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Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 08:16
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Greg Keenan exposes how corporations are demanding perpetually more from municipalities while refusing to contribute their fair share of taxes to fund the services needed by any community. And Sean McElwee points out how big-money donations are translating into a warped U.S. political system:
Available data reveals that donors not only have disproportionate influence over politics, but that influence is wielded largely to keep issues that would benefit the working and middle classes off of the table.

Do donors really rule the world? Recent research suggests that indeed they do. Three political scientists recently discovered that a 1 percent increase in donor support for a policy leads to a 1 percent increase in the probability the president supports the policy, if the president and donor are in the same party. On the other hand, they find no similar effect from general public opinion on presidential policies. In another study, Brian Schaffner and Jesse Rhodes find, “the roll call voting of members of Congress may be more strongly associated with the views of their donors (including outside donors) than with those of their voting constituents.”
...
The solution to big money is two-fold. First, we need mass voter participation. The path is simple: Eliminate unnecessary barriers to voting, shift the burden of registration off of people and onto the government and expand nonpartisan mobilization efforts. But that won’t be enough as long as donors rule democracy. So we should broaden the donor pool with a vibrant public financing system. Evidence from New York suggests that a donor-matching system could increase the diversity of the donor pool, further bolstering democracy. Demos has profiled a number of candidates that fight for working class and non-white Americans but were massively out-raised by their opponents, and showed how small donor democracy would boost their chances of winning. Candidate Eric Adams, when commenting on the New York public matching system noted that, “a large number of people who contribute to my campaign have never contributed to a campaign before.” A world in which big donors are less powerful is a world where average Americans have more of a say in politics.- Ole Hendrickson writes about the absurdity of austerity as a philosophical foundation for public policy. And Bruce Johnstone notes that the Cons' austerian economic plan is failing by all standards - including the Cons' own arbitrary measures of fiscal management. 

- Shawn Fraser discusses Regina's first count of its homeless residents, while summarizing a few of the policies needed to ensure that they can find the housing they need. And Justin Miller offers an abominable example of how social support systems are set up to punish the poor, as a Michigan mother was cut off welfare due to her daughter's brain cancer which kept her out of school.

- Natasha Geiling reports on the continued effect of Enbridge's Kalamazoo River spill five years after the fact. And Andrew Nikiforuk comments that British Columbia (like so many other places) is seeing a dramatic increase in earthquake activity as a result of fracking.

- Frances Woolley highlights how the "sharing" economy may only serve to perpetuate prejudice and inequality.

- Finally, Alison presents the Harper Cons' new advisory system for fearmongering about terrorism.

Acting with principle makes the difference

Rusty Idols - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 06:37
Desperate, poll driven policy designed to triangulate with ruthless electoral precision and avoid giving the government something to attack them with has driven the Liberal Party down to third party status.

Firmly and conscientiously opposing the Governments hop, skip and a jump from a police state overplay with C-51 was viewed as a catastrophic mistake by the NDP.  Commentators confidently predicted that Thomas Mulcair had misread the public mood after the attack on parliament and this would be where the Liberals, more in tune with the electorate would pull away into second place and Harper, most in tune of all, into the lead.

Instead, despite the great effort of the media to create that narrative, the Canadian public recoiled in disgust from the savage, ideological Conservatives and also the blatant, amoral schemers the Liberals openly pronounced themselves to be.

"“I do not want this government making political hay out of an issue … or trying to, out of an issue as important as security for Canadians,This conversation might be different if we weren’t months from an election campaign, but we are,” - Justin Trudeau

And so the rights and freedoms of Canadians are knowingly and openly sacrificed to protect the Liberal Party of Canada's standing in the polls.  This has always been the Liberal Party's MO, Trudeau's just the first leader stupid enough to admit it openly. 

Meanwhile the NDP stood on principle and staked out a position that was deeply unpopular in the polls, and benefit now from being there waiting when the Canadian public reached the same conclusion.

That's called leadership, its something voters remember in the polling booth.

“sdnxry5z7g

He Really Does Think We're Stupid

Northern Reflections - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 05:00
                                                 http://www.pressprogress.ca/

For the last two years, Stephen Harper has claimed that he is "delaying," not refusing to appoint Senators. On Friday, he said -- unequivocally -- that he was refusing to appoint Senators. Campbell Clark writes:

The government is already fighting a court case brought by a Vancouver lawyer, Aniz Alani, who argues that Mr. Harper’s refusal to appoint senators over the past two years, and the PM’s statements that he doesn’t see any need to fill the vacancies, amounts to a breach of his constitutional duty. The Constitution states that the Governor-General “shall” appoint senators, and by convention, the viceroy only does that on the advice of the PM.

In that case at the Federal Court, the government has been filing materials to back up an argument that Mr. Harper is delaying appointments, not refusing them. They include an affidavit from McGill political science professor Christopher Manfredi, who declared that there’s no constitutional convention that dictates how much time PMs have to appoint senators, and they can take their time. But refusing to appoint senators?“Certainly, at some stage, senators have to be appointed,” Federal Court Justice Sean Harrington wrote in May, when he rejected the government’s motion to dismiss Mr. Alani’s case. He noted that if there were less than 15 senators, the required number for quorum in the chamber, Parliament could not function. (Mr. Alani argues the Constitution requires Mr. Harper to appoint senators, and refusing to do so defeats constitutional provisions guaranteeing levels of representation to provinces.)
But he's gone one step further. The provinces, he says, are responsible for the whole mess. Until they can get their act together, there will be no appointments. This from the man who has never met with the provinces to discuss Senate reform  and who -- for the last six years -- has refused to meet with the provinces at all. 
It's typical Harper balderdash -- shift responsibility. There is, you know, no made in Canada recession. It's the fault of international markets. He really does think we're stupid.

Stephen Harper's Stealthy Assault On Our Judicial System

Montreal Simon - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 01:56


All through the long and dark years of Stephen Harper's evil regime the Supreme Court of Canada has been his most mighty opponent.

Time and time again it has rejected his foul and flawed bills that would have turned us into a monstrous police state, or a vengeful theocracy.

It has been the last bastion of Canadian values that the depraved tyrant has been unable to corrupt or destroy.

But what most people don't know, and as the Globe's Sean Fine points out, Harper has been slowly undermining the court from below. 

By stealthily remaking our judiciary in his own monstrous image. 
Read more »

On final excuses

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 15:19
I'll offer one more post arising out of the flurry of discussion about the Senate - and particularly the timing of an announcement which would seem to have been equally easily made during the campaign if it was intended solely for platform purposes.

Let's remember that the last time Stephen Harper broke his promise not to appoint unelected Senators (give or take a Michael Fortier), his rationale had nothing at all to do with the passage of legislation. Instead, it arose in response to the prospect of a coalition government winning power - and Harper's explanation was that if any party was going to appoint cronies and bagmen to publicly-funded sinecures, it would be his own.

In that respect, Campbell Clark's discussion of the difference between Harper's new announcement and the position the federal government has taken in Aniz Alani's lawsuit seeking to require the appointment of Senators might be of particular interest:
In that case at the Federal Court, the government has been filing materials to back up an argument that Mr. Harper is delaying appointments, not refusing them. They include an affidavit from McGill political science professor Christopher Manfredi, who declared that there’s no constitutional convention that dictates how much time PMs have to appoint senators, and they can take their time. But refusing to appoint senators?
“Certainly, at some stage, senators have to be appointed,” Federal Court Justice Sean Harrington wrote in May, when he rejected the government’s motion to dismiss Mr. Alani’s case. He noted that if there were less than 15 senators, the required number for quorum in the chamber, Parliament could not function. (Mr. Alani argues the Constitution requires Mr. Harper to appoint senators, and refusing to do so defeats constitutional provisions guaranteeing levels of representation to provinces.)
He also wrote this: “I know of no law which provides that one may not do what one is otherwise obliged to do simply because it would be embarrassing.”
But government lawyers told the court, in a letter dated June 15, that there was never any decision made by the Prime Minister to leave Senate seats vacant. The letter was sent as part of the court process: Mr. Alani had asked for copies of all the materials the PM used to make the decision to leave Senate seats vacant, and government lawyer Jan Brongers replied that there were no materials, because there was no such decision.Harper's new announcement surely changes the factual landscape underlying Alani's application. And it's worth wondering whether Harper's plan might open the door to his being provided with an excuse to make appointments in advance of the election.

To be clear, it's questionable whether a decision in the first instance could be made by October even if both parties did everything in their power to speed the process along - particularly since at last notice, the Government was appealing the denial of its own motion to strike Alani's application. And any appeals on the merits would carry on well past election day if either side chose to pursue them.

But if Harper were looking for a declaration that he should serve up one more set of Con patronage appointments before the election (and a trial court decision could well be excuse enough for political purposes), yesterday's announcement would seem to set the wheels in motion toward having a court offer exactly that. And it will be worth watching whether the government's attitude toward the legal proceedings changes in combination with that choice.

Update: Stephanie Levitz offers the Cons' explanation for the timing. But it's worth noting that it contains at least as much spin as substance given the implausibility that the existence and functioning of a chamber of the federal Parliament can be labeled with a straight face to "really (rest) with the provinces".

Meet Emperor Harper

LeDaro - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 11:28
I have not done a picture lately. So here is a one of the Emperor Harper.

On the Senate

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 09:53
Do we reform the senate or abolish it altogether is an important question facing Canadians. Is either option even possible? Do Canadians even have the courage to address these questions?
Read more »

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 08:53
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Murray Dobbin writes that Canadians should indeed see the federal election as a choice between security and risk - with the Cons' failing economic policies representing a risk we can't afford to keep taking:
(N)ot only is Harper vulnerable on his own limited anti-terror grounds, he is extremely vulnerable when it comes to the kind of security that actually affects millions of Canadians. When it comes to economic and social security, the vast majority of Canadians haven't been this insecure since the Great Depression.

It's not as if we don't know the numbers -- 60 per cent of Canadians just two weeks away from financial crisis if they lose their job; record high personal indebtedness; real wages virtually flat for the past 25 years; a terrible work-life balance situation for most working people (and getting worse); labour standard protections that now exist only on paper; the second highest percentage of low-paying jobs in the OECD; young people forced into working for nothing on phony apprenticeships; levels of economic (both income and wealth) inequality not seen since 1928. Throw in the diminishing "social wage" (Medicare, education, home care, child care, etc.) and the situation is truly grim.
...
Most of these insecurity statistics are rooted either directly or indirectly in 25 years of deliberate government policy designed by and for corporations. Governments have gradually jettisoned their responsibility for economic security, slowly but surely handing this critical feature of every Canadian's life over to the "market" for determination. Economic policy has been surgically excised from government responsibility to citizens and is now in the singular category of "facilitating investment" -- a euphemism for clearing the way for corporations to engage in whatever activity enhances their bottom line.

From corporate rights agreements (which constitutionalize corporate power) to the decades old "independence" of the Bank of Canada (independent of democracy); from irresponsibly low corporate income tax rates to punitively low social assistance; from Employment Insurance that only 30 per cent ever qualify for to taxes grossly skewed in favour of the wealthy and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that has bestowed citizenship status on the most powerful and ruthless economic entities on the planet, Canadian governments have abandoned their citizens to the vagaries of an increasingly unregulated capitalism. This is not even a complete list, but it demonstrates just how corporate globalization and its promoters like Stephen Harper have created the greatest insecurity for Canadians virtually in living memory. - And Lana Payne highlights the absurdity of the Cons trying to pitch themselves as having anything to say about avoiding future downturns while refusing to accept any responsibility for the recession we're actually in.

- Meanwhile, Edmund Phelps suggests that Western economies in general are suffering from a narrowed perspective in which innovation is seen as important or valuable only if it creates or contributes to corporate machinery.

- Doug Saunders reminds us that if we want to see responsible budgeting, we're best off electing a party which is actually committed to keeping government functional. But I'll note that shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the needless austerity which all too often forms part of budget-balancing exercises across the spectrum - and on that front, Sarah Miller emphasizes that B.C.'s nominally balanced budget is doing plenty of harm by cutting into needed public services.

- Mark MacKinnon weighs in on the Cons' imposition of second-class citizenship by taking the vote away from 1.4 million Canadians.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand calls out the Cons' treatment of First Nations as being disposable.

On leadership failures

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 08:15
Among the many responses to the Cons' latest Senate shenanigans, one (from someone who's not exactly known for his recent NDP ties) stands out as being worthy of mention:
In his 10 years in office how many meetings with the prov premiers did PMSH hold to discuss Senate reform or abolition ? Ans: 0 #cdnpoli— Bob Rae (@BobRae48) July 24, 2015 That obviously represents an important rebuttal to the Cons' claim that they've done everything they could - or indeed anything at all - to keep their past promises. But it seems to me an equally powerful argument against the view that we should take the current stance of a few provinces as a final barrier to abolition.

Simply put, the Harper Cons have done effectively nothing to work cooperatively with the provinces - either on Senate abolition or on any other issue.

But for those of us who think it's possible for a Prime Minister to be more effective than Harper in achieving his goals, that reflects a failure of leadership in pursuing a worthy end, not the impossibility of reaching that end. And particularly if a Senate dominated by Harper's cronies stands in the way of action which an NDP government and the provinces agree on, the argument to have the provinces join in the effort to make the federal government more functional figures to be extremely compelling.

In effect, the parties' positions on the Senate now boil down to the following:

Libs: Let us tell you it can't be done. And don't even bother trying.
Cons: Maybe it can be done. But we're not going to lift a finger to make it happen.
NDP: Don't let them tell you it can't be done. And we'll actually work on it.

Of course, the NDP's position isn't a guarantee of success. But it actually reflects the concepts of hope and the hard work which the Libs seem to have abandoned in favour of increasingly-desperate attacks - and it represents the only positive option on offer from any of the parties in Parliament.

Harper Under Seige

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 06:04
Once more, editorial cartoonist Graeme MacKay scores a solid bullseye.



As does Corrigan over at The Star:



And let's not forget Star readers:
Since the post-2008 Great Recession, Stephen Harper’s primary focus on energy (oil/gas) economic action strategies have painted our economic flexibilities into a corner. Now we find our transnational economic drivers near exhausted.

Interest rates are now .05 per cent. We are on the precipice of falling financially/economically into quicksand recessionary territory.

In hindsight, consider what if we had developed multi-faceted strategies for dynamic, clean-energy manufacturing 21st century technologies in critical mass in construction, science, industry and commerce? Would we be so constrained now with lowest possible oil/gas commodity prices? Would our “loonie” be so vulnerable? Would our frivolousness with tax dollars tied to ineffective foreign policies be so committed to 20th century industrial, free market strategic imbecilities?

Harper’s single-minded chess tactics with much of what he mismanages is fast becoming an economically unmanoeuvreable position now on a precarious global stage. And now with Iran’s economic sanctions lifting as result of the deal with the Western powers, there’s no promise of recovery ever being tied to those “triple-digit” commodity prices that Canada’s oil producers followed our PM so recklessly on.

Brian McLaughlin, Saint John, NB

I’ll have to agree with Mr. Goodale’s take on Harper’s economic record. What’s Mr. Harper’s experience in economics, again? None in the private sector that I could find. I think Canadians know who is really in over their head.

Geoffrey Allen, MarkhamAnd one more reminder from MacKay of Mr. Harper's fiscal ineptitude:


Recommend this Post

They Don't See Much

Northern Reflections - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 06:00
                                                  http://aclayjar.blogspot.ca

The Harperites want to build a monument to the "victims of Communism." China is one of the last officially communist countries. Yet Mr. Harper and  Rob Nicholson, his Foreign Affairs Minister, have taken a curious approach to China.

China has been cracking down on human rights activists for some time, writes Jonathan  Manthorpe:

The crackdown on human rights activists has huge implications. The emergence of this group over the last 10 years represents the most serious threat to the survival of China’s one-party rule since the nationwide student uprising of 1989. The severity of Xi’s response to the rising influence and popularity of these lawyers, and to their role in countering the corruption and arbitrary power of party officials, is a clear indication of the threat he believes the movement poses. The purge undoubtedly will taint Xi’s planned visit to Washington in September — another indication of how seriously he takes the threat of the human rights movement.

Yet the near-silence on the persistent and widespread human rights abuses committed by China’s Communist Party stands in sharp contrast to Nicholson’s regular blustering about the iniquities of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This week, we learned from the CBC that Nicholson is demanding that his staff produce a steady diet of fear-stoking statements about terrorism in the run-up to October’s election — the apparent aim being to blunt criticism of the C-51 ‘anti-terror law’.
One wag recently quipped that Mr. Harper's foreign policy was "all mouth and no brain." In fact, what is true of Harperite foreign policy is true of all Harperite policy. Harperites claim their policies are cast in stone, while they continue to spout hot hair.

Stone, yes. They are immune to deep and careful thought. They have no time for root causes. But they have committed all kinds of time and resources to communicating drivel and untruths. They only see what they want to see. And they don't see much.


Progressive Bloggers

Trashy's World - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 04:50
I would like to give a quick tip of the hat to Scott (of Scott’s Diatribes) and the others behind the scene who make the blog aggregator – Progressive Bloggers – plug along year after year… And now in its TENTH FREAKING YEAR!  Older than the Harperite nightmare, it is! Quite an accomplishment, indeed. For […]

Can Stephen Harper and his Cons Really Buy the Election?

Montreal Simon - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 04:11


Well there he was in Saskatchewan yesterday, looking as ghastly as I have ever seen him.

Announcing his plan to shrink the Senate by attrition. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is vowing not to make any more Senate appointments, in an effort to distance himself from the scandal-plagued Red Chamber and to goad provinces into agreeing to reform or abolish the discredited legislative body.

But since I don't care what happens to the Senate, all I could think of was why is Stephen Harper looking so beaten?

When a new poll suggests that his sleazy plan to buy the election is working. 
Read more »

Celebrating Ten Years of Progressive Bloggers

Montreal Simon - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 02:58


Progressive Bloggers, the blogging aggregator, is celebrating it's 10th anniversary. Scott Tribe and others are getting together in Toronto today to mark the occasion.

And they have every right to celebrate, or give themselves a few high fives, for it is a magnificent achievement.

Those who post on Progressive Bloggers, or read those posts, or contribute comments owe them a lot.

And I know I do.
Read more »

Music interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 17:31
Hot Chip - Need You Now

On common application

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 16:17
Between Stephen Harper's combination of broken promises and ongoing scandals, I'm rather shocked that anybody thought the Senate would be anything but a political liability for the Cons. But let's highlight what's worth taking away from an announcement which came nowhere close to living up to its billing.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he refuses to name any senators until the Senate is reformed, adding he hopes it will put pressure on the provinces to figure out a plan to update the institution.
...
The policy will remain in place as long as the government can pass its legislation, the prime minister said.Of course, the Cons have a majority in the Senate and will for some time no matter what happens. As a result, they face no risk at all in their ability to pass legislation in the foreseeable future.

But the more general principle that the Senate shouldn't interfere with the passage of government legislation is rather more important given the prospect of a new government facing Con obstruction.

So between now and election day, it's worth pressing Harper, his party, and particularly their unelected non-representatives on their willingness to apply the same rule no matter who forms government. And if the result is a consensus that the Senate won't interfere with the will of the electorate, that should make for an important step in placing decision-making authority where it belongs.

Back to Life, Back from Cambodia?

Dammit Janet - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 13:41
Canada, a staunchly prochoice country, nonetheless has its equally staunch fetus freaks.

Their cause is hopeless but they keep stomping their little feet and SHRIEEEEKING.

Case in point: the Parental Consent campaign, a co-masturbation between Saskatchewan ProLife and Dominionist ARPA.

They've been told repeatedly that it ain't gonna happen, yet they persist.

One might find this pathetic or even quixotically amusing.

Except.

The campaign continues to disseminate harmful LIES.

Yesterday, it tweeted this statement: "Abortion has a profound impact on adolescent girls," accompanied by this graphic.


There it is again: Parental Consent wants pregnant teens give up their autonomy to provide someone with a baybeeee.

But they're lying in the process, as I pointed out by replying with this link to a study from 2012.
Getting a legal abortion is much safer than giving birth, suggests a new U.S. study published Monday.

Researchers found that women were about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth to a live baby than to die from complications of an abortion.

Experts say the findings, though not unexpected, contradict some state laws that suggest abortions are high-risk procedures.Explicitly contrary to what Parental Consent would have teens believe -- staying pregnant is 14 times more lethal than choosing abortion.

But what is that website at the bottom of the graphic? I'd never heard of Back to Life Canada.

It's a website created in November 2012 to promote celebrate a bunch of women who walked from here to there to protest abortion.

A little more digging revealed that our old pal Faytene Variable Last Name, most recently Grasseschi, is a prime mover.

Weird group, weird activities.

The website contains the requisite Risks of Abortion page, on which the usual bogus and nauseatingly often debunked claims are made.

Then there's The Walkers, a group of 25 women, first names only, most with pictures, and, oddly, ethnic identities. For example, Chinese Canadian, Anglo Canadian, Metis Canadian, French Canadian, and Barbadian Canadian are listed, but two women who look black are identified as Anglo Canadian, which may describe their language but huh?

(Faytene herself does not appear.)

And they have a Big Field Trip! A project called Back to Life Cambodia.
Back to Life Cambodia is a 2-week event that will focus on prayer, prophetic decrees, seminars, and outreaches to establish value for the life within the minds and hearts of the Cambodian people.
The trip was set for May 17-31, 2015, at a cost of only $500 which does not include accommodation, meals, airfare, travel insurance or Cambodian visa but does include .... ?

The page contains a video report from its inaugural 2014 field trip, but contains nothing from 2015.

I looked and found ... more nothing.

Did they not go? Did they get lost? Did the good people of Cambodia tell them to get stuffed and go home?

Inquiring minds. . .






We are not alone in this universe

LeDaro - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 10:12

"Discovered by the Kepler Telescope, NASA says it's the first small, rocky planet discovered in the habitable zone of a G star similar to our sun."_ NBC

This planet is much bigger than earth.

I understand that there are billions of earth-like planets in the known universe according to scientists. It is possible that there is intelligent life on these planets. Big problem is that they are so far away. This particular planet is 1400 light years away from earth.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 09:23
Assorted content to end your week.

- Barry Eidlin argues that Canada's comparatively stronger trade unions have led to a far more equal distribution of income than exists in the U.S., and discusses what we need to do to reinforce that tendency:
In a recent article and forthcoming book, I put forth a new theory: Canadian unions remained stronger because they were better able to retain a legitimate social and political role as defenders of working class interests. By contrast, U.S. unions got painted as a narrow “special interest.”

These different roles for labour weren’t just rhetorical. They were built into how unions are viewed by the legal system and political parties, and even how unions viewed themselves. While U.S. unions’ “special interest” role de-legitimized class issues, eroded workers’ legal protections, and constrained labour’s ability to act, Canadian unions’ “class representative” role gave class issues greater legitimacy, strengthened legal protections, and imposed fewer constraints on labour.

It’s important to stress that Canadian unions didn’t adopt this “class representative” role because they were more radical than their U.S. counterparts, and Canadian labour law didn’t stay stronger because of more sympathetic governments. Rather, it was the result of a labor policy designed first and foremost to keep labour unrest in check. For example, while unions’ ability to strike was restricted, so too was employers’ ability to replace strikers or interfere in union certification campaigns.

The dynamic that this policy framework created reinforced for labour the importance of mobilizing to win demands, as opposed to finding sympathetic political allies from whom to seek favorable treatment. For employers and government officials, it reinforced the importance of a strong labour policy to discipline unions.
...
What broader lessons can we draw from this comparison of U.S. and Canadian unions? The key point is that if we want to do something about runaway income inequality, we need to address the power inequality that underlies it.

At a policy level, that means laws that level the playing field for labour. But more broadly, it means that we need to talk about the working class. Politicians, union officials, and other civic leaders talk far too much about a mushy – and somewhat meaningless and outdated – “middle class.” They need to acknowledge the real and growing class divide between the wealthy and the working class.- Which isn't to say there's a lack of reason for optimism in the U.S. (where Patrick McGeehan reports on the spread of the movement for a $15 minimum wage), nor for concern in Canada (where Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the failures of Ontario's employment standards enforcement system in its job of ensuring that workers get paid).

- David McLaughlin wonders whether this fall's election will be the last under Canada's antiquated first-past-the-post system. And Kelly Carmichael and Ryan Campbell make the case for mixed-member proportional representation as a far more fair and democratic alternative.

- Finally, Stephanie Levitz reports on the United Nations Human Rights Committee's recent review (DOCX) of Canada's deteriorating human rights record - with Bill C-51 raising particular concerns. And Fram Dimsham points out how the Cons' terror legislation might criminalize the work of journalists (whether by accident or by design):
Even before C-51’s passage into law, Henheffer said that freedom of the press in Canada was under attack, citing Harper government restrictions on media access such as that experienced during press conferences and increasing difficulty in accessing information.

Now that C-51 is law, Henheffer said that journalists would face additional difficulties in doing their job in reporting stories related to national security or street protests such as those against the G20 five years ago, as the government could selectively target people to ensure their own agenda dominated the headlines.

Journalists covering protests have already found themselves under arrest, such as New Brunswick reporter Miles Howes, who in 2013 was detained at an anti-fracking demonstration on suspicion of uttering death threats against an RCMP officer, but some believed that the real reason was his asking too many questions regarding hydraulic fracking in Atlantic Canada.

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