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New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 07:53
Here, on the need and opportunity to show some vision in our provincial budgeting and planning - even if the Wall government has no interest in bothering.

For further reading...
- I posted previously on the Sask Party's habit of locking Saskatchewan into ill-advised long-term contracts which serve nobody's interests but the corporations involved.
- Karri Munn-Venn discusses the UK Energy Research Centre's report on which fossil fuels we can afford to exploint here.
- Likewise, Ivan Semeniuk and Shawn McCarthy report on the Acting on Climate Change study showing how Canada can eliminate the use of non-renewable power generation and cut greenhouse gas emissions in a hurry if it has the political will to do so.
- Murray Mandryk offers his own take on the important decisions which the Saskatchewan Party continues to kick down the road.
- And finally, the CCPA's Alternative Federal Budget offers an example of what we should expect out of our governments.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 06:43
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Vognar argues that we should push for a guaranteed annual income not only as a matter of social equity, but also as a means of building human capital.

- Mike Benusic, Chantel Lutchman, Najib Safieddine and Andrew Pinto make the case for stronger sick leave policies across Canadian workplaces:
Canada’s current sick leave policies are not supporting the health of individuals and communities. First, employees are forced to choose between staying home when ill (losing income and potentially placing their job at risk) or to go to work (worsening their health and potentially infecting others). A CDC study of nearly 500 food service workers revealed that more than 50% had worked while knowingly ill. When asked why, half of the workers reported they did not want to lose income and a quarter did so for fear of losing their job. Obviously, those working in the food industry have a clear potential to transmit pathogens.

Second, sick workers are driven to clinics or emergency rooms: not for medical care but merely for proof they are ill – a paternalistic custom enshrined in business and many provincial sick leave rules. In delegating physicians into a policing role, clinical hours get chewed up by administrative tasks. When these illnesses are due to larger outbreaks, physicians are doubly burdened – by the sick who need treatment and the sick who need notes. The Ontario Medical Association discourages requiring sick notes for this reason, and also because of the real risk of transmission to others in the health care environment. Forcing infectious people into our waiting rooms who won’t benefit from treatment is burdensome for the patient and risky for all of those in the office.

Third, a comprehensive paid sick leave policy in Canada is economically sound. Missing work is costly, estimated to be $16.6 billion dollars annually in lost productivity, but research is beginning to show that being sick at work (presenteeism) is incredibly costly as well – up to three times as much as absenteeism for depression and pain.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of equity. All workers should have access to sufficient paid, job-protected sick leave to help them recover from illnesses without losing income and to reduce the risk of infecting others. As well, it’s a matter of respect: having an employee ‘prove’ an illness is nonproductive and onerous for all.- Meanwhile, Sara Mojtehedzadeh discusses Dorcas Martey's example of how a lack of effective sick leave forces people engaged in precarious work to put their health on hold in order to keep afloat financially. And Julia Belluz points to Alheil Picazo's story as an example of how much room there is to improve Canada's health care system.

- Joanna Kerr rightly lambastes the Cons for trying to pretend that anybody who cares about civil liberties must be a terrorist. And Alison reminds us of the Cons' history of using public resources to monitor and attack the environmental movement, while Jim Bronskill reports that protest activity in general is already in CSIS' cross-hairs. 

- Finally, the European Federation of Public Service Unions weighs in on the false promise of P3s. And Kev highlights how the lure of low taxes has led us to accept public services which are both insufficient to begin with, and extremely precarious in their fiscal footing.

Attention, Shoppers: Don't Let The Terrorists Win!

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 06:12
An important message to all Canadians from Stephen Harper:

Recommend this Post

A Game Of Inches

Northern Reflections - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 05:58

The upcoming election, Geoffrey Rafe Hall writes, will be about nasty, brutish and small things. That's because Stephen Harper has nothing else to run on:

Lacking evidence of either sound fiscal management or a healthy economy — and certainly having nothing to offer on the ‘change’ front — Stephen Harper is confronted with the problem of campaigning on not much at all.

The PM’s answer to that problem so far has been to deliver more of the same — more fear, more legislation that ‘gets tough on crime’ – but these tired old tactics won’t, on their own, mobilize support beyond the party base.
So his first task is to shore up his party's base. That's what all the fear and smear is about. His past election victories have been based on playing a game of inches:

Remember how narrow the margin is between winning and losing in federal elections now. In the northern Greater Toronto Area in the last federal election, seven seats were up for grabs. Five went to the Conservatives, who received 39.2 per cent of the votes cast. One seat went to the Liberals with 38.2 per cent of the vote; the NDP took one seat on 20 per cent of the vote. Less than 59 per cent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot — meaning that the difference between winning one seat and winning five came down to the choices made by less than one per cent of voters.

So even the smallest of actions matter. One tactic that has proved effective in galvanizing base support, regardless of political affiliation, is what psychologists call “out-group derogation”. In simple terms it means creating an Us vs. Them split in supporters minds, with the ‘Them’ group presented as threatening. The tactic works, and Conservatives have used it before. But it really only works well when the distinction between “us” and “them” is based on shared values — such as banning face coverings in citizen ceremonies.
But that's a risky strategy. What if  the "shared values" the Conservatives espouse are shared by only their base?

What if, in the process of identifying and shunning the ‘other’, that group expands beyond the boundaries set by shared values — by many Canadians’ discomfort with the niqab, for example — to a broader multicultural/multiracial society? What if, in the heat of an election campaign, some of the ‘Us’ camp get roped in with ‘Them’?
The Conservatives have courted the immigrant vote. But, if immigrants become convinced that Harper has them in his sites, what happens to his game of inches?

Stephen Harper has made gross miscalculations in the past. Perhaps this is another one. And perhaps it will do him in.

Rick Mercer Goes after the Monstrous Monument to Harperism

Montreal Simon - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 02:10

I've written a few posts about the plans for a monstrous Memorial to the Victims of Communism 

And how it's really a monument to Stephen Harper and his ghastly regime. A Harper/Kenney/Baird production designed to pleasure their base and glorify themselves.

And since the land had been reserved for a new federal court, is just another slap in the face of our justice system.

I have also pointed out how many distinguished architects have criticized it for being too big and too ugly.

While others have attacked it for its monumental cynicism. 
Read more »

Benjamin Netanyahu and Stephen Harper's Netanyahu Moment

Montreal Simon - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 23:14

Benjamin Netanyahu is as any decent person knows, a brutish right-wing demagogue, a racist, and a war criminal.

And his victory in yesterday's Israeli election couldn't be more tragic. 

Or have left the Middle East and his own country more deeply wounded. 
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What If?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 19:48
What if a motion to recognize Palestinian statehood comes before the United Nations Security Council and the United States elects not to use its veto?

What if?

The veto power only resides in the five permanent members - the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China.  Of the five, the United States has been Israel's only steadfast ally on the Security Council, regularly vetoing any effort deemed unwelcome by Israel.

Obama alone controls his country's vote at the Security Council.  Of the other members, Russia and China could be expected to back the Palestinians.  France, too, is also onside and it's hard to imagine the Brits wouldn't follow America's lead.

Once recognition of the Palestinian state had the power of the Security Council behind it, the legitimacy of Netanyahu's occupation would be shattered and actions could be instituted, perhaps beginning with punitive sanctions, to lift the Israeli siege.

Just Sayin'

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 19:05
Notice how we're beating the war drums over Russia's annexation of predominantly ethnic-Russian Crimea yet when Israel steals the Palestinian homeland in the West Bank we sort of cheer them on.  Our supposed best friends have held the Palestinians captive, under brutal and often murderous occupation for half a century, and we're pretty much fine with it.

Stephen Harper and the Vigilantes

Montreal Simon - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 17:32

Oh boy. It's so hard to keep up with Stephen Harper and all the voices in his head.

One moment he's urging people in rural areas to get a gun to protect themselves if they don't live near a police station.

The next moment he's claiming he's NOT supporting vigilantism.
Read more »

Dr. Dawg's Legal Bills: How You Can Help

Anti-Racist Canada - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 15:22
At the start of the month we had mentioned that John Baglow's defamation suit did not go as hoped, though to be fair the ruling was a bit confusing:

The case finally went to trial and the judgement is now in. John both won and lost. In the weird world of libel law, the judge found that John had been defamed, but that because John had supported basic legal rights for child soldier Omar Khadr, the comment that John was a supporter of the Taliban was 'fair comment' and therefore legally okay.

The judge did not award costs to either Mr. Baglow or Mr. Smith/Free Dominion, however the cost of the suit was still considerable.

That is where you, if you so choose dear reader, can help out a friend of this blog.

Richard Warman, Mr. Murphy of BigCityLib Strikes Back, and one of the frequent contributor's to Mr. Baglaw's blog who goes by the name of Balbulican have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help Mr. Baglaw pay his legal bill. Mr. Baglow has been a friend of ARC for quite a long time and has been very supportive of our efforts. It's only right that we help him now when we can.

At this point the campaign has raised 11% of the goal. It took the Fourniers several months to reach their goal when they were raising money to fund an appeal of the Warman defamation suit. We would very much like to see the goal for Mr. Baglow reached much sooner than that.

Dr. Dawg's Legal Bill

A Work In Progress

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 13:50
The website SHD (Shit Harper Did) is currently completing a documentary looking into Canada's surveillance programs. Now in post-production, it is seeking donors to help complete the process. If you would like to contribute, you can click here.

Following is a trailer of their work:

Recommend this Post

A short, concise rant on Israel. .

kirbycairo - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 10:45
Ok, here's a short rant -

Now that Benjamin Netanyahu was inadvertently recorded admitting that Israel is only in peace negations as a way of stringing the Palestinians along while they steal all of their land, and now that Netanyahu has admitted that they will never allow a Palestinian state, isn't it time for all those apologists for Israel to admit that Israel has been the problem all along? For decades I heard people criticize Palestinians for failing to recognize Israel's right to exist, and people continued to perpetuate this misrepresentation years after the vast majority of Palestinians loudly proclaimed that they would recognize the 1947 partition boarders. It is clear now to all but the most blind partizans that it is Israel that will never recognize the Palestinians right to exist, it is the rightwing expansionism of Israel that wants all the land, not peace. The tide is turning. Millennials are beginning to recognize the pervasive lie and apartheid state that is modern Israel. Israel has long been an isolated state by the majority of countries in the world. They are isolated because they are a viscously racists, militarist, expansionist state hell-bent on taking all the land of Palestine and using some biblical fantasy to justify the more immoral of actions. But their isolation will now begin to increase as they have finally made their true colours clear to all but the most rabid apologists.

Reap the whirlwind Bibi - you have met the enemy and he is YOU.

Victoria's Take on C-51

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 10:43
From this morning's Times Colonist:

Ed Davy's Onside. Justin, Tommy, What's Your Excuse?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 09:39
He's the British government's energy and climate change secretary and Ed Davey says he's solidly behind The Guardian's climate change campaign.  Earlier this week the newspaper announced its intention to advocate for climate change action starting with its "Keep It In The Ground" campaign.

Pension and insurance funds should consider urgent divestment from “very risky” coal assets and then gradually retreat from oil and gas, Ed Davey, the UK energy and climate change secretary, has warned.

Throwing his weight behind the Guardian’s “Keep it in the ground” campaign, he said a recent analysis which suggested 82% of coal reserves must remain untouched if temperature increases are to be kept below 2C – the widely accepted threshold for dangerous climate change – was “realistic”.

Davey said it was not up to an energy minister to tell fund managers how to run their businesses, but added that it was vital to introduce regulatory transparency that would drive investors from fossil fuels to renewables.

...Davey wrote in a comment piece, “I’m strongly backing the Guardian’s campaign to raise the profile of the divestment debate ahead of the December climate change negotiations in Paris.”

His support comes amid signs that British pension funds, banks and insurance companies have not changed their behaviour since a major report warned last year they were much more financially exposed than their European counterparts to overvalued or “stranded” fossil fuels.

And it comes as members of the European parliament in Brussels plan to establish a specialist group to campaign in favour of carbon divestment and demand new carbon reporting requirements.

Davey said investors such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, heirs to the Standard Oil fortunes, were already showing the way by divesting from coal and highly polluting oil or tar sands.

“Government cannot instruct these trillions of pounds and dollars that are in the control of private funds to move from x to y. What we can do is to put in place an incentive structure that will encourage people to think like that.

But Canada is not Britain.  We're a petro-state and this is an election year and the last thing you can expect of our opposition leaders is to stand up for what's right.

Netanyahu Shows His True Colours. Canada, America Stand Mute.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 09:23
The Guardian calls yesterday's surprise election win Netanyahu's "lurch to the right."

The hard fought election brought Bibi out of the closet.  He bought the Israeli hard right vote with a pledge that there'll be no Palestinian state on his watch.  He also pledged to proceed apace with ever more illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands.

For too many years we've played this charade about Israel really wanting peace with the Palestinians and a two-state solution.  It was always a dark farce but it allowed us to play along while Netanyahu pretended that wasn't his boot on every Palestinian's neck.

Imagine what it must be like.  Every Palestinian infant is born into captivity, a prisoner for life.  Chances are that baby's parents were born into captivity too. The grandparents may well have been refugees, driven off their farms and out of their homes, from lands already stolen by Israeli settlers never to be returned.

Fortunately we Canadians are much better people than those Palestinians.  If a hostile force did that to us, we would never resist for that might be cause to brand us terrorists.  No, we're polite folk.  We would lick our gaoler's combat boots and smile especially on those days when they allowed us food and water.

Fortunately we Canadians have new laws in the works that guide us on how to think about these things. We know what to say or at least what we must not say on pain of arrest and imprisonment by our freedom-loving government and its collaborators in Parliament.  Fortunately George Orwell didn't have the guidance of our new laws when he wrote, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a face - forever."  Whoa, good call George, you nailed it!

Oh, Canada, look how far we've come in just my lifetime.  I'm beginning to realize our history hasn't been linear but has arrived in chunks.  There was the era of rights and freedoms from Diefenbaker to Trudeau.  Then there was the era of neoliberalism from Mulroney to Martin.  Now we're in the era of authoritarian suppression which brings the worst aspects of neoliberalism and corporatism into harmony with the surveillance state.

As for the Palestinians, they'll probably be getting new and better friends in Europe, Asia and perhaps Africa.  More countries will recognize the existence of the state of Palestine.  Israel will be more broadly seen as a rogue, pariah state deserving of boycotts and sanctions.  The Guardian sees tough sledding ahead:

What seems certain is that at the end of a tense and difficult year which saw war in Gaza, widespread unrest in occupied east Jerusalem and Israel’s increasing isolation on the international stage – including in its relations with the US – the country faces a febrile and tense period ahead.

With no peace process with the Palestinians – which collapsed a year ago – it will be difficult for Netanyahu to disavow his remarks in recent days promising he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state, comments that will set him on a further collision course with the US administration of Barack Obama and the EU.

In the immediate future, Palestinian leaders have made clear they plan to go with a raft of cases against Israel to the international criminal court. With Israel already blocking tax receipts to the Palestinian Authority for formally joining the international court of last resort, that move would trigger US Congress to order the freezing of US aid to the authority, a large part of which goes to supporting security forces.

Another potential consequence may be a renewed effort by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to seek recognition for a Palestinian state at the UN security council, a move which was blocked last year.

Without any commitment to a two-state solution and Netanyahu’s boast that he will continue building in occupied east Jerusalem, an already existing frustration with Israel is likely to increase.

That may in turn see increased pressure – not least from Europe – for moves towards sanctions against Israel.

As for Canada, we'll stand mute.  We'll freely ridicule and condemn certain countries, particularly if their day of worship falls on Friday, but we've long ago given Israel a permanent, get out of jail free pass.

About That Gun Thing, Mr. Harper

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 08:02

Yesterday, I wrote about Prime Minister Harper hitting upon yet another red-meat issue, this one potentially quite dangerous, over which his base can salivate. He suggested that guns are an important part of personal safety, especially in rural areas.

Two letters in today's Globe suggest not everyone with rural experience embrace Mr. Harper's twisted vision.

PM, gun control
As one who resides in a rural area and has guns, the concept of having them for my safety has never been something I’ve thought about (Provocation, Pandering And Prejudice – March 17). I suppose if that were the case and I were truly worried about my safety, instead of locking them up and storing the ammunition separately, loaded guns would lying all over the place. It’s hard to believe that this is what Stephen Harper had in mind. Instead, chalk the comments up to the mouth moving faster than the brain.

Jeff Spooner, Kinburn, Ont.


My father spent his early days on granddad’s horse ranch in the Cypress Hills where the ethic was to keep one’s doors open, whether at home or not, for anyone who needed shelter and a meal.

Americans across the border had a different approach. Our gunslinger PM wants seems to want to bring gun violence north.

Jerry Thompson, OttawaRecommend this Post

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 07:13
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- CBC reports on the latest research showing that Canada would save billions every year with a national pharmacare plan. And Thomas Walkom argues that politics are standing in the way of what should be a no-brainer from a policy standpoint.

- Richard Gwyn writes that most Canadians seem to be willing to put up with nearly anything in order to keep a relatively secure job - even as it's far from sure that many workers can count on that being available.

- Lawrence Martin discusses the Cons' strategy of provocation, pandering and prejudice as a substitute for running on a defensible record - though he does win a place on the list of pundits who continue to hold out for some shame from a government which has never shown a trace of it. Dan Leger writes that the latest outbreak of bigotry reflects the Cons' own extremism. And Don Lenihan asks whether truth and values still matter as long as the Cons are on the political scene, while noting that the best antidote to cynical politics is a healthy dose of reflection:
Rove’s fingerprints are all over the Harper PMO, from micro-targeting to the use of wedge issues to play one group off another. The gun registry, the crime agenda and the energy pipelines are all examples.

We can also include talking points, omnibus legislation, time allocation, committee interference, and media control in this bag of tricks. All are quintessential Rovian tactics.

And the abandonment of truth? Here too the Harper government has followed suit, showing a sometimes ruthless willingness to deny, discredit and even suppress evidence that conflicts with its positions. It has done so on crime and climate change, for example, and is now doing so on the new security law, C-51.

But last week may have been a turning point of some kind. The Harper government seemed to be taking this Rovian story-telling to a new level.
But when the three opposition leaders rose to challenge both him and Canadians to take a step back from our emotions and reflect on the nature of our political rights, a very un-Rovian thing happened.

Many commentators began arguing that Muslim women’s right to wear the niqab was more important than their feelings of suspicion and doubt.

In Rovian politics, this is not supposed to happen. The public isn’t supposed to be reflective and rational, especially when they’re scared.

Of course, these responses came mainly from members of the political class. I don’t know what would have happened if the debate had carried on. Would ordinary people also have risen to the occasion? I couldn’t help wondering what Rove would say.

The clear lesson from last week is that we have two very different views of politics in our country and they appear to be getting ready to square off.- Michael Harris reminds us that Mike Duffy's trial figures to offer a valuable look into the manipulations of the Harper PMO just in time for the federal election. And Andrew Mitrovica worries that the same command-and-control political dynamic which has us waiting for a trial to spill the truth about the Cons has left CSIS shrouded in secrecy.

- Finally, Taylor Bendig points out the Wall government's massive - and growing - expenditures on private highway consultants.

Establishing His Bona Fides

Northern Reflections - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 06:49

Last week, Jason Kenny claimed that Russian aircraft provoked HMCS Fredericton  as it participated in a NATO exercise in the Black Sea. When the Ottawa Citizen asked DND for a comment, they refused to go near Kenny's statement and referred the paper to NATO. Stewart Webb writes:

NATO brusquely dismissed Kenney’s tales of an old-fashioned Cold War showdown involving Canadian forces — stating that Russian overflights have operated at altitudes higher than the 500 feet cited by Kenney’s office and that there had been no confrontation with Russian warships. NATO reported that at one point two Russian warships were seen off the horizon by the Canadian task group in the Black Sea, but that the Russians followed all regulations required of vessels in international waters.
Some might put the blunder down to the new defence minister's inexperience. But Kenny's claim is part of an entrenched pattern:

In April 2009 Kenney’s predecessor, Peter MacKay, reported that two TU-95MSs had come within 192 kilometres of Canada’s Arctic coastline. This incident occurred the day before President Barack Obama visited Ottawa. “I am not going to stand here and accuse the Russians of having deliberately done this during the presidential visit,” MacKay said at the time. “But it was a strong coincidence”.

In August 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s communications director Dimitri Soudas e-mailed journalists claiming that a pair of TU-95MSs had been intercepted approximately 56 km from the Arctic coastline by our CF-18s. “Thanks to the rapid response of the Canadian Forces,” Soudas wrote, “at no time did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign Canadian airspace.” NORAD’s commander did not rebuke the accusation this time, but NORAD’s spokesman Lieutenant Desmond James has this to say: “Both Russia and NORAD routinely exercise their capability to operate in the North. These exercises are important to both NORAD and Russia and are not cause for alarm.”
The international community knows that, when it comes to crying wolf, the Harperites have established their bona fides. And, as the man who is rumoured to be first in line to replace Harper, Kenny has established his bona fides as a man who is well qualified to mislead the nation.

Stephen Harper's Totally Disastrous Day of Political Devastation

Montreal Simon - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 04:03

It seems only appropriate that the only thing Stephen Harper tweeted yesterday, was a little video of himself learning the proper way to pour beer in Ireland.

Because I'll bet Great Leader was pouring himself more than a few last night, after what had to be an absolutely disastrous day for him and his ghastly Cons.

The day when his campaign of fear and bigotry came back to bite him. And he shot himself in the foot. 
Read more »


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