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Big Brother is watching you

LeDaro - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 08:40
Big Brother Harper is watching you. Bill c 51.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 08:08
Assorted content to end your week.

- Joseph Stiglitz notes that the recent stock market turmoil may be most important for its effect in highlighting far more important economic weaknesses. And Richard McCormack discusses the link between stock buybacks, inequality and economic stagnation - meaning that a plan to eliminate loopholes for stock options may also have positive spillover effects for the economy as a whole.

- Barry Schwartz writes about the meaning of work, while noting that a focus on theoretical efficiency by eliminating all satisfaction from a work day may be leading to worse results for employers and employees alike:
(W)hen given the chance to make their work meaningful and engaging, employees jump at it, even if it means that they have to work harder. Such cases should serve to remind us there is a human cost to routinizing and depersonalizing work. Too often, instead of being able to take pride in what they do, and derive satisfaction from doing it well, workers have little to show for their efforts aside from their pay.
In the face of longstanding evidence that routinization and an overemphasis on pay lead to worse performance in the workplace, why have we continued to tolerate and even embrace that approach to work?

The answer, I think, is that the ideas of Adam Smith have become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: They gave rise to a world of work in which his gloomy assumptions about human beings became true. When you take all opportunities for meaning and engagement out of the work that people do, why would they work, except for the wage? What Smith and his descendants failed to realize is that rather than exploiting a fact about human nature, they were creating a fact about human nature.
The transformation I have in mind goes something like this: You enter an occupation with a variety of aspirations aside from receiving your pay. But then you discover that your work is structured so that most of those aspirations will be unmet. Maybe you’re a call center employee who wants to help customers solve their problems — but you find out that all that matters is how quickly you terminate each call. Or you’re a teacher who wants to educate kids — but you discover that only their test scores matter. Or you’re a corporate lawyer who wants to serve his client with care and professionalism — but you learn that racking up billable hours is all that really counts.
Pretty soon, you lose your lofty aspirations. And over time, later generations don’t even develop the lofty aspirations in the first place. Compensation becomes the measure of all that is possible from work. When employees negotiate, they negotiate for improved compensation, since nothing else is on the table. And when this goes on long enough, we become just the kind of creatures that Adam Smith thought we always were.
To be sure, people should be adequately compensated for their work. Recent efforts across the country to achieve a significant increase in the minimum wage represent real social progress. But in securing such victories for working people, we should not lose sight of the aspiration to make work the kind of activity people embrace, rather than the kind of activity they shun. - Tana Ganeva exposes how some of the lucky few most insulated from homelessness and poverty demean the people who struggle to face those obstacles every day. And Jeffrey Simpson theorizes that our politics are lacking for big ideas and generosity.

- Edward Keenan writes that the most disturbing aspect of the G20 police abuses was the eagerness with which the people responsible for maintaining social order abandoned any attempt to preserve democratic rights.

- Finally, Aaron Wherry discusses the "snowflake" organizational model which is developing as the alternative to top-down messaging. And that model may make for an interesting contrast against the Cons' most limited broadcasting structure yet, as candidates are being told not to engage with media, public debates or any other format which could possibly deviate from central messaging.

A Troubling Trend

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 06:45

Canadians have much to ponder before casting their ballots in October. Opinion polls tell us that the economy, healthcare and job creation are uppermost in their minds, all worthy topics to be sure. However, only 15% list Bill C-51, Harper's anti-terrorism legislation, as one of their top-five issues. More Canadians should be very, very concerned about it, given the disturbing international trends that are emerging as governments crack down on groups they feel threatened by.

Readers will recall that in addition to Bill C-51's troubling lack of oversight, there is a provision that could allow for mass arrests for protesters:
Within Bill C-51, the definition of what constitutes a threat to national security is broad and non-specific, making it difficult to understand how protesting in particular is affected. Any activities that undermine the security of Canada, including interfering with the economic or financial stability of Canada, are offences under Bill C-51.

This definition allows for a broad interpretation of what constitutes a threat to national security: a protest calling for action on missing and murdered Indigenous women that blocks a highway, or an environmental protest that fails to secure the proper permits, could warrant widespread arrests.A troubling worldwide trend demonstrates a solid basis for fears about Bill C-51's misuse, as reported in The Guardian.
Over the past three years, more than 60 countries have passed or drafted laws that curtail the activity of non-governmental and civil society organisations. Ninety-six countries have taken steps to inhibit NGOs from operating at full capacity, in what the Carnegie Endowment calls a “viral-like spread of new laws” under which international aid groups and their local partners are vilified, harassed, closed down and sometimes expelled.Parenthetically, one cannot help but think of the politically-motivated CRA audits of groups in Canada that disagree with government policies, which I have written about extensively on this blog.

The Guardian piece reports some very disturbing findings by Amnesty International:
“There are new pieces of legislation almost every week – on foreign funding, restrictions in registration or association, anti-protest laws, gagging laws. And, unquestionably, this is going to intensify in the coming two to three years. You can visibly watch the space shrinking.”The list of countries involved in repression of civil society groups and NGOs is extensive, ranging from unsurprising states such as India, China, Russia and Egypt to Israel, Ecuador and Hungary.

Consider the following examples among putative democracies:

Israeli NGOs critical of the government – in particular the country’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territories – are facing severe new restrictions amid a toxic political climate on the right that has sought to label them as disloyal.

A draft law seeks to cut off foreign funding by introducing a tax and labelling NGOs with external finance as “foreign agents” receiving funds from foreign governments to continue their work.

Some of Israel’s best-known human rights groups – including B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former soldiers that highlights alleged military human rights abuses – are likely to be affected.Ecuador
Pachamama, an organisation that supports indigenous groups and campaigns for the conservation of biodiversity, was one of the first to feel the force of the clampdown on NGOs and civil society organisations by the government of President Rafael Correa.

A few months after executive decree 16 was issued in June 2013, Pachamama was closed down for having violated the order, in what Mario Melo, the foundation’s lawyer, calls a “tainted and invalid administrative process where Pachamama wasn’t given the right to defend itself”.Hungary
Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s populist prime minister, has called for the monitoring of certain “foreign-funded civil society organisations” that he describes as “agents of foreign powers”.

The targeted NGOs – referred to as “the dirty 13” in pro-government media, and including Transparency International, the Civil Liberties Union and the Roma Press Centre – received letters demanding two years of financial and administrative documentation within one week.We live in a world deeply infected with a neoliberal agenda. Groups that interfere with that agenda are being widely targeted. Given the repressive measures that the Harper regime has consistently taken throughout its tenure, measures that include the muzzling of scientists, the defunding and dismantling of environmental oversight, the CRA audits the provisions of Bill C-51, and the terrible police abuse of citizens during the Toronto G20, we should all be very wary about casting our ballots lightly.

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They've Read Leo Strauss

Northern Reflections - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 06:15


Stephen Harper has become a law unto himself. The evidence, Michael Harris writes, is incontrovertible:

The evidence from the near past is damning enough: Found in contempt of Parliament; breaking his own elections law; sending unconstitutional legislation to the Supreme Court; passing retroactive laws to make the illegal legal; publicly attacking the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; forcing out Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commissioner for following the statute governing her agency; dumping the Parliamentary Budget Officer for correcting the government’s false program costings; usurping some of the constitutional functions of the Governor-General; and passing legislation to punish political enemies such as unions and environmentalists.
But on the day that Chris Woodcock testified, Harper's disregard for the rules was on full display:

Only a leader with a sense of narcissistic exceptionalism could send a senior PMO staffer (and now campaign worker), to engage in a conversation with a sworn witness during a recess at a criminal trial. After all, Harper and his own office are smack in the middle of this evidentiary mud bath. What’s next, a visit to the judge’s chambers?
No appearance of witness tampering here. It's not a problem for a man and an office which lacks a conscience. Consider Woodcock's performance on the stand:

Woodcock inadvertently gave Canadians an insight into the blank-screen amorality at the heart of Harper’s political operation. He admitted to being ethically uncomfortable about “locking in” the Deloitte audit as part of the plan to contain the Duffy expense scandal. But when Bayne asked him if he’d said anything about those ethical misgivings, he replied no. Why would he?

Woodcock said he didn’t have the slightest problem with crafting those political lies known in Harperland as “communications lines” to make it appear that Duffy was repaying the money. This is a say-anything-do-anything crowd. Don’t forget, Nigel Wright himself divided lies into good and bad “misrepresentations”.

To them, there are clearly important and unimportant deceptions. How are Canadians to trust people like that?
Some lies are perfectly acceptable. Obviously, they've read Leo Strauss and taken his advice. And that's why they have to be turfed.

Identity theft

LeDaro - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 05:39

I have heard a lot about identity theft but thank God I have not experienced it. A friend tells me that he received over 200 e-mails from a blogger whose blog name I know. He said he tried to check sender's e-mail address and it showed 'no-reply' e-mail. After that he deleted all the e-mails without checking the message as he was so shocked. He is considering to alert the police.

Blogger whose name appeared as a sender is not that type of person and I don't think he will do such a thing and looks he does not know about it.

Has it happened to anyone else? It is very worrisome.

The Con Regime Goes After the Man Who Wrote Harperman

Montreal Simon - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 04:11

About two months ago I played this gentle, joyful song of resistance aimed at the depraved dictator Stephen Harper and his criminal Con regime.

It was written and performed by Toby Turner a scientist at Environment Canada. And I thought it was great. I liked the music and the lyrics, especially the chorus.

We want you gone (gone, gone) 
You and your pawn (pawn, pawns)
No more con (con, cons)
Time to move on (on, on)
Get out of town (town, town )
Don’t want you round (round, round)
Harperman, it’s time for you to go.

So you can imagine how I felt when I read that Toby Turner has become the latest victim of that monstrous regime.
Read more »

The Incredible Cowardice of the Mad King Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 18:54

He is already the best protected Prime Minister in Canadian history. Wherever he goes he is surrounded by an army of RCMP bodyguards.

His motorcade of sinister black vehicles is as big or bigger than Obama's secret service convoys.

No ordinary Canadians can get anywhere near him. Only Con supporters who have been vetted by his office.

But even that isn't enough to reassure our cowardly mad king.
Read more »

On final choices

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 17:30
Following up on this post and some additional discussion, let's take a look at the question of what options would be available to Stephen Harper if he decided he wanted to escape a drubbing at the polls by cancelling the federal election. And fortunately, the answer looks to be "not much".

The Canada Elections Act does allows for a writ to be withdrawn, but only with some important limitations (emphasis added):
59. (1) The Governor in Council may order the withdrawal of a writ for any electoral district for which the Chief Electoral Officer certifies that by reason of a flood, fire or other disaster it is impracticable to carry out the provisions of this Act.
(2) If the Governor in Council orders the withdrawal of a writ, the Chief Electoral Officer shall publish a notice of the withdrawal in the Canada Gazette and issue a new writ ordering an election within three months after publication of the notice.
(3) The day named in the new writ for polling day may not be later than three months after the issue of the new writ.The key point in this section is that an order to withdraw a writ is available only based on the Chief Electoral Officer's determination that it's impracticable to proceed with an election. And the limitation by "electoral district" is also likely to be significant, as it reflects an intention to account for local disasters rather than a desire for a do-over across the country.

Now, Harper might try either to claim some inherent authority to stop an election in its tracks, or to bully the Chief Electoral Officer into interpreting the provision extremely broadly. But it's doubtful that either the Chief Electoral Officer or Governor General would go along with those types of moves in the face of what the law says (particularly in the absence of any statement that discretion is reserved).

The more real danger is then that rather than using a message of fear to avoid the election altogether, he'd instead try to lean on the last issue where he's had any success turning public opinion in his favour over the last couple of years.

But the example where that's worked may limit the possibility of a repeat performance. After all, the Cons (with the Libs' support) were able to impose their own choice of limitations on rights in the name of security by passing C-51. So an actual attack or threat would only serve as an indictment of the Cons' failure to accomplish what they promised.

Alternatively, the Cons could be planning for an announcement of arrests or C-51 "disruptions" as a means of claiming success. But that would only go so far in changing the subject, particularly if the public has already tuned Harper and his party out for other reasons.

In sum, while we need to watch out for fearmongering as the last arrow in Harper's quiver, it's not clear that it will serve either as an excuse to avoid the polls or a major factor in shifting votes.

Bitter Truth

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 13:47
This is the butchery Paul Manly stood up against - and it cost him the NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

One thing is for sure. If Mulcair becomes prime minister, Canada will sure as hell not be part of the "international process" to bring Israel to account.

Stephen Harper's dance moves

LeDaro - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 12:52
Needs more practice.

Earl (cat) for PM advertisement 1892

LeDaro - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 12:34

Interesting. Cruelty to animals must stop.

Props Wanted. Great Pay and Benefits.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 12:18
So it's come to this. Apparently feeling the sting of Canadian combat vets angry with Steve Harper and vowing to do everything in their power to run him out of Ottawa, the Tories are trying to recruit veterans willing to appear with the prime minister.

The email appears to have been written by Kris Sims, who is on leave from her role as director of communications for Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole in order to work for the party during the campaign.

In it, she asks to be connected with ex-soldiers who are willing to appear on camera and prepared "to say in their own words why (Stephen) Harper is the best choice for Canada, based on their military experience and the threats we face in the world."

I'll Vote "No" on Strategic Voting.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 12:07
Quick trip to Victoria yesterday to buy a jacket for my daughter's pending wedding. I rode the great yellow Beast and, even with end of summer traffic, there was room to get a little adrenalin going.

The province of Vancouver Island has this one highway that runs from Victoria in the extreme south that connects the city to Nanaimo, my town, Courtney/Comox, Campbell River and on all the way to the northern reaches at Port Hardy. One highway, just the one. Which makes it predictable that the highway is the place you'll see who is running for which party and where.

This island has been a bastion of strength for the NDP and, judging by the sheer number of signs, that's not going to change except up.  The Greens are out in force, second only to the New Dems in signage. The Liberal presence is desultory at best. The big change is the Conservatives. They had more signage than the Libs but not by much and certainly not nearly what we saw in previous elections.

It was great to see so many Paul Manly campaign signs as I transited through the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding. He's an island boy by birth from Port Alice way up north. He was raised a New Dem, the son of former NDP MP, Jim Manly. He's a pretty impressive guy and was on his way to being the next NDP MP from his riding until he was denied permission to seek the nomination by Team Mulcair. It seems Paul committed the mortal sin of standing up and speaking out for the Palestinians. Can't be having that, not with the Thatcher-loving, Harper-courting, ex-Liberal, market fundamentalist neoliberal,Likudnik Tom "I'll bend any principle for a vote" Mulcair running the show.

But Manly found a better home. He's running for the Greens and he might just steal the riding from the Dippers. That would make me happy, very happy for Manly and for the Green Party.

One of the main reasons I left the Liberals was their unbalanced support of Israel and Ignatieff's pre-absolution for the atrocities in the last Gaza outrage. Now Mulcair's Latter-Day-Liberals are singing the same hymns out of the very same book. If I left the party I had supported for forty years because of that, I'm certainly not going to be tossing my vote into Mulcair's bucket this time around.

As I was carving corners crossing the Malahat I began rethinking this strategic voting business, giving it a second chance in my mind. The Dippers relentlessly hector Greens that voting for our party is tantamount to supporting Harper's re-election. Bollocks!

I'm voting Green not to make a point. It's not a protest vote. Maybe it won't get the Green candidate elected in my riding. I don't care. I'm voting Green because it's the only party I can vote for. I don't want to vote for Mulcair or for Trudeau and, obviously, I don't want to vote for Harper. A pox on them all and their parties.

The New Dems may have abandoned just about every principle that Tommy Douglas stood for, they don't eat in the kitchen any longer, but there's one thing they still cling to - working over every other party and that includes sniping at the Greens and their leader. And having done that, I'm supposed to vote for Mulcair? After what he did to Paul Manly? I'm supposed to vote Likudnik?

No, I don't think so. My Green Party lawn signs should be up before sundown tomorrow. This election could be far more important to the Green Party than the ABC crowd would like to acknowledge. That's their problem.

Some Comeuppance For The Minister of Democratic 'Reform'

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 11:23
The minister responsible for the Unfair Elections Act, Pierre Poilievre, has finally gotten a taste of his own medicine. In the following you will hear a telemarketer calling on behalf of his campaign being answered by 'Lenny,' a software program that manages to tie her up for about 11 minutes.
Lenny, in essence, picks up calls and answers them with pre-recorded audio clips from a doddering Australian man, sometimes keeping telemarketers on the phone for over 20 minutes.
The clips include non-sequiturs, complaints that he can’t hear the caller, and extended reflections about one of his daughter’s academic achievements. At one point he even chases away ducks.You don't have to listen to the entire clip to make your day. Enjoy:

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On statements of values

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 11:04
It's true that a party's policy book is not the same as its election platform.

But it's also true that there is more to a party than a single campaign or platform. And considering that the difference between a policy book and a platform can be pointed out in a single sentence, I'm hard-pressed to see what the NDP stands to gain by limiting access to the policy goals developed by its members.

On needless machinery

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 10:34
Those of us who have seen the Libs focus much of this year on criticizing the Cons' partisan advertising might be rather surprised to learn they don't think there's any room to cut or redirect any current federal spending, and in fact consider it offensive that anybody might suggest such room exists.

But on a closer look, there's actually a consistent theme behind the Libs' message. While their petition on advertising criticizes the Cons for wasteful spending, it doesn't promise to change anything other than to create a new commissioner position to oversee future publicity - meaning that it could simply increase the cost of continuing ad spending.

So let's see if we can summarize the opposition parties' take on the hundreds of millions of dollars the Cons have spent on government advertising.

The NDP sees a waste of public money which could be put to better uses, and asks "why not stop?"

On the other hand, the Libs refuse to consider whether cuts might be appropriate, and ask "why not pay more?"

So which of those seems like the more appropriate response? It's up to Canadians to decide.

Keep Quiet - Chess Master At Work

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 08:12
Yessiree, Stephen Harper's choice to impose a longer election period rather than waiting to see whether his party would have a shred of credibility left after the PMO went under the microscope looks more brilliant by the day.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 07:53
Here, on Donna Harpauer and the Saskatchewan Party are dismissing their own advisory group's recommendation to work to cut Saskatchewan poverty in half by the end of the decade.

For further reading...
- The StarPhoenix echoes Donna Harpauer's defeatism.
- Danielle Martin and Ryan Meili make the case for a basic income, which appears as one of the advisory group's recommendations. 
- And for a review of the multiplier effects of different fiscal choices, see Mark Zandi's analysis here (PDF) - showing infrastructure spending and income supports accomplishing far more than tax cuts or corporate giveaways.


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