ask questions but that doesn't mean they'll be answered.

Even as it has become much harder, in some cases an ordeal, to look into our government and what it's up to, our government has cloaked itself in powers that make it ever more capable of prying into our lives.

What does it say for Canadian democracy when we need Edward Snowden to blow the whistle on critical issues such as domestic spying?

Our government, instead of respecting our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, butts heads with it and seeks ways to circumvent or undermine it.  Time and again we have to fall on the Supreme Court of Canada to protect us from this government's predations.

We are witnessing the rise of illiberal democracy, a shifting of the balance of power between the individual and government.  This regime swept to power on clear and unequivocal promises of accountability and transparency, promises it had no intention of keeping.  Instead it promptly scurried behind walls of secrecy and lies as it put in place first a surveillance state and, now, a police state.

So what are we to do?  Under C-51 is the mere asking of the question subversive? Is raising the prospect of some response in defence of democracy, up to and including civil disobedience, an offence against the regime?  Does this earn us a place on some secret security service's watch list?

Or are we just to mourn the passing of our liberal democracy and sit idle as we watch it slowly displaced by neoliberal authoritarianism?  Are we to settle for a new style of democracy, illiberal democracy, where you can still vote yet that really matters very little?

Do we have a duty to defend our democracy?  Do we even have the right if that demands resisting our government? I wish I had some answers but I really don't.

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