Posts from our progressive community

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.


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.

A Tale To Frighten Children (And Uninformed Canadians)

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 08:58

Well, the Globe and Mail is up to its usual agenda of promoting the neocon vision. Not content to let Canadians ruminate on ideas unimpeded by thinly-disguised corporate ideology and scaremongering, it is attempting to sow doubt about a plan that would potentially benefit all Canadians, national pharmacare, whose time has surely come.

For a small primer on the concept, you could check out a post I wrote about two years ago, or conduct a Google search, which will yield some compelling links, including this one:
Canada is the only industrialized country with universal health insurance that does not offer universal prescription drug coverage, and statistics show one in 10 Canadians cannot afford to pay for their medications.From an economic viewpoint, there is a compelling case to be made for pharmacare. Consider this report, entitled Pharmacare 2020 — The Future of Drug Coverage in Canada, an analysis of which conducted by The Star yielded these conclusions:
Not only would a national pharmacare program ensure that all Canadians have access to drugs they need, it would save billions of dollars. Authored by six health policy experts, the study was published by the Pharmaceutical Policy Research Collaboration at the University of British Columbia.
Pharmacare is the answer. Potential savings from bulk-buying through a single system are substantial. The study’s authors cited the example of Lipitor. A year’s supply of this brand name cholesterol-lowering drug costs at least $811 in Canada, according to the report. In New Zealand, where a public authority negotiates prices for the entire country, it’s $15. “In terms of drug prices, Canada’s multi-payer system is among the most expensive in the world,” they conclude.Because the arguments in favour of a universal drug plan are compelling, and because it is enjoying a certain momentum, the reactionary right is now starting a smear campaign to undermine enthusiasm, one based manipulative polling, lies, and half-truths.

Entitled The risks that come with a national pharmacare program, the author of this Globe article, Yanick Labrie (more about him shortly), refers to a recent Angus Reid poll which
found that 91 per cent of Canadians support “the concept of a national ‘pharmacare’ in Canada, that would provide universal access to prescription drugs ...” But they may not be ready to pick up the tab. The survey also found that 70 per cent are against increasing the GST to 6 per cent – from the current 5 per cent – to pay for the program. If you’re not willing to pay for something you want, that may be a sign you don’t really want it that badly.What Labrie omits here is also the finding that the majority would prefer that it be paid through an increase in corporate taxes, a not unreasonable preference, in my view.

Next, the writer warns of what we might be giving up if we embrace pharmacare:
Canadians should be wary of replacing our mixed system with something like what exists in the U.K. or New Zealand. Socializing a larger part of drug spending through a single-payer pharmacare plan would give more power to government and its bureaucrats to make decisions on behalf of the insured. Policies that restrict access to new medicines would be applied across the board and would penalize all Canadians in the same way.The implication that this would be tantamount to allowing a 'death-panel' bureaucrat to determine your fate is clearly there. What Labrie doesn't mention is that the decisions on adding new drugs to provincial drug formularies are already made for costly drugs, most of which are not covered by private plans anyway. The case of the cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco is instructional in this regard. The final decision in that case saw Ontario deciding to fund it.

The above also demonstrates a strategy commonly used by the right: absolutism. There is absolutely nothing in any concept of pahrmacare that I have ever read that would preclude any of us from still carrying private insurance. Yet read the following assertion by Labrie:
According to a recent online survey conducted by Abacus Data for the Canadian Pharmacists Association, 80 per cent of respondents support the idea of a national prescription-drug program. But only 31 per cent favour replacing our current mixed public-private systems, managed by the provinces, with a national, government-run pharmacare monopoly.Monopoly? Who said anything about a monopoly? As well, take a look at the Abacus online survey he refers to.

A patently manipulative push poll commissioned by pharmacists, consider the biases built into the following questions:
While many Canadians want enhanced access to medications, many Canadians are also concerned about the cost of a national pharmacare program, losing their private drug plans, and the ability of governments to administrate drug plans effectively.

Which approach to pharmacare comes closest to your view?The result?
Overall, a plurality of Canadians believed that pharmacare should only cover those Canadians who are not currently covered through some other existing government or private plan. Here's another:
To what extent are you concerned about the following issues related to a national pharmacare program?

Replacing your current private prescription drug plan with a public plan that would have fewer choices

Increased cost to governments if patients use more prescription drugs than they do now

The ability of governments to administer the plan efficiently and effectivelyThe result?
Although Canadians were supportive of the proposed national pharmacare plan, most said they would be concerned if a national pharmacare program replaced their current plan with a public plan that had fewer options, if it increased costs to governments because patients use more prescription drugs than they do now, and of the ability of governments to administer the plan efficiently and effectively.I could go on, but I would encourage you to visit the poll results to see more of the questions asked that guarantee the results the pharmacists sought.

I promised at the start that I would say more about the author of this article, Yanick Labrie, who is described as an economist at the Montreal Economic Institute. A visit to the website will tell you all you need to know about its ideological economic leanings, as will as a list of present and former executive members, which includes former Harper favourite Maxime Bernier and right-wing commentator and analyst Tasha Kheiriddin. The vice president is currently Jasmin Guénette, former director of public affairs who came back after spending two years at the Institute for Humane Studies in Virginia, an organization that can most charitably be described as an American libertarian outfit.

By all means, let us have a national debate about pharmacare. But let it be an honest one that leaves aside the demagoguery and distortions that currently abound on this issue.Recommend this Post

Shad and Kanye West . . . .

kirbycairo - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 08:09
Yesterday Shad (CBC radio personality) regaled us with a defense of rapper Kanye West. (I find it amazing that anyone has to come to the defense of a person worth a couple of hundred million dollars but culture and the cult of personality is a funny thing) Shad is, apparently, upset that people have been actively resisting West’s performances at events such as Glastonbury and now the Pan Am closing ceremonies. Shad has two bones to pick with resistance to Kanye West’s naysayers. On the one hand Shad objects to people personally judging West and letting that personal judgment colonize their aesthetic opinion of the rapper. On the other hand he wants us to know what a great musician West is and how important it is for his various detractors to understand this.
Shad begins his argument with the logically bizarre contention that it is “arrogant” for people to judge people who they don’t know personally. This is such a strange claim on Shad’s part that I almost don’t think it deserves response. But I feel compelled to say something given the fact that Shad is a replacement personality to the now infamous Jian Ghomeshi, whom we all feel compelled to judge. I suggest to Shad, that there is absolutely nothing arrogant about judging people with whom we are not personally acquainted, particularly people who have chosen to make myriad aspects of their personal life a public affair. I am sure Shad actively make judgments of people he doesn’t know – Paul Benardo and Charles Mason come immediately to mind. Our judgments of people who we don’t personally know need to be treated with caution but let’s not pretend that there is something “arrogant” about it. I suspect Shad is letting his personal feelings about Kanye West interfere with his power as a logician here. However, there is a wider issue that needs to be addressed which is how we let our personal feelings about an artist influence how we react to their work or performance. Shad tells us that he “doesn’t have time to talk about his [West’s] citizenship or his wife or why those conversations are hugely problematic” for him. From how this statement is worded we can, I suppose, presume that Shad doesn’t even want us to talk about West and his personal life. But we need to disabuse Shad of the notion that we can be restricted in our discourse about performers and their personal lives. Now generally, I agree, that there is something strange about letting our personal feelings about an artist play a large part in our judgment of their work. There is a sense in which an artist’s work stands as a kind of cultural document separate from the individual artists and their various contextual issues. The exception is when that part of their personality that we find objectionable enters into their artwork in a significant way, as it does, for example, with a racist writer like Rudyard Kipling. There are many artists to whom I object personally but whose work I adore.
But let me say that Shad (if he has any pretensions of being a cultural critic) should understand that a guy like Kanye West is a special case. West has not only let his personal life become a matter of public record but he has embraced the corporate-driven cult of mega-star personality in a way that few have. We live in an age of art as commerce, and this commerce is increasingly driven by large, corporate institutions. Kanye has not only embraced this, but he has become a ‘mover and a shaker’ in this process. Thus, judgment of West’s personality plays into our judgment of him as a performer in part because he wants it to; he has helped to generate this cult of personality so he can hardly complain when it affects him. But there is something even bigger at stake than this here. And this is the issue of the culture of the empty celebrity. We not only live in an age of art as commerce but we also live in an age of the empty celebrity; people who are famous for no reason than their status as reality television stars. Of course, there have always been people who have garnered fame for reasons that have nothing to do with their merit in terms of achievement. But with the age of ‘reality television’ this has become a full-fledged cultural phenomenon. And I would argue that this phenomenon is one of the more toxic aspects of modern culture. The Paris Hiltons, Honey Boo-boos, and yes Kim Kardashians of the world are anathema to the very notion of art and artistic integrity because they make celebrity and wealth the very guiding principle of achievement. One no longer has to have a talent, pursue meaningful endeavours, or make a genuine effort to become competent, one simply has to have a pretty face, and nice round ass and have a penchant for showing off at a monumental scale (as well as have an unquenchable thirst to be rich). Keep in mind too that most of these people who are famous for being famous are women who trade on their sexuality. Some might say that this has always been, to one degree or another, a central aspect of success in capitalism. But it has reached new heights in contemporary, technologically driven society. And here is the important part – Kanye West has willfully become a central part in that cultural poison. I find Kanye West’s arrogance and conceit highly distasteful. But lots of artists (and people in general) are arrogant. I can look past that to a degree. What I can’t look past is the way that the cult of personality, the drive for fame at all costs regardless of skill or talent, the hyper-sexualization of women just to get ahead, and the corporatism of culture have infected our society and the important role that Kayne West has invested in that in his art and personal life. That’s not arrogance Shad, that’s cultural critique.
Now let me just deal briefly with Shad’s other point, and that is Kanye West’s merit as a performer. I don’t want to get too deeply into this in as much as Shad is certainly entitled to his aesthetic opinion, and I will even concede that when it comes to music he is certainly more qualified than I to express that opinion. But, having said that, I must take issue with a couple of things that Shad has said. Shad concedes that commercial success is not a “great measure of artistic merit.” Let me say that Shad is hedging his bets here. Let me say that commercial success is NO measure of artistic merit. If it were Rod Mckuen would be a greater poet than Keats, and Thomas Kinkade would be a greater painter than Turner. However, what Shad does put a lot of stock in is Kanye West’s “critical” success. But here history has an almost equally dismal record as it does in commercial success, at least in an artist’s lifetime. History is littered with artists who gained plenty of critical success in their lives only to be thrown on the dustbin of history later on. And conversely, a huge number of artists who are now considered “great” garnered nothing but contempt from critics while they were alive. Though the list of such ‘critical’ failures is far too long to recite, let me use one interesting example. In 1798 two entirely unknown poets published a book entitled Lyrical Ballads which was roundly condemned almost everywhere it was given critical attention. That book is now considered by many as one of the most important, if not the most important, single books in English poetry. Those two poets were none other than William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge. These two artists were, for most of their lives treated with utter contempt by the critical community. And the reason for the condemnation was fairly straightforward – the critical community represented the establishment. Even where the critics were not politically conservative, they were aesthetically so. On the other hand many very successful artists garnered great critical as well as commercial success only to be forgotten. The French novelist Eugene Sue is a great example. He was the toast of Paris in the mid-nineteenth century, critics loved him and the people bought his books. Similarly, the Dutchman Lourens Alma Tadema was the most successful painter of the entire Victorian era. His fame now pales in comparison to the Pre-Raphaelites who were working at the same time and who were slain by almost every critic and struggled to make any kind of living.
Furthermore, when it comes to critical acclaim, Shad would do well to remember that it is seldom objective. The very notion of independent theatre criticism didn’t even exist, for example, until the advent of the work of the great Leigh Hunt in England. Before that, theatre critics were so closely tied to actors, producers, and theatre owners that good periodical critiques of plays relied on little more than connections (or in some cases money because some theatre owners simply paid for good reviews). But even where critical acclaim has not been so obviously corrupted, it is a phenomenon that should always be treated with suspicion. Blackwell’s Magazine spent decades attacking the Romantic poets because of a host of personal prejudices on the part of their various editors, actual personal issues with some of the poets themselves, political and class bigotry, and simple aesthetic conservatism. Meanwhile they lauded poets like George Crabbe, for example, who aren’t even read today in the rarified atmosphere of university classes. I am not necessarily saying that all critiques are as tainted as theatre criticism was in, say, London in 1800, but it should always be treated with caution. Another thing Shad would do well to remember is the statement by the great George Orwell –
The more I see the more I doubt whether people ever really make aesthetic judgments at all. Everything is judged on political grounds which are then given an aesthetic disguise. When, for instance, Eliot can’t see anything good in Shelley or anything bad in Kipling, the real underlying reason must be that the one is a radical and the other a conservative.

Regardless of where you stand on such a philosophical contention, it should be clear that the success of an artist in her own lifetime is little indication of long term influence or an historical reputation. I understand that Shad wants us to take West’s critical success seriously and it should be a factor in whether we boycott his work or appearances. However, my reply to Shad is that anyone with any kind of historical knowledge of art, its successes or failures, would put little stock in sales or critiques when it comes to judging an artist’s work. Shad obviously thinks that Kanye West is a great musician, that’s fine, maybe he is, I don’t know. But I will let history make that judgment. But if Shad really wants us to embrace the work and performance of West he scores few points with me by failing to realistically deal with West’s place in a poison culture of personality cult, his sales as a performer, nor his success with the critics who often represent  a corporate culture of extreme wealth. On the other hand, if Shad wants to tell me why he actually thinks West is worth listening to, I am all ears.

The Lemming Party of Canada

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 07:08
Shorter Scott Reid:
There is no indignity which we Libs we won't suffer, and no evil which we won't allow ourselves to be strongarmed into supporting, if it means marginally saving face for the leader irresponsible enough to embrace them in the first place.

Tough on Crime. Oh. Wait. Not "That" Crime

Dammit Janet - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 06:17

The Conservative Party of Canada, aka The Party That Never Met a Victim of Crime It Wouldn't Bust a Gut to Stand Beside for a Photo-Op, must be gnashing its teeth.

It has brought forward a Victims' Bill of Rights raising the role of victims to USian levels of consideration in the justice system, but is missing out on a HUGE opportunity.

Sadly, pregnant women are often targets of violence.
Does it happen in pregnancy?
Tragically, yes. Domestic violence during pregnancy sometimes puts both the mom-to-be and her baby’s life at risk. Here's some of the evidence:
• Statistics Canada reports that 40 per cent of the Canadian women who were abused during pregnancy reported that the abuse began during pregnancy.
• Women abused during pregnancy were four times as likely as other abused women to report having experienced very serious violence, including being beaten up, choked,
• Of the women who were abused during pregnancy, approximately 18% reported that they had suffered a miscarriage or other internal injuries as a result of the abuse.
And there's been a recent, particularly horrible case that resulted in the deaths of both woman and fetus.

Friends and family of Cassandra Kaake are outraged that the accused will not face a separate charge of murder for the death of the fetus. They are clamouring for the return of "unborn victims" legislation, complete with petition, website, and heart-tugging moniker, "Molly Matters."

While the good people behind this effort seem not to understand the hornet's nest such legislation would kick open, opportunists from Big Fetus® like the Dominionist astroturf gang, We Need a Law Like a Hole in the Head, certainly do, and are exploiting the hell out of the family's grief.

All sad.

Except. . .

The Boys in Short Pants who must be tearing their hair that they are under an interdict from Herr Harper NOT to reopen the abortion debate.

Which any governmental backing of "unborn victims" legislation would certainly accomplish.

So, there's that.

A week in politics

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 06:09
…rising slowly to its climax: a report that Stephen Harper now wants to abolish the Senate. His creatures there have been giving him a black eye, and only now has he looked in the mirror. Wow, what a shiner! Will... Dr.Dawg

This lake is about to fall off a cliff in the Northwest Territories as permafrost melts

Metaneos - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 06:00
Vancouver Sun
The Earth changes in ways we can fathom. It's not quantum physics. Us lay people should be able to understand this much.
The Earth changes. So too should we change.
Even speaking out can help. Raise your voice, even if only a little, in favour of the change which must come.
Otherwise, we place ourselves into a position untenable.
Do not let pessimism erode your heart, as misfortune has brought to the edge this lonely lake.
In your heart beats the blood of your antecedents. Their wisdom and strength, along with your own, can empower you to do what you are able.

Backlash Bites

Dammit Janet - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 05:38
I know I said I was done with the sick puppies running the fetal gore porn campaign, No2Trudeau, but this is too delicious.

Terence Young, CPC MP for Oakville, said he wrote a letter to the Fetal Gore Gang.

Here it is. (Click to enlarge.)

Last paragraph: "Rather than changing the hearts of minds of people on abortion, these flyers will ensure most people will never listen to anything you have to say."

That's harsh enough, but consider the source. Campaign Lie gives Young cautious approval. (It seems he said abortion should be allowed for "rape, incest or disabled," displaying an unacceptable level of compassion.)

When even your usual allies are disgusted -- or getting so many outraged complaints from constituents that they feel they must say Something -- you might want to rethink your tactics.

Ha. Not this deranged gang. Watch. They'll double down.

Previous posts on No2Trudeau.

Facts Are His Enemy

Northern Reflections - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 05:29

Stephen Harper claims that the upcoming election will be about security vs. risk. For once, Murray Dobbin agrees with him. What Dobbin is opposed to is Harper's claim that his Conservative government is the unquestionable home of security -- be it economic or national.

Consider Harper's  -- and other past governments' -- economic accomplishments:

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.
And on the national security file, Harper has made Canada a bulls eye for terrorists:

As for the kind of security Harper likes to talk about, we are in fact less secure now under the Conservatives' policies than we have ever been. Harper's foreign policy could easily make us targets for the very "jihadists" that he rails on about. His involvement in the destruction of Libya, his aggressive stance in Afghanistan, the carte blanche he provides Israel in its brutal oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the illegal occupation of the West Bank, and his comically ineffective "engagement" in the war on ISIL all contribute to terrorists identifying Canada as a reasonable target for retribution.

If we actually had some smattering of national interests in the Middle East, it could be argued that the risk is worth it. But we don't. The net result is not only increased national insecurity but the trampling of our rights to privacy and our civil liberties with Bill C-51 -- legislation that does nothing to enhance our defence against terror but dramatically undermines our personal security as citizens.
Mr. Harper's record speaks for itself. But he will do everything he can to obscure it. Facts are his enemy.

Simon's Summer and the Great Con War on the Senate

Montreal Simon - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 03:39

Well I have to admit that I too am now deep into the Canadian summer, and don't feel like writing about politics, or doing anything too strenuous. I just want to have fun with my buddy Sébastien.

As humble as that might be. 

Yikes. How low have I fallen?

But I just HAD to share this great joke with you.

It seems that Stephen Harper and his fellow oil pimp Brad Wall are about to declare war on the Con Senate !!! 
Read more »

Terrorism-To-Go Advisory System

Creekside - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 00:51

Rob Nicholson's communications team set Foreign Affairs bureaucrats a quota of producing three terrorism-related statements per week for minister Rob Nicholson to make to the media. They were to be crafted from an event reported by the news media. 
"One Foreign Affairs bureaucrat, who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity, said: "We're not making a special effort to fulfil this odd request."What a bunch of slackers. 

Here's 6 terrorism-related news reports from just the past 24 hours :

1) Inquisitr, July 23 : Lafayette Movie Theater Shooting: Terrorism Fears Raised After Six Shot In Louisiana TheaterOld white guy starts shooting spree 20 minutes into the movie Trainwreck
2) Intercept, July 22 : Why Wasn't Dylann Roof Charged With Terrorism?Dylann Roof, the white 21-year-old man who allegedly gunned down nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17 in order to "start a race war" not charged with domestic terrorism.3) Truthdig, July 22 : Israel Brands Rock-Throwing at Moving Vehicles as Terrorism; Charge Could Carry Up to 20 Years in Prison"Tolerance toward terrorists ends today. A stone-thrower is a terrorist and only a fitting punishment can serve as a deterrent and just punishment,” Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said"4) Guardian, July 23 : Canada's controversial terrorism law criticised by UN human rights group
5) CBC, July 22 : Bureaucrats told to provide Rob Nicholson 3 terrorism-related statements a week
6) Ricochet, July 22 : Why the Harper government flatters Saudi Arabia’s tyrants“The honourable minister [Mackay] expressed his appreciation for the major leading role played by the kingdom on the international arena,” wrote Prince Saud. “He emphasized Canada’s desire to develop relations with the kingdom in all fields.”OK so that last one admittedly doesn't have the word terrorism right in its header like the others but just add this handy graph and you're good to go :

So there ya go, Rob. You're welcome..

..Stay Away from Runaround Soudas…

Left Over - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 16:04
Dimitri Soudas buys Liberal membership ahead of Eve Adams’s nomination vote

Adams, rival Marco Mendicino vie Sunday for party’s nomination in Eglinton-Lawrence riding
By Laura Payton, CBC News Posted: Jul 23, 2015 5:42 PM ET Last Updated: Jul 23, 2015 6:28 PM ET

OMG… Wish I could sand-blast my eyes to get rid of the image…but it’s too late…

The double-trouble sleazebag brigade has well and truly landed at the feet of Junior Trudeau, whose troubles of late are enormous, mostly self-inflicted…

Junior, your daddy would have been the first one to tell you to never try and trip up an experienced, consummate parliamentarian like Mulcair…it’s sheer stupidity on JT’s part to  try and go head -to-head with someone with an  infinitely superior political skill set like  his NDP rival..

And to add to his  Quebec woes  this sort of ugliness, two of Harper’s more ridiculous  rejects, bagman and baguette,  are possibly the last bit of banana peel presenting itself for ultimate slippage in the polls..

This is so typical of Liberals, to welcome with an oily smile any  lowlife Con reject,  sure, join us…and it definitely illustrates the long held  view of most progressives that there is little difference to choose between Cons and Libs…except a party membership and a willing media’s  photo-op to set our teeth on edge..

OOOHHHH, the horror…..

Whereupon, Whipped, I Return to Sears, My Tail Tucked Between My Legs.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 10:55
About seven years ago I invested in a good, mid-grade gas range.  In addition to the usual burner dials or knobs, it came with a digital control panel where you would find the clock, timer, self-clean control, convection control and all the standard oven settings (bake, broil, etc.) and probe cooking.

It was still under warranty when the digital control panel failed but the vendor sent out a repair guy and he installed the replacement part in the course of which he told me how damned expensive it was and, worse yet, that it was the most vulnerable, failure-prone component of them all.  I've been leery of that stove ever since.

Things began failing.  The oven light system went down.  The thermal glass pane on the inside of the oven door cracked.  They were inconvenient but no huge deal.  Then the dreaded control panel failed yet again.

If you're not familiar with them, there are appliance parts stores where you can buy spares.  All you need is the manufacturer and the model number.  Plug that info into the search window,  call it up and you can expect to find a schematic, an "exploded view," showing all the parts and their numbers.  You can check out the prices, fill out your order and, usually quite quickly, the needed parts will be delivered to your door.


Not so fast.  I decided I'd look into replacing the control panel and, while I was at it, the other spare parts that I need.  The damned thing is only seven years old, why throw it out?  Then I found out why.

Of all the parts listed in those schematic diagrams they're all no longer available except for that cursed control panel and it's over $500 plus tax plus shipping plus installation and there's only just two of them left.  I even called the manufacturer only to be told that they haven't had parts for that model for a number of years and I should contact the spare parts suppliers.

So, here's the deal.  My dilemma is whether I spring for the replacement control panel which with taxes, shipping and installation will probably set me back upwards of $800 after which I'll be left with a mainly functioning gas range but knowing that if that panel also fails I'll have to buy a new range or do I just bite the bullet, write the damned thing off, and replace it now?

That's the dilemma but it's not my pet peeve.  What really gets under my skin is that there's no requirement on the manufacturer to ensure a ready supply of spares for at least ten years.  Letting them off the hook is tantamount to inviting them to engineer premature obsolescence in their products.  Why should they make something that's good for ten or fifteen years if they can flog products that most buyers will have to replace starting after just five years?

This brings to mind a study by Germany's Federal Environment Agency last March that found that the rate of premature failure of white goods (appliances) had increased significantly but found no smoking gun pointing to "built-in obsolescence."  Guess what?  I know what the Germans overlooked.  A failure of the manufacturers to maintain an appropriate inventory of spare parts for a reasonable period.  There's your "planned obsolescence" staring you right in the face.

I would dearly like to keep my gas range for another 10-years.  Once you get past 60 you appreciate things like that.  But I can't.  So I'm stuck having to buy another appliance and, quite possibly, another after that if I'm again unlucky. And for what? Because we let these manufacturers off the hook.


Change for the better

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 08:17
It seems so long ago when it was conventional wisdom that no party in contention for government in Canada would dare talk about cooperating to get things done, no matter how many voters wanted to see it happen.

But if there was any doubt that the NDP can change Ottawa's underlying assumptions, we can put that to rest.

About that "One Child" Rule?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 08:13
China seems poised to breed itself out of a looming demographic problem.  The most populous nation on Earth may scrap its old "one child" rule in favour of a "two child" limit for new families.

Thirty-five years after enacting draconian birth control rules blamed for millions of forced abortions and the creation of a demographic “time bomb”, China could be on the verge of introducing a two-child policy.

The new regulation, under which all Chinese couples would be allowed to have two children, could be implemented “as soon as the end of the year if everything goes well,” a government source was quoted as saying by the China Business News.

Liang Zhongtang, a demographer from the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, said the one-child policy “should have been abolished long ago”.

“The core issue is not about one-child or two-children. It’s about reproductive freedom. It’s about basic human rights. In the past, the government failed to grasp the essence of the issue.”

If there's one thing the world needs right now, it's a baby boom in China.  Yeah, right.

While All Eyes Were on Athens

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 08:06
Media accounts have given the impression that Greece is the locus of the malaise endangering European unity and the E.U.  However fiscal woes extend the breadth of the EU Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibralter and over to the Irish Sea - Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece.  Indeed, many say German chancellor Angela Merkel's belligerence toward Athens was fueled by what it could mean to those other nations if she budged on Greece.

In perpetually restive Italy, even the grand city of Rome has succumbed to "degrado."

The grass in some public parks sways knee high. Disgruntled subway workers have slowed service to a crawl. Fire has rendered the city's largest airport crammed and chaotic. The arrests of public officials pile up, revealing mob infiltration of the city government.

It all adds up to what Romans call "degrado" - the degradation of services, buildings and their standard of living - and the general sense that their ancient city is falling apart. Even more than usual.

Italy's Forconi (pitchforks) movement in December, 2013, saw masses of Italians of all political persuasions rise up in opposition to their government's austerity policies.  The protesters blocked streets and auto routes, stopped trains, battled with police and almost brought Italy to a standstill.
Italy was carrying the highest debt burden in the E.U. after Greece.
Meanwhile Spanish voters will be going to the polls sometime before December 20th.  The election date is expected to fall in late November.  Spain has it's own Syriza called Podemos that some believe/hope will emerge at least holding the balance of power in a multi-party parliament not given to coalition governments.
It would be nice to think that at least the Greek problem is settled but it's far from over.  No one has any real idea of where Greece will be headed over the next year or two.  Will Greece remain in NATO?  Might Putin offer a better deal?  No one's sure but no one seems to be ruling anything out either.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 08:03
Here, taking a look at the voter pools the NDP will be looking to win over in order to come out ahead in if this fall's federal election turns into a two-party race. And I'll note that while Alberta may serve as the most recent precedent, similar patterns can be found in the NDP's previous rises to power in other provinces.

For further reading...
- Both Nanos and EKOS have polled as to the federal parties' accessible and second-choice support, with the NDP currently leading the pack on both fronts.
- And for more about the business groups who have reason to want to see a change from the Cons, Dean Beeby discusses the problems facing Canada's manufacturing sector. Daniel Tencer reported on tech industry opposition to Bill C-51. And Karen Briere reports on how the Trans-Pacific Partnership is creating uncertainty in supply-managed agricultural sectors, while Michael Geist highlighted some of the other obvious costs of the deal.


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