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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

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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If You've Got a Facebook Page

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:33
You might want to post this.  Anyone with daughters can appreciate this Lesley Gore classic from the Department of Peace:

"You Don't Own Me" PSA - Upworthy from The Department of Peace on Vimeo.


The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:23
By Canadian standards it was pretty exciting, enough to get the thickened blood of wintertime coursing through our veins.

With apologies in advance to Sally Fields - They HATE Us!!  They Really, Really, Hate Us!!!

A couple of guys with (unregistered) long guns went on a bit of a shooting spree in downtown Ottawa.  They shot a soldier standing duty at the National War Memorial.  Then one of the gunmen made a bee line for the Centre Block and more gunfire ensued, apparently leaving the gunman dead.

The second, or "multiple gunmen", gunman is believed to be running for safety in Quebec (hmm, possibly NDP?  Best interrogate Mulcair.  Give him the treatment.)

Even from way out here on Vancouver Island you can hear the loud droning noise of the Ottawa spin machines at full revs.

C'mon, they had to be Muslims, right?  Somehow you just know.  And if they weren't Muslims this morning why, sure as shit, they'll be Muslims by the end of the day.

Okay, I'll grant you this.  As the kids would say, "it was a thing." Then again, let's have a bit of perspective.  It wasn't much of a thing, not really.

How many times during Obama's tenure has the White House taken gunshots? Hint - more than a couple.

Just curious.  Why do we have soldiers standing around the National War Memorial?  In my day soldiers were there on Remembrance Day.  In a time of global and domestic terrorism why leave sitting duck targets out there, as inviting a target as a domestic terrorist could hope for. Why?

Terrorists ordinarily strike first.  The first shot or first bomb is theirs.  They get to decide how to attack, where, who and when.  So if it's a soldier ordered to stand stationary on the war memorial with a target on his chest well that's almost too good to pass up when the terrorist blood lust takes hold.

I think Stevie Boy has some 'splaining to do.  He's been warning us about domestic terrorism, well, forever or at least it seems like forever.  The way he tells it, again and again, the terrr-rists have sleeper cells from Flin Flon to Port Hardy.  Surely that would put Ottawa right in their crosshairs.

Just how in hell did a gunman, on foot, open fire at the war memorial and then make it from there into the Centre Block with a long gun?  I know it's not that far but it's far enough that he should never have made it inside the Parliament buildings.  The initial gunshots would have been heard on Parliament Hill in ample time to secure the buildings.  There are a lot of questions in need of answers.

By the sounds of it, we were lucky.  Just a pair of nutjobs with rifles.  No explosives, no heavy weapons.  About as unsophisticated an attack as we could hope for.  The shooting at the war memorial was really, really dumb.  If they knew how to get into the Parliament buildings with guns, alerting everyone first at the war memorial was just stupid.

Oh I cringe at the thought of the political capital that'll be squeezed out of the body of the soldier who never should have been on Target Duty at the war memorial anyway.

To the soldier's family and to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, whose turn it was to stand guard at the memorial, my genuine sympathies and regrets that we have a government so craven as to put this soldier at such obvious risk.

The shades of night

Dawg's Blawg - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 08:55
Two connected items of interest in the past few days. First, Harper sends his CRA squadristi to harass a bunch of birdwatchers who dared write to a couple of Ministers to express concerns about the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on... Dr.Dawg

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 06:17
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Stephanie Levitz reports on the Broadbent Institute's study showing that Con-friendly charities haven't been facing any of the strict scrutiny being used to silence anybody who dares to speak up for environmental or social causes. And Jeremy Nuttall notes that the problem is probably worse than it seems from the outside, as charities are clamming up for fear of calling more attention to themselves:
Tom Henheffer is the executive director of Toronto-based Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, an organization with board members including journalists for the Toronto Star and CBC.

Henheffer said the Broadbent Institute's study confirms what has been suspected since the audits began.

"They want to bully people into not speaking out against them, that's the entire point of the audit," he said. "And it's working, that's the really sad thing."

While investigating the story The Tyee has had charities decline to comment or divulge information about those conducting the charity audits, saying they fear retribution from the government.

Henheffer said he's heard the same sentiments, adding organizations are "terrified" and checking with their lawyers. - Meanwhile, the climate of fear is now spreading toward the Cons' treatment of individuals, as Tim Harper discusses how irrational fearmongering about terrorism figures to be used as an excuse to attack privacy rights. And Paul Adams writes that the Cons have plainly decided to make that fearmongering a central part of their next election campaign.

- But then, it's not only state actors who are working on suppressing individual freedoms, as Rosa Marchitelli reports on the growing list of corporations who are bullying people into silence about their bad business practices. (Clearly nobody could have foreseen such a development.)

- Joe Friesen and Renata D'Aliesio point out that the lack of accurate information about First Nations employment is allowing employers to hire temporary foreign workers rather than do anything to develop the pool of indigenous Canadians who would be able to do the work.

- Finally, Marc Lee rightly slams the B.C. Libs for yet another giveaway to the resource sector, this time a new set of gratuitous royalty and tax cuts for the liquified natural gas developers who were supposed to offer an economic panacea.

RevCan : From Hayek to birdwatchers

Creekside - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 05:28
The Broadbent Institute released a study yesterday suggesting Canada Con Revenue Agency tax auditors are targeting critics of the Harper government about their allotted 10% political activities while letting right-leaning groups off the hook. How very timely.

David Akin
"The group reviewed tax filings of 10 right-leaning charities, including the Fraser Institute, the Montreal Economic Institute, and Focus on the Family, and found that in each of the past three tax years, none of them declared spending anything on political activity."Say, what? Focus on the FamilySpankingGaysAbortion Canada has forsworn all political lobbying out of their $9.4M mansion of many rooms in Langley,BC? When did that happen? Must have been some time after FotF CEO Darrel Reid left them to become Steve's director of policy and deputy chief of staff in the PMO from 2007 til 2010, followed up by his two year stint as VP of the Manning Centre. Easy enough to overlook FotF's public support in 2013 for Mark Warawa's abortion reach-around I guess. 

And Charles McVety's Institute for Canadian Values? No political activity there at all last year : 
“We, the undersigned, appeal to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Minister of Justice, Peter MacKay, to create legislation to protect our country’s little boys and girls from the horrors of prostitution.” they said in a petition protesting the Supremes having shot down previous anti-prostitution legislation. There was also another petition and presser to protest against Christian schools being forced to have "homosexual clubs" if anti-bullying legislation was passed.

Who else we got in the "No political activities" check box ?

Fraser Institute : Political activities? Ha ha ha ha.

Energy Probe Research Foundation? Hey, that's the tanky run by National Post columnist Lawrence Solomon!  Self-described as “one of Canada's leading environmentalists”, Mr. Solomon wrote a book called "The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud" based on his many denier NaPo articles.
Broadbent Institute quotes EPRF :
“Energy Probe was one of only two ‘pressure’ groups cited by the inaugural edition of The Canadian Encyclopedia for being effective in influencing our country’s policies. …EPRF also influences policy decisions. Our views are heard by provincial and federal legislative committees, environmental assessment boards, and other regulatory agencies when we testify at hearings on a wide variety of pressing issues.”Macdonald-Laurier Institute : New kids on the block and Hayek devotee Brian Lee Crowley's other venue. Reducing business taxes, reducing government spending, privatizing the healthcare system, and "working toward a common security perimeter with the United States". Jim Flaherty did them a start-up fundraiser in 2010.

Montreal Economic Institute. Teamed up with the Fraser Institute a few years back to co-sponsor "International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free", written by Mike Harris and Preston Manning :
" no reason to avoid action on our urgent national interest in pursuing a formal structure to manage irreversible economic and security integration with the United States."
As it happens, five of those ten think tanks the Broadbent Institute says the CRA is averting its eyes from - the Fraser Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, the MacDonald Laurier Institute, the Frontier Center for Public Policy, and the Montreal Economic Institute - all receive funding from Peter Munk of Barrick Gold through his Aurea Foundation. The heads of those 5 tanks are all members of the Mont Pelerin Society,  aka Hayek's "dealerships" , or what Donald Gutstein explains as the think tanks that repackage neo-liberal ideas for easy public consumption through a media chain: 
Now I know what you're thinking - Jeez, Alison, a grand unified field theory conspiracy of birdwatching and Hayek? Is the Mont Pelerin Society going to become the new Bilderberg boogieman? Birds of a neo-liberal or libertarian feather flock and fund together - so what? 
    Well, given that Harper has shuttered research stations, closed science libraries, muzzled scientists and public servants, gutted StatsCan, frozen FOI requests, and sidelined Parliament, his own MPs, and the national press -- given all that, if he is also successful at chilling out any organized charity opposition in the public sphere, then Hayek's so-called "dealerships" will be one step closer to entirely pwning promedia for forming public opinion.

    My own theory? Whereas the rw tankies all marked the box "political activities" with "0%", the birdwatchers et al dutifully filled theirs in - making life just that much easier on CRA auditors.

    FYI - Here's the CRA's guidelines for what constitutes political activities :
    • i. explicitly communicates a call to political action (that is, encourages the public to contact an elected representative or public official and urges them to retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country);
    • ii. explicitly communicates to the public that the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country should be retained (if the retention of the law, policy or decision is being reconsidered by a government), opposed, or changed; or
    • iii. explicitly indicates in its materials (whether internal or external) that the intention of the activity is to incite, or organize to put pressure on, an elected representative or public official to retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country.
    • iv. explicitly no bees
    Ok, so I made that last one up..

    Reactions To Michael Harris' Book On Harper

    Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 05:22

    Star readers weigh in with their usual perspicacity as they reflect on the message of Michael Harris' new book, Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, discussed previously in this blog:

    Is there a despot in the House? Insight Oct. 19

    As journalist Michael Harris’ book points out, Canada has already undergone a sea change under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s secretive, dominant rule. Soon the attack ads will try to convince us that we would be mad to trust anyone other than Harper’s steady hand at the tiller.

    That he is leading us straight over a waterfall, especially in areas like climate change and biological sciences denial (think of the need for research in non-petroleum areas such as water pollution or the collapse of bee colonies) doesn’t concern us nearly enough.

    Nor did Harper ever ask us if we wanted a 100-fold increase across the country in hazard fuel shipments, or, for that matter, American-style gun control. He just patiently escalated the former and whittled away at the latter.

    The twin tragedies of Lac-Meganic and Moncton will be as much a part of his legacy as his accidental tightfistedness with expenditure. I say accidental, because he was intending to blow the wad on 65 F-35s and indenture us to American arms maker, Lockheed Martin.

    Could it be that the Republican-style fear tactics used by these Tories will scare us off for voting for progressives at both the national and municipal level?

    Ron Charach, Toronto

    This book brings to mind the story: if a frog is placed in boiling water it will immediately jump out; but if it is placed in cool water and the heat slowly raised, the frog will sit there and die as it cooks.

    This book brings to our attention that we Canadians are that frog and that the temperature of the water is rising. It is time to jump.

    David Kister, Toronto

    The Harper government’s narrow political agenda acts like a deaf, dumb and blind juggernaut ruthlessly wielding its power as if we Canadians and our democratic parliamentary system of governance are simply obstacles to be overcome.

    Under Mr. Harper’s leadership we have witnessed the relentless erosion of our democracy, of our civil rights, our cherished reputation for fair and open elections, our influence as leaders on the world stage and most insidious of all, our belief in ourselves as citizens and the efficacy of civil participation.

    His aggressive brand of partisanship ominously appears to have no bounds, nor his willingness to constrain or silence those not in agreement with his policies or initiatives. At risk are the institutions and values that are the very heart of who we are as a nation.

    We cannot be side-tracked by our political differences or our disgust with politicians behaving badly or even fear of reprisal. Our silence is the Harper government’s greatest ally.

    June Osborne, Camrose, Alta.Recommend this Post

    Stephen Harper, The Great Fear, and the Great War on Justin

    Montreal Simon - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 05:20

    Uh oh. Now we really are at war again. The ominous signs are unmistakable.

    The CF-18s are on the way to the Middle East. 

    To save us from the ISIS hordes that would behead us in our beds. Or mow us down in a Tim Horton's parking lot.

    Because you're not safe anywhere eh? And even if you arrest them you can't stop them.

    The dreaded Threat Level, which I didn't even know existed, is glowing yellow. 

    And in the Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse, Stephen Harper has just fired another missile out of his rear orifice, in the general direction of Justin Trudeau...
    Read more »

    Say What? How Bad Is It?

    The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 16:03
    To quote Sverker Göransson, Sweden's top military commander, "it's fucked up."Referring to Sweden's so far fruitless search for a suspected Russian sub lurking somewhere around the islands off its capital,  he said, "This is very serious. I would even go so far as to say, to say that it's fucked up."  
    The Swedish military won't even say that they're hunting a submarine.  They have, however, described it as a vessel that was spotted surfacing.  I guess you have to connect the dots yourself.

    The Swedish military has released a map of the Stockholm archipelago showing five sightings of the apparent submarine.  The map also reveals how easy it is for a submarine to hide among the myriad of inlets, bays and channels.

    Another Group Shames Harper

    Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 13:36

    It is to be hoped that the closer we move to next year's election, more and more Canadians will be wagging their fingers at Stephen Harper for his various acts of destruction in this country. For now, let's enjoy the fact that this group is doing it for us:
    An organization known for its efforts to improve scientific integrity within the U.S. government is taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over policies and funding cuts that it says are detrimental to Canadian public science.

    In an open letter released Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged Mr. Harper to lift a communications protocol that prevents federal researchers from speaking with journalists without approval from Ottawa. The letter also refers to barriers that it says inhibit collaboration with colleagues in the broader scientific community.The letter, signed by over 800 academic researchers working outside of Canada,
    was released jointly with the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents more than 15,000 scientists employed within a range of government departments and agencies. It includes a reference to a PIPSC survey, conducted in 2013, which found that 90 per cent of more than 4,000 of the federal scientists who responded felt they could not speak freely about their work.Dennis Hansell, chairman of the Department of Ocean Sciences at the University of Miami and one of the signatories, said:
    “As a global scientist I need Canadians to be involved so I can get my work done too. If there’s any threat to that, that’s a problem,” said Dr. Hansell, who is in the midst of proposing a project in the Arctic that would require the co-ordination of U.S., German and Canadian research teams.Much of the world seems aware of the autocracy and fear that exists in Canada. Let's hope that sufficient numbers of Canadian voters will soon become similarly enlightened.
    Recommend this Post

    Pontifical Council to World Hindus - Globalization Sucks!

    The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:22
    The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has issued a heads up to world Hindus for Diwali, the Hindu Autumn festival of lights.

    In the message, released October 20 and entitled “Christians and Hindus: Together to Foster a Culture of ‘Inclusion,’” the Pontifical Council stated that “globalization has not achieved its primary objective of integrating local peoples into the global community. Rather, globalization has contributed significantly to many peoples losing their sociocultural, economic and political identities.”Globalization, the message continued, has contributed to relativism, syncretism, “a privatization of religion,” and “religious fundamentalism and ethnic, tribal and sectarian violence in different parts of the world.“Nurturing a culture of inclusion thus becomes a common call and a shared responsibility, which must be urgently undertaken,” the Pontifical Council added. “It is a project involving those who care for the health and survival of the human family here on earth and which needs to be carried out amidst, and in spite of, the forces that perpetuate the culture of exclusion.”

    A Nation Awash in Pigs and Guns. What's the Problem?

    The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:21

    How can a nation with a lunatic gun culture ever find itself at the mercy of pigs?

    The United States, or at least 39 States so far, is being overrun by a burgeoning population of wild pigs.  There's even a TV show about a family of L'il Abner rednecks who make their living at pig pest control.

    In the past 30 years ...their ranks have swollen until suddenly disease-carrying, crop-devouring swine have spread to 39 states. Now, wild pigs are five million strong and the targets of a $20-million federal initiative to get their numbers under control.

    Settlers first brought the ancestors of today’s pigs to the South in the 1600s and let them roam free as a ready supply of fresh pork. Not surprisingly, some of the pigs wandered off and thrived in the wild, thanks to their indiscriminate appetites.

    Wildlife biologists can’t really explain how pigs from a few pockets were able to extend their range so rapidly in recent years. “If you look at maps of pig distribution from the eighties, there's a lot of pigs, but primarily in Florida and Texas,” says Stephen Ditchkoff, a wildlife ecologist at Auburn University. “Today, populations in the southeast have exploded. In the Midwest and the north it's grown to be a significant problem.” Ditchkoff believes sportsmen transported the pigs so they could hunt them on their land.

    As pigs spread, they wreak havoc on the lands they inhabit. Wild pigs cause at least$1.5 billion in damages and control costs each year, according to a 2007 survey, mostly to agriculture. Dubbed the “rototillers of nature,” they dig up fields, create wallows in pastures and destroy fences. A church in Texas was so worried that pigs would devour its annual pumpkin sale that it lobbied the local government to let hunters stand watch over the patch at night. They were right to fret. The 2.6 million pigs in Texas cause $500 million in damage each year—a liability of $200 per pig. “I’ve never seen any one species that can affect so many livelihoods and resources,” says Michael Bodenchuk, state director of Texas Wildlife Services. He is particularly worried about harm to native species and the 400 stream segments in Texas that are infected with bacteria from the pigs’ defecation.
    Heeding concerns from state wildlife agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculturecreated a new national program in April to halt and reverse this trend. It aims to wipe out pigs from two states every three to five years and stabilize the population within a decade. Dale Nolte, national coordinator of the program, says his first priority will be states with the fewest pigs; he will then work back to those like Texas that are overrun. One reason he wants to confront the states with the fewest pigs first is because the animals reproduce rapidly once they invade an area. If 70 percent of the pigs in a region are killed, the remaining ones can have piglets fast enough to replace all those lost in just two and a half years.

    Dispossession by Negotiation - Harper's Approach to Native Land Rights

    The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 11:48
    In what appears to be "Shame on You, Canada" Day, the Guardian has a damning piece on how the Harper regime is intent on severing Canada's First Nations from their rightful claims to ancestral lands.

    First Nations have been emboldened by this summer’s Supreme Court of Canada William decision, which recognized the aboriginal title of the Tsilhqot’in nation to 1750 square kilometres of their land in central British Columbia – not outright ownership, but the right to use and manage the land and to reap its economic benefits.

    The ruling affects all “unceded” territory in Canada – those lands never signed away through a treaty or conquered by war. Which means that over an enormous land-mass – most of British Columbia, large parts of Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and a number of other spots – a new legal landscape is emerging that offers the prospect of much more responsible land stewardship.

    ...And the Canadian government’s response? Far from embracing these newly recognized Indigenous land rights, they are trying to accelerate their elimination. The court has definitively told Canada to accept the reality of aboriginal title: the government is doing everything in its power to deny it.

    This is what dispossession by negotiation looks like. The government demands that First Nations trade away – or in the original term, to “extinguish” – their rights to 95 percent of their traditional territory. Their return is some money and small parcels of land, but insidiously, as private property, instead of in the collective way that Indigenous peoples have long held and stewarded it. And First Nations need to provide costly, exhaustive proof of their rights to their own land, for which they have amassed a stunning $700 million in debt – a debt the government doesn’t think twice about using to arm-twist.

    ...Despite the pressure, most First Nations have not yet signed their names to these crooked deals – especially when the Supreme Court is simultaneously directing the government to reconcile with First Nations and share the land. But the Supreme Court’s confirmation that this approach is unconstitutional and illegal matters little to the government. What enables them to flout their own legal system is that Canadians remain scarcely aware of it.

    Acting without public scrutiny, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to shore up support for this policy – now forty years old – to finally secure the elimination of Indigenous land rights. The process is led by the same man, Douglas Eyford, who has been Harper’s advisor on getting tar sands pipelines and energy projects built in western Canada. That is no coincidence. The government is growing more desperate to remove the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of a corporate bonanza for dirty fossil fuels: the unceded aboriginal title of First Nations – backed now by the Supreme Court of Canada.

    ...That’s why the habit of government officials, of media and even of Supreme Court judges to call the Tsilhqoti’in “nomadic” bothers [Chief Roger] William so much: his people have lived on these lands for thousands of years, while it is non-natives who are constantly moving and resettling. And what could be more nomadic and transient than the extractive industry itself – grabbing what resources and profits it can before abandoning one area for another.

    As Canadians look more closely, they are discovering that the unceded status of vast territories across this country is not a threat, as they’ve long been told. It is a tremendous gift, protected with love by Indigenous nations over generations, to be seized for the possibilities it now offers for governing the land in a radically more just and sustainable way for everyone.
    n this battle between the love of the land and a drive for its destruction, those behind the extractive economy have everything to lose and Indigenous peoples everything to win. The rest of us, depending on our stand, have a transformed country to gain.

    What this article reminds us is that, in so many ways, Canada's First Nations are carrying the fight for us.  They're doing the heavy lifting.  They're blocking a rogue government that considers itself above the law whenever that suits it.  Maybe it's time we showed a little tangible support for everything our First Nations are doing to defend Canada.

    The New Republic Slams Harper, Abbott and Canada's "Government of Thugs"

    The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 11:19

    It's an American publication so you'll have to excuse the hyperbole.  The New Republic, in an article entitled, "These Two World Leaders are Laughing While the World Burns Up," obviously conflated Stephen Harper and his Australian ventriloquist's dummy, Tony Abbott, with "world leaders."

    Canada once had a shot at being the world's leader on climate change.  Back in 2002, our northern neighbours had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the world's first treaty that required nations to cut their emissions or face penalties.  In 2005, the country hosted an international climate change conference in Montreal, where then-Prime Minister Paul Martin singled out America for its indifference.  "To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say this: There is such a thing as a global conscience," Martin said.

    ...According to a 2014 Climate Change Performance Index from European groups Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch, Canada and Australia occupy the bottom two spots among all 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  Among the 20 countries with the largest economies (G20), only Saudi Arabia ranked lower than them. Canada and Australia's records on climate change have gotten so bad, they've become the go-to examples for Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who don't think climate change exists.

    ...On the way to his first trip in the U.S., Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stopped for a full day of talks with Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper in June. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Abbott was in Canada's capital with the intention of building a "conservative alliance among 'like-minded' countries" to try to dismantle global efforts on climate change. At a press conference that day, Harper applauded Abbott's efforts to gut Australia's carbon tax. "You’ve used this international platform to encourage our counterparts in the major economies and beyond to boost economic growth, to lower taxes when possible and to eliminate harmful ones, most notably the job-killing carbon tax," Harper said. He added that "we shouldn't clobber the economy" by pursuing an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax. 
    This is how Canada and Australia's top leaders frame global warming. The two stress that they will always choose short-term economic gain first, disregarding scientific findings and even the interests of their political allies in the process. The countries' abrupt shift on climate track conservatives' rise to a majority in Canada in 2011 and in Australia last year.

     The hostility toward environmental interests goes even deeper than energy policy. Harper has battled his own scientists, independent journalists, and environmental groups at odds with his views. 
     Climate scientists have reported that they are unable to speak to press about their own findings, feeling effectively "muzzled" by agencies that want to script talking points for them. In June, a government spokesperson explained that federal meteorologists must speak only "to their area of expertise," which does not include climate change, according to a government spokesperson. Journalists sometimes face bullying, too. Environmental author Andrew Nikiforuk told ThinkProgress that "a government of thugs" slandered him and shut him out of events. But environmentalists may fare the worst. Seven environmental nonprofits in Canada have accused the Canada Revenue Agency of unfairly targeting them for audits. According to internal documents obtained by The Guardian, Canada's police and Security Intelligence Service identified nonviolent environmental protests—like people who oppose hydrofracking and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline—as "forms of attack" fitting the "number of cases where we think people might be inclined to acts of terrorism."  ...A decade ago, our close allies due north and across the Pacific rightly shamed us on our poor response to climate change. Now, they've lost the moral high ground. At the September United Nations Climate Summit, the largest gathering of world leaders yet on the issue, both Abbott and Harper were no-shows. The ministers sent in their place also arrived empty-handed; Australia's foreign minister suggested that only larger countries should be responsible for more ambitious climate action. Canada Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq repeated an already-public commitment that Canada would copy Obama's fuel economy regulations requiring 35.5 miles per gallon. Afterward, in an interview with the Globe and Mail, Aglukkaq spoke of the unfairness of a global treaty. "It’s not up to one country to solve the global greenhouse-gas emissions. I mean, seriously now, it’s just not fair. We all have to do our part, big or small countries.” That's true. If only her small country would do its part, too.  A government of thugs indeed.  A government that disgraces our people and our country both at home and on the world stage.

    Really, Is This a Good Idea?

    The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 08:57

    Back in the days when General Motors ruled the world it was said that the business of America was business.   That's what came to mind on reading an item today about the US ordering more than a thousand Hellfire missiles on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Qatar.

    Just what is Saudi Arabia going to do with hundreds of Hellfire missiles?  They don't go to war.  We do that for them.  They do fund Islamic extremists of the sort that we wind up having to fight.  They do use their militaries to brutally suppress dissent, especially of the democratic kind.

    We've been arming those fanatical buggers, the princes and sheikhs who quietly fund outfits like al Qaeda and ISIS, to the teeth and what good has come of it?

    Let's hope these Hellfires don't find their way into the wrong hands, the guys who could use them against us.

    The Man Behind The Curtain

    Northern Reflections - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 07:16


    Andrew Coyne is a philosophical and an economic conservative. So one would expect that he would support the present government. But he saw through the facade long ago. Despite his conservative bias, he has very little good to say about the Harper government:

    If the nastiness of its politics is the dominant impression of this government, it is in part for lack of anything else to identify it. It seems so pointless, all this poisonous effort for so little actual accomplishment, until you realize that is the point: The partisanship is in place of the policy, not in pursuit of it. The end is only power, and power is, with few exceptions, the only thing of consequence this government has achieved.
    Coyne sees the government's critics as inconsequential -- a judgement that will either prove valid or invalid. Nonetheless, Coyne writes:

    It is the belief in this government’s consequentiality that, oddly, unites its critics and its friends. Much of that, I think, is bound up in the prime minister’s persona. Foes see a ruthless revolutionary; fans, a sober-sided, get ’er done chief executive, capable of making, as a Globe story put it recently, the “tough decisions.” He seems a formidable character, for good or ill: It is hard to believe that all that intelligence and self-discipline could not be in the service of some larger purpose, or at least some grander strategic design. Even dispassionate observers like Maclean’s magazine’s Paul Wells, in The Longer I’m Prime Minister, attribute to him a vast, if incremental, efficacy: so incremental it eludes the naked eye.
    That judgment has always seemed -- to me, at least -- weak minded. Harper is a Canadian version of the Wizard Oz. If he's been successful, it's because he has been allowed by an apathetic public to operate behind a curtain. And he does his best to keep the curtain drawn.

    Harper Regimed Deservedly Mocked and Disdained In House

    Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 06:05
    I often marvel at the ability of the Prime Minister and his minions to keep a straight face as they baldly lie to all of us. At least those lies came in for some much deserved mockery yesterday in the House of Commons:

    Recommend this Post

    Tuesday Morning Links

    accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 05:58
    This and that for your Tuesday reading.

    - Martha Friendly highlights how families at all income levels can benefit from a strong child care system:
    Isn’t it the Canadian way to include people from diverse groups and social classes in community institutions like public schools, community recreation facilities, public colleges and universities so all can learn to live, play and work together? Indeed, research shows that early childhood is the ideal time for beginning to learn to respect differences and diversity by engaging with and getting to know children and adults of all varieties.

    Childcare as an inclusive community institution is great for families, as well as children. Childcare that’s responsive to the community can unite families from diverse origins through participation in common activities related to their children. This can demonstrate to adults and children that co-operation among social classes and ethnic groups is possible and valued. Thus, the idea of good childcare as an agent of social change that fosters social inclusion is an important aspect of a vision of Canadian childcare in the future, and one that is already embraced by many quality childcare programs. - Meanwhile, Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford examine the effect of increasing the minimum wage - which improves equality without affecting employment growth. And for good measure, Danny Vinik highlights a new U.S. study confirming the same point. 

    - Murray Dobbin writes about the Harper Cons' Orwellian foreign policy:
    Harper's amoral political calculations about who and when to bomb people has little to do with any genuine consideration of the geopolitical situation or what role Canada might usefully play -- or even in what Canada's "interests" are. So long as he is prime minister it will be the same: every calculation will be made with the single-minded goal of staying in power long enough to dismantle the post-war activist state. The nurturing of his core constituency includes appeals to a thinly disguised pseudo-crusade against Islamic infidels, a phony appeal to national security (preceded by fear-mongering) and in the case of Ukraine, a crude appeal to ethnic votes.

    Reinforcing this legacy is a mainstream media that lets him get away with it, and in particular, refuses to do its homework while the bombing -- or posturing -- is taking place and then refuses to expose the negative consequences of the reckless adventures. The result is what cultural critic Henry Giroux calls "the fog of historical and social amnesia."- And Frank Graves' issues chart likely explains the Cons' obsession with spreading fear at home and abroad, as "national security" and "crime" are the only issues where they seem to have any meaningful advantage over the other federal parties. But the good news is thatfewer and fewer Canadians are showing any interest in settling for what the Cons are offering.

    - Finally, Ryan Meili and Danyaal Raza make the case to make health impacts a central consideration in developing all kinds of public policies.

    Stephen Harper, the Terrorist Scare, and the Police State

    Montreal Simon - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 03:00

    I warned that Stephen Harper was looking for a way to scare Canadians, so he could try to stampede them into believing that only a Great Strong Leader like himself could save them.

    So he could use fear to try to save himself, and turn this broken country into a police state.

    Well today he got his "terrorist incident." 

    A 25-year-old man who injured two soldiers in a hit and run and was later fatally shot by police in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., was known to federal authorities as someone who had been "radicalized," according to the RCMP and the Prime Minister's Office.

    And the way he handled it, and some of the strange things that happened today, should make all Canadians wonder whether we're still living in a democracy.
    Read more »


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