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Oh Pallister ...

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 14:05
Brian Pallister, leader of the Official
Opposition in Manitoba.

Image Source: Screen capture/Youtube/Natalie Pollock
Reading through the Freep website I found this interesting nugget:

Opposition Leader Brian Pallister said Wednesday night's outcome was a message of how dissatisfied voters are of the ruling NDP government, in light of the collapse of support for former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

Pallister said Bowman's successful campaign signalled Manitobans want positive change and for politicians to work together at all levels.

"This election campaign was about many things, but it did send a message that the same old ways are not acceptable to Winnipeggers or Manitobans anymore," Pallister said.

("Selinger says he and Bowman share several priorities". Winnipeg Free Press. Oct. 23, 2014)
So in this statement provincial Conservative leader "Positive" Pallister attacks the NDP while lauding the need for politicians to work together. Bit of a mixed message, eh?

Also somewhat ironic is a man with last century's values talking about how unacceptable the "old ways" are to Winnipeg. This is doubly so as Pallister's CONs acclaimed as a candidate for Kirkfield Park Scott Fielding, who stands for the old sprawling ways urbanist Bowman rejected.

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Russell Brand Calls Out Stephen Harper

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:49
h/t reader Ron Wilton

A Very Impressive Lady

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:44
Every time I hear Elizabeth May speak, I am struck by the balance and wisdom of her words. A very impressive lady, she clearly has real leadership qualities:

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It's What Fascists Do. Harper Comes Gunning for Our Rights and Freedoms.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:41
Just as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were exploited to transform the United States into a place ruled by fear and suspicion, the ultimate surveillance state where even indefinite and secret detention without trial would be permitted, so too will yesterday's shooting in Ottawa provide Stephen Harper the pretext to whittle down the rights and freedoms of Canadians in the name of fighting terrorism.

This would be disturbing even if it wasn't the handiwork of an utterly fascist bastard like Harper.  Coming from him, however, there's no excuse for naivete.

"Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper pledged more surveillance and detention powers for security forces in Canada on Thursday after a gunman killed a soldier and rampaged through parliament before being shot dead.

"Addressing the House of Commons just metres away from where the gunman, a reported convert to Islam, was shot dead on Wednesday, Harper said lawmakers would expedite new powers to counter the threat of radicals." 

In Harperland, dissent is extremism and all those opposed to this government's unprincipled and disastrous policies are radicals.

Like the Bush/Cheney thugs, Harper wants to act before anyone gets too close a look at the screw-ups that contributed to the attacks on our soldiers.  There'll be no discussion about existing powers of surveillance and detention much less whether, properly exercised, these existing laws might have prevented these deaths.

That's the answer to gross negligence, including leaving a young corporal with an unloaded weapon to stand Target Duty at the war memorial; just say the laws aren't good enough and exploit those deaths to gain more powers in your question to transform Canada into an increasingly illiberal democracy.

With a man as patently unscrupulous as our prime minister, these new laws are aimed to reinforce the surveillance state that Canada has become under his rule and he'll use those powers as freely against ordinary, law-abiding Canadians who resist his wishes as he will against anyone else.

It's time the leaders of our opposition parties stood up for Canada.  Demand an inquiry into what went wrong and how these deaths happened.  Challenge the government in the Commons about leaving that corporal on Target Duty at the war memorial just after another soldier had been targeted and killed outside the base at St. Jean, Quebec.  Demand safeguards to ensure that these supposed new powers won't be abused by this government that routinely abuses power even in defiance of the rule of law.  Harper is counting on his ability and track record of cowing the opposition and it's an impressive record to be sure.


This, From Elizabeth May, On the Week's Murderous Events

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:15

Green party leader Elizabeth May wrote a helpful e-mail to party members while she and her staff were still in lockdown yesterday.  Here is the conclusion of her missive:

...while it is too early to jump to conclusions, I intend to hold fast to the following: we must ensure that this appalling act of violence is not used to justify a disproportionate response. We must not resort to hyperbolic rhetoric. We need to determine if these actions are coordinated to any larger group or are the actions of one or two deranged individuals. If it is the latter we must develop tools and a systematic approach to dissuade our youth from being attracted to violent extremist groups of any kind. We need to protect our rights and liberties in a democracy.

We do know that through history these kinds of events open the door to a loss of democracy. Naomi Klein details the elements of seizing the opportunity created by tragedy or tumult in Shock Doctrine. The title of her new and important book on climate, This Changes Everything, is correct – the threat of the climate crisis changes everything. The shootings on Parliament Hill do not change everything. It is up to all of us to ensure that, to the extent we encounter demands for change, we keep in the forefront of our minds that once we surrender any rights it is very difficult to restore them. Let’s demand answers, sensible policies and proportionate responses.



Why Does Stephen Harper Hate Renewable Energy?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:52

Born into an oil company family, Stephen Harper's rise to petro-politics has been uninterrupted from his days in the Calgary mailroom of Imperial Oil all the way to his arrival at Sussex Drive.

Harper doesn't like to talk about climate change and he's even less disposed to doing anything about it.  That's hardly surprising given that he's Canada's top fossil fueler.

We know that Harper is a bitumen booster but how many of us realize that he's deeply, ideologically predisposed against renewable energy?  It's something Naomi Klein explores in her new book, "This Changes Everything."

Klein contends that clean, renewable energy and the private sector simply don't mix.  The focus of fossil fuels in profit, first and foremost.  The focus of renewables is clean energy.  Renewable energy can be competitive with fossil energy for the consumer but it's more of a break-even proposition for the producer.  Break-even is not the desired outcome for the private sector but it's just fine for the public sector.

Renewable energy, therefore, threatens the neoliberal mantra of 'the private sector does everything best'.  Renewables, in effect, transfer a sizeable segment of the economy out of the private sector and back into the public sector.  This directly clashes with Harper's free market prime directive.  It offends his worldview.  He'll have no part in revealing just how much the public sector can do far better than the private sector.  He seeks to dismember government, not to make it work for the people.

And so the world will be held hostage to the fossil fuel fetish of people like Stephen Harper and his Aussie boy toy, Tony Abbott.  Unfortunately both sides of the aisle in the House of Commons are awash in fossil fuelers.  Still it's a good and ample reason to finally purge neoliberalism from the ranks of the Liberals and New Democrats.


A Glimmer of Hope

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:11


It's not much and it's not nearly enough but there's a rare glimmer of hope in the report that China's coal consumption has fallen for the first time this century.

It's not much, somewhere between 1-2% is all, but it sure beats the 5-10% annual increases that preceded it.

“The significance is that if the coal consumption growth we have seen in China in the last 10 years went on, we would lose any hope of bringing climate change under control,” said Lauri Myllyvirta at Greenpeace East Asia. “The turnaround now gives a window of opportunity.”

Such a turnaround would potentially have a large impact on the biggest coal exporting countries such as Indonesia and Australia, which have profited from China’s demand for the fuel.
 
Myllyvirta said the greatest significance of the current drop in coal use was that economic growth had continued at 7.4% at the same time, although that is a lower rate than in recent years. “The Chinese economy is divorcing coal,” he said. By contrast, the tripling of the Chinese economy since 2002 was accompanied by a doubling of coal use.




Morphing Tragedy into Terror: the Harper Agenda

Left Over - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:50
Canada won’t be cowed by terrorism, or by a draconian response to its threat The Ottawa shooting requires a measured reaction. We won’t let this society be divided into ‘us and them’

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

-from “Masters of War”   by Bob Dylan

 

I found Harper’s speech after the Ottawa incident revolting, not to mention the fact that it was plagiarizing Bush’s 911 speech to a great extent..
No matter all the international chatter, this was not jihad come to Ottawa, this was the lunatic action of a troubled man who had obviously sent out lots of signals that he was prepared to do something suicidal..since so many Canadian politicians, after the fact, are stating that they were ‘briefed’ that something would happen…that something, in my mind, was a reaction to Canada granting Malala honourary citizenship status, as they had for Mandela and the Dalai Lama..
Harper expropriated the rhetoric of other war mongers and seemed to almost preen with satisfaction at the events, since he thinks they bolster his fear-mongering, which in turn plays to his fewer and fewer supporters…
This was not Canada’s 911, but it was an example of what can happen in any country that agrees to aid and abet the Western mythologizing of war as a valid response to their corporate supporters’ fears.  And sadly, a young man had to die….and three more in Quebec…never mind the so-called terrorists, don’t let Harper win.


The People of Canada Will Not Be Intimidated by Terrorists. Only the Government Gets to Do That.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:42

Sideshow Steve Harper, his hairdo blessedly intact following yesterday's shooting in Ottawa, has vowed that the Canadian people will not be intimidated by the killings of two Canadian soldiers this week.

They will, however, continue to be intimidated by the CRA Tax Stasi and by the Canadian Petroleum Security and Control Agency.

Mr. Harper stressed that, while he's not pointing fingers, yesterday's events were a clear warning of the dangers posed to Canadians by First Nations and environmentalists lurking in muted opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline. Harper vowed that Canada would redouble its efforts to identify, monitor and track these terrorists in waiting.  He added that, while he doesn't have concrete proof, he's pretty sure these eco-terrorists are in fact radical Muslims.

Later in the afternoon Mr. Harper's hairdresser spoke with reporters.  She revealed a chilling account of how, at the outbreak of shooting, the prime minister's security detail had to whisk him to safety without the requisite 15-minutes needed to erect the "dome of invincibility" that protects Mr. Harper from flyaway split ends. Ms. Denise "Dolly" LaForest said she only spoke out because the Canadian people might otherwise have no idea what a close call it was for the prime ministerial hairdo and the bravery Mr. Harper exhibited in putting his hairdo at risk in this moment of national crisis.  That it was accomplished without gunplay, maintained Ms. LaForest, is a tribute to the prime minister's incredible bravery.


Now is not the time....

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:15
That is the constant refrain those of us who are asking questions and raising red flags over government policy....
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"these acts were drive by hatred, but also designed to drive us to hate. they will not."

we move to canada - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:00
We woke up this morning in a country blessed by love, diversity and peace, and tomorrow we will do the same. These acts were driven by hatred, but also designed to drive us to hate. They will not.

Thomas Mulcair
I offer my sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Nathan Cirillo, on the tragic and senseless loss of their loved one.

I offer condolences to the family and friends of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. He, too, is gone, and leaves both sorrow and bewilderment behind.

I offer my sympathies and condolences to all the survivors in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, and everywhere lives have been lost from terrorism perpetrated by the powerful armies of powerful states.

And I offer my energies and whatever abilities I have to help stop Western nations from making war and breeding terrorists.

Thursday Morning

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:21

H/t Toronto Star

The events of yesterday were undeniably tragic. A young man, Nathan Cirillo, died. As I noticed on a Facebook posting by my cousin's wife, Nathan was a friend of their son with whom he played organized hockey. Six degrees of separation and all that, I guess.

Nonetheless, I have to confess that when I heard the news on CBC radio, my first thoughts were twofold: how these events could work to Harper's electoral advantage (I could immediately envisage the attack ads juxtaposing Harper's "strong leadership and stand against terrorism" against Trudeau's talk about searching for the "root causes" of terrorism), and how this could very well provide a pretext for further erosion of our civil liberties. Like frightened mice, many people aid and abet anyone or anything to ensure the comforting illusion of security.

Fortunately, I found a measure of balance in two Star columnists this morning, Martin Regg Cohn and Thomas Walkom.

Cohn's words bring some much-needed perspective to terrorism:
For terrorists, killing people is merely a means to an end. By far the bigger objective for terrorists is to terrorize — not just their immediate victims, but an entire population.

A soldier lost his life Wednesday. And parliamentarians lost their innocence.

But the nation must not lose its nerve.

Public shootouts or bombings are carefully choreographed publicity stunts that require audience participation to succeed: If the public gives in to fear, and the state succumbs to hysteria, then the shootings or bombings have hit their mark. If the audience tunes out the sickening violence, the tragic melodrama is reduced to pointlessness.
And he quickly gets to what, for me, is the heart of the matter:
The risk is that we will overreact with security clampdowns and lockdowns that are difficult to roll back when the threat subsides.

Terrorists will never be an existential threat — our Parliament and our parliamentarians are too deeply rooted to crumble in the face of a few bullets or bombs. The greater risk is that we will hunker down with over-the-top security precautions that pose a more insidious menace to our open society.
Thomas Walkom, while acknowledging that events such as yesterday's have a very unsettling effect, reminds us that Canada is not exactly in virgin territory here:
In 1966, a Toronto man blew himself up in a washroom just outside the Commons chamber. He had been preparing to take out the entire government front bench with dynamite. But it exploded too early.

Other legislatures have had their share of trouble, most notably Quebec’s national assembly, which was attacked in 1984 by a disgruntled Canadian Forces corporal.

He shot and killed three as well as wounding another 13 before giving himself up.

In 1988, another man was shot after he opened fire with a rifle in the Alberta Legislature building.And no one who is of a certain age can ever forget the FLQ crisis of 1970 which led to Pierre Trudeau imposing The War Measures Act, which effectively suspended civil liberties across the country, a measure that was widely embraced at the time.

Walkom ends his piece on an appropriately ominous note:
We seem headed for another of those moments of panic. The fact that the gunman attacked Parliament has, understandably, spooked the MPs who pass our laws.

It has also spooked the media and, I suspect, much of the country.

The government wants to give its security agencies more power over citizens. The government wants to rally public support for its war in Iraq.

On both counts, this attack can only help it along.If we are not very careful and vigilant, the real threat will come, not from terrorist attacks, but from our putative political leaders.

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The Assault on Democracy: When Fear is the Enemy

Montreal Simon - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 02:40


It was for me strangely enough, the most terrifying moment of a nightmarish day. Standing in a crowded subway station, waiting for a train to take me home, watching the fear on people's faces.

It was only a few hours after most of them must have heard about, or seen what had happened on Parliament Hill.

So I can understand why they were so deathly quiet. Many were probably still stunned by what they had seen. Or the idea that it could happen here. 
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Harper's Canada and the Attack on Parliament Hill

Montreal Simon - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 16:18


I'm sure you've all seen the pictures of this nightmare day on Parliament Hill, this criminal assault on our democracy. 

So all I have to say tonight is this:

(1) To the crazy fanatics who killed a young soldier today and another one in Quebec the other day: you and your kind will not intimidate us.

And we will remember Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and  Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent​...



Long after we have forgotten their cowardly killers. 
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Living well is the best revenge.

Rusty Idols - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 14:50

Lets respond to this attack on Canada by being as Canadian as we can just as hard as we can.

By being decent, and courteous, and concerned about each other and committed to peace and justice and shared struggle.

Lets respond by reaffirming our beliefs in free expression and free assembly, in inclusiveness and welcome. Lets respond to a provocation that HAS THE EXPLICIT GOAL of making us over-react, to behave the way our enemies want us to and expect us to, by not falling for such a blatant scheme and playing into the hands of our enemy.

Lets remember our enemy isn't Muslim, or Arabic, or the newcomer or the dispossessed. Our enemy is injustice and want and abandonment, the sources and breeding grounds for the fanaticism and hate that can be found speaking any language, believing any creed and in any colour

Fear is the only real enemy.sdnxry5z7g

Maybe if CSIS and the RCMP Weren't So Busy Spying on Environmentalists For Big Oil, They Could Do a Better Job on Domestic Terrorism.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:23
To our prime minister's perverted mind, environmentalists are closet terrorists laying in wait to attack his pipelines if and when those ever get built.

We're only three days into the work week and already two Canadian soldiers may have paid with their lives for this prime minister's stupidity.

On Monday, a soldier was run down and killed outside CFB St. Jean.  Harper wasted no time declaring it a terrorist attack.

"What took place yesterday is clearly linked to terrorist ideology," Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told reporters in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

 Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office said the man was known to federal authorities, and that there were clear indications he had become "radicalised", a term the government has used to refer to those who support militant Islam.


"I want to express that the authorities can count on our full support in order to get to the bottom of this terrible act," Mr Harper said in a statement.
Canadian security officials have worried for years about the threat of radicalise young men, and the concern became more intense after Canada sent six fighter jets to take part in the campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq.

Steve, you dumb hump, you are "the authorities."  It's your job and your cabinet's job and CSIS, CSEC and the RCMP's job to safeguard Canada from real terrorists.  You would rather employ the instruments of state power to intimidate bird watchers or people who speak politically, except when you like what they're saying.  You would rather employ your government's security resources in service to Enbridge and Kinder Morgan and two soldiers may have paid for that with their lives.

Brian Bowman: Old School Chamber of Commerce conservative

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:19
Brian Bowman (far right), with Tracy Bowman,
"honoured" to have the endorsement of old school
Conservative politician Gary Filmon (second from the left, with
wife Janice Filmon).

Image Source: Twitter

Way back in May 14 of this year I was at the launch of Brian Bowman's campaign. It was held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which the mayoral hopeful once chaired. A crowd of 300 packed into the Gallery, many young urban professionals, members of the local twittersphere, and folks from the marketing industry. Perhaps the "next generation leadership" lawyer Bowman keeps talking about, which is also a fairly privileged subset of said generation.

This well attired set gave heavy cheers to Brian Bowman. The first round, while intense, was not great enough for the gentleman introducing him - Dave Angus, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce - who demanded an even louder round of applause (which the audience more than complied with).

Entering the stage with cheers and coloured light beams flashing, Bowman went on to give his speech. In it, he delivered lame zingers like "Is City Hall ready for Winnipeg at one million people? It's not even ready for winter!" (approximation of quote based on memory) which the crowd more than ate up, with one person seated behind me particularly lapping up Bowman's punchlines. The rock star treatment Bowman was given at the launch, both in terms of stage management and the way the crowd lapped him up, was very unnerving. It revealed, however, that the mayoral contender's candidacy would be slickly marketed.

A similar unnerving glibness has remained throughout his campaign. Bowman would attack Judy Wasylycia-Leis as a "career politician" while later praising her public service. Later the lawyer would bemoan the awfulness of "old school politics" and lament negativity, while running a campaign with it's fair share of punches and attacks.

Brian Bowman campaigning for a provincial
Conservative.

Image Source: Twitter
As part of his glib marketing campaign Bowman has styled himself as providing the "next generation of leadership", talked about city politics not being about right or left" and generally portrayed himself as a big tent candidate. The lawyer, however, has criticized Judy Wasylycia-Leis for sitting in opposition benches as an MP and for having ties to the NDP. This critique of partiality is despite Bowman's own ties to the provincial Conservatives - having campaigned for a Conservative MLA and receiving endorsements from many prominent current and retired CON pols - including ex-Premier Gary Filmon. There as event interest in having Brian run for PC leader in the past.

Bowman has made ambitious proposals, such as building all Bus Rapid Transit lines by 2031, shifting from property taxes to a four percent municipal sales tax, and building a fenced in dog park in downtown Winnipeg. Many of the big picture and even urbanist ideas the lawyer is running on parallels the BOLD campaign of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. This should not be surprising, The mayoral contender has deep ties to the Chamber.

Brian Bowman was chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce when it launched its BOLD initiative. While the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce opposed the PST increase they did support granting municipalities the power to raise infrastructure levies - something the 4% Bowman Sales Tax would do (if he could get the province to okay it).

Within the closing period of this campaign "next generation of leadership" politician Bowman revealed what he really is: an old school Chamber of Commerce conservative, quite like the other supposed political "outsider" Sam Katz who was first elected in 2004. The Chamber conservative is committed to cutting public city worker pension benefits, but specifically for new workers - i.e. often young workers. The candidate espousing to represent the "next generation of leadership" revealed just what it'll be like: class war against the weak and powerless.

In a new, Bowman age there would be a tale of two youths in Winnipeg. The privileged set, laughing at his jokes and enjoying his fight to beautify the downtown and the underprivileged set losing their benefits and facing the consequences of his very old school, reactionary class warfare against the new public workers of Winnipeg. Given Bowman's usage of Judy's political experience as an insult perhaps it should not be too surprising that respect for public service is a quality the private sector lawyer lacks.

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